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Catholic Dictionary




Abnormality of the brain or nervous system producing a morbid mental condition. This condition is accompanied by loss of control of the will, rendering the individual morally irresponsible for what he does. The permanently insane may be baptized, their desire being supposed. If having lapsed into insanity and now incurable, they may be baptized if any, even implicit, desire for baptism was ever expressed by them. The sacrament of anointing of the sick may also be given, and Holy Communion may be received in sane moments or when in danger of death. A temporarily insane person upon recovery may validly receive the sacrament of confirmation and holy orders. The permanently insane may not be sponsors for baptism, nor may they marry, but, if they have contracted marriage in a period of lucidity, that marriage may be valid. The Church approves segregation for the insane and sponsors institutions for their care, but sterilization is forbidden as an infringement of their human rights.