Bishop: Pelosi "Created Confusion" on Abortion

Bishop: Pelosi "Created Confusion" on Abortion

Says Church's Stance Remains Unchanged

FARGO, North Dakota, AUG. 28, 2008 ( Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has "created confusion" with regard to the Church's stance against abortion, says the bishop of Fargo.

Bishop Samuel Aquila said this in a the latest in a series of episcopal statements that have responded to comments made by Pelosi during an interview Sunday on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press."

Pelosi, when asked to comment on when life begins, said that as a Catholic, she had studied the issue for "a long time" and that "the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition."

Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U. Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William Lori, chairman of the Committee on Doctrine, said in a statement Monday that her answer "misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion."

The prelates noted that since the first century the Church has “affirmed the moral evil of every abortion.”

Statements were also released by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., Archbishop Charles Chaput and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley of Denver, and Cardinal Edward Egan, the archbishop of New York.

The Diocese of Fargo released a letter Wednesday written by Bishop Aquila who said that while the remarks "created confusion in regard to Catholic teaching," those familiar with it "can easily recognize the flaws in her remarks."

Respect life

"The Christian teaching on abortion throughout history is unchanged," he continued. "Human life from the moment of conception is to always be respected, treated with dignity, and protected.

"Catholics who support so called abortion rights support a false right, promote a culture of death."

"Out of respect for the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Church," added Bishop Aquila, "any Catholic who supports abortion rights has placed himself or herself outside of visible unity with the Church and thus should refrain from receiving holy Communion."

On Tuesday, Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, issued a similar statement.

"The Church has taught for centuries that life begins at conception and there is no room for misrepresentation of that teaching," he said. "In addition, modern medical techniques have been able to confirm what the Church has already known.

“Surely, there may be some Catholic politicians who will take a different interpretation of this Church doctrine during the coming election campaign, but Speaker Pelosi’s remarks underscore once again the need for Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians, to form their consciences according to the moral truths taught by the Catholic Church.”

Ten Commandments

Ten Commandments
Question from Jeff on 8/27/2008:

How can we know whose version of the Ten Commandments are right?
Answer by Catholic Answers on 8/28/2008:


Recommended reading:

The True Ten Commandments by Fr. Michael Wensing

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Cannot go to Mass

Cannot go to Mass
Question from Marion on 8/28/2008:

A Catholic woman in her 90s can no longer go to Sunday Mass, so she attends a friend's Protestant church because her friend gives her a ride there. Would it not be better for her to watch the Mass on TV and avoid going with this friend to her church?
Answer by Catholic Answers on 8/28/2008:


Even better than that would be for a Catholic to step up and take this elderly Catholic lady to Mass at a local Catholic parish. If you cannot do so yourself, why not offer to arrange with the parish for someone else to provide rides?

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Witnessing marriage

Witnessing marriage
Question from M.S. on 8/28/2008:

My sister is a Catholic and so is the man she will marry. They have decided to get married on a cruise ship and not have a Catholic marriage ceremony. We know the marriage is not valid in the eyes of the Church, and we as practicing Catholics feel we cannot attend it. Could you please provide us with Church statements or canon law that will agree or disagree with this so we can provide it to our family members who are currently angry with us (and feel we are being un-Christian).
Answer by Catholic Answers on 8/28/2008:


Recommended reading:

What are the rules for attending weddings?

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Michelle Obama: Barack's abortion stand respects ‘sacred responsibility of parenthood’

Michelle Obama: Barack's abortion stand respects ‘sacred responsibility of parenthood’

Michelle Obama

Denver, Aug 29, 2008 / 10:02 am (CNA).- Michelle Obama, wife of proposed Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, joined other Democratic leaders at the Women’s Caucus of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, pledging to support female candidates, advocate policies in women’s interest, and preserve the legal status quo of permissive abortion laws. The speakers all backed Barack Obama, whom one called a “steadfast supporter of women’s right to choose.”

Michelle Obama

Speaking of her husband, Michelle Obama said: “He’ll protect a woman’s freedom of choice, because government should have no say in whether or when a woman embraces the sacred responsibility of parenthood.”

When her speech began, Democratic protesters who support Sen. Hillary Clinton disrupted the event, standing before the Colorado Convention Center ballroom’s stage and carrying signs which called Clinton a “Smart Choice.”

Feigning unawareness of the protesters, who were belatedly escorted from the room, Michelle Obama said Hillary’s candidacy had made her husband a stronger candidate. Towards the end of the speech, she pledged that the Democrats would not “take women’s votes for granted” and could not “assume that women know where Barack stands.”

About half an hour before Michelle Obama’s speech, other protestors made an appearance following the speech of another Women’s Caucus speaker. The group consisted of a half-dozen women of various ages hurrying to the stage and displaying their shirts, which read “I regret my abortion.” As the displeased audience shouted “Obama, Obama,” security personnel quickly escorted the protesters out of the room.

They had disrupted the caucus just before California Sen. Barbara Boxer was scheduled to speak.

Sen. Barbara Boxer

Boxer, who was introduced as the “leading defender of the right to choose,” responded to the removed protesters by saying they have a right to an opinion, but “all we want is our right to choose.”

“They can choose what they want to choose, and we can choose what we want to choose... That’s America! That’s what Democracy means, that’s what freedom means, that’s what individual rights mean,” Boxer asserted to audience applause.

“We believe in the right to choose for our personal health, and we know the right choice to protect that right to choose: it is President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden,” she said.

Attacking presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Boxer said that McCain has a rating of zero percent from NARAL and zero from Planned Parenthood.

“Now you have to be pretty radical to have a zero rating,” she claimed.

Boxer, like other caucus speakers, noted McCain’s vote against requiring insurance companies to provide contraceptives. This lack of coverage was presented as an inequality and compared to insurance provided impotence medicine.

The California Senator then attacked McCain’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices similar to Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who are considered hostile to Roe v. Wade.

“They want to, essentially, make it illegal for us to have a right to choose, and to make us criminals, and to make doctors criminals!” she exclaimed.

Noting Barack Obama’s 100 percent rating from pro-abortion groups NARAL and Planned Parenthood, Boxer emphasized the slogan “He’s a hero, John McCain’s a zero!”

She received a standing ovation for the remark.

Boxer also claimed that McCain had voted against a program to help children who witness domestic violence.

Later in the caucus meeting, New York U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter warned the audience “we are in as much danger today… as we were almost when we first started here. There is so much at stake for women on this one issue, and it’s critical that we elect Barack Obama.”

Calling Obama a “steadfast supporter of women’s right to choose,” she noted Obama’s vote to repeal the Mexico City Policy and his co-sponsorship of the Prevention First Act. She characterized his other votes as being against policies that would “restrict women’s health care.”

Gov. Madeline Kunan

Vermont Governor Madeline Kunan also attacked new Bush administration regulations that would protect the consciences of pro-life medical professionals and healthcare workers from being forced to cooperate in unethical practices. She said “we probably can’t stop it, but we can change it next year.”

Though the regulation is based on providing protection of conscience, Kunan charged, it doesn’t protect the women health care professionals and doctors are “supposed to serve.”

Rep. Slaughter apparently alleged the regulation does not honor long-standing medical ethics, noting the “intent” of the Hippocratic Oath “where the doctor swears to ‘do no harm.’”

She then implied that legal abortion and contraception was necessary for women’s progress in society.

“It was the right to control our reproductive systems that made it possible for almost all of us to achieve our own dreams which our parents had paid for,” Rep. Slaughter said.

Other policy discussions at the Women’s Caucus included children’s health insurance, gas prices, and workplace and pay equality. Caucus speakers also emphasized what they saw as the need to promote female candidates to achieve parity in the ratio of women to men in the U.S. House and Senate.

At one point in the caucus, former Vermont Governor Madeline Kunan told how she investigated why Rwanda led all nations in its proportion of top female legislators.

Calling a Rwandan legislator, Gov. Kunan said she learned that the Rwandan constitution demanded a quota. She was then told that Rwandans vote for so many women because “we do what we have to do for the survival of our children.”

“I suggest to you,” Gov. Kunan concluded, “We in the United States of America have to do this, be politically engaged, for the survival of our children and of children all over the world.”

Californians Hoping to Define Marriage in November

Californians Hoping to Define Marriage in November

Bishops Speak Up in Favor of "Proposition 8"

SACRAMENTO, California, AUG. 29, 2008 ( Citizens in California are campaigning in preparation for November, but not just regarding the presidential election. They are facing "Proposition 8," to place a definition of marriage in the state constitution.

Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and the other California prelates have joined their voices to an effort that is bringing together conservative Christians, Mormons, Catholics and other groups in an attempt to inform voters before they make their choice on the ballot.

Proposition 8 responds to a state Supreme Court decision in May that made California the second U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. But critics of the court decision managed to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot. A similar measure was passed by 61% of California voters in 2000, though that measure was struck down by the May decision.

Bishop Soto dedicated his Aug. 16 column in the Catholic Herald to "Keeping Our Eyes Fixed on Marriage."

"Marriage as it is -- the union of a woman and a man for the purpose of having children -- will continue to exist but without a word," the bishop wrote. "It won't exist in language and it won't exist in law. People will point to the reflection but not the actual fact of a family created by the sexual union of a woman and man."

The bishop affirmed arrangements that reflect certain characteristics of marriage are being taken for marriage itself.

"Like a hall of mirrors, we have lots of reflections without having to take responsibility for seeing and naming the real thing," he said.

But Bishop Soto encouraged readers to stay focused on the truth of marriage. "It is not a matter of what or who we are against," he affirmed. "We are keeping our eyes fixed on marriage. It is a matter of seeing marriage for what it is, hoping that our courts and legislators will quit playing with mirrors."

State appeal

On Aug. 1, Catholic bishops of the state released a statement in favor of Proposition 8.

"The issue before us with Proposition 8 is 'marriage' -- an ancient, yet modern, human institution which pre-exists both Church and government," they wrote. "Marriage, history shows us, is intrinsic to stable, flourishing and hospitable societies. Although cultural differences have occurred, what has never changed is that marriage is the ideal relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation and the continuation of the human race."

The prelates mentioned six points to help Catholics respond "to this radical change in California's public policy regarding marriage," brought about in May.

They affirmed that "same-sex unions are not the same as opposite-sex unions" and that "the ideal for the well being of children is to be born into a traditional marriage and to be raised by both a mother and a father."

The bishops added, "[W]e need to recall that marriage mirrors God's relationship with us. […] Any other pairing -- while possibly offering security and companionship to the individuals involved -- is not marriage."

"Protecting the traditional understanding of marriage should not in any way disparage our brothers and sisters -- even if they disagree with us," the bishops clarified. And they urged the faithful to "pray and work for a just resolution of this issue, which is so important to the well being of the human family." They added that as citizens, Catholics should avail of the vote as the chance to overturn the California Supreme Court ruling.

Bishops on Pelosi

Bishops on Pelosi
Question from anonymous on 8/28/2008:

Judie, I think you are unjustly criticizing the Bishops regarding the Communion issue with Pelosi and others. First of all, their statements/quotes are being edited, so it is unfair to claim they didn't say anything about receiving Communion when you do not have absolute knowledge of the entire conversation or interview. Second, the bishops' first duty is to teach, so correcting the actual Catholic teaching on abortion and history is the rightful primary focus for them on this issue. Third, there is a specific process that bishops are obligated to follow prior to taking a public action like denying Communion, such as meeting privately with the individual first -- and that's another fact that would be unknown to you. Pelosi, Biden, and other pro-abortion politicians have indeed placed themselves outside of full communion with the Church, but that does not equate to excommunication. The bottom line is that your condemnation of the bishops is unjust and inappropriate, and that gossip and detraction are sins.
Answer by Judie Brown on 8/29/2008:

Dear Anonymous

Reporting the facts from the statements that various Bishops make on these questions is not unjust. I report what they write. I have a duty as do you to learn what is going on and to take note of it without any type of disrespect or pejorative language.

I am sorry that you do not see the reality of why it is so very important to protect Christ from sacrilege by denying pro-abortion Catholics in the public sphere the body and blood of Christ. It was none other than Nancy Pelosi herself who claimed that nobody has ever suggested to her that Holy Communion should be denied to her.

It seems to me we need to stick to the facts, Church law and the reality of the situation. I am condemning no one, but I am going to persist in the pursuit of justice regarding the respect that should be paid to the body of Christ and the duty ordained priests have to strive toward the salvation of souls.

Thank you for your comments.

Judie Brown

St. Francis

St. Francis
Question from Jackie Emerson on 8/7/2008:

Information on the Lent of St. Francis.
Answer by David Gregson on 8/26/2008:

I'll take a guess at the meaning of your question. Maybe you're referring to the period of prayer and fasting from 15 August to 29 September 1224, which St. Francis called the "Lent of St. Michael," since it ended on St. Michael's day. It was during this time, probably on 14 September, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, that St. Francis had a vision of a winged seraph nailed to a cross, and felt the pains of Christ's Passion in his own flesh. That was when he received the stigmata, the wounds in his hands, feet, and side.

For more information on the life of St. Francis, see Saint Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Friars Minor, in our Document Library.

holy water

holy water
Question from Anonymous on 8/7/2008:

How is holy water made holy? I have had priests simply bless tap water. Would this water be holy or just blessed? Thank you so much.
Answer by David Gregson on 8/26/2008:

Any water blessed by a priest is holy water, but a distinction may be made between ordinary holy water, baptismal water (water blessed for baptism), and Easter water (specially blessed for use during paschal time).

Directives on the Use of 'Yahweh' in the Liturgy

Directives on the Use of 'Yahweh' in the Liturgy

by Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

By directive of the Holy Father, in accord with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments deems it convenient to communicate to the bishops' conferences the following as regards the translation and the pronunciation in a liturgical setting of the divine name signified in the sacred Tetragrammaton, along with a number of directives.

I. Expose?

1. The words of sacred Scripture contained in the Old and New Testament express truth which transcends the limits imposed by time and place. They are the word of God expressed in human words, and by means of these words of life, the Holy Spirit introduces the faithful to knowledge of the truth whole and entire, and thus the word of Christ comes to dwell in the faithful in all its richness (cf. Jn 14:26; 16:12-15).

In order that the word of God written in the sacred texts may be conserved and transmitted in an integral and faithful manner, every modern translation of the books of the Bible aims at being a faithful and accurate transposition of the original texts. Such a literary effort requires that the original text be translated with the maximum integrity and accuracy, without omissions or additions with regard to the contents, and without introducing explanatory glosses or paraphrases which do not belong to the sacred text itself.

As regards the sacred name of God himself, translators must use the greatest faithfulness and respect. In particular, as the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam (No. 41) states:

"In accordance with immemorial tradition, which indeed is already evident in the above-mentioned Septuagint version, the name of almighty God expressed by the Hebrew Tetragrammaton and rendered in Latin by the word Dominus is to be rendered into any given vernacular by a word equivalent in meaning. [Iuxta traditionem ab immemorabili receptam, immo in (...) versione 'LXX virorum' iam perspicuam, nomen Dei omnipotentis, sacro tetragrammate hebaraice expressum, latine vocabulo 'Dominus' in quavis lingua populari vocabulo quodam eiusdem significationis reddatur.]"

Notwithstanding such a clear norm, in recent years the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel's proper name, known as the holy or divine Tetragrammaton, written with four consonants of the Hebrew alphabet in the form (see PDF file), YHWH. The practice of vocalizing it is met with both in the reading of biblical texts taken from the Lectionary as well as in prayers and hymns, and it occurs in diverse written and spoken forms such as, for example, Yahweh, Yahwe, Jahweh, Jahwe, Jave, Yehovah, etc. It is therefore our intention with the present letter to set out some essential facts which lie behind the above-mentioned norm and to establish some directives to be observed in this matter.

2. The venerable biblical tradition of sacred Scripture, known as the Old Testament, displays a series of divine appellations, among which is the sacred name of God revealed in the Tetragrammaton YHWH (see PDF file). As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: Adonai, which means Lord.

The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the so-called Septuagint, dating back to the last centuries prior to the Christian era, had regularly rendered the Hebrew Tetragrammaton with the Greek word Kyrios, which means Lord. Since the text of the Septuagint constituted the Bible of the first generation of Greek-speaking Christians, in which language all the books of the New Testament were also written, these Christians too from the beginning never pronounced the divine Tetragrammaton.

Something similar happened likewise for Latin-speaking Christians, whose literature began to emerge from the second century, as first the Vetus Latina and later the Vulgate of St. Jerome attest: In these translations too the Tetragrammaton was regularly replaced with the Latin word Dominus, corresponding both to the Hebrew Adonai and to the Greek Kyrios. The same holds for the recent neo-Vulgate which the church employs in the liturgy.

This fact has had important implications for New Testament Christology itself. When in fact St. Paul, with regard to the crucifixion, writes that "God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name" (Phil 2:9), he does not mean any other name than Lord, for he continues by saying, "and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil 2:11; cf. Is 42:8: "I am the Lord; that is my name.").

The attribution of this title to the risen Christ corresponds exactly to the proclamation of his divinity. The title in fact becomes interchangeable between the God of Israel and the Messiah of the Christian faith even though it is not in fact one of the titles used for the Messiah of Israel. In the strictly theological sense, this title is found, for example, already in the first canonical Gospel (cf. Mt. 1:20: "The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.") and one sees it as a rule in Old Testament citations in the New Testament (cf. Acts 2:20: "The sun shall be turned into darkness ... before the day of the Lord comes (Joel 3:4); 1 Pt 1:25: "The word of the Lord abides forever" (Is 40:8).).

However, in the properly Christological sense, apart from the text cited of Philippians 2:9-11, one can remember Romans 10:9 ("If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."), 1 Corinthians 2:8 ("They would not have crucified the Lord of glory."), 1 Corinthians 12:3 ("No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit.") and the frequent formula concerning the Christian who lives "in the Lord" (Rom 16:2; 1 Cor 7:22; 1 Thes 3:8, etc.).

3. Avoiding pronouncing the Tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the church has therefore its own grounds. Apart from a motive of a purely philological order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the church's tradition from the beginning that the sacred Tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated.

II. Directives

In the light of what has been expounded, the following directives are to be observed:

1. In liturgical celebrations, in songs and prayers the name of God in the form of the Tetragrammaton YHWH is neither to be used nor pronounced.

2. For the translation of the biblical text in modern languages, destined for the liturgical usage of the church, what is already prescribed by No. 41 of the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam is to be followed; that is, the divine Tetragrammaton is to be rendered by the equivalent of Adonai/Kyrios: Lord, Signore, Seigneur, Herr, Señor, etc.

3. In translating in the liturgical context, texts in which are present, one after the other, either the Hebrew term Adonai or the Tetragrammaton YHWH, Adonai is to be translated Lord and the form God is to be used for the Tetrgrammaton YHWH, similar to what happens in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and in the Latin translation of the Vulgate.

From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, June 29, 2008.

Cardinal Francis Arinze

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith

Women wearing veil in church

Women wearing veil in church
Question from Annamarie on 8/26/2008:

Should a woman wear a veil or a hat to cover her head in church; and, if yes, is this optional?
Answer by Catholic Answers on 8/26/2008:


The Church no longer requires women to cover their heads in church. Whether or not a woman wears a veil or hat is up to her.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Catholic-Jewish marriage

Catholic-Jewish marriage
Question from Claire on 8/25/2008:

I am Catholic and my boyfriend is Jewish. How could we have a wedding? Would we be allowed to have it in the Church? It is very hard to get a straight answer to this question; and, from doing research, I feel there is a lot of false teaching out there. What does the Church teach?
Answer by Catholic Answers on 8/26/2008:


The Church strongly discourages interfaith marriage but provides for its validity if the couple insists on marrying each other. You would need to promise to remain Catholic and do your best to raise any children Catholic. Your boyfriend would need to be made aware of this commitment. (Ideally, he should agree to it as well, but the Church does not require him to sign a statement to that effect.) Then you would need one or two dispensations: One, to marry a non-Christian; and two, to marry in a non-Catholic ritual (should you marry outside of a church).

I strongly advise you to read the Q&A linked below and to carefully reconsider whether you should marry someone who is not Catholic.

Recommended reading:

Is interfaith marriage advisable?

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Catholic Latino leaders challenged to help change American society

Catholic Latino leaders challenged to help change American society

CALL leaders gathered at St. Malo's Retreat Center

Denver, Aug 27, 2008 / 05:22 am (CNA).- The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders met last weekend to discuss the theme, “Keeping and Transmitting Our Values in the 21st Century.” Speakers, such as Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, and Archbishop of San Antonio, Jose H. Gomez challenged conference participants to live as virtuous leaders and help change American society with the truth of Christ.

The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL), an organization which strives to work with the Catholic Church for the good of Latinos in the U.S., organized the conference that was held August 22-24 at St. Malo Retreat Center near Estes Park, Colorado.

Besides the archbishops who presented talks, others in attendance were Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona; Bishop Alfonso Cortez, Auxiliary of Monterrey (Mexico); and priests representing the Dioceses of Fort Worth, Texas and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Archbishop Chaput’s Address

A Generation of Latinos to Impact Society

Opening the conference on Friday, Archbishop Charles Chaput, President of the Advisory Committee, challenged the more than 30 entrepreneurs and Latino leaders to be “willing to do the work to have an impact on American Catholic life and American society.”

Archbishop Chaput explained to the conference participants that the Catholic Church in the U.S. “has been fueled by several major waves of immigrants.”

“The very heavy Irish influence in shaping the American Church over the past 150 years has obviously been based in the demographic realities. The Irish were the largest single Catholic ethnic group in the country. But the really interesting thing is this: Their actual influence was even greater than their numbers.”

Why were they so influential? he asked. “It’s because unlike all the other ethnic groups that came to America, the Irish developed a highly organized and effective leadership. The Irish, with their own priests and religious, created an extraordinary cultural system that impacted not only the organization of the Catholic Church in the United States, but also the whole political and social environment. In essence, the Irish turned a persecuted minority into a cultural, economic and religious force in the United States.”

The Archbishop of Denver compared the Irish immigrants to the Latino population in the United States. “Today, Latinos are by far the largest Catholic ethnic group in the country.”

“What the Church really needs is a generation of Latino leaders willing to do the work to have an impact on American Catholic life and American society. We need leaders willing to vigorously promote priestly vocations and pastoral ministers. We need leaders eager to show by their example that success in the financial, political or social environment can be achieved by reaffirming, not relinquishing, their Catholic values. We need leaders willing to strengthen the Latino family as the domestic Church, which is the cornerstone of a renewal of American culture.”

Archbishop Chaput called on the conference participants to lead both as Catholics and as Latinos. “And if you lead, if you accept God’s call, then the future will be full of hope -- not only for the Latino community, but for everyone who shares this great and beautiful nation.”

Archbishop Gomez’s Address

Ambassadors of Faith, Heralds of Hope, and Messengers of Love

The following day, Archbishop Gomez from San Antonio, who is one of the founders of CALL and also the Episcopal Advisor to the group, encouraged Latino leaders to renew the culture by living the three theological virtues—faith, hope and charity.

We are being called to lead a greatly needed renewal, the archbishop explained. “We all want to move beyond this culture of secularism, materialism, and selfishness, with all its empty promises, false freedoms, and false roads to happiness. But in order to do that, our country needs to be evangelized again.”

Archbishop Gomez pointed out that this cannot be done solely by “elegant proofs and arguments.” Rather, we must work to change the hearts and minds of our countrymen by becoming “living examples of the Gospel we’re called to proclaim,” he said.

To do this, the archbishop urged his audience to practice the virtues. “Your mission, my friends—what the Church expects, what the nation expects, and what God requires—is that you become men and women of virtue.”

The key virtues to focus on, Archbishop Gomez said, are the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity (love).

“So when I say you must be men and women of virtue, I’m saying that you must be saints. And this isn’t something extraordinary. It’s what God created us to be. St. Gregory of Nyssa said: “The goal of the life of virtue is to become like God’.”

The prelate stated that we must live out these virtues by becoming, “ambassadors of faith, heralds of hope, and messengers of love.”

To be an ambassador of faith, he stressed, one must “stand up against the forces of our secular society” which isolates faith to only private matters.

This is a mentality that must be rejected, Archbishop Gomez explained. Faith is much more than “private prayer and personal devotion. Your faith must illuminate everything you do. From how you love your spouses and raise your children, to how you run your businesses, to the kind of policies and politicians you support.”

“God still has something to say to this world that he created. This world he shed his own blood to redeem. And he wants to make his appeal to the world through you. Through the witness of your life.”

The archbishop also called upon his audience to become heralds of hope, a virtue necessary because many people today “have accepted the lie that they don’t need God to be happy.”

Instead, “they put their hope in things that can’t last. They seek happiness in pleasures that will never satisfy. So many of them are like broken cups— desperately trying to fill themselves up, but never being able to.”

We must talk to our neighbors about our great hope – “about heaven and eternal life. Pray that the star of Christian hope will rise in the hearts of all our neighbors.”

“Finally, my friends, the archbishop concluded, “You must be messengers of love. We can’t say we love God if we aren’t working to help our neighbors in need. We can’t say we love our neighbors if we aren’t willing to share with them the whole truth about God and the human person.”

True love will always come at a cost. “Jesus taught us that love means laying down your life for your brothers and sisters. For you, laying down your life might mean risking your reputation, your job, your re-election. But we have the promise of our Lord. That if we lose our lives for the sake of his Gospel, we will find our lives forever in him,” Archbishop Gomez encouraged.

“You may be the only Christians your neighbors and co-workers come in contact with on a regular basis. This is a great responsibility. And a great opportunity, he emphasized.

The key to reaching these people, the archbishop explained, is to allow ourselves to undergo conversion. “You can’t read the Bible to them or recite the Catechism. Only a changed life will change lives. So what you must do is show them a life transformed by the Gospel. You must be men and women of virtue—ambassadors of faith, heralds of hope, messengers of love.”

The Archbishop of San Antonio finished his talk by calling the Latino leaders to evangelize. “Our nation is waiting for your witness. This new evangelization that proceeds from heart to heart, from soul to soul. An evangelization that once again opens our culture to the saving power of Jesus Christ.”

Homosexual activists praise Obama at DNC’s LGBT Caucus

Homosexual activists praise Obama at DNC’s LGBT Caucus

Denver, Aug 26, 2008 / 02:11 pm (CNA).- Several hundred Democratic National Convention delegates and observers gathered at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) Caucus in Denver on Monday to discuss their political concerns and how to advance them. Focusing on the promotion of anti-discrimination laws and same-sex marriage, the delegates expressed a favorable attitude towards Sen. Barack Obama, and praised his support for many of their positions.

Caucus members and attending media received copies of an August 25 letter from Sen. Obama in which he praised the LGBT Caucus for “pushing our Party and our country to achieve equality for all Americans.”

Telling the delegates the Democratic Party is looking to the caucus to help reach, register, and turn out “LGBT voters” in “unprecedented numbers,” he praised their organizing abilities. Further, Obama wrote, “Our party and my candidacy are immeasurably stronger” because of such organizing.

Claiming as members at least 274 of the more than 4,000 delegates to the DNC, speakers at the LGBT caucus reported that their delegate numbers had grown between 30 and 41 percent since the last convention in 2004. They claimed about one third of their 2008 caucus is composed of youth and about 40 percent are “people of color.” One speaker welcomed the changes from past convention caucuses, which he said had been “almost entirely white.”

Many delegates and speakers addressed the gathering from a stage set up at the venue, a ballroom at the Colorado Convention Center.

Caucus member Evan Low, a city councilman of Campbell, California, projected an attitude of confidence and predicted the LGBT Caucus’ issues are going to be “by far a non-issue” in a few decades.

“We are making headway,” another delegate claimed. “We know we will prevail!” still another said.

California delegate John Perez, a state representative for Los Angeles, said that organized labor in the state was “pro-LGBT” and in favor of same-sex marriage.

“I look forward to the day when transgendered persons will have basic civil rights in school, home, and health care,” said Melissa Sklarz, a transgendered delegate from New York.

The caucus was also addressed by Tim Gill, a billionaire philanthropist who has reportedly donated over $150 million to many homosexual political candidates and causes. Gill encouraged the audience to donate to the opponents of “anti-gay” legislators at the state level to prevent any opponents of homosexual causes from rising to prominence through their party’s ranks. He targeted the Republican Party especially, characterizing it as “controlled by bigots.”

Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema told the caucus how she believed the Arizona same-sex marriage ban was defeated in a strategy dedicated to the “three Ms” of message, messengers, and money. She said homosexual activists’ message had to be carefully tailored to appeal to swing voters, while they also had to choose with care whom they put forward as “messengers” to oppose same-sex marriage bans. She said money was the “most important thing.”

“The radical right is scared to hell about people in this room. They will fight tooth and nail to keep what they have,” she alleged.

“Our time is coming!” she told the caucus.

However, Sinema claimed there was a “new wave of anti-gay initiatives” being proposed because, in her view, opponents of homosexual activism know they are losing the marriage debate and are changing tactics. She said an Arkansas ban on adoptions by single people was driven by animus against homosexuals, while she also decried a Maryland ballot proposal she considered “anti-transgendered” for seeking to repeal certain anti-discrimination laws.

California delegate Shannon Minter, who presented arguments in the California Supreme Court case that imposed same-sex marriage earlier this year, charged that the pro-traditional marriage Proposition 8 is “intended to take away dignity and hope.”

Claiming the opposition to Proposition 8 is “the largest field ever mobilized,” he praised Sen. Obama as the first Democratic nominee who he said “unequivocally opposes” initiatives seeking to ban or overturn same-sex marriages.

Rick Stafford, the LGBT Caucus Chair, praised the new party platform as the “most inclusive LGBT platform in the Democratic Party’s history.” He also noted that a former executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council at the Democratic National Committee, Stonewall Democrat Brian Bond, has been appointed as the Obama campaign’s Director of Constituencies.

While noting that some caucus members had supported Obama’s Democratic primary opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton, he tried to rally delegates around the presumptive nominee.

“On Thursday morning our commitment will be unequivocal and enthusiastic about electing Barack Obama as president,” Stafford said.

A Course in Miracles

A Course in Miracles
Question from Kathy Sekula on 8/7/2008:

My niece was advised by a psychologist friend (Church of Christ) to do "A Course in Miracles." She asked if I knew anything about it. I do not. After looking at their web-site, I'm still not sure about its basis. What do you know about it? Is is compatible with Catholic teaching? If not, is there a good spiritual course that might be more Catholic. This niece is prone to depression, is very intelligent and concrete, and she questions everything. I'd like to see her read materials that help her strengthen her Catholic faith as well as her "inner strength." Thank you, Kathy
Answer by David Gregson on 8/25/2008:

I know next to nothing about the "Course." However, red flags go up in my mind when I hear the Course is based on private revelations from Jesus Christ, particularly when the recipient of these "revelations," Helen Schucman, is said to have "channeled" them. Sounds New Agey to me.

Private revelations are always subject to doubt unless they are investigated by Catholic authorities. I find nothing suggesting any connection between the "channeler" and the Catholic Church, such that her revelations would come under Catholic scrutiny.

The danger of embracing a system based on supposed revelations is that they may have an infernal rather than a heavenly source. Remember, as St. Paul writes, Satan can transform himself into an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).

For psychological as well as spiritual guidance, I suggest your niece read Fr. Benedict Groeschel, whose books and dvds are available from our Religious Catalogue section or most online book suppliers.

Predestination vs freewill

Predestination vs freewill
Question from adrian on 8/6/2008:

before i go directly to my question, i just would like to clarify something first.Jesus died to save mankind. So this gives us the assurance that everyone is already saved? And in connection to this,since we are already saved, then in one way or another, it has been what we are destined to be. then holding on to that fact that we are already predestined towards an end that Jesus had assured us, then what is still the purpose of free will?why is there a need for choices to us to make if no matter what choice we make, we are still sure that we will be saved? im really confused about this matter..thanks in advance..
Answer by David Gregson on 8/22/2008:

It's true that Jesus died for all mankind, but that doesn't mean all mankind will be saved. The death of Christ was sufficient for the salvation of all, in atoning for the sins of all who repent. That's where free will comes in. No one is forced to repent, and no one who does not repent will be saved.

It's true also that those who are predestined to salvation will be saved, but predestination to salvation includes our freely willing to repent and follow Christ. It sounds like a contradiction, that we could be predestined to will freely, but that's a mystery we can't solve. It's best to leave predestination in God's hands and concentrate on our part, which is to will to do what He commands.

No one can know whether he is predestined to salvation, but we have a good indication of our predestination as long as we are faithful in following Christ. If we fall away from Christ, we have grounds for concern, but not dispair. If we are concerned, it is because God is calling us back, and if we go back, confessing our sins and receiving absolution, then once again we may have grounds for confidence in our salvation.

Miraculous Medal

Miraculous Medal
Question from anon on 8/12/2008:

I received a Miraculous Medal in the mail from a charity group, not sure if it was Catholic or not. This Miraculous Medal has 16 stars on it, with 8 on each side. My question is, can I wear this medal or should I get rid of it?
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 8/24/2008:

If it was a miraculous medal, there is nothing wrong with you wearing it. I can't really give you any more of an answer, since I can't se the medal itself.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Question from Beverley Silva on 8/11/2008:

A group from my Parish is planning a one day retreat for women to be held in a rented hall. They want to end the day with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I am having a lot of trouble with this as I don't think this is the proper place to worship the Holy Presence of our Lord. I don't think there will even be a priest or deacon present. It is my understanding that the Blessed Sacrament may only be exposed where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is held. This last spring there was another one day retreat in a rented hall but our Pastor did have Mass at the start of the day. There was no Adoration, however. Also I understand that the Host may only be taken by a lay person, an Extraordinary Minister of Communion, when they are taking it to a person who is ill. Thank you and God Bless you for your answer. Beverley Silva, Santa Nella, CA
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 8/15/2008:

Well, while the place where adoration is taking place should be a dignified place, there is no rule that it has to take place where Mass occurs. Many youth retreats take place in gyms and there is adoration. But you're right in questioning the details. Someone (preferably a clergyman) should be there to expose and repose the sacrament. Will there be anything else going on in the hall while adoration is going on? I would hope for the best when it comes to trusting people will treat the sacrament with respect, but I think it's fair to ask them if they know the protocol for such a thing.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus
Question from Ruth on 7/1/2008:

Hello Please, could you tell me what each part of the icon Sacred Heart of Jesus represents?

Thank you!
Answer by David Gregson on 8/19/2008:

The heart is traditionally regarded as the seat of the emotions. Ancient Judaism went farther and saw it as the center of all spiritual activity. Even in our day the heart is associated with love. The Sacred Heart represents the love of Jesus, the love of God, for us, channeled through a human heart.

The cross on the heart shows His love to be sacrificial, not self-serving. The flame signifies that His love has a passionate intensity. The crown of thorns points to the mockery with which the love of Jesus is received. The wound recalls the spear on Calvary, when His loving heart was pierced by our sins.

Marian Apparitions - book suggestion?

Marian Apparitions - book suggestion?
Question from Cari on 8/6/2008:

I have become rather interested in Marian apparitions. I have been searching for a book about Marian apparitions approved by the Church. I doubt any one book could present and discuss all the Marian apparitions, but would like to find a book that at least discusses/presents a few apparitions.

Could you suggest such a book? Or a few good books that discuss different Marian apparitions?

Thank you and God bless!
Answer by David Gregson on 8/22/2008:

I suggest Those Who Saw Her: Apparitions of Mary, by Catherine Mary Odell, which is available in our Religious Catalogue section.

Predestination vs freewill

Predestination vs freewill
Question from adrian on 8/6/2008:

before i go directly to my question, i just would like to clarify something first.Jesus died to save mankind. So this gives us the assurance that everyone is already saved? And in connection to this,since we are already saved, then in one way or another, it has been what we are destined to be. then holding on to that fact that we are already predestined towards an end that Jesus had assured us, then what is still the purpose of free will?why is there a need for choices to us to make if no matter what choice we make, we are still sure that we will be saved? im really confused about this matter..thanks in advance..
Answer by David Gregson on 8/22/2008:

It's true that Jesus died for all mankind, but that doesn't mean all mankind will be saved. The death of Christ was sufficient for the salvation of all, in atoning for the sins of all who repent. That's where free will comes in. No one is forced to repent, and no one who does not repent will be saved.

It's true also that those who are predestined to salvation will be saved, but predestination to salvation includes our freely willing to repent and follow Christ. It sounds like a contradiction, that we could be predestined to will freely, but that's a mystery we can't solve. It's best to leave predestination in God's hands and concentrate on our part, which is to will to do what He commands.

No one can know whether he is predestined to salvation, but we have a good indication of our predestination as long as we are faithful in following Christ. If we fall away from Christ, we have grounds for concern, but not dispair. If we are concerned, it is because God is calling us back, and if we go back, confessing our sins and receiving absolution, then once again we may have grounds for confidence in our salvation.

Catholic-Muslim Group Aiding Philippine Peace

Catholic-Muslim Group Aiding Philippine Peace

After 40-Year Conflict in Mindanao Escalates

By Inmaculada Álvarez

MANILA, Philippines, AUG. 22, 2008 ( A panel of bishops and prominent Muslims are appealing to both the Philippine government and the leaders of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front to cease hostilities in the resource-rich Mindanao region.

The 12,000-strong separatist Islamic group has been fighting for greater autonomy in the region for some four decades. This month, the conflict escalated after the Supreme Court temporarily halted the signing of a breakthrough peace agreement with the group. On Thursday, the government said they would not sign the deal and more people were killed over night.

According to Amnesty International, civilians in the region are forming militia groups, and since the Supreme Court ruling, units from the MILF have occupied farms and homes and displaced another 150,000 people. Meanwhile, the government has asked for the arrest of several of the group's commanders.

In the midst of this, an appeal Wednesday signed by Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao and Hamid Barra, a representative of the League of the Ulemas of the Philippines, urged peace.

They appealed to both sides to seek an immediate truce, including pulling back troops, handing over hostages, and restoring order in the region of the southern Philippines.

The Catholic and Muslim leaders also called for urgent assistance to those displaced by the conflict, "with special attention to the poor, the sick, babies and young children." They also asked media to avoid publishing information that might be interpreted by combatants as a provocation.

In another joint communiqué, published Thursday by the news service of the Philippine episcopal conference, the Catholic and Muslim representatives of Mindanao condemned the violence in the Northern Lanao area, and the "unnecessary loss of human lives and properties."

"The incidents of armed conflict and violence in Northern Lanao have saddened us profoundly as religious leaders of Christian and Muslim communities," they wrote.

The religious leaders condemned the acts of violence and expressed their "profound sympathy" with the victims, while calling for justice "for those responsible for these crimes."

"At this time in which too many feelings of anger, fear, hatred and confusion are mixed, we appeal to our Muslim and Christian communities to remain calm and faithful to their call as creatures of the almighty and merciful God," added the statement.

The bishops and ulemas of Mindanao promised to do everything possible to "promote peace" in their respective local communities.


Meanwhile Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, president of the episcopal conference's Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, told L'Osservatore Romano that the role of the Catholic-Muslim panel is key in the pursuit of peace.

He noted that in recent days, the Philippine media has even speculated on the possible mediation of the panel in the conflict.

Without confirming that possibility, Archbishop Ledesma said that the group, though not political, "will do everything possible, within its realm, to arrive as soon as possible at an agreement that ensures a lasting peace in the country."

"What the conference can do is to contribute to the establishment between the two sides of a climate of mutual trust," helping to "focus better on the topics of coexistence and dialogue between Christians and Muslims," he affirmed.

He also cautioned against using the pretext of peace to provoke a separation between the Christian and Muslim populations, in an area where both have coexisted peacefully.

"The members of the conference of bishops and ulemas have been engaging for a long time in programs of interreligious dialogue and social service both for Christians as well as Muslims," Archbishop Ledesma said. "As so many religious and lay volunteers of both creeds are already doing, [both sides] must live and work together in mutual respect of their beliefs, traditions and peculiarities."

According to the 65-year-old prelate, the members of the Catholic-Muslim panel "not only have moral qualities and a solid knowledge of the reciprocal religious spheres," but are the ones "who know best the real needs of their faithful."

The prelate added that the Catholic Church of the Philippines "has always gone to the aid of the poor without distinction of creeds."

"In this charitable action," he added, "[the Church] has always been helped in Mindanao by a number -- at first small but ever more numerous -- of Muslim religious leaders and lay volunteers, who are conscious of the role of religions in society."

Marriage to someone who already has kids..

Marriage to someone who already has kids..
Question from Ben on 8/21/2008:

Reverend Father,

As I am interested in marriage a question has come up. Am I as a man permitted to marry a woman who already has children from a previous marriage or "relationship" assuming all other canonical matters are resolved?

I'm not currently looking to do so but I feel I should disqualify a woman who already has kids because of the problems and confusion it would cause for the children, much less for me. Thank you.
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 8/21/2008:

There is nothing prohibiting you from marrying a woman who already has children, provided that you both are otherwise free to marry.

It is perfectly fine for you to be cautious about this and be realistic about the difficulties and challenges that might be involved.

Vandalized churches unbowed: St. Michael’s in Georgetown re-sanctified after desecration

Vandalized churches unbowed: St. Michael’s in Georgetown re-sanctified after desecration

.- By Mike Lang, The Dialog

Pastors at two parishes in Delaware said recent vandalism at their
churches was disappointing but the congregations are eager to move on.

Father Dan McCloskey, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Church in
Georgetown, was the main celebrant at a Mass of Reconciliation on Aug.
14 to rededicate the church after the tabernacle was removed and
several items stolen during an early morning burglary Aug. 8.

He said the gravity of the situation first hit him when he saw the
damage and again at the Mass, attended by approximately 100
parishioners. “Some were really emotionally touched by the whole
thing,” said Father McCloskey, who will mark his 10th anniversary
at St. Michael’s this October. “I felt empowered by the
congregation being there because it’s not something you do every
day. You want to say, ‘We’ll go on. It’s not going to
stop us.’”

The damage was less severe at St. Polycarp’s in Smyrna but the
feelings were much the same, said the pastor, Father Tom Flowers. St.
Polycarp’s was vandalized sometime after
1 a.m. Aug. 15. The sacristy was ransacked, donation boxes emptied and items taken from the parish kitchen.

Police do not believe the two crimes are related. “Everything
was so disheveled,” Father Flowers said. “Thank God the
tabernacle wasn’t touched, but you feel violated.”

A Smyrna man, 32-year old Brian Morris, was charged with burglary,
attempted theft, criminal mischief and possession of burglary tools
after he allegedly entered through a kitchen screen. Morris, a St.
Polycarp parishioner, is accused of trying to steal a chalice, a
pyx (a vessel that holds Communion that is taken to the sick), a
portable microphone, hearing devices for the impaired, holy
water, Father Flowers’ rosary, sugar packets, peanut butter and

St. Michael’s is re-sanctified

At St. Michael’s, the tabernacle was removed from the church
and consecrated hosts were scattered on the ground outside, causing the
diocese to declare the church desecrated. A gold-plated chalice was
stolen, along with two ciboria and a luna, which is a holder inside the

The Catholic Encyclopedia defines desecration as “the loss of
that peculiar quality of sacredness.” Material objects designed
for the purpose of worship assume a sacred and inviolable character.

When that character is markedly changed, those objects are unfit for use until they are rededicated.

Also, in that case, according to Canon Law 1211, the church is not
to be used for worship until the spiritual, if not physical, damage is
repaired by a penitential rite. Fortunately, said Msgr. Joseph Rebman,
the diocesan vicar for pastoral services, the instances of vandalism at
churches in Delaware and on the Eastern Shore are so rare that he had
to research the rite known as the Reconciliation of a Church.

While St. Michael’s celebrated a Mass, the parish could have
had a quiet, private ceremony, Msgr. Rebman said. “It’s a
very short service,” he said. “In fact, we had to put it
together because it’s so rare that we have to use it.”

The bishop or a priest designated by him stands outside the church
and blesses the doors and front walls with holy water. After a prayer,
he enters the church and processes to the altar, where he recites a
litany of the saints. He then sprinkles the walls of the church,
significant interior furnishings and the location where damage was done.

The hosts found outside on the ground were wrapped in a cloth and
buried under a statue on the parish grounds, Msgr. Rebman said. This
ensured that no one would step on the buried hosts. Hosts that fall on
the ground are normally dissolved in water and poured into a sacrarium,
a sink that empties under a church, but the number of hosts involved at
St. Michael made that impractical.

Joan Ilgenfritz, the administrative assistant at St. Michael’s
and also a parishioner, said she took the damage personally.
“It’s as if your home or something very personal to you has
been desecrated,” she said.

Ilgenfritz said other items damaged included a broken door, ripped screens and a broken door handle on a reconciliation room.

Father McCloskey said the reconciliation service was a morale booster.

“It was uplifting for me, lifting me out of my doldrums. It
was powerful to realize for one moment the sacredness of all that we
do,” he said.

Security system pays off

The break-in at St. Polycarp was captured on the parish’s
four-month-old security system cameras, something Father Flowers had
installed after several minor incidents over the
past few years.

“That, unfortunately, is the deck we’ve been dealt.
It’s to protect the people and to protect the sanctity of the
Eucharist,” he said.

Some parishioners who attended Mass on Friday for the Assumption
were in tears upon hearing the news. That is understandable, he said,
because parishioners see the parish as their home and because it is a
“special and sacred place.”

Some of the items Morris allegedly placed into a bag he picked up in
the sacristy have special meaning for Father Flowers. His mother gave
him the chalice, and Pope John Paul II blessed his rosary. He said he
reblessed them even though they were not desecrated “just so that
I could use them again without getting the willies.”

Ironically, St. Polycarp had intended to hold a prayer service last Friday for the people of St. Michael’s.

“We didn’t expect we’d be quite so much in solidarity with them,” Father Flowers said.

Vatican Says "Yahweh" Not to Be Pronounced

Vatican Says "Yahweh" Not to Be Pronounced

Calls on Practice Used by 1st Christians

WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 19, 2008 ( A note from the Vatican has reiterated a directive that the name of God revealed in the tetragrammaton YHWH is not to be pronounced in Catholic liturgy.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, in a note informing prelates of the Vatican directive, said the indications "do not force any changes to official liturgical texts," but might cause "some impact on the use of particular pieces of liturgical music in our country as well as in the composition of variable texts such as the general intercessions for the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments."

Commonly used songs with phrases such as "Yahweh, I know you are near," will need to be modified.

The June 29 Vatican message, from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, clarified that the name of God revealed in YHWH was not pronounced by the first Christians, following the tradition already in use.

It explained: "The venerable biblical tradition of sacred Scripture, known as the Old Testament, displays a series of divine appellations, among which is the sacred name of God revealed in a tetragrammaton YHWH -- hwhw. As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: 'Adonai,' which means 'Lord.'

"The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the so called Septuagint, dating back to the last centuries prior to the Christian era, had regularly rendered the Hebrew tetragrammaton with the Greek word Kyrios, which means 'Lord.' Since the text of the Septuagint constituted the Bible of the first generation of Greek speaking Christians, in which language all the books of the New Testament were also written, these Christians, too, from the beginning never pronounced the divine tetragrammaton."


The Vatican goes on to note that this practice had "important implications" for New Testament Christology.

"When in fact, St. Paul, with regard to the crucifixion, writes that 'God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name" (Phil 2:9), he does not mean any other name than 'Lord,' for he continues by saying, 'and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord' (Phil 2:11; cf. Isaiah 42:8: 'I am the Lord; that is my name')," the Vatican note explained.

"The attribution of this title to the risen Christ corresponds exactly to the proclamation of his divinity," it continued. "The title in fact becomes interchangeable between the God of Israel and the Messiah of the Christian faith, even though it is not in fact one of the titles used for the Messiah of Israel."

"Avoiding pronouncing the tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the Church has therefore its own grounds," the Vatican concluded. "Apart from a motive of a purely philogical order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the Church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context, nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated."

Obama Determined to Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Obama Determined to Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research One of Obama's First Moves as President

WASHINGTON, August 14, 2008-- Sen. Obama's campaign communicated that expanding federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research would be one of his first moves as president, as reported by David Brooks of the "New York Times".

This decision was made despite the recent breakthrough which provides an ethical alternative to embryonic stem-cell research. Last year, scientists revealed the possibility of reprogramming regular human skin cells to obtain embryonic-like stem cells, a process which achieves the same result as embryonic stem-cell research without destroying life.

Embryonic stem-cell research has not produced a single cure, whereas other ethically acceptable alternatives have produced over 70 cures and treatments.

Sister Faustina's Confessor to Be Beatified

Sister Faustina's Confessor to Be Beatified

Church to Recognize 2nd Married Couple as Blessed

ROME, AUG. 20, 2008 ( Sister Faustina's confessor and St. Thérèse's parents are among the six who will be beatified in the next two months.

The group also includes an Italian founder and two Italian priests, one of whom was martyred in Yugoslavia.

Polish Father Michal Sopocko, Sister Faustina Kowalska's confessor and spiritual director, and principal promoter of the revelations the nun received on Divine Mercy, will be beatified Sept. 28 in Poland. Father Sopocko (1888-1975) also founded the Congregation of Sisters of Merciful Jesus.

Another witness of Divine Mercy, Vincenza Maria Poloni (born Lugia) (1802-1855), founder of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy, will be beatified Sept. 21.

Father Francesco Bonifacio (1912-1946), martyr and victim of ethnic cleansing in Communist Yugoslavia, will be beatified Oct. 4 in Italy.

Diocesan priest Father Francesco Pianzola (1881-1943), founder of the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Queen of Peace, will also be beatified that same day.

Finally, as previously announced, Louis and Marie-Zélie Martin, parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, will be beatified on Mission Sunday at the Cathedral of Lisieux. Mission Sunday is celebrated this year on Oct. 19. St. Thérèse, together with St. Francis Xavier, is the patron of missions.

The Martins are the second married couple to be beatified by the Church. Italian spouses Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi were beatified by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 21, 2001.

Blessed Cross

Blessed Cross
Question from Brian on 8/11/2008:

I wear a cross that was my father's until he passed away about 5 years ago. I know that it was blessed for him, because my mother sent me to the priest when she bought it for him to have it blessed. Now, when he passed it came to me. Does the Cross have to be re-blessed because the ownership changed? I've been wearing it for 5 years and didn't bother having it blessed since I took it myself prior to my father's passing.

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 8/20/2008:

No, religious articles that are given as gifts do not need to be reblessed.

Friday abstinence on a Holy Day of Obligation

Friday abstinence on a Holy Day of Obligation
Question from Judy on 8/11/2008:

Hello, Our family chooses to abstain from meat each Friday as our sacrifice in commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ on Good Friday. However, I have been told that when a holy day of obligation falls on a Friday, abstinence (or another sacrifice) is not necessary on that day. Since the Assumption is this Friday, does that mean we do not have to abstain this week in celebration of the Solemnity?
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 8/20/2008:

If your family is abstaining as family penance, then canon law does not apply. It is your own self-imposed penance, which is fine.

However, it is inconsistent with the nature of a solemnities to fast.

Six new cases for sainthood under consideration by Archdiocese of Guadalajara

Six new cases for sainthood under consideration by Archdiocese of Guadalajara

Mexico City, Aug 21, 2008 / 12:01 am (CNA).- The newspaper of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Mexico reported this week that Auxiliary Bishop Jose Trinidad Gonzalez has confirmed that the archdiocese is studying the lives of six persons who could be added to the list of Mexican saints in the near future.

Bishop Gonzalez said two cases correspond to Josefa and Coleta, two young people from the town of Degollado who were captured during the Mexican revolution. Instead of giving to attacks against their purity, the two jumped into vats of boiling soap at a factory.

Another case is that of an anonymous young woman who was taken prisoner during the Revolution and was mutilated for refusing to have sexual relations with one of the commanders. The commander later converted to Christianity through the intercession of the young girl.

The archdiocese is also studying the case of Rafael Valdez, a father of two priests who offered his life in exchange for the release of his son Angel, who was a public official in the town of Villa Guerrero, where he was captured and sentenced to death.

The other cases are of the founder of the City of Children, Father Roberto Cuellar, Marist Brother Basilio Rueda, and Friar Antonio Alcalde y Barriga of Guadalajara.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus
Question from Ruth on 7/1/2008:

Hello Please, could you tell me what each part of the icon Sacred Heart of Jesus represents?

Thank you!
Answer by David Gregson on 8/19/2008:

The heart is traditionally regarded as the seat of the emotions. Ancient Judaism went farther and saw it as the center of all spiritual activity. Even in our day the heart is associated with love. The Sacred Heart represents the love of Jesus, the love of God, for us, channeled through a human heart.

The cross on the heart shows His love to be sacrificial, not self-serving. The flame signifies that His love has a passionate intensity. The crown of thorns points to the mockery with which the love of Jesus is received. The wound recalls the spear on Calvary, when His loving heart was pierced by our sins.

Abortion is a crime and no one has “right” to have one, says Guatemalan cardinal

Abortion is a crime and no one has “right” to have one, says Guatemalan cardinal

Guatemala City, Aug 20, 2008 / 01:04 am (CNA).- The Archbishop of Guatemala City, Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruno, said this week that abortion is a crime and the murder of an innocent human being. Nobody has a “right” to get one, he stated while nothing thatall Guatemalans must defend life from conception to natural death.

In his homily on Sunday, the cardinal explained that abortion is simply the “killing of a child in his mother’s womb.” Those who practice this infanticide “reduce the meaning of human life to a simple fetus.”

After noting that life begins at conception, the cardinal stressed that “everyone has the right to be born, and anything deliberately done to obstruct this right to life is a crime.”

Referring to pro-abortion and feminist groups who are working to make abortion a “right” for women, Cardinal Quezada stressed that abortion will always be a crime and that “there are some things we must call by their name. A crime can never be turned into a right,” he said.

“No one, under any circumstances, can assume the right to directly kill an innocent human being,” the cardinal underscored.

“It is just as serious to kill a 10 year-old child or a 20 year-old adult as it is to kill a baby in his mother’s womb,” he went on.

Recently in Guatemala, 71 lawmakers signed the “Book of Life,” an initiative intended to safeguard the right to life of children in their mother’s wombs. A small group of abortion supporters protested the measure, claiming it would affect the “rights of women over their own bodies.”

Blessed Mother's death

Blessed Mother's death
Question from Tim on 8/14/2008:

How did the Virgin Mary die? I always thought she was raised into heaven before death.
Answer by Catholic Answers on 8/14/2008:


We don't know how the Virgin Mary died or if she did indeed die. The Church is silent on the matter. All that we know is that, when her earthly life was over, she was raised into heaven and glorified, body and soul. That is the dogma of the Assumption, which the Church will celebrate tomorrow on August 15.

Recommended reading:

Immaculate Conception and Assumption

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Can anybody besides a priest say a Catholic Mass?

Can anybody besides a priest say a Catholic Mass?
Question from Theresa on 8/18/2008:

Who besides a Catholic priest may say a Mass? A friend of my sister's, who has left the priesthood, found out about a terminally-ill relative of ours and he said, "I'll say a Mass for you; you know, I can still do that." Can he? We are confused.
Answer by Catholic Answers on 8/18/2008:


Any validly-ordained priest (not just Catholic, but also Orthodox) can celebrate Mass (or the divine liturgy, as Eastern Christians call it). But a Catholic priest must have faculties (i.e., permission) to do so licitly (i.e., lawfully). A priest who has left the priesthood ordinarily no longer has permission to celebrate Mass and should not do so.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Most religious believers don’t think discovery of alien life would threaten their faith

Most religious believers don’t think discovery of alien life would threaten their faith

Berkeley, Aug 19, 2008 / 04:00 am (CNA).- While some news writers and commentators from scientific backgrounds presume that the discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI) would undermine religion and religious belief, a new study reports that most religious believers do not think such a novel discovery would shake their faith. One mainline Protestant respondent to the survey even commented “Hey! I'll share my pew with an extraterrestrial any day.”

The findings come from the Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey, conducted by Ted Peters, professor of systematic theology at both Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Center for Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley California. Also written by research assistant Julie Froehlig, the survey notes several prominent commentators who hold that the discovery of ETI would shake religious belief.

“It might be the case that aliens had discarded theology and religious practice long ago as primitive superstition and would rapidly convince us to do the same,” Arizona State University physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies has said, according to the survey report. “Alternatively, if they retained a spiritual aspect to their existence, we would have to concede that it was likely to have developed to a degree far ahead of our own. If they practiced anything remotely like a religion, we should surely soon wish to abandon our own and be converted to theirs.”

However, the responses given to the Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey show few religious believers say that the discovery of alien intelligence would affect their religious beliefs.

The survey report summarizes the hypothesis it is testing as: “upon confirmation of contact between earth and an extraterrestrial civilization of intelligent beings, the long established religious traditions of earth would confront a crisis of belief and perhaps even collapse.”

The survey reports that the evidence gathered “tends to disconfirm this hypothesis.”

Surveying 1,325 persons from around the world, the researchers categorized respondents’ religious beliefs as non-religious, Roman Catholic, mainline Protestant, evangelical Protestant, Jewish and Buddhist. Categories with a sample size of less than 35 were not used in the survey.

The researchers asked respondents whether the confirmed discovery of intelligent beings living on another world “would so undercut my beliefs that my beliefs would face a crisis.”

Less than ten percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, excepting Jews, who agreed or strongly agreed at a rate slightly over ten percent. While about ten percent or less neither agreed nor disagreed, 89 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Among Catholics, eight percent agreed or strongly agreed while 82 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

One Catholic survey respondent commented, “I believe that Christ became incarnate (human) in order to redeem humanity and atone for the original sin of Adam and Eve. Could there be a world of extraterrestrials? Maybe. It doesn’t change what Christ did.”

“Within the scope of Christian theology, it appears that little if any beliefs preclude the existence of extraterrestrial beings,” the survey report says. “Their presence would at most widen the scope of one’s understanding of creation and create some puzzles for how Christians understand the work of salvation.”

When asked whether they believed the confirmed discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence would throw their religious tradition into a crisis, 78 percent of all respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed, with only 11 percent being in agreement or strong agreement.

Catholics disagreed or strongly disagreed at a combined total rate of 66 percent, while 22 percent agreed or strongly agreed.

Respondents were then asked that even if their own religious traditions were unaffected by such a discovery, they believed other religions’ traditional beliefs would be undermined to such an extent that those religions would face a crisis. Overall, 35 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed while 41 percent agreed or strongly agreed. Among Catholics 40 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, while 30 percent agreed or strongly agreed.

Curiously, the non-religious respondents composed the group most confident that the discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence would undermine traditional beliefs and cause a crisis in religion. While only 20 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, 70 percent were in agreement or strong agreement with such a statement.

Trying to explain the disparity between religious and non-religious respondents’ estimates of the fragility of religion, the report writers said “it appears that people who embrace a traditional religious belief system do not fear for their own personal belief; nor are they particularly worried about their own respective religious tradition. A shred of evidence suggests that believers in one religious tradition might be more inclined to impute fragility to other religions to which they do not subscribe or about which they know little.”

“Non-religious people seem to know too little about religious people, because they are mistaken in their assessment of the fragility of religious beliefs.

The report writes that the survey does not confirm the hypothesis that “the major religious traditions of our world will confront a crisis let alone a collapse” in the event of the discovery of alien intelligent life
“Furthermore, it appears that non-religious persons are much more likely to deem religion fragile and crisis prone that those who hold religious beliefs,” it says

The Born-Alive Act and the Undoing of Obama

The Born-Alive Act and the Undoing of Obama
By Hadley Arkes

In an interview with the Rev. Rick Warren, Barack Obama was asked about abortion, and he remarked that it was a serious, vexing “moral” question. On the matter of when human life began, he said, that “whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity … is above my pay grade.” In the hands of Obama the meaning of “moral” is recast: What does it mean to say that this is a “moral” question and yet it must depend on judgments that are wholly subjective and personal, and which cannot be judged as true or false? For Obama, a “moral” question is one for which reason can supply no judgment, and the judgment may turn finally turn on nothing more than self-interest.

The question of global warming is a tangled, scientific question, generating serious controversy, and yet Obama has never confessed any disability that prevents him from consulting the testimony, the presentations of evidence, and trying to form a judgment. What prevents him then from consulting the textbooks of embryology or obstetric gynecology, or asking anyone who knows, in an effort to inform his judgment? The textbooks will tell him of course that human life begins with the merger of male and female gametes to form a zygote, a unique being with a genetic definition quite different from that of either parent. If that is too much to absorb, he may retreat to the point readily understood even by people without a college education: A pregnancy test is a sufficient and telling sign that new life is present and growing. We know now that this life does not undergo any change of species from its beginning to its end. Conceived by humans, it cannot be anything other than a human life. And if there was nothing there alive and growing, an abortion would no more be indicated or relevant than a tonsillectomy.

Now if that is truly above Mr. Obama’s “pay grade,” then the presidency must surely be beyond his competence and his pay grade.

As I have mentioned already in these columns, not a single Democrat in Congress voted against our Born-Alive Infants’ Protection Act (2002), a bill that sought simply to protect the life of a child who survived an abortion. But Barack Obama actually led the opposition to the same bill as it was offered in the legislature in Illinois. Obama has claimed now that he voted against the bill in Illinois because it lacked a clarifying amendment that had been voted for the federal bill: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being ‘born alive’ … “

But as it turns out, this amendment had indeed been added to the bill in Illinois in March 2003, in a Senate committee chaired by Obama. Nevertheless, Obama voted finally to kill that bill in committee. And yet why should this be a surprise? Doug Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee rightly observed that the amendment had never made a difference to the substance of the bill. For the very point of the bill was to confer protection on the child when it was no longer in the womb, when the child could no longer encumber any “interests” of the mother. The bill sought to establish the point that even a child marked for abortion has, at some time, a claim to the protection of the law. And if that is the case, what was the difference between the child out of the womb and the child several minutes, several weeks, several months earlier?

The National Abortion Rights Action League saw at once the principle that lay at the heart of the bill, which is why they opposed it when it was introduced in July 2000. Barack Obama saw precisely what those activists saw. He voted against the Born-Alive Act, as he said, because he thought it would threaten, down the line, the right to abortion. But there lies the depth of his radicalism. For the sake of protecting that right to abortion, for any reason, he was willing to withdraw even the protection usually offered by the law for children born alive. The one exception would be: the children marked for abortion. For Obama, the right to abortion is nothing less than the right to an “effective abortion” or a dead child. For all of his nimbleness and his Ivy League bearing, that is the unlovely truth of his position; the truth that the media cannot quite grasp or report.

The Born-Alive Act was truly “the most modest first step” of all in legislating on abortion. Its purpose was to plant premises in the law and to break out news that the public would find jolting. A new group has formed now under the banner of with the purpose of bringing out to the public what Barack Obama has revealed about himself as he has confronted that bill. There is something to be savored in the notion that this measure, so modest, meant simply to teach, may turn out to be a critical force this year in the unraveling of Obama.

Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of Jurisprudence at Amherst College.

Attending a wedding between Catholic and non-Catholic

Attending a wedding between Catholic and non-Catholic
Question from Ann on 7/1/2008:

Three members of my extended family are being married soon to non-Catholics without Church approval. Two will be married in Protestant churches, and one in a county park. I returned the RSVP by saying I will not attend -- no reaon given. Privately I've told my immediate family that I consider these sins, and that I cannot celebrate a sin. Family members label me an archconservative, and say that I am not being charitable to the family. I say that I would rather offend the family than offend God. Please tell me if I am wrong in my thinking. Thank you.

Sincerely, Ann

Answer by David Gregson on 8/18/2008:

No, you are absolutely right. Unfortunately, it has become customary to label someone who keeps the Faith as an "archconservative" or a "fundamentalist," as if it were better to accept only what one finds convenient in one's religion.

Marriage of a Catholic to a non-Catholic without a dispensation is an invalid marriage. It's a mockery of the sacrament of matrimony. However, in order to preserve family ties, and perhaps increase your good influence in the future, you could attend the reception.

jehovah witnesses believes

jehovah witnesses believes
Question from Ndidi on 7/1/2008:

What do the Jehovah witnesses believe in that we catholics do no agree with, and what role does Jesus play in their believes.

Please do also have articles on this topic.Thanks
Answer by David Gregson on 8/18/2008:

Here are some articles on Jehovah's Witnesses in our Document Library:

The God of the Jehovah's Witnesses

History and Techniques of the Jehovah's Witnesses

Incredible Creed of the Jehovah's Witnesses

apostalic blessing

apostalic blessing
Question from laura on 7/1/2008:

Hi-what exactly is an apostalic blessing and when exactly is it said-I have tried researching and think that I am not looking in the right areas on the website-thanks-laura
Answer by David Gregson on 8/18/2008:

See Father Gantley's answer (12-17-2007) to the question, Apostolic Pardon.

Catholics who support abortion should not receive Communion, says Archbishop Burke

Catholics who support abortion should not receive Communion, says Archbishop Burke

Archbishop Raymond Burke

Rome, Aug 19, 2008 / 10:00 am (CNA).- The prefect of the Apostolic Signature, Archbishop Raymond Burke, said this week that Catholics, especially politicians who publically defend abortion, should not receive Communion, and that ministers of Communion should be responsibly charitable in denying it to them if they ask for it, “until they have reformed their lives.”

In an interview with the magazine, Radici Christiane, Archbishop Burke pointed out that there is often a lack of reverence at Mass when receiving Communion. “Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is a sacrilege,” he warned. “If it is done deliberately in mortal sin it is a sacrilege.”

To illustrate his point, he referred to “public officials who, with knowledge and consent, uphold actions that are against the Divine and Eternal moral law. For example, if they support abortion, which entails the taking of innocent and defenseless human lives. A person who commits sin in this way should be publicly admonished in such a way as to not receive Communion until he or she has reformed his life,” the archbishop said.

“If a person who has been admonished persists in public mortal sin and attempts to receive Communion, the minister of the Eucharist has the obligation to deny it to him. Why? Above all, for the salvation of that person, preventing him from committing a sacrilege,” he added.

“We must avoid giving people the impression that one can be in a state of mortal sin and receive the Eucharist,” the archbishop continued. “Secondly, there could be another form of scandal, consisting of leading people to think that the public act that this person is doing, which until now everyone believed was a serious sin, is really not that serious - if the Church allows him or her to receive Communion.”

“If we have a public figure who is openly and deliberately upholding abortion rights and receiving the Eucharist, what will the average person think? He or she could come to believe that it up to a certain point it is okay to do away with an innocent life in the mother’s womb,” he warned.

Archbishop Burke also noted that when a bishop or a Church leader prevents an abortion supporter from receiving Communion, “it is not with the intention of interfering in public life but rather in the spiritual state of the politician or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law in the public sphere as well.”

“Therefore, it is simply ridiculous and wrong to try to silence a pastor, accusing him of interfering in politics so that he cannot do good to the soul of a member of his flock,” he stated.

It is “simply wrong” to think that the faith must be reduced to the private sphere and eliminated from public life, Archbishop Burke said, encouraging Catholics “to bear witness to our faith not only in private in our homes but also in our public lives with others in order to bear strong witness to Christ.”

A Meditation on Evil

A Meditation on Evil

by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.

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The meditation on evil is not itself morbid or somber, though evil itself is. Socrates said in The Republic that virtue can know vice but vice cannot know evil. The penalty for vice is the vice itself, the not seeing the good in its fullness, the good that ought to be there.

Turning away from God would not be a defect except in a nature meant to be with God. Even an evil will then is proof of the goodness of nature. Just as God is the supremely good creator of good natures, so he is the most just ruler of evil wills, so that even though evil wills make an evil use of good natures, God makes a good use of evil wills. — St. Augustine, The City of God, XI, 17.

The devil has a huge problem with sacrificial love. He knew God, but he did not love, so he would not serve. With the Genesis narrative, there is a choice between the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The principle of the Tree of Life, as I see it, is sacrificial love; the principle of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is power. The essence of evil is a choice of the heart for power rather than the Cross. My husband once told me of some priest who told him of a theory only a theory of course — that the devil rebelled when he was shown a vision of the crucifixion. He said, in effect, I will not serve a God who belittles himself in such a manner. There are those who do not serve because they are so mixed up and poorly formed that they cannot find God. But those who take a deliberate stance against Him usually do so because they hate the Cross. This probably equals what you call wanting to find their own way to God. They want a way which is not self-sacrificial but self-promoting. — Tracey Rowland, Cambridge, England, 21 October 1997.


In the Second Book of The Republic, we find a brief but impressive remark about the relation of God and evil. Socrates is concerned about the poets, especially Homer, who picture the gods indulging in activities distinctly improper and indeed quite wrong. Socrates does not deny either the incidence of evil in the world or its attraction, but he does not want even to hint, as Homer does, that God causes or participates in evil. Socrates discusses this matter with Adeimantus. But by showing that God does not indulge in evil things, Socrates seems to limit the power of God, who, like Machiavelli's Prince, should be able to do either good or evil, as suits His needs. Socrates, however, asks, "Then good does not cause all things; it is responsible for the things that are good; but not responsible for evil?" Adeimantus agrees to this distinction. Socrates adds, "Nor can God, since He is good, cause all things as most people say. He is responsible for a few things that happen to men, but for many he is not, for the good things we enjoy are much fewer than the evil. The former (good things) we must attribute to none else but God, but for the evil we must find some other causes, not God" (#379b-c). Such a passage surely provokes us to wonder about good and evil in their origins. On the one hand, the implied thesis, as indicated, seems to limit the power of God by denying Him causality over evil, while, on the other, it indicates that the cause of evil is not God or the good. Yet, it does not seem valid to maintain that God is "limited" if He does no evil. Rather He is freed to be good, with no taint of evil. But if the cause of evil is not directly God, it must be found to be properly located in what is not God, yet in what is capable of itself bearing responsibility. If evil were merely a necessity, it would seem, we should not be so infuriated by its very existence among us, if indeed it can properly be said to "exist." The search for a proper "cause" of evil other than God, in any case, stands near the top of all philosophic inquiry about what is.

Strictly speaking, however, that about which we can "meditate" is restricted to a something, to some good, to some reality, to something that is. What is not a "thing" or not grounded in being, we can only come to grips with in terms of a relation to actual things or in terms of a conscious negation of things that are. As such, "nothing" is simply not thinkable. What is not, is not. This negative affirmation is the best we can do for it. But it does affirm what is true. It is true that what is not, is not. Negating the reality of something is a conscious act that takes place in our mind, in its considering the meaning of things. Things that need not be — among which things we must ultimately include ourselves — cause us to wonder. What would it mean, we ask ourselves, if such things that need not exist were, in fact, not in existence, were not outside of nothingness, as they are outside of nothingness when they do exist?

Thus if we endeavor to meditate on "nothing" or on no thing, we have first to imagine or experience some real thing. We begin thinking only when we notice and affirm that something is. Then, in our own further reflections, we can deprive what is of its existence; we can negate its existence. We know in this case of our own negation that reality is not the way we are imagining it when, in our minds, we deny existence to something that is. Even to think about what does not exist, we have to form a contrary-to-fact image of what is not. This image substitutes for the normal reality or form of that about which we think when we consider anything that is. We are quite aware of what we are doing and of the problematic status of what we ponder. Our thought denies something about the reality about which we think, all the while we know that what is denied in our minds does in fact exist.

Any meditation on evil is an aspect of the meditation on nothingness. It is a meditation on what specifically ought not to exist as it concerns what does exist. Evil is always related to existence, not simply to nothingness. Nothingness, as such, is not evil. If there were only nothingness, there would be no evil since evil always depends on something that exists. Most human beings, even early on in life, will have recognized that something is evil or disordered in the world or, even more strikingly, in themselves. They will have blamed someone for it, excused themselves of it, or been angered about something that ought not to be. The very act of blame or anger or excuse implies some initial recognition of a lack of correspondence between what ought to be and what is. Without this awareness of a comparison between an ought and an is, we could not properly blame or praise anything. But we feel justified in our anger at something that ought not to be, but is. Our anger is, or should be, grounded in reality and its disorder. In the beginning, however, most people, even while knowing they are influenced by it, will have no very sophisticated idea of what evil is. Yet in practice, unless they are intractable determinists who maintain that whatever is must be and must be as it is, they will acknowledge that some things or aspects of reality ought not to exist, or ought not to exist in a peculiar way, even when they do exist, and are known to exist, in the way they do. The reality of evil is not to be minimized or denied as a mere illusion or misperception. Some things could have been and ought to have been otherwise even though they are now what they are. The "presence" of evil falls among the things that could have been and should have been otherwise.


Common sense experience remains the place where we have to begin when we consider more formally or thoroughly evil itself along with other central issues that impinge on our lives. Accounting for reality and for our place within it is a basic requirement of what it is to be a complete human being. We are to "examine" our lives, as Socrates told the Athenians in The Apology. Much of mankind's history and several of its philosophers can be our guides, without overlooking the not-to-be-denied possibility of our choosing bad guides. Simply put, no matter who we are, certain things are found in reality that we should have deliberately and systematically thought about. In particular, we should consciously think about the troubling aspects of reality that we identify as evil or wrong. Far from being dangerous to think properly or accurately about evil, it is more of a danger not to seek to understand what it might be or what might be said about it. An education that neglects a meaningful effort to account for evil is a most incomplete education, as no life can fail to confront its perplexing effect on us.

No education is adequate that neglects a fundamental aspect of reality from its ken. Not to have been puzzled by evil indicates a very inattentive and shallow mind. It is no accident, then, that St. Thomas, at the very beginning of the Summa Theologiae, a book itself designed for beginners, intimates that evil is one of the major reasons given for belief justifying the non-existence of God. Notice that with this consideration, Aquinas denies neither God, things, nor the problem. The implication is that if we do not understand evil properly, we will never understand God properly. Evil, at first sight, then, by being a reality so obvious that no one would ever bother to deny it, seems to imply that God, as all good, cannot exist if evil exists. No real God, no good God, it is urged, would allow a world in which evil exists. "Is this position true?" we ask ourselves.

What St. Thomas affirms, however, is that what God has in mind may be so great that it involves "allowing" the possibility of evil. To "allow" is not the same as to "cause." The fact of evil, in other words, may indicate, not the inability of God to prevent it, but His ability to overcome it in His own way in order that something greater might come to be pass. In this sense, thinking about evil is also an aspect of thinking of God. God Himself, it is implied, is bound by a certain order or logic in His own being. Evil, in this context, causes us to wonder what this "greater" good that "allows" evil might possibly be. We already notice, for starters, that the problem of evil forces us to think more clearly about what we think we already know. The very rationality of our being includes the account of evil as "possible" but not good or justified as evil. Paradoxically, as in the case of all revelational positions, thinking about evil enables us to think better period.

No doubt, we begin any discussion of evil with the empirical and unavoidable realization that at least something is radically wrong in our lot, otherwise the problem would not occur to us. But it does occur to us. In fact, it leaps out at us. At the same time, we realize that not everything is disordered, that things in themselves are not evil. We are not Manicheans who think that matter, for example, is to be identified with evil. We do not seek to purify ourselves by escaping from material things as if somehow they were, as such, the cause or definition of evil. Augustine tells us that this Manichean notion that matter is evil is oftentimes a most useful theory if we are trying to justify our own evil acts. It is useful because it puts the blame on something other than ourselves, other than our wills, where it more properly belongs. But Augustine also saw that this explanation of blaming matter would never really work. It was only an excuse for not locating the true source of evil within us, in our wills, not in our being or in our bodies or in the structure of the world.

We understand, at least sometimes, that we can and do use good things in a wrong and evil way. Good things, finite things, are capable of being used wrongly not of themselves but by those who have the power to use them for anything at all — who have "dominion" over them. Indeed, it may well be a duty to use them. In the Book of Genesis, we see it affirmed, from the revelational tradition, that no material thing, including ourselves, as such, is evil. Everything that is, is good. Or to recall Genesis, God looked on all things as He created them and saw that they were not, in spite of being composed of matter, evil, as the Manicheans taught, but precisely "good." The teaching of Genesis remains the single most important text for any full understanding of evil. And it begins by affirming that things are not evil in what they are, in their existence. This affirmation includes the human being, limited or finite as he is, and all his given faculties. Evil does not lie in the being of man or in the being of creation itself. Rather, the possibility of evil lies in the fact of created will, of genuinely free will, which itself, as a faculty, is as such good, even when it chooses evil.

If things are not evil, just what "is" evil anyhow? Something mysterious seems ever to envelop it. The whole messy enterprise surrounding evil, we would like to think, ought not to exist. We long for a purer philosophy, if not for a purer world. We look for a way out. Yet we are loathe to think that nothing at all should exist if the price of eliminating evil means that nothing finite, nothing capable of doing evil, could exist The price of finite, rational existence includes, though it does not necessitate, the possibility of evil. The classic tradition from Plato and St. Augustine affirms that evil is not a thing, but a lack of something, a privation. What ought to be there, for some reason of chance or deliberation, is missing.

We are accustomed to hear it said that the devil is evil or that Hitler was evil. But as such, neither the devil nor Hitler is evil in what each is. Unless each remains good in his substantial being, in what he is, he can neither exist nor have any evil attached to him. Evil always exists in, is a parasite of, something good. Ultimately, this dependent status is why evil, or better why its effects, can be overcome. Evil always remains what it is. We can never call what is evil good, because what is evil is never, as such, good. The great lie in the soul is the affirmation that evil is good.

The enduring good that bears evil, however, affords this possibility that good can come about through the good that supports evil's reality. Out of this remaining good, a return path to good is at least possible, though never automatic. It too must be chosen, affirmed. Evil itself remains. It never itself becomes "good." Evil remains eternally what it is, evil, though the being who put what ought not to be into existence can change, can recognize the evil and its definition. And Socrates pointed out that to suffer evil is not to do evil. If someone chooses to do evil, someone else will suffer it. The suffering caused to good beings by someone else's evil is itself potentially redemptive or restorative both to the one suffering the evil and to the one who causes it in the first place, but only on the condition that evil is recognized and affirmed as what it is, evil.

Yet, clearly, some massive truth stands behind the affirmation that the devil is evil or that Hitler was evil. It is as if, which is the case, our being is first given to us for a purpose that is not simply the continued existence of what we are, no matter it is that we do. What we are presupposes and grounds what we do or how we act because of or in pursuit of what we are. Our existence is itself directed to some purpose that we do not concoct for ourselves unless we claim, as we can, a complete autonomy over ourselves, an autonomy we cannot, in fact, prove ourselves to possess. Our being is ordained to acting, to doing, to knowing. Perhaps it is better to say that we are to direct ourselves to what we are, to the completion of what we are, to choose what we will be on the basis of what we are. We have to will our being in this sense by willing what is good and not by rejecting it or by misusing it. "It is never right to do wrong," as Socrates said. We associate evil with the choiceful rejection of what we are, of what we are invited to be, a choice that is possible in each of our free actions. Every free act bears the potentiality of bringing us to the lack of being that is evil, just as it can bring us to the fullness of being that is good.


The classical writers remind us of the difference between what is called "moral" and "ontological" evil. Not unduly to confuse ourselves by such technical words, both sorts of evil are similar in that they both imply the lack of something that ought to be present. Thus, if I see a three-legged dog, I conclude that some evil has happened to the dog. That is, he is lacking something that he should have but does not. If I do not already know what a dog is, I will never notice that anything is missing if it only has three legs. Until I see other dogs, I will likely think that three-leggedness is proper to dog nature. Let us say that a tree fell on the dog's leg during a storm and cut the leg off. The storm was not evil; the tree was not evil; the falling was not evil; the dog was not evil. The lightning struck the tree and broke the branch. The branch fell and broke the leg of the dog that happened to be running along under it in the storm. Everything here is operating as it should according to its own nature.

The evil in this case of the three-legged dog was fortuitous; it was caused accidentally. Two or three identifiable causes, each doing what it was made to do, crossed at a given time and place. The accident is not directly willed by any of the natural causes, but it still happened because each cause remained what it was. The loss of the leg is evil in the sense that something that ought to be there in the dog is missing. The dog now limps about and cannot run as before. Again, the dog was running down the street for his supper; the lightning struck the tree, the branch fell, the dog lost the leg. Everything was acting according to what it is.

Yet, something identifiable did happen. The dog lost his leg because the tree's branch fell. The dog is missing what ought to be there and the tree is missing its branch. But that dogs are hungry, that lightning exists and strikes branches of trees, that unsupported branches fall, that they fall on what is there below, these things are good. Everything here is doing what it is supposed to do. We do not want the natural laws that govern these actions as such to be other than they are, for on them the universe of interrelated actions exists.

Moral evil also indicates the lack of something that ought to be there. Moral and physical evil stand within the same general definition of what is lacking in something good. Moral evil implies knowledge, will, culpability, choice. What is lacking in moral evil is the order of good that ought to be there, that ought to have been, could have been put in our actions. If, in a business transaction, I act unjustly, the relation between the other person and myself lacks what ought to be there. The other person is affected by my not placing in my act what should be there. The other person receives an act that is deprived of something that ought to be there — he is deprived of his "due." He in his turn may respond to my evil either by killing me, or by suing me, by suffering the loss bitterly, by forgiving me, or by changing the law to prevent me in the future.

My relationship to the other changes because of my act depriving him of justice. He recognizes this lack of what is due to him. He, rightly in this case, blames me for it. The what-ought-not-to-be-there, the lack, continues in the world until its consequences are stopped, or at least altered or mitigated, by forgiveness or punishment or by the restoring of what ought to have been there. In another sense, however, consequences can never be wholly stopped. The fact that the disorder occurred remains. It is possible, however, that some good can come, not from the evil in the action as such, for it is non-being, but from the even truncated good in which all evil must exist, including moral evil.

How is it possible that we do evil things? Remember, if we are to be blamed for doing evil things, we must somehow show how this evil act proceeds out of our human powers, out of our reason and will, in such a manner that we are its cause. The moral evil we do refers to those acts we deliberately put into the world in which something due is lacking. Something ought to be there but is not there because we choose not to put it there. What process do we go through in such cases? How do we cause evil to happen in us and through our choices?

Explicitly or, mostly, implicitly, we erect an argument whereby we justify, at least to ourselves but potentially to the world, our acts; that is, we give reasons for them. This "giving reasons" is why, when anyone is accused of doing something wrong, what he invariably does, unless he acknowledges the evil as wrong, is to give a reason, plausible or not, for why he acted as he did. This reason is itself contained in our initial situation of knowing about several ways to do things or several alternatives to guide our actions or at least the possibility of acting or of not acting at all. Socrates said that, given the alternative of death or doing evil, death was better because we did not know whether death was evil, but we did know that choosing to do evil was evil. We establish what we mean by good by indicating what we will die for. To be willing to die for nothing, thus to stand for nothing, also defines our being. That we have such alternatives in our knowledge always before us whereby we can choose good or evil, is not, as such, evil.

The reason-giving person implicitly uses his power of reason to claim that his reason is the right or governing one not only of his actions in this particular case before him but of all actions in similar cases. The reason he gives for his action is intended to explain his integrity before the bar of reason. By giving his reason, he stands before the bar of mankind's reason. This claim of "reason" is why we can debate or dispute any avowal that would justify an act because we all have the same norm or standard of reason against which to test what is claimed to be reasonable. And the given reason is valid as far as it goes. No one can act without some claim of good or reason in his actions. Evil explanations, in this sense, are parasite to the good in which they exist.

Moral evil does not come about because we acted according to the practical syllogism or argument whereby we sought to put something reasonable in its own order into our actions. Rather moral evil comes about because, in giving our reason to the world and to ourselves for our acting as we did, we fail to mention that we suppressed or avoided examining or illuminating our action on the broader scale in which it really exists. We ate something because it was good, tasty. It was good. But we did not want too much to inquire sufficiently about whether what we ate belonged to someone else. We caused a "lack," as it were, in and by our actions which, to be complete, needed also to consider the justice as well as the pleasure of what is acquired by our act. This lack now becomes, as it were, a missing "part" of our act and incipiently of our character, which is formed by repeated acts.

Our act forever goes forth into existence missing what it should have had. Good is crippled, lacking, by our deliberate choice, something that should be there. It butts up against reality, as it were, with this lack, this what-ought-to-be-there but is not. This lack, as it were, continues to "exist" down the ages and makes a difference in the world that is. Once upon a time, there was a dog with a missing leg who was seen limping along by a little girl. Her name was Sarah. Her father was the king. Because she was so touched by the little crippled dog in the storm, she decided to give her life to help the suffering. Her name is now St. Sarah . . . Evil somehow occasioned good.


The French philosopher Jacques Maritain brought up the famous query from Origin about whether the devil could, by God's mercy or power, be saved. This effort to "save" the devil is perhaps the most sophisticated form of the denial that evil has any real and ultimate consequences. If the devil can be saved, who cannot be? After all, it seems unfair of God to be so tough on poor Satan. Besides, does it not impinge on God's power and even more on His kindness if He did not do all He could to rescue from damnation even the worst cases? God did do, of course, all He could do, before the event. If He does anything after the event, however, after the final refusal to acknowledge that evil was evil, it would seem, God was not serious in His initial prohibitions against doing evil.

What is implied in this consideration, moreover, is that since the devil is by definition the worst case, it would be much easier for God to save us persistent human sinners who have nowhere near the brains and subtlety of a Lucifer. We like to think that it is liberal or benevolent or compassionate to lessen any finality to any punishment for our acts. We like to think this mitigation or reversal can be done without lessening human or divine dignity as each is originally conceived. The punishment of evil, it is implied, ought rather, post factum, to arouse pity in God who is asked to renege on His justice or on His affirmations about the seriousness of our every-day and lifetime choices. In the punishing of Lucifer or of ourselves, we want to accuse God of not being "compassionate," that modern virtue that forgives all, even the devil, by eliminating any criterion for judging actions that are said to have lasting ramifications.

Maritain's solution was one that sought to keep the essential outlines of the basic Christian position on the eternity of Hell and its dire punishment. That is, he does not deny Hell's existence or possibility. He does not even deny its eternity. What he wanted to suggest was a way for God, as it were, to get off the hook by using His own omnipotence. Maritain did not want to deny the devil's pride, but he did want to save him from its ultimate consequences.

Maritain acknowledged that it would be impossible for God to give Lucifer, because of his abiding pride, the Beatific Vision, for which he, like every rational creature, was in fact created. So Maritain proposed something less heinous than Hell but still something apparently compatible with God's goodness and justice. What God could do would be to put Satan in limbo, that place explained in an earlier theology as the location where unborn, unbaptized babies end with that kind of happiness due to finite natures not destined to participate in the elevated inner life of the Trinity. This place was the natural home that would be due to human and angelic nature had it not been granted, from the beginning, the inner life of God as its final and first purpose. This graced purpose, however, seemed to need for its accomplishment, the active power of free choice, in lieu of baptism. Since this choice was lacking in the case of Lucifer, limbo was proposed as a reasonable solution to what appeared to be an insoluble dilemma, the apparent conflict between God's justice and His mercy.

Thus, Maritain thought by analogy, that the devil might be relieved of any thing that could be properly called punishment (how angels suffer is itself a question). He would be restored to that natural state of good angels were they not offered the Beatific Vision, which in itself was not due either to their nature or to human nature. Maritain conceived this position out of a spirit that was uncomfortable with the notion of eternal punishment and its supposed dampening of the good name of God's mercy. Maritain, of course, only offered this unusual position as a sort of musing or speculative postulate in his Approches sans entraves. (1) He would not have been surprised if he were wrong, but still he felt it would be nice perhaps if God could loosen up a bit with regard to the devil's final condition of eternal punishment and deprivation of the Beatific Vision.

We know from Genesis that the devil is a liar. He told Eve not to believe God, all that stuff about death and the eating of the forbidden fruit. Eve, no doubt, had no idea what death might really be like. She was given to understand by the devil that this prohibition of eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was proposed by God out of envy, that He wanted to keep Paradise to Himself. This explanation was, of course, another lie. "But why would the devil even want to lie?" we wonder. What he knew for certain in his own mind was that he himself was not God.

We notice that the devil in Genesis is following the classic pattern of giving reasons for what he does. These reasons, rational as they appear at first, however, are given in such a way that they do not present the whole picture of the act. When Adam and Eve do accept the deal they are offered, the consequences follow as God, not as the devil, explained to them. But they do not become, as such, as beings, evil. God will use their given being, its goodness, as a basis to repair the damage of their evil in another way. But God's way will not "coerce" them. It will be after the manner of the kind of beings they are created to be. He teaches the free creature to accept and acknowledge the evil of his act. He leads him to acknowledge his error and to see what was really the good initially offered for him to do, a good that was subsequently lacking because of the free creature's choice.


The devil, as just remarked, knows that he is not God. His pride may conceivably make him envious or jealous of God, but his intelligence will not permit him to deny the fact that he did not create himself. There was an old novel by Robert Hugh Benson, entitled, I think, Will Men Be Like Gods?, a title that serves to illustrate what is at stake here. What is it to be "like gods." Clearly, pride, the root sin, means that we make ourselves to be the cause of the distinction of good and evil. This was the root temptation in Genesis. It is a temptation not so much to be God, but to be "like" God, that is, to choose our way to our destiny, not that of God. Not even the divinity, however, can make what is good to be evil. God is not an arbitrary power, as some late medieval theologians like William of Occam seemed to imply. This god as arbitrary power, already hinted at in The Republic, became the "Leviathan" of Hobbes when refashioned for modern political purposes wherein the state becomes the exclusive source of the definition of good and evil, a distinction based on its own arbitrary power.

Maritain's rather amusing effort to show compassion on Lucifer by speculating about God's power does not, in the end, appear to maintain the real dignity of the free creature, angel or man, as well as the simple leaving of the devil where he is destined to go as a result of his own choice and his own definition of what is good and evil. Even if we might imagine that somehow Lucifer has landed in limbo, much to his surprise, wherein he undergoes no angelic "suffering," the fact will remain that he has rejected the gift he has been offered. His being will permanently "lack" what ought to be there. This alone will suffice to define eternal suffering, both of not knowing what it was that God had in mind for those who were obedient and of being locked in oneself as the only definition of reality when one knows that he did not cause himself.

The positive side, as it were, of Lucifer's choice, however, remains. If God intended that other finite creatures, besides Himself, participate in His inner life, it could only be on His, not on the creature's terms. But, presumably, it would not have been worth God's effort or energies had He not allowed His inner life to be open according to the only terms in which it could be possessed. Since God is love, the only way for Him to become the end or happiness of some being that is not God is for this being freely to choose God in each of his free acts. The form of the virtues, in this sense, remains charity. The free creature's love of God has to be just that, free, and even more, actually chosen as good, as worthy, as infinitely attractive because of what God is.

A philosophic meditation on evil, in other words, is likewise a meditation on good because evil cannot be understood without first understanding that good can be missing from our inner order because of our own choices. The meditation on evil is at the same time a meditation on the ultimate importance of our lives and of our daily actions. When Socrates said that it is never right to do wrong, he implied that it is always right to do what is right when it is presented to us. The presence of what is good causes not merely to wonder how it happens to be there without our having to put it there, but also to make us wonder about our own incompleteness in our completeness. We are in our very being restless beings, not because we never encounter what is good, but because we encounter it so incompletely. When we seek this completion solely by our own power and definition, we claim a divine power in the little things of our ordinary lives.

"Do you want me to feel secure when I am daily asking pardon for my sins, and requesting help in time of trial?" St. Augustine asked in one of his sermons (#256).

Because of my past sins I pray: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. How can all be well with people who are crying out with me: Deliver us from evil? And yet, brothers, while we are still in the midst of this evil, let us sing alleluia to the good God who delivers us from evil.

We are not secure. We are tried. Things are not always well.

It was Augustine who told us in The Confessions not to attach ourselves to "all those beautiful things" in the wrong way, in an evil way. Yet, it is, in the end, he who tells us to "sing alleluia" because we can be delivered from evil. The meditation on evil is not itself morbid or somber, though evil itself is. Socrates said in The Republic that virtue can know vice but vice cannot know evil. The penalty for vice is the vice itself, the not seeing the good in its fullness, the good that ought to be there. The evil that we do stays in the world. Out of it, out of the good that it lives upon, comes, if we choose it, a yet greater good. In his brief answer to the question of whether the existence of evil made the existence of God impossible, Aquinas was right to cite Augustine: "God, since He is the greatest good, in no way would permit evil to be in any of his works unless He were so omnipotent and so good, that He would be able to bring forth good even from evil." We do not find our own way to God, but God finds His way to enable us, even when we fail the good, even when we do evil, to choose the good and in choosing it, to recognize that it is not of our making, hence we can love it.


1. Jacques Maritain, "Idées eschatologiques," Approches sans entraves in Oeuvres Complètes Maritain (Paris: Editions St. Paul, 1991), Vol. 13, pp. 441-78.