Invalid Baptisms and Unaccountable Clergy

Q1:  We’re from Michigan, and the invalid baptism of Father Matthew Hood in the Detroit Archdiocese is all over the Catholic news … lots of people are now wondering if their children were invalidly baptized too, or even if their own baptisms were performed invalidly.  Others are saying we should all leave it to God and not worry about it.  What should we do if we’re not sure our children’s baptisms are valid?  It doesn’t seem right for the Church to leave us in uncertainty after what’s happened to Fr. Hood….  Can we insist that they be baptized again conditionally? –Nicole

Q2: In light of this recent news story, it struck me that this would be a good topic for a post.  Hard to believe the Archdiocese took such a hard-nosed position.  Seems they could have found the priest’s baptism to be illicit but valid. –Mike Continue reading

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When (and How Much) Can a Bishop Tax a Parish?

Q1: We found out totally by accident that when we donate money to our parish for any purpose, the diocesan bishop takes more than 10% of it as a tax for diocesan expenses. Even when the parish takes up a collection for foreign missions, or for relief efforts after an earthquake or massive flooding or something like that, the bishop takes a cut. We were never openly told that he does this. Is it legal? –Daniel

Q2: I thought a lot about your article about withholding financial aid from churches … and not to “punish” a parish or priests just because of the bishop.  I’m feeling more and more called to avoid giving money to [my bishop], but not sure how to do that when parish contributions are “taxed” at 16% or something like that.  One person I met recently suggested that you can pay a parish’s bills directly (e.g., pay the electric bill) … ?  –Kelli Continue reading

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When Can a Pastor be Removed From Office?

Q:  In this article you mentioned in passing that a bishop can’t remove the pastor of a parish just because the pastor does something the bishop doesn’t like.  Can you elaborate?

I ask because in Wales a pastor was castigated for celebrating a wedding during the lockdown, and there was talk in the news about the bishop possibly removing him from the parish for doing this.  I don’t see how a pastor could be removed for ministering to the people of his parish?  That’s essentially punishing him because he didn’t violate canon law… –Cameron Continue reading

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Can We be Required to Wear Masks at Mass?

Q1:  My question is simple.  There is no requirement by my diocese that we must wear masks at Mass.  Can a parish priest require it? –Bill

Q2:  We just received an email from our parish communications director stating that we will be required to wear face coverings to Mass….  Is this something that the parish has the authority to mandate?  Are they permitted to deny my family (with 5 small children, of whom 3 would be “required” to also wear masks, over the age of 2) entry to Mass if we do not wear masks? –Jessica

­­­­Q3:  Our bishop, who has had all parishes completely shut down since March, has recently issued “guidelines” regarding the opening of churches for Masses again. In the guidelines, it is written that the congregation is to wear masks. Several of our parishioners have let us know that they cannot wear masks because of their health; one woman has asthma attacks and cannot breathe with a mask on, another gets severely claustrophobic and cannot wear one for an extended period of time, such as the length of a Mass. The bishop’s published guidelines make no mention of provisions for those with medical reasons for not wearing a mask.

My pastor has claimed that Canon Law gives the bishop the authority to deny these Catholics’ right to attend Mass under the current circumstances and that he himself will enforce it.  He also spoke about our responsibility to protect those around us and the bishop’s need to comply with the requirements of civil authority.  Where I am, government officials do not require wearing masks.  Other Catholic churches in [nearby dioceses] do not require masks…. –Angela Continue reading

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Can the Bishop Cancel Our Annual Parish Fundraiser, Because of the Virus?

Q:  A recent discussion with a Protestant friend led me to do some research, and when I visited your website, I saw the many questions about the withholding of Sacraments from the faithful during COVID-19.  I was absolutely shocked to learn that it was in fact illegal for the bishops to decree this, and thus for the priests to go along with it.  It’s still rocking my world.

My question is smaller, and due to a recent announcement that my bishop has canceled all parish fall festivals, which are usually the main fundraisers for the year.  I wondered if he had the power to do that, or of that was also an overstepping of his authority—telling parishes whether/how/when they can fundraise.  Clearly this is much less important than the withholding of the Sacraments (thankfully, this has ceased in my diocese, but I ache for those who are still prohibited), but I wondered nonetheless. –Anastasia Continue reading

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