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March 2005 - QA

Q & A March 2005

Question 75 - SSPX Question

Question 74 - Romans 10:5-10

Question 73 - Status of an embryo and Galileo

Question 72 - Question about the Assisi Prayer Gatherings

Question 71 - Unfulfilled Prophecies OT Prophecies?

Question 70 - What Magazines Should we be Reading?

Question 69 - Apostasizing

Question 68 - Condign Merit

Question 67 - Apocalypse study, II

Question 66 - Apocalypse study

Question 65 - Romans 11 and Replacement theology

Question 64 - "perhaps because they are new" --JPII

Question 63 - A small error on your homepage perhaps?

Question 62 - Antidote to the Disease of Sedevacantism

Question 61 - Fr. Maciel, Bishop of Arlington, Va, and slander

Question 60 - Peter's preeminence and Mat. 20:20-28

Question 59 - Sedevacantist problems and Vacancy of the Throne

Question 58 - Regarding the New Heaven and the New Earth

Question 57 - Interracial Marriage

Question 56 - Predestination

Question 55 - Does Vatican I Deny Theistic Evolution?

Question 54 - Book Recommendation

Question 53 - Help for our son: Is the Bible a history book?

Question 52 - Women & veils

Question 51 - Is Fatima Relevant for Today? Revisited

Question 50 - Raymond Brown and Medjugorje

Question 49 - Russian Consecration could never have happened

Question 48 - Geocentrism request

Question 47 - Raymond Brown

Question 46 - Earth's Rotation, Part 2

Question 45 - Earth's Rotation

Question 44 - Fatima

Question 43 - Help for our son: Is the Bible a history book?

Question 42 - Now that sister Lucia had died, what now?

Question 41 - Fr. Fox & Lucia of Fatima

Question 40 - Books recommended

Question 39 - Human Persons Created in the Image of God and Evolution

Question 38 - Eucharist a Unique Presence

Question 37 - Swiss Decision

Question 36 - Annulments

Question 35 - Regarding the next Pope...

Question 34 - Greek question on Acts 2:38

Question 33 - Matatics debate

Question 32 - Church teaching on evolution

Question 31 - Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine

Question 30 - Genesis / Creation / Catholicism

Question 29 - How Does one understand Geocentrism?

Question 28 - Geocentrism

Question 27 - Geocentrism 2

Question 26 - Is Baptism Necessary for Everyone to be Saved?

Question 25 - Bertone Article

Question 24 - The phrase "the body of Christ"

Question 23 - Marriage in the early Church

Question 22 - Question on Council of Florence and Form

Question 21 - 3 things

Question 20 - Should women be in ANY positions of leadership?

Question 19 - Sungenis vs Matatics

Question 18 - The Death Penalty

Question 17 - Eating candy is not a sin

Question 16 - Justification and Salvation, Part II

Question 15 - The death of sedevacantism

Question 14 - The Heroic Act

Question 13 - Question on the Church fathers and the Eucharist

Question 12 - Council of Hippo

Question 11 - Question on Council of Florence and Form

Question 10 - What does it literally mean that God will create a new heaven and earth?

Question 9 - Evolution

Question 8 - Anger as a sin, Part III

Question 7 - Was the Mass Invented in 1054?

Question 6 - Papal authority

Question 5 - Did he literally take our sicknesses?

Question 4 - Transitional fossils

Question 3 - Condoms and fornication

Question 2 - Pill and condom question

Question 1 - Canon 188.4, Part II

Question 75- SSPX Question

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
Is the Society of Saint Pius X schismatic? John Paul the II stated in Ecclesia Dei that Lefebvre and his bishops were not only excommunicated latae senteniae, but that the ordinations constituted the implication of schism. Ecclesia Dei pgr 3; "Hence such disobedience - which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy - constitutes a schismatic act"

Now as I understand, Lefebvre took particular precautions against schism by refusing his bishops jurisdiction (which he knew he had no right to give), and by insisting on the Roman Primacy.

I.E. Can the ordination of bishops be deemed schimatic even when no jurisdiction is conferred?Can an act be schimatic by implication?
Thanks for your help,

R. Sungenis: Gregory, I have answered this question several times on our QA board. I would recommend that you look back on our previous months questions.


Question 74- Romans 10:5-10

Second: Romans 10- “But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." (RSV)

Generally, in cases like these there is a simple answer. While it might say "faith saves," it never says "faith alone" saves (as you make quite clear a number of places), so we can proceed to show how certain passages are emphasizing particular parts of a larger system. However, this particular statement seems to present something more of a closed system. If you a) confess, b) believe, then you will c) be saved. While trust comes in later, and trust certainly implies obedience and action, the passage seems to say a+b=c This passage and that formulation are foundational for many of my Evangelical friends. While I can point out how this assumed meaning contradicts other passages, I can never quite figure out what exactly Paul is saying. How is this compatible with the theology of "works of faith" that you espouse as the Catholic position?

(Newman said something to the effect of a thousand questions does not equal one doubt.)
Thanks for your time,

R. Sungenis: JP, in order to answer this question, I'm going to give you free access to this particular study in our Internet Bible Study.
You can find it at:
Let me know if that answers your question.


Question 73- Status of an embryo and Galileo

Mr. Sungenis:
There is an article that says that the Church may change her stance on the status of an embryo, just like she changed her stance on Galileo. Here's one quote:

Bedate thinks that the Vatican may eventually be open to reconsidering the issue on the basis of new scientific understanding. But any formal change in the Church's position is likely to come very slowly, as Galileo's case once showed.
The same article says that the Church's stance on the embryo is not really defined. Is this true?

The article is found here:
Might be handy for the files

R. Sungenis: Damien, there is no chance in hades that the Church will ever change her position on the embryo. And it would be useless to use Galileo as an example of change, since the Church's position on Galileo has never officially changed, except for some ambiguous and unofficial statements by John Paul II.


Question 72- Question about the Assisi Prayer Gatherings

First: I have been studying about the Assisi prayer gatherings and I keep returning to this question: Is praying to an idol (or a false god) an act of reaching out or searching (in ignorance) for the True God? Or is it as Romans 1 seems to say, is it something more sinister? ("For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.")

The two views seem diametrically opposed. One assumes people are generally good, and want to serve/know God, yet are ignorant and culturally ill-equipped to do so. In this view all religions are inherently good while unmistakably flawed. The second view assumes that people are not innocent or necessarily good; rather, they actively rebel against God. This rebellion is reflected in their "perverse" faiths and idol worship. In this view other religions are narcissistic perversions. Can you shed some light on what the tradition says about this? (You brought the point home when you asked in a debate whether a black mass would be appropriate in Assisi? It seems like some of the things Hindus, for example, do is closer to worshipping Satan than the Trinity.)

R. Sungenis: Let's just say it is a "reaching out," just for the sake of argument. In that case, if we see a Hindu or Buddhist "reaching out," as St. Paul did when he went to Mars Hill and saw the pagan with a statue to "The Unknown God" (Acts 17), we, as St. Paul, can admire their "religiosity." But then comes the $64,000 question: what do we tell them next? Do we tell them it is perfectly acceptable to continue praying to their false gods (as John Paul II did when he told the pagans to pray for world peace); or do we tell them to put away their idols for we know the true identity of the "Unknown" to whom they have been praying. It is the latter, without question, for this is precisely what St. Paul tells them in the remainder of the chapter (Acts 17:24-31). In fact, he tells that that if they refuse to put away their idols after his message, then they will come under God's judgment. Unfortunately, it is John Paul II who is going to be judged for leading us astra in this regard.


Question 71- Unfulfilled Prophecies OT Prophecies?

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
Thank you in advance and God bless for all you do.
I was wondering if you could help me understand how Ezekiel 26's prophecy of the destruction of Tyre was fulfilled, as well as if there is any historical evidence outside of Scripture as to proving this fact, and what proof there is for Ezekiel having been written before the event. Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.

R. Sungenis: Louis, it is generally acknowledged that verse 4 referst to the Greeks who destroyed Tyre. As for Ezekiel, since he wrote long before it happened, the answer is obvious.


Question 70- What Magazines Should we be Reading?

Can you please suggest to your readers some monthly magazines?
Thanks, Amy

R. Sungenis: Amy, I would suggest a cross-section of good conservative/traditional and Traditional magazines, such as:

The New Oxford Review
The Catholic Family News
The Remnant
Inside the Vatican
Homiletic and Pastoral Review
The Latin Mass Magazine
Culture Wars


Question 69- Apostasizing

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I and a friend of mine have been experiencing grave doubts of The Faith. I was wondering how culpable we are for believing and practicing the Catholic Faith when it seriously looks totally untrue from research we have done. Could we go to Hell for not believing the Catholic Faith when it seems totally untrue?
Are we culpable for The Faith just because it has been preached to us or are we culpable for it when we are intellectually convinced that it is true?

Thank you and God bless you very much for any help you can give.

R. Sungenis: Yes, we are culpable and we will be sent to hell. There is no excuse for not accepting the Catholic Church and the Church has made that very clear. No one can plead ignorance if they have heard the Catholic gospel. It is just the same as the reason God says in Romans 1:18-20 that no one will have an excuse for not believing in God.


Question 68- Condign Merit

Hello Mr. Sungenis,

I read Ben Douglass article "'Credited with Righteousness': James
White versus the Bible" and appreciated it greatly. He gave
a wonderful exposition of the meaning of the Greek and refuted
Mr. White's errors well. I have a question about one paragraph

This theme of heaven as a reward for works is prominent throughout the Bible, most especially in the teachings of Christ and St. Paul and in the Apocalypse. God actually arranges for His elect to merit heaven. Make no mistake; this is not strict merit, as an employer is obligated to pay those who render him a needed service. Rather, it is condign merit, that is to say, God obligates himself to reward his saints when he makes a promise (cf. Gen 22:16-18; Heb 6:13-18).

Isn't it a mistake to call the merit by which God obligates Himself
to reward His saints condign? As I understand it, condign merit
is the merit by which a worker is paid his wages. Congruous
merit is a merit of adornment, one dictionary definition saying
that it is "Corresponding in character or kind; appropriate or

Thank you in advance for clearing this up.

R. Sungenis: Ryan, condign merit is not that which is owed. It is founded on grace, and therefore it is a reward for work, not a payment. If you look in my book Not By Faith Alone on pages 627ff you will see how this is defined. Thomas Aquinas said this on the issue:

"Note the difference between meritum de condigno and that which is said to be merit in strict justice. Even though both bespeak some right to a reward, they do so in different ways. Merit in strict justice implies an absolute equality without any grace given to the person who merits. But merit de condigno involves an equality which arises from grace which has been given to the one meriting" (Summa Theologica, I-II, Q. 114, a. 1, ad 3).


Question 67- Apocalypse study, II

Thanks very much for your reply, I did not realize the disparity in views. My only stumbling block before moving forward is: How do you explain the "This generation shall not pass..." passage in Matthew. You don't use the "Church age generation" view do you? Also, did you publish a book on the subject?

Thanks again & God Bless. Tad

R. Sungenis: Tad, we are publishing a book on the Apocalypse this year. It will be the second volume of the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible.

Regarding Matthew 24:32, we cover this in our first volume of the CASB. Our take is that Matthew 24 is a dual prophecy, one leg being national Israel's demise, the other being a telescoping into the future of the world's final demise. We cite the Fathers and the medievals who had, in principle, this same kind of double interpretation.

The reason we reject a thoroughly preterist interpretation of the Apocalypse is that it seeks to confine the book to Israel's historical demise and thus misses the eschatological thrust of the book as it relates to the Church age. We note in our interpretation of the Apocalypse that the demise of Israel could be an historical dropback to some of John's descriptions, but certainly not the backbone of the book or the means to understand his often cryptic language.


Question 66- Apocalypse study

To Whom it may concern:

My name is Tad Sumoski (Lancaster, PA). I'm a convert to The Church from fundamentalism, and am finishing up David Currie's book, "Rapture. The end times error that leaves the bible behind." I'm interested in your Apocalypse study, but wonder how your theology differs from Currie's regarding the end times on key points, assuming you're familiar with his view. Currie for one views all of the "apocalyptic events" described in Revelation as a past event (AD 70); only the end of Revelation that deals with the second coming is of course viewed as a future event. Do you agree with David Currie on these points?

If you have time to reply, thank you. Either way, God Bless,

R. Sungenis: Tad, no, we don't subscribe to Mr. Currie's view of the Apocalypse. His is not only a preterist viewpoint, but one that focuses almost solely on the demise of Israel as the fulfillment of John's prophecies. Since he thinks that only Apoc 21-22 are speaking of the future, I would say he has totally misunderstood the Apocalypse. My inkling is that he is getting his view, at least partially, from Scott Hahn, the one person in Catholic Church today that sees the 1000 year period as taking place in the Old Testament.

We hold the interpretation of the Apocalypse that has been taught in the Church since the time of the Fathers, the Amillennial position. This position was confirmed by the Council of Ephesus as the official position of the Church. As such, it understands the 1000 year reign as being fulfilled in the Church, and the binding of Satan occurring at the Cross. The Apocalypse is speaking of events throughout the Church age, and each of its seven sections has passages that relate directly to the future.


Question 65- Romans 11 and Replacement theology

Hello Robert,

first, many thanks for the great work you are doing for the Lord and His Church in this time of difficulty.

I have a question on "replacement theology". As I understand it, the Church supplants Isreal as the People of God in the New Testmaent, Hence St. Paul refers many times to the Church as"Israel" and so on.

However, dispensationalists will drag up Romans 11 to show that God is not finished with Israel. If this is the case, can we say that the OT covenant with the Jews is still, in a certain sense, in place? And if this is the case, how can the Church really be "replacing" Israel?

It seems to me this question is the heart of the scandalous remarks by the likes of Cardinal Kaspar and Bishop Gurion of Jerusalem who say the Jews don't need to convert as they have their own covenant.

I have tried to clarify the Romans 11 aspect by looking at is as follows:

God promised blessings to Israel in the OT. In the NT, the Church inherits those blessings because we believe in Jesus. The Jews lost out because they rejected Him. HOWEVER, the blessings are still available to the Jews, if only they would convert to the Gospel of Jesus. in this way, and in this way alone, are the OT covenant blessings still open to the Jews. in other words, the covenant blessings are only now available in the much wider context of the new People of God, in whom all promises have been fulfilled. In regard to the promises of "land", these promised have also been fulfilled, specifically, in the expansion of the people of God (the Church) over the whole earth, the land of OT Israel being seen as a"down-payment" of God's promises to His people.

Is this a fair representation of the Catholic teaching? I ask you this because I find it difficult to respond to "replacement theology" charges from dispensationalists and it seems many Catholics are confused about it nowadays too.

Thanks and God bless,

R. Sungenis: Sean, the dispensationalists are quite wrong. Their first error was failing to see that the OT states quite clearly that the promises of land to Israel have already been fulfilled and there is nothing further in the physical realm God owes the Jews (cf., Josh 21:44-45; Neh 9:7-8; 1 Kings 8:56). Once this is established, then dispensationalism is superfluous, since there is nothing left for God to do with Israel, expect, as St. Paul says in Romans 11:5 -- save the remnant chosen by grace, and that saving will be by the New Covenant, which is the fulfillment of the spiritual promises God made to Abraham (Gal 3:16, 29).

Be that as it may, St. Paul himself has no delusions of grandeur regarding the conversion of the Jews, since he says in Romans 11:14 that he expects only "some" of them to be converted, and speaks only conditionally about their future salvation in Romans 11:23 ("And they also, IF they do not continue in their unbelief will be grafted in again").

That it is only the New Covenant saving the remnant of faithful Jews is reiterated in Romans 11:26 which says "and thus all Israel will be saved." The word "thus" is the Greek adverb "houtos" which is modifying the verb "saved," and means "in this way all Israel will be saved." The meaning of "in this way" is then explained in Romans 11:26b and 27 as the first coming of Christ, when he established his "covenant" (i.e., the New Covenant, cf., Hebrews 8:1-16; 10:16-18) with the Jews and "took away their sins."

That the "first" coming is in view is verified by the two Old Testament passages from which St. Paul quotes (Isaiah 59:20-21; Isaiah 27:9). It is also confirmed by the explicit language of Luke 1:68-79, which, referring to the birth of Christ, says that God came to save the Jews, as He swore to David and Abraham.

The only reason that St. Paul goes into an in depth description of these events in Romans 11 is, as he says himself in Romans 11:1-2, "has God forsaken his people whom he foreknew?" In other words, the natural question that would arise once God, through the death of Christ, rejected national Israel as his chosen people, is: has God completely cut off the Jews? The answer to that question, St. Paul assures us, is NO, for although it may look like they are completely forsaken, there is still a remnant being saved, and St. Paul points to himself as being a great example of that very remnant. Thus, God has been faithful to the faithful Jews, and will continue to do so up until the end of time (i.e., "the fulness of the Gentiles") but even as it is true with the majority of the Gentiles who have disbelieved, God will condemn the rest of Jewry for their refusal to accept Christ.

As such, Romans 11 is not speaking about some grand conversion of the Jews. That idea is nowhere taught in either the Old or New Testaments. It is only speaking about God's continued faithfulness to faithful Jews who embrace Christ as their one and only savior. Anyone who teaches that the Jews can or will be saved by recourse to the Old Covenant is teaching heresy, and they will be condemned along with the Jews to whom they have preached that false gospel.


Question 64- "perhaps because they are new" --JPII


It is certainly a first that a Catholic ecumenical council could contain things "offensive to pious ears" as you concede, but I wish to quickly address another thing. Regarding JPII's statement on "points of doctrine which, perhaps because they are new, have not yet been well understood by some," you erroneously claim that JPII says that they are only "PERHAPS new," but this is not what he says.

Read the sentence again. The "perhaps" does not refer to "new," as though they were "perhaps new," but rather, the "perhaps" refers to the REASON WHY they have not yet been well understood by some.

That is, JPII does not at all doubt that the teachings are new; rather, he is unsure of whether THAT FACT is the *reason why* they have not yet been understood by some. It is like saying, "No one opened the door when I rang the bell, perhaps because no one was home." This does not mean I am unsure of whether no one opened the door, but rather of whether the FACT that the door was not opened is explained by the possible reason that no one is home. Big difference.

So this means that we have JPII's admission that yes, Vatican II taught new points of doctrine.


R. Sungenis: Mario, the clause reads "especially in points of doctrine which, perhaps because they are new, have not yet been well understood by some sections of the church.”

The subject of the clause is "points of doctrine." This is followed by a relative pronoun "which" standing in for the subject in order to connect it to the next clause "perhaps because they are new." The pronoun "they" in the clause "perhaps because they are new" refers back to the antecedent "which," which in turn points back to the subject "points of doctrine." There is nothing in this syntax that makes "perhaps" refer to a reason.

As for the "hurtful to pious ears" remark, that, perhaps, was out of line, since that is a technical phrase used in papal condemnations of erroneous teachings. I do not claim that Vatican II has any erroneous teachings, only ambiguous statements that are turned into erroneous teachings by its liberal interpreters.My attempt at using the phrase colloquially is questionable at best. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.


Question 63- A small error on your homepage perhaps?

Dear Robert:
I just noticed a mis-citation on your homepage. The passage about holding fast to tradition cites 2 Thess 2:15. In my DR version, it's verse 14. A small matter, and perhaps there is a discrepancy among the copies of the Douay in terms of the numbering of the verses?
Thanks again for an otherwise superb website.
Dana D

R. Sungenis: Thank you, Dana. Yes, there is a discrepancy between the DR and other versions in that particular area, and there are others as well in the Old and New Testament. It was just the way they counted verses at times. God be with you.


Question 62- Antidote to the Disease of Sedevacantism

I just wanted to let you know that your dialogue with Mario on this topic is by far one of the best debates I have read refuting the sedevacantist position. Both you and Fr. Harrison have been tremendous helps to me through this whole transition. Mario is still emailing me on a regular basis trying to get me back into sedevacantism, but I told him that your dialogue with him settled the case for me.

God bless,

R. Sungenis: Joe, you might also want to look at Canon Law 194. Here is the wording:

The following are removed from an ecclesiastical office by the law itself:

1) a person who has lost the clerical state

2) a person who has publicly defected from the Catholic faith or from the communion of the Church

3) a cleric who has attempted marriage even if only civilly.

#2. The removal mentioned in nn. 2 and 3 can be enforced only if it is established by the declaration of a competent authority.


Question 61- Fr. Maciel, Bishop of Arlington, Va, and slander

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I appreciate what you do, in the sense that you are a clear and unwavering voice for tradition in an era that seems to idolize revolution and innovation. I definitely agree with you that a Church that does not is easy on heretics is worse off then a Church that is overly-harsh on them (though I think that your apparent recourse to capital punishment is unfathomable; especially when excommunication seems to be a suitable punishment). I consider you an important voice in the Church today.

That said, I do wish to express my uneasiness with your willingness to entertain accusations against brothers in Christ. While the legal principle "innocent until proven guilty" is primarily a secular attempt to make sure that our courts do not wrongfully convict innocent men, it has its roots in Christian ethics. Christians have been taught to look upon fellow human beings with charity, mercy, and a disposition of trust. When one publicizes accusations against someone without knowing for sure whether they are definitely true, one risks ruining, or at least casting a permanent shadow, on the good reputation and good works of a possibly innocent man. This is the sin of detraction, and that sin can be mortal (there is a good article on the Catholic Encyclopedia about detraction.)

Obviously, it is our duty to use our knowledge to protect people and promote the health of the Church. If a particular sin is well-established, or if a particularly grave sin is to be feared on very good authority, one might have to risk detraction for the good of others. But it is indeed a risk. While there surely are "legal loopholes" by which a crafty person (you are one of the craftiest) can claim that almost any publicizing of malicious rumors was necessary and intended for the good, the ethical precept urges us not to assume guilt but to fear slander. The spirit of Catholic moral teaching on this subject, as you well know, is that we are to proceed with a quiet caution and ultimately deference to the accused.

Fr. Neuhaus, in the March 2002 issue of First Things, writes a defense of Fr. Maciel of the Legionaries that begins with such a sentiment (though he does not mention the more technical "detraction"). Here is an excerpt:

...Slander and calumny have a way of spreading to the four winds and, once released, can never be completely recalled. Even when accusations are firmly nailed as false, the reputations of those falsely accused bear a lingering taint. "Oh yes," it is vaguely said, "wasn't he once accused of..."

The words of the Bard that you learned in grade school are entirely to the point:

Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.

I can not help but think of Fr. Maciel without thinking of these accusations, true or not. The same applies for Fr. Martin, about whom you wrote:

R. Sungenis: I wouldn't worry about Bell or the NYT giving some press to Fr. Martin. Martin made a name for himself through his provocative books, and Bell and the NYT know a popular subject when they see one. As for Fr. Martin, his analysis is spot on. He was a Vatican insider, and he should know what was going on. As for the allegations against him (an affair) he was recently exonerated from all that, since the Jesuit who had accused him recanted that he made it all up to get back at Fr. Martin.

You almost sound as if Fr. Martin was guilty, or to be treated as guilty, until this exoneration. Obviously, if the exoneration was true, he was innocent beforehand, and justice demands that he should have been treated accordingly. You also admit that his accusers had "made it all up to get back at Fr. Martin." The same could easily be true of other people's accusers, not matter how reliable they might seem, or how much they confirm our suspicions. Until you have solid proof, I would hope that you would refrain from passing these suspicions along. Even "merely" expressing your opinions, when you are seen as authority by so many, can be very harmful.
Sincerely yours,
Patrick R

R. Sungenis: Patrick, your cautions are well advised. I certainly do not want to cross the line into slander. If you ever see me do so, please don't hesitate to point it out to me. That being said, I don't think I have said anything slanderous about Fr. Maciel, Fr. Martin or Bishop Loverde, and I certainly did not mean to imply that Fr. Martin was guilty until exhonerated. I thought just the opposite. Regarding Fr. Maciel, the fact is that the accusations against him will not go away, and they have been resurrected again just a few weeks ago. That is all I said about him. As for Bishop Loverde, what I say about him is based on what I know, personally, about him. The only way it would be slander is if I knew that it wasn't true and said it anyway.


Question 60- Peter's preeminence and Mat. 20:20-28


How would a Catholic understand verses like Matthew 20:20-28 (cf. Mark 10:35-45) in light of Catholic claims that Jesus had already told the twelve Apostles that Peter would have preeminence in Matthew 16:18-19? Even though verse 21 says James and John wish to sit at Jesus' right and left in his kingdom, the context seems to suggest they had an earthly kingdom in mind because of Jesus' later comments in verses 25-27. Other similar verses are Matt 18:1, Mark 9:34 and Luke 22:24.
Thanks for your help!


R. Sungenis: Harold, Jesus did not have an earthly kingdom in mind. He was merely using the Gentiles as an object lesson for the apostles. We are not to seek leadership or prestige above others. We wait until we are apppointed to such places, and when we are appointed to them we must not lord it over them, as the "Gentiles" do.


Question 59- Sedevacantist problems and Vacancy of the Throne

Dear Mr. Sungenis:
I thoroughly enjoy your debates on sedevacantism, however I have found that one argument is never made. Most sedevacantists hold that John XXIII was either (a) not validly elected pope because of heresy/masonic affiliation, or (b) he fell from the papacy (after election) due to heresy. This would mean that since 1958 their has been no pope. Now after 1958 and through his entire papacy not one bishop, priest or for that matter layman ever advanced the idea that he was not the pope. Sedevacantism was, as far as I know, unheard of before 1970. This means that the entire Church was in schism for a decade or more! Every bishop, every priest, and by all accounts every layman followed an anti-pope into schism and out of the Church. This means the Church did not exist as Christ constituted it, plain and simple.

This argument still holds water if the sedevacantist accepts that John XIII was in fact pope, but that it was his successor Paul VI who was the anti-pope either by invalid election or by falling into heresy. Paul VI was elected in 1963. He was uncontested as pope until the early 70's. Still for several years the entire Church was in schism and thus nonexistent. A sedevacantist would have to prove that there existed visibly (Christ's Church is visible and hierarchical) at least one sedevacantist from 1963-64 on, without interruption. Even then it would have to be a bishop or at least a priest because the Church is a hierarchical institution and the priesthood is indispensable for the life of the Church. The Church cannot disappear or go into nonexistence for even one moment or Christ's promise in Matthew 16 is void. Unless the sedevacantist wants to hold the heretical protestant doctrine of an invisible church.

Anyway sorry for the long email, I just want to make my point clear. At any rate Catholics are bound to take the safe path and considering the necessity of submission to the Roman Pontiff for salvation (Boniface VIII Unam Sanctam) I opt for JPII. Let me know what you think.
James H
Salt Lake City, UT

R. Sungenis: James, I understand your argument, but I wouldn't go that route. It is theoretically possible to have the throne of Peter vacant but still intact and awaiting its rightful heir. After all, the throne is vacant each time a reigning pope dies, at least for a few weeks until the next pope assumes the throne. So if it can be vacant for a few weeks, it can be vacant longer than that. So the question is not whether the throne can be vacant, but whether we laymen have the right to declare it vacant. As it stands, we have no such authority. Canon 194 of the 1917 and 1983 code made that clear: "The removal mentioned in nn. 2 and 3 can be enforced only if it is established by the declaration of a competent authority."


Question 58- Regarding the New Heaven and the New Earth

The following Q&A was on your site:

What does it mean that God will create a new heaven and earth?

R. Sungenis: It means that this heaven and earth will be destroyed and God will recreate a New Heaven and New Earth, “and the former will not come into mind nor be remembered.” (Isaiah 65:17).

Does this mean that we will be unaware of our previous earthly
existence? Will we forget the people who did not make it to heaven?

R. Sungenis: Unless there is a more viable interpretation, I believe it is saying that the former world will be forgotten, and rightly so. There would be no need to remember it.


Question 57- Interracial Marriage

Dear Robert,
Does The Catholic Church have the authority to forbid interracial marriage (I think it does, but am not sure) and if so has it ever exercised this authority either on a universal or diocesan level? Thank you.

R. Sungenis: James, this statement came up on our QA board about two months ago. As far as I know, the Church has no official statement on interracial marriage, and if there is any they would only be on the pastoral, not the dogmatic, level.


Question 56- Predestination

I have a disagreement about your comment on February's Q&A # 50 "he did not or cannot predestine them to heaven because there is another component in his determinations and that is man's free will." It sounds as from your answer that you don't believe in predestination or its gratuity. I've read your book Not by Faith Alone and you make it sound as if the Catholic Church is anti-predestination, while I know the Fathers and scripture is strongly pro-predestination. I feel the Church never answered the debate between the Molinist and Thomist. You make it sound as if the Molinist won hands down.

I believe this article (LINK) clearly shows that Catholics can affirm Unconditional Election while not affirming double predestination. Also the Thomist, Lagrange, showed in his book Predestination how divine predilection can incorporate man's free will into God's predestination plan and ultimately how intrinsically efficacious grace can infallibly lead to the salvation of the elect.

R. Sungenis: Michael, I think you are misundestanding me. The statement "Also the Thomist, Lagrange, showed in his book Predestination how divine predilection can incorporate man's free will into God's predestination plan and ultimately how intrinsically efficacious grace can infallibly lead to the salvation of the elect" is how I also see predestination and man's free will. The problem is not in the assertion of this statement, however, but showing how it can be logically accomplished without infringing on man's free will. I state in NBFA, in my summary statements, that the predestination of the elect is infallible.


Question 55- Does Vatican I Deny Theistic Evolution?

Dear Robert,
I am writing to dispute the relevance of several Council statements to the evoltution debate. Note, I do not support evolution; I am trying to strengthen the creationist stance by correcting what I view as a mistake in their argumentation. This is a statement from Vatican I, which I got from your site:

"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."
Now, a theistic evolutionist would confess that the world and all the things that are in it have been produced ex nihilo. He would, however, state that intermediate forms passed between the first life forms and the current ones. Therefore, the only "sticking point" in this passage would seem to be "as regards their whole substance." However, this line does not really address the issue of evolution. You see, "all things ... material, as regards their whole substance . . . from nothing" does not rule out intermediate forms. As I understand it, the inference that creationists draw from this passage is that all animals and plants have been created in their entire nature/substance from nothing. Hence, no current species could have been created from a pre-existing species. However, God created man from mud. Hence, man, as regards his whole substance (taken in this sense), was NOT created from nothing. The "whole substance" reference simply does not rule out the creation of one material thing from another so long as the first material thing in the chain was created ex nihilo. Ergo, it does not rule out creation from any specific type of thing, including living ones.

It seems that this passage is concerned with making God the Lord of creation. The rest of the passage deals with His free will in creating the world to His own glory, not with the issue of evolution. I take this a rejection of the idea that matter exists eternally and independently of God. By saying "all things . . . as regards their whole substance," the Council Fathers ruled out the idea that there is any element in the universe (prime matter, Platonic ideas, etc.) that exists eternally and independently of God. Whether God can take one material substance that He has already created ex nihilo (e.g. a living body) and turn it into another substance is not in question; in any case, the second substance would still rely on God's creative power for its entire existence.

Therefore, creationists shoot themselves in the foot when they try to make this passage in Vatican I support their specific anti-evolution stance. The same argument applies to the Council of Florence quotation that you cited in your answer to question 63.

Again, to clarify the issue, I am not addressing any other argument from Councils or Popes, nor am asserting that evolution is true. All that I am saying is that the Vatican I and Florence texts do not really address the evolution of species per se, and are therefore irrelevant to the discussion.
Tobias T

R. Sungenis: Tobias, I understand what you are saying. Believe me, we have gone round-and-round about this issue at the Kolbe center. We have come to the resolution that: Properly interpreted, Laterna IV and Vatican I both rule out theistic evolution, but, in order to make this clear it will require another magisterial statement saying so.

On the technical side of the issue, the "mud" that God took in the process of creating Adam does not necessarily mean that the constituent parts or even the basal elements of the mud were altered or even used in order to form Adam. Mud, in itself, doesn't contain all or even some of what would be required to create Adam, and thus God had to create most, if not all, of Adam from nothing. The same would be true of the animals created from on the Sixth day ("Let the earth bring forth living creatures..."). The only way for a theistic evolutionist to counter this would be to prove that the mud was an integral and necessary substance in the creation of Adam. God may be using mud for merely for spiritual/pedagogical reasons (e.g. Jesus' use of mud in the curing of the blind man. The mud itself has no medicinal qualities).

Second, the context of Vatican I statement, although you are certainly correct in stressing its desire to separate itself from pantheism, is more pervasive. For example, it says that the spiritual was also created ex nihilo, which I assume refers to angels. Since it is common knowledge (at least no one I know disputes it) that angels did not evolve, the context of Vatican I's statement "whole substance" is assuming a non-evolutionary creation. The angels were created in their whole substance. Moreover, by the principle of syntactical congruence, the parameters applied to the angels must also be applied to man, otherwise we have two different working definitions of "whole substance," which cannot be the case.

When we combine this reasoning with the statement from the Council of Cologne given around the same time that outrightly condemned evolution, and considering that Vatican I's statement added the phrase "in their whole substance" that was not in Lateran IV (even though Vatican I is quoting Lateran IV) just 11 years after Darwin published his Origin of Species which denied that creatures were created in their whole substance, at once, I think you can see why I lean to this viewpoint.
God be with you.


Question 54- Book Recommendation


I was thinking of buying this book and wonder if you are
familiar with either the book or the author.

God Bless,

Jim B

R. Sungenis: Jim, I can't say because I've never read the book, but from reading the description you sent my immediate reaction was not so good. He speaks of science as bringing so many successes and that we can trust our senses to give us the truth. A little too optimistic, I think. It's not our senses that are the problem, but the hidden philosophies and cultural agendas that create the INTERPRETATIONS of what our senses bring to us. Two scientists can look at the same data and have totally different interpretations of what it really is.These interpretations are as varied and biased in science as they are in religion (which is why we have thousands of denominations). In fact, it is even worse in science, since anyone who is caught deviating from the status quo (Copernicanism, Evolution, Relativity, Big Bangism, Biology, Medicine, etc) will be summarily ostracized, even if the data supports their conclusions.

To help get the drift of what I'm saying, he are two quote from Lewis Thomas, biologist and medical doctor who died in 1993:

Science is founded on uncertainty…We are always, as it turns out, fundamentally wrong…The only solid piece of scientific truth about which I feel totally confident is that we are profoundly ignorant about nature. ...It is this sudden confrontation with the depth and scope of ignorance that represents the most significant contribution of twentieth-century science to the human intellect.

The principle discoveries in this [20th] century, taking all in all, are the glimpses of the depth of our ignorance about nature. Things that used to seem clear and rational, matters of absolute certainty – Newtonian mechanics for example – have slipped through out fingers, and we are left with a new set of gigantic puzzles, cosmic uncertainties, ambiguities. Some of the laws of physics require footnotes every few years, some are cancelled outright, some undergo revised versions of legislative intent like acts of Congress.

Here's another from Karl Popper, world renowned philosopher of science:

"Science has nothing to do with the quest for certainty or probability or reliability. We are not interested in establishing scientific theories as secure or certain, or probable….It can even be shown that all theories, including the best, have the same probability, namely zero….our attempts to see and to find the truth are not final, but open to improvement; that our knowledge, our doctrine, is conjectural; that it consists of guesses, of hypotheses rather than of final and certain truths."

I could give you a dozen more, most of which will be included in my book. I'm sorry to say, when everything is added up, modern science is a great deceiver, and the tool to keep men from God. True science, however, is the friend of Christianity, since it persists in vindicating the Bible and putting to rest the foolish theories of modern man.


Question 53- Conversion to the Catholic Church

I am about to become Catholic at the next Easter Vigil. My father is a Baptist pastor, and he keeps trying to scare me with "catholic facts", such as the high percentage of pedophile priests and that the Church is the "whore of Babylon". What do I do, and do you have answers to these? Also, my parents refuse to have any contact with my Catholic fiance, and they are refusing to come to our wedding in July. Also, due to my fiance being very orthodox in his beliefs, they think that he is an instrument of the devil. They also say that if I become Catholic, I will be damning are future children to a false religion. Help! Rebekah

PS. My dad is now a fan of Hans Kung's version of Catholic history and church history in general, how do I refute this?

R. Sungenis: Rebekah, here's some help. Admit the Church has problems, some very serious, but Jesus didn't promise that there would be no sinners in the Church. He only promised that the gates of hell would not prevail. Because of that promise, the Catholic Church has existed for 2000 years, and was the only Church existing when Jesus and the Apostles began the Christian faith. Because of that promise, all the doctrines of the Fathers and Councils have been preserved without change. No religion even comes close to these claims, and obviously they can't, since all Protestant denominations are less than 450 years old. That alone should reveal to the honest person that there is something amiss with any religion that is not Catholic. There can be only one true Church (Eph 4:5). Anything else is an imposter.


Question 52- Women & veils

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I would first off like to thank you for your very interesting article regarding the veiling of women. I have recently, after much debate and research on the issue, begun to wear a veil to mass, and your article was helpful in refuting the "cultural" arguments that many have given me against veils.  My choice to wear the veil has earned me the affectionate title of "Sister" in my campus parish, a title I gladly wear with pride for the sake of the Gospel!

However I still have some questions regarding St Paul's writings on headcoverings:

1. Does the requirement to cover the head apply to situations where one is not in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament? For example, if I'm at home praying the rosary, is it necessary for me to cover my head?

R. Sungenis: Maria, so glad to hear that you see the importance of veils, and I'm so glad you wear it with honor. Womanhood is an honor and the veil is your crown. Congratulations. As to your question, it is always proper to wear a veil when praying. The angels are watching, according to St. Paul, and your example and obedience is what they want to see. Technically, the context of 1 Cor 11:1-16 is outside the Church, since only beginning in 11:17 and continuing in 11:18, 20, 33, 34, does Paul mention the Church "coming together," but those instructions (the ones from 17-34) refer to the Eucharist.


Question 51- Is Fatima Relevant for Today? Revisited

Gregory: If apparitions could order Popes around, Mr. Sungenis, how many "visionaries" do you think would suddenly pop up, claiming to have orders direct from Heaven? Surely you can see the chaos that would result? Jesus would not confuse His Church like that.

Gregory --- I think it needs to be pointed out that this particular apparition (the Blessed Virgin Mary) predicted the greatest public miracle preformed in human history on a particular date (October 13th, 1917) and location, and was witnessed by 70,000 to 100,000 people, skeptics and believers alike. If a visionary (Sister Lucy of Fatima) can come up with an affirmation like that, then yes, I think a Pope should jump through whatever hoop heaven requests! What happened when the great French Monarchs failed to consecrate their nation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as He requested? Terrible consequences befell that poor nation. (See endnotes) In contrast, what happened when in 1832 Archbishop Hyacinth de Quelen of Paris complied with the request of the apparition (the Blessed Virgin Mary) that appeared to St.Catherine Laboure and asked that a medal be struck in her Son's honor? (See link for full story) Countless miracles were attributed to it. Within a few short years it became known as the Miraculous Medal. All because of the humble nun and prelate's obedience to an apparition..(See link for a modern day confirmation of its miraculous power) Yes Gregory, we need to listen to some of these visionaries and the apparitions that instruct them. Lessons of the past impart the wisdom to intelligently discuss these matters.

 --- David Heimlich Endnotes: In a divine communication to Sister Lucy [of Fatima] at Rianjo, Spain, in 1931, (See "The Apparition at Rianjo (1931)".) Our Lord stated: "Make it known to My ministers, [the Popes] given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, [the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary] they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary." Our Lord was here making an explicit reference to the requests of the Sacred Heart given through Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque on June 17, 1689 to the King of France. As a result of the refusal of King Louis XIV – as well as the refusal of both his great grandson, King Louis XV, and Louis XV’s grandson, King Louis XVI – to publicly consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as was requested by Heaven by means of a nun whose reputation for sanctity was well-known, the Protestant and Masonic counter-church successfully carried out the great upheaval of the French Revolution.

On June 17, 1789, (the Feast of the Sacred Heart) exactly one hundred years to the day from when Saint Margaret Mary had written down the great designs of Heaven for the King, the Third Estate rose up and proclaimed itself a National Assembly. On January 21, 1793, France, ungrateful and rebellious to its God, dared to decapitate its most Christian King. At Rianjo, Jesus warns us that this dark chapter of history will repeat itself, and this time the ministers of His Church – the bishops, and perhaps even the Pope himself – will be among its hapless victims. (See The Apparition at Rianjo (1931).)

R. Sungenis: Thank you for your additional information. Let's hope Gregory sees its relevance.


Question 50- Raymond Brown and Medjugorje

Thank you for your quick info on Raymond Brown. The books are on their way back to I do have one more question. Medjugorje? Fact or fiction? Can't find Pope John Paul II's recent view on it....

R. Sungenis: Fiction. The local bishop has condemned it. John Paul II refuses to endorse it. It doesn't have a prayer. Read Matthew 12:39.


Question 49- Russian Consecration could never have happened.

Ya know, Bob, Our Lady of Fatima's request seems simple, at first glance. However, in this day and age, do you think that all of the bishops in the world would actually do what She asked, much less what the Pope asked? Considering the failures and seeming resistance to Our Lady from the various Popes through the years, I would wager the Pope couldn't get half the bishops of the world to go along with it for any given attempt.
Thanks for your time,

R. Sungenis: Steve, the thought has not slipped my mind. I would say this: considering how ominous the portents of the Fatima message are (apostasy, world cataclysms, war, etc), if I were the pope I would demand that each of the bishops participate under pain of discipline, if not excommunication. We did have such popes in history. Unfortunately, John Paul II has shown himself to be somewhat milquetoast when it comes to these things, so I wouldn't expect him to do it, nor would I expect the bishops to obey him unless they were threatened in some way.


Question 48- Geocentrism request

OK, sorry to make it so long.
Why do satelites and pendulums get dragged by the "rotating universe" but the earth is unaffected?

R. Sungenis: Because, as physics laws tell us, it is the very center of an object upon which the forces are directed. As Newton himself said, it's as if all the gravity was concentrated at the center of the Earth. Thus, it is the very center of the Earth which is held in place by the rest of the rotating universe (Misner, Thorne, Wheeler, p. 1119; Nightingale, p. 735, et al). In turn, the mantel and the crust are thus held in place because they are attached, solidly, to the center of the Earth, and they will not move unless there is some kind of surface tension. But anything that is loosely connected to the Earth, such as a pendulum bob or a satellite, will experience the centrifugal and Coriolis forces generated by the rotating universe.


Question 47- Raymond Brown

I ordered Raymond Brown's books on the Death of the Messiah -- 2 volumes.

Afterwards during my travels on the internet I read some disturbing things about him.

Can you let me know if these two volumes have problems with the Catholic Church.

I bought the books because he is a priest. Now I don't know if I should bother reading them or not.

R. Sungenis: I hate to be too blunt, but throw them in the circular file. They are not worth the paper they are printed on. Fr. Brown and his liberal colleagues have abandoned the traditional and dogmatic teaching on Sacred Scripture. They hold that Scripture is full of historical mistakes and that many of the narratives are mere fiction.


Question 46- Earth's Rotation, Part 2

Mr. Sungenis:
If the universe was rotating about the earth, as you suggust, then the star trails would be parallel lines, not concentric circles.
And, if you say, I can't prove my case (which, come to think of it, I think my above statement goes a long way in doing), well, you can't prove yours either.

R. Sungenis: First of all, I never claimed I could "prove" my case. I merely challenged heliocentrists to back up their claims that they had proof of heliocentrism. As it stands, no one does have proof, so geocentrism is just as viable as heliocentrism.

As for star trails, you are quite mistaken. A spherical universe that has its semi major axis pointing toward Polaris will produce circles, not straight lines.


Question 45- Earth's Rotation

There is some pub on the internet about your group not believing the earth rotates.
What about: which basically states focault many years ago use a pendulum with a twist hinge of sorts that would the pendulum to remain in a steady straight motion but allow earth or ground to move below. By going off kilter from the straight line (I have even scene pins knocked over) it proves that

1) The earth is moving below, so short of a gazillion separates parts of the earth all moving at the same time (because the experiment can be repeated countless times with the same effect), the earth is rotating as a whole.

How about eclipses, or even better, the concentric circle of stars created by a camera with an open shutter focused on the north stars, and the stars tracking in circles, or star trails.

Star trails are caused by the rotation of our planet. The sky turns circles above our heads, streaking the images of stars across film. Only Polaris at the North Celestial Pole

seems stationary. (There's a South Celestial Pole, too, but no bright star lies at the stationary point.)
and also

The poles of the celestial coordinate system are defined as those two points where the Earth's rotational axis, if extended to infinity, north and south, intersect the celestial sphere (Fig. 12 Thus, the North Celestial Pole is that point in the sky where an extension of the Earth's axis through the North Pole intersects the celestial sphere. This point in the sky is located near the North Star, Polaris.

Unless someone spun the camera like a top, and if someone told you they didnt, then on the surface it is fact, and of course could be proven if you cared to watch someone go throught the whole process of setup, open shutter, close shutter, development, etc.,

And I'm sure it is provably that not all stars track the path, then how is it explained.
Daniel G. Fousek, CHST

R. Sungenis: Daniel, most scientists worth their salt know better than to try to prove heliocentrism by the above arguments, since a Relativist has no way to distinguish between a rotating Earth in a fixed universe as opposed to a fixed-Earth in a rotating universe. They all admit this, but they don't publicize it unless they are forced to do so. In other words, the Foucault pendulum you reference above, for example, can be explained, both physically and mathematically, by a rotating universe around a fixed-Earth, as can all the other phenomena you mention, and there is not a person in this world that can disprove it.


Question 44- Fatima

Can you please recommend an accurate and faithful book on the whole story of Fatima. I would really like to become more informed on the history and events of Our Lady's message and the miracles that have surrounded it and the implications it has on our future and the future of our Church. Thanks for your help.

May God Bless You and Your Apostolate,
Kenneth K
Houston, TX

R. Sungenis: Kenneth, go to Fr. Gruner's website. He has many on-line articles and the books that go along with that evidence.


Question 43- Help for our son: Is the Bible a history book?

Dear Robert,

Our son is a freshman at the University of Dallas and is taking a course on “Interpreting the Bible.” He is concerned because his professor said that the Bible is not a history book. Some in his class are questioning their faith because they are taking their professor’s words to mean that not all of the Bible is true. I don’t yet have enough details but I would like to email our son some ammunition.

Can you suggest a brief, but authoritative, document or essay that would lay out the historicity, inspiration and inerrancy of the Scripture? This would need to be short enough that he would not be overwhelmed and understandable by college freshmen. At the same time it needs to be authoritative so that if he brings it up in class his professor cannot just shoot it down as from a questionable source.
Thanks for your help,

Winston E

R. Sungenis: Winston, I'm sorry to hear that the University of Dallas has fallen into the error of modernism. It used to be a good school, that is, until they ousted the remaining conservatives about 5 years ago.

I have listed some pertinent information below. There is much more but this should suffice for now. Also, I'll send down a complimentary copy of my new DVD: "What Have They Done to God's Word"

If you son needs any more help, he can contact me by email or phone. I'm determined to expose these fallacious teachers for what they really are.
Papal statements in regard to Biblical inerrancy are numerous. Here is a sampling:

Pius IX in Syllabus of Errors, condemned the following notion: “The prophecies and miracles set forth and recorded in the Sacred Scriptures are the fiction of poets, and the mysteries of the Christian faith the result of philosophical investigations. In the books of the Old and the New Testament there are contained mythical inventions...”

Pope Leo XIII, in Providentissimus Deus, “It is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Sacred Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred.”

Pope Pius X, in Lamentabili Sani, condemned the notion: “Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.”

Pope Benedict XV, in Spiritus Paraclitus: “...the divine inspiration extends to all parts of Scripture without distinction, and that no error could occur in the inspired text.”

Pope Pius XII, in Divino Afflante Spiritu, repeats Leo XIII decree: “It is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Sacred Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred.” In Humani Generis, Pius XII condemns the notion: “...immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters.”

Pontifical Biblical Commission, in 1964, states: “...that the Gospels were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who preserved their authors from every error.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 1998, states in Professio Fidei: “...the absence of error in the inspired sacred texts...”

Leo XIII: “For the sacred Scripture is not like other books. Dictated by the Holy Spirit, it contains things of the deepest importance, which, in many instances, are most difficult and obscure” (Prov. Deus, I, B, 2, b). He also says: “For all the books in their entirety...with all their parts, have been written under the dictation of the Holy Spirit” (DS 3292).

Vatican Council 1 says: “Further, this supernatural contained in the written books...from the apostles themselves by the dictation of the Holy Spirit, and have been transmitted as it were from hand to hand” (DS 3006).

The Catholic Catechism: “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit” (Para 81). “God inspired the human authors of the sacred was a true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more” (Para 106).

Leo XIII: “It is futile to argue that the Holy Spirit took human beings as his instruments in writing, implying that some error could slip in...For by his supernatural power he so stimulated and moved them to write, and so assisted them while they were writing, that they properly conceived in their mind, wished to write down faithfully, and expressed aptly with infallible truth all those things, and only those things, which He himself ordered; otherwise He could not Himself be the author of the whole of Sacred Scripture” (DS 3293).

Denzinger The Sources of Catholic Dogma
Documents of the Roman Pontiffs and of the Councils

Pius X 1903-1914
The Historical Nature of Sacred Scripture *
[From the reply of the Biblical Commission, June 23, 1905]

The question:

1980 Whether the opinion can be admitted as a principle of sound exegesis, which holds that the books of Sacred Scripture which are held to be historical, either in whole or in part sometimes do not narrate history properly so called and truly objective, but present an appearance of history only, to signify something different from the properly literal and historical significance of the words?

The answer (with the approbation of Pius X):

In the negative, except in the case, however, not readily or rashly to be admitted, where without opposing the sense of the Church and preserving its judgment, it is proved with strong arguments that the sacred writer did not wish to put down true history, and history properly socalled, but to set forth, under the appearance and form of history a parable, an allegory, or some meaning removed from the properly literal or historical significance of the words.

1997 Question 1. Whether the arguments accumulated by critics to impugn the Mosaic authenticity of the Sacred Books, which are designated by the name of Pentateuch, are of such weight that, in spite of the very many indications of both Testaments taken together, the continuous conviction of the Jewish people, also the unbroken tradition of the Church in addition to the internal evidences drawn from the text itself, they justify affirming that these books were not written by Moses, but were composed for the most part from sources later than the time of Moses?

Reply: No.

1998 Question 2. Whether the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch necessarily demands such a redaction of the whole work that it must be held absolutely that Moses wrote all and each book with his own hand, or dictated them to copyists; or, whether also the hypothesis can be permitted of those who think that the work was conceived by him under the influence of divine inspiration, and was committed to another or several to be put into writing, but in such manner that they rendered his thought faithfully, wrote nothing contrary to his wish, omitted nothing; and, finally, when the work was composed in this way, approved by Moses as its chief and inspired author, it was published under his name.

Reply: No, for the first part; yes, for the second.

1999 Question 3. Whether without prejudice to the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch it can be granted that Moses for the composition of the work made use of sources, namely written documents or oral tradition, from which, according to the peculiar goal set before him, and under -the influence of divine inspiration, he made some borrowings, and these, arranged for word according to sense or amplified, he inserted into the work itself?

Reply: Yes.

2000 Question 4. Whether, safeguarding substantially the Mosaic authenticity and the integrity of the Pentateuch, it can be admitted that in such a long course of ages it underwent some modifications, for example: additions made after the death of Moses, or by an inspired author, or glosses and explanations inserted in the texts, certain words and forms of the antiquated language translated into more modern language; finally false readings to be ascribed to the errors of copyists, which should be examined and passed upon according to the norms of textual criticism.
Reply: Yes, the judgment of the Church being maintained.

Pius X’s, Condemned Propositions Regarding Scripture as recorded in Lamentabili Sani

2002 The Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is not indeed to be spurned, but it is subject to the more accurate judgment and the correction of exegetes.

2004 The magisterium of the Church, even by dogmatic definitions, cannot determine the genuine sense of the Sacred Scriptures.

2009 They display excessive simplicity or ignorance, who believe that God is truly the author of the Sacred Scripture.

2010 The inspiration of the books of the Old Testament consists in this; that the Israelite writers have handed down religious doctrines under a peculiar aspect which is little known, or not known at all to the Gentiles.

2011 Divine inspiration does not so extend to all Sacred Scripture that it fortifies each and every part of it against all error.

2012 The exegete, if he wishes to apply himself advantageously to Biblical studies, should divest himself especially of any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Sacred Scripture, and should interpret it just as he would other merely human documents.

2013 The Evangelists themselves and the Christians of the second and third generation have artificially distributed the parables of the Gospels, and thus have given a reason for the small fruit of the preaching of Christ among the Jews.

2014 In many narratives the Evangelists related not so much what is true, as what they thought to be more profitable for the reader, although false.

2015 The Gospels up to the time of the defining and establishment of the canon have been augmented continually by additions and corrections; hence, there has remained in them only a slight and uncertain trace of the doctrine of Christ.

2016 The narrations of John are not properly history, but the mystical contemplation of the Gospel; the discourses contained in his Gospel are theological meditations on the mystery of salvation, devoid of historical truth.

2017 The Fourth Gospel exaggerated miracles, not only that the extraordinary might stand out more, but also that they might become more suitable for signifying the work and glory of the Word Incarnate.

2018 John, indeed, claims for himself the character of a witness concerning Christ; but in reality he is nothing but a distinguished witness of the Christian life, or of the life of the Christian Church at the end of the first century.

2019 Heterodox exegetes have more faithfully expressed the true sense of Scripture than Catholic exegetes.

2023 Opposition can and actually does exist between facts which are narrated in Sacred Scripture, and the dogmas of the Church based on these, so that a critic can reject as false, facts which the Church believes to be most certain.

2024 An exegete is not to be reproved who constructs premises from which it follows that dogmas are historically false or dubious, provided he does not directly deny the dogmas themselves.

2027 The divinity of Jesus Christ is not proved from the Gospels; but is a dogma which the Christian conscience has deduced from the notion of the Messias.

2061 It can be said without paradox that no chapter of Scripture, from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse, contains doctrine entirely identical with that which the Church hands down on the same subject, and so no chapter of Scripture has the same sense for the critic as for the theologian.


Question 42- Now that sister Lucia had died, what now?

Dear Robert,

Is it true that Sister Lucia has died?
If so, how will we know if the consecration is ever done?

God bless,


R. Sungenis: Ryan, yes, Sister Lucia has died. As for the consecration, we will know when the next pope decides to obey Our Lady and consecrate Russia, as we were told to do 75 years ago.


Question 41- Fr. Fox & Lucia of Fatima

Dear Robert,
I happened to be watching EWTN this morning (2/15/05) And Mr. Keck was interviewing Fr. Robert Fox (I believe it was a replay) and the discussion was on Sr. Lucia of Fatima, her life, etc. They were discussing a book on Sr. Lucia of which Fr. Fox apparently was a contributor. In this interview Fr. Fox made the emphatic and specific statement that the command/decision to release the Third Secret to the world in "1960" was the sole decision of Sr. Lucia alone and NOT that of the Holy Mother. I have never heard such a claim before. What is your information on this?
God bless,
Erven P

R. Sungenis: Erven, Fr. Fox has proven to be a man who pretends to know the truth, but has been caught in one falsehood after another. The last one was regarding his views on the pagan worship at the Fatima shrine. This one about Sr. Lucia making the decision regarding 1960 is another one. EWTN is being hoodwinked by this man, and I'm surprised Mr. Keck (whom I know personally) would take his word as gospel. I don't know any, and I emphasize "any," Fatima scholar who has even suggested, let alone asserted, that it was Sr. Lucia's decision to released the Third Secret in 1960. The claim is ludicrous, in addition to besmirching the passing away of Sr. Lucia on Sunday, for it makes her into a vigilante prophet who calls the shots, not heaven. But I'm not surprised. This is the lengths that modernists like Fr. Fox will go in order to obfuscate the issue. In the end, Fr. Fox, although he is trying to get the Vatican off the hook, has, in fact, indicted them again, since it is a fact that the whole Third Secret was not released (unless, of course, Fr. Fox wants to fill us in on the contents of the "etc" clause).


Question 40- Books recommended

Sorry to be bothering you once again Robert. I haven't heard from you as to your recommendation of the titles listed below, but I wanted to add a further name: Louis Bouyer.
Many of his titles are available here in Germany.
How would you classify him?
How about these:
Dave Armstrong: A Biblical Defense of Catholicism
Dave Armstrong: Scriptural Proofs for the Truth of the Catholic Faith
John Kane: How to Make a Good Confession
Chantal Epie: The Scriptural Roots of Catholic Teaching
James White: Roman Catholic Worship Trent to Today
Every blessing,

R. Sungenis: Simeon, sorry for the delay. I think all of the books will be good starters for your library. I would not say they are the most in depth treatments, but they are logically argued and truthfully sound.


Question 39- Human Persons Created in the Image of God and Evolution

Could I get your thoughts on the Vatican document: "Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God", specifically paragraph 63 (shown below with my emphasis)? I would like to think that this paragraph was meant to be a brief synopsis of current scientific understanding of the world around us, as the opening statement seems to suggest, rather than a proclamation of magisterial beliefs. However, I do not hold much hope for that, since the document seemed to suggest it's purpose was to wrap our Faith around (thus, become subordinate to) "new scientific evidence". Notice that Cardinal Ratzinger, himself, has endorsed it's publication.

"63. According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the “Big Bang” and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5-4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage. However it is to be explained, the decisive factor in human origins was a continually increasing brain size, culminating in that of homo sapiens. With the development of the human brain, the nature and rate of evolution were permanently altered: with the introduction of the uniquely human factors of consciousness, intentionality, freedom and creativity, biological evolution was recast as social and cultural evolution."

R. Sungenis: I have little doubt Ratzinger approved it, because, for all intents and purposes, he is a neo-modernist. When we were in Rome for our Creation symposium, some of our team visited with Ratzinger at the Vatican. From all accounts it appeared that Ratzinger was sold on evolution (even though he was presented with verifiable and viable scientific evidence to the contrary), and he accepted every thing the PAS said about evolution, even though he himself is not a scientist. As for the document itself, it is just one more indication of the status quo at the Vatican in regards to science. Modern pseudo-science has become a second god for the Vatican's bureaucrats, although they are careful not to make that god appear in opposition to the traditional God, and that is why they speak of "God directing the evolutionary process." Rest assured, however, that this garbage will go nowhere. The Church has been very clear that creation ex nihilo excludes an evolutionary process of species to species (Lateran Council IV, Vatican I, Council of Cologne).


Question 38- Eucharist a Unique Presence

First of all, thank you so much for the wonderful work you and your apostolate are doing to defend the truth in today's muddled Catholicism. My question has to do with the Eucharist. My wife and I attend a Bible study at our parish here in Houston, TX. The study is lead, of course, by a laymen who apparently has had theological training at the seminary level. He was teaching us this past Sunday that Jesus is equally present at Mass in the Eucharist, the Gospel acclamation, and in the assembly. He followed that up by saying that this is and always has been the teaching of the Catholic Church. Now immediately I knew that this was incorrect, but was unable to cite any authoritative source for my defense that the Eucharist has Jesus present in an extremely elevated manner than the other two items mentioned above. Could you help me out with some sources I could use to charitably admonish our Bible study leader?
May God continue to Bless your work,
Kenneth K

R. Sungenis: Kenneth, what your laymen is teaching is about as close to heresy as one can come. The Church has never taught that Christ is equally present in the Gospel and in the assembly as he is in the confected Eucharist. He is taking a page right out of the liberal handbook -- those who seek to make the teaching of transubstantiation an antiquated idea of the middle ages, and choose to replace it with ideas such as transignification. The Church has taught quite clearly since the Lateran Council of 1215 through the Council of Trent and today in the Catholic Catechism that only in the confected Eucharist do we have the substantive presence of Christ, unique in all respects to his ubiquitous presence or localized spiritual presence. I suggest if you want further information on this that you consult my book, Not By Bread Alone. I have an appendix dealing with the teachings of your layman titled: "A Critique of Modern Views of the Eucharist." You can purchase it from us or through or Barnes and Noble.


Question 37- Swiss Decision

According to the Tablet, the Vatican Curia, whatever that means, recently allowed the Swiss bishops to have women homilists and also to give Protestant bride/grooms in mix marriages Holy Communion at the wedding. The first is definitely heresy and the second is probably heresy and sacrilege. So the official Catholic government is practicing heresy (though it is not dogmatically defining heretical beliefs). Currently I am blessed to be a member of an FSSP parish. But more and more, I feel like a hypocrite when I condemn SSPX. If I move and my choice is N.O. Mass or SSPX, I will pick SSPX. The choice is schism or heresy. I’ll take the schismatics, especially since the Church has stated that we can attend.

What is your opinion on this mess? If you lived in Switzerland, would you attend the SSPX Mass there if your other option was a woman homilist parish?

R. Sungenis: My opinion is that it is going to get a lot worse. As for now, no, I would not attend a Mass with a woman homilist. That is an abomination. I had to walk out of a Novus Ordo Mass on Ash Wednesday because the pastor let a Methodist minister preach the homily, the first time I have ever seen that in my life. The SSPX is available for those who want to go to it, and those times are becoming much more frequent in our day. I think a lot is going to depend on what the next pope does. I wouldn't expect anything out of John Paul II. He has lost control of the Vatican. In the meantime, we have been forewarned not to embrace the schism of the SSPX.


Question 36- Annulments

My name is Pablo and I am a catholic. There was one thing that always disturbed me about the Catholic teaching on marriage with concerns to an annulment. From and there answer library i got this:

"While their ex-spouses are alive, the only time that a baptized couple can remarry after divorce is when a valid sacramental marriage never existed in the first place. For example, for a marriage to be contracted, the two parties must exchange valid matrimonial consent. If they do not, the marriage is null. If the competent authority (a diocesan marriage tribunal) establishes this fact, a decree of nullity (commonly called an annulment) can be granted, and the parties are free to remarry (CCC 1629). In this case there is no divorce followed by remarriage in God’s eyes because there was no marriage before God in the first place, merely a marriage in the eyes of men. "

It is my understanding that when we say I do at the wedding, this is a verbal agreement with God saying this is the woman i want for the rest of my life. Also in a Catholic church from what I understand, isn't there a meeting for like six months with the couple before getting married? Basically what i am getting at is to say a marriage is Null and void is kind of weak don't you think, knowing the fact that you have had all that time. True is there really a specific time frame for a good state of mind, but i can't find a specifics in the bible that allow for annulments. When you confess to a priest you are basically confessing unto God that you will be with that woman till death do you part.

Annulment to me feels like a divorce in disguise. I hope you can help clear this up for me. I recently purchased your book on Matthew with commentary. Its great. The layout is easy to read and helps in analyzing as you go. Your dialogs are a nice read as well. You really earned that P.H.D. with your name. :)
Keep up the good work and God Bless.


R. Sungenis: Pablo, an annulment is a legitimate and legal procedure, so it should not be compared to a divorce. Simply because some bishops abuse the annulment process should not lead us to castigate annulments in themselves. The Vatican just released guidelines for an annulment to stem the tide of allowing them too frequently. Among the reasons are mental instability or incapacitation. The problem with this criteria is that it is left to the judgment of the tribunal as to the parameters of such "instability." Today, with the devaluing of marriage and commitment, many people go to the altar with a fallacious idea of what marriage is, and that has led to the allowance of more annulments than in previous years. Still, however, the bishops have produced an "annulment factory," and thus have made a mockery of annulments.


Question 35- Regarding the next Pope...

Hello and God bless!
Sorry to bother, but I was wondering if you could tell me any of the likely candidates for the next papacy and, as well, who Traditionalist Catholics with an eye towards fixing the laxity, etc. in the Church should look to and hope for to be the successor. Thanks and God bless!
In Christ,
Allahu Akbar,

R. Sungenis: : Louis, here is some inside information for you.
ROMA, February 11, 2005 - From the microphone in his room on the tenth floor of the general hospital operated by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, "Policlinico Gemelli," John Paul II's post-Angelus blessing came to St. Peter's Square, his voice hoarse and broken. In addition to his infirmity, silence will now be increasingly more pronounced in the life of this pope. But nothing can stop him, much less induce him to resign: "Here in the hospital, too, I continue to serve the Church and all humanity."

The Angelus of Sunday, February 6, carried by television stations all over the world, was a trailer, a preview of the next phase of the pontificate. This was true of both the images and the soundtrack.

In St. Peter's Square, among the green balloons carried by members of the Movement for Life, stood Cardinal Camillo Ruini, John Paul II's vicar for the diocese of Rome and president of the Italian bishops' conference.
By the pope's side at the window of the hospital could be seen Argentine archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the substitute secretary of state, and the young Polish priest Mietek, a fresh reinforcement for the pope's personal secretariat.

The pope entrusted the reading of his message to Sandri, as he has done more and more frequently for almost two years.

Fr. Mietek held in front of the pope a sheet with the Latin blessing and final "thank you" printed in large characters. The pope had wanted to say these words personally, and did so, with some difficulty.

Sandri is, in effect, the curia. He's the one who makes the wheels turn, cardinal secretary of state Angelo Sodano's faithful and shadowy man of action. John Paul II has never taken charge of the ordinary governance of the Church; he has always delegated it to the Roman curia. And now that his strength is diminished, this delegation has become more broad and is reinforcing the power of Sodano and his men. The rule is that the head of each dicastery should leave his office when he reaches 75. Sodano will turn 78 in November, but he's still at his post. The pope didn't want to lose him.
Joseph Ratzinger, who will turn 78 in April, is another one of these elderly cardinals who are irremovable due to the wishes of John Paul II. If Sodano governs the politics of the Church, Ratzinger is the one who watches over its doctrine. He has done so for twenty-three years, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Among the 119 cardinals who currently have the right to participate in the conclave, Ratzinger is one of only three remaining who elected Karol Wojtyla in 1978: all of the others received the purple from the reigning pope. But his star is not on the decline by any means. There is a widespread group, and not only within the curia, campaigning for Ratzinger as the next pope. It is a group that made the cover of "Time" a month ago.

Age is not a barrier, they note: Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was elected at 77 years of age, and then convened Vatican Council II, no less, a revolution in the Church of the 20th century. Ratzinger's supporters now want him as pope precisely in order to repair the failures of that revolution and to
guide the Church along a sure path.
But there is another circle in the curia

hat is even closer to John Paul II: it is the one seen at the window of the February 6 Angelus in the person of Fr. Mietek. The leader of this circle is Stanislaw Dziwisz, from Poland, Wojtyla's personal secretary since he was the bishop of Krakow. Its second-in-command is another Polish archbishop, Stanislaw Rylko, president
of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the author of the pope's most important speeches.

Dziwisz is much closer to John Paul II than were the previous papal secretaries, Pasquale Macchi, with Paul VI, and Loris Capovilla, with John XXIII. Pope Wojtyla's infirmity and difficulties in speaking have expanded his role even more. During the first days of the pope's recovery in the hospital, no other head of the curia who rushed to visit him had access to
his room, not even the powerful cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. Dziwisz was the only one who stayed at the side of the illustrious patient day and night. And in the following days, when the first visitors came to the pope's bedside, precedence went to the churchmen in his secretary's good graces, like the bishop of Terni, Vincenzo Paglia, a member of the Community of Saint Egidio and an aspiring successor to Ruini as the pope's cardinal vicar.

Nevertheless, the presence of cardinal Ruini in St. Peter's Square at the Angelus of February 6, and to a greater extent a key passage of the message read for the pope, disprove the claim that John Paul II doesn't decide anything anymore.

It's the other way around. Some matters are closer than any other to the heart of pope Wojtyla, and he wants to continue fighting for these with a resolution entirely unhampered by his physical frailty.

One of the questions fundamental to him is "the defense of unborn life." Cardinal Ruini was in the piazza precisely for this reason: February 6 was the "Day for Life" in the Church of Italy. And the pope said in his message: "I am at the side of the Italian bishops." That means, concretely: at the side of the strenuous defense of the inviolability of the embryonic
person, who is threatened by the upcoming referendums against law 40/2004 on artificial procreation.

Among the typically Wojtylian battles that have distinguished this pontificate, the defense of life is almost certainly destined to continue with his successor as well, unlike other matters that will slip into the shadows, like the interreligious meetings such as the ones in Assisi and
the "mea culpas."

In the conclave that will choose the next pope, in fact, if Ratzinger himself is not elected, it will in any case be someone upon whom he will make his authoritative guidance felt, in agreement with Ruini, the other major elector. Both are convinced that the relationship between the Church and the modern world will be decided by what they call the "anthropological challenge," the confrontation between the Christian vision of man and the one that reduces him to a part of nature.

Other than the present cardinals, the ones John Paul II might soon create would also enter the conclave. Expectations are that he will elevate these cardinals by June, or October at the latest. Among those who will certainly receive the purple are: Rylko; the archbishop of Bologna, Carlo
Caffarra, a convinced adherent of Ratzinger's views; and the new archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, Angelo Comastri. The latter was the preacher at the 2004 Lenten retreat for the pope and the curia, and he held everyone spellbound, beginning with Dziwisz and Rylko. As the archbishop of Loreto, he met John Paul II on his visit to the Marian shrine in September. The
Polish friends of pope Wojtyla favor him as his successor.

The new entry of Comastri could bring to three the number of Italian candidates for the papacy. The other two are Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, and Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice.

Tettamanzi has never made any secret of his aspirations, and counts on combining the consensus of the moderate and progressivist wings of the college of cardinals. He advanced in Wojtyla's shadow, as the author of his speeches on the family and bioethics, but for a few years now he has put these topics aside and taken aim at globalization, plutocracy, and media hegemony. He has the support within the curia of Cardinal Re, and outside it of the network of the Community of Saint Egidio, whose initiatives of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue he has adopted. But he has lost the much more decisive support of Opus Dei.

In the Vatican, the Opus De cardinal most active in view of the conclave is Julián Herranz, a great jurist and the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Ratzinger's leap to the top of the list of candidates for the papacy is also due to him; it took shape at the suppers for cardinals that Herranz organized at Opus Dei's heavily guarded villa in the Roman countryside, or at his new apartment behind St. Peter's Square.

The rise of Scola's candidacy also owes a great deal to Opus Dei, which co-directs the "Marcianum" institute of studies founded in 2003 by the patriarch of Venice. Scola's intellectual formation took place in the wake of Ratzinger, so as for the cardinal of Vienna, Cristoph Schönborn, who is frequently cited as another candidate for the papacy. Scola is also gaining credibility outside of Italy, partly through a brand-new magazine in five languages, including Arabic and Urdu, "Oasis," which is sent free of charge to all the cardinals and bishops of the Middle East and the Muslim parts of Asia. But he is still far from garnering enough consensus.

In short, two or three Italian candidates might enter the conclave and jockey for leadership, as happened between Giuseppe Siri and Giovanni Benelli in the memorable head-to-head of the second conclave of 1978, the one from which a new man, Wojtyla, finally emerged.

If that scenario plays itself out again, the new man this time will be a Latin American cardinal. One of these stands out above all the rest: the Argentine Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 69, archbishop of Buenos Aires, a man who combines intense spirituality and authoritative strength.
Ratzinger chose Wojtyla in 1978. His choice will be decisive again this time.


Question 34- Greek question on Acts 2:38

Dear. Mr. Sungenis:

I'm currently debating Baptismal Regeneration with someone. I cited:

"But Peter said to them: Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

My opponent said in response to this:

The active imperative is repent, the inactive imperative is be baptized. These imperatives are connected with a preposition. The preposition in Greek can be translated a bunch of different ways. "For" is as good as any in this case. But the preposition that shows that the preceding phrase CAUSES the following phrase was not used.

How should I respond?



R. Sungenis: Let's solve this by taking out the words "be baptized," and then using the same argument. In other words, if "for" is not preceded by what "caused" the remission of sin, this means that repentance will not cause a remission of sins, hence, your opponent has nothing that causes the remission of sins.

By the way, it makes no difference whether the verbs are active or passive. They are still in the imperative. The only reason "be baptized" would be in the passive is that one can't baptize himself.


Question 33- Matatics debate

I'm thinking of attending the debate between Robert Sungenis and Gerry Matatics. On your site it says
Place: Southern California
Address: TBA
Southern California stretches from Point Conception to the Mexican border and from the Mexican Border to the Arizona Border which is approximately 440 miles and inland points in between. (I live in one of those inland points) can you be more specific regarding the area involved (like Orange County, Los Angeles County, etc.)?
Thank you,

R. Sungenis: Donna, nothing yet. We are waiting for the pre-registrations to come in before we decide.


Question 32- Church teaching on evolution

It would seem to me that past teachings from the Church have made evolution of Adam/Eve's bodies impossible.

For example...

The year after the publication of Darwin's evolution thesis, the
Provincial Council of Cologne issued the following canon, which was approved by Pope Pius IX:

"Our first parents were immediately created by God (Gen.2.7).
Therefore we declare as quite contrary to Holy Scripture and the Faith the opinion of those who dare to assert that man, in respect of the body, is derived by spontaneous transformation from an imperfect nature, which improved continually until it reached the present human state."

Pius IX also approved the following teaching of the first Vatican Council :

"This sole true God by His goodness and omnipotent power, not to increase His own beatitude, and not to add to, but to manifest His perfection by the blessings which He bestows upon creatures with most free volition, immediately from the beginning of time fashioned each creature, out of nothing, spiritual and corporeal, namely the angelic and the mundane; and then the human creation, common as it were, composed of both spirit and body."

Now the Church seems to be saying that the bodies might have evolved, but not the souls...and JP2 said his famous "evolution is more than a hypothesis."

I'm troubled that the Church is contradicting itself and I don't know what to think about infallibility right now.

Is the Church going to reverse itself and give in to what I personally feel is a lie?

Thanks for any help

R. Sungenis: None of the current Church's dealings with Evolution, including John Paul II's 1996 statement that "evolution is more than a hypothesis," hold any weight in the official scheme of things, so there is no concern about infringing on the doctrine of infallibility.


Question 31- Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine

What is your opinion on the Novus Ordo vs. the
Tridentine mass and all the changes to the mass over
the last few years?

R. Sungenis: The Traditional Mass was adequate and is far superior to the Novus Ordo in many respects. The Novus Ordo, however, is a valid Mass, and thus we cannot condemn it on that basis. The fact that the Church has given us two Masses means we must choose between the two which is better. This will require a value judgment on our part. That being the case, it is my opinion that the TLM is much better. It's prayers are more solemn, it's wording is more in tune with what the Mass is accomplishing (a sacrifice before God), its overall format is very respectful and reverent toward God; and all the major doctrines of Catholicism are taught and preserved.


Question 30 - Genesis / Creation / Catholicism

Mr. Sungenis,

I recall a few years ago, listening to Scott Hahn's tape set on Genesis, that there were seven or so things from the creation account that we, as Catholics, must believe. Unfortunately I no longer have access to this particular tape set and I'm at a dead end in trying to locate this information. If you could offer some help, it would be greatly appreciated.

I have been in some fairly in-depth discussions with a theistic evolutionist that would very much like to know what it is exactly the Church says we must believe with regard to the creation account as written in the book of Genesis.
R. Sungenis: Rick, I don't know precisely the "seven" things Scott picked out, but I think they would be along these lines:

1) The account in Genesis 1-3 is historical
2) God created the world ex nihilo
3) There were two people named Adam and Eve
4) They sinned against God and brought sin and death into the world (Original Sin)
5) Eve was created from Adam
6) The Devil fell away from God and tempted Adam and Eve
7) God promised a Redeemer


Question 29- How Does one understand Geocentrism?

Dear Robert

Thank you for your response. I will ask my astronomy professor if I can observe an orrery in the planetarium here in Sudbury at Laurentian University.

By the way Robert, you are the first one who showed me just how much of a mess the Church is in because of higher critics like Father Raymond Brown. I believe books need to be written refuting the dangerous ideas of his and other liberal scholars. Although I don't think most conservative Catholic apologists on the internet would not agree with Father Raymond Brown, I
wonder why they leave such heretical nonsense unchecked! Same thing with the Bishops who are covering up priests involved is sex scandals by moving them around from parish to parish. I try to be positive and emphasize where the Spirit is moving and all the good things the Lord is doing around the
world, but I also have to be honest about God's judgment as well as His mercy, and you point out the reality that souls are perishing because of false doctrines by theologians (as Pope Leo XIII basically said that if young people lose their reverence for one part of scripture they will soon give up the whole thing altogether - and young people have lost interest in their CAtholic faith in droves), and the most sickening scandals (because of which many people are rejecting Catholicism) which Jesus tells us it would be better for them to put millstones around their necks and be drowned in the sea because of. Other apostolates speak out against the terror of abortion, why can't they also speak out about the scandals. One priest that is speaking out is Fr. Bill Casey in his series Our Final Hope! We need to go back to the beginning and see what the Lord wants of us, and thats exactly what the Kolbe Center does is go back to the beginning! We are under judgment for sin just like in Noah's time! I believe the Kolbe Center will bring us some true dialogue with Orthodox and Evangelical Christians, by going back to the beginning of our faith! I am also glad for solid books on Catholic faith like Not by Faith Alone, Not By Bread Alone, and Not by Scripture Alone!

Can you fill me in on Einsteinian cosmology. Wouldn't the circular motion of Copernicus and Galileo, and the elliptical motion of Kepler produce different mathematics? I would need to learn a little bit more about Einsteinien cosmology to understand how he fits into this, I will read up on it! like I said, I am a complete beginner when it comes to astronomy! I am going to try to read and pray through Dr. Robert Genry on astronomy pointing to Genesis and not the big bang in the 2002 Symposium I picked up in Virginia (I enjoyed your work on the early Church Fathers and the Genesis 1-11, talk about evidence for a literal 7 day creation in the Symposium!!!). I love Dr. Gentry's radiohalos argument! Since an evangelical friend of mine (she is willing to help bring anyone into the university for creation -as is also is open to hearing abou the Catholic faith) explained briefly about radioactive elements decaying, the half-life, and the assumptions that the scientists are making that they know how much of the element were in the rocks to begin with, I now at a very elementary level understand the radiohalos argument, with its tiny half life and at the rate of decay that exists it should not exist in those rocks, and the evolutionists admitted it (it is fascinating to have that documented in the book).

I have to do a 15 minute presentation on creation for my religion and science class! The people in the class (including the professor) seem very open minded, so I see this as an opportunity to grow in my understanding in the truth of creation, and to hopefully in the power of the Holy Spirit present the truth of traditional, magisterial and biblical creation as well as the scientific evidence to help me to ultimately witness for the truth of Jesus Christ, His saving gospel and gift of eternal life, and His Church! Please pray for me, this will be early this March!

By the way, I think you should write a whole book refuting higher criticism!!

Your brother in Christ,
George :)

R. Sungenis: George, sorry for the delay in responding. I'm just now catching up to my email. Regarding higher criticism, we will be publishing a book this year. The book has nine scholars who are contributing. We are focusing our critique on Raymond Brown.

As for Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler, the truth is that Copernicus was still using Ptolemy's model, except he switched the sun for the earth. He actually had eight more epicycles in his model than Ptolemy had. He was still using circles to describe the orbits of the planets, as did Ptolemy, since the circle was considered the perfect shape in Aristotelian philosophy. Kepler, after he stole Brahe's notes, saw that he had to change the circles to ellipses in order to at least come close to the actual movements of the planets, but the ellipses did not answer all the questions. Newton tried to answer those questions, and was partially successful, but still there wasn't a complete answer, since the motions of the planets are so complicated. To this day, we are not sure how they move.

As for Einsteinian cosmology, that is a big subject. We are covering it in our book "Galileo Was Wrong" with help from my co-author Dr. Robert Bennett. You'll have to wait until then. It should be out sometime this year.
God be with you.


Question 28- Geocentrism

Dr. Sungenis,

I was thinking a few days ago about the issue of Heliocentrism, and I thought that it would be absurd to hold to the the Heliocentric model, since Neptune, although much smaller than the Sun, is very much closer to Pluto than the Sun. Why would Pluto not revolve around Neptune rather than the Sun? Is not Neptune's gravitational pull much stronger (relatively), since it is so much closer? I have only taken basic physicals in high school, so I am not nearly as learned as you in this matter. I thought the same could be said for Saturn and other large planets, that, although much smaller than the Sun, would have a much stronger pull of local objects since they are much closer to the objects than the Sun is. Is there any merit to this line of
thinking? Thank you.

God bless,
Matthew M

R. Sungenis: Matthew, in the Newtonian scheme of things, since the Sun is so much bigger (having about 99% of the mass), then the gravitational attraction from the planets would be negligible. However, there is enough gravity produced by the planets to cause perturbations in the orbits of all the planets. Thus, Mercury will be pulled on by Venus, Earth, Mars, etc, in order of the distance and the mass of the remaining planets. But the big question is how gravity works. No one knows. Newton only gave us an approximate mathematical formula to calculate its power, but he didn't explain how it worked.


Question 27- Geocentrism 2

Dr. Sungenis,

Is there an animated model of Geocentrism online that corresponds with what you are explaning on your website?

Thank you.

Matthew M

R. Sungenis: Matthew, yes. I forget the exact address, but go to, I believe, or just look up simsolar on your search engine. You can download the model, free of charge. You will be able to put the earth where the sun is, and this will be the Tychonic model proposed by Tycho Brahe in the 1600s.


Question 26- Is Baptism Necessary for Everyone to be Saved?

Dear Robert Sungenis

I have a few questions in regards to baptism and salvation? I read an ad for a book off a link from Gerry Matatics website called Catholic Treasures that seems to indicate that absolutely no-one who is not baptized can be saved! If this were true, why would millions of Catholics be invoking God's mercy for them! My question is, in your perception, is it wrong to pray and hope for unbaptized infants who have been aborted? I have seen many pro-life sites who seem to indicated that their souls are interceding before God, and they are with God in the beatific vision! Others, believe they are in limbo, some say possibly still interceding, some say they are not, either a happy or a neutral place, but not in heaven! Someone also told me that St. Augustine believes they are in hell! I have seen you defend the possibiliity of baptism of desire if a candidate is preparing for baptism as a catechuman. So baptism of desire does exist (I respect that you are cautious about the meaning of that)

Also, since many of the old testament saints were not baptized, and they were saved in anticipation of the redemption of Christ, obviously they are exceptions (e.g St. Noah, St. Elijah, and St. Abraham. Even the Blessed Mother's mom and dad St. Anne and St. Joachim would not have been baptized. We also don't know if St. Joseph was baptized, and Ithe baptism of John the Baptist was not the same as the Baptism of Jesus anyway! John the Baptist was the friend of the Bridegroom (is he going to be in heaven with the Church?) Now since Vatican II there is much speculation about the salvation of those who have not heard the gospel, and had they been aware they may have accepted it. Many are praying for the tsunami victims in Asia, many who were not baptized or preparing for baptism, does that mean hoping for that God might have mercy on them is entirely futile?

R. Sungenis: Our guiding rule is that Baptism is necessary for salvation. Anything over and above that, we must leave in the hands of God, and not speculate. We know that God is just, and He will do the perfect thing. I would not say that it is an impossibility for someone to attain heaven who did not receive water baptism, since all things are possible with God, but again, that is God's realm. He is the one doing the saving and damning, not us. Therefore we should strive to Baptize as many people as we can in obedience to Him, but then leave the destiny of the others to God's inscrutable will.


Question 25- Bertone Article

I read with interest your 1-19-05 article about Cardinal Bertone's contradictory statements concerning Fatima and the Third Secret.

Concerning the "filtering" of Sister Lucy's statements through her bishop or the Holy Father himself, I agree with your insight that it confirms suspicions that any so-called statements from the seer are not direct quotes and are therefore unreliable. But another thought struck me. The continuing need to filter her
statements and opinions suggests an ongoing fear from the Vatican that she may provide clues to the contents of the Third Secret.

If the Third Secret has been fully revealed, then there is little need to fear Sister Lucy's opinions or interpretations about it. Surely Catholics will accept Cardinal's Ratzinger's erudite commentary on the"third vision" as the official Church position on it. The continuing censorship of Sister Lucy can only mean that there is more to be revealed and she is the firsthand witness.

Regarding Mel Gibson's visit to the seer, it is tempting to indulge in the romantic notion that she might have whispered into his ear some hints about the true Third Secret. But I doubt anything like that could have happened, considering the handlers that always accompany her when outsiders come to visit.


Terry M

R. Sungenis: Terry, thanks for your comments. Let's hope that with the passing of Sister Lucia God's judgment will now come upon those who had sequestered her.


Question 24- The phrase "the body of Christ"

Hi, Robert,

In his book "The Problems with the New Mass," Doctor Rama P.
Coomaraswamy writes that the United States Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy says:

"The use of the phrase 'the body of Christ, Amen,' in the communion rite asserts in a very forceful way the presence and role of the whole community. The minister [sic] acknowledges who the person is by reason of baptism and confirmation and what the community is and does in the liturgical action . . . The change to the phrase 'the body of Christ,' rather than the longer formula which was previously said by the priest, has several repurcussions in the liturgical renewal. First, it seeks to highlight the important concept of community as the body of Christ, secondly, it brings into focus the assent of the individual in the worshipping community, and finally, it demonstrates the importance of Christ's presence in the liturgical celebration" (Qtd. in Coomaraswamy 58).

On the same page, Commaraswamy tells us that, " . . . the U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy strictly forbade priests to say, 'This is the Body of Christ!"

Before I became a traditionalist, I thought that each time I said 'amen" during Holy Communion, I was agreeing that I was receiving Our Blessed Lord body, blood, soul, and divinity. Now the bishops tell me I wasn't agreeing to that when I said "amen?" Why would they say such a thing?

I think the Novus Ordo is an anthropocentric Mass, where many
Protestants would feel at home. Sadly, The vague, ambiguous quotation seems to confirm my opinion.

Thanks so much.

God bless,

Coomaraswamy, Rama P. "The Problems with the New Mass." Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1990.

R. Sungenis: Bill, yes, Rama's analysis is very insightful. Still, however, since the Novus Ordo is a valid Mass, the body of Christ has been confected, and you are receiving his body, blood, soul and divinity, no matter what the "bishops" put in the introductory words. They will be condemned by God for their attempt to turn the Eucharist into a "community" body, but you will be blessed for receiving the true Eucharist.


Question 23- Marriage in the early Church

Mr. Sungenis,
I have a very close friend attending a well-known Novus Ordo college in the mid-west. They are taking a class on the sacrament of marriage. Recently the professor taught a few things in class that made me scratch my head. First of all, the students in this class have come away with the impression that St. Augustine’s main point when expounding on marriage is that it is a remedy for sin. This just doesn’t sound right to me. It sounds rather animalistic to me. Also, Sts. Jerome and Albert the Great thought marriage was “evil”. Are you familiar with any of this? One of the explanations given was that the early Church didn’t understand marriage as we do now.
God bless you,
Ethan M

R. Sungenis: Ethan, the comments from the Fathers are taken somewhat out of context. It is true, even as St. Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 7:9 that marriage can act as a remedy for someone who is lusting after his fiance, and that is where the Fathers have based their teaching. But those are only for cases in which the man is weak, and cannot control himself in any other way. If this man cannot control himself by spiritual strength (as St. Paul and the Fathers taught primarily), then he last resort is procuring a marriage sooner than he thought necessary.


Question 22- Crown of Life

I was talking to a friend about eternal security, and I brought up Revelations 2:10 "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil will cast some of you into prison that you may be tried: and you shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful until death: and I will give thee the crown of life." to show him that only the people who are faithful until death receive heaven (the crown of life).

My friend said that the crown of life simply refers to a reward one receives in heaven and has nothing to do with salvation, therefore Revelations 2:10 would not apply to eternal security as it doesn't deal with salvation. He quoted James 1:12 "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive a crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him..." to show me that James "clearly" showed the crown of life to be a reward in heaven, not heaven itself.

I think the "crown of life" is referring to heaven and not a reward, my friend does not believe that one can lose salvation and sees the crown of life as being a reward, so I am at a loss as to what to do.

Can you comment on this?
Also, am I right that the crown of life represents heaven?

R. Sungenis: Scott, yes, you are correct in assuming that the "crowns" refer to eternal life. The context of each passage where the "crowns" are mentioned refers to the attainment of heaven. The "crown" passages simply do not delineate anything specific regarding individual rewards for Christians. This does not mean, however, that certain saints will not receive a higher place in heaven. It only means that we should not be basing it on the "crown" passages. Scripture simply does not specify what the higher rewards will be in heaven.


Question 21- 3 things

I noticed a contradiction to Calvinism in the Epistle at Mass tonight, 1 Corinthians 8:11: "And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?" (KJV) Either limited atonement or the perseverance of the saints can't be true, according to this passage. If the weak brother is one of the elect, he isn't supposed to perish (context meakes it clear that this refers to spiritual, not physical death); if he isn't one of the elect, Christ wasn't supposed to die for him. The only counter arguent I can think of is that appolutai refers to something less severe than spiritual death, like falling under God's fatherly displeasure, but I don't think this argument holds water, since according to the crosswalk online Greek lexicon the word demands a stronger interpretation: to destroy, to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, ruin, render useless, to kill, to declare that one must be put to death, metaph. to devote or give over to eternal misery in hell, to perish, to be lost. Can you see any holes in my logic?

R. Sungenis: No, I think you logic is impeccable here.

Second, I've noticed that none of the defenders of the Assisi prayer gatherings justify them the same way the Pope does. They use involved deductive arguments based on the natural law requirment that men pray, unbelief by negation not being a sin, and invincible ignorance. Based on the Pope's Sept 8, 2004 letter to Cardinal Kasper (available online at ), his justification appears to be much simpler. "I was convinced of this in October 1986 in Assisi, when I asked people belonging to all religions to gather side by side to invoke God for peace." He appears to believe that everyone at Assisi was invoking God.

R. Sungenis: Yes, this has always been the problem with John Paul II's perspective. That John Paul II believes that a pagan can invoke God for mundane favors, on an equal basis with a Christian, is an unprecedented opinion in Christianity. In the end, however, either perspective is wrong, since they can both be disproven rather easily.

Third, I think it's a bit rash to say that it was selfish for the pagans at Assisi to pray for peace. It's possible to pray for peace for selfish reasons, but we can't know which or whether of the pagans at Assisi did so, since we can't see the heart.


R. Sungenis: Yes, but we do know that we cannot expect God to listen to the prayers of a pagan, unless we have taught that pagan to first pray to God for the forgiveness of his sins.


Question 20- Should women be in ANY positions of leadership?

Dear CAI,

I saw the following on a Catholic Website, I have cut and paste it, to get to the gist of the article as I know you are busy people. My question is whether you agree or disagree with it, as if this article is true, then I am shocked, as nearly all the parishes I have been to give women a prominent up front role in the church. If this article is true how should we respond as
prophets to the growing unbiblical practice of women having roles in the church that belong only to men:

Our society and culture teaches that men and women should have much the same roles in their lives. Modern secular culture treats men and women as if they were meant to be interchangeable parts in society. Men and women are given
nearly the same roles in our society today. There are even laws making it illegal to give certain jobs only to men. Women have become political leaders, religious leaders, heads of corporations and other organizations, even soldiers and law enforcement officers. Such is the teaching of our culture. But it is not the teaching of Christ.

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent." (1 Tim 2:11-12)

God did not give women a place, in the Church, the family, or society, to teach men or to have authority over men.

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches that God gives men and women different roles in the Church, the family, and society. Men are intended by God to be teachers and leaders in the Church, the family, and society. Women should not have any kind of teaching role over adult men. Women should not have any
kind of leadership role over adult men.

Women may teach and lead children, both boys and girls (even into the teenage years). God gave women the ability to become pregnant, to carry and give birth to children. In this way, God gave women also the primary role in teaching and leading children.

Women may teach and lead other women. An older and wiser woman may be a leader and teacher over other women, especially if they are younger or less knowledgeable than she. But it is not right for a young woman to take a role teaching or leading much older women, (unless those older women are

The teaching that men and women are meant to have different roles clearly indicates that changes are needed in our society today.

Women should not be political leaders. In politics, a woman should not be President or Vice President or Senator or Representative or Governor or a State legislator. A woman have any elected or appointed political position with authority over men, because it is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. A woman should not be Judge in any court of law, because courts
have authority over men.

In general, women should not be law enforcement officers, though some exceptions to this rule can be made when a female is specifically needed for certain tasks (e.g. undercover law enforcement work or work involving women prisoners or involving children). Women should not be soldiers. Women should
never be military officers with authority over male soldiers; this is an abomination in God's eyes.

"Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior." (Ephesians 5:22)

Women should not be Lectors at holy Mass. Women should not read the Scriptures aloud to the faithful at Mass. Women should not distribute holy Communion at Mass. Women should not speak at the time of the homily, not even to describe some worthy work of mercy in which they are involved. It is shameful in God's eyes for a woman to have any such role of leadership or
teaching at holy Mass and at any time in the Sanctuary.

Moreover, women should not be in charge of leading or administering a parish, even one which lacks a pastor. Women should not be on the parish council, for this is a leadership role which assists the pastor, much as the Twelve Apostles assisted Christ.

In some parishes, a woman (often a nun) leads a Communion service instead of daily Mass. She convinces the pastor that he is too old or too tired or too busy to say daily Mass every day. God is greatly offended when the holy Mass, led by a priest, is replaced by a Communion service, led by a woman. A
woman should never be allowed to lead a Communion service, not even in a community of religious women.

Yours thoughts are greatly appreciated,


R. Sungenis: Dave, there is not much we could argue against in that essay. According to Scripture and Tradition, Christian women are not to be in positions of leadership in the Church and family, and as a consequence, no Christian women should be seeking leadership in government.


Question 19- Sungenis vs Matatics

Mr. Sungenis,

With regard to your debate with Gerry Matatics, isn't he concerned that this debate/publicity is going to pretty much destroy his speaking career? Once the Novus Ordo parishes get wind of this, his days of being invited to those parishes are over. I know of at least a handful of parishes that offer both the Novus Ordo as well as the Traditional Latin Mass that have had Gerry speak in the past. If he goes forward with this I can almost guarantee that he'll never be asked to come back.

I am genuinely concerned as I think that Mr. Matatics is a phenomenal apologist that has done a tremendous amount of good for the Church.

Pax Christi in Regno Christi,
Rick O

R. Sungenis: Rick, I think the convictions of Mr. Matatics go much deeper than him having to speculate on whether the debate will enhance or retard his career as an apologist, and I'm happy for that, since if it were otherwise, I would refuse to debate him.


Question 18- The Death Penalty

Mr. Sungenis,
How are we to understand the Church's current teaching on the death penalty as found in the most recent Catholic Catechism? Many Catholics that I know no longer believe that the state has the authority to execute criminals, and they cite the Pope as support for their position. Is the Catechism citing a personal opinion of the Pope, or a "development of doctrine"? Can you help clear up this confusion? God bless you and your organization.

R. Sungenis: Andrew, the traditional teaching of the Church is clear that capital punishment is allowed and is the preferred punishment for capital crimes, unless there are some mitigating factors. Of all the Fathers, theologians, doctors and popes, John Paul II seems to have a different opinion, preferring to hold that capital punishment is a last resort, if not totally inappropriate, and that there are numerous mitigating factors (e.g., no chance for repentance if the criminal is killed; support for the "culture of death" in abortion and euthanasia). But until if and when he decides to make a formal and binding teaching of his opinions, then Catholics are not bound to his views on capital punishment, and we are obliged to remain with the consensus of traditional teaching. Unfortunately, the Catechism is not definitive on the issue either, and that is probably because it is caught in the middle between tradition and John Paul II.


Question 17- Eating candy is not a sin

Thank you for everything. For you, that includes a lot. I just have a couple questions.

1) De Defectibus says: "HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM, and HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI, NOVI ET AETERNI ESTAMENTI: MYSTERIUM FIDEI: QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM If the priest were to shorten or change the form of the consecration of the Body and the Blood, so that in the change of wording the words did not mean the same thing, he would not be achieving a valid Sacrament. If, on the other hand, he were to add or take away anything which did not change the meaning, the Sacrament would be valid, but he would be committing a grave sin."

It seems to me that this meets all the criteria for being an infallible pronouncement; so, then, does the priest commit a grave sin in using the Novus Ordo words of consecration? Or for that matter, anything not in Latin?

R. Sungenis: No, Latin is not required to confect a consecration. As long as the words stated in the Gospels are said (e.g., This is my body...This is my blood), the Eucharist has been confected.

2) Similar to attempting to enjoy sexuality while blocking the purpose of procreation, would trying to enjoy food (e.g., "envisioning and tasting in the mind") while blocking the purpose of giving the body sustenance be a sin?

R. Sungenis: Not necessarily. Eating candy is not a sin, but it hardly gives the body any substantive nourishment. We eat it almost entirely for the enjoyment of tasting it. As with anything with which we have freedom, however, there is always a chance that it could develop into sin. Thus, for example, if we find ourselves eating to "taste the food" just a little too much and in the process become glutonous, that is when it becomes sin.


Question 16- Justification and Salvation, Part II

Dr. Sungenis,

I was reading in Vatican I today something that seems to at least imply that there is a possible difference between justification and salvation:

"Moreover, although the assent of faith is by no means a blind movement of the intellect, nevertheless, no one can 'assent to the preaching of the gospel' as he must to attain salvation, 'without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, who gives to all a sweetness in consenting to and believing in the truth.' ... Since without faith it is impossible to please God, no one is justified without it, nor will anyone attain eternal life unless he perseveres to the end in it. Moreover, in order that we may satisfactorily perform the duty of embracing the true faith and of continuously persevering in it, God, through His only-begotten Son, has instituted the Church, and provided it with clear signs of His institution, so that it can be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word. ... The
first condition of salvation is to keep the rule of the right faith."

It seems that if justification and salvation were the same thing, it would only be necessary to say: "Since without faith it is impossible to please God, not one is justified without it (OR no one is saved without it)." If they are merely synonyms, then why would the Holy Council say: "Since without faith it is impossible to please God, no one is justified without it, NOR will anyone attain eternal life unless he perseveres to the end in it," as if is not simply repeating the exact same thing? Thank you for your time.
God bless.

In Christo Rege et Maria Regina,

R. Sungenis: Matthew, first of all, in order for someone to claim that there is an intrinsic and inseparable difference between justification and eternal life; a distinction with such a force of demarcation that it could be applied to the individual baptized in this sentence:

"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," so that it could be concluded, as the MICM followers claim, that in being baptized by "desire" he is merely justified, not saved nor able to inherit eternal life, then there would have to be some dogmatic statement from the Church to that effect. Vatican I's language doesn't even come close to that necessity.

Second, you need to understand what a radical interpretation the MICM view is before you see the gravity of this issue. They are claiming something that no one in all of history has claimed. And the reason no one has claimed it is because it is an artificial distinction. The only reason MICM followers want to employ it is because they don't want to accept that "baptism of desire" can do the same thing as water baptism, and thus they must come up with some way to support that belief over against the strong language of Trent to the contrary. Presto. Justification is now something separate from salvation.
Moreover, and most importantly, they box themselves into a corner by such an interpretation, since the manufactured distinction between justification and salvation that they apply to "baptism of desire" must also be applied to "baptism by the laver" since they are both in the same sentence. As a result, they would be forced to conclude that "baptism by the laver" can only provide justification, not salvation, and they defeat the whole purpose of their initial argument.

Third, the reason that Vatican I would speak in terms of "justification" and "eternal life" is because sometimes justification is understood as the initial stage of salvation whereas eternal life is often understood as the final stage. Scripture does the same thing. But the Church and Scripture also interchange the terms, sometimes speaking of justification occurring in stages (initial, progressive and final), and sometimes they will speak of eternal life as something possessed now, but also in the future. At one point, for example, Trent, Ses 22, Ch 7 says: "The causes of this justification are: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Christ and life eternal," showing us that eternal life is a cause of justification. How can that be? Well, it can only be such if there is a final justification in view, as opposed to an initial justification (which we receive at baptism). It is no surprise that Scripture also speaks of a final justification (Mt 12:37; Rm 2:13), but also speaks of justification preceding salvation (Rm 5:9-10). It can do this because the terms are fluid, not static. It is only when Scripture or the Church wishes to focus on technical truths will it then confine its language to "justification," as St. Paul does in Romans 2-6.


Question 15- The death of sedevacantism


I concluded my studies last night with a Rosary, and the light at the end of the tunnel finally came to me. VCII, when seen through the "eyes of Tradition," presents no real problem to the faithful Catholic. In today's apostasy, sedevacantism has done nothing but added to the problem and all the confusion around us. Sedevacantists simply overreact to the modernism that has poisoned much of the Church and conclude that a new Church has formed with its own antipope. It is unfortunate. I am meeting with the sedevacantist priest this Tuesday to tell him of what I have learned and that I will no longer be attending his chapel. I know your prayers, and my dad's prayers, have aided me in this journey. And also the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, whom I have been praying to every night. Your email
dialogue with Mario also greatly benefited me. There is one line you said that stuck with me and helped me out a lot... you told Mario, "You think you are the judge. You are not. This is why we are Catholics -- because we have a magisterium, under canon law, that decides these things for us. You are playing with fire, Mario. Objections are one thing; taking the law into your own hands is quite another."

Please keep praying for me and my wife; she is not taking this well.

God bless,

R. Sungenis: So glad to hear this, Joe! You've been through the ring of fire. There's no place but up from here. God will use you. He has seen your obedience. Congratulations.


Question 14- The Heroic Act

Simon: I hazard a guess that you also know what the "Heroic Act" is, right?

M. Forrest: Yes, Pope Benedict XIII was the first to officially recognize/approve it (1728). Pope Leo XIII wrote the following about the Heroic Act (1885):

The Heroic Act of Charity in favour of the souls detained in purgatory consists in this, that a member of the Church militant (Christifidelis), either using a set formula or simply by an act of his will, offers to God for the souls in purgatory all the satisfactory works which he will perform during his lifetime, and also all the suffrages which may accrue to him after his death. Many Christians devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, acting on the advice of the Theatine Regular Cleric Father Gaspar Olider, of blessed memory, make it a practice to deposit the said merits and suffrages as it were into the hands of the Blessed Virgin that she may distribute these favours to the souls in Purgatory according to her own merciful pleasure.

Simon: Well, assume someone has made the Heroic Act, and also made it irrevocable, then does such a person still receive / have a right to the plenary indulgence granted by virtue of being properly disposed when receiving the Apostolic Blessing?

M Forrest: I understand your question, Simon. I think the best way to resolve this is to transcend it. The problem you pose appears to be impossible to resolve based solely on the terms themselves. However, we must always keep things within their ultimate context. God is both perfect justice and perfect mercy. Perhaps the story of St. Gertrude the Great will help. St. Gertrude (the saint who received the prayer to release 1000 souls from Purgatory) made the "Heroic Act". Apparently, the Devil tortured her on her deathbed with doubts about her eternal fate because she had so voluntarily given up any merits/indulgences she had. It was at this point that Christ consoled her, saying,

"Be assured, My daughter, your charity towards the departed will be no detriment to you. Know that the generous donation you have made of all your works to the holy souls has been singularly pleasing to Me; and to give you a proof thereof, I declare to you that all the pains you would have had to endure in the other life are now remitted; moreover, in recompense for your generous charity, I will so enhance the value of the merits of your works as to give you a great increase of glory in Heaven."

I think we need to be careful not to reduce God to a bureaucratic technician. That is always a danger with these kinds of things. Certainly there are rules and principles that must be taken seriously, but we should not elevate them to the extent that they conflict with God's nature.

Simon: Also, what exactly did you mean by "properly disposed"? Did you mean the usual requirements for a Plenary indulgence must be in place?>>

M Forrest: Yes. As is true even in the case of the Holy Eucharist, its efficacy is dependent upon our the level of our ability/willingness to receive it.

Simon: Does the person even have to be conscious? >>

M Forrest: No.

Simon: Free from attachment to venial sin? >>

M Forrest: If you are asking, MUST it be determined that a person is free of attachment to venial sin before receiving the Apostolic Pardon, the answer is no. If you are inquiring about the conditions necessary to maximize the effectiveness of the A.P., then yes, just as with other indulgences, the actual effects upon a particular person will be mitigated by such factors.

Simon: Say a prayer for the Pope, confess, do some work or say some prayer?>>

M Forrest: If you are asking whether any of the above are requirements, then the answer is no.

Simon: Is this blessing / pardon in addition to extreme unction and anointing?

God bless,
Michael Forrest


Question 13- Question on the Church fathers and the Eucharist

To Bob Sungenis:

Hi, Bob. I don't know if you've ever heard of me. My name is Paul Kengor. I'm a professor of political science at Grove City College. I've written some books that have done well and done a lot of other writing and media; this has all spread my name a little bit. Two books I recently wrote are "God and Ronald Reagan" and "God and George W. Bush."

I'm in the process of converting to Catholicism, though I haven't made a final decision yet. I'm currently taking RCIA classes. My conversion will probably hit GCC like a nuclear bomb, given the very strong evangelical flavor of the campus and anti-Catholicism among many people. A mutual friend of ours, Scott Hahn, himself a GCC grad, can attest to this. (I'm CCing Scott Hahn, since I'm not sure if you'll get this email and in the hope that he might be able to help me as well.)

I should add that I've very much benefited from your outstanding work.

Anyway, I'm writing because of something I read on your website last night, specifically the debate/”dialogue” over the Eucharist with the Former Catholics For Christ people. (I've focused in particular on the Eucharist, which is drawing me to the Church more than any other issue. As a scholar myself, albeit not a religion scholar, I realize that one can spend a lifetime studying a single issue.) Throughout your debate with FCFC, I was shocked at the awful and, frankly, idiotic, arguments made by the FCFC people. I was really appalled. As usual, this only reinforced my belief in the Real Presence. I’m always amazed at the weakness of the arguments advanced by the other side.

That said, I was quite chagrined when I got to FCFC's closing statement and only then found a very good point, one that you didn't answer, apparently because you had already submitted your closing statement. This frustrated me. Specifically, FCFC listed a number of quotes from early Church fathers purportedly showing that these fathers rejected Real Presence, believing that Jesus intended the bread and wine as purely symbolic. Some of these quotes are taken from a book by William Webster, titled, "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History," which was given to me by my Calvinist pastor who is working hard to try to keep me from converting. Here is the FCFC closing statement, with the quotes:

FCFC Debate Closeing Statement Link

If you don't mind, I'd like to get your response to these quotes. You might want to keep your response (I'm assuming you'll be able to answer the quotes with no problem, as you typically do) and post it on your website.

I should note that when I carefully read Webster's appendix of quotes, which purports to list a number of Church fathers who rejected Real Presence, it is clear that the vast majority of quotes he cites do not at all reject Real Presence. That said, a few of them, namely Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and others (pp. 119-21 and 192), do seem to reject Real Presence. This would at least SEEM to contradict the claim by Catholics that there was virtual unanimity among early Church fathers over Real Presence. (By the way, I've noticed the Protestant trick of trying to claim that the fact that transubstantiation was not defined until 1215 means that the Real Presence didn't became a Church teaching until 1215. I've also noticed how they get hung up on the fact that we can't explain the science or the way in which transubstantiation occurs, as if that's a good reason to reject the Eucharist. One could use the same logic to reject the Virgin Birth, miracles, the Trinity, and even the Resurrection. In fact, one could use that logic to reject the entire Bible and Christ Himself.)

Importantly, I should note that even if there was NOT unanimity among the Church fathers on Real Presence, I can accept that. These men were mere humans. I never expected unanimity. Nonetheless, I’ve read statements from Catholics saying there was complete unanimity.

You may have already prepared a response to the FCFC closing statement, and to Webster for that matter.

Thanks so much for your time. I know you get many requests, but this is important to me.


Paul K

R. Sungenis: Paul, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Regarding the FCFC debate and William Webster, since then I have written a book on the Eucharist, and at least half is devoted to the Fathers. I also focus on the arguments of William Webster, James White, Eric Svendsen, James McCarthy and other current Protestant apologists. I also answer the arguments from Calvin, Luther, et al. The book is 450 pages long, so I think you will find it a formidable weapon against Webster and company.
The title is Not By Bread Alone: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for the Eucharistic Sacrifice. You can purchase a signed copy from us at CAI, or you can go through Amazon or Barnes and Noble if you wish.
Let me know.

Robert Sungenis


Question 12- Council of Hippo

Is there a list of the bishops who were at this council or the council of Carthage? The councils that determined the books of the Bible.

Is there an article that shows Martin Luther (in his words) that he took seven books out of the bible?

R. Sungenis: The list of bishops at Carthage will be partially contained in the Eerdmans set on the Fathers, "The Seven Ecumenical Councils."
As for Luther, I believe Belloc mentions it in "The Characters of the Reformation." If not, there are many other biographies of Luther that will have it. Check Appendix #1 in my book Not By Faith Alone for a list of biographies on Luther.


Question 11- Question on Council of Florence and Form

Dear Robert,
I have tremendous respect for you and have learned a lot from your website. Your “Response to James White’s Comments on Jesus, Peter and the Keys” is fantastic. I have the CASB and am currently saving up to buy the “Not By” books.

However, I have questions about an issue that has been discussed. I don’t think I am rehashing this issue, but bringing a new dimension which I am sure you are going to hear in your debate with Mr. Matatics.

The council of Florence dogmatically defined the matter and form of the sacraments. In the dogmatic degree on the Holy Eucharist it stated that the form is the words of Jesus at the Last Supper. (Sorry, I don’t have the exact wording handy) In a footnote it gave the familiar latin consecration formula used in the Tridentine Mass.

My first thought was why not have the consecration formula in the actual decree? Then I remembered that the Eastern Rite Catholics use a slightly abbreviated or different formula. However both the Tridentine and Eastern rites use the words of our Lord and so observe the dogmatic teaching of the Church.

The Novus Ordo Mass approved by Pope Paul VI was a latin language version that contained the Roman Canon (with supposedly no change from the Tridentine Mass) and three alternate canons. All four canons had the Tridentine consecration formula.

When the Novus Order Mass was translated into english, the consecration formula was mistranslated. I don’t know why. Because EVERY missal prior to the 1970’s had no trouble properly translating “pro multis” into “for many”, it seems unlikely that this mistranslation would be an accident. But there is no purpose to speculating on the intentions of the translators.

On a purely objective basis, the english Novus Ordo consecration formula does not fit the DOGMATIC decree of Florence. Jesus never said “for all men so that sins may be forgiven”. I’m sure Mr. Matitics will make this case in your debate, as he has stated publically on the internet that he does not go to the Novus Ordo Mass any more because it contains a “lie” at the time of consecration.

I don’t believe we need to wait for a decision by the Holy Father on this. The Pope can’t go against a defined dogma. If a priest started saying “abracadabra” for a consecration formula or started using beer and twinkies for the matter, you would have no trouble declaring such a Mass as invalid. We would not have to wait for a decision by the Pope. It is only a matter of degree between “abracadabra” and “all men”.
Your thoughts?

R. Sungenis: Remember to include your name when you submit a question, otherwise I cannot answer it. Nevertheless, regarding this matter of "all" and "many," I've answered it on previous QA questions submitted to CAI. Perhaps you might want to check previous months. They are available on our QA board.


Question 10- What does it literally mean that God will create a new heaven and earth?

a) Will the earth be destroyed in the second coming?
R. Sungenis: Yes, 2 Peter 3:10-12 says that the whole universe will be destroyed and recreated, a New Heaven and New Earth.

b) If Adam hadn't sinned would heaven in that sense be a place on earth?

R. Sungenis: No, heaven is where the angels and God reside as spirits.
c) What does it mean that God will create a new heaven and earth?

R. Sungenis: It means that this heaven and earth will be destroyed and God will recreate a New Heaven and New Earth, “and the former will not come into mind nor be remembered.” (Isaiah 65:17).


Question 9- Evolution

I spent my first 24 years as a Catholic and the next 24 years as a Protestant but now find myself reexamining Catholicism. It is unclear to me as to what is the Catholic church's official position on evolution or the age of the earth. Can you tell me where I can find this information? Not opinions but actual doctrinal statements. Thank you,

Mary H

R. Sungenis: Mary, Lateran Council IV and Vatican Council I assure us that all things, 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.'"


Question 8- Anger as a sin, Part III

Robert, Thanks again for your answers it does give me more insight. Regarding the 3 yr old child: Aren't they too young to do anything sinful? And do they even have the intellect to understand what sin is? Isn't the emotion of anger a natural response to something you are not happy with and the possible sin is in how you respond? So wouldn't it be wrong to tell them that they should not be angry but rather, deal with their response to their anger? I'm not saying that anger is always okay, it should be subordinate the intellect and will right? Amy

R. Sungenis: Amy, children sin but before the age of reason they are not responsible for their sin. That is the only difference. When they do bad things, we should tell them they are bad so that by the time they reach the age of reason (app. 7 years of age) they will have a formed conscience and know, very well, the difference between right and wrong.


Question 7- Was the Mass Invented in 1054?

Dear Mr. Sungenis: Thank you for answering my question. I wondered, if you have the time, could you respond to another question? After reading David Currie's book, Born fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic I asked my pastor to respond to the chapter that dealt with the Eucharist being Jesus's flesh and blood. It pointed out that early writings favored the Catholic position on communion. He responded with the following. Is this true that the Catholic church itself did not create the Mass until 1054? Thank you, Mary H

R. Sungenis: Mrs. H, that is absolutely false. The early fathers had at least three mass liturgies and they had over 10 Greek words and 5 Latin words to describe the changing of the bread into the body of Christ. The only event after that was the dogmatization of the change by the word "transubstantiation" at the Lateran Council in 1215. If you want much more on this, I suggest you purchase my book, Not By Bread Alone. You can purchase a signed copy from us, or you can buy it through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I have all the gory details in the book.


Question 6- Papal authority

You: or call him to a trial and prove in a canonical court of law that he is indeed an illegitimate pope. If they determine so canonically, then if that antipope refuses to step down, they can thus ignore him and proceed to elect another pope in his place who will then use his authority run the Church and banish the illegitimate pope.

Me: Please read <> if that link doesn’t work the article is intitled simply “The Pope” on the Catholic Encyclopedia. In that article you will read that the Pope is the supreme ruler of the Church and he is protected by none other than Our Lord Himself from teaching heresy. He said that he would be with us until the end of the world. There is no authority above the Pope the college of cardinals cannot depose the Pope.

R. Sungenis: I didn't say the college of Cardinals can depose the pope. I said they can bring him to trial, convict him of heresy, and then elect another pope, and let the next pope do the deposing. As for the New Advent article, I don't know exactly what you wanted me to see, but the article says nothing about the parameters and conditions of infallibility, but only speaks of jurisdiction, which has nothing to do with heresy.

The Church has already had precedent of various popes saying things that are in error or doing things that are immoral. This is precisely why Vatican I said that the pope is only protected by Christ from error when he speaks ex cathedra, since Vatican I had to face the unmitigated fact that many previous popes were in error on various things.

If error is heresy, then the pope could utter a heresy when he is not speaking ex cathedra, and those occasions are quite rare. In every other thing the pope says, he is subject to error (NB: this does not mean that he is in error, but only that he is subject to error, being merely a human being). To deny this is to say that the pope has no free will, but is merely an automaton of heaven, but that is certainly not the case.

The only way out of this is to try to prove that error is not heretical, but I don't think anyone will be able to do that.

Hence, the question is: is the heresy/error a "manifest" one, and does the person insists on perpetuating this error even after admonishment? If so, then he not only uttered a heresy, he is now a canonical heretic, and steps need to be taken to deal with that.

A good case in point of a pope in error but who recanted is John XXII, who taught an error on whether the saints saw the beatific vision. Fortunately, after the admonishment of his cardinals, he recanted that error, and thus was saved being condemned by subsequent popes (as Honorius was condemned by subsequent popes).


Question 5- Did he literally take our sicknesses?

When you say that Jesus took our infirmities on the cross, do you mean he became an offering for them or literally took them (in same sense that we reject as Catholics that Jesus literally became sin, but rather became a sin offering)?


R. Sungenis: We mean that he became an offering for the infirmities so that God would have mercy and alleviate them. The idea of "offering" or "sacrifice" is the connotation of the Greek word anapheroo used in the verse in question.


Question 4- Transitional fossils

I was having a conversation concerning evolution and I commented that there are no transitional fossils. I was directed to the Talk Origins web site where they have a FAQ page on transitional forms. I have listed the contents:

Types of transitions
Why are there gaps?
Predictions of creationism & evolution
What's in this FAQ
Transitions from primitive fish to sharks, skates, rays
Transitions from primitive fish to bony fish
Transition from fishes to first amphibians
Transitions among amphibians
Transition from amphibians to first reptiles
Transitions among reptiles
Transition from reptiles to first mammals (long)
Transition from reptiles to first birds
PART 2 has transitions among mammals (starting with primates), including numerous species-to-species transitions, discussion, and references. If you're particularly interested in humans, skip to the primate section of part 2, and also look up the fossil hominid FAQ. Not being a biologist I would appreciate your comments.

R. Sungenis: Walt, I've seen that page before. It's been up there for several years. I was in the process of writing a rebuttal to it, but shelved it for other projects more pressing. There's one problem with the claims of the website: they are all theoretical. There is no physical evidence for species-to-species progression. The leading evolutionists, Gould and Eldredge, admitted that years ago, and no one else has provided any evidence to reverse that admission.


Question 3- Condoms and fornication

Dear Robert/Mr. Forrest,

I have been in discussions with someone lately, who claims that condom use could be licit amongst unmarried couples to stop AIDS, or that it would be licit for homosexuals. While still claiming they are not right, he is saying that because fornication and homosexuality are not marital acts as such (because they are not married, and gays can't be married), they do not fall under the Church prohibition and condemnation, and therefore can be used to stop AIDS. Is there any merit to this argument?

God bless,

Johnathon S

R. Sungenis: Johnathon, the above is the world's way of dealing with these kinds of societal problems, because the world has few moral absolutes with which to direct its citizens. Christianity, on the other hand, never lowers itself to the least common denominator, or allows one sin in order to stop another.


Question 2- Pill and condom question

Mr. Sungenis,
I teach religion to high schoolers and the girls have asked me a tough question. They want to know if using the pill for medical reasons is okay (so long as they are not using it for the purpose of preventing conception). They also want to know if using a condom is okay if used to prevent the spread of Aids from one marriage partner to another. Thanks for your time,

R. Sungenis: John, the answer to the first is no, since "the pill" has few, if any, medical benefits that are not available with other drugs or herbs. Moreover, "the pill" causes hormonal imbalances that may have lasting effects upon a women's body and thus impede future pregnancies or give increased risk for birth defects, let alone the potentiality for "the pill" being a carcinogen. Moreover, it is too tempting for women to rationalize their use of "the pill" by claiming that it is for "medical reasons."

As to the issue of condoms, there is no time that a condom is to be used by a anyone. Nobody should be having sexual intercourse outside marriage, in the first place, and married couples who have regular intercourse must be open at all times to conception, and thus condoms are taboo. Married couples with AIDS shouldn't be engaging in sexual relations, and certainly those with AIDS outside of marriage shouldn't even be thinking about sexual relations.


Question 1- Canon 188.4, Part II

R. Sungenis: First of all, Canon 188.4 of the 1917 Code is no longer in force, since that code has been superceded by the 1983 code.

Mario: Bob, we're speaking about 1978 when Wojtyla was supposedly elected to the Papacy. The 1917 Code was very much in force then. Besides, I would think that as Cum Ex Apostolatus indicates, the loss of office of a Catholic cleric who is publicly and notoriously guilty of defection from the Faith is a matter of divine law. But no need to argue this point. We're talking about 1978, not 2005.
R. Sungenis: Yes, but we are talking about your attempt to depose a pope based on what you think is heresy in 2005. If we were only talking about John Paul's election, then, of course, we would also have to consider Paul VI's "The Election of the Roman Pontiff" in 1975 which modified some of the strictures of both the 1917 code and Cum Ex Apostolatos Officio.
R.S.: Second, even if canon 188.4 were in force, the clause "publicly defects from the Catholic faith" is not defined

Mario: You're being silly! The word "Catholic" isn't defined either, not throughout the whole Code probably! The words "the" and "tacit" and "resignation" and "is" etc. all aren't defined! Bob, you are really grasping for straws now. Canon 188.4 flatly and completely refutes your position, and you're not willing to concede it.
R. Sungenis: Mario, in a court of law, only technical and operative words that have more than one meaning and application need to be defined. You are the one grasping for straws.

Mario: Obviously, heresy and apostasy qualify for "defection from the Faith," wouldn't you think? We don't have to be any stricter than that, but obviously heresy and apostasy qualify.

R. Sungenis2: You're begging the question. If heresy, without qualification, is a "defection from the Faith," then I would say YOU have defected from the faith, because you hold a heretical view of the papacy. Two can play that game, Mario. In fact, there are several times I could have accused you of "defecting from the faith" by your saying erroneous things about the faith. But I don't do that. Why? Because the so-called defection would have to be persistent and unrepentant with full cognizance of what you are saying, and all those qualifications would have to be judged by a competent authority for me to even consider that they had any validity for judgment against you. This protocol protects us from all the kooks and vigilantes.

Mario: But you still haven't told me what the REAL interpretation of Canon 188.4 is. I will not let this slip! You have told me my interpretation is wrong; now you tell me what the real interpretation is. The whole POINT of Canon 188.4 is TACIT resignation WITHOUT ANY DECLARATION. That is there to protect the Church. Imagine if somewhere in the jungle a bishop started preaching Voodooism....I suppose the poor faithful would have to wait till Rome finds out about it and declares him a non-Catholic? This is silly!

R. Sungenis2: If John Paul II had said something like: "I reject the Catholic faith," that, of course, would make it a lot easier for us to accuse him, but even then, this statement would have to be adjudicated by the proper authorities to see if it was not merely an inadvertent sin as opposed to being a persistent, deliberate and unrepentant belief of his. If the latter was determined, then, yes, ipso facto, he would lose his office, and the college would go about electing another pope. They would need no "declaration" to do so, since the loss of office is automatic, legally speaking.

But the crucial distinction you are missing is that they would not need a "declaration" only if they have legally determined beforehand that the "defection from the faith" was a real defection (e.g., persistent, deliberate, unrepentant, etc). That is done in a canonical court of law, not in the public thoroughfare as you are doing.

R.S.: Unfortunately, you seem to think that if the pope says something wrong doctrinally in public, then he loses his office, but you simply have no proof for that assertion.

Mario: No, I said "publicly defects from the Catholic Faith." John XXII wasn't in heresy, he was not denying dogma. And, well, Pope Honorius is another can of worms, quite a difficult matter in which we seem to have contradictory positions (e.g. the condemnation by the council but then Pope Leo II "moderating" that condemnation). Besides, it is very questionable whether the letter to Sergius qualifies as "public."

R. Sungenis2: Sounds like there are a lot of "questions" still remaining to be answered for you in order to determine whether John Paul II has "defected" from the faith. Don't you think you should leave this in more competent hands?

Mario: But I'm not arguing JPII *lost* his office. I'm saying he never obtained it.

R. Sungenis2: Same difference. Both are based on the fact that you think he "defected from the faith." You have what you think is evidence to support this belief, but in a canonical court of law your "evidence" is just as good as the evidence of the defense attorney who opposes you, at least until the judge and jury decides which evidence is valid.