Saturday, July 29, 2006

Excommunication, Canon Law and Pensions

A Catholic laywoman who regularly forwards me little tidbits from time to time emailed me this morning with the following item. Seems that a Catholic priest, who is interested in the Jean Marchant case, left a comment at the Magisterial Fidelity Blog asking, "Has anyone inquired [as to] whether the Archdiocese is going to give the excommunicated woman [Marchant, who was recently 'ordained"] her pension? Priests don't get their pensions when they are excommunicated."

Another individual (who prefers to remain anonymous), wrote: "Stealing someone's pension strikes me as being one of the worst and most disgusting forms of theft. If this woman is, in fact, entitled to a pension, I'm guessing that the Archdiocese could not legally withhold it from her because of excommunication."

"Anonymous" would be guessing wrong though. Here's what Canon Law has to say about excommunications and expiatory penalties:

"Can. 1312 §1 The penal sanctions in the Church are:

1° medicinal penalties or censures, which are listed in cann. 1331-1333;

2° expiatory penalties, mentioned in can. 1336; §2 The law may determine other expiatory penalties which deprive a member of Christ's faithful of some spiritual or temporal good, and are consistent with the Church's supernatural purpose. §3 Use is also made of penal remedies and penances: the former primarily to prevent offences, the latter rather to substitute for or to augment a penalty."

One such "temporal good" is an individual's pension.

There is something else troubling about the comment left by "anonymous." And it is this: There doesn't appear to be any concern on this individual's part regarding a much more "disgusting form of theft." And here I'm referring to the theft of authentic Catholic doctrine. The People of God have a right to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity. In his Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II makes specific mention of "the right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity" and insists that this right "must always be respected."(No. 113).

It doesn't surprise me that "anonymous" would be more concerned over the prospect of Jean Marchant possibly losing her pension than about "the right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity." After all, as Jesus told us so clearly, the pagans are more concerned about the things of this world than the things of heaven.


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