Excommunication of repeatedly unrepentant public persons

I would like to see a return to excommunication, or even anathematizing those politicians who not only make a political platform out of opposing Church social teaching, but also dare to lecture their bishop on how they think this inspired teaching is bigoted and ought to be changed: i.e. Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, et al.

I think our failure to do as Saint Paul admonishes us to “have nothing more to do with them,” is a major impediment to our separated Protestant brethren doing what the Spirit demands in returning to the bosom of Mother Church.


Totally agree. I’m shocked why any bishop would allow communion to a publicly pro choice politican. It has always been the practice to deny communion to any public sinners.

I remember this about Tony Blair.

On learning in 1996 that the future prime minister, an Anglican, had been taking communion at his wife Cherie’s Catholic church in Islington, Cardinal Hume wrote to him telling him to desist. Only confirmed Catholics might receive communion at Catholic mass, the cardinal reminded him.


I agree with the excommunication to teach others also.

St. Augustin said the more time we spend looking at our own faults, the less we find (or get upset about) the faults of others.

I can’t help but wonder, how many Catholics would agree with the OP, but still reject one or more non-negotiable teachings of the Church. I can’t recall the exact estimates, but the percentage of those practicing the Catholic faith who are using contraceptives is pretty high.

If we focused on catechizing those people, the issues about many of the Catholic politicians that rise your ire might become non-issues, because their voting constituency would no longer be supportive (or at best complacent) about public policy that rejects Church teachings.

Pope Francis recently excommunicated Mafia members because they engage in crimes and live a very unholy life.

Catholics who advocate abortion are equally unholy at the very least.

They also believe in organized crime made legitimate.

As young people, these future politicians received severely defective teaching in all areas, especially on conscience, which is what leads them to make states or cast votes which are indefensible in view of Church teaching. Excommunication would hardly be understood by. Those excommunicated because of this confusion; re-catechizing older generations is difficult, especially since so many in younger generations have not been well-formed either.
As we can see the older Catholic colleges perpetuate these problems, and they form this sort of culturally - democratic (small d) dark magisterium. We need the Holy Spirit’s force (I say this as a non - charismatic) to rouse their consciences and revive their souls.

I’m sure they have all been told to refrain from communion by their Bishops and/or pastors. But the Bishops are not going to tell us that. That kind of conversation is confidential.

In regards to formally excommunicating them; I think the Bishops question whether it would do more harm than good.

Excommunication isn’t a punishment, it’s supposed to be a way to put the person on notice that they need to change. I think it’s doubtful that any of them would change after being excommunicated anyway. I think most of them are really cultural Catholics or already major dissent/cafeteria Catholics. An excommunication would most likely just send them to a protestant community or they would stop identifying with organized religion.

If Bishops in the US started excommunicating the so-called Obama Catholics in government; what kind of backlash would there be from non-Catholics & Catholic Democrats?

So I think that the combination of believe that an excommunication isn’t going to work, plus the potential backlash is why most bishops do not excommunicate them. Plus, historically, I know that many of them used to hope that open dialog would help change their positions.

Whether it “works” politically is irrelevant. The most precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is being desecrated by the taking of Holy Communion by the publicly rebellious. It is substantially no different than the desecration done in a black mass.

I agree with the OP, for the reason given above – allowing a publicly pro-abortion politician to receive communion is a desecration of the Eucharist.

The suggestion that focus on catechizing rebellious Catholics is almost humorous. They have already proven that they will not listen to correction. Church leaders should act to eliminate the scandal that they are causing.

**Harry Reid not a worthy Mormon? LDS Church, Dems cry foul

In the aftermath of this week’s elections, an LDS bishop in Los Angeles set off political fireworks by asserting in a blog that Mormon Sen. Harry Reid was not worthy to enter one of the faith’s temples for his support of Democratic Party stances…

Now how about a statement from our bishops on Vice President Biden.


It is not hard to find pro-choice bumper stickers on cars in church parking lots during Mass at many parishes.

After my own pastor gave his first sermon advising, among other things, that those who engaged in or supported certain immoral practices, including abortion, should reconcile with the Church in confession prior to receiving Holy Communion, a substantial minority left the parish.

Dare I suggest that some bishops question, perhaps unconsciously, whether it would reduce the Sunday collections in their dioceses?

So we have a choice between, on one hand, allowing public sinners to continue to desecrate the Eucharist, and, on the other hand, reducing collections.

I say let the sinners leave, and let the collections drop. The Church will survive.

I don’t think collections is a conscious reason. Perhaps unconscious, not a conscious reason. I simply think the fear it will do more harm than good, especially due to America’s anti-Catholic past.

In the 18th and 19th centuries (and in the early part of the 20th century in some states) it was illegal for a Catholic to vote unless they were willing to renounce the Pope. They viewed it as Catholics who were loyal to the Pope were loyal to a foreign state and not loyal to the United States.

This is what I suspect the Bishops are most afraid of. The possibility of returning to a new era where Catholics are attacked & discriminated against to keep them away from the voting booths and new “No Nothing Riots” endangering Catholics. The No Nothing Riots were where many Catholic Churches were burned and Catholics were attacked.

Let’s also remember that even today, that whenever a Catholic runs for political office, his Faith is questioned.

NOTE: I’m not saying that I think public excommunications are a bad idea. I personally would love to see Pelosi & Biden put in their place since they both claim to be practicing Catholics. But I think the reason why the Bishops don’t is because they fear it will do more harm in the US. Maybe that will change, but right now, I think that’s the real reason they don’t do it.

I saw an article, which I can’t find, that noted that mush of the push to permit remarried Catholics to receive Communion comes from the German bishops. In Germany the Government collects a mandatory tax from Catholics which is then given to the bishops. Many of the remarried are renouncing their faith to avoid the tax; so Church income is dropping.

When it comes to this discussion, I think an important question to ask ourselves is whether there might not be a reason that bishops do not generally take this approach.

I mean, I get it. Canon 915 is in Canon Law for a reason. There is potential for scandal. Etc., etc.

But the bishops are not oblivious to these concerns.

My impulse is to trust the bishops on this one. I am not a bishop (thanks be to God). I do not have the power to excommunicate people. Nor do I want such authority. I tend to think it probably wouldn’t be good for me spiritually to get too trigger happy on who I think ought to be excommunicated.

So, honestly, I don’t think it does any of us much good to sit around venting about how so-and-so should be publicly excommunicated. As I said, I’ll leave that call to the ones who have the power and authority to make it. Otherwise, I won’t worry about it.

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.