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

Q: My daughter stopped practicing her faith and was married to a protestant in his church.  Now she has come back, and her protestant husband is preparing to become a Catholic too, next Easter.  They understand that their marriage isn’t valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church, but the parish priest told them he can just “bless their marriage” and it will be all right.  Can that possibly be true? –Eamon Continue reading

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Who is Responsible for Children’s Religious Education?

Q:  A group of us parents have complained to the pastor about the parish’s Director of Religious Education (DRE) without results.  The DRE is a laywoman with complete control over the textbooks and curriculum used in catechism classes, and she removed the textbooks that were used for years, replacing them with a different series which contains nothing but fluff.  We parents don’t feel that our children are learning anything substantive about their faith… The pastor told us that the catechism program is the DRE’s responsibility, and he can’t interfere with the way she does her job.  Is that true?  It doesn’t sound right, since the pastor is the one who hired her…  –Karen Continue reading

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Can a Bishop Expel a Sister from his Diocese?

Q:  There’s a battle going on in our diocese, between our bishop and a group of sisters who teach in X school….  Does the bishop have the authority to kick a sister out of the diocese, if her Mother Superior insists that she should stay? –Jennifer

A:  As we saw back in “Notre Dame, Obama, and the Bishop’s Authority,” the relationship between a diocesan bishop, and members of religious institutes engaged in the apostolate inside his diocese, can get tricky depending on the circumstances.  There’s no question that a bishop always has a significant degree of authority when sisters, brothers, or other religious work within the boundaries of his diocese—but that authority is not absolute.  Continue reading

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When are the Laity Permitted to Preach?

Q:  I have a question about preaching: what happens in times and places where there is no priest or deacon available to hold Mass, and a communion service or another form of liturgical prayer is held? –Mark

A:  While the scenario that Mark describes is not the norm, there’s no denying that in some parts of the world it’s unfortunately becoming increasingly common.  Let’s see first what the code says about preaching in general, and then look at what the Church has to say about preaching in those particular situations where, due to a shortage of clergy, no priest or deacon is available. Continue reading

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