A Brief History
On August 31, 1535, King Henry VIII of England was kicked out of the Catholic Church by Pope Paul III, although a more official excommunication would come three years later. Previously, Pope Clement VII had refused to grant Henry an annulment from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and threatened excommunication if the King persisted.
Other notable cases of ex-communication include:
St. Joan of Arc, 1431, got the most extreme form of excommunication by being burned at the stake for blasphemy and heresy, although she was later acquitted.
Martin Luther, 1521, excommunicated for defying the Catholic Church and starting the Protestant Reformation.
Queen Elizabeth I of England, 1570, excommunicated for continuing her father’s policy of usurping the Catholic Church in England.
King Henry IV of France, 1585, although he was later reinstated by the Church when he returned to its fold.
Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1809, for the audacity of annexing Rome and taking the Pope hostage!
Juan Peron, president of Argentina, 1955.
Fidel Castro, communist dictator of Cuba, 1962.
The entire “Mafia,” 2014.
Sinead O’Connor, singer and priestess, 2018, by her own request!
Question for students (and subscribers): Is excommunication a powerful or a powerless tool? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Icon Group International. Excommunication: Webster’s Timeline History, 390 – 2007. ICON Group International, Inc., 2010.
Peters, Edward. Excommunication and the Catholic Church: Straight Answers to Tough Questions. Ascension Press, 2006.
The featured image in this article, a wood engraving from the collections of the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de santé, is licensed under the Licence Ouverte 1.0 (License text, English license text).
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.