The ExCom Saint

The Catholic Church has declared a dead nun to be an individual of exceptional holiness, a saint:

Mary MacKillop co-founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1867, and gained a reputation as the first Australian nun to leave the cities and minister to the rural poor.

While she was alive, though: she was excommunicated from the church for daring to tattle on a naughty priest:

Nuns in her order got evidence that a priest was engaged in “scandalous behavior,” according to the Rev. Paul Gardiner, who has spent decades researching MacKillop’s life.

“They told a lot of lies to the bishop,” who excommunicated MacKillop and the entire order in 1871 …

It’s a shame her words of warning were painted as “a lot of lies”. Very reminiscent of Pope Ratzinger’s dismissal of child molestation accusations as “mere gossip”. I wonder what, if anything, happened to that priest.

So, what the hell is excommunication? In it’s simplest form it’s not being allowed to participate in the society of the church. It’s implications within the beliefs system are more severe than a simple shunning, though.

Catholic Encyclopedia:

“Being a penalty, it supposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offence.”

“… it reaches the soul and the conscience. It is not merely the severing of the outward bond which holds the individual to his place in the Church; it severs also the internal bond, and the sentence pronounced on earth is ratified in heaven. It is the spiritual sword, the heaviest penalty that the Church can inflict”

You know, I have yet to meet a Catholic in American that takes any of this stuff seriously. Really. They occasionally laugh it off. Sometimes they shake their heads as if ashamed of the primitiveness of the beliefs, no matter how dressed up in fancy theology it is. It really is the oddest thing, to be a member of a group that exists solely because of  it’s supernatural beliefs and to not take those beliefs seriously.

Explore posts in the same categories: Superstition in the Modern World

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