DIMENSIONS IN THE FORMATION OF DEACONS
surrounding those men who have entered into more than one mar riage or who first entered into civil unions only later recognized by the Church require the exercise of great caution. In the latter cases, the participant’s attitude toward church teaching on marriage needs scru tiny. The same caution applies to applicants who have received a dec laration of matrimonial nullity; such men should be carefully screened. It is important to ascertain whether and how previous obstacles to a marriage commitment or possible scandal might affect their viability as participants for the permanent diaconate. Care must be taken to ascertain the canonical declaration of nullity by reviewing the relevant documentation to ensure that the reasons and circumstances that serve as warrants for the declaration of nullity are fully disclosed to the dioc esan bishop. All such cases should be carefully weighed. 151. Children of participants also need to be included in the formation pro cess in “appropriate ways.” 61 This will depend, among other consid erations, on their ages, circumstances, and interests. These occasions provide opportunities for parents and their children to support and assist each other in keeping communication open and expectations clear.Younger children and teens especially need to be encouraged to express their concerns about the public role of this ministry and how it affects their lives both within the family and among their peers.They need to express honestly their concerns over the commitment of time and energy by their parents and what this means to the life of the family and to each member. This is not only a family concern; it is a formation concern. 152. A man’s diaconal formation can be a gift in the life of his family, pro viding it with an opportunity to explore together the meaning of disci pleship, the Church, and the vocations of marriage and Holy Orders. It can strengthen the bonds between parents and their children through prayer, communication, and shared virtue. It can also be a powerful experience of community, service, and compassion.
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