Some Catholic terms misunderstood

Here are some terms that are used that are sometimes not used correctly.

annulment. Technically called a decree of nullity, is a sentence by a church court, confirmed by an appellate court, that a putative marriage was not valid from the start because something was lacking: full knowledge and consent by both parties, freedom from force or grave fear, or some other factor needed for a valid marriage. 

brother. A man who has taken vows in a religious order but is not ordained or studying for the priesthood. Sometimes he is called a lay brother to distinguish him from clerical members of religious orders.

nun. (1) Strictly speaking, a member of a religious order of women with solemn vows. (2) In general, all women religious, even those in simple vows, who are more properly called sisters. Whether a woman religious is a nun or sister in a strict canonical sense, in news reporting it is appropriate to use the term Sister as the religious title before her name.

sister. In popular speech, any woman religious. Strictly, the title applies to women religious of those institutes, mostly formed during or since the 19th century, whose members do not profess solemn vows. 

laicization. The process by which a priest is returned to the lay state. It is sometimes used as a penalty for a serious crime or scandal, but more often it comes at the request of the priest. A laicized priest is barred from all priestly ministry with one exception: He may give absolution to someone in immediate danger of death. The pope must approve all requests for laicization.

You can find more at: Catholic Terms | USCCB

Author: yuengerwv

Retired Catholic Priest

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