In Catholic canon law, an interdict // 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.
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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. 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.
Effects under pre-1983 canon law
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. 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.
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.
These 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 interdict - 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, those affected are not to be admitted to Holy Communion (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.
Automatic (latae sententiae) interdict is incurred by anyone using physical violence against a bishop, 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. Automatic interdict is also incurred by anyone falsely accusing a priest of soliciting sexual favours in connection with confession or attempting to marry while having a perpetual vow of chastity.
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, or who commits the crime of simony.
Notable local canonical interdicts
- Pope Innocent III also placed the kingdom of England under an interdict for six years between March 1208 and May 1213, after King John refused to accept the pope's appointee Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury.
- Pope Pius V issued an interdict against Elizabeth I in 1570 due to her Religious Settlement (1559), which declared England to be a Protestant state.
- Following the rejection by Robert the Bruce (crowned King of Scotland in 1306) of papal mediation between England and Scotland, Pope John XXII placed Scotland under interdict in 1317 or 1318 because of continuing Scots raids into England; in 1328 the same Pope lifted the interdict in the light of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton.
- Rome itself was placed under interdict by Pope Adrian IV as a result of a rebellion led by Arnold of Brescia in 1155.
- Pope Gregory XI placed the city of Florence under interdict in March 1376 during the War of the Eight Saints.
- On 23 June 1482, Pope Sixtus IV decreed an interdict against the Republic of Venice, unless it abandoned within 15 days its siege of Ferrara. The Venetians managed to evade it by an appeal to a future council.
- On 27 April 1509, as he entered the War of the League of Cambrai, aiming to recover papal control of the Romagna, where Venice had seized several cities in 1503, Pope Julius II issued an interdict against Venice. When Venice accepted peace terms on 14 February 1510, the interdict was lifted.
- The Venetian Interdict of 1606-1607 is a better known and more lengthy case. Pope Paul V placed the Republic of Venice under interdict in 1606 after the civil authorities jailed two priests.
- 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.
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.
Once again, between 1961 and 1969, the National Executive of the Malta Labour Party was interdicted and voting Labour became a mortal sin. 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.
- 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.
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. 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.
Anglican canon law
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" similar to an injunction.
- 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2268 §1
- 1917 Code of Canon Law, canons 2268 §2 and 2269 §2
- 1917 Code of Canon Law, canons 2269 §1 and 2272
- 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2270
- 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2275
- 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1332
- Edward McNamara, "Denying Communion to Someone"
- "Code of Canon Law, canon 1314". Vatican.va. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 915
- Code of Canon Law, canon 1109
- 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1370 §2
- 1083 Code of Canon Law. canon 1378 §2
- 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1390 §1
- 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1394 §2
- Code of Canon Law, canons 1373-1374
- 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1380
- The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and ..., Volume 5 By Thomas Spencer Baynes
- Scotland in the Hundred Years' War
- David Chambers, Brian Pullan, Jennifer Fletcher (editors), Venice: A Documentary History, 1450-1630 (University of Toronto Press 2001 ISBN 978-0-8020-8424-8), pp. 219-220
- Seattle Catholic - The Venetian Interdict of 1606-1607
- CNS STORY: Holding public figures accountable to church: centuries of precedent
- Sciberras, S. (2010). "Maltese History : Church - State Relations" (PDF). stbenedictcollege.org. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- Grech, Herman; Sansone, Kurt (10 April 2011). "Bricked by interdiction". Times of Malta. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- "Interdict for Church Critics". Catholic Herald. 1961. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
- R. Bentley Anderson, Black, White, and Catholic (Vanderbilt University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-8265-1483-7), p. 146
- "The Unholy War" (PDF). Malta Today. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 7, 2006. Retrieved March 13, 2005.
- Church and State in Malta, Jon P. Mitchell
- Catholic World News : US bishop imposed interdict on pro-abortion politician
- Interdicts for antisocial behaviour