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September 5, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. I am unaware of any Democratic congressman who is both pro-life and anti-“gay marriage.” Do you know of any? — R.B.K., Virginia.
A. Not without going through the voting records of all 435 members of the House of Representatives. We know that Democratic Cong. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois is pro-life, but we don’t know his stance on same-sex “marriage.”
In an interview that appeared in the Knights of Columbus magazine Columbia this past July, Lipinski said that “my way of dealing not only with the life issue, but also other issues, is to be respectful of others, yet to be very firm in what I believe. From the first day that I was running for office, I said unequivocally that I am pro-life. People know that they are not going to change my position on this. I explain why I am pro-life, but it is not the only issue I talk about.”
We have seen information that there are Democratic members of the House of Representatives from Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia who are opposed to same-sex “marriage,” but we don’t know specifically who they are, nor do we know if they are also pro-life. We have sought this information from pro-life and defense-of-marriage groups, but have not heard from them. If any reader has this information, we would be interested to hear from you.

Q. In our parish, the Knights of Columbus invite the Masons for a dinner every year, and later the Masons ask the Knights over for a dinner. Should this be done? I thought Catholics and Masons are not supposed to do things with each other. — W.C., Wisconsin.
A. While this was a popular thing to do back in the 1970s, we thought it had gone out of style after the Church, in the 1980s, had stressed the incompatibility of Freemasonry and Catholicism. It is true that local Masonic groups are often made up of fine men who provide valuable services to their local communities, and this led some Catholics to join the Masons.
In 1985, however, the U.S. Catholic bishops, following a 1983 statement from the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that the principles of Freemasonry are “irreconcilable with the Church’s doctrine,” that those Catholics “who knowingly embrace such principles are committing a serious sin,” and that membership in Masonic associations is forbidden to Catholics.
This may sound harsh about a group that includes the well-meaning Masonic fellow next door, but Msgr. William B. Smith, writing in the September 1996 issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, explained the Church’s stand:
“Masons as Masons accept the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the immortality of the soul; but the inspiration of the Bible, the unique claims of Jesus Christ, the authority and teaching role of the Church, and the sacraments as means of grace — these are ‘particular opinions’ they are asked to keep to themselves and not disturb the brothers in the lodge.
“Perhaps a religious naturalism is better than no belief at all, but for the professing Christian this is a retreat from the Gospel. Freemasonry clearly rejects dogma and the possibility of absolute truth. The inspiration of the Bible and the divinity of Christ cannot be periodic lay-asides for believing Catholics. When revealed doctrines are relegated to the harmless status of private opinion, will it or not, one contributes further to the endemic relativism that John Dewey so much fostered in education and Oliver Wendell Holmes advanced in jurisprudence.”

Q. Can a Mormon marry a Catholic in the Catholic Church with a priest and Mormon minister present? Does the Catholic Church accept Mormons as converts? Is Mormonism a cult? – M.D., via e-mail.
A. Yes, a Mormon can marry a Catholic in the Catholic Church with the permission of the local ordinary, either the local bishop of the Catholic party or the bishop where the marriage is to take place. According to canon 1125 of the Code of Canon Law, the local ordinary can grant permission “if there is a just and reasonable cause.”
He must also insist on the following conditions: 1) the Catholic party must declare that he or she “is prepared to remove dangers of falling away from the faith” and must make a sincere promise to have any children baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church, 2) the other party is to be informed of this promise, and 3) “both parties are to be instructed on the essential ends and properties of marriage, which are not to be excluded by either party.”
Yes, the Catholic Church gladly accepts Mormons as converts. For an interesting look at the conversion process, as well as at Mormon beliefs and practices, we recommend two books — Inside Mormonism and When Mormons Call, both published by Catholic Answers and authored by Isaiah Bennett, a Catholic priest who converted to Mormonism and was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for two years before returning to the Catholic Church. He taught at the Mormon Institutes of Religion and knows well from the inside the errors of Mormonism.
Is Mormonism a cult? The word “cult” refers to a system of religious beliefs and rituals and its adherents. There can be good cults, such as ones devoted to veneration of the Virgin Mary or the saints, or destructive cults, such as those that worship Satan or that use manipulation or mind-control techniques to exploit its members psychologically, financially, or physically.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is indeed a system of religious beliefs and rituals, but many of them are outside the mainstream of traditional Christianity. For example, while Catholics believe that the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are co-equal and co-eternal, and that there never was a point at which one or the other of these Persons did not exist as God, Mormons believe that Jesus is a lesser God than the Father and that He was begotten in the flesh through physical sexual intercourse between the Father and the Virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit, they believe, was created later and that “He is a Spirit, in the form of a man” who has “size and dimensions” but does not “fill the immensity of space, and cannot be everywhere present in person at the same time” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines and Salvation, 1:38).
Mormons believe, in the words of The Essential Catholic Survival Guide (published by Catholic Answers), that “men living today on this planet will one day become gods of their own universes. As such, they will mate with heavenly wives, beget spirit children, populate new worlds, and receive the worship and obedience we are now expected to give to our particular, current God” (p. 464).
They also believe in multiple heavens, says the Survival Guide, noting that there is the lowest heaven, which is “populated by adulterers, murderers, thieves, liars, and other evildoers” whose sins have been forgiven; a middle heaven that “contains the souls and bodies of good non-Mormons and those Mormons who were in some way deficient in their obedience to church commandments”; and the top heaven, which “is reserved for devout Mormons who go on to become gods and rulers of their own universes” (pp. 457-458).
While history clearly shows the existence of the Catholic Church from her founding by Jesus in the first century until today, Mormons claim that the Church of Christ fell into apostasy shortly after the time of the apostles and that the true church was not restored until the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in upstate New York in 1820. Of course, there is no historical evidence of such a great apostasy.
Up until 2001, the Catholic Church did not contest the validity of Mormon baptism, but in that year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that while the Church saw no problem with the matter of Mormon baptism (water), the same was not true of the formula. “The similarities with the formula used by the Catholic Church are, at first glance, evident, but in reality they are only apparent,” said the congregation.
“There is not in fact a true invocation of the Trinity because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are not three Persons in which a sole divinity subsists, but three gods who form one divinity.”

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