Page 8, 22nd July 1949

22nd July 1949
Page 8
Page 8, 22nd July 1949 — Communists Are Excommunicated

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Organisations: Communist party, Holy Office


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Communists Are Excommunicated


books, newspapers, periodicals or pamphlets which support Communist doctrine and practice. The Congregation, incidentally, declares that such activity is already forbidden by Church law, and refers to Canon 1399 of the Code of Canon Law.

This canon lists the various types of books which are forbidden to Catholics, Several of the classes mentioned in this canon would necessarily include publications favourable to Communism.


Answering the third question, the Holy Office teaches that Catholics who knowingly and willingly perform any of the acts mentioned in the preceding two queries, that is, Catholics who join the Communist party or support it, or Catholics who read or aid Communist publications, cannot be admitted to the Sacraments.

The Holy Office teaches " in accordance with the common principles governing the refusal of the Sacraments to those not having proper dispositions."

This statement amounts to an order forbidding the priests of the Church to give sacramental absolution to, or to admit to Holy Communion those Catholics who remain within the Communist party or who continue to support that organization or its literature.

This type of activity is represented by the Holy Office not only as sinful but as mortally sinful. By refusing to desist from such activity, a Catholic places himself in a'position in which he cannot receive the Sacraments with spiritual profit.


The answer to the fourth question is the most important of all. It is the teaching of the Holy Office that the man who professes the teachings of the Communist party, or who contributes to the support and the dissemination of those teachings, is considered as an apostate from the Catholic faith. whether he is a memher of the Communist party or not.

Such a man, the Holy Office I declares, is automatically excommunicated, deprived of Communion or association with the faithful in the Church.

This censure comes upon him when he deliberately sets out on this line of activity or continues upon it after he is aware of the Church's teaching on the point.

Despite the fact that the Sovereign Pontiff is, by his very position, the head of the Holy Office, and despite the fact that he expressly approved this response and commanded its publication, the document remains an act of the Holy Office rather than a statement of the Roman Pontiff himself.

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