CDW, Dispensation from the Obligation of Celibacy, April 1992. Private.


A letter was received from a Father Titus in the Diocese of Great Plains. In this letter, he remarked that, having served as the Archbishop’s delegate for laicization cases for almost a decade, his role was shifting. Formerly, he had been asked simply to gather data. Now, he was being asked to give a votum about the merits of the case. His observation is based on the following letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:




We have received that acts for the case of dispensation from priestly obligations of Rev. Augustine St. Jerome of your Archdiocese.

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After a preliminary examination of the acts, we find it necessary to obtain additional documents and ask that you kindly send us three of copies of the following:

a) the certificate of the attempted civil marriage;

b) the personal vote of the instructor about the merit of the case.

Documents Necessary for the Instruction of a Case for Dispensation from the Obligations of Priestly Ordination:

1. The letter of the priest addressed to the Holy Father in a spirit of penitence and humility, summarizing the principal reasons that have led him to leave the priesthood and any others for which he considers it impossible to return to the sacred ministry; the request should be personally signed by the priest making the petition and submitted to the Ordinary together with a Curriculum Vitae.

2. A Curriculum Vitae of the Petitioner that serves as the libellus whereby the case is introduced and in which is contained a detailed description of the reasons for the defection, and, if pertinent, why the situation is irreversible. Also included should be significant dates, i.e., of birth, progress in the steps of formation and ordination, and the years and places where ministry was carried out.

3. A statement of every pastoral attempt made by the Ordinary of the Diocese or Religious Superiors to dissuade the Petitioner from making the request, along with all the measures taken to assist him in overcoming the crisis and taking up the ministry again.

4. A document that demonstrates that the Petitioner has been suspended from the exercise of the sacred ministry, once the Ordinary has reviewed the Curriculum and decided to accept the formal request of the Petitioner for a dispensation, thereby avoiding all possible scandal and protecting his reputation.

5. A Decree nominating the Instructor of the case and an ecclesiastical Notary, including the explicit statement of the obligation to proceed according to the “Substantial and Procedural Norms” promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, (AAS 72 [1980]: 1132-1137).

6. The Interrogation of the Petitioner under oath, by the Instructor in the presence of the Notary, with prepared and pertinent questions concerning, above all, the time of formation prior to Ordination, with a deeper inquiry into the reasons given by the

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Petitioner in the Curriculum for the crisis, the defection, and the irreversibility of his choice.

7. The interrogations or depositions of witnesses, either those indicated by the Petitioner or chosen by the instructor: i.e., parents and relatives of the Petitioner; Superiors and companions from the time of formation, present Superiors and priest confreres.

8. Any testimony that might be obtained from physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists who were visited during the time of formation or later.

9. A copy of the Scrutinia(i.e., all documents specified in c. 1051) of those responsible for his admission to Holy Orders as well as other documents from the archives of the house of formation.

10. The personal vote of the Instructor about the merit of the case as a whole, explaining whether it is recommended or it is deemed unadvisable that a dispensation be granted and why this is the case. To be taken into consideration are: not only the reasons set forth in the Instruction, as well as the personal well being of the Petitioner, but also the universal good of the Church, of the Diocese or Religious Institute as a whole, and of the souls formerly entrusted to the ministry of the Petitioner.

11. The personal vote of the Bishop or the Religious Superior who arranged that the case be instructed to be formulated upon the merit of the case as presented in the Acts prepared by the Instructor, stating whether or not it is deemed opportune to grant the dispensation. An explicit statement must be included regarding the assurance that no scandal will be taken if the dispensation is given.

12. A personal vote from the Bishop of the place where the Petitioner now lives regarding the assurance that no scandal will be taken if the dispensation is given.

13. An official copy of certificates of attempted civil marriage or declarations of nullity of Matrimony, or civil divorce for the Petitioner and the woman.

N.B. THREE COPIES of the Acts of the case, should be sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. They are to be bound together in an orderly manner, with all the pages numbered in sequence and authenticated by the Notary. Please see to it that, for the legibility of the entire documentation, photocopies are well-made and pages which have been handwritten in an illegible way are accompanied by a typewritten transcription.




CDW, April 1992, Dispensation from Obligation to Celibacy, RRAO (1991): 1-4.