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24. Absolution From Excommunication

1. The absolution we speak of here is not the absolution whichis a part of the sacrament of penance. That absolution isthe removing of sins from the soul of the penitent; the absolutionof which we now speak is the release of an excommunicated personfrom his censure. Absolution from sin is, indeed, usually requiredfor the rehabilitation of an excommunicated person, for the reasonfor his expulsion from the community of the faithful is grave sin,and he must be rid of that sin to be properly returned to the souland body of the Church. But the specific release of anexcommunicated person from the ecclesiastical ban, censure, andpenalty of excommunication, is the absolution of which wenow speak. Excommunication is imposed by ecclesiastical authority;therefore, only competent ecclesiastical authority can remove it;only an ecclesiastic with jurisdiction can absolve from it. In somecases of excommunication, a priest cannot absolve without obtainingjurisdiction from his bishop. In a few cases, in whichexcommunication has been imposed for most serious offences, theexcommunicated person cannot be absolved from his censure by anypriest except one who has received delegation of jurisdiction fromthe pope.

2. Excommunication can be absolved, even when theexcommunicated person does not seek absolution, or is opposed toit. For excommunication is imposed as a penalty for fault, but notas a fault itself. Now, while no fault can be forgiven without thecontrite will of the offender, penalty can be removed at the willof the one who imposed it, regardless of the will of him on whom itwas imposed.

3. Just as it is possible for a person to haveexcommunication added to excommunication, so also it is possiblefor such a person to have one excommunication absolved while othersremain.

"A person who rails at God in adversity, suffers without merit; moreover by his lack of resignation he adds to his punishment in the next life and experiences greater disquietude of mind in this life."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."
St Philip Neri

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"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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