Excommunication is a funny old game

I had thought, up until this morning, that the Roman Catholic church was pretty much done with excommunication. I had assumed it to be outdated.

I was wrong. It is, apparently, back in fashion. Particularly for Women would-be Priests and the Bishops that try to ordain them.

So, in case anyone was wondering how to get themselves in on the action, here are Wikipedia’s top nine or so ways to get yourself automatically excommunicated by the Roman Catholic church:

1 …  Apostasy (canon 1364)… formally quitting and turning against the Church. Ah. Hmmn. I know a lot of people who’ve done this. Pretty much anyone Irish who’s now atheist is an apostate or, more frequently, a Lapsed Catholic. Also, seems a fairly slack approach to the problem insofar as excommicating the apostate is somewhat like bolting the door after the horse has gone.

2 … Heresy (canon 1364)…or outright disagreement with Church doctrine. Oops, done that as well. Does anyone print T-shirts for this type of thing? And again, in terms of equine escapes, another belated bolting.

3 … Schism (canon 1364), to split with the Church… historically, that covers everyone who’s not Catholic or planning to be Catholic. This explains the lack of T-Shirts: who can print in that kind of volume?

4 … Desecration of the Eucharist (canon 1367) … makes perfect sense: similar to defacing a coin depicting the Queen’s head… which reminds me of a pub called the Queen’s Head just outside Brighton — had a picture of Freddie Mercury on it.

5 … Physical violence against the Pope (canon 1370) … ha, you were expecting him to turn the other cheek?

6 … Attempted sacramental absolution of a partner in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue (“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”) (canon 1378 §1) … if I understand this right, it would be forgiving or trying to forgive someone who’d committed adultery. Interesting.

7 … Ordination of a bishop without papal mandate (canon 1382)… No fake Bishops. Please.

8 … Direct violation of the sacramental seal of confession by a confessor (canon 1388) … no tattle telling or ratting on parishioners.

9 … Procurement of a completed abortion (canon 1398) … I’m not too sure about this one. I mean, I understand, getting an abortion but the ‘completed’ part… confusing.

10 … Helping or helping to plan any of the above.

I think that’s enough from me. No need to comment on the list. At any other time, I might have wondered why a few of those are included and wonder out loud why a few obvious ones are omitted but it’s Friday and I see no reason to fret.

Anyhoo, according to the news article by Phil Stewart (on Reuters via Yahoo News), the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (or VATCON-D-FAITH as it’s known in the US) has written and published  a decree that now makes it a full-on excommunicationable offense to be a woman and become a Priest or be a Bishop and ordain a woman as a Priest.

As far as I know, the decree says very little about being a Priest, quitting and becoming a woman. Or, being a woman, becoming a man and then becoming a Priest but usually (historically) the Roman Catholic church has been very good about getting down to the nitty gritty and hammering out all the details. Catholic, after all, does mean ‘universal’.

Sean

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