Excommunicate Pelosi Print
By Brad Miner   
Monday, 24 June 2013

She is all but certainly excommunicated already, latae sententiae(literally, “given sentence,” meaning her loss of union is inherent in her actions), but where is the public value of that? Her continued misstatements about the faith and her unrepentant support of abortion rights (where she most obviously stands outside the faith) amount to textbook case of scandal, the sort that begs for formal redress.
One of America’s leading canon lawyers, Edward N. Peters, has written: “If her prolonged public conduct does not qualify as obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin, then, in all sincerity, I must admit to not knowing what would constitute obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin.” His point of reference is to a passage in Canon 915: “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin , are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” [Emphasis added. And, N.B., I had originally included this (parenthetical) note in the Comments section . . . but now think it best to insert it here as well: I must qualify the opinion of Dr. Peters. At his website (In the Light of the Law) he points out in response to this column that he has never called for Mrs. Pelosi’s excommunication – only that she be denied Communion. It’s an important distinction and one I’m sorry I hadn’t grasped right away.]
And here’s the rub: How is a priest (in Washington, D.C. where Mrs. Pelosi works or back in her California district or, for that matter, at St. Peter’s in Rome) to certainly know that she should not be allowed to receive the Host unless he has been directed to refuse her by ecclesial authority? (I ask this even though a priest may be required by 915 to refuse Communion even without a bishop’s formal declaration.) How are Catholics to judge the distinction between her position on abortion and that of a pro-life candidate who may be her opponent? (In fact, opponent John Dennis is not a pro-lifer, but a libertarian Republican who opposes government funding of abortion.)

[Note: This excerpt is from an a 2010 TCT column, which is among those included in our new anthology, The Catholic Thing: Five Years of a Singular Website. Order it here and enter TCT (all caps) at check to receive 25% off.]

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