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June 2005

Q & A June 2005

Question 55 - Who is Catholic?

Question 54 - Does one need to be Catholic?

Question 53 - 1 Tim 4:1-3

Question 52 - No Salvation Outside the Church

Question 51 - Infallibility and Response to Fr. Harrison

Question 50 - Do you allow your wife to vote?

Question 49 - Born Again Evangelical asks about Catholicism

Question 48 - Brephos

Question 47 - Article premission

Question 46 - Site recomendation

Question 45 - Baptism of Desire, No Salvation Outside the Church, Novus Ordo

Question 44 - Obedience and Professionalism, Part 2

Question 43 - Covenant with the Jews, Part 2

Question 42 - The Existence of God

Question 41 - Capital Punishment, Part 2

Question 40 - Ordinations and the New Mass

Question 39 - SSPX Masses

Question 38 - Molinism

Question 37 - I hope your debate with Gerry Matatics never happens

Question 36 - Why do Eastern Catholics have no say in who is Pope?

Question 35 - Question 60- Baptism of Desire St Emerentiana Revisited, Part 4

Question 34 - Church of The Saved an invisible church found among all the many denominations

Question 33 - Catholics Eat Blood at the Eucharist

Question 32 - Question 60- Baptism of Desire St Emerentiana Revisited Part 2

Question 31 - James White

Question 30 - Good Job against White

Question 29 - Responding to modern Catholics, Part 3

Question 28 - De Marco's plan for peace in the Middle East

Question 27 - The Sabbath changed to Sunday, Part 3

Question 26 - The Noble Bereans

Question 25 - Responding to modern Catholics, Part 2

Question 24 - Apocalypse and recapitulation theory

Question 23 - The Sabbath changed to Sunday, Part 2

Question 22 - Head Coverings for women

Question 21 - Essay on Contraception

Question 20 - The March of Dimes

Question 19 - Media misrepresents Catholic position on birth control

Question 18 - Mass Attendance and Dave Armstrong

Question 17 - Responding to modern Catholics

Question 16 - The Sabbath changed to Sunday

Question 15 - Indefectibility versus Cardinal Ratzinger

Question 14 - On Question 60- Baptism of Desire St Emerentiana Revisited

Question 13 - Is Baptism Necessary for Everyone to be Saved?

Question 12 - Mass in the Vernacular

Question 11 - Biblical Exegesis

Question 10 - Romans 5:12

Question 9 - What do you think about the "little blue Pieta prayer book"?

Question 8 - 1 Thess 4:13

Question 7 - Temple Gaurd

Question 6 - Altar Girls

Question 5 - Catholic University and Does God love those in Hell

Question 4 - Time and Eternity

Question 3 - Trent Baptism of Desire and "Or"

Question 2 - Thanks!

Question 1 - Pope Benedict XVI

Question 55Who is Catholic?

I am constantly aware of people who call themselves Catholic and deny the teachings of the Church. When is a person who calls themself a Catholic not a Catholic? Is it uncharitable to tell them they cannot be a Catholic when they publicly reject Church teachings.(Doctrine and Dogma)

Is there some referenced literature I can go to? Thank you for the great contribution you are making to Holy Mother Church.
Art R

B. Douglass: Canon law states what Catholics are required to believe, in Canons 750-754 ( ). Anyone who meets Canon 751's definition of heresy has no right to call himself a Catholic. And telling such a person that this is the case, far from being uncharitable, is a spiritual work of mercy. Other references include the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 2088-89, the Athanasian Creed, the Roman Catechism, in the introduction to the Creed on "Necessity of Faith", any dogmatic definition which ends with the words "anathema sit", and countless others.


Question 54Does one need to be Catholic?

I see that on your Q&A board you told someone that the
Catholic church doctrine teaches that you must be a member
of the church and submit to the pontiff in order to receive
salvation. You also claim that Catholics believe and follow
everything in the bible, however the Bible says that the
only way to the Father is through the Son, not the pope. It
also says that if one confesses with his mouth and believes
in his heart that Jesus died on the Christ for our sins and
rose again, then he is saved. So how in the world do you
justify this idea that was previously mentioned. I would
appreciate it if you would write me back personally rather
than posting to the website because I am not a Catholic and
I will not be visiting the site again.
Brittany K

B. Douglass: Brittany,
The Catholic Church does not teach that the Pope is a savior in any way on par with Christ. The reason she teaches that it is necessary for salvation to submit to the Pope is because Christ has appointed him as his representative, or ambassador on earth, and according to Christ, rejecting one of His representatives is tantamount to rejecting Him (Matt 18:17; Luke 10:16; John 20:23b).

Keep Matthew 7:21 in mind when reading Romans 10:9. To believe in one's heart that Jesus is Lord implies belief in His teachings in their totality, and obedience to His law, not simply intellectual assent to the proposition of His deity. And His law requires that all join the Catholic Church.
God bless,
Ben Douglass


Question 531 Tim 4:1-3

What is the catholic understanding of 1 Tim 4:1-3 concerning celibacy?

B. Douglass: The Catholic Church understands this prophecy as referring to heretics such as the Marcionites/Manicheans, who would teach that marriage was intrinsically evil. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, holds that marriage is a "great sacrament" (Eph 5:32, DRV). She only condemns those who procure marriage in violation of their (voluntary) vows of celibacy, as does St. Paul (1 Tim 5:11-12). She also, like St. Paul, holds celibacy to be objectively superior to marriage (1 Cor 7:32-34,38).
God bless,


Question 52No Salvation Outside the Church

Dear CAI,

Are there any scriptures that point to the Catholic teaching of 'no salvation outside of the church'?



B. Douglass: Dave,
Matt 18:17; Luke 10:16; 11:23; John 10:16; Eph 4:5; 1 Cor 11:19 [factions: Gk, hairesis]; Titus 3:10 [factious: Gk, hairetikos]; 2 Pet 2:1 [sects: Gk, hairesis]; 2 John 10; Jude 8-11.


Question 51Infallibility and Response to Fr. Harrison

Mr Sungenis,
I have copied and pasted an exchange that went on in a Catholic paper (here in Australia). The first goes like this:
"In a recent letter entitled "Infallible teaching" George Simpson asks why many Catholics do not recognize John Paul II's statement on women's ordination, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, as infallible.

The answer is simply that it has never been proclaimed as an infallible statement by the Holy Father. The fact that others, including Cardinal Ratzinger, claim it to be infallible does not make it infallible. Only the Pope can declare a particular Church teaching to be infallible.

It may be that in time this will happen, but up to now the Holy Father has, for whatever reason, refrained from doing so."

Penshurst, NSW
He is then responded to by at least three people (he never responded).

"Fr John Crowthers (April AD2000) claims that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis has never been proclaimed as an infallible statement by the Holy Father. I strongly challenge this claim.
The documents of Session IV of Vatican I devote the whole of Chapter Four to Papal infallibility. Before the well-known definition of ex cathedra statements, the document mentions other definitions by popes who, by taking advantage of useful means afforded by Divine Providence, "defined as doctrines to be held those things which, by God's help, they knew to be in keeping with Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Traditions. For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles."

The Holy Father's defining statement in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is most explicit: "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

Surely, these words indicate that the shepherd and teacher of all Christians is using his supreme apostolic authority to define a doctrine of faith to be held by the whole Church.

My reading of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, therefore, convinces me that the document fulfils both the ancient and ex cathedra criteria of an infallible declaration.

Of course, Cardinal Ratzinger's responsum did not of itself prove the infallibility of the teaching. The Holy Father's approval of the responsum did, however, confirm that he intended to and in fact did define as an article of faith that the Church has no power to confer priestly ordination on women.

North Blackburn, Vic
The interesting point of this is the Holy Father approved Ratzinger responsum.

Then we have one from Fr Duggan from NZ who is a very good scholar (and about 95 years old now)

"I am afraid Father Crothers is mistaken in holding that when Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis declared that the Church has not the power to confer the Christian priesthood on any woman, he was not exercising his prerogative of personal infallibility.

When the First Vatican Council defined the dogma of papal infallibility, it stated that for a papal statement to considered as infallible it must fulfil four conditions. It must concern: a matter of faith or morals; it must be definitive; it must be issued by the Pope as successor of St Peter as Head of the Church and its Supreme Teacher; it must be addressed to the whole Church, not just any part of it.

It will be noted that these do not include an explicit statement by the Holy Father that he is exercising his prerogative of personal infallibility."

Upper Hutt, New Zealand
Then John Young whom I know you know:
"Father John Crothers PP states in his letter (April AD2000) that the Pope has not declared his statement in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be infallible - the statement that the Church has no power to ordain women to the priesthood. It is true that he has not said whether he was exercising his personal infallibility in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. But the teaching contained there is infallible.

This was stated by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 28 October 1995, in a reply approved by the Pope, who ordered its publication. The Congregation declared that the doctrine has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium.

As regards the authority of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis as such, all the requirements for an infallible teaching are fulfilled there.

Eastwood, NSW
Then finally Fr Brian Harrison who has written on this frequently. He has the most cuttingly logical reply of the lot:
"Father John Crothers' letter (April 2003 AD2000) shows unfortunate confusion on the subject of papal infallibility.

He claims that we do not have to recognize any papal document as infallible until such time as the Pope himself declares it to be infallible. This opinion is gratuitous, with no foundation in any document of the Church's teaching authority.

If Fr Crothers were correct, there would be no papal statements at all that Catholics would be bound to recognize as infallible; for no Pope has ever issued a personal declaration to the effect that any specific document is infallible! The word "infallible" appears nowhere in the 1854 and 1950 papal documents solemnly defining the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption respectively. And no separate papal documents were ever issued subsequently declaring either of those definitions respectively to be "infallible." Yet both of them are of course infallible. So is Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Their own solemn wording makes this clear."

Father Harrison basically makes the same point I did. If OS needs a document saying it is infallible then you can't maintain the Ineffabilis Deus" is infallible or the one on the Assumption. Either that or someone has to produce such a document AND even then show where the foundation is for such a document's necessity is even documents such as this are issued (as Father Harrison says in his first letter).

Anyway I thought I would show you. I note your reply from the other day. I can wait for a response (I assume all will eventually be put on your website as well no?) so there is no need to rush. You are the one that generously provides this service so I am just making use of it by asking questions. I sure we can have a lot of fun. I think I should give a little commendation as well. We have a little disagreement here but I only write if I don't agree with something.

Also on that Russian consecration thing. The Russian are more favorably disposed toward the Church now than five years ago. Three quarters watched the funeral ... what do you have to say about that?

R. Sungenis: Matt, all good points raised here. Allow me to add a few more remarks. Although I understand Fr. Harrison's point, nevertheless, it is an argument from silence, and such argumentation won't satisfy the high demands of this important issue.

Although papal infallibility is extremely important for the Church, the Achilles heel of the doctrine is that prelates and laypeople continually find themselves arguing over what is, precisely, an ex cathedra infallible decree. And although my first inkling as a layman is to attribute infallibility to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis due to the fact that I see what is normally interpreted as the “criteria” for infallibility, I don’t presume the authority to make that decision for myself. Otherwise, I become the authority of what is, and is not, infallible. Only the Church has that power.

The basic problem for the layman is that, throughout the history of the Church, he sees various statements coming from the pope which seem to have many (or all) of the criteria for infallibility (and thus he wonders if the statement is infallible); or, he sees statements issued which seem to have some or all the criteria for infallibility but are not, according to general opinion, including the Vatican’s opinion, infallible.

Some people believe their has been only one infallible ex cathedra statement issued (the 1950 decree on the Assumption of Mary); others believe there have been two additional infallible decrees, although these would have to be retroactively applied (the 1854 decree on the Immaculate Conception and the 1870 decree on papal infallibility); others believe there are dozens or even hundreds of ex cathedra statements, due to what seems to be the inclusion of the four criteria for infallibility in various papal decrees throughout the last two thousand years. So the debate continues. The problem, if we are only willing to admit it, is that the Church has never officially stated specifically which papal decrees are infallible and which are not.

Some think this is the case so that the Church can hold open her opinion, that is, have the option of saying in the future that a papal statement was not infallible when the Church is confronted with evidence that the pope was wrong on an issue. Some think this became a reality in the Galileo affair. After stating that he had no intentions of reversing the decision of the pontificate of Pius V (which in 1616 condemned Copernicanism), in 1633 Urban VIII affirmed the decision of his own Sacred Congregation condemning Copernicanism and Galileo, after which he (the pope) sent out official letters of the official decision to all the papal nuncios and universities of Europe specifying the condemnation of Copernicanism. So here we have a pope speaking as universal pastor on a matter of faith and morals (since the Sacred Congregation said Copernicanism impinged on the inerrancy of Scripture), and binding the Catholic faithful to his papal decree, yet the common opinion held today is that the pope’s decision was not infallible.
Interestingly enough, 31 years later, pope Alexander VII attached a condemnation of Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus to his papal bull, Speculatores Domus Israel, thus affirming the decisions under Pius V and Urban VIII (I have a copy of the bull, and I see the names of Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus in it), and yet we are told today that neither was Alexander’s decree infallible. Ironically, we have major doctrines in the Catholic Church that have less papal confirmation than the condemnation of Copernicanism, yet they seem to have no trouble enjoying “infallible” status. An excellent book written by Catholic priest William Roberts covers these issues in detail. The Dublin Review also has a number of articles concerning the same.

Along the same lines, it will do no good to argue that, in addition to the specific papal language prefacing Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, it must enjoy infallible status because it is tied to the tradition of the Church. Such argumentation is quickly neutralized since the holding to geocentrism and the condemnation of heliocentrism has an impeccable pedigree of tradition in the Church, from the unanimous consent of the Fathers, to the affirmation by all the Medievals, not to mention the condemnation by three popes. How much more Tradition and Papal confirmation would we need to say that Copernicanism was not to be accepted by the Catholic faithful? Apparently, we would need a statement from the pope saying “My condemnation of Copernicanism is infallible.” If that is so, then why don’t we need the same statement for Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, that is, “My prohibition of women priests is infallible”?

So, with these issues in the foreground, in order to be faithful to the Church, then I must hold that, until the Church decides that the condemnation of Copernicanism, in accord with the witnesses of Tradition and Papal decree, was infallible (or at least the Church makes an official statement stating why it holds it was not infallible), then I cannot hold that anything a pope has stated is infallible unless the pope who issued the statement specifically and officially says it is infallible. Neither I nor anyone else should have to resort to guessing. These issues are much too important to depend on the unofficial opinions of prelates or parishioners.

Canon Law affirms my position, since Canon 749.3 of the 1983 code says: “No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.” The word “manifestly” requires that it be made very clear, without any doubt, to the faithful; no guessing required. Moreover, the only way this Canon can be bypassed is if the present pope says that Canon 749.3 is rescinded, or officially interprets it in such a way that he is not required to say his teaching is “manifestly” infallible. So far, there has been no such interpretation issued by the pope.

Having said all that, whether or not Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is “infallible” will not prohibit me from teaching that woman are not to be priests. Regardless of its infallible status, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is an authoritative statement from the Church that is perfectly in accord with Tradition, as well as being substantiated by the consensus of the Fathers. It would take a clear, unambiguous, official and binding statement from a future pope to overturn it.

Regarding Church teaching in general, I would only expect to see a singular, infallible decree from a pope when there is little or no consensus from the Fathers; there is a discrepancy in the Tradition; and/or the matter is not specifically discussed in Scripture. The doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary have one or all three of these concerns and thus they were in need of an infallible ex cathedra decree, whereas females in the priesthood does not need such a decree. Scripture, Tradition, Patristics and papal teaching have been very clear that women are not to be priests.

The only other time I would expect an infallible papal decree is when there exists a matter of the utmost urgency to be decided, and that, without a decision, the stability of the Church is at stake. But that decree would also have to be “manifestly” evident if it were intended to be infallible.


Question 50Do you allow your wife to vote?

Do you allow your wife to vote and/or daughters? Do you think women should go to college?


R. Sungenis: Yes, I allow my wife to vote. Regarding college, only if it was a good Catholic college, but there are very few of those.


Question 49Born Again Evangelical asks about Catholicism

Hi there
Congratulations on the election of your new pope?

I have two questions for you. But first a little background as you should know where I am coming from.

I am a born again evangelical who is pretty much mystified at the maze of Roman Catholicism. We were made to go to church at a young age and I found it boring and simply not real to the 'reality on the ground', so to speak. God seemed so far away...
I entered into a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ on May 17, 1988 at the age of 17 from a life of slavery to drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality into a life of freedom never known before in my previous experience by simply trusting in the once for all finished work of Christ on the Cross by faith. The joy of Christ is very real confirmed by the Word of God and by the indwelling Holy Spirit. My life has simply changed in response to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (who is God over all amen!) which you know that states faith alone, through Christ alone, etc. Not by works lest any man should boast (Eph 2:8,9)

My first question:
How can you explain these types of experiences? I can recount many hundreds of testimonies (especially amongst Roman Catholics) who simply encounter the simple clear claims of the Gospel, respond by faith, and are 'saved'. I mean like serious life changing results! All walks of life, all ages, all occupations - yet the Gospel message of receiving the finished work of Christ by faith is so powerful! People that don't care about spirituality now singing the praises of our great God and savior Jesus Christ! I notice the majority of Catholics do not understand their faith nor have a desire to evangelize or even talk about the Person of Christ. Why? (maybe a 3rd question!)

My second question:
Could you please place a more detailed account of your biograhpy of how you 'reverted' back to Roman Catholic after 18 years a protestant? It would be interesting to see how this came about.

Kind regards,
and nice website - I actually understand more about your religion than I ever have - a good thing -

Ian M
Nova Scotia Canada

B. Douglass: Ian,
Thanks for the kind words. Honest and charitable inquiry is always appreciated. But before I answer your questions I'd like to respond to two things you stated in your background story. First, Protestantism can be as much of a maze as Catholicism sometimes, especially in the realm to eschatology, and especially if you take into account the conflicting teachings of the various denominations on things like free will, the sacraments, eternal security, etc. Not that this necessarily falsifies Protestantism, but just make sure you're not the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. Second, I of course object to your definition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, specifically your inclusion of "faith alone". Catholic exegetes see Ephesians 2:9's statement "not of works" as a parallel to v. 8's "and that not of yourselves," and the converse to "it is the gift of God." Hence it is seen as negating any salvation scheme in which man pulls himself out of sin, completely or partially, as in Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. It does not negate the Catholic doctrine of the merit of works performed by grace. Mr. Sungenis has an entire book on this topic entitled Not by Faith Alone, and I have written a rather lengthy essay on justification with a focus on Romans 4. The title is "Credited with Righteousness: James White Versus the Bible."

To answer your first question, Catholics acknowledge that God gives grace outside of the Catholic Church, and that there is a great deal of power in the teachings of Christ, even when only presented in part and with an admixture of error. So, certainly when God rescues someone from a life of tremendous sin we can recognize a bona fide work of the grace of God. That having been said, it is dangerous to depend on subjective experience to determine truth, since as I'm sure you recognize, human beings have a tremendous capacity for fooling themselves. Think of all the Mormons who "know" that Joseph Smith was God's prophet because they feel that burning in the bosom. Ultimately it takes reason and empirical evidence to establish that their religion is bogus. So, while Catholics can recognize the work of God in leading people out of sin, and bringing them at least part way to the fullness truth (e.g. to belief in the virgin birth and deity of Christ, biblical inerrancy, etc) we must recognize that those who embrace the Protestant distinctive's (e.g. the imputation of the alien righteousness of Christ, reduced number of sacraments, et al), however sincere they may be, have been seduced, either by themselves or by their teachers, and are trusting in a false gospel which is contrary to Scripture and under the anathema of the Council of Trent.
To answer your second question, Robert's conversion story can be found in the book Surprised by Truth (Basilica Press, 1994) and in a cd which we sell through the CAI website. The answer to your third question: incompetent leadership and the lure of secular culture.
God bless,
Ben Douglass


Question 48Brephos

Hello Robert,
I'm requesting your assistance in and checking the accuracy of my use of the Greek word "brephos". I am claiming that Holy Scripture makes no distinction between babes in the womb and newborn in my apologetics article at the following URL:

Their are two short paragraphs on this page and the word "brephos" is used in the paragraph under the heading "Authentic Law Should Not Violate Natural Law." Robert, I need the benefit of your education and apologetics skills to check the accuracy of my statements here and my use of the Greek word "brephos".

Perhaps you could also contribute to the article using your writing skills and even strengthen/co-author this article with me.
Many Blessings from your Brother in Christ,


R. Sungenis: Fred, you are indeed correct. In addition to the passages you cited, here are a few more that use brephos:
Luke 2:12, 16
Acts 7:19
2 Tim 3:15
1Pt 2:2
In the LXX:
1 Macc 1:61 and the non-canonical 4 Macc 4:25 in reference to "infants."
3 Macc 5:49 and 2 Macc 6:10 in reference to babies sucking at the breast
Sirach 19:11 in reference to a baby in the womb.


Question 47Article permission

Hello Robert Sungenis,
I donated a duplicate copy of my web site to Ave Maria University (AMU). They will look over the web site
for several months and are considering putting it up on their server.

Initially, as a precaution, I deleted your article "Works of The Law" before giving a copy of my web site to them. I would like to include your article "Works of the Law" on the duplicate web site I donated to Ave Maria University (AMU). I am therefore asking your permission to include your article "Works of the Law" on the duplicate copy I donated to Ave Maria University (AMU). Of course, I will give thanks and acknowledgment to you for your kind permission to place the article on the duplicate web site I donated to AMU.

One of the students (Peter Dittus) from AMU mentioned my name to you at a recent lecture of yours - I believe the lecture was about women covering their heads in Church. He said you smiled and mentioned my name "Fred."

A smile to you also Robert - from your Faithful Friend,


R. Sungenis: Fred, you have my permission. The article is at:


Question 46Site recommendation

You recommended the following website to someone about evolution and how it isn't true ( While I think the people who created it have some interesting information, I'm not happy with some of their content. When you first go to their website, go to the bottom where the big box is that says: Scientific Evidence for Creation. On the left side of the box, you'll see one link that says: Assembly Locations of Christians Near You. When you click on that, you'll see another box at the bottom of the page that has The Interactive Bible. Click on "False Doctrines" that has the skull and bones. When you do that, you'll see a button of JPII and the bottom is written, Roman Catholics Examined". Apparently, these people have a problem with Catholics. I don't think I'd recommend this site to anyone. It's pretty anti-Catholic. They seem to have problems with more than just Catholics, but still....

I thought I'd just point this out.

Debbie K

R. Sungenis: Debbie, thank you for the added information. I didn't realize it contained what you state above. This QA will be posted on our board for all those interested. In the future we will not recommend the website. God bless you.


Question 45Baptism of Desire, No Salvation Outside the Church, Novus Ordo

I hope all is well with you and your family. I have a question to ask you about your recent email exchange with Mike Ryan on Baptism of Desire. I have known Mike Ryan for a about 3 years now and find him to be a very honest and loyal catholic and a personal friend of mine. I told him that I am a big supporter of you and that I have all your books and a lot of your tapes and have met you a few times and have even sat down and ate with you. I told him I think you are one of the best out there. Bob my problem is I am not sure what to think of your exchanges with Mike Ryan. The reason I say that is because about 5 weeks ago I attended Gerry Matatics talks in Phila. and I always get there early so I can talk with him about various topics before he gives his talks. I flat out asked Gerry if he believed in Baptism of Desire and if the church taught it at Trent and he said NO to both questions. I then changed the question so as to be sure that I was hearing him correctly. I said Gerry so without WATER, can someone be counted as baptized and in the church and his answer was No to both questions. Now my two favorite apologists who I trust more than any bishop and definitely more than our last pope, are teaching me the complete opposite. I even asked him about your upcoming debate on the mass and he said it started out as a friendly debate and you wanted it more of a formal one. By the way I am looking forward to that debate. I must be honest I just can`t seem to get past this topic, Water baptism and the absolute need to belong to the church. Why some people don`t need both like me. Two of the most important things in the world and most people could care less. I don`t know of any two people who teach the absolute need for the Catholic Faith more than you and Gerry and both of you are brilliant. So how is it that you and Gerry see this topic from opposite ends. You both can`t be right can you. Maybe you should add a second debate on BOD and NSOTC. Well I know you are busy so I will end this now. I still think the world of you and that will never change. I have learned so much from you and your web site and I have seen you lose a lot (financially)and be attacked from every corner by the neo-cons because of your defense of the Traditional Faith. So I just wanted you to know that on this one topic I find myself not attached to you like I am on every other thing you have ever taught and it really has me depressed. I just wanted you to know that I am trying but I just can`t see it. HELP!

R. Sungenis: Jim, I think the answer is very simple. Gerry Matatics and people like him want a religion that contains no exceptions for the difficulties of life. They want a "one size fits all" religion no matter what the extenuating circumstances. They take absolutism to its ultimate extreme, thinking that somehow they are being more faithful to Church teaching the more absolutistic they become. But there is quite a difference between holding the line against a dilution of traditional dogma (as liberals and modernists dilute it) and making something out of traditional dogma that it never intended to become (as Gerry Matatics does).

God desires all men to be saved, according to 1 Timothy 2:4. He wants to give men every opportunity to be saved. Unfortunately, some of our traditionalists have tried to close the gates of heaven to all but those who follow their narrow view of the Catholic religion, and in these cases I don’t hesitate to compare them to the Pharisees whom Jesus said in Mt 23:13: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.” God, and God alone, will determine who is saved and unsaved, not Gerry Matatics or anyone else.
Yes, the Church has stated dogmatically that there is no salvation outside the Church, and no Catholic can deny that dogma and remain a Catholic; but the Church has also stated that, while holding to that dogma, there are also contingencies based on various extenuating circumstances.

The nature of those extenuating circumstances is certainly debatable, but that is not an area for the absolutists to decide, but only God in heaven and the Church on earth. Until if and when the Church decides to define the parameters of those extenuating circumstances, then we Catholics will just have to sit back and accept the principle that general contingencies exist, at the same time we hold to the universal dictum.

In regards to doctrine, the glory of the Catholic Church throughout history has been its ability to hold in balance two seemingly contradictory theological tenets. I discovered this fascinating dimension of the Church when writing my book Not By Faith Alone. Those who don’t understand this principle of Church teaching (or refuse to accept it) are doomed either to an austere absolutism (as we find in some extreme traditionalists) or open-ended liberalism. A third possibility are those who, not accepting the balance, regard the polarity as evidence of contradiction in Church teaching, and who then become Protestants.

Regarding the Baptism of Desire, as I told Michael Ryan, up until the Council of Trent, the issue of the “desire” for Baptism was unsettled. All kinds of opinions about its validity or non-validity came from Fathers, saints, doctors and theologians. But Trent settled the issue, once and for all, by stating very clearly that the laver of water, OR the desire for it, can procure justification.
Unfortunately, absolutistic traditionalists don’t like to see the word “OR” in Trent’s decree, and so they change it to “AND.” They, being absolutists, don’t like the fact that our greatest council put a contingency into the doctrine of salvation.
Now tell me, how can one claim to be a faithful Catholic if he changes the meaning of the words used by an infallible Catholic council? We have no greater authority on earth than the Council of Trent affirmed by the reigning pope, yet these traditionalists ignore the very council that they often use against the modernists. How ironic. They quote all their favorite Fathers and saints of the past who were against the Baptism of Desire, and don’t even hesitate to impugn the integrity of Thomas Aquinas in doing so (who held to Baptism of desire). But they don’t seem to understand that infallible Catholic doctrine is not determined by a head count. In such controversies, the opinions on either side of the isle don’t amount to a hill of beans. In the final analysis the only thing that matters is what is finally decided by the ex cathedra decree of a pope or a dogmatic council affirmed by the pope. Try as they may to alter the words “OR” and “DESIRE” from Trent’s decree, they are there to stay, and come hell or high water, I will defend those words against anyone who decides to change them.

With regard to our upcoming debate on the Novus Ordo Mass, I have stated that the only way someone could substantiate a claim that the Novus Ordo is an invalid mass is by also substantiating the claim that the present Catholic Church is not the true church. Following this to its logical conclusion, that is precisely what the sedevacantists have asserted – the present Catholic Church (that was formerly under John Paul II and is now under Benedict XVI) is a pseudo-church. That is the position of Gerry Matatics, whether he admits it to the public or not, for he has admitted it to me. As a result of these things, I am no longer in the same camp as Gerry Matatics. As good as he thinks his intentions may be, I believe he is a real and present danger to the Church. Gerry has over-reacted to the problems in today’s Church, and unfortunately, an over-reaction is just as deadly as that against which it reacts.
God be with you, Jim.


Question 44Obedience and Professionalism, Part 2

I have have written you in the past and thank you for your time in responding to me.

My question is about obedience and professionalism (tact) in regards to Church authorities and also how I act toward others.

As far as church authorities, I understand respect toward priest, bishops, and anyone concentrated to God and exercise that in my life, hopefully to my fullest abilities. I am 25, was born and raised in the modern church not knowing the "way things use to be" since I was not part of it. After rebelling like a fool and coming back to the Catholic Faith a couple years ago, I am noticing how much I despise the modernism and poor leadership within our church. Generally I attend Novous Ordo services because it is all I have close to me. From my personal experiences, I understand how hard it is to be a leader and do not claim to be a great one, but I also know that being a priest or church authority demands true leadership qualities. There are times when I notice something wrong or a priest will tell me something I know is not in the best interest of the church. I do not seem to know how to properly express myself without "stepping over the line" that should be maintained between religous and laity, so I decline to say anything at all or give a hesitant answer.

B. Douglass: If a priest is teaching doctrinal error, then you would be perfectly within your rights to (respectfully) tell him so and point out to him the relevant sources of Church teaching (catechisms, councils, encyclicals) which refute him. And if a priest is disobeying a disciplinary directive, then you can likewise tell him, and show him the relevant section of Canon Law or document from the Congregation for Divine Worship. If he makes a prudential judgment which you deem to be contrary to the best interest of the Church (such as the use of altar girls), Canon 212: 2-3 gives you the right to manifest your opinion, though it will remain your opinion and the priest is free to accept or reject it, which decision you must submit to.

For an example, a priest asked me to be a Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (the chalice only, when needed at a daily Mass). I told him as politely as I could that it makes me uncomfortable two (2) separate times and I would rather not partake in his offer for personal reasons. He looked perplexed and asked me why I felt I shouldn't as if he could not take "no" for an answer. Later he said he would get back to me on it. The thought in my mind was to question his competency and tell him no rudely, but I thankfully held back.

John Paul II in Dominicae Cenae no. 11 stated that the Church can grant the faculty to distribute the sacred species to laymen in order to meet a just need, so there is nothing wrong per se with what your priest is asking you to do here. But I can certainly empathize with your feeling personally uncomfortable with doing so. In this case you have every right to refuse, and you shouldn't feel ashamed to elaborate on your reasons why, and talk about the greater sense of reverence which is inculcated in the faithful when only consecrated hands are permitted to touch the sacred species, etc. But like I said above, you have to respect the priest's decision to use EMs, since there's nothing intrinsically wrong with it.
My two questions then are:

1) What are the standards (guidelines) for professional relationships between priest, bishops, laity etc.

Use the proper titles (Father, Your Excellency, Your Eminence, etc.) and obey all rules of decorum. Be reverent and deferential. I'm not sure what to give you in terms of a more detailed response. Try reading St. Alphonsus Liguori or St. John Chrrysostom, who both wrote on the priesthood.

2) When does obedience, become disobedience? I am not sure how familiar you are with unlawful orders in the military, but that is the only way to compare it. We are bound to be obedient to the Magesterium, but when someone steps out of line, I would like to be able to throw out a "trump card" in my intellect to know I am in the right and doing my duty as a member of the church.

There is a hierarchy of authority in the Church: God is on top, then the Pope, then the bishop, then the priest, then you. If someone above you is disobeying someone above him (i.e. the priest disobeying the bishop, the bishop the Pope, the Pope God) then you can be justified in reproving him, on the authority of the one (or One) even higher. And if someone above you commands you to do something contrary to the dictates of one above him, you can be justified in disobeying. Thus, if absolutely anyone tells you to sin (such as if a future Pope wanted you to participate in a repeat of the ballet of chestnuts), that is a trump card. If anyone tells you to disobey the ecclesiastical disciplinary orders of the Pope, or a papally approved decree of a Roman congregation, that is also a trump card. In general if any member of the clergy asks you to be unfaithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church you have every right to disobey, just like the angels whom God placed under Lucifer had every right not to follow him in his rebellion.

I suppose I am looking for what I can/can't get away with, and can't seem to get an answer from a priest because I a afraid of insulting him since I do respect the priest because of their position and as an individual soul. I do not expect you to be able to answer all this in brief, but at least pointing me in the right direction and recommending some required reading would be greatly appreciated.

Well, if you're going to be checking what your superiors say for conformance to the Magisterium, you had better know what the Magisteium teaches very well. Get Denzinger, Ott, The Catechism of the Council of Trent, The 1994 Catechism, and start reading encyclicals (I recommend especially those of Leo XIII, Pius X, and Pius XI). If you think the liturgy at your parish might involve liturgical abuses, then you will have to check the GIRM, Canon Law, and Redmptionis Sacramentum, among other documents.

I also wanted to add that I sometimes make a roadtrip to a Byzantine Mass in San Louis Obispo, CA and Constantino and Mary Ann Santos wanted to say "hello" and send their regards. I mentioned I was hooked on your website and like your positions on things and he mentioned you knew each other.

God bless you too.


Question 43Covenant with the Jews, Part 2

I have been having an ongoing debate concerning the Covenant with the Jews. I take your position and have continued to explain that it has been aborgated and fulfiled through the New Covenant, but my opponent says otherwise. This is what he says concerning the Covenant:

Let's review the history of the Covenant first. There are THREE covenants that we deal with. The first is the covenant established with mankind through Adam. That is the promise of a Messiah. That covenant has been completed -- but it remains in force because a) a covenant cannot be revoked and, b) the Messiah continues to work in and through His Church to save people. The second covenant was established with Moses -- that God would be the God of the Israelites. That covenant, too, remains in force although it is now understood to include the Church as the continuation of the Israelites.

B. Douglass: I don't know where this person got the idea that a covenant cannot be revoked. "For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second... When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear" (Hebrews 8:7, 12). "He takes away the first in order to establish the second" (Hebrews 10:9, cf. Ephesians 2:15). Also, he is missing the covenants with Noah and David.

The covenant with Moses was abolished by Christ on the cross, as taught by Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis Christi no. 29 and by the epistles of St. Paul to the Hebrews and Ephesians, cited above. It is an error to concieve of the Church simply as a continuation, or expansion of the Old Covenant. The Church is the mystical body of Christ, a "new man" (Eph 2:15). It contains both Jews and Gentiles, but that union came after God abolished the wall of separation between them, viz., "the law of commandments", or the Mosaic law.

St. Paul explains in Romans 11 that God did not abandon the Jews in establishing the new covenant, but He did something analagous to what He did in the days of Elijah, when all but 7,000 Jewish men had bowed the knee to Baal. The majority of the Jews rejected Christ, and hence God forsook them. But the faithful remnant He incorporated into the new covenant established by Christ.

Finally, the third covenant is the one with Abraham which remains in force.

None of the Covenants, in and by themselves, will save anyone. That is not the function of the covenants. They are designed to establish and govern a relationship between God and His people. Only the Mosaic covenant, however, describes the "duties and obligations" of that relationship.

B. Douglass: The covenant with Abraham was a covenant of grace, established on a promise, and hence an anticipation of the new covenant, but I would not identify the new covenant by Abraham. I would identify it by Christ. And in fact Christ's covenant does describe the duties and obligations of the relationship between God and man, in the moral teachings found throughout the New Testament.

As the Church has always taught, salvation is possible only because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. There is no other source of salvation that has been revealed. Jesus established a Church in which He operates and which continues His salvific mission in the world. That is, the purpose of the Church is salvation. The Church does not save, but brings the Good News to the world for its salvation. The mechanism of this service is the preaching of the Word and flow of graces through her.

B. Douglass: Given a charitable interpretation of this paragraph, I see nothing to dispute here.

Thus, the Church teaches that one may not consciously reject the Church and be saved. Yet that "conscious rejection" occurs only under the condition that one knows that the Church is necessary for salvation and refuses to join it or, having been a member, refuses to remain in it. What the term "knows" means is more than just an intellection awareness of the Church's claim but, rather, a full comprehension on all levels of the Truth of that claim.This is the source of Pio Nono's teaching on invincible ignorance.

B. Douglass: This is false. "Eternal salvation cannot be obtained by those who oppose the authority and statements of the same Church and are stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff" (Bl. Pius IX, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, no. 8). "Therefore, if the Greeks or others should say that they are not confided to Peter and to his successors, they must confess not being the sheep of Christ, since Our Lord says in John 'there is one sheepfold and one shepherd'" (Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam). Someone positively knowing the Catholic Church to be the one true Church instituted by Christ but rejecting her anyway is only one hypothetical example of a person who would not be invincibly ignorant, and thus would be damned as outside the Church's pale. It may be the only hypothetical example explicitly mentioned by Lumen Gentium and the New Catechism, but it is not the only one possible. It suffices for one to consciously oppose and reject the Catholic Church, even if that rejection proceeds from genuinely held belief, to render one a non-member in the sheepfold of Christ.

Invincible ignorance is the exception, not the rule, as this person seems to wish to make it. Invincible ignorance means that one is not morally responsible for one's beliefs. This applies to children under the age of reason, and those who never have the opportunity to fulfill their moral duty to search for the truth and find it in Christ's Catholic Church, due to some cicumstance beyond their control (e.g. those living on remote islands). In a word, most every educated adult in this world is probably morally responsible for what he or she believes.

But, in the case of the Jews and, to a lesser extent, the Muslims, there is a special relationship between God and those people through the Covenants. If they conform their lives to the requirements of the Covenant, they may qualify for salvation in the same way as the Patriarchs and those Fathers who waited in Limbo for the "gates of heaven" to be opened.

B. Douglass: Cantate Domino specifically mentions Jews in its list of categories of reprobates. If they reject Christ, their fate is the same as anyone else's. Modern Jews have no special covenant relationship with God outside of the mystical body of Christ, since, as St. Paul teaches in Romans 11, those who rejected Christ became like the Jews in the days of Elijah who bowed the knee to Baal. It is only the faithful remnant who are saved, and that through Christ and His Church. The only caveat I would attach is that since Jews were the original chosen people of God, their conversion to Catholicism is especially natural and fitting, moreso than with gentiles. And if gentiles reject Jesus en masse God will replace them with Jews (Romans 11:22-24).

Any comments on the above would be greatly appreciated on where this person errs.
Thank you,
Darian Fisher

B. Douglass: This person seems confused all around. I hope I have helped.


Question 42The Existence of God

Dear Mr. Sungenis (or to whom it may concern):

I was wondering what, of the arguments for the existence of God other than Intelligent Design, do you consider to be the strongest for the existence of God? Intelligent Design simply doesn't work for me for reasons I've elucidated in previous e-mails.

Thank you.

B. Douglass: Other than intelligent design, the arguments I consider the strongest are the axiological argument, first cause, and the empirical evidence of miracles.

Regarding the axiological argument, I would recommend that you study the ethics of Peter Singer. He is one of few logically consistent atheists, and he works out the logical consequences of denying that there is inherent value in human life (which atheists must do, since they view life as an accident). He approves of infanticide.

Regarding the empirical evidence of miracles, there is another book that I'd like to add to the reccomended reading list from my last e-mail: John Haffert's Meet the Witnesses (Washington, NJ: Ave Maria Press, 1961). It compiles many of the testimonies of witnesses to the miracle of the sun at Fatima.
God bless,


Question 41Captial Punishment, Part 2

I've been working my way through your archives of Q & A's, and I ran across a series that really stunned me. It's the one titled "How Do We View Popes Who Authorized Burning at the Stake?", and also "'We're all against torture' - but Innocent IV wasn't".
To establish my perspective, until I ran across these segments I agreed with you and your staff on everything I've read on your website. I am appalled at the state of the Church today, am sick of the ecumenical tidal wave, was not enamored with John Paul II, but still respect and submit myself to the authority of the Church and to Tradition. I am against abortion with every fiber in my being, but I am also against the Death Penalty.

First, the corruption of the capital punishment system is undeniable and if one innocent life is put in jeopardy because of it, it should be discontinued. On a theoretical level, though, even if it were perfect, I am still against it, because it is unnecessary. We have the capabilities to hold a prisoner in prison indefinitely. It would actually be less expensive for lifelong imprisonment than to put that prisoner on death row (I am basing my statements on Sister Prejean's research). If there is a viable option to permanently imprison instead of kill, should this not always be the choice made?

To kill is to end any and all attempts at repentance. If that same prisoner were imprisoned and rehabilitated for 40 years (with no chance of ever being freed), there exists the chance, however slim, that he could repent and turn to God. If we kill him, then he does not have that option.

With regards to the Church condemning people to death, especially over matters of heresy, shouldn't it be the same thing? No, heresy should not be tolerated. Yes, heretics should be punished. But to kill them prevents them from ever being able to repent. Would it not be better (assuming the Church regained civil authority) to imprison them, remove their means of communicating their heresy, and work to rehabilitate them? Would this not eliminate the threat but still maintain the possibility of redemption? Take away Freedom and the right to Free Speech before taking away the Right to Life.

I am a very compassionate person, perhaps to a fault. I know death is a part of our world due to sin, but it seems like it should always be the last of the last recourses. Thinking along the "do unto others" line of thought, yes, I would want someone to correct me when I'm wrong. I would want someone to punish me if I continued in my error. Yes, if I was obstinate, I would want someone to threaten me with serious punishment to try and wake me up from my blindness and save my soul. But I can't say that I would want someone to kill me and take away any chance I might have of seeing the light. I have not been able to reconcile killing with loving my enemies.

Can you offer more detailed explanations for the acceptance of capitol punishment in the Church? If a heretic had a last minute reversal, would they still be killed? What are the specific writings that endorse or promote this practice? Is it still applicable today, given the capabilities of imprisonment that we have?
Thank you for the blessing that is your time and your work.

The Lord Be With You,


PS - Please thank Ben Douglass for answering my last question concerning the CCC and non-Catholics baptism and salvation.

B. Douglass: It looks like you got me again :) You're welcome, in any case.
St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica, Part II-II, Q. 64, art. 2. and The Catechism of the Council of Trent, in its commentary on the 5th commandment, teach that the state should execute greivous sinners if they are dangerous to others. But yes, the Church desires that all have the time to repent, and hence the new Catechism teaches the converse, viz., that if "non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means."
With modern prisons, it is certainly possible to keep convicted murderers away from the general populace. But on the other hand, I think it in no way conducive to repentance to place all of our worst criminals together in one place. They tend to reinforce each other in their depravity and produce some of the worst moral cesspools on earth. In essence, we may be able to prevent infectous members from contaminating society as a whole, but we cannot prevent them from contaminating each other.

Very little, if any, rehabilitation occurs in maximum security prisons, to my knowledge. So while it may sound nice in theory to give persons guilty of capital crimes 40 years of rehabilitation, what we are actually giving them is more like 40 years of social Darwinism in action. I think it would be better to execute the most hardened of criminals, in order to protect the less hardened, and provide them with an environment truly conducive to repentance.

As for the cost of executions, that is due to the peculiarities of the American justice system. Executions could cost a lot less if it were changed.
I agree with what you have written about heretics.

Sources for Catholic teaching on capitol punishment include the Summa, cited above, Jone's Moral Theology, basically every Catechism, and the Catholic Encyclopedia.




Question 40Ordinations and the New Mass

Are you saying on your question33 novus Ordo Ordinations/Confession

So what you are saying to your writer that the “The Order of Melchisedech” was not changed. Or are you saying it does not matter what Order they use as long as it was approved by Higher Authority? Please answer.
Carolyn F

B. Douglass: Robert has delegated some of the Q&A to me, due to time constraints. I hope I can be of help.

Pope Paul VI promulgated a new rite of preistly ordination in 1968, which replaced that promulgated by Pius XII in 1948. While the new rite may not be as beautiful as the old, and may have excised some prayers that really ought to still be in there (for example the recital of John 20:22 by the bishop), the essential matter and form of the Sacrament are still there. Hence, so long as the bishop has the intention to do as the Church does, it is valid, and enrolls its recipients into the order of Melchisedech.


Ben Douglass


Question 39SSPX Masses

In your opinion, would one be better advised to attend a local indult Latin Mass, or a local SSPX Mass? The reason I ask is that both are available in my area. While I recognize the problems with the SSPX situation, I frankly am tired of the pap delivered in indult sermons. Current problems within the Church are never mentioned, and the hard teachings of the Church are never presented to the laity. I would appreciate any advice you could give me.

B. Douglass: Without question, continue to attend the indult Mass. The SSPX has no jurisdictional connection with the Pope. That alone should be enough to keep you away from their Masses, except perhaps in cases of extreme necessity.

I'm sorry to hear that the sermons are mediocre at the indult Mass. But I assume the pastor is not preaching open heresy, and you can go home and read a good Catholic book and get all the same wisdom and guidance as you would get out of good preaching. There is simply nothing about your situation, nothing of such gravity, that it justifies attending the Mass of a priest the Pope deems to be schismatic over an indisputably Catholic alternative. My advice: put up with the mediocre sermons. That's something a lot of people have to do.


Question 38Molinism


Given that your "Not By Faith Alone" contained an appendix with a brief juxtiposition of Molinism and Thomism, I figured that perhaps you could point out to me some noted modern Molinists where this poor chap could not. Strange that at a Jesuit college there wouldn't be one Molinist left.

And I have no idea why he would direct me to the Dominicans. I suppose that the faculty at this institution can say "We Are All Thomists Now" to which the good Jesuit Molina would probably respond "Et tu Regis?"

Any help you could provide would be appreciated.

Ryan P

Dear Ryan:

There is certainly no one at Regis College who is a Molinist. I am not aware of anyone at the Toronto School of Theology who would hold a Molinist position on grace and freedom. You might try contacting people at the Dominican College in Ottawa, but I seriously doubt that you will find anyone ready to defend this position nowadays. The best you can do is perhaps find a good historian.

I am sorry I could not be more help.

Gilles Mongeau, S.J.
Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology
Director, Diploma in Lonergan Studies
Regis College at the University of Toronto

B. Douglass: The most prominent modern proponents of Molinism are actually Protestants: William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga. In the world of Catholic apologetics the only convinced Molinist that I am aware of is Dave Armstrong. You might want to try e-mailing one of them to find out more information on modern Molinists.


Question 37I hope your debate with Gerry Matatics never happens

First let me say I think you are truly one of the best Catholic apologists. That said I am praying you and Gerry won't debate. From my perspective this would do more harm than good. You are both very honorable men and I know you deeply believe in getting the truth out to people. I just believe you will cause more scandal than good. I will pray for both of you that you may do the Lords will, which ever way it goes.

Thank you for all the work you do and may the Lord bless you and your organization.

B. Douglass: I also hope this debate never happens, but on the condition that Gerry recants. If he is going to travel the country in attempts to convince Catholics that the central act of worship of Roman Catholicism has been replaced with an act of idolatry throughout the English and Spanish (they say "por todos") speaking worlds, he needs to get taken to task. He is causing a great deal of scandal, however good his intentions may be. This debate will be a golden opportunity to convince both him and those who might be persuaded by him of the wrongness of his position.


Question 36Why do Eastern Catholics have no say in who is Pope?

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
Why is it that Eastern Catholics have no say in who becomes the next pope? When was the last time they had a say or a vote?
Yours in Christ,

R. Sungenis: The last time they had a say was in 1053, the year before they decided to depart from being under the Papacy.


Question 35Question 60- Baptism of Desire St Emerentiana Revisited, Part 4

R. Sungenis: Michael, rest assured I hold to the above quotes from the Magisterium. I use them all the time. What you are not quite understanding is that someone who receives the laver by "desire" has fulfilled the requirement of receiving water baptism. That is what Trent means by the word "or." Unfortunately, it is your vain attempt to separate the desire for baptism from the laver of baptism that is causing all the problem. That is what happens when you start out with a false presupposition, and you have been building on that fallacious foundation since you started this dialogue.

Michael R: No Robert, you do not hold to any of the referenced quotes from the magisterium - for you render to them a recession in meaning at variance with the clear words proscribed. Never has the Church defined or magisterially taught that the desire for baptism alone satisfies the requirement for the matter of the Sacrament. For the impious (infants enter and maintain unity with the Mystical Body by falling under the jurisdiction of the Vicar of Christ through baptism) both the laver and its desire are necessary and both have their unique and necessary functions as the dogmatic definitions and constant teachings of the Church so attest and infallibly declared: the SACRAMENT of Baptism is necessary to ALL for salvation. It is by and through your false “presupposition” of “laver by desire” that you wrest our sacred dogmas meaningless and twist into a metaphor the sole means chosen and willed by our Savior for the application of the merit of His blood for our redemption.

R. Sungenis: I'm sorry, Michael, you are wrong. The Church infallibly declared the desire of Baptism suffices for Baptism when Trent wrote its decree. Up until then, no dogmatic pronouncement had included the desire for Baptism as sufficing for the laver. You are the one who is twisting our sacred dogmas, since you come to Trent with a presupposition of your own. The issue was unsettled before Trent settled it. As it stands, there is a contingency in the matter of Baptism, and that contingency involves its desire. Stop trying to dismiss this fact by turning "or" into "and." You are so fastidious and perspicuous when it comes to citing Catholic patrons from the past in your favor, but when it comes to reading the clear word "or," suddenly you claim things aren't so clear any longer. A faithful Catholic would accept Trent's dogma. That's what I will continue to do. Thank you for the dialogue. It is now over. God be with you.


Question 34Church of The Saved an invisible church found among all the many denominations

Cheryl had this to say at one point: “But if you believed – as I do – that the true church is the body of all believers in Jesus’ salvation of our sins, then the verses are completely true and accurate in the context I have listed them.”

What she says here is true. The fact that she brings to all she reads the Protestant denominational belief in The Church of The Saved being an invisible church found among all the many denominations of Christians (who are defined by believing in Jesus – though Cheryl like most Protestants is most inconsistent in that – she says Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who believe in Jesus, are not true Protestants) means that she cannot see the logic you present. I don’t mean that she is in context in any real sense but that her beliefs require her to be out of context, which is the only way she can be in context within her belief system.

I have seen the same with people who make sola fide the beginning and end of all Scripture reading, as well as with people who make the Calvinist TULIP the beginning and end of all Scripture reading. Everything they read is understood in the light of that, and corresponding Protestant doctrines, and all that is clearly outside that pet doctrine is declared false.
I would guess that for Cheryl, if you could get her to see the falseness of the Invisible Church scattered across many visible denominations notion, she soon thereafter would see the falseness of sola fide.
Jimmy Cantrell

R. Sungenis: Agreed, but my critique of her position included the challege for her to prove, from the Bible, that the Church was an "invisible" collection of believers in Jesus. She danced around that issue, never willing to face the passages that spoke of the Church as also a physical entity with ordained leaders she had to obey. Consequently, the issue about the "visible versus invisible" Church was just another instance of Cheryl picking and choosing from the Bible what she wanted to accept.


Question 33Catholics Eat Blood at the Eucharist

Dear Mr. Sugenis,

Since i cannot use scripture as a source of truth here. I was reading your dialoge with Former Catholics For Christ about the Eucharist. On the first page, after reveiwing several scriptures forbidding the eating of blood, which is what FCFC said Catholics do, you said that they do not "literally" eat blood. Perhaps you quieted them with your comments, but according to your own laws you are wrong.

P. 82 Council of Trent:
CANON I.-If any one denieth, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that He is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue; let him be anathema.

CANON VIII.-lf any one saith, that Christ, given in the Eucharist, is eaten spiritually only, and not also sacramentally and really; let him be anathema.

Plus, haven't you heard of all the "miracles" of the eucharist bleeding when bitten?

So Mr. Sugenis,

If this were the 16th century, or any time before 1798, you would be asked to recant your heresy. If you obeyed scripture, you would be labeled a heretic, and you would be sent to the inquisition. This happened to over 500 million Christians, on matters such as these. So is the story of Catholicism.

Why don't you post this in your Q&A forum?

In the essence of discussion, not argument,


R. Sungenis: Alan, I treasure these moments. After 11 years of this, I never get tired of putting critics of Catholicism in their place, which is invariable due to their misunderstanding of Catholicism. I suggest you read Trent's Canon 1 again. You won't find the word "literally" there, and that is the word I used in my dialoge with FCFC. "Literally" means you actually see the blood; "Substantially" means the blood is there but you do not see it. So the conclusion that we don't eat literal blood in the Eucharist is correct. Stop fighinting us and join the true Church, Alan. Time is short.


Question 32Question 60- Baptism of Desire St Emerentiana Revisited, Part 2

Michael R: Robert, though I did not expect you to enter into a protracted debate, I must admit to being disappointed in your response. Dogmatic definitions are not my “opinion”, they are the infallible word of God and neither you nor anyone else can render an “opinion” against the clear words proscribed based on your misinterpretation of Trent, Session Six, Chapter IV. You have always maintained that when a particular passage in a council document is prone to an interpretation at variance with Church teaching, Catholics must interpret this contested, confusing or ambiguous passage only in light of tradition and divine revelation; yet when push comes to shove you cling to an “opinion” which directly contradicts defined dogma. Furthermore, first you say “that Trent is an infallible council, and it trumps any opinion, whether it is yours, mine or any Father or Doctor of the Church”, but follow that with “Until if and when the Church wants to clarify what she means by ‘desire,’ all discussion reaches no higher than a dubia.”

Are you suggesting that the Church needs to clarify what it means by “desire” despite your insistence that Trent has dogmatically defined that “desire…is a contingency to the laver”? Which is it Robert; why suggest that the Church may wish to clarify what it means by “desire” if, as you maintain, the Church has already infallibly defined that the sacrament of baptism is not necessary to all because it can be replaced by the “contingency” of “desire”? Is it possible that you do in fact recognize that your interpretation, your “opinion”, may not be consistent with what the Church has repeatedly defined elsewhere? It sounds like you’re not so sure of yourself after all, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but you sound just like the SBC NH, who also holds that while one may reach a state of justification prior to baptism (though, according to them, being a sanctified joint-heir with Christ is not sufficient for salvation - go figure), we will need the Church to further define what it means by “desire” because of the confusion this one passage has caused.

I simply cannot understand why you do not follow your own advice in this regard and interpret Session Six, Ch IV in light of what the Church has previously defined and in accordance with what she has always taught. Do the speculative “opinions” of modernist theologians and the contradictory propositions and opinions of some saints and theologians trump the infallible word of God and the constant traditions of the Church? Can you cite even one, just ONE dogmatic or magisterial document of the Church which supports your contention that what Trent is proposing in this one particular passage is that there is a “contingency” to the laver of regeneration called “desire” – meaning that the sacrament of baptism is of only relative necessity?

Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Holy baptism, which is the gateway to the spiritual life, holds the first place among all the sacraments; through it we are made members of Christ and of the body of the Church. And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot,’ as the Truth says, ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]. The matter of this sacrament is real and natural water.” (Denzinger 696; Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1, p. 542.)

Pope Clement V, Council of Vienne, 1311-1312, ex cathedra: “Besides, one baptism which regenerates all who are baptized in Christ must be faithfully confessed by all just as ‘one God and one faith’ [Eph. 4:5], which celebrated in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit we believe to be commonly the perfect remedy for salvation for adults as for children.” (Denzinger 482.)

Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, On Original Sin, Session V, ex cathedra: “By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death... so that in them there may be washed away by regeneration, what they have contracted by generation, ‘For unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God [John 3:5].” (Denzinger 791; Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 2, pp. 666-667)
Session VII, On the Sacrament of Baptism, Canon 5: “If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.”

Session VI - Decree On Justification, Ch. III, Who are justified through Christ: “But, though He died for all, yet do not all receive the benefit of His death, but those only unto whom the merit of His passion is communicated. For as in truth men, […] if they were not born again in Christ, they never would be justified; seeing that, in that new birth, there is bestowed upon them, through the merit of His passion, the grace whereby they are made just.”

Tell me Robert, is it an “opinion” to maintain that the sacrament of Baptism is necessary to all for salvation when it has been repeatedly and dogmatically defined by the Church? Is it an “opinion” to confess that as Catholics we must profess only one baptism which regenerates all who are baptized in Christ… which celebrated in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit we believe to be commonly the perfect remedy for salvation”? Is there another common and “less than perfect” remedy? Is it an “opinion” to believe with Divine and Catholic faith that “…unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”? Is it an “opinion” to hold that only unto whom the merit of His passion is communicated receive the benefit of His death and that without being “born-again” in the laver of regeneration, no one is ever justified?

R. Sungenis: Michael, rest assured I hold to the above quotes from the Magisterium. I use them all the time. What you are not quite understanding is that someone who receives the laver by "desire" has fulfilled the requirement of receiving water baptism. That is what Trent means by the word "or." Unfortunately, it is your vain attempt to separate the desire for baptism from the laver of baptism that is causing all the problem. That is what happens when you start out with a false presupposition, and you have been building on that fallacious foundation since you started this dialogue.


Question 31James White

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
Thank you for your articles on James White. It is because of Calvinists like Mr. White that I call Calvinism the "Miracle Religion": It takes vile rotting dead corpses (sinners) and PRESTO turns them into ego maniacs! Have you written anything that addresses all five points of Calvinism?
Kavi C

R. Sungenis: Kavi, that's about the best assessment I've seen in all my years! Congratulations on succinctly placing Calvinism where it belongs.
Yes, I've written quite a bit on it -- all published in my books Not By Faith Alone (Chapter 7) and How Can I Get to Heaven (Chapter 8).
God be with you.


Question 30Good Job against White

You're one of the best Catholic Apologists, I pray that you'll fully get back into the mainstream and have all of the "Apologists" working together to set ablaze the evangelization of the Catholic Church. Pray to God, that we may be humble work together as a team, we're all Catholics and we all have a mission to accomplish!
Pray Globally
Act Locally

R. Sungenis: Chris, thank you for the commendation. And yes, it would be nice to see all the Catholic apologists working together. Let's hope that Pope Benedict will help mend the rift.


Question 29Responding to modern Catholics, Part 3

Can you point me to some reliable sources that look closely at the solemn liturgies of old? Thank you.

R. Sungenis: Yes, Erdmans set on the Fathers (Ante-Nicene Fathers) Volume 7 has several liturgies of the Early Church.


Question 28De Marco's plan for peace in the Middle East

Dear Mr. Sungenis, I read your article in the Remnant about the neo-catholic alliance and I do agree with your assessment? Is there a solution to the crisis in the middle east. I am sending you a piece called "The Holy Land: Only God can Save It. Do you believe this article has any credibility, and if so, what do you think of the so called "Jerusalem Accord" by Mr. De Marco? I would appreciate your taking the time to answer me on this as I have a conference in DC about the middle east. Thank you for your time and God Bless. Michele S

R. Sungenis: Michele, if De Marco's wish for concessions on both sides is possible, then in my opinion he has a workable solution. Like a marriage, both sides have to give, and give a lot. A Palestinian state would go a long way in pacifying the militant Muslims; while defined and irrevocable boundaries for the state of Israel will go a long way in eliminating the threat they possess to the whole Middle East.

Whether De Marco's goals can be realized, however, is another story altogether. To "give" both sides have to respect the other's religion (whether they agree with it or not). Dignitatis Humanae at least taught us that much. Once that is established, then a peaceful co-existence can be promulgated.
Unfortunately, the religious convictions on both sides run so deep that the respective sides may not want to respect each other. The Muslims need to stop hating everybody who isn't Muslim (Ezk 35:5); and the Israelis need to stop thinking that the promises to Abraham still apply to them, and cease following the thoughts of David Ben Gurion who promised the Knesset in 1948 to great applause that Israel would someday occupy the land of Solomon once again. That is ludicrous. Those promises were fulfilled long ago and there is no more land divinely owed to the Jews (Josh 21:43-45; Neh 9:7-8; 1 Kings 8:56). What they have today is by international concession, and they should be happy with it. Once Israel stops trying to stretch their borders; and ceases trying to deny the Palestinians a safe haven in their own state, the Muslims are always going to mistrust the Jews, and carry this mistrust to the extreme by wishing Israel would be pushed into the sea. That is their nature. It's either all or nothing with them. They use human bombs to prove it.


Question 27 The Sabbath changed to Sunday, Part 3

Please do not assume that i am arguing with you. My question was: Are Sabbath keeping Christians saved? The seventh day Sabbath is not just a mosaic law. It is part of the Ten Commandments. Moreover, it was instituted 1500 years before there was a jew on the planet (Genesis 2:3). and that was also before the rest of the commandments, and even before sin entered the world. The mosaic law was things like circumcision, the feast days, and every thing else that were a shadow of the fulfillment Jesus brought. You cannot say that it is wrong to keep the sabbath, if you think the other 9 commandmnets are binding. The abolishment of the ceremonial law did not touch the Ten COmmandments. Oh, and the Bible is, and says it is our ONLY source of teaching, and contains ALL the answers we need or could ever need.

R. Sungenis: No, you are quite wrong. The New Testament abolished ALL of the Old Covenant, legally and formally. Read the passages I gave you (Hebrews 7:18; 8, 7, 13; 10:9; 2 Cor 3:6-14; Romans 7:6, 8:1-3). But because the laws in the OT were good and ethical, the New Covenant appropriates them at its discretion. That is why, for example, St. Paul quotes some of the commandments in Romans 13:9-11, since he is inducting those commandments into the New Covenant, which is the only covenant that exists today. But you'll notice that neither St. Paul nor anyone else in the New Testament inductes the Sabbath law into the New Covenant. According to the Council of Florence, anyone who keeps the Sabbath, or any other law under the Old Covenant, as if the Old Covenant were still in force, will not inherit eternal life.


Question 26The Noble Bereans

Hi Zol...
I recieved your E mail and did read the part you spoke about..The Noble Bereans..P 130 - 137

I'll take for granted you agree with Sungenis on this..( or you wouldn't have given me the book to read )

Here's where I disagree with him..and what he said..
He takes this truth from God's word about how the Bereans in Acts 17:11..who searched the scriptures daily to see for themselves if what was being taught to them was truthful or not with what the ""already existing OT scriptures already said and taught"" ...and twists it out of shape..

Paul wasn't teaching a "new interpretation" of scripture or "his own interpretation" of Sungenis claims or hints at..Paul was using the OT teachings from scripture on Messiah to show that Jesus fulfilled the OT Prophesy/Teachings..Along with the fact that Paul was directly taught by Jesus Christ himself GAL 1:1 GAL 1:15:16..Paul therefore used only "scripture"..

RS: No, because Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, at which time Jesus introduced himself as the Messiah, something Paul did not know by reading the Old Testament. END

Paul was teaching in the Synagogues to Jewish people..See verses like Acts 9:20:22...They knew of the claims made by the church at Jerusalem about Jesus Christ and they had heard of the miracles done by Jesus Christ..Sungenis fails to add verses like those or others like Acts 2:5..Acts 2:22...where we hear the words of the Apostle Peter saying to all those "different people"..from different parts of the then known world..that Jesus Christ was known to them..they had seen his miracles..Jesus wasn't someone not known about..This was not done in secret is the point Zol..many people knew of or heard of Jesus..Acts 26:26 proves that also..! So Paul using scripture to teach about Jesus Christ and showing them that it all pointed to Jesus Christ ..who they already knew about and heard about..Isn't using "two different" things and it sure doesn't knock "sola scripture" out of the water..!

RS: Not according to the context of Acts 17. Paul was not in Jerusalem any longer. He was in Thessolonica and Berea, two places who had not yet heard his message. END

So for Sungenis to say that Paul was just "teaching a different interpretation" AND using the OT is out right ludicrous..For Sungenis to say that since Paul used more than just scripture to teach from and that somehow proves once and for all that "sola scripture" is wrong is just as ludicrous..Because Paul only used scripture to teach from AND what Jesus Christ personally taught him..The "words" that Jesus used to teach Paul..are just as much "scripture" as any OT writnings are..So whether it's Paul teaching what he was taught by Jesus..OR Paul teaching about Jesus from OT scriptures that pointed to Jesus..It's all the same..and no personal "interpretation" was used by Paul at all..He taught what Jesus Christ taught him..! That btw is what made him an Apostle.."a sent one"..In this case Paul was sent by Jesus Christ..!

RS: What is ludicrous is saying that Jesus words to Paul on the way to Damascus were Scripture. The book of Acts had not yet been written, so Jesus' words could not have been Scripture. The simple fact is that Paul had two sources of information: (1) Jesus' words, and (2) Old Testament Scripture. Paul put the two together for the Bereans, and he had the authority to do so. END

Yes...Paul was teaching them about Jesus Christ using the OT scriptures..Yes..Paul was showing them from the OT scriptures how Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah..Sungenis then tries to prove from that..that Paul didn't go by "scriptures alone" because he used OT scriptures AND his own knowledge/interpretation of Jesus..? Wrong..! Sungenis says since Paul used those two things.."scripture alone" isn't taught..that's nonsence..! The NT words of Jesus and OT Scripture are BOTH "the word of God"..See John 1:1...and John 1:14.."the word ( Jesus )..was made flesh and dwelt among us"..

RS: Same problem. Jesus' words were not Scripture, at least at that time. Only years after the incident with the Bereans did Jesus words to Paul become Scripture, that is, when Luke was inspired to make them part of Scripture. Prior to that, Jesus' words and OT Scripture were two separate entities. END

Sungenis cleverly leaves out these kind of verses in his presentation..One would have to stop and wonder why..?? The facts are Zol...that Jesus is the word..He's the Eternal word that was the Spoken word... that became the Written word that became the "Flesh word"..

He's the one who inspired the OT scriptures to be written down by his Phophets..He's the one who taught Paul directly after Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus..So when Paul was using scripture to prove "Jesus is the Messiah" the Bereans... Paul's only "interpretation" came directly from Jesus Christ himself...Paul was inspired by Jesus christ to preach the Gospel that Jesus taught him..Sungenis adeptly fails to bring into focus the "entire" teaching of scripture on this..Paul used nothing but the scriptures to teach about Jesus Christ..and what he taught others..was directly taught to him BY Jesus Christ..

So Sungenis is way off base here again in this book..No personal interpretation from scripture was ever made by Paul when he taught people about Jesus Christ..Unless you agree that Paul's letters aren't "inspired scripture"..?

RS: Same problem, as you can see for yourself.

Either way...Sungenis goes on to "micro analyze" the subject into the saying the Bereans needed at least "2" things..Paul and his witness of Jesus Christ..and Scripture..and therefore "sola scripture" is wrong..because at least 2 things are already being used..(( hinting at opening the flood doors to even more things being added whenever by whoever ..and thus allowing the RC position to add all they want to scripture ))

Zol using the same zany arguement this author Sungenis uses ..We could both agree to say ..Hey of course it's not sola need a person with a tongue..and you need a person that has working ears that can need a voice box to speak need oxygen..and you need that's at least 5 things..and therefore "sola scripture" is wrong..!

RS: Bogus arguments. Scripture never says it is the only authority, and neither does Paul in Acts 17. Paul himself says that the Church (1 Tim 3:15) and oral tradition (2 Thess 2:15) are also authorities.

He also "adds in" that at least 2 witnesses were needed to prove the "veracity of of a certain person or event"..That's a tad untrue with reguards to this particular subject and that's why he cleverly words it the way he did..He wrongly applies that OT subject to this one..TESTIMONY in a court was what you needed two witnesses get a conviction.. Not for someone teaching from scripture..For teaching from scripture all that you needed was the scriptures in front of you..! I find it ironic that he uses THIS subject about witnesses in a court of law type setting..yet applies it to support his conclusion here with the completely different subject of sola scripture..! Zol he's mixing apples and oranges..You didn't need two witnesses to prove what scripture already had written down..You needed two witnesses in a trial to convict someone of a crime..!

RS: You'll notice that he is making mere assertions without a shred of proof. Anyone can do that. Scripture is the one that says we need 2 or 3 witnesses to establish truth (2 Cor 13:1). END

I know you put alot of weight in his writings..But I'd say stick with what scripture says...and not his commentary on it..! He selectively leaves out alot of other verses that go against his teaching..or simply "rewords" verses to fit nicely into what he wants the reader to think..!

I'll get these books back to you..and I have a book you might want to look at..!

RS: If he really wants to obey Scripture, tell him to obey the fact that Scripture never claims to be the only authority, and that Scripture says that Church and Tradition are also authorities (Mt 16:18; 2 Thess 2:15).


Question 25Responding to modern Catholics, Part 2

Thank you for your reply. I have another question. Charismatic
Catholics always use the argument that in the early Church, Christians were more charismatic (raising of hands, etc, etc), thus they are returning to earlier tradition. How do I counter this?

R. Sungenis: They don't know what early Christians did. They merely have a stereotype image that they impose on people. If you read the liturgies of the early Church, they were solemn events. Even in St. Paul's day, it is evident that tongues speaking was way out of control, with people making up their experiences as they went along. This is precisely why St. Paul warned that excessive tongues speaking was actually a sign of God's judgment (1 Cor 14:20-22) and if anyone was given the gift, he must put it under tight control (1 Cor 14:26-33). Unfortunately, today we have masses of people claiming to speak in tongues, and that is the surest thing that it is not prompted by the Holy Spirit.


Question 24Apocalypse and recapitulation theory

Mr. Sungenis,
I have heard recenlty about the "recapitulation theory" close to your interpretation of the Apocalypse is the "recapitulation theory"?

R. Sungenis: John, the term "recapitulation" was coined by Premillennialists who wanted to categorize their opponents with a sterile word. Anyone who places Apocalypse 20 in the past is to them a "recapitulationist," since the Premillennialists see the Apocalypse as progressive, with Apocalypse 20 being in the distant future. This was not the teaching of the Catholic Church, which, following Augustine and the Council of Ephesus, placed Chapter 20 beginning at the Cross, also known as the Amillennial position.


Question 23The Sabbath changed to Sunday, Part 2

Dear Mr. Sugenis,

I am afraid you did not answer my question. And i need answers that will help people. Are Christians who purposefully keep the Sabbath Saved or unsaved? As for Acts 20:7: The apostles gathered every day of the week, and it says that he preached intil midnight. The Sabbath lasts from sunset to sunset, so paul was preaching on Sunday-Monday, as he did evey day, it was His job. Both the Jewish Christians (including Paul) kept the 7th day (Acts 18:1). But also, the Gentile Christians kept Sabbath day (Acts 13:44-45). Furthermore, read Paul's letter to the Hebrews (4:1-11) where he addresses them regarding the Sabbath day. Colossians 2:16 does not include the 4th commandment, but only the feast days (unleavened bread, firstfruits, etc)

As for 1 Corinthians 16:1-7: Have you ever studied the lifestyle of people in the Apostolic times? Paul told them to set aside thier tithes on the first day of the week, so they would not spend it throughout the week.

I do not mean to argue with you, but the scripture says what it says, and i want to understand if it is right to say sabbath keepers aren't saved. Becasue in the last generation, it might be just the opposite. We may have to choose between sabbath and sunday (Revelation 14: 11-12)

Special note to you Mr. Sugenis,

Jesus is the Lord of Sabbath (Mark 2:28, Romans 9:29-30). the 7th day has always been the Sabbath, and will always be forever (Isaiah 66:22-23). Jesus did not change the sabbath ( Matthew 5:17-18) nor would He ever (Psalm 89:34). Why is Jesus Lord of the Sabbath? Because it is a sign between us and God for ever (Exodus 31:16, 17, Galatians 3:29). If we keep the sabbath we acknowledge that God created the world, and we are his people. If we keep another day we give all that glory to another, in this case Sun -day. Why would the devil create so much confusion about the sabbath? Becasue God was not joking when he said the Sabbath is a sign between Him and us:

Strongs Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary:

Root of Sabbath = Sab + ath

Root of Sab = ab = Father

Root of ath = oth = sign.

Sabbath = Father's sign.

Sunday is the popes sign, Sabbath is God's sign, which do you want? Which will you teach God's flock to take?

"Now these are the commandments..." Deut 6:1
"And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes" Deut. 6:8

One more thing about Matthew 16:18-19:

The Catholic Church cannot be the church of Matthew 16:18-19, becasue Isaiah 8:20 says "To the law and to the Testimony: If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them". And John 16:2-3 says: "...yea the time cometh that he who killeth you will think he doeth God a service. And these things they will do unto you, becasue they have not known the Father nor me".

Thanks for any insight!

R. Sungenis: I answered your question. The answer is that Scripture is not the only authority, since it never claims to be. The Church decided that the first day of the week was proper for worship, not Saturday, since Saturday was associated with the obsolete Mosaic Law. There is no more Mosaic law that binds us (Heb 7:18; 8:7, 13; 10:9), so if you claim we are legally bound to it, then you have cursed yourself (Gal 5:1-4). Stop putting your trust in Ellen White, the false prophet. There is only one true Church.


Question 22Head Coverings for women

Mr. Sugenis,
I wondered if you had ever posted my other questions regarding Mr. Larson and I also had something about the third secret of Fatima in it. See below for that question which you were going to place on your site titled "Vatican II’s Death Warrant on the Modern Church".

Now here is my new question. I am a traditional Catholic woman who agrees that women should wear head coverings in Church. St. Paul said that we should and this was how things were always done before Vatican II before the sexual revolution which led to the decimation of the traditional roles of men and women and the demise of the traditional family to a large extent. You wrote a paper on head coverings but I found this on the internet below and according to this following web site the Vatican did repeal a rule on the requirement for headcoverings for women. What document are they talking about which I have placed for you below in quotation marks and was this truly repealed as the site claimed. Perhaps you could ask the web master what the (WSJ, 10/8/97, p.A1) stands for.

Timeline Vatican Ccity
... 1949 Jul 13, Pope Pius XII excommunicated communist Catholics. (MC, 7/13/02)
1950 Apr 18, Polish Catholic church and government signed an accord over ... - 155k - Apr 4, 2005 - Cached - Similar pages

I found this on the above site

"1960 A rule that required women to wear head coverings in churches was repealed. (WSJ, 10/8/97, p.A1) "

{It was very unclear to me what the abbreviations stood for.} see
God bless you and your work and please let me know when your debate with Gerry Matatics is over the validity of the N.O. Mass.
Kathy Willett Redle

R. Sungenis: Kathy, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I've dropped the ball. Just too many things on my plate right now. As for the issue of headcoverings above, WJS stands for Wall Street Journal. Apparently, the WSJ had an article dated 10-8-97 on the front page which cited a source from the Vatican in 1960 saying that the head covering law was repealed. My guess is this is referring to Annibale Bugnini's statement that the press carried worldwide, since he was the only one who spoke on the issue at that time. In my article, I point out that Bugnini must have said something unofficially that made the reporters think the Church was going to repeal the law, but no such official statement was issued. In fact, Bugnini admitted in 1969 that those who interpreted his comments as suggesting such a repeal were wrong, and that the "discipline," as he called it in 1969, "remains in force."


Question 21- Essay on Contraception

Dear Brother Sungenis,

Though not a Catholic, I share your church’s view on contraception. In fact, my wife and I have experienced nothing but ridicule and enmity from the world of modern Protestants. We have to distribute our material in secret and are forbidden to openly teach on it. The pastor of a great bible church – Denton Bible Church, Denton, Texas – had this to say concerning my pleas to teach on contraception:

“Our church leaves it up to the individual. I won’t allow anyone at DBC to teach pro or con on birth control. I leave it a personal issue, so no one is giving them any input on this issue, nor will they.”

I thought there was only a pope in the Catholic Church but it appears we have them everywhere – and not nearly so learned or full of grace.

I have attached my essay for your consideration.

The Lord richly bless you,

Hadley R, M.Div. etc.
Elder & Lay Pastor (on sabbatical)
Baptist Church

R. Sungenis: Hadley, thank you for your fine essay. You prove that contraception is intrinsically evil. I'm sorry you are having such a hard time with your colleagues. Incidentally, the teaching against contraception is why many people are drawn to the Catholic Church. I hope you will consider it as well. God be with you.


Question 20The March of Dimes


My wife's company has asked her to pariticpate with a function called March of Dimes which helps premature babies. My wife is part of the company's Exchange Club and they deal with March of Dimes every year. My wife said she had heard that March of Dimes supports stem-cell research from a friend of hers. She is going to research it tonight to find out for sure, but if it is true that March of Dimes supports stem-cell research, should my wife in good conscience not help out with organizing March of Dimes? She wants to know. As far as I'm concerned, if it supports stem-cell research, then we should not involve ourselves with it at all. Your thoughts?

God bless...

R. Sungenis: I would not recommend supporting the March of Dimes. They also advocate abortion on demand. It is not a Christian organization, in the least.


Question 19Media misrepresents Catholic position on birth control

Last night I was watching Scarborough Country with guests Pat Buchanan and carl Bernstein. Pat was doing a good job explaining the positions of the Church but then Bernstein had some comments. He said that Paul IV ordered a commission on birth control to determine whether "the prohibition on birth control should be lifted." He then went on to say that it was Pope John Paul II (then Bishop) who convinced Paul IV to keep the prohibition in place. He also says that the prohibition on birth control came into being much later in the Church and not from the beginning as Buchanan stated.

(I've heard that a hundred times) Then he went on to say that the Church can change its position etc. Buchanan did not get an opportunity to respond because of a commercial. How would you have responded? Also, how do we prove that the Church has been against birth control from the beginning? Have you written any articles on this? If not, will you, or can you direct us to some? I am sure this subject is going to come up with Protestant friends and I want to respond with facts. Thanks

R. Sungenis: Amy, the Church hadn't addressed "birth control" in the sense of artificial birth control previous to Pius XI since there were no artificial methods prior to then. Except for coitus interruptus, birth control was unheard of. In that light, any attempt to prohibit sexual intercourse by mechanical manipulation was condemned by the Fathers. For example:
Augustine: "This proves that you approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion" (Against the Manicheans 18, 65).

"You make your auditors adulterers of their wives when they take care lest the women with whom they copulate conceive. They take wives according to the laws of matrimony by tablets announcing that the marriage is contracted to procreate children; and then, fearing because of your law...they copulate in a shameful union only to satisfy lust for their wives. They are unwilling to have children, on whose account alone marriages are made. How is it, then, that you are not those prohibiting marriage, as the apostle predicted of you so long ago, when you try to take from marriage what marriage is? When this is taken away, husbands are shameful lovers, wives are harlots, bridal chambers are brothels, fathers-in-law are pimps" (Against Faustus 15, 7).
"For thus the eternal law, that is, the will of God creator of all creatures, taking counsel for the conservation of natural order, not to serve lust, but to see to the preservation of the race, permits the delight of mortal flesh to be released from the control of reason in copulation only to propagate progeny" (22, 30).

"For necessary sexual intercourse for begetting is alone worthy of marriage. But that which goes beyond this necessity no longer follows reason but lust. And yet it pertains to the character of yield it to the partner lest by fornication the other sin damnably...They must not turn away from them the mercy of changing the natural use into that which is against nature, which is more damnable when it is done in the case of husband or wife. For, whereas that natural use, when it pass beyond the compact of marriage, that is, beyond the necessity of begetting, is pardonable in the case of a wife, damnable in the case of a harlot; that which is against nature is execrable when done in the case of a harlot, but more execrable in the case of a wife. Of so great power is the ordinance of the Creator, and the order of creation, that...when the man shall wish to use a body part of the wife not allowed for this purpose, the wife is more shameful, if she suffer it to take place in her own case, than if in the case of another woman" (The Good of Marriage 11–12).

"I am supposing, then, although you are not lying with your wife for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility... Assuredly if both husband and wife are like this, they are not married, and if they were like this from the beginning they come together not joined in matrimony but in seduction. If both are not like this, I dare to say that either the wife is in a fashion the harlot of her husband or he is an adulterer with his own wife" (Marriage and Concupiscence 1, 15, 17).

Chrysostom: "Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility, where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well...Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and fight with his laws?...Yet such turpitude...the matter still seems indifferent to many men - even to many men having wives. In this indifference of the married men there is greater evil filth; for then poisons are prepared, not against the womb of a prostitute, but against your injured wife. Against her are these innumerable tricks" (Homily on Romans, 24).

"In truth, all men know that they who are under the power of this disease are wearied even of their father’s old age; and that which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome. Many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live" (Homily on Matthew 28, 5).
"The man who has mutilated himself, in fact, is subject even to a curse, as Paul says, ‘I would that they who trouble you would cut the whole thing off.’ And very reasonably, for such a person is venturing on the deeds of murderers, and giving occasion to them that slander God’s creation, and opens the mouths of the Manicheans, and is guilty of the same unlawful acts as they that mutilate themselves among the Greeks. For to cut off our members has been from the beginning a work of demonical agency, and satanic device, that they may bring up a bad report upon the works of God, that they may mar this living creature, that imputing all not to the choice, but to the nature of our members, the more part of them may sin in security as being irresponsible, and doubly harm this living creature, both by mutilating the members and by impeding the forwardness of the free choice in behalf of good deeds" (62, 3).

"Observe how bitterly he speaks against their deceivers...‘I would that they which trouble you would cut the whole thing off’ [Gal. 5:12]...On this account he curses them, and his meaning is as follows: ‘For them I have no concern, "A man that is heretical after the first and second admonition refuse." If they will, let them not only be circumcised but mutilated.’ Where then are those who dare to mutilate themselves, seeing that they draw down the apostolic curse, and accuse the workmanship of God, and take part with the Manichees?" (Commentary on Galatians 5:12).

Jerome: "But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?" (Against Jovinian 1, 19).

"You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives. Others, indeed, will drink sterility and murder a man not yet born..." (Letters 22, 13).

Clement of Alexandria: "Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted" (The Instructor 2, 10, 91, 2).

"To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature" (2, 10, 95, 3).

Hippolytus: "...on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, they use drugs of sterility or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been engendered" (Refutation of All Heresies 9,12)
Lactantius: "complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power...or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife" (Divine Institutes 6, 20).

"God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital [’generating’] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring" (6,23, 18).

Epiphanius: "They exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption" (Against Heresies 26, 5, 2).

The Council of Nicea maintained the same condemnation in an indirect way:
Council of Nicaea I: "Anyone in sound health has castrated himself, it behooves that such a one, if enrolled among the clergy, should cease, and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who willfully do the thing and presume to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men this canon admits to the clergy" (Canon 1).


Question 18Mass Attendance and Dave Armstrong


I'm a traditionalist Catholic in central Illinois who attends a SSPX church in St. Louis, Mo once a month. I do not currently attend a Novus Ordo service here in Illinois or elsewhere. But lately I've been having some real problems with my positions on mass attendance. I want to be a faithful Catholic, but I'm torn up inside about a lot of issues. I hope you can help.

1. I want to start attending weekly mass in my area again, but I'm confused about the validity of the new form of the sacraments. We have a weekly Latin Mass in the Peoria, Il. area, but in order to take communion, we have to go to confession. But the sacrament of penance in the Novus Ordo seems totally different from the traditional one. The confessional booth in my parish, (Morton,Il.) is called a reconcilation room and it looks like a psychologist office. Is the Novus Ordo verision of this sacrament even valid? Since we don't have a Traditionalist parish in Central Illinois where I can go to confession, this is a serious question for me.

2. As I've already said, we have weekly Latin Masses in my area. However, the diocese has them at inconvenient times, so it may not be possible to attend every week. This brings us to the Novus Ordo. I've read the articles on Tradito and other sites that claim it's invalid because it is not in Latin, that it drops important prayers from the mass, communion is in the hand and not in the mouth, the priest faces the people and not the altar, a table replaces the altar, and the N.O. was invented by Masons and Protestants. (My own personal observation about N.O. is it doesn't have the beauty of the traditional mass. Why didn't they just say the traditional mass in the English translation that's provided in the missals?) Cn you show me from sound sources that the N.O. is valid?

3. One of the reasons I detest the N.O. is that I notice on many N.O. websites like Dave Armstrong's, they seem to hate anyone who is a traditional Catholic or converts to traditionalism like you and Matics did.

And your not even attending a SSPX chapel! Why do they attack you and other who go traditional?

Bob, I hope to hear from you soon, for I really need some good answers.

Steve D

R. Sungenis: Steve, the Novus Ordo is a valid Mass, and so are the confessions administered by its priests. As for the Dave Armstrong group, each of us has to make a decision when we see the corruption in the Catholic Church: Are we going to look the other way, or are we going to point it out? Dave is on the former side; I'm on the latter. It's as simple as that.


Question 17Responding to modern Catholics

Dr. Sungenis,

I currently attend Franciscan University of Steubenville. I am almost finished with my second semester and I'll tell you, I don't know how much more of this I can take. When I first transferred here, I was an ignorant Catholic...Franciscan University opened up my eyes quickly, but not in the fashion I had imagined. To illustrate my ignorance, I didn't even know the charismatic mess existed before I came out here.

However, I plan on toughing it out for one more year, all with a grain of salt granted. Here are some of the problems I see (you probably know about them anyway):

Use of extraordinary ministers (no excuse at this university where priests are everywhere, especially in our small chapel...on Sunday Mass they use about 6-10 extraordinary ministers)
Positioning of the tabernacle (the tabernacle is on the left side
barely visible if at all without some manuevering, behind the lectern and another structure) Choir (drums! the great Amen is all messed up, positioning of the choir very close to the sanctuary - this puts a lot of attention on them, modern music, r and b type's like going to a concert) Father John Gordon (charismatic priest who speaks in tongue throughout Mass, as a prehomily that starts the Mass, acts like a southern baptist by saying things like "I can't hear your Amen!" followed by a loud Amen by the congregation...etc.) I'm sure there are plenty more but my intention was just to ask you a question...clearly I need someone to vent to, perhaps you can comment on these things as well.

My question concerns reception of the Eucharist in the hand. I
believe it is wrong but I do not know how to defend my position. I was speaking to two other students about this yesterday and they did not agree with me, not surprisingly. There argument was basically that the Church permitted this and so it cannot be wrong because the Holy Spirit guides the Church. I gave them several reasons why reception through the mouth is more preferrable however I told them I would get back to them on the issue of the Church allowing reception on the hand. How would you respond Dr. Sungenis?
Thank you for your time,

R. Sungenis: Sinh, unfortunately, a lot of people go to Franciscan University because of the popularity of Scott Hahn. Then they find out too late what kind of show-n-tell, free-for-all Catholicism is housed in its doors. You have seen Neo-Catholicism at its finest, only Franciscan University has the added flavor of out-of-control charismania.

As for Eucharist in the hand, if the sale of the Eucharist on E-Bay is not enough to convince your friends that communion should only be placed in the mouth by a priest, then there is no hope for them. They have lost all sense of the sacred.


Question 16The Sabbath changed to Sunday

While reading your section on "Judizers" in the Church, i noticed the quote from the council of Chalcedon: "All, therefore, who after that time observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation". Does this mean that if a Christian keeps the Sabbath purposefully, they cannot go to heaven? That is all fine and dandy, but could you please show me in the bible specifically where the Sabbath was changed from the 7th day to the first day? Becasue the Clergy often admits that saturday is the sabbath, but we are required to keep Sunday. Is this one of those teachings which we have to trust the church fathers on and have faith? Thanks for any insight!

R. Sungenis: The Bible doesn't have to say it explicitly, since the Bible itself says it is not our only authority (Mt 16:18-19; 1 Tim 3:15; 2 Thess 2:15). The Bible, in many instances, is merely a witness, historically, to what the Church decided (e.g., The Council of Jerusalem's discontinuing of circumcision, even though the Bible never commanded it). In the case of the Sabbath transferring to Sunday, we have testimony in Scripture (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:1-2) that this is, indeed, what the Church decided.


Question 15- Indefectibility versus Cardinal Ratzinger

I understand not everything taught by the church is dogma and to be considered infallible but is taught and considered to be binding the believer until we are told otherwise. Examples of this would include the subject matter of encyclicals. So it seems to me that your answer saying the "anaphora of Mari was not made into Catholic dogma" may yet still be binding on catholics until we are told otherwise by the church magesterium. I dont see how you or any one outside the bishops and the pope can say otherwise on such a fundamental issue as the sacraments. Please help me here as I may well be wrong, after all the charge of apostasy (of Ratzinger and Kasper) is to be taken very seriously.

R. Sungenis: Phil, such things are not binding on us unless the Magisteriums tells us they are binding, especially when the action is done by two cardinals with no official approval by the pope.


Question 14On Question 60- Baptism of Desire St Emerentiana Revisited

Dear Robert,
I have also been reading with growing concern your claims and the claims of others on your CAI website who don’t seem to understand the childlike, simple proposition solemnly declared by our Lord in John 3:5: “Amen Amen I say to you, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost he will not see the kingdom of Heaven.”

R. Sungenis: Michael, I'm not really interested in anyone's opinion on this matter. Trent is an infallible council, and it trumps any opinion, whether it is yours, mine or any Father or Doctor of the Church. We can debate all day about what "tradition" says. The bottom line is: what has the infallible Council, affirmed by the pope, stated as to the meaning and application of that tradition? They have clearly said that the laver, or the desire for the laver, procures justification. Until if and when the Church wants to clarify what she means by "desire," all discussion reaches no higher than a dubia, including yours and mine. And until that time, I will maintain that there is a contingency to the laver, since Trent made that clear in the word "desire."


Question 13Is Baptism Necessary for Everyone to be Saved?

Dear Robert,

I refer to "Question 26- Is Baptism Necessary for Everyone to be Saved?" in the March 2005 Q&A and your answer "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."

From what you say, Robert, I would say you are not sure. You have said that we must leave the destiny of others to God's inscrutable will, and indeed we must. God has clearly and univocally stated His inscrutable will "Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:5 speaking to Nicodemus) If this is not God's will what is?
Paul M

R. Sungenis: Paul, God's will is that we also interpret John 3:5 correctly, and that only comes through the Church that God ordained, not you or me. Since the Church has quoted John 3:5 both in reference to the laver of regeneration and the desire for it (as it has also done for John 20:23 in that the Church both allows a formal confession and the desire for a formal confession as providing absolution, per Trent), then that means John 3:5 can be satisfied in more than one way. Until if and when the Church decides to define what the "desire" for Baptism constitues, I will reserve my opinion as to its application. Thus, what you interpret as me being "not sure," I regard as deferring to the Church, and ultimately to God. I hope you understand.


Question 12Mass in the Vernacular

Dear Robert,

Dominus vobiscum! While reading through my Denzinger, "The Sources of Catholic Dogma," I noticed that the Mass in the vernacular is condemned more than once. For example, paragraph number 946 (from Trent) says, "it has nevertheless not seemed expedient to the Fathers that it [the Mass] be celebrated everywhere in the vernacular." And number 956 (again from Trent) reads, "If anyone says ... that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular only ... let him be anathema." And finally, number 1566 says, "The proposition ... if understood to signify introducing of the use of popular language into the liturgical prayers, - false, rash, disturbing to the order prescribed for the celebration of the mysteries, easily productive of many evils."

As to being able to change Church dogmas, number 1800 reads, "its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained ..." And number 1818 says, "If anyone shall have said that it is possible that to the dogmas declared by the Church a meaning must sometimes be attributed ... different from that which the Church has understood ... let him be anathema."

This seems to indicate that the Mass in the vernacular is under the Church's (and therefore God's) curse. If that is true, should we not avoid it?

Eric B
Cincinnati, Ohio

R. Sungenis: Eric, although I love the Latin Mass and wish it were the only one, alas, the pope does have the right to add the vernacular. None of the above statements prohibit him from doing so. For example, 946 only says that Father's thought it "expedient," which does not equate to dogma. 956 is only concerned about someone who says that the Mass should ONLY be in the vernacular. 1566 is certainly a discipline, not a dogma. Not being a dogma, then 1800 and 1818 certainly do not apply.

Now, if we were talking about whether it is proper to use the consecration formula in the Mass, that certainly is dogma. But whether the consecration is said in the vernacular or Latin is not a dogma.


Question 11Biblical Exegesis

Mr. Sungenis,

This is a question of clarification. In one of your articles refuting Fr. Brown's scriptural interpretation 'style', you seem to intimate that his study of the perpetual virginity of Mary means that he concludes that it never happened.

"...Scripture is saying something different than what traditional Catholic dogma has taught, including his entertaining of the idea that Scripture does not support Mary's perpetual virginity...."

Is this correct? If it is not, then please forgive this inquiry. If it is, then are you forgetting Tradition in favor of only Scripture? To state that Scripture does not support something is not to say that Tradition does not. I believe that Fr. Brown's conclusion was (and please correct me if I am wrong) that in the one case, Scripture, nothing could conclusively be proven using the historical criticism method. For that reason, Tradition dictates that the doctrine be upheld.

I can only say for myself that all three legs of the stool must be considered when understanding any Church doctrine. When I lack understanding, even after study I feel that it is important to rest in the deep history of Church teachings, hoping one day, maybe even a day while I am still on earth, that I will receive a fuller understanding. If Father Brown teaches, as you seem to suggest, that Church teaching is in error because it fails to see some sort of external fact or fails some sort of historical-critical lithmus test then I would be loath to listen to it, but it seems that Fr. Brown does not do this.

If I have characterized your argument incorrectly, or have misunderstood your meaning then please take a moment and correct me as I would hate to abandon any guide because of a lack of understanding on my part.

Sincerely in Christ

R. Sungenis: Your objection is understood and appreciated. I wish that were all that Fr. Brown is doing. If you read the rest of what I've written, Fr. Brown has a bad habit of raising insidious questions as to whether we must believe in, for example, Mary's perpetual virginity (and a host of other issues). As such, he creates doubt in the mind of the uninformed. That is wrong.

Second, with the perpetual virginity of Mary, Brown accepts all the Protestant arguments from Scripture against its validity. This comes natural to Brown because he was trained and taught at a Protestant seminary, Union Theological in New York. I know how these scholars think because I was taught by them at George Washington University as a Religion major. And I can tell you this, from an exegetical standpoint: there arguments denying the perpetual virginity of Mary, based on their exegesis of Scripture, is entirely bogus. Unfortunately, Fr. Brown fed right into it. A good Catholic will start with the validity of the doctrine from Tradition and the Magisterium, and then seek to form his understanding of Scripture around it. This methodology opens up a whole new vista of biblical exegesis, since the scholar can now use the information from his biblical exegesis to support the doctrine rather than cast doubt upon it. This is precisely how I wrote my books (Not By Faith Alone, Not By Bread Alone, and Not By Scripture Alone), and it was amazing to see how the information supporting Catholic doctrine began to flow out of Scripture. I did the same thing with the perpetual virginity of Mary in my book The Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, Matthew, vol. 1. Fortunately or unfortunately, one's attitude toward and estimation of Scripture is going to have a great effect on what one finds in Scripture.
And this leads to the third, an even more important problem with Brown, that is, his casting doubt upon Scripture's support of various Catholic doctrines by questioning the validity and accuracy of Scripture's testimony, holding, for example, that Scripture is not God's direct choice of words but man's choice of words under spiritual influence, and thus contains historical errors. Thus, Brown can demote or neutralize almost anything Scripture says by claiming that it contains bias or error. This is precisely what he does with Mary's virginity and a host of other traditional beliefs. Once you claim that Scripture contains errors, then it becomes the wax nose that you can mold any way you like. That, I'm sorry to say, is the modus operandi of modern exegesis, with Brown as it torchbearer.


Question 10Romans 5:12

Hello, I came across your website and I was wondering if you can help me understand what St. Paul is saying in Romans 5:12. I am having a discussion with a member of the churches of Christ and he insists that Romans 5:12 says that death is not the consequence of an inherited sin from Adam, but from our own personal sin. What does St. Paul mean when he says "death came to all men, because all sinned"? Is he attributing death to our own personal sins? When he says "all", are we to understand infants to be included? Does Paul's theology address infants? After all, they have not committed any personal sin and therefore should not merit death as my friend interprets Romans 5:12. What exactly is the relationship, for Paul, between Adam's sin, our personal sins, and death? And what kind of death is he speaking of: physical, spiritual, or both?

Thank You

God Bless

R. Sungenis: We have treated this verse extensively in our Internet Bible Study series. Instead of explaining it here, I will give you the link to the Bible study on Romans 5:12. Just click below.

CAI Bible Study


Question 9What do you think about the "little blue Pieta prayer book"?

What do you think about the "little blue Pieta prayer book"?
Travis in Boise Idaho

R. Sungenis: It is a good devotional book. More people should read it.


Question 81 Thess 4:13

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I will indeed take into consideration your suggestions, as I can definitely see where you are coming from in saying that Catholic Universities are corrupt. Thank you for your prompt reply, and I appreciate your bluntness. I would like to inquire a second question on 1 Thessalonians 4:13 and the Fundamentalist view on the rapture. I have always interpreted "fallen asleep" as Matthew 27 version in which Christ ascends to heaven with the deceased Jews. However, Paul's epistles were written after the Matthew 27 who is Paul talking about when he says those who have fallen asleep? Thanks.
Thanks again for your time,
Remington T

R. Sungenis: Remington, Paul is speaking about all the Christians who have died before the Second Coming whose bodies remain in the graves but their souls have been with Christ in heaven since their death. John 5:28-29; John 6:39-40 tells us their bodies will be raised on the last day. The people who rose from the dead in Matt 27:53 were only a select group for the purpose of providing authentication to Christ's own resurrection.


Question 7 Temple Gaurd

I am in a debate with an agnostic. We are down to the guards that were posted at Jesus's tomb. Do we know whether they were Jewish temple guards or Roman soldiers? Please give me the sources also if you have them.


R. Sungenis: James, we know they were Roman guards because the Jews had to ask Pilate for permission to have guards posted. The Jews were not under Pilate's conscription, and no Jew would want to be, except the tax collectors.


Question 6Altar Girls


Where exactly has the church permitted altar girls and can a bishop force a priest to have them?

steve s

R. Sungenis: John Paul II's apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem. Yes, a bishop can force his priest to have them. The only recourse a priest has is to appeal to the Vatican, but he won't get very far.


Question 5Catholic University and Does God love those in Hell

Dear CAI,
I greatly admire your site and the manner in which you answer questions, and your information has been a factor in me personally decide to reconcile myself to the Catholic Church. I will be attending a Catholic University next year and majoring in theology.

I was just inquiring as to a question I recently was asked: Does God love those in Hell?

Very briefly I will describe my thoughts on the above question.
I understand entirely that we, haven been given free will, choose the condition of eternal damnation which we call Hell. I believe God desires us to freely love Him and when we choose not to, and deny Him, He denies us (II Timothy 2:12). As such, does God love those in Hell?
Thanks for your time,
Remington T

R. Sungenis: Remington, congratulations on your coming back to the faith. One suggestion: if you want to keep your Catholic faith, don't go to Catholic University and major in Theology. It is one of the most corrupt theological institutions on the face of the earth. Like Notre Dame, it's the quickest way to lose the Catholic faith you just reacquired. If you still want to go to CUA, then become a philosophy major, not theology.

As for God's relation to hell, no, God does not love people in hell. God "hates" them (Ps 5:5; 11:5; Rom 9:13; Heb 12:16).


Question 4Time and Eternity

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
On your Q&A board you previously wrote, "time is merely the way we calibrate the difference between one moment and the next. We will still have one moment and the next in eternity, but the sequence of moments will go on forever. That is the only difference."

Romano Guardini wrote in his book Eternal Life:

"Ostensibly, eternity signifies time prolonged forever. This is a misconception we can hardly dispense with in ordinary thinking. ...Yet the authentic meaning of eternity is the abolition of time. That is easily said, but impossible to imagine. It can be grasped only intellectually, in the way a mathematical statement is grasped. ...Eternity then would be a state of life in which nothing just passes by, but all is simultaneously present, in which there is no succession of moments and events, but simultaneous happening only, yet which on account of the momentousness of the content and the intensity and perfection of experience precludes all tedium."

I also remember seeing once, a stand-up comic telling her audience about how she told her Catholic mother that a Jesuit told her that heaven is a prolonged instant and her mother slapped her.

How did you come to the conclusion that eternity is indeed a succession of moments? Is that the Church's official position? I trust your opinion very much and would be glad to have some sources, as Guardini’s statement has troubled me for a long time. Also, do you have any idea where Guardini got this notion from? What is your general opinion of Roman Guardini and William G. Most? God bless.


R. Sungenis: Joshua, the Church has not made a dogma out of how to understand eternity, and I’m sure they never will. As for Guardini’s view, I simply have to disagree, in toto. I think it is absurd to say that inhabitants of heaven experience “a state of life in which nothing just passes by, but all is simultaneously present, in which there is no succession of moments and events, but simultaneous happening only.” The basis for this erroneous idea stems, I believe, from Augustine. Augustine held that eternity was changeless based on an erroneous interpretation of Malachi 3:6 and his Platonic philosophy (specifically Plato’s view in the Timaeus in which he says that eternity is changeless).

According to the context, Malachi 3:6 is not talking about environmental changelessness, but about the unchanging character of God, a God who will always do what is right, whereas men are like shifting sand. Scripture pictures God as changing His mind in reaction to man’s free will decisions (e.g., Gn 6:6-7; Ex 32:12-14; Judg 2:18; 1Sam 15:11, 35; 2Sam 24:16; Jer 18:8, 10; 26:3, 13; 42:10; Ezk 18:21-23; Amos 7:3, 6; Jonah 3:9-10; 4:2; Zech 8:14), and thus in that sense He can change. In fact, we can say that God’s ability to change His mind with respect to man’s free will is due to the fact being able to do so is part of God’s unchanging nature.

Further, Scripture doesn’t picture God as a passive and timeless being but as an active agent in history. He is the living God, interacting with His creatures in intense communication (Gen 3:8-24; 12:1-7; 17:1-27). As such, His eternity is portrayed as time “everlasting” (Psalm 106:48; Isaiah 40:28) not as eternity without time. It is described as “without beginning or end,” not as a timeless void (Eccl 3:10; Rev 21:6; 22:13).

Even the language of Psalm 90:2 suggests such (“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting thou art God”), since there is a “before” (Hebrew: beserem) prior to the creation of the world. Obviously, God existed “before” he created the world.
The converse of is: if time was created simultaneous with the creation of the earth, consequently there would be no “time” in which the earth did not exist, and thus it would be co-eternal with God. We solve the problem by considering that God lives in an “infinity of time” rather than an eternity that is “timeless.”

In fact, the manifestation of the Incarnation is much more understandable coming from the perspective of an “infinity of time,” since now we can understand why Christ could undergo the change that would make him the God-man as opposed to being only divine. If Christ was “timeless,” then He wouldn’t be able to undergo such a change.

Similarly, Scripture does not portray heaven as a “timeless” place. Scripture portrays events as occurring in sequence in heaven (e.g., Lk 2:15; Jn 1:51; 1Pt 1:12; 3:22; Rv 6:9-10; 12:7; 22:4-5; Mt 18:2; Mk 12:27; Job 1:1-6). Not only do heaven’s inhabitants have time, they also have space. Heaven is “opened” and events occur in it (Ezk 1:1; Mk 1:10; Lk 3:21; Jn 1:51; Ac 10:11; Rv 11:19; 12:10-11; 15:5; 19:11). An angel can inhabit heaven and be displaced from it (Job 1:1-6; Rv 12:1-13). God, of course, fills all of space, both spiritual space and physical space, and He fills all of time, both in this world and in eternity. All things are present to God because He has complete control of time, not because there is no time in eternity.
For further information on these issue, please read Appendix 6 in my book Not By Bread Alone.


Question 3Trent Baptism of Desire and "Or"

Hi Robert,

Sorry, I have been distracted by another problem as I'm battling eBay over the sale of consecrated hosts. I run a full time business on eBay and stand to lose a large portion of my income if I don't manage to convince the auction site to find a way to shut down Jesus trafficking. Unwilling to disenfranchise the very smallest handful of morons, eBay seems only too willing to show disregard for millions of Catholics.

Below I collected several items showing the use of the word "or" in Trent as you wanted.

Here is the link to Trent: the passages are merely lifted from this site.

Therefore, let no one infringe this our letter of summons, announcement, convocation, statute, decree, command, precept and supplication, or with foolhardy boldness oppose it. But if anyone shall presume to attempt this, let him know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God and of His blessed Apostles Peter and Paul. Given at Rome at Saint Peter's in the year 1542 of the Lord's incarnation on the twenty-second of May, in the eighty year of our pontificate.
Hier. Dand.

And wishing, as is proper, to impose a restraint in this matter on printers also, who, now without restraint, thinking what pleases them is permitted them, print without the permission of ecclesiastical superiors the books of the Holy Scriptures and the notes and commentaries thereon of all persons indiscriminately, often with the name of the press omitted, often also under a fictitious press-name, and what is worse, without the name of the author, and also indiscreetly have for sale such books printed elsewhere, [this council] decrees and ordains that in the future the Holy Scriptures, especially the old Vulgate Edition, be printed in the most correct manner possible, and that it shall not be lawful for anyone to print or to have printed any books whatsoever dealing with sacred doctrinal mattes without the name of the author, or in the future to sell them, or even to have them in possession, unless they have first been examined and approved by the ordinary, under penalty of anathema and fine prescribed by the last Council of the Lateran.[7]

If anyone asserts that this sin of Adam, which in its origin is one, and by propagation, not by imitation, transfused into all, which is in each one as something that is his own, is taken away either by the forces of human nature or by a remedy other than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ,[9] who has reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, sanctification and redemption;[10] or if he denies that that merit of Jesus Christ is applied both to adults and to infants by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the Church, let him be anathema;

If anyone denies that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, are to be baptized, even though they be born of baptized parents, or says that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins,[14] but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam which must be expiated by the laver of regeneration for the attainment of eternal life, whence it follows that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins is to be understood not as true but as false, let him be anathema

The same holy council, adhering to the pious decisions of the sovereign pontiffs and of approved councils,[25] and accepting and adding to them, that the heavenly treasure of the sacred books which the Holy Ghost has with the greatest liberality delivered to men may not lie neglected, has ordained and decreed that in those churches in which there exists a prebend or a benefice with an obligation attached, or other income by whatever name it may be known, set aside for instructors in sacred theology, the bishops, archbishops, primates, and other ecclesiastical superiors of those localities compel, even by a reduction of their revenues, those who hold such prebend, benefice or income, to expound and interpret the Holy Scriptures, either personally if they are competent, otherwise by a competent substitute to be chosen by the bishops, archbishops, primates, or other superiors of those places.

This permission the bishops shall grant gratis. But if, which heaven avert, a preacher should spread errors or scandals among the people, let the bishop forbid him to preach, even though he preach in his own or in the monastery of another order. Should he preach heresies, let him proceed against him in accordance with the requirement of the law or the custom of the locality, even though that preacher should plead exemption by a general or special privilege; in which case the bishop shall proceed by Apostolic authority and as the delegate of the Apostolic See. But let bishops be careful that a preacher be not annoyed by false accusations or calumnies, or have just cause of complaint concerning such. Moreover, let bishops be on their guard not to permit anyone, whether of those who, being regulars in name, live outside their monasteries and the obedience of their religious institute, or secular priests, unless they are known to them and are of approved morals and doctrine, to preach in their city or diocese, even under pretext of any privilege whatsoever, till they have consulted the holy Apostolic See on the matter; from which See it is not likely that privileges of this kind are extorted by unworthy persons except by suppressing the truth or stating what is false.

In which words is given a brief description of the justification of the sinner, as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior. This translation however cannot, since promulgation of the Gospel, be effected except through the laver of regeneration or its desire, as it is written: Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.[18]

Using a page search for the word "or" in documents of Trent managed to come up with many more examples, but this selection of them demonstrates that it's writers had a propensity to use "or" in a way that accentuates support for my argument. The word "or" is often relied on to expound on whole concepts, inclusively--as with a list of things the church opposes, for instance. "Or" is used in this inclusive manner so frequently in Trent documents that a pattern emerges showing a rather specific style that elicits the use of this word, in this way, with interesting frequency. This is not to say that "or" is not used to differentiate in an exclusive manner within the document. However, there is a rather high occurence of the inclusive use of "or" in the documents of Trent suggesting further examination of intent of the use of "or" in the sentence in question, would be wise.


R. Sungenis: Elaine, none of these support your position, because they can all be taken as meaning "or" in the normal sense of the term, that is as in "either/or." You have no basis for claiming that "and" is their proper substitute, especially in light of the fact that Trent refers to "desire" for confession as something that can be performed in place of absolution in the confessional box.


Question 2- Thanks!

I was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1990. I left the ministry in 1995 shortly after beginning my second assignment. I married and had a daughter who is now 9 years old. I have been divorced from her mother for 3 years. My situation is very difficult to see a way through. But I'm trying my hard to be the best father I can be and begin to live out my priesthood again. Perhaps when my daughter graduates from high school I can return to religious life - God willing.

I attended seminary during the 1980's at St. John's in Camarillo, CA. The philosophy program in college was actually pretty good. The theology program was pretty much worthless, however. Four years of meaningless blagh. For two years in the theologate I was harrassed continually by a homosexual seminarian who, along with his buddies were the darling of the faculty. My experience there wasn't good. After ordination I became increasingly disillussioned with Cardinal Mahony. I wanted to give him filial honor, but he was so disingenuous and manipulative. I felt adrift in an archdiocese and presbyterate that seemed not only to disregard Rome and the Church as a whole, but actively sought to undermine it. Instead of taking positive steps I made some very immature and selfish choices. After ten years, though, I can see God's hand at work again in my life and I'm trying to walk again in faith.

I'm writing to thank you for your tremendous work. Recently I've read, "Not By Faith Alone," "Not By Bread Alone," and "Not By Scripture Alone." I learned more about my faith reading these three books than I did my entire time in theology. You are doing what the Holy Father has been pleading with theologians to do. Explain the faith with Sacred Scripture and the Fathers rather than tear it apart or cast doubt upon it. Your work has had a very personal affect upon me and I want to thank you. I'm trying to catch up on my studies that I've neglected the past ten years, but I feel reading works like yours will give me a great boost.

I'm not up on the conference circuit or guest speaker engagements, but I'll try to keep an ear open for any talks you may be giving in the L.A. area.
It would be a pleasure to meet you.

In Christ,

R. Sungenis: Mark, thank you so much for the commendation. I'm so glad the books have helped you. That's what I wrote them for. There are a lot of confused and uninformed Catholics out there. No doubt you will spread the word around from your priestly pulpit. God be with you.


Question 1Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Robert,
You are my favorite apologist hands down---I agree with you most of the time and you've been a great educator for me. However, I think you are way to optimistic about our new Pope. I don't think he has the vigor needed to bring discipline back to the Church and maybe not the will. I pray your right and I'm wrong. Kevin D

R. Sungenis: Kevin, you may be right. None of us knows for sure. I myself, however, start out with a clean slate for the newly installed pope, and I will give him the benefit of the doubt, unless he shows me, conclusively, otherwise. I think we can safely agree, however, that the papal conclave could have produced a lot worse, no? Can you imagine Cardinal Kasper as pope? :)