Saturday, January 12, 2008

In the Catholic Church deacons are clergy, part II

I read this just today in a post commenting on the refusal of communion to the excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who attempted a marriage with a Korean woman, by a priest in Naples, Italy: "Unless, granted a rescript of laicization a cleric cannot enter a valid marriage." Just to be clear, this is not incorrect, but it does need some explanation and exposition, otherwise known as plain old canonical nit-picking. As per canon 266 §1, deacons are clerics. Any man who receives the sacrament of holy orders cannot marry once in the clerical state, which is entered upon reception of the sacrament of holy orders. For example, I was married prior to receiving the sacrament, but did not require special permission to enter the clerical state as a married man. Should I (God forbid) be widowed, I could petition the Holy See for permission to re-marry or petition for a rescript of laicization in order to do so. No doubt, a petition to re-marry and remain in the clerical state upon being widowed would rely heavily on the fact that I did not take a vow of perpetual celibacy upon entering the clerical state. Basically, this is also the case for married men who are ordained priests from Protestant ecclesial communions, who do not take a vow of celibacy as a condition of being ordained priests. I doubt that in either case such a petition would be approved because of the Roman proscription of clerics entering into marriage once in the clerical state.

Only Roman Catholic priests, upon being ordained (transitional) deacons and, again, when being ordained priests, along with unmarried permanent deacons, take vows of celibacy as part of their receiving holy orders. So, it seems that it is the vow of perpetual celibacy on the part of a cleric that absolutely requires a rescript of laicization to validly marry. A rescript of laicization can only be obtained from the Holy See. Archbishop Milingo would certainly require one. Without such a rescript, which returns him to the state of a layman, his so-called "marriage" is, canonically speaking, only an attempted marriage. Hence, it is not a marriage at all. Whereas, my ordination and marriage, along with those of my brother deacons and a significant number of priests worldwide, are both valid and licit, requiring no rescript of laicization.

This is all canonical as married men, according to The Code of Canon Law for the Eastern [Catholic] Churches, can be ordained priests in Eastern Catholic Churches, just as they can in Orthodox Churches, celibacy not being integral to the clerical state. Once again, if a cleric is to be married, either in the Roman Rite or the Eastern Churches, it must be prior to him receiving the sacrament of holy orders.

No comments:

Post a Comment