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December 14, 2013 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Regarding a question about the suffering of animals, D.O. of West Virginia sent along the following comments:
“Years ago I read a book by Lewis Thomas, MD, in which he commented about injured animals who commonly go into seclusion and calmly die. He suggested that studies be done to determine whether they are naturally able to produce sufficient endorphins to eliminate pain. I asked a local veterinarian about his experience with suffering animals, and he said it was a very strange thing because felines brought to him with the most severe injuries often do not indicate evidence of pain, but frequently are purring, which they normally do only when happy and contented. He said the only exception seems to involve spinal injuries, but then he added that in those cases the animals may be reacting to paralysis or to the sounds being made by major broken bones. It may be that humans suffer only because we deserve to suffer.”

Q. My wife of over 40 years refuses to go to Confession because she practiced birth control in our early married years after four children. She reasons that she has not a sense of contrition and could not affirm that she would not repeat it if necessary. My argument is that she cannot be sure of what she would do and, in any case, is beyond childbearing age. Does she have a valid reason to fail to go to Confession? Incidentally, although she does not attend Mass every week, she receives Communion when she does go. — Name and State Withheld.
A. In our opinion, your wife, even though she is beyond childbearing age, should go to Confession to receive forgiveness for having practiced contraception years ago. This practice has always been considered a grave sin by the Catholic Church because it prevents the transmission of life and contradicts the life-giving aspect of marriage.
In fact, Pope John Paul II told a group of priests on September 17, 1983, that “contraception is to be judged objectively so profoundly unlawful as never to be, for any reason, justified. To think the contrary is equal to maintaining that, in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God.”
Perhaps if your wife can come to an understanding of how serious an evil contraception is, she might acquire a sense of contrition and then seek God’s forgiveness. We would suggest that she read Pope Paul VI’s landmark encyclical on human life (Humanae Vitae), which was issued in 1968 but which remains just as pertinent today. The Holy Father’s beautiful portrayal of married life and love might give your wife a different perspective on this matter.
We would be remiss, however, if we did not point out that she should also go to Confession for not attending Mass every week, presuming she does not have a valid reason, such as illness. Catholics who deliberately miss Mass on Sunday “commit a grave sin” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2181), and those who receive the Holy Eucharist while in a state of sin commit the additional sin of sacrilege (CCC, n. 2120).
Encourage your wife to talk to a holy and compassionate priest to sort all this out.

Q. A friend of mine said that the recent Vatican statement on Medjugorje did not really discourage belief in the reported Marian apparitions there, but just told Catholics to wait for the official Vatican pronouncement by a commission set up in 2010. Wasn’t the statement stronger than that? — M.H.D., New York.
A. Yes, it was, although some accounts watered down the contents of the letter sent on October 21st by Apostolic Nuncio Carlo Viganò to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In his letter, Archbishop Viganò said that the Church’s official position on Medjugorje remains the 1991 declaration of 19 bishops of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, who said that “on the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations” in Medjugorje.
The nuncio said that “it follows, therefore, that clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences, or public celebrations during which the credibility of such ‘apparitions’ would be taken for granted.” Some accounts of the Vatican statement left out this rather important sentence.
The purpose of his letter, said Viganò, was to inform the American bishops that “one of the so-called visionaries of Medjugorje, Mr. Ivan Dragicevic, is scheduled to appear at certain parishes around the country, during which time he will make presentations regarding the phenomenon of Medjugorje. It is anticipated, moreover, that Mr. Dragicevic will be receiving ‘apparitions’ during these scheduled appearances. . . . In order, therefore, to avoid scandal and confusion, Archbishop [Gerhard] Müller [of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] asks that the Bishops be informed of this matter as soon as possible.”
Following release of the letter, it was reported that Ivan Dragicevic had canceled some public appearances in the United States.

Q. In your column a few months ago, you mentioned the 1973 Akita apparitions in Japan. I would like to clarify once and for all that the apparitions of Akita have full approval of the Catholic Church. In April 1984, the Most Rev. John Shojiro Ito, bishop of Niigata, Japan, and the local ordinary of the diocese, after years of extensive investigation, declared the events of Akita to be of supernatural origin and authorized throughout the entire diocese the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita. Then, in June of 1988, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave definitive judgment on the Akita events and messages as reliable and worthy of belief. — F.S., State Unknown.
A. The history of the reported Akita apparitions is ambiguous. First of all, Bishop Ito said in 1984 that “I recognize the supernatural character of a series of mysterious events concerning the statue of the Holy Mother Mary, which is found in the convent” at Akita. He said that “I do not find in these events any elements which are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. Consequently, I authorize, throughout the entire diocese, the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita, while awaiting that the Holy See publishes definitive judgment on this matter.”
He went on to say that “even if the Holy See later publishes a favorable judgment with regard to the events of Akita, it is a question only of a private divine revelation. Christians are bound to believe only the content of public divine revelation (closed after the death of the last Apostle), which contains all that is necessary for salvation. Nevertheless, the Church, until now, has equally made much of private divine revelations as they fortify the faith.”
But in 1993, his successor, Bishop Franciscus Sato, quoted Bishop Ito as having said that “it is not possible to make a negative statement that there is no supernaturality” in Akita. This is not as strong as the judgment attributed to Bishop Ito. Bishop Sato also said that he believed “time will clarify whether this is a work of God or of human beings. In [the] future, it is my intention to neither especially encourage veneration and pilgrimages to the aforesaid statue of Our Lady, nor to forbid them.”
Three years earlier, there was an article in the July-August 1990 issue of 30 Days magazine in which the president of the Japanese Bishops Conference, Most Rev. Peter Selichi Shirayanagi, was quoted as saying that “the events of Akita are no longer to be taken seriously. We think they do not now have a great significance for the Church and Japanese society.”
Second, there is no evidence that Cardinal Ratzinger in 1988 declared the Akita events to be reliable and worthy of belief. Apparently, he did meet in 1988 with Bishop Ito, who gave the cardinal a dossier on Akita, but Ratzinger did not issue any judgment on the reliability of the Akita messages.
The situation was further clarified in 1999, according to Donal Foley, an authority on Marian apparitions, in a statement from Bishop Ambrose de Paoli, the apostolic nuncio in Tokyo. Responding to a question from the editor of a British Catholic magazine, the nuncio said: “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [headed by Cardinal Ratzinger] has asked me to respond to your query re Akita. . . . The Holy See has never given any kind of approval to either the events or messages of Akita.”
In light of these conflicting statements, we do not think one can say that the reported Akita apparitions have the full approval of the Catholic Church.

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TOP CATHOLIC BISHOPS AIDE ON EXECUTIVE AMNESTY: OBAMA’S ‘LAST CHANCE TO MAKE GOOD ON PROMISE’

In a statement last Friday in the New York Times, the top aide on immigration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said that executive amnesty is President Barack Obama’s “last chance to make good on his promise…Continue Reading

Catholics Want To Learn More About Their Faith, Bishops Report

BALTIMORE – For three and a half years, members of several U.S. bishops’ committees have been trying to pinpoint what Catholics in the pew are thinking and why they accept or reject church teachings. To this end, they have conducted…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal: Catholic charity ‘is not only giving food … but giving God’

The Vatican cardinal who oversees the Church’s charitable initiatives has emphasized again that Catholic charities cannot be satisfied with meeting the material needs of those they serve. “Charity is very linked with the proclamation of the Gospel, and doing charity…Continue Reading

Prof at Catholic university tries to justify same-sex ‘marriage’ acceptance from Scripture

Professor Gerald Schlabach of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota recently published a piece for The Christian Century utilizing the writing of St. Paul to create an argument legitimizing acceptance of same-sex marriage. In light of Schlabach’s article, The Cardinal Newman Society…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Group: “We Will Not Obey the Obamacare HHS Mandate, Not Today, Not Ever”

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Court Says Obama Admin Can Force Pro-Life Group to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Where Are Our Young People Going?

During the 10:30 Mass in my parish a couple of Sundays ago 32 boys and girls stood in front of the altar, faced the congregation, and formally affirmed their desire to be confirmed. It was part of the preparation for…Continue Reading

US Bishops Elect New Secretary, Discuss Health Care Ethics Guide

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2014 / 08:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Tuesday on several committee leadership positions, also considering several liturgical proposals and moving forward with a New York canonization cause. At their fall…Continue Reading

Fidelity to Bishop of Rome crucial to evangelization, US bishops say

Baltimore, Md., Nov 10, 2014 / 12:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to Pope Francis on Monday, the U.S. bishops vowed fidelity to the Holy See and voiced hope that Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting of Families…Continue Reading

Nation’s Catholic bishops gather in Baltimore Monday

Nearly 300 bishops from across the nation will determine the coming year’s agenda for the American Roman Catholic church when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops begins its annual fall meeting Monday in Baltimore. The bishops will spend four days…Continue Reading

Pope names new ‘foreign minister,’ prefect of Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Burke given new position

The Holy See Press Office announced on November 8 that Pope Francis has named Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, as the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Mamberti replaces Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has served…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Church Risks Serious Tensions in Months Ahead

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said he is at the service of Pope Francis, has no personal animosity towards him, and those who claim the American cardinal is an opponent of the Pontiff are trying to discredit him. The head of…Continue Reading

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Pope: All Christians Called To Be Missionaries, ‘Not Just The Few’

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(Vatican Radio) All Christians and “not just the few” are called to intensify their missionary spirit and go out to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, said Pope Francis.He issued the call on Saturday in speaking at the Vatican to a group of more than 700 participants in Italy’s National Missionary Congress, which was organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Pays Tribute To Blessed Paul VI’s Devotion To Mary

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis paid tribute on Thursday to Blessed Pope Paul the 6th and his great love for the Mother of God, saying he always turned to Mary at crucial and difficult moments for the Church and humanity. The Pope’s words came during a message which was read on his behalf by the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Jesus Weeps

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(Vatican Radio) Jesus weeps today when the doors of our hearts, those of the pastors of the Church, are closed to His surprises not recognizing the One who brings peace said Pope Francis at Mass Friday morning in Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the Gospel of the Day, Pope Francis said Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because its people did not…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Universal Call To Holiness

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The Synod And The New Evangelization

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Detailed Studies Of Galileo

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Finocchiaro, Maurice. The Trial of Galileo: Essential Documents, translated and edited by Maurice A. Finocchiaro. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co., 2014. Pp. xii+160. This book draws upon Finocchiaro’s previously published works, The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History (1989) and Retrying Galileo: 1633-1992 (2005), at once making those masterful works more readily accessible,…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . The Apparitions At L’Ile Bouchard

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Applying Just War Theory

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A Parody From Hell

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Reading And Interpreting Scripture

By DON FIER We ended last week’s installment by launching into a discussion on a question of critical importance: “How is Sacred Scripture to be read and interpreted?” The significance and the relevance of this question become apparent if one examines findings outlined in the 2012 “Status of Global Mission” report, a publication of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. We recently celebrated the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Why does the Church celebrate a church building in Rome? — P.R., Massachusetts. A. Because the Basilica of St. John Lateran is the oldest church in Christendom and is the church of the Pope, not St. Peter’s Basilica. The Lateran Basilica was built in the fourth century…Continue Reading

Be Watchful And Alert

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Advent (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7 1 Cor. 1:3-9 Mark 13:33-17 In the first reading today we hear of the conflict that has tormented humanity from the very beginning. The problem is that we blame God for everything. Isaiah cries out to God in a lament, “Why do you let us…Continue Reading

In The Footsteps Of St. Paul… Bishop Conley’s Pilgrimage Teaches About Evangelizing Culture

(Editor’s Note: Below is the latest column by Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., for the Southern Nebraska Register. Bishop Conley, in conjunction with Spirit Catholic Radio and others, went on an October 31 to November 9 St. Paul Mediterranean Pilgrimage Cruise. (ZENIT News Agency provided the text. All rights reserved.) + + + The ancient Christian writer and theologian…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Social Kingship Of Christ And Religious Freedom

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.” The first reading…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes… St. Cecilia

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Catholic Heroes . . . St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

By CAROLE BRESLIN Since the United States is a relatively new country compared to the rest of the world, we do not have as many canonized saints as do France, Italy, or Spain. Elizabeth Ann Seton (died 1821) was the first person born in the United States to be canonized, although she lived many years after Kateri Tekakwitha (died 1680)…Continue Reading

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