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WHY NO PERMANENT DEACONS in the SYRO MALABAR CHURCH? Denaha Endowment Lecture.
|Part I - Syro Malabar Church
|Aramaic Way of Thinking- LOST IN TRANSLATION : Dr. Joseph Palackal, CMI.
|Place of Recording
|Denha Lecture at DVK Bangaluru
|Date of Recording
|Video Segment (s)
Reset the Discourse on India from a Christian Perspective - Part VI
Reinstate Permanent Deacons in Syro Malabar Church.
DENHA Endowment Lecture, DVK Bangaluru (2014) by Dr. Joseph J. Palackal, CMI.
Reinstate permanent deacons : Joseph J. Palackal, CMI.
From matters concerning liturgical texts, let us move on to a more serious topic. A re-reading of the Syriac thaksā should lead to the reinstatement of permanent deacons in the Syro Malabar Church. The Chaldean liturgy that we inherited requires the deacon to serve as the master of ceremony. The deacon acts as an instructor and interpreter of the action that is going on at the bēma and the sanctuary; he also acts as a mediator between the celebrant and the community. Such a role is reserved to a man who has received a major ordination. At some point in time, the Syro Malabar Church stopped the practice of ordaining permanent deacons. Consequently, the current Malayalam thaksâ does not mention the word Deacon, or its Syriac equivalent. Instead, the thaksâ refers to the deacon’s role merely as śuśrūshi/server, i. e., someone who assists the celebrant. More often than not, the role is assigned to young altar servers who are not mature enough to understand or undertake the responsibilities of a deacon.
After prolonged deliberation, the Syro Malabar Church officially reopened its doors to permanent deacons in 2013 through the Code of Particular Law (Part I, Title VI, Articles 55-86). The reinstatement, however, is left to the discretion of the eparchial bishop, depending on his perception of “the need of the eparchy.” Article 56 of the Code reads: “The eparchial bishop having considered the need of the eparchy and having consulted the eparchial pastoral council and presbyteral council decides whether permanent deacons are to be ascribed to his eparchy.” In other words, Article 56 does not mandate the eparchial bishop to reinstate permanent deacons, but only recommends to do so if, and only if, he thinks that their services are needed in his diocese. The argument that every liturgical celebration, according to the Chaldean rite, requires the service of a deacon does not seem to have impressed the code writers. In view of the particular history and situation of the Syro Malabar Church, the restoration of married priesthood may or may not happen in the near future, but the restoration of permanent deacons, married or otherwise, should normally go with the restoration of the liturgy.