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August 2005

Q & A August 2005

Question 158 - Question 150 Pope Benedict and the Holy Eucharist

Question 157 - Was Mary's Salvation Dependent on Christ's Sacrifice?

Question 156 - Crucifixion

Question 155 - Benedict XVI and the Jews

Question 154 - What Does "The Father is Greater than I Mean? -- John 14:28

Question 153 - Recent research news about earth's core

Question 152 - What Does Vatican II mean by "Means of Salvation"? Part 3

Question 151 - A Question regarding the Geocentric Challenge, Part 4

Question 150 - Pope Benedict and the Holy Eucharist

Question 149 - Salvation outside of the Catholic Church

Question 148 - filioque difference with orthodox

Question 147 - the bible answer man

Question 146 - 2 Peter 1:20 and Private Interpretation

Question 145 - A Question regarding the Geocentric Challenge, Part 3

Question 144 - Fr. Serpa's "Catholic Answering" seems disingenous/ambiguous again

Question 143 - Regarding Mackey's proposal that the Flood was local, not global

Question 142 - A Question regarding the Geocentric Challenge

Question 141 - Missing encyclical

Question 140 - "Many" versus "All" in the Consecration

Question 139 - Books on the Trinity

Question 138 - Does God really hate the wicked? 4

Question 137 - A Question regarding the Geocentric Challenge

Question 136 - Dimond Brothers, Usury

Question 135 - Is the Earth Flat?

Question 134 - All or Many?

Question 133 - What Does Vatican II mean by "Means of Salvation"? Part 2

Question 132 - RE-What Does Vatican II mean by "Means of Salvation"?

Question 131 - The Consecration: All versus Many

Question 130 - What did Adam have to avoid sin, and what did he lose?

Question 129 - Can the Pope be a Mason?

Question 128 - Can non-Catholics receive Communion, ever?

Question 127 - What Does Vatican II mean by "Means of Salvation"?

Question 126 - Your Dialogue with E.W. Bullinger

Question 125 - Mortalium Animos, the Syllabus of Errors, and Vatican II

Question 124 - Benedict XVI and the Jews

Question 123 - Romans 5:12, Part 2

Question 122 - Douay Bible Question

Question 121 - Sola Scriptura & James White, Part 3

Question 120 - Rick Warren

Question 119 - Calvinism

Question 118 - Sola Scriptura & James White, Part 2

Question 117 - Geocentrism

Question 116 - Sola Scriptura & James White

Question 115 - Fr. Most's theology on salvation

Question 114 - Question regarding Matt 23:39

Question 113 - God's secret will and canaanite woman

Question 112 - How do I, as a Catholic, answer the question: "Have you been saved?"

Question 111 - Atonement, Pius X: Did Christ have to suffer and die?

Question 110 - Geocentrism and superluminal velocity, Part 2

Question 109 - Romans 5:12 Part 2

Question 108 - Geocentrism and superluminal velocity

Question 107 - Is my marriage valid?

Question 106 - Is the Mass idolatrous? Can we use instruments in worship?


Question 104 - The Atonement

Question 103 - Galileo according to the American Bible Association

Question 102 - Zionists and the neocons

Question 101 - Dave Hunt

Question 100 - baptismus in voto, Part 2

Question 99 - Galileo was wrong "Debate"

Question 98 - baptismus in voto

Question 97 - Baptism

Question 96 - NFP

Question 95 - The Protestant Work ethic

Question 94 - Innovative Churches

Question 93 - Evolutionary-creationism

Question 92 - The Geocentric Challenge

Question 91 - Catholic Law Schools

Question 90 - NASA and the Geocentrism Challenge

Question 89 - Contradictions in Vatican II documents? Part 2

Question 88 - Contradictions in Vatican II documents?

Question 87 - A fault in the geocentric argument?

Question 86 - Is the Eucharist cannibalism?

Question 85 - SSPX, Inter Insignores, Women in the OT

Question 84 - Geocentrism Question

Question 83 - Garrigou-Lagrange

Question 82 - Does Luke 1:48 only refer to Mary being happy?

Question 81 - Bush/Kerry cousens???

Question 80 - Mr. Staples and Vatican II

Question 79 - Response to Schoeman, Salvucci and Sue

Question 78 - Re: Question 31

Question 77 - Romans 5:12

Question 76 - Stay out of Politics

Question 75 - Robert Sungenis Responds to Karl Keating 2

Question 74 - God cannot lie?

Question 73 - Are these reputable, traditional Catholic sources wrong about the Atonement?

Question 72 - Can the pope change doctrine?

Question 71 - TULIP

Question 70 - Is Islam a 'religion of peace'?

Question 69 - UFO's

Question 68 - On SSA

Question 67 - Axiology

Question 66 - Are Canonizations Infallible?

Question 65 - Tradition

Question 64 - About Congar and heresy

Question 63 - I was dangerously close to converting to the Catholic Church

Question 62 - Institute of Christ the King

Question 61 - Vocations for Individuals with SSA

Question 60 - Does Mt 28:19 limit evangelism to the apostles?

Question 59 - The Earth revolves about the Sun 8

Question 58 - Dialogues with Keith Mathison on Sola Scriptura

Question 57 - Praying with non-Catholics

Question 56 - The Earth revolves about the Sun 7

Question 55 - The Earth revolves about the Sun 6

Question 54 - The Earth revolves about the Sun 5

Question 53 - John Paul II a saint??

Question 52 - Does God really hate the wicked? 3

Question 51 - Does God really hate the wicked? 2

Question 50 - Ben Douglass on QA board

Question 49 - Does God really hate the wicked?

Question 48 - Fr. Spitzer's Views of Creation


Question 46 - NAB Bible

Question 45 - Question 19 for CAI June 2005 on Natural Family Planning

Question 44 - Robert Sungenis Responds to Karl Keating

Question 43 - Gifts of the Spirit & Grace

Question 42 - Has the Old Covenant been revoked?

Question 41 - Leviticus 20.9

Question 40 - Geocentrism and eclipses

Question 39 - Salvation Outside the Church? by Francis Sullivan, SJ

Question 38 - A few more questions about Catholicism

Question 37 - "Proof"

Question 36 - Gnostics

Question 35 - Calvinism and the Elect

Question 34 - Disproof of geocentrism

Question 33 - Earth revolves about the Sun 4

Question 32 - Heliocentrism 2

Question 31 - Earth revolves about the Sun 3

Question 30 - What are your credentials?

Question 29 - Earth revolves about the Sun 2

Question 28 - More Heliocentrism

Question 27 - Earth revolves about the Sun

Question 26 - Adam and Eve and Dt 22:23

Question 25 - YOU who should get a grip on yourself

Question 24 - Geocentrism: You seemed to have given this topic serious consideration

Question 23 - Beatification of John Paul II

Question 22 - You embarass people of faith everywhere with your stupid ideas

Question 21 - The Sun is heavier than the Earth

Question 20 - Geocentrism Challenge

Question 19 - Proof of Heliocentrism

Question 18 - Propitiation

Question 17 - Heliocentrism Challenge 2

Question 16 - Heliocentrism Challenge

Question 15 - Norman Geisler - Roman Catholics and Evangelicals 2

Question 14 - Norman Geisler - Roman Catholics and Evangelicals

Question 13 - Baptism in Acts 15:7-9

Question 12 - Moral Conflict

Question 11 - Praying to Mary

Question 10 - Created Grace? 4

Question 9 - Considering converting to Catholicism

Question 8 - Sources like Josh McDowells

Question 7 - Created Grace? 3

Question 6 - You are 100% correct about James White

Question 5 - Does Wedding Mass Fulfill Sunday Obligation?

Question 4 - Questions about CAI

Question 3 - Why Won't James White Debate?

Question 2 - "Saving Faith"

Question 1 - Sacred Tradition and the Apostles

Question 158Question 150 Pope Benedict and the Holy Eucharist

I just wanted to give you a quick heads up this Q&A from your site.

This may give some indication that it does reflect the views of Pope Benedict, but I pray that you are correct in your answer.

In Christ,

R. Sungenis: Thanks, Bob. As the caption itself notes, it could have been a honest mistake. On the other hand, if and when the pope or anyone else begins to make a regular practice of giving communion to non-Catholics, then we can start worrying :)


Question 157Was Mary's Salvation Dependent on Christ's Sacrifice?

This question was posed to me by a non-catholic, and I was unsure as to the proper teaching on the subject.

I understand that her salvation is entirely dependent on the being of her Son, but is it dependent specifically on the sacrifice of her Son, as is everyone else's?

Would there be any theological ramifications if it were to be concluded that Mary could indeed have been saved without Christ's sacrifice do to her sinlessness? Technically she would still be saved entirely by God's graces and love alone, therefore would this view conflict with Catholic theology at all?

I have yet to receive a straight answer or explanation. Such answers have been similar to, "Mary participates in the divine nature of God because of God’s unconditional love of humanity. Is it possible to separate the love of God from Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross?"

Any help?

Thanks in advance,

R. Sungenis: Michael, as a member of the human race, Mary would have been infected with Original Sin if not for her Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception was the result of sanctifying grace Mary received directly from God, and the grace was given because of the future merits of Christ’s Atonement. This is why Mary says “I rejoice in God my Savior” at the birth of her Son (Lk 1:47). In that sense, Christ’s atonement was applied before it actually took place, as it was for all the Old Testament saints (cf., Rom 4:1-8).

One distinction that should be made, however, is that while Christ’s Atonement is the “meritorious cause” of her Immaculate Conception, her Motherhood of God is the “final cause.” The Council of Trent made these distinctions concerning Justification in Chapter 7 of Session 6:

Justification itself follows this disposition or preparation, which is not merely remission of sins [Canon 11], but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts, whereby an unjust man becomes a just man, and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be ‘an heir according to hope of life everlasting’ [Titus 3:7]. The causes of this justification are: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Christ and life eternal; the efficient cause is truly a merciful God who gratuitously ‘washes and sanctifies’ [1 Cor 6:11], ‘signing and anointing with the Holy Sprit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance’; but the meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘who when we were enemies,’ ‘for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us,’ merited justification for us [Canon 10] by His most holy passion of the wood of the Cross, and made satisfaction for us to God the Father; the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the ‘sacrament of faith,’ without which no one is ever justified. Finally the unique formal cause is the ‘justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but by which He makes us just’ [Canon 10 and 11, Augustine, On the Trinity, 14, 12, 15; ML 42, 1048], that, namely, by which, when we are endowed with it by him, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed, but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the ‘Holy Spirit distributes to everyone as he wills,’ and according to each one’s own disposition and cooperation.


Question 156Crucifixion

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

Recent biological evidence suggests that Christ was crucified through the wrists rather than the hands. How then do we rationalize stigmatics who suffered the wounds to their palms, and what about the Shroud of Turin and the evidences (if any) it offers?

Thanks much for you time and consideration,

Remington Tonar

R. Sungenis: Remington, the recent report by Dr. Zugibe has shown that the wrist theory is full of holes, but it certainly isn't nail holes. Im sure you can find it online.


Question 155Benedict XVI and the Jews

Hello Bob.

I just wanted to thankyou for getting back to me. I don`t know how you have the time to answer all the questions and still do all your project work and run a family. I am glad you are there though. If I may follow up with one more question? Benedict XVI, as JosephCardinal Ratzinger, has said that we should not proselytize the Jews and that they are saved by the Mosaic covenant, that they expectantly await the Messiah. Are not his actions in Cologne just a continuation of his statements as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

R. Sungenis: Jim, although as Card. Ratzinger his statement that the Jews are awaiting their Messiah is certainly troubling, he never said that we should not proselytize Jews or that they were saved by the Mosaic covenant. You're thinking of Card. Kasper, I believe. Moreover, the remark about the Jews and their wait for the Messiah was made by the theological commission under Ratzinger, not Ratzinger himself. (However, he is still responsible for the statement). If he ever says that Jews don't need to convert or that they can be saved by the Mosaic covenent, I'll levy my objections in bold print, don't worry.

Remember, too, he was part of an effort to discourage an Orthodox priest from converting to the Faith.

R. Sungenis: I would need much more evidence than just hearsay to make a judgment on this.

And I would like to ask you with all the excellent work you do on Origins and Geocentricism if the praise of a disciple of Teilhard de Chardin, who rejected Special Creation, is not more than a little problematic.

R. Sungenis: Sure, it's problematic, but the only thing that really should interest us about Benedict XVI is his official policies, not his private opinions.

On top of all that we have all the news coming out about the catholic funeral Mass for the murdered Protestant heretic Brother Roger Schutz and all of the heretics receiving Holy Communion from Cardinal Kasper who was sent there by the Pope. It sure seems like it really doesn`t matter if you are catholic or not doesn`t it? I mean what is the point of trying to hold on to the Faith with every ounce of your strength when this is what the Pope is doing? I don`t know Bob but it sure seems like Satan is running the church instead of the Vicar of Christ doesn`t it? Take care and God Bless and I will keep the Faith no matter what the Vatican does

R. Sungenis: No, Jim, Satan is not running the Church. If he was, then the gates of hell would have prevailed, and Jesus would be a liar. Granted, there are a lot of "devils" inside the Church TRYING to run it, but the Church still stands, as it always has. The "devils" stand to, and they will until the end of time.

Cardinal Kasper's actions don't necessarily speak for the pope. I wouldn't put it past him to have deliberately set up the situation as a trial balloon to see what kind of reaction he would get. Kasper is as liberal as they come, and that's one reason he isn't the pope. Let's let Benedict run the Church. If and when he shows evidence that he is rejecting traditional doctrine, then we can react. For now, I don't see it and I'm not staying awake at night worrying about it. Benedict XVI has shown signs that he is drifting away from Cardinal Ratzinger (e.g., his concern about Fatima, the Latin Mass, and the SSPX).

Please help the apostolate of CAI by sending a donation so that we can continue to do God's work. CAI, POB 278, State Line, PA 17263.


Question 154What Does "The Father is Greater than I Mean? -- John 14:28


What does John 14:28 mean when it says "The Father is greater than I"? Jehovah's Witnesses always use this to deny the Trinity.


R. Sungenis: Miguel, the first answer to your question was given way back in 675 AD, when the Council of Toledo said: “Likewise by the fact that He [Christ] is God, He is equal to the Father; by the fact that He is man, He is less than the Father.” (Denzinger 285).

The second answer is that the context of John 14 is speaking the roles of the Trinity, not about the substance of the Trinity. (“Substance” is the theological word we use when we are speaking of the essence of an entity. For example, if the entity is God we say the substance is divine. If the entity is man, we say the substance is human. The divine substance and the human substance cannot be mixed, and that is why Christ has two natures and two wills. The two natures are unmixed, and the two wills are unmixed).

Since John 14:28 is speaking about the roles, not substance, then it is appropriate to say that the Father’s is greater, since it is to Him that the Son is returning, not the Father that is coming down to the Son. Jesus left heaven in order to assume a subordinate role to the Father (Phil 2:6-9), which was accomplished when he took on a human nature. A subordinate role was needed because of the nature of the Atonement, that is, Christ had to take the place of Adam, a man, and propitiate the Father. Without Christ assuming a subordinate role to the Father, we would have had no salvation.

One more thing. Since Christ will always have a human nature, he will also be in a subordinate relationship to the Father (but the Father returns the favor by exalting the Son above every creation). But since the human nature of Christ is not mixed with his divine nature, then the divine nature is never affected by the human nature, and thus Christ always retains his full divinity and equality with the Father in terms of divine substance.


Question 153Recent research news about earth's core


Hello! How do recent news stories about research regarding the rotation of the earth's core affect your theories about the rotation of the earth?


R. Sungenis: Not at all. First, if you read the article carefully it says that other scientists don't put any stock into it at all, and that the earth is one solid piece.

Second, even if the core did move against the mantle, this wouldn't prove the earth rotates. It would only prove the core, because it is viscous, moves against the solid mantle. As such, the same universal forces that cause the Foucault pendulum to rotate in the geocentric system will cause a viscous core to move, since all the forces go to the center of the earth, as Newton himself realized.


Question 152What Does Vatican II mean by "Means of Salvation"? Part 3

Dear Bob,

Before I can reply, I'd like you to clarify something for me. I feel like I'm responding to a moving target. Just in what sense do you say Protestant churches are (or can be used as) means of salvation? In the sense that (1) anything, incl. a broken coffeemaker, satanist, atheist, porn magazine, or bent paper clip can be used as a means of salvation? This you seemed to argue before, and partly now also in this latest email. But now you're also arguing, or seem to be arguing, that (2) Protestant churches are (used as) means of salvation inasmuch as they are imperfect instatiations of the Catholic Church -- something that can't be said of broken coffeemakers or satanists (well, not so sure about satanists, since they too believe God exists ;-) ). So which are you arguing? Which of these do you want me to respond to? If the latter, then you are in effect saying that, no, the Catholic Church alone is the means of salvation but this means is sometimes found to an extent in Protestant communities--from which it would follow then that the Holy Ghost does NOT use the Protestant communites (and definitely not "as such") as means of salvation but only the Catholic Church, which somehow happens to be present, to a certain extent, in the Protestant religion. Now we're opening a HUGE can of worms, because we're no longer then talking about what is and can be used as a means of salvation but now about what and where is the Catholic Church.

So please tell me whether you believe (1) or (2) or maybe both. Thanks.


R. Sungenis: Both are true. In fact, what the Protestant knows of Christ could be considered a "means" to lead him to receive Baptism, which is itself a "means" to salvation. The application is fluid. I think the problem here is that you are working with a preconceived idea of what "means" means, but you have no dogmatic proof for your definition. And it's going to be rather difficult for you to confine the definition of "means" to your narrow meaning, since the only official document we have that uses that word in reference to salvation is Vatican II. If you've got an official Catholic document, however, that says "means" is what you understand it to be, then you've got something. Until then, all you've got is an unsubstantiated opinion.


Question 151A Question regarding the Geocentric Challenge, Part 4

It might be possible to show however, that whatever the mass might be, that it is impossible for it to be moving in such a way so as to maintain that center of mass relationship over time, perhaps due to the limit of lightspeed.

R. Sungenis: But the limit of light speed to c would only be true in Special Relativity, in the absence of a gravitational field.

General Relativity, which accounts for gravitational fields, allows mass to move at any speed.


Question 150Pope Benedict and the Holy Eucharist

Dear CAI,

I'm beginning to have my doubts about Pope Benedict. I read today that our Holy Father has given and still allows to be given, the Holy Eucharist, to non-Catholics. How does this mesh will the guy who guide the Church in a more traditional fashion?


In Christ,

R. Sungenis: What Cardinal Kasper did was his own decision. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Pope Benedict. Kasper has been quite independent in his brand of Catholicism for many years, so it wouldn't surprise me if by this action he was sending out his trial balloon to see if he gets any adverse reaction. The only time present canon law allows communion to be distributed to someone who is not a formal member of the Catholic Church is when that person has a disposition towards the Catholic Church and knows the substance and purpose of the Eucharist (such as the Eastern Orthodox), and even then, it is only in danger of death. Unfortunately, it is Kasper's apparent intention of making the remote exception into the major rule for the Church. I would not be surprised if Pope Benedict clamped down on this in the near future.


Question 149Salvation outside of the Catholic Church

What is the text Vatican ll Lumen Gentium 14 ccc846 and ccc847 say? I am trying to teach that Salvation is not only for Catholics and have read the Catechism but somehow I think this is more of what I'm looking for.

R. Sungenis: CCC 846-847 is encapsulating what the Church has taught for centuries. On the one hand, someone may receive Baptism outside the Catholic Church and become saved, but the only reason they receive salvation is that the grace of Baptism, which works ex opere operato, has been given to them through the auspices of the Catholic Church. It is then the individual's responsibility to act on their Baptism and become a formal member of the Catholic Church, putting themselves under the pope and with the intention of receiving the rest of the sacraments. If they refuse to do so and know that they are rejecting the Catholic Church, then they lose their salvation. On the other hand, those who have never heard of the Catholic Church, or even Baptism, could possibly attain eternal life, but they would have to abide by all the stipulations in CCC 847, which are derived from Pius IX's encyclical Quanto conficiamur moerore. Considering the sin condition of man, that occasion will indeed be very rare. And in any case, the exception does not make the rule (which is the grave mistake that the liberals make). The dispensing of salvation in these exceptional cases can only be judged by God himself. As Pius IX also said: "it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry."


Question 148filioque difference with orthodox

Can you please enlighten me as to the nature of filioque and the difference with what the orthodox think.

As I understand it Catholic belief is that the Holy Spirit has been proceeding (for want of a better term) from the Son since eternity, but not as from the son as source, the source being the Father. It is my understanding that the Orthodox Church believe that the Holy Spirit has only been proceeding or sent on a mission so to speak, since a particular point in time. If I understand the orthodox view correctly are you able to advise me using scripture that would present a case for the Holy Spirit being sent from/through the son since eternity.


B. Douglass: Tim

Let me start with a citation from the USCCB's document "The Filioque: A Church-Dividing Issue?"

"[B]oth traditions also clearly affirm that the Father is the primordial source (arch‘) and ultimate cause (aitia) of the divine being, and thus of all God’s operations."

Both traditions also affirm that the Holy Spirit is eternal, uncreated, and has been proceeding since eternity. Here's the difference: as the Holy Spirit is "the love or the sanctity" of God (11th Council of Toledo), and the Son perfectly reciprocates the Father's love, the Holy Spirit proceeds from both as from a single principle (2nd General Council of Lyons, Denzinger 460). The Orthodox, on the other hand, do not emphasize the Son's reciprocation of the Father's love, and thus assert that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father. They acknowledge that Christ sends the Holy Spirit on missions, as you noted, but not that He spirates the Holy Spirit.

The Catholic Encylopedia's article on the filioque and pp. 62-64 of Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma both present cases for the Catholic view from Scripture and Tradition.

Ben Douglass

Please help the apostolate of CAI by sending a donation so that we can continue to do God's work. CAI, POB 278, State Line, PA 17263.


Question 147the bible answer man


Do you have any articles, information rebutting anything that Hank Hanegraaff "The Bible Answer Man" has written or said? I have read both the books "Not by Faith Alone" and "Not by Bread Alone."

Please let me know,

Thank you for the work your are doing.
Tim Nestor

B. Douglass: Tim

As far as I am aware no one at CAI has specifically rebutted anything Hank Hanegraaff has written of said. If you would like CAI to respond to something of his, just let us know.

Ben Douglass

Please help the apostolate of CAI by sending a donation so that we can continue to do God's work. CAI, POB 278, State Line, PA 17263.


Question 1462 Peter 1:20 and Private Interpretation


Does 2nd Peter 1:20 mean that each individual is not free to interpret scripture for himself or is Peter making a different point hear. The wording of this passage is confusing to me.

Thanks and God Bless!

R. Sungenis: Terry, no, it really has nothing to do with Bible interpretation. The context is set up in verses 16-17 in which "prophecy" is defined as the words of God that came out of heaven which Peter, James and John heard with their own ears. Peter is saying, "Look, we didn't make this up. We were eyewitnesses of the event and heard God speak to us." Then he adds that the same is true when God speaks in the prophecy of Scripture. It is not something dreamed up by the prophets themselves (as the liberal Catholic and Protestant scholars of today think), rather, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to make their prophecies, and thus we know it is truth because it comes directly from heaven.

Please help the apostolate of CAI by sending a donation so that we can continue to do God's work. CAI, POB 278, State Line, PA 17263.


Question 145A Question regarding the Geocentric Challenge, Part 3

It seems to be part of your cosmological model that there is in fact a fixed reference frame, and a notion of absolute space, I base this assumption from some of the text on your website.

It seems to me that given this assumption, it is impossible for the earth to be motionless relative to that fixed reference frame.

To simplify the model, let us take just the Earth/Sun system. If we presume there is a fixed reference frame, and watch our universe from any fixed position in space, both the sun and earth must be moving relative to our position, as they will be rotating about the systems center of mass.

This is essentially the argument brought up by Hoge. You address it by suggesting it is possible that the mass in the rest of the universe is arranged in a way to keep the earth motionless relative to the fixed reference frame over long periods of time.

I would expect that this should be something one could falsify or verify through observation. If I were to present evidence that the observed mass in the universe is not sufficient, or not properly distributed to keep the earth fixed, would this be considered proof enough to win the prize? Or would you be free to appeal to unseen objects of arbitrary mass and position?

R. Sungenis: I don't think so, since you would have to be able to know and calculate all the mass in the universe. In the geocentric position, without us knowing the mass, we can still easily say that the Earth is the center of whatever the total mass is, so we are safe. Besides, even in your beginning calculations you're going to run smack into the CMBR isotropy and the mystery of Dark Matter.


Question 144Fr. Serpa's "Catholic Answering" seems disingenous/ambiguous again

I asked Catholic Answers if my priest could use the term "gay persons" off the pulpit, even though CDF documents and the Catechism use "homosexual persons" and "persons with a homosexual inclination".

To me it seems a violation of Canon 1369 - bringing the church and religion into disrepute because he is teaching another meaning of the same concept the Church has other terms for.

My priest admits that he uses "gay" because that is what they call themselves. But he refers to homosexuals who don't see the sinfullness of their acts! I think his reasoning is circular.

Here is Fr. Serpa's answer to me. Do you think he answered it correctly?

my heart and common sense says that all Catholics should be on the same page and that if we start using "gay" in homilies, we might as well use the slang of othe sinful inclinations as well.

-Kevin McDonald, Halifax, N.S.

Full disclosure: I accused Fr. Serpa before of weak and innacurate apologetics to Karl Keating (no response) and CAI before for a lame answer to another CA questioner as to whether homosexuals may be ordained. He replied that it was up to the diocese. CAI published an article disagreeing and reminding Catholics of the 1963(?) mandate from Rome that no homosexuals be ordained.

I don't trust the apologists at CA. I sent my answer there on a fishing expedition, knowing it would come back undersized.

R. Sungenis: "Homosexuals" is the proper term to use, not only clinically but theologically. "Gay" is the street word. Moreover, "gay" takes the sting out of the title, since it makes them appear more like they are mentally imbalanced rather than sexually deviant and in deep sin.


Question 143Regarding Mackey's proposal that the Flood was local, not global


is it true that the Hebrew word HU in Gn 2:11 means that the four rivers coming out of Eden were the same four rivers in Moses' day, and does this mean there was not a global flood?


R. Sungenis: Hugh,

Regarding Mackey's proposal that the flood of Noah's day was local, he says the following:

“We saw that the four rivers referred to in the antidiluvian Adamic toledot are actually named by the postdiluvian Moses as real rivers, running alongside (or around) real geographical locations. Moreover, Moses uses the very same 3rd person masculine singular Hebrew pronoun hu… meaning ‘he’ or ‘himself,’ in every one of the four cases, thereby directly connecting Adam’s four un-named rivers with four known rivers of his (Moses’) own time. Now this hu is again the exact same Hebrew pronoun that editor Moses would use in his geographical modification of Abram’s history, where, in that famous case of Genesis 14:3 he advises his people that the site that was in Abram’s day ‘the Valley of Siddim’ had now become the Dead Sea. Thus Moses: ‘Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea)”; the Hebrew pronoun hu here being translated quite appropriately into English as, ‘that is.’”
Actually, hu does not mean “he” or “himself” in these instances. The only reason it is masculine is because the nouns preceding it are masculine (“The NAME of the ONE is Pishon…”). Hebrew didn’t have a neuter, so it would have to use the masculine or feminine pronoun when referring to something we consider neutral in gender, such as a river. Thus, in this case hu would better be translated in English as “it is” or “that is.”

Second, the reason hu is used in these instances is for emphasis. If I said: “Hugh Owen is the director of the Kolbe Center; he is the one who organizes all our conferences,” the reason I would use “he” is to emphasize that it is Hugh Owen and no one else who has this task.

However, hu does not tell us, nor does it have the capability to tell us, whether the Pishon is to be understood as the river in Adam’s time, in Moses’ time, or in both times. The only job of hu is to connect, in an emphatic way, that the Pishon is the river surrounding all the land of Havilah. It is the context of the passage that will give us more information, not hu, as to whether the Pishon was only a river in Moses’ time that surrounded the land of Havilah.

The difficulty with Genesis 2:11 is that there is no verb, per se, in the sentence. The closest we have to a verb is the participle hosobeb (“surrounding”). It is in cases like this, without a verb, that hu is commonly used. Without a verb, however, it is difficult to conclude that the names of the locations and what they contain are being limited to Moses’ day. It could just as well be that the river was named Pishon by Adam and that in Adam’s day there was gold in the land of Havilah.

We can also ask the question: if Moses is saying that these four rivers are rivers only named in his day, how does that satisfy the fact that Moses knew there was a river coming out of Eden and that it split into four? He could have known this only by divine revelation, since he couldn’t have known otherwise. This would also allow that the four rivers were given their names in Adam’s day. Since Adam named the animals, he might have named the rivers as well.

In any case, however, Mackey’s point that there is a connection between the four rivers of Adam’s day and the four rivers of Moses’ day cannot be denied. The Euphrates river alone is enough to prove that case.

But to even begin to entertain Mackey's thesis that it was a local, not global flood, he would first have to prove that a deep and pervasive flood would totally destroy a river bed, a bed that may have been hundreds of feet deep.

In fact, water pressure could have increased the dimensions of the river bed. If the flood started as rain which has little destructive power, and covered the river and the land, say 50 feet, this deep of water would do nothing to disturb the contours of the river bed. It could only do so if the water was violently moving in those depths and over a long period of time, but there was no such force in the flood.

At those depths there was just a lot of water pressure, no activity. This is precisely why in the depths of the ocean we can go down and find a sunken ship practically undisturbed, since there is no violent turbulence in deep waters, only a lot of water pressure. Increased water pressure actually preserves things in the deep, since there is less molecular action or friction when there is more pressure. This is why subs can move faster in deeper water, because there is less friction against the skin. It's like a watery graveyard.

Since mountains existed in Noah’s day (Ararat, Gn 8:4), then after the flood, water would flow from the mountains to the deepest place and/or the place of least resistance. Likewise, if even remnants of these four river beds were still existing after the flood, they would continue as rivers after the flood.


Question 142A Question regarding the Geocentric Challenge

Intersting, so then if we presume that the universe is rotating about a fixed earth, what would that imply about coriolis forces on other planets, such as say, jupiter?

Surely we should expect to find somewhat differing effects since the universal rotation would be offset from the center of that planet?

Would you agree that sufficienctly precise measurements of other planets atmospheres or liquid bodies in this regard might provide strong evidence for one or the other theory?

R. Sungenis: Yes, if we take as a given that the Earth is in the center, but that would be assuming as proven something we haven't proven. If, for example, we could measure the Coriolis force on Venus, for all we know, Venus could be the center of the universe. Relativity claims that any point can be the center, and they can make the math work to show it. But then again, that's precisely the problem with Relativity, because it only gives us math, not the reality of what actually IS the center.


Question 141Missing encyclical

Mr. Sungenis

Thanks for answering my questions in the past. I have a new one for you. I am reading papal statements on no salvation outside the church right now and I'm trying to get as much information as I can. I remember looking in a web site and reading a papal encyclical about a pope (Pius XII?) who was commenting on that dogma and stated something along the lines of stating that if someone is living in invincible ignorance and they follow our Lord as best they could they have a chance at being saved, but that it is not for us to go around guessing who that might be. Our job is to get them in the Church. Do you know which papal statement comments somewhat like this?

Appreciate it,

B. Douglass: Jaime,

The encyclicals you are probably thinking of are Pius IX's Quanto Conficiamur Moerore (no. 7) and his allocution Singulari Quadem (Denzinger 1647).

Ben Douglass

Please help the apostolate of CAI by sending a donation so that we can continue to do God's work. CAI, POB 278, State Line, PA, 17263.


Question 140"Many" versus "All" in the Consecration

Hello again Robert.

Hope you can help me again. I'm trying hard to pull some of my friends back into believing that the New Mass is valid. They are still asking questions. This is what they say;

When Pope Paul VI replaced Christ's words "for many" with the words "for all" he changed the essential words of the Consecration of the Mass. Our Lord died for the salvation of all, but His Passion and Death were efficacious only for the many who are saved. In other words, Christ redeemed all, but not all are saved. This is what is signified in the true words of consecration.

R. Sungenis:

No, this is not correct. No official statement from the Church has ever tied the words "many" or "all" to how many people are saved or not saved. The word "many" in the Greek language (pollon) is simply an idiom for an indefinite amount. It is not trying to limit the amount. If it were trying to limit the amount, there are plenty of other Greek words that could have been used.

As I said in my last email, if we were to press the logic of those who deny the validity of the Novus Ordo based on the theology of 'limited atonement,' we should remind them that Jesus should have said "which is shed for few for the forgiveness of sins," sins other passages in the NT tell us that few, not many, will be saved.

But this is all beside the point, because the Greek is not trying to give us a definite number. That is precisely why the Greek can interchange "many" with "all" at will, as I stated in my last email.

And in this light, we must remember that the word "all" is conditioned by the context of the sentence. Whenever we see the word "all" we should immediately ask the question: "All in reference to what?" Unless the sentence gives us a direct object, the application is up for grabs.

Thus, if the sentence says "which blood was shed for all for the forgiveness of sins," we don't know the object of "all" because the text doesn't tell us. It could be all the world, or it could be all Christians, or it could be all the people who were Christians at the time of Jesus.

For example, when the word "all" is used in 1 Cor 15:22: "As in Adam all die, as in Christ all shall be made alive," based on a theological perspective, if the first use of "all" refers to the whole world; then second use of "all" refers only to the Christians. So here we have two directly opposite applications of the word "all" in the same sentence.

Or, based on a contextual basis, we could also say that the first "all" refers only to the Christians in the Corinthian Church; and the second "all" also refers to Corinthians, since St. Paul is not speaking about the rest of the world in the context of 1 Cor 15. So here we have "all" used in the same way in both cases.

I'm sure you can see how easily these words can be manipulated depending on the context and the target audience.

Moreover, we must be very careful when we attempt to apply esoteric theological speculations to the simple words of Scripture, especially in areas that deal with the application of the Atonement. Although it is true that, theologically speaking, there is a difference between potential salvation and efficacious salvation, these theological tensions are often best left out of the equation, since they cannot be settled definitively by our limited perspective, especially when these esoteric dimensions are then used to determine the validity or invalidity of the Catholic Mass.

For example, in 1 Tim 2:4 it says: "God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." Seems simple enough, doesn't it? In reality, this is one of the most difficult verses in the Bible to interpret. Augustine himself had FOUR different interpretations of this verse thoughout his shining career. Why? Because if God already knows who is going to be saved, then why would he feign a desire to have the rest of mankind saved if he knew they weren't going to repent? Wouldn't that be akin to a lie?

John Calvin also struggled with this verse, albeit less than Calvin, because he simply concluded that "all men" refer only to the "elect." Calvin defined the "elect" as all those for whom Christ died on the Cross, and no one else. Thus, Calvin based his understanding of 1 Tim 2:4 on his concept of "limited atonement." Christ simply didn't die for everyone. Simple enough, but thoroughly heretical.

Being Catholics, we don't believe in "limited atonement," even though we believe that, in the end, not everyone will be saved. So what do we do with 1 Tim 2:4? Well, as Catholic theology usually does, it allows the tension to exist without a definitive answer. On the one hand, we say, yes, God truly desires all men of the world to be saved. He is not lying to us. He would be less than God if he didn't desire their salvation, let alone appear to be making a fallacious offer to the world that he knew the whole world did not have the power to accept.

On the other hand, we say, yes, God still knows all those who are going to be saved, and who will not be saved, even before he ever created them. A mystery, indeed, but we as Catholics can let the mystery remain in God, rather than use it to make dubious interpretations of Scripture in contexts (e.g., "shed for you and for many") that don't want these esoteric concepts plugging up the works, so to speak.

Since we don't know how many or who will be saved either in the past, present or future (only God knows), the New Testament often chooses words to that effect. That is what is behind the Greek word "many," both in the consecration texts and the salvation texts.

Linda: St Alphonsus Liquori says: The words 'Pro vobis et pro multis' (for you and for many} are used to distinguish the virtue of the blood of Christ from its fruits; for the blood of Christ is suffiecient value to save all men, but its fruits are applicable only to a certain number and not to all, and this is their own fault.

R. Sungenis: As much as we can admire Ligouri for his work, this particular statement must be classified as his own opinion, for if it wasn't more than his opinion, and if the use of "all" was such an important issue that people would be divided over the very validity of the Mass and thus put their very souls in jeopardy of damnation because of it, then the Church would have made a dogma stating that "all" could never be used in the consecration formula, but for 2000 years they have not done so.

Moreover, Church dogmatics is our final authority, no matter how holy and intelligent a doctor of the Church was in his day. We can voice our opinion on theological matters and submit a dubium to the Magisterium, but none of us have the right to dictate Catholic dogma. If we do, we may find ourselves on the outside looking in at Judgment Day.

We must also remember that, as we Catholics incessantly appeal to Matthew 16:18's clause "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," in order to prove to the world that the Catholic Church is the one, true Church, so it is in the case of the Mass as well. If the Church has made an error in the consecration formula, then, indeed, hell has prevailed, and it has prevailed at the very pinnacle of the Church, for there is no greater expression of Catholicism than the Catholic Mass. It is the embodiment of the Cross, and the Cross is the bridge between God and man. Without the Mass we might as well just throw Christianity in the trash heap, let alone condemn millions of peole because we think they are going to an invalid Mass and thus are not having their sins forgiven.

Linda: (They say) If Christ wanted to use the words"for all" at the last supper" He would have done so since the Aramaic language has words that mean "all", "all the inhabitants of the earth" or "all mankind." Obviously, He chose to use the word "many" the word that the Catholic Church has retained in Her liturgy for nearly 2,000 years.

R. Sungenis: Already explained above in how the Greek uses the word "many" in an idiomatic fashion, and also interchanges "many" with "all." Incidentally, no argument should be based on whether or not Jesus spoke Aramaic. Whether he did not not, the fact remains that the New Testament was inspired in Greek, not Aramaic. As such, we must base our conclusions on how the Greek language was used and put in Scripture. There are some who claim that one or more of the Gospels were first written in Hebrew, but that is an unproven proposition. We cover the topic in-depth in our Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, Matthew, Vol. 1.

Linda: Our Lord's words that His Precious Blood would be shed for you (the Apostles} and for many have always been understood to refer to the efficacy, and not the sufficiency of His sacrifice.

Robert, these are quotations from a book with many footnotes of information. The book is called "Tumultuous Times" I'm sure you have heard of it. Any help on this would be appreciated. Again, thank-you for your time!!!


R. Sungenis: If it was, then that opinion was going way beyond the bounds of either the context of Matthew 26, Mark 14 or Luke 22. Again, if that was the theology of the consecration, then the Church had 2000 years in which to dogmatize it, but it did not. Even at the Council of Trent when the doctrine of the Mass was being stipulated in detail due to the attacks of Luther, there was no statement saying that "all" could not be used. Based on the linguistic information I have shown above regarding the idiomatic usage of "many," as well as the Greek's penchant to interchange "many" with "all," there is good reason why Trent would not make such a dogma.

Linda: Do you think we'll be seeing more of the Latin Mass in the near future? It would be nice if we were given a choice at all the Churches.

R. Sungenis: Yes, I do, if Pope Benedict XVI is who I believe he is.

By the way, thank you for your very generous donation. I hope I have given back a portion of it to you.


Question 139Books on the Trinity

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

about a week or so ago, i finished reading augustine's de Trinitate, and i was disappointed. i was expecting more of a philosophical explanation of what exactly it means when we say that God is one being with three persons, but he more or less avoided the issue (although his scriptural defense of the Trinity was quite good). now, i've heard that karl rahner's the Trinity and walter kasper's the God of Jesus Christ are good books on the Trinity, but i've also heard bad things about those theologians in general. so, do you know if those books are any good? and do you know of any other good philosophical explanations of the Trinity? i've already read frank sheed's theology and sanity, which i thought was very good. i would also assume that aquinas's explanations in his summa theologica and summa contra gentiles are good. any other recommendations?


B. Douglass:

Robert has delegated some of the Q&A workload to me, due to time constraints.

I can't comment on the books by Rahner and Kasper, since I haven't read them. However, you are right to be wary of those theologians.

For patristic works on the Trinity, see the Council of Toledo,

St. Gregory of Nyssa's On the Holy Trinity,

and St. Hilary of Potiers' On the Holy Trinity.

For modern works try Giles Emery, Trinity in Aquinas, and the first section of Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.

Ben Douglass

Please help the apostolate of CAI by sending a donation so that we can continue to do God's work. CAI, PO Box 278, State Line, PA, 17263


Question 138Does God really hate the wicked? 4

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

This is in reply to Q 53 of this month in your Q & A section, where you state:

"Duane, you can try to rationalize it, but the Scripture is as plain as day. This is often the problem with metaphysical philosopy. If it comes up against something in Scripture that doesn't fit into their pre-fabricatred system, the metaphysician will almost always side with his metaphysics, or he may try to come up with a hybrid between his metaphysics and Scripture, rather than taking Scripture at face value. They almost never question their metaphysics, rather, they always question the meaning of Scripture. I'm sorry, but that is a recipe for error. God doesn't lie. Metaphysics cannot make that claim."

As much as I like the vast majority of what you write, it seems quite outlandish to me to say that "the Scripture is plain as day" and yet read it contrary to how St. Thomas reads it. Were it so "plain as day", do you really think the Angelic Doctor would have misunderstood it. It's one thing to disagree with St. Thomas (one thing I would never suggest outside of a clear Church teaching otherwise), but it's a completely different matter to say something is "plain as day" when you have a certain understanding of a passage of the Bible and St. Thomas has another understanding. If nothing else, this at least confirms that such a passage is not "plain as day", unless you honestly think St. Thomas would have misunderstood a passage that is "plain as day". God bless.

In Christo Rege et Maria Regina,
Matthew [last name removed]

R. Sungenis: Matthew, let's not make this a contest between Thomas and me. I respect and appeal to Thomas probably more than you do. One thing I like about Thomas is that he never claimed to be infallible, and always reserved his judgments on difficult matters. In fact, at the end of his life he wanted to throw away all of his writings for the personal and intimate communion with God that books simply can't give. So if I take an opposite view than Thomas on one subject, it doesn't mean that I don't value Thomas or don't abide by what he said on almost every other subject. You also need to know that I am not the first to see some flaws in the metaphysical position on emotion and God's wrath. The Fathers were split right down the middle on the subject. Von Hildebrand, Marra, Seifert, et al., also see the same problems in the metaphysical approach, so I have precedent for seeing things otherwise. In almost every other case, Thomas is the best there is. I hope you understand.


Question 137A Question regarding the Geocentric Challenge

What would be the response to the coriolis effect and the apparent impossibility of a rotating aether to simulate it as stated here:

R. Sungenis: The arguments of Ken Cole have already been answered, both my myself and Dr. Robert Bennett. Dr. Bennett’s answer to Cole concerned atmospheric convection currents and how they seem to be at odds with the current theory of a rotating earth. To my knowledge, Ken Cole has not continued the correspondence on this issue.

Regarding Ken’s present argument, the continuing problem with his analysis is that he tries to confine geocentric Coriolis force to that generated by an aether, but we don’t make such claims. We’ve ever said that aether creates a Coriolis force. Thus, this is just a straw man Ken builds up so he can knock it down.

What we HAVE said is that the geocentric Coriolis force is created by the force of the universe rotating around a fixed earth. It is a fact that current science has concluded that there is no difference between the forces generated in a rotating earth within a fixed universe as opposed to a rotating universe around a fixed earth. Papers by Mach, Einstein, Barbour and Bertotti, and many others have shown this to be the case. It was all started by Newton’s failure to explain the rotating bucket of water back in 1687.

This also means that Ken Cole’s understanding of Coriolis force is inadequate, since he is limiting his explanation to local atmospheric forces. But the $64,000 question is: against what are these atmospheric forces reacting? Unfortunately, Ken has left out the rest of the universe, and thus he has no answer to this question.


Question 136Dimond Brothers, Usury

What a pleasure it is to follow your demolition of the Dimond Brothers. There is really no one better than Sungenis at this particular and very necessary apologetical task.

My sincere love and admiration for your heroic work (and workload) does not, alas, dispense me from my obligation to correct the terrible misrepresentation in Mr. Douglass' earlier response to my note on usury.

I'll give it another week, then I will request an opportunity to post my own response to the real Red Herring.

May God bless your apostolate.

Rick DeLano

R. Sungenis: Rick, thank you for the commendation. Do you think that will silence the Dimond Brothers :) (as he rolls tongue in cheek)?

I have forwarded Ben Douglass your comments. I'm going to let you and Ben fight this battle on your own turf for now.


Question 135Is the Earth Flat?

During research on a current essay in defence of the Genesis Flood, an internet offering from the late science writer Robert Schadewald contended that the "real" evidence for "Biblical" support of the ancient Hebraic belief that the Earth is flat is found in the Book of Enoch. Interestingly, a goodly number of internet sites contain the charge that the canonical books also support a flat Earth. The examples used are the very Scriptures that creationists insist attest to a spherical Earth. What is your take on this?

Yours in Christ and His geocentric Earth,


R. Sungenis: As for the flat earth, no, no such possibility. All the Fathers of the Church believed in a spherical earth. The only dissenter was Lanctantius. The Ptolemaic view that the Church held as the best explanation of the heavens was all based on spherical bodies. The Church at no time gave sanction to a flat earth. In fact, there is a myth that Columbus was the first to discover that the earth was round. But we can go back a long ways and in history to show that most civilizations have always believed in a round earth, from the Babylonians, to the Egyptians, and especially the Greeks. As even Stephen Gould admitted:

“There never was a period of ‘flat earth darkness’ among scholars (regardless of how many uneducated people may have thus conceptualized out earth both then and now). Greek knowledge of sphericity was never lost, and all major medieval scholars accepted the earth’s roundness as an established fact of cosmology” (“The Persistenly Flat Earth,” Natural History, March 1994, p. 14).

As for the book of Enoch, it is apocryphal and thus not our authority.


Question 134All or Many?


Thank-you for your response to the question on the Consecration using the word "all or Many". Could you elaborate a little more on this topic? Many Catholics feel that Christ shed his blood for many, not for all. Isn't there a difference? Thank-you again for your time.



R. Sungenis: Christ shed his blood for all mankind, no exceptions. We are not Protestants who believe in "limited atonement." They believe in limited atonement because they think that Christ's suffering and death was a legal payment for the sin of the elect, thus everything is paid for only for a certain few people. In their view, Christ did not make a payment for the rest of the world, and thus they have no chance of becoming saved. This was the view espoused by Luther and Calvin, and has survived to varying degrees in much of Protestantism today.

The Catholic view of the Atonement is quite different. We believe that Christ made no legal payment to the Father, for his suffering and death were voluntary (Jn 10:18). The is no legality in something that is voluntary. Rather, the Christ's suffering and death were the means to appease or propitate the Father so that the Father would relent of his wrath against mankind and once again open up the doors of salvation that were closed when Adam sinned. In response to Christ, the Father does, indeed, open up the possibility of salvation for all mankind. That is why 1 Tim 2:4 says "God desires ALL men to be saved." Unfortunately, most men are not accepting of God's offer of salvation, and thus Christ's atonement becomes applicable only to a part of the human race, a remnant, as it were.

Also, those who say that the word "many" refers to the opposite of "all" have created an inequity. Not only have they ignored the interchangability between "many" and "all" in the New Testament, if we grant that not everyone will be saved, then the question arises as to how many people of the earth will, indeed, be saved? Is it most of the people or just a few of the people? According to Jesus (and other NT passages) there are "few" who find salvation (cf., 1 Pet 4:17-18; 2 Pet 2:4-8). "Many" are not saved, and thus it is incorrect to apply the word "many" to the eventual sum of who will be saved. For we can then inquire: "Many is in comparison to what?" If it is in comparison to the whole world, then there are NOT "many" who are saved, but very few. This is why "many" in passages regarding the Atonement is referring to "all."


Question 133What Does Vatican II mean by "Means of Salvation"? Part 2

Mario: Bob, you're using an improper definition of the word "means." A means is not a stepping stone. A can opener is a means to open a can; a 10-dollar bill is not such a means even if I use it to buy the can opener. The pagans' "religiosity" or their statues St. Paul ran into weren't means of salvation. This is something that should be very apparent. A means that cannot in itself achieve its end is not a means at all. Interestingly enough, I was missing the word "means" in the quotes from Trent you cited. Of course Vatican II could have said that in some cases, for some individuals, Protestant heresies have, strangely enough and only incidentally, functioned as stepping stones for considering Catholicism (for instance, Sola Scriptura has led one Protestant to defend this heresy online, where he heard a refutation of it and then became a Catholic) -- but of course Vatican II said no such thing, and by that logic, well, all sorts of things can function as all sorts of things for all sorts of people in individual circumstances. If my pagan aunt's coffemaker breaks and she needs to buy a new one, meets a Catholic in the store, falls in love with him, he converts her and they marry -- can we then have an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church declare that the Holy Ghost does not refrain from using broken coffeemakers as means of salvation? Or could it be that coffeemakers are not means of salvation at all and that this was just a divinely-guided incident in which the coffeemaker played an *incidental* role?

R. Sungenis: Mario, if and when you find an official Catholic dictionary that defines "means" as you did above, then you've got something to talk about. Until then, you're just a man with an opinion, and a very stilted one at that. If the pagan of Acts 17 is brought to the Catholic Church because of his religiosity and his search for the Unknown God, then, even in your narrow definition, the means has been effective in accomplishing its ends. If, as Romans 10:18 and Psalm 19:4 teaches that the cosmos declares God's glory and by it a man can come to believe in God, then the cosmos has served as a means to God. If the Gentiles of Romans 2:14-15 have the law written on their heart as the "means" to know and obey God, and by it, according to St. Paul, can be justified, then certainly Protestantism can likewise serve as a means.

Mario: Let's not forget that Vatican II elaborates: "The separated churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from the defects already mentioned, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation." You see, Vatican II is speaking about the false churches AS SUCH because it is attributing to them significance and importance in the whole mystery of salvation. It is thereby extolling them. The last time I checked, the only significance false religions play in the mystery of salvation is that, as such, they lead people away from salvation. That is their mission. They can never be means of salvation; in individual and certain circumstances, they might perhaps, through convoluted happenstance, FUNCTION as stepping stones to the true religion, but not of themselves or "as such" or because they are significant or anything like that, but only in the sense that a broken coffeemaker, an atheist uncle, or even a Satanist could FUNCTION in individual cases as such a stepping stone, simply because of God's providential guidance, not in and of themselves, and certainly not because they are means (to salvation). I say even a Satanist, because a man might meet a Satanist, be totally appalled at him, start to investigate the occult, realize that there must be a good God, and eventually become Catholic. Who knows, perhaps Vatican III will say that Satanists have not been deprived of significance in the mystery of salvation? It is very important we use the right distinctions here, between essence and incidence, between means and stepping stones, between being and function.

R. Sungenis: That's right, Mario, it is very important that we use the right distinctions, but that is rather difficult in your black and white theology. Yes, in one sense, Protestantism is a "false religion," but then again, so is your sedevacantism, and so is the religion of the Athenians in Acts 17. In fact, even those who practice Catholicism today have, in part, a false religion, because so many Catholics are following things that are not true Catholicism. There is error and falsehood in everything on earth, and the only thing we know for sure that doesn't have falsehood is Jesus Christ and infallible Catholic dogma. But even though there is falsehood in each of them, each of them also has a measure of truth, and whatever truth they have can be used as a means to salvation.

Mario: But let me get a straight yes/no answer from you on this: is your official position that Vatican II's "Unitatis Redintegratio" teaches that the Spirit of Christ not having refrained from using "separated churches and communities" as means of salvation really means that he has not refrained from using them as stepping stones to the Catholic Church? I would be stunned, absolutely stunned, to find any official Novus Ordo document interpreting this teaching of Vatican II in this way. If you could provide me with one, that would be even better.

R. Sungenis: UR does a very good job itself. Let's take a look at it.

UR: Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

R. Sungenis: Here UR recognizes that those who, for example, have the Bible and read it, have a gift from God that should lead to Christ, even though this gift belongs to the Catholic Church. This is a "means" of salvation.

UR: The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

R. Sungenis: What the Protestant possesses gives him "access to the community of salvation." That "community" will be explained below.

UR:: It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

R. Sungenis: "Means of salvation" is the same thing as "access to the community of salvation." UR does not say that the non-Catholic religions, in themselves, have the power to provide salvation, but that the partial truth these religions have from the Catholic Church gives them access to salvation.

If, for example, a person is baptized outside the Catholic Church, and the baptism is done properly and with the intention of salvation, that baptism is effectual and thus saves the person, even though that person is not a formal member of the Catholic Church. The reason is that baptism outside the Catholic Church, as UR says above, "derives its efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the [Catholic] Church."

That is why UR also says: "But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body, and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church."

What happens after their baptism when they are confronted with the fact that the Catholic Church is the only true Church and the only means by which one can preserve his salvation, and of which the non-Catholic is now not ignorant, is another issue. UR partially addresses this issue in the next paragraph:

UR: Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as Communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those who through Him were born again into one body, and with Him quickened to newness of life-that unity which the Holy Scriptures and the ancient Tradition of the Church proclaim. For it is only through Christ's Catholic Church, which is 'the all-embracing means of salvation,' that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God. This people of God, though still in its members liable to sin, is ever growing in Christ during its pilgrimage on earth, and is guided by God's gentle wisdom, according to His hidden designs, until it shall happily arrive at the fullness of eternal glory in the heavenly Jerusalem.

R. Sungenis: In this way, UR abides with the traditional teaching of the Church, since it is making it clear that membership in the Catholic Church is the ultimate means of salvation, and the only guarantee one has of salvation. So, while the partial truth a false religion possesses (courtesy of the truth it obtained from the Catholic Church), can be used as a "means" of salvation (e.g., baptism outside the confines of a Catholic Church), this does not mean that the false religion is providing the salvation; rather, it is only providing the baptism of the Catholic Church, although it is being practiced in the false religion. UR both recognizes the false religions' error and disunity from the Catholic Church, but also, because, as crumbs drop from the table, they have picked up the sacrament of baptism, UR also recognizes that these false religions become a "means" of salvation by using Catholic gifts.


Question 132RE- What Does Vatican II mean by "Means of Salvation"?

Bob, you are not honestly now trying to tell your web visitors that Vatican II meant to say that Protestant religions are used by God to make people Catholics, are you? If that's what you're saying, I'd like one shred of evidence in context, from Vatican II or Paul VI, that would warrant that conclusion. Like you, I need arguments, not just ipse dixits.

R. Sungenis: God can use anything he wishes to put someone on the road to salvation. With the Athenians in Acts 17, it was the statue to the Unknown God, which prompted St. Paul to say they were "very religious in all respects" (Acts 17:22). He then used their religiousity to lead them to the truth about Christianity. In that sense, their religiousity and the statue were a means to an end, the end being their conversion to the Catholic Church. Obviously, if God can use their religiosity and their pagan statue as a springboard to accepting Christianity, Protestantism can surely be used for the same purpose.

Cornelius is another example. He was a "devout man" and "feared God" and "gave alms." God saw his religious fervor and love and then rewarded him with the Christian gospel, which Peter brought to him. Lumen Gentium uses both these examples as that which the Church should follow.

The Council of Trent also spoke about the same principle. God uses various means to bring people the knowledge of Himself. Whatever brings them closer to salvation, is a means of salvation. It doesn't mean that they will actually be saved no more than a Catholic is guaranteed salvation.

Chapter 5.
On the Necessity of Preparation for Justification of Adults, and Whence it Proceeds

It furthermore declares that in adults the beginning of that justification must be derived from the predisposing grace [Canon 3] of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from his vocation, whereby without any existing merits on their part they are called, so that they who by sin were turned away from God, through His stimulating and assisting grace are disposed to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and cooperating with the same grace [Canons 4 and 5], in such wise that , while God touches the heart of man through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself receiving that inspiration does nothing at all inasmuch as he can indeed reject it, nor on the other hand can he of his own free will without the grace of God move himself to justice before Him. Hence, when it is said in the Sacred Writings: ‘Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you,’ we are reminded of our liberty; when we reply: ‘Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted,’ we confess that we are anticipated by the grace of God.

Chapter 6
The Manner of Preparation

Now they are disposed to that justice [Canon 7 and 9] when, aroused and assisted by divine grace, receiving faith ‘by hearing,’ they are freely moved toward God, believing that to be true which has been divinely revealed and promised [Canon 12 and 14], and this especially, that the sinner is justified by God through his grace, ‘through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,’ and when knowing that they are sinners, turning themselves away from the fear of divine justice, by which they are profitably aroused [Canon 8], to a consideration of the mercy of God, they are raised to hope, trusting that God will be merciful to them for the sake of Christ, and they begin to love him as the source of all justice and are therefore moved against sins by a certain hatred and detestation [Canon 9], that is, by that repentance, which must be performed before baptism; and finally when they resolves to receive baptism, to begin a new life and to keep the commandments of God. Concerning this disposition it is written: ‘He that cometh to God must believe, that he is and is a rewarder to them that seek him,’ and, ‘Be of good faith, son, they sins are forgiven thee,’ and, ‘The fear of the Lord driveth out sin’ [Eccl 1:27], and, ‘Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the Holy Spirit,’ and, ‘Going therefore teach al nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and finally, ‘Prepare your hearts unto the Lord’ [1 Kings 7:3].

These things happen in and out of the Catholic Church, and thus they are a "means" or a prepartion to salvation. Their salvation, however, only comes under the auspices of the Catholic Church.


Question 131The Consecration: All versus Many


Can you help me please? During the Consecration in the Latin Mass the words "for many "is used when the chalice is lifted. In the new mass the words "for all" is used. The Bible uses for many. I'm sure you've answered this question before but I couldn't find it anywhere in your site.

Thank-you for your time.

Linda Ontiveros

Please know that I will be sending a donation. God Bless all of you for your great work!!!

R. Sungenis: Linda, although the new mass rubrics use "all" instead of "many," both Scripturally and contextually, there is no difference between the two, at least in regards to the Atonement and its general application to the whole world. As such, the Bible interchanges their use quite frequently, so no one can make a hard and fast rule against it.

Moreover, this is an undefined area of Church dogmatics. Until if and when the Church makes an official pronouncement that "all" cannot be used, then those who decry it have only their opinion as a basis. The closest the Church has come is a statement in the catechism of Trent stating that "many" should be used, not "all," but that is not the source for the official dogma of the Church. The Council of Trent did not address the issue, so those who included it in Trent's catechism went beyond what the council stated.

Paul VI, although I have little admiration for him, was a legitiamte pope, and thus, what he decrees for the Church is what the Church must bind or loose. He allowed the use of "all" for "many" in that particular instance, and that is what we must accept. The only way to deny this, legitimately, is to prove that Paul VI was not a legitimate pope, but that would be impossible for us lay people to do.


Question 130What did Adam have to avoid sin, and what did he lose?


I believe Original Sin is one of the doctrines of the bible that can be empirically verified. Just witness the 20th Century and man's inhumanity to man. Or to bring it up to date witness "Catholics for a Free Choice." (Ok, I'll try to behave). But here is the question: Where in the bible is it explicably stated that something was ADDED to the PERFECT MAN ADAM. I know Catholic theologians (I use the term loosely) state that grace was added to Adam, but I have never understood that. If Adam was a perfect human being, without sin, then why did he need ANYTHING ADDED TO HIM? After the fall I can understand it. We can't even function without grace. But BEFORE he fell!!!

Don Fahrenkrug
Pueblo, Colorado

R. Sungenis: Don, the Council of Trent (Denzinger 788 and 192) state that when Adam sinned he lost his sanctifying grace God had originally given to him. The Church also pronouned as heresy those who disagreed with this position (Denzinger 1021-1026, 1385, 1516).

Scripturally, we know this because Rom 5:12-2 and many other passages tell us that Christ restored what Adam lost. Since Christ is restoring sanctifying grace, then this means Adam had sanctifying grace in his pre-fallen state. The Fathers of the Church also agree with this position, as did Aquinas. The only question remaining was whether Adam was at first given Actual grace so that he could attain Sanctifying grace. This question was not answered by Trent.


Question 129Can the Pope be a Mason?

Mr. Sungenis:

I have several of your books and have a question for you:

Could a valid Pope ever BECOME a Mason or even a Satanist? AND, could a Pope who was a Mason or a Satanist ever be validly elected as Pope?

Of course, I am not insinuating such of our current pope - this is more of a philosophical/theological question to answer the bigger question of how far a pope could go before he would not be a valid or validly elected pope.

Thank you in advance for your time and answer.

Debbie Walters

R. Sungenis: Debbie, the answer to both question is yes, provided there is no divine intervention to prohibit either event. A pope may secretly be of a heretical position either before or during his pontificate. The pope has no more protection from sin than you or I or Adam and Eve. The only protection the pope has above you and me is when he makes infallible decrees for the Church on faith and morals, but those occasions are rare.

Now, as regards what we do about it, if the pope's (or even the pre-pope's) heresy is no longer a secret but becomes "manifest," that is, it has become public knowledge and the heresy is canonically indefensible, then the Church, as a whole, can move against the pope. This would be done at the highest levels of the Church heirarchy. The pope would be called to trial to determine if he was indeed a manifest heretic. If he was determined to be so, he would then be deposed and the cardinals would elect another pope.

Please help the apostolate of CAI by sending a donation so that we can continue to do God's work. CAI, POB 278, State Line, PA 17263.


Question 128Can non-Catholics receive Communion, ever?

Dimond Brothers: 3. Non-Catholics may lawfully receive Holy Communion (Orientalium ecclesiarum, 27).

R. Sungenis: No error here, because the stipulation, according to Canon Law, is only in cases of extremity (e.g., death).

Mario: That's false. Bob, I will challenge you on this if I have to. First of all, even at death this is not permissible, for it is intrinsically evil, and Communion cannot be administered conditionally for obvious reasons; but secondly, Canon Law makes clear that we're NOT just talking about cases of danger of death: "Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick to members of the eastern Churches not in full communion with the Catholic Church, if they spontaneously ask for them and are properly disposed. The same applies to members of other Churches which the Apostolic See judges to be in the same position as the aforesaid eastern Churches so far as the sacraments are concerned." (844.3) Now, I know this particular canon speaks of the Eastern Schismatics, but they too are non-Catholics. So, the Dimonds did not read anything "into" the text. This is one of the weakest spots of the New Church, and, I think, its Achilees Heel. Non non-Catholic may ever receive Catholic sacraments, danger of death or otherwise. Previously, if there was some doubt, absolution was administered CONDITIONALLY to a dying man who could not be properly judged to be a Catholic or non-Catholic. But certainly he could not have been administered Holy Communion, which cannot be given conditionally. The New Law is in itself harmful and evil.

R. Sungenis: Unfortunately, Mario, you are not the Magisterium. You are just a man with an opinion. In addition, you are a sedevacantist that has separated himself from the Church. Canon Law is our authority, and until if and when a pope decided to change it, that is what we go by. Understood?


Question 127What Does Vatican II mean by "Means of Salvation"?

AHHH!!! Bob, we have a Catholic DOGMA that has already told us what God does and doesn't use. The dogma is: "There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church." This means that God does NOT use ANY OTHER MEANS of salvation than the Catholic Church.

R. Sungenis: No it doesn't mean that. "Means" is undefined in the V2 document, so I suggest you stop trying to define it for us. "Means" has nothing to do with EENS ("there is no salvation outside the Church"). In the context of Vatican II, "means" refers only to what God uses to bring someone to the point of converting to the Catholic Church. God can use a tree, a mouse, the stars in the sky, or even a Protestant who talks about Jesus being our savior.

Msgr. Fenton warned: "[s]ome writers [try] to restrict the meaning of the Church's necessity for salvation to the fact that the gifts of grace whereby a man actually achieves salvation really belong to the Church" (Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation, p. 127).

R. Sungenis: Msgr Fenton is not our authority, and neither are you.

Bob, this is crazy. There is only one means of salvation, one ark of salvation, and that is the Catholic Church, and any denial of this is heresy. You're really dismissing this very easily and sloppily and not doing justice to the gravity of the facts and the argument.

R. Sungenis: I suggest you stop basing your argument on the word "means," since your myopic definition of it and application of it is getting you all tangled in knots. "Means" does not mean "Results" or "end product," or anything of the sort. Your insistence on an unsubstantiated definition of the word is certainly not supported by Church dogmatics. EENS yes. That is Church dogma. Your definition of "means" is not.


Question 126Your Dialogue with E.W. Bullinger


I have visited your website from time to time over the past few years, and I have written to you when I find one of your pieces worth commenting on. The “dialogue” with E.W. Bullinger is such a piece.

Once again, you’ve shown how solid Catholic dogma is. It’s as though you’re the stern, thorough teacher dealing with high-school kids. They submit their essays to you, and you grade (i.e. correct) their arguments as a competent teacher would. Unfortunately, these are grown men out in the world influencing people.

This adds an element of fascination for me, and that is, how human beings cope with truth. Mr. Bullinger was obviously very intelligent, and I would assume very honest and of good character. However, he was seduced by the evil one into believing utter rubbish. If he had the intellectual courage to really examine the Catholic arguments, he would easily convert. But why isn’t this the case? Why do otherwise intelligent men fail to discover the truth, and instead use their intelligence to come to wrong conclusions? The very tools we as people use to discover truth leads them to false conclusions. Observing this about people is fascinating.

As it is in any age, truth is very hard to find, and is therefore of great value.

Thanks for your ministry.

P.S. When is your book challenging Galileo coming out?

Greg Theisen

R. Sungenis: Greg, thanks for the commendation! That's what we're here for. I'm glad you appreciate it. It help keeps us going.

As for getting to the truth. There are two things that help a man, and two things that retard him. Intelligence and logic help him; pride and prejudice retard him. Bullinger was brought up to hate the Catholic Church, and, whether he likes it or not, that will steer every interpretation of Scripture he lays his hand on. There is no way to avoid it. Only a cataclysmic event in someone's life is enough to jar them loose from that inevitability. Few of us have those events, unfortunately.

Please help the apostolate of CAI by sending a donation so that this ministry can continue to do God's work.

Robert Sungenis


Question 125Mortalium Animos, the Syllabus of Errors, and Vatican II

Hi Robert,

Did Vatican II retract anything Pius XI taught in Mortalium or that Pius IX taught in the Syllabus of Errors? I'm thinking especially about the Syllabus's errors about indifferentism. Thanks.

God bless,

R. Sungenis: Bill, unless Vatican specifically states that it is retracting something from some official Catholic statement, then it is not retracting anything. Vatican II made a practice of harmonizing its perspective with that of tradition, and it is our job to bring out this harmony by interpreting Vatican II in the light of tradition. Dignitatis Humanae does a very good job of this. In the first paragraphs it assures us that it is abiding by the tradition, but then it touches upon aspects of the subject that tradition either did not address or was not crystal clear. We grant that Vatican II was ambiguous in various places, but it is our job to fill in those ambiguities with the doctrines of tradition.

Still, if there is anything in Mortalium Animos or the Syllabus of Errors that you think is contradicted by Vatican II, please share them with me and I will be happy to sort it out for you.

God be with you.


Question 124Benedict XVI and the Jews

Contrasting once again with the words of one of his predecessors, a chap named Saint Peter from Capernaum, on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI went to a synagogue in Cologne, Germany, yesterday, August 19, 2005, and not once spoke of the necessity of Jews to convert to the Catholic Faith in order to avoid eternal damnation. Once again, just as the Pope did not deny that the Catholic Church was the true Church to the Protestants he spoke to yesterday, he did not deny the Sacred Divinity of the God-Man to the Jews in the Cologne synagogue. He did not proclaim it either, which is a serious sin of omission that is in direct contrast to the work of the Apostles themselves, whose Apostolic college he now heads.

Bob I would like to know in your opinion is what the pope did and did not say a "sin of omission" as Dr Droleskey says? I mean is this what we can expect from the pope? Is this how catholics are to spread the FAITH to the world the way the new pope does by not ever even mentioning the need to become catholics to save their souls? How can the pope look at himself in the mirror when this is how he does his duty? When will Our Lord say enough is enough and give us someone who is not afraid of the world and will just preach and teach the HOLY CATHOLIC FAITH?

R. Sungenis: I respect Dr. Drolesky and his writings. However, I believe he often goes too far to the extreme to make his case. The above is one example. If in the entire pontificate of Benedict XVI he never tells the Jews that they need to convert to Christianity for salvation, then yes, Drolesky point stands, and rightly so. But to judge the pope on one meeting is simply inappropriate. He just became pope a few months ago. The purpose of his meeting with the Jews was to show friendship and to dispell waves of antagonism that have been brewing between the Vatican and the Jews the last few months. Hopefully, Benedict will follow this up with either further meetings that speak of their need to convert, or he writes an apostolic letter or encyclical reinforcing the Church's traditional teaching on this issue. If he doesn't, and actually says the Jews don't need to convert, then Drolesky is a prophet and I'm his servant. But until that time, I reserve my opinion, and I think Drolesky should, too.


Question 123Romans 5:12, Part 2

What do you mean by the "curse of Adam's sin"? Does this mean all are born guilty of Adam's sin? This isn't Catholic, but Calvinist teachings. If by "curse of Adam's sin" you mean the fallen condition in which mankind finds itself, then this is indeed Catholic teaching. Paul says that death passed unto all men, not guilt of sin. Paul is saying we are born into the kingdom of death, not that we are born in guilt. Do you agree?

And can you provide scriptural and ECF support for the notion that Adam was the representative of the whole human race. Genesis seems silent on this.

Thank you.

R. Sungenis: The "curse of Adam's sin" is spelled out in Romans 5:12. We inherit the curse of "death and sin." That is, our soul is dead because it lacks sanctifying grace, and we are implicated in Adam's sin, which is called Original Sin.

As for "guilt," yes, we inherit the guilt of Adam's sin. That is why we need to be baptized -- in order to take away Original Sin and free us from the punishment attached to that sin, which is eternal damnation. If we had no guilt then we would not be facing any punishment for the sin.

This is Catholic teaching, regardless whether Calvin adopted bits and pieces of it himself. The difference between the Catholic view and the Calvinist view is that Calvin said that after Adam's sin man was "totally depraved," that is, he had absolutely no grace from which to seek God. The Catholic view says that after Adam sinnned he had a residual grace (actual grace) which allowed him to seek for God, and thus he was not "totally depraved."

As for Adam being our representative, it is rather clear in Romans 5:15-21 that both Adam and Christ were our representatives.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.
17 If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
18 Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As for the Catechism's teaching, I suggest you read paragraphs 402-409. They say the same thing I have said above.


Question 122Douay Bible Question

Mr Sungenis,

Can you please outline for me the 'history' of the Douay Bible and why it is a better translation than the others. I have been engaged in 'arguments' with Judaist and Presbytarians coleagues who keep citing the origins of their referrences and, therefore, the authority of their views as being either more accurate or closer to the original texts, both in timeline (older) and accuracy (Hebrew or Greek)

For the record, it's refreshing to find a Catholic who is not so PC these days, and just cuts to the 'bones' of any argument. Whilst some of your assertions causes involuntary sharp inhale of breath, when examined closely, they not only make sense, but add logic to some of the 'gaps' that have been so prevalent in Christian interpretations.

Keep up the good work and God Bless.

Regards and Thank you in advance.

R. Sungenis: Marty, scholars who look askance at the Douay-Rheims, or even the King James Bible, are doing so based mainly on the fact that several Greek manuscripts were discovered after the DR and KJV were published. Since these manuscripts, which were purported to be older Greek manuscripts, differered a little from those used by the DR and KJV, there was a rush to create a new Greek text around the late 1800s.

Second, since the DR and KJV used the difficult Elizabethean English, and did not have some of the archeological evidence that allows us to know some of the more obscure words in Hebrew, newer translations seemed to have solved both those problems.

But these "solutions" did not necessarily provide us with a better Bible. First, it was later found that the newly discovered Greek texts were not better than the previous manuscripts. The new manuscripts (largely Codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Alexandrinus) differed greatly amongst themselves and thus could not be relied upon to give us the true text.

It was also found that the Papyri evidence, which dated from the 2nd to 4th centuries, was not only older than Codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Alexandrinus, but agreed more with the Greek texts from the Middle Ages used by the DR and the KJV.

Second, departing from Elizabethean English is one thing, but what really happened is that the newer translations began to take liberties with the Greek and Hebrew texts that would have been considered anathema for a DR or KJV translator. This happened because a new theory of biblical inspiration was being taught (God inspired the author, not the words), and a new translation method (sentence by sentence instead of word by word) was being developed. This had a great effect on what finally came out in the translation. In some cases the new methodology made things clearer (and this is why some scholars downplay the DR), but the greater reality is that in many cases it made things more confusing, and often the translation departed from traditional doctrine.

All in all, the DR still remains one of our best translations, not only because the Greek texts it used (based on Jerome's Latin Vulgate) were most likely superior to the new Greek manuscripts found in the 1800s, but also because the DR translates word-for-word. Although sometimes a word-for-word translation either sounds stilted or may not get across the exact meaning of the Greek, still, in the main, a word-for-word translation is the most faithful means of translating a given text. If there are any issues remaining, the translator can always include a footnote in the text rather than changing the biblical text itself.


Question 121Sola Scriptura & James White, Part 3

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your response. I am a bit confused. Your response seems to indicate that the Jews did have a ”fixed” canon. However, didn’t the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes hold to a different canon?

1) If there wasn’t a fixed canon, then it seems there was disagreement on to what Scripture was for the Jews. If this is so, then how could Jesus hold his hearers accountable for knowing what Scripture was (i.e. “have you not read…”) if there wasn't a fixed canon?

R. Sungenis: By the time of the 1st century AD there was a lot of confusion because Israel was being forsaken by God, which demise would come within a few years of Jesus' dealings with the Jews. But during Israel's prior history there was very little confusion about the contents of the canon.

Jesus dealt with the confusion in the first century AD. When he was dealing with the Sadducees, he would only quote from the Pentateuch, since they consided only the Pentateuch as having divine authority.

In fact, the passage where "have you not read" is stated (Mt 22:31), Jesus is dealing with the Sadducees, and thus, instead of quoting from a passage such as Dan 12:1 to prove the resurrection, Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6, since the Saducees would not have accepted Daniel.

When dealing with the Pharisees, he would quote from the prophets and the Psalms, since the Pharisees accepted them in addition to the Pentateuch. Thus, in the same chapter when he is challenged by the Pharisees, Jesus quotes from the Psalms to prove that he existed before David (Mt 22:42-45), since the Pharisees accepted the Psalms, whereas the Sadducees did not.

2) If the canon was fixed for the Jews then your comments regarding the Urim and Thummim or ephod, prophets and dreams would apply. However, you also stated if a dispute ever arose among the Jews, the priests and prophets could have consulted any of the above divine mediums to get an infallible answer. If this is true then how come they didn’t consult these divine mediums to settle disputes such as the one regarding the resurrection between the Pharisees and Sadducees?

Thanks again for your excellent work. I will be praying for your and your ministry.

God bless,

R. Sungenis: Because there was no Urim and Thummim in use during the time of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The priesthood was all but defunct, and the Pharisees had taken control of what was left of Israel by force, not by divine right. They had no legitimate power, and they certainly were not receiving any divine information from God, least of all information to settle to contents of the Jewish canon.

The point of my previous answer was that, if the priests in Israel's history needed to confirm the contents of the Jewish canon as it was being given by God, they could have easily inquired of God and he would have given them an infallible answer. In other words, it is fallacious for James White to argue that the Jews had no access to infallible decisions from God for the canon.

Moreover, the Jews would only need to have an infallible decision if there arose a controversy about the contents of the canon, but there was no such controversy in Israel's history. Everyone accepted the canon on the authority of the priest and prophet. The same was true in the Church age. Everyone accepted the canon on the authority of the pope (Council of Rome 380 AD, et al).

The only time a controversy arose was when the Alexandrian Jews were producing the LXX, and the Pharisees and Sadducees were arguing in the first century AD. But by this time, Israel's demise was very close, and thus the decision on the LXX would be left to the Church in the following years.

When a later controversy arose in the Church (e.g., when Luther and Cajetan were questioning the canonicity of some of the LXX), the Church called on its gift of infallibility to settle the issue once and for all, which was done for the first time at the Council of Trent in 1563.

We need to understand that infallibility is invoked when there is a controversy in the Church that cannot be settled in any other manner. Prior to an infallible decision, the Church uses its normal authority to teach its people. The people, having already given their allegiance to the Church, accept what the Church teaches based on the authority of the Church. Thus, if the Church says in 380 under Pope Damascene and in 405 AD under Pope Innocent that the contents of the Bibilcal Canon consists of 73 books of the Old and New Testaments, the people accept it because they accept the Church's authority to make such decisions. Such decisions are certainly not left to the people themselves, especially people like James White.

If there is a question remaining, the Church will deal with it. If it cannot be resolved, the Church will invoke the gift of infallibility and thus settle the matter once and for all, which occurred at the Council of Trent.


Question 120Rick Warren

Mr. Sungenis,

Listening to a radio program called Cross Talk about New Age infiltration relating to Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life) and Ken Blanchard (motivational speaker) sent me to the internet. There was a letter from Warren in response to this accusation of New Age embracing and then a response from the After reading I do think Evangelical leaders (it seems) are beginning to embrace contemplation but It seems to have the eastern religion twist according to this "watch group". If what this group is saying is correct, why do you think some of these Evangelicals are going into some sort of mysticism and contemplation including some Buddism if they really are? Have you been watching this?

I came upon this site link at the top of the email after some linking and this article on mysticism is troubling. The ecstasies of Teresa of Avila I have to say are a little hard to swallow and kind of frightening.

I haven't had much problem with Purpose Driven Life and 40 Days of Purpose because it's been around a while -it's called Lent. However I do feel a concern if Catholic mysticism is reinvented in the Evangelical World how weird it could get.

Thanks for your insight,

B. Douglass: LS, Robert has delegated some of the Q&A workload to me, due to time constraints.

for why evangelicals are attracted to contemplation, my best guess is that they desire the tranquility enjoyed by Catholic contemplatives. As for why they might want to incorporate elements from Buddhism: Matthew 12:30b; 2 Timothy 4:3. This is what happens when one rejects the authority of Christ's Church.

One doesn't have an authority guided by the Holy Spirit to steer one clear of such errors.

The article on mysticism should not trouble you. First, while some mystics may embrace the idea of the "inner light", the "god within" this idea has never been recognized as orthodox Catholicism, as attested to by the lengthy quote from G. K. Chesterton. Catholic mysticism is very much founded on belief in a transcendent creator God who is wholly distinct from His creatures. Second, the article's claim that no mystics give any real prominence to the atoning death of Jesus Christ is soundly refuted by the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Sienna, among many other Catholic mystical works. Third, I'm sure the ecstasies of St. Teresa of Avila make perfect sense in context.

In general you should avoid Protestant literature, unless you have a compelling reason to read it. There's a reason the pre-conciliar Church had an index of forbidden books. Were the Church ever to restore this safeguard, The Berean Beacon could very well top an index of forbidden magazines.

Ben Douglass


Question 119Calvinism

Greetings Mr. Sungenis (or Mr. Douglass),

Recently I have been in a bit of a dispute with a Catholic that claims Calvin's total depravity doctrine is reconcilable with Catholicism. According to him, total depravity teaches that man is not capable of doing supernatural acts of charity toward God without the aid of grace and that this is the Catholic doctrine. That is not how I understand total depravity. I was under the impression that Calvin went much further than this and taught that the natural goodness within man is totally (or nearly) destroyed and that man can do no good whatsoever (thus the necessity of unconditional election and irresistable grace).

Furthermore, he claims that Jimmy Akin is saying the same thing.


By chance, would anyone, possibly, instead of merely offering our own "expert" opinions regarding this, be interested in what a Catholic apologist, with considerably more knowledge than any of us possesses, has to say on this topic, and how Calvin's "Total depravity" can indeed be reconciled with Catholic teaching? Or would we all simply rather offer our own "expert" opinions?

Jimmy Akin, a leading Catholic apologist and someone who, I would venture to say, is more learned and more knowledgeable than any of us, demonstrates that this teaching of Calvin, properly understood, and Catholic teaching, properly understood, can actually be harmonized:

Total depravity

Despite its name, the doctrine of total depravity does not mean men are always and only sinful. Calvinists do not think we are as sinful as we possibly could be. They claim our free will has been injured by original sin to the point that, unless God gives us special grace, we cannot free ourselves from sin and choose to serve God in love. We might choose to serve him out of fear, but not out of unselfish love [9].

What would a Catholic think of this teaching? While he would not use the term "total depravity" to describe the doctrine [10], he would actually agree with it. The accepted Catholic teaching is that, because of the fall of Adam, man cannot do anything out of supernatural love unless God gives him special grace to do so [11]. Thomas Aquinas declared that special grace is necessary for man to do any supernaturally good act, to love God, to fulfill God's commandments, to gain eternal life, to prepare for salvation, to rise from sin, to avoid sin, and to persevere [12].

(Excerpted from this article)


Can you help straighten us out here? What did Calvin actually teach and could you direct me to some statements by Calvin himself on the topic? What magisterial documents address the issue?

Thank you and God bless,

B. Douglass: Ryan, Jimmy Akin should know better than to teach this. The Calvinist and Catholic doctrines of original sin are wholly irreconcilable. "Original sin does not consist, as the Reformers, the Baians, and the Jansenists taught, in: 'The habitual concupiscence, which remains, even in the baptised, a true and proper sin, but is no longer reckoned for punishment'" (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 110). Concupiscence is not sinful in and of itself; original sin consists in the privation of sanctifying grace.

Calvin taught that man took on a depraved nature after the fall. This too is false. After the fall man is deprived of sanctifying grace and the pretenatural gifts, but the soul created by God is still, in its nature, good.

In the Calvinist view, unregenerate man can do things that are good for society, but nothing spiritually good and pleasing to God. In the Catholic view, unregenerate man can perform naturally good works and even supernaturally good works under the operation of actual grace.

The most relevant magisterial document will be the Council of Trent's decree on original sin.

Concerning total depravity Calvin declared the following:

"It is said that the will of the natural man is subject to the devil’s power and is stirred up by it. This does not mean that, like unwilling slaves rightly compelled by their masters to obey, our will, although reluctant and resisting, is constrained to take orders from the devil. It means rather that the will, captivated by Satan’s wiles, of necessity obediently submits to all his leading" (Institutes, Vol. 2, Book 2).

Ben Douglass


Question 118Sola Scriptura & James White, part 2

Dear Robert,

Thank you for the response. However, I think that I might not have been clear on the question. Please allow me to rephrase it a bit:

As Catholics, don't we argue that we need the Tradition/infallible Magesterium to tell us what the scriptures are? Then, when Jesus is stating "have you not read..", isn't He assuming that the people He is addressing know what the scriptures are? If this is so, then how did people in Jesus' time know what the scriptures were without an infallible Magesterium?

I believe Mr. White is using this type of question to demonstrate that if God's people in the Old Testament did not have a Magesterium to tell them what scripture was why do God's people in the New Testament need a Magesterium to decide to tell them what it is now?

I have been trying to answer this argument to fully refute my Protestant friends questions on Sola Scriptura so I appreciate your help.

God bless,

R. Sungenis: The Jews had access to infallible decisions from God whenever they needed it. The Urim and Thummim or ephod was means this was accomplished (Ex 28:30; Nm 27:21; Ezra 2:63; Sirach 33:3; 45:10) in addition to prophets and dreams (1Sm 28:6). The fact is, however, that the Jews accepted their canon on the basis of the authority of Moses and the prophets who said they were in direct communication with God. Since there was no on in Israel who was disputing the contents of their canon, they didn't need a council (like the Council of Trent), to decide the issue. Unlike the Protestant protestors today who dispute the contents of the canon, the Jews accepted the word of the priest and prophet regarding the canon. If a dispute had ever arose among the Jews, the priests and prophets could have consulted any of the above divine mediums to get an infallible answer.


Question 117Geocentrism

Hello friend,

My name is David Senti, and I am a Catholic. First of all, it is my understanding that the condemnation of Galileo was on account of his statements against the infallibility of the Scripture, and not for Heliocentrism.

R. Sungenis: David, the condemnations were for both. In regards to Scripture, Galileo was condemned for ignoring the consensus of the Fathers on the interpretation of Scripture, and for proposing an alternate cosmology as proven in the face of the fact that it had not been proven. The Church would have been willing to accept heliocentrism as a hypothesis of science, but not as a proven scientific fact. When Galileo crossed the line, he was rightly condemned.

David: I have done quite a bit of research, and have never heard a declaration of the magisterium which states that it is heretical or sinful to believe in a Heliocentric solar system; however, if there is a declaration of a council or the Papacy to the contrary, I submit in advance to the teaching of the Church.

R. Sungenis: The church has never said it was “sinful.” That would only be the case if the Church had made geocentrism defined dogma that had to be held definitively in order to be saved. As for “heretical,” that was the original wording used in the 1615 report by the seven cardinals who were assigned to examine the case of Galileo. But the word “heretical” was not included in the final decree authorized by Pius V. What was finally decreed was the letter written by Bellarmine, and approved by the pope, which said:

“…the declaration made by His Holiness and published by the Sacred Congregation of the Index, in which it is stated that the doctrine attributed to Copernicus – that the earth moves around the sun and that the sun stands in the center of the world without moving from the east to the west, is contrary to the Holy Scriptures and therefore cannot be defended nor held." (May 26, 1616).

David: Secondly, the unanimous opinions of the Church Fathers does indeed grant validity to anything you believe; however, it is also most likely that they believed in bodily health consisting of a balance of the humours, which is patently untrue.

R. Sungenis: True, but Scripture does not teach that the body is made of balanced humours. We are only interested in the interpretations of Scripture that the Fathers insist must be interpreted in the normal literal sense. That is why we believe in the Eucharist, for example, since the Fathers insisted that we interpret Scripture’s language, “This is my body,” as referring to Christ’s literal body, not a symbol of his body.

David: The Church Fathers were not infallible in matters of worldly and scientific understanding. Indeed, they believed that in the geocentric universe the heavenly spheres were perfect and of a matter altogether different than the material of which earth is composed.

R. Sungenis: The composition of the heavenly bodies is not at issue. If it was, then even modern science fails, since they simply are not sure what composes the stars or how they emit energy. There are two competing theories: nuclear fusion within the star and electric plasma outside of the star. What is at issue is: what moves and what does not move. Scripture says the sun moves and the earth stays still. Not having any evidence to the contrary (and we still don’t have any evidential proof to the contrary today) the Fathers insisted that this language by interpreted literally, just as the rest of Scripture. The only contingency allowed, as that stated by Bellarmine, is, if science could prove indisputably that the earth went around the sun, the Church would then revise her understanding of these particular Scriptures. And this is precisely what the Geocentric Challenge we offer is all about: prove heliocentrism, don’t assume it to be true. If you can’t prove it, then you are required to adopt geocentrism (based on a face value reading of Scripture and the consensus of the Fathers), and consider heliocentrism merely a hypothesis.

David: However, I have never read anything from any Church Father, nor heard it claimed, that this was a matter concerning the Faith, but only the most current theories; I have in fact never heard them speak of it in a manner other than conjecturally at all, and they certainly did not require the faithful to submit to the opinion to my best knowledge.

R. Sungenis: The Fathers did not make Church dogma. They only interpreted Scripture and submitted to the Church what they understood as the proper way to interpret Scripture. In the case of geocentrism, they all held to it as the proper interpretation of Scripture, even against the Greek heliocentrists. Since there was no controversy about their concensus, there was no need of a Church decree. Only when a controversy arose (as in the case of Galileo) did the Church then have to take a definitive stand. This happened in 1616, and again in 1633 under Urban VIII and again in 1664 under Alexander VII. To date, no pope or council has officially reversed what these popes and their sacred congregations have stated about cosmology.

David: In fact the Church Fathers did not even agree that Creation took place in seven literal days, since Augustine believed this to be a division of comprehension by the angels; of course, it is unnacceptable to believe that it happened by evolutionary or natural processes, but it does make a point.

R. Sungenis: I beg to differ. All the Church Fathers who spoke on Creation believed that it occurred in six days. The only exceptions were Augustine (who believed that it all happened in one day; not in evolution) and Origen (who allegorized the whole account).

David: Finally, it is not a false interpretation of Scripture, or even non-literal, to say that the language used in the Scripture was for common comprehension and usage, just as we say the 'sun sets' in the evening or 'rises' in the morning. This is along the same lines as many other Scriptural passages, and they are no less true or literal. The sun DID stop in the sky for Joshua, because it wasnt moving through the sky. The passage isnt meant to explain HOW God did this, which He easily could have done as either a local miracle of vision or simply by stopping the rotation of the Earth.

R. Sungenis: But you are begging the question, David. You can’t assume as proven the very thing you are trying to prove.

David: That being said, I believe the claims you make for requiring Geocentrism to be believed are unsound, since only matters declared by the Solemn and Ordinary Magisteriums are required to be believed, and it falls into neither to my understanding. However, I could easily be wrong, and would love to have the facts brought to my attention if the Pope ever declared definitively that Geocentrism is true.

R. Sungenis: Other than the 1616 declaration I stated above, there was the 1633 declaration by Pope Urban VIII against Galileo and Copernicanism, and of which Urban sent letters stating this fact to all the papal nuncios and universities of Europe. Then in 1664, Alexander VII attached a condemnation of Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus and anyone else who advocated the Copernican system to his papal bull, Speculatores Domus Israel. But there has never been a defined dogma on the issue.

David: Also, even if Newtonian physics don’t allow for Geocentrism by gravitational forces, that does not end the argument. The Earth could just as easily be the center of the entire space/time fabric, which is altogether immeasurable, and which many observations seem to support. For instance, the expanding universe theory is based on the dopplar effect showing that ALL distant objects in the universe are moving AWAY from Earth. They argue that it would appear as such from any perspective, but there is no proof of that and wont be for decades; moreover, even if it were measured from, say, Mars, the sheer distance of a galaxy from our solar system would make the difference of perspective negligible anyways, and also would prove nothing. The point is you dont need to fly in the face of all scientific observation to demonstrate at least the POSSIBILITY of Geocentrism's reality...regardless I would sooner throw out Newtonian physics than Church teaching, but I havent seen this to be Church teaching. Thank you for listening, I hope I have at least presented another possibility to you, and I hope you respond.
David Senti

R. Sungenis: David, I can assure you that Newtonian physics can explain geocentrism, that is, if the rest of the universe is included in the calculations. The Newtonian physics practiced today only deals with the local system, and therefore some falsely conclude it would not work. In our upcoming book, Galileo Was Wrong, we will spell all this out for you and everyone else.


Question 116Sola Scriptura & James White

Dear CAI,

How does one respond to the following arguments from James White regarding Sola Scriptura (I am paraphrasing the arguments):

1) Jesus held his contemporaries accountable for reading scripture (i.e. Jesus said several times "have you not read..."). This implies Jesus assumed His audience knew what scripture was.

2) Therefore, why do we need an infallible NT Church to tell us what scripture is if an infallible OT Church was not needed in biblical times?

3) I understand that certain books were known to be scripture because of the miracles and/or prophesies that were fulfilled by the prophets who wrote them. However, is this the case for each book in the OT?

God bless,
Antony Vandermoore

R. Sungenis: Antony, why do we need an infallible Church to give us the definitive understanding of Scripture?? Either James White is very naive or he likes imitating ostriches who hide their head in the sand. All one need do is look at the theological landscape White lives in amongst thousands and thousands of differing denominations who all base their respective beliefs on their particular interpretation of Scripture! It's hard enough in Catholicism to get to the truth of certain issues, let alone when we have absolutely no authority to give us the definitive truth on a certain Scripture verse. Unfortunately, James White continues to play the protesting game and thus has to resort to all kinds of absurd rationalizations (like the one above) in order to keep his ministry going. In fact, we've dealt extensively with the "have you not read" and the "you search the Scriptures" passages in Not By Scripture Alone, but White just ignores them.

In fact, Jesus is citing the Scripture because he is showing the Pharisees that two can play their game. If they cite Scripture to refute Jesus, Jesus will, in turn, cite Scriptures that they have ignored, and thus refute them. The lesson is: if you want to use Scripture as your authority, Jesus knows Scripture better than you, and can beat you at your own game. He did the same with the devil when the devil used Scripture to tempt Jesus (Matt 4:1-10). Jesus came back with other Scriptures to disprove the devil's interpretation. But does this mean that either Jesus or the devil believed in Sola Scriptura? Not a chance. Jesus appealed to whatever authority was necessary at the time (e.g., his miracles, his Father, the Holy Spirit, and also the Church - Mt 16:18-19). In fact, it was the Church who decided on the interpretation of Scripture right from the getgo, as Peter interpreted Psalm 108:9 to replace Judas in Acts 1:20, or in Acts 15:1-12 as he interpreted the OT's circumcision passages as not applicable in the NT. Moreover, St. Paul showed us in Acts 17 that as he sparred with the Thessalonians and the Bereans, he was the first to use Scripture, but he also was the first to say that HIS interpretation of it was superior to the Thessalonians and Bereans, thus showing that it is the Church who has the final say on Scripture.


Question 115Fr. Most's theology on salvation

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I'm one chapter away from finishing your book How Can I Get To Heaven -- I've thoroughly enjoyed it and feel that I've learned a great deal about the Bible's and Catholic Church's teaching (their being one in the same, of course) regarding justification, predestination, etc. Thank you for your hard work.

I find myself in disagreement with some of the positions you take and champion these days, but I am truly appreciative of your excellent works of Catholic apologetics. I own all three "Not By . . ." books, your CASB commentary on Matthew, and the "Heaven" book. I look forward to reading all of them, and others that you publish in the future.

Regarding predestination, I'm wondering if you have you read the late Fr. William Most's work: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions

If so, what did you think? What do you think of Fr. Most's work in general?

R. Sungenis: Michael, Fr. Most was a very good conservative theologian. I especially was appreciative of his work on biblical inerrancy. He was vilified in the Catholic liberal circles for his tireless work in this important area. But regarding his work on soteriology, just before he died, Fr. Most and I were in some heated battles by letter. We probably exchanged about half a dozen letters, but then he died suddenly (I hope it wasn't because of me!). I took exception to his view of grace. He was teaching a sort of "negative acceptance" of God in an effort to protect us from exercising free will beyond God's will. It turned out that he was saying that "if we don't refuse, then we are accepting," but he wouldn't allow us to directly accept God because he thought that would infringe on God's will and make our salvation a matter of works. I told him the Church never taught such a thing, and neither did Scripture. Our wills work in accord with God's will, and our positive acceptance of him is never considered an infringment upon God's will nor a work of debt or a work outside of grace. I also told him that the Council of Trent was against his novel approach, especially in Chapters 4-5 in Session 6 regarding prevenient grace and man's free will.


Question 114Question regarding Matt 23:39

I read the intense discussion regarding Romans 11 on the CAI web site. Toward the end you mentioned that the verb to say in Matt 23:39 is in the aorist subjunctive mood and you argued that this makes the action uncertain (such that one should read it: "until you may say 'blessed is he...'").

I did a little reading about the subjunctive mood. Correct me if I am wrong, but it would seem that:

(1) The subjunctive mood does not always imply uncertainty. For example, it could be used to indicate purpose.

(2) More specifically, the verb in this passage is used with until. Since the subjunctive mood can be used to indicate contingency, it would seem that the subjunctive mood would be used regardless of whether the speaker considered the main action to be definite or indefinite.

Thank you for your writings and for your help in this matter,


R. Sungenis: Chris, let me be a little more definitive on this question. The subjunctive mood is used in Mt 23:39 with the "ou me" ("by no means"). In such cases, the subjunctive mood is used because it highlights an emphatic position taken by the speaker. For example, if I said to my teenager: "Under no circumstance will I allow you to go unless you clean up your room," the Greek would best express this by "ou me" with the subjunctive mood. I am letting him know, in no uncertain terms, that his plans are curtailed unless he does what I want him to do. It is my bottom line, in colloquial speeh.

The same is occurring in Mt 23:39. Jesus is saying, basically, "Under no circumstances will you see me unless you repent and give me a blessing."

This is why the subjunctive mood is also used in rhetorical questions or deliberate assertions, since it is making the speaker's position emphatic against his opponent. The subjunctive mood is not predictive, however. That is, it is not predicting that Israel will bless Christ, but only emphasizing that until they do bless Christ, they will never see him.


Question 113God's secret will and canaanite woman


What does God's "secret will" mean and can you please explain today's (Aug 14) reading? Why does Jesus call the canaanite woman a dog? What should we get out of this reading?


R. Sungenis: Amy, God's secret will refers to things that God knows in his infinite wisdom that he does not reveal to men. Dt 29:29 is a good verse for that principle:

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."

Actually, the word for "dog" here in the Greek means a "little house puppy," in other words, a pet. In those days, and still today, children used to feed their pet dogs scraps from the table. These dogs were well-cared for. Since it is true that Jesus came first to the Jews (cf., Lk 1:68-79; Acts 13:45-48), it was to them that he was to preach in the main. Gentiles would receive the Gospel on a secondary basis in those days. After the Jews rejected the Gospel, the Gentiles received the first portion (Acts 1:8).


Question 112How do I, as a Catholic, answer the question: "Have you been saved?"

Wondering what one's response ought to be to the question, have you been saved?

I assume this question is asked because of the way evangelistic Protestants commonly approach Catholics about the matter of salvation. Protestants of the Calvinistic and Fundmentalist variety have been taught that once someone receives salvation by "accepting Jesus into your heart," that individual can never lose his salvation, regardless of whether he falls into sin. If he falls into deep sin, the Calvinist apologetic is that the person was never "really" saved originally, so he has no salvation to lose. If the person sins but not seriously, he is said to "fall out of fellowship" with Christ, but he maintains his salvation.

Thus, when these individuals approach a Catholic and ask: "have you been saved?" or "if you died tonight, do you have the asurance that you will go to heaven?" or "have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?" behind the question is the above theology concerning eternal security.

Since most of Protestantism (except for Lutherans and Anglicans) believe that salvation is received through one's "acceptance by faith of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior," they will automatically discount one's appeal to sacraments as providing the means of salvation. Thus, anyone who has not followed the regimen of the above "profession" wherein one "believes in his heart and confesses with his mouth" (cf., Romans 10:9), then the Protestant will not consider that person "saved." The salvation experience for the Protestant is based primarily on the subjective disposition of the heart and subsequently on the a personal confession of that faith in public.

Unfortunately for them, the Protestants have misconstrued the biblical teaching on how one receives salvation. To the question "Have you been saved," the Catholic who has received the sacrament of Baptism can answer: "Yes, I have been saved. I received my salvation when I was Baptized by water and the spirit, as Jesus taught in John 3:5. Jesus says that without receiving the water one cannot see the kingdom of heaven, and thus we see that Baptism is an absolute requirment for salvation. This comes not only from the Bible, but from the authority of the Church who has made this teaching into dogma (Council of Orange in 529; Council of Trent in 1563), and among all the Fathers of the Church who gave their unanimous consent to this teaching, without one deviation."

The Catholic can further answer: "Baptism gives me an objective means of knowing that I am saved, as opposed to dependence on one's mere subjective disposition of faith taught in Protestant churches. In fact, when you ask me 'have you been saved?' I can tell you the exact time and place that I received salvation, since God promised that he would justify me when I, by faith, received the sacrament of Baptism. You, on the other hand, must depend on your subjective feelings of faith, feelings that may or may not be real, and feelings that do not have an objective counterpart. In Catholicism, we have the objective means of salvation (Baptism) coinciding with the subjective disposition of the individual (an act of faith and profession of that faith during the Baptismal act). Both are required for the procurment of salvation. I as a Catholic have done both, and therefore I am saved."

The Catholic can add the following: "Having been saved, however, does not mean that I am quaranteed to go to heaven, since the same Bible that taught me about Baptism in John 3:5 is the same one that teaches me I can lose my salvation if I sin seriously without repentance (e.g., Luke 8:13; John 15:6; Romans 8:12-13; 1Cor 6:8-9; Gal 5:19-21; 2Tim 2:12; Hebrews 2:1; 3:1,6, 12-14; 4:1, 11-14; 6:4-6, 11-12; 10:26-27, 35-38; 12:1,3, 14-17, 25, 29; James 2:13-14; 4:4; 2Pet 2:20-22, et al). Hence, if I see you in serious sin without repentance, I should ask you: 'have you received salvation?'"

Of course, the above truth about losing one's salvation cuts both ways. Since the average Catholic is nominal and often living in sin against the edicts of the Church, and hasn't been practicing the faith or receiving the sacraments, the question "have you been saved?" is quite appropriate. Many "Catholics" have, indeed, lost their salvation, and thus the answer to the above question, if answered honestly, would have to be "I received it when I was Baptized but have since lost it due to my own sin."

What the Catholic needs to do at this point, of course, is make his way back into the Church and receive the sacrament of Confession in order to restore the graces he once had received at Baptism. Unfortunately, it is exactly at this point that the average Catholic becomes fodder for the Protestant, since the latter will try to convince the former that he need not confess his sins to a priest because priest's have no power to forgive sins (in direct violation of John 20:23 and Matt 16:18-19). He will then convince the Catholic that the reception of salvation is much simpler than going to a priest. The "rugged individualism" he inherited from his Protestant forefathers will force him to say, "Why not go to God directly and make a confession with your mouth and receive Jesus into your heart?"

This, of course, gets right back to the problem we introduced concerning the objective versus subjective nature of salvation. If the Catholic really wants to obey God, then he will use the means God has ordained to have his sins forgiven. If they are serious sins, the God-ordained means is the sacrament of confession. Anything else is an affront to God and a device of the devil (who disguises himself as an angel of light - 2 Cor 11:14-15).

Robert A. Sungenis, M.A., Ph.D. (cd)
President of Catholic Apologetics Intl.
Author of: Not By Faith Alone: The Biblical Evidence for the Catholic Doctrine of Justification (Queenship Publishing, 1997, 774 pages)


Question 111Atonement, Pius X: Did Christ have to suffer and die?

Dear Robert

Your understanding of the atonment seems to be contradicted by the following authoritive source. Either that or I haven't understood Robert's [your] position properly. And the authority I cite is no one less than Saint Pius X himself [in his catechism]. I'm citing all the relevant ones but the ones of most direct concern are questions 12 and 13. I know it's not an "offical" Church document but it will be quite a hurdle to affirm that Pius is wrong wrong wrong! Btw in a recent question and answer you astounded me with a rhetorical question asking how could Jesus walking the streets of Jerusalem be an infinite act (?) They are of infinite value because the person performing them is infinite in dignity etc. You can read about this in books like "Theology for Beginners" by Sheed and just about everywhere else.

From his catechism:

9 Q: Would it not have been enough for an Angel to come and make satisfaction for us?
A: No, it would not have been enough for an Angel to come and make satisfaction for us, because the offense given to God by sin was, in a certain sense, infinite, and to satisfy for it a person possessing infinite merit was required.

10 Q: To satisfy divine justice, was it necessary that Jesus Christ should be both God and man?
A: Yes; to be able to suffer and die it was necessary that Jesus Christ should be man; while for His sufferings to be of infinite value it was necessary that He should be God.

11 Q: Why was it necessary that the merits of Jesus Christ should be of infinite value?
A: It was necessary that the merits of Jesus Christ should be of infinite value, because God's Majesty, which had been offended by sin, is infinite.

12 Q: Was it necessary for Jesus Christ to suffer as much as He actually did?
A: No, it was not absolutely necessary for Jesus Christ to suffer as much as He did, because each of His acts being of infinite value, the least of His sufferings would have sufficed for our redemption.

13 Q: Why, then, did Jesus suffer so much?
A: Jesus Christ suffered so much in order to satisfy divine justice all the more abundantly; to display His love for us still more; and to inspire us with the deepest horror of sin.


R. Sungenis: As for Question 12: "Was it necessary for Jesus Christ to suffer as much as He actually did? A: No, it was not absolutely necessary for Jesus Christ to suffer as much as He did, because each of His acts being of infinite value, the least of His sufferings would have sufficed for our redemption."

The problem here is that Pius X says "suffer as much as he did," but he does not refer to Christ's death. If Pius is including Christ's death in the statement "it was not absolutely necessary for Jesus Christ to suffer as much as He did," such that it can be concluded that Pius was saying that Christ did not need to die, then Pius is absolutely wrong.

Scripture, the Fathers and our Tradition are absolutely certain that Christ had to die in order to accomplish the redemption. Again, that was what the Garden of Gethsemane was all about. There was no other way. Any other view is simply the worst kind of theological nominalism.

If, on the other hand, Pius is saying that the physical suffering Christ endured prior to his death on the cross could have been less or more than what Christ actually suffered, then there is less of a problem with his statement.

The only problem then is that Pius uses the word "infinite" and applies it to Christ in order to claim that the suffering need not be of any particular intensity. As I said before, "infinity" is not the criterion for what is valuable or merited.

We already know Christ is infinite, and since infinity has infinite value then why would Christ have to suffer in the first place? If "infinity" is the criterion then his mere existence could be claimed as being sufficient for the Atonement, because one could argue that his existence has infinite value. But that simply is not the case, and it is not what the Church has taught. "Infinity" has nothing to do with this issue.

What is at issue is what the Father deems as sufficient to preserve His honor and appease His wrath. Avoiding the nominalism, Scripture and Tradition tell us that Christ's suffering and death were the only sufficient means of appeasing and propitiating the Father. Anything else would not have procured the Atonement.

Moreover, when we say that it was NOT necessary for Christ to suffer as he did, we are then implying that God did not chose for Christ the perfect sacrifice to appease His wrath, and thus, there was still a better way it could have been done wherein Christ could have suffered less. That implies that God took suffering from Christ that wasn't necessary for Him to be appeased, and that, in turn, would make God either a liar or a tyrant, or both.

As for what authority Pius X's catechism has in this matter, I can assure you that Q&A #12 maintains very little authority in ecclesiastical and theological protocol. First, unless the pope is speaking in a binding and official capacity, then his theological utterances are from his personal opinion, and citation of them as providing definitive evidence for theological matters is quite presumptuous. Second, it is almost certain that Pius X did not write Question 12 and its answer. That was assigned to some theologian and Pius X simply issued the catechism under his pontificate. Catechisms are not infallible, and never have been.


Question 110Geocentrism and superluminal velocity, Part 2

R. Sungenis: Andrew, I think you are the one who is "taking things out of context." The comments I made about the sun having to travel around the Milky Way and so forth were for the contextual purpose of demonstrating that your universe is not "simple" by any stretch of the imagination. It has nothing to do with whether the sun or stars could travel at speeds greater than c.

A: Sure it does. The "'simplicity' appeal" as you put it is the idea that, between two theories, the simpler explanation is usually preferable. There should never be a "simple" theory explaining the complex workings of the universe; it's just not a simple subject. What's important is the comparison: the geocentric model has objects of similar mass moving at speeds 2000x faster than those in the heliocentric model, and yet you claim those slower speeds disqualify the heliocentric model from appealing to simplicity. That's clearly false; my request for a retraction stands.

R. Sungenis: Andrew, prove that the roundabout can't go 2000x faster and carry objects within it, then you've got something. Until then, all you've got is an opinion.

RS: As for your accusation that I have taken Rosser's comment about the stars being able to travel superluminal speeds, I don't take lightly. Go buy the book, read the context, and demonstrate to all of us what and how I have "taken out of context." Until then, you are making accusations that you can't substantiate.

A: I notice that you have no qualms with my complaint that you restrict yourself to one 40-year-old source. Rosser is, if I'm not mistaken from the short passage you quote, referring to the theoretical phenomenon of superluminal velocity around a nearby rotating cylinder of infinite length. Unless I'm mistaken, your model of the universe does not include an earth that is either cylindrical, rotating, or infinitely long, or close to the stars. If Rosser actually believed that a distant star could spin around the earth at speeds of 6x c, he had no business writing that book, and you shouldn't be referencing him.

RS: Oh, so you're the authority on General Relativity and now feel qualified to tell another General Relativist what he should write? Unfortunately, that doesn't serve as proof, Andrew. As for you cylindrical, et al, complaint, what is it about "the stars would be moving relative to O’ [the observer] with linear velocities exceeding 3 x 108 m/sec" that you don't understand as referring to stars moving faster than light?

RS: As for my ability to use General Relativity to refute those who think they can prove heliocentrism, I'm sorry, but I have always gone by the axiom that a house divided against itself will not stand. If I can use modern science to refute modern science, I've done my job well.

A: Why is it fair for you to be able to pick and choose the theories that assist you? That genuine scientists occasionally disagree with each other or with accepted theories does not weaken the cause of genuine science. You yourself differentiate between several different geocentric theories, some of which you think are silly; you would never allow others to use facets of those theories in an argument against you.

RS: I never claimed to be able to prove geocentrism. But you took the challenge on the basis you could prove heliocentrism. Therefore I'm entitled to use your own system to disprove your own system.

A: Why should I be impressed by a passage by a man who's top Google page is your own website?

RS: Why should I be impressed by a man who resorts to inuendo?

A: All of which is beyond the point, of course. As I said, I have no intention of changing your views -- I can't move mountains. I'm just seeking that retraction.
Andrew F.

RS: Visit again, Andrew, when you have proof of heliocentrism. Otherwise, this conversation is over.


Question 109Romans 5:12 Part 2

But why would God be angry with those who have commited no sin? Is it not a mistake to interpret original sin in terms of legal punishment? Does not the Church reject the Calvinist notion of imputed guilt of all men with of Adam's sin? Thank you

R. Sungenis: No, the Catholic Church (Council of Orange, Council of Trent) says that the curse of Adam's sin was passed down to all men. Adam was the representative for the whole human race. If not, then we would all have had to pass our own "Garden of Eden" test. If we failed, there would be no Savior for us, since Christ could not have died a billion times. But if Adam is our representative but he fails, then Christ can be our second representative and redeem the whole race. So it is a good thing that Adam was our representative. As for God's wrath, it would be against the whole human race, since Adam was our representative. These are the rules God established. Any other rules would have been inadequate, as you can see from my explanation that we would all need to have our own "Garden of Eden" test and our own Savior.


Question 108Geocentrism and superluminal velocity

Mr Sungenis --

You wrote, in response to question 59:

"An earth going around the sun at 18.5 miles per second, and spinning at 1054 mph, and a sun going around the galaxy at 600 mps, and the galaxy going around other clusters at 10x that speed [...] I don't think you have access to the "simplicity" appeal."

Since you bother to explain the parallax effect, I assume you would agree with me that the distance between earth and the average star is in the light years. And that for a star just 1 light year away from earth to travel from the western side of the sky to the eastern side in 6 months (see question 54), that star would have to travel at greater than 6 times the speed of light, or about 1,250,000 miles per second.

Your rejection of the general theory of relativity, and your ability to pick and choose whatever science you please, means your $1000 is pretty safe. I know if I try to argue that stars can't travel six times the speed of light, you'll remind me that you've already taken a passage from an outdated book out of context to to show that they can. But here we have an example where you turn your nose up at the idea of the sun travelling at a relatively tame speed, about 2000 times less than the superluminal velocities you ascribe to all the other stars. That's a discrepancy in your reasoning. All I ask is that you retract what I've quoted above -- the idea that heliocentrism is rendered complex due to the speeds involved.

Thank you,

Andrew F

R. Sungenis: Andrew, I think you are the one who is "taking things out of context." The comments I made about the sun having to travel around the Milky Way and so forth were for the contextual purpose of demonstrating that your universe is not "simple" by any stretch of the imagination. It has nothing to do with whether the sun or stars could travel at speeds greater than c.

As for your accusation that I have taken Rosser's comment about the stars being able to travel superluminal speeds, I don't take lightly. Go buy the book, read the context, and demonstrate to all of us what and how I have "taken out of context." Until then, you are making accusations that you can't substantiate.

As for my ability to use General Relativity to refute those who think they can prove heliocentrism, I'm sorry, but I have always gone by the axiom that a house divided against itself will not stand. If I can use modern science to refute modern science, I've done my job well.


Question 107Is my marriage valid?

Mr. Sungenis,

I was baptized Ukrainian Orthodox and my wife was baptized and raised Catholic. We were married in the Catholic church while I was still Ukrainian Orthodox. This past Easter, after participating in RCIA I was confirmed Catholic. The question is, according to Catholic doctrine, is my marriage valid in the eyes of the Catholic church and the Lord?

Thank you for your time,


R. Sungenis: Gene, yes, according to current canon law, your previous marriage is valid. Congratulations on entering the one true church!


Question 106Is the Mass idolatrous? Can we use instruments in worship?

Hello Mr. Sungenis,

Do you know where can I find the answer to the question:

Is the Catholic mass idolatrous?

My Reformed Presbyterian Pastor takes the stand that the mass is idolatrous.

I would like to do some research on it.

Also he claims that if I am looking for a church that is most in keeping with the early church father's teachings then the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church would be more so than the Roman Catholic Church because they still use no instruments in worship as the early fathers taught for the first 500 years.

Do you agree with that statement?

Thank you,

Mrs. Harter
PS: I have just ordered your book 'Not by Bread Alone'.

R. Sungenis: Mrs. Harter, all the answers to your questions can be found in the book Not By Bread Alone. I think you will find it an enjoyable read as well as a thoroughly researched treatise on the subject. Suffice it to say that the Mass is not "idolatrous." Idolatry is when one replaces the true God with a false god, and I can assure you that the Catholic Mass does no such thing.
As for whether one can use "instruments" in worship, all one need do is read the Psalms where David speaks of praising God on the lyre, the timbrel and with cymbals. The New Testament puts no restrictions whatsoever on these kinds of instruments. It speaks of music in general categories and allows us to chose how we will implement its various methods of expression. In fact, it even speaks of harps in the symbolic language of the Apocalypse as the chosen instrument of God (Apocalypse 14:2; 15:2).




Isn't there ANY Catholic Study bible that doesn't have all that nonsense about the Pentateuch being from "four traditions"--You know, the Elohistic tradition, the Deuteronomic tradition, the Priestly tradition and the Yahwistic tradition." I made the mistake of buying the NAB Catholic Study bible and was sickened that that piece of trash can be referred to as a Catholic Bible and sold in every Catholic bookstore. The review of that bible on your website is great. I wish I would have seen that review BEFORE I wasted my money. I threw the bible in the trash.

Even the Navaare Bible buys into this "higher criticism" junk. So, back to my question: Is there ANY Catholic Study Bible that isn't INFECTED with the virus of "Higher Criticism?"

Don Fahrenkrug
Pueblo, Colorado

P.S. I was attempting to read the entire bible but reading the footnotes in the RSV, the NRSV, the NAB and the Navarre Bible is enough to make one give up bible reading. If everything is a myth, is an late addition, is not really meant, etc., how can a person base a doctrine on any of it? I'm back to reading the NASB WITHOUT footnotes of any kind. These so-called scholars sound to me like they are absolutely lost and in need of salvation.

R. Sungenis: Don, sorry, but there are very few commentaries these days who have not succumbed to the JEPD theory, and the historical critical approach to Scripture as a whole. As far as most scholars are concerned, the Bible has been demoted to a book that has few real miracles, if any, no real prophecy, and men who were inspired in their own spirit with the notion of God but whom God did not inspire directly. If you want a good Catholic Bible to read with traditional commentary, get the Haydock Bible (Douay-Rheims) from Catholic Treasures in Monrovia California. Without a doubt it is the best Bible on the market today.


Question 104The Atonement

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

below is an exchange between someone named Robert and Sippo on the envoymagazine board. Does Sippo get it right?

Thank you,

What is the Catholic understanding of the atonement? This is a very important question for me. This is **the** most important question for me. I hope one of you guys will answer. For all those that do, thank you so very much in advance.

There really isn't any one specific Catholic teaching on this. The NT uses several metaphors for the work of Christ and the Catholic Church affirms that there are several ways of describing it. The one theory that we do not favor is penal substitution which states that Jesus suffered the punishment that we sinners should have. If hat were true then Jesus would need to be damned to Hell forever. Instead we prefer thsoe systems that have Jesus making satisfaction for us so that the justice of God may be appeased and punishment avoided.

R. Sungenis: Yes, Art is correct. The only thing I would modify is his statement "There really isn't any one specific Catholic teaching on this." There is one dominant teaching throughout the the patristics, Augustine, Aquinas and through the Middle Ages, to the present, and that concerns the matter of propitiation to appease God in order to procure his mercy. The Council of Trent sided with this view in its treatment of the Mass, which it understood as a re-presentation of the Atonement to the Father on a daily basis. This principle of the Atonement was especially dominant in wording and rubrics of the Tridentine Mass.

Question 103Galileo according to the American Bible Association

Official Ex Cathedra Catholic Church teaching says the following:

The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgiving, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.
Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.

There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved.
Pope Innocent III, 4th Lateran Council, 1215.

We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.

If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of our Lord Jesus Christ:'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit' (John 3:5) are distorted into some sort of metaphor: let him be anathema.
Canon 2, Council of Trent.

Are these valid citations? If so, how are they consistent with Dominus Iesus and Baptism by blood and desire ?

I do note that all the references are pre-reformation, so they don't refer to non-Catholic Christians.


R. Sungenis: Robert, they are valid quotes, and are always used when debates of this nature arise. According to Catholic dogmatic protocol, they are still valid and applicable to today. In other words, we can still say "there is no salvation outside the Church." That teaching will never change, because it is defined dogma.

But according to an encyclical by Pius IX, this teaching applies in the main to those who have heard of the Catholic Church. If they have heard of it, and are cognizant of its authority and decrees, then they are bound to enter it for salvation.

This was especially true during the days in which Unam Sanctum and Cantate Domino were written, since there was an uprising of the Jacobites and some Jews who were declaring that they did not need the Catholic Church to be saved. This was at a time in the mid-middle ages when Jews were becoming more prominent in society and were employing a lot of Catholics. They more or less got too big for their britches, so to speak. They began touting the Talmud, the Kabbala and other such Judaistic theological stances. But Eugene IV and Boniface VIII clamped down hard on them, and proclaimed that neither Jews nor heretics nor anyone else could be saved unless they embraced the Catholic Church.

Moreover, this was in a time when everyone knew the Catholic Church, and knew what She was proclaiming. The New World had not been discovered, and almost all issues of this nature were confined to Europe where everyone knew everyone else's business, so to speak.

But as the world expanded, four centuries later Pius IX saw a world that now contained people that we knew had never heard of the Catholic Church. And if we can't get down to Antartica to preach the Gospel, the question arose as to what becomes of these remote peoples. Pius IX's answer was (I will underline the important sections):

"And here, beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, We should mention again and censure a very grave error in which some Catholics are unhappily engaged, who believe that men living in error, and separated from the true faith and from Catholic unity, can attain eternal life. Indeed, this is certainly quite contrary to Catholic teaching."

RS: So here we see that Pius IX affirms the dogma of Eugene IV and Boniface VIII. But he then adds something that neither Eugene IV nor Boniface VIII addressed, which was the issue of someone who has not heard of the Catholic Church:

"It is known to Us and to you that they who labor in invicible ignorance of our most holy religion, and who, zealously keeping the natural law and its precepts engraved in the hearts of all by God, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life, can, since God who clearly beholds, searches, and knows the minds, souls, thoughts, and habits of all men, because of His great goodness and mercy, will be no means suffer anyone to be punished with eternal torment who has not the guilt of deliberate sin."

RS: Pius IX then explains to what, precisely, the decrees of Eugene IV and Boniface VIII, applied, which is the same application I stated above:

"But, the Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church is well-known; and also that those who are obstinate toward the authority and definitions of the same Church, and who perisistently separate themselves from the unity of the Church, and from the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, to whom 'the guardianship of the vine has been entrusted by the Savior,' cannot obtain eternal salvation."
(Denzinger 1677)

Pius IX also said the following:

"For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God.

RS: Thus he is affirming the teaching of invincible ignorance. In the next section he tells us that we, as fallible and finite beings, cannot set the limits on who fulfills the category of invincible ignorance. This is God's realm exclusively:

"Now, in truth, who would arrogate so much to himself as to mark the limits of such an ignorance, because of the nature and variety of peoples, regions, innate dispositions, and of so many other things? For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains "we shall see God as He is" [1 John 3:2], we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but, as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is "one God, one faith, one baptism" [Eph. 4:5]; it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry."
(Denzinger 1647).

RS: In other words, beyond those who we see obstinately refuse to enter the Catholic Church, it is not for us to set the limits of God's salvation. That is God's domain, not ours. He is the judge, not us, and there is no "further inquiry," that is, don't even bother asking the question.

All of this, of course, concurs with the tenor and teaching of Dominus Jesus.

God be with you.
R. Sungenis

Question 102Zionists and the neocons

Dear Robert Sungenis:

With many dioceses cutting close to the bone on finances, the "Catholic" neocons are able to dominate evangelism. I wept when I saw the board of advisers for Chesterton Review: all neocons except for David Schindler and Stratford Caldecott. Two bishops, Chaput of Denver and Pell of Sydney, Australia are in their pocket. The (London) Tablet published a long interview with George Weigel. When I tried to respond, they censored my letter to extinction.

The neocons own Washington and now they have the Church although Benedict is likely to be less cooperative on their just war and free trade views. I was v. glad to see Cardinal George's attack on Woodrow Wilson, a virulent anti-Catholic and neocon hero. (last two issues of Commonweal). Valiant editors like Thomas Fleming (Chronicles), Pat Buchanan (American Conservative), Dale Vree/Michael Rose (New Oxford Review) and E. Michael Jones (Culture Wars) resist the neocon tide with a fraction of the financial resources.

Avery Dulles was exposed as a heretic by Germain Grisez in his 1982 book, Way of Jesus Christ: Christian Moral Principles, pg 896. Dulles invented the double magisterium. Richard McBrien in NCR praises the former Dulles while deploring his "lurch" to the neocons. I was scandalized when Dulles was made Cardinal. Two of his fellow Jesuits are really great theoligians, Paul M. Quay and Donald J. Keefe. A Dominican missionary serving in Africa wrote a piece for New Blackfriars in the mid-80s that denounced Dulles for his heretical views on revelation. Dulles advocated symbols in place of concepts in catechetics.

When he first came to Rome, Ratzinger delivered a speech to the doctrinal heads of the European Bishops Conf. on the deficiencies in catechetics. He said the catechisms were inadequate on creation, the cross and eternal life. I wondered what's left?

Creation: The Sabbath by Desmond Ford
The Cross: Attributes and Atonement in the Theology of P.T. Forsyth
Eternal Life: Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright

With kind regards,
Anthony Sistrom
(Eureka, California)

R. Sungenis: Anthony, thanks for your information. It is timely and appropriate. Unfortunately, with the lack of discipline in the pontificate of John Paul II, and the worldwide sex scandal in the Church, the Catholic Church of today is severely weakened and infiltrated by all kinds of non-Catholic elements. But Christ will use her, nevertheless, and the gates of hell will not prevail.

Question 101Dave Hunt


I work with an individual who use to be a Catholic, he has left the Church and is now a follower of Dave Hunt. I am praying for him but is there something else I can show him to prove he is in error? Today he showed me a book written by Hunt titled "The Whore of Babylon," he said the Catholic Church is in fact the whore.

Thank you,

B. Douglass: Dave Hunt is an obstinate ignoramus, and this comes out in his writings on Catholicism, psychology, Calvinism, and probably everything else he writes on. He makes preposterous assertions like Acts having a Hebrew original (which conveniently is more compatible with his theology than the Greek), and Charles Spurgeon (a Calvinist if there ever was one) denying limited atonement.

As I understand it, for the Whore of Babylon book Hunt relies on evil, dishonest sources like Foxe's Book of Martyrs (which laughably claims the Cathari to be of the "Reformed Fayth") to create a caricature of history in which more people die in the Inquisition than lived in Europe during the Inquisition. The Catholic Answers website has some decent material refuting Hunt's position.

The Catholic League website ( also has some good essays on the Crusades and the Inquisition, and Marian Horvat has written on these issues as well. I would also recommend you show your co-worker some good works of Catholic eschatology, such as the relevant chapters of St. Augustine's The City of God and the second volume of the CASB (when it comes out).

Other than that, you can show him the usual material for all Protestants: Early Church Fathers (Ignatius, Clement, Irenaeus, Cyprian), books of Biblical Catholic apologetics (Sungenis, Madrid, Salza, Armstrong, St. Francis de Sales), Catholic Bible commentaries (Haydock, Knecht, Chrysostom, Augustine), etc.


Question 100baptismus in voto, Part 2

Dear Mr. Sungennis,

Thank you for your reply. Your arguement that salvation and justification are interchangeable seems plausible. I still tend to agree with Fr. Feeney's interpretation, and am not sure Trent closed the book on this subject. I'll try to dig up the record of the debate to prove this (from the councils schemata discussions) but this isn't an essential point for me as long as one holds BOD only for Catholic catecumens (formal or desiring, ie one who has the intention of entering the Church and holds the Faith). Would you extend BOD to the those 'invincibly ignorant' of the Faith?

Steve Kampe
Benton Harbor, MI

R. Sungenis: I don't extend it to anyone, because I don't have the power to do so, since I have learned to leave salvation in the hands of God. If God wants to apply it to a catecumen or non-catacumen that is His business. Until if and when the Church defines its extent, I don't think any of us should be making any hard and fast conclusions.

Question 99Galileo was wrong "Debate"

Do you know where I can find the online "debate" where Robert Sungenis was replying to a critique from a fellow Catholic who was trying to say that (paraphrasing)

'although Mr. Sungenis can believe in geocentrism, he cannot state that it is the Catholic Church's official position...'

or something to that effect.

david blasland

R. Sungenis: David, I don't remember where it is. As to the question, I beg to differ. Until if and when another pope rescinds the remarks of Pius V and Urban VIII, the condemnation of Copernicanism remains the Church last official position on this matter. It is one thing to say that the papal decrees were not infallible (since that is judged on the form of the decrees) but it is quite another to claim that they were not official positions of the Church of that day. They were so "official" that in 1633 Urban VIII sent letters to all the papal nuncios of Europe demanding that Copernicanism be condemned and the teaching of the Fathers be asserted. If that is not "official" I don't know what is.

Question 98baptismus in voto

Mr. Sungennis,

I'm new to your site (I see some good stuff!) and I have a few Q's about your anwers to q's regarding EENS and BOD. Before I get into it, I'd like to state that I hold everything Trent has defined for us, but I wonder about you're interpretations.

First, is 'desire' really the best way to translate 'in voto'? Doesn't this imply an intention to do something which is more of an act of the will, and not a mere desire? I've read a peice that has unfortunately not been yet published that argues that Trent's acknowledgement of the 'baptismus in voto' sufficing for justification fell short of resolving the issue even at the time of the council. Apparently the debates that occured while drafting the council's schemata resulted in a shelving of this Catholic debate in order to not get bogged down unneccessecarily while they refuted the protestant errors.

So the Fathers while declaring Baptism necessary for SALVATION, fell short of doing so for the'baptismus in voto', and could only agree that it brings about a state of JUSTIFICATION. Apparently (and I admit that I have not seen the record of the debates) there was disagreement among the council Fathers as to wether this makes it possible for a man to be SAVED without the water Baptism.

Now many arguements have been made that of course a just man may be saved, but as you will allow no one to exchange 'and' for 'or' in a dogmatic pronouncement, I similarly say that we cannot exchange 'justification' for 'salvation', at least not dogmatically. I've also heard it further argued that we know that a just man can be barred from Heaven, at least temporarily, as were all just men before the redemption. I'm not denying the possibility that God offers some extraordinary privelege, but only argue that Trent has not resolved the issue as regards salvation.

Also, can't we avoid a lot of abuse by refering to 'the desire for baptism' (or even better 'the intention to receive Baptism') rather than Baptism of desire?

Steve Kampe,
Benton Harbor, MI

R. Sungenis: Steve, as used both in Latin and later in Trent's discourse, the word "voto" can mean vow or desire. In any case, Trent understands the "desire" as something that the person wishes to do but for one reason or another is prohibited from doing it. This is noted in the wording of Chapter 14: "Hence it must be taught that the repentance of a Christian after his fall is very different from that at his baptism, and that it includes not only a cessation from sins, and a detestation of them, or ‘a contrite and humble heart’ [Psalm 50:19], but also the sacramental confession of the same, at least in desire and to be made in its season, and sacerdotal absolution, as well as satisfaction by fasting, almsgiving, prayers, and other devout exercises of the spiritual life..."

As for the argument that one is merely "justified" but not necessarily "saved" when he is Baptism by desire, no such argumentation was advanced by Trent, or any other pope or council. Those who make such an artificial distinction are quite incorrect. Justification is salvation. The words are used interchangeable in Scripture and the Fathers, and no one ever advanced the argument that they were distinct. This is the most glaring error in the position of Fr. Leonard Feeney, and it is quite prominent in his book. According to Scripture and the Fathers, one can lose his salvation just as easily as he can lose his justification, and thus there is no more security in saying someone is "saved" as opposed to "justified."

Question 97Baptism

Mr. Sungenis,

First, I would like to thank you for your service to the Holy See of Rome. I am a former Prostestant looking into the Catholic and Orthodox Church. I have read your book on sole fide and sola scriptura and they have been a tremendous help to me in rejecting Evangelical teaching on these matters. I am seeking material of the same caliber to respond to the evangelical position on baptism.


R. Sungenis: Keith, the Catholic Catechism has a wonderful section on Baptism. That would be your best source for now. As for a single apologetic book written on Baptism, I don't know of one, but that is not the last word. CAI has various Internet Bible Studies on Baptism, however, if you are interested. You can purchase them by making a donation to CAI.

Question 96NFP

Hello Robert,

Perhaps you or one of your associates may be able to assist me with an important issue. My wife has just given birth to our 3rd child, all by cesarian, and is having a slow recovery. She has stated that she does not wish to be pregnant again for 2 full years. Now, on one hand I have no problem obliging this request personally although I would prefer to have as many children as possible as frequently as possible. I believe I've read where you've stated that NFP was 'evil.' Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I've been trying to get more specifics around NFP to better understand why so many think it is acceptable. Everything I come across in support of NFP provides no clear indication of when it's NOT acceptable to use NFP. The best I've come up with in a Q&A was that a couple could not justify using NFP for the entirety of their marriage.

I've taken the time to read and review Pius XIs Casti Connubii and Leo XIII Arcanum encyclicals but there really isn't too much specifically in these documents. I'm not sure where else I can turn to get a solid understanding of pre-VII theology and practice on this matter before review post-VII material. So here are the direct questions:

1. Is there any other option such as temporary chastity that a couple can abide by that is in keeping with Church teaching?

2. Is your stance that NFP is never acceptable, and if yes why?

In Christ,
Ernie Luther

R. Sungenis: Ernie, if there is certifiable danger to the health or life of the mother, you are under no obligation to bear children at that time. God is not a a tyrant. Your situation is precisely why Humanae Vitae was written.

Question 95The Protestant Work ethic

What exactly is the Protestant work ethic? I have heard a Traditionalist apologist speak bad about it, but he did not explain what it is.

Thank you.
Michael L. Diveley

R. Sungenis: The Protestant work-ethic is, the harder you work and the more successful you become, the more God has blessed you, and the more evidence you have of your salvation. A few decades ago a book with the title "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" pretty much spelled out this relationship.

Question 94Innovative Churches

Hey there Mr. Sungenis,

I really respect your scholarly work in apologetics, and would love your opinion on a particular issue.

There is a new "non-denominational" church in town that has experienced enormous growth in little time. They are all about the "lights, camera, action" aspect of their service, and have been called "six flags over Jesus," which to me is quite offensive, but to them, that equals success.

Due to their multi-million dollar revenue, they have created a goal to start 100 new churches just like theirs within 10 years, in places where there are no churches. It seems they thrive off of fixing things that aren't broke.

The pastor throws out statistics that he has researched along the lines of "did you know that 4 of every 5 new churches that are started will fail their first 5 years."

I don't know where to start, or where to begin my thoughts regarding such an institution. I have conversed on occasion with a few of their pastors regarding specific doctrines, but it seems they shy away from such confrontation for fear of "complicating Jesus' message."

They recently boasted of making the list of the "Top 10 Innovative Churches," and often brag to their members of how successful a church they are building, and how many baptisms they have done, and how much attendance has grown.

This was their definition of "church innovation:"

"'Church innovation' is the introduction of new, fresh, and creative ideas and practices which are intended to be used for reaching people for Christ. The main driver for innovation is often the courage and energy to better the world through the local church. An essential element for church innovation is that its application generates results by helping people meet Jesus and become fully-devoted followers of Christ. Another measure of this is considering: Who is leading whom? In other words, what churches are becoming the benchmark for innovative ministry strategies and helping to resource other churches?"

There is so much wrong with this church I don't have a clue where to you have any thoughts on this, or have you experienced such non-denominational churches that preach the "Jesus loves you, you love Him, you are saved," gospel, and lets focus on entertaining people to increase attendance for the sake of saving them?

The website to the church is

It is one thing when dealing with say, reformed Baptists, in which specific doctrines can be discussed, but when dealing with churches like these, it seems there is no beginning or end.

Thanks in advance for any comments,

R. Sungenis: This is not even a Catholic Church. It is a Protestant cult. Don't get involved.

Question 93Evolutionary-creationism

Mr. Sungenis,

I have a question for you regarding evolutionary-creationism. My employer and I regularly talk about such issues and he brought up an argument in favor of reading the creation story as purely figurative. His reasoning is this: God would not lie to us, truth is truth, and if we are to take the Adam and Eve story literally, then how do we acount for all the genetic variations from the genome set contained in two people (Adam and Eve). This fact seems to disprove the literal interpretation of the Creation story.

We await your reply.

Alexander Greco

R. Sungenis: Alexander, obviously, God put into Adam and Eve's genes all the recessive traits He desired. That fact, coupled with the fact that the dominant and recessive genes would mix and match over the generations, there would be an almost infinite variety of combinations that could be produced. That fact, coupled with the effect that environment has upon one's physical makeup, would result in the many variations we see today.

Question 92The Geocentric Challenge


By the bluntness of your response it is apparent you believe the original notion of geocentrism has some holes in it, and all of the celestial bodies do not revolve around the earth. I wonder how you reconcile this with your challenge and your faith traditions? As a Catholic I also have those doubts and difficulties. Nevermind heliocentrism for now how do we ignore the clear observable evidence that the conception of geocentrism is flawed and in error. View me as a drowning man and your response throws me an anchor rather than a life ring.


R. Sungenis:Mike, we use the Tychonic model. In it the 8 planets revolve around the sun in the same geometic proportions as the heliocentric model. The only difference is that in the geocentric model the sun and 8 planets revolve around a fixed earth. The sun has the same orbit and distance from earth as the earth has in the heliocentric system. As such, all the motions and geometry of the geocentric and heliocentric systems are the same. The only difference is what occupies the center. If you want to see this for yourself, go to and download the program. Plug in earth as the center and you will see what I mean. Let me know if you want to discuss it afterwards.

Question 91Catholic Law Schools

Mr. (soon to be) Dr. Sugenis-

I am planning to apply to law school at the end of the next academic year and was wondering if you had any thoughts on attending a Catholic Law School. I have read your advice regarding theology degrees from Catholic Universities and wondered whether one whould have the same reservations seeking a law degree from a Catholic Law School?

-B Mercado

R. Sungenis: No, I don't think there would be a problem. It's only the theology at CUA that is very bad. The rest of the school is fine, academically speaking.

Question 90NASA and the Geocentrism Challenge

Dear CAI:

If Earth were the center of the universe, the calculations required to ensure that space probes to other planets arrive at their destinations would have to be totally different from the ones that space scientists now use. For example, all the calculations for American and European probes to Mars, which affect everything from the timing of launches, their trajectories, velocities (hence fuel requirments), etc., are based on the assumption that Earth and Mars follow roughly parallel paths around the Sun. All one need do to see the problem in your geocentric universe theory is to compare the vast differences between space flight path between that system and the heliocentric solar system theory in diagrammatic form. We would not now have photographs from Mars Rovers (let alone photographs from the earlier Viking probes) if the heliocentric system on which NASA scientists based their flight path calculations is wrong.

A few days ago I submitted the following question to NASA's "Ask an Astrophysicist:"

I know someone who emphatically believes that the Earth is stationary and that the universe revolves around it. But if this were true, wouldn't that directly affect the calculations required to send space probes to Mars and other planets? Wouldn't the geometry of a spaceflight in a geocentric universe be completely different from one in a heliocentric universe, and thus if the former were true a flight-plan based on the latter would cause the vehicle to fly hopelessly off-course?

Replying for NASA, Amy C. Fredericks and Michael Loewenstein wrote (from the email address afrederi@furtuna.giss.nasagov )

Thanks for the question.
Yes, you are absolutely right. If the universe were geocentric, all of our calculations for space probe trajectories would be wrong.

By using calculations based on a heliocentric system, NASA, the Russian (and former Soviet) Space Agency, and European Space Agency have repeatedly tested the heliocentric theory with successful physical probes to every planet in the known solar system, as well as the satellite systems of Jupiter and Saturn, and also asteroids and comets. If all these objects actually revolved around the Earth, the calculations for those probes would have ensured that they never reached their targets. On the other hand, not a single space craft--let alone space probe to other planet--has ever been launched based on the mathematical assumptions required by a geocentric universe. Therefore, the current space programs of at least three major political entities have proven, not only that the Earth revolves around the Sun, but also that the other observable planets, asteroids and comets do as well.

On your "Geocentrism Challenge" page you write:

Now a word of caution. By "proof" we mean that your explanations must be direct, observable, physical, natural, repeatable, unambiguous and comprehensive. We don't want hearsay, popular opinion, "expert" testimony, majority vote, personal conviction, organizational rulings, superficial analogies, appeals to "simplicity," "apologies" to Galileo, or any other indirect means of persuasion which do not qualify as scientific proof.

I believe the evidence I've presented here more than meets all the criteria you require for the $1,000 reward you offer in your challenge.

Ron Henzel
Senior Researcher
Midwest Christian Outreach

R. Sungenis: Sorry, Ron, this does not serve as proof that the system is heliocentric. It only proves that NASA uses and promotes the heliocentric system.

The only way Amy Fredericks and Michael Lowenstein can prove their argument is to show that a geocentric system will not produce the same results, not just claim or assume that it won't work, or base the proof on the fact that "not a single space craft--let alone space probe to other planet--has ever been launched based on the mathematical assumptions required by a geocentric universe." We're not interested on what NASA routinely practices, but on whether a geocentric system will not work.

First, it has been shown and admitted by physicists and astronomers alike that there is no geometrical difference in a system in which the sun revolves around the earth (with the 8 planets revolving around the sun) as opposed to the system in which the 8 planets and the Earth revolve around the earth. The only thing that changes is what occupies the center, the sun or the earth. Amy and Michael can go to to download the program that will demonstrate this to them.

Moreover, the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has already gone on record stating that it uses fixed-earth mechanics to send up satellites that circle the earth, not the heliocentric. Why? Because in those cases, the heliocentric math would just be too complicated. Theoretically, NASA or the NOAA can use either the geocentric or heliocentric system (since they will both show the same relative motions between the planets, Earth and the sun), but they will use the one that is more convenient depending on where the satellite or ship is going. They could make Jupiter the center of the system if they wanted, and all the calculations would work out. 2 + 2 = 4 but so does 3 + 1.

Again, Ron, the only way NASA can prove their argument is to demonstrate (not just claim) that the geocentric system will not work. In fact, I am sending them a copy of this reply to them, and if they would like to take up the challenge they can answer me personally. I've been waiting for this for quite some time. Perhaps NASA can do better than the representative from the Goddard Space Flight Center I talked with two years ago who said that he didn't have any explanation for why a geocentric system would not work.

Perhaps this quote from Albert Einstein will help them see the error of their position:

The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS [coordinate system] could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves,” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest,” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems]" (The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta, Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1938, 1966, p. 212.)

Thank you for your inquiry.

Robert Sungenis

Question 89Contradictions in Vatican II documents? Part 2

Hi, Robert,

I don't want anyone to slander anyone else, and I agree that if there's a contradiction, someone should point out the passage or passages that are either self-inconsistent or mutually inconsistent. But in the Summer 2005 issue of the Fatima Crusader, Father Kramer says that in the third secret of Fatima, Our Lady predicted an evil council. If she predicted one, and if Vatican II is the one, surely the Holy Ghost wasn't there.

You might say that we Traditionalists are committing post hoc ergo propter hoc when we blame various problems on Vatican II. But as Christopher Ferrara points out in a tape CAI sells, post hoc ergo propter hoc applies only when an argument's premises don't confirm its conclusion.

It's one thing for me to falsely accuse Vatican II's documents of contradictions. It's quite another for me to deliberately refuse to believe that they are they are there when they really are there, If Kramer is right, Vatican II's documents may contain contradictions.

I'm not as sure you you are that there are only ambiguities in Vatican II. In fact, I think some Vatican II documents contain falsehoods.

God bless,

R. Sungenis: Bill, unless Fr. Kramer heard directly from Our Lady that Vatican II was an "evil council," I wouldn't believe a word of it. Even if Fr. Kramer claimed he heard it from Our Lady I would be reticent to believe it, because I couldn't be sure that it actually occurred.

Just think about it. How could Our Lady call a council "evil" that was affirmed and confirmed by the reigning pope and of whom Jesus, her Son, said that he holds the keys, binds and looses as he wishes, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against him?

Now, if what Fr. Kramer is saying means only that what CAME OUT of the council was "evil," or that the council caused people to take an evil direction, fine, I have no problem with that, but an ecumenical council is not "evil," and don't ever believe that Our Lady would say such a thing. Men are evil, not councils.

In all my study of Vatican II, I have not seen anyone capable of proving that there is an error in its documents, and the burden of proof is certainly on one making such an accusation.

Such an accusation may be bouyed by the court of popular opinion, but it would never be affirmed by a canonical court of law, and that is the only critierion upon which we can judge such things. The Church is the final judge, not us.

Question 88Contradictions in Vatican II documents?


Do you know anyone who can check what this document says? If the charge is true, then at least one Vatican II document contains at least one falsehood. Thanks.

God bless,

R. Sungenis: Bill, if someone is going to make such an accusation, then they need to produce the two paragraphs that are allegedly contradictory, rather than just quote a bishop who attended Vatican II who has made certain claims. Whoever put that up on the site is doing some real shoddy work. It verges on slander. It incites people without showing the evidence. If it has happened once it has happened a thousand times -- what some people call a contradiction in Vatican II is nothing more than either an ambiguity or difficulty in wording due to the nature of the issue being discussed.

Moreover, the fact is, there is a balance that must be struck between "dualism" and non-dualism. Jesus himself said that we are to be as "cautious as snakes but as harmless as doves." What one bishop thinks is a "contradiction," the Holy Spirit may have used to bring out a greater truth concerning the complicated world in which we live.

The traditionalists attack on Vatican II must stop. This is an ecumenical council, called and confirmed by the reigning pope. Either the Holy Spirit was there or He was not. If there is error and contradiction, then the Holy Spirit wasn't there, I can guarantee you that. But if he wasn't there, then what assurance do we have that He was at any of the other 20 ecumenical councils called and confirmed by the reigning pope? None, I can assure you of that.

God be with you.

Question 87A fault in the geocentric argument?

Dear Robert,

While I am not directly taking up your geocentrism challenge, and I am not an expert in relativity, the following thoughts came to mind which I didn't find on your website. The thrust of the following arguments relate to the effect of unbalanced impacts from objects falling on Earth. If you have dealt with this before, please direct me to where your answer is, on the other hand I would be interested in any case as to your answer to the problem as set out below.

In the Newtonian description of physics, the centre of mass of a system in time can be assigned the coordinates (x(t),y(t),z(t),t) = (0,0,0,t). If a set of objects are in motion such that the Earth is at the centre of mass, then it will indeed stay there. For illustration, imagine three objects in a straight line, the Earth is stationary at the centre of mass, and the object to the left and to the right are in motion. If one of the object collides with Earth, then the other one also has to collide with Earth at exactly the same time, coming from the other direction. If however we have the case where one object collides with Earth and the other one doesn't, then it necessarily implies that the Earth was not originally at the centre of mass of the system. In this second case, the coordinates used to describe the Earth's position have to change to reflect the change in momentum due to the impact. So if the coordinates were (0,0,0,t) before impact, they will no longer be so afterwards, and similarly if they end up being (0,0,0,t) afterwards, then they couldn't have been so before.

This situation is also true in General Relativity. If you arrange a coordinate system where the Earth remains at (0,0,0,t), then in this system the Earth's coordinates still have to change if it undergoes an unbalanced impact. After impact you can rewrite the coordinates so that the Earth is again at (0,0,0,t) (as indeed you could in the Newtonian case), but surely this defeats the principle that the Earth is always at the centre of mass, and does not change position? From conservation of momentum, the Earth can only stay at the centre of any coordinate system if it does not collide with any other body, or that multiple collisions exactly cancel eachother out instantaneously. If you say that conservation of momentum does not apply to the Earth, then you have no physical theory that will back you up.

The fact that the Earth in fact does undergo unbalanced impacts should be obvious when considering it's path through the Leonid or Perseid meteor systems, or that the Solar wind comes from the direction of the Sun.

While the above does not prove the Earth goes around the Sun, and I have never observed the change in Earth's position due to an impact, it does show that both classical and relativity theories say that the Earth moves.


Dr. Brendan Roycroft,
Photonics Group,
Tyndall National Institute,
Lee Maltings,

R. Sungenis:Brenden, thank for you question. As it stands, the forces which hold the Earth at the center of mass position are quite huge, being held there by the rest of the balanced forces from the entire universe. In other words, one would have to be able to move the universe in order to move the Earth from the center (Archimedes included).

If you've ever experienced the force of a gyroscope, you can imagine what kind of force is created from all the mass in the universe spinning around the Earth. Misner, Thorne and Wheeler have freely admitted the effect of gyroscopic action on the center of mass, which they admit, could be the Earth in a Machian framework.

As such, any impacts from extraterrestrial objects upon the Earth could be compared to a flee hitting an elephant. If there is any momentum or inertia left over after this small collision, the energy would simply be vibrated out from the Earth into the firmament, much like a stationary tuning fork will vibrate out its energy. Thus the conservation of energy and momentum are applied.

Question 86Is the Eucharist cannibalism?

Good afternoon my friends in Christ.

I have a quick question with regards to the Eucharist. It sounds blasphemous to even ask such a question but it is one that is periodically presented to me by atheists and evangelical protestants. It deals with these infidels and schismatics calling us "cannibals" because we eat the body and blood of Christ when we partake of the Eucharist. How do we respond to this as Catholic Christians.

Keep up the good work.
Sincerely in Christ
John P. Danford

B. Douglass: John,

Cannibalism involves the destruction, digestion, and absoption of the flesh of the victim. Catholics and Orthodox do no such thing to Christ, as He is indestructible. Though we take Him in bodily, the substance of His body and blood returns to Him when the accidents of bread and wine are dissolved. If these atheists and Protestants want to argue that Christ's mere entering us bodily is evil, they will also have to admit that it is evil for doctors to perform surgery, or spouses to concieve children.

God bless,
Ben Douglass

Question 85SSPX, Inter Insignores, Women in the OT

Hi Bob.

Love the web site, the books, the bible studies and all the rest that you do. I have 3 quickies that I wonder if you would be kind enough to answer.

First, I saw an ad in the New Oxford Review (one of my most favorite magazines) for a new printing of a 1962 Missal by Angelus Press. The ad looks great and I would like to buy it, but I am concerned that by doing so I would be sinning by financially helping the schismatic SSPX as Angelus Press is their printing arm (I believe). I could opt for a second new one just out from the FSSP which has the imprimatur of Bishop Bruskewicz, but the one from Angelus is my first pick. Am I over-thinking this?

RS: No sin involved. In this world we buy things very often from institutions with whom we disagree in faith and morals. It's only when one makes it a goal to support such institutions that it becomes a sin.

Second, in the series of excellent articles that you did for CFN on women wearing veils, etc. (with which I completely agree), you cite Inter Insigniores as by Paul VI. In my Documents of Vatican II collection, Volume 2 (edited by Flannery), authorship of this document is attributed to the SCDF. Whose right? If it was the SCDF, doesn't that lend more force to your argument since a sacred congregation has less authority than a Pope?

RS: Interesting. If it was written by the SCDF that would make more sense, since the liberal influence in 1975 was pretty heavy then. As for having lower authority, I would assume so, but then again, whether it was the pope or the SCDF, no one can conclude they were saying that women were not to wear head coverings, simply because the 1917 Code forbidding it was still in force.

Last, how did women come into the Old Covenant? God mandated circumcision, but that can only be done on men. So, how were women handled? Were they in by marriage? By virtue of their parents? What about single female gentile converts?

Thanks for all of your work.

RS: First by paternity. In the OT, a man more or less owned his daughter, and he "sold" her when she got married. Being under his ownership meant that she was within the covenant he held to.

Question 84Geocentrism Question

Hi Robert,

I was wondering if this 'experiment' might prove whether the earth is turning on its axis or whether the universe is turning around the earth.

Imagine a camera pointed towards the earth.

And this camera is sent straight up into space, still pointing towards the earth (making an effort only to focus at the same *absolute* point where it started, but not making any effort at tracking that point as it rotates away).

IOW, if it was launched from Florida, it does not make an effort to keep its crosshairs at Florida, but only straight down below (which maybe after a couple of hours is Louisiana).

This camera must keep going straight up into space.

Now, if the earth was spinning on its axis, and the universe was relatively static, then the camera (still zoming straight up into space) should be recording that the earth was spinning on its axis on a 24 hour basis.

One the other hand, if it was the universe spinning around the earth, then the camera would lose focus of the earth (because the camera is now rotating around the earth and does not make any effort to keep focusing to any specific point on the earth). The camera should only get the earth back into the picture after 24 hours.

If that's hard to understand, here's an illustration.

Imagine you have a videocam and you shoot straight at your daughter. There's a mountain far behind her. You keep your focus on the mountain, but since your daughter is between you and the mountain, you have her in your crosshairs and you can see her.

Then you ask your daughter to spin around in her axis. You keep pointing to the mountain behind her. Notice that your daughter does not disappear from the picture.

Now, to simulate a rotating universe, you tell your daughter to stop spinning, and you start walking around her, keeping the camera focused straight ahead. Notice that after about a quarter of the way around her, your daughter is no longer visible in the camera, but once you walk back to where you start from she's visible again.

The key thing is keeping the camera focused to a fixed (imaginary) point and not have it roate on its axis.

I wonder if this can prove/disprove geocentrism.


R. Sungenis: Francis, if the universe is rotating it is going to carry the camera with it in the same 24 hour time, position and angle as when the Earth is rotating and the universe is fixed, thus there would be no difference between the two.

There was an experiment performed in 1871 by George Biddell Airy which is somewhat similar to what you are suggesting, and for all intents and purposes, it showed a geocentric universe. Airy used two telescopes mounted side by side, but one was filled with water instead of air. He pointed the telescopes at a star. He expected that if the earth were revolving around the sun and rotating on its axis, the light coming into the telescope with water would refract the light more than the air-filled telescope, since the light would take longer to travel through the air. But Airy found that the light in the water telescope did not refract that light to any greater degree. This meant that the star's light was coming directly overhead and was not curtailed by the motion of the earth. The proper interpretation of this is that the earth is not moving.

Question 83Garrigou-Lagrange

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I was curious to know if you have read the book Predestination by Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange. If so, how did you find it - readable? faithful to Catholic teaching? etc.?

Thank you,
Mr. Joseph Pietras

R. Sungenis:Yes, Joseph, I've read it. I though it was a good book to continue the discussion, but he leaned a little too heavy on the predestination side without the proper balance with the free will side. The temptation with each author is to try to explain the polarity, and thus they will invariably lean to one pole or the other. I've concluded after 30 years of studying this issue that we only know the components but are helpless to put them all together to the degree that will satisfy all parties involved.

Question 82Does Luke 1:48 only refer to Mary being happy?

I'm busy finding some verses for my SDA sister. The strong's concordance says that the "blessed" in the magnificate (all generations shall call me blessed" is the same word that means more or less happy or fortunate (blessed are the poor in spirit). Not the "blessed" that means to praise. Is strongs correct?

Thank you,

R. Sungenis: The Greek has two words for what we tranalate as "blessed." The work makarios and the word eulogeo. The former is used in passages such as Mt 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit..." It can be applied to both God (1 Tim 1:11; 6:15) and man (Jm 1:12). This is the word used in Luke 1:48 for Mary.

The other word, eulogeo and its derivatives, is applied to both God and man, and is more the word we would associate with "praise" or adjulation of some type.

Eulogeo is used both of Mary and Christ in Luke 1:28 ("and blessed are you among woman") and 1:42 ("blessed is the fruit of thy womb").

The derivative of eulogeo, which is eulogetos, is used often of God (cf., Lk 1:68; 2Co 1:3; Eph 1:3).

So, as you can see, makarios and eulogeo are often interchangeable, and both can be applied to God or man, so it would be fallacious to say that because Mary is addressed with makarios in Lk 1:48 she is just being given the disposition of happiness and not some type of praise (although in Catholic theology we distinguish between "latria" praise give to God and "hyperdulia" praise given to Mary).

Question 81Bush/Kerry cousens???

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I noticed in your May 31, 2005 Remnant article; "The New World Order and the Neo-Catholic Connection" that in addition to Bush and Kerry being members of secret Skull and Bones Masonic Order, the comment that "Bush and Kerry are distant cousins."

We would love to know the source of of the cousins relationship. Can you forward same?

Thanks in advance and God bless you and yours and the work you are doing.

John De Friend

R. Sungenis: Here is the information you seek:

By Matt Sedensky
The Associated Press
Updated: 1:29 p.m. ET Feb. 17, 2004

HONOLULU - Democratic presidential candidates are constantly being compared to the current commander in chief. Now, two genealogy buffs say they have proof President Bush and the current Democratic front-runner share similarities thicker than water.

Bruce and Kristine Harrison, Hawaii-based publishers of historical databases, traced back the family histories of Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

The result? They're cousins.

Well, 16th cousins, three times removed, to be exact. But cousins, nonetheless.

Truth be told, one might find such distant family ties between Bush and any of the four other major Democratic candidates.

The link between the president and the Rev. Al Sharpton might date back a bit further, Bruce Harrison said, but tracing ancestries helps illuminate a greater message on human interconnectedness.

"I believe everybody on the planet is related if you go back far enough," said Harrison, 51, whose Millisecond Publishing in Kamuela puts out a line of ancestral history CDs. He and his wife have spent the last eight years compiling information from hundreds of genealogical books and periodicals. "We're setting the stage for others to explore their curiosity," he said.

Other big-name ancestors

Harrison says the search through family trees also turned up other big-name ancestors of Kerry and Bush. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is the president's ninth cousin, twice removed, while Kerry can count Johnny Appleseed as his sixth cousin, six times removed. Both the president and the Massachusetts senator can claim ties to figures ranging from Charlemagne to Walt Disney to Marilyn Monroe, Harrison said.

For an average user of the Family Forest software, it could be more difficult to find such well-known links, but Harrison says he believes everyone can find some ancestral information in the database.

As for the political adversaries' kinship, the only reunion in store seems to be a debate, should Kerry win his party's nomination. A Bush campaign spokeswoman said she had no comment on the issue. A message left with Kerry's spokesman was not returned.

The Honolulu County Genealogical Society's Mary Ann Bolton said she wasn't too impressed with those who troll family trees looking for star-studded connections.

"I don't really put too much into that," she said. "That's just bragging rights."

Harrison said his motivation in finding the link wasn't political, nor was it purely curiosity. Since publicizing the Bush-Kerry relation, the number of daily visits to his Web site has more than tripled.


Question 80Mr. Staples and Vatican II

I just read both dialogues that you had with Tim Staples about Vatican II. After analyzing it, I have a couple of questions I would like to ask. You both seem to agree that Vatican II is an Ecumenical council and it's teachings are infallible because of the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

I think the point at which you both disagree is: What are the teachings of Vatican II and how can we properly interpret the documents of the Council?

It is my understanding that your answer to the 2nd question was that the council is to be interpreted in light of the other councils and magisterial teaching of the Church. Because Vatican II didn't make any extraordinary dogmatic statements by Paul VI's own testimony, this seems to be the obvious solution. If anybody interprets Vatican II contrary to previous Church teaching, then that person is wrong.

I think what Mr. Staples was getting at was if someone interprets Vatican II contrary to the reigning Pope than that person is "like a Protestant" even if the Pope's interpretation may include God's dual covenant with Christians and Jews, the blessing of the religion of Islam, praying with pagan's, etc. Mr. Staples seems to think that the Pope is infallible in everything idea he holds and if it seems to contradict previous Church teaching then it falls under the category of development of doctrine. If you disagree with the Pope's teaching on Ecumenism, than you separate from the Holy Father and make yourself the Magisterium.

My questions are:
1) What is 'development of doctrine' and why do many of John Paul II's teachings not fall under this category?

2) Are we free to reject John Paul II's interpretation of Vatican II when it supports his ideas of ecumenism? Doesn't that make us "like Protestants" as Mr. Staples suggested?

3) It is a settled matter that the teachings of Vatican II are infallible. Doesn't the Pope have the full and singular authority to infallibly interpret the teachings of the Council and all other Church teachings? How does he exercise this authority and did John Paul II ever exercise this authority to support his ecumenical ideas.

I'm very confused with the teachings of the Council and many of the actions and statements of John Paul II. I wish Mr. Staples and other Catholic apologists would stop being so defensive for the Holy Father and recognize that there is a problem with the teachings of the Council.

The problem is that humble, uneducated lay persons in the Church, such as myself, don't understand what exactly the Council teaches and it is very demoralizing. Why is the Church today punishing the laity with ambiguous teaching? Why don't they clearly state their teaching in Canons like councils past so that we could confidently adhere to Church teaching? I feel like the laity are being sold out into confusion for the sake of those who reject the Church's authority.

I appreciate what you do at Catholic apologetics international because your priority is to clarify Catholic doctrine. I am sad that the Vatican doesn't seem to share that priority these days.

God Bless,
Christopher and Shannon Stokes

R. Sungenis: Christopher and Shannon, thank you for your concern. I, too, share your concern. The problem many of us have is in trying to understand the balance or dynamic between the Church's overall indefectibility, on the one hand, and the possibility that the Church, temporarily and in the majority, can drift away from the truth.

We saw early on in our history in the Arian crisis that it is certainly possible for most of the Church to go down the wrong track, at least temporarily. Almost all the bishops, including Pope Liberius, were being swayed by the Arian doctrine (probably the most heretical doctrine the Church has ever faced, since it denied Christ's deity).

The wonderful thing about the Catholic Church, however, is that it eventually straightens things out and reasserts the truth. It took almost five centuries to finally squash the Arian onslaught. In this way the Church is "indefectible," since Christ will always lead the Church to truth. He does so in an immediate way whenever the Church declares defined dogma.

But, of course, this just begs the question, for if Christ shows us through the Arian heresy that the Church can be heavily infiltrated by false doctrine, our day is certainly not immune from such occurrences. So, whether it's pope or prelate, there is always the possibility of someone doing something wrong, or teaching something wrong.

Can the pope wrongly interpret Vatican II, or some other Catholic dogma? To say "No" to that question would mean the pope is always infallible or that he is just like God, and that is certainly not the case. Vatican I says the pope is infallible only in certain very special cases.

The right interpretation to a council or other Catholic dogma is based on the pope's personal fidelity to the Catholic religion. Having a pope, we take it for granted that he will be faithful and provide us the right interpretation, but we have no guarantee that he will do so, for on a temporary or individual basis a pope can be unfaithful and in error. A pope can be unfaithful to his high calling, and it will take a pope coming after him to heal what he has broken.

In the days of Honorius, for example, his error in doctrine persisted for forty years until two popes after him decided to check into his deliberations and condemn his statements and procedures. For the most part, however, popes throughout history have been faithful to their calling.

Councils can also be problematic. Some of the Churches councils were superfluous (Council of Constantinople); some don't reach the level of binding doctrine (Council of Valence); some fail to make definitive and final judgments (Council of Florence on the Canon of Scripture); some are incomplete (Vatican I), and some are too verbose and contain an inordinate number of confusing and ambiguous statements (Vatican II). The only time we can be absolutely sure that a Council is giving us infallible truth is when it puts its decrees in the form of Canons, and those Canons are affirmed, in official writing, by the reigning pope. There is no higher authority on this Earth, except an ex cathedra statement by a pope, and they are very rare.

The other side of the story, however, is that no one can claim that Vatican II has dogmatic error for two reasons: (a) Vatican II does not claim to present Catholic dogma (except as it reiterates tradition) and (b) it is almost impossible to conclude that an ambiguous statement is in error.

Unfortunately, Edward Schillebeeckx, one of the attendees at Vatican II, stated quite plainly that he and his liberal theologians put a mine-field of ambiguous statements all over Vatican II so that when it came time to interpreting the documents, they could slant them to their liberal agenda, and that is the main problem we are having today, and it is not limited to theologians, but also to high-placed Cardinals and sometimes the Pope himself.

The problem between Mr. Staples and I centers more around how we are going to approach these anomalies. Mr. Staples seems to be of the mentality that one is to downplay the anomalies as much as possible, otherwise, you appear disloyal to the Catholic Church. As a true "apologist," Mr. Staples has the tendency to gloss over the Church's problems. I understand. For one thing, he is still living in the honeymoon of his conversion, and the Protestantism from which he came certainly is much worse than the problems in the Catholic Church today.

As for me, ever since the signing of the Joint Declaration on Justification in 1998, which included the statement "Men are faith alone" as affirmed by both Catholics and Lutherans, I knew something was grievously wrong with the pontificate of John Paul II. It took me out of the honeymoon of my conversion very quickly, especially since the JD came right after I just published a book titled: "Not By Faith Alone."

The gathering of Assisi II in 2002, and the clerical sex scandal, just added more disillusionment with John Paul II. Mr. Staples' comment in defense of Assisi didn't help matters much either, since he resorted to saying (as you probably remember reading in the dialogue) that:

"It is acceptable for pagans to pray to their false gods."

This is the extreme that some Catholic apologists have to bend today to support the pontificate of John Paul II. I simply cannot bend that far, and thus, it was time to reassess my understanding of the Church, and this brought me to a more realistic understanding -- the one that I have described in my opening paragraphs.

Mr. Staples and I will never see eye-to-eye on this issues as long as he is willing to excuse all of John Paul II's behavior. The main problem with apologetic stances such as his is that, he knows that once he levels one criticism of John Paul II, his consituents will jump all over him, and he also knows that afterward there will really be no limit to the criticism he can levy. That is why people like Mr. Staples will die the death before they admit that John Paul II made any theological mistakes, and it is the same reason that they make such bellicose rantings against apologists like myself who have already crossed that line. But when one has to stoop to saying that it is "acceptable for pagans to pray to their false gods," then each apologists must make his own decision how far he is going to carry his apologetics.

Unfortunately, a pope as radical as John Paul II does not make the decision very easy, and in a way, I feel a lot of compassion for Catholic apologists today who struggle with what to do about John Paul II. They know deep in their gut that things like the Joint Declaration and Assisi and altar girls are wrong. They are very sensitive to these kinds of issues because almost all of the current crop of apologists were fighting similar issues when they were Protestants, and they were each are very sensitive to the slightest deviation from truth. This sensitivity to truth is precisely what led them out of Protestantism into Catholicism.

But now they see prelates and popes in the Catholic Church doing some of the same things they condemned in the Protestant denominations, and thus they are forced to make a radical decision. Do they condemn these Catholic innovations or do they defend them? What makes one person defend them and another person condemn them is very complicated, and I am not going to judge their motives, but the decision of which way to go will inevitably hit each Catholic apologist, and he will find himself on one side of the fence or the other.

Mr. Staples and I are representatives of the two respective decisions in this regard. I would say that people like Scott Hahn, Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid, Steve Ray and Dave Armstrong have also understood what is at stake and have thus made the same decision as Mr. Staples -- no public criticism of John Paul II, no matter how bad what he did appears to be. That is their decision, and God will be their judge, not me. I have made my decision, and I do so with good conscience and with the knowledge that I, too, will one day stand before God's judgment seat.

Question 79Response to Schoeman, Salvucci and Sue

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

My goodness, I didn't think my e-mail to Edgar merited this much attention. But it seems that my attempt to be charitable about the motives and agenda of Schoeman and other "Catholic Hebrews" was not based on facts.

I read much of Schoeman's book, but never finished it because I found his promotion of Zionism repugnant. I did read his conversion account at the end, and it seemed quite genuine, hence the desire to be charitable...

You make your case pretty well, that I was wrong and that the agenda of Schoeman et al. does involve a new version of Judaizing. I'm glad you are tackling the issue.


R. Sungenis: Sue, thanks for the commendation. I could tell by reading your piece that (a) you were an intelligent person, but (b) were missing some important pieces to the puzzle.

It's easy to get off track in such cases, since Jewish converts seems to carry an aura about them, and some of them take full advantage of it. In fact, I don't think I've read such a blatantly Zionist approach to the world before I came across Schoeman's book. Unfortunately, EWTN and Ignatius Press have gobbled it up without even reading the whole book.

God be with you.

Question 78Re: Question 31

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I read your response to question 31 with great interest. I will quote the second paragraph:

"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."

Have you read any of Deitrich von Hildebrand's works regarding the distinction between intellect, will AND affective responses, i.e., that affective "emotional" responses like love are not simply a composition of intellect and will?

If Dr. von Hildebrand's thesis, which dealt with the human person in this regard, can be extended to Theology, it would provide helpful input to this discussion, I think. For, it seems that love, hate, joy and many other such realities which Dr. von Hildebrand analysizes from the human side, are somehow analogous to what Scripture says of God in this regard.

Comments? Suggestions for further reading?

God bless,


R. Sungenis: Jonathan, yes, I am quite familiar with von Hildebrand's work in this regard, and it certainly does support what I'm saying.

Emotion is one of the areas the von Hildebrand developed from a more phenomenological approach to emotion than Aquinas' metaphysics. Metaphysics doesn't have a separate category for emotion, thus they deny it in God, and if it ever comes up in discussion, it is noted as a human affect without any real value.

This is the same way Thomas treated sex, merely as a biological process for procreation but with little, if any, unitive value or as an expression of love. Von Hildebrand approach emotion, as much of phenomenology does with other things, as a phenomenon in itself, not as simply a symptom or appendage of a larger metaphysical category.

Thanks for your input.

Question 77Romans 5:12

Hello, I am reading your book "Not by bread alone" and have this question.

Does the atonement appease God's wrath against just adults who choose to sin or even infants who cant sin. Is God angry even with that part of humanity that is incapable of sinning? Or is Gods wrath only towards those who willing choose to sin?

Thank you and God Bless

R. Sungenis: God's wrath is against all men who are descendants of Adam. We have all been given the curse of sin and death, and this includes infants as well as adults. If this were not the case, then God would not have cursed infants with sin (Original Sin) and death.

However, being merciful, God gives each person, including infants, a way to escape His wrath. Those who spurn that mercy, namely, adults, will suffer a proportional increase in God's wrath, which is why the Church and Scripture speak of degrees of punishment in hell.

Question 76Stay out of Politics

Dear Mr Sungenis,

I think you're an excellent apologist, but when it comes to politics and other social matters, you're hopeless.

Your recent commentaries on the Neoconservative movement and its relationship with the Catholic Church refer. You say, " Catholic doctrine, preemptive war is never justified...", but this is a lie, and you know it. Read the principles of the Just War Doctrine again. Preemptive war can be justified in some cases, but not preventative war. This is very clear. The War on Terror is a just war, that much we can agree on. The question therefore is this: are state-sponsors of terror legitimate targets in the War on Terror? Absolutely. You know this. You and others like E. Michael Jones (whom I have trememdous respect for) fail to identify the real promoters of 'messianic politics' and the attack on roots: it is not George Bush and his cabinet, it is the mass media and the courts. Those are the real culprits of using "freedom" and "liberty" to justify atrocoties. You know this!

Stay out of politics (but please keep the apologetics going!)

Deneys Williamson (18)
South Africa

R. Sungenis: I'm supposed to stay out of politics because I happen not to agree with your view of politics? Come now, Deneys, you can't get rid of me that easily. The point of my "political" commentary is to show the other side of the story in this "war on terror." If people will kindly look at the terror that Israel itself has sponsored since 1948, as it ruthlessly killed Palestinians all in the name of "divine land ownership," then the playing field would be even.

The terror from the Muslims arises whenever the US and Israel try to force their will on the Arab/Muslim people. That has been the pattern established at least since 1980.

And did it ever occur to you that they don't want our "democracy" and "capitalism," seeing as how decadant it has made us? Did it ever occur to you that they would like to keep their oil and sell it to us, rather than have us confiscate it under the guise of the "war on terror"? The Muslims aren't stupid.

Yes, we have every right to fight their "terror" and I pray to God we can stop them, but I can tell you this: as long as the US keeps badgering the Arabs and helping Israel take more of their land, they will keep sending the suicide bombers. They have an unlimited supply of them.

As for "preemptive" war, two popes, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have condemned the present war philosophy of the Bush administration. If you have an ecclesial documents to the contrary, then, by all means, produce them. Until then, I'm in good company.

On another note, I'm glad you like my apologetics. More to come. Stay tuned.

Question 75Robert Sungenis Responds to Karl Keating 2

Why not try considering geocentrism based on the facts rather than counting the number of people who hold the view?

Karl Keating
Mark, I actually have considered geocentrism on its merits--and have found it wanting.

I almost certainly am the only person discussing it on Catholic web sites who actually took in college a class that largely focused on geocentrism. The class was taught by Curtis Wilson, who widely is considered the country's expert on the development of Kepler's theories.

In the class we used Tycho Brahe's data, plotted the courses of the planets (cycles, epicycles, and so on), worked out the equations, and saw that the data--much more accurate than earlier data--showed the untenability of the theory.

Of all the classes I took in college, the only one I kept materials from was this one. I still have squirreled away the mimeographed pages that Prof. Wilson used with us (and that later became part of a book he wrote).

I am not aware of any current proponent of geocentrism who has used Tycho's data or, for that matter, who has the mathematical skills to use the data.
As much as I might like to donate toward the perfection of Phil's social graces, I can't see how it could be worthwhile participating in a contest in which there is no independent judge. Now, if the $1,000 were irrevocably on deposit with a neutral party empowered to render a decision and distribute the funds ...

As for that class I took, I'm not sure which model we used. (It's been more than 30 years, and I haven't looked at those mimeographed sheets for a long time.) Perhaps it was the one Tycho himself used. On the other hand, inasmuch as Prof. Wilson was the top man in Kepler studies, perhaps we used Keplerian orbits.

Anyway, at the end of the exercise Prof. Wilson, who must have been aware of both models and of other models, was quite content to say that the geocentrism failed, based on Tycho's data. I am comfortable relying on his authority now, even if I don't have a present recollection of how we students drew our own, concurring conclusion from the data all those years ago.

R. Sungenis: Hmmm. So Karl has one course from one professor some 30 years ago from notes that he hasn’t even looked at in 30 years and Karl thinks he’s now such an expert on cosmology that he can boast of a proof for heliocentrism and a denial of any competing theory? Don't we wish everything was as easy.

Unfortunately for Karl, I’ve got some bad news for him. Kepler’s model doesn’t work either. It is only a close approximation, despite his addition of elliptical orbits. Moreover, if the same elliptical orbits were applied to Tycho’s model, then Tycho’s model would be on the same level of accuracy. (Tycho didn’t know of elliptical orbits because Kepler didn’t discover them until after he murdered Tycho and stole Tycho’s 40-years worth of celestial notes from Tycho’s family). More about that in my upcoming book.

The ellipses merely helped both the heliocentric and geocentric models understand that planetary orbits were not necessarily perfect circles, opposed to Aristotle’s “crystalline spheres” (although some are very close to perfect circles). Interestingly enough, Kepler was not the first to introduce elliptical orbits of the planets. That honor belongs to the Greeks. As Koestler notes: “There exist some fragmentary remains, dating from the first century AD, of a small-sized Greek planetarium – a mechanical model designed to reproduce the motions of sun, moon, and perhaps also of the planets. But its wheels, or at least some of them, are not circular – they are egg-shaped [footnote: Ernst Zinner, Entstehung und Ausbreitung der Copernicanischen Lehre (Erlangen, 1943), p. 48]. A glance at the orbit of Mercury in the Ptolemaic system on p. 71 shows a similar egg-shaped curve staring into one’s face” (The Sleepwalkers, pp. 80-81).

Let’s take a closer look at Kepler’s model. Here is Sir Fred Hoyle, one of the 20th centuries most prominent celestial mechanics, commenting on Kepler’s model:

“The planetary orbits are not strictly ellipses, as we have so far taken them to be, because one planet disturbs the order of another through the gravitational force that it exerts…. In all cases the orbits are nearly circles…. It is curious that although the actual orbits do not differ in shape much from circles the errors of a circular model can nevertheless be quite large. Indeed, errors as large as this were quite unacceptable to Greek astronomers of the stature of Hipparchus and Ptolemy. It was this, rather than prejudice, which caused them to reject the simply heliocentric theory of Aristarchus…. The Hipparchus theory grapples with the facts whereas the circular picture of Aristarchus fails to do so…. The theory of Ptolemy, a few minor imperfections apart, worked correctly to the first order in explaining the planetary eccentricities. Copernicus with his heliocentric theory had to do at least as well as this, which meant that he had to produce something much better than the simple heliocentric picture of Aristarchus….”

“Kepler achieved improvements, but not complete success, and always at the expense of increasing complexity. Kepler and his successors might well have gone on in this style for generations without arriving at a satisfactory final solution, for a reason we now understand clearly. There is no simple mathematical expression for the way in which the direction of a planet – its heliocentric longitude – changes with time. Even today we must express the longitude as an infinite series of terms when we use time as the free variable. What Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Kepler, in his early long calculations, were trying to do was to discover by trial and error the terms of this series. Since the terms become more complicated as one goes to higher orders in the eccentricity, the task became successively harder and harder” (Fred Hoyle, Nicolaus Copernicus: An Essay on his Life and Work, New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1973, pp. 73, 8, 9, 53, 11-12, 13-14, in the order of my ellipses).

Following the biblical rule, we will call at least two or three witnesses to the forum. Here is a professor of celestial mechanics at Columbia University, Charles Lane Poor:

“From the time of Newton, it has been known that Kepler’s laws are mere approximations, computer’s fictions, handy mathematical devices for finding the approximate place of a planet in the heavens. They apply with greater accuracy to some planets than to others. Jupiter and Saturn show the greatest deviations from strictly elliptical motion. The latter body is often nearly a degree away from the place it would have been had its motion about the sun been strictly in accord with Kepler’s laws. This is such a large discrepancy that it can be detected by the unaided eye. The moon is approximately half a degree in diameter, so that the discrepancy in the motion of Saturn is about twice the apparent diameter of the moon. In a single year, during the course of one revolution about the sun, the earth may depart from the theoretical ellipse by an amount sufficient to appreciably change the apparent place of the sun in the heavens” (Gravitation versus Relativity, p. 129).

Suffice it to say, Karl, you have been misinformed.
Now on the infamous “soy sauce” incident, Karl now says:

K. Keating: No, no. It's all disinformation. Catholic Answers does not have a soy sauce test.

Really, now. Give us some credit! Do you really think that an apostolate like Catholic Answers would make its hiring decisions based on how someone uses soy sauce?

No, we are much more sophisticated than that. Getting hired by Catholic Answers is conditioned on whether the prospective employee is able to sing "Ya Got Trouble!" from "The Music Man."

Now that's what I call a rational test!

And with that we'll declare this thread closed.

R. Sungenis: Disinformation? Karl has already admitted to the fact that the soy sauce incident actually occurred, so now it’s just a matter of who is telling the truth. Either Keating is lying to me, or Madrid lied to me 12 years ago. Either way, how would I ever have known of a different criterion for what it took to get hired at Catholic Answers, since Karl Keating never bothered to call or write me to explain why I wasn’t hired or what the criterion actually was? He let Madrid do the dirty work for him. And logically, why would Madrid make up a story about me not getting hired because Karl came to him and said “Bob put soy sauce on his rice,” if it wasn’t true? Wouldn’t that be a risky venture if it wasn’t true, knowing that I might talk to Karl afterward? Wouldn’t it have been simpler to say, “Sorry, Bob, Karl isn’t going to hire you?” In any case, I suggest Mr. Madrid come forward and tell us his version of what happened.


Question 74 God cannot lie?

A question(s), please explain, or point me to one of your articles that explains the following- I understand and believe God cannot lie (ie- sin); how is he then all-powerful? I assume God is all-powerful, is that a correct assumption? I understand he cannot make a squared-circle, as that is a contradiction (a lie), nor can he create a rock too big for Him to lift. But if he cannot lie, how is he all-powerful? There IS something he CANNOT do...... Does this tie into the Devil being the Father of Lies/broken promises Is this a 'mystery', not unlike predestination AND free will? Does the answer have anything to do with the nature of sin (a separation from God), thus God cannot be separate from Himself? I have someone asking me this question, and I think I am almost on the right track, but I do not feel I am giving the most correct answer. Please help when you
have time.

R. Sungenis: Jason, in regards to your question, we need to define "Almighty" before we proceed. In regards to God, everything is measured in terms of good or evil. It is the ultimate measurement. That is why he keeps telling us he is holy, righteous, etc, etc. Power to do something is not the ultimate measurement. There is a hierarchy of truths, and goodness is at the top, and power is beneath it.

So when we say God is "Almighty" it means he is able to do anything that is good and righteous.

If we did not define "Almighty" in this way, then it would include evil things. We could say, well, because God can't steal from someone, or because he can't rape someone, or because he can't murder, then he is not Almighty.
This works out very well for us practically, for when we get into a situation where we question God's integrity, we can always rest ourselves on the foundation that God is righteous and cannot do anything wrong.

For example, yesterday I was watching the news concerning the starving children in Niger who are dying. I said to myself, these children are so innocent, so undeserving of this torture, why does God allow it to go on year after year? But the answer always comes back, God is Righteous. Thus we start from that foundation with every difficult question we have in life. If we didn't do this, then we would start to question God, and once we do that we eventually lose our faith. Life can be relatively easy to understand once we settle in our minds that God never lies and always does what is good. There is a reason why those children are starving, and it is God's righteous reason that cannot be questioned.


Question 73Are these reputable, traditional Catholic sources wrong about the Atonement?

Forgive me if this is the wrong e-mail address to send questions to, but it is the only one I could find on your site.

Anyway, after reading some of your articles, especially The Theological Underpinnings of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” Why Did Jesus Have to Undergo Such an Excruciating Death? you seem to stress that every pain and drop of blood of our Lord "were all calculated, expected and necessary to serve as a propitiatory sacrifice to God the Father . . "

In that regard I was wondering if the following statements from a reputable Catholic book copyrighted in 1940 are at all contradictory to your assertion, or if I am possibly missing something that I should know.

From Outlines of Religion for Catholic Youth - Volume I by Rev. E. G. Rosenberger; Nihil Obstat by Gulielmus F. Kearny (Censor Deputatus); Imprimatur by +Mauritius F. McAuliffe (Episcopus Hartfordiensis).

"II. The Example of His life was to be an important aid to us in gaining Heaven. He became man to teach men how to become like Him:

(1) He chose to endure much more than was necessary even perfectly [sic.] to satisfy divine justice. A single drop of His Precious Blood would have been sufficient to save all men for all time. The world needed badly the ideal of a beautiful life and a perfect character as its model." (pp. 75-76)
"II. His death on the cross was the price paid to redeem us:

(2) Because the Redeemer was God, every act that He performed was infinite and could have been offered as the ransom. Instead, he chose to offer His very life, which was the most he could offer." (pp. 92-93)

"I. Satisfaction: By His death the Redeemer satisfied divine justice.

(2) This satisfaction was:

[A] Full Payment: .
[B] For all time: .
[C] Vicarious: Christ took out place and bore the curse that was upon us." (pg. 93)

I of course jumped around the book and took things out of context, but some of what is stated is still pretty clear. Particularly the point that because Jesus was God, any suffering in the least of His could technically appease God for all sin is one that I have always found to make completely logical sense. Additionally, it is a point that I have come across in many old Catholic books (c. 1920-1950) by many respectable and approved authors.

So, I was wondering how to reconcile the two seemingly different ideas about the Passion of our Lord. I would really appreciate an answer, but if you can't (or if I sent it to the wrong e-mail address) just know that I find much of your work very helpful and informative.
Thanks a lot,
Andrew C.

R. Sungenis: Andrew, yes, there are a lot of problems with the above statements. Most of them are assumed as true but without any Catholic dogma or Scripture behind them. Let me go through them with you.
He writes:

(1) He chose to endure much more than was necessary even perfectly [sic.] to satisfy divine justice. A single drop of His Precious Blood would have been sufficient to save all men for all time. The world needed badly the ideal of a beautiful life and a perfect character as its model." (pp. 75-76)

R. Sungenis: No, a single drop of blood would not have been sufficient, and the mere suggestion of it makes a mockery of the Atonement. God required Christ's death, nothing less. Unfortunately, a single drop of blood would not have terminated Christ's life. Christ endured what the Father required. There was no choice in the matter for Christ. That's what the Garden of Gethsemane was all about. Once Christ committed himself, he had to suffer precisely what the Father had requested.
He writes:

"II. His death on the cross was the price paid to redeem us:

(2) Because the Redeemer was God, every act that He performed was infinite and could have been offered as the ransom. Instead, he chose to offer His very life, which was the most he could offer." (pp. 92-93)

R. Sungenis: Not quite. Some theologians throw the word "infinite" around with abandon, but they hardly know what it means or how it applies, if at all. Besides, it doesn't mean anything to say "every act was infinite." Was Christ walking the streets of Jerusalem an "infinite" act? Hardly. What we know for certain is that Scripture says Christ's death was required by the Father. If there was no death there would be no Atonement, period.
He writes:

"I. Satisfaction: By His death the Redeemer satisfied divine justice.
(2) This satisfaction was:

[A] Full Payment: .
[B] For all time: .
[C] Vicarious: Christ took our place and bore the curse that was upon us." (pg. 93)

R. Sungenis: Most of this is right out of the Protestant playbook, and I'm sorry to say that a number of Catholics say the same above statements without even knowing they are supporting Protestant theology. Christ's death was not vicarious. That is Protestant. It was Propitiatory. That is Catholic. Moreover, Christ did not make "payment," rather, he offered himself as a sacrifice to appease the Father's wrath, which are both voluntary acts.

Payment" on the other hand is a legal transaction that requires involuntary committment, but that is not the Catholic concept of the relationship between the Father and the Son. The "Payment" concept is Protestant through and through.

I suggest you read my book Not By Bread Alone for a true understanding of the Catholic theology of the Atonement.


Question 72Can the pope change doctrine?


I am curious if the Pope can change or alter church doctrine. Is this true? Thank you for your answer.

R. Sungenis: If "Church doctrine" is understood as that which the Church has officially and infallibly taught throughout its tradition, then the answer is no. The pope may give his personal opinion (which may be in error), but he cannot offically change or alter Church doctrine. The only thing he may do is add a clarification on a previous doctrine.


Question 71TULIP

Have you written anything about the differences in Catholic teaching and those who believe in TULIP? Please direct me to the appropriate place in your web site and your books.

R. Sungenis: Amy, I've included chapters on the topic in Not By Faith Alone, Chapter 7, and How Can I Get to Heaven, Chapter 8. I hope that helps.


Question 70Is Islam a 'religion of peace'?

I have been fascinated with your writings about the Zionist-NeoCon agenda. I have always felt strange about our country's unquestioned support of the Jewish state. I even remember being told as a Protestant that if I opposed Israel than I opposed Christ. But I have not heard any criticism of Islam for its role in suicide bombings that target civilians. After reading about Islam, it seems to me that 9-11, the suicide bombings in London and Madrid, and other suicide attacks by Muslim terrorists are acceptable under the Islamic religion even if individual Imams don't support such attacks. Is Islam any more peaceful than Zionism? They seem to share the same idea (manifest destiny) and both use violent means (war/conquest) to obtain their "promised land" (Israel/Dar al-Islam). It seems to me that this clash of cultures can only end with one group annihilating the other unless both groups change their religious views.

R. Sungenis: The Moslems are dead wrong in their suicide attacks, and their Islamic religion is no better than the Jews or Judaism. But the history of their suicide bombings has one definitive pattern: whenever the West (e.g., the United States and Great Britian) seeks to make "democratic" incursions into Moslem/Arab territory, the suicide bombings begin. This has been the pattern at least since 1980. If the West would stop trying to take over the Middle East, the suicide bombings would stop. The Moslem/Arabs will fight to the death to preserve their territory, their religion and their fortunes.


Question 69UFO's

I am a Bible believing Catholic and do not believe that life exists elsewhere in the universe. I know that 99.9% of UFO sightings are mistakes, hoaxes, vivid imaginations, etc. However, I do feel that a few people have seen something real, and I believe that what they see are demons trying to trick people into accepting alien life. These sightings are reported by those who wish the Bible would go away. How do you feel about this?
Yours in Christ,

B. Douglass: Lawrence,
Robert has delegated some of the Q&A workload to me, due to time constrints.

It is certainly possible that demonic activity is involved in some of the alleged UFO sightings. Experimental government aircraft could also be the cause. Who knows.

I concur that life does not exist elsewhere in the universe.
Ben Douglass


Question 68On SSA

Dear Ben,
Thank you very much for responding. However, I'm afraid there was confusion regarding my *initial* question. I very much *agree* that homosexuals should not be ordained; the dangerous problem of ephebophilia is one among many good reasons for this prohibition. My question, however, was the following:

Does CAI and/or yourself hold a position regarding those with SSA being fit in any fashion to take part in the NON-ORDAINED religious/consecrated life, *officially* taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience?

B. Douglass: Religious life could be a near occasion for sin for one with SSA, as he would be living with and surrounded by persons to whom he was sexually attracted. This could be like a monk living in a convent. However, provided that such an individual responded well to treatement, such that his SSA was significantly mitigated or even eliminated, he might be fit for monastic life.

Also, would CAI and/or yourself deem it imprudent for those with SSA to be lay teachers or professors of theology/philosophy? Apologists? Lay evangelists? If the given individuals are orthodox and traditional (and, of course, *well-behaved*), would not the grave crisis in the Church imply that the shortage of decent theologians in this our emergency state render allowable and recommended what in more tranquil times would be deemed unnecessary and therefore inadvisable?

B. Douglass: I see no reason why such a person could not be an apologist, teach at a university, or make public speaking engagements.

Thanks in advance, Ben, for your response! (Feel free to respond to my P.S., but I am mostly interested in receiving your input concerning the main body of my email.)
Sincerely in Christ,

P.S. I agree that ephebophilia is connected with certain forms of homosexuality. However, the vast majority of homosexuals, even those attracted to teenagers, can quite easily restrict themselves to those, say, over 18 years of age--presuming, of course, that they are not continually placed in situations where engaging in homosexual conduct is only feasible with those who are "under age". In our society, I would wager such situations are rare (indeed, it would seem relatively easy to seek out partners who are "legal"). One case remains the exception, however: the case of the "trusted parish priest". For such as these, sex with minors is more feasible than presenting oneself in gay areas or clubs where one would risk the possibility of being recognized. So, if one were to affirm that an (undisclosed) homosexual parish priest represents (by and large) a danger to minors, I would wholeheartedly agree. However, all things being equal, most homosexuals (absent being a parish priest or something similar) can easily find sexual partners that are "of age". Thus, the danger that run-of-the-mill homosexual persons pose to society seems analogous to the danger posed by heterosexuals with a somewhat stronger tendency towards fornication (than is usual).

B. Douglass: I don't think the evidence supports this conclusion. From the Homiletic and Pastoral Review article I directed you to: Zebulon, Silverthorne and Quinsey (2000) state “. . . all but 9 of the 48 homosexual men preferred the youngest two male age categories” for sexual activity, viz. fifteen and twenty years old. Blanchard et al (1999) concluded that “Pedophilia appears to have a greater than chance association with two other statistically infrequent phenomena. The first of these is homosexuality. . . Recent surveys estimate the prevalence of homosexuality, among men attracted to adults, in the neighborhood of 2%. In contrast, the prevalence of homosexuality among pedophiles may be as high as 30-40%.” Freund, Watson and Rienzo (1989) found that “. . . the proportion of sex offenders against male children among homosexual men is substantially larger than the proportion of sex offenders against female children among heterosexual men . . . the development of pedophilia is more closely linked with homosexuality than with heterosexuality.” Erickson et al (1988), in a study of 229 convicted child molesters found that 86% of pedophiles described themselves as homosexual or bisexual. Jay and Young (1979) revealed that 73% of all homosexuals have acted as “chicken hawks” — that is, they have preyed on adolescent or younger boys. Freund and Watson (1992) found that homosexual males are three times more likely than straight men to engage in pedophilia, and that the average pedophile victimizes between 20 and 150 boys before being arrested. Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg (1980) found that 25% of white homosexual men have had sex with boys sixteen years and younger.

A. Zebulon, Z.A. Silverthorne and Vernon L. Quinsey. “Sexual Partner Age Preferences of Homosexual and Heterosexual Men and Women.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, February 2000 [Volume 29, Number 1], pages 67 to 76.

Ray Blanchard, et. al. “Pedophiles: Mental Retardation, Maternal Age, and Sexual Orientation.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, Volume 28, Number 2, pages 111 to 127.

Kurt Freund, Robin Watson and Douglas Rienzo. “Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, and Erotic Age Preference.” Journal of Sex Research, February 1989 [Volume 26, Number 1], pages 107 to 117.

W.D. Erickson, et al. “Behavior Patterns of Child Molesters.” 17 Archives of Sexual Behavior 77, 83 (1988).

Karla Jay and Allen Young. The Gay Report: Lesbians and Gay Men Speak Out About Sexual Experiences and Lifestyles [Simon and Schuster, 1979], page 275.

K. Freund & R.I. Watson. “The Proportionsof Heterosexual and Homosexual Pedophiles Among Sex Offenders Against Children: An Exploratory Study.” 18 34, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 34-43 (1992).
Alan P. Bell, et. al., Institute for Sex Research. Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women [Simon and Schuster, 1980].

Not to mention sodomy is a more greivous sin than fornication, as it is one of the four sins that cry to heaven for vengeance.
Ben Douglass


Question 67Axiology

Hello, I have a question regarding the axiological argument for God's existence. It's my understanding that the argument is that objective absolute morality must come from God's eternal nature. My question is why can't someone hold to a non-theist platonic view with eternal forms and still hold to absolute morality? Thanks for your time.
All the best,

R. Sungenis: Because he won't know what the "eternal forms" are saying unless he judges them from his mundane experience. That's what Aristotle tried to tell Plato. Christianity solves the problem, since we know what the "eternal forms" are saying based on divine revelation.


Question 66Are Canonizations Infallible?


Are canonizations infallible? What about saints that were recognized as such in the early Church before formal procedures for canonization began (ie. the veneration of martyrs etc)?

-B M

R. Sungenis: The Church has never made a dogmatic declaration that canonizations are infallible. Up until this point, however, they have been assumed to be infallible, due to the nature of the issue.


Question 65Tradition

Hello Mr. Sungenis! I recently had a debate with a protestant friend of mine and now I have 2 questions for you.

1. What is meant by sacred Tradition (we believe in Scripture plus Tradition)

2. Also, I showed my friend Phillipians 2:12 out your salvation in fear and trembling. And told her that it is more than just having faith. We must work out, do something, to be saved. And also I told her that if all that was needed was an act of faith, then why would we need to tremble with fear? She told me that in the original Greek text fear and trembling is just like having awe and being in amazement. Since I don't know much Greek but you do, can you help me out with that verse?

Soldier in Christ,

PS Thanks for the Study Bible you gave me. I've been using it.

B. Douglass: Jaime,
Sacred Tradition is the body of teachings which has been handed down from Christ and the Apostles through the succession of bishops of the Catholic Church. It contains the totality of the Christian revelation (cf. CCC 81). Dei Verbum chapter II discusses the nature of Tradition at length.

The Greek word for fear in Phillipians 2:12 is phobos (from which we derive phobia), which can mean fear as we normally understand it (e.g. Matt 14:26; 28:4) or fear in the sense of reverence/awe (e.g. 1 Pet 2:18; 3:2, 15). The Haydock commentary on 1 John 4:18 does a good job in delineating in what sense a Christian should fear God and in what sense he should not: "By the fear, which a perfect charity and love of God excludes, we may understand a fear of temporal losses in this world, of the loss of goods, of banishment, of torments, of death itself, which the love of God made so many martyrs contemn; or an anxious servile fear of punishment in the next world, for the more perfect charity and the love of God is, so much the more doth it banish this imperfect and servile fear; but as perfect charity does not exclude a love, and constant desire of loving God as our last end, for whose enjoyment we were created, so it does not exlude a fear of displeasing, offending, or losing Him by sin. Wi. --Perfet charity, or love, banisheth human fear, that is, the fear of men; as also all perplexing fear, which makes men mistrust or despair of God's mercy; and that kind of servile fear, which makes them fear the punishment of sin more than the offense offered to God. But it no way excludes the wholesome fear of God's judgments, so often recommended in holy writ, nor that fear and trembling with which we are told to work out our salvation. Phil. ii. 12. Ch." Haydock Bible, p. 1621. In any case, the definition of fear in Phil 2:12 is not essential to your argument about justification. Whether it's in terror or reverential awe, one still works out one's salvation, according to the Bible, and in contradiction to Protestant theology.
Ben Douglass


Question 64About Congar and heresy

Hi, Robert and Ben,

Robert, I seem to remember that you thought Vatican II's documents were error-free. If you thought that, have you changed your mind, now that the news article has said that some of Congar's errors were introduced into Vatican II's documents? Sadly, even before I read that article, I believed that those documents contained some errors, and I still think they do.

Thanks so much.

God bless,

R. Sungenis: Not outright errors, but ambiguities that could easily lead one who reads the documents into making erroneous conclusions. Also, just for your information, the CAI News stories we put up do not necessarily reflect the views of CAI, although they often do.


Question 63I was dangerously close to converting to the Catholic Church

What I hadn’t mentioned in my last email was that I was dangerously close to converting to the Catholic Church. I thought I was on the right track and that God was answering my prayers. But reading the filth that is in the NAB has shown me what the Authority of the Church is teaching and where it is going. The fact that NAB Bibles are in every bookstore I go into is an indication that heretics are large and in charge in the Catholic Church. I have been missing it and need to hit my knees in repentance and ask the Lord for guidance. I am also concerned about the Church’s stance on “all men are going to be saved” and that Catholicism is no longer exclusive to the salvation of Jesus Christ. I can’t believe I almost fell into this garbage. I understand you were once Protestant. You need to take an unbiased and open-eyed look at where this institution is going. I had read the Church Fathers and was convinced that Catholicism was the true Church. It aint what it used to be, not even close. It has lost all concept of solid teaching about holiness, sin, salvation orthodoxy and way too many other issues. I’m not talking about breaking down words in statements, I’m talking about whole ideals and paradigms.

In my last email I mentioned the Magisterium authorized the NAB. Before you jump on me for that, I have read differently. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that it has been released and far too many will understand it as true. Obviously, Authority slipped somewhere and that’s not good. I’ve even consulted with a priest who stated that he didn’t believe that Christ was the narrow way and that if you loved God in your own way and lived in love, you were saved. I’m taking my deep faith in the risen Son of the Living God and staying right where I am.
Thanks for your time,

B. Douglass: Chip,
St. Pius X lamented as follows in Pascendi Dominici Gregis: "That We should act without delay in this matter is made imperative especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; but, what is to be most dreaded and deplored, in her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the less they keep in the open. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, and, what is much more sad, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who... put themselves forward as reformers of the Church." Certainly, today these words could be applied to members of the episcopacy as well. But again, this is not new to the Church. As you know during the Arian heresy the majority of the Catholic bishops denied the divinity of Christ. However, the authority of the Catholic Church has never made such pernicious errors part of Denzinger, as it were. Heresy has never infected the official, conscience binding teachings of the Roman See, despite whatever the private opinions of many of the bishops of the American Catholic Church and Cardinals Kasper and Daneels might be. Yes, heretics are "large and in charge" in many areas of the Catholic Church. But Christ is ultimately in charge which is why they will never succeed in overthrowing Catholic teaching on Biblical inerrancy, "holiness, sin, salvation orthodoxy and way too many other issues."
It appears that the Catholicism you were attracted to was something like the Catholicism of Bl. Pius IX, who could match the moral fury of Matthew 23 at times. While I agree that the leaders of the Church today tend to be much less forceful, at times even they can use very strong language in denouncing sin, as for example John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae. Rest assured, the Catholic Church still teaches what it has always taught about sin, its gravity, and its consequences. See the CCC Pars. 1849-69. Incidentally, if you want to examine a religious group that has changed its teaching on sin, look no farther than Protestantism, which was very much opposed to contraception until relatively recently, but has since conformed itself to the pressures of secualr culture.

You will find no official Catholic teaching that all men are giong to be saved. And the Catholic Church still teaches that she is necessary for salvation, in Lumen Gentium, the Catechism, and Dominus Iesus.

The priest with whom you spoke does not represent Catholic orthodoxy.
God Bless,
Ben Douglass


Question 62Institute of Christ the King

what can you tell me about the Priestly society of christ the king? are they legitimate? i was thinking of attending one of their masses and they state to support Benedict xvi, website is
thank you

David D

B. Douglass: David,
The Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, is perfectly legitimate and in union with Rome. However, the website you have directed me to is an independent chapel and not under the authority of the local ordinary. According to the "Fransiscan Brothers of the Annunciation" website that links to, the Priestly society of Christ the King is under the schismatic bishop Thom J.F. Sebastian. Do not attend Mass there.


Question 61Vocations for Individuals with SSA

Dear Robert Sungenis:
Thank you very much for replying.
"SSA" stands for "Same Sex Attraction". It was coined, I believe, either by reparative therapy psychologists such as Joseph Nicolosi or by members of the chastity support group Courage (perhaps even its founder). It describes that malady had by those who suffer (and are even tormented by) often unwanted sexual and affective attraction to members of their own sex. It is thought to be a less misleading term, as it can be applied even to individuals who do not buy in, thankfully, to the "gay" agenda and the homosexual lobby.

Forrest wrote the following regarding those with SSA: "We believe the evidence is sufficiently clear that SSA is a powerful, dangerous, and deep-seated psychological disorder."
Though I totally agree that SSA is both a powerful and deep-seated pschologoical disorder, I would strenously take umbrage with the misleading term "dangerous" - this is only true insofar as it can be said of all human beings who have various tendecies towards hurting their neighbors through diverse forms of sexual misconduct (e.g. fornication).

Also, psychologists who agree that SSA is a psychological disorder also hold that SSA is a *very different disorder* than that malady which leads one to molest pre-pubescent children. Teengagers are not children (biologically speaking), and the fast majority of cases of priest "molestation" have been priests engaging in sexual misconduct with male teenagers.

Lastly, many - if not most - of those with SSA have never and will never act out on their attraction to the same sex (indeed, they are more abhored by it than others are!); feelings/thoughts/tendencies are not in themselves dangerous to other people.

Anyhow, any clarification and help you could provide to my initial questions would be more than appreciated. Thank you.

B. Douglass: Richard,
While homosexuality may be a distinct malady from true pedophilia (sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children), it is very strongly linked to ephebophilia, sexual attraction to pubescent or post-pubescent underaged children, and having sex with a thirteen year old boy is still a monstrous crime. Moreover, such cases in fact comprise the majority of the sexual abuse cases in the current scandal. Disorders which produce such depraved tendencies most certainly deserve to be called dangerous, and given how many times homosexual priests have acted out ephebophilia, and to what tremendous harm to souls, homosexuals most certainly deserve to be excluded from the priesthood. See the following article from Homiletic and Pastoral Review for documentation:


Question 60Does Mt 28:19 limit evangelism to the apostles?

Dear Mr Sungenis
Congratulations on your web-site. I am catholic and a frequent visitor and user of the information on it in my apologetics. Keep up the good work I am not a Greek scholar, so I hope you can help me with some greek grammar regarding the Great Commission.

Some nonchristians have pointed out that from reading the Scripture, it appears that it was delivered exclusively to the Apostles, with no hint in the greek grammar nor context of Matthew 28:18-20 or Acts 1:8 that the words of Jesus were to apply to anybody else.

For example, in Matthew 28:19

“Go ye (Gk; poreuomai in aorist tense) therefore, and teach (Gk ; matheteuo in aorist tense) all nations, baptizing (Gk; baptizo in present tense) them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”

It has been pointed out that the original Greek grammar does not suggest that it should or that it would extend beyond the time of the Apostles.

The verb “Go ye” (Gk; poreuomai) is in the aorist tense, likewise “teach” (Gk ; matheteuo) is also in aorist tense whereas “baptizing” (Gk; baptizo) is in present tense. From what I gather, the aorist tense, says nothing about whether the action of the verb was on-going, repeated, customary, etc. The emphasis is on the *occurance* of the action of the verb NOT how long the activity is to last.

If Jesus had meant the command to be passed on, the greek grammar used in Matthew 28:19 would have reflected it via usage of a more appropriate tense such as present progressive tense.

What do you think? Are they correct?
Sincerely in Christ
George B

R. Sungenis: Not a chance. The only thing the aorist participle of "Go" does is show that the action of "going" is antecedent to the "teaching," and it would have to be antecedent, since one cannot "teach" someone before he goes to him. Aorist participles do not act as aorists. They act only as action antecedent to the main verb of the sentence.

Actually, the aorist participle of "Go" connotes the idea of "As you such and such." In other words, in their usual travels through the world, they are to make a common practice of teaching and baptizing.

The aorist tense of "teaching" is also devoid of any time sense, for it is an aorist imperative. The aorist of an imperative means only that the action is to be done definitively. If you want a crude English example, it would be like telling someone to do an urgent project as: "I want this done yesterday." :)
Together, the two participles ("Go" and "teach") are participles of means, showing HOW the nations are to be made into disciples, that is, by baptizing them. In other words, the participles show that the people must be sought and taught before the baptizing can take place. Once the seeking and teaching has been done, then baptism is to be a continual practice, and thus Matthew uses the present tense for baptizing.


Question 59The Earth revolves about the Sun 8

I see, well it is not possible to distinguish between the stars moving about the Sun, which in turn moves about the Earth, or the Earth moving about the Sun.

R. Sungenis: Scientifically speaking, that is all the "Geocentric Challenge" claims.

However, if the stars move about the Sun then this is proof that
Geocentrisim is false, as the geocentric ideology places the Earth at the centre of the universe.

RS: No, because the stars don't determine what the center is, the universe does. Moreover, that which doesn't move must be the center, which is earth.

I still think that parallax coupled with observations of the solar system dynamics is enough to qualify for proof that the Earth moves about the Sun.

I guess you feel differently because you dont want to take the simplest most elligant solution.

RS: An earth going around the sun at 18.5 miles per second, and spinning at 1054 mph, and a sun going around the galaxy at 600 mps, and the galaxy going around other clusters at 10x that speed, and galaxies expanding and "creating" space as they go, but held together by "Dark Matter" no one has seen or detected; and of which the mechanics are either based on ten tensor gravitational potentials, and mass that shrinks and time that slows down and space that is curved, and blackholes that get in the way, and the three-body problem that prohibits a true understanding of celestial motion, and quasars that defy the redshift theory of expansion, and a million other anomalies and complications as yet unexplained by modern science, I don't think you have access to the "simplicity" appeal.

You believe in a more complex solution because it fits into your ideology.

RS: Actually, my system is simpler than yours. The universe rotates around the earth and carries the celestial bodies with it. As for "ideology," if you mean religion, well, yes. We don't think we are the product of time and chance but of a personal Creator. The reason science is so against geocentrism (at least according to Hawking, Gould and Hubble) is that if is true, then Someone had to place it there.

If you prefer to think you're the product of mindless atomic mechanics, that is your prerogative. I see a higher calling. It's the "simplest" one because, for the life of me, I can't figure out how something can come from nothing.


Question 58Dialogues with Keith Mathison on Sola Scriptura

Hell Dr. Sungenis,

I came across the following link, and would like to read it from the beginning. However, I'm having trouble finding the "beginning" link. Would you kindly point me in the right direction?

Best regards,

R. Sungenis: Mike, here are the addresses of all three:
A Critique of Keith Mathison's book: The Shape of Sola Scriptura

Second Rebuttal to Keith Mathison on his book: The Shape of Sola Scriptura

Final Response to Keith Mathison regarding his book: The Shape of Sola Scriptura


Question 57Praying with non-Catholics

Dr. Sungenis,

How would I convinced my friend that praying with a
non-catholic would be a sin? He's very into the whole
charismatic movements and whats really scary is that
he works for a program called inter-faith ministries
that encourage peoples of other religions to grow in
their own faith. I told him about the "No Salvation
OUtside of the Church," and Encylicals of
condemnations of previous popes, but he would not
listen to me. He pretty much based all his teachings
on teachings of Vatican II, I've been in this kind of
situation before, however, he's by far the
worse...Please help!!

God Bless you,


R. Sungenis: Tell him that Vatican II does not teach that we are to pray with non-Catholics. The words "prayer" or "pray" are used over 200 times in Vatican II's documents, and not once does it ever command or encourage Catholics to pray with non-Catholics. The only exception to that is in the document Unitatis Redintegratio 8 in which "prayer services for unity" is allowed. But that unity is understood as the "recognized custom for Catholic to meet for frequent recourse to that prayer for the unity of the Church..." In other words, when the prayer is for non-Catholics to become Catholics so that the Church can be unified, then prayer with non-Catholics is allowed. Vatican II gives no other exception.


Question 56The Earth revolves about the Sun 7


In order for that movement to be the same then the stellar sphere must be orbiting the sun, or the Earth orbiting the sun. You cannot move the stars about the static Earth to produce the parallax effect.

If I have two stars one at half the distance from me then the other an I move, then I see a motion in the closer star relative to the far one, or vice versa. If I move any one of the stars without moving the other or myself then I can produce the same effect.

I cannot produce the same effect by moving both stars together. which is what you are suggesting by having a static Earth with a universe which rotates about it.

The only way I can see a possible geocentric explaination for parallax is by having everything orbit the Sun, then have the Sun orbit the Earth. The universe orbiting the Sun would then show a wobble from the Earth i.e. parallax. Is this what you are trying to explain?


R. Sungenis: Yes, that is called the Modified Tychonic model. The original Tychonic model had the stars revolving around the Earth, but that was before parallax was discovered. Those who still hold to the original Tychonic model, however, explain parallax as stellar aberration.


Question 55The Earth revolves about the Sun 6


please explain how the Stars moving about the Earth will lead to the parallax movement of near by stars?

The only way a revolving Universe could cause parallax is if the Universe were moving about a point about 1AU away from the Earth, i.e. Helicentric!!!! Or the stars which exhibit parallax are moving. If the stars are moving about the Earth then there is no possible way that parallax will be observed. Think about it, it is a simple case of geometry.

I dont think you understand what parallax is because your description of your diagram is about stars being in different positions relative to the Earth in different seasons, not being in different positions relative to a background star in different seasons.

I tell you what, I'll give you a chance to get it right here. I'll write up my response to your challenge and send it to yourself and someone in authority of mathematics and astronomy. I will then ask you to present your retort. If, as I have done, our third party rejects your retort then I will send you an invoice for $1000. how does that sound?


R. Sungenis: Ah, no, John. The rules state we are the final judge. And in that realm, your above objections don't meet the proof needed.

Yes, it is all about geometry. That's why you should realize that the only thing different in the geocentric parallax is that earth is in the center instead of the sun. All other geometric proportions created are going to be the same.
If two stars in the same line of sight (one near by and one distant) move angularly relative to a stationary earth, then obviously they are in different positions in the sky six months apart and are going to make an angle with the earth's line of sight.

In your system the earth is moving and this it is going to make the angle against two stationary stars, but the angle created is the same size as the one in the geocentric system.

In other words, John, all we need for proof in the geocentric parallax is to show that the size of the angle created in six months time is equal to the angle the heliocentric system creates in six months time.

But, of course, none of this proves which system is correct. It is only a demonstration that heliocentrism cannot be proven.


Question 54Proof that the Earth revolves around the Sun 4

This diagram
is suggesting that parallax is occuring because the stars are moving about the Earth. If this were true we would not see the parallax movment because the stars would still remain stationary in relations to the stars in the back ground.

R. Sungenis: You don't understand the diagram. The stars move with the sun, since both revolve around the earth. Thus, on January 1, a star will appear, for example, in our western line of sight. On Jul 1, that same star will now appear in our eastern line of sight.

If you draw a line from the western position of the star to the earth, and another line from the eastern position of the star to the earth, the lines will intersect at the center of the earth. The size of the angle made by the two lines intersecting is the same precise angle that will be formed if the stars were stationary and the earth was revolving around the sun and making a 2AU diameter.

Perhaps I should change the rules of the game to: If you accept the challenge and do not prove heliocentrism, you owe me $1,000.
Thanks for your participation.


Question 53John Paul II a saint??

Dr. Sungenis,

What are your opinions of John Paul II being placed on
the fast track of becoming a saint? From what I've
read, the Pope will probably beatify John Paul II
during the World YOuth events in Germany.


R. Sungenis: I don't think John Paul II should be up for sainthood, and if he is declared a saint, it just shows that making saints is not an infallible exercise, and, of course, it was never defined by the Church as an infallible event. We covered this issue in one of our earlier Q&A sessions.


Question 52Does God really hate the wicked? 3

I hope this makes it clearer as to what I affirm when I say that God loves the damned. Duane

R. Sungenis: Duane, you can try to rationalize it, but the Scripture is as plain as day. This is often the problem with metaphysical philosopy. If it comes up against something in Scripture that doesn't fit into their pre-fabricatred system, the metaphysician will almost always side with his metaphysics, or he may try to come up with a hybrid between his metaphysics and Scripture, rather than taking Scripture at face value. They almost never question their metaphysics, rather, they always question the meaning of Scripture. I'm sorry, but that is a recipe for error. God doesn't lie. Metaphysics cannot make that claim.


Question 51Does God really hate the wicked? 2

Dear Robert,
Hopefully it will be helpful if I put before you exactly what St. Thomas says. At the 1st part, Q.20,a.2 on the question "Whether God loves all things?" the following can be found: Objection 4- the view St Thomas is opposing: "it is written (Ps. 5:7): 'Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity.' Now nothing is at the same time hated and loved. Therefore God does not love all things."

"On the contrary, it is said (Wis. 11:25): 'Thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made.'
I answer that, God loves all existing things. For all existing things, in so far as they exist, are good, since the existence of a thing is itself a good; and likewise, whatever perfection it possesses. Now it has been shown above (19,4) that God's will is the cause of all things. It must needs be, therefore, that a thing has existence, or any kind of good, only inasmuch as it is willed by God. To every existing thing, then, God wills some good. Hence, since to love anything is nothing else than to will good to that thing, it is manifest that God loves everything that exists. Yet not as we love." And so forth. My comment:Since the damned exist, it is manifest that God loves them too.

R. Sungenis: Since there is no Church dogma on this, Duane, I respectfully submit that Thomas is incorrect. Wisdom 11:24 is not speaking about the damned, so it is not proper to conflate it with Psalm 5:5-7. Wisdom 11:24 is speaking about what God thought about the things he was going to create before he created them: "For thou lovest all things that exist, and hast loathing for none of the things which thou hast made, for thou wouldst not have made anything if thou hadst hated it." Before God created things, they were "good" and "very good" (Genesis 1-1-31). But things changed when sin entered the picture, something Wisdom 11:24 does not address.

Ludwig Ott in his book "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" has this on affections in God: "The basic affection is love, which in God is factually identical with His Essence:'God is charity' (1 John 4,8).... As far as hate is concerned there is in Him, on account of His absolute holiness, the hate of abomination... towards sin, but not the hate of enmity... towards the person of the sinner."

RS: Says who? Making arbitrary distinctions is never good theology, Duane. The inspired Scripture says God hates the wicked, not just his wickedness. Ott makes the same mistake when he says that God's anger is not real anger but only punishment of sin. Scripture simply doesn't support that notion. We appease God's anger because it is real, otherwise we don't have a real atonement. You can't propitiate that which doesn't exist.

And in "God mercy and justice are wonderfully interconnected.... The rewarding of the good and the punishing of the wicked is not merely a work of Divine Justice, but also an operation of the Divine Mercy, as He rewards beyond merits. (Mt. 19,29:...) and punishes less than is merited. ( I 21,4 ad 1)"

RS: That's only on earth, not in hell. In hell men are punished for eternity, and to the degree they were wicked is the degree to which they will have the intensity of that punishment for eternity. Do you see any mercy in that, Duane?

Jimmy Akin at on Jan. 18, 2005 has a post on the notion of hate in God. He writes: "Since God is Love, and since he is very different from us, it is not to be expected that God hates in the same way we do. As Aquinas notes, God doesn't have passions the way we do." Then Akin explains the different senses in which it can be said that God hates. "What cannot be said is that God commits the sin of hatred, i.e., willing evil against someone for its own sake." Then he offers some words about the Hebrew conception of hatred. You might find his relection also helpful in understanding why I hold that God's hatred of the evil character of the damned is compatible with St. Thomas' reference to the fact that God loves all existing things, which obviously includes the damned who exist.

RS: Again, Duane, don't be reticent to take Scripture at face value. If God wanted to convey the idea that he hated only sin, he would have told us so, because God does not lie.


Question 50Ben Douglass on QA board

Dear Mr. Douglass,

Thank you for all of your hard work at CAI, especially your input in the Q & A. However, I must express my concern about a few of your suggestions of late, as well as part of your response to Mr. Jesse Romero.

Your recommendations to some who have asked what things they should read and do upon discovering the True Faith, or at least returning to a vigorous love of it, are on the whole exactly what Holy Mother Church Herself recommends. Yet, many spiritual directors counsel AGAINST giving mystical books to beginners, for fear they are not prepared for such material yet, as good as such books may be 'per se'. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius follow this same methodology of grading the spiritual material for a soul based on the particular soul's experience in spiritual matters, maturity, state in life, etc. My point: St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa have been read with great profit by many; however, usually these are more advanced souls. St. Therese of Lisieux provides a great beginning for anyone, which is why - perhaps - her religious fame spread so quickly and profusely.

Also, in your debate with Mr. Jesse Romero you ceded his point about the wider selection of scriptural readings in the Novus Ordo as compared with the Traditional Mass. It is true that the Novus Ordo Lectionary provides a larger portion of Scripture. Neverthelesss, it is very evident that the correspondence of 'lectiones' to 'evangelium' is much poorer in the Novus Ordo. The Traditional Mass has had many centuries to perfect the selection of which Epistles and Prophecies are most congruent to a particular Gospel, and on what occasions either are to be read with most profit. Vatican II in Dei Verbum was very ambiguous here; a wider knowledge of Scripture is good, yet, the Liturgical Praxis of the Traditional Mass realized that repetition of fewer passages that were more poignant would be more beneficial that a profundity of passages that one could not as easily assimilate because of the rarity of occurance or their incongruance to the feast of the day or to the Gospel of the day.

These are two needles in the haystack. You always write with charity, knowledge, and humility. Continue what you are doing, but please consider my objections and respond when you have the time.

In Domino et Domina,

Jonathan Paul Arrington


PS I am indifferent to whether or not you judge this to be fit for the Q & A board. In either event, please respond to this email, for I cannot check the website often. Thank you and God bless.

B. Douglass: Jonathan,
Thank you for your advice on what to recommend for spiritual reading. I'll keep it in mind in the future, and possibly attach a caveat that people should ground themselves in the foundations of theology and spirituality before reading the mystics. However, I derived a great deal of benefit from the dialogue of St. Catherine of Sienna while very spiritually young, so I don't know that your principle can be applied universally.

You have good points about the lectionary. Let me add that while I believe the inclusion of much more Old Testament Scripture in the new lectionary was a very positive change, I deplore the creative, selective editing of all the readings which Jacob Michael has documented so throughly (for the Gospels, at least). I should have mentioned that in my reply.
Ben Douglass


Question 49Does God really hate the wicked?

Dear Robert,
I saw that in replying to a question you state that God hates those in hell. Instead, I think distinctions are called for. God hates the damned in the sense that He opposes them, He punishes them.

R. Sungenis: That's not what Scripture says. Psalm 5:5 and 11:5, and many other passages say God hates the wicked for who they are and what they do, not merely in the sense that hate is punishment. END

On the other hand, God loves the damned since God is Love.

R. Sungenis: You are taking "God is love" out of context (1 John 4:7). The context is speaking to Christians about their duty to love their brethren, and in order to do so, they are to look to God who is love. The context says nothing about God's relationship to the damned, and there are no passages that say God loves those who are damned. END

To love is to will good to the other. God wills to the damned the good of existence.

R. Sungenis: Not really. A more merciful stance would be to annihilate the wicked, but God sees to it that his wrath abides on them forever without the possibility of annihilation. In other words, their continued existence is their punishment. END

And as St Thomas teaches all God's works are mercy and justice, and therefore St Thomas says God shows mercy even to the damned by not punishing them as much as their sins deserve.

R. Sungenis: I don't know where Thomas teaches such a thing, and even if he did, it is not Scriptural nor has the Church officially taught it. Scripture is clear that God gives the wicked exactly what they deserve for their sins, and it gives no hint that he lessens the punishment 2 Thess 1:7-9). In fact, the Church and Scripture teach that there are greater degrees of punishment for those who are more wicked (Mt 23:14; Mk 12:40; Lk 20:47; 12:47; 10:12; Heb 10:26; 2Pt 2:20; Jn 19:11; 1Th 2:16; Council of Florence, Trent) END

Also, God's love is everlasting. He created each individual out of love, and since God does not change, He continues to love even the damned.


R. Sungenis: God's love is everlasting to those who love him, not to the wicked. Yes, God does not change, but if God has already declared that he hates the wicked, then in order not to change God will continue to hate the wicked. END


Question 48Fr. Spitzer's Views of Creation

Fr. Robert Spitzer, Ph.D., President of Gonzaga University, was a guest on EWTN Live last night to discuss his views of cosmology. On the show, Fr. Spitzer advanced the legitimacy of Big Bangism as a plausible theory of creation, and stated that the the universe was 13.7 billion years old, "give or take a few million." He even stated that creation could have taken millions of years. He was also unequivocal in his support of Eistein's Theory of Relativity. Fr. Spitzer was convinced that the "pre-Big Bang universe" was in a "quantum cosmological state of pure equilibrium" which, with the Bang, immediately entered into a "general relativistic state."

In his presentation, Fr. Spitzer never mentioned the Fathers' consensus on a six-day creation. He also never referred to any magisterial teachings regarding ex nihilo creation, or the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 which fly in the face of 13.7 million year-old universe. It was all pseudo-science of the most progressive flavor. Do Fr. Spitzer's opinions reflect at all upon the caliber of Gonzaga University as a Catholic institution? And why would EWTN allow the advancement of such non-Catholic ideas without the least caveat?

R. Sungenis: John, the reason is the most Catholics, including EWTN, are clueless about science. They adopt the status quo because they think scientists know more than they do. That is the myth that science wants people to keep thinking, and it works very well for them. The truth is that these modern scientists know LESS than you and I and the Catholic Church. They have a lot of experimental knowledge, but they are at a loss to put it all together into unified system, which then leads to concoctions like the Big Bang, which is full of scientific contradictions, which even Stephen Hawking (a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science) has admitted. Unfortunately for them, they will never come to a true and working unified system because they have started with the wrong foundation and seek to end up at the wrong conclusion.



I saw your email in a Christian site which was also on homosexuality and so I wondered if you belive it is a sin as I can't find any passages on gay love to show that thats a sin anywhere?.....


B. Douglass: Brian,
It is not a sin to experience homosexual attraction, if one does not deliberately entertain such disordered desires. However, homosexual sex most certainly is a sin, in fact one of four sins so odious that they merit the title "sins that cry to heaven for vengeance." The relevant scriptural verses are Gen 18:20ff; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9. See also paragraphs 2357-2359 of the Catechism.
Ben Douglass


Question 46NAB Bible

Interesting how Catholics speak of Protestants as wrong for interpreting Scripture for themselves, yet this “Magisterium” approves heresy right in the commentary of the Bible. Now who has interpreted correctly? I’ll take my chances with a good Baptist sermon any day. Lest you respond with excuses, this is the same Magisterium that Christians are supposed to trust with the Holy Scriptures. Methinks this paradigm has been flawed from the beginning. If we can’t trust these heretical footnotes, what can we trust, right? Sheesh, that stuff I read is blasphemous! God help the soul that puts his faith in this trash. Someone is going to answer on Judgment Day.
Genuinely upset,

B. Douglass: Chip,
One must distinguish between that which the Magisterium makes binding on the consciences of Catholics and that which recieves the personal approval of members of the Magisterium. In the latter case we have the heretical footnotes of the NAB, but in the former case we have Providentissiumus Deus, Spiritus Paraclitus, Trent, Vatican I, Dei Verbum, and the replies of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (hosted at CAI). All of the latter are orthodox and trustworthy. As we learn from the Arian heresy it is possible for the majority of the bishops of the Catholic Church to fall into heresy, but nevertheless God will prevent them from making their heresy binding.
You are quite correct that someone is going to answer for the NAB on judgment day.
God bless,
Ben Douglass


Question 45Question 19 for CAI June 2005 on Natural Family Planning

Dear Mr. Sungenis:

Your response on your site to Question 19 for “Q & A June 2005” regarding birth control set me to thinking about the permitted use of natural birth control, viz., NFP, and has raised in my mind doubts that concern me very much. It concerns me particularly because I am 50 years old, a Catholic, married to a good wife and mother of 46, a father of four young children (the eldest is 12 the youngest 4), whom I support on a very meager income in a small house, and, with all these facts considered prudentially, we practice NFP.

As a form of birth control, the practice of NFP seems to be at odds with the patristic teaching you cited in your response.

You quote St. Augustine as saying, “necessary sexual intercourse for begetting is alone worthy of marriage. But that which goes beyond this necessity no longer follows reason but lust.” On this point, all the other Fathers cited agree. But then St. Augustine goes on to say, “And yet it pertains to the character of marriage . . . to yield it to the partner lest by fornication the other sin damnably. . . . They must not turn away from them the mercy of God . . . by changing the natural use into that which is against nature, which is more damnable when it is done in the case of husband or wife.”

St. Augustine seems to allow sexual union between man and wife without the intention to procreate and thus only to satisfy carnal desire, as it too “pertains to the character of marriage.” The allowance is clearly only in the case of the weakness of one or both. But I cannot tell from this passage whether or not it is a sinful weakness. It is clear St. Augustine does not think it mortal as he distinguishes it from fornication and adultery. What, for instance, is “the mercy of God” in this case that they (the husband and wife?) would deny them(-selves?)? Is it a conjugal allowance to avoid serious sin when we are too weak to maintain abstinence?

Now the proponents of NFP will tell you that the conjugal act without the intention to procreate is not sinful if the couple remains “open to life.” But, at the same time, they tout NFP as being 99% effective. That seems to me at least to imply a contradiction. On the face of it, it seems that procreation cannot be the aim of sexual union when the man and wife are practicing a form of birth control they know to be practically fool-proof. Perhaps, as I suspect, “procreation” and “open to life” are not equivalent terms. But if not, then it appears that the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church, in giving its imprimatur to NFP, contradicts the Church’s traditional teaching. The Church’s post-conciliar teaching on conjugality has had much to say about the unitive aspect of the conjugal act as distinct but not separate from the procreative aspect. But it is difficult for me to escape the conclusion that NFP proposes their practical separation.. I said “it appears” the Ordinary Magisterium contradicts the Church’s traditional teaching, because I know that such a contradiction is not possible as the Church is indefectible in her teaching authority and because, frankly, I am unsure what the Church teaches on this head.

That is as far as my thinking has got me – further into the fog, I’m afraid. I haven’t time now to investigate this myself, so I ask your help. Can you help me to rightly understand this matter by explaining to me what it is that the Church actually teaches?

Yours in the truth of Christ,
Richard D

R. Sungenis: Richard, I believe I’ve answered this question previously, but perhaps a little more detail will help.

It was Robert Malthus (d. 1834) who claimed in his book “Essay on the Principals of Population as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society” that the world would become overpopulated by the end of the 1800's if nothing was done to prevent birth. He proposed that marriage should be held off until about 30 years of age, or barring that, married couples should refrain from sexual activity during a woman’s fertile period. Margaret Sanger continued these ideas into the 1920s and 30s. Malthus, of course, was dead wrong. Not only can we fit the whole world’s population in Texas with each family given an acre of land, but now that the world is deep into practicing contraception and abortion, most first world countries cannot even replace their dying populations. Nevertheless, the fear-mongers have influenced our society and the Church to a large degree.

Still, in 1930, Pius XI in Casti Connubii (which means “Chaste Wedlock”) allowed Catholic couples to have sexual intercourse even if they knew it was the woman’s infertile period of the month. He wrote:

“Nor are these considered as acting against nature who in the married state use their right in the proper manner, although on account of natural reasons either of time or certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth.”
In addition to the pope’s teaching, even our common sense tells us that sexual intercourse between husband and wife is not to be considered a mechanical action merely for the purpose of bringing children into the world. That’s what animals do, and we certainly are not animals. Sexual intercourse is also an act of supreme love, unlike any other, that can be shared between husband and wife. So whether fertile or infertile, Catholic couples can become as intimate with one another as they please. Or they can both abstain from sex as long as they please, as long as they both agree to the decision.

But as with everything good, there is a fine line between keeping it good and turning something good into evil. This is a tightrope that Catholic couples must walk. Do they find themselves purposely abstaining from sexual relations in the woman’s fertile period, and then find themselves purposely engaging in sexual relations only during the woman’s infertile period, such that this is a continuing, month after month, year after year, practice? If so, then they have taken advantage of the magisterium’s teaching and have headed down a wrong path, and it is a sinful path.

On October 29, 1951, Pope Pius XII, in an allocution to the Italian Catholic Union of Midwives allowed the practice of NFP (or what was then known as the “Rhythm method”), but only under severe circumstances (e.g., a life-threatening situation for the mother as certified by a physician).
This understanding was repeated in July 1968 when Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae. It reiterated the Magisterium’s teaching that every marital act is to remain open to the creation of life. The word “open” is the operative word, since it means a Catholic can never act or think to stop the creation of life. Identical to Pius XII, Paul VI stated that any attempt to use natural means to prohibit pregnancy (e.g, abstaining from sexual relations at certain times during the month if, indeed, it is the couple’s normal practice to engage in sexual relations on a normal, monthly basis) is not sanctioned by the Church. Only in cases of abnormal circumstances (e.g., health, extreme poverty) would NFP be morally acceptable. The Magisterium has never sanctioned the idea that NFP can be practiced to “space out” children, or any of the other reasons of convenience that progressive and liberal Catholics dream up today.

In the final analysis, Richard, we have one life to live for God and produce the people he wants for his future kingdom. There is no other means available to create the people who will populate the New Heaven and New Earth that God has planned for us. He is depending on us to produce these people for him, and he has given each married woman about the space of 20 years in order to fulfill this task. Would we want to stand before God’s judgment throne on the last day and tell him: “I’m sorry, God, I just didn’t want to expend myself any more than I had to. I had places to go, things to do and people to see.” What a sense of shame and waste we would feel. Here we had one chance, in the space of 20 years, and we blew it! Is that the legacy we want to give ourselves for all eternity? Yes, bearing children and caring for them is a lot of hard work, but it has its payoff both in this world in the love and comradery that large families share, even though they must often sacrifice material wants. But this world is not our home, we are simply passing through to the next. Imagine for all eternity, we will see the multitudes of children we produced, not only our own children, but the multitudes of grandchildren and great grandchildren, from our simple obedience to God. In turn, God will reward us tremendously for our sacrifice. We should consider it an honor to do this for God, and he will honor us in return. That is the least we can do for him.


Question 44Robert Sungenis Responds to Karl Keating

Re: Sungenis calls Karl Keating and Catholic Answers cowardy

Bob Sungenis's comments are partly about Scott Hahn, but his complaint is more generic than that. Here is what he says at his web site:

1. "Catholic Answers has proven over and over again that they [sic] 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."
Bob is showing his jealousy again.

R. Sungenis: Jealous? Hardly. This just shows you where Karl’s head is at. Instead of examining what he may be doing wrong, it is turned into “Karl Keating is wonderful and anyone who criticizes me must be jealous.” It’s always been a one-up-manship game for him. As for the money issue, unfortunately for Karl, I know of his inordinately huge salary and his fundraising schemes from people who have worked there.

K. Keating: Yes, Catholic Answers has more "money rolling in" than does his group. Catholic Answers has 43 salaried employees, while Bob's group has one (himself) plus two guys who apparently are volunteers (one is a student, the other works for a marketing company). From what I can gather from Bob's own writings, his organization's gross income is about 1% of that of Catholic Answers.

Why the big disparity in employees and budget? I think it's because Catholic Answers accomplishes so much more than Bob's group--it likely reaches more than 1,000 times as many people as does his outfit, and it doesn't go off onto goofy tangents such as geocentrism. The credit for the success of Catholic Answers' outreach goes to the 42 very talented, professional, and dedicated people who work with me.

R. Sungenis: Again, this just shows you how Keating views and measures things. For him it’s a numbers game. It’s all very worldly. As long as his numbers are bigger, then he thinks he is “accomplishing” more. Enron and Worldcom were big, too, and so was the dioceses of Portland, Oregon, at least before they all declared bankruptcy. But this is all beside the point. My concern with Keating (as I have told him many times) has to do with the condition of the Catholic Church and what Catholic Answers is not doing about it. The statistics show the post-conciliar church is in serious jeopardy, but Catholic Answers still pretends that the Protestants are the problem. In case you haven’t seen these, here are the latest stats:

Not only have we had a worldwide homosexual and pedophile scandal that has been brewing precisely for the last forty years, but since the end of Vatican II, the number of priests has declined by 30%, and nearly half of the priests today are over 65 years of age. In 1965, the Church in the U.S. ordained 1,575 new priests. In 2002, a pitiful 450 were ordained. The number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 in 1965 to an astounding 4,700 in 2002. Nearly 400 of the 600 seminaries open in 1965 have closed. In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns, 104,000 of them as teaching nuns. Today there are 75,000 nuns, and only 8,200 of them teach, but most of the 75,000 are over 70 years of age. In 1965, there were 912 Christian Brother seminarians. In 2000, there were 7 left. The Franciscans decreased from 3,379 in 1965 to 84 in 2000. The Jesuits from over 3,500 in 1965 to 389 in 2000. Half of all Catholic schools have closed since 1965, and the student population has fallen from 700,000 to 386,000. For parochial schools, it has fallen from 4.5 million to below 2 million. In 1958, 75% of Catholics attended Mass on Sunday. In 2002, only 25% attended. Marriage annulments in 1965 were 338. In 2002 they were over 50,000. Only 10% of lay religious teachers accept the Church’s teaching on contraception, and most openly teach against it. 53% of Catholics believe that a Catholic can have an abortion. 65% believe Catholics can divorce and remarry. 77% believe one does not have to attend Mass to be a good Catholic. A New York Times poll revealed that 70% of Catholics between 18-44 believe the Eucharist is merely a “symbolic reminder” of Jesus.

I can tell you from experience that it is not the Protestants that are causing these statistics, but the faithless prelates we have running the Church in America. The Protestants merely gather in to their denominations the fallout from the above statistics. But does Catholic Answers address these problems and forge a sustained effort to stop it? Catholic Answers hasn’t even addressed the deplorable theology and practices of a prelate in their own backyard, Cardinal Mahony, let alone the hundreds of others that are tearing apart the Catholic faith. Catholic Answers makes a point of avoiding controversy in the Catholic Church, just as EWTN does. The unwritten law is: don’t say anything negative. Just give people the impression everything is fine. Of course, one of the main reasons they won’t say anything negative about the condition of the Church is because they know they will lose financial supporters. This is no secret for those who are not naïve.

Karl Keating: 2. "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."

I thought Bob read my E-Letter, "This Rock," and the materials at our web site, including answers given by our apologists at these discussion forums. I guess I was mistaken. No one who has read those things would think that Catholic Answers "will not address the tough issues."

Bob knows nothing about the internal workings of Catholic Answers, so he would not know whether or not I have "trained [my] staff" to avoid the "tough issues." He just made up that charge because it sounded good to him.

R. Sungenis: The internal workings of Catholic Answers is shown by its external manifestations. Unfortunately, Karl Keating doesn’t seem to be cognizant of what the “tough issues” really are. Perhaps that is because, in defiance of the papal condemnation of the war in Iraq, Karl is too busy inviting non-Catholic neo-con warmongers (like Michael Medved) to his “Apologetics cruise” to the Mexican Riviera. I wonder what insightful comments Medved is planning to make about Jesus Christ, being that Medved practices Judaism?

Karl Keating: Similarly, he knows nothing about my personal life, but that has not stopped him from repeatedly (and gratuitously) claiming that my wife and I are childless, which is not the case--as anyone who has read my December 28 E-Letter knows. He could have learned the facts from almost any of my acquaintances, but he didn't even bother to ask. He just presumed.

R. Sungenis: My point was not that the Keatings were childless, but that Karl is supporting no children, yet pulls in between $150,000 and $200,000 from Catholic Answers for his salary each year. He doesn’t need that kind of money. The bulk of that should go back into the ministry. Meanwhile, the turnover rate at Catholic Answers is very high, mostly because of disgruntled employees not receiving enough wages to support themselves in the high-cost-of-living index in San Diego. The animosity between Matatics and Keating began over this very issue back in the early 1990s. Karl simply refused to pay Matatics what was needed for his housing costs. And there are other such money issues with various other people over the years to which I am privy.

Karl Keating: 3. "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."

We have "made a pact"? It must be such a great secret that neither I nor any of the apologists I know is aware of it. (When Bob can't find an answer that satisfies him, he decides there must be a conspiracy.)

R. Sungenis: By “pact” I meant a consensus, and one that is rather obvious since none of them will, or have, critiqued the other. The Scott Hahn issue that the CA Forum brought up is a good case in point. Who among the apologists Karl lists below has given Hahn a public critique of his views on the Holy Spirit, of the sin of Adam and Eve, Prima Scriptura, or anything that he has said? The answer is none. Hahn could say just about anything he wants, and while the apologists below may disagree with him in private (because they have told me so) they wouldn’t dare say it in public. THAT is what I mean by a “pact.” Unfortunately, Catholic apologetics has turned into a ‘good ol boy’ system. You can call me a maverick if you wish, but the truth is CAI doesn’t like Catholic people being deceived by things that aren’t true. And we even hold ourselves accountable, because we have consistently invited critics to register their complaints against us, and we will, and have, duly answered them in return. Catholic apologetics should be about intellectual discussion and the pursuit of truth, not face-saving and back-scratching.

Karl Keating: If apologists such as Steve Ray, Dave Armstrong, Al Kresta, Jeff Cavins, Pete Vere, Patrick Madrid, Marcus Grodi, Jim Burnham, Jimmy Akin, Rosalind Moss, Fr. Vincent Serpa, Tim Staples, and Jim Blackburn (the list could be extended) have written or spoken contrary to the faith, I am not aware of it. That's why there has been no "critique" of their work.

R. Sungenis: We wouldn’t expect any of them to be critiqued, because they all do the same thing Catholic Answers does: pretend the Protestants are the problem, while their own Church has more problems than the Protestant churches. Somehow they have all become very good at looking the other way when it concerns the sins and problems in their own Church. In fact, some of the above make it a point to silence those who point out the problems in the Church. The closest Catholic Answers ever got to giving a public critique of some aberration in the Church is when Rosalind Moss wrote an essay questioning the wisdom of Keeler’s 2003 dialogue with Jewish rabbis (“Reflections on Covenant and Mission”). Dare Keating stick his neck out to do the same.

Karl Keating: 4. Why does Bob Sungenis say such outlandish (and often mean) things about Catholic Answers and about me?
Partly, as I said, it seems to be a matter of professional jealousy. Catholic Answers has been successful, and his organization has not been.

R. Sungenis: I guess that’s the easy answer for Karl – make his opponent look like the bad guy, and build walls of demagoguery. The truth is, you can tell by what I write where my heart is. When I write about Karl Keating it concerns his stances on faith and morals in Catholicism. The only other things I address are falsehoods Karl tells about me, since I must defend myself against false charges.

Karl Keating: But Bob also has a personal animosity toward me. He has not forgiven me for not hiring him in 1993. In retrospect, I see it was one of the most prudent judgments I ever made.

R. Sungenis: Well, now I know why Karl still doesn’t get it. No, it is not because he didn’t hire me. It was because of the way he treated me, as is the case with many of the people Karl has dealt with over the years. I know because they themselves have told me. I know these people. I worked with them and they are friends of mine, so I can assure you I’m not making any of this up. And the problem has only been exacerbated by the way Karl has treated me since 1993.

Last edited by Karl Keating : August 1, 2005 at 09:32 AM.
Yesterday, 07:48 PM
Karl Keating
President, Catholic Answers Join Date: April 1, 2004
Location: San Diego
Posts: 706
Re: Sungenis calls Karl Keating and Catholic Answers cowardy

Karl Keating: I hardly know Bob. I met him just once, twelve years ago. He wrote some good stuff in those days. Despite that, I didn't think he was a good fit for Catholic Answers (personality issues, mainly). Ever since he has nursed a grudge and has laid the blame for his not being hired on what he calls the Soy Sauce Incident.

(He says Catholic Answers bases its hiring on whether a prospective employee properly uses soy sauce at Japanese restaurants--a test unknown to any of the 42 people who work with me but one that Bob thinks he took and failed.)

R. Sungenis: Well, let’s put it this way. Pat Madrid told me that Karl didn’t hire me because I put soy sauce on my rice at a Japanese restaurant, against Karl’s wishes. Perhaps Karl should talk with Pat Madrid to iron out the story, but I am simply not going to sit here and be made a fool of by Karl’s attempt to dismiss it as an incidental, no matter how trivial it may seem to the public. As for not being a “good fit for Catholic Answers,” fine, I can accept that. The problem is, Karl Keating never called, wrote or contacted me in any way after that initial meeting. The only way I knew I wasn’t hired was, three weeks later Pat Madrid told me on the phone that Karl told him he wasn’t going to hire me, and it was because of the soy sauce incident. Pat said that Karl judged me as a potential insubordinate because I defied his wishes at the restaurant.

Karl Keating: In recent years Bob has promoted eccentric ideas, such as geocentrism, and has gone so far as to claim that Einstein was wrong about relativity while he, with only a bachelor's degree in physics, knows the truth about the issue.

R. Sungenis: God forbid if I should question Einstein, as if he were some type of majesty on high that can’t be questioned. This just shows that the status quo of modern science has become Keating’s authority. And God forbid if I should promote a cosmology that the Fathers, the medievals, Scripture and three popes declared as the truth of God. Am I really going out on a limb here? Not according to history.

Be that as it may, Karl Keating has no degree in physics, so how does he know any more about this issue than I? There is only one way: the court of popular opinion is the basis for Karl’s soapbox. But then how does that explain that my co-author, who has a Ph.D. in Einstein’s General Relativity, also thinks Einstein was wrong, and who himself has become a geocentrist?
A few months ago, Karl had one main objection to geocentrism. He claimed it would be impossible for the stars to travel so fast around the earth. I answered his objection by citing a General Relativist, Rosser, who said that no, General Relativity allows for such speeds, since that is the whole principle behind “relativity.” So what did Karl do with this information? Nothing. He never responded. He just pretended I never dealt with the issue and kept up the drum beat that Bob Sungenis was some kind of fringe troublemaker, just like he is doing on this present forum. And then he wonders why I don’t trust him?

Karl Keating: Bob's unfortunate forays into science have heightened his querulousness and have thrown a cloud over his apologetics. Not surprisingly, people wonder whether they can rely on a religious argument that comes from a man who thinks he is right and all of today's physicists are wrong.

R. Sungenis: Fortunately, other people are not like Karl Keating, and thus they can separate religion issues from science issues if they happen to disagree with me on the latter. Not Karl. He seems to enjoy the fact that I’m advocating geocentrism so that he can use it as a club, time after time, in order to make me look like a nut in the eyes of the public. Unfortunately, Karl judges by the court of popular opinion, the same way he decides what issues he will tackle at Catholic Answers. As long as he is with the majority, he’s comfortable, and he won’t rock the boat. I wonder what would have become of Christianity if the Apostles thought the same way about Jesus?
As for Karl’s attempt to marginalize me with the “a man who thinks he is right and all of today's physicists are wrong,” let’s hear from Einstein himself what he thinks of Robert Sungenis’ attempt to point out that heliocentrism is an unproven scientific theory:

“The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS [coordinate system] could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves,” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest,” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems]” (The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta, Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1938, 1966, p. 212).

God forbid that I should point out this bit of historical trivia to my apologetics colleagues! God forbid that I should try to find an alternate Catholic apologetic to explain the Galileo controversy by showing that the Church had every right to deny Galileo’s case against geocentrism, rather than the torturous apologetics I’ve seen everywhere else that says things like: “Well, I know three popes officially condemned Galileo, but at least what they said wasn’t infallible!” We can do better than that, folks, but Karl Keating and his scientific ostriches won’t let me. More than that, they intend to use the issue to marginalize me, and imply that just because I, in this particular instance, take a very unpopular stance, then I’m not to be trusted in anything I say or write. Keating is little more than a demagogue.

Today, 07:18 PM
Karl Keating
President, Catholic Answers Join Date: April 1, 2004
Location: San Diego
Posts: 706
Re: Sungenis calls Karl Keating and Catholic Answers cowardy

Originally Posted by MrS
I know Bob fairly well...... he has never, never said anything about Soy Sauce

Not to you, perhaps, but Bob has written about what he calls the Soy Sauce Incident on other forums and has mentioned it repeatedly in conversation with, for example, Patrick Madrid and in private e-mail to me.


Did you really write this post yourself and say that "all of today's physicists are wrong" which declares they all disagree with a theory the RS supports??

K. Keating: Is there a physicist--someone who works as one or who teaches physics--who holds to the geocentric theory and who also holds that Einstein's theories are quite wrong? I have never heard of such a person. If you have, perhaps you could give his name and his professional affiliation. If the number of such physicists is zero or de minimis, I'll feel justified in using "all."

R. Sungenis: I can tell Karl hasn’t researched the subject. He just gives the same knee-jerk reactions that many others do. There is a lot of myth concerning Einstein. The fact is, there were a lot of physicists who did not accept his Relativity theory, but the media has kept this very quite, with the same force that they have kept quite Albert Einstein’s very immoral life. More on that later. An article in Culture Wars that I recently wrote will uncover all the sordid details.

Some of the famous scientists, many of them Nobel prize winners, who rejected Einstein’s Relativity are:

Appell, Aspden, Barter, Bergson, Bouasse, Bragg, Brown, Brillouin, Callahan, Cauchy, Champeney, Cullwic, Darboux, Dudley, Duport, Essen, Guillaume, Heaviside, Ives, Kantor, Kastler, Lallemand, Larmour, LeCornu, LeRoux, Levi-Civita, Lodge, Lorentz, Lovejoy, Lynch, Mach, MacMillan, McCausland, Michelson, Miller, Montague, Moon, Painlevé, Picard, Planck, Poincaré, Poor, Ricci, Rutherford, Sagnac, Soddy, Turner, et al., many of them wrote major critiques against Einstein between the 1920s and 1960s. Even Leopold Infeld, although authoring a book with Einstein in 1938 titled The Evolution of Physics, ten years later, when applying Einstein’s formulas to the structure of the universe, writes: “Einstein’s original ideas, as viewed from the perspective of our present day, are antiquated if not even wrong.
In a letter Einstein wrote to his friend Maurice Solvine in 1949, six years before his death, he says:

“You imagine that I regard my life’s work with calm satisfaction. But a close look yields a completely different picture. I am not convinced of the certainty of a simple [single] concept, and I am uncertain as to whether I was both a heretic and reactionary who has, so to speak, survived himself.”
A recent article in Discover magazine says the following:

“Albert Einstein got it wrong. Not once, not twice, but countless times. He made subtle blunders, he made outright goofs, his oversights were glaring. Error infiltrated every aspect of his thinking. He was wrong about the universe, wrong about its contents, wrong about the inner workings of atoms…In 1911 Einstein predicted [by Relativity] how much the sun’s gravity would deflect nearby starlight and got it wrong by half. He rigged the equations of general relativity to explain why the cosmos was standing still when it wasn’t. Beginning in the mid-1920s, he churned out faulty unified field theories at a prodigious rate. American physicist Wolfgang Pauli complained that Einstein’s ‘tenacious energy guarantees us on the average one theory per annum,’ each of which ‘is usually considered by its author to be the “definitive solution” (Discover, Sept, 2004, p. 50).

Suffice it to say, I’m not alone in my critique of Einstein. In fact, one of the only things I can take from Einstein is his frank admission that heliocentrism is an unproven theory.

Moreover, Keating is distorting the issue. The argument is not that we can show there is a significant portion of scientists that believe in geocentrism, but only that scientists admit they have no scientific proof for heliocentrism, but rely on it only as a personal preference. They admit that geocentrism is just as viable, but they prefer not to believe it, for it would mean that Someone placed it in the center (since it couldn’t have happened by chance), and they simply cannot accept that notion.

As I noted above, Einstein himself already admitted this to be the case. I have dozens of other quotes from qualified scientists admitting the same thing, for instance, the editor of the most prestigious science journal in the world. When confronted in the late 1970s with the new model of cosmology from physicist George F. R. Ellis (who worked with Stephen Hawking) that proposed the Earth was in the center of the universe, Paul C. W. Davies, the editor of Nature, replied: “His new theory seems quite consistent with our astronomical observations, even though it clashes with the thought that we are godless and making it on our own.” (P. C. W. Davies, “Cosmic Heresy?” Nature, 273:336, 1978).

I won’t belabor the point. All these quotes and many more will be in my upcoming book. And I’m going to give Mr. Keating an free autographed copy to read.

Personally, I would bet you have your own set of his books, and may even use them as reference from time to time.

KK: We do have his books in the Catholic Answers library, but I never make use of them.

R. Sungenis: And it shows. But there was a time he did “make use of them,” which is evidenced by the fact that he put this comment in the opening pages of Not By Faith Alone: “The notion of ‘justification by faith alone’ is so alluring that countless good people have been convinced by the weak arguments in favor of it. Robert Sungenis turns those arguments on their head and shows what the real biblical doctrine is. It may not have quite the pizzazz of the position espoused by Martin Luther but is has one great advantage: It’s true.”

Incidentally, some of the same apologists Keating mentioned above (Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, Patrick Madrid) all gave their glowing endorsements, too. But, of course, that was when I was using my talents in a different way. When I used the same talents to point out the even greater problems in the modern Catholic Church today, suddenly I was persona non gratis, and they all parted company (yet, to console me, they all admitted to me in private that they knew of the same problems). Fortunately, I was brought up to call a spade a spade, and I will continue to do so, with or without Karl Keating on my side.


Question 43Gifts of the Spirit & Grace

Dear Robert Sungenis,
“4There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
(1 Cor. 12:4-11)

1) Are the gifts of the Spirit (listed in 1 Cor. 12:4-11, see above), especially speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues, habitual or sanctifying grace? or something else? (if something else, please explain)

R. Sungenis: Gifts of the Spirit are provided by Actual grace. Sanctifying grace only applies to salvation, the quality of the soul before God.

2) “I will pour out My Spirit in those days;” (Acts 2:18, citing Joel 2:28) What is meant by “I will pour out My Spirit”? Is this a reference to habitual or sanctifying grace? or something else? (if something else, please explain)

R. Sungenis: It applies to both Actual grace and Sanctifying grace. Habitual grace is sanctifying grace.

3) “3Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
(Acts 2:3-4)

What exactly are the divided tongues of fire? Is this the Holy Spirit in the form of divided tongues of fire? or something else (if something else, please explain)

R. Sungenis: Actually, it is not "divided tongues" but tongues which were divided among the Apostles. The tongues were not fire but appeared as fire. The reason they were in the shape of "tongues" was that the Apostles were going to speak in various languages with their tongues (cf., Acts 2:1-11). The mention of "fire" is for the purpose of showing the blazing heat (spiritually speaking) of the Gospel. On that same day, 3000 souls were saved, which shows the intensity of the Holy Spirit's action, as never before seen on earth (Acts 2:38-41).

If my questions are ignorant, please excuse my ignorance.
Peace and love,


Question 42Has the Old Covenant been revoked?

Dear B,

Your concerns are right on! The Lord really has His hand on you. I don’t know why that priest was so passive about the Good News. We are to shout it from the house tops. The fact is that God IS telling you what he wants. By the way, God’s covenant with the Jews was unbreakable, but it has been superceded by the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. As Rosalind Moss, our Jewish convert staff-member, likes to say, you can’t be more Jewish than to be Catholic. You might want to get a hold of her tapes, particularly “A Day of Grace” which is available through our “Shop” on

I would suggest that you contact a Catholic church and tell them that you feel drawn to the Church. If you have further questions that you might want to ask me, you can click on my name and write me privately. You are in my prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.
Is this a bit odd or what? I'm glad he says it is superceded as that is the strong traditional word so he really means it. But he also affirms it was "unbreakable." What would Father mean is unbreakable? What part? Is this having a bite both ways?
Anyway, even if he really is right I have to say that I often hear some people say on this matter that God is "faithful to his promises." I always think - that's the point! his promise was to send Jesus. Please DON'T send this on to CA.

R. Sungenis: Matthew, the confusion is caused by not making the proper distinctions, and theology is always about making the proper distinctions. I don't think Fr. Serpa is cognizant of these distinctions, and few others are as well, including the Moss siblings.

The "Old Covenant" is the Mosaic Law, and that has been superseded by the New Covenant (Hebrews 7:18; 8:13; 10:9; 2Cor 3:6-14).

What is "unbreakable" is the Abrahamic covenant, since God made it by an oath he swore to Abraham (Heb 6:13-18).

The Abrahamic covenant had two parts:

(1) promises of land on this earth for Abraham's descendants (not Abraham himself). Compare Genesis 13:15-18 with Hebrews 11:8-19, 39-40.
Those physical promises of land to his descendants were fulfilled (Josh 21:43-45; 1 Kings 8:56; Nehemiah 9:7-8). God owes no more land to the Jews. He has already fulfilled his oath.

(2) promises of salvation to Abraham and his descendants, as well as promises of land in the New Heaven and Earth, for both Gentile and Jew. (cf., Gen 12, 15, 22; Rom 4:13; Heb 11:8-19, 39-40; Gal 3:6-29).

These promises have only partially been fulfilled, and they will not be completely fulfilled until the end of time when God makes the New Heaven and New Earth. Thus, this Abrahamic covenant, which is now called the New Covenant, is unbreakable.

The Jews have no special favor from God in this covenant. They are saved like everyone else. In fact, Abraham received these promises when he was an uncircumcised Gentile, which is St. Paul's whole argument to the Jews in Romans 4:9-10; Gal 3:6-8.


Question 41Leviticus 20.9

I seriously need to know if I need to stone my child to death for
disrespecting me in a very extreme way.

•Matt The Sick•

R. Sungenis: No, because we are not under the Old Covenant any longer. See Hebrews 7:18; 8:13; 10:9; 2 Cor 3:6-14. We are under the New Covenant. It only requires that we discipline our children (Eph 6:1f). If a child does something worthy of incarceration, that is something handled by the civil authorities (Rom 13:1-7).

As for Matthew, he claims to be inspired by God to write his words, and since God can't lie (Titus 1:2) then Matthew would be telling the absolute truth about the cosmos.


Question 40Geocentrism and eclipses


If your geocentric idea is correct, then you should be able to use it to predict eclipses with much greater accuracy than the heliocentric astronomers, or much simpler mathematical equations, or both.

Have you done this? Where can I find your equations, and your eclipse predictions?


Tom J

R. Sungenis: Tom, there will be no greater eclipse predictions with the geocentric model, since all the motions of the sky remain the same, whether the sun is the center or the earth is the center. This is so because in the Tychonic model, all the planets go around the sun, and the sun goes around the earth.


Question 39Salvation Outside the Church? by Francis Sullivan, SJ

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

Have you read Salvation Outside the Church? Tracing the History of the Catholic Response by Francis Sullivan, SJ and, if so, what is your opinion of it? It is touted by many conservative Catholics as a scholarly study of the development of the doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, but to me it appears to just be a sly attempt at refuting the doctrine. Admist all the cheap-shots taken at the medieval scholars in this book, Fr. Sullivan turns the whole idea of development of doctrine on its head; Instead of reconciling recent Church pronouncements with those of the past, he would rather have the Council of Florence, Innocent III, St. Thomas, et. al., see it his way, that there should be a "general presumption of innocence" regarding those outside of the Church, which he asserts is "now the official attitude of the Catholic Church" (page 202). Funny, I wasn't aware that the Holy See had an Office of Official Attitudes. Be that as it may, I'm concerned that because of the glowing recommendations it recieves, this book is leading many, including several close relatives of mine, astray on this important doctrine. But maybe I'm just intellectually incapable of following his nuanced arguments. I admit that that is a real possibility. What do you say?

Thom F

R. Sungenis: Thom, I didn't take much stock in Sullivan's book when I read it several years ago, since it was easy to see where he was going with it. It seemed to me that he made up his mind before he wrote it, and picked most of the material to back up his own view. If he had started out affirming EENS and then showing how people have questioned how it is to be applied, there wouldn't be much of a problem, but I don't think that is Sullivan's MO. I think his purpose is to lessen the dogmatic status of EENS. Still, Sullivan does show that the debate is alive and well.


Question 38A few more questions about Catholicism

Thank you for your prompt response to my previous questions. I have a few others I'd like to ask. I've heard about consecratng oneself to the Virgin Mary. I understand the Catholic church teaches that she is a saint and not a God. What does this practice entail? Are you asking her into your heart like you would Christ? or, are you asking her to intercede for you to christ. I've also heard that purgatory is a state of being rather than an actual place. I've also heard it described as a waiting room for heaven. Could you please elaborate on this? The Catholic church teaches that indulgences remit the temporal punishment of those in purgator, so, when are the souls released? Does an indulgence itself lessen the temporal punishment, or rather, is it a form of prayer? While listening to a mass celebrating the anniversary of a shrine, a comentator statedthat "The blessed mother always brings good weather," This quote is a little confusing, doesn't God bring good weather?

During this same mass, many offerings were brought to the altar. Are offerings given to saints? I thought this was forbidden. I've been confirmed Lutheran (Missouri Synod), if I were to join the Catholic church, would I need to be re-confirmed. In my first confirmation, I renewed my baptismal vows, as I know you do in the Catholic church? I also don't think I'd have to undergo a full RCIA program am I correct in thinking this? I've read that venerating relics of saints is permitted, could you please explain this practice? I loved my grandparents very dearly, but, I don't honor their cremated remains, since, they are only earthly remains. Also, where does one draw the line between honor and worship. coming from a Protestant background, I understand that Catholics only show honor to Saints, however, I can understand why some Protestants could confuse honor of a saint with worship. Finally, in the mass, before the eucharist, the priest says:" all honor and glory are yours," How can I honor Mary and the Saints and God at the same time. does the church give praise and glory to the saints, or is this given only to God? In eucharistic adoration, are the bread and wined adored, or is it Jesus Christ that is worshiped.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this. God bless the work you do. I will remember you and your staff in my prayers, and I ask that you please pray for me, as I discover more about the Catholic faith.
Yours in Christ,

B. Douglass: Yes, the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is a saint and not God. God is the eternal, self-existent being who sustains all creatures in existence; Mary is one of the creature He sustains in existence. God is the principle of holiness from whence all holiness derives; Mary is a recipient of holiness. God is greater than her because He existed before her (cf. John 1:15).

Consecration to Mary entails entrusting one's life, soul, home, etc. to her motherly protection, that all we have may belong to her, who will never lead us astray, but whose command is always "do whatever He tells you (John 2:5). Pope Pius XII wrote an act of consecration to Mary which you can read at He asks Mary to make his heart a shrine for her, but I'm not sure what he means by that. It seems he desires to be animated by a more fervent love of Mary.

Purgatory does not necessarily have to be a physical place, since it will never contain bodies, but only immaterial souls (as opposed to heaven, which contains bodies, and hell, which will after the last judgment). However, the Catholic Church has not defined whether or not purgatory is a place. The reason you have heard purgatory called a waiting room for heaven is because everyone there is saved, and will eventually enter heaven, when their debt of temporal punishment is fully expiated. Those lucky souls who receive a plenary indulgence will be released from purgatory immediately. Those who receive a partial indulgence will simply have their punishments mitigated. Indulgences are granted to the dead by way of intercession (i.e. prayer). The Church asks God to accept a substitute satisfaction from the treasury of merits (amassed by Christ and the saints) in place of the satisfaction demanded from the poor soul. "The prayer of the Church requires the gracious acceptance of God, but in view of the special position of the person granting the Indulgence in the Mystical Body of Christ, a hearing can, with moral certainty, be counted on" (Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 442).

God is ultimately in control of the weather, but certainly Mary's prayers are very efficacious in this area, as in all the others.

No one may offer sacrifice to anyone but God, since sacrifice is an act of worship and to sacrifice to a saint would be idolatry. However, one may offer gifts, praise, and thanksgiving to the saints, just like one may to one's husband, mother, etc.

You would need to be reconfirmed if you were to join the Catholic Church. One must be at least a priest to administer Confirmation, and the Lutheran Church does not have, or even pretend to have, a priesthood. You will most likely have to go through the full RCIA process as well.

Relics of the bodies of the saints are worthy of veneration by virtue of their being former temples of the Holy Spirit and destined for future glorification, and being instruments of God's power (2 Kings 13:21). Even the handkerchiefs of saints are venerable (Acts 19:12).

The worship which is due to God alone entails acknowledgment of His infinity, His supreme perfection and dominion, and the dependence of all things upon Him. It would be idolatrous to accuse Mary or another saint of willing everything that is into being and sustaining them in existence by her infinite power.

All glory and honor belongs ultimately to God, since honoring His saints simply reflects back to His glory, Who created, redeemed, sanctified, and glorified those saints. Honoring the saints is simply an indirect way of honoring God.
In Eucharistic adoration it is Jesus Christ Who is worshipped. The bread and wine are gone, and only their appearance remain.
I will certainly pray for you.
God bless,
Ben Douglass


Question 37"Proof"

Concerning your theories about geocentrism... Does NASA know about this? How can they possibly calculate trajectories for interplanetary satellite launches using the heliocentric model accepted by the astrophysics community?

R. Sungenis: They use fixed mechanics for their launches. If the satellite is near the earth, they use fixed-earth mechanics, that is, as if everything is going around the earth. If they send a probe to Saturn, they pretend Saturn is the center. They can do this because, whatever center one chooses, all the other motions in the sky will be the same.


Question 36Gnostics

Why were the Gnostics suppressed by the early church?

R. Sungenis: Because they denied the Trinity and the Incarnation. They tried to mix Christianity with Greek paganism, and it didn't work.


Question 35Calvinism and the Elect

Can you please help me with this...
My friend believes that you are either predestined to be saved or damned, that you must confess that Jesus is your Lord and savior and that you have to be the age of reason to be saved or born again(I think that the third point is correct.) Do you know what they think the fate is of the aborted babies? Were they predestined to Hell because they never were given the chance to be saved or do they think they will go to heaven? Or, since it is not explicet in Scripture, do they not have an opinion? Also, what do they think happens to a child of "born again" parents who dies before they can be "saved" because they were not old enough to even understand or know about Jesus? Also, she thinks that it is her duty to preach the gospel so that others may be saved. Yet, she believes we can't really choose God. My question, is what is the point? If someone is part of the elect, they will be saved regardless of what she says to them. I just don't understand how they think their beliefs on the elect make any sense at all! What is the common sense argument? I ask you, because you do this so well.

B. Douglass: Amy,
To begin, the third point is not correct (did you perhaps mean the second?). Regeneration (being born again) occurs at Baptism, and of course we baptize infants in the Catholic Church.

As far as I understand it, most Calvinists believe that elect aborted infants are saved, whereas non-elect aborted infants are damned. They believe that God is capable of regenerating and producing faith in a person of any age, as do Catholics, and hence God saves those who are His before the suction tip ever gets to them. Your friend, however, would appear to maintain that all aborted infants are damned, since unless a man is born again he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. If she truly believes one cannot be born again until the age of reason, she thereby excludes from heaven even the baptized children of born again Christians.

Calvinists acknowledge that while salvation is predicated ultimately on God's decision to either regenerate a person or not regenerate him, He can use instruments in bringing a person to Christian faith. As your friend probably sees it, she is priveleged to be one of those instruments, and she believes she will recieve a special reward in heaven.
Ben Douglass


Question 34Disproof of geocentrism

Here's a simple disproof of your version of geocentrism, which claims the Earth does not spin:

Geosynchronous satelites work. We know they orbit the Earth, rather than staying in one place, because such a satelite released at rest would fall to the ground. But if they move, they could not stay above one spot on the globe unless it is spinning. Therefore, the Earth spins.
-Chris H

R. Sungenis: No, because a rotating universe around a fixed earth will create the same centrifugal and Coriolis forces as a rotating earth in a fixed universe, so says, Mach, Einstein, Barbour and Bertotti and many others.


Question 33Proof that the Earth revolves around the Sun 4

Okay, NOW you're really confusing the ideas. Let's be
clear (first of all, I AM a Physicist - I'm not argueing with Einstein.. I agree with SR and GR both, of course) What I'm arguing with is your misapplication of them.

RS: I really don't understand this, There is so much evidence that the Earth revolves around the Sun, the laws of physics fit the notion of Heliocentrism yet you would rather believe in Geocentrism because it fits into your belief system. I am all for challenging theories, it happens all the time in the scientific world, thats how we progress and move on. Accepting a theory as being true is about looking at the evidence. I guess there were many sceptical people who didnt believe the Earth round, but now, looking down from spacecraft, we know it is.

I respect your view, and challenge, but I fail to see how anyone can ignore the weight of evidence of Heliocentrism in favour of a religious ideology which was drawn up over a thousand years ago, when I might add they still thought the world was flat!

I am perfectly willing to accept the theory of Geocentrism if you could provide evidence for it and show good reason that the laws of physics and evidence of Heliocentrism are wrong. Until that happens then the world will just accept that the Earth revolves around the Sun.


R. Sungenis: John, look, the burden is not on me. I'm not claiming to have proof for geocentrism. You, apparently, claim to have proof for heliocentrism. If so, then prove it. I'm not interested in your sermonizing about why I believe what I believe. I'm not challenging myself. I'm challenging you. If you don't have the proof, then you need not continue the conversation.


Question 32Heliocentrism 2

Okay, NOW you're really confusing the ideas. Let's be
clear (first of all, I AM a Physicist - I'm not
argueing with Einstein.. I agree with SR and GR both,
of course) What I'm arguing with is your
misapplication of them.

R. Sungenis: I didn't misapply them. Einstein applied SR to the mechanics of cosmology and Rosser applied GR to the mechanics of cosmology. If you don't like their applications, then, as I said, go argue with them. I'm not going to fight your battles for you. Your own scientists say you can't prove heliocentrism.

1) Please answer my question about SR... it's equally
valid to say that *I* am the center and everything
moves around me.. according to the quote you gave 2
emails ago. Again - is that okay, or not?

RS: Sure. You can say your ear or your nose is the center of the universe, and you can produce the math to show how they can be. But whether the math represents reality is another story altogether. Only one system is the true system. If you believe heliocentrism is the true system, then prove it. If not, I'm not obliged to accept it, and can just as well promote the geocentric system.

2) So if you go with GR instead, I just read what you
sent - and it has NOTHING to do with this problem.
All this says is that since the Universe is a
non-intertial frame then apparent violations of SR are
possible. This is because SR is a subset of GR as a
theory, which I already agree with... were you
planning on quoting all Einstein that has nothing to
do with the question being asked.. assuming I would
back down with a few big words.. or were you actually
going to present some real evidence?

RS: Brad, how much clearer do you want Einstein, SR and GR to speak? They all say they can't prove heliocentrism. I have dozens of quotes from Einstein and many other Relativists and even some Newtonians, who admit they can't prove heliocentrism. Besides, this "Challenge" is not about me, it's about you. I'm not claiming to have proof of geocentrism, but apparently you are claiming to have proof of heliocentrism. If so, then prove it.

Again, some calculations would be in order - if you're
going to argue Physics - your allegorical arguments
are pretty weak. Can you do this in Tensor
Formulation, please? (Or do you not really know
Relativity, but are just quoting it out of a bunch of
books you don't really understand?)

I await your response,
Brad H

RS: Barbour and Bertotti have given ten pages of tensor calculus to show the world that a geocentric system will produce the same forces and movement as the heliocentric. Here is the citation in case you're interested: J. B. Barbour and B. Bertotti, “Gravity and Inertia in a Machian Framework,” Il Nuovo Cimento, 32B (1):1-27, March 11, 1977


Question 31Earth revolves about the Sun 3

Yes your right about the red shift being the same for a revolving Earth as a revolving Celestial Sphere, I 'll have to come in at another angle. I guess it is quite a difficult thing to prove conclusivley but with all the evidence put together and the lack of evidence that the Sun revolves around the Earth why is it so hard for you to accept it?

R. Sungenis: I only accept from science what science can prove. Theories are a dime a dozen. If science can't prove what they hold as fact, then it is not science and thus there is nothing to dissuade me from taking Scripture as face value.


Question 30What are your credentials?

As a long time student of culture and theology, I was struck by your website. What are your credentials for these profound theological interpretatons?

Ken T

R. Sungenis: As for secular credentials, BA, MA and PH.D. in religious studies. As for practical credentials, 30+ years of hard work.


Question 29Earth revolves about the Sun 2

How about parallax?

are all those stars which are close to the Earth moving in such a way as to present themselfs as if the Earth were moving about the Sun, or is that motion just due to the Earth moving about the Sun?

R. Sungenis: Parallax is easily explainable from a geocentric system. Instead of the earth moving 2AU per six months, the stars move the same relative distance, and thus the subtended angle will be the same in either system.

What about the motions of the planets, how come we see some planets moving in retrograde? again is this due to the planets moving as if it was us and them moving about Sun or is it just that all the planets including us are
moving about the Sun?


RS: Retrograde motion is also easily explainable from the geocentric system. We have diagrams on our website showing this to be the case. It's really very easy. The public has just been brainwashed to beleive that only the heliocentric system explains it.


Question 28More Heliocentrism

1. If the Earth does not revolve around the sun, Apollo spacecraft 8 through 17 would have missed the Earth on their way home, since they were on a course to meet the Earth where it would be if it moved around the Sun.

2. Halley used Newton's equations to predict that a comet seen in 1682 would return in 1758. It has continued to return as predicted by those equations. This could not happen with any geocentric theory ever conceived.

3. The Helios deep space probes were launched in the mid 1970s by the Federal Republic of Germany with the co-operation of NASA. There were two in the series, Helios I and Helios II. They were launched to orbit and measure the Sun. They set a speed record for spacecraft at 252,800 km/h. They also set the record for closest approach to the sun, at about 45 million kilometers, inside the orbit of Mercury. These missions would have failed if the navigational information was wrong due to a geocentric solar system.

4. We can see other systems rotating around stars, none yet around planets

5. With his telescope Galileo (and you can try this too) was able to tell that Venus went through phases all the way from a thin crescent to being nearly fully lit up.. Moreover, the planet changed considerably in size as it did so: it looked smaller when it was fully lit up, and bigger across 'from top to bottom' when it was a crescent. These effects are detectable over the span of just a few months as Venus rounds the far side of the sun (looking small but fully lit up) and then approaches us in its orbit (getting larger in apparent size but changing steadily to a thin crescent in form).
Jeff O

R. Sungenis: Jeff, all of the above can be explained from a geocentric system. In the geocentric system, all the motions in the sky are the same as the heliocentric system. The only difference is that the center has been shifted from the sun to the earth. You can do this yourself. Draw a solar system with the sun in the middle and the planets around it. Put a pencil point on the center of the sun and rotate the paper. Now, put the pencil point in the center of the earth and rotate the paper. You will see that all the motion of the sun and planets remain the same. That's why the geocentric system of Tycho Brahe answered the phases of Venus just as Copernicus' model did.


Question 27Earth revolves about the Sun

We can see that the Earth revolves about the Sun by the fact that we are presented with a different view of the Celestial Sphere every night.

All Celestial bodies rise four minutes earlier each night. During a year these will go through a complete 12 hours of change in time of rise above the horizon, and will rise at the same time each year. This could only be due to two reasons,

1. the Earth revolves around the Sun and hence we see a difference in the position of Clelestial Bodies because we are seeing them from a different perspective.

2. All the Celestial Bodies in the Universe are moving in a manner in which to present them selfs as if the Earth was moving around the Sun.

As all the Celestial Bodies in the Univsere are at varying distances from the Earth, we know this because we can measure distance of Celestial Bodies by looking at thier shift in the spectrum of light they emit, in order to present them selfs as explained in point number two the Celestial Bodies at greatest distance from the Earth would have to move great distances in a short amount of time and as a consequence there would be a hugh change in their vectors. This change would be observable in the shift in the spectrum of light emitted from the body. There is no annual periodic change shift of spectrum from those bodies. This leaves us to assume that point number 1 is correct.

Please feel free to post this and my name on your web site.

Yours sincerely,

John Hunsley.

R. Sungenis: No, because Jupiter and Saturn are going to have the same movements relative to earth in the geocentric system as they do in the heliocentric system. You need to realize this before you get into any more disputations. The only difference between the geo and helio is the change in centers. All other motions remain the same. John, the above doesn't prove heliocentrism, since the same phenomena would occur if the earth were fixed and the universe rotated around it, so says Mach and Einstein, and many others.


Question 26Adam and Eve and Dt 22:23

You guys are hilarious!
Good luck with that. Can't wait until you offer your next challenge where people have to prove that Eve wasn't actually made out of Adam's rib.

R. Sungenis: At least we have an explanation for where females originate. Evolution doesn't.

Better yet, how about another $1000 for the best rationalization for the stoning to death of rape victims too terrified to cry out per Deuteronomy 22:23?

Keep up the good work!

RS: Some men don't like the fact that their wives would be complicit in sexual relations with another man.


Question 25YOU who should get a grip on yourself

Perhaps it is YOU who should get a grip on yourself.

R. Sungenis: I'm not the one calling my opponent an idiot, thus no grip necessary. Capice?

1) Of course NASA uses fixed coordinates for
satellites. This is due to the fact that gravitation
falls off as the inverse square of distance, so the
effect of other objects is negligible.

RS: So what? The point is that a geocentric coordinate system will work just as well as a heliocentric system.

2) Yes, the 3 body problem is complicated, however,
the calculations in this case do not require such a
correction, since the action of the other matter in
the Universe is so small compared to the action of the
Sun on the Earth. (If you have calculations to the
contrary, specifically involving either a Lagrangian
or Hamiltonian formulation of Newtonian Mechanics
showing data to the contrary, I'd love to see it)

Brad H

RS: Lagrangian and Hamiltonians are devised for local systems. If you want to see how the rest of the universe affects the three-body problem, I suggest you consult Mach and Einstein, for they both held that a rotating universe against a fixed earth generates the same forces as a rotating earth in a fixed star system.


Question 24Geocentrism: You seemed to have given this topic serious consideration

Please withhold my name. You may post my submission, but this is not a "proof", just a question. I am not "applying" for your prize.

While I undertand that a Ptolemeic model (as convoluted and baroque as it may have to be) may basically describe the Heavens as viewed from Earth, my question is this: How do you then explain the success with which people have sent probes (both satellites and surface landings) to other planets, such as Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and it's moons, with computations based completely on the Copernican model? You seem to have given this topic serious consideration, so I'm sure you have an answer, I'm curious as to what it is. Thank you.

R. Sungenis: Because both the geocentric and heliocentric models work. The only difference is a change in centers between the sun and the earth. Every other motion in the system remains the same. NASA has already admitted to that, several times.


Question 23Beatification of John Paul II

Dear Mr. Sungenis:
Following are two quotes taken from your response regarding the beatification of Mother Teresa that appeared in the November 2004 Q&A (#5). Would you still hold the same opinion in view of the beatification of JPII, considering he was certainly more of an authority on matters of doctrine than Mother Teresa?

R. Sungenis: No, because being an "authority on matters of doctrine" still does not raise that authority to the level of dogma, and popes are only protected from error in matters of ex cathedra dogma.


Question 22You embarass people of faith everywhere with your stupid ideas

First of all, let me say what an unabashed idiot you must be for claiming that the Earth doesn't go around the Sun. People like you embarass people of faith everywhere with your stupid ideas. But just for the sake of arguement, let's discuss your need for 'proof' of Heliocentrism. What exactly WOULD constitute proof in your mind? Does it count if I show that NASA's
calculations (which I CAN obtain) for spacecraft launch to outer planets and beyond require a certain model of the Solar System, or is that too technical
for you? I can prove it using Newtonian mechanics and the beforementioned spacecraft - if you really value science. But if you're just being an idiot, and no matter what data I give, you'll ignore me, then don't bother pretending to be open and honest.

R. Sungenis: Get a grip on yourself. The so-called proofs you have lodged, you show yourself to be the ignorant of the subject. NASA can use a geocentric or heliocentric model in sending satellites to the planets, since both work. They have admitted it themselves. In fact, the use fixed-earth mechanics for satellites in our vicinity.
As for Newtonian mechanics (e.g., that a smaller body must revolve around a larger body) that is only true for isolated systems. I suggest you go back and read about Newton's "three-body" problem. Then consider that when the rest of the universe is included in the calculations, the center of mass changes drastically. Newton's laws only work in isolated systems, but the universe is not an isolated system.


Question 21The Sun is heavier than the Earth

Lastly- Gravity. The earth is much smaller than the sun. It is trivial to measure the size of the earth via relative sizes of shadows at the same time at different point son the globe. (see for details).

The size of the sun is also easily determinable. The elements composingthe sun can be determined by spectroscopy in which the visible light (the spectrum) of the Sun is studied. Etc, Etc.

Long story short- The sun is big and heavy. The earth is (compared to the sun) small and light. Small and light things orbit large and heavy things, not the other way around. For this to be false, the THeory of Gravity would have to be false. Pick up a pencil, let it go. If it drops to the floor, Gravity works, and the Earth goes 'round the Sun.

I realize that I have not presented these as rigorous scientific proofs. I am, after all, not a scientist. However, one does not need to know the accelleration due to gravity to see that things fall downward.

You can keep the $1000. Send it to some abused altarboy.

R. Sungenis: When you win it, I will. As for now, the sun's larger size does not prove heliocentrism. The stipulation that the smaller must revolve around the larger is only true in isolated systems, as Newtonian mechanics specifies. It is not true in systems which incorporate the whole universe. When the whole universe is included, the center of mass is different than in an isolated system.


Question 20Geocentrism Challenge

One word:


See for an explanation.

Basically, "As the Earth moves around the Sun in its orbit, our planet's position is slightly changed, which allows us to see nearby stars from a different perspective. "

In an earth-centric solar system, earth would not move, and therefore, our view of the nearby stars would not change.

However, it does change, therefore, the Earth moves. From the way our view changes, we can see that the Earth moves in a (approx.) circle around the

R. Sungenis: No, parallax can be shown from a geocentric system as well. Since the stars move in the geocentric system, the angle created from Jan 1 to June 1 will be the same as if the earth revolved in a stationary star system. We have diagrams on our website that prove this.


Question 19Proof of Heliocentrism

Aristarchus of Samos did an early proof, ~ 230BC:

R. Sungenis: This presents no proof. It only assumes a larger body cannot revolve around a smaller body. That would only be true in an isolated system. The problem with Newtonian mechanics is that it forgot to incorporate the rest of the universe. When the rest of the universe is incorporated, the center of mass is not the same as an isolate sun-earth system.

Coupled with the early trigonometry of Hipparchus, then later Copernicus.

RS: The geometry or trigonometry of the heliocentric and geocentric systems are identical. The only change is shifting the center from the sun to the earth. All other motions remain the same.

Another good proof would be to point a high-gain satellite dish at Voyager and look for it's signal:

Given that Voyager is moving in a straight line (it has used up it's fuel long ago) If the signal doesn't move in the sky at a given sidereal time from day to day, then the earth is stationary. If it moves a little every day, then the earth is moving. Measure the angle to the sun, and you have either the earth's orbit around the sun, or vice versa.

RS: It would be the same in a geocentric system, as noted above.


Question 18Propitiation

Dear Robert

I just purchased your CASB and find it a remarkable work. I have been studying the nature of sacrifice and find your explanation most enlightening. After looking at this topic in the CASB and also "Not By Bread Alone" I went to the CCC and could not find a reference to propitiation. I find this quite odd. Did I miss it? Does the CCC use the term expiation in place of or to include propitiation?

God bless

R. Sungenis: Yes, those terms are often confused today. I cover the differences in Appendix 2 of Not By Bread Alone. Due to Protestant influence, expiation is often used today, even by Catholics, but the traditional word, and the proper word in Catholic theology, is propitiation.


Question 17Heliocentrism Challenge 2

You're right, Earth orbiting satellites have the Earth fixed, because that's what they orbit. If heliocentrism were wrong, we would be figuring out incorrect orbits for the rest of the planets, and getting to Saturn would be much harder if we didn't know that Jupiter wouldn't be directly in the path of our spacecraft.

R. Sungenis: No, because Jupiter and Saturn are going to have the same movements relative to earth in the geocentric system as they do in the heliocentric system. You need to realize this before you get into any more disputations. The only difference between the geo and helio is the change in centers. All other motions remain the same.


Question 16Heliocentrism Challenge

1)Do you think he is accurate in defining the agreements and differences?

I don't know about Gould's ideas, but Hawking always expresses any reservations he has about theories he presents, which is the founding bedrock of science. I believe I know what quotes from him you're referencing, and these ideas were expressed in the context of scientific principals we have yet to discover. Hubble worked almost 100 years ago, and put forth the original ideas of galaxies. His ignorance of cosmology can be excused, as he was one of its fathers.

R. Sungenis: I would suggest you not rely on ignorance, either yours or theirs, to make arguments for yourself.

Regardless, what you seem to be saying is that Earth is the center of the universe, and everything in that space revolves around it. Occoms Razor discounts this easily, as the idea of Earth rotating around sun is much simpler than the idea of the black hole at the center of the galaxy having such a complex rotation that it appears that the galaxy rotates around it, but it really rotates around Earth.

R. Sungenis: First of all, Occam's Razor is a myth. There are several books written on this if you care to have me cite them for you. Second, an earth in double motion, going around a sun which is itself going around another cluster of galaxies, which are themselves going around something else, and of which the whole system is expanding beyond the speed of light, is not what I call a "simple" system.


Question 15Norman Geisler - Roman Catholics and Evangelicals 2

1)Do you think he is accurate in defining the agreements and differences?

R. Sungenis: No

2)Do you think he accurately defines and understands catholic beliefs?

R. Sungenis: No

3)Would you say that Geisler's book is the best book on the Catholic Church written by an Evangelical? If not, can you tell me which book (and author) would be e.g. Roman Catholicism by Alister McGrath?

R. Sungenis: No, as I said, Giesler is disarming, yet deceiving.

4)How does Geisler's book compare to James R. Whites works such as The Roman Catholic Controversy?

R. Sungenis: No, a little more respectful but about the same level of scholarship.


Question 14Norman Geisler - Roman Catholics and Evangelicals

Dear Robert Sungenis,
Have you read the book "Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences" by Norman L. Geisler and Ralph E. MacKenzie?

-If so, what did you think of it?
-Would you recommend it to Catholics?
-Would you recommend it to non-Catholics?

R. Sungenis: Yes, I've read it, quite thoroughly. I would recommend it to Catholics only insofar as an object lesson as how NOT to do theological study or biblical exegesis. I've critiqued the book in both Not By Faith Alone and Not By Scripture Alone. Most of the work was done by Geisler, as I found out in a conversation with MacKenzie several years ago. In my line of work a guy like Geisler is more dangerous than a rabid anti-Catholic, because he comes across as an a semi-ecumenist and catches some people off guard.


Question 13Baptism in Acts 15:7-9

Dear CAI,

I encountered some Protestant apologetics today that said Acts 15:7-9, refers to God purifying the hearts of Cornelius and his house (Acts 10) by their belief in the Gospel and not by baptism. Could you give me a good refutation of this charge, based solely on the text?

Pax tecum,


B. Douglass: Adam,

Purification of the heart does not necessarily mean justification. It could refer to God instilling in them contrition and desire for justification. People can receive the Spirit without being justified, and there are several examples of this in Scripture.

The commentary in the Haydock (p. 1451) does not bother arguing this passage, and just states that "such may be the grace of God occasionally towards men, and such their great charity and contrition, that they may have remission, justification, and sanctification before the external sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and penance be received; as we see in this example... But here we also learn one necessary lesson, that such, notwithstanding, must needs receive the sacraments appointed by Christ, which whosoever contemneth, can never be justified. S. Aug. sup. Levit. q. 84 T. 4."
Ben Douglass


Question 12Created Grace? 4

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I am a 15 year old boy who seems to be caught between the third and fourth commandments. It seems like every week my parents get me to do the only hard labour we do all week on Sundays. For example, moving furniture, painting the deck, mowing the lawn, etc.

Nevertheless I obey; however, this is with reluctance because I am not completely sure what to do. My mother said she checked it out with some priests who said that because we do not do labour during the week, only intellectual work, it is okay to do it on Sundays.

This doesn't make much sense to me. Anyway,my question is, which commandment overrules the other, and, if I am obligated to obey, would it still be a sin on the part of my parents?

God bless,
Patrick P.

B. Douglass: Patrick,

As a general principle, one is loosed from one's obligation to obedience (to parents, to a husband, to civil or ecclesiastical authorities) if one is commanded to sin. In fact, one has a moral duty to disobey any authority who commands one to sin.

You are correct, that the explanation offered by your mother does not make sense. The fact that you don't do any physical labor the rest of the week makes it harder to justify working on the Lord's day, not easier. The Catechism states "[f]amily needs [Lat. necessitates] or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest." You have to ask yourself, do you really need to do this labor on Sunday, or could you easily move it to another day? If your parents work 6 days a week, I can see how they might need to do the chores on Sunday. But since you're [I'm guessing] I high school student it seems you could easily just ask them on Saturday what they need from you, and do it then.
Ben Douglass


Question 11Praying to Mary

I just finished reading your conversion story, 'From Controversy to Consolation', in Patrick Madrid's book, 'Surprised by Truth'. I was very moved and inspired by your story as my conversion story is very similar to yours. However, my story should be reserved for another day.

I am currently being bombarded by the fact that I am a "Mary Worshiper" and I would like some help on how to combat this myth. My staunchest adversary is my own father who was raised Roman Catholic, married in the Church, and then left the Church to become Episcopalian. He insists he is still Catholic, but my arguments seem to fall on deaf ears, even when I provide Biblical proof. I have many others who attack me for worshipping Mary as well. I use the standard arguments on how we believe there is an afterlife and that we believe Mary is still alive and can hear our prayers and pray for us. I explain that it is no different than if I ask the person attacking me to pray for God's guidance in my job search. They are willing to that and understand that, but not praying to the so-called "dead".

Any apologetics or biblical information you could supply me with to help me in this struggle would be greatly appreciated. I have been living in Venezuela for the past four years - a nation that is 96% Catholic - so getting my hands on Apologetic material is almost impossible. I thank you immensely in advance!
Your Catholic Brother in Christ,

Joe C

R. Sungenis: Joe, the problem is always the same. Protestants confuse the Old Testament laws on necromancy (Dt. 18:11) with Catholics praying to deceased people. But Jesus said that deceased Christians are still alive. Jesus said in Mark 12:26-27 to the Saducees:

"And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err."

Here Jesus tells us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive in heaven because they have experienced a resurrection. This refers to the resurrection of their soul. Their bodies are still in graves awaiting the resurrection (John 5:28-29; 6:39-40). Their souls have conscious existence in heaven, and they know what is occurring on earth (Rev. 6:9-10; 20:4). Through God's miraculous power, our prayers are brought to them, and thus they know to pray on our behalf.
Very simple.
God be with you.


Question 10Created Grace? 4

Thanx again. 2 more things
1) So either way, whether McGrath was saying sanctifying grace is essentially indistinguishable from God or essentially indistinguishable from the human or human soul, he was wrong?

R. Sungenis: Yes, and it wouldn't be the first time McGrath has either distorted or shown his ignorance of the fine points of Catholic theology. I show several instances in my book Not By Faith Alone, especially his treatment of Augustine's use of iustificare.

2) What do you think McGrath meant
- grace is essentially indistinguishable from God?
or essentially indistinguishable from the human or human soul?
or something else? if something else please explain.

R. Sungenis: Anytime anyone uses the adverb "essentially" before their choice of verb, it is hard to know their precise intent. Sounds to me like he's trying to hedge his bets, trying to imply for his audience, on the one hand, that the sanctified soul is the same as God, yet, on the other hand, if someone balks at that, he can say, "well, I said 'essentially indistinguishable,' not 'indistinguishable.'"


Question 9Considering converting to Catholicism

Hello, I'm considering converting to Catholicism from Lutheranism however, I have a few questions. First, I've heard that there is a hierarchy in heaven. Does this mean that God loves say, St. John the Baptist more than another soul? Is there a hierarchy among the saints? Also, all my grandparents are deceased. they were faithful Lutherans, and not anti-catholic. If I were to make the sign of the cross, recite the rosary or say a prayer for them would this be effective as I'm not Catholic? If a person is rejected for beatification or canonization, does this mean they're not in heaven? Do all canonized saints go directly to heaven? Finally, what is the catholic church's stance on those who practice syncretic religions (for instance a Haitian who is both a practicing Catholic and a follower of vodou)? It is my understanding that many people believe there isn't a conflict with the two faiths.

Any answers you could give me would be greatly appreciated. God bless you.

B. Douglass: Brenda,
I'd be happy to answer your questions. Thank you for your inquiry.
What you have heard concerning the hierarchy in heaven was most likely in reference to the hierarchy of angels: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Powers, Dominions, Principalities, Virtues, Archangels, Angels. The distinction between the blessed [humans] in heaven consists in this: all receive an immediate vision of God, in the perfect love of God, but since God is infinite only He can fully understand and love Himself, whereas the blessed will have a greater or lesser capacity for understanding and loving God, according to the merits they gained on earth (1 Cor 3:8; 2 Cor 9:6). To my knowledge there is no Catholic teaching of a juridical hierarchy among the glorified saints.
The Catholic Church has dogmatized the maxim "outside the Church there is no salvation" but she has anathematized the Jansenist slogan "outside the Church there is no grace." God can and does answer the sincere and heartfelt prayers of Protestants, so, if your grandparents are in purgatory, yes, your prayers will be efficacious, and I'm sure most appreciated.
Canonization is supposed to be reserved for persons who have exhibited extraordinary, heroic virtue. The saints should be exemplars of Christian piety, such that one should be able to say, without hesitation, "imitate them, as they imitated Christ." If someone has been rejected for canonization, all it means is that the Church has not deemed him fit to be the proverbial poster boy for everything a Catholic should strive to be. He could still have died in a state of grace and gone to heaven.

Before someone may be canonized the Church must verify that at least two miracles have been obtained through this person's intercession. This means that someone must be in heaven before he can be canonized. However, to my knowledge there is no Catholic teaching stipulating that no one who had to spend some time in purgatory before entering heaven may ever be canonized.

Pagan gods are demons (cf. 1 Cor 10:20 et al.). It is impossible to mix any element of demon worship with worship of the true and living God. The Church can incorporate whatever is morally good or morally neutral in pagan cultures (e.g. traditional forms of dress and song, the vernacular language) but she cannot admit any elements of their idolatry, superstition, and other error as legitimate objects of "inculturation."
God bless,
Ben Douglass


Question 8 Sources like Josh McDowells

Do you know of any reliable up-to-date CATHOLIC
equivalent of the Protestant book "The New Evidence
that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell ?

Some of the things covered are :

Is the New Testament Historically Reliable?
Is the Old Testament Historically Reliable?
Jesus, a Man of History
If Jesus wasn't God, He deserves an Oscar
Significance of Deity: The 'trilemma' - Lord, Liar, or
Support of Deity: Old Testament Prophecies fulfilled
in Jesus Christ.
Support of Deity: The Resurrection - Hoax or History?
Support of Deity: The Great Proposition ('If God
became a man, what would He be like?)
The Nature of Truth
The Knowability of Truth
Answering Postmodernism
Answering Skepticism
Answering Agnosticism
Answering Mysticism
Certainty vs. Certitude
Defending Miracles
Is History Knowable?

Thanks and regards
Stephen Ho

B. Douglass: Stephen,
I am unaware of any Catholic work which covers all of the material contained in Evidence in one volume. CAI will put out a book in 2006 on Biblical Inerrancy, which will cover some of those topics. Any traditional Catholic commentary (e.g. the Haydock Bible) will also defend inerrancy. Salvatore Ciresi's St. Jerome Biblical Guild website offers an extensive bibliography for Catholic Biblical studies. Peter Kreeft's Handbook of Christian Apologetics covers a few of the topics above as well. There are numerous patristic writings in defense of the deity of Christ. St. Justin Martyr in particular did a lot of prophecy-debating with a Jew named Trypho. Fr. Mitch Pacwa has written a book on New Age beliefs from a Catholic perspective and Peter Kreeft has written a book arguing against moral relativism. The best way to innoculate oneself against the various bad systems of philosophy mentioned above, however, is to study good philosophy, specifically St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Dominic, et al. Frederick Copleston, SJ wrote a comprehensive, Catholic history of philosophy, which should help you in this regard. As for miracles, I do not know of any Catholic books devoted specifically to defending the logical coherency and reasonableness of belief in miracles, as McDowell does in Evidence. However, all the verbiage Protestant apologists put out on this issue could probably be summarized in one sentence: "if there is a transcendent, omnipotent God, miracles are possible." I would rather spend my time reading about documented, empirical evidence that not only is the concept of a miracle logically coherent, but that miracles do happen, thus testifying to the existence of God. In this regard the Catholic Church has by far the more extensive bibliography (small wonder, our saints do all the miracles). Joan Carrol Cruz has several books on this topic. See also any biography of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. I am currently reading Padre Pio the Stigmatist by Fr. Carty, and highly recommend it.
Ben Douglass


Question 7 Created Grace? 3

Here is a more full quote, in case it would be helpful (I will quote the complete sentence and the complete sentence before it)
"For Thomas Aquinas, this opinion is impossible to sustain, as the union of the uncreated Holy Spirit with the created human soul appeared to him to be inconsistent with the ontological distinction which it was necessary to maintain between them. Thomas therefore located the solution to the problem in a created gift which is itself is produced within the soul by God, and yet is essentially indistinguishable from him - the supernatural habit." (McGrath, 145-146 [bold emphasis mine])
If you want me to quote more please let me know.
Thank you for your quick and helpful response. Here's a follow up though.

When McGrath states the supernatural habit is "a created gift which is itself is produced within the soul by God, and yet is essentially indistinguishable from him - the supernatural habit." (McGrath, 146 [bold emphasis mine])

I assumed he meant essentially indistinguishable from God, but could he have meant essentially indistinguishable from the human or the human's soul who had a created gift produced within his soul by God? Would that be a correct Catholic definition?

R. Sungenis: Not really, since a human soul is a separate entity. There are good souls and bad souls. Sanctifying grace is not a substance in itself, but an accidens, in the Aristotelian sense of the term. Trent uses the Latin term "indaerere," which is an accidental mode of being. As such, it perfects the soul-substance, and thus we say that the sanctified state is a "quality" of the soul. It is the perfected quality of the soul which makes us divine-like (NB: not divine).


Question 6 You are 100% correct about James White

Hi Bob,
Hope everything is well. Just read your response to White on the Catholic Answers weblog. You are 100% correct. White refuses to debate you again because you are one of the few that does so well against him in a debate, especially in the Q&A interaction period. I've witnessed two of your debates with him in person and have listened to the others on tape so I can speak with confidence. He knows you would clean his whistle if he debated you on Calvinism and their version of justification. In previous debates, you pointed out all the holes in his theology and writings which puts white immediately on the defensive while he trys to find anything to throw back at you. His excuse that you are a rad-trad is a bunch of baloney as well since, like you pointed out, he had no qualms about debating Gerry Matatics...and this was AFTER he refused to debate you. I personally think that except for you and possibly Art Sippo and James Akin, no other Catholic should debate him or give him the time of day.

R. Sungenis: Frank, thanks for the commendation! I heartily agree with your recommendation, as well. Keep in touch.


Question 5Does Wedding Mass Fulfill Sunday Obligation?

What are the rules determining whether a wedding mass counts as Sunday mass?

This must come up all the time but I can't find a clear answer on the internet.

B. Douglass: Linda,
I haven't found any special directives in Canon Law concerning when wedding Masses fulfil the Sunday obligation. I would assume the general principle applies: "Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass."
Ben Douglass


Question 4Created Grace?

Dear Robert A. Sungenis,
I have a question i would like to ask, hope you will answer me and answer any follow-up questions i may have.
From what i understand (please correct me if i am wrong), Catholics believe in "habitual or sanctifying grace, gratia gratum faciens, which takes the form of a permanent habit of the soul, infused into man by God, and which may be considered to amount to a participation by man in the divine being"
(Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, Second Edition (Cambridge: Cambridge Press, 1998) 109 [bold and underline emphasis mine]).
The supernatural habit is "a created gift which is itself is produced within the soul by God, and yet is essentially indistinguishable from him - the supernatural habit." (McGrath, 146 [bold emphasis mine]).

Again, from what i understand, this habitual or sanctifying grace is a created gift which is essentially indistinguishable from God (please correct me if i am wrong, but this is what i understood from the above quotes). So my question is, how could created habitual or sanctifying grace be essentially indistinguishable from God who is uncreated?

p.s you are a Ph.D. candidate, mind if i ask what kind of Ph.d you are a candidate for and what you got your M.A. in?

R. Sungenis: Anonymous, McGrath has it wrong. Sanctifying grace is a created supernatural gift that is DISTINCT from God. Check out Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 254.

My Ph.D. is a research program in Religious Studies. It should be finished this year as I complete my dissertation.


Question 3Why Won't James White Debate?

I participate at the CA message board and you name comes up a lot. I just wanted to let you know that White has made comments about this and has even given another reason why he no longer debates you...

"The fact is, we announced quite some time ago that we were done with Mr. Sungenis after he shot his own credibility in the head over the Mr. X debacle, where he and his ministry rushed to print with the most absurd accusations ever put in print regarding William Webster, David King, Rich Pierce, Colin Smith, and others associated with A&O. It turned out Sungenis was utterly fooled by a very troubled kid who basically flipped out, but even a modicum of thought on Sungenis' part would have revealed that the accusations were as phony as a three-dollar bill. But that didn't stop him. Credibility flat-line. [See the relevant DL's in mp3 from 4/29/03, 5/1/03, and 5/5/03 here, or in real audio here.] Then there is the simple fact that Bob Sungenis has purposefully, knowingly charted a course right out of the mainstream of Catholic theology and apologetics. He has gone after Hahn, Keating, and any number of others, and in fact, some of the most spectacular fireworks I've ever seen have been between he and his former co-horts like Art Sippo. Some of those who used to tout him have called for a complete boycot of his work and website. So, the fact of the matter is, Sungenis no longer represents mainstream Catholicism, and doing further debates with someone who has made himself so odious in his own arena is not something we are interested in doing. Sungenis' "apostolate" desperately needs that kind of activity to remain afloat. Well, let him find someone else to debate. I've done my stint, and anyone who thinks otherwise has to close their eyes very tightly to the record itself. Just do a Google search of and "Sungenis" and see for yourself."
In Christ,
Luis V

R. Sungenis:Luis, send this reply back to the interested parties and James White:

Fooled by a "very troubled kid"? Yes. But with the "the most absurd accusations," not even close.

The very reason I put stock into Mr. X's accusations against Webster and company is that I had discovered long ago the same cut-and-paste distortions of the Fathers on the subject of Sola Scriptura of which Mr. X was accusing them!!!

It only made sense to me that Mr. X was privy to the source of those manipulations, since I had seen the results in Webster's book for myself.
William Webster has a reputation for selective citations from the Fathers, as does James White. They are like two peas in a pod. In fact, if either one of them would like to publically debate this issue, I would be more than obliged to show the world their devilish manipulations of the patristics.

As for White's argument that "Sungenis is out of the mainstream," it doesn't hold a drop of water. Understand this, my fellow Catholics. James White was declining to debate me long before I took on a more traditional slant in the apostolate of CAI in 2002. I have the documentation to prove it.

And then add this to the unbalanced equation. While James White was singing the blues that he wasn't going to debate me because I had "left the mainstream" and had become a "traditionalist," White arranged a debate with Gerry Matatics, a traditionalist that is more out of the mainstream than I, during the same time he was complaining to me, and he followed through with the debate even after I pointed out his hypocrisy in doing so!
As for Keating, Hahn and Sippo, as is usually the case, White is trying to capitalize on disagreements I have with other people to give himself an excuse not to debate me. I'm counting, and this is now the fifth excuse that White has used in order to escape the scrutiny of his Reformed Baptist belief system.

For the record, Sippo and I communicate quite regularly. Ask him yourself. There is one thing about Art Sippo, he gives everyone a fair shake. As for Keating, our disagreements lie mostly in the fact that Karl refuses to touch the hot button issues that are most troubling the Church, and that is why I don't hesitate to criticize some of the work of Catholic Answers. As for Hahn, I'll talk to him anytime he wants to drop me an email or call me on the phone. Despite our disagreements, Hahn and I together engaged a Protestant last year on the Internet, and we sent him home with his tail between his legs.
As for debating "mainstream" opponents, I suggest that you visit some of the people White has debated in the last few years and count how many fringe groups and individuals he either invites to debate or accepts their invitation to debate. You will see that the "mainstream" argument is nothing but a smoke screen.

My books, Not By Faith Alone and Not By Scripture Alone, remain top-sellers at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. White wrote his own book on justification, "The God Who Justifies," long before I left the "mainstream" (as he calls it), but White purposely didn't make one reference to Not By Faith Alone. Some scholar. Some people told me he did so because he didn't want me to come back and rebut his book.

And now, White has done the same thing with his latest book, Scripture Alone, pretending not to be polemical so that he can minimize his critics. But his plan has backfired. As soon as I'm done my present projects, I'm going to do a major written critique on both The God Who Justifies and Scripture Alone, and I can tell you this, I am not going to be merciful to James White.

The real truth is that James White wants to debate people like Rutland, Michuta and Pacwa because he knows they don't have good debating skills, and thus he comes out smelling like a rose. He is a hypocrite of the first order, and you'll do your best to stay away from him.
Robert Sungenis


Question 2"Saving Faith"

Mr. Sungenis,

Just a quick note to say I ran across your comment in a dialogue with Jason E, stating that "saving faith is a protestant invention". Boloney to that! As if the RCC does not have guidlines to ITS saving faith parameters! At Vatican 1 we read that, "THE FIRST CONDITION OF SALVATION IS TO KEEP THE RULE OF THE TRUE FAITH." And from your beloved Mr. Ott, "According to the testimony of Holy Writ, faith - and indeed dogmatic faith, is the indispensable prerequisite for the achieving of eternal salvation." (p. 4-5, 253 of F.O.C.D.)

Thus, as one analyzes the decrees and teachings of Popes and councils, one can easily ascertain the content of SAVING FAITH as defined by the RCC. Therefore, how dare you condemn the Prot notion of saving faith, when the RCC itself unequivocally denies salvation to those who would not embrace the components of HER list of Dogmatic Faith/Saving faith requirements?!

Good Day!

R. Sungenis: I would tell you to get a grip on yourself, but you didn't have the courage to leave your name. For the record, "saving faith" is the Protestant notion that all one need is faith in order to be justified, provided that it is "saving" faith. It is just another verions of the "faith alone" formula couched in more palatable terminology. We don't have any such notions in Catholicism, because we hold, with the Council of Trent and Ludwig Ott, that faith and love, as expressed in good works, are necessary for justification just as faith is necessary.


Question 1Sacred Tradition and the Apostles

Dear CAI,

Is it Catholic teaching that every belief within Sacred Tradition
(e.g. Mary's Immaculate Conception, dogmatic details of the Mass and priesthood, and future dogmas) were taught to Christians by the apostles? Also, is it possible for a dogma of the Church to be defined even if it were not mentioned in Church history? Thanks and
God bless.

Pax tecum,


B. Douglass: Adam,
General revelation ended with the death of the Apostles (D 2021), so the whole substance of the Christian faith was taught to the first Christians by them. "Developments in doctrine" consist in the following (from Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 7): "(1) Truths which formerly were only implicitly believed are expressly proposed for belief." This would be the case when the developed doctrine logically follows from teachings which were already explicit, as a conclusion from the premises. "(2) Material Dogmas are raised to the Status of Formal Dogmas. (3) To facilitate general understanding, and to avoid misunderstandings and distortions, the ancient truths which were always believed, e.g., the Hypostatic Union... are formulated in new, sharply defined concepts. (4) Questions formerly disputed are explained and decided, and heretical propositions are condemned." The Church cannot define as dogma any "development" that does not conform to these principles.
Ben Douglass