Faith supplies?


I went to a funeral and suspected that the priest was not really a priest (the way he was dressed, how he conducted the Mass, etc)…
It turned out I was right!
There are many false priests in my city, and they offer their ‘service’ for funerals, weddings, etc.
I told this to a Catholic friend and said it saddened me that my friends thought they were having a real Mass for their deceased loved one, and they were not.
He answered: ‘the faith supplies what was lacking at that Mass’. And he cited a Canon Law article that says ‘Ecclesia supplet’ (CIC 144|1 )
I told him that if a false priest celebrates a ‘Mass’, no matter how great the faith of the people attending may be, Christ is not present on the supposedly consecrated species of bread and wine. Period. It is not a matter of faith. There was no validly ordained priest there, so there is no Eucharist either.
I am sure about that, but still I do not know for sure what the principle of ‘Ecclesia supplet’ means and how it applies.
Could someone please explain it to me?




You are correct. A man who is not a priest cannot confect the Eucharist.


You are correct.


If this happened, I would find out his name and if you can get his contact info and report him to your archdiocese and perhaps the police since he could be committing fraud by impersonating a priest.


Where was this “Mass” celebrated? Was it actually a Mass, or was it a ceremony at the funeral home? There is a huge difference.


I am not a canon lawyer, but from my understanding of CIC 144 it is in reference to doubts about jurisdiction and faculties. All 144 does is to say that if it is in doubt that a priest has faculties that the Church provides the faculties in the single instance of doubt. For instance I might apply to a priest who is outside his diocese that grants absolution that has not received facilities from the local Bishop.

It doesn’t (and can’t) give sacramental characteristics to one not ordained. Nowhere is it stating that the Church provides for a member of the laity to confect the Eucharist. Confecting the Eucharist is not a matter of Canon law, but rather divine law.


Thank you, PaulfromIowa and tawny.

SecretGarden: I did that; I asked him his name and reported him. The Archdiocesis has him in a list of false priests. They even pretend to belong to a congregation! The Archidiocesan paper printed an article denouncing this on its last issue. And I understand they are going to take legal action against these men.

Chatter163: The Mass was held in a funeral home. It was not to be just a funeral ceremony, but a Mass. The false priest came in from the street already in his vestments! (golden and excesively embroidered) and he was carrying a big suitcase where he produced a huge golden chalice (as if to show off he is a priest), and the way he celebrated immediately made me think he was no priest. I went to the funeral house office and asked the manager if he knew the priest. He answered: I started working today, I have no idea.
Then the false priest came into the office (he celebrated a 15 minute ‘Mass’), and I asked him to show me his id. He said he left it at the funeral house main office. Can you believe it? Unfortunately at that moment, my friend, who is an old lady and was very sad and distressed to loose her dear one, came into the office and paid this false priest the equivalent of 100 dollars!!! I could not stop that from happening because she is almost deaf and I could not start telling her out loud that I suspected that man was not a priest. I could have added grief to her grief. And besides at that moment I was not sure.

Usige: Thank you for your explanation. From what you say I conclude that the principle of ‘Ecclesia Supple’ only applies to certain legal faculties, and not at all to the Sacraments. So if someone attends a false ‘Mass’, there is no way that either his or her faith or the Church provides with what was lacking: the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.


The term that is used is *ecclesia supplet *and it refers supplying lacking executive power of governance, in some situations. It does not make someone that is not a priest able to function as a priest.


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