Q: There are certain enumerated acts which trigger automatic, latae sententiae excommunication. Some of these acts could conceivably be performed by a Pope; for instance, it seems a Pope could help procure an abortion. Is it, then, theoretically possible for a Pope to be excommunicated?
When I have asked others about this in the past, the response has usually been, “God forbid that a Pope would do such a thing!” I agree with that sentiment, of course, but it dodges the question.
My guess is that, were a Pope to abuse his free will in this way, God would short-circuit the dilemma by striking him dead before the theoretical problem became a real dilemma. –Howard Continue reading
Q: In theory, can a Pope commit heresy? If so, I’m trying to figure out who could declare that he was a heretic. What would happen? –Thomas
A: This question had already been asked, before the September 24 announcement that a group of Catholic scholars from around the world had issued a “filial correction” to Pope Francis, warning him that some of his statements and writings have caused heresy to spread within the Church. Needless to say, the news renders this discussion more timely than ever. Continue reading
Q: Last week we visited a missionary priest’s organic farm…. It was Sunday and I told the priest that we were worried that we wouldn’t get to Mass that day, since the farm is far away from the nearest parish church.
So the priest offered to say Mass for us. However he warned us that they do not have hosts or Mass wine. He said he would use the whole wheat bread we had for breakfast and banana wine they made.
During the “Mass,” the priest did not follow the sequence provided by the Roman Missal, though the readings, Prayers of the Faithful, blessing of gifts, “consecration” and doxology were there.
I was shocked, really, by what I witnessed. But I convinced myself that the priest was aware that it was not intended to be a Mass since he warned us beforehand.
However, is the use of inappropriate species excusable?
We will be going back there…. I am planning to bring unconsecrated hosts and wine if ever we are faced with such an inconvenient situation. I am especially worried since we will bring a youth group there. –Kevin Continue reading
Q: What, if anything, does canon law say about fasting before receiving Holy Communion? It used to be that you had to fast since midnight of the night before; then it was three hours before, then one hour before, and now some Catholic friends tell me you don’t have to fast any more at all. Others tell me that you do, but coffee and tea don’t count. Who’s right? –Anna
A: Anna is right that the rules on fasting before receiving the Eucharist have changed in the past several decades or so. While the changes were meant to make it easier for Catholics to receive Holy Communion, the sad fact is that even the less strict, current requirements are frequently disregarded altogether. And many Catholics don’t even know that the Eucharistic fast even exists! Let’s look briefly at the changes that have been made in the law on this subject over the years, and then we can more easily understand and appreciate the law on fasting before receiving Holy Communion today. Continue reading
Q: At a family reunion this summer, we learned that the priest who had married my cousin and her husband has been removed from the parish. He was accused of pedophilia or some other sexual impropriety… and he admitted it.
When my cousin wasn’t listening, my aunt wondered out loud if the marriage was not celebrated validly? She said that the priest was living a false life, which would also affect the sacraments he conferred. I’m sure that this argument is bogus, but I didn’t know how to refute it. Could you explain this issue so that I’ll be able to discuss it intelligently in the future? –Kelsey Continue reading