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Old 28th September 2010, 12:50 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Default Invalid and illicit excommunications

Saint Joan of Arc was excommunicated by a Bishop, and she died while still under excommunication.

A new Saint, soon to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI, Blessed Mary MacKillop of Australia, was excommunicated by her Bishop, and the sentence was lifted 5 months later, shortly before the death of the Bishop.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...NIza5oGJMtf_Kg
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2...25/3021772.htm
Quote:
"The story of the excommunication amounts to this: that some priests had been uncovered for being involved in the sexual abuse of children," Father Paul Gardiner, a campaigner for MacKillop's sainthood told the documentary makers.

MacKillop and her nuns told their superiors and severe action was taken, including sending one priest back to Ireland, and this so enraged other priests that they swore to take revenge against MacKillop's order, he said.

Part of this revenge included encouraging the then Bishop of Adelaide Laurence Shiel to excommunicate MacKillop, something he duly did in 1871.

The Bishop's stated reason for excommunicating her is that she disobeyed his order to change the rule of her religious community. But a local Bishop has limited authority; he cannot give any order on any subject to anyone. This order exceeded his authority, since a religious order is not directly and entirely under the authority of the local Bishop.

Also, even if a person disobeys an order from a Bishop, such disobedience is not necessarily sufficient grounds for excommunication. A Bishop cannot excommunicate someone for reasons other than a grave matter of faith or morals.

The Bishop's attempted excommunication of her was invalid and illicit.
"Mary was not excommunicated, in fact or in law." Father Gardiner said.
In fact refers to whether or not she was validly excommunicated; she was not. In law refers to whether or not the Bishop acted licitly; he did not. She had not committed an act that might have the penalty of excommunication, in fact, and the Bishop lacked the authority to excommunicate her since she did nothing gravely immoral.

The Bishop's act had the grave bad consequence of harming the reputation of a nun, who had not sinned gravely in disobeying him, and of causing the closing of many of the schools of her order (due to the harm to her reputation). This bad consequence could be reasonably anticipated, and gravely outweighed by any good consequences of his act. Therefore, the Bishop's excommunication of her was an objective mortal sin.

Bishops do not have the ability or the authority to excommunicate the baptized faithful, nor to prohibit them from receiving holy Communion for any reason at all. The Church limits the authority and exercise of that authority given to each individual Bishop, because the temporal exercise of that authority is fallible, and because the baptized faithful are not servants or slaves of the Bishop, but friends and children of God.
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Old 29th September 2010, 01:01 PM
zouxi zouxi is offline
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Ron, if the bishop in the above cases has went beyond his authority, but in the case of automatic excommunication , what is the role of the bishop in these cases? does he interpret the causes to declare the automatic excommunication? or does he assess the excomunicated action based on certain criteria? and what if the bishop went astray and unfair in doing so.

Thank you.
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Old 29th September 2010, 07:49 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zouxi View Post
Ron, if the bishop in the above cases has went beyond his authority, but in the case of automatic excommunication , what is the role of the bishop in these cases? does he interpret the causes to declare the automatic excommunication? or does he assess the excomunicated action based on certain criteria? and what if the bishop went astray and unfair in doing so.

Automatic excommunication occurs by the very nature of the offense (e.g. heresy) and does not require any judgment or declaration by the Bishop.

A Bishop might declare that a person who sins gravely and openly has committed an offense that falls under automatic excommunication. But if he is mistaken, his declaration does not have the effect of excommunication. If he is mistaken, much harm might result, so Bishops are usually reluctant to make such declarations, unless necessary to protect the faithful from some type of spiritual harm.
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