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What Does the Church teach about Clerical Immorality?

Posted by The Editor on September 22, 2015 at 2:40 PM

1917 Code of Canon Law:

Can 2359

§1. Clerics in holy orders, whether they be secular or religious, who are living in concubinage, when a prior warning has proved useless, are to be compelled to withdraw from the illicit companionship and to repair the scandal by suspension (suspensio a divinis), by being deprived of the fruits of office, benefits, dignity, with due regard to the provisions of Canons 2176-2181.

§ 2. If an offense against the sixth commandment with minors under sixteen years of age be admitted, or if adultery, rape, bestiality, sodomy, pimping or incest with first degree relations be carried out, they are to be suspended, declared infamous and deprived of every office, benefit, dignity and function that they might have and in the more serious cases, deposed.

§ 3. If they have committed an offense against the sixth commandment in some other way, they are to be coerced with appropriate penalties according to the gravity of the case, not excluding deprivation of office or benefit, especially if they have care of souls.


(§1. Clerici in sacris sive saeculares sive religiosi concubinarii, monitione inutiliter praemissa, cogantur ab illicito contubernio recedere et scandalum reparare suspensione a divinis, privatione fructuum officii, beneficii, dignitatis, servato praescripto can. 2176-2181.

§2. Si delictum admiserint contra sextum decalogi praeceptum cum minoribus infra aetatem sexdecim annorum, vel adulterium, stuprum, bestialitatem, sodomiam, lenocinium, incestum cum consanguineis aut affinibus in primo gradu exercuerint, suspendantur, infames declarentur, quolibet officio, beneficio, dignitate, munere, si quod habeant, priventur, et in casibus gravioribus deponantur.

§3. Si aliter contra sextum decalogi praeceptum deliquerint, congruis poenis secundum casus gravitatem coerceantur, non excepta officii vel beneficii privatione, maxime si curam animarum gerant.)

 



Fourth Lateran Council:

"

14. Clerical incontinence

In order that the morals and conduct of clerics may be reformed for the better, let all of them strive to live in a continent and chaste way, especially those in holy orders. Let them beware of every vice involving lust, especially that on account of which the wrath of God came down from heaven upon the sons of disobedience, so that they may be worthy to minister in the sight of almighty God with a pure heart and an unsullied body. Lest the ease of receiving pardon prove an incentive to sin, we decree that those who are caught giving way to the vice of incontinence are to be punished according to canonical sanctions, in proportion to the seriousness of their sins. We order such sanctions to be effectively and strictly observed, in order that those whom the fear of God does not hold back from evil may at least be restrained from sin by temporal punishment. Therefore anyone who has been suspended for this reason and presumes to celebrate divine services, shall not only be deprived of his ecclesiastical benefices but shall also, on account of his twofold fault, be deposed in perpetuity. Prelates who dare to support such persons in their wickedness, especially if they do it for money or for some other temporal advantage, are to be subject to like punishment. Those clerics who have not renounced the marriage bond, following the custom of their region, shall be punished even more severely if they fall into sin, since for them it is possible to make lawful use of matrimony."


 

St. Thomas Aquinas:

"Heretical, schismatical, excommunicate, or even sinful priests, although they have the power to consecrate the Eucharist, yet they do not make a proper use of it; on the contrary, they sin by using it. But whoever communicates with another who is in sin, becomes a sharer in his sin. Hence we read in John's Second Canonical Epistle (11) that "He that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works." Consequently, it is not lawful to receive Communion from them, or to assist at their mass.

Still there is a difference among the above, because heretics, schismatics, and excommunicates, have been forbidden, by the Church's sentence, to perform the Eucharistic rite. And therefore whoever hears their mass or receives the sacraments from them, commits sin. But not all who are sinners are debarred by the Church's sentence from using this power: and so, although suspended by the Divine sentence, yet they are not suspended in regard to others by any ecclesiastical sentence: consequently, until the Church's sentence is pronounced, it is lawful to receive Communion at their hands, and to hear their mass. Hence on 1 Corinthians 5:11, "with such a one not so much as to eat," Augustine's gloss runs thus: "In saying this he was unwilling for a man to be judged by his fellow man on arbitrary suspicion, or even by usurped extraordinary judgment, but rather by God's law, according to the Church's ordering, whether he confess of his own accord, or whether he be accused and convicted."

[…]

By refusing to hear the masses of such priests, or to receive Communion from them, we are not shunning God's sacraments; on the contrary, by so doing we are giving them honor (hence a host consecrated by such priests is to be adored, and if it be reserved, it can be consumed by a lawful priest): but what we shun is the sin of the unworthy ministers."

      - Summa Theologica, Third Part, Q.82, Article 9 ("Whether it is permissible to receive communion from heretical, excommunicate or sinful priests, and to hear Mass said by them?")  Respondeo et seq.

 


St. Peter Damian:

 

“… I would surely prefer to be thrown into the well like Joseph who informed his father of his brothers’ foul crime, than to suffer the penalty of God’s fury, like Eli, who saw the wickedness of his sons and remained silent. (Sam 2:4) … Who am I, when I see this pestilential practice flourishing in the priesthood to become the murderer of another’s soul by daring to repress my criticism in expectation of the reckoning of God’s judgement? … How, indeed, am I to love my neighbour as myself if I negligently allow the wound, of which I am sure he will brutally die, to fester in his heart? … “So let no man condemn me as I argue against this deadly vice, for I seek not to dishonour, but rather to promote the advantage of my brother’s well-being. “Take care not to appear partial to the delinquent while you persecute him who sets him straight. If I may be pardoned in using Moses’ words, ‘Whoever is for the Lord, let him stand with me.’ (Ezek 32:26)

    - Letter 31, ‘Liber Gomorrhianus’

 



Even the modern concilliar Church has the following to say:



1983 Code of Canon Law:

"Canon 1395 §2. A cleric who in another way has committed an offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the delict was committed by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants."

 



 

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