One of the most frequently asked questions regarding Catholicism and vocation is related to priests. Can priests marry? Can priests drink? Can retired priests get married? To name a few are some of these. In this blog post, we will yet again answer another question, Can a Former Catholic Priest get Married?
Celibacy is the practice of priests and religious people to abstain from marriage and sexual relations.
It was in 1139, the Second Lateran Council that celibacy for the priests in the Western Church became compulsory. Having said that, this tradition is a discipline and not a doctrine.
CCC 1579 All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to “the affairs of the Lord,” they give themselves entirely to God and to men. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church’s minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God.
But remember that celibacy is not just for the Priests, Religious Brothers, and Sisters of a Holy Order, it is also for singles. They should be faithful to the promise of being chaste and living a holy life.
Laicization is the process of removal of licit powers, rights, and authority from a priest.
CCC 1583 It is true that someone validly ordained can, for grave reasons, be discharged from the obligations and functions linked to ordination, or can be forbidden to exercise them; but he cannot become a layman again in the strict sense, because the character imprinted by ordination is for ever. The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently.
Although the ordination makes a priest, a priest forever, laicization is still possible.
Canon 292. A cleric who loses the clerical state in accordance with the law, loses thereby the rights that are proper to the clerical state and is no longer bound by any obligations of the clerical state, without prejudice to can. 291. He is prohibited from exercising the power of order, without prejudice to Can. 976. He is automatically deprived of all offices and roles and of any delegated power.
Marriage of a Former Priest
Now that we know the teachings of the Catholic Church about celibacy and laicization, let’s answer the topic question.
Can a Former Catholic Priest get Married?
Yes, it is possible. However, it is subject to restrictions and regulations. A priest must seek dispensation from the vow of celibacy and completing further obligations may be necessary.
The Church’s requirements for marriage for former Catholic priests are stringent, but with diligent effort and a clear conscience, it’s possible to obtain permission to marry and start a new life outside of the priesthood.
In our baptism, we made a vow to practice chastity. We have a call to be pure. The same is true with the priests during ordination. They promised to be celibate.
Just like any other vocation, priesthood requires sound discernment. It is a lifelong commitment to God. Thus, one must pray harder, asking God for grace to answer the call with conviction.
Although the Church allows ex-priests to marry, it is our duty as laity to embark journey of our priests. To pray for them more because are more prone to temptations.
If you are thinking of being a priest, discern well, and pray. The priestly journey may be a rollercoaster ride but know that you are not alone. God is with you every step of the way, guiding you, and above all sustaining you.
St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Priests, pray for us.