I used to be a fan of Fr. Z. I still read him regularly, but his commentariat seemed to have a certain... disdain... for permanent deacons, and while Fr. Z. doesn't visibly share that, there is an undercurrent that rises to the fore whenever permanent diaconal continence* is discussed.
This is still an issue in the case of married permanent deacons. Canonists such as Ed Peters argues – convincingly – that, as clerics, they are obliged to abstinence by can. 277 and tradition upon which it rests.
There is an old saying "Roma locuta. Causa finita" (Rome has spoken, the argument is over.)
In recent months, published opinions have appeared in scholarly journals and on Internet blogs that have raised questions about the observance of diaconal continence by married permanent deacons in the Latin Catholic Church. The opinions have suggested that the clerical obligation to observe “perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (c. 277, §1 CIC) remains binding upon married permanent deacons, despite the dispensation provided to them in canon law from the obligation to observe celibacy (c. 1042, 1° CIC).
In response to repeated requests for an authoritative clarification on this matter, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations and the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance requested the assistance of the USCCB President in seeking a clarification from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
Earlier this week, we were informed that Cardinal-designate Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, with Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, Secretary, has forwarded to Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan the Pontifical Council’s observations on the matter (Prot. N. 13095/2011). The observations, which were formulated in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, clarify that married permanent deacons are not bound to observe perfect and perpetual continence, as long as their marriage lasts.
Should you have any questions about this response, please contact Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations. In addition, please feel free to share this response with those within your diocesan curia who will find it helpful.
So we have a ruling. The same thing came up when a brother deacon wrote a blog post claiming that we, as deacons, were obligated to pray all the hour, not just Lauds and Vespers. That has been clarified by the USCCB.
* Lack of sexual activity in a permanent deacon's marriage.