What is punishable by excommunication other than abortion? Is contraception? I know it was at different points under some popes. Are these things changed at eccummenical councils or just by the pontificate alone?
Scroll down to Book VI, Sanctions in the Church:
There are many things that are punishable by various penalties up to and including excommunication. Note, there are two ways someone can receive a penalty-- it is imposed by a juridic act or it is an effect of the law itself.
To answer your question: No, contraception use does not automatically excommunicate someone.
Now the thing is is lifting an excommunication done at some times only by a priest, Bishop, or the pope? I am pretty sure a priest can lift excommunication for abortion. Absolution for a sexual accomplice would be for a priest only is sounds like.
The law or the published sentence will state who can lift what for whom. A person who has authority to lift excommunication, such as a bishop, can delegate to a priest. The priest only has the ability to do so if specifically given that delegation.
A priest can remit an undeclared latae sententiae penalty for the procurement of an abortion where it would be burdensome for the person to remain in serious sin while seeking absolution from the bishop. The priest must within 30 days seek the permission of the bishop (or other competent superior) to definitively remit the penalty, and the priest may maintain the anonymity of the person who made the confession. See below.
Can. 1357 §1. Without prejudice to the prescripts of cann. 508 and 976, a confessor can remit in the internal sacramental forum an undeclared latae sententiae censure of excommunication or interdict if it is burdensome for the penitent to remain in the state of grave sin during the time necessary for the competent superior to make provision.
§2. In granting the remission, the confessor is to impose on the penitent, under the penalty of reincidence, the obligation of making recourse within a month to the competent superior or to a priest endowed with the faculty and the obligation of obeying his mandates; in the meantime he is to impose a suitable penance and, insofar as it is demanded, reparation of any scandal and damage; however, recourse can also be made through the confessor, without mention of the name.
Here’s one reason why I myself don’t read much cannon law. Obviously some out there understand it much better than I. What is reincidence? Do they put the sin back on you? So since he has 30 days to get with the bishop can the priest absolve completely? Otherwise there is still a question of complete absolution?
Also, in almost every diocese in the US (I don’t know one that does not), the bishop has delegated the authority to lift an abortion excommunication to his priests, so there is no need for any action over and above a good confession and acceptance of God’s forgiveness.
Reincidence refers to the penalty being reinstated for failing to obtain the final remission from the Bishop. The penalty being imposed is by virtue of Church law. The Church can decide to impose a penalty - separation from the sacraments - and can similarly decide how that penalty is to be removed. So it isn’t exactly the same thing as absolution of the underlying violation of divine law, which taking a human life certainly is. The priest may only conditionally remit the penalty until definitive permission is received from the bishop. An additional confession is not necessary.
The bishop can certainly designate faculties to do this.
Ferendae Sententiae Excommunication (requires formal proceedings):
Canon 1378: The pretended celebration of the Eucharist or of sacramental Confession
Canon 1388: Violation of the seal of Confession by an interpreter
Latae Sententiae Excommunication (automatic):
Canon 1364: Apostasy, heresy or schism
Canon 1367: Violation of the Sacred Species
Canon 1370: Laying violent hands on the Pope
Canon 1378: Absolution of an accomplice
Canon 1382: Episcopal consecration without authorization from the Holy See
Canon 1388: Violation of the seal of Confession by a confessor
Canon 1398: Procuring abortion