Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
See: banishment, expulsion, ostracism, rejection

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 ?
However, I am willing to consider rescinding the excommunication in individual instances where members, currently not prepared to leave CTA, reaffirm their commitment to the full teachings of the Catholic Church," he said.
The report added that there were two other instances of excommunication of a high-ranking Mormon official.
The fact that the Archbishop and his people, who are still living in the Middle Ages, influence political decisions about the future of Cyprus should worry us much more than any excommunication.
Excommunication is the most serious penalty that the Church can impose on a member, depriving him or her of the fullness of the communion that he or she previously enjoyed.
Trincado said neither Williamson nor Faure fear a new excommunication "because what we intend with this consecration is to preserve the true Catholic faith from the greatest crisis that the church has suffered in her history.
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.
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.
The pope sparked an international row in January when he lifted the excommunication of Richard Williamson, an ultra-conservative British bishop, who denied the use of gas chambers in the Holocaust.
It follows the worst crisis in Catholic-Jewish relations in half a century after Benedict lifted the excommunication of British Bishop Richard Williamson.