Thursday, August 27, 2009

Anathemas Have Been Done Away!

Today I encountered the following comment: "Anathemas were done away with under the most recent Code of Canon Law." (source) It's not the first time I've seen this claim. The problem is this: I have the most recent Code of Canon Law and it doesn't (that I can find) even mention anathemas. I suppose that some folks in Roman Catholicism think this silence means that anathemas have been done away. That seems like as weak an argument as the argument that prayer veils are no longer required because of the silence regarding them. I wonder whether there is anything more to the argument than that. Any ideas anyone?

I'm aware of Mr. Akin's argument as follows:
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.
The problems with that type of argument are:

1) Where was anathema mentioned in the 1917 Code? I've perused that code and couldn't find it. Perhaps I overlooked something?

2) A penalty and a penal law are not the same thing.

If that's all Mr. Akin has, his argument seems exceptionally weak.


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