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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


Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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