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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the Roman Catholic Church, the word interdict (pronounced /ˈɪntərdɪkt/, IN-tər-dikt) usually refers to an ecclesiastical penalty. Interdicts may be real, local or personal. A personal interdict pertains to one or more persons. A real or local interdict, which is no longer a part of canon law, suspends all public worship and withdraws the church's sacraments in a territory or country.[1] A local interdict against a country was to it the equivalent of excommunication against an individual. It would cause all the churches to be closed, and almost all the sacraments not to be allowed (i.e. preventing marriage, confession, anointing of the sick, and the eucharist). Certain exceptions allow for baptism, anointing of the sick, and sacraments on Christian holidays.

Interdiction was used by the Pope during the Middle Ages as a way to influence rulers. For example, Pope Innocent III placed the kingdom of England under an interdict for five years between 1208 and 1213 after King John refused to accept the pope's appointee Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury. Pope Gregory XI placed the city of Florence under interdict in March 1376 during the War of the Eight Saints, while Pope Paul V placed the Republic of Venice under interdict in 1606 after the civil authorities jailed two priests.[2] Rome itself was placed under interdict by Pope Adrian IV as a result of a rebellion led by Arnold of Brescia.

An interdict can also be a penalty against a specific individual or group. It is like excommunication in that the person is barred from receiving the sacraments and participating in public worship, but it does not bar the person from continuing to hold and exercise ecclesiastical office. For a lay member of the church, it is basically equivalent to excommunication, though with the implication that they remain Catholic.

Bishops in the Anglican Communion in theory may still possess the power of interdict, although apparently it has not been exercised since the English Reformation.


Automatic interdict

Certain offenses incur an automatic (latae sententiae) interdict:

  • Physical violence against a bishop (canon 1370 §2)
  • Attempting to preside over or concelebrate in Mass while being a deacon or lay person (canon 1378 §2 1°)
  • Hearing and/or attempting to absolve confessions while being a deacon or lay person (canon 1378 §2 2°)
  • Falsely accusing a priest of soliciting adultery while in confession (canon 1390 §1)
  • Attempting to marry while having a perpetual vow of chastity (canon 1394 §2)

Other offenses may incur an interdict:

  • Public incitement against the Apostolic See or the local ordinary (canon 1373)
  • Promoting or directing a prohibited association (canon 1374)
  • The crime of simony (canon 1380)

Modern examples

In 1909, the town of Adria in Italy was placed under interdict for 15 days after a local campaign against the move of a bishop.[3]

In Malta between 8 April 1961 and 4 April 1969 the leadership of the Malta Labour Party, readers, advertisers and distributors of Party papers as well as its voters were interdicted.[4] Previously, between 1930 and 1933 interdiction was imposed on the Constitutional Party and Labour. In both cases, the Nationalist Party won elections while its opponents were interdicted.[5]

Bishop René Henry Gracida of Corpus Christi, Texas interdicted a Catholic politician in the late 20th century for supporting legal abortion; the unnamed individual died while under interdict.[6]

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

INTERDICT (Lat. interdictum, from interdicere, to forbid by decree, lit., interpose by speech), in its full technical sense as an ecclesiastical term, a sentence by a competent ecclesiastical authority forbidding all celebration of public worship, the administration of some sacraments (baptism, confirmation and penance are permitted) and ecclesiastical burial. From general interdicts, however, are excepted the feast days of Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday, the Assumption and Corpus Christi. An interdict may be either local, personal or mixed, according as it applies to a locality, to a particular person or class of persons, y r to a particular locality as long as it shall be the residence of a particular person or class of persons. Local interdicts again may be either general or particular; in the latter instance they refer only to particular buildings set apart for religious services. An interdict is a measure which seeks to punish a population or a religious body (e.g. a chapter) for the fault of some only of its members, who cannot be reached separately. It is a penalty directed against society rather than against individuals. In 869 Hincmar of Laon laid his entire diocese under an interdict, a proceeding for which he was severely censured by Hincmar of Reims. In the Chronicle of Ademar of Limoges (ad ann. 994) it is stated that Bishop Alduin introduced there "a new plan for punishing the wickedness of his people; he ordered the churches and monasteries to cease from divine worship and the people to abstain from divine praise, and this he called excommunication" (see Gieseler, Kirchengesch. iii. 342, where also the text is given of a proposal to a similar effect made by Odolric, abbot of St Martial, at the council of Limoges in 1031). It was not until the 11th century that the use of the interdict obtained a recognized place among the means of discipline at the disposal of the Roman hierarchy, which used it, without great success, to bring back the secular authorities to obedience. Important historical instances of the use of the interdict occur in the cases of Scotland under Pope Alexander III. in 1181, of France under Innocent III. in 1200, and of England under the same pope in 1209. So far as the interdict is "personal," that is to say, applied to a particular individual, it may be regarded as a kind of partial excommunication; for instance, a bishop may, for certain faults, be interdicted from entering the church (ab ingressu ecclesiae), that is, without being excommunicated, he must not celebrate or assist at the celebration of divine offices. Interdicts cease at the expiration of the term, or by removal (relaxatio). General and local interdicts are no longer in use.

See the canonists in tit. 39 lib. v., De sententia excommun., &c.; L. Ferraris, Prompta bibliotheca canonica, &c., s.v. "Interdictum." Interdict, in Scots law, is an order of court pronounced on cause shown for stopping any proceedings complained of as illegal or wrongful. It may be resorted to as a remedy against all encroachments either on property or possession. For the analogous English practice see Injunction.

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