Could Women Ever be Ordained Deaconesses?

Q: A coworker was talking loudly at work about an article she’d read, endorsing the ordination of women as deacons, and she was all for it.  It didn’t sound right to me, though, but I couldn’t put my finger on why not.  Would it be possible for the Church to ordain female deacons?  If not, what’s the argument against it? –Katie

A: At first glance, this would appear to be a question with a straightforward answer.  Continue reading

Posted in Clergy Issues | Tagged , , ,

Am I Permanently Barred from Ordination to the Priesthood?

Q: I have been discerning my vocation, trying to determine whether or not I am called to be a priest.  I happened to find a commentary on canon law in my school library… it says that a person is barred from being a priest, permanently, if they have ever been a heretic, apostate, or schismatic.  I was baptized outside the Church (Lutheran), and professed agnosticism for a time before converting to Catholicism around the time I was 17.  Does that make me incur the irregularity? –Alex

A: Alex has encountered a legal concept that has not been addressed before in this space: the notion of an irregularityContinue reading

Posted in Canonical Issues Involving Non-Catholics, Clergy Issues, Holy Orders | Tagged , , ,

Canon Law and Non-Infant Baptism

Q: My neighbors are Catholics who didn’t practice the faith for years, but now they are returning to the Church.  Their children were never baptized, so they went to the parish priest to arrange for their baptism.  But he refused, because he said the children are too old!  He claims the children are mature enough to decide for themselves if they want to be Catholic or not…. The whole thing sounds bizarre.  The parents truly want to raise their children as Catholics.  Is it possible the priest doubts their sincerity?  What can they do? –Rachel Continue reading

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Canon Law and Consummating a Marriage

Q:  Could you please explain what ratum sed non consummatum means with respect to marriage?  I always thought that this was an antiquated term that no longer had any relevance, but recently I encountered it [in a current context]…  Why would it matter to the Church whether a marriage has been consummated or not? –Fiona

A: The Latin phrase ratum sed non consummatum is translated literally as “ratified but not consummated,” and it has been used by theologians and canonists in regard to matrimony for many centuries.  These four Latin words actually contain a wealth of information about the way the Church views marriage and its indissolubilityContinue reading

Posted in Marriage | Tagged , , ,

Can In-Laws Marry in the Church?

Q: I teach a Bible Study and I ventured into the area of annulments.  I was explaining consanguinity as an impediment to marriage. Someone raised a related issue that I could not answer.  Deuteronomy 25 presents the Levirate Law, which obliges a brother to marry his deceased brother’s wife, in certain circumstances.  The question asked was whether or not the Church allows a brother to marry his deceased brother’s wife today? –Mark

A: In “Can Cousins Marry in the Church?” we looked at the law regarding the marriage of those related by consanguinity, i.e., of  persons who are blood relations.  Mark’s question, however, refers to the marriage of those who are related not by blood, but by a prior marriage—in other words, to in-laws.  Can a widowed man marry his sister-in-law in the Church?  Let’s see what canon law has to say about this subject. Continue reading

Posted in Marriage | Tagged , , , ,