Excommunication Of King Robert The Bruce

In 1306 AD,King Robert The Bruce of Scotland,before he was king murdered John Comynn in front of the alter in Greyfriars Kirk.He almost immediately went to Bishop Robert Wishart to confess,Wishart absolved Bruce from his sacrilege instead of excommunicating Bruce as Church Law required,thus Wishart violating strict Church Law.Pope Clement V,soon later excommunicated Bruce for his murderous sacrilege.My question here is.Can a Pope excommunicate a sinner for serious sin,after a Bishop has absolved the sinner of this same same sacrilege,like Wishart absolved Bruce

yes, the Pope can do so.

Moreover your characterization of events is a bit jumbled and off.

But the point i try to make here is .Was Bruce’s sacrilege absolved,although Bishop Wishart violated Church Law,so how could the Pope excommunicate Bruce for sacrilege,when Wishart had already absolved Bruce for the same sacrilege,the Pope did so here.Popes can excommunicate wrongly

Excommunication is a juridical penalty.
The Pope is the Supreme juridical authority in the Church.
Ergo, the Pope can excommunicate anyone he wants to and the person is excommunicated.

Note, being excommunicated doesn’t mean someone is damned. If the sin was absolved and if Bruce died in a state of grace (even though excommunicated) he’d still attain Heaven. Dying excommunicated might lengthen one’s stay in Purgatory, but it would not damn someone to Hell.

From the brief reading of the incidence, it seemed liked the bishop was a big supporter of Robert the Bruce and Scottland’s independence from England. It also isn’t clear if the murder was preplanned or as a result of a meeting that went wrong and out of control. He was ex-communicated but later was forgiven by the Pope. Considering the times and that this was a battle for independence. Because the bishop was a support of Robert the Bruce in independence, it could look like the absolution by him would be a little suspicious to the Pope and maybe that is why he was ex-communicated over the bishop’s absolution. Since you are from Scotland and he is a national hero, maybe you could shed some light on all of this.

Wishart knew that the Pope would excommunicate Bruce for Bruce had to be crowned King quickly before officially excommunication by the Pope,for an excommunicated couldn’t be crowned King
So Wishart absolved Bruce before coronation of Bruce,and the Pope excommunicated Bruce after his coronation
So was Bruce’s absolution valid,for Wishart knew Bruce would be excommunicated.
And once again.How can the Pope excommunicate a sinner for a sin ,when that same sin has already been absolved.
Bishop Wishart absolved Bruce ,then later Pope Clement V excommunicated Bruce for his sin already absolved
So for Bruce to have his excommunication lifted,he would have to confess his sacrilege for it to be absolved ,which had already been absolved previously by Wishart…
So Bruce is asking to be absolved of sacrilege,which he had already been absolved

Thanks for your reply,i will shed you some more light on this when i have time.Keep looking:)

You continue to assume the excommunication was for the murder, what you are terming “sacrilege”.

However, it appears to me that the excommunication was for rebellion and usurpation of the throne in Scotland vis-a-vis England’s claim to rule.

He was excommunicated 3 different times, but finally reconciled before death.

it also looks like all the bishops of Scottland supported him to be ruler. In general and considering the times, it seems like he was excommunicated due to the murder in the monestary. There conflicting evidence from that time on whether this was a set up by Robert the Bruce or a meeting that went bad. Maybe to understand your basic question of how can the Pope excommunicate someone for the sin of murder in a church if it was confessed but the Pope is the final head and would have final say on anyone’s excommunication. It also raises the question on if the Pope felt the absolution was legit since this bishop was for Robert the Bruce and his supporter. I’m not famliar with this part of history but that is what strikes me in what I have read and what some of the other posters have mentioned. This also points to a time where the Pope was unfortunately overly involved with the politics of the day and its rulers and might have faced political pressure or war in taking one side or the other.

It would be a valid sacrament of Confession because the Bishop was validly ordained.
But even tho the sacrament was valid, it doesn’t necessarily mean Bruce’s sin was forgiven. There are requirements for penitents (in this case, Bruce) in order for their confessed sin/s to be forgiven:
From the online Catholic Encyclopedia:

Without sorrow for sin there is no forgiveness. Hence the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, c. 4): “Contrition, which holds the first place among the acts of the penitent, is sorrow of heart and detestation for sin committed, with the resolve to sin no more”.

From the** Catechism of the Catholic Church** (on the Sacrament of Penance):

VII. The Acts of the Penitent

1450 “Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction.”


1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.”

Pity,I typed you a long thread,it was not posted as i am not familiar with these posts having been absent since 2009,so i must now be brief in my reply
It APPEARS to you,that is not fact
.You obviously dont know much about the Scots wars of Independence.
Before King Edward wrongfully invaded Scotland,Scotland was declared ," The Special Sovereign Independent Daughter Of The Holy See" So England were the aggressors,The Scots Freedom Fighters
Read ,The Scottish Declaration Of Independence ,given to Pope John XX11,there you will see who the real aggressors were,Pope was so impressed shortly after he dropped excommunication and interdict,since then Scots Clergy were granted their own Archbishops ,Cardinal,as Archbishop Of York claimed authority over Scots who were only subject to Rome not to English Clergy.So the wars were also a Holy Catholic Crusade
Note,To this day Scots Clergy are independent only subject to Rome ,not to English Hiearchy
The excommunication was for murder at the alter which is sacrilege,and excommunication,like the four knights who murdered St Thomas Beckett at alter,and excommunicated,not for Scots Freedom Fighting.
Bruce and Scotland and Scots Clergy by Papal Authority were excommunicated and interdiicted by English Clergy over 100 times in one year ( so i read) ,plus existing 3 times by Pope
Pope’s were given repeated bias evidence by English, so it was not their fault they supported English but when Pope seen the Declaration he seen English were the aggressors and dropped the Excommunication,to the rage of the English.
But my question is not answered.
For what reason can a Pope excommunicate a person for a serious sin ,when that serious sin was previous;y absolved

The English bias accused Bruce of pre-meditated murder,without proof.
They got to know about the murder 12 days after event.There are different theories ,but nobody knows if the murder was pre-meditated,only Bruce and of course Bishop Wishart his confessor under seal of confession knew,and what the penance was and he was absolved,but the Pope still excommunicated Bruce,wheather absolved or not,and Wishart new he would be excommunicate,for he rushed Bruce to Scone to be crowned King,before the Pope excommunicated Bruce,for Bruce could not be king if excommunicated

Um, no, you have wrongly assumed I take a position on Robert the Bruce v Edward of England vis-à-vis the English claim to Scotland and the rightness or wrongness of the causes of each.

I do not.

I was stating the facts of why Robert the Bruce was excommunicated, not whether or not I agreed with said excommunication.

The Pope can excommunicate someone for any reason.

Please look at all my threads,i have shed the historical light for you.
Your quote"The Pope felt the absolution was legit" is exactly what i want to know.A priest in mortal sin who says Mass the Mass is valid,the priest commits sacrilege.So was Wishart absolving Bruce in Sacrament of confession , both knowing Wishart was violating Church law and knowing the Pope would excommunicate Bruce,was it also valid???.
If valid ,why excommunicate? for Bruce would have to confess the same murder which he was absolved for ,after excommunication was lifted.
There must be a reason in Canon Law why the Pope can excommunicate a person for serious sin,when the SAME serious sin has already been forgiven absolved…
It looks like Bruce confessed his sacrilege and was absolved by the Pope,after the excommunication was lifted,for the very SAME sacrilege that Wishart had absolved him for…This looks like two confessions and 2 absolutions,required to absolve one mortal sin

Your quote about political pressure.
The English bias were repeatedly informing Pope Scotland were Rebels,and Scotland were their subject,.The Pope sided with them due to their bias evidence.,he had little Scots evidence until he seen the Declaration of Independence,which he was impressed and favoured the Scots and so later excommunication was lifted ,but English were in rage at the Pope’s turnaround .
Before the Excommunication was lifted,the Pope wanted peace ,and England and France to unite,in unity to a crusade against Islam.The Scots being long time allies with France," The Auld Alliance" kept up the struggle against the English,so the crusade against Islam was being hindered by the Scots who kept up the fight for independence , possibly this is another reason why the Pope excommunicated Bruce and Interdicted the Scots
It is to be noticed,that long before King Edward wrongfully invaded Scotland and laid his claim,The Papacy had declared that “Scotland Is he Special Sovereign Independent Daughter Of The Vatican,And Subject Only To Her” So why did the Pope Clement and John not recognise this,and listen to English false bias claims.
Read," The Declaration Of Scottish Independence"


The Pope can excommunicate someone for any reason but he can be wrong moreso in politics ,if he wrongly excommunicated someone ,and they never repented they would not die in mortal sin,for they would not have any mortal sin to repent for.
Listen to the Catholic Answers video about this

Bishop Wishart gave Bruce absolution and penance,possibly Bruce may possibly have taken years to complete penance,but how could the Pope excommunicate him for the SAME sin he was absolved for and in process of completing his penance or have completed his penance ,for full forgiveness.It would mean that Bruce had to be absolved a further second time for the SAME sin,when excommunication ended.When a sin is absolved and forgiven or in process of penance being completed,it cant be absolved for a second time , for ts already been absolved

Why do you assume that the excommunication was for the sin that Wishart gave Bruce absolution for?

It would be impossible for Wishart to have “known” for certain prior to it actually happening. He might have thought or felt certain - but he could not “know” for certain. (The pope could have decided not to at the last minute; the pope could have suddenly died just prior to excommunicating; …)
Was there a Church law at the time stating a bishop was forbidden to hear the confession of a penitent requesting it if there was a chance the penitent was about to be excommunicated? If not, then Wishart broke no Church law.

If valid ,why excommunicate? for Bruce would have to confess the same murder which he was absolved for ,after excommunication was lifted.

No, he would not have to confess it again if he fulfilled the necessary conditions of a penitent.

There must be a reason in Canon Law why the Pope can excommunicate a person for serious sin,when the SAME serious sin has already been forgiven absolved…
It looks like Bruce confessed his sacrilege and was absolved by the Pope,after the excommunication was lifted,for the very SAME sacrilege that Wishart had absolved him for…This looks like two confessions and 2 absolutions,required to absolve one mortal sin

Lifting an excommunication does not absolve sin. The only way the Pope could have absolved him for the sin would have been if Bruce had gone to Confession to the Pope.

Yes, I think this is much more complicated than being excommunicated for murder in a Church. We are trying to looking at something 700+ years ago with info that may be lost to time. I’m sure the Pope didn’t get his info instantly or maybe accurately or was under the influence of English politics or felt that confessing a sin to a bishop that was supported your claim to rule rather suspicious and this is too complex of a story to be reduced down to simple reasons of why or why not.

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