Are we allowed to pray for the excommunicated?

I was just wondering if we are allowed to pray for those excommunicated from the Catholic Church. I assume so, but it was just a thought that popped into my mind and I’m wondering about the correct answer.

You can pray to the excommunicated as far as I know.

The Church issues a penalty of excommunication out of love and mercy, in order to bring the sinner to repentance.

What is happening among the faithful today that excommunicates would be treated as if they were devils or reprobate souls already in Hell? These persons are our brothers and sisters, separated from us to some extent by the sin that resulted in the excommunication, but still baptized persons, still Christians, still loved by God, who is seeking their salvation.

Some excommunicated persons might still be in the state of grace, by some reduction in culpability for whatever grave sin they committed. But even baptized persons who have lost the infused virtue of charity by an actual mortal sin, as long as they retain the virtue of faith, are still Christians.

It is Pharisaical and merciless to treat excommunicated persons as if they could not possibly be, in any sense and to any extent, members of the Church. Certainly, excommunication implies a degree of separation from full communion with the Church. But it does not imply complete and utter separation.

Can we pray for the excommunicated??! We should be praying for every human person on earth, and all the souls in purgatory.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). That means we not only can but ought to pray for all those in need of divine help or, as the Fatima prayer words it, “especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”


The most telling example of this is that we do exactly that in the Good Friday liturgy.

There are plenty of other examples, but that one is the most clear and obvious.

I think we are allowed, even encouraged to pray for anyone and everyone. No limits.

First some Holy Scriptures…

1 Corinthians 5:5

Immorality Rebuked
…4In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?…

1 Timothy 1:20 (NET)
1:20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

Old Testament

(Not sure if this counts since its old testament, but here are instructions not to pray for someone…)

Jeremiah 11:14
The Broken Covenant
…13"For your gods are as many as your cities, O Judah; and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to the shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. 14"Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster. 15"What right has My beloved in My house When she has done many vile deeds? Can the sacrificial flesh take away from you your disaster, So that you can rejoice?"…

I thought perhaps there was one instance in the New Testament where St. Paul instructed someone not to pray for someone else because of their apostasy, but I can’t find it, and I might be confusing that with the verse above. I did a bit of research and found a website that said that while there is such a notion not to pray for certain someone in the Old Testament that there is not such a statement in the New.

As far as I know, we can still pray for someone excommunicated. I do believe the excommunication is for that person to realize how serious his or her sin is and repent. I do believe it is also to make a statement not to have others follow the error of those sinning outwardly in non repentant manner. Its to keep the rest of the flock safe from accepting error.

Of course! As has been said, the whole point of excommunication is to bring people to repentance. They need prayer to help that process along.

I think your question touches on a common misconception about excommunication. In the popular imagination, excommunication is synonymous with a person being damned. They are not the same thing.

posted by Ron Conte
Certainly, excommunication implies a degree of separation from full communion with the Church. But it does not imply complete and utter separation.

Could you tell us how they are separated from full communion that is different than just being in the state of sin without excommunication.

I’m getting the impression that excommunication adds nothing that serious sin has not already done. And that basically there really isn’t any difference. So it seems all the same whether I commit serious sin with or without excommunication.

There doesn’t seem to be a point if nothing is added or taken away.

Allowed to?

Who would ever tell someone they cannot pray for another!!???!!!

If someone ever tells you that you are “not allowed” to pray for someone, don’t listen!


What does this mean? “Official prayers… the excommunicated have no share…” But sounds like the faithful can privately pray for them?

“These are, properly speaking, the public suffrages of the Church, official prayers, Indulgences, etc., in which the excommunicated have no share. But they are not excluded from the private suffrages (i.e. intercessory petitions) of the faithful, who can pray for them.”

A persons who commits an actual mortal sin loses the state of grace, and is therefore separated from God. However, prior to returning to the state of grace, he can cooperate to some extent with actual graces – so the separation is not complete. Such a person is still a Christian and a member of the Church, but his membership is harmed by the unrepented grave sin.

Excommunication is of the external forum; it is a juridical penalty to bring the person to repentance, and in cases of public excommunication to warn the faithful about a grave error of faith or morals. Some excommunicates might still be in the state of grace. Most Catholics who commit actual mortal sin, losing the state of grace, are not excommunicated.

Excommunicates may not receive Communion, nor the other Sacraments, except Penance if they are repentant. They should not be given roles of ministry or leadership in the parish or diocese.

Are we allowed to pray for the excommunicated???


I’ve been mulling this over for a while to give it some thought.

It seems to me then that excommunication adds nothing to a person already in grave sin except “They should not be given roles of ministry or leadership in the parish or diocese.”

Somewhere I had the idea that an excommunicant did not participate in the life of the body of Christ on earth…namely the usual church’s graces, prayers … cut off from them. For instance the Holy Mass includes sinners … but not excommunicants. Private prayer is another matter and may be offered for them.

But they also cannot receive holy Communion. It is also a helpful remedy if the person has a sincere but mistaken conscience. So the person is still in a state of grace, but the Church rebukes him for not forming his conscience in accord with Church teaching.

Why not? Of course you can. Pray for their return to the holy church. Pray for their souls.

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