I’ve heard a lot recently about ordinary priests being given the power to lift excommunications for abortion, what with the Year of Mercy.
What about other sins that carry an automatic excommunication, like schism?
I left the Catholic Church years ago for another denomination, and want to come back, but I don’t know how to have my excommunication lifted.
Your first step should be into a confessional.
Pretty much everyone – yes, you too – your first step should be into a confessional.
There are some sins which carry with them an automatic penalty (and here’s where Dr. Ed Peters chimes in with his Catonian comment about latae sententiae penalties). Among those sins that incur automatic penalties are, during most years, a few that are reserved to the Holy See to lift. They are, happily, rare. Among them are desecrating, throwing away or keeping for bad purposes the Blessed Sacrament, using force against the Roman Pontiff, absolving an accomplice in a sin against 6th commandment (only a priest or bishop can incur that), consecrating a bishop without a pontifical mandate (only a bishop can incur that), violating the Seal of the confessional. Pretty rare.
Other automatic penalties are, ordinarily, reserved to the local ordinary or diocesan penitentiary to lift. In some dioceses, bishops widely grant to their priests the faculty to absolve from those sins reserved to the diocesan bishop. During this Holy Year, the Holy Father has granted to all priests the faculty to absolve from those sins.
One who commits the delict of schism may incur the penalty of automatic excommunication. However, since this sin does not incur a censure reserved to the Holy See, the penalty can be lifted by the local ordinary (the diocesan bishop, vicar general, episcopal vicar), or any bishop in confession, or by the diocesan penitentiary (if the diocese has one). In many dioceses, this faculty is also granted broadly to priests. You can call the local chancery to ask for someone who can answer the question: Has the bishop given the faculty to lift the censure for schism to all the priests of the diocese?
Get into the confessional with a wise and trusted priest. Explain your situation and your sorrow for your sins. Take his direction. If he does not have the faculty to remit the penalty, he will let you know and advise you how to have the penalty lifted (he may be able to ask his bishop for the faculty, or he can refer the matter to the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome under strict anonymity, or he may simply refer you to the bishop or penitentiary).
In any event, you are not up against a very tough obstacle here. You should be able to resolve this swiftly, with some good will and a few questions.
GO TO CONFESSION!