(1.), in the ecclesiastical law of the Roman Church, is the depriving a priest of the privileges, and forbidding him to perform the duties of his function, but not depriving him of orders. According to the ancient discipline, the deposed person lost not only his office and benefice forever, but he also forfeited the privileges of his rank, and was reduced into the laity. But since the 12th century, this extended meaning of the term has been expressed by the word degradation (q.v.); at a later date, distinction was also made between verbal and the more solemn degradation. The latter only was accompanied by the loss of the privileges of clerical rank. In deposition, a hope for future reinstatement might be held out, or otherwise. In the former case it was termed privation. In the depositio perpetua, a simple judgment of the competent authority deprives the guilty party forever of his privileges, his jurisdiction, and his benefice, but he is still regarded as belonging to the clergy. The crimes which were punished in this manner are murder, perjury, incest, adultery, etc. Deposition, being an act of jurisdiction, can be inflicted by any diocesan bishop who has been confirmed by the Pope, even though he be not consecrated. At the present day deposition cannot be inflicted, so far as the civil rights of parties are concerned, without the consent of the secular authorities. — Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lexikon, 3, 107.
(2.) In the Church of England, by Canon 122, sentence against a minister, of deposition from the ministry, shall be pronounced by the bishop only, with the assistance of his chancellor and dean (if they may conveniently be had), and some of the prebendaries, if the court be kept near the cathedral church; or of the archdeacon, if he may be had conveniently, and two other at least grave ministers and preachers to be called by the bishop, when the court is kept in other places.
(3.) In Scotland, "the minister of a parish who has been guilty either of immoral and scandalous conduct, or of preaching or otherwise publishing doctrines contrary to the standards of the church to which he has declared his adherence, or of contumaciously setting aside the authority of the Presbyterian church-courts, may be deposed from his holy office by the church-courts. By this means he is deprived not only of his ecclesiastical dignity, but of the temporalities of his benefice (stat. 1592, c. 115), and the benefice becomes vacant just as if he were dead. He may, however, be restored to the exercise of the ministry, and to his position as a minister of the Church, by the General Assembly, but he cannot, of course, be restored to his benefice; and it is considered irregular that he should be so even by a new presentation by the patron, because the stigma attached to his character by his deposition is likely to affect his usefulness. Where sentence of deposition is pronounced by an inferior church court, the judgment of which is reversed on appeal to the General Assembly, it is held that it had never been pronounced; but if the sentence be affirmed, it takes effect from the date when it was pronounced by the inferior court, and from that date the minister's right to the profits of his benefice ceases. Sentence of deposition cannot be pronounced by a presbytery in the absence of the minister, except by the authority of the General Assembly" (Chambers, Encyclopaedia, s.v.).
(4.) The grounds of deposition in the Protestant Episcopal Church are stated in the 37th Canon of the Convention of 1832; and Canon 39 provides that, "1. When any minister is degraded from the holy ministry, he is degraded therefrom entirely, and not from a higher to a lower order of the same. Deposition, displacing, and all like expressions, are the same as degradation. No degraded minister shall be restored to the ministry. 2. Whenever a clergyman shall be degraded, the bishop who pronounces sentence shall, without delay, give notice thereof to every minister and vestry in the diocese, and also to all the bishops of this Church, and where there is no bishop, to the standing committee." SEE DISCIPLINE.