The Bible tells me so.
Last night I read a couple of chapters in Deuteronomy. Sometimes I just read from the Bible where I happen to open to - mostly when I'm tired after the night rosary. Anyway - I opened to the precepts regarding marriage - who shall die for what offense, and so on. "Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst." Usually by stoning. The Law was so strict that even a man who had a nocturnal emission during the night had to go outside the camp the next day, and purify himself before returning after dark.
I went to bed thinking the readings were interesting but didn't really pertain to our lives today. Then after today's first reading at Mass, my lectio made more sense. Paul told the Corinthians that the man living with his father's wife should be excommunicated "from their midst... handed over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh." [1Cor. 5:1-8] That's pretty severe. Thus we are reminded that the early Church was nearly as severe as Old Testament Israel. (Pius V had some things to say about the 'filth in the Church' of his day as well.) The Church today can also discipline, rebuke, sanction, or even excommunicate to clear out the old yeast and freshen the dough.
Yet the modern Church has been much more tolerant. When I was little, Italian actresses, Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida were designated 'public sinners' by the Vatican. It was big news in those days before the Council. People were still publicly condemned, some excommunicated - but after the Council, not so much.
Not many days ago, Cardinal Burke spoke on how Canonical discipline was abandoned after the Council:
Cardinal Burke: anti-canonical priestly culture devastated Church after Vatican IILamenting a clerical culture dismissive of canon law in the decades following the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Raymond Burke addressed a Kenyan canon law convention on August 28 about "the essential service of canon law in the work of the new evangelization."
"After I began my studies of Canon Law in September of 1980, I soon learned how much the Church's discipline was disdained by her priests, in general," he recounted. "Institutes of the Church's law, which, in her wisdom, she had developed down the Christian centuries, were set aside without consideration of their organic relationship to the life of the Church or of the chaos which would necessarily result from their neglect or abandonment." "The 'hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,' which has tried to hijack the renewal mandated by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, is marked by a pervasively antinomian culture, epitomized by the Paris student riots of 1968, and has had a particularly devastating effect on the Church's discipline," he continued. "It is profoundly sad to note, for instance, how the failure of knowledge and application of the canon law, which was indeed still in force, contributed significantly to the scandal of the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy in our some parts of the world." - Source"How much filth there is in the Church..."
Today some Catholics are clamouring for dissenters and abusers to be excommunicated - if not burnt at the stake. Indeed, the Church has the power to cleanse itself from the filth Cardinal Ratzinger spoke about in his Way of the Cross meditations so many years ago. Yet canonical discipline continues to be rarely implemented, and dissenters are rarely rebuked, save by ultra-traditionalists and some Catholic bloggers - who have no canonical status.
In the past, Cardinal Burke himself has been fairly lenient in enforcing the rules, at least as regarding religious discipline; nothing liturgical however... he's pretty strict about that stuff. Bishop Finn too.
What can I say?