What are grounds for being excommunicated from the Church? Are they the same in America and abroad? What are some examples that would get one excommunicated?


Rooting for anyone to beat Notre Dame in football. So that pretty much includes the Big Ten, the SEC and Southern Cal. :):):slight_smile:

Really though, the Catechism of the CC should have your answers. Procuring an abortion, actively assisting in an abortion, public desecration of the sacraments, public denial of the doctrines and dogmas of the CC, are some, but not all. I think a catholic can be excommunicated for physically attacking a priest. (thought I read that one somewhere, once )

Canon law is for the universal church, it’s not nation specific.

News reports yesterday stated that the Vatican is going to excommunicate invalidly ordained women priests and the bishops that “consecrate” them.

And remember, excommunication is a vehicle for re-communication.


Offenses and sanctions are outlined in the Code of Canon Law. For the Latin Rite, see particularly Book VI:


The Latin Rite has a code that applies to all Latin Rite (Roman) Catholics.

The Eastern Rite Catholics have a separate code of canon law that applies to them:


See the link above to Canon Law.


Note that while the rules are the same world-wide, some bishops may enforce them more stringently than others. Some excommunications are automatic, some are by the Pope/Vatican, others may be by individual bishops who see a particular problem in their diocese.


Umm… I can confirm that one. My grandmother did it! :blush:


See here for a Wikipedia article about this.


Can. 1321 §1. No one is punished unless the external violation of a law or precept, committed by the person, is gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence.

§2. A penalty established by a law or precept binds the person who has deliberately violated the law or precept; however, a person who violated a law or precept by omitting necessary diligence is not punished unless the law or precept provides otherwise.

§3. When an external violation has occurred, imputability is presumed unless it is otherwise apparent.

Can. 1322 Those who habitually lack the use of reason are considered to be incapable of a delict, even if they violated a law or precept while seemingly sane.

Can. 1323 The following are not subject to a penalty when they have violated a law or precept:

1/ a person who has not yet completed the sixteenth year of age;

2/ a person who without negligence was ignorant that he or she violated a law or precept; inadvertence and error are equivalent to ignorance;

3/ a person who acted due to physical force or a chance occurrence which the person could not foresee or, if foreseen, avoid;

4/ a person who acted coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;

5/ a person who acted with due moderation against an unjust aggressor for the sake of legitimate self defense or defense of another;

6/ a person who lacked the use of reason, without prejudice to the prescripts of cann. ⇒ 1324, §1, n. 2 and ⇒ 1325;

7/ a person who without negligence thought that one of the circumstances mentioned in nn. 4 or 5 was present.

Can. 1324 §1. The perpetrator of a violation is not exempt from a penalty, but the penalty established by law or precept must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was committed:


Can. 1324 §1. The perpetrator of a violation is not exempt from a penalty, but the penalty established by law or precept must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was committed:

1/ by a person who had only the imperfect use of reason;

2/ by a person who lacked the use of reason because of drunkenness or another similar culpable disturbance of mind;

3/ from grave heat of passion which did not precede and hinder all deliberation of mind and consent of will and provided that the passion itself had not been stimulated or fostered voluntarily;

4/ by a minor who has completed the age of sixteen years;

5/ by a person who was coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience if the delict is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;

6/ by a person who acted without due moderation against an unjust aggressor for the sake of legitimate self defense or defense of another;

7/ against someone who gravely and unjustly provokes the person;

8/ by a person who thought in culpable error that one of the circumstances mentioned in ⇒ can. 1323, nn. 4 or 5 was present;

9/ by a person who without negligence did not know that a penalty was attached to a law or precept;

10/ by a person who acted without full imputability provided that the imputability was grave.

§2. A judge can act in the same manner if another circumstance is present which diminishes the gravity of a delict.

§3. In the circumstances mentioned in §1, the accused is not bound by a latae sententiae penalty.


Can. 1325 Crass, supine, or affected ignorance can never be considered in applying the prescripts of cann. ⇒ 1323 and ⇒ 1324; likewise drunkenness or other disturbances of mind cannot be considered if they are sought deliberately in order to commit or excuse a delict, nor can passion which is voluntarily stimulated or fostered.

Can. 1326 §1. A judge can punish the following more gravely than the law or precept has established:

1/ a person who after a condemnation or after the declaration of a penalty continues so to offend that from the circumstances the obstinate ill will of the person can prudently be inferred;

2/ a person who has been established in some dignity or who has abused a position of authority or office in order to commit the delict;

3/ an accused person who, when a penalty has been established against a delict based on negligence, foresaw the event and nonetheless omitted precautions to avoid it, which any diligent person would have employed.

§2. If the penalty established in the cases mentioned in §1 is latae sententiae, another penalty or a penance can be added.

Can. 1327 Particular law can establish other exempting, mitigating, or aggravating circumstances besides the cases in ⇒ cann. 1323-1326, either by general norm or for individual delicts. Likewise, circumstances can be established in a precept which exempt from, mitigate, or increase a penalty established by the precept.

Can. 1328 §1. A person who has done or omitted something in order to commit a delict and yet, contrary to his or her intent, did not commit the delict is not bound by the penalty established for a completed delict unless the law or precept provides otherwise.

§2. If the acts or omissions are by their nature conducive to the execution of the delict, however, their perpetrator can be subjected to a penance or penal remedy unless the perpetrator voluntarily ceased from carrying out the delict which had been initiated. If scandal or some other grave damage or danger resulted, however, the perpetrator, even if he or she voluntarily desisted, can be punished with a just penalty, although one lesser than that established for a completed delict.

Can. 1329 §1. If ferendae sententiae penalties are established for the principal perpetrator, those who conspire together to commit a delict and are not expressly named in a law or precept are subject to the same penalties or to others of the same or lesser gravity.

§2. Accomplices who are not named in a law or precept incur a latae sententiae penalty attached to a delict if without their assistance the delict would not have been committed, and the penalty is of such a nature that it can affect them; otherwise, they can be punished by ferendae sententiae penalties.

Can. 1330 A delict which consists in a declaration or in another manifestation of will, doctrine, or knowledge must not be considered completed if no one perceives the declaration or manifestation.






Can. 1331 §1. An excommunicated person is forbidden:

1/ to have any ministerial participation in celebrating the sacrifice of the Eucharist or any other ceremonies of worship whatsoever;

2/ to celebrate the sacraments or sacramentals and to receive the sacraments;

3/ to exercise any ecclesiastical offices, ministries, or functions whatsoever or to place acts of governance.

§2. If the excommunication has been imposed or declared, the offender:

1/ who wishes to act against the prescript of §1, n. 1 must be prevented from doing so, or the liturgical action must be stopped unless a grave cause precludes this;

2/ invalidly places acts of governance which are illicit according to the norm of §1, n. 3;

3/ is forbidden to benefit from privileges previously granted;

4/ cannot acquire validly a dignity, office, or other function in the Church;

5/ does not appropriate the benefits of a dignity, office, any function, or pension, which the offender has in the Church.


Can. 1332 The prohibitions mentioned in ⇒ can. 1331, §1, nn. 1 and 2 bind an interdicted person. If the interdict has been imposed or declared, however, the prescript of ⇒ can. 1331, §2, n. 1 must be observed.

Can. 1333 §1. Suspension, which can affect only clerics, prohibits:

1/ either all or some acts of the power of orders;

2/ either all or some acts of the power of governance;

3/ the exercise of either all or some of the rights or functions attached to an office.

§2. A law or precept can establish that a suspended person cannot place acts of governance validly after a condemnatory or declaratory sentence.

§3. A prohibition never affects:

1/ the offices or the power of governance which are not under the power of the superior who establishes the penalty;

2/ the right of residence which the offender may have by reason of office;

3/ the right to administer goods which may pertain to the office of the person suspended if the penalty is latae sententiae.

§4. A suspension prohibiting a person from receiving benefits, a stipend, pensions, or any other such thing entails the obligation of making restitution for whatever has been received illegitimately, even if in good faith.

Can. 1334 §1. Within the limits established by the preceding canon, either the law or precept itself or the sentence or decree which imposes the penalty defines the extent of a suspension.

§2. A law, but not a precept, can establish a latae sententiae suspension without additional determination or limitation; such a penalty has all the eVects listed in ⇒ can. 1333, §1.

Can. 1335 If a censure prohibits the celebration of sacraments or sacramentals or the placing of an act of governance, the prohibition is suspended whenever it is necessary to care for the faithful in danger of death. If a latae sententiae censure has not been declared, the prohibition is also suspended whenever a member of the faithful requests a sacrament or sacramental or an act of governance; a person is permitted to request this for any just cause.




Can. 1339 §1. An ordinary, personally or through another, can warn a person who is in the proximate occasion of committing a delict or upon whom, after investigation, grave suspicion of having committed a delict has fallen.

§2. He can also rebuke a person whose behavior causes scandal or a grave disturbance of order, in a manner accommodated to the special conditions of the person and the deed.

§3. The warning or rebuke must always be established at least by some document which is to be kept in the secret archive of the curia.

Can. 1340 §1. A penance, which can be imposed in the external forum, is the performance of some work of religion, piety, or charity.

§2. A public penance is never to be imposed for an occult transgression.

§3. According to his own prudent judgment, an ordinary can add penances to the penal remedy of warning or rebuke


So if you are excommunicated do you get some sort of official letter from your Bishop or what? When we see these announcements in the news have those individuals been notified that they are excommunicated?


Having an abortion carries an automatic excommunication. No document needed.


That could be a possibility. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln gave a warning in the Diocesan Newspaper that if you were a member of certain organizations. That you had a window of time to leave before you were excommunicated. If you did not do this you were therefore excommunicated. In most cases however such as abortion or helping procure one that is a latiae sentiae excommunicaton or automatic.


So if you were a member of CTA and left Lincoln, Nebraska before the window of opportunity closed you could remain a member and not be excommunicated? If you were excommunicated in Lincoln could you just move to another Diocese and not be excommunicated anymore?


It’s not automatic if you didn’t know about it.You must know if something is an excommunicable offense for it to take effect.


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.