Skip to comments.Once a Catholic . . . (and part 2) . . . The Chicken's Questions
Posted on 12/20/2009 2:27:52 PM PST by NYer
Pope Benedict has released a new motu proprio titled Omnium in mentum which revises the Code of Canon Law on two points.
First, before getting into the changes, let me offer a high five to canonist Edward Peters for predicting, over ten years ago, that this would be the model followed in the future for changing canon law. Following the codification of canon law in 1917, the Code underwent a thorough revision in 1983. Rather than letting issues build up and then having another thorough revision at some point, John Paul II issued a motu proprio in 1998 that amended specific canons. Ed thereupon predicted that this would be the model for the foreseeable future--tweaking the text of the Code here and there as needed rather than leaving things sit until time for a massive revision.
So what's new in the motu proprio?
Two things: First, some language in the Code has been modified to describe the way that the office of deacon is understood. This brings the language of the Code in line with the language of the Catechism, which was itself brought in line with the language of Vatican II's decree Lumen Gentium (n. 29). I need to do further study on this point before commenting on it in any depth, though, so I'll pass on to the second change.
Second, the exemptions in the Code's marriage laws for those who have formally defected from the Church are now gone (or, rather, they will be when the motu proprio goes into force three months after its publication in Acta Apostolicae Sedis; CIC, can. 8).
This is quite interesting.
One of the things introduced in the 1983 Code was a set of exceptions in the Church's marriage law for those who had defected from the Church by a formal act. Specifically, if you had so defected then you were not obligated to
1) get a dispensation if you want to marry a non-baptized person (cf. can. 1086),
2) observe the Catholic form of marriage (i.e., "get married in the Church;" cf can. 1117), or
3) get permission to marry a non-Catholic Christian (cf. can. 1124).
The purpose of doing this was to allow people who had left the Church to validly enter into marriages of the kinds indicated.
Unfortunately, a lot of problems were generated by the law. For a start, it was unclear what constituted a formal act of defection. To try to rectify the problem, in 2006 the Holy See issued a clarification which set very specific requirements for the act, requirements which resulted in basically nobody committing acts of formal defection.
The clarification was, to my mind, bad law, and it raised a bunch of new headaches which have not subsequently been clarified, so far as I have been able to determine.
The Holy See also seems to have come to the conclusion that the formal defection law was not working as desired, and so it has now gotten rid of the whole thing.
As of the time the motu proprio goes into effect, therefore, anybody who has ever been a Catholic (even if they were baptized one as an infant and then raised something else) must follow the same marriage laws as those who consider themselves Catholic or their marriages will be invalid.
It brings to mind the old saying, "Once a Catholic, always a Catholic." I'm not sure what people always had in mind by this saying--whether they were saying that Catholic culture runs deep in the soul, even if one joins another church; whether they were asserting that it is impossible to truly leave the Church; or whether they were asserting something else.
Whatever was meant, though, and whatever nuances have been introduced theologically about kinds or degrees of ecclesial communion, going forward everybody who has ever been Catholic will be juridically Catholic, attempts at formal defection or no. It was only in its marriage law that the Church made exceptions for formal defection, and now those exceptions are being retired.
This is one way of cutting the Gordian knot. It may or may not be the optimal one, but it's what the law is going to be for now.
As far as I can tell, this creates the following timeline for handling the above marital situations:
The potential validity of a marriage involving a case of formal defection will thus depend on which of these four time periods it was attempted in--so far as I can tell.
MORE FROM ED PETERS.
HERE IS GOOGLE'S MACHINE-ASSISTED/COLLABORATIVE TRANSLATION FROM THE ITALIAN OF THE MOTU PROPRIO.
Here we go:
1. Is a validly baptized baby baptized into the Catholic Church or are they merely baptized as a Christian (whatever that means)? Is it better to say that they are baptized into Christ, but not necessarily the Church (although I do not see how that is possible)
All people who are baptized are placed in communion with Christ and his Church. This communion will be complete is nothing obstructs it. If something does obstruct it then the communion will be real but incomplete.
If someone baptizes a person intending that person to be Catholic then there is nothing obstructing on these grounds and the person's communion with the Church is full, the person counts juridically as a Catholic and is subject to canon law.
If someone baptizes a person intending that the person will not be Catholic then there is something obstructing the person's communion with the Church and so it is partial and the person is not juridically a Catholic and is not bound by canon law.
If someone baptizes a person and is unclear about whether the person is to be Catholic or not then the situation is legally unclear and we'd need further guidance from the Church on how to handle such cases juridically.
2. If they are baptized Catholic, is the relationship merely material or formal? If the relationship is merely material (whatever that means in this case, borrowing from a poster, above), when do they become a formal Catholic? At no time, unlike those entering the Church from a Protestant denomination, are cradle Catholics required to take an oath of allegiance.
The Church does not use the categories "formal" and "material" in this context, so far as I know, and I'm not sure what they would mean here.
A person becomes a Catholic by baptism at the moment they are baptized with the intention that they be Catholic. No further act is needed to make them Catholic, though their communion with the Church will grow through the other sacraments of initiation and their assimilation of the teachings of the faith.
If the relationship is formal, then since no formal defection is now possible, such baptized babies, if raised as a Protestant or worse, are really being spiritually abused since their natural heritage is being damaged.
I don't know that the Church would use the language of abuse, but there is a contradiction between what the child objectively, ontologically, and juridically is and the way it is being raised.
3. Since formal defection is not possible, once a Catholic, always a Catholic, so the old argument that Canon Law does not bind people outside of the Church is harder to apply to those cases where the baptism is in the Catholic Church and the person leaves for a Protestant denomination.
Correct, although it was only in the three marriage canons that there ever was an exception for formal defection. All other laws were still binding on a person who had been baptized or received into the Church. There was no automatic dispensation, e.g., from needing to observe holy days of obligation or days of fast and abstinence. Now it's (going to be) consistent across the board, marriage laws included.
They are no longer to be considered outside of the Church, since there is no process by which this may happen, except by excommunication.
Correct, except that excommunication does not place one outside the Church. Despite its name, excommunication's effects do not include making one not-a-Catholic (cf. CIC, can. 1331).
As such, unless there are exceptions provided for in the Canons (the in extremis exceptions of Can. 1116 have already been mentioned), such people must seek to be married in front of a priest or else their marriage will be invalid.
4. I thought, however, that the marriage of any two baptized people was sacramental.
Yes. Any valid marriage between two baptized people is sacramental.
By law, the marriage can be blocked (rendered invalid) by a defect in form.
However, simply exchanging vows without a priest (two witnesses are required), in extremis, must be the minimal form necessary for a valid marriage.
Under current canon law, yes. Before Trent, that wasn't the case. Witnesses were not needed for validity. Nor was a priest. This caused lots of problems, which is why form was established in the first place.
This implies that there must be something in addition to the minimum form required for a normal form Catholic marriage, just as in the case of baptism, where, ordinarily, it is to be done in a Church by a priest.
"Minimum form" is not the right way to phrase it, but essentially, yes. The conditions that are required for form are spelled out in canons 1108-1116.
5. Since baptism performed in a Protestant assembly, where considered valid by the Church, is not administered by a priest but a laymen, these baptism are considered not normal, but of an emergency variety.
I don't know that this is the best way to put it. Such baptism are valid. Applying additional categories like ordinary/extraordinary/normal/emergency/etc. may not add much, conceptually, outside of a Catholic context.
Are weddings performed in a Protestant assembly also to be considered of an emergency or in extremis variety?
Ditto. They're valid. And there is even less basis for calling them extraordinary or emergency or anything like that since if you are not bound by canon law there is no requirement whatsoever to observe the Catholic form of marriage.
6. In any case, do Catholics incur any responsibility to inform other Christians of the requirements of the Church, since they cannot defect from it (probably not, under the usual rules for fraternal correction, I assume).
If someone has never been baptized into the Catholic Church or received into it then the person is not bound by canon law (CIC, can. 11) and there is no need for Catholic to inform them of the requirements of canon law because they don't apply to them . . . . unless the non-Catholic is doing something like trying to marry a Catholic outside the Church without a dispensation from form, in which case a Catholic is involved and the Catholic party is subject to canon law.
7. How can there be a dispensation from cult if a Protestant cannot defect from the Church?
Protestants do not need a dispensation for disparity of cult (e.g., to marry a Jew or a Muslim or whatever) because they are not subject to canon law and thus the impediment arising from disparity of cult does not apply to them.
These questions were all easier to answer when I thought the statement, "Those outside of the Church are not bound by her laws." Now, I am not sure who is outside and who is inside the Church. This is the fundamental question on which all of the other questions are based.
Divine and natural law binds everyone. Divine positive law (e.g., don't get baptized again if you've already been baptized) applies to all the baptized. Latin rite merely ecclesiastical law binds those who are members of the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, per canon 11:
Merely ecclesiastical laws bind those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, possess the efficient use of reason, and, unless the law expressly provides otherwise, have completed seven years of age.
Hope this helps!
Sunday night ping!
So summarize this for me NYer..I am getting too old for this junk,,
Because I was baptized as a Catholic and raised as a Catholic, even though I now reject central doctrines and teachings and choose membership in another denomination am I still officially a Catholic?
**Whatever was meant, though, and whatever nuances have been introduced theologically about kinds or degrees of ecclesial communion, going forward everybody who has ever been Catholic will be juridically Catholic, attempts at formal defection or no. **
Glad to see this spelled out.
**am I still officially a Catholic?**
**If someone has never been baptized into the Catholic Church or received into it then the person is not bound by canon law (CIC, can. 11) and there is no need for Catholic to inform them of the requirements of canon law because they don’t apply to them . . . . unless the non-Catholic is doing something like trying to marry a Catholic outside the Church without a dispensation from form, in which case a Catholic is involved and the Catholic party is subject to canon law.**
Another good clarification.
Oh boy! So, if you are "lucky," you are baptized Protestant or Orthodox and then you are off the hook? But I think there is a catch. Is it not true that the Catholic Church considers any validly baptized Christian Catholic, which means most mainline Protestants and all Orthodox are "incomplete" but legitimate "Catholics"?
I mean the idea that one is ontologically changed into a "Catholic" by Baptism is historically and theologically ridiculous. You are not "saved" by baptism; you are cleansed so that you may enter the Church. And if you are an infant your godparents vouch that you will be raised in faith.
You have to be baptized AND believe in order to be a Christian. This article almost makes it sound as if there is some kind of "transubstantiation" that takes place when you get baptized, being hijacked by the Holy Spirit! This is preposterous! You think the Holy Spirit would accept you knowing that you will reject him? If so, please explain.
Love does not force, or else it's not love. This motu proprio sounds more like force than love.
It is fine now. All of us now attend another denomination and feel very comfortable in our faith.
To respond, one needs to look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which spells out the church's teaching on this sacrament.
1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.61 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.62 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.83 Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.
1274 The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord ("Dominicus character") "for the day of redemption."86 "Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life."87 The faithful Christian who has "kept the seal" until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life "marked with the sign of faith,"88 with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God - the consummation of faith - and in the hope of resurrection.
Excellent comment. The whole thing smacks of
being able to yell, “ safe” when playing a
game as a child, or crossing your fingers when
you tell a lie as though that means anything.
Preposterous idea : faking out God !
Excellent post !!
It’s insane. What a convoluted mess they’ve gotten themselves into - it’s more twisted and confused than the tax code and the more they try to fix it the worse it gets. And no two priests will interpret t the same way.
I was baptized and raised Catholic but I renounce it, but I have some in this forum angrily insisting I’m still Catholic. So, I’m subject to canon law, but I can’t post in Catholic Causus threads? How’s that again?
My husband will be interested to know that our marriage is “invalid”, LOL!
From the way it is worded, it might as well be called branding. I am still confused. This is not what the article said. The article asserts that being baptized makes everyone ontologically "Catholic!" Which means we are all "Catholics" except that some are naughty and others are nice. :)
Also, I am not sure how is an infant "conformed to Christ?" What does that really mean?.
It means absolutely nothing. It's somewhere between wishful thinking and casting spells.
Recently, a well known rabbi drew the pope's attention to just such a notion. He suggested that he do everything possible to prevent Catholics from this same fate that has befallen the Jews. Being a Catholic is not part of one's heritage; it is one's faith. The Catholic Church allows for infant baptism which was the norm for centuries. Peter explained what happens at baptism when he said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). But he did not restrict this teaching to adults. He added, "For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him" (2:39). We also read: "Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16). These commands are universal, not restricted to adults. Further, these commands make clear the necessary connection between baptism and salvation, a connection explicitly stated in 1 Peter 3:21: "Baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
For me, that meant 12 years of Catholic education.
Ditto. By the time I graduated from Catholic High School, I expected that I knew my faith, until I accepted my first full time position at an international airline where my boss was a Mormon convert. He would occasionally bring up the topic of religion (he is a bishop) and I was shocked at how ignorant I truly was of my Catholic faith. Learning about the faith does not end with school or religious ed classes. It continues throughout one's life. One must make a conscious effort, though. How familiar are you with the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Have you read all of the books in the Bible? Do you set aside time for daily prayer?
You are not alone! The majority of Catholics, like you, fall into the category of 'cultural' Catholics who were baptized into the faith, attended Church on most Sundays, occasionally went to Confession but lived in a secular world. The priest who counseled you was obviously one of the rare 'orthodox' priests who was willing to remind your son of his obligation to be a practicing Catholic, rather than a cultural one. Instead of addressing this with the priest and your son, you walked away from the Church and sought out a christian denomination more tolerable to your views. There are tens of thousands of churches that claim to be "christian". As a 'cultural' christian, one can shop around and find just about any denomination that agrees with one's own views, all claiming to have the proper interpretation of Scripture. Can there be more than one interpretation of the Bible? No. The word "truth" is used several times in the New Testament. However, the plural version of the word "truth" never appears in Scripture. Therefore, there can only be one Truth. So how can there be over 20,000 non-Catholic Christian denominations all claiming to have the "Truth"?
You were baptized into the Catholic Church. Perhaps it is now time to rediscover your faith.
ROTFL! We're back to 20,000, are we? Up and down, up and down we go! Wheeee!
12/21/09, NYer: "tens of thousands of churches that claim to be "christian"....over 20,000 non-Catholic Christian denominations"
12/09/09, NYer: "...we have tens of thousands of churches that claim to be christian"
12/07/09, NYer: "The current number of churches proclaiming to be christian is beyond measurement. Some put the number at 30,000, others at 40,000"
12/03/09, NYer: "40,000+ non-Catholic denominations"
11/25/2009, NYer: "I was going to post that number but chose to go more conservative. You tell me ... how many non-Catholic Churches are there in the world? 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 ... who can keep track?"
10/28/09, NYer: "30,000+ churches that call themselves christian but disagree with each other"
But are you still denying that there are 242 or more Catholic denominations that all claim to be Catholic and yet disagree with each other?
Let's grant that Catholic apologist-types beat the 33,000 denominations drum too much and don't really pay attention to the commonalities that exist in much of Protestant theology. Let us also grant that Catholic apologist types often don't pay attention, in such polemics, to the divisions in our own house.Unsound Sticks, or, Arguments Catholics Shouldn't Use
1. Do not allege that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations. This tally comes from the 2001 World Christian Encyclopedia, and it includes all denominations and paradenominations which self-identify as Christian, including Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Old Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Gnostics, Bogomils, etc. And even so, the number is too high. The World Christian Encyclopedia artificially inflates the number of Catholic "denominations" by counting Eastern Churches in communion with Rome as separate denominations. It likewise inflates the number of Eastern Orthodox "denominations" by counting Churches in communion with each other as distinct....30,000 Protestant Denominations?
....even if we could arrive at an accurate tally for Protestant denominations (20,000?), we still could not blame the whole of that number on Sola Scriptura. Some of these churches share substantial unity in faith, even if they are juridically independent (perhaps due to geography). And much of the disunity of faith within Protestantism, at least in the developed world, stems from efforts to subordinate the authority of Scripture (e.g., to various sexual perversions). In reality, if every Protestant denomination were serious and consistent in affirming and applying the rule of Sola Scriptura, the spectrum of Protestant belief would be significantly narrower. It bears emphasizing: the only thing for which we can directly blame Sola Scriptura is the extent to which it fails to provide unity in true faith and morals to those who sincerely adhere to it, e.g., "orthodox" Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Campbellites, etc.
When this figure first surfaced among Roman Catholic apologists, it started at 20,000 Protestant denominations, grew to 23,000 Protestant denominations, then to 25,000 Protestant denominations. More recently, that figure has been inflated to 28,000, to over 32,000. These days, many Roman Catholic apologists feel content simply to calculate a daily rate of growth (based on their previous adherence to the original benchmark figure of 20,000) that they can then use as a basis for projecting just how many Protestant denominations there were, or will be, in any given year....The Facts and Stats on "33,000 Denominations"
....If the Roman Catholic apologist wants instead to cite 8,196 idiosyncrasies within Protestantism, then he must be willing to compare that figure to at least 2,942 (perhaps upwards of 8,000 these days) idiosyncrasies within Roman Catholicism. In any case, he cannot compare the one ecclesial tradition of Roman Catholicism to 25,000, 8,196, or even twenty-one Protestant denominations; for Barrett places Roman Catholicism (as a single ecclesial tradition) on the same level as Protestantism (as a single ecclesial tradition)....
....In short, Roman Catholic apologists have hurriedly, carelesslyand, as a result, irresponsiblyglanced at Barretts work, found a large number (22,189), and arrived at all sorts of absurdities that Barrett never concluded. One can only hope that, upon reading this critique, Roman Catholic apologists will finally put this argument to bed. The more likely scenario, however, is that the death of this argument will come about only when Evangelicals consistently point out this errorand correct iteach time it is raised by a Roman Catholic apologist. Sooner or later they will grow weary of the embarrassment that accompanies citing erroneous figures in a public forum.
"Now that I understand the methodology used to arrive at the 30,000 number, I won't use it any more..." - markomalley, in post #1
Where the numbers came from:
It is a dishonest argument. Pity it still gets drug up by folks who know better...
But then you post things that prove your interpretation is the wrong one...
Peter explained what happens at baptism when he said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"
You can't use both verses together and make it mean what you want to make it mean...
But he did not restrict this teaching to adults. He added, "For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him"
Does God call babies to Him so they can repent??? Nope, not a chance...The children in the verse has to refer to children as they get old enough to first, recognize sin, and then repent, or God is already speaking of the children who are old enough to repent...
Your religion has distorted these verses to mean what it can't possibly mean...
All this legalism mumbo jumbo you guys have come up with is the work of the Pharisees....You can read all about them...None of it fits in with the Christianity of the scriptures...
We should start a betting pool to see what number we'll be treated to next!
Sounds eerily like Mormons and Baptism of the dead.