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June 8, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. I would like to know about Loreto Publications. Is it a trustworthy Catholic publishing house? — J.F., New York.
A. Loreto Publications, which is located in Fitzwilliam, N.H., was started in 1999 to publish and distribute “Catholic books designed to aid Catholics in their efforts to convert America to the Catholic religion. . . . We intend to make available only those works that are completely in line with Catholic dogma and morals and to defend and promote the Catholic religion with no compromises.”
They say on their website that “all of us who labor in this apostolate with our families are militant Roman Catholics loyal to the Holy Father, faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and consecrated to Jesus through Mary according to the True Devotion of St. Louis Marie de Montfort. We are far more afraid of disappointing Our Lady than we are of any ‘failure’ in a worldly or financial sense.”
They are indeed “militant Roman Catholics,” descended from the late Fr. Leonard Feeney and staunch supporters of their understanding of the doctrine of “Outside the Church there is no salvation.”
Fr. Feeney was excommunicated by the Vatican’s Holy Office in 1949 for teaching that this doctrine meant that one had to be formally and visibly a member of the Catholic Church to be saved. He was reconciled with the Church before his death in 1978, but his books, and those of some of his followers, are still available through Loreto Publications.
On their website, Loreto said that the “underlying evil” of the day is “the denial of the necessity of belonging to the Catholic Church for salvation. The whole collapse in the Church today can be traced to the silencing or weakening of this one doctrine….Not until this fundamental truth is preached again from every Catholic pulpit shall we see again the triumph of Catholic values and Christian morals.”
They said that “there can be no Christian civilization without this most fundamental of all Catholic truths, the belief of innumerable multitudes who have gone before us: Outside the Church there is no salvation.”
As we have mentioned in past columns, the Church has never wavered in her teaching that salvation is only possible through the Catholic Church, but she understands this doctrine in a different way from the followers of Fr. Feeney. The Church states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that “all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body,” and that “the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church” (n. 846). The Catechism adds, however, that this does exclude 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” (n. 847).
In his 1991 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, Pope St. John Paul II said that it is necessary to keep two truths together, “namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for salvation” (n. 8). He went on to explain that the universality of salvation “is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all [cf. 1 Tim. 2:4], it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the Gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions” (n. 10).
For these people, the Holy Father continued, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and moral situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his own free cooperation” (n. 10).
So in answer to your original question, many of the books in the Loreto catalog — e.g., those by Warren Carroll, G.K. Chesterton, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Hilaire Belloc, etc. — are good sources of Catholic teaching. But there are others — e.g., by Fr. Feeney, Antonio Socci, Fr. Nicholas Gruner, and Fr. Paul Kramer — that take issue with magisterial teachings on salvation and Fatima. Caveat emptor.

Q. The Bible has many instances of demonic possession. However, in recent times not so often. In view of our current moral climate, would you agree that some world leaders, political and religious, are in fact possessed in a very subtle manner by the Devil? — R.B.K., Virginia.
A. We would agree that the Devil seems to have a significant influence over the actions and decisions of some political and religious leaders, as well some in the entertainment industry, the media, the field of education, and other spheres of our society. Whether he is directly responsible for the wars, acts of terror, racial tensions, school shootings, hatreds, contempt for human life and the dignity of the family, and loss of a sense of sin, we do not know, but he certainly must be thrilled with the frightening descent of our world into the abyss.
Remember that the Devil can influence us in extraordinary and ordinary ways. While diabolical possession is the most striking of his assaults on the human person, it is also the rarest phenomenon. Much more common are the frequent temptations to turn away from God and disregard His laws.
In his book An Exorcist Explains the Demonic, Fr. Gabriele Amorth said that it is necessary “to have a well-formed conscience” and “to guard our heart and our external senses from indecent spectacles: each of us becomes what we see, what we listen to, and what we read. Therefore, let us be discerning in what we see and listen to, and above all let us choose good friends” (p. 64).
Fr. Amorth said (pp. 64-65) that “the ordinary temptations of the Devil are played mainly in the area of intelligence. Let us think of the many theoretical errors that are passed off as modern ideas in order to unhinge the principles of the Faith, as in all the new lifestyles that are contrary to morality: cohabitation, separation, divorce, betrayal, abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia. Not to speak of corruption, wars, and egoism in all its innumerable forms. The list is truly long.
“What is the cause of this moral decline? Principally it is the diminution of the Christian conscience in the struggle against the powers of darkness. It is St. Paul who warns us: ‘For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’ ” (Eph. 6:12).
That would be enough to account for the Devil’s influence in the world today, but Fr. Amorth also mentioned diabolical vexation, obsession, and infestation. He said that vexations, which can include physical and psychological attacks on a person, “are caused by a person’s cultivation of imprudent habits, by frequenting wizards or seances, through repeated and persistent sins, or by submitting to spells” (p. 70).
Diabolical obsessions are “extremely strong hallucinations” that the demon imposes on the mind of the victim. Amorth said that “the objects of these hallucinations can be manifested as visions, as voices, as rustlings; they can also appear as monstrous figures, horrifying animals, or devils. In other cases, it can be an impulse to commit suicide or to do evil to others” (p. 72).
Diabolical infestations are “disturbances that act on houses, objects, and animals, rather than on people,” said Amorth, adding that they can damage electrical appliances, automobiles, and home heating systems. They also include doors and windows slamming with no apparent cause, lamps, TVs, and computers turning on and off for no reason, noises in the walls, unpleasant odors, and the invasion of insects” (cf. pp. 73-74).
One must try to overcome diabolical influences, and this can be done by repenting of one’s sins, frequenting the sacraments, especially Penance and the Holy Eucharist, spending time in Eucharistic adoration, reading Holy Scripture, praying the Our Father (“deliver us from evil”), and keeping sacred images and holy water in one’s home. In some cases, an exorcism or some prayers of deliverance may be necessary.
One ought at least to pray several times a day to St. Michael the Archangel to defend us from the “wickedness and snares of the Devil” and to cast into Hell those demons who “prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

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Question for church of Accompaniment crowd. Is the Way the Church is handling the McCarrick case an example of how we accompany the sinner?

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Catholic Replies

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