When: a heck of a long time in the future
Question: This comment in my previous question (same story) sparked some plot bunnies, and as I never got an answer to the question I raised immediately afterwards, I did more research, yet I have a few new questions.
As far as I can tell, bishops can ordain other bishops, yet they need an Apostolic letter from the Pope (as well as the candidate being approved by Rome) before the bishop-elect can be ordained.
If for some reason, communication with Rome might foreseeably be cut off, would there ever be a circumstance in which the Pope would give a dispensation to ordain other bishops without his immediate approval? Or does lack of communication with Rome automatically mean no further bishops could be legally ordained?
A secondary question: if the bishops, after communication was cut off, decided to go ahead and pretend they still had communication with Rome, what would the status be of new bishops they ordained? How about the priests these ('illegal?') bishops had ordained, and the people they had baptized, performed marriages for, etc.? Are those people no longer considered Catholics?
(Thank you for any information or sources you can help with! I'm looking for a cause of a civil war, and if I'm right, this might be it...)
ETA: So it sounds like I need to find someone who knows canon law to answer part one. Part two: baptism is okay, marriage iffy but probably okay ... how about Confession? Communion?
(also put in the lj cut as it's a bit long)
ETA2: This ship is a thousand years out from Earth, and hasn't received a message even for over a hundred (the time frame as far as the message is probably wonky, but this is a first draft). So priests aren't going to be showing up in a month/year/century. Just to clarify, as there seems to be some confusion. :)
Keep the discussion coming! I'm really grateful for the information.