Excommunication and the Catholic Church

Excommunication and the Catholic Church

by Edward Peters

“Excommunication.” To our modern ears, the very word evokes something dark and foreboding, something out-of-place in contemporary society. Many associate excommunication with the medieval Church, with the Inquisition and witch-hunts, and think it has no place in our more enlightened, tolerant times. Yet this ecclesiastical discipline is as relevant today as it was five hundred or a thousand years ago, an unfortunate last resort in combating the rebellion the Church faces in every age from some of her members.

In this intriguing book, canon and civil lawyer Edward N. Peters offers a compelling presentation of excommunication based on the current Code of Canon Law, answering some of the most commonly-asked questions about this most serious canonical penalty.

Among the questions considered here:

  • What is excommunication?
  • How is a person excommunicated?
  • Isn’t excommunication an offense against Christian charity?
  • Is there any support in the Bible for excommunication?
  • Can Catholic politicians be excommunicated for defying Church teaching, especially on abortion?

This book is an especially timely resource. It will help you understand the larger role excommunication may soon play in promoting greater fidelity to the truths of the Catholic faith.


Average rating:

(based upon 2 reviews)

Excellent Read
Submitted on 06-25-2012

Excellent Q & A style book for a topic that by its nature is laden with misunderstandings.

An Ominous Topic in a Simple Way
Submitted on 02-01-2011

This book tackles an ominous topic in a simple way. Excommunication is not brain surgery but it’s not an instant, no-reprieve death sentence to the soul either. Although it is not often used, it is very much a stable part of Canon Law. It didn’t just crop up in the current Code of Canon Law of 1983. It was in the previous Code of 1917 and before even that Code. Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s Foreword sets a realistic and spiritual tone for this study of excommunication. The question and answer format brings this topic closer to the grasp of an understanding in today’s world. The answers on the history of excommunication and the actual process of it are especially good basic starters for the subject. I cannot think of a possible question Dr. Peters missed. When he answers, he does so in a way that anyone can understand.
The Glossary is especially helpful for people without canonical experience. The Index of Canons from the Code to specific questions in the book is helpful to canonists and non-canonists alike.
One thing missing from the book is a list of current excommunicants, those of our day and age. Hardly appropriate for this book format, it is a part of Dr. Peters vast and informative web site at canonlaw.info and that is a very interesting read too.

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