"What? Me?" Martin Luther receives his 'marching orders': Yet excommunication is also about protecting the sheepfold and bringing the heretic or dissenter to repentance and salvation, rather than securing their damnation...
Today, Deacon Nick Donnelly asks the question why the Bishops in Ireland are not considering, as far as we know, using the Church's power of excommunication on those politicians and publicly known individuals who propose and support the legalisation of abortion in Ireland. It's an interesting question.
My own theory - and this is perhaps a little controversial - is that there is an outside chance that Bishops in Ireland and around the World, including in Britain, no longer excommunicate those who lead sheep astray from the Fold and who endanger souls because they believe that everything in the Church changed in the 1960s. Is there a perception that if Catholic 'traditions' went out of the 'window' during the Council, then did excommunication go out of the window with those traditions? I'm not sure that excommunication is very much in the 'spirit' of Vatican II. The 'spirit of the Council' seems to be about reconciliation without moral boundaries, or without the admittance of fault or wrong-doing, which is not real reconciliation at all.
Yet the power and authority to do so still exists. Do Bishops not use this power to 'bind and loose' because they are fearful, or is it because they do not understand it, or do not believe in it, or is it symptomatic of a wider and deeper problem, in which they do not excommunicate, because they do not fully appreciate what a 'communicating' member of the Body of Christ is?
After all, what we are witnessing is a breakdown in 'communication' in the West. I suppose that, in a sense, some of these 'pro-choice' politicians may be turning up to Midnight Mass, though, perhaps not many. Perhaps some in this country, who propose to undermine the family and marriage will present themselves to their Priest or even Bishop this year? Will these be hoping to 'communicate' then? What will be the response of Bishops and Priests? Do these people not understand what it means to be 'in communion' with the Church, the Pope, the Bishops and essentially Christ? If they don't understand, should someone not tell them plainly, preferably one in authority?
Ultimately, the power to excommunicate is about the Apostolic power and duty to 'bind and loose' in order to defend the Church from Her internal enemies and 'safeguard' the flock, but it is exercised in the prayerful hope or even expectation that the threat from inside may be neutralised, not by the person's eternal damnation, but by their repentance.
In excommunicating those who publicly vote for abortion or an agenda that will undermine not only the Faith, but also society and the family itself, the Church would be saying, "Okay, you want to vote for this. Fine, but you should know you are deliberately and eternally forfeiting the place in Heaven that was prepared for you by the Lord. That place shall be taken by another. If you're cool with that, then, sad as we are, we have to be cool with that too. It is sorrowful to part but you have made yourself the enemy of Christ and you are considered henceforth to be such. Hope you see the light and come home."
Ireland is at a crossroads. All of Europe is also, and it looks as though the United States has chosen the path it wishes to take. The United Kingdom is also at a crossroads. Public Catholic figures in the media, in other realms and in politics seem to have no qualms about betraying the Church's mission and encouraging others to do the same. Is it not time for the Bishops to show some mettle, since only mettle will bring some public figures home to the concept of mercy?