Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Dismissal from the Clerical State" Announcement from the Archdiocese

Happily we don't see these very often.

John Allen spoke generally in another case about this penalty: Dismissal from the clerical state ex officio et in poenam, meaning an involuntary laicization approved personally by the pope. This is a rare option because it short-circuits procedural guarantees. In most cases, however, the accused priest has already had several opportunities to mount a defense. Sometimes he may already have been convicted criminally. [Note: this six year old statement applied to a priest. Shanahan was a deacon. I'm no canon law expert, but I would assume the procedure applies to all clerics and a deacon is an ordained cleric.]

Official Announcement

On June 26, 2009, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, decreed that Deacon Martin Kelly Shanahan, a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, is dismissed from the clerical state ex officio et in poenam and released from all obligations of the clerical state. This supreme penalty was imposed on Mr. Shanahan after he abandoned the Catholic Church, sought 'priestly ordination' from a female bishop of the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church, and then attempted to administer the sacraments (simulation). The same decree indicated that the canonical censures incurred by Mr. Shanahan as a result of his schism remain in force.

The Archdiocese wishes the faithful to be aware that any ‘Mass’ or sacrament administered by Mr. Shanahan, with the exception of baptism, is invalid. The August 2000 declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, does not apply to Mr. Shanahan’s attempted presbyteral ordination nor does it make any statement regarding the validity of the Orders of the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church.

Shanahan was a deacon at St. Peter's parish in Mendota. This announcement only dismisses him from the clerical state. His excommunication was automatic (latae sententiae upon his leaving the Church and starting his own church and seeking "ordination" from a non-Catholic person claiming to be a bishop.
Thanks to Michael for pointing out the need for the clarification.


Terry Nelson said...

Good to know.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Ray, is this about "excommunication" or "ex officio et in poenam"?

It seems to me that it's all about removing a cleric's faculties -- i.e., defrocking him, rather than removing him as a baptized Catholic from communion with the Roman Catholic Church, which ex communication would be.

Can you clarify? Thanks.



Unknown said...

Good question, Michael.

Many major Church offenses draw automatic excommunications (latae sententiae): Canon 1364 says: ...an apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication and if a cleric, he can also be punished by the penalties mentioned in Canon 1336, art. 1, nos. 1, 2 and 3.

Canon 1336 deals with "Expiatory Penalties" and specifically mentions "dismissal from the clerical state."

Article 2 mentions deprivation of power, office, function, right, privilege, faculty, favor, title or insignia, even merely honorary.

Article 3 mentions a prohibition against exercising those things mentioned in Article 2 or a prohibition against exercising them in a certain place or outside a certain place; which prohibitions are never under pain of nullity. I'm not sure what that last clause means.

I don't see anything in the Code of Canon Law that defines ex officio et in poenam, but my primitive knowledge of Latin would define that as "officially with penalty."

There probably are further regulations relating to ordained ministers (and a permanent deacon is an ordained minister) that call down for penalties coming directly from the Pope. I'll check further.

Materially assisting in an abortion used to be an offense that only the Pope could absolve. But sadly, there are so many now, that requirement was changed. I'll check further.

Unknown said...


As is often the case, I shot before I aimed.

You are right. This order from the Pope is not a case of excommunication. It is a "dismissal from the clerical state."

Shanahan's "excommunication" (latae sentenciaeresults from his apostasy.

I will change the heading on my post.

Fr. Marty Shanahan said...

I guess that is your name? I would advise you seek legal counsel before you publish anything further regarding myself or my status with the Roman Catholic Church. Your statement:" His excommunication was automatic (latae sententiae upon his leaving the Church and starting his own church and seeking "ordination" from a non-Catholic person claiming to be a bishop." not only shows your ignorance of Canon Law but also borders on defamation of character. If you would like to discuss my situation with me directly, I would be more than happy to speak with you. I can be reached at our Parish Office phone which you can find our our website. www.spiritofhopecatholiccommunity.org

Adoro said...

Ray ~ Actually, "automatic excommunication" is not properly used here. Although certain actions taken by people can incur an automatic excommunication, they in fact, have to be INFORMED of their excommunication, and this actually ALSO implies previous warnings to that person from the proper Bishop.

You probably can't comment on that particular status although I do believe leaving the Church and starting one's own is a formal act of Apostasy, which is a totally different thing.

Michael and Ray ~ Take care with the terms that you use: there is no such term as "defrocking" and it is a very perjorative term. "Laicized" is better, although that is also a made-up word. It is better to be more precise when talking of these things and simply citing "dismissal from the clerical state". Certainly it takes longer to say or write, but it's better to be precise than toss around words that truly have no meaning or are outright insulting.

Adoro said...

Ray ~ Sorry, I didn't finish the first part of what I was saying. As far as "automatic excommunications" go, there are many more Canons surrounding that particular topic and so the reality is that they are not so "automatic" as one might think by just reading the Canons by themselves.

We had a huge discussion about this in class last semester, so just be careful about saying someone is "automatically excommunicated", for it could very well be that they have not been, and if they ARE, then there would also be a formal statement given to them on that, or if the issue is public, there would be a public statement issued to that effect.

This is why we can't claim certain politicians are excommunicated, for in their case, it would have to be a public statement from that politician's own bishop.

Adoro said...

Mr. Shanahan ~

You are no more a father than I am and let's be honest: you're picking on Mr. Marshall because he's a little guy and you think you can intimidate him with a threat of implying a legal lawsuit, which you're actually NOT threatening, but only suggesting that he get legal counsel to advise future postings.

In reality you might have a spiritual accusation of detraction or calumny, but in looking objectively at what you've done, you can't claim innocence, nor can you claim that you haven't caused public scandal.

The very obvious fact that you HAVE caused scandal gives EVERYONE the right to make public commentary on your behavior and possible penal outcome against you, even if that penal outcome hasn't been explicitly expressed by the Church.

Welcome to politics. Welcome to reality.

The reality is that you have no right to accuse Mr. Marshall of detraction OR calumny as you yourself happen to be guilty of those crimes in what you live and have chosen to represent, according to official theological definitions of those terms.

The definitions imply something unfounded, yet in the Notifications made by Archbishop against you, any person of intelligence can surmise that in fact, your own words attacking Mr. Marshall apply more specifically to YOU and you actually have no legal or canonical right to bring a tort against Mr.Marshall.

If you DID have that right, you would NOT have commented yourself, but you would have brought an attorney, who in turn would have emailed Mr. Marshall a very polite and professional email with all the proper credentials, asking him to remove any offending language, and citing EXACTLY why such language needs to be removed.

As that has NOT happened, it is not possible for anyone to see how Mr. Marshall has been guilty of any wrongdoing, and perhaps it would be best for you to move on and perhaps reflect upon your own offense of the Church and Our Lord to Whom you once professed obedience and have since denied. The Church doesn't need another Judas. You are dismissed.


Cathy_of_Alex said...

This entire situation is unfortunate but, sadly, a public statement was necessary. I'm not sure why it matters to Mr. Shanahan if he is formally in communion with Roman Catholicism or not since it seems to me, by his public actions, he's left the Faith-if not formally, certainly in his actions.

Hidden One said...

I wonder if he'll be back.

Luis said...

I wonder if he CAN come back...

Unknown said...

He's formed his own church and rents space from an Episcopal church. He's burned a lot of bridges and caused major scandal.

He could come back to the Church at any time just by going to Confession.

In the unlikely event that he would want to return to the diaconate after burning so many bridges, I would imagine that it would take specific approval from Pope Benedict and probably Archbishop Nienstedt.