Pre-Canonized Anathema?

I only got one answer on this, so I’m hoping to get a bit more insight.

Let’s say I was a convinced Arian prior to the Council of Nicaea.

Nicaea’s canonizations anathematized Arians when it closed on June 19, 325. The question is this: Was I already anathema prior to Nicaea’s canonizations, it just wasn’t yet official?

“Whether I then submitted to Nicaea” is not being considered, thus it is not relevant.

One definition, three distinctions, and one addendum.

Anathema - a major excommunication, where one is barred from public Christian worship and common life. It is a medicinal act for a crime which is meant to get the person to amend himself.

  1. The sin of heresy is not the same as the crime of heresy.
  2. Not all errors in faith constitute the sin of heresy.
  3. An error in faith might not be either the sin or crime of heresy prior to a canon but can be either or both after a canon that addresses that error on account of that canon.

Addendum: Some information traveled slowly in the ancient world. Moral and legal culpability would seem to be affected by this as far as #3 is concerned… If nobody has told you about the decision of the Council yet, your guilt is at least lessened if not entirely removed.

Does this help?

I’m glad you’ve asked this question, since I was confused by the closing of the earlier thread.

The answer, of course, is “no”. An anathema only exists (in this context) as a consequence of heresy (which, the Catechism tells us, is “the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith”).

What are these truths? They were formally defined by the First Vatican Council:

by divine and catholic faith all those things are to be believed
[list]*]which are contained in the word of God as found in scripture and tradition,
*]and which are proposed by the church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed,
*]whether by her solemn judgment
*]or in her ordinary and universal magisterium[/list]

So, if Nicaea anathematized those who held to Arianism, it only affected those Christians who continued to hold to Arianism subsequent to learning that Arianism was a heretical belief.

Therefore, the answer is “no”. Those who held to Arianism prior to the council were not anathematized… unless they continued to hold to the belief once they knew that it was not an authentic teaching of the Church. It would have been their belief subsequent to the formal declaration, and not their belief prior, that would have brought with it the ecclesiastical penalty.

Let’s take the argument one step further, since that’s where we tend to encounter the ‘anathemae’ these days:

Trent anathemized those members of the Church who professed belief in a number of notions (that is, those notions introduced by ‘Reformation’ theologians). Does that mean that all who believe in these notions today (i.e., current-day Protestants) are held as ‘anathema’ by the Church?

The answer here, too, is “no.” The Church only pronounces ecclesiastical penalties (these days, the analogous penalty is known as ‘excommunication’) upon those who are members of the Church. So, the Catholic Church does not excommunicate those who are not Catholics. (In other words, if you were born into a Lutheran family, or were baptized into the Lutheran Church (having never been a Catholic previously), the Catholic Church does not declare you to be ‘excommunicated’.)

Does that help?

Enormously! Thank you both for the mental flex on my behalf. Just trying to reconcile a few things not explicitly covered by RCIA.

-which is NOT an indictment of local RCIAs. From what I see, 99.999% of those folks do a bang-up job. The minutiae of Catholicism can hardly be covered in it’s entirety with 4 years of baccalaureal and 4 years of post-graduate study. The enormity of how much RCIAs manage to teach with just a year of Mondays is quite staggering to me.

Another perfectly valid explanation for my inquiry is that such a topic may have been covered and my cradle-baptist brain rejected it… This actually seems more likely, now that I’ve articulated it.

Thanks again!

Vonsalza, I wanted to share this with you on the other thread, but it was already closed.

It is a link to the famous essay by Cardinal Newman on development of doctrine and how that differs from true doctrinal innovation or corruption. It may help with your overall issue.

newmanreader.org/works/development/

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