jesus would never have excommunicated

So my Baptist brother has made this statement:

“The very fact that in the Catholic Church one can be “excommunicated” shows that it is apart from Christ. Jesus would not excommunicate anyone. He hung out with the sinners. He would never shun them away.”

What are all the scriptural passages that support excommunication?

Good luck arguing from Scripture alone. If he won’t accept Tradition and Magisterial teaching, he probably won’t accept any interpretation of Scripture that doesn’t agree with his beliefs.

But for discussion’s sake:

And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. (Matthew 18:17)

To deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 5:5)

Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander, whom I have delivered up to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. (I Tim. 1:20)

The following isn’t an example of excommunication, but shows that Our Lord means business:

Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matt. 5:41)

1 Timothy 1:19-20 is an example, and maybe Matthew 18:15-19. Also, people bring excommunication upon themselves, and no one else. It’s a way to shake someone awake to what they’re doing to try to reconcile themselves back to Christ.

Before proving whether our Lord wanted the Church to excommunicate people, I would ask that you challenge your friend’s presumption that excommunication is, itself, a bad or negative thing!

Frankly, by giving the Church the power to bind and loose (in so many ways), the Lord intended all which might be thought to be contained in that statement. The Church has worked it out over the ages, as the Body of Christ, as the Assembly of the Faithful called by the Holy Spirit. We’re not perfect, but excommunication has been an effective way to eliminate someone from the reception of the Sacraments, which, if they are a conscientious person, will lead them to repentance.

Excommunication is not shunning. The excommunicarted are not kicked out of the Church. They are still members and are expected to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. They may not receive the sacraments until they confess the sin that brought on the excommunication and have the ecxommunication lifted.

Hey Shaolen,

Good answers by others have already been given.

I would just add that you might want to start by making sure that you and your brother do not have different meanings or definitions for excommunication. Make sure that you agree on a definition. Some people think it means “condemned to hell” or something like that which is not true.

I wonder if your brother doesn’t have a different meaning in mind because I don’t think excommunication is a “shunning” at all. It is a disciplinary action intended to show somebody that they are living in a way that is contrary to Church teaching. And the lines of communication remain open in the hopes that the person will turn from their errant ways and return to full communion with the Church.

Shunning is more of an avoiding or ignoring or staying far away from someone.

I think there is quite a difference there.

Also, you may want to share the following link with your brother. I found it on a website called the “Baptist Bible Believer’s Website”. It has links to a bunch of commentaries from what I assume are Baptist Christians.

At this link, the commentary teaches almost exactly what the Catholic Church does about excommunication…it just doesn’t use the word “excommunication”. I think it says something like “the church will put that man outside of it’s fellowship.”

This may not be a valid enough authority for your brother, but it is kindof interesting that the same teaching is being presented by a Baptist.


Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich said that Jesus never spoke to Herod when brought before him, because Herod was in an automatic state of excommunication because of the fact that he married his brothers wife.

The Church does not go around indiscriminately excommunicating people. You really have to work hard at getting your life so disordered that you get ex’d. Such cases require a wake up call, don’t you think?

Anne Emmerich never wrote anything. All her “messages” were written by Clemens Brentano who alleges he wrote down what she said.

That is exactly right. Moreover it is worth noting that his so-called restatements of her messages have been deemed fraudulent by several sources (Father John O’ Malley A Movie, a Mystic, a Spiritual Tradition America, 15 March 2004 and Emmerich, Anne Catherine, and Clemens Brentano. The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Anvil Publishers, Georgia, 2005 pages 49-56 ), have never been approved by the church, and formed NO basis for her ultimate beatification. Rather the documents put forward by her sponsors the FSSP, focused on her personal piety and never mentioned (and in fact some say intentionally excluded) her so-called messages.

The gospels themselves refer to the fact that some of Jesus’ teachings would be divisive, at least in short term (MT 10:34). In effect this means some would be excommunicated from others. In John 6, where He preached the reality of the Eucharist, many walked away. (One can imagine a modern-day church PR type, running after them, saying “Don’t leave, the gospel must always be inclusive!”).

Excommunication is a form of honest communication. If a politician’s actions place his own soul, and that of others, in danger, it is no kindness to use euphemisms.

When my weight gain pushed me into a danger zone, my (Old-school) doctor added a diagnosis “Morbidly Obese”. This would not be my first choice of words. His young assistant will use other phrases, more emotionally pleasing. But the doctor’s accurate choice of words pushed me to modify my behavior.

Tell him excommunication is not “kicking them out of the church.” It is simply a statement saying that the person – by their own actions – have separated themselves from the flock.

The declaration of “excommunication” is meant to be medicinal. It’s like hanging a notice on their door letting them know they goofed up by separating themselves and to fix their attitude so they can be a part of the group again. It is never permanent, but meant to be rectified.

Also, excommunication doesn’t mean you don’t have an obligation to attend Mass!

It means that you can’t receive the Sacraments until you repent, and reconcile yourself with God and the Church.

I think the Scripture actually speaks clearly on the matter…

1 Cor 5:3, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed,b 4in the name of [our] Lord Jesus: when you have gathered together and I am with you in spirit with the power of the Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan* for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

1 Cor 5:11 But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person.h 12For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? 13God will judge those outside. “Purge the evil person from your midst.”

Mt 18 15 “If your brother* sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. 16* i If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17j If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.* If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

These passages show from Scripture that not only did the early Church practice excommunication of sorts, but that Jesus Christ commanded it.


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