Pope Francis has written the preface to a new book that contains his various pronouncements on the vocation to the diaconate which he says is “primarily realized in the service of the poor.”
The book by the Reverend Enzo Petrolino, a deacon from the diocese of Reggio Calabria-Bova in Italy, brings together the Pope’s statements about the permanent diaconate from his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires with his most recent ones as Bishop of Rome.
In his preface to the book entitled “The Diaconate in the thought of Pope Francis: A Poor Church for the Poor”, the Pontiff acknowledges that the roots of the permanent diaconate have been rediscovered in the period following the Second Vatican Council.
Writing in the forward, Pope Francis says: “The Church finds in the permanent diaconate the expression and at the same time the impulse to become itself a visible sign of the diaconia of Christ the Servant in the history of mankind.”
“Diakonia” is a Greek term in the Gospels which refers to the exercise of charity towards the poor.
The Pope writes: “The sensitivity to the formation of a ‘diaconal conscience’ can be considered the basic motive that must permeate Christian communities.”
He adds that all diaconia in the Church “has its beating heart in the Eucharistic Ministry and is primarily realized in the service of the poor who bear in themselves the face of the suffering Christ.”
The Pope recalls the moment when he was elected in the conclave and Cardinal Claudio Hummes turned to him saying: “Do not forget the poor.” It was then that in his heart he heard the name Saint Francis of Assisi, who tradition tells us was a deacon.
“He is for me,” Pope Francis writes, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and guards creation. He is the man from whom deacons must be inspired.”