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On Abortion and Excommunication

Sep 07, 2015

Good day Fr! Canon 1398 provides that, “a person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication.” This means that at the very moment that the abortion is successfully accomplished, the woman and all formal conspirators are excommunicated.

My questions are: Will killing a person (other than a fetus) also incure latae sententiae excommunication? Why or why not?

Thank you for considering my question.

God bless

Asked at 01:58 pm on September 07th 2015

Hi Vince: Physically attacking the Pope (which of course would hold for killing the Pope) would also get you excommunicated. To be automatically excommunicated, Canon Law says those involved in procuring an abortion must be aware it’s an excommunicable offence. My guess is that the only reason abortion is singled out for excommunication is to underline that it is morally of the same seriousness as murder.

Why are not other murders treated in the same way? Everyone’s aware of the 5th commandment, which civil law everywhere treats with the greatest severity. But, especially in our time, not everyone is aware that abortion is a terrible act, so by making it an excommunicable offence, Canon Law is trying to teach this to the faithful.

Hope that’s a help, very best, Fr Brendan Purcell

Replied at 11:32 pm on September 10th 2015

Thank you for enlightening me Father.

Replied at 09:09 am on September 15th 2015