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Chapter 5: The Papacy
   Papal Authority
      136. Excommunicating Families?

{136.1} Q. My daughter's school teacher claimed recently in a medieval history course that when excommunicating someone, the pope often excommunicated the guilty person's whole family as well. My daughter, of course, objected to this statement. Is this teacher confusing excommunication with an interdict?

{136.2} A. Your explanation of the mistake the teacher made is correct. In earlier centuries popes, on occasion, did place a city or a kingdom under interdict to punish rulers who were attacking the Church in various ways. The interdict forbade the administration of any sacraments so long as it remained in effect. But no pope ever excommunicated a family because of the sins of one of its members.

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