The Sanctifying Function of the Church
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» Those to be ordained
» Irregularities and other impediments
Those bound by an impediment are to be barred from the reception of orders. An impediment may be simple; or it may be perpetual, in which case it is called an irregularity. No impediment is contracted which is not contained in the following canons.
The following persons are irregular for the reception of orders:
1° one who suffers from any form of insanity, or from any other psychological infirmity, because of which he is, after experts have been consulted, judged incapable of being able to fulfil the ministry;
2° one who has committed the offence of apostasy, heresy or schism;
3° one who has attempted marriage, even a civil marriage, either while himself prevented from entering marriage whether by an existing marriage bond or by a sacred order or by a public and perpetual vow of chastity, or with a woman who is validly married or is obliged by the same vow;
4° one who has committed wilful homicide, or one who has actually procured an abortion, and all who have positively cooperated;
5° one who has gravely and maliciously mutilated himself or another, or who has attempted suicide;
[NB see Authentic Interpretation of canon 1041, 4º-5º, 31.V.2016]
6° one who has carried out an act of order which is reserved to those in the order of the episcopate or priesthood, while himself either not possessing that order or being barred from its exercise by some canonical penalty, declared or imposed.
The following are simply impeded from receiving orders:
1° a man who has a wife, unless he is lawfully destined for the permanent diaconate;
2° one who exercises an office or administration forbidden to clerics, in accordance with cann. 285 and 286
, of which he must render an account; the impediment binds until such time as, having relinquished the office and administration and rendered the account, he has been freed;
3° a neophyte, unless, in the judgement of the Ordinary, he has been sufficiently tested.
Christ’s faithful are bound to reveal, before ordination, to the Ordinary or to the parish priest, such impediments to sacred orders as they may know about.
§1 The following are irregular for the exercise of orders already received:
1° one who, while bound by an irregularity for the reception of orders, unlawfully received orders;
2° one who committed the offence mentioned in can. 1041,
n. 2, if the offence is public
3° one who committed any of the offences mentioned in can. 1041,
nn. 3, 4,5,6.
§2 The following are impeded from the exercise of orders:
1° one who, while bound by an impediment to the reception of orders, unlawfully received orders;
2° one who suffers from insanity or from some other psychological infirmity mentioned in can. 1041,
n. 1, until such time as the Ordinary, having consulted an expert, has allowed the exercise of the order in question.
Ignorance of irregularities and impediments does not exempt from them.
Irregularities and impediments are multiplied if they arise from different causes, not however from the repetition of the same cause, unless it is a question of the irregularity arising from the commission of wilful homicide or from having actually procured an abortion.
§1 If the fact on which they are based has been brought to the judicial forum, dispensation from all irregularities is reserved to the Apostolic See alone.
§2 Dispensation from the following irregularities and impediments to the reception of orders is also reserved to the Apostolic See:
1° irregularities arising from the offences mentioned in can. 1041,
nn. 2 and 3, if they are public;
2° an irregularity arising from the offence, whether public or occult, mentioned in can. 1041,
3° the impediment mentioned in can. 1042,
§3 To the Apostolic See is also reserved the dispensation from the irregularities for the exercise of an order received mentioned in can. 1041,
n.3 but only in public cases, and in n. 4 of the same canon even in occult cases.
§4 The Ordinary can dispense from irregularities and impediments not reserved to the
In the more urgent occult cases, if the Ordinary or, in the case of the irregularities mentioned in can. 1041,
nn. 3 and 4, the Penitentiary cannot be approached, and if there is imminent danger of serious harm or loss of reputation, the person who is irregular for the exercise of an order may exercise it. There remains, however, the obligation of his having recourse as soon as possible to the Ordinary or the Penitentiary, without revealing his name, and through a confessor.
§1 In a petition to obtain a dispensation from irregularities or impediments, all irregularities and impediments are to be mentioned. However, a general dispensation is valid also for those omitted in good faith, with the exception of the irregularities mentioned in can. 1041,
n. 4, or of others which have been brought to the judicial forum; it is not, however, valid for those concealed in bad faith.
§2 If it is question of an irregularity arising from wilful homicide or from a procured abortion, for the validity of the dispensation even the number of offences must be stated.
§3 A general dispensation from irregularities and impediments to the reception of orders is valid for all orders.
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