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Eucharistic Ecclesiology and Excommunication

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A Critical Investigation of the Meaning and Praxis of Exclusion from the Sacrament of the Eucharist

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The practice of excommunication is first described in the New Testament as the conscious decision by the faithful community to exclude one of its own from the celebration of the Eucharist. It is a decision rooted in medicinal hopefulness, where the community excludes an offender from active participation in its sacramental life while always maintaining the bonds of charity and fellowship. The understanding of excommunication now seems to be shifting away from its communitarian roots, as seen in the writings of Paul, Ignatius of Antioch, and Cyprian of Carthage, towards a post-Vatican II ecclesiology that appears to emphasize the individual’s judgment of their own worthiness to receive communion. By investigating the developments in the understanding of excommunication in three stages: the Patristic era, the Scholastic period and the contemporary Catholic Church, it can be illustrated that the concepts of internal worthiness of reception of communion and external excommunication are in fact not as disparate as originally believed.

Affiliations: 1: The Catholic University of America, School of Theology and Religious Studies, Washington, DC 20064, USA, longdp@cua.edu

10.1163/17455316-01002005
/content/journals/10.1163/17455316-01002005
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/content/journals/10.1163/17455316-01002005
2014-05-05
2017-11-24

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