Anointing of the Sick

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Anointing of the Sick is distinguished from other forms of religious anointing or "unction" (an older term with the same meaning) in that it is intended, as its name indicates, for the benefit of a sick person. Other religious anointings occur in relation to other sacraments, in particular baptism, confirmation and ordination, and also in the coronation of a monarch.[1]

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Names

Since 1972, the Roman Catholic Church uses the name Anointing of the Sick both in the English translations issued by the Holy See of its official documents in Latin[2] and in the English official documents of Episcopal conferences.[3] It does not, of course, forbid the use of other names, for example the more archaic term "Unction of the Sick" or the term "Extreme Unction". Cardinal Walter Kasper used the latter term in his intervention at the 2005 Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.[4] However, the Church declared that "'Extreme unction' ... may also and more fittingly be called 'anointing of the sick'" (emphasis added),[5] and has itself adopted the latter term, while not outlawing the former. This is to emphasize that the sacrament is available, and recommended, to all those suffering from any serious illness, and to dispel the common misconception that it is exclusively for those at or very near the point of death.

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