Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Clerical Obligations

“Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy. Celibacy is a special gift of God by which sacred Ministers can more easily remain close to Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbor.” (Canon 277 par.1 CIC)

Let it be said that even Clerics have their “Rights and Obligations” as far as the Church is concerned. Thus it is that every Cleric – Deacon, Priest, Bishop – has the following four (4) more signal rights that the Church, through the proper local ecclesiastical authorities, should respect and comply with: Right to have sufficient food. Right to have a decent shelter. Right to have medicines when sick. Right to a decent burial after death.

On the other hand, Clerics have some thirty four (34) minor and major obligations – from his obligation to pray the Breviary, to those of obeying the competent ecclesiastical authorities, of exercising the priestly ministry as accordingly tasked, of living, staying, and serving in a given place, of undergoing regular spiritual retreats and pastoral renewals – to mention a few. This is not even saying anything about their mandate of dutifully and properly extending pastoral attention to those assigned to their priestly care.

Among the more serious and likewise more known clerical obligation as far as the Church is concerned, that one concretely and clearly provided by the above cited Church legislation as articulated by Canon 277 par. 1 CIC, is not only relevant but also significant. By way of a more specific knowledge and better understanding of the said particular law, it might be good to mention the following built-in specific obligations therein:

One, the clerical obligation is not only “perfect” in intent but also “perpetual” in extent. Among other things, this means that the obligation is not only unconditional and wherefore absolute, but also for a lifetime.

Two, the clerical obligation to “continence” in plain language is purity of life. More concretely it means the categorical prohibition of carnal practice of any kind – be this forced upon someone or freely agreed to by the latter.

Three, the clerical obligation includes “celibacy” as an immediate and logical consequence. It should be pointed out that celibacy is not simple staying single but also living in purity – as above noted.

Such stands one of the more commonly known clerical obligations even among the Lay People in the Church. And thus, too, stands the more commonly violated law as far as the Clergy all over the world are concerned.

Question: What is the penalty for the violation of Canon 277 par. 1 CIC?