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April 2005

Q & A April 2005

Question 70 - Bible Prophecy: Russia will attack the US

Question 69 - Question 40 in the Q&A

Question 68 - Prophecy of Russia Attacking the United States in Scripture?

Question 67 - When should I wear a veil?

Question 66 - Slavery

Question 65 - The Good Thief

Question 64 - Papal Infallibility

Question 63 - Documentary Hypothesis

Question 62 - Sedevacantist problems and Vacancy of the Throne

Question 61 - Good Work

Question 60 - Baptism of Desire St Emerentiana

Question 59 - A good Catholic History Book

Question 58 - Luther

Question 57 - Follow up on the Novus Ordo Mass and Its Validity On the Age of Mankind and Genealogies

Question 56 - On the Age of Mankind and Genealogies

Question 55 - The role of women and authority

Question 54 - Hail favored one?

Question 53 - John 4:16-18

Question 52 - Papal Infallibility

Question 51 - CAI apologetics

Question 50 - Why is Contraception a Sin?

Question 49 - Baptism by Desire, Part 4

Question 48 - Divorce in Matthew 19:9 and Catholic Tradition

Question 47 - Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life"

Question 46 - Baptism by Desire, Part 3

Question 45 - Extra ecclesiam nulla salus, Part 3

Question 44 - Baptism by Desire, Part 2

Question 43 - Genesis days of creation

Question 42 - Help!

Question 41 - Question About Israel

Question 40 - Baptism by Desire

Question 39 - Has Russia Been Consecrated?

Question 38 - Infallibility of Baptism of Desire

Question 37 - Concerning sin against chastity

Question 36 - New Catechism and the Jews

Question 35 - Infallibility question

Question 34 - Can a Priest say Mass Alone?

Question 33 - Novus Ordo Ordinations/Confession

Question 32 - Book recommendations

Question 31 - Our ability to look into the past with telescopes

Question 30 - Geocentrism, Sacred Tradition and Obedience

Question 29 - A good Geocentrism website

Question 28 - Are some human beings in hell presently?

Question 27 - When is the Pope Infallible?

Question 26 - Praying to the dead, Part 2

Question 25 - Extra ecclesiam nulla salus, Part 2

Question 24 - Praying to the dead

Question 23 - Catholics and Iraq war

Question 22 - Extra ecclesiam nulla salus

Question 21 - Should women be in any position of leadership?

Question 20 - Women in society

Question 19 - Women only for the home?

Question 18 - Condign Merit

Question 17 - Women and veils

Question 16 - Question on the Sinless Nature of Mary

Question 15 - Kepha and Tattoos

Question 14 - Not By Faith Alone and Works of Protestants

Question 13 - Why the pandering to Islam?

Question 12 - Condign Merit, II

Question 11 - Catholic versus Protestant Beliefs from Scripture, 2

Question 10 - Marriage, convalidation, and canon question

Question 9 - Discussion on Catholic versus Protestant Beliefs from Scripture

Question 8 - St. Malachy's prophecy about the 2 remaining popes, Part II

Question 7 - Cremation and Obelisks

Question 6 - On Fatima and the CDF

Question 5 - Various Questions

Question 4 - Limited Atonement

Question 3 - What does "World without end" mean?

Question 2 - St. Malachy's prophecy about the 2 remaining popes

Question 1 - The Jews and the End of the Time

Question 70Bible Prophecy: Russia will attack the US

I still remember that in about 1991, the First Congress of Russia (the first in a free election after the dissolution (?) of the Soviet Union), during the first week of the session, Russian congressmen had only one issue: to rename Russia as "ROSH", the ancient name of Russia. After one week, they rejected the idea, because there is only about less than 82% of the population are Russians and there are many other ethnic people. I read a report about this issue in San Jose Mercury News. I cut the report and put in a file I don't know where now because after that I moved to Sacramento area.

Anyway, Rosh or not-Rosh is no matter. Moses had designated it as "a cruel nation coming from afar, from the ends of the earth, a nation whose language you don't understand" (Deut.28:49-50).

Jeremiah : "a cruel nation coming from afar, from the end of the earth, a nation whose language you don't understand" (Jer.5:15-16). And to let the readers be sure about the identity of Russia, Jeremiah added "that nation will come from the North, from the ends of the earth" (Jer.50:41-42; 51:47-48).

That's enough. Enough to identify "a cruel nation coming from afar, from the end of the earth" that shall be used by God as His rod of chastisement "of the end times" (Deut.31:29).

Ezekiel also repeated the location of the territory of Russia as "the uttermost parts of the North" (Ezek.38:6,15). So, with the name ROSH or without the name ROSH, the identification of Russia is obviously clear. That is Russia.

Please read my e-mail completely. It is very condensed. I should write about 100 pages. God bless you. Dat Tien Truong.

R. Sungenis: Dat, it makes little difference what some people in Russia were thinking of naming themselves. The question is: does the Bible mention the nation of Russia? The answer is no. The nations "to the north" can be anyone beyond the Euphrates river. "Rosh" is from the Hebrew for "head" or "leader" and has nothing to do with Russia. The Russian language is a mixture of Greek and their own dialects, which Greek had been brought to the Russian people by St. Frances in the 1200s AD when he evangelized them through the Greek of the New Testament. That is why modern Russian still has Greek letters in its alphabet. But the Greek foundation of Russian is far removed from the semitic language of Hebrew. Thus, Ezekiel 38 has nothing to do with Russia.

The other passages you point to in Deut 28; Jer 5 and 51, et al, are also not talking about Russia. In the historical context in which they were written, they are talking only about one of two nations to the north of Israel, either Assyria or Babylon, both of which were used of God to conquer Israel. If you read the rest of Jeremiah, you will easily find this out.

I would suggest you cease with the sensationalism you are creating in this type of newspaper exegesis of historical biblical texts.


Question 69Question 40 in the Q&A

Dear CAI,

You recommended a reader to read a James White book in Question 40 of your Q+A. I know of greater heretic in the world today, surely there is a mistake here?


R. Sungenis: Dave, we made the same mistake. The person in question is James F. White (good Catholic), not James R. White (anti-Catholic).


Question 68Prophecy of Russia Attacking the United States in Scripture?

Introduction. 1. How to identify Russia in Bible Prophecy. 2. How to identify the USA

This long story will be presented in a series of e-mails, but I will try to be succinct.

Necessary introduction
The prophecies in the Holy Scriptures cannot be understood unless we accept the following fundamentals dictated by the Lord God:

1. The main theme of Bible Prophecy is the Great Chastisement of the End times (Is. 28:1-4; Jer.30:23-24; Ezek.21:25; 38:8, 16; Dan.12:4, 9-10; Rev.3:10; 10:7; 20:8 + Ezek.38:2-17, etc.).

2. The prophetic messages of God concerning His Great Chastisement are given in secret languages. God’s people cannot understand (Is.28:11). They are like blind and deaf until a day when a book will show to them how to understand God’s secret prophecies (Is.29:18).

3. God’s prophecy was not given in a whole piece; instead it has been cut into small pieces and scattered a little bit here a little bit there, in disorder, given at different times (Is.28:10-11).
The foregoing is a summary of what can be called the fundamental laws of Bible interpretation. If we don’t accept these things, we cannot understand the Bible’s Prophecy. Thanks to the discovery of these rules, I have come to understand the secret codes as I have presented in “How to unlock the secret codes in Bible Prophecy” (1). This could be “the book” in Isaiah’s prophecy (Is.29:18).

I. How to identify Russia in Bible Prophecy
The entire prophecy concerning the Great Chastisement of the End Times can be summarized in the following prophecy given by Moses:

At the End Times, the people of God will be very sinful, thus provoking His anger (Deut.31:29). To punish them, God will use a cruel nation as His rod of chastisement. That nation will come from afar, from the end of the earth, a nation “whose language you shall not understand” (Deut. 28:49-50).

That is a sketchy description of the Russian nation. Later, Isaiah repeated the same warning with the same description of Russia, “a cruel nation, coming from afar, from the end of the earth” (Is.5:26-30; 13:5). Jeremiah repeated the same, “a cruel nation, coming from afar, and a nation whose language you do not know” (Jer.5:15-16). Thus both Moses and Jeremiah prophesied the same thing about the Russian language. Outside of Russia, no country among the people of God speaks Russian language.
However, with Jeremiah’s prophecy, the identification of Russia became perfect when he called this cruel nation “a lion, the destroyer of nations who will make the earth a desolation and let your cities in ruins, without inhabitants”, a nation that will come from the North, from the ends of the earth (Jer.4:6-7; 6:22-23; 50:41-42; 51:47-48). From Israel, if we look to the North, the location “the ends of the earth” is surely the territory of Russia. It should be noted that Jeremiah repeated this location in 4 times, Ezekiel called Russia by name Finally, in Ezekiel, the identification of Russia is complete. Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah named Russia indirectly. Ezekiel used both the name and the geographic location of Russia to identify the nation that God will use as His instrument to chastise His sinful people at the End Times.

Ezekiel described Rosh (ancient name of Russia) as the head of a coalition of armies that will include Meshech, Magog, Tubal, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah. The armies of Rosh and all these nations will come from “the uttermost parts of the North” (Ezek.38:2,6,15) to attack the people of God. The attack will happen “in the last days” (Ezek.38:8,16). Later, in another e-mail, I will go into details of the attack. Now, our question is “Who are the people of God?”

II. How to identify the USA in Bible Prophecy
Ezekiel gave a detailed description of the people who will be attacked by Russia and its allies. According to his prophecy, many times God called these people “My people Israel” (Ezek.38:14,16; 39:7).

Are the people of Israel the people of God?
The question seems to be a simple one. But the answer is not. Many people now believe that the people of Israel are still the people of God, that they have never been rejected by God, and that they still remain “the chosen people of God”, etc.

However, the Bible evidently opposes such a belief.
Isaiah was the first prophet who announced the abolition of Judaism (Is.22:15-25). In order to understand this mysterious prophecy of Isaiah, we must juxtapose it to St John’s prophecy concerning Jesus “who is holy, who is true, who has the key of the house of David, who opens and no one can close, who closes and no one can open” (Rev.3:7; Is.22:22). With such a juxtaposition, the name of Eliakim (Is.22:20) became the mysterious name of Jesus and the name of Shebna evidently represents Judaism. God said that Judaism will become a disgrace for His Church, therefore He will reject it, and toss it away like when we toss away something filthy; He will toss it into an open land to let it die there (Is.22:18). Being
rejected by God and let to be dead, Judaism should be considered as defunct since two thousand years ago. And since then the people of Israel became heathen. They are not the people of God any more.

Jesus condemned and rejected Judaism

In His parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard, Jess said to the leaders of the Jewish people, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you” (Matt.21:43). The reason? Because they have killed the Only Son of the Landlord (Matt.21:38-39). Without the kingdom of God, the Jews became pagan.

On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus said to His disciples that , “we are going now to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be delivered to the pagans who will scourge Him, mock Him, mistreat and kill Him and the third day He will rise again” (Luke 18:31-33). This means that from the time the leaders of the Church of God (Judaism) decided to kill Jesus, they became pagan.

With all the authority in heaven and on earth in His hands (Matt.28:18), Jesus is the only Way leading to God the Father. “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father” (1 John 2:23). The Jews not only denied the Son, they killed Him. Therefore, when Jesus established His Church on His Rock (Matt.16:18), the New Church of God was born, and, officially, the Old Church of God (Judaism) became defunct. The Jews ceased to be the People of God. Israel ceased to represent “the Chosen People of God”.

Who are then the people that God called “My people Israel”, the people that will be attacked by the armies of Russia and its allies (Ezek.38:14, 16)?

America identified

Through Ezekiel, God gave two descriptions to help us identify His New People.

1). Description of the land
The Land of His New People, as described by God, “had been once a perpetual waste” (Ezek.38:8). This description contradicts the real situation of the land of Israel which has never been a wasteland from the
beginning of the world.

2). Description of the People
Ezekiel reported the words God said to the commander of the Russian armies:

“After many days you shall be called up for service, in the end of the years you shall march against a land restored from desolation, and inhabited by a people gathered from many nations, against the mountains of Israel that were once a perpetual waste, but are now inhabited by a people brought home from the nations, all of them living in security.
“And you shall say, “I will attack a land of unwalled villages. I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling undefended by walls or bar or gates, to take a spoil, and to take a prey; “ to turn your hands against the waste places that are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell at the center of the earth” (2).
(Ezekiel 38:8, 11-12)

“A people gathered out of the nations” could be the people of Israel. But the people living in “unwalled villages, living at rest, dwelling safely undefended by walls or bar or gates” are certainly not the people now living in Israel. The controversial 400-mile Security Fence between Israel and the West Bank, the frequent suicide bombings are some of the examples of the dangerous life of the people of Israel.

With all of the above features combined, the description of the land and of the people in Ezekiel’s prophecy are completely fit to describe the people of the USA, not the people of Israel. The American Nation, “One Nation under God” could be the only Nation that was born Christian when its Founding Fathers registered in its Birth Records (Article VII of the Constitution) as a Christian Nation. Because they proclaimed Jesus Christ as “Our Lord”.

It means that America is the New Israel, the New People of God in Bible Prophecy. And it also means that Russia will attack the USA.

In coming e-mails, I will present Bible Prophecy concerning the Russian attack:

WHEN (the hour, the day, the month of the attack)
WHAT (what will happen in this Great Battle; who will win)
WHY (the cause of the Russian attack).
CONSEQUENCES (the destruction, the number of casualties), etc.

Please help spread this Heavenly Message, compiled by Truong Tien Dat, a former senator, chief justice of S. Vietnam, email address:

Please forward to your friends, “to save souls”.

R. Sungenis: I'm sorry, but this whole exercise is bogus. Russia and the United States are not mentioned in the Bible, not even in code. Your interpretation is nothing more than the same misunderstandings that Dispensational Premillennial Protestants have been saying since the 1909 Scofield Reference Bible, and there is not an ounce of truth in it. "Rosh," for example, is simply the Hebrew word for "head" or "ruler" used over 500 times in the Old Testament, not a shortened form of the word Russia.


Question 67When should I wear a veil?

Hi Mr Sungenis.

I'm so glad for your articles about women and veils. I am recent catholic converted and I have worn a veil to mass. My questions is: if I go to the church not for a mass, not for a pray like for example guest of marriage. Should I cover my head?


R. Sungenis: Fernanda, anytime you pray you should cover your head.


Question 66Slavery

Hello Robert
How are we to understand the biblical notion of slavery. Does the bible endorse it or condemn it?

R. Sungenis: The Bible's understanding is more like that of an indentured servant. As long as a man and his family are treated well, and given he same rights as others, there is nothing wrong with such a concept. It is only when such people are treated as chattel that it becomes sinful.


Question 65The Good Thief

Dear Dr. Sungenis,
How is it that the Good Thief was saved, if not by baptism of water, or even of desire, if he had died after Jesus died, it seems? I know we must take our Lord's word for it, yet was the Good Thief then not considered to be under the New Law but under the Old Law still? Did the New Law then just start to be established at Christ's death and then was finally consummated when the Holy Spirit came? Thank you and God bless.
Pax in nomine Christi per Mariam,
Teodoro B

R. Sungenis: Baptism wasn't instituted as the exclusive means of salvation until Pentecost.


Question 64Papal Infallibility

Well, I knew about Matthew 16:19, but it seems to me that it could be interpreted as saying Peter can make authoritative rules (in which case "bound in heaven" would be meaning that that is where he gets his authority). Even in the example in "Jesus, Peter, & The Keys", it talks about the Rabbinical schools of Hillel and Shammai either binding or loosing a bushel of wheat that corruption falls into or something- which isn't dogmatic. Is there a way to show that Matthew

16:19 is applicable to dogmatic pronouncements?

R. Sungenis: Yes, it is implicit in the verse. Jesus tells Peter "WHATSOEVER" you bind will be bound. Thus Peter can determine how, what, when and where his prouncements will be binding. The Rabbinical schools have nothing to do with this issue. Matthew 16:18-19 is unique among all of Jesus' statements. The first example we have of Peter exercising this power is Acts 1:20 where he alone makes the interpretation of Psalm 109:8 to teach that the office of Apostle must be filled. Another example is Acts 15:1-12 where Peter alone makes the decision to make circumcision obsolete.


Question 63Documentary Hypothesis

Mr. Sungenis,
Is there any validity to the argument that throughout the Torah, we find many different styles of Hebrew, (an argument which supports the documentary hypothesis)? One style of Hebrew is said to have come from a certain era, whereas another style is said to have come from another era. Thus, different writers have, at different times, wrote different parts of the Torah for different (i.e., political) reasons. I have always seen the theory as an attack on the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, but many Catholics find no difficulty in accepting the documentary hypothesis, saying that though many writers wrote the Torah, God still inspired them, and even made use of their various political bents in the process. I find this hard to believe however. So my question is this: are there different styles of Hebrew? Is there any validity to this argument?
Thank you,

R. Sungenis: DJ, not a shred of proof to the argument. I cover an example of this in my paper on Creation, showing how fallacious is the argument of Fr. Stanley Jaki, for example, that there is a difference between the Elohist and the Priestly documents. As for styles, sometimes I have a different style of writing, since my styles vary depending on what I am writing, but surely I'm not proof of the Documentary Hypothesis.


Question 62Sedevacantist problems and Vacancy of the Throne

Dear Robert:

Your right about the throne of Peter being vacant, however intact, awaiting it's rightful heir. My point was that nobody at all recognized the "vacancy", unlike when the pope dies the cardinals and bishops recognize that there is no pope and thus the cardinals have to elect a new one. My point was that every bishop and cardinal followed and continued to follow a schismatic anti-pope for several years.

I guess I must ask a new question. Is it possible for every bishop and priest, and as far as we know the laity as well, to follow and accept an anti-pope into schism and still have the Church exist as a visible hierarchical communion?

I hope I have clarified my argument. Keep up the good work. God bless.

"Pray, hope and don't worry."


James H

R. Sungenis: That's a debatable question, James. St. Robert Bellarmine, however, said it was not possible, because the Church, at large, is infallible.


Question 61Divorce in Matthew 19:9 and Catholic Tradition

Dear Dr Sungenis,

I visit your site quite a lot, I have been following your arguments with Mario Derksen, and actually followed a link to the brothers grim, the famous online heretics.

"Pope Pius IX, Graves ac diuturnae (#'s 1-4), March 23, 1875: "… the new heretics who call themselves 'Old Catholics'... these schismatics and heretics... their wicked sect... these sons of darkness... their wicked faction… this deplorable sect… This sect overthrows the foundations of the Catholic religion, shamelessly rejects the dogmatic definitions of the Ecumenical Vatican Council, and devotes itself to the ruin of souls in so many ways. We have decreed and declared in Our letter of 21 November 1873 that those unfortunate men who belong to, adhere to, and support that sect should be considered as schismatics and separated from communion with the Church." mostholyfamilymonastery

They source this, as some support for their view.
Are Sedevacantist not the same as these old Catholics because the Old Catholics lost their Faith because they could not accept the decrees of V1, now they cannot accept V2 so they are in an even worse position because they go on and interpret the council along with the liberals the same way that protestants do with the Bible.

Then the blind boys source,

St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, II, 30:
"A pope who is a manifest heretic automatically (per se) ceases to be pope and head, just as he ceases automatically to be a Christian and a member of the Church. Wherefore, he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the teaching of all the ancient Fathers who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction."

So they are so blind as to quote the very Saint who is telling them the same thing you are about Judging the Pope.
I do not understand them.
God Bless,

p.s I have to admire your take on Geocentrism. I agree with you. It is awesome that The Church can be shown to be right after all.

R. Sungenis: Thank you for your commendation Paul. That is precisely what I intend to do -- show the Church was right all along. What a good way to put it!

As for Bellarmine, the only contingent factor is that the Magisterium would have the final say whether the pope became a manifest heretic, not vigilante layman like the Sedevacantists.


Question 60Baptism of Desire St Emerentiana

Dear Robert,

I have been reading with growing concern the claims by Catholics on your CAI website who don't seem want to understand the childlike, simple proposition that when a person can be baptized (with water) they must be, when they cannot the "desire" (which necessarily means an act of perfect contrition in all its fullness) is always sufficient. I say, "don't seem to want to understand" because given this issue in its totality, I am beginning to suspect that those who don't agree, i.e. accept what the Church teaches on this point, refuse not because they genuinely do not understand, nor because it isn't true, but because they don't like it. By the way, humility is accepting what has been revealed by God through the Church as TRUE and BINDING (in matters requiring submission) whether we understand it, like it, or otherwise.

Baptism by water is the ordinary and overwhelmingly predominant means, not the exclusive. Opponents of baptism of desire seem to equate desire with some modernist notion of sentimentality or such like: nope, desire, properly understood, is an operation of the pure will, & in this case, the souls movement toward God. Also, opponents of baptism of desire seem to confuse necessary and sufficient conditions & causes as well as contingent and prime causes and the like.

Baptism by water is the first recourse and must be preached in and out of season as such, but it is not the only recourse for those who through no fault of their own cannot avail themselves of it. Only Jesus truly knows to whom the no-fault exception applies. It is not that there is no exception, but only that its application, its efficacy, is so fraught with doubt and difficulty that only a madman would pass water by in favor of desire if water was available. In genuine hardship cases (so to speak) the Lord will Himself make up what is lacking.

Thus, to those who believe that only the baptism of water is efficacious unto salvation I ask why, in this case, are you throwing the baby out with the bathwater when you rightly defend Holy Mother Church, against the modernist, Catholic-in-name-only, satan-inspired error of using very narrow exceptions to eat up general and ordinary rules? The issue is not "is there an exception" (there is), but to whom and in what circumstances it applies. Please, in avoiding one error, do not run off into another, which is what the enemy wants you to do.
My guess is these brothers and sisters believe what they believe NOT because it is actually true (cf Augustine's Confessions), but because it seems good to them. They are perhaps the same folks one runs into who use their own reasoning to infallibly conclude that Mary didn't (voluntarily) die before her Glorious Assumption...which, of course, she did (my opinion, though one I share with Catholics from the beginning) thereby fulfilling scripture (we are still waiting on Enoch and Elijah...the two witnesses) and so as to share more perfectly in her Son's work of redemption and her work as intercessor and advocate of her children, for whom -- having voluntarily tasted death, voluntarily giving herself up to death, even death begriming at the foot of the cross (as the second Eve at the Tree of Life) she may more perfectly sympathize and intercede for us wretches.

To brothers and sisters such as these everyone is a heretic and a "liberal", except, of course, themselves. They see heresy and "liberalism" in baptism of desire: they see heretical tendencies and "liberalism" in the belief that Mary died. In both cases they demonstrate not obedience to the Church and / or the revealed attributes of God [I think it was to St. Catherine Emmerich that Mary said "get to know God by studying His attributes"] but the paucity of their understanding: in both cases they attack the Glory [whilst claiming to defend it] and mercy of God and the breathtaking wonders of God's mercy in permitting Mary to gain even more merit by her voluntary death so she can be even more effective in her role as Queen of Mercy. In anycase, these heretic-ferrets, these good people, are, I expect, fully prepared, in the vastness of their humility, to give an account
Dies Irae, dies illa...

...Iudex ergo cum sedebit, Quiqquid latet apparebit: Nil inultum remanebit... ...Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus... ...Ingemisco, tamquam reus: culpa rubet vultus meus: supplicanti parce Deus...
of their perfect obedience to every jot and tittle of the law, every inspiration of grace, every mercy they have received. I am confident and rejoice in their great fortune that they have never once committed a voluntary venial sin and their baptismal robe is spotless. Why is it, that I sometimes detect a subtle, "thank God I am not like one of those sinners" attitude in those who hold against the baptism of desire? Why do I sense a shadow of something that wants baptism of desire to be false, rather than an honest inquiry the answer (whether liked or disliked) to which will be humbly accepted?

The thieves:

All men, Mary excepting, have attempted, if only for an instant, to steal God's Glory by adoring themselves (hint to baptism by water only folks). Was the good thief (representing contrite humanity) baptized? Yes or no? We don't know. All we do know, is that he was perfectly contrite and abandoned to the Will of God whether he was baptized or not. Go with what you know, not idle speculation.

The Holy Innocents:

Were they baptized? All of them? Some of them? None of them? By whom? In whose name? We don't know. We do know that they are all Saints. Were they baptized in their own blood? Go with what you know, not idle speculation.

The hundreds of millions of "aborted" children throughout history, those passed through fire before the age of reason etc.:
Does this give anyone pause? Are these murdered PERSONS consigned to Hell or some sort of Limbo for all eternity? Really? Are you absolutely SURE about that? Put your life where your mouth is, offer your life to God right now in reparation (not propitiation) for the unexpiated, unatoned for original sin all these PERSONS contracted and thus intercede in union with the Immaculate Conception so that the Lord might take your cries for mercy seriously and through His Precious Blood might in some way unfathomable to us wash them of their inherited corruption outside of time / at the precise moment of their death agony. No? You won't? Hmmmmm.

How about we all make the Heroic Act, offering ALL our merits and ALL our indulgences (including the vast quantity of plenary we all have, being perfect or at least wholly free from any attachment to venial sin) we have gained and will gain (including the Apostolic Pardon) for such murdered or to-be-murdered persons so the Lord might take us seriously when we do, as I am sure we do, weep with grief in begging the Lord to have mercy on them. No? I thought not.

Still, pointless to pray really for anyone who of necessity must be consigned to a place other than Heaven because they weren't baptized with water through no fault of their own, right? How convenient. I sense a strain of something here in this neurotic opposition to baptism of desire...something utterly Calvinist and heretical is vaguely suggested, something proud, malicious and unrelenting: Angel of Light anyone?

Does not the Lord give every PERSON whom He thought of by NAME and loved before He created them (ALWAYS placing them in someone's womb folks) an opportunity in ways unfathomable to us to make an act of perfect contrition before or during their death agony whether in the womb or not? If He does not give this opportunity in His great Justice and Mercy then we ought to take another look at Calvin's doctrine of the predestination of the damned. If the unborn who are unbaptized and unpreached to are not given a chance, by an extraordinary movement of grace, to freely move their will and make or refuse to make an act of perfect contrition then in what way were they not created for the purpose of being damned? Jesus does not call souls by name in order to damn them. Each soul is given a chance it does not merit, including the unbaptized unborn.
"I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy."

Brothers and sisters, the "I" here, by the way, is not YOU. We all, at times, speak of things too marvellous, so repent in dust and ashes (cf Job). Stop counseling God. God alone knows the heart of man, He ALONE penetrates the depths, to the hidden things. May not the Lord God Almighty sanctify a PERSON in the womb? St. John the Baptist anyone?

May he not so sanctify at the moment of death in the womb pursuant to an act of perfect contrition when the desire is made present by an extraordinary movement of grace but the ordinary means are lacking?

May He not do so outside of the womb when the desire is made present by an extraordinary movement of grace but the ordinary means are lacking?

Those of you who claim baptism of desire is an illusion, tell me truly, define the moment of death and / or the death agony. What is it? Where is it? How is it? "Where" is the soul? What does it "see"? What does it "know"? Tell me how the Spirit of God moves, where He moves, when He moves and why He moves. Describe to me His motion, His operation, His particular action in each and every soul that HE AND HE ALONE (not you folks) LOVES WITHOUT RESERVE...or are YOU perfect in charity, knowledge, wisdom, understanding and power?

Tell me truly, are YOU 100% certain you are in a state of sanctifying Grace right now? Did you resist that last presentation and delectation of a temptation and refuse to give consent to know, that little thing about the wife being busy when the telemarketer called when she was really busy doing nothing...or that 50 year old-grandmother with a "Bowflex Body"...did you give consent to the evil suggested in the contradiction the temptation offered etc etc etc.

"I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy."

In anycase, this is what p1072 of the St Andrew Daily Missal (Bonaventure Publications) says viz the commemeration of St. Emerentiana (Virgin and Martyr, about AD 304), January 23rd. This Missal is NOT the Magesterium, no more than a certain Robert Bellarmine, but, who exactly, canonized this catechumen Saint? Could it have been one of the heirs to Peter?
However, to quote the Missal:

A foster-sister of St. Agnes, the virgin Emerentiana, while STILL A CATACHUMEN [emphasis mine] shed tears [is this water enough for you all :-)] on the tomb of her friend [St. Agnes] who had just been martyred. Some Pagans mocked at her grief. She, full of the divine virtue of which Jesus is the source (Collect), reproached the idolaters with their cruelty towards Agnes, and they in their fury stoned her on that very tomb. Baptized in her own blood, she went to join for evermore her Spouse and her sister.

Again, the Missal is not the Magesterium: the Missal could be wrong, perhaps she wasn't a catechumen, or, if she was, perhaps she had been baptized somehow, but, taking the Missal (the one we use in my Parish for the Tridentine Mass...we are so unorthodox in my parish) at face value, how could Emerentiana be "full of the [any!] divine virtue of which Jesus is the source" if she was not in a state of grace? A "divine virtue" is supernatural, NOT natural to man. To be full of any divine virtue indicates sanctifying grace, not an actual grace (how is one full of an actual grace anyway?) Pause for thought?

Who exactly is her spouse? Her SPOUSE? Surely not Jesus because Jesus is bridegroom only to those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (where One is so are Three) at the moment of death, right? That means Emerentiana was in a state of sanctifying grace, that she was a little, walking, talking, breathing, living temple of the Living God.

Yet she was not baptized with water.

She is in heaven awaiting the resurrection of the just.
Yet she was not baptized with water.

She sits at the right hand of Christ, wearing the crowns of Virgin and Martyr (more, I may say, than most of those who oppose through disbelief her very presence in heaven will ever merit) in likeness of Him who died for her.

Yet she was not baptized with water.

I expect each and every opponent of St. Emerentiana's non-water baptized presence in heaven to petition Rome to clarify the issue, i.e. to correct the mistake Rome made in her case and at the same time to petition Christ directly to have her removed to his left with the goats. No? Why not? Have your presumptuous words become stones in your mouths? If not, why not?

Still, perhaps, there are some perfectly obedient Catholics who are more perfect witnesses for Christ than this unfortunate un-baptized "Saint" who had the temerity to only shed her blood for love (er....desire) of Him in the midst of the enemies of Christ and Him crucified: only Jesus knows. He also knows that each of you who has a problem with the baptism Emerentiana represents needs to start planning to make your account to Him of your greater love because you laid down your life for Him whilst living, or, darn it, would have happily shed your blood if you had the chance. Yeah, right, whatever. Still, its always easy to claim a living martyrdom, what man can prove or disprove it: but Jesus knows who suffers living agony and DOESN'T grumble doesn't He?

Obedience -- not idle opinions -- is better than mans self-willed sacrifice: the Lord requires mercy not self-willed sacrifice. The Lord demands obedience and mercy (look again at the Cross). We are ordered to be obedient and merciful for this IS sacrifice and charity toward God. Some are lacking in both obedience and, I suspect, mercy (and errors in mercy are always accompanied with errors in justice, viz Calvin) because they are perhaps deficient in humility and humility as the root of charity subsists in truth: as Augustine says, they love something other than the truth for the truths own sake; they only love the truth when it confirms them, not when it refutes them.

Let us praise God for Emerentiana, a foolish virgin-martyr, who in cooperation with the Lord The Giver of Life destroys the wisdom of those who are wise in their own eyes and, thus, in their pride and of necessity, they must count as straw the implacable movement of her will and her martyrdom. Do not be a proud, stiff-necked people. That is why the Church is in the temporary mess it is in.

"a humble and contrite heart O LORD, you will not spurn."

Pax Robert,
Simon-Peter M

R. Sungenis: Simon, thank you so much for your thoughts. I'm sure they will help a lot of people.


Question 59A good Catholic History Book

Dr. Sungenis,

I recently bought William Bausch's Pilgrim Church because it came
recommended as a good, concise history of the Catholic Church. After only 4
chapters I have my doubts. Am I confused, or am I reading a liberal,
modernist slant on Church History?

1) - Bausch states that there is no evidence to support the claim that the apostles directly chose successors who in turn chose successors all the way down to today's bishops and priests. He explains that Apostolic Succession actually means the entire church (ie... all her members) received the mission of the apostles and elected their own bishops (which is how the episcopacy eventually could claim they had "Apostolic Succession"). This doesn't sound right to me, especially the way he describes it. It comes off as an ecumenical attempt to make all Christian churches's clergy valid through "Apostolic Succession". Quotes that bothered me:
"It is not a question of whether, as a matter of historical fact, the apostles wrote the books ascribed to them in the New Testament;...The point about the various forms is that although they required time before they developed to the point where they clearly emerge in history, they express the mind and character of the church as it had been since the apostles." - pg 46 (I thought it was a matter of historical fact. Am I wrong?)
"The succession is a succession of the function to bear witness to the apostolic tradition." (vice an actual historical lineage). Plus, "This function belongs to the church as a whole and to the collegial aspect of the episcopacy." - pg 52
"Any structure that serves this ideal is legitimate." (concerning the validity of the episcopate) - pg 53 "Is the episcopate essential to the church?" - pg 54 (to which he implies "No")
"The ecumenical question is that, with such variations, might it not be possible for the church of today to also recognize and even legitimatize other forms of church-community rule other than that of a bishop? Could not the church, which made the original clergy, appoint others?...More to the point, might not the Roman Catholic church recognize another church's clergy?" To cover himself he adds, "This would presume, of course, that this other church would agree on the basic doctrinal essentials with the Roman Catholic Church." but fails to define what the "basic doctrinal essentials" are. - pg 55
"Theologians are investigating these points, and ecumenists are working hard to reconcile Catholic-Protestant structures." - pg 56

2)- Bausch says there is no direct evidence to support the primacy of Peter. He says that the seed of it can be found in Scripture and that it eventually grew separate of the growth of the church, later to intersect and combine to form the episcopacy we know today. I thought MT 16:18-19 spoke for itself and gave very clear evidence (not implications to form a seed) for Peter's primacy.
Another quote: "The texts of the Christian Scriptures concerning Peter do not prove any kind of continuing office of supreme church authority, but on the other hand they do not rule out such a gradual development." - pg 49

3)- There are many digs at the Church over women ordination, the role of deacons, and priestly celibacy that lead me to believe Bausch is very much a liberal modernist. Am I right? Or am I not understanding his explanations of Church History. Surely his "Apostolic Succession" can't be true. There were too many passages to bother quoting here, but it's a good 5 or 6 straight pages in chapter 4 of pushing the liberal agenda.
Finally, in reference to all of this, can you recommend any trustworthy books on Church History, especially the early Church, Crusades, and Inquisition. I truly want to learn, but I do not know which teachers to trust and my bank account can't afford the trial & error system...

Thank you for your help and for your work,

LTJG Cornell

R. Sungenis: Vince. Take the book and use it for kindling or fertilizer. It isn't worth the paper it's written on. Try Warren Carroll's four volume set. It's much better.


Question 58Luther

Mr. Sungenis,
Thanks for what you do.
I read "The Facts About Luther," by Fr. O'Hare. It seemed like a thorough and reasonable book, but many people, Catholics and Protestants alike, said it was biased. I was not convinced. The bias claim is in a certain sense a truism, and has become a convenient and sophisticated way to avoid answering whether something is reliably accurate or not.

So my question is: Should I read another biography, or did I get a good picture from the good Father?

Thank you,
Patrick R

R. Sungenis: Patrick, you received a fair assessment from Fr. O'Hare, but I would also avail myself of other authors as well. In Appendix 1 of Not By Faith Alone I list the most prominent authors on Luther and their titles. As time went on, authors became more sympathetic to Luther, but of course, this was the beginning of the age of ecumenism and liberalism. It is a fact that most Catholic scholars have imbibed Luther's view of forensic justification, or try to meld infused grace with the forensic, which cannot be done.


Question 57Follow up on the Novus Ordo Mass and Its Validity

Dear Robert,
I was the person who submitted question #11 for March 2005. I'm sorry that I inadvertently forgot to include my name.
I have checked all the previous months but am still not sure what to think.

This is a very serious issue for me right now, something I have struggled with for years. I know you believe the English consecration in the Novus Ordo is valid. Some say it is invalid because it doesn't use the words of Our Lord. Help me out here, PLEASE.

Is it a valid consecration because:

1) Only "this is my body" and "this is my blood" is necessary for validity?

2) The Novus Ordo consecration is similar and basically says the same thing?

3) The Church has declared it valid and that's all that's needed?

4) The Church couldn't possibly approve an invalid rite because of indefectibility?

5) Other???

Joe B

R. Sungenis: Joe, all the reasons you give above are correct. In short, the only way someone could prove that the Novus Ordo is invalid is to first invalidate the Church who declares the Novus Ordo valid, and that, I assure you, is an impossibility.


Question 56On the Age of Mankind and Genealogies

Mr Sungenis,

I want to encourage you regarding your stance on the Calendar in Genesis. I noticed many years ago many of the points you made but I find few people who see what appears to be obvious. In reading your debate I noticed that those who disagree are clearly colored by church history and church traditions which may be incorrect. A plain reading of Genesis and the rest of the bible makes it obvious that 6000-7000 Year old earth is impossible.

A little simple research reveals that the word "Yalad" has multiple meanings determined by the context and purpose of the language surrounding it. A better english rendering could be "became the ancestor of". Also, the bible does make it clear when there is a direct Father to Son connection by explicitly stating "...and named him...".

I believe most people struggle when confronted with truth that does not match what they already believed, Jesus spoke of this in his day when he said that " wine is poured into new wineskins...". Jesus was simply saying people who were more focused on "IT" (Religion) than "HIM" (Truth) are not capable of receiving the truth especially if it contradicts what they believe it. We have to be willing to be wrong, you may disagree with this statement but I believe that the only Gospel or Theology we need is this to "Believe on the One the Father Has Sent". When we truly believe in Jesus, that he is exactly who he said he was, that he fulfills his promises and he conquered sin and paid for all of our sins then it will not be long before we desire to serve him above all else and see the results in works in our lives.

I am not a Catholic or any other denomination I believe that we are commanded not to separate ourselves into different groups saying "I follow Paul or I follow Barnabas..." rather we ought to simply seek to follow Jesus in all ways of our life waiting for his direction and call. Church history and traditions can be good but often times cloud what God wants to do in our lives now. The key is sincerity and being willing to be wrong. I sense in your writings a desire to see what is there and not to prove what you want the truth to be. Please continue with this attitude you will have much success.

May the Lord grant you wisdom in your dealing with these difficult issues.

Brian P

R. Sungenis: Brian, thank you for your commendation. Let me also say that, although it is true that YALAD can mean more than a father-son relationship, there are limits to how we can apply YALAD. We cannot, for example, put millions of years between the generations that come on either side of YALAD, since other information in the Bible will not allow it. I just had a dialogue with a so-called biblical-scientist who claimed there were 1.6 million years Enosh and the next patriarch. He needs this dating, of course, to support his evolutionary view, but the Bible no where teaches such extensions of time.


Question 55The role of women and authority

Dr. Sungenis,

I recently read a question on your site where someone posted a short essay claiming women have no business in authority period, in any capacity. Though I agree with certain points in the essay, especially on women readers and so-called "communion services". However, I am wondering what about Judith in the Old Testament? What about Joan of Arc who lead the French Armies, and for that matter Edith Stein who was brilliant. Moreover, the Blessed Virgin is the queen of heaven, and she has authority over us to dispense graces as she sees fit (according to DeMontfort), so how can we therefore say that no woman at any time can have authority over a man?

Thanks, look forward to your response,

Johnathon S

R. Sungenis: Johnathon, if a woman ever has authority to do what a man is supposed to do in his authority, it is an exception to the rule, not the rule. Even in the home, if the husband were incapacitated in some way and could not function in his normal role, the wife would take over the leadership responsibilities in his place, but it would resume right back to the husband once he is well. This, principle, of course, would not apply to the priesthood because that is an ordained office, which is not the case for the role of husband.

When we speak of authority outside the home and church we are referring to instances of official authority, permanent places of office or government, not the incidental times women may excel in society based on their talents (Edith Stein). Moreover, Joan of Arc's spiritual leadership in a time of crisis is perfectly acceptable, because she was not trying to usurp authority over men. As for the Blessed Virgin, she is always presented to us wearing a veil, because she is signifying that she is under the authority of God and her Son. Moreover, the Church does not teach that it is Mary who decides who receives graces; but only that she is the conduit through which these graces are received. God ultimately determines who will receive His graces.


Question 54Hail favored one?

Hello again Mr. Sungenis,
In reading the Gospel of Luke, I always wonder why so many translations render kecharitomene in Luke 1:28 as "favored one" rather than "full of grace". It is my understanding that a great deal of Marian doctrine is partially dependent on the translation of this verse. While I understand that protestant bias might play into downplaying the importance of the virgin Mary I cannot help but wonder why even translations that tout themselves as Catholic such as the NJB and the NRSVCE, etc. prefer this rendering, merely footnoting it as “or full of grace”. Is there any reason, arguing from the Greek, that one can say that it should be translated as "full of grace"?

God bless,

R. Sungenis: Joshua, here is some technical information for starters. Kecharitomene is a Greek perfect, passive, participle, which could literally be translated "having been graced," since the root of the word is CHARIS, which means grace, or it could also mean favor. Ephesians 1:6 uses the aorist, active, indicative echaritosen, meaning "he graced.". The LXX uses kecharitomeno in Sirach 18:17 as an adjectival participle. Other derivatives appear in 2Macc 3:33 and 4 Macc 5:8.

In Luke 1:28 kecharitomene is titular, sinc it follows the greeting CHAIRE, thus the name would be capitalize in English translations. Whereas the Greek could have used a simple noun or verb to address Mary, the unique feature of kecharitomene is that it is in the Greek perfect tense, denoting that the state of grace began in past time, by a completed action (hence "fully" accomplished), whose results continue in the present. A suitable translation to denote all these features might be "Fully-Graced One." The Greek passive voice denotes that Mary received the grace-title from an outside source, that is, God.

Although Luke 1:28 does not explicitly teach Mary's Immaculate Conception, its unique grammatical characteristics coincide very easily with the dogma.
Beginning with the Reformation, various translations of kecharitomene have tried to neutralize inferences to the Immaculate Conception (e.g., Theodore Beza used "freely beloved"; the KJV, RSV, NIV use "favored one" as do some modern Catholic translations (NAB, NJB). These translations attempt to portray the state of grace as extrinsic or forensic, not intrinsic or infused, and thus the difference in the translations from "full of grace" to "highly favored." This forensic application, of course, is a result of the Protestant doctrine of forensic imputation in justification originated by Martin Luther and John Calvin. The liberal Catholic scholars of the NAB have also accepted forensic justification, and they have also sought to demote the Immaculate Conception, and thus their natural choice for a translation would be "highly favored."

The Vulgate and the Douay-Rheims translate kecharitomene as "gratia plena" and "full of grace," respectively.

The New Testament uses the Greek PLERES CHARITOS ("full of grace") to describe Jesus in John 1:14) and Stephen (Acts 6:8), but these usages are not as specific to time, agent and continuity as kecharitomene.


Question 53John 4:16-18

Dear Mr. Sungenis,

I have a friend in MO. who has been debating a woman (via mail) who writes for their diocesan paper. She essessentially says that Jesus in John 4:16-18 when speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well, is using the word "idol" where the word "husband" is used and insists that the word "idol" is the correct word in the Hebrew language because the Samaritans were guilty of idol worship in their past.

My friend in reply says using the word "idol" in place of "husband" makes no contextual and rational sense. Naturally, she cites several Catholic scholars (which may very well be poisoning the well) and I didn't get the names of these scholars but can upon request. If her position is true it would read thus:

"Jesus said to her. "Go call your idol and come her." The woman answered him. "I have no idol." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no idol'; for you have had five idols, and he who is now with you is not your idol."

Have you heard this argument before?

What do you think of it?

pax christi,

R. Sungenis: Rick, the only "idol" worshiping going on here is the woman writing for the diocesan paper. The Greek word is ANDRA, which means "man" or "husband," and there are no Greek textual variants on this verse (which means no Greek manuscript used the Greek word for "idol," which is the Greek word EIDOLON).


Question 52Papal Infallibility

Mr. Sungenis, I have a friend who recently became Christian, and is now examining Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy (she's not going to be Protestant because she thinks sola scriptura is a joke). One of the problems she has with Catholicism is papal infallibility; I looked through some of my books and perused some websites, but I can't find many hard Scriptural proofs of papal infallibility. I know you wrote a letter on "The Biblical Prerogative for Papal Infallibility" to Scott Butler and the gang, so I was wondering if you could show me what Scriptures prove papal infallibility, and why?

Also, is Christian rock music bad because the musical style is
fundamentally flawed, as Michael Matt says?

God bless you.
-Edward C

R. Sungenis: Edward, the best verse I have found to prove papal infallibility is Matthew 16:18-19. Verse 19 states that whatever Peter binds will be bound in heaven. Since heaven cannot lie, then neither can Peter. Moreover, if Peter declares that there are only certain times that he binds and looses which will be considered infallible, and that is confirmed in heaven, then it cannot be a lie. This was done at Vatican I, and is retroactive for any time a pope fulfilled the criteria of Vatican I.

Yes, the style of rock music is seriously flawed. It's beat, tempo, wild runs on octaves, not to mention the hedonistic and promiscuous lyrics, are not what a Christian should be listening to.


Question 51CAI apologetics

Dear Dr. Sungenis:

I can't tell you how much I enjoy reading the apologetics questions on your site that you answer almost daily.

I've been following the Hahn commentary closely, and appreciate your insight into the difficulties with what he's saying re the Holy Ghost Whom I never thought of as feminine for the very simple reason of the theological problems with the Mother of God being conceived by the Holy Ghost. The bottom line for me is that we're talking about ONE God, regardless of the three Divine Persons in God.

God is Order, not confusion. And there is nothing more confusing than talking of God as feminine. How can the ONE God be parsed into the masculinity of the Father and the Son and a conjectured "femininity" of the Holy Ghost?

I'm reminded of the ridiculous assertions of those promoting sodomy as virtue instead of vice by saying that "Jesus Christ had nothing to say against homosexuality in the Bible." Jesus Christ as Second Person of the ONE Triune God, existing eternally, most certainly had a lot to say against homosexual acts as recorded throughout the Old and New Testaments, to include talking about the consequences of Mortal Sin more than any other New Testament figure.

When we talk of Creation we're talking about the Triune God. This is reinforced in New Testament Jude, I recall.

We're forgetting that just Jesus wasn't God by the fact of the His Incarnation alone, but for all time as Second Person of the Blessed Trinity Who, along with the Father and the Holy Ghost, always was, is, and always will be.

Bottom line, of all the Catholic apologetics out there, I recognize in yours the Faith of my youth growing up in the pre-conciliar Church. That is meant as a compliment to you.

God bless,
Gary M

R. Sungenis: Gary, all I can say is thank you so very much for your commendation. Not only do we appreciate you taking the time to send your thoughts, but we are also uplifted because they come from a devoted and high caliber individual such as yourself. In other words, you have been just as much of an encouragement to us as we apparently are to you. God keep you and bless you till He returns.


Question 50Why is Contraception a Sin?

To WHom it may concern - Being a former fundamentalist myself, I can sympathize with some of the tough questions regarding Catholic teaching I've yet to stumble upon. My good friend (until 4 months ago an evangelical), has stated the following question below. I believe this is a stumbling block to some of his evangelical family and friends, would you care to take a shot at this? God Bless & here goes, Tad....... From CRAIG: I have some "technicality" questions that I'm hoping more learned men like you can help me figure out. 1) It's my understanding that contraception is a grave sin because "though shall not kill". However, by throwing away sperm, as in ejaculation into a condom or obtaining a vasectomy, is one really throwing away (killing) "life" since life occurs when the sperm is received by an egg? 2) Also, why isn't Natural Family Planning a sin, too? That may not be contraception in the form of using something like a condom or sponge, but it is a deliberate withholding of intercourse specifically to not procreate. I know that God gave us free will to choose and we can certainly choose to abstain. But why isn't the free-will decision to not have kids by not having sex not considered going against God's natural and biblical law? Is this simply because in one way it's abstention (self-denial, or maybe better stated as obedience to God's natural law) yet in the other way (contraception), it's self-indulgence (because the sperm and egg have absolutely no way of coming together by man's intentional action to have sex yet use contraception)? Blessings to you, Craig

R. Sungenis: Craig, contraception is a grave sin not merely because a fertilized egg's life may terminated. That is only one form of contraception. Contraception is a sin because one is refusing to obey the divine command to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28). In other words, it is not an option for married couples regarding the bearing of children. They are required to have children, if they are so blessed of God. This is why the Church will allow an annulment if one of the spouses refuses to have children. This is not their world, it is God's world. We only share in God's world, and we will do so only if we obey God's rules. Apparently, God has great things in store for us in the New Heaven and New Earth. Populating that new universe is made possible by our obedience to God in this universe.

As for Natural Family Planning, Humanae Vitae (the 1969 encyclical by Paul VI reiterating the Church's historical stand against contraception) allowed the natural (not artificial) means of postponing pregnancy through one's knowledge of the feminine cycle if there were "serious" (some say "grave") reasons to do so (e.g., health of the mother, very poor economic conditions, etc).

It was not a carte blanche check for women to postpone having children for any indefinite reason, or even a means for the couple to "space out" their children. Those are prerogatives that married couples simply do not have.
Unfortunately, NFP has been highly abused by Catholic couples, since its preponderant use today centers around such "spacing" of children, a "spacing" that is based only on the preferences of the couple. According to Humanae Vitae, and in conjunction with the teaching of Pius XI in Casti Connubii, the only time "spacing" would be allowable is if the mother's health is an issue, and that condition needs to be certified by a medical professional who is unbiased against the Church's teaching, not the parents themselves. On another note, NFP simply does not work as well as it is purported to work. The feminine cycle is just too complicated and obscure for one to depend on NFP.

In short, couples need to enter marriage and live their married lives with the cognizance that, at any time they have conjugal relations they must be open to the conception of life. Any attempt to forestall conception, whether naturally or artificially, barring any "serious" problems in the life of the couple, is a sin.

Couples also have to be careful that they do not inhibit their conjugal duty by abstaining from sexual relations on an ongoing basis. That, St. Paul says, may lead to sin. The only reason a couple could legitimately abstain from sexual relations on an ongoing basis is for certified medical reasons or, as St. Paul puts it, "to pray and fast" (1 Cor 7:5). .


Question 49Baptism by Desire, Part 4

Dear Robert

# 1

In other words, according to Ott, "Baptism by Desire" is not "Of
Faith" but is "Proximate to the Faith", although it is clear that he
knows that Trent did define that justification can be had by desire as "Of Faith". IF Ott is correct, then Trent did not have "Baptism by Desire" in mind when it solemnly defined that justification can be had by desire.

R. Sungenis: Stephen, read what I wrote. I said Ott's designations were his own, and they were placed in his answer due to the pedigree of the doctrine, not its dogmatic truth. You are simply placing too much weight on a mere title. Trent didn't distinguish between "Proximate" and "De Fide," and neither should you.

# 2

It seems very strange that a person can enter heaven without the Baptismal Character, although he cannot receive the sacraments (except baptism) on earth without it . Further, Ott teaches that the Baptismal Character incorporates one into the Church, which is Christ's Mystical Body. If the Baptismal Character is not important because "Baptism by Desire" does not confer it, than being incorporated into Christ's Mystical Body is not necessary for salvation.

R. Sungenis: But that is what Trent and Ott said. Are you now distancing yourself from Ott because he says a person receiving Baptism of Desire can enter heaven?

Stephen, what I find puzzling is why you fight this so much. What is it about allowing people into heaven (via Baptism of Desire) that is so abhorrent? Wouldn't we want to give people every opportunity to be saved rather than see them burn in hell? It's one thing to say that only through the Catholic Church can someone be saved, but it is quite another thing to start dissecting Catholic doctrine in order to keep as many people out of heaven as possible. The fact is that water baptism is not always possible. Trent knew that, and your common sense knows it, yet somehow you keep insisting, in clear opposition to Trent's specific language that the desire OR the laver can justify, that there can be a contingency plan for those who, for some legitimate reason, cannot receive the water. I find that rather disconcerting, and almost Pharisical. Yes, defend Catholic dogma, but leave the difficulties and unknowns to God, for in the end, it is He alone who decides who is saved.


Question 48Divorce in Matthew 19:9 and Catholic Tradition

Hello Robert,
I know it is firmly grounded in tradition that matrimony can't be dissolved even on account of fornication of one of the spouses, but scripture says to the contrary; "Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery" Mt 19:9 (emphasis added). Why the discrepancy between tradition and scripture?

R. Sungenis: Michael, there is no discrepancy. In the Greek grammar, the exception clause refers only to the relative clause "whoever divorces his wife" not "and marries another." If you want a full-blown 20 page analysis of this subject, it is included in my Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, Matthew, Vol. 1, pp. 307-327. You'll be amazed at how the Bible defends the Catholic view.


Question 47Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life"

There has been much talk on the networks about the book, The Purpose Driven Life (due to the recent hostage situation). What do you know about this book and why is it so popular? I know it is written by a Protestant minister, but is there sound teaching in this book?


R. Sungenis: Amy, there is always a measure of truth in books like The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Who wouldn't want a "purpose-driven" life? Even Dr. Phil says some very good things on his television show, often much better than Catholic bishops and priests I've heard of late. This is precisely why God told Israel in Dt 30:11-15:

"For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, `Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, `Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 14 But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. 15 "See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.
In other words, it's easy to know the right thing to do. All one needs is a set of absolute principles taken from God's commandments and things will go quite well in your life, at least reasonably so.

But then, of course, comes the times we falter and sin, and that area can only be covered by true religion, and the only place true religion resides is in the Catholic Church. And this reality forces us to reexamine our "purpose-driven" life. We recognize that it's not just about keeping a set of goals and principles, but it involves the whole nine yards, that is, EVERYTHING the Church teaches regarding faith, morality, the Church, heaven, hell, etc. Anything that does not have ALL the components will eventually fail in giving people ALL they need to live the life God expects of them, including Rick Warren and Dr. Phil.


Question 46Baptism by Desire, Part 3

Dear Robert

In Dr Ludwig Ott's "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma", he classes
"Baptism by Desire" as "Proximate to the Faith" instead of "Of Faith".

If what you said is true, he should have classed it as "Of Faith",
which he did not at all in his manual.

Who is right - you or him ? Please clarify.

Thanks and regards
Stephen H
Republic of Singapore

R. Sungenis: Ott's designation are his own and he gives them for his own reasons, mostly based upon the testimony of Tradition. Since Baptism of Desire does not enjoy an overwhelming pedigree, Ott conditions his judgment.

The fact is that Ott quotes from Trent in his second paragraph ("without the washing unto regeneration or the desire for the same") so obviously he must admit that Baptism of Desire is an infallible doctrine. Ott even goes so far to say that "Baptism of Desire is the explicit or IMPLICIT desire for sacramental baptism," which is far more than I think you would like to apply it.
Further, having to explain why Trent included Baptism of Desire, Ott goes on to explain that "Baptism of desire works ex opere operantis. It bestows Sanctifying Grace, which remits original sin, all actual sins, and the external punishments for sin."

Sounds like Ott hold the same view I do.

The only qualification Ott has is that "The baptismal character is not imprinted, nor is it a gateway to the other sacrament." That is quite understandable, since Baptism of Desire was never meant to be a substitute for water baptism, but merely a conditional baptism if water baptism was not received. No one could claim a right to receive the other sacraments if his only claim was baptism by desire.


Question 45Extra ecclesiam nulla salus, Part 3

When I said "council of Trent" I was referring to the catechism resulting from that council (which you can find at the following website and which does specifically restrict baptism of desire to catechumens).

R. Sungenis: The Catechism does not "restrict" it to catechumens; it gives catechumens the first priority, as does the 1992 Catechism. Neither the Pius V catechism nor the John Paul II catechism makes any specific statement saying that catechumens are the only recipients of Baptism of Desire and that there can be no others, and neither does any other official Church document.


Question 44Baptism by Desire, Part 2

Dear Robert

You said to me by e-mail :

"The syntax and grammar of the passage in Chapter 4 of Session 6 is clear that EITHER the laver of water OR the desire for the laver procures justification. I don't know how much clearer it could be."

However, learned theologians from Trent onwards treated "Baptism by Desire" NOT as "Of Faith" ("de fide"), as they did with water Baptism. Instead, they classed "Baptism by Desire" as "proximate to the Faith", "common teaching" and so on, which differs greatly from "Of Faith". If you are right, why were they wrong all along ? If they are right, you cannot be right, too. Please clarify.

Stephen H
Republic of Singapore

R. Sungenis: Stephen, I don't know precisely what "theologians" you have in mind, but I can assure you that theologians don't establish what the Catholic Church holds as doctrine. Theologians debate back and forth on issues for years, and, in fact, some of these very "theologians" took a more stringent view of Baptism of Desire. In fact, the only reason these "theologians" are talking about Baptism of Desire is that the Council of Trent infallibly stated it as an option to obtaining Justification. Unfortunately, since the Council did not delineate when Baptism of Desire was to be applied, all kinds of "theologians" have registered their opinion as to when it comes into play. But until the Church herself declares the precise application, all the opinions in the world won't amount to a hill of beans. As it stands, Baptism of Desire, as stated by Trent, is on an equal basis with the actual receiving of the laver of water. That much is clear.


Question 43Genesis days of creation

Hello Robert
Can you recommend any resources on the genesis days of creation? Are the days of creation meant to be taken literally especially in the light of current scientific theory?

R. Sungenis: Phil, yes, the days of Genesis are meant to be taken literally. That is what all the Fathers taught, and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as all the Councils who had anything to say on the issue. Today's modern science is a total farce in the areas of cosmogony and cosmology. True science has shown that current theories are totally bogus.

In order to obtain a good book on the subject, write to the Kolbe Center. I have forwarded this to its director, Hugh Owen. He will contact you and make arrangements to send you the book we published in 2002 for our symposium in Rome.


Question 42Help!

Dear Dr. Sungenis,

I've only just stumbled onto your website (I'm also halfway through your Not By Words Alone), and I'm getting extremely frustrated. But not because of you, your colleagues, or what you teach. Let me try to explain...

I'm 25 and just truly delving into my Catholic Faith. I am not the sharpest stick in the pile, but I'm not the dullest either. Through serious focus, I can understand and follow most of your arguments and statements, although sometimes y'all throw in a word or two that trips me up. My wife became Catholic two years ago, and I am currently volunteering as the Catholic Lay
Leader for my ship (the USS PONCE).

Dr. Scott Hahn's books and lectures played a tremendous role in the conversion of my wife. They've also helped my mother, father, and myself to understand a great deal of our Faith which we'd taken for granted for so long. Dr. Hahn teaches with forcefulness and clarity that is very refreshing. Now, either by chance or by direction, I stumbled upon a sharp debate between you and Dr. Sippo over the validity of Dr. Hahn's theology,
and it seems to me that you are correct in your critique (although I'm not familiar enough with the teachings of the Father's quoted to truly know).

But where does that leave me?

I know that I am still Catholic, and my heart burns for the Truth of the Church, but it's also getting fed up with all the confusion!! The core of my Faith remains firm. I have not lost clarity on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, or in any of the Sacraments, or in the Liturgy or the inerrancy of Scripture, but beyond that I'm not so confident anymore.
Which of Dr. Hahn's teachings are not in agreement with Church Tradition?

His books have carried the Imprimatur, I assumed they were WITHOUT ERROR! How am I supposed to figure out what the heck is right or wrong? That's why I look for the IMPRIMATUR! Is his teaching on First Born Priesthood untenable? Is his statement on the identity of Melchizidek off in left field? If the Imprimatur is unreliable, where does that leave the Authority of the Magesterium??

I am taking a course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church from Catholic Distance University in the hopes of pursuing a Masters of Arts in Religious Studies, but beyond the Catechism itself, how do I know this University is teaching the True Catholic Church? Are they trustworthy? Or are they a
haven of Liberal, Neo-Catholic ideas like your description of Catholic University in DC? Heck, it might even be the same University for all I know. Should I even pursue a degree from this institution? Where on earth do I find out which Catholic Colleges are actually good Catholic Colleges??

I see, everyday, the need for a revitalized Catechesis, but what do I do? Do I have to unlearn what I have learned and take only what I glean from the Catechism. I do not have the time, right now, to pore over the teachings of the Church Fathers to discern for myself, that's what I depended on you Catholic Apologists to help me out with, but now I don't even know who to trust?

My frustration is sharp because I have been striving to share the Catholic Church with all those around me. As a Lay Leader, I'm in a unique position on my ship to witness to the Church's teachings to both Protestants and Non-believers alike. I live my witness in every part of my life, and while I can't say that I've "converted" anybody, I know that I have changed their opinion of Catholics. I was hoping, on my next Deployment, to get involved in genuine Apologetics (hence me reading your book), but I don't want to give out false information (like Dr. Hahn's teachings) so what do I do? Are all of Dr. Hahn's teachings bad? Is his emphasis on Divine Sonship misplaced? There are things that he's said that have truly stirred me, was I just being fooled? What about my wife, who has felt so much more
comfortable with the Catholic Church after reading "Catholic For A Reason" (which also carries the Imprimatur)? Or what about his book on Confession, "Lord, Have Mercy"? Is there a trustworthy resource to tell me what's good and what's bad?

That's my dilemma. Not really a crisis of Faith, because I still believe in the Catholic Church, but a crisis of Trust and Confusion. Where is my Church?? How can I use the unity of the Catholic Church as a witness against the fractured, self-centered nature of the Protestant churches when I don't even know what Catholic theologians are arguing about. Heck, they're nutball priests in France letting Hindu rituals take place on my
Church's altar!! What kind of Bizarro world is this? If it's this
frustrating for me, an intellectual type actively pursuing my Faith, how impossible will it be for the average Catholic to figure out what's going on.

Sorry to vent, but I'm very frustrated.

Very Respectfully,
Vince C

PS - I almost never use double punctuation, if that gives you any idea of how frustrated I am right now.

R. Sungenis: Vince, let me see if I can help. First, let me say I understand your frustration. Consider that you've gone from the "honeymoon" phase of your Catholicism to the reality of actually living together with human beings that just don't see things the same way all the time. What I have said of Dr. Hahn's teachings I meant. I don't retract a single thing (and you haven't read the half of it). Dr. Hahn and I disagree on a lot of things, and I'm sure there will be other things down the road. Recently, Dr. Hahn and I had a small email exchange. In my part of the exchange I told him that my critiques against him are for the betterment of the Church, since we are all striving for truth. He did not disagree. We can only arrive at truth if we rub iron against iron. (What I don't appreciate from Hahn is his somewhat smug attitude that he need not address his critics, and complaining that the critiques are "personal" attacks against him. Nothing could be farther from the truth). If we examine the history of the Church, we will see fierce and vehement debates amongst its theologians in every century. Reason? Because theology is difficult, and Bible interpretation is difficult, and it will always be that way. If you think you've found Nirvana in coming to the Catholic Church, I suggest a thorough reality check. And this is especially true today when liberalism has made vast inroads into the Church after Vatican II. All I can tell you is keep striving for truth, keep praying to God, keep your heart on Jesus Christ, respect the pope and obey him when he requires it, and know that, since we are the true Church, THIS is where Satan will concentrate his attack. I'm sure Dr. Hahn and I can agree on one thing: Come Lord Jesus!


Question 41Question About Israel

I am curious about your thoughts on the Israeli and Palestinian

I have been bothered by the evangelical's rapture theory that is
willing to place innocent Israelis in harm's way in order to fulfill
their end times prophesies. They seem more interested in goading both sides into violence and war so Armageddon can start than promoting a peaceful coexistence between to two sides. I find Hal Lindsey particularly fired up about this issue. What happened to Jesus's beatitude, "Blessed are the peacemakers..."?

Maybe peace isn't possible between them, but we'll never know if we don't try.

As I said, I'd be curious to know your opinion.


R. Sungenis: Jerry, my opinion is that unless the Palestinians are given back their homeland, and the Jews and their Zionist promoters (including Hal Lindsey, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, et al) stop insisting that the Jews own Palestine by divine right, there will be no end to the conflict in the Middle East. It was a mistake to give the land of Israel back to the Jews in 1948 considering that, logistically, it is surrounded by Arabs who hate them. The Jews would have been better off in Uganda or Madagascar (which was the original UN plan for them, but the Jews insisted that they should have Palestine because "God gave it to them").

What they and their Evangelical promoters fail to understand is that God already fulfilled the promises of land to the Jews (Joshua 21:44-45; Nehemiah 9:7-8; 1 Kings 8:56), and since that time He has taken the land away from them because of their sins and their refusal to bow to Christ. He owes them no more land.

Therefore, the whole "divine promise" basis for giving Palestine to the Jews today is built on a farce, a total misinterpretation of Scripture. Of course, we shouldn't be surprised at this, for the very two entities that have been the Catholic Church's biggest antagonists in the last few centuries are the Jewish Zionists and the Protestants. Now both of them are working together. They think they are ushering in the so-called Rapture and Millennial Kingdom (following Darby's doctrine from the 1800s) but what they are really doing, being deceived by Satan as they are, is bringing in the reign of Antichrist who, as most of the saints have told us, will be a product of of Jewish heritage.


Question 40Baptism by Desire

Dear Mr Sungenis

This is for the "Q and A" section of your website.

I made the following observations between Baptism by Desire, the CDF's Declaration "Dominus Jesus", approved by the Pope in 2000, and what you claimed to be Trent's supposed infallible support for "Baptism by Desire" as a replacement for the Sacrament of Baptism :

On # 20 and #21 of the Declaration "Dominus Jesus" :

1. It is affirmed that the Church is necessary for salvation.

2. It is affirmed that a person enters the Church by the Sacrament of Baptism.

3. "Baptism by Desire" is not mentioned explicitly.

4. There is no mention of the Sacrament of Baptism being replaced by "salvific grace" as an alternate means to entering the Church and being a member of this Church.

5. "Enlighten" in the sentence "... but ENLIGHTENS them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. ..." seems to indicate that the non-Catholics who receive the "salvific grace" in question will be led to enter the Church, sooner or later.

It would seem to me that what is taught in this part of "Dominus
Jesus" is that :

1. Non-Catholics with the right dispositions can be justified without being members of the Church before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism and

2. They can and will be led to enter the Church by receiving the
Sacrament of Baptism ("enlighten").

There is, strictly speaking, nothing in "Dominus Jesus" to support the claim that "Baptism by Desire" can replace the Sacrament of Baptism for salvation (and not just justification).

Before I end, I would like to note that all these do not at all favour your position that Trent had infallibly defined that "Baptism By Desire" could replace the Sacrament of Baptism for salvation. Trent did define that a person could be justified before Baptism with the right dispositions, but did not define that "Baptism by Desire" could replace the Sacrament of Baptism.

May I have your comments on the "Q and A" section , please ?

Thank you and regards
Stephen H
Republic of Singapore

R. Sungenis: Stephen, what is said in Dominus Jesus is a matter of debate, since it seems ambiguous in various places. The Council of Trent, on the other hand, is much less ambiguous regarding the Baptism of Desire. The syntax and grammar of the passage in Chapter 4 of Session 6 is clear that EITHER the laver of water OR the desire for the laver procures justification. I don't know how much clearer it could be. Moreover, it makes little difference whether Dominus Jesus refers to Baptism of Desire, since its object was not to give a definitive teaching on Baptism of Desire. If it did do so, then surely it would not attempt to contradict what Trent said about Baptism of Desire.


Question 39Has Russia Been Consecrated?

Mr. Sungenis

My wife recently ordered from CAI a 70 page article on Fatima.

This article is simply fantastic.

It is well written and very informative.

So many Catholics are misinformed on this topic I would like to see this article much more widely circulated.

I would like to make a two suggestions:

1 - Add foots notes.

2 - Provide this article on your website for free.

I didn't mind paying $18 for the article however I feel this topic is so important that by providing it free you would be doing a great service to our lady.

Just out of curiosity

Have you ever read the excellent book by Fr. Denis Fahey The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism ?

It seems to me that the entire post VCII meltdown is simple the outcome of the program of Organized Naturalism described in Fahey's book. It is my opinion that the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of the BVM is the mechanism given to the Church by God to check the spread of organized naturalism. Since the Church has refused to do the consecration the program of Organized Naturalism discussed by Fr. Fahey has come to pass.

Do you have any further thoughts on this topic?


Jeff J - Cedar Rapids IA

R. Sungenis: Jeff, Fr. Fahey has a lot of good things to say. He was a faithful priest who would not compromise with the latest fads in politics or culture. As for Fatima, it is the quintessential sign of our times. Disobedience to the Fatima revelations is the most salient tell-tale feature of the decline of the Catholic Church and the virtual apostasy among its members in the hierarchy.


Question 38Infallibility of Baptism of Desire

Dear Mr. Sungenis:

Your recent correspondent Matthew [last name removed] attempted to show that the passage from the Decree on Justification was not infallible by quoting the Catholic Encyclopedia. It should be noted that the Encyclopedia's entry on "General Councils" explicitly states that the Tridentine chapters, not just the canons, are infallible:

An opinion too absurd to require refutation pretends that only these latter canons (with the attached anathemas) contain the peremptory judgment of the council demanding unquestioned submission. Equally absurd is the opinion, sometimes recklessly advanced, that the Tridentine capita are no more than explanations of the canones, not proper definitions; the council itself, at the beginning and end of each chapter, declares them to contain the rule of faith [. . .] All that may be conceded is that the chapters of both councils contain the doctrina catholica, i.e. the authorized teaching of the Church, but not always and invariably dogmata formalia, i.e. propositions of faith defined as such.

The Introduction of the Decree on Justification clearly states:
the holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost [. . .] intends, for the praise and glory of Almighty God, for the tranquility of the Church and the salvation of souls, to expound to all the faithful of Christ the true and salutary doctrine of justification [. . .] which the Catholic Church under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost has always retained; strictly forbidding that anyone henceforth presume to believe, preach or teach otherwise than is defined and declared in the present decree.And the conclusion of the chapters has: After this Catholic doctrine on justification, which whosoever does not faithfully and firmly accept cannot be justified, it seemed good to the holy council to add to these canons, that all may know not only what they must hold and follow, but also what to avoid and shun. And the last canon clearly defines the entire Decree as infallible: If anyone says that the Catholic doctrine of justification as set forth by the holy council in the present decree, derogates in some respect from the glory of God or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, and does not rather illustrate the truth of our faith and no less the glory of God and of Christ Jesus, let him be anathema.

Also, he seems to have misread the Catechism of Trent, as he states that it did not teach Baptism of Desire. On the contrary, the Catechism states in the article on the Sacrament of Baptism: On adults, however, the Church has not been accustomed to confer the Sacrament of Baptism at once, but has ordained that it be deferred for a certain time. The delay is not attended with the same danger as in the case of infants, which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters, their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail them to grace and righteousness.


R. Sungenis: Patrick, I didn't tell Matthew that the decrees were not infallible. I only said that, if, for the sake of argument, we said the decrees were not infallible and only the statement with anathemas were infallible, Matthew would still lose the argument, since the anathema statements reiterate what was said in the decrees.


Question 37Concerning sin against chastity

Dear Dr. Sungenis,
I must ask a certain question concerning a sin against, for I have gotten many different answers on it but am still confused as how I should regard as a sin: Is the sin of masturbation and even watching any sort of pornographic material a mortal sin or does the gravity of the sin as being mortal or venial depend on how much either one or both are done and if one is trying to repent continuously. I apologize if the question could be a bit explicit, for I am little embarrassed on getting moral advice on this issue. I am not sure who to ask. Recently, the priest at my university told me it is rarely a sin and that "according to psychological studies," he seemed to imply to me that the will of a person can even be useless and nothing can be done to stop certain actions that we may do. Yet, I have thought constantly though that the will can be weakened but still can be used nonetheless. I pray you are doing well in the work you do for our Lord and thank you very much for all the good advice you have given me. God bless you through the Blessed Mother.
Pax in nomine Christi per Mariam,
Teodoro J B

R. Sungenis: Teodoro, the Church has traditionally held that masturbation is a mortal sin. The only time it would not be a mortal sin is if there is some mitigating factor (youth, psychological problems, etc), but then, of course, it would be a venial sin. Mortal sin requires the full act of the will, i.e., "I know this is wrong but I'm going to do it anyway." Those who masturbate usually know what they are doing. Pornographic pictures are almost always involved, or the creation of pornographic mental dreams or images. The release of semen other than for reproduction is also a mortal sin. It's the same mentality as contraception. Moreover, God has instilled in us our sexual urges and they are good, but God has also created the psychological process wherein if we resist the urges when they are not appropriate, we will strengthen our character and mental resolve to face the other tough issues of life. In other words, chastity will prepare you to solve the other difficulties of life, for chastity will implant patience, self-control, wisdom, satisfaction, holiness within your mind and soul. On the other hand, giving in to sexual urges when not appropriate will create weakness, guilt, estrangement, failure, lack of self-control, etc, and these you will carry with you when you face the non-sexual difficulties of life.


Question 36New Catechism and the Jews

Below are several quotes from the new catechism in reference to the "mass conversion of Jews". It seems to imply that, 1) the Jews still have a special place within Salvation History, thus being a primary reference point for Catholics, preceding from the notion of the true "Israel" being the Church, 2) that the Jews are still validly called "God's people", and 3) men are still justified by the Noaic covenant which would seem to render null and void the New and Eternal Covenant as being superfluous. I have quoted paragraph 674 from the new catechism, which then cross references paragraphs 840 and 58. I have also included the footnotes. It seems to me that the catechism heretical states that the Jews' waiting for the Messiah can be viewed as legitimate because Christ will come again, ergo, they do not wait in vain. This is an egregious error as it re-orients the entire Catholic Church's teaching regarding the Messiah and Salvation. Could you please comment on these passages and my understanding of them. Thank you in advance,
Yours in JMJ+
Matthew S

674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.

R. Sungenis: This doesn't say much except to reiterate what St. Paul said in Romans 11. You will find that most of the Catechism's treatment of this issue is to make citations from Scripture without explaining what they mean. We can safely say from the context of Romans 11 that "all Israel" does, indeed, include the Jews. But notice that the Catechism was careful not to say how many Jews will be in "all Israel." The reason is that the context of Romans 11 insists that only a "remnant" will be included (Romans 11:5, 14, 23), and no one knows just how big a remnant is. END

557 Lk 21:27; cf. Mt 25:31.
558 Cf. 2 Thess 2:7.
559 LG 48 § 3; cf. 2 Pet 3:13; Rom 8:19-22; 1 Cor 15:28.
560 Cf. 1 Cor 11:26; 2 Pet 3:11-12.
561 1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:17,20.
562 Cf. Acts 1:6-7.
563 Cf. Isa 11:1-9.
564 Cf. Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 7:26; Eph 5:16; 1 Pet 4:17.
565 Cf. Mt 25:1, 13; Mk 13:33-37; 1 Jn 2:18; 4:3; 1 Tim 4:1.
566 Cf. Rev 22:20.
567 Acts 1:7; Cf. Mk 13:32.
568 Cf. Mt 24:44; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 2:3-12.
569 Rom 11:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39.
570 Acts 3:19-21.
571 Rom 11:15.
572 Rom 11:12, 25; cf. Lk 21:24.
573 Eph 4:13; 1 Cor 15:28

R. Sungenis: The only questionable phrase here is "the full inclusion" of the Jews, but this really presents no problem, for since it is the remnant only of Jews that are saved, then that is their "full inclusion." Every Jew who God intends to save will be saved, and that is why Paul can say, "and so, all Israel will be saved." END

840 And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

R. Sungenis: On the surface, this paragraph seems alarming, but the Catechism puts a disclaimer at the end that more or less saves it from accusation. The disclaimer is "and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus." It is a fact that Jews today "await their Messiah." The Catechism is only stating a fact. But as to whether their "awaiting" is true and accurate, the Catechism assures us that they "do not know or misunderstand Christ Jesus." The Muslims await their Messiah, too. So do the Buddhists, and so do most religions of the world. But whether they are correct in their identification of the Messiah is another story altogether. END

58 The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel.13 The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchisedek - a figure of Christ - and the upright "Noah, Daniel, and Job".14 Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad".

15 13 Cf. Gen 9:16; Lk 21:24; DV 3.
14 Cf. Gen 14:18; Heb 7:3; Ezek 14:14.
15 Jn 11:52.

R. Sungenis: There is nothing wrong with the above paragraph. The Noachic covenant, in fact, was a Gentile covenant, not a Jewish covenant. All the paragraph is saying is that men can, and are expected, to live by the rudiments of God's laws, for it is by those laws that all will be judged. Paul reiterates this truth in Romans 2:14-15.


Question 35Infallibility question

I ordered your talks on papal infallibility, and it is an amazing talk. I learned a lot from hearing them. Could you clarify for me, perhaps in a brief definition, what we mean when we say the ordinary/universal magisterium is infallible? i.e., is contraception an example of an infallible teaching from the universal/ordinary magisterium? I know SSPXers argue that for it to teach infallible, it has to be universal in space and time; whereas sedevacantists say the "universal in time" aspect does not apply. What is a good, concise, brief definition of the ordinary/universal magisterium, and at what point can we determine it is teaching something infallibly? I have tried searching Ott, Radio Replies, Catholic Dictionary, and the Catechism for a good answer but can't find one.

God bless,


R. Sungenis: You can't find one because it is a rather undefined area of Church teaching. On the one hand, it goes without saying that anything that has been consistently taught by the Magisterium becomes part of her ongoing universal/ordinary Magisterium. It is an inherent definition of the nature of the Magisterium. On the other hand, as for determining whether a certain teaching is infallible, you won't be able to be certain unless the Church says to you: "This is infallible," or tells you in some other "manifest" way that a certain teaching, whether papal or conciliar, is infallible. If you have any question about whether a certain teaching is infallible, you can always write to the Vatican and find out. That's what is good about being Catholic.


Question 34Can a Priest say Mass Alone?

Robert, Another issue that came up in the bible study was that Priests were forbidden, by Canon Law, to celebrate mass alone. I thought that they were allowed to celebrate mass alone and suggested as much to the leader of the bible study, but he insisted that the only reason a Priest should be celebrating mass alone is if no one shows up for the masses that are offered for the Parish. Is this true? If it is allowed and Canon Law stipulates it can you give me a reference. Also, if it has been forbidden by the new Canon Law of 1983 or the older code can you give me the paragraph references for that. Once again thank you so much for your help. Deo Gratias, Kenneth K

R. Sungenis: Kenneth, Canon 906 says: "Except for a just and reasonable cause, a priest is not to celebrate the eucharistic sacrifice without the participation of at least some member of the faithful."


Question 33- Novus Ordo Ordinations/Confession

Mr. Sungenis,
I have recently heard rumors that many of the Novus Ordo ordinations are invalid, hence making it risky to go to confession to a Novus Ordo priest without looking into their orders. If one goes to confession to a Novus Ordo priest, knowing ahead of time of this "risk", would the Church still supply in the event that the priest was not validly ordained? It is sad that there is such confusion within the Church, and it gets difficult to sort through these issues. I do not want to become scrupulous, and I certainly do not want to have to "investigate" a priest's holy orders before going to Confession. As you know, it is not always possible to get to a traditional priest.
Thank you for your help,

R. Sungenis: Anonymous, unless it can be determined by a legitimate ecclesiastical authority (not you, or me, or any other lay person) whether a priest has valid orders, then we are to assume, based on the perpetual existence of the Catholic Church and the gates of hell not prevailing against it, that the orders are valid. If you have any personal doubt about this, and have committed a mortal sin, then by all means, find a priest with whom you feel comfortable and confess your sin.


Question 32Book recommendations

Dear Bob,
I took your recommendation and bought the 38-volume set of the Church Fathers from – great recommendation! My question is: are there any commentaries available from them that are worth buying? They have several sets available and I didn’t know any of the people who wrote them…thought maybe you would.
God Bless,
Greg H

R. Sungenis: Wonderful, Greg. I'm sure they will come in handy for you.


Question 31Our ability to look into the past with telescopes

Hi Robert,

I just had a question about our ability to look into the past with high powered telescopes. Scientists claim that by looking through the Hubble telescope we can see how the universe was at its infancy. The speed of light is always used as the measure for "how far into the past we can see."

This all sounds very fishy to me. It turns the telescope almost into a time machine.

If you have the opportunity please inform me on this subject.

Thank you,
Manuel R

R. Sungenis: Manuel, all the talk about looking into the past is based on certain unproven assumptions. Two of the main unproven assumptions are: (1) that the terrestrial speed of light (i.e., the speed of light on Earth) is the same as the celestial speed of light; or that the speed of light today is the same as it was thousands of years ago; and (2) that the shift of light rays from stars to the red end of the spectrum means the stars are moving away from us. Not only have these assumptions not been proven, but there is substantial evidence to posit that they are false. Another factor is that the universe is a lot smaller than Big Bang cosmologists purport it to be. Since anything beyond 30 parsecs is dependent on red-shift to measure distance, and red-shift has not been proven to be a distance indicator, then the universe could possibly be a fraction of the size we are told it is by modern cosmologists.


Question 30Geocentrism, Sacred Tradition and Obedience

Robert, the ongoing dialogues about geocentrism are intriguing. However, it seems to me that, for any faithful Catholic, the issue of geocentrism comes down to one very important point that Catholic opponents of geocentrism never seem to address in their rebuttals. That is, the First Vatican Council, in affirming the Council of Trent, dogmatically teaches that it is not permissible to interpret the Sacred Scriptures contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Fathers. When the Fathers are unanimous on a teaching, the Church believes the teaching to be a part of the Sacred Tradition, which the apostles received from Jesus Christ.

You have pointed out that the Fathers, and even the Medievals, unanimously supported the geocentric view of the universe (not to mention popes Paul V, Urban VIII, Alexander VII and Bellarmine). If this is the case, then why would any faithful Catholic argue against geocentrism, particularly when science cannot definitively prove heliocentrism (or geocentrism, for that matter)? For by doing so, they are arguing against a dogmatic teaching of the Church concerning how to interpret Sacred Scripture. On what basis do these Catholics depart from the dogmatic mandates of two ecumenical councils?

For me, this is where the discussion begins and ends: The Church dogmatically teaches that it is not permissible to depart from the Fathers' interpretation of Scripture when they are unanimous on a teaching. If the Fathers were unanimous geocentrists and based their view of cosmology on the Scriptures, then I will not depart from their interpretation of Scripture. As a faithful Catholic who is loyal to the Magisterium, this means that this case is closed.
What say the Catholic geocentrists?

R. Sungenis: We concur, but the old excuse among non-geocentrists is that the condemnations of the three popes were "not infallible." That's always an easy out for a Catholic who wants to ignore the consensus of the Fathers and the concensus of papal teaching on the subject. Unfortunately, these same people hold whatever John Paul II says about Galileo as Gospel, even though he has never said anything infallibly either. Go figure.


Question 29A good Geocentrism website

Can you recommend any good web sites that gives a good understanding of astronomy for beginners?

R. Sungenis: Yes.


Question 28Are some human beings in hell presently?

Hi--Just engaged in a lively discussion with neighbors/fellow Catholics. My husband and I were raised in small German Catholic communities and were taught that the Church does not teach that there is anyone in hell. We learned that it could be packed or it could be empty with the exception of Satan and the fallen angels, however, that the church would never teach that someone is in hell as we cannot know this from our mortal standpoint.

Our neighbors came unglued and said that hell is full of souls--all those who died in mortal sin. We agreed that may be so, but that the Church does not teach it and will not because we cannot know their hearts and their relationships with our Merciful God. We agreed that God is a just God, and people who are in hell, go there through their own merit. Again--we were simply making an offhand comment about God's mercy and it turned to a fight.

Could you help us?
Sincerely--Charlene and Joe R

R. Sungenis: Charlene and Joe, I would suggest you obtain a copy of my Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, Matthew, Vol. 1. In it we have an appendix dealing entirely with this subject. It includes Scriptural, Patristic and Ecclesiastical statements showing that hell is presently populated with human beings (pages 381-392). You can purchase a copy from us here at CAI.


Question 27When is the Pope Infallible?

Dear CAI head/staff member,

Your site is excellent - thank you!

In reading two particular articles on your website, I am under the impression that Papal Infallibility is not being held up too high (please pardon me, as I am by no means challenging, but simply attempting, as a recent x-Protestant, to understand) on CAI. I recall a Catholic friend of mine saying that not all Catholics believe in this doctrine. I finally do believe in it, after months of resistance.

One current article warned against the grave (no pun intended) dangers of the NAB (which I have and am getting ready to chuck), and the other, also current, discussed Vatican II and its negative impact on Catholicism. Risking ignorance, is it fair to say that papal infallibility refers to the error-free teaching 'ability' (for lack of a better word) of the Pope and Magestrium as afforded by the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit? I am very excited, after 6 years of being a confused Protestant, to believe in this doctrine.

However, the NAB, which got the Pope's approval (I was kind of stunned to learn that non-Catholics contributed as well), received such harsh criticism on your site. And even more to my dismay, Vatican II is not exactly getting a "10" on CAI, as well. What should I think? Is or is not the Pope infallible as a teacher of the Word?

Please keep in mind that your arguments regarding the NAB and Vatican II do make sense to me, which is even more cause for worry!


Thanks much,

Guy Daniels

R. Sungenis: Guy, papal infallibility only applies to instances in which the pope fulfills four specific criteria declared by Vatican Council 1 under Pius IX. The teaching must be: (1) about faith or morals; (2) he must designate himself as the pastor of the Church; (3) he must intend to bind us to his teaching under threat of excommication; 4) it must be directed to the whole Church.

Further than this, Canon Law 749 from the 1983 code promulgated by Pope John Paul II says: "No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident."

Since the doctrine of infallibility was dogmatized in 1870, we have had only one non-anachronistic use of it, which came in 1950 when Pius XII defined, infallibly, the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. No other pope since then has declared that what he has taught is infallible.

Until if and when either the pope declares his teaching infallible, or the Church puts out a list of its infallible papal teachings, then we are not to suppose that a specific papal teaching is infallible.

In place of this, there are levels of papal authority to which we must give our assent. An Apostolic letter is on the lower rung of the ladder, while an encyclical is on a higher level. Altogether, there are about eight levels of papal authority, the infallible level, of course, being the highest. To each we give our proper recognition, depending on the level of authority it has been given.

Hence, unless the NAB papal note contained all these criteria, then it would not be considered an infallible document. If it is not infallible it means that it can contain error. As you have discovered, the NAB is loaded with error. We would expect it to be, since it was written by liberal Catholics (and some liberal Protestants) who, for all intents and purposes, have lost the faith.


Question 26Praying to the dead, Part 2

Dear Robert Sungenis,
Thank you for your incredibly quick and systematic response. I have one other question for you on this topic. Can you explain how when Jesus says, that God is the God of the living and not the dead, relates to this topic?

Thank you, Mary

R. Sungenis: Because it proves that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are living a conscious existence in heaven at the present time and can thus be cognizant of our prayers to them.


Question 25Extra ecclesiam nulla salus, Part 2

The Council of Trent only allows baptism by desire for Catechumens or those who were about to receive baptism and then died before receiving it. It does not include pagans in the ability for baptism by desire and say "oh, we can just assume that had this pagan lived longer he would have eventually desired baptism." This IS a denial of extra ecclesiam nulla salus, and it IS saying that people outside (pagans) can be saved. The CCC contradicts Trent.

R. Sungenis: The Council of Trent makes no mention of Catechumens or those who were about to receive baptism. If these were the crucial parameters surrounding baptism of desire the Council would have said so, since any other baptism of desire would have been illegitmate. I suggest you allow God to be the one to decide who is saved and not saved; otherwise you'll find yourself in the Pharisaical position of not allowing anyone to enter the kingdom unless they meet your criteria, and you may find yourself outside the door for doing so (Matthew 23:13).


Question 24Praying to the dead

Dear Dr. Sungenis,
My co-worker, who is a stubborn Protestant, saw a picture of Our Lady on my desk which prompted an ignorant argument between the two of us about praying to the dead. Before he walked away he asked me to prove where it is in the bible that praying to the dead is a good idea. His only biblical argument against it came somewhere from Kings. He couldn't quote the verse but he said the person was punished for praying to the dead. I am sure he read this out of context. I have been looking online for good sources that I could give him but I have not been successful. The biblical quotes these people use have nothing to with praying to the dead but praying for each other. Would you please help me by either referring me to a thorough article that a common person would understand or by answering this yourself? This would be a great opportunity for me to witness to him the truth of our Catholic faith, which I have been waiting for. In the meantime I will keep looking. Thank you.
God Bless, Mary

R. Sungenis: Mary, the first thing you need to do is show him that the so-called "dead" are only dead in body, not soul. The souls of the faithful reside in either Purgatory or Heaven. Some verses that teach this are Matt 22:32; 1 Cor 5:8; Apoc 6:9-10. The second thing is to explain the passage he is referring to. It is probably 1 Sam 28:7 where King Saul sought the dead prophet Samuel through the witch of Endor. That passage, of course, has nothing to do with praying for or to the dead, but it the sin of necromancy, which is trying to bring the dead back to earth in some fashion (Deut 18:11). The third thing to do is show him that there are specific biblical passages that refer to praying for or to the dead (2 Macc 12:44-46; Tobit 12:12). In fact, this is the very reason that Martin Luther sought to excise this book from the Old Testament. The fourth thing to do is declare to him that there is no passage in the Bible that says we cannot pray for or to the dead. The last thing is to say that the Fathers of the Church, the medievals, and the Church's official teachings allowed and encouraged prayer to and for the dead.


Question 23Catholics and Iraq war

I disagree with the pope over the Iraqi war. I believe it is good to take out a tyrant who terrorized his own people. Does this make me a bad Catholic? A Catholic is allowed to disagree with the pope on this, right?

R. Sungenis: You can disagree with the pope over the Iraq war or any political issue. The only time we are bound to agree with the pope is when he officialy binds us to teaching on faith and morals. When he voices his opinions, we can object as long as we do respectfully.


Question 22Extra ecclesiam nulla salus

The Roman Catholic Church now denies the phrase extra ecclesiam nulla salus:
CCC, Part II, Cap. 1, Article 1, VI The Necessity of Baptism
1260. "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."(62) Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
Flat out denial of extra ecclesiam nulla salus!

R. Sungenis:No, there is no denial of "extra ecclesiam nulla salus," since the doctrine states that no one will be saved outside the Catholic Church, and since Baptism, or its desire (according to the Council of Trent), makes someone a member of the Catholic Church, then extra ecclesiam nulla salus is not being violated.

CCC, Part I, Section II, Cap. 3, Article 9
838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."(322) Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."(323) With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."(324)
Very cheesy pandering that says nothing.

R. Sungenis: I don't know what you mean by "chessy pandering," but I can assure you the above quote from the catechism is not going to fulfill your derogatory intentions. The Church is merely saying that she is "joined" in some special way, as yet undefined, to those who have received Baptism, which is a Catholic sacrament, but who have not received the other Catholic sacraments or fulfilled other Catholic requirements. Since Baptism puts an indelible "Catholic" mark on the soul, then the Church is entirely correct in saying that her relationship with the baptized is different than her relationship with the unbaptized, and that is all she is saying, since she is not committing herself to saying that baptism alone guarantees one a place in heaven.


Question 21Should women be in any position of leadership?

I understand the Church's position on women and leadership. My wife is pursuing a career in business accounting, which is what she loves to do. We are trying to have children, and she recently asked if I would be willing to homeschool so she could pursue her career. What do you think of this? She agrees with the Church in terms of authority in the household, and that the primary duty of marriage is the procreation and education of children. But she doesnt see why she can't pursue a career while I take the education role of the children, especially since it is something I would love to do. What are your thoughts?
Also, my wife always asks why she can't wear nice dress pants to church on Sundays. We attend a traditional Latin Mass, and the rules are clear that women can not wear pants. She doesn't see why; she fully believes in wearing the veil, and has argued with her female cousins to do the same. But she doesn't see why wearing pants affects her role in the faith. What are your thoughts?
God bless,
Joe Moreaux

p.s. I am sorry to hear of CAI's financial problems. When we get out tax return, my wife and I want to help out. As always, you, your family, and CAI are in our prayers. God bless.

R. Sungenis: Joe, the general rule is that the husband have the "career" and the woman, because of her gift of motherhood and the emotions and tenderness God has given her, should be the one staying home with the children. I understand you have an insurance business and, having done some business myself, I know the insurance business can be a lucrative venture. Therefore, you have no real need for more money, and thus there is no real need for your wife to work. She apparently wants to pursue her business career simply because it is of interest to her. But I think she is selling herself short. She doesn't know, yet, what it is like to have children, but it is a blessing beyond description. We have eight children and my wife would not want to do anything else. She despises the business world. She knows because she was in it for several years before our marriage, and it is a cut-throat world. This is precisely the cut-throat world your wife would experience, and she would have to tear herself away from a needy infant or toddler every day just when that child needs her motherly qualities the most. This daily rejection can have devastating psychological consequences for the child, and which will surface even more in the teenage years. Every family I've known, including my own brothers and sisters, who have tried reversing the husband/wife roles end up with children that are not well-adjusted at all. The only time I would ever advise a wife to work in place of her husband is if the husband was disabled and unable to work.

As for dresses as opposed to dress pants, Church is not the place for women to be experimenting with dress pants, especially if it offends other women. St. Paul was quite clear in Romans 14 that we should no nothing overt that will cause a brother or sister to be offended unnecessarily. The Old Testament is also very clear that there should be a noticable distinction between the clothes of men and women (Deut 22:5). Granted, these are Old Testament laws that no longer legally bind us, but still, the principles from the Old Testament laws are still very applicable today (cf., 1 Cor 9:9; 1 Tim 5:18; Matt 5:11-18; Rom 13:8-10).

Regarding CAI, we aren't having "financial problems," but we do, indeed, live on a shoestring and thus every donation is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your consideration.


Question 20Women in society

Dear CAI,

I have a follow-up question(s) dealing with the Q & A that dealt with women in society. I am a faithful Catholic but I don't see why women shouldn't be allowed to hold leadership positions in society. All I saw you saying when reading the Q & A was "Men are better than women, so we let them lead and simply keep the women in the kitchen and hospital, in order to serve the men." I do know of the Scripture verses dealing with this issue but cannot they be speaking of the women not usurping the place of the priest who is "alter Christus" in the Holy Mass, and being in a respectful submission in marriage and nothing more? I totally understand that women cannot be priests and that they shouldn't do the work of the priest, but to say that women cannot do something just because they aren't men doesn't seem right. When I defend the all-male priesthood, I have good reasoning behind what I'm saying. (The priest is configured to Christ, and Christ was male, ergo, women cannot be priests because Christ wasn't a women.) How would I defend the idea that women shouldn't do anything else, but leave it to the men? Saying, "Women shouldn't do it just because they aren't men" isn't good reasoning at all, and appears very sexist. Yes, the man should lead the woman as head of the family, but beyond that I don't see where the men should be the only leaders in society. Thanks and God bless.



Blessings and Excelsior!

R. Sungenis: Adam, if your impression of our article and QA is that "Men are better than women, so we let them lead and simply keep the women in the kitchen and hospital, in order to serve the men," then obviously you have the wrong impression, and are making the issue into a caricature. What you need to understand is that what appears as "sexist" to us today is only because we have been brainwashed by the liberal society we live in. These are the same liberals who would tell you that it is "sexist" to deny a woman equal authority with her husband or to deny her the right of serving God at the altar. But the fact is that God Himself has made a distinction between the roles of man and woman based on sex. How else would you explain the fact that He says a woman, because she is a female, is to be in submission to her husband? Unless you can think of another reason, other than her sex, that God gave her this command, then that is what we have as the reason. Is God a "sexist" for doing so? I don't think so.

As regards women in society, why would the rules change? If a woman is not to be in authority in the Church or at home, by what rationale is she now free to be in charge in the society? Can you imagine St. Paul saying "Okay, as God has ordained, woman can have no authority, because of their female sex, in the Church or home, but we can ignore that divine and created order when women go out in the society"? That would be a total contradiction of Scripture and logic. For over 3900 years, Adam, the Judeo-Christian heritage lived by the rule that women were not to be in authority in the church, home and society. It is only within the last century, beginning with the women's sufferage movement in the 1920s that things began to change, and that movement began under the auspices of atheists and immoral people such as Margaret Sanger, and is dominated today by some of the most godless women this world has known. Unfortunately, they are brainwashing many women today to forget their divine gift of femininity and to become like men. That will lead to nothing but confusion, and it has already decimated our society.


Question 19Women only for the home?

Dear Robert,
Please don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. In your zeal to uphold the God-given gift of motherhood, have you forgotten that almighty God has anointed and raised up women all through Scripture to do his will--not only in the home but in the world outside?

Have you forgotten Deborah, who was not only a wife and mother but also a prophet and the Judge of Israel? Sounds like she had some political skills from God to share. Not to mention Miriam the prophet. Do you remember the prophet Huldah, who said "Thus saith the Lord" to the king of Judah? Do you recall Priscilla who, along with Aquila, evangelized Apollos and many others, and was recognized by St. Paul as a co-worker? What about Junia (apparently an apostolic figure according to St. John Chrysostom), and Chloe and the daughters of Phillip?
In short, though your point is a needed corrective in our day, please don't forget that the Spirit is able to use women also in the public ministries of the Church and even in politics: Deborah is not chopped liver.

R. Sungenis: The Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Scripture already took Deborah into account when they gave their commands to women in the New Testament, so I would suggest you cease trying to make a contradiction out of their teachings simply because you find one rare case in a covenant that doesn't apply any longer. It is precisely the mentality that tries to make rare exceptions into the rule that has gotten us into the trouble we are in today.
Moreover, Deborah herself was careful to coordinate her actions with the man Barak so as not to give the impression that she was usurping the authority God gave to man. In fact, her judgship was not divinely appointed; rather, she was gifted as a prophetess and the people themselves, because of the stress they were under in being under Jabin king of Canaan, decided to make her a judge. Even the Old Testament didn't consider Deborah's judgship precedent setting, since there was no woman after her so designated with authority.

As for Miriam, Huldah and Priscilla and the four daughters of Phillip, I never said anything about limiting a woman's gift to prophecy, and neither did any of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes or Scripture. The only other thing required when a woman engages in prophecy is that she cover her head to show she is under the authority of the man, so says St. Paul in 1 Cor 11:3-7, which was the thrust of my article.

As for Junia being an "apostolic figure," I don't know what you mean by that, but it certainly isn't a designation giving Junia any apostolic authority or any authority over the male leaders or even her husband; otherwise, Scripture would be contradicting itself. The Greek of Romans 16:17 merely says the Junias and Andronicus were "of note" with the Apostles, meaning, simply, that the Apostles considered them great workers for the Church, and this coincides perfectly with all the other women Scripture points out as doing outstanding work for the Church. What is in contradiction today is the liberal's teaching on women, not Scripture.

Thank you for your question. I'm sure after some reflection you will see how everything fits together.


Question 18Condign Merit

Mr. Sungenis,

Thanks again. I believe I have a sufficient understanding of
the issue now. You are doing great work for the Lord. I read
"Not By Bread Alone" and also your work on the Gospel of Saint
Matthew and loved them both. When can we expect the next installment
of the Bible?

God bless,

R. Sungenis: Ryan, thank you for the commendation. The next CASB will be out late this year. We are rearranging the schedule. The next volume will cover the Apocalypse and Daniel.


Question 17Women and veils

I just got done reading "From Head Coverings to Mutual Submission ect..." I was just wondering is it just in church and while in prayer that a women should wear a head covering? I never really heard of it, being a convert, until my Uncle started teaching me about the Traditional Catholic Church. I have started receiving communion on the tongue and wearing a veil. The looks I get!!! I feel like my faith is being compromised by going to a church with the "New Mass" I can't believe the difference between now and 40 years ago. I can only read the History books because I'm only 25 but even I get what is happening is wrong. I wrote to my Bishop petitioning for him to at least provide us with a Traditional Latin Tridentine Mass in our Diocese somewhere. He never got back to me. I feel like I'm even being persecuted by my own bishop. Thank you for all the articles and your time.
God Bless,

R. Sungenis: Monica, I feel for you. You probably feel like Rip van Winkle. What a shock! All I can say is forge ahead. Don't worry about the onlookers. You have 1960 years of Catholic tradition backing you up, and God is your master, not the onlookers. As for head coverings, yes, where them whenever you pray, inside or outside the Church. That is the context of 1 Cor 11.


Question 16Question on the Sinless Nature of Mary

I have always had difficulty finding the correct apologetic to defend the Church's teaching concerning the sinless nature of Mary. Protestants use Romans 3:23 (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) and Romans 3:10 (There is none righteous, no, not one) to argue against our position. How can I better respond to these arguments? God bless you and your work. It is greatly appreciated by many; more than you know.

R. Sungenis: Dan, I answered this question not to long ago on our QA board, I think within the last three months. I recommend that you look at previous months answers. I gave an in depth look at the issue.


Question 15Kepha and Tattoos

Mr. Sungenis, the other day a thought occurred to me. In your August '04 Q/A Question 23, you said that in Matthew 16:18 "petros" is not used twice "Because "petros" is a proper name that can only be used once in order to leave room for the noun "petra" to identify the application of the proper noun "petros." We do the same in English. We don't say: "John is a John," we say, "John is a boy.""

However, if that is the case, then why did Christ use "keepa" twice in the Aramaic (as the Peshitta indicates), instead of using a proper name once, and then "keepa" as a noun to identify the application of the proper noun?

R. Sungenis: First, there is no Aramaic of Matthew 16:18, and thus we can't make an argument on that basis. Second, different languages have different ways of distinguishing between a proper noun and a common noun that sound the same. One language may capitalize the proper noun; another may spell the proper noun a little differently, etc. The point in fact remains that Matt 16:18 was inspired in Greek, and thus we go by Greek rules of grammar.

Secondly, in another of your Q/As, you cited Leviticus 19:28 as saying that God forbids tattoos. Here, , Jimmy Akin says that that was merely an aspect of the Mosaic law, and that we are free to be tattooed. Is he correct?

R. Sungenis: Sure, but "Thou shalt not kill" was also an "aspect" of the Mosaic law, but we aren't allowed to kill people today, are we? What Mr. Akin fails to understand is that the Mosaic law included ALL the laws of the Old Covenant: civil, ceremonial and moral. The whole Old Covenant, all the Mosaic laws, thus had to be set aside. This is precisely Paul's argument in 2 Cor 3:7-14; Gal 5:1-4; Hebrews 7:18; 10:9, et al.

What we have today in the New Covenant are the principles of law from the Old Covenant, not the laws themselves. Hence, every law in the Mosaic code has a principle of ethical and moral conduct that can be practiced in the New Covenant. So, whether its not wearing tatoos, not dressing in opposite sex clothing, fasting on holy days, etc, we do our best to extract the ethical or moral essence from that law. In that sense, we should not be wearing tatoos.


Question 14Not By Faith Alone and Works of Protestants

Bob, in the book you state that Protestants ( not all) believe that while works play no part in their justification they do play a role in their sanctification.Many Protestants remark that our works are filthy rags in the eyes of Gd. If that is the case then why would they think their works would even play a role in their sanctification?

R. Sungenis: Because once God has accepted the individual through imputed justification, any work he does is judged as if there were no sin prior to the work. Therefore, God can judge the works as he would judge pre-Fall Adam's work.


Question 13Why the pandering to Islam?

Mr. Sungenis,
I can't help but notice all the Catholic writings coming out about Islam ever since the "War on Terror" started. However, it seems like they all explain it by showing the Muslim faith and that we just sit back and accept that it is the way they are and we accept it. When is the Catholic Church going to say Islam a threat to the world? I understand there are many beautiful people who just happen to be Muslim and we are charged by Jesus to Love them even as enemies because their worth as human souls is so great. Isn't our job to try and convert them (peacefully of course). We are suppose to love the sinner and hate the why don't we have REAL concern for our Muslim brethren and help them find the truth (Catholicism) and not accept it as the world wants. Why do we not genuinely LOVE the Muslims by going in and teaching the truth and not showing false charity by leaving them be as they are living with their false teachings. How can we do this better?

Here is another thing I don't understand I am hoping you can clear up. People see Islam and say that it is peaceful because the Koran teaches peace, now, I am not arguing this to be truth or not, but why do we base their religion off the Koran? Isn't that the same mistake the Bible Fundamentalist make? If we want to know what their religion really stands for, we must look toward Muhammed and who he was as the founding phrophet...and he was violent, not a peacemaker, hence the Muhhamedans who made us respond with the Crusades. The Muslim faith is founded upon Muhammed, not the Koran which was written hundreds of years later since nothing was written about Muhammed until hundreds of years after his death. As we know, the Catholic faith is based upon Jesus and the Apostles because the Bible wasn't complete yet.
Thank you for your time and God Bless you!

R. Sungenis: Michael, welcome to modern Catholicism! In case you didn't notice, the whole face of Catholicism has been changed after Vatican II. We are no longer the Church Militant we are the Church Milquetoast. Except for a few scattered places, evangelization is a thing of the past. We don't risk our necks any longer to bring the Gospel to the world. They can now be saved in their own religions (at least that is the unofficial word). In the long battle between the Church and the world, the Church, in large part, has caved into the world. This all started with the Fatima message back in 1917. Ever since then, the Church has been tested to make her choice: God or the world? Unfortunately, the Church choose the world and she has been paying the price for it ever since. When you make friends with the world, then it is very hard to tell the world they are going to hell-in-a-hand basket for their sins and that they need to convert to Christianity. Hence, the Muslims become our friends, the Jews become our friends, the Buddhists become our friends, the Russians become our friends. We love everybody and everybody loves us -- just make sure you don't tell us how to live our lives. In the words of the biblical prophets, the Church has prostituted herself to the world, and in many ways she has become just like them. So, in the future, don't expect there to be great waves of evangelism to any of the world's religions. The Vatican II engineers have their own agenda, and that is to bring a man-made peace to the world, rejecting the miraculous peace offered by heaven through the Fatima message. They can only do that if they walk the diplomatic tightrope, and diplomatic tightropes don't allow the bold preaching of the Gospel. Why do you think that in the two Assisi meetings (1986, 2002) we could "pray" with pagan peoples, and yet NOT ONE WORD was said to them in 16 years about converting their souls to Christianity? Of course, why should the Church preach to them if the Church believes they are already on their way to heaven, and hell may not, afterall, have any occupants? In large part, that is the Gospel of John Paul II, unfortunately. He is doing the same thing Peter did in Galatians 2 -- sidestepping the Gospel in order to placate his antagonists (Galatians 2:13-14).


Question 12Condign Merit, II

I initially understood this to mean that meritum de congruo is
the merit of grace and that meritum de condigno is that which
is owed to the worker.

After reading the part of the Summa which you directed me to
I believe I now understand this better. Would it be correct
to say that prior to justification, the good works of a man are
congruous in that they are of some benefit, yet not such that
the man merits salvation? Once a man is justified and infused
with grace and virtues he can then merit salvation condignly
because the grace of the Holy Spirit has increased the adequacy
of his merit.

Thank you again for your help in this matter.


R. Sungenis: Yes, congruent merit, since it applies to the saved and unsaved, is something that someone can merit prior to their justification. In fact, we could say that congruent merit puts one in the way of justification and condign merit. Condign merit applies only to the saved.


Question 11 Catholic versus Protestant Beliefs from Scripture, 2

Mr. Sungenis,
So far so good. I don't have any major complaints on this belief so far. But can you explain about the Council of Trent in 1563?
Thank you,

R. Sungenis: Yes. In regard to the canon of Scripture, the Council of Trent produced the final and definitive infallible decree regarding the contents of Scripture. This meant that no more discussion or objections to the canon could be submitted, under pain of discipline. Prior to that, the Fathers, Popes and Councils had decreed the contents of the canon in 380, 393, 419 and 1440. The reason the Council of Trent issued the final decree is that Cardinal Cajetan in the 1600s had some reservations about the deuterocanonical books of the OT, and those reservations were answered by Trent. The Tridentine canon matches, book for book, the canon that was accepted in 380-419, including the deuterocanonical books (or what Protestants call "The Apocrypha"). In fact, Trent declared that, in making their final infallible decision, they were bound by the Tradition passed down to them by the early Church.


Question 10Marriage, convalidation, and canon question

When I approached the archdiocese about my marriage situation (being  married in a sedevacantist chapel), they told me I would have to get my marriage convalidated by a valid priest.  When I approached a priest about having this done, and explained to him my situation, he told me in virtue of canons 1335 and 144 of the 1983 Code, a convalidation might not be necessary.  What do you think?

 God bless,

R. Sungenis: The priest has no authority in this manner. Do what the archdiocese told you. This is not something about which you can have any equivocation. Opinions at this point are worthless. This is your marriage you are talking about. Capice?


Question 9Discussion on Catholic versus Protestant Beliefs from Scripture

Dear Mr. Sungenis,
Why don't we start out with what Catholics believe about the Bible?

I've been researching the Catholic faith on the internet, since I have loved ones that are believers, so that is where my information has come from so far. I also purchased the Catholic Bible and a couple of Catholic books, and I'm having a problem figuring out the Catholic church came up with some of its ideas. In looking at the Catholic Bible, I didn't see too much of a difference -- only a few extra chapters, which we all in the Old Testament. I didn't have any problems with the books that were added. They didn't hold any surprising revelations about God and Jesus.

What are the Catholic's beliefs in the Bible? Don't they believe it to be true, just as Protestants do?
Thank you,

R. Sungenis: The Catholic Church believes the Bible, all its 73 books, are inspired by God, inerrant in all they say, and that this general revelation ceased with the last book of the Bible. The Church holds Scripture as authoritative for all things upon which it speaks for the Christian life, and neither the Church nor Tradition can contradict it or set it aside for any reason. The Catholic Church, under guidance of the Holy Spirit, was the one entity on earth God chose to decide which books belong in the Bible, and this was first decided by the Church in 380 at the Council of Rome and later reiterated at the Council of Trent in 1563.


Question 8St. Malachy's prophecy about the 2 remaining popes, Part II

Dear Robert, thanks for your answers. I would like to expound on your comments for the St. Malachy last popes as follows: 1. As I have read on several seemingly reliable sources on the internet, Peter Romanus was not listed as a last pope until books published after 1823. Seems that the Catholic Church was getting a bit nervous that the list was quite accurate and it was getting close to the last Pope. The consoling idea was promulgated, that between GLORIA OLIVAE and PETER ROMANUS there could be any number of Popes in between.

R. Sungenis: Very interesting. You are the first to tell me about the addition of Peter Romanus after 1823. I did hear about that so-called "consoling idea," however. Thank you for this information. Is there any way to verify it?

Also, with Peter Romanus, there would be 112 popes on the list, and playing numerology as a built-in protection against fraud, it seems that without Peter Romanus, the 111 popes would be numerically indicated. Note that in the Vatican (Ratzinger)-approved Our Lady of Akita apparitions in 1973, the seer nun was told that the Virgin Mary statue cried real tears exactly 101 times because of the symbolism of God is the beginning, 0 is infinity, and God is the end. So without a Peter Romanus that was not listed before 1823, there would be 111 popes, and the last pope would be GLORIA OLIVAE. You forgot to mention about the St. Benedict prophecy, is that the predicted that the LAST pope would be from his order. Not possible if there was a Peter Romanus.

R. Sungenis: I didn't hear that St. Benedict said Gloria Olivae would be the last. Very interesting. Do you have sources for that?

Father Malachi Martin was a believer of Garabandal (but did not believe in Medjugorje), and Garabandal predicted 3 more popes after the current one (Pope Paul VI), which means GLORIA OLIVAE would be the last one. (For the record, I am leaning against believing Garabandal and I do not believe in Medjugorje).

R. Sungenis: I was under the understanding that the Garabandal prophecy was very general and only in two paragraphs. I don't remember reading anything about "3 more popes" after that prophecy. And wouldn't we already have had three popes since then (Paul VI, JP1 and JP2)? Do you have sources for this?

One Final Note: On the Second Coming of Jesus, when He arrives on earth, there will be no need of a Vicar of Christ (representative) as he can represent Himself. We can truly say that Jesus will be the last Pope of the Holy Catholic Church.

R. Sungenis: True, but when he comes this earth is over and he will not be reigning from it, so it is superfluous to say we will not need another human pope.

2. As for Pope John Paul I, yes, the personal aspect of his papacy was the De Mediate Lunae, and it was a half-moon on his conclave election date of August 26, 1978, ***HOWEVER, look this up: the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Accords were signed on September 17, 1978, coincidently (??) during his short papacy of 33 days. The work/professional aspect of his papacy would indicate some factor with Islam (emergence of the half moon?). SEE BELOW ABOUT MY COMMENTS OF ISLAM AND THE VIRGIN MARY.

R. Sungenis: I don't see too much of a connection, although it is true that the Vatican talk these days is about future relations with Islam.

3. Last but not least, if we are dealing with the subject of the Second Coming of Jesus and His Return, we are dealing with Matthew 24 (and the other related synoptic Gospels about this). Mat. 24 clearly says to WATCH, look for signs. And the signs are ASTRONOMICAL signs (sun, moon, stars). NOTE that Our Lord takes care of his own (salvos fac, servos tuus), and gives His warnings.

R. Sungenis: I think that is a misreading of Matthew 24. The astronomical signs are concurrent with Christ's actual return, since the world will be destroyed at that time (2 Peter 3:10-13). The point of Matthew 24 is that there will be no such cataclysmic signs before Christ's return, but that people will be marrying and giving in marriage and eating and drinking right up until the day Christ returns (Matt 24:38-41). The "signs" we are to look for are the false prophets and the Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place (Matt 24:15-28). Even wars and rumors of wars are not a "sign" of his coming, since Jesus says, "but the end is not yet" (Matt 24:6).

***>>> St. Malachy clearly indicates with the LAST 3 PAPACIES with MAT. 24 SIGNS: <<<*** Pope # 109: De Mediate Lunae (astronomical sign of moon) -- WARNING # 1 Pope # 110: De Laboris Solis (astronomical sign of sun, related to solar eclipse of birth of Pope JPII?) -- WARNING # 2 Pople# 111: GLORIA OLIVAE (very clear reference to Jesus on Mount of the OLIVES, prophecising his Return in GLORY) -- THIS IS IT, THE LAST ONE. (no astronomical warning, as it is directly Mat. 24, the Return in Glory as per the prophecies on the Mount of the OLIVES)

R. Sungenis: I don't think so, for the reasons I gave above. Pope 111 would be a human pope. But if you are correct about the fallacious addition of Peter Romanus as pope 112, then Gloria Olivae would be the last pope, at least according to St. Malachy.

-- Also, we know from Our Lady of Akita that God is not quite happy with Man and is preparing some major chastisement.

R. Sungenis: The "major" chastisement could either transition into or be the end of the world itself. I believe the "era of peace" promised by Our Lady is not on this sin-cursed earth, but is an "era" that will usher in eternity.

-- Our Lady of Kibeho apparition (Rwanda, 1982, Approved by Bishop and reported by ZENIT as approved), also had Jesus clearly warned that His Return is about to happen soon, and when we hear about religious wars, then that is the sign that His Return is imminent. SEE BELOW ABOUT MY COMMENTS OF ISLAM AND THE VIRGIN MARY. (the same apparitions to the children in Rwanda, which included a non-Christian boy, had them saw the deaths of 1994, and Our Lady asked them to pray the Chaplet of Our Lady of Sorrows, which is an Order of Servites chaplet and a very obscure devotion that most Catholics don't even know about!!) -- Sr. Faustina in her Divine Mercy diary reports that Jesus told her, that from Poland will come the spark that will bring about his Second Coming. (By the way, I have a copy of the Divine Mercy diary, and I have studied many Marian apparitions, and I do believe that the diary is legit. Also, I cannot believe that it received Imprimatur in the modern Church because Jesus is quite un-modern in his approach to Hell, His priests nuns monasteries, etc. He basically is not happy with His priests.) ===== Robert, for your info, I have collected some information about the Virgin Mary and Islam, which might be interesting. Note the following: -- Mohammed born in 571. Lepanto victory in 1571 due to apparition of the Virgin Mary. (1000 years, symbolic for Book of Revelations) -- Start of expansion of Islam in 622 with conquest of Medina (Islamic calendar starts this date). Virgin Mary stops fast Islamic expansion in an apparition at battle of Covadonda (Don Pelayo forces), northern Spain in 722 (100 years). -- I am sure you know the connection between Our Lady of Fatima and Islamic name of Fatima. -- Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Egypt to millions of viewers: Zeitun (1968-1969), Assuit, (2000-2003). Seems to be oriented to protecting the Coptic Church, as if to protect Mary's faithful in prelude some future persecution. Muslims now get along very well with the Copts after seeing the Virgin Mary themselves.

R. Sungenis: Thank you. I'll keep this under advisement.

-- I AM GETTING THIS SOON: Seems that our Lady of Ransom (Mercedarians) made an apparition to a previous Pope and predicted something about herself and Islam towards the end of the world. The Trinitarians and Mercedarians were both started by apparitions, to save Christians against Islam. (I wonder how this fits with today's ecunemism). By the way, to find out what Heaven REALLY thinks about ecunemism with Protestants, look up the approved apparition of Our Lady of Siluva: Note that the town people did not include NOT ONE CATHOLIC, there were ALL CALVINISTS. I met a Lithuanian Franciscan priest and he confirmed that the apparition is legit.

R. Sungenis: Thank you, Daniel. Keep in touch.


Question 7Cremation and Obelisks

Mr. Sungenis,

Truly amazing you are. Like Augustine all over again! I was
just wondering if you could carve out a little time to answer these questions.

1) On the Catholic Answers "Ask An Apologist" forum, one querier
alluded to your website's Q/A about cremation, and asked what the "real deal" was, so to speak. The answer he received was this:

"Well, let's review the evidence:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a helpful summary of the modern status of cremation on its web site:

Cremation and Catechesis in the Funeral Liturgy

The document explains that the Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) published an instruction on cremation just prior to Vatican II:

On the eve of the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Office published a new instruction regarding cremation. The document Piam et constantem (May 8, 1963) reiterated the Church's opposition to cremation, but lifted the penalties that had formerly been attached to it:

Cremation does not affect the soul nor prevent God's omnipotence from restoring the body; neither then, does it in itself include an objective denial of ... dogma. The issue is not therefore an intrinsically evil act, opposed per se to the Christian religion.

This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2301) has to say:

The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.

The Catechism cites the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

Can. 1176 §3 The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.

While the Church prefers burial of the body, it does not forbid
cremation unless cremation is chosen for anti-Christian reasons.
Because internal motivation is usually only apparent to God himself, the Church does not presume to determine the subconscious desires of an individual who has not otherwise clearly expressed his wish to scorn Christian teaching on the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment:

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret
insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable
interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved [CCC 2478; emphasis added]."

What is the answer to this, so I might pass it on to all who asked on the forum? I try to offer a differing viewpoint on the questionable answers given, but I don't know how to do this one.

R. Sungenis: It is natural law that cremation is inherently evil, and this fact has been upheld by previous popes and councils. There are exceptions to burial, however, and that is what the 1992 Catechism is addressing. But anyone who interprets the 1992 Catechism to say that cremation is now acceptable is simply misreading the Catechism, and failing to interpret it in light of what the Church has previously said.

2) Is there any good reason that there is an obelisk in St. Peter's Square? Why doesn't the Church tear it down?

R. Sungenis: I know there is a spiritual history behind that obelisk but I can't remember what it is at the moment. I was in Rome a couple of years ago and saw it. There are some markings on it that pertain to the Catholic faith, if I am not mistaken.

3) Would you like a google email account? They're doing beta tests right now, so it's free...1000MB of storage space, and keyword archive searching. I'm trying to give my 50 invitations to Catholics who can use it, and I could think of no one better than yourself. If you would like it, I'd have google send you an invitation that would expire in two weeks.

R. Sungenis: Okay, send me one. Thank you.


Question 6On Fatima and the CDF

Dear Robert,
Two questions on the message of Fatima:
1.) How is it possible for a loyal Catholic to dissent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's The Message of Fatima? While I know that the decisions from the CDF aren't necessarily infallible, aren't they authoritative and binding?
2.) Can you comment on the work of the Fatima Family Apostolate, esp. their claim to be "approved by the Vatican"?

R. Sungenis: We can dissent, at least on this particular issue of how to interpret the Fatima message, because the CDF itself said we could. But in principle, we are not bound to the CDF unless what the CDF says is formally and bindingly approved by the pope. We can certainly give our due respect to the CDF, but we can also respectfully reserve committing ourselves to its opinions when they conflict with previous dogmatic teaching.

As to the Family Fatima Apostolate, I do not know anything to make a judgment.


Question 5Various Questions

I'm very sorry to use your time with such questions, but I don't really have other trustworthy sources to ask... I'm sorry I didn't make my questions more clear, and if you have a little time I would greatly appreciate an answer to the clarified versions:

1) I believe the non De Defectibus-type consecrations are valid, but I was wondering whether the priest committed a grave sin in not following the consecration as laid out by the Bull?

R. Sungenis: Anytime a priest disobeys what he has been told to do by his bishop or the pope (in all things lawful) then it is sin for him.

2) My question was not so much on eating per se, but on "imagining" the taste of food in your mind; this gives no substantive nourishment. Is that a sin?

R. Sungenis: No, it is not a sin.

3) What titles should be read/tapes listened to in order to well equip one to defend the Catholic faith?

R. Sungenis: The Catholic Catechism under the Council of Trent; The Sources of Catholic Dogma by Denzinger/Deffari; The Faith of Our Fathers by Jurgens; The Code of Canon Law (1983); The Catholic Catechism issued in 1992; The Haydock Bible Commentary; Vatican Council II by Flannery or Abott; Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ott. CAI also has a list of books and tapes that will supplement these sources.


Question 4Limited Atonement


I am having trouble understanding verses like the following:

"Thou shall call His name Jesus and He shall save His people from
their sins".Matt1:21

"The good shepherd gives His life for His sheep".John 10:11

"Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it." Eph 5:25

in light of the limited atonement theory. Protestants who uphold this belief suggest that the above verses conclusively show that Jesus could not have died for all men, thus verse that say He did died for "all men" or "the whole world" (John 1:29; John 4:42; Rom 5:18; 2 Cor 5:14-15; 1 Tim 2:6; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:14; Heb 2:9) should be understood in light of the more conclusive and more explanatory ones.

Protestants go on to say that they mean that Christ died for people from all over the world or people from every nation, but not literally every individual person, similar to Revelation 12:9's use of "the whole world." They also claim that some verses mean he died for all of his elect.

Thanks for the help!

R. Sungenis: Harold, this is the trouble with using only Scripture as the authority: which verses are to be used as the more authoritative verses? Each Protestant denomination has its own set of verses it regards as more authoritative, while it gives less weight to verses that seem to contradict their beliefs.

In essence, the Bible should not be made to compete with itself. All things should be taken into account when deciding upon the proper interpretation.
In regard to the verses you mention, they are rather weak to support a limited atonement argument. The first: "Thou shall call His name Jesus and He shall save His people from their sins".Matt1:21, does not specify who "His people" are, so it is presumptuous to say it refers only to a limited group. The same is true for "The good shepherd gives His life for His sheep".John 10:11.

As for "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it." Eph 5:25, this is not in a context that is separating the Church from the rest of the world. When Scripture does, indeed, speak of the rest of the world, it is clear that Christ died for them, too. In fact, 1 Timothy 4:10 puts it in precisely that way: "For therefore we labour and are reviled, because we hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of the faithful."


Question 3What does "World without end" mean?

You say that God will create a new heaven and a new earth but then why do we say "world without end" in the Glory Be?

R. Sungenis: Because "world with end" would mean there is no life or existence beyond this present earth. "World without end" simply means that life will continue on in the New Heaven and New Earth.


Question 2- St. Malachy's prophecy about the 2 remaining popes

Dear CAI,
I have the following questions for your monthly Q & A:
1. What seems to be God's criteria, for the Second Coming of Our Lord?

I don't mean what are the signs (Mat. 24) or descriptions of what will occur (as per Revelation), but rather, what will trigger the decision.

My comment: It seems to me, that there are two possible triggers:

A. By a greater Divine Plan than just human salvation, once there are enough human souls saved to replace the fallen angels in Heaven, then God has accomplished His goals against Lucifer, proves lots of points on Judgement Day, and the world can end.

B. Once the salvific value of His Church is about to be lost (like in current times), then He could choose to end the world rather to take direct action to stop the gates of hell to prevail. Since the Catholic Church is the only Church with salvific value, it would be pointless and cruel to let future generations of souls be almost completely lost to Hell, and best to bring about the end of the world. This scenario presupposes that God will allow maximum freedom of human will and will not take drastic steps to turn Man back to God, thus overriding functional free will.

R. Sungenis: Daniel, essentially, you are correct. Worldwide apostasy and the completion of the Gospel's penetration into the world, that is, the saving of all God's elect, will be the definitive triggers for the end of the world.

2. What is your views on the last popes prophecies of St. Malachy, which states that there are only 2 popes left? This may be a timely question as we may be considering a new Pope soon.

Consider that in the St. Malachy list, the current Pope John Paul II is "De Labore Solis", which fits with the personal aspect of his papacy (he was born on a day of solar eclipse, one interpretation of De Labore Solis), and the pontificate aspect of his papacy would reference Book of Revelation (A woman clothed in the sun and laboring).

The next pope would be GLORIA OLIVAE, which could mean Matthew 24 (Jesus in the Mount of the Olives, predicting after signs in the skies, he will return in Glory).

Thank you for your comments,
Daniel M

R. Sungenis: Daniel, I'm not sure how much stock we can put in St. Malachy's prophecy, but if he is right, after the Gloria Olivae, St. Malachy has one more pope "Petrus Romanus" in which he says: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Petrus Romanus (Peter the Roman), who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge his people. The End." It is rather fitting that the last pope would be named "Peter" since the first pope was Peter.

St. Malachy also prophesied a "De Madietate Lunae" (Of the Half Moon) which is supposed to refer to John Paul I because he became pope when the moon was half full (Aug 26, 1978); and the prophecy of the "De Labore Solis" (The Work of the Sun) is supposed to apply to John Paul II because he was born during an eclipse of the sun. I wouldn't have a hard time with this one because if there has been any pope who has eclipsed the sun it has been John Paul II.

The Gloria Olivae is supposed to come from the order of St. Benedict. St. Benedict himself prophesied that before the end of the world a pope would come from the Benedictine order and would lead the Church in its fight against evil.

Considering that an average papal reign is between 10-20 years, I would say two more popes after John Paul II, as predicted by St. Malachy, is just about right. It is going to take about that long for Israel to confiscate the Middle East and set up their false worship, and from which the Antichrist will most likely appear, as the saints of old have prophesied. If St. Malachy is right, it will be Petrus Romanus who will be dealing with the Antichrist.


Question 1The Jews and the End of the Time

Hello Mr. Sungenis,
I just wanted to drop you a note to see if you received my last email regarding the New Catechism and its claims about the Jews. I also wanted to run this question by you. There is a popular notion that the Jews will convert en masse to Catholicism near the end of time. My question is this: do you know of any doctrinal tradition among the Fathers that teaches the exact opposite, namely that, at the end of time, the Jews will be deceived and turn rather to the Antichrist? It seems to me that given the grave picture drawn by the Fathers and Scripture regarding the end times i.e. mass apostasy, it would be incongruous to have a grand scale of conversion among the Jews. It also seems to me that in fact they will hasten the destruction by their professed naturalism.

R. Sungenis: Matt, there are various Fathers, saints and medievals who have stated that the Antichrist will come from the Jews. This is not surprising, since the Jews, by and large, have been the most antagonistic of any world religion toward Christ and Christianity for the past 2000 years. The Talmud, stemming from the 7th century AD, has some rather condemning words for both Christ and Christianity, and as St. Paul predicted, only a remnant of Jews will convert to Christianity.

There were about a dozen or so Fathers and medievals who spoke about the possibility of a Jewish conversion in the future, but there ideas and predictions vary considerably, and some Fathers have several views. Thomas Aquinas was the only one who spoke of a "universal" conversion of the Jews in all of Christian history, yet there were three popes after him that said there would be no universal conversion, and that we should only expect to see a remnant of Jews convert to Christianity. These papal statements agree with what St. Paul wrote in Romans 11 about the future of the Jews, namely, that only a remnant would turn to Christ right up until the end of time.