Laicized priests


#1

What exactly is a "retired priest?" What's the difference between one that's been retired and an active one? Do the vows they took as part of holy orders still apply? I'm just curious as to the overall process and whatnot.


#2

We have a retired priest at our parish. He said Mass on Christmas eve, and last night. So I guess that they just don't celebrate Mass as often as they would if they weren't retired. I would guess that they still have all the "power" for lack of a better term, that a priest that isn't retired would have. He's still very active in the parish though. He's even taken on some extra ministries. Like one dedicated to the festival we have every summer.


#3

First of all, laicized does not mean retired. From this site:

"Laicization is a process which takes from a priest or other cleric the licit use of his powers, rights, and authority...Laicized clerics are forbidden to wear clerical dress or to perform ceremonies or to administer the sacraments ordinary to their former offices. Priests who are laicized are required to continue practicing celibacy, although dispensations from this discipline are frequently given. Otherwise, laicization renders a cleric for ecclesiastical purposes the equivalent of a layman. The supernatural mark of holy orders and the powers connected with the sacrament (especially for the priest) remain even after laicization, although they cannot be used licitly. A laicized priest has the power to confect the Eucharist. Although to the world he may live as a layman, in a sense "once a priest, always a priest."

Retirement is something else entirely. There is no difference between a retired priest and an active one. A retired priest still retains all his priestly faculties and may use them licitly. A retired priest simply is retired from actively managing a parish. Having said that, however, many priests still live at a parish and help with the Mass schedule, Confessions, etc as they are able; or if he is more feeble he may live in a retirement home for priests and religious.


#4

There's a world of difference between a laicized priest and a retired priest.

A retired priest is usually one who is over 75 and no longer has any official responsibilities. He still has all the faculties to minister in his diocese and often helps us in the parish where he resides. He can be as active in ministry as he chooses to be.

A laicized priest is one who has had all his faculties removed. He cannot celebrate Mass, he can't act as a priest in public, in fact, in order to avoid giving scandal, he may not even be able to be a Minster of the Word or a catechist in a parish where he is known to be a laiziced priest. The only time he may function as a priest is to hear the confession and give absolution to someone in danger of death.


#5

A retired priest and a laicized priest are not the same thing. A retired priest is a priest who has, well, retired. Usually due to age or poor health. Just as anyone might retire. They are still priests, and usually contine to help out in parishes and other apostolates as their time, health, and inclination allow. They may be given light duty or no duty by the bishop, according to circumstances and need. Their vows of celibacy and obedience still apply.

A laicized priest is a priest who has been removed from the clerical state. That is to say, he is still a priest, but from the point of view of church law and discipline, he is treated as a lay person. Thus, while he still has the powers of a priest, because he is still truly a priest, he is no longer permitted to exercise them except in the most extreme circumstances. When a priest is laicized, it can be because he has asked to be, or it can be a punishment for a grave offense, such as sexual child abuse. In either case, the laicized priest is usually, but not always, released from his vows of celibacy and obedience to his bishop.

If a retired priest says Mass, it is both valid and licit. If a laicized priest says Mass, it is valid, but illicit. It is valid because the bread and wine will be transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. But it is illicit because he is no longer permitted to say Mass. It would be a grave offense.

Still, in truly extreme circumstances, a laicized priest may licitly administer the sacrament of reconciliation. Such would be the case if he found himself on a doomed airplane. He could (and should) give general absolution to those who wish to receive it. Or if he comes upon a car crash, he could (and should) hear the confession of a dying victim.

This is because once a man is ordained a priest, he is a priest forever, into eternity. Ordination as a priest imposes an indelible mark on his soul, which no power in heaven or on Earth can undo. God Himself has made him "a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedech."


#6

[quote="Matt_Collins, post:5, topic:314374"]
Still, in truly extreme circumstances, a laicized priest may licitly administer the sacrament of reconciliation. Such would be the case if he found himself on a doomed airplane. He could (and should) give general absolution to those who wish to receive it. Or if he comes upon a car crash, he could (and should) hear the confession of a dying victim.

This is because once a man is ordained a priest, he is a priest forever, into eternity. Ordination as a priest imposes an indelible mark on his soul, which no power in heaven or on Earth can undo. God Himself has made him "a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedech."

[/quote]

My husband has never come across an accident victim, but as a laicized priest, he has been asked to give the last rites to dying people at the hospital when they can't get hold of the priest (with the priest's previous permission). We live in a rural area & priests are a little thin on the ground.


#7

So, once laicized, a priest can marry? That’s very fascinating!

What has to happen for a priest to be laicized? I’d imagine it’s not just going to the bishop and saying “I’d like to be laicized please.” and asking to meet in the parking lot in five minutes.

Can a laicism be reversed? That is, can a laicized priest be “re-instituted?”


#8

Laicization is from the Pope - my husband received his (at his own request) years before I met him. It could be reversed - there is no rule that I know of that says it can't be - but I don't think it's ever happened. When he was "between wives" (his first wife passed away) he considered returning, then changed his mind.


#9

[quote="Aeden, post:7, topic:314374"]
So, once laicized, a priest can marry? That's very fascinating!

What has to happen for a priest to be laicized? I'd imagine it's not just going to the bishop and saying "I'd like to be laicized please." and asking to meet in the parking lot in five minutes.

Can a laicism be reversed? That is, can a laicized priest be "re-instituted?"

[/quote]

Not all laicized priests may marry.

I imagine that most of the priests who ask to be laicized also ask to be dispensed from their promise of celibacy.

OTOH, when laicization is a punishment for a misdeed, the requirement for celibacy is often not lifted. Such was the case with former bishop Lahey who was laicized last year but required to remain celibate -- not that that mattered to him any.


#10

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