Questions about the Process of Being Laicized


Hi everyone, I have a few questions about being laicized. Okay, so first of all, I read that they can request to be laicized, but can they also be denied that right? My second question is, are there any formal requirements for a Priest to be laicized? Finally, would a Priest become able to marry after becoming laicized?


…can they also be denied…?

Yes; see CIC, Can. 290§3 (cf. Can. 59§1 for definition of a rescript).

are there any formal requirements for a Priest to be laicized?

Canon Law merely says “the gravest of reasons” (Can. 290§3). Someone else may know of a document which gives more detailed grounds or guidelines.

would a Priest become able to marry after becoming laicized?

It is possible with a special dispensation from the Pope, but this dispensation can be denied (Can. 291).


Yes - I’m married to one. :slight_smile:


Cool, and one more question. Is either wanting to marry or the desire to stop being a Priest a valid enough reason to get laicized and given dispensation from celibacy?


Yes. Mainly because if a priest wants to be laicized and isn’t allowed to be, he would likely be a bad priest if he stayed.

However, things could have changed in the years since my husband was laicized, but I’d be willing to bet that Pope Francis would be very understanding.


Cool, thanks for all the answers.


It should be noted that priests aren’t guaranteed to be released from their promise of celibacy when they return to the lay state. Being released from celibacy is sething separate.

Also, a priest never stops being a priest. Returning to the lay state is not something to be taken lightly or made light of.


You’re right about that. After all these years my husband still has regrets about leaving the active priesthood. And in case inquiring minds are wondering, no, he didn’t leave because of me - we met years later. :wink:


So how often does one see a Priest being given a release from their vow of celibacy nowadays?


I’m sure records must be kept somewhere, but I don’t know. Try asking your bishop. If he doesn’t know, he might know who to ask.


Assuming that most if not all voluntarily “laicized” priests (that is a misnomer) have been released from their promise of celibacy, it is probably instructive that In the two years 2011 and 2012 (most recent for which statistics are available), nearly 400 Catholic priests were laicized, with a peak of 260 in 2011, nearly half of the laicizations were imposed as a penalty.


I don’t think this can be answered with a simple yes or no. The determination undoubtedly depends on the individual case. Yes the Church has mercy, but mercy is something undeserved, or rather not getting what we do deserve. It is not something to which we are all entitled. We must take care not to treat the holy priesthood as something disposable!


Generally speaking, no. Canon law refers to “the gravest of reasons” - that is, really serious reasons. Unsurprisingly, the Church expects that when a man is ordained and makes the corresponding promises, he really does mean it (just like marriage). So it’s not like a priest can just reign and ask to be laicised; it’s a tough standard which has to be met and rightly so.


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