Q: I know that some male Episcopalian
priests have become Roman Catholics. Can they be assigned
to parishes like regular Catholic priests? What about Episcopalian
bishops and deacons?
A: Pope Leo XIII commissioned a study on this in 1895.
The majority of its members concluded that ordinations in
the Anglican Church are null and void. The following year
the pope wrote Apostolicae Curae, an apostolic letter
confirming that position. Even so, some Catholics consider
this an open question.
In 1966, Pope Paul VI gave a bishop’s ring to Archbishop Michael
Ramsey of Canterbury, an Anglican. Last October, Pope John Paul II gave a pectoral
cross to Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury.
Several of Anglicanism’s 39 Articles, drafted in the 16th
century, were carefully phrased to emphasize the differences in belief between
the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church (for example, about transubstantiation).
Some Episcopalian priests have become Roman
Catholics and later have been ordained as Roman Catholic
priests. Cardinal John Henry Newman (died 1890) and Cardinal
Henry Edward Manning (died 1892) did that. Manning was a
widower when he became a Roman Catholic. Eventually, he
became archbishop of Westminster (England).
Since 1982, approximately 130 married and 25
celibate Episcopal priests in the United States have become
Roman Catholics and have later been ordained as Roman Catholic
priests. (Although some Anglicans and Episcopalians describe
themselves as “Catholics,” in the rest of this answer that
term will be used to designate only “Roman Catholics.”)
If Anglican priests and Protestant ministers are married when they become Catholic
priests, they promise not to remarry should they become
widowers. Those who are celibate at the time of ordination
promise to remain celibate.
Roman Catholic men ordained as permanent deacons
make a similar pledge, reflecting the practice of the Orthodox
and Eastern Catholic Churches. Episcopalian deacons who
become Catholics and are ordained as Catholic deacons make
the same promise.
Most married Roman Catholic priests serve as teachers or chaplains
or engage in some other non-parochial ministry.
In early 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed Alan Hopes as an auxiliary bishop
for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, England.
Father Hopes was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1968,
became a Catholic in 1994 and was ordained a celibate, Catholic
priest the next year.
Ecumenical relations between Roman Catholics and Episcopalians have
been complicated by the decision of the Episcopal Church
U.S.A. to ordain as a bishop a priest involved in a same-sex
union and by the decision of several regional churches within
the Anglican communion to ordain women priests and women
have heard that once a person reaches a certain age (perhaps 70), he or she
is no longer required to attend Mass every Sunday, to fast or to abstain. My
82-year-old mother-in-law says she has never heard that. Can you help resolve
A: In the Roman Catholic Church,
those who have completed “their majority” (age 18 in the
United States) and not yet begun their 60th year are obliged
to fast on the prescribed days (Code of Canon Law,
Your mother-in-law is correct about abstinence
and attending Sunday Mass. There is no age when these obligations
automatically cease. A person could, however, be unable
to do either because of a health condition or other legitimate
the Catholic Church condemned The
Da Vinci Code? I read it and consider it trash. Why hasn’t there been
an outcry from Rome about the misrepresentations found in this book?
A: Although it is presented as fiction,
some parts of it reflect meticulous research. Other parts
of it are sheer invention, such as the assertion that Jesus
and Mary Magdalene were married and had children.
On page 169, one character says, “Everyone loves
a conspiracy.” This novel is certainly full of conspiracies,
especially the assertion that when Constantine the Great
became emperor in the fourth century, the Catholic Church
suppressed reliable information about Jesus (provided by
the Gnostic gospels) in favor of a more easily controlled
“party line.” In fact, the Church’s agreement on Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John was reached more than 100 years before
Constantine became emperor.
In 1967 the Catholic Church abolished the Index
of Forbidden Books. Since that date it has challenged certain
books about doctrinal or moral issues, but not novels.
I am puzzled that an author who incorporates
very careful research in some sections (layout of the Louvre,
for example) misrepresents the controversy over the Gnostic
gospels and uses the term “the Vatican” to describe who
made all major Church decisions since the fourth century.
The author, Dan Brown, practically says that
all the Roman Catholic Church’s problems throughout history
originate from its decision to have a celibate clergy. Hardly.
Brown’s misrepresentations are not confined
to the Catholic Church. On page 309 one character asserts
that sacred prostitution was practiced in the Jewish Temple
in Jerusalem. Not so.
The same caution that viewers need regarding
TV docudramas is valuable here.
Newsletters/SFS/an0101.asp, readers can find
a useful article about how the Church settled on the 27
writings of the New Testament.
is the Church’s stand about people who claim to communicate with the dead? Is
that like praying to saints? Or is it wrong? They are not claiming to foretell
the future—only to communicate with deceased people.
and women who make their living by claiming to receive messages from dead people
run the risk of violating the First Commandment—not to have any god besides
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “All forms of
divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the
dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future” (#2116).
The text continues: “Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading,
interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and re-course
to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last
analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers.
They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”
Those who claim to communicate with the dead are not doing the equivalent
of praying to saints. Few people claim to receive direct messages from saints—and
for those who do, such claims can never require belief or assent on anyone else’s
Q: My Catholic co-workers and I are confused about whether the
Roman Catholic Church in the United States allows eating chicken on Ash Wednesday,
the Fridays of Lent and Good Friday. Some say that the Church’s law prohibits
both red meat and chicken. Others disagree. Also, do we have to eat fish?
A: On the days indicated above, Catholics who have completed their
14th year may not eat meat. That includes chicken, which the Church considers
to be meat.
Your confusion probably arises because some vegetarians do
not consider chicken to be meat and will, therefore, eat it. Other vegetarians
consider fish to be meat and thus prohibited for them. The Catholic Church does
not consider fish to be meat.
All vegetarians are free to follow their preferences—except on those
days when their definition of meat conflicts with the Church’s understanding
No Catholic is required to eat fish on a day of abstinence. He or
she may eat fruits, vegetables, cereals or any other food that is not meat.
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