Video – Standing Fast – Fr. Angelo Geiger #16: Charitable Anathema

By November 18, 2007April 9th, 2019Fr. Angelo Geiger, Standing Fast
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Ave Maria!

Fr. Angelo addresses the misconception that the discipline of withholding communion from obstinate and notorious sinners is somehow uncharitable. He takes Fr. John Hardon as his starting point to show that, in the right measure, it is the epitome of charity. To put it in a nutshell, he brings up Dietrich Von Hildebrand's interesting phrase, "Charitable Anathema." Fr. Angelo presents Archbishop Burke as a good example for our consideration.

Ave Maria!

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  • Rachel says:

    I especially appreciated the article by Fr. Hardon regarding the priesthood and anethema, especially the sentence that incites the laity to pray for poor priests who are weak and would give way to further scandal for the church that they are obligated to serve. It’s sad that catholic laity, especially politicians should continue to live scandalous lives by promoting such things as abortion. However, it’s even sadder that men who have been trained up in the faith would perform such hideous acts as what we have seen in the last 10 years with the priestly scandal. I think that these So Called Men of God will be held more accountable. “To whom much is given, more is expected in return.”

    “what I call the scandal of Christ’s giving so much to such little people that those of us who are not priests should beg daily the Living God to strengthen this weakness in His priests so that they might be – I don’t say worthy of their office.” Fr. John’s article

    Do we anethema all these priests who have caused scandal and shun them and kick those priests out of the church? or do we forgive them and pray that they get counseling and help for their evils done to those innocent victims. What a complicated world we live in!!! Especially when it comes to the things of God.

    Anethema! Hmmmm! I wonder where that fits in with St. Paul’s teachings “They will know you are Christians by your love”

  • Fr Angelo says:


    Anethema! Hmmmm! I wonder where that fits in with St. Paul’s teachings “They will know you are Christians by your love???

    I think it fits in here with some of St. Paul’s other teaching:

    But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema (Gal. 1:8-9).

    The Church has never excommunicated or withheld communion for scandalous behavior alone, but only when that behavior was obstinate and incorrigible.

    Such a discipline is not merely punitive. It is also meant to be remedial. It should, indeed, be accompanied by prayer and penance.

    While I do strongly support a public policy within the Church that holds everyone accountable for public acts contrary to faith and charity, I also often speak about how important it is for all of us to pray and do penance. If all of us prayed and did penance, for example, when we here of some alleged infraction of a priest, instead of just complaining, the Church would be in a much different situation.

    Thanks for the observation.

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