Memo to all: Rent-A-Priest is not a Catholic group

Memo to all: Rent-A-Priest is not a Catholic group

The National Catholic Register follows up on the case of Fr. Rouville Fisher of the St. Augustine, Florida, diocese who was excommunicated for joining “Rent-a-Priest.” (My previous blog post about him.)

The article warns that anyone going to them for a wedding probably is not receiving the sacrament. What it fails to mention is the basic fact that “Rent-a-Priest” is a ministry of the International Council of Community Churches. At that fact, the conversation stops. Certainly the reporter for Reuters who wrote “Desparate Catholics find rent-a-priests online” should have stopped there. You don’t need to talk about anything else. This is a deal-stopper.

Bagg-Morgan said Rent A Priest is popular among people who want Catholic weddings but don’t qualify for one. Haggett said Rent A Priest clergymen usually charge fees for weddings, but provide other sacraments – such as baptism and last rites – voluntarily or for donations.

“Someone who was in a previous marriage that hasn’t been annulled, for example, might call Rent A Priest in order to have a priest perform the ceremony,” Bagg-Morgan said.

See, if you don’t qualify for a Catholic wedding, there’s usually a reason. The Church isn’t being just mean and arbitrary; she’s helping you avoid a situation of serious sin by acknowledging reality. In this case, what “Rent-a-Priest” is doing isn’t all that different from what the so-called “womanpriests” are doing: simulating a sacrament. Playing at sacraments, if you will.

The article also has a good brief listing of what sacraments are invalid or valid, but illicit when performed by an excommunicated or suspended priest:

“When a sacrament is invalid, it means nothing happened,” Father Gray said. “A sacrament that’s valid but illicit means the sacrament occurred, but it was against canon law. In general, baptism by a suspended or excommunicated priest would be valid, but illicit. Marriage would be invalid. Last rites would be valid, but illicit. Confession would be invalid. Mass would be valid, but totally, completely illicit and absolutely should not take place.”

Good to know.

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