Canonical irregularity dispensation


I have a question regarding canon law and dispensations from canonical impediments/irregularities.

I was raised in a nominal Catholic background, I was baptized, and went through confirmation etc. When I was 18, I made the worst mistake of my life and joined and was baptized into another denomination. I lasted only several months in this denomination before realized how wrong I was. I received absolution for my action, but here I am several years later, and I have felt that God might be calling me to the priesthood. I just discovered however, that do to my actions, I am canonically irregular for falling into schism and that only a dispensation from the Pope can remove my irregularity.

I’ve come along way in the discernment process but only found out about this being an impediment in the past day… Does anyone know how such a dispensation can be granted?


Ok, chill out.

First, it is questionable whether you actually committed the delict or not, as ignorance could have been at play especially considering your age (Can 1323).

So, the proper course for anyone who wants to become a priest is to talk to your vocations director at your diocese or of the religious order(s) you are considering. They will help you discern. If there are any concerns along the lines of the time you spent in a non-Catholic denomination, the bishop or superior of the order will handle things.

You need do nothing other than initiate a conversation with the vocations director on your possible vocation.



Ignorance is irrelevant when it comes to these irregularities (c. 1045). But, at the same time, there is the axiom that a doubtful irregularity does not bind a person (not in the Code). In any case, I agree with your practical advice.

OP: The competent Congregation (always the CDF, I believe) would not even consider the request for a dispensation until you are nearing ordination. But, you should make this fact known to the vocations director and bishop/major superior at the outset and then, if/when ordination approaches, make sure the dispensation is requested. The bishop/major superior would make the request on your behalf. It’s not a difficult process but obviously the dispensation depends entirely on the request from the bishop/superior.


closed #4

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