This month’s edition of Catholic Family News contains the articles listed below. Only a few of these are reprinted on this website. To read all of the articles contained in this month’s edition, choose one of our subscription options, each of which comes with access to the E-Edition of the paper so you can start reading these articles now.
November 2023 Contents
The Doubtful Dubia Reply (Brian M. McCall)
The Catholic world received the surprising news in early October that five Cardinals, Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Leo Burke, Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Robert Sarah, and Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, submitted a list of dubia to the Holy Father in July of 2023. Given the disturbing and confusing statements of Pope Francis, it is not surprising that dubia have been submitted — on the contrary, it is surprising that more are not filed every week. The surprising news is that Pope Francis replied (sort of) to their requests for answers in light of the then-upcoming General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome (Oct. 4-29).
The submission of dubia to the pope is an age-old process by which members of the Church can seek clear answers to questions regarding the doctrine of the Church. The questions have always been answered either in the affirmative or the negative (a simply “yes” or “no”) and can also include explanations or reasons for the response. In light of the lack of any response to the 2016 dubia submitted by four Cardinals (two of whom remain alive and signed this July 2023 request), it is surprising that Francis answered this request, although as we shall see he did not, strictly speaking, “answer” the dubia.
Analyzing the Papal Reply
In this article, we will examine the replies of Pope Francis and attempt to consider why the five Cardinals themselves claimed that his answers “have not resolved the doubts” they raised “but have, if anything, deepened them.” In doing so, we will proceed by examining Pope Francis’ explanations in light of the warnings that Pope St. Pius X gave us about Modernist errors in his Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis.
Before delving into the specific topics of the dubia, it will be helpful to consider the warning of St. Pius X about the crafty techniques of the Modernists. He wrote: “[T]he Modernists … employ a very clever artifice, namely, to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement into one whole, scattered and disjointed one from another, so as to appear to be in doubt and uncertainty, while they are in reality firm and steadfast.” In other words, Modernists pretend they are not pushing an agenda with a goal but merely trying to explore questions and attempting to find the truth with an open mind. In reality, they are using the appearance of doubt and uncertainty as a cover for their very definite plans. Francis accomplishes this by not actually answering a single question with a yes or no. He crafts replies that are internally contradictory and ambiguous. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News
The New Religion of Synodality (Eric Sammons)
Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from a talk given at the Catholic Identity Conference on Sept. 30, 2023 in Pittsburgh, PA.
The long-awaited (and long-feared) “Synod on Synodality” begins today (Oct. 4, 2023), and perhaps it’s best to ask a basic question, one that is both obvious and yet obscure:
What exactly is “synodality”?
If Church leaders think it important to spend so much time and (our) money addressing synodality, wouldn’t they also want Catholics to be clear about what they are talking about? Yet in all my discussions with fellow Catholics, both online and in real life, I’ve found that almost no one can give a straightforward definition of synodality.
To be fair, the official Vatican website on the synod does give a definition. It states,
“Synodality denotes the particular style that qualifies the life and mission of the Church, expressing her nature as the People of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. Synodality ought to be expressed in the Church’s ordinary way of living and working.
Synodality, in this perspective, is much more than the celebration of ecclesial meetings and Bishops’ assemblies, or a matter of simple internal administration within the Church; it is the specific modus vivendi et operandi of the Church, the People of God, which reveals and gives substance to her being as communion when all her members journey together, gather in assembly and take an active part in her evangelizing mission.”
My apologies: I realize that including this meandering definition has caused about half of my readers to fall into a stupor, their eyes having glazed over about two sentences in. The definition is pure “Vaticanese” — a cross between a bureaucratic government manual and a loopy New Age handbook. It’s a lot of words that, taken together, mean…nothing.
This is on purpose, however, for by meaning nothing it can be made to mean anything. “Synodality” thus becomes a cover for implementing fundamental changes to Catholicism. Using terms like “journey together” and “gather in assembly” put a happy face on the radical deconstruction of the Catholic Faith. Read: “We can hold hands on the way to hell!”
It’s important that we are straightforward about the threat of synodality, which hides in ambiguities while aiming to reconstruct the Church. This confusion surrounding synodality is addressed in one of the most recent dubia submitted to the pope and made public this week [Oct. 2, 2023] by five Cardinals, including Cardinals Zen, Burke, and Sarah. Click here to continue reading
*The Popes Speak* Excerpts from Benedict XV’s Encyclical Humani Generis Redemptionem on Preaching the Word of God, Part II
Editor’s Note: We began this Encyclical in the September issue, but then ran excerpts from Pius XI’s Encyclical on St. Francis of Assisi last month in honor of the saint’s feast day (Oct. 4). We now return to Benedict XV’s Encyclical on Preaching the Word of God, a subject particularly relevant in light of the Synod on Synodality and the five dubia submitted to Pope Francis (topics covered in this issue).
Bishops have a solemn duty to carefully scrutinize and approve those who exercise the office of preaching within their dioceses, since those who preach are “substitutes” for the bishop, who “will have to render to God and to His Church an account of the manner in which [he] feed [his] flock,” says Benedict XV. The same Pontiff stresses that preachers should not be chosen based on their eloquence or popular appeal, but on whether or not their preaching produces good spiritual fruit — namely, the salvation and sanctification of souls. “If anyone acts carelessly and negligently in this duty,” says Benedict XV to bishops, “he clearly offends in a grievous matter, and on him will fall the responsibility of the errors which the untrained preacher may spread or of the scandal and the bad example which the unworthy one may give.” May the Church’s current bishops heed these solemn warnings.
Council of Trent on the Duty of Preaching
5. For the duty of preaching, as the Council of Trent teaches, “is the paramount duty of Bishops.” [Sess. XXIV, De. Ref., c. iv] And the Apostles, whose successors the bishops are, looked upon it as something peculiarly theirs. St. Paul writes: “For Christ sent us not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.” [I Cor. 1:17] And the other Apostles were of the opinion that: “It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables.” [Acts 6:2] But although preaching is properly the duty of Bishops, nevertheless, since it is impossible that they should always or everywhere be able to discharge it in person, distracted as they are by the many cares which they meet in the government of their churches, they must of necessity comply with this obligation through others. Wherefore it cannot be doubted that all those who in addition to the Bishops are thus engaged, are employed in the performance of an episcopal duty. Let this then be the first law laid down: that no one on his own responsibility undertake the office of preaching. In order to fulfill that duty everyone must have a lawful mission, and that mission can be conferred by the Bishop alone. “How shall they preach, unless they be sent?” [Rom. 10:15] Now the Apostles were sent and sent by Him Who is the supreme Pastor and Bishop of our souls [I Pet. 2:25]; so too, were the seventy-two first disciples; nay, St. Paul himself, although constituted by Christ a vessel of election to carry His name, before Gentiles and kings, [Acts 9:15] entered upon his apostolate only after the elders in obedience to the command of the Holy Ghost, “Separate me Saul for the work” [Acts 13:2], had imposed hands upon him and sent him forth. The same practice was constantly followed in the early days of the Church. For all without exception, both those who distinguished themselves in the priestly order like Origen, and those later on were raised to the dignity of the episcopate, like Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Augustine and the other more ancient Doctors of the Church, undertook the office of preaching with the sanction and authority of their Bishops. Click here to continue reading
Where Is the New Theology Going? Part I (Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.)
Editor’s Note: On September 13, 2023, Rorate Caeli began publishing a response written by Dr. John Lamont to a series of attacks on the traditionalist position regarding the liturgy. Fr. Henry Donneaud, O.P., in an article in the Nouvelle revue théologique, and in a review of Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s book True Obedience in the Church in the Revue Thomiste, attempts to refute the traditionalist position and support Pope Francis’s claim that the Novus Ordo represents the sole form of the Roman Rite.
The article refers to Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s seven-article refutation of “la nouvelle théologie.” Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange was a great providential gift to the Church just before the crisis erupted into the open at the Second Vatican Council. He will likely go down in history as one of the greatest theologians of the Church. He spent much of his career refuting neo-Modernist errors, which were rebranded during the reign of Pius XII as “the new theology” (la nouvelle théologie). Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange is the soul of clarity. Unfortunately, the English translation of “la nouvelle théologie” was extremely hard to follow because it had been done in such a rush and by a journalist who didn’t know theology. With intensified theological and polemical attacks on the traditionalist position appearing more frequently, the work of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange is even more important today than when he first refuted the neo-Modernist errors. Given the importance of this text, Catholic Family News is proud to publish for the first time a new translation into English of this important work. Theological language requires great precision and therefore a translation, if done properly, is painstaking and difficult. Congratulations to Fr. Albert Kallio, O.P., and Mrs. Mary Gillman for their outstanding work.
In Fr. Henri Bouillard’s recent book, Conversion et grâce chez saint Thomas d’Aquin, [Conversion and Grace in St. Thomas Aquinas](1944), he writes, “When the mind evolves, an immutable truth can only subsist thanks to a simultaneous and correlative evolution of all its notions, maintaining the same relation among them. A theology which would not be current would be a false theology.”
Now in the preceding and subsequent pages he shows that several important parts of St. Thomas’ theology are not current. For example, St. Thomas conceived sanctifying grace as a form (a radical principle of supernatural operations which have as their proximate principle the infused virtues and the seven gifts): “The notions used by St. Thomas are simply Aristotelian notions applied to theology.”
What follows from this? “In renouncing Aristotelian physics, modern thought has abandoned the notions, the schemas, the dialectic oppositions that only have meaning as a function of that system.” It has abandoned the notion of form.
How can the reader evade the conclusion: St. Thomas’ theology not being current, is a false theology?
But then why have the popes so often recommended that we follow St. Thomas’ doctrine? Why does the Church say in her Code of Canon Law, can. 1366, no. 2: “Professors shall treat studies in rational theology and philosophy and the instruction of students in these disciplines according to the system, teaching, and principles of the Angelic Doctor and hold to them religiously.”
Further, how can “an immutable truth” be maintained if the two notions it unites by the verb to be are essentially variable?
An immutable relation is conceivable only if there is something immutable in the two terms that it unites. Otherwise, one might well say that iron grapples can immobilize the waves of the sea. No doubt the two notions that are united in an immutable affirmation are first confused then distinct, like the notions of nature, person, substance, accident, transubstantiation, Real Presence, sin, original sin, grace, etc. But if that which is fundamental in these notions is not immutable, how can the affirmation be immutable that unites them by the verb to be? How can we maintain that the Real Presence of the substance of the Body of Christ in the Eucharist requires transubstantiation if these notions are essentially variable? How can we maintain that original sin in us depends on a voluntary fault of the first man, if the notion of original sin is essentially unstable? How can we maintain that particular judgment after death is irrevocable for all eternity, if these notions are subject to change? And how, finally, can we maintain that all these propositions are immutably true if the very notion of truth must change, and if it is necessary to substitute for the traditional notion of truth (the conformity of our judgment to external reality and to its immutable laws) the definition proposed these last years by the philosophy of action: the conformity of our judgment with the exigencies of action or the life of man that is constantly evolving? To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News
Czech Bishops’ Dubia: Cardinal Müller Provides Clarity (Brian Mershon)
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2012-2017), issued what he called an “assessment” of the Holy See’s response to 10 dubia (formal questions) presented by Cardinal Dominik Duka on behalf of the Czech bishops’ conference.
According to Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Duka, the archbishop emeritus of Prague, submitted the dubia on July 13. The now-Dicastery for Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) issued a response that was signed both by Pope Francis and the dicastery’s new prefect, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, and given to the Czech cardinal on September 25. The subject of these dubia include questions about the authority of bishops’ conferences in the implementation of Amoris Laetitia (AL), specifically, the practice of allowing divorced and civilly “remarried” Catholics to receive Holy Communion “in certain cases” per the papal document itself (AL, n. 305, note 351) as well as the Pope’s approval of the guidelines issued by the bishops of the Buenos Aires pastoral region in Argentina (n. 6).
Cardinal Müller, a voting member of the Synod on Synodality, issued his theological assessment of the DDF’s response to Cardinal Duka, “his friend,” according to Vatican journalist Sandro Magister, providing a defense of the traditional doctrine of the Church regarding numerous issues that touch upon the authentic and ordinary magisterium of the Church, and providing a lens through which to view the authority of the current DDF response. In his assessment, Cardinal Müller raises concerns about Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s letter to the bishops of Argentina approving their guidelines, and the placing of both those guidelines and the Pope’s approval letter into the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, thereby confirming its teaching as part of the authentic magisterium of the Pope, which ordinarily requires a religious assent of intellect and will according to Catholic doctrine. Because there are multiple English translations of Cardinal Fernandez’s DDF response to Cardinal Duka, but no original Latin, as is ordinarily the case for the promulgation of official Church documents, I do not plan to add to the confusion by using unofficial translations into English from Spanish for this column. Instead, I believe the much bigger news is Cardinal Müller’s response to Cardinal Duka correcting Cardinal Fernandez’s answers. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News
Francis Warns of Climate Apocalypse in Laudate Deum (Anthony P. Stine, Ph.D.)
October 4 is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on both the 1962 liturgical calendar and the calendar for the Novus Ordo Missae. The founder of the Order of Friars Minor, St. Francis has historically been associated with authentic reform in the Church, spiritual and material poverty, and delivering sermons that were calls for conversion to audiences who were unwilling to hear them. But because he would often shame his audience by addressing his sermons to the trees and animals in the vicinity of his intended audience of humans when they were unwilling to listen, and because this saint wrote the Canticle of the Sun (which praises God for the majesty of His creation), in recent decades St. Francis of Assisi has been rebranded by secularists and Modernists into the patron saint of ecology.
Under Pope Francis, the feast of St. Francis typically coincides with an emphasis on the “values” presented in the Pope’s 2015 Encyclical Laudato Si. In 2019, for example, the Catholic world was horrified by the presence and worship of Pachamama idols, first in the Vatican Gardens, and later in St. Peter’s Basilica. This year, Pope Francis marked the feast of St. Francis by issuing a sequel to Laudato Si — an Apostolic Exhortation entitled Laudate Deum (On the Climate Crisis) — which expresses firm papal support for the myth of climate change while calling on Catholics to support efforts to implement globalism to fight the alleged threat.
Laudato Si 2.0
The document’s release coincided with the opening of the Synod on Synodality general assembly in Rome (Oct. 4, 2023), a gathering which likewise represents a push to adapt the Catholic Church to the theories and trends of the world. Ironically, the more overtly political and secular messages contained in Laudate Deum were subsumed by the promotion of the LGBT agenda in the Church at the Synod, as well as debates about women’s ordination, lay involvement in Church governance, and other issues not nearly as salient to the globalists, who have been focused on addressing what they claim is an existential threat to civilization by calling for greater authority for nongovernmental entities (like the World Economic Forum) to enforce the requirements of climate change pacts on individual nations. Most recently, the World Economic Forum proposed such a pact for dealing with future pandemics in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. International governance is key to understanding Pope Francis’ latest climate change document. Although it opens with praises offered to God for His creation, the text then makes a startling claim about the state of the world and the threat posed to humanity by this alleged crisis. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News
Divine Kingship in Early Christian Coronation Liturgies (Phillip Campbell)
The Feast of Christ the King calls to mind the authority of Jesus Christ over the kingdoms of men. But since we live in an age that has rejected both monarchical models of government and the religious orientation of the state, much of the rich symbolism of this truth has become incomprehensible in the age of democracy. In this article we shall begin to remedy this by conducting a brief survey of coronation rites of East and West during the first millennium to see how God’s rulership was invoked as a model for the earthly reign of Christian kings.
Byzantine Coronation Rites
Let us begin in the East. Distinctively Christian coronation rites in Byzantium date from the 5th century. The first emperor crowned by the Patriarch of Constantinople was Marcian in 450, although the coronation ceremony seems to have been relatively simple. By the time of Leo II (473) the ceremony had evolved to include liturgical prayers. At the coronation of Anastasius in 490 the prayers of the Patriarch and presentation of the Gospels were prominent. The Patriarch then administered an oral and written oath to the emperor-elect, making him swear that he would “keep the faith entire and introduce no novelty into the Church.” The coronation began to reflect the Christian sensibility that the monarch was, in some sense, a protector of the Church tasked with promoting the reign of Christ.
The first emperor crowned inside a church was the usurper Phokas, in 602. This was likely a propaganda device by Phokas, who as a usurper was desperate to project legitimacy. By that time the entire imperial coronation ceremony assumed a formal and religious character. These coronation liturgies compared anointed emperors to biblical kings and their Christian subjects to the new Israel. Associations with King David were especially prominent. Upon Heraclius’s victory over the Persians in 628, a set of magnificent silver plates were commissioned depicting the triumphs of King David and associating them with the reign of Heraclius. Called the “David Plates”, this set of seven engraved plates shows David as a Byzantine nobleman and the Philistines as Persians. The emperor’s victories are God’s victories. By the seventh century, coronation rituals were no longer mere transfers of political office but divine ordinations—no longer the proclamation of a de facto ruler, but the creation of a de jure monarch. In some ways the Byzantine emperor was viewed as a type of ecclesiastic—of what sort, nobody could say. This was reflected in the rite of investing the emperor-elect with a mandyas, or cope, as well as the emperor’s apparent exercise of the function of a minor order in the Eucharistic liturgy that followed. Click here to continue reading
The Grand Superstition: A Lighthearted Look at the Dark Age of Scientific Mythology, Part IV (Christopher A. Ferrara)
Act II, Scene 4: Matter over Mind
In order to write this scene from our three-act “play” about the Grand Superstition, I had to dive into the murky waters of the modern philosophy of mind, which seeks to explain how evolution could give rise to human consciousness and the human intellect. A word of warning about this philosophy: Don’t come in. The water is not fine.
As I noted earlier in this serial melodrama, Descartes’ fatal compromise with the Mechanical Philosophy gave rise to Cartesian dualism. To recapitulate:
• the soul is no longer the form of the body, but a separate thinking substance that somehow operates the body through a mysterious connection (in the pineal gland, Descartes speculated);
• the material world in its objectivity as mere extended material objects in space is divorced from the mind in its subjective perceptions of these material things, which are mere representations of the real in which the mind tacks on various “secondary qualities” such as color, taste, sound, smell, etc.;
• the brain is distinguished from the mind, and thus the mind is distinguished from the body, giving rise to the so-called, but actually non-existent, mind-body problem.
Before all this confusion set in, A-T (Aristotelian-Thomistic) metaphysics had sorted out the world rather well for all of Western history until the mid-l600s and the appearance of Descartes’ disastrous concession to materialism:
• created beings are unities of matter and form with fixed natures according to the divine will;
• there are no “secondary qualities” versus “primary qualities” in things: a red apple just is red according to its form, which has all the qualities of that form;
• there is no separation between man’s body and soul, brain and mind, or mind and body: it is man as one substance who thinks, acts, and lives.
Now, no one says my brain believes in the Holy Trinity or my body went to the supermarket. The way we speak about ourselves and our actions and beliefs and those of others — I did this, I think this, I believe this, I saw this, or you did, thought, believed, or saw this — happens to correspond to the way God has constituted the physical universe as an ensemble of unitary substances composed of matter and form. That is what common sense tells us, even without revelation. But the modern philosophy of mind — in service of the theory of evolution — is precisely a full-scale attack on the account of common sense. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News
Fatima: Is It Only a Private Revelation? Part II (Marianna Bartold)
The Woman and the Church
Just as the Apocalypse foretold, in 1917 it was the Woman who first appeared as “a great sign” in the Church. “And there was seen another sign in heaven. And behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems.” This sign is not “a great sign” like the Woman clothed with the sun, but it is another sign, one that is in stark contrast against the woman, an ominous sign that appears in the Church. This infallible warning appears to indicate that Satan will both persecute and infiltrate the Church, just as he persecuted the first twelve apostles; he also infiltrated them by drawing Judas further into his own weak inclinations and Judas, as we know, unwittingly betrayed Christ and then died by his own hand.
This terrible sign of “a great red dragon” with seven heads, ten horns (leaders of nations), and seven diadems reminds us that Our Lady said Russia will spread her errors (plural) throughout the world. The great red dragon is the spirit of anti-Christ already risen, the spirit behind the heresy of universal salvation which redefines the word catholic (i.e., universal) as it applies to the true Church, the spirit behind the creation of a universal world-government that seeks to totally abolish the Social Reign of Christ the King, and the spirit behind a “new order” which inverses the order of God’s Church and God’s world. It is the spirit paving the way for the actual person of anti-Christ. To counter that evil spirit, the Fatima Virgin asked specific requests of the entire Church, one being that the Pope and the hierarchy make an act of solemn, collegial consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
Only at Fatima did the Lord, through the Virgin Mary, perform a public miracle so great that those who saw it called it “the sign of God.” The child Lucia had asked Our Lady for a sign, not for herself but for the scoffing unbelievers, like those who challenged Our Lord, “What sign therefore dost thou shew, that we may see, and may believe thee? What dost thou work?”
To see and to believe — and so Our Lady promised, “In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.” On October 13, 1917, the Woman who is more brilliant than the sun kept her promise. Witnessed by at least 70,000 people, the “great sign” was seen in the heavens, recalling Rev. Kramer’s observation: “In the Septuagint, the word [sign] is used for celestial phenomena.” Thus, it seems there does exist a dual-symbolism in Apocalypse, Ch. 12:1, in which the Virgin Mary not only appears as “a great sign” in the Church, in order to assist the Church as her prophesied travail approaches. She, through the power of God, also gave “a great sign” to those who live in these very troubled times. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News
*Apologetics Series* Msgr. Fenton’s Handbook on Catholic Apologetics: The Resurrection (Matthew Plese)
The Resurrection as the Miracle Par Excellence
Surrexit Dominus vere (“The Lord is risen indeed!”), words taken from Luke 24:34, are the customary greeting by which pious Catholics would salute one another in former times during Eastertide. These sentiments of unrestrained joy are in praise of the greatest miracle in the history of the world: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead by His own divine power. This miracle, the greatest ever performed in human history, is the entire focus of the sixteenth chapter of Laying the Foundation by Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton.
Continuing our study of apologetics with Msgr. Fenton as our guide, we next consider the ramifications of this all-holy miracle and the credibility it provides for our work as an apologist for the Faith. Msgr. Fenton thus opens this chapter by boldly proclaiming:
“Jesus of Nazareth died. He was buried. Then He lived and walked again. This incontrovertible truth constitutes the supreme evidence for the reliability of His teaching as divine revelation. …
Since the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead occupies this position of unique importance as a motive of credibility, it is essential that scientific apologetics should take special cognizance of the naturally available information about it. We must first examine the historical evidence about the reality of the death, the burial, and the Resurrection. Then we can analyze this datum and understand exactly why it constitutes the outstanding seal of God’s approval for the claim that the message of Jesus was actually divine revelation.”
After carefully recounting the Resurrection accounts in all four canonical Gospels side by side, Msgr. Fenton then quotes at length the Scriptures concerning the appearance of the Risen Lord to St. Mary Magdalen, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the remaining Apostles in the absence of St. Thomas, the Eleven Apostles when St. Thomas was present, the witnesses of the Ascension, and St. Paul. Only after nearly 20 pages of such testimony does Msgr. Fenton begin to instruct on the mystery of the Resurrection.
Testimony of the Apostles as Proof of Christ’s Resurrection
One indisputable proof of the Resurrection was the fact that the Apostles openly and boldly asserted the Resurrection of Jesus in the midst of the very leaders who brought about His Crucifixion, without the fear of them disputing such claims. Msgr. Fenton notes accordingly:
“We have ample historical evidence to show that the Apostles spoke openly of the Resurrection in the city of Jerusalem before those very individuals who had been responsible for the murder of their Master and who now focused their attention on the task of preventing and discrediting the teachings of His followers. Had there been the slightest chance of disproving the apostolic assertions, the high priest and the Pharisees would have produced the body of Jesus, or at least shown what had happened to it, and thereby stopped the existence of that society which they hated. They never made any move in this direction. Thus, the earliest preaching of the Apostles stands as an unshakable evidence for the reality of the Resurrection itself.
These Apostles considered themselves primarily witnesses to the resurrection, and the successor to the traitor, Judas Iscariot, was meant to act in that same capacity.”
St. Peter asserted more than once — in His sermon to the multitudes after receiving the Holy Ghost on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:22-36) and in His testimony before the Sanhedrin (cf. Acts 4:8-12) — that the Lord Jesus Christ truly died and rose again. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News
“As Through Fire”: An Eastern Catholic Perspective on Purgatory (Mark Fellows)
It is quite common in the world of apologetics to draw artificial lines demarcating doctrinal territories that that do not exist in reality. A quick glance on YouTube, Twitter (now called “X”) and Facebook will see “pop” apologists attempting to distinguish their denomination’s teachings from another’s, with predictably fallacious results. Eastern Orthodox e-apologists often distinguish their denomination’s beliefs from that of the Catholic Church by suggesting the Catholic Church created novelties such as papal infallibility, the filioque, purgatory, indulgences, and so on. What they often omit is that the Fathers of the Church — and not 20th-century Orthodox revisionist historians — largely defend the Catholic Church’s traditional teachings on these topics, albeit with varying emphases. As the month of November is dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, it is worth exploring the Eastern Christian understanding of Purgatory and how Orthodox schismatics’ denial of it does an injustice to an authentically “Eastern” perspective. Later in this essay, we will examine how the teaching on Purgatory can be reconciled with orthodox (small ‘o’) Eastern Christian teaching, but first, we must define the term and concept itself.
Purgatory in Scripture and Church Teaching
The English word “purgatory” comes from the Latin verb purgare, meaning “to purify” and cleanse. Purgatory refers to that place or condition by which the soul is purified and cleansed from attachment to venial sins. This doctrine logically follows from Scriptural support for praying for the dead. The famous passage in 2 Maccabees 12:42-46 details the way in which Judas Maccabeus and his men made atonement for fallen soldiers by giving an offering for the soldiers’ sins. Judas and his men discovered that these fallen soldiers were found with amulets dedicated to pagan idols. Through the prayer and sacrifices made by the living, the Jews hoped to help their fallen brethren become free from the punishment due for their sins: “For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (2 Mac. 12:44-46).
In the Gospels, Our Lord teaches: “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matt. 5:25-26). He also makes note of the way in which the sin “against the Holy Spirit … shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come” (Matt. 12:32).
In St. Paul’s epistles, we see his clear teaching that, for many, there will be a purification process after death. It speaks of works being tested by fire, and individuals being saved, though as through fire, which is interpreted as a purifying experience. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News
EXCLUSIVE: Bishop Schneider Comments on New Book, Synod on Synodality, Cardinals’ Five Dubia (Matt Gaspers)
In an exclusive interview with Catholic Family News, Bishop Athanasius Schneider provides insight into his new book, Credo: Compendium of the Catholic Faith, which was published by Sophia Institute Press in September of this year. “Once a common practice among Catholic bishops,” the Publisher’s Preface explains, “the publication of this book marks the first time in over fifty years that a Roman prelate has issued a comprehensive presentation of the Faith that is entirely his own, accessible to readers of any background, and attentive to the needs of our time.” The book also bears the imprimatur (approval for publication) of Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester (New Hampshire), the diocese in which the publisher is located.
“The doctrinal confusion within the Church is indeed very wide and profound,” His Excellency said when asked about the current ecclesial landscape, “especially among the bishops and priests, in most of the seminaries and religious convents, and among the faithful.” Hence, the need for an intervention.
“The most dangerous error,” he told CFN, “is the acceptance of the diversity of religions as something positive or as a fact,” which Pope Francis regrettably affirmed in the Document on Human Fraternity signed during his visit to Abu Dhabi (Feb. 4, 2019). “From this error stems the heretical opinion that one can be saved in any religion.”
When asked about what motivated him to prepare this new book, Bishop Schneider said that “one of my intentions was to respectfully correct ambiguous statements in certain texts of Vatican II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and of certain acts and statements of some post-conciliar popes, especially of Pope Francis.”
“Not all assertions in a Papal or Conciliar document are ipso facto infallible,” he explained. “They can be theoretically ambiguous and even erroneous, which history has proven. However, this doesn’t contradict the fact that the Church as a whole, in her constant doctrinal teaching throughout the ages, remains infallible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, notwithstanding that in some rare historical cases Popes or Ecumenical Councils could issue ambiguous or erroneous statements in their non-definitive teachings.” “My intention,” he emphasized, “is that my book might help dispel the current widespread doctrinal and liturgical confusion within the Church, so that the purity and beauty of Catholic doctrine, its morals and its Liturgy, will shine again, so that Catholics can distinguish without a doubt the wheat from the tares, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.” Click here to continue reading