Saturday, September 03, 2005

FRATERNAL CORRECTION: In light of this weekend's Gospel...
Fr. Paul Scalia, Arlington, VA at Catholic Exchange: FULL HOMILY HERE
"...This obligation to correct rests even more on the Church’s hierarchy, which holds the power to bind and loose. Our Lord directs that the obstinate sinner be brought before the Church. And if "he refuses to listen even to the church," then we are to treat him as "a Gentile or a tax collector" (Mt 18:17), which is to say, place the person outside the Church. We can see this sobering instruction as a primitive expression of the Church’s penalty of excommunication, which forbids reception of the sacraments and excludes from the Church’s Communion.

This punishment is indeed severe. Yet the severity itself serves the good of the individual soul. It reveals the gravity of the person’s sin and therefore (we hope) provokes repentance within the individual. The purpose of excommunication is not to get rid of someone but to shock the person into asking forgiveness. Further, by removing a cause of scandal and division, excommunication serves the good of the Church. It clarifies the Church’s teachings and requirements for Communion, and so it prevents further harm to the Body of Christ.

Members of the Church’s hierarchy bear the burden of correcting those who bring great harm upon themselves and the Church. They should learn from the sad fate of Eli who, although a good man, fell out of favor with the Lord because he failed to rebuke his sons (cf. 1 Sm 3:13). So also the priest, bishop or pope who fails to correct error fails to help souls and does a disservice to the Church by allowing scandal and division to fester.


Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com