INTERDICT (Lat. inlerdictum, 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, or 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., etc. ; L. Ferraris, Prompta. bibliotheca canonica, etc., 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.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)