Skip to main content

December 2004 - QA

Q & A December 2004

Question 53- Can the Pope lose his office? Part II

Question 52- Canonical Status of SSPX

Question 51- The Seventh Mansion

Question 50- Can the Pope lose his office?

Question 49- The Greek present tense of 1 John 1:7

Question 48- Who is Neuchanezzer of Judith 1:4

Question 47- Discussion on Evolution and Genesis 4

Question 46- Hahn -- A Hypothesis

Question 45- Concordance?

Question 44- Evolution

Question 43- What is meant by the Serpent "crawling on its belly" in Genesis 3:14?

Question 42- Proving the earth is heliocentric, using the Bible

Question 41- Gehenna

Question 40- Question regarding God's omniscience, Part III

Question 39- Book of Judith: Was Nebuchadnezzer King of Assyria?

Question 38- Baptism of Desire

Question 37- St. Nilus Prophecy

Question 36- Laying On Of Hands

Question 35- Pope John Paul II -- What are the Positives? Pt II

Question 34- Is the Church Too Rich?

Question 33- Fr. Gruner vs. Rick Salbato, and Audiotape on God's Character

Question 32- The Toledoths of Genesis

Question 31- Who is a Modernist Today?

Question 30- Jerome and the Deutero-canonical books, Part II

Question 29- Pope John Paul II -- What are the Positives?

Question 28- Regarding God's Omniscience, Part II

Question 27- Geocentrism

Question 26- Regarding God's omniscience

Question 25- Is the Eucharist just a Meal, according to Mane nobiscum Domine?

Question 24- Did Mary take a Vow of Virginity; Is the H. Spirit the Spouse of Mary?

Question 23- I NEED an answer that only you can provide!!!!

Question 22- Can We Pray with Non-Catholics

Question 21- Assisi and Your Discussion with James Likoudis

Question 20- What Do You Think of Scott Hahn?

Question 19- Questions about the Deutero-canonical books, Follow up

Question 18- Dinosaurs, Cain's Wife and the Church against Evolution

Question 17- Help! Ecumenism Run Amuck in Grand Rapids

Question 16- Questions about the Deutero-canonical books

Question 15- Follow up on Abortion Question

Question 14- Mr. Latar's Erroneous Understanding of God's Anger

Question 13- Is "Prima Scriptura" a correct Catholic view of Scripture?

Question 12- Inquiry on Minkowski's "Space-Time"

Question 11- Please add my link to your site

Question 10- Is Catholic Answers Correct about Priests and Homosexuality Correct?

Question 9- Was Abortion Allowed for Catholics Before 1869?

Question 8- Is Catholic Answers' answer to "No Salvation Outside the Church" Correct?

Question 7 -A Difficult Situation

Question 6 - Does the New Discovery of Frame Dragging Prove the Earth Rotates?

Question 5 - Mr. Latar Responds Back Concerning Hahn, Part 2

Question 4 - Mr. Latar Responds Back Concerning Hahn

Question 3 - Church History Book

Question 2 - Space Navigation

Question 1 - Prayer in common: How to reconcile Unitatis Redintegratio and Ut Unum Sint

Question 53- Can the Pope lose his office? Part II

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

You said: "The pope can say or write something that is erroneous without losing his papal office."
Question: How can you say this when there is specific law within the Church dealing with the issue of a Pope being a manifest heretic? Example: If Pope John Paul II came out and taught that the Mass was NOT truly a propitiatory sacrifice. That would be a heresy. How can you say that he would not immediately lose His office, according to the Laws of the Church? I am aware that Pope Honorius did not formally teach the Church his heresy, but for you to say that the "Pope can say or write something that is erroneous without losing his papal office" is got me a little confused. How can you say this? Can you please clarify a little more for me?

In Christ,


R. Sungenis: He would not lose his office because the papal office is not subject to the personal judgments of either clerics or parishioners. What you are proposing would lead to total anarchy. Anyone at any time could claim that the pope was a manifest heretic, and begin convincing people not to submit to him. None of us have that authority. Those that think they do are very deceived, and they will be judged by God accordingly.


Question 52- Canonical Status of SSPX

Mr. Sungenis,

I have been in discussions lately with a few folks regarding the canonical status of the SSPX. These folks vehemently take the stance that the SSPX is not in schism and that the Vatican has never formally said that they were. While I understand that one my fulfill their Sunday obligation, in the strict sense, by attending an SSPX chapel as well as tithe, I am still and have always been under the impression that the SSPX is in schism. I guess my question is this: What is the Vatican's official stance with regard to the SSPX?

Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Rick Orr

R. Sungenis: Rick, until if and when the Vatican herself officially clears up this matter, then we have to assume that the SSPX is in schism. The SSPX is not the authority here, in fact, they have no authority whatsoever. God only placed one supreme authority here on earth, and it resides in the papal chair. The last word we have on the SSPX, officially, is Ecclesia Dei, written in 1988. The pope hasn't changed his mind since then, and I don't think he ever will. There are, however, various canonists both inside the Vatican and outside who think the SSPX is not in schism. They certainly have the right to their opinion and they can bring it to the Holy Father for his approval. But so far, nothing has happened. Until something happens, then Ecclesia Dei is our authority, not Bishop Fellay.


Question 51- The Seventh Mansion

Under the assumption that God calls everyone to the 7th mansion (not just monastic/cloistered)...why do so few make it even to the 4th mansion especially among solid, daily-mass going Catholics - especially those that practice the faith seriously? What separates the haves from the have-nots?

R. Sungenis: The "have nots" fail to take Isaac up to the mountain and prepare themselves to stick the knife in their son's chest. In this life, each of us will be called to have our own "mountain" experience with God. Those that fail will live in Christian mediocrity.


Question 50- Can the Pope lose his office?

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

Thank you I will do my best. Maybe a suggestion (and I am only suggesting here) would be to do a piece on your website on this. The reason being - I have not seen one website or heard one Apologist/Theologian give a complete rebuttal to such an organized piece in favor of sedevacantism. This could be a huge help to a whole lot of people. I know with your background and expertise you would know all the Councils, Popes, Saints, Theologians he references. To date I have not seen anyone give a complete answer to such an organized point by point argument.

R. Sungenis: I'm sorry, but I've already answered these questions many times on our QA forum. You need to check it.

The bottom line is this. The pope can say or write something that is erroneous without losing his papal office. That case was already proven with Honorius, since he wrote a heretical statement (Christ had one will) to the bishop Sergius of the east. Honorius was condemned both by Pope Agatho and Pope Leo II, as well as the Emperor, and the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth ecumenical councils, but no one ever said he lost his office as pope. Pope Agatho said Honorius abused his papal authority, but never lost his papal authority. Pope Leo II said Honorius "polluted" the papacy, but nothing about losing his office. That, and that only, is the precedent God has given the Church. Any quotes from saints or theologians on other ways to handle or classify a heretical pope is pure speculation, since the Church has never dogmatically declared what her procedure would be other than what occurred with Honorius.


Question 49- The Greek present tense of 1 John 1:7

Mr. Sungenis

I was wondering if you could give me a little help with a verse I have been struggling with lately.

1 John 1:7 says:

but if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

Several commentaries that I have read pointed out the fact that "cleanses" is in the present tense and thus denotes an on going or continual action of cleansing by the blood. Being that as long as we are walking with christ we are continually being cleansed. This sort of a view seems to me to go directly against the concept of offering the mass to apply the sacrifice of Christ to our lives and cleanse us from venial sins. If this sort of an interpretation were true then it would seem that the mass would then be inconsequential, since we would be cleansed at each moment anyway. I know this can't be the case, yet I can't find a way to get around this idea specifically in this verse.

any help would be greatly appreciated


R. Sungenis: Kyle, the Protestants are always trying to use the Greek present tense to prove such things, at least when it is convenient for them. But the Greek present tense means no more in regards to continuing action than other languages. If I say in English, "The tree grows," it is understood that the present tense verb "grows" is a continuing action. If I say, "The soap cleanses me," I mean that as long as the soap is applied it will cleanse me. The same can be said for 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The word "confess" is in the present tense also, and it means that as long as we confess our sins, God will forgive them. So, any attempt to make a theological demarcation and declare that the Greek present tense in 1 John 1:7 means that we can never fall from salvation is just simply bad exegesis.


Question 48- Who is Neuchanezzer of Judith 1:4

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

Could you please substantiate your claim that the Nebuchdnezzar in the book of Judith is not the king of Babylon? This is the first time I have heard this argument. Has this been the consensus throughout the history of the Church? Can you provide any references supporting this position?
Thanks very much and God bless.

Pete K.

R. Sungenis: Another reference to your question is the work:

Discours sur l'histoire universelle
by Jacques Bénigne Bossuet, 1627 - 1704

Dessein général de l’ouvrage

He writes: Saosduchin fils d’Asaraddon, appelé Nabuchodonosor dans le livre de Judith, défit en bataille rangée Arphaxad roi des Mèdes.

Translated from the French: Saosduchin son of Asaraddon known as Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Judith beat Arphxad king of the Medes in an ordered battle.


Question 47- Discussion on Evolution and Genesis 4

Hi Phil, I would explain chap 4 by saying that they had the technology, given by God but then they lost it at the flood. If you have Foundation, there is a passage in there that talks about how easy it is to lose technology. Everyone thinks that if there were 8 people they could re-invent the world in a few tens of thousands of years. That simply isn't true. The tasmanians were 4000 people who were isolated from the rest of humanity for 10,000 years. Their technology got worse and worse as time went by. Eventually, when Europeans discovered them, they had a technology which was compared with that of the chimpanzee by McGrew, an anthropologist.

Now, do I have evidence that they had that technology? No. Many believe that mankind couldn't be that old because the small brained creatures who lived 4-5 million years ago would be too stupid. This was recently disproven when H. floresiensis was found in Indonesia who was a descendant of H. erectus, had the brain the size of a chimp but made
fire, stone tools, hunted and according to legends had a language. Just like us.

Robert Sungenis: I find it interesting how Mr. Morton can make arguments based on the literal chronology presented in Genesis 4-7 (that is, that there was a Flood in Genesis 7 and it came after Genesis 4), but then totally ignores the literal chronology presented in Genesis 5 and 11, and thus allows himself to speak about man existing 4-5 million years ago. At most the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 can bring us back to about 10,000 BC. Is there an explanation for this discrepancy in your view of biblical chronology, Mr. Morton?

Phil: I don't know about the Genesis 5 and 11 chronologies, most biblical scholars will say there are many gaps there, right?

R. Sungenis: Yes, there are gaps but the gaps are limited in scope. They don't allow millions of years. At most they allow only a few hundred years. If Dr. Morton wants to believe that man existed 4-5 million years ago, that is his prerogative, but he can't use the Bible to back it up.

Phil: Glenn's book is probably the most well documented book I have seen on these issues from a science standpoint, that still treats Genesis literally and respects the literal existence of Adam/Eve. Its a great book. Not that I have a lot of these books. Another new one I'm getting soon is by Falk/Collins Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds of Faith and Biology (Intervarsity, 2004).

R. Sungenis: First of all, evolutionary science hasn't proven even one of their tenets, so it is rather presumptuous to use "science" as the benchmark here. As for interpreting Genesis literally, you can't do that and believe in evolution, since there is nothing in the Bible that speaks of evolution.

Phil: As for Genesis 4, the references to metal working (4:22), farming and livestock raising (4:2), and I forgot to mention sophisticated musical instruments (4:21), again seems to definitively put this in the 5000 to 4000 BC range or later, at least for Cain/Able. We only have anthropological / archeological evidence for these things around this time at the earliest.

R. Sungenis: Wonderful. Now that real science, since it is not basing things on speculation but on actual discoveries in archeology. In fact, a 4000-5000 BC date coincides very well with a creation date for Adam at 10,000 BC and a Flood at 5000 BC, which can be arrived at rather easily from the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies.

Phil: Glenn's response is that these early hominids that acted human millions of years ago had that technology, but there is no scientific evidence for it. As for H. floresiensis, I don't know if we know enough about them, but still they had stone tools, so that fits with our known technology time line, right? They lived during the early Stone Ages.

R. Sungenis: Glenn doesn't know there were "early hominids" millions of years ago. His system of dating is based on assertions he hasn't proved. He is assuming evolution is right, and then he makes his educated guesses as to where the so-called hominids would fit in.

Phil: If we take the anthropological data that Glenn does seriously, there were no bronze/iron tools, or sophisticated musical instruments 4-5 million years ago, nor even 10,000 years ago. These first start showing up around 5000 to 4000 BC or later if I understand right. So unless there is a huge gap between Adam/Eve and Genesis 4, that puts Adam/Eve 4000 to 5000 BC. Or least the authors of Genesis believed Adam/Eve to have lived during that time.

R. Sungenis: Agreed.

Phil: Maybe I'm being too simplistic here trying to meld science and Genesis. As I said, Miller and Haught (and Lamoureux I think) take another path and interpret Genesis as "myth" -- but myth that contains religious truth.

R. Sungenis: Of course, because Miller and Haught have accepted the Documentary hypothesis and Historical Criticism as the truth. But these have been shown to be full of false assumptions.

Phil: Robert Sungenis is a Catholic geocentrist but I included him on this list of those I respect in terms of taking Genesis literally, maybe a little too literally (sun rising, earth not moving). :-) If you two want to continue, I'll watch.

R. Sungenis: A Catholic is supposed to take it literally unless science can prove that it can't be taken literally. If you can show some scientific proof for heliocentrism, then I'll join you, and this discussion will quickly come to a congenial end. :)


Question 46- Hahn -- A Hypothesis?

I've been pondering several things after the discussions on your website about Scott Hahn. Hahn's tapes/books were very instrumental in my journey to deeper Catholicism (I was a "cradle Catholic" who, while never technically leaving, really didn't "get it") and my wife's own conversion to Catholicsm a year before our marriage. Needless to say I was a little concerned when I read a few of the articles that put some of his theology into question. What was said made a lot of since, and made both my wife and I wonder where else Hahn may have erred. Thankfully, you've since had more than 1 Q & A where you mentioned the good things about Hahn, which has definitely put me a little more at ease.

I wanted to run by my theory on Hahn's theology. I apologize in advance if you, or another person, has already touched upon this:

In Hahn's conversion story, he paints a picture of scripture study as being the prime mover for him towards Catholicsm. At the time, I believe he felt he was entering some new territory and realizing things that nobody else had. Of course, he discovered that the Catholic Church already had these beliefs and this led him eventually to joining the Church.

I think it's apparent that he's devoted to studying the scripture and I don't want to take anything away from his passion towards that endeavor. However, I wonder if Hahn doesn't relish the idea of discovering "new" things in scripture. It's like he finds a thread and just runs with it. While as a Protestant this led him to Catholic teaching; perhaps it now is hindering some of his theology, since he is no longer finding that Church Father that has already taught the same thing.

What do you think? Do you think there is any validity to my hypothesis? I'm saying this as an admirer of Dr. Hahn, but it's a thought that sort of jumped into my mind and outside of my wife, I figured I'd share it with someone.


R. Sungenis: I don't know for sure. I can't read Scott's mind. I would say this, however. It is very exciting to read Scripture and find something "new." It is a natural feeling. I experience it all the time. Just today I had an exhilarating experience, discovering an interpretation I never saw before. This will happen to any avid student of Scripture, and it is a good thing. It makes us want to dig deeper to find the next truth. But, there is a risk in such a venture, since in discovering something "new" you may be wrong in your discovery. I think this would be especially the case with a man like Scott, since he seems to have such a vivid imagination. Along with the penchant to "read between the lines," as it were, these assets could quickly turn into liabilities if they aren't checked and double-checked. This is what is so great about being Catholic. We always have either Oral Tradition, previous Scriptural exegesis from the Fathers or Medievals or the Magisterium to keep us straight.


Question 45- Concordance?

Mr. Sungenis,
What is your preferred bible concordance?
Thank You,

R. Sungenis: Youngs Analytical Concordance for Engligh users, and Wigram's Hebrew or Greek Concordance for the biblical languages. Both are tied to the King James Bible.


Question 44- Evolution

Mr. Sungenis, I went to go see a Catholic creation science presentation the other day. It was fine, but I was wondering if this is the only strategy that has been employed thus far, I mean presenting the evolution theory and then punching it full of enough holes that it looks like swiss cheese. Do creationist actually have a model of things or is it just like the bible says (I believe what the Bible says, what I mean is with greater details than the quick run through the bible gives us)?

Soldier in Christ ,

PS My brother is a scientist and says that if one could prove that the way things are dated was proven to be false, the whole model of evolution would come crashing down. What do you think about this?

R. Sungenis: Jamie, there are dozens of books by Creationists putting flesh onto the bones of the Genesis account. The Institute for Creation Research would be a good place to start.

Yes, if the dating system is fallacious, evolution is proven wrong. We have already shot holes in their dating system, however, in paleontology, the geologic column and radiometric dating.


Question 43- What is meant by the Serpent "crawling on its belly" in Genesis 3:14?

Dear Robert,
In reading Genesis Chapter 3 to my children as part of our family
Advent devotions, the question came up whether animals could speak before the Fall, since Eve’s conversing with the serpent is treated in such an ordinary manner. A Catholic Scripture commentary we have says that the devil entered the serpent to tempt Eve and therefore the serpent could talk. Is this the right way to understand this? Is it likely that animals could ordinarily talk of their own faculties before the Fall? Also, did God’s punishment of the serpent regarding belly crawling and dirt eating apply to all animal serpents and their descendants or only to the serpent in the incident? Or does this punishment apply to the devil? Thanks.

God bless,
Bernard Schnaufer
Marion, IA

R. Sungenis: Bernard, there is no indication in Scripture that the animals, in and of themselves, could talk. The only reason the serpent was made to talk is that Satan possessed the serpent's body, an action we know that spirits can do based on many other Scriptures.

The main question would be: why would Satan choose a serpent from which to communicate with Eve? The most likely reason is that Satan knew that Adam named the animals based on the characteristics of the particular animal (Genesis 2:19). Adam would have understood the serpent to be a wise animal, and named it accordingly. This is affirmed later in Scripture when, for example, Jesus says we are to be "as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves" (Mt 10:16).

So, knowing that Adam and Eve understood the serpent to be the wisest creature God made, it would have been the perfect animal for Satan to use in communicating with Eve. Eve would have understood the serpent to be very wise, and able to give her information that she could not think of on her own.

Satan had to pick at least one animal to do his bidding, since Satan is an immaterial spirit and could not physically appear to Eve on his own. He also had to pick one of the animals because there were no other humans in existence besides Adam and Eve. The fact that Satan made the serpent talk, would be even more evidence to Eve of the superior nature of the serpent. Not only is he a wise animal, but he can articulate himself, unlike any other animal.

The curse of the serpent is such that, previous to its deception of Eve, it would have been the highest creature, or one of the highest creatures, in the Garden. But now it would be brought down to be the lowest creature, even lower than cattle.

Why is the serpent punished in this way, since it was, shall we say, innocently possessed by Satan, and Satan was the real culprit? Because the cursing of the serpent will serve as a sign to mankind of man's fall in the Garden from henceforth, whenever he sees a snake slithering in the grass, just as the rainbow we see after a rain is a sign of God's covenant not to curse the earth with a flood again (Gn 9:13-17).

But the serpent is not the only animal to be cursed, rather the serpent's curse is merely more severe than the rest of the animals. Note that in the language God uses in Gn 3:14 ("The Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life"), He indicates that the cattle are cursed, as well as every beast of the field as a result of Adam and Eve's sin. This is due to the fact that whenever God curses man, he also curses the creation, in particular, the animals. This is why we see so many references to "man and cattle" in Scripture (e.g., Gn 7:21; 9:9-10; Ex 9:3; 20:10; Dt 28:11; Neh 10:36; Jonah 4:11; Rom 8:20-22, et al).

In this curse, the anatomical features of the cattle and the other beasts are not altered, but the serpent's are altered, such that it will now be confined to earth by its belly and eat dust. This would imply that, prior to Satan's punishment via the serpent, the serpent would have possessed a more mobile body, perhaps with limbs or wings, and eaten things above the ground, but now those limbs or wings would be atrophied.

Not only will the serpent's new form and function be a sign to mankind of his fall in the Garden, but it also serves as a sign of the spiritual punishment God gives to Satan. (Since Satan chose to use a serpent for his ploy, then God speaks to Satan by means of the serpent). The physical demotion of the serpent to the lowliest beast is akin to the demotion of Satan to the lowest, in spiritual rank, of all God's angelic creatures (Gn 3:15). Because of this curse, Satan will eventually be crushed by the woman and her seed (Christ) just as a snake is crushed under the heel of a hunter.

Here is another important point. Since God does not give the full punishment to either Adam or Eve at that time, He justly cannot give full punishment to Satan, and thus he, like Adam and Eve, is allowed to roam the earth in his cursed condition (cf., Job 1:1-10), and only at the end of time will be finally be "crushed" (cf., Romans 16:20; Matt 25:46); although he received a preliminary crushing at the Cross (cf., Apoc 12:5-12; 20:1-3; John 12:31; 16:11; Heb 2:14). At the end of time also, all men who have not forsaken Satan will be punished (Apoc 20:11-15).


Question 42- Proving the earth is heliocentric, using the Bible

Questioner: I know this will not fit the criteria on your website, but since you and I both know the Bible to be rock solid, if I can show the Bible points away from geocentricity and moves towards a more heliocentric universe, you'll be forced to drop any "truth" derived from theory, obersvation and hypothesis, in light of God's absolute truth, correct?

"Did I miss something?" You ask. "The Bible supports heliocentric theory? No way!" Stick with me.

Lets go to Joshua 12.

I think Joshua was radically ahead of his time and I think this chapter proves it.

First off, let us note, the Bible does use observational language:

Genesis 1:2
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:4
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Darkness can be upon nothing! Nor can it be divided from light. Darkness is not a thing, it is simply the absence of light. Completely inappropriate literal language, but entirely legitimate
and logical observational language!

Note: Do NOT confuse figurative with obsersevational! Figurative language is the opposite of literal. It means what is said did not happen. By it, if the Bible was a figurative account, we could say the whole thing didn't happen at all! Observational language tells us what a person saw, nothing figurative about it, in that sense, it is LITERAL. And using it, you can help people understand the location of objects in the cosmos with almost pinpoint accuracy.

R. Sungenis: You first would have to prove that "darkness" is only the absence of light, and not also a substance in itself. Unless you can prove that as a scientific fact, your argument doesn't stand. In fact, there are several Scriptures that suggest that darkness is more than the absence of light (Exodus 10:21-22; 20:21; Dt 4:11; Jos 24:7; 1Kg 8:12; Job 38:17-19, et al).

Questioner: Note, the sun does not go down nor come up, it actually moves east to west (or I believe, we spin east to west)... does the Bible note the sun rising specifically in the east?

Numbers 2:3
And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah.

Joshua 12:1
Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east:

Ezekiel 8:16
And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.

Absolutely! The sun rising and setting in the east and west, moving east to west, is noted.

If the sun rises and sets literally on a round earth, it moves north to south, rising to the north, and setting to the south. (North-up, south-down)(Yes, a very funny pattern indeed if you think about it. The sun must then double back on itself and never shine on the rest of the earth). An east to west movement on a round earth requires a sun going around the earth, not up and down. If the earth spins, the sun rising and setting in the east and west makes perfect sense using observational language, but using literal language this doesn't make sense at all, unless the sun itself moves first north, then west, then south. (Rises in the east, sets in the west.)Using literal language and a round earth, these observations don't make sense at all! Always trying to force literal non observational language easily becomes a befuddled chaotic mess. Ours is a God of order, not chaos. (Take that, evolution believing christians! Order, not chaos!)

R. Sungenis: Scripture has two ways of accounting for the motion of the sun: (1) from the perspective of someone standing on the earth and looking at the horizon, and (2) from the perspective of one looking from space. The point is that whatever language is used, Scripture always says the sun is moving with respect to the earth, and never says the earth is moving with respect to the sun.

Questioner: First let us look at what Joshua logically actually wanted. He wanted light from the sun to continue the battle, correct? We have to note his true desires. He didn't care about altering celestial bodies... or did he? Hmmmm.... what's that say?

12"O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon."

Why would Joshua give one rip about the moon? The sun was his most logical concern. (I could note that often you can't see the sun and moon at the same time, but sometimes you can, so forget that.) What did he mean?

Well a geocentrist can say, Joshua was ahead of his time and realized the correlation between the movements of the sun and moon. He didn't want to throw off people's ability to tell time by them so he quickly told the moon to stop as well.

Wait a minute, what else moves by Geocentrist theory? The stars... but he said nothing about the stars! So what?... as an astronomer you have to know what. People navigate by the stars. If the stars kept moving for a significant period whilst the sun and moon froze, star charts would have been thrown off. My guess, that wouldn't be good for Joshua and the Jews either.

Ah, but by a Heliocentric universe system, in relation to us, the stars don't move much at all. If the earth stood still, the sun moon and stars would all appear to stop competently for a time.

Joshua addressed the sun because he needed light, the moon because he didn't want to throw off essential things like telling time and said nothing to the stars because he knew it wouldn't matter if he did! They wouldn't change one bit.

R. Sungenis: You haven't proven your premise in order to make your conclusion. That is, you haven't proven that the stars didn't stop. You also haven't proven that the moon was inconsequential in the request of Joshua. In fact, his call for the moon to stop moving supports the Geocentrist, since heliocentrists and geocentrists already agree that the moon moves. If we both agree that it moves, yet Joshua called for it to stop moving, then it is no great stretch to understand that when he called for the sun to stop it must have been moving as well. In any case, we know Joshua didn't ask for the earth to stop spinning.

Questioner: Oh by the way, being a Protestant myself, you and I are at crossroads on many issues, but, I do note that you declare the earth to be 10,000 years old. As a fellow young earth creationist, we don't have a crossroad there. Most creation science research groups put it at 6,000 years. All save for Creation Research headed up by John Mackay (my absolute favorite creationist). He also says 10,000, but I can't remember the reason for the difference of 4,000 years. Can you help me?

R. Sungenis: Most of the archeological research that we find agreeing between secularists and Creationists settle on about 10,000 BC for the beginning of civilization, and the destruction of that civilization around 4000-5000 BC. Ussher's date of 4004 BC is wrong because he only has Israel in Egypt for 215 years, or at most 237 years, but the Bible is clear that they were there for 430 years, to the very day. Also, Ussher doesn't explain the lacuna between Arphaxad and Shelach when compared with Luke 3:36, which adds Cainan between them. As for extending the dating of the Genesis 4-11 genealogies beyond 4000, we can do so because only three of the relationships claim to be father-son (Adam to Seth, Seth to Enosh, and Lamech to Noah) while the rest use the Hebrew YALAD, which can mean father-son or ancestor. If we use the ancestral paradigm as a calendar of biblical history, it can only take us back as far as 11,000 BC.


Question 41- Gehenna

Dear Mr. Sungenis: Recently I read an article regarding the origin of the Catholic doctrine of Hell. It went something like this: At one time Yahweh was a sky god like many of the Canaanite gods and demanded human sacrifice. This is attested to by earlier books of the Old Testament and early prophets such as Isaiah. These sacrificial victims or places were called molochs; hence the confusion of the practice with a god subsequently called Moloch. These human sacrifices took place at various high places in ancient Palestine. In the 7th century, B.C., the royal establishment of Israel and Judah decided to centralize worship and revenues and suppress the high places. As part of this effort, new prophets like Jeremiah denounced human sacrifice and a "new book" of scripture was "discovered" (Deuteronomy) with a condemnatory attitude toward human sacrifice. Eventually the place at Jerusalem where such sacrifices were made (Gehenna) became identified with a place of eternal fiery punishment prepared by God for sinners. Thus the author believes that Hell is actually a recrudescence of the ancient belief in Yahweh as a vengeful sky god demanding human sacrifice as his due.
Ted Van Oosbree

R. Sungenis: Ted, this is what happens when we become "too smart" for ourselves. That usually happens when we imbibe the liberal hermeneutic that there has to be a natural explanation for everything. Unfortunately, as St. Faustina warned us, Hell will be populated mainly by those who thought that Hell didn't exist. By the way, in the historical sense, "gehenna" was the place outside of the walls of Jerusalem where they burned the refuse of the city. Since there was a continual stream of garbage, the fires were continually burning. Thus, it also developed a spiritual application in standing for the eternal fires of hell, and the NT writes adopted it as such.


Question 40- Question regarding God's omniscience, Part III

dear mr. sungenis,

thank you for your reply and for the quotes from vatican 1; they were very helpful. however, i think you're misunderstanding my position and my question (at least in part because of a lack of clarity in my explanation). i do not deny that God knows our future free actions; rather, i deny that God knows what we would do in situations that we never will come across. so, for example, let's assume that tomorrow i will see someone stealing $5 from a cashier and that i will stop the person. because God knows the future, He knows what i will do. however, let's change the situation and say that i never see that person. in this case, i deny not only that God knows what i would do if i did see this person, but i also deny that any statement regarding what i definitely would or would not do (unless, of course, it's something impossible like saying i would turn into superman and stop him) can be either true or false. unless (notice that i said "unless," not "until," because "until" implies time, which God is outside of) we actually make a decision in a certain situation, there is no one single thing that we would definitely do in that situation. therefore, that kind of knowledge does not even exist, so God cannot know it. but don't take this to mean that God doesn't know what we could do in any situation. no, He definitely knows that. however, i hold that God does not know what we definitely would do in a hypothetical situation that we never did nor ever will be in. i hope i have clarified my position.

those quotes from vatican 1 were helpful because, while they do say that God knows all things past, present, and future, they don't say that God knows what we would definitely do in hypothetical situations. so, do you know if the church has made any infallible statements on whether or not God does have this kind of knowledge? your response is much appreciated.


R. Sungenis: JP, if God were presented with the case in this way: "God, here we have JP. If JP were to put into a situation where he had to choose X or Y, but we are not saying that JP has actually yet seen X or Y, can you tell me whether JP will choose X or whether he will choose Y?" If that is what you are proposing, then I would have to say that God still knows what we will choose, but there is no Church dogma with which I am aware that covers this precise situation of hypothetical's, but I think the consensus of Church teaching would agree that God does know the hypotheticals. 1 Samuel 23:1-14 is a good case in point.


Question 39- Book of Judith: Was Nebuchadnezzer King of Assyria?

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

Could you please substantiate your claim that the Nebuchdnezzar in the book of Judith is not the king of Babylon? This is the first time I have heard this argument. Has this been the consensus throughout the history of the Church? Can you provide any references supporting this position? Thanks very much and God bless.

Pete K.

R. Sungenis: Pete, one of the better sources for such an identification is Damien Mackey, which I will provide below.


Part Three: Esarhaddon's Central Rôle in the Drama

This is effectively Part Three of the previous article on Sargon/Sennacherib.

The Douay and Greek versions of the Book of Judith are unanimous in saying that the King of Nineveh made war against the Chaldean foe in his Year 12. They diverge in assigning the destruction of the latter's city [1] to, respectively, Year 12 and Year 17. This may be explained to some degree by the fact that Sargon/Sennacherib twice conquered Babylon. The destruction of Babylon in Year 17 though accords well with the sequence outlined in Part Two, which took us as far as Sennacherib's Seventh Campaign.

For, in his Eighth Campaign, against the Elamite king, Umman-menanu, he ravaged the southern capital.

"Eighth Campaign I advanced swiftly against Babylon .... Like the on-coming of a storm I broke loose .... I completely invested that city, with mines and engines .... The plunder .... Year 17 (Judith 1:13,14) In the seventeenth year [the Assyrian king] ... came to Ecbatana [i.e. Babylon], captured its towers, plundered its markets, and turned its glory into disgrace"

Then, still in Year 17 according to Judith, "... he returned to Nineveh, he and all his combined forces ... and there he and his forces rested and feasted for one hundred and twenty days" (v.16).

Sennacherib by now had much about which to be self-congratulatory. His Eighth Campaign, though, is about as far as the Great King's war records take us. And we could be left feeling very empty.

Where is the account of that most notorious of all wars of his, the one against the west all the way to Egypt - as recorded by Herodotus in The Histories, in the Scriptures and in the pseudepigrapha (Judith, Tobit, Maccabees) - when Sennacherib's army of almost 200,000 was humiliated?

So catastrophic a defeat for Assyria cannot by any means be accommodated during Sennacherib's Third Campaign, against the west, which as we saw was a stunning success for Assyria.

Historians have agonized over this. Was there a further western campaign after Hezekiah of Judah had initially been brought into submission? [2].

And, I must add, what about the showdown between Judith and the Assyrian Turtan, "Holofernes", who completely lost his head over this Jewish beauty? No indication in what we have already read about the incursion of Sargon's Turtan into Judaean territory that he came under even the least pressure from Hezekiah's subjects.

By contrast to this, the impressive Greek version of Judith, in particular, records a massive military campaign - ultimately disastrous - first envisaged by the Great King of Assyria in his Year 18, and to be led by a commander of enormous prestige:

In the eighteenth year, on the twenty-second day of the first month, there was talk in the Palace of [the] king of Assyrians about carrying out his revenge on the whole region, just as he had said. (Judith 2:1; Septuagint).e1

... When he had completed his plan, Nebuchednezzar, king of the Assyrians, called Holofernes, the chief general of his army, second only to himself ... (v.4).


The Turtan duly raised an army of 120,000 picked troops by divisions [3], together with 12,000 archers on horseback, plus immense numbers of animals for baggage and food, ample rations and a huge amount of gold and silver from the royal palace (vv.14-18).

Sheer revenge is given as being the Great King of Assyria's motivation for this campaign (probably series of campaigns again), especially against the west, because the nations from Cilicia as far as the borders of Ethiopia had refused to support him upon his request during his Year 12 war against the Chaldeo-Aramaean coalition (1:7-12). "... they were not afraid of him, but regarded him as only one man. So they sent back his messengers empty-handed and in disgrace" (v.11).

A desire to conquer wealthy Egypt was probably also a major motivational factor for Sennacherib.

The Turtan went forth with his huge army, and by the time that he had brought the west into quaking submission, and had come "toward Esdraelon, near Dothan, facing the great ridge of Judaea" (3:9), his fighting forces had swollen to "one hundred seventy thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, not counting the baggage and the footsoldiers handling it, a very great multitude" (7:2). This overall total equates strikingly to the 185,000 men of Sennacherib's defeated army. It was down upon such an immense host, encamped before Dothan, that there gazed in awe the northern Israelites, including Judith, a 16th generation Simeonitess, and her townspeople of Bethulia [4].

The Israelites commented: "They will now strip clean the whole land; neither the high mountains nor the valleys nor the hills will bear their weight" (7:4).

Nonetheless, urged on by their high priest in Jerusalem, Joakim (var. Eliakim) - whom I have previously identified as Akhimiti of Ashdod of the Assyrian records - they had resolved to resist (Judith 4) and live with the consequences.

Who was Assyria's Ill-Fated Commander-in-Chief?

The Turtan named "Holofernes" in the Book of Judith was unlikely the same person as the Turtan whom Sargon/Sennacherib had previously sent against "Ashdod", who would by now, about a decade later, have been well familiar with the various nations of the west. For the Turtan in the Judith narrative has to ask the locals: 'Tell me, you Canaanites, what people is this that lives in the hill country?' (Judith 5:3). To identify these as the one Turtan would also make for a very tight chronology indeed in the context of this revision. Sennacherib, according to Roux, employed both "a turtânu 'of the right' and a turtânu 'of the left'" [5].

Which one, if either, was the mighty "Holofernes"?

The Book of Judith is quite specific: "Holofernes" was "second only to [the king] himself ..."; he commanded an army of epic proportions; he cleaned up the west, preparing the way for the king himself (just as was the pattern in regard to Sennacherib's Third Campaign]. He was eventually stopped dead in his tracks by some mountain folk in Samaria, before he could penetrate as far as Jerusalem.

History apparently knows of no such Turtan. At a later time, presumably in 352 BC during the reign of Artaxerxes III 'Ochus', a Cappadocian prince named "Holofernes" is said to have fought against the Egyptians [6]. This is one of various examples of the unwarranted intrusion of Medo-Persian elements into the Book of Judith [7].

However, there was a notable Assyrian blue blood at the time of King Hezekiah who is a most appropriate candidate for "Holofernes" inasmuch as he was a potent leader, who invaded even Egypt, and who died mysteriously on campaign. And he fits exactly the description given in Judith of "second only to [the king] himself". I refer to Sennacherib's favourite son and heir, ESARHADDON [8&8a].

I would naturally expect immediate, strong objections to this identification of Esarhaddon with "Holofernes" considering that Esarhaddon (680-669 BC, conventional) is universally thought to have outlived - and reigned subsequently to - his father, Sennacherib. Esarhaddon, after having presumably put down a revolt by Sennacherib's patricidal sons, began by rebuilding the Babylon that his father had destroyed. His records tell that he was "still a youth" when his father secured his accession [9]. The young Viceroy had made his famous march from Babylon northwards to Nineveh against the brothers who had rebelled against him, who blocked his path: "The terror of the great gods, my lords, overwhelmed them", he said [10].

As for those villians who instigated the revolt and rebellion, when they heard of the approach of my army, they abandoned their regular troops, and fled to parts unknown. I reached the dyke of the Tigris. [At the word] of Sin and Shamash, the gods, the lords of the dyke, my armies scrambled over the wide Tigris as (across an) irrigation ditch.

Warmly welcomed by the Assyrian people, and by most of the opposing army which defected to him, Esarhaddon proclaimed: "I entered into Nineveh, my royal city, joyfully, and took my seat upon the throne of my father in safety".

According to Luckenbill, Esarhaddon's brothers had actually, in the course of this particular revolt, slain their father Sennacherib [11]:

A firm [determination] "fell upon" my brothers. They forsook the gods and turned to their deeds of violence, plotting evil. Evil word(s) and deed(s), ... they perpetrated against me .... They revolted (?). To gain the [kingship] they slew [Sennacherib, their father.] ....

The Bible and pseudepigrapha seem to support this sequence of events, referring to Sennacherib's death and then accession of his son, Esarhaddon. Thus for instance 2 Kings, having briefly narrated Sennacherib's murder, adds: "His son Esarhaddon succeeded him" (4.Regn. 19:37) ; Septuagint.

But according to Georges Roux [12]: "The patricide is not mentioned ...".

Could this therefore be perhaps yet another case where the modern restorers of the Assyrian records have filled in the blanks with bracketed data according to their preconceived notions?

But, then again, what about the testimony of the scriptural data cited above? Well, the Hebrew root ben here is not too much of a problem, as it can mean both 'son' and 'grandson' [13]. As for the name, Esarhaddon, the Book of Tobit, which had been an ally for me in my theory that Sennacherib was the successor of Shalmaneser, now seems to desert me by distinctly naming Esarhaddon as the successor after Sennacherib's death (Tobit 1:21). Still, that is only in translation. The name translated as "Esarhaddon" is given in the Greek as Sacherdonos; a name that comes very close to the Saosduchin said in the Douay version of Judith to have "succeeded Asarhaddon in the kingdom of the Assyrians" [14].

That can only mean Ashurbanipal. Thus the original version of Tobit may well have read "... his [Sennacherib's] (grand)son Ashurbanipal succeeded him".

With Esarhaddon generally recognised as a younger son of Sennacherib, the eldest being Ashur-nadin-shumi whom Sennacherib made Viceroy of Babylon during his Year 12 (Fourth Campaign), the chronology I am trying to develop here would be extremely tight indeed. But Esarhaddon in fact calls himself "the oldest son of [Sennacherib ..." [15] - another apparent rebuff to convention. This primary piece of evidence not only assists my reconstruction, but now makes highly attractive also an identification of Esarhaddon (i.e. Ashur-akhi-iddina) with Ashur-nadin-shumi [16].

Ashur-nadin-shumi's six years of reign over Babylon would thus correspond with Esarhaddon's reign over that city. And I suggest it was during this early period that Esarhaddon rebuilt, probably magnified, the city of Babylon.

But while his father was still alive [17].

Once again, as with the data concerning the Sargonid succession, historians have taken an extreme licence when restoring the Assyrian records, adding what was never there - in this case the murder of Sennacherib - and thus wreaking havoc with Assyrian history.

If Sennacherib, ensconced at Khorsabad, had virtually abdicated in favour of his son, whom as heir he re-named Ashur-etil-ilani-mukin-aplu [18], this would go a long way towards explaining historians' puzzlement over the fact that there are no official annals for about the last decade of Sennacherib's 24-year reign. The annals are in fact available, but they need to be looked for under the name of Esarhaddon, whose 11-12 year reign must now be encompassed entirely within the reign of Sennacherib - who, as we shall see, only just outlived his son.

Unfortunately, Esarhaddon's annals are - as we noted in Part One - carelessly arranged, making the editor's job difficult.

Judith herself, in her definition of the precise relationship between the Great King of Assyria and his Viceroy, shows that, whilst the latter now had full charge of military affairs, it was nonetheless the ageing king who still cracked the whip (11:7):

'By the life of Nebuchednezzar, king of the whole earth, and by the power of him who has sent you to direct every living being! Not only do human beings serve him because of you, but also the animals of the field and the cattle and the birds of the air will live, because of your power, under Nebuchednezzar and all his house'.

Esarhaddon's military prowess was legendary; not least in his own mind [19]:

Like a lion I raged, I put on (my) coat of mail, (my) helmet, emblem of victory, I put on my head. I grasped in my hand the mighty bow .... Like a fierce eagle, with wings outspread ..., in front of my troops, [I went], like a flood, I advanced. The unsparing javelin of Assur, fiercely, swiftly, was let loose ..., the gods Shar-ur and Shar-gaz going [at my side].

Judith will immediately play on this reputation during her first encounter with the Turtan: "... it is reported throughout the whole world that you alone are the best in the whole kingdom, the most informed and the most astounding in military strategy" (Judith 11:8).

Esarhaddon was also ever loyal to his father, Sennacherib, and was thus especially vengeful against insolent kings - presumably those who according to the Judith narrative had originally sent back the Assyrian messengers "empty-handed and in disgrace". Good examples of kings who stubbornly resisted Assyria during Esarhaddon's floruit were Abdi-Milkuti, King of Sidon, whom Esarhaddon captured and beheaded, Baal of Tyre and his colleague, Tirhakah of Ethiopia [20]:

... I threw up earthworks against Ba'lu, king of Tyre, who had put his trust in his friend Tirhakah ..., king of Ethiopia, had thrown off my royal yoke and had sent me insolent (messages). Food and drink (water) (which would) keep them alive, I withheld ....

Baal and Tirhakah are likely the two figures depicted at Esarhaddon's feet in the victory (Senjirli) stele the Assyrian set up in northern Syria. Esarhaddon holds a cup in his right hand and from the left hand extends the ropes ("reins") which pass through the lips of these two conquered figures [21]. But Esarhaddon's and his father's enemies - at least those who survived their vengeful regime - would have the last laugh. In a short space of time, Assyria would lose to violence its Turtan (Viceroy) - slain during the campaign that was intended to culminate in his second (possibly third) invasion of Egypt [22] - much of the powerful Assyrian army, and - not long afterwards - the Great King himself, assassinated.

The Downfall of "Holofernes"

My reconstruction of neo-Assyrian history has enabled thus far for a most plausible identification of "Holofernes" with Esarhaddon, as second only to the Assyrian king during a climactic period of history, who died during a western campaign. All well and good as far as it goes. But to be fully satisfying we need some evidence of the Viceroy's shameful demise. This is to be found, I believe, most surprisingly in the Assyrian records themselves, in the Eponym Chronicle [23]; giving the lie to any naïve view that the Assyrians did not record defeats. Tadmor gives the crucial text as if belonging to Sargon's Year 17 (705 BC), presuming this to have been the year that Sargon actually died [24]:

"The king [against Tabal ....] against Ešpai the Kulummaean. [......] The king was killed. The camp of the king of Assyria [was taken ......]. On the 12th of Abu, Sennacherib, son [of Sargon, took his seat on the throne]".

There is no information from any other source on the last war of Sargon [sic], nor any plausible identification of the Kulummaeans.

We now know that a succession of Sargon to Sennacherib, as proposed in the above quote, is impossible. The un-named "king" referred to in this quote should in fact be identified as Esarhaddon, that is the "Holofernes" of the Book of Judith who "was killed [with the result that] ... The camp of the king of Assyria [was taken ......]". Cf. Judith 13:8, and 15:6-7: "... the people of Bethulia fell upon the Assyrian camp and plundered it, acquiring great riches. And the Israelites, when they returned from the slaughter, took possession of what remained".

The aging Sennacherib by no means at this point - as is suggested by the above quote - "took his seat on the throne" (though perhaps he may personally now have taken over the duties of his dead son).

Rather, he had to undertake a far less pleasant task.

Tadmor tells what this task was, though wrongly supposing that it was Sargon's demise that was the matter that Sennacherib had to investigate [25]:

The death of a king on a battlefield, killed in action, is as yet unparalleled in the history of Mesopotamia. Sennacherib had to investigate closely into the hidden reasons of his father's [sic] death in order to find out what were the sins (hîtâti) of Sargon [sic].

What was an added shame for Assyria - pointing to the sins of the slain King of Assyria - was that this Assyrian king (the Viceroy) was not buried in "his house". According to Tadmor [26]: "This may mean that either his corpse was cremated at the battlefield or that it was not recovered from the enemy". The Book of Judith is definitive on this. The Viceroy's head was actually carried away from his lifeless corpse by the triumphant Judith and her maid back to Bethulia, where - upon Judith's instructions - it was hung upon the parapet of the city wall (cf. Judith 13:9-10, 15, & 14:11); the purpose being to strike fear into the hearts of the Assyrian soldiers and cause them to flee.

The Esarhaddon Chronicle gives the exact day of Esarhaddon's death, "on the [tenth] day of the month Marchesvan", which is the eighth month [27].

We can now set the record straight once and for all. The all-conquering Assyrian army of 185,000 was not 'nibbled to death', or 'infected', by mice (Herodotus) [28], nor space-blasted (Velikovsky). Its rout and defeat were set in train by the pious woman Judith, as she herself testifies (16:5-6):

'But the Lord Almighty has foiled them by the hand of a woman. For their mighty one (Turtan) did not fall by the hands of the young men, nor did the sons of Titans strike them down, nor did tall giants set upon him; but Judith daughter of Merari with the beauty of her countenance undid him'.

Sennacherib's Fury and Death

According to Tobit - who identified as a metaphysical cause for the defeat and flight of the Assyrian army, not the Turtan's sins but Sennacherib's own sin, of blasphemy - Sennacherib in his fury took revenge upon the Israelite people in Assyria, including eventually Tobit himself (1:18-20). Tobit finally had to flee for his life, but "not forty days passed before two of Sennacherib's sons killed him".


Encyclopaedia Judaica's article, "Judith", shows that this drama to end all dramas has consistently, down through the centuries, been represented in art, literature and music. Our footnotes especially show that the Greeks absorbed the story of Judith and Holofernes into their own folklore. In the Lindian Chronicle it is narrated that when Darius, King of Persia, tried to conquer the Island of Hellas, the people gathered in the stronghold of Lindus to withstand the attack. The citizens of the besieged city asked their leaders to surrender because of the hardships and sufferings brought by the water shortage (cf. Judith 7:20-28). The Goddess Athena [read Judith] advised one of the leaders [read Uzziah] to continue to resist the attack; meanwhile she interceded with her father Jupiter [read the God of Israel] on their behalf (cf. Judith 8:9-9:14). Thereupon, the citizens asked for a truce of five days, after which, if no help arrived, they would surrender (cf. Judith 7:30-31). On the second day of the truce a heavy shower fell on the city so the people could have sufficient water. Datis [read Holofernes], the admiral of the Persian fleet [read Turtan of the Assyrian army], having witnessed the particular intervention of the Goddess to protect the city, lifted the siege.


Question 38- Baptism of Desire?

Hi Robert,

Please forgive me, my email of 21st November left a lot to be desired in terms of introduction and context.

I am a lay person, living in the Republic of Ireland and working for a multi-national company.

I have read many of your articles in Catholic Family News and have recently purchased your book - The Gospel According to St. Matthew. I find your writings grounded in the Truth and irrefutable.

One of the (many) evils of Modernism is the notion of universal salvation, where all religions are pleasing to God. A man is saved whether he wants to be or not!

In parallel with this notion is the opinion, held by many, that baptism of desire and blood is equal in value to baptism of water. Various Doctors and Saints of the Church are quoted as supporting this position. The words of Our Lord, to the Good Thief, are used as a defining QED. However, the Church has not dogmatically defined this position.

I find the positions of universal salvation and baptism of desire and blood similar in nature, one being more advanced than the other.

When I sent you my first email, I had just returned from Mass where the priest (SSPX), during his sermon, spoke of baptism of desire and blood gaining a soul entry to Heaven. He further stated that a miscarried baby, through the prayers of its parents gained entry to Heaven. In other words the priest was saying that the desire of another was sufficient for salvation. Impossible.

Our Divine Lord has clearly said that unless a man is baptized with water and the Holy Ghost he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and the thrice defined Dogma 'Outside the Church there is no Salvation' leave no quarter for other means of entry to Heaven. There is always a role for Theological speculation and charitable conversation, it makes things interesting, but it does not become Church teaching.

Universal salvation, on the one hand and baptism of desire and blood, on the other hand, are carriages on the same train. The only difference being the proximity of the carriages to the engine!

Unfortunately, positions taken on baptism of desire and blood quickly become emotive and accusations and labeling and boxing follow.

Robert - how do you argue the case for baptism of desire and blood?

-----Original Message-----

Hi Robert,

Could you please let me know the Church's official teaching on baptism of desire and blood in the context of salvation? Also, somewhat related, could you please let me know what is the Church's position on babies that are miscarried - can they get to Heaven?

Paul McDermott

R. Sungenis: Paul, the Church did take up the topic of baptism of desire (actually, in the Latin it is "desire for baptism") in Chapter 4, Session 6, of the Council of Trent. There it stated that the desire for baptism was a valid means of obtaining the grace of justification:

"In these words a description of the justification of a sinner is given as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of the ‘adoption of the sons' of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior; and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be erected except through the laver of regeneration, or a desire for it, as it is written: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'"

Obviously, if there were no chance of receiving the grace of justification by a means other than having water poured over one's head with the Trinitarian formula, then the Council fathers would not have even suggested such a possibility as a "desire for baptism."

Unfortunately, the Council did not go any further than just stating the possibility. They did not work out when it would be applicable. The traditional understanding is that the "desire," since the word here in Latin is "vota" meaning "vow," meant that it only applied to one who was just about to come into the Church and had made a personal vow to receive baptism, but suddenly died before he could receive the actual laver. Even the present 1992 Catechism recognizes this traditional interpretation.

The fact is that the Church does allow for one to receive justification without having received the actual water of the laver. In the same way, Trent allowed for a confession by desire as well:

"Hence it must be taught that the repentance of a Christian after his fall is very different from that at his baptism, and that it includes not only a cessation from sins, and a detestation of them, or ‘a contrite and humble heart' [Psalm 50:19], but also the sacramental confession of the same, at least in desire and to be made in its season, and sacerdotal absolution, as well as satisfaction by fasting, almsgiving, prayers, and other devout exercises of the spiritual life, not indeed for the eternal punishment..."

and thus mortal sins could be forgiven based on the "desire" to have them forgiven. Again, however, the traditional interpretation held that this "desire" or "sincere act of contrition" was to be used in instances where one could not go to the confessional.

Whether the "desire" of baptism or the "desire" of confession has any other application is pure speculation. Unless the Church formally teaches that the "desire" has other applications, no one should be teaching that such allowances of "desire" are to be applied in any other instance than that traditionally practiced by the Church.

By the same token, it is not our prerogative to judge whether God saves someone, for salvation is His domain, not ours. It is one thing to teach Church dogma, it is another thing to play God. Unfortunately, people who discuss this issue often fail to draw that line.


Question 37- St. Nilus prophecy?

Mr. Sungenis,

The magazine Inside the Vatican (which has happily taken a more traditional position regarding theology and the Sacred Liturgy) recently published a prophecy accredited to St. Nilus. The prophecy was somewhat startling in its seemingly accurate vision of the future, and I was wondering if you have any knowledge of this prophecy and its authenticity. Thank you for all of your work.

R. Sungenis: Andrew, yes, the prophecy of Nilus comes from a 4-5th century eastern mystic, at least the rudiments do. Whether the whole thing can be attributed to Nilus is another story, however. Some of the "prophecies" seem a little too convenient for someone so far away from the modern era. We did not use it in our CASB for that very reason.


Question 36- Laying On Of Hands


Can you recommend a good source on the practice of laying on of hands as practiced in both the NT and OT? I suspect that this practice is very important to apostolic succession as it appears in Paul's letters to Timothy and Acts. Am I correct to believe that this practice is the confirmation of authority given from one who has authority to another?


R. Sungenis: Craig, sorry, I don't know any book on the topic. Yes, it is a solemn rite of transferring power. The church has used it since its inception. Unfortunately today, there are a lot of Protestants and Catholics abusing this rite, claiming that it transfers healing. That would only be the case if someone was a bona fide miracle worker, and there are few of those today. Sorry I can't be of more help.


Question 35- Pope John Paul II -- What are the Positives? Pt II

Thanks so much for your reply! It's definitely given me some things to ponder.

While I did mention the potential for additional questions, one just came to mind after reading your e-mail:

When John Paul II's papacy comes to an end, do you think the next Pope is likely to be less/more liberal? Do you have anyone in particular that you'd like to see elected, and could it happen? (I know JPII has named a lot of cardinals and I don't know the theological makeup of most of these men).

Hopefully that made sense.

Thanks again!

R. Sungenis: Unfortunately, JP2 has stocked the college of cardinals with like-minded thinkers. I would say the odds are very great we will have a more liberal-minded pope, but there is a saying in Rome that he who goes into the conclave hoping to be elected will come out not elected. I would recommend that we all pray very hard for God to intervene and give us a pope who will do his job well.


Question 34- Is the Church Too Rich?

Hello Mr. Sungenis,
I have read Butler's wonderful Jesus, Peter, and the Keys. Your
contributions were, of course, the best part. To get right to the point, is there any justification for the wealth of the Vatican and the Pope? Every time I try to explain the structure of authority in the Church to my father he responds by saying that Jesus would not like the Church because it is too rich. He says that the Church is a business. When he says these things, I have no idea how to respond.

Also, do you know when the earlier Q&A articles will be up? I am anxious to reread your article on Mary Magdalene. By the way, I loved your article on the toledoths. God bless.


R. Sungenis: Joshua, your father is right -- the Vatican is too rich, among many other things these days. But that doesn't mean the Catholic Church is not the true Church. It just means that the Vatican heirarchs need to get their priorities in order. There were several times in history that the Church got "too fat," as the saying goes. It was usually followed by a more austere and frugal pope who cleared away the extravagance.

As for the Q&A, my webmaster is working as fast as he can. He had to redo the whole site, and he is putting things back together piece by piece.

God be with you


Question 33- Fr. Gruner vs. Rick Salbato, and Audiotape on God's character

Hello Robert!

1. I notice you've been referring more lately to Father Gruner and Christopher Ferrara. On another web site, "Unity Publishing" by Rick Salbato, it is claimed that Father Gruner tried to forcibly enter Sister Lucia's convent on one occasion, and that he is persona non grata there. Now, I don't know Father Gruner or Mr. Ferrara, but are you sure they aren't on the fringe?

R. Sungenis: Michael, I assure you that Fr. Gruner and Mr. Ferrara are two of the sanest people on planet earth. The allegation that Fr. Gruner tried to force his way into Sr. Lucia's convent is ludicrous. Fr. Gruner is about as saintly as they come, but since he is also a lion the prevaricators have now tried to silence him by making up stories. The long and short of it is: if you want the truth, talk to Gruner or Ferrara.

2. I have also heard that, during the March 25, 1984 consecration, that the Holy Father paused at one point, as if mentally making the intention of consecrating Russia though not using audible words, just as a priest might have a private intention at Mass. I have also read a piece suggesting that, even if the Pope did or will consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart, there still remains *our* duty of living out the Fatima devotions, Five Saturdays, Rosary, etc. Is it possible that John Paul II is not lying or deceiving us, and that he *did* consecrate Russia (at least by mental intention), but that the problem is that *we* laity have not done our part? The Blessed Mother said, God wanted "devotion to my Immaculate Heart to be established". Frankly, I don't think we have it to any large degree, and we persist in sinning.

R. Sungenis: Well, it is certainly true that most of Catholicism hasn't kept the Five Saturdays, but that is mostly because the church hierarchy has not educated them to do so, since they believe the Fatima revelations are passe. And no, there is no possibility that the pope could have accomplished the consecration by mumbling under his breath, as it were, and that certainly is not what the Vatican hierarchs are claiming (Ratzinger, Sodano, et al). First, Our Lady specified a public, audible and ecclesial consecration. Mumbling would not satisfy her request. The bishops had to be involved and had to give their affirmation of what was said by the pope. They can't do that if they don't know what the pope is saying. Second, the Vatican hierarchs are claiming that there was indeed a public and audible consecration, and the wording of the consecration satisfied what Our Lady requested. Unfortunately, their version of what needed to be said and Our Lady's version are diametrically opposed. Our Lady specifically and unalterably demanded that "Russia" be named in the consecration. The Vatican has specifically and unalterably avoided naming Russia, and even gave excuses for doing so. Speaking of sanity, anyone can figure out that the Vatican has systematically and purposely circumvented the Fatima revelations, and that is because she has become a whore who wants to make love to The Beast instead of her Lord.

3. On your older website format, I remember there was an audiotape on the character of God, that you had come to a point after years of reflection where you thought you really knew God and His expectations of us. Is that tape still available?

R. Sungenis: Yes, the tape is "Who is God and What Does He Want from Us?" It is available from our audio tape selection on our website.

Question 32- The Toledoths of Genesis?


The article on the Toledoths of Genesis was fantastic. Are there any catholic bible scholars presenting this view of Genesis? The Navarre commentary on Genesis presents the Documentary theory. I searched the archives of Fr. William Most, who does not support the documentary theory. and found no mention of Wiseman or Yahuda's work. I shared the article with members of a catechetical group and was criticized for attacking "this well supported documentary theory". I need more ammunition.


R. Sungenis: Walt, I wish there was more support. Unfortunately, we live in an age of apostasy that thinks the Bible is full of errors and fabrications.


Question 31- Who is a Modernist Today?

Dear Robert,

I found your website because I wanted to read your opinion on Scott Hahn’s theologizing. I’ve had trouble with his Protestant methods for many years now and am speechless regarding his newest series of books. However, reading other items on your site leads me to ask the question, “Who then is not a Modernist among the theologians of the last 50 years?” I wonder if my personal library is “tainted” and useless. Is Pope John Paul II a modernist? Are his writings tainted? Von Balthasar? De Lubac? Since Fr Fessio is, then is Ignatius Press suspect? I am afraid to ask if Fr. Hardon is as well. Get my drift?

What would you say about Catholic Distance University? I am taking two courses there now. It seems solid so far.

I am interested to know your opinion.

God bless,

Marcela Carbo

R. Sungenis: Marcela, I would suspect that most of the books written today are taking a modernist bent. There are degrees, however, of how much modernism they accept and propagate. There are the ultra-liberals, the liberals, the neo-conservatives, the conservatives, the traditionalists, the SSPX, the SSPV, sedevacantists. Some are modernist on one or two doctrines (e.g., Fessio on Scripture's inerrancy); some are modernist in most of their theology (Von Balthasar). Hardon, I believe, was okay, but he had one or two areas that one might question. I would say that John Paul II is a modernist at heart, except as pope he must often curb his own modernist tendencies (e.g., Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994), since he cannot, dogmatically, go against Tradition. In addition, John Paul II was a framer of Vatican II's Gaudium et spes and Dignitatis Humanae, both of which, using ambiguous language in certain places, laid the ground work for the Assisi events and the thrust (but failure) of ecumenism we have seen for the last 25 years of his pontificate. I believe Assisi is a total misinterpretation of both GES, DH and the Tradition, but Assisi is not Catholic dogma, and thus the pope escapes censure.


Question 30- Jerome and the Deutero-canonical books, Part II?

As always thank you for your response.

1. How have Catholics historically interpreted the additions to Daniel. Do they accept the events that are told in them as actually taking place. Opponents of the DC are quick to point out the 'legendary and fanciful,' nature of these sections? How do Catholics counter such a claim? Are literal interpretations also accepted with regards to Tobit and Judith, generally speaking? I am inclined to think that the characters presented in such stories are more than fictitious.

R. Sungenis: The DC additions to Daniel are no more "fanciful" than the PC narratives, the latter of which the PC "only" proponents of Daniel have had their hands full in combating the Protestant liberals who find the PC stories not only "fanciful" but also contradictory. As to the "fanciful," the narratives of Daniel in the Lion's Den; his visions of prophecy to Nebuchadnezzer; the meeting of the fourth person with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and many other events would raise the objections of any skeptic who denies the possibility of miraculous intrusion into the human sphere. So, for the PC onlyists to shift the problem of "fanciful" narrative to the DC portions of Daniel is simply the pot calling the kettle black. As for the "contradictions" in the PC of Daniel, the liberals point out many, especially the problem with Darius being a Mede or a Persian. We have an answer for it, however, just as we have an answer for the apparent contradictions in Tobit and Judith, both of which I explained to you in earlier emails. END

2. Another common claim, and I have not had time yet to validate it has to do with Baruch 1:8 which apparently speaks of the vessels of the Temple being sent from Babylon during the time of Jeremiah, while Ezra 1:7 indicates that they came after the exile. Any thoughts on this?
Kelly J. Wilson

R. Sungenis: The vessels in Baruch 1:8 were only "silver" vessels, while those in Ezra 1:7-11 were both silver and gold, and are actually numbered. Daniel 5:2 also tells us there were silver and gold vessels. So, the only logical answer is that Baruch had taken some of the silver vessels prior to the completion of the exile, and that the rest of the vessels, both gold and silver, were returned in full after the exile.


Question 29- Pope John Paul II -- What are the Positives??

I figure that I'll have lots of questions, but for now I thought I'd narrow it to one specific area of concern. I have a great deal of respect for your knowledge, and found "Not By Bread Alone" to be a very helpful and enlightening book. (In addition, I felt you were clearly the ace in the hole for another book which was inspiring -- "Jesus, Peter & the Keys.") When I went to look for more info on you, I found lots of negative articles about you. Your site has the dreaded "red flag" at, and the anti-pope thread seemed to be the sticking points to many of these things I read. I started coming more regularly to your site to see just where you stood (were you in communion with Rome?), and quite frankly
because it invigorates/challenges me which has always been a beneficial thing to my Faith development.

Recently, the Hahn articles have spewed a volume of Q&As as well as other articles. I imagine this is similar to what may have happened when you posted a few of your concerns about John Paul II. The perceived negativity is what I think is the biggest concern for many. This brings me to my question:

What things do you most admire about John Paul II? What are the real positives that he's had in this Papacy in your opinion? Have you found any of his papal writings to be particularly helpful/inspiring to you?

Thanks so much!

Patrick M.

R. Sungenis: Patrick, first, let me deal with the "CatholicCulture" site. Please read the article we have written about them which is cited on our homepage. Go to our homepage at and scroll down to "Catholic Issues" and click on the article titled "Jeffrey Mirus: Self-Appointed Policeman of Catholic Internet Sites." I think that will answer your concerns.

As for John Paul II, of course, he has positive points as well, but unfortunately, his negative points overwhelm his positive. I do really think that he could go down as one of the most inept popes in Catholic history. His policies have decimated Catholicism. Just recently the 22-member nations of the EU refused to include the phrase "the Christian roots of Europe" into their constitution, even after the pope pleaded with them to do so. This shows that the pope's efforts at trying to be nice to the nations by his "ecumenical" program is an unmitigated failure. When this is coupled with his almost total disregard for disciplining his wayward clerics, both in faith and morals, in addition to his constant bent toward having pagans pray to their false gods and implying that these people are saved; in addition to his side-stepping the Fatima revelations by claiming to have fulfilled the request to consecrate Russia in 1984 (which he never did); his decimation of the doctrine of Justification (the cornerstone of the Council of Trent) by his approval of the Joint Declaration which says, "man is justified by faith alone"; and his statement that "evolution is more than a hypothesis," there is not much in this pontificate to be proud of.

As for his good points, I admire him for disallowing women to be priests (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994), (although he followed this with allowing altar girls) as well as his appeals against abortion and population control, and many of his encyclicals that reiterate traditional truth about Mary and other Catholic theological points, are very good.


Question 28- Regarding God's Omniscience, Part II?

dear mr. sungenis,

thank you for your response, but i still have a questions.

i agree that God and much of His revelation is mysterious and beyond the ability of our limited intellects to grasp, but i still think that, just as God can't make a 4-sided triangle, He doesn't know what free beings definitely would do in hypothetical situations that they never were in nor ever will be in (although He does know what we will in situations that we will be in do because, as the catechism says, all moments are present for God). just as He cannot make a 4-sided triangle because there is nothing to actually make, He can't know what we would do in hypothetical situations because there is nothing to know. if a being is free, then unless it actually makes a choice in a given situation, there is no one single thing that it would definitely do in that situation. now, this subject can be debated back and forth, but that's not my question; rather, my question is whether or not the church has commented on this specific issue. the agnostic i'm debating with insists that unless i can prove to him otherwise, the official catholic position is that God does have the kind of knowledge in question. and when i say that, as far as i know, the church has not commented on the issue, he says that he doesn't know that much about what the church has and has not dogmatically defined, so for him the catholic encyclopedia is right until proven wrong. so, am i within the realm of catholic orthodoxy here, or do i fall under the anathema of an official church teaching (not just the opinion of the majority of catholic theologians)? your response is much appreciated.


R. Sungenis: JP, you would be out of the realm of orthodoxy, and indeed heretical, if you did not hold to the fact that God knows all things, past, present and future, even those things that men will decide in the future of their own free will. Here are the infallible declarations of the Church:

“God is...infinite in intellect and will...” (Denz 1782, Vatican Council I)

“For all things are naked and open to His eyes, even those which by the free action of creatures are in the future.” (Denz 1784, Vatican Council I).


Question 27- Geocentrism

Subject: Re: radial motion
Sorry- I apologize for being an ass, please respond as I enjoy an intelligent discourse and so few are capable.
I belong to a creationevolution group, and we regularly slander each other w/o impunity-it's a generational thing. The point is that Hubble has very accurately now measured the parallax of thousands of stars; additionally, over many years astronomers can measure the independent motion of stars and therefore calculate their space velocity (a product of their angular change and radial motion). If stars are moving independently (although they have a component of motion in the direction of the motion of their birthing spiral arms), and billions of other bodies are in motion how can you possibly believe that we and we alone, are we the only body not in motion in the entire Universe. It defies belief! Sorry, I'm becoming hysterical!

R. Sungenis: First of all, parallax does not prove the Earth is in motion. The heliocentric version of parallax, as you know, is based on the 2AU distance of its supposed circuit. But in the geocentric system, it is the stars, in their annual rotation around the Earth, which move a proportional 2AU distance. As such, the angles of displacement in both the heliocentric and geocentric versions are identical.

As for the argument that because billions of other bodies are in motion then why would the earth not be in motion, this doesn't prove anything either. It is a simple fact of nature that the center point of a circle, although there may be billions of point at different radai moving around the center, the center itself does not move. The only was current astrophysics could escape this is by proving there is an infinite universe, but they realize that Olber's paradox precludes such an answer.END

Additionally, what of Occam's Razor as applied to this argument (are we to make a special dispensation for it in this case) & Adam's navel-yes, that's right Adam's no navel problem.

R. Sungenis: Occam's razor is a highly-overrated and often misused axiom. When it comes to science, most things are very complicated. Mario Bunge has very plainly shown, in his little book The Myth of Simplicity, how simplistic and naïve it is to assume that the most scientifically valid theory always turns out to be the least intricate” (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1963). END

One more thing (maybe), if ballistic bodies (including molecules in fluids) are deflected from their paths over the earth's surface (rt. no/, then taking your point of view that an external force is acting on all of these bodies instantaneously then no calculus or computing maching could possibly supply all of those vectors simultaneously.

R. Sungenis: Our criterion for validity is not whether a computer can add up all the forces. The only criterion is Mach's principle that a rotating earth in a fixed universe is the same, mechanically, as a fixed earth in a rotating universe. END

Incidentally, if you hold that life's origin is instantaneous you must also believe in computation without form or matter. To be specific GOD would have had to have instantaneously calculated the shape, chemical composition, active sites, of every enzyme and planned every metabolic pathway in each and every cell in each and every organism on this planet; not to mention a calculation of the interactions of all of these organisms and their effects on each other and on all of the abiotic constituents in each and every ecosystem on this planet. How could that be possible? The Universe could not hold a computer large enough to effect this calculation for even one planet with evolved life forms let alone the at least 1000 or so that are in the Milky Way based on a conservative Drake formulation. If you have to cogitate over this a few days I don't mind. Sincerely yours, your Unitarian brother Alfred.

R. Sungenis: No extended cogitation needed. The simple fact is that it would take an infinite intelligence to figure it all out and put it all together. Nothing less will do. If one fact escape his purview, then the whole system will come crashing down. Fortunately, the Catholic faith believes in such a God, who created everything out of nothing, and Who upholds it by the power of His will.


Question 26- Regarding God's omniscience

dear mr. sungenis,

i'm sorry for such a long question, but i really need an answer.

i've been debating with an agnostic about a facet of the problem of evil. he says that since God knows everything that we would do, he could've chosen to create only those who He knows would never sin. i responded by saying that i don't believe that God knows what we would definitely do in hypothetical situations because there is no definite answer. if there were a definite answer, then our actions would be determined by God rather than our free will. therefore, the only way for God to know what we will choose is to let us actually make the choice. and, as the catechism says, God can know our free actions from all eternity and, based on that knowledge, predestine the elect to heaven because "to God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. when therefore he establishes his eternal plan of 'predestination,' he includes in it each person's free response to grace" (ccc 600).

however, he responded by saying that catholic theology holds that God does in fact know what we would do in hypothetical situations, and he quoted the catholic encyclopedia:

"That God knows infallibly and from eternity what, for example, a certain man, in the exercise of free will, will do or actually does in any given circumstances, and what he might or would actually have done in different circumstances is beyond doubt"

my response to this was that the catholic encyclopedia is not infallible and that the church has (as far as i know) never said whether or not God has the kind of knowledge in question. therefore, even though the majority of theologians may believe that he does, i don't think i'm outside the realm of orthodoxy in believing that He doesn't. so am i within the realm of catholic orthodoxy on this issue, or am i espousing heresy? your response is much appreciated.


R. Sungenis: JP, the Catholic Encyclopedia is right, but there is more to the answer than merely asserting God's omniscience.

On the one hand, we have an example in Scripture in which God demonstrates that He knows what man's free will decisions will be, 1 Samuel 23:1-14. We wouldn't expect anything less of God, since, being infinite, nothing can escape His knowledge. On the other hand, men make their decisions freely, without coercion or determination by God. This must be the case, otherwise God would then be the determiner of man's sin, and God assures us He is not. This is where the Calvinists went off the track. Zwingli is noted for saying that "God is the sinless author of sin," but that, of course, is blasphemous.

So, in the end, there is a difference between God knowing all things that will happen and what He actually determines will happen. For example, God determined to create the world, but He did not determine for Adam to sin. To help answer this (but no one in history has had a complete answer) Aquinas said that God knows some things contingently (an aspect of this issue upon which Molina capitalized in his theory of "middle knowledge"). Thomas makes a distinction in God's knowledge, even though he teaches that God is omniscient. But it is more than just a distinction without a difference. It is a real ontological difference. That is, the contingencies cannot be overshadowed by the omniscience, otherwise we would not have true contingency, and thus God would become the determiner of sin. Thus, knowing things through contingency and knowing things through omniscience mysteriously work together, but without contradiction. Other than that, we simply do not have an explanation, and we probably will never have one on this side of the grave.

Let's approach this from another angle. Let's use God Himself as the example. Is God a determined Being or is He free? If He is determined, that means He had no choice but to create the world and watch Adam sin and send His Son as a man. But if that were the case, then God would be the cause or determiner of Adam's sin.

But if God is free and not determined, then He could change anything about Himself He desires and thus not be the same God He was previously, but a God who changes in His substance cannot be God.

(Even here we must be careful because one could use the argument that, if God changes Himself, then the ability to change must have always been an integral part of God and therefore He didn't really change, but then we have developed what they call in logic an "infinite regress," and ultimately a logical contradiction we cannot solve).

The only correct answer is that God is both determined and free, but we cannot say He is one or the other alone. But, of course, if God is both free and determined, then we have a paradox.

This analysis shows that the problem between God knowing things omnisciently or contingently, coupled with man's free will, goes right back to the nature of God Himself, which we cannot explain. All such questions invariably end up at what St. Paul calls the "unfathomable ways" of God (Romans 11:33). That is where St. Paul leaves us after he broaches this very subject of God's determinations and man's free will in Romans 9:1-23. I assume we will be contemplating it for all eternity, once we see the Beatific Vision.


Question 25- Is the Eucharist just a Meal, according to Mane nobiscum Domine?

15. "There is no doubt that the most evident dimension of the Eucharist is that it is a meal. The Eucharist was born, on the evening of Holy Thursday, in the setting of the Passover meal. Being a meal is part of its very structure… As such, it expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with us and which we ourselves must build with one another."

If the most evident dimension of the Eucharist is that it is a meal, and being a meal, it expresses the fellowship that God wishes to establish with us, then could we not say this "fellowship" is the primary end of the Eucharist? Likewise, if the most evident dimension of the Eucharist were that it is a sacrifice, what the sacrifice means or expresses would be the primary end. Traditionally, the Magisterium has taught that the ends of the Mass are: 1.) to give glory to God, 2.) to give thanks to God, 3.) expiation, propitiation, and reconciliation, and lastly, 4.) impetration (from Mediator Dei, Pius XII, para. 71-74).

My questions are:
1. How can the meal be the most evident dimension and fulfill these four ends of the Eucharist? To me, it can be seen that the "meal" dimension of the Mass relates to number 4, but it is the sacrificial dimension that relates to numbers 1, 2, and 3.
2. Is there distinction between a meal with a sacrificial meaning and the sacrifice that has a meal element to it?

Thank you,

Joseph Pietras

R. Sungenis: Joseph, I think it is better to quote the whole of paragraph 15 before we comment. There you will see a two-sided view of the Eucharist from John Paul II. The paragraph you didn't quote contains the sacrificial part.

15. There is no doubt that the most evident dimension of the Eucharist is that it is a meal. The Eucharist was born, on the evening of Holy Thursday, in the setting of the Passover meal. Being a meal is part of its very structure. "Take, eat... Then he took a cup and... gave it to them, saying: Drink from it, all of you" (Mt 26:26, 27). As such, it expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with us and which we ourselves must build with one another.

Yet it must not be forgotten that the Eucharistic meal also has a profoundly and primarily sacrificial meaning. In the Eucharist, Christ makes present to us anew the sacrifice offered once for all on Golgotha. Present in the Eucharist as the Risen Lord, he nonetheless bears the marks of his passion, of which every Mass is a "memorial", as the Liturgy reminds us in the acclamation following the consecration: "We announce your death, Lord, we proclaim your resurrection...". At the same time, while the Eucharist makes present what occurred in the past, it also impels us towards the future, when Christ will come again at the end of history. This "eschatological" aspect makes the Sacrament of the Eucharist an event which draws us into itself and fills our Christian journey with hope."

So here we see the pope say that the Eucharist is "profoundly" and "primarily" a sacrificial event, pointing directly back to Golgatha and making that event present to us.

This is quite different and subordinate to saying that the Eucharist as a meal is its "most evident dimension." What the pope is saying here is that, ostensibly, or what we see visually, the most evident aspect of the Eucharist is a meal, but underneath that dimension is the "sacrificial" part, which is "primary." He is correct. Just like the most evident dimension of your body is your skin, but underneath of it are all your vital organs which make your skin function.


Question 24- Did Mary take a Vow of Virginity; Is the H. Spirit the Spouse of Mary?

Mark Stevens

1. In Mary's reply to the angel "How shall this be since I do not know man?" (Luke 1:34), the Church has understood that Mary had a vow of virginity. How solid is this? Would it be similar to someone saying, "You will become drunk" and a reply of, "How shall this be since I don't drink?" Does the Greek of Luke 1:34 support this?

R. Sungenis: I really don't know anywhere that the Church teaches, even remotely, that the Holy Spirit is the spouse of Mary. Neither the Fathers, Aquinas or any official Church document teach it. Scripture never refers to the Holy Spirit as Mary's spouse. Conversely, these same witnesses commonly speak of the Church as the bride of Christ (e.g., Council of Trent: " the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, so that He might leave to His beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice [can. 1]."(Denz. 938)). The Church merely teaches that Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. All the above witnesses, however, teach clearly that Joseph was her only husband. If the Holy Spirit was her husband, then Mary would have had two husbands. In fact, Augustine speaks of the Holy Spirit providing the husband Joseph and the wife Mary with a child:

Augustine: "What the Holy Spirit wrought, He wrought for both." "Being a just man," saith the Gospel. The husband then was just and the woman just. The Holy Spirit reposing in the justice of them both, gave to both a Son. In that sex which is by nature fitted to give birth, He wrought that birth which was for the husband also. And therefore doth the Angel bid them both give the Child a name, and hereby is the authority of both parents established. For when Zacharias was yet dumb, the mother gave a name to her newborn son. And when they who were present "made signs to his father what he would have him called, he took a writing-table and wrote" the name which she had already pronounced. So to Mary too the Angel saith, "Behold, thou shalt conceive a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus." And to Joseph also he saith, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Sermons, 30).

Hence, the connection with Ruth 3:9, although analogous in imagery, cannot be used to establish any kind of spousal relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit. This is the problem with Catholic apologists trying to find various imageries of Mary in the Old Testament, since they often try to make doctrine out of the imagery. That can't be done on a consistent basis. END

3. I prefaced the bible study in our e-mail advertisement with a statement suggesting that Calvin, Luther, and other early Protestants believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. I intended to support this with a couple of quotes, which I have. I really didn't expect much out of this since most of the regular Protestants in the group aren't really into Protestant history very much. However, my comments went out to a lot of inactive people in the study group and suddenly there is a lot of interest in this topic, concerning Calvin's views. At least one of these guys is a pretty hard core Calvinist (I think), but has expressed surprise that Calvin believed this. Do you have anything more in this regard? I have the following from Calvin. Does this match what you have? Is there more?

John Calvin

Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ's 'brothers' are sometimes mentioned.

{Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562), vol. 2 / From Calvin's Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949, p.215; on Matthew 13:55}

[On Matt 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called 'first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.

{Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 107}

Under the word 'brethren' the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity.

{Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 283 / Commentary on John, (7:3) }

R. Sungenis: These are all you need to prove the point, Mark. I have some others but I would have to dig them up, and don't have the time at the moment.

God be with you.


Question 23- I NEED an answer that only you can provide!!!!

Mr. Sungenis,

I am a Catholic who has read several hundred books, Bibles of all kinds, catechisms, tracts, magazines etc. I am well versed on most of the issues that separate Catholicism from everything else. Most Catholics would probably consider me knowledgeable. I do not feel that way.

My main problem is this: I really cannot see that any Catholic translation other than the Douay Rheims is of any value to any Catholic who really wants to study the True Faith. I have wrestled with this issue for a long time. The 'mainstream' Catholic apologists all advise using the RSV. Upon researching this translation I have found that even many Protestants find this to be a liberal translation. I have a great desire to set-up an apologetics Bible that is complete with cross references, highlights, notes etc. I got so fed up with much of the apologetics material that I sold much of my collection and gave many items to a prison ministry. At this point I only have the Douay Rheims published by Baronius Press. I have your books and live near several Catholic bookstores so I have the ability to obtain material very easily. I find that many of the books that I purchased are of little use because I believe they have 'modernist tendencies'.

I would appreciate any and all advice you could give me on this situation. It is a great desire of mine to become a knowledgeable, faithful Catholic and will spend the rest of my life(I'm 42) studying the Faith and can use some guidance and a suggested reading list. God has given me a good, intelligent mind and a desire to learn. Please help me at your earliest convenience.


R. Sungenis: Louis, if you have a love for the Bible, and have found that the Douay-Rheims is the one for you (and I agree whole-heartedly with you), then I would minimize buying any other books for now, and set your heart on studying the Bible by itself. I used to study the Bible, by itself, for 5-6 hours per day. I still do, on occasion. There is no substitute for allowing God to speak to you directly through His word. Just read the Bible, make notes as you go, cross reference, etc. Get thoroughly familiar with the Bible itself. Of course, you will need some help along the way, but make these other sources only about 25% of your time allotment. The only books I would buy are a set of the Early Fathers, a Greek and Hebrew interlinear translation and lexicon, a good concordance, a Catechism, Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Vatican II documents, the Haydock Bible. That's it, at least for now.


Question 22- Can We Pray with Non-Catholics?

You educate me greatly by your wisdom and writings.

Is it your contention that if I work or live with nonCatholic Christians and we pray the Our Father together daily, that I am sinning?

Thanks, Albert

R. Sungenis: Not necessarily, since if they are already praying the Our Father with you and know that you are a Catholic then it appears they have accepted your Catholicism, and in that sense seek unity with you. Your job, according to Vatican II, is to make complete unification with the Catholic Church an invitation to them. Conversesly, it is only those who repudiate the Catholic faith with whom we would not want to pray.


Question 21- Assisi and Your Discussion with James Likoudis

Mr. Sungenis,

Thank you for clarifying your position on Dr. Hahn for me.

I would now like to critique your response to James Likoudis on Assisi.

Beginning with canon law, as this is something you say people do not comment on:

"The Christian faithful are free to make known their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires to the pastors of the Church. In accord with the knowledge, competence and preeminence which they possess, they have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard for the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons" (Can 212-2, 3).

I fully agree with the canon law. It’s your interpretation of it that worries me. Although not stated, it seems that “due regard for the integrity” of their pastors would mean informing the pastors prior to publishing something. Many people critical of Assisi, I am sure, have not written the Holy Father prior. Even less likely would be people going to him, like saints have done in the past, to speak to him about it in person. Furthermore, in this day of rapid communication on web, your
criticisms of the Holy Father are not just made known to the “other Christian faithful” but to Jews, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, or even teenagers weak in the faith. Is this prudent? I would say not, for the same reasons the law says “Christian faithful” and not just “others

R. Sungenis: Admittedly, "due regard for the integrity of their pastors" is a key clause. I see your interpretation, and agree with it. The fact is, I know people at the Vatican who read our website and the articles I write in The Remnant and Catholic Family News. I am using that for my communication to them. There are other people closer to the pope who, following Canon Law 212, have told him directly of their problems with his Assisi initiatives. So the prescriptions have been followed.

In addition, I believe that "due regard for the integrity of their pastors" also refers to the necessity to recognize the authority of the pastor and our responsibility to submit to him in all things lawful. That is why we, at the CAI website, make it a point to uphold the papal office to its highest esteem (as we distance ourselves from sedevacantists and the SSPX), and we uphold all the proclamations the pope has written (the Catechism, his encyclicals, etc) as being authoritative for the Church. We also uphold Vatican II, and are not opposed to the pope's appeal to it. THAT, I believe, is the most important way we can have "due regard for the integrity of their pastors." These are the men God has placed above us, and we better make sure we give them their proper allegiance. On the other hand, it is these very pastors who gave us Canon Law 212, and thus, by their order, it is our "right and duty" to express our concerns to them (in whatever media is available) and to all the Christian faithful.

As for "Jews, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, or even teenagers," I don't think it was the Holy Father's intention of hiding Canon Law 212 from them, since Canon Law is a public document that the pope wishes all people would embrace.

Donato: You state: “I am against forcing Catholics to pray alongside of pagans who pray to their false gods.” Did the Holy Father FORCE this upon anyone? I am not aware that any Catholics were FORCED to be at Assisi. Please correct me if I am wrong.

R. Sungenis: When you use this kind of argumentation, Donato, you are implying that you sense some impropriety in Assisi, since your argument seems to be based on the idea that the pope didn't FORCE anyone to sin by praying with pagans, he merely ASKED them to do so.

Be that as it may, using his authority, the pope did indeed demand that his cardinals and bishops set up Assisi, attend Assisi, and partake in Assisi.

Donato: Then you and Likoudis discuss whether or not this was evangelization. You comment that maybe 1986 was prep-work for evangelization, but then why was not Assisi 2 more vigorous in promoting Christ and His Church? I would have to say it IS preparation for evangelization. It is the role of the rest of the world to follow up on the Holy Father’s prep-work. You know that, already, as you have made it your life’s work (and God bless you for it).

R. Sungenis: Donato, I would never say that Assisi 1986 was "prep-work for evangelization." If anything, I would have put the onus on the pope. That is, if, as some claim, that Assisi 1986 was for "evangelization," then why wasn't anyone evangelized with the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the remaining 16 years including Assisi 2002? The facts speak for themselves. For 16 years, and now 18 years, not one of these pagans has had the Gospel preached to him from the pope, and the pope is near death. I'll leave it at that.

Donato: Lastly on this point, seeing the world’s top religious leader working for peace is a witness. That’s a beautiful form of evangelization for the Eastern mind that is more emotional and mystical and less rational than ours. I don’t mean those terms in a derogatory sense; I mean it as a fact of the way we think and perceive the world. God and His Church are bigger than our fallible minds and cultural blocks.

R. Sungenis: I'm all for peace on earth, Donato, but the way to get there is not by having pagans pray to their false gods for it, because false gods simply can't provide peace. The only way we can have peace on earth, as the angels sang at Jesus' birth, is when men submit their hearts and wills to Jesus Christ and his Church, not false gods. False gods will create war, not peace, and that is why the world is still an armed camp, and we are seeing virtual WWIII over in the Middle East.

Donato: Lastly, on the Aquinas selection that Likoudis used. Who are we to say that “world peace” is not something necessary for the salvation of these pagans? We can’t assume it is or it is not. God may hear their prayer.

R. Sungenis: Sure, world peace is important for these pagans, but they will get peace if they first make peace with God. If they make peace with God first, God will give them peace with man. As Scripture says, God will make even your enemies to be at peace with you --(Proverbs 16:7: "When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him"). But the Aquinas section of the dialogue was merely used for one purpose -- to point out Mr. Likoudis' misapplication of Aquinas' quote. Likoudis tried to say that Aquinas was promoting prayer with pagans, but he forgot to read the part where Aquinas said that the only prayer God hears from a pagan is the prayer of repentance.

Donato: Also, a more developed form (in the Newman sense of the word) of Thomism may recognize that other types of prayer can be heard and answered by God. When a pagan has his prayers answered, we have no idea if it was his demon or the true God who answered him. You seem to say that it is always his false god. I don’t think the Church has ever defined this. Isn’t Christ united to all men as a result of the Incarnation?

R. Sungenis: Yes, Christ is united to all men, the problem is whether the men are all united to Christ. A person who rejects Christ has repudiated that unification. We need to show the pagans how they can take advantage of the fact that Christ is, and wants to remain, united to them. And since they are united to Christ, why would we insist that the pagan pray to a false god rather than to Christ?

In fact, this is the most contradictory part of the pope's message. He quotes Vatican II and says that all men are united to Christ, but then he insists that the pagans not pray to Christ but pray to their false gods, and allows them to continue praying to their false gods for the next 16 years without saying one word to them about their responsibility to pray to Christ alone.

St. Paul did just the opposite. When he saw the pagans of Athens in Acts 17:24-31, he told them that, yes, God was "united" to them, since "in Him we move and have our being" and he even quoted one of their own poets to support what he was saying (Acts 17:22-28). But immediately after that (Acts 17:29-31), St. Paul told them to forsake their false gods and unite themselves directly to Christ, for the time would come when God would condemn them unless they did so.

I think the message is quite clear, Donato.

God be with you.

Robert Sungenis


Question 20- What Do You Think of Scott Hahn?

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

What did you think of Scott Hahn?

God bless,


R. Sungenis: I think he is a good Catholic and I admire him for his pursuit of holiness. I like his wife, I like his kids, and I think that they are good models for Christian behavior. I think he has done many good things for the Church, and I think he has taught many good things. I do, however, question some of his theological positions and interpretations of Scripture. But I told Scott several months ago (when a Protestant was trying to divide us) that I critique him (and he has the right to critique me) for the good of the Church, not for its of his detriment. We are supposed to be in this for the sake of truth, not our egos, not our pride, not for anything else except truth, for only the truth saves people and brings them out of ignorance. That is why CAI exists, and God willing, we will continue in that vein.


Question 19- Questions about the Deutero-canonical books, Follow up

Thank you for your response.
The references to both Daniel and Proverbs cannot be found in any English translations. They do however appear in the Septuagint. Are you aware of any English translations that include such language in their verses?

R. Sungenis: I quoted Daniel 4:24 from the Douay-Rheims. The Protestant translations have the same verse in Daniel 4:27.

Concerning Tobit, the details we are given is that in his younger days, "the whole tribe of Naphtali, my ancestor, broke away from the House of David and from Jerusalem." (Tob 1:4). True, the calf that is spoken of could have been worshipped at a time after the reign of Jeroboam, but combined with this prior knowledge about the revolt that we associate with taking place under Jeroboam, evidence would suggest that Tobit is suggesting his youth during this particular time.

R. Sungenis: I don't think so. The author would have known that, since Tobit was captive in the days of Sahlmaneser whose reigned ended in 722 BC, then Tobit couldn't possibly be alive in the time of Jeroboam, since he says that Tobit was 102 when he died (Tobit 14:2). So the only logical conclusion is that in Tobit's days the idols of Jeroboam were still dominating the landscape of Israel. This is confirmed by the fact that Jeroboam's idols were still mentioned as existing as far down the line as the reign of Josiah (641-609) in Judah, three hundred years after Jeroboam had originally set up the idols (2 Kings 23:15).

Finally, the Nebuchadnezzar of Ninevah, as being different from the Babylonian one, is a detail that I had not given serious thought. It this your theory, or do historians generally recognize a Ninevite monarch by this same name, who was also called Saoduchin?
Thank you for your time in responding.
Kelly J. Wilson

R. Sungenis: Yes, in fact, most secular historians know him as Saoduchin


Question 18- Dinosaurs, Cain's Wife and the Church against Evolution

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I work for the Catholic Church serving the young people of our parish. I recently have had a group of young people graduate from High School and move on to College. The high time has come - and they are being bombarded with the tenents of secular thought and education. One of my past youth is a young bright woman who loves Jesus very much, but is being hit with the theories of evolution in her biology classes. She recently sent me some questions that she is trying to figure out. Maybe you have answered these in detail before, and if you have, would you please e-mail me those answers so I can get them to her. Otherwise would you be kind enough to answer her questions that I have pasted below and send them back to me, so I can get them to her. As always I am grateful for your work and service to the Church. I pray that that God will continue to bless, and sanctify you in through the trials and sufferings that are found in defending the integrity of the One True Faith. Below is the e-mail with the questions she sent me:

"Hey Mike!
I thought that you probably didn't have too much too do today so I have a couple questions you can either 1. try to answer or 2. refer me to books that may have positions or answers to these questions. Basically, they have to do with evolution. We are studying it in my biology class and lots of questions have come up. So, any information about where the church stands would be nice, but also these were some things I was wondering about-
1. How can we explain the existence of dinosaures? They are never mentioned in the Bible and were created long before human existence.
2. It says in Genesis 4:17 that Cain had relations with his wife. If Cain and Able came from Adam and Eve, the first human- where did Cain's wife come from?
3. There is strong evidence that things of this world have evolved- not necessarily people. This goes to say that not everything was created in seven days. Where does the church stand on this?

My Biology book went as far to say that because all organisms have similar molecular processes and structures (cell division, genetic codes, ect.) that everything (trees, humans, ladybugs, and mildew as they exemplified) came from the same one thing. Now don't worry, I personally don't believe that the life I have evolved from a speck of bacteria and I know the line that comes between humans, created in God's image and likeness, and other organisms that lack souls and the promise for eternal life. I still have faith and I am not questioning to prove any sort of point. These were just some things on my mind."

Mr. Sungenis - I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks again.

Sincerely in Christ,
Michael Tober

R. Sungenis: Michael, here are the answers you need:

1) Dinosaurs are alluded to in the book of Job, under the names Leviathan and Behemoth (Job 3:8; 40:10, 20). As for dinosaurs living contemporaneously with man, the evidence is overwhelming. Evidence from dinosaur tracks being found in the same place as human tracks have been noted in about a dozen places all over the world. Moreover, pottery from ancient civilizations show models of dinosaurs that look remarkably similar to the types with which we are familiar (Brontosaurus, T-Rex, Triceratops, etc). I suggest you get the DVD by Don R. Patton, Ph.D titled "Record of the Rocks." You can obtain it from It is one of the most important films of our times, because it deals with nothing but hard evidence regarding the dinosaurs and humans coexisting. It will show you what a shame the science industry of Evolution really is.

2. Cain's wife came from the other children born to Adam and Eve. Genesis 5:4 says that Adam begat "other sons and daughters." Since at that time the ravages of sin and disease had not penetrated the human race (as can be understood by the long ages they lived prior to the Great Flood which changed the climate appreciably), then one could mate with a sibling and the children from that union would not suffer any deleterious effects.

3. Lateran Council IV and Vatican Council I assure us that all thing, visible and invisible, were created in the six days of Creation week, and there is nothing being created by God at the present time.

Lateran VI says: Firmly we believe and we confess simply that the true God is one alone, eternal, immense, and unchangeable, incomprehensible, omnipotent and ineffable, Father and Son and Holy Spirit: indeed three Persons but one essence, substance, or nature entirely simple. The Father from no one, the Son from the Father only, and the Holy Spirit equally from both; without beginning, always, and without end; the Father generating, the Son being born, and the Holy Spirit proceeding; consubstantial and coequal and omnipotent and coeternal; one beginning of all, creator of all visible and invisible things, of the spiritual and of the corporal; who by His own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual, and corporal, namely, angelic and mundane, and finally the human, constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body. For the devil and other demons were created by God good in nature, but they themselves through themselves have become wicked. But man sinned at the suggestion of the devil.

Vatican Council I says: If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing, or, shall have said that God created not by a volition free of all necessity, but as necessarily as He necessarily loves Himself, or, shall have denied that the world was created to the glory of God: let him be anathema.

Pope Pelagius I, in 561, wrote to King Childebert I: "For I confess that...Adam and his wife, were not born of other parents, but were created, the one from the earth, the other from the rib of man."

In 1441, the Council of Florence stated in its decrees: " the creator of all things visible and invisible, who, when he wished, out of his goodness created all creatures, spiritual as well as corporal; good, indeed...since they were from nothing..."

In 1860, the Council of Cologne condemned the idea of human evolution in very straightforward words: "Our first parents were formed immediately by God. Therefore we declare that...those from spontaneous continuous change of imperfect nature to the more perfect, is clearly opposed to Sacred Scripture and to the Faith.

Pope Pius X in Pascendi Dominici Gregis, remarks how the theory of biological evolution has infected theological studies:

"First of all they lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change, and must in fact change, and in this way they pass to what may be said to be the chief of their doctrines, that of Evolution. To the laws of evolution everything is subject - dogma, Church worship, the books that we receive as sacred, even faith itself..."

Pope Leo XIII, in Providentissimus Deus in 1893 stated:

"The commentator...must carefully observe the rule...not to depart from the literal and obvious sense, except only where reason makes it untenable or necessity requires, a rule to which it is the more necessary to adhere strictly in these times, when the thirst for novelty and unrestrained freedom of thought make the danger of error most real and proximate."

Accordingly, the 1994 Catholic Catechism, in quoting St. Thomas Aquinas from the Summa Theologica, says in paragraph 116:

"The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and... ‘all other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.'"

Pope Leo also explained in the same encyclical:

"Moreover, the literal sense itself frequently admits other senses, adapted to illustrate dogma or to confirm morality."


Question 17- Help! Ecumenism Run Amuck in Grand Rapids

Dear Robert or someone at CAI:

See the article from my local newspaper below, The Grand Rapids Press.

I am a somewhat recent convert to the Faith (who enjoys your books and website), but I am appalled at what has taken place in our diocese here in Grand Rapids, MI. While I understand the idea that we all need to live in peace, this is just plain over-the-top and it was hosted by a local Catholic parish. Absent from this lovefest, not surprisingly, were any and all Protestant and Eastern Orthodox denominations that believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and the uniqueness of Christ . Other catholic parishes participated too, so I surmise that this is okay with the hierarchy. What can I as an individual catholic do (besides prayer) about this ecumenical craziness??

Thanks for any advice you may have.

All faiths say thanks
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
By Patricia Mish
The Grand Rapids Press
GRAND RAPIDS -- The fifth annual Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service was a feast for the senses.

The 500 participants who filled St. James Catholic Church on Bridge Street NW on Monday experienced an American Indian incense ceremony and thanksgiving prayers offered in multiple languages, representing Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Eastern religious traditions.

They heard traditional Christian music, the strains of a Hindu chant, classical guitar and the rich rhythms of Gospel music. They listened to words spoken by a priest, a Muslim, a rabbi, a Buddhist and a member of the Freethought Association. And they shared pews with people of different races, cultures and religions.

What brought them together was a desire to find unity, at a time when divisiveness has become a buzzword at home and abroad.

"The world is so divided up along religious lines," said David Maxam, a member of All Souls Community Church, a Unitarian Universalist congregation. "By coming here tonight, it's a way to say 'enough of that' and to take a stand."

The thanksgiving theme offers common footing on which to take that stand, said Tracie Coffman, also from All Souls. "No matter what we believe, we all have something to be thankful for."

The main speaker at Monday's service was Kamal Nuriddin, communications director for the Islamic Mosque and Religious Institute in Grand Rapids. Organizers tapped a Muslim to play a larger role in the ceremony to counter some of the religious tensions playing out on the international scene.

"We on the planning committee wanted to have someone from the Islamic faith if possible because we feel there are a lot of international issues revolving around Islam right now, and we wanted to have it represented by a responsible party," said the Rev. Tom Bolster, of St. James.

Participant Marilyn Titche, of Temple Emanuel, was glad to hear a Muslim perspective. "They are people the same as we are," Titche said. "You cannot group everyone in a religion and say they're bad. That's foolishness."

Nuriddin's talk focused on the importance of expressing gratitude to God at all times in Muslim prayer and tradition. He said he hoped the event would help increase tolerance and reduce stereotypes about Islam and other religions.

"There are so many issues -- the war, the elections -- so many things that can divide us," he said. "I think people, because we are social creatures, want to find a way to come together."

Maureen Birnie attended with her 3-year-old daughter, Lillie, who especially enjoyed the Hindu chant played with traditional instruments, including the harmonium.

"It's wonderful to take part in a service where various religions were represented," Birnie said. "Although we may be different, there's that commonality, that faith in God binds us all."

R. Sungenis: Dana, there is not much you can do, except to preach and teach the truth against this abomination. "Unity" is like money: it can be used by God or the devil. When God uses it, of course, it is good, and that unity, as the Church has always taught, is in the Catholic Church. All who come to the Catholic Church have the unity God intended for us.

The devil's unity is unity for unity's sake. An indiscriminate call for "unity" is the perfect way for the devil to get all the erroneous religions together for one big hodge-podge of unified error. And, because these people are spiritually blind, they will all pat each other on the back, since they think they have accomplished something by their "unity." But all that has really been accomplished is that the devil has used something sacred to deceive them, just as he did in the Garden of Eden when this whole mess started. The devil keeps using the same ploy because it works so well with gullible humans. What better way is there to make a devil appear like God than calling for "unity" and pretending that it doesn't already exist in the Church?


Question 16- Church History Book

Hello, My name is Kelly Wilson. It was suggested that I contact you concerning several questions that I have concerning the Deutero-canonical works. I have three questions, which I will now ask. If you have time to look at and answer them I certainly would appreciate it, but if not, I also understand.

1. Tobit 12:9 has Raphael informing that to give alms purges every kind of sin. Is there references or indications to such purges in the proto-canonical works?

R. Sungenis: Daniel 4:24: Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to thee, and redeem thou thy sins with alms, and thy iniquities with works of mercy to the poor: perhaps he will forgive thy offences.

Prov 15:27: He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house: but he that hateth bribes shall live. By mercy and faith sins are purged away: and by the fear of the Lord every one declineth from evil.

2. It is claimed in the Book of Tobit that he was alive when the Assiryans conquered Israel (722 B.C.) and also when Jeroboam revolted against Judah (931 B.C.). If Tobit only lived to be 158 as the Book seems to indicate, then how could this be?

R. Sungenis: The text of Tobit 1:5 doesn't say that Tobit was living when Jeroboam was living, but only that Jeroboam had placed idols in Israel that were still existing in the time of Tobit. In fact, in 2 Kings 17:21-22, the idols of Jeroboam are still mentioned as the impetus for Israel's apostasy when they are finally taken into captivity in 722 in the reign of Hoshea (or Osee) when Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria.

3. Judith speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as King of Ninevah rather than Babylon. Why is that?
Thank you for the time you have already taken reading this. Kelly J. Wilson

R. Sungenis: Because this Nebuchadnezzar is not the king of Babylon, but another king by the same name who was king of Nineveh. He succeeded Asarhaddon of the Assyrian kingdom, and was reigning at the same time as Manasseh in Judah (679-643). Some historians call his name Saosduchin. One source says he may be the same as Assarhaddon, and it is known that Assarhaddon resided in Nineveh in the twentieth year of his reign.


Question 15- Follow up on Abortion Question

Dear Mr. Sungenis and Mr. Forrest:

Your answers to my abortion question were so irresistably comprehensive and prompt that I must push my luck with one more query.

By the way, to show my gratitude I just made a $30.00 donation to Catholic Apologetics International, although your work is, as they say, priceless.

This is a question that's nagged me for some time but I keep forgetting to look it up; and perhaps it's out of your scope, but your scientific knowledge is quite impressive for a couple of flat-earthers. (I kid, of course.)

Once more, concerning abortion: Is there truly such an instance where a pregnancy directly jeopardizes the life of the mother? I'm aware of the humanist canard of the widely-interpreted health of the mother; and I vaguely remember C. Everett Koop's stating that such life-threatening instances are actually non-existent. Finally, I've read the Catholic Encyclopedia's discussion of direct-versus-residual bad consequences (the former of which is never justified) as these relate to abortion. Any info?
Thank you again for the wonderful service you provide, and may God bless you all in your crucial work.
James G. Brown

M. Forrest: Dear James,

Glad to be of help to you, and thank you so much for the donation. God bless you for it. Regarding the "life of the mother", there are a few angles to this question. This is my best understanding: First it is NEVER permissible to DIRECTLY kill an unborn child. However, as you mention, it IS permissible to take saving action (for the mother) that INDIRECTLY causes the death of the child. One instance would be an ectopic pregnancy, wherein a child is conceived in a fallopian tube. If allowed to continue, such a pregnancy would indeed threaten the life of the mother. As such, a doctor may open the fallopian tube and remove the embryo from the fallopian tube in order to save the mother (for instance). This will, of course, result in the death of the child. However, it is NOT permissible to, say, stick a knife directly into the child to kill it before removing it. The first is indirect, the second is direct.
Second, in relation to "Partial Birth Abortion", the Supreme Court (actually Sandra Day O'Connor) has insisted on a "life of the mother" exception for this barbaric practice. The AMA has said that this procedure is NEVER medically necessary, and any "life of the mother" exception is BOGUS. No mother's life REQUIRES that a baby be pulled out feet first up to the base of the skull, have scissor thrust into the back of his head, and have his brains sucked out before crushing his little skull. This is pure evil, James.

Third, the instances wherein a mother's life is truly in jeopardy amount to a tiny fraction of all abortions. To legislate based on such tiny exceptions is akin to saying we should let all criminals go free because a few might have been unfairly convicted. (In fact, this is the very line of bogus reasoning John Kerry used in his campaign, as a justification for refusing to outlaw abortion or refusing to sign "parental consent" laws).

Hope that helps.

God bless,

P .S. If your teacher has made her statements about abortion in front of others, may I make a suggestion? Now, this is totally up to you, but consider and pray about giving your paper with all the facts/research to your classmates. There may be ramifications (pro-aborts are VERY dogmatic about the goodness of killing children), so think hard about it. But, it may be a very good thing to do, from an eternal perspective.


Question 14- Mr. Latar's Erroneous Understanding of God's Anger

Dear Robert:
I saw a critique on your website authored by a certain Mr. Latar, calling your teaching that God has anger a "novelty." Mr. Latar even cited St. Thomas Aquinas to prove his point that God doesn't have anger. (I have also discovered other Catholic apologists advancing this novel view.) The only thing novel here is Mr. Latar's understanding of God as an emotionless deity who is not affected by human actions. I found Mr. Latar's critique troubling, not only because it lacks charity, but also because it demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of who God is - an intensely personal being who is deeply offended by sin (not to mention it contradicts the plain meaning of Scripture and the constant teaching Tradition of the Catholic Church on the nature of God).

When Aquinas says that there is no passion in God (the section of the Summa cited by Mr. Latar), he does not mean that God does not become angry at evil. Aquinas speaks of "passion" in the context of sensual appetite, which is a movement out of one's essential condition or connatural disposition toward a potentiality. Since God is pure actuality and is immutable, He can have no "passions" in this sense. Thus, Aquinas' teaching on the absence of passions in God cannot be used to demonstrate that God does not get angry at sin. If Mr. Latar holds the view that God does not get angry at sin, then he does not truly understand the atonement, and why God desires to continually see Christ's sacrifice in the Holy Mass.

In citing Aquinas, Mr. Latar evidently views anger only as a disordered passion (which it could be in certain circumstances), but not as a justifiable response to something that is contrary to truth. Jesus Himself burned with anger at the money changers in the Temple, and yet His divinity was not somehow compromised by His anger. We agree that anger, when it is a disordered passion, cannot be attributed to God because such anger desires the evil of another for vengeance's sake, as Aquinas teaches. However, anger is God's natural response to offenses against His nature, namely truth and justice. For God's truth to be upheld and His justice to be restored, God's anger must be propitiated. This is why Christ chose to die on the cross, and why God desires to see Christ's sacrifice sacramentally re-presented in the Holy Mass from the rising of the sun to its setting around the world. This is foundational for truly understanding the atonement.

Aquinas also teaches: "Now it is the proper effect of sacrifice to appease God: just as man likewise overlooks an offense committed against him on account of some pleasing act of homage shown him. Hence it is written (1 Kgs. 26:19): "If the Lord stir thee up against me, let Him accept of sacrifice." And in like fashion Christ's voluntary suffering was such a good act that, because of its being found in human nature, God was appeased for every offense of the human race with regard to those who are made one with the crucified Christ in the aforesaid manner" (Article [1], ad 4) (My emphasis.) Aquinas also states, God has a "hatred of evils, for the things we wish not to be we are said to hate."

Aquinas clearly states that God was appeased by Christ's sacrifice for every offense of the human race, and has a hatred of evils. Of course, God would only need to be appeased if He were actually angry at the offenses He hates. There is absolutely nothing in Catholic teaching to suggest that God does not have anger, and that Christ's appeasement of the Father through His eternal sacrifice is anything less than turning the Father away from His anger and wrath to His mercy for the forgiveness of sins. When we understand how God grieves and is angered over our actions, we can enter into a deeper relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. We are also able to more effectively and fruitfully participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the event that propitiates God for the very anger that Mr. Latar denies God has. This is the basis for understanding the atonement.

I hope this helps your patrons.

God bless.
John Salza

R. Sungenis: John, thank you so much for your excellent commentary. I am delighted that someone of your caliber can not only understand this truth, but articulate it so well. So often I see Catholic apologists, due to some prejudice they have built up, become, shall we say, very emotionally distraught over saying that God can truly become angry. They read it in Scripture but at each glance they have conditioned themselves to say "Oh, but that doesn't mean that God has anger, even though Scripture says he does." And that, as you have pointed out, is due in part to a misreading of Thomas on this subject. Although I intended to cover that area (but forgot), it is essential to understand that Thomas never says God does not have anger, rather, Thomas is clear that his concern is the sensual appetites of man, as he put it. When we put all of Catholic theology together, we should understand that God, indeed, has anger, and not at metaphor for anger. As our Marian apparitions have repeatedly stated, God is "offended" by our sins. We can't offend Him if He has no affectation..

God be with you.

Robert Sungenis


Question 13- Is "Prima Scriptura" a correct Catholic view of Scripture?


I just read the article by John Kamprath about Scott hahn's covenant theology. I read your triple feature as well. I was struck by the term prima scriptura. I never heard this term before. I did an internet search and found an article by Gary Hoge. In the article he says:

However, just because the Bible is not by itself sufficient for doctrine and practice, that does not mean it is not central and primary. The Bible is absolutely central to any Christian world-view. The Catholic Church has a doctrine called "prima Scriptura," which means that the Bible has primary authority over Tradition, and even over the teaching of the Church. The Tradition serves mainly to help us understand the Scriptures, and the Scriptures regulate the Church's teaching:

I have been teaching RCIA for ten years and have devoted myself to a faithful, orthodox presentation of the Church's deposit of faith. This so called doctrine of the church, "prima scriptura", seems to be contrary to anything I have ever read about revelation. What can you tell me about it?


R. Sungenis: Walt, the teaching of prima scriptura is an invention of Scott Hahn and has no place in Catholic theology. I am also sorry to see it on Gary Hoge's website. It is going to confuse a lot of people. I understand what Hahn is trying to say, but using the term prima scriptura is going to do more harm than good. There is no competition among Tradition, the Magisterium and Scripture that would lead us to make such a categorization (i.e., prima scriptura).

First, Scripture itself assures us that such is not the case, since it never designates itself as having the primacy above Tradition and the Magisterium. 1 Thess 2:13 and 2 Thess 2:15 assure us that Tradition has just as much importance and authority as Scripture. Although Tradition is sometimes harder to find and solidify than Scripture, once it is found it is on par with Scripture, since it is the oral testimony of God (via Christ or the Apostles), that was not put to writing.

In the same way, Scripture is clear that the Magisterium (in its highest realm) has the prerogative to bind and loose such that its binding and loosing will be the same as the binding and loosing in heaven. Heaven is where God resides, and God cannot lie. Therefore, any binding or loosing that the Church proclaims (and Jesus said "WHATEVER" you bind) will have the endorsement of God Himself, and therefore it will be infallible. (The only caveat here is that the Church must proclaim when her binding and loosing is infallible, and when she does, the above stipulation applies).

But like all such issues, dealing with Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium may be due to the limitations of our minds to think of all things at once. In one sense, we could certainly agree that Scripture, because every word of it comes from the mouth of God, is completely trustworthy every time we open its pages, whereas Tradition and the Magisterium have to be sorted out into fallible and infallible before we can put our complete trust in them, still, this is no reason to designate Scripture with the title "Prima Scriptura," since, when we are comparing Scripture against Tradition and the Magisterium, we are talking ONLY about the infallible Tradition and the infallible Magisterium.

Thus, in the category of the infallible, there is no primacy of Scripture, since both the infallible Tradition and Magisterium have their source directly in God Himself, just as Scripture does.

In fact, if one were going to make any distinctions between the infallible Tradition, the infallible Magisterium and inerrant Scripture, one would be more inclined to offer the primacy to the Magisterium, since in that realm we have provided for us the ultimate interpretation, given by infallible thinking persons (as protected by God to do so), as to what the meaning is of the words in Scripture that are, in themselves, entities that depend on an interpreter to determine the proper meaning from a variety of meanings inherent in using words in combination with one another; along with meanings that may change due to context and vocabulary that are used at different times in history.

Moreover, the infallible Magisterium is the product of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit Who has regard for the times in which the Church is acting. For example, it was at the Council of Trent that the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, finally decided to dogmatize the truths about the Canon of Scripture (what books belonged in the Bible), whereas prior to Trent we had only very authoritative, but not formally infallible, statements on Scripture's contents. Why was this canon infallibly decreed 1500 years after Scripture was written and not earlier in the Church's history? Well, the time was ripe in 1563 for the Church to make such an infallible declaration, and she was guided to do so by the Holy Spirit. This shows that, what we may call a higher calling than Scripture, it is the Church who decides, by the Holy Spirit, just when a topic will be discussed at length and what that final decision will be, and when it will now become infallible dogma. Thus, if we are speaking about the category of verifiable truth, then the Church has the primacy, although Scripture may have the primacy as far as "raw data" of truth is concerned. The question is: do we want to create such categories and promote one over the other? I believe the answer is no, and the Church herself has made no such distinction knowing the problems it would create.

The establishment of the Magisterium's equality with Scripture has been seen throughout history. Case in point is when the Church distinguished between homooiosios and homoouosios in settling the controversy regarding the identity and nature of Christ, a subject of which Scripture was not all that clear (at least in the exactitude that the Church needed to make dogma). When the Church (the Council of Nicea) chose homoouosios and rejected homooiosios we can depend upon it that that word was just as infallible as if it came from the mouth of God Himself, since the Council of Nicea was guided by the Holy Spirit to produce dogma without error. One could not argue that the Council of Nicea's wording was less authoritative or less infallible than Scripture's based on the idea that the Council's words were written in the words of men (although protected from error by the Holy Spirit), since Scripture itself also says that Scripture was written in the words of men (although inspired by God).

There are occasions in which the "raw data" of Scripture is simply "too hot to handle," since it is far above our human comprehension to understand correctly. Case in point is the controversy between predestination and free will. Scripture seems plain enough that both exist, but how a human being is supposed to understand both at the same time doesn't seem possible, and the Church herself has refrained from trying to figure it out, although she, too, admits that both exist. The last time the issue was addressed was the Thomist/Molinist debates, but at that time the Church made no final decision on the outcome, and hasn't made one since. So here we see that, as far as we on earth are concerned, the Church sets the limits as to how Scripture is to be understood, and that could be considered a much more primal position than Scripture.

In heaven, perhaps, Scripture has the primacy, but in that case, it is actually God Himself Who has the primacy, since only He can give the final interpretation on His own words. As far as we on earth are concerned, it is, indeed, God Himself Who gives the final interpretation on His own words, and He does so by guiding the Church through the Holy Spirit. That God's words must be interpreted is evident by the fact that God leads the Church to make infallible interpretations of God's words recorded in the Bible.

On another level, that Scripture would be elevated to the theological status of "Prima Scriptura" is suspect from the get-go due to the questionable interpretations of Scripture coming from the pen of Scott Hahn who is the very one endorsing Prima Scriptura (e.g., the identity of the Holy Spirit; who sinned first in the Garden; the Millennium; the Covenant; Works of the Law, etc). It is precisely for the very reason that aberrant interpretations from well-meaning individuals are often produced from Scripture that we would be very reticent in giving Scripture the primacy in regards to what is most beneficial for us as Christians.

The bottom line is that we, as Catholics, do not want to promote a theological position (especially in the face of Protestants who make a market in such distinctions) that there is any kind of competition among Tradition, the Magisterium and Scripture. There is just too much overlap between each source for us to be making distinctions that will invariably influence how we view them. Moreover, if the Church herself has not dogmatized any such distinctions for its 2000-year history, then it would behoove people like Scott Hahn to refrain from making "Prima Scriptura" as if it's a long-lost teaching of the Church.


Question 12- Inquiry on Minkowski's "Space-Time"


Herbert Dingle, Professor Emeritus of History and Philosophy of Science, University of London, wrote the following:

"It is to (Hermann) Minkowski that we owe the idea of a 'space-time' as an objective reality -- which is perhaps the chief agent in the transformation of the whole subject from the ground of intelligible physics into the heaven (or hell) of metaphysics, where it has become, instead of an object for intelligent inquiry, an idol to be blindly worshipped." [1972. Science at the Crossroads. London: Martin Brian & O'Keeffe, p. 169]

Yet, Minkowski's version of the scenario has me confused:

"The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.

First of all I should like to show how it might be possible, setting out from the accepted mechanics of the present day, along a purely mathematical line of thought, to arrive at changed ideas of space and time." [Space and Time. In: H. A. Lorentz, A. Einstein, H. Minkowski and H. Weyl. 1923. The Principle of Relativity: A Collection of Original Memoirs on the Special and General Theory of Relativity. Translated by W. Perrett and G. B. Jeffery with some notes by A. Sommerfeld. Dover Publications, Inc., p. 75]

Minkowski's contention that "space-time" is based on experimental physics would seem to contradict the strictly mathematical construct he presented in the paper. If, as Dingle contended, Minkowski gave us the esoteric concept of "space-time", it seems to me he must have performed the experiments. The problem seems to me compounded by the following statement:

"The objects of our perception invariably include places and times in combination. Nobody has ever noticed a place except at a time, or a time except at a place. But I still respect the dogma that both space and time have independent significance. A point of space at a point of time, that is a system of values x,y,z,t, I will call a world-point."
[Ibid., p. 76]

That statement would seem to conflict with his earlier contention that the separate concepts must "fade away" (shades of Gen. MacArthur). Are you aware of any "experiments" (performed by him or anyone else) that confirmed the proposition of "space-time" (i.e., "the grand continuum")?

Yours in Christ,


R. Sungenis: Bill, to my knowledge, there has been no experiment confirming a "space-time continuum." It is all done by mathematics. This was pointed out as early as 1922 by Charles Lane Poor, in his famous book, Gravitation versus Relativity. He writes:

"Let us turn for a moment to some tenets that preceded the Einstein Theory of Relativity and led up to it. First comes the gloomy forecast of Minkowski that 'From henceforth [1908] space in itself and time in itself sink to mere shadows and only a kind of union of the two remains independent.' The layman is puzzled to know just what this sinking of space and time into mere shadows means, as also just what the union product is, and why the union has independence when its constituents have none. Usually constituents are more independent and lasting than combinations. In the nomenclature of the doctrine of which this is a part, time is styled a dimension and is used mathematically as a variable in common with space-dimensions. A 'fourth dimension' and 'fourth dimensional space' carry the semblance of mystery into the literature of the doctrine. Perhaps it will help toward clarity to restate Minkowski's forecast in more explicit terms: 'From henceforth dimensions in themselves and duration in itself sink to mere shadows and only a kind of union of dimension and duration remains independent. This brings the forecast within the testing power of the public."

After a few more comments he writes: "If the labels are not religiously glued to the factors, the result is liable to become a composite product that cannot be readily unscrambled. Mathematics is undoubtedly the greatest achievement thus far attained by man through purely intellectual processes; it is to be held in high reverence on this account, but it is not to be forgotten that many of its gerat achievements have been attained by generalizations and abstractions that gav the mathematical processes the freest possible sweep. Great as are its virtues, it has not wholly escaped the vices of its virtues. Results reached by means of the abstract and the imaginary are likely to carry these qualities into the product..."


Question 11- Please add my link to your site

Hello Robert,
It was good speaking with you by telephone about a month or so ago. You CAI Bible is having an impact on Protestant Ministers; I've been loaning my free copy to them and they are keeping it for several months. One Assembly of God Minister has changed his teaching on Mary because of it. I'll have to follow up more and see what else he might change. I will be mailing out the CAI Study Bible Vol. l to a Baptist Minister who has already moved closer to the Catholic Church after dialogueing with me for a few years. I can't claim a convert yet - the Holy Spirit does that; I just plant the seeds. Please have your webmaster add my web site link to your "links" page. Your web site link has been on my site for several months already. My web site is growing every month and is a teaching resource. I look forward to reading the new two books of yours that you mentioned, and of course Volume ll of the CAI Study Bible. Many Blessings from your Brother in Christ, Frederick Pogorzelski

R. Sungenis: Fred, yes, we will add your site to ours. Thank you so much for alerting me to it. Also, God bless you for being such a brave warrior in the fight for Catholicism. I'm so glad the CASB has been a help to you. Please pray that I can get the other volumes out in a timely fashion.


Question 10- Is Catholic Answers Correct about Priests and Homosexuality? Correct

"Fr. Vincent Serpa

Catholic Answers Apologist

Re: Does the Church forbid homosexual men from becoming priests?

Dear O,

This matter is usually dealt with on a diocese by diocese basis. Most and probably all dioceses and religious orders ask candidates to state their sexual orientation. If they are living a celibate life-style, at this time most dioceses and religious orders do accept them (all things being equal).

While most of the examples of clergy abuse appear to be homosexual in nature and such abuse is truly reprehensible, it is important to recognize that there are many, many people in the Church who live daily with the cross of such sexual orientation in a quiet, chaste manner. Further, many of these people are faithful clergy and religious.

The knowledge that there are any homosexually-oriented clergy and religious can be very disturbing to some people—regardless that such clergy and religious are chaste. From what I as a priest have seen, such sexual orientation is far more disturbing to those individuals who are themselves burdened with it. Because of the fidelity of such faithful clergy and religious, Rome has been reluctant to make a blanket restriction. After all such people are chaste because of the Lord’s favor. Without the favor of His grace, no one can be chaste regardless of sexual orientation.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P."

This is liberal claptrap – from a Dominican no less. I thought they were formed to combat heresies. This guy is spreading it, not combating it. Someone ought to do something about this lay papacy. CA is a sort of “American Catholicsm/Catholicism lite” and the fact they have a priest giving “answers” like this – answers so basic a first year seminarian could answer them is a joke.

There should be no public forums by or for Catholics unless they are excellent. Mediocrity in this regard, and misleading the faithful and others is scandalous.

Nice website. – Kevin McDonald, Halifax, N.S. Canada

R. Sungenis: Catholic Answers has it wrong again. The Church issued a very strong statement in 1961 barring any person with homosexual inclinations from the priesthood. Here is the wording:

"Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers."

Excerpt from: Careful Selection and Training of Candidates For the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders (S. C. Rel., 2 Feb., 1961) written by the Vatican Sacred Congregation for Religious.


Question 9- Was Abortion Allowed for Catholics Before 1869?

Dear Mr. Sungenis:

A graduate professor of mine calls the Church's condemnation of all abortions a "recent development." And I've read that, acting under the influence of Aristotle's belief that a fetus was "vegetative" before, say, 100 (?) days, the Church prior to 1869 considered abortions procured within that time frame to be "less serious." The Catholic Encyclopedia's abortion entry does not clearly refute this; in fact it leaves considerable room to infer the same conclusion stated by my smug, feminist professor.

From a Traditionalist Roman Catholic apologetics standpoint, could you briefly address this dilemma?

James G. Brown, Jr.
R. Sungenis: Abortion was never allowed, for any reason, in Catholic teaching.

First, for a brief history of the Catholic Church's stand against abortion, the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia states:

"The early Christians are the first on record as having pronounced abortion to be the murder of human beings; for their public apologists, Athenagoras, Tertullian, and Minutius (Eschbach, 'Disp. Phys.' Disp. iii) to refute the slander that a child was slain, and its flesh eaten, by the guests at the Agape, appealed to their laws as forbidding all manner of murder, even that of children in the womb. The Fathers of the Church unanimously maintained the same doctrine. In the fourth century the Council of Eliberis decreed Holy Communion should be refused all the rest of her life, even on her deathbed, to an adulteress who procured the abortion of her child. The Sixth Ecumenical Council determined for the whole Church, that anyone who procured abortion should bear all the punishments inflicted on murderers. In all these teachings and enactments no distinction is made between the earlier and later stages of gestation. For, though the opinion of Aristotle, or similar speculations, regarding the time when the rational soul is infused into the embryo, were practically accepted for many centuries, still it was always held by the Church that he who destroyed what was to be a man was guilty of destroying a human life" ("Abortion," The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 1, Robert Appleton Company, 1907, page 48).

Long before 1869, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, issued in the reign of Pius V in 1546, states:

"It was also for this reason that God instituted marriage from the beginning; and therefore married persons who, to prevent conception or procure abortion, have recourse to medicine, are guilty of a most heinous crime – nothing less than wicked conspiracy to commit murder" (Tan Books, 1982, p. 344).

In 1588, Sixtus V issued a statement in the document Effraenatan stating that the same civil and church penalties should apply to both abortion and homicide, whatever the age of the fetus.

In 1697, the Sacred Congregation of Pope Innocent XI condemned the following:

34. It is lawful to procure abortion before ensoulment of the fetus lest a girl, detected as pregnant be killed or defamed.

35 It seems probable that the fetus (as long as it is in the uterus) lacks a rational soul and begins first to have one when it is born; and consequently it must be said that no abortion is a homicide.

These pronouncements, all from the magisterium, were long before 1869. So, regardless whether some theologians were speculating that a fetus did not become a human being with a soul until at least 40 days after conception, they were not in line with the patristic evidence which condemned all abortion and made no distinction between conception and ensoulment, nor were they in line with the magisterial statements above.

This is precisely why Catholic teaching should not be based on theologians unless these the teaching of these theologians has been confirmed by the Church. Pius IX's declaration in 1869 making abortion a capital crime was merely the formal act certifying all previous patristic and magisterial condemnations of abortion throughout Church history, which condemnations made no distinction between conception and ensoulment.

In a residual matter, the popular teaching among some theologians that ensoulment took place subsequent to conception was also condemned by the Church.

Question 8- Is Catholic Answers' answer to "No Salvation Outside the Church" Correct


The following question and answer was in my church bulletin this past Sunday. I have some SERIOUS issues with this, despite the Impimatur.

1. Do you agree with "The Padre's" answer?


Dear Padre,

I have a question: Can every good person go to heaven after they die, even if they haven't been a Christian? My dad is from India and he just grew up with another religion. My mom, sister, and me are Catholic. I am afraid that we won't see each other again after we die.


Dear Mira,

Put your mind at ease. A person who is not a Christian can go to heaven. I imagine we will see many more people than we think in heaven. Heaven is not just for Christians, but for everyone who loves God and respond's to God's will in his or her life.

We know that God wants all people to be saved, not just Christians. Jesus began a Church to help people achieve salvation. What I know as a Catholic is that God called me into the Church. It is there that I will work out my salvation. I do not know why there are some people who have never heard of Jesus or who do not have the faith to join the Church. I do know that God wants them in heaven just like God want me in heaven.

You should pray for your dad and be a faithful Catholic. Perhaps your good example will help him become a Christian. Even if he never becomes a Christian, your prayers will help him work out his salvation without the benefit of the sacraments and a believing community. Ih he does what is right, God will reward him.

The Padre
Father Joseph Nolen, C.Ss.R.
2004 Liguori Publications, Liguori, MO 63057-9999 Printed in USA
Impimatur: Most Rev. Robert J. Herman, Archdiocese of St. Louis

And here's the response I got, from Michelle Arnold, Catholic Answers Apologist:

Yes, Fr. Nolen is correct that non-Christians may find salvation. To expand upon his answer, here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on the issue of the salvation of non-Christians:


This affirmation ["outside the Church there is no salvation"] is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience -- those too may achieve eternal salvation (CCC 847).

Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men (CCC 848).
The Catechism's passages are a more formal means of stating what Fr. Nolen told Mira: It is possible for non-Christians to find salvation so long as they are faithful to the light God has given them. They may not know until the next life that their salvation was accomplished through Christ and his Church. A Christian's prayers and example to non-Christians may be a means through which God can grant non-Catholics the grace of conversion.

Recommended reading:
Can Outsiders Be Insiders? by Fr. Peter Stravinskas
It Didn't Go Out With Vatican II by Mark P. Shea

Personally, I think they by-passed the question, in 2 ways:

1) The question was not dealing with the Catholic Church in particular, but with being a Christian in general.

2) In the question asked, "Mira" and her entire family were Catholic, therefore by definition the father would have been exposed to the gospel (Christianity) and to the Church. He evidently rejected it, as he is still not a Christian, and therefore, I think if "Outside the Church there is no salvation" applies to anyone, it would apply to him. ....would you care to elucidate further?

R. Sungenis: Yes, you are correct. Either they did not understand Mira's original question, or, as you say, they are side-stepping it. If Mira and her family are Catholic, then obviously the father knows about Catholicism but prefers to remain in an anti-Catholic religion. Therefore he has no excuse.

As for the general issue, this is a question we have dealt with at length in our CAI QA board in the past few months. Here are a few points we need to remember:

1) The Church, in her dogmatic teaching, has been very clear that membership in the Catholic Church and submission to the pontiff are required for salvation. Anyone who deliberately avoids the Church, or who leaves the Church, cannot be saved.

2) The only addition to that dogma (since the previous dogma did not cover it) is the matter of "invincible ignorance," which was addressed by Pius IX in one encyclical and one apostolic letter, but has still not reached the level of Catholic dogma.

As with all encyclicals, we give our undivided assent to it. The essence of Pius IX's message is that, if someone has NOT been given the information that it is necessary to be in the Catholic Church and under the pontiff in order to be saved, then God will not judge them for that sin, for he will only judge them based on what they know.

In line with out tradition, however, to be eligible for salvation it must truly be a case of "invincible" ignorance, that is, their ignorance of the Catholic Church must be absolute; in cannot be vincible.

Although in past times cases of absolute ignorance of the Catholic Church and her demands for salvation were more common (e.g., people in lands totally separated from the thoroughfares of the world), today, the possibility of not knowing about the Catholic Church is very remote. Thus, the margin of the world's people that could legitimately be placed in the "invincible ignorance" category is very small.

3) Of those who are legitimate qualifiers for "invincible ignorance," although they will not be judged for their ignorance of the Catholic Church, they will be judged for every other sin they have committed. The sad fact is that most people live lives that are against God and his laws. It is the rare individual who rises above the atheistic or agnostic society in which he lives and produces a life without mortal sin. Without the admonitions of the Gospel of faith, works and repentance to guide him, the likelihood of someone reaching a state of virtue worthy of heaven is very remote.

Thus, although paragraphs 847 and 848 of the Catechism are correct, the problem is that the Catechism is merely speaking from a theoretical basis, but does not address the stark reality that few people of the world will ever reach the required virtue, let alone repent of their former sins. This is precisely why there is such a desperate need to give the world the Gospel, for without the Gospel it is very unlikely in this sin-cursed world for anyone to do consistently what God requires.

4) The tendency of liberalism and neo-conservatism (e.g., Catholic Answers) is to infer from Pius IX's "invincible ignorance" and the 1992 Catechism that all people of all persuasions can be saved in the religions they practice, or that all people will be saved. These are grave falsehoods. There is no "invincible ignorance" among those of other religions who know of the Catholic Church and what she requires.

This is precisely why Pius IX also stated that, in our teaching of this topic, we are not allowed to go beyond what the Church has formally and dogmatically taught on the matter of "no salvation outside the Church." In other words, we should not be teaching that people can be saved outside the Catholic Church, but that salvation can only be found in the Catholic Church. We leave the rest in the hands of God and let him make the determination. We are not in the business of determining who is or will be saved. Only God is.

The minute we think that it is not really necessary to preach the Gospel to them because we have resolved that they can be saved based on their own religion, knowledge and piety, then we have imbibed the error of modernism.


Question 7- A Difficult Situation

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I am currently in the midst of a problem very close to my heart. Any advice on how best to deal with this situation would be enormously appreciated.

A very good friend of mine has recently totally lapsed from Catholicism. She didn't do this just on a whim, but rather it was the result of several months of personal agony for her, which led to the loss of her love of God and the Church. Just over a year ago, her older cousin committed suicide by hanging himself. It is probably unnecessary to go into great detail about the circumstances involved, but it should suffice to say that he was bullied and mentally tortured by an evil man who initially pretended to be his friend, to the point that he felt he had no means of escape but to kill himself.

She recently confided to me that she felt that a God who had always been presented to her as loving and caring had abandoned both her and her cousin. Before her cousin’s suicide, she used to regularly pray for all matter of intentions. Her cousin (who was also Catholic) did the same. She simply can’t understand why a loving God would let something as terrible as this happen. Although everyone was unaware of the bullying her cousin was being subjected to, my friend is at a loss as to why God seemingly did nothing to rectify his situation, despite the fact that he (presumably) prayed and prayed to be spared from the evil whims of his tormentor. At present, I would say that my friend could most accurately be described as a deist. She believes in the existence of God, but sees Him as a distant, uncaring, irrelevant entity, rather than a loving Father to Whom we should dedicate our lives.

My difficulty is not in explaining the reason for the existence of suffering, as I have debated this point many times with atheists, agnostics and lapsed Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. I can clearly explain the root of suffering in our first parents’ disobedience. Likewise, I find no great difficulty in explaining the role of temporal punishment (both on earth and in Purgatory) in making satisfaction to God for the sins of ourselves and mankind in general. I can point out examples in the Bible of people such as Job and Tobias who remained faithful to God despite immense personal tragedy. Finally, I can list saints whose lives were characterized by suffering. In short, theological instruction is not the problem here.

Rather, I am unsure of the correct method of putting these points across to my friend. She has been left hugely emotionally scarred by this incident, as I am certain you can imagine. Whilst she continues to be a wonderful friend, she is completely hostile to the concepts of God and religion. In her eyes now, prayer is useless. As far as she can see, God doesn’t care; it seems as if He abandoned her cousin. I thought about pointing out that tragedies occur on a much larger scale (e.g. the September 11 attacks to list an extreme example) regularly. Her Faith has never seriously wavered before in light of earthly suffering. I think this issue has had such an effect because of the deeply personal, emotional aspect of it. Thousands of civilians may have been massacred at 9/11, but this one death affected her much more deeply, as it was someone whom she knew and loved, who was in the prime of his life. I am wary of “bombarding” her with sentiments about God’s love, as she is now completely alien to the idea. I am also aware of the Church’s perennial teaching on the penalty for suicide, and whilst I know it is important to communicate the truth in religious matters, I feel that suggesting her cousin is in Hell after all he went through in this life would be extremely inappropriate, not to mention unhelpful.

Any advice on the best way to approach this situation would be wonderful. Please remember my friend in your prayers and Mass intentions. Her name is Laura.

R. Sungenis: Andy, God gives us all tests in life. The same test given to two people can bring one closer to God and rip the other one away. Unless we start with the premise that God is just, it doesn't make any difference what test we have to face in life, then we will fail.

With the correct premise, God is never to blame. Laura has had a big test in her life, and it has become apparent that the belief she had in God was not very strong to begin with, and through this incident God is showing her just that.

In fact, not only was her faith in God weak, she apparently didn't do anything to remove this young lad out of the situation he was in. We can pray all we want for something, but unless we act in accordance with our prayers, God will not answer our prayer.

If the situation was so bad, then the lad should have moved away, to another country if need be, to escape the clutches of this maniac, and Laura could have helped him do so, or sought the assistance of others to help her. Obviously, since she was praying, she knew the situation was desperate.

Lastly, although suicide is generally a mortal sin, that is only in usual circumstances. But in this kind of situation it is left in the hands of God who will determine the disposition of the young boy.


Question 6- Does the New Discovery of Frame Dragging Prove the Earth Rotates?


I do not expect an answer back on this, but in case you are not aware of it, here it is:

"...Geocentrists cite sources such as Misner, Thorne and Wheeler (Gravitation pp. 1117-1119) on the dragging of intertial frames by rotating bodies, which would include the earth, as an argument that the earth cannot move. However, a recent article in Nature by Ciufolini and Pavlis confirms that frame dragging does occur, which allows one to conclude that the earth does in fact rotate..."


R. Sungenis: Misner, Thorne and Wheeler are cited mainly in regard to the gyroscopic effect produced by a rotating body. As applied to a rotating universe around a stationary earth, the gyroscopic effect created by the former would keep the latter in place.

Regarding frame-dragging, the results of Ciufolini and Pavlis no more prove that the earth is rotating than the result of 4 can be said only to be a sum of 2 + 2 as opposed to 3 + 1. Yes, a rotating earth will drag its environment, but a rotating universe will drag the same environment around a fixed-earth, and the effects will be the same. This is precisely the dual effect to which Misner, Thorne and Wheeler refer, and they include Mach and Lense and Thirring to the discussion to prove the case (cf., pages 547 and 1120). In effect, the only thing that Ciufolini and Pavlis prove is the Lense-Thirring effect, not either General Relativity or a rotating earth.

But the Lense-Thirring effect is the best evidence of a geocentric universe, not a heliocentric one, since Thirring's original model theorized the universe as a rotating shell around a fixed-earth in contrast to a rotating earth in a fixed-universe. His tensor calculus revealed that the forces of the two systems would be very close, but not exactly. Thirring discovered that the gravitational field inside the rotating shell was not zero. This was quite a find, since Newtonian mechanics stated that it would be zero, whereas Einstein tried to answer the non-zero sum by invoking General Relativity and the frame-dragging of a space-time manifold. Thirring discovered that the rotating shell created forces directed away from the center of the shell, forces directly opposed to the inward gravitational pull towards the center. In other words, Thirring found a physical reason for centrifugal and Coriolis forces, which, up to this point, Newtonian mechanics had no answer, and which Einstein had to answer with "gravitational potentials" in conjunction with the stars (since he could not escape Mach's principle). But the physical answer to these forces was found in a geocentric, not heliocentric, frame, courtesy of Thirring.

Thirring then teamed up with Lense. Instead of a rotating shell, they assumed the universe was a rotating disk. To make a long story short, they found that a body in rotation will have a small gravitational effect on a body in its vicinity. This is what Ciufolini and Pavlis detected, but again, it cannot be said to be due to a rotating earth as opposed to a rotating universe around a fixed-earth. Anyone who claims this is proof of General Relativity or a rotating earth is simply avoiding precisely what Thirring and Lense originally proposed.


Question 5- Mr. Latar Responds Back Concerning Hahn, Part 2

Mr. Latar: I don't understand why rad-trads won't go against Sungenis on this. Why would Sungenis prefer a philosophy which can lead to subjectivism rather than the good old scholastic tradition the Popes have taught that we should stick to? Rad-trads criticize many people like John Paul who uses Husserl and Scheler, but when Sungenis uses them, they do not care? Rad-Trads criticize Dr. Hahn for using this language of "femininity" when there the world has become very feministic. Yet, we are also living today where our emotions are used as our guide instead of reason, and Sungenis wants now to say that God Himself has emotions. Again, those are all double standards.

R. Sungenis: I think Mr. Latar is very confused and is still reacting instead of thinking. First of all, apparently, Traditionalists are much more open-minded than Mr. Latar. Deitrich von Hildebrand and William Marra, for example, were thoroughgoing traditionalists but they also saw certain weaknesses in Thomas' philosophy regarding sex and beauty, and therefore sought a better explanation in phenomenology. Thomas understood sex merely as a biological function and did not speak of it in terms of love shared between spouses. Phenomenology filled that gap. Thomas did not have a good understanding of beauty and aesthetics, but phenomenology filled that gap as well. Von Hildebrand also taught that there was a vast difference, indeed, an antithesis, between Husserl's phenomenology and Catholic phenomenology. As for the issue of emotions, phenomenology also brought out this vital dimension in the sphere of life, making the crucial distinctions between true feelings and mere sentiment. What is needed today is a development of the philosophy about emotions, not an avoidance of emotion that was common among Romanesque and Gothic culture. The Counter-Reformation itself, as displayed in the Baroque arts, used the emotive dimension of life against the unaffected and stern Calvinists and Lutherans.

Mr. Later: Let me briefly respond to Sungenis' criticisms of Dr. Hahn. He said:

"Fortunately, Kolbe and Stein did not write pages and pages of material in several books about the identity of the Holy Spirit. And neither of them claimed to be theologians, nor did they teach at universities and sell thousands of books with novel ideas about Adam, covenants, the millennium, prima scriptura, and many other problems in Hahn's theology."

So what if they did not claim to be theologians or teach at universities? There are many saints in the history of the Church who has contributed to theology who were not theologians. I don't think I have to point them out in order for Sungenis to know that.

R. Sungenis: The point is, there is no patristic or medieval precedent for what Hahn is proposing (that is, identifying the Holy Spirit with the feminine, in distinction to the Father and Son). The identity of the Holy Spirit was set in stone by the writings of the Fathers, and it was confirmed by the Councils which specifically addressed the nature and identity of the Holy Spirit. (E.g., Council of Nicea, Council of Rome, Council of Braga, Council of Toledo, Council of Reims, Lateran Council IV, Council of Lyons). If this were pointed out to them, I'm sure Kolbe and Stein would have modified their view, as Hahn should do.

Mr. Latar: I also quoted the theologian Matthias Scheeben on this issue. Sungenis simply critiqued his theology, which is fine. Nonetheless, the magisterium did not condemn his writings. Scheeben also said:

"Precisely to obviate the forming of such erroneous opinions is one of the reasons why the bridal state of the Mother of God is usually referred to the Holy Ghost instead of to the Father. Through the fact that the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Logos, appears as bridegroom, the production of the Logos is formally presented as complete in itself." (Mariology, Vol. I (St. Louis, MO: Herder, 1945), pg. 175)

R. Sungenis: If true, then Scheeben has the Holy Spirit, in the above case, representing the masculine, and in the other case Latar quoted from Scheeben in his previous letter, representing the feminine. This type of confusion needs to stop.

Mr. Latar: Again, Sungenis might criticize this statement. Yet, since the theologian Scheeben and other saints have held on to it, and the magisterium has not condemned it, a person can still believe in it. All Sungenis can come up with is:

"The closest the Church has come is to say that the Holy Spirit "proceeds" from the Father and the Son, just as she has taught that the Son is "begotten" by the Father, but the Church has not explained, dogmatically, what "procession" and "begotten" means in respect of the fact that the three persons of the Trinity have always existed together."

Well, if that's the criteria of theological speculation, then since the Magisterium has not explained what "anger of God" means, then he shouldn't say it is an emotion.

R. Sungenis: I can say what the Fathers have said, and the evidence shows they were at best divided on the issue. They were not divided on the identity of the Holy Spirit, however.

Mr. Latar: I also explained how in the scholastic tradition, analogy has ontological significance. Sungenis says:

"I find Mr. Latar's explanation very confusing and not germane to the point. The issue is: there is no ontological identity of the Holy Spirit with the feminine gender, zip, nada, zilch. Anyone who asserts that there is an ontology of femininity in the Holy Spirit and thus distinguishes the Spirit from the Father and Son in that regard, is preaching heresy."

It's funny first of all how Sungenis does not interact with my argument on analogy and simply says it confuses him. Well, I would suggest that anyone read my explanation and read any scholastic/thomistic work on analogy and see if I am accurate and if I make sense.

R. Sungenis: Mr. Latar needs to show us where Thomas says the specific statement: "analogy has ontological significance," and just what he thinks that means in this discussion. If Mr. Latar is trying to say that analogies of the Trinity that depict them as having feminine actions can then be turned into ontological realities of the feminine nature, he is quite wrong.

Mr. Latar: What also struck me is how Sungenis says that a person who holds to Dr. Hahn's theology is "preaching heresy." I'm sorry, Sungenis is not the magisterium. Matthias Scheeben was not a heretic either. Scheeben was a well-known theologian and the magisterium would have condemned him if he taught heresy. St. Kolbe was not a heretic nor was Edith Stein. What struck me is how he was speaking of my "pride," yet he is the one who is acting like he is the magisterium. Now, I have no problem with people who disagree with Dr. Hahn's theology. To say one is theologically in error is different than saying one is doctrinally in error. [2]

R. Sungenis: Yes, I'm not the magisterium, and yes, I agree, I must be cautious in using the word "heresy." I accept Mr. Latar's admonition. But we have the right, according to Canon Law, to point out areas of concern and warn others that something is, or may be, erroneous or unsupported by Church teaching. All I will say for now is that if someone says that the Holy Spirit has an ontological identity with the feminine, that is an erroneous and novel teaching. There is not even a hint, not even a discussion, in the tradition that the Holy Spirit has an ontological identity, as opposed to the Father and the Son, with the feminine.

Mr. Latar: Finally, let me quote Sungenis:

"First of all, I don't "attack" anyone, I simply challenge Catholic apologists when they make false statements. They can do the same to me, if they wish. That is how we all grow in the faith."

Now, compare that statement to what he emailed me:

"I really don't have time for people who keep denying that there are grave problems in the church today, and who keep making excuses for every heresy they see promoted in modernism. As far as I'm concerned, Shawn McIhenny, Pete Vere, John Betts are and a few of the others in your group are working for the devil, not Catholicism…The above mentioned people are nothing but clanging cymbals."

Right, Sungenis doesn't "attack" anyone. I want to see how Sungenis tries to spin this one.

R. Sungenis: Yes, Mr. Latar is right. I shouldn't have said it. I hope he accepts my apology.

Mr. Latar: [2] Let me also quote Dr. Hahn to see what his theology is:

"By divine actions that are bridal and maternal, we may come to discern a divine bridal-maternity in the Holy Spirit…It is in the relations of the human family that the life of the Trinity is reflected more truly and fully than anywhere else in the natural order. In other words, the analogy of bridal-motherhood is relational and familial, not physical or sexual (much less political)." (First Come Love, pg. 138)

So it seems like Dr. Hahn is speaking of analogy there.

R. Sungenis: Earlier Mr. Latar was arguing that "analogy has ontological significance" and now he was to distance "analogy" from "ontology." He needs to make up his mind.

In any case, Mr. Latar is misunderstanding what Hahn is saying. First, on page 138 at the top Hahn says: "Thus, what we said earlier of the Trinity in general, we apply here to the Persons of the Godhead. By divine actions that are bridal and maternal, we may come to discern a divine bridal-maternity in the Holy Spirit." He does not say "the analogy of bridal-maternity" but "a divine bridal-maternity in the Holy Spirit." There is quite a difference between the two.

Second, in the later paragraph of page 138, Hahn first attempts to limit masculine and feminine to "bodily features of gender and sexuality," so that he can then apply the masculine and feminine distinction to what he calls the "relational and familial" as opposed to the "physical or sexual." In other words, the word "analogy" is used merely to eliminate "gender and sexuality" from the discussion in order that Hahn can then concentrate on "relations and family." Because Hahn sees the Trinity as a "family" (which is not correct), Hahn then sees a real distinction, based on the male/female distinction, in regards to the RELATIONS of the Persons of the Trinity among themselves.

In essence, this "relational-femininity" Hahn assigns to the Holy Spirit is the result of the "search for the identity of the Holy Spirit" (in distinction from the Father and Son) with which Hahn opened up the chapter on page 126. This is why Hahn says the Holy Spirit is referred to with a feminine noun in Genesis 1:2, since he is seeking for the Holy Spirit's relational identity to the Father and Son (but feminine nouns in Hebrew have nothing to do with either sex or familial relations), or seems to have no trouble referring to the Holy Spirit as the "prototype of the feminine being" and "Mary as the incarnation of the Holy Spirit" (but no one in Church tradition ever did so, and for good reason), something he does not apply to the Father and the Son.

According to Scripture, with no contestation from the Fathers or Aquinas, it is man who was made in the image of God, and woman was made in the image of man and to his glory. The only time woman is associated with the image of God is when she is connected, as a member of the human race, with man, not because of her female sex. In fact Genesis 1:27 uses a Hebrew masculine noun to designate that it was Adam alone who received the image of God, not the woman without the man ("in the image of God he created HIM"). St. Paul in 1 Cor 11:7-9 confirms this by saying that man was made in the image of God, but woman only to the glory of man.

As Augustine and Aquinas say, insofar as the independence of being is concerned, woman was not made in the image of God ("but when she is referred separately to her quality of help-meet, which regards the woman herself alone, then she is not the image of God": On the Trinity, Bk 12, Ch 7, 9-10.

"But in a secondary sense the image of God is found in man, and not in woman: for man is the beginning and end of woman; as God is the beginning and end of every creature. So when the Apostle had said that "man is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man," he adds his reason for saying this: "For man is not of woman, but woman of man; and man was not created for woman, but woman for man": Summa, Q. 93, Art 4, Reply to Obj 1).

The fact that Adam, in regards to independence of being, was the only creature made in the image of God, is another reason there can be no feminine identifications made of the Holy Spirit. As the Councils state, the Holy Spirit is one in substance with the Father and the Son, and bears the same image as that of the Father and Son, which image was given to Adam, being male, not Eve, who was female. Hence, the Holy Spirit cannot be a "prototype of the feminine being."

In fact, Aquinas make a shot to the bow of Hahn's theory in these words:

"As Augustine says (De Trinitate xii, 5), some have thought that the image of God was not in man individually, but severally. They held that ‘the man represents the Person of the Father; those born of man denote the person of the Son; and that the woman is a third person in likeness to the Holy Ghost, since she so proceeded from man as not to be his son or daughter.' All of this is manifestly absurd; first, because it would follow that the Holy Ghost is the principle of the Son, as the woman is the principle of the man's offspring; secondly, because one man would be only the image of one Person; thirdly, because in that case Scripture should not have mentioned the image of God in man until after the birth of the offspring..." (Article 6, Reply to Obj 6: Reply OBJ 2).


Question 4- Mr. Latar Responds Back Concerning Hahn

Mr. Latar writes: Let us see Sungenis' supposedly proofs for God's anger being emotional:

Gregory, Epistle, Book 9, Epistle 1, To Janarius: "If therefore you know of any that are violent, if of any that are adulterers, if of any that are thieves, or bent on other wicked deeds, make haste to appease God by their correction, that He may not bring upon you the scourge due to unfaithful races, which, so far as we see, is already lifted up for the punishment of many nations."

Nothing about God having emotions there.

R. Sungenis: True, we don't find the word "emotion" in these quotes, but then again, we don't find the word "emotion" in the Bible either. We also don't read the word "intellect" or "will" in the Bible, but we know that all the Bible's characters are using their intellects and wills. Rather, we only find words that are descriptive of emotion. For example, when it says in Luke 15:10 (cf., Job 38:7): "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents," we don't have to read the word "emotion" in order to know that the angels are expressing something other than their wills and intellects.

Of all the Fathers, there are only about ten who spoke to the issue of emotions in God, and only six of those in any great length. The problem is that these six Fathers take two different tracks. Tertullian, Lactantius and Cyprian defend emotive qualities in God quite vigorously, while Augustine, Origen and Gregory of Nyssa seem to downplay it (although they downplay it in the sense of saving God from the taint of human frailties and perturbations, as noted even in certain Scriptures: Eccl 7:10 "Be not quickly angry: for anger rests in the bosom of a fool"; Sirach 30:26: "Envy and anger shorten a man's days, and pensiveness will bring old age before the time").

In order to save God from human frailties associated with emotion, Augustine interprets "anger" as a metaphor for vengeance:

"...and thus even God Himself is said in Scripture to be angry, and yet without any perturbation. For this word is used of the effect of His vengeance..." (City of God, 5, 9).

In another place, he speaks of God's anger as the "full effect" (not merely "effect") of his righteous retribution in order to distinguish it from a human being enraged with passion:

"Nor is He enraged with a passion similar to human anger, but is angry, not in the sense of desiring vengeance, but in the peculiar sense of giving full effect to the sentence of a righteous retribution." (Reply to Faustus, 22, 21)

Likewise, he again shows his desire to free God from the accusation of having the "turbulent emotions" associated with human beings:

"We must take care, however, to understand, that the anger of God is free from any turbulent emotion; for His anger is an expression for His just method of taking vengeance: as the law might be said to be angry when its ministers are moved to punish by its sanction"(Homilies on the Psalms, LXXVII).

"Moreover, the anger and jealousy of God are not emotions of God; as some do charge upon the Scriptures which they do not understand: but under the name of anger is to be understood the avenging of iniquity; under the name of jealousy, the exaction of chastity" (Homilies on the Psalms, LXXVII, 8)

"The anger of God is not a disturbing emotion of His mind, but a judgment by which punishment is inflicted upon sin. His thought and reconsideration also are the unchangeable reason which changes things; for He does not, like man, repent of anything He has done, because in all matters His decision is as inflexible as His prescience is certain. But if Scripture were not to use such expressions as the above, it would not familiarly insinuate itself into the minds of all classes of men, whom it seeks access to for their good, that it may alarm the proud, arouse the careless, exercise the inquisitive, and satisfy the intelligent; and this it could not do, did it not first stoop, and in a manner descend, to them where they lie" (City of God, 15, 25).

The problem with this proposed solution is twofold:

1) Scripture does not always speak of God's vengeance as necessarily following from God's anger, but often speaks of His anger independently, and as an affect that can be assuaged by appeals to His pity or compassion; or speaks of His anger dissipating in and of itself, and which does not result in vengeance (Exodus 4:14; Exodus 32:9-14; Exodus 33:1-5; Deut 9:19-20; 2Sam 24:1; 2Chron 28:11-13; Jonah 3:9-10; Sirach 46:2; Romans 9:22).

Moreover, a majority of the Fathers themselves speak of appeasing God's anger for the express purpose of warding off his vengeance, making a clear distinction between His anger and His vengeance, as we see, for example in Gregory Nanziansus: Orations, 16: "Let us anticipate His anger by confession; let us desire to see Him appeased, after He was wroth. Who knows, he says, if He will turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him? This I know certainly, I the sponsor of the loving-kindness of God. And when He has laid aside that which is unnatural to Him, His anger, He will betake Himself to that which is natural, His mercy." [NB: Yet Gregory insisted that God was impassible].

2) Scripture itself distances God's anger from human anger (e.g., Judith 8:15: "For God will not threaten like man, nor be inflamed to anger like the son of man"), thus Scripture itself is cognizant of the distinction Augustine emphasized, but did not do so by making an inseparable connection between anger and vengeance, as Augustine did.

Augustine himself seems to recognize this dimension of the argument, since his desire is to keep God serene in instances where human emotions would be irrational:

"Fools, again, who avoid the exercise of compassion as a vice, because they are not sufficiently moved by a sense of duty without feeling also distressful emotion, are frozen into hard insensibility, which is very different from the calm of a rational serenity. God, on the other hand, is properly called compassionate; and the sense in which He is so will be understood by those whom piety and diligence have made fit to understand" (De Moribus, 27, 54).

3) Augustine does not interact with Lactantius, Tertullian or Cyprian. Tertullian and Cyprian predated Augustine by two centuries, while Lactantius predated him close to a century, thus showing that the patristic evidence has a pedigree that antedates Augustine, and, at the least, shows a divergence in the patristic evidence, with no resolution in Church dogmatics.

Absent from Augustine's treatment is the effort raised by both Lactantius and Tertullian to distinguish the affects of the Christian God from the lack thereof from the pagan Gods, and to explain to the Christian community the perfect nature of God's affects so that no one misunderstands them or confuses them with human affects.

For example, in "The Anger of God," Lactantius argues that the tendency to understand God's anger merely as vengeance originates from a pagan world view, in this case Cicero:

"For the definition given by Cicero, "Anger is the desire of taking vengeance," does not differ much from those already mentioned. But that anger which we may call either fury or rage ought not to exist even in man, because it is altogether vicious; but the anger which relates to the correction of vices ought not to be taken away from man; nor can it be taken away from God, because it is both serviceable for the affairs of men, and necessary" (Anger of God, Ch 17)

Lactantius continues: "Therefore the arguments are found to be empty and false, either of those who, when they will not admit that God is angry, will have it that He shows kindness, because this, indeed, cannot take place without anger; or of those who think that there is no emotion of the mind in God. And because there are some affections to which God is not liable, as desire, fear, avarice, grief, and envy, they have said that He is entirely free from all affection. For He is not liable to these, because they are vicious affections; but as to those which belong to virtue,--that is, anger towards the wicked, regard towards the good, pity towards the afflicted, -- inasmuch as they are worthy of the divine power, He has affections of His own, both just and true."

In "Against Marcion" Tertullian writes: "Whence has found its way to the heretics an argument of this kind: If God is angry, and jealous, and roused, and grieved, He must therefore be corrupted, and must therefore die. Fortunately, however, it is a part of the creed of Christians even to believe that God did die, and yet that He is alive for evermore. Superlative is their folly, who prejudge divine things from human; so that, because in man's corrupt condition there are found passions of this description, therefore there must be deemed to exist in God also sensations of the same kind. Discriminate between the natures, and assign to them their respective senses, which are as diverse as their natures require, although they seem to have a community of designations. We read, indeed, of God's right hand, and eyes, and feet: these must not, however, be compared with those of human beings, because they are associated in one and the same name. Now, as great as shall be the difference between the divine and the human body, although their members pass under identical names, so great will also be the diversity between the divine and the human soul, notwithstanding that their sensations are designated by the same names. These sensations in the human being are rendered just as corrupt by the corruptibility of man's substance, as in God they are rendered incorruptible by the incorruption of the divine essence. Do you really believe the Creator to be God? By all means, is your reply. How then do you suppose that in God there is anything human, and not that all is divine? Him whom you do not deny to be God, you confess to be not human; because, when you confess Him to be God, you have, in fact, already determined that He is undoubtedly diverse from every sort of human conditions. Furthermore, although you allow, with others, that man was inbreathed by God into a living soul, not God by man, it is yet palpably absurd of you to be placing human characteristics in God rather than divine ones in man, and clothing God in the likeness of man, instead of man in the image of God. And this, therefore, is to be deemed the likeness of God in man, that the human soul have the same emotions and sensations as God, although they are not of the same kind; differing as they do both in their conditions and their issues according to their nature. Then, again, with respect to the opposite sensations,--I mean meekness, patience, mercy, and the very parent of them all, goodness, why do you form your opinion of the divine displays of these (from the human qualities)? For we indeed do not possess them in perfection, because it is God alone who is perfect. So also in regard to those others,--namely, anger and irritation. we are not affected by them in so happy a manner, because God alone is truly happy, by reason of His property of incorruptibility. Angry He will possibly be, but not irritated, nor dangerously tempted; He will be moved, but not subverted. All appliances He must needs use, because of all contingencies; as many sensations as there are causes: anger because of the wicked, and indignation because of the ungrateful, and jealousy because of the proud, and whatsoever else is a hinderance to the evil. So, again, mercy on account of the erring, and patience on account of the impenitent, and pre-eminent resources on account of the meritorious, and whatsoever is necessary to the good. All these affections He is moved by in that peculiar manner of His own, in which it is profoundly fit that He should be affected; and it is owing to Him that man is also similarly affected in a way which is equally his own. (Against Marcion 2, 16)

4) We also find Augustine himself speaking in terms closer to Lactantius and Tertullian. For example: "Now the children of wrath God punishes in anger; whereas it is in mercy that He punishes the children of grace" (Merits, 2, 25), clearly making a distinction between "punishment" and "anger." The "anger," if it is God's righteous indignation against the wicked, is clearly a wholly different divine disposition than that which is directed to the children of grace.

Considering that these Fathers (Origen, Augustine, Gregory, Lactantius, Tertullian and Cyprian) have varying opinions on how they understand God's anger in Scripture, then there is no consensus among them, and in that case we are not bound to either opinion. We, as Leo XIII teaches, are only bound to them "whenever they all interpret in one and the same manner any text of the Bible...for their unanimity clearly evinces that such interpretation has come down from the Apostles as a matter of Catholic faith."

And in cases where an exposition is "beyond what the Fathers have done," Pope Leo says "he must not on that account consider that it is forbidden, when just cause exists, to push inquiry and exposition...provided he carefully observes the rule...not to depart from the literal and obvious sense..." (Providentisimus Deus).

The inquiry I am presenting is certainly not "beyond what the Fathers have done" since Lactantius, Tertullian and Cyprian clearly make room for the affective nature of God, and some of the other Fathers who do not address the anger of God directly, nevertheless speak of appeasing God so that he will turn away from the punishment he planned, clearly making a distinction between anger and punishment. Lactantius has written the best treatise on the anger of God that the Church possesses, and the Church has never condemned it or said it is not worthy for pious instruction.

As for "interpreting Scripture in their literal and obvious sense" if there remains a question as to the propriety of the inquiry, a logical deduction of Scripture certainly does not forbid seeing an affective nature in God, provided we observe the cautions expressed by the Fathers.

In this light, Zephaniah 3:17 says of God: "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." This speaks of the Lord having "joy" and "singing." We already know that God talks, since He said (and everyone heard present heard Him speak), "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Mt 3:17). Singing is merely talking with a melody, and when one sings he has joy. Or do we want to say that God is not correct about Himself having joy and singing?

In regards to the language of Scripture and the common excuse that Scripture has to speak on a human level for our for our sensibilities, there really is no reason for Scripture to say "And he swore in his anger... And the Lord being angry against Israel, led them about through the desert forty years..." (Num 32:10, 13), since, if, in reality, God had no anger, then the verses could simply say, "And judging Israel, he led them about through the desert forty years..."

The problem is, however, that the Old Testament alone has over two hundred passages which include "anger" as the motive for God's action, sometimes making the descriptions intense (e.g., Deut 29:28; 32:16-20; Zech 1:15: "And I am angry with a great anger with the wealthy nations: for I was angry a little, but they helped forward the evil").

To be sure, God's "anger" or "joy" or "compassion" or "pity" or "jealousy" does not mean that God is in any way tainted with the irrationality or perturbations sometimes laden in human emotion anymore than God's intellect and will are laden with the frailties of human intellect and will. God is infinite and perfect, and His divine qualities are far above ours.

In the end, we don't have to think of God as a mere intellect devoid of affect. In fact, gods without affect dominate the pagan religions. They are all intellect and are not personal. But the Christian God is a personal God, and He has made us in His image, and therefore we are personal. As Clement of Alexandria says: "...for we are they who bear about with us, in this living and moving image of our human nature, the likeness of God, a likeness which dwells with us, takes counsel with us, associates with us, is a guest with us, feels with us, feels for us" (Exhortation to the heathen, 4).

As far as Church dogma is concerned, the subject of divine affect hasn't even been addressed, let alone decided. All we have are opinions of the Fathers and medievals, and as we saw, they diverge, or at the least, cover very different areas of the issue. Hence, the subject is open to inquiry and investigation. The only "novelty" here is that someone like myself has brought the various arguments pro and con to the forefront of our thinking.

Robert Sungenis


Question 3- Church History Book

Hello, Robert: I am looking for a good Church history that hasn't been edited! :) We know that liturgical abuses, nonobedient bishops, wild and wooly priests and strange laity are not just a product of post Vatican 2. So am looking for a book that gives a history without bleaching out such portions. Do you know of any?

R. Sungenis: Msgr. Philip Hughes -- A Popular History of the Catholic Church


Question 2- Space Navigation

Mr Sungenis

We were of the understanding, as told to us by different geocentrists along the way", that the NASA space navigation computer system is based on the G-model.

We mentioned that to Mr Cox.

The following message from him responds to the contrary, based on his communication with a NASA person.

We don't believe Mr B Thompson of NASA is correctly stating the matter, but we are totally incompetent to refute.

Would you be able to give us any help in this situation?

In Christ,
Mr & Mrs K

Dear Friends,

I thought you might find the following quote of interest in reference to your statement given to me a week or so ago, concerning my claim that NASA used the heliocentric system for orbit planning. The answer from NASA was:

NQ005589 NASA Navigation Planning


Does NASA assume a heliocentric or geocentric system when planning/tracking probe courses and why?



ANSWER from Bruce Thompson on November 17, 2004:

Good afternoon, Richard,

All interplanetary orbits are calculated on a heliocentric system, given that once a space craft launched from Earth exceeds Earth escape velocity,
it is in orbit around the Sun.

Mr. and Mrs. K,

R. Sungenis: Notice what Thompson said. He is referring to orbits around the sun, and in that case he is correct to say that all orbits around the sun are computed on a heliocentric basis. Why would one want to use a geocentric basis? It would be much too complicated. But using a heliocentric basis for such orbits does not mean that the Earth itself is revovling around the sun, but only the space vehicle in question is orbiting the sun.

When we say that NASA uses a geocentric basis we are referring to orbits near the earth, which would includes launches, reentries, adjustments to the Global Positioning Satellites, or even an Apollo ship sent to the moon.

The point of the whole matter is that it is possible to convert the mathematics from heliocentric to geocentric, or from geocentric to heliocentric, just like it is possible to convert French to English or English to French. We are not saying that because NASA uses a geocentric basis for the GPS, for example, that this proves geocentrism. Our only contention is that, kinematically, both the heliocentric and geocentric systems are equivalent, therefore, one cannot use math to prove either system. Hence, this is the reason that math is highly over-rated in disputes of this nature.

PS: FYI, I consulted with Dr. Bouw on this and we concur.


Question 1- Prayer in common: How to reconcile Unitatis Redintegratio and Ut Unum Sint


I have a question regarding the specific application of a section of Unitatis Redintegratio: "In certain special circumstances, such as the prescribed prayers "for unity," and during ecumenical gatherings, it is allowable, indeed desirable that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated brethren" (UR, 8). Say a Protestant wanted to join in a Rosary outside an abortion mill. Would this count as one of the circumstances in which it is allowable to join in prayer with one of our separated brethren? Ut Unum Sint 21 would lead me to believe that the answer is yes, since the Pope lists "peace" as another legitimate intention for ecumenical prayer, but then again I find much of UUS problematic, and very difficult to reconcile with Mortalium Animos, for example. Your help is, as always, greatly appreciated.


R. Sungenis: Ben, first, let me dictate what Unitatis Redintegratio says on prayer (and this is the only time Vatican II's documents mention praying with non-Catholics):

UR 8: This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name, "spiritual ecumenism."

It is a recognized custom for Catholics to meet for frequent recourse to that prayer for the unity of the Church...

In certain circumstances, such as in prayer services "for unity" and during ecumenical gatherings, it is allowable, indeed desirable that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated brethren. Such prayers in common are certainly a very effective means of petitioning for the grace of unity.

Yet worship in common is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of unity among Christians...The expression of unity very generally forbids common worship.

Dignitatis Humanae 1 further tells us that:

"We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all men...

"The sacred Council likewise proclaims that these obligations bind man's conscience...

"So while the religious freedom which men demand in fulfilling their obligation to worship God has to do with freedom from coercion in civil society, it leaves intact the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ [the Catholic Church]."

So we see that Vatican II allows prayer with non-Catholics for the seeking of unity, and that unity, according to Dignitatis Humanae, comes by seeking it in the Catholic Church. If an event can be understood as leading to a person coming into the Catholic Church, then it is permissible.

In that light, before I prayed a Rosary with a non-Catholic, I would ask him what his predisposition is toward the Catholic Church. If he despises the Catholic Church and thinks it is heretical (as most Evangelicals do), then obviously he is not striving for unity and has no intentions of coming into the Catholic Church. Therefore, prayer with him is out of the question. God will not bless that kind of prayer.

We need to be reminded about prayer. It is not automatically answered by God. We are not pulling a string to make God act. Prayer requires the proper disposition and belief before God will answer it. If St. Peter can say that a man's prayers will be hindered if he doesn't treat his wife correctly (1Peter 3:7), just imagine how they will be hindered if a person despises his one, holy catholic and apostolic Church.

Regarding Ut Unum Sint 21, I think it is apparent that John Paul II is seeking to coincide his encyclical with Unitatis Redintegratio, since he quotes directly from it.

But then, after he acknowledges that Unitatis Redintegratio only allowed prayer for "unity," he then adds something the Church has never said before:

"Even when prayer is not specifically offered for Christian unity, but for other intentions such as peace, it actually becomes an expression and confirmation of unity."

This may seem troubling, but we must remember that whatever is said must be interpreted in light of tradition, and Mortalium Animos is part of that tradition. Mortalium Animos did not prohibit prayer with non-Catholics if that prayer was for the intention of bringing them within the unity of the Catholic Church. It prohibited indiscriminate prayer with non-Catholics, just as Unitatis Redintegratio prohibits indiscriminate worship with non-Catholics.

So, when John Paul II adds "but for other intentions such as peace," the fact that he doesn't explain what kind of "peace" he is referring to means that, to be in line with Vatican II and the rest of tradition, the only peace it can refer to is peace generated by the seeking of unity in the Catholic Church, for that is only where true and authentic peace is located. That being the case, then the last sentence of UUS 21 must be interpreted in that light ("it actually becomes an expression and confirmation of unity").

Of course, where the pope went off the track is in creating the Assisi gatherings. Vatican II hardly gave permission to pray with Protestants (since it only allowed prayer for the express intention of bringing all back into the Catholic Church for unity), let alone allow prayer with pagans who are praying to false gods for mundane favors. This is precisely why John Paul II had no quote from Vatican II that he could use to substantiate his Assisi gatherings. Thus it is no surprise that he has not sought "unity" among these pagans, since at no time has he challenged them with the responsibility of rejecting their false gods and converting to Catholicism, and this then becomes one of the gravest misinterpretations of Vatican II in the post-conciliar era. Since the only time Vatican II even mentioned praying with non-Catholics was Unitatis Redintegratio, then there is simply no predent in all of Catholic history for Assisi.