It has come out that Rick Pitino, a Catholic and head coach of the men’s basketball team for the University of Louisville, impregnated a woman (not his wife) and then financially assisted her in procuring an abortion.
This means that, under Canon 1398, Pitino might be automatically excommunicated from the Church. This canon states:
“A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.”
This does not just include the mother of the child, but all formal conspirators of the abortion, such as those who financially assist in the payment for the abortion, as Mr. Pitino did.
However, it is possible that Pitino is not automatically excommunicated, as Canon 1323 stipulates that those ignorant of a law do not incur the sanction attached to it. Obviously, Pitino’s actions are a violation of the 5th commandment and must be confessed, but it is the duty of his confessor to determine if he needs to have the excommunication lifted by his bishop.
Before anyone thinks that this law is unduly harsh, remember that all excommunications are intended to be medicinal in nature. They are not “punishments” but treatment for a disease. In this case, Mr. Pitino has committed a grave sin and is responsible for the death of an innocent child (his own). The possibility of excommunication will hopefully bring home the gravity of his actions and lead him to the forgiving embrace of the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ.
Please pray for Pitino and all involved in this sordid affair.
(More information about Canon 1398 can be found on EWTN’s website).
Update: It appears now that Pitino is claiming that he gave the woman money for health insurance, not specifically for an abortion. Obviously, if he did not know that she used the money for an abortion, that directly impacts his potential excommunication.