Catholic Controversies

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.

{ 3 comments }

Does the Bible Contain Errors, or is it Inerrant?

by Steve Ray on March 10, 2019

An e-mail I received today with a very important and pertinent question. It involves the inerrancy of Scripture. In short, this means that the Scriptures do not contain errors. I decided to answer the e-mail and share my response.

Pope-Leo-XIII-portrait-Hathi-TrustPope Leo XIII wrote, “For all the books that the Church receives as sacred and canonical are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit. And so far is it from being possible that any error can coexist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God himself, the Supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true.” (Providentissimus Deus §40)

The Catechism defines Inerrancy as “The attribute of the books of Scripture whereby they faithfully and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to have confided through the Sacred Scriptures.”

Many see in this Catechism statement a compromise of traditional teaching. Some read this to mean that only things pertaining to our salvation are without error, but it is not inerrant where it touches on science, history or other tangible matters. In other words, the Bible is only inerrant on matters of faith and morals.

The e-mail went like this,

“[In debates I’ve had school] I maintained that Dei Verbum and the Church hold to Inerrancy, not limited inerrancy as a couple of theologian types have tried to argue me into. 

I thought you would have up-to-date material that would at least show my view is DEFENSIBLE. What do you recommend? I’ve read the Scott Hahn materials, Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth (which one theologian thought would move me to limited inerrancy), etc. 

Thanks, RB

I gave a short response and pointed RB to a very thorough and orthodox paper on inerrancy with argues for the full position taken by the Church without wavering until theologians challenged it in modern times.

I wrote,

the wooden rosary on the open Bible the wooden rosary on the open Bible

I believe in the plenary inerrancy of scripture. I do not believe that Dei Verbum in any way weakens traditional and historic teaching of the Church. To do so would contradict the constant teaching of the Church and rationality.

If the Bible is written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, how can it have errors of any kind? God cannot lie or deceive or teach error.
If the Bible is not inerrant in areas that we can verify (science, history, etc.), how can we possibly trust it in areas we cannot verify (heaven, forgiveness of sins, Trinity, etc.)? If the Scriptures are riddled with errors regarding history that can be proved in error — how and why should we trust it about things we cannot verify.

I could write a whole treatise for you on this but I could not do better than this one I’m sharing with you entitled The Inerrancy of Scripture and the Second Vatican Council. written by Mark Joseph Zia in CatholicCulture.org. It is a good read and should clear up any doubts or confusion.

Don’t be bullied or intimidated into compromising on the full teaching of the Church. To do so is to lose everything. The Scriptures are the authoritative, inspired, infallible and inerrant word of God.

{ 1 comment }

Steve’s segment starts 24:00 minutes into the show.

The questions are multiple. What is happening to the Church? Why aren’t Rome and the bishops doing something about homosexual clergy? Why should I stay with the Church with all the confusion and lack of action with Pope Francis and the Vatican? I am angry and don’t know what to do!

Teresa and Steve talk frankly about these matters and give the overall picture — and — encourage Catholics to stay, be proud and to act!

{ 0 comments }

A MUST READ: Cardinal Müller issues Manifesto: A quasi correction of Pope Francis’ pontificate

February 9, 2019

“February 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) (News also released by Catholic News Agency) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, has released a Manifesto which reads like a correction of many of the doctrinal errors Pope Francis has taught during his tenure as Pope…. …Pope Francis removed Cardinal Müller from his post as […]

Read the full article →

Debunking 4 Biblical Myths Accepted by Many as True

December 29, 2018

There are three “truths” I have been asked about many times. Often people tell me these as though they’re explaining to me something I’ve never heard before. However, in each case, there is no historical, biblical or actual basis to any three of them. In each case they started being taught in recent times and […]

Read the full article →

She Wrote that She is Worried about the Church…

November 10, 2018

In response to a concerned convert to the Catholic Faith.  What to think about all the scandals and the confusion and the divisions in the Church under the current Vatican? Here is my short response… ********************* You’re not the only one distressed by what’s going on in the Church today all the way up to […]

Read the full article →

Archbishop Viganó’s New Earth-Shattering Letter. God Bless Him!

September 27, 2018

A month ago Archbishop Viganó exposed the secrets of the homosexual network in the Vatican and the Catholic Church. He called on Pope Francis to resign and all the bishops and Cardinals in the network to resign with him. Since Pope Francis has been silent (and unhappily Pope Emeritus Benedict too) Archbishop Viganó has released […]

Read the full article →

Why the Church Cannot Reverse Past Teaching on Capital Punishment

September 20, 2018

If Pope Francis were to teach that capital punishment is “absolutely” immoral, he would be contradicting the teaching of scripture, the Fathers, and all previous popes, and substituting for it “some new doctrine.” June 7, 2017 Joseph M. Bessette, Dr. Edward Feser  Editor’s note: This first part of a two-part article on Catholicism and the death penalty was originally […]

Read the full article →

Bishop Barron: Why Remain Catholic? Why Not Cut and Run?

September 5, 2018
Read the full article →

An Impassioned Appeal to the Pope & Explanation Why Our Patience has RUN OUT!

September 4, 2018

A friend and well-known commentator everyone knows, Al Kresta,  President of Ave Maria Radio, sent me this today. I said it captured a lot of Catholic’s sentiment and asked if I could share it. He said YES!  I think his comments reflect the heart of all of us good Catholics in America struggling to understand […]

Read the full article →

“Defending Archbishop Viganò & Why We Stay Catholic” by George Weigel

August 31, 2018

I found this article by George Weigel in First Things to be very insightful and compelling. It is one more voice confirming the integrity and importance of Archbishop Viganó and what he wrote in his 11-page letter. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to read this article. He ends, “What Archbishop Viganò testifies to knowing on […]

Read the full article →

Really? The Pope has more important things to do ?!?!

August 28, 2018

When I saw this I couldn’t believe it. With the sex scandal raging, Cardinals exposed as perverts, young men, seminarians and priests abused and raped by clergy, men raised to Bishop and Cardinal while doing such despicable and perverted things, the Pope credibly charged with culpability — and Cupich of Chicago says there are more important […]

Read the full article →

Pope Francis and Capital Punishment

August 4, 2018

Excellent article by Edward Feser in First Thing Magazine that puts Pope Francis misstep in perspective … ********************** “In a move that should surprise no one, Pope Francis has once again appeared to contradict two millennia of clear and consistent scriptural and Catholic teaching. The Vatican has announced that the Catechism of the Catholic Church will […]

Read the full article →

Two Relevant Quotes from Two Brilliant Minds

July 17, 2018

Christopher Dawson (@cdawsonquotes) “Protestantism, Liberalism, and Communism are three successive stages by which our civilization has passed from Catholicism to complete secularism. The first eliminated the Church, the second eliminated Christianity, and the third eliminates the human soul.”   Hilaire Belloc (@bellocquotes) “The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine — […]

Read the full article →

Cardinal Burke Speaks on the Confusion in the Church and the Need for Bishops to Speak Out

May 7, 2018

Here is a real prince of the Church. God bless him. The following interview on current events in the Church with George Weigel is also excellent. You may also want to read “The German Church Divided” in the Catholic Thing. This regards communion for divorced and civilly remarried and communion for Protestants. Also Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s […]

Read the full article →

“Encouraging ministers to give holy Communion to divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics”?

March 5, 2018

Luke 16:18  “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Thus says Our Lord Jesus. Some Church leaders today seem to be contradicting His words and the Laws of the Church. Canon Lawyer Ed Peters comments on new developments: “A […]

Read the full article →