Saturday, July 12, 2008

Anathemas, Part II

This is pretty short and sweet. In the comments section, Candy writes:

And, according to Mr. Charles M. Wilson, who is an associate member of the Canon Law Society of America and president of the St. Joseph Foundation, all of the anathemas still stand. He is a credible source.

Well, there is a Mr. Charles Wilson, who is a canon lawyer and President of the St. Joseph Foundation. He would be a credible source, if Candy can prove that he said that. However, she does not give any evidence to that effect.

I believe her source is good ol' Peter and Paul Ministries. From their webpage: Mr. Charles M. Wilson, an associate member of the Canon Law Society of America and president of the St. Joseph Foundation when asked if the Code of 1983 repealed the anathemas he stated, “I can find nothing in the Code now in force that explicitly or implicitly removes any anathemas of Trent.”

That's pretty word for word, isn't it? I could find no other quotation from him in an online search, and the St. Joseph Foundation website is not public access.

Jimmy Akin on anathemas:

In fact, anathema was a kind of canonical penalty involving excommunication that used to be found in Church law that could be imposed for various offenses, including certain doctrinal ones. It did not take place automatically but had to be imposed by an ecclesiastical court and, since Church tribunals have better things to do than millions of trials for purposes of excommunicating every Lutheran in the world, it was never applied to more than a handful of individuals. It tended to be applied--and then rarely--only to people who made a pretense of staying within the Catholic community.

Excommunication also does not damn people to hell--it's an equivalent of disfellowshipping (cf. Matt. 18:17, 1 Cor. 5:1-2) meant to prompt the sinner to repentance (2 Cor. 2:5-8).

Further, anathema no longer exists in Church law. It ceased to exist with the release of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

The original article I linked to explains how anathemas ceased to exist with the new Code of Canon Law:

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.

Here's the current Code of Canon Law, Candy. Prove away!

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Tracy said...

sorry about the delete.. typo.. I meant to say.. you did your homework very well on this Kelly..super nice job:)

Diana said...

I've wondered for a while what Anathemas really means. It's a word that's been used quite alot recently. Thanks for clearing that up.
I have a question if you please.
My sister is pregnant and has asked me to be the babies Godmother. I am so excited and honoured to being asked. I think i'm the only one though who won't be Catholic. Is there anything i can do or need to do in preparation for this joyus occasion.

Kelly said...

Hi diana, thanks for commenting.

Elena might be able to give you more ideas than me, but I'll give it a shot. I believe if one Godparent is a non-Catholic, then the other is required to be Catholic, so they can get your back, so to speak.

Generally, Godparent is supposed to be a religious function, as a way of making sure the child will get religious instruction.

As you aren't Catholic, then I would suggest you still try and be familiar with his/her faith life in ways such as attending the First Communion and Confirmation. Perhaps giving religious gifts on occasion, such as a children's Bible, or Teen Study Bible when the child is older.

aine said...

diana, I found this:

Can. 872 Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.

Can. 873 There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.

Can. 874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:

1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;

2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;

3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;

4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;

5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.

§2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.

So it seems that you can be a witness, but not a godparent.

Kelly said...

People choose a non-Catholic Godparent frequently, and though it is technically called "witness" most people still call them godparent, because it is meant as a position of honor.

Maggii said...

Yeah...only one Godparent is actually needed and that one must be Catholic...but most families will choose two...a man and a since only one is needed...the other doesn't need to actually be kelly says they would technically just be a witness.....but we like to call them God Parent as well.