Which faculties are suspended when a priest is laicised/excommunicated and why?


As I understand it, a laicised or excommunicated priest can validly Consecrate, even if he shouldn’t unless there is the threat of death. It would be valid but illicit.

Yet Confessions would be totally invalid, except in cases of death.

Why are some sacramental functions invalidated, while others are illicit but valid?

Baptisms are always valid. But what about matrimony and the Sacrament of the Sick?

How about traditions where Chrismations or Confirmations happen immediately after baptism? In those cases, when a priest is excommunicated or laicised, is his Confirmation made invalid even though his Baptism would be valid?


I don’t know about the other sacraments but people should be reminded that the sacrament of marriage is bestowed on each of the uniting couple between themselves and not the priest who is only the church witness.


The Sacrament of Reconcilliation requires that the priest have faculties. If a priest comes in from another diocese and the local bishop denies him faculties, any confessions that he hears, outside of danger of death would likewise be invalid.

In the case of danger of death, the Pope supplies faculties via the general norms of Canon Law.

But without those faculties, even a priest in good standing cannot validly absolve.

In the case of Holy Communion, faculties are not required, so the Consecration will occur. But unless that too is done with permission from the Church, it is valid but illicit ( the species are transubstantiated, but it is done in a disobedient fashion)

In the case of marriage, the couple administer the Sacrament to each other, the priest is the witness of the Church. But unless a dispensation is given, a laicized priest cannot officially witness the marriage, and there is a good chance that the marriage will be invalid due to lack of Canonical Form. A Catholic couple can only administer the Sacrament to each other under the means established by the Church. If those means are not observed, the Sacrament is not conferred.


Thank you for the response. How does the Church determine whether or not faculties are required? There must be some theological basis for it. We never do anything arbitrarily, so how did they reach the conclusion that a Bishop cannot take away the ability to Consecrate but can take away the ability to absolve? As Communion is more important than absolution, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that they’d be even more restrictive with the ability to Consecrate.

While we’re on the topic, would absolution administered by an Orthodox priest be considered valid as far as we’re concerned? I hope that we wouldn’t consider Orthodox confessions invalid, but if they are valid, isn’t there disparity in viewing Orthodox confessions valid but not viewing, say, a schismatic Catholic group with valid Apostolic Succession (like Milingo’s group) as having valid confessions? It would seem that they have the similar status of Valid Orders but being separated brethren.


To put it simply, our Church is governed by Bishops and they have authority in certain territories. This stems from the apostles who were the first Bishops and had authority in their area. So, a priest who finds himself in this situation, would be considered a lay person and the ONLY exception would be if he were to come upon a person dying (btw, lay people can baptize in case of emergency - a laicized priest could hear confession/baptize).

Regarding marriage, I don’t see where a priest that is now a lay person would be/could be considered a valid minister by your parish priest as he and the Bishop are the one’s who say yea/nay. You could get permission to have your wedding elsewhere, but still, I bet the requirement would be a priest, not a laicized priest.

There were some interesting talks coming from people encountering “rent a priest” who were priests who had been laicized esp on cruises. Still, if they were presenting themselves as priests, they were doing so falsely as they do not have authority to perform the sacraments anymore except in the case of emergency.

As for the Eastern Rite, their sacraments are valid. If a person of the Latin Rite attends the service, they need to obey the customs, etc.


The difference is that absolution is a juridic act of the Church. In other words, it’s a legal act of governance. Therefore, only one who legitimately represents the Church (ie a priest with faculties) can absolve.

Consecrating the Eucharist is not a juridic act. The bishop can rescind a priest’s ability to publicly celebrate the Eucharist (ie a licit Mass), but cannot change the fact that he is a priest.

There’s a difference between the Orthodox and Western schismatics. Since the Orthodox have true Churches and true power of governance, they retain the ability to absolve (in part because the Successor to Peter has never removed that). On the other hand, schismatic groups have had their authority to absolve taken away. That’s the difference.

Orthodox absolutions are valid in the case of an Orthodox priest and penitent. They are also valid in the case of an Orthodox priest and a Catholic penitent, but under certain circumstances–and only under those circumstances.


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