Why Is the Priest Telling Me Not to Talk to a Canon Lawyer?

Q: As you advised, I spoke to my parish priest [about the invalidity of my marriage] and he “kindly and strongly” advised me on a couple things:

1) That I should not even be discussing this with you because you aren’t an authority and for all I know you could be anyone, that I should take my concerns to the priest who originally married me and then, if needed, to the chancellor of the diocese because they are my authorities.
2) He was certain that things were handled appropriately and that I shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

I really don’t think I will get anywhere with this priest…. I kept insisting that it matters and he kept correcting me although I have read the canons for myself and I know he is incorrect.

Given that he doesn’t want to even hear the legal reasoning or recognize you as a credible source, what do you suggest?—Karl Continue reading

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When Can You Get a Dispensation, and Who Can Grant It?

Q1: I have a question regarding St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), when it falls on a Friday in Lent. A friend says that although a dispensation may or may not be given, one may dispense oneself due to the fact that it is a saint’s feast day. Is there any truth to that claim? —Joanna

Q2: My non-Catholic husband agrees that our baby will be baptized a Catholic, but he’s insisting that his brother and sister-in-law (both non-Catholics) have to be the godparents.  I already knew that would be impossible because I read your article… I met with our parish priest to try to figure out some acceptable way to finesse this with my husband.

To my surprise, the priest said it’s perfectly fine to have two non-Catholic godparents, he can grant a dispensation from the rule.  Is that true?  You didn’t say anything about this in your article and so I now I am confused… –Maddy Continue reading

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When Can You Have a Catholic Wedding Without a Mass?

Q: I’m engaged to an evangelical Christian.  He’s very open to the Catholic Church though, he attends Mass with me sometimes and is okay with raising our children Catholic.

The problem is his evangelical parents, who are convinced that Catholics worship statues and have blood-sacrifice rituals, etc.  They said that they won’t come to the wedding because a Catholic Mass involves cannibalism and idolatry.  My fiancé and I both tried to reason with them, but nothing we say does any good, they just don’t want to hear it.

We were already far along in our wedding planning, and had booked the wedding-date at my parish… naturally my fiancé wants his parents to be present at his wedding, so everything came to a halt.  I met with my pastor about this and I was so stressed-out that I started crying, and the pastor was trying to comfort me.

He said we can have the wedding without a Mass, if that will appease them.  My fiancé spoke with them and they will come provided that they aren’t being asked to attend any “satanic sacrifice”… my pastor insists that this is permissible, but now I am wondering if that’s definitely true?  I’ve never been to a Catholic wedding that wasn’t part of a Mass.  –Jennifer Continue reading

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How Can You Tell a Real Catholic Monastery From a Fake?

Q:  There is a “monastery” of two men [in my diocese].  They SAY they are Roman Catholics and that they abide by Catholic dogma.  I’m pretty sure most people would assume they are legitimate Catholics.  [One of them] has stated in the past he is a fully (sic) ordained Roman Catholic Priest.  He does not do so now–I have questioned him explicitly on this point.  He has been saying Mass and giving (sic) sacraments…. He was very evasive when I questioned him about his actual status within the clergy. I could not determine from what he said if he was retired or defrocked, laicized, whatever.  The only thing he will say is, “I’m the abbot superior of a monastery.”  I find his “gofundme” site disturbing. Why does a one-man monastery need $100,000?

The bishop has not deigned to return my messages…. Apparently there is no way the laity can do a background check on any clergy.  I have to assume the bishop doesn’t give a rat’s a**.

…Is this really okay with the Catholic Church?  Does the Catholic Church really condone this?  It is affecting our family–my granddaughter refuses to go to church, citing “Religion is crap, it’s only a cover for dirty, greedy bastards who steal from women and children and **** boys.”  I continue to go to Church, but I am becoming very discouraged at what I believe to be heretics who are condoned by canon law.  I’m only a lay person, where are the people Christ said would lead me?

My original question: is this heresy?  Unless I am told otherwise, I will continue to believe a con game is going on with the assurance of forthcoming miracles and that heretical practices like necromancy are practiced and encouraged.  –Jim Continue reading

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Canon Law and the Private Ownership of Relics (Part II)

Q1: I have a question after your article “Canon Law and the Private Ownership of Relics, Part I” was shared with me.

A few weeks ago, I was in Rome on pilgrimage. I received from a Passionist priest at a monastery there a first-class relic of St. Gemma Galgani, a saint I dearly love. It came at no cost and with an official certificate from their postulator general.

But yesterday another priest informed me that there are directives from the Holy See and canon law discouraging the private ownership of first-class relics; he said that he and others received first-class relics from the same location, but they were taken by the ordinary bishop of a neighboring diocese once the bishop broke the news regarding private ownership of relics.

I was very surprised to have heard this.  The relic was given to me by a priest of the congregation, and it seemed like a very common practice of the Passionist monastery…

As I devout Catholic, I want to do right by God and Holy Mother Church. Your article says that today it is not possible to legally obtain first-class relics from Rome on a personal basis, so I am concerned with the idea that I very innocently but illegally obtained and now possess a first-class relic. Does it seem like this monastery has the legal right to distribute such relics of saints associated with their congregation, or is it an abuse? Why does it seem like few priests are aware of these directives? What should I do? –Phil

Q2: In this article, you spoke of a parish priest petitioning Rome for the relics of a saint to be placed in the altar of a parish church.

I’m interested in knowing if there is anything in canon law regarding other custodians of relics— not the Vatican, but, for example, the religious order to which a saint belonged.  Are there any rules or laws governing how a religious order, for example, acts as custodian of the relics of a saint who belonged to their order?

In the parish where I work in [Europe], we have a number of relics…. Often we get email requests, always from other countries, for us to “send a relic” to a person by mail.  Once an American woman even sent an email telling us when she’d appear in our city and asking where, exactly, she “should go to pick up my relic” of a certain saint. She expected just to appear and walk away with a first-class relic.

Even the clergy can be clueless about “what you have to do to get a first-class relic.”  I could not imagine that a parish priest would not realize that an American vacationing in Europe cannot just walk into a local parish and “pick up a relic” like a souvenir t-shirt or coffee mug… –Cornelia Continue reading

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