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Let dispensed priests play active parish role, Vatican urges bishops

By on Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cardinal Ivan Dias: says dispensed priests should be able to play a greater role in parish life (Photo: PA)

Cardinal Ivan Dias: says dispensed priests should be able to play a greater role in parish life (Photo: PA)

The Vatican has appealed to diocesan bishops to encourage priests who have left ministry in order to get married to play a more active role in parish life.

In a copy of a letter seen by The Catholic Herald Cardinal Ivan Dias, the prefect for the Evangelisation of Peoples in Rome, placed more discretionary power in the hands of bishops for discerning a dispensed cleric’s involvement with parish life. The letter, dated February 2 2011, was sent to a priest, who had written to the congregation on behalf of an Australian missionary society that is seeking a relaxation of the prohibitions on dispensed clergy.

Cardinal Dias wrote of his confidence that the Vatican’s reforms would enable dispensed priests to lead a more active life in the Church as committed Catholics under their bishop’s guidance. The usual mode of laicisation and dispensation from the priestly vow of celibacy is through a “rescript of the Apostolic See”, meaning a response from the Pope or a sacred congregation granting a favour and the conditions upon which it is granted.

The rescript permitting the laicisation of a priest prohibits celebrating Mass, delivering homilies, administering the Eucharist, teaching or working in seminaries and places restrictions on teaching the faith in schools and universities. The cardinal’s letter means that the enforcement of half the prohibitions stipulated in the rescript will now come under the discretion of the local bishop.

Prohibitions that are no longer absolute include teaching theology in schools or universities, both Catholic and non-Catholic, contact with the parish where the priest used to serve and administering the Eucharist.

  • dabitur

    As usual, the Vatican is WAY behind the curve, as it was with altar girls and other similar church situations. MANY parishes and pastors have long since been utilizing the services of “laicized” priests as lectors, preachers, eucharistic ministers, ministers to sick in homes, nursing homes and hospitals, leaders of parish RCIA programs, baptismal preparation, religion teachers, and on and on, despite the “Rescript” restrictions placed on them. True, there are priests and parishes that will have nothing to do with such ‘miscreants’, but many are not prepared to forego the ready, educated and professional pool of men (and women) available to them and sitting in their pews every weekend, as they themselves struggle to keep up with liturgical services of all kinds while seeing their ranks visibly being depleted by lack of vocations, age, sickness, infirmity and death. “Laudate Dominum!!! 

  • Sweetjae

    Yes because time and time again you have been proven wrong and against the teachings of the Bible and Sacred Tradition. What you put and wrote here are just your opinion not supported by any Scriptural and Magisterial Teachings of the Church.

    If you lived in the first 300-400 years of the Church THERE WAS NO LATIN/TRIDENTINE MASS, the early Fathers and martyrs of the Church who were the epitome of true Living Faith didn’t practice the latin Mass we used in the western world because it only came about gradually 400 years A.D. The celebration of the Eucharist was in vernacular of the Aramaic and Greek rituals . There is NO Tradition yet for the Latin Mass at that time, so if we follow your false logic those Early Fathers and Christians were also guilty of abandoning their 400 years of Tradition.

    The Encyclical you are talking about does not prohibit or even mentioned the receiving of the Holy Host on hands as offensive but rather the disrespectful INTENTION and disposition of one’s attitude towards receiving the Specimen.

    You can kneel all  day and receive the Eucharist on your tongue every single day but if you don’t discern and believe it is the Body and Blood of Our Lord, your kneeling is useless in fact  hold more accountable and judgment to the Lord. I already gave you direct quotations from the Bible (not Encyclical) that at the Last Supper Jesus Himself and His Apostles received His Body and Blood sitting down and some standing. If Jesus didn’t like it then He should have commanded and rebuked His Apostles. That is Tradition clearly shown and interpreted by the Living Authority of the Church not SSPX.

  • Sweetjae

    Brother this was already discussed in full.  Like what I have said before SSPX is quilty of putting the very Authority it despises to its shoulders. The problem is the true interpretation of Sacred Tradition is given to the Church not the SSPX nor any individual Bishops of SSPX or Liberal leaniong clergy nor you and me. The Traditio you are talking about is mainly the Tridentine Mass which for 400 years of the Early Church doesn’t exist. The Early Church Fathers and Martyrs didn’t practice it because Tridentine Mass doesn’t exist yet, so if we follow the false logic of SSPX and Sedevacantists those Early Christians were quilty of abandoning Tradition Of the Greek and Aramaic rites and espoused modernization by the introduction of the Latin Mass in 400 A.D.

    So don’t let get hung-up with false interpretation of tradition that SSPX tells you because that was the same clone tour protestant brothers made that they have the right to interpret the Scripture alone apart from the authority of the Church. Look at were they are now splitting into thousands of differing groups and look at were the SSPX after it “separated” from the Church in 1980′ssplitting into differing groups too.The job of MAKING and  INTERPRETING the Canon Laws and Traditions is only given and exercized by the Magisterial Authority of the Church in the Name of Christ. (Pope and Bishops in communion with him).Now brother, since SSPX is not yet in FULL Communion with the Church (I’m not saying SSPX are not Catholics but rather in Irregular state), why go with them instead with the Living Authority of the Church?

    “Where Peter is, there is the Church” St Ambrose 300.A.D.

  • EditorCT

    So, are you saying that the Pope is wrong to require Communicants to kneel and receive ont he tongue?

  • Tomas de Torquemada

    I regret my lack of success, but it was not for want of a heartfelt try.

    It comes down to, I think, information.  Indeed, I’m reminded of a scene from “Casablanca”:

    Captain Renault:  What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
    Rick:  My health.  I came to Casablanca for the waters.
    Captain Renault:  The waters?  What waters?  We’re in the desert.
    Rick:  I was misinformed.

  • Anonymous


    Would you please explain to me what this off-topic diatribe of yours has to do with my suggestion of hypocrisy?

    In your penultimate sentence you even have the nerve to tell Our Blessed Lord what he ought to be doing!

    Truly you are running low on Sanctifying Grace and you need to get yourself a top up.

  • Tomas de Torquemada

    A related story I’d like to share:

    My comment:

    Eucharistic ministry is an appalling scandal.  Only a priest, he whose hands have been consecrated, may touch the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ; the faithful should receive the Lord at the
    communion rail on the tongue and while kneeling, and from a priest — and only from a priest.

    The best way for the Catholic laity to aid the Church in crisis (engendered by the egregious Second Vatican
    Council) is by contributing financially and through prayer to the traditionalist apostolates — the parishes, the seminaries, the religious communities, the schools, and the publications.

    Traditionalists are thriving in the Church, and are fighting the good fight alongside Our Lord that the gates of hell will never prevail, as well as with Our Lady, to bring to fruition her pledge that her Immaculate Heart will
    ultimately triumph.

    The Bride of Christ will one day be restored to the fullness of tradition, without the slightest compromise or
    dilution — militant, triumphant, and triumphalist.

    Vive Christus Rex!

  • Anonymous

    I agree that all Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, catechists and teachers must have a proper formation and conform to the Church’s teachings when performing their role, whether laicised or not.  
    But why is being “a socialist” so wrong?

     Like “left and right wing”, it’s a word that has a very wide meaning.  Thus “atheistic socialism” is a definite no-no for Catholics as is abortion, of course.

    But I’m concerned that you are apparently implying that any Catholic MP in the British Labour Party, or any Catholic who votes/supports Labour, or is in a union that contributes to the Labour party, can’t be in good standing with the Church. 

    That’s because they often describe their position as “socialists”. 

  • Sweetjae

    All your reply are just an appeal to emotion without any substance or support from both the Bible and Tradition like when you said, “In your penultimate sentence you even have the nerve to tell Our Blessed Lord what he ought to be doing!”

    This is the kind of response you , SSPX and protestants are typically imploying when cornered. Protestants (don’t get me wrong I’m not implying you are a protestant, you are a catholic but in an irregular state) protestants when you corner them about the untenable and unsustainable principle of “faith alone” and “bible alone” they all appeal to non-tangible off-topic  emotion like,  “are you more knowledgeable and merciful  than God if He liked us to be saved by Faith Alone not by merits of our love and good works to our neighbors”. Noticed both have the same theme, same clones!

    Mr. Leprauchaun, Im not saying what Our Lord ought to be doing but rather if you READ the Bible Jesus Christ being the Great Knowing God he always explained his parables, actions and words to the people specially if his Apostles and people in general don’t seem to get. Good examples the are “this Temple will  be destroyed and in three days restored”, “beware of the unleavened bread of the Pharisees”, “The Bread of Life discourse” referring to the bread becoming His True Body and Blood etc. 

    Jesus Christ being a good Teacher had always, always explain what He meant so there would be  no misunderstanding being  LITERALLY OR METAPHORICALLY. He also rebuked His Apostles if they make actions and utter words that are offensive and unpleasant in His eyes.

    So being at the Last Supper, were they ALL were sitting down , some standing in front of the table , these men passing by their hands and eating the Bread of the Angels with Jesus now if being a good Teacher Jesus saw something He didn’t like or being offensive to God  then should have made at least a correction of an error done. Christ would not let us do something in error without informing us of the error!


    Well for me running low on Sanctifying grace I  thank you for reminding me as we are all are sinners with the exception of you and SSPX, you guys are the epitome of FULL OF GRACE, The very Magisterial Authority of God on earth.

  • Sweetjae

    No, the pope is not wrong to require Communicants to kneel and receive on tongue however the pope is also not wrong when he says nothing  we can receive the Eucharist by hands standing up. The essence and reverence given to the Lord  is the  disposition and intention of our hearts. Read the example of Our Lord about the poor and rich man giving alms in the Temple. THE INTENTION COUNTS NOT THE OUTSIDE APPEARANCE.

  • Sweetjae

    erratum: I should have said, the pope is also not wrong when he says we can received the Host by hands standing up.

  • Sweetjae

    Thanks you and God bless brother. just a reminder, the pendulum of disobedience swings both ways, one to left and one to the right. I’m also reminded of the mind of the Great Doctor of the Church St. Augustine:

    The final Authority to settle dispute between christians rest not on individual clergy or bishop (whether liberal or conservative) but rather the Church. Rome has spoken the case is close”.

    So don’t get hung up with people who think they are right in their interpretation of Tradition (SSPX) or the Bible (protestants).

    Don’t leave Peter because of Judas (liberal bishops).

  • Anonymous


    In your earlier post you said, and I quote:” If Jesus didn’t like it then He should have commanded and rebuked His Apostles.“.

    In the post above, you have just said and I quote: “Im not saying what Our Lord ought to be doing“.

    You have just contradicted yourself and it seems to me that you do not know whether you want a balloon or a windmill !

    Why don’t you find a quiet corner and sit and read The End of the Present World and The Mysteries of the Future Life by Fr. Charles Arminjon and try and get a true perspective on life instead of ranting on about matters of which you patently know so little?

  • Sweetjae

    Oh by the way my reply to you is not an off-topic distribe but rather just plain Truth, it hurts isn’t it? Vatican says the former priests who got married can still make a service to the Church by those three limited activities only, PLEASE READ because you are reading between the lines and jumping again into conclusions that is not there on the first place. (typical protestant mentality). It didn’t say they can celebrate the Eucharist or hear confessions etc.

    The Church being a compassionate and loving mother imitating her Bride heard the prayers and cries of her former ministers who have made an error in the past (by marrying) to serve her again for the good and unity of the Kingdom of God. The Church didn’t shut them out but rather forgiving to let them back into the fold if repentant.

    Unlike the mold of SSPX and Sedevacantists who are proud and arrogant insisting they are right and have the authority to speak the Truth for the Church. They don’t admit and acknowledge their bigheaded ego, they are  unrepentant and sees only that they are correct not the Magisterium of the Church.

    Satan fell from the highest Heaven because of PRIDE, remember that!

  • Anonymous


    Which of the words “off” and “topic” do you not understand?

    This thread is a discussion about priests who have put their hands to the plough and have then looked back.  It is not about the SSPX, nor sedevacantists, nor Protestants so please do not try and make out that it is.  You are off topic and there is no denying the fact.  You are simply using the thread as a platform to air your personal views on matters which are irrelevant regardless of the topic.

    I did not say that such priests can celebrate the Eucharist and I did not say that they can hear confessions, so enough of your straw-man arguments and kindly do not attribute to me things which I did not say.

    Keep banging your head against the Rock, Sweetjae, and sooner or later the penny will drop.

  • Low-Key

    Your suggestions are not even remotely Catholic.