The Obligation of Perfect and Perpetual Continence and Married Deacons in the Latin Church
by Rev. Anthony McLaughlin, J.C.D.
Through the reception of diaconate a man becomes a cleric. Canon 277 §1 states: “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy….” Accordingly, it would seem that clerics have two distinct obligations: sexual continence (no sexual relations) and celibacy (no marriage) with continence presented as the fundamental norm. With the restoration of the permanent diaconate by Paul VI in 1967 and the admission of married men to this order, a fundamental question arises: “Are married deacons, though dispensed from the obligation of celibacy, unless their wife dies, obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence?” This book addresses that question.
A Review of Father Anthony McLaughlin’s The Obligation of Perfect and Perpetual Continence And Married Deacons in the Latin Church by Deacon Marty McIndoe
As a Permanent Deacon ordained in 1980, I was intrigued by the title of this work. I knew that perpetual continence meant abstaining from all sexual relations, and nowhere in my training as a deacon was I told that was an obligation. I have been happily married for 49 years, and sexual intimacy has been a very important part of my relationship to my wife. I would find it hard to believe that the Church would ever mandate that a married deacon be continent. If that were the case, I would never have considered becoming a deacon. I do realize that by becoming a married permanent deacon, I was taking on the obligation of celibacy if my wife were to die. I thought hard about that, and felt that hopefully it wouldn’t happen, and if it did, I would have the grace to do what I was obliged to do. I see practical and spiritual reasons for celibacy. I see no practical or even spiritual reasons for continence in a happily married young couple. I was one of the youngest members of my class to be ordained. I was dispensed of the 35-year-old requirement and was ordained at age 33. I have been ordained for almost 38 years, and I absolutely love my ministry as deacon. My wife is a big help in my ministry and I give thanks for the gift that she is to me and to my vocation as a deacon.
I received an advanced e-copy of this book and was asked to read and review it. As soon as I saw the title, I knew that I wanted to. I found this work to be extremely interesting and exceptionally well-researched. The book spends a considerable amount of time looking at how celibacy, chastity and continence developed in the Church from the New Testament times to the present day. It refers back to scriptures, traditions, early church writers, modern theologians, council documents and canon law. It is probably the most thorough writing on celibacy, chastity, and continence that I have ever encountered. If you want to know more about the Church’s development of the concepts of chastity, celibacy and continence, this is the book to read. It also deals with related issues such as marriage and procreation.
After reading this piece, I see that there still exists more clarification needed from the Church on what she did in making permanent married deacons. There is no doubt that ordaining married deacons has been a great benefit to the Church. The fruits of this can be seen in so many places. However, this is a big diversion from the traditional norms of the Church concerning celibacy, chastity, and continence. Having married clergy who are not continent is something quite new, at least on the scale of the current permanent diaconate. Married clergy is not new to the Church, but they have previously been required to be continent. Even the latest canon law is unclear and in at least one place seems to mandate that permanent deacons remain continent. This is not what is presently taught and practiced and apparently not what the Vatican Council seems to have meant in creating the married permanent diaconate. It is an intriguing quandary.
I would certainly recommend that anyone who is interested in looking at the development of celibacy, chastity and continence within the Church read this book. I also believe that permanent deacons would especially be interested in this book. Since considerable amount of time is spent on canon law, I would think that anyone interested in, or studying canon law should read this book.
“Fr. Anthony’s book is a great help in understanding the commitment being made by those who answer the call to the permanent diaconate. — Fr. Luis Luna, MSA, General Animator of the Missionaries of the Holy Apostles
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rev. Anthony McLaughlin, J.C.D., a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, has served Holy Apostles as its Vice Rector and as Professor of Canon Law and Homiletics since 2017.
Fr. McLaughlin was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Tyler, TX, in 1997 and most recently served as Vicar General of the diocese and President of Tyler’s Bishop Gorman Catholic School.
He previously served as Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, Judicial Vicar of the diocese, judge of the diocesan tribunal and Defender of the Bond.
During the 2014-2015 academic year, Fr. McLaughlin returned to CUA as assistant professor of Canon Law and director of the Institute on Matrimonial Tribunal Practice.
OTHER ACADEMIC BOOKS
The Art of Accompaniment: Practical Steps for the Seminary Formator by Sister Marysia Weber, RSM The role of a seminary formator is to accompany the seminarian in the external forum and to discern with him, the seminary community, and larger Church...read more
The Wise Guy and the Fool: A Philosophical Odyssey from Modern Error to Truth, authored by Matthew D’Antuono
COMING SOON! The Wise Guy and the Fool by Matthew D’Antuono This is not a textbook on philosophy. It is not an essay on philosophy. It is not a treatise on philosophy. This book is more like philosophical entertainment and illustration: a...read more
Social Media Magisterium: A No-Nonsense Guide to the Proper Use of Media by Shaun McAfee The positive influence of the media, new and old, is seen through the expansion of Catholic networks that span over 150 countries, and more, allowing the gospel and Christian...read more
COMING SOON! Missionary Priests in the Homeland: Our Call to Receive by Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP, and Bishop Richard Henning International priests have served the Roman Catholic Church in the United States since its inception. With...read more
COMING SOON! The Thomist Tradition: Avoiding Scylla and Charybdis by Dr. Donald Boland As with every great philosopher and theologian, the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, though perhaps the clearest expressed of all, has inevitably been subject...read more
COMING SOON! Eastern Civilization from a Catholic Viewpoint by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA, STD Eastern Civilization from a Catholic Viewpoint traces the history of East and South East Asia from ancient times to modern times. In the process,...read more
COMING SOON! East and South East Asian History by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA East and South East Asian History studies the historical development of countries that make up East Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea)...read more
COMING SOON! Western Civilization from the End of the Renaissance to Modern Times by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA This book presents the history of Western Civilization from the end of the Renaissance to Modern and the so-called Post-Modern...read more
COMING SOON! Western Civilization from Prehistorical Times to the Protestant Reformation by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA Western Civilization owes a debt of gratitude to three ancient civilizations: Jewish, Greek, and Roman. The first half of...read more
The Eclipse of God: Is Religion on the Way Out? by Gerard Verschuuren This book was specifically written for all those who feel lost in a world dominated by ideologies that obscure God. It is hard to pinpoint one particular cause of how we feel in such...read more
COMING SOON! Trinity Footprints by Roger Skrenes God’s footprints are revealed in the 3 in1 characteristic of his Being.This book will examine signs of the triune God in our world. Paperback $14.95 | Kindle $9.95 INTERVIEWS...read more
COMING SOON! Contemporary Sacred: Conversations on Art & Faith by Dr. Michela Ferri In translation now from the Italian. Buy it in the original language here: What is the so-called “Contemporary Sacred Art”? In her book, Michela Beatrice Ferri...read more
COMING SOON! Check back when this book is published. TESTIMONIALS COMING SOON ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP, is Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Holy Apostles College & Seminary in Cromwell, CT. He first...read more
A Fool’s Errand: A Brief, Informal Introduction to Philosophy for Young Catholics by Matthew D’Antuono What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of existence? Why am I here? What is real happiness? The big questions. Are there answers to these...read more
Voyage to Insight by Dr. Ronda Chervin En Route Books and Media has reprinted Ronda Chervin and Lois Janis’ book Voyage to Insight with fresh, exciting graphics. It can be read straight through or you can add your own insights into the book and even...read more
Economic Science and St. Thomas Aquinas: On Justice in the Distribution and Exchange of Wealth by Dr. Donald Boland This is a book on what is perhaps the most burning and urgent of social issues of our times, namely, the relationship between the science of...read more
Refractions of Light: 201 Answers on Apparitions, Visions and the Catholic Church by Kevin Symonds For the past several decades, there has been a notable rise in claims of apparitions, visions and messages from heaven. This growth has often led to...read more
Weeping with Jesus: The Journey from Grief to Hope by Dr. Ronda Chervin In the past the word grief was used only to describe the sorrow of loss through death. Nowadays pain coming from other kinds of losses such as rejection and divorce are also seen to...read more
Bereavement Miracles by Michael Frey The Bereavement Miracles program was designed to play a quintessential role in evangelizing the “spirit of mission” to individuals who are suffering from the death of a loved one by relating eternal realities in a...read more
In Praise of Life by Dr. Donald DeMarco This book illustrates how ten different factors can improve our appreciation of life: Evolution prepares it, Meaning justifies it, Love enhances it, Truth directs it, Freedom crowns it, Virtue strengthens it,...read more
How to Flourish in a Fallen World by Dr. Donald DeMarco How to Flourish in a Fallen World, by Donald DeMarco, engages the reader in an understanding of our common human nature and the problems it faces in a culture that actively pursues, to put it in Saint...read more
Feminine, Free and Faithful by Dr. Ronda Chervin Should women be feminine and forget about liberation? Or should they reject femininity as a euphemism for slavery? Women seeking fulfillment, says Chervin, aren’t faced with this either-or, but with the...read more
Catholic Realism: A Framework for the Refutation of Atheism and the Evangelization of Atheists by Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP, and Dr. Ronda Chervin
Catholic Realism: A Framework for the Refutation of Atheism and the Evangelization of Atheists by Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP, and Dr. Ronda Chervin Atheism is in revival. Many in the 21st Century lack a belief in a supernatural Creator. This requires an...read more
A Not-So-Elementary Christian Metaphysics, Volume 2: An Introduction to Ragamuffin Thomism by Dr. Peter Redpath Nothing short of a metaphysical disturbance and metaphysical revolution of the highest order can resolve the West’s and the world’s current...read more
A Not-So-Elementary Christian Metaphysics, Volume 1: Written in the Hope of Ending the Centuries-old Separation between Philosophy and Science and Science and Wisdom
A Not-So-Elementary Christian Metaphysics, Volume 1: Written in the Hope of Ending the Centuries-old Separation between Philosophy and Science and Science and Wisdom by Dr. Peter Redpath This book’s chief aim is novel and radical: to reunite philosophy,...read more
Spirituality for All Times: Readings from the Catholic Classics Spirituality for All Times is offered in the hope that it will inspire those who seek a deeper union with God. The authors have chosen to offer short selections to enable the reader to wade in...read more
The Jesus Code: In the Beginning was the Word by Roger Skrenes Jesus is the only person in the history of the world whose biography was known before he was born! He wanted everyone on earth to know of this miraculous Old Testament portrait of himself (Luke...read more
The Path of Spiritual Happiness by Dr. Heather M. Erb This book is a story of the unfolding triumph of Christian happiness as a philosophy of life. We begin with ancient Greek roots and principles provided us by Aristotle, ‘the master of those who know.’...read more
Mary, the Beloved by Keith Berube The Magisterium of the Catholic Church teaches that Mary, the Mother of God, is a grace-filled, flesh and blood woman, who unsurpassingly loves each of us by name. Mary, the Beloved, affirms that teaching, providing a...read more
Eyewitnesses: Biblical Foundations in Christian Spirituality – Ed. by Fr. John Horn, S.J. St. Paul prays with ardent desire that “the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened, that we might know what is the hope of the risen Jesus’ calling, and what...read more
The Way of Love: The Path of Inner Transformation by Dr. Ronda Chervin A reprint of Dr. Ronda's The Way of Love: The Battle for Inner Transformation, this new edition under a new subtitle puts back in front of the world the nature of human love alongside...read more
On the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima by Kevin J. Symonds For several decades, there has been much discussion on the famous third part of the secret of Fátima. Originally communicated to the three seers of Fátima in July, 1917, it was not written down...read more
The Moral Psychology of St. Thomas Aquinas: An Introduction to Ragamuffin Ethics by Dr. Peter Redpath Through a radical reinterpretation of classical philosophy as an organizational psychology, The Moral Psychology of St. Thomas: An Introduction to...read more
The Human Person: A Bioethical Word by Francis Etheredge Is bioethics a technical specialization or a profound expression of human being? Wonderfully answering this question, the book is beautifully enriched by eight Forewords. Beginning again and again,...read more
Faith and Reason: The Cradle of Truth by Dr. Gerard M. Verschuuren Of course, it’s a travesty, but a very widely held one. We all have heard how some people caricature religious believers. On weekdays, they are critical, want proofs, look for arguments,...read more
Fun is Not Enough by Fr. Francis Canavan, SJ Francis Canavan, S.J., was a professor of political science, a leading Edmund Burke scholar, and an essayist whose thoughts on faith, politics, and culture earned him accolades from many prominent Catholic minds...read more
History of the Eucharist by Roger Skrenes The Eucharist is not a topic of the moment. Like any good teacher, God took “his time” in revealing the Eucharist slowly, step by step, throughout Biblical history. In this history there are two main tracks: 1) the...read more
Political Science from a Catholic Perspective by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA Today, many specializations within the field of political science identify it particularly as a social science, and these are namely political theory, government and politics,...read more
A Brief Historical Survey of Marian Devotion and Theology by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA This book surveys the historical development of Marian belief and devotion by the Holy Spirit through the Church. How Mary was prepared and foreshadowed in the Old...read more
God as Father and Priests as Fathers, Brothers, Bridegrooms, and Disciples by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA The vocation to the priesthood does not simply entail doing specific actions that only priests can perform. Being a priest essentially means being...read more
Catholic Church History: Pre-Christian to Modern Times by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA Catholic Church History: Pre-Christian to Modern Times presents how the Catholic Church developed from her earliest days up to modern times. The reader will encounter the...read more
Catholic Apologetics: Witnessing to and Defending the Faith by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA Catholic Apologetics teaches a budding apologist how to effectively witness to and defend the faith. We begin with a presentation of virtues an apologist is to...read more
Does God Exist? A Socratic Dialogue on the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas by Matt Fradd and Robert Delfino If you want an easy and fun way to understand St. Thomas Aquinas’s five arguments for the existence of God, this book is for you. Written as dialogue...read more
The First Christians: Keeping the Faith in Times of Trouble by Gerard Verschuuren In this book, we speak about these first Christians mainly through the people who gave them a voice and a compass: the Church Fathers. They were their leaders and their...read more
Parish Management and Operations: The Buck Stops Here by Michael A. Brinda How often have we heard the sayings, “It’s harder than it looks” and “If it were easy everyone would be doing it”? These sayings were never more appropriate than when they are...read more
Minor Setback or Major Disaster? The Rise and Demise of Minor Seminaries in the United States, 1958-1983
Minor Setback or Major Disaster? The Rise and Demise of Minor Seminaries in the United States, 1958-1983 by Fr. Robert Anello, MSA Interested in how this happened? "Catholic Ministry Formation Enrollment: Statistical Overview for 2017-2018," Center for...read more