Who’s in Charge of the Diocese When There’s No Bishop?

Q: We have a lot of confusion in our parish…. Complicating the equation, our diocesan bishop has retired and the Pope has yet to name his successor.  We have a diocesan administrator, but he is also currently the bishop of [the diocese right next to ours].  The bishop-administrator is taking very much a “hands-off” approach to running our diocese… laypeople have tried to contact him regarding other matters and he told them to wait for the new bishop to arrive.  So many of us have begun to despair of resolving our parish problems….  Do you think maybe we should contact Rome? —Marie Continue reading

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Can I Attend the Marriage of a Catholic Outside the Church?

Q: My brother and I have a disagreement. We are both Catholic and have a decent understanding of what is required for a Catholic to marry outside the Church, including canonical form (which is well explained in some of your responses on your website).

My brother posits that attending such a wedding, in which the Catholic spouse had not obtained permission from his bishop, would be considered “intrinsically evil.” Since the Church would not consider such a marriage valid due to a lack on canonical form, the attendee would be helping to celebrate and be offering at least tacit approval of a marriage that the Church does not consider valid.

For reasons I cannot fully articulate, I don’t think the attendance can be considered “intrinsically evil”….  Can a Catholic attend the marriage of another Catholic that takes place outside the Church, when that Catholic has not received permission from his bishop to do so?  –Sharon Continue reading

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Canon Law and the Marriage of the Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph

Q:  Out of academic curiosity I thought of asking this: how can we describe the marriage between Our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph in the light of present Canon Law?  I’m not certain, but I have heard that the Church regards their marriage as a true Marriage.  If that is so, is it only “Ratum”?  So as it is “Non-Consummatum” is it not indissoluble?

Some say that Mary took a vow of Virginity when she was small.  If that is so, is her consent defective, and consequently their marriage invalid? –Supun Continue reading

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Sex-Abuse Scandals, Transparency, and the Right to a Good Reputation

Q:  In a previous article, you stated that under canon law we all have the right to privacy and a good reputation.  I’m having a hard time reconciling these rights with the need for transparency in the Church regarding sexual abuse by the clergy.  Doesn’t preserving an abusive priest’s “good reputation” mean covering up his misdeeds?

…Everyone is outraged because bishops have long been sweeping sexual abuse under the rug, but if bishops are required to protect the good name of their priests, can’t they cover up and then argue that they were just following canon law? –Zach Continue reading

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Sex-Abuse Scandals and Papal Responsibility

Q:  What can we do, as lay faithful, to remove bad clergy from office?  My guess is probably nothing.  It’s hard to believe we are completely powerless under such extreme circumstances.  Theologically, I understand why.  But, doesn’t canon law ever consider a situation when the bishop (or Pope) is so bad that the faithful can take some action against them to remove them?

I don’t expect there is anything … but I’m sure many readers would like confirmation if they suspect they know the answer already. –Emily Continue reading

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