The great opportunity is to earnestly assume the synodality
The Permanent Diaconate in Venezuela
The restoration of the Permanent Diaconate (PD) as a stable grade of the hierarchal order in the Venezuelan Church, was approved by the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference (CEV) in its assembly held on August 29, 1970. The arguments which supported the CEV’s decision for the restoration of the diaconate in the country were the following:
- “The restoration is, therefore, an act of faithfulness by the Church to its original hierarchical structure”.
- “Many rural communities, as well as populous urban sectors are lacking an effective pastoral presence; on the other hand, the changes which took place in both the world and the Church lead to the necessity of such a ministry which, by its multiplicity of forms and its adequacy for a fuller insertion in the life of different communities, is likely to facilitate pastoral care and make it more effective”.
- The arguments presented at that moment are still fully valid; and they are even confirmed by the present historical-cultural and ecclesial situation.
The first permanent deacons were ordained on December 29, 1974 in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Caracas. At present, there are approximately 400 permanent deacons. Not all the dioceses, however, have deacons. Recently, in the Archdiocese of Caracas, an Episcopal Vicariate for the Permanent Diaconate was established.
Die Wiederherstellung des Ständigen Diakonats in der venezolanischen Kirche als eigenständiges Amt im Ordo wurde von der venezolanischen Bischofskonferenz (CEV) in ihrer Versammlung am 29. August 1970 gebilligt. Die Argumente, die die Entscheidung der CEV für die Wiederherstellung des Diakonats im Land stützen, waren:
The challenges faced today by the PD in Venezuela are as follows:
- “The permanent diaconate has given its fruits to the Church in Venezuela; however, it is still not widely known, nor has it been sufficiently promoted within some dioceses, in which permanent deacons are currently offering the most diverse and valuable ministries.” (Concilio Plenario de Venezuela, OBISPOS, PRESBÍTEROS Y DIÁCONOS AL SERVICIO DE UNA IGLESIA COMUNIÓN)
- “The cause leading to a lack of proper preparation or promotion was the indetermination of the pastoral areas entrusted by various local Churches to the permanent deacon. Often they have been given functions more along the lines of sacrament administrators than of community animators and ministers of charity.” (Idem)
“The great opportunity, the best Kairós, that the Church offers us today, in order to make us open to a pastoral conversion – both at the personal and at the institutional level – is to earnestly assume the “synodality”, i.e. to learn to journey together, a thing which seems to have been already achieved and yet certainly it hasn’t been. But, if we are capable of breaking this new furrow, we will be going along the right path. ” ( His Eminence Cardinal Baltazar E. Porras Cardozo, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Caracas, in a meeting with the permanent deacons of the Archdiocese of Caracas, March 9, 2020)
The signs of the times are calling for a renewal. A profound revision of the deacons’ pastoral action is required, consolidating their ministry, in order to avoid it becoming out of touch, given the complexity of the present situation and of the ecclesial reality.
There is a pressing need to find new ways of transmitting the faith in the present cultural context, taking into account the challenges of the new evangelization, in order to energize the processes of conversion to Jesus Christ, both our own personal ones and those of our community.
Deacon Germán C. Machado E.
Caracas, May 2020