ecclesiastical censure which excludes a person from the communion of the
faithful, with consequent disabilities and deprivations." (Catholic Dictionary)
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...
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
"Can. 1398 A
person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae
The 1983 Code of
Canon Law also indicates other offenses which incur automatic excommunication,
"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."
excommunication deprives persons of the common spiritual prayers of the
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.)
are also deprived of sacraments, indulgences, public Masses, etc. ...
excommunicated are deprived of public prayers, of the Sacraments, of indulgences
and of Christian burial." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)
private prayers and Masses are allowed, and that restrictions may be lifted when
in danger of death.]
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