July 2015

Q & A July 2005

Question 50 - The unanswerable apologetic to sola scriptura

Question 49 - Edward O'Neill, Scott Hahn and the PBC

Question 48 - Why doesn't Catholic Answers want to discuss Scott Hahn?

Question 47 - Washington Times a Moonie Paper

Question 46 - Which Laws Still Apply? 2

Question 45 - Which Laws Still Apply?

Question 44 - Article on Biblical chronology

Question 43 - Phil Porvaznik the Evolutionist

Question 42 - Altar girls

Question 41 - www.ihsv.com -- Feenyites?

Question 40 - The Beauty of the Novus Ordo

Question 39 - The return of communion in the hand

Question 38 - The See of Peter and other Issues of the Orthodox Church

Question 37 - Communion in hand strikes back

Question 36 - Communion in hand

Question 35 - Medjugorje

Question 34 - NT and End Times

Question 33 - Mr. Sungenis, where will you go when you die?

Question 32 - If I don't attend the Novus Ordo Mass am I in mortal sin?

Question 31 - A question on God's emotion

Question 30 - Baptism of Desire, for the Final Time

Question 28 - Fr. Most and Extra ecclesiam nulla salus

Question 27 - The Sabbath changed to Sunday, Part 3

Question 26 - Response to James White on the Assumption

Question 25 - Authority

Question 24 - About Europe And Islam

Question 23 - Question about Catholicism from a Protestant

Question 22 - Justification and "The Salvation Controversy" by James Akin

Question 21 - Curses!

Question 20 - If I don't attend the Novus Ordo Mass am I in mortal sin?

Question 19 - Trusting the 'prophetic word'

Question 18 - Usury

Question 17 - Pope Benedict

Question 16 - Ecumenism and Baptism? A Family Problem

Question 15 - Douay Bible reading difficulties and RSV CE

Question 14 - CAI Supporter

Question 13 - Salvation and the Church

Question 12 - Mass Attendance and Dave Armstrong

Question 11 - Apologetics on the "Party Scene"

Question 10 - Help

Question 9 - Interview with Bishop Williamson

Question 8 - Conversation with Cheryl

Question 7 - Infallibility and Response to Fr. Harrison, Part 4

Question 6 - Infallibility and Response to Fr. Harrison, Part 3

Question 5 - Baptism of Desire for infants

Question 4 - Questions about CAI

Question 3 - Infallibility and Response to Fr. Harrison, Part 2

Question 2 - The Primacy of Peter

Question 1 - Is Sr. Lucia in Hell?

Question 50The unanswerable apologetic to sola scriptura

Hello Robert,
What was that argument you had that utterly voids the concept of sola scriptura? I bought the tape in which you detailed this one argument, but cannot find it. It started by pointing out the verses in scripture which indicate oral tradition was a source of revelation in the times of the apostles. I can't remember the rest of it. Could you quick lay it out for me again?

R. Sungenis: The argument is: If 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is teaching Sola Scriptura today, then it had to be teaching Sola Scriptura in the first century, since there cannot be two diametrically opposed interpretations of the same verse. But if 2 Timothy 3:16-17 was teaching Sola Scriptura in the first century, then that would mean that St. Paul is contradicting himself, since in the first century he was also promoting inspired oral tradition as another source of divine revelation to the Bible.


Question 49Edward O'Neill, Scott Hahn and the PBC

Dear Mr Sungenis,
I was inspired to write this email to you due to the coincidence of a couple of things happening at once.

The first of those things was your putting on your website the replies of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I admit that am very familiar with the ones on Genesis having read them many times and of course some of the others. The other thing was discovering the New Oxford Review's new website. I like the New Oxford Review just so you know where I'm coming from.

This in turn brought back to my attention the articles on Scott Hahn especially Edward O' Neill's piece. I don't have subscriber access so I can't read all of it, however I have already read the article in it's entirety a couple of times last year when someone posted a link so I know what is in it.

I do admire Scott Hahn as a person (just like you said you do) but I am very much aware of his problems and agree with most of the critques on him (including yours and especially anything to do with the fall I noticed that one the first time I heard him say it).

However, there was one thing I remember from O'Neill's article that I stand with Mr Hahn on against O'Neill. I mention this because it is something which - if I know anything about you - you too would stand on Mr Hahn's side with me. Namely the issue of the replies of the Pontifical Biblical commission. In short, O'Neill does not regard them as authoritive anymore and Scott Hahn does. I disagree with O'Neill and more importantly his rationale for it. I have to admit that in looking at the follow up responses to critiques of Hahn I was dismayed at the low level of debate that ensured. I'm not saying there wasn't debate (there certainly was) but the quality was pathetic. This could also be said of debates over other issues that the NOR raises. Indeed, just about any debate over any issue between anyone these days! What I'm referring to, of course, is the constant if not exclusive use of the argument from authority. People seem to have nothing else up there sleeve just about. Is this just me or do you notice this also? One could sense in Mr. O'Neill's follow up respones that he desperately wanted people, if they were to disagree, to actually interact with the substance of his arguments. I digress. What I did want to do was to make sure you were aware of that error in Mr O'Neill's piece. I have looked at lots of stuff on this issue from all over the place but I seem to be the only one who has noticed O'Neill's slip up. Perhaps because it's got lost in the bigger picture (ie the controversy over Scott Hahn's ideas). But it would be good to hear you say Mr Sungenis, that Mr O'Neill is wrong on this point and that for once in someone's critique of Hahn he [Hahn] was right. The reason I say this is that because Hahn is on the traditional side of things here then we want to confirm him in his correct stance and that you for instance, despite your other critiques, do not go along with Mr O'Neill on this point.

I hope I haven't already gone on too long. But O'Neill's agument was, in a nutshell, that since the 1948 letter to the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris the authority of the original replies has nearly entirely lapsed accorrding to most scholars. You will notice that A) this is an argument from authority itself and B) is flat wrong. I have read the letter about three times in the past trying to find where this is in it. It's nowhere. Father Harrison, in part of another paper, had a brief synopsis of what essentially was done in the letter.

While I am on it, if you do answer me, could you tell me as an added bonus what you think of the fourth cup idea?
Thank you,

R. Sungenis: Matthew, I really don't know the full extent of the authority of the 1909-1915 PBC. My understanding is that their documents, unless overturned by a subsequent pontificate, still hold intellectual authority (not disciplinary authority), since they were intellectually authoritative in their own day. The Church does not make a practice of dismissing the intellectual authority of previous papal documents unless she deliberatey sets out to do so, which almost never happens. It has only happened when a document was found to have some error or deleterious ambiguity. I don't know any papal or conciliar document since 1915 that has overturned or denied the contents or even the authority of the 1909-1915 PBC. All we have are subsequent PBC statements (e.g., 1951, 1964, 1993) that add to what was stated by the 1909-1915 PBC, but none of them contradict what the 1909-1915 PBC stated authoritatively. Some liberals have claimed that the 1964 PBC, which was also authoritative, contradicted some of the tenets in the 1909-1915 PBC statements on Scripture, but I have gone through the 1964 PBC statement with a fine-toothed comb and have found no such contradictions (you can read about it in my essay on Raymond Brown). The only thing I saw are liberals who 'read into' the 1964 PBC document what they want to see, as they also do with the 1993 PBC document on Scripture.

If Edward O'Neill is trying to make the 1909-1915 PBC as of no effect on what Catholics are to believe, or if he is of the opinion that the 1964 and 1993 PBC hold that there are errors in Scripture or that the Evangelists did not write the Gospels ascribed to them, then I am thoroughly against him. This is a case that I would be on Scott Hahn's side 100%. Scott has always maintained a high-view of Scripture. The only problem with that, however, is that this has led him to go too far and adopt the opposite error of "Prima Scriptura," something the Church has never taught.

As for the Fourth Cup idea, I don't subscribe to it. There is a trend to buttress Christian doctrine by means of Jewish practices and typology, but it is all very speculative. Scott has a bad habit of 'reading into' Scripture all kinds of speculative theological ideas. Sometimes I think he does this to impress people that he has some secret knowledge to interpreting Scripture. (I know, because I used to do it myself many years ago). But more than often it tends to get one into exegetical trouble, since the speculations invariably run up against established doctrine (as is the case with Hahn's treatment of the Holy Spirit and the sin of Adam and Eve).
Thanks for you good questions.


Question 48Why doesn't Catholic Answers want to discuss Scott Hahn?

Being a registered member of Catholic Answers I posted a question on why the church hasn't reprimanded Scott Hahn for writing the Holy Spirit is feminine in nature. That's all I asked. I did put your website link to to article in my post. The post was soon removed.

So I re posted the same post and that was removed as well and I got a stern warning not to put another post of that nature up on the message board. Why would Catholic Answers ban my post? Shouldn't other Catholics know what Hahn is writing? Just who is behind Catholic Answers? It sure seems to me this board is NOT open for honest discussion at all, but wants to control what favors the moderators views. What do you say Bob? I await your reply.

R. Sungenis: Catholic Answers has proven over and over again that they are not in Catholic apologetics solely for the sake of truth, but mainly for the sake of keeping up the status quo and to keep the money rolling in. Karl Keating, I'm sorry to say, has shown himself to be quite cowardly, since he will not address the tough issues facing us today in our own Catholic Church, and he has trained his staff to do likewise. You need to understand that Catholic apologetics today is based on 'who knows who' and 'who will promote who.' Most of the current apologists have made a pact not to critique each other's work, no matter how bad it may be. As a result, we get unorthodox teachings, such as Hahn's view of the Holy Spirit and his views on the sin of Adam and Eve, among other things. They think by doing this they are promoting Catholicism, but all they are really doing is facilitating error and stifling intellectual discussion. The ironic part is that Catholic Answers has shown that it has the ability to understand and critique false views, since it has done so well in the past in dealing with Protestantism. But when it comes to critiquing the doctrinal problems in main-line Catholicism, then Catholic Answers suddenly becomes mum. Very sad.


Question 47Washington Times a Moonie Paper

I get lots of flack on Steve Ray's board, because I read the Washington Times, because it is a Moonie paper.
Should Catholics read the WT? Can I quote your comments.

R. Sungenis: Yes, you can quote my comments. The Washington Times is a Neo-con media outlet that is quite anti-Catholic. For example, on Jan 22, 2003, the Washington Times stated that "recent history suggests that a note of caution is in order when it comes to listening to the Catholic Church's warnings regarding U.S. military action against Iraq." This amounts to religious bigotry. Moreover, the present onslaught of the Washington Times against the Arlington diocese, although good in that it helps expose the Haley case, is a feather in their cap, since it is their desire to cripple the Catholic Church in America, and make it an insignificant voice against the Neo-cons desire for American hegemony in the Middle East.


Question 46Which Laws Still Apply?

Rgr, copy. So, to follow up, the Church has chosen to keep the law forbidding tattoos, which is why that one still applies?

R. Sungenis: Yes, and that would apply to any law the Church gives us. The Old Testament is her guide to see the wisdom of these laws, but since not everything in the Old Testament is directly applicable to us today (e.g., circumcision), the Church uses her wisdom to decide which laws from the OT are good for us. But if the Church borrows a law from the OT, we obey it because it has become part of the New Covenant, not because it exists in the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant is as defunct today as the Magna Carta.


Question 45Which Laws Still Apply?

Here is another quick question. How do we know which laws are still meant to be obeyed from the Old Covenant? I know that we are still to obey the 10 Commandments, but with regards to all the other laws, is there a good rule of thumb to figure out which still apply? For example, we don't keep kosher anymore because of Peter's vision in Acts, but we are still not to get tattoos as per Lev 19:28. Well, what about the law that says we shouldn't have any blood in the meat we eat (Lev 3:17, 17:10-11, 17:13-14, Dt 12:23, Dt 15:23)? Does this mean I should stop getting my steak medium rare? Are those laws the same as the kosher laws? What about the law about anyone with crushed testicles not entering the assembly of God (Dt 23:1)? What about the law about women and their period and being unclean (Lev 15:19)? Touching a dead body (Num 19:11, Lev 21:11, Num 9:6)? How do we distinguish between what we still need to obey and what has been abrogated by the New Covenant?
God Bless,

R. Sungenis: All the laws of the Old Covenant are null and void, so says St. Paul in 2 Cor 3:6-14; Gal 3:10-12; 5:1-4; Hebrews 7:18; 8:7, 13; 10:9. The only thing that remains from the Old Covenant is what the Church has decided to keep from it in the New Covenant. Therefore, if the Church has no law forbidding eating meat with blood, then we are under no such law.


Question 44Article on Biblical chronology

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I was very impressed with the article you did on Biblical chronology and in particular the defence of the traditional dating of the Birth of Our Lord. I have a website devoted to exposing the dissodent group FutureChurch the local Cleveland arm of Chicago's Call to Action and are also exposing the rampant herissies overwheling this Diocese here in Cleveland. I would like to recomend this writeup on our site but can no longer find it. Do you have this in a printed form? May we reformat the copy I have and make it available? Thanks and God Bless.
Dave Webster

R. Sungenis: Dave, yes, you can use the article and reformt for your purposes. It is available here.

You might also be interested in an article I did on FutureChurch for the Remnant a few months ago. That can be found here.


Question 43Phil Porvaznik the Evolutionist

Dear Mr Sungenis,

Here is another article rebutting your earlier response to this man on evolution etc. I'm justing alerting your attention to it should you want to respond to it. I hope it comes through. If not the address is www.bringyou.to. Did you send that other one on to Mr Keane?

R. Sungenis: Matthew, I will respond only breifly to Mr. Porvaznik. I don't think his rebuttals are worth more than that.

Phil Porvaznik: Reply to Sungenis on Theological Issues (Part 1)
This article is a reply to "six-day creationist" Catholic Robert Sungenis and his article "Dialogue on Evolution vs. Creationism" in response to me (Phil Porvaznik), a "theistic evolutionist" Catholic. The primary purpose is to present once again the scientific data for the age of the earth and evolution, especially where these have been misunderstood or ignored by Bob. I don't claim to know a whole lot about radiometric dating, but I do read the sources (Dalrymple) carefully and enjoy learning what geology and biology I can. Just so you know my background, I am not a geologist or biologist but have a mere B.S. in Computer Science. Please check and verify any information below with the recognized authoritative scientific sources and knowledgeable experts in the pertinent fields.

And note I still appreciate and recommend Bob's apologetics and theology books Not By Faith Alone, Not By Scripture Alone, and Not By Bread Alone (minus the young-earth stuff near the end of the latter book). This is not meant to take anything away from these still excellent books. But when it comes to "not by science alone" we have our strong disagreements. The following is divided into several sections. PhilVaz@aol.com
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Sungenis: There are two things to consider in reading the pope’s statements to the Pontifical Academy of Science. First, they hold no binding authority on any Catholic, but are simply statements of pastoral of advice to the PAS, mainly because the PAS is made up of scientists, many of them either agnostic or atheist. Second, the speeches to the PAS are usually not written by the pope himself, but are drafted by the PAS president, and then given to the pope to read. Hence, they often contain scientific assertions that reflect the status quo of modern science as understood by the PAS (which is almost invariably bent toward evolutionary theory). We should not expect the Academy to say anything differently to the pope, since all 80 of them, which elect their own members without reference to “race or religious creed,” are evolutionists, with not a single Creationist permitted in their ranks. That being the case, we can understand Archbishop Luigi Barbarito when he spoke for John Paul: “About this body I would say that it has no authority in matters of faith and doctrine and expresses only the views of its own members who belong to different religious beliefs.”

Porvaznik: I would agree that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has no binding authority on Catholics, and indeed is not infallible. Science itself is not infallible, and the Catholic Church only claims infallibility in certain restricted instances on issues of faith and morals only, not science. A Catholic is permitted to believe in a flat earth, a non-moving earth and geocentric universe (as Sungenis does), a young earth 10,000 to 15,000 years old (as Sungenis does), and that life on that earth was created fully-formed from nothing in six literal 24-hour days a short time ago (as Sungenis does). The question is whether any modern Catholic today should believe those things. "Truth Cannot Contradict Truth" and science and faith do not conflict according to the Catechism (paragraphs 159, 283-284) and Pope John Paul II (Statement from October 1996 "Truth Cannot Contradict Truth"). All I am concerned about is how good is the science of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. One might ask the question why there is not a single Creationist in their ranks? Maybe it has something to do with the quality of the "science" of those Creationists? A little background on the academy might help. This is taken from this PDF available from the Vatican.va site.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has its origins in the Accademia dei Lincei ("Academy of Lynxes") established in Rome in 1603, under Pope Clement VIII by the learned Roman Prince, Federico Cesi (1585-1630) who was a young botanist and naturalist. Cesi wanted his Academicians to create a method of research based upon observation, experiment, and the inductive method. He thus called this Academy "dei Lincei" because the scientists which adhered to it had to have eyes as sharp as lynxes (the lynx is a large cat) in order to penetrate the secrets of nature, observing it at both microscopic and macroscopic levels. The leader of the first academy was the famous scientist Galileo Galilei. It was dissolved after the death of its founder and re-created by Pope Pius IX in 1847 and given the name Accademia Pontificia dei Nuovi Lincei ("Pontifical Academy of the New Lynxes"), and was re-founded in 1936 by Pope Pius XI and given its current name. Pope Paul VI in 1976 and Pope John Paul II in 1986 subsequently updated its statutes.

Since 1936 the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has been concerned both with investigating specific scientific subjects belonging to individual disciplines and with the promotion of interdisciplinary co-operation. It has progressively increased the number of its Academicians and the international character of its membership. The Academy is an independent body within the Holy See and enjoys freedom of research. From the statutes of 1976:

"The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has as its goal the promotion of the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences, and the study of related epistemological questions and issues."

Since the Academy and its membership is not influenced by factors of a national, political, or religious character it represents a valuable source of objective scientific information which is made available to the Holy See and to the international scientific community. Today the work of the Academy covers six main areas: (a) fundamental science, (b) the science and technology of global questions and issues, (c) science in favor of the problems of the Third World, (d) the ethics and politics of science, (e) bioethics, (f) epistemology. The disciplines involved are sub-divided into nine fields: the disciplines of physics and related disciplines; astronomy; chemistry; the earth and environmental sciences; the life sciences (botany, agronomy, zoology, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, the neurosciences, surgery); mathematics; the applied sciences; and the philosophy and history of sciences.

The new members of the Academy are elected by the body of Academicians and chosen from men and women of every race and religion based on the high scientific value of their activities and their high moral profile. They are then officially appointed by the Roman Pontiff. The Academy is governed by a President, appointed from its members by the Pope, who is helped by a scientific Council and by the Chancellor. Initially made up of 80 Academicians, 70 who were appointed for life, in 1986 John Paul II raised the number of members for life to 80, side by side with a limited number of Honorary Academicians chosen because they are highly qualified figures, and others who are Academicians because of the posts they hold, including: the Chancellor of the Academy, the Director of the Vatican Observatory, the Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and the Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archive.

During its various decades of activity, the Academy has had a number of Nobel Prize winners amongst its members, many of whom were appointed Academicians before they received this prestigious international award.

These include:

Lord Ernest Rutherford (Physics, 1908)
Guglielmo Marconi (Physics, 1909)
Alexis Carrel (Physiology, 1912)
Max von Laue (Physics, 1914)
Max Planck (Physics, 1918)
Niels Bohr (Physics, 1922)
Werner Heisenberg (Physics, 1932)
Paul Dirac (Physics, 1933)
Erwin Schroedinger (Physics, 1933)
Sir Alexander Fleming (Physiology, 1945)
Chen Ning Yang (Physics, 1957)
Rudolf L. Mossbauer (Physics, 1961)
Max F. Perutz (Chemistry, 1962)
John Eccles (Physiology, 1963)
Charles H. Townes (Physics, 1964)
Manfred Eigen and George Porter (Chemistry, 1967)
Har Gobind Khorana and Marshall W. Nirenberg (Physiology, 1968)
Christian de Duve (Physiology, 1974)
Werner A. G. E. Palade (Physiology, 1974)
David Baltimore (Physiology, 1975)
Aage Bohr (Physics, 1975)
Abdus Salam (Physics, 1979)
Paul Berg (Chemistry, 1980)
Kai Siegbahn (Physics, 1981)
Sune Bergstrom (Physiology, 1982)
Carlo Rubbia (Physics, 1984)
Rita Levi-Montalcini (Physiology, 1986)
John C. Polanyi (Chemistry, 1986)
Jean-Marie Lehn (Chemistry, 1987)
Joseph E. Murray (Physiology, 1990)
Gary S. Becker (Economics, 1992)
Paul J. Crutzen (Chemistry, 1995)
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (Physics, 1997)
Ahmed H. Zewail (Chemistry, 1999)
among other eminent Academicians including Padre Agostino Gemelli (1878-1959), founder of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and President of the Academy after its re-foundation until 1959, and Mons. George Lemaitre (1894-1966), one of the fathers of contemporary cosmology who held the office of President from 1960 to 1966.

The goals and hopes of the Academy were expressed by Pope Pius XI in the Motu Proprio which brought about its re-foundation in 1936:

"Amongst the many consolations with which divine Goodness has wished to make happy the years of our Pontificate, I am happy to place that of our having being able to see not a few of those who dedicate themselves to the studies of the sciences mature their attitude and their intellectual approach towards religion. Science, when it is real cognition, is never in contrast with the truth of the Christian faith. Indeed, as is well known to those who study the history of science, it must be recognized on the one hand that the Roman Pontiffs and the Catholic Church have always fostered the research of the learned in the experimental field as well, and on the other hand that such research has opened up the way to the defense of the deposit of supernatural truths entrusted to the Church....We promise again that it is our strongly-held intention, that the 'Pontifical Academicians' through their work and our Institution, work ever more and ever more effectively for the progress of the sciences. Of them we do not ask anything else, since in this praiseworthy intent and this noble work in that service in favor of the truth that we expect of them." (Pius XI)

Forty years later (10 November 1979), John Paul II once again emphasized the role and goals of the Academy, on the 100th anniversary (centenary) of the birth of Albert Einstein:

"...the existence of this Pontifical Academy of Sciences, of which in its ancient ancestry Galileo was a member and of which today eminent scientists are members, without any form of ethnic or religious discrimination, is a visible sign, raised amongst the peoples of the world, of the profound harmony that can exist between the truths of science and the truths of faith.....The Church of Rome together with all the Churches spread throughout the world, attributes a great importance to the function of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The title of 'Pontifical' given to the Academy means, as you know, the interest and the commitment of the Church, in different forms from the ancient patronage, but no less profound and effective in character....How could the Church have lacked interest in the most noble of the occupations which are most strictly human -- the search for truth? ....Both believing scientists and non-believing scientists are involved in deciphering the palimpsest of nature which has been built in a rather complex way, where the traces of the different stages of the long evolution of the world have been covered over and mixed up. The believer, perhaps, has the advantage of knowing that the puzzle has a solution, that the underlying writing is in the final analysis the work of an intelligent being, and that thus the problem posed by nature has been posed to be solved and that its difficulty is without doubt proportionate to the present or future capacity of humanity. This, perhaps, will not give him new resources for the investigation engaged in. But it will contribute to maintaining him in that healthy optimism without which a sustained effort cannot be engaged in for long." (John Paul II)

At the time of the Pope's infamous October 1996 Statement on Evolution to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 26 of the 80 members (nearly one-third) of the Academy were holders of the Nobel Prize. That should tell you something of the quality of the science of the Academy, and maybe why Creationists are not to be found among its ranks.

R. Sungenis2: I’ll let Mr. Porvaznik’s words speak for themselves. He admits that the PAS has no Creationists and will allow no Creationists, yet the PAS, claiming that it wants only scientific evidence, knows that the Creationists are presenting scientific evidence to back up their claims, not simply a reading of Genesis. Go figure.

Anyone who knows anything about the Evolution/Creation debate can see that the PAS's exclusionism is based on pride and protectionism, not on objective science. Behe, Denton, Ross, Gish, Morris, the Kolbe Center, and dozens of other Creationist scientists with Ph.D.s just like those on the PAS have given ample evidence to put evolution in doubt. The fact is that the PAS simply doesn’t want to accept any scientific evidence from their opponents. That Mr. Porvaznik can’t see this means he is scientifically blind.
Moreover, for the past two thousand years the Catholic Church has supported the doctrine of Creationism, and has made no official statement saying that it has now switched to Evolution. So obviously, the PAS’s selection of “only Evolutionists” cannot be based on what the Catholic Church has taught and accepted if the PAS has no Creationist representatives. That Mr. Porvaznik can’t see this only shows how personal he has made this issue to himself. When it gets this personal, men are blinded to the truth, because they can’t see past their prejudices.
Mr. Porvaznik is enamored with “Nobel Prize” winners, but most of the prize winners he listed are admitted atheists. That tells you loads about both them and the PAS who allowed them in the PAS membership. How can an atheist even begin to entertain Creationism when he doesn’t even believe in God? Moreover, most of those on the list disagree with one another on the most basic issues of science, including the mechanics of evolution. I know, because I’ve read their books and the critiques other scientists write of them.

Mr. Porvaznik thinks scientists are the selfless and honest beacons of the world and would never stoop to lying to us. Unfortunately he is very, very naive. Most of them are not honest. They hide facts and obscure the evidence. That has been documented but, unfortunately, you won't here it on the evening news.

Even among the honest scientists most will admit they know next to nothing about this world. Theory after theory is concocted but sooner or later they all fall down like a house of cards because they find the theories are totally incorrect. The more science discovers today the more they find out just how much they don’t know. The prestige of science as the monolith of knowledge is nothing but a modern myth. The fact that Mr. Porvaznik would rationalize the fact that the PAS doesn’t have any Creationist just shows you the lengths he will go to in order to protect and further this agnostic agenda, and this from someone who admits he has little or no science background.
If you want to know the real truth about modern science, I suggest you read a few books by those on the other side. Here is a list of them that might help:

Betrayers of the Truth, William Broad and Nicholas Wade, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.

Impure Science: Fraud, Compromise and Political Influence in Scientific Research, Robert Bell, New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1992.

“When Fraud Taints Science,” Simon Garfinkel, Christian Science Monitor, July 1992.

The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science, Horace F. Judson, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, Florida, 2004

Forbidden Science: Exposing the Secrets of Suppressed Research, Richard Milton, Cox and Wyman Ltd., Great Britian, 1994;

Science is a Sacred Cow, A. Standen, E. P. Dutton Publishers, 2000.
Anti-Evolution: A Reader's Guide to Writings Before and After Darwin, Tom McIver,

The Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint edition (October 1, 1992).
Here’s a few quotes to get you started:

Famous biologist and medical doctor Lewis Thomas (d. 1993) recently confided:

“Science is founded on uncertainty…We are always, as it turns out, fundamentally wrong…The only solid piece of scientific truth about which I feel totally confident is that we are profoundly ignorant about nature. ...It is this sudden confrontation with the depth and scope of ignorance that represents the most significant contribution of twentieth-century science to the human intellect.” Lewis Thomas, “On Science and Certainty,” Discover Magazine, 1980, p. 58.

And again:

“The principle discoveries in this [20th] century, taking all in all, are the glimpses of the depth of our ignorance about nature. Things that used to seem clear and rational, matters of absolute certainty – Newtonian mechanics for example – have slipped through out fingers, and we are left with a new set of gigantic puzzles, cosmic uncertainties, ambiguities. Some of the laws of physics require footnotes every few years, some are cancelled outright, some undergo revised versions of legislative intent like acts of Congress.” Lewis Thomas, “Making Science Work,” Discover, March, 1981, p. 88.

Likewise, famous physicist Richard Feynman once noted: “Science is the culture of doubt.”

Sungenis: To show the bias of the Pontifical Academy of Science, in 1982 it made a general statement to the public: “...we are convinced that masses of evidence render the application of the concept of evolution to man and other primates beyond serious doubt.”

Porvaznik: The statement is not a "bias" -- it's simply true based on the good scientific evidence for human evolution, in particular the legitimate hominid fossils that have been unearthed the past 100 years, and the more recent molecular genetics evidence discovered the past several decades:
see Hominid Species by Jim Foley also Plagiarized Errors and Molecular Genetics by Edward Max The Pontifical Academy of Sciences Vatican site and History of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences 2003 PDF

R. Sungenis2: Mr. Provaznik forgot to mention the reason I cited the 1982 PAS quote. In the context, I cited that just two years prior, the two leading evolutionists in the world, Gould and Eldredge, admitted to a packed house of scientists in Chicago that, after years of searching, they could not find any fossils showing intermediary specimens (e.g., fossil showing the intermediate steps between, say, a bird and a dinosaur; or a reptile and an amphibian).
Now, even Darwin himself said back in 1859 that if science couldn’t find any intermediary fossils, then his theory of evolution was wrong. So we have it right from the horses mouth that evolution is defunct.

So what do Gould and Eldredge do? They concoct another theory called “punctuated equilibrium,” which is just a fancy way of saying that they have no idea how the species originated or progressed, but that they seemed to have come on land very suddenly, fully formed.

Any Creationists would say, “Of course, Dr. Gould. That’s what Genesis tells us. God punctuated Eden with fully-formed animals.”

Incidentally, Gould and Eldredge are both admitted agnostics. Gould has admitted that he turned away from God when his young daughter died (cited in Rocks of Ages); and Eldredge says he a "lapsed Baptist" that does not believe in God anymore.

But Mr. Porvaznik seeks to avoid all this. He would rather talk about “hominids.” But neither he nor Jim Foley know it’s a hominid, since they simply don’t have enough solid evidence to make such a conclusion. The simple fact is that Jim Foley, because he is an atheist, starts out believing in Evolution, and then he interprets the material around him as supporting it. Evolution is a religion, it is not science. It is Scientism, the great false god of the modern age. Unfortunately, many Catholics have been deceived by them, and thus find themselves in the 'neither-here-nor-there' world of "theistic evolution," the comical hybrid of double-minded Christians who neither know science nor theology.

No one has ever seen something evolve. It is just a concocted theory created by men who have already decided not to believe in God. They need something to explain how the world began and progressed, but if you’re not going to believe in God, then all you have left is Evolution. That’s why evolutionist Richard Lewontin admitted the following to his Creationist opponents:

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concept that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” (“Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997, pp. 28, 31.).

In reading the rest of Mr. Porvaznik’s response, it is filled with the same kind of myopic and prejudicial opinions we see him spout above. All he does is give excuses. As for his scientific objections, I’ve already answered them, and I’m not going to wade through his picayune rebuttals any longer. The only way I will deal with him in the future is to have a public debate about these issues. Then we’ll see how much Mr. Porvaznik really knows and how much he is just regurgitating from his idols of modern science, and I lay this out as a public challenge to him.

As for now, if Mr. Porvaznik wants to believe in evolution, that is his prerogative. He has been duped by the godless scientists of the modern age. In my opinion, with all the evidence against evolution that we have found in the last 50 years, anyone who still believes in that modern fairy tale is a fool.
Robert Sungenis


Question 42Altar girls

In question 6, June 2005, you stated that "Yes, a
bishop can force his priest to have them [altar
girls]." The following quote is taken from the
Adoremus web site www.adoremus.org

In July 2001, the Holy See's Congregation for Divine
Worship issued a response to a bishop's question
(dubium) concerning the possible admission of girls
and women as altar servers. The response, a further
explanation of the Circular Letter to the Presidents
of Episcopal Conference, March 15, 1994, no. 2, that
granted permission for bishops to admit female alter
servers, made it clear that only a diocesan bishop may
decide whether to permit female servers in his
diocese; furthermore, that no priest is obliged to
have female servers, even in dioceses where this is
permitted. The letter stressed that no one has a
"right" to serve at the altar, and also strongly
reaffirmed that altar boys should be encouraged.

This document seems to contradict your answer. Please
clarify. Thank you.


R. Sungenis: Andrew, I assume this is the paragraph that is of relevance here:

In accord with the above cited instructions of the Holy See such an authorization may not, in any way, exclude men or, in particular, boys from service at the altar, nor require that priests of the diocese would make use of female altar servers, since "it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar" (Circular Letter to the Presidents of Episcopal Conference, March 15, 1994, no. 2). Indeed, the obligation to support groups of altar boys will always remain, not least of all due to the well known assistance that such programs have provided since time immemorial in encouraging future priestly vocations (cf. ibid.),
I concur with this paragraph. My answer in the QA question #6 of June was from the perspective of the politics and ecclesiastical pressure that a bishop could bring to bear on a priest. A priest who bucked his bishop in the matter of altar girls would soon find himself no longer a pastor of that church. Beofre that, the priest, of course, could appeal to Rome. Once appealed, the bishop could then remove the pastor and replace him with one that is going to admit altar girls.


Question 41www.ihsv.com -- Feenyites?

I am curious to know what CAI opinion is on the website www.ihsv.com(In hoc signo vinces -the Catholic website!)

It walks like novus ordo and it quacks like it. Is it neo-Feenyism? These seem like the type who interpret extra ecclesiam... the way THEY want to, not as the Church does but are careful to make any contradictions subtle all the while proclaiming their loyalty to Rome.

Isn't private interpretation of Church doctrine as dangerous as private interpretation of scripture?

Kevin M
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

B. Douglass: This article alone is enough to convince me that faithful Catholics should avoid this website. The IHSV is not, de facto, loyal to Rome. See also the blurb to their lead article on extra ecclesiam nulla salus: "Many people have asked me "what is the position of IHSV on Baptism of Desire?" We answer thus: "about two paces to the right of Father Feeney."" That is simply absurd.
Ben Douglass


Question 40About Europe And Islam

Continued thanks for your answers to one with so many questions. I use your books and this website daily in my fight to educate my fellow Catholics and to challenge many Protestants.
Once I'm done with the Navy, I am looking to become a Catholic High School Theology teacher. While I am investigating certification requirements and such, I was also considering getting a Masters degree, to help both my credentials and to increase my knowledge of the Church and her teachings. Do you know if the Masters of Arts in Religious Studies offered through the Catholic Distance University is worthwhile? If not, can you recommend any good programs? I'm especially interested in Distance/On-Line type programs (since it's hard to attend classes while floating in the middle of nowhere).
Thank you and God Bless!

B. Douglass: I'm sure many of the professors at Catholic Distance University are orthodox, but a few things about their program give me pause. First, the required texts for the "Introduction to Sacred Scripture" course include three by Fr. Raymond Brown, one under his general editorship (the notorious New Jerome Biblical Commentary), and a document of the modern, non-magisterial PBC, and do not include either Spiritus Paraclitus or the magisterial decrees of the PBC. Second, Vatican II and post-Conciliar documents seem to comprise the vast majority of the sources for study of the Magisterium. Third, the President of the institution is bishop Loverde of Arlington, VA.
Christendom College's program seems much more focused on the Fathers and Doctors, especially St. Thomas Aquinas. They also have a course on the errors of modernism, and the course description for "Theology and the Public Order" actually mentions the Kingship of Christ and the divine prerogatives of the Catholic Church! Salvatore Ciresi has a master's degree from Christendom. I would recommend contacting him to hear more about the merits of the program, from a traditionalist persepective. salciresi@aol.com
Mount St. Mary's Seminary is one of the better seminaries in the country, and accepts lay students. My priest is a graduate of Mount St. Mary's, and he is orthodox (though he seems to give too much credence to the conclusions of higher biblical criticism). He can vouch for the fact that Mount St. Mary's is in no way a gay fraternity, and does not destroy the faith of its students.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska is probably the place where you can get the most orthodox Catholic education in the United States. Unfortunately, as of now they only accept students who want to become FSSP priests.

Christ the King College, Dr. Thomas Droleskey's online college, offers a bachelor's degree in Catholic studies, which will probably be worth your while. Their courses on Scripture, history, and philosophy are sure to be orthodox. Apologetics III seems problematic, though, since the course description mentions "the elements of error in the language of the conciliar and postconciliar documents." It's very hard to find a happy medium between people who think Vatican II was good for the Church and people who think it taught theological error. But your faith should be safe at Christ the King.
Ben Douglass


Question 39The return of communion in the hand

The author of the article on Communion in the hand states, "In sum, I believe that once these miniscule particles are dropped to the floor, Christ leaves. Thus we should not have to worry about stepping on Him when we visit a Novus Ordo Church."

There is a huge problem here. It is not what the author "believes" but rather what Trent has dogmatically declared to be true on this issue, which the author subsequently acknowledges by stating, "Now, the Roman Catechism does say that 'the body of our Lord is contained whole and entire under the least particle of the bread' and I do not wish to commit the same error as those I am arguing against."

I respectfully submit that the author cannot have it both ways in that something cannot "be" and "not be" at the same time in the same respect - the fundamental philosophical principle of '"non-contradiction."

B. Douglass: That is why I follow my citation of the Roman Catechism with an interpretation of it which does not contradict my thesis, namely that when the Catechism speaks of "bread" it means the recognizable accidents of bread, not microscopic fragments, and not technically visible fragments which are unrecognizable as bread.

Consider the following. If, during a Solemn High Mass, a particle of the host is recognized by the priest, maybe by the deacon, and not by the sub-deacon, does that mean that God exists in that particle for the priest, maybe for the deacon, and not for the sub-deacon? Trent dogmatically resolved this issue by not making it a belief as a function of eye acuity.

B. Douglass: Christ is either present or not present, and His presence is objective. I don't believe He has a set rule, as to the exact number of molecules which must adhere to each other before He leaves, so I'd say He leaves when He deems it no longer possible for anyone to percieve the accidents of bread.

The laity are properly passive out of respect for the Almighty, kneeling in adoration, to receive God.That is the main point of what Aquinas is getting at. It is reserved for the ministerial priest to be the active agent because he is acting in persona Christi, not Joe, or Sally, or Tom sitting in the pew across from us.

B. Douglass: Call me a literalist, but I think St. Thomas really is talking about what may and may not touch the consecrated host.

The priests hands are consecrated for a purpose. At least, they used to be in the pre-Conciliar Church. The symbolism is very important to denote the transcendent sacred mystery that is happening here, i.e., the supernatural coming down to earth, God humbling Himself under the appearances of bread and wine.

B. Douglass: The priest's hands are consecrated to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of course. But consecrated hands are not a necessary prerequisite for touching the consecrated host, otherwise the Fathers, a local Council of the early Church, and the current Magisterium have all encouraged disrespect for God.

When I was an altar boy we wouldn't dream of even coming close to touching the sacred vessels because the symbolism in terms of conveying a sense of the sacred was of paramount importance. Following the author's argument logically, which he did, who would be worthy of any sacrament? None of us are, to be frank. They are gifts from God to His Church for purposes of sanctification of the faithful for eternity's sake. Aquinas did not make a fallacious argument here.

B. Douglass: The issue here isn't what we are worthy of, but what is and isn't lawful. Priests are not "worthy" to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but it is lawful for them to do so. The laity are not "worthy" to recieve the Eucharist, but it is lawful for us to do so. St. Thomas believed that it was unlawful for the laity to touch the consecrated host. Based on the testimony of the Fathers and the current Magisterium, and simple reason, I believe he was wrong. Whether we are "worthy" of the sacraments is irrelevant.

Stop and think about what is happening, about the symbolism of anyone popping God into his mouth like some movie treat, which is the abuse that occurs because of something that never should have happened. It did happen because of a European dissident bishop who started it, and when Pope John Paul II decided that he must stop it, the argument then presented to him was something on the order of, Holy Father, but it's already custom in too many Churches.

B. Douglass: I agree that it is irreverent to simply pop God into one's mouth like a movie treat. But this does not flow necessarily from the practice of Communion in the hand. One could just as easily recieve with fear and trembling from one's own hand as from that of a priest.

The Roman Catechism that the author quotes is stating a dogmatic article of faith that was so believed in the pre-Conciliar Church that when the priest purified the sacred vessels after Holy Communion, His, and the congregations, he would take pains to wipe the paten clean of any particle of host, putting them in the chalice, and then pour the remaining water and wine from the cruets into the chalice to ensure that no particle that was God would risk being profaned. Why would priests do this if there wasn't a concern about missing a particle of host? It would make no sense. The Church has always taught that post the Consecration, God is every particle of bread, and every drop of wine, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, which is why the sacred species must be fully consumed at Holy Communion of the Priest, and of the people.

B. Douglass: I acknowledge that there is a real concern about missing a particle of the host. It is when the host becomes imperceptible as bread that I believe Christ departs.

When a host was dropped at the Communion rail in the pre-Conciliar Church everything stopped at the despair of what just happened? The priest would immediately get a sacred cloth and slowly, I repeat slowly, pick up the host, and wipe the floor, in effect purifying it in the same manner as the sacred vessels were after Holy Communion. That Church understood the importance of what was happening at the Consecration. That Church conveyed a sense of the sacred in its architecture and liturgy. Nowdays, Tom, Dick, and Jane, the extraordinary ministers turned ordinary ministers, drop Jesus, and pick him up without so much as a second thought. Does this convey a sense of the sacred to the Congregation? Not on your life!

I would advise Communicants to preferably kneel down, or at the very least , genuflect, and act like they are in the presence of God Who if He forgot about them for but a nanosecond, they would cease to exist. We stand to honor man. We kneel or prostrate ourselves to adore the Almighty, which is what the Angels do at every Catholic Mass. That's what we used to be taught, at least. That happened in the Roman Rite before it was effectively Protestantized, i.e., destroyed!

B. Douglass: No arguments here, except fot that last sentence. The Novus Ordo may not express the Church's theology of the Mass as clearly or as fully as the Tridentine, but Catholic theology is still there. "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may become acceptable to God the almighty Father." "May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands..." "From age to age you gather a people to yourself so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name." "Look with favor on your Church's offering, and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself. Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood..." The Reformers could not accept any of these statements, at least the way the Catholic Church understands them. If I went through the prayers specific to the various feast days I could find even more. Not to mention that the Roman Canon is still a viable option within the Novus Ordo Missae. Though it is seldom used, I have heard it used at Penn State Catholic Campus Ministry Masses and at Our Lady of Victory. The new Mass may contain a great deal less material which is distinctively Catholic, and which Protestants could not accept, but it still has some, and it still has a valid consecration. Hence, "destroyed" is too strong a word.

To his credit, the author is not defending "Communion in the hand."

"Communion in the hand" destroys a sense of the Sacred instrinsic to what is occuring in Catholic Churches worldwide, that which uniquely identifies them as Catholic, i.e., the Consecration of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. This along with myriad other liturgical aberrations has denuded the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of the tremendous awe of the Sacred Mysteries being celebrated. It may be morally licit to walk into Churches where this is done, but it is ultimately fatal to the Faith, which is a higher priority in the long run.

B. Douglass: Ss. Basil and John Damascene did not destroy the faith of their flocks, so I have to disagree here. It is possible to recieve Communion in the hand irreverently, without a sense of the sacred, but on the other hand it is possible to recieve Communion in the hand with as much reverence as on the tongue, especially if one follows the advice of St. Augustine: "no one eats that flesh unless he adores it" (Explanations on the Psalms 98:9).

The institutional Catholic Church of the Latin Rite has been effectively destroyed. The Church of my youth is unrecognizable to me as Catholic because Lex credendi, lex orandi, is more than just a pithy phrase.

Introibo ad altare Dei. Ad Deum qui laetificat, juventutem meam!

Gary M

B. Douglass: See above. I think your language here is far too strong.
One final question: you have attended Divine Liturgy with me in the Eisenhower chapel. You must be aware that this is where the PSU Catholic Campus ministry holds daily Novus Ordo Mass. If you agree with Mr. St. George's thesis, how can you justify attending Divine Liturgy there?


Question 38The See of Peter and other Issues of the Orthodox Church

Good Morning:
The Christian Church was always a conciliar church, with patriarchs from Alexandria / Antioch / Jerusalem / Constantinople / Rome. The church has never changed and is today as always represented in truth by The Holy Orthodox Church, of which Rome was a part for 1000 years. The Ecumenical Council established the Nicene Creed etc. What gave Rome the right to change this creed by inserting the filioque (contrary to John 15:26), without the approval of church council?. Did our church fathers miss something, including direction from the Holy Ghost. What gave The Bishop of Rome total authority over the church in 1054 without the approval of church council? Are the Orthodox Churches of Jerusalem for example which was established by our beloved apostle and martyr James invalid? Mark the Evangelist and Apostle in Alexandria? Were there not 12 apostles commissioned by our Lord and Savior. What about Antioch where Peter was bishop long before going to Rome where his journey ended in martyrdom, are the Orthodox Churches there invalid also? Is our Eucharist invalid?

I can only mention doctrines before the split. Teachings unknown to the early church like indulgences, papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception etc are dogmas peculiar only to Rome, established by Rome without church council approval because Rome seceded from the church in 1054.

We still welcome your return and pray for your church because we love you.

May God bless you.

Sincerely in Christ
John D
Orthodox Church of The Holy Spirit
Vilnius, Lithuania

B. Douglass: It is impossible for the See of St. Peter (Rome) to break away from the Catholic Church. His See is the principle of unity established by Christ, and anyone who breaks away from her breaks away from Him. St. Cyprian of Carthage teaches this in "On the Unity of the Catholic Church" ch. 4: "The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, "I say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, "Feed my sheep." And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, "As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins ye retain, they shall be retained; " yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity. Which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says, "My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her." Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith? Does he who strives against and resists the Church trust that he is in the Church, when moreover the blessed Apostle Paul teaches the same thing, and sets forth the sacrament of unity, saying, "There is one body and one spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God?"

The Catholic Church inserted the filioque into the Nicene Creed on the authority of Scripture and Tradition, including several local Church Councils (at Toledo) and Greek Fathers. The Catholic Encyclopedia's article on the filioque sums up the evidence:

"As to the Sacred scripture, the inspired writers call the holy Ghost the Spirit of the Son (Gal., iv, 6), the spirit of Christ (Rom., viii, 9), the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil., i, 19), just as they call Him the Spirit of the Father (Matt., x, 20) and the Spirit of God (I Cor., ii, ll). Hence they attribute to the Holy Ghost the same relation to the Son as to the Father. Again, according to Sacred Scripture, the Son sends the Holy Ghost (Luke, xxiv, 49; John, xv, 26; xvi, 7; xx, 22; Acts, ii, 33,; Tit., iii.6), just as the Father sends the Son (Rom., iii. 3; etc.), and as the Father sends the Holy Ghost (John, xiv, 26). Now the "mission" or "sending" of one Divine Person by another does not mean merely that the Person said to be sent assumes a particular character, at the suggestion of Himself in the character of Sender, as the Sabellians maintained; nor does it imply any inferiority in the Person sent, as the Arians taught; but it denotes, according to the teaching of the weightier theologians and Fathers, the Procession of the Person sent from the Person Who sends. Sacred Scripture never presents the Father as being sent by the Son, nor the Son as being sent by the Holy Ghost. The very idea of the term "mission" implies that the person sent goes forth for a certain purpose by the power of the sender, a power exerted on the person sent by way of a physical impulse, or of a command, or of prayer, or finally of production; now, Procession, the analogy of production, is the only manner admissible in God. It follows that the inspired writers present the Holy Ghost as proceeding from the Son, since they present Him as sent by the Son. Finally, St. John (XVI, 13-15) gives the words of Christ: "What things soever he [the Spirit] shall hear, he shall speak; ...he shall receive of mine, and shew it to you. All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine." Here a double consideration is in place. First, the Son has all things that the Father hath, so that He must resemble the Father in being the Principle from which the Holy Ghost proceeds. Secondly, the Holy Ghost shall receive "of mine" according to the words of the Son; but Procession is the only conceivable way of receiving which does not imply dependence or inferiority. In other words, the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son.

"The teaching of Sacred Scripture on the double Procession of the Holy Ghost was faithfully preserved in Christian tradition. Even the Greek Orthodox grant that the Latin Fathers maintain the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the son. The great work on the Trinity by Petavius (Lib. VII, cc. iii sqq.) develops the proof of this contention at length. Here we mention only some of the later documents in which the patristic doctrine has been clearly expresssed: the dogmatic letter of St. Leo I to Turribius, Bishop of Astorga, Ep. XV, c. i (447); the so-called Athanasian Creed; several councils held at Toledo in the years 447, 589 (III), 675 (XI), 693 (XVI); the letter of Pope Hormisdas to the Emperor Justius, Ep. lxxix (521); St. Martin I's synodal utterance against the Monothelites, 649-655; Pope Adrian I's answer to the Caroline Books, 772-795; The Synods of Merida (666), Braga (675), and Hatfield (680); the writing of Pope Leo III (d. 816) to the monks of Jerusalem; the letter of Pope Stephen V (d. 891) to the Moravian King Suentopolcus (Suatopluk), Ep. xiii...

"Moreover, there are certain considerations which form a direct proof for the belief of the Greek Fathers in the double Procession of the Holy Ghost. First, the Greek Fathers enumerate the Divine Persons in the same order as the Latin Fathers; they admit that the Son and the Holy Ghost are logically and ontologically connected in the same way as the son and Father [St. Basil, Ep. cxxv; Ep. xxxviii (alias xliii) ad Gregor. fratrem; "Adv.Eunom.", I, xx, III, sub init.] Second, the Greek Fathers establish the same relation between the Son and the Holy ghost as between the Father and the Son; as the Father is the fountain of the Son, so is the Son the fountain of the Holy Ghost (Athan., Ep. ad Serap. I, xix, sqq.; "De Incarn.", ix; Orat. iii, adv. Arian., 24; Basil, "Adv. Eunom.", v, in P.G.., XXIX, 731; cf. Greg. Naz., Orat. xliii, 9). Third, passages are not wanting in the writings of the Greek Fathers in which the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son is clearly maintained: Greg. Thaumat., "Expos. fidei sec.", vers. saec. IV, in Rufius, Hist. Eccl., VII, xxv; Epiphan., Haer., c. lxii, 4; Greg. Nyss. Hom. iii in orat. domin.); Cyril of Alexandria, "Thes.", ass. xxxiv; the second canon of synod of forty bishops held in 410 at Seleucia in Mesopotamia; the Arabic versions of the Canons of St. Hippolytus; the Nestorian explanation of the Symbol.

"The only Scriptural difficulty deserving our attention is based on the words of Christ as recorded in John, xv, 26, that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, without mention being made of the Son. But in the first place, it can not be shown that this omission amounts to a denial; in the second place, the omission is only apparent, as in the earlier part of the verse the Son promises to "send" the Spirit." LINK

The Catholic Church recognizes Eastern Orthodox sacraments as valid. See paragraph 1399 of the Catechism and Canon 844 §2 of the 1984 Code of Canon Law.

The Immaculate Conception was known in the early Church. For example St. Ephraim the Syrian states: "Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity ...., alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body . . . . my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all-inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment . ... flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate" ("Precationes ad Deiparam" in Opp. Graec. Lat., III, 524-37).

Ludwig Ott, in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 442, explains the early Church practices which formed the basis for the development of the doctrine of indulgences. "In response to the intercessory appeals (Letters of Peace) of the Martyrs, the Church, especially the Church of North Africa in the 3rd century (St. Cyprian), granted to individual penitents in specific cases, a partial remission of the penitential punishments imposed. People confidently expected that God would remit to them the remainder of the punishments for sins on the intercession and for the sake of the Martyrs. In the early Middle Ages, under the influence of Germanic legal opinions, the Redemptions (penitential absolutions) appeared, by which severe confession punishments were transformed into easier substitution-orks (alms, pilgrimages)... In view of the Communion of Saints, helpers (monks) were permitted to assist in the performance of the penance, or a representative penance was allowed, especially in cases of sickness... The immediate preliminary fore-runners of Indulgences were absolutions, current since the earl Middle Ages, which were at first merely intercessions, but which later acquired more and more the character of an authoritative absolution."

For the evidence for the Papacy in the early Church see Jesus, Peter, and the Keys by Butler, Dahlgren, and Hess, and Upon this Rock by Steve Ray.
God bless you,
Ben Douglass


Question 37Communion in hand strikes back

Dear Robert, thank you very much for your reply! I think there is a misunderstanding here. I would NEVER say that a person, who receives Our Lord in his hand instead of in the mouth, is commiting a sin, unless he intentionally wants to devalue the Sacred Host. If I ever use the term sacrilege I mean it in objective sense, not subjective. A person might do something objectively wrong but may not sin, because he acts in good faith. Especially today, when people think it is the positive will of the Church to receive the Sacred Host on hand (here, in Czech Republic, it was foisted on the faithful as if receiving on tongue is a sign of backwardness and of a lack of self-esteem), we cannot speak about committing a sin in its subjective sense (i.e. culpability), but only in its objective sense. Here lays the difference between culpa and malum.

This is a distinction I really miss in the analyses of Ben Douglass.

R. Sungenis: I will forward your comment to Mr. Douglass. Personally, I would say that to call a practice a "sacrilege" implies that, whether the penitent knows it or not, the practice itself is objectively sinful. I agree with Mr. Douglass that is is not objectively sinful, and therefore is not subjectively sinful. It is a practice that should be stopped in light of tradition, yes, but not objectively sinful.

Moreover, you must also take into account that if communion in the hand is objectively sinful, then there is the possibility that the penitent has also comes into divine disfavor by ignorance. Not that we are under the Law, but the principle may still be applicable (Lv 4:2; 22:14; Nm 15:22). You put them in a position of being punished at large or of being shown disfavor by God for the very act that brings them His sanctifying grace. All in all, I believe that this is definitely a case in which one must make the proper distinction between a solemn practice of the Church and a doctrine of the Church. Communion in the hand is certainly not the latter. That being said, you know that I would heartily accept if the Church banned communion in the hand altogether. My only concern is the inappropriate label of "sacrilege."


Question 36Communion in hand

Dear Robert,
I was very suprised and sad to read the apology for the communion in hand on your website. I do not know the author of this piece, but did he ever read the literature that was written on this subject by other, non-SSPX authors, like Michael Davies or John Vennari? Especially Davies has a lot of solid documentation about the liturgical history and the sacrilege for which this practice was cancelled and also some other resons why this practice should be abolished. One of the prominent reasons is that this current practice is an element in the wholesale intentional destruction of the Catholic liturgy by the modernists and neo-protestants in the Catholic Church. Their intention, which they do not hide, was not to deepen the Eucharistic piety but to relativize the ontological differences between clergy and laymen.

On the other hand, I am grateful to you for your splendid artciles on the realtion between Catholic Church and Judaism.

R. Sungenis: Michal, The author of the piece is Ben Douglass, who has become the Vice-President of Apologetics at CAI. Ben is a very capable apologist and I trust his judgment and expertise in many areas. I have not met a mind yet as sharp as his when it comes to the need for the analytical.

As for the above article, I have not read the whole piece, but I do know the conclusion, and I agree with the conclusion -- communion in the hand is certainly not advisable and is certainly a break with tradition, but it is not a sacrilege. Sacrilege means it is sin, and I am certainly not going to accuse someone who receives Our Lord in the Church's most blessed sacrament of committing sin when they receive him in a hand-tongue motion as opposed to merely a tongue reception. We need to draw the line somewhere. Reacting to abuses is one thing; overreacting is quite another.

Also, I take issue with the rationale you use above: "One of the prominent reasons is that this current practice is an element in the wholesale intentional destruction of the Catholic liturgy by the modernists and neo-protestants in the Catholic Church. Their intention, which they do not hide, was not to deepen the Eucharistic piety but to relativize the ontological differences between clergy and laymen."

I understand your attempt here to position communion-in-the-hand as a symbol of the theological intent of the Novus Ordoites. And you are correct. However, we can't argue whether communion-in-the-hand is sin for the penitent based on what the intentions were of its engineers. We are now talking about the Catholic populace, not the radical theologians of post-V2. Despite what the liberals "intend," the fact is that 95% of the Catholic populace receives communion in the hand, and it is these sheep to whom we give our apologetic. We cannot accuse them of sin/sacrilege if they receive it in the hand. We certainly can give them the history of the issue and allow them to make their own judgment for their conscience sake, but we as lay people cannot go beyond that. God will judge the post-V2 engineers for their bad intentions, but for now their is a pastoral concern that those who do not have the same intention when they receive communion in the hand are not accused of sin.
Robert Sungenis


Question 35Medjugorje

Dear Robert Sungenis (or other CAI Staff),

You wrote that people shouldnt go to Medjugorge and you reguarly imply that people have been forbidden to go there by the church. As you can see from what I wrote to you below in my first email regarding this, I used to think that the church was against Medjugorge but however after more research, I am beginning to have a more open mind. By question is this, in light of the church statement below, what church statements do you base your position that the bishops and the church are against people going to Medjugorge? (as I know CAI always uses authoritative sources to back up it's opinions):

The numerous gatherings of the faithful.. require the attention and pastoral care..of the bishops (so that) a healthy devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may be promoted in accordance with the teachings of the Church". Private pilgrimages accompanied by suitable pastoral support are therefore permitted....(Zadar Declaration, which CTS publishers to the Holy See call 'the Church's current position')

From what I now understand Robert from other sources, Church organised pilgrimages will only be possible when the ecclesiastical examining body has reached a positive judgement. However it is possible to engage in private unofficial pilgrimages right now with a clear conscience.

Your response will as always be greatly appreciated,


R. Sungenis: Dave, until if and when the Church makes an official statement, they will leave room for such private ventures. But that doesn't mean the events at Medjugorje suddenly become worthy of our devotion. Only if the Vatican overrules the local bishop and states that there are, indeed, heavenly things happening at Medjugorje, would anything like the above have any significance whatsoever. As for now its only conventional protocol.


Question 34NT and End Times

Dear Mr. Sungenis:
Thank you for your prompt reply to my questions regarding Mark and Paul and the timing of the parousia, but your responses lead to the follow-on questions.

Regarding Mark 13:30, Jesus' wording is specific: "This generation" (like "This is my Body"). How can "this generation" mean a future generation? Isn't Jesus stating very clearly the events that will happen in his own generation (see Mark 13:23-27)?

R. Sungenis: Do you have my commentary on Matthew -- the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, vol. 1? I cover this issue there. "This generation," because of its ambiguity in the Greek, can refer to that generation or a generation at large.


Question 33 Mr. Sungenis, where will you go when you die?

Mr. Sungenis,
I read your argument against what Mr. R. C. Sproul had to say. I thought that your answer was written in an educated manner and I appreciated how you looked at the original text in the original language. I have not read your book yet, and I thought that maybe you could answer a couple questions for me. It would help me better understand where you are coming from. I want to know how people really think about questions that sometimes seem so simple, but really help develop doctrinal beliefs and dogmatic assertions.

First question - Where do you believe you will go when you die?
Second question - If God asked you why He should let you into heaven, what would you say?

Final question - If justification requires both faith and works, why did Jesus die on the cross, and why wasn't His death and resurrection sufficient enough to cover us from our sins by grace and through faith, not by works, so no man can boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9).

Thank you for your time sir, and I would really just like to know where you stand on these questions, because it would help me understand more about the person writing the apologetic material. It is great when scholars can help others learn by their wisdom. I want to rightly divide the Word of Truth, studying to show myself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed - 2 Timothy 2:15.

Thankful for the grace of God,
Mr. Dwight Bernier

R. Sungenis: (1) If I am still believing and serving in Christ when I die, I will go to heaven. (2) I would say "because you promised that whoever believes in you and does the works of the Father will inherit eternal life." (3) The Bible never teaches that Jesus paid for our sins. It says he paid the price required by God, which was a propitiation for sin. If Jesus had actually paid for our sins, then God couldn't send anyone to hell, because he can't punish twice for the same sin. The Bible and Catholic theology teach that Jesus' death propitiated the wrath of God so that God would, once again, open up the possibility of salvation to mankind. Once we have that possibility restored to us, we then demonstrate to God our faith and works so that he will be merciful to us and allow us to inherit eternal life.


Question 32If I don't attend the Novus Ordo Mass am I in mortal sin?

Hi Ben,

Thank you kindly for your response, I appreciate your advise, it has been most helpful.

I had written a lengthy reply, but in hindsight I chose not to send it. I believe we concur on the state of things in the Church. Why are they deliberately suppressing the Latin Mass? Why did they use a mason and six heretics to develop the New Mass? Why are they slowly dismantling Tradition in our Churches and Schools? My greatest concern was that the agenda is to transform the Church into the cornerstone of the one world religion; this is treason and to support it, is treasonous.

B. Douglass: I'm sure the bishops who supress the Latin Mass have a wide variety of motivations. Some may not like its theology; some might have devoted their lives to the post-Vatican II "renewal" and hence don't want their life's work undone; some may simply want to avoid divisivness.
Paul VI did not knowingly appoint a Freemason to create the New Mass. After Paul VI was shown evidence that Cardinal Bugnini was a Freemason, he shipped him off to Tehran. I suppose the reason Bugnini had six Protestants on his committee was because he wanted to be ecumenical and make sure new Mass would be less offensive to Protestants.

Liberals who dismantle tradition in our churches and schools probably do so because they believe Catholicism needs to change to be relevant to modern times. Of course, this is a very inconsistent position, since if this were true all the Catholic Church's claims about herself would be false, and they would have no reason to be Catholic at all. But then again, heresy has always been intellectually bankrupt.

However, the point is, as you wisely pointed out, the Mass is valid because it was introduced by a validly ordained Pope. If the attack is on anything, it is on the Papacy and the Authority of the Church. You have inspired in me the understanding that we really should do all we can to support the Papacy in this day and age, especially through prayer.

Our Blessed Lord has already won the battle, so when He said that the Gates of Hell will not prevail, His victory has already vouchsafed this promise - it is accomplished, end of story.

Furthermore, without the Authority of the Church, we would have no Councils, Doctrines or indeed Scriptures to compare anything with.

Actually a lot of these issues are contained in the writings of the Apostles - for example St . Paul didn't invalidate the Corinthian Church when they lost their wits, he chastised them. We have our masonic elements, the early church had the gnostic "Super Apostles".

Regarding the lack of respect, I refer to disrespect in general, for instance unconsecrated hands, indeed women, handing out the Eucharist, people chatting, the beach fashion, the band's interpretation of The Hosanna, and on and on. It's hard not to be upset,but perhaps instead of complaining I could offer this up in union with Our Lord's suffering.

B. Douglass: Unconsecrated hands were allowed to touch the Eucharist in many places in the first millenium of the Catholic Church (cf. St. Basil, Letter 93; St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 23:21; Quintsext Synod of Trullo, Canon CI; St. John Damascus, De Fide Orthodoxa Book IV, ch. XIII), and Pope John Paul II stated in Inaestimabile Donum 10 and Dominicae Cenae 11 that laity can be authorized to distribute Communion, in certain circumstances. This is a prudential judgment of the Church, and while we may think it a bad one, we have to abide by it. On the other hand, you have a legitimate complaint against people chatting at Mass and the lack of modesty in dress. You have the right idea with your suggestion of offering up your suffering in union with the Cross of Christ.

Thank you again for your kind email.

Kind Regards

Gloria In Te Domine!

B. Douglass: You're welcome.
Ben Douglass


Question 31A question on God's emotion

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I recently met someone who disagrees with you in the area of biblical scholarship. I asked him what in particular. He said, your tendency toward anthropomorphism. I did not understand what he meant. He explained further. He said God does not hate His creation though sinful and disobedient (such as when he killed many of the Israelites during the Exodus) and God does not regret His handiwork (e.g. Gen 6:6). In short, God's emotions do not vacillate such as with us humans and does not possess human qualities of volatility and fickleness. Wouldn't you be inclined to agree? Has he gotten a false impression? Thank you very much.
God bless,
Tatyana Talamas

R. Sungenis: Tatyana, the issue has never been defined by the Church, so there is room for disagreement. The Fathers were also divided on the issue, right down the middle. I've written extensively on this subject. See the essay I wrote to Jonathan Field at www.catholicintl.com/catholicissues/field2-1.htm
Scripture is clear that God has an emotive dimension. The issue is whether we can take these passages at face value. I believe we can, because there is nothing evil about emotion. It works with the intellect and will, and we all believe God has intellect and will.

Of course, we must be careful to distinguish between God's emotion and human emotion, just as we distinguish between God's intellect from human intellect. God's qualities are far above ours, and, in fact, are infinite.
On the other hand, I would also agree with the statement above: "In short, God's emotions do not vacillate such as with us humans and does not possess human qualities of volatility and fickleness." God's emotions are perfect, without flaw, and perfectly suited to his divinity. They are not fickle nor do they vacillate, as human emotions often do. They are true and perfect emotions we would expect to see in a given situation, because God cannot lie.

For example, if God sees a person persecuted and maligned unjustly, God feels sorry for that person. This is why Scripture says God has "compassion and pity" upon us. I take those words as a genuine description of God.
Conversely, to say that God is emotionless to the persecuted and maligned person (as if he were a robot with no feeling) is a grave disservice to divinity. The emotionless god is the type we see in the world's religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc) not in Christianity.

The difficulty some people have is that they don't want to assign negative emotion to God (e.g., anger) because they think that anger is sinful or beneath divinity. That is wrong, and it is certainly not the way Scripture addresses God's anger. As long as the anger is justified (as is the case when people sin), then there is nothing sinful about it.

In fact, appeasing God's anger over the sins of mankind was taught by the Fathers, the Councils and the Popes as the basis for the Atonement offered by Christ on the cross. This is outlined in detail in my book Not By Bread Alone.


Question 30Baptism of Desire, for the Final Time

Jim: Good morning Robert. I know you know I was reading all your exchanges with Mike Ryan so when you answered me about what I told you Gerry Matatics said about no exceptions for WATER Baptism I forwarded your email to Mike Ryan. Mike has written back to me and I feel that I owe it to you to send you what Mike had to say. I also remember the story from the book "Raised From The Dead" by Fr. Albert J. Hebert, S.M.. I know you probably already read this book but why did these Holy Saints raise these people from the dead and then Baptize them. The one story tells about a girl who died while living with this family her whole life. She went to Mass, received Holy Communion,went to Confession her whole life. She lived her whole life as a Catholic. While the Saint was away she died and upon his return he threw himself on her body and prayed for hours for God to restore her to life. When the saint raised her from the dead everyone asked the saint to ask her where she was and what she saw. She said she was stopped by an angel and he said she could not go any farther. She was sent back.Now when the saint heard her say this he made everyone get out of the room. He then realized that she had never been Baptized. Now if anyone desired baptism it was this girl but she still had to get the Water. Robert I just can`t see it how some people don`t need the sacraments and the church like the rest of us do. The stories from the Apostles, the Bible,the Saints and all the Tradition of the church is always the same, WATER. I guess I still feel like St Gregory where he said he just "Can`t See It" (baptism of desire) Well take care and the best to you and your family. Below is the response form Mike Ryan.


R. Sungenis: Jim, neither the Church nor I have ever said no one needed Baptism to enter heaven. What we have said is that, in certain cases that have not yet been defined by the Church, the desire for Baptism can suffice for actual water Baptism. Thereby, no one enters heaven without receiving the sacrament. I hope that’s clear.

As for the story above, don’t put any stock into it. It is just a legend without a shred of proof. The Church has certainly never taught such a thing, and never would.

Ryan: Thank you for forwarding Robert’s response to your email. After three very much one-sided and fruitless exchanges with him, I had to debate whether it was worth responding to this latest heterodoxy. I put this aside for a while; but his response, I must admit, was truly “grating”; so, herein is my (I hope last) reply. If you wish to forward this on to Robert, be my guest, but I do not anticipate extending this dialogue with him – and perhaps that’s for the best.

R. Sungenis: Heterodoxy? I see Mr. Ryan has now transferred himself from having an intellectual discussion to placing himself as the Magisterium, even though the real Magisterium has never officially defined what Trent meant by Baptism of Desire. That ought to tell you a lot about Mr. Ryan’s motives and his conclusions.

Ryan: I hope that you can see by now that Robert Sungenis is intractably entrenched in his misinterpretation of Trent Session 6, Ch 4; so much so that he states that “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.”

That is all so very noble, but it is also blatant hypocrisy, for Robert clearly renders a different meaning to the infallible unchangeable Truth of his choosing when he posits that there may be more than one interpretation given to the clear words of sacred dogma; which is warranted by the blanket doctrinal escape clause called “general contingencies” (which is nothing more than a carte blanche license to interpret dogma to one’s liking).

R. Sungenis: Here we go again: “blatant hypocrisy,” “his choosing,” “doctrinal escape clause,” and below “erroneous and dangerous,” “inanity and heterodoxy.” Jim, you can always tell the weakness of someone’s argument when they have to resort to such mind-numbing language to convince people of their position. It is all very unnecessary, and I can see right through it. “General contingencies” is simply a description for something that is, indeed, contingent, because the Church has not yet defined Baptism of Desire. Until then, we have the right and duty to take Trent for its plain words: there is baptism by laver or there is baptism by desire, and either of them accomplish justification.

Ryan: In order to justify this erroneous and dangerous position, he goes on to explain that as Catholics, while we must hold to the clear words of sacred dogma without any recession in meaning, we must also recognize that the clear words proscribed are not necessarily true in all cases, meaning that there may be a recession in meaning by exception. Yes James, this is precisely what Robert Sungenis believes and professes.

Before exposing the complete inanity and heterodoxy of such a fallacious proposition, I must take exception to Robert’s accusation that I am trying “to alter the words “OR” and “DESIRE” from Trent’s decree”, for I am doing no such thing. I do not need to prove that “OR” means “AND” to substantiate my arguments from the teachings of Trent, for there is no need to alter the words “OR” or “Desire” as we have only to examine these words in light of their grammatical context in order to ascertain their contextual meaning, which is: That without the laver of regeneration or the vow/desire for it, the translation to justification cannot take place; Or, as I have demonstrated more than once, neither the laver nor the vow for it can be lacking – and that is precisely what Trent is teaching by its use of the word sine - “without” and the contextual meaning of the corresponding words which follow. To see how easily this is proven, I have provided several examples:

R. Sungenis: Unfortunately for Mr. Ryan, he is not the Magisterium. Until if and when he can show us where Trent, or any other dogmatic teaching of the Church, has said that “and” = “or” in the case of baptism, then he is barking up the wrong tree. Any attempt to formulate a sentence in English, as he tries to do below, so that he can replace “or” with “and” does not prove anything. Trent has already told us how it wishes to use the words “or desire,” for it uses them again in Chapter 14 with the words:

“Hence it must be taught that the repentance of a Christian after his fall is very different from that at his baptism, and that it includes not only a cessation from sins, and a detestation of them, or ‘a contrite and humble heart,’ but also the sacramental confession of the same, at least in DESIRE and to be made in its season, and sacerdotal absolution, as well as satisfaction by fasting, almsgiving, prayers, and other devout exercises of the spiritual life, not indeed for the eternal punishment, which is remitted together with the guilt either by the sacrament or the DESIRE of the sacrament, but for the temporal punishment.”

You will see above that Chapter 14 uses the word “DESIRE” twice. The first usage is a little different than the second, and the second is very similar to the one in Chapter 4. But since Chapter 14 obviously intends to coincide its two usages of “DESIRE” so that there is no contradiction between the two, then the first use of “DESIRE” must match the second use.

The first use says that the sacrament of confession is to be done “at least in DESIRE.” The words “at least” denote that the action is something less than the actual performance of going to a priest for confession. That being the case, Trent has defined a contingency by the use of the word “DESIRE.” That is, a sacramental confession can be accomplished by the DESIRE for such, without a priest. Afterwards, the penitent, if possible (that is, if he/she is still living) is to then seek “sacerdotal absolution.”

Having established that order of protocol, the second usage of “DESIRE” in the phrase “or the desire of the sacrament,” must coincide in intent with the first. This requires that “or” not be interpreted as “and,” for that was never suggested or implied by the first use of “DESIRE.”

As you can see, Trent is not using “or the desire” in the way Mr. Ryan would have us believe. Chapter 14 is very useful in instances like this because it neutralizes Mr. Ryan’s reliance on the “without...or” English sentences he brought to his aid, namely “A candidate’s appointment to the military ‘Officer’ grade cannot take place without the approval of Congress or the vow to uphold the Constitution of the Unites States.”

Although there is an ambiguity in a “without...or” sentence so that we cannot be sure whether the sentence is saying that both events must be performed, or whether it is saying that only one of the events must be performed, that ambiguity is taken away by Trent’s use of the phrase “at least in desire.”

The same goes for Trent’s use of the word “desire” in Canon 4: “If anyone shall say that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation, but are superfluous, and that, although all are not necessary for every individual, WITHOUT THEM OR WITHOUT THE DESIRE OF THEM through faith alone men obtain from God the grace of justification: let him be anathema.”

This is the end of the discussion, as far as I’m concerned.
Thank you for bringing it to my attention, Jim.
Robert Sungenis


Question 28Fr. Most and Extra ecclesiam nulla salus

I have really profited from Father Most's works. However I was troubled by his treatment of extra ecclesiam nulla salus in an appendix of his work Our Father's Plan. I am working from memory here since I have not read this carefully in some time, but it did seem to me that he was actively looking for the broadest interpretation of this important phrase and was supportive of any Vatican II language which would do so.
I have not been able to pin down just what extra ecclesiam nulla salus means. Father Most offers what he calls restrictive texts and broad texts from the Fathers and the Magisterium. I don't know how exhaustive the cited texts are. But the conclusion seems to be that one needn't be an active member of the Catholic Church as long as one is 'doing the right thing' so to speak. For the rest it seems they might suffer from invincible ignorance so that Hell might actually not have any inhabitants (something that the late Pope seemed to hint at once) or very few. This last is certainly not something that Father Most concluded, but it does seem the natural result of the reasoning. This solution seems to empty the phrase of any real content. If one insists that to be saved one must be a member of our church and then one so broadly defines membership, the phrase thus loses all meaning. I can't see how this doesn't support a sort of religious indifferentism in spite of Father Most's claims to the contrary. My priest insists that Protestants are not prevented from reaching Heaven. Many Protestant mainline churches support abortion, gay marriage, etc. things which are mortal sins. I converted to the Church (by God's grace) but by myself and brought my wife and child with me because I believe her teachings. She is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. My life would certainly be easier if I did not have to disagree with my friends and family members who are outside the church about so many matters; I have to stand against so much of what our culture promotes and endorses.

So my question is: what does the phrase extra ecclesiam nulla salus really mean? Do Protestants who support mortal sins have an equal chance of getting to heaven? Can they really suppose abortion and gay marriage are not mortal sins? Can I quit arguing with my father-in-law (a Methodist minister) about these and other issues and whose beliefs in so many areas are very far from orthodox? If all of us have our 'hearts in the right place' or suffer from invincible ignorance, then it seems we are wasting our time. I have understood "no salvation outside the church" as an obligation to live within the sacramental life of the church, following its teachings and doing good works in a grace filled life; works which have merit only because they are done in the state of grace which is a gift of God. Am I wrong?

Of course God will have mercy upon whom he will have mercy. But if the world is largely populated by the well intentioned and the invincibly ignorant, then we can declare victory and go home. Obviously you can't agree or you wouldn't have dedicated your life to Catholic apologetics.

Thanks for your great work. I am (slowly) making my way through your books.
Rob Ramsey

B. Douglass: Baptism properly administered (in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, with flowing water and the intention to do as the Church does) washes one whiter than snow and incorporates one into the mystical body of Christ, which is one and the same thing with the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. Most Protestant denominations do this. However, a baptized person who becomes culpable for heresy (denying Catholic dogma) or schism (refusing submission to the Roman Pontiff) is severed from the mystical body of Christ, and thus damned.
So, Protestants who die after baptism and before becoming culpable for one of these sins may be saved, though they would saved as Catholics, not as Protestants per se. If they commit no mortal sins, or if they are perfectly contrite, they in fact will be saved. Such would be the case with a baptized Protestant who died before reaching the age of reason, for example. Or again, an African who was evangelized by a Protestant missionary and was baptized, but who never learned anything about Christianity but what this missionary told him, might not be culpable for heresy or schism and thus could be saved. He might be a material heretic (one who does not believe everything the Catholic Church teaches, but is not morally responsible for this) but he would not be a formal heretic (one who is morally responsible for not believing everything the Catholic Church teaches).

Regarding how many Protestants are only material heretics and schismatics, and how many are formal, that is something only God can know for sure (excepting children under the age of reason, whom we know to be only material heretics). For the sake of evangelism, however, I believe we should presume them all to be in need of explicit conversion to the Catholic Church. Especially with regards to the well educated, the chances that they are not morally responsible for their beliefs are slim to none. Besides, even Protestants who are only material heretics are missing out on an abundance of sacramental grace, and thus are in more danger of falling into mortal sin than Catholics, and will not have available the easiest means of getting out (Confession). Not to mention they do not participate in the central act of worship instituted by Christ.

Ben Douglass


Question 27Sunday Rest and Matt 23:35

little while back in your Q & A you said that we shouldn't go to restaurants, etc., on Sundays, because it encourages work. But isn't the abstinence from work a requirement only binding on Catholics?

Also, is the Tridentine Mass's "effundetur" (it WILL be shed) a mistranslation of the present participle used in Matthew 26:28?

B. Douglass: The Catechism states in paragraph 2172: "God's action is the model for human action. If God "rested and was refreshed" on the seventh day, man too ought to "rest" and should let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed." The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money." If we engage in actions which force others [especially the poor] to work on Sunday, we are frustrating this plan.

The present passive participle ekchunnomenon which St. Jerome translates as "effundetur" occurs in Matthew 23:35 where it refers to the past. Present participles can also refer to the future (Acts 21:3). St. Jerome's translation is justified, though Robert argues that ekchunnomenon should be interpreted as referring to the present in Matthew 26:28 in Not By Bread Alone and the CASB, due to its connection with the present tense verb estin =is.

Ben Douglass


Question 26Response to James White on the Assumption

In your recent response to James White you wrote, "The Catholic Church clearly teaches that she is the servant of Scripture (Dei Verbum, Vatican II). But where Scripture is either silent or unclear, the Church is specially guided by the Holy Spirit to determine what the faithful are to believe. The Church had such guidance when she dogmatically declared that Christ was homoousios, not homoiosios, since Scripture is silent on the nature of Christ."

Is it correct to say that Scripture is silent on the nature of
Christ? I would think the answer is no. Regarding the point you are making in the above excerpt wouldn't it be more accurate to say that "Scripture is silent on whether Christ was homoousios or homoiosios." ?

Dominus vobiscum,
Bernard S
Marion, IA

B. Douglass: I think your rephrase of Robert's statements clarifies what he was driving at.

Ben Douglass


Question 25Authority

I have a question from an Anglican. Regarding the following passage from Peter.

[2 Pet 3:15] and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, [2 Pet 3:16] speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

Can we conclude that Pauls letters were identified as scripture very early? Consequently scripture was fairly well recognised from the apostles, which would point to a sola scriptora position regarding authority after the apostles died?

B. Douglass: Since we are not modernists who believe 2 Peter was written in the second century, we can justly conclude that St. Paul's letters were recognized as Scripture very early in the Christian Church. But it would be a tremendous leap of logic to go from there to sola Scriptura. First, other books of the New Testament, such as James, Jude, 2&3 John, and Revelation were disputed for quite a while in the early Church. Second, even if the canon of Scripture were fully formed and subject to a general consesus by the death of the last apostle, the Bible would still contain passages which teach the binding authority of Sacred Tradition.

God bless,
Ben Douglass


Question 24About Europe And Islam

The Church seems to be in real trouble in Europe where Catholics have virtually given up their faith by example of refusing to have children- While Islam is moving into Europe with much pro-creative zeal and excitement for their faith. Do you think Europe will become a Muslim continent? And what can be done to save Catholic (sic) Europe?
Jerry A

B. Douglass: If the current demographic trends continue, Europe will eventually become a Muslim continent. As far as what can be done to prevent this: the Pope can consecrate Russia to Mary's Immaculate Heart in union with all the bishops, in fulfillment of Our Lady's requests at Fatima. We can all pray the Rosary daily, perform the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays, pursue sanctity, teach, write, work, be fruitful and multiply, etc.

Ben Douglass


Question 23Question about Catholicism from a Protestant

Thanks for your response Ben (the name of my second son by the way) Thanks for the book recommendation Funny you know, I think of mainstream Protestanism and a lot of Catholcism to be pretty much the same - liberal theology is rampant. I have a few more questions for you and I will leave you alone - but I do want to thank you for your response and hope you will answer me this: Question 1 What exactly is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Please use the Scripture. Question 2 Is there salvation outside of the Catholic church? To be more specific, the grace that God bestows outside of the Church due to the merit's of Christ's teachings - (if I understand your reponse correctly) - would this grace be enough to enter heaven? Question 3 (depending on question 2) If so, why become Catholic? Question 4 (again dependent on Questions 2 & 3) If there is salvation outside of the Catholic church, who would fall under the anathema of Trent? (knowing that you beleive I do). Question 5 When you give a simple reading of the New Testament and the activity of the early Church, isn't it hard to find any resemblance of Rome's hierachy and political setup? I do not see anything that resembles Rome - not in titles (elders and deacons), no mediation through Mary and the saints, no pope, cardinals, Mass, etc,etc. It seems the NT believers were a rather uncomplicated bunch testifying of the saving grace of God through the finished work (Galatians is a wonderful book to this end). How do you account for the seemingly large discrepency between first century beleivers and the instution of Rome we see today? (please do not say culture!!) Question 6 What do you think of the current movement about (mainly Charismatic) to unite Roman Catholics and evangelicals? (Please keep in mind Benedicts' homily to unite all Christians). This answer would be very interesting. And finally, to clarify my first question as I outlined my salvation 'experience' - it was in response to a clear outline of the truth of the Gospel presented in the abolute authority of God's Word - to which all subjective experience must be validated - I have conversed with many Mormons (I have even met one of their 12 apostles - Joseph B Wirthlen) and understand their reliance on subjective experience - hence the need all the more for the final authority of God's Word above all opnions of men - including that of Rome. Truth does not need anyone to defend it, no institution to embibe it - just faith to validate it. The Word alone my friend - the countless lives I have seen changed - especially Roman Catholics - the joy of a relationship with Christ Jesus - God over all - all in submission to His holy Word. It is a hard argument - to see Latin america in droves turning to Christ through the Gospel - lives set free from sin - and you would say deluded and under anathema? I am glad we have the Lord's opinion to fully lean upon - sirs, what must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! and again in Romans (the verse I heard and got saved to: "that if you confess with your mouth, Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead - you will be saved" - just to take the Word at face value is quite 'liberating.' An honest inquirer - still a bit baffled - still leaning on the Word alone through Christ alone, Ian

B. Douglass: I agree that liberal theology has an appallingly large foothold in the Catholic Church today, though it has not, and never will, receive official sanction from the Magisterium. I'll answer your questions in the order you asked them.

1. I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ refers to the totality of His teaching/doctrine/law, which includes:

Matt 12:36-37: "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
His answer to the rich young man who asked Him how to be saved in Matt 19.

Mark 16:16: "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."

1 Peter 3:21: "Baptism now saves you..."

James 2:24: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

And His priestly actions on our behalf: His sacrificial death, His resurrection, His Ascension, His assuming the eternal high priesthood in heaven, and His promise of return.

2. It is Catholic dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. See the IV Lateran Council, Cantate Domino, Unam Sanctam, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, Mortalium Animos, et al. God gives grace to all: Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Atheists, Protestants, Catholics, and He gives all sufficient grace for salvation. If one cooperates with said grace, God will lead one to truth and righteousness, and ultimately to salvation in Jesus Christ as a member of His body, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. But sadly, grace is resistible, and not everyone dies as a Catholic in a state of grace.
3&4. Taken care of by number 2.

5. Deacons are a part of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, as in New Testament times. The Catholic Church reads presbuteroi as "priests" and not simply elders in the Protestant sense. Which view is correct is dependent upon the question of the Mass, since the defining mark of a priest is that he offers sacrifice (i.e. if presbuteroi offer sacrifice, they are priests; if they do not, they are not). The title episcopos [bishop] is used in the New Testament, though it is not reserved exclusively for the monarchical leader of a local Church, as it has been since the early second century. In any case, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is in the New Testament in substance, regardless whether the semantic domains of presbuteros and episcopos have changed. In Galatians 2:12 St. Paul states that Judaizing Christians came "from James" thus using one person (the bishop) to denote the Church at Jerusalem (cf. Acts 21:18). St. Paul consecrates one man (bishop Titus) in Crete to appoint presbyters in every town (Titus 1:5; cf. 1 Timothy 5:17-22). The New Testament does not contain an exhaustive treatise on ecclesiology, but what data it does contain fits very well with the Catholic view. Moreover, the Catholic view is confirmed by early Church Fathers such as Ss. Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons, and Cyprian of Carthage.

The mediation of the Saints and Angels is mentioned in Revelation 5:8 and 8:4. The Papacy is mentioned in Matt 16:18-9, cf. Isaiah 22:22 and in John 21:15-17; Acts 1:15-26; Acts 15:7-11. The office of Cardinal is an honorary title, and not essential to the constitution if the Catholic Church. The Mass, on the other hand, is very much taught throughout Sacred Scripture. It was typified in Melchizedek's sacrifice of bread and wine (Genesis 14:18) and the paschal sacrifice, prophesied in Malachi 1:11, taught by Christ in the bread of life discourse, instituted by Christ at the last supper, and taught in Hebrews 9:23; 13:10; Revelation 5:6.

6. True unity of Christians can only be found in the return of non-Catholics to the Catholic Church, as I'm sure Pope Benedict XVI would agree. I do not believe ecumenical dialogue has been a very effective means of achieving that unity, but there's nothing wrong with it in principle, so long as there is no compromise of Catholic doctrine.

I agree that God's word is the final authority, above all mere opinions of men. Where I disagree with you is where that word is found. You believe it is found in Scripture alone, but if you are going to argue that sola Scriptura is an important doctrine, and all important doctrine is taught in the Bible, you need to demonstrate that the Bible teaches sola Scriptura. My Bible says quite the opposite, namely that the word of God is contained in both Scripture and Tradition (e.g. 2 Thessalonians 2:15). And given the biblical example of the repeated apostasy of the Israelites from the true faith, I'd say truth does need an authoritative, God-ordained teacher.

Given that much of Latin America is infected with an insipid, nominal Catholicism, I can see why many Latin Americans might be excited by the message of evangelical Protestantism. It probably contains more of the gospel than the empty shell of lost Catholicism that they're used to (no thanks to the Freemasons). I can see why the Protestant message of justification by faith alone could result in a feeling of liberation and joy. But it is an unfounded, unbiblical joy, and those who place their trust in the imputed righteousness of Christ will be sorely disappointed when they find themselves before the judgment seat of Christ, liable for every word, deed, and thought. They have not been set free from sin; they have been taught they have an impunity which does not exist.

I'm all for taking the Word of God at face value. All those in whom the theological virtue of faith inheres will be saved. This virtue is infused by God at baptism, along with hope and charity, and is destroyed by mortal sin.

God bless,
Ben Douglass


Question 22Justification and "The Salvation Controversy" by James Akin

Hi Bob,
I have read "Not By Faith Alone" and very much enjoyed it. It is nice to see erudition among the mass of dumbed down theology and apologetics nowadays. I have also read James Akin's "The Salvation Controversy." Wondering what your thoughts are on his view on "works of Torah" as the meaning behind Paul's "works" as used in Romans. Thanks for your time.
Todd K

B. Douglass: See Robert's essay, "Works of the Law: What Are They?" LINK

Ben Douglass


Question 21Curses!

First of all, I really enjoy your website. I just read for the third time your essay on Works of the Law. Fascinating!

However, I have another question not at all related--about curses:

My wife and I are concerned that certain people we have departed from for the best interests of our marriage are cursing us! We are concerned that they, Catholics as they are, are praying prayers for their own interests against our own, and that they feel negatively about our marriage and have acted scandelously towards our engagement, and marriage before; some are pentecostal/charismatic catholics who speak in "tongues."

Can their prayers become curses? My wife and I are both Catholic and we go to confession on a regular basis. I heard on some tapes by Fr Corapi, "Immortal Combat," series, that Catholics in the state of grace cannot be harmed by curses. Then I heard from some friends who are practicing Catholics also, that they went to a St Michael Shrine, though it was Orthodox, and prayed a long prayer about being released from "generational curses." Then they prayed that they could be released from every kind of demon and curse that would come to mind, anger (the bad kind I assume), unforgiveness etc. And then they had various experiences, some visual, of being released from these demons and curses. One of the experiences was a visual experience of a grandmother who was angry and shouting, but not audible and that they, through putting together past memoreies figured out was the one cursing them. We decided not to pray this long prayer that our friends did because it seemed pentecostal in the language and it had some things done three times because satanic curses are done three times and there is a seal from demonic influences in it etc. We decided to pray the divine mercy instead and receive the benefits of the, "blood and water which gushed forth from the side of Christ," as it occurs through the Divine Mercy chaplet.

But yet, sometimes we suspect we are the victims of negative
prayers--curses from people in our recent premarriage past and that they are directed toward my wife. The bad people are all associated with my past specifically--all peole who tried to keep me from marrying my wife, to become a priest, to get involved with a friends daughter, etc Now, my wife may be very sick, and for reasons tagential to things mentioned above, we are wondering if we (she especially) are the victims of negative prayers--curses.

Thank you much, and we really appreciate your thoughts on this.

B. Douglass: Fr. Gabrielle Amorth, cheif exorcist of the diocese of Rome, disagrees with Fr. Corapi. And as good a preacher as Fr. Corapi may be, this is Fr. Amorth's area of expertise, so I trust his judgment better. In An Exorcist Tells His Story (Ignatius Press, 1999) p. 130 he states "Curses invoke evil, and the origin of all evil is demonic. When curses are spoken with true perfidy, especially if there is a blood relationship between the one who casts them and the accursed, the outcome can be terrible. The most common instances that I have encountered involved parents or grandparents who called down evil upon children or grandchildren. The most serious consequences occur when the evil wish is aginst someone's life or when it is pronounced on a special occasion, such as a wedding. The authority and the bonds that tie parents to their children are stronger than any other person's." He then gives three examples from his personal experience in which parents cursed their children, and the curses were fulfilled, in one case "despite exorcism and intense prayer." If you are in fact the victim of a curse, the danger is very real, and I would strongly urge you to find an exorcist in your diocese. If there isn't one, go to the bishop himself.

Ben Douglass


Question 20If I don't attend the Novus Ordo Mass am I in mortal sin?

I was hoping that you would be so kind as to offer me your advice on a matter.

Firstly, I completely agree with you regarding our required obedience to the Pope. What Our Blessed Lord said regarding the Seat of Moses is even more relevant to the papacy - especially when we have His promise that the Church will not fall. We cannot become a law unto ourselves, that is the Luciferian way, do what thou wilt.

However, in my heart I have overwhelming doubts about the sacraments of the Novus Ordo. In fact, I am convinced that the masonic force, driven by the illuminati , behind the Novus Ordo Seclorum is the same force behind the Novus Ordo. There can be no New World Order with a Traditional Catholic Church, so they want a new ecunumical church. Bit by bit, slowly heat the water and the frog will boil.

Aside from the theological concerns, I find the lack of respect
insufferable. In conscience, I cannot attend the Novus Ordo.

This is a huge problem because it is hard to find a Traditional Mass here in Singapore. I really need to go to Mass, for obvious reasons, but also because I want my children to grow up in a Catholic culture.

If my aversion to the Novus Ordo, in your opinion, is theologically unfounded, then I would really appreciate it if you could offer any advice or recommend an article or book to read to correct my misunderstandings.

In my opinion, the "perfect oblation offered by the gentiles the world over" is being supplanted by the traditions of men; the thanksgiving meal of the protestant reformers....how can I support this treason?

Failing that, what can I do if I can't attend a Novus Ordo mass in good conscience, and the Traditional Mass is only once a month, but it is both my duty and desire to receive weekly communion and confession?

Furthermore, am I in mortal sin if I don't attend mass once a week because the Traditional Mass is once a fortnight? Surely the responsibility is upon the Church to provide for the faithful?

To suppress the Traditional Mass and to only offer the Novus Ordo, and then to mandate weekly mass or mortal sin stinks of propaganda to me.

I'm also tired of Priests laughing at the suggestion of a Latin mass, as something "old fashioned" and unfamiliar to modern society. How come the Muslims, world over (even poor children in Africa!), can learn to read the Koran in Arabic, but we have to give up the Traditional Mass because it is in Latin? Ah, I digress, forgive me.

I thank you for taking the time and attention to consider my concerns. I do hope to hear from you soon, although I understand that you are busy. May the Good Lord continue to bless you and your great work.

Kindest Regards
David H

B. Douglass: I agree with you that there is no room in the Novus Ordo Saeclorum for the Catholic faith, and that the Freemasons who want to bring about the NOS want traditional Catholicism out of their way. But the Church is indefectible, and hence they are never going to succeed. Michael Davies' book I Am with You Always quotes many theologians to the effect that the indefectibility of the Church excludes the possibility of the Pope promulgating an invalid or illicit rite. Hence, even if Bugnini was a Freemason, a valid Pope (Paul VI) promulgated the Mass he helped create, so it must be a valid Mass. The Novus Ordo still contains the essential form of the Sacrament, which is simply the words of the Institution (see section 2 of this article: www.newadvent.org and Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (TAN Books, 1974) pp. 391ff), so as long as the priest uses bread and wine (the essential matter) and has the intention to do as the Church does, he confects the Eucharist. Whatever beauty may be mising from the new Mass is irrelevant to the question of its validity.

Also, the theology of the sacrifice of the Mass is clearly maintained in the Novus Ordo liturgy, even if it may not be expressed as fully or as beautifully as in the Tridentine, or in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may become acceptable to God the almighty Father." "May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands..." "From age to age you gather a people to yourself so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name." "Look with favor on your Church's offering, and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself. Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood..." This is the perfect oblation prophesied by Malachi. The Reformers could not accept any of these statements, at least the way the Catholic Church understands them.

What do you mean by the "lack of respect" at the Novus Ordo Mass? If you believe that something intrinsic to the Mass, in the rubrics, is disrespectful, then you are wrong. If there is truly a liturgical abuse, on the other hand, you have a valid complaint, and should contact the bishop. But the Novus Ordo can be celebrated well, and you can find good priests who do so.

Indeed you must if you cannot find a Latin Mass offered every week.

Failing to attend Mass on a Sunday or Holy day of obligation when no extraordinary circumstances prevent you from doing so is, objectively, a mortal sin, though if your conscience demands you avoid the Novus Ordo this could mitigate your culpability.

I agree wholeheartedly with your comparison to Muslims reading the Qur'an in Arabic.

Ben Douglass


Question 19Trusting the 'prophetic word'

What is the position of The Church regarding the prophetic word? It seems to be a potentially deceptive practice, how can one discern truth in this type of environment? We don't want to deny charisms of the Holy Spirit or God's grace working in and through his people (even separated brethren), yet being tricked by the countless protestant sects and cults isn't a better option. Do you have any good discernment advice regarding the so-called 'prophetic word'? If not, any suggested reading?

God Bless you...

B. Douglass: Robert has written an article on speaking in tongues, available at Link.

Ben Douglass


Question 18Usury

I am intrigued by an apparently unique phenomenon within the history of the Catholic Church and would appreciate your comments.

For sake of brevity, I assert (documentation upon request, but available through any google search)

1. According to Lumen Gentium #25, the Catholic Church has infallible condemned the practice of usury.

2. Usury is defined as the taking of interest on a loan. Any interest. The amount is irrelevant.

3. The Church has never changed this teaching.

4. The Church has contradicted its own teaching in practice, mandating the commission of the sin of usury in its own banking practices in the Code of Canon Law 1913.

I conclude that the Church's teaching is infallible, and its present practice is reprehensible and sinful.

Your thoughts?

Rick D

B. Douglass: David Palm has written the definitive article on usury and the magisterium. It is available online at www.catholicculture.org His argument is focused on refuting proposition 2 of your letter.

Ben Douglass


Question 17Pope Benedict

Dear Catholics,

With new papacy, new hope and the recent proliferation of tradition-oriented websites we have the opportunity to storm Pope Benedict with reassurances of what he must suspect with growing distress—the dreadful accomplishments of Vatican II
As he recalls the unambiguous certainties of his childhood faith before the corrupting ambiguities of his seminary life, he may feel very alone in a Vatican sunk in confusion called modernism, the “synthesis of all heresies.” Knowing the malefactors, this “transitional” pope can be expected to induce most to depart. Still, he cannot unite the ravaged flock or rebuild the shattered Church without rediscovering the purity of the unchanging, true Faith.

So, webservants are hereby admonished to tell all associated sites to tell their readers to generate a flow—to benedictxvi@vatican.va—of compliments and reminders, complaints and denunciations, prayers and pleas, requests and demands for the Pope’s attention, intervention, response, concession or condemnation. A permanent Home page text box recommending the campaign might do, or a bulk mailing to one’s list. Non-Anglophones can promote it to any and every other language.

Examples to the Holy Father,

· Did Paul VI reject papal sovereignty when he sold the triple tiara in 1967? Was it his to sell? Is the Vicar of Christ still responsible to Him for the Church’s fate?

· Did John Paul II protect and promote accessories to the murder of John Paul I? Will you commission an enquiry into his death?
· Did the accused homosexual Swiss Guard really kill his commander and wife before suiciding? Please enquire.

· Did Father Luther write the proto-New Mass? Is it really a rite of the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary, or is it a propaganda substitute composed to fool the faithful?

· Is the 1969 rite of holy orders radically different from what the Church does? Is it valid? Were you consecrated bishop in 1972, truly in God’s eyes?

· Did the 1958 conclave actually elect Cardinal Siri before Roncalli, as the FBI alleges? Would you solemnly enquire?

· With what bishops will you consecrate Russia to the Immaculata, Lefebvre’s?

· Are the Abbé de Nantes’ Books of Accusation against Paul VI and JP2 true and just? Would you have them perused?

· Will you define and condemn the true perpetrators of the “9/11” edifice of crimes against humanity?

Be advised incidentally, that until the Sixties the greatest intelligence agency was Catholic, not Soviet. However, true Catholics should view Benedict as surrounded by sharks, and in need of friends in prayer and in truth. Can the Pope depend upon the combined vigilance and dedication of internet activists to circumvent the criminal influence of the vile world media? Time and Providence will tell.

If we can get him to see the definitive fact that the Church was utterly wrecked, Her resurrection will become imminent. It will be terrible for him. The ambit objective is to induce our new Papa Benedetto to declare Vatican II totally anathema sit!

Do tell everybody to tell everybody to start. Saint Joseph, Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.
Michael M

B. Douglass: Most of those questions are not worthy of the Holy Father's time. I'm sure your e-mail campaign will be much more effective if you stick to legitimate questions. Try these:

In a Zenit news dispatch of November 25, 2004 your holiness is quoted as praising the American model of the separation of Church and State. Is the teaching if the Syllabus, Immortale Dei, and Quas Primas on the confessional state no longer in force? Leo XIII says that it is "the teaching of the Catholic Church" in Immortale Dei no. 36. Has it been revoked?

In your holiness' book "In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall" it is stated that the first chapter of Genesis was written during the Babylonian exile, in response to pagan creation myths. How does your holiness reconcile this with the Pontifical Biblical Commission's 1906 decree on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch? Or does this decree no longer hold the binding authority given to the PBC by Pope St. Pius X in his Motu Proprio Praestantia Scripturae?

What did your holiess intend in Principles of Catholic Theology (Ignatius Press, 1987) p. 202 by the words: "the Catholic does not insist on the dissolution of Protestant confessions and the demolishing of their churches but hopes, rather, that they will be strengthened in their confessions and in their ecclesial reality"? Did your holiness simply mean that we would rather that Protestant churches return to the Catholic Church institutionally, en masse, rather than have Protestants return on an individual basis?
If the words of the Institution consititute the essential form of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, how can the Anaphora of Addai and Mari be valid?

Oh, and the Catholic Church is never going to declare one of her own ecumenical Councils invalid no matter how many people e-mail the Pope, as she is indefectible.

God bless,
Ben Douglass


Question 16Ecumenism and Baptism? A Family Problem

I usually try not to write you more than one question at a time, since I know you're busy and I don't think I should try to take up too much of your time. This issue has recently come to a head in my personal life, though, so I'm afraid I couldn't wait.

Here's the situation. I am Catholic. My wife is a recent convert to Catholicism. Her father and step-mother are Episcopal. At the time of our marriage, my wife was not Catholic, and so we were married in an Episcopal ceremony, but we did all the pre-marital counseling and requisite paperwork to ensure it was sanctioned by the Church (Canonical Form for Dispensation). Here's the sticky part. The step-mother is an Episcopal priest.

My wife and I have both grown considerably stronger in our Catholic faith over our 4 years of marriage.

My wife and I are now expecting our first child, and the question of how the baby will be Baptized has come up. For my wife and I it is no question. Our child will be Baptized in the Catholic Church by an ordained Roman Catholic priest. The step-mother, from early on, has expressed a strong desire to be involved. We are unwilling to compromise our faith, but I want to do everything in my power not put more stress on already strained relationships. While I do not agree with ordained women, do not like the Episcopal church, and have no problem putting my foot down on this matter, I was wondering if you could point me toward any official Church statements/teachings that support my position. I know that the Church teaches that Protestant Baptism is valid under certain circumstances, but my wife and I aren't Protestant, so it seems ridiculous to even have a Protestant co-participate in the baptism (And while the Episcopal Church likes to pretend that it's Catholic, it's NOT). Anything I can provide that shows this is the position of the Church and not just my personal preference would help me make my case before my in-laws. But if push comes to shove, our personal preference will override theirs.

It seems absurd to me that I'm even writing this email. How sad that this Sacrament of unbelievable beauty, a time for incredible joy as our first child is born again into the Body of Christ, has become a point of contention among family. I pray that this will be resolved peacefully, with no bitterness on either side, but I also want to be as prepared as I can when the difficult questions start coming my way.

Thank you very much for your help. God bless you as you and your staff work to strengthen the faith of so many.

B. Douglass: Vince, Between the two of us I think we can manage your questions :)

John Paul II officially decreed that the Church has no power to ordain women in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Hence, even if a validly consecrated bishop attempted to ordain your mother-in-law, it would not be valid. But in any case, Leo XIII decreed that Anglican orders are invalid in Apostolicae Curae.
More directly related to your question, Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (TAN Books, 1974) p. 342 states the following about the worthiness of the minister of the sacraments: "The administration of a Sacrament in a state of greivous sin is a sacrilege. An exception is the administration of Baptism in case of danger of death, because the minister of the Baptism does not function as an official servant of the Church, but comes to the help of a person in an emergency. The Roman Catechism (II, I, 20, 2) enjoins: "One must always insist that the Holy be treated in a holy and reverent manner." Cf. S. th. III 64, 6." If your mother-in-law is an Episcopal priest, the chances of her being invincibly ignorant are slim to none, and hence extra ecclesiam nulla salus will apply to her.

Most directly related to your question, here is the Code of Canon Law on the minister of Baptism: "Can. 861 §1. The ordinary minister of baptism is a bishop, a presbyter, or a deacon, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 530, n. 1.

§2. When an ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or another person designated for this function by the local ordinary, or in a case of necessity any person with the right intention, confers baptism licitly. Pastors of souls, especially the pastor of a parish, are to be concerned that the Christian faithful are taught the correct way to baptize."

Clearly, there is no state of necessity here, and the "ordinary minister" is not absent or impeded, so canon law decrees that the ordinary minister be the one who baptizes your child.

Ben Douglas


Question 15Douay Bible reading difficulties and RSV CE

I've read the arguments in favor of the Douay and I mostly subscribe to them, however, I've been reading it a lot lately and I find it just plain hard to read due to the old english. I also find that when I don't understand what I'm reading due to the older language, I am automatically supplying from memory the meaning due to what I've read in previous years in the KJV and the NIV (I am a convert from Calvinism, like you). I have also read extensively, the NT in RSV CE. Now my question is, is the RSV CE so so bad that one will learn error from it? I mean, how bad is it really? Is it worse than Vatican II documents? (I don't think so) Yes, I grant that the version was developed by liberals, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they can't come up with a decent translation and if one uses it with one's eyes open in that regard, so much the better.

I've not found myself lapsing into heterodoxy from reading it (RSV CE), or any modern version, though I don't like the NIV or the other Catholic translations put forth today. Sorry, I'm venting to a degree because I just find the old english of the Douay to be difficult and in many cases it seems to make the meaning more obscure when a modern equivalent would do just fine. Frankly, I'm frustrated by the additional barrier (the old english) to really enjoying reading the Word and am wondering just how damnable IS the RSV CE. Don't you look at other translations when you're doing your serious reading/study?
Thanks for any thoughts you might have. No need to put this on your website unless you think it would have general interest for discussion. Thanks.
Dana D
P.S. I wasn't sure which email address to use as I had both from previous emails.

B. Douglass: The RSV adopts a liberal translation at certain points, for example Isaiah 7:14: "Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman'u-el." But if you are able to spot these, and can just roll your eyes and move on, there shouldn't be any problem with you reading the RSV. Just consult the Douay if anything seems out of place or unorthodox.

Robert is currently producing an updated Douay Bible, called the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, which should give you the best of both worlds. But unfortunately only Matthew has been published so far.

Ben Douglass


Question 14CAI Supporter

My name is Matthew. I am a Traditionalist Catholic. I am an ex-Catholic Answers (yes the one under Mr. Karl Keating) employee, in addition to being an ex --seminarian with FFSP in Wigratzbad. I just wanted to say hello to a fellow traditionalist and wish you well and I do pray for your organization's success in the defence of the Faith ,especially in the defense of tradition, against people like Lokoudis, the Wanderer, et. al.
God Bless.

B. Douglass: Matthew, Thank you for the kind words and for your prayers.

Ben Douglass


Question 13Salvation and the Church

I'm sure you've answered this a thousand times but I can't find it in your archives. With regard to Salvation and the Church doesn't "invinceable ignorance" mean that not only does a person not know something but also that they CANNOT know something? If the definition is the latter, than only people who are mentally handicapped to the degree that they cannot grasp not only the Church and her precepts but also, any sense of right and wrong, fall into this category. Of course, they must be a baptized Christian. The condition I'm describing is something like a baptized child that never reaches the age of reason. If a person lived on a desert island his entire life, knew nothing of the Church or right and wrong, what are the chances he would be a baptized Christian?

I'm I on the right track with my reasoning?

B. Douglass: Invincible ignorance means, in essence, it's not their fault that they don't know something. Every person has a moral duty to seek truth and find it in the Catholic Church. One who shirks this duty, and remains in ignorance of Catholicism because he does not search, even though nothing is preventing him from doing so, will be culpably ignorant. But there are many conditions which could prevent one from fulfilling this duty, such as dying before the age of reason, mental handicap, or geographic isolation. Extreme mental handicap is not a necessary precondition for invincible ignorance.

Ben Douglass


Question 12Mass 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 others
who go traditional?

Steve D

B. Douglass: You won't find any theology manual ever written that says that the shape of the room where you confess your sins is part of the essential matter of the Sacrament of Penance. A priest can administer the Sacrament in a hospital room, on a battlefield, in a psychologist's office, etc. The acts of the penitent (sorrow, confession, penance) for the quasi-matter of the Sacrament and the priest's words of absolution "I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" are the form. So long as these elements are present (and actually even the "in the name of etc." part of the absolution is not required), and the priest has the authority from his bishop, the Sacrament is valid. And even if the priest administers the Sacrament illicitly, without authority from his bishop, if the penitent is sincerely ignorant of this fact, the Church will supply, and he will be absolved of his sins. See Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (TAN Books, 1974) pp. 425, 436 and Denzinger 699, 896, 914.

The language the Mass is said in is irrelevent to its validity. The Church has had liturgies in Greek and Aramaic from the earliest times. She has has liturgies in Old Slavonic for centuries. Now she has liturgies in English, Spanish, French, German, etc. Introducing the vernacular into the Latin rite may not have been a prudent decision, but like I said, it does not affect validity.

The Novus Ordo may lack many valuable prayers from the Tridentine, but there is only one prayer which is absolutely necessary for a valid Mass, viz. "This is my body" and "This is my blood" or "This is the cup of my blood" or "This cup is the new covenant in my blood." The words of the institution are the form of the Sacrament, and the bread and wine the matter. This is all that's necessary for a valid Mass. See Ott, op. cit., pp. 391ff.

Communion in the hand is likewise irrelevant to the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass. It was even practised among some of the Fathers of the Church (cf. St. Basil, Letter 93; St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 23:21; Quintsext Synod of Trullo, Canon CI; St. John Damascus, De Fide Orthodoxa Book IV, ch. XIII). I have written an essay defending the practice from the charge that it is sacrilegious, which will be posted soon at CAI.

The same goes for the priest standing behind the altar, facing the people. This is actually the way Mass has always been celebrated at St. Peter's Basilica. Finally, the same goes for the character of the people who created the liturgy. What matters is that a valid Pope (Paul VI) approved and promulgated it. Michael Davies' book I Am with You Always quotes many theologians to the effect that the indefectibility of the Church excludes the possibility of the Pope promulgating an invalid or illicit rite. I am informed that Paul VI shipped Cardinal Bugnini off to Tehran under suspicion that he was a Freemason, and yes, 6 Protestant liturgists were on the commission charged with composing the Novus Ordo Missae. But though their product might not be nearly as beautiful as the traditional Latin Mass, like I said above, it still has the essential matter and form.

Dave Armstrong is right to be critical of many traditionalists, Gerry Matatics being one of them. A large number of traditionalists (e.g. Venarri, Hertz, Droleskey, Horvat) believe that Vatican II taught explicit error, which proposition we at CAI vehemently deny. Some also hold Communion in the hand to be a sacrilege, and many believe the SSPX to be in full communion with the Catholic Church, in contradiction to the Pope's judgement in Ecclesia Dei. We certainly disagree with a lot of what Dave Armstrong writes and hosts on his website, such as his defenses of the Assisi prayer gatherings. But I think his biggest problem is that he refuses to admit that he is significantly to the right of much of the modern Vatican hierarchy. Mark Shea has the same problem. For example, both of them mock the documentary hypothesis (the idea that the Pentateuch was weaved together from four originally independent sources: JED&P), yet John Paul II explicitly endorses it in his theology of the body, and [then] Cardinal Ratzinger indicates he believes in it in his book on creation. I'd also like to know where Dave Armstrong stands on the confessional state, as taught in the Syllabus, Immortale Dei, and Quas Primas. I'd be willing to bet he adheres to this doctrine, yet Ratzinger has praised the American model of the separation of Church and State (reported by Zenit, November 25, 2004). A Reformed apologist named Steve Hays keeps trying to hold Armstrong's feet to the fire about people like him and Scott Hahn being "more Catholic than the Pope" but he hasn't yet responded. Hopefully after being exposed to more moderate traditionalism he'll come around.

Ben Douglass


Question 11Apologetics on the "Party Scene"

Dear CAI,

I'm an 18 year old guy who's trying my hardest to live the life Christ has set for me and to stay on "straight and narrow", and all my life I've been taught that going out and getting drunk, high, and whatever else is entitled to the "party scene" is wrong. I do believe it is, however there are people I know who have very strong opinions that it's ok to get drunk all the time and that it's alright to smoke marijuana, and the more they try to convince me to do these things the more I find I have no doctrine or whatnot to back my aruguements. I was wondering if there were and apologetic reasons as to why these things are wrong, if in fact the church does deem them wrong. If so, than please give me some defense to use on the frontline.

In Christ and forever grateful,
Tim A

B. Douglass: The Bible repeatedly condemns drunkeness as an damnable sin (Proverbs 20:1; 23:20-21, 29-35; 31:4-7; Lamentations 4:21; Hosea 4:11; Isaiah 5:11-12, 22; 28:7; Luke 21:34; Romans 13:13-14; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3) though not drinking in moderation (cf. Luke 5:39). Smoking marijuana is worng by the same principle as drunkeness, viz. it being wrong to intoxicate/incapacitate oneself. Our bodies are gifts from God and it is our moral duty not to abuse them. To get drunk is to insult the One who gave us everything we have. It is like telling him, "I'm sorry, but the reality you gave me is not good enough, so I am going to introduce chemicals into my body to escape it."

If you are 18, and live in America, it is actually sinful for you to drink at all. Based on Christ's words "give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's" the Catholic Church teaches that it is a sin to disobey civil law unless it contradicts the moral law. So, since underage drinking is illegal, it is a sin. Though since there is nothing wrong in principle with you drinking, it will be alright for you to drink in moderation when you turn 21, or if you travel somewhere where the drinking age is lower.

Ben Douglass


Question 10Help

I am a 15-year old Catholic male who is in the midst of a
struggle in his faith. I have studied my faith, and in that quest for truth, I have found myself on the traditional side of the Catholic spectrum of thought which has tragically expanded since the ‘60’s. But don’t get me wrong, I do not view the faith of the Church as mere politics which could simply change.

My problem is that everything seems to be up for question. There is a situation in the Church which may as well be called Catholic Protestantism where it is not necessarily the article of faith which is up for question but the interpretation of that article, such as “extra ecclesiam nulla salus.” Some here will ridiculously (and extremely scandalously) say that the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church is only part of the “church of Christ.”

B. Douglass: The proposition which you rightly call "ridiculous" is based on a misinterpretation of Lumen Gentium no. 8 which states that the Church of Christ "subsists in" the Catholic Church. To "subsist" means to have existence in. So, Lumen Gentium is of course correct, since the Church of Christ most certainly does exist in the Catholic Church! However, the question as to whether it exists solely and wholly in the Catholic Church (as previous Catholic teaching makes clear) or whether it might exist elsewhere (as in Protestant communities) this passage of Lumen Gentium does not definitively answer. Liberal theologian Leonardo Boff argued that this passage teaches that the Church of Christ does in fact subsist in other denominations besides the Catholic Church, but his view was condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1985. For the true interpretation read the section of this article entitled "The One Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ": www.christendomawake.org

Tell me, what is a young person supposed to think when we are basically told “it doesn’t matter.” So if what church we belong to doesn’t matter, then neither does following the regulations of the Catholic Church; and if Baptists, who don’t believe in the Eucharist can be saved, then I don’t even have to have faith to be saved because St. Thomas Aquinus tells us that"in a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith, no faith remains, either informed or uninformed." I hate this! I find that this concept of “it doesn’t matter” has permeated the Church: the liturgy, discipline, priestly celibacy, sin, salvation, etc.;this is
why most church-going going Catholics don’t know, don’t care and don’t want to know the faith, “it doesn’t matter!!!”

B. Douglass: The attitude you describe is absolutely dead wrong. The doctrine of Unam Sanctam, Cantate Domino, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, and Mystici Corporis Christi is as true today as the day these documents were written. And if the people you are dealing with absolutely refuse to hear anything written before Vatican II, show them Dominus Iesus.

For myself, even, this notion is a severe threat to my faith as I am told not only by the media, but even by EWTN that Catholicism is merely the "fulness of faith" and that any matter of discipline even those which have been with the Church for tens of centuries can be changed on a whim!

B. Douglass: There's no harm in admitting that Eastern Orthodox and Protestants are right about some things e.g. the Trinity, the deity of Christ, biblical inerrancy, most moral issues. If that's what the EWTN spokesperson you are quoting meant by calling Catholicism only "the fulness of faith" there is nothing wrong with that statement. But of course, denying one dogma, unless one is invincibly ignorant, makes one a heretic and severs one from the Catholic Church, extra quam nulla omnes salvitur. It is important to keep that in mind when emphasizing what Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants have in common. As for discipline, as sad as it may be, the Church does have the authority to change such things. It may be an incredibly bad idea to do so, and not in the interest of the salvation of souls, but the Church still has that authority.

This basically makes me feel like I’m going to throw up! Sometimes I wish I was alive before Vatican II so I could experience true Catholicism in all its context, but when I think about it, I thank God that He did not allow that, for I would certainly fall into despair as my whole world would fall around me after the close of Vatican II.

B. Douglass: There are hardly any Catholic nations left (besides maybe Malta and a few others), but there are still authentically Catholic communities all over the world, in Latin Mass parishes, Eastern Rite parishes, and traditional Novus Ordo parishes. It is still possible to experience true Catholicism in all its context.

Nevertheless, I struggle in acknowledgement of that our present
situation constitutes the “Great Apostasy”. I seek the truth, the
whole truth and nothing but the truth, and always with love. I ask your help. How do I know what to accept? Of course the infallible statements of the Councils and the Papacy, but what more than this? I feel like I am all alone. Who do I trust, and by what authority should I trust them?

B. Douglass: For orthodox modern theologians, read Fr. Brian Harrison and Msgr. John McCarthy of the Roman Theological Forum. They are very faithful to the Magisterium, and never try to make Vatican II overturn previous Catholic teaching, as so many theologians are wont to do. Deitrich Von Hildebrand is also very orthodox, and very insightful. You also can't go wrong with the great saints and doctors of the Church, such as Bede, Catherine of Sienna, Therese of Liseux, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Robert Bellarmine. For Scripture study, I recommend the Haydock Study Bible (available from Catholic treasures) and the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible. There is a great deal of wisdom in the encyclicals of the pre-Conciliar Popes, especially Leo XIII, St. Pius X, and Pius XI. For systematic theology, you have Thomas Aquinas, of course. Dr. Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma is also very good, though there are a few places where Robert and I would disagree with him. You should accept these, like any Catholic authors, on the basis of their fidelity to Sacred Catholic Tradition, which is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Any theologian who tells you "Vatican II overturned such and such a doctrine" (like Fr. Raymond Brown does with Biblical inerrancy) avoid.

What about the liturgy, could this simply be another
thing which could change at a whim? Or is there something sacred and unchangeable about the Tradition of the Mass used from the fifth century to the Second Vatican Council?

B. Douglass: Pope Paul VI was well within his authority to promulgate the new rite of the Mass. Of course, I believe that this was a terrible and disastrous decision, but he had the power to do so.

Should “charisms” in the Church all be accepted as equal and simply good according as it complies with an individual’s “spirituality?

B. Douglass: CAI has an article on speaking in tongues, available here: Link

On this point I agree with the SSPX:
things other than faith can and should be accepted and embraced in principle, not simply in preference. As to what, you tell me. Please tell me. Even if you answer but one of my questions, backed up with logic, Scripture, Tradition or Church teaching, you may save my soul from but one error many of which I surely must be infected with in an age like our own.

B. Douglass: Issues of prudential judgment should be decided on the basis of what is in the best interest of the salvation of souls, and not simply preference.

God bless,
Patrick P

P.S. Please don't think that I am a closed minded traditionalist, nor that I am an anti-SSPXer. All I want is the truth. And in
acknowledgement of your vast knowledge of the faith and the respect you show to all people, including those in sin and and in error, while hating the sin and despising the abomination of heresy, I would be ever-grateful for any guidance you could give me, even if It is not something I wanted to hear.

B. Douglass: God bless you too.

Ben Douglass


Question 9Interview with Bishop Williamson

I wanted to thank you for posting the interview with Bishop Williamson on your site. Even though we disagree as to the precise nature of the situation regarding the priests of the Society of St. Pius X, we can at least agree that Bishop Williamson, and by extension the whole priestly society, has effectively unmasked the subtle re-orientation of catholics worldwide. I appreciate your wisdom in this decision.

R. Sungenis: Understood. We are only in this for truth, Matt, as you can see. We take sides with no one. To paraphrase Shakesspeare: "The quality of truth is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven; upon the place beneath it is twice blest; it blesses him the gives and him that takes."


Question 8Conversation with Cheryl

Mr. Sungenis,

I wanted to briefly tell you how much I enjoyed the exchange you posted on your site with Protestant "Cheryl". You were always polite, yet firm when necessary. Thank you for your fine example. Unfortunately she was rather lightweight compared to you, but you made it clear to me yet again how to throttle off the host of gadfly objections by asserting, and sticking to, the subject of the Church's authority.

I have read and enjoyed the three "Not By..." books and lend them out when I can.

Again, thank you.

Joseph P

R. Sungenis: Thank you for the commendation, Joe. By the way, Cheryl did write back to me one more time. She tried to change the subject off of her requirement to show where Scripture taught Sola Scriptura by asking me to show where the "traditions" were listed. I, of course, told her that I had already warned her that I wouldn't be answering anymore of her questions unless she found that one verse that taught Sola Scriptura. She never wrote back again.

God be with you.


Question 7Infallibility and Response to Fr. Harrison, Part 4

Matt: Thank you Mr Sungenis,

Please forward any further developments. Still the points in my last email stand if and until they are answered. I agree with you now on infinite regression. But that was only one bow to my arrow :-). I still said that if any statement has proof it is infallible it is this one (before I started this I still held that the Immaculate Conception and Assumption were slightly more obvious). Nevertheless as I more clearly perceive where you stand on the different points of the debate it gets easier to pinpoint certain areas of discussion (thank goodness).

There is one thing I must hold you too. I now have it in writing even more clearly than before "As for your suggestion that I don't take the Immaculate Conception as an infallibly defined dogma, please don't put that weight on me. I most definitely consider it an infallible dogma." Thanks for affirming you do. Now I just want to know on what basis you hold it is infallible? Because the Pope said so? Because at the very least his Holy Office did with his consent? Please say where they said it. Why ID and not OS? At least in OS he said his intention was to remove all doubt and the only way of doing that is to say it infallibily (thus to be it is one of self evident truth. Once one nows what "infallible" means and "remove all doubt" means and the role infallibilty and the pope etc he. Then the icing on the cake was the statement from Ratzinger it was with the Pope's approval. When you interacted with this point last time it is a fact that the most you could do was question the prudence. Now while you may be right there because you are holding OS to that standard (ie nothing less it would seem of the Pope saying it is infallible himself using that word) then the others will need to be documented too by the same standard. Sorry but my mind is really interested in truth (as I'm sure you are too) so you will either have to do that or give a compelling logical reason why they don't have to be held to the same standard.

R. Sungenis: Let’s take the Assumption of Mary in 1950 as the standard, since that was announced after the dogma of papal infallibility was established in 1870. Knowing that the dogma of papal infallibility was established in 1870, Pius XII realized that he had to fulfill the criteria of Vatican I, and that he had to follow the formula of other papal statements of the past that would now be retroactively understood as infallible. That being the case, he made the clearest case for the infallibility of Mary’s Assumption by the wording he chose. I don’t know any liberals today who argue that the Assumption is not an infallible dogma of the Church (unless they deny papal infallibility altogether). Even the liberals recognize that the language Pius XII chose is very clear that he meant the Assumption to be an infallible doctrine. For example, he says:

“...and since the bishops of the whole world with almost unanimous consent request that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven be defined as a dogma of the divine and Catholic faith....and by our own authority we pronounce, declare, and define that the dogma was revealed by God...therefore, if anyone, which may God forbid, should dare either to deny this, or voluntarily call into doubt what has been defined by us, he should realize that he has cut himself off entirely from the divine and Catholic faith.”

That is very clear language that the Assumption is infallible. We see the phrase “define as dogma,” we see “pronounce, declare and define,” and we see the warning that anyone who would “deny” or even “call into doubt” the dogma is “cut...off entirely.” This is the traditional way of assuring the Catholic faithful that this doctrine is infallible. (Although I would still like to see the words “infallible” and “irreformable,” only because those two words were used by Vatican I in its decree of papal infallibility).

Unfortunately, I don’t see such wording attached to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The closest thing to Pius XII’s language that I see, as you pointed out, is “to remove all doubt.” But unless the specific language traditionally associated with papal infallibility is used, then smart people are going to begin having their doubts and asking provocative questions, whether they have good motives or bad motives. For example, as I stated in my last post, someone could ask the benign question: “To remove all doubt about what?” Is it to remove all doubt about where John Paul II stood on the issue, but not necessarily what another pope might do in the future? Is it to remove all doubt for the time being but still not commit ourselves to defining and declaring it infallibly, so that anyone who denies it is cut off? Why the reticence to make it crystal clear? Why invite people to question its infallible status with such weak wording? Here we have a pope, John Paul II, who has written more words than any other pope in history, combined, and yet he can’t afford us the necessary words that will nail this doctrine shut with no doubts or questions?

I’m sorry, but knowing John Paul II as I do, I think there is something else going on here. I think there is a distinct possibility that his reticence is due to the fact that John Paul II was a modernist who didn’t believe we could express doctrine in absolute terms. I think this is also why, in 26 years, in the face of giving us rivers of documents, he never once stated that any of his teaching was “infallible,” “defined,” “dogma,” or any such term. He was of a different school than Pius XII, and for that matter, a different school than the rest of the pontiffs who practiced the “We declare, define, pronounce” formula.

I also think John Paul II’s reticence to make it crystal clear is due to the fact that he is the first pope in history to bring women into the sanctuary, the chanceries, as altar servers, and to teach “mutual submission” between spouses. I think if John Paul II had his druthers he would have allowed women to be priests, but since he knew he would be held accountable if he changed the traditional teaching, he chose to make his prohibition rather weak, at least by papal standards. END

Matt: Now the other leg in the argument. You said "for there are only two possible categories it [the affirmation] need be in, or can be in: (a) the pope is telling the truth and thus the affirmation is true, or (b) the pope is lying and thus the affirmation is false. Without any proof that he is lying, we take option "a," and thus the issue is cleared up." I would argue similarly - you aren't saying Ratzinger is lying that it has the approval of the Pope are you? And without proof we can take option "a" thus the issue is cleared up. Case rested. It's interesting that none of this has centered on the 4 conditions. That's means we don't have a difference there which is good. It means the difference is only over what we have been discussing.

R. Sungenis: Unless we had a confirmation that the pope TOLD Ratzinger that he meant the doctrine to be infallible, then Ratzinger cannot affirm what the pope meant when he wrote OS. The pope must speak for himself because only he knows what he intended. Consequently, I think the fact that John Paul II DIDN’T affirm that it was infallible is another indication of his intentions to leave the matter weakly attested. Mind you, this is not a teaching that someone can treat lightly. If women can be priests than this throws the whole of Christianity upside down. It requires the utmost decisiveness, declaration, clarity and warning against anyone who would transgress its sacred territory, but that’s not what we see in OS.

Matt: It seems Father Harrison said something along the lines of this (although they are your words) "Your suggestion that the infallibility of a papal statement is inherent within the papal statement hasn't worked too well, since prelates and parishioners are still arguing about what is infallible." I covered this in my latest. I think Father Harrison is correct. It is inherently infallible. Lets say a Pope promulgates something that is in fact infallible at point A in time but doesn't say it is infallible in his document. At point B in time he clears it up and says he intended it to be infallible. Now it is obvious that it didn't suddnely get the quality of infallibilty at point B in time. It was always infalllibe from the beginning by fulfulling with in itself all the Church says it needs too. This doesn't change even if it is true that we need him [the pope] to say it is to stop causing confusion. In other words the clarification doesn't belong to it's being infalllible. It's exactly like the canon. Matthew's Gospel was inspired simply because it was even before the Church said so. The Church could only say so because it always was. Now I've agrued that we can know it is infallible in this particalar case (see above) but I just wanted to iron out the inherently infallible issue with is another point although a bit of a secondary in what we are really focusing on IMHO.

R. Sungenis: I can’t argue against the fact that if it was infallible at the beginning it is going to be infallible at the end, which, in principle, makes a clarification superfluous. But that is an a-priori type of argumentation. I don’t think we have that luxury. Canon Law 749.3 argues from an a-posteriori vantage point. It begins from the point of us seeing a document and wondering whether it is infallible; not from the vantage point of us knowing, absolutely, that it is an infallible document from the beginning. It argues that, unless the document clearly states it is infallible, then we are not to assume it is infallible. Thus, when we are comparing Munifentissimus Deus with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, and we see “infallible” language in one that is absent from the other, then we begin to wonder, on an a-posteriori basis, whether the one absent the language is, indeed, infallible. The wording “to remove all doubt,” when compared to other “infallible” papal language, actually creates more doubt than it tries to dispel, unless, of course, there is an affirmation by the pope that when he said “to remove all doubt” he meant it to be infallible.

While I’m thinking of it, note this: by the mere fact that Ratzinger attempted an affirmation of OS’s infallibility, it follows logically that my suggestion that we should be blessed with a papal affirmation regarding the infallibility of a papal document that we cannot discern clearly is infallible is, apparently, an ecclesiastical-sanctioned method of dealing with the problem. My only suggestion in addition to that particular protocol is to have the pope make the affirmation himself, for only that will “remove all doubt” about the doubt he created in the first place.

Matt: My main difficulty is understanding how and why you accept the Immaculate Conception and Assumption but not OS when having thrashed this out a bit now it actually seems we have more evidence not less for making OS infallibe until proof otherwise. In fact it seems like we can prove that there can never be proof otherwise. All I'm saying for now is if you hold to those two then you should hold to OS (at least).

By the way I was having a quick look through some old questions and answers. One was how many infallible statements there are. You said that even though we have to wait for an answer from the Church's magisterium (and I have argued that in this case we even have that if it's required) we could be sure for now there are at least three. Seems like you have had a change of heart? Unless I'm reading you wrongly. The "third" would be OS wouldn't it?

R. Sungenis: I think that the prohibition of women priests is an infallible Catholic doctrine, perhaps in spite of the weak language of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. My position here is not to conclude that the prohibition against women priests is not infallible, but only to say that John Paul II should have made it a lot more direct and clearer for all those involved. I despise his modernist methodology. All he needed to do was make the infallibility of OS clear like Pius XII made the infallibility of the Assumption of Mary clear and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Matt: I can't thank you enough for this time. I think this one is important. This issue had to come to a head sometime so it's best if it's done amongst cool heads. We are covering a lot ground. I would love it if Fr Harrison were to maybe say some more. Do send my hello to him as he is one of my most favourite theologians [if not favourite :-) ].

R. Sungenis: Will do. It has been my pleasure to dialogue with you.


Question 6Infallibility and Response to Fr. Harrison, Part 3

Sorry, Bob, but I think you're way off base on this issue if you're not even willing to hold the diogmas of the Assumption and Immaculate Conception as infallibly defined.

If we had to wait for a Church definition B proclaiming that a previous definition A is infallible, we'd be into an infinite regress. For by the same logic we'd then need another definition C to prove that B was infallible. And so on and so on and so on.
God bless,
Fr. Brian

R. Sungenis: Fr. Brian, think about it again. The "infinite regress" argument is not going to work. All the pope need do if a question comes up about whether the Immaculate Conception is infallible is say, "When I wrote the statement, I meant it as an infallible and irreformable dogma for the Church." That affirmation does not have to be "infallible," as you claim, for there are only two possible categories it need be in, or can be in: (a) the pope is telling the truth and thus the affirmation is true, or (b) the pope is lying and thus the affirmation is false. Without any proof that he is lying, we take option "a," and thus the issue is cleared up.

As for your suggestion that I don't take the Immaculate Conception as an infallibly defined dogma, please don't put that weight on me. I most definitely consider it an infallible dogma. The discussion with Matt was for the purpose of helping to make its infallibility clearer to the Catholic populace, and at the same time, get us out of the quagmire of trying to guess whether various other papal statements are infallible.

Your suggestion that the infallibility of a papal statement is inherent within the papal statement hasn't worked too well, since prelates and parishioners are still arguing about what is infallible.

My suggestion is for the pope to simply add a statement at the end of his intended infallible decree which says: "This doctrine is infallible and irreformable." How hard is that to say, especially in light of Canon 749.3 which says that unless infallibility is "manifest," it is not to be considered infallible?

Yours in Christ,
Bob Sungenis


Question 5Baptism of Desire for infants

My wife and I have recently had a miscarriage, please pray for us.

Dealing with the pain of this tragedy has led me to wonder many things.

I believe firmly in union with Florence, Trent, etc. that one must
receive the Sacrament of Baptism, or deisre that actual sacrament in order to get to heaven, unless there is an extraordinary salvation from God that is not containedin Revelation. I have always believed that unbaptized infants go to a limbo, along the lines of what St. Augustine speculated, a type of Natural Happiness, even though the Church has never addressed it.

This tragedy has forced me to reconsider that. How can God let an innocent baby be deprived of the joys of heaven? But on the otherhand, the lack of a qualified sin (ignorance, general innocence from a personal sin that Babies enjoy) does not negate the reality of Original sin, that requires a positive Virtue like Baptism. This brings me to my question:

When infants are baptized, they are not physically making the choice to be baptized, rather the faith of the Parents and the Sponsor supplies for the faith of the child. Therefore, since the Council of Trent teaches that desire for the physical sacrament of Baptism supplies the requirements for salvation, is it possible that since the faith of the parents which would have supplied the faith of the child if it was to be born, is in fact to have it baptized, is it possible that our desire to baptize our baby with the actual sacrament of Baptismal regeneration could meet the requirements of Trent and Bl. Pius IX?

God bless, I eagerly await your answer.


Instaurare Omnia in Christo

B. Douglass: Msgr. John McCarthy builds a case that aborted children go to heaven ( http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt65.html ), and some of his points may apply to your situation. But his view is speculative, and his argument is not completely convincing, though his conclusions may nevertheless be correct. The Catechism says that we can hope for the salvation of children who die without baptism (Par 1261), but that is it. We simply cannot know. I'm sorry but I can't give you a definite answer, since the Church hasn't given a definite answer.



Question 4Questions about CAI

I have just found your website, and was moved by the information there. I have been very involved in Catholic church since I returned home to her 15 years ago. I was a cradle Catholic, but grew up post Vatican-II in the "I'm OK, you're OK" age. Since my return, I have been renewed with a hunger to know, love and server our God. It has been a wonderful, Christ-filled journey.

As you are well aware from your writings, searching the Internet for formation material can be both positive and dangerous, depending on the sites you surf upon. Many sound good to the uneducated, such as myself.

But what struck me was your response to the Karl Keating letter against Gerry Matatics. I remember that Keating letter well, because it put a knot in my stomach. I pass by the St. Benedict Center on my way to work some days. I have close friends in the church who were educated there, and know many people who love to go to daily Mass there. Mr. Keating was speaking out of ignorance about an off-shoot of them, who moved away long ago. The St. Benedict Center is in complete alliance with the Diocese of Worcester, and the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Keating was more judgmental about this group working hard to teach truth than he is in defending the church against protestant and muslim attacks. To non-Catholics, he tries not the "hurt feelings", but to fellow Catholics, he's just plain nasty.
I am grateful for the writings of Dr. Hahn, but realized a while ago that he is not Pope Hahn, and like any theologian, speaks with a personal bias. I am trying to go deeper, but fear being tossed about. Being a member of the Cursillo movement in my diocese, I have met many people like me, who feel a call to go deeper into the Catholic church, and in doing so, closer to the fullness of Christ, but don't know where to turn towards orthodoxy.

I would appreciate your input on a possible path to going deeper.

George L
Leominster MA

B. Douglass: Actually as we are discovering a bit of wariness towards Matatics is entirely justified, since he believes that the Novus Ordo Mass is invalid (at least in its English and Spanish translations) and apparently also believes that the current Vatican is a pseudo-Church. And while the St. Benedict Center may be in Communion with the Catholic Church, and it may be licit to attend their Masses, don't let them tell you that it is impossible to procure justification without water baptism.

My advice for one seeking to go deeper into Catholicism would be to attend daily Mass, pray the rosary daily, and read sources of approved orthodoxy such as Denzinger, The Roman Catechism, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, the 1994 Catechism, the Church Fathers, Butler's Lives of the Saints, Gueranger's Liturgical Year, St. Thomas' Summa, and anything by St. Catherine of Sienna, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux.

Ben Douglass


Question 3Infallibility and Response to Fr. Harrison, Part 2

Thanks for your involved response Mr Sungenis.

I've sent a more recent email to you which you may find. Until then I still have the following difficulties to be cleared up and points to make.

1. So we can't say The Immaculate Conception is infallible (or the Assumption) because they have not had subsequent clarifications that they are?

R. Sungenis: “We” can only say what the Church has said about them. Based on our present knowledge, “we” can assume they are infallible, but if push comes to shove and any doubt arises, then we write to the Vatican and ask them if they are infallible, and the reasons why they are infallible. Their response would be the closest following of Canon 749.3 that would be possible. END

2. If such declarations were issued then they would have to be infallible to in order for someone to not cause further anarchy by saying it still hasn't been infallibly decided (because the decree saying they are infallible isn't intrinsically infallible). But if these decisions are infallible then they would need another document saying so etc ad infinitum.

R. Sungenis: Not at all. All the pope need do is say, “When I stated that Mary was Immaculately conceived, I meant it as an infallible and irreformable statement, and it contained all the criterion of Vatican I to be such.” There is no need for him to say the above statement “infallibly,” since the only possibilities in his affirming that he meant it infallibly are: (a) he is telling the truth, or (b) he is lying. END

3. The responsum of Cardinal Ratzinger was approved by the Pope. (It was the letter Ratzinger wrote to a bishop [a separate document] where he went into such things as "extaordinary confirmation of oridinary teaching" - ambiguous because he doesn't say whether such extaordinary confirmations can simultanously be ex catherda statemesnts or are the same thing anyway.) But the responsum saying it is infallible was approved by the Pope. I don't suppose you agree with Carindal Cassidy logic where we say such things as Dominus Jesus wasn't "SIGNED" by the Pope ignoring the fact he approved it in a general audience with his full authority.

R. Sungenis: They need to take this much more seriously. If it is infallible, then why not have the pope say it is infallible, rather than causing doubt by merely “approving” Ratzinger’s statement? This passing the buck is precisely what causes the problem. Moreover, I would again compare this to the geocentrism issue. The condemnation of Copernicanism was initiated by the Sacred Congregation and approved by the pope in 1616. So if Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is infallible on that basis, then so is the condemnation of Copernicanism. And again, the excuse given for not accepting the decree of the Sacred Congregation and its papal approval in 1616 as infallible is that is was not “signed” by the pope, even though he gave his full backing to it. (But then when Alexander VII did “sign” his papal bull which included a condemnation of Copernicus and Galileo, then the opponents are suddenly silent). END

4. Even though you will continue to teach against women priest for the reasons dileniated in that last paragraph the question remains. Does this mean that if one wants too one could still hold out a tiny chance that it could change?

R. Sungenis: About as much as he can measure how much the ocean rises when he spits into it. END

5. I agree that caution is needed on many statements (as to whether they are infallbile) but this one has an added element or two. 1) The reason why there is still a lot of debate is there are many modernists with ulterior motives who are desperate not to drop this. They can confuse more people and hence an overall impression that this a doubtful issue.

R. Sungenis: Agreed, but God uses their ulterior motives to expose weaknesses in the Church’s formulations so that the Church can be strengthened. Most of our dogmas were initiated by heresies that needed to be squashed. END

2) I think that without using the exact words "infallbile" John Paul II did in a manner appropriate to such documents tell us quite bluntly that OS itself is infallbile. He said his decision was to "remove all doubt." Did you see my syllogism from an earlier email? But let me say this. The impression I get from your email is there is still doubt (at least certainly as to whether it is infallible). But infalliblity is the only mode of removing all doubt. A Pope can't tell us his decision on a matter of faith and morals will remove all doubt and refrain from exercising the charism of infallibility. In the end we must hold to its' infallbility to at least prevent turning OS into an absurdity. The Pope says he intends to remove all doubt. But there is doubt because we don't know it's infallible. So isn't the logical conclusion, in fact obvoius conclusion, that he means just what he says? That there isn't ANY doubt anymore.

R. Sungenis: I agree that “to remove all doubt” would tend to put the document on the side of being infallible, and that the burden of proof would be on the one contesting its infallibility. By the same token, if the purpose of the document is “to remove all doubt,” how hard is it to say “This is an infallible and irreformable statement,” so that all doubt can, indeed, be removed regarding whether it is infallible? If the pope closed OS by saying such, there would be no liberals clamoring to make OS fallible. Someone could argue that Urban VIII “removed all doubt” when he condemned Copernicanism, put Galileo in imprisonment and sent out his letters to the papal nuncios to that effect in 1633, but who today would accept that argumentation and conclude that the sun is revolving around the earth? Also, someone else could argue that when John Paul II said “to remove all doubt” it was just for the time of his pontificate, and that as long as he was pope the law was not going to change. END

6. As for geocentrism and infalliblity Father Harrison (who isn't biased against such as view of universe) has answered that one too. I will see if I can dig it up for you.

I hope you are enjoying this as I am. Please only respond at your leisure. I would rather have my previous email answered (which is shorter!) first if you decide to do so. Thank you for your service. Like you I'm only interested in truth so between us don't have to worry about wasting heaps of time on polemics that gets out of hand. In some exchanges (not just other people to you by the way I'm speaking in general) I've seen several opening paragraphs wasted just on getting past that and onto the discussion.

I would like to just end this part on infallibity in this email with the words of Father Harrison "If Fr Crothers were correct, there would be no papal statements at all that Catholics would be bound to recognise as infallible." It would be no different than if the definiton of Papal infallibilty were yet to be defined (except for the fact we know it that it's a truth of faith now and could happen [be exercised] but I mean in the practical sense). And also it tends to make one doubtful if what you say is true.

R. Sungenis: But whose fault is that? It is not the parishioner’s responsibility to make it “manifestly evident” (Canon 749.3) that a certain papal statement is infallible. If the Church doesn’t clearly indicate it, in the most precise wording (e.g., “this is an infallible and irreformable papal decree”) then why would the populace be wrong in doubting whether it is, indeed, infallible? Haven’t we had enough confusion about this for the last 135 years since papal infallibility was made a doctrine? Why hasn’t it been cleared up? Why do we still have to play this cat-n-mouse game? Didn’t we learn anything from the Galileo affair? Or is there something else at work here? I tend to think so. END

Also on another issue which I wouldn't mention right now but will because I saw something recently --- the anaphora of Addai and Mari is Ok. I saw it. It has the words "This ... is my body" (the elipsis is "bread") "This is the chalice of my blood" (not only that but it has "many" - tradtionalists would be proud. The way it has been talked about being "dispersed out through the Eucharistic prayer" etc sounds like there is a bit here and a bit there but the part that has the words of consecration is all there in one place. There is only one difference. It isn't in narriative format. Actually this confirms the traditional understanding that only the words "This is my body" "This is the chalice of my blood" are necessary abosolutely speaking. Words in and around them in the narriative form such as "On the night he was betrayed ..." "After this he took the cup and gave it to his disciples saying" are not absolutely required. It has this but not in a narrative way of saying it. There is nothing to worry about. There has been much misunderstanding and confusion spread on this.

Thank you once again,


R. Sungenis: Well, if you are correct, then I take back everything I said about it. And if you are correct, then I am outraged that someone would treat the anaphora as if it did not contain the consecration formula. What documentation do you have for this?


Question 2- The Primacy of Peter

I wonder if you would be able to take some time to examine this article on the internet and be able to post some comments on the individual points, or maybe to contact this fellow.


Thank you very much for any help
God Bless, Peter

B. Douglass:

(1) The reason the Catholic Church forbids present day Popes from marrying is because she has deemed it expedient, given the objective superiority of celibacy over marriage (1 Cor 7:32-34,38).

(2) I can certainly imagine a Catholic bishop publicly reproving the Pope. A nun did it (St. Catherine of Sienna), and St. Thomas Aquinas says that it is morally licit, in some cases (ST, II-II, Q. 33, Art. 4). There is nothing about Galatians 2:11-14 that is contrary to the papacy.

(3) Mr. Corner is reading into the text of Acts 15 in claiming that St. James presided over the Council of Jerusalem, as opposed to St. Peter.

(4) Even Popes today use expressions of humility such as that found in 1 Peter 5:1.

(5) Acts 8:14 is simply an example of episcopal collegiality in action (cf. Lumen Gentium 23).

(6) How much Scripture St. Peter wrote, and (7) how hard he worked as compared to Paul, are both completely irrelevant to the question of his jurisdictional primacy.

(8) In order to use Luke 22:24 against the papacy Mr. Corner first needs to establish in what sense the word "greatest" is used. If it meant jurisdictional primacy, then that would be fatal to the Catholic position. However, I think it a far more logical inference to say that it refers to winning the most converts, achieving the highest level of sanctity, etc.

(9) St. Peter's teachings on salvation are in full conformity to modern day Catholicism, and in contradiction to those of Mr. Corner (cf. 1 Pet 1:17; 3:21; 4:18; 2 Pet 1:5-11). And Mr. Corner's contention that none of the apostles mentioned the sacraments or Church membership as having any role in salvation is simply laughable (e.g. Acts 2:38f; 22:16; Rom 6:3ff; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:26f; Eph 4:5; 5:26).

The distinction he posits between Petros and petra is an artificial one. Petros is simply a personal name, with no meaning of itslef, except what it takes from its identification with petra.



Question 1Is Sr. Lucia in Hell?

I pray to God that you are wrong about Sister Lucia 'selling out to the Vatican on the Fatima issue.

It would break my heart to learn that Sister Lucia would turn her back to The Holy Mother. If that is true how sad it must be for Jacina and Francisco to lose there beloved Lucia. Please inform me that I read wrong.

My prayers to you ,your work, the Holy Catholic Church and the Pope.
David C

B. Douglass: Sr. Lucia is recorded as giving contradictory testimony regarding whether the 1984 consecration fulfilled the requests of Our Lady of Fatima. Whether the statements to the effect that it did not fulfill them are forgeries, the statements to the contrary are forgeries, or she actually did contradict herself, we do not know for sure (though the evidence indicates that at least some of the statements to the effect that the 1984 consecration did suffice are, in fact, forgeries). In any case, Mary said that Sr. Lucia would go to heaven, so even if Sr. Lucia did contradict herself, it must have been based on a sincere change of mind, or sincere confusion due to the pressure she was under. Either that or she repented.



Top 5 Posts (Last Year)

Ruminations on Archbishop Viganó’s Recent Letter: Vatican II Is Not the Problem

“The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History” A Review By Robert A. Sungenis, Ph.D.

Mark Shea's Muddled Liberal Thinking

COVID-19 and the Left

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus