October 2005

Q & October 2005

Question 82 - Vatican II Not Infallible?

Question 81 - Mass as an Immolation of Christ: What Does it Mean?

Question 80 - The nullification of covenants

Question 79 - Did Gerry M. Go Sede Vacantist or what?

Question 78 - Geocentric theory question 2

Question 77 - Proof the earth goes around the sun

Question 76 - Purgatory and Lazaurs

Question 75 - Article on Geocentrism

Question 74 - Notions of the Magisterium 9

Question 73 - Supersessionist Heresy 2?

Question 72 - Geocentric theory question

Question 71 - Supersessionist Heresy?

Question 70 - Purgatory

Question 69 - Mark 7:21 and Lust

Question 68 - Conservative University?

Question 67 - On Jesus and Mark 7:21

Question 66 - The Great Apostasy

Question 65 - Imprecatory Prayers

Question 64 - Where did Jesus condemn lust?

Question 63 - Good Biblical Commentaries

Question 62 - Protestant and Catholic bibles and index of forbidden books

Question 61 - Human Genome proves evolution? 2

Question 60 - Human Genome proves evolution?

Question 59 - Does God Exist?

Question 58 - Matthew 5:28 and adultery

Question 57 - Searching for a Good Distance Learning Program

Question 56 - The nature of revelation

Question 55 - Vatican II and the Holy Ghost

Question 54 - Alexander VII (Geocentrism)

Question 53 - Notions of the Magisterium 8

Question 52 - Notions of the Magisterium 7

Question 51 - Notions of the Magisterium 6

Question 50 - Notions of the Magisterium 5

Question 49 - Notions of the Magisterium 4

Question 48 - Griff Ruby on Vatican II and Fatima's Third Secret

Question 47 - Arinze on Assisi

Question 46 - Wearing of Veils

Question 45 - Notions of the Magisterium 3

Question 44 - My question about NAB

Question 43 - Was Moses the author of the Pentateuch?

Question 42 - Pope Benedict and the Jews

Question 41 - Honorius

Question 40 - The Church, Geocentrism and Fr. Brown

Question 39 - Dinosaurs and Earth

Question 38 - I'M A BIT CONFUSED...

Question 37 - The Church of Christ "subsists" in the Catholic Church

Question 36 - Cekada and the sedevacantists

Question 35 - Catholicism says Bible is false...

Question 34 - Catholics and Protestants

Question 33 - Notions of the Magisterium 2

Question 32 - Was Vatican II an evil council? -2

Question 31 - Answer to Bannon on why Leo XIII referred to figurative language

Question 30 - Notions of the Magisterium

Question 29 - Cardinal Ratzinger on the Eucharist

Question 28 - Pope Benedict's "Ecumenism of the Return"

Question 27 - I posted this on Angel Queen

Question 26 - Israel Shamir

Question 25 - Islam - Christian heresy?

Question 24 - Was Vatican II an Evil Council?

Question 23 - Geocentric question-2

Question 22 - Lefebvre on Vatican II

Question 21 - Are NT Biblical Manuscripts Accurate?

Question 20 - Re: The other part of the counter syllabus commentary

Question 19 - Anaphero - Greek Lexicon

Question 18 - The other part of the counter syllabus commentary

Question 17 - Geocentric question

Question 16 - Genesis Flood

Question 15 - Facts about evolution

Question 14 - Levada at head of CDF

Question 13 - The Anglican Catholic Church

Question 12 - Still unsure about bowing vs genuflecting

Question 11 - The Eucharist

Question 10 - Question regarding the Greek Word "Anothen" in John 3:5

Question 9 - Geocentric question posted on your NASA site

Question 8 - Ariel Sharon and the militia

Question 7 - Tithing

Question 6 - Purgatory and the Prodigal Son

Question 5 - Which is more powerful angels or saints?

Question 4 - Which is the True Church?

Question 3 - Re: Emily Rose: Can a Christian become possessed?

Question 2 - Foucault Pendulum 2

Question 1 - Is the Bible "inerrant" and "infallible"?


Question 82Vatican II Not Infallible?

Dear Robert,

I'm hoping you would respond to this, which I found HERE. I bold-faced the part I found particularly interesting.

As Atila Sinke Guimaraes concluded, on the basis of a 15-year study of the letter, spirit, and thought of Vatican II, it was only AFTER "Vatican II is over and victory clearly won by the progressivists, they gradually began to say that the Council was not only pastoral, but dogmatic" (In the Murky Waters of Vatican II).

Nevertheless, the pope who summoned the Council and the pope who promulgated its decrees made it clear that Vatican II was a pastoral, not a dogmatic Council. Catholics are, therefore, within their rights to make reservations regarding any novelties emanating from Vatican II that are out of step with Sacred Tradition and the previous continuous Magisterium (official teaching) of the Church.

In fact, it is canonically possible for a future pope to annul the outcome of the council, as it was merely a pastoral council. The Council of Ephesus in 449, which was regularly called and attended by all the East and by legates from Pope St. Leo the Great, was annulled by that pope's subsequent opposition to it and branded the "Robber's Council" (Latrocinium).

"The Church united in councils, even general councils, has sometimes been mistaken" (Dictionaire de Theologie Catholique). The teaching of the Council of Florence on the matter and form for the Sacrament of Holy Orders (Sessio VIII, November 22, 1439) was set aside by Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution "Sacramentum Ordinis" (1947).

R. Sungenis: I think the problem here is that people assume Vatican II was either a pastoral council or dogmatic council depending on their wish to attack the council or support the council, respectively. I don't know anywhere that Vatican II or Paul VI said "Vatican II was a pastoral council" or "Vatican II was a dogmatic council."

I think the simple solution to the issue is for everyone to recognize that, when Vatican II spoke about faith and morals it was infallible; otherwise, we sacrifice the Church's indefectibility and impugn the protection of the Holy Spirit.

But this also means that, when Vatican II was not speaking about faith and morals and thus was merely giving its opinion on worldly matters or dispensing pastoral advice, then these instances are not infallible and may be found later to be imprudent and impractical for the Church. For example, when Gaudium et spes advises a one world government, such a position is merely Vatican II's opinion, and it is not a matter of faith and morals.

The only problem with the above solution is that the respective sides want to be the ones to decide whether a particular statement of Vatican II concerned faith and morals or did not concern faith and morals, and I would say both sides need to be very cautious here. Only the magisterium can make that decision. I am thinking specifically here of Dignitatis Humanae, for it claims to be continuing the Church's teaching of faith and morals, and it has been treated that way by the subsequent magisterium. I think Traditionalists need to accept DH and not categorize it merely as a "pastoral" concern. As such, I think Atila Sinke Guimaraes' attack on DH is out of line, as was Michael Davies.

As for Atila's argument that "In fact, it is canonically possible for a future pope to annul the outcome of the council," that is an argument without any teeth, since its force assumes that there will be a pope to annul Vatican II. Atila knows that is about as plausible as us sending a man to Pluto.

Besides, the 449 Council of Ephesus is hardly a good example or even a precedent when compared to Vatican II. The 449 council was NOT an ecumenical council, in addition to the fact that there were so many miscues and improprities at the council, including personal vendettas, as well as the squelching and mishandling of the bishops votes and even the possibility that the record of the council was altered, that it was proper for the pope to dissolve it. But Vatican II was the 21 ecumenical council and it was the continuation of Vatican I, the 20th ecumenical council, and both were confirmed and approved by the reinging pope. We have no higher authority in the Church. Those who oppose it are just beating their heads against the wall, and I guarantee you it is not the wall that is going to be hurt.

I think what Atila and the other critics of Vatican II need to do is accept the council in matters of faith and morals and interpret its problem areas in line with Tradition. They need to take Vatican II away from the liberals and make their own council. Wouldn't that be a switch?!

95% of Vatican II is unproblematic. The other 5% can be harmonized with Tradition, and the opinions and pastoral advice of Vatican II can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. But it is very detrimental to the Church to throw the whole council out. And in all practicality, it ain't goin to happen. Those who think Vatican II is going to be dismissed are living in a dream world, and they are uncessarily alienating themselves and many others from the Church. Vatican II needs to be a rallying point. The mustard needs to be thrown at the liberals who have decimated the council's teachings. If we could get Traditionalists to start looking at Vatican II in a positive light and steal it from the liberals, things would happen, and the Spirit of God would move for us.

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Question 81Mass as an Immolation of Christ: What Does it Mean?

Mr. Sungenis,

As a Catholic, I have always been told that at Mass, we don't actually sacrifice Christ, as though we were actually killing him. But here is a statement from Trent which Protestants have brought to my attnetion of late.

And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propritiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence.

Here, we are told that Christ is immolated at the Mass, and not just that Christs' sacrifice is re-presented to the Father. How am I to answer this?

Thank you,
John

R. Sungenis: John, this question has been debated over the last few centuries, but the Church herself has not given us a defined understanding of it. What we do know is that the pedigree of "immolation" begins in the patristics and follows through to the present, thus it is part and parcel with Tradition. For example, we have the following sources (These are all in my book Not By Bread Alone, if you have a copy):

Ambrose held that “the oblation...consists in His perpetual intercession for us before the Father, ‘offering his death on behalf of us all’.... He is also immolated on the altar, so that what we receive in communion is the paschal lamb slain on the cross” (On Twelve Psalms, 39, 8, .... ibid., 43, 36; Kelly, p. 453).

Pope Gregory the Great: “This Victim alone saves the soul from eternal ruin, the sacrificing of which presents to us in a mystical way the death of the Only-begotten, who....is immolated for us again in this mystery of the sacred oblation. For His body is eaten there, His flesh is distributed among the people unto salvation, His blood is poured out, no longer in the hands of the faithless but in the mouth of the faithful. Let us take thought, therefore, of what this sacrifice means for us, which is in constant representation of the suffering of the Only-begotten Son, for the sake of our forgiveness. Dialogues, PL, 66, 4, 60; JR, v. 3, 2323.

In his work Sentences, Peter Lombard addresses whether Christ is daily immolated or was only once immolated:

"To this we may briefly reply that what is offered and consecrated by the priest is called a sacrifice and an immolation because it is a memorial and a representation of the true sacrifice and holy immolation made upon the altar of the cross. Christ died once, upon the cross, and there he was immolated in his own self (immolatus est in semetipso); and yet every day he is immolated sacramentally (in sacramento), because in the sacrament there is a recalling of what was done once."

Pope John XXIII stated in Ad Petri Cathedram in 1959: “in this Sacrifice Christ Himself...is daily immolated for us all, as once on Calvary when hanging on the cross. He is really immolated, though now without the shedding of blood...”

Anscar Vonier adds an important point: “If the Eucharistic sacrifice were in any way a natural sacrifice it would be simply impossible to avoid the conclusion that there are two different sacrifices, and the query: Why two sacrifices? would be most justifiable...If there were in the Eucharistic sacrifice an immolation, or a mactation, or a death, or an heroic heed, not contained already in the sacrifice of the cross, all at once the Eucharist would become sacrifice number two, because in such a supposition something new has happened in the world of grace which did not happen on the cross” (The Key to the Doctrine of The Eucharist, p. 135).

Similarly, Eugene Masure credits Vonier, Cardinal Billot, and M. de la Taille (a la Augustine and Aquinas) with understanding immolation not as an annihilation (a theory held by De Lugo, Lessius, et al.), but as “the very sacrifice of the Cross under sensible signs, which are convenient because representative” (The Christian Sacrifice, p. 255).

Masure adds that annihilation theorists “have lost sight of the Augustinian theology of the sign, which alone explains the metaphysic of sacrifice. They hear the word immolation and...require in the Mass a new immolation of Christ” (ibid., p. 265). He prefers: “The short formula: transubstantiation immolates Christ (or: transubstantiation is a sacrifice and the very sacrifice of Calvary)...” (ibid., p. 269).

Finally, Vonier adds the most important point: “We immolate the Christ, but not—and here is an immense difference—the Christ who is in heaven, because as such he is not represented on the altar at all, but the Christ of Calvary (ibid., p. 126).

And, with reference to Aquinas, Vonier says: “The cross is Christ’s true immolation. The Mass is its perfect image; therefore it is an immolation” (ibid., p. 149; cf., ST, III, Q. 83, Art 1).

So we can say that the exact image or re-presentation of the immolation of the Cross is displayed at the Mass, and that is why the Mass is an immolation. Analogously speaking, we might say that the Mass is as an exact copy of the Cross, as Christ is as an exact copy of God (cf., Hebrew 1:3). As Vonier says, there can be nothing added to the Mass that is not in the Cross, and nothing in the Cross that is not in the Mass, save the unbloody presentation.

You might want to read Appendix 9 in Not By Bread Alone to get a good feel for this subject.

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Question 80The nullification of covenants

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I had a question regarding the concept of covenants. I remember reading in your Catholic Apologetics Study Bible: The Gospel of St. Matthew (CASB) as well as various other articles you have on your website that once Christ came, He established a new covenant which replaced the covenant with the Jews. Or that Christ came to establish a new law, which replaced the old law. I have since come to accept your position and have rejected any notions that there still exist any other covenants other than the one Christ gave us, that the old law is still applicable only as principle, hence the fulfillment of the law.

I teach a Confirmation class for teens and I have come across a passage, which has confused me. It is The Catholic Youth Bible: NAB by St. Mary’s Press. It states:

Galatians 3:17 This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to cancel the promise. For if the inheritance comes from the law, it is no longer from a promise; but God bestowed it on Abraham through a promise.

Could you please shed light on this passage?

Thank you, Sir.

Pax Christi Vobiscum,
Laurence A. Gonzaga
Confirmation Catechist
San Bernardino, CA

R. Sungenis: Laurence, St. Paul is speaking about the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic law. The Abrahamic covenant was created between God and Abraham, beginning in Genesis 12, then in 13, 15, 17 and 22. It was later confirmed to Isaac in Genesis 26 and Jacob in Genesis 28.

Hence, the last time the Abrahamic covenant was ratified by God was to Jacob. Jacob entered Egypt in 1877 BC, which was 430 years prior to Israel’s exodus from Egypt in 1447 BC. St. Paul chose the number 430 because he sets its beginning point at Israel’s entrance into Egypt and the end point at Israel’s departure from Egypt, which is a total of 430 years to the very day, according to Exodus 12:40.

When Israel departed Egypt in 1447 BC, it was in that very year that the Mosaic Law was created (See Exodus 19-23).

There is another piece of information to know: the Abrahamic covenant was in two phases: (1) to “Abraham and his descendants,” and (2) to Abraham’s descendants only.

The (2) promise to Abraham’s descendants regarded Israel’s land acquisition of Canaan, which was accomplished under Joshua (See Joshua 21:43-45; 1 Kings 8:56; Nehemiah 9:7-8). Abraham was not included in this promise, and therefore this is why he never received a stitch of land on earth before he died, so says St. Paul in Hebrews 11:8-19, 39-40.

The (1) promise was to Abraham and his descendants, and it was strictly a spiritual promise concerning salvation. Hence, Abraham and all his spiritual sons would inherit eternal salvation, so says St. Paul in Romans 4:12-22; Galatians 3:6-29; Hebrews 11:8-18.

God “promised” Abraham both phases of this covenant. A “promise” is something one says to someone else, and its validity is based purely on the honesty and character of the person making the promise. It has absolutely no legal binding outside of the two that are within the promise.

The Mosaic Law, on the other hand, was strictly a legal agreement, and thus it was an entirely different arrangement. The Law requires obedience, whether you agree with it or not. Its enforcement doesn’t depend on your promise to keep its provisions. The Law doesn’t care what your sentiments are or how honest you claim to be. You either obey the Law, or you don’t. If you obey, the Law will leave you alone. If you disobey, the Law will condemn you. No “promises” are made based on the character of the individual.

Moreover, the Law has no power over things that are outside the Law. Hence, the Law has no power over a personal promise made by two individuals made outside the Law. Thus, when the Mosaic Law came 430 years after the last ratification of God’s promise to Abraham through Jacob, the Law had no power to annul or modify that covenant.

In this way, as St. Paul says in Gal 3:17, our salvation comes by means of God’s promise, not by Law, and the Law has no power to stop the promise.

Why is that important? Because the Law can’t forgive sins. If you disobey the Law, even once, you will be condemned, so says St. Paul in Galatians 3:10-12. Hence, our salvation cannot be based on something so strict and unforgiving. It has to be based on love, mercy and benevolence, since we are sinners, and that is what we receive from God’s “promise.”

Thus, God made a “promise” to Abraham to save him if Abraham would do the things that God required of him. It was a personal relationship that was based on the mutual love of the individuals. And even though Abraham sometimes sinned, God made a promise to forgive him and all his descendants, if they would repent. That is a promise that love can make that Law cannot make.

In order to back up this promise (for God does not make empty promises), God, in order to protect his own integrity and honor, had to send a propitiatory sacrifice to make up for the sins of Abraham and his descendants. Only through preserving His own honor against the insult of man’s sin could God, as a God of integrity, provide salvation for man.

This is what Genesis 22 and the sacrifice of Isaac concerns. This is the time that God swore an oath to Abraham to save him and his descendants if they turned to him in mercy. St. Paul says that God swore this oath to himself, because he could find no one greater to hold him accountable to do it (Hebrews 6:13-18). And this is why God put up with Israel for so long, since he promised Abraham that, even in the face of Israel’s continued sin, God would save his descendants who called upon Him for salvation. Out of Israel there was a remnant that were saved, and thus God remained true to his promise, as St. Paul says in Romans 11:1-5.

Now, in the New Testament, the (1) Abrahamic covenant and its promises that were originally given to Abraham and his descendants transition into the New Covenant. They are now one and the same, and this is why St. Paul can speak about Abraham being justified by faith just as we are (Romans 4:1-8).

The (2) promises to Abraham’s descendants were already fulfilled and thus they have no more force (Neh 9:7-8). Hence, there is no more land promised to Israel that is waiting to be fulfilled. Only the spiritual promises from (1) are awaiting their complete fulfillment, but that will happen only in the New Heaven and New Earth (cf., Hebrews 11:39-40; Apoc 21-22).

The New Covenant has the power to nullify the Mosaic Law because God is the author of the Mosaic Law and He can change it when He needs to do so, as long as he does so without violating the Law. He accomplished that non-violation by sending Christ who came under the Law, obeyed the Law, and satisfied all of its provisions. Hence, the Law becomes obsolete and can be set aside (Hebrew 8:7, 13; 10:9).

Because of Christ’s accomplishment under the Law, God can now legitimately cancel the Law and replace it with his own covenant of promise that will last for eternity. In this New Covenant, God Himself, through Christ and his Church, is the New Law, as it were. God is our Judge and He, in His justice and mercy, will determine what individuals will share in the promise of salvation (cf., Hebrews 10:26-31; James 4:12), whereas the Law in the Old Covenant was a merciless judge that condemned everyone, even for the slightest sin, and even if you were sorry for that sin.

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Question 79Did Gerry M. Go Sede Vacantist or what?

Hi Robert,

I'm wondering if Gerry Matatics went SV, or is now denying the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass and Ordination rite. Do you have any info on this? I'd like to find out before I dump more of my money into his Study Center near Scranton PA.

Thanks

R. Sungenis:I don't know for sure (in the sense that Gerry would have called me up and said, "Hey, Robert, I'm a sedevacantist"). However, I DO know that Gerry was scheduled to have a debate with me on October 5, 2005 on the validity of the Novus Ordo -- he taking the negative side. This debate was at his request, but he never followed through with it, but I think the reason is that he has canceled all his engagements for the rest of the year due to the backfire he has received from his patrons for his apparent sedevacantist position. I DO know that Gerry and a man from Ireland were in a four-hour debate with me over sedevacantism at a restaurant in Ireland last October, with Gerry and the other man taking the pro-sedevacantist position. I DO know that there was a meeting in New York a few months ago in which Gerry and a group of sedevacantists were trying to convince other priests and Catholic laymen of the sedevacantist position. That is all I know. Whether Gerry is still mulling over this issue before he makes his final decision I don't know, but I do know he has been thinking about it and speaking as if he were leaning in the direction of sedevacantism. It is possible that Gerry is reconsidering his position. Let's hope so.

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Question 78Geocentric theory question 2

However, it would appear from this site that Pope Paul V (1605-21); made it a doctrine according to one source which I have just mentioned for you below by Fr. Roberts that it was a doctrine. Paul V was before Uban VIII- were you aware of Paul V statements? The priest A Fr. William Roberts who wrote against papal infallibility because he claimed that Paul V did define it as a doctrine that we must believe. The people on this Catholic site state that if anything Fr. Roberts prooves papal infallibility because geocentrism is the truth- which I happen to believe also

R. Sungenis: Kathy, yes, I'm familiar with Paul V and even Alexander VII, and I have read Fr. Roberts' work and commend him. All I can say is that, as good a case as Fr. Roberts might make, he is not the last word on what is infallible in the Church. "Doctrine" is a sometimes ambiguous word in these situations. Only the Church herself can confirm or deny whether Paul V's actions were infallible. We can certainly say that the Church has not said that Geocentrism is De Fide Catolica. The best we can do is present a dubium to the magisterium and hope they reopen the case. Now that we have the scientific evidence behind us, the magisterium may take a second look at this and reconsider their modernist position.

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Question 77Proof the earth goes around the sun

Prove the earth goes around the sun 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.

Take, say, half of your group and pay for NASA, the russians or the chinese to send you up into space on spaceship and then take it to the sun. I hear the russians are doing a deal for twenty million quid each so easily within the budget of the catholic church.

Land on the sun and spend a day looking up the planets. You will see that they all go around the sun, including the earth.

If it needs to be done again send the other half to the sun and repeat.

No 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 are involved.

When you come back I'll have that $1000 please.

R. Sungenis: Only one problem, genius. If you went to Jupiter you would see the sun and planets revolving around Jupiter. Come to think of it, if you went to Saturn, you would see Jupiter, the sun and the other planets revolving around Saturn. Go back to the drawing board, and then come back with a little humility. We weren't born yesterday.

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Question 76Purgatory and Lazaurs

Robert,

Is it possible that the story about Lazarus is referring to Purgatory?

Robert L.

R. Sungenis: In answer to your question about the parable of Lazarus, first we must understand that this is a parable, and as such, we cannot formulate specific logistical doctrine about Purgatory from it. Purgatory is a doctrine that is more or less synthesized from all the information in Scripture; rather than there existing one verse that refers to the name “Purgatory,” as Scripture speaks of “Hell” or “Heaven.”

That being said, however, if we were to apply the parable of Lazarus, we would have to say that, since Lazarus and the Rich Man are on the Old Testament side of the Cross, and we know that no one soul could enter heaven before Christ rose, this means that Lazarus and the Rich Man were both in Hades or the Hebrew “Sheol,” the place of the dead.

But Hades had two compartments. One compartment was for the righteous who were waiting to go to heaven; and one for the unrighteous who were waiting to go to hell. The compartment for the good people is also known as “Abraham’s bosom.” It was not heaven, rather, it was a waiting place for the righteous until Christ rose.

The two compartments were separated by a vast distance so that no one could cross from one to the other (as it says in the parable).

We know that the compartment housing the Rich Man could not have been Purgatory since the rest of the parable refers to his brothers having the same disposition as he in the sense that they would not believe or repent of their evil; and thus were on their way to perdition (hell). There is nothing in the parable that says either the Rich Man or his brothers were believers and were merely going to suffer temporal punishment. Also, there is nothing in the parable that tells us there will be any escape granted to the Rich Man or his brothers, and thus it cannot refer to Purgatory. The whole point of the parable is to illustrate through vivid language the contrast between believers and unbelievers, not between different levels of believers.

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Question 75Article on Geocentrism

Dear Robert,

I am an extreme admirer of your extensive and superb work on geocentrism. I, like many others I'm sure, owe you a real debt of gratitude. You have certainly lifted the heavy scales from my eyes which for most of my life I never even realized were there.

Realizing that you have significant reservations regarding the sspx, if I may be so bold as to ask---would you be willing to consider writing an article for their flagship publication in the U.S., the Angelus, on geocentrism including geostatism? If, although I imagine it is highly unlikely, you are unfamiliar with this publication their back issues can be viewed on line at the linked website in this email. If you would consider this proposal I would be more than happy to serve as your conduit for further details should you wish to avail yourself of same. Otherwise, you are certainly free, of course, to contact the Angelus directly or through some other third party.

If you do a word search on the Angelus index using "geocentrism" you will only find one article. It is "Galileo--Victim or Villan [sic]?" You and your website are mentioned only once--in footnote 6. I do not agree with the article in its entirety and although I commend the author for citing you in a footnote I think he states only half the truth when he writes in said footnote: "That said, Robert Sungenis puts up a good fight for geocentrism from a scientific standpoint as opposed to a theological one." I, for one, think that you not only put up a good fight on one count, but a winning one on both counts. I would pray that the Angelus would be magnanimous enough to allow you (if you wish) to correct the record so to speak. Hoping to hear from you at your convenience, I remain

Respectfully yours,
James B. Phillips

R. Sungenis: James, thank you so much for the commendation! However, I contacted the Angelus myself about writing a rebuttal to the article "Galileo: Victim or Villain" and they refused to allow me to do so. Apparently, they have already made up their minds on this issue and don't want to hear the other side of the story. As such, I will be addressing their article in my upcoming book, Galileo Was Wrong. If, on the other hand, you have any success in soliciting the favor of the Angelus for a rebuttal article, please let me know.

God be with you.

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Question 74Notions of the Magisterium 9

Robert,

I would like to ask you a few questions before I respond at length regarding the doctrines of religious liberty. Would you like this to be a formal or informal discussion? So far, it's been pretty informal, but if it becomes something a little more "scholarly", then I need to develop my responses accordingly.

R. Sungenis: Matthew, at this time, I'm not really willing to have a prolonged discussion about Dignitatis Humanae. I have written at length on this topic and all my essays are published on our website. Still, if you want to make bullet-point propositions in a hundred words or less, that is all I will be able to accommodate. I simply have too much other work to do right now. I will answer your questions very briefly below.

1) Do you believe that it is absolutely impossible for the Vatican II Council to contain, anywhere within any document, theological, philosophical, or political error?

2) Do you believe that it is absolutely impossible for the Vatican II Council to engage in an erroneous prudential pastoral orientation?

R. Sungenis: No. I've already stated that it is possible for Vatican II to be giving their opinion on matters outside faith and morals, for example, Gaudium et spes’ recommendation for a one world government.

If #2 is affirmative, what are pastoral decisions based upon?

R. Sungenis: If you are trying to say that Vatican II could have issued pastoral decisions that may be found to be impractical for the Church and that the Church would seek to remove later on, certainly. Pastoral decisions have never been claimed to be either infallible or irreformable.

4. Do you believe John Paul II has given an erroneous interpretation of Vatican II?

R. Sungenis: I have seen him add to Vatican II in Ut Unum Sint (1995), in which he added the phrase “and for world peace,” to Unitatis Redintegratio’s statement about when it was allowable to pray with non-Catholics. Unitatis Redintegratio only allowed prayer with non-Catholics for the purpose of “unity.” This is fine, as it goes, but Ut Unum Sint never said anything about telling pagans to pray to their own gods and through this they would be speaking to the true God, and thus Assisi doesn’t even follow John Paul II’s directive in Ut Unum Sint. It is certainly possible for a pope to make such a mistake.

As for the possibility that John Paul II, in his own personal opinion, could incorrectly interpret or misjudge a statement in Vatican II, yes, that is a possibility. I believe he did so in his personal statements on evolution, mutual submission of spouses, altar girls, and a few other instances. But outside of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, I don’t know anywhere in the pontificate of John Paul II where he has made an ex cathedra statement.

5. Do you believe Cardinal Kasper has given an erroneous interpretation of Vatican II?

R. Sungenis: Yes, he is probably one of the biggest offenders.

6. If the last two questions are affirmative, then on what grounds should I assent to your exegesis of the Conciliar documents?

R. Sungenis: On no grounds. I’m just a peon with an opinion. But the Church gives me the “right and duty” to register my opinion to the “pastors of the Church” and to “all the Christian faithful,” so says Canon Law 212. You can take it or leave it after that.

7. If someone disagrees with your exegesis of the Conciliar documents, on what grounds can you condemn their opinion?

R. Sungenis: I don’t “condemn” any opinion, if by “condemn” you mean I am calling them a heretic and can suggest they will be eternally condemned. As I said to #6, however, I do have the right under Canon Law to make my opinion known “to all the Christian faithful,” and that includes you.

8. If the argument from authority is the weakest regarding philosophical questions, should not arguments be based upon reason and evidence?

R. Sungenis: I’m not one to oppose the Church’s “authority” over against her “reason and evidence.” All I can tell you is that, when Vatican II speaks on faith and morals, it is error-free. When it is speaking outside of faith and morals, there is the possibility of error. But the Church, of course, is the one to decide when Vatican II is speaking about faith and morals.

9. What should I think of both your and John Paul II’s appeal to tradition in regards to divergent interpretations of Vatican II?

R. Sungenis: You need to be more specific. Give me specific examples of what you think has occurred.

10. How should one understand John Paul II’s silence regarding Cardinal Kasper’s assertion that ecumenism is not meant to procure, directly or indirectly, the conversion of sinners to the Catholic Church? Or Cardinal Kasper's assertion that the Church had condemned what it now accepts regarding the ecumenical movement?

R. Sungenis: You can regard it as you like, but I regard it as a weakness in the pontificate of John Paul II, as I do many other things he did. By his own admission, John Paul II was weak in disciplining his clerics.

11. Do you think historical relativism's appeals to doctrinal development nullifies the principle of non-contradiction?

R. Sungenis: If you are referring to liberals and modernists who attempt to use the “development of doctrine” as an excuse for their unorthodox ideas, then yes, that would be a contradiction. On the other hand, the “development of doctrine” was approved by Pius X, and it also has a pedigree in the patristics, thus, the abuse of it by the liberals does not mean that it cannot be used correctly by faithful interpreters.

12. If ecumenism's fundamental operative principle is to focus on what we have in common with those of false religions, how does it not escape the criticism of irenism? Thus, does it not, of it's nature promote indifferentism, protestations to the contrary notwithstanding?

R. Sungenis: The only ones who can “promote indifferentism” are those who don’t want to be different than the false religions, but Vatican II never taught such a thing. Vatican II taught ecumenism for the sole purpose of making inroads into non-Catholic religions for the purpose of then following up with the Gospel. If no Gospel is preached after ecumenical efforts, then, of course, we have “indifferentism” and a false irenism, the very things that Vatican II abhorred. That is why Assisi is such a blight on the face of Catholicism.

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Question 73Supersessionist Heresy 2?

And I wonder when Christ himself will get blamed for anti-Semitism by his own "Catholic" theologians -- as he is blamed already by talmudic Judaism.

Daniel Mota

R. Sungenis: That is already beginning to happen. In my latest article for The Remnant I note the following:

Already there are prominent Jewish leaders, such as Micha Brumlik speaking at the Evangelical Academy in Germany, who have declared that the Gospel of St. John is an “embassy of hate” (German: “eine Botschaft des Hasses”). He concludes: “…the message that is supposed to lead the people by way of faith and the Son to the Father, is in reality a message of marginalization, fear, anxiety and hate” (March 1989, cited in “Is St. John an Anti-Semite?” Culture Wars, 6-04, p. 21).

The CDF has already apologized for "anti-Semetic comments in the Gospels," namely, when Jesus told the Pharisees that their father was the devil (John 8:44). They can do this (so they think) because they don't believe Jesus said it or that John wrote it; rather, it was the product of an anti-semitic ghost writer of the second or third generation. So much for the art of "historical criticism." It makes the Bible a wax nose for those who don't like what it says.

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Question 72Geocentric theory question

Dear, Mr. Sungenis,

I am having trouble believing in the geocentric theory. My mom Kathy Redle believes in the geocentric theory. I am sort of confused on the matter. How would it be possible for the sun to be able to travel millions of miles around the earth in one day?

R. Sungenis: From the viewpoint of modern science, this is really no problem at all. General Relativity requires that there be no difference between a rotating earth in a fixed universe and a fixed earth in a rotating universe. Here is one quote from a General Relativist named Rosser:

...the stars would be moving relative to O’ [the observer] with linear velocities exceeding 3 x 108 m/sec, the terrestrial value of the velocity of light. At first sight this appears to be a contradiction…that the velocities of all material bodies must be less than c [the speed of light]. However, the restriction u < c = 3 x 108 m/sec is restricted to the theory of Special Relativity….If gravitational fields are present the velocities of either material bodies or of light can assume any numerical value depending on the strength of the gravitational field. If one considers the rotating roundabout as being at rest, the centrifugal gravitational field assumes enormous values at large distances, and it is consistent with the theory of General Relativity for the velocities of distant bodies to exceed 3 x 108 m/sec under these conditions.

Einstein himself said: "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]."

These quotes and many more will be in our upcoming book, Galileo Was Wrong, due out sometime next year.

Dan: Also I have a problem, I read your arguments against Hutton Gibson. I liked the explanations to an extent, but I have a problem. How would it be possible for there to be a winter solstice, a autumnal equinox, a spring equinox and a summer solstice? It would be impossible, for an example, for there to be a winter solstice because if the earth stood still and the sun traveled around the earth at any angle it would not be night for so many months. As I look at a diagram and try to see the possibility of the geocentric theory I cant quite grasp it. The only way it could be possible is if the sun traveled in no ordinary pattern. Maybe I'm wrong, if so please show me.

R. Sungenis: There is no geometic or mechanical difference in the two systems. In the heliocentric system the earth is tilted 23.5 degress. In the geocentric system the plane of the Sun's orbit is tilted 23.5 degrees in one season and will tilt back by 46 degrees over the next six months. Each day that the sun revolves around the earth the plane of its orbit will change by 46/365.24 or 0.1259 degrees.

Dan: I would also like the bible quotes showing the validity of your arguments. I am fourteen, a Catholic, and I get homeschooled, and my mom is having me read the articles from this web site.

R. Sungenis: One example is Joshua 10:12-14. Joshua stops the sun from moving across the sky in order to give him an extra day to defeat his enemy. He also stops the moon. Since both heliocentrists and geocentrists agree that the moon moves (it is 50 minutes behind the sun each day), then no one can claim that the language is merely phenomenal. There are many other passages like this in Scripture. Suffice it to say, Scripture never says the earth moves (diurnally and translationally) and always says the sun goes around the earth. All of this will be covered in our book.

Dan: I also have one more question even though the Popes in earlier times commanded Catholics to believe it if any one didn't believe in the geocentric theory would he be damned, since it doesn't apply to faith and morels?

Yours in Christ,
Dan Redle

R. Sungenis: The people of that day would have been required to give their "assent" to the papal order. Such a papal order was issued by Pope Urban VIII in 1633, as he sent his condemnation of Galileo and Copernicanism to all the papal nuncios of Europe. But unless he made his decree into an ex cathedra infallible statement, then no one would be condemned eternally for not obeying the pope at that time.

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Question 71Supersessionist Heresy?

Dear Robert, Continuing your recent Q&A postings about the Old Covenant, I am writing to see we are now "heretics" in believing that the New Covenant has superseded the Old (Mosaic) Covenant as defined below by a known Catholic theologian:

"Oben's summary of St. Edith Stein's synthesis of scholasticism and phenomenology is extremely helpful for understanding its continuing significance for Catholic thought today. I came away with the conviction that, in addition to being named a martyr of the Church, a very good case can be made that St. Edith Stein also should be named a doctor of the Church, one of very few women to be so honored. Oben is herself a Jewish convert to Catholicism who, like St. Edith Stein, maintains a deep sense of her Jewishness and of the respect Judaism is owed as a religion integral to itself and founded on divine revelation. This gives her a special sensitivity to the positive influence on future generations of Catholics that veneration of St. Edith Stein can have. The saint who died with and for her fellow Jews will always remain a goad to the conscience of Christians. She is a perpetual reminder on the Christian calendar of the utter sinfulness of anti-Semitism and the very real dangers of corruption of the faith when Christians fall -- as they did so often and for so many centuries leading up to the Holocaust -- into the twin heresies of supersessionism (the idea that Christianity has 'taken the place' of Judaism in God's heart) and triumphalism (the idea that Christianity is somehow 'superior' to Judaism, as if God played such petty games of favoritism with the history of salvation). What should emerge from Christian contemplation of St. Edith Stein's life and profound thought is a renewed appreciation of the mystery of salvation itself. It is a mystery in which the Church and the Jewish people are called, together and not in opposition, to witness to the infinite love and mercy of the one God of Israel who has called us both into being in order that we may prepare the way for the coming of God's Kingdom.
--Dr. Eugene Fisher, Associate Director of the US conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

(Dr Fisher is on the staff of USCCB) I suppose that Dr Fisher was partly responsible for the the 12-page document “Reflections on Covenant and Mission” dated August 12, 2002 by the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs, which the joint text stated: “Campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church.” The natural next step of all of this theological innovation, is that those Catholics who follow the eternal Magisterium and just simply read and believes in the Bible, are now heretics in believing that Jews should accept Jesus as the real Messiah,and that the Old (Mosiac) Covenant is replaced by the New Covenant. MY OPINION: As "liberal Catholics" become so friendly and accommodating with talmudic Judaism and proceed on to apostasy step by step from the True Catholic Faith, now these "liberal Catholics" proceed to vent all of their fury and charitable Christian goodness on their fellow Catholic brothers who simply just believe in the True Catholic Faith. We are definitely in the end of world times as per Matthew 24:44/DRV: "44 Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come.

45 Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season.

46 Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing.

47 Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.

48 But if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming:

49 And shall begin to strike his fellow servants, and shall eat and drink with drunkards:

50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day that he hopeth not, and at an hour that he knoweth not:

51 And shall separate him, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "

Our Lord saw, crystal clear, way in advance, how the final days of these End Times are to be: a persecution of True Catholic Believers from within his own Church, by his own "servants".

Note that the above was mentioned AFTER the signs of the Second Coming, so as to make it very clear this must be the situation to happen.

It seems to me that we gain much merit in the eyes of Our Lord in these Matthew-24 times, if we do not let ourselves be browbeaten by spurious accusations of heresy within our own Church and stick with steadfastness and no compromises to the True Catholic Faith.

Thanks,
Daniel

R. Sungenis: Daniel, the bishops of the USCCB have been in virtual schism from Rome and about as close to heresy as the bishops during the Arian crisis. The denial of supercessionism is one of the biggest and most serious heresies ever to hit the Catholic Church, but it is to be expected in what I believe are the last days of history. We know this as well when we see the fruits of it declare that we no longer need to seek to convert the Jews to Christianity. This is about as demonic as it can get. But all this has been predicted, and it is being fulfilled like clockwork.

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Question 70Purgatory

Hi Mr. Sungenis,

First let me start off by saying, I really enjoy your work. As a person who left the Catholic Church for a little while and joined A Non-Denom Bible only Church, who has realized that the Catholic Church is the ONE HOLY CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC CHURCH that JESUS Himself founded, let me say it is great to be back. It's apologists like you that has helped me strenghten my faith, it is 10x stronger now than it was for the first 30 some years of my life. When I decided to leave that Church and take my family to the Catholic Church, I met with the Pastor to tell him. Well, we talked for about 2 1/2 hours where we discussed many problems he had w/ the Church. One of the major problems he had was purgatory. In a follow up e-mail I had with him, I did my best at some very novice apologetics. Needless to say he is a lot more knowledgeable about scripture than myself. If you could help, here are my questions.

1) I used Matt 12:32 by saying this can't be Heaven because there is no sin in Heaven, and can't be Hell because once you're there it's too late. A) His response was the "age to come" was the new age/christian age which begun in Acts 2. Jesus was speaking in the Mosaic age.

2) I used 1Cor.3:13-15 and his response was that the text is referring to the Evangelistic efforts of men to convert the lost. If the teacher teaches in a weak way that does not stabilze converts, he will be saved by the skin of his teeth. There is no reference at all to suffering in Purgatory or anything representing temporary punishment.

3) And last I used Maccabees 12:43-46. And of course the response was, since the apocraphal books claim not to be inspired then they cant be inspired. He says prayers for the dead violates consistent scriptural teachings that say judgement is forever and ever.(John 5:28-29--Rev.20:10-15--Heb9:27). I'm sorry if this is too long but I look forward to your responses.

p.s. I would like to get involved in apologetics and learn as much about our Faith as I can. What do you believe is the best way to start and some good material to use. Feel free to suggest some of your work.

Thanks,

JC

B. Douglass: JC,

Thank you for the commendation. It is always appreciated. I'll go through your former pastor's objections in order.

1) Already in the Old Covenant, God declared "Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool" (Isaiah 1:18). The reason the unforgivable sin is unforgivable is not because it exceeds God's capacity to forgive (nothing can; His mercy is infinite, regardless whether one is under the Old or New Covenant), but because in order to commit it one must be in such an obstinate state that one will never repent. Jesus is emphasizing the permancy of the state, not the differences between the Old and New Covenants. Hence, it is logical to apply the two ages such that they cover the whole of the person's existence, before and after death.

2) Your pastor seems to be relying on the slanted translation of the NIV for his argument concerning 1 Cor 3:15. The NIV would give you the impression that the man is saved in spite of the fire, with just his coatails singed, as it were. However, the Greek is clear that the man is saved by means of the fire, not in spite of it. And given that the context is judgment day, he is therefore saved by means of the fire after he is dead. Hence, purgatory. Robert sells an entire tape dedicated to exegesis of this passage, and also has a section on it in Not by Faith Alone.

3) Ask your pastor where the so-called apocryphal books deny their inspiration. They do not. The authors express humility, and tell us about their sources, but that does not constitute a denial of inspiration. Otherwise we have to throw out Ephesians (v. 3:8) and Luke (vv. 1:1-4). Also, prayers for the dead are in no way incompatible with judgment being immediate and immutable. Catholic theology holds to both these truths, so your former pastor simply speaking from ignorance here. We pray to mitigate the punishments of Purgatory, not to get people out of hell.

If your pastor thinks prayers for the dead are unbiblical, ask him to explain 1 Corinthians 15:29. Regardless of what "baptized" refers to in this passage (whether suffering or the celebration of the Sacrament), the fact remains that the Cortinthains are offering some sort of religious act on behalf of the dead, and this act is unintelligible apart from belief in the afterlife. St. Paul's argument is basically, "if there's no afterlife, what's the point of offering a religious act dedicated to improving someone's lot in the afterlife?" Thus St. Paul cites prayers for the dead as evidence for the bodily resurrection. Also, ask your pastor whether it sounds like Onesiphorus is alive or dead in 2 Timothy 1:16-18, and if he thinks Onesiphorus is alive, ask him why St. Paul tells Timothy to greet the household of Onesiphorus, and not Onesiphorus himself.

I'll add one more argument for Purgatory which may be relevant, though it's only applicable if your former pastor believes in eternal security. It's from my essay on eternal security:

It is obvious from the first and last verses of the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35) that this parable represents the relationship of man to God: “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is likened to a king… So also shall my heavenly Father do to you” (Matt 18:23,35). The king in this parable represents God, and the servant represents us. The monstrous debt, ten thousand talants in all, which the servant owes the king (v. 24) represents the debt of sin. Like the servant in the parable, we fallen humans are so far in debt to our Lord that we could never begin to repay Him. We deserve to be sold along with everything we have (v. 25), and it is only the gratuitous mercy of God which can prevent this from happening. But God is very free with His mercy. Like the servant, if we fall humbly on our knees and beg our Lord for forgiveness (v. 26), He will be moved to pity and forgive our entire debt (v. 27). Thus, v 27's statement that the lord forgave the servant his entire debt must be a reference to justification, the point at which God forgives the penitent’s entire debt of sin.

But what happens immediately afterward? This “justified” servant then goes out and commits an atrocious sin: he fails to be merciful, as his earthly lord is merciful, and refuses to forgive a fellow servant who owes him a much smaller amount (v. 28). This verse is illustrative of those who, after God has wholly forgiven their monstrous debt of sin in Baptism, continue to hold grudges over minutiae and refuse to forgive their brethren. In vv. 32-34 Christ elucidates what will happen to such persons: the king of the parable revokes his grace and mercy, and throws the unforgiving servant to the torturers until he repays every last penny. The lesson, of course, is that if we do not forgive our brethren, this is what God will do to us.

There are two possible interpretations as to what exactly Jesus is referring to when he says that the king “delivered [the servant] to the torturers until he paid all the debt” (v. 34). If the “until” condition is never reached i.e. the servant is never able to repay the debt, then he will be with the torturers indefinitely, and thus this verse refers to hell. If the “until” condition is reached, on the other hand (which is unlikely given what a tremendous sum ten thousand talants is), then it could possibly refer to Purgatory. But in either case the conclusion is unacceptable to the Protestant believer in eternal security; a justified Christian could no more go to that mythical place called Purgatory in Roman theology than he could lose his salvation. Once his debt of sin has been imputed to Christ (the only way the Reformed believe one may obtain remission of sins) there can never be any danger of this debt being “reinstated” or of him falling back into debt, or any such thing. Once again, their doctrine has been explicitly contradicted by Sacred Scripture.

As for getting started in apologetics, my advice is to not jump into the deep end and start debating before you're ready. It's important to get a good background in theology and exegesis before you take on a difficult opponent. There's a reason the pre-Conciliar Church had an index of forbidden books, and one had to demonstrate competence before one recieved a dispensation to engage forbidden, heretical literature. There's a great potential for scandal when every Catholic with a keyboard and some zeal becomes an amateur apologist and starts debaing Protestants online; he can very well make poor arguments and lose the debate, potentially badly. For someone new at the game, my advice ould be to pick topics you think highly relevant, spend some time and write thoroughly researched articles on those topics. Then let someone more knowledgable read them before you post them online. In the meantime, read orthodox biblical commentaries, the 1994 Catechism, the Roman Catechism, Denzinger, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, Papal encyclicals, Church history, some philosophical Catholic apologetics for use against secularists (such as Msgr. Paul Glenn, Apologetics, and Fr. John Laux, Catholic Apologetics, both reproduced by TAN), and some biblical and historical apologetics for use against Protestants (like Sungenis' three "Not by" books; Jesus, Peter, and the Keys; Upon this Rock; Any Friend of God's is a Friend of Mine; and St. Francis de Sales' Catholic Controversy). You should have enough background to do written debates pretty quickly, and enough to do oral debates in a few years.

JMJ,
Ben Douglass

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Question 69Mark 7:21 and Lust

Hi, Iam not only concerned with the words of Christ, but with all of Scriopture. And I simply cannot find any reference showing that it is a sin for unmarried men to lust after women. I think there might be a case in Mark 7, but I would have to do more exegetical work on that passage. Thanks.

Euthemius

R. Sungenis: Even if you couldn't find a Bible passage, it doesn't mean that either the Bible or Christianity would allow an unmarried man to lust after a woman. The Bible doesn't say that homosexuals cannot marry, but it doesn't have to do so, because it has already condemned sexual relations between men. The Bible doesn't specifically say it is wrong to kill a baby in the womb, but we know from every principle about human life taught in Scripture that abortion is, indeed, wrong. I would suggest you stop trying to knit-pick Scripture in order to win an argument. Moreover, the Church and Tradition have clearly stated that lust, whether it comes from a married man or unmarried man, is sin

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Question 68Conservative University?

Robert,

I know your opinion of so-called Catholic colleges such as Georgetown and Catholic University, but could you tell me what you think of Christendom College, in Front Royal, VA, as well as the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College in ALexandria, VA?

Which other schools would you recommend for a good Catholic education?

Thanks.

Dan

R. Sungenis: Dan, I think, by and large, Christendom and NDGS are good schools. At least they don't teach the liberal garbage you get at CUA and Georgetown. I even substituted for one of the professors at NDGS a few years ago.

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Question 67On Jesus and Mark 7:21

Hi, you said: "Mark 7:21-23: For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."

My response: Here Jesus places adulteries and fornications as "evil thoughts." But He didn't specifically say that it is a sin for an unmarried man to lust after a woman. Lust is not fornication or adultery. I do believe it is a sin to lust after a woman, but I need Scripture to support this belief. Thanks.

R. Sungenis: I didn't quote Mark 7:21 specifically for fornication and adultery, but for lasciviousness and an evil eye, both of which refer to lust. Besides, if you are looking, as you say, for "Scripture to support this belief," then there is no reason to confine the search (as you requested previously) to what Jesus said on the subject

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Question 66The Great Apostasy

The "Great Apostasy" spoken of by St. Paul will happen. How could you foresee this taking place. It seems hard to imagine that a billion Catholics will be actively following Satan! My guess is that they will still think that they are Catholics, when actually they are not.

FSHG

R. Sungenis: The same way that out of about 5-10 million Israelites in Elijah's time (circa 800 BC) only 7,000 of them didn't bow the knee to Baal (Romans 11:3-8). St. Paul warns that the same thing could happen to us, and that the Old Testament narratives were written precisely to provide that information to us (1 Corinthians 10:1-12).

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Question 65Imprecatory Prayers

Mr. Sungenis,

I attended a Mass recently in which the priest called psalms that call for God's punishment of evildoers "unchristian" (examples would be Psalms 108 & 136, Douay-Rheims). Of course I know that this is absurd, but I'm wondering if you can give me a good explanation of how psalms such as these should be understood by the reader. Thanks for all of your fantastic work.

Andrew

R. Sungenis: Andrew, these are called "Imprecatory" Psalms. They are not "unChristian." We have samples of them in the New Testament as well (e.g. Apocalypse 6:9-10: And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (Holy and True), dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?").

As St. Paul says in 2 Thess 1:6: "Seeing it is a just thing with God to repay tribulation to them that trouble you"

See also passages such as 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 14-15, and there are many others.

When a Christian prays an Imprecatory prayer he is actually following the divine prescription that only God can issue vengeance against the sinner, and he has the right to call down that vengeance. As St. Paul says in Romans 12:19: "Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."

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Question 64Where did Jesus condemn lust?

Hi, thanks for your response. You said: "No, Jesus did not forbid only married men against lusting after women; rather, he said that if a married man lusts after a woman he has already committed the sin of adultery. Big difference".

My reply: If that is the case, can you show me where Jesus specifically forbade unmarried men to lust after women? Thanks

Euthemius

R. Sungenis: Mark 7:21-23: For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

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Question 63Good Biblical Commentaries

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

Laudetur Jesus Christus!

God reward you for your hard work regarding Catholic apologetics. I tend to lead toward Geocentrism as the paterological truth, and it is quite hard trying to convince people that it is certainly a legitimate traditional, biblical and theological understanding. Also it is provable with science, though I have not gotten into the mathematical detail. It is extremely hard convincing people even the possibility that it could be true, and when you tell people that all the fathers and mostly all of the doctors of the church beleived it they tend to think you are crazy because for some reason Galileo must have been much more knowledgeable than thousands of years of tradition! :)

Anyway, I was wondering about good scriptural commentaries. I know about the Haydock, Catena Aurea, Cornelius a Lapide, and I wish to get yours but I am a poor Ave Maria University student (wink-wink, nudge-nudge). So my question is what else is traditionally theologically sound besides the above stated.

Pax Christi,

Malcolm

B. Douglass: Malcolm,

I've heard good things about Bishop Knecht's A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture, recently reproduced by TAN. If you read French, you will also find Dom Augustine Calmet's commentary invaluable. Fr. Haydock draws on his work very frequently. St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote extensive commentaries on the Canticle of Canticles, which Cistercian Publications has translated into English. If you read Latin, look through the indices of Migne's Patrologiae Latinae, and you'll find that medieval Catholics had a penchant for writing commentaries on the Psalms and on the Canticle of Canticles. All of them will be more or less theologically sound. Unfortunately, not much of it is available in English.

Both the Greek and the Latin Fathers wrote extensive commentaries on Scripture. You can find St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom's commentaries in English in NPNF. Unfortunately, the commentaries of no less prominent a Father than St. Jerome are still available only in Latin, in Migne or the more recent Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum. Also, you'll find that while a lot of Fathers and medievals never wrote books entitled Commentary on Genesis, Matthew, etc, if you look through their sermons they have a tremendous amount to say about Holy Scripture.

From what I've heard, though I don't have much first hand knowledge, the Navarre Bible commentary is solid for the New Testament, though in the Old Testament it caves in to "higher" criticism in parts.

JMJ,
Ben Douglass

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Question 62Protestant and Catholic bibles and index of forbidden books

Robert,

I notice that you frequently use protestant versions of scripture in your articles and other works. I believe that at least some of the protestant versions of scripture were once on the Index of Forbidden Books. Although I am aware that the Index currently exists only as a historical document, I was wondering if the spirit of the Index is still alive, and if so, to what extent? For instance, I am currently a philosophy student (at a Catholic college) and am required to read works by Descartes, Hume and Sartre, each of who's complete works were on the Index. Should I be abstaining from these authors?

Also, you often indicate that some protestant versions of scripture are better than some Catholic versions. Should Catholics simply choose the best translation, regardless of whether it is protestant or Catholic or should one always opt for the Catholic version as a rule?

Gregory S.

R. Sungenis: Gregory, I would suggest that, if you are not strong enough intellectually to refute a Descartes or Hume, it would be better to read a critique of their work written by a qualified Catholic, say, someone like Deitrich von Hildebrand or Joseph Marra would be a good start, and there are many others.

As for Scripture versions, since I know the original languages, I have the luxury of deciding which Scripture version I will use at a particular time, and often I give my own translation. Also, I often use Protestant translations just to show that Catholicism can be proven from a Protesant Bible, as I did in Not By Faith Alone when I used the New International Version in the main.

But those who are not versed in the original languages should stick with Catholic versions of the Bible, and it is good to have more than one translation. I would have the Douay-Rheims and the RSV Catholic edition, side by side. For children I would recommend the Today's English Version for Catholics.

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Question 61Human Genome proves evolution? 2

Dear Robert,

I would like to sincerly thank you for having taken the time (and so quickly) to answer my inquiries. I'm not as conversent as I use to be with the scientific jargon, and I tend to get impressed with the grand posturing taken by evolutionists. Thank God some people are there to point out that the emperor has no clothes. Thank you so much for CAI and its work; I'm looking forward to "Not By Science Alone".

God bless you!

Sylvain

R. Sungenis: My pleasure, Sylvain. Keep the faith! The time is short.

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Question 60Human Genome proves evolution?

Greetings,

First I would like to apologise for the grammatical errors you will find in my letter (I'm french canadian). I'm writing this letter concerning the creation/evolution in the hope that you will be able to help me. My first real encounter with the contreversy was in early 1990 when I started to attend the university of Montreal. I took a couple of classes that dealt with evolution and was exposed to the virulant criticism of evolutionist againts creationism. I was deeplyshaken in my faith, but fortunately was also providentialy directed to ministries and associationsthat dealt with these issues. Back then I read all the major works and was quite conversent with the basic terminology and the various theories of evolution and their short-comings. Then I got satisfied with it and didn't really keep up with the "evolving" development of the debate...until recently.While surfing the net, I came upon the writings of christian evolutionists (such as Phil Porvaznik ) and the people of the American Scientific Association. I was quite troubled by what was a far stronger case for evolution than I had previously encountered. I could never become a theistic evolutionist. If the Church is not reliable for scientific, material matters, why would it be for spiritual ones. If we were wrong for 2000 years on the matter of the origins of everything, it would be quite likely we are wrong on a great deal of other things. Along this letter I enclose an article on the "christian" Francis S. Collins who is the director of the Human Genome Project. Reading this article made me wonder if in the last 15 years the creationist perspective hasn't been completely discredited. Here are some quotations that illustrate the crux of the matter; they are from Francis S. Collins:

The bulk of the article is an elaboration of his observation from his work on the genome and appears quite convincing. I hope that again I can salvage my faith, but how long can one live in fear that the next scientific discovery will again set the ferris wheel in another round of doubt. I'm unfortunately one who pushes every ideas to their logical conclusion. If evolution is true, I can become nothing else but a nihilist, and consistent nihilists are not the happiest of peoples. I pray that you will be able to provide me with the answers I sorely need.

Yours sincerly,
Sylvain

R. Sungenis: Sylvain, Mr. Provaznik has been answered repeatedly by our organization. in the last exchange we had, he referred me to someone else because he couldn't answer my question. The question was: If modern science only has 80 specimens of what they call transitional forms, where are the rest of them? You see, if transitional forms existed, their fossils should number in the millions. If they don't number in the millions, then it means that the 80 so-called samples they have are not transitional forms, but merely remnants of creatures that are species variations.

Moreover, you can access our rebuttal to Mr. Provaznik HERE

Now, I will answer the assertions of Mr. Collins:

Francis Collins: "From my perspective as a scientist working on the genome, the evidence in favor of evolution is overwhelming. What are the arguments in favor of evolution? Let me quickly describe two arguments. (1) The fossil record.

Macroevolution has growing and compelling evidence to support it. Elephants, turtles, whales, birds often have been cited as species where transitional species have not been identified. That is no longer true. We have gained more in the fossil record in the last ten years than in almost the entire previous history of science.

R. Sungenis: No they haven't. Rather, they have made a concerted effort to interpret the fossil record to their liking. Ken Miller, biologist at Princeton, says he has only 80 transitional forms. But as I said above, that is a embarrassing disproportion of what would be required to substantiate their claims. And if these transitional forms have been found, then why are they not being advertised on the CBS evening news and TIME magazine, and all over the media world, considering the fact that all these media outlets were told amost three decades ago by Stephen Gould in 1980 that there were NO transitional forms? This would be the greatest evidence since the so-called "missing link" escapade in the 1950s. In short, Sylvain, this is a bunch of poppycock. They have finally figured out that the only way to deal with the fact that there are no transitional forms is to start creating transitional forms, because they know that no one in the evolutionary world is going to contest the claims. At least Stephen Gould was honest. Today's evolutionists are desperate. They still haven't learned their lesson from Piltdown Man and Peking Man.

Francis Collins: (2) The DNA evidence for evolution. I mentioned the ancient repeats we share with mice in the same location showing no conceivable evidence of function, diverging at a constant rate just as predicted by neutral evolution. One could only conclude that this is compelling evidence of a common ancestor or else that God has placed these functionless DNA fossils in the genome of all living organisms in order to test our faith. I do not find that second alternative very credible.

After all God is the greatest scientist. Would he play this kind of game? Arguments against macroevolution, based on so-called gaps in the fossil records, are also profoundly weakened by the much more detailed and digital information revealed from the study of genomes. Outside of a time machine, Darwin could hardly have imagined a more powerful data set than comparative genomics to confirm his theory.

R. Sungenis: This is what he calls "overwhelming evidence"? It is nothing but an argument from silence, and a bad one at that. Just because he sees some similarities in DNA between species doesn't mean a thing. That's like saying that there is some similarity between lead and gold because they are both made up of protons and electrons. You know, they also used to tell us that tonsils "had no function" in the human body, and thus in the 50s and 60s they were ripping them out of our throats by the millions. Then they later found that tonsils actually collect bacteria before it travels down the throat and makes us sick, which is the reason they are sometimes inflammed. Don't believe a word of his take on DNA. When evolutionist can tell us how DNA can make the genes to produce the next upward progression to the next species, then they have something, but none of them have been able to show this. DNA is species specific, and the only modifications we have seen are within the species, not anything resembling an upward progression to a totally different species. That's right, God doesn't play games. Genesis 1 tells us that He created all things ex nihilo, and he created the species "in their kinds."

Francis Collins: Professor Darrel Falk has recently pointed out that one should not take the view that young-earth creationism is simply tinkering around the edges of science. If the tenets of young earth creationism were true, basically all of the sciences of geology, cosmology, and biology would utterly collapse. It would be the same as saying 2 plus 2 is actually 5. The tragedy of young-earth creationism is that it takes a relatively recent and extreme view of Genesis, applies to it an unjustified scientific gloss, and then asks sincere and well-meaning seekers to swallow this whole, despite the massive discordance with decades of scientific evidence from multiple disciplines. Is it any wonder that many sadly turn away from faith concluding that they cannot believe in a God who asks for an abandonment of logic and reason?"

R. Sungenis: Sylvain, assertions don't prove anything. The evolutionist are constantly trying to make fools out of creationists, and the make silly claims that creationist are not using science. Let me tell you something: creationists have more science behind them, especially in the last 30 years, than all the science of evolution since the time of Darwin. But the name of this game is impressions. As long as you give the impression to your waiting audience that creationists are "unscientific," then whichever choir to whom you preach will wag their heads in agreement.

You tell Francis Collins that anytime he would like to have a formal debate about this topic, I'm game. I'm rather sick of these people passing themselves off as scientists when, in fact, they are nothing but ideologues.

Robert Sungenis

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Question 59Does God Exist?

I think you may have misunderstood me there. I don't believe in god/gods because it hurts my pride or anything. That would be illogical and irrational. I don't believe in god/gods because there is no evidence, whatsoever, at all, for any sort of divine being. And given that trancendance is often a property given to god/gods, there cannot be any evidence. In which case, there isn't any (logical) reason to accept the existance of a God. And I think you'll find that that IS the kind of God expressed in the Bible. For example, Solomon 11:24-26, Romans 5:8-10, Romans 8:31-37. Please note that I am, in fact, an atheist. I'm just not above quoting a source you consider infallible at you.

R. Sungenis: No evidence? Look all around you and tell me if you can honestly say that it all came by chance and self-generation. The mere fact that you are sitting here discussing whether God exists shows that a search for the divine has already been implanted in your being. Raw matter doesn't think about such things. And as long as we're quoting Romans, I think you ought to take a look at this one:

Romans 1:19-20: Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

How does a geocentrist explain the position of the Earth in the Milky Way? We aren't anywhere near central in that. We sit on the outer fringe, a diminuitive, unimportant, solar system. We aren't the centre of the universe, or the universe is surprisingly lop-sided, which don't sound too perfect to me.

R. Sungenis: Modern science has no evidence that we are in an outer arm of the Milky Way. That is all conjecture based on the theory of heliocentrism. No one has taken a photo of the Milky Way nor shown us where Earth is in its arms.

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Question 58Matthew 5:28 and adultery

Hi, I need your help. Someone told me that when Jesus forbade men to lust after women, He was only talking about married men. How would you respond to this? Also, can you give me any other biblical passages showing that it is a sin to lust after women? Thanks.

Euthemius

R. Sungenis: No, Jesus did not forbid only married men against lusting after women; rather, he said that if a married man lusts after a woman he has already committed the sin of adultery. Big difference. (Because Matthew 5:28 is speaking about the sin of adultery only, then the context of the passage is only focusing on married men, since only a married person can commit adultery).

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Question 57Searching for a Good Distance Learning Program

Dear CAI,

I am looking for a good orthodox/traditional MA in Theology program done by distance learning. I have already checked off my list Catholic Distance University (they teach modernism) and Franciscan University (too charismatic). However, I would appreciate your opinion on Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Conn. (http://www.holyapostles.edu/), on whether you believe this institution would be conservative enough to attend by distance learning, compared to the other previously mentioned schools.

Thanks for the help and God Bless,

Joe

B. Douglass: Joe,

I know nothing more about Holy Apostles College than what they have on their website, so I can't say for certain. Most everything in the course descriptions looks good, though I didn't find anything that really impressed me (like Christendom's courses on modernism and the Kingship of Christ over nations). I also got the impression that the courses on Scripture study might be a bit to the left of the magisterial decrees of the PBC on issues of the date and authorship of various biblical books. You'll have to write them to get more details.

In any case, chances are that a well informed, orthodox man will be able to get through a distance learning program with his faith intact, even if the program contains some elements of error. Catholic Treasures advertises tapes by a man who managed to get through a degree program from Mt. St. Mary's Seminary (Conservative Novus Ordo) believing that Protestants worship a false god, so if he can remian that far to the theological right in a Novus Ordo Seminary, you can probably keep lock step with sacred Tradition in a distance learning program that may be lacking in some respects.

JMJ,
Ben

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Question 56The nature of revelation

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I'm trying to get an understanding of types of revelation. My understanding of the Bible and revelation is that it is a special type of revelation 'inspired revelation'. That through the hand of Man, the Word of God is provided. The first part that confuses is that I would think that this would be an intercession of the Holy Spirit, but the Hebrew, or Old Testament is prior to the sending of the Paraclete. The second part is how was it determined that 'inspired revelation' was over and the canon closed. I've read the decree from the Council of Trent, but I'm having problems finding pointers to the underlying theology. To point a fine point on the issue: His Holiness John Paul II recognized Maria Faustina as an Apostle and Prophet as well as Saint, so she received Revelation from God. Where does that put a work like her diaries in relation to the Bible?

Thanks in advance for your time

Dan Galloway

B. Douglass: Dan,

Benedict XV explained the nature of Scriptural inspiration in Spiritus Paraclitus: "God, through His grace, illumines the writer's mind regarding the particular truth which, "in the person of God," he is to set before men... God moves the writer's will - nay, even impels it - to write; finally, ...God abides with him unceasingly, in unique fashion, until his task is accomplished."

The works of the Holy Trinity are inseperable, so the Holy Spirit has been active and working in the world since (cf. Gen 1:2). That, at the time of the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit had not yet been sent to establish the Christian Church at Pentecost, is irrelevant to the inspiration of the Old Testament.

There's no real theological reason why God would inspire 73 books, and not 72 or 74. It's simply how many He saw fit to inspire. There was dispute in the early Church over which books were inspired, but God providentially guided the Church to correctly discern the canon of Scripture, which she did at the Synod of Laodicea, the Synod of Rome under Pope Damasus, the Synod of Hippo, the III Synod of Carthage, and the Council of Florence. From a human perspective, the Council Fathers would have reached their conclusions by examining the recieved apostolic tradition.

Private revelation differs from public revelation in that it contains no new doctrine, and that it does not bind the consciences of the faithful. But, assuming that they're genuine, things like the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Sienna (most of which is spoken by God in the first person) or the Liber Celestis of St. Bridget of Sweden (in which God, Our Lady, and some of the saints all speak) would constitute direct divine revelation, like the Bible.

JMJ,
Ben Douglass

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Question 55Vatican II and the Holy Ghost

Hi Robert Sorry about my last email, I forgot to sign my name!

Also, I noticed you have defended the Vatican II Council as being protected from error by the Holy Ghost.

I would like to give you more supporting information on that:

"A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture" Imprimatur 1923, by TAN Books, page 789:

"What was the significance of the decision arrived at by the Council of Jesusalem (AD 50)? The decision of the Council was not merely the result of a consultation of a number of wise and holy pastors, but it was a decision made under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. The apostles were convinced that the Holy Ghost had conducted their discussion and decision, and preserved them from error. When, therefore, they announced their decision to the Christian Church, they did not say: "We have decided in such and such a way", but: "It hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us" so to decide.

The same applies in matters of doctrine to the decisions of every General Council which has been held, because it was to the Church in her office of teacher that our Lord promised to send the Spirit of Truth, to be with her and guide her unto all truth, and to direct her definitions of what it is that God has revealed on any point of doctrine.

The Infallibility of the Church is a great consolation for all the faithful. The Gentile Christians at Antioch "were filled with consolation" when they learnt the decision of the Council: for now all their doubts and fears were set at rest, and they knew exactly what God required of them. So also is it a great joy and consolation for us, living as we do in the midst of the errors and false doctrines of the age, to know that we have a guiding star by which we can steer our course, namely the infallible teaching of the Holy Church of God, which is, in the words of St. Paul (1 Tim. 3, 15), "the pillar and ground of the Thuth", being unerringly guided by the Holy Ghost. We live at rest, protected from all anxious doubts, for by believing in the Church we believe in the Spirit of Truth, and we know that our faith does not rest on human but on divine authority. By yielding our faith to the teaching of the Church we submit our finite reason and our erring spirits to the Supreme Reason and Spirit of God, who is Eternal Truth."

R. Sungenis: Thank you for your comments. The certainly add to the discussion. I just want to mention one area of clarification: Vatican II was error-free when it spoke on matters of faith and morals, and in that way the Church remains indefectible, but not all areas about which it spoke were faith and morals. Some were advisory or mere suggestions (e.g., Gaudium et spes' opinion for world government). Also, at the Council of Jerusalem, the decisions were divided into two categories: (1) dogmatic and (2) pastoral. The dogmatic decision was that circumcision would no longer be required because the Old Testament law had been abolished. The second decision was pastoral, since it recommended disciplines that later in the Church's life were rescinded.

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Question 54Alexander VII (Geocentrism)

Mr. Sungenis,

As someone who supports gencentrism, I was hoping that you could help me locate an authentic source on the matter.

I am looking for a full translation of Speculatores Dominus Israel issued by Pope Alexander VII. I have read exerts, but I feel the need to read it in its entirety to come to conclusion on what someone asserted that it says using cutting and pasting and a lot of ...'s

Do you know where a translation of this document exists? I looked on your site, but could not find it.

Thank you,
Matthew Vetter

R. Sungenis: Matthew, it is actually Speculatores Domus Israel. Attached to Speculatores Domus Israel is a condemnation of all those advancing the Copernican view of cosmology. You will see the names Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and their books being condemned, and the name of Alexander VII both before and after the listing of names:

“Index Librorum Prohibitorum, Alexandri Septimi [Alexander VII] Pontificis Maximi juffu editus: Copernicanæ Aftrologiæ Epitome. vide, Ioannis Kepleri; Copernicus. vide, Nicolaus.” (p. 30); “Galileo Galilei. Vide, Dialogo di Galileo.” (p. 52); “Ioannis Keppleti Epitome Aftronomiæ Copernicanæ” (p. 73), attached to: “…Bullam Alexandri VII, P. M. qualis est in limine Editonis Superioris Anni, qui est M, DC, LXIV [1664]. Nam licèt nonnulla contineat, quæ ad illam Editionem, ejusque dispositionem speciatim pertinent, non sufficiebat tamen ea ratio, vt ejus lectione non fruerentur hic Fideles. Alexander Papa VII, Ad perpetuma rei Memoriam. Speculatores Domus Israel…” (p. 137).

All of this, and much more, will be in our book Galileo Was Wrong.

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Question 53Notions of the Magisterium 8

R. Sungenis: So, as Jesus taught, we are to be as gentle as doves but as cautious as snakes. If I can mix metaphors: without a drawbridge to the outside, the "fortress mentality" of traditionalism is hobbling on one leg.

Matthew: I’m sorry, but since when did we need an ecumenical council to tell Catholics to be kind and gentle towards the ignorant and erring? That is simply the practice of regular virtue. Do you call a family meeting to discuss what color of socks you should wear today? I must say, I don’t know what a “fortress mentality” means. Militancy is a primary characteristic of the Church and Catholics that has been forgotten and obscured. The Church has always been an established “fortress” and “kingdom”. So I really don’t know what you are talking about. I do not mean to offend, but it seems to me that what you are taking in the right hand, you are giving away in the left. You see the problem, but refuse to locate its source. And this goes back to a correct and realistic notion of the Magisterium, which was what this was originally about. If you would like to discuss the particular controversies concerning Catholics (religious liberty, ecumenism, false religions, collaboration with heretics and schismatics, traditional thomistic theology and philosophy, the notion of authority and law, etc.), I would gladly oblige.

R. Sungenis: Matthew, it seems you are really trying hard to be obtuse. You say "I’m sorry, but since when did we need an ecumenical council to tell Catholics to be kind and gentle towards the ignorant and erring?" Tell me this, Matthew: why does Scripture constantly, on almost every page, keep telling us to be "kind and gentle toward the ignorant and erring"? In fact, there is no message more prominent than that one. Jesus himself said the whole Law could be summed up in two commandments: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Unfortunately, with our sin and pride leading the way in our lives, we need to be told the message of being "kind and gentle toward the ignorant and erring" every day, because it is easy to forget. It's easy to live inside our shells; it's hard to come out and express love to others. That's why we need to be prodded.

God be with you, Matthew.

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Question 52Notions of the Magisterium 7

R. Sungenis: Even in the Reflections on Ecumenism written in 1970, we see these principles. On the one hand, "dialogue" is for the purpose of "replacing the rivalries of former times by ties of mutual help and collaboration," yet on the other hand, in the next paragraph it cautions: "It goes without saying that such dialogue requires of the Catholic participants a very serious, specific preparation for the questions on the agenda. Care will be taken to note the necessary differences between the Church's dogma, the great spiritual and liturgical traditions, and the legitimate options in the matter of free discussion and research."

Matthew: I wonder: Is providing catholics with an ecumenical liturgy to celebrate on Sundays within these vague boundaries that can be interpreted in wildly different fashions? The fallacy of “corporate re-union” was detected and destroyed by theologians far before the Council even began. Where is grace? Where is the ecclesia docens? Where is the ultimate requirement of submission? It is not there, never has been there and never will be there so long as Ecumenists are strangling, confusing and muddling the Catholic Church and Her primary mission: The salvation of souls.

R. Sungenis: You're right. So go teach them that the main message of Vatican II and the Tradition was the salvation of souls. Take the Church away from the liberals. As it stands now, they love your objections, because it draws you further and further from the Church, and it allows them to fill the vacuum.

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Question 51Notions of the Magisterium 6

R. Sungenis: Jesus did the same. He was constantly in "dialogue" with the people, and in the process he opened many hearts to the Gospel. In fact, "dialogue" shows you whether the people will be receptive to the Gospel. In the case of the Pharisees, the "dialogue" revealed their hearts were closed.

Matthew: Jesus “taught with authority”, Robert. Ecumenists abhor dogmatic authority as a general rule. Having conversations with prospective converts is one thing, I for one enjoy the Socratic method of inquiry, but attempting to discover how they are already members of the Body of Christ through formal theological “dialogue” is quite another. I’m surprised you don’t see this difference.

R. Sungenis: We're not talking about what liberals do with Vatican II, but what Vatican II actually said. I'm surprised you don't see the difference.

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Question 50Notions of the Magisterium 5

Matthew: It has been stated time and time again by Vatican officials, implicitly and explicitly that the modern ecumenism adopted by the Church does not have as its object the conversion of lost souls to the Catholic Church. It has become a tool for conciliar ecclesiology. Have you ever wondered why “dialogue” and “ecumenism” go hand in hand? Because, by “dialogue” Catholics can ostensibly come to understand what unites us hitherto quite unknown. It is irenic at its roots. Divisions lose their antithesis and become a thing for “historical consciousness” to caress and smooth from the minds of Catholics. The Hegelian Synthesis is put into play and what was once considered contradictions become “complimentary”. The work of Ecumenism is the grand “synthesis” between the antithesis and thesis. This all can be gathered from the writings of John Paul II, Card. Ratzinger, and Card. Kasper. As such, there is no place for this attitude or practice since it is formally contradictory to Christ’s commands and traditional orthodoxy and praxis. The negation between “conversion” and “non-conversion” is apparent and destroys and diachronic identity with the past.

R. Sungenis: Yes, you point out all the dangers. I am in agreement with the dangers. I've written about them extensively. But the dangers should not force me to put bars and gates around my house. I still have to step out in the world and relate to people as human beings who need love and the message of the Gospel. You can have both, and both are taught in Scripture and Tradition.

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Question 49Notions of the Magisterium 4

Matthew: A political philosophy would not normally be rejected at all if it is in accord with proper dogmatic and philosophic principles. But a philosophy of man that is humanistic and liberal; that grants “freedom of conscience” to all whether in private or public based speciously upon “man’s dignity” can be questioned for these very things have been condemned by the Magisterium. It seems you do not believe that the Church has ever spoken on these subjects. On the contrary, there is quite a tradition of papal teaching dealing with these very subjects

R. Sungenis: Matthew, I'm quite familiar with the traditional documents that are claimed to be condemning religious liberty, and I have dealt with them at length with other people. I have shown that the previous documents do not condemn religious liberty. In each case, the statements from the document are taken out of context. Most errors in theology occur when things are taken out of context. If you would like to take another whack at it, I'm open to see it.

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Question 48Griff Ruby on Vatican II and Fatima's Third Secret

Is this credible?

Griff Ruby is talking about the Vatican heiarchy when he writes, "In keeping with that attitude of treating Vatican II like some sacred cow, they went through motions of pretending to release the famous 'Third Secret of Fatima' which unfortunately is not the Third Secret which John XXIII read in 1960, at which point the seer claimed it would be clearer. That latter document consists of a single page (unlike the new one released which is four pages long), and begins with the phrase 'In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved . . . ' Because it went on to warn the Pope against holding a Council, one can see why that document shall never be released so long as Vatican II continues to be their sacred cow. Indeed, it was the children of Fatima who were the main "prophets of doom and gloom" that John XXIII was talking about in his opening remarks at Vatican II" (Ruby 223).

Here's my citation:

Ruby, Griff. "The Resurrection of the Roman Catholic Church: A Guide to the Traditional Roman Catholic Movement." New York: Writer's Club Press, 2002.

Thanks.

God bless,
Bill

R. Sungenis: Some of it is true, but the part about "Because it went on to warn the Pope against holding a Council" is not true. One could only know this if he has read the Fatima secret himself, and Griff Ruby certainly hasn't been made privy to it. Also, it the Fatima message was written on two separate documents, one a multi-page and the other a single sheet.

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Question 47Arinze on Assisi

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I quickly skimmed through your article on Assisi and found it quite fascinating. I will have to read it more attentively next time. I was wondering if you ever listened to the "defense" of Assisi that Cardinal Arinze gave to Mother Angelica a few years ago on what the event really was. It can be found towards the end of this archived audio of Mother Angelica Live:

HERE

God Bless,
Laurence Gonzaga

San Bernardino, CA

Catechist

R. Sungenis: Yes, Laurence, I watched that program back in 1998, and I listened to it again now that you have sent the link. But as much as love Cardinal Arinze, and thought his answers to the other questions on the show were quite good, he basically side-stepped the Assisi issue and/or made it into something other than what occurred.

He merely stated that the world's religions were called together to pray for peace. He said there was no "syncretism." He said there was "no praying together." Yes, he is right about those things, but those descriptions miss the point of the objections that critics have raised against Assisi.

The main objection is that John Paul II told pagan religions to pray to their pagan gods, and that through these pagan gods, they would somehow have access to the true God who would then grant them their request for world peace.

Instead of teaching the pagans that they should be praying directly to the true God and that pagan idols are not of God, he made it appear as if their religions had validity and substance.

Moreover, for the next 16 years he never once preached the Gospel of salvation to any of those pagans who were at Assisi, and they are now back in their nations thinking that they can still pray to their pagan gods for blessings on earth.

None of them know the way of salvation, for it was never told to them. All that was important to the pope was "world peace." Unfortunately, we still don't have world peace, and I can't help but attribute that to the fact that the consecration that Our Lady requested, and for which She promised us world peace, was never done correctly in 1984. Two years after the consecration was muffed, the pope goes to the pagans of the world to ask for world peace.

Wasn't Our Lady good enough? I wonder what She must be thinking right now.

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Question 46Wearing of Veils

Robert,

You have already answered this - it's on your website. I was reffering to Michelle Arnold's piece. Then again, there is probably nothing in hers that you didn't already answer. If you look at Jimmy's blog though you will notice that there are comments posted after it by others. Someone brought up the Canon 21 (?) argument against him (the canon that says laws are not revoked unless specifically done so). Akin replied as follows (a response to this reply of his is not included in your original article).

"Canon 21 refers principally to laws that are found outside the Code of Canon Law, either universal legal norms not mentioned in the Code or the laws of particular territories or groups.

Whether those laws have been revoked can more easily be in doubt than whether the 1917 Code has been revoked. There is no doubt about that.

Canon 6 revoked the prior Code of Canon Law, which contained the requirement of head coverings. Thus that law is revoked. If it is not repeated in other currently-in-force legal documents (and it is not) then there is no requirement."

Also someone else noted that:

"The New Testament also requires us to abstain from eating blood, eating animals that are stangled, and required men not to wear headcoverings in Church.

If these were all forever binding, then we Christians would not be allowed to eat blood or animals that are strangled, and priests and bishops would be sinning when they wore birettas or mitres in Church! Or when Eastern monks wore their own special headcoverings in Church!"

Answering these two short objections might be a better use of your time in hindsight because they haven't been addressed yet.

R. Sungenis: Akin's statement above: "Canon 21 refers principally to laws that are found outside the Code of Canon Law, either universal legal norms not mentioned in the Code or the laws of particular territories or groups," is a presumption he is making. The text of Canon 21 does not make such a distinction. Title I of the 1983 Code of Canon Law includes Canons 7-22, and under that Title the category of laws with which it is dealing is noted as "Ecclesiastical Laws."

Moreover, it certainly would be contradictory for Canon Law to allow itself to revoke a pre-existing law by mere presumption, but not allow a non-canonical law to do the same, especially in light of the numerous statements from Canon 1 through Canon 28 which put safeguards around pre-existing laws and specifically stating that they cannot be nullified by mere presumption (namely, Canon 4, 5, 10, 14, 26, 28).

Also, his statement: “Canon 6 revoked the prior Code of Canon Law, which contained the requirement of head coverings. Thus that law is revoked. If it is not repeated in other currently-in-force legal documents (and it is not) then there is no requirement," is a half-truth. Yes, canon 6 revoked the prior Code, but it didn’t revoke customs that stemmed from tradition and which merely happened to be included in the prior Code. Akin is making it sound as if 1917 was the first time Catholic women wore head-coverings. In actuality, the 1917 code is merely confirming what the Church already knew and practiced, as mandated from Scripture. As such, the wearing of head coverings goes beyond Canon Law and becomes an “immemorial custom,” and unless Canon Law makes some direct statement forbidding or abrogating the practice, the custom attains the force of law, so says Title II under Customs in the 1983 Code.

There has never been any such abrogation by the Church, unless disuse suddenly becomes its own abrogation. Of course, in that case Akin is in the unenviable position of explaining how a devout action could be practiced for 19.5 centuries in the Catholic Church, and then suddenly lose its status, value, as well as its patristic and ecclesiastical precedent, especially when no pope or council formally rescinded the practice.

Some people point to Paul VI’s letter Inter Insignores in 1975 where he mentions that head coverings may have been a custom of the early centuries, which implies that they can be eliminated in the 20th century, but Paul VI makes no direct statement that head coverings are no longer to be worn. Moreover, Paul VI was under the 1917 Code of Canon Law in 1975, which required head coverings by force of canon law.

As to the argument: “"The New Testament also requires us to abstain from eating blood, eating animals that are stangled, and required men not to wear headcoverings in Church. If these were all forever binding, then we Christians would not be allowed to eat blood or animals that are strangled, and priests and bishops would be sinning when they wore birettas or mitres in Church! Or when Eastern monks wore their own special headcoverings in Church!"

The Church never said they were forever binding, and we don’t find any stipulations that they were binding after the first century. St. Paul himself, in 1 Cor 8 and 10 relaxed some of those prohibitions (although he certainly kept the one about “abstaining from fornication, cf., Acts 15:29; 1Cor 6:9-10).

On the other hand, we do, indeed, find the practice and mandating of head coverings for women throughout the Church’s history, as well as a consensus among the Fathers (which I have detailed in my essay). Not only that, but the Scriptural mandate for head coverings comes in a context dealing with a woman’s requirement to submit to the man (1Cor 11:1-16), showing that the two are interrelated and mutually dependent. Thus it is no surprise that the very liberals who have surreptitiously removed head coverings for women today are the very ones who have sought to reinterpret St. Paul’s and the traditional Church’s teaching on women submitting to men.

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Question 45Notions of the Magisterium 3

R. Sungenis: The problem here, however, is that there is some overlap between faith and moral issues on the one hand and political…philosophical issues on the other hand. Too often critics of Vatican II have been much too hasty in ignoring that overlap. For example, if one claims that the Church/State relations espoused in Dignitatis Humanae are merely Vatican II’s “political” or “philosophical” opinion, this is an instance where they have misinterpreted and sidestepped the Council. END.

Yes, hardly any distinctions are made either because of ignorance or the over-abundance of writing on a popular level, though, if you’ll allow me, I must take issue with the lack of proper distinction in the above assertion. It seems to me that your entire defense of DH has been based upon the fact that it is merely making “political claims” viz. the right of religious liberty in the realm of civil law. Do I understand your interpretation correctly? I do not see how it is “sidestepping” the Council to posit a real distinction between the political philosophy of Vatican II, which is a liberal philosophy indeed, and the dogmatic foundations of faith. That is what I referred to in my original letter; that part which you cut out on your website. We are dealing in the realm of theological conclusions, not dogmas of the faith. These conclusions occur by a process of reasoning where one premise is of faith and the other of reason. As I said before, it is not outside the realm of possibility that there be this kind of “error” in a Conciliar text. The same regards the practice of ecumenism. The dogmatic foundations for the rejection of a practice that started outside the bosom of the Church was ignored (another possibility of omission concerning the merely authentic magisterium) by the Fathers of Vatican II. An exaggerated ecclesiology was introduced (again in the form of opinions), thus enabling the practice of ecumenism within the Catholic Church. All these doctrines and practices are interconnected.

Sincerely yours,

Matthew A. Snyder

R. Sungenis: Matthew, as I see it, the Magisterium has the last word on whether Vatican II's various documents, or paragraphs within those documents, were speaking about faith and morals or not. The best we can do is present our concerns to them, and that is prepared by the types of discussions we are having now.

Regarding my take on DH, I don't think it is proper for you to conclude that, if I claim DH is relegating certain rights of man to the civil sphere that this is to be considered a "political philosophy" of Vatican II and therefore can be rejected by us. Since the Church is over the State insofar as divine authority is concerned, the Church has the divine right to decide which areas of life with which it wants to be concerned, yet also teach the State the areas of life with which it is to be concerned. The Church's prerogative to do so an ecclesiastical right, not a political imposition on the State.

As for ecumenism, properly interpreted, there is a place for it in the Church. In tradition, whenever the Church stepped out into the highways and byways of the world in their effort to preach the Gospel, she had to be ecumenically minded to a certain degree. Again, I think Acts 17 is the paradigm. Paul congratulated the Athenians on their "religiosity" and their fervor to find God (which constitutes the initial stages of ecumenism), and then he gave the full truth of the Gospel to them. This, as I read the Decree on Ecumenism, was the main purpose for the document at Vatican II. It did not want to water down Catholicism; it wanted to make it stronger by allowing it to be better received by a hostile world.

Jesus did the same. He was constantly in "dialogue" with the people, and in the process he opened many hearts to the Gospel. In fact, "dialogue" shows you whether the people will be receptive to the Gospel. In the case of the Pharisees, the "dialogue" revealed their hearts were closed.

Even in the Reflections on Ecumenism written in 1970, we see these principles. On the one hand, "dialogue" is for the purpose of "replacing the rivalries of former times by ties of mutual help and collaboration," yet on the other hand, in the next paragraph it cautions: "It goes without saying that such dialogue requires of the Catholic participants a very serious, specific preparation for the questions on the agenda. Care will be taken to note the necessary differences between the Church's dogma, the great spiritual and liturgical traditions, and the legitimate options in the matter of free discussion and research."

So as Jesus taught, we are to be as gentle as doves but as cautious as snakes. If I can mix metaphors: without a drawbridge to the outside, the "fortress mentality" of traditionalism is hobbling on one leg.

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Question 44My question about NAB

Hi:

Sir I write to you because I cannot get mail from other catholic sites..(They don't answer)

I have a question....

You showed that historical Catholicism says "Bible does not contain historical errors" but in the NEW AMERICAN BIBLE (NAB) Catholics even say:

"One may ask: Was Jesus involved in these conversations? Did He answer exactly as related in the Bible? It is not certain."

and "The book known as Acts of the Apostles in the Bible often puts words into the mouths of its characters"

http://www3.sympatico.ca/shabir.ally/new_page_19.htm

They meant to say: "We sould not trust the bible" "the bible is false"...

Anyway, MY QUESTION is why would the POPE GUARANTEE that this NAB is reliable?DOES POPE THINK THE BIBLE IS FALSE? PLEASE READ:

"The title page of this Bible shows that the book is "authorized by the Board of Trustees of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine" and "approved by the Administrative Committee/Board of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops" and the "United States Catholic Conference." It is published by the Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1986. The Bible contains all the necessary Catholic certification: the Nihil Obstat, and the Imprimatur from the Archbishop of Washington. And, oh, yes! A LETTER FROM THE VATICAN, INCLUDING THE SIGNATURE OF THE POPE, appears in the preface to guarantee the reliability of this Bible for Catholics."

Thank you...

B. Douglass: Well, unlike a lot of other Catholic apologetics sites we don't shy away from pointing out heresy in the Church hierarchy when we see it, so we'll be glad to answer you.

I have no idea why Paul VI gave his blessing to the NAB. He may have never read it, in which case giving his blessing was simply a case of naivety or carelessness. Paul VI personally tended to take a traditional stance on a lot of biblical issues, such as the historicity of the Gospels. Fr. Brian Harrison demonstrates this in his doctoral thesis. But on the other hand Paul VI tended to be very lax in discipline of wayward Scripture scholars. At this point only God knows why he signed off on the NAB.

Each and every one of the American bishops, on the other hand, ought to be intimately familiar with the contents of the NAB, given that it's the official Bible of the Catholic Church in America. They have no excuse for not speaking out against this poisonous document which is so widely circulated among their flocks (and which many non-Catholics take as representing Catholic teaching).

God bless,
Ben Douglass

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Question 43Was Moses the author of the Pentateuch?

RS,

Please put on your theologian hat.

Do you believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

If so, would that include the account of his own death?

RB

R. Sungenis: Robert, yes, Moses wrote the Pentateuch. There are several places in the Pentateuch in which he indicates he is the author. This would not be true of his obituary, however. That would have been written by Joshua. All the Fathers agreed to this. The only dissenter was Origen.

Those who posit that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses are modern liberal scholars following the tradition started by the Protestant liberal Julius Wellhausen. To them, for example, they believe Genesis 1 was written by some priest coming back from Babylonian exile around 500 BC in order to invigorate the returning Jews with a sense of God's power; while Genesis 2 was written by some other Jewish scribe around 1400 BC for his own purposes. They do all this because they simply don't believe that there could be any divine help in writing these accounts, but only wrote for a political or cultural agenda they had in mind. They simply dismiss the places that Moses indicates he was the author.

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Question 42Pope Benedict and the Jews

Another symbolic goal that Benedict XVI has outlined among his “priorities” is the Holy Land. For a long time, Ratzinger’s positions on Judaism have been among the most advanced of all in the Catholic world. And he restated these on August 19 while visiting the synagogue of Cologne.

For the pope, the covenant God established with Israel is still valid, even after the coming of Jesus. But the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, is convinced that Israel has been repudiated by God and replaced with the Church. On September 8, Benedict XVI placed at Sabbah’s side a coadjutor closer to his own outlook who is destined to succeed the patriarch, Fouad Tawl, a Jordanian by birth, formerly the archbishop of Tunisia.

R. Sungenis: Sandra's opinion of what Pope Benedict believes about the Jews means nothing. The only thing that would mean something is a direct quote from the pope. Sandra, in my opinion, is just parroting what she has heard from some cardinals (Kasper, Keeler, et al) about the place of the Jews. I know of no statement even from Cardinal Ratzinger where he says that the covenant with the Jews is still valid. The only thing he has said, as Cardinal, that is troubling, is that the Jews are waiting for their Messiah and we Christians are waiting for ours.

If Pope Benedict ever says that "the covenant with the Jews is still valid, and this is the Mosaic covenant," then we have an error of the highest order, and it will indeed be heretical.

If he does say it, but by "covenant" he only means that the Jews can still be saved within the Abrahamic covenant, and therefore, in that sense, the covenant has not been revoked, then this is a true statement. The Abrahamic covenant is identical to the New Covenant in Christ (Gal 3:6-8; Rom 4:1-4; Heb 11:1-19)

The troublesome prelude to this was John Paul II's statement that "the Old Covenant has not been revoked" in a 1980 Mainz speech. Normally, the "Old Covenant" is understood as the Mosaic law, not the Abrahamic covenant (cf., 2 Cor 3:6-14). The only saving grace for John Paul II in this instance is that he didn't specifically say that the "Old Covenant" he had in view was the Mosaic law. If he had, it would have been heretical.

The Mosaic law is important in these distinctions because the Mosaic law is the basis for Judaism. If Judaism is legitimized, then the Mosaic law is legitimized, and then we are in violation of Scripture and Tradition (Gal 3:10-12; 5:1-4; Hebrews 7:18; 8:7, 13; 10:9).

In any case, the Vatican is skating on very thin ice in this issue. Up to this point, the ambiguity in what is meant by "covenant" has eliminated error, and let's hope that is the case for the future.

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Question 41Honorius

What about Honorius?

R. Sungenis: Matthew,

I only had time to read about a third of the paper, but here are my immediate thoughts:

I haven't read anything I didn't already know. Mansi has all of this, and I've read it.

We all know what Honorius' supposed intentions were, but the fact remains that he:

1) did say that Christ had one will in a letter to Sergius

2) He was said to be in error by Pope Agatho, but Agatho said that since he didn't say it with his full authority as pope, then it did not infect the infallibility of the papal office

3) The emperor agreed with Pope Agatho. He, the sixth council and Pope Agatho all exchanged letters on the issue, and all agreed that Honorius should be formally condemned.

4) Pope Leo II said Honorius was in error, and directed the seventh and eighth councils to say the same. He said Honorius "polluted" the office like no pope before him.

5) The Liber Diurnus said the same, up to the late Middle Ages.

So, either Pope Honorius made an error, or the Popes and councils who condemned him for making an error made an error in condemning him. Either way, we have error.

What we don't have is ex cathedra error in Honorius, but we would have it in Agatho and Leo if their condemnation of Honorius was in error.

In the end, one can give Honorius all the good intentions he wants, but it still does not eliminate his error. In fact, one could say that Honorius feigned as if he knew the implications, but went ahead and said it anyway, which is either very evil or very negligent.

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Question 40The Church, Geocentrism and Fr. Brown

Robert:

If you care to answer, here is Bannon's reply. It is up to you. A good refuting of the cross-bow issue would not hurt.

Bill B: No....the crossbow passage is relevant because it is not only pastoral but it is dogmatic with an anathema attached ( "murderous art of crossbowmen and archers, which is hateful to God")....the iconic mark, mistakenly... of de fide for some.

R. Sungenis: Yes, I guess you’re right. We still can’t murder people with crossbows.

Bill B: And it is defunct by neglect and by majority custom with implicit Rome assent to such custom through Rome's silence while Mark is oblivious to such agents of revocation as he demands the binding of Catholic conscience by three ancient geocentric papal bulls unless a Pope explicitly condemns such.

R. Sungenis: Mark isn’t demanding the binding of anyone’s conscience, because he never said geocentrism was declared ex cathedra. On the other hand, truth is not demoted based on the age of the decree. If that were the case we would have long ago dispensed with belief in the Trinity, since its pedigree is 1300 years older than the papal bull against Copernicanism.

Bill B: And then he refers to the unanimous agreement of the Fathers without saying whose count of Fathers we go by...Migne's...or a number of theologians other than Migne.....and did they state such belief as to be held as of the faith...or did they state it as their belief in a century in which everyone and his mother also believed it due to their position in time and space.

R. Sungenis: Migne has nothing to do with it, unless you can show us citations in Migne where the Fathers deny geocentrism and accept heliocentrism. The Church herself recognized that geocentrism was held in consensus by the Fathers. Bellarmine’s very argument to Galileo was that we cannot interpret Scripture contrary to the consensus of the Fathers, and he stated that the Fathers held geocentrism in consensus. So where is your contrary evidence?

You wrote:

RS: Even if your premise were correct, the fact is that the Galileo issue was brought up again as recent as John Paul II's pontificate, which proves that the issue has not been totally neglected. Your own citation of Leo XIII and Pius XII later in this dialogue shows that the issue was still being addressed

Bill B: No....they adressed it not because they had any interest in geocentrism....but because the Galileo affair is an iconic media sound bite criticism of the Vatican that recurs every several years....and shows up in the publishing world in books like Galileo's Daughter.

R. Sungenis: We’re not interested in your opinions of why it was brought up. The fact is that it was brought up, so it’s not a “neglected” issue, the very premise you used to shoot it down.

You wrote:

RS: The mere fact that St. Thomas Aquinas was a geocentrist should quell the objection that either Pius XII or Leo XIII were referring directly or exclusively to the geocentrism/heliocentrism debate

Bill B: Sure they were. They were using his words but his interest was in the waters above the sky which no one in his right mind has any interest in now. But his words by extension are only relevant to geocentrism...since this is the issue that critics of Rome are interested in...and they have no interest in the waters above the sky issue or the universal flood issue because Rome was never involved with those issues in a historically memorable manner....so they could only have been referring to your issue.

R. Sungenis: “By extension”? Again, Bill, we’re not interested in your opinion or what you want to read into a document, only the facts. The fact is that neither Leo XIII nor Pius XII said anything about geocentrism, but only about some statements in Scripture that are figurative, and which applies to many things.

And the fact remains that the language of the “sun rising” is phenomenal in either the heliocentric or geocentric system, which takes all the force out of your imposition on Leo XIII and Pius XII.

Bill B: I empathize with you. You are born into a world of seemingly total Biblical chaos within the Catholic realm what with the sporadic de-mythogizing of the Jerome Biblical Commentary...and its editor, Raymond Brown, being twice appointed to the PBC while not even believing in most of the nativity scenes....lol....I know what you are going through.

R. Sungenis: No problem for us, Bill, because our Church is big enough to separate Brown’s opinions from Catholic dogma. We’ve done that for 2000 years.

Bill B: You have Pope Pius XI in Casti Cannubii rightly saying that the wife should obey the husband and you have John Paul II in an apostolic letter saying the opposite....I know what you are going through..." there was no king in Israel in those days so every man did as he thought best." I feel ya....as the pop world says....but going back to past century's exegesis is not the answer. Brown...bad as he sometimes is...can be brilliant at times as when he noted that John could not have finally been written by John because all the praise of John occurs there only

R. Sungenis: That’s why “apostolic letters” aren’t considered infallible. As for Brown’s thesis about John, if you think it is “brilliant,” then you don’t expect much in the way of brilliancy. Praise of John in John proves nothing for Brown. That’s like saying that Jesus didn’t say the things attributed to Jesus because Jesus is praising himself in the Gospels. What Brown and company seem to forget is that John was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that’s why Leo XIII and Vatican I said that the words were “dictated” to John, a papal and concilar decree that Brown didn’t like too much.

In fact, praise of John proves that John was prompted by the Holy Spirit to write what he wrote, since an objective observer (the Holy Spirit) would be the logical choice to have John speak about himself. Yes, perhaps in another way Brown was correct. It was someone other than John. It was the Holy Spirit.

Bill B: ....and there are chronological mistakes...both of which argue for John having died and a disciple writing from memory what John said but without a knowledge of sequence...and with a desire to aggrandise John (with true facts) in view of the schismatics that left and competed with the Johannine group. So these bizarre theologians who don't even believe that Mary said the Magnificat...are sometimes useful. Keep Von Hildebrand in mind...."the truth is not only between the two extremes, but above them."

R. Sungenis: There are no chronological mistakes. Those discrepancies have been answered long ago. Unfortunately, Brown was too steeped in the liberal Protestant theology at Union Theological Seminary to notice his past Catholic history. Brown is a modernist who accepts the two-source theory, but Farmer and company have demolished it.

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Question 39Dinosaurs and Earth

Greetings:

I've been enjoying your site of late; I hope to order the study Bible soon and maybe join one of the Bible studies. Also, I am intrigued with your Sensus Catholicus Society and may wish to become a part of that in the near future.

I have a question related to dinosaurs. I don't find it hard to believe in their size (after all, as you have noted, God made the blue whale); what perplexes me about them is their supposed time period(s). If they lived, as paleontologists argue, many millions of years ago, how do we reconcile that with the biblical account of creation? And if we simply do not accept the alleged time periods, opting for a much younger earth, then how do we account for the fossil record? Is carbon dating not very reliable?

Thanks much.

Best regards,
Michael Larson

PS: I am riveted by your geocentric views. This is my first exposure to the idea, so I have been doing much thinking about it, and I must say there are some very interesting implications for a geocentric earth. For one thing, it makes truly possible the idea of sacred place. In a heliocentric system, any earthly place is merely relative to other earthly places; there is no such thing as an absolute place, and this somehow strangely diminishes one's sense of sacredness regarding any particular place. Anyway ... I'm finding it fascinating.

R. Sungenis: Michael, you hit the nail on the head. Funny thing is, many of the scientists who advocate heliocentrism (who know that geocentrism could be true also) say that they specifically prefer a moving Earth because they want to avoid having to admit the obvious if the Earth was in the center -- that Someone put it there. I have all their quotes, and they will be in my upcoming book: Galileo Was Wrong.

Here's an excerpt from the book that you'll enjoy:

"Copernicanism is the foundation stone for modern man’s independence from God. This connection was recognized by none other than the editor of the world’s most prestigious science journal. When confronted in the late 1970s with the new model of cosmology from physicist George F. R. Ellis that proposed the Earth was in the center of the universe, Paul C. W. Davies, the editor of Nature, was forced to reply: “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.”

As for the dinosaurs, they existed with man. In fact, various excavations have shown dinosaur tracks in the same soil beds as human footprints, but the science community does its best to silence that information. We have a person from our own Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation who does excavations, and he has the evidence. In short, there were no dinosaurs millions of years ago. It is one of the biggest hoaxes ever perpetrated on mankind.

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Question 38I'M A BIT CONFUSED...

I happen to be simple man with nothing more than a high school education and some college courses.

I came across this site, seeking articles that which perhaps allow for growth , ones of truth, to strengthen my walk. I am appalled to read about the ongoing name calling, battling of Catholics, and most importantly, how many truths these writers claim to have and possess. All of them seem to be pointing fingers, imagine that!

The argument, I'm a traditionalists and we've been here the longest or I'm Vatican II filled with His Spirit, lies in there with the old elitist Euro Catholic thinking he was smartest, more educated and therefore secured a place in heaven for him/herself. The Elitest, I'm the best.

It's this kind of talk that would turn someone and others as myself away from religion, though there is a place for structure, which by the way, I've found in my Catholic Church in 97. It seems everyone is intent on promoting their own books, older articles, their rendition of interpretation(which by the way, sounds very protest ant like on all sides) and I have somehow not seen the Word, Jesus Christ, mention of His Spirit, His Grace at all. I guess I'll stick with the simple people you guys are too smart for me. Tell me, is there a separate heaven for such smart creatures as yourselves.

I often wonder that when a simple transformed person such as myself, is seeking to earn a living, just pay bills and be able to praise Jesus, is found short, due to lack of education or from things brought on in the past, which though Jesus has forgiven in, by and through His Blood, the world holds is against us. Very deserving of course, since it's the paying of the crime. Imagine, though, some of these same smart guys talk about hiring practices among their own combatants, but fail to mention how Christians (since these same usually or the ones mostly mentioned, have knowledge of other faiths) are supposed to be different.

Instead of creating a name for oneself and letting egos, pride and purses/pocket/billfolds inflate, how about using these sites for the building up of the Kingdom, the Body of Christ.

Again, a simpleton as me probably will be laughed at, but I pray that while that's happening, Jesus is smiling at my failed attempts to walk in His Grace. Amen

Grace and Peace,
Luis Monteagudo

R. Sungenis: Luis, welcome to the world of religion. You know the old saying: "Talk about anything but politics and religion." Well, there is a reason for that. Sometimes I think there are as many religions in the world as there are people, since each of us has a different idea of who God is and what is required of us. That's because we are finite, fallible human beings who are struggling to know the truth, against a devil and his demons who are trying desperately to keep it from us. As I have often pointed out to our critics, most of the Catholic Church's dogmas have come out of the very crucibles of theological warfare you describe above (including the pride and egos you mention). God will chastise the proud and egomanical, but the intellectual discussion goes on, and it must, for it is the primary way we come to truth -- by testing our ideas against others. As the Bible says, "iron sharpens iron." That's what we do here at CAI. And if you ever see us veer off from that course and become proud and egomanical, then let us know and we'll reform.

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Question 37The Church of Christ "subsists" in the Catholic Church

Second was this comment.

"During Vatican II it was Fr. Ratzinger who initiated the change in the language “The Church of Christ is [Latin: est] the Catholic Church” to “The Church of Christ subsists [Latin: subsistit] in the Catholic Church.” Although many argue that, in the true Latin definition of “subsistit” there is little practical difference between it and “est,” still, there was no reason to change the language, since it inadvertently created an ambiguous meaning that would be exploited by the progressivists coming out of Vatican II. Let’s hope that Pope Benedict will continue to teach that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church of Jesus Christ and that the change of wording was not meant to cause confusion."

This is a toughie because you don't say that this is an error. But I must say it means you are not aware of the reason for the change. It was to harmonise it with the second assertion on "ecclesial elements." To "subsist" is a very special type of existence. It means to exist as a substance. It exists of itself without dependence on another source. All other sects depend on the Catholic Church for any grace or holy elements they possess (such as the sacrament of baptism). The visible Church of Christ is identical to the Catholic Church but remember even Pius XII in his encyclical had to accomadate those that belonged to the Church's soul by a desire. The relator at Vatican II said that it was meant to affirm that the Church of Christ exists concretly in the Catholic Church. LG remember is talking not just about the visible aspect of the Church here but the whole thing.

R. Sungenis: Yes, you are correct. Thank you for bringing this to my attetion. It makes perfect sense why "subsists" was put into the sentence. The whole paragraph is about the the Church's relation to the "outside" elements.

"This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity."

I would add that, not only would Pius XII's recognition of "desire" be applicable, but what I think is even more applicable are those non-Catholics who receive baptism in the Trinitarian formula with water and are thus justified ex opere operato.

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Question 36Cekada and the sedevacantists

Robert,

I forgot. I meant to ask you something. You would be aware of how Ferrara is going after sedevacantism at the moment. That Anthony Cekada wrote a rebuttal saying that traditionalists have a "cardboard" Pope - good for viewing purposes only. You might have seen the piece. Seeing you don't imply that Vatican II had any error or that any of the new disciplines such as the New Mass, Code of Canon Law etc etc are invalid or evil I don't suppose that his objection would hold much water with you. Do you think it could be a problem for Ferrara and the trad movement in general though? Is there any truth to it?

R. Sungenis: I don't find Fr. Cekada's arguments convincing in the least, although I can see how he could be a goad for an SSPX type of traditionalist.

As far as I'm concerned, Cedada tries to mount an argument by taking the "all or nothing" approach, that is, either you accept the pope and ALL that he says, or you accept nothing. Yes, if the pope were God, I guess that would be true, but we have quite a precedent in Catholic history to show us that popes aren't God. If we can point to even one pope who made errors in faith or morals (outside of the realm of ex cathedra), then Cekada's case falls flat on its face. Suffice it to say, there are many such examples. Moreover, John Paul II's own Canon Law stated that we had not only the right, but the duty, to raise our objections to matters in which we feel the magisterium has veered off the right course. So if we have an objection to John Paul's Assisi gatherings, that objection was invited by John Paul II himself. I don't see any "cardboard" in that exchange.

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Question 35Catholicism says Bible is false...

Sir as a muslim I am so happy....Becouse finally, Catholic church clearly admitted that " BIBLE IS FULL OF MYTHS, CONTRADICTIONS AND ERRORS" Please buy the booklet called "the gift of scripture" from ARCHBISHOPS.. .(IT IS OFFICIAL DOCUMENT AS IMPORTANT AS DEI VERBUM) and read it yourself....

I think next, The church will reject Bible altogether... Before this, CATHOLICS SCHOLARS had clearly admitted that Bible is false in NEW AMERICAN CATHOLIC BIBLE...And this is the view of MOST CATHOLICS:
here and here

So you are catholic, I think now Both of us believe that Bible is not historical,bible is not accurate,bible is full of errors..

"THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true” in it they say:

"WE SHOULD NOT EXPECT TO FIND IN SCRIPTURE FULL SCIENTIFIC ACCURACY OR COMPLETE HISTORICAL PRECISION"

They mean BIBLE CONTAINS SCIENTIFIC ERRORS and BIBLE IS NOT HISTORICAL IT IS FULL OF MYTHS

and:

"But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which TWO DIFFERENT STORIES of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops INSIST CANNOT BE HISTORICAL”.

So even CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS admitted that Bible contains TWO CREATION STORIES! (other word CONTRADICTIONS) So apologetic about it is useless anymore....

and They say:

"WE SHOULD NOT EXPECT TOTAL ACCURACY FROM THE BIBLE IN OTHER SECULAR MATTERS"

EVEN I AM so surprised about that....I AM SHOCKED!!! that means OVER 1 BILLION Christians/MOST OF CHRISTIANS honor Bible Just like Muslims do...CATHOLICS SAY: BIBLE IS NOT ACCURATE, BIBLE CONTAINS SCIENTIFIC ERRORS,BIBLE CONTAINS CONTRADICTIONS BIBLE IS CORRUPTED JUST LIKE MUSLIMS DO!!!

you can buy that booklet here.

Do you think in the next council ,The catholic church will reject The Bible altogether? And then I think people will see the truth and start becoming muslims...

Thank you...

R. Sungenis: Dear nameless Muslim:

You need to know a little history, my friend. The Catholic Church makes no claims that its bishops or parishioners are either infallible or impeccable. Most of our dogma in Catholic history was created when clerics in the Catholic Church went astray from the truth and the pope and councils had to come in and set the record straight. That's why we've survived for 2000 years without any change in dogma, despite some liberals from the United Kingdom who flaunt their novelties. Get it? I hope so, because if there is another council you can depend upon it that they will put a stop to the attack on Scripture. That's the way it's always worked. We have the track record to prove it. So don't jump to false conclusions.

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Question 34Catholics and Protestants

what is the difference between catholics and protestants

B. Douglass: Well, that's a small question that books could be written in answering (similarly, books could be written about the differences between the various denominations of Protestants). I'll try to give you the basics.

On the nature of God, we mostly agree: God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscienct, infinitely just, and infinitely merciful; He created and sustains all things in existence; He exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, identical in all things except in the relationship of one to another. However, Catholics believe God's justice prevents him from being able to condemn and punish an innocent man for the crimes of another, and Protestants don't.

We mostly agree on the nature of Christ. He is the second person of the blessed Trinity who joined His divine nature to a human nature, yet remained one person while having two natures and two wills. We disagree as to what He accomplished. Protestants believe that the Father credited Him with the guilt of the sins of men (either all men or only the elect, depends on which denomination) and punished Him in their place. Catholics believe this is one of the worst slanders ever spoken agaisnt the justice of God. We believe that Christ made His suffering and death on the cross into a gift to the Father on our behalf, which was so supremely pleasing that on its account the Father would be willing to be gracious and merciful to sinners. Christ earned or "merited" grace for others.

Some of the biggest differences are in the respective theologies of salvation. Protestants believe that when the sinner reaches out to Christ through faith alone, God makes a legal transfer of the credit of the righteousness of Christ to his account. Then, God can judge him as if he were Christ and acquit him of guilt, even though he is guilty, just like He judged Christ as if He were a sinner, and condemned Him on the cross, even though He was innocent. Catholics hold this doctrine to be an abomination as well. Catholics believe that God judges everyone as if they were themselves, which they are :). In baptism God adopts the sinner as His son, forgives Him all his past sins, and places his soul in a state of sanctifying grace. If, after this point, he commits a serious sin with full knowledge of its being evil and deliberate consent of the will, he is cut off from friendship with God, and must receive the sacrament of Confession to be forgiven. When he dies, God will judge him according to his works, and reward him with heaven if he is in a state of sanctifying grace or hell if he is in a state of mortal sin. If he is guilty of venial sins or has not yet "made it up to God" for mortal sins which he has confessed, he will have to spend time in Purgatory before entering heaven. Protestants do not believe in Purgatory, since it is not compatible with their belief that one who has been credited with the righteousness of Christ doesn't need to be punished for anything, because Christ took all his punishment.

Catholics believe that the Eucharist is truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, the whole Christ, the same as He who died on the cross and is currently at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Therefore, because it is God, we worship it. Protestants (except for a few Anglicans and Lutherans, who hold similar views) can only see this as idolatry, since they believe it is just bread and wine which is symbolic of Christ.

Catholics believe in that the Mass is truly a propitiatory sacrifice (i.e. it appeases God's wrath), and the victim is Christ. He does not die again, but He offers Himself again in heaven, to continually obtain grace and mercy for us from the Father. This is incompatible with the Protestant view of the atonement (recall they believe it consisted in a once for all punishment for everyone else's sins) so they don't believe it. Traditionally they have held the Mass to be an abomination.

Catholics believe Mary was immaculately concieved (without original sin), remained a virgin her entire life, was assumed body and soul into heaven, and crowned by God queen of heaven and earth. Most Protestants reject most or all of these doctrines.

Catholics believe Jesus established a visible, institutional, hierarchical Church, with authority passed from the apostles through their successors the bishops. This Church is the Catholic Church. Protestants, in the main, believe that the Church is an invisible unity of all believers, regardless of denomination.

That's just a start, but I hope I've been of help.

God bless,
Ben Douglass

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Question 33Notions of the Magisterium 2

R. Sungenis: Matthew, it boils down to this: did the Holy Spirit protect the council Fathers from error when they taught on faith and morals or not? If the answer is no, then we have a defectible Church. It's really very simple.

MS: What you posit here is an over-simplification, Robert. The Holy Spirit protects from error only when certain conditions are met as well as the concomitant use of authority is duly exercised. The majority of the texts of the Council were expressions of the authentic magisterium which cannot realistically claim absolute certainty. There are manifold opinions: theological, political, psychological, and philosophical within the texts that do not bind the conscience for they are but opinions of men. This is nothing new or scandalous; rather it is merely the nature of the magisterium. In the end, you are positing a false dilemma for there is another way to approach the problem.

R. Sungenis: Michael, it is not a “false dilemma” to hold to the simple truth that the Holy Spirit will protect the Church from error when she teaches faith and morals in an ecumenical council. That is all I am claiming. I know of no magisterial teaching that says otherwise. If you want to try to sift out the “political, psychological and philosophical” opinions of Vatican II from faith and morals, be my guest. The problem here, however, is that there is some overlap between faith and moral issues on the one hand and political…philosophical issues on the other hand. Too often critics of Vatican II have been much too hasty in ignoring that overlap. For example, if one claims that the Church/State relations espoused in Dignitatis Humanae are merely Vatican II’s “political” or “philosophical” opinion, this is an instance where they have misinterpreted and sidestepped the Council.

Dignitatis Humanae is about faith and morals, and it is a development of doctrine within the sphere of every other like-minded document the Church has issued in the past. As such, Dignitatis Humanae would enjoy the protection of the Holy Spirit. For those who think otherwise, they would need to show that Dignitatis Humanae is not about faith and morals, rather than attempt to dismiss it by critiquing its contents. One can only critique its contents if he can first prove it is not about faith and morals. Otherwise, he is bound to its teachings, and is thus bound to harmonize it with previous teaching. They would also have the burden of proof in showing that, if, indeed, Dignitatis Humanae is speaking about faith and morals, then why would it not enjoy the protection from the Holy Spirit as all other faith and moral teachings have in the previous 20 ecumenical councils.

R. Sungenis: As to determining what fulfills the category of "faith and morals" or what is "authentic" or "universal" or "ordinary" at Vatican II, that is for the Magisterium of the Catholic Church to decide. If there is a question or objection, one can present his dubium and the magisterium will answer in due course.

MS: Of course, I claim no authority and opinions can legitimately differ. I am simply trying to make you aware that you are excluding a legitimate catholic position. You are pretending that it is absolutely impossible that an error could exist in the Conciliar texts; I’m stating that, considering the true notions of the nature of the Magisterium it is not at all impossible and highly likely considering the modernist-liberal inclinations of very powerful Council Fathers. This is all well documented and admitted by all.

R. Sungenis: I don’t intend to exclude a legitimate Catholic position, but I would caution those who assume such a position that they are not the final word on their own position. And no, I’m not saying that “it is absolutely impossible that an error could exist in the Conciliar texts.” I am simply saying that when an ecumenical council speaks about faith and morals, it has the protection of the Holy Spirit from error. If the council chooses to go outside the margin of faith and morals, that is its prerogative, and I do not hold such statements as immune from error.

But it you do not believe that when an ecumenical council speaks about faith and morals it has the protection of the Holy Spirit from error, then what good is an ecumenical council if we are going to sit here all day and argue whether it was infallible and whether we are bound to it? Isn’t the very purpose of an ecumenical council confirmed by the pope to be understood as the voice of the Holy Spirit for the Church and the highest venue of authority we have on this earth? When the Holy Spirit is invoked for a council, as John XXIII and Paul VI did for Vatican II, then we either say that the Holy Spirit was present, active and protecting Vatican II or He was not. If He was there, then we all have to come to some agreement as to when His infallible protection was applied. The only category I know of is faith and morals, and when Vatican II taught on faith and morals it was no different than any of our other 20 ecumenical councils who enjoyed the Holy Spirit’s protection.

Are we any better than the Protestants if we can’t depend on the Holy Spirit’s protection for an ecumenical council? And if refuse to accept Vatican II’s pronouncements on faith and morals as error-free, are we not impugning the infallible authority of the remaining 20 ecumenical councils? It seems to me that some of us are prone to question the infallibility of Vatican II’s teachings on faith and morals because this will give us room to protest rather than to seek to harmonize its teachings with that of tradition. Often the critics try to pit Dignitatis Humanae and Gaudium et spes against Pius IX’s Syllabus, but if they impugn the infallibility of the papal-confirmed teachings of DH and GES when they speak on faith and morals, then this makes the Syllabus itself subject to the same demotion, as a fallible and possibly error-ridden document that we can also argue about day in and day out.

R. Sungenis: But as it stands, none of the above distinctions (eg., "authentic" or "universal," et al) are going to take away from the primary fact that the Holy Spirit has always protected an ecumenical council from error when it teaches on faith and morals. This is how the sheep can follow the shepherd's voice and have trust in it. The dissecting is for the shepherd to do. If we can prompt him to do so by our objections, so be it. I do it all the time. In the final analysis it is his responsibility, and he will have to stand before God's judgment seat to determine whether he was faithful to the task, not me or you.

MS:Why do you rightly press making proper distinctions against foolish men like Peter Dimond, yet would wish to dispense with proper distinctions regarding the nature of the Magisterium? I concede nothing to the Sedevacantists and the Neo-Cons precisely because they have an over-simplified and even erroneous understanding of catholic theology regarding the Magisterium, its functions and limits. No Council or Pope will ever err in binding dogma of the faith and morals. But can an erroneous theological opinion find its way into a Conciliar text that is merely a descriptive obiter dicta? No credible theologian would deny it.

R. Sungenis: And neither would I, as I said above. But as far as “distinctions” are concerned, I think traditionalists need to make better distinctions between when Vatican II was registering its “theological” opinion and when it was teaching on faith and morals. Is Dignitatis Humanae a teaching on faith and morals or is it not? Dignitatis Humanae claims that it is, and it also says that it is abiding by the tradition of the Church, in addition to giving us a development of the Church’s doctrine. If that’s what DH claims, then we accept it, without reserve, and do our best to harmonize its teachings with the tradition. I, personally, have had no problem doing so. I am rather amazed, however, at how intransigent traditionalists are at doing so. It’s almost as if they have a mental block that simply will not allow harmonization. They’ve been fed the same diet year after year about Vatican II’s “errors” that they actually think DH is from the devil instead of the Holy Spirit. These things not ought to be. If someone is going to question DH’s credibility, then they might as well question the Syllabus’ credibility as well.

R. Sungenis: But in no way is a Michael Davies, Fr. Bugnolo or Bishop Lefebvre going to dictate how we should be viewing the Council. For that matter, even Michael Davies began to soften his position in the latter years of his life as he sought more and more to find harmony between Dignitatis Humanae and tradition. I have been exegeting texts for 30 years, and I simply have no problem harmonizing the two, so I'm not persuaded by those who have failed in this endeavor, to whatever degree. As for Gaudium, there are many places that it is not teaching on faith and morals, but is only giving its opinion on world affairs, thus there is room for leverage there.

MS: Yes, I have read your attempt to harmonize Dignitatis Humanae with previous dogmatic declarations against liberalism and remain unconvinced for several reasons I don’t want to get into right now. But by all means, I appreciate your contributions to the debate. If I may offer a challenge, I suggest you read “Religious Liberty” by Lefebvre. This book is probably the most profound analysis of the problem and I have found no serious attempt to refute it.

R. Sungenis: I’ve read Lefebvre’s account and, unlike you, I “remain unconvinced.” As much as I admire Lefebvre, I don’t put much stock into his analysis of Dignitatis Humanae. This is a man who signed the document and gave his approval, only to turn around and reject it wholesale 20 years later. I think he made the same mistake a lot of traditionalists do: he rejected the Council when he should have been rejecting the interpretations stemming forth from it.

R. Sungenis: My advice is for traditionalists to stop attacking Vatican II, and to make Vatican II YOUR council. Take it away from the liberals and modernists. Show the liberals that they are misinterpreting Vatican II (which is rather easy to do). Only in this way will you ever get anywhere.

MS: If that works for you then fine. My advice would be to ignore the Council all together for it has brought no good to the Church. Instead, disengage and concentrate rather on cultivating the virtues necessary for salvation and the interior life. No one has ever found peace by constantly attacking error or defining oneself in opposition to it, rather they have only found true peace from the total abandonment and submission of self to Divine Providence, the Cross of Christ and His Mother Mary.

R. Sungenis: Well, if you want to put it in that light, I certainly won’t debate where our true solace originates.

God be with you.

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Question 32Was Vatican II an evil council?-2

Hi Robert,

Some evil things happened at Vatican II or because of it. What about the Vatican-Moscow Agreement, for example? Why did Vatican II's Fathers refuse to condemn communism?

God bless,
Bill

R. Sungenis: Bill, the Holy Spirit doesn't protect a council from what it doesn't say, only what it says. That is my only concern at this point. As to the politics and agandas at Vatican II, they were heavy, indeed. The glory of the Catholic Church is, however, that no matter what the agendas, the Holy Spirit will still protect what relates to faith and morals.

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Question 31Answer to Bannon on why Leo XIII referred to figurative language

Bill Bannon: I'll be brief because I suspect there is not a soul here who will ever be seduced by this bizarre position of yours and you'll simply waste my time and that of many on the net. You are not a dogmatic theologian yet you throw the pasta against the wall and hope it will stick as in.....

Quote:
The only way to overturn the series of declarations made by Paul V, Urban VIII, and Alexander VII would be by an explicit correction of a future Pope condemning the past opinions.

No, another way is total neglect of the issue by hundreds of Popes and millions of bishops, priests, brothers and nuns and laity throughout history.

That's why pacific islanders and Hawaians on the internet are probably seen as quixotic by Rome in seeking to have the three bulls Dum Diversus, Romanus Pontifex and Inter Caetera rescinded by Rome. In them Popes granted subjugation and slavery rights to Portugal over certain indigenous people...notably Africa. Rome never rescinded them because common sense did....common sense revealed by the fact that no other Pope since wrote such things. If no other Pope wrote such things since, common sense says: that error is over. Do we really need Rome to rescind the absurd after Church custom has?

"Custom has the force of law" is such cases.

R. Sungenis: Even if your premise were correct, the fact is that the Galileo issue was brought up again as recent as John Paul II’s pontificate, which proves that the issue has not been “totally neglected.” Your own citation of Leo XIII and Pius XII later in this dialogue shows that the issue was still being addressed. Moreover, in John Paul II’s review of the issue, it just so happens that his official statement merely apologized to Galileo for the mistreatment he received. There was no word from the pope that Galileo’s heliocentric theory was proven correct or that geocentrism was proven wrong. At the least, John Paul II’s review of the issue shows that the Church’s interest in cosmology is alive and well. That’s why we have a Vatican observatory, but we don’t have any papers being written on “slavery rights to Portugal over certain indigenous people.”

Bill Bannon: Divino Afflante Spiritu was obviously exactly and precisely referring to geocentrism in section 3.....try naming another issue it could possibly be about.....(readers, watch closely and note how even intelligent scientists remark that the sun is rising and they remark it not as believing it scientifically but as figuratively):

Quote:
3. ... Hence with grave words did he proclaim that there is no error whatsoever if the sacred writer, speaking of things of the physical order "went by what sensibly appeared" as the Angelic Doctor says,[5] speaking either "in figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time, and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even among the most eminent men of science."

"Let's watch the sunrise"...."I'll see you at sundown"....name some nobel prize winners who use those terms scientifically. The Pope clearly was thinking of your exact issue unless you can apprize us of another issue in regard to which he would note that even scientist speak figuratively...now in the present day.

Name one other issue he could possibly have meant.

R. Sungenis: The mere fact that St. Thomas Aquinas was a geocentrist should quell the objection that either Pius XII or Leo XIII were referring directly or exclusively to the geocentrism/heliocentrism debate. Evidently, Aquinas had something in his mind other than geocentrism or heliocentrism when he penned the words “in figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time, and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even among the most eminent men of science,” since, in Aquinas’ day everyone believed in geocentrism. Obviously, the “figurative language” to which Aquinas refers could not be about whether the sun revolves around the earth or the earth revolves around the sun.

Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Leo XIII and Pius XII were referring to the Scriptural language which states that the “sun rises.” As such, their citation of Aquinas is quite appropriate as categorizing “the sun rises” as being representative of “figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time, and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even among the most eminent men of science,” for in either the heliocentric or the geocentric system, the sun does not, literally, “rise.” In both systems the sun only appears to rise, and thus in both systems the phrase “the sun rises” is phenomenal language. In the geocentric system the sun doesn’t “rise,” rather, it revolves around the earth. It merely looks as if it is “rising” when an individual on earth in a geocentric system is observing the sun move. He sees the sun rise against the earth's horizon just as he would see it in a heliocentric system. In effect, one can say the “sun rises” without any leaning toward either a heliocentric or geocentric system.

Bill Bannon: The last response is yours. You are wasting all our time. You're faking a knowledge of dogmatic theology in regard to the authority levels and permanence of absurd papal documents and I don't think a soul here is fooled. Ecumenical councils exceed papal bulls as a rule and Ecumenical Councils are passe even in issues that carried anathemas without any declarations to the contrary needed to void them:

Second Lateran Council
29. We prohibit under anathema that murderous art of crossbowmen and archers, which is hateful to God, to be employed against Christians and Catholics from now on....never rescinded…but you can use an M-14 against another Christian in a world war which means that later total enduring silence by Rome on a papal issue that is contradicted by society and by the Church membership as a whole...means its vitiation and the death of that issue for the Church as having anything to do with salvation.

R. Sungenis: This is just a repeat of the first objection, and it has already been answered. Suffice it to say, the study of cosmology and cosmogony are alive and well at the Vatican today. Citing obscure conciliar edicts against crossbows simply has no relevance to this discussion.

Bill Bannon: See a priest about this and about using a good brain on such an absurd endeavor. Don't take my word at all...see a priest. If a good one is not near you, travel....but not to the land of the extreme trads who are also wasting God's gifts.

R. Sungenis: I suggest Bill study up on the issue a bit more before he recommends that his opponent obtain counsel from a priest. As Augustine once said: “Wrong is wrong even if everybody's doing it, and right is right, even if nobody's doing it. ”

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Question 30Notions of the Magisterium

Bob,

Regarding your position on the Council, I must say that you are presenting a rather simplistic view of the nature of the Magisterium. There is a trifold distinction between the Extraordinary, Universal Ordinary and Authentic Magisterium. The first two exercises of teaching are infallible, one of itself and the other according to criteria extrinsic to itself such as time and consistency. The final form of exercise, known as Authentic is not infallible, but merely understood as the authentic ordinary exercise of the teaching office. To claim infallibility for this aspect of the office is to reduce the doctrine of the Church to absurdity for we know that the Pope can err. If the Pope can err a Council can theoretically err if it only engages an authentic level of teaching authority. The Council, as you know was not a dogmatic Council per se. Most of the Conciliar documents could be understood as an expression of the authentic magisterium. Thus, the possibility of error is not theologically impossible at all. In fact, many reputable catholic theologians have claimed that error exists in the text according to normal principles of interpretation.* The late Michael Davies was one of them. Though it was a minor caveat in the text on Religious Liberty, he attacked it vigorously as a departure from traditional doctrine. He did this rightly so because that minor clause has major consequences in the life of the Church and the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ. Archbishop Lefebvre attacked the Council as well on a dogmatic level, not merely because of what Liberals were saying as you state. His book entitled “Religious Liberty” is a profound analysis of the doctrines of the Church and the Council. It was sent to Rome as a very lengthy dubium to which it was never answered in substance as far as I know. It is, in my opinion irrefutable. Br. Alexis Bugnolo is another who holds that the Council contains error in Gaudium et Spes para. 24. You should read his analysis sometime for I think it is very concise. John Paul II spent his entire pontificate painting a theological portrait of Vatican II and ended up implicitly teaching Universal Salvation. He believed he located this idea in the texts of the Council and not without warrant for the novel ecclesiology presented therein is but the seed of such a thesis. This is to say nothing of the manifold tendencies, insinuations, studied ambiguities and liturgical “time bombs” within the texts. This is the result, not of the Holy Spirit, but of men who still retained their free will and intellects at this meeting of bishops. Men who make up the human element of the Church which can obscure Her face, even at a Council.

Sincerely,

Matthew

R. Sungenis: Matthew, it boils down to this: did the Holy Spirit protect the council Fathers from error when they taught on faith and morals or not? If the answer is no, then we have a defectible Church. It's really very simple.

As to determining what fulfills the category of "faith and morals" or what is "authentic" or "universal" or "ordinary" at Vatican II, that is for the Magisterium of the Catholic Church to decide. If there is a question or objection, one can present his dubium and the magisterium will answer in due course.

But as it stands, none of the above distinctions (eg., "authentic" or "universal," et al) are going to take away from the primary fact that the Holy Spirit has always protected an ecumenical council from error when it teaches on faith and morals. This is how the sheep can follow the shepherd's voice and have trust in it. The dissecting is for the shepherd to do. If we can prompt him to do so by our objections, so be it. I do it all the time. In the final analysis it is his responsibility, and he will have to stand before God's judgment seat to determine whether he was faithful to the task, not me or you.

But in no way is a Michael Davies, Fr. Bugnolo or Bishop Lefebvre going to dictate how we should be viewing the Council. For that matter, even Michael Davies began to soften his position in the latter years of his life as he sought more and more to find harmony between Dignitatis Humanae and tradition. I have been exegeting texts for 30 years, and I simply have no problem harmonizing the two, so I'm not persuaded by those who have failed in this endeavor, to whatever degree. As for Gaudium, there are many places that it is not teaching on faith and morals, but is only giving its opinion on world affairs, thus there is room for leverage there.

My advice is for traditionalists to stop attacking Vatican II, and to make Vatican II YOUR council. Take it away from the liberals and modernists. Show the liberals that they are misinterpreting Vatican II (which is rather easy to do). Only in this way will you ever get anywhere.

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Question 29Cardinal Ratzinger on the Eucharist

Ratzinger denies the Real Presence...

“Eucharistic devotion such as is noted in the silent visit by the devout in church must not be thought of as a conversation with God. This would assume that God was present there locally and in a confined way. To justify such an assertion shows a lack of understanding of the Christological mysteries of the very concept of God. This is repugnant to the serious thinking of the man who knows about the omnipresence of God. To go to church on the ground that one can visit God who is present there is a senseless act which modern man rightfully rejects.”

Source: Die Sacramentale Begrundung Christliche Existenz by Joseph Ratzinger

Chip

R. Sungenis: It doesn't matter any longer what Pope Benedict said as a Cardinal. No Cardinal has ever been deemed infallible. It only matters now what Pope Benedict teaches us. As a pope of the Catholic Church he has the protection of the Holy Spirit when he teaches us official doctrine on faith and morals. That's why you converted to the Catholic Church. Hold on to it, because no other church has it.

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Question 28Pope Benedict's "Ecumenism of the Return"

Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone,[114] meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.
COUNCIL OF TRENT

Benedict XVI, Address to Protestants at World Youth Day, August 19, 2005:
“And we now ask: What does it mean to restore the unity of all Christians?... This unity, we are convinced, indeed subsists in the Catholic Church, without the possibility of ever being lost (Unitatis Redintegratio, nn. 2, 4, etc.); the Church in fact has not totally disappeared from the world. On the other hand, this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not!” (L’Osservatore Romano, August 24, 2005, p. 8.)

I am going through RCIA from my Baptist faith and am more confused now than ever. Please don’t spin me with, “this is a clarification” or “don’t read into this what it doesn’t say”. I’m not the brightest bulb in the box, but I’m not an idiot either. This is outright contradiction; I know it when I see it. I’ve tried setting my hair on fire and running around in circles trying to tie my shoes but I can’t spin this to make it fit and I’d like some solid answers, not more spin from my RCIA deacon. Something is tragically wrong with the Church that I was always taught as being unmovable. Heck, my RCIA class just had a Muslim show up to foster “similarities” of our faith. I wanted to run out screaming. I am afraid that I have slipped into deception and now will look like an idiot to my family and friends. How do I tell them they need to be saved in the Church when the doggone Pope says, “Ahhhhh, don’t sweat it”

Why can’t someone stand flat-footed, back straight and speak truth anymore? What a sad mish-mash, and I’m losing my faith.

Chip

R. Sungenis: Chip, in that address Pope Benedict confirmed that the unity of the Catholic Church exists in the Catholic Church. His subsequent statement "this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not!” in this context simply means that when coming into the Catholic Church a non-Catholic need not forget everything he learned in his non-Catholic faith, since there are many areas of agreement between the Catholic faith and other religions. For example, a Protestant who learns about the Trinity or the Incarnation from the Church's early councils, or how he is to obey the commandments of God from his Sunday School class, are not things he is expected to disown once he becomes a Catholic. That is his "faith history" and it is just as vital a part of his being and understanding of God as everything else. The Catholic Church will then enhance his knowledge and bring him to a fuller understanding of these truths, since the unity is in her alone.

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Question 27I posted this on Angel Queen

Robert Sungenis's analysis of the crisis in the Church is one that traditional and conservative Catholics should explore and ponder. In order to make a case for Tradition, and entire ecumenical council cannot be thrown out. While the primary purpose of the Council was pastoral, pastoral principles must be based upon doctrine and dogma.

In those situations where Vatican II appears to have veered from Tradition (How many of you have actually read in total, the vast majority of the documents, then compared them with preceding teaching on the same topic?), it must be interpreted in light of Tradition. In other words, the theology is still taking place to harmonize them. Robert Sungenis, along with Father Brian Harrision, and the late Fr. William Most and Fr. John Hardon, did the most toward this vein from an English-speaking perspective. The traditionalist case is not a microcosm of the 1950s. Unfortunately, many traditionalists are very shallow in their thinking and have never read St. Thomas and the Fathers of the Church. Many have read the syllabus of errors and mortalium animos, but what about all the rest of the encyclicals? What about the numerous encyclicals John Paul II wrote reaffirming Christ's kingship? What about the new Catechism which puts Dignitatis Humanae in the proper perspective and reaffirms the Kingship of Christ and even the possibility of a confessional state?

Seriously, guys and gals, Robert Sungenis's take on this is right on, and until Traddies who rely solely upon Novus Ordo Watch, The Remnant and Catholic Family News for their worldview expand into reading the Bible, the Fathers of the Church and St. Thomas himself, the rest of the world will not be evangelized by mere criticism and snide remarks based upon ignorance.

Understand, I am a traditional Catholic with friends in the SSPX and many NeoCons. I get hammered by both sides and that is to be expected. But if your formation comes solely from one priest or one order, remember the Church itself, with all the priests, bishops and popes, of this age and the past, form authentic Catholic teaching. Robert Sungenis is right on, and until traditionalists learn to take criticisms of their views seriously, and seriously address them, we will continue to be "on the fringe" so to speak.

Brian Mershon
Manager Public Relations

R. Sungenis: Brian, thank you for the commendation! I am glad to continue the "tradition" of Fr. Most, Fr. Hardon and Fr. Harrison. Having been on both sides of the fence, I can see the problems in both camps. I don't know why, but my critical mind just won't allow me to skate through any group without seeing their shortcomings.

I just got a letter yesterday from a "traditionalist" who said he was going to withdraw his support with this comment: "Before the Council is of God; after the Council is of Man (and Satan)." Unfortunately, this is the typical traditionalist outlook, and it often leads to sedevacantism, which is why we see such a rise in sedevacantism today.

I'm all for making criticisms of the post-conciliar Church (for even Canon Law allows us to do so - Canon Law 212, 2-3), but traditionalists see virtually nothing good about the Church today. Many have, in effect, declared the Church defeated.

But I know of only one Church today that is holding the line against all the world's moral evils; and it is even beginning to deal with the moral evils in its own ranks (e.g., Pope Benedict's dealing with homosexuals in the prelature).

On the other hand, the neo-conservatives see hardly anything bad happening in the Church. The Scott Hahns and the Karl Keatings are virtually silent about the Church's problems. They only concentrate on the positive in order to keep their constituencies; meanwhile, their Church is being torn apart from inside. Not only that, but they have made many errors and troublesome conclusions in their teachings because they have failed to appreciate properly our traditional doctrine.

As for Vatican II, except for a few trouble spots, I'm amazed every time I pick up that document to read it. It is a well written document. As I said in the article, 95% of it is straight out of our tradition and it faithfully disseminates the Gospel. I often use Vatican II against the Catholic liberals of today, and it is relatively easy to do. Vatican II is OUR council, not theirs.

The other 5%, if interpreted in the light of tradition, can be harmonized very easily with tradition. There is a lot of room for the "development of doctrine" (e.g., Dignitatis Humane and Gaudium et spes against Pius IX's Syllabus). Traditionalists often forget that it was Pius X who approved and legitimized the "development of doctrine" understanding of Catholic teaching, and it has its pedegree in the patristics.

The only problem I see is that in many cases the "development of doctrine" was turned into the "development of novelties" by a hoard of liberal interpreters coming out of the Vatican II era. THESES are the people who have done the damage to the Church.

In a conversation I just had with one of the top traditionalists today, we both came to the agreement that, in regards to faith and morals, Vatican II was without error. Both of us easily saw that, in accord with the Church's doctrine of Indefectibility, Vatican II cannot be in error on faith and morals, otherwise; the gates of hell have prevailed.

Vatican II was the 21st Ecumenical Council of the Church. Are we going to posit that the Holy Spirit protected the other 20 Ecumenical Councils but did not protect the 21st? Hardly. The safe bet is this: when Vatican II touches upon subjects that are NOT about faith and morals (eg., Gaudium et spes' suggestion for a one world government), these are not areas to which we are bound, and by Vatican II's own admission, these are only her opinion, not her doctrinal teaching.

Still, as I said in the NOR article, without the proper constraints on the Catholic populace, the positive message of Vatican II can be widely abused, and that it was. You can't have the positive without dealing with the negative (which is what I constantly tell Hahn and Keating today). Our Lady was giving the negative in the Fatima message, but the Vatican II movers and shakers squelched it, and the negatives only got worse. And it will continue to get worse until they listen to what Our Lady said at Fatima, and do what she told them to do.

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Question 26Israel Shamir

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

If you are not already aware of it, I would recommend the website of Israel Shamir, and his three books which you can buy through his site.

I review of his book, Pardes, on Catholic Apologetics International would make an excellent contribution. I believe a review of the book by Tom White is in the latest edition of Culture Wars.

Sincerely,

Thomas Warlick
Gaenserndorf, Austria

R. Sungenis: Thomas, thank you for your information. The best testimony against Zionists is still those from their own camp. If you come across any more, please let me know.

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Question 25Islam - Christian heresy?

I am wondering what the Church teaching is on false religions like Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

Are the gods of those religions demons? I recall a Bible verse mentioning this about pagan religions. Does it apply to the above three?

Secondly, is there Church teaching or tradition on how false religions such as these came about? For example, would Mohammed and possibly other collaborators have created Islam? Or would they have been under the influence of demons?

Thank you for your insight.

- Jerome

B. Douglass: Jerome,

The verse you are thinking of is Psalm 95:5 (DRV). I believe the Hebrew is literally "all the gods of the gentiles are diminutive gods." Both the Septuagint and the Vulgate interpret "diminutive gods" as demons, and this is corroborated by St. Paul is 1 Cor 10:20: "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God." This applies directly to Hinduism and Buddhism. Indeed, St. Francis Xavier, speaking of Hinduism, declared "All the invocations of the pagans are hateful to God because all their gods are devils." I'm actually in the process of collecting quotes to this effect from Catholic authors, especially saints and Popes, from every Christian century. Right now I'm only missing 6.

The Church is easier on Islam. This is from Nostra Aetate, 3:

"They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men... they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting." This is my take on this passage: unlike with pagan religions, the true God is the object of Islamic worship (which means they are implicitly worshipping all three persons of the blessed Trinity, like the old covenant Jews). However, they are not worshipping in such a manner as God has enjoined, so it is illicit worship, like the strange fire of Nadab and Abihu (Numbers 3:4) or the worship on the high places (1 Kings 3:3). As the Roman Catechism teaches, "in the Church of God only are to be found the true worship and true sacrifice which can at all be acceptable to God."

The devil is the father of lies, so he does his best to instigate and propagate false religions (and heresies). This is why St. Paul refers to heresies as "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). But this doesn't mean we should minimize the role of the human agent (e.g. Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Arius) who willingly accomplishes the devil's will (whether knowingly, or whether he is simply out for wealth, power, influence, adulation, etc).

St. Thomas Aquinas gives a systematic treatment of the origin of idolatry, which does justice to both the human and demonic elements in the Summa, II-II, Q. xciv, a. 4.

JMJ,
Ben Douglass

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Question 24Was Vatican II an Evil Council?

Bob, I have a question for you:

Fr. Kramer has related that Rabbi Ratzinger has admitted that the Third Secret of Fatima warns of an evil council and changes made to the Mass.

I'd like to know from you:

(1) Whether you believe this is true

(2) If not, whether you believe Fr. Kramer or his seminary professor friend are lying

(3) If you believe it is true, why you still defend Vatican II as teaching no error

Thanks,
Mario

R. Sungenis: I already addressed this in one of our Q&As. I find it absolutely incredulous that Our Lady would prophecy that an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church would be "evil." Vatican II was the 21st ecumenical council of the Catholic Church. It was legitimate, and insofar as it spoke on faith and morals, it was infallibly providing for us the teaching of the Holy Spirit, as all other 20 ecumenical councils provided us. If not, then the Catholic Church is defectible and the worst lie ever perpetrated on mankind. It is much more credible that someone is putting words in Our Lady's mouth. On the other hand, if Our Lady was saying, in effect, that there would be evil people at the council who would abuse it and twist its words, THAT, I find extremely credible.

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Question 23Geocentric question-2

R. Sungenis: Ron, there is no problem with me using the SimSolar, because I never said that it covers both the daily and annual motions of the sun

This is not the point. The point is that since SimSolar does not depict any movement of any body based on a 24-hour period (it doesn't even try to depict a rotating Earth). The result is that this fact alone completely skews all the orbital paths of all the planets. The skewing occurs as soon as you try to modify the "Earth Center" to have it depict 24-hour Solar revolutions around the Earth. There is no way that if the Sun revolves around the Earth once every 24 hours that SimSolar's depictions of the planets' positions relative to Earth would be accurate (and hence they would not conform to actual earthbound observations). If you speed up the movement of the Sun by a factor of >365, then you must also accelerate the movements of the planets by the same factor. But when you do that, SimSolar then depicts the planets as moving faster than they actually do. To solve this you could come up with a brand new non-Tychonic system of orbital paths for them. But when you do that you've basically admitted that SimSolar does not do what you claimed it does on August 6, 2005 to NASA's Fredericks and Loewenstein: "For help in visualizing the Tychonic model, the program at http:/www.pwr-tools.com/simsolar may help." It doesn't help anyone visualize the Tychonic model as you've presented it: i.e, based on a 24-hour Solar revolution. Even if you speed up the revolution of the Sun more than 365 times while maintaining correct planetary speeds doesn't help, because then the planets are no longer centered on the Sun--in fact, they're no longer really centered on anything! They end up circling an arbitrary point in empty space that only exists to ensure that they appear in the same spot in the sky where we observe them to be!

R. Sungenis: Ron, the only thing the SimSolar program does is show how it is possible to switch centers and still keep every other movement the same. Neither it nor I is claiming that it captures every movement occurring in the sky, which would be quite unreasonable for us to expect it to do.

This is not about how fast the universe can move. Rather it's about how fast we observe that the planets do move on a nightly basis, and whether SimSolar depicts those movements the way you say it does. It can't! It's not designed that way. Because even if you check the "Earth center" box, all the planets are still revolving around a Sun that is simultaneously "revolving around the Earth" once every 365.24+ days. If you speed up the Sun you must also speed up the planets. But if you speed up the planets, then they have to be moving much more quickly than anyone on Earth observes them to be moving. Thus SimSolar cannot both (a) depict your Tychonic system, and (b) depict the heavens as they actually appear (which is the very purpose of SimSolar!) simultaneously!

The reason that I think this presents a real problem for your theory lies in the implications of trying to modify SimSolar to fit your theory. If planetary orbits remain centered on the Sun (as you claim), which in turn revolves around the Earth every 24 hours (as you also claim), then--assuming that the Sun is 93.3 million miles from the Earth (which I assume, but I'm not sure whether you do)--then the Sun's movement must create a 186 million mile "wobble" in the orbital paths of all the planets on a daily basis! A wobble which, I might add, has never been observed. And just ask any space scientist: two astronomical units is a lot of wobble, especially in a 24-hour period, and especially within our own Solar System. Let's try to add some perspective here: each planet would have to wobble back-and-forth, straying from its known orbital path at the speed of about 2,160 miles per second! I'm no expert on these things, but I wouldn't be surprised if a wobble of slightly less than 1.2% the speed of light across 186 million miles of space were enough to create alternating red and blue shifts in the planetary spectra. If so, why hasn't anyone observed them? I would also venture to guess (with much more confidence) that such back-and-forth movements in the planetary orbits, which would move them closer and then farther from the Earth, would result in observable changes in observed magnitude on an hourly basis. Why hasn't anyone observed them?

R. Sungenis: Ron, I don't know why you insist there must be a wobble. You haven't proven it, you're just assuming it.

But to return to my original point--you know, the one that I used to begin our discussion, way back on August 5, 2005: "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." Is it not obvious that, if:

1) (as you claim) planets orbit the Sun while the Sun orbits the Earth, and

2) (as I've demonstrated) this completely alters the planetary paths from those assumed for the trajectories of interplanetary probes,

that my original assertion is correct?

R. Sungenis: No, because it is a simple geometric fact that if we switch the center from being the sun to being the earth, such that the planets are going around the sun and the sun is going around the earth, it will be exactly the same as if earth and the planets were going around the sun. All the distances will be exactly the same. You can do it yourself, Ron. Draw a picture of a heliocentric system on a piece of paper. Put a pencil in the center of the sun. Now rotate the paper. You see all the planets going around the sun. Now, put the pencil in the center of the earth and rotate the paper. You will see the sun and planets going around the earth, but none of the distances have changed. It's really very simple. Why do you think Amy Fredericks didn't want to accept the challenge? The reason is that she knows, being an astrophysicist, that both systems produce the same results. It's already been admitted by every cosmologist and astrophysicist I have researched. I have their quotes. No one denies it. The only thing they insist upon is their right to prefer a heliocentric system, which I grant them, but not on the basis of proof, only personal preference.

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Question 22Lefebvre on Vatican II

Hi Robert,

In round three of your sedevacantism debate with the Diamond Brothers, you tell us that Lefebvre agreed with Vatican II's teachings, because he signed that Council's document. But in 1983, he changed his mind about some of those teachings, I think.

In his book "The Resurrection of the Roman Catholic Church: A Guide to the Traditional Ronan Catholic Movement," Griff Ruby quotes a document that Lefebvre co-wrote with someone named "de Castro Mayer." In that document Lefebvre and de Castro Mayer accuse Vatican II of:

"1. A latitudinarian and ecumenical notion of the Church, divided in its faith, condemned in particular by the Syllabus, No. 18 (Denzinger 2918).

2. A collegial government and a democratic orientation in the Church, condemned in particular by Vatican Council I (Denzinger 3055).

3. A false notion of natural rights of man which clearly appears in the document on Religious Liberty, condemned in particular by Quanta Cura (Pius IX) and Libertas praestantissimum (Leo XIII).

4. An erronious notion of power of the pope (cf. Denzinger 3115).

5. A Protestant notion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments, condemned by the Council of Trent, Session XXII.

6. Finally, and in a general manner, the free spreading of heresies, characterized by suppression of the Holy Office" (Qtd. in Ruby 125-126).

Now I'll cite my source:

Ruby, Griff. "The Resurrection of the Roman Catholic Church: A Guide to the Traditional Roman Catholic Movement." New York: Writer's Club Press, 2002.

Again, I don't want to debate this topic. I'm only giving you some information because I think there's reason to believe that some Vatican II documents contain some falsehoods.

Thanks so much.

God bless,
Bill

R. Sungenis: Bill, yes, I was aware that Lefebvre registered alternative views about 20 or so years later, but the fact remains that he approved of Vatican II when it was his official opportunity to do so. He began to change his mind only after he saw how the liberals in the Church were interpreting Vatican II's documents, but that says more against the liberals than it does Vatican II. We must get this clear in our heads: On all the issues dealing with faith and morals, Vatican II got it right, that is, it was protected by the Holy Spirit from error. If not, then we have a defectible Church. The problem is not with Vatican II, rather, it is with how one interprets it.

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Question 21Are NT Biblical Manuscripts Accurate?

I have heard several scholars say that there are an incredible amount of errors in the earliest biblical manuscripts that we have, as well as them being in bad condition. With that said, how can we know the Greek words we argue to defend our position(Catholicism) are actually the words that were used by the authors. Point in case--the word dikaioo that both Paul and James use, (I have read your book, Not By Faith Alone four times already--it's a masterpiece--dare I say the ONLY masterpiece on the subject available) how, if many scholars claim there is corruption in the majority of the manuscripts, do we know these are the very words used by the authors. I was watching a show not long back and it was a Protestant one, the protestant said that Catholics have no basis in arguing the Eucharist from the Greek words because there is corruption in the better part of the manuscripts and that we cannot know for sure if those are ACTUALLY the words(in Greek) that were written.

I was very curious as to what your response is to this. I hope I have been clear and I will constantly check my mail to see if you have written back.

William

R. Sungenis: William, the way we can know that we have 99% of the Greek text intact is because, if we add up all the words in the Greek New Testament, less than 1% of them have discrepancies. That's quite remarkable considering the fact that there are over 5000 Greek manuscripts we can compare. So don't worry about the hype that some liberals or anti-Catholic throw at you. The science of textual criticism is quite old now, and those who know the science know that the New Testament copies are some of the world's most accurate documents.

We, in fact, could safely say that of all documents ever transcribed since the dawn of time, the biblical copies outshine all other attempts by man to provide an accurate rendition of the originals. This has painstakingly been proven by a comparison of the copies. I have studied this for almost 30 years, and thus I can be quite confident of what I say. God's gift to us were the monks of the Middle Ages. They did almost nothing else but copy Greek manuscripts for us. These monks were following in a tradition left by the Hebrews. As legend has it, the Hebrew scribes who copied the Hebrew of the Old Testament would throw out an entire manuscript if they found even one error in transcription.

As for the use of dikaioo, there are no significant textual discrepancies in its NT usage, not even between the Textus Receptus and the text of Wescott and Hort. All one needs to do to prove any of this is to buy a NT Greek critical text. The Nestle-Aland 27th edition, preferably. One can flip the pages and see for oneself. In fact, a large majority of the discrepancies in the 1% area are only of one letter between words.

Diagnosis: No need to worry. Sleep well tonight.

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Question 20Re: The other part of the counter syllabus commentary

Bob,

I see no way to harmonize the Syllabus with the Counter-syllabus, as Ratzinger calls it, especially since Ratzinger says there can be no RETURN to it. There is no other way to read his statement: he is repudiating the teaching of the Syllabus, not harmonizing it. He clearly views it as outdated and superseded. I am sick and tired of trying to square the circle with these guys. It is enough to say that Ratzinger’s statement is not heresy and leave it at that.

R. Sungenis: In my view, unless Ratzinger says, specifically that he is "repudiating the Syllabus" or that it is "outdated" and "superceded," as you claim, then I'll give him the benefit of the doubt in this difficult area, because I don't know of any other time Ratzinger has said that a papal document has no authority or effect on us today.

As for the Council teaching error, it certainly could in matters where the Church has no competence. Thus there is no question in my mind that the Council erred in teaching that we need a world government or that there is a population “problem” or that man is advancing in “maturity” or that contemporary man has a greater appreciation of human dignity. All of these claims are manifest nonsense, as is the claim that Muslims worship the one merciful God “together” with us. Poppycock.

R. Sungenis: And who is to decide whether the Council is dealing in matters where it "has no competence," you and me? Your own objection disqualifies you from being the final judge. As for "world government" or "population problem" or that "man is advancing in maturity," show me the passages that concern you and I'll show you how they can be harmonized.

In the context of monotheism, it is true that Muslims worship one God, as opposed to worshiping many gods. THAT is the context of Lumen Gentium. It is not saying that Muslims do their worship correctly or that their worship will provide them a path to heaven. Rather, they, like the Jews, at least start out with the fact that there is only one God. Since that is a common ground between us, we can then teach them, so says Lumen Gentium, the correct way to understand this one God. That's not "poppycock," that's what St. Paul did for the Athenians in Acts 17.

But none of this heresy. The Council is filled with gratuitous commentary and assertions of fact that are in no way part of the Church’s constant teaching.

Chris

R. Sungenis: Like what? Commenting on the world's growing population? There were less than a billion people in the world at the turn of the 20th century. Now we have six billion. There was no "constant teaching" of the Church on how to understand a population of six billion. Vatican II is trying to harmonize the Church's constant teaching on reproduction with the growing concern of feeding and caring for six billion people. Is that so "gratuitous"?

Again, if we interpret Gaudium et spes in light of tradition, we can reach a harmony. But saying that Gaudium et spes was "in error" is not the way to go. All someone need do to put the proper perspective on this is ask: "Chris, did the Holy Spirit protect Vatican II from error or not?" You have three choices: yes, no, or maybe so, but the last two are essentially saying the same thing, and thus either of those choices obliterates the indefectibility of the Church. I don't see any escape from that.

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Question 19Anaphero - Greek Lexicon

You told me that when we read that the chastisement of our peace was UPON HIM, and the Lord has laid ON HIM the iniquity of us all, that these words will not prove my case that Christ took the legal punishment of our sin because the most we can say about the terms is that a mysterious "something" was indeed put upon Him, and that "something" is the root of our dispute. Well, "my goodness gracious" as my auntie used to say, why dispute? What may I ask, was LAID UPON the head of the animal led out into the wilderness as a figure of Christ? Why, the sins of the people, of course? And that could only be done by imputation and no other way. It is certainly not being unfaithful to the text to say that our sins were likewise imputed to Christ. And if you say that it was not by imputation, then I would like you to tell me right here and now by "what method" were those sins placed upon the head of the animal?

R. Sungenis: Yes, the "sins of the people were laid on the animal," but the question remains as what that action means. You keep throwing in the word "imputation," but that is not what the OT texts say it is. "Imputation" is a theological term you are borrowing from your King James Bible. It's not a biblical word. The Greek word in view is logizomai, and, as I show in Not By Faith Alone, it has nothing to do with imputing sins or righteousness. As a result, you are simply begging the question by claiming that the animal ordeal was an imputation.

Jaret: Furthermore, as to the word "chastisement"; according to my handy dandy Bible dictionary, the word used in Isaiah, defined in its widest sense, means....(hello?)...."PUNISHMENT".

R. Sungenis: You can cut the sarcasm, Jaret. Now do this. Go look up the Hebrew word musar in your King James concordance. There you will see that the word is used over 50 times in the OT, but not once is it translated "punishment." That's because the concept behind the word is "dicipline" or "instruction" or "correction," not punishment. If that doesn't help you, then perhaps you can tell us what the phrase "punishment of our peace" would mean in Isaiah 53:5, since that is the only place musar appears in Isaiah 53. The Hebrew words are "musar shalom." The words together form a Hebrew idiom meaning that Christ corrected the peace we lost with God. We lost the peace in Adam, but Christ restored if for us (cf., Romans 5:1). It has nothing to do with Christ taking our "punishment."

Jaret: You then go on to say that since the Lord was raised in three days, He could not have suffered the eternal punishment of anybody. But did it ever occur to you that the Lord Jesus Christ is INFINITE, and that He could most definitely suffer the punishment of those for whom he died, in a FINITE period of time? This conclusion is definitely not unreasonable, especially in light of what you OMITTED to say on p. 106 of NBFA.

R. Sungenis: Unfortunately for you, Jaret, Scripture doesn't use that argumentation. It doesn't base Christ's Atonement on "infinite" and "finite." That is merely your construct that is imposed on the text. Even if it was true, there's nothing to prohibit us from concluding that because Christ is infinite he could have suffered an infinite time, not merely a finite time.

Jaret: The following link below leads you to a Greek Lexicon regarding the word, "Anaphero".....as in "He Himself bore our sins in His body" (1 Pet 2:24). On p. 106, you do your readers the disservice of MERELY stating that "bore" is a sacrificial term referring to Christ as a sin offering, and leave it at that. But the Lexicon informs us that "bore" can mean that which precisely demolishes your thesis; namely, that "Christ DID NOT take upon Himself the guilt and punishment of the individual"! We read that it CAN mean "to place upon one's self anything as a load to be carried".......(but just what that something is, you say, is the matter of dispute. But is it really?) The Lexicon doesn't think so. What is it that could be placed on the "load carrier'? Answer: "to sustain, I.E. THEIR PUNISHMENT." You seem smart enough to have known this. To have excluded it out of the discussion was nothing less than dishonest.

R. Sungenis: Jaret, I'm not interested in your opinion of what could be placed on the load carrier. If you can find a Scripture passage that says Christ took our legal punishment on the cross, then you've got something. Until then, all you've got is an opinion. And for your information, what is placed on the "load carrier" is the sacrifice, not the punishment.

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Question 18The other part of the counter syllabus commentary

Bob,

One Matt Haltom says you defend Ratinger's statement as follows: On Oct 2, 2005, at 11:02 AM, Matthew Haltom wrote:

"If it is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the text [of the Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes] as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of counter syllabus. As a result, the one-sidedness of the position adopted by the Church under Pius IX and Pius X in response to the situation created by the new phase of history inaugurated by the French Revolution was, to a large extent, corrected via facti, especially in Central Europe, but there was still no basic statement of the relationship that should exist between the Church and the world that had come into existence after 1789."

Ratzinger says later in the same text "there can be no return to the Syllabus." No matter how you slice it, this is outrageous. Ratzinger accuses two of the greatest popes in history of "one-sidedness" and reduces their teaching to a "position." Even if it is not formal heresy as the Dimonds claim, Ratzinger ought not to be defended here.

Chris

R. Sungenis: Chris, I don’t think Ratzinger is “accusing” our previous popes of any kind of misstep, and our final conclusion of Ratzinger’s statement certainly DOES depend on how one “slices it,” as you put it.

First, unless Ratzinger, or now Pope Benedict, specifically and deliberately says that Pius IX was wrong and that Gaudium et spes corrected his error, then I will reserve the temptation to put Ratzinger in the position of saying that Pius IX was in error. I think if you are as open with Ratzinger’s words and Gaudium et spes as you are with Pius IX’s teachings, there will be room for a harmony of views here, especially in light of the fact that Church/State relations is a very difficult subject, with a lot of strains and pressures from every direction.

Second, I reject the position that claims there is error in Vatican II’s documents. We can argue all day about whether the word “infallible” applies, but in the end, Vatican II was the 21st ecumenical council of the Catholic Church; the vehicle of the Holy Spirit to disseminate truth as He did in all previous ecumenical councils; and a council that was confirmed by the reigning pope. So either the Holy Spirit protected the council from error, or He did not. There is no in-between, quasi-position, that can be adopted. On the one hand, if the Holy Spirit did not protect the council from error, then you could be right about Gaudium et spes; but then again, so would the sedevacantists.

Regarding my explanation for Ratzinger’s statement, let me say first of all that I don’t vouch for all that Cardinal Ratzinger said as a Cardinal. But I’m at a position in my judgment at present in which I’m very cautious about faulting him in these very difficult areas (e.g., Church/State relations). I am especially cautious because, after witnessing how the Dimond Brothers consistently twist words and take things out of context, I see how easy it is to misrepresent or misjudge someone’s good intentions. And it is my belief that Ratzinger had good intentions in trying to understand the comparisons and contrasts of the Syllabus and Gaudium et spes. He, as I do, begins from the position that there must be harmony between the two documents because they are both official documents of the Catholic Church. It is a harmony that should be based on the respective context of each document. As I see it, the Syllabus was dealing with one set of problems, and Gaudium et spes was dealing with another set of problems, even though the two documents sometimes overlap in their concerns, as all ecclesial documents do to one degree or another. Trying to harmonize Gaudium et spes with the Syllabus should be our utmost priority; and I know for certain that our energies should NOT be spent on making Gaudium et spes into a pariah.

I see the same problems happening over and over again in biblical exegesis. The reason there are thousands of Protestant denominations in the world is due to the fact that they take passages of Scripture out of context, and this will invariably lead to false conclusions. Admittedly, sometimes the passages are difficult to harmonize. St. Paul says "man is not justified by works,” but St. James says “man is justified by works.” This is precisely what led Luther to say that the latter was an “epistle of straw.” On the surface, they do, indeed, contradict one another. But on deeper analysis, however, there is no better harmony ever established by two inspired individuals. The key, of course, is examining the contexts of each passage and the perspectives of each author. I do so in the 775 pages of Not By Faith Alone.

The same is true when dealing with ecclesiastical documents protected by the Holy Spirit.

With those principles in view, I told the Dimond Brothers that Ratzinger’s statement that “there can be no return to the Syllabus” should be understood neither as a rejection of the Syllabus, nor that the Syllabus was in error; nor that the Syllabus cannot be applicable to our day. Rather, I stated that, since we now have another official document of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit and known to us as Gaudium et spes, then “no return to the Syllabus” means that there is no return to the Syllabus without the additional information in Vatican II, since the Syllabus, in itself, did not claim to deal with every issue that would arise from or deal with Church/State relations, nor did it claim to be the last and final word on the subject.

If we would spend more time interpreting Gaudium et spes in light of the Syllabus, rather than leaving Gaudium et spes flapping in the wind by itself and allowing it to become the playtoy of the liberals, then we could capture what the Holy Spirit intended when He allowed both documents to come into the Church.

I can’t imagine either Pius IX or Pius X, irrespective of how much they preached against “modernism,” would ever stoop to the position that an ecumenical council confirmed by the reigning pope did not have the right to add to or revise some of the things he said on Church/State relations. If either of these popes would have taken such a position, then they would have been destroying their own authority by undercutting the magisterium at large. In the end, putting Gaudium et spes at odds with the Syllabus rather than harmonizing the two, is a recipe for disaster. I give credit to Ratzinger for at least making some sense out of the difficulty, yet not even he will be the last word on the subject, I’m sure.

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Question 17Geocentric question

Robert,

But doesn't this pose a problem for your use of the SimSolar program? All of the motions it depicts are based on 365.2423 day year. Thus when you check the "Earth Center" box, it shows the Sun "revolving around the Earth" once per year, not once per 24 hours. (This is confirmed by observing the "Date" field in the top center.) You're not interpreting the program according to its design. You're "speeding it up" by a factor of more than 365!

But the real problem for your view comes when you consider that the movements of the planets are also based on the same timeframe that governs the movement of the Sun. As long as you use the program the way it was intended--depicting movements over the course days, months and years, and not hours--the planetary movements conform to actual observations. But once you assume that the Sun is moving around the Earth once every 24 hours, this means that the movements of ALL the heavenly bodied, including the planets, must speed up to more than 365 times their actual speed! At such a rate, we planets would appear to be moving like slow, high-flying jet planes (or perhaps man-made Earth satellites), potentially passing through several constellations each night! The only way to solve this problem is to posit completely different orbital paths for the planets than assumed in the Tychonic model.

I think you have a real problem here.

Ron Henzel

R. Sungenis: Ron, there is no problem with me using the SimSolar, because I never said that it covers both the daily and annual motions of the sun. I only referred to SimSolar to help people see that an earth-centered system will have the same proportional motions between the planets and earth as the sun-centered system. That both systems are the same is an established fact. SimSolar helps people see it.

As regards the relationship between the daily and annual motions of the sun, what we would need to add to SimSolar is a model in which the sun revolves around the earth every 24 hours, in addition to the one that has it moving every year. The only thing that would show on the screen is the sun in a slightly different place each day (or year), since it and the rest of the universe precess on a daily (or annual) basis.

As regards your objection that: "At such a rate, we planets would appear to be moving like slow, high-flying jet planes (or perhaps man-made Earth satellites), potentially passing through several constellations each night," the fact is that the constellations will also revolve around the earth each night, so the planets will not move through them any faster than in the heliocentric system. I think you need to understand that it is the universe itself which is rotating around the earth every 24 hours. The universe is carrying both the stars and the sun and our planets around the earth. There is only a slight independent movement of our sun and planets against the universe each day, and thus, the sun and planets are not moving at tremendous speeds. It it the universe that is moving fast.

Now, if the objection is raised that the universe can't spin that fast, we just take the objector to Einstein's theory of Relativity, since it says that the universe can, indeed, travel that fast. Here is a quote from a Relativist named Rosser on that count:

…the stars would be moving relative to O’ [the observer] with linear velocities exceeding 3 x 108 m/sec, the terrestrial value of the velocity of light. At first sight this appears to be a contradiction…that the velocities of all material bodies must be less than c [the speed of light]. However, the restriction u < c = 3 x 108 m/sec is restricted to the theory of Special Relativity….If gravitational fields are present the velocities of either material bodies or of light can assume any numerical value depending on the strength of the gravitational field. If one considers the rotating roundabout as being at rest, the centrifugal gravitational field assumes enormous values at large distances, and it is consistent with the theory of General Relativity for the velocities of distant bodies to exceed 3 x 108 m/sec under these conditions.1

1- An Introduction to the Theory of Relativity, W. G. V. Rosser, London, Butterworths, 1964, p. 460

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Question 16Genesis Flood

Thanks Robert,

It sounded quite strong to someone like me so it will be interesting to see what holes you found. My understanding is that for orthodoxy's sake we must believe all humans besides those on the Ark perished but the geographical extend of the flood is something Catholics can legitimately disagree on. That doesn't mean a side can't be taken in defence of one or other view of course. Do you agree with in principle (regardless of what view you take)? It just lets me know where you are working from.

Matthew

R. Sungenis: I think the burden of proof is on the local theory, since most if not all of Catholic history has understood Genesis 7-9 as a global flood. Regarding the local theory, the only strong point I think Deem had was: what happened to all the water? There are solutions to that problem, scientifically speaking, but it is difficult nonetheless. Deem claims that it would be impossible to evacuate that much water from the earth, and thus uses this as proof for his local theory. But one cannot disprove a global flood based on what we think would not be possible, for that would entail not only that we know everything about water evaporation, but also that God couldn't find a way to do it. All the other objections Deem has can be answered rather easily.

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Question 15Facts about evolution

Hello for October 2005.

Despite Neo-Darwinism {beneficial mutations adding new genetic information to an existing gene pool. Then natural selection causing the mutant to take over the population} being taught as fact in schools, no one has ever observed such a mutation in a natural setting. God’s Word says He will have nonbelievers in derision. Here’s an example.

Mathematically speaking, a 200 part organism would require 200 consecutive, successful beneficial mutations to Neo-Darwinize itself. Although never has a single such mutation ever been seen, let’s give evolutionists a 50-50 chance at each step. Still the odds of 200 in a row taking place would be one out of a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion! And please realize that a one celled organism consists of millions of parts, not just 200!! Evolutionists are in a state of derision to believe in such an anti-science fantasy.

R. Sungenis: Couldn't have said it better myself!

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Question 14Levada at head of CDF

Robert,

Very quickly, what's your take on the appointment of Levada to the CDF? Good, bad or neutral?

Thanks

R. Sungenis: I heard from some high-ups that Leveda is more or less a theological "yes man," and thus he will do the bidding of Pope Benedict without causing too many waves. Let's hope his theological efforts are better than his moral efforts (i.e., his disasterous handling of the pedophile scandal).

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Question 13The Anglican Catholic Church

Ben,

First, I would like to commend you and Rob for your work. One of my friends directed my attention to a site about the Anglican Catholic Church. I was wondering whether you knew anything about the history of this "church." They claim apostolic succession and adherence to the 7 ecumenical councils. Are they in any way legitimately associated with the Catholic church and what evidence can I appeal to to undermine their claims.

Keith

B. Douglass: Keith,

Anglo-Catholics are adherents to the schism of Henry VIII who happen to be more conservative and Catholic in belief and practice than their compatriots. The descendents of the Anglican schism really run the theological gambit, some being very Catholic in their theology, some being strongly evangelical Protestant, and a great deal being thoroughly modernist and basically apostate. This is why the schism has fractured into further schisms. As to the validity of their orders, Leo XIII dealt with that in Apostolicae Curae. They do not have valid apostolic succession. The only Anglican "priests" who actually are priests are those who have paid Old-Catholic bishops to ordain them (Old-Catholic bishops can sometimes be the mercenaries of the sacrament of holy orders, ordaining radical traditionalist Catholics, Anglicans, women, et al if the price is right).

That having been said, there are a great number of Anglo-Catholic priests who have converted to Catholicism, and some of them have been permitted to retain a distinctive liturgy within the Latin Rite of the Church.

JMJ,
Ben Douglass

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Question 12Still unsure about bowing vs genuflecting

Once and for all, I'd like to find out whether or not the American bishops actually mandated a profound bow of the body rather than genuflecting when about to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. If they did NOT mandate it (and I'd like to know where I should go to see their own words on this), am I still duty-bound to comply? In some Novus Ordo parishes, it is still possible to receive Christ while kneeling on a communion rail. I'm not presently able to attend anything other than a Novus Ordo Mass (though it pains me more than I can say), so your clarification on this would be very much appreciated. God bless you for reading this, in any case.

(Mrs.) Sarah Lentz
Zimmerman, MN

B. Douglass: Mary,

Mrs. Lentz,

See Question 16 of Febuary, 2005. Should you so desire, it is your right to kneel, and no one can prevent you or accuse you of disobedience.

JMJ,
Ben Douglass

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Question 11The Eucharist

Dear CAI,

For years, I have heard my parish priest say that when we receive the Eucharist, "we become Christ", apparently referencing something credited to St. Augustine. I did a web search on the phrase, and found it several times, including on the website of a highly respected faithful priest. When I searched the catechism on the K of C website, the phrase didn't show up. Will you please comment on the use of "we become Christ"?

May God bless abundantly your most excellent work. I will be pledging a monthly donation very soon.

Mary

B. Douglass: Mary,

Thank you very much for your contribution.

Sometimes people use highly poetic, hyperbolic language to express a truth, even though the statement might not be technically accurate in the literal sense. Take it in the spirit it was intended, just like you do with our Lord's words "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26). Same with St. Athanasius, who is quoted in the Catechism as saying that men become God by grace. In the Eucharist, we are very intimately united with Christ, and we are made perfectly spotless and immaculate. That is probably the intended meaning of "we become Christ."

That having been said, when using such language it is extremely important to make sure that one is not misunderstood, especially if there are ill-informed Catholics or non-Catholics in the audience. The priest should make it very clear that Christ is eternal, immutable, and infinite, whereas we are created, mutable, and finite. Moreover, we will never be integrated into Christ such that we lose our individuality, as in Eastern religions.

JMJ,
Ben Douglass

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Question 10Question regarding the Greek Word "Anothen" in John 3:5

Hi Robert

I hope you are well – keep up all the great work that you are doing – your Gospel of Matthew Commentary is a masterpiece as per usual.

I have a question regarding John 3:5 where Christ tells Nicodemus “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (DR). Now my RSVCE has a footnote saying that it can also mean “born from above” and I’ve also heard Scott Hahn in some of his tapes mention that anothen is generally used to mean from above especially in the gospel of John. So my question is would the word play of anothen also be there in Aramaic which I’m presuming Christ and Nicodemus would have been speaking? If not where would Nicodemus’ misunderstanding have arisen from? Also I’ve just checked out the Latin vulgate translation at www.drbo.org and St. Jerome translated it as renatus so the ‘from above’ translation would be missing (I don’t actually know Latin but am guessing from my Sicilian). Can you please help?

Many thanks in advance and God Bless you and your family and your apostolate.

Cheers

Vito

p.s. When is your next bible (Revelation?) commentary book coming out?

And when is your Not by Science alone being published ? – I might not agree with your ideas on Geocentrism but I would love to see where you are coming from and see how the maths works out.

Dr. Vito G. Graffagnino

R. Sungenis: Vito, let me say a word first about the seemingly dual translation we have for "anothen" in the NT. The word does not necessarily mean "from above" as much as it means "from the top," as in the colloquial saying by a musical conductor after his orchestra played a bad rendition of a song: "okay, let's take it from the top, shall we?" It connotes the idea of going back to the beginning, or to the top of something in an effort to do it all over again, so as to get it right the second time. So it's not so much a play on words in John's gospel, but the result of a complex meaning for anothen.

As for whether Jesus and Nicodemus spoke Aramaic, we simply don't know this for certain, and even if they did speak Aramaic, it would be inconsequential in regard to our exegesis of John 3:5, 7 where anothen is used. The text was inspired in Greek by the Holy Spirit, and that is where our exegesis must lie. Attempts at guessing what the Aramaic might have been, sometimes does more harm than good in Catholic apologetics.

Regarding the second volume of the CASB: The Apocalypse of St. John, we should have that out in the next few months, and the Galileo Was Wrong book will probably not be too far behind. As for the "math," rest assured, it has all been included. My co-author has a Ph.D. in General Relativity, and teaches math at a university :)

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Question 9Geocentric question posted on your NASA site

If I recall, you cite biblical reasons for believing that the Sun revolves around the Earth. Could you state precisely what those biblical reasons are, and refer me to the key texts that you believe support your view?

On the issue of space probe trajectory calculations (which you again raise in your latest email to NASA): as I understand it, a major consideration is momentum. In a heliocentric universe, the Earth (since it would be moving) would have momentum, and this momentum is integral to the calculations used by NASA, the ESA, and other international space agencies. A probe to Mars would borrow most of its momentum from the Earth in order to reach its destination, and this would directly affect fuel consumption. In a geocentric universe, such as the one I believe you're proposing, the Earth (since it would be stationary) would have no momentum, and so the probe's fuel would have to create all the momentum needed for the voyage. As I understand it, this results in two different sets of equations, and two different solutions to those equations.

I look forward to your answer to my question above. Thank you.

Ron Henzel

R. Sungenis: Ron, welcome, once again. Yes, it's been five weeks. Tuesday will be six.

As for the biblical reason, the simple fact is that, if we interpret Scripture in its face value meaning, it consistently says the sun moves around the earth and that the earth does not move. Granted, some may claim that these passages are phenomenological, but that only begs the question, since to reject the face value meaning one would have to have proof that they cannot be interpreted in that way. At least that is the way we believe Scripture interpretation should take place in the Catholic faith. Moreover, there are certain passages that won't readily allow a phenomenological interpretation. For example, Joshua 10:10-13 says that the sun was stopped from revolving aroud the earth by Joshua, but it also says the moon was stopped as well. We already know the moon revolves around the earth, and thus could be stopped for a time, thus, how would someone be able to make the sun's revolution into a phenomenological intepretation, yet leave the moon's disruption as a face value interpretation? One can't have it both ways, at least in biblical exegesis.

In addition to this, all our Church Fathers, even knowing that the Greeks were pushing heliocentrism, stated in absolute consensus that the Scripture was firm in its resolve that geocentrism was the only correct model. This stance, of course, was followed by Bellarmine who appealed to this patristic witness when he was confronting Galileo. Bellarmine's claim was the same as I present above: If one can prove heliocentrism, we will reinterpret the Scriptures. If not, we are obliged to take them at face value, for God cannot lie.

As to the issue you raise with the earth moving and supposedly needing less fuel, you need to consider that, whatever motion you give to the earth is going to be subtracted by a planet or position in space that is going to be proportionally farther away from the earth and to which the rocket is heading. Or, another way to look at it is, as the rocket travels to the planet, it is going to be thrusting against the forces created by a rotating universe, and thus the fuel consumption is going to be exactly the same as when the earth is moving and the universe is fixed.

This is the same reason why, for example, that the Foucault pendulum doesn't prove that the earth rotates, since the same forces that a rotating earth creates in a fixed universe is the same forces created when the universe rotates against a fixed earth. This was already stated by Mach and Einstein, and is the whole basis for "relativity."

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Question 8Ariel Sharon and the militia

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I am concerned by the lack of care with which you write. To take one example, in your article "Neo-Cons and the Jewish Connection", you write that "Sharon massacred 3000 refugees over 62 hours in the camps of Sabra and Shattila." Without excusing Sharon's role in this massacre, the actual physical killing was not done by Ariel Sharon, but by Maronite Christian militias. It would be more accurate to say that "Catholics massacred . . . " than "Sharon massacred . . ." but of course this might not serve your argument as well.

I can supply more examples of misrepresentation if you wish. But for now, I just want to suggest that when one consistently sacrifices accuracy for the sake of argument, that argument does not serve the truth, and it does not serve Jesus Christ. In this age of information-manipulation, what the world needs is the truth expressed calmly, without distortion, and with care. As you have taken up the task of communication, I ask that you try to reach this ideal with your writing.

Dimitri Constant

R. Sungenis: Dimitri, perhaps you missed this sentence in my Remnant article: "Siding with Sharon, they whitewashed his crime by saying he was only “indirectly” responsible for the massacre because he “hired” the Phalange militia who did the actual killing." So my journalism is not as shoddy as you pretend it to be.

Be that as it may, regardless of the fact that the militia did the killing, Sharon hired them, and thus he is responsible. And the Catholic Church condemned, and continues to condemn, any and all violence in the Middle East, including Bush's war in Iraq. Renegades in Lebanon going falsely by the name "Christian," have been condemned as well.

In any case, if you are attempting to exhonerate Sharon for all his bloody massacres in this period of his life, good luck. If you had read my article as carefully as you purport to have done, you would have seen that even the Israeli government said that Sharon's actions in 1982 were a disgrace. The United Nations held Sharon responsible, and said that he was the one insigating the "genocide." He did not get the nickname "Butcher of Beruit" or "Bulldozer" for nothing. And then when you add up all the monstrous exploits of Sharon since his debut in 1951, it doesn't paint a pretty picture. His only saving grace is his recent pull out from the Gaza Strip, as I stated in the article.

As for your accusation that you can supply "more examples of misrepresentation," please spare me, Dimitri. Either list them and allow them to be rebutted, or keep quiet. If the above "example" concering your estimation of Sharon's exploits is any indication of how you read and evaluate an article, I need not worry about my journalism. What "doesn't serve Jesus Christ" is when people like you hide their head in the sand about Zionism and falsely accuse those who try to point it out to you.

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Question 7Tithing

Dear CAI,

I wonder if you could help and comment on what is the official church teaching and bibilical teaching on tithing. Many Pentecostals and Protestants claim that you must give a minimum of 10% to the Church on a monthly basis. Yet I have heard apologists like Patrick Madrid write in one of his books that based on the Corinthians passage "that God loves a cheerful giver..." that under the new covenant are not obligated to give 10%. What do you make of this, are we still obligated under the new covenant to give 10% today?

Timothy

B. Douglass: The Old Covenant has been superceded by the New (Hebrews 7:18; 8:13; 10:9; 2Cor 3:6-14) so we are no longer bound by its legal precepts. Now the Church has the authority to legislate based on the dictates of time and circumstance. We see this at the Council of Jerusalem, where St. James the Just forbade Christians from eating meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, and from the meats of strangled animals (Acts 15:28-29), even though there is nothing intrinsically wrong with such meats (1Cor 10:23ff; 1Tim 3:4-5). The Church may incorporate precepts from the Old Covenant into Church law, which is what St. James was doing, or she may dispense with them. So, if the Church mandated a tithe of 10%, we would be obligated to pay. However, current canon law is much more vague, and requires only that we contribute to the support of the Church.

JMJ,
Ben Douglass

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Question 6Purgatory and the Prodigal Son

Question: A Protestant fundamentalist friend uses the story of the Prodigal Son to try to prove that Purgatory is fiction because the son repented, was forgiven and richly rewarded. What is the best response?

Mr. Landvogt

R. Sungenis: Regarding your question about the parable of the prodigal son and its relation to purgatory, I’m afraid you’ve been led down the prim rose path by the Protestant. He has built himself a straw man (which is his assuming that we would use the parable of the prodigal son to prove purgatory) and he has then proceeded to knock it down.

The parable of the prodigal son has one message to teach – that God accepts those who repent of their sin, even after they’ve have lived a riotous life. But the parable does not address the issue of what, if any, temporal punishment one must incur for previous sins. We go to other places of Scripture for such information, and more aptly, passages of Scripture that are not parables, since parables, in themselves, are not the basis for specific doctrine.

Two of the better Scriptures which speak both about temporal punishment, both on earth and in the after-life, is 2 Samuel 11-12 and 1 Corinthians 3:15. In the first, although God forgives David of his sin, David is still severely punished. God takes David’s newborn son, and eventually his other wives are raped by his other son. David is then chased by his enemies for quite a while, all under the hand of God. So we see here that, even though God may forgive sin and accept one back, one is still punished for his sin, although the punishment is temporary.

As for the eventuality of such punishment occurring in the after-life (if it has not already occurred on earth), 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 tells us that, after we die, we are judged for our works. If some of the works are “burned,” we will be punished. The Greek word St. Paul employs here is zemioo, which was originally translated as “punishment” in the LXX, and also took on the meaning of “suffer loss” in the New Testament.

But the verse also says that, even though one is “punished” for his burned works, he himself will be “saved as through fire.” In other words, even though he is punished, he will still be saved after going through the fire. This is the fire of purgatory. In fact, the Greek word here is houtos, which means “in the same way,” that is, in the same way that the man’s works were run through the fire, the man himself will be subjected to the fire.

All of this agrees perfectly with Catholic doctrine, for purgatory is a temporal punishment for sins committed on earth, but one will eventually escape those purifying flames, allowing him to be saved and enter heaven.

On the other hand, 1 Corinthians 3:17 says that those who sin severely, that is, all of their works are burned up as they destroy God’s temple, they will be destroyed by God. This is a reference to hell.

Hence, in 1 Corinthians 3:13 we have heaven; in 3:15 we have purgatory; and in 3:17 we have hell, all in accord with Catholic doctrine.

If you want to know more about the issue of Purgatory and how to support it from Scripture, consult my books Not By Faith Alone, pp. 479-516, or How Can I Get to Heaven, pp. 279-306

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Question 5Which is more powerful angels or saints?

Robert,

Thank you so much for your reply. If one prays to ones guardian angel for, say, a car spot rather than praying to the "saint of finding a car spot" (for want of a better example) is it more likely that the guardian angel will find that car spot than the saint?

I will buying your books later on to learn more about our faith.

God Bless,

Mary

R. Sungenis: Mary, it is my understanding from Scripture and Catholic theology that we appeal to angels in cases of spiritual attack, but we appeal to saints for spiritual favors, especially those of which they are the patrons. Use that as your guideline.

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Question 4Which is the True Church?

SUNGENIS: As I said before, if you can find a consensus of Eastern bishops prior to 1054 who did not give their allegiance to the Roman pontiff, then you have something

AL: Begging the question. Eastern Bishops before 1054 joined any Bishop, not just the Roman Pontiff, due to confession of faith. Not because he was the Roman Pontiff. But if you want examples, they exist; Photian Schism of 869 and Third Ecumenical Council if I remember correctly.

R. Sungenis: Al, after all this blustering, you have only one example of a group of Eastern bishops who didn't give their allegiance to the pope of Rome?? We have even more dissenters in the Latan church, for Pete's sake. I rest my case.

By the way, the Third Ecumenical Council gave its allegiance to the pope. I suggest you do your homework before you enter such debates.

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Question 3Re: Emily Rose: Can a Christian become possessed?

I read your Q&A and article on Emily Rose. How is it that a girl from a devout family can be possesed? Why would God let this happen? If I recall, a book I read once, by Rome's chief exorcist, said that to become possesed you have to give some sort of consent to the devil. Is that correct?

Thanks

R. Sungenis: Amy, in this case, I'm going to let Fr. Harrison answer this question, since he is an expert in these areas, having worked in exorcisms in the past. Here is his response to someone else who asked the same question:

Dear Peggy,

Thanks for your very kind letter.

I would say the theology behind Emily Rose's possession in the movie (and, it seems, in the real life case it was based on) is perfectly authentic. That's one reason I said in my review that it was "the real thing."

One of the things I learnt from my brief "apprenticeship" in possession and exorcism with the Holy Father's Roman exorcist, Fr. Gabriel Amorth, is that possession is by no means always due to sinful dabbling in the occult, etc., on the part of the possessed person. Fr. Amorth, and other experienced exorcists, recognize that at times the condition can result from the malice of others, invoking demonic power to afflict an innocent and even devout Catholic, motivated by revenge or whatever. In plain language, yes, withcraft and occult practices can in fact succeed in putting a "hex" on others, leading to demonic infestation.

Also, Fr. Amorth teaches that in rare cases, even without any such withcraft by a third party, God can permit Satan to directly afflict a holy person, even a saint, when He knows that this terrible trial will ultimately result in a great growth in sanctity precisely by means of the persevering and patient acceptance of and resistance to evil - rather like Job's trials at the hands of Satan in the Old Testament. Hence there is nothing at all unorthodox in the movie's punchline - Our Lady allowing Emily a choice: to die quickly and go to heaven, or to remain heroically and suffer much more from the devil before dying, motivated by a desire to save souls by this witness: ("How can they deny that God exists if I show them the Devil?!").

A lot of Catholics don't really understand that demonic possession consists essentially in the evil spirit's temporarily taking charge of the person's BODY - not their SOUL. (That came through very clearly with Fr. Moore's words in the movie.) Many people think if you're possessed you must be in mortal sin - "in league with the devil"!. Not so! I remember being struck at Fr.Amorth's exorcisms by the fact that with some of his "patients," he would actually give them Holy Communion from a pyx he carried with him, while they were still calm and behaving normally, before beginning the exorcism, in cases where he knew their background and was aware they were devout Catholics struggling against this invasion of the Enemy.

Best wishes and blessings. Feel fee to forward this e-mail to anyone you think might be interested.

Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.

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Question 2Foucault Pendulum 2

Robert, thanks so much for your thoughts and you help – both in my pursuing truth and my attempting to explain this to my homeschooled highschooler and give him a fair, balanced view!

I have thought a great deal about what you have said below.

In my small, novice’s view, the Foucault pendulum requires a geocentrist to posit a substance – call it ether – which is invisible, unmeasurable and is otherwise imperceptible, which goes through walls, etc. In the case of the shift of the outside atmosphere, causing the prevailing westerly winds, I see it as easy to explain that this is caused either by the earth rotating from west to east or the heavens rotating from east to west. (This is the relativity, as you point out below.) This seems easily understandable because it occurs outside and the atmosphere is, as it were, the boundary between the heavens and the earth and it makes sense that it would be influenced by both.

However, a Foucault pendulum can be inside a building. Does a geocentrist, then, explain that something (call it ether) is rotating around the earth and imperceptibly goes through the walls and pushes the pendulum in a twisting motion? Help! Please help!

I don’t want to overtax your charity, but please give me your thoughts on this!

In St. Albert the Great!

John

R. Sungenis: No, we don't need an aether. General Relativity does not use aether, and yet General Relativity is the science which accepts geocentrism as a viable alternative to heliocentrism. When Barbour and Bertotti worked out Einstein's equations assuming the universe to be a massive shell rotating around a fixed point (thus substantiating geocentrism both by mathematics and geometry), they did not assume the presence of an aether. The same centrifugal, Coriolis and Euhler forces would be present and reciprocal in either system, with or without aether.

On the other hand, aether does help explain a lot of phenomenon on a physical level, not mearly a mathematical level. As you may know, neither Newton nor Einstein had an explanation for gravity on a physical level, only a mathematical level. Even today, there is no accepted physical theory of gravity. Aether helps explain gravity, because it gives it a physical basis. Even Einstein, after being prodded by Lorentz, sought the help of aether in his 1920 speech, stating that he couldn't have his theory without at least some recourse to aether, but then again, he made the aether into a mathematical constituent instead of a physical reality.

In the geocentric system, aether would certainly help in carrying the forces from the universe to the Earth, and if it did carry those forces, it would, indeed, need to be a supergranular substance, or what science understands as the "ideal fluid," that is, something substantive but which causes no friction. (We do know of things today in modern science which act like superfluids. For example, supercooled helium at a few degrees about absolute zero, is a superfluid that acts without friction). Moreover, in its supergranular state, it would be much smaller in its irreducible components than the atom or the electron. Modern science already knows that such a dimension of the universe exists. They call it "Planck dimensions," which are sizes that are about 15 or so magnitudes smaller than the electron. The only problem with modern science is that it doesn't know what to do with them. They just assume that these Planck particles pop in and out of existence in Planck time (10-44 seconds) and have no real effect on our universe. Nevertheless, they have admitted they must exist.

All in all, it is thus possible to have such a supergranular aether as the physical substance that carries the forces we experience today, and, as you say, able to "go through walls."

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Question 1Is the Bible "inerrant" and "infallible"?

Robert,

A friend of mine teaches at a local Catholic High School. He gave a quiz which included the question below. A student, whose answer was marked wrong appealed to our ordinary, Archbishop Fiorenza, and got the below response. As you can see below this was then seconded by Bishop Skylstad.

Do you have any comments on this?

Winston

-----------------

From teacher:

A student has been disputing a true/false question in which I state "Both the Scripture and the Magisterium are infallible." Here is his quote from our local ordinary.

"The bible is indeed inerrant, because it is the words of God, but because it was written through man, and interpreted by man, it can not be considered infallible, because of man's tendency to make mistakes."

- Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Student to teacher: “I believe that it can't get any clearer than this as Archbishop Fiorenza is part of the Magisterium, which is the church's teaching authority.”

Student’s email to Bishop Skylstad:

The reason I am contacting you is because of a disagreement between my theology teacher and I. The disagreement is over whether the Bible is Infallible or Inerrant. I have recently contacted the Archbishop of my local diocese, Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, and he said that the Bible "Is inerrant not infallible, because since the Bible is divinely inspired, it is inerrant (free from error), but not infallible (can not cause errors) because of such passages such as the sun dancing in the sky, because that can either be interpreted literally, or Symbolically, both of which are mutually exclusive." When informed about the Bishop's decision, my Theology teacher said that I need to contact a higher authority. That's why I am contacting you. Please respond with your best judgment, and God Bless.

Bishop Skylstad’s response:

“I would ask you to respect Archbishop Fiorenza's wisdom.
Blessings.”

Bishop Skylstad

R. Sungenis: The issue depends on how one defines both "inerrant" and "infallible." In one sense Bishop Fiorenza is correct, but in another sense he is quite incorrect. Let me explain.

The word "inerrant" is the word we normally apply to an non-personal entity that we know contains no error but is static in its contents. The Bible is "static" in that its contents will not change. It is also a non-personal entity in that it contains words written in ink on paper. It has no personality, in itself, it merely contains the report of those who have personalities (e.g., God, angels and men). Once written, it is there forever, and nothing will be added to it or taken away from it. It, in essence, becomes the unmodified and unchanging image of its author.

The word "infallible" is the word we normally apply to a thinking personality who, on certain occasions or indefinitely, makes decisions concerning issues in the world that require an error-free judgment to be made. As we know, all kinds of issues arise in the world that did not exist previously or were not decided upon previously (e.g., cloning, genetic engineering, capitalism, Iraq, Mary's Assumption, etc). If the person making the judgment is deemed "infallible," then we can expect an error-free decision to come from his thinking process.

To recap, "inerrant" is applied to the Bible because the Bible doesn't think; "infallible" is applied to a thinking personality who issues forth error-free judgments. The difference between the two concerns the cognitive or the cogitating process that one possesses but the other does not possess. The Bible doesn't think. It only contains information. If that information is error-free, we say the Bible is "inerrant," not "infallible." The word "infallible" can only be applied to a thinking personality that issues forth error-free decisions.

Now, the objection I have against Bishop Fiorenza's analysis is the example he used to show the difference between "inerrant" and "infallible." He referred to the instance where the Bible says the "sun was dancing in the sky." I assume he is referring to Joshua 10:10-12 when Joshua stopped the sun from moving.

Although Bishop Fiorenza is correct in saying that, as a general practice of biblical exegesis, this passage could either be interpreted literally or symbollically (depending, of course, on information from all sources, e.g., science, geometry, revelation, patristics, etc), the interpretation is done by human beings, not by the Bible, so it is incorrect for him to say or imply that the reference to the "sun dancing" is a case where the Bible is not infallible. The Bible merely contains the information that the sun danced. That information is "inerrant," that is, we know that, indeed, the sun danced, in some way, shape or form.

But it is the human interpreter of the Bible who will determine whether that "dancing" occurred literally, symbolically, or a combination of the two. If the human interpreter is "infallible," then his decision as to whether the sun's dance was literal, symbolic or a combination will be error-free, and thus we will know "infallibly" what the "inerrant" Scripture is saying to us.

Thus far, no one in the Church has made an "infallible" interpretation of the "inerrant" words of Joshua 10:10-12. Although we have a lot of information from the Church Fathers that they, in consensus, interpreted the passage literally, the only entities in the Catholic Church that could officially proclaim that it is to be interpreted literally and not symbolically are a Council confirmed infallibly by the reigning pope, or the pope himself in an ex cathedra statement.

I would also take exception to Bishop Fiorenz's statement that "The bible is indeed inerrant, because it is the words of God, but because it was written through man, and interpreted by man, it can not be considered infallible, because of man's tendency to make mistakes."

This is an unnecessary confusion between the men who wrote the Bible and men who now interpret the Bible, which are entirely two different things, but Bishop Fiorenza has erroneously grouped them together. (Incidentally, this is a case in which a bishop shows his own fallibility. In other words, his "thinking" on this subject if flawed because he is not "infallible").

The Catholic Church has dogmatically declared that God is the principal author of Scripture; and that, even though God used men to write the words of Scripture, these men were divinely inspired to write Scripture without error. I have included these Church declarations below. The Church at no time in her official and dogmatic statements has ever stated that the human authors of Scripture fell into error when they wrote its contents. The Church says they were protected from error.

If Bishop Fiorenza believes otherwise, then in light of the official statements below, the burden of proof is upon him to show us where the Church has taught his version of the issue. If he cannot do so, then one can simply dismiss his statement as a fallible opinion which is not at all binding on the conscience of the Catholic.

Here are just some of the official and binding statements on the inerrancy of Scripture from the Catholic Church. Note that there is no distinction between God's divine authorship and man's recording of those words:

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

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

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

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

Pope Pius XII, in Divino Afflante Spiritu, repeats Leo XIII decree: “It is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Sacred Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred.”

Humani Generis, Pius XII condemns the notion: “...immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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