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July 15, 2022 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. Was James, the “brother of the Lord,” mentioned in Gal. 1:19, an apostle, a bishop, or cousin of Jesus? Did he head the early Church alongside St. Peter? – D.H., Iowa.
A. This James was not one of the Twelve Apostles, but he was the first bishop of the Catholic community in Jerusalem and was martyred there in AD 62. He played a major role at the decision of the Council of Jerusalem in AD 49, which concluded that Gentiles did not have to observe Jewish practices before becoming Christians.
This James was probably one of the four “brothers” of Jesus mentioned in Matt. 13:55. They were children of another Mary, who is described in John 19:25 as the “wife of Clopas” and “sister” of the Virgin Mary. Since there was no word for cousin or other relative in Hebrew, the words “brother” or “sister” were used for these relationships, so James was not a blood brother of Jesus.
This James is also thought to be the author of the Letter of James in the New Testament.

Q. Sadly, many “Catholic” colleges and high schools continued to disobey our Church’s clear directive not to bestow honors on pro-abortionists. Doesn’t this mean that it is also wrong for individuals to contribute financially to such dissident institutions? Does doing so make them complicit in the sinful actions of these institutions? – R.A.C., Massachusetts.
A. Certainly. Contributing money to these colleges and high schools, whether through tuition or other donations, allows them to remain in business and to honor persons whose moral conduct is totally incompatible with the stated principles of these institutions. Would these donors be so liberal with their money if the so-called Catholic colleges and high schools were honoring, say, supporters of racism? Not likely.

Q. I have close family members and friends who regularly vote Democrat, but who attend Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist. When I point out to them that voting for pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” politicians is endangering their souls, they tell me that abortion is only one issue, that only God can judge them, and that I should stop being so judgmental. Can any true Catholic vote for those who support these evil ideologies? – S.H., Texas.
A. No true Catholic would vote for such politicians, but your family members and friends are not true Catholics, even though they go to Mass and receive Communion. If they were, they would strongly oppose anyone who supports the “unspeakable crime” of killing babies or the false belief that one can disregard God’s plan for marriage. As we said in the previous reply, these folks would not be so cavalier in voting for politicians who favored racism.
Also, it should be noted that a true Catholic supports everything that the Catholic Church teaches because the Church was founded by Jesus Himself, who promised that she would always teach the truth. To back those who reject the ancient and never-changing doctrines of the Church is to put one’s soul in jeopardy. Refusing to vote for politicians who support evil is not judging their motives for doing so — we leave that up to God — it is judging their actions. If such actions are clearly cooperating in the spread of evil, we must vote them out of office.

Q. A couple of my friends are critical of Pope Francis for not excommunicating President Joe Biden for his support of abortion. My question is whether under canon law the Pope can excommunicate a layperson or order a layperson not to come forward for Communion? Would he do so if the person’s conduct became egregious? Or does canon law stipulate that this matter would come under the purview of the diocesan bishop? I know a Pope excommunicated King Henry VIII, which had disastrous results for the Catholic Church in England. — D.B., North Carolina.
A. King Henry VIII sought an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn and, when Archbishop Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage invalid, Pope Clement VII excommunicated Henry, who went on to apostatize from the Church, establish the Church of England in her place, and order the executions of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher for opposing him. He subsequently had Anne beheaded and wed Jane Seymour, who died giving birth to the future Edward VI. A series of marriages followed: Anne of Cleves, whom he divorced, Catherine Howard, whom he had beheaded, and Catherine Parr, who survived him.
To answer your question, the authority to excommunicate is reserved to the Pope or to the bishop of the person who has committed the offense that calls for excommunication. To obtain formal excommunication of a person, one would have to produce evidence of the sinful action and bring it to the intention of a bishop. Canon 1398 imposes automatic excommunication on “a person who procures a completed abortion,” as well as on all those who made the abortion possible (doctor, family members, friends, counselors who advised the abortion), provided that each of these persons knew the Church’s penalty for this action but went ahead with it anyway.
However, lobbying for abortion by a professed Catholic, while a scandal to the faith, is not grounds for automatic excommunication. But since the murder of unborn babies “is an objective offense against the natural and divine positive law, from which no one on this planet is exempt,” said the late moral theologian Msgr. William B. Smith, “…this is grave scandal and incompatible with being a practicing Catholic. Those who promote, sustain, and expand abortion cannot disentangle themselves from this grave sin and objective injustice.”
That is why some courageous bishops, like Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, have forbidden pro-abortion fanatics like Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion in his archdiocese. But then Pelosi goes to the Vatican and receives Communion publicly at a Mass attended by Pope Francis, with whom she poses for a picture. Small wonder that faithful Catholics are disheartened by such theatrics.

Q. My seventeen-year-old granddaughter goes to Sunday Mass wearing skimpy shorts. When called on it, she says that God does not care what she wears to Mass as long as she is there. When I bring up that her immodest attire may cause sexual thoughts or distractions to fellow parishioners, she says that that is their problem. Why don’t priests address this issue? Are they afraid that some teenagers and young adults might stop coming to Mass? – A.G., via e-mail.
A. Our pastor has addressed this issue of modesty in church. Writing in the weekly bulletin, he asked people to consider these questions: “Does your clothing and behavior reflect whom you worship? What kingdom are you representing? Are you promoting the Gospel or detracting from it?”
As for your granddaughter’s immodesty being someone else’s problem, that sounds like Cain telling God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9). Don’t we have an obligation not to harm others spiritually? Aren’t we obliged not to lead others into temptation? Would she use obscene language in front of little children? Would she shoplift in front of her friends? Hopefully not, but why then does she dress like a hooker in church? She might as well stay home if she has such little regard for God and His house.

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Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

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