What Are Seven Offenses?

Hello father,

In an article you have posted, you mentioned that: "Abortion still is one of seven offenses which bring automatic excommunication, but when the priest gives you absolution, the excommunication is lifted and you can return to communion."

I'm not familiar with these seven offenses. I'm a Catholic who hasn't been making it to mass lately for a variety of reasons (excuses). I hope to be able to change this soon as it bothers me and I talk with God about it regularly asking his forgiveness. I read through many of your more recent letters and responses and appreciate the way you have considered the various questions and you insight in your answers. I believe I live a good life (overall) but I know I do some things which are wrong. I have good intentions of getting to confession as soon as some things change in my life (in the near future) but of course I know what is said about good intentions. I am concerned because I had never heard that there were any acts which brough automatic excommunication.

I know you are a busy man but I would greatly appreciate a response when you have the chance.

Thank you father,



Dear Kyle,

Thank you for the email and kind words. I hope you have begun going to Mass on a regular basis - and have made a good confession. If not, please do so as soon as possible.

The seven offenses which bring automatic excommunication ("latae sententiae, so that it is incurred automatically upon the commission of an offence") are spelled out in canon law. Like legal language everywhere, it is a little bit complex. However, apart from procurring or participating in an abortion, the average Catholic is unlikely to commit one of the offenses. They involve the following: using violent force against the pope, committing a sacrilege such as throwing away a consecrated host, absolving a person with whom one has committed a sin against the six commandment, consecrating a bishop without a pontifical mandate, directly violating the seal of confession and formal apostasy, heresy or schism.

Excommunication, though an extreme penalty, is not meant for condemnation, but the eventual salvation of the person excommunicated (see I Cor 5:1-5). So even if a person falls into such an offense, for example by paying for an abortion, they could be forgiven by sincere repentance and through the sacrament of confession.

My prayers for you. Please keep me in yours.

Fr. Phil Bloom

Did Jesus Found Catholic Church?

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