Deacon Keith Fournier: Pro-Life in the Diaconate (And in the Upcoming Presidential Election in the U.S.)

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Pro-life supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the 46th annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 18, 2019. The theme for the 2020 March for Life is "Life Empowered: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman." (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters) See MARCH-FOR-LIFE-2020 Oct. 17, 2019.

The providential connection between the movement and the missionary role of Catholic deacons

By Deacon Keith Fournier, Deacon Digest, 2019

Among those calling for the restoration of the order of deacons as a permanent part of the clergy of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite were the survivors of a group called the Deacons Circle. This group of male prisoners included Catholic priests. They forged their brotherhood in prayer while suffering in Dachau, one of the evil death camps of the Nazi regime. The survivors continued to meet after the war came to an end. By the year 1959, an international version of the Deacons Circle had been formed.

When the Second Vatican Council convened, some bishops familiar with the history of the diaconate in the early Church as well as the desire of this group of heroic men to see the order of deacon restored for the whole Church, called for its restoration at the council. The rest is history.

I will soon celebrate 24 years ordained “not unto the priesthood but unto the ministry,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (cf. No. 1569). I spent my legal career engaged in pro-life and religious freedom work. As a moral theologian, I consider the evil of legal abortion on demand to be an urgent priority. Finally, I believe there is a providential connection between the pro-life movement and the missionary role of Catholic deacons to serve authentic social justice.

The bishop who ordained me told me that in my ministry as a lay leader I was already engaged in diaconal functions. The word “deacon” means servant. But he believed what the council fathers had in mind was for bishops to look for men like me, engaged in such service, and discern whether they were being called to holy orders as a deacon. He asked me to pray about whether the grace of orders was a part of my ongoing calling to the Lord Jesus Christ and service to his Church. …./

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