How Can A Priest’s Ministry Be Illicit?

Q:  I am a seminarian, and recently heard a priest tell a story of when he was a catechist, prior to seminary, and had to do a communion service. He had expected a priest to show up and start Mass (he didn’t think he’d have to finish the service, basically), but that didn’t happen. So he ‘panicked’ and went through the Missal as if he were saying Mass. This was a weekday Mass and the people didn’t seem to think he was a priest, but several of ‘his friends’ did come up for ‘communion.’  He never told anyone while in seminary.  He does not seem to be aware of the problem.

Did I just overhear a canonical impediment?  Is this priest validly ordained?  Because if not that seems like it would need to be addressed.  Immediately.  But I want to make sure I am not jumping the gun. –Greg Continue reading

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Can the Bishop Refuse to Ordain Me Because I’m Too Old?

Q: I’m interested in becoming a permanent deacon, but the director of the program in my diocese says the upper age limit, which I have passed, is set by canon law.  He wrote to me, “The upper age limit for entering our formation process is 61.  By Canon Law, deacon candidates must be no older than 65 at the time of ordination.”  So the bishop won’t ordain me.

I thought that this was a guideline set by the Episcopal Conference, and that the local bishop could overrule it if he wished….  Can you help me understand the situation better? –John Continue reading

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Confession and General Absolution (Repost)

Reposting this piece is unfortunately becoming a Christmas tradition, since reports continue to surface of abuses of the Sacrament of Penance during this busy season.  For that reason it may be worthwhile to read it once again.   A very happy and holy Christmas to all!

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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If I Become a Catholic, What Happens to My Marriage? (Part III)

Q: Neither me or my wife are baptized, but we both desire to be and plan on going through the RCIA process in order to do so. I believe I understand that our marriage is valid according to natural law because neither of us are baptized, and as soon as we are baptized it becomes sacramental.  Is it possible to get married again, but through the Church after our baptism/confirmation/communion? We would very much like to be married by a priest and now our marriage by a government official kind of seems lacking in gravitas. Thank you! –Michael Continue reading

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Canon Law and Selling a Church

Q: Peace!  Lately, members of a local sect had posted online their acquisitions of supposed Catholic parishes in the US and UK. I wonder if that is canonically lawful, selling Parish Churches especially to sects? —Chadwick Continue reading

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