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June 16, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. I have homosexual friends who are angry at the Church for describing them as “disordered” because of their homosexual inclinations. How should I respond to them? — M.K., Florida.
A. By pointing out that it is their actions, not themselves, that the Church describes as “intrinsically disordered.” Thus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2357) says:
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity [cf. Gen. 19:1-29; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:10; 1 Tim. 1:10], tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’ [CDF, Persona humana, n. 8]. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
Note that the language has to do with “acts,” not with the persons committing the acts. Regarding those with same-sex tendencies, the Catechism says that “this inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (n. 2358).
The Church has from the beginning labeled as “intrinsically disordered” or “intrinsically evil” acts of abortion, adultery, euthanasia, torture, slavery, sex trafficking, terrorism, and homosexuality, but never has she called the perpetrators of these acts evil persons who are beyond the reach of God’s grace. The old adage is true, that we are called to hate the sin, but never to hate the sinner; rather we are called to love them and to pray for their conversion.

Q. Since Muslims believe that Allah has no son, and Jews likewise believe that God has no son, how can they get to Heaven when Jesus says He is the way? Are they exempt? If so, why didn’t Jesus mention exemptions? — D.L.H., Iowa.
A. Jesus didn’t mention any exemptions because there are none. No one gets to Heaven except through Him. This does not mean, however, that people who do not explicitly accept Jesus as Lord and Savior are going to Hell. St. Paul said that God “wills everyone to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:2), and He will make it possible, in ways not known to us, for all who respond sincerely to His grace to reach Heaven. Here is how the Catechism (n. 847) puts it:
“Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation [LG, n. 16; cf. DS 3866-3872].”
This is not a new teaching. Back in 1863, for example, Blessed Pope Pius IX said that “those who labor in invincible ignorance concerning our most holy religion and who, assiduously observing the natural law and its precepts which God has inscribed in the hearts of all, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life can, through the working of divine light and grace, attain eternal life since God, who clearly sees, inspects, and knows the mind, the intentions, the thoughts, and habits of all, will, by reason of his supreme goodness and kindness, never allow anyone who has not the guilt of willful sin to be punished by eternal sufferings” (Quanto Conficiamur Moerore).
More than a century later, Pope St. John Paul II noted that “many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the Gospel revelation or to enter the Church” because of “the social and cultural conditions” in which they were brought up.
Nevertheless, he said in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio, salvation is possible “to all people of good will in whose hearts grace is secretly at work. Since Christ died for everyone, and since the ultimate calling of each of us comes from God and is therefore a universal one, we are obliged to hold that the Holy Spirit offers everyone the possibility of sharing in this paschal mystery in a manner known to God” (n. 10).
This is not saying that all those who are sincerely ignorant of the Gospel of Christ are automatically saved. They must still seek the truth and do the will of God as they understand it, and God does put in each person’s heart a natural law that calls him to love good and avoid evil. Such persons might not be culpable for sins against faith (their ignorance of Jesus and the Gospel), but they might very well be culpable for other sins (abortion, adultery, theft, hatred, racism, terrorism, etc.) that would keep them out of Heaven unless they repented.

Q. It seems to me that everybody goes to Heaven if you follow the rules of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. But in his book on Purgatory, Fr. F.X. Schouppe, SJ, said that everyone will have to spend some time in Purgatory to atone for the temporal punishment attached to forgiven mortal sins. What is your opinion on this? — M.G., Alabama.
A. There is no contradiction between what Jesus told St. Faustina about His divine mercy, and what Fr. Schouppe said about Purgatory. The Church has always taught that every person who is sorry for his sins, but has not fully atoned for the temporal punishment stemming from those sins (for example, a person who turns back to God near the end of his life), will have to make up for those sins in Purgatory.
In the words of the Catechism: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (n. 1030).
What St. Faustina was emphasizing was that Jesus’ mercy is so vast that it can pardon even the most hardened sinner if that sinner is truly sorry for his sins. This doesn’t mean that the sinner will go straight to Heaven, only that Jesus’ forgiveness will make it possible for him to get to Heaven after a period of purification in Purgatory.
Jesus told Faustina that “I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so. My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the day of justice, I am sending the day of mercy.”
He cautioned that “souls perish in spite of my bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation, that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore my mercy, they will perish for all eternity. Tell souls about this great gift of mine because the awful day, the day of my justice, is near.”
That doesn’t sound like everyone is going to Heaven. Those who stubbornly ignore the “bitter passion” of Jesus and deliberately turn away from His divine mercy will have said by their actions that they want nothing to do with Jesus. They will get their wish by going to Hell, where Jesus is not present.

Q. Would you expand on your recent answer to M.A.C. of Maryland about responding to Confirmation students who claim that they have no sins to confess? Besides Msgr. Pope’s column (where is that located?), are there other sources along the same lines? — D.T., Ohio.
A. Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., writes a blog on moral and spiritual matters that is often reprinted by LifeSiteNews. In the blog that we referenced, he listed a bunch of “little sins” that people pay no attention to, but which ought to be part of one’s examination of conscience when preparing for Confession.
Two other good sources of this kind of information were written by Pope St. John Paul II. One is his document Reconciliation and Penance, and the other is his encyclical The Splendor of Truth. Both contain much valuable information on the moral life, on conscience, and on mortal and venial sin. For example, in the latter document, you will find extensive lists of mortal sins in paragraphs 13, 49, 80, 81, 100, and 101.

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Catechism

Today . . .

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Catholic Replies

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