Do Catholics who support, vote, etc, for abortion, gay marriage, and contraceptives incur automatic excommunication?

I know for abortion, anyone who participates and helps facilitate it incurs one, but I can never find an absolute answer for supporting/voting for it. Some resources say yes, some say no. And I am not sure about automatic excommunication for gay marriage and contraceptives. Is that automatic if participated in/used and would it also be automatic if supported?

Thanks to all!
Have an amazing Memorial Day and God bless and thank you to those who have served, are serving, and will serve!

Any Catholic who rejects an infallible teaching of the Church commits a sin of grave matter (mortal sin if they know it is grave matter) and heresy which carries the penalty of automatic excommunication. However, even if such person knows that rejecting an infallible teaching is a sin of grave matter and thereby they are committing a mortal sin they would not be automatically excommunicated if they did not know it carried such a penalty. If they did know then they would be automatically excommunicated.

There isn’t an “absolute” answer in the sense that the understanding and impediments of the offender is hard to quantify. As thistle said, the offender must have proper knowledge of the offense, etc…

For Church sources on the matter, here is a cut-paste from an old post:

A lot of Catholics are poorly catechized or behave as if Catholic teaching is a buffet, so it’s hard to say which ones are truly ignorant and which are just defiant.

Here are 2 pertinent paragraphs from canon law.

[INDENT]Can. 1364 An apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.“Latae sententiae” literally means “automatic.” An apostate, heretic, or schismatic is automatically excommunicated from the Church without the need for some formal declaration. So what is an apostate, heretic, or schismatic?*Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or doubt, after baptism, of a truth which must be believed by divine and catholic faith. Apostasy is the total repudiation of the christian faith. Schism is the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him.
*[/INDENT]So just speculating, there are probably a number of Catholics who have automatically excommunicated themselves because they know the position of the Church. There are also probably many Catholics who have no idea of the consequences of their false beliefs.

At any rate, like I said, it’s hard to impose some scientific quantifier on something like “sin.” We should merely teach the truth and draw all souls to Christ as best we can. That would include warning others about the reality of an automatic excommunication. It is best not to leave others in ignorance. That ignorance can compound and perhaps even tilt the decision of a different soul who would otherwise have avoided a sin. It is also scandalous to let false doctrine have a free pass.

I assume that by supporting those things, they are saying very publicly and personally that they do not agree with the church teachings…and because of such, with those feelings and thoughts and statements…they are informally “excommunicating” themselves–separating themselves–from the church and it’s teachings with full knowledge.


Excommunication is a narrow penalty which only applies in a handful of specific situations. However, Canon 915 covers many cases, and instructs the ministers to withhold the Eucharist from obstinate sinners:

[quote=“Code of Canon Law”]Can. 915 Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.


It would not necessary be a correct assumption. Sadly there are way too many Catholics that do not understand the teachings of the church and/or do not fully understand what it is they are supporting.


Wow…those examples are such basic Catholic 101 issues.
How does an adult get that far, saying they are Catholic, without knowing them?
The kids don’t have to learn this stuff before they are confirmed or something?

In today’s society, most non-Catholics even know what the catholic church says about such issues. It’s only splashed on the front page of the newspapers every day, as all this is debated about.
All it would take is ten minutes on the internet to find out, too.
Perhaps they are not feeling connected enough to the faith to investigate the teachings or care what they are?


For any interested, the “Code of Canon Law” can be accessed on the Vatican website.

Keep in mind that even if they did learn the Church taught it, they were probably also taught that in regards to making a final decision they could follow “their own reasoning/thinking”. Such “reasoning and thinking” being erroneously taught as what is meant by “conscience”. Thus they would be “following their conscience”, which (conscience being correctly understood) we are all required to do.

Even more basic than that is the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I can remember a time when, as an “adult”, I did not know this. I had zero catechism as a child and learned this on my own as an adult. :o


That reminds me. I believe it was St. Thomas Aquinas that said something about how if there is something that you believe you cannot do (after having taken care to form your conscience as well as you can), even if the Church commands it, then you cannot do it without committing a sin. Likewise, if there is something you believe you must do, even if the Church forbids it, then you must do it or else commit a sin.

Although that does seem like a stretch of an excuse. But I suppose you never know.

That’s the crucial part IMO – taking care to “form” one’s conscience.

Is there a real need to identify, weed out and punish apostates, heretics and schismatics?

That sounds like a witch hunt!

we often hear the phrase, “I wouldn’t do it but I can’t stop others from doing it” from fellow Catholics and they go ahead and vote for politicians who they know vote pro abortion. Their vote, in effect insuring abortion.

I would suggest, one who thinks like that and votes like that breaks both of the following Divine laws on charity

Mt 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

I would suggest, objectively speaking, one who votes for a politician who supports abortion isn’t remaining in love of neighbor OR God. They break both commandments. A Catholic in particular knows or should know what the Church teaches on abortion2272 . How can a Catholic then, when given a choice between a pro life and a pro abortion canditate, think they are okay voting for a politician who supports abortion?

By their vote, they commit a grave sin against charity both against God and neighbor. And the CCC says the following about one not maintaining charity. While they might in body be in the Church, their heart is outside, and if they persevere in that, heaven won’t be in their future 837

I would think there is some need or the Church would not have identified so many heretics and heretical doctrines throughout the centuries, such as that proposed by Arius and others who are specifically cited in councils or other ECF texts.

I don’t know if I would put a person that voted for a candidate that happened to believe in contraception (find one that doesn’t!) in the same league as Arius, though.

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