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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 ?
After all, it wasn't too long ago when some of the bishops and their loyalists were proposing to excommunicate those advocating reproductive health.
THE Pope threatened to "excommunicate" Madonna last night over her "blasphemous" stage show - just three days before it hits Rome.
"This is a big step forward, because now public health clinics will be able to prescribe this drug to all women who need it," said activist Patricia Mercado, who also called file threats by the Catholic church to excommunicate those who use the drug "scare tactics against women" that would be unlikely to have much effect.
THE Pope last night threatened to excommunicate Madonna over her "blasphemous" stage show, just three days before it hits Rome.
The outburst could be the biggest papal row since he threatened to excommunicate Madonna for performing Like A Prayer in Rome.
Maybe it is time to excommunicate a few of the hierarchy.
They rant and they rave, suspend and excommunicate.
If she continues to protest her innocence, she could be hauled before a Church of Scotland court with the power to excommunicate her.
In March 2006, it was necessary for the bishop to formally excommunicate him.