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Defect of Birth

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Defect of Birth was, under former Roman Catholic canon law, a canonical impediment to ordination, stemming from illegitimacy. Under the current 1983 Code of Canon Law, illegitimacy no longer has any canonical implications or consequences. Defect of birth was an impediment to the reception of orders, and inhibited the exercise of the functions of orders already received. The prohibition did not touch the validity of orders, but made the reception of them illicit.

The defect of illegitimate birth could be remedied in four ways: (1) by the subsequent marriage of the parents, if they were capable of contracting a marriage at the time of birth; (2) by a rescript of the pope; (3) by religious profession; (4) by a dispensation.

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This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.

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