Definition of EXCOMMUNICATION


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 Ridleys View of the Civil. and
Ecclesiastical Law, 245, 246, 249.


Source: Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition

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