Being a nun while being married?



I had this discussion about something that is more hypothetical then real life situation…

A friend of mine told me that it is possible for a married couple to became: a priest (for the husband of course) and to became a nun (for the bride) if both of them agree to separate while being still married (anyway, whatever the might do they will still be married).

They would need a dispensation from the pope to do so!

Is it possible even if not common? Is it true?

I supposed that this is a canonical thing anyway…



Errr. No.

However in very rare cases a converted man who was a pastor could become a priest. His wife could join a strict 3rd order with a habit and practice celebacy (tho thats not common either)


The guy, who told me about it, argued that there was the case of Peter Van der Meer and that other case about Claude & Louise d’Elbée…

I didn’t mentioned it because they are a little bit before Vatican II…

That Claude became a priest in a apostolic community and she became a Carmelite

So what?

Evenezer :confused:


I don’t know if this is possible now but I have definitely read about saints that were married, but agreed to separate and enter religious life. I really wish I had my Guide to the Saints book handy, because I would try to look the couple up…but I don’t remember the names.


It *is *possible for a married man to become a priest (Eastern Catholic, for example or Anglican with permission from the Pope).

Depending on the vows that the wife would take, that may be possible as well.


I think it was done at one time, but not now.

I have heard of present-day couples with some wealth mutually agreeing to enter a religious order or seminary (and giving their order their joint accumulations) if the other died first.


Well, in theory yes it is possible, even now. Clerical celibacy is a discipline/law of the Church, not part of its doctrine. As such, of course the Pope can give a dispensation and allow it. Would this happen today? I seriously doubt it. But possible, of course; it would be denying the Pope’s authority to say otherwise.

Heck it is possible for the Pope to relax the discipline of clerical celibacy all together. Will it happen? Not in my opinion.


Ouch - I guess depending on the case some Anglicans that have come home can get Holy Orders. However for the wife 3rd orders would not require celibacy but chastity in that case. Just as a point of interest in the case of the SFO the Tau is considered the habit. It’s all academic anyway.


Hello evenezer,

Yes, it is possible but uncommon. The last time I am aware of this happening (not exactly, as the man also joined a religious order but was not pursuing ordination) was in 1983. In addition to receiving a dispensation from the law regarding the valid entrance into religious life (c. 643.1.2) and a dispensation from the law regarding the impediment of having a wife and being ordained (c. 1042.1), the couple themselves would have to freely give up their rights as husband and wife and allow the other to not fulfill the obligations of the same (c. 1135). This last part is not something the Pope can simply dispense from–it is part of the nature of marriage and can only be given up by the spouses.

It is also interesting to note that if it were to happen that somehow a validly married man was freely ordained without having any dispensation of any sort, that ordination would be 100% valid (c. 1024). It would, of course, be illicit. On the other hand, if a married person attempts to enter religious life, their entrance would be invalid. (see the above canons, 643 & 1042).



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