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The word means ‘separated’ or ‘accursed’. In the OT it was used of ‘things devoted to God’, that is not for common use; later when applied to people it came to involve exclusion from the community and loss of goods. St Paul used it of separation from the Christian community. Anathematization, which became the regular procedure against heretics, was distinguished from excommunication; whereas the latter involved only exclusion from the sacraments and worship, the former was complete separation from the body of the faithful. The distinction gradually lost its meaning and since 1983 the term has had no official application in the penal code of the RC Church.

Subjects: Christianity.

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