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'Quick Help' Page: Excommunication/The Excommunicated (Definition)

 

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Excommunication

Excommunicate

The Excommunicated

Ecclesiastical Censure

Religious Censure

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Definition: Excommunication/The excommunicated

 

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Excommunication is...

"An ecclesiastical censure which excludes a person from the communion of the faithful, with consequent disabilities and deprivations." (Catholic Dictionary)

Excommunication may occur in the case of "particularly grave" sins. It is called "the most severe ecclesiastical penalty" and its removal may require an act of the bishop, the Pope, or a specially designated priest.

According to the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X...

"The excommunicated are those who, because of grievous transgressions, are struck with excommunication by the Pope or their Bishop [or automatically upon committing certain offenses], and consequently are cut off as unworthy from the body of the Church, which, however, hopes for and desires their conversion."

For example, the 1983 Code of Canon Law (Church Law) indicates those who have an abortion are automatically excommunicated...

"Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication."

The 1983 Code of Canon Law also indicates other offenses which incur automatic excommunication, such as...

"Can. 1367 A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state."

"Can. 1370 §1. A person who uses physical force against the Roman Pontiff incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; if he is a cleric, another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, can be added according to the gravity of the delict."

"Can. 1382 A bishop who consecrates some one a bishop without a pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See."

"Can. 1388 §1. A confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; one who does so only indirectly is to be punished according to the gravity of the delict."

Note that excommunication deprives persons of the common spiritual prayers of the Church...

Condemned Error of Martin Luther: "Excommunications are only external penalties and they do not deprive man of the common spiritual prayers of the Church." (This error was formally condemned in the Bull "Exsurge Domine" in 1520 A.D.)

The excommunicated are also deprived of sacraments, indulgences, public Masses, etc. ...

"The excommunicated are deprived of public prayers, of the Sacraments, of indulgences and of Christian burial." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

[Note that private prayers and Masses are allowed, and that restrictions may be lifted when in danger of death.]


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