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

Posted in Catholic Education | Tagged , , , ,

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

Posted in Catholic Education, Other Canonical Questions | Tagged , , , ,

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

Posted in Parish Life | Tagged , , , ,

Fertility and Marriage Validity

Q:  If God established marriage for the procreation of children, does it affect the validity of a marriage if one spouse is infertile?  What if you know for sure that you can’t have children, can you get married in the Church anyway?  How does that work? –Donna

A:  As we’ve seen before in this space, the Church holds that marriage is, by its very nature, ordered to the well-being of the spouses and the procreation and upbringing of children (c. 1055.1).  As Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World stated nearly 50 years ago, “By its very nature, the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of offspring, and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory” (Gaudium et Spes 48).  Continue reading

Posted in Marriage | Tagged , , , ,

(Repost:) Is Confession Still an Easter Duty?

(This was written some time ago, but since it has been incredibly popular in the past few weeks of Lent, it seems worthwhile to bring it to readers’ attention once again.  A new column will appear next week.  A blessed Easter to all!)

Q: When I was a kid, everyone was required during Lent to make his “Easter Duty.” Every parishioner received a card from the parish. When we went to confession before Easter, we handed the card to the priest. By Easter he had a huge stack of cards, showing which parishioners had made their Easter Duty and who hadn’t. But nowadays, people hardly ever go to confession like they used to, and nobody ever talks about Easter Duty. Has this requirement been abolished like so many other things? –Janet Continue reading

Posted in Confession, Parish Life | Tagged , , , ,