Vatican announces changes to canon law on deacons, marriage

Pope Benedict has made two changes in canon law, regarding marriage for those who have formally renounced the Church, and clarifying the ministry of deacons.

The changes came in a 'motu proprio' entitled 'Omnium in mentem' (In the Mind of All).

Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts,  explains in a note: these variations "concern two separate questions: adapting the text of the canons that define the ministerial function of deacons to the relative text in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1581), and suppressing a subordinate clause in three canons concerning marriage, which experience has shown to be inappropriate."

The variation to the text of Canon 1008 will now limit itself to affirming that "those who receive the Sacrament of Orders are destined to serve the People of God with a new and specific title," Cardinal Coccopalmiero explained.

It will be specified that "the minister constituted into the Order of the episcopate or the priesthood receives the mission and power to act in the person of Christ the Head, while deacons receive the faculty to serve the People of God in the diaconates of the liturgy, of the Word and of charity."

Archbishop Coccopalmerio's note then goes on to explain that the other changes contained in the Motu Proprio all concern the elimination of the clause "actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia Catholica" contained in canons 1086 para. 1, 1117 and 1124.

This clause, "following much study, was held to be unnecessary and inappropriate," he writes.

Commentators say the effect will be to make remarriage easier for those who had formally left the Church but now wish to remarry in the Church.

Source: VIS