Excommunication (Catholic Church)
For the canonical penalty of excommunication as regulated by the
This article has multiple issues. Please help or discuss these issues on the(
|Part of |
Excommunication is a rarely applied
Its object and its effect are loss of communion, i.e. of the spiritual benefits shared by all the members of Christian society; hence, it can affect only those who by baptism have been admitted to that society. There can and do exist other penal measures which entail the loss of certain fixed rights; among them are other censures, e.g. suspension for clerics, and interdict. Excommunication, however, is distinguished from these penalties in that it is the privation of all rights resulting from the social status of the Christian as such. Excommunicated persons do not cease to be Christians, since their baptism can never be effaced; they can, however, be considered as an exile from Christian society and as non-existent, for a time at least, in the sight of ecclesiastical authority. But such exile can have an end as soon as the offender has given suitable satisfaction. Meanwhile, their status before the church is that of a stranger. They may not receive any of the sacraments. Moreover, if a cleric, he is forbidden to administer a sacred rite or to exercise an act of spiritual authority.
The Church excommunicates as a last resort and at least nowadays, very rarely. Excommunications are lifted when the excommunicated person repents, or at least gives some sign of repenting.
"The Church has the innate and proper right to coerce offending members of the Christian faithful with penal sanctions."
The Catholic Church cannot, nor does it wish to, oppose any obstacle to the internal relations of the soul with God; it even implores God to give the grace of repentance to the excommunicated. The rites of the church, nevertheless, are the providential and regular channel through which divine grace is conveyed to Christians; exclusion from such rites, especially from the sacraments, entails the privation of this grace, to whose sources the excommunicated person no longer has access.
In the papal bull "