In a document released this Thursday, Pope Francis declared that a Franciscan student had incurred excommunication “latae sententiae” for “gently heretical statements” made during spontaneous prayer with her music ministry team last week.
The incident occurred when freshman Lidwina Treen was asked to lead her group’s pre-rehearsal prayer.
“I was completely taken by surprise,” she said, speaking from the Vatican prison. “I haven’t ever had to pray that way before, so I just sort of tried to copy the stuff I’ve heard from other people. I barely even knew what I was saying.”
Treen’s damning offense was her choice to close with “In your blessed mother’s name we pray,” then failing to follow the invocation with a Hail Mary. By the grace of God, her fellow team member — junior philosophy and theology major Giles McCarthy — immediately ducked out of the room and phoned the proper authorities.
“I have the Swiss Guard on speed dial,” McCarthy said. “As soon as those words passed Lidwina’s lips, I knew she’d taken a swift left turn into Anathema Town. So, I dropped everything and did my Christian duty.”
McCarthy has a successful history of hunting down heretics. To date, he estimates that he’s witnessed and reported about 13 instances of doctrinal deviation, four of which occurred in one lower-level catechetics class.
“The professor initiated a group discussion about how best to teach Trinitarian theology,” he said. “You know how it goes. A hint of Modalism here, a dash of Arianism there. I actually had to call in the Vatican SWAT team for that one. They brought the papal paddy wagon and everything. It was a dark day for CAT 102, but a bright day for true believers.”
While McCarthy is “deeply saddened” by the occurrence, he is generally glad that another heretic has been brought to justice.
“I can’t take any real credit for discovering these things,” said McCarthy. “They just seem to pop up around me like weeds — and I just so happen to have the spiritual pesticide to tend the garden.”
McCarthy asked that it be mentioned that he will be selling his handmade, screen-printed “Deus Vult” T-shirts outside the J.C. Williams Center this weekend.
Heresy during unstructured prayer is a great concern for many Franciscan students. In a recent study released by the psychology department on thought patterns during spontaneous prayer, 34% of students said that they spend most of their brain power “desperately trying to avoid blasphemy.”
Another 20% said they’re “doing their best not to make themselves sound like idiots in front of their attractive ministry lead,” and a whopping 49% admitted that they’re often wondering “how many times they can keep saying ‘Come Holy Spirit’ before they have to make a different petition.”
As mentioned, Treen is currently being held in a papal prison cell with a handful of convicted Vatican City criminals and a smattering of heretics, including a couple of Italian pickpockets and a guy from Kansas who declared himself pope in 1990. Treen will be released in five months, as her heresy was light and almost certainly accidental.