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This is a list, in chronological order, of present and past offences to which the Roman Catholic Church has attached the penalty of excommunication; the list is not exhaustive. In most cases these were "automatic excommunications", wherein the violator who knowingly breaks the rule is considered automatically excommunicated from the church regardless of whether a bishop (or the pope) has excommunicated them publicly. However, in a few cases a bishop would need to name the person who violated the rule for them to be excommunicated.
Excommunication is an ecclesiastical penalty placed on a person to encourage the person to return to the communion of the church. An excommunicated person cannot receive any sacraments or exercise an office within the church until the excommunication is lifted by a valid authority in the church (usually a bishop). Previously, other penalties could also be attached. In cases where excommunication is reserved for the apostolic see, only the bishop of Rome (the pope) has the power to lift the excommunication. Before 1869, the church distinguished "major" and "minor" excommunication; a major excommunication was often marked by simply writing, "Let them be anathema" in council documents. Only offences from the 1983 Code of Canon Law still have legal effect in the church.
Since theological historians have doubts about the ecumenical character of council sessions, the session number and location of each ruling are included:
The first unified code of canon law was produced in 1917, and it replaced all previous rules regarding excommunication which had come from councils and papal documents. The 1983 Code of Canon Law replaced the 1917 code. Therefore, only the 1983 code still has legal standing with regard to excommunicable offences.
Canon 1324 includes a number of exceptions from excommunicable offences:
According to Canon 1329, unnamed accomplices may receive the same penalty when an excommunicable act is committed.
Excommunication is an institutional act of religious censure used to end or at least regulate the communion of a member of a congregation with other members of the religious institution who are in normal communion with each other. The purpose of the institutional act is to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community or to restrict certain rights within it, in particular, those of being in communion with other members of the congregation, and of receiving the sacraments.
The First Council of the Lateran was the 9th ecumenical council recognized by the Catholic Church. It was convoked by Pope Callixtus II in December 1122, immediately after the Concordat of Worms. The council sought to bring an end to the practice of the conferring of ecclesiastical benefices by people who were laymen, free the election of bishops and abbots from secular influence, clarify the separation of spiritual and temporal affairs, re-establish the principle that spiritual authority resides solely in the Church and abolish the claim of the emperors to influence papal elections.
Sedevacantism is the position held by some people who identify as Catholic that the present occupier of the Holy See is not truly the pope due to the mainstream church's espousal of what they see as the heresy of modernism and that, for lack of a valid pope, the See has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, the death of Pope Saint John XXIII in 1963, the death of Pope Saint Paul VI in 1978, etc.
Anathema, in common usage, is something or someone that is detested or shunned. In its other main usage, it is a formal excommunication. The latter meaning, its ecclesiastical sense, is based on New Testament usage. In the Old Testament, anathema was a creature or object set apart for sacrificial offering and thus removed from ordinary use and destined instead for destruction.
In Catholic canon law, an interdict is an ecclesiastical censure, or ban that prohibits persons, certain active Church individuals or groups from participating in certain rites, or that the rites and services of the church are banished from having validity in certain territories for a limited or extended time.
Emmanuel Milingo is an excommunicated former Roman Catholic archbishop from Zambia. In 1969, aged 39, Milingo was consecrated by Pope Paul VI as the bishop of the Archdiocese of Lusaka. In 1983, he stepped down from his position as Archbishop of Lusaka after criticism for exorcism and faith healing practices unapproved by church authorities.
In the Catholic Church, the seal of confession is the absolute duty of priests not to disclose anything that they learn from penitents during the course of the Sacrament of Penance (confession). Even where the seal of confession does not strictly apply – where there is no specific serious sin confessed for the purpose of receiving absolution – priests have a serious obligation not to cause scandal by the way they speak.
Bernard Fellay, SSPX, is a Swiss bishop and former superior general of the Traditionalist Catholic priestly fraternity Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). In 1988, Pope John Paul II announced that Fellay and three others were automatically excommunicated for being consecrated as bishops by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, an act that the Holy See described as "unlawful" and "schismatic". Archbishop Lefebvre, and Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer who co-consecrated these four bishops, were also excommunicated. At that time, he was the youngest bishop of the Roman Catholic Church at 29 years old.
Valid but illicit and valid but illegal are descriptions applied in the Catholic Church to an unauthorized celebration of a sacrament or an improperly placed juridic act that nevertheless has effect. Validity is presumed whenever an act is performed by a qualified person and includes those things which essentially constitute the act itself as well as the formalities and requirements imposed by law for the validity of the act. Canon law also lays down rules for lawful placing of the act, beyond its validity.
Latae sententiae and ferendae sententiae are ways sentences are imposed in the Catholic Church in its canon law. A latae sententiae penalty is a penalty that is inflicted ipso facto, automatically, by force of the law itself, when a law is contravened. A ferendae sententiae penalty is a penalty that binds a guilty party only after it has been imposed on the person.
The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.
In the Catholic Church, the Precepts of the Church, sometimes called Commandments of the Church, are certain laws considered binding on the faithful. As usually understood, they are moral and ecclesiastical, broad in character and limited in number. In modern times there are five. These specifically Catholic commandments flow from and lead to the Ten Commandments which are common to all the Abrahamic religions.
A vitandus was someone affected by a rare and grave form of excommunication, in which the Church ordered, as a remedial measure, that the faithful were not to associate with him in any way "except in the case of husband and wife, parents, children, servants, subjects", and in general unless there was some reasonable excusing cause.
Canon 1398 is a rule of canon law of the Catholic Church which declares that "a person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication."
Canon 915, one of the canons in the 1983 Code of Canon Law of the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, forbids the administration of Holy Communion to those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared or who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin:
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
In the canon law of the Catholic Church, excommunication, the principal and severest censure, is a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. Being a penalty, it presupposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Catholic Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offense. The excommunicated person is basically considered as an exile from the Church and as non-existent, for a time at least, in the sight of ecclesiastical authority. The Church regards the excommunicated persons as having the status of that of a stranger.
A censure, in the canon law of the Catholic Church, is a medicinal and spiritual punishment imposed by the church on a baptized, delinquent, and contumacious person, by which he is deprived, either wholly or in part, of the use of certain spiritual goods, until he recover from his contumacy.