The Church still Excommunicating People

Martha Heizer and her husband Gert have been excommunicated by the Church, apparently with the approval, or possibly even the initiative, of Pope Francis.
I attended a Church Reform conference in Austria last autumn where I had the pleasure of meeting Martha. She is head of We Are Church, Germany. By any standards she is an impressive lady, having a deep love for the Church and for the faith. She is also kind, gentle and warm.
She has strong convictions, especially around the area of priesthood and Eucharist. And these convictions have led her to start celebrating the Eucharist herself for some of her friends. I know that this is strictly forbidden by the Church, and that they are within their rights in taking this action. But what does it achieve?
If the Church authorities continue to insist on policies around priesthood which mean that more and more people are deprived of the Eucharist, and if they do not allow any discussion about the situation, then it is inevitable that people will begin to take the matter into their own hands.
It is past time that the Church stopped excommunicating people. This process had real effect some centuries ago, when it could be followed with the sort of punishments the Inquisition specialised in, or when people believed that the Church had the power to decide on a person’s eternal salvation. But today it only serves to make the Church lose more credibility, and even to look foolish.
It is disturbing that Pope Francis seems to have been involved in this action. How can he on the one hand say that the Church is not a tollhouse, but the house of the Father where everyone is welcome with all their problems, and then decree that certain people are expelled and cannot partake of the sacraments or other ministrations of the Church. This action, coming so soon after Cardinal Meuller’s latest intemperate attack on the U.S. nuns, is in danger of making the liberating words of Pope Francis begin to sound like empty rhetoric. If he turns out to be a man of words only, with no actions to back them up, the effects on the Church will, in my view, be disastrous. Please God this will not be the case. The next few months will tell a lot.