Marriage and the SSPX


#1

I was listening to the podcast of the radio program and Jimmy Akin got a question about the validity of marriage done by an SSPX priest. He said they were not valid because they were not allowed to perform marriages.

However, I thought the Catholic teaching on marriage was that it was the husband and wife who were the ministers of the sacrament and that the priest was there as a witness. Deacons, who are not priests, can officiate at a wedding. That seems to contradict what Jimmy Akin said.

Also, would it make a difference of the priest was ordained within the church and then joined the SSPX?


#2

[quote="garysibio, post:1, topic:334250"]
I was listening to the podcast of the radio program and Jimmy Akin got a question about the validity of marriage done by an SSPX priest. He said they were not valid because they were not allowed to perform marriages.

However, I thought the Catholic teaching on marriage was that it was the husband and wife who were the ministers of the sacrament and that the priest was there as a witness.

[/quote]

The man and woman are the ministers of the sacrament. However, if at least one is a Catholic they must be married according to Catholic Form. A priest or deacon must have the relevant jurisdiction from the Church to act as the Church's official witness at the sacrament. SSPX priests and deacons lack such jurisdiction.

[quote="garysibio, post:1, topic:334250"]
Deacons, who are not priests, can officiate at a wedding. That seems to contradict what Jimmy Akin said.

[/quote]

Deacons can assist at marriages. I assume because the question was about a priest he answered about priests. Deacons can assist at marriage providing they have the proper delegation from the competent Church authority.

[quote="garysibio, post:1, topic:334250"]
Also, would it make a difference of the priest was ordained within the church and then joined the SSPX?

[/quote]

If you're saying what I think you are the simple answer is no. If a priest can validly witness the marriage of X and Y and subsequently loses the right to witness marriages it wouldn't affect the validity of X and Y's marriage.


#3

[quote="Bergon, post:2, topic:334250"]
The man and woman are the ministers of the sacrament. However, if at least one is a Catholic they must be married according to Catholic Form. A priest or deacon must have the relevant jurisdiction from the Church to act as the Church's official witness at the sacrament. SSPX priests and deacons lack such jurisdiction.

Deacons can assist at marriages. I assume because the question was about a priest he answered about priests. Deacons can assist at marriage providing they have the proper delegation from the competent Church authority.

If you're saying what I think you are the simple answer is no. If a priest can validly witness the marriage of X and Y and subsequently loses the right to witness marriages it wouldn't affect the validity of X and Y's marriage.

[/quote]

I was under the impression that, although 99.99999999% of the time, a priest or deacon officiates, it's not necessary. The (rather bizarre) example I heard was about a couple stranded on a desert island with no priest. They could still get married even though there was no one else there.

I thought that once a priest was validly ordained, nothing could strip him of the gifts associated with his ordination. For example, he could still confect (I think that's the right word) the Eucharist. If he can still do that, why not marriage. I know I'm missing something here. I just don't know what.


#4

[quote="garysibio, post:3, topic:334250"]
I was under the impression that, although 99.99999999% of the time, a priest or deacon officiates, it's not necessary. The (rather bizarre) example I heard was about a couple stranded on a desert island with no priest. They could still get married even though there was no one else there.

I thought that once a priest was validly ordained, nothing could strip him of the gifts associated with his ordination. For example, he could still confect (I think that's the right word) the Eucharist. If he can still do that, why not marriage. I know I'm missing something here. I just don't know what.

[/quote]

It's absolutely essential for a Catholic. If you're a Catholic you must either be married in the presence of three witnesses or you must have dispensation from canonical form. One of the witnesses must be a person delegated by the Church. The Church's witness is usually a priest. It can be a deacon. In some places where there's a shortage of clergy, e.g. mission areas, a lay person can be the Church's witness. If this doesn't happen the marriage would be invalid.

The reasons are historical. The Church has always taught that the man and the woman are the ministers of this sacrament. In the middle ages there was a problem with clandestine marriages. A man and woman married with no witnesses. Sometime later if the man wanted to be free from the marriage he could deny any marriage had taken place. As you can imagine back in those days people would take a man's word over a woman so even if she protested she probably wouldn't be believed. So she could be left destitute without her husband and often with children who'd now according to the husband's claims would be illegitimate.

To do away with clandestine marriages the Church decided that all marriages must be witnessed.

So in order to get married you must be married according to what is called canonical form. It doesn't rely on a priest's ordination. He must be delegated by the Church. Sometimes that delegation comes from the law itself. Parish pastors can marry their parishioners. Others have to be delegated by a competent authority such as the diocesan bishop.

It's similar, although not completely the same, with confession. Even the a priest can give absolution he can't do it solely based on his ordination he must receive the Church's authority.


#5

[quote="garysibio, post:3, topic:334250"]
I was under the impression that, although 99.99999999% of the time, a priest or deacon officiates, it's not necessary.

[/quote]

Canon law provides for a bisho, pastor, or appointd deacon or lay person to be the witness.

See canons 1108 - 1114

[quote="garysibio, post:3, topic:334250"]
The (rather bizarre) example I heard was about a couple stranded on a desert island with no priest. They could still get married even though there was no one else there.

[/quote]

No, a couple may not marry if "no one else is there". The law does forsee a situation where they may marry before witnesses only:

Can.* 1116 §1. If a person competent to assist according to the norm of law cannot be present or approached without grave inconvenience, those who intend to enter into a true marriage can contract it validly and licitly before witnesses only:

1/ in danger of death;

2/ outside the danger of death provided that it is prudently foreseen that the situation will continue for a month.

That is not the situation described in the OP. The OP ask about marriage before an SSPX priest. The SSPX priest does not have the necesary jurisdiction under canons 1108-1114. So, no he may not witness the Catholic marriage.

[quote="garysibio, post:3, topic:334250"]
I thought that once a priest was validly ordained, nothing could strip him of the gifts associated with his ordination.

[/quote]

that is true of those things he posseses inherent to ordination. Witnessing marriages is not one of them. It requires not merely ordination, but instead, juridic standing that the SSPX priest does not have.

[quote="garysibio, post:3, topic:334250"]

For example, he could still confect (I think that's the right word) the Eucharist. If he can still do that, why not marriage. I know I'm missing something here. I just don't know what.

[/quote]

Because witnessing marriage requires the faculties to witness the marriage. He lacks the faculties.

Can.* 1108 §1. Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses

An SSPX priest is not the local ordinary, the local pastor, nor a priest or deacon delegated by one of them, therefore he has no faculties to witness for the Church.

Can.* 1111 §1. As long as they hold office validly, the local ordinary and the pastor can delegate to priests and deacons the faculty, even a general one, of assisting at marriages within the limits of their territory.

§2. To be valid, the delegation of the faculty to assist at marriages must be given to specific persons expressly.

If it concerns special delegation, it must be given for a specific marriage; if it concerns general delegation, it must be given in writing.

Can.* 1112 §1. Where there is a lack of priests and deacons, the diocesan bishop can delegate lay persons to assist at marriages, with the previous favorable vote of the conference of bishops and after he has obtained the permission of the Holy See.


#6

Thanks all.


#7

[quote="garysibio, post:3, topic:334250"]
I was under the impression that, although 99.99999999% of the time, a priest or deacon officiates, it's not necessary. The (rather bizarre) example I heard was about a couple stranded on a desert island with no priest. They could still get married even though there was no one else there.

I thought that once a priest was validly ordained, nothing could strip him of the gifts associated with his ordination. For example, he could still confect (I think that's the right word) the Eucharist. If he can still do that, why not marriage. I know I'm missing something here. I just don't know what.

[/quote]

The Sacrament of Penance requires not only the power of Ordination but the faculty to administer the Sacrament. Usually...the Local Bishop's permission or the priest in an office covered by Canon Law (a Pastor...who is approved by the Bishop to hold that Office)....unless its a life and death emergency. So, a priest can't hear confessions without faculty of jurisdiction approval...because he is making and giving the penitent a judgment of the Church and a penalty (penance) for the Church.

Can. 959 In the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a legitimate minister, are sorry for them, and intend to reform themselves obtain from God through the absolution imparted by the same minister forgiveness for the sins they have committed after baptism and, at the same, time are reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by sinning.

Can. 966 §1. The valid absolution of sins requires that the minister have, in addition to the power of orders, the faculty of exercising it for the faithful to whom he imparts absolution.

Pax Christi


#8

[quote="garysibio, post:3, topic:334250"]
I was under the impression that, although 99.99999999% of the time, a priest or deacon officiates, it's not necessary. The (rather bizarre) example I heard was about a couple stranded on a desert island with no priest. They could still get married even though there was no one else there.

I thought that once a priest was validly ordained, nothing could strip him of the gifts associated with his ordination. For example, he could still confect (I think that's the right word) the Eucharist. If he can still do that, why not marriage. I know I'm missing something here. I just don't know what.

[/quote]

Canon law is clear (both CIC and CCEO) that two witnesses are required as a minimum. Further, for faithful of the eastern churches in union, the sacramental marriage exists, but the sacrament is incomplete, without the priestly blessing.

There is a difference between the gifts of ordination and the permission to use them. And only four sacraments are predicated upon ordination: ordination, confection of the eucharist, absolution, and confirmation/chrismation.

Ordination to the diaconate confers an indelible mark upon the soul, and the ability to give blessings, but that ability is not always permitted to be used.

Ordination to the presbyterate confers another indelible mark upon the soul, and the ability to confirm, to absolve sins, to confect the eucharist, and to perform extreme unction. All of these require unity to the church, through an ordinary†, to be used licitly, and the permission of the bishop is required.

Ordination to the episcopate confers a third indelible mark upon the soul, and the ability to ordain. The authority to ordain is restricted to a bishop-ordinary, or another bishop delegated by another ordinary. (Yes, an auxiliary bishop can ordain men for an ordinary on the authority of the ordinary and the ordination of the bishop.)

It is normal for deacons in the Roman Church to be granted the faculty (permission to use the power) of blessing, while it is rare for them to be granted it within the other 20+ churches in union with Rome.

It is normal for priests to be granted the faculty of confection of the Eucharist, to give extreme unction, and to bless, so much so that people forget all three are revokable faculties. It is uncommon for priests of the Roman Church to be granted the faculty to chrismate, but normal in the East. It is not rare for priests to be granted the faculty to hear confessions within the diocese, but it's not automatic; all priests have the faculty, by the law itself, even if all other faculties are suspended, to hear the confession of a dying person.

To witness a marriage in the name of the Church is a faculty, but one that is sometimes granted to laity, and not predicated upon ordination. It is a duty of pastors, as much as it is a faculty of pastors, and even other priests in a parish must obtain permission to do so from either the pastor or the bishop.

To baptize requires no faculty at all, other than the correct mindset, correct process, and a willing person being baptized.

To enter the religious life requires an ordinary's permission, and a priest's blessing; the priest need not be part of the order, but the ordinary needs to be. And it's normal for them to be the witness, but in a pinch, they can delegate that to another member of that community.

-=-=-=-=-=-
† Remembering that "ordinary" is canon-law for lawfully in charge of a group of the faithful and having the authority to grant faculties. An ordinary need not even be a cleric. All dioceses' bishops are ordinaries, auxiliary bishops are not. The head of an order of monks or friars is an ordinary; so is an abbot of a given monastery, or the superior of certain established houses of friars or cenobites.


#9

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