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November 20, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. Have you ever heard of the “Apostolic Pardon”? I’ve heard of it lately, but no one seems to know about it. What is it? — G.P.M., via e-mail.
A. It’s a shame that many Catholics do not know of this vitally important way of preparing for entry into Heaven at the end of one’s life. Please make the following information known to as many family and friends as you can.
Once the Sacrament of Penance has been given to a dying person, says the Pastoral Care of the Sick (n. 201), “the priest may give the Apostolic Pardon for the dying, using one of the following:
“ ‘Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy. Amen.
“ ‘By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen’.”
Here are the conditions for receiving the Apostolic Pardon (or Apostolic Blessing) that are spelled out in the Handbook of Indulgences (n. 28):
“Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the Apostolic Blessing, with its attached indulgence. But if a priest cannot be present, Holy Mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime. The use of a crucifix or a cross is recommended in obtaining this plenary indulgence.
“In such a situation, the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence [freedom from all attachment to sin, performance of an indulgenced work, sacramental Confession and Eucharistic Communion] are substituted for by the condition ‘provided they regularly prayed in some way.’
“The Christian faithful can obtain the plenary indulgence mentioned here as death approaches (in articulo mortis), even if they had already obtained another plenary indulgence that same day.”

Q. Pope Francis subjugates the Catholic Church in China to the Communist government there, he calls into question our right to private property, and he has given approval to homosexual “civil unions.” He seems more interested in proffering himself for public adulation and praise than in bringing the world to Christ. I believe the Church has had false Popes in its past. My question is: Does the Church have a process or procedure to identify a false Pope and have him removed from the papacy? — K.M., Nevada.
A. While the Church had three men claiming to be Pope at the time of the Western Schism (1378-1417), there was in fact only one duly elected Pope. The other two claimants were false Popes or anti-Popes. The 39-year schism was ended at the Council of Constance (1414-1418) with the resignation of Pope Gregory XII, who was the true Pope, the deposition of false Popes Benedict and John, and the election of Oddo Cardinal Colonna, who took the name Martin V.
But whatever criticisms may be made about the statements and policies of Pope Francis, he is not a false Pope; he was properly chosen at a conclave in 2013 as the Successor of St. Peter. Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would never prevail against His Church, and that He would be with His Church until the end of time. This would preclude there ever being a false Pope sitting on the Chair of Peter.

Q. I question why, in the modern way of addressing Jesus and God the Father, most everyone, except me, uses the word “you” instead of “thee.” Using “you” is disrespectful to God, Jesus, and the Holy Trinity since it’s the same word we use when addressing our everyday acquaintances.
My other concern is, when I went to receive the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass, the priest refused to give me the Host on the tongue. I was forced against my will to received Our Blessed Lord on my dirty hand, which had touched door knobs, car handles, pews, books, and what not. Why would he think that a disease could be spread while accepting the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ? What say you? — G.B., via e-mail.
A. On the first question, word usage changes over time and we don’t use “thee” and thou” in everyday conversation unless we are living in an Amish community. We don’t think that it is disrespectful to use modern terminology for the members of the Blessed Trinity, any more than it is disrespectful to refer to family members as father and son. What is disrespectful, and sinful, is to use the holy names of God in a blasphemous or profane way. That’s a much more serious breach of theological etiquette than substituting “you” for “thee.”
As for being refused Communion on the tongue, the priest is just following the rules being imposed during the pandemic. If he didn’t, he might prompt some bureaucrat to shut the church down. Better to receive Communion in the hand than not at all, which has been the case in many dioceses.

Q. What is the “seamless garment” theory? I find people using this to counter my argument for making abortion the primary issue when voting. — M.C., via e-mail.
A. The “seamless garment” or “consistent ethic of life” theory says that, when considering whom to vote for, one ought to factor in such other issues as poverty, immigration, health care, racism, capital punishment, etc.
Obviously, all of these other issues are important, but they do not involve direct attacks on innocent human life. Without the right to be born, none of these issues really matters, but those promoting the theory usually want to downplay the issue of abortion.
The late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago is often credited with originating the “seamless garment” message, although former Governor of New York Mario Cuomo, in an address at Notre Dame in 1984, said that “abortion will always be a central concern of Catholics. But so will nuclear weapons, and hunger and homelessness and joblessness, all the forces diminishing human life and threatening to destroy it.”
By the way, his son Andrew, who is now the governor of New York, doesn’t consider abortion a central concern at all; in fact, a couple of years ago, he led a raucous celebration of legislative approval of abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.
In a recent issue of the National Catholic Register, columnist Lauretta Brown recalled an interview with the Register in 1988 when Cardinal Bernardin accused those on the left of misusing his position on the consistent ethic of life by suggesting that there are issues that are of equal importance with abortion.
“I don’t see how you can subscribe to the consistent ethic and then vote for someone who feels that abortion is a ‘basic right’ of the individual,” the cardinal said in 1988. “The consequence of that position would be an absence of legal protection for the unborn.”
He said that “at any given time one issue may have to be given much higher priority than others. I’ve never said they were all equal or that they all required the same attention. The main point is you’re inconsistent if you think you can defend a person who takes a pro-life position on certain life issues but refuses to acknowledge other life issues. The beauty of the consistent ethic is that it provides an overall vision and it shows how issues are related to each other, even though they remain distinct. You can’t collapse them into one. Each requires its own moral analysis. No one solution is going to be adequate for all of the issues.”

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And just like that, we’ve forgotten that a voting machine was hacked into live in a Georgia senate hearing.

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

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Catholic Replies

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