List of People Excommunicated by the Catholic Church
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List of People Excommunicated by the Catholic Church

This is a list of some of the more notable people excommunicated by the Catholic Church. It includes only excommunications acknowledged or imposed by a decree of the Pope or a bishop in communion with him. Latae sententiae excommunications, those that automatically affect classes of people (members of certain associations or those who perform actions such as directly violating the seal of confession[1] or carrying out an abortion),[2] are not listed unless confirmed by a bishop or ecclesiastical tribunal with respect to certain individuals.

In Roman Catholic canon law, excommunication is a censure and thus a "medicinal penalty" intended to invite the person to change behavior or attitude that incurred the penalty, repent, and return to full communion.[3] Excommunication severs one from communion with the Church; excommunicated Catholics are forbidden from receiving any sacrament and refused a Catholic burial, but are still bound by canonical obligations such as attending Mass or fasting seasonally. Excommunicated Catholics, however, are barred from receiving the Eucharist or from taking an active part in the liturgy (reading, bringing the offerings, etc.).[4]

Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, with 5 separate excommunications from 3 different Popes, carries the distinction of publicly being the most excommunicated individual.

1st century

2nd century

3rd century

  • Sabellius, originator of Sabellianism
  • Novatian, an early antipope who taught Novatianism
  • Paul of Samosata, excommunicated by a synod at Antioch in 269
  • Marcellus of Ancyra
  • Felicissimus, deacon of Carthage, was excommunicated by St Cyprian, bishop of Carthage. Cyprian was in hiding at the time from persecution and he sent people to distribute alms to those hurt by the persecutions. Felicissimus tried to frustrate the efforts of those distributing alms as he saw it as an encroachment on his office.[8]

4th century

5th century

6th century

7th century

8th century

9th century

10th century

11th century

  • Michael Cerularius, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, along with Leo of Ohrid and their adherents, were excommunicated in 1054 after he had erased the Pope's name from church diptychs and made accusations against the western church of being in heresy. The excommunication was carried out by legates of Pope Leo IX after the Pope's death. This excommunication was only directed at these individuals named and not at the wider eastern church; the legates specifically made note that they considered the wider eastern church to remain pious and orthodox.[30] However, in the ensuing years, most of the eastern bishops followed Cerularius and also ceased recognition of the Pope by striking his name from their diptychs. This led to the East-West Schism. The legal validity of this excommunication has been questioned as it was issued by legates of Pope Leo IX after the Pope's death. It was declared lifted on 7 December 1965.[31]
  • Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor was excommunicated 4 times in the 11th century (and would later be excommunicated a fifth time in the 12th century). He was excommunicated by Pope Gregory VII three separate times, and once more by Pope Urban II. The first was on 22 February 1076 over the Investiture Controversy. This excommunication was lifted on 28 January 1077 after Henry's public show of penitence known as the Road to Canossa. His second excommunication by Gregory was on 7 March 1080, and the third was in 1084 or 1085. Urban II excommunicated Henry in 1088.
  • Harold II, King of England, for perhaps politically motivated reasons by Pope Alexander II in order to justify the invasion and takeover of the kingdom by William the Conqueror in 1066.[32]
  • Boles?aw II the Generous, Duke of Poland, was excommunicated in 1080 after murdering the bishop Saint Stanislaus of Kraków.
  • Philip I of France, king of France, for repudiating his marriage and remarrying, by Hugh, Archbishop of Lyon and later reaffirmed by Pope Urban II.
  • Bishops in France, under orders of Benedict VIII, excommunicated feudal barons who had seized property belonging to the monastery of Cluny in 1016 [33]
  • The bishop of Autun excommunicated Cluniac monks in his diocese who took over the monastery of Vezelay without his permission; the excommunication was removed after they left the diocese [33]
  • In 1031 the council of Limoges in France excommunicated feudal barons in the diocese of Limoges who were conducting private warfare between themselves in the midst of widespread famine and pestilence that was killing off a large portion of the peasantry. The famine and pestilence were thought to be punishments from God for grave sins being committed close to the millennium anniversary of Christ's death and resurrection. The members of the council dashed their candles to the ground in unison after calling out 'As these lights are extinguished before your eyes, so let their joy be extinguished before the angels.' [33]
  • Heribert, Archbishop of Milan, was excommunicated by Pope Benedict IX when he was at enmity with him.[34]
  • Arialdo was excommunicated by Guido da Velate, bishop of Milan while he was working against clerical abuses in Milan. He was immediately reinstated by Pope Stephen IX[35]
  • Guido da Velate, bishop of Milan was excommunicated because of repeated lapses in his failure to reform[35]

12th century

13th century

14th century

15th century

16th century

17th century

18th century

19th century

20th century

21st century

  • Bp. Rómulo Antonio Braschi on 5 August 2002 for having "attempted to confer priestly ordination on several Catholic women," the Danube Seven.[102]
  • Chinese bishops Joseph Liu Xinhong, Joseph Ma Yinglin, John Wu Shi-zhen and Bernardine Dong Guangqing were excommunicated by the Holy See in 2006 for engaging in illicit episcopal consecrations [103] The two who received ordination (Liu Xinhong and Ma Yinglin) had their excommunications lifted when the Holy See announced that all bishops in China were formally recognized in 2018
  • Zambian bishop Emmanuel Milingo was stated to be excommunicated by the Holy See in 2006 after he engaged in illicit episcopal consecrations
  • 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 12 September 2007.[104]
  • Fr. Dale Fushek (also laicized by Pope Benedict XVI in February 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.[105]
  • 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.[106] 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 José 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.[107][108] 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.[109] Disagreement with the Archbishop's view of the supposed excommunication was expressed also by other bishops.[110][111]
  • Sr. Margaret McBride, a nun, for allowing an abortion.[112] McBride later reconciled with the Church and is no longer living in a state of excommunication.
  • In 2011 Joseph Huang Bingzhang was excommunicated by the Holy See for illicitly receiving episcopal consecration to become bishop of Shantou. [113] His consecrators were not formally excommunicated and the Holy See noted that it was possible they were forced to take part, however, if they were not forced, they would have also suffered an automatic excommunication. This excommunication was lifted in 2018 when Pope Francis recognized all bishops in China.
  • Lei Shiyin was excommunicated in 2011 by the Holy See for receiving illicit episcopal consecration to become bishop of Leshan. His consecrators were not formally excommunicated because of the possibility that they were forced, however, they would suffer an automatic excommunication if they were not forced to participate.[114] This excommunication was lifted in 2018 when Pope Francis recognized all bishops in China.
  • In October 2012, the newspapers El Observador and El País reported that all the Catholics who promoted the abortion law in Uruguay were excommunicated.[115][116] 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.[117] 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.[118]
  • Fr. Roy Bourgeois (also laicized and dismissed from the Maryknoll Fathers) for participating in the attempted ordination of a woman.[119]
  • Yue Fusheng was excommunicated in 2012 by the Holy See for episcopal ordination to become bishop of Harbin. [120] His consecrators were not formally excommunicated because of the possibility they were forced, but they would suffer automatic excommunication if they had not been forced. This excommunication was lifted in 2018 when Pope Francis recognized all bishops in China.
  • Fr. Robert Marrone on 6 March 2013 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 "an opposing ecclesial community" (the Community of St. Peter's) in a vacant warehouse that is not a Catholic church building and is outside of the authority of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland after St. Peter's Parish in Cleveland was closed (it has since been reopened), in direct disobedience to orders from the bishop.[121]
  • Fr. Simon Lokodo, The Minister for Ethics and Integrity in Uganda, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI[122] when he entered politics in violation of Canon Law 285.3[123][124]
  • 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.[125][126][127]
  • Fr Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia was excommunicated in 2013 for continuing to celebrate Mass when not permitted, advocating the attempted ordination of women, and promoting same-sex marriage.[128]
  • Fr. Jose Mercau in 2014 as part of the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases scandal.[129][130]
  • Samantha Hudson, Spanish drag artist, excommunicated in 2015 by the bishop of Mallorca for a controversial musical video about the alleged "oppression" the LGBTQ+ community suffers due to the Catholic Church. The video was an Art school project, he was 15 years old at the time.[131][132][133][better source needed]
  • In February 2018 Fr Ezinwanne Igbo, a Nigerian priest working on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, incurred an automatic excommunication for breaking the seal of the confessional.[134]
  • On Christmas Eve, 2019, three hermits named Father Stephen de Kerdrel, Sister Colette Roberts and Brother Damon Kelly living in Scotland were excommunicated after accusing Pope Francis of heresy in an online statement.[135]
  • In July 2020, Tomislav Vla?i?, a former director of the alleged seers of Our Lady in Medjugorje was excommunicated for holding himself out as a priest and simulating sacraments, after continuing to preach after being laicized for teaching false doctrine, manipulating consciences, disobeying ecclesiastical authority, and of committing acts of sexual misconduct.[136]
  • In August 2020, Fr. Jeremy Leatherby, a priest of the Diocese of Sacramento, incurred an automatic excommunication for schism after refusing to recognize the legitimacy of Pope Francis, most notably substituting his name with that of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI and omitting the name of Bishop Jaime Soto during the Eucharistic Prayer while offering Mass. Bishop Soto announced the excommunication on 7 August.[137]
  • Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, SJ in 2021 for absolution of an accomplice. Later lifted after he sought forgiveness from Pope Francis.

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External links

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