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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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Cardinal: No pro-life victory without reaching the marginalized

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For the pro-life movement to truly succeed, it must fight not only abortion, but also the broader “throwaway culture” wherever life is being discarded, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston…Continue Reading

70 Churches Destroyed in ‘Anti-Charlie Hebdo’ Protests

The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of 10 people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes. The protest,…Continue Reading

ITALY: Muslims smash, urinate on statue of Mary

A man was kneeling in prayer before the statue of the revered Madonna, with the photograph of a loved one in hand, in the small chapel of St. Barnabas in Perugia (Italy), when he was attacked by five “immigrants.” The…Continue Reading

At new in-flight press conference Francis says good Catholics are not required ‘to be like rabbits’

Catholics fail to practise “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children, Pope Francis has said during an in-flight press conference on the way home from Manila. He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to…Continue Reading

CRUX’s “spirituality columnist” is “devastated” the Pope upholds Catholic teaching

Margery Eagan appears to be angling for a job as editor of National “Catholic” Reporter. Or perhaps spokesman for the LCWR: The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated. Goodness. Even…Continue Reading

St. Paul-Mpls. archdiocese declares bankruptcy in response to abuse lawsuits

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, saying it cannot meet its financial obligations from an unprecedented wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese…Continue Reading

Pope Francis strongly defends church teaching against contraception

Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia’s largest Catholic nation to urge families to be “sanctuaries of respect for life.” Francis also denounced the corruption that has plagued…Continue Reading

Bella Dodd, who rejected Communism in favour of faith, is a lesson for young jihadis

Her story shows how easily the best human impulses can be twisted to evil Having blogged last week about John Beaumont’s book, The Mississippi Flows Into The Tiber, with all the extraordinary, uplifting and grace-filled stories of conversion that it…Continue Reading

Fox News’ Bret Baier, actor Gary Sinise cancel on Catholic group after gay gripes

FOX News Channel’s chief political anchor, Bret Baier, has shown himself to have a thinner skin than might be guessed from his on-air persona.  Baier has caved in to pressure from the homosexual activist group ‘Good as You’ to back…Continue Reading

Federal judge strikes down South Dakota’s gay marriage ban

SIOUX FALLS – A federal judge has declared South Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but has stayed the decision pending appeal. U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier on Monday issued a summary judgment in favor of the six couples who filed…Continue Reading

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke on the Catholic “Man-crisis” and what to do about it

Recently, I had the great honor to have an audience with His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke to discuss the state of Catholic men in the United States. Here is the full transcript: Matthew James Christoff of the New Emangelization Project:…Continue Reading

Catholic laypeople must have maturity to speak up about bad things happening at highest levels in Church

This morning (Dec. 28), I spoke during Mass in the parish church of St Theresa of the Child Jesus, in north west London, about the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome last October. Interestingly, my talk was very well…Continue Reading

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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 Angelus: Jesus Wanted United Christians

(Vatican Radio) On Sunday and before the Angelus, the Pope recalled the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and its theme, “Give me a drink”, the sentence uttered by Jesus to the Samaritan woman. He told the faithful gathered that the “desire for unity” of the disciples of Jesus is part of our “thirst not only material for water, but…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Religious who pray for Christian unity an “invisible monastery”

(Vatican Radio) The vital role that men and women religious of different Christian Churches play in the ecumenical journey was at the heart of Pope Francis’s meeting on Saturday with participants in a conference on consecrated life and the search for Christian Unity. The three day meeting, which concludes on Sunday, comes in the context of both this Week of…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Thursday Mass in Santa Marta

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(Vatican Radio) The most important thing is not the grace of a physical healing, but the fact that Jesus saves us and intercedes for us: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at Mass on Thursday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. Commenting on the Gospel of…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Blesses The Lambs On The Feast Of St. Agnes

lambs

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked the Feast of St. Agnes with a centuries-old rite: the blessing of the lambs, from whose wool the Pallium will be made. As per tradition, the small lambs, traditionally less than a year old, were carried to the Casa Santa Marta, where the Pope blessed them in the atrium, in baskets. Come summer these same…Continue Reading

“I Can’t Breathe”… The Plight Of The Preborn

By REY FLORES (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from www.all.org, the website of American Life League. All rights reserved.) + + + This past year has seen race relations decline as a result of a well-orchestrated attempt by a corrupt government that wants to divide us at all costs. And the propaganda peddlers known…Continue Reading

“Flee Immorality,” Church Unity, & Right To Life March

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 January 18 blog…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Christianity’s Gift To The World

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Siedentop, Larry. Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2014. Pp. viii + 434. Does it still make sense to still talk about the West in what some call a “post-Christian world”? Larry Siedentop, emeritus fellow of Keble College, Oxford, asks, “Can the West still be…Continue Reading

Author And Monk Thomas Merton Turns 100

By RAY CAVANAUGH The most famous Trappist monk of the 20th century was not originally a Catholic. Thomas Merton, born 100 years ago this January 31, was baptized first in the Church of England. Both of his parents were artists: His father was from New Zealand and his mother was from the U.S. Merton was…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Abortifacient Brief: Abortion Pill Reversals”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of this article with footnotes, contact him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + The scientific name of the abortion pill RU 486 is mifepristone, which is sold under the brand names Mifegyn,…Continue Reading

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . The Faith Of The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned alive, racked, beheaded. Others were crucified, flayed alive,…Continue Reading

I Believe — We Believe

By DON FIER Over the past three weeks of this series on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), we have been reflectively examining the characteristics of the indescribably wonderful gift of faith that Almighty God has so generously availed mankind. As so adeptly summarized in the Compendium of the CCC, we know that faith is “the supernatural virtue which…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I remember a nun telling us back in Catholic school that after God ejected Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, He promised that He would eventually send them a Messiah. Where is that in the Bible? — M.R., Indiana. A. In chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis. Actually, the promise was made before God expelled our…Continue Reading

Joy And Fulfillment

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Deut. 18:15-20 1 Cor. 7:32-35 Mark 1:21-28 In the first reading today God makes a promise and a command. He promises that He will raise up for the people a Prophet like Moses. At the same time, He requires that the people will listen to that Prophet because…Continue Reading

Cardinal Ranjith’s Address To Pope . . . We Need Your Prayers, As Well As Your Guidance

(Editor’s Note: Here is the text of a speech given the morning of January 14 by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, in gratitude to the Holy Father. He addressed these words at the end of the Mass of Canonization of St. Joseph Vaz that Pope Francis celebrated. He was interrupted by applause several times. See page 1 of this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds our finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Stephen, Protomartyr

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the popular Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, a different gift is given for each of the twelve days of Christmas. This celebration of twelve days begins with December 26, the Feast of St. Stephen, and ends with the Epiphany, traditionally celebrated on January 6. The Catholic Church celebrates the Christmas octave, eight days of…Continue Reading