When Can a Non-Catholic Go to Confession?

Q: A close friend of mine was baptized in an evangelical church, but he plans to become a Catholic.  But he has not yet been officially received into the Catholic Church because his evangelical family disapproves.  He’s been through RCIA, and attends daily Mass, though I’ve never seen him receive the Eucharist, and he confirmed to me that he won’t until his official admittance into the Church.

But he goes to confession regularly. He says he believes absolutely all the Church teaches. Is his confession valid? –Ado Continue reading

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Canon Law and the Private Ownership of Relics

Q:  Before my father passed away, he gave me a relic of the Holy Cross surrounded by gems, that he received many years ago from a religious sister, who obtained it from a cardinal.  It has the original seal on the back, and I also have the 1966 document in Latin from the Vicar General of His Holiness the Pope about its authenticity.

My question is, am I permitted to have this relic in my private home, or should this be turned over to someone else in the Church?  I tried to research this online but couldn’t find anything definitive.  I want to transfer this relic to my nephew…  –John Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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