Can married priests/nuns/monks be in good standing with the Church?


#1

In my Lay Ecclesial Ministry class on the sacraments we had our session on Holy Orders, and we breached on this subject when talking about situations where a priest or nun ends up marrying (often a priest with a nun, since these two can at times be in close contact with each other). I asked the deacon running the class if these people could be in good standing with the Church and he said “They can still be Catholic” but it didn’t quite satisfy what I was trying to get at, and my finely-tuned procyonid senses could detect discomfort in the room.

A priest that ends up marrying would no longer be able to administer the sacraments and perform his priestly duties. What I wanted to know is: if an ordained priest or monk or nun were to abandon their vocation and marry and continue to be Catholic, would this be considered a valid marriage or would they (and the spouse, whoever they may be) be living in an extra-marital relationship?


#2

If a priest is dispensed from Holy Orders he is free to marry; also, if a nun gets permissions, her vows are eradicated.

Even though the priest quit, he his still permitted to hear confessions in a necessiated position.


#3

Nuns are not ordained. Only members of the clergy can be ordained and these can only be male. A priest will be assigned to a community of nuns to serve the sacramental needs of the sisters.

A monk is only ordained if he is also a priest. Not all monks are priests. Men become monks to be part of a monastic community. Men are chosen from among the monks to serve the sacramental needs of the brothers. They are brothers first - some of them happen to be priests to serve the needs of their brothers.

Benedictine, Cistercian and Carmelite monks and nuns under solemn vows are not allowed to marry. They may even suffer automatic excommunication if they attempt to marry - this is exactly what happened to Martin Luther. Luther was an Augustinian monk who automatically excommunicated himself when he married and had children.

There have been cases where a married couple agreed to separate physically and both entered religious life so it is possible to be a monk or nun and still be married.

There are Institutes of Consecrated Life geared toward married couples. They take vows but I don’t know if they are consecrated religious or not. I believe Holy Family Institute is one of these.

-Tim-


#4

It all depends on how they do this.

A priest can leave the ministry and request a dispensation from the obligation of celibacy.
A monk or nun can leave the community and request a dispensation from the vows.

If those dispensations are granted, then they are free to marry (assuming there’s no other obstacle).

If the dispensation is not granted (either because it’s denied or was never requested), then a valid marriage is not possible.

The deacon’s answer “they can still be Catholic” was vague because there is no single answer. Yes, it’s possible, but only under certain conditions.


#5

I think the Deacon’s answer is vague because your question to him, above, was vague. I don’t think there is any real definite, or generally accepted, understanding of what you mean by, “in good standing with the Church.” It appears the Deacon took it to mean, “are they still Catholic,” to which his answer is correct. There could be any number of ways to try to interpret what you asked, however, e.g., “are they living in sin?” “Mortal sin?” “Are they excommunicated?” “Is the marriage licit but invalid?” “Is the marriage illicit?” etc.

However, thereafter in your post you clarified what you really meant by asking,

What I wanted to know is: if an ordained priest or monk or nun were to abandon their vocation and marry and continue to be Catholic, would this be considered a valid marriage or would they (and the spouse, whoever they may be) be living in an extra-marital relationship?

I believe Msgr Rolo and Fr David appropriately answered that question.


#6

Really?


#7

Really - I have no idea what it means to “be in good standing with the Church.” If there is any official meaning for that phrase, I’d be glad to be enlightened. I’ve certainly never seen anything. Accordingly, it could mean all sorts of things.


#8

Ty Father.


#9

CIC
Can. 1087 Those who are in sacred orders invalidly attempt marriage.
Can. 1088 Those bound by a public perpetual vow of chastity in a religious institute invalidly attempt marriage.

CCEO
Can. 804 Persons who are in holy orders invalidly attempt marriage.
Can. 805 Persons who are bound by a public perpetual vow of chastity in a religious institute invalidly attempt marriage.

Those mentioned cannot be validly married without a dispensation from the Holy See (CIC 1078 §2, 1, CCEO 795 §1, §2).


#10

The monk John Michael Talbot states in one of his books that his local bishop authorized his marriage to a woman in their hermitage.


closed #11

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