The dumbest thing about excommunication I have seen to date

I think it was CMR which suggested that NCR’s piece on excommunication might be the stupidest thing you read today.  I stress today. (NCR is sure to writer about it again some time.)

It is hard to imagine that a writer can get so many things wrong in one article, but St. Louis U’s Ronald Modras has changed the height of the bar.

Lemme save you some time and make two little points.

First, liberal NCR types would have you believe that excommunication is outdated, silly, ineffective, irrelevant… take your pick.

But if excommunications are so irrelevant, why did they throw a nutty when the Pope lifted an excommunication of an SSPX bishop?

Furthermore, the Modras offers this:

Are Catholics ever allowed to see abortion as the lesser of two evils? In the face of such moral dilemmas, the automatic excommunication is intended to leave no doubt as to where the church’s leadership stands. Whether that lessens the number of abortions is at least doubtful.

Doubtful?  Ummm… does anyone seriously think that the number if abortions would not rise if the Catholic Church were to change its stand about abortion or give the impression that it was changing its stance by doing away with excommunication as a penalty?

 

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18 Responses to The dumbest thing about excommunication I have seen to date

  1. JohnE says:

    Our much respected Archbishop Chaput also seems to think that excommunication is no longer an effective tool in today’s culture:

    “I don’t know that excommunication is very effective anytime today because if we did that, the press generally would make it a sign of the overbearing church trying to manipulate the minds of free citizens. So you have to take that into consideration, and you have to see is it going to work. But to tell someone that if you don’t believe, you shouldn’t receive, I think, is a pastoral act of love for them. It’s asking for integrity.”
    (http://pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/The-Political-Obligations-of-Catholics-A-Conversation-With-the-Most-Rev-Charles-Chaput-Archbishop-of-Denver.aspx)

    As much as I respect Archbishop Chaput, I’m not sure if I agree. I think excommunication would communicate the seriousness of the matter, both to the person in question and to the faithful who are scandalized, especially in the case of public officials. A private conversation telling the person that they shouldn’t receive can be ignored and appear to many as a scandal that is tolerated or ignored, and therefore not that serious. The media already rakes the Church over the coals already just for general statements saying that those who cooperate with abortion should refrain from communion.

    I’m just glad I’m not a bishop. May God bless them and guide them.

  2. Leonius says:

    The problem is that to many Bishops are caught up in the idea that it wont help the sinner because they wont take any notice of it, but What the Bishops are forgetting or ignoring is that excommunication isn’t just something that is just about the individual it is about the whole community, excommunication is the most effective way of the Shepherd has to warn his sheep that there is a dangerous wolf among the flock and to either tame that wolf or drive it away from the sheep.

    Either way excommunication is about protecting the whole flock not just curing an individuals errors.

  3. dallas says:

    Before even getting to the excommunication question, with questions like
    “Are Catholics ever allowed to see abortion as the lesser of two evils?”
    one needs to ask where the statistics are that show it would actually be the lesser; Fr. Finigan touched on this recently:
    Study on Abortion and Mental Health
    from http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2010/07/study-on-abortion-and-mental-health.html Hermeneutic of continuity by Fr Tim Finigan
    Dr Pravin Thevathasan, a psychiatrist with over twenty years’ experience, who also holds a Masters in medical ethics and law, has written a very helpful booklet on Abortion and Mental Health in which he examines the psychological consequences of induced abortion. He notes:
    Perhaps the most important statement in this study is that, while over ninety per cent of abortions are done on the ground that continuation of the pregnancy would lead to serious damage to teh women’s mental health, there is no evidence that abortion reduces the mental health risks of unwanted pregnancy. Indeed no study has reported that it reduces mental health risks – a fact which surely challenges the use of psychiatric reasons for justifying abortion.
    Another important point is that grieving after abortion is difficult because the woman is just expected to carry on and “snap out of it” and indeed, such grief is frowned upon by society. This booklet would be of help to clergy in understanding one of the many reasons why they should not shy away from pro-life preaching, and to many others who will be in a position to help women to make the right choice for life.

    Abortion and Mental Health (£1.95) is published by LIFE – email info@lifecharity.org.uk

  4. beez says:

    Does he not understand the term “intrinsically evil?”

    A quick translation: essentially profoundly immoral.

  5. anj says:

    Speaking of the NCR, your favorite theologian, R. McBrien, has some revealing thoughts on exorcism, as of yesterday:

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/essays-theology/conference-exorcism-will-make-your-head-spin

  6. momravet says:

    @anj

    Read the article. Get the feeling Fr. O’Brien doesn’t believe in the devil or evil.

  7. basilorat says:

    The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

    Excommunication, whether formally pronounced, or inherent in the action, is simply an expression of a supernatural reality,”that one stands outside the Church”, which means, the ordinary life of grace. When the Church is no longer a value, excommunication is not seen for its value. Alas, all debts are settled on judgement day, one way or another, including sinfulness that hasn’t led to excommunication.

    It’s not that hard really! When authors write about how ineffective things are, one must wonder how well they have followed the path themselves in their life, whether it’s keeping to their original vocational sacrament, etc… . So often people write like this when they themselves have been unfaithful. The first rule in psychological counseling is that 40% of the time the counselor is counseling him or herself. Get my drift?

  8. I want the NCR to publish an article on when the death penalty could be the lesser of two evils. Or when voting for a Republican could be the lesser of two evils.

  9. chironomo says:

    excommunication is the most effective way of the Shepherd has to warn his sheep that there is a dangerous wolf among the flock and to either tame that wolf or drive it away from the sheep.

    I would say it’s more an issue of there being a sheep among them who is working for the wolf. Either the offending sheep decides to see the light and humbly return to the flock, or he is shown the gate to the meadow and the Shepherd allows him to go to the wolf. However, since that sheep will now be of no use to the wolf, the Shepherd know’s his fate is certain…but it’s the sheep’s choice, not the Shepherd’s.

  10. catholicmidwest says:

    “….does anyone seriously think that the number if abortions would not rise if the Catholic Church were to change its stand about abortion or give the impression that it was changing its stance by doing away with excommunication as a penalty?”

    Me. Catholics, on average, have abortions at about the rate that non-Catholics do, and this has been the situation for quite a few years. What the church says doesn’t appear to change their behavior, although they probably are well aware of it. For that matter, the same can also be said for birth control, fertility treatments, tubal ligations and other similar practices. Some Catholics are probably not confessing these things either, simply because they might not confess anything because, like many catholics, they might not ever go to confession.

  11. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m not really sure excommunication would be a deterrent either unless it were public and/or accompanied by consequences.

  12. Cavaliere says:

    “I don’t know that excommunication is very effective anytime today because if we did that, the press generally would make it a sign of the overbearing church trying to manipulate the minds of free citizens.

    The anti-Catholic media and its minions are going to do that regardless of what we do. God only asks us to do the right thing and leave the success or failure to him.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    We live in a Church where some priests and bishops go out of their way not to offend anyone.

    Excommunication is offensive and should be. As Leonius states, it is an action for the entire community. I am still scandalized by those such as Biden, Pelosi, and Boxer receiving Communion on a weekly basis. We need men leading the Church, not diplomats or politicians.

    catholicmidwest,

    I am under the impression that all excommunications are public.

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    On the contrary, Supertradmom. Read this very good description of abortion and excommunication.

    http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/abortio2.htm

    The fact is abortions happen frequently among Catholics, and neither the act nor the consequences are hardly ever made public. Sometimes, these things are never even acknowledged as grave sins. Many Catholics view this event rather like individuals of the secular culture do, particularly if they are the ones “caught” in situations they didn’t like and sought to end.

    NOTE the term: “Latae sententiae,” which is excommunication that’s automatic but not announced. There is no paperwork, no edict from anyone to anyone. To get it lifted, you show up to the right place, after doing your homework and volunteer. I’m sure some do, but I’m pretty sure also that some don’t.

    And, absolution and return to union with the church is supposed to be reserved to the Holy See, bishops and those they appoint, but that’s not really what might well happen if someone involved in an abortion shows up in the confessional.

    Indeed, from the Pontifical Council for the Family comes this:
    “Regarding absolution for the sin of abortion, the obligation always exists to have regard for the canonical norms. If repentance is sincere and it is difficult to send the penitent to the competent authority to whom the absolution of the censure is reserved, every confessor can absolve according to can. 1357, suggesting an adequate penitential act, and indicating the necessity to have recourse, possibly offering to draft and forward it himself.”

  15. tour86rocker says:

    Fr. Z, if this article is so ridiculous, do you care to explain why? Sure, it contains the usual utilitarianism, moral relativism / moral equivalency, bad ecclesiology, and ignorance of Hell that is characteristic of many NcRep articles, but could you please teach us something about why rapists, child abusers, murderers, etc. are not also excommunicated?

  16. Jack Hughes says:

    Very good article Dr. Peters – added to my understanding of cannon law

  17. tour86rocker says:

    Thank you for your reply, Dr. Peters, I’ll check out your article. Has anyone else had trouble getting their posts approved in the NcR combox?

    Jack, if it added to your understanding of “CANNON” law, you might have been reading the wrong article, but if you meant “CANON” law, we might be talking about the same article.