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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. What is the meaning of ipso facto in the Catholic Church? Can you give me an example as to how it applies?

A. 1. Ipso facto is a Latin phrase, that means "by the fact itself." It other words, you automatically receive a certain consequence because of a certain action you have done.

Within the Roman Catholic Church, the phrase "latae sententiae" is more commonly used than "ipso facto" with regard to ecclesiastical penalties such as excommunication.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2272, we read, "Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae," "by the very commission of the offense," and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society."

In other words, anyone who participate in an abortion by formal cooperation incurs (receives) an automatic (ipso facto) excommunication. Such a person does not have to be informed that he/she is excommunicated. It is automatic as a consequence of his/her involvement in or towards an abortion.

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