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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 says church under Pope Francis is a ‘rudderless ship’

VATICAN CITY (RNS) American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the feisty former archbishop of St. Louis who has emerged as the face of the opposition to Pope Francis’ reformist agenda, likened the Roman Catholic Church to “a ship without a rudder” in a…Continue Reading

Angola: Catholic Priest Refutes Criticism of Church Practices

Lubango — The Southern Huila province?s Lubango city emeritus archbishop, Zacarias Kamwenho, rejected as false the claim that Catholic Christians worship images. Speaking on Sunday in the Muxima Diocese, in Lubango, the archbishop explained that Catholic Christians worship God instead,…Continue Reading

Ave Maria School of Law Wins Its HHS Mandate Case in Federal Court

The Obama Administration has suffered another defeat in its quest to force Catholics and people of faith to pay for abortion-causing drugs, as required by the HHS Mandate. Today the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida came down…Continue Reading

Catholic Educators Appeal to Obama Administration for Relief from HHS Mandate

Today a coalition including The Cardinal Newman Society, leaders of Catholic schools and colleges, and the expert attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom told the Obama administration that its latest rule mandating insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing…Continue Reading

Toronto schools hosting ‘LGBTQ’ conference for students as young as 11

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is hosting three student conferences within the span of eight days for the purpose of LGBTQ activism.  The conferences, which have been organized in collaboration with Jer’s Vision, will take place on October 28,…Continue Reading

The Synod and the Media: Culpable Naïveté or Shrewd Calculation?

Upon becoming director of media relations for the American bishops in late 1969, I quickly made a crucial discovery about my new employers. With just a handful of exceptions, the bishops were painfully naïve about the news business, yet convinced…Continue Reading

Chaldean Catholic patriarch suspends 10 priests, including 1 from El Cajon

SAN DIEGO – The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday…Continue Reading

Retired Pope Says Interreligious Dialogue No Substitute For Mission

VATICAN CITY – Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” He also said the true motivation…Continue Reading

California Forces Churches to Directly Fund Abortions, Churches Refuse to Comply

To the dismay of California’s people of faith, the California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical…Continue Reading

Relax. God’s Still In Charge.

It’s an enormous challenge to maintain pristine doctrinal purity while at the same time respond to the experiential, personal, and difficult needs of married couples and families. Behind every arcane discussion of gradualism and natural law there are parents and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” Is “A Significant Improvement Over The Text Of The ‘Relatio Post Disceptationem'”

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has…Continue Reading

Synod Final Document Reaffirms Church Teaching

The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote. The three paragraphs, which in the past would…Continue Reading

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Today . . .

Pope At Mass: Christian Life Is A Continuous Battle Against The Devil

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis described Christian life as a continuous battle being waged against Satan, the world and the passions of the flesh. His comments came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Thursday morning at the Santa Marta residence. He stressed that the devil exists and we must fight against him with the armour of truth. Pope Francis’s reflections…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Writes Personal Ordinariate Of Our Lady Of Walsingham

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(Vatican Radio) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has sent a message to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established for former Anglicans in England in 2011.  The message was on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which was released on November 4th 2009. The Pope Emeritus was responding to a letter he received…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Church Visible And Spiritual

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(Vatican Radio)  “Often, we hear people say: the Church doesn’t do this …the Church doesn’t do that!’ ‘Tell me who is the Church? – ‘Well the Church is the priests, the bishops, the Pope …’ We are all the Church! All of us all of us Baptized! We are the Church, the Church of Jesus’”. This was the message at…Continue Reading

Pope At Angelus: Love Of God And Neighbour Are Inseparable

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on Sunday. In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father offered some reflections on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from Gospel…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Does Contraception Lead To Abortion?”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have seen that contraception fails frequently and so often leads to abortion.…Continue Reading

Pass-Fail Grading: For The Professors’ Benefit?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK S.M. writes to offer some observations about the proposal to introduce a “pass-fail” grading system for freshmen at Princeton University. The possibility of doing that was discussed in the October 9 edition of First Teachers. He sees the idea as a “form of grade inflation that is solely intended to accomplish…Continue Reading

Contemporary Culture Encapsulated In A Single Sentence

By DONALD DeMARCO It is remarkable how much a single sentence can reveal about the temper of a culture, even when its author is trying to be withholding. Jacalyn Duffin, a historian and practicing hematologist, is the author of History of Medicine (University of Toronto Press, 2000). It is a 243-page tome that was produced…Continue Reading

Synod Document Of October 13, 2014

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

Elite Judges Think The Highest Judge Never Will End Their Misrule

By DEXTER DUGGAN Today people worry about globe-trotting terrorists, the transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, and the way contagions can cross borders when the government insists borders must be open for everyone’s alleged benefit. Meanwhile, unaccountable U.S. judges continue their contagion of immorality, as if God’s judgment never will come, maybe in little germs,…Continue Reading

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding our recent column on advanced medical directives and particularly the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), A.M.V. of Florida writes to say that the American Life League provides individuals with a document called the “Loving Will,” which corresponds to Catholic teaching. She said that this document was “crucial with my mom’s situation” when she was admitted…Continue Reading

Temples Of The Holy Spirit

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Dedication Of St. John Lateran In Rome Readings: Ezek. 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 1 Cor. 3:9c-11, 16-17 John 2:13-22 Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of a church building that many people have never heard of and also have no idea of its significance. In Rome, there are four major basilicas; the…Continue Reading

Message Of The Extraordinary Synod Of Bishops . . . We Ask You To Walk With Us Toward The Next Synod

(Editor’s Note: Below is the text of the concluding message of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, held October 5-19. This message was released on October 18. (See Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column in this issue, p. 2B, and the front page for reporting and commentary on the separate final document of the Extraordinary Synod.) + + +…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Redefining Marriage: Not About The Kids And The Picket Fence

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Following the Extraordinary Synod and the rollback on confusing language about same-sex attraction and the divorced and remarried in the final version of the Relatio Synodi document, the predictable reactions are coming in. Those who continue to hold Church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman are labeled as “bigots,” while…Continue Reading

Debunking The Sola Scriptura Myth… True Tradition And False “Tradition”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 A classical objection: What Catholics call the “Apostolic Tradition” is just a human tradition, which Jesus clearly condemned in the Gospel, when He said to the Pharisees, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?…So, for the sake of your tradition you have made void the…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Wolfgang

By CAROLE BRESLIN October 31 has come to be yet another Christian holy day corrupted by our secular society. All Hallows Eve, Halloween, is now celebrated with emphasis on evil and horror. Corn mazes with frightening objects around the corner, haunted houses to terrify even the bravest of persons, glorification of vampires, and decorations of death and witches — these…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Mary Claret

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anthony Mary Claret has something in common with at least three other saints. Like St. Peter Claver, he was born in northeastern Spain — over 200 years later. Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, when he heard Confessions, he frequently could read the souls of the penitents, asking them about a sin that they had not confessed.…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