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February 2, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. Some years ago, The Wanderer printed a story on the feminist Psalter, which contained inclusive language. What is the status of this Psalter now? It seems odd that one can hear contemporary artists performing Christmas songs on secular radio in the original verses, and then at Mass on Christmas to hear the same songs edited to appeal to the politically correct. — M.S., Michigan.
A. As far as we know, this translation of the Book of Psalms, which is known as the Grail Psalter, has never been officially approved for use in the liturgy of the Mass in the United States. It was given an imprimatur in 1995 by William Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore, the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
But in 1997, NCCB President Bishop Anthony Pilla of Cleveland finally issued a decree withdrawing the imprimatur after having been instructed to do so three years earlier by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pilla said that the revocation of the imprimatur had nothing to do with “the fidelity or accuracy of the text,” but was rather due to “changing circumstances.”
Even though the Grail Psalter has never received official approval, some of its gender-neutral language has appeared in the revised Book of Psalms in the New American Bible, copyright 1970, 1986, and 1991. For example, verse one of Psalm 1 is translated as “happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked…,” instead of “blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly….” The elimination of the word “man” makes it impossible to read this verse as referring to Christ. A footnote to that verse in the NAB reads: “Those: literally, ‘the man.’ That word is used here and in many of the Psalms as typical, and therefore is translated ‘they’.”

Q. I have three questions involving marriages of Catholics with non-Catholics without a priest or deacon being present. First, can persons who are Catholic attend such weddings? Two priests told me not to attend, but one priest said I could attend. Second, would it be sinful to give a gift or offer congratulations to such a couple? Three, if persons who are not validly married before a Catholic priest or deacon come from another state to visit overnight, is it sinful for us to give them lodging in our home? — V.W., Minnesota.
A. These are very common and awkward situations for faithful Catholics, particularly when so many Catholics are living in objective sin and are seemingly unconcerned about the state of their souls. As you noted, a baptized Catholic who does not marry before a priest or deacon, and has not obtained a dispensation from the required form from his or her bishop, is not validly married and has entered into a sinful relationship. So we have long recommended not attending weddings and receptions involving such couples, or giving gifts or extending congratulations to them, since your actions would indicate either approval of or at least indifference to an objectively immoral situation. And we have for the same reason advised not to allow civilly married or cohabiting couples to share a room in one’s house if they are staying overnight.
What about participating with these couples in family get-togethers or functions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, or even First Communions and Confirmations? We have attended birthday parties and Baptisms for children of parents who are not married. The couple knows how we feel about their relationship, but we went to support our grandchildren. Yes, it is bizarre that those living publicly in sin would still have their children receive their sacraments and promise to raise them Catholic (even while not attending church faithfully themselves), and that’s what our presence was supporting, not the lifestyle of the parents.
Would refusal to attend a Baptism, or a First Communion, push the cohabiting couple further away from reconciliation with the Church? Or would it be better to attend and hope and pray for the best? We chose the latter course.
In this regard, the advice of Pope St. John Paul II is worth considering, namely, to “make tactful and respectful contact with the couples concerned, and enlighten them patiently, correct them charitably, and show them the witness of Christian family life in such a way as to smooth the path for them to regularize their situation” (Familiaris Consortio, n. 81).

Q. Some current Catholic clergy infer that there is a reasonable hope that all are saved. This is heresy. Many saints have indicated that a majority of souls go to Hell. Where are the authentic Catholic voices to refute this false hope? — R.B.K., Virginia.
A. One authentic Catholic voice is Ralph Martin, who demolishes the arguments for salvation for everyone in his 2012 book Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization. Director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, Dr. Martin devotes considerable space and effort to refuting the theories of Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar, who “have been very influential in shaping the thinking of many Catholics, both on a popular and an academic level, on the question of salvation apart from explicit faith in Christ and membership in the Church” (p. 93).
He spends much time examining the text of paragraph 16 of Lumen Gentium, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, noting that selective quotations from that paragraph have been used to foster the notion of universalism, while quoting it in full, particularly the last three sentences, would have undermined that notion.
It is not possible in this column to do justice to the scholarly reflections of Martin on this important topic (the 70 pages of footnotes he provides are a wealth of information in themselves). One ought to get his book to see why there is no way that the only persons in Hell are the Devil and his disciples and a few wicked individuals. In an article supporting Martin’s conclusions (“Hell and Hope for Salvation”), Germain Grisez and Peter F. Ryan, SJ, wrote the following in New Blackfriars:
“Thus Christians should hold and hand on the truths that God, who is both all-powerful and infinitely merciful, wills every human being without exception to be saved, and that Christ died for every human being without exception. They also should hold and hand on the truth that some people nevertheless perish through their own fault. Due to culpable lack of faith or failure to live the faith, such people are not in the end redeemed.”
In a reply a few months ago, we offered some scriptural evidence that Hell will not be lacking in occupants (cf. the words of Jesus about the Last Judgment in Matt. 25:41: “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” And not only devils and angels, He said, but all those who failed to help the least of their brothers and sisters).
We suggested that other likely candidates for Hell included “many modern-day Herods, from Lenin to Stalin to Hitler to Mao, who were responsible for the murders of tens of millions. How likely is it that they repented before the end? What about those doctors who have murdered millions of unborn babies, some of whom, like Dr. Kermit Gosnell, have shown no remorse? What about the terrorists who have murdered thousands of innocent people? Can there be a place in Heaven for them? Not only did they end many lives, but they deprived their victims of the chance to repent for their own sins. How about those who traffic in drugs or in young children and consciously and deliberately ruin young lives? Can there a place hot enough for these monsters in Hell?”
Finally, note the words spoken by God from His throne in Heaven in the Book of Revelation. First, He says that He will give to the righteous “a gift from the spring of life-giving water. The victor will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son” (21:6-7).
But not so, He says, “for the cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort.” He says that “their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death [eternal death in Hell]” (21:8). He repeats the list of those destined for Hell in verse 15: “Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the unchaste, the murderers, the idol-worshipers, and all who love and practice deceit.”
Only by ignoring these and other explicit Scripture passages (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Gal. 5:19-21) can one argue that only a few persons will wind up in Hell.

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