What Does the Church Say About Usury?

Q1: There is no canon in the current Code of Canon Law relating to usury.  The 1917 Code contained an explicit provision, canon 1543.  What is the Church’s latest position on usury? –David

Q2: I am a lay Catholic in need of answers to the question of usury in the Church.  The Catholic Encyclopedia is ambiguous, to say the least: the Third Lateran Council (1179) and the Second Council of Lyons (1274) condemn usurers, but then the Fifth Lateran Council (1517) said usurers “ought not to be condemned in any way.”  What does the Church define usury as?  When (if at all) is it permitted? –Thomas

A: David is absolutely correct that the current Code of Canon Law is silent on the subject of usury.  Over the course of previous centuries, however, there have been countless church regulations and declarations on the subject—which, as Thomas notes, often contradicted each other.  Let’s take a look at how the term “usury” is defined, and at past church pronouncements about it.  Then we might be able to draw some conclusions as to why the code says nothing about usury today—and what current Catholic teaching on the subject really is. Continue reading

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Can a Priest Refuse to Hear My Confession?

Q: My teenager wanted to go to confession after Mass, so he went to the sacristy to ask the priest.  Inside, Father was just hanging around, laughing and joking with the altar servers.  When my son asked for confession, he was told to come back at the time when confessions are heard, and that he should check the schedule if he doesn’t know when that is!

Don’t we Catholics have the right to receive the sacraments from our priests?  How could the priest violate my son’s rights like this?  What should we do? –Francesca

A:   In “When Can a Priest Refuse to Absolve a Penitent in the Confessional?” we looked at a case in which a person went into the confessional and confessed his sins, but the priest wouldn’t grant absolution.  The situation described by Francesca is certainly related, but it’s not identical: in her son’s case, the priest wouldn’t even hear the confession to begin with.  Can a priest do that? Continue reading

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How Can a Priest Transfer to Another Diocese?

Q: I am a priest in good standing in the Diocese of X.  After years of constant friction and acrimony when dealing with my bishop, I discerned after much prayer that it is better to move to another diocese….

I found [another bishop] who fully understands the situation and wants to incardinate me into his own diocese, but my own bishop is refusing me excardination.  He gives no reason and I assume that it is motivated by a sort of vengeance.  Does he have the legal right to do this?  I don’t dare ask the canonists of my diocese this question… –Father J. Continue reading

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What Does it Mean to Have Your Marriage Blessed? (Part III)

Q:  Please help me with a matter weighing on my conscience.  My husband and I married in our parish church 16 years ago, but I agreed to get married there only because that’s what my parents wanted.  Unlike my husband, I wasn’t really practicing my faith, I just went through the motions… gradually I had a reawakening of faith, and now am fully committed to the Catholic Church.  But I’m afraid our marriage isn’t valid because I didn’t embrace concepts like indissolubility at the time of our wedding, nor did I want children, although I later changed my mind….  What do we need to do, to make our marriage right? I asked our parish priest, and he told me not to worry about it, but I am worried!  –Marilena Continue reading

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What Does it Mean to Have Your Marriage Blessed? (Part II)

Q: My family is doing genealogical research, and we’ve discovered discrepancies in the birth-dates of a couple of our great-grandparents….  They married very young, and depending on which birth-dates are correct, we’re thinking it’s possible they may really have been too young to marry validly in the Church.  If a marriage is invalid due to the age of the spouses, does it automatically become valid when they’re old enough?  Or do they need to have another wedding ceremony once they’ve reached the minimum age? –Frank Continue reading

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