Latae sententiae

Latae sententiae

"Latae sententiae" is a Latin term used in the canon law of the Catholic Church meaning literally "given (laid down) sentence".

Officially, a "latae sententiae" penalty follows automatically, by force of the law itself, when the law is contravened.cite web |url= |title=Can. 1314 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law] A "latae sententiae" penalty may be either one of excommunication, interdict, or suspension. Excommunication prohibits the exercise of certain baptismal rights, and may involve restrictions on participation in liturgical events and church governance, and the reception of church benefits. [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1331 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law] [cite web |url= |title=Excommunication |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Catholic Encyclopedia| publisher=New Advent] An interdict involves the same liturgical restrictions as excommunication, but does not affect participation in church governance. [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1332 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law] Suspension, which affects only members of the clergy, affects all or some acts of power of orders, governance, or functions attached to an office. [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1333 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law]

In the code of Roman Catholic canon law currently in force, there are eight instances when a person may incur excommunication "latae sententiae." Unless the excusing circumstances outlined in canons 1321-1330 [cite web |url= |title=Cann. 1321-1330 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law] are verified, the following persons incur excommunication "latae sententiae":

* an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic; [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1364 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law]
* a person who throws away the consecrated Eucharistic species or takes and retains them for a sacrilegious purpose; [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1367 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law]
* a person who uses physical force against the Pope;cite web |url= |title=Can. 1370 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law]
* a priest who absolves an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment (the ban on adultery) except in danger of death;cite web |url= |title=Can. 1378 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law]
* a bishop who ordains someone a bishop without a pontifical mandate, and the person who receives the ordination from him; [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1382 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law]
* a confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal of confession; [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1388 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law]
* a person who procures a completed abortion; [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1398 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law] and
* accomplices who are not named in a law prescribing "latae sententiae" excommunication but without whose assistance the violation of the law would not have been committed. [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1329 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law]

Various other persons incur excommunication "latae sententiae" by papal decree, including:

* a person who violates the secrecy of a papal election, or who interferes with it by means such as simony; [cite web |url= |title=Universi Dominici Gregis |accessdate=2008-06-01 |author=John Paul II]
* a woman who is ordained as a priest or a bishop who ordains a woman as a priest. [ [ Vatican says will excommunicate women priests | International | Reuters ] ]

Some instances in which one incurs interdict "latae sententiae" include the following:

* using physical force against a bishop;
* attempting to preside at Eucharist, or giving sacramental absolution, when not a priest;
* falsely denouncing a confessor for soliciting a penitent to sin against the sixth commandment; [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1390 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law] and
* a perpetually professed religious who attempts marriage. [cite web |url= |title=Can. 1394 |accessdate=2008-06-01 |work=Code of Canon Law]

If the ecclesiastical authority notices someone incurring what it considers a latae sententiae penalty, it may declare that the person has done so. However, the punishment is in effect since the perceived fault was committed, and the declaration simply aims to ascertain what the Church considers a fact.

A latae sententiae penalty differs from a "ferendae sententiae" (sentence to be made) one. If one commits an ecclesiastical offense for which a "ferendae sententiae" punishment is prescribed, the penalty will only take effect when imposed by the competent ecclesiastical authority.

Note that "latae sententiae" is an "adjectival" phrase accompanying a "noun", such as "excommunication". In connection with a "verb", the corresponding "adverbial" phrase is in ablative absolute form, as in: "He was excommunicated "lata sententia"."


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