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The idea of partial communion is something I've struggled with for a while but recently I've been thinking about how excommunication relates to the concept of partial communion. As far as I know, doesn't the Church consider protestants and the eastern orthodox to be in partial communion with the Church? And yet at the same time the current code of canon law prescribes automatic excommunication for apostates, heretics, and schismatics. With that said, doesn't the penalty of excommunication do what the word actually means? that is to cast the person OUT of COMMUNION with the Church? If so, how can there be said to be some communion (if only partial) if the penalty literally means to cast someone outside of the communion of the Church? If not, then in what sense is excommunication a coherent concept in today's church?
I think excommunication requires some element of willful heresy. Like how sin has a component of purposefulness (there's a better word, but I can't think of it right now), but you have to KNOW what you are doing is wrong and still chose to do it. Partial communion, from what I'm reading between the lines, implies that the groups in partial communion "know not what they do", which mitigates somewhat their culpability. If they're Baptist and that's all they've ever known, and they're sincerely Baptist, there is a level of innocence that they would be considered.

Excommunication, on the other hand, implies that they were in full communion at some point, and thereby made a conscious choice to defy the dogmas of the Church even if you knew them.
(10-02-2016, 09:20 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]I think excommunication requires some element of willful heresy. Like how sin has a component of purposefulness (there's a better word, but I can't think of it right now), but you have to KNOW what you are doing is wrong and still chose to do it. Partial communion, from what I'm reading between the lines, implies that the groups in partial communion "know not what they do", which mitigates somewhat their culpability. If they're Baptist and that's all they've ever known, and they're sincerely Baptist, there is a level of innocence that they would be considered.

But why wouldn't this apply to a Catholic who left the Church to become a protestant? Suppose the Catholic knew the penalty for leaving his excommunication but came to a sincere belief that the Church was wrong (so the excommunication was meaningless to them) and adopted a protestant faith. Would they be considered to have no communion due to their excommunication while the Lutheran sitting next to them professing the same protestant faith would have partial communion because they weren't formally excommunicated?

(10-02-2016, 09:20 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]Excommunication, on the other hand, implies that they were in full communion at some point, and thereby made a conscious choice to defy the dogmas of the Church even if you knew them.

Well infants validly baptized into non-Catholic churches would be considered as members of the church in full communion would they not since the sacrament would be valid? As far as I know they would only lose full communion once they reached the age of reason and willfully adopted false doctrines (breaking the unity of faith) even if they weren't aware of their falseness at the time.

My question is essentially this: Can anyone ever go from a position of communion to no communion? If so, how? If a Protestant who has partial communion becomes a Buddhist and thus an apostate, does he entirely lose communion with the Church? I just don't see how the idea of partial communion makes sense in light of excommunication. Does not excommunication put the penalized OUTSIDE of communion with the Church? Isn't that the whole point? To use the penalty as a warning, to exclude the person from the sacraments until they repent and are brought back into communion and able to receive them again?
Valid questions. One thing you have to keep in mind is a lot of the partial communion business has been developed since VII, so in many ways it falls under this ecumenism nonsense.

I'm only speculating here too based on what logical. I may be completely wrong.

(10-02-2016, 10:31 PM)Logan Wrote: [ -> ]
(10-02-2016, 09:20 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]I think excommunication requires some element of willful heresy. Like how sin has a component of purposefulness (there's a better word, but I can't think of it right now), but you have to KNOW what you are doing is wrong and still chose to do it. Partial communion, from what I'm reading between the lines, implies that the groups in partial communion "know not what they do", which mitigates somewhat their culpability. If they're Baptist and that's all they've ever known, and they're sincerely Baptist, there is a level of innocence that they would be considered.

But why wouldn't this apply to a Catholic who left the Church to become a protestant? Suppose the Catholic knew the penalty for leaving his excommunication but came to a sincere belief that the Church was wrong (so the excommunication was meaningless to them) and adopted a protestant faith. Would they be considered to have no communion due to their excommunication while the Lutheran sitting next to them professing the same protestant faith would have partial communion because they weren't formally excommunicated?

My understanding is that a Catholic who has left the Church to join with the Protestants down the street are in fact material heretics and are excommunicated. Communion with the Church was something they possessed, but chose to discard.

The Lutheran beside him, however, has only known Lutheranism. There is a level of ignorance in him that can be overlooked, in a sense. It's sort of the difference between killing a person on purpose (murder) and killing a person accidently-on purpose (manslaughter). On the surface they sort of look the same, but underlying motives are quite different.

(10-02-2016, 10:31 PM)Logan Wrote: [ -> ]
(10-02-2016, 09:20 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]Excommunication, on the other hand, implies that they were in full communion at some point, and thereby made a conscious choice to defy the dogmas of the Church even if you knew them.

Well infants validly baptized into non-Catholic churches would be considered as members of the church in full communion would they not since the sacrament would be valid? As far as I know they would only lose full communion once they reached the age of reason and willfully adopted false doctrines (breaking the unity of faith) even if they weren't aware of their falseness at the time.

That's a good question. My gut feeling is that because many Protestants baptize as adults (or age of reason), this is moot a lot of time. They have elected to be baptized AND adopted false doctrines simultaneously. Only the groups that practice infant baptism is where you possibly could encounter this connumdrum.

However, when baptizing form is not the only consideration, but intent as well. If the person doing the baptizing uses the correct form (water + formula of Father, Son & Spirit), but the intent is to baptize the child not Catholic but Lutheran, that would also constitute a break. Just like when a priest can use the correct form to consecrate the bread and wine, if his intent is not there it doesn't happen.

(10-02-2016, 10:31 PM)Logan Wrote: [ -> ]My question is essentially this: Can anyone ever go from a position of communion to no communion? If so, how? If a Protestant who has partial communion becomes a Buddhist and thus an apostate, does he entirely lose communion with the Church? I just don't see how the idea of partial communion makes sense in light of excommunication. Does not excommunication put the penalized OUTSIDE of communion with the Church? Isn't that the whole point? To use the penalty as a warning, to exclude the person from the sacraments until they repent and are brought back into communion and able to receive them again?

Logically, yes, one can move from communion to no communion in certain circumstances I would think. One could also move from partial communion to no communion. One thing to keep in mind too, is that partial communion seems to be applied more to groups, where excommunication seems to apply more to individuals, although I'm sure there's exceptions to that rule. So you could, theoretically, have a group that is partial communion, such as the Orthodox, with individuals within that group in a state of excommunication.

I agree this idea of partial communion is a weird one - it seems to me that this idea of communion should be an all-or-nothing deal - but if you follow the logic through in the lens of VII it actually makes some sense from an ecumenical perspective.
See this from Ott's Fundamental's of Catholic Dogma (a pre-Vatican II source):

Otts Fundamentals Wrote:Although public apostates and heretics, schismatics and excommunicati vitandi are outside the legal organisation of the Church, still their relationship  to the Church is essentially different from that of the unbaptised.  As the baptismal character which effects incorporation in the Church is  indestructible, the baptised person, in spite of his ceasing to be a member of the  Church, cannot cut himself off so completely from the Church, that every bond  with the Church is dissolved.

That remaining bond with the baptized is what is the fundamental idea behind the term "partial communion" as used nowadays. The terminology was simply "resourced" from St. Augustine.  Note, below St. Augustine was arguing against re-baptizers:

St. Augustine, On Baptism Wrote:And so others could receive from them, while they still had not joined our society, what they themselves had not lost by severance from our society. And hence it is clear that they are guilty of impiety who endeavor to rebaptize those who are in Catholic unity; and we act rightly who do not dare to repudiate God's sacraments, even when administered in schism. For in all points in which they think with us, they also are in communion with us, and only are severed from us in those points in which they dissent from us.
----
But if they observe some of the same things, in respect of these they have not severed themselves; and so far they are still a part of the framework of the Church, while in all other respects they are cut off from it. Accordingly, any one whom they have associated with themselves is united to the Church in all those points in which they are not separated from it. And therefore, if he wish to come over to the Church, he is made sound in those points in which he was unsound and went astray; but where he was sound in union with the Church, he is not cured, but recognized—lest in desiring to cure what is sound we should rather inflict a wound

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/14081.htm

The importance of this concept to ecumenism--and thus why it seems to have become more prominent since Vatican II--is pretty obvious in St. Augustine's last sentence above. I think most would agree there is not enough attempts at "curing" to go along with all the "recognizing" today, but the recognizing of partial communion is not itself novel or bad.