September 2004 - QA

Q&A's September 2004

Question 1 - How Do We Understand the Pope's Supreme Jurisdiction?

Question 2 - Antichrist and Peleg's Days

Question 3 - Is the War in Iraq Just?

Question 4 - Did Mary Die before her Assumption?

Question 5 - What is the Gospel of the Holy Twelve?

Question 6 - How Should We Understand Romans 7 and the Struggle Against Sin?

Question 7 - Dr. Hovind's Creation Seminar Series

Question 8 - Question on NFP (Natural Family Planning)

Question 9 - Pre-publication manuscript of "Galileo Was Wrong"

Question 10 - The CASB and Divorce and Remarriage

Question 11 - Archdiocese of NY seminary

Question 12 - Would Catholics Agree with the Five Points of Arminianism?

Question 13 - Is a 4-point Calvinist a Contradiction?

Question 14 - Is Lev. 17 a Prophecy of the Eucharist?

Question 15 - What is the Best Argument for God's Existence?

Question 16 - Yoga and Hinduism

Question 17 - How Fast Does the Universe Rotate?

Question 18 - Are There Contradictions Between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2?

Question 19 - Geocentricism and precession?

Question 20 - How Do We Understand the Pope's Supreme Jurisdiction? Part 2

Question 21 - Did Jesus carry our sicknesses on the cross, Part 2?

Question 22 - James Akin and the Douay Rheims

Question 23 - Is it ok to pray at a Mosque or visit a hindu temple?

Question 24 - Does God really send us sickness today?

Question 25 - Why Post the Issue about Deal Hudson?

Question 26 - How Do We Understand Rom. 3:25?

Question 27 - How Would Order the Sequence of Events for the End of Time?

Question 28 - Does Isaiah 2 Promote Zionism?

Question 29 - Is There Anything Wrong with Hindus and Buddhists Praying at Lourdes?

Question 30 - How Do We Understand Pope Leo's Comments about Interpretation and Science?

Question 31 - Who Are you Going to Vote For?

Question 32 - Trent, Vatican 2 and the Vulgar Tongue

Question 33 - Aquinas on Actual Faith and Baptism

Question 34 - What about Garabandal?

Question 35 - Are the Crusades Against Isaiah 2:4?

Question 36 - The Remnant article on Iraq

Question 37 - Reconciling Luke-Acts

Question 38 - Why Isn't There a Continual Breeze if the Earth is Rotating? Pt2

Question 39 - Why Doesn't the DR or Vulgate translate the Urim and Thummim Correctly?

Question 40 - Did the Lutherans Take Catholic Communion?

Question 41 - Does the KJV quote the Deuterocanonical books?

Question 42 - Did God Require Christ to Suffer?

Question 43 - "Back the Attack" CAI Ad

Question 44 - "Back the Attack" CAI Ad 2

Question 45 - "Back the Attack" CAI Ad 3

Question 46 - Eating Jesus

Question 47 - A Visit to the Planetarium

Question 48 - Ferrara's Deal Hudson Piece

Question 49 - Catholic Scripture Commentaries and Luke 14:28-33

Question 50 - Ronald Knox's translation of the Scripture

Question 51 - Regarding Dr. Hovind

Question 52 - (Anglican)Anglo-Catholic vs Roman Catholicism

Question 53 - Why Couldn't Catholics Drink from the Chalice? Why do Priests Face the People?

Question 54 - Cremation

Question 55 - Is Gaudium et Spes in Error? Is Trent Infallible Regarding the Mass?

Question 56 - Is God Impassible? Does the Church Say the Evangelists wrote the Gospels?

Question 57 - Can One Get a Blessing through Television?

Question 58 - Lucifer in Heaven

Question 59 - The Pope's Heretical Statement

Question 60 - Geocentrism

Question 61 - Geocentrism 2

Question 62 - Creation vs Evolution

Question 63 - "What Would Happen if Earth Didn't Rotate"?

Question 64 - Did Vatican II make the Eucharist Symbolic?

Question 65 - Question on the Eucharist in Luke 22:19

Question 66 - Why did Mary come to Fatima, of all places?

Question 67 - Cremation Concerns

Question 68 - Who Was the Beloved Disciple?

Question 69 - How do we Explain Romans 3:23 to Protestants?

Question 70 - Would a Person Weigh More on one Side of the Earth?

Question 71 - Can We Receive Sacraments from the SSPX, Part II?

Question 72 - Can We Make Vows or Promises?

Question 73 - Are Paradise and Heaven the Same Thing?

Question 74 - Can We Receive Sacraments from the SSPX, Part III?

Question 75 - How Shall We Bring up Our Children?

Question 76 - Can We Receive Sacraments from the SSPX, Part IV?

Question 77 - Does Psalm 68:9 [69:8] Upset Mary's Virginity?

Question 78 - Why Do Catholic Apologists Argue with One Another?

Question 79 - Fr. Ronald Knox Commentaries Any Good?

Question 80 - Why Did You Turn Traditional?

Question 81 - How Do We Defend Peter as the Rock of Matthew 16:18?

Question 82 - Your SSPX Discussions

Question 83 - How Can "All" Replacing "Many" be Defended in the Consecration?

Question 84 - What is the Alexandrian Text?

Question 85 - Are Hope and Love on the "Faith Side" of Justification?

Question 86 - Why Did the Council of Nicea Mandate Standing on Sunday?

Question 87 - Are Hope and Love on the "Faith Side" of Justification, Part II?

Question 88 - Why Did You Turn Traditional, Part II?

Question 89 - Are Hope and Love on the "Faith Side" of Justification, Part III?

Question 90 - Theological/Political Question

Question 91 - Are Hope and Love on the "Faith Side" of Justification, Part IV?

Question 92 - The papal oath and the Tridentine Mass

Question 1- How Do We Understand the Pope's Supreme Jurisdiction?

"According to Vatican I, no decision of a pope in
regards to a disciplinary matter can be contravened,
even by a council, let alone a single archbishop,
regardless whether one agrees or disagrees with that
papal decision. Vatican I further states that there is
no recourse once the pope makes his decision. It is
about as final as it can be."

So you wrote in a dialog with some SSPX supporter.

I quibble over the word "contravened".

The Pope possesses supreme, ordinary, episcopal
jurisdiction over the whole church, over each and all
of the particular churches (dioceses), over each bishop
and all the bishop, etc., etc.

But he is not infallible in the exercise of this
jurisdiction, but "only" (Catechism of St. Pius X, who
should know) when in matters of faith and morals, etc.,
etc., etc. he fulfills *all* the conditions of Vatican I.

So it could happen that a pope might order me to do
something wrong in which case I would have to obey
divine law rather than human law.

I am a diocesan priest and not a member of the SSPX. I
do not agree with their establishment of altars against
the altars of the Catholic Church.

But our argument must be accurate.

I hope and pray for the blessing of the Sacred Heart on
your apostolate.

Fr. Paul J. McDonald,
Parish Priest of Niagara-on-the-Lake

R. Sungenis: The pope's decision in juridical matters does not have to be infallible in order to require our obedience. This is precisely why Vatican I made the specific stipulation of the pope's supreme authority in juridical matters, since they knew infallibility only applied to faith and morals. When the pope makes it clear that he is issuing a supreme juridical decision, we must obey. Those occasions are rare, however. The issue with archbishop Lefebvre was one such occasion. I and many other Catholics realize that an unfortunate failing of this pontificate is that it has more or less refused to use its juridical powers . This explains in large part why heretics and homosexuals roam the earth today as never before. Even the Pope himself has publicly suggested he knows this has been one of his failings. I wish he would be as prudential about other issues that scream for his supreme jurisdiction as he was with Lefebvre. We all ought to pray for him as his life on earth winds down and also pray that our next Pope is strong in these areas.

God be with you.

Robert Sungenis


Question 2- Antichrist and Peleg's Days

Hi Robert,
I'd like to ask two quick questions.

First, do the Fathers have anything to say about the length of time intervening between the demise of antichrist and the return of Christ for judgment. Shall a long or brief time intervene?

Secondly, in Genesis 11:16-19 we hear about the birth of Peleg, about whom it says, "in his days the earth was divided." What could this possibly mean do you think? How was the earth divided?

Thanks and God Bless, (and please hurry with Galileo Was Wrong)
Gerald DeNoble

R. Sungenis:From all I see in Scripture, the return of Christ will occur immediately after Satan's loosening is complete. As for the reference to Peleg, this refers to the splitting of the continents, which occurred around 3000 BC. Interestingly enough, the Mayans begin their calendar at this date, and speak of a worldwide cataclysm that initiated their calendar (but not a flood). As for Galileo Was Wrong, I'm peddling as fast as I can.... :)


Question 3- Is the War in Iraq Just?

Mr Sungenis,

I just had a look at the web site and found that it supports the war in Iraq. I was brought up with a post concilliar mind set, so the thoughts of a war always seem wrong to me. But this web site, which is traditional Catholic, gives the impression that traditional Catholics should naturally be in favor of the war in Iraq - as a just war. Is this the standard position of traditional Catholics? Thank you,


R. Sungenis: Not at all, Damien. I do not consider this war to be just at all. I believe it is the product of the Evangelical/Jewish alliance that is trying to secure the Middle East for Zionism, and to control the world's oil supply. In the process, they are emptying Iraq and the Middle East of Catholics. I'll refer you to Christopher Ferrara for even more detail and references.


Question 4- Did Mary Die before her Assumption?

Hey Robert,
I was looking through the Catholic Encyclopedia and New Advent and read that Mary died and was probably placed in a tomb before her bodily assumption into heaven. Before this I thought her assumption was like Elijah and others. What is the apostolic tradition and what does the Church teach on the question if she died before she was assumed?
God Bless,

PS Could you please tell me the name of the Thomist book that you thought was better than Predestination by Lagrange.

R. Sungenis: We have no solid information on whether Mary died prior to her Assumption. This is precisely why Pius XII did not refer to a death of Mary when he dogmatized her Assumption in 1950. Liberals would be more inclined to say she did die, and that may be the slant of the new Catholic Encyclopedia.

As for the book on Predestination, it is "Luther: Right or Wrong? An Ecumenical-theological study of Luther's Major Work, The Bondage of the Will (New York: Newman Press, 1968, c1969). Also "Erasmus versus Luther -- Compounding the Reformation Tragedy" (Catholic Scholars Dialogue with Luther, ed., Jared Wicks (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1970).


Question 5- What is the Gospel of the Holy Twelve?

Mr. Sungenis,
Can you tell me anything at all about the so called "Gospel of the Holy
Twelve" aka "Gospel of Perfect Light" or "Nazarene Gospel"? I was very
troubled when I read it. The people who display it claim that it is an
Aramaic original of the first Gospel, one given by the Essenes to Buddhist
monks to protect while, according to these sources, the Gospel was made into
four and "perverted" by the Church Fathers. The gospel seems to contain
material from all four, including the infancy narrative in Luke, but it has
many troubling differences such as a command to keep the Sabbath on the
seventh day, a command to abstain from all meats, and a claim that Jesus was
the biological son of both Mary and Joseph.

Joshua Vargas

R. Sungenis: Joshua, it is a pseudepigraphal work, not worth the paper it is written on. Don't pay any attention to it.


Question 6- How Should We Understand Romans 7 and the Struggle Against Sin?

Hi Doc

It has been a while … but I am back with another question. What is the view of the Catholic Church (or if varied … yourself) on the last part of Romans 7? When Paul is discussing his internal struggle (what he does he does not want to do and what he wants to do, he doesn’t do). Was he a Christian at the time of the struggle? Or he is referring to Christians? Or does the struggle only exist as from a non-christian state of mind?

I’ve always seen it as the Christian struggling.

Any help would be appreciated. Or commentaries. If I remember you even had a Romans study on line. Hope all is going well.


R. Sungenis: Greg, instead of giving you an answer here, I'm going to direct you to our Internet Bible Study on this passage of Scripture. Normally we charge for this service, but I will allow you to access one of our studies for this occasion. You can find it at:

Lesson 10

Let me know if it helps you.


Question 7- Dr. Hovind's Creation Seminar Series

Mr. Sungenis,

Laudetur Iesus Christus! Do you recommend Dr. Kent Hovind's Creation Seminar Series?

Yours respectfully in Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,


R. Sungenis:John, yes, I think it can be very beneficial. However, just look out for the anti-Catholic strains from any of these Protestant creationists.


Question 8- Question on NFP (Natural Family Planning)

Hello Mr. Sungenis,

Where does the Church specifically teach that Natural Family Planning (NFP) is permissible? According to arguments used by Frs. Rumble and Carty in Radio Replies NFP should not be practiced due the fact that it directly avoids the primary purpose of sexual relations that being procreation and bonding. Yes, NFP leaves procreation open but the mentality and direct purpose of it is to avoid it thus giving the couple a contraceptive mentality. The late Father Malachi Martin basically said the same thing and he said that NFP was evil and wrong in his opinion and that it was only the liberal theologians in the Church that have made it as an accepted practice. I can see how you could interpret Vatican II documents as saying such, however, as you say, the interpretation should follow the long tradition of the Church morally and dogmatically. I have not seen the pope ever officially saying that this method is OK. Lastly, my wife and I both believe it to be wrong because it just seems to go against the natural law of God. I must say that our informed Catholic conscience tells us this. Are we wrong?

Thank you and God Bless!

R. Sungenis: Steve, NFP, if it is used, should only be used in "grave" or "serious" circumstances, according to Humanae Vitae (e.g., when the health of the mother is involved, etc). Unfortunately, NFP has been promoted as a method to control and prohibit pregnancy, at the whim of the parents, and it is promoted as such today by the liberals and modernists of the Church. This is an abomination in the sight of God.


Question 9- Pre-publication manuscript of "Galileo Was Wrong"

Robert, HOW EXCITING! Just reading the Table of Contents is enough to entice me to get a copy. Count me in for purchase of an early copy, HOT off the press. I am also looking forward to your "Not by Science Alone" (or does the current work on Galileo replace that endeavor?), and your future Apologetics Bible Commentary on Romans/Galatians. I have your Matthew volume as well as the other "Not by.." titles, including Faith, Scripture and Bread.

Mark Stevens

R. Sungenis: Mark, yes, Galileo Was Wrong will replace Not By Science Alone, since I am only going to concentrate on the geocentric issue. Thanks for the encouragement!


Question 10- The CASB and Divorce and Remarriage

Hello Robert! How have you been. I recently was in a discussion with a customer of the company I work for and the discussion came to divorce and remarriage. He, as a Protestant, said that with the exception clause in Matthew, that our Lord allows divorce and remarriage and I told him that traditional Catholic belief is that, NO, that is not what our Lord was teaching and that if a man and woman are validly married, that divorce is allowed but not remarriage and that only death of the other spouse, can the other party remarry. I went back to re-read your CASB and the commentary on Mt. 19:9. Wow! Your explanation was awesome on what our Lord meant by the exception clause the non-Catholics like to use for allowing remarriage. Thank you, Robert.

R. Sungenis: Thank you, Anthony. Let's hope many people will be moved by it as you were. I put a lot of work into that section since there was so much confusion circulating about it. That section is a product of over 30 years of work on that particular topic.


Question 11- Archdiocese of NY seminary

Dear Bob,

I just read your posted question concerning attendance at today’s seminaries. Are you familiar with the NY Archdiocese and do you think the seminary is a good or bad place to attend?


Robert D

R. Sungenis: Robert, sorry, I don't have any information on it. I wish I could be more helpful.


Question 12- Would Catholics Agree with the Five Points of Arminianism?

I’ve read you excellent material showing the differences between Catholic beliefs and TULIP. However, could you please send me a quick summary of where Catholics differ from the 5 Remonstrations of Arminians? You alluded to this when you said we hold to a combination of predestination with free will.

Second, if a 4 point Calvanist denied limited atonement, would he also have to say that Christ didn’t suffer the eternal hell punishment for our sins? If he accepts that Jesus suffered the eternal hell punishment for all of our sins, and he denies limited atonement, doesn’t he find himself a de facto universal Salvationist?

Yours in Christ,

James DePrisco

R. Sungenis: James, for those who are not familiar with the 5 remonstrant articles, I will list them here and comment:

Article 1

That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.

R. Sungenis: We would agree partly, but disagree with the attempt to exclude God's pre-ordained choice of the elect out of the matter entirely.

Article 2

That agreeably thereunto, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And in the First Epistle of John 2:2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

R. Sungenis: No disagreement here.

Article 3

That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of an by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving Faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.”

R. Sungenis: We would disagree to the extent that the Council of Trent said man had "natural powers," that is, power to will apart from God's movement in his soul to do good. The Church also speaks of "Actual Grace" which gives man the power to do good acts, but this is separate from his natural powers. The acts done through the natural powers, however, are not salvific, although they may put one in the "way of grace," as Trent taught in Chapters 4-5.

Article 4

That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and cooperative grace, can nei­ther think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. but respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible; inas­much as it is written con­cerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost. Acts 7, and else­where in many places.

R. Sungenis: See above comments. We would agree to the extent that, in respect of salvation, man can do nothing that would merit him salvation (in the sense of being owed salvation for work done).

Article 5

That those who are in­corporated into Christ by true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory; it being well un­derstood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand, and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the Word of Christ, John 10:28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginning of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was deliv­ered them, of losing a good conscience, of be­coming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scripture, be­fore we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our mind.

R. Sungenis: They are admitting they do not have an answer for preserverance, which shows somewhat of a flaw in their whole approach. The Catholic Church says that perserverance is dependent both on God's predestination and man's free will.


Question 13- Is a 4-point Calvinist a Contradiction?

Second, if a 4 point Calvanist denied limited atonement, would he also have to say that Christ didn’t suffer the eternal hell punishment for our sins? If he accepts that Jesus suffered the eternal hell punishment for all of our sins, and he denies limited atonement, doesn’t he find himself a de facto universal Salvationist?

R. Sungenis: Yes, a 4-point Calvinist is a contradiction in terms, since Calvin taught that the atonement is limited because Christ only suffered the legal punishment for a select few. If the punishment is legally administered in accord with the exact amount required for the victims, then it must necessarily be limited.


Question 14- Is Lev. 17 a Prophecy of the Eucharist?

Hello again,

Is it possible that Lev. 17 is a prophecy for the Eucharist? Since the blood contains the life, therefore if we consume the Blood of Jesus, is His life not now within us? What do you think?

Viva Christo Rey!

James DePrisco

R. Sungenis: It is not a "prophecy" but an Antitype, which has its fulfillment in the Type -- the Eucharist.


Question 15- What is the Best Argument for God's Existence?

Hello, God bless you and thank you in advance for answering.

What would you say is the most potent proof for the existence of God, and could you elaborate on that proof? Thanks again, and God bless again!

In Christ,

R. Sungenis: The most potent proof is the cosmos and its design, according to Romans 1:18-20. This is especially true in respect of the Earth being the center of the universe. Astronomers admit that if Earth is the center, then they are doomed as atheists.


Question 16- Yoga and Hinduism

Robert, just wanted to get your perspective on something... my future
mother-in-law is interested in taking yoga classes, I have strongly advised
against it because it is an ancient Hindu ritual. What are your thoughts?

R. Sungenis: Yoga is Eastern mysticism in disguise. Stay away from it.


Question 17- How Fast Does the Universe Rotate?

Dear Sir,
Regarding the HC vs. the GS system could/would you be able to provide me with the angular velocity (measured from the earth's center) of the rotation of the earth, and of the moon's angular velocity measured from the center of the earth. If you could I would like this information in degrees, or minutes, or seconds per hour, the same measure for each the earth and moon please. I have asked several people and get no response. I would have thought this information would have been well known among those who deal with this question. Thank you, Ronald Knarr

R. Sungenis: Ronald, from the geocentric perspective, the universe rotates with an angular velocity of 3.6 x 10 ^-5 radians per second around the Earth


Question 18- Are There Contradictions Between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2?

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I have been having a debate concerning the Genesis creation accounts. The person I have been debating states that the creation story of Genesis 1 contradicts Gen. 2. The person I am debating makes the statement:

Did God create man first or last? According to Gen 1:1-27 man was created last. But, according to Gen 2:4-9 God create man right after the earth (which seems to be in existence already) but before the trees. And, somehow, in the second version God doesn't remember to create any animals.

How does one respond to this above statement?

Thank you,

Darian Fisher

R. Sungenis: Darian, there are no contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Allow me to give you part of the material from Not By Science Alone that I wrote in 2001:

The Alleged Conflict Between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2

Common objections to a literal reading Genesis 1 is that it would conflict with a literal reading of Genesis 2. Events in Genesis 2, if taken literally, happen quite fast compared to the events in Genesis 1.

(1) For example, between the creation of man in Genesis 2:7 and the creation of woman in Genesis 2:18-25, God plants a garden in 2:8 and causes trees to grow in 2:9 (including the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life). The objection claims that such a scenario would entail the rapid growth of the trees that would have to occur between the appearance of Adam and the appearance of Eve.

This objection holds little weight, first because it presumes to limit God's action to natural occurrences during an obviously miraculous creation week. Considering that Eve is said to be created miraculously from the side of Adam (as confirmed by Pope Leo XIII), it is quite apparent that miraculous ex nihilo activity is continuing to occur until the creation is complete on the seventh day.

(2) A second objection states that, according to Genesis 2:5, there were no plants prior to the creation of man, which conflicts with the account in Genesis 1:11-12 that the plants were made prior to man.

This objection can be answered by focusing on the particular words used in Genesis 2 that are not used in Genesis 1. Genesis 2:5 refers to the "shrub" (x;yfi) of the field, but this word does not appear in Genesis 1:11-12 or 1:29-30. Genesis 1:11-12 refers to the "herb" (bf,[e) and the "tree producing fruit" (yrIP. hf,[). Hence, the first distinction between Genesis 1:11-12 and Genesis 2:5 is that the former indicates only two kinds of vegetation, whereas Genesis 2:5 adds a third kind. Apparently, the two plants of Genesis 1:11-12 served as food for Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:29-30.

There is a second distinction. Genesis 2:5 specifies that "not every herb of the field had yet sprung up," which would mean there were some that had sprung up on the third day of creation, and some which sprung up on the after the sixth day of creation.

There is a third distinction. Genesis 2:5 says the "shrubs" and "herbs" had not yet produced tsemach (xm'c.yI), contrasting with dashah (av,D,) of Genesis 1:11-12. The former refers to a budding for the next generation, while the latter refers to an original sprouting of the first generation of fruits. Hence, Adam and Eve's food, on the first day of their creation, was the original fruit of the two plants in Genesis 1:11-12, while the "shrubs" and the budding plants would have to wait until the appropriate time.

(3) A third objection claims that, after the creation of the trees in Genesis 2:8-9, God then makes a river to flow out of Eden in Genesis 2:10, from which it is divided into four other rivers. This would involve even more time and more miraculous activity prior to the creation of the woman.

But this objection is easily answered, since Genesis 2:10 does not specifically say that God made the rivers at that time. It is more likely that the rivers may have been a product of the waters separated on day three of Genesis 1:9-13.

(4) A fourth objection submits that Genesis 2:18-20 indicates that the animals were created after man, whereas Genesis 1:24-26 indicates that the animals were created before man.
This objection can be answered in one of two ways. The Hebrew word yatsar (rc,YIw:) used in Genesis 2:19 ("and out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast...and every bird...and brought them to the man to see what he would call them") is a Hebrew imperfect tense, which, since Hebrew only has two tenses, past and future, can be understood as a pluperfect, which would then be understood as: "and out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast..." This explanation makes the most sense, since the quest given in Genesis 2:18 is to find a "suitable helper" for Adam. Since God knew the animals would not to be a suitable helper (i.e., a being with whom Adam could not communicate and procreate), then it would be rather aimless for Him to create the animals after He created Adam merely to see if a suitable helper could be found among them. It makes much more sense that, having previously created the animals, it was already known that none of them served as a suitable helper, and thus Eve's creation had already been anticipated. In this way, Genesis 2:18-20 serves as an alternate perspective on the chronology of Genesis 1:24-26 so as to set up the theological underpinnings of Eve's creation, a theology which will serve as the basis for Adam's headship over Eve (cf., 1 Timothy 2:13; 1 Corinthians 11:5; Ephesians 5:22).

In the above scenario, the days of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 compare as follows:

Day One 1:1-5 2:4-7
Day Two 1:6-8 2:8
Day Three 1:9-13 2:9-14
Day Four 1:14-19 2:15
Day Five 1:20-23 2:16-17
Day Six 1:24-31 2:18-24

Robert A. Sungenis, M.A.
July 17, 2001

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; it is the glory of kings to search it out."
Proverbs 25:2


Question 19- Geocentricism and precession?

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I was going over your web site and seeing if there was any response you have made concerning the notion of precession. Someone I know contends that this precession, or the earth wobbling on it's axis, occurs due to the spinning of the earth, and that a stationary earth would not evidence this. He also makes the point that if the earth is stationary then there is nothing to cause the entire universe to wobble -- there's no force to account for it. Thus, we arrive at a conundrum. Either the universe wobbles for no apparent reason, or the earth rotates and precession is natural because the gravitational forces of the sun, moon, planets and other bodies act upon it.

Have you treated this subject as of yet or if not, what is the response to this contention?

Thank you in advance,

Darian Fisher

R. Sungenis: Yes, we have dealt with it. The simple fact is that the matter distribution in space is anisotropic. If there is only a slight imbalance of that mass, it will result in a precession as the universe rotates. The center of mass only has to shift very slightly to create a precession, so slight that it could be contained within a few hundred miles between the ends of the earth's diameter, and thus allow the earth to remain in the center of the universe and remain its center of mass.


Question 20- How Do We Understand the Pope's Supreme Jurisdiction?
Part 2?

Dear R. Sungenis:

The Church has never said that the obedience due to the
Pope (or to any mortal human person: parent, general,
president, etc.) is "absolute".

So, although the authority of the Pope is supreme in
the Church on earth, it is not absolute.

That is, a command to do something wrong, something
contrary to divine law, even a command from the Pope,
must not be carried out.

And precisely because the Pope is not infallible in
merely disciplinary matters, it is not impossible that
he might command something wrong.

Could it ever happen that someone might have to justly
say "no" to the Pope?

A Catholic is permitted to to think that it is not


R. Sungenis: Of course. We do not have to obey the pope if he tells us to do something wrong, but unless it is something obviously wrong (for example, if he told us to murder someone), then the burden of proof is on us to prove the pope wrong. I for one do not agree with the Pope about Assisi I and II. But in the case of disciplinary decisions, as Vatican I stipulates, we have a different animal. This is out of the realm of faith and morals and is dealing strictly with how the pope is governing the church. The pope has the right to govern the church without his power being usurped by his underlings. If that is not the case, then he has no real authority. If we only obey when we think it convenient, we have no papal authority. Final disciplinary decisions are his sole prerogative. Vatican I and Canon Law make that very clear. If we think someone has been unjustly disciplined by the pope (e.g., Lefebvre) we can appeal to the pope and ask for a reprieve, but if he does not change his mind, we must accept what he has decreed. If he has made a mistake, then God will be his judge, as the papal oath states. We, however, are not the judge of the pope in such matters. If we think we are, then God will judge us. There are plenty of examples in Scripture to warn us of that.


Question 21- Did Jesus carry our sicknesses on the cross, Part 2?

Thanks for answering this Robert, but more specifically did Jesus bear our sicknesses on the cross? Matt 8:17 (NIV) says, "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases".

R. Sungenis: Yes, but He does so at His discretion, not ours. On the larger scale, if Jesus hadn't taken our infirmities on the cross, then we would all be dying of the slightest malady. As it stands now, God's grace, merited from the cross, allows us to heal from our diseases, as God sees fit.


Question 22- James Akin and the Douay Rheims

Dear Robert,

I came across an article by James Akin on the Douay Rheims which I have cut and pasted from. He seems to imply that Douay bibles today have been changed so much today that they are unlike the original and they are not a pure translation of it, that hardly any sense of the original remains.

I would like to ask you three questions in light of this. What do make of what James Akin says? Is your study bible you are selling a Douay Challoner version or the original? Where can I buy a good pure original Douay Rheims version or if they are not available anymore were can I buy a Challoner version in England, UK were I live?



....Furthermore, the editions of the Douay now in circulation are the Douay-Challoner version (or even more properly, revisions of the Douay-Challoner version), which has been corrected in light of the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, meaning that it is not a pure translation of the Vulgate. Challoner's revisions were extensive — more than Douay-Rheims Onlyists commonly admit. They were not limited to updating spelling and punctuation. Regarding the extent of the revisions, Bernard Ward notes, "The changes introduced by him were so considerable that, according to Cardinal Newman, they 'almost amounted to a new translation.' So also, Cardinal "Wiseman wrote, 'To call it any longer the Douay or Rheimish Version is an abuse of terms. It has been altered and modified until scarcely any sense remains as it was originally published'" (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 ed.,s.v., "Douay Bible").

R. Sungenis: Timothy, I don't know where you can buy an original DR. If you could even find one, it would be a collector's item, and thus very expensive. As for Akin's comments, yes, he is correct about the changes in the DR. The original DR used old English that you and I would hardly recognize today. On the other hand, he makes it sound as if we now have two different Bibles, and that is surely not the case. One can use a current Douay-Rheims and follow along in the original Latin Vulgate almost word for word. For that matter, even the Latin Vulgate has changed, since there is quite a variety of manuscript transmissions. All told, we have five different versions of the Latin Vulgate. This is an inevitable process for a translation. So it is no surprise to see the DR go through revisions. Our CASB uses something close to the 1899 edition of the DR, but we have made many changes.


Question 23- Is it ok to pray at a Mosque or visit a hindu temple?

Dear Robert,

When I was at university my Catholic Chaplain priest said he wanted to provide a room outside the chapel for muslims to worship at the Catholic University, since they do believe in creator God like Catholics. Was he right to do this?

Also is ok to pray with muslims to creator God to bless us?

Also here in England, Catholics schools sometimes take their children to visit Hindu temples as part of Religious education. Is this wrong, as are they visiting a place of a false God? However is it ok to visit a mosque they worship creator God like we do?

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.


R. Sungenis: Tim, it's all an abomination. The Church today is being infiltrated by paganism and idolatry as never before. Stay as far away from it as you can.


Question 24- Does God really send us sickness today?

Hi Robert,

I was wondering if God gives us sickness today, how do we view this in terms of the character of God. Surely sickness in of itself is evil and a result of the fall. If God is intrinsically good why would he inflict sicknesses on us since it is of the fall and hence intrinsically evil, it seems out of character for God to give us sickness.

Why would Jesus commission his disciples to destroy the works of satan by rebuking demons and healing the sick, if he sent sickness?

It appears to be a contradiction to me.


R. Sungenis: Tim, sickness is a result of the curse of sin and death given to the whole human race in the Garden of Eden. That curse will only be removed at the end of time. In the interim, God will use those sicknesses to punish man for his continual sin. As God punishes mankind, sometimes innocent people are also inflicted (e.g., a hurricane in Florida, a flood in China, an AIDS epidemic, an earthquake here or there, etc). But those innocent people will take the infliction as their due suffering in this world, and they will be strengthened in their walk with God.


Question 25- Why Post the Issue about Deal Hudson?

Why is CAI posting the National Catholic Register's article about Deal Hudson's sexual sins of the past. Hasn't he received absolution for those sins?

R. Sungenis: The problem is that it is one thing to receive absolution for your sins (which we all grant him) but it is quite another to then put yourself out there as a Catholic model and spokesman as if nothing happened in the past. Most guys in Hudson's position resign from their posts and you never hear from them again. And rightly so. It is only those with the big egos who think that they need not be punished for their misdeeds; who think they would cause no scandal if people found out about their sordid past, and that no one even has the right to know about their past simply because they deem themselves as indispensable to "the cause." Absolution is one thing, but to show remorse for his past, Hudson should not have then made himself a part of the Catholic limelight. He is showing the same type of hubris as the bishops are in the pedophile scandal. Not only has he become part of the limelight, but recently in his magazine he was touting himself as the Catholic par excellance for people to model, and according to the NOR, he was bucking to become the US envoy to the Vatican. Moreover, Hudson himself has seen the gravity of the exposure he has now had to endure under the microscope of the National Catholic Register since he removed himself (or was politely asked to leave) from the Bush advisory board. Unfortunately for him, when sexual scandals which have had the lid put on them for so many years finally come to the surface, it is just as if Hudson had committed those crimes yesterday, as opposed to ten years ago. At least that's the way the public will see it, and Hudson should be sensitive to this and remove himself from public venue and wear sackcloth as his garment, not a suit and tie in Washington DC. His sin is compounded by the fact that he tried to hide this for so long. I know that Brian St. Paul, his senior editor, did not know about it, and I'm sure the rest of his staff didn't either. As a result, Hudson has put all their jobs at risk because of the bad name Crisis magazine will now have.


Question 26- How Do We Understand Rom. 3:25?


Romans 3 vs. 25 mentions that God passes over our “former” sins during justification. I have never read any Catholic apologists drawing attention to this key word “former”. Am I missing something? This seems like a big blow to the “P” in TULIP.

Yours in Christ,

James DePrisco

R. Sungenis: James, I deal with Romans 3:25 in my book Not By Faith Alone on pages 67, 104, 106, 113, 238, 353, 404. The verse is talking about the sins of all mankind that God had to forbear before Christ came to atone for them. In other words, God's "righteousness" would normally demand that man be damned for their sins immediately, but God could forbear them because He anticipated Christ's coming. Once Christ came, however, there was no more "forbearance" of sin. Each man was now responsible to repent for his sins.


Question 27- How Would Order the Sequence of Events for the End of Time?

Hi Robert,
In reply to some questions, you suggest that you feel the time of the end is near. Can I ask you what major events you feel must yet occur before the end? I understand from our Lady of Fatima that a period of peace is yet to be given before the end. So, from my understanding, a possible sequence might be as follows:

a) the continuing apostasy of our day even in the Church

b) a short but very terrible chastisement

c) the victory of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the victory of the Church)

d) the period of peace

e) the great apostasy of which St. Paul speaks (universal since the Faith is now universal)

f) the reign of antichrist

g) the death of antichrist as Christ returns for the Last Judgment

Would you agree with this sequence? If not, what changes would you make?
God Bless,
Gerald DeNoble ocds

R. Sungenis: If the words of Fatima can be applied, then either the scenario you have listed above is correct, or, the "terrible chastisement" is actually the apostasy within the Church followed by and including the reign of Antichrist, and the "victory of the Immaculate Heart of Mary" and the "time of peace" is the eternal state itself.


Question 28- Does Isaiah 2 Promote Zionism?

Mr. Sungenis,
1. In Isaiah chapter 2, we read about "the last days." Isaiah says that during "the last days" God will judge the Gentiles from Jerusalem and rebuke many people. As a result, many people will repent, causing peace on the earth (v.4):

IS 2:2 And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.

IS 2:3 And many people shall go, and say: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall come forth from Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

IS 2:4 And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war.

IS 2:5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
My question is, what period is Isaiah talking about? He cannot be talking about the second coming of Jesus, because when Jesus comes, he will not be giving anyone a second chance, such as the Gentiles get in this passage. Similarly, Isaiah cannot be talking about any time during or after Jesus' first coming, for, since Jesus, there has never been a period in history when there was lasting world peace (nations not being exercised to war "any more").
I can see how easily this passage could be used by Zionists, since it could very well be used to support the idea of a divinely inspired Jewish nation state ruling the world some time in the future. However, I am finding it difficult to reconcile Is 2 with Catholic dogma. Could you please show how to correctly interpret/understand "the last days" in Is 2? Thank you,


R. Sungenis: Damien, there is only one age that Scripture assigns to the phrase "last days" and that is to the New Testament period. (Jr 23:20; Ez 38:16; Hs 3:5; Ac 2:17; Hb 1:2; 1 Cor 10:6,11). The "last days" could thus refer to the "last" period of time at the end of Israel's Old Testament reign and transitioning into the New Testament period. Since this is the time clue that Isaiah 2:1 gives us, then we must use it.

Hence, the "nations will stream to it" refers to Pentecost when members from 15 different nations assembled to hear the Gospel proclaimed from Jerusalem. The "rendering of decisions for many peoples" already started to take place in the book of Acts as Peter, at the Council of Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15, issued the first major doctrinal decree for the whole world to follow. In fact, Acts 15:16-18 speaks of this as the "rebuilding of the tabernacle of David" prophesied in the Old Testament.

According to Apocalypse 12:5 and Psalm 2:9, Christ was to "rule all nations with a rod of iron," and he accomplishes that rule here on Earth through His vicars, the popes. This is what Jesus told to Peter in John 21:16 when he said "Shepherd my sheep." The word "shepherd" is the Greek poimanao, which is the same word used in Apoc 12:5 for "rule." In other words, Peter is to rule. This is precisely what happened in the Holy Roman Empire. The nations were subdued to a great extent by the Pax Romana stemming from the Holy Roman Empire. Never before in history has such a thing occurred, wherein the Church was the supreme ruler of the nations.

What curtailed this rule, however, was apostasy within the Church itself, which ended up later as the Protestant Reformation when control of the nations, to a large extent, was forfeited to the nations themselves.

Some get confused by the clause "they will never learn war any more," thinking that this means there will never again be war, but the original Hebrew is not so superlative. They will not be "learning" war but will be learning the way of peace, for that is what the Church teaches -- peace. The "learning" is the focus of the verse, not war. That is, as long as the vicars and their underlings keep faithful to God, the nations will be subdued.

When the vicars faulter, then the nations will have uprisings, which the Church saw many times in the Middle Ages and beyond. As such, the situation will never be perfect, which is why the New Jerusalem comes, and which is said to be for the "healing of the nations." (Cf., Apoc 21:24; 22:2).


Question 29- Is There Anything Wrong with Hindus and Buddhists Praying at Lourdes?

Do you see a problem with this?


R. Sungenis: Tom, let us show what the "this" is to which you are referring, and I will comment after it:

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
LOURDES, France (Reuters) - In an unexpected twist of globalization, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and other pilgrims regularly worship at famous Roman Catholic shrines to the Virgin Mary such as Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal.

They drink the holy water, light votive candles and pray fervently to the Madonna for help with life's hardships. Many venerate her like one of their own goddesses, a view that would be a heresy if a Catholic theologian tried to defend it.

Rather than being turned away, the newcomers are free to join the crowds from Ireland, Italy, Spain and other traditionally Catholic countries who flock to Europe's most popular shrines.

In Fatima, the warm welcome they have received has caused an uproar among traditionalist Catholics.

No one can say how many non-Catholics worship at shrines where the Virgin is said to have appeared, but they have become a familiar minority there over the past five to 10 years.

"There are lots of them," Bishop Jacques Perrier of Lourdes told Reuters during Pope John Paul II's visit to the southwestern French "miracle shrine" on August 14-15.

"Their numbers may be small as a percentage of the 6 million pilgrims here each year, but they're big in absolute terms."

The sight of some south Asian women in splendid saris mingling with the European pilgrims is the first hint that reverence for Mary has crossed religious borders.

Standing near the grotto where she was said to have appeared in 1858, two women wearing the Hindu red dot or "bindi" on their foreheads said they prayed daily to the Madonna.

"I come here for peace of mind and heart," said Buvaneswary Palani, a Hindu from southeastern India who now lives in southern France.

"Gods are the same everywhere," explained her mother Darmavady. "She is like our mother goddess Mariamman."

Catholics revere Mary and believe she can intervene with Jesus to help them, but they do not consider her divine.

Hindu or Buddhist pilgrims could be forgiven for thinking she is, though, when they see the faithful kneeling in silent prayer before her statue or admire the huge mosaic of her that looms over the altar at the Lourdes basilica.

The Virgin also resembles goddesses they venerated back home before moving to Europe.

Tamils in southeastern India and northern Sri Lanka worship a goddess Mariamman who protects villages and wards off disease.

Among the Buddhists of China, Vietnam and other Asian states, the "compassionate Savioress" Kwan Yin offers the maternal love that Catholics find in Mary.

Although Islam teaches there is no god but Allah, folk traditions in some Muslim societies have smuggled in a devotion for saints much like that seen in other religions.

The Koran contains a whole chapter on Mary, far more than the Gospels have on her. In it, Maryam (her Arabic name) is a virgin and Jesus a great prophet but neither is divine.

With its mass pilgrimages, devotion to a mother figure and belief in water with miracle healing powers, Lourdes combines elements familiar to followers of several other faiths.

"In a globalized age, it's normal that Lourdes attracts them," said Patrick Theillier, a physician who heads the Medical Bureau which examines every claim of miracle healing at Lourdes. The bureau has certified only 66 healings as genuine miracles.


Perrier saw no theological problem with pilgrims of other faiths worshiping at a shrine central to Roman Catholicism.

"There are no religious services at the grotto," the bishop explained. "They have great respect for Mary. They come to drink the water and touch the rocks. But they don't attend mass here. That would have no meaning for them."

But the line between hospitality to outsiders and blurring of religious borders is close, as Portugal's Fatima shrine to the Virgin has learned.

Traditionalist Catholics are up in arms against the shrine's directors for allegedly being so open to Hindu pilgrims that they let them perform religious rites there.

"They have sinned against God and given scandal to the faithful," thundered the U.S. monthly Catholic Family News. "They allowed Mary to be worshiped as God by pagan apostates."

Fatima's director, Father Luciano Guerro, issued a statement in late June denying that a Hindu pilgrim group led by its own priest had somehow defiled the shrine during a visit in May.

"The priest sang a prayer which lasted a few minutes," he said. "No gesture was made, no rite was performed, on or off the altar." Guerro also denied charges that a new church now being built there would be open to rites from all faiths.


The blurring of religious borders that globalization has brought to Marian shrines has also touched the higher levels of Catholic theology, causing deep concern at the Vatican.

Father Jacques Dupuis, an 80-year-old Belgian Jesuit who spent 20 years in India, has broken new ground in recent years by arguing that God works through many faiths to save all believers.

This contradicts the Catholic position that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and even other Christian churches are imperfect paths to that goal.

Challenging that view earned the respected theologian a secretive three-year investigation by the Vatican's stern doctrinal chief, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The issue calmed in 2001 when Dupuis, under heavy Vatican pressure, issued a statement saying his writings had contained some doctrinal ambiguities. But he has not changed his view.

"The Holy Spirit is present in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions," he said in a lecture in February. "The diverse paths are conducive to salvation because they have been placed by God Himself."

R. Sungenis: The last line says it all. This is an absolute outrage. The Holy Spirit is NOT in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions; never has been; never will be. Every Father, every medieval, every pope, every council, every saint, every doctor has said just the opposite. Jacques Dupuis is an apostate. Unfortunately, we only have John Paul II to thank for initiating the kind of talk that Fr. Dupuis is propagating, since it was he who prayed with African witch doctors in their homeland, and who invited the Hindus and Buddhists to come to Assisi to pray to their false gods for the same thing the Hindus and Buddhists are now coming to Lourdes. Ultimately, the responsibility is with the pope both in initiating it and not stopping it. I would hate to be him and have to face God's judgment seat. His own papal oath says that he will be judged in the strictest manner by God.


Question 30- How Do We Understand Pope Leo's Comments about Interpretation and Science?

Hi Robert.

1. To prove Scripture did not intend to teach us about the nature of the universe, heliocentrists rebut by pointing out Leo XIII's encyclical Providentissimus Deus where he stated:

...first, that the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately, the Holy Ghost "Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things (that is to say, the essential nature of the things of the visible universe), things in no way profitable unto salvation."(53) Hence they did not seek to penetrate the secrets of nature, but rather described and dealt with things in more or less 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 by the most eminent men of science…

In support of the geocentric view, I understand what Trent taught about the consensus of the Fathers, and that Leo XIII also taught that we must interpret the Scriptures literally, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. I might also argue that Leo XIII's statement is somewhat neutral, since heliocentrists cannot therefore use the Scriptures to prove their positions either. But what is the most effective way to respond to this argument?

2. Please clarify something for me on the Atonement. You have said that God could have chosen any number of ways to redeem us. You have also said that Christ's sacrifice was the only way God could have been propitiated. But isn't it true that God had to be propitiated in order to redeem us? If so, how could God have chosen another way to redeem us?

God bless.


R. Sungenis: John, to answer the first question, I'll give you the portion of the recent dialogue I had with Mr. Gary Hoge:

Mr. Hoge: But even better, Pope Leo XIII himself tells us how we should interpret those passages of Scripture that describe the physical universe. In paragraphs 18 and 19 of Providentissimus Deus, the Pope specifically discussed the relationship between Scripture and the physical sciences, and he specifically rejected Mr. Sungenis’ implicit claim that the authors of Scripture intended to teach us about the nature of the visible universe. The Pope wrote:

“We must remember, first, that the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately, the Holy Ghost Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things (that is to say, the essential nature of the things of the visible universe), things in no way profitable unto salvation. Hence they did not seek to penetrate the secrets of nature, but rather described and dealt with things in more or less 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 by the most eminent men of science. Ordinary speech primarily and properly describes what comes under the senses; and somewhat in the same way the sacred writers – as the Angelic Doctor also reminds us – “went by what sensibly appeared,” or put down what God, speaking to men, signified, in the way men could understand and were accustomed to.”

R. Sungenis: Unfortunately for Mr. Hoge, <I>Providentissimus Deus</I> does not teach what he thinks it is teaching. The mere fact that the “angelic doctor” was an avowed geocentrist, which he based on a literal reading of Scripture; and who was a six-day creationist, which he based on a literal reading of Scripture, does not bode well for Mr. Hoge’s interpretation of Leo XIII’s words. In fact, Leo himself took Scripture very literally, stating in the encyclical <I>Arcanum Divinae Sapientae </I>that Adam was made from the dust of the earth and Eve was taken from his side, even in the face of Darwin’s evolutionary theory which was written some twenty years earlier and which the whole world was imbibing as the latest “scientific truth.”

In the section of <I>Providentissimus Deus</I> that Mr. Hoge has cited, Leo is here quoting from St. Augustine when he says:

“We must remember, first, that the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately, the Holy Ghost Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things (that is to say, the essential nature of the things of the visible universe), things in no way profitable unto salvation” (De Gen. ad litt., ii., 9, 20).

The operative words here are “essential nature.” For example, Scripture does not go into a dissertation about the chemical makeup of the sun, stars or the Earth. It has no reason to get into atoms and molecules and the other constituent parts and forces of nature. It just plainly and simply tells us what God did, on the macro scale, when He created the universe. The fact is, on that macro scale, Scripture is very clear that the Earth was created first and that the sun and stars were centered around it, not vice-versa.

Now, if someone were inclined to challenge this language, then what does Pope Leo advise? Well, prior to the above quote from St. Augustine, he quotes another passage from Augustine, which says:

“If dissension should arise between them, here is the rule also laid down by St. Augustine, for the theologian: "Whatever they can really demonstrate to be true of physical nature, we must show to be capable of reconciliation with our Scriptures; and whatever they assert in their treatises which is contrary to these Scriptures of ours, that is to Catholic faith, we must either prove it as well as we can to be entirely false, or at all events we must, without the smallest hesitation, believe it to be so" (De Gen. ad litt., i., 21, 41).

So we are back to square one. According to Pope Leo, unless Mr. Hoge can prove that the earth goes around the sun, then he CANNOT interpret the language of Genesis 1 to say otherwise. Mr. Hoge has no proof. In fact, all he has are testimonies from modern science which itself, ironically, admits it has no proof.

And just to be on the safe side, you will notice that Pope Leo makes no specific reference to the issues of heliocentrism or geocentrism. His language is very general. And with him, any exegete worth his salt will admit that Moses did not write a scientific textbook about the “essential nature of the visible universe.” Rather, he painted with very big strokes, and that’s all that we would expect of him. But that gives no one the right to say that those “big strokes” don’t mean what they say they mean. It only means that we have to be very careful when we start interpreting with “little strokes” what the writers only put in “big strokes.”

In fact, one of the most audacious attempts at ignoring Pope Leo’s words occurs when theistic evolutionists try to read all kinds of “little strokes” into the “big strokes” of Genesis 1, claiming that they see the Big Bang in Genesis 1:1-3, and see evolutionary progression of species in the word “kinds” of Genesis 1:20-24, and many other such eisegetical attempts at interpreting Genesis 1. Geocentrists take Genesis 1 at face value, just like Augustine and Aquinas did. Augustine and Aquinas were both geocentrists, even in the face of many of the Greeks and Muslims who were touting heliocentrism as the correct view. At the least then, Mr. Hoge’s appeal to Augustine and Aquinas via Pope Leo is counterproductive to his whole argument.

Mr. Hoge: The Pope also wrote, “There can never, indeed, be any real discrepancy between the theologian and the physicist, as long as each confines himself within his own lines.” When Mr. Sungenis tries to use the Bible as an astronomy textbook, he is not keeping “within his own lines” as a theologian, but has crossed over into the realm of the physicist and is using the Bible improperly. Scripture does not intend to teach us about astronomy, orbital mechanics, zoology, or the other physical sciences. Therefore, when Mr. Sungenis defends geocentrism by saying, “I also have on my side the testimony of Scripture,”10 he’s wrong. Scripture neither teaches geocentrism, nor teaches against it. Scripture simply wasn’t written to answer that kind of question. As Cardinal Baronius famously observed, the Bible was written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

R. Sungenis: Here we have the word of God that, instead of opening itself up with a grand description of God and all his wonderful attributes; instead of giving us a description of how to get to heaven and all its wonderment, gives us a detailed description of the creation of the earth and all the things that adorn it. In fact, except for a few lines in Genesis 3:15, the Bible doesn’t mention the topic of “how to get to heaven” until we perhaps get to the prophets, and even then it is somewhat obscure and lacking detail, until we come to the New Testament. Perhaps Mr. Hoge runs his life by listening to rhyming cliches from Cardinals, but I don’t. When Scripture opens its pages with a detailed description of the Earth and its adornment, not about "how to get to heaven," there is a reason for it. It is saying, “pay attention: these issues about the Earth and its placement in the universe are important.”

The Fathers of the Church, and the Medievals, at least up until Darwin and Einstein, saw the cosmological description in the opening pages of Genesis as very important. And why would it be important? Because if the Earth is indeed in the center of the cosmos (as astronomy is just now beginning to discover and astrophysicists have already admitted, and which are fully documented in my new book), then it means that a Creator had to place it there; that we ARE indeed special to God, and not just some speck of dust whirling around in a vast and dark universe by mere chance. Here is another excerpt from my book concerning the famous astronomer <B>Edwin Hubble’s</B> discovery that Earth was the center of the cosmos:

After Einstein, men began to look deeper and deeper into the starry cosmos. Evidence that, indeed, Earth was in the center of the universe was discovered by one of the world’s most famous astronomers, Edwin Hubble, the man after whom the Hubble Space Telescope is named. So shocked was Hubble when he examined the redshift of starlight that the only thing he could offer to refute and Earth-centered cosmos was to say:

"Such a condition would imply that we occupy a unique position in the universe...This hypothesis cannot be disproved, but it is unwelcome....the unwelcome position of a favored location must be avoided at all costs....such a favored position is intolerable" (<I>The Observational Approach to Cosmology</I>, pp. 50-55).

Mr. Hoge insists that the Bible has no interest in giving us any specific description of the cosmos, yet Scripture says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament his handiwork.” In fact, as we see above from <B>Edwin Hubble</B>, the mere thought that the Earth was the center of the universe made him shake in his boots. It is “intolerable” to him. Why? Because Hubble was a thinking man just like you and me. He realized that if Earth was in the center, then there is a God, and Hubble was responsible to Him, and there was no escape. Perhaps that is why Scripture continually tells us hundreds of times that the sun moves; that the moon moves; that the planets move; but it never tells us that the Earth moves (not once), yet Mr. Hoge stubbornly insists that none of that language is trying to tell us anything special. If Mr. Hoge would only listen to Scripture instead of trying to dismiss it, he would see that the description of the cosmos is one of the most salient features of biblical revelation given to us so that men will recognize that there is indeed a God and a heaven. When men think that the earth is just some speck of dust whirling around, by chance, in a vast and dark universe, they have every reason to deny God’s existence and not give a hoot about heaven, and that is exactly what Hawking, Sagan and Gould say is their primary motivation for their agnosticism or atheism. If Earth is in the center, then they have no escape, since common sense tells them it could not be there unless a God put it there. How’s that for “telling us how to go to heaven” Mr. Hoge? Open your eyes and stop following the blind leaders of the blind.


Question 31- : Who Are you Going to Vote For?

Mr. S,
Will you state who you will vote in this coming presidential election either in a response to me or on your web site. Would appreciate it.

R. Sungenis: Dear LAS, I won't be voting for either John Kerry or George Bush. I make it a practice not to vote for Skull and Bones society members who, as one of their initiatory rites, desecrate a picture of the pope. Unfortunately, those who are capable of running the country are those smart enough not to get into politics. If I do anything, I'll make a write in vote for Jeb Bush, who appears to be a true and practicing Catholic, or perhaps Alan Keys.


Question 32- Trent, Vatican 2 and the Vulgar Tongue

Can we find anywhere in the Vatican 2 documents any claim that the vulgar tongue may be used exclusively? It seems that the Church has denied use of the Latin except in rare cases and not at all until Pope John Paul II allowed it to return under an Indult Mass, but if Trent is correct, and IF Vat. 2 did NOT determine that only the vulgar tongue may be used, did Pope Paul VI allow this when the Novus Ordo Mass was constructed under his eyes?

Question 2: so many of my traditionalist friends tout the Council of Trent to be THE Council to end all Councils; so can we apply that found at the Council to be applied today?



R. Sungenis: Anne, there is no place in Vatican II where either Latin was disapproved or the vulgar tongue exclusively approved. This is another instance in which the liberal interpretation of Vatican II has far outstripped the actual teaching of Vatican II. As for Trent, we covered this in our July QA, I believe. As Pope, Paul VI had the right to put the Mass in the vernacular, but the question is not whether he had the authority, but whether it was a wise decision. As I stated in one of our earlier QA's, I believe a proper mixture of the vernacular and Latin is appropriate. The Latin should be used for the most important parts, the vernacular for the less important.

As for the Council of Trent, it was indeed the Church's greatest dogmatic council, since it covered so much theological territory, and tied up a lot of loose ends that had been dangling since the Council of Nicea. As an infallible dogmatic council, its teachings will never change and they are still applicable to today. Anyone who transgresses them will have the anathema of the Council applied to them. Any present council (e.g., Vatican II) must be interpreted in light of the Council of Trent (and all our councils and papal declarations).


Question 33- Aquinas on Actual Faith and Baptism

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I'm not sure that I understand your reason for why Catholics should not inquire into such issues, unless you think it merely a matter of prudence (not one of discipline).

However, I looked up the passage in Denzinger from Pius IX and I think it says something considerably different from what I have understood you to say.
# 1646 [discusses the error of Catholics "who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ.]
"For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God. Now, in truth, who would arrogate so much to himself as to mark the limits of such an ignorance, because of the nature and variety of peoples, regions, innate dispositions, and of so many other things? For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains "we shall see God as He is" [I John 3:2], we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but, as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is
"one God, on faith, one baptism" [Eph. 4:5]; it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry."

It appears to me that Pius IX is saying we should not inquire further into what constitutes "invincible ignorance." This would seem to be a wholly sensible recommendation considering "the nature and variety of peoples, regions, innate dispositions, and so many other things." However, it is not the same as asking whether an invincibly ignorant person must, nevertheless, have actual faith in order to be saved. Pius IX comments that God will not hold it against the invincibly ignorant that they have failed to join the Catholic Church. However, that is merely to say that they will not be punished in Hell for their failure to join the Church, not that they will achieve the beatific vision. As Innoncent III wrote, "The punishment of original sin is deprivation of the vision of God, but punishment of actual sin is the torments of everlasting hell" (Denzinger # 410). Thus, the invincibly ignorant (who have followed God's law to the extent they knew it) do not deserve the torments of everlasting hell, but that is not to say that they will achieve the beatific vision, unless, as St. Thomas wrote, they come to actual faith in the true God before death and (presumably) therefore have an actual desire for baptism. Having read the comments by Pius IX, I do not see how he is forbidding the sort of inquiry St. Thomas engaged in and Dominus Iesus recommended. If anything, it is the universalists that seem to fall into the trap of trying to evaluate who is invincibly ignorant. To the best of my knowledge, St. Thomas never actually comments on the likelihood that someone is or is not invincibly ignorant.

Josh Skinner

R. Sungenis: Josh, you must understand that all of what you write above is merely your pious opinion. Until if and when the Church settles the issue by dogmatizing what you wrote above or by rejecting what you wrote above, we don't have an answer to the question, either of what constitutes an invincibly ignorant person, or whether an invincibly ignorant person can enjoy the beatific vision. Pius IX's statement, in my opinion, addresses both questions, and to both, I believe he is teaching there is no further inquiry, at least until the Church herself addresses these issues.


Question 34- Did Gregory the Great Advocate a Future Mass Conversion of Jews?

Mr. Sungenis,

Gregory the Great wrote the following in his exposition of Job:

X. 20. After the loss of Job's possessions, after all his bereavements, after all the suffering of his wounds, after all his angry debates, it is good that he is consoled by twofold repayment. In just this way does the holy church, while it is still in this world, receive twofold reward for the trials it sustains, when all the gentile nations have been brought into its midst, at the end of time, and the church converts even the hearts of the Jews to its cause. Thus it is written, "Until the fullness of nations enters and so all Israel is saved."

In this translation, we read "and so all Israel is saved." Since Gregory does not use the words "WILL be saved," he does not seem to be advocating a future mass conversion of the Jews. Instead, he seems to be spelling out HOW all Israel will be saved, that is, all Israel will be saved by having both Jew and Gentile believers. However, his use of "at the end of time" calls this to question. It seems as though he could have done without saying it. But the fact is that he did say it. Why does Gregory include the words "at the end of time"? Is he advocating a future mass conversion of the Jews "at the end of time"? Thank you,


R. Sungenis: Damien, yes, I believe that Gregory is advocating a conversion of the Jews at the end of time. Whether it is a "mass" conversion or not, he does not specify, and this is one of the problems with some of the early interpretations of Romans 11:25-26, that is, the Fathers shift back and forth between a small and large conversion, since Scripture is not definitive on either one, if any. I don't think the use of "is" by Gregory is significant, since the present tense could be understood as referring to the future. If, rather, he is referring to the present, then Gregory is following the understanding of Augustine and the remainder of the Church that God has already fulfilled his promise to the Jews, since He allowed them to become saved even in the New Testament period after their Old Testament reign was over. So together, Jews and Gentiles are being saved throughout the New Testament period, in fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies (Ezk 36-37; Jer 23; Is 44-49).


Question 35- Are the Crusades Against Isaiah 2:4?

Mr. Sungenis,

Thanks for the reply. I learned a lot from your email. I couldn't help but be reminded about the crusades however. These wars were promoted by the "house of God" in order to stop the spread of Islam. So, considering the crusades alone, couldn't we say that even in the Christian era, the nations are, in fact, taught to war? If the crusades demonstrate an instance where the house of God promotes war, then Isaiah's prophesy about the nations not being exercised to war "any more," cannot be dealing with the Christian era. Is there any way around this? Do you see the crusades being a problem with the interpretation you set forth? Thank you,


R. Sungenis: Damien, learning the art of war as a daily practice is quite different than using force to defend oneself when it is needed. You and I would defend our home by fighting or shooting an uninvited intruder, but we don't make a practice of fighting as a way of life.


Question 36- The Remnant article on Iraq

>>Yes, Saddam and his thugs were evil men who killed thousands of innocent people. But they posed no threat to the national security of the United States, or even their neighbors in the region. They were, as Gen. Zinni remarked, "contained." And they were not involved in 9/11, as the Bush administration finally confessed publicly several months ago. The U.S. war was unjust, and the Vatican said so… just as did Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X.<<

Mr. Sungenis, I'm not sure I quite agree with this paragraph in its entirety. First and foremost, whether or not Iraq actually or potentially posed a threat to the national security of the United States or their neighbors in the region is debatable. And whether or not Iraq was involved, directly or indirectly, in the 9/11 attacks is debatable, too. But what is not debatable is this: Saddam Hussein was a ruthless tyrant that needed to be ousted.

We read in the scriptures, "You cannot stand by idly while your neighbor's life is at stake." Sometimes we need to place Christian principles and morals above national interests. This war clearly was a case of morality over national interests. Was it morally permissible for the United States, the sole global superpower, to stand by idly and watch Mr. Hussein ruthlessly murder his own people? If anything, I criticize the United States for not having acted *sooner* in liberating Iraq from such a tyrant.

It's easy for Americans to not -- put bluntly -- give a damn about people in other countries. We live in the best country in the world. We don't suffer from government oppression, we don't fear being shot for criticizing Bush, we don't fear many things the Iraqis had to fear under Saddam Hussein. We had the capability, the power, the will, AND the moral obligation to oust Hussein. And we did, thank God.

I find it interesting Mr. Cooper would cite the Vatican's opposition to the war. Erm, yes, well, this same Vatican sanctioned the gathering of pagans to pray to their false gods on Catholic grounds. Is Mr. Cooper an opportunist? Also, Mr. Sungenis, this same Vatican today vociferously opposes the death penalty... I do believe most, if not all, Traditionalists are staunchly pro-death penalty.

The U.S. war was just and morally permissible. I support this war, and support even more. I support the ousting of every tyrant, given that the benefits of such an ousting would outweigh the negative consequences. An example: China. China has an oppressive government, and tyrannical leaders. The ousting, however, of Chinese tyrants would be too costly, and too bloody. In Iraq, however, I do believe 800 or so American lives lost were worth it. And I believe American soldiers that have died in Iraq would roll in their graves if you were to tell them they died in vain.

This is what makes America so great. We are willing to shed our own blood to come to the aid of an oppressed people. Sure, you may argue that I'm not in the front-lines of battle, but neither are you living under the ruthless dictatorship of a tyrant. Place me on the front-lines of battle, and I'll place you under a dictatorship similar to that of Hussein's. I believe being in the former position is better and by far more honorable, Mr. Sungenis.

In spite of this disagreement, I still love your apologetics. Keep up the great work, and God bless.

-- Edgar Corral

R. Sungenis: Edgar, the issue with Iraq is certainly a difficult one. But I think it should be stated that Bush's motivation to attack Iraq was not for the purpose of freeing an oppressed people, that is, the Iraqi people. His primary motivation was in lessening the threat against Israel. In other words, Bush's motives were selfish, nationalistic motives, not altruistic. If Iraq was so closely situated near Israel, Bush and company wouldn't care enough to send troops. Bush has made it clear in his speeches that his primary motivation is "our national interest," that is, anything he deems as a threat to our global expansion. In other words, money is the primary motivation.

Freedom is a funny word. According to the Bush, any country that doesn't have Protestant democracy has not reached an adequate level of freedom. That is a false notion. Democracy is not freedom. Freedom occurs when people are protected from evil. Unfortunately, the "democracy" of the United States has allowed evil to proliferate, for democracy, in itself, never knows when to say NO. That is why we have abortion, homosexuality, drugs, divorce, pornography, political and corporate corruption, etc, at all-time highs. In short, the only thing democracy has done is given Americans the freedom to sin unrestrained, except, of course, where it infringes on "our national interest."


Question 37- Reconciling Luke-Acts

Mr. Sungenis,

How can we reconcile the accounts in Luke and Acts of Christ's ascension? Luke seems to place it on Easter Sunday whereas Acts places it 40 days after. I know that some Mss. do not contain the phrase "and was carried up to heaven" in Luke 24:51, and that if this is the genuine reading then there is no problem. But St. Jerome, or at least the Douay which is a translation of his vulgate has it. Any ideas?

Ben Douglass

R. Sungenis: First, Lk 24:50 is the beginning of a new paragraph in the Greek, since it is marked off by the conjunction "de," and thus it is a new event. The confusion occurs because some translations will begin the verse with "Then he led them out," implying that the events are coincident, but the verse actually says "He led them out." With the presence of "de" to set verse 50 off from verse 49, it actually means, "And after these things, he led them out." We don't have such a single word in English.

The Greek, for example, can use the two simple words "" in a sentence to equal what we say in English by "On the one hand...on the other hand." Or the Greek will use "de" and "gar" to set off one sentence from another. The Greeks did so because they did not have the punctuation we have in English, so they often punctuated by their word choice.

As for the manuscript evidence, the only ones which omit reference to the Ascension are the original hand of Codex Aleph and Codex Beza, so the evidence that reference to the Ascension belongs in the verse is overwhelming, with even Papyrus 75 testifying to its presence.

Second, Luke's purpose in mentioning the Ascension is to set up the fuller description of the event in Acts. We could say that Luke is merely mentioning the Ascension in Luke 24 for good measure, since all the other gospels stop at the Resurrection. Luke know he will be giving the details beyond the Resurrection in Acts, so he decides to give a few lines of what initiates this sequence of events in Luke 24.

This is not to be unexpected, since the Ascension is not just an after-thought, but an integral part of the exaltation of Christ (cf., Dan 7:14; Ps 110:1; Mt 22:44; Ac 2:33-34; Hb 1:13; 6:19-20; 9:24; Rm 8:34; Ep 2:6; , and this is why it is so prominent in Catholic theology (as opposed to Protestantism).


Question 38- Why Isn't There a Continual Breeze if the Earth is Rotating, Part 2?

Thanks Robert for your reply.
I still don't understand why there isn't a continuous breeze at ground level where I can feel it, IF the planet is spinning on
it's axis at over 1,000 mph.

R. Sungenis: Donald, there wouldn't be a continual 1,000 mph breeze with a rotating earth for the same reason that if you spin a bucket with water, although initially the bucket will outpace the water, eventually the water will catch up to the bucket and both will spin at the same speed. The same thing is true with the atmosphere of the earth. Although it would be true that when the earth first started spinning the atmosphere lagged behind, eventually, by the force of gravity, the atmosphere would catch up and both would spin in unison. This is due to the principle of inertia, which applies to gases like our atmosphere as it does to solids. Actually, our atmosphere is relatively heavy, since at sea level there is 15 pounds per square inch of pressure. That's like having a 15 pound ball on the surface of the earth. What will the ball do if the earth rotates? Although it may roll backward a little when the earth begins its rotation, eventually the ball will be in synch with the earth.

We must also remember that, in the geocentric system, it is the force associated with the mass and rotation of the stars around the earth that is the same as, and replaces, the forces associated with the rotation and mass of the earth in the heliocentric system. The two systems would be precisely equal. Thus, whatever holds the atmosphere to the earth in the heliocentric system, will have an equal and opposite force holding it to earth in the geocentric system.

Robert Sungenis


Question 39- Why Doesn't the DR or Vulgate translate the Urim and Thummim Correctly?

Mr. Sungenis,
I was reading Lev. 8:8 in the Douay version (which I have enjoyed reading)
and the words used are Doctrine and Truth where in other versions the words
are Urim and Thummim. The Douay is an exact translation of the latin words
as I looked at the latin. How has it come to be Urim and Thummim (sacred
lots used for casting). Urim and Thummim seems to fit the passage better in
that they are physical items to be be placed in something. What say you?
Thank you.

R. Sungenis: The words Urim and Thummim are exact transliterations of the original Hebrew words. In other words, the Hebrew is pronounced "urim" and "thummim." The Latin Vulgate does not transliterate them. The Latin of Leviticus 8:8 is "quod adstringens cingulo aptavit rationali in quo erat doctrina et veritas." As to the reason why Jerome chose to say "doctrine and truth" rather than Urim and Thummim, I don't know. Perhaps he wanted to show that the Urim and Thummim were the source of divine revelation. The other uses of Urim and Thummim that Jerome does not translate as a proper noun are Ex 28:30 ("doctrine and truth"); Nm 27:21 (here Jerome doesn't even translate the Hebrew); Dt 33:8 "perfection and doctrine"); 1Sm 28:6 ("priests"); Ez 2:63 ("learned and perfect"); Nh 7:65 ("learned and skillful"); Sr 33:3; 45:10 ("ephod"). It appears that Jerome simply considered the Hebrew words nouns or adjectives rather than proper nouns. I think he was wrong, but no one ever said Jerome had a perfect translation.


Question 40- Did the Lutherans Take Catholic Communion?
Hi, Robert: I found the following on It seems that we are 'dialoguing' again! You can read the whole report at the following url BUT what concerns me is the celebration daily of the Eucharist, alternating between Lutheran and Roman rites. Does that mean that Lutherans attending the Eucharist when celebrated via the Roman rites were allowed to receive our Lord? O God, I pray not!

Robert, I am soon to be 71 years old.....I am so tired of the scandal, heresies, etc. in the modern neo-catholic church. It breaks my heart! have you read the latest edition of THE REMNANT which I received today? After reading about Somerville and his ongoing defense against his suspension, about the newest wrinkles in the Catholic-Jewish dialogue and the article on the Worst pontificate in History, I cry. I know you have said the N.O. Mass is valid or we would have to say that the gates of hell have prevailed........BUT it seems that if one continues to attend such they will eventually become like them.

take care, Robert......let us continue to pray for another.


anne ward

30.08.2004 Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity Meets in Baltimore, USA Discussion on Apostolicity of the Church, New Testament Foundations

Discussions focused on the "Apostolicity of the Church - New Testament Foundations;" the Apostolic Gospel and the Apostolicity of the Church;" "Apostolic Succession and the Ordained Ministry," and "Church Teaching which Remains in the Truth."

The conclusion of the work is expected in 2005, and the report is scheduled for publication in 2006.

During the meeting, the Eucharist was celebrated each day, alternating between Roman Catholic and Lutheran rite.

R. Sungenis: Anne, I don't think this means that the Lutherans received the Catholic Eucharist, rather, the Lutherans had Lutheran communion and the Catholic had the Catholic Eucharist. Even the ecumenical Church of John Paul II isn't ready for a sharing of each other's communion.

As for "the gates of hell will not prevail," the operative word here is "prevail" as in totally take over; as in totally destroy the Church. That hasn't happened, and if Christ is true to His word, as He certainly is, then it will never happen.

But that doesn't mean the Church cannot be infiltrated by the gates of hell, and to a very large degree, so much so that we begin to ask questions as you asked above.

Imagine what it was like in the 1300s and beyond when three "popes" were reigning at the same time, and the only reason one pope succumbed to another pope was when the army of the former pope was bigger than the army of the latter pope and thus ran him out of town!

Imagine what it was like when, at the same period of history, the Black Death was wiping out over a third of the population of Europe, and people understood this as a judgment from God for their sins.

Imagine what it was like when Pope Alexander, around this same time, lived with concubines and had ten illegitimate children, some of whom he gave red hats! I'm sure the people of those days wondered whether the gates of hell had prevailed.

But those days passed, and the Church reformed, at least well enough to await the next scandal that would rock her very foundations. We are living in one of those "rocky" times right now. But in a few years, this too will pass. And if Christ should tarry, then the Church will reform, and I expect it will be under the auspices of a pope who finally obeys God and consecrates Russia to Mary's Immaculate Heart and brings us back to our Catholic traditions and posterity.

You can rest assured that it will not happen under this pontificate, and may not occur even under the next, but sooner or later, it will happen. By that time, of course, you will be in heaven praying for me! God be with you.


Question 41- Does the KJV quote the Deuterocanonical books?

Hi, Robert,

Years ago, I asked you whether I should write an article to prove that the Protestant rejection of the deuterocanon was logically inconsistent. You replied that wouldn't be a good idea.

Well, maybe you're right. But something surprised me just now when I visited the "King James Version" page at That site includes scanned the images of passages from the KJV's 1625 edition. Beside each New Testament passage that quotes a deuterocanonical book, you'll see marginalia showing the chapter and verse numbers of the deuterocanonical

If the images and the marginalia are genuine, KJV-onlyists have a problem. KJV-onlyists deny that the deuterocanon is canonical. But since some deuterocanonical passages appear in at least one edition of the KJV, the KJV-onlyists need to admit that some deuterocanonical passages are canonical, or that some editions of the KJV contain some errors. But what KJV-onlyist would do that? The KJV-onlyists contradict themselves, if they say that although no part of the deuterocanon is canonical, some parts of the deuterocanon are canonical.

Maybe my idea about an article wasn't so bad after all.

Pax Christi,

R. Sungenis: Bill, I don't remember discussing this issue with you. Perhaps my memory is failing me. In any case, let me make a few comments. First, the NT does not "quote" the deuterocanonical books. The closest thing to a "quote" are passage in the NT that seem to make some allusion or knowledge of a deuterocanonical incident. If the NT had ever actually quoted from a deuterocanonical book, the debate about the canonicity of the deuteros would have been over a long time ago.

As for the issue of the 1625 edition of the King James Bible containing the deuteros, that has been known for some time, but I don't know what "" is trying to make of it. The fact that the deuteros were only in one version of the KJV and deleted from the dozens of other revisions proves that the King James revisionists did their best to excise those books from the King James, and they were successful. Moreover, what was done 400 years ago had little relevance to what King James users believe today, or must defend. These facts, in any case, have little to do with the "King James Only" debate, which concerns whether Protetestants should use the King James or a more modern version for their personal study.


Question 42- Did God Require Christ to Suffer?

Robert, please clarify something for me on the Atonement. You have said that God could have chosen any number of ways to redeem us. You have also said that Christ's sacrifice was the only way God could have been propitiated. But isn't it true that God had to be propitiated in order to redeem us? If so, how could God have chosen another way to redeem us?


R. Sungenis: John, I don't know where you are getting the information that I said "God could have chosen any number of ways to redeem us." I have said precisely the opposite. This information is in our QA board. I have said that the "nominalists" claimed that God could have chosen any number of ways to redeem us, including using a donkey.

John: Ah, Robert, I stand corrected. I misread what you wrote (which is obviously why I could not reconcile the nominalist statement with the fact that God had to be propitiated in order to redeem us). We both agree.

An EWTN theologian, addressing the same question and our conclusions, wrote the following to me:

Actually, that is only one theory of the why of the redemption and not even the only historically Catholic one. Theologians have been in general agreement that God could have chosen another way, but freely choose this wisest and most fitting (according to His nature, Love, and our need) – and say this to avoid seeming to constrain either the omnipotence or freedom of God. In the same way we say a virtuous person acts so and so because the habit of virtue inclines him to it, but yet freely. In a similar way we can say this was the wisest, and best, and most fitting, but yet freely chosen.

I disagree with this conclusion because the omnipotence and immutability of God is not at all harmed by the fact that God could only be propitiated by Christ's sacrifice. It is God's very nature to be offended by sin, which angers Him and requires Him to be appeased. Omnipotence and immutability regard God's nature, not any restriction on His freedom. This theologian also does not cite any authority for his conclusions.

Query whether Christ could have suffered "less" but still have propitiated God? I invite your comments.


R. Sungenis: John, I agree with you. There is no infringement on God's freedom. EWTN's answer is precisely what the nominalists were saying. The fact remains that anything other than a propitiation would be akin to a lie, since obviously a non-propitiation would not have satisfied God's honor nor appease His wrath, which is what Scripture posits as God's sole motivation.

As for whether Christ could have suffered less, we must remember that the main suffering of Christ was death. There is nothing less than death as a propitiation, since one could easily recover from wounds if that is all they were to receive.

This reminds me to alert people to the fact that Anne Catherine Emmerich's writings of the passion are highly exaggerated accounts of which there is very little, if any, precedence. The Gospels are virtually silent on the details of the physical sufferings of Christ. Emmerich, or her translator, has been known to not only embellish biblical accounts, but to posit events that actually contradict Scripture (e.g., claiming that there were more people on Noah's ark than the eight that the Bible testifies to, three times).


Question 43- "Back the Attack" CAI Ad

I am a Jewish man who likes to keep up on other faiths, in
particular the activities of the RCC. I stumbled upon your
WWW site and "Back the Attack" ad. Are you serious about
using a military theme? Especially in light of the struggles
going on in Iraq, and now Russia? Is your faith something
you must kill for? The inquisition not withstanding. Are
you becoming muslim in your campaigns?


R. Sungenis: Come on, Phil, get a grip. It is precisely because of interpretations like yours that the world is in the situation it is. You keep looking at the worldly scene. We are looking at the spiritual, where the real battle is going on. In our New Testament it states in Ephesians 6:

12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.
13 Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of justice:
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
16 In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.
17 And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).


Question 44- "Back the Attack" CAI Ad Part 2

Thanks for the reply. I'll share it with my Catholic
friends and get their take on it. I have held to the
believe that it is not by might, nor power that we overcome
evil. I am not familiar with the Christian scriptures, but
if others interpret them the way you do, that would explain
many deaths of those who do not follow in your faith. Scenes
of troops dropping in with guns, in the name of religion, is

I defend your right to your faith. Don't kill me, or my
family, because of mine.


R. Sungenis: Phil, we surely won't "kill" you or or family, since our battle is spiritual. The people that want to kill you are the Muslims, and they want to kill us, too. That's because their false religion says that God will reward them for doing so. By the same token, however, our mission is to persuade people to forsake their false religions, and, sorry to say, that includes Judaism. For if it is true, that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and salvation, and it is the devil with whom we are in mortal combat who tries to persuade people otherwise, then we would be doing a disservice to you if we did not tell you. God be with you.



Question 45- "Back the Attack" CAI Ad Part 3

I just reread your scriptures and am even more confused.

You wrote:

12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but
against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the
world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in
the high places.

My comment: Guns kill flesh and blood. Why the gun motif?
The rest of your quotations also support more of a spiritual
battle than a physical one.

I'm done. You said your peace and I've said mine. But I am
ever more afraid of your brand of Christianity. It seems
more "middle ages" and that didn't fair well for my people.

May G-d protect me from you.


R. Sungenis: Phil, the only one you have to fear is God, for he has made it quite clear that He has forsaken "your people" because you have rejected Him and His Son. THAT, and that only, is why "your people" have suffered so much, and will continue to suffer. All you need do is read your Hebrew Scriptures to find out this information. The solution to this is for you and your people to embrace God once again, and that can only be done through history greatest Jew, Jesus Christ.



Question 46- Eating Jesus


Since you got rude with me, let me ask you this:

Everything you eat becomes part of what you defecate. What
happens to Jesus? If you eat him, does it become part of
your stool?


R. Sungenis: First of all, a little science: not everything you eat do you defecate. You only defecate waste products. The rest is absorbed into the body by chemical processes.

Second, I hope you're not implying that Christ is equivalent to dung, because if you are, then you're making the same mistake your Babylonian Talmud made 1400 years ago, and for which the curse remains upon those who sink to such depths to ridicule Christ, just as Christ said to the Pharisees "you shall never be forgiven for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit."

Third, Jesus is present in substantialum, not accidens (per Aristotle and Aquinas). Thus, only the accidens would either be absorbed by the body or eliminated. The substance goes back to Christ.


Question 47- A Visit to the Planetarium


I recently read your second dialog on Geocentrism with Mr. Hoge, and I must say this is a very interesting discussion. Today, I took my children to the Planetarium at Denver Museum of Nature and Science. This is a new, state of the art planetarium with digital cameras, and is a far cry from the old planetariums I visited when I was in grade school. The clarity, color, and three-dimensional affects provide just an awesome viewing experience, and help to illustrate what complex systems such as the universe look like. I highly recommend you visit it the next time you’re in Denver.

Interestingly, however, the narrator started the presentation by explaining that “mankind has recently discovered that the earth is not at the center of the universe.” The rest of the presentation built upon this premise. It was presented as a spaceship leaving earth and traveling to the farthest known reaches of the universe, and pointed out the location of the earth as in the lower right section. The presentation never bothered to explain that there are other theories, such as geocentrism; it just assumed that we do not know where the center of the universe is.

Why do you suppose there is such a hostile disregard for geocentrism, when it is a perfectly valid theory as you explained? It’s perfectly valid even without the witness of Catholic fathers and the Church (i.e. atheist scientists can see it is valid). I believe it’s because it validates at least some of the Catholic Church’s teachings, which of course, cannot be accepted by modernist, atheistic, agnostic, Darwninist, populist, communist, socialist, democrat, liberal thinking. It’s more fashionable to disparage and make fun of the Catholic Church.

In our world, truth is indeed hard to find. But that’s what makes it so valuable!

Thanks for your work.


Greg Theisen

R. Sungenis: Greg, well, you got a taste of the bias that is out there. Imagine starting a lecture by saying "we know the earth is not the center of the universe"! This is the surest way for us to discern an agenda in modern astronomy. The reason they have this agenda is the same reason, for example, that Edwin Hubble and Stephen Hawking do it. They know the evidence can be interpreted in two ways: (a) an ever-expanding, centerless universe, or (b) an earth-centered universe. They state that they opt for the former because of "philosophical" reasons, and they also admit that, if they were to opt for (b), then they would be forced to acknowledge that only a divine Creator could have placed the earth in such a prime position, and they would have to bow to Him. For this very reason Hubble said that, even if the redshift shows that Earth is in the center, it is an "intolerable" idea, and he "cannot accept it."

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

God be with you.

Robert Sungenis


Question 48- Ferrara's Deal Hudson piece

Why are you contributing to the defamation of Deal Hudson's character by putting Chris Ferrara's article on your web site? I am absolutely no fan of Deal Hudson and the politics he espouses. However, the Ferrara article doesn't deal at all with Hudson's political philosophy, but only gloats over his misfortune in having a ten year old scandal being 'exposed' by NCR. As far as I am aware, no one has accused Hudson of any recent impropriety. Why do you contribute to promoting the worst possible interpretation of Deal Hudson, when it seems quite possible to assume a much more optimistic view of him? Perhaps that sinful experience of Hudson ten years ago finally was the wake up call he needed to turn his personal life around. Who am I to judge? It seems unreasonable for you to judge as well. If you disagree with what Deal Hudson stands for, then criticize that with solid and well-reasoned argumentation and stop slinging the mud. Otherwise you sound like you don't have any substantive, intellectual reasoning on which to base any criticisms of Deal Hudson. You know, like NCR.

Bernard Schnaufer
Marion, IA

R. Sungenis: Bernard, first of all, CAI puts items on its site that it regards as significant for the public to know. We don't make judgments based on whether the person is high profile or low profile. If we determine the person is doing something, or has done something, which is a danger to the Catholic community, we will post it, and we don't care who disagrees with us.

As for Deal Hudson, the problem is that it is one thing to receive absolution for your sins (which we all grant him) but it is quite another to then put yourself out there as a Catholic model and spokesman as if nothing happened in the past.

Most men in Hudson's high-profile position resign from their posts and you never hear from them again. And rightly so. It is only those who think that their salacious past should have no bearing on how people view them, or who think they are immune from social punishment for their misdeeds, who continue in their high-profile jobs, as Mr. Hudson seems to be doing at Crisis. Perhaps if we had more Scarlet Letters in our society, people would think twice about engaging in such heinous sexual sins.

The fact is that people have the right to know about someone's deviant sexual behavior, especially in the face of the fact that Mr. Hudson tried to cover it up. That is why sex offenders have to register with the state before they reside in a community. Considering that Mr. Hudson took advantage of a mentally incapacitated woman, his crime is not far from sexual predation.

Mr. Hudson apparently thinks he will cause no scandal if people found out about his sordid past, and that no one even has the right to know because he deems himself as indispensable to "the cause."

Absolution is one thing, but to show remorse for his past, Hudson should not have then made himself a part of the Catholic limelight. He is showing the same type of hubris as the bishops did in the pedophile scandal.

Not only has he become part of the limelight, but recently in his magazine he was touting himself as the Catholic par excellence, a virtuous model and leader for people to follow, and according to the NOR, he was bucking to become the US envoy to the Vatican. Don't you think people should know what his history is before they tip their hat to him and he becomes their model and representative?

Moreover, Hudson himself has seen the gravity of the exposure he has now had to endure under the microscope of the National Catholic Register since he removed himself (or, more likely, was politely asked to leave) from the Bush advisory board. Ferrara's piece in thus only reporting what has already been exposed, and for the purpose of showing the shallowness in the neo-conservative luminaries who are running the neo-conservative Church.

Unfortunately for Hudson, when sexual scandals, which have had the lid put on them for so many years, finally come to the surface, it is just as if Hudson had committed those crimes yesterday, as opposed to ten years ago. At least that's the way the public will see it, and Hudson should be sensitive to this and remove himself from public venue and wear sackcloth as his garment, not a suit and tie in Washington DC.

His sin is compounded by the fact that he tried to hide this for so long. I know that his senior editor did not know about it, and I'm sure the rest of his staff didn't either. As a result, Hudson has put all their jobs at risk because of the bad name Crisis magazine will now have.

If Hudson wants to be a real model for us, then he should remove himself from his throne and walk the streets in repentance, and handing over the job at Crisis to a more worthy individual.


Question 49- Catholic Scripture Commentaries and Luke 14:28-33

Dear Robert,

Please give me your recommendations on orthodox Catholic Scripture commentaries. I am most interested in multi-volume verse by verse commentaries but am open to single volume suggestions. What do you think of the Sacra Pagina series from Liturgical Press? I have the first volume of your CASB and am looking forward to future volumes.

Secondly, have you written on Luke XIV, verses 28-33? I am trying to understand verses 31-32 in relation to the other verses, especially v 33.

Yours in Christ,


R. Sungenis: Winston, there are not very many verse-by-verse studies available for Catholics. I haven't used the Sacra Pagina, so I can't comment on it. I still like the Haydock commentary best. It is the most faithful to Catholic doctrine; quotes the Fathers incessantly, and has a good grasp of exegetical principles. It comes in two volumes. You can get it from Catholic Treasures in Monrovia, CA.

As for Luke 14:28-33, the lesson here is that, it would be foolish for a man to be a Christian, going through all the ridicule, persecution, hatred, pangs of conscience, and everything else that Christians have to suffer, if he doesn't intend to divest himself of a love for material things. For if he goes through all the motions of being a Christian, but doesn't break himself away from a love of money, then he will not be saved.

The connection to the parable of the king going to war is that the king, after having readied all his men, spending all his money, generating the morale of his troops, transporting them to the battle scene, and preparing them to fight with a pep talk, will be all for naught when he finds out that another king has twice as many troops. In other words, all the work he put into the endeavor to fight will be destroyed rather quickly when he meets the other king in battle, since he did not prepare himself thoroughly enough.

Likewise, those of us who act like Christians, but don't prepare ourselves thoroughly enough by divesting ourselves of a love for riches, will also lose the battle.


Question 50- Ronald Knox's Translation of the Scripture

Dear Robert,

Do you have an opinion of Msgr. Ronald Knox’s translation of the Scripture?

Yours in Christ,


R. Sungenis: It is absolutely the worst translation of Scripture I have come across, except for possibly, some Protestant paraphrased editions. Knox takes liberties with the Greek and Latin that I am ashamed to say come from the pen of a Catholic.


Question 51- Regarding Dr Hovind


You recently recommended Dr Hovind's Creation series. I checked it out and he gave the example of the earth's rotation slowing down each year so that we have to add a tick to the clock every year. Does he hold for the heliocentric model of the universe? He also talks about the moon causing the tides. I believe you have shown that the moon's gravitational force is not sufficient to cause the tides.


R. Sungenis: Walt, I am not endorsing Hovind's views of cosmology, only his work on a six-day creation. Almost all Protestant creationists are heliocentrists, since they are following the lead of Henry Morris and ICR.


Question 52- (Anglican)Anglo-Catholic vs Roman Catholicism

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

How does one convert an Anglo-Catholic? I have been trying in our 30-yr. marriage (no children) to lead my husband to the Catholic Church, into which I was born and have continued all my life (except for the laziness that ensued in the desert of Vatican II). I am now "at home" again in the Traditional Latin Mass and reading/studying reams of material that I left behind in the '70's. I am cautious about this subject with my husband because his resistance is immediate; as a priest I know told me "they think they are already Catholics." My husband's idea is that the Bible is the sole authority and he doesn't understand obligations, such as attendance at Sunday Mass. His church professes to believe in Transubstantiation but I very much doubt it, as he often tells me of the many who aren't present at their Sunday service - when they do show up, they robe themselves in choir gowns and insert themselves for the singing. He tells me that God has a purpose for our lives, that He brought us together, but that we travel different faith paths....and have different "opinions" (!) which is the response to my complaint that I spend all my church time alone. It is a battle to have him come to Christmas midnight Mass with me, and his choir director complains when he is not there.
As you know, the Anglican Church is currently in the throws of fracturing over social issues; the Anglo-Catholics are looking at Forward in Faith movement (flying Bishops!) and, to my mind, are barging from pillar to post and going nowhere. When I bring up anything Catholic, the wall goes up. I pray to Michael the Archangel to stand between him and the Anglican clergy, et al who are keeping him active, feeding his ego as to his absolute necessity to their group and telling him not to discuss any of their future plans for existence with me. The battle is between me and them and they are wedging us apart. I am minded to write to his pastor and tell him just that. Is this a lost cause and should I just soldier on in my ever-increasing faith alone ?? Sorry for this lengthy question, but I couldn't get it shorter.
I read much of your material and am grateful for it - very edifying. Many thanks for any assistance in this.
Mrs. W.Marie Hamilton

R. Sungenis: There is no magic bullet regarding how to convert someone. But I can recommend two things. First, since your husband is having a problem with authority and revelation, get a copy of my book Not By Scripture Alone. It will show why Scripture alone cannot be his ultimate authority, and why he needs tradition and the papacy. Second, you need to prepare the word for him by offering to God your sacrifice, real sacrifice. Nothing moves God like sacrifice. Sacrifice food, entertainment or whatever, but allow God to have pity on you through sacrifice. For your mediation today, read First Chronicles 21. It will show you how sacrifice moves God to act.


Question 53- Why Couldn't Catholics Drink from the Chalice? Why do Priests Face the People?

Dear Dr. Sungenis,

Why is it that at one point in the history of the Church during the thirteenth century, the laity were prohibited from receiving the Blood of Christ? What was the reasoning for this? And how did it end up that priest faced away from the crowd and that there was an altar rail? What sources could I then consult on learning about the history and development of the Roman liturgical tradition and even the Eastern liturgical traditions for that matter? Thank you very much and God bless. And thanks for letting me know about Dr. Kramer's web site.


R. Sungenis:Teodoro, one reason for the laity abstaining from drinking from the chalice was that there was a concern about spillage. Once spilt, it would be almost impossible to retrieve the precious blood. Since the Church had declared that eating of the Body was sufficient to provide the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ to the recipient, then there was no great need to partake of the blood separately. As for the priest facing away from the people, this began in ancient times for the purpose of showing that the priest was in direct communication with God, primarily, and only secondarily with the people. The people were more or less an appendage of the priest as he looked to God. But since the liberals coming from Vatican II began teaching that the laity are the real "body of Christ," and that the host was merely symbolic, they changed the orientation of the priest to face the laity. In a sense, the laity had taken the place of both God and the host, and thus the priest needed to face them.


Question 54- Cremation

Dear Mr. Sungenis:

I appreciate your comments concerning cremation. I would like to note that with the "advances" (or should I say perversions) in biological sciences in the past few years, I am beginning to believe that cremation as soon as possible after death is the ONLY way people in developed countries can ensure our mortal bodies are not desecrated for some unseemly purpose. Of course, one might argue that I am merely substituting one sure form of desecration (fire) for another possible form of desecration. But I can't see much difference in having my body burned to ashes or in having my body embalmed or parts harvested or any of the other things that are real possibilities--or even sureties--today.

Am I completely wrong here?

Daniel A. Peck

R. Sungenis: Daniel, if we were only dealing in practicalities, you might have a point. But there is a whole anti-Christian theology behind cremation. We have known this since Old Testament times, and thus we have a 4000 year old history prohibiting the practice based on its religious implications. That's where we must rest the case.


Question 55- Is Gaudium et Spes in Error? Is Trent Infallible Regarding the Mass?

Robert Sungenis,

ave, Maria, gratia plena!

I am very glad for finding out several answers to many of my questions in your web site; I thank you, and God bless us all. I am ready to sign up for the Sensus Catholic Society at I am just waiting for my website which is going to be posted at in two weeks with the index page holding this title, “A Proud Member of Sensus Catholic Society.”

I am coming from a SSPX standing point, and thanks to your website there is no way to go back to my former view just because wrongly or rightly Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre is excommunicated since 1988; and one, who assents his will to Archbishop Lefebvre position, or doesn’t pay attention to his excommunication, at least sins mortally as Saint Thomas of Aquinas teaches us in this question, “Whether an excommunication unjustly pronounced has any effect?” at

I’ve read your magisterial essay, “Was God Behind the Ambiguities of Vatican II? A Biblical Answer to an Intriguing Question,” and I got a very good grasp of it; however, I have still some issues I am sure you will drive me to a clear understanding of them. I’ve read the Franciscans’ archive at, and when you get a chance I would appreciate one little explanation of how I can interpret in light of tradition this sentence, “…love for God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment” (Gaudium et Spes, n.24b).

I am a new user of your web site anyway, but I can say without tremble I follow you in your view of the actual situation of the Latin Tridentine Mass and its actual necessity of changes. Now, after reading some excerpts of Council of Trent, I found myself with some questions: Is the Council of Trent infallible? If not, what a Council has to have to be infallible? But if it is infallible, how I should interpret this sentence, “ If anyone says that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only; or that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice because it is contrary to the institution of Christ, let him be anathema.”? (Council of Trent, Sess. XXII, c. 9) Should I interpret that every one who thinks that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only is to be anathema?

Thanks so much,

God bless us,

Mauro Cesar do Carmo

R. Sungenis: Mauro, thank you for your commendation. I'm so glad you enjoy the material on our web site. It is put there just for people like you.

Regarding Gaudium et spes, there is no contradiction here because GES is not giving us a dissertation on how many commandments there are, but on the principle commandments that Jesus summarized for us in the Gospels.


Question 56- Is God Impassible? Does the Church Say the Evangelists wrote the Gospels?

have 2 questions that I am desperate to find answers to:

(1) Is the term "Divine Impassibility" (meaning that God is not subject to pain and suffering) an acceptable view within Catholic theology?
(2) Could you please provide (and document) the Catholic Church's OFFICIAL position on the authorship of the Gospels? Did Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John actually write the original autographs, from the Church's view?


In His Grace,

don young

R. Sungenis: Don, the Church has dogmatized the fact that God is immutable/impassible (Lateran Council of 649; Roman Council of 993; Lateran Council IV of 1215; Pius IX Syllabus of Errors; Vatican Council I of 1870), but that only concerns the fact that God's character or attributes cannot change. He is God and will always be God, without change. Beyond that, the Church has not defined anything else. Thus, the question we are left with is: what constitutes God's character and attributes, and how do those qualities mesh with man's free will? The Fathers were divided on this issue, as were the Thomists and Molinists. In Scripture, God's immutability concerns particularly the fact that God (as opposed to man) cannot lie, or act on a whim, not that God cannot change his mind based on man's free will decisions, nor that God cannot become angry at man's free will decisions (eg., Exodus 4:14; 32:9-14, etc).

As regarding the Gospels, the Church's last official statement on their authorship comes from the 1911 Pontifical Biblical Commission under Pius X, which at that time was an authoritative arm of the Church (until 1970). It stated that Matthew was the author of Matthew (Denz 2148); that Mark wrote Mark; that Luke wrote Luke (Denz 2155-2165), and that John was the author of John (Denz 2110-2112).


Question 57- Can One Get a Blessing through Television?

EWTN has recently become available in my area and I am looking at many programs. I know that some speakers and programs are tainted in various ways, but some are excellent.
Recently, I saw the last few minutes of a Papal Mass. When the Pope was about to give his final blessing, the commentator announced this and stated that the blessing would extend to those listening to the radio or watching the television coverage. Is this valid? Can a blessing come through the camera lens or microphone?
Several times I have seen priests on various EWTN talk shows give their blessing, not to the audience in the studio, but to the camera. One priest, on the other hand, after speaking towards the camera, seemed to turn slightly to one side before giving his blessing.
If a blessing can come through the camera, does it come only when it is "live"? Or can it come when it is recorded and shown later, even every time the program is repeated? Should one kneel? Is it irreverent to be "blessed" through the TV without acknowledging it, eg by kneeling? Is it okay to be drinking coffee or knitting or talking on the telephone?
Similar questions arise when EWTN Masses are shown. How should one acknowledge the consecration in a TV Mass?
My feeling is that such blessings are valid only when one is physically present, but I would appreciate a definitive answer if there is one.

R. Sungenis: Val, God will bless anyone who seeks Him, regardless of the medium through which the exchange takes. God knows the heart of everyone, so He can determine what amount of blessing will be appropriate for each situation.


Question 58- Lucifer in Heaven?

Hi, Robert,

The Church teaches that to enter Heaven, we need to be perfect. But in
Heaven, Satan and his minions fell because they were proud. Pride is a
vice, and a vice is a character defect. If perfect persons and perfect
souls are the only one who can go into Heaven, how did Satan and the
other fallen angels get there to begin with?

There must be some way to solve this problem, some answer to this
question, because the Church's teachings are true. The problem is that
I contradict myself if I say that although no vicious person can go to
Heaven, some vicious people can go to it.

Feel free to post this question if you want to post it.


God Bless,

R. Sungenis: Bill, I don't know if I quite understand your question, but I will answer with what I think you are asking. First, we don't have to be perfect in order to go to heaven. We just have to have our sins forgiven and dedicate our life to seeking God through Jesus Christ and His Church. "Perfect" in the Greek sense of the term (Mt 5:48) refers to completion and striving for God, not perfection. As for Lucifer, God created all the angels holy and pure, yet with a free will. As long as they used their free will to remain holy, they could remain in heaven. Once they sinned, they would be forever cast out of heaven (Apoc 12:3-10; Luke 10:18; 2 Pet 2:4).


Question 59- The Pope's heretical statement

Mr. Sungenis,

Just a point...In your critique of Larson, you said this:

"For example, in his General Audience address of August 1999, John Paul II stated: “Eternal damnation remains a real possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of whether or which human beings are effectively involved in it.” These words were then recorded in L’Osservatore Romano, August 4, 1999."

You then said that..." we must conclude that a “Wednesday General Audience” is not an “authentic” vehicle for the teaching authority of the pope. If it was, then we could convict John Paul II of heresy for his statement about hell. It is precisely because the “Wednesday General Audience” is NOT an “authentic” vehicle for “teaching authority” that John Paul II escapes censure for his statement about hell."

I was always led to believe that in order for something to be heretical, it must be manifestly against an article of faith. But in his statement about hell being a "possibility," he is not denying that hell does infact exist. His statement can be read as a kind of a truism. The fact that he said REAL possibility even makes the issue more probable than simply "possible."

Moreover, it is also true that without Divine Revelation, we are not granted the knowledge of whether or which human beings are in hell. (However, the fact is that we DO have Divine Revelation, do we DO know whether or which...").

Can you please explain, what exactly could we pin the Pope down on in order to convict him of heresy? Thank you very much,


R. Sungenis: Damien, first, the fact that the Insengamenti revised the pope's statement means that someone knew that what the pope said was wrong. Granted, to be convicted of heresy a person must expressly deny an article of the faith and must persist in that denial even after admonition. When I said he could be convicted of heresy, I was referring to the hypothetical scenario of a pope persisting in a heretical teaching. We've already had one pope convicted of heresy (Honorius I) so it is possible for others as well.

As for your statement: "Moreover, it is also true that without Divine Revelation, we are not granted the knowledge of whether or which human beings are in hell. (However, the fact is that we DO have Divine Revelation, do we DO know whether or which...")," the fact is, that there are two kinds of revelation: (a) divine revelation, and (b) special divine revelation. The first is contained in Scripture and confirmed by the dogmatic teaching of the Church, the second comes when God speaks directly to us. In other words, the pope's words meant that we cannot know whether human beings go to hell unless God gives us an additional "special" revelation, over and above what we now possess. That is a false, and heretical, statement. We already know from divine revelation contained in Scripture and Church teaching that at least some human beings will be in hell, we just don't know who they will be. Only God knows. Evidently, someone else also caught the pope's error, and thus the Insengamenti changed his statement to say merely that we don't know "which" human beings will be involved, and that is a true statement.


Question 60- Geocentrism


I've been reading the discussions between you and Gary and I have a suggestion to make. It seems to me that a lot of this discussion could be avoided if someone from the geocentrist camp would give us a simplified overview of the physics behind geocentricism.

The main difficulty with geocentricism is that it lacks a set of laws that can explain the physical phenomena we see.

For instance, I've found a web site that shows the three different systems (Copernican, Ptolemaic, Tychonian) at work.

(hint: select 'months'. Click on Model to cycle between the different systems.)

No one will dispute that mathematically these three systems are equivalent, in that they each place the planets in the same position as viewed from the earth. All three systems are identical in that respect. But the heliocentric model eventually won out because Newton explained the force behind the motion. He discovered that the force of attraction between any two bodies is simply the product of their masses multiplied by a constant, and divided by the square of the distance between them.

The geocentric models could never postulate a force that drove their respective motions. Since neither geocentric model could show what force or forces could produce the motions of the geocentric system, eventually they were dropped from consideration. Mathematics doesn't matter when you can understand how one model works, but can't understand how the other one does.

Gravitational force accounts for why smaller objects always revolve around more massive objects. In the heliocentric model, all of the observed motion, including satellite motion, can be accounted for with that one formula.

All geocentrists need to do, then, is show us the physics that drive the geocentric model, and that can account for all the observations we see. Then they are done. They don't need to bother trying to poke holes in the heliocentric model. All they have to do is explain how things work in their

Please give us a layman's view of how the geocentric model works (i.e., the forces that make the planets move they way the would in the geocentric model).

Please don't refer us to some other web site. I've tried reading other geocentrist web sites and they either don't address the question or their physics are way too complicated to understand. I'm sure if you understand them, you can explain them in layman's terms to us.

Marty Rothwell

R. Sungenis: Dear Marty,

I appreciate the concern and the question. Let me see if I can help. First, allow me to analyze your premises. You write:

"All three systems are identical in that respect. But the heliocentric model eventually won out because Newton explained the force behind the motion. He discovered that the force of attraction between any two bodies is simply the product of their masses multiplied by a constant, and divided by the square of the distance between them."

The fact is that Newton's inverse square law is not exclusive to the heliocentric model, and more importantly, since Newton could not explain the nature of gravity (that is, what caused it), he could neither prove that the gravitational attraction (and indirectly, the inverse square law) was caused by two bodies in near vicinity, nor disprove that it was a combination of all the forces in the universe on the particular locale where two bodies were situated.

Newton showed this dilemma in two ways: (a) his famous spinning bucket of water experiment and (b) his theory of "action-at-a-distance," both of which are related and neither of which Gary has addressed.

In the former, Newton said the water curves up the side of the bucket because rotation creates a force, and this force acts against "absolute space" which allows the leverage to pull the water upwards (although Newton could not explain why a rotating object creates such a force, nor did he explain the substance of "absolute space").

So, if you want to use Newton as your proof, then you need to prove there is an "absolute space," and you need to show the origin of the force that is making the water climb the side of the bucket.

But here's the caveat: If you can prove all these Newtonian issues, then you've just destroyed Einstein's Relativity, for Relativity does not believe in "absolute space," and it had no explanation for the forces associated with rotation, except to appeal to the gravity of the stars, via Ernst Mach.

While you are at it, you will also have to explain "action-at-a-distance," that is, how can the force of gravity be transported instantaneously between distant objects (e.g., the stars and our solar system, since it is claimed that the sun goes around the Milky Way) without having a medium to do so (since "absolute space" does not act as a medium but can only contain a medium), and how can you claim any such answer without knowing the nature of gravity in the first place (what makes gravity function)?

Incidentally, Mach's solution to the bucket problem, which was opposed to Newton's absolute space, says that the force of all the stars is acting upon the water and keeping it curved. Einstein's solution was similar, although he said the stars create pockets of "gravitational potentials" all over the universe, and it was the gravitational potential in the vicinity of the earth which kept the water curved.

Thus, in my appeal to the stars as one of the forces acting upon us, I am in good company as far as the scientific community is concerned. Newton, on the other hand, didn't explain a whole lot, but he was great with numbers. :)

I bring up these contrasts because they are precisely the points Gary and I have been arguing. Gary, following Newton, keeps insisting that gravitational attraction is limited to bodies in the near vicinity. I am arguing that gravitational attraction includes the mass of stars around us. If I am right, then the inverse square law, although from the limited Newtonian perspective appears to be merely a product of the two bodies (earth and sun), has, inadvertently, already included the force from the stars, but without knowing it. It doesn't know it, and couldn't know it, because it has no explanation for the nature of gravity nor a way to disprove action-at-a-distance. In other words, if we take away the stars, the gravitational attraction between two bodies (e.g., earth and sun) would not be the inverse square law. It would be some other fixed formula, whatever that may be.

Thus, your appealing to the inverse square law as some kind of sure-fire proof of heliocentrism is simply unprovable. The only thing you know for sure is that there is a mathematical formula that matches the inverse distance and mass of two objects, but you don't know the origin or nature of that force to claim that it is only a product of those two bodies' distance and mass. That being the case, the inverse square law proves neither heliocentrism nor geocentrism.

The problem with modern science is that, in order to explain all these difficulties, they mix and match different physics systems until they get what they want. For example, they use Newton's inverse square law to send up a satellite, but they don't believe in Newton's "absolute space" nor "action-at-a-distance," since they think space is "curved" and gravity only travels at the speed of light.

Or, they use the inverse square law and Kepler's law to determine the orbit of a planet, yet they also claim that the planet is following the path of "curved space," and claim that the stars have helped formed the curved space the planet is following.

They say that a planet stays in orbit by centripetal force as if the planet is tied by a string with gravity, but have no explanation for why there is centrifugal force, other than depending on either Mach or Einstein to come to the rescue.

This mixing and matching is an indication of one thing: they don't know what's going on out there.

All in all, Marty, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. Pick either Newton, Mach or Einstein, but you can't have all three. If you want to argue Newton, then remain with Newton, and adopt "absolute space," "action-at-a-distance," no explanation for centrifugal force, and no explanation for gravity and thus no proof for what causes the inverse square law and thus no disproof of geocentrism and its relation to the stars.

If you want to use Mach and Einstein, then you implicitly accept that the stars play the greater part in all the forces we see, including the orbits of the planets and why water climbs the side of a spinning bucket.

As for geocentrism, we have the components we need to make things work.

1) We have a rotating universe that creates angular momentum, and the angular momentum is transferred to the galaxies (which is why they spin) and to the solar systems (which is why they spin), and we've already been given a formula for it by Ozernoy.

2) We have an aether, which Dirac told us is made up of electron-positron pairs;

3) An aether that Quantum Mechanics told us includes particles in the Planck dimensions (but, unlike them, we don't believe they "pop in and out" of existence but are actually a permanent part of the cosmos, otherwise the First Law of Thermodynamics would be violated);

4) An aether that astrophysics told us includes a neutrino sea;

5) An aether that Reber, Penzias and Wilson told us resonates at 2.7 degrees Kelvin. (Converely, Big Bangers can't tell us where 95% of the mass is that is needed to hold the universe together).

6) An aethere that Michelson/Morley and every other interferometer, maser, laser and resonator experiment told us moves against the Earth at about 3-4 km/sec.

7) The aether, and its varying components, also gives us the reason why there is gravity (disequilibrium in the aether balance, either mechanical or electrical),

8) And we have the mechanism that can transport gravity at great distances in little time, since the reaction time in a Planck-dimension firmament is at least 10^74 km/sec.

9) And, as you've already admitted, we have the necessary geometry, either in a revised Ptolemaic system or a Tychonic system.

So, unless you know of something, I don't think we're missing anything.

And all that I offer is based on the latest science, not to mention Paul V, Urban VIII, Alexander VII, the early Fathers, Thomas Aquinas and the medievals, and last but not least, Scripture itself, plainly interpreted.

Your move.

Robert Sungenis


Question 61- Geocentrism 2

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your kind reply. I'm not trying to argue one system over the other, I'm asking if you could fill in these gaps in the logic I have so I can see how you draw the conclusions you've come to. Please note, I'm not saying geocentricism is right or wrong. Right now, I'm not drawing any conclusions about geocentricism. It seems that in your argument, you go from point A to G, and I still need to see steps B through F to see how you got there.

For instance, you mention that the inverse square law may be a simplification or an overlay of another law that has all of the other bodies in the universe actually pulling the bodies together. If Newton's laws are an oversimplification or overlay of some other law, then what is that other law? Can you tell us the formula for it?

R. Sungenis: Marty, even in the upper echelons of the physics community they have said the same thing I am saying. For example, the Brans-Dicke alternative to General Relativity uses Mach's principle to calculate what the force of the universe is that makes up the Gravitational Constant. Robert Dicke was one of the most renowned astronomers of the twentieth century, probably next to Hubble. According to Dicke, to calculate the gravitational effect of the universe on two bodies in the near vicinity (i.e., the inverse square law), one would need to determine the radius of the universe, multiply the radius by the square of the speed of light, and then divided the result by the mass of the universe, and then multiply by the volume of sphere. The resulting number should equal the gravitational constant, G, which is 0.0000000667 cm3/grams/second2. Dicke came within a factor of 100 using a 10 billion light-year radius and 200 grams per cubic million kilometers. (We can come closer with the right parameters). This theory was so successful in the 1960s that it started to replace GR, and no one has disproven it. I'm not saying I accept BD's theory (because they believe in curved space-time like Einstein, which I do not accept). The only reason I am telling you this is so that you know I'm not pulling out of thin air the supposition that the universe is affecting what goes on in our little Earth.


Question 62- Creation versus Evolution

Dear Robert

I recently came across the following two quotes:

"President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): "Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science-that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was."

"It was reported on 24 October, 1996, that Pope John Paul II "broke new ground" in a statement to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in which he said that evolution was "more than a hypothesis".

As a catholic, which should I believe?


R. Sungenis: Walt, you should believe what Vatican I taught, dogmatically, about creation. This is what it says in Canon 5:

"If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been created by God from nothing, let him be anathema.


Question 63- "What Would Happen if Earth Didn't Rotate"?

R. Sungenis: Jo,

In reply to the newspaper article you sent from the Coeur d'Alene Press regarding Mr. Cliff Harris' assertion that there would be no Coriolis forces and thus no mixing of air currents on Earth and thus the creation of global drought that could not sustain life on Earth, would only have the possibility of being correct if both the Earth and the universe were stationary. But those of us who believe in geocentrism understand that the universe is rotating around a fixed earth, not that the earth and universe are stationary.

According to modern physics, it is impossible to determine whether the Earth is rotating in a fixed universe or the universe is rotating around a fixed earth, since physically and mathematically they are the same. Mach and Einstein both agreed to this.

Hence, if the earth were not rotating, then the stars would be rotating around a fixed earth and would create the same Coriolis forces that Mr. Harris believes are occurring only from a rotating earth. In other words, nothing would change in the whether patterns, at least from a geocentric or geostatic perspective.

From another perspective, however, I don't think Mr. Harris could presume that there would be no mixing of air currents in a non-rotating earth, even if it weren't in the co-equivalent universe I described above. The reason I say this is that, it has NOT been proven that Coriolis forces are the cause of air currents and mixture. The Coriolis forces are much too weak to be responsible for such dramatic results. You might have heard that some people attribute the direction water goes down a drain (clockwise or counter-clockwise) to Coriolis forces, but most scientists recognize that the Coriolis forces have little or nothing to do with it.

A further proof of this is the planet Venus. Venus has a very thick atmosphere, and there are violent winds on Venus, some going hundreds of miles per hour. Thus, the air (whatever its composition) is being mixed rather thoroughly. But the truth is that Venus has virtually no rotation. In a Venutian year's time, the planet may rotate only once or twice, whereas Mr. Harris believes the earth rotates 365 times a year. Yet Venus has more "air mixture" than Earth. Hence, the issue of what causes air currents is much more complicated than simple rotation can provide.

Robert Sungenis


Question 64- Did Vatican II make the Eucharist Symbolic?

Hello, Robert:

In answering Teodoro's question as to why the laity
abstain from drinking from the chalice, you ended with
this statement:

>>But since the liberals coming from Vatican II began
teaching that the laity are the real "body of Christ,"
and that the host was merely symbolic, they changed
the orientation of the priest to face the laity. In a
sense, the laity had taken the place of both God and
the host, and thus the priest needed to face them.<<

I don't mean to sound snitty, but surely you jest when
you state that following Vatican II, the host was
merely symbolic!!! Now you do qualify it in referring
to the liberals coming from VaticanII......but that
leaves the whole question as to who is a liberal and
who isn't? there are foxes in sheep's clothing, ok?
Is one to ask their priest what he believes regarding
the host? and then take a poll of the parishioners?
Come on, Robert.......I have heard few post conciliar
folk say the host is but a symbol. and if they do say
that, they are NOT Catholics; they are heretics. Of
course that is my view....

And doesn't it also seem to question the validity of
Vatican II?


R. Sungenis: Anne, I'm not quite sure what your question is. If it's regarding Vatican II, then the liberals' interpretation of the Eucharist makes no reflection on Vatican II itself. Vatican II was a legitimate ecumenical council, and it did not teach that the Eucharist is symbolic. The Catholic liberals (Rahner, Schillebeeckx, Kung, et al), however, were teaching the idea of "transignification" rather than "transubstantiation." It was Annabale Bugnini, a liberal himself, who had accepted this new understanding, and who was the chief architect of the Novus Ordo Missae. It wasn't until he was later exposed as a Freemason that he was expelled from the Vatican by Paul VI, but the damage had already been done to the Mass. So, while the words of consecration remained (by strict order of Paul VI against those liberals who sought to change it), still, the rubrics (priest facing away) of the Mass had been changed without Paul VI realizing its implications.


Question 65- Question on the Eucharist in Luke 22:19

Hi Bob,

I am currently in discussions with a Protestant friend of mine on the Eucharist. We were discussing Jesus' phrase "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19) and I was arguing that the plain meaning of the text was that what Jesus meant by " DO THIS" was refer to the "this is my body" (ie the command to institute the sacrifice - the giving of His body) as outlined in your book on pp 121-122. My friend seems to interpret the passage differently. His interpretation is:

LK 22:19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

You claim that the 'this' being referred to is the saying of the words "This is my body..." by which Jesus transubstantiated the bread into the body of Christ. And you suggest that this is the natural reading of the passage.

The structure of this sentence is that we have four verbs describing what Jesus did (took, gave-thanks, broke and gave) and then we have a participle (saying) which most likely modifies the last verb, 'gave' (ie Jesus spoke these words as he was giving them the bread). Grammatically it would be more natural for the phrase 'do this' to refer back to the previous verb (or as I would argue in this case, group of connected verbs). Thus I think the most natural reading is to understand 'do this' to be referring to all of Jesus actions and words. In other words he is telling the disciples not only to speak the words 'this is my body...' but also to break the bread, give thanks and give it to those who will be present (which we can imply from the previous verses means that they are to eat it).

It seems to me that your argument focuses more on the context of " Do this" in relation to the actual words Jesus spoke and not in the context of the entire sentence?? (I'm only guessing here?) Could you please help me out with how we are to properly interpret this verse from scripture?

God's peace


R. Sungenis: He is conflating two separate issues. The first issue is: what does "This is" refer to? The second issue is: what does "do this" refer to? Your question concerned the first issue, but he ended up answering the second issue. His answer to the second issue (that is, that "this" refers back to four verbs) does little to deny that the bread has become the body of Christ. Since one of those verbs has indicated that the bread became the body of Christ, then it makes little difference how many verbs "do this" refers to. If "do this" refers to the act of transubstantiating the bread into the body of Chirst, then that action is included in what "do this" refers to.


Question 66- Why did Mary come to Fatima, of all places?

Mr. Sungenis,

I recently learned that Muhammad's daughter's name was Fatima. It is rather curious when you think about it.

St. Paul says that Hagar (the mother of the Arabs) is Sinai. His exact words are: "now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children" (Gal 4:25). Even though Hagar was not around when the Law was given on Mount Sinai, she still lived "under the Law" as it were, for it was through her that Abraham and Sarah tried to force God to give them the promised child (Isaac). Hagar gave birth to Ishmael then, in the effort to place God in a position where He would have to shed His blessings. Perhaps the reason that she corresponds to the "present Jerusalem" is because at that time, the Jews were laboring under the Law, also trying to force the blessings out of God, as it were (as even the Zionists do today, I believe).

Fatima then, being a descendant of Ishmael, is the "result" or fruit of dealing with God as though He were a legal entity only. Fatima is become the "daughter of Sinai" and she corresponds to anyone laboring under the Law, i.e., anyone not living in God's grace.

But then St. Paul says, "but the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother" (Gal 4:26). With a bit of insight, couldn't we say that in this passage, St. Paul is referring to Mary? In the very same chapter, Paul writes: "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4). The "woman" of this passage is evidently Mary. When we become adopted, we become adopted as sons of God, but also as sons of Mary, since Jesus is man as well as God. We who believe are no longer sons of Hagar, slaves to the law and ignorant of grace, but we become sons of Mary, living in freedom, under His grace.

Fatima then is the (slave) daughter of Sinai, and Mary, by contrast would be the (free) daughter of Zion. Mary is the sister of Fatima, but Mary is free and Fatima is not.

Do you agree with this interpretation?

R. Sungenis: I wouldn't have too much of a problem with it.

Why do you think that Mary chose Fatima as the place where she would appear?

Some say that Mary came to Fatima to help along the Catholic-Muslim relations. What are your thoughts on that?

Thanking you very much,


R. Sungenis: I don't think Mary was concerned about Catholic-Muslim relations, at least she gave no indication she was concerned. Her concern was only Russia, and at that time Russia did not contain a high concentration of Muslims. The Bolsheviks were in charge, and most of them were Jewish, not Catholic or Muslim. I believe Mary chose Fatima due to the faithfulness of the people who lived there.


Question 67- Cremation Concerns

Robert, thank you for your analysis and conclusions regarding the ongoing requirement for women to cover their heads in Church. I believe your analysis of canon law is spot on.

But I am concerned with the Church potentially changing her position on cremation. I know you have said you believe cremation is still prohibited, and we can make that argument canonically using the same canons we use to show head covering is still required (law not presumed abrogated unless expressly so; immemorial custom, etc.). But my issue is with CCC 2301. Yes, it makes reference to CIC 1176.3, but the CCC 2301 statement differs from the CIC 1176.3 statement.

CCC 2301 says "The Church permits cremation, provided it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body."

1. This is a positive statement, unlike the negative statement in CIC 1176.3. The positive statement permits cremation (unless you deny faith in the resurrection). This means just what it says, that I am permitted to be cremated unless I deny faith in the resurrection. If I don't deny the resurrection, even if I am not ignorant, I can be cremated.

2. The negative statement, while stated in the negative, also permits cremation unless it is chosen for reasons contrary to Christian teaching. I don't see how the negative statement requires one to demonstrate Christian reasons for choosing cremation. It only requires one who has chosen cremation not to have chosen cremation for non-Christian reasons. For example, if I choose cremation for financial reasons, but do not deny the resurrection, the Church does not prohibit the cremation canonically, because I have not chosen cremation for non-Christian reasons.

3. The issue of cremation also differs from the head covering issue because of the statement in the Catechism. With regard to head coverings, the Catechism is silent, and there is no magisterial teaching abrogating the head covering custom. Thus, we can argue that the Church has not revoked the immemorial custom of head covering (and only the Church's magisterium could revoke such a custom; canon law could not).

But with cremation, the Catechism is not silent. It says that the Church permits cremation unless faith in the resurrection is denied. Of course, I want to believe and will argue that a single statement from the Catechism does not revoke an immemorial custom. No way. But can we be so sure? Such a statement contradicts the 2,000 year-old Tradition of the Church. If the Church really does not permit cremation, than why does she say that she does?

4. Also, with head coverings, the 1983 code is silent (hence, we can apply canons 20, 21, and 28 to support the position that head coverings are still required). With cremation, the 1983 code is not silent. It provides that cremation is not prohibited unless chosen for anti-Christian reasons.

Therefore, the statement from the Catechism, coupled with the 1983 canon, clearly distinguish the head covering issue from the cremation issue. In my view, these developments suggest that the Church has changed her position, at least from an absolute to a relative position, regarding cremation (unlike the head covering requirement which has not changed, but is simply not enforced). I welcome your thoughts.


R. Sungenis: John, yes, I can agree with you to a certain extent. CCC 2301 makes it more difficult, and thus makes it a different matter than the head covering issue. I would maintain, however, that the words "The Church permits cremation..." is still not a definitive ruling on the issue. The 1917 code "permitted" cremation also, but it was only in special cases. Thus, to simply say, "The Church permits cremation" does not really address the whole issue.

If someone were to raise the argument that CCC 2301 goes on to qualify the directive by saying "provided it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body," someone could argue that any use of cremation, outside of war or disease, implies a denial of the faith or a denial in the resurrection, for that, according to previous Canon Law and Tradition, was precisely why the Church had forbidden cremation. We can make such an analysis because CCC 2301 has opened itself up to examine the motive of the participant.

I will admit that, in the end, the 1983 code has sought to relax the issue, but I don't think it has done a very good job of it at all.


Question 68- Who Was the Beloved Disciple?

Hello Mr. Sungenis,
Thank you for replying to my previous questions. I appreciate it very much.
This last one has been on my mind for at least a year:
Is the beloved disciple John the Apostle? I have heard it said that the
beloved disciple is a Judean disciple, not a Galilean, thus ruling out John,
son of Zebedee. Yet, as far as I know, tradition almost always seems to
identify the beloved disciple with the apostle John. Also, can you recommend
any books on the background/history/context of the New Testament from a
conservative perspective?

God bless,
Joshua Vargas

R. Sungenis: Joshua, I don't have a list of books that would give you a conservative background to the NT, but I am forwarding this email to a colleague of mine who may know some for you. His name is Sal, and he will contact you if he can help.

As for John, he was a Galilean. All the apostles were Galilean, except for Judas, who was from Judah.


Question 69- How do we Explain Romans 3:23 to Protestants?


I would ask a question :

- Concerning the evangelical "all have sinned" objection to the immaculate conception of Mary, I have read numerous rebuttals. They are often very clever and interesting.
But in my own experience, these rebuttals are seen as "twisting the scriptures" by evangelicals (of course, I don't think so).
Can another way of answering "all have sinned" objection, completely different, be used ?
I mean not in showing that "all" doesn't always mean "every one without exception", but by using another objection like this :

" OK, you say "all have sinned" is a powerful anti-catholic verse because "all" exluce Mary to be immaculate at birth,
BUT if you mean that "all" means without exception, so you are for infant baptisms, because it's written : "And when he had brought them into his own house, he laid the table for them: and rejoiced with ALL his house, believing God."(Acts16/34), all the house including at this time the children as well as the adults"

The interest I see with this rebuttal would be that : it would show fundamentalists self contradictions in their reading of the Bible : if immaculate conception is false because of "all", so infant baptism is true because of "all".
And if they want to prove infant baptism is wrong they would themselves have to prove that "all" doesn't necessarily mean "every one without exception". So they would do the job instead of us; It could have more impact on the credibility of our rebuttal. Because they would themselves give us the material to show that "all have sinned" isn't a good argument against immaculate Mary.

Do you think this objection can be used?

Thanks for your answer.


R. Sungenis: I don't think I would argue the case that way. I think the best argument, besides the fact that "all" can have exceptions, is that the context of Romans 3 is concerned with the connection between Jews and Gentiles, not individuals. The Jews thought that they were exempt from sin because they were circumcised, while they thought the Gentiles were the only sinners in the world. Thus, Paul spends the whole context of Romans 1-3 explaining to the Jews that they are sinners just like the Gentiles, in fact, they often sin more than the Gentiles. Thus, the point is, you cannot interpret Romans 3:23 without its context, and the context is not discussing Mary, or angels, or anyone else, except the major categories of Jews and Gentiles. Anyone who tries to make any more of it is simply taking things out of context.


Question 70- Would a Person Weigh More on one Side of the Earth?

Dear CAI representative,
I have read about your challenge for someone to submit a disproof of geocentrism but I could not find where I would send such a thing. In any event, I am a fan of geocentrism and would like to accept it, in the form espoused by Brahe, but the following question puzzles me; how would Dr. Sungenis address it?
In the heliocentric model, the weight of a person on earth is essentially independent, if I am not mistaken, of any effects of the sun. This is because the earth is, to use the popular phrase, in free fall around the sun. Thus any objects attached to the earth are apparently unaffected by the position of the sun. On the other hand, in the geocentric model, a person should weigh more a midnight than at noon, because at midnight, the sun and earth pull on the person in the same direction whereas at noon, they pull in the same direction. I think physicists would say something to the effect that the sun is a more nearly inertial frame than the earth. Thus Newton's second law will encounter difficulties if applied on the earth rather than with respect to the sun.
Thus the experiment to disprove geocentrism would run as follows:
1.Assume Newton's universal law of gravitation.
2.Measure the weight of a person on the equator at noon and then at midnight numerous times using highly accurate equipment.
3.Compare these results with what one should observe with the earth at the center, namely: W(noon)=m(g-a), W(midnight)=m(g+a). Here a is the acceleration of gravity produced by the sun and is approximately equal to .0337 m/s/s, or about g/290.
4.If the data conflict with the geocentric hypothesis, it is called into doubt.
Please forgive me, if my reasoning is poor or if you have seen this argument many times over. By the way, if Dr. Sungenis believes the earth to be not rotating as well as not revolving, then while I can entertain the latter, I have serious problems with the former, for a person's weight is reduced owing to the rotation of the earth by a very slight amount. If the earth were spinning approximately 17 times faster, we would be weightless.
In all of the above, I admit, I have assumed that there might be or should be experiments to back up my claims, but I have been operating from a standard geocentric, earth rotating point of view. I admit, I know of no actual experiments which bear out my latter claim.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
John Carter

Dear Sir,
I wrote earlier about a possible test for geocentrism but I think I may have found a hole in the logic. It seems possible that in the geocentric model, a person would weigh the same no matter where the sun is. For at noon, the sun, while reducing the person's net force would at the same time attract the scale on which the person was weighing himself and at midnight, the person's weight would be greater, but the scale is pushed into the ground, so to speak, away from our friend's feet.
What do you think?
John Carter

R. Sungenis: John, yes, I think your logic is correct, provided that the sun is involved in the gravitational attraction.


Question 71- Can We Receive Sacraments from the SSPX, Part II?

Hi Robert. Since I can't read what you say about SSPX, and the validity of the NO Mass, I have to follow up on my question. thank you so much for answering me. I know you are busy.

This is the consecration formula in the Roman Mass: "For this is the Chalice of My Blood of the new and eternal covenant: the mystery of faith: which shall be shed for you and for many unto the forgiveness of sins.

As often as you shall do these things in memory of Me shall you do them."

I have listened to several tapes of Fr. Malachi Martin, being interviewed and he states that the NO Mass is invalid -
1) He says they changed the "mystery of faith" and it now takes on a different meaning.
2) Also the change of "the many" into "all" in the NO at the consecration of the Chalice is a major change.
3) Additionally, they removed the signification of sacrifice and replaced it with "a meal".
4) Also I noticed (Fr. Martin doesn't mention this) the "do this in memory of me" actually slants towards the Protestant meaning of communion, but the Traditional Latin words "As often as you shall do these things, in memory of Me shall you do them" seems to convey the Catholic meaning that this is a sacrament, and the remembrance is secondary to that.
5) What about Quo Primum - by Pope St. Pius V in 1549 (during or right after the Council of Trent?). At one point Pius V says " Let Masses not be sung or read according to any other formula than that of this Missal published by Us. This ordinance applies henceforth, now and forever, throughout all the provinces of the Christian world, to all patriarchs, cathedral churches, collegiate and parish churches, be they secular or religious, both of men and of women -even of military orders..." I have enclosed the 2 page document as an attachment.

Fr. Martin recommends that one not go to a NO Mass unless they know the Priest well and can ask him what words he will be using for the consecration, and find out his intention, because without the intention to consecrate the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord it is not valid either. He said many Priests believe it is just a symbol, like Protestants do. He also says that going to SSPX is not wrong. I have read also that the schism and excommunication cannot stand up against canon law, because Archbishop LeFavre found it "necessary" to consecrate bishops. Fr. Martin says if it hadn't been for Archbishop LeFavre we wouldn't have the Traditional Latin Mass today. He was given the grace to stand up to the liberals, and we have benefited.

Would you be willing to comment on that?

Thank you!


R. Sungenis: Nancy, one thing you need to get very clear in your head. No priest or bishop or cardinal is the head of the Church, including Fr. Martin. It really doesn't matter what anyone else says. The ultimate authority is the pope. His final decision is all that matters, and all that counts. That is what makes us the "Catholic Church." If Paul VI said that NO Mass was valid, then it is valid. No one on this earth has the authority to contravene him. Those that do put themselves in dire peril with God. If there is one thing with which God is very strict -- it is authority, whether that authority is good, bad or indifferent. There are countless examples in the OT showing this, as well as from Church history.

Now to your specific points:

1) He says they changed the "mystery of faith" and it now takes on a different meaning.

RS: The "mystery of faith" is not a dogmatic necessity. It wasn't in the original Eucharistic prayer said by Jesus, so it is of no consequence in the confection of the Eucharist. END

2) Also the change of "the many" into "all" in the NO at the consecration of the Chalice is a major change.

RS: "Many" and "all" are interchangeable terms. Scripture interchanges them quite frequently, as do many Church documents. (e.g., Mt 26:28; Lk 22:20; Mt 20:28; 1 Tim 2:6; 1 Tim 2:4; 1 John 2:2; Lk 3:6; Jn 6:51; Heb 9:28) END

3) Additionally, they removed the signification of sacrifice and replaced it with "a meal".

RS: There might be less emphasis on sacrifice, but it is not absent from the NO Mass. The word "sacrifice" in reference to the Eucharist appears about a half-dozen times in the NO Mass. END

4) Also I noticed (Fr. Martin doesn't mention this) the "do this in memory of me" actually slants towards the Protestant meaning of communion, but the Traditional Latin words "As often as you shall do these things, in memory of Me shall you do them" seems to convey the Catholic meaning that this is a sacrament, and the remembrance is secondary to that.

RS: It makes little difference. Jesus said simply "Do this in memory of me." END

5) What about Quo Primum - by Pope St. Pius V in 1549 (during or right after the Council of Trent?). At one point Pius V says " Let Masses not be sung or read according to any other formula than that of this Missal published by Us. This ordinance applies henceforth, now and forever, throughout all the provinces of the Christian world, to all patriarchs, cathedral churches, collegiate and parish churches, be they secular or religious, both of men and of women -even of military orders..." I have enclosed the 2 page document as an attachment.

RS: Yes, that applied in Pius V's reign, and in the reign of any pope who chose to follow it. However, Pius V's statement is not irreformable Catholic dogma. Any pope who wishes to change the rubrics of the Mass can do so, provided that the essential elements regarding the confection of the Eucharist remain. Paul VI was very careful to maintain them. In fact, he had to correct the Eucharistic formula against some liberals who had tried to change it. END

Fr. Martin recommends that one not go to a NO Mass unless they know the Priest well and can ask him what words he will be using for the consecration, and find out his intention, because without the intention to consecrate the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord it is not valid either. He said many Priests believe it is just a symbol, like Protestants do.

RS: Again, Fr. Martin is not the pope. In fact, as good a man as he was, he was a laicized priest. Although it is true that the priest's intention must be present. But if the Church has taught that the NO Mass confects the Eucharist, and the priest has take a vow to uphold that teaching of the Church, then it can be assumed that the priest saying the Mass upholds the Catholic doctrine, and it would take an explicit denial from him, before the Mass started, for us to judge him as not having the right intention. END

He also says that going to SSPX is not wrong. I have read also that the schism and excommunication cannot stand up against canon law, because Archbishop LeFavre found it "necessary" to consecrate bishops. Fr. Martin says if it hadn't been for Archbishop LeFavre we wouldn't have the Traditional Latin Mass today. He was given the grace to stand up to the liberals, and we have benefited.

RS: Fr. Martin is wrong. It is wrong to go to the SSPX because the present pope said so in a formal and official juridical decision. The only allowance we have is that we could, in certain circumstances, receive the sacraments from an SSPX priest. As for Archbishop Lefebvre, his excommunication stands until the pope rescinds it. The pope is the final interpreter of Canon Law, not you or I or anyone else. As for whether we would have had a TLM today, my belief is that if Archbishop Lefebvre had been more patient and not tried to take things into his own hands, the pope would eventually have given him the Latin Mass and his bishops. As it stands now, the SSPX is on the outside looking in. Their recent troubles with two priests they had to let go because of insubordination shows that they are going to have the same internal dissension that the pope had with Lefebvre. If they haven't learned that the buck stops with the pope, then they haven't learned anything about the Catholic Church, sorry to say.


Question 72- Can We Make Vows or Promises?

Mr Sungenis,

Jesus tells us not to swear. You noted that this is overlooked in the court of law, or at other times when we are legally required to swear. But can we "promise" God that we will do certain things? For example, can the Christian "promise" God that he will, say, not eat Chocolate during Lent, or that he will get up extra early to pray? I am definitely confused about this question, because even in Confession, we "resolve" never to sin again. So, even in confession, we don't "promise"...rather we "resolve." And when the new year comes around, we make new years "resolutions," but never "promises."

It seems to me that a "resolution" is somewhat weaker than a promise, such that if we compromise our "resolutions," we compromise only a principle. But if we compromise a promise we let someone down. What I am trying to say is, promises are person-directed and person-motivated, where as "resolutions" are principle directed and principle motivated.

But when I read the Psalms, David says with excitement "I will fulfill my vows to God." And David does seem rather excited to fulfill his vows to the Almighty God. I wish that I could share in that excitement too. In real life, we make promises to people all the time. And if our heart is in the right place, we enjoy following up on our promises, only to see the element of joy in the other person. And sometimes, by making a promise, we give ourselves that extra bit of motivation we need to complete some task - our motivation being seeing the joy of the other person.

So, considering Jesus warning not to swear, can a Christian in conscience make promises to God? And if a Christian can make promises to God, what is the difference between swearing and promising, practically speaking? I look forward to anything you have to say on this. Thank you very much,


R. Sungenis: Damien, yes, we can make promises to God, but only when God requires that we do so. For example, when we get married, we make a "promise" or "vow" to God and our spouse that we will be faithful. In a court of law, we are required to make a "vow" of telling the truth. We don't make "resolutions" in such cases, because they, quite frankly, aren't good enough. Vows are made with the intention of keeping them, at all costs; and if the vow is not kept, then a punishment ensues, which is generally very severe.

Thus, we do not make a practice of making "vows" or "promises" in ordinary life, first because we don't want to commit ourselves to something for which we may change our minds later, and second, we don't want to bring unnecessary punishment upon ourselves. We only make "vows" when the circumstance is very serious.

The Pharisees would make all kinds of frivolous vows, usually in front of a group of people, in order to show how "holy" and "dedicated" to God they were. But when it came time to keep the vow, they would claim that they did not make the vow properly, and thus they claimed to be off the hook. That is an abomination in God's eyes.

So, knowing how sinful we are, Jesus advises that we don't make any such vows at all, but to just tell the truth at all times.

This doesn't mean we can't ever make personal vows to God, but if we do, we better be darn sure we are going to keep the vow, otherwise we will indeed suffer the wrath of God for hypocrisy. If we have the slightest thought that we are not going to keep the vow, then we should not make one. The occasions in which we know for certain we are going to keep the vow are indeed very rare. Hence, only when we are required to make vows (marriage, court, etc) should we then make vows.


Question 73- Are Paradise and Heaven the Same Thing?

Would it be possible to give me a one or two-sentence answer to this question: "Is there a distinct difference in meaning between the word for "heaven" and the word for "paradise" in the Scriptures, and, if so, what is that difference? This would be a big help to me.

R. Sungenis: Hugh, the word "paradise" was a common Greek word, used in the Old Testament LXX about 45 times, mostly with the meaning of "garden" and sometimes "garden of Eden." In one place the LXX translates with "paradise" when the Hebrew refers to "house of the Lord" (Jer 36:5).

In the New Testament "paradise" takes on a spiritual meaning for the first time. It is used in Lk 23:43; 2 Cor 12:3; Apoc 2:7.

Since Apoc 21-22 speaks of the New Jerusalem as a new Edenic paradise, it is understood that "paradise" is a synonym for heaven.

Prior to that, the closest association we have between "heaven" and "paradise" is 2 Cor 12:2-3, where Paul couples the "third heaven" where God dwells, with "paradise."

Still, the natural question would be: If paradise refers to heaven, why didn't the writer just use the word heaven?

The answer lies in the fact that the writer chooses to use "paradise" when he wants to make a sharp departure from pain and suffering. (We see that context in each of the places the New Testament uses paradise (Luke 23:33-46; 2 Cor 12:1-21; Apoc 2-3).

In that sense, there is no better way to describe heaven than to refer to it as a "paradise," and because of this connotation it can be offered as the incentive, par excellence, for being obedient and continuing in suffering, since everyone has a mental picture of the beautiful and serene place paradise is from the Hebrew Scriptures.

As for the destiny of Jesus and the thief in Luke 23:43, as Jesus says that He and the thief will be in "paradise," he is referring to their souls being in heaven that very day, whereas both their bodies were in the grave. The thief would thus be with all the other souls in heaven (Apoc 6:9-10) awaiting the resurrection of the last day (John 5:28-29). Apparently, the thief would not have to suffer Purgatory, probably because his suffering on the cross was satisfactory to atone for his sins; or, we could say that Jesus was giving the first Indulgence of the New Covenant.


Question 74- Can We Receive Sacraments from the SSPX, Part III?

Hi Robert. Thank you so much for your quick response. If you don't mind, I have a couple follow up questions:

Are you saying then, that a person has no recourse to Canon Law if the Pope wants to excommunicate them? What good is law if one cannot appeal to it? Cannot the Pope be wrong?

R. Sungenis: Sure, the pope could be wrong. But unless someone can prove him wrong, and that would have to be in a canonical court, then we can't assume the pope is wrong. According to Vatican I, the pope's disciplinary decisions are the final word. Even a council cannot reverse them. Only another pope could reopen the case and reverse the decision. END

These are some of the arguments from people that I found:
There was a case in Hawaii, where Bishop Ferrario decided to excommunicate some followers of SSPX on 5/1/91 for supporting SSPX and attending their Masses, and receiving a bishop of the SSPX to confer the sacrament of Confirmation. It was overturned by Card. Ratzinger, on 6/28/93 in which he said "From the examination of the case, conducted on the basis of the Law of the Church, it did not result that the facts referred to in the above-mentioned Decree, are formal schismatic acts in the strict sense, as they do not constitute the offense of schism; and therefore the Congregation holds that the Decree of May 1, 1991, lacks foundation and hence validity." (Apostolic Nunciature, Washington DC)

R. Sungenis: The issue here is whether an SSPX priest can confer the sacraments. The answer to that has already been given -- yes. The above issue is not dealing with the canonical status of the SSPX, or whether Archbishop Lefebvre was, indeed, excommunicated. END

Fr. Gerald Murray of the Archdiocese of NY, working for his Canon Law doctorate, received his license in Canon Law from Gregorian University, Rome in 6/95 in a lengthy thesis entitled "The Canonical Status of the Lay Faithful Associated with the Late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X: Are they Excommunicated as Schismatics? In an interview with Latin Mass Magazine said "I have received a license in canon law and I've studied this topic, the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre, for my license thesis…They're not excommunicated as schismatics, as far as I can see, because the Vatican has never said they are…I come to the conclusion that, canonically speaking, he's not guilty of a schismatic act punishable by canon law. He's guilty of an act of disobedience to the Pope, but he did it in such a way that he could avail himself of a provision of the law that would prevent him from being automatically excommunicated (latae sententiae) for this act."

R. Sungenis: Again, it doesn't really matter what Fr. Gerald Murray says. He is merely giving his pious opinion, but it holds no canonical weight. Unless the pope himself says that Lefebvre was not excommunicated and that the SSPX is not in schism, all the opinions in the world don't amount to a hill of beans. As it stands, Ecclesia Dei makes it quite clear where the pope stands, and it is not with Lefebvre and the SSPX. END

Fr. Patrick Valdini, Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law at the Catholic Institute of Paris said that Archbishop Lefebvre did not commit a schismatic act by the consecrations for he didn't deny the Pope's primacy. "It is not the consecration of a bishop which creates the schism. What makes the schism is to give the bishop an apostolic mission." This is something Lefebvre never did.

R. Sungenis: Ditto here, but in addition, I personally think this is a bogus and illogical assertion in itself. I don't know of any distinction canon law makes between consecration of a bishop and giving him an apostolic mission. Lefevbre disobeyed the pope, and then the pope wrote Ecclesia Dei in response, and has never reversed it. Hair-splitting arguments such as the above only show the desperation of the other side. END

Card Castillo Lara, Pres. Of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of Canon Law, explained that "the act of consecrating a bishop (without the Pope's permission) is not in itself a schismatic act" 10/7/88 LaRepubblica.

R. Sungenis: Then I suggest Cardinal Castillo Lara explain that to the pope, and then ask him why he wrote Ecclesia Dei. END

St. Bellarmine said "When the Supreme Pontiff pronounces a sentence of excommunication which is unjust or null, it must not be accepted without, however, straying from the respect due to the Holy See."

R. Sungenis: Again, to prove that a papal decision to excommunicate is "unjust" or "null," it must be proven in a canonical court. This is not a matter left up to the subjective judgment of every Tom, Dick and Harry (or Robert) who has an opinion. END

Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci regarding the Novus Ordo in its official Latin form wrote to Paul VI "the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXIII of the Council of Trent." (9/25/69)

R. Sungenis: Well, that depends on what one means by "striking departure." Evidently, Pope Paul VI did not take it to mean that the Novus Ordo was an invalid Mass, and thus he disagreed with Ottaviani and Bacci. That the Novus Ordo is quite different than the Tridentine mass is obvious, but whether it departs from the "theology of the Mass" from Session XXIII is another story altogether. I wrote a book on the Mass and the Eucharist. I had to investigate all of this. I can safely say that, although the Novus Ordo is a highly watered-down version of the Tridentine Mass, the theology of a propitiatory sacrifice in the Eucharist is still there, and the language that confects the Eucharist is still there, and that is all there really counts in this discussion. END

Also I read that the excommunications are not incurred because:
1) A person who violates a law out of necessity is not subject to a penalty (1983 CCL, 1323) even if there is no state of necessity (the state of necessity, as it is explained by jurists, is a state in which the necessary good for natural or supernatural life are so threatened that one is morally compelled to break the law in order to save them).

R. Sungenis: Well, if the "state of necessity" was based on the idea that the Novus Ordo mass was invalid and therefore Lefebvre needed to consecrate bishops who would celebrate the Tridentine, then his "necessity" is based on a subjective judgment that was already overruled by Paul VI. END

2) (CCL, 1323, 7) says "if one inculpably thought there was (a necessity) he would not incur the penalty and (CCL, 1324, 3, 1, 8) if one culpably thought there was, he would still incur no automatic penalties." "Necessity has no law" This can be a threat against his spiritual goods, his life, his freedom or other earthly goods.

R. Sungenis: True enough. Whether Lefebvre met those requirements has already been ruled on by Pope John Paul II. He said no, otherwise he would have retracted Ecclesia Dei by now, and the Vatican would have restored the SSPX to the Church. END

Therefore, no penalty is ever incurred without committing a subjective mortal sin (canons 1321, 1; 1323, 7). Archbishop L made it clear that he was bound in conscience to do what he could do to continue the Traditional Catholic priesthood, and even if he had been wrong, there would be no subjective sin

R. Sungenis: Unfortunately, the pope didn't see it that way when he wrote Ecclesia Dei. Moreover, this is not something Lefebvre thought up on the spur of the moment. The idea of consecrating his own bishops had been brewing for many years, and it was his trump card against the pope. He had many years to think about what he was doing. And when he finally made his decision, unfortunately for him, the pope called his bluff. END

Also, I read that no "authority" can force a bishop to compromise in his teaching of Catholic faith or administering of Catholic sacraments. With Rome giving no guarantee of preserving Catholic Tradition, Archbishop L. (he had already waited a considerable time, and was quite ill) did what he felt he had to do to guarantee its preservation. It was his duty as a bishop. In his negotiations with the Holy See he was very aware that they were just waiting for him to die so they could stamp out SSPX, and along with it the Traditional Mass.

R. Sungenis: Lefebvre was not gifted with the ability to read people's minds, so this argument will not stand. If he felt that going along with the pope was hurtful to his conscience, then Lefebvre could have easily resigned his office to save his conscience. END

Please let me say here, I definitely respect the authority of the Pope, but I just don't get it…how the only people the Pope has declared excommunicated in his entire pontificate is Catholics who just want to adhere to the Traditions of the Church

R. Sungenis: No, it wasn't that simple. Lefebvre was holding his ground because he thought the whole Church had gone into absolute apostasy, and that he was going to save the Church from having to succumb to that demise. He was wrong. The Church, as weakened as it was after Vatican II, was not in absolute apostasy. The gates of hell have still not prevailed. END

There are "Catholic" people all over openly living in mortal sin and attending communion, and resisting this and that dogma of the Church, and yet the only one "picked on" are these people. I could attending a moslem service, or Orthodox church, and it would be okay with the Vatican of today, but you are saying I would be excommunicated if I attend SSPX churches. I don't get it.

R. Sungenis: The Vatican, and the pope, will have to answer to God for the wrong decisions they have made. That is why the pope takes the papal oath. God will be especially severe upon him for his mistakes. But that doesn't give us an excuse to break the pope's mandates given to him by virtue of Jesus' issuance of the keys to Peter, and which was confirmed by Vatican I. When we stand before God, He is not going to ask us how well the pope did, but how well we did in obeying the pope when we were required to do so. That you can "get" very easily.

Thanks for your time, Robert. Your considered study and opinions are valued.


Ps. One last thing. How will we know when Pope JP2 dies and they chose another Pope if he is "validly" chosen. Are their things to look for?

R. Sungenis: You assume the pope is a valid pope unless a legitimate magisterial and canonical authority proves the election was not valid.


Question 75- How Shall We Bring up Our Children?

Dear Mr. Sungenis.

It is a pleasure to be able to talk to you. I am an evangelical who has read your book Not by Scripture Alone and I think it is good. I like to look at both sides of an issue before I make a decision on something. I never like to hear one side of it. There is a question that I hope you can answer and your answer will be a big determining factor on whether or not I will become catholic in the future. I still have a lot to sort out. A few weeks ago I had read in the missal that Jesus said in Luke 14:27-33 that whoever does not put me before their own families and life they cannot be his followers. Then he said that whoever does not carry ones own cross are not worthy of him. Jesus also said that the biggest divisions will be on one's own family. (Luke 12:58) Now before I get to my point, I want to say that Jesus is saying to people if they do not want to follow him they need to walk away from him because he only wants people willing to suffer for him to follow him. When I was Catholic, many of the people who I had grown up with and went to CCD with did not seem to care about the things of God and were very Anti-God. You can say that in a sense they were like atheists. They only made communion and confirmation because they had to and after they turned 18 they stopped going to church altogether. Yet when someone would try to witness to them from either Catholic or Protestant side, they would say, "I am already a Christian, I was baptized, made communion and confirmation and all of that" Yet this person has no interest in God and holiness. Matthew 7:6 says not to cast pearls before swine for they trample it underfoot. To paraphrase that it says not to try to force external reform on someone who does not want to change their ways. Now what I would like to do if I was a Catholic Parent, would I be allowed to force my kids to go to church with me every Sunday until they turn 18 while withholding them from making communion confession and confirmation until they on their own free will want to follow God? What I would do is try to teach them the things of God through the Ten Commandments, using them so show them how they have sinned and need grace and mercy. And if they reject God they will go to hell. The reason I want to do it this way is I would not want my kids to be just ordinary average nominal Catholics whose behavior is not any different from an atheist. In your discussion with Jason Engwer you stated that faith gives a person a better disposition to do good works. I feel that if you do not believe in God you cannot work for God and making such a person go to communion will not help all that much. I also see how easy it would be for them to go to confession without any genuine remorse or real brokenness. Above all else I would want my kids to have a genuine relationship with God and if they don't then I feel that they should not receive the sacraments. If my idea would be allowed it would probably bring me a step closer to becoming Catholic. Keep up the good work.

Cordially yours,

Nick Zeman

R. Sungenis: Nick, the reason those "Catholic" people seem like atheists is because they probably are. In regard to pretenders filling the church pews, things haven't changed much since the days of Israel or the Pharisees (1 Cor. 10:1-12). The general rule in Scripture is "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov 22:6). The people you see in Catholic churches acting like atheists do so because their "Catholic" parents didn't bring them up in the way real Catholics should practice their faith. But that doesn't mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don't blame the training, blame the parents for not properly training their children. The paradigm of training early, and properly, was given to us by God himself. If you go against this, your children will turn out worse than you expected. Although your reasoning about withholding training and commitment seems logical to you, it is a deception of the devil. The devil wants to get you so frustrated that you begin to make up your own rules, and thereby he gets you as well. Your job is to be the best Catholic parent you can. Don't worry about what other people are doing. False "Catholics" will always be around, and unfortunately, they usually outnumber true Catholics. God be with you.


Question 76- Can We Receive Sacraments from the SSPX, Part IV?

I disagree with you. These people were being excommunicated by their bishop because they were involved in the SSPX parish. You said "it is wrong to go to the SSPX because the present pope said so in a formal and official juridical decision. The only allowance we have is that we could, in certain circumstances, receive the sacraments from an SSPX priest." These people weren't just receiving the sacraments, they were attending the church ("supporting", "attending their Masses", "receiving confirmation from SSPX"). And when they appealed to Rome they were found not guilty. And they didn't have any contact, it seems, with the Pope. They were in contact with Card. Ratzinger. So attending the SSPX chapels are not "formal schismatic acts in the strict sense, as they do not constitute the offense of schism." How more clear could it be?

R. Sungenis: I didn't say they were "formal schismatics acts." Joining up with the SSPX is a schismatic act, however. Ratzinger didn't change that ruling.


Question 77- Did Does Psalm 68:9 [69:8] Upset Mary's Virginity?

Robert, I was listening to Catholic Answers Live Tuesday(Sept. 21) and caller asked the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. He was defending the Catholic position on a Protestant radio show, but said he got a little stumped when the host told him in Psalms 68:9(Douay-Rheims), it talks about "the sons of my mother". The Psalm refers to Christ so he reasoned that Our Lords mother had sons. Keating was trying to answer the question but was very vague and did not answer it very well. I looked in my Haydock commentary, but did not say much. Could you explain what this passage is saying and how it does not deny the Perpetual Virginity of Mary? Thanks again, Robert. God bless.

In Christ,

R. Sungenis: Arturo, first, these Psalm apply historically to the Psalmist and only antitypically to Jesus. Historically, David had many brothers, and all from the same mother. That, and that only, is the only historical requirement we must fulfill. Antitypically, although many parts of a Psalm could apply to Christ, some don't. The Psalmist often switches back and forth between his [the Psalmists] days, and an antitypical allusion to the future Messiah. Even if one were to apply Psalm 68:9 [Psalm 69:8] to Jesus, the Hebrew "ben" ("sons") used in the verse is a general word that can mean blood son or near relative. In fact, it could apply historically to the Psalmist in reference to blood brothers, and antitypically to Jesus in reference to near relatives. If, for example, the "brothers" of Jesus were the sons of Joseph from a previous marriage, the would have been considered Mary's adopted sons, and thus brothers of Jesus. In any case, Psalm 68:9 does nothing to infringe on Mary's perpetual virginity.


Question 78- Why Do Catholic Apologists Argue with One Another?

great new web design. i see you are really going overboard on the Geo-centrist debate. you really got Stephen hawkings to debate you? oh well, i guess you are taking romanism to her unfortunate logical conclusion.
Anyway, you know you and your fellow catholic apologists need to kiss and make up. You and Scott Hahn still going at it? I noticed you don't care much for keating and akin either. speaking of the latter, I read this from his (Akin's) web site:
A Catholic would thus reject the idea of justification sola fide informi but wholeheartedly embrace the idea of justification sola fide formata. Adding the word "formed" to clarify the nature of the faith in "sola fide" renders the doctrine completely acceptable to a Catholic.
Hmmm, Bob, it seems that he embraces what you embrace on page 7 of your book Not By Faith Alone. The problem is, of course, if love, obedience, charity, etc. are on the faith side of the equation, then Paul chapter 2, and James 2 contradict both of you. you see, the first thing they teach in logic is the law of non-contradiction. IOW, if faith, love, and charity are on the "faith side" of the equation, than they cannot be on the "works side." Therefore, your whole book crumples under that simple test. Nor can we assume that the Holy Spirit, working with logic, would have confused us the way you do in your book. you wrote an article on why Catholics are confused on what "works of the law" mean. I guess you are confused too :^)). Come on home, bob, we need your zeal.

In Christ,

R. Sungenis: Todd, you don't seem to understand the issue from our last email exchange. Our Catholic "controversies" are designed to reach the truth as we build on the foundation the Catholic Church has already given us in infallible dogma. The best dogmas often come from years of bitter disagreements. Unfortunately, you have no foundation to build upon, except your own private interpretation of even the most basic theological doctrines. Case in point is your understanding of Justification. As the Council of Trent said, faith, hope and love are all simultaneously infused into the individual at the moment of Justification, which is Baptism. Thus, there is no contradiction. Todd, give it up. Rome is the only place of truth. Stop kidding yourself.


Question 79- Fr. Ronald Knox Commentaries Any Good?

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

Do you know anything about Ronald Knox's scripture commentaries?

Some months ago, I was reading online a 1958 number of Father Leonard Feeney's newsletter "The Point," which was published just after Knox's death, and which gave some hair-raising quotes from what purported to be Knox's comments on his bible translation. But I couldn't find any such quotations in my copy of Knox's version. I knew that Feeney had some pretty zany ideas, and some pretty zany ways of defending them. I also knew from Evelyn Waugh's collected letters that Feeney and Waugh once had nearly come to blows when Feeney fiercely criticized Knox to Waugh, who was a great friend of Knox's. Waugh's conclusion was that Feeney didn't have both oars in the water; and following Waugh, I figured that the alleged quotes were an example of Feeney's mental problems.

But I recently had occasion to look at another 1958 number of The Point devoted to criticizing Knox, which indicated that he'd published three volumes of commentary as a companion to his translation. This made me think that the quotes were from the commentary, and your recent Q&A on Knox's translation made me more receptive to the notion that Knox may not have been as sound as he was cracked up to be. So I'm interested in following up, as part of my amateur interest in taking a closer squint at the soundness of highly-touted pre-Vatican II converts. In my high school and college days in the late 50s and 60s, I realize in retrospect, the working assumption of any Catholic with intellectual pretensions was that converts were where it was at intellectually. I now realize that it ain't necessarily so -- and indeed, that other things being equal, a convert is the least likely to have mastered sound doctrine, and the most likely to have been affected by the unsound.

John A.

Ellicott City, MD

R. Sungenis: John, I'm not familiar with Knox's commentaries, so I would be interested to know what you find. Perhaps they are better than his translation of the Bible, since he may take liberties with the Greek that he may not take with Catholic dogma. The only sure way is to investigate. Please report back to me. We may be able to post it on our site if it is a thorough job. God be with you.


Question 80- Why Did You Turn Traditional?

Hello Robert,

Wasn't there a time when you had an explanation of why you took a more Traditional approach to the faith? I'm investigating a number of items on my own and would be interested in reading what brought you to this decision is there's something that's already written up.

Ernie Luther

R. Sungenis: Ernie, actually, I and CAI have a traditional bent, but I would not say that we are full-fledged traditionalists. For example, we believe that Vatican II was a legitimate and productive council, but that its liberal faction highly distorted it teachings. We believe that the pope is the final authority on all faith, morals and disciplinary actions, and thus we are opposed to the SSPX. We believe that the Novus Ordo Mass, although a watered-down version of the Tridentine, is a valid mass and actually has some good points to it (use of the vernacular; responses from the people).

We are traditionalists in the sense that we hold to the traditional dogmas of the Church and will not compromise them with any modernist/liberal or neo-conservative view of things. Since much of the modern Church has more or less disdained these historic dogmas, we find ourselves at odds with them. And what makes us different than say, Catholic Answers, Scott Hahn, Envoy, or any number of other apologetic outfits is that we are not afraid to tell the truth about our own Church. We refuse to sweep things under the rug and pretend we are in a "springtime."

Accordingly, we also find ourselves at odds with many of the non-official opinions of the present pope, and actually consider him one of the worst popes in Catholic history, not only for his flirting with heresy (Assisi, Universal salvation, etc), but for his total lack of discipline in the Church. Because of his laxity, we have a Church that is rife with heretics and homosexuals, with no end in sight. The pope is supposed to "rule the nations with a rod of iron" (Apoc 12:5; John 21:16), but if anything John Paul II has let the nations rule him. We look forward to the time when God gives us a pope who takes his responsibilities much more seriously than John Paul II.

I hope that helps to understand me and CAI a little better.


Question 81- How Do We Defend Peter as the Rock of Matthew 16:18?


Hi. I'm hoping you can help me out here. I'm currently involved in a debate with a Protestant regarding the identity of the "rock" in Matthew 16:18. It's on a public Internet board, so a lot of people may be influence by its outcome. I used your grammatical argument about the word "this" acting as a demonstrative adjective, thereby indicating the connection between "Peter" and "rock."

Here's what my opponent responded with --

Daniel: All of this is really a strawmans argument PC. If indeed Christ meant Peter then He would have said upon YOU Peter I will build my church but He did not and if I may here is what the Greek says about YOUR "this" you seem to want to hang your hat on.

R. Sungenis: If Jesus had meant someone other than Peter, than he would NOT have addressed him with "You are Peter" prior to His use of "this rock." He would have said "I am Jesus, and upon this rock I will build my Church." Since He has indeed addressed Peter, than there is no need for Him to say "and upon YOU I will build the Church."

Once Jesus has established who He has in mind (Peter), He is then free to use a metaphor or personification ("this rock") in order to reinforce why he chose Peter. In fact, it is better that Jesus refers to Peter as "this rock" rather than "you" because the Church is not built merely on the person of Peter, rather it is built on the faith of Peter given to him by the Father (Mt 16:17). Because of his faith, Peter has become like a "rock" upon which the Church can be built.

The very context of the passage (Mt 16:13-17) has already singled out Peter as the premier representative chosen by God himself, since his revelation of Jesus' identity as the Son of God "did not come by flesh and blood" but directly from the Father. This revelation is the basis of Peter's "rock-like" faith.

And it is no coincidence that the name Peter means "rock." This is all the more significant since his previous name was "Simon" ("hearing"), but was changed by Jesus Himself to "Cephas" (Aramaic for "rock") and which John 1:42 says is also translated to "Peter" in the Greek. So if "Cephas" means rock, then "Peter" means rock. Moreover, the Aramaic did not distinguish between large rock and small rock. How much more information do we need that Peter is the "rock"?

5026 tauth taute tow’ -tay and tauthn tauten tow’ -tane and tauthv tautes tow’ -tace

dative case, accusative case and genitive case respectively of the feminine singular of 3778;; pron

AV-this 105, that 4, the same 4, misc 9; 122

1) this, that, the same, see 3778

The word CAN ALSO be translated "THAT". In the context of the entire testimony of Scripture we know who real "THAT" is. The corner stone, the Rock is Jesus Christ.

(Mat 16:18 KJV) "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon "THAT" rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Please also note nowhere does it say this word is used as demonstrative pronoun but as a "dative case, accusative case and genitive case".

Now in the "genitive case" PC you know that this case often expresses also that which proceeds from something else. It is an epithet given to a case in the declension of nouns, expressing primarily the thing from which something else proceeds. What is being discussed in those verses PC? A small rock proceeding from a large rock. The connection is my friend from what is this "small rock" connected to? Jesus Christ.

OR are you trying to tell us Christ's Church really proceeded from Peter??? I sure hope not.

I'd really appreciate any help you could offer. Thanks so very much,


R. Sungenis: The argument that "Peter" means "small rock" and that "this rock" refers to a "large rock" has been shown by even Protestant exegetes to be bogus. The word "rock" is often understood as the same size as a stone (Romans 9:32-33). Protestants also gave the argument that Peter couldn't be the rock of Mt 16:18 because "Peter" is a masculine noun and "rock" is a feminine noun. But Jesus himself is called by the feminine noun "rock" in 1 Cor 10:4.

The idea that "tautee te" could mean "that" doesn't do anything to alter the meaning of the text. Rules of exegesis require that we interpret "that" or "this" in connection to the CONTEXT within which it is contained, since a demonstrative adjective cannot stand alone.

As noted above, the context (Mt 16:13-17) points to Peter, and only Peter. Furthermore, when we interpret Mt 16:18 with reference to the context, we are not clouded by a subjective spiritualization from some other passage that "rock" can only refer to Jesus, which Protestants are prone to do because they have no other recourse.

Because it is a metaphor, "rock" can refer to a lot of things, but the context alone determines which of those possibilities is meant at one particular moment. In Mt 16:18 it is only Peter that is meant, since there is nothing in the context that refers to Jesus as the rock.

The fact that Peter is the "rock" upon which the Church is built is then confirmed in Mt 16:19 when Jesus give Peter, and only Peter (since all the verbs are in the Greek singular), the keys of the kingdom.


Question 82- Your SSPX Discussions

Hello Robert:

I have been reading your Q & A section and it got my attention when I noticed an on-going discussion concerning the SSPX. You know, I agree that you should answer questions concerning the Catholic religion but when it comes to the position of the Society, I believe it only causes further confusion to those Catholics who attend Mass at the chapels to maintain their faith. They may take your word as the final word on the matter. The Novus Ordo is a new religion and quoting all the laws will not change it for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The Pope has a sworn oath to uphold tradition in the sense it has always been held. But Robert, if I were in your shoes, I would refrain from discussing the SSPX's position with confused lay folk since it implies your support of the Novus Ordo establishment. In the end, God will ultimately decide and guide a future Pontiff to remedy the demolition of our religion. We pray for a courageous Pontiff, who will probably be martyred for doing what needs to be done!!

Vancouver, B.C.

R. Sungenis: Frank, I simply don't agree with you, for all the reasons I have stated thus far, and I'm not really in the mood to repeat myself. When the pope himself order an official reversal of Ecclesia Dei, then I'll change my mind. Until then, the SSPX is whatever the final decree of the Vatican has said, and that, my dear friend, lies only with the pope. I hope, like you, that a new pope will clear up the matter and restore the SSPX, and I think that will be the only way it is cleared up. But until that day happens, I'm going to say the same thing I've been saying, because that is what our highest authority has said also.


Question 83- How Can "All" Replacing "Many" be Defended in the Consecration?

Mr. Sungenis, I read in an answer to a person who was asking about the Novus Ordo, that you said "many" and "all" are used interchangeably in the Bible frequently. Well, aren't the Words of Consecration one of the few times in the Bible "many" means "many"? After all, in the Traditional Latin Mass, the words are "for you and for many unto the remission of sins", whereas in the Novus Ordo English (and Latin, now) Mass, it is "for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven." I'm not questioning validity, but isn't there a big difference in meaning between these two phrases? Also, one priest-theologian quoted in Michael Davies' "Pope Paul's New Mass" said that even if the words "for all" are linguistically possible, it is not
justified, but a deplorable translation; for not all are saved, but only many (he goes on to say that it's still valid, but that's besides the point).

Also, Fr. Jungmann pointed out that the words of consecration used in the Bible may not have been complete, but that the Evangelists only intended to give the sense of the words, reverencing the Canon (in the Latin Rite; anaphoras in the Eastern Rites) so much as to not write it in their Gospels. Pope Innocent III insisted that the Words of Consecration in the traditional Latin Rite were given by Christ to His Apostles (Letter Cum Marthae circa). Thus, it was very bold and sacrilegious for the so-called reformers to change the words of Our Lord, for no reason whatsoever, notwithstanding the validity of the Novus Ordo!!!

Paul D.

R. Sungenis: Paul, I agree that, regardless whether "many" and "all" can be interchanged, it was not a wise decision to change the historic "many" to the modern "all." If anything, it is just confusing for a lot of people.

And it just may be that those who wanted it changed to "all" had in their mind the idea of universal salvation. The problem is that we can't prove that, since there was no explanation given as to why the change was made.

The other more important issue regards the theology of the Mass. Does "for you and for many unto the remission of sins," mean that Christ offered his sacrifice, re-presented in the Eucharist, as providing the possibility of salvation for all people, or were the consecration words offering "remission of sins" meant only for the people who had already been baptized?

Those who complain about the use of "all" base their concern on their belief that the "remission" of sins is being offered only to baptized members of the Church. Since they limit the phrase "remission of sins" to the venial sins of the communicant (which the Eucharist does, in fact, do, but it does not forgive mortal sins), then they insist that the "remission" applies only to "many" not to "all."

But that may not be the case at all. The language of Matthew 26:28 says, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins." Now, it is certainly NOT true, according to Catholic doctrine, that Christ shed his blood only for a certain select few, even though passage such as Matt 20:28 says "He gave his life a ransom for many." In that sense, "many" means "all." Only the Calvinists believe that "many" in Matt 20:28 is limited to a select few people.

Thus if Christ shed his blood for everyone, as a propitiatory sacrifice, so that they can have the possibility of salvation, then the Eucharist, in that particular sense, is also consecrated for everyone.

But, as is the case with salvation, only those who are qualified can actually partake of and obtain the benefits of the shed blood. The qualification is repentance, both for salvation and the Eucharist.

Does this mean we can fault the traditional Church for using "many"? Of course not, since, as I said, the use of "many" is interchangeable with "all," as Scripture itself testifies. And since the words of consecration are scriptural words, then scripture is the best dictionary of its own words. And unless the magisterium ever makes a declaration which says that the sacrifice of Calvary, represented in the words of consecration offering remission of sins, only applies to baptized members and is not offering the possibility of salvation to the whole world, then there is no recourse to condemn the usage of "all," except on practical grounds.


Question 84- What is the Alexandrian Text?

Dear Robert

I have been listening to some of Dr Hovinds creation tapes trying to ignore his anti-Catholicism. In his "Questions and Answers" he goes into a long explanation of which bible translation is the best. He talks about an Alexandrian cult that made a phony copy of the bible. He claims that The Latin Vulgate and ultimately the Douay bible are translated from this phony text and therefore not reliable. Of course he concludes the only reliable translation is the King James based on something called the "received text" or "majority text". Can you offer some apologetic insight to these claims.


R. Sungenis: Hovind is speaking about the Greek Septuagint translated by Alexandrian Jews, as opposed to the Hebrew text transcribed by Palestinian Jews. Unfortunately for Hovind, the inspired writes of the New Testament writers thought so highly of the Greek Septuagint that they used it more than the Hebrew when they were citing quotes from the Old Testament! That shows that Hovind's disdain for the Alexandrian text is purely biased. It's good that you've been exposed to his viewpoint. Now you know how to defend against it.


Question 85- Are Hope and Love on the "Faith Side" of Justification?

if faith, hope, obedience, love, charity, ego---are on the faith side (romans 3.28), then how can they be on the works side? IOW, bob, how can you use James 2 to argue that we are not justified by faith alone, when you define faith as love, hope, obedience, and charity? is not, say obedience, a work of the law. if not can you tell me what IS a work of the law?

R. Sungenis: I never said "hope, obedience, love, charity, ego --- are on the faith side" of the equation. I said that hope and love are added to faith, and all three are infused into the individual at Baptism, and subsequently throughout his life. The faith, however, must be genuine faith, otherwise, and work added to it will be for naught.


Question 86- Why Did the Council of Nicea Mandate Standing on Sunday?

Hello Mr. Sungenis,

I had a quick question, is there any commentary or context for the Council of Nicea Canon 20 where it states: "Forasmuch as there are certain persons who kneel on the Lord's Day and in the days of Pentecost, therefore, to the intent that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere(in every parish), it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing."

Any insight or reference would be helpful.

God bless,
Robert Bauer

R. Sungenis: Robert, first we need to see that the Council's mandate only applied to times of "prayer." Since some people were kneeling and some were standing when they prayed in the Church, this gave the impression of a lack of unity. Since these prayers were said in unison and as representing the Church as a whole before God (and not in the privacy of one's thoughts which is best expressed in a kneeling position), then standing in unison was the best way to present this prayer before God. However, times of prayer are not the same as when we receive the Eucharist, since the latter is a time of utter reverence in our appearance before the king.


Question 87- Are Hope and Love on the "Faith Side" of Justification, Pt II?

Bob, thanks for the response. Let's forget about infusion of grace in baptism for a moment. Paul in Romans said we are justified by faith apart from works of the law. now, if you define faith as including obedience, love, etc., then how in the world can you say that we are not justified by faith alone--however you want to define faith?

R. Sungenis: I don't "define faith as including obedience." I define faith as the mental act of putting trust in God.

Paul says "for it is not the hearers of the law but the doers of the law who will be justified," Paul clearly places obedience, love, etc., on the law side. please take a moment and try to understand your dilemma, because I don't think you see it yet.
R. Sungenis: Yes, and that is what I have said and written.


Question 88- Are Hope and Love on the "Faith Side" of Justification, Pt II?

Robert - thank you for the prompt response. Actually, I understood all that you outlined to be the case, although I understand your explanation in light of the generic moniker 'Traditional.' What I was aiming at was what got you over that hump of [my words here] 'What's being given us by the majority of Catholic leaders is not the actual fullness of the faith.' Something we've all likened to Catholic-lite. It seems so obvious to anyone who can read.
R. Sungenis: Ernie, yes, understood. I guess what got me over "the hump," you might say were two events. The first was the Lutheran/Catholic Joint Declaration on Justification which, for the first time in history, had Catholic leaders affirming a statement that the Council of Trent condenmed: "man is justified by faith alone" (Annex, Section 2C), all with the implicit approval of John Paul II. The next event that showed me the seat of John Paul II's erroneous slide into modernism was the Assisi event of 2002. I wasn't a Catholic in 1986 when he first initiated that abomination. Why John Paul II insists on turning to pagans who know not God in order to bring peace to the world filled with paganism I find quite unfathomable. The least he could have done if he was really concerned about peace was to invite all the bishops of the world to Rome to pray with him to God for peace, and then tell the bishops to go back to their lands and preach the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to the pagans and false religions that were within their lands. Instead, we have a pope who is doing precisely the thing for which God condemned Israel in the Old Testament. John Paul II couldn't even find precedent in Vatican II for his Assisi prayer gatherings. Lumen Gentium 16 is quite clear that there is to be no dependence on pagans in seeking God's favor, rather, LG enforces the Church's long-standing practice, even citing Acts 17:24-31, that it is the Church's job to preach the gospel of salvation to the pagans. This John Paul II has never done in the entire 16 years between Assisi 1 and Assisi 2. God help us.

On another note, several months ago I had provided my credit card information so that CAI may deduct a monthly charge and it seemed to have worked for a few months then stopped. Do you need me to resend something?


R. Sungenis: Ernie, you must have slipped through the cracks. Please send your information again. Thank you so much for your generosity.


Question 89- Are Hope and Love on the "Faith Side" of Justification, pt III?

Bob, so let me get this straight: you are saying that love, obedience, and charity are on the law side (which you also say supercede the law. funny, i thought the law was spiritual) you also say that faith is a mental assent of trusting God. But in your book you write, "Suppose one were to argue, however, that love cannot be coupled with faith in justification because love itself, or even obedience or hope as a "work of the law." (page 5) isn't that what you are telling me? okay, we are clear; l.o.h.c is on the law side. So when Paul says we are justified by faith apart from works of the law, which you define as a mental assent to trust God, then you teach sola fide on place and revoke it another. that is my point.
R. Sungenis: No, because you are missing the crucial distinction covered in the first few pages of Not By Faith Alone -- the distinction between legal works and graced works. The former St. Paul says will not merit justification; the latter he says will. "Works of the Law," are just what the phrase says, works of a legal origin, not a grace origin, therefore they cannot justify a person. On the other hand, once a person receives the grace of God, then their works originate from grace, and they are rewarded for those works on the basis of grace, not debt. It's really very simple.


Question 90- Theological/Political Question

Greetings Mr. Sungenis. I am having a discussion/debate with Mr. Steve regarding the Sen. Kerry scandal. The conversation has gone off on several tangents and this has prompted my email to you. Below are a series of quotes from the discussion. In my opinion, they are all propositions which I find to be theologically suspect and/or fundamentally confused. I was hoping that I could obtain your comments on each quote below and advise me as to whether you find them problematic or not. If it doesn’t make you any difference, I would prefer not to have this email posted on your Q & A section of your web site.
The two primary questions I have in summary are: 1) Is it theologically appropriate to say we can and should “politicize the Eucharist” and 2) Has a universal theocratic state ever been advocated by the Church as an absolutely ideal application of the dogmas concerning the Church/State relationship? Thanks again for any help you can offer.

Your friend in JMJ+

R. Sungenis: All questions that are directed to this email address, if answered by me, will be posted to our QA board, no exceptions. I have taken out your name and the other person's name for your privacy.

1) Regarding "politicizing the Eucharist," I would suspect that those who are against threatening a prominent politician with canonical disciplinary action (e.g., withholding the Eucharist from them for their political and/or moral views that are against Church teaching) would be the modern apologists who are used to keeping a lid on Church scandals and problems. Their primary foundation in doing apologetics is: don't make the Church look bad or bring her under suspicion, and only look at the positive aspects of what she is doing. If that is the case, then they are wrong. The Church should expose heretics and immoral people for exactly what they are, not only to punish them for their aberrant views, but to serve as an example to everyone else as to what happens to someone who strays from Christian morality. This is precisely what St. Paul demanded that the bishops do with the fornicator of 1 Cor 5. If not, then the leaven of his sin stays within the Church, and then everyone else thinks that they can get away with sin, and soon the whole Church is corrupt (which is precisely what we have today).

As for your second question, the answer is yes. It is called the Social Kingship of Christ, and it was advocated and promoted by all the popes until it was more or less finally emasculated by John XXIII. But it is still Catholic doctrine.


Question 91- Are Hope and Love on the "Faith Side" of Justification, Part IV?

i understand that, bob. my question is where do you place love, obedience, hope and charity? are they on the law side under debt then switch to the faith side under grace?
if so, then how do you answer James 2 who places them on the law side under grace? when Paul says we are justified by faith apart from works of the law you cannot add LOHC to faith. you, however, did when you write on page 5..."Hence, with regard to justification, according due justice to Paul's dictum that faith must be apart from 'works of the law' does not imply that faith is completely alone, especially from other virtues like love and obedience." yet when i ask you to show me what is a work of the law if not LOHC, you tell me, yes, they are works of the law. lol. if you define faith as a mental assent of trust in God, are you using "faith" in the same sense as Paul does in Romans 3.28?
All I can do is point to a contradiction, it is up to you to see it.
R. Sungenis: Work is work, love is love, etc, etc. They don't do any switching, because they are objects, concepts and emotions. What changes is our relationship to God. Either God is our employer who pays us, or He is our Father who rewards us. If we work/love but treat God as an employer who owes us wages, we won't get anything but condemnation. In that case, God views our works/love under the law.

But if we work/love and treat God as our loving Father, we will be rewarded (not paid) from His benevolence. In that case, God views our works/love under His grace.

Hence, it is the system under which the works are viewed that changes, not the works themselves.

For example, if I asked you to dig me a swimming pool, and you agreed to do it provided I paid you the market rate for your labor, and we signed a contract which obligated each of us to keep our end of the deal, then we have a purely legal relationship. You are required to do the work and I am required to pay you. Whether we are friends or enemies makes no difference. You have a job to do, I have a payment to make. If either of us fails, we can sue in a court of law.

On the other hand, if I asked you to do the same precise work (dig me a pool) but did not sign a contract with you and promised you no payment, and you agreed to do the job because you wanted to show your love and honor to me, then we do not have a legal relationship. We have a personal relationship. After you do the work, I, being the kind and honorable man I am, will indeed reward you for your work, but not because I owe you (since we don't have a contract) but because I like you and really appreciate the love and honor you have given to me. In fact, I may be so impressed with you that I will give you much more than what a contract would give you. I may even make you president of my pool company, and allow you to inherit the business when I die, all because of the faith and honor you gave to me, without expecting any pay. On the other hand, if you came to me demanding pay, I would be insulted, and perhaps give you nothing, and our relationship would be over.

So you see, Todd, the same "work" can be looked at, or exist in, two different categories. The categories that Scripture gives us are (1) legal or (2) personal, or what St. Paul refers to as (1) "works of the law" or (2) grace.


Question 92- The papal oath and the Tridentine Mass

Hello Robert Sungenis,
"R. Sungenis: The Vatican, and the pope, will have to answer to God for the wrong decisions they have made. That is why the pope takes the papal oath. God will be especially severe upon him for his mistakes. But that doesn't give us an excuse to break the pope's mandates given to him by virtue of Jesus' issuance of the keys to Peter, and which was confirmed by Vatican I. When we stand before God, He is not going to ask us how well the pope did, but how well we did in obeying the pope when we were required to do so. That you can "get" very easily."

Why did JPII refuse to take the papal oath? See comment you made above. Previous popes can and often do bind future popes. See Immaculate Conception, Assumption etc. These are all binding on all future popes.

R. Sungenis: If he didn't take the papal oath, then you'll have to prove it, not just take the word of a sedevacantist like Michael Dimond. If you prove it, then John Paul II will be in even more trouble with God. As for popes being bound to the Imm. Con. or the Assump, of course. I never said they weren't. I only said that a future pope can change a non-infallible DISCIPLINARY decision of a former pope.

Tridentine Mass codified by Council of Trent – Dogmatic. Quo Primum restated dogmatic status and is itself dogmatic. Dogmatic means binding.
R. Sungenis: No, you got it wrong. The Council of Trent did not dogmatize the Tridentine Mass. They dogmatized the doctrines that are included in the Tridentine Mass.

The truth is that they created a new rite. The Latin Rite has been mortally wounded. Bugnini told us outright that they have given us a new rite. They did not have the authority to change the Latin Rite so they replaced it. They did not have the authority to replace it either. However, we were asleep as were the majority of the cardinals. Argue all you want but the Tridentine Mass is in the depository of faith and the situation will be corrected eventually. Till then we suffer until a pope with guts stands up for what is right.

“The old wineskin”

R. Sungenis: The pope has the authority to give us the Novus Ordo, because he is the pope. The Mass has been changed about a half-dozen times since the first centuries, and no pope said that a future pope could not make more changes. What is preserved, according to Trent, is the formula of consecration. Everything else is window dressing that can be changed anytime the Church sees fit to do so, as she has done many times. As for whether it is a wise decision to tamper with the Mass, that is another question altogether, and it is the only place I can agree with you. Hopefully we will have a pope that restores our traditions. There is still hope.