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January 4, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: In a recent column in the weekly bulletin of the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George Rutler first gave the bad news about the precipitous decline of women religious from 181,421 in 1965 to about 47,000 today, about 80 percent of them over 70 years of age.
He blamed the decline on abandonment of “conventual life and even those religious habits. It was an abuse of the [Second Vatican] Council’s modest prescriptions for updating the consecrated life and, in fact, it often fostered dissent from the Faith itself.”
Fr. Rutler then gave the good news that there is “a dramatic upsurge in Orders that live the traditional counsels, teaching, caring for the poor and sick, and not wasting time in ‘workshops’ on climate change and nuclear weapons.”
He said that “some of these new communities are growing dramatically: the Dominican Sisters of the Sacred Heart, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, and our own New York-based Sisters of Life (who share our parish’s hospitality), and others. The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, whose motherhouse is in Michigan, have grown in just twenty years to more than 140 sisters with an average age of 32. They teach in preschool through college throughout the United States and this coming year will open another large convent in Texas for 115 sisters.”
Furthermore, the pastor noted, “a choir of these sisters in their traditional habits was invited to sing at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington. This is a big change from just a few years ago when an earlier Administration threatened to sue the venerable Little Sisters of the Poor for maintaining Catholic moral principles.”

Q. During the sermon at Mass, the priest said that when Jesus comes to Earth at the end of time all unforgiven sins will be disclosed, but that forgiven sins will be forgotten. That sounds like forgiven sins will not be disclosed when Jesus comes at the end. Is this true? — S.J.S., Missouri.
A. Yes, and here are some Bible passages to confirm this: Jer. 31:34 — “All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25 — “It is I, I, who wipe out, / for my own sake, your offenses; / your sins I remember no more.” Heb. 8:12 — “For I will forgive their evildoing / and remember their sins no more.”
But isn’t God all-knowing? How could He forget forgiven sins that have been disclosed? Yes, God knows everything and forgets nothing, but He can choose not to remember something, not to hold against us something that was forgiven in this life. This is surely what your priest had in mind.

Q. I have read that Pope Francis has said that there is no Hell. Is the report accurate? — C.G.D., Paraguay.
A. No, it is not accurate. The report, which surfaced again recently, is based on an interview in 2015 with Eugenio Scalfari, a 93-year-old atheist who never takes notes during an interview, but who later “reconstructs” what the person said. “I try to understand the person I am interviewing,” Scalfari told a group of fellow journalists in 2013, “and after that I write his answers with my own words.” It is possible, he said, that “some of the Pope’s words I reported were not shared by Pope Francis.”
Regarding the controversial statements, Scalfari, who has interviewed Pope Francis five different times, said that he remembered the Pope saying that there is no Hell, but “I can also make mistakes.” He quoted the Holy Father as having said that while the souls of repentant sinners “receive the forgiveness of God and go among the line of souls who contemplate Him, the souls of those who are unrepentant, and thus cannot be forgiven, disappear.”
In point of fact, however, Pope Francis has expressed his belief in Hell. For example, in 2014, he said that members of the Mafia would wind up in Hell if they did not reform their lives. In 2015, a girl scout asked him, “If God forgives everyone, why does Hell exist?” The Pontiff referred to a bad angel in Heaven who was envious of God, saying that “he wanted God’s place. And God wanted to forgive him, but he said, ‘I don’t need your forgiveness. I am good enough.’ This is Hell. It is telling God, ‘You take care of yourself because I’ll take care of myself.’ They don’t send you to Hell, you go there because you choose to be there. Hell is wanting to be distant from God because I do not want God’s love. This is Hell.”
In September 2018, Pope Francis asked Catholics all over the world to pray the rosary and to ask “St. Michael the Archangel to protect the Church from the Devil.” He urged recitation of the Prayer to St. Michael, which asks Michael to “cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.”
The Church’s teaching on Hell can be found in paragraph 1033 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from Him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’.”

Q. Is it proper for the priest to ask participants at Holy Mass if they have any petitions to offer during the Prayers of the Faithful? When it happens, the petitions go on and on and get redundant. Being an “old” traditionalist, this drives me nuts. I may be too old-fashioned, but this seems to be an abuse. — J.F., via e-mail.
A. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n. 69) says that “in the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, the people respond in some sense to the Word of God which they have received in faith and, exercising the office of their baptismal Priesthood, offer prayers to God for the salvation of all. It is desirable that there usually be such a form of prayer in Masses celebrated with the people, so that petitions may be offered for holy Church, for those who govern with authority over us, for those weighed down by various needs, for all humanity, and for the salvation of the whole world.”
The succeeding paragraph says that “in any particular celebration, such as a Confirmation, a Marriage, or at a Funeral, the series of intentions may be concerned more closely with the particular occasion.”
There is nothing there about asking the faithful to call out additional petitions, probably for the very reason you mentioned: They tend to go on and on and sometimes can veer off into inappropriate areas, such as political matters. If a person has a particular intention he wishes to have included in the General Intercessions, he should speak to the priest a few days ahead of time, not just before Mass, and get his approval to have the petition added.

Q. Isn’t evolutionism contrary to the doctrine of original sin? Also, if Adam and Eve were real human beings with immortal souls, and if evolutionism is true, wouldn’t both their sets of parents have to have been non-human beings with mortal souls? — G.P., via e-mail.
A. Speaking to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2014, Pope Francis said that God “created beings, and He let them develop according to the internal laws with which He endowed each one, that they might develop and reach their fullness. He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time in which He assured them of His continual presence, giving life to every reality. And thus creation has been progressing for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until becoming as we know it today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the Creator who gives life to all things.”
He said that “the beginning of the world was not a work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a supreme Principle who creates out of love. The Big-Bang Theory that is proposed today as the origin of the world does not contradict the intervention of a divine Creator but depends on it. Evolution in nature does not conflict with the notion of creation because evolution presupposes the creation of beings who evolve….The scientist must be moved by the conviction that nature, in its evolutionary mechanism, hides its potential, which it leaves for intelligence and freedom to discover and actualize in order to reach the development that is in the Creator’s design.”
Adam and Eve were the first parents of the human race and had no parents of their own.

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Today . . .

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Catholic Replies

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