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Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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The state of being tainted and in need of purification. It implies the presence of impure elements. This condition of being ceremonially unclean without reference to the purity of one's moral status is unknown among Christians, but current among Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, and Shintoists. Among Jews, marriage, childbirth, contact with the dead or being in the presence of lepers was thought to contaminate and produce an unclean state. Christ abrogated this feature of the Mosaic law.

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