Ekskomunikowani w świetle średniowiecznego prawa kanonicznego – pozycja społeczna, religijna i prawna
The excommunicated in the light of medieval canon law – social, religious and legal position
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In medieval culture the sin was a threat to the unity of the community as it produced the realm of the symbolic and physical defilement, moral and material dirt. Sinner’s negative behavior could not be tolerated and excommunication was the means of repression. Excommunication broke the bond between the Christian and the Church, taking away the intercession of the Church and the spiritual benefits resulting from the participation in the Mass. Up to the 11th century there was an absolute prohibition to maintain any contact with the condemned in the Church. Its fracture was threatened with excommunication and only the bishop could release those who maintained relations with excommunicated out of necessity or ignorance. In the following centuries these instructions were alleviated. Also the secular law recognized the prohibition of contact with excommunicated. In French, Italian and German codes of customary rights dating from 12th and 13th centuries, excommunication occurred simultaneously with secular proscription and exile. Brachium saeculare was to influence those whom the Church failed to improve. The Church demanded the laymen to introduce social barriers by prohibiting contact, infamy, abandonment of fidelity, deprivation of the right to testify in courts, both ecclesiastical and secular, lack of right to protection, the inability to exercise power. The more the Church used the pro levibus culpis excommunication, the less effective the penalty was. The standards of medieval canon law quite clearly defined social, religious and legal position of the excommunicated. There was a specific stigma imposed on them, they were made to feel distrust and resentment. Their exclusion was the means of marginalizing them and of forcing them to return to the bosom of the Church. This form of exclusion created one of the most important structures of religious and social awareness in the Middle Ages.
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