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December 7, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. For the benefit of those who do not have a computer or library access, could you please give us a list of the Doctors of the Church? I have a book entitled 33 Doctors of the Church, but I think some have been added since that book was published. — B.W., Florida.
A. Doctor of the Church is a title given to certain saints whose writing or preaching has been invaluable in explaining and defending the doctrine of the Church. Thirty-six men and women have been so acclaimed, Pope Boniface VIII was the first to confer this title in 1205, and the first four saints to be called Doctors of the Church were Ambrose (340-397), Augustine (354-430), Pope Gregory the Great (540-604), and Jerome (343-420). The last three to receive the honor were St. John of Avila (1500-1569) and St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), both by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, and St. Gregory of Narek (951-1003) by Pope Francis in 2015. The other 29, in alphabetical order, are:
St. Albert the Great (1200-1280), St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231), St. Athanasius (297-373), St. Basil the Great (329-379), St. Bede (673-735), St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), St. Bonaventure (1217-1274), St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), St. Cyril of Alexandria (374-444), St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-387), St. Ephrem the Syrian (306-373), St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), St. Gregory Nazianzen (330-390), St. Hilary of Poitiers (315-368), St. Isidore of Seville (560-636), St. John Chrysostom (347-407), St. John Damascene (675-749), St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619), Pope St. Leo the Great (400-461), St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597), St. Peter Chrysologus (400-450), St. Peter Damian (1007-1072), St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), and St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).

Q. Concerning your recent reply about it being the conscience of the voter that excuses or refuses voting for a pro-abortion politician, you could sail a modern-day aircraft carrier through that loophole. I believe the Church lost this issue decades ago. It seems to me that the Church hierarchy back in 1973 should have publicly declared the position of the Church on abortion. For example, those who perform elective abortions, and public officials who publicly support abortion, could not present themselves for Holy Communion.
Of course, I understand that doing so would have created at that time a monumental confrontation. But at that time the Church enjoyed a certain respect and influence in the public square and, perhaps if the Church had done that, we as a nation would not have lost the lives of 60 million (and counting) unborn infants to abortion. — D.M., via e-mail.
A. First of all, in the previous reply we quoted Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as having 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.” He added, however, that “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.”
There is a loophole there, but only for Catholics who don’t care what the Church teaches on abortion, and God will sort that out on Judgment Day.
Second, the hierarchy did proclaim the Church’s teaching on abortion at that time. For example, four cardinals testified about the evil of abortion before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments on March 7, 1974. The cardinals were John Krol of Philadelphia, Humberto Medeiros of Boston, John Cody of Chicago, and Timothy Manning of Los Angeles.
Speaking in favor of a constitutional amendment to protect the lives of the unborn, Cardinal Krol, president at that time of the U.S. Catholic Conference, urged the committee to act quickly because “it has been estimated that there is one abortion every 20 seconds in the United States — three every minute. Every week, since the Supreme Court’s decisions of January 22, 1973, there have been as many deaths from abortion as there were deaths at Nagasaki as a result of the atomic bomb. Every nine days there are as many deaths from abortion as there were American deaths in the 10 years of the Vietnam War.”
Krol described in detail the nature of the child in the womb from the moment of conception and said that “the legalization of abortion is a tragic error which cries out for correction. The only avenue of correction is a constitutional amendment to protect the unborn.” He said that the Church has the same right as anyone else to speak out on public policy, and “we do not have to check our consciences at the door before we argue for what we think is best for society.”
And he said that legislators who vote on this matter “are free to act according to their own best judgment. We dare not forget, however, that to separate political judgment from moral judgment leads to disorder and disaster.”
The Church did enjoy greater respect and influence in the public square then than it does now, and perhaps the cardinals could have used the kind of language that Cardinal Ratzinger would use nearly 30 years later, but there really wasn’t much of a confrontation in 1974 since most of the Catholic hierarchy did nothing to provoke a confrontation with the culture.
Catholic politicians continued to support such evils as abortion and euthanasia and, with the exception of a few courageous bishops, they were neither chastised for their actions nor denied Holy Communion. And the chickens from that weak-kneed policy have come home to roost in 2018.

Q. A friend of mine insists that Catholics and Muslims are not that far apart since both worship the same God. What can I say to that? — M.H., Indiana.
A. You can say that we don’t worship the same God. In his book Forty Anti-Catholic Lies, Gerard Verschuuren explained:
“Christianity and Islam . . . may both refer to the same God in Heaven, but the way they talk about this common reference is very different. Yes, they both talk about ‘love of God and neighbor,’ but for Muslims this extends only to other Muslims. The Muslim God commands Muslims to kill or subjugate Jews and Christians, unless they accept the God of Islam. But most of all, the Christian God is a ‘triune’ God — not three Gods, but one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That’s certainly not so in Islam.
“So we should ask the question, as is done in the title of a recent book: Is the Father of Jesus the God of Mohammed? Or are they essentially different instead? Even the Qur’an itself suggests that the God of the Qur’an is radically different from the God Christians worship. The Qur’an specifically tells us that Christ was not divine, was not crucified, and that believing in the Trinity is polytheism. To affirm these teachings constitutes blasphemy for Muslims. Their religion, in short, cannot be ‘just like ours’” (pp. 157-158).
Verschuuren then quoted this observation from Roy Schoeman, a convert from Judaism to Catholicism, in his book Salvation Is From the Jews:
“Of all the major religions of the world, only Islam arose after God’s full revelation of Himself to man in His incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, all of the other major religions are either fully true (Christianity); fully true up to the time of their origin, but lacking the later revelation (Judaism); or based on the incomplete revelations available to mankind before God chose to make Himself truly known. Only Islam’s revelation came after Christ, aware of Christianity yet contradicting it. . . . If of supernatural origin, did it come from God or from fallen spirits? It is difficult for a Christian to consider the source of the revelation to be of God, given its contradictions with Christian revelation” (pp. 158-159).

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

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