Thursday 19th September 2019

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May 31, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Regarding a recent reply about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on a colt that had never been ridden, J.E. of Pennsylvania writes to say that in preparing for a presentation about things we usually overlook about Holy Week, “I learned from several reliable sources that by entering Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus was acknowledging His kingship. In those days, a king entered a city on horseback if he were coming in war. The king entered on a donkey if he were coming in peace. Those kings always rode animals on which no one had ever sat.”

Q. After reading the response from the bishop of Cleveland that the people in his diocese must remain standing after the “Lamb of God” and throughout the distribution of Communion, and after reading the rule in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, I am confused. Does this mean in that diocese that one has no option to kneel or to stand after the “Lamb of God”? — J.W., Georgia.
A. Yes, that is what it does mean. The GIRM says that “the faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise” (n. 43). The bishop is the chief liturgical officer in a diocese, and he can determine how the liturgy must be celebrated. Here is how the GIRM puts it:
“For the Diocesan Bishop, the prime steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to his care, is the moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole of liturgical life….The Bishop should therefore be determined that the Priests, the Deacons, and the lay Christian faithful grasp ever more deeply the genuine significance of the rites and liturgical texts, and thereby be led to the active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist. To that end, he should also be vigilant in ensuring that the dignity of these celebrations be enhanced and, in promoting such dignity, the beauty of the sacred place, of the music, and of art should contribute as greatly as possible” (n. 22).

Q. I know that Adam and Eve had at least three children (Cain, Abel, and Seth), but where did their heirs come from? Did they marry other human beings on Earth who did not take their origin from Adam and Eve, or did they marry among themselves? — I.D., Massachusetts.
A. They married among themselves. In order to propagate the human race, God permitted the marriage of brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, for a limited time. He most certainly protected the earliest human beings from the evils usually associated with intermarriage in families and, when these special circumstances were no longer necessary, God forbade such intermarriage.
As for your first question, there is a theological problem with the possibility of marriage to other human beings on Earth who had no connection with our first parents. In his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII said that Catholics could not “embrace the opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on Earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents” (n. 37).
That opinion is known as polygenism, and the Holy Father said that it cannot be reconciled with the Church’s teaching on original sin, “which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual, Adam, and which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.”

Q. Pope Francis has not answered the five questions (known as the Dubia) posed to him by four cardinals, but it seems as if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI did answer at least one of the questions in his recent essay on “The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse.” I have copied a portion of a piece by Elizabeth Mitchell that was published in the May 9 online edition of The Catholic Thing, as well as a portion of Pope Benedict’s essay that addresses the issue of a creative conscience. Perhaps you could include both in your column. — D.M., via e-mail.
A. First, here is what Dubium Five said:
“After Amoris Laetitia (303), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 56, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object.”
In his 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis said of those living in adulterous relationships that “every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience,” but added that “conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response that can be given to God and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while not yet fully the objective ideal” (n. 303).
In an apparent response to that kind of thinking, Pope Benedict said first that “Catholic moral theology suffered a collapse” in the wake of the sexual revolution of the Sixties. He said the problem “was chiefly the hypothesis that morality was to be exclusively determined by the purposes of human action that prevailed. While the old phrase ‘the end justifies the means’ was not confirmed in this crude form, its way of thinking had become definitive. Consequently, there could no longer be anything that constituted an absolute good, any more than anything fundamentally evil; (there could be) only relative value judgments. There no longer was the (absolute) good, but only the relatively better, contingent on the moment and on circumstances.”
The former Holy Father said that “there is a minimum set of morals which is indissolubly linked to the foundational principle of faith and which must be defended if faith is not to be reduced to a theory, but rather to be recognized in its claim to concrete life. All this makes apparent just how fundamentally the authority of the Church in matters of morality is called into question. Those who deny the Church a final teaching competence in this area force her to remain silent precisely where the boundary between truth and lies is at stake.”

Q. I have two questions for you. First, although President Trump is the most pro-life and seemingly Christian president our country has ever had, my pastor maintains that Trump has never been baptized. Is that true? Second, there seems to be a lot of talk about clericalism in the Church today. I am confused about what is meant by this term. Can you provide a clear and concise explanation of what Pope Francis means when he uses this word? — A.G., Maryland.
A. First, Donald Trump was baptized and confirmed as a child at the First Presbyterian Church in Queens, N.Y.
Second, the term clericalism usually refers to an attempt on the part of the clergy to exaggerate their power and influence and to portray themselves as morally and intellectually superior to those under them. Pope Francis has blamed the sex-abuse scandal on clericalism and, while there may be some truth to that, for example, in the actions of the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, it’s not the only reason for the scandal.
Another reason can be found in the essay mentioned in the previous reply, where Pope Emeritus Benedict mentioned the moral breakdown in the seminaries, where “homosexual cliques were established,” seminarians were shown pornographic films for the alleged purpose of “making them resistant to behavior contrary to the faith,” and “in not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books were considered unsuitable for the priesthood. My books were hidden away, like bad literature, and only read under the desk.”

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Catechism

Today . . .

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Catholic Replies

Q. There appears to be some speculation that Pope John Paul I was murdered during the Vatican Bank/Mafia scandal in the late Seventies, especially in the actions of Jean-Marie Cardinal Villot, who appeared shortly after the Pope’s death and essentially was responsible for cleaning and removing all possible evidence from the Holy Father’s bedroom. Your input, please. — R.B.K., via…Continue Reading

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