Why does the Catholic church not use excommunication more often?

I know this may sound harsh, but when it comes to people who have abortions and commit other mortal sins and refuse to repent for them, why does the Catholic church not make an example of their sin and excommunicate them from the Church? It is frustrating to me to see such a beautiful religion become so watered down by secularist Catholics that have severe misinterpretations of what it means to be a Catholic.

Abortion incurs automatic excommunication.

As for “other sins”, what exactly do you propose?

I think the OP is suggesting the public rebuke, censure, and/or excommunication of persons who publicly dissent from the Church, especially those who do so on non-negotiable moral issues or who do so in a clearly disrespectful or embarrassing manner–placing ads in national newspapers for example. A question I also wonder about.

Because there would be backlash and no matter the justification, people would see it as backwards, medieval ‘religiosity’ gone wrong.

Many liberal Catholics would leave in disgust or form their own ‘Catholic’ churches independent of Rome. While few who were actually Catholics to begin with would leave, it would appear to create a huge drop in the number of Catholics in the US.

The bishops are not brave enough to deal with the fallout. Not to decry their character, they could be amazing bishops besides this, but this is a fault of many in the west, wanting to be liked.

Read about His Excellency Raymond Burke in St Louis and his excommunication of those using women as pseudo-priests and splitting from the Church, and the flak he got for it. Then you’ll see why most bishops are legitimately afraid of this.

Because the goal of the Church is to help the sinner reform and repent, not ‘use’ the sinner to motivate others. The idea of ‘making an example’ is based on the concept that some people are expendable.

We hold that each person, regardless of stage of development or condition, is a unique creation, infinitely loved by God. If we reject that concept for the sake of disciplinary example, we undermine the moral foundation of important teachings, like abortion.

Put it this way, if you attend Mass regularly, you are asked to call to mind your own unworthiness. Have you ever had a week where you thought to yourself, ‘God, I’ve been perfect this week, so why don’t we just put this one in the bank in case I slip next week…’? If not, why shouldn’t the Church not excommunicate you? Week after week, year after year, and you are still a sinner…

Seperating ourselves (‘well at least I never had an abortion…’) is moral relativism and we are warned expressly not to make such comparisons in the Gospels. Also, we are not so seperate from our fellow man as we sometimes think - if the abortion was an act of desperation, and that desperation is something we, ourselves, could have helped lessen, are we not also culpible? Think of the reading we had last year, with the wealthy man at his table, and the wretch at his door. The wealthy man did not actively sin against the wretch, but he faced damnation for indifference and inaction.

If we look at the incestuous man that Paul writes about in his epistle, we see also see the Church opening its arms in love "lest he fall into the hands of Satan."
As already mentioned, abortion incurs automatic excommunication.
The Church in its wisdom also provides a way for the woman, through Rachel’s vineyard, to return to loving arms of God, to be loved and healed. It is that loving healing that is the work of the Church, not exposing the sinfulness of its members. If every sinner were excommunicated, there would be no Church and we would deny the love of God in the process.

Joe Biden was excommunicated I think.

He was told not to receive communion, not even go up to the altar.

Joe Biden has not been excommunicated. He has in the past broken ranks with hardcore abortion advocates and rates an 85% when it comes to life issues, according to an Our Sunday Visitor (September 7, 2008):
The former vicar general of the diocese noted that while he and other priests, including former Bishop Michael Saltarelli, have dialogued with Biden about his abortion stance, the bishop has never directed them to refuse him Communion. (Another source observed that Biden has studiously avoided approaching the bishop in the Communion line.)

Not receiving communion is not the same as excommunication. None of us are to receive if we know we are in the midst of mortal sin. That includes those who have remarried after a divorce. Until the remarriage is dissolved or the initial marriage annulled, the person may not receive the Sacraments. He/she may still continue to come to services and is still considered a part of the community, although not in full union.

This is from CatholicKnight.blogspot.com


I quote.

Barack Obama has selected Senator Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate. Biden is a “Cafeteria Catholic” who opposes the pope on all three major issues of Catholic Social Doctrine. He favors abortion on demand, advocates gay civil-unions, and opposes school-choice. As a result, Biden is no longer lawfully permitted to receive communion in the Catholic Church, and some bishops have warned him not to present himself at the communion rail. This amounts to a default excommunication without the formality of paperwork. Because of Biden’s status in the Catholic Church, a vote for him is not only a direct vote against the Social Doctrine of the Church, but against the authority of the pope and the Catholic Church itself. Therefore Catholics may not vote for him in good conscience.

Just saying. :onpatrol:


What needs to be kept in mind is that we have no real knowledge of Biden’s state of grace. Sin often hinges on intent. If Biden’s political position is the result of disagreement with an infallible teaching, that would be one thing. If, on the other hand, he accepts the teaching, but is in disent with the Church’s prudential judgement on how best to promote it in public life, that is another. The Church believes that dissent is potentially dangerous, but acknowledges that it will sometimes exist and be morally sincere. In those cases, the requirement is that the dissenter maintain an open and sincere dialog with the proper authority in the Church.

If Biden is talking to his bishop, and the bishop has seen fit not to take public action, that is good enough for me. I have plenty of sins of my own to worry about.

Since the Catechism instructs us to view each person’s words and actions in the most favorable light, I will presume that the source is speaking through ignorance, not willful disregard for the 8th commandment.

Try checking with the USCCB, which issued a public statement about Biden recently, or CNS, which is generally a reasonable information source.

Also: The site is gravely mistaken about John McCain’s position on abortion. McCain has never publicly accepted the Catholic position. Since he continues to argue that abortion is licit in some cases, his position is intrinsically evil and cannot be directly supported, though the USCCB has indicated that proportionate reasons might be applicable.

I’ll do that.

Just a clarification…

That includes those who have remarried after a divorce. Until the remarriage is dissolved or the initial marriage annulled, the person may not receive the Sacraments.

If the couple confess, and live as brother and sister until their marriage is convalidated, they may receive.

God bless us all,


Sorry, but CatholicKnight is misinformed. It is true that the bishop of Scranton (where Biden grew up, but hasn’t lived for many years) said he would deny communion to Biden. However, the bishop of Wilmington, Delaware (where Biden has lived for a long time) has said he would not deny Biden communion.

Because the church refuses to throw the first stone.

I wish the Church would use public excommunication more often. There are so many “Catholics” who givs scandal (particularly in politics). I don’t know the reason why the bishops don’t, but I hope they have a valid reason.

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