Sunday, February 8, 2009

When All You Have is a Hammer, ...

Got into a discussion again this weekend about Bishop Williamson - the bishop of the Society of St. Pius X who recently had his excommunication lifted - over what should be done with him in light of his controversial views of the Jewish holocaust.

The person I was talking to was under the opinion that the Pope should seriously consider reapplying the excommunication. And this seems to be a popular opinion to hold. But what would the Pope excommunicate the Bishop for?

The Bishop was excommunicated for participating in an illicit consecration, so reapplying the excommunication would not make any sense since the issue at hand is his unfortunate view of historical events and not an illicit consecration.

The other option is to excommunicate the Bishop for his views. But would excommunication really be appropriate in a case over how someone interprets history - no matter how twisted that view is? Is excommunication something that should be used on those who hold a minority view of historical events? Is it a tool to instruct the historically ignorant?

Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them. In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication. - CCC 1463
The bishop should be corrected by his superiors and removed from public ministry due to his poor and irresponsible judgment (which has been done), but excommunicated?

Come on. If the Bishop can be excommunicated for being a fool, many of us should be worried.

1 comment:

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Those were very good points and it was a very easy to understand explanation.

Thanks!