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Should Nancy Pelosi Be Excommunicated?

Pray for Nancy Pelosi

Pray for Nancy Pelosi

On Twitter, the Archdiocese of San Francisco has commented on a recent claim by Nancy Pelosi.

 

Many there are who say this is not enough. Many demand excommunication. I continue to defer to her bishop (actually “bishops” since she spends so much time in Washington, D.C.) and so I am dismayed by the impatience some have regarding whether she should be excommunicated. I do understand the frustration, and I will happily support the bishops if they decide that it is time to excommunicate her. But, I wonder, do those who are calling for excommunication understand the gravity of what they are asking for?

I suppose the Catholic Encyclopedia puts it best, and most succinctly.

[Excommunication] is not merely the severing of the outward bond which holds the individual to his place in the Church; it severs also the internal bond, and the sentence pronounced on earth is ratified in heaven. It is the spiritual sword, the heaviest penalty that the Church can inflict (see the patristic texts quoted in the Decree of Gratian, cc. xxxi, xxxii, xxxiii, C. xi, q. iii). Hence in the Bull “Exsurge Domine” (16 May, 1520) Leo X justly condemned Luther’s twenty-third proposition according to which “excommunications are merely external punishments, nor do they deprive a man of the common spiritual prayers of the Church”. Pius VI also condemned (Auctorem Fidei, 28 Aug., 1794) the forty-sixth proposition of the Pseudo-Synod of Pistoia, which maintained that the effect of excommunication is only exterior because of its own nature it excludes only from exterior communion with the Church, as if, said the pope, excommunication were not a spiritual penalty binding in heaven and affecting souls. The aforesaid proposition was therefore condemned as false, pernicious, already reprobated in the twenty-third proposition of Luther, and, to say the least, erroneous. Undoubtedly the Church cannot (nor does it wish to) oppose any obstacle to the internal relations of the soul with God; she even implores God to give the grace of repentance to the excommunicated. The rites of the Church, nevertheless, are always the providential and regular channel through which Divine grace is conveyed to Christians; exclusion from such rites, especially from the sacraments, entails therefore regularly the privation of this grace, to whose sources the excommunicated person has no longer access.

I understand that those who call for excommunication believe they understand the power of the bishops, else they would not be so anxious for them to wield it, but I don’t know that they understand just how much power there is that is involved here. Excommunications are, as the Catholic Encyclopedia says, “ratified in heaven.” To excommunicate her is to, quite literally and genuinely, cut her off from heaven.

If you believe that this is necessary for the sake of souls that are being led astray, that is your right to believe so, but do not forget what it is that you are asking, and that you should never ask out of wrath for anyone to be excommunicated. If you do not love Nancy Pelosi, and others like her, you have no right to ask for her to be excommunicated. If your call for excommunication is out of wrath, then it is not valid. The only reason to excommunicate her would be to encourage her and others like her to repentance, and I don’t think anyone seriously believes that she would view excommunication as a call to repentance.

So, if she were excommunicated, she would be cut off from salvation and would take countless souls with her who would rebel against the Church. Remember, we’re talking here about people rejecting God and not going to heaven. Many, perhaps, would be so willfully disobedient that they would not only lose heaven, but would end up in hell….forever. In terms of numbers of souls, it would be comparable to the loss of souls during the protestant “reformation” in which Luther was excommunicated. Luther was rightly excommunicated, but he was also a member of the Catholic priesthood who was leading people into formal heresy.

Remember these things when you ask for anyone to be excommunicated. The “sword” of excommunication is not a half-measure. It cuts one off all the way.

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