What does the faith teach about excommunicateion now is it still a thing or has this teaching of the church not being talked about or taught anymore?

The only thing I can say is that excommunication occurs only after a well-established dialog with the person at issue. They are offered every opportunity to repent prior to being formally excommunicated. Excommunication is not punitive - it is medicinal, intended to bring the sinner back to their senses.

As well, it is done for the sake of the Church, so as to avoid scandal among the faithful. Should it be used more? We would like to see that, but that may not be God’s plan in the current age. Time and prayer will yield our answer.


In theory yes; in practice - well let’s just say that it’s actually quite hard to get excommunicated. Excommunication is a penalty imposed for the good of the person concerned as well as for the good to the Church community as a whole. It isn’t intended to be a big whacking stick with which to his anyone who slips up - which is why I say it’s actually quite hard to get excommunicated. It usually only comes after dialogue and warnings to the person to address the problems which are at issue or to not do certain things they might otherwise do.


I second In the Pew’s post. This article by respected Canonist Edward Peters explains what exactly excommunication means (hint: No, if you are excommunicated it does not mean you are no longer a member of the Church; you are still Catholic).

Yes, excommunication is still “a thing” as are other canonical penalties.

Canon law outlines offenses that incur censure up to and including excommunication.

Exactly. I know people who have been formally excommunicated. The level of actual begging them to repent, as in the Bishop visiting personally and getting down on his knees to ask them to recant, that happened before the formal sentence makes tears come to my eyes.

1 Like

I presume an excommunicated person cannot recieve sacraments until they resolve the excommunication. What about annointing of the sick? What are the conditions of excommunications and how does the individual get it lifted? Are there any circumstances under which it’s a done deal and cannot be reversed?

If you don’t mind my asking — and this is just sheer curiosity — what did they get excommunicated for? What could be so “front and center” that the bishop would visit them and, as you say, get down on his knees and beg them to recant? I’m not asking for the relationship, nor how you came to know this, just what would prompt something like this.

I hope you don’t find my question offensive. I know we don’t excommunicate anymore for divorce and invalid “remarriage”, and the latae sententiae excommunication that follows an abortion is very, very easily lifted (and hard to incur as well, it’s not a black-and-white situation).

If I talk about the reason, then, it is apparent where I live and while most folks here are great people, I am still cautious. Let me say I know what it is like to go to Mass with national news vans on the parking lot asking parishioners about the excommunications. I know what it is like to comfort a teenager who weeps and says “what happens to me now that my godmother is excommunicated” and to run into excommunicated folks at the store or restaurant.

1 Like

Our hope lies in the fact that they are not yet a finished product. There is a real chance that they will doubt their doubt, or that their strength to rebel will wane.

1 Like

Since I don’t personally know excommunicated people or deal with them, but I do read about them in the papers, local and national, I can answer this.

The excommunications I know of locally primarily involve clergy and religious who disobey a direct order from their bishop or the Vatican, or publicly state that they can’t continue to follow a bishop or Pope who does XYZ. In a couple of the clergy cases, Father X got into a fight with his bishop over something, such as a teaching Father X was propagating to his flock or the use of a particular church building, and decided to do his own thing, and rented some building not owned by the diocese and took a bunch of his parishioners with him and they all started having their own Masses there. Father X ended up excommunicated, and so did all the members of his flock that persisted in going to his Masses.

Farther away from me, I also am aware of one bishop who excommunicated people for continuing to participate in organizations he had condemned, and another bishop who excommunicated a former priest who’d been suspended (Possibly even laicized, I can’t remember) due to credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Apparently the accused priest was so charismatic that people didn’t believe the allegations and he was still able to start his own church and ministry. Obviously the bishop didn’t approve and told him to stop and he didn’t stop.

I also found the Canon Law Made Easy blog to be very helpful on the subject of excommunication. Here are just a couple of their articles. If you look at their blog archives, they have quite a few different posts on excommunication in specific situations (bad-mouthing the Pope, having an abortion, irregular marriage issues, etc). Apparently it’s a very popular topic.

I understand entirely, and forget I even asked. I have to be circumspect about discussing my own location, for some very good reasons. I don’t think CAF expects us to disclose anything that could reveal where we are, and certainly not who we are. I’m a very unassuming layman in the pew, and I do not participate in the activities of any parish. Aside from having duties that preclude this at the moment, that is not something I would wish to do right now. My present parish is large enough, and urban enough, easily to remain anonymous within.

These are very good, thanks. I think it can safely be said that a person basically has to try to get themselves excommunicated. (If I simplify the situation, it’s not by much.) And the latae sententiae excommunication for abortion is, as excommunications go, fairly light — basically, all that is required to lift it is for the poor penitent to repent and go to confession. (Again, if I simplify the situation, it’s not by much.)

I don’t even begin to know the pain that a penitent who has had an abortion (or who has enabled one) goes through. I’ve done a few things in my life that I am not proud of, but I’ve never done that — Deo gratias — had my circumstances been different, I could have, been an enabler, that is. I lost a close friend because I refused to do legal research to enable him and his girlfriend in procuring an abortion.

1 Like

Excommunicated persons are deprived of receiving the sacraments such as communion, but can still attend Mass. As for lifting excommunication it is usually the ordinary (Bishop) who imposed the penalty or where the excommunicated person resides who can lift the penalty, although for some offences only the Holy See can lift the penalty for excommunication. CA has a good article on this here:

There is no such thing as an “irreversible” excommunication because it is intended as a medicinal penalty to bring the person to repentance.

1 Like

It’s definitely still a teaching…
It’s not much taught…

Those who eg, Embrace ABORTION - are auto-excommunicated

That said… They should still attend Mass
Yet until they repent - they are barred from Communion

Priests are supposed to refuse Communion
to any whom are Known to be Pro-Abort // Pro-Same-Sex Unions, Etc.

The Canon is distinct. The term “embrace” is highly subjective and is not part of the law:

Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.

The canon says:

Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.

USCCB documents give you a deep guide:




Yes Little Lady…

Will you be my Copy Editor? :star_struck:

It is my understanding that not only should they attend Mass, but they must fulfill their Sunday obligation. Of course they cannot receive communion until the excommunication is lifted, but they do not cease to have any of the obligations that a Catholic has under the precepts of the Church (fast and abstain on the appointed days, contribute to the support of the Church and her pastors, etc.). Someone please correct me if I’m misinterpreting this.

Not sure how this would work out where a precept of the Church binds one to receive a sacrament, as in the yearly Easter communion duty. As far as confessing once a year, the precept binds us to confess, not necessarily to receive absolution. (Again, someone correct me if I’ve got this wrong.) You can confess without receiving absolution — I can envision a scenario in which a penitent would go into a confessional and say, in effect, “yes, I am living in mortal sin, and I cannot give it up right now, and I know I cannot be absolved, but Father, would you pray with me here and now, and might I receive at least a blessing from you?”.

I think so . So it can be that you’re correct… :slightly_smiling_face:
I’ve not re-looked into that… and I’ll take your word…

**What is of most concern to me **
**Is that Catholic Teachings must be adequately disseminated … **
**And Obeyed - most especially by all Clergy… **
**In particular in connection with very grave Sins **
such as Active Homosexuality and Abortion

Which should never be Diluted via Demands
**that one should/must speak of all Sins **
when/if we speak of, e.g., Homosexual Sins, and, Abortion!

Likely - that latter activity exists
because of the extent of some clerical involvements…
along with any who follow their lead?

I agree with what you say in the first two paragraphs, but what does this have to do with the subject of excommunication?

I’m particularly not sure what you are getting at in the last paragraph. People can and do commit these sins without any prompting by dissolute clergy.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.