Once a priest, always a priest?!


#1

In Bl.John Paul II biography there's a story about an ex-priest that met him and JP wanted him to perform the sacrament of reconciliation to him. The ex-priest said "I can't do that" and the pope said "Yes you can... once a priest, always a priest". Isn't this contradictory? On what I know, when a priest is excommunicated or drops the priesthood (to get married, for example), he is no longer a priest.


#2

[quote="fabio_rocha, post:1, topic:325320"]
In Bl.John Paul II biography there's a story about an ex-priest that met him and JP wanted him to perform the sacrament of reconciliation to him. The ex-priest said "I can't do that" and the pope said "Yes you can... once a priest, always a priest". Isn't this contradictory? On what I know, when a priest is excommunicated or drops the priesthood (to get married, for example), he is no longer a priest.

[/quote]

No, holy orders, like baptism, imprints an indelible character upon the soul. Priests who are "defrocked" are juridically stripped of the rights (and obligations) of the priesthood, but the sacramental character remains. Phrases like "ex-priest" are convenient ways of speaking about them, but should only be understood in the same way as, for instance, "ex-Catholic," which we do not take as denying the permanence of baptism. Indeed, even an "ex-Priest" is permitted under canon law to hear the confession of a person in danger of death. (See Can. 976.)


#3

[quote="fabio_rocha, post:1, topic:325320"]
In Bl.John Paul II biography there's a story about an ex-priest that met him and JP wanted him to perform the sacrament of reconciliation to him. The ex-priest said "I can't do that" and the pope said "Yes you can... once a priest, always a priest". Isn't this contradictory? On what I know, when a priest is excommunicated or drops the priesthood (to get married, for example), he is no longer a priest.

[/quote]

The Catholic theology of Holy Orders is that it places an indelible mark on the souls of those who receives orders. Therefore a priest never ceases to be a priest. However, a priest who has been laicised is not permitted to exercise the office of the priesthood. The exception is that he may hear the confession of a dying penitent when a priest with faculties is not available.


#4

Here is that beautiful story, as recounted by Scott Hahn.

timyrna.com/tpedrosa/beggarheardpopeconfession.htm


#5

[quote="detoutcoeur, post:4, topic:325320"]
Here is that beautiful story, as recounted by Scott Hahn.

timyrna.com/tpedrosa/beggarheardpopeconfession.htm

[/quote]

Is this a real story?

I hope it is....


#6

Three clergymen have been laicized in the entire history of the Church: Talleyrand, Milingo, and Lahey. I wonder what the "indelible mark" means for them, since it was a special sentence on each.


#7

[quote="Classicist, post:6, topic:325320"]
Three clergymen have been laicized in the entire history of the Church: Talleyrand, Milingo, and Lahey. I wonder what the "indelible mark" means for them, since it was a special sentence on each.

[/quote]

No, those are the just three notable bishops who have been laicized. Plenty of other clerics (priests) have suffered the same. And it shouldn't be necessary to point out that "laicization," like the other similar terms used in this context, cannot be taken literally. "Laicized" priests or biships are treated juridically as laymen, but sacramentally they remain clergy.


#8

[quote="MarkThompson, post:2, topic:325320"]
No, holy orders, like baptism, imprints an indelible character upon the soul. Priests who are "defrocked" are juridically stripped of the rights (and obligations) of the priesthood, but the sacramental character remains. Phrases like "ex-priest" are convenient ways of speaking about them, but should only be understood in the same way as, for instance, "ex-Catholic," which we do not take as denying the permanence of baptism. Indeed, even an "ex-Priest" is permitted under canon law to hear the confession of a person in danger of death. (See Can. 976.)

[/quote]

Of course, the Pope is above Canon Law, so if he grants a laicized priest the faculty to hear his own confession, even if he is not in danger of death, then it is both valid and licit for that priest to hear the Pope's confession.


#9

[quote="MarkThompson, post:7, topic:325320"]
No, those are the just three notable bishops who have been laicized. Plenty of other clerics (priests) have suffered the same. And it shouldn't be necessary to point out that "laicization," like the other similar terms used in this context, cannot be taken literally. "Laicized" priests or biships are treated juridically as laymen, but sacramentally they remain clergy.

[/quote]

My apologies, MarkThompson - on both counts!

[quote="aemcpa, post:8, topic:325320"]
Of course, the Pope is above Canon Law, so if he grants a laicized priest the faculty to hear his own confession, even if he is not in danger of death, then it is both valid and licit for that priest to hear the Pope's confession.

[/quote]

The Pope is not above canon law, surely. The King is Christ, who creates law. The "Prime Minister" is Peter, who confirms but is subject to the Law. A very wise & reverent priest told me this, so I apologize if I am wrong again. We must draw back from any statements which are false.


#10

[quote="Classicist, post:9, topic:325320"]
My apologies, MarkThompson - on both counts!

The Pope is not above canon law, surely. The King is Christ, who creates law. The "Prime Minister" is Peter, who confirms but is subject to the Law. A very wise & reverent priest told me this, so I apologize if I am wrong again. We must draw back from any statements which are false.

[/quote]

Christ creates divine law. The Pope creates canon law.


#11

Whether or not the Pope is "above" Canon Law is another whole discussion that was nearly beat to death in some earlier threads. Just go back a few weeks to the foot washing discussions.

However, I would like to point out that Scott Hahn's account nowhere tells us that "Father Jim" was excommunicated or even laicized. Men who have chosen to no longer exercise their priestly ministry, who have "walked away" from the priesthood, are often referred to as "ex-priests." I should think that the Holy Father could certainly restore faculties to such a person.

.


#12

Please don't refer to laicized priests, or even priests who have left the active life but are not laicized, as "ex-priests." There is no such thing, as the mark of priesthood is for ever. Even priests who have left the Church are still priests, just as you and I, even if we became athiests, would still bear the mark of baptism.

In the event of an emergency, laicized priests (and, I would assume, non-active priests) have the duty to hear confessions and give the last rites. My husband, who is a laicized priest, has done both in the absence of an active priest. In fact, the priest at our parish wants my husband to have the oil for the annointing of the sick on him in case he is called to an emergency. We live in an area with few priests. If our priest were at a distant parish, it could take him hours to get back to our area.

I think an order from the Pope could be classed as an emergency. :)


#13

[quote="Classicist, post:9, topic:325320"]
My apologies, MarkThompson - on both counts!

The Pope is not above canon law, surely. The King is Christ, who creates law. The "Prime Minister" is Peter, who confirms but is subject to the Law. A very wise & reverent priest told me this, so I apologize if I am wrong again. We must draw back from any statements which are false.

[/quote]

The Pope is subject to the natural revealed law of God. He is not subject to canon law as he is the ultimate authority in regards to canon law.


#14

[quote="Bonnie, post:12, topic:325320"]
Please don't refer to laicized priests, or even priests who have left the active life but are not laicized, as "ex-priests." There is no such thing, as the mark of priesthood is for ever. Even priests who have left the Church are still priests, just as you and I, even if we became athiests, would still bear the mark of baptism.

In the event of an emergency, laicized priests (and, I would assume, non-active priests) have the duty to hear confessions and give the last rites. My husband, who is a laicized priest, has done both in the absence of an active priest. In fact, the priest at our parish wants my husband to have the oil for the annointing of the sick on him in case he is called to an emergency. We live in an area with few priests. If our priest were at a distant parish, it could take him hours to get back to our area.

I think an order from the Pope could be classed as an emergency. :)

[/quote]

I'm not sure if your post was in response to mine or to the OP. Mine was not suggesting that "ex-priest" is the proper term for a laicized or "non-active" (to use your term) priest, hence my saying "are often referred to as." Mine was suggesting that if the Father Jim in the anecdote had not been laicized (and there was no information that he was or was not), I believe the Pope could grant him faculties, at least temporarily, right on the spot.

Whether or not a direct order from the Holy Father could be classified as an emergency is probably best left to another thread. :)

.


#15

[quote="felsguy, post:14, topic:325320"]
I'm not sure if your post was in response to mine or to the OP.

[/quote]

To the OP. It's a term that drives me nuts. :o


#16

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