Ed Peters has periodically noted that it is often private individuals who begin worthwhile initiatives that the Church may eventually take up. For example, the first efforts at codifying canon law were private initiatives, and eventually the Church came out with the first Code of Canon Law (1917).
Now Ed has come up with such an initiative himself. A decade ago, he predicted that excommunications would become more common in the Church, and there certainly have been more public reports of excommunication in recent years.
But there's a problem: We're now living in an age of global travel and communications, and unless steps are taken to allow the faithful to know who is and is not subject to excommunication, the rapid travel and instantaneous communicatoin that now exist can thwart the disciplinary force of excommunication.
If there's an excommunicated person from a distant country who's taken up residence in your town and become involved in the local Catholic community, how are the faithful supposed to check out whether or not he's been excommunicated? Figure out what his home diocese was and then call a chancery in a country where you don't speak the language? Or what if the excommunicated person stays in his home country and sets up a web site that people from your parish are reading? How are you supposed to learn of his excommunication? He won't want to advertise it on his site, and he may even have technical-sounding arguments for why he's not excommunicated.
There needs to be a central, Internet-accessible registry of excommunicated persons just like there are such registries for sex offenders.
Ideally, this would be hosted on the Vatican's web site.
But the Holy See hasn't started such a registry (yet), so Ed has begun one.
And, hey, if someone in the Vatican is reading this, Ed's onto a good idea here. Y'all start one soon! It would really help clear up a lot of confusion if individuals could simply point to a registry entry to prove which people are excommunicated and thus should be regarded with caution by the faithful.