Thursday, August 18, 2011


I found this to be an especially sobering read.  I think it is abundantly obvious to anyone even vaguely familiar with my blog that I am not a Canon lawyer.  But this raises all kinds of questions for me.  Father makes reference to a 1983 Code of Canon Law. What if the sin took place before 1983 and the penitent made a good confession, was truly repentant,  and received absolution?  Needless to say, I'm a little confused.

I have been only peripherally involved in the pro-life movement but have heard Father Pavone speak many times.  I can't say I can recall having heard that a woman must not only go to confession but to a confessor with the faculties to lift excommunication.  How many of you knew that?

BTW, I'd ask for clarification from the source, but my past questions to Father Z have gone ignored and unanswered, so I needn't bother.  Maybe some other brave soul he finds worthy of his response will fare better.


  1. aHHHHRRRRGHH.Another thing. Why oh WHY then...when I initially confessed this, wasn't that little fact brought to my attention? AND once I do everything I know to do..isn't it the priest's responsibility??? Well, of COURSE I will now have to pursue this. :P :P :P

    Sorry if my obvious irritation is SHOWING! I just want to do right, and now to find out I may be going about my life in grave sin?! oy oy oy! Tomorrow night I have to play in a big band concert, which now seems like a DUMB thing to be doing.

    Did I mention :P :P :P ?
    Sorry Joyce!

  2. I definitely caught my breath when I read the original article from CNA (?) about how the Pope has authorized priests to absolve the sin of abortion. I had no idea that there are priests who can and cannot do that. In fact, it originally confused me, and I immediately wrote to a monk friend in seminary who seems to know everything (Brother Gabriel Mosher, O.P.) and he wrote the following:

    "As the gravity of the sin increases then the faculty to absolve becomes reserved to higher levels. This is because, we must remember, a priest is a helper to the Bishop. A priest's faculties are dependent upon his Bishop. Some things are so grave, like sacrilegious actions, that the are reserved to the Holy See. Most priests in the US have the faculties to absolve from abortion (along with a lifting of any canonical penalty incurred) but generally it is reserved to the Bishop. Baptism forgives all sins."

    I had no idea this was the case. My feelings about it are mixed. I will possibly write more about it later.

  3. Thanks for pointing me to this post Joyce. I do believe Fr Z has done good service by a) pointing out the facts about excommunications, specifically regarding abortion and b) emphasizing that there is no sin that is above God's forgiveness provided that full repentance is shown via the sacrament of Penance.
    Like you, I am no Canon Lawyer but guess that a consultation is necessary, in the first instance, with one's parish priest.
    I am not leaping to Fr Z's defence but he does receive several hundreds of emails daily and it must be impossible to pick up on more than half a dozen of them.
    I don't think that he has a "down" on The Little Way - how could he?

  4. I knew of this. I can't quote the part of canon law that speaks of this, but as a general rule all excommunications (not just ones involving abortion) require someone of the proper faculties. As for why you haven't heard this before, from what I've heard some priests themselves have not bothered to do the research on this subject, so some of the clergy doesn't know. And if they don't, one can hardly expect the information to spread.

  5. I will get to everyone's comments this evening but Kelly, yours needs an immediate response. You were not Catholic at the time, so how could you have ex-communicated yourself? That would be my question to a priest (among many others I'm sure). I don't think you need stress to the point some of the rest of us do.

  6. Well, I did think of that, Joyce, but (sorry to say) I was somewhat poorly catechized so it was later that I specifically addressed the abortion. Bib thinks that sometimes in the early 2000's ALL priests were given the faculties to absolve abortions. Anyway, I still think that I went to confession believing that was all I had to do, and the priest I confessed to didn't tell me otherwise. I still plan to ask around.

  7. Thanks Kelly, always best to ask a priest when in doubt.

    Richard, thank you but I assure you that any time I have posed a question to the good Father either through email or in his combox, the question goes unacknowledged and unanswered. That's not to say it's necessarily deliberate. To his credit, I have emailed Father in the past alerting him to some TLM news in my parish, and he was quick to respond and generous enough to post. It would just be nice to have an answer. I am going to defer to my pastor and see what he knows.

    Mindy, I found this very unsettling too. Thanks for the information from Brother Gabriel.

    Daniel, yes, but it's still disturbing to think one may have received absolution, returned to the sacraments, but because of this caveat, should not be presenting themselves at the altar rail. Who knew?


Comments which reflect true Christian charity are always welcome. Comments which attack the Pope, the Church, priests or other bloggers will go in the dustbin, especially if they are anonymous. Thank you and God Bless you!