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Excommunication? Let the punishment fit the crime

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 11, 2013

My favorite canon-law blogger, Edward Peters, is unhappy with the Rockford Pro-Life Initiative for demanding the excommunication of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, an advocate of same-sex marriage.

Peters does not agree with Quinn—not by a long shot. On the contrary, he believes that Quinn should be subject to canonical discipline. But he reminds us that excommunication is a particular disciplinary remedy, applicable only in certain carefully defined cases. “Support for so-call ‘gay-marriage’ is not an excommunicable offense,” Peters says, “and it cannot be made one except in accord with Canons 1314-1318, none of which has been put on the table.”

”Meanwhile Canon 1369 gets ignored again, and for that matter Canon 915 is overlooked as a possible response,” Peters continues. There are appropriate penalties. By calling for excommunication, which is not an appropriate penalty in this case, conservative Catholics confuse matters, at a time when clarity would be more likely to prompt effective action.

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