Second, I do not think that my argument is disingenuous, neither is my motivation. My own personal background in this is a conversation with a Dominican after that priest who denied communion to an "out" and in his face lesbian was disciplined. After that I read some articles. I am presenting what I read.
Third. Latae sententiae is, arguably, different from "declared." When a law puts in a modifier it suggests a distinction between the thing as modified and another instance of the thing without that modifier.
Fourth. "Declaration" is, so to speak, binary. A thing is either declared (and promulgated) or not. (And right there, with the addition of the IMHO implied "promulgated" we have to two-element "truth table".) But with respect to " others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin" we have two matters of judgment, obstinacy and manifestness, of which both would seem to be necessary. Since they are matters of judgment, the question ceases to be a slam dunk.
Fifth, I dispute the contention that I put myself in a position where I am calling Pope Benedict wrong or mendacious. You write:
Unless, of course, your argument is that Pope Benedict XVI was wrong and automatic excommunication isn't really the same as someone being excommunicated by formal declaration.I think that latae sententiae ("automatic") excommunication DOES differ from excommunication which comes with a declaration or the obstinacy and manifestness discussed above. If not (I suggest), they would not have used those words. If the canon makes the distinction, then the interpreter of the canon must make the distinction or show -- by argument -- how it is not really a distinction. But the DEFAULT interpretation has to be IMHO that they used the words on purpose.
They differ, I argue, precisely in the matter of who enforces and how they enforce. The obligation on the excommunicate person does NOT differ, and the sin committed when he communicates is the same in kind (if different in gravity) in either case.
So when the Pope -- or the beggar in the street -- OBSERVES that someone is excommunicate, that observation is not the same as a declaration. I can observe (and have observed) that Sebelius, Pelosi, and Biden are excommunicate, and would argue cheerfully (given enough coffee or, after five, bourbon) to that effect. But that accurate observation is distinct from any observation concerning who should enforce the excommunication and how it should be enforced. They are simply two different questions.
I think a formal declaration, possibly including specifics about how the excommunication is to be enforced and -- for my money the real acid test -- who can lift it, is overdue. But our Lord delays his coming in patience, and it may be well for the Holy See to wait until every opportunity and then some has been given for some obvious repentance on the part of these scandalous, contumacious, and obstinate sinners.
But I don't see how there is a delict on anybody's part in administering the sacrament to these people -- yet. I am glad that it's not my call and I bear in mind that those without authority often question, sometimes correctly, the courage and responsibility of those with authority. But that is between them and God.
Finally, though the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, and though the Church is Christ's body, still, in their frequent -- and frequently distressing -- reliance on subsidiarity, I think the canons reveal to those who search a deep trust in the true shepherd of souls. It may SEEM namby-pamby to hold off on the imposition of an interdict or the enforcement of excommunication. But I suggest it may be, at least partially, a matter of giving God time to work on the arrogant and unrepentant.
This de faco agreement exists due to both cowardice, and due to a great many priests who know idea that wisdom is the better part of valor. Wisdom dictates that it's easier to claim you're taking a pastoral approach than to explain why a Bishop doesn't back up a priest who is very clearly only obeying Canon Law when they refuse some people communion.
I wasn't aware that calling them as I see them was considered the "take no prisoners" style of advocacy. I'm sorry you feel offended. I should have qualified the use of "disingenuous" as "more often than not disingenuous" so you did not feel like I was singling you out..