What Are the Church’s Current Rules on Indulgences?

Q: While watching live the election of the new Pope, the commentator mentioned that those receiving the Urbi et Orbi blessing could receive a plenary indulgence. My daughter was watching internet “live-streaming,” and my wife and I were watching on TV. My daughter asked me if we qualified. I did some research, and those who received the blessing in person or through the radio did qualify. I hypothesized that so did we, thanks to technical progress beyond radio. Was I right? –Bill

A: Bill’s specific question pertained to Pope Francis’ election over a year ago. Nonetheless his question is still relevant, because we can gain exactly the same indulgence, under the same conditions, from the Pope’s blessing every single year on Easter and Christmas too. Since many of us watch the event on TV or the internet, it’s helpful to know how that works. Continue reading

Posted in Other Canonical Questions | Tagged , , ,

What Does the Church Really Say About Cremation?

Q: We would like to spread my husband’s grandparents remains and I would like to arrange to have their ashes blessed.  Do you have a suggestion for making arrangements? –Kristine

A:  Very few Catholics today understand what the Church teaches about cremation of a deceased Catholic’s remains and the proper way to deal with the ashes, primarily because some of the rules have changed in the relatively recent past.  Before answering Kristine’s specific question, let’s take a look at what the Catholic Church has to say about cremation in general. Continue reading

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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

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