(Repost) Confession and General Absolution

(The post below was written many years ago, but it addresses an issue which unfortunately is still with us, particularly before Christmas.  That’s why it seems feasible to post it again.  Have a happy and holy Christmas!)

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

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Adopting Children of Another Faith (Eastern Churches, Part II)

Q: Although my husband and I are Roman Catholics, we have attended a Byzantine parish for many years.  We adopted four children as infants from Eastern Europe.  The orphanage director gave us their baptismal certificates written in Russian, and told us that an Orthodox priest came to the orphanage occasionally to baptize.

Since we were not present at these ceremonies, we could not be certain that they had really taken place, and so explained this to our pastor.  His reasoning was that since they may have been baptized Orthodox, they belonged to the Eastern Church, or that at least the Eastern Church would have jurisdiction over them because of where they were born, and that it would be okay for him to conditionally administer the sacraments that they had already likely received.  He also said their case is different because of their birthplace and having been adopted, rather than born to us.  (I was surprised, however, that when he did administer baptism and confirmation, he did not use the language for conditional baptism and chrismation, but just the regular formulas.)

Does any of this change anything or was the pastor’s thinking misguided? –Katherine Continue reading

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Why Don’t We Marry Validly Before a Ukrainian Catholic Priest? (Eastern Churches, Part I)

Q: I was raised attending the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s Divine Liturgies because my parents preferred that Liturgy to the Novus Ordo Mass in the Roman Rite. Although my father is from the Roman Rite (and so I’ve been told I am Roman Catholic even though I was baptized and confirmed in the Ukrainian Greek Rite), we always attended, and I still to this day attend, the Ukrainian Greek Rite of worship.

My wife is Latin Catholic and we were married in the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Does this make our marriage invalid? Or does the “Church provide” for this type of innocent mistake? Is any action needed? I am willing to reconcile any issues that arise. –Kyle Continue reading

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Can a Priest Have His Ordination Annulled?

Q: Some years ago my diocese had to settle a number of sex-abuse lawsuits, all involving the same priest. More recently I learned that in the chancery, the diocesan staff had considered making the claim that the priest’s ordination was invalid. In this way, I guess maybe they thought they could argue that the diocese wasn’t legally responsible for his actions, if he wasn’t really a priest of the diocese.

They never used this argument… but now I’m wondering if a priest could theoretically petition for an annulment, like a married person? How does one determine whether a priestly ordination is valid or not? –Amy Continue reading

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Can I Get an Annulment Without My Spouse Knowing About It?

Q:  I am divorced.  The marriage had some serious issues…we spent more time living separately than living together.  It has been suggested that I just fill out the traditional annulment application and follow through on that.  After discussing this with a Catholic clinical psychologist, it may not be the best thing for me unless a request to have my petition sealed so that my ex-husband could not have access to it was granted.  I’ve come a long way in the healing process and getting away from him and need to keep it that way.  I just don’t know at this point, what I am supposed to do… –Susan Continue reading

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