How does Church view priests leaving priesthood 2 marry?

i would like to know how the Church views priests leaving the priesthood to marry. Is it considered a sin? Are some priests not allowed to leave when they ask to be released from their vows? And If so, does their leaving without the Church’s OK mean they are “ex-communicated” or what?

Since no one has stepped forward to answer your questions, I’ll tell you what I know.

I’m sure, like any other life situation the Church deals with each person’s intentions. If someone in good conscience wishes to be released from his vows, he can be laczied and remain a practicing Catholic in good standing. As I understand it, he can function as a priest in emergency situations, such as hearing a dying person’s confession and that sort of thing.

If anyone leaves without permission I’m sure he would be in trouble with his bishop, but I don’t know that he would incur automatic excommunication. I’m sure all this is covered in Canon Law.

He would have to get a dispensation from the Pope, and that could be difficult.

Code Of Canon Law

Can. 290 Sacred ordination once validly received never becomes invalid. A cleric, however, loses the clerical state:

1° by a judgement of a court or an administrative decree, declaring the ordination invalid;

2° by the penalty of dismissal lawfully imposed;

3° by a rescript of the Apostolic See; this rescript, however, is granted to deacons only for grave reasons and to priests only for the gravest of reasons.

Can. 291 Apart from the cases mentioned in can. 290, n. 1, the loss of the clerical state does not carry with it a dispensation from the obligation of celibacy,which is granted solely by the Roman Pontiff.

Can. 292 A cleric who loses the clerical state in accordance with the law, loses thereby the rights that are proper to the clerical state and is no longer bound by any obligations of the clerical state, without prejudice to can. 291. He is prohibited from exercising the power of order, without prejudice to can. 976. He is automatically deprived of all offices and roles and of any delegated power.

Can. 293 A cleric who has lost the clerical state cannot be enrolled as a cleric again save by rescript of the Apostolic See.

The process of being laicized is long. I have not heard of laicization being denide, with one exception; there is currently a bishop in either Central or Sout America who wants to run for political office, and I believe the last I saw of it was that Rome was not (at the moment) willing to laicize him. Since he seems intent on running for office, it would appear that he will collide witht he Church on the issue. That is, however, the only case I know of where it has not been granted; which of course does not meant that there are not other cases; only that I have not heard of them.

I remember a wonderful Priest we knew, been a Priest like 30 years. But he fell in love with a woman. He received “counseling” before leaving the Priesthood, he is now a Deacon in the Catholic Church, and married to a wonderful woman. He teaches theology at a seminary now.


I don’t remember ever hearing of a bishop being laicized.

This is a surprise to me. I know several priests who were laicized and obtained a dispensation to marry. They were required to refrain from taking any part in serving as readers, EMHCs, singing in Choir, or instructing religion or theology in a Catholic Church or school. I can’t even begin to imagine they could become deacons.

Bishop Lugo, from Uruguay, has been suspended “a divinis” of his roll as bishop for wanting to run for office (i.e., he still a bishop but cannot exercise his roll). It seems he will win, as he is first in the polls.

Read more about it.

Bishop Lugo is the hope, the light in the darkness, I think, given the neo-socialism sprouting in the region from Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Rafael Correa (Ecuador) and Evo Morales (Bolivia). (Although some say Correa is a very devout Catholic).

Just because he is running for office, leaving his roll as bishop, it does not mean he does not maintain Catholic orthodoxy which he will use to govern as president of Uruguay.



Once again, as Della said, every situation is different. The Church would look at every case separately and individually.

Besides, I don’t see the surprise, as there are married priests within the Latin/Roman rite of the Catholic Church (not to say in the eastern rites of the Catholic church where priests are allowed to marry).

Priestly celibacy is a discipline, NOT a doctrine.

Blessings in Christ,


They already are deacons. Even B16 is a deacon.

just an interesting story…
the choir-leader at our parish is an ex-priest, and his wife an ex-nun.

If a priest were to request and be granted laicization, and furthermore were to request and be granted dispensation from his oath of celebacy (a separate issue), then he would not be guilty of sin in entering into a Catholic marriage. Nevertheless, this is a unfortunate circumstance that I wish would never happen, and which probably indicates a failure in that person’s pre-ordination formation. Each case must be judged individually however, and I am certainly not qualified to be the judge.

Granting of such requests is not automatic of course, but I imagine that such a request would almost always be granted if the petitioner persisted after counseling and a suitable period of time for discernment.

If a priest were to attempt a marriage without laicization and dispensation from vows, then that marriage would be invalid and he would certainly be in grave sin. That could perhaps result in excommunication, but more importantly it could have eternal consequences for his soul.

I’ve known two priest who were laicized and left the priesthood. One is in my parish and has been married for 30 years and has raised a wonderful family. They other, died recently, as well has his wife, who was a nun who left when the both of them met, many years ago.

Too bad the Church doesn’t allow married men to be priest, these two men could’ve served the Church all these years.


I agree. But the church has never allowed marriage after ordination (with the possible exception of the Church of the East/Assyrian).

I think the problem lies in the earlier common practice of accepting young men when they are really young. Once a young man expressed an interest he was encouraged and sometimes found himself in a high school minor seminary, all males and little interaction with the young ladies.

Then the social pressure is on. Seminarians are typically discouraged from dating and if they go along with all of this they could find themselves almost 30 years old and feeling like they made a mistake. It’s like getting married at a young age to ones first love interest, it ultimately doesn’t work out for a lot of people as they continue to grow up and apart.

Much better for men to have had a chance to date and live in the secular world before deciding to prepare themselves for a vocation that will require a vow of celibacy.


We know several men who have left the priesthood to marry. A couple of them did it the right way…going through the proper channels so that they can remain faithful Catholics. And a couple of them have remained active in the church…teaching religious education, part of the marriage prep team, working with social justice committees etc.

However, a couple of them have distanced themselves entirely from the church…and have become very cynical.Even vocal in their defiance of the church. In all case, we pray for them. Without ceasing! One day, we hope that God who judges all of us, will react with mercy and kindness.

What makes no sense to me is how the Church has accepted married priest from the Anglican Church, but refuses to accept Catholic priest, who have married.

It lacks compasion on the part of the Church, in my opinion.


Hi, E.C.!

Please forgive me if I sound a bit nit-picky, but this issue has come up before in countless threads. Eastern Catholic priests are not allowed to marry…


married Eastern Catholic men are allowed to become priests!

Once a man is ordained to the priesthood in any sui iuris Catholic Church, he may no longer marry. In the Eastern Catholic Church, however, a man may be married prior to his ordination and, obviously, remain married throughout his priestly mission. This priest would not be allowed to remarry if he should happen to survive his wife.

Again, I apologize if I sound as though I’m playing “word games” with you but the difference, subtle-sounding though it may be, is actually very significant, and it has been an ongoing source of confusion here.

Thanks for understanding, my friend!

There is no marriage after ordination, even in the eastern rite. These Anglican ministers are ordained married, just like our married Eastern brethren. My Parish’s Deacon is celibate, he never married once in his entire life. Most people don’t get this, after ordination, there is no marriage. If a Deacon’s wife dies, he is to remain unmarried. If an Eastern Priest’s wife dies, he is to remain unmarried. With the case of a dispensation, it follows lacization. He is first removed from the ministry and then through a dispensation he is no longer bound to celibacy.

Not surprised that they were allowed to marry. Surprised that Rome let them continue to perform in a minsterial role like deacon, choir member, etc. In several mid-western dioceses these priests are allowed to be “pew huggers” only. It is printed right in what I think is called their rescript.

My opinion on this matter is if a priest leaves the priesthood through the proper channels and then gets married he has NO BUSINESS telling people that he used to be a priest. There is of NO BENEFIT for a priest to even utter ONE WORD of his “former life” to people in the parish of which he belongs. In fact it should be secret if possible.

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