Question About a "Suspended" Priest

Hi all,
I have a question for those of you who are in the know about such things:
If a priest who has been “suspended” from the priesthood were to conduct a marriage, would that marriage be invalid, valid but illicit, or what?
I know with regards to the celebration of the Eucharist that a laicised priest could celebrate an illicit but valid Mass, so I’m not sure if this applies to other sacraments. Nor am I sure what exactly a “suspension from the priesthood” means.

Suspended priests are usually not allowed to exercise their priestly duties.

That usually means he can’t give the sacraments, including marriage, so he can’t marry couples.

I edited this because upon checking, I think the bishop can set the scope of the suspension as to what the priest can and can’t do. A partial suspension might be possible but it seems unlikely that a priest would be suspended but still allowed to perform a marriage.

So it would be an invalid marriage? No doubt?

No, I didn’t say that. I think first you’d have to look at the scope of the priest’s suspension (I edited my post).

Assuming the priest was suspended from performing marriages, I think it would be valid but not licit (assuming no other impediment to the marriage), but I am not sure. Maybe someone else can say for sure.

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The priest in question was suspended primarily due to malpractice with regards to the sacrament of marriage, so yeah, presumably those functions were suspended too. Thus no marriage. Oh dear.
Thanks anyway.

It’s best for the couple who think they’re in this situation to talk to their priest or to someone in the diocesan offices, rather than try to reach conclusions on their own.

I also don’t think a “valid but not licit” marriage is the same as “no marriage”. If the marriage is valid, it’s valid, they’re married.


I thought you said if the priests faculties were suspended that = invalid/no marriage?

I edited my first post so I’m not sure what I said before at this point, but I did say it might be “valid but not licit” in the second post I made in the thread.

Again, the couple should speak to their own priest or diocesan office. Don’t take my word for it if this is a real situation.

Ok so lets pretend it is a hypothetical situation. Can a priest who has been suspended from the priesthood, assuming all his faculties and not just some have been suspended, conduct a valid but illicit marriage? Because obviously it would be illicit. What is the general rule here?

For Catholic matrimony, for validity, there must be two witnesses and canonical form for validity, in addition to no impediments that are not dispensed. The minister must have faculties (which may be by delegation). (For eastern Catholics a deacon is not allowed to be the minister.)

CIC (Catholic Canon Law)

Canon 1108.1 Only those marriages are valid which are contracted in the presence of the local Ordinary or parish priest or of the priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who, in the presence of two witnesses, assists, in accordance however with the rules set out in the following canons, and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. 144, 1112.1, 1116 and 1127.2-3.


Ok, so without permission of the appropriate authorities and with a priest who is suspended, that would equal no marriage?

There is one case where such a priest could be involved – but it would not be for validity:


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.
§2. In either case, if some other priest or deacon who can be present is available, he must be called and be present at the celebration of the marriage together with the witnesses, without prejudice to the validity of the marriage before witnesses only.

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The general rule is that priests need faculties to validly celebrate marriage (and also absolve sins in Confession). This is different from celebrating Mass where a validly ordained priest with his faculties suspended would still validly confect the Eucharist even with it being illicit.

As Bear said, though, if this is not a hypothetical situation, the couple should contact the Diocese and seek their help in parsing things out.


Marriage is different…validity requires canonical form, which means a competent authority must witness the exchange of vows on behalf of the Church. Normally, this means the bishop, the parish pastor, or one delegated by the bishop or pastor. It seems pretty unlikely that a bishop or parish pastor would delegate these faculties to a suspended priest.

Even an ordinary priest in good standing can only validly witness a wedding if delegated to do so by the bishop / parish pastor. If he doesn’t have such faculties for that particular diocese / parish, the marriage would be invalid, not just illicit.


Thanks for the replies, that has helped clarify this for me. :slight_smile:

With respect to the sacrament of matrimony, under those circumstances the marriage would be invalid.

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The marriage would be invalid if it was celebrated by a suspended priest. A priest cannot officiate at a marriage simply because he is a priest. He must have faculties granted by his ordinary. A suspended priest would lack the faculty to officiate at a marriage. As it has been said the suspension appears to relate to irregularities in the way this priest has officiated at marriages I would be beyond surprised if he were suspended but whoever suspended him said we’ll still allow you the faculty to preside at marriages.

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