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Amy Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was raised in the Catholic Church but fell away in my early twenties and lived in a common-law relationship. My husband passed away and I have returned to the Church. I am now 72 and married (in the Catholic Church) to a Catholic gentleman. I go to Mass and receive Holy Communion every Sunday.

My problem is that in my late thirties I signed for my 15-year-old daughter to have an abortion.

Of course the first time back to Confession, after being away for forty odd years, one can't always remember everything, so when Father granted me absolution I figured all was forgiven.

While going through the dictionary in the back of my Bible it said being involved in an abortion excommunicates those involved from the Church. Since reading this, I have been physically ill.

Everyone says that God is all loving and forgiving and that if you are truly sorry, He will forgive you. God only knows how very sorry I really am.

  • So do you think I can be forgiven?

Please help me.

Thank you!

Amy

  { Will I be forgiven if I didn't know being involved in an abortion was excommunicatable? }

Bob replied:

Amy,

If you truly forgot about the incident at the time of your Confession and did not intend to purposely omit or conceal it, you did receive absolution for it.

The problem is now your conscience is still catching up with it. You can mention it in your next Confession, but the priest would tell you the same thing: you have been forgiven.

Excommunication is for those that have not yet repented of the sin of abortion and persist in the state of mortal sin; that does not apply to you now.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Amy —

Just to clarify Bob's answer from the given scenario, you did not occur the excommunication because you were unaware that you were committing a sin that would excommunicate you.

A review of Canons 1323 and 1324 (below) with a concentration on 1323, 2° will indicate what
I am talking about.

You should meet with a priest either in or out of Confession and explore this issue with him. Hopefully, the priest will explore your culpability.

Can. 1323 The following are not subject to a penalty when they have violated a law or precept:

1° a person who has not yet completed the sixteenth year of age;

2° a person who without negligence was ignorant that he or she violated a law or precept; inadvertence and error are equivalent to ignorance;

3° a person who acted due to physical force or a chance occurrence which the person could not foresee or, if foreseen, avoid;

4° a person who acted coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;

5° a person who acted with due moderation against an unjust aggressor for the sake of legitimate self defense or defense of another;

6° a person who lacked the use of reason, without prejudice to the prescripts of canons ⇒ 1324, §1, n. 2 and ⇒ 1325;

7° a person who without negligence thought that one of the circumstances mentioned in numbers 4 or 5 was present.

Can. 1324 §1. The perpetrator of a violation is not exempt from a penalty, but the penalty established by law or precept must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was committed:

1° by a person who had only the imperfect use of reason;

2° by a person who lacked the use of reason because of drunkenness or another similar culpable disturbance of mind;

3° from grave heat of passion which did not precede and hinder all deliberation of mind and consent of will and provided that the passion itself had not been stimulated or fostered voluntarily;

4° by a minor who has completed the age of sixteen years;

5° by a person who was coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience if the delict is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;

6° by a person who acted without due moderation against an unjust aggressor for the sake of legitimate self defense or defense of another;

7° against someone who gravely and unjustly provokes the person;

8° by a person who thought in culpable error that one of the circumstances mentioned in ⇒ canon 1323, numbers 4 or 5 was present;

9° by a person who without negligence did not know that a penalty was attached to a law or precept;

10° by a person who acted without full imputability provided that the imputability was grave.

§2. A judge can act in the same manner if another circumstance is present which diminishes the gravity of a delict.

§3. In the circumstances mentioned in §1, the accused is not bound by a latae sententiae penalty.

I hope this helps,

Fr. Jonathan

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