A reader pointed out this article in Catholic World News which suggests that John Kerry has been excommunicated.
From a quick reading of the documents, it appears that a canon lawyer in Los Angeles named Marc Balestrieri brought a complaint against John Kerry, which the Vatican responded to last month. I gather that the answer has just now been made public.
The Vatican’s response is by Father Basil Cole, a Dominican theologian based in Washington, DC, who said he had been assigned to give an unofficial response to the question that Balestrieri had submitted. He answers two questions that Balestrieri had posed, both affirmatively. His letter concludes:
Consequently, if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Can. 751 of the Code. Provided that the presumptions of knowledge of the law and penalty and imputability are not rebutted in the external forum, one is automatically excommunicated according to Can. 1364, Sec. 1.
Catholic World News says that “[t]he type of excommunication outlined in the new information is called latae sententiae, which means that it occurs automatically and does not require a formal pronouncement by any Church official.”
The same logic would apply to almost every Catholic Democratic politician.
I’m not a Catholic, let alone sufficiently well-versed in these matters to be clear on whether this is significant news or not. The commenters on the Catholic News World site are divided, but some say that this is merely an unofficial, private statement of orthodox church dogma, and therefore nothing new. As a practical matter, whether the Church’s response is significant probably depends on whether the press treats it as such. Kerry will certainly not put himself in a position between now and November 2 where he will be denied Communion, and failing that, there is no reason why the media should take up this issue–if it is an issue–at all.
Arguably, Kerry might gain as many votes as he would lose by being excommunicated. On the other hand, a news tempest on this subject would certainly be an unwelcome distraction as Kerry enters the last two weeks of the campaign.