Annulments and the Authority of the Parish Priest

Q: In 1987, I was married in the Catholic Church. Both of us were Catholics.  We civilly divorced after three years of marriage. In 1994, I explained the previous marriage situation to a priest who was helping me and my new fiancée get married in the Catholic Church.  He had me begin the annulment process, but it took too long and was not completed, no determination was made.  The priest…told me that getting an annulment was a “formality,” and married us in Church in 1995 even though I had not had my previous marriage in the Catholic Church declared null by the Tribunal of our diocese.

Am I validly, licitly married under Canon Law?  Do I still need to get an annulment? –Patrick Continue reading

Posted in Clergy Issues, Marriage | Tagged , , , , ,

Why Can’t a Deacon Celebrate This Marriage?

Q: My fiancé is a baptized, faithful Greek Orthodox and I am Roman Catholic. We are about two weeks away from our wedding and received an email that the priest at my church, the location of our wedding, will no longer be able to perform the ceremony.

In a panic, we reached out to a deacon that we have a relationship with and would love to be our officiant.  However, we are being told that we are not allowed to have a deacon as an officiant because my fiancé is Greek Orthodox.  We are not having Communion or a Mass at our wedding. Can you please provide us some clarity? –Michelle Continue reading

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

Repost: Confession and General Absolution

(The following column was originally posted some time ago–but recent email-queries indicate that this problem is unfortunately still with us, particularly before Christmas. Consequently, it seems worthwhile to address this issue once again. A blessed Christmas and Happy New Year to all readers!)

Q: Last year, I visited my relatives at Christmas time, and we all went to their parish to a communal penance service before Christmas. There were probably almost a hundred people there, and only one priest. He didn’t hear each person’s confession, as we expected. Instead, he stood near the altar, said some prayers, and blessed all of us. Then he told us we were absolved of our sins, and that was it. Was that priest wrong to do what he did? Did God really forgive us our sins?  –Robert Continue reading

Posted in Confession, Parish Life | Tagged , , ,

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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