2. The Lesser and Greater Excommunication

Finally public penance practically ceased, and the exclusion from the sacraments became regularly (as it had been exceptionally) an independent measure of discipline, becoming known as the lesser excom munication, while the old exclusion from all blessings and graces of the Church was called the greater. In the view of the canon law these form the general means used by the ecclesiastical body for the maintenance of its discipline. Both pre suppose a cause which is both public and grave.

3. Various Legal Provisions

None can be excommunicated but living, baptized persons who have the use of reason. The bisl_flp has the right of excommunication over those who belong to his diocese, though his sentence is valid also outside of it; a prelate with quasiepiscopal jurisdiction, such as a papal legate, has it in the territory for which he is commissioned; and the pope for the Church at large. The power of recon ciliation is vested in the same person, and it requires as a condition the promise of obedience for the future. Excommunication is either juris or hominis, i.e., prescribed by law or pronounced at the decision of an authorized person in a case not explicitly covered by the law. It is divided again into excommunicatio latce sententice, where it takes effect ipso facto upon the commission of a specified offense, or ferendtr sententice, where it follows an express judicial de cision. The latter class requires two warnings at least. Ignorance of the law excuses from the former, and to be effective it must be definitely proclaimed. The lesser excommunication deprives a person of the sacraments; the greater cuts him off from all rights-the mass may not be celebrated in his presence, he can not hold a bene fice., exercise jurisdiction, or take part in an eccle siastical election, and Christian burial is denied him; intercourse with the faithful is prohibited except in certain specified cases. Since the time of Gregory

IX. the term Anathema (q.v.) has been applied to the solemn declaration of the greater excommuni cation (cf. the form in the Pontifecale Ilomanurrt).

4. Changes Introduced by the Reformation

The canon law expects that the State will give effect on its side to the social consequences of exclusion from Christian fellowship. The extent to which the civil governments of the Middle .ages were subservient to the power of the Church over society may be seen in the way they responded to such appeals; thus the Emperor Frederick lI. in 1213 and 1219 and Henry VII. in 1230 expressed their willingness to inflict the ban of the Empire upon any excommunicated offender who was still recalcitrant at the end of six weeks after his sentence. These conditions prevailed down to the Reformation; but in the countries where it prevailed a great change took place. The greater excommunication, as being a secular punishment, was not recognized by the


Reformed Church; the lesser was retained as a measure of instructive discipline, generally in the hands of the pastor, although Luther and others held that Scripturally it ought to be administered by the whole Christian community; but it was felt that if the pastor admitted an unworthy person to the Lord's Sapper, he became partaker of the sin, and so the power of exclusion was left in his hands. The method of procedure prescribed by the German Reformers was public only for public sins, and always based on Matt. xviii. 55 sqq. Since the abolition of private confession did away with the warning of priest to penitent, it was made before church-members summoned for the purpose, preferably the elders, and followed by a prohibition to approach the communion-table and sometimes a withdrawal of other rites as well, including betrothal; but this was not necessarily public, unless the offender was obstinate, when he might be cut off from the Church in the presence of the whole congregation. The consistories always took part in the proceedings at one stage or another; and after the middle of the sixteenth century, as they had inherited many of the other episcopal powers, came to monopolize this, leaving the pastor only the duty of publishing the sentence. The greater excommunication practically died out in the seventeenth century, and the lesser fell very much into disuse with the growth of rationalism. It is, however, obvious that no religious community can hope to enforce its regulations which does not possess and if necessary use the powerof excluding members who persistently refuse obedience to them. The modern Roman Catholic Church main tains the position taken in the canon law, in this as in other regards, though considerable modifications have taken place in practise, especially as a result of the constitution Apostolic& sedis of Pius IX. (1869), which removed a number of the cases of excommunication late sen.tentice, while enforcing discipline vigorously in some other respects. See Church Discipline.

(E. Friedberg.)

Bibliography: Gingham, Origines, books xvi.-xvii.; E. Martbne, De antiquis eccleaice ritibua, 3 vols., Antwerp, 1736-37; N. Marshall, Penitential Discipline, London, 1714, Oxford, 1844; F. Kober, Der Kirchenlxinn, T iibingen, 1857; J. Fessler, Der Kirchenbann und seine Folgen, Vienna, 1860; P. Hinsehius, Kirchenrecht, §§ 243 -297, Berlin, 1869; H. C. Lea, Studies in Church Hist., Philadelphia, 1883; DCA, i. 638-642 (able); S. Mandl, Der Bann, Brünn, 1898; EB, i. 468-469.


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