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 , , , ,

Catholic Priests Who Become Non-Catholic Ministers

Q: Recently, a Catholic priest in our area left to become “pastor” of an Episcopal church.  If we assume for a moment that the Episcopal liturgy contains the valid words of Institution, and if we assume that valid matter was used, does he confect the Eucharist? –Patrick

A: Sad to say, the case cited by Patrick is far from unique. In certain countries with a sizeable Episcopal community, one far too frequently encounters priests who have left the Catholic Church to join the Church of England—often in order to get married while still remaining in some sort of ministry—and who now function as clergy in an Episcopal/Anglican parish. Since these men were, presumably, validly ordained as Catholic priests, does the Catholic Church regard their non-Catholic ministry as valid? Continue reading

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

Canon Law and Fraudulent Marriages

Q:  My fiancée and I attended a marriage-prep class in our diocese, and one of the speakers said something we didn’t fully understand.  First he urged us to be open and honest with each other about our past lives, not hiding anything from one another, which made basic sense to us.  But then he mentioned that we need to do this because otherwise our marriage could be null.

We’ve known each other since childhood anyway, so it’s a moot point for us.  Later on, though, we were wondering if telling your future spouse every single little thing about you is really necessary for a valid Catholic marriage?  What happens if you honestly forget to mention something?  –Scott Continue reading

Posted in Marriage | Tagged , , , ,