Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

( Latin in , not, and fama , fame.)

Infamy is loss of a good name. When this has been brought about by regular legal process, terminating in a conviction in a court of justice, no injury is done to the criminal by publishing the fact. The same thing can be said when the scandalous repute in which a person is held is matter of common knowledge. The canon law seems to require a pre-existing public opinion against an individual before the investigation in a judicial inquiry can be narrowed to any particular person. Infamy in the canonical sense is defined as the privation or lessening of one's good name as the result of the bad rating which he has, even among prudent men. It constitutes an irregularity, i.e. a canonical impediment which prevents one being ordained or exercising such orders as he may have already received.

It is twofold in species, infamy of law ( infamia juris ) and infamy of fact ( infamia facti ).

Infamy of law is contracted in one of three ways. Either the law itself attaches this juridical ineligibility and incapacity to the commission of certain crimes, or makes it contingent upon the decision of a judge, or finally connects it with the penalty imposed by him. This kind of infamy is incurred chiefly by those guilty of duelling (whether as principals or seconds), rape (as likewise those who co-operate in it), attempt to marry during the lifetime of the actual consort, heresy, real simony , etc. Infamy of law may be removed either by canonical purging or by application to the Holy See .

Infamy of fact is the result of a widespread opinion, by which the community attributes some unusually serious delinquency, such as adultery or the like, to a person. This is more of an unfitness than an irregularity properly so called, unless sentence in court has been pronounced. It ceases therefore when one has shown by a change of life extending over a period of two or probably three years that his repentance is sincere.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 15:1-4
1 And I saw in heaven another sign, great and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 7-8, 9
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:12-19
12 'But before all this happens, you will be seized ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 26th, 2014 Image

St. John Berchmans
November 26: Eldest son of a shoemaker, John was born at Diest, Brabant. He ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter