June 17, 2014

The ‘Splainer: Excommunication 101

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Pope Gregory IX is shown excommunicating Emperor Frederick II. Although the Catholics invented the practice of excommunication to deal with severe sins, other religious groups have also adopted it for their own purposes.

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Pope Gregory IX is shown excommunicating Emperor Frederick II. Although the Catholics invented the practice of excommunication to deal with severe sins, other religious groups have also adopted it for their own purposes.

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(RNS) Catholics may have invented the concept of excommunication, but they're not the only religious group to discipline or sideline members who stray from the official party line.

  • kitty shrout

    The church can not be changed from outside looking in….Therefore, excommunication can be of no value to those who advocate change….

  • Jema

    The LDS church still excommunicates many members annually for sins usually having to with marital infidelity for active members who have been through the temple.

  • Brian

    It’s true. Most excommunications in the LDS church are done privately, and often fellow Mormons are not even aware that one of their peers has been excommunicated. The current cases are exceptions rather than the rule, as the two went to the press with their letters to try to manipulate the story. I say manipulate, because Kate Kelly has been very dishonest about her own disciplinary hearing, yet knows the LDS church likely won’t publicly respond.

  • Atheist Max

    Excommunication is a gift.
    Throw yourself a party! You have been excused from bothering with a long and painful heritage of self-doubt and second guessing.

    Excommunication should be enjoyed – give the religious what they deserve:

    “Happiness is the best revenge” – Oscar Wilde

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  • Jehovah Witnesses and other cults frequently excommunicate their members.

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  • Gordon

    Actually apostasy is not punishable by excommunication in the catholic. Neither is attacking the pope. Abortion incurs a latae sentientae excommunication but that practically changes little to the individual as abortion is mortal sin and you could not receive sacraments in that case either. Also excommunication and mortal sin don’t preclude an individual from receiving reconciliation, confession, otherwise they could not be restored to the church. Latae sentientae excommunications have been debated because there are probably some practicing and faithful Catholics who have accidentally incurred this type of excommunication without knowing it. The real purpose of excommunication is to prevent an individual from falsely participating in the sacramental life of the church when their beliefs and actions are counter to church teachings. This is in and of itself sin as receiving sacraments in a state of mortal sin is a sin and also to be clear on church teaching.

  • Jay

    You clearly do not understand the definition of “cult”. You should do some research before spouting off nonsense.

  • Ronk

    You seem to think Oscar Wilde was ezxcommunicated. Exactly to the contrary, he converted to Catholicism (and presumably thereby attained the greatest happiness he had ever experienced).

  • Ronk

    The Catholics did not “invent” excommunication. The Jews invented it many centuries before Christ, who commanded the first Catholics to continue the Jewish tradition.

  • hammar

    J.W., muslims, or other false cults excommunicate members when the members find the Truth which is Jesus Christ Son of God.

  • hammar

    Yes, the ‘watch tower corporation’ is a cult that denies Jesus Christ Son of God His Lordship, “The Messiah.”

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