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Daily Catholic Question

Can a priest leave the priesthood and be reinstated?

I've read two commentaries on canon law, talked to a religious major superior of men and a canonist experienced in handling the cases for dispensations from the obligations of religious vows and the priesthood. My canonist friend immediately wanted to know the period of time involved. Before the first (1917) Code of law, canonists used to speak of the possibility of a married couple, without other family responsibilities, separating and joining religious orders. In that era the possibility of one having earlier been a priest would be most unlikely, since dispensations from the obligations of priesthood would have been very rare.

When I talked to the major religious superior, he was not nearly so sure the Holy See would not accept a petition of a priest who left after 1980. He could give no certain answers. But an existing valid marriage would certainly complicate matters. My canonist friend said a bishop or religious superior could submit a petition in the case you propose, but it's anyone's guess as to the decision. The religious superior thought the granting of such a petition might depend on the bishop who submitted it. Is his judgment particularly respected by the Holy See? The canonist also thought the grounds for reinstatement would have to be the need of the Church—not the man's personal good. And the Holy See would have to be assured this man would be placed in a ministry where he would be acceptable to the People of God. The way to return would certainly not be made easy.

I'm not going to speculate further on whether a former sister, married to an inactive priest, would be allowed to return to religious life. I think the superior of a sisters' religious order could speak to that better than I can. But I do not think it too likely if the priest is still alive.


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Sunday, September 1, 2013
Daily Catholic Question for 8/31/2013 Daily Catholic Question for 9/2/2013


Cornelius: 
		<p>There was no pope for 14 months after the martyrdom of St. Fabian because of the intensity of the persecution of the Church. During the interval, the Church was governed by a college of priests. St. Cyprian, a friend of Cornelius, writes that Cornelius was elected pope "by the judgment of God and of Christ, by the testimony of most of the clergy, by the vote of the people, with the consent of aged priests and of good men." </p>
		<p>The greatest problem of Cornelius's two-year term as pope had to do with the Sacrament of Penance and centered on the readmission of Christians who had denied their faith during the time of persecution. Two extremes were finally both condemned. Cyprian, primate of North Africa, appealed to the pope to confirm his stand that the relapsed could be reconciled only by the decision of the bishop. </p>
		<p>In Rome, however, Cornelius met with the opposite view. After his election, a priest named Novatian (one of those who had governed the Church) had himself consecrated a rival bishop of Rome—one of the first antipopes. He denied that the Church had any power to reconcile not only the apostates, but also those guilty of murder, adultery, fornication or second marriage! Cornelius had the support of most of the Church (especially of Cyprian of Africa) in condemning Novatianism, though the sect persisted for several centuries. Cornelius held a synod at Rome in 251 and ordered the "relapsed" to be restored to the Church with the usual "medicines of repentance." </p>
		<p>The friendship of Cornelius and Cyprian was strained for a time when one of Cyprian's rivals made accusations about him. But the problem was cleared up. </p>
		<p>A document from Cornelius shows the extent of organization in the Church of Rome in the mid-third century: 46 priests, seven deacons, seven subdeacons. It is estimated that the number of Christians totaled about 50,000. </p>
		<p>Cornelius died as a result of the hardships of his exile in what is now Civitavecchia (near Rome). <br /> </p>
American Catholic Blog For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist. —St. Augustine

 
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