I’m thinking Associated Press needs to update its stylebook because nearly every mainstream reporter consistently gets wrong the difference between excommunication and being denied Communion. It may seem esoteric to outsiders, but there is a very, very big difference.
The impetus for the latest confusion is a series of reports that a Nigerian bishop has told his people that voting is a sacred duty for them and that anyone who does not register to vote in upcoming elections will be denied Communion.
Ed Peters warns that we should take all this with a grain of salt. The reporting smells like thirdhand “passing-on-of-information” and this may be far from what the bishop said. Ed also points out that any claim that a specific political activity is a sacred duty that could result in denial of the Eucharist under Canon 915—“Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”—is dubious at best. And, like I said, denial of Communion is not excommunication.
Nigeria may be a Third World nation, but they are not backwoods bumpkins. The Church in Nigeria is strong and capable and I’m wary of attempts to portray them as otherwise.
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