Tuesday, June 18, 2019

From those who oppose the Catholic Church to those who are thinking about entering, in this show, we take a break from talking with Catholics to answer questions about the Faith from non-Catholics.

Questions Covered:

  • What did you just do in France? What was it like to be at D-Day commemoration at Omaha Beach in Normandy France?
  • Did you find the Catholic Faith Dead in France?
  • What should we think about the Papacy? Is the Pope beyong criticism?
  • 13:03 – Why don’t Catholics keep the Sabbath on Sunday?
  • 16:40 – Must I give up my King James Bible if I become Catholic?
  • 21:07 – I disagree with Catholic teaching of pagan gods and goddesses. Can you explain why John Paul II attended an interfaith summit that might have been people worshiping pagan gods?
  • 43:15 – I don’t think the Catholic Church has apostolic succession. When Christ said, upon this rock… he was simply referring to faith in Christ.
  • 49:54 – Did you travel before you became Catholic? How has being Catholic affected your traveling ministry?
  • 52:00 – Has the Catholic Church defined what is literal and figurative in the Bible? It seems like Scripture is all open to interpretation.
  • What about Eastern Orthodox Churches? Are they Catholic? What should we think of them?

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A comment on a cardinal’s tweet re capital punishment, by Canon Lawyer Ed Peters:
June 17, 2019

Earlier today Cdl. Dolan of New York tweeted: “With the clear and cogent clarification of the successor of St. Peter, there now exists no loophole to morally justify capital punishment.”

The supposedly clear and cogent clarification that Dolan has in mind must be Pope Francis’ 2018 modification of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert that the death penalty is “inadmissible”. But, while it is likely that Francis meant what Dolan said, the pope did not quite claim what the cardinal clearly did. Francis (or his handlers) left just enough wiggle room (by using “inadmissible”, an ambiguous term in magisterial-moral discourse) to avoid flatly declaring the DP “immoral” and setting off thereby a magisterial firestorm such as has not been seen for some centuries.

Highly recommended book on legitimacy of Catholic teaching and tradition on Capital Punishment.

Dolan, in contrast, tweeting in terms well-known to tradition, plainly stated that the DP is immoral, thus going beyond what Francis was willing to say. That’s a problem. Indeed, it’s two problems.

(Photo: Highly recommended book on the legitimacy of Catholic teaching and tradition on Capital Punishment.)

1. Numerous serious studies argue (convincingly, in my view) that the liceity of the DP in certain cases is taught by the Church’s infallible magisterium (specifically, as “secondary object” thereof); at the very least, such studies make a prima facie case for the liceity of the death penalty under the infallible magisterium. Therefore, Church leaders contradicting that position must, simply must, deal with the possibility that infallibility is in play here, and, at a minimum, they should refrain from unnuanced declarations that might, in the end, be shown as “opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church” per Canon 750 § 2. See also Canon 1371 n. 1.

But the stakes might be higher still.

2. Many of the sources invoked for the liceity of the DP as a secondary object of infallibility (Scripture, Patristics, etc.) are those commonly associated with infallible assertions of primary objects of infallibility, that is, with matters of revelation. Now, while contradicting infallible assertions regarding secondary objects is, as stated above, to make one opposed to the doctrine of the Church, contradicting primary objects of the Church’s infallible magisterium is a specific element of heresy per Canons 750 § 1 and 751. See also Canon 1364. Obviously, this characterization risks even greater harm to the Church.

Am I saying that Dolan has committed heresy in his tweet or that he has expressed opposition to the teaching of the Church? No, but I am saying that declaring the DP as immoral per se puts one at risk of asserting something that many qualified scholars argue powerfully is opposed to infallible Church teaching, and possibly even to contradicting something divinely revealed. The real possibility of so offending the truth should, I think, trigger more respectful caution by those in positions of authority when speaking on these matters.

Think of it this way: A hunter shooting toward something moving in the underbrush can’t defend his accidental killing of a human being by saying “I did not know it was a man, I thought it was a deer.” The hunter has a duty to verify the status of his target before he shoots. Likewise, popes and bishops taking shots at the long-recognized moral liceity of the DP have a duty to verify the magisterial status of that teaching lest they accidentally hit something they had no business aiming at in the first place.

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