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 Becoming a Catholic again 
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New post Becoming a Catholic again
There's a debate that raises its head every now and then, usually fomented by home-alonist promoters, which assumes that becoming a Catholic requires some jurisdictional act. This assumption is never proved, just asserted.

It is quite possible to leave the Church by one's own act, either by professing heresy (i.e. pertinaciously doubting or denying a de fide truth externally in such a way that this will become known to many), or by schism, or indeed by total apostasy. It is also true that these acts incur canonical censures, including automatic excommunication. What is simply untrue, and never proved by these mischief-making disturbers of consciences, is that it is not possible to re-enter the Church unless and until somebody with habitual jurisdiction "receives" one back. This is a total invention by these people. I make the educated guess that the reason that they never attempt to prove it is because like with many other of their theological positions, they simply don't understand the very terms they use, and have no clue what they are saying or why it would need proving.

I suppose that they build their idea upon the phrase commonly used to describe the canonical procedures that occur in cases of conversion, "receive into the Church." So they guess - they don't read, except for snippets lifted from various places which appear to support their Pharisaical spirit - that somebody with authority has to do this "receiving" and away they go from there. This is rubbish.

Membership in the Church is due to valid baptism, which imprints an ineradicable character on the soul, and this character conforms the subject to Christ, making him a member and part of the Church. This active principle causing membership can be impeded by an obstacle, such as external unbelief or external schism (or, rarely, total excommunication), in which case membership is lost. Or, more properly, membership ceases being brought about by the active principle, the character of baptism, because of the obstacle. Take away the obstacle, and the character of baptism, which is always active and tending to make the person a member of Christ, can once again complete its effect and make the man a member.

That's the theology of the matter. It's expressed in pithy terms by Canon 87 of the Code. "By baptism a person becomes a subject of the Church of Christ with all the rights and duties of a Christian, unless, in so far as rights as are concerned, there is some obstacle impeding the bond of communion with the Church, or a censure inflicted by the Church."

Anyone can see that according to this understanding all that is required for the restoration of membership once lost, is the removal of the obstacle that caused the loss. Or, again, to state the matter more theologically, the removal of the obstacle causing the loss. This means that if the obstacle is external heresy, then the removal of that obstacle is the abduration of error and a renewed profession of the faith. Since these things are required, the Church makes provision of them in her law, so as to ensure order, and she also takes occasion to bring about the lifting of any censures that have been incurred. But if there is no canonically established person to witness the abduration or the profession of faith, then other witnesses can certainly perform the fundamental function of such a witness - which is to make public the fact.

This is partly analogous to holy matrimony, in which the priest who is present is only the witness. The sacrament is confected by the two persons being married. A priest will say, "I married those two," but this is shorthand for "I was the official witness at their marriage." He does not marry them, they marry each other. He witnesses it on behalf of the Church. If a priest is unavailable for a period of three months (if memory serves - it may be six months, so somebody who has the time to look it up please correct me) the parties can marry without a priest, before other witnesses. But there must be witnesses, for it's a public act and witnesses are required in order to ensure the public character of the act.

Below I will post the ceremonies from the Roman Ritual for the reception of converts. It should be clear that there is no jurisdiction required, on theological reasons, for the conversion to be real and to be known as such. If one of the mischief-making troublers of conscience wishes to dispute this, let him cite his sources.

In Christ our King.

Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:51 am
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New post Re: Becoming a Catholic again
Rituale Romanum

Reception of Converts and Profession of Faith


(As prescribed by the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office on July 20, 1859; with the new form for abjuration of errors and profession of faith, approved by the Holy Office for the use of converts, and communicated through the Apostolic Delegate to the U. S. on March 28, 1942.)

In the case of a convert from heresy, inquiry should first be made about the validity of his former baptism. If after careful investigation it is discovered that the party was never baptized or that the supposed baptism was invalid, he must now be baptized unconditionally. However, if the investigation leaves doubt about the validity of baptism, then it is to be repeated conditionally, using the ceremony for baptism of adults. Thirdly, if ascertained that the former baptism was valid, reception into the Church will consist only in abjuration of former errors and profession of faith. The reception of a convert will, consequently, take place in one of the following three ways:


If baptism is conferred unconditionally, neither abjuration of former errors nor absolution from censures will follow, since the sacrament of rebirth cleanses from all sin and fault.


If baptism is to be repeated conditionally, the order will be: (1) abjuration or profession of faith; (2) baptism with conditional form; (3) sacramental confession with conditional absolution.


If the former baptism has been judged valid, there will be only abjuration or profession of faith, followed by absolution from censures. But if the convert greatly desires that the full rites of baptism lacking hitherto be supplied on this occasion, the priest is certainly free to comply with his devout request. In this case he ought to use the form of baptism for adults, making those changes necessitated by the fact that baptism has already been validly conferred.

The priest vested in surplice and purple stole is seated in the middle of the altar predella, unless the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle--in which case he takes a place at the epistle side. The convert kneels before him, and with his right hand on the book of Gospels makes the profession of faith as given below. If the person is unable to read, the priest reads it for him slowly, so that he can understand and repeat the words after him.

Profession of Faith

I, N.N., .... years of age, born outside the Catholic Church, have held and believed errors contrary to her teaching. Now, enlightened by divine grace, I kneel before you, Reverend Father ...., having before my eyes and touching with my hand the holy Gospels. And with firm faith I believe and profess each and all the articles contained in the Apostles' Creed, that is: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell, the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

I firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all the other constitutions and ordinances of the Church.

I admit the Sacred Scriptures in the sense which has been held and is still held by holy Mother Church, whose duty it is to judge the true sense and interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and I shall never accept or interpret them in a sense contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers.

I profess that the sacraments of the New Law are truly and precisely seven in number, instituted for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessary for each individual: baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. I profess that all confer grace, and that baptism, confirmation, and holy orders cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also accept and admit the ritual of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of all the aforementioned sacraments.

I accept and hold in each and every part all that has been defined and declared by the Sacred Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification. I profess that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, real, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is really, truly, and substantially present, and that there takes place in the Mass what the Church calls transubstantiation, which is the change of all the substance of bread into the body of Christ and of all substance of wine into His blood. I confess also that in receiving under either of these species one receives Jesus Christ whole and entire.

I firmly hold that Purgatory exists and that the souls detained there can be helped by the prayers of the faithful.

Likewise I hold that the saints, who reign with Jesus Christ, should be venerated and invoked, that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.

I firmly profess that the images of Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God, ever a Virgin, as well as of all the saints should be given due honor and veneration. I also affirm that Jesus Christ left to the Church the faculty to grant indulgences, and that their use is most salutary to the Christian people. I recognize the holy, Roman, Catholic, and apostolic Church as the mother and teacher of all the churches, and I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ.

Moreover, without hesitation I accept and profess all that has been handed down, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and by the general councils, especially by the Sacred Council of Trent and by the Vatican General Council, and in special manner all that concerns the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. At the same time I condemn and reprove all that the Church has condemned and reproved. This same Catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, I now freely profess and I truly adhere to it. With the help of God, I promise and swear to maintain and profess this faith entirely, inviolately, and with firm constancy until the last breath of life. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and publicly professed by all who depend on me and over whom I shall have charge.

So help me God and these holy Gospels.

The convert remains kneeling, and the priest, still seated, says psalm 50, or psalm 129, concluding with "Glory be to the Father."

After this the priest stands and says:

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)

P: And lead us not into temptation.

All: But deliver us from evil.

P: Save Thy servant.

All: Who trusts in Thee, my God.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

All: And let my cry be heard by Thee.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

God, whose nature is ever merciful and forgiving, accept our prayer that this servant of Thine, bound by the fetters of sin, may be pardoned by Thy loving kindness: through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

The priest again sits down, and facing the convert pronounces the absolution from excommunication, inserting the word perhaps if in doubt as to whether it has been incurred:

By the authority of the Holy See which I exercise here, I release you from the bond of excommunication which you have (perhaps) incurred; and I restore you to communion and union with the faithful, as well as to the holy sacraments of the Church; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lastly the priest imposes some salutary penance, such as prayers, visits to a church, or the equivalent.


(In case of grave necessity only)

I, N.N., reared in the Protestant religion (or another religion as the case may be) but now by the grace of God brought to the knowledge of the truth, sincerely and solemnly declare that I firmly believe and profess all that the holy, Catholic, apostolic, and Roman Church believes and teaches, and I reject and condemn whatever she rejects and condemns.

After this the priest says psalm 50 and the rest as above.


(To be used only in dioceses that have received this special indult)

{On January 4, 1914, Pope Pius X granted permission to the archdiocese of Philadelphia and to all dioceses of that province to use the following short form of conditional baptism, in the case of converts who had received baptism in the sect to which they formerly belonged, with the provision that the faculty would have to be renewed as circumstances require. See "American Ecclesiastical Review," Dec. 1914, p. 723.}

P: N., what are you asking of God's Church?

Convert: Faith.

P: Do you believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?

C: I do believe.

P: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was born into this world and suffered for us?

C: I do believe.

P: And do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

C: I do believe.

P: N., do you wish to be baptized if you are not validly baptized?
C: I do.

P: N., if you are not baptized I baptize you in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

The ceremonies of anointing with chrism and the bestowal of the white robe and of the lighted candle are not of obligation in this case, but a matter of edification. Because of their mystic signification they ought not to be omitted if they can be carried out. The preceding rite is followed by sacramental confession with conditional absolution.

In Christ our King.

Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:59 am
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New post Re: Becoming a Catholic again
He does not marry them, they marry each other. He witnesses it on behalf of the Church. If a priest is unavailable for a period of three months (if memory serves - it may be six months, so somebody who has the time to look it up please correct me) the parties can marry without a priest, before other witnesses.

It's actually only a month. Though apparently there is some mild controversy over just when the month begins. If I recall correctly, my copy of Woywood says that the month refers to the time after the scheduled wedding date. So if Joe and Joan are scheduled to be married on January 1, and Fr. N can't arrive until February 2, Joe and Joan and justified in going ahead without Fr. N.

Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:58 pm
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New post Re: Becoming a Catholic again
Canon 1098. If the parish priest or local Ordinary or a priest delegated by either who should, according to Canons 1095 and 1096, assist at the marriage, cannot be had or the parties cannot approach him without great inconvenience, the following rules are to be observed:
1. (a) In danger of death marriage may be validly and licitly contracted in the presence of only two witnesses; (b) even apart from the danger of death marriage may be thus contracted if it is prudently foreseen that the state of affairs (namely the great difficulty of getting an authorized priest to witness the marriage) will continue for a month.
2. In both cases, if another priest is at hand who can be present at the marriage, he should be called and should assist at the marriage together with the witnesses, without prejudice, however, to the validity of the marriage contracted only before the witnesses.

Van Vliet, A.H. (D.D.), Breed, C.G. (D.C.L.), Marriage and Canon Law – A Concise and Complete Account (Burns & Oats) 1964, p.244

Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:28 pm
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New post Re: Becoming a Catholic again
Thank you, gentlemen, much appreciated.

Now, can I just say stuff from now on and then ask you to provide the accurate data? This could be good! :)

In Christ our King.

Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:16 pm
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New post Re: Becoming a Catholic again
Also worthy of note is that the month need not actually pass, it only need be prudently and morally foreseen that the priest will not be there until after a month after the wedding is scheduled to happen. So in the aforementioned hypothetical, Joe and Joan need not wait til February 2nd to marry, they can still marry on January 1st.

Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:31 pm
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