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The fact that it is impossible to “un-ordain” a priest explains the otherwise curious wording of canon 976.
This is, of course, totally in keeping with the theological concept that an ordained priest always remains a priest.To the world he would appear to be a layman, working at an ordinary job and living the normal life of the laity. For any number of reasons, he may conclude that he cannot continue living the life of a priest.Canon law refers to this change as the “loss of the clerical state” (cf. Ideally, of course, the realization that it will be impossible to live and work as a priest for the rest of one’s life should be reached when a man is still a seminarian, during the years of theological study and spiritual formation leading up to his ordination. Various combinations of emotional and health issues, deaths and other events within the priest’s family, and of course the immense stress of being constantly overworked while feeling unappreciated may lead a priest to reach this decision after he is already ordained and engaged in priestly ministry.Jacobs Manchester, United Kingdom Jacobs employ some of the UK's most experienced and skilled technical services professionals and has grown to over 7,000 people in locations across the UK. VIEW MOREIntertek Cincinnati, United States13458BRBranch Manager (Construction Services & Geotechnical Engineering)United States Cincinnati Ohio Job Description Branch Manager PSI, an Intertek company has an immediate need for a Bra...Outside of church and work, it's often difficult to find places to meet other single Christians — online Christian dating solves this problem.Christian Connection lets you meet other Single Christians who are also looking for a relationship.
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Like the sacrament of Baptism, it can never be erased—a baptized Christian can cease to practice his faith, and even publicly deny Christ, but he can never undo his baptism. Similarly, canon 290 of the Code of Canon Law states bluntly that once a man validly receives sacred ordination, the sacrament never becomes invalid.
As David says in his question, once a priest, always a priest. At the same time, however, it possible for a priest to be released from the duties and responsibilities that are connected to the clerical state (CCC 1583).
But in theory, if a laicized priest were to say Mass, it would be a valid Mass, since he never loses the ability to celebrate the Eucharist. (The difference between an invalid act, and an act that is valid but illicit, was discussed in greater detail back in the October 18, 2007 column.) Theoretically, if at some point in the future the laicized priest changed his mind, and wanted to live as a priest again, this would be canonically possible—but he would have to receive permission to be once more “re-instated” directly from Rome (c. For obvious reasons, the Church does not want undecided men easily moving back and forth, in and out of the priestly state!
But in any case, a previously-laicized priest returning to ministry would not be ordained again, as he would still be an ordained priest already.
Thus even a laicized priest, who certainly has lost his confessional faculties, can hear the confession of someone who is dying.