Absolution from excommunication

Hi. I’m excommunicated. I need to know how I can get absolution. I tried researching it myself, but even after wading through the jargon I couldn’t find the specific information I needed. From what I can figure, the procedure varies depending on what the offense was, so I’ll tell you: I desecrated the Eucharist.

Please just provide me with the information that I need; don’t flame me for what I did or nag me about repentance. I’m not sure I can accept absolution after such an act of hatred, and I feel I need more time to consider whether or not I should seek it, but I’ve noticed that the most common reason why I decide not to seek absolution is that I simply don’t know how to go about it, so I feel I need this information before I can make a decision.

Thank you.

Now I’m starting by assuming that you are Catholic, although your profile doesn’t indicate as such. Whole different ballgame if you aren’t.

Your situation, as you seem to be aware, is covered in canon law - par 1300ff. Desecrating the Eucharist does indeed incur excommunication. This is, in your case, of the type called latae sententiae - automatic rather than via a formal pronouncement of excommunication.

Sounds like you know that you need to seek absolution, as you say in order for the excommunication lifted. This means simply that you have to confess your sin to a priest at the next available opportunity, if you weren’t already aware of the mechanics involved. Have you ever been to confession before? There’s lots of information on the internet that can take you step by step through the process.

Normally no other or further action is required, and the excommunication is automatically lifted upon the priest absolving you of your sin. If any further action is needed, the priest himself will inform you of what is necessary to be done.

Are you confused about what contrition actually means perhaps? It sounds like this may be the heart of your difficulty. Contrition is really much more an act of the mind and the will rather than an emotion. Feelings are notoriously unreliable guides in such matters.

In terms of the sacrament of Reconciliation, you mainly need a conscious awareness that what you have done was wrong, since it offended Christ whose body and blood the Eucharist is, and an intention never to repeat the offence. Whether or how much you emotionally feel sorry for it is less important. Although it may be something you wish to discuss with the priest at confession, just for your own reassurance and peace of mind.

Hope this helps.

What is the difference between being in a state of mortal sin, and thus unable to receive the sacraments, and being excommunicated?
Thank you.

Mortal sin has to do with whether you are cut off from God and his grace. Excommunication has to do with whether you are effectively placing yourself outside the Church by the nature of your sin as well.

The big main difference (I think, but I am not a scholar) is that the priest doesn’t know you are in mortal sin unless you tell him in confession, therefore you can receive sacraments, just not worthily. Being excommunicated, means that the Church knows you are in mortal sin and therfore deny you of receiving them.

I don’t think that’s correct. Someone, for example, who has or procures an abortion is automatically excommunicated by that fact. They need never tell anyone in the Church or out of it that they have done so, therefore how would the priest or anyone else know? And yet they would still be excommunicated, since the excommunication occurs automatically upon the commision of either act.

I guess I dunno much about excommunication… I was thinking more about the physical aspect then the spiritual aspect. What is the point of excommunication if you are the only one who knows your are excommunicated. I think excommunication is a good idea… but I still think that it would be easy to hide so know one but you and God would know… (I really am not a catholic scholar at all… :blush: )

S’ok. You’re right - these days excommunication (at least the automatic latae sententiae kind) doesn’t seem to have much practical significance. Used to be that any excommunicable offence could only be confessed to and absolved by the Bishop. Guess it mattered more then.

Just go to confession.

If your excommunication is one that a priest can release, then he will do so.

If he does not have that authority, then he should draft a letter to either the bishop or the Holy See requesting the release of your excommunication.

All you have to do is go to confession and explain the situation.

Best answer in this entire thread!

Nothing more needs to be said.


I believe the Bishops allowed the Priests to be able to remove such excommunications due to the frequency of them (ie - rise in abortions) and the trouble of tracking down a Bishop to make it slightly easier for the excommunicated to return to the Church, not that they ‘mattered more back then’.

As dylanschrader, the Priest may not have the authority to remove an excommunication (I’d guess it varies diocese to diocese), but he can request for it to be released.

From here and here at EWTN.com:

It is rather difficult to be excommunicated. One must fully understand what one is doing and freely and completely intend to do some offense that has the penalty of excommunication attached to it.


Even if you incur excommunication, you still remain a Catholic. You just would not be free to receive the sacraments, hold any office or fulfill functions in the Church, or reap any benefit from the Church.

An excommunication is an extreme penalty imposed on a person to bring them to repentance and reconciliation. An excommunicated person is prohibited from receiving or celebrating any sacraments, holding any office in the Church, fulfilling any function in the Church, or deriving any benefits from the Church. An excommunication is intented to shake a person up so that they will be sorry and change their ways. A “successful” excommunication, then, is one that is eventually lifted.

Does it follow, from having done an act which is objectively one which incurs excommunication, that you’re excommunicated ? I don’t think so. There are all sorts of details which can increase, or lessen, or even remove culpability - this is not my opinion, but a point made by Mgr. Peter Elliott in his book “Liturgical Question Box” (Ignatius Press 1997), pages 139-144. He deals with the subject of desecration of the Eucharist in some detail; your status would depend on the details of your case. (Ignatius Press is pretty “conservative” - not “flaky”.)

It’s possible to go to Confession and to ask not to be absolved - I’ve done so, which is how I know; so maybe your best course is to go to Confession, tell the priest the whole story with all the details, & take it from there. Priests are after all trained to deal with this kind of question. I don’t think your status in respect of the Church can be settled merely by consulting texts - there is much more to moral theology & canon law than reading the texts; priests, not laity, are the people who are properly equipped to sort out these issues. ##

I think this has to do with the statements a few years ago by a Bishop, that those who obtain, perform or assist in an abortion, excommunicate themselves.

This is different than an official excommunication from the Church. The former, the person need only go to confession to reinstate themselves. The later must go through a process within the Church.


go to confession, confess all mortal sins, even those you are not sure about, including the matter that is causing you this concern. The priest will direct you. For many offenses that carry automatic excommunication, the priest has the faculty to give absolution and lift the penalty. If there is a further action that needs to be taken, he will direct you on how to proceed.

Go and arrange to make your Confession to the Bishop who resides at the nearest Cathedral to your permanent address.

If you are a homeless person or a nomadic person, go to the Cathedral that is nearest to the location where you slept last, or (if you were in a moving vehicle when you were sleeping) the Cathedral nearest to the place where you woke up.

PS: If the Bishop is away for an extended period of time, his Vicar General can hear your Confession and reinstate you into full communion.

Ignavus, I’ll say a prayer for you. God is more concerned about your reconciliation and restoration, and I think that the posters on this thread are as well.

Church law is intended to be a servant of Christ’s mercy through his Church. Knowing that is much more important than knowing the law itself in your circumstance. Acts of hatred can be forgiven, and this week — of all weeks — is time to remember that.

A person in your situation may seek any confessor for this purpose to discuss and evaluate the situation, and will be directed on what the necessary steps in light of the precise details. Contact the nearest Catholic priest. Let him deal with the process. I will only say that the law itself is designed so that a person in your situation not be burdened.

God’s peace and our prayer.

Of course. Some of us just like to show off our book-learnin’ (or shoot ourselves in the foot with our ignorance) a little :nerd: :o

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