Anathema Update

Somehow, in preparing my previous post (link), I had overlooked the single use of the word “anathema” in the 1917 Code of Canon Law (pointed out to me here). There is a recent (2001) English translation of the code (Peters, Edward N. 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law: in English translation, with extensive scholarly apparatus. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001.) and folks who think my translation below to be faulty are welcome to double check the matter for themselves. Also, there is a French translation (which I consulted) and which can be found here (link). I’ve provided the Latin, French, and English below:

Canon 2257

Part 1.

Latin: Excommunicatio est censura qua quis excluditur a communione fidelium cum effectibus qui in canonibus, qui sequuntur, enumerantur, quique separari nequeunt.

French: L’excommunication est une censure par laquelle quelqu’un est exclut de la communion des fidèles, avec les effets énumérés dans les canons qui suivent, et qui ne peuvent en être séparés.

English: Excommunication is a censure by which someone is excluded from the communion of the faithful, with the effects enumerated in the canons that follow, and from which it can not be separated.

Part 2.

Latin: Dicitur quoque anathema, praesertim si cum sollemnitatibus infligatur quae in Pontificali Romano describuntur.

French: On l’appelle aussi anathème principalement si elle est infligée avec les solennités décrites dans le Pontifical romain.

English: It is also called “anathema” – especially if it is inflicted with solemnities which are described in the Roman Pontifical.

So, unless one is going to try to argue that excommunications were eliminated in the canon law, it seems odd to try to claim that anathemas have been done away, since the 1917 code indicates that excommunications in general can be called by the name “anathema.”

So, while I thank Kelly for pointing this out to me, if folks like Akin are simply suggesting that the name “anathema” is not used or that the additional solemnities have been done away with … the issue seems extraordinarily trivial. The substance is the same, whether it is solemnized or not.


19 Responses to “Anathema Update”

  1. Kelly Says:

    So, you are a baptized Catholic who has formally been excommunicated and you would prefer to tell people that you are under anathema because it is snazzier or what? Again, I don't get the point you are trying to make.

  2. Turretinfan Says:

    Kelly:Actually, I'm mostly interested in the truth of the matter with respect to whether the anathemas of the past have really been lifted.From everything that I can see from official sources, the answer is "no," but Mr. Akin (and others at places like Catholic Answers) seem intent on trying to claim that the anathemas are actually gone.I don't know whether to attribute Mr. Akin (and company)'s claims versus mine to:1) Ignorance on his part;2) Ignorance on my part (after all, I'm not omniscient); or3) Something more sinister on his part (as in, for example, he knows they are still there, and he's claiming their gone to try to proselytize folks who would be turned off by the term "anathema.").-TurretinFan

  3. Elena Says:

    I would think if he was going to proselytize there would be easier ways to go about it. I don't think many regular people care about anathemas other than as historical footnotes.

  4. Turretinfan Says:

    If nobody cares, why does he bring it up?

  5. Elena Says:

    Does he? Or does someone else bring it up and he responds?and you realize Turretinfan, the religious geeks like you and me and Kelly and probably Paul are not the norm! Most folks really could care less.

  6. Elena Says:

    cause I suppose that's what professional apologists do. But I really don't think the regular folks think about this stuff. Just religious geeks like us!

  7. Turretinfan Says:

    I think that's my point – he brings it up because he thinks people are interested in the topic (even if it is a relatively obscure topic compared to the Eucharist).I've seen it come up time and time again, with many folks mistakenly (as far as we can see) relying on Mr. Akin's comments and thinking that somehow the anathemas of Trent and others should not be discussed.The result is that Vatican II calls us "separated brethren" and Trent (and others) call us "anathema." Furthermore, as far as we can tell, Trent has never been officially reversed, and there doesn't seem to be a mechanism for doing that. That seems like a radical difference, and one that undermines the idea that Rome is still teaching the same thing today as she did 500 years ago.-TurretinFan

  8. Kelly Says:

    The result is that Vatican II calls us "separated brethren" and Trent (and others) call us "anathema."If you are speaking of the anathemas in a general sense, I would say that the Trent and VII views are one and the same. You are out of communion, or separated. What would happen if the anathema were in place? You would not be able to receive the sacraments. You should not receive the Eucharist if you went to Mass. That is no different today than it was then.If you are speaking of the formal anathema, against an individual reformer, then I have no idea if they are still in place. I would assume it would be big news like this if it had been lifted: changing the canon law pertaining to anathema has taken place due to the new canon law, then it would not be a change in the Catholic moral doctrine, but a change in discipline, such as allowing priests to marry. It is not Tradition, but tradition.Maybe you could ask this guy:

  9. Turretinfan Says:

    "Separated brethren" sounds like the people are still going to heaven – "Anathema" has a different sound. The former is the more ecumenical and inclusive post-Vatican-II approach, whereas the latter is the more austere approach the preceded it. Or so it appears.Is it your position that either Trent didn't mean to condemn folks to hell by using the word "anathema" or that "separated brethren" doesn't mean that we are able to be saved without the removal of that separation?-TurretinFan

  10. Elena Says:

    Oh I certainly agree it has a different tone and I also agree that the times around Trent were contentious on both sides!But I think you're missing Kelly's point which is disciplines certainly can and do change over time. Doctrines on faith and morals don't.

  11. Turretinfan Says:

    I am aware of the distinction made between doctrinal/morals and discipline. That said: is whether heresy separates one from heaven a matter merely of discipline?

  12. Elena Says:

    I think in this case yes- having to do with the "loosing and binding."

  13. Turretinfan Says:

    Doesn't that imply that the way to be saved has changed (i.e. expanded)? Before one had to remove the separation, now it is not necessary?

  14. Kelly Says:

    I posted one more long response on our blog. Very interesting discussion, thanks for coming by.

  15. Turretinfan Says:

    Kelly:Thanks for alerting me to your post. I'm struck, in particular, by your comment: "I feel that asking "Can you be saved without joining the Catholic Church" is sort like asking "Can you be saved and never read the Bible?" Sure, you can, but you're missing out on a lot."I really don't think that's what "anathema" meant to the folks of the middle ages, but I realize that we may not be able to reach agreement on that question.-TurretinFan

  16. BillZuck Says:

    Mr. Turretinfan,Please note that you are analyzing the 1917 Code of Canon Law. This code was superceded by the code promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983.You need a little humility and little more study before you can make statements about Roman Catholic Doctrine, Discipline, and Woorship.Bill Zuck

  17. Turretinfan Says:

    Mr. Zuck:a) That this is the 1917 code we are discussing is apparent from the post above. Note the title of the English translation of said code.b) That this was superseded by the 1983 code has already been pointed out in the immediately previous post of this series (link).c) Perhaps you ought to be less hasty to judge another man's servant.d) If you are going to try to make criticisms about other people's scholarship, it might be good at least to spell-check your sentence. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking like a typical Internet ranter.-TurretinFan

  18. Elena Says:

    I think we have to realize that the time around the Reformation was full of bad feelings and hatred on both sides. I think we can learn a lot from their mistakes. As it stands anathemas are apparently no more. Why should you worry about it then? ANd if it's something that keeps you from being friendly with fellow Christians wouldn't it be better to just leave the past in the past?

  19. Turretinfan Says:

    I really don't see why you think that anathemas are apparently no more. Jimmy Akin's argument for that appears to be fatally flawed.

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