Monday 14th June 2021

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May 28, 2021 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. Did Moses write the Book of Genesis? — T.D., via e-mail.
A. Moses is regarded as the principal author of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). However, says Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary, “the longstanding tradition of Moses as the author of Genesis does not insist that he wrote every word of the book. Rather, the essence of Genesis is dated to the time of Moses in the fifteenth century B.C. (or perhaps the thirteenth century B.C.). He would have been responsible for compiling, editing, and organizing assorted family records and archives as well as handing on oral traditions” (p. 307).

Q. I heard that at one time there were 40 Stations of the Cross and an early Pope changed it to 14 stations. Could I get a copy of those 40 stations? — L.T., Minnesota.
A. The Stations of the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross, is a series of images depicting Christ on the day of His crucifixion. Originally it was a devotion for persons who were unable to travel to the Holy Land and actually walk in the steps of our Lord to remember His Passion and Death by praying at various places that recalled His journey to Calvary.
We could not find any mention of 40 stations, but the number seven was common at first. The seven corresponded with numbers two, three, four, six, seven, eleven, and fourteen in the traditional scenes that we follow today. The Franciscans are credited with popularizing this devotion in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, and the number was fixed at 14 by Pope Clement XII in 1731. On Good Friday in 1991, Pope St. John Paul II proposed the following Scriptural Way of the Cross (some of the original 14 are not mentioned in the Bible, e.g., Jesus Meets His Mother and Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus):
First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Second Station: Jesus Is Betrayed by Judas and Arrested
Third Station: Jesus Is Condemned by the Sanhedrin
Fourth Station: Jesus Is Denied by St. Peter
Fifth Station: Jesus Is Judged by Pontius Pilate
Sixth Station: Jesus Is Scourged at the Pillar and Crowned with Thorns
Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross
Eighth Station: Jesus Is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross
Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Tenth Station: Jesus Is Crucified
Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief
Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Beloved Disciple
Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb

Q. In reading Anne Roche Muggeridge’s excellent 1986 book, The Desolate City, I found her discussion on Humanae Vitae of special interest, given a certain recent event in our Church. In addition to the obvious challenges to Church teachings on the immorality of contraception, the author suggests that the larger and perhaps more important issue was that objections to Humanae Vitae were actually an attack on the authority and inerrant teaching Magisterium of the Church on a long-held fundamental moral and natural law matter. Were the Church to have changed this teaching, it would have been an admission that its teaching authority is not inerrant and that the Church does make mistakes in its doctrinal teachings. That would have opened the door to identifying and claiming that other Church doctrines may be in error.
Fast forward to our current Holy Father’s declaration that the “death penalty is inadmissible.” Does that not admit error in a traditional Church teaching and thereby potentially crack open the door to future challenges to fundamental Church doctrine? LGBTQ and transgenderism matters come to mind. Your thoughts, please. — D.M., via e-mail.
A. Reversing two thousand years of Church teaching on capital punishment could indeed open the door to reversing the Church’s position on other moral teachings. We have already seen, under the present Holy Father, an undermining of Church teaching on withholding Holy Communion from divorced and remarried Catholics. And even when the Magisterium rejects a proposal to bless same-sex unions, as it did recently, some bishops and priests ignore the official stance of the Church and continue to call for such blessings to be legitimized. These dissenters won’t be satisfied until the Church changes her teachings on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, celibacy, women priests, and who knows what else. The aftermath of Humanae Vitae is instructive as to what we can expect in the years to come.
The year 1968 was a watershed year for the United States, with riots and assassinations in the country and confusion and dissent in the Church. Pope St. Paul VI tried to stem the “passion for change and novelty” by promulgating the first comprehensive statement of Catholic beliefs (The Credo of the People of God) since the fourth century. But his effort was in vain. As was his effort, also in 1968, to reaffirm the Church’s ancient ban on contraception.
Leaks from a commission formed by Pope St. John XXIII, and enlarged by Pope Paul, to study the issue of contraception in light of the new birth-control Pill led priests to tell the faithful that the Church was going to end her opposition to contraception. The 60-member commission did recommend a change, but Pope Paul courageously rejected the recommendation and reaffirmed the ban on contraception that could be traced back to a first-century document, the Didache, and that was reiterated by numerous Popes and by the Second Vatican Council.
When Paul VI dropped his bombshell, it triggered more than 50 years of dissent, partly because Church leaders failed to back the Pope and told Catholics to follow their consciences, without instructing them that their consciences had to be in conformity with Church teaching. Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York admitted in 2012 that Church leaders had failed to inform Catholics about the Church’s opposition to contraception and the reasons for it. He said that in the sixties, we tried to be “chums with the world” and to become “more and more like everybody else.” When Church leaders saw the “tsunami of dissent and disapproval” of what Pope Paul said, the cardinal noted, most of them said to themselves, “Whoa, we’d better never talk about that because it’s just too hot to handle.”
Looking back over the decades since 1968, we can see how prophetic the Holy Father was in Humanae Vitae. He said that if Catholics did not leave each and every marriage act “open to the transmission of life,” four things would happen: There would be unfaithfulness in marriage; a general lowering of morality; a loss of respect for women, who would no longer be seen as one’s “respected and beloved companion” but as a “mere instrument of selfish enjoyment”; and a “dangerous weapon” would be put in the hands of government, which would impose their favorite method of contraception on peoples and nations.
Who can deny these poisonous fruits of dissent from Humanae Vitae? One of the biggest lies was that the Pill and other contraceptives would reduce the need for abortion, but the opposite has been true — contraception has never been more widespread, but abortions have multiplied into the tens of millions. That’s because, as Pope St. John Paul II said, contraception and abortion are fruits of the same anti-life tree. Once you decide not to have children via contraception, you can always use abortion as a backup for failed birth control.
Failure to follow God’s plan for marriage and sexuality has led to tens of millions of abortions, an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, legalization of sodomy, and sexual abuse of children, including giving them drugs and medical procedures so they can choose whether to be a boy or girl. Women are no longer treated as persons to be loved, but as objects to be used, especially in the booming pornography market. And governments, with our tax dollars, are forcing contraception, abortion, and sterilization on Third World countries.
It was fitting that the two approved miracles for Pope Paul’s canonization both involved the healing of unborn children. Both mothers refused abortions when the health of their babies was in question, and they entrusted their little ones to the intercession of Paul VI. Both children were born healthy. Let us also entrust to the intercession of St. Paul VI the restoration in society of God’s plan for marriage and family.

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Catholic Replies

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