Rorate Caeli

Will “defrocked” priests now be able to remain in the Diocese and collaborate with it, as if nothing ever happened ?

By Luigi
Messa in Latino Blog
November 7, 2019

Pope Francis greets a defrocked Bergamo priest now married

On September 27, Aleteia  published an article* entitled “When nuns and priests ‘hang up their robes’: the reasons for some innovations to a ‘Rescript’”, announcing some new instructions by the Holy See, regarding priests and religious who leave the clerical state and are dispensed from their vows. The article is by Giovanni Marcotullio, unhappily known for having justified the pagan rites of the Pachamama (see here).**

For the time being, this is about a Pontifical Rescript ‘only’, mediated by the Congregation for the Clergy for one single case, but if true, it would be really insane:

“[…] If in the past the priest who left the ministry was not allowed even to continue being in contact with his parish, it is now being asked that he assist in the carrying out of “useful services” for the community. In particular, no. 5 of the Rescript reads as follows: “The ecclesiastical Authority will endeavor to make it possible for the dispensed cleric to carry out useful services for the Christian community, by placing his God-given gifts and talents at its service.” (no.5).

Furthermore, no.6 adds that “the dispensed cleric be welcomed by the ecclesial community in which he resides, to continue his journey, faithful to the duties of his baptismal vocation”. (no.6). Thus, the root of the previous reference to the priest’s “exile” is done away with. It reads as follows: “the priest dispensed from celibacy and even more so the priest who has married, must stay away from the place or territory where his previous status is known” (no.5f). The obligation prescribed by the previous Rescript of imposing a penance on the dispensed priest is also totally done away with, as it presupposed that he had committed a sin and violated his duties.  Regarding this the new Rescript established: “Some  act of charity or piety will be set for the person concerned”. Moreover, if the priest asking for the dispensation wanted to marry (something common in most of the cases), the previous Rescript prescribed that “the ordinary must lend the greatest care whereby the celebration is conducted with discretion, with no pomp or fanfare.” (no.4). That is to say, hiding the priest’s sacrament of marriage from the community. [To show that] receiving such a sacrament were, in this case and only this one, a disgrace, or worse still, a scandal to the faithful. Now, instead, it says that the marriage be celebrated “respecting the sensibility of the faithful of the place” (no.4). 

Besides the changes in language, tone and norms, the new decree descends even further into the practice and provision for dispensed priests to continue being active pastorally. In fact, the previous Rescript, envisaged the following: “the dispensed priest is excluded from the exercise of Holy Orders…and cannot deliver homilies or cover any offices of direction in the pastoral sphere, nor will any responsibility be given to him in the parish administration” (no.5b)  and “ he cannot exercise the function of lector, acolyte or distribute or be an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist in any place” (5f)

Even if [the previous Rescript] contemplated the prospect that  the Ordinary of the diocese might deviate from some or even all of these clauses (no.6), the new Rescript proclaims: “The dispensed cleric may exercise ecclesiastical offices that do not require Holy Orders, with the permission of the bishop responsible” (5a).

Will we now find priests and religious with girlfriends (or boyfriends) in tow, teaching in Catholic schools,  leading Catechism or reading in Church? Let’s hope this is an April Fool’s Joke (but we are in November!) otherwise, where does the respect for many exemplary priests and religious go as well as any consideration  for us, poor, lay people?

Or after the Roman / Vatican rites to the Goddess Mother Pachamama, is  this alright now too?  
It would be great if the Congregation for the Clergy and its Prefect, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, would debunk this disaster waiting to happen.

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana