Does it mean that people who are excommunicated have been sacked from the Church?
Is the Church not to guide us to salvation?
Implications of Excommunication
Technically, the Church’s law binds Catholics and sanctions can apply to only Catholics.
When someone suffers a penalty like excommunication, it doesn’t literally mean, he has been thrown away or sacked from the Church or abandoned.
By virtue of baptism, he or she remains Catholic. The person is free or should I say obliged to attend Mass just like any Catholic. The sanctions, however, among other things, include:
- Not being able to play any ministerial or official function during the Church’s celebrations.
- Cannot receive the Eucharist as well as other Sacraments.
- Cannot hold any office in the Parish or Diocese.
- May not receive a Catholic burial.
The goal of excommunication is not to drive the wrongdoer away but to help him or her to reflect, identify the error and seek full communion with the Church again. This means the person can renounce whatever brought about the sanction and regain all the privileges denied him. The ultimate purpose of those “punitive measures”, which are very biblical anyway (Mat. 18:17; Rom. 16:17; 2 Thes. 3:6; Titus 3:10), is to help the offender to retrace his or her steps towards salvation and not merely punishing. A mother who punishes a child does so out of love, and not hatred.
Instead of calling on the Church’s authority to quickly and publicly declare people excommunicated, why not remain calm, and above all pray for the best of the souls involved.
The fact that we have not found ourselves in this situation should not make us impatient for the outcome of such issues. There are a whole lot of processes to be followed, some of which we may not hear but it doesn’t mean nothing has been done. And always remember that excommunication is a last resort, not a starter!
God bless you.
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