This seems fascinating- Individuals not anathema?

Was reading an article by Jimmy
Akin from 2000 on anathemas.

Came to a very interesting part. The 1983 code of canon law abrogated all former anathemas! Now, they still stand as limits as to dogma, in other words, they still show us what not to be believed.

But as to them applying to INDIVIDUALS, that looks gone-

“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.”

So, does this mean, for example that in the anathema of Severus of Antioch, the content of what he is alleged to believe is NOT to be held, but as regarding the man, he is no longer anathematized???

That’s exactly how I read it, and it seems a fascinating point, because it can free up the investigation into whether some of these men really believed what they were anathematized for. We won’t necessarilly be contradicting dogmatic facts.


Jimmy Akin notes in his article that the penalty of anathema was used rarely and that no individual under anathema was alive by 1983 when the Church abolished the penalty.

Severus of Antioch was clearly dead way before 1983.

How does the abrogation of a Church penalty on Earth, centuries after somebody is dead, make any difference at all? Why are you so fascinated with that? Wherever Severus is now, I doubt he was in anathema jail and just got let out by an angel when the Church did away with the penalty in 1983. If you wanted to have a debate about whether his anathema was unjust, you could have that at any time. No need for the Church to do away with anathema for you to argue about it. The Church has certainly committed various injustices in its actions in the past; it’s not perfect.

In any event, as a general matter in law, a repeal of a law or an abrogation usually isn’t retroactive unless explicitly made retroactive, so all the past anathemas would probably stand unless explicitly repealed by the Church, but in this case since like Jimmy Akin said all the individuals involved were dead, the Church likely didn’t feel any need to make the abrogation retroactive.

In short: please tell me how this matters?

I find it in line with Church teaching to hate the sin and not the sinner. More like a clarification than a change. Anathema meaning “high word” or “word against” it is clearly refering to the ideas promoted not the soul of the people who said those things considered heresies (wrong teachings). Holy Mother Church does not want the sinner to be damned but to be saved. So the anathemas are clearly applied to the ideas being damned while the person who said and promoted them to be forgiven by God.
A clarification not a change imho.

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That’s a valid point, maybe I misread it and misapplied it, forgive me.

I think maybe the question you want to consider instead is, would Severus have been excommunicated for such views if he held them today (since Jimmy makes the point that anathematizing a person was like excommunication ) and why was he anathematized then?

Church teaching is not going to change, but usually there was some reason the Church would go so far as to declare someone anathema. There was generally a pretty serious context. It’s okay to talk about and discuss the context.

We must remember that in the past, individual leaders could exert considerable influence just by persuasive talk, as most people were illiterate. So it was felt necessary by the Church to anathematize them to protect the faithful. That need no longer exists.

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They would excommunicate someone today if they felt he was leading the faithful astray. For example, they have done this with pastors who had a dispute with the bishop and went off and started their own schismatic Catholic parishes.

Correct regarding excommunication. To my knowledge the Church doesn’t use the term anathemas anymore, they don’t appear in the Catechism or Canon Law.

So, it would seem that the Pope could not lift the anathemas of an ecumenical council, BECAUSE of the notion of dogmatic fact.

SO, the Jansenist heresy is actually what brought this issue to the fore. The Jansenists were basically following the Teaching of Cornelius Jansen, who wrote a work “Augustinus.” Now, the Pope identified 5 errors in the work, 5 heresies. And the Jansenists tried to get out of following the command to avoid the writing by this logic-

“Ok, those things are heretical, but they are not actually in this work.”

The Pope wrote that, no, not only is the determination of what a heresy IS dogmatic, but ALSO the determination of WHERE heresy is is also dogmatic. So when a work is declared heretical, there’s no arguing, it’s heretical. This is the notion of dogmatic fact.

Now, it would seem that the anathemas of individuals by ecumenical councils are matters of dogmatic fact. Not only is the content of their teaching heretical, but THEY ARE heretics, period.

SO, how can we reconcile the idea of rehabilitating those who are anathematized with the notion of dogmatic fact- that the FACTS of a case, the who, what and where are also protected by infallibility. The Church cannot be wrong in defining a WORK or a PERSON as actually being heretical apparently.

There were people who were anathematized who returned to the Church in their lifetime and had the anathema lifted. They stopped the behavior (such as a marriage not permitted by the Church) that led to the anathema, and they were permitted to return.

If someone died under anathema, then it’s for God to sort out at the time of judgment.
It’s pretty much the same as someone who is excommunicated and died without coming back to the Church and confessing and doing whatever else is necessary to lift the excommunication.

What do you think of this?

I’m not sure how you think all that applies exactly.

I do think Jansenism is a load of hooey in general; the Church rejected that teaching, and some teachings of St. Therese of Lisieux, who is a Doctor of the Church, were in direct reaction to/ rejection of the Jansenist atmosphere she grew up in.

Simply this- Eastern Catholics, on the basis of dogmatic fact, cannot ever really be justified in venerating a name that has been anathematized. So, it would seem errant for a Syriac Catholic to try to venerate Severus, for he is anathematized. It would be errant for a Coptic Catholic to venerate Dioscorus, for he is anathematized.

TO argue the contrary, is to take the Jansenist position, essentially- “Sure, what the Church anathematized is wrong but these men never really taught it.” That’s placing private opinion over the teaching office of the Church and denying the Church’s authority to rule on dogmatic facts. But this denial is actually part of a heresy.

Therefore it cannot be argued, as a Catholic, that we can reasonably venerate those whose names are subject to anathema without falling at least partially into Jansenism.

i don’t know how it works in the East, but Latin Catholics can privately venerate anybody who they reasonably think is in Heaven, including those who perhaps had to spend Purgatory time first. So I’m not too worried about it. If I decide somebody’s reasonably in Heaven, whether it’s Severus or my grandpa, I can privately venerate them myself.

Public veneration, such as official sainthood, naming a church after a person, putting a statue in the church of that person, etc. requires the person to be officially canonized or otherwise approved as a saint by the Latin Church (as many historic saints didn’t go through a canonization process as we know it today). I’m sure the circumstances of any anathema would be taken into account by the Latin Church in deciding whether to publicly venerate a person. There have been saints who were disciplined in their life and at least one who was excommunicated during her life, but the bishop lifted it on his deathbed and the saint was reconciled to the Church before she died.

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