Letters of Commendation
Should the Office receive a letter commending a deacon for his good service or outstanding performance, the letter will be acknowledged and a copy of the letter will be forwarded to the deacon himself along with an appropriate comment from the Office.
Letters of Complaint
If the communication is addressed to or received first by the Office, the Director or Associate will contact the complaining party to acknowledge receipt of the complaint. The complainant will be informed that the matter will only be brought to the attention of the deacon if the complainant is willing to allow the Director to share the content of the complaint with the deacon in question; and further, that the Director be allowed to reveal the identity of the complainant. If the Director or his designee believes revealing the name could further aggravate the situation between the complainant and the deacon, the complainant’s name may not be revealed to the deacon. The Director will speak to the deacon in question who will be given the opportunity to respond. The Director or Associate Director of Clergy Personnel will decide upon investigation of the complaint whether it warrants being placed in the deacon’s file. The deacon would have knowledge that the letter is being placed in his file. He would be permitted to attach a letter of explanation to it.
There is no special immunity from acute emotional, psychological, spiritual distress or from addictive disorders for deacons. The Archdiocese officially recognizes alcoholism, other forms of substance abuse, and severe mental illness and/or personality disorders as manifestations of human illness. Such individuals are viewed as sick persons entitled to understanding and help.
The primary objective and concern of this policy is to relieve pain and suffering, restore health and dignity, and return affected deacons to productive and rewarding involvement in their ministry.
It is anticipated that each such deacon, upon satisfactory completion of a treatment program, will be given an official assignment compatible, insofar as possible, with his ability and needs. This may mean that the deacon will remain in his present assignment or when appropriate, receive a reassignment.
The implementation of this policy shall be conducted in a confidential manner. Matters of Sexual Abuse of Minors will follow the policies established by the Archdiocese in the document “A Statement of Policy for the Protection of Children and Youth”.
A crisis situation exists when an individual’s behavior repeatedly interferes with the proper performance of his duties, reduces his dependability, impairs his interpersonal relations, affects his health and/or discredits his office. In the case of alcohol or other forms of substance abuse, the problem is not always determined in terms of volume or frequency but rather in terms of its effect upon behavior and function.
An afflicted person is not always able to diagnose himself and volunteer for treatment. The responsibility for active intervention rests with deacon associates, supervisors, and others as well as the deacon himself. The earlier a problem is recognized, the more effectively it can be treated. Therefore, it is critical for associates and supervisors and others to confront the deacon when therapeutic measures are still feasible. Should an associate or supervisor or other person be unsure of his responsibility to confront the affected deacon, he should consult with a Vicar Bishop or the Director or Associate Director of Clergy Personnel.
A deacon takes an Oath of Permanency at the time of Ordination stating that he will serve in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. If circumstances change for him and his family and he chooses to move from the diocese, thus terminating his assignment, the deacon should notify the office of his pending departure. He must write the Archbishop requesting permission to live outside of the jurisdiction of the diocese. The letter should indicate the reason for the departure as well as the intention to remain a deacon of the Archdiocese while residing in another diocese.
When a deacon incardinated in another diocese accepts some ministerial assignment sponsored by, or within the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archbishop, through the Director of Clergy Personnel, is to be notified with the following information: name, age, diocese of incardination, position to which assigned, and probable length of assignment. The notification must indicate the reasons for the deacon’s desire to work outside his own diocese, his qualifications, and a specified length of time for work within the Archdiocese of Baltimore, for the position to which assigned. It must also include a copy of an official letter from the Diocesan Bishop of the deacon’s diocese giving permission to seek a ministerial assignment in another diocese. The Division of Clergy Personnel will implement the faculty granting process. Any additional screening will be determined by the Division of Clergy Personnel (e.g fingerprinting, etc.)
A deacon seeking incardination shall have lived and exercised ministry in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for a minimum of three years before his application will be given official review. After one year of full-time service the deacon may apply in written form if he wishes. This year will be counted toward the three-year requirement, but a final recommendation on his application will not be made until a total of three years has been served. A minimum of one year must elapse between formal application and the official review. In all instances, evaluations will be completed and response on approval/acceptance or rejection will be given within five years of the reception of the deacon’s written request.
The Deacon Personnel Board will conduct the necessary review of applications and make recommendations to the Archbishop of Baltimore. The Office will seek references from the deacon’s Diocesan Bishop. The information sought will concern the applicant’s vocational fitness, his experience and performance as a deacon, his health and his personality qualifications for the diaconal ministry. The Office will also secure relevant information from all pastors and superiors under whom the applicant has served within the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and if advisable, from peers, colleagues, and lay contacts. Based on its findings, the Board will recommend to the Archbishop of Baltimore the approval or rejection of the application.
Before recommending approval, the Board shall interview the applicant. A staff member of the Division of Clergy Personnel and the two members of the Deacon Personnel Board’s Placement Committee shall comprise the interviewing committee. The interview will cover the applicant’s interests, such as parish work vis a vis specialized fields, as well as the Archdiocesan policies which are applicable to incardinated deacons.
If the Board believes there is insufficient support to endorse the applicant for incardination, it will present its reasons to the Archbishop of Baltimore. However, the applicant is free to discuss this matter directly with the Archbishop. If the final action is to disapprove the application, this of itself would not preclude the deacon from continuing to exercise ministry in the Archdiocese. The individual deacon would be free to re-apply within another year if he wishes.
No arbitrary age requirements will be applied. However, age will be considered along with any health or personality factors that might be obstacles to satisfactory and productive service in the Archdiocese.
The term “laicization” refers to a dispensation from all the obligations of Holy Orders, including celibacy. The process established by the universal church and the norms set forth by the USCCB will be followed. One seeking laicization should contact the Chancellor of the diocese in which he is incardinated. [Canon 290].
If a deacon who is considering laicization seeks employment, he may only do so for those jobs for which a laicized deacon is eligible. The deacon must inform the potential employer that he, the deacon, is contemplating laicization. The deacon must advise the employer of the policies regarding laicized deacons.
A deacon whose application for laicization is in process must inform his present employer and/or potential employer that he is seeking laicization. The deacon must also inform the employer of the policies governing employment of laicized deacons.
It is understood by the deacon and the employer that he will not attempt marriage while his petition for laicization is in process. An attempted marriage will cancel his eligibility for continuing employment in a position of the type for which as a dispensed deacon he might have been eligible.
A deacon who has been laicized is eligible for employment in positions in the Archdiocese for which he is qualified provided the employing institution receives the approval of the Ordinary in relation to the specific position for which the individual is being considered. For example: a laicized deacon could be considered for a position in an administrative, teaching, or guidance counseling position in a high school or college; or in administrative or management work in Archdiocesan institutions. The exception to this general policy is that a deacon who has been laicized shall not be employed by seminaries, theological faculties, or similar institutes to fill an office of spiritual director, professor, or any other directive function. (This absolute prohibition is contained in the Instruction of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of January 1, 1951). No exception to this provision will be granted.
In determining whether to give approval in a situation where the individual entered into marriage after laicization, consideration will be given to the possibility of scandal and possible adverse effect on the program or activity being served.
A deacon who is on a leave of absence in order to discern whether or not he wishes to remain in diaconal ministry is not permitted to be employed by any Church agency or institution without the permission of the Ordinary. During this discernment period, employment in a secular setting may assist the deacon in the process of discerning his vocation.
A deacon, who is on permanent leave of absence having decided not to return to active diaconal ministry, can be employed by the Church only with the approval of the Ordinary. This category clearly refers to a deacon who has completed the period of discernment and has decided in favor of not returning to active ministry. However, if such a deacon is employed by the Church, it must be done clearly with the understanding that, if he wishes to seek marriage, he must first be dispensed from the obligations of Holy Orders and from celibacy. If such a deacon is employed by the Church in some lawful position, and subsequently enters marriage outside the church without the required dispensation, the understanding must be clear that he would immediately be terminated from his employment in the Church. Such an understanding should be in writing at the time of employment, and should be reviewed with the Archdiocesan legal counsel in order to make sure that it is legally enforceable.
With regard to the employment of laicized deacons in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the following statement of policy is issued to guide institutions in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. This policy conforms to the provisions of the Instruction of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (January 13, 1951; Specimen of Rescript of Laicization, 1980). More importantly, it attempts to face realistically and honorably the current phenomena of deacons who have left the ordained ministry but who wish to continue serving the Church community. Official service to the Catholic Church community is a viable option for the laicized deacon. The personal commitment and formal training of the deacon makes this choice a logical one; the pastoral needs of the Catholic Church community may make it a desirable one. Problems of misunderstanding or confusion are inevitable; but this danger should not frighten the Church into inaction or worse, into a posture of exclusion. Rather, this situation should impel the leadership of the Church to proceed with caution and care but above all with concern for the welfare of the whole Church.
“Those who are in sacred orders invalidly attempt marriage” [Canon 1087]. Although this precept of the canon is generally applicable, there is provision that contemplates the possibility of married permanent deacons, who are widowed after ordination, to petition for a dispensation from this impediment if any single one of the following conditions is present: (1) the great and proven usefulness of the ministry of the deacon to the diocese to which he belongs, (2) that he has children of such a tender age as to be in need of motherly care, (3) that he has parents or parents-in-law who are elderly and in need of care.