ASK FATHER: Priest threatened with “Double Excommunication”

From a reader…

The 21 Nov. 2017 editions of Rorate Caeli and Eponymous Flower both posted that Fr. Minutella is facing Double Excommunication by the Vatican. He is in a dispute over Amoris Laettia.

If you have time, can you explain what Double Excommunication is?

Yes, indeed. Double Excommunication™ is the ecclesiastical equivalent of Super Double Secret Probation (SDSP). Just as SDSP is applied only to non-conformist members of college fraternities, so too, Double Excommunication is applied only to non-conformist members of the clerical fraternity who refuse to say that 2+2=5.  Pour encourager les autres.

But seriously…

The priest in question, Fr. Alessandro Minutella belongs to the Archdiocese of Palermo in Sicily.  He has been the subject of negative TV coverage in Italy.  I watched a video he made and posted on YouTube.  He described with great passion his situation from his point of view.  [HERE – in Italian – I’ve seen a couple other videos, too.  He doesn’t mince words.]  However, that’s one side of a story which I am sure is very complicated.  I’m not saying I don’t believe what he said.  I simply don’t understand all the details well enough to say much more than … 2+2=4not 5.

Fr. Minutella is really jammed up, and I’m pretty concerned for him.  I’m sure he could use lots of prayers.

That said… to the question:

There is no such thing as “double excommunication” as a technical term.  What this means is that two excommunications, for separate issues, would be declared.

However, all excommunications depend on certain conditions.

First, the offense committed must involve grave matter, must be a mortal sin, and it must be punishable by the censure of excommunication. There are not many of those offenses.

There is the possibility that some bad behavior not described in the few specific cases in Canon Law could be punishable by a “just penalty”, which could include even excommunication.  In those cases less severe censures are usually imposed first, with the hope that that will be enough to affect a change.  Such a case of a “just penalty” might include causing serious scandal or confusion by using social media or means of mass communication.  (Think pro-abortion politicians, etc.)

Again, there is a lot that I don’t know about the case of the priest in question, but it seems  that his case is discussed all over Italy, and not just in his diocese.  Thus, he has been told by the Congregation for Clergy and his archbishop, that he had to make some public, precise statements of fidelity and post them on social media and that if he didn’t he would incur two excommunications.  Fr. Minutella said he already did make declarations of fidelity in writing and that he wouldn’t do it again in the way they demanded.  I suspect that the censures were declared.

I don’t know what Fr. Minutella’s situation is right now.  The video that I saw was from a couple weeks ago.

Anyone who is excommunicated has the right to appeal.   If an excommunicated person makes an appeal to a higher authority (than the one who imposed the censure), then the excommunication is suspended while the process of the appeal is going on.

I hope that those involved can work this out justly and charitably, for the good of souls.

Please, Mary, Mother of the Church, Queen of the Clergy, intercede for all involved!

If you want to learn more about excommunication – one of the least understood points of the Church’s life – Ed Peters’ book is really helpful.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. VP says:

    Fr. Z – Dean Wormer would have been proud of your explanation. Blessed Thanksgiving.

  2. Imrahil says:

    First, the offense committed must involve grave matter, must be a mortal sin, and it must be punishable by the censure of excommunication.

    It is not actually the thing this is about, but I could imagine a situation where an offense involves grave matter and is punished by excommunication without, subjectively, being a mortal sin.

  3. Kathleen10 says:

    Oh my gosh, Super Double Secret Probation, lol, my word.
    I have been reading about Fr. Minutella and saw his video. This is very worrisome. I’m glad to know about Father, and I am glad more and more Catholics are learning about his situation by the day. If we want to help our priests, we should pray for them and, keep them in the public eye to hopefully prevent shenanigans. I hope the people of Italy will show their support for any priest who is trying to be faithful to God. He could certainly use some friends.

  4. NBW says:

    Am praying for Fr. Minutella. I can’t understand why a good, solid priest gets excommunicated and the heretic priests don’t.

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  6. JabbaPapa says:

    Father Z :

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but …

    First, the offense committed must involve grave matter, must be a mortal sin, and it must be punishable by the censure of excommunication. There are not many of those offenses.

    I seem to remember that one can still be excommunicated for “obstinate disobedience” (particularly against the Roman Pontiff). [I covered that, above.]

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    Otherwise, it seems that it might be difficult to see what particular excommunicable offenses Don Minutella is being accused of unless and until some formal accusations will have been provided, unfortunately.

    I will say that there have been a certain number of cases in Italy in recent years of some more traditional or traditionalist clergy, or even just those more reticent against innovations than others, being sidelined by their more “liberal” – “progressive” superiors.

  8. Benedict Joseph says:

    I have just viewed and listened to the translated video at Rorate Caeli.
    Fr. Minutella speaks the simple truth. The ecclesiastical powers that be expose their true nature.
    Jesuits promoting sodomy walk free, are lauded. A faithful, conscientious priest is pilloried.
    We are to abandon faith and reason, give a blind eye to the plain facts and be still. and submit to the erroneous.

  9. Bosco says:

    So what now, Father? The ‘Triple-Dog-Dare You’ ala’ Schwartz, Flick, Ralphie and the frozen flag pole in “A Christmas Story”? ‘Tis the season.

  10. Ranger01 says:

    I laughed at the ridiculous expression used to describe this priest’s potential punishment.
    It seems so incredibly pathetic that grown men, the classic Vatican apparatchiks of this pope, should concoct such absurdity. Did they get their cues from the Soviet Politbureau, from Izvestia?
    It’s later than we think. Really, it’s getting just a bit too dark around here for this to end well.
    Bet on it.

  11. MaryB435 says:

    I will pray for this priest! I did see his video, translated into English; he does seem to have some valid concerns over the confusion rampant in our beloved Church. There is SO much that is unexplained, and PERHAPS something is missing in the translation, but it APPEARS that the problem is that PERHAPS some might be under the IMPRESSION that this priest may APPEAR to be saying that he SUSPECTS that Pope Francis MAY not in fact be the REAL pope???????? (How unsure and tentative can I get?)
    Again, I have no idea whether or not this is the problem, since I don’t speak Italian, but looking at the organization that produced the video (Is it a sedevacantist site?) made me wonder if that might be one of the issues.
    ALSO, after hearing of so many of the “shenanigans” going on within the Church, the “climate of fear” among bishops, the “St. Gallen Mafia”, the “Gay/Lavender Mafia”, the botched “reform” of the Legionaries of Christ–all symptoms of widespread corruption/perversion–the almost unprecedented resignation of Pope Benedict XVI (who DID recently say that the Church is “almost at the point of capsizing”!) the betrayal of the “vatileaks” fiasco, the systematic firing of ALL the staff of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the consistent ambiguity, etc., etc., etc. , it DOES make one’s head spin! What in the world is going on? We can’t deny that we’re under attack!
    We must remember that Jesus DID say that the gates of Hell would not prevail against HIS Church.
    It also makes me worry whether I might be excommunicated for even wondering about this………
    At ANY rate, I will continue to pray, and TRUST JESUS!

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