Might be dumb question--what is excommunication?

I read a thread on here today, speaking about someone being excommunicated…or that she should be excommunicated. Is this a forever thing? Can someone repent of his/her sins, and then be brought back in? If so…why aren’t all sinners excommunicated? Or…is excommunication having to do with not being permitted to partake of the Eucharist?

Please help…I’m always confused when I see this word.:blush: Thank you.

Excommunication is not permanent. There are 2 different kinds. Formal, or by the self.

No partaking of sacraments until restored again to the Church.

Excommunication is a final step in trying to get a sinner to realize the seriousness of their situation and too repent and return to the fold. They return through theSarament of Reconciliation, either with a priest or in some instances with a Bishop. While excommunicated they cannot participate in any Sacraments of the Church.

From Catholic Encyclopedia:

Excommunication (Latin ex, out of, and communio or communicatio, communion – exclusion from the communion), the principal and severest censure, is a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. Being a penalty, it supposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offence. It is also a medicinal rather than a vindictive penalty, being intended, not so much to punish the culprit, as to correct him and bring him back to the path of righteousness.

This is a favorite resource of mine :slight_smile:

Not to be nosy, (ummm) but is there someone in particular we should be praying for now? Just wondering. This sounds serious. The reasons for such a thing warrants grave concern.

excommunication is just that…being tossed from an organization because one is knowingly violating its basic tenents or beliefs. Self-excommunication is for those who also break the rules ,brag about it and yet have not been brought up for charges…many so called 'catholic,small c" politicians are thus in that catagory…its ticklish because of the so called church state issue!.Can someone be forgivven and brought back into the fold so to speak.that is beyond me…when a developing baby is aborted it is dead to this world,it cant ever come back so I dunno…that is in Gods court let Him decide…Nino

My understanding is excommunication is a formal act whereby the church excludes someone from the sacraments and also if they are in a teaching office or clerical role, removed from that role and any duties/benefits attached to it. I’ve asked about this myself and the answer was it is rarely used, and would only be formally used in a situation where someone was in a public and gravely scandalous situation which was greatly harming the church in some way. While canon law stipulates excommunication is the penalty for abortion, murder, apostacy, defiling the eucharistic hosts by some obscene way, and striking a bishop or the Pope, no doubt in relation to the individual believer this means someone who was seriously Catholic could not do any of these things with serious reflection and full consent of the will and effectively, for all intents and purposes, continue to be considered a Catholic Christian in the formal sense at least (someone in communion with the Catholic Church, Christ, and the Bishops and Pope).

I think a person with integrity would excommunicate themselves from the church or the sacraments if they felt they could not hold or act in accordance to some key teaching or law of the church, before the penalty actually had to be applied.

Much of the time a person who is excommunicated can make reparations and renounce the practices that got him/her excommunicated. It has to be at the satisfaction of the heirarchy.

Excommunicants (Excoms) are banned from the Church and her sacraments and is considered “anathema.” This is gravely serious. As Christ gave the Church the authority “…whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained…” Also Christ authorized the Church, “…whatsoever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven…”

If an Excom dies in that state they are virtually shut out from Heaven. There are “de facto” excoms. These are the ones who have not been formally declared an excom but are by virtue of their actions (evil and counter to Church creed) are in the same state although not formally decreed. The Church may be unaware of that person ans his/her actions. It is undeclared but just as damning.

Normally someone is only excommunicated if it would cause scandal to have them as a full member in good standing. A recent case is politicians who advocate legal abortions.

However normally this doesn’t apply to Joe Bloggs in the pew, who might be a nasty piece of work, but isn’t notorious.

There is of course the rule that those who take communion must confess any serious sins beforehand, but confessions are private.

Most commonly one who who takes sides against the Church that is counter to its mission on earth. It is a position that goes against the the formula the Church sets for leading us to Christ.

Politicians who support abortion are on the edge and are called by the Church to end that activity; if not, a public decree of excommunication can be promolgated.

Other things that a person with free will attaches himself to movements that are adversary to the Church and its mission towards propagation of the Faith…such as membership in the Freemasons. Masononic membership has been condemned by the succession of the popes.

Ecommuncates must rectify their actions and publicly reverse their lives BEFORE reinstatement is even considered.

Excoms are anathema to the Church. It is a reservation ticket to Hell if not reversed.

Re: Might be dumb question–what is excommunication?

Yes, it is a dumb question, because it is a dumb practice.

How do you really inforce such a practice?

Is the chruch going to send your picture and bio to every single church on the face of the planet?

An excommunicated person could just go to a new place far away and still recieve communion.

It does not mean anything today. Maybe in the past it did mean something when people held the presthood too high up on a pedestal and were actually fearful and superstitious.

It’s just not enforceable in our present day and age.

And if you want to talk about superstition, Most Italian families I encountered in the Northeast actually believe they recieve some special consideration from God if they have a family member become a Priest.

This is where :de facto excommunication" comes in. A person who lives a life counter to the laws layed out and goes against the Church is already excommunicated in the Spirit. A formal decree is not necessary when the perpetrator is oblivious to the Church fathers. A de facto excom is just as damning as a formal decree. Reiving Holy Communion in this state commits a sacrilege. The person in question is cutoff from Heaven his prayers and good works while in this state merit nothing.l his prayers are not even heard…it is THAT serious.

Could you cite where all of this is stated in the CCC?

I don’t think excommunication should be allowed. How can we ever exclude people from God?

Very well said.

The practice of the Excommunication in this present day is just a bad as a practice of a Crusade or Inquisition in the present day.

All an excomnunication is going to do is shed an ugly light on us, in which we don’t need.

One question?

Did we excommunicate the Priest Pedophiles? That act is more heinous then any other sin that could be committed. PERIOD.

1463 Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them. In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication.69


I can’t recall the thread now…I think there is a politician who someone was saying that he/she thinks she should be excommunicated. I can’t remember now.:crying:

I always wondered this myself. I didn’t think the RCC ‘did this’ anymore…:confused:

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.