Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A question for Roman Catholic readers

Professor of canon law Edward Peters has put up an interesting post which is getting much attention in the Catholic blogosphere. In this post he posits that Canon 277 § 3 of the Code of Canon Law (1983) gives no authority to local bishops to relax the Latin discipline of continence among all ranks of the permanent clergy. He further and specifically extends this to include the "married permanent Diaconate." Here then is my question.

Is the new Ordinariate subject to the Code of Canon Law of the Latin Church? And if so would not then the provisions of canon 277 apply to the clergy of the Ordinariate, even though they may be married? Has the Holy See granted any specific exemption in this case? What about those clergy received under the so called Pastoral Provision?


Conchúr said...

So far as I can tell Canon 277 has never been enforced with relation to married convert clergy or married deacons since their re-introduction in 1967.

It's strikes me as a piece of legislation that got left behind by changing circumstances, that is to say it was something that should have been amended to reflect practice but was, for whatever reason, overlooked.

If and when it is revised it will probably be to incorporate the norms of the Eastern Churches with regards to continence in clerical marriages.

Young fogey emeritus said...

Interesting. Never thought of that. Either such have been dispensed by the Pope or, more likely, it's a law that's long not been enforced. Given the 'theology of the body' under the big tent of orthodoxy, and that the Orthodox don't enforce this rule, it's not likely to come back.

AP said...

Some comments:

1) On April 1981, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a short English-language note entitled "In June, 1980" which declares that married former Episcopalian clergy who become Catholic priests are exempted by the Holy See itself from the rule of celibacy. Anglicanorum Coetibus no. VI states that "In June, 1980" will continue to be in force for the Ordinariate, therefore the married clergy of the Ordinariate are dispensed from celibacy by the Holy See itself.

2) It is no secret that one of the attractions of the permanent diaconate in the modern Catholic Church is the belief that it does not entail having to sacrifice the marital right, a belief that has largely remained unchallenged and which many married permanent deacons hold in good faith. Should the Holy See suddenly decide to enforce this Canon, we can be certain that large numbers of married permanent deacons will ask Rome to allow them to leave the clerical state, on the plea that they had never been properly informed as to what is required of permanent deacons by the Church, and it is unfair to force them to observe a vow they never thought they ever made.

Anonymous said...

An official clarification from Rome regarding this Canon cannot fail to have interesting results. If Rome says, "yes, permanent deacons are bound to continence", you will see a large exodus of permanent deacons from the ministry. That will be disastrous to countless parishes and dioceses all over the Catholic Church in the West. It will also strengthen those who have been clamoring for more lay ministries and women's ministries (not necessarily female priests), as the ensuing vacuum will give them the opportunity that they need to press the bishops and perhaps Rome itself to accede to their demands.

If Rome says, "no, permanent deacons are not bound to continence", the wailing about Benedict's "betrayal of tradition" from various conservative and traditionalist Catholic circles will be endless, especially from the Opus Dei circles that seem intent on turning celibacy into a dogma.