Free Will, Fulfillment and Excommunication

Crisis Magazine


[ Emphasis and {Commentary} in red type by Abyssum ]


Recently, Bishop Paprocki releaseddecree on “same-sex ‘marriage’ and related pastoral issues.” Some Catholics interpreted it as an unjust singling-out (and rejection) of a specific group of persons. In terms of sin itself they do have a point—we are all sinners. However, some went as far as to interpret it as a form of excommunication. What seemed absent in the grievances I encountered was an understanding of a person’s specific choice to continually reject God. That’s significant because that’s where we enter the realm of excommunication, which is a serious matter worth exploring.

What does it mean to reject God?
We reject God anytime we willfully reject the Order of Creation, as revealed in nature.

This includes:

  1. Elevating finite creation above infinite Creator.
  2. Assuming that our Creator God isn’t capable of forgiving the sins of persons he created.
  3. Elevating temporal human experience to be of greater importance/value than objective truth itself.

When we choose to reject God (via our rejection of the Order of Creation), we are guilty of a sin of commission. However, if sin is perceived as being merely philosophical in nature (possibly invented by the Church), it can easily be (errantly) ignored. Thus, we might do well to re-introduce sin in terms of a concrete standard. In the eyes of the Church, that standard is the Order of Creation, as revealed in nature. This is the art of the Divine Artist, which encompasses both visible and invisible realms, and both intra-universal and extra-universal domains. It’s what the Church refers to as natural law, or what is revealed to be of nature, or natural (which is commonly misinterpreted to mean what “feels natural” or what comes easily).

A Matter of Approach
To better understand, it may be valuable for us to consider the following questions.

Do we see the Church as:

  1. The inventor of truth, or the upholder of truth?
  2. Merely “rules” to follow, or a mystery to pursue?
  3. A means of establishing social order and behavioral norms, or a means to draw persons into the most holy, virtuous, and intimate encounter with the Creator of our universe through the Sacraments instituted by Christ?

If the latter (of each) are not wholeheartedly embraced, then we are at greater risk of inaccurately perceiving excommunication as a “punishment” from the Church for “stepping out of line” behaviorally. However, it is the latter (of each) that draws us to shift our focus from behavior to holiness and virtue. Since excommunication is a matter of a person being unrepentantly attached to their chosen sin in their heart (which may drive certain behavioral choices), it follows that we ought to approach excommunication though the lens of holiness and virtue, for those are matters of the heart. Further, in addressing the attachments of our hearts (and the disposition of our hearts overall) above any notion of behavior, we not only elevate the conversation to be about one’s openness to growing in the fullness of virtue, but we also introduce an approach that discriminates against no one, for we all have been gifted with the fullness of free will over our hearts.

This approach also illuminates the joyful witness to the vocation of “Yes” (to holiness and virtue), which lifts us past the fixation on the (false) vocation of “No” (to behavior management based on having to deny our deepest desires “in order to be a good Catholic”). It’s virtue and holiness that challenge us to transform our hearts to desire something greater; a more complete unity with God, further aligned with his will. Virtue thus challenges us to die to ourselves and to our own attachments so that we may be more profoundly aligned with the truths of the Order of Creation, as revealed in nature.  {This beautiful paragraph really vitiates the current heterodoxy in Rome that law and the observance of law renders one “rigid”.}

The Influence of Experience
Many Catholics choose to endorse homosexual relationships because they see persons involved as happy, or even complementary (in terms of masculine/feminine interests/activities/tendencies, emotional state, and or even personality). They may also see a number of redeeming human qualities within such relationships—which of course may be present. However, these circumstances don’t undo the existence of the Order of Creation itself, or a person’s choice to reject it. Unfortunately, however, sentimentalism seems to be influencing people to ignore the Order of Creation in its fullness, in favor of personal experience.

Despite any positive reflection of humanity that may be present within a homosexual relationship, what remains is the commitment to utilize sexual faculties in a way that counters their purpose as structurally created. Further, this rejection of the Order of Creation is chosen with foreknowledge, and it continues in perpetuity for the length of the homosexual relationship itself. Thus, a person in such a relationship may be, dependent on degree of knowledge, in a state of excommunication in perpetuity, such as long as they choose to remain in that relationship.  {Wow!  That is really telling it as it truly is.  The perceived ‘good’ of an illicit relationship disguises the fundamental truth that the relationship is self destructive, and that is true whether the relationship is homosexual (which is the point of the author) or heterosexual (which is also true).}

Bound to a Journey?
Given that neuroscience, educational psychology, and even many contemporary gender ideology activists (never mind the Catechism itself) agree that it’s inaccurate to claim a person is “created that way by God,” and given that attractions experienced are not specifically chosen while our embraced identities are specifically chosen, it follows that no one is bound to any particular life trajectory along any orientation, and no one is bound to any particular identity or way of seeing themselves. Thus, no one is bound to any particular journey towards fulfillment.

This is relevant because many people in homosexual relationships believe that God created them that way and that it’s against their “nature” to deny themselves a homosexual relationship as a means of fulfillment. However, given that self-concept influences what we perceive to be fulfilling, we might do well to look at the bigger question of identity formation, alongside addressing one’s openness to growing in the fullness of virtue.

Perhaps it would be valuable for people to prayerfully consider how:

  1. Our brains are formed in the ways we use them.
  2. Our future desires are influenced by the desires we pursue today.
  3. We are subject to unintended after-effects of our choices, which subconsciously condition our brains to desire certain things more or less intensely.
  4. Continuously tasting the joy of holiness and virtue draws us to increasingly desire that which is holy and virtuous.
  5. The Church calls all people (regardless of attractions experienced) to holy, virtuous sexuality.

The fact is, by our own free will, we “become” an identity in as much as we choose that to be the case. As we wholeheartedly embrace identities (not just to describe but to define ourselves), we become more firmly entrenched within an idea of how we ought to pursue fulfillment. This greatly influences the types of behavioral choices we will make going forward, and those choices will reflect our decisions to reject or not reject the Order of Creation in its fullness. However, because of our free will, we can always choose to reject the rejecting of the Order of Creation, and return to a more complete union with God. Thus, with regard to excommunication, it means that no person is bound to stay excommunicated, unless they choose that to be the case by their continued choice to reject God with full knowledge of their circumstance. {This valuable paragraph adds to my campaign against pornography; when one willingly watches pornography one “becomes” addicted even as cocaine or other drugs cause one’s brain to shape the future choices one makes.}

For as long as we are in that state of awareness but are unwilling to turn away from this commitment (which indeed may involve great personal sacrifice), we are choosing to maintain our rejection of the Order of Creation, rejection of God as Divine Artist, and our state of self-imposed excommunication.  {Excommunication Latae Sentencia, i.e. self-imposed.}

In some cases, excommunication could be remedied via a sincere confession with a truly contrite heart, paired with a firm, authentic resolve to “go and sin no more,” or rather, “go and uphold nature and restore the Order of Creation.” Where an official excommunication decree has been issued {excommunication ferendae sententiae} (on account of a person’s refusal to repent of their rejection of the Order of Creation), there may be further action required before the decree is lifted.

The Church desires we all find joy and fulfillment, but the Church also knows that our Infinite Creator will provide joy and fulfillment to the greatest degree, especially through the Sacraments. Thus, it’s with a grieving heart that the Church is forced to deny persons certain sacraments, and or acknowledge excommunication, because she knows those Sacraments are able to draw us to that joy and fulfillment that we were created to enter. The Church longs for our return to God regardless of our journeys thus far, so that our hearts may become fully open to the graces that he is waiting to pour out onto us. These are the graces that allow us to live joyfully (even amid suffering) whilst being fed by the Creator of the Order of Creation, whose love and mercy is truly limitless.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is Bishop Paprocki of Springfield delivering a sermon in 2013.

Hudson Byblow


Hudson Byblow lives in the Midwest where he has a career in education. He has presented at several conferences for the Courage Apostolate and is often invited to share his testimony to clergy, schools and parishes. He consults for various Catholic agencies, speakers, and educators, in the United States and in Canada. His website is www.hudsonbyblow.com.






  • This from my treasured copy of Father Faber’s Spiritual Conferences from 1859. Yes EIGHTEEN FIFTY NINE and as with almost every piece in that book of his, it positively overflows holiness, mercy and truth. There is NO way to understand deep SSA without acknowledging his point:

    “It is taken for granted that every spiritual disease has a cure – not a partial alleviation, not a counterbalancing comfort, not a check which shall hinder its becoming fatal, but an absolute cure, a specific which shall end in a complete restoration to health. I get quite angry with books and sermons for the thoughtless things they say about this. Surely, it is a simple untruth. In the matter of bodily health, there are diseases which cannot be cured, wounds which will leave us maimed or lamed to the end of life, constitutional maladies which can be controlled and limited, yet never cured. With such evils, we have to content ourselves with medical superintendence, ceaseless physic, a dietary yoke and the like. Why should we be surprised at finding similar maladies in the spiritual life? Look at the absurdity of the opposite supposition. You do not surely believe in the perfectability of human nature on this side of the grave or that your corrupt natures shall become incorruptible while still mortal. Yet your vexation when you can not have a regular cure, cut and dried, for every spiritual disease implies that you have these monstrous expectations. Some spiritual maladies are incurable of themselves because of our nature. This is true of self-deceit and other forms of self-love. Others are incurable in the individual case; and this may arise from past sin or natural character or from unchangeable outward circumstances. In some cases the knowledge of the evil is all that we can attain to. In many cases the management of the mischief is our highest attainment. In others, the diminution of it is the utmost we can hope for. Surely this is common sense. The other doctrine, beside being nonsense, is a grand source of discouragement, while it also foments unreality and fosters delusions.”
    -Father Frederick Faber “THE MONOTONY OF PIETY”

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      Outstanding find Klos. Thank you.

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        Faber’s Spiritual Conferences are one of the treasures of Catholic faith. ‘On Kindness’ is the most tender and spiritually nourishing of all his works. His ‘On Self Deceit’ is one of the most terrifyingly expositions of fallen humanity ever put on the page – and yet it is exhilarating because TRUE. In the temperamental struggle between Newman and Faber, I have always been a ‘Faberite’.

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      Does he have a Cause yet – and if not, why not?

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        That would be a long, long shot.
        “In recent years, however, Faber’s reputation has suffered. Some
        Catholics have found him too Roman, too Marian, too exuberant in his
        piety. Some Newman scholars have sided with Newman in his quarrel with
        Faber and have written disparagingly of Faber. And even Faber’s classic
        hymn has been tampered with. In the 1990s, feminist-minded church
        musicians added a new stanza to “Faith of Our Fathers”:

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    Revealed truth must be taught and defended especially under the regrettable pontificate of “who am I to judge”

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    Excellent article. Ex-communication is ontological first and ecclesiological second. The Church confirms the reality of a person’s self-imposed excommunication. One suggestion: we are all bound to a certain ontological trajectory…we are all called to live out the vocation of a Child of God. We can learn about this vocation by studying the saints, partaking of the sacraments, praying the Rosary, daily mass, and conforming our lives more and more to the life of that ultimate Child of God, the Son of God: Jesus Christ.

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    I’m printing Bishop Paprocki’s decree to study it, but at first glance I would say it deserves our applause and support. By contrast the protests recounted in the New Way’s Ministry report are ludicrous–including those of Fr. James Martin (again). I thought Jesuits were supposed to be brilliant. His criticism is fuzzy and disproportionate comparing what Hudson points out in his article as a deliberate and sustained rejection, explicit or implicit of God and the Order of Creation, with an occasional failure to care for the poor, or creation, or to be forgiving. Where is the rigour of thought that once characterized–so we are told–the Society of Jesus? How do Fr. James Schall and Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Fr. Fessio and others put up with this? Long overdue for a house cleaning and restoration.

    Christ is in our midst,

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    I loved this article! It was just brilliant!

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    Unfortunately, many peoples’ idea of what excommunication means is still colored by the medieval practice of barring such persons from even entering a church. That practice was long-abandoned; excommunication simply means that one is not admitted to Holy Communion. To sum it up, the purpose of excommunication is not and has never been punishment; it is meant to help the person avoid punishment, of the eternal variety.

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    It seems to me that many same-sex attracted men & women begin by insisting that “God made me this way”, proceed from there to an assertion of the unjustness or cruelty of God, and end up rejecting the notion of moral absolutes as a means of justifying their actions. I have never, ever met an active SSA man or woman who retained any belief in moral absolutes of any kind.

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    Excellent presentation, clear logic, undeniable truth. Thank-you.

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    Bishop Paprocki, is defending the Faith and not changing the image of the Church = Christ Truly a faithful Apostle. May the Holy Spirit daily fill his heart with the Fire that will spread the fulness of the Lord’s teachings.

    Present day Apostles and priests who change the Image of the Vatican

    Vatican cardinal
    — Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio:
    — ‘Amoris Laetitia’ allows some remarried to take Communion

    – Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia —Vatican Pro-Life Academy.

    Vatican pro-life academy head defends pro-abortion member by saying he’s not pro-abortion

    Blaming “media misinterpretations,” Paglia said there is “practically nothing” accurate in allegations that Biggar is “in favor of abortion

    Paglia said this despite the fact that the University of Oxford professor stated rather unequivocally in that 2011 dialogue with pro-infanticide ethicist Peter Singer that a preborn baby is “not … the same kind of thing as an adult or a mature human being” and therefore does not deserve “quite the same treatment.”
    At that time, Biggar said, “I would be inclined to draw the line for abortion at 18 weeks after conception, which is roughly about the earliest time when there is some evidence of brain activity, and therefore of consciousness,” as reported by Standpoint Magazine.

    Archbishop Paglia also overlooked Biggar’s statement one year later when he was the keynote speaker for an event at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. “It is not true that all abortion is equivalent to murder,” Biggar said.

    —-Fr. Antoni Spadaro —(mouth piece of Pope Francis)
    Under Spadaro’s direction, La Civiltà Cattolica has consistently asserted during and after the Synod of the Family that the Church is evolving toward allowing Communion for the divorced and remarried.

    1 – Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, Germany

    Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the country’s bishops’ conference, said, “We are not just a subsidiary of Rome,” and the synod on the family “cannot prescribe in detail what we have to do in Germany.” This is of particular concern, given that the majority of German bishops wish to allow holy Communion to remarried divorcees, a banned practice, but one bishops already turn a blind eye to, especially in many German dioceses, but also in others.

    2-Bishop Robert McElory — San Diego, California

    Calls upon his priests in his diocese to welcome the active LGBT community.
    Calls upon his priests to consider allowing divorced and remarried to approach Holy Communion.

    3-Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin – Newark,New Jersey

    Welcomes gay activists to his cathedral. Presents himself as their brother.
    Did not the Lord Jesus say that His brother, His sister, His mother is one who does the Will of the Father.

    The gay activists community are not doing the Will of the Father. If the Cardinal accepts them as they are, is he doing the Will of the Father? If not, then the Cardinal is falsely attributing his role as –brother.

    4-Bishop Patrick McGrath, Bishop of San Jose, Ca.

    He tells practicing homosexauls will not be refused the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

    He tells practicing homosexauls will not be refused a Christian burial as long as they request them in “good faith”. Is his notion of good faith in accord with the Lord Jesus who says to repent and go sin no more. Or is his notion that of “ones good conscience” that says if I believe it is okay, then I can do it”

    5-Cardinal Blasé J. Cupich – Archdiocese of Chicago

    He proposed a pathway based on “ones good conscience” homosexuals should receive Holy Communion based on —“they have to follow their conscience.”

    The Cardinal will host a Pro-gay journalist at the Chicago Theology on Tap – Summer 2017.

    6- Jesuit Fr. James Martin – Pro-gay – is named by Pope Francis as a consultant to the Vatican.

    July 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Jesuit Father James Martin, who Pope Francis recently made a consultant to the Vatican, said on Good Morning America that he likes the “born this way” message of Lady Gaga.

    The song “Born This Way” is widely used as an anthem for the LGBT lobby. It features lyrics like “No matter gay, straight, or bi / Lesbian, transgendered life / I’m on the right track baby / I was born to survive” and “a different lover is not a sin.”

    “I was born this way” is repeated about 30 times throughout the song.

    Archbishop Chaput’s words about Fr. Martin’s book

    “In his recent book Building a Bridge (HarperOne), Father James Martin, S.J., calls the Church to a spirit of respect, compassion and sensitivity in dealing with persons with same-sex attraction. This is good advice. It makes obvious sense. He asks the same spirit from persons in the LGBT community when dealing with the Church. Father Martin is a man whose work I often admire. Building a Bridge, though brief, is written with skill and good will.

    But what the text regrettably lacks is an engagement with the substance of what divides faithful Christians from those who see no sin in active same-sex relationships. The Church is not simply about unity – as valuable as that is – but about unity in God’s love rooted in truth. If the Letter to the Romans is true, then persons in unchaste relationships (whether homosexual or heterosexual) need conversion, not merely affirmation. If the Letter to the Romans is false, then Christian teaching is not only wrong but a wicked lie. Dealing with this frankly is the only way an honest discussion can be had.”


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      Some of your news is past-tense. For instance, that “Theology on Tap” session in Chicago, with Cardinal Cupich himself, Father Thomas Rosica, and pro-gay journalist Michael O’Loughlin as featured speakers, took place 10 days ago, on Monday, 10 July 2017.

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        I do not understand — “some of your news is past-tense.” Clarify?

        {The author of the previous comment merely meant that the examples he cited were recent and he was not implying that the scandal is continuing in Rome and everywhere else.}
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    “We are subject to unintended after-effects of our choices, which subconsciously condition our brains to desire certain things more or less intensely”

    Our delusions of predictability and control are just that.


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    This is a powerful article. And i am going to share something deeply personal, and i can not say it is even rational when placed in context with the rest of my beliefs.

    As a Christian, i followed the rules about sex. In fact, maybe i followed them too closely. I eventually found myself in a position where i could not engage in intimacy with a woman because dotting all the i’s, crossing all the t’s made it impossible to be intimate.

    I am now 45, and still single. And now too inflexible to adapt to co-habitation with any one.

    And there is a certain amount of derangement that i experience in this condition. I envy the homosexual, lesbian or queer that has a relationship, because i feel like my sin in not coupling, in not expressing that part of human growth, is so much greater than theirs in coupling errantly. I have still committed the greater sin by shutting my life off from any one who may have loved me.

    Does this make any sense?

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      Your fundamental mistake is believing that “my sin in not coupling”.. Jesus did not couple, nor did Paul. Virginity is holy and good. The fundamental evil belief in modernity is that one must have sex to experience human growth.
      God bless, Michael

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        Also, there is a movement called MGTOW (Men going their own way) who would love to be in your position considering that hundreds of thousands of men have been divorced rape by feminism in the court systems. God has saved you from much suffering. Be thankful
        God bless, Michael


    About abyssum

    I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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