Canon Law

Luke 16:18  “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

Thus says Our Lord Jesus. Some Church leaders today seem to be contradicting His words and the Laws of the Church. Canon Lawyer Ed Peters comments on new developments:

“A single sentence threatens to undercut the good presented in “Sharing in the Joy of Love”, the graphically-attractive, 55-page pastoral plan published by the Archdiocese of Washington (DC) to implement Pope Francis’ document Amoris laetitia.

The problem sentence reads as follows: “Priests are called to respect the decisions made in conscience by individuals who act in good faith since no one can enter the soul of another and make that judgment for them.” SJL, p. 52.

This admonition can, of course, be appropriately applied in innumerable situations. But, if the sentence means that priests must “respect the decision” of divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics, living as though married to each other, to approach for holy Communion, and administer the Sacrament to them, then the admonition fails for violating Canon 915 and the Eucharistic discipline which that canon has always represented.

I say “if”, however, because whether that is what SJL calls for is not clear. The words “canon”, “law”, and “discipline”, for example, do not appear in SJL. Canon 915 is never mentioned—not attacked, mind, just never mentioned.

What makes one fear, however, that the sentence might be intended to sway ministers of holy Communion toward administration of the Eucharist under gravely illicit conditions—besides the fact that ministers so inclined could easily invoke SJL’s phrasing here in support of precisely such administration—is that the rational offered for such a stance, namely, that “no one can enter the soul of another and make [a conscience] judgment for them”, is repeatedly put forth these days as if a would-be communicant’s conscience preempted a minister’s application of Canon 915.

But the claim that Canon 915 yields to the conclusions of personal conscience as reached by a Catholic approaching for holy Communion is, as I have pointed out many, many times, completely wrong. Canon 915, and the tradition upon which it stands, operate in the face of observable behavior and not personal conscience. Civil marriage after divorce is observable behavior, behavior that is gravely contrary to Christ’s teaching on the permanence of marriage, to the Christian’s duty to avoid giving scandal, and to the Church’s law on reception of the sacraments.

In short, if encouraging ministers to give holy Communion to divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics is indeed what SJL intends by its wording here, then SJL is wrong; even if such is the use that some ministers intend to make of this passage in SJL, they are using the ambiguous wording of this sentence to avoid the clear directives of canon law and sacramental discipline.”

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The Mid-air Marriage Gets Muddier

by Steve Ray on January 21, 2018

Written by Dr. Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer

Popes on planes aren’t supposed to be a setting from which to draw fodder for canon law essay exams, but as far back as Pope Benedict XVI, such flights have occasioned more than their fair share of papal words or actions carrying canonical implications but undertaken with little apparent advertence to canon law.

266AE510-8299-4163-9B4D-37E693C5E344Let’s start with some fact questions in regard to the mid-air marriage recently officiated by Pope Francis. It is emerging that maybe the wedding wasn’t as spontaneous as reported, that maybe the happy couple were not “astonished” at the pope’s allegedly sudden idea, and that maybe the ‘Here?!’ and ‘It was a great surprise’ portrayals were expected.

Last month, in an interview published in emol.com, Podest and Ciuffardi, picked to serve on the cabin crew for the papal visit, talked about their civil marriage from some eight years ago (which they had been too busy to convalidate), and stated that they “both hope that in January this delayed [wedding] plan can finally take place on the plane and be officiated over by none other than Pope Francis himself. ‘We would like it. This is our place, our second home, it is where we feel secure.’” *

C’mon, someone was obviously planning something. It would be interesting to know who and what.

For the rest of his article, click HERE.

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The Ray family will happily celebrate Mass on Christmas Eve (Sunday) and Christmas (Monday). Yeah, I know there is a lot going on. I know hams have to cook and presents be presented. But come on … it is the celebration of the birth of Our Savior!

One priest thought he would make it easier on his parishioners and dispense them from the Christmas Eve Mass (Sunday). Oh boy, he made a mistake…

Canon Lawyer Ed Peters addresses the issue in his recent article “What an Invalid Dispensation Looks Like“:

Christmas falls on a Monday this year, so the bis-septennial angst over back-to-back Mass attendance obligations is upon us. The US bishops could have suppressed the Christmas obligation under Canon 1246 § 2 (as they did with Solemnity of Mary, Jan 1) but they chose instead to let it stand. Most practicing Catholics will say, “Fine, two Masses on two days. No big deal.”

Not a pastor in Pennsylvania, however, who is attempting to dispense his parishioners from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass the day before Christmas, via a bulletin notice no less:

“Therefore, by my authority as pastor, I hereby grant a dispensation from the obligation for the Fourth Sunday of Advent in individual cases that meet the following conditions: 1. You are reading this dispensation as an individual right now; 2. You are my canonical parishioner, either by geography or by registration; 3. You place ALL the envelopes for BOTH celebrations in the collection basket at whatever Mass you attend.”

I think “Fr. Penn’s” scheme fails utterly as a dispensation. Let’s see why…

For the rest of the article, click here.

UPDATE: “The Diocese of Pittsburgh has just overruled that purported dispensation. Deo gratias.”

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“Francis was never pope? Call me unpersuaded.” By Dr. Ed Peters

September 29, 2017

By Canon Lawyer, Dr. Ed Peters: (Note: I am giving this one shot. If it sways some adherents of the ‘Francis-was-never-pope’ group, great; but if it only reassures observers who, regardless of what they think about how Francis is governing, are disquieted by the suggestion that his papacy itself is a chimera, that satisfies me […]

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Fr. James Martin’s book “Building Bridges” – Comments by Dr. Ed Peters

September 17, 2017

About Fr. Martin’s book September 16, 2017 by Dr. Ed Peters: Defending his book, Building a Bridge (2017), Jesuit Father James Martin claims that its consistency with Church teaching is attested to by (A) his own good standing as a priest, and (B) the canonical approval the book received from his Jesuit superior. Martin’s first claim, that he […]

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Leading Theologian: Change Canon Law to Correct Papal Errors

August 19, 2017

Fr  Aidan’s proposal for procedures to rein in an errant Pope and below, Canon Lawyer Ed Peters astute and complementary thoughts. Leading theologian: change canon law to correct papal errors, by Dan Hitchens posted Friday, 18 Aug 2017 In the Catholic Herald… “Fr Aidan Nichols said that Pope Francis’s teaching had led to an ‘extremely […]

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A Quick Reply to Question about Cremation and Scattering the Ashes

May 23, 2017

I was asked a question about Catholics, cremation and the scattering of ash. Here is my brief answer: The whole issue of cremation goes back to the Romans. They denied the bodily resurrection so they often burned the body and if they were rich they put the ashes in urns and put them in the […]

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Did the Pope Change Doctrine with Amoris Laetitia?

February 24, 2017

I AM A LAWYER, NOT A MIND-READER February 23, 2017 By Canon Lawyer Ed Peters, Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ echoing of claims that Amoris laetitia changed no doctrines occasioned a question for me: Am I the only (or among the few) Amoris critics who agrees with Amoris defenders that Pope Francis made no doctrinal changes in […]

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Difference between “Sexual Relations” and “Conjugal Relations” in Relation to Amoris Laetitia

February 16, 2017

Canon Lawyer Ed Peters writes, “Among the fault lines revealed by the ecclesiastical earthquakes erupting after Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia, we can see, I suggest, how some high-ranking ecclesiastics seem inadequately to understand the differences between “sexual relations” and “conjugal relations”. Most any man and any woman can have sexual relations, of course, but only […]

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Amoris Laetitia and Divorced-Remarried: the Wounds Get Deeper

February 14, 2017

Canon Lawyer Ed Peters writes (excerpts), “[Regarding] some excerpts translated from Francesco Cdl. Coccopalmerio’s new, short book on Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia. If the excerpts I read are accurate, the President of the Pontifical Council of Legislative Texts (the body charged with issuing binding interpretations of ecclesiastical legal texts, notably the Code of Canon Law), comes […]

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Denzinger Timeline of the Controversy over Communion for the Divorced and ‘Remarried’ in Adultery and Pope Francis

December 27, 2016

This is an amazing resource compiled by Andrew Guernsey. It provides all the source material on the subject of Communion for Divorced and civilly “remarried.” It starts with the Old Testament and then the New Testament before moving historically through the Fathers, Popes, Councils and more. A thorough resource for all the source documents upon […]

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Excellent EWTN World Over interview With Cardinal Burke on the Pope’s Encyclical

December 16, 2016

Let me speak my mind clearly. I support Cardinal Burke and the others 100%. God bless them!

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A Canonical Primer on Popes and Heresy

December 16, 2016

No one in a position of ecclesial responsibility—not the Four Cardinals posing dubia, not Grisez & Finnis cautioning about misuses, and not the 45 Catholics appealing to the College, among others—has, despite the bizarre accusations made about some of them, accused Pope Francis of being a heretic or of teaching heresy. While many are concerned […]

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Rome in the Eye of a Storm

December 13, 2016

Catholic Journalist and writer for National Catholic Register summarized the situation in Rome as the Pope refuses to respond to a growing number of voices requesting an explanation of his document Amoris Laetitia. I found it worth reading, along with the two below. Msgr. Charles Pope has written  the clearest and simplest explanation I’ve read to […]

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Four cardinals make public plea to Pope to clarify Amoris Laetitia

November 14, 2016

Four cardinals have made public a message to Pope Francis in which they plead for clarification of Amoris Laetitia, pointing to tensions between the papal document and traditional Catholic teachings on marriage. The four cardinals sent their request for clarification to Pope Francis on September 19. They have received no reply. The prelates explain that […]

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A Canon Law Primer on Church Teaching Regarding “Same-sex Marriage”

September 17, 2016

A primer on Church teaching regarding ‘same-sex marriage’ by Dr. Edward Peters No matter which way the US Supreme Court rules in the “gay marriage” cases before it the international debate over the definition of marriage will continue because that debate is, at root, about matters beyond a civil court’s competence, things like the nature of […]

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