Can the Pastor Expel Another Priest from the Rectory?

Q:  Our parish priest (let’s call him Priest #1) retired, leaving the parish with a large amount of money before his retirement was announced.  He volunteered to stay on as pastor emeritus and say some of the Masses at the parish.

The new parish priest (Priest #2) started spending a lot of the money re-doing the rectory, making renovations that Priest #1 considered unnecessary and undesirable; and Priest #2 ended up throwing Priest #1 out of the rectory!

Priest #1 is still pastor emeritus of the parish, but he is not to be found there if you are looking for him (something I learned the hard way).  He is driving from church to church, saying Masses and conferring sacraments in at least two other parishes.  I am unsure how he has been managing financially….

While I suspect Priest #2 didn’t appreciate good advice and/or was jealous of Priest #1 and his popularity with the laypeople, and Priest #1 might well have gotten cantankerous in his old age, I am writing to you because I don’t know if there is anything that can be done about Priest #2, including but perhaps not limited to ecclesiastical sanctions for breaking the canon law by causing someone to end up a vagabond cleric.

If the Cardinal is no help, how do I take this to Rome? –Laura Continue reading

Posted in Clergy Issues, Parish Life | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Can the Pastor Expel Another Priest from the Rectory?

Who’s in Charge of the Parish When There’s No Parish Priest?

Q:  We recently lost our priest and the priest from another church was named the administrator.

Now there is internal fighting on who reports to whom and who’s in charge.

I think that the DRE [Director of Religious Education] is in charge of all the various faith committees. The Office Manager is in charge of all office business, maintenance, cleaning and secretarial staff.  I feel that the DRE and the Office Manager are supposed to work together,  but neither is each other’s boss.

I feel that both the DRE and the Office Manager report to the Administrator… I keep hearing that canon law says the DRE is in charge of the parish and everyone reports to her.

What is canon law on this? –Denise

A:  The “canon law on this” is very straightforward, so it’s not clear why there is so much apparent confusion at Denise’s parish.  Let’s first take a look at what the law says about who’s in charge of what, when a parish priest is at the head of a parish (as is the norm).  Then we can look at how things change—or don’t—when a parish loses its priest and is waiting for the bishop to appoint a new one. Continue reading

Posted in Clergy Issues, Parish Life | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Who’s in Charge of the Parish When There’s No Parish Priest?

If My Ex-Spouse Dies, Does That Make My Second Marriage Valid?

Q1: My first husband and I were married in the Church but then we divorced.  I later married again in a non-Catholic ceremony.  My first husband just passed away.  Does that mean my second marriage is now valid? –Carrie

Q2: If you divorce and remarry outside the Church, and then your first spouse dies, can you receive Communion again? –Rob

A:  Before addressing the legal issues pertaining to this very common scenario, it’s worth noting that as has been said several times before in this space, canon law follows theology. When it comes to marriage, canon law reflects the Church’s theological teaching on this sacrament.  This fact is directly relevant to these two questions, because if you understand Catholic theology on the sacrament of matrimony, the law regarding this particular situation is fairly easy to deduce.  So let’s first review the Catholic Church’s understanding of marriage, and then we’ll be able to see why the law is not so simple as our two questioners may think. Continue reading

Posted in Marriage, Sacraments | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on If My Ex-Spouse Dies, Does That Make My Second Marriage Valid?

Can You Be Both a Catholic and a Sedevacantist?

Q: I have recently become friends with someone who follows Sedevacantism. It has provided an opportunity for me to be challenged to more fully understand church teaching. Would you consider sharing your wisdom and expertise to explain why Sedevacantism is heretical? –Sarah

A: A tiny but consistent minority of Catholics would identify themselves as sedevacantists, and it’s a phenomenon that doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.  Let’s take a look at what the term actually means, and then we’ll see how its proponents fit (or don’t) into the universal Catholic Church. Continue reading

Posted in Crimes and Sanctions, The Pope | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Can You Be Both a Catholic and a Sedevacantist?

Granting Absolution to an Accomplice in Sin

Q:  Many young ladies have approached me with this question: they were taught that a woman who breaks the 6th commandment with a Catholic priest, if she goes to confession to the priest, that her sins will never be forgiven and that she will always face problems the rest of her life.

Then they asked, what about the priest?  If he goes to confess his sin to his fellow priests is he forgiven, or does he have to go to the bishop or the pope to forgive him that sin of the 6th commandment? –Father A.

A: This question comes to us from Africa, where Father A. is engaged in ministry.  Yet it seems a pretty safe bet that it will stump most Catholics (including many clergy) on other continents as well!  Everybody knows that priests can forgive sins in the sacrament of Penance, but what happens if a penitent confesses a sexual sin in which the priest himself was involved?  This scenario is nothing new—it has been with us for many centuries, and so it should surprise no one that canon law addresses the issue specifically.  Let’s take a look, and in the process we’ll see whether or not these young ladies have identified an inequality in the law. Continue reading

Posted in Clergy Issues, Confession, Crimes and Sanctions, Sacraments | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Granting Absolution to an Accomplice in Sin