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Catholic Replies

May 16, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. It always puzzles me when minors take a drink of wine at Communion. Isn’t that sort of unlawful? I know in some states it is. — A.N., Oregon.
A. First of all, don’t forget that what looks and tastes like wine is really the Precious Blood of Jesus, so it shouldn’t be called wine after the consecration. While it might be unlawful for minors to drink wine in some states, we are sure that those laws have to do with consuming large quantities of alcohol, which is not the case at Mass. It is up to parents to decide if their minor children can receive the Precious Blood at Mass, but the quantity received is so small that parents we have observed have no qualms about having their children receive Jesus under both Species.

Q. I have three questions I would like to submit to you. 1) What miracles have been attributed to Pope St. John Paul II and Pope St. John XXIII? 2) Does the Catholic Church still teach there is a Purgatory? I heard a priest say that the Church no longer believes in Purgatory. 3) If the Church does believe in Purgatory, does a funeral Mass meet the requirements to remove a soul from Purgatory to Heaven? — S.W.F., Florida.
A. 1) Of many miracles attributed to the intercession of John Paul II, the Church recognized two of them leading to his canonization. The first was the healing of a French nun, Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre, who recovered from Parkinson’s disease with no medical explanation after praying to the late Holy Father shortly after his death in 2005. The second was the cure of a Costa Rican woman, Floribeth Mora Diaz, from a brain aneurysm in 2011. After being told by doctors she had only one month to live, Mrs. Mora was healed after holding a magazine with a cover photograph of John Paul and praying to him.
As for John XXIII, the Church has recognized as miraculous the healing of an Italian nun, Sr. Caterina Capitani, in 1966. She had undergone an operation to remove a cancerous tumor in her stomach, but her condition was deteriorating when she suddenly recovered after praying to the Pope who had died only three years earlier. Pope Francis waived the required second miracle for John XXIII when he announced his plans to canonize his Predecessor along with John Paul II.
However, there was another miraculous event associated with John XXIII. When his grave was opened in 2001, his body looked as if he had “died yesterday,” said one observer. It had not decayed despite having been buried for 38 years.
2) The Church’s teaching on the existence of Purgatory has remained constant from the beginning, and any priest who denies this teaching is guilty of heresy. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1030-1031):
“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.
“The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.”
The Catechism says that this teaching is found in Scripture (e.g., 2 Macc. 12:46 and 1 Cor. 3:15) and was affirmed at the Councils of Florence (1438-1445) and Trent (1545-1563).
3) It is possible that a funeral Mass could provide the final purifying graces necessary for the deceased to go from Purgatory to Heaven, but it is more likely that additional prayers and suffrages will be needed to get the person to Heaven.

Q. Our diocesan newspaper contained an article by Catholic News Service reporting on recent statements by Virginia’s two bishops, Paul Loverde and Francis X. DiLorenzo. While I appreciate the bishops’ intentions, I question their reasoning. The bishops were urging the Virginia legislature to expand health insurance coverage in the commonwealth to 400,000 poor and vulnerable persons who are currently uninsured.
Their advocacy, according to the article, is “…informed by the Church’s teaching, first, everyone has a right to life, and second, health care is a right — not a privilege — that flows from the right to life itself. This understanding transcends the categories of left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican. It applies to all members of the human family — born and unborn, affluent and poor, insured and uninsured.”
Just because something is a right, does it follow that the government must provide it? For example, we have a right to practice our faith, but does the government have an obligation to provide places of worship and clergy? To carry the bishops’ thinking a bit further, food, clothing, and shelter are necessary to maintain life; therefore it could follow that they are a right stemming from the right to life. Should government also provide them? Of course, governments are not created to provide charity, but if something is an absolute right that the government is obligated to provide, then it isn’t charity, is it? Do you think the bishops are on firm ground on this issue? Isn’t this really a matter of prudential judgment, not an absolute right? — D.M., Virginia.
A. It’s one thing to call for assistance to the poor and the needy; that’s an obligation imposed on us by Christ Himself (cf. Matt. 24:34-40). The question then becomes, what is the most efficient way to provide this assistance? Up until the 1960s, help came mostly from private charities and local agencies and was influenced by the principle of subsidiarity, that is, the aid was provided at the local level, where there was the most reliable information about who was truly in need.
Since then, federal and state governments have spent many trillions of dollars allegedly to combat poverty. But the problem has only gotten worse, not only in terms of millions of people who are still struggling to get by despite the vast amounts of dollars spent, but also in terms of many billions of dollars wasted or unaccounted for and in terms of creating a culture of dependence on government, where there is no longer any incentive to work for a living when one can do as well, if not better, economically and financially by signing up for a government program.
We, too, can appreciate the good intentions of the bishops of Virginia, but what happens when the well of economic assistance runs dry? Common sense suggests that as the number of those getting some kind of assistance goes over 50 percent of the population (and it may already have reached that percentage), the number of those being taxed to provide this assistance will continue to diminish until many of the providers find themselves in difficult economic circumstances, too. You can’t build up one segment of the population by tearing down another.
As you suggest, trying to solve this problem demands prudential judgment as to the best course of action. But we should have learned over the past half-century that automatically turning this situation over to the federal government only makes the situation worse because many of those in charge of the programs are either well-meaning but naive, incompetent, or corrupt.
Of course, one who says such things is immediately accused of wanting to throw all the poor and needy into the streets. But if something prudential is not done soon, there will be a lot more people in the streets, including those who were bankrupted paying for government programs that did not work.

Q. I try to clip your columns, but I lose track of them. Is there a collection of columns that would make it easier? — D.H., Massachusetts.
A. Funny you should ask. Yes, there are two books with a combined total of 1,600 questions answered. They are entitled Catholic Replies and Catholic Replies 2. Both have extensive indexes so you can find information easily. You can purchase the books for $17.95 each, or both of them for $30, plus $5 for shipping for one book or $8 for two books. Send check or money order to the address at the bottom of this column.

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Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Ireland has voted to legalize gay marriage, both sides say

DUBLIN (AP) — Irish voters have resoundingly backed amending the constitution to legalize gay marriage, leaders on both sides of the Irish referendum declared Saturday after the world’s first national vote on the issue. As the official ballot counting continued,…Continue Reading

Vatican’s eco guru champions Occupy Wall Street thugs

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Jeffrey Sachs wears many hats. He is known as the architect of the UN Millennium Development Goals, and the proponent of the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His new book, entitled, (what else) The…Continue Reading

Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders. Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA…Continue Reading

Federal Court Forces University of Notre Dame to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

A federal appeals court has denied a request by the University of Notre Dame to get out of having to comply with the pro-abortion HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare and requires businesses and church groups to pay…Continue Reading

The Reception of Holy Communion in the United States

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis has decided to mark the occasion with the “Year of Mercy.” Despite much happy-talk and positive papal press, it is a time of foreboding in…Continue Reading

‘Eleven Christians Killed Every Hour,’ Says Irish Bishop

According to Bishop John McAreavey, the Chair of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, statistics show that the situation of Christian persecution in the world is far more dire than most people understand. The…Continue Reading

Africa’s experience of family life must be heard at synod, Pope tells Togo’s bishops

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The eco-encyclical won’t commit the Church to unsettled science

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“America’s Changing Religious Landscape.”

The Pew Research Center just released its latest study on “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” The subtitle tells the story: “Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.” For our purposes, I want to focus…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal sees no change in family teachings at synod

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Synod Leader: Don’t Expect Changes in Catholic Church Policy

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Germany’s bishops vote to allow Church employees to publicly defy Catholic teaching

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A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope: worldly Christians can’t have both heaven and earth

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(Vatican Radio)  It’s sad to see a Christian who wants to “follow Jesus and the things of this world.” That’s what Pope Francis said at Tuesday morning’s Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, stressing that a Christian is called to make a radical choice in life:  you can’t be “half” Christian or have both “heaven and earth.” In his homily Pope Francis reflects on Peter’s query to Jesus:  what would he and the disciples get…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: the gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth

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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis against the backdrop of St Peter’s Basilica and dressed in scarlet vestments, celebrated Mass on Pentecost Sunday. In his homily, the Holy Father began by focusing on Sunday’s readings saying that, “the word of God, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with the Spirit. Expanding on this theme of the Spirit, Pope Francis said that, in the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Labour must be free, creative, participatory, and mutually-supportive

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis spoke to the Italian Christian Workers Associations (ACLI) on Saturday in the Vatican on occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Association. In his speech to the Italian Christian Workers Associations – also known as the ACLI – Pope Francis exhorted those present to support a culture of dignified labour. He denounced the ‘god of money’ at the heart of our global economic system, promoting a culture of…Continue Reading

At the General Audience Francis asks that fathers and mothers take back their full role as educators

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Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth

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Intense Conflicts . . . Is The Catholic Church In Germany In Danger Of Apostasy?

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The Obama-Boehner-McConnell “Fast Track” To A Poorer America

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What If We Didn’t Have A Constitution?

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Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Aren’t Homosexuals Born That Way?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.) + + + The most powerful weapon in the homosexual special rights arsenal is the victim status. A close second is the allegation that homosexuals are “born that way.” If scientists can show that homosexuality…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

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By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Social Networks, Addiction To Images, And Custody Of The Eyes

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An Apologetics Course… The Order Of The Universe Proves God’s Existence

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 3 Let us put our thinking cap on, and reason: Whenever you see something whose parts are arranged in order, following a specific logical pattern, you know that someone did it. Furniture in a living room, chess pieces on a board, books in a library. Orderly arrangement cannot be explained except as being due to…Continue Reading

The Church — Body Of Christ

By DON FIER As we considered “People of God” as an image of the Church last week, an important and underlying principle inherent to its biblical symbolism emerged: God wills to make us holy and save us not as separated, isolated individuals, but as a people. He wills to sanctify and redeem mankind “by making them into one people gathered…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Writing in the Sunday bulletin of the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George W. Rutler talked of the “web of contradiction [that] becomes more entangled in our day when politics are complicated by moral inconsistencies.” He cited three examples: “First, the birth of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana occasioned celebrations, as the birth of any…Continue Reading

Truths Beyond Comprehension

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Catholic Heroes . . St. Ephrem

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Catholic Heroes . . . St. Charles Lwanga And Companions

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church in Africa has experienced unprecedented growth in the past century. In 1900, shortly after the martyrdom of Charles Lwanga and companions, there were two million Catholics in Africa. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa in 2009, the Catholic population was 158 million. Once again the Church has witnessed that the blood of martyrs is…Continue Reading