Bishops authority


Does a bishop had the authority to excommunicate someone? I thought only the Pope could. But now I am thinking I was wrong. I may need to correct some info I told a non-Catholic friend. I told them I would follow up on my answer to be sure. If a bishop can doe it ultimatley have to be review and approved by the Pope?


I don’t see why not.


See if this helps:


Yes, a bishop has this authority in his diocese and for those under his jurisdiction.

No, the Pope neither reviews nor approves an censure issued by a fellow bishop.


This link sheds no reliable light on the Catholic Church’s teaching on the authority of bishops, or anything else Catholic, since it was written by a sedevacantist who opposed the Catholic Church. I might consider him reliable when writing about his own Church, but not mine.


I am so very sorry. I saw the “friarsminor” URL and thought they were the REAL Friars Minor.

I’m going to ask a mod to delete the message.


If you get an abortion that’s automatic excommunication But I believe Priests have the authority to lift the excommunication with proper penance.


Oh, well, nothing against the poster, the URL DID look authentic Franciscan. You really have to look closely these days.


I don’t see how this rubbish can be of any assistance.


We all make mistakes. I did not realise until I read the text. Sorry if my last post was harsh.


Getting back to the original question, most excommunications are “done” by the person himself or herself - they do something that excommunicates themselves. The question is who can lift the excommunication. Normally this takes place or at least is initiated within the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The person comes in, the priest assesses what is going on; somethings he might resolve himself, other things he has to tell the person to come back in a certain time period, while he forwards the request to his bishop, who may or may not need to consult with Rome. It depends on what the nature of the act was, and what has been delegated. Like other aspects of sin and forgiveness, there are always extenuating circumstances, and collateral effects that must be considered.

Sometimes it is confusing - for instance if a woman gets “ordained” in some makeshift public ceremony, a Church official may publicly announce that an excommunication happened, but that official isn’t the one who excommunicated her; the person excommunicated herself. Obviously the great majority of excommunications are caused by private actions and resolved (or not) privately. But public actions, especially in the day of the media, cause public scandal. Even so, the resolutions are kept as confidential as possible.


That’s not correct because it depends.

If a woman getting an abortion does not know such an act is even a sin of grave matter she has not even committed a mortal sin so any penalty attached does not apply.
If a woman getting an abortion knows such an act is a sin of grave matter but goes ahead then she commits a mortal sin but does not know about the automatic excommunication then she is not excommunicated.
If a woman knows getting an abortion is a sin of grave matter and carries with it automatic excommunication but is coerced against her will to have an abortion then she has not committed a mortal sin and nor is she excommunicated.

By the way, excommunication being lifted is not conditional upon a proper penance. A woman just has to go to Confession with genuine contrition and she will be absolved.

Actually, whatever sins are being confessed absolution is not conditional upon any specific penance being given or performed.



I know you must sin of your own will, but how is a woman coerced into an abortion? You mean if she is “young an impressionable”? That makes sense. Now if someone is holding a gun to your head and says “Kill this person or I’ll kill you!”, Humm that’s one that’s not too clear to me.



It’s actually an interesting question, because there has been controversy over a bishop’s sovereign perogative to excommunicate those under his jurisdiction.

In 2009, a nine-year-old Brazilian girl underwent an abortion. Archbishop José Sobrinho acknowledged that a latae sententiae excommunication applied to the girl’s mother and the doctors who performed the murder. This led to outcry, and Archbishop Sobrinho was essentially reversed by the Brazilian episcopal conference. This case is altogether peculiar to me, because I had labored under the impression that the episcopal conference has no such authority or power anywhere.


Some kinds of acts can’t be undone; such as a woman getting an abortion. Other kinds of actions are ongoing; a politician who supports legal abortion, maintains publicly that they are a practicing, even exemplary Catholic. If the ongoing situation - I would say ongoing sin of scandal - is confessed, the penance would be crucial - to stop supporting abortion, or if they won’t do that, to refrain from Holy Communion.
My understanding is that a few Catholic politicians have been contacted, and have - sadly - chosen not to give up abortion advocacy, but at least are now refraining from Holy Communion. These situations are mostly confidential.


Sit outside abortion clinics more often. I’ve seen teens literally dragged in by the arm by their parents.


Stopping supporting abortion is not penance. Penance (also known as satisfaction) is something like “Say three Hail Marys” or “Abstain from meat for a week” or “Wear sackloth and sit in ashes.” What you describe is repentance and contrition, definitely things that are necessary in order to lift sanctions and grant absolution.


Why wouldn’t they have that power? Surely a synod has more authority than a bishop no?


An episcopal conference is NOT a synod. Not even close.

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