As a form of religious censure, excommunication is used “to deprive or suspend members in a religious community.” Sanctions include exclusion from taking Holy Communion, a widespread practice among churchgoers in a Catholic country, which has one of the highest attendance in Holy Mass in the world. In most Catholic countries, Mass-going has been alarmingly falling, much to the concern of the Vatican.
The threat has been denied by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), in a face-saving back-off after Mr. Aquino told off the bishops he was not cowed by their threat and that he was firmly reiterating his position.
“We are all guided by our consciences. My position has not changed [since the election campaign in May],” Mr. Aquino said. “The state’s duty is to educate our families as to their responsibilities and to respect their decisions if they are in conformity with our laws.”
The issue has polarized Filipino Catholics and apparently reignited dormant Filipino anticlericalism spawned by the abuses of Spanish friars during the Spanish colonial rule.