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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.

"It is better to be burdened and in company with the strong than to be unburdened and with the weak. When you are burdened you are close to God, your strength, who abides with the afflicted. When you are relieved of the burden you are close to yourself, your own weakness; for virtue and strength of soul grow and are confirmed in the trials of patience."
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"We must not be behind time in doing good; for death will not be behind his time. "
St Phillip Neri

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"For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?"
Thomas á Kempis

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