Excommunication! | An interview with canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters | by Carl E. Olson | November 7, 2006
Dr. Edward Peters has doctoral degrees in canon and civil law, and operates the Canon Law Info website and the "In The Light of the Law" web log. He has authored or edited several books, including Annulments and the Catholic Church (Ascension Press), and is the translator of the English edition of The 1917 Pio Benedictine Code of Canon Law, published by Ignatius Press. His most recent book is Excommunication and the Catholic Church, published by Ascension Press. IgnatiusInsight.com editor Carl E. Olson, who had the pleasure of studying canon law under Dr. Peters, recently interviewed the canon lawyer about excommunication and his new book.
IgnatiusInsight.com: Do you have a simple definiation of "excommunication"?
Peters: Yes. Excommunication is the most serious censure the Catholic Church imposes on her members. Excommunication has roots deep in ecclesiastical history, and it is still applied, in fact increasingly applied, today. But it's more than a penalty for past actions; it's really an urgent call to reform one's conduct in the future. Excommunication is classified as a "medicinal penalty" by the Church precisely because its main purpose is to bring about reform in the individual. Having certain actions punished by excommunication demonstrates that certain actions are gravely wrong in themselves and cause deep harm both to their perpetrators and to others.