From a reader…
I recently read your post regarding the recently-announced changes to the validity of marriages witnessed by SSPX priests, and I am confused. How does this change anything? Doesn’t Canon 1108 already give bishops and pastors the power to delegate ANY priest or deacon to assist at a marriage in order for that marriage to have proper form?
If this is the case, a bishop or priest only has to delegate an SSPX priest to witness a particular marriage for that marriage to have proper form according to canon 1108, correct?
GUEST PRIEST CANONIST RESPONSE:
Canon 1108 gives the Ordinary or the pastor the authority to delegate a priest or deacon to officiate at a wedding within the scope of their jurisdiction, however, that priest or deacon thus delegated must be capable of doing so.
Priests of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X have been ordained illicitly (without dimissorial letters from an Ordinary capable of issuing them). They are therefore ipso facto suspended from exercising that order (canon 1383). Pope Benedict reaffirmed, when he lifted the excommunications of the bishops of the SSPX, that “the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church.”
Hence, in order to permit the priests of the Society licitly to officiate at weddings, the recent action of His Holiness, Pope Francis, was necessary. It was a helpful step towards the (God-willing) full reincorporation of the Society and its many good works into full and unimpaired communion with the rest of the Church.
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