Whereas it already appears as a probability that a Catholic Priest will throw his hat into the arena of the 2010 Presidential Election in the Country, it is not only proper and just but also practical that certain more signal realities about the Sacred Priesthood, be hereunder expressly mentioned and accordingly explained. Otherwise, the misnomers usually invoked by media without any bad intention, might not be at all corrected, thereby generating the misconceptions that go therewith, specially so among the Catholic lay people. Just for the record, the following nomenclature is explicitly said and formally used by the universal Code of Canon Law in the event that a Catholic Priest be somebody or something else than what he should be:
1. Suspension from the Priestly Ministry:
This is a penalty that is imposed on a Priest by his Bishop for serious misconduct of one kind or another, against his canonical obligations – after due admonitions without however any self-correction on his part. In substance, suspension means that a thus penalized Priest may not either validly and/or licitly exercise the basic threefold priestly Office of preaching the Gospel to Catholics, of sanctifying them through the administration of the Sacraments, and of governing the same through his pastoral task. The Priest however retains his clerical state.
2. Dispensation for Priestly Obligations:
This is a Favor that is given by the Holy Father to a Priest who for grave reasons makes the deliberate option to be released from his canonical obligations - such as the Law of Celibacy, the Promise of Obedience to his Bishop, and the Obligation of Praying the Breviary. There is a summary administrative process in documenting Dispensation cases in general, foremost of which is the formal written Petition of the Priest concerned whereas such a big favor is not given when not really asked. The Priest loses thereby his clerical state.
3. Dismissal from the Clerical State:
This is a penalty that is imposed by the Holy Father upon a Priest with gross errant behavior against Church Doctrine and/or Canon Law, and yet refuses to ask for a Dispensation. There is a formal judicial process in the documentation of Dismissal Cases. When thus penalized, a Priest is commonly said to be “defrocked” – thrown out of the clerical state and thereby also dispensed from his canonical obligations.
In all the above Cases, the person concerned however remains a Priest whereas just as Baptism, the imprint of this remains with the baptized no matter what he does with his or her Catholic Faith.
July 20, 2009