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Catholic Dictionary




The act of reducing an ecclesiastical person or thing to a lay status. The turning over of a church building to a secular purpose; the removal by a civil power of ecclesiastical control in an institution where that control and influence should be operative. In the laicization of clerics, the Holy See, for extraordinary reasons and the greater good of the Church, may laicize a bishop, priest, or deacon. In spite of the term, however, the person does not lose his sacramental powers and remains an ordained person. But he is legitimately dispensed from the ordinary duties attached to his office and, generally also, of his vow of celibacy, giving him the right to marry. In an emergency, a laicized priest can validly administer the sacraments of anointing and penance.