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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.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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