Chalk this up as another Great Moment in Religious Reporting.
Newsweek (they’re still in business?) ran a story covering the USCCB Spring Meeting, during which Bishop Weisenburger of Arizona suggested that Catholics who assist in the Trump’s administration immigration policy of separating children from their parents be subjected to ‘canonical penalties’. The writer, in an effort to be helpful, I’m sure, included a definition of canonical penalty:
“A canonical penalty is defined as a punishment imposed by the church, which could include purgatory or excommunication. Catholic church laws are outlined in the Code of Canon law, a system of laws for regulation within the church.”
Um, dude. The Church doesn’t have the authority or power to punish Catholics with Purgatory. You gotta be dead to enter purgatory – your local DMV or Verizon store doesn’t qualify. And once you’re dead, the Church can’t do nothin’. Purgatory is a state or condition of temporal punishment for those who, after death, are not entirely free of attachment to sin, and must be purged of all imperfections before reaching heaven. It’s where most Catholic bloggers are gonna end up.
I suppose it’s too much to ask a Newsweek reporter to understand Purgatory, though, when most Catholics probably don’t understand it either, based on how Catholic funerals tend to be unofficial canonizations. Still, he would’ve done himself and his reader a favor had he consulted a Catholic encyclopedia for his definition, and not a citation from the USLegal website.