P. 1
Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

|Views: 566|Likes:
Published by Matthew G. Hysell
Based upon a close reading of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and the documents of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, this essay argues that hearing loss and, by extension, inability to speak or enunciate does not constitute an impediment to Holy Orders.
Based upon a close reading of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and the documents of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, this essay argues that hearing loss and, by extension, inability to speak or enunciate does not constitute an impediment to Holy Orders.

More info:

Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Matthew G. Hysell on Mar 05, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

12/11/2012

pdf

text

original

M. G.

Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

Newman Theological College Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity? M. G. Hysell, M.A., M.Th. (Cand.)

Submitted to Revd. Fr. Roger Keeler, J.C.D. MPS-565: Introduction to Canon Law 10 April, Winter Semester 2008 Revised 18 April 2008 © 2008 All rights reserved

1

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

Introduction On 1 January 2008, Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of sacred liturgy at the Legion of Christ’s Regina Apostolorum University in Rome received the following question from a certain “M.D” in Belleville, Ontario: “Will there ever be a day when the deaf will be allowed to enter convents, monasteries, for the religious life? When all Catholic churches will have American Sign Language and closed-captioning available for the Mass? I believe even the deaf are equal before God and should be equal before the Church.”1 In many ways, the question is an astonishing one. In Canada, the Sisters of Our Lady of Seven Dolors was founded in 1851 by the Sisters Providence as a vowed religious community for Deaf2 Catholic women. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, La Piccola Missione per i Sordomuti was founded by the Servant of God Fr. Guiseppe Gualdani; the congregation received papal approbation in 1913. In 1927, the Clerics of St. Viator founded an Oblate branch for Deaf men with a vocation to the religious brotherhood. Recently, in Spain, a group of Deaf monks, following the Rule of St. Benedict, Monjes sordos de Effatha. In 1997, H.Em. John Cardinal O’Connor, in consultation with the Congregation for Catholic Education (then presided by Pio Cardinal Laghi) formally established the DePaul House of Studies for Deaf Seminarians at 375 Park Avenue in Yonkers, New York, as a house of residence for Deaf candidates to ministerial orders. Common life, the celebration of the sacred

On the Web at http://www.zenit.org/article-21400?l=english, accessed 11 January 2008. The distinction between “deaf” and “Deaf” is one of ‘handicap’ and ‘culture,’ respectively. A deaf person is someone who experiences a significant range of hearing loss (at the lower three levels—moderate, severe, and profound), distinguished from ‘hard-of-hearing,’ and may or may not know sign language. In other words, deafness is more or less a medical classification. The designation Deaf, on the other hand, refers to the culture of people who share the common experience of deafness either by parentage, personal hearing loss, or even enculturation into the Deaf community (e.g. sign language interpreters). While a deaf person may either be Oralist, use manually coded English, ‘Total Communication’ (= speaking and signing at the same time), she may not necessarily identify with Deaf culture. On the other hand, all Deaf people are deaf. It is important to be aware that the Deaf culture, in addition to its own language (which varies from country to country), has its own mores, forms of entertainment, and social milieu.
2

1

2

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

liturgy, and recreation would take place at the DePaul House but the seminarians would commute to St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) for classes, retreats, and formation.3 During the same time, the Director, V. Revd.. Thomas Coughlin, was in the process of founding a religious community of Deaf men under the patronage of the Order of Preachers. In 2002, the DePaul House relocated to San Francisco, becoming attached to St. Patrick’s Seminary and University. Then, in 2007, the DePaul House relocated again to San Antonio, Texas, at the invitation of Archbishop José Gomez and the Oblate School of Theology. Obviously, the question posed by M.D. to Fr. McNamara is a dated one. In responding to M.D.’s query, Fr. McNamara maneuvered around the more crucial questions of impediments, suitability, and defects. As one commentator observed, “Fr.. McNamara was clearly writing out of his depth on this topic. He gave a well-meaning, off-thetop-of-his-head answer to the questions posed to him without displaying familiarity with the relevant Church documents…”4 Dr. Edward Peters, professor of Canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, offered a devastating critique5 of not only Fr. McNamara’s handling of the question, but also his apparent lack of expertise in citing the appropriate canons to answer M.D. Two issues must be raised in regard to M.D.’s question: whether deafness can be considered a kind of poor physical health such that it constitutes an irregularity or impediment to

See H.Em. John Cardinal O’Connor, “The Possibility of Becoming Priests,” on the Web at http://www.cny.org/archive/cv/cv031298.htm, accessed 10 April 2008. 4 On the Web at http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2008/01/deaf-people-and.html, accessed 9 April 2008. 5 On the Web at http://www.canonlaw.info/2008/01/to-best-accomodate-deaf-begin-by.html, accessed 4 April 2008.

3

3

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

the reception of Holy Orders and whether the non-verbal language of a Deaf minister6 allows for a lawful presidency of the sacred liturgy. Deaf Candidates for Ministerial Orders Can a Deaf man be ordained to one of the three major orders? In the 1983 Code of Canon law, several sections are devoted to the prerequisites to ministerial ordination. In Book III, Part I, Title VI (cc. 1008-1054), After describing the sacrament of Holy Orders in cc. 1008, 1009, the Code proceeds to outline the “Celebration and Minister of Ordination” in chapter 1 (cc. 10101023), “Those to be Ordained” in chapter 2 (cc. 1024-1053), and finally “The Notation and Testimonial of Ordination Conferred” in chapter 3 (cc. 1053, 1054). Of special interest to our present discussion is found in chapter 2 of the above (Bk. III, Pt. I, Tit. VI, Ch. 2), which is subdivided into four articles: “Requirements in Those to be Ordained” (art. 1; cc. 1026-1031), “The Prerequisites for Ordination” (art. 2; cc. 1033-1039), “Irregularities and Other Impediments” (art. 3; 1040-1049), and “The Required Documents and Investigation” (art. 4, cc. 1050-1052). Assuming that the prerequisites for ordination have been met (cc. 1033-1039), the question must be raised whether hearing loss or deafness is considered to be an impediment to Orders. “To confer the presbyteral or diaconal orders licitly, it is required that the candidate…is prevented by no irregularity and no impediment…” (c. 1025 §1). While the Code of Canon law does not directly describe an “impediment,” it is generally understood to be something that “impedes” or prevents an act from taking place. Previously it was used more in reference to the sacrament of matrimony and the preferred term in relation to the reception of Holy Orders was “irregularity,” a term retained in the 1983 Code. However, article 3 of the same chapter outlines
In this essay, I will always use the term “minister” in the sense of a deacon, presbyter, or bishop. i.e., a sacred minister as defined by c. 1009 §1, even though lectors, acolytes, and Lay Ecclesial Ministers have equal right to the designation.
6

4

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

the specific “Irregularities and Other Impediments” (cc. 1040-1049). “Those affected by any impediment, whether perpetual, in which is called an irregularity, or simple, are prevented from receiving orders. The only impediments incurred, however, are those contained in the following canons (e.g. 1041ff).” Thus the question at hand refers to the reception of ministerial ordination. The condition of d/Deafness, especially the use of a nonverbal language, will be discussed in the next section.7 Canon 1041 º1 through º6 considers the following to be irregularities for receiving ministerial orders: a man who— 1. after consultation with appropriate experts, a candidate is considered to have a psychic illness that renders him “unqualified to fulfill the ministry properly”; 2. has committed a “delict” of apostasy, heresy, or schism; 3. has attempted matrimony (whether civil or sacramental) while being impeded by another bond; 4. has committed “voluntary homicide” or cooperated in procuring an abortion, whether formally or materially; 5. has committed mutilation to himself or to another maliciously or has attempted suicide; 6. has illicitly presided at a rite reserved to another rank (such as an ordination, reserved to a bishop). Canons 1042 º1 through º3 then discusses the simple impediments to the sacrament of Holy Orders: a man who— 1. has a wife, unless he is “legitimately destined” to the permanent diaconate; 2. has exercised an “office or administration” prohibited by the norms of cc. 285, 286; 3. has recently received the sacraments of Christian Initiation, defined as a “neophyte.” After obliging the faithful to disclose any known impediments of any candidates prior to the sacrament of Holy Orders to their ordinary or pastor prior to ordination (c. 1043), the Code proceeds to discuss irregularities “for the exercise of orders already received” (c. 1044 §1, emphasis added). Such irregularities are considered to be an illegitimate reception of orders
Cf. R. L. KASLYN, “The Sacrament of Orders: Irregularities and Impediments—An Overview,” in The Jurist, 62 (2002), 1 and 2. Unfortunately vol. 62 of The Jurist is missing from Newman Theological College library and I was unable to access this article. Another good overview of irregularities and impediments can be found in J. HUELS, “Candidates for Ordination,” in The Pastoral Companion, Quincy, IL, Franciscan Press, 1997, pp. 167-169.
7

5

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

while “affected by an irregularity” (c. 1044 §1, º1), one who has committed a public delict of apostasy, schism, or heresy (º2, 3); as for impediments after the reception of orders, they are again outlined as one who has received the sacrament illegitimately (c. 1045 §2 º1) or is “affected by amentia or some other psychic illness (º2). In all of the above canons, only “psychic illness” comes close to defining any medical condition as an impediment to the reception of Holy Orders. Thus hearing loss is not counted among either the impediments or irregularities to Orders. Positively, Canon law requires that the candidate to Holy Orders be of sound doctrine, possess genuine piety and good morals, be able to carry out the apostolate, and a “properly executed inquiry about his state of physical and psychic health” (c. 1051 º1). There is nothing about hearing loss that would suggest that the norms of c. 1051 would be violated, unless one were to raise the objection that hearing-loss constitutes an issue of ill-health.8 Deaf Men Among the Sacred Ministers Canon law defines Orders as follows: “By divine institution, the sacrament of orders establishes some among the Christian faithful as sacred ministers through an indelible character which marks them. They are consecrated and designated, each according to his grade, to nourish the people of God, fulfilling in the person of Christ the Head the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing” (c. 1008). Curiously, the Code refrains from any language that would make sacred ministers appear to be ‘sacramental vending machines.’ The three powers of the Church, namely teaching, sanctifying, and governing, are shared by the members of the hierarchy. However, the reader of the Code should be attentive to the fact that the sacrament of Holy Orders falls under Book IV, “The Sanctifying Office of the Church.”

Hearing loss or deafness, medically speaking, is an ‘impairment’ and not an ‘illness.’ As such it would not fall under the category of “physical health” mentioned in c. 1051.

8

6

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

The question that is usually on the minds of people who ask whether a d/Deaf person can be ordained to the sacred ministry is whether they can sufficiently speak the forms required in the celebration of the sacraments. In other words, does the inability to verbalize sacramental forms constitute an impediment? For example, if a d/Deaf presbyter, fulfilling all other prerequisites for presiding at Mass, signs the equivalent of “This is My Body,” is there true change from the substance of bread to the substance of Christ’s Sacred Body? The same question can be raised with respect to the forms of the other sacraments, whether it be “I baptize you…” or “I absolve you…” In this respect, the office of a presbyter must be distinguished from his faculty of presiding at the Eucharist. In fact, the ordination of a presbyter and the conferral of Eucharistic faculties take place at separate moments during the Mass of Ordination.9 Although it is lost upon English readers of curial documents, a distinction is always made between a presbyter and a sacerdos; both are usually translated simply as “priests,” which is erroneous.10 Curiously, the Code says nothing about the forms of the sacraments (cf. CIC, Bk IV, Pt. I). In this case, one must turn to other kinds of liturgical law, especially the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. In the section titled “The Manner of Speaking the Eucharistic Prayer” (nn. 216-218), there is nothing to suggest the neo-scholastic opinion that enunciating the Institution Narrative correctly achieves the effect of ‘transubstantiation.’11 In fact, the emphasis in terms of “speaking” is for the benefit of the syntaxis, gathered to receive the Word and Sacrament
This does not mean, however, that the minister of ordination is able to ordain a candidate without sacramental faculties. 10 It has been observed, however, that St Thomas Aquinas uses the two terms interchangeably in his theological works. The word “priest” is etymologically derived from “presbyter”; there is no English cognate for the Latin sacerdos. Other Romance languages, however, have preserved the distinction. 11 The liturgical revival that took place immediately prior to the Second Vatican Council placed emphasis on the fourfold action of the Eucharist corresponding to the four actions performed by Christ at the Last Supper: “While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it and gave it to them…” (Mk 14:22, NRSV). These actions correspond to the Preparation of the Altar and the Gifts (“took”), the Eucharistic anaphora (“blessed”/“gave thanks” according to the Lucan/Pauline tradition), the Faction Rite (“broke”), and the Communion (“gave”). The whole action of “blessing” or “giving thanks” is fulfilled by the entirety of the Eucharistic anaphora and not simply the ‘words of consecration.’
9

7

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

(G.I.R.M., n. 218).12 On 25 January 1974, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith offered a “Declaration on the Meaning of Translations of Sacramental Formulae,” and decreed that it was necessary “…that the essential formulae of the sacramental rites render faithfully the original sense of the Latin ‘typical text.’13 Even the curial document Liturgiam authenticam, which deals directly with questions of the translations of liturgical books, is scarcely interested with questions of ‘validity’; instead, it seeks to reinforce the prerogative of the Apostolic See to approve such books so as to facilitate “full, conscious, active participation” in the sacred liturgy.14 Liturgiam authenticam makes reference to Sacrasanctum conciliaum, nn. 37-40. Specifically, the Council Fathers wanted to allow for the adaptation of the sacred liturgy to the different languages and cultures of peoples where the Church exists.15 Thus the question of whether by signing the Eucharistic anaphora there is a valid change from the substance of bread and wine into the substance of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood betrays a profound ignorance of sacramental theology. It is, in effect, a non-issue.16

Cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS, General Instruction on the Roman Missal (2003), on the Web at http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/current/GIRM.pdf, accessed 9 April 2008. 13 SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration on the Meaning of Translations of Sacramental Formulae Instauratio liturgica, 25 January 1974, cited in A. FLANNERY, gen. ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Concilar Documents, Collegeville, The Liturgical Press, 1975), pp. 254-255 (hereafter A. FLANNERY, Vatican II). Given the structure of signed language, e.g. A.S.L., linguists have been unsuccessful developing a written form and, by extension, it has been impossible to create liturgical books ‘in’ sign language. Since written/spoken language is linear and phonetic whereas signed language is nonlinear and non-phonetic, an ‘A.S.L. Liturgikon’ remains impossible; in fact, linguists estimate at least another two centuries must pass before the creation of written form to American Sign Language. 14 SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, no. 14; SACRED CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS, On the Use of Vernacular Languages in the Publication of the Books of the Roman Liturgy Liturgiam authenticam, nn. 1, 2, on the Web at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20010507_liturgiamauthenticam_en.html, accessed on 8 April 2008. 15 SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 37, in A. FLANNERY, Vatican II, p. 13. 16 Surprisingly, even St. Thomas Aquinas, the ‘Angelic Doctor’ of the Church, says in his Summa theologiae that enunciating the words is not a necessary condition for the consecration of the Holy Gifts. “As Augustine said, the word [= “This is My body”; “This is My blood”] operates in the sacraments ‘not because it is spoken,’ i.e., not by the outward sound of the voice, ‘but because it is believed’ [Tract. Lxxx, sup. Ioan.] in accordance with the sense of the words which is held by faith. And this sense is indeed the same for all, although the same words as to their

12

8

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

However, Fr. McNamara wrote that “Certainly, a priest who suffers from loss of hearing does not lose his vocation but must bear the burden of having to limit some areas of his ministry.” The suggestion of limiting one’s pastoral office is a breathtakingly ignorant one. I know of no presbyter or deacon who, on account of his identity as a Deaf man, has had to “limit some areas of his ministry.” The immense disproportion of ministers who are suitable for responding to the pastoral needs of Deaf people more than makes up for how Deaf ministers are ‘limited.’ Preparing Deaf couples for marriage (cc. 1063-1072), preparing Deaf parents for the baptism of their children and Deaf adults for Christian Initiation (cc. 851-852; 890), and preparing children for the celebration of First Communion (c. 914). Sacramental confession (c. 965), spiritual direction, and especially holy preaching in sign language are grave pastoral needs for Deaf Catholics which can be met only by those sacred ministers who are themselves Deaf or at least are proficient in sign language. Fr. McNamara has reversed the state of the problem: Deaf ministers are burdened by the insurmountable needs of the Deaf Catholic community. In fact, it is rare for a hearing pastor who is proficient in sign language to also serve hearing Catholics full-time.17

sound be not used by all. Consequently no matter in what language this sense is expressed, the sacrament is complete” (S.th. IIIa, q. 60, art. 7, ad 1). Although St. Thomas, like the early Scholastics before him, thinks that the ‘words of consecration’ in fact effects the change from bread and wine into the Sacred Body and Precious Blood, this view has never been proposed as dogmatic in character, i.e., it has never been the taught by the infallible magisterium. The earliest (and probably only) statement that comes close is found in H.H. Pope Eugene IV’s Bull of Union With the Armenians, issued at the Council of Basel (et. al.), session 8 on 22 November 1439, which is cited in the Roman Catechism issued by the authority of the Ecumenical Council of Trent. The fact remains, however, that the opinion that the ‘words of consecration’ being the Institution Narrative, although it enjoyed high status, has never been definitely taught by the magisterium. Although Trent reiterated the dogma of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and sanctioned the use of the word ‘transubstantiation,’ the moment in which the Holy Gifts are changed remains an open and fruitful debate today. With the encouragement of my canon law professor, I am currently researching this question. 17 In fact, I know of only one such pastor, the Revd. Msgr. Patrick McCahill, pastor of St Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in the Archdiocese of New York and moderator of the New York Catholic Deaf Centre. While he received the greatest support from Terrence Cardinal Cooke and John Cardinal O’Connor, the present archdiocesan curia has offered little to promote his apostolic work. The closing of the Deaf seminarian programme at St Joseph’s Seminary was a tremendous setback for the Catholic Deaf community in the Archdiocese of New York.

9

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

The Deaf Apostolate and Provision by the Church’s Pastors Clearly, canon law and other liturgical laws of the Church offer no prohibition for the ordination d/Deaf men to the deaconate or presbyterate. The adaptation of liturgical books to a nonverbal language, however, may be understood as a lacunae in Canon law and liturgical law, even if only partially addressed by the Church’s pastors. In 1998, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) authorized American Sign Language as a valid liturgical language in the territories under its jurisdiction.18 As far as I am aware, this is the closest that the Church’s authority has come to understanding the validity of sign language in the celebration of the sacred liturgy. According to the National Office for the Deaf, there are approximately 135,735 Deaf Catholics in the dioceses of the United States. To date, however, only six Deaf presbyters have been ordained. There are two additional candidates and one other seminarian. Leaving aside roughly one dozen presbyters who have signing proficiency, current statistics has only one Deaf presbyter per 22,622.5 Deaf Catholics. And yet anecdotes of the refusal on the part of ordinaries to accommodate the pastoral needs of Deaf Catholics are too common. The Archbishop of New York, for instance, opted to abide by the decision of the faculty senate of St Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie to close the priestly formation programme established by the late John Cardinal O’Connor. Rather than to allow the flourishing of a catalyst that would have provided sacred ministers to respond to the pastoral needs of Deaf Catholics, the Archdiocese of New York has instead contributed to a ‘vocations crisis’ and allowed for the paucity of ministers to the Deaf

At the time of this writing, I have been unable to find the appropriate citation of this act of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

18

10

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

Catholic community. Similar complaints have been leveled against the previous Archbishop of Washington, D.C. and several other North American prelates. How would Canon law judge such apathy towards the pastoral needs of Deaf Catholics? “The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments” (c. 213). More precisely, “The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church (c. 214). Since presbyters participate in the mission of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, it follows that their ministry follows in the mystery of the Incarnation by which the Son of God received a body and soul to reach its full purpose at His Pasch. Just as the Son of God became a member of the human race to proclaim the Gospel, so too does the priest, as a member of the human race, live and work among ordinary people for the building up of Christ’s body. In the same vein, God has called a number of Deaf men to Holy Orders in order to incarnate the Gospel in the particular cultural milieu of Deaf Catholics. This is the enduring missionary mandate of the Church:
The Church learned early in its history to express the Christian message in the concepts and language of different peoples… Indeed, this kind of adaptation and preaching of the revealed Word must ever be the law of all evangelization. In this way it is possible to create in every country the possibility of expressing the message of Christ in suitable terms and to foster vital contact and exchange between the Church and different cultures.19

It follows, then, that the major seminary is the locus for training candidates of Holy Orders to respond to the pastoral needs of Deaf people, Catholic or otherwise.20 One of the triumphs of the Holy Spirit in modern times is the renewal of the Church’s pastoral self-understanding. In point
SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 7 December 1965, n. 44, cited in A. FLANNERY, Vatican II, p. 946 (emphasis added). 20 Sadly, even those religious communities whose baptism the Catholic Church does not recognize (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc.) have proven themselves more effective in the task of proselytism than Catholics have. Moreover, Fundamentalists have been more successful in their efforts to recruit Deaf people, especially Deaf Catholics.
19

11

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

of fact, the Second Vatican Council outlined specific norms for the “Strictly Pastoral Training” of future ministers.21 The Council Fathers also addressed the pastoral office of bishops: they are not only to devote themselves to those who have faith in Christ, but also those who do not yet profess faith in Him.
Likewise in similar circumstances provision should be made for the faithful of a different language group either by appointing priests who speak their language, or by creating special parishes, or by appointing an episcopal vicar well versed in it. If it is deemed suitable he may be ordained bishop, or the matter may be dealt with in some other appropriate way.22

The 1983 Code of Canon law, as H. H. Pope John Paul II wrote, sought to incorporate the Church’s renewal in its legislation: “It could indeed be said that from this there is derived that note of complementarity which the Code presents in relation to the Second Vatican Council, in particular with reference to the two constitutions, the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium and the pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes.” Since the renewal undertaken by the Council consisted in a new self-understanding of Church as Church, “…it follows that what constitutes the substantial newness of the Second Vatican Council, in line with the legislative tradition of the Church, especially in regard to ecclesiology, constitutes likewise the newness of the new Code.”23 Moreover, since the Second Vatican Council was an exercise of the extraordinary magisterium, it follows that it also bears a legislative authority in the Church of the highest order (c. 337 §1; cf. c. 750 §2). As such, apathy towards the training of sacred ministers for the Deaf apostolate is prohibited by the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. In terms of Canon law, in accordance with the norms of c. 212 §2, Deaf Catholics—whether by way of the National
SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Training of Priests Optatam totius, 28 October 1965, nn. 19-21, cited in A. FLANNERY, Vatican II, pp. 721-723. 22 SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 28 October 1965, n. 22, 3, ¶3, cited in A. FLANNERY, Vatican II, pp. 577-578. 23 POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution Sacrae disciplinae leges, ¶¶ 20, 21, cited in CANON LAW SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, The Canon Law: Letter and Spirit, London, Geoffery Chapman, 1995, p. xxviii.
21

12

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

Catholic Office for the Deaf, the International Catholic Deaf Association, or by individual members of the laity and clergy—have repeatedly made known their pastoral needs, often to no avail. Conclusion Deafness, as an hearing-impairment, does not constitute either an irregularity or impediment to the reception of Holy Orders. The question of a Deaf man already ordained, on the other hand, may constitute a lacuna in Canon law because (i) even though some episcopal conferences have approved sign language as a valid liturgical language, (ii) there cannot yet be a ‘typical edition’ of a liturgical book in such languages. The crux of this lacuna has nothing to do with ‘validity’ but rather with the facilitation of communal worship since each community celebrates the sacred liturgy differently, although all of them make full use of sign language. A great number of Deaf Catholics have displayed clear signs of a vocation to either religious life or Holy Orders, and there are several such communities for them. But the formation of Deaf candidates for ordination has proven itself to be a much more sensitive question with few pastors willing to embrace a response. The urgency of the question is imposed by the Second Vatican Council, which sought to renew the Church’s self-understanding especially by way of liturgical renewal and a rediscovery of the Church as a communion of Christ’s faithful. Therefore addressing the pastoral needs of d/Deaf Catholics, according to the teachings of the Council Fathers, cannot be lawfully ignored. Salus animarum suprema lex Ecclesia. To ignore the task of evangelization and missionary outreach of Deaf people, Catholic or otherwise, would be to act as though d/Deaf people are not deserving of salvation. Even Jesus Christ our Lord served the deaf, not simply by curing his

13

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

hearing loss, but inviting him to “be opened”—ephphatha—to God’s Self-disclosure in the Incarnate Word (Mk 7:31-37).

14

M. G. Hysell

Deaf Candidates to Holy Orders: Impediment or Opportunity?

Bibliography AQUINAS, ST. THOMAS. Summa theologiae[sic], trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Allen, TX: Christian Classics, 1948. CANON LAW SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, The Canon law: Letter and Spirit, London, Geoffery Chapman, 1995. CATHOLIC CHURCH, Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition, Washington, D.C., Canon law Society of America, 1999. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS, General Instruction on the Roman Missal, in D.A. Lysik (ed.), The Liturgy Documents: A Parish Resource, 4th ed., vol. 2, Chicago, Liturgy Training Publications, 2004. __________, General Instruction on the Roman Missal (2003), on the Web at http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/current/GIRM.pdf. FLANNERY, A., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Concilar Documents, Collegeville, The Liturgical Press, 1975. HUELS, J. The Pastoral Companion: A Canon law Handbook for Catholic Ministry, Quincy, IL, Franciscan Press, 1997. KASLYN, R. L., “The Sacrament of Orders: Irregularities and Impediments—An Overview,” in The Jurist, 62 (2002), 1 and 2. LANE, H., R. HOFFMEISTER, and B. BAHAN, A Journey into the Deaf-World, San Diego, DawnSignPress, 1996. MIRAS, JORGE, Exegetical Commentary on the Code of Canon law, Montreal, Wilson and Lafleur, 2004. NEUNER, J. and J. DUPUIS, The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, 7th rev. and enlarged ed., Staten Island, Alba House, 2001. O’CONNOR, +J. CARD., “The Possibility of Becoming Priests,” in The Catholic New York, 12 March 1998, on the Web at http://www.cny.org/archive/cv/cv031298.htm. TANNER, N., ed., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 2 vols. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990.

15

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->