Let them be anathema

A bunch of women think they have been ordained Catholic priests.  This is risible on the surface, of course, but it is spiritually dangerous for them and those who have been duped into believing it.  As a matter of fact, they are running the risk of the eternal punishment of hell for themselves and others.

Today I encountered a paragraph in a letter of St. Augustine about the schismatic heretic Donatists who, in defiance of the Church and based on what they perceived were abuses or at least things they would not tolerate, set up their own orders and altars and put many people at risk of damnation.   Let’s here a bit of the Bishop of Hippo who penned a letter also signed by his friend and fellow Bishop Alypius together with Bishop Fortunatus to a certain Generosus.  Generosus was a Catholic whom a Donatist had tried to convert.  The Donatist had claim a private revelation by which he set himself apart from the authority of the Catholic Church.   Donatism was a peculiarly North African phenomenon.

There is a parallel, if not perfect, with the folly of these women who think they are ordained, at least in the results if not in the details.  Here is the beginning of ep. 53 written around the year 400.

To Generosus, their most beloved and honorable brother, Fortunatus, Alypius and Augustine send greetings in the Lord.

1.  You wanted us to know of the letter that a priest of the Donatists sent to you and although you also laugh it to scorn with the mind of a Catholic, we, nonetheless, ask that you bring to him this reply in order that you may rather do him some good if he is not hopelessly stupid.  He, after all, wrote that an angel commanded him to inform you of the practice of the Christianity of your city, though you hold on to the Christianity, not of your city, nor only of Africa or of the Africans, but that of the whole world, which has been and is being announced to all the nations.  Hence, it is not enough that the Donatists are not ashamed to have been cut off and that they do not help themselves in order to return to the root when they can, but they try also to cut others off along with them and to prepare them for the fire, like dried braches.  In his clever vanity, as I see it, he pretends on your account that an angel stood before him.  Hence, suppose that there stood before you that same angel.  And if that angel said these things to you that this man says he conveys to you at the angel’s command, you must bear in mind the words of the apostle who says, "Even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim a gospel to you apart from what we have proclaimed to you, let him be anathema" (Gal 1:8).  For it has been proclaimed to you by the words of the Lord Jesus Christ that His Gospel will be announced to all the nations that then the end will come.  It has been proclaimed to you through the writings of the prophets and of the apostles that the promises were made to Abraham and to his descendents, that is, to Christ, when God said to him, "In your descendents all the nations will be blessed"(Gn 12:3, 22:18).  Even if, then an angel from heaven said to you who have these promises, "Abandon the Christianity of the whole world, and hold onto that of the sect of Donatus," whose practice is explained to you in the letter of the bishop of your city, that angel ought to be anathema, because he tried to cut your off from the whole, shove you into a part, and separate you from the promises of God.


For Augustine, one of the very worst things that could happen was schism. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kathy says:

    Very good quote from St. Augustine, thanks!

    The people I meet who are most interested in schism, though, are not on the left but on the right. People who are “fed up” with the “post-Vatican II Church,” etc. etc. A lot of them are thinking of leaving based on liturgical abuses alone. I think it’s important to remember that Donatus thought he was erring, not on the side of progressivism, but on the side of a “purity” that trumped unity.

  2. ignorant redneck says:

    I think of the SPPX, and then of the “ecumenical cathlic church” and a few other groups. It makes me sad–I havn’t even got used to the great schism of 1054 yet!

    I have heard folk on the, ummm, loose adhearance side of Catholicism say we need a pope for America intead of the one in Rome.

    I guess every kid thinks of running away from home every once in a while.

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