A Priest's Faculties


#1

I'm not sure if I'm on the right forum, but my question is about Holy Orders (sort of). I wondered if someone could help me understand the difference between Defrocking, Laicization, and denying a priest his faculties. Thank you.

Cathy


#2

Greetings,

According to my understanding, defrocking has to do with the suspension of a priest's faculties due to some sort of incident.

Laicization has to do with a priest leaving the clerical state, in which, his faculties are suspended, and the Vatican is notified of such a change, however the man, b virtue of his ordination does not cease to be a priest.

And denying faculties is more of a diocesan issue, in which a bishop of one diocese my not grant faculties to a certain priest for x reason, while another bishop might grant him faculties in his diocese.

Peace,
Al


#3

[quote="Cateva, post:1, topic:337344"]
I'm not sure if I'm on the right forum, but my question is about Holy Orders (sort of). I wondered if someone could help me understand the difference between Defrocking, Laicization, and denying a priest his faculties. Thank you.

Cathy

[/quote]

**Defrocking **is a popular term that the media uses for when a priest is either laicized or has lost his faculties.

**Faculties. **When a priest either is denied faculties or is loses his faculties, the bishop of a particular diocese has denied him the ability to perform a priestly ministry or the sacraments in that bishop's diocese. From what I understand, faculties can be specific or general and they can be perpetual or temporary. An unusual example, when S.O.G. Archbishop Fulton Sheen was an auxiliary bishop for New York, Cardinal Spellman denied him faculties to preach homilies in the Archdiocese of New York because Spellman was punishing Sheen because Sheen won a dispute over control of the American Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Sheen, probably the greatest homilist of his generation, couldn't preach at Masses, retreats, and other functions within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of New York. He could say Mass but he couldn't give the homily. (Sheen still gave a Sunday homily in a neighboring diocese where a friendly bishop invited him to give the sermon at his Sunday Mass.)

Laicization is when the Vatican releases a priest from his priestly duties. In other words, he is still a priest but he is released from his obligations to say Mass, hear confessions, etc. In short, he is no longer an active priest and is essentially a layman. The only exception to the release is that he is expected to hear confessions and give annointing of the sick in the case of an emergency. Laicization can be voluntary (for example: a priest who wants to marry) or involuntary (for example: the priest has been found to have engaged in sexual assault of a child).


#4

Note that a laicized priest may not anoint the sick. The only priestly faculties he may exercise are that of hearing the confession of a dying penitent.


#5

Defrocking is the same as laicization. The idea of defrocking is to revert an ordained priest to the lay state. How this happens will be further described in this post.

Firstly, it is important to understand that in order for a priest to celebrate any sacrament, he must have both the sacramental power and canonical office. Sacramental power refers to the Holy Orders that the priest is given at his ordination. Canonical office is a recognition by the Church that this priest is permitted and tasked with the responsibility of discharging his duties as a priest. As part of having that canonical office, the priest is given faculties.

Regarding faculties

Faculties is a kind of permission that is given by the ordinary (such as a bishop) of the diocese that the priest is operating in. Ordinarily, most priests will be given faculties to celebrate the Eucharist, Baptism, Confession, Matrimony, and Anointing of the Sick within their home diocese. When operating in other jurisdictions, the ordinary of this other diocese will need to give them these faculties anew before they are allowed to celebrate these same sacraments. When lacking faculties, there are some sacraments he can celebrate validly (such as Eucharist). However, Confession and Matrimony ordinarily require faculties in order to be valid, hence unless he obtains permission, they will not be valid. Additionally, regardless of whether it is valid or not, any public celebration of the sacraments in the absence of proper faculties is considered illicit.

Regarding holy orders

According to the Augustinian or Catholic view of Holy Orders, ordination imparts an indelible imprint upon the soul of the receiver. Hence, anybody who is ordained priest is sacramentally "a priest forever, like Melchizedek of old". Therefore, no man can remove this indelible imprint upon the soul of the priest, regardless of what they do. Laicisation is an action performed by a man (the bishop), therefore it cannot change the sacramental power of the priest.

Laicisation/defrocking versus denial of faculties

Now, we can discuss the difference between laicisation/defrocking and denying faculties.

What laicisation refers to is a removal of the canonical office of priest as well as all faculties of the priest. Since as I have stated above that the ordination leaves a sacramental imprint upon the priest that cannot be removed by any man, laicisation cannot change the sacramental character of the laicised priest as a priest. He still retains the Holy Orders he was given on the date of his ordination, until the day he dies. However, he no longer has the office of priesthood within the Church. In the view of the Church, he has become a layman and lost all faculties to celebrate the sacraments, and is to all intents and purposes treated like a layperson, except in certain circumstances in extremis which are specified in Canon Law.

Denial of faculties, on the other, is a more vague term. Strictly speaking, it simply means that the priest has lost the permission to celebrate any number of sacraments, whether or not he still retains the canonical office of priest. Usually, what happens in that a travelling priest enters a diocese, but the reigning bishop prevents him from celebrating any sacrament validly. He still remains a priest, but is not allowed to perform the public work of a priest within that diocese.

An example is Fr. Helmut Schüller, an infamously heterodox priest. While travelling the USA to promote his anti-Catholic "Appeal to Disobedience" cause, he was denied faculties by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Therefore, he is not permitted to celebrate anything in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia unless there is a dying Catholic penitent who requires a confession, or a dying non-Christian who requires a baptism. Furthermore, he is not able to do anything else a priest is usually empowered to do, such as giving homilies or public speeches within Church properties. However, Fr. Schüller still remains fully a priest within the Archdiocese of Vienna with full faculties to celebrate the sacraments as a priest in Vienna, and is therefore still a priest in the eyes of the Church, even though he may not have permission to discharge his powers as a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (or other places where he is denied faculties). Many Catholics have been clamouring for his laicisation. If he were to be laicised, then he would be no longer considered a priest, we would no longer address him as "Father", and he would no longer have faculties to celebrate anything anywhere. He may celebrate the Eucharist validly, but it would be illicit. However, in his lay state, he would still be permitted (and in fact compelled) by Canon Law to hear the confession of a dying penitent and baptise a dying non-Christian.

I hope this helps and wasn't too long-winded. :)


#6

We need to remember that a priest receives many of his faculties from the Bishop to whom he was "incardinated" when he received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Incardinate funny word
It is used in Italian to signify the Hinged over which a door pivots and also the legal principles over which a process is substantially standing and which are hard to contest.

So for example a priest cannot hear confession and give absolution except in the Dioscesis (where his Bishop reside) unless there is a life and death situation and no other priest is available. Also when a priest is visiting another Dioscesis in order to dispense those Sacraments as well as saying mass for example needs to have been permitted by the Bishop of that Dioscesis.

When a priest is defrocked it's like when a door is pulled from it's hinges. A door is ONLY a door if it is mounted on it's proper frame and attached to the house. Otherwise it is just a piece of wood.

Like all Sacraments, though it leaves an indeleble mark in the soul of the person that receives it and that is precisely why even a "defrocked" priest never ceases to be a priest.
Even if he commits apostasy. GOD will judge him when he faces his judgement.

Hope this helps a little.

Peace :thumbsup:


#7

Not at all “long winded” … I’ve seen a lot of posts that were far “windier” and yet had far less valuable content. :wink: IOW, I liked it. :slight_smile:

One thing I would comment on is ad-hoc faculties. In most* cases, where a priest carries a valid celebret (without restrictions) from his proper Ordinary, he is usually granted “ad hoc” faculties for Mass and even Penance and Unction as well as Baptism when traveling within another diocese. Matrimony can be problematic due to requirements of civil law.

  • The main exception, as you rightly pointed out, concerns cases like Schüller, where faculties are specifically and particularly denied by one or more diocese(s).

#8

It was very helpful and not long-winded at all. I appreciate your time and effort.

Cathy :wink:


#9

Thank you all for your answers. I appreciate it. I do have a follow-up question. If a priest is laicized by his own request and then later marries, is he in a state of mortal sin? :confused:

I'm not sure I understand the imprint part of the priesthood. If he is always a priest, which I understand, and part of the priesthood requires celibacy, how can he marry and be in a state of grace? I realize I may be misunderstanding the celibacy part or the imprint part. I know priests take a vow of celibacy at the time of ordination.


#10

[quote="Cateva, post:9, topic:337344"]
Thank you all for your answers. I appreciate it. I do have a follow-up question. If a priest is laicized by his own request and then later marries, is he in a state of mortal sin? :confused:

I'm not sure I understand the imprint part of the priesthood. If he is always a priest, which I understand, and part of the priesthood requires celibacy, how can he marry and be in a state of grace? I realize I may be misunderstanding the celibacy part or the imprint part. I know priests take a vow of celibacy at the time of ordination.

[/quote]

He must obtain dispensation from the Pope in order to marry.


#11

Oh, okay. Thank you!

Cathy


#12

[quote="Cateva, post:11, topic:337344"]
Oh, okay. Thank you!

Cathy

[/quote]

You are welcome. :thumbsup:


#13

[quote="Cateva, post:8, topic:337344"]
It was very helpful and not long-winded at all. I appreciate your time and effort.

Cathy ;)

[/quote]

[quote="malphono, post:7, topic:337344"]
Not at all "long winded" ... I've seen a lot of posts that were far "windier" and yet had far less valuable content. ;) IOW, I liked it. :)

One thing I would comment on is ad-hoc faculties. In most* cases, where a priest carries a valid celebret (without restrictions) from his proper Ordinary, he is usually granted "ad hoc" faculties for Mass and even Penance and Unction as well as Baptism when traveling within another diocese. Matrimony can be problematic due to requirements of civil law.

  • The main exception, as you rightly pointed out, concerns cases like Schüller, where faculties are specifically and particularly denied by one or more diocese(s).

[/quote]

Thank you for your kind words. :D

You're absolutely right. I had initially included a bit about a travelling priest customarily needing a celebret before obtaining faculties, but I removed it in a bid to shorten the word length. In hindsight, I should have left it in and also explained that faculties are granted by the bishop upon presentation of the celebret or equivalent and not something that is expected by visiting priests. :)

Erratum: Also, nobody noticed my mistake of saying that a bishop could prevent a priest from celebrating a sacrament validly. I should not have included the word 'validly', because that it is not true that a bishop can prevent a priest from celebrating any sacrament validly. While many sacraments require faculties in order to be valid, the Eucharist can be valid without the need for faculty. :p


#14

[quote="Cateva, post:8, topic:337344"]
It was very helpful and not long-winded at all. I appreciate your time and effort.

Cathy ;)

[/quote]

[quote="malphono, post:7, topic:337344"]
Not at all "long winded" ... I've seen a lot of posts that were far "windier" and yet had far less valuable content. ;) IOW, I liked it. :)

One thing I would comment on is ad-hoc faculties. In most* cases, where a priest carries a valid celebret (without restrictions) from his proper Ordinary, he is usually granted "ad hoc" faculties for Mass and even Penance and Unction as well as Baptism when traveling within another diocese. Matrimony can be problematic due to requirements of civil law.

  • The main exception, as you rightly pointed out, concerns cases like Schüller, where faculties are specifically and particularly denied by one or more diocese(s).

[/quote]

Thank you for your kind words. :D

You're absolutely right. I had initially included a bit about a travelling priest customarily needing a celebret before obtaining faculties, but I removed it in a bid to shorten the word length. In hindsight, I should have left it in and also explained that faculties are granted by the bishop upon presentation of the celebret or equivalent, and is not something that is to be expected by visiting priests. :)

Erratum: Also, nobody noticed my mistake of saying that a bishop could prevent a priest from celebrating a sacrament validly. I should not have included the word 'validly', because that it is not true that a bishop can prevent a priest from celebrating any sacrament validly. While many sacraments require faculties in order to be valid, the Eucharist can be valid without the need for faculty. :p


#15

Celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma. Remember, the Church ordains married men, just not that many for the Roman Rite. Religious priests take a vow of celibacy but diocesan priests simply promise to be celibate, they don’t take a vow.

When a priest asks to be laicized, the requirement for celibacy is often lifted at the same time as he receives his laicization.

When he is laicized in punishment, the requirement for celibacy is often maintained. We saw that in Canada a few years ago when Raymond Lahey was laicized after his fall from grace. Not only did he lose all his faculties, he was required to remain celibate.


#16

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