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Protocol for the Incardination or Excardination of Deacons

 

Purpose of Protocol

This protocol is published for the purpose of assisting diocesan bishops in applying the procedures for excardination from one diocesan Church and incardination into another diocesan Church, two actions which coalesce into a single juridical act, to the specific case of a deacon. The provisions of this protocol are not intended to constitute particular law. Rather, they are meant to provide a process to implement the provisions of the Code of Canon Law pertaining to the incardination and excardination of deacons in the United States.

Foundational principles

I. Historical and Theological Principles

  1. Incardination specifies the relationship of clerics to the Church and the service which they render in it. Taken from the Latin term incardinare (to hang on a hinge) incardination is traditionally used to refer to the attachment of the priest or deacon to a diocesan Church headed by the diocesan bishop. Theologically it underscores the close, permanent association of bishops, presbyters and deacons in the Church's ordained ministry and hierarchical structure.

  2. Before the Council of Nicea, incardination was maintained solely by custom and the priests and deacons ordained by a bishop were considered part of a diocesan Church's ordained ministry. From earliest times (e.g. Chalcedon canon 6) all ordinands were ordered to be subject to an ecclesiastical superior; similarly, incardination bound a cleric for life to the diocese for which he had been ordained (Chalcedon, canon 5). The Council of Nicea forbade clerics from moving from one city to another, thus affirming the lasting principle that an ordained cleric is always attached to a diocese.

  3. This principle had to be reaffirmed in the following centuries because of the rise in the Middle Ages of ordinations of clerics not attached to a diocesan Church or bishop. Hence the Third Lateran Council (canon 5) forbade bishops from ordaining deacons and priests without a definite title. The desired effect of instilling the incardination of the ordained was not uniformly or universally achieved immediately and the bishops at Trent decreed that no one was to be ordained unless in the bishop's judgment he would be useful or necessary for the church to which he could be assigned.

  4. From this period on, incardination was understood ecclesiologically as referring to the bond between a priest and the diocesan Church for which he is ordained and as an expression of the bishop's solicitude for the particular Church. Canonically the term referred both to one's diocesan Church of ordination as well as the practice of transferring one's allegiance from one diocesan Church to another, and hence from one bishop to another. The ordained priest or deacon may thus be excardinated from one diocesan Church and incardinated into another but only at the judgment of the local ordinaries.

  5. In light of the teaching of Vatican II on the ordained ministry, the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order in the Church and the revised rites of ordination, the notion of incardination is grounded theologically in the call to ordination in and for the church. Deacons and priests are ministers of the community and as such are representatives of the bishop.

II. Canonical Prescriptions

  1. Canon 265: "Every cleric must be incardinated into some particular Church. . . ."

  2. Canon 266.1: "A person becomes a cleric through the reception of the diaconate and is incardinated into the particular Church or personal prelature for whose services he has been advanced."

  3. Canon 267.1: "In order for a cleric already incardinated to be incardinated validly into another particular Church, he must obtain from the diocesan bishop a letter of excardination signed by the bishop; he must likewise obtain from the diocesan bishop of the particular Church into which he desires to be incardinated a letter of incardination signed by that bishop." Canon 267.2: "Excardination thus granted does not take effect unless incardination into another particular church has been obtained."

  4. Canon 268.1: "A cleric who has legitimately moved form his own particular Church into another one is incardinated into this other particular Church by the law itself after five years if he has made such a desire known in writing both to the diocesan bishop of the host church and to his own diocesan bishop and provided neither of them informed the cleric of his opposition in writing within four months of the reception of this letter."

  5. Canon 269: "A diocesan bishop is not allowed the incardination of a cleric unless:

    1. "the necessity or advantage of his own particular Church demands it, with due regard for the prescriptions of the law concerning the decent support of clerics;

    2. he is certain from a legitimate document that excardination has been granted, and he also has in addition appropriate testimonials from the excardinating diocesan bishop, in secrecy if necessary, concerning the cleric's life, morals, and studies;

    3. the cleric has declared in writing to the same diocesan bishop that he wishes to be dedicated to the service of the new particular Church in accord with the norm of law."

  6. In accordance with the provisions of Canon 269.1, a host particular Church accepts a deacon transferring into it from another particular Church and will allow him to function in an official capacity provided there is a need for his services. The host bishop makes the final decision concerning the granting of faculties for all the ordained in his particular Church.

  7. Section A of the Appendix to this Protocol discusses special issues pertaining to deacons. For a thorough commentary on Incardination and Excardination refer to Clergy Procedural Handbook, published by the Canon Law Society of America in 1992, edited by Randolph R. Calvo and Nevin J. Klinger.

Implementation

  1. A deacon transferring from his own diocese to another diocese will do the following:

    1. When the decision has been made to move to a new diocese, the deacon will inform the diocesan director of deacon personnel or the vicar for clergy, or the diocesan bishop of the impending move. In like manner, the deacon will write to the bishop of the new diocese to inform the bishop of his pending arrival, stating his intention to call on the bishop or his delegate in person after his arrival (See Section B of the Appendix, Sample Letter 1).

    2. The deacon will request that the director of deacon personnel or vicar for clergy forward to the director of deacon personnel, the vicar for clergy, or the bishop of the new diocese a letter from the previous bishop providing information regarding the new move together with appropriate letters of recommendation and evaluation (See Section B, Sample Letter 2).

  2. The diocesan bishop will send or cause to have sent to the receiving bishop and/or his director for deacon personnel or vicar for clergy the following:

    1. A letter informing the receiving bishop of the impending move with a statement of the just cause of the deacon's move (e.g., employment, retirement or health conditions) together with letters of recommendation and evaluation.

    2. A resume of the deacon's personal history, which will be the basis for a character reference together with the recently adopted protocol between bishops and religious superiors testifying to the deacon's record of conduct and moral integrity.

    3. A written record of the deacon's academic, spiritual and pastoral formation, to include notation of academic degrees awarded or citations earned.

    4. An evaluation of the deacon's ministry (Section B, Sample Letter 3).

  3. Upon arrival in the new diocese, the deacon will call upon the bishop or his director for deacon personnel, or Vicar for Clergy to make his presence known as well as his desire for diaconal faculties and a diaconal assignment.

  4. The bishop, or his director for deacon personnel or vicar for clergy will evaluate the deacon's resume and examine the needs of the particular Church. After favorable review, the bishop will give the deacon faculties and a temporary assignment. The bishop would appoint a supervisor to the deacon and indicate that evaluations will take place at six and twelve month intervals (Section B, Sample Letter 4).

  5. After due and prayerful consideration, the deacon will write to his diocesan bishop to advise him of his intent to seek incardination in the diocese in which his is now resident and excardination from his diocese of incardination (Section B, Sample Letter 6).

  6. After the deacon has served in the new diocese for a time, usually for a minimum of two years, and after suitable evaluations, the deacon may petition the bishop for incardination assuming it is his intent to remain permanently within the diocese (Section B, Sample Letter 6).

  7. After receiving letters of suitable evaluation and the recommendation of this director for deacon personnel, or vicar for clergy and having weighed the relative merits of the deacon's petition and the needs of the diocese, the bishop will respond to the petition and indicate his willingness regarding incardination (Section B, Sample Letter 7).

  8. If the bishop expresses a willingness to incardinate the deacon, the deacon will write to his bishop of incardination for a letter of excardination which will include an explanation of the just cause(s) for the request (Section B, Sample Letter 8).

  9. The excardinating bishop executes a document to the effect that the deacon is granted a permanent and unconditional excardination. In accord with Canon 267 the letter must be signed by the diocesan bishop and in view of Canon 270 include the declaration that the excardination is being given for just cause (Section B, Sample letter 9).

  10. After receiving the legitimately executed document of excardination, the new diocesan bishop issues a decree of incardination within one month and notifies the diocese of excardination of the incardination of the deacon. Incardination to the receiving diocese is not completed until both documents have been executed and the bishops (a quo and ad quem) have been duly notified (Section B, Sample Letter 10).

Appendix

Section A

Special Issues for Deacons


One of the effects of ordination to the diaconate is first incardination. Those who are ordained deacons, married or celibate, are incardinated in a diocese the same as those who are ordained transitionally on the way to ordination as a presbyter. The incardination of deacons is subject to the same norms as the incardination of transitional deacons. It is lost only by death, loss of the clerical state, or a process of excardination and incardination.

Deacons are bound by the obligations and enjoy the rights that come with incardination, the same as any other clergy. They are exempted from some of the obligations (see c. 288), but they are obliged to reverence and obey their ordinary of incardination (c. 273), to accept a duty entrusted to them by their ordinary unless excused by a legitimate impediment (c.274,#2), not to be absent from their diocese of incardination for a notable period of time without at least the presumed permission of their ordinary (c.283,#1).

Special issues arise for deacons who have secular employment which may lead to their transfer outside the diocese. The NCCB 1984 Guidelines, paragraph 120, addressed this situation as follows:

Should a deacon, after his ordination, move to another diocese, the procedure for excardination and incardination are the same as those for priests. A deacon who moves from one diocese to another will ordinarily be admitted by the bishop into the diaconal ministry of his new diocese, as least after a period of time sufficient for the new diocese to become acquainted with the deacon and for him to become acquainted with the new diocese and with the order of deacons already at work there. If the new diocese has not implemented the diaconate, the deacon will not exercise his ministry without the permission of the bishop.

Even though he has moved, the deacon remains incardinated in his diocese of first incardination unless a formal or ipso iure process of excardination and incardination has been followed. It is important for dioceses to maintain accurate records of the location of their deacons, even though outside the diocese, and for deacons to maintain communication with the diocese of their incardination.

The following documents should be on file in the diocese or other entity for which a deacon is ordained:

  1. certificate of baptism

  2. certificate of confirmation

  3. certificate of freedom from irregularities and impediments

  4. certification that studies have been completed

  5. certificates of installation as lector and as acolyte

  6. certificate of admission as candidate for orders

  7. declaration of freedom in applying for the order

  8. for a married candidate, written consent of his wife and marriage certificate

  9. testimonial from seminary rector or other competent person concerning the candidate's qualities

  10. other testimonials of candidate's suitability, if bishop or superior decided to use them (c.1051,2)

  11. if a religious, certificate of perpetual vows; if a member of a secular institute, certificate of definitive incorporation

  12. certificate of ordination to the diaconate


Section B
LETTER 1

Letter from Deacon to New Bishop Of Diocese to Which He Is Moving


Most Reverend Chanute Vicarius
Bishop of Newminster

Your Excellency:

I am a deacon of the Diocese of Oldminster in good standing. By reason of employment for reasons of health and on the recommendation of my doctor, I shall be relocating into your diocese after the beginning of September.

Following my arrival in the Diocese of Newminster, I shall call your office to request an appointment to call on your or your designated representative. I have requested of my bishop that a letter of introduction be sent to you.

Sincerely yours,
Deacon Stephen Diaconos

cc: Vicar for Clergy
Director for Deacon Personnel

LETTER 2

Letter from Deacon to His Bishop Informing of Impending Move From Diocese


Most Reverend Christian Romanum
Bishop of Oldminster

Your Excellency:

By reason of transfer of employment (or reason of condition of health and recommendation of change in climate by doctor) it is my intention to leave the Diocese of Oldminster and resettle in the Diocese of Newminster, effective the first day of September.

It is requested that a letter be sent to the Bishop of Newminster providing information of this move with appropriate letters of recommendation and evaluation.

Sincerely yours,
Deacon Stephen Diaconos

cc: Vicar for Clergy
Director for Deacon Personnel



LETTER 3

Letter of Recommendation and Evaluation From Deacon's Ordinary to Receiving Bishop


Most Reverend Chanute Vicarius
Bishop of Newminster

Your Excellency:

Deacon Stephen Diaconos, a deacon in good standing in his diocese, by reason of transfer in employment (or for reasons of health and on the recommendation of his doctor) will be relocating into your diocese after the beginning of September.

Enclosed is a resume of Deacon Diaconos's personal history, a written record of his academic, spiritual and pastoral formation, and an evaluation of his ministry.

It is requested that favorable consideration be given to providing Deacon Diaconos with a suitable ministerial assignment.

Your assistance in this matter is deeply appreciated.

Sincerely yours,
Christian Romanus
Bishop of Oldminster


LETTER 4

Letter From Receiving Bishop to Deacon Informing of Temporary Assignment


Deacon Stephen Diaconos
Newminster

Dear Deacon Diaconos,

In accordance with the request of the Bishop of Oldminster, your own expressed desire for a ministerial assignment, following a review of your resume and appropriate consultation, in response to ministerial needs you are hereby assigned on a temporary basis to the Pastoral Care Team at St. Mary's Hospital and as pastoral minister in Saint Paul Parish, Rocky Hills, of which the Reverend George Smiley is Pastor, effective immediately.

You are accorded the following faculties of the Diocese of Newminster: (here listed)

These faculties are valid until withdrawn.

Father Smiley will also serve as your supervisor and he will conduct evaluations of your ministry at six month intervals.

Sincerely yours,
Chanute Vicarius
Bishop of Newminster


LETTER 5

Deacon's Letter to His Diocesan Bishop Stating His Intention to Seek Incardination Elsewhere


Most Reverend Christian Romanum
Bishop of Oldminster

Your Excellency:

I have been resident in the Diocese of Newminster for _____ years. It appears that I shall be living here indefinitely. During this time I have been given faculties to minister in the Diocese of Newminster.

After prayerful reflection, it is my intention, God willing, to seek incardination in the Diocese of Newminster and excardination from the Diocese of Oldminster.

Sincerely yours,
Deacon Stephen Diaconos

cc: Vicar for Clergy
Director for Deacon Personnel


LETTER 6

Letter From Deacon to Receiving Bishop Requesting Incardination


Most Reverend Chanute Vicarius
Bishop of Newminster

Your Excellency:

Having served the Diocese of Newminster _____years with favorable evaluations of my ministry, because of the pastoral need of the Diocese, my own interest and pastoral formation, I desire to continue to provide pastoral ministry.

I have therefore requested excardination from my diocese of incardination, Diocese of Olminster, and the bishop has indicated his willingness to grant this. I now hereby request incardination in the Diocese of Newminster and declare that I wish to be dedicated to the service of the Diocese of Newminster in accord with the norm of law.

Sincerely yours,
Deacon Stephen Diaconos


LETTER 7

Letter of Incardinating Bishop to Deacon


Deacon Stephen Diaconos
Newminster

Deacon Diaconos,

After consulting with the personnel board of this diocese, I am pleased to inform you that I am willing to incardinate you in the Diocese of Newminster. Please write to the Bishop of the Diocese of Oldminster requesting a letter of excardination.

After I have received a letter from the Bishop of Oldminster, I will issue a formal incardination into this diocese.

Asking God's continued blessings upon your ministry among us, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Chanute Vicarius
Bishop of Newminster


LETTER 8

Letter From Deacon Requesting Excardination


Most Reverend Christian Romanum
Bishop of Olminster

Your Excellency:

Because of the pastoral needs of the Diocese of Newminster and because of my own interest and pastoral formation, I desire to continue to provide pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Newminster.

My relocation to the Diocese of Newminster was occasioned by reason of employment. What appeared to have been a temporary arrangement I have now been assured by my employers will be on a more stable basis. The prospect of long-term residence is now assured and the Bishop of Newminster has expressed willingness to incardinate me.

In the light of the above, I am therefore requesting excardination from the Diocese of Oldminster in order that I might incardinate in the Diocese of Newminster.

Sincerely yours,
Deacon Stephen Diaconos


LETTER 9

Letter of Excardinating Bishop to Deacon


Deacon Stephen Diaconos
Newminster

Dear Deacon Diaconos,

In response to your letter requesting excardination, I am writing to grant you excardination from the Diocese of Newminster. This letter does not take effect until you receive a letter from a bishop who will incardinate you. If there should be any changes in your plans, please notify me.

With my prayers and best wishes for your continued ministry, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Christian Romanum
Bishop of Oldminster


LETTER 10

Notification of Incardination to Diocese of Excardination


Most Reverend Christian Romanum
Bishop of Oldminster

Your Excellency:

I am writing to confirm that I have consented to the incardination of Deacon Stephen Diaconos, and I have issued today the necessary letters for this purpose. Enclosed is a copy.

Your assistance in this matter has been deeply appreciated.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Chanute Vicarius
Bishop of Newminster

Enclosure

This Protocol was approved by the Bishops' Committee for the Diaconate March, 1995 and revised September 23, 2002.



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