Skip to comments.The latest excommunication call (A canon lawyer weighs in)
Posted on 01/24/2013 2:19:00 PM PST by NYer
Alexis de Tocqueville once observed that Every generation is a new people.” Demographers reckon a generation at 20-25 years, so that means that every 20-25 years, a lot of folks need a lot of things explained to them that their parents and grandparents take for granted. No big deal, we just do it.
But on the internet, it seems that every month is a new generation, so that means that about once a month, questions arise that many of us have treated numerous times in the past. Problem is, these allegedly novel questions shoot through cyberspace with amazing speed, agitating a new generation of readers whose awareness of history is also quite diminished. The result is confusion and clamor over things that have pretty well settled answers. This happens especially frequently in regard to canon law. A few weeks ago, for example, it was Lets excommunicate Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn for supporting ‘gay marriage’. Now, its Lets excommunicate New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his latest push to expand abortion in what is perhaps the most pro-abortion state in the union. Sins, to be sure, these deeds, but canonical crimes? and ones punishable by excommunication at that? I suggest not, as many of us have discussed many times.
Some bloggers really should google a bit before they post. If they did so in the Cuomo case, theyd find out, among other things, that politicians are not subject to excommunication for abortion under Canon 1398 (the only canon remotely relevant to their situation), that Canon 915 is a much more appropriate response to the scandal of the prominent pro-abortion Catholic politico, and that Cuomo has already been the subject of an extensive discussion in regard to his eligibility for Communion; indeed, theyd probably find out that Cuomo is apparently refraining from approaching for holy Communion on his own.
Can the canonical ante be upped further? Sure, but not by blog-driven public pressure on Catholic bishops for politico-excommunications under a Code that at present does not punish activities such as Cuomos or Quinns with a penalty such as excommunication. So, those distressed, and rightly so, by Cuomos or Quinns politics and specifically desirous of seeing them excommunicated, have, as I see it, two options: either (a) petition the pope to rewrite one or more canons of Book VI of the Code to excommunicate them; or (b) petition the bishops of New York and Illinois to enact particular legislation leading to their governors excommunications. I think both ideas are, for several reasons, problematic, but they seem within the bounds of what a Catholic could suggest. As for exploring the mechanics of such papal or episcopal canonical drafting, thats beyond the scope of this blog. For now I simply note the idea. Again.
In the meantime, may I suggest prayers and fasting for Gov. Cuomos and Quinns repentance? They stand in great need of turning from the evils they support, and such acts on our part would improve the state of our souls, as well.
Maybe by not recieving holy communion, it will help those not recieving to SEEK the mercy of God.
When half the troops are weasels you can’t employ tactics suited to lions.
Yes, he is patronizing, but on this issue of the law I am sure that he is technically correct.
The problem lies in the 1983 Code itself - it contains great lacunae which need to be filled. Politicians who actively promote immorality, genocide of the unborn, undermine and seek to destroy the Church, should be eligible for the prescription of the strongest medicine to call them to repentance.
When you read the Canons of the early Councils, people were excommunicated for far less. The fact that these politicians can proceed merrily on their path, claiming they are Catholics in good standing, without sign of any sanction from the Church, gives great scandal to the faithful and undermines the witness of the Church to the world.
While their actions may not incur the sentence of excommunication under the current Code, the heresy which underlies their actions might do so. The revival of ecclesiastical courts and heresy trials may be what they need to purge their souls.
Hello Dr Kopp,
Sorry, my account won’t let me post private replies to you!!
Yes, it has been a while since I’ve been on, but good to see that some of the old names are still around. I have been wondering how things have progressed for you since we spoke on the phone?
Things have been going much better on this side of the pond - we have actually been blessed to receive an orthodox bishop who has been the first to break the English bishops’ silence on Humanae Vitae - Deo gratias!
His Pastoral Letter, if you are interested, can be found here:
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