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Canon 844 is a Catholic Church canon law contained within the 1983 Code of Canon Law (1983 CIC), which defines the licit administration and reception of certain sacraments of the Catholic Church in normative and in particular exceptional circumstances, known in canonical theory as communicatio in sacris.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law, also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". It is the second and current comprehensive codification of canonical legislation for the Latin Church sui iuris of the Catholic Church. It was promulgated on 25 January 1983 by John Paul II and took legal effect on the First Sunday of Advent 1983. It replaced the 1917 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Benedict XV on 27 May 1917.
There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three categories: the sacraments of initiation, consisting of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of Penance and Anointing of the Sick; and the sacraments of service: Holy Orders and Matrimony.
Thomas Condon wrote, in The Sanctifying Function of the Diocesan Bishop Especially in Relationship with Pastors, that this canon "empowers the bishop to regulate sacramental sharing for Catholics who might need to approach a non-Catholic minister; ... the canon enjoins the bishop to prevent a spirit of indifferentism from emerging because of sacramental sharing." p248) Condon wrote that Frederick R. McManus "noted that 'the intent of the canon is clear, namely to define the outer limits of permissible sharing of sacraments, aside from any question of validity or invalidity'." (p251) The Second Vatican Council's decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (UR), states that "worship in common (communicatio in sacris) is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of Christian unity." (n.8) In that context, John Beal's et al. New commentary on the Code of Canon Law notes that this canon does not address the specific question of "the seriousness of the need" on occasions of worship in common such as a marriage or funeral or similar ecumenical activities.(
Indifferentism, in the Roman Catholic faith, is the belief held by some that no one religion or philosophy is superior to another. The Catholic Church ascribes indifferentism to many atheistic, materialistic, pantheistic, and agnostic philosophies. There are three basic types of indifferentism described by Catholic apologetics: absolute, restricted, and liberal or latitudinarian indifferentism. Indifferentism was first explicitly identified and opposed by Pope Gregory XVI, in his encyclical Mirari vos.
Frederick Richard McManus was an American Roman Catholic priest and academic, who served as a peritus on the liturgy at the Second Vatican Council. He presided at the first English Mass in the United States in 1964 in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a leader in the church in opening up dialogue with the Orthodox Church. He served as dean of The Catholic University of America's School of Canon Law. He published eleven books on the liturgy as well as hundreds of popular articles, spending 40 years as editor of The Jurist: Studies in Church Law and Ministry.
The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965.
The structure of Canon 844, described in Ernest Caparros' et al. Code of Canon Law Annotated, is that the "general principle is established" first, then this canon "considers three situations of facts" which are exceptions, and finally this canon "regulates the lawful exercise of the normative activity in a particular area."
In Ecclesia de Eucharistia (EE), Pope John Paul II asked the Roman Curia "to prepare a more specific document, including prescriptions of a juridical nature," –4, and Canon 861 §2. Furthermore, "the conditions comprising" Canon 844 §4, "from which no dispensation can be given, cannot be separated; thus, it is necessary that all of these conditions be present together."which Daniel Merz wrote, in The Liturgy Documents, were "in light of liturgical abuses in violation of liturgical norms." Within several months, in 2004, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CCDDS) gave those instructions in Redemptionis Sacramentum (RS). Merz made clear that RS "should be understood as binding norms for interpreting and carrying out the liturgical laws" and "is intended to be read as a companion to" EE. The instruction, in RS pertaining to this canon, is that "Catholic ministers licitly administer the Sacraments only to the Catholic faithful, who likewise receive them licitly only from Catholic ministers, except for those situations for which provision is made in" Canon 844 §§2
Ecclesia de Eucharistia is an encyclical by Pope John Paul II published on April 17, 2003. Its title, as is customary, is taken from the opening words of the Latin version of the text, which is rendered in the English translation as "The Church draws her life from the Eucharist", with the first words of the Latin translating as "The Church from the Eucharist". He discusses the centrality of the Eucharist to the definition and mission of the Church and says he hopes his message will "effectively help to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice, so that the Eucharist will continue to shine forth in all its radiant mystery." He explored themes familiar from his earlier writings, including the profound connection between the Eucharist and the priesthood. It drew as well on his personal experiences saying Mass.
The Roman Curia comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See and the central body through which the affairs of the Catholic Church are conducted. It acts in the Pope's name and with his authority for the good and for the service of the particular churches and provides the central organization for the church to advance its objectives.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is the congregation of the Roman Curia that handles most affairs relating to liturgical practices of the Latin Church as distinct from the Eastern Catholic Churches and also some technical matters relating to the Sacraments. Its functions were originally exercised by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, set up in January 1588 by Pope Sixtus V.
The principle found in section one of Canon 844 is that "Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone." can.844§1) "Paragraph one governs the licit, rather than the valid administration of sacraments to Catholics," according to Condon. (p251) This principle covers all sacraments of the Catholic Church. "The general principle is clear" as Caparros et al. describes that "Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments to Catholic faithful, who in their turn may only receive them lawfully from Catholic ministers."(
The first exception is cited in section one. Baptism, according to the 1983 CIC, "is necessary for salvation" and is "the gateway to the sacraments"; through it, the recipient is "configured to Christ" by a sacramental character and "incorporated into the Church". (can.849) (n123) The first exception to Canon 844 is that if "an ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or another person designated for this function by the local ordinary, or in a case of necessity any person with the right intention, confers baptism licitly." (can.844§1, can.861§2) So, for the §1 exception all of these conditions must be present together for licitness:
Baptism is a Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be performed by sprinkling or pouring water on the head, or by immersing in water either partially or completely. The synoptic gospels recount that John the Baptist baptised Jesus. Baptism is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. Baptism is also called christening, although some reserve the word "christening" for the baptism of infants. It has also given its name to the Baptist churches and denominations.
According to Roman Catholic Church teaching, a sacramental character is an indelible spiritual mark imprinted by three of the seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.
The second exception is found in section two. "Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid." can.844§2) Peter Vere pointed out "that the word 'Church' in" Canon 844 §2 is capitalized. "The canon does not say that Catholics may receive the aforementioned sacraments from 'non-Catholic ministers in whose churches these sacraments are valid.' In interpreting this canon," Vere wrote, "it is important" to pay attention to the "legal norms" within the 1983 CIC. Vere considered Canon 16 §1 and Canon 17: Canon 16 §1 "means that the canons contained within the" 1983 CIC "are legitimately interpreted by" the legislator, i.e. Pope John Paul II "and his successors", and "those whom he has delegated to interpret the" 1983 CIC. (can.16§1) Canon 17 "means that the canons must be understood according to both the text and the context in which they find themselves. In cases of doubt, one should seek references elsewhere as to what was the purpose of the law, and the mind of the legislator in passing the law." (can.17) Applying the "legal norms" of Canon 16 §1 and Canon 17 to Canon 844 §2, "we see that the intention of the legislator, within the context of the canon, is to permit Catholics under certain circumstance to receive the sacraments from non-Catholic ministers of Churches in which the sacraments are valid. This is not a permission to receive the sacraments from non-Catholic ministers in whose churches the sacraments are valid. The difference being that the sacraments must be valid owing to the denominational Church to which the non-Catholic minister belongs, and not merely from the validity of the minister's ordination. For example, one could not receive the sacraments from a priest validly ordained within the Catholic Church who later defected from the Catholic Faith and now ministers within the Episcopalian ecclesial communion. Nor could one approach a validly-ordained non-Catholic minister who ministers the sacraments independently of the jurisdiction of a Church in which these sacraments are valid." So, Vere wrote, applying the "legal norms" of Canon 17, "we must look at parallel laws to see what the legislator means by the term 'Church' when granting permission under" Canon 844 §2 "to receive the sacraments from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches they are valid."(
"The most important document that clarifies the mind and intention of the legislator," wrote Vere, is the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity's (PCPCU) Directory for the application of principles and norms on ecumenism (1993 ED) which contains "parallel laws" that "clarify the intention of the legislator with regards to" this canon. So, for the §2 exception all of these conditions must be present together for licitness:
Vere considered 1993 ED Norm 123, Norm 130, Norm 131, and Norm 132. Vere identified the fact that, in conformity with Norm 123, "Catholics may enjoy the full benefit of" Canon 844 §2 "when approaching a minister of a non-Catholic Eastern Church in which the sacraments are valid, in order to receive the sacraments." On the other hand, explains Vere, Norm 123 "does not apply when approaching the minister of a non-Catholic Western Church in which the sacraments are valid. Rather, this situation is covered under" the "much stricter" Norm 132. Accordingly, "before a Catholic may legally approach a non-Catholic minister within a Western Church in which the sacraments are valid, he must meet the further requirements of certain circumstances defined in" the 1993 ED. (n130–132) Considering that Norm 132 "specifies Church in the universal sense, and not Church sui iuris ," Vere points out that, "this norm cannot be interpreted in the sense that the Catholic is unable to approach a Catholic priest of his own liturgical rite."
Vere wrote in 1999 that with respect to the canonical situation of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), "this prohibition has been confirmed" by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED), that Masses celebrated by the SSPX "are also valid, but it is considered morally illicit for the faithful to participate in these Masses unless they are physically or morally impeded from participating in a Mass celebrated by a Catholic priest in good standing." –17 and Norms 130–132, "one cannot invoke" Canon 844 §2 "in order to receive the sacraments from a Lefebvrite priest simply because a Tridentine Mass is lacking."Vere writes that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED), which, in some cases, "has been delegated the power of authentic interpretation of" Canon 844 §2, "does not consider the lack of opportunity to assist at a Tridentine Mass sufficient cause to receive the sacraments from a Lefebvrite cleric." For this reason, "in light of" Canons 16
"Furthermore," because the SSPX does not claim ecclesiastical jurisdiction, wrote Vere, "the Catholic Church is not certain at the present whether the SSPX constitutes a Church like the Eastern Orthodox or the Polish National Catholic Church, or whether the SSPX is simply a loose federation of acephalous (independent) priests and episcopal vagantes (wandering bishops) like the Old Catholic Movement in North America. Thus where to classify the SSPX schism at the moment represents an internal dilemma for the Church," ED "is not concerned with the" SSPX. "The situation of the members of" the SSPX "is an internal matter of the Catholic Church" and the SSPX "is not another Church or Ecclesial Community in the meaning used in the" 1993 ED. Analogously the Tribunal of the Roman Rota wrote about "dealing with a priest belonging in virtue of ordination to the" SSPX, "which lacked the necessary canonical legitimacy in the Church at the time of the celebration of the marriage," under the circumstances, accordingly "was like an acephalous or transient or 'freelance' priest, and consequently, did not seek from anyone the faculty [...]"According to the PCPCU the 1993
Because "the Holy See has prudently chosen not to classify the SSPX as a Church," Vere wrote, "one cannot invoke" Canon 844 §2 "or the conditions of" Norm 123 or Norms 130–132 "in order to receive the sacraments from SSPX ministers."
The third exception is found in section three. "Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches." can.844§3) So, for the §3 exception all of these conditions must be present together for licitness:(
The fourth exception is found in section four. "If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed." can.844§4) So, for the §4 exception all of these conditions must be present together for licitness:(
The regulation is found in section five. "For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community." can.844§5)1993 ED states that "it is strongly recommended that the diocesan Bishop, taking into account any norms which may have been established for this matter by the Episcopal Conference or by the Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches, establish general norms for judging situations of grave and pressing need and for verifying the conditions" (n.130) Beal et al. elaborated that in consideration of the ethic of reciprocity, "the underlying purpose" in §5 is "not to act unilaterally" but the language "is carefully constructed to leave the diocesan bishop" or conference of bishops "free to act in individual cases" or issue norms regardless of any consultation with another Church or Ecclesial Community. "The course to be adopted, with due regard to all the circumstances of time, place, and persons," UR states, "is to be decided by local episcopal authority, unless otherwise provided for by the Bishops' Conference according to its statutes, or by the Holy See." (n.8)(
Full communion is a communion or relationship of full understanding among different Christian denominations that share certain essential principles of Christian theology. Views vary among denominations on exactly what constitutes full communion, but typically when two or more denominations are in full communion it enables services and celebrations, such as the Eucharist, to be shared among congregants or clergy of any of them with the full approval of each.
The Society of Saint Pius X, also known as the SSPX, or the FSSPX, is an international priestly fraternity founded in 1970 by Marcel Lefebvre, the French archbishop of the titular see of Synnada in Phrygia.
Closed communion is the practice of restricting the serving of the elements of Holy Communion to those who are members in good standing of a particular church, denomination, sect, or congregation. Though the meaning of the term varies slightly in different Christian theological traditions, it generally means that a church or denomination limits participation either to members of their own church, members of their own denomination, or members of some specific class. See also intercommunion.
Open communion is the practice of some Protestant Churches of allowing members and non-members to receive the Eucharist. Many but not all churches that practice open communion require that the person receiving communion be a baptized Christian, and other requirements may apply as well. In Methodism, open communion is referred to as the open table.
The Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) is a Christian church based in the United States and founded by Polish-Americans. The PNCC is not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church; it seeks full communion with the Holy See, although it differs theologically in several important respects. A sister church in Poland, the Polish Catholic Church, is a member of the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht and is also not in communion with the Holy See; at the same time, the PNCC is neither in communion with the Union of Utrecht, but rather the Union of Scranton. The Polish National Catholic Church welcomes people of all ethnic, racial, and social backgrounds.
The Catholic Church first prohibited Catholics from membership in Masonic organizations and other secret societies in 1738. Since then, at least eleven popes have made pronouncements about the incompatibility of Catholic doctrines and Freemasonry. From 1738 until 1983, Catholics who publicly associated with, or publicly supported, Masonic organizations were censured with automatic excommunication. Since 1983, the prohibition on membership exists in a different form. Although there was some confusion about membership following the 1965 Second Vatican Council, the Church continues to prohibit membership in Freemasonry because it concluded that Masonic principles and rituals are irreconcilable with Catholic doctrines. The current norm, the 1983 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's (CDF) Declaration on Masonic associations, states that "faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion" and membership in Masonic associations is prohibited. The most recent CDF document about the "incompatibility of Freemasonry with the Catholic faith" was issued in 1985.
When and how any particular Christian participates in the Christian sacrament of Eucharist, regardless of intellectual disability or cognitive capacity, depends on the way the administering Christian community understands the sacrament. Because there is a plurality of Christian accounts of Eucharist, there is a plurality of practices and traditions concerning the norms for participation in that case of a Christian who has an intellectual disability. Some Christian traditions maintain that a theological understanding of the sacrament is necessary to receive Eucharist and, therefore, do not administer the sacrament to intellectually disabled persons. Other Christian traditions maintain that spiritual devotion to the real presence of Jesus Christ is necessary to receive the Eucharist and, therefore, administer the sacrament to intellectually disabled persons under particular conditions—presuming the benefit of the sacrament can be received even if the Eucharist is not consumed. Still other Christian traditions understand the practice of Eucharist principally as a communal expression of community solidarity or unity and, therefore, administer the sacrament indiscriminately during the liturgy.
Valid but illicit and valid but illegal are descriptions applied in Catholic Church to an unauthorized celebration of a sacrament or an improperly placed juridic act that nevertheless has effect. Validity is presumed whenever an act is placed "by a qualified person and includes those things which essentially constitute the act itself as well as the formalities and requirements imposed by law for the validity of the act".
The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.
In the canon law of the Catholic Church, an impediment is a legal obstacle that prevents a sacrament from being performed validly and/or licitly. The term is used most frequently in relationship to the sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders. Some canonical impediments can be dispensed by the competent authority as defined in Canon Law.
The priesthood is one of the three holy orders of the Catholic Church, comprising the ordained priests or presbyters. The other two orders are the bishops and the deacons. Only men are allowed to receive holy orders, and the church does not allow any transgender people to do so. Church doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised Catholics as the "common priesthood".
Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church that is administered to a Catholic "who, having reached the age of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age", except in the case of those who "persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin". Proximate danger of death, the occasion for the administration of Viaticum, is not required, but only the onset of a medical condition of serious illness or injury or simply old age: "It is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."
Catholic theology is the understanding of Catholic doctrine or teachings, and results from the studies of theologians. It is based on canonical scripture, and sacred tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. This article serves as an introduction to various topics in Catholic theology, with links to where fuller coverage is found.
Canon 915, one of the canons in the current Code of Canon Law of the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, forbids the administration of Holy Communion to those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared or who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin:
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
The canonical situation of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), a group founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, is unresolved.
In the canon law of the Catholic Church, excommunication, the principal and severest censure, is a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. Being a penalty, it presupposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Catholic Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offense.
In the Catholic Church the term minister enjoys a variety of usages. It most commonly refers to the person, whether lay or ordained, who is commissioned to perform some act on behalf of the Church. It is not a particular office or rank of clergy, as is the case in some other churches, but minister may be used as a collective term for vocational or professional pastoral leaders including clergy and non-clergy. It is also used in reference to the canonical and liturgical administration of sacraments, as part of some offices, and with reference to the exercise of the lay apostolate.
Only information that conforms to the 2004 changes found in RS can be considered current.
Only information that conforms to the 2004 changes found in RS can be considered current.