What is excommunication? When would the Pope use it?

What is excommunication, and when should the Pope use it?

newadvent.org/cathen/05678a.htm

In short, it is the acknowledgement that an individual has already willingly separated from the communion of the Catholic Church.

I remember being interested when I learned that excommunication is more of a ‘wake up call’ than a GET OUT FOREVER sort of thing. Secular media certainly portrays it as the latter.

Yes, this. It is a public statement to the effect that this person has removed themselves from communion with the Church.

In our rush to point out that excommunication is done medicinally for the good of the excommunicate, we shouldn’t forget too, though, that excommunication is also done for the good of the communion. If it is clearly stated that John Smith has shut himself out of communion with the Church, then I know not to listen to John Smith, at least as far as his theological musings are concerned.

Let the law answer this question:

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.

Excommunicable offenses include:

Ordaining a bishop without papal mandate;
Manifest heresy and schism;
Breaking the seal of confession
Knowingly and wilfully procuring an abortion;
Desecrating the Blessed Sacrament;
Physically attacking the Holy Father.

It’s not just the Pope that uses this; many excommunications are automatic, others can be imposed by the bishop.

Are excommunications infallible? If they are not, couldn’t it turn out that a person was excommunicated for theological musings that you should have listened to?

no excommunications are not infallible. If it turns out the person was excommunicated in error, hopefully it can be resolved in their lifetime. If not, it still doesn’t damn the individual to hell necessarily. Final judgment is always up to God.

Then, O excommunication, where is thy sting?

The one excommunicated feels its prick

Because if I were excommunicated, I would know that I can’t receive either absolution or Communion, and since I believe in dying a good and holy death, this would probably prompt me to repent and seek the lifting of the punishment so that I can be absolved.

catholic.com/quickquestions/if-there-is-a-baptism-of-desire-is-there-a-reconciliation-of-desire

But it seems to me that an unjustified excommunication would be the sort of “not-your-own-fault” obstacle to confession that would permit you to have perfect contrition.

Depends on the individual, who is anyone to know or judge?

Why excommunicate them in the first place then?

People aren’t excommunicated for “musings”. ccc.scborromeo.org.master.com/texis/master/search/?sufs=0&q=excommunication&xsubmit=Search&s=SS

Martin Luther was excommunicated. No excommunication is meant to be permanent. A person can always repent and change their direction.

Doesn’t matter. If an excommunication is unjustly imposed on me by a legitimate authority for a clearly execommunicable offense (even though I’m innocent), I’m still validly excommunicated and can’t be validly absolved. If the excommunication was automatic (latae sententiae), then it’s definitely my own fault (because the innocent cannot incur a latae sententiae penalty). Therefore if I’m in mortal sin, there’s a very real danger I could die in mortal sin. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take. What I would do is appeal the penalty using the provisions I have under the law. I won’t go to hell because I’m excommunicated, but because of unforgiven mortal sin.

Never to doubt God’s mercy of course, but then if I die in mortal sin because I did not work to get the excommunication lifted, then that’s indeed my own fault. And of course, if I’m in danger of death and a priest is present, he does have the authority to lift the penalty and absolve me before I die. But can I really bet that I will die in such a peaceful manner?

That said, I think it’s extremely rare that a ferendae sententiae excommunication is imposed without the offender already having incurred the penalty latae sententiae. Usually, the decree declares the excommunication, turning the penalty from latae sententiae to ferendae sententiae and activating the provisions of can. 1331 sec. 2.

I used the term “musing” because someone earlier in the thread used that term. Here is an example of priests who were excommunicated for preaching that slavery (as it was practiced in their area) was unjust:

One was a Spaniard, Francisco de Jaca, the other a Frenchman, Epiphane de Moirans. Both had been excommunicated in Havana in 1681 and subsequently arrested for behaviour which had resulted, so reported the local authorities, “in the gravest scandals”. They had preached that “the owners of Negro slaves should liberate them and their children and pay them for their labours”, and they had refused to give absolution to those who did not promise to do this. Both Capuchins had written defences of their position. Fray Francisco’s statement is a vibrant denunciation of the abuses and injustices that he had witnessed; Pere Epiphane was a competent canon lawyer and his statement marshals at length the case against the Atlantic slave trade.

past.oxfordjournals.org/content/115/1/52.full.pdf

Should they have repented and condoned slavery?

I’m starting to read the book you referrence

books.google.com/books?id=jeJMGQiSQ7AC&pg=PA21&lpg=PA21&dq=francisco+de+Jaca,+excommunication&source=bl&ots=ORVg9iK1Md&sig=FunBVM5f8VRCQmZs3dTIipunLH4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ImbIU8-9GpSeyATNw4GQCA&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=francisco%20de%20Jaca%2C%20excommunication&f=false

trying to find out who did the excommunication, considering the Church position against slavery. I’ll have to get back to you :wink:

I saw a distinction being made within slavery. Those who are innocent people being enslaved , which the Church is against and those who appear not to be innocent being made slaves. It’s the 2nd catagory that appears not to be condemned. I’m thinking in that case prisoners who are not innocent, and are put into work programs for example.

How are you reading it? books.google.com/books?id=jeJMGQiSQ7AC&pg=PA21&lpg=PA21&dq=francisco+de+Jaca,+excommunication&source=bl&ots=ORVg9iK1Md&sig=FunBVM5f8VRCQmZs3dTIipunLH4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ImbIU8-9GpSeyATNw4GQCA&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=francisco%20de%20Jaca%2C%20excommunication&f=false

It wasn’t clear to me why Francisco de Jaca, and Epiphane de Moirans were excommunicated for their “behavior” or who excommunicated them.

Capuchin Champions of Negro Emancipation in Cuba:

The provisor, or vicar, of the bishop of Cuba admonished the two friars to cease such preaching… but they advised him that they were not subject to the jurisdiction of the local bishop in these matters.

When the complaints of the slave-holders increased, the provisor issued orders that the Capuchins be taken to a monastery in the city in order to silence them. He also threatened to suspend their faculties of preaching and hearing confessions if they would not obey his orders. Relying on papal exemption, they paid no attention to the episcopal official. Thereupon the provisor carried out his threat by withdrawing from them the faculties of preaching and confessing. When this did not stop them, he took the extreme measure of declaring them excommunicated.

It appears the following passage you selected, answers that question you asked (emphasis mine)

The provisor, or vicar, of the bishop of Cuba admonished the two friars to cease such preaching… but they advised him that they were not subject to the jurisdiction of the local bishop in these matters.

When the complaints of the slave-holders increased, the provisor issued orders that the Capuchins be taken to a monastery in the city in order to silence them. He also threatened to suspend their faculties of preaching and hearing confessions if they would not obey his orders. Relying on papal exemption, they paid no attention to the episcopal official. Thereupon the provisor carried out his threat by withdrawing from them the faculties of preaching and confessing. When this did not stop them, he took the extreme measure of declaring them excommunicated.

The part of the book I previously quoted, books.google.com/books?id=jeJ…cation&f=false showed the Church is opposed to slavery. Hence as you point out in that quote, based on what the Church teaches about slavery, papal exemption for those 2 Capuchins, from following the local bishop was granted. This was obviously an example of a bishop who was not upholding Church teaching. I’m actually surprised the bishop as a result, didn’t get the hook from the pope.

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