I came into the church 11 years ago. I had reservations because I did not believe purgatory and believed in faith alone for salvation. I was told that the church affirmed faith alone and no longer taught purgatory so I joined. Of course this turned out to be false, but I still believe in faith alone and do not believe in purgatory. I know the arguments for and against and am not looking for an argument or debate. I was looking at the 1983 code of canon law and I believe I am now excommunicated especially since I teach faith alone and deny purgtory. Am I now excomunicated? Thank you in advance for your response.
Talk to your pastor, not strangers on the internet.
Theologically, you might investigate Catholicism from the Eastern Catholic perspective, since Eastern Catholic / Orthodox theology does not emphasize purgatory (though it should not be construed to deny it necessarily either).
What part of the code do you think applies in your case?
Am I now excomunicated?
What difference would it make?
Being excommunicated does not remove Catholicism. It does not remove you from the Church. It is meant as a wake up call.
Thank you in advance for your response.
I am afraid that you don’t know quite as much as you think that you do. Keep studying.
I was looking at the 1983 code of canon law and I believe I am now excommunicated especially since I teach faith alone and deny purg[a]tory. Am I now excom[m]unicated? Thank you in advance for your response.
Short answer: no.
Excommunication is something that is so great a censure that it requires a few things from you. In regard to heresy, you must obstinately deny that a divinely revealed truth is indeed true (such as the divinity of Jesus) and refuse to be corrected on the matter due to your obstinacy.
This is referenced here: catholic.com/tracts/the-great-heresies
You must also know that your heresy (or any other excommunicable offense) carries the penalty of an ecclesiastical censure. If you were not aware at the time, you are not excommunicated. If you are not sure you are excommunicated, you are not. There are other factors that keep one from being excommunicated as well, such as severe fear or being a certain age. Excommunication is so weighty a penalty that you know very well you have incurred it, and then need to seek out a priest to get it lifted.
Even some Protestants believe in purgatory. Would you really want to bypass the Church and her experience starting at the beginnings of Christianity in order to base your beliefs on mere human opinion? If there is no such Church then I’d submit that we can know exactly nothing of much importance regarding the faith. Because anyone who holds to SS bases their beliefs on private interpretation-and often disagree with others who likewise adhere to SS, basing their beliefs on* their *private interpretations.
May i ask you a few questions? Since you have already received some good replies.
Regarding faith alone, what is your description of faith alone?
Are these the only differences you have with the Church’s teachings?
Of the Church’s teachings that you accept, what is the reason you accept them on?
There is a difference in saying “works are necessary” and “saved by works”. We are not saved by works, for the grace of faith is a pure gift from God and not obtained by any work a natural person could do. Grace means gift.
But we are not saved without works, which makes them necessary. For instance, not doing a necessary good work will remove sanctifying grace, like not feeding someone who is starving. So “works are necessary” and “saved by works” sorta sound alike but they are quite different ideas.
For a lot of Protestants, they too believe work is necessary, even those who hold OSAS. For they too would say that reading of the Bible is necessary which is a work. If not, then the Bible is not needed or never needs to be read, for every book in the bible is a piece of work by an inspired human author.
As far as purgatory being real, we have always believed in limbo, a place of the dead before Christ who were good. Those in limbo were awaiting the gates of heaven to be opened so they could enter heaven. In the Creed, “…Jesus descended into hell, and …”, hell being another name for limbo. So if we believe in limbo, which is another place different than heaven and hell, then why not purgatory being a place different than heaven or hell? Another place where the good are waiting to enter heaven.
For any soul with blemish or spot may not enter the kingdom of heaven as it says in the book of Revelation. And since no human is perfect (the just man sins 7 times a day), then if no purgatory, then everyone must go to hell.
As for excommunication, a person cannot incur excommunication if they do not know about it.
Well you should believe in Purgatory.
Biblical and Jewish Traditional Beliefs About Purgatory
Thank you for your clarification. You are correct. Due to one’s Baptism, one remains Catholic even if excommunicated. That said, one who knows they are excommunicated should contact a priest and work on having the censure lifted so they may enjoy the reception of the Sacraments.
To the OP:
“One cannot unknowingly be excommunicated or incur any kind of ecclesiastical censure.” - Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz
You would be considered a heretic, but I am not sure if you are actually excommunicated even though heresy carries a sentence of automatic excommunication. Here is an EWTN article that may help you.
If you still don’t believe in Purgatory or the necessity of good works, you need to keep studying the catechism & apologetics while asking the Holy Ghost & the Blessed Virgin to help you. It is not a light matter to embrace heresy, so you need to settle this as soon as possible.
Since you do not seem to have had true knowledge of the Catholic faith when you made your profession of faith, was your entry into the Catholic Church even valid? Are you even a Catholic? Definitely something you should talk to your pastor about.
What is the definition of the term “some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith”?
Even some Protestants accept the theological merits of Purgatory. Here is one:
Purgatory for Everyone
By Jerry L. Walls
Jerry L. Walls is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is the author of Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy (forthcoming from Oxford University Press), from which this essay is adapted.
Thank you all for your responses. The art of canon law I think applies to me is number 1364 which states, “Can. 1364 §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; in addition, a cleric can be punished with the penalties mentioned in ⇒ can. 1336, §1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.” I pulled this from the code of canon law on the Vatican website. To those who are telling me to talk to my pastor I assure you that I have. I have also spoken to two other priest, a deacon, and even the Bishop. The only advice I am given is to pray about it, and I have.
I hope Whemswort the following quotes will help you with the reconciliation between Faith and works.
Our salvation is God’s free gift received by faith, we can add nothing to it and we cannot improve it.
I work FREELY, WITHOUT any EXTERNAL COERCION or INTERNAL NECESSITY out of SHEER LOVE to the GLORY of God NOT for my salvation.
JUSTIFICATION IN CATHOLIC TEACHING by Jimmy Akin
Quote: “The essence of supernatural love is unselfishness—doing something NOT BECAUSE IT WILL HELP US SOMEHOW, but because we want to do it out of SHEER LOVE for the other person, whether that person is God or one of our fellow human beings out of the love of God.
This is THE ONLY KIND of love that ultimately pleases God and therefore the ONLY KIND that ultimately gets us a reward IN heaven.” End quote. Emphasize added.
Pope Benedict XVI: ‘Luther Was Right’
“Luther would have been amazed at the efforts of the Vatican today to put the Bible back into the heart of the Roman Catholic Church,” writes Jeff Fountain of Christian Today.
Fountain reports that during Pope Benedict XVI’s recent weekly public addresses in St. Peter’s Square, he quoted Martin Luther in declaring “Sola fide,” that salvation is by faith alone.
According to this report, Benedict affirmed that Luther had correctly translated Paul’s words as ‘justified by faith alone’ – the well known sola fide.
It was disagreement over the doctrine of salvation by faith that sparked the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, splitting Christianity in Western Europe. “Yet, said the Pope, it was indeed biblical to say, as did Luther, that it was the faith of a Christian, not his works that saved him.”
By defining “faith” as “identification with Christ expressed in love for God and neighbor,” Pope Benedict qualified his statement, noting that the Apostle Paul had written about such faith in his letters, especially the one to the Philippians.
According to Fountain, the Pope highlighted the fact that prior to his Damascus Road conversion, Paul had strictly adhered to all the Pharisaical laws and rules. However, after meeting the Lord Jesus in his vision, Paul began leading a lifestyle of faith alone.
“We began to dream about how Christians in Europe could celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 - less than nine years away - as a prophetic statement by Catholics and Protestants together that the Word that once divided us is now uniting us again.”
Fountain concludes joyfully, “That would be a giant step toward the fulfilment of Luther’s original dream of a Bible-centred Church!”
JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church
3/17 Justification is SOLELY due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we RECEIVE IN FAITH, and NEVER CAN MERIT IT ANY WAY.
4/25 We confess together that sinners are justified by faith in the saving action of God in Christ. WHATEVER in the JUSTIFIED PRECEDES or FOLLOWS the free gift of faith is NEITHER THE BASIS of justification NOR MERITS it.
4/27.The Catholic understanding also sees faith as fundamental in justification. For without faith, no justification can take place. Thus justifying grace never becomes a human possession. While Catholic teaching emphasizes the renewal of life by justifying grace, this RENEVAL in FAITH, HOPE, LOVE is always dependent on God’s unfathomable grace and contributes NOTHING to JUSTIFICATION.
4/37 We confess together that good works - a Christian life lived in faith, hope and love - FOLLOW JUSTIFICATION and ARE ITS FRUITS. Emphasize mine.
HOW TO READ THE NEW TESTAMENT By Etienne Charpentier
Nihil obstate: Father Anton Cowan
Imprimatur: Monsignor John Crowley, VG Westminster, 28 May 1985
Quote: “There is ONE CENTRAL QUESTION here: how can we become RIGHTEOUS and be SAVED?
We NOT justified by what we do (works, observing law) but by FAITH IN CHRIST.
Salvation is NOT a matter of achieving but RECEIVING IT FREELY from God hands, in faith.” End quote. Emphasize mine.
Hi there WH, we all have to double check this and that area of our belief as we go along.
Justification by faith and purgatory don’t affect each other and vice versa.
Justification by faith refers to our prior sins.
Now we are called to works for the owner of the vineyard is looking for fruits from his tree and that is why he has set the gardener to tend it.
Only God will know when our time comes, how much each will be saved by our justification by faith in relation to our prior sins, and how much by our fruitfulness since that time.
According to I Cor 3:15 any whose works don’t stand testing will be saved as if from fire himself.
We have to examine the quality of our sharing the spiritual gifts with those around us and letting them share them with us, and the quality of our interceding. Rather than precise rule-keeping for its own sake.
If your pastor wanted to wave you into the Church in a few months, what you can do now is build on what you do believe and work further from there.
Don’t forget faith is very relational and existential and is mainly expressed in interceding.
Depending why those you instruct have asked you to instruct them, you can pass on what you are told sincerely as long as you don’t cast doubt on it in their minds, and be a Catholic teacher, but you need to ask God to lead you into the details that have been suggested in these responses.
If you can’t instruct these things, you will probably need to drop out of teaching those particular topics.