Friday, October 05, 2012

Clerical Penalties

“A Cleric living in concubinage, and a cleric who continues in some other external sin against the sixth Commandment of the Decalogue which causes scandal, is to be punished with suspension. To this other penalties can be added if after a warning, he persists in the offence, until eventually he can be dismissed from the clerical state.” (Canon 1395 par 1. CIC)

After the two previous articles on “Clerical Discipline” and “Clerical Obligations”, what comes next – as a matter of interest and concern – is the question of what are the penalties that can be imposed upon any member of the Clergy who violate a serious obligation such as continence/celibacy, and who wherefore deserves to be penalized for it, after due canonical procedure in line with the pertinent laws of the Church?

Needless to say, even in the Church, there are a number of sanctions for the violation of her Penal Laws. And the sanctions – as dictated by reason and ethics – differ in nature and gravity, in scope and severity. As far as the members of the Clergy are concerned, some relatively light sanctions for the violation of this or that Penal Law, are the following: Prohibition of Residence. Deprivation of Authority. Revocation of Privilege. Transfer to another Office. And the like.

As categorically provided by the above sited Canon 1395 par. 1 CIC, there are two major penalties as far as Clerics are concerned for the violation of continence and the non-observance of clerical celibacy: Suspension from the exercise of the Priestly Office and Dismissal from the Clerical State. The violation of clerical continence takes place when a Cleric commits grave sins against the Sixth Commandment – irrespective of manner, age, and gender of the other party/parties. The infraction of the Law of Celibacy takes place when a Cleric contracts marriage of any kind, in any place, at any time.

Suspension from the exercise of Priestly Office means that the Cleric guilty of the violation of the obligation of clerical continence or clerical celibacy, is stripped of the ecclesiastical faculty or canonical authorization to do any priestly ministry. Any Office therewith connected is also taken away. Dismissal from the Clerical State means just that, i.e., expulsion from clerical standing. This can be considered as the most serious and shameful sanction for an otherwise respectable Cleric.

One thing is certain: While the Church has teachings about the hereafter and beyond, She also has laws for the here and now – such as those for the Members of her own Clergy about Clerical Discipline, Clerical Obligations, and Clerical Penalties.