The late cardinal Martini has said the final truth in an interview recently. As usual the normal news reports in the Catholic church ignored completely this message and instead portrayed an obedient Martini who never said a word against the church! They accuse the media then of manipulating and expanding some negative comments about the church!! How cheeky for the man who lives in a glass house, to start throwing stones!! Well, Martini was a cardinal, or a prince of the church! Can we say more? Well for us it is no surprise. Everybody receives criticism in his work. The church is still so sensitive when it receives the criticism! Consequently it is never going to do some soul searching exercise. The result would be a total disaster as many people are leaving the church…..we are talking with some Catholic countries in mind where the numbers are dwindling drastically. Imagine in other countries where no one is preaching etc…..

The Catholic church is 200 years behind the times'

The Catholic church is 200 years behind the times’

The Catholic church is 200 years behind the times’

We are not the type of people who criticize and be happy about it. We wish to give a helping hand. We know how to deal with problems mentioned by the common people (mostly sexual phobia which the church, did not eliminate completely). The priorities of the common man and woman are not that of the unmarried males who wish to go around in particular type of clothes and conducting liturgy (public prayers), which are more near the middle ages than the life of today!

We have repeated many times on this website that priests who leave the parish can still celebrate masses and all the sacraments. Some people, obviously owing to lack of information, still have the idea that the priest is doing something wrong. Well a priest is forever! Nobody can take away his gift. People need priests. Most of the married priests were and are still valid priests not only owing the sacrament they received but as well the life they lead. They are family models for others. They are not simply fillers because in many parishes there is the lack of priests.

Sister Margaret and Rev Richard has each outlined the plan for the church when it comes to convey a true message about sexuality. Yet those at the top how do they react? They simply dismiss these people as unorthodox and not catholic!!! Well what they said is being lived by Catholics all around the word. The living word of God is NOT just a book but rather the living testimony of Catholics today. How the Catholics live today is very important as it is telling us the progress of the living community of the believers.

A Question of Rights
By James E. Biechler

“A recent article in a Catholic paper reported how a midwest parish, closed by its bishop, successfully persuaded a married priest to celebrate the Eucharist there each week. An adjacent story told of a Catholic woman who has produced a brochure advising Catholics of the procedures they can follow in obtaining the services of married priests. The article claims there are nineteen canons which ‘give married priests the continued power to minister the sacraments and lay people the right to receive them.’ Are these people anarchists or can a serious case be made in canon law for their actions?”

–P.M.B., Lisle, IL

I think I read the same stories you did and am not at all surprised by your question. In the story I read, the reporter did not go on to cite any of the canons which allegedly legitimate public ecclesiastical ministry by married priests. The clear assumption of the articles is that the priests in question either have lost the clerical state by laicization or have been suspended (prohibited from exercising sacramental ministry) by their “attempting” marriage. These two categories would include nearly all of the 110,000 “former” priests in the world.

It is generally understood that the Code of Canon Law prohibits resigned priests, even those who remained unmarried, from exercising the normal ministerial functions reserved to priests. Since the sacramental priesthood cannot be lost–a priest cannot be “unordained”–those sacraments which require only Holy Orders for their validity, i.e., Holy Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick, can be validly performed even by resigned or “non-clerical” priests. When sacramental validity depends upon jurisdiction in addition to Holy Orders, then the sacraments of Reconciliation and Confirmation for those in danger of death can be added to the list. Canon 976 specifically allows a suspended priest to grant absolution to a person in danger of death and Canon 883, n. 3 does the same for Confirmation. Canon 1335 goes even further in permitting those suspended from the exercise of the priestly ministry, as long as their suspension has not been juridically declared (an extremely rare procedure), to celebrate the sacraments, sacramentals and acts of governance whenever requested by a member of the faithful “for any just cause whatsoever.”

Thus we see how the Code of Canon Law implements its general rule given in Canon 213 which states that “the Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments.” The very last canon of the Code (1752) states that “the salvation of souls…is always the supreme law of the Church.” Canon 843 gives another general principle about the sacraments when it states that “the sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who ask for them at appropriate times, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.” The clear intent of canon law is to insure that no one is denied any of the resources of spiritual ministry.

We must conclude that not only may a priestless parish request the services of a married priest, the priest himself ought to respond in a positive way if he is able. A Catholic group need not wait until the situation is dire before taking steps to find a suitable Eucharistic minister. In matters of this kind the broadest interpretation of the law should be used. In fact, there are good theological arguments supporting a priestless group’s right and duty to simply designate one of its members to preside over the celebration of its Eucharistic meal. The grace of God cannot be confined by the laws of men.

Dr. Biechler, an emeritus professor of religion, is a member of ARCC’s board of directors. He also holds a licentiate in canon law and is a longtime member of the Canon Law Society of America.

E-mail Comments to Dr. Biechler

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