Diaconate in Brazil
First steps and creation of the National Commission of Deacons
The first training center to form deacons appeared in Brazil in 1967. Pope Paul VI ordained the first Latin American group of permanent deacons in Bogota. Colombia, in 22/08/1968. The first ordination of permanent deacons in Brazilian territory was on 23/02/1969.
The first National Permanent Deacons Meeting occurred in Porto Alegre (RS), from 17 to 19/06/1970.
The Holy See required a formal act from each Episcopal Conference asking permission to restore the permanent diaconate. The Brazilian National Conference of Bishops (CNBB) forwarded the document to the Holy See. On December 14 of the same year, Pope Paul VI signed the license requested.
The CND was structured during the second National Meeting, held in Campo Grande (MS), from June 26 to 28, 1981. Among other important tasks, soon entrusted to this first CND Presidency, was the drafting of the Statute and Internal Rules.
The CNBB’s Permanent Council approved the CND’s Canonical Statute, on June 24th, 2003. On October 28th, 2004, the same Council approved the Civil Statute.
Currently, more than 5,200 deacons serve Brazilian dioceses. The CND has about 3,500 members, distributed in all of the country states. Its president represents the Brazilian deacons at the Brazilian Episcopal Conference of Bishops (CNBB).
Deacons’ wives usually participate in spiritual and pastoral formations. Two national meetings of wives have already happened during the CND Assemblies. Some dioceses annually promote spiritual retreats for deacons and wives.
Formation for the diaconal ministry is not uniform. It takes place in one of the 97 Diocesan Diaconal Schools and/or in Higher Theology Courses. Nowadays there’re 2,662 candidates for the ministry.
Each Diocese has its own formation schema. This, in part, is positive, but the problem is that, in some cases, even the minimum curriculum indicated by the Episcopal Conference is not respected.
Some bishops think that the number of deacons cannot be greater than priests. That is why some of them stop ordaining deacons.
There is still considerable resistance to the ongoing formation, as many deacons think they have sufficient knowledge of the ministry.
“A Church which goes forth” (Evangelii Gaudium) encourages us to visualize a diaconate prepared for the challenges of the new Evangelization. Motivating different kinds of ‘Diakonia’, especially in specific areas, such as Social Action, Social Communication, Economy and Finance, Family, Catechesis, Architecture and Visual Arts, Music, Historical Archives, Diocesan Services, etc., overcoming a vision of territorial division.
Goals of the National Commission of Deacons of Brazil
The CND General Assembly sets out to the Presidency the goals that should be worked on for the next term. Among the listed goals, we can highlight:
a) To encourage the ongoing formation of deacons and the adoption of a minimum curriculum for Diaconal Schools;
b) To have a proactive role with the Episcopal Commission for Ordained Ministries and Consecrated Life, in planning pastoral actions, together with the Regionals;
c) To perform a proactive role with the Episcopal Commission for Ordained Ministries and Consecrated Life, in planning pastoral actions.
Deacon Alberto Magno Carvalho de Melo