Excommunication and Laicization for Cancelled Priests

The Coalition for Cancelled Priests (CFCP) supports suspended priests, in contradiction to the authority of their Bishops, and formally cooperates with them in administering Sacraments without faculties. The organization is committing grave sins as well as scandal, public formal schism, and a violation of Canon law. The following Canons may possibly apply to the organization or its members, depending upon the individual case.

We live in a strange time. A priest or theologian can pretty much get away with speaking or writing heresies, and the Apostolic See does not usually intervene. There are too many persons in the Church writing too many theological expressions. And correction from the Highest See, publicly, does not seem to be very effective in the present age.

But there are certain public sins that will quickly gain the attention of the Holy See, and result in prompt excommunication and laicization. One is simulating the Ordination of women, meaning an invalid attempt to ordain women. Another is any priest who begins to say Mass and administer other Sacraments apart from the Bishops and the Roman Pontiff.

Fr. James Altman and other suspended priests can probably get away with saying all kinds of outrageous expressions against the Bishops. They will receive just punishments from those Bishops, and remain suspended. But as soon as these priests join together in the Coalition for Cancelled Priests, to dispense Sacraments under the pretended authority of a lay organization with no Church approval, they commit a different type and degree of sin. It is debatable what Fr. Altman should or should not say, when he preaches.

It is not debatable that the Church has full and sole authority over the Sacraments. (You will point out to me that the Orthodox have seven, and the Protestants barely two, Sacraments. But they are in full schism and heresy, and have been for centuries.) When Catholic priests, ordained in the Catholic Church and living/preaching in that Church, set out on their own to dispense Sacraments however they please, they will quickly find themselves laicized and excommunicated.

The CFCP has crossed a line in the sand. They have publicly stated they will help suspended priests, who lack faculties, to administer the Sacraments:

“Sacramental Awareness
“* There will be many who will come to conferences or events who haven’t been to church or received the Sacraments in a long time — we will offer confessions and Mass. (Eucharistic understanding)
“* Allowing the priests to perform their God given levitical duties.” [CanceledPriests.org]

I am certain this will not be tolerated by the Apostolic See or the Bishops. Priests absolutely may not administer Sacraments apart from the authority of Bishops and the Supreme Pontiff.

And those Catholics who donate money to this group, or support them with expressions online, are sinning gravely against Christ. For it is Christ who founded the Church and gave the Church His own authority. And those priests who decide that in their own judgment they are proclaiming truth and that the Bishops have gone so far astray that they need to break away from Episcopal and Apostolic authority, will find themselves laicized and excommunicated.

Priests who administer Sacraments in direct contradiction to the authority of their Bishop, who prohibits them, are committing a very grave sin that will result in their laicization. That is what will happen to Fr. James Altman if he says Mass or hears confessions or administers any other Sacraments, outside of the conditions set by his Bishop.*

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

* Note that any validly ordained priest may baptize or absolve sins to a person in danger of death. The Church grants permission in such cases, making the Sacraments licit and valid.

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4 Responses to Excommunication and Laicization for Cancelled Priests

  1. John M Shearer says:

    Yes, Father Altman is way out of line. Would you please comment on the AUSCP group? This is a very vocal group of priests who support heretical teachings. I hear lots of comment on CFCP, none on AUSCP. I am interested in your thoughts on AUSCP and on the lack of condemnation of that group by bishops. There is the real scandal, I think.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I looked over the site and did not find anything wrong. They are on the liberal side of theology, but I saw nothing heretical. They support ordaining women deacons, if the Church approves it; they did not say anything about women priests. Do you know of any errors in that group?

  2. John M Shearer says:

    In the article, “The U.S. bishops should stop singling out abortion as the ‘pre-eminent’ issue for Catholic voters”, AUSCP takes a stand against their bishops on an issue involving faith and morals. For Catholics to publicly advocate for an acceptance of abortion is scandalous. It is clear from the articles AUSCP references that they agree with the proposition that elective abortion should be legal in the United States. What are your thoughts?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t read that as accepting abortion. It’s just not the pre-eminent issue, especially since even Republicans at this point are not willing to outlaw abortion. It matters to the evaluation of circumstances in morality what the likelihood is of particular good or bad outcomes. Voting only based on abortion, when that has had no substantial good effects for 30 years or more lessens the weight of that issue when voting.

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