Catholics in Non-Sacramental Marriages

Q1: I plan to marry a Catholic, who just got a divorce. An annulment of his marriage could take two years or more, which at my age is not a course I want to take…  Since I am not baptized, I understand our marriage would not be a sacramental one, even if it takes place in church after the annulment comes through.  I’m trying to understand the difference between a non-sacramental marriage ceremony held in church, and one performed civilly outside it.  Apparently it’s not the non-sacramental-ness of them that makes the difference, so what does? –Linda

Q2: My fiancée is Catholic, and says she has to get married in a Catholic church, but as I am a Buddhist I want to have the ceremony in a Buddhist temple.  Her family and priest are insisting that the wedding must be Catholic…. What can I say to her about Catholic law that will convince her to marry in a Buddhist ceremony as I want? –Hong Continue reading

Posted in Canonical Issues Involving Non-Catholics, Marriage | Tagged , , ,

Can a Deacon Ever Get Married?

Q: Can a deacon get married? –Nicole

A: This is a simple-sounding question, with an answer that is more involved than one might think!

As was seen in “What Can (and Can’t) a Deacon Do?” we have to bear in mind that deacons are ordained clerics.  As such, they are bound to observe perfect and perpetual continence—in other words, they must live celibate, chaste lives for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven (c. 277.1).  It is only logical, therefore, that a man who has received the sacrament of Holy Orders cannot validly marry (c. 1087).

All that being said, however, we need to make a distinction between transitional deacons, who are seminarians studying to become priests; and permanent deaconsContinue reading

Posted in Clergy Issues | Tagged , , ,

Canon Law and Parish Councils

Q1: Can a parish council ever vote to overrule a decision made by the pastor of the parish? If not, then what’s the point of having a parish council in the first place?  –Stephanie

Q2: Is it obligatory for every parish to have a finance council? –Damian

A: Many people wrongly confuse their church’s parish council with a finance council. In actual fact, they are two distinct entities, one of which is legally required while the other is not.  Let’s see what canon law has to say about each one in turn. Continue reading

Posted in Parish Life | Tagged , , , ,

Tithing and Excommunication

Q: I am a graduate theology student, and in class we covered the reforms of the Council of Trent. I came across this passage from Chapter 12 of the Decree on Reformation of Session 25: “The holy synod therefore enjoins on all, of what rank and condition soever they be, to whom the payment of tithes belongs, that they henceforth pay in full the tithes, to which they are bound in law, to the cathedral church, or to what other churches… they are lawfully due. And they who either withhold them, or hinder them [from being paid], shall be excommunicated…”

As a young graduate student, my income is very limited and my giving to the Church has been small. I have only given to a parish occasionally, and from the small amounts of cash in my wallet. In light of the text from Trent above, has my lack of giving to a parish caused me to be excommunicated?  If so, does this discipline still apply in light of the current code of canon law saying nothing of the sort? Any help would be much appreciated! –Anthony Continue reading

Posted in Other Canonical Questions, Parish Life | Tagged , , ,

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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