Have I excommunicated myself?

I have never felt so afraid in my life. Within the last weeks, I have been feeling quite a bit of anxiety because of some things that Pope Francis has been saying, and I’m wondering if I have committed the seriously grave sin of heresy? I did not know that it was a mortal sin, much less a sin worthy of excommunication to question the authority of the Pope. I do not believe that I have directly questioned his authority, but I have recently wondered if the Pope’s teachings are consistent with past Church teaching (prior to knowing that it was sinful). Please help! I’m horribly troubled by this offense and need discernment. Have I committed mortal sin? Have I excommunicated myself? Thank you, and please pray for me!

You are not excommunicated for having questions. Canon law does not list that as something punishable by excommunication. Heresy is “the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (canon 751). Notice heresy is not simply being mistaken about something or not fully understanding something. It is a deliberate and obstinate denial of a dogma of the faith. We are free to question/discuss if the Pope worded something in the best possible way.

It appears that you have questions about Church teaching and tradition. There is nothing wrong with that, you should seek out the answers. The only thing we need to be careful of is letting pride take over. Sometimes we can think that we know more than we do and that leads us to make assumptions which could be incorrect. While having questions and seeking answers, we still need to trust that the Holy Spirit is who is guiding the Church.

Put your mind at ease and trust in God to guide His Church.

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