Decree regarding titles and attire for permanent deacons

Archbishop Coat of Arms

In his Apostolic Letter entitled OMNIUM IN MENTEM, published on the 26th of October 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI promulgated several amendments to the Code of Canon Law relative to the proper identity of the permanent deacon clarifying the difference between the episcopate, the presbyterate and the diaconate.  The pope decreed that the text of canon 1008 of the Code of Canon Law is modified so that hereafter it reads:

Canon 1008:  By divine institution, some of the Christian faithful are marked with an indelible character and constituted as sacred ministers by the sacrament of holy orders. They are thus consecrated and deputed so that, each according to his own grade, they may serve the People of God by a new and specific title.

The old canon read: “By divine institution some among the Christian faithful are constituted sacred ministers through the sacrament of orders by means of the indelible character with which they are marked; accordingly they are consecrated and deputed to shepherd  the people of God, each in accord with his own grade of orders, by fulfilling in the person of Christ the Head the functioning of teaching, sanctifying and governing.”

He further adds that henceforth canon 1009 will have three paragraphs. Paragraphs 1 and 2 remain unchanged. A new third paragraph is inserted and it reads:

Canon 1009, § 3  Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity.

The pope’s Apostolic Letter has two important aspects:  First, because deacons are not constituted in the order of the presbyterate, consequently they do not receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head.  “The episcopacy and priesthood participate in the threefold office of Christ:  to sanctify, to teach to shepherd (cf. Lumen Gentium no. 20)”.  Second, deacons are empowered to serve the people of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity.  To a certain degree they are authorized (by the diocesan bishop) to exercise ministry in the service of the liturgy, of the gospel, and of works of charity (cf. Lumen Gentium no. 29).  This official teaching does not diminish nor degrade the diaconate.  Rather, it situates the order of deacon clarifying its proper place and rank within the church.  Therefore, in light of this amendment to the universal law governing the proper identity and role of the permanent deacon, I hereby decree the following modifications to the Statutes the Archdiocese of Agaña:


Number 7 of Section 22 (Part I, Chapter 2) of the Statutes of the Archdiocese of Agaña which states: “Deacons are normally expected to wear their lay attire.  The Roman Collar may be worn at liturgical and ministerial functions” is hereby revoked and replaced with the following norm:

1.    Proper Attire – In the Archdiocese of Agaña permanent deacons are to wear normal lay clothing.  Permanent deacons do not wear clerical attire (i.e., roman collar).  As a rule, when performing any ministry or work they are to wear appropriate lay clothing.  Exceptions to this normative policy are:

a.)        A deacon may wear the roman collar if his official ministerial assignment is in a prison, jail or detention facility (not for parish visitations).

b.)        A deacon may wear the roman collar if his official ministerial assignment is in a hospital, nursing facility or in an institution dedicated to feeding the poor and homeless (not for parish visitations).

The use of clerical attire (roman collar) in these contexts is not normative and should be for serious pastoral reasons.  If used, it must be for the duration of time the deacon is performing his assigned ministry.

2.    Appropriate Title for Deacons – The proper title for addressing deacons in the Archdiocese of Agaña is:  ‘Deacon Jose Cruz’, or, ‘Jose Cruz, Deacon’, or, ‘Deacon and Mrs. Jose Cruz’.

These appropriate forms of address are to be used when referring to a deacon from the pulpit, in church bulletins, official correspondence, liturgical celebrations etc.  Because they are not constituted in the presbyterate, deacons do not receive the title of ‘Reverend’.  Therefore the salutation, greeting or title of ‘Reverend Deacon’ or ‘Reverend Mister’ is no longer permitted.

Given at Hagatña on December 4, 2013.  This decree is effective December 8, 2013.

Most Rev. Anthony Sablan Apuron, OFM Cap. D.D.

Metropolitan Archbishop of Agaña