How Can You Obey a Law, If You Don’t Even Know It Exists?

Q:  Our Archbishop issued a Decree requiring the St. Michael prayer be prayed after all scheduled Masses.  For a variety of reasons, not every parish implemented the Decree and some don’t pray the prayer as directed.

Now, after four years, the Archbishop has allegedly sent a letter to be read at all parishes replacing the praying of the St. Michael prayer with a prayer for vocations.  Not every parish has heard this letter.  I learned about it in a facebook group….

If a bishop’s decree is law, then can it be cancelled with a letter, and one not everyone gets?  How are decrees supposed to be rescinded?  What happens when priest and people don’t obey a bishop’s decree?  How does canon law apply to bishops’ decrees?  Thank you. –Susan Continue reading

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What’s the Difference Between a Pastor, and a Parish Administrator?

Q: I read your piece about the pastor of a parish having to be a priest, not a layperson.  That leads me to ask another question, what’s the difference between a pastor, and a “parish administrator”?

The pastor of our parish died in early 2021, and the bishop replaced him not with a new pastor, but with a parish administrator.  It’s a younger priest who has never been a pastor before.  He has been at our parish for almost two years now.

Why isn’t he called a pastor?  As far as I can tell he does all the work of a typical pastor….  I was wondering if he has a different title because he’s new to the role and is kind of like a “pastor in training,” is that possible? –Margot Continue reading

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Confession, and General Absolution (Repost)

This piece has been reposted repeatedly over the years during the Christmas season–because incredibly, the illegal abuse of General Absolution by some parish clergy is still happening!  Thus it makes sense to repost it yet again.  A very happy and holy Christmas to all readers!

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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When Can a Layperson Be a Pastor of a Parish?

Q: My sister-in-law and I were having an innocent conversation about our parishes, and ended up in a huge fight.  I made some comment like, “the pastor of a parish always has to be a priest,” and she went ballistic, insisting that in her diocese there are parishes with lay pastors, even women pastors.  She named several parishes and specifically told me who their lay pastors were.

I know that in some places, there are more parishes than there are priests, but does that mean you can actually have a pastor who is a layperson?  I’m wondering how that could work since they can’t say Mass … what does canon law say?  If it makes any difference, my brother and sister-in-law live in [a rural diocese with a dire shortage of priests]. –Gene Continue reading

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Overdoing the Anointing of the Sick

Q: I attended Sunday Mass while on vacation … the priest preached about the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.  Here are some of the statements he made.

“We all need to receive this sacrament.”
“Anointing is not just for people who are dying or very ill, it’s for everyone, because you never know when you’re going to die.”
“Catholics should be anointed regularly.  The Church gave us this sacrament for a reason, we should make use of it.”

The priest chided the congregation, because so many parishioners hadn’t come to him to be anointed.  At the end of Mass, people lined up as they do to receive Communion, and from what I could see, the priest anointed each of them quickly on the hand.  This seems to happen regularly at this particular parish.

I have a degree in theology … [and] I know what the Church teaches about this sacrament.  Almost every single thing this priest told the people about anointing was the exact opposite of authentic Catholic doctrine.  You’ll probably tell me to report this to the diocesan bishop, but that’s not my question.  My question to you is, is this anointing that he’s giving every healthy parishioner even valid?  It doesn’t strike me that it would have any effect, if you’re not dying or seriously ill or otherwise in danger of death. –Maria Continue reading

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