Denver, Colo., Dec 15, 2009 / 15:16 pm America/Denver (CNA).
This morning the Vatican published a Motu Proprio from Pope Benedict called “Omnium in Mentem” and dated October 26. According to J.D. Flynn, a canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Denver, the new document clarifies the nature of a deacon's orders and the impact of defections from Catholicism on the validity of a marriage.
“Omnium in Mentum,” roughly translated as “Everything in Mind,” deals with two unrelated topics, a fact that caused Flynn to observe that it's probably easier to publish one Motu Propio than two.
Writing in an explanatory note for the Motu Proprio, Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, commented on the modified canons (1008, 1009, 1086, 1117 and 1124). These variations, he said, "concern two separate questions: adapting the text of the canons that define the ministerial function of deacons … and suppressing a subordinate clause in three canons concerning marriage, which experience has shown to be inappropriate."
The first issue addressed by the Motu Propio is the role of the diaconate.
Part of the current canon “describes sacred orders as participating in the headship of Christ,” Flynn explained. “The Motu Proprio clarifies that priests and bishops participate in the headship of Christ 'in persona Christi,' whereas deacons serve the Church, the people of God, through the ministry, services, or 'diaconias' of liturgy, word, and charity.” Thus, Flynn said, the document emphasizes that there is a “clear distinction between the diaconate and the presbyterate.”