Question on Abortion and Murder


Simple question hoping for a direct answer.

Why is Abortion an automatic excommunication where you need the Bishop to grant absolution but not murder of those of us outside of the womb?

I.E. if one commits murder they can confess to just anyone that had the office for it. Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Priest, I THINK but could be wrong even Deacons from an Eastern Parish that are in communion with the Holy See.

If I am wrong about the Deacon thing please only answer if you are going to answer the one on Abortion / murder I don’t want this to go into a debate over who can confess.


Are you sure that murder doesn’t carry the same automatic excommunication?

I do know that a man cannot be accepted to Ordination if he’s a murderer. Would it be worthwhile to post to Apologetics?


Well in RCIA they said it only applied to abortion haven’t seen murder as on of those things that carries an automatic excommunication.


Can. 1397 A person who commits a homicide or who kidnaps, detains, mutilates, or gravely wounds a person by force or fraud is to be punished with the privations and prohibitions mentioned in can. 1336 according to the gravity of the delict. Homicide against the persons mentioned in can. 1370, however, is to be punished by the penalties established there.
Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.


Perhaps because abortion is the murder of an innocent and defenseless child and perhaps further because this person is at that moment without sin, having not yet been born into the world?




[sign1] WHAT!? [/sign1]

Umm uhhh yeah so why is murder treated different from abortion… Please without the wall O’ text.

Sorry that comes off colder than I meant but I’m looking for a direct answer and this is the kinda thing I wanted to avoid.


Abortion stands alone because it is the deliberate, premeditated killing of an innocent who has no chance to reason with its killer and no chance of self-defense.

Other kinds of murder involve a multitude of variables, and thus penalties must be dealt with case by case.



I would imagine b/c not all homicides of the “born” are murder, and all abortions are clearly murder.

With a regular homicide, there is probably a need to investigate the circumstances to determine the degree of culpability, so an “automatic” excommunication is unwise.

With an abortion, there is no need to investigate, it is always murder.

God Bless


Sorry but last I checked it does not require an investigation to determine if someone sinned. After all one can get an abortion in total secrecy.

So I ask again why is abortion an automatic excommunication. While the willful and direct taking of a born persons life is not?


Here is my opinion in answer to the OP’s question.

The reason is that abortion has become casual and many people do not view it as wrong. The Church, in response to this change in society, altered the canonical penalties for abortion in an effort to remind people how grave and serious it is.

Excommunication is a juridical function and not doctrinally based. Therefore the Church can change the penalty for it. However, the Church can never say that abortion is acceptable as that would be a doctrinal change.


I’m guessing that you’re speaking of clear 1st degree (premeditated) murder in order to clarify a moral distinction.

I’m not sure, except that perhaps an unborn child is THE most vulnerable and dependant class of human being. I’d guess, though, that premeditated murder of, say, a 2 month old infant isn’t much different in terms of vulnerability and dependancy.

Good question. :shrug:


This is incorrect. From the moment of conception, we have original sin upon our souls. On the question of abortion and murder; abortion is far more grave a sin because the life of an innocent with no way to defend themselves is being taken.


Getting back on topic, this is based on Canon Law. If I can re-state the OP’s question:
Given that if you have an abortion you are automatically excommunicated.However, if you deliver that baby live and then immediately kill it, you are not automatically excommunicated. Why?First, let’s settle on what we agree on: Both acts are grievous mortal sins. (I will not use “homicide” to avoid side discussions related to civil law and the status of the fetus).

To understand the reason why one is an automatic excommunication and the other is not, you have to understand what excommunication is. It is NOT a punishment for a wrong doing. It is “tough love” to force the sinner to acknowledge what they have done and to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with Christ through His Church. Excommunication does not throw one out of the Church. It bars one from the sacraments until they reconcile.

The taking of life is not always sinful. For example, it would not be a sin to take the life of someone who was trying to kill my family or to take the life of a combatant in a just war. So it would be problematic for the Church to throw a blanket excommunication writ on the taking of a human life.

Abortion, on the other hand, is by definition always the taking of an innocent soul and can never not be a sin. That being the case, there is no “grey area” that can be argued and formal automatic excommunication can be applied in all cases.

[FONT=Arial]Does that help any?[/FONT]

See also this thread:


I have trouble accepting that reasoning for the following reasons:

  1. Abortion is the murder of an innocent and defenseless child but so would murdering a 1 month old infant as well and according to the Canon it wouldn’t have the same penalties.

  2. It sets up levels of human dignity and value. The right to life exists for all people (without getting into the DP argument).


I thought that the Bishops has extended the ability to lift an automatic excommunication to the priest in the confessional for the most part all over the US anyway.


I was recently granted absolution from a priest for an abortion that I had before I became Catholic.

He didn’t make me do any penance because he felt that I had already been through enough by feeling so guilty and emotional over what I had done.


The lifting of excommunication is indeed reserved to bishops only. However, nearly every if not all bishops (around the world?), for the sake of mercy, have extended to their priests who hear confession the faculties to lift the latae sentie excommuncation for abortion. So yes, you are correct.


I’m missing something here. Someone just sent me a link on which I read that one is not automatically excommunicated for abortion. Who does the excommunication apply to? The woman having the abortion, or the abortionist?


This is from the Catechism, the official teachings of the Church.

**2272 **Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,” “by the very commission of the offense,” and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

"latae sententiae"** is the automatic part. People excommunicate themselves by simply doing this.

And who is excommunicated, you ask? Everyone who formally cooperates. That would include the entire staff at the clinic, the mother herself, a fiend who may have driven her, anyone who suggested, counseled or encouraged her to kill her baby, and anyone who knowingly helped pay for it and anyone who made it legal or possible.


Ok then. On another thread I said catholicism was confusing - here’s why I think that - from the thread I referred to:

So in actually fact, the mother IS excommunicated, if she is a catholic :confused:

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