Sep 3, 2005

Priests for hire

Everyone has his price.

50 years ago, Charles Ara was ordained a priest in the now defunct St. Vibiana's Cathedral by Cardinal McIntyre. In 1970, Mr. Ara left the priesthood to marry. Now he makes a few extra bucks on the side playing priest for couples who want some semblance of a Catholic wedding but are not concerned about insignificant details such as validity.

"Father" Charlie's claim to fame was when he officiated at the marriage of Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner with Kimberly Conrad at the "Playboy Mansion."

Find out more about "Father" Ara's wedding business at his website HERE. And lest you think that Ara has the corner on this highly specialized market, go to RENT-A-PRIEST, a nationwide listing of ex-priests who are more than willing to let their "clients" "have it their way."

Click HERE for a related L.A. Catholic post.


Anonymous Xochilt said...

How I pity poor, old Father Ara.

In a few short years his long rebellious ride will have come to an end and then judgment and eternity.

"What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?"

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Ian said...


That Father Ara has left the priesthood dosn't mean he isn't a priest. Consequently, the marriage is also valid, although it is illicit. Likewise, the sacraments of the SSPX are valid - since the priests were validly ordained by true bishops - although their celebration of them is illicit (since the SSPX have been excommunicated).

Still and all this is disgusting, as is any group who call themselves "Catholic" while flouting the faith.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Quintero said...


My understanding is that such marriages are invalid and not simply illicit. Church law states that the minister (bishop, priest, deacon) cannot validly witness a marriage unless he has the faculties to do so.

The marriages witnessed by Father Ara as well as those by SSPX priests are invalid.

Baptisms administered by such priests, however, would be valid, but illicit.

Maybe a canonist blogger could help to clarify this further.

2:13 PM  
Blogger CS said...

I'm no canonist, but am finishing up an MA in theology. You got it right, Quintero; Holy Orders, E.Unction, the Eucharist, Confirmation can be confected ex opere by a validly ordained priest, Orthodox and the like. Baptism can be validly confected by anyone, although illicitly.

When we get into Confession and Matrimony, it's more complicated. I'm not gonna risk messing up by getting into too much detail, but generally, the validity (not just liceity) of these Sacraments hinge on whether the priest possesses the proper faculties from the local ordinary. Basically, the RENT-A-PRIEST fools are likely doing nothing at all.

I'm not sure about Protestant weddings, as non-catholics do not fall under the scope of canon law.

I hope I haven't lead anyone wrong here; I'm just a lowly student!

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Quintero said...


I think you have it right.

Faculties are necessary for a priest to validly witness a marriage.

When two Protestants marry (presuming there are no impediments of any sort), they enter into a valid, sacramental marriage (although Prots would not use that terminology).

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My brother is a canon lawyer, so I can pretend to have some knowledge. Also, I have researched this issue as I have friends mixed up in the SSPX quagmire.

In order to have a valid Catholic marriage, the priest must have faculties from the Bishop. The Bishop has the authority and power to confect the Sacrament, and only the Bishop can give the faculties to a priest. The same goes for confession. This is why all the SSPX marriages and confessions are invalid [and so is Mr. Ara's in regard to Catholics, at least].


8:35 AM  

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