The Diaconate is an ancient order of the Church found in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of St. Paul. It has, since the Second Vatican Council, been restored, “as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy,” in the Latin Church. The title “deacon” comes from the Greek word “diakonia,” which means “service.” Deacons are ordained, “not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches. Therefore, deacons have a special attachment to the bishop in their service to the Church. The Catechism explains that “the sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint (“character”) which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the ‘deacon’ or servant of all.” (1570)
All priests are also ordained deacons before being ordained priest. Those who are ordained deacons in preparation for the priesthood are sometimes called “transitional deacons.” Those who are ordained deacons without the intention of proceeding to the priesthood are often called “permanent deacons.” Deacons are clerics. While married men may be ordained, they may not remarry – and those who are not married are bound to observe clerical celibacy.