There are instances that some people are identifying themselves as “priest”. Either to ask financial support for his parish or wishes to celebrate mass. Catholic Priests can be identified by wearing their habits of Alb, Cassock with Roman collar, Chasuble-alb, and Stole. Whether he is religious or a diocesan, he must also know how to flip the pages of the Roman Missal, use liturgical vestments and identify the corresponding color of the year.
Recently, some religious cults are fooling Catholics and even themselves that a priest or nun has been baptized or converted to their registered churches. If those cults are doing their best to confuse us, we must prepare for the worst. As Catholic Christians, it is our duty to verify the identity of these persons so the others may not befall astray and to avoid the desecration of the sacraments.
Let’s keep in mind this scenario.
If a visiting priest knocks on your door someday and is asking for financial donations, or offering to celebrate the sacraments and you as a parishioner has absolutely NO IDEA who he is, how can you tell whether the visitor is really a priest in good standing or one has been suspended or a member of one of these sects?
As Canon 903 notes, a genuine priest should be able to present a “commendatory letter” from his bishop if he is a diocesan priest, or his religious superior if he’s a member of a religious institute. A sort of clerical ID-card also exists, traditionally known as ‘celebret’, from the Latin word meaning “let him celebrate”, or “may he celebrate”. The letter or the celebret proves that the man claiming to be a priest is real. According to the Catholic Dictionary, CELEBRET is a document stating that the owner is a priest in good standing and requesting that he be permitted to say Mass. It must be signed by his bishop or religious superior. WITHOUT IT HE MAY MEET A REFUSAL TO SAY MASS IF HE IS A STRANGER LOCALLY.
Therefore, a stranger who identifies himself as a priest that showed this document or known by another priest in your parish is genuine. Otherwise, in the absence of the mentioned facts above, that stranger is fake and must be reported to your parish and local authorities immediately. So dear brothers and sisters beware of these registered churches’ dirty tactics that they might use against us in the future as we are warned by the Lord according to St. Matthew:
Matthew 7:15-17 (ESV)
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”
We can clearly identify who they really are according to their fruits.🙂
God Bless and Stay Safe!
– Servire et Defendere-