Archive for the ‘Anathema’ Category

Trent’s Anathemas Removed?

November 26, 2011

The White Horse Inn posted a program in which Michael Horton interviewed Christian Smith regarding, among other things, his conversion to the Roman communion.  Mr. Smith alleged that the Roman church moved toward the Lutheran position on justification and removed the anathemas that had been placed on the Lutherans in the Joint Declaration on Justification.

Mr. Smith is wrong, of course.  Nevertheless, it is interesting to see him make those kinds of claims.  It seems to show that despite alleging that his reasons for joining the Roman communion are “doctrinal,” Mr. Smith himself doesn’t really understand Rome’s doctrines.

Rome itself has, in a fairly official way, explained that the Lutheran view still appears to be within Trent’s anathemas:

The major difficulties preventing an affirmation of total consensus between the parties on the theme of justification arise in paragraph 4.4 The Justified as Sinner (nn. 28-30). Even taking into account the differences, legitimate in themselves, that come from different theological approaches to the content of faith, from a Catholic point of view the title is already a cause of perplexity. According, indeed, to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in baptism everything that is really sin is taken away, and so, in those who are born anew there is nothing that is hateful to God.3 It follows that the concupiscence that remains in the baptized is not, properly speaking, sin. For Catholics, therefore, the formula “at the same time righteous and sinner”, as it is explained at the beginning of n. 29 (“Believers are totally righteous, in that God forgives their sins through Word and Sacrament…. Looking at themselves … however, they recognize that they remain also totally sinners. Sin still lives in them “) is not acceptable. This statement does not, in fact, seem compatible with the renewal and sanctification of the interior man of which the Council of Trent speaks.4 The expression “opposition to God” (Gottwidrigkeit) that is used in nn. 28-30 is understood differently by Lutherans and by Catholics, and so becomes, in fact, equivocal. In this same sense, there can be ambiguity for a Catholic in the sentence of n. 22, …”God no longer imputes to them their sin and through the Holy Spirit effects in them an active love”, because man’s interior transformation is not clearly seen. So, for all these reasons, it remains difficult to see how, in the current state of the presentation given in the Joint Declaration, we can say that this doctrine on “simul iustus et peccator” is not touched by the anathemas of the Tridentine decree on original sin and justification.

(Responses of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity – bold and underline emphasis added)

Horton provides some probing questions that gently expose some of the problems with Mr. Smith’s claims.  It’s not necessarily the style I would use (nor do I think it is the best style), but I think Horton does a good job within his own paradigm of interviewing.

-TurretinFan

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Am I Safe from Rome’s Anathemas?

October 13, 2009

A pseudonymous blogger under the penname Reginald de Piperno (RdP), responding to my opening post in my series on Trent (link to post), stated:

For example, TF claims that he is under the anathema of Trent. But unless he is or was formally Catholic, this is flatly impossible. I do not understand the seeming fondness of some Protestants for wanting to be condemned by the Catholic Church. Perhaps it is some sort of projection issue: these folks despise the Catholic Faith, and so maybe they think that naturally Catholics or the Church ought to despise them in turn. Their protests notwithstanding, it’s just not so, as I’ve said before. This fact does not mean that Protestant error is no longer reckoned to be erroneous. On the contrary: Trent has in no way been rescinded (of course). It simply means that most Protestants today are incapable of being the subject of any Catholic anathema whatever, because they do not meet a fundamental condition: they have never been Catholic. If he wishes to say that his beliefs have been condemned by the Catholic Church, then he would get no argument from me (to the extent that his views are in fact false and actually under formal condemnation).

I answer line by line.

RdP wrote: “For example, TF claims that he is under the anathema of Trent.”

Yes. It’s not just a claim, there is really no reasonable doubt about it.

RdP wrote: “But unless he is or was formally Catholic, this is flatly impossible.”

I don’t give out my background, but I will acknowledge that I have received Trinitarian baptism with water. I think most Roman Catholics would accept that baptism as “valid” whether or not it was performed by a Roman Catholic cleric.

The Code of Canon Law states: “By baptism one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and is constituted a person in it with the duties and rights which are proper to Christians in keeping with their condition, insofar as they are in ecclesiastical communion and unless a legitimately issued sanction stands in the way.” (Canon 96)

It furthermore states: “The Christian faithful are those who, inasmuch as they have been incorporated in Christ through baptism, have been constituted as the people of God. For this reason, made sharers in their own way in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal function, they are called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition proper to each.” (Canon 204 §1.)

Thus, despite any desire on my part to be affiliated with Rome and her prelate, I am considered by Rome’s current definitions to be a “Catholic” and part of the “Christian faithful.”

I am not, however, in full communion with Rome: “Those baptized are fully in the communion of the Catholic Church on this earth who are joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance.” (Canon 205)

RdP appears to lack this rather fundamental understanding of the scope of Rome’s claims regarding herself. She claims for the pope a recognized headship over the Roman Catholic Church but an unrecognized headship over all those who have been validly baptized. That’s part of the Roman Catholic Church trying to call itself the “catholic church.” The “catholic church” by definition includes within it all Christians, and Rome recognizes as Christians all those who have been validly baptized.

Even if the pope did not claim to be my head, however, there is no limit in Trent’s anathema as to it applying only to the Christian faithful. It says, quite plainly, “If any one saith” not “If any Roman Catholic saith” or “If any Christian saith.”

RdP wrote: “I do not understand the seeming fondness of some Protestants for wanting to be condemned by the Catholic Church.”

I have no particular desire either to be included within Rome’s claims of jurisdiction or to be placed under her condemnation. The facts simply are what they are. I can understand that those seeking to proselytize “Protestants” might like to downplay the condemnation side (for the same reason that some “Protestant” proselytizers don’t like to mention sin) but the facts remain.

RdP wrote: “Perhaps it is some sort of projection issue: these folks despise the Catholic Faith, and so maybe they think that naturally Catholics or the Church ought to despise them in turn.”

One wonders whether RdP thinks that placing someone under an anathema means “despising” that person. If not, one wonders how RdP’s amateurish psycho-analysis is supposed to connect to the matter at hand. It is clear that Rome is attempting to anathematize someone, and that someone is someone who says what I say. Despising or loving is not the issue under discussion.

RdP: “Their protests notwithstanding, it’s just not so, as I’ve said before.”

RdP’s link is to a prior occasion on which he attempted to argue with me about whether Rome considered the Reformers to be Christians. That they did not so consider them could hardly be more clear. I am not going to re-argue that point now. Yet RdP ought to have read the sources he himself relied-upon more closely. For example, the so-called “Catholic Encyclopedia” that he himself quoted notes that: “The fact of having received valid baptism places material heretics under the jurisdiction of the Church, and if they are in good faith, they belong to the soul of the Church.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913, volume 7, p. 261, in the sub-section of the section on Heresy entitled “Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction over Heretics.”)

RdP wrote: “This fact does not mean that Protestant error is no longer reckoned to be erroneous.”

“Error” sounds nicer than “heresy,” doesn’t it? One wonders, though, how RdP would answer the question as to whether holding a damnable heresy is still damnable?

RdP wrote: “It simply means that most Protestants today are incapable of being the subject of any Catholic anathema whatever, because they do not meet a fundamental condition: they have never been Catholic.”

See above.

RdP wrote: “If he wishes to say that his beliefs have been condemned by the Catholic Church, then he would get no argument from me (to the extent that his views are in fact false and actually under formal condemnation).”

What is interesting is that Trent’s anathema (at least the one I’ve already discussed) is not against particular beliefs, nor even against particular statements but against the people who make those statements. RdP seems to have missed this fact in his analysis.

Aside from an introductory note, the remainder of RdP’s comments in his post deal with the issue of Trent’s bad faith or ignorance of the Reformed position. He doesn’t offer any arguments on the merits of the issue, and so I’ll simply leave that alone. As to his introductory question regarding being the inspiration for the series, the answer is that he is not. Nevertheless, he may end up being implicated in the discussion, since he has done a number of relatively recent posts on the topic of Trent and Justification.

-TurretinFan

Anathema Update

August 31, 2009

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.

-TurretinFan

Anathemas Have Been Done Away!

August 27, 2009

Today I encountered the following comment: “Anathemas were done away with under the most recent Code of Canon Law.” (source) It’s not the first time I’ve seen this claim. The problem is this: I have the most recent Code of Canon Law and it doesn’t (that I can find) even mention anathemas. I suppose that some folks in Roman Catholicism think this silence means that anathemas have been done away. That seems like as weak an argument as the argument that prayer veils are no longer required because of the silence regarding them. I wonder whether there is anything more to the argument than that. Any ideas anyone?

I’m aware of Mr. Akin’s argument as follows:

Yet the penalty was used so seldom that it was removed from the 1983 Code of Canon Law. This means that today the penalty of anathema does not exist in Church law. The new Code provided that, “When this Code goes into effect, the following are abrogated: 1º the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917 . . . 3º any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See, unless they are contained in this Code” (CIC [1983] 6 §1). The penalty of anathema was not renewed in the new Code, and thus it was abrogated when the Code went into effect on January 1, 1983.

(source)
The problems with that type of argument are:

1) Where was anathema mentioned in the 1917 Code? I’ve perused that code and couldn’t find it. Perhaps I overlooked something?

2) A penalty and a penal law are not the same thing.

If that’s all Mr. Akin has, his argument seems exceptionally weak.

-TurretinFan


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