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Excommunication

Generally associated with the Roman Catholic church, excommunication is religious censure intended to deprive one of membership of a religious community and, in the Catholic context, preclude the excommunicated from salvation. Excommunication is considered automatic for some sins within the Catholic church, but can also be a formal affair, generally reserved for renegade clerygymen and such.

The word literally means "out of communion"; the outward sign of this loss of community involves barring the person from participating in Communion, i.e., receiving the Eucharist, and as a consequence losing their status as members of the church. One continues to be considered Catholic, but a Catholic who is damned to Hell. In Eastern Orthodoxy, a person may also be barred from receiving the Eucharist. In this context however, this merely changes the member's classification in the parish from 'faithful' to 'penitent'. Excommunication is often intended to be only temporary, a "medicinal" procedure intended to provoke repentance. Excommunication can only be revoked by the Pope or the Bishop of the offender's home Diocese, except when the offender is in danger of death.

There are seven sins for which Catholics are automatically excommunicated:

See also: Shunning



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