According to the Catholic Encyclopedia
excommunication is a penalty and therefore supposes that there is guilt. If
there is no guilt, if the act in question is not sinful, then there is no excommunication
since there is nothing to penalilze. According to most theologians Sister
McBride's action was not sinfulindeeed it would have been sinful to
let that woman die. Therefore, talk of excommunication is meaningless theologically
as well as canonically.
The very concept of excommuication is shrinking away for good theological reasons. It reflects a corpus Christi juridicum rather than a corpus Christi mysticum, seeing the church in juridical, legal terms rather than as the company of believers struggling to be faithful to the mission of Jesus, to be peacemakers and to be "good news to the poor." Sister McBride was the quintessential Christian in this decision and she was very "good news" to this suffering woman. Her action was full of grace, a sterling example of the "mercy" and wisdom of her religious order.
Dan Maguire, Professor of Moral Theology, Marquette University firstname.lastname@example.org
Send this page to a friend!