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EXCOMMUNICATION, eccl. law. An ecclesiastical sentence, pronounced by a spiritual judge against a Christian man, by which he is excluded from the body of the church, and disabled to bring any action, or sue any person in the common law courts. Bac. Ab. h.t.; Co. Litt. 133-4. In early times it was the most frequent and most severe method of executing ecclesiastical censure, although proper to be used, said Justinian, (Nov. 123,) only upon grave occasions. The effect of it was to remove the excommunicated "person not only from the sacred rites but from the society of men. In a certain sense it interdicted the use of fire and water, like the punishment spoken of by Caesar, (lib, 6 de Bell. Gall.). as inflicted by the Druids. Innocent IV. called it the nerve of ecclesiastical discipline. On repentance, the excommunicated person was absolved and received again to communion. These are said to be the powers of binding and loosing the keys of the kingdom of heaven. This kind of punishment seems to have been adopted from the Roman usage of interdicting the use of fire and water. Fr. Duaren, De Sacris Eccles. Ministeriis, lib. 1, cap. 3. See Ridley's View of the Civil. and Ecclesiastical Law, 245, 246, 249.

References in periodicals archive ?
Hypocrisy and irrationality reign here as they have in the excommunication of Pitsillides.
Vatican spokesman Fr Ciro Benedettini said the Pope's stern words did not constitute a formal over-arching decree of canon law, regarding excommunication, which is a formal legal process.
Reynolds from the clerical state and to declare his automatic excommunication [which] has been made because of his public teaching on the ordination of women contrary to the teaching of the Church," according to the UK's Catholic Herald.
Such] an infraction will incur the penalty of automatic excommunication," the Pope's order stated.
Threat of excommunication at this point of time can hardly be considered to be in line with dialogue," Odchimar said in a disclaimer issued yesterday which was published in the CBCP website.
Then, in 1988, Lefebvre consecrated four bishops (including Williamson) to stand in witness against what he judged to be the entrenched neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies even among the Roman hierarchy, for which Lefebvre and the four incurred excommunication.
An excommunication is finally a pastoral tool--albeit a severe one--a call for an errant member of the church to correct his or her ways.
Benedict angered Jewish leaders and many Catholics by lifting the excommunication of Williamson and three others in a bid to heal a 20-year-old schism within the church.
It follows the worst crisis in Catholic-Jewish relations in half a century after Benedict lifted the excommunication of British Bishop Richard Williamson.
It also said the pope had not known about Bishop Williamson's views when he agreed to lift his excommunication and that of three other bishops on January 21.
Such sins, which can only be dealt with by the Pope, acting through the tribunal, bring automatic excommunication from the Church.
While the book primarily deals with theological concepts and texts, a few historical events shape the conversation, including the excommunication of Elizabeth, the first Jesuit missions to England, the accession of James I, and the Gunpowder Plot.