Holy Orders Validity

I know that Sacraments can be valid only if there are no impediments. Is it possible for the Sacrament of Holy Orders to be invalid? For instance, if a young man is a practicing homosexual and has no intention of giving up the practice of homosexuality after ordination, is he validly ordained a priest? If not, what is the efficacy of the Sacraments that he confers after being “ordained.”

The ordination would still be valid. Having a propensity towards particular sins does not create an impediment to receiving Holy Orders. Of course, there are many tendencies that would make someone a poor candidate for Holy Orders, but that would not create an actual impediment.


If he honestly didn’t intend to give up that lifestyle then he was lying at his Ordination. He SHOULD have been truly completely 100% honest about it before his ordination. This would be between him and God and would make for a very confused dishonest priesthood.

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Being in the state of mortal sin does not affect the validity of the sacrament. Otherwise, every ordination would be in doubt, since only God can read consciences. That being said, if a bishop knows that someone is a habitual and impenitent mortal/grave sinner, Christian prudence would require that the bishop not ordain him.

The bishop is the one who decides to ordain a man and confers the sacrament of Holy Orders. As I understand it, the only impediments that would make the ordination invalid would be

a) the person being ordained isn’t a male, or
b) the person being ordained isn’t baptized, or
c) the bishop didn’t have the true intent of ordaining the man.

The man doesn’t ordain himself, so whatever is going through his own head as to reasons why he is seeking ordination and sins he might commit later has no bearing on validity of his ordination. Of course the Bishop is supposed to use prudence and try to decide whether the man might be a bad risk for ordination, but the Bishop cannot read the man’s mind.

It’s not like marriage, where the two spouses are marrying each other, so if either of them have wrong intent or other wrong ideas, it might invalidate the marriage.

A more detailed explanation is here:

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Don’t forget

d) The bishop wasn’t a valid bishop.

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Right, of course, yes. I just assumed we were dealing with a valid Catholic bishop here.

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If a priest’s ordination is invalid because of his interior disposition, intentions, or a sinful lifestyle where would that leave all the Catholics who, in good faith, recieve Communion from such priests? They would not be receiving the Eucharist and the tabernacle of these churches would be empty.

I don’t believe Christ would allow his people to be abandoned like this.

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I would think consent, at least passive, would be necessary–for example, I don’t think you can tie someone up and validly ordain him against his will. This canon lawyer mentions the necessity of a “passive intention.”


Yes, it is possible for a declaration of nullity (invalidity) to be issued regarding an ordination. However, it is much more difficult to declare orders invalid as the person being ordained just needs a passive intention and the primary active intention is by the bishop who ordains.

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I would think unless there is evidence that the person was restrained and ordained by force, or that there was a letter threatening to kill his whole family if he didn’t agree to be ordained, it would be hard to argue the man being ordained didn’t have an intent.

That’s actually one of the arguments in the Canon Law article I posted. Allowing for annulment of priest’s ordinations later would create issues for those who received many sacraments from him.

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