Stressed-Out Shepherds and Ungrateful Parishioners

Q1:  Our archbishop issued a decree that we parishioners can satisfy our Sunday Mass obligation on any other day of the week, as a way to lessen the number of people at Mass on Sundays, given that there is still a risk of the virus spreading in our locality.  I am just a layperson and, by my very limited knowledge of Canon Law, there seem to be nothing wrong about this.  But some of my friends are not sure about it.  Is this decree valid? –Jun

Q2:  Some relatives have reported that the priest allowed them to bring home a consecrated host….  They said their request was granted because they act as Eucharistic ministers in the parish.  It sounded even like they were given the privilege not as part of their role as Eucharistic ministers, but just as trusted lay faithful.
Even assuming that trust would be a valid criteria (sic) for the priest to allow something like that (which I find questionable), my questions are:
– Are Eucharistic ministers allowed to distribute communion where, when and to whom they please, following any ‘rite’ they please?
– Is there any situation in which lay Catholics are exceptionally allowed to administer themselves Holy Communion? –Chiara

Q3:  We utilized some of your research in our battle with our Bishop and Pastor about receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.  But, as you can see from the email exchange below, we aren’t having much success.
Both of them, pastor and Bishop, must obey the higher, universal law, but alas they are not.  So, how do we file a canonical suit against them? –Chris

Q4: My parish is planning on forcing us to register for Mass as a means of enforcing limits on attendance (due to the virus situation).  Can they do that?  Can you help me understand what is at play here? –Philip Continue reading

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Our Priest Cancelled Our Wedding, So Who Else Can Validly Marry Us?

Q:  My fiancé and I have been engaged for about a year, and long ago we had planned to marry on April 25.  As you can probably imagine, our parish priest cancelled the wedding entirely, citing a directive from the bishop that all weddings are postponed indefinitely because of the virus.

In our locale, the government says you can have events with up to 20 people present.  So we argued with the priest that this was unjust, and expressed our willingness to have a drastically scaled-down wedding, with no guests except a couple of witnesses … [but] he is afraid of the bishop.  So here we are.  We already completed the marriage-preparation course and the priest had told us everything is in order….

Since our parish priest is refusing to marry us, even though he had previously said nothing stood in the way, can we ask another priest in another parish/diocese to marry us instead?  Would it be valid and licit?  What would you suggest?  –Alexis Continue reading

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Episcopal Conferences and Communion on the Tongue

Q1:  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued guidelines saying that we have the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, despite the virus … but my bishop has ordered all his priests to do the exact opposite.  He won’t allow them to distribute Communion on the tongue, only in the hand.  Our diocese is in the US, so isn’t my bishop required to follow the Conference’s guidelines?  What should we do?  –Olivia

Q2:  I enjoyed reading your text about the authority of a Conference of Bishops to cancel Masses in the whole country.  I completely agree … but I would like to have your opinion about the following argument.  Canon 455.4, which addresses the authority of a conference of bishops, seems to give the conference authority to do this, if all the bishops unanimously consent to a decision.

The very thing which you addressed in the article happened in my country, Croatia—all the bishops issued a declaration suspending all public Masses and the administration of sacraments. In this case one could try to justify the legality of the decision by simply stating that all the bishops have given consent, in order that the conference would proclaim a decision which all of them have agreed will be implemented in their own dioceses.

I would be thankful to have your answer on this issue. –Father T. Continue reading

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Are We Under Interdict? Sanctions, Part V

Q:  Are we under interdict, and if so what kind?

This website taught me everything I know about interdicts.  They way I read the article, here in [my diocese] we are under particular local interdict: Public liturgy cancelled, throughout the whole diocese, for an indefinite time.

It also seems to canonically ignorant me that the bishops of [two other dioceses in my country] not only imposed the same particular interdict on all the faithful, but further imposed general personal interdicts on every priest under their jurisdiction.  In [the first diocese], for example, priests are forbidden to hear confessions and there is no exception for emergencies. In [the second diocese], priests are forbidden from administering any sacraments with the exception of emergencies.

Also, the bans have the character of both censures and punishments, although they neither allege grave crimes nor demand reparations. What gives? –David Continue reading

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Can I Make My Confession Over the Phone?

Q: My question is regarding the Sacrament of Confession by phone.  I have always taught that the Sacrament of Confession requires physical presence.  I wanted to look up the specific requirement and how “physical presence” is described by the Church, but now I cannot find anything official on that point.

I was wondering if you had some explanation or could point me to something authoritative that would prevent the Sacrament of Confession from being conducted by phone or video conference software. –Father B. Continue reading

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