A dicussion of priest's rights in liturgy, particularly with regard to newspaper reports that three Catholic priests have successfully appealed to the Vatican about the way their cases were handled by the Archdiocese of Melbourne in Australia.
More on this in my journal of 15 December 2001
Journal of 11 January 2002 Discussing an editorial
Journal of 12 January 2002 on The Age's editorial
Over the past few days newspapers in Melborne have been reporting on how the Melbourne archdiocese deals with accusations of sexual abuse against Catholic clergy. There seems to have been a successful appeal by priests who have been accused of sexual abuse and have lost their rights to celebrate Mass publicly, hear confessions and administer Holy Communion.
The story began in The Sunday Age on 9 December 2001:
In a brochure "Sexual Abuse: The Melbourne Archdiocese Response" Archbishop Pell wrote:
According to the Code of Canon Law, Canon 290:
Canon 291 says this does not mean a loss of the obligation to celibacy. Canon 292 it explains that the loss of the clerical state means no longer having the rights or obligations of a cleric. For example they would no longer be required to wear suitable ecclesiastical dress (Canon 284) and would be free to practice commerce or trade (Canon 286) or volunteer for the armed services (Canon 289).
What is the situation with Peter Waters? According to the front page of The Sunday Age:
Does he have a right to hear confessions? This is discussed in Canons 965 - 986. Particularly relevant seems to be:
So Archbishop Pell, as the local Ordinary, would seem to have a grave reason for revoking this. Exceptions are given in the Code for cases in danger of death, when any priest could hear confessions.
Can he celebrate the Mass publicly? Canons 900 - 911 discuss this. The following seems particularly relevant:
About Canon 900, John Huels wrote in The Pastoral Companion, page 86:
Looking at these, I don't see a justification for him not being able to celebrate Mass publicly. Either he should not celebrate Mass at all, or he should be able to celebrate Mass properly -- with the faithful, in a Church, etc.
A lot about the case is not known. The Sunday Age article had "details of the appeals are not known" and:
Today there is a story on page 5 of The Australian:
A letter in The Age on 11 December expressed the understandable reaction: "the church confirms that the archdiocese is fulfilling its obligations to the priests: clothing, housing etc. Who ensured that obligations to children were being fulfilled". With what I have written about the rights of instituted lectors I think its important that the Church respect everyone's rights.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 12 December 2001. Last updated 7 April 2002. Canon Law extracts from The Code of Canon Law, HarperCollins, 1997.
Links to other sites:
Archbishop Pell's Media Release on Commission 30 October 1996
Media Release on upgrade 2 May 1997
Sunday Age story 9 December 2001
Cathtelecom.com report 10 December 2001
Editorial in The Age 11 December 2001
Media Release by Archbishop Hart 11 December 2001
ABC report 12 December "Melbourne Archbishop Defends Sexual Abuse Commission"
Catholicnews.com "Papal letter announces new norms for clergy sex abuse cases" of 9 Jan 2002
The Age newspaper of 10 Jan 2002: "Church to keep trials 'in-house'