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CoCL: Could a revert pursue a vocation to the Priesthood?


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Title's kinda straightforward. I've been pursuing a vocation to the Priesthood for several years now. I first felt the call in late-2018/early-2019 (if my memory serves me well) and I've been trying to respond to it ever since.

Recently, I came across the 1040 Canons, which state,

"Can. 1040 Those affected by any impediment, whether perpetual, which is called an irregularity, or simple, are prevented from receiving orders. The only impediments incurred, however, are those contained in the following canons.

Can. 1041 The following are irregular for receiving orders:

[...]

2/ a person who has committed the delict of apostasy, heresy, or schism;

[...].

Can. 1047 §1. Dispensation from all irregularities is reserved to the Apostolic See alone if the fact on which they are based has been brought to the judicial forum.

§2. Dispensation from the following irregularities and impediments to receive orders is also reserved to the Apostolic See:

1/ irregularities from the public delicts mentioned in can. 1041, nn. 2 and 3;"

 

This brings me to the point of issue. When I was a child, perhaps 11 to 13, I "apostatized," which is to say I stopped practicing the Faith. I'd argue (to a degree) that I didn't learn it well enough in the first place, and that to a large degree I was a product of my environment, but still. I spent a solid five-to-seven years outside the Church, and only returned at the age of 18. By letter of the law, does this constitute a canonical irregularity? If so, would my degree of culpability mean I'd require a dispensation from the Holy See to pursue this vocation? I have to admit, this has me rather troubled. I'm a bit hesitant to think most of the groups I'm interested in would see it being worth their trouble if this were the case.

I'd sincerely appreciate any guidance you folks can give. I kinda feel like I'm at a loss.

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I'm no canon lawyer, either, but I believe apostasy is a formal rejection of the faith. If you wrote up a document and handed it out saying "I hereby reject the Catholic faith," or proclaimed it in public, that would be apostasy. People used to do that kind of thing - kings like Henry VIII, priests and nuns during the Reformation, and so forth. 

Like AveMariaPurissima, I've read any number of vocation stories that included phases of not practicing the faith. A vocation director would be able to clarify the particulars. 

Keep pursuing. 

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Can a "decision" by a child be held to have any validity?  By your own account, as an adult, you made a conscious decision to return to your faith.

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SponsaChristi can answer in depth. However, not having been a church-goer is not apostasy or schism. Many young people - and you were very young - had periods of even being involved with cults. Apostasy or heresy isn't not going to church! I assume you didn't start an academic argument at Wittenberg which led to effectively splitting Christendom ... ;)

Don't worry about doubts - even saints doubted, and it indeed may show that you had a health maturity in exploring what you really believed. Heresy is an outright, public denial - you'd have had to be a priest in the first place to have been an apostate. 

I'm not a canon lawyer... but some of my divinity studies had a good deal to do with the Middle Ages and Reformation. 

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Sponsa-Christi

Actual canon lawyer here, and I basically agree with what a number of people have already said: canonical apostasy is a very deliberate act of renouncing the Christian faith. This could be something like writing to the bishop or making a public statement rejecting Christianity; or it could be formal conversion to a non-Christian religion like Buddhism or Islam. 

Apostasy is *NOT* simply falling away from the faith; being a "bad Catholic"; skipping Mass; or even becoming Protestant.  

So, @Pooooma, based on what you've written it doesn't look like you're an apostate who needs a dispensation from the Holy See to enter seminary!

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