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December 8, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: One of the most common arguments in favor of abortion is that it should be permitted in cases of rape. Not so, says Rebecca Kiessling, whose mother was raped. The founder and president of Save the 1, Kiessling, in a speech to an international pro-life conference in Peru in November 2017, offered the following reasons against this exception:
“I am not the child of a rapist — I am the child of a rape victim. My mother and I object to me being characterized otherwise. The rapist has no claim on me. Tell those who say such things, do not insult me or my mother in this way.”
“It is simply barbaric to punish an innocent child for someone else’s crime. Justice dictates that in a civilized society we punish rapists, not babies. Those who would kill innocent children are the ones who are barbaric! I did not deserve the death penalty for the crime of my biological father.”
“After an abortion, rape victims have a higher rate of being murdered, committing suicide, drug overdose, etc. Rapists, child molesters, and sex traffickers love abortion, which destroys the evidence and enables them to continue perpetrating.”
“It is always the baby who is the hero of the story, by exposing the rape, delivering [the mother] out of the abusive situation, protecting her and bringing her healing. So if you care about rape victims, you must protect her from the rapist and from the abortion, and not the baby. The baby is not the scary enemy. It’s just absurd to suggest that any woman should be afraid of a baby.”

Q. Some years ago, my five-year-old son asked whether God is everywhere. I said yes. Then he asked if God is in Hell. I said that He could be there if He wished, but He does not wish to be there, for it is such an unpleasant place. I was not sure of this answer of mine, so I consulted a theologian. He told me I was wrong, that God is present in Hell with His will. He sustains Hell by His will and could abolish it if He so willed. In a reply some months ago, you wrote that Jesus is not present in Hell. I believe you are wrong. He is there by His divine will. Can you comment on this? — M.G., Poland.
A. Back on June 22, while talking about the mercy of Jesus, we said that “those who stubbornly ignore the ‘bitter passion’ of Jesus and deliberately turn away from His divine mercy 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.”
It appears, however, that you are correct, and here is commentary from the second volume of Radio Replies (question 836) by Fathers Leslie Rumble and Charles Carty:
“For not even hell can escape God’s presence. But whilst God is so present everywhere that even hell cannot be exempted, He is not so present in hell that He could be affected by hell. His very mode of presence is proper to himself, and different from any notion we can form of it adequately by ideas drawn from created relationships. He will certainly be present there by His being, and knowledge, and power. But it will be a physical presence only, affording no consolation to those enduring the sufferings of hell….
“At any rate, God is everywhere, even in hell, however our limited ideas may fail to explain the nature of His presence. And human souls must cry with David, ‘Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy face? If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there; if I descend into hell Thou art present’ (Psalm 138 [139]:8).”

Q. Current-day crucifixes show nails through Jesus’ wrists, and not His hands. This is because studies have shown that nails in the palms could not hold up the body. These studies, unfortunately, are incorrect for three reasons.
One, in John 20:25, Thomas said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands . . . I will not believe.” In Luke 24:39-40, Jesus said, “‘Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself’. . . . And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.” There is no mention of wrists.
Two, the saints who had the stigmata, like Padre Pio, had wounds in their hands, not in their wrists.
Three, the studies assume that Jesus just hung there for three hours, when in fact He had to prop himself up on the spike that was through His feet. Earlier crucifixes have a little platform under Jesus’ feet to help Him prop Himself up. How do we know this? By the way the Romans killed the two thieves; they broke their legs. What do you think? — J.W., New Jersey.
A. The reason why current-day crucifixes show the nails through Jesus’ wrists is because of the image on the Shroud of Turin, which was not publicly revealed until 1898. Extensive studies by doctors and NASA scientists have confirmed that the nails were not driven through the palms. In A Doctor at Calvary, his classic medical account of the Passion and Death of Jesus, Dr. Pierre Barbet discovered through experimentation on corpses that a nail placed in the palm of the hand would not support a man’s weight. He found, however, that there was a spot where the palm met the wrist that would take a nail and would support the body of a man.
His most startling finding was that when a nail pierced this spot, it partly severed the median nerve, causing unbelievable pain but also causing the thumb to jerk inward against the palm. This corresponded exactly to the bloodstain on the Shroud of Turin. Not only did the bloody wound appear on the back of the wrist in the pictures of the crucified Man on the Shroud, but the image of the hands, with the palms downward, showed no sign of thumbs.
This does not necessarily contradict the words of Thomas or Jesus since wounds in the palm or the wrist are not that far apart. Or perhaps Thomas and Jesus were being true to the words of Psalm 22: “They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.”
In any case, further examination of the Roman practice of crucifixion concluded that nails through the palms would not support the weight of a person’s body, whereas, as Dr. Barbet demonstrated, nails through the wrists would accomplish this.
As for the reports of stigmatists, Barbet said that the stigmata have a mystical significance and do not necessarily duplicate the physical location of the five wounds of Christ. This is true, for example, of the wound from the lance, which most authorities place on Jesus’ right side, but which some stigmatists have on the left side. In his book, Barbet said:
“The exact localization of these stigmata is not always the same, but it varies throughout the whole extent of the metacarpal zone, as far as being very near to the wrists. We should come to the conclusion that the stigmatists can give us no information either as to the position or the form of the wounds of the Crucifixion” (p. 105)
As evidence of the spiritual significance of the wounds, Barbet cited the words of stigmatist Theresa Neumann, who told one of her friends: “Do not think that Our Savior was nailed in the hands, where I have my stigmata. These marks only have a mystical meaning. Jesus must have been fixed more firmly on the Cross.”
Finally, the studies don’t “assume” that Jesus hung on the cross for three hours; this is what the Gospels say. The image on the Shroud indicates that Jesus’ feet were nailed directly to the cross, one foot in front of the other, with no little platform underneath. We believe that Jesus, and the two thieves, propped themselves up on the spike in their feet and, to put an end to that excruciating way of prolonging life, the soldiers broke the legs of the thieves. They did not break Jesus’ legs because He was already dead.
But one soldier stabbed Jesus through the heart, causing blood and a watery substance to flow forth and confirming that He was dead. This unnecessary action may have been carried out so that we, 2,000 years later, could say with certainty that Christ had expired.

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Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

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Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

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