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{{other uses}}{{canon law}}In Catholic canon law, an interdict {{IPAc-en|ˈ|ɪ|n|t|ər|d|ɪ|k|t}} is an ecclesiastical censure, or ban that prohibits persons, certain active Church individuals or groups from participating in certain rites, or that the rites and services of the church are banished from having validity in certain territories for a limited or extended time.1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2268 §1

Distinctions in canon law

Before 1983, interdicts were either personal, if applied directly to a person, wherever he was, or local, if applied directly to a locality and only indirectly to the people in that place whether permanently or only on a visit.1917 Code of Canon Law, canons 2268 §2 and 2269 §2 Only the Holy See was empowered to impose a general interdict on a diocese or state or a personal interdict on the people of a diocese or country, but bishops too could impose a general interdict on a parish or on the people of a parish or a particular interdict on a place (such as a church or oratory, an altar or a cemetery) or a person.1917 Code of Canon Law, canons 2269 §1 and 2272

Effects under pre-1983 canon law

{{see also|Legal history of the Catholic Church}}A local interdict forbade in general the public celebration of sacred rites. Exceptions were made for the dying, and local interdicts were almost entirely suspended on five feasts of the year: Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, Pentecost, Corpus Christi and the feast of the Assumption of Mary.1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2270 Besides, in the case of a general local interdict, it remained permissible to celebrate in the cathedral or the only church in a town, but without any solemnity such as the ringing of bells and the playing of music, Mass, baptism, confession, and marriage.Those who were under personal interdict were forbidden to be present at any religious rite except the preaching of the word of God. While mere attendance ("passive assistance," with "assistance" being an obsolete translation of Latin adsistere/assistere ["be present"; cf. the modern Italian equivalent and its Spanish cognate asistir]) by them did not require that they be expelled, if they were well known to be under interdict they were to be prevented from taking an active part.1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2275

1983 Code of Canon Law

An interdict today has the effect of forbidding the person concerned to celebrate or receive any of the sacraments, including the Eucharist, or to celebrate the sacramentals. One who is under interdict is also forbidden to take any ministerial part (e.g., as a reader if a layperson or as a deacon or priest if a clergyman) in the celebration of the Eucharist or of any other ceremony of public worship.1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1332These are the only effects for those who have incurred a latae sententiae interdict, namely, one incurred automatically at the moment of committing the offence for which canon law imposes that penalty. For instance, a priest may not refuse Communion publicly to those who are under merely automatic interdict, even if he knows that they have incurred this kind of interdictweblink" title="">Edward McNamara, "Denying Communion to Someone" - unless the cause for the interdict is known to the priest not only privately but publicly, and is persistent, in which case (though not technically by reason of the interdict) people are to be withheld Communion by force of can. 915.However, in the case of a ferendae sententiae interdict, one incurred only when imposed by a legitimate superior or declared as the sentence of an ecclesiastical court,WEB,weblink Code of Canon Law, canon 1314,, 2012-04-03, those affected are not to be admitted to Holy Communion1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 915 (see canon 915), and if they violate the prohibition against taking a ministerial part in celebrating the Eucharist or some other ceremony of public worship, they are to be expelled or the sacred rite suspended, unless there is a grave reason to the contrary. In the same circumstances, local ordinaries and parish priests lose their right to assist validly at marriages.Code of Canon Law, canon 1109Automatic (latae sententiae) interdict is incurred by anyone using physical violence against a bishop,1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1370 §2 as also by a person who, not being an ordained priest, attempts to celebrate Mass, or who, though unable to give valid sacramental absolution, attempts to do so, or hears a sacramental confession.1083 Code of Canon Law. canon 1378 §2Automatic interdict is also incurred by anyone falsely accusing a priest of soliciting sexual favours in connection with confession1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1390 §1 or attempting to marry while having a perpetual vow of chastity.1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1394 §2
An interdict is also the censure that canon law says should be imposed on someone who, because of some act of ecclesiastical authority or ministry publicly incites to hatred against the Holy See or the Ordinary, or who promotes or takes up office in an association that plots against the Church,Code of Canon Law, canons 1373-1374 or who commits the crime of simony.1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1380

Notable local canonical interdicts


  • Pope Innocent III placed the Kingdom of Norway under interdict in October 1198. Although King Sverre forged letters to show that the interdict had been lifted, he and his subjects remained under interdict until Sverre's death in 1202.





Interdiction featured in 20th century Maltese politics. Between 1930 and 1933, those who voted for the progressive Compact parties (Constitutional Party, Labour Party) were interdicted and refused burial in sacred grounds.WEB,weblink Maltese History : Church - State Relations, S., Sciberras,, 2010, 13 March 2013, Once again, between 1961 and 1969, the National Executive of the Malta Labour Party was interdicted and voting Labour became a mortal sin.WEB,weblink Bricked by interdiction, Herman, Grech, Kurt, Sansone, Times of Malta, 10 April 2011, 13 March 2013, WEB,weblink Interdict for Church Critics, Catholic Herald, 1961, 27 February 2014, Among other sanctions, Labour voters were refused absolution, last rites and burial in sacred grounds. During this period, most Labour rallies were disturbed by members of Catholic organisations (that formed the "Diocesan Junta") and the ringing of church bells. A large number of labourites left the Maltese Islands during this period, partly due to the fact that at the time a reference letter from the local parish priest was commonly requested by employers. The 1969 Peace Agreement between the Labour Party and the local Catholic authorities stipulates that the interdiction should not be imposed in the future.


United States

  • In 1955, after white parishioners had refused to let a black priest enter a chapel situated about 20 miles from New Orleans, Archbishop Joseph Rummel placed the chapel under interdict.R. Bentley Anderson, Black, White, and Catholic (Vanderbilt University Press 2005 {{ISBN|978-0-8265-1483-7}}), p. 146

Notable personal canonical interdicts

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 by the local bishop.WEB, The Unholy War, Malta Today,weblink PDF, March 13, 2005,weblink" title="">weblink January 7, 2006, 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.Church and State in Malta, Jon P. MitchellBishop René Henry Gracida of Corpus Christi, Texas interdicted a Roman Catholic politician in the late 20th century for supporting legal abortion; the unnamed individual died while under interdict.Catholic World News : US bishop imposed interdict on pro-abortion politician

Anglican canon law

In Anglican canon law, bishops in the Anglican Communion may still in theory possess the power of interdict, but seem not to have exercised it since the English Reformation.

Scots civil law

In Scots law, "an interdict is a civil court order that tells a person not to do something or to stay away from you, your children or a specific place, such as your house. If a person doesn't stick to an interdict, the police might be able to arrest them if the interdict gives them the power to do so"Interdicts for antisocial behaviour similar to an injunction.

See also



External links

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