Can a priest receive a dispensation from his vows of celibacy?

When my mother was dying from cancer (she passed away 3 months ago) and I was caring for her in my home…she was under hospice care. The hospice care company helping to provide care for my mom had a pastoral service where a pastor of the same faith as the client would come to visit the sick every few weeks.

One day a pastor who I will call “Pastor Bob” called me and asked if I needed pastoral counseling for me and for my sick mother so I said yes. When he came to my house I asked him if he was a Roman Catholic priest since he was in plainclothes. He stated that he was a married priest and that he had many years ago received a dispensation from his vows of celibacy from the Catholic church so that he could marry. He then went on to say that the Catholic Church no longer allows this type of a dispensation.

I was alittle unsure of what he said since I have never heard of a Roman Catholic priest ever receiving a dispensation from his vows of celibacy before, but… being that I am not too knowledgeable about canon law or dispensations I took this priests word as being the truth. After praying with my mother and I he gave us Communion.

Afterwards I started to question whether what the priest said was true or not and if I had sinned in receiving communion from this priest. Can priests receive a dispensation from their vows of celibacy and was the Communion that my mother and I received validly consecrated?

Please clear up this matter for me as I am worried that I may have committed a sin unknowingly.

Thank you and God bless

The answer is yes and no.

A priest is only relieved of his promise of celibacy if he is laicised. A priest is a priest forever, however he has no faculties if he asks permission and is granted to be released from his promise of celibacy. Such priests are to live as the laymen. I do believe this priest was disingenuous in what he said. He is, of course, always a Catholic priest due to the indelible mark of ordination but he has no faculties from the Church.

There is an outside chance that he may be a priest who has been dispensed from celibacy and the clerical state but who has been permitted by the local bishop to administer communion. However, even then, he was misleading to you and your mother about his status.

I can’t say with 100% certainty that the Eucharist he gave you is valid because I do not know what words of consecration he used, what intention he had, or if he had gotten the host from a local parish. However, if the Eucharist was consecrated with the proper words and intention then it **is ** a valid Eucharist since a validly ordained priest is always able to consecrate (even if he is removed from ministry).

You most certainly did not sin since you asked for a Catholic priest and truly thought you had received one. You might want to consider contacting your diocese and informing them that this individual is publicly putting himself out there as a priest in good standing. The diocese should then in turn contact the Hospice center or him to express their displeasure with the misrepresentation.

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