I think most people are understandably going directly to the webpage wherein the Four Options are spelled out. I added "Summary" sections to the four points for easier reading.
This post is a bit too long, I think, for normal blogging purposes, so I am offering here only excerpts from a longer discussion of these four options at my website, available here.
There are, I think, ultimately only four ways that the question of continence for married deacons and priests in the West can be settled.
1. Deacons and priests, even if married, must observe perfect and perpetual continence.
This is, I have argued, the way Western canon law actually reads now and is the way it has read for at least a millennium. Acknowledgement of this position would require no changes in the law and would occasion no modifications in or repudiation of the canonical expectations long made on married clerics and their wives.
Given, however, that thousands of married men have been ordained to the diaconate and that hundreds have been ordained to the priesthood, without them or their wives having been informed of the obligation of perfect and perpetual continence attached to the clerical state, some accommodations for their situations would obviously have to be made.
This accommodation for current married deacons and priests could occur in a couple of ways: . . .
2. Canon law requires priests, but not deacons, to observe perfect and perpetual continence.
There is virtually no support for drawing this sort of distinction between deacons and priests in Western canonistics, but as a canonist I cannot conclude for or against the idea as a possible development in the theology of holy orders, to which theological development canon law would then have to defer. Such an understanding would represent a modification, but not a complete repudiation, of the Western tradition of clerical continence (in regard to deacons), but it would occasion no need to change the law in regard to priests because they are already bound, as above.
If this distinction between deacons and priests were found to be authentic, the exemption from Canon 277 that was originally proposed for married deacons could simply be reinserted in the law, or an authentic interpretation or an instruction in forma specifica could be issued exempting married deacons from the obligation of continence. . . .
3. Canon law requires priests (and perhaps deacons, mutatis mutandis) to observe only periodic or temporary continence in regard to the celebration of the Eucharist.
There is virtually no support for this possibility in Western canonistics, but as a canonist I cannot conclude for or against the idea as a possible development in regard to the theology of holy orders, to which theological development canon law would have to defer. If this development, which seems essentially to mirror an Eastern approach, were found appropriate for the West, various canonical and liturgical laws would need to be modified in its wake. . . .
4. Neither deacons nor priests, if married, need observe any sort of continence.
This position is the de facto assumption of nearly all current married deacons and priests in the Roman Church, but it finds no support whatsoever in Western canonistics, and for that matter, it fails to match even mitigated Eastern practices in regard to continence for married clergy. . . . The formal acknowledgement of this position would represent a complete repudiation of the Western (and probably even of Eastern) tradition in regard to clerical continence, but it could be achieved as above (e.g., authentic interpretation, instruction in forma specifica).
1. . . . Western married deacons and priests, despite belonging to the Church that has unquestionably held with nearly absolute consistency for a celibate (and, even if married, a completely continent) clergy, have---doubtless for lack of direction---adopted an approach to continence that, not only has no support in Western law or tradition, but fails to satisfy even the mitigated continence expectations of various Eastern Churches. Some people are not struck by the fact that, with no express approbation or endorsement by ecclesiastical authority, such a dramatic abandonment of Western expectations regarding an important area of clerical life has occurred in so short a time. But, as I said in my Studia article, I think it very important, both for the operation of law and for the stability of the faith community, that such a complete change in clerical practice be formally recognized in law if it is genuine, or be reasonably but firmly removed from practice if it is not. . . .
I think that Ed might be on to something here...what do you think? Honestly, I think that it is the only way that a permanent deaconate can be effective.