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July 12, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Answering a question in a recent column about the meaning of “Jesuitical,” we said that it can mean “dissembling or equivocating, in the manner associated with Jesuits.” We cited as an example of an attempt to skirt around some clear moral teaching of the Church a 2017 comment by the superior general of the Society of Jesus. When he was asked about the Lord’s statement that a divorced person who marries again commits adultery, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal said that “there would have to be a lot of reflection on what Jesus really said. At that time, no one had a recorder to take down His words. What is known is that the words of Jesus must be contextualized.”
We bring this up again because there is another classic example of being “Jesuitical” in the response of Midwest Jesuit Provincial Fr. Brian Paulson to the authoritative ruling of Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis that Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School can no longer call itself Catholic.
Archbishop Thompson had requested that the school not offer a new contract to a teacher who had entered into a same-sex “marriage” two years ago. The school refused the request, so Thompson invoked canon 803 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that Catholic school teachers “are to be outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life” and that “no school is to bear the name Catholic school without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.”
In his always excellent blog In Light of the Law, canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters demonstrates just how “Jesuitical” a Jesuit can be. He quotes Paulson as expressing “concerns about ‘future interference in the school’s operations and other matters that have historically been the right and privilege of Brebeuf Jesuit officials’ (as if, one supposes, hiring high school teachers who live in open contradiction to Church teaching has long been a right and privilege of Brebeuf Jesuit officials).”
“Most crucially, though,” says Peters, “Paulson regards this matter as essentially turning on the unfortunate fact that ‘at times some people who are associated with our mission make personal moral decisions at variance with Church teaching.’ What balderdash! Everybody associated with the mission of the Church at times makes ‘moral decisions at variance with Church doctrine.’ It’s called sin, and the response to others’ sin is, as Paulson notes, ‘to help them grow in holiness’.”
But, says Peters, “the BJPS matter goes far beyond a ‘personal moral decision at variance with Church doctrine.’ Here the Jesuits are, among other things, defending a teacher’s public act of defiance against fundamental Church teaching on the nature of marriage, an act taken in the face of the entire faith community and especially before its young boys and their families seeking to receive a Catholic education in word and deed. That is not just personal sin, that is classical scandal (CCC, n. 2284), itself always a grave offense against the common good, and an even graver one when it is perpetrated before youth (CCC, n. 2285).”

Q. Can you explain what Jesus meant when He said to His disciples: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:6)? — T.S., via e-mail.
A. “Dogs” and “swine” were contemptuous terms for pagans and Gentiles, and Jesus is applying these epithets to anyone who is hostile to the Gospel. He might even be directing these terms at Christians who challenge His teachings, which are considered to be “holy” and as “pearls.”
Or He might be saying don’t waste your time trying to convert persons who have clearly abandoned the Gospel. Just a few chapters later in Matthew, Jesus explained the course to follow when dealing with such persons. If a sinner refuses to listen to your efforts at correction, or to the efforts of others, or even to the Church herself, He said, “then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector” (Matt. 18:17).
As we can see from the previous question, there are Catholics today who see no need to correct persons engaged in grave sin. Let them teach our children, these weak Catholics say, and not worry about the scandal that sinful lifestyles might give to impressionable young people, who often side with a popular teacher rather than with the first and best Teacher of all, the Lord Himself.

Q. If a bishop removes the right of a Catholic politician who voted for abortion to receive Holy Communion, what about the persons who have voted for years to keep that politician in office? Doesn’t that make these voters accomplices in the sin, and shouldn’t they be told not to come to Communion? — M.A.T., Illinois.
A. Abortion is a grave evil, and any Catholic who favors or promotes abortion, or who votes deliberately for politicians who sustain and expand abortion is guilty, at least objectively, of grave sin and should be told not to come to Holy Communion. Such people are certainly accomplices in the spread of what Vatican II called an “abomination” and should not approach the altar to receive the Eucharist. But don’t expect to hear such a warning from the pulpit on Sunday morning. Many priests are afraid to issue such a warning because some of those in the pews are supporters of abortion and would vigorously complain to the media were anyone to question their pro-abortion stance.
Would abortion have become the scourge it is today if Catholics had been united in opposition to it since 1973? But when a few courageous bishops, like Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., attempt to safeguard the Eucharist from sacrilege by denying Communion to Catholic legislators who blatantly push baby-killing on everyone, the vast majority of their colleagues are silent. They don’t want to risk the opprobrium heaped on those who uphold the teachings of Christ.
These silent shepherds will have much to answer for on Judgment Day.

Q. I would like to ask all priests why they don’t have pro-life petitions during the Prayers of the Faithful at every Mass they celebrate. Some never have pro-life petitions, some occasionally do, and some always have them. I believe that all priests should be in the third category. Why don’t we “pray without ceasing” or recognize that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”? Lord, lead us from a culture of death to a culture of life. — R.C., Massachusetts.
A. The short answer is that some priests don’t see abortion as a serious problem, or they are afraid, as we said in the previous question, of antagonizing the pro-abortion persons in the pews. Or perhaps even pro-life priests just need to be reminded to include a petition that asks God to enlighten the mind and change the heart of all those who favor, promote, seek, or perform abortion. If they fear use of the word “abortion,” then they can pray for respect for all human life from the moment of conception until natural death.
You are right, though, that some kind of pro-life petition belongs at every Mass.

Q. I have heard that some theologians believe that, in the Garden of Eden, God was eventually going to allow Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but that their sin was that they grasped at this food and ate of it before God was ready for them to do so. Your comments, please — G.P., via e-mail.
A. We have never heard that before, and that interpretation is not supported by the biblical account. According to chapter two of Genesis, “the Lord God gave man this order: ‘You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die’” (2:16-17). That doesn’t sound like God had something else in mind.
Satan of course tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, saying that “you certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad” (3:4).
The punishments that God imposed on our first parents (cf. Gen. 3:16-19) were commensurate with their sin. That He had no other plan in mind is indicated by His final words to them: “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever” (3:22).

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