Q: We have a permanent deacon at our parish. Some of us are wondering if the pastor sometimes allows him to do things that he’s not supposed to do… for example, occasionally the deacon preaches a homily at Sunday Mass instead of the priest. Is that permissible? What are the limits of what a deacon can do? —Jay
A: It’s a good question! Lay Catholics generally understand that because a deacon is not a priest, there are some sacramental/liturgical actions which he cannot perform. But occasionally the laity are taken aback when they see a deacon engaged in some sort of ministerial activity which they thought only a priest could do. Continue reading
Q: How is it that the martyr Philomena used to be a saint, but isn’t any more? I don’t understand how the Church can canonize a saint and then change its mind… –Mary
A: Philomena is not, and has never been a saint.
Many Catholics erroneously believe that Philomena used to be a saint, and was somehow “decanonized” by Pope John XXIII in 1961. In fact, the action taken that year by the Congregation of Rites—which back then had jurisdiction over matters pertaining to the canonization of saints—actually clarified and made more consistent the canonical status of the person commonly known as “Saint Philomena,” which up to that point had been quite confused. Continue reading
Q: A group of us in my parish would like to hire a canon lawyer. Specifically, we want to sue the bishop of the diocese for abuse of power, after he unjustly removed our parish priest without cause…. How do we go about filing a canon lawsuit? –Katrina
A: You don’t.
This is not meant to disparage Katrina, because she has unintentionally proven a good point: it is gradually becoming more common to hear of lay-persons attempting to take various types of legal actions against church officials, for violations of canon law. Unfortunately, in the minds of many Catholics, this general idea of “legal action” frequently morphs into the notion that they should canonically “sue” someone. Continue reading
(Part I of this article was posted on August 1, 2013, and can be read here.)
We’ve been looking at the sacraments administered by priests of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), an institute which, despite numerous attempts at reconciliation, still has no canonical status in the Catholic Church. As was seen in Part I of this article, all of the sacraments administered by SSPX clergy—with the exception of absolution in danger of death (c. 986.2, discussed in “Can All Priests Always Hear Confessions?”)—are administered illicitly. In other words, since these clerics have been given no authorization by competent ecclesiastical authorities to minister to the faithful, their ministry is illegal. This means simply that they are doing something that they shouldn’t be doing!
At the same time, however, this doesn’t necessarily imply that the sacraments administered by clergy in the SSPX are invalid. Continue reading
Q: What’s the canonical status of priests ordained by SSPX bishops, and what’s the canonical status of the sacraments they administer? –John
A: It would have been marvelous to be able to respond to John that the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) were now fully united to Rome, and thus had a status comparable to the members of any other religious institute in the Church. Sadly, however, this is not the case! While Pope Benedict was clearly hoping to reconcile the SSPX to the Church during his papacy, the fact is that this important item on his to-do list was left unfinished when he resigned in February. Continue reading