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I now trust in Christ alone, the Catholic Church anathema me, so now I am damned (according to them). How is it that Jesus Christ alone saved me and they can condemn me? Living in peace for my Saviour, I believe I was born again when I turned to Him as an adult, the Catholic church says I was born again when I was sprinkled as a baby. Who is correct?

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  • This could be made into two more general questions: does the Catholic Church hold that those who leave to join other churches are damned? And what does “born-again” mean for Catholics (already asked). – AthanasiusOfAlex Feb 24 '16 at 11:01
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    I'm a Catholic and I trust in Jesus Christ Alone, so when he tells me that "the Pillar and foundation of truth" is the Church, I hear his word and keep it. Having also, accepted Jesus Christ as my Personal Lord and savior (which is nice but nowhere in the bible) I also believe I have been born again, I thank my mother and father for having me sprinkled and making me part of the Family of God. I suggest, that if someone has brought you closer to Christ and you feel a certain bond to that person it is a rather natural reaction, now however, you should look more closely at what is being taught. – Marc Feb 24 '16 at 13:39
  • I should have flagged this as a "denominational friction/Truth question" question. As I edited the answer I realized he ended it with "who is right?" while I was focused on "did someone really have anathema pronounced on them?" Sorry. – KorvinStarmast Feb 24 '16 at 14:38
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It is fair to say that the Catholic Church considers baptism to be a rebirth in Christ. Baptism, at whatever age the sacrament is received, is considered a permanent blessing. This answer covers some of that.

CCC 1257(excerpt) The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit."

Born again, or reborn in Christ, are a very old beliefs in Christianity.

the Catholic Church anathema me, so now I am damned (according to them)

From the Catholic encyclopedia "Anathema remains a major excommunication which is to be promulgated with great solemnity."

Chances are that anathema was not pronounced upon you, since the RCC no longer does this. (Thanks to @AthanasiusOfAlex for the update). If you mean that you were excommunicated -- excommunication (literally, "out of communion"), as seen from the RCC's position, is part of a process that hopefully ends in reconciliation and return to communion with the faith. If one is excommunicated (pronouncement of anathema was at one time a severe case of this) the return to salvation/grace (per the RCC) is via the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. (Confession, etc) Those are not trivial issues, and are handled on a case by case basis, and worthy of a separate question.

Once baptized, the RCC takes the position that you are Catholic, even if you become a "lapsed" Catholic. From their perspective, you will always be welcomed back if you choose to return to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Catholics Come Home program has that as an objective. This indicates the intention to reconcile and always hold out thee hope of a return into full communion -- not to condemn. Note from this question that since Vatican II the RCC no longer uses condemnation vis a vis other denominatinos. The Declaration on Religious Freedom is the formal document.

The RCC has a lot of material in the Catechism on free will's role in salvation. From the PoV of the Church (CCC 1861-1864) the general case of damnation is self-inflicted. A person damn's one's self by turning away from God and willfully remaining away from God, utterly rejecting his offer of love and friendship. Damnation is a possible result of particular judgment, which happens after death. (CCC 1022) While one is alive there is always an opportunity to return to God's grace ... per the Church's teaching.

1864 There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.

As to baptism itself -- statements of the Church from the Catechism.

1270 "Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church" and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God.

The sacramental bond of the unity of Christians

1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church. "Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn."

An indelible spiritual mark . . .

1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.

What the above addresses as applied to your circumstance -- the implication is that, even if you publicly reject the RCC, and even if you tried to disavow your baptism as an infant (don't know if you did that or not) the RCC would still say that "you can't undo your baptism." Your more recent celebration of a baptism would be a non-event to the RCC, as you already have an indelible mark on your soul and are numbered among the baptized ... forever. Someone in your diocese or the parish where you were baptized has a record of your baptism. If your current church is involved in a heresy as defined by the RCC (beyond the scope of this question and this answer) that could lead to excommunication1 ... if that concerns you, I'd suggest another question.

I am not sure what denomination you have now joined, so it is hard to assess the relationship between the RCC and your church. There is substantial basis for good will to flow in both directions based on the Vatican II council's "Lumen Gentium" article 15:

  1. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.

From the RCC perspective, there's hope, there's one Baptism, and there's a connection through Christ.


1From @AthanasiusOfAlex: ... it is pretty unlikely that he was every actually excommunicated. No one will receive a public censure just for dropping out of the Church and joining a different denomination. The latae sententae censure probably does not apply, since you have to know it applies, and it is doubtful that there was really any willful heresy or schism involved (and when it is in doubt, a penalty never applies).

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  • Just a couple of things: an "anathema" is no longer used in the Catholic Church. There is excommunication for especially grave offenses. Some of them are incurred “automatically” (latae sententiae), and others have to be specifically imposed (ferendae sententiae). Although there is latae sententiae excommunication for those who commit heresy or schism, there are pretty stringent requirements for incurring the censure (e.g., you have to be aware it exists). Moreover, excommunication is not damnation: on the contrary, it is a “medicine” to help a person repent of particularly grave sins. – AthanasiusOfAlex Feb 24 '16 at 16:33
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    Yes, though you might add that it is pretty unlikely that he was every actually excommunicated. No one will ever receive a public censure just for dropping out of the Church and joining a different denomination. I also highly doubt that the latae sententae censure applies either, since you have to know it applies, and it is doubtful that there was really any willful heresy or schism involved (and when it is in doubt, a penalty never applies). – AthanasiusOfAlex Feb 24 '16 at 17:12
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    @AthanasiusOfAlex As I'd need to take too long to find what I need in Canon Law, and the whole excommunication is a bit of topic drift, I added your point as a footnote and think that excommunication should be addressed in another question, if it hasn't been already: which I suspect is the case. – KorvinStarmast Feb 24 '16 at 17:19

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