What is excommunication?

Does someone who is excommunicated cease being Catholic or are they simply cut off from the benefits of being Catholic?

Dear Bill,

To be excommunicated is to remain a Catholic, but a Catholic for whom active participation in the sacramental life of the Church is denied until such time as the person repents and receives absolution. If the person is a priest he may not celebrate the sacraments or preach or publicly represent the Church in any way. (Canon 1331)

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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