The Evangelization Station

Best Catholic Links

Search this Site




Mailing List

Pray for Pope Francis

Scroll down for topics

100+ Important Documents in United States History


Apostolic Fathers of the Church

Articles Worth Your Time

 Biographies & Writings of Notable Catholics

Catholic Apologetics

Catholic Calendar

Catholic News Commentary by Michael Voris, S.T.B.

Catholic Perspectives

Catholic Social Teaching


Church Around the World

Small animated flag of The Holy See (State of the Vatican City) graphic for a white background

Church Contacts

  Church Documents

Church History

Church Law

Church Teaching


Doctors of the Church



(Death, Heaven, Purgatory, Hell)

Essays on Science


Fathers of the Church

Free Catholic Pamphlets

 Heresies and Falsehoods

How to Vote Catholic

Let There Be Light

Q & A on the Catholic Faith

Links to Churches and Religions

Links to Newspapers, Radio and Television

Links to Recommended Sites

Links to Specialized Agencies

Links to specialized Catholic News services


General Instruction of the Roman Missal


Marriage & the Family

Modern Martyrs

Mexican Martyrdom

Moral Theology


Pope John Paul II's

Theology of the Body

Movie Reviews (USCCB)

New Age


Parish Bulletin Inserts

Political Issues

Prayer and Devotions



Hope after Abortion

Project Rachel


Help & Information for Men


Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults




The Golden Legend


Vocation Links & Articles


What the Cardinals believe...

World Religions

Pope John Paul II

In Memoriam

John Paul II


Pope Benedict XVI

In Celebration

Visits to this site

    Question 88: Does the practice of excommunicating and anathematizing people from the Catholic Church imply condemning them to eternal damnation?

    Answer: Neither excommunication or anathemas imply the Church's condemning anyone to hell. That is the prerogative of God alone. Excommunication is a Church law, excluding a notorious sinner from the communion of the faithful. The Code of Canon Law (1331 §1) stipulates that the excommunicated person is forbidden:

to have any ministerial part in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Eucharist or in any other ceremonies of public worship;

to celebrate the sacraments or sacramentals and to receive the sacraments;

to exercise any ecclesiastical offices, ministries, functions or acts of governance.

    The purpose of excommunication is to warn the sinner of the danger he runs of incurring eternal damnation, unless he repents of his sin. Excommunication or "Delivering the sinner to Satan" is based on the words of St. Paul, who delivered the incestuous sinner to Satan, "that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5; Cf. 1 Tim. 1:20).

    When St. Paul said, "Let him be accursed" (Greek, anathema) who preaches a heretical Gospel (Gal. 1:8), he did not condemn the heretic to hell, but stigmatized the willful teacher of false doctrines as a rebel against the Gospel of Christ. The Church in the anathemas, which accompany the canons of her Councils, merely imitates the example of St. Paul.

    The Council of Trent solemnly warned bishops to be moderate in its use, declaring, "Although the sword of excommunication is the very sinews of ecclesiastical discipline…yet it is to be used with sobriety and great circumspection; seeing that experience teaches that if it be wielded rashly and for slight causes, it is more despised than feared, and works more evil than good” (Sess. 25, ch. 3, De ref.)



Copyright © 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved