1150 K Tue 7 May 2002
I had a letter published in The Age newspaper today:
Archbishop can dismiss priests
I disagree with Archbishop Hart that only the pope can remove
someone from the priesthood (The Age, 4/5).
According to canon law, dismissal from the priesthood can
occur by the pope writing a rescript or as a penalty (canon 290).
The penalty of dismissal from the clerical state is specifically
listed as an option for a priest who has sex with a minor under
the age of 16 (canon 1395).
Archbishop Hart is the judge for the Tribunal of the Catholic
Church in Melbourne. He can exercise this personally or through
others (canon 1419).
John Raymond Lilburne, Park Orchards
My letter was edited, with my last three sentences being removed.
I also quoted the sentence I was disagreeing with: "Only
the Pope can remove someone from the priesthood." I did
not write the headline. But I am not concerned about these changes,
my message is conveyed more succinctly. I think its publication
will have a positive effect, particularly with the Australian
Catholic Bishops Conference meeting in Sydney this week.
I did some more research at the Mannix Library yesterday on
this issue. A letter by Cardinal Ratzinger was published in Latin
about procedures for dealing with grave offenses. The first seven
are the sacraments, the Eucharist and Penance. The eighth is
about about the sexual abuse of children.
... -- A delict against morals, namely: the delict
committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue
with a minor below the age of 18 years.
Only these delicts, which are indicated above with their definition,
are reserved to the apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith.
As often as an ordinary or hierarch has at least probable
knowledge of a reserved delict, after he has carried out the
preliminary investigation he is to indicate it to the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, which unless it calls the case
to itself because of special circumstances of things, after transmitting
appropriate norms, orders the ordinary or hierarch to proceed
ahead through his own tribunal. The right of appealing against
a sentence of the first instance, whether on the part of the
party or the party's legal representative, or on the part of
the promoter of justice, solely remains valid only to the supreme
tribunal of this congregation. ...
[This is from an unofficial English translation, published
in Origins, 24 January 2002, Volume 31, No. 32, pages 528-529.
The full Latin text of the letter is here
at www.vatican.va ]
It does not change the points I made in the letter. Archbishop
Hart can give the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.
An appeal can be made. The Pope is able to reserve cases to himself
(Canon 1405) and has made it an option for them to go to Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith in these cases.
2000 K Tue 7 May 2002
Perhaps Archbishop Hart's point was that the Pope was the
only individual who can dismiss a priest for the clerical
state. If Archbishop Hart did this he would be part of a collegiate
tribunal of at least three judges. If this was his point it is
correct, according to Canon 1425.1:
Every contrary custom being reprobated, the following cases
are reserved to a collegiate tribunal of three judges:
... 2 penal cases: a) concerning offenses which can entail
the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state ...
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 7 May 2002.