Bishop Rojas expressed sadness at Msgr. Lincoln’s decision, noting his “dynamic and pastoral leadership” as a priest at Sacred Heart for the past 20 years.
“As you know, once a priest is ordained, he can never marry. This allows the priest to give himself completely to the Church and the service of the people of God. There are specific circumstances under which the Church will ordain a priest who is already married, but never the reverse,” Bishop Alberto Rojas wrote in a July 10 letter to Sacred Heart parish.
“So, by entering into a civil marriage this month, Monsignor Lincoln has essentially separated himself from his priestly vocation in our Church.”
Bishop Rojas did not specifically discuss the possibility of Lincoln’s dismissal from the clerical state in his letter, though Msgr. Lincoln did mention laicization in his own letter, saying that he and his secretary did not want to wait for the process to play out before marrying, citing their age and health reasons, including “heart issues.”
John Andrews, communications director for the San Bernardino diocese, told CNA that to his knowledge, the laicization process for Monsignor Lincoln has not yet been initiated.
“The process can happen in two different ways. It can be initiated by Msgr. Lincoln, himself. If he chooses not to do that, and continues in his marriage, then the Diocese would take the lead in the laicization process so that he is removed from the clerical state,” Andrews told CNA in an email.