IRREGULARITY: In canon law, a defect or impediment which excludes a person otherwise qualified from due reception or exercise of holy orders. Canonists divide these into two classes, irregularities through defect and through fault. Under the former come (1) those through natal defects, affecting all who are not born of a legitimate or at least a putative marriage, and removable by subsequent legitimation or by taking monastic vows. (2) Through bodily defects, affecting those whom illness or mutilation has rendered incapable of performing sacred functions, or of performing them without lowering the dignity of the office or giving offense to the people. (3) Through defects in age, when the canonical age (q.v.) has not been attained. (4) Through defects in knowledge, when the requisite knowledge for the order in question is lacking. (5) Through defects of faith, affecting neophytes and those not yet confirmed, who are presumably insufficiently established in the faith. (6) Through sacramental defects, arising from certain conditions in regard to a previous marriage of the candidate. (7) Ex defectu perfectae lenitatis, attaching to those who (though in a lawful way) have contributed to the death or maiming of a fellow-man, such as soldiers, criminal judges, prosecutors, jurymen, or witnesses, but not physicians and surgeons. (8) Through defects in reputation. (9) Through defects in the matter of liberty, preventing the ordination of slaves without their masters’ consent, married men without that of their wives, or guardians and trustees before release from their obligations. Irregularity through faults occurs as a consequence of criminal acts publicly known or proved before a court, or of certain misdeeds, even if not known; the latter include the killing or maiming of another person, heresy, apostasy, abuse of the sacraments of baptism or orders; and the same effect is produced by what is technically known as constructive bigamy, the marriage (if consummated) with any woman not a virgin, which, though not forbidden by ordinary law, is yet considered a sufficient declension from the ideal of marriage (cf. Lev. xxi. 13, 14) to disqualify a man for ordination. In case a man has been ordained in spite of his irregularity, his orders are valid, but he is not permitted to exercise them. Dispensation from irregularity can be granted as a rule by the pope alone--only in some exceptional cases by the bishop.