FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: lifting excommunications question
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
I was just wondering, is it true that Bishops today can absolve from latae sententiae excommunications but often give this authority to their priests?

My second question is - if a person is confessing in a different diocese and they have an automatic excommunication for abortion/heresy/schism, would their absolution be valid since it's another diocese?

Just wondering if anyone knows the answer, thanks!
I am not a (canon) lawyer, but my understanding is that there are classes of excommunication with different reservations.  Something such as violating the seal of the confessional, desecrating the Eucharist, or physically attacking the pope are reserved to Rome to be lifted.  On the other end of the spectrum, abortion is not only given to the local bishop to lift, but in most dioceses of the United States this has been extended by the bishop to the priests, since it is so common.

To the second question, certainly for abortion it would.  I can't comment on the others.  As a side note, remember that Pope Francis is sending out priests for this upcoming Year of Mercy with faculties to absolve these reserved sins.
Steven's right. There are degrees. I don't know if you're specifically asking because of someone you know, but automatic excommunication is actually kind of difficult to incur. You have to be above a certain age, not be motivated by severe fear/pressure/violent force, and you also need to know at the time that what you are doing is an excommunicable offense, among other criteria that must be met.

Here's a reference which outlines the Code of Canon Law in this regard: https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/here...ostasy.htm
There are six latæ sententiæ excommunications reserved to the Holy See. These a bishop cannot remit, nor can he delegate their remission. These are :
  1. Retaining the Eucharistic species for sacrilegious purposes or throws it away (Canon 1367);
  2. Physical violence on the Pope (Canon 1370); (3) Absolution of an accomplice in re turpi outside of danger of death (Canon 1378);
  3. Episcopal consecration without papal mandate (Canon 1382);
  4. Direct violation by the confessor of the confessional seal (Canon 1388);
  5. False denunciation of a priest for solicitation in confession (Canon 1390);
  6. Attempted ordination of a woman to sacred orders (Decree of CDF, May 29, 2008)

To remit these in a normal situation, a confessor, outside of danger of death or an urgent case, has to apply to the Sacred Penitentiary, who will then confer faculties to the confessor.

Canon Law gives three other latæ sententiæ excommunications, but these are not reserved :
  • Apostasy, heresy, schism
  • Procuring an abortion
  • Mechanically recording or divulging by any technical means what was said by either party in confession

These latæ sententiæ excommunications and other latæ sententiæ penalties are not reserved. That means that one does not appeal to the Sacred Penitentiary for these. Canon 1355, however, restricts the absolution of these sins to bishops or priests who have been granted the faculties. In the U.S. most priests have been given the faculty to absolve from the excommunication due to abortion.

There is also two other cases where any confessor can conditionally remit these excommunications: Danger of Death, or an Urgent Case.

In danger of death no penalty is reserved, just as even a a defrocked priest could hear a confession in such case. The confessor absolves conditioned on the penitent either himself or through the confessor, appealing to the  proper authority within 30 days if he recovers from the danger.

The urgent case is where there the absolution is unreasonable to delay because of some great evil. It is sufficient that recourse to the authority could not be made within a day, so that one had to remain in mortal sin for a day, as this is a great evil. The confessor conditionally absolves only in the internal forum, the confessional forum, so he can absolve the sin, but outwardly the penitent cannot act as if it was absolved until they have recourse to the proper authority.

In both cases -- if the penitent in danger of death recovers, but fails to make recourse; or if the urgent case never has recourse to the authority, after 30 days, the penalty (but not the sin) is reapplied.

So, to answer the initial questions.

1. Bishops normally can absolve from 3 latæ sententiæ excommunications, but do usually give faculties to their priests (at least in the U.S.).

2. Yes, the confession and remission of the excommunication would be valid. The penalty is not reserved to the penitent's local ordinary, but to a bishop or priest with faculties.[/list]
Thanks for the replies! Does anyone know if heresy and schism excommunications can be lifted by priests in Canada and US or only abortion? I didn't know it doesn't have to be ones local Ordinary, I seem to recall reading that but maybe it was about that and I remember wrongly. Im eastern rite and our Canon Law doesn't have automatic excounications, but I'm just asking for information about the Latin rite :)
(08-26-2015, 04:08 PM)little_flower10 Wrote: [ -> ]Thanks for the replies! Does anyone know if heresy and schism excommunications can be lifted by priests in Canada and US or only abortion? I didn't know it doesn't have to be ones local Ordinary, I seem to recall reading that but maybe it was about that and I remember wrongly. Im eastern rite and our Canon Law doesn't have automatic excounications, but I'm just asking for information about the Latin rite :)
It would depend on how the schism or heresy manifested itself. If you are part of teh leadership of a schismatic group I beleive that you would have to resign from that group and it would be different than if you were to just join as a member of a non Catholic group or just fell away from the Catholic faith. . 
I had this doubt a while back, thinking was my reversion to the Church alright, because of my atheist phase and whatnot?
I don't know, I think its somewhat hard to be a formal schismatic, heretic or apostate (so that the punishments apply).
The important thing, I suppose, is that when you find the truth you act on it. Don't deny it or ignore it because of friends, family, etc.

(08-26-2015, 11:46 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: [ -> ]I had this doubt a while back, thinking was my reversion to the Church alright, because of my atheist phase and whatnot?
I don't know, I think its somewhat hard to be a formal schismatic, heretic or apostate (so that the punishments apply).
The important thing, I suppose, is that when you find the truth you act on it. Don't deny it or ignore it because of friends, family, etc.

In order to incur any latæ sententiæ excommunication there must be a crime and knowledge before committing it that it carries that penalty. Further, one must be at old enough that the crime is imputable and the law on penalties must be interpreted strictly.

If there is positive doubt that a penalty is incurred, there is no automatic penalty.

To apostatize is more than just to leave off the practice of the Faith, but to renounce it by joining a non-Christian religion. To become a heretic is to more than just attend a Protestant church but formally profess heresy. To become schismatic requires a formal schism as well.

The priest hearing the confession of such a one has to ask sufficient questions to be sure that the penalty is not incurred. In most cases there is probably no excommunication due to lack of full knowledge, since one has to know his Faith and Church law well-enough first to leave it and know there is an excommunication attached to doing so. If the penalty is not certainly known to the criminal, there is no automatic penalty.

Further, even if there might have been an excommunication, if you confess in the traditional Latin rite, the priest absolves you of any excommunications, censure (and if a cleric, suspensions) that he has the power to absolve before absolving, anyway.The new rite does not do this. This would probably cover doubtful penalties.