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Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Are people who die while excommunicated damned?

Question:

What happens to those who die while excommunicated? Do they go to hell?

Answer:

Excommunication of laypeople principally means that they are cut off from receiving the sacraments. It does not mean that the Church is condemning a person to hell. In fact, excommunication is intended to be a medicine to inspire people to repent and be reconciled to the Church. Once reconciled to the Church, that person may again receive the sacraments.

If an excommunicated person dies without being formally reconciled to the Church, he can be saved if he truly and sincerely repents all of his mortal sins before death. Certainly we may pray that a person in these circumstances be interiorly reconciled to God and the Church through full repentance before death.

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