VATICAN CITY -- Catholics forced to participate in ordinations of bishops without the pope’s approval may be exempt from the usual penalty of automatic excommunication, the Vatican said on June 10.
Bishops who consecrate other bishops without a papal “mandate” incur automatic excommunication, as do the men they consecrate and all other ministers who participate in the ceremony, according to a church document published in the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
All of those excommunicated are thereafter forbidden to celebrate Mass, administer or receive any Catholic sacraments, or “exercise ministerial functions” unless their excommunications are lifted by the pope.
Yet the council’s statement allows for “mitigating circumstances,” under which the penalty of excommunication does not apply. Specifically, if any of the parties was “coerced by grave fear ... or grave inconvenience” to participate in an authorized ordination, he can avoid automatic expulsion from the church.