Does excommunication render sacraments invalid or just illicit?


#1

Hey everyone, I had a question about excommunication that I hope someone could answer. I understand an excommunicated person is not permitted to receive the sacraments, but if they did so anyway, would the sacraments be invalid or just illicit? I know such an example might be far fetched (perhaps impossible?), but let’s say someone incurred an automatic excommunication but didn’t exactly have knowledge of this fact, and then proceeded to act as normal, going to confession, and so on in good faith not believing to be violating an excommunication. Would these sacraments be all together invalid or just illicit?

Or take for example an excommunicated person attempting to marry in the Church, would their excommunicated status render the sacrament of marriage invalid?


#2

For marriage, yes, the Sacrament would be invalid due to lack of Form

For others, such as Confirmation, the seal of the Sacrament would be imparted upon the soul, but no Graces would attend it.

The Graces would be restored upon removal of the excommunication and a Sacramental Reconciliation, There would be no need to (or even possibility of) a re-Confirmation.


#3

[quote="Brendan, post:2, topic:318228"]
For marriage, yes, the Sacrament would be invalid due to lack of Form

For others, such as Confirmation, the seal of the Sacrament would be imparted upon the soul, but no Graces would attend it.

The Graces would be restored upon removal of the excommunication and a Sacramental Reconciliation, There would be no need to (or even possibility of) a re-Confirmation.

[/quote]

What about reconciliation itself? If the person was unaware that they were under censure, and went to confession, and the priest was ignorant of the canon law as well and gave absolution, is that absolution valid?


#4

[quote="Gavroche, post:3, topic:318228"]
What about reconciliation itself? If the person was unaware that they were under censure, and went to confession, and the priest was ignorant of the canon law as well and gave absolution, is that absolution valid?

[/quote]

That depends on the nature of the excommunication. Certain ones are reserved to the Holy See.

But an Absolution in danger of death is still valid. For example, if a priest encountered a known excommunicant who was having a heart attack and requested absolution, the priest could offer it and it would be effective,

But it the excommunicant withheld their status in the regular confession, the absolution would not include the excommunication or any sins attendant on that excommunication, in much the same way as deliberately withholding a serious sin in the confession does not result the absolution of that sin.


#5

[quote="Gavroche, post:3, topic:318228"]
What about reconciliation itself? If the person was unaware that they were under censure, and went to confession, and the priest was ignorant of the canon law as well and gave absolution, is that absolution valid?

[/quote]

First of all, the law does not allow for any penalty to be applied unless the offender knows that there was a penalty applied. Therefore, no one will be unaware that he is under censure or excommunication. If you're excommunicated, you will know it.

Therefore, if an excommunicated person approaches a priest for confession, and the priest does not know that this person is under the penalty, the absolution is invalid, except in danger of death.

If the priest does know, but he doesn't have the faculty to lift the penalty, he cannot absolve at all.


#6

[quote="Gavroche, post:1, topic:318228"]
Hey everyone, I had a question about excommunication that I hope someone could answer. I understand an excommunicated person is not permitted to receive the sacraments, but if they did so anyway, would the sacraments be invalid or just illicit? ...

[/quote]

Hello,

In case you did not see what I said in your previous thread about excommunication, I will say it again here, and expand on it a bit. The law determines the effects of excommunication, whether undeclared, declared or imposed (canon 1331). Nowhere does the law say that an excommunication of any sort results in necessarily invalid reception of Sacraments. Instead, it says an excommunicated person is forbidden to celebrate/receive the Sacraments. I have to conclude, then, that an excommunicated person could, theoretically, validly receive the Sacraments although it would certainly be illicit (i.e., against the law). In order for valid reception to happen, though, the person would have to be properly disposed. Usually, if someone is excommunicated that is a pretty strong indication that he is not properly disposed and so he would not be able to validly receive a Sacrament. But, the cause of invalidity is the disposition/intention, not the excommunication. As always, the essential aspects of Sacraments are form, matter, and intention. Ecclesiastical penalties to not change that.

For the sake of good, legal order and confidence that a person is properly disposed, thereby lessening the chance of sacrilege, any penalty should be remitted before an attempt is made to receive a Sacrament.

Dan


#7

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