I’ve seen that question a lot lately, as people have wondered on social media why certain Catholic Supreme Court Justices—along with prominent Catholic politicians—haven’t yet been publicly excommunicated, either for their position on abortion or their stance on same-sex marriage.
Good question. I have no idea. That’s above my pay grade. Public excommunication, at any rate, seems to be a relatively rare phenomenon.
But I was curious about just whom the Church had excommunicated.
This, of course, is why God made Wikipedia. The good people at Wikipedia have compiled a list of recent formal excommunications, which might be of interest:
- Members of multiple organizations in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska were excommunicated by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz in March 1996 for promoting positions he deemed “totally incompatible with the Catholic faith”.The organizations include Call to Action,Catholics for a Free Choice, Planned Parenthood, the Hemlock Society, the Freemasons, and the Society of St. Pius X. The Vatican later confirmed the excommunication of Call to Action members in November 2006.
- The Community of the Lady of All Nations for heretical teachings and beliefs after a six-year investigation. The declaration was announced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on September 12, 2007.
- Fr. Dale Fushek (also laicized by Pope Benedict XVI 02/2010) and Fr. Mark Dippre. Former Priests were issued a Decree of Excommunication by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted for operating “an opposing ecclesial community” in direct disobedience to orders to refrain from public ministry.
- Fr. Marek Bozek (since laicized by Pope Benedict XVI), and the lay parish board members of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in St. Louis, Missouri in December 2005 were declared guilty of the ecclesiastical crime of schism by then-Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke. Their excommunication was ratified by the Vatican in May 2008. Four of the parish board members have since reconciled with the Church.
- Both the doctors and the mother of the nine-year-old victim in the 2009 Brazilian girl abortion case were said by Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife to have incurred an automatic excommunication. The victim had an abortion after being raped and impregnated by her stepfather. The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil contradicted Sobrinho’s statement: it declared that, in accordance with canon law, the girl’s mother was not in fact excommunicated and that there were no grounds for stating that any of the doctors involved were in fact excommunicated.Disagreement with the Archbishop’s view of the supposed excommunication was expressed also by other bishops.
- Sr. Margaret McBride, a nun, for allowing an abortion. McBride later reconciled with the Church and is no longer living in a state of excommunication.
- In October 2012, the newspapers El Observador and El País reported that all the Catholics who promoted the abortion law in Uruguay were excommunicated. The newspaper Urgente24, in spite of a headline stating that what it called the “abortionist lawmakers” were excommunicated, explained in the body of the article that automatic excommunication applied only to someone who directly carried out an abortion. The bishops website also explained that excommunication would automatically apply, under Canon Law 1398, only to anyone carrying out an abortion, and not to lawmakers.
- Fr. Roy Bourgeois (also laicized and dismissed from the Maryknoll Fathers) for participating in the ordination of a woman.
- Fr. Robert Marrone, by Bishop Richard Gerard Lennon of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland in Cleveland, Ohio for violating the terms of his leave of absence. Marrone set up a worshipping community (the Community of St. Peter’s) in a vacant warehouse and outside of a Catholic building or church after St. Peter’s Parish in Cleveland was closed (it has since been reopened), in defiance of the bishop .
- Fr. Simon Lokodo, The Minister for Ethics and Integrity in Uganda, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI when he entered politics in violation of Canon Law 285.3
- Fr. Roberto Francisco Daniel, known by local community as “Father Beto”, by Bishop Caetano Ferrari, from Bauru, Brazil. Daniel was excommunicated because he refused a direct order from his bishop to apologize for or retract his statement that love was possible between people of the same sex. The priest also said a married person who chose to have an affair, heterosexual or otherwise, would not be unfaithful as long as that person’s spouse allowed it.
- Fr Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia was excommunicated in 2013 for continuing to celebrate Mass when not permitted, advocating the ordination of women, and promoting same-sex marriage