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Understanding Catholicism – Anathema Sit

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    Understanding Catholicism – Anathema Sit

    Many dogmatic definitions (such as those at the Council of Trent) end with the words anathema sit.

    When such documents are translated in to English (the originals are in Latin) this is either left as anathema sit, or translated as “let him be anathema”.

    Many Protestants translate this as “let him be accursed” and claim the Catholic Church is damning them to hell. This is totally untrue. Anathema here simply means excommunication. In the early church it simply meant excommunication but later (in the middle ages) it was reserved for formal excommunications carried out by the Pope. It does not exist today.

    The term was therefore used as a way of declaring that a statement was formally and infallibly defined, and could not be changed. It was a dogma to be believed by all Catholics.

    It is nothing to do with damning people.

    Surprisingly for a virulent ant-Catholic, Matt Slick of CARM, says this:
    “We can see that the Bible uses the term to mean separated from Christ. If someone is separated from Christ, he is lost. But is this what is meant in Roman Catholic theology? Apparently not since a Catholic anathema is not a pronouncement of damnation (separation from Christ) but a declaration that an individual is excluded from the fellowship of the Roman Catholic church which includes denial of Communion and the Catholic sacraments.

    So, when official Roman Catholic documents pronounce anathema it means that the person is not in right standing with their church, is not to take the sacraments, and might be under discipline. It is an excommunication and at the very least a very strong condemnation of the person's actions and/or beliefs as being against the Catholic Church.”

    For a full explanation see: Link

    Bede, why a person is excluded and how can he reinstate in the Church? Can you explain it more?

      "An ecclesiastical censure by which one is more or less excluded from communion with the faithful….In general, the effects of excommunication affect the person's right to receive the sacraments, or Christian burial, until the individual repents and is reconciled with the Church. In order for an excommunication to take effect, the person must have been objectively guilty of the crime charged. (Etym. Latin ex-, from + communicare, to communicate: excommunicatio, exclusion from a community.)"

      We can see this in Matthew 18:15-18
      "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

      And 1Cor 5:1-2
      It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

      This exclusion would be for some serious offence by someone who is unrepentant for what he/she hs done. It should not be considered so much as a punishment but as discipline with the intention of making the person realise the gravity of their offence and to bring them to repentance and back into communion.

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