Congregation for the Clergy, Dispensation from the obligations of ordination, 4 June 2012, Private.

A Diocesan Bishop requested from the Holy Father a dispensation from the obligations of Holy Orders for a priest who had left the active ministry and who was seriously ill and in danger of death. The Congregation for the Clergy granted the requested favor in virtue of the special faculty granted by Pope Benedict XVI in August 2005. The rescript of the Congregation follows.


Prot. N. ______

Most Holy Father

______, priest of the diocese of ______, having left active ministry, and seriously ill and in mortal danger, humbly requests from Your Holiness the dispensation from obligations from Holy Orders (and flowing from religious vows) in order to be reconciled with the God and the Church, so that he can seek his heavenly homeland.


on the 4th day of June 2012

in virtue of the special faculty granted by the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI (Secr. St. N. 907, August 10, 2005), and by his special mandate, in consideration of the gravity of the case and circumstances presented in his request and the opinion of his Ordinary, kindly grants the requested favor as follows:

1. The rescript takes effect immediately when it is made known to him.

2. The competent Ordinary is to make known the rescript of the dispensation as quickly as possible. It includes inseparably the dispensation from priestly celibacy as well as the loss of the clerical state. It is never lawful for the petitioner to separate these two elements, i.e., to accept the first and to refuse the second. If the petitioner is a religious, the rescript also concedes a dispensation from vows. In addition, it also includes absolution from censures, if such is needed.

3. Notice of the grant of dispensation should be recorded in the baptismal register of the petitioner’s parish of baptism.

4. With regard to the canonical celebration of marriage, the norms laid down in the Code of Canon Law are to be applied. But the Ordinary should see to it that such arrangements are carried out with caution and without pomp or outward display.

5. If the petitioner ceases to be in immanent danger of death, the ecclesiastical authority, whose task it is to notify the petitioner, will exhort him to participate in the life of the People of God in accord with his new condition of life, and give edification and conduct himself as an upright son of the Church. At the same time the Ordinary will make the following known to him:

a) The dispensed priest automatically loses all the rights proper to the clerical state, dignities and offices; he is no longer obliged by the other obligations connected with the clerical state.

b) He is excluded from the exercise of sacred ministry, except those in canons 976 and 986 §21 and for that reason he is not permitted to give a homily, nor can he exercise a position of pastoral authority or parish administration.

c) Likewise he cannot exercise any office in seminaries or equivalent institutions. In other institutions of higher studies in any way depending on ecclesiastical authority, he cannot have a position of authority.

d) In institutes of higher studies not depending on ecclesiastical authority, he cannot teach properly theological disciplines or those closely connected.

e) In institutions of lower studies depending on ecclesiastical authority, he cannot hold a position of authority or the office of teaching a properly theological discipline. A dispensed priest is obliged by the same law concerning teaching religion in institutes of this type which do not depend on ecclesiastical authority;

f) Per se, a priest dispensed from priestly celibacy and a fortiori joined in marriage ought to absent himself from the place in which his former condition is known; nor is he able to perform anywhere the function of lector or acolyte or distribute Eucharistic communion.

6. The Ordinary of the domicile or the place where the petitioner is staying, according to his prudent and conscientious judgment, having heard any interested parties and reflecting carefully on the circumstances, can dispense from any and all clauses of the rescript under letters e and f.

7. As a rule, these dispensations should be given only after a period of time from the notification of the loss of the clerical state has been granted, and they be given in writing.

8. Lastly, some work of piety or charity should be imposed on the petitioner.

9. At an opportune time, the competent Ordinary should report to this Congregation briefly about the notification having been accomplished, and, if there might be any wonderment on the part of the faithful, a prudent explanation should be provided.

All other contrary provisions notwithstanding.

From the office of the Congregation, on the 4th day of June 2012.


Mauro Card. Picenza



+Celso Morga Iruzubieta

Archbishop Secretary

1 Can. 976. Even though a priest lacks the faculty to hear confessions, he absolves validly and licitly any penitents whatsoever in danger of death from any censures and sins, even if an approved priest is present. Can. 986 §2. In urgent necessity, any confessor is obliged to hear the confessions of the Christian faithful, and in danger of death, any priest is so obliged.

Congregation for the Clergy, Dispensation from the obligations of ordination, 4 June 2012, Private, CLSA, Roman Replies and Advisory Opinions, 2012, 15-17.