Pronouncing Anathema

Greetings! I’m hoping this is the best forum for this question, as it doesn’t seem to fall in any other forum.

I ran across this news article from an Anglican website:

African Bishop Anathematizes Episcopal Presiding Bishop

Part of me is thinking, “It’s about time!” Another part is thinking “So that’s why blaspheming the Holy Spirit is unforgivable.” The whole thing got me wondering: I’m aware of the process of excommunication. In the Catholic faith, excommunication always holds the possibility of returning to the Church. Anathema, on the other hand, sounds permanent: if you cannot tell the difference between what is holy and what is profane, how can you honestly feel sorry for your sins?

So my question is: does the Church still reserve the right to pronounce anathema on someone? Can such a sentence be lifted?

(And another part of me was reminded of the character of Anathema Device from “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. (Her parents named her Anathema because her mother thought it sounded very pretty.) The book is one of my favorites, BTW. I like British humor, so I think it’s a hoot. If you don’t like British humor, then, not so much.)

Ha, at first I thought you were literally asking how to pronounce the word.

Good Omens is one of my favorite books - I also read the separate works of both Pratchett and Gaiman.

They’re simply ineffable.


Me tooooooo :smiley:

Un-nah-theh(as in there)-mah. :smiley:

The Church has always had the right to anathemise an individual. She just doesn’t exercise it very often these days. :slight_smile:

“Anathema” and excommunication are the same thing.

In former times, excommunication had varying degrees (minor, major, anathema, anathema maranatha) and the most serious levels had a specific ceremony/formula that was followed. This is the case of anathema.

And of course one can always repent and excommunication can always be lifted.

The word has fallen into disuse in these times, hence the uncertainty about its pronunciation and meaning. Nevertheless, its use and meaning are still valid to Catholics as they are bound to the pronouncements and judgments of all 21 ecumenical councils where the word is used liberally, so to speak.

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