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November 9, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. Now that Sr. Lucia’s Fatima letter has been opened, has anyone asked for a copy of the letter so that all can read it? — T.T., Iowa.
A. A copy of the letter can be found in chapter 8 of Fr. Andrew Apostoli’s book Fatima for Today and on pages 137-138 of Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone’s book The Last Secret of Fatima. You should also read the theological commentary on the letter by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is found in both books.

Q. When Pope Francis addressed the U.S. Congress on September 24, 2015, he cited the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and then applied the principle to poverty, the environment, migration, and the defense of human life. Pro-lifers were taken aback when he failed to mention abortion, but instead mentioned only the death penalty as a pro-life issue. Given what we know about Theodore McCarrick’s hijacking of Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter on the excommunication of pro-abortion politicians in 2004, is it possible that McCarrick is also responsible for ghost-writing Pope Francis’ speech to Congress? — R.G., Ohio.
A. First of all, we have no way of knowing whether McCarrick had anything to do with the speech of Pope Francis to Congress in 2015.
Second, while the Holy Father has been ambiguous in some of his remarks over the past five years, he has been pretty strong in his condemnation of abortion. For example, at a weekly general audience last month (October 10), Francis compared abortionists to a “hit man” hired to commit murder. He rejected the notion of suppressing “human life in the maternal womb in the name of safeguarding other rights” and asked:
“How can an act that suppresses innocent and defenseless budding human life be therapeutic, civil, or simply human? I ask you, is it right to do away with a human being, albeit small, to solve a problem? It is like hiring a hit man to solve a problem.”
Third, Cardinal Ratzinger mentioned excommunication in the 2004 letter only in connection with the right of a minister of Communion to refuse the Eucharist to those persons who are publicly known to be involved “in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. canon 815).”
He said that “regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”
He said that if such a politician still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it. . . . This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”

Q. How in the world can a practicing Catholic vote or otherwise support a political party that promotes killing unborn babies, same-sex “marriage” (sodomy), or mercy killing, etc.? That party is the Democratic Party. In my opinion, any vote or support of this party puts a person in a state of mortal sin. Your thoughts, please. — R.B.K., Virginia.
A. In the Ratzinger letter mentioned in the previous question, the cardinal said that “a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”
Formal cooperation in evil is a mortal sin, but applies only to those who “deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia.” We know practicing Catholics who would never vote for anyone but a Democrat because they have always voted for Democrats, and a politician’s stance on the great moral issues of the day is not really a concern to them as long as the politician supports immigration, climate change, taxing the rich, a higher minimum wage, etc. — and he is not a Republican.
By the way, Democrats don’t have a monopoly on supporting the evils of abortion, euthanasia, and sodomy; there are Republicans who are just as guilty, although their party platform at least condemns these evils, while the Democrat platform loudly champions all of them.
If all practicing Catholics truly supported the teachings of their Church on abortion, euthanasia, and sodomy, those evils would never have attained the popularity they enjoy today. But too many Catholics, including priests and bishops and cardinals, have succumbed to the siren song of secularism and have watered down their beliefs in order to get along in today’s corrupt culture or, in the case of the bishops, to keep the government money flowing to their allegedly Catholic charities.
Furthermore, as we have learned to our dismay in recent months, some Church leaders are too busy engaging in mortal sin themselves to take a public stand against it.
The answer to this seemingly overwhelming immoral tsunami is more fervent prayer and fasting. “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,” St. Paul said in his Letter to the Romans (5:20). As discouraging as the present situation seems, God is still in charge and, as we know, “nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).

Q. Funerals are being planned for a couple in their mid-80s. Do you have any suggestions for proper and appropriate religious songs for the entrance song and the dismissal song? — E.C., via e-mail.
A. The couple’s parish priest should have a handout of appropriate songs, and readings, for the funeral Mass. The handout in our parish offers 44 possible hymns, with family members advised to choose four of them. The hymns include Amazing Grace, Ave Maria, Here I Am, Lord, O Lord I Am Not Worthy, Be Not Afraid, How Great Thou Art, Prayer of St. Francis, You Are Near, Hail Mary, Gentle Woman, Faith of Our Fathers, Precious Lord, Take My Hand, and Panis Angelicus.
There are nine suggested readings from the Old Testament, five Psalm responses, and 16 readings from the New Testament, excluding the Gospel readings, which are chosen by the celebrant of the Mass.

Q. In his Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, says that clerical immunity “exempts clerics from the jurisdiction of civil courts even in lay matters where the courts’ competence is not in question. Clerics are to be tried by ecclesiastical courts unless otherwise provided for in particular places. Equivalently this means that no cleric may be summoned before a lay judge as a defendant. Only by permission of a bishop may clerics testify in criminal cases when prosecuting for a grave personal injury, but they may be cited as witnesses or act as representatives of lay persons involved.”
My question is, do clerics in the United States have this kind of immunity? — E.G., Florida.
A. In view of the fact that some Catholic clerics in recent years have been found guilty in civil courts of sexual abuse and have been sentenced to prison terms, we would say that clerics in this country no longer have immunity against being tried in civil courts. For example, Fr. John Geoghan of Boston was convicted as a serial child abuser in 2002 and sentenced to ten years in prison. He was murdered by a fellow inmate in 2003.

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Catholic Replies

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