FAQs

Question: What are the rules for Lenten fast and abstinence in this Diocese?

Answer: LENT AND EASTER REGULATIONS A distinction is to be made between Lent and the Easter Triduum. Strictly speaking, Lent ends with the beginning of the Triduum on Holy Thursday. The ordo notes: “Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until Evening Prayer I of Holy Thursday.” Traditionally, Christians fast on two sorts of occasions. One may be termed times of repentance (for example, Lent). The other occasion is by way of anticipation (for example, the one hour before holy communion or the “paschal fast” during the Triduum in anticipation of the Easter event). Lenten Fast and Abstinence 1. Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. Those who are bound to fast may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to each one’s needs, but eating solid food between meals is not permitted. 2. Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics 14 years or older on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays of Lent. 3. Continuing the diocesan custom, all of the appropriate age are asked to fast and abstain on all the Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent as a voluntary practice. The Paschal Fast 1. All Catholics of the appropriate age (see above) are to fast and abstain on Good Friday. 2. All Catholics are encouraged, as a voluntary practice, to fast on Holy Saturday until the celebration of the Easter Vigil. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:51

Question: I would like to assist at a Tridentine Mass. It is my understanding that the Holy Father has authorized the use of the Tridentine Mass in all dioceses, with the blessings of the Ordinary. It is also my understanding that the Holy Father has asked all local Ordinaries to be “generous” in allowing the faithful to worship according to the rubrics of the Tridentine Mass. Many, if not most dioceses now offer at least one Tridentine Mass. Has our Bishop yet approved this most reverent pious liturgy to return to our diocese? If so, what parish(es) offer this Mass?

Answer: The celebration of the Mass according to the Sacramentary of 1962 has been approved by His Holiness John Paul II. At the same time, the Holy Father stated that the permission of the Diocesan Bishop is required before a priest may celebrate the Mass according to this Sacramentary and further stated that this decision should be made on the basis of the spiritual welfare of the faithful, true pastoral need and usefulness, and the circumstances in the diocese in question. Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt has not given his permission to any priest in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to celebrate the Mass according to the Missal of Pius V and no priest of the Diocese has asked for such a permission. At the same time, the Bishop has said that bringing in a priest to the Diocese for the purpose of celebrating this privileged Mass when there are so many in our Diocese who do not have the benefit of any Sunday Mass at all on a regular basis would prove not to be in the real interests of justice or pastoral responsibility. It is our obligation to meet the needs of all first. When those needs have been met, then we can begin to address the desires of some. The answer, therefore, is to pray for more vocations and to actively work on behalf of vocations. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:50

Question: A friend and I were wondering if there was a mailing address we could use to reach Pope John Paul II at the Vatican?

Answer: Your letter to the Holy Father should be addressed as follows His Holiness John Paul II Apostolic Palace 00120 Vatican City State, EUROPE Do not write Italy anywhere on the envelope. If you do, your letter will go through the Italian mail service and, while famous for fashion, great Chianti, beautiful art, and good looking people, their mail system is … well … a heck of a lot worse then ours! For this reason, the Vatican, as an independent country, has its own mail service. Also, make sure to write “air mail” on the envelope so that it is sent by plane and not by boat. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:50

Question: Is this true? The Anglican Church in America is a Province of the Traditional Anglican Communion. We are a part of The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and maintain a valid and historic Apostolic Order and Succession.

Answer: I guess the answer is, it depends upon whom you ask. As a Roman Catholic priest and a canon lawyer, I would say – in as diplomatic a manner as possible – that what the Anglican Communion means by “Catholic” and “Apostolic Succession” and what the Roman Church means by those words is not exactly the same. This particular branch of the Anglican Church, like the rest of that communion, is not in communion with the Pope, the Roman Catholic Church, or its bishops. To the extent that there is a separation and to the extent that this group does not recognize the supreme authority of the Pope as Christ’s Vicar on Earth, this group is not “Catholic”. Likewise, as regards Apostolic Succession. Pope Leo XIII issued a papal bull (an official and authoritative statement) in which he declared Anglican orders (the ordination of priests and, therefore, the consecration of bishops) to be invalid. Though there exists in ecumenical circles today some question as regards the accuracy and the finality of Leo’s teaching, it is the current expression of the Church’s understanding on the matter. SO, it would be safe to say that there is some doubt as regards the apostolic succession of the bishops of the Anglican communion. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:49

Question: Was there not a request for an increase in church donations to help defray renovation costs for the cathedral around 1996? Are the renovations complete? Are donations still being collected from the parishes for that purpose. Was not part of those donations to remain in the home parishes? What is the status now? Thank you for any information you may care to send me.

Answer: Yes, you are correct. In 1996, we launched the Cathedral Restoration Fund to help pay for the $3 million restoration of St. Joseph Cathedral, the mother church of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Based on previously recorded offertory figures, parishes paid into the fund a total of 45% of any offertory increase due to our in pew offertory commitment campaign. Parishes that started their payments in July 1996 completed their obligation to the fund in March 1999. Parishes that sat out one year due to their financial concerns (about one-third) began paying in July 1997 and completed their payments based on March 2000 offertory figures. The $3 million goal is within reach. We have passed the $2.8 million mark and are waiting for parishes who have not completed reporting and payments to conclude reporting activity. Since this $2.8 million represents the 45% share of offertory increase, then about $3.1 million was kept by parishes across West Virginia as a result of the process. The mailing you received recently about the West Virginia Catholic Foundation and then from the Annual Bishop’s Appeal have nothing to do with the Cathedral Restoration Fund, other than the Cathedral having three endowments launched since the foundation opened its doors in 1997. If you are interested in one of our existing funds, want to create a new fund, start a gift annuity or perhaps contribute to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, please know how much we would appreciate your support. Bryan Minor Director of Stewardship and Development Executive Director, WVa Catholic Foundation Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:49

Question: By whom and when did the Catholic Church begin?

Answer: The Catholic Church celebrates it’s birthday on Pentecost Sunday. The feast of Pentecost, the day we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and other followers of Jesus, is found in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-47. We believe it was on this day that the Church was born. The Jewish feast of Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Passover, and Jews from all over would have gathered in Jerusalem for this feast. So to answer your question, after Jesus died and rose from the dead, and after he ascended to His Father, 50 days after Passover, the Church was born by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The first time the word ‘catholic’ was used to describe our Church was at the turn of the first century by St. Athanasius. The word means universal or for all. Looking at the Catholic Church today, it is a Church for all people: Asians, Africans, Europeans, North and South Americans, and the people of Oceania; men and women; rich and poor; all races; and young and old. You will not find the word, catholic, in the Bible, but you will find words that conotate universality, like, “Go out to all the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Mark 16:15) and “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Bryan Reising Director, Evangelization Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:49

Question: What happened when Henry VIII made the break with Rome? Why and how?

Answer: To make short of a very long story (and open myself up to tons of criticism), King Henry VIII of England had married Catherine of Aragon, following the death of his older brother who had married Catherine previously. Henry’s father, Henry VII, and Catherine’s father, the Ferdinand King of Castille, had asked for a papal dispensation to allow Henry to marry the widow of his brother, since the marriage was seen as important to ensuring an alliance between England and Spain (ultimately against the growing power of France and Catherine de Medici). The pope granted the dispensation and the marriage took place. Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine was, in fact, his longest marriage and resulted in the birth of Mary Tudor, later Queen of England. However, Catherine could produce no sons who were born alive or who lived more than a few short days. Eventually, Henry became desperate to ensure the future of the Tudor dynasty by the birth of sons and, having already fallen in love with Lady Anne Boylen, sought to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon declared null and void by the Church. To cut through what amounted to several years of fighting, debate, and deliberation, the Roman Church refused to grant the annulment, Cardinal Campeggio finding no ground for nullity. Henry VIII was furious at this point, feeling betrayed by many of his advisors and by the Church. He resolved to divorce Catherine of his own will and marry Anne. Shortly after the marriage with the aid of Parliament and the consent of the bishops of England, except John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester and chancellor of Cambridge who had been Henry’s adolescent tutor, Henry issued the Act of Supremacy, declaring himself supreme head of the Church in England and forbidding an appeal to Rome or the papacy beyond his own decisions. Shortly thereafter, he issued the Act of Succession which legitimatized Elizabeth, his daughter from the marriage to Anne, required his subjects to swear an oath of loyalty to him as head of the state and head of the Church, and sealed the breach with Rome. It was the refusal of Thomas More and John Fisher to sign the Act of Succession which led to their executions in the Tower of London as traitors, both men recognized as martyrs. The breach with the Roman Catholic Church continued during the brief reign of Edward, Henry’s only son who was quite sickly. During this period, the liturgy was reformed and the first Book of Common Prayer issued. With the ascension of Mary Tudor to the Throne, whose husband was Philip of Spain, Roman Catholicism briefly returned to England. However, the ascension of her half-sister Elizabeth, upon Mary’s death, reserved the tide and Anglicanism, as we know it today, was born. During Elizabeth’s reign, Catholicism was outlawed and driven underground and the separation from Rome and denial of papal authority over the Church in England was solidified. The seeds were sown, however, in Henry’s refusal to accept the Church’s ruling and his decision to marry Anne Boylen, and four subsequent women. To justify his actions, he made himself head of the Church in his own country, authorizing and validating each of his successive marriages. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:48

Question: Could you please tell me if our local parish priests are ever evaluated by their congregations? If so, is it done in every parish?

Answer: The Pastors are evaluated about every five years. This is accomplished through the office of the Vicar for Clergy. Very Rev. Frederick P Annie Vicar for Clergy Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:48

Question: I am aware of our obligation to financially contribute to the Church. My question is: Where does the money that is collected at each Mass go? Does it stay in the parish to be spent according to the Pastor’s desire or does it go to the Bishop, for his distribution?

Answer: Church collections are, of course, amassed locally and are to be employed locally for God’s people. The allocation of funds that are given for offertory and other special gifts to the church are used in the discretion of the parish pastor. Church law only gives general instruction on how funds can be used. Canon 1260 says that “the Church has an innate right to require from the Christian faithful those things which are necessary for the purposes proper to it.” Funds from the parish go to the Bishop and/or the Diocese primarily in two manners: Special collections and Diocesan taxes. Special collections may be taken for specific causes approved by the local Bishop, such as the Campaign for Human Development, Retirement Fund for Religious, Catholic Communications, the Catholic University of America, etc., are just a few that are approved in this Diocese. Parishioners are encouraged to support these collections as generously as possible. Special collections are counted at local parishes and checks are then sent within a week or two to the Diocese, where all checks are deposited then assets dispatched to only the special cause supported by the collection. To do otherwise would not satisfy church or natural law. Regarding taxes, Canon 1263 gives a Bishop the opportunity to impose a moderate tax that support the needs of the Diocese. In the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, we have a very low “Cathedraticum” or general diocesan tax, of 3% of a parishes assessable income. These funds help operate Chancery operations, including the Bishop’s and Chancellor’s offices, archives, tribunal and other administrative offices. We also have another 5% assessment on parishes that is used to fund a priest’s retirement fund. This total 8% tax is moderate in comparison of other Dioceses, where total taxes of 12-16 percent are not out of the ordinary. Bryan Minor Director of Stewardship and Development Executive Director, W.Va Catholic Foundation Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:47

Question: What does Pastoral Meditation, Invocation, and benediction mean?

Answer: A: An “Invocation” is a prayer offered at the beginning of a service, public event, or academic gathering, called so because God is invoked (called upon) to oversee the event and bless its proceedings. A “Benediction” (literally, from Latin, “to speak well of”) is a prayer offered at the end of a service, public event, or academic gathering in which the leader of prayer blesses the people gathered and dismisses in God’s name and into God’s service. A “Pastoral Meditation” is preaching not performed by a priest or not done during the Mass (i.e., not a homily), in which the preacher offers some reflection on the word of God, on some matter of faith or morals, or on the event being celebrated with the purpose of having a direct connection to the lives of the hearers and encouraging them to holiness. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:47

Question: Has the Bishop issued an official statement regarding the abortion issue through this website? If so, could you direct me to that location?

Answer: Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt has not issued an official statement of his own with regard to abortion in Election 2000. However, he has adopted the position of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and does encourage all men and women of good will to vote, to vote with their correctly informed conscience, and to vote for life. The position of the Roman Catholic Church on the right to life of all innocent persons is extremely clear. Citizens who are looking for information on this and similar issues are encouraged to visit the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website (www.nccbuscc.org) or the West Virginians for Life website (www.labs.net/wvforlife), the latter of which contains information on voting records and information on local candidates. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:47

Question: What was the name of the Pope who failed to grant King Henry VIII’s divorce?

Answer: King Henry VIII Tudor of England sought to have his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon declared null and void due to the impediment of affinity during the reign of Pope Clement VII (a biography of Clement is available at the following site: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04024a.htm). I would like to note a few things here, in response to the wording of the question. First and foremost, the King’s request was unusual in that he, and his father Henry VII with King Ferdinand of Aragon’s assistance, had requested a papal dispensation from Pope Julius II to allow Henry VIII to marry Catherine of Aragon, because she had previously been married to his brother Prince Arthur of Wales, who had died at a tender age. All the parties to the request, included both fathers, testified that this previous marriage had never been consummated, a not so unusual occurrence at that day and age. Therefore, there was no real impediment of affinity (a relationship arising from marriage, based on the Mosaic law in Leviticus and Deuteronomy). However, the two kings, concerned about the legitimacy of heirs and the stability of their respective thrones and new alliance (especially against France), asked for the dispensation as a precaution. It was granted after due investigation and assurance of young Henry’s desire to take Catherine as his wife. Henry waited more than a dozen years to develop any qualms of conscience and this only after Catherine bore him only Mary Tudor (no male heirs, though he had a bastard son – Hugh Fitzroy – during the marriage) and after he had begun a long affair with Anne Boleyn. Second, the Holy See conducted a very long investigation into the proposed nullity of the marriage both at Rome and in England. In response to Cardinal Wolsey’s request, Pope Clement VII sent Cardinal Campeggio as his legate to England for the sole purpose of convening a Tribunal, of which Wolsey was a member, and hearing the arguments proposed both by the King himself and by Queen Catherine. In the end, the Tribunal found no reason to call into question Pope Julius II’s original dispensation and no reason in law to permit a decree of nullity. Pope Clement, in allowing the establishment of a legatine Court in England and reviewing the question a total of three times made unprecedented concession to Henry, largely due to Henry’s previous reputation as a champion of the Church against protestants and because of the importance that the Kingdom played in Europe. Third and finally, the request for an annulment does not entitle on to an annulment. In fact, the basic rule of the Church is that a marriage is presumed valid until it has been proved with moral certitude to be invalid. In other words, marriage enjoys the favour of the law (cf., The Code of Canon Law, canon 1060). Henry, and his counselors, failed to prove their case. This failure is perhaps why Cardinal Wolsey died in disfavour. But, truth be told, there appears no reason that Henry should have prevailed; in reality, he wanted a divorce and nothing more. The Church held to Her belief and the teaching of Christ that divorce is not permitted, even for the King. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:46

Question: [I] am updating some statistics. What is the latest figure you have for the number of Roman Catholics in the state and when was that figure compiled? The last figure I had was for 1998 and was 98,224. Thank you.

Answer: According to the 2000 edition of The Official Catholic Directory, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has a total Catholic population of 103,069. Bryan Minor Director of Stewardship and Development Executive Director, W.Va Catholic Foundation Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:46

Question: Why was January 1, 2001 not a Holy Day of Obligation? The excuses that we have been given are nothing but lame excuses for laziness. If we expect to be a Church known for its faith then how can we start canceling church services during the Christmas season. You already took away Epiphany. What’s next, optional Mass on Christmas? Even worse, it appears you have encouraged the local priests not to say Mass on these Non-obligatory Holy Days. Last night I passed a very rural Church of Christ at 7:00 p.m. on New Year’s eve. 0 Degree weather, snow, and the parking lot was overflowing with cars. Today, I went to my local Church for a supposedly scheduled Mass. It had been canceled because Mass attendance was low on Sunday. Not even a note or a sign for the Out-of-town visitor or the person inquiring who might become a priest someday. No wonder vocations are hurting. No one aspires to join a “LAZY” church.

Answer: First, let me answer you principal question about the Solemnity of Mary, Mother God which was not celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation this year in the Dioceses of the United States. Then, I would like to address a few words to the larger issue you raise. The Solemnity of Mary, Mother God is celebrated as one of six Holy Days of Obligation in the Dioceses of the United States (they are, Mary, Mother of God [January 1], Ascension Thursday, the Assumption [August 15], All Saints Day [November 1], the Immaculate Conception [December 8], and Christmas [December 25]). In 1991, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCC, exercising the authority given it at canon 1246§2 of The Code of Canon Law, suppressed the obligation to attend Mass on January 1, August 15, or November 1 when these days fall on a Monday or a Saturday. The Decree that the NCCB promulgated read: “On December 13, 1991 the members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States of America made the following general decree concerning holy days of obligation for Latin rite Catholics: “In addition to Sunday, the days to be observed as holy days of obligation in the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States of America, in conformity with canon 1246, are as follows: “January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension; August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; November 1, the solemnity of All Saints; December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception; December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. “Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated. “This decree of the Conference of Bishops was approved and confirmed by the Apostolic See by a decree of the Congregation for Bishops (Prot. N. 296/84), signed by Bernardin Cardinal Gantin, prefect of the Congregation, and dated July 4, 1992.” So, the short answer is that January 1 was a Holy Day of Obligation but that the Bishops of the Unites States, with Roman approval, suppressed the obligation in this particular year because the day fell on a Monday, in light of the pastoral circumstances which arise when Holy Days of Obligation fall on that particular day of the week. I would like to note that the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston does encourage parish priests to celebrate the Mass on days when the obligation to attend has been suppressed. In a letter to the priests of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston sent just before the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent, 2000, Bishop Schmitt wrote: “On January 1, the Church observes the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Although this Solemnity is designated as a holy day of obligation, the faithful are dispensed from the obligation this year because the Solemnity falls on a Monday. However, the faithful should be encouraged to participate in the celebration of the Mass and the parish schedule of Masses for the Solemnity should encourage their participation. I further grant to the parishes of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston the faculty to celebrate the Mass for Peace on this Solemnity, in union with Pope John Paul II (see Masses and Prayers for Various Needs, #22).” As to the larger issue you raise, I would like to note first that throughout the Catholic world there is a legitimate diversity of practice with regard to Holy Days of Obligation. In the universal Church and at Rome itself, there are, in fact, 10 Holy Days of Obligation. This is spelled out in The Code of Canon Law: “Can. 1246 §1 The Lord’s Day, on which the paschal mystery is celebrated, is by apostolic tradition to be observed in the universal Church as the primary holyday of obligation. In the same way the following holydays are to be observed: the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the feast of Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, the feast of St Joseph, the feast of the Apostles SS Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints.” Very few countries observe all ten (10) Holy Days of Obligation; not even the nation of Italy does. While I will be happy to stand corrected, I think that the State of the City of the Vatican is among the very few modern states that recognizes all ten and celebrates them as a days of obligation regardless of the day of the week on which they fall. In other cases, the Bishops’ Conferences of the various nations and territories have the power, according to paragraph 2 of the same canon, to adjust the observance of Holy Days. The canon states: “§2 However, the Episcopal Conference may, with the prior approval of the Apostolic See, suppress certain holydays of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.” This is how the United States of America has celebrated only six holy days of Obligation since 1983 (and, indeed, before that time). Our neighbor to the north (Canada, O Canada), for example, celebrates no holy days of obligation, with the days either suppressed or transferred to the nearest Sunday. I should warn you that in the Dioceses of the United States there is a new ruling with regard to the celebration of the Ascension of Our Lord. The NCCB promulgated the following decree in August, 1999: “In accord with the provision of canon 1246§2 of the Code of Canon Law, which states: “… the conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday with prior approval of the Apostolic See,” the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States decrees that the Ecclesiastical Provinces of the United States may transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter to the Seventh Sunday of Easter according to the following procedure. “The decision of each Ecclesiastical Province to transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension is to be made by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the bishops of the respective Ecclesiastical Province. The decision of the Ecclesiastical Province should be communicated to the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and to the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. “This decree was approved by His Holiness Pope John Paul II by a decree of the Congregation for Bishops signed by His Eminence Lucas Cardinal Moreira Neves, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and dated July 5, 1999.” The ecclesiastical provinces of the California, Oregon, and Washington have transferred this solemnity to the Seventh Sunday of Easter for a few years. The Province of Baltimore, in which the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is located has not made any decision to transfer the observance. So, part of the answer to the larger question is that the universal Church permits the transfer of these days to the nearest Sunday (which we in the United States do with the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ) or the suppression of the obligation (which we do with Epiphany, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, and the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul – as well as January 1, August 15, and November 1 when these days fall on a Monday or Saturday) because of the awareness of the different circumstances and cultural contexts in which the various nations and regions of the world. Whether the Bishop should suppress or transfer these days is a more difficult question and one, I can assure you, the Bishops themselves have carefully considered, researched, and even argued. In favor of the suppression or transfer is the desire not to make a further obligation among people, whose schedules are already very full and extra demands upon parish priests who are already worked very hard. In opposition is the desire to uphold a Catholic identity and the recognition of the doctrinal importance of these days. This debate will go on for some time and it is a matter worth debating. While you think about it, I would like to draw your attention to another fact about Holy Days of Obligation. The Code of Canon Law states,

“Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holydays of obligation, the faithful are obliged to assist at Mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the worship to be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the due relaxation of mind and body.” While Sabbath rest has really gone by the wayside in America, it is still part of keeping holy the Lord’s Day and an expectation of all Christians. Catholics are supposed to respect this Sabbath rest on Holy Days of Obligation as well. For this reason, the Chancery office in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston are closed on these days. If we take holy days of obligation seriously – heck, if we take Sunday seriously – should be we working on those days? This question too is part of the debate facing the Roman Catholic Church in the Dioceses of the United States of America

Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:46

Question: My question is on baptism. I am very familiar about the sacrament of baptism and the scriptures that talk about how families in households were baptized. I wanted to know how the Catholic Church feels about baptizing children when they are at the age of reason?

Answer: Baptism being so necessary to salvation, as Jesus Christ affirms (CCC, 1257), there is no requirement for Baptism except that the person be unbaptized. While adult Baptism is the common practice where the proclamation of the Gospel is still new, the practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church and is the usual practice in those places where the Gospel has been preached for some time. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole “households” received baptism, infants may also have been baptized. In other words, a person can be baptized at any stage or age in life. A child is held to reach the Age of Reason (that point at which one knows the difference between right and wrong in the objective sense) at 7 years of age. In the dioceses of the United States, a seven year old is to be enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children and, after be admitted to the catechumenate and properly prepare, such a child is not be baptized, confirmed, and receive First Holy Communion. In other words, from 7 years old and on, children who are not baptized should be prepared to receive all three Sacraments of Initiation in the same ceremony, as is the case with adults. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:45

Question: Do the people we choose to be godparents have to be a couple?

Answer: No. As you can see from other answers on this site, the only qualification to be a godparent is that one be a baptized and confirmed Catholic of at least 16 years of age, living a life which fits the office of godparent, free from ecclesiastical penalty, and not the actual parent of the child (see, Canon 874). While only one godparent is needed, many people name two persons to the role. If this is the case, there must be one of each sex (see, Canon 873). However, they need not be related to one another in any way. One cannot name more than two godparents. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:53

Question: My wife and I are practicing Catholics. However, my wife’s brother is not. He was born and raised Catholic but chooses not to attend Mass. He married a Baptist and they were married in a Protestant church. He now wants to Baptize their new born Catholic and the two Godparents who they chose are not Catholic. With regards to the above situation, I do not believe that this is in compliance with Canon Law. Are they allowed to Baptize their baby in the Catholic Church in this type of situation?

Answer: I must be perfectly frank with you and state that this is a hotly contested issue in some Church circles. The Code of Canon Law states: Can. 868 §1 For an infant to be baptised lawfully it is required: 1° that the parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent; 2° that there be a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this. The Code also says with regard to the parents: Can. 851 The celebration of baptism should be properly prepared. Accordingly: 2° the parents of a child who is to be baptised, and those who are to undertake the office of sponsers, are to be suitably instructed on the meaning of this sacrament and the obligations attaching to it. The parish priest is to see to it that either he or others duly prepare the parents, by means of pastoral advice and indeed by prayer together; a number of families might be brought together for this purpose and, where possible, each family visited. In this view of these canons, it can be rightly held that the parents should be at least some what active in their faith and that they promise to raise the child in the practice of the faith by actually practicing it themselves. And if they are not going to Church, some other family member takes the child to Church each and every Sunday and provides the catechesis that the child should be receiving from his or her parents. At the same time, there are those who would say that the child should not be held responsible for his or her parents faults and should be baptized even if the parents don’t practice the faith, taking the parents request for baptism and the practice of the faith as the founded hope sought for in Canon 868. So, what is my advice. Tell them to go see a parish priest and talk with him about it. Go with your brother if he feels uncomfortable. Know that the priest probably will ask them to attend the course and probably will invite them to return to Mass and may even be challenging about it. However, faith is so important a matter that we should be challenging about it! Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:54

Question: I need to know more about stigmata because I am doing a research paper on it. I have looked all over the web for information and have found little. There are no books in my high school library, and my priest gave me three books with little bits of information in it. I still need more though.

Answer: I would suggest a book by Michael Freze entitled They Bore the Wounds of Christ: The Mystery of the Sacred Stigmata as a good explanation of the stigmata and the life of stigmatics. Also, there are a number of books written about Padre Pio, recently beatified, who is perhaps the most famous stigmatic of the 20th Century. In addition, the following is the reprint of an article taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia (c. 1912) and can be found at http://newadvent.org/cathen/14294b.htm. The article states: Mystical Stigmata To decide merely the facts without deciding whether or not they may be explained by supernatural causes, history tells us that many ecstatics bear on hands, feet, side, or brow the marks of the Passion of Christ with corresponding and intense sufferings. These are called visible stigmata. Others only have the sufferings, without any outward marks, and these phenomena are called invisible stigmata. I. FACTS Their existence is so well established historically that, as a general thing, they are no longer disputed by unbelievers, who now seek only to explain them naturally. Thus a free-thinking physician, Dr. Dumas, professor of religious psychology at the Sorbonne, clearly admits the facts (Revue des Deux Mondes, 1 May, 1907), as does also Dr. Pierre Janet (Bulletin de l’Institut psychologique international, Paris, July, 1901). St. Catherine of Siena at first had visible stigmata but through humility she asked that they might be made invisible, and her prayer was heard. This was also the case with St. Catherine de’ Ricci, a Florentine Dominican of the sixteenth century, and with several other stigmatics. The sufferings may be considered the essential part of visible stigmata; the substance of this grace consists of pity for Christ, participation in His sufferings, sorrows, and for the same end–the expiation of the sins unceasingly committed in the world. If the sufferings were absent, the wounds would be but an empty symbol, theatrical representation, conducing to pride. If the stigmata really come from God, it would be unworthy of His wisdom to participate in such futility, and to do so by a miracle. But this trial is far from being the only one which the saints have to endure: “The life of stigmatics,” says Dr. Imbert, “is but a long series of sorrows which arise from the Divine malady of the stigmata and end only in death: (op. cit. infra, II, x). It seems historically certain that ecstatics alone bear the stigmata; moreover, they have visions which correspond to their rôle of co-sufferers, beholding from time to time the blood-stained scenes of the Passion. With many stigmatics these apparitions were periodical, e.g., St. Catherine de’ Ricci, whose ecstasies of the Passion began when she was twenty (1542), and the Bull of her canonization states that for twelve years they recurred with minute regularity. The ecstasy lasted exactly twenty-eight hours, from Thursday noon till Friday afternoon at four o’clock, the only interruption being for the saint to receive Holy Communion. Catherine conversed aloud, as if enacting a drama. This drama was divided into about seventeen scenes. On coming out of the ecstasy the saint’s limbs were covered with wounds produced by whips, cords etc. Dr. Imbert has attempted to count the number of stigmatics, with the following results: 1. None are known prior to the thirteenth century. The first mentioned is St. Francis of Assisi, in whom the stigmata were of a character never seen subsequently; in the wounds of feet and hands were excrescences of flesh representing nails, those on one side having round back heads, those on the other having rather long points, which bent back and grasped the skin. The saint’s humility could not prevent a great many of his brethren beholding with their own eyes the existence of these wonderful wounds during his lifetime as well as after his death. The fact is attested by a number of contemporary historians, and the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis is kept on 17 September. 2. Dr. Imbert counts 321 stigmatics in whom there is every reason to believe in a Divine action. He believes that others would be found by consulting the libraries of Germany, Spain, and Italy. In this list there are 41 men. 3. There are 62 saints or blessed of both sexes of whom the best known (numbering twenty-six) were:

  • St. Francis of Assisi (1186-1226);
  • St. Lutgarde (1182-1246), a Cistercian;
  • St. Margaret of Cortona (1247-97);
  • St. Gertrude (1256-1302), a Benedictine;
  • St. Clare of Montefalco (1268-1308), an Augustinian;
  • Bl. Angela of Foligno (d. 1309), Franciscan tertiary;
  • St. Catherine of Siena (1347-80), Dominican tertiary;
  • St. Lidwine (1380-1433);
  • St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440);
  • St. Colette (1380-1447), Franciscan;
  • St. Rita of Cassia (1386-1456), Augustinian;
  • Bl. Osanna of Mantua (1499-1505), Dominican tertiary;
  • St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510), Franciscan tertiary;
  • Bl. Baptista Varani (1458-1524), Poor Clare;
  • Bl. Lucy of Narni (1476-1547), Dominican tertiary;
  • Bl. Catherine of Racconigi (1486-1547), Dominican;
  • St. John of God (1495-1550), founder of the Order of Charity;
  • St. Catherine de’ Ricci (1522-89), Dominican; * St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi (1566-1607), Carmelite;
  • Bl. Marie de l’Incarnation (1566-1618), Carmelite;
  • Bl. Mary Anne of Jesus (1557-1620), Franciscan tertiary;
  • Bl. Carlo of Sezze (d. 1670), Franciscan;
  • Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-90), Visitandine (who had only the crown of thorns);
  • St. Veronica Giuliani (1600-1727), Capuchiness;
  • St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds (1715-91), Franciscan tertiary. 4. There were 20 stigmatics in the nineteenth century. The most famous were:
  • Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), Augustinian;
  • Elizabeth Canori Mora (1774-1825), Trinitarian tertiary;
  • Anna Maria Taïgi (1769-1837);
  • Maria Dominica Lazzari (1815-48);
  • Marie de Moerl (1812-68) and Louise Lateau (1850-83), Franciscan tertiaries.

Of these, Marie de Moerl spent her life at Kaltern, Tyrol (1812-68). At the age of twenty she became an ecstatic, and ecstasy was her habitual condition for the remaining thirty-five years of her life. She emerged from it only at the command, sometimes only mental, of the Franciscan who was her director, and to attend to the affairs of her house, which sheltered a large family. Her ordinary attitude was kneeling on her bed with hands crossed on her breast, and an expression of countenance which deeply impressed spectators. At twenty-two she received the stigmata. On Thursday evening and Friday these stigmata shed very clear blood, drop by drop, becoming dry on the other days. Thousands of persons saw Marie de Moerl, among them Görres (who describes his visit in his “Mystik”, II, xx), Wiseman, and Lord Shrewsbury, who wrote a defence of the ecstatic in his letters published by “The Morning Herald” and “The Tablet” (cf. Boré, op. cit. infra). Louise Lateau spent her life in the village of Bois d’Haine, Belgium (1850-83). The graces she received were disputed even by some Catholics, who as a general thing relied on incomplete or erroneous information, as has been established by Canon Thiery (“Examen de ce qui concerne Bois d’Haine”, Louvain, 1907). At sixteen she devoted herself to nursing the cholera victims of her parish, who were abandoned by most of the inhabitants. Within a month she nursed ten, buried them, and in more than one instance bore them to the cemetery. At eighteen she became an ecstatic and stigmatic, which did not prevent her supporting her family by working as a seamstress. Numerous physicians witnessed her painful Friday ecstasies and established the fact that for twelve years she took no nourishment save weekly communion. For drink she was satisfied with three or four glasses of water a week. She never slept, but passed her nights in contemplation and prayer, kneeling at the foot of her bed. II. EXPLANATIONS The facts having been set forth, it remains to state the explanations that have been offered. Some physiologists, both Catholics and Free-thinkers, have maintained that the wounds might be produced in a purely natural manner by the sole action of the imagination coupled with lively emotions. The person being keenly impressed by the sufferings of the Saviour and penetrated by a great love, this preoccupation acts on her or him physically, reproducing the wounds of Christ. This would in no wise diminish his or her merit in accepting the trial, but the immediate cause of the phenomena would not be supernatural. We shall not attempt to solve this question. Physiological science does not appear to be far enough advanced to admit a definite solution, and the writer of this article adopts the intermediate position, which seems to him unassailable, that of showing that the arguments in favor of natural explanations are illusory. They are sometimes arbitrary hypotheses, being equivalent to mere assertions, sometimes arguments based exaggerated or misinterpreted facts. But if the progress of medical sciences and psycho-physiology should present serious objections, it must be remembered that neither religion or mysticism is dependent on the solution of these questions, and that in processes of canonization stigmata do not count as incontestable miracles. No one has ever claimed that imagination could produce wounds in a normal subject; it is true that this faculty can act slightly on the body, as Benedict XIV said, it may accelerate or retard the nerve-currents, but there is no instance of its action on the tissues (De canoniz., III, xxxiii, n. 31). But with regard to persons in an abnormal condition, such as ecstasy or hypnosis, the question is more difficult; and, despite numerous attempts, hypnotism has not produced very clear results. At most, and in exceedingly rare cases, it has induced exudations or a sweat more or less coloured, but this is a very imperfect imitation. Moreover, no explanation has been offered of three circumstances presented by the stigmata of the saints: 1. Physicians do not succeed in curing these wounds with remedies. 2. On the other hand, unlike natural wounds of a certain duration, those of stigmatics do not give forth a fetid odour. To this there is known but one exception: St. Rita of Cassia had received on her brow a supernatural wound produced by a thorn detached from the crown of the crucifix. Though this emitted an unbearable odour, there was never any suppuration or morbid alteration of the tissues. 3. Sometimes these wounds give forth perfumes, for example those of Juana of the Cross, Franciscan prioress of Toledo, and Bl. Lucy of Narni. To sum up, there is only one means of proving scientifically that the imagination, that is auto-suggestion, may produce stigmata: instead of hypothesis, analogous facts in the natural order must be produced, namely wounds produced apart from a religious idea. This had not been done. With regard to the flow of blood it has been objected that there have been bloody sweats, but Dr. Lefebvre, professor of medicine at Louvain, has replied that such cases as have been examined by physicians were not due to a moral cause, but to a specific malady. Moreover, it has often been proved by the microscope that the red liquid which oozes forth is not blood; its colour is due to a particular substance, and it does not proceed from a wound, but is due, like sweat, to a dilatation of the pores of the skin. But it may be objected that we unduly minimize the power of the imagination, since, joined to an emotion, it can produce sweat; and as the mere idea of having an acid bon-bon in the mouth produces abundant saliva, so, too, the nerves acted upon by the imagination might produce the emission of a liquid and this liquid might be blood. The answer is that in the instances mentioned there are glands (sudoriparous and salivary) which in the normal state emit a special liquid, and it is easy to understand that the imagination may bring about this secretion; but the nerves adjacent to the skin do not terminate in a gland emitting blood, and without such an organ they are powerless to produce the effects in question. What has been said of the stigmatic wounds applies also to the sufferings. There is not a single experimental proof that imagination could produce them, especially in violent forms. Another explanation of these phenomena is that the patients produce the wounds either fraudulently or during attacks of somnambulism, unconsciously. But physicians have always taken measures to avoid these sources of error, proceeding with great strictness, particularly in modern times. Sometimes the patient has been watched night and day, sometimes the limbs have been enveloped in sealed bandages. Mr. Pierre Janet placed on one foot of a stigmatic a copper shoe with a window in it through which the development of the wound might be watched, while it was impossible for anyone to touch it (op. cit. supra). AUG. POULAIN Transcribed by William G. Bilton, Ph.D. In memory of the Most Rev. Leo T. Maher Bishop of Santa Rosa and San Diego, California The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV Copyright (c) 1912 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright (c) 1999 by Kevin Knight Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:57

Question: What year was the book of Revelations written, and by whom?

Answer: As with most books of The Bible, it is very difficult to identify and exact author or an exact date for The Book of Revelation (also called The Apocalypse). In the ancient world and, apparently, especially with biblical writings, the issue of authorship was not as important as the content of the work in determining its orthodoxy and acceptance as a work containing some part of Divine revelation. For example, the first four books of the New Testament are named according to the evangelists (and apostles in two cases) who wrote them. However, there are several apocryphal (false or Gnostic) gospels which were not accepted into the New Testament even though their authorship was ascribed to apostles, e.g. James and Thomas. These books were excluded because parts of them clearly contained statements and teaching totally contrary to the Christian message or contradictory to the early Christian community’s understanding of Christ. However, tradition has often assigned authorship to books of The Bible. In the Old Testament, the first four books were attributed to Moses (a difficulty since one of these books describes Moses death and events following it). In the New Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews was, for a time, ascribed to Saint Paul, though even medieval scholarship seriously doubted this. So, ascription of authorship needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Be that as it may, the writer of The Apocalypse calls himself John (1: 1, 4, 9; 22:8) and states that he is writing from the island of Patmos, where he is a prisoner because of his proclamation of the Gospel (1:9). Patmos, a small island in the Aegean Sea off the south-western coast of modern day Turkey, was a penal colony in the ancient Roman Empire. Because of the name and the similarity in vocabulary and imagery and symbol with the Fourth Gospel (particularly the use of “Lamb of God” and the light/darkness contrast), some Fathers of the Church linked The Apocalypse and the Gospel to John, the son of Zebedee and beloved disciple of the Lord. Popular tradition seems to have upheld this connection. The Fathers of the Church Justin, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Hippolytus all agree that this work was written by John the Apostle. The Fathers Denis of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, and John Chrysostom deny this connection. Modern scholarship also seems to lean away from the connection of this work directly to the writer of the Fourth Gospel. As regards a date for the work, The Apocalypse makes very clear reference to events which occurred during the persecution of Christian toward the end of the reign of the Emperor Domitian (81- 96). Since these events are presented as occurring at the time of the writing and it is directly to the persecuted that the author writes, it appears that the work was at least initially written around 93-96, although some editing may have be done later. This date would make this the last book of The New Testament to have been written. The object is raised that John the Apostle would have been, literally, ancient by the time of the writing of this book. Pious tradition has long held that John was the last of the Apostle and that he alone avoided martyrdom, avoiding several attempts on his life, one in particular by snake venom placed in a chalice from which he was to drink. Pious tradition has also held that he (and Thomas) was quite young when called by Jesus, perhaps merely in his early teens. This would make it not altogether impossible for him to have written this work. In any case, one should remember that while the human authors of the inspired books of the Bible “are real authors”, their work was inspired and lead by the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit kept their work free from error as regards those matters which touch on faith and salvation, and that the purpose of these inspired works is to impart faith to us. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:57

Question: Can my mother, my second child’s grandmother, be my child’s godmother as well? Is there any prohibition on who can be a godparent?

Answer: §1 To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must: 1° be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it; 2° be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made; 3° be a catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken; 4° not labor under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared; 5° not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptized. §2 A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community may be admitted only in company with a catholic sponsor, and then simply as a witness to the baptism. You should check with your parish priest, as some parishes and dioceses have additional requirements, such as attendance at a educational or training course for parents and godparents or the presentation of letters from the sponsor’s parish priest to state that the sponsor is a practicing Catholic. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:57

Question: Is there a religion that is more based on the Devil’s Advocate and a neutral religion rather then believing in good and evil?

Answer: I am sorry to say that I do not really understand your question. But I though I would offer a brief reflect on why Catholic believe in the existence of Good and Evil and see that truly human actions (that is action which one chooses with full knowledge and free consent of the will) have a moral quality to them and are not merely ‘neutral’ in value. As The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “God is infinitely good and all His works are good” (CCC, 385). Even the ancient Greek philosophers understood that God is the Good, the True, and the Beautiful; theologians often refer to God as the Summum Bonum, that is “the Greatest Good.” Our faith in God, who is Creator of the world and wills that all men and women come to the knowledge of the Truth and be saved, tells us that He is Good. Since creation is a reflection of God, it too is good. And since mankind has been created in the image and likeness of God, mankind is good. Life does not have a neutral value. At the same time, even The Catechism recognizes that “every man experiences evil around him and within himself” (CCC, 1606). That there is evil in the world, physical and moral, cannot be denied by any human being. The Catechism goes on to teach: “no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? ‘I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution’, said St. Augustine, and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For ‘the mystery of lawlessness’ is clarified only in the light of the ‘mystery of our religion’. The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace.259 We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror. “386 Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity’s rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history. “387 Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind’s origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.” In other words, evil, which is the result of sin, has come into the world through man’s own disobedience to the will of God. Christians call this ‘The Fall” and recognize that since ‘The Fall’ all men and women are borne into a state of separation from God from which we are incapable of saving ourselves. But God can save us from sin, from the evil it brings into the world, and from death itself and has done so in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord. Jesus Christ holds out to all men and women the real possibility of salvation and achievement of perfection, calling us all to “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” At the same time, Christians also believe that just as God is absolute perfection and the Greatest Good, there does exist also a personification of evil, known by many names. Again, The Catechism: “391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called ‘Satan’ or the ‘devil’. The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: ‘The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.’ “392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. This ‘fall’ consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter’s words to our first parents: ‘You will be like God.’ The devil ‘has sinned from the beginning’; he is ‘a liar and the father of lies’ “393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable. ‘There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.’ While all persons should have a legitimate fear of the Satan and a respect for His nefarious influence upon us, at the same time, there is no cause of despair. Because we know, as believers, that Good has already been victorious over Evil upon the Cross and that at the end, the ultimate triumph of Good will be made known to all. The Catechism clearly teaches the limited power of Satan:

“395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries – of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature- to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but ‘we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him’.”

I hope that this provides some answer to the question you asked. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:57

Question: I hope you can help me for I am very concerned. My sister constantly claims to see/smell ghosts. She claims to see/smell deceased family members and non-family members in her home and at places of employment. I am very concerned for her, for I do not know if she might have a psychological problem or maybe that her sightings/smellings for real. Please advise, and if possible could you direct me to other resources?

Answer: A: Right off the top, let me deal with one particular issue: the existence of ghosts. Ghosts are popularly understood to be the spirits of deceased persons who linger about in this world, sometimes causing mischief (poltergeists) and other times merely inhabiting a particular place for one reason or another. Defined as such, the teaching of the Church does not admit the existence of ghosts. Pope Benedict XIV, in his encyclical Benedictus Deus, states that upon death, the human soul experiences the particular judgment and is, form there, consigned to Heaven, Purgatory (on the way to Heaven), or Hell. The human soul never departs from Hell; from purgatory it is eventually released to the bliss of heaven. And while the saints have sometimes appeared to persons (e.g.: Joan of Arc have visions of Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine; Saint Margaret Mary Alocque had visions of Saint John), these visions were more internal visions of a nature in which the mind’s eye is given a glimpse of blessedness and shares more intimately and closely in the communion of saints for a moment. The wailing and tormented suffering of wandering spirits often associated with ghosts has no commonality with that of the vision of saints. And since there is no release from Hell and the release from Purgatory is into heaven, the existence of ghosts is ruled out. Lest someone say that purgatory takes place on earth, like the ghost of Marley in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, it seems to be in keeping with the doctrine of the Church that Purgatory is a real place distinct from this world and separate from the final destination of Heaven. So, if a person is seeing spirits (not those of saints), that person is either experiencing a delusion of some kind (whether physical or mental in origin) or is, in fact, seeing a demon. In this particular question, the mention of ‘smell’ so prominently is a interest. Smell is the sense most closely associated with memory, because smell is perhaps the oldest of the sense and that most closely connected with the animal part of the brain. It is a very typical occurrence to have a sensate experience of a person whose memory one is dwelling one – smelling the cologne, scent, or even (in my mother’s case) the pipe tobacco of a dead significant relative or even living person one misses very much. Smell does evoke reactions in us, hence the use of cologne and body washes, etc. Since it is so closely related to memory, yet animal in origin, weak and string smell associations can become connected to or assigned to the memories of persons or events in the distant past or even which one has only heard about. Sense memory is a very tricky thing … just think of your own mental picture of individuals and how fuzzy it can be around the edges when you try to imagine it. It may be that your sister is still mourning the death of one or more persons or that she is going through a traumatic point in her life right now (even one of physical change) and that this or similar upheaval has stirred up some latent sense memory. On the other hand, she may be having (I know this sounds nuts) an allergic reaction to allergens in the air which are provoking old memories long dormant. The later could be the case if these sense related events occur in the same places all the time and that environment has been recently disturbed. Your sister need not worry about it unless it beings to create difficulty or discomfort for her or those around her. In the meantime, it never hurts to encourage one to say a little pray when this event occurs, even as brief as “Jesus, Son of the living God, Have mercy on me”, to invoke divine protection. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:56

Question: My friend and I are very interested on the applicability of prayers to a point back in time. It is seemingly fiction, but maybe it is not. God is outside of space and time. We know that we can apply merits in union with the sacrifice on the cross and offer to God for our own actions in our lifetime. The question is can we pray for someone dying back in time to influence his actions positively in the ensuing eternal life after his death. God, knowing the past, present, and future, can impart grace, but will he? Does this violate any moral or physical law? After all, God does suspend physical laws when performing miracles or bilocations. We would be most interested in the answer. Thank you

Answer: This is an interesting question, basically asking can I pray now that God will grant a particular grace to a person at some point in the past (relative to me). Let me first affirm a couple of things in your question. God does stand complete outside time and space, though He is intimately involved in human lives. In theological language, we would say that God is utterly transcendent while also being immanent. But, God, being immaterial and eternal, is not subject to time. So the entire expanse of the time line, from the first moment of creation to the last moment of the world, is equally present to Him and for Him. Second, God, in miracles, does not truly suspend the laws of physics. Rather, God being the author of those laws is not subject to them (the difference between a monarch and a president): he who makes the laws can dispense from their observance while the law remains the law. (And, by the way, there is a big debate about bilocation – being in two places at the same time. It would seem this to be absolutely impossible for a physical being because of the law of non-contradiction. There is question whether true bilocation has occurred, or whether it is a form of projection of self or projection of the imagine of self but not real simultaneous presence in two places. It is may be the gift of agility – extremely quick movement – a property of the resurrected body which we will all enjoy at the end of time and which is shared with some now; like St. Philip in The Acts of the Apostles.) Those two points must be kept in mind, in answering your question, along with two other thing. First, God is an absolute respecter of free will, even if human beings are not. God may make a grace almost irresistible to the human being and may coax and cajole us all along the way to salvation, but at the end of the day, He respects our decisions. For this reason, Pope Benedict XIV stated in Benedictus Deus that the time of merit and dismerit ends with the death of the person. At death, our fate is decided by what “we did in the body, whether for good or for evil.” No amount of human prayer can change that. Second, God is entirely outside the line of time, but we are not. A human being in the future cannot pray for the action of another in the past to be changed. Christ did not even do this from the Cross (with the exception of the Immaculate Conception, the Father applying the graces of the crucifixion to Mary in anticipation; but not on Mary’s behalf, but on Christ’s behalf that He might be borne of a spotless virgin). Rather, “He descended among the dead” there to preach the Good News even among them and ransom those who had been shut out of Heaven since the Fall. Christ applied His merits to them at the moment He earned them, not by projection into the past. Further, it not for us to judge the past actions of others in a manner which connotes absolute moral certainty. For no man knows with certainty the state of another’s soul. Rather, we trust and hope that God will bring about the salvation of all and that, indeed, all things work together for the good in Christ. But as Catholics we do believe in a place called Purgatory, that place of transition after life where the dead who have not chosen damnation by their actions in the body but have not died in the state of perfection go to be cleansed of their remaining attachment to sin. For these people we do pray and do sacrifice, trusting that as members of one great body of Christ, we can assist them by our prayers and by our works. So, we do pray for the dead, that their load now might be lightened, not to change them in the past. And, by the way, if we pray for someone who is dead but has already achieved Heaven, we trust that God will apply the power and assistance of the prayer to another who is in need of it. This is why the Communion of Saints is such a wonderful grace to us all! Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:56

Question: Why in The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 12, verse 4 is the word Passover translated Easter?

Answer: Actually, your question brings up a very good and important point about translations. First, to your specific question. The New American Bible (both the old one and the one with the Revised New Testament), The New Revised Standard Verson, and The Jerusalem Bible all read Passover at the place you have cited. It does depend on translations, though “Passover” seems the most fitting word to use since the text is referring specifically to the Jewish festival of Passover (a several days long event, climaxing in the Passover day itself, the 14th day of the month of Nissan, on which the lambs were slain in the Temple) and not to the Christian celebration of Easter, the annual commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Next, two points should be made here. First, some translations are superior to others in terms of scholarly fidelity to the most ancient manuscripts. The New American Bible and The New Revised Standard Version both make this a principle goal. Other translations attempt to use more popular language to make the text easier to read and do not remain as faithful to the exact words of the manuscripts, such a The Living Bible. So, one should choose a translation carefully. Second, one should keep in mind that it is only the original language texts of The Bible which are inspired and not translations into modern languages. Translating is a human art subject to personal interpretation and, even at times, guess work. We trust that the translators are conscientious men and women dedicated to rendering the most accurate yet readable translation of the ancient manuscripts of the inspired text. Yet, their work itself is not inspired or Divinely protected from error. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:56

Question: Is a parishioner allowed to receive the host in their hand, carry it to the wine and dip it before consuming? Isn’t this called intincture? I thought only priests could do this.

Answer: This practice is called ‘intinction’ by some, but is not the practice of ‘intinction’ as approved and practiced by the Church. As described by the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (1970) and as practiced by the Church in tradition, intinction is the method of administering communion in which the minister present and places on the tongue of the communicant a host which has been dipped in the precious blood, saying, “The Body and Blood of Christ,” to which the communicant responds, “Amen.” In some places, it has become the practice for members of the faithful to receive the Body of Christ and then approach the minister of the Cup and have that minister dip the Host in the Chalice and present the intincted Host for communion. This is problematic in that the Host should be consumed immediately upon reception, after the affirmation “Amen” has been given and should not be carried to another place. Some may argue that the devote desire to receive under both species, while not wishing to receive directly from the Chalice, should outweigh concern about the transporting of the Host from place to place. However, the practice whereby the communicant receives the Host and then approaches the Chalice and intincts the Host and receives it is prohibited. One does not and cannot minister a sacrament, any sacrament, unto one’s self. Thus, I cannot baptize myself nor can I confirm myself. The priest does receive communion from himself, but this is because his reception is integral to the celebration of the Mass and no one else’s reception is. Part of the administration of Holy Communion is to receive the sacrament from the hands of another (an official minister of the Church, whether ordinary – priest or deacon – or extraordinary – acolyte or Eucharistic minister) as we have received salvation from the hand of Christ and to publicly exchange a profession of faith in the truth and effectiveness of the sacrament. Long story short, only an ordinary minister (and in some dioceses, an extraordinary minister) of communion may administer communion by intinction, in fact by any means at all. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:55

Question: Do both parents have to agree on an infants Godparents?

Answer: I would suggest the following: 1. Take into account the qualities and qualifications for god-parent. By Canon Law, you need at least one but no more than two. (If you have two, there should be one of each gender). The person must be a baptized and confirmed Catholic. In addition to these most basic legal requirements, the person should be a faithful Catholic, one who leads a moral life and believes the faith of the Church. 2. Remember, the godparent is supposed to assist the parents in bringing the child up in the practice of the faith. Parents should select a godparent based on the real ability to carry out this duty, not because it is “so-and-so’s turn” or because “you got to choose your sister last time” or because “we are friends”. Being a godparent is a serious duty, not a reward or empty honour. 3. Come up with a list of persons and narrow it down to one man and one woman you can agree on. Or, each of the parents choose one. If there are other children already baptized, the same godparents can be used for all the children of a family. 4. Talk about the issue with the parish priest rather than allow this joyful moment to undermine the marital unity. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:55

Question: I have an unusual situation. I am not Catholic but have decided to become Catholic because of a personal faith journey. I have never been baptized and was not raised Christian. Here is my problem. I was married to a baptized Catholic for 16 years. We were married in the church but the record of our marriage was never put on my ex husband’s baptismal certificate or recorded in the church. I am divorced from my ex husband and remarried to a non catholic and I am his second marriage. His first wife was a baptized catholic and married in the church for her first marriage but my present husband was her third marriage and it was a civil ceremony. I am encountering problems just becoming a Catholic. The local priest says that he can’t admit me into the church because of my first marriage and my second marriage. What can I do and why is everything so complicated? I am not asking to marry my second husband in the church, I am only trying to become a baptized Catholic. I have been reading the Bible and I’m sure that to become a Christian was not this complicated.

Answer: Your situation is not all that unusual; in fact, this kind of situation regularly occurs when people approach the Church with a desire to be baptized or received into full communion. First of all, allow me to affirm your desire to be baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. Second, Father’s concern has arise probably because you appeared a little later than he would have expected. You see, when it comes to adults who wish to be received into the Church, this is normally due at the Easter Vigil (celebrated the night before Easter Sunday), the person being baptized, confirmed, and receiving Holy Communion in one celebration. This is the end of a process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA, for short), a program and process which most parishes usually begin in August or September. So, you may have just shown up in the middle of the cycle. Or, Father may be concerned about the slight irregularity with you marital history. In any case, I would advise you to go back to Father, make an appointment to meet him (these things should not be discussed on the Church stoop just after Mass), and discuss the matter with him. Let him know you are happy to wait to Easter 2002 to be received into the Church, but that you want to get started on sorting out your marital history as soon as possible. Third: the marriages. If I understand your question correctly, your current spouse (let’s call him Agrippa) was married previously to Julia. Julia, a baptized Roman Catholic, was married twice before Agrippa, her first marriage being celebrated in the Church, but neither of her two subsequent marriages were (for apparently obvious reasons). Therefore, Agrippa’s marriage to Julia can be annulled on one of two grounds: Defect of Form (Julia and he did not observe canonical form of marriage – please see elsewhere on the question section of the site) or Prior Bond. Both of these are documentary cases, meaning that they rely primarily on documents. In both, Agrippa will need a copy of his marriage certificate and divorce decree for the marriage with Julia. For a defect of form, he will also need a copy of his own baptismal certificate issued from the Church of his baptism within the last six months. Your parish priest can help you with this. For the prior bond case, Agrippa would also need copies of marriage certificates for Julia’s previous marriages. Please have Agrippa see the parish priest to handle what should be a relatively easy matter. In the parish priest does not want to handle it, simply call the Tribunal of the Diocese you live in and they can give you the name and number of a priest to help you. When it comes to your own previous marriage there are a couple of unclear matters. You say that you were married in a Church but no notation was made to your previous husband’s baptismal certificate. Were you married in a Catholic Church? If not, did you and your former spouse (Antony, for sake of ease) receive permission to marry in another Church? If both answers are no, this to is a case of defect of form. If either answer is yes, than you should consider submitting either a formal annulment petition (a long form with numerous essay questions) or a request for a Petrine Privilege. The latter may not truly suit your case, given some of the circumstances involved and a formal annulment may be the course best suited to your situation. In any case, please see your parish priest to discuss the matter (take Agrippa with you) or, again, call the Tribunal and ask for the name of a priest. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:55

Question: My brother recently asked me to be the godfather of his newborn son. His church says that I need a certificate of eligibility. Can you please tell me what this certificate is and where would I obtain one?

Answer: Congratulations on being chosen as godparent! The certificate your brother’s parish priest wants is really a statement or a letter from your own parish priest saying that you are baptized and that you are a practical Catholic, i.e. a person who attends Sunday mass and frequently receives the sacraments. Some parishes have a form or certificate to use, others prepare a letter to be carried to the priest. In any case, all you need to do is see your own parish priest and ask for this letter. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:55

Question: What are the steps to formal excommunication? I know lay people can be excommunicated for abortion and homosexual activity, but what about those who just insist on being officially removed from church records as if they never were members. I need this information for a report.

Answer: Excommunication is a penalty imposed by the Church when a person has committed a crime. It is the penalty by which a person is excluded from the communion of the faithful, from the sacraments and the public acts of worship, for all offices, privileges, titles, or rights within the Church, until such time as the excommunication is lifted. In some cases, the penalty is imposed immediately with the commission of the crime (apostasy, heresy, or schism; desecration of the Blessed Sacrament; use of physical force against the pope; a priest who violates the seal of the Confessional; a bishop who ordains another bishop without the mandate of the pope; a priest who absolves an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment; procuring an abortion). In other cases, the penalty is imposed after an ecclesiastical trial. I should note that the commission of homosexual acts, though gravely disordered and objectively sinful, is not grounds for excommunication, either automatically or by sentence of a Church Court. Your question seems to relate to an individual who wishes to formally depart from the Church. While some individuals just stop coming to Mass or start going to another place of worship, though I hope they eventually return, it does happen at times that a person will ask to formally withdraw from the Church. Some denominations do require this, like the Jehovah Witness. In such a case, the person is asked to place their intention in writing and send that to the Diocesan Bishop. He should inform the person’s baptismal parish so that a notation could be placed in the baptismal register saying that the person departed the Church by a formal act. Such a person would no longer be bound by the ecclesiastical (Church-orginated) laws of the Church, such as the canonical form of marriage, Holy Days of Obligation, abstaining from meat on Fridays, but he or she would still be bound by Divine Law. And some might say that this act would be schism, “The withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (canon 751), which is punished by the penalty of excommunication immediately upon commission of the act. Good luck on your report. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:54

Question: Can Catholics attend Protestant Services?

Answer: Yes, Catholics may attend Protestant Services. In fact, there are many occasions on which it is appropriate to gather with our separated brothers and sisters in Christ and pray with them, such as at Thanksgiving or other civic gatherings. However, Catholics should be mindful of a couple of things. First, we should avoid any false ecumenism or appearance that there does not exist between us a real separation. While we can pray together, it is inappropriate for Catholics to receive sacraments for non-Catholic ministers. The Code of Canon Law says, “Can. 844 §1 Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments only to catholic members of Christ’s faithful, who equally may lawfully receive them only from catholic ministers, except as provided in §§2, 3 and 4 of this canon and in can. 861 §2. “§2 Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ’s faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a catholic minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid. ” As this canon makes clear, Catholics are to receive the sacraments only from Catholic ministers, unless it is a matter of true necessity or real spiritual need and usefulness. In that case, the Catholic may receive penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers of Churches in which these sacraments are valid. For all intents and purposes, only the Orthodox Churches have valid Eucharist because only they preserve valid apostolic succession and valid priestly ordination. So, if it is a Protestant or Episcopalian Church, you may pray with them but you make not partake of their communion. Second, Catholics should fulfill their Sunday obligation (and Holy Days of Obligation) in Catholic Churches. While reception of the Eucharist is not necessary to fulfill the Sunday obligation (mindful that Catholics are required by law to take Holy Communion at least once a year, and at that time between Easter and Pentecost – in the Dioceses of the United States, we have lengthened the time period somewhat), Catholics who are properly disposed ought to receive the Eucharist as part of the Sunday celebration and every Mass at which they assist. Moreover, the Sunday celebration is a reminder of the communal nature of our faith and ought to be celebrate with those with whom we hold the faith in common. Finally, the celebration of the Mass is also meant to be catechetical – to teach one something – so, especially on Sundays and Holy Days – one ought to attend a Catholic Church in order to receive hear the Word of God proclaimed according to the faith Christ has revealed and which the Church has sought to explain through the centuries. The bottom line, one can attend other Christian services and there certainly are times when this is appropriate. However, the regular celebration of one’s faith in a Catholic Church ought not to be interrupted, especially on Sundays and Holy Days. And Catholics should not partake in communion in other Churches, because we do not share a common faith in the Eucharist as the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:53

Question: I am in an interfaith marriage. I am a Catholic and my wife is a Congregationalist. We are seriously considering having children and are grappling with issue of which faith to raise our children. My wife is very appreciative of my desire to raise our kids as Catholics and the promise I made to raise our kids Catholic in order to have our marriage valid in the eyes of the church. Still, my wife and I would both like to baptize our children which pays respects to both faiths. My question is this, is there any possible christening/baptism ceremony in the Catholic church which would allow for my wife’s minister to be present at the ceremony and take some type of active role in it? I guess we are looking for the possibility of co-officiating the ceremony as was done at our wedding.

Answer: First of all, it is important to remember that The Catholic Church recognizes and respects the validity of all Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, using water (poured or by immersion). It would indeed be possible for your wife’s minister to take an active role in the celebration of the sacrament of Baptism for your child/children in the Roman Catholic Church. Although the priest or (Roman Catholic) deacon would actually pour the water (or immerse the baby) and pronounce the Trinitarian formula (“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”), and wound anoint the baby with the Oil of Chrism, the minister could be invited to proclaim one (or more) scripture readings and/or give a reflection. With prayers and best wishes, Marianne Engelmann, Director Office of Liturgical Practices Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:53

Question: I want to know who can get stigmata? Can any normal Christian get it?

Answer: Rather than explain the whole thing here, I have included the following link to an article from The Catholic Encyclopedia on the stigmata: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14294b.htm Please check that article out, as I think it will answer a number of questions for you. I will tell you this about the stigmatist the Church knows of. None are known prior to the thirteenth century. The first mentioned is St. Francis of Assisi, in whom the stigmata were of a character never seen subsequently; in the wounds of feet and hands were excrescences of flesh representing nails, those on one side having round back heads, those on the other having rather long points, which bent back and grasped the skin. The saint’s humility could not prevent a great many of his brethren beholding with their own eyes the existence of these wonderful wounds during his lifetime as well as after his death. The fact is attested by a number of contemporary historians, and the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis is kept on 17 September. Since the time of Saint Francis, one scholar has counted 321 stigmatics in whom there is every reason to believe in a Divine action. Many of these persons were ‘ordinary’ people, though they obviously possessed an extraordinary love for Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Among that number, there are 62 saints or blessed of both sexes of whom the best known (numbering twenty-six) were: St. Francis of Assisi (1186-1226); St. Lutgarde (1182-1246), a Cistercian; St. Margaret of Cortona (1247-97); St. Gertrude (1256-1302), a Benedictine; St. Clare of Montefalco (1268-1308), an Augustinian; Bl. Angela of Foligno (d. 1309), Franciscan tertiary; St. Catherine of Siena (1347-80), Dominican tertiary; St. Lidwine (1380-1433); St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440); St. Colette (1380-1447), Franciscan; St. Rita of Cassia (1386-1456), Augustinian; Bl. Osanna of Mantua (1499-1505), Dominican tertiary; St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510), Franciscan tertiary; Bl. Baptista Varani (1458-1524), Poor Clare; Bl. Lucy of Narni (1476-1547), Dominican tertiary; Bl. Catherine of Racconigi (1486-1547), Dominican; St. John of God (1495-1550), founder of the Order of Charity; St. Catherine de’ Ricci (1522-89), Dominican; St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi (1566-1607), Carmelite; Bl. Marie de l’Incarnation (1566-1618), Carmelite; Bl. Mary Anne of Jesus (1557-1620), Franciscan tertiary; Bl. Carlo of Sezze (d. 1670), Franciscan; St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-90), Visitandine (who had only the crown of thorns); St. Veronica Giuliani (1600-1727),Capuchiness; St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds (1715-91), Franciscan tertiary. here were 20 stigmatics in the nineteenth century. The most famous were: Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), Augustinian; Elizabeth Canori Mora (1774-1825), Trinitarian tertiary; Bl. Anna Maria Taïgi (1769-1837); Maria Dominica Lazzari (1815-48); Marie de Moerl (1812-68) and Louise Lateau (1850-83), Franciscan tertiaries. In the 20th century, Bl. Padre Pio has proved to be an outstanding and well-know example of stigmatists. If you wish to read more, I would direct your attention to the book, “They Bore the Wounds of Christ: The Mystery of the Sacred Stigmata” by Michael Freze. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:53

Question: Do you have to be catholic to be a godparent? Can the mother’s sister be a godparent?

Answer: Yes, the mother’s sister (the child’s aunt) can serve as the child’s godparent, provided that she meets the following criteria which are established by The Code of Canon Law at canon 874: “§1 To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must: 1° be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it; 2° be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made; 3° be a catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken; 4° not labor under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared; 5° not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptized.” The second paragraph of the same canon makes addresses the second part of your question. According to this paragraph, a baptized non-Christian can be serve as a Christian witness provided that there is a Catholic sponsor (godparent) as well. “§2 A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community may be admitted only in company with a catholic sponsor, and then simply as a witness to the baptism. You should check with your parish priest, as some parishes and dioceses have additional requirements, such as attendance at an educational or training course for parents and godparents or the presentation of letters from the sponsor’s parish priest to state that the sponsor is a practicing Catholic.” Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:52

Question: I want to know about the beliefs of telepathy in the world today.

Answer: While I cannot comment on other world religions and their doctrine regarding telepathy and other forms of extrasensory perception, nor the doctrine of other Christian denominations, I will be happy to say a few words based on Roman Catholic doctrine, based primarily on theological anthropology (that is, our understanding of human nature and humanity in light of humanity’s creation by God). The Church teaches that God created human beings with a specific human nature, having capacities and capabilities common to or at least possible for all human beings. These are natural gifts: reason, self-reflection, etc. Human beings also have, by the promise of God the Father and through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the ability to receive supernatural gifts; that is, gifts beyond or entirely above human nature. Among these supernatural gifts are grace, eternal life, etc. There are also, preternatural gifts; that is, gifts which are outside of general human nature but available to some human beings and running parallel to human nature. For example, extrasensory perception (gaining knowledge – but not Divine revelation – by a means other than by use of the five senses), telekinesis (the ability to move objects by mental power rather than physical power), various forms of empathetic influence, telepathy (the ability to sense the emotions or thoughts of those around one, based not on sensory observation but direct mental perception), in addition to gifts which amplify normal human gifts such as supra-agility, supra-sensitivity, etc. These gifts are given to individual human beings but not as a direct result of their human nature. Their purpose is not clearly known, though it is apparent that these gifts do in fact exist among human beings. When it comes to these gifts, the possessor should use them in accord with the same rules of morality that all person most use. They cannot and should not be used to harm another or to harm one’s self. Rather, they should be used to improve one’s self or to help others or to praise God Almighty. The gifts ought to be used in accord with the Ten Commandments. And, they should never be used to violate the privacy of another person or to negatively effect them. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:52

Question: My question may have more to do with etiquette than religion, but I’ll ask your opinion anyway. I want to baptize my newborn daughter. Since I have no brothers, I was wondering if there was a specific “pecking order” which I should follow. Should I select a brother -in – law, cousin or friend?

Answer: I would answer that there is a specific ‘pecking order’ and one quite different from the order you might suppose. It relates to the nature and duties of godparents. It has become a social convention to use the role of godparent has a way of honoring a friend or relative. However, the role of the godparent is really rather specific. During the Rite of Baptism, the priest or deacon asks, “Godparents, are you prepared to assist the parents of this child to raise him/her in the practice of the faith?” It is this question which you should keep in mind when choosing a godparent. The Code of Canon Law states the minimum requirements: “To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must: 1° be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it; 2° be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made; 3° be a catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken; 4° not labor under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared; 5° not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptized.” But, beyond the minimum requirements, I would suggest that you select the person whose own life makes it clear that he or she believes in Jesus Christ and in His Church, that he or she is a committed Christian, and that he or she would be able to offer real assistance to you as parents in raising your child and a real and effective model to the child of the Christian life. The role of godparent and its duties is lifelong and meant to assist the child in achieving life eternal. So choose the person who would best help your child live a truly Christian life, not the person that Miss Manners or Martha Stewart might select from the social register. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:52

Question: From observance, I have noticed that people are reluctant to approach the bishop. I will soon have a personal meeting. Can you tell me the proper way to address him? Do we still kiss his ring? I think the more people who know the proper etiquette, the less standoffish people will be.

Answer: In answer to your question, I would say that it depends where you are in the world. In southern European, South American, Asian, and African countries, the custom remains to address a Bishop as “Your Excellency”, even in speech, and to reverence his ring upon first meeting him. In North American, Northern Europe, and the member nations of the British Commonwealth, the practice has become to address a Bishop in speech as “Bishop” and to shake his hand. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:04

Question: Recently our parish priest “instructed” the congregation that the American Bishops no longer allow any form of reverence be given by the faithful as they receive Holy Communion. He specifically sited genuflecting or bowing just prior to receiving Holy Communion as inappropriate pious gestures that are no longer permitted by the American Bishops. Instead, a bowing to the alter after receiving Holy Communion should be given. When another parishioner approached Father after Mass about the Eucharistic reverence mentioned in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, he said that was no longer effective and was changed by the American Bishops. We have been taught to obey our parish priest (in matters not violating faith or morals or Church Doctrine) so we are (as is almost everyone) obeying his wishes. However, I am familiar with the GIRM guidelines issued in (1980 I believe) specifically requiring some form of proper reverence be given by the faithful prior to receiving Holy Communion. So that I am properly educated, I would like a clarification as to when these guidelines were changed by the American Bishops. If they have not been changed then I would like some evidence or official clarification that the American Bishops still consider the present rules, outlined in GIRM (1980) regarding reverence prior to receiving Holy Communion, to be effective.

Answer: As you can imagine, I have found it always preferable to give a general answer to these questions rather than to respond to very specific situations. Allow me to say, at the very beginning, that any answer provided should not be used ‘against’ the parish priest, who is charged with the duty of providing liturgical discipline in the parish entrusted to his care. That said, I would like to share an answer that Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt, bishop of this Diocese, gave in answer to an almost identical question. He wrote: “Indeed, The General Instruction to the Roman Missal does instruct that as the communicant approaches to receive, he or she is to ‘make the proper reverence.’ At no point, however, is the exact nature of the proper reverence defined or described. This in one of the many times where local expression and custom are allowed to interpret the meaning of the universal law. In some parts of the world, the proper reverence is understood to be making the sign of the cross, in other places, it is held to be a genuflection or a simple bowing of the head. In the dioceses of the United States, the bishops have not adopted a single form for this reverence. However, custom and decorum seem to indicate that the prayerful and solemn procession to receive the Blessed Sacrament is itself a proper reverence, particularly when combined with thoughtful preparation to partake in the Mass and the desire to receive the sacrament worthily. “In any case, The General Instruction does place stress on ‘uniformity in movement and posture’ so that the people will symbolically manifest the unity of faith they celebrate. Any reverence made by an individual during reception of the Blessed Sacrament must also seek to respect this uniformity and avoid disruption of the procession of the faithful to receive the sacrament.” I think that this should answer your question in its major points, along with the caveat that the GIRM has not been revised since its initial publication, nor have the American provisions passed by the US Bishops in the early 1970s. However, the Roman Missal itself, the basis for The Sacramentary, is currently under revision. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:03

Question: Since there is no canon law that forbids Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians from Holy Communion in the Roman Catholic Church, why do priests forbid them from receiving this sacrament?

Answer: Thank you for your question. First, for others who may read this response, it is important to clarify that Eastern (the popular) or Oriental (the more technical term) Orthodox Christians as those fellow Christian who, while maintaining priesthood, the sacramental system, and many of the same basic beliefs in common with the Roman Catholic Church, are not in union with Rome. The division, though having some theological aspects to it, is largely cultural and ecclesiological (concerned with Church structure and governance) and revolves mainly around the primacy of the Roman Pontiff over all other bishops, as the direct successor of Peter. In any case, Orthodox Christians like Roman Catholics hold and believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Not having experienced the theological period of Scholasticism, the Orthodox would not be likely to use a term such as “Transubstantiation”. However, they believe exactly as Catholics believe in regard to the Eucharist. So, where members of Christian (Protestant) denominations are not admitted to the Eucharist because they do not believe in the doctrine of Transubstantiation, this prohibition does not hold of members of Orthodoxy. And yet, sorry to say, members of Orthodoxy are not free permitted to receive communion in Roman Catholic Churches. As the National Conference of Catholic Bishops makes clear in its “Guidelines for Receiving Holy Communion” (to be found on the back of any missalette or at their web site www.usccnccb.org ), reception of communion is not merely a statement of personal belief, it is also a statement of communal faith. In receiving the Body of Christ, the person confesses membership in or union with the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world, indeed throughout time and space. But, the members of Orthodoxy are precisely not in this union or communion, an unfortunate circumstance and tragic human fault which has plagued both our Churches roughly since the dawn of this millennium. For them to be invited to receive communion in Catholic Churches as a matter of course would be to make a false statement about the nature of our relationship as it stands. And, there is a canon in the 1983 Code of Canon Law in this regard. Canon 844 reads: §1 Catholic ministers may licitly administer the sacraments to Catholic members of the Christian faithful only and, likewise, the latter may licitly receive the sacraments only from Catholic ministers, with due regard for §§2,3, and 4 of this canon and can. 861, §2. It is the word “only” (which I emphasized in the above text) which provides the canonical prohibition against knowingly giving the sacraments to persons who are not members of the Roman Catholic Church, unless other circumstances apply (Remember, the law prohibits the minister not the non-Catholic person, we only make laws for our own!). And, indeed, the law does recognize that other circumstance may arise wherein an Orthodox person may receive some of the sacraments from a Catholic minister. For the same Canon provides: §3 Catholic ministers may licitly administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to members of oriental churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they ask on their own and are properly disposed. This holds also for members of other churches, which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition as the oriental churches as far as these sacraments are concerned. The fourth paragraph of the Canon makes provisions for other Christians to receive these same sacraments, but with far greater restriction, requiring, among other things, that there be the danger of death or other grave necessity present. However, you can see from the law that while that is not a blanket invitation to Orthodox to receive these three sacraments from Catholic ministers, there is also the recognition that we believe the same with regard to them and that there may be situations wherein it would be appropriate to admit the person to the sacrament. The Canon places two conditions: (1) that the person ask for it on their own (i.e., that the minister not urge the person to it or invite the person, that the person’s desire to receive the sacrament here and now be spontaneous), and (2) that the person be properly disposed (i.e., be in such a moral and personal state as to be able to celebrate the sacrament worthily). The Canon leaves unsaid a rather important item, though one which is surely present within the overall thrust of the law: that there be some proportionate reason. Such as, the person’s desire to receive the grace of the sacrament right here and right now and the unavailability of an Orthodox priest to provide for that desire. So, all of that said, there is a law which prohibits a blanket invitation to Orthodox to receive the Eucharist in Catholic Churches. At the same time, there is a law which tells Catholic ministers to supply Orthodox Christians with the Eucharist if they seek it on their own and are properly disposed. As to why some priests forbid them from receiving the sacrament, I cannot answer. If you are thinking of a real situation, I would suggest talking with the priest. It may be that he is unfamiliar with this particular fine point of the law and thinks that Orthodox and Protestant Christians are to be treated the same regarding the reception of the Eucharist. It is a common misconception. I hope this answers your question. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:03

Question: The Catholic Church teaches that obedience of the Sabbath commandment requires rest on Sunday rather than Saturday thus the conclusion can only be that the definition of the Sabbath changed to Sunday and after reading the judgment of James in the first Jerusalem council [Acts 15] and of the actions taken by he and Paul in chapter 21, I ask that if Jewish Christians have the sanction and blessing to continue to observe the law which included Sabbath observance on Saturday, how could the Sabbath have changed without their being a contradiction?

Answer: As you point out, the very definition of Sabbath, and its requirement in the third commandment, is the last day of the week or the seventh day. In our Gregorian calendar, this day is Saturday. Jews, and the Seventh Day Adventists, continue to observe the Sabbath rest on Saturday, because that is the Sabbath. However, the majority of Christians now dedicate Sunday to the Lord, to praise of His Name, and to rest from labor, because Sunday is the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. In this way, Sunday is the fulfillment of the Sabbath. The Sabbath celebrated the creation of the world by God and the freedom of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. Sunday, fulfilling the Sabbath and called “The Lord’s Day”, celebrates the new creation that we have become in Christ and his recreation of the world, and marks our freedom from slavery to sin and death by Jesus’ emerging from the Tomb. About the relationship between the Lord’s Day and the Sabbath, The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “2174 Jesus rose from the dead ‘on the first day of the week.’ Because it is the ‘first day,’ the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the ‘eighth day’ following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday: “We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish Sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.” “2175. Sunday is expressly distinguished from the Sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the Sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:107 “Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.” Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:03

Question: Can a confirmed Catholic who has not practiced their faith for many many years be buried from the Church with a Mass of Christian Burial? I was told that if they had not practiced their faith, they could not be buried by the Church. Please clarify this for me.

Answer: The Code of Canon Law states: “Canon 1184 §1 Church funeral rites are to be denied to the following, unless they gave some signs of repentance before death: 1° notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics; 2° those who for anti-christian motives chose that their bodies be cremated; 3° other manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful. §2 If any doubt occurs, the local Ordinary is to be consulted and his judgement followed.” In the universal code of law, then, there is no prohibition against the Christian burial of a person who was baptized and catechized but did not practice the faith. Denial of Christian burial should take place in only the most limited of circumstances since it amounts to a public statement that the decedent was an impenitent reprobate for whom the Church holds out little hope. Such denial has taken place in the United States. In one case which I remember, the Archdiocese of Chicago refused a Mass of Christian Burial to a notorious mob figure who was found executed in a gang-style killing. However, most people do not fit into such extreme categories. The Code, by allowing any Christian and even catechumens (that is, people preparing for baptism but not yet baptized) to be buried with the Rites of the Church, does seem to encourage the broadest admission to the Mass of Christian burial. This is for three reasons. First, the Church believes in purgatory; which is to say that we understand that people die as mixed bags and that absolute perfection at the moment of death is not required for ultimate salvation. Second, burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy, as demonstrated by Tobit. And, third, the Mass of Christian Burial is meant to be a comfort to the mourners and not merely for the deceased. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:03

Question: Where can I find pictures of the symbols for the gospels? ex) Matthew-man I need the pictures! please help me.

Answer: Hi Laura, There is a book entitled The Catholic Source Book. It is published by Harcourt Brace Religion Division. It has the pictures you are looking for. John = Eagle Matthew = Angel Mark = Winged Lion Luke = Winged Ox You might also check out a website called THEOLOGY LIBRARY. You can access it by going to the Creighton University Web site. I hope this helps. Cheryl Fournier Director, Catechetical Ministries Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:02

Question: I will be taking my grandson to the Episcopal Eucharist Service when I care for him. Earlier that day I will have already attended Mass and receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church. My question is can I, or even should I, receive communion in the Episcopal Church?

Answer: Thank you for your question. The Code of Canon Law touches directly on this matter in the second paragraph of Canon 844, which states: “Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ’s faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a catholic minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.” In other words, if it is impossible for a Catholic to approach a Catholic priest for the sacraments of Penance, Anointing of the Sick, or Eucharist and it is necessary or advantageous for the Catholic to receive one of these sacraments, he or she may approach a non-Catholic minister for them, provided that the sacraments of that Church are considered valid by the Catholic Church. Think here principally in terms of the Orthodox Churches, whose sacraments are valid but which are not in common with Rome. Given this provision of the Law, you should not seek receive communion in the Episcopal Church for two reasons: First, the sacraments of Eucharist as celebrated and administered by the Episcopal Church USA is not valid. This is a consequence of the sad schism which arose beginning in the 16th Century. As committed Catholics, we must be at work to restore the unity, presently lost, within the Body of Christ under the Petrine Ministry of the Holy Father. Second, you will have already received Holy Communion that day at a Catholic Mass. While you may receive Holy Communion more than once in a day, the second time you do so must be within a Mass at which you actively participate (can 917), except in the case of Holy Communion administered as Viaticum. You will not be attending the Catholic Mass the second time; rather you will be attending an Episcopal Eucharistic Liturgy. Affly yours in Christ, Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:02

Question: You indicated in one of your answers (regarding getting drunk) that breaking a civil law is by definition a sin. Does not the Catholic Church adhere to Aquinas’ discourse that the natural law of God is written on the hearts of men and, therefore, any civil law that transcends it is immoral and ought to be disobeyed. Thus, breaking a civil law does not necessarily mean sin.

Answer: You are correct that Aquinas and Catholic teaching and tradition requires us to observe revealed divine law (the Ten Commandments) and natural law before (in a hierarchical sense) human positive law (civil law). Part of revealed divine law is Jesus’ clear statement, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.” In addition, there is Peter’s injunction to the early Christians to “maintain good conduct among the Gentiles” and to “be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him” (1 Pt 2, 12-14). Therefore, Christians are not free to use divine law as a ‘higher law’ – which it is – to exempt them from observance of civil law. The only case, which even Aquinas’ acknowledges – in which one is not bound to observe a civil law is when that law so violates the purpose of law that it ceases to be law. A law is, according to Thomas, “an ordinance of reasons, promulgated by a competent legislator, on behalf of a community capable of receiving it, to promote the common good.” Thus, if a law runs contrary to the common good, undermines the common good, or severely damages society, it is not a law at all and need not be observed. For example, the law which decriminalized abortion in the United States denies equal protection under the laws to citizens and potential citizens of the nation. Moreover, it encourages murder. Therefore, that law is not a true law and need not be observed by Christians. In other words, we do not have to hold that abortion is okay, legal, acceptable, a right, or any other thing. However, all the other laws, regarding trespassing, murder, destruction of property, which are legitimate laws and are necessary to the common good must be observed. In my example, I said getting drunk drinking would certainly be immoral if one drove a vehicle in that state because it recklessly endangers one’s own life and the lives of others and because it is illegal. Indeed, violating a just civil or criminal law is an immoral act. For it is observation of the civil laws which allows society to function. A wonderful meditation on this is the brilliant play, “A Man for All Season” about Saint Thomas More. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:10

Question: I am in a morals class at Seton Hall University and we have to answer the question do we have a soul? We are discussing cloning in class and if a soul can be duplicated.

Answer: Can a God-given soul be duplicated? No. Would a clone have a soul? Philosophically, yes. The soul is the principle of animation. Plants and animals have a philosophical soul, but with differing levels of sophistication. Nor is the soul co-extensive with the body it animates. Since the Catholic Church does not know exactly when God gives a soul to a developing child in the womb, the Church opts for the very moment of conception. How does the Church, or anyone for that matter, understand “conception”? General biological knowledge would understand it as the union of the sperm and the egg. Can one say that conception takes place in cloning when the genetic material is sucked out of an unfertilized ovum and refilled with the genetic material from the person to be cloned? I would answer, no. Or if the ovum is fertilized, should one suck out the “God-given ensouled” genetic material to refill the ovum with another’s genetic material that is “God-given ensouled” or not? I would again answer, no. While not approved by the Church, a child conceived through incest and rape, still has a God-given soul. To the best of my knowledge, this would apply to test-tube conceptions. The Catholic Church teaches that every soul is an individual act of creation by God. Nor is there some “well of souls” from which God reincarnates souls. Therefore, if clones were to have God-given souls, then God would have to enter the process somewhere along the way. Presumably, this would be at the very beginning of the process. Another logical question. If there is no God-given soul to a human clone, then what do we have. Just another higher primate? In time, after sufficient reflection, (and, I dare say, the first human cloning), I am sure the Church will have to answer the question… Fr. Richard Shoda, PERSONAL THEOLOGICAL OPINION Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:09

Question: My girlfriend and I were wondering about artificial insemination. Although we are not considering it ourselves, we were wondering about what the child would be. Would a child conceived by artificial insemination by someone other than a woman’s husband be illegitimate? Would an unmarried woman’s child by artificial insemination be illegitimate?

Answer: To answer your direct question regarding the legitimacy of the child, I would like to say very clearly that the Church no longer uses this term in Her moral or judicial practices (except as regards the offspring of Catholic monarchs, such as the Grimaldis of Monaco, and then only to ensure the line of succession for such Catholic monarchs). While society may continue to use this term, the Church has abandoned its use in pastoral practice because the term unjustly stigmatizes a child for the wrong or irresponsible action of his or her parents. Simply because the parents had sexual intercourse outside of marriage, conceived a child from such an illicit union, and did not then marry, does not mean that the child should be condemned to be forever thought of as illegitimate or, worse, as a bastard. The parents acts ought to be stigmatized, not the beautiful gift of a new life. Now, on the question you did not ask, the Church has condemned the practice of artificial insemination for four specific reasons. First, because, in most cases, the semen used is collected through immoral means (namely, masturbation) and a good act cannot result from evil means. Second, because artificial insemination is precisely that: artificial. God intended and so designed nature that children should be borne of the sexual union of their parents, which union is an expression and completion of the unitive covenant of marriage existing between them. To seek to conceive children in a manner which separates procreation from sexual intercourse perverts the structure of nature itself and violates the Divine will contained in the plan of creation. This says nothing of the medical-ethical horrors involved in some forms of artificial conception such as in-vitro fertilization where several fertilized eggs are aborted, or of the grave danger of eugenics which is made possible through such practices. Third, because the child has a right to be borne of the love which the parents have for one another and not through some medical practice. And fourth, because no one has a right to a child. If I had a right to have a child, that would mean that I am owed another person and be a short step to slavery or children as chattel of their parents (which our abortion culture is creating quickly any way). So, artificial insemination is immoral, this the Church teaches. But the immorality of the act effects the parents’ state of soul and should not taint the life or identity of the child who is innocent of these acts and, through baptism, a child of God, beloved by Him. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:09

Question: I hope you can help me for I am very concerned. My sister constantly claims to see/smell ghosts. She claims to see/smell deceased family members and non-family members in her home and at places of employment. I am very concerned for her, for I do not know if she might have a psychological problem or maybe that her sightings/smellings for real. Please advise, and if possible could you direct me to other resources?

Answer: A: Right off the top, let me deal with one particular issue: the existence of ghosts. Ghosts are popularly understood to be the spirits of deceased persons who linger about in this world, sometimes causing mischief (poltergeists) and other times merely inhabiting a particular place for one reason or another. Defined as such, the teaching of the Church does not admit the existence of ghosts. Pope Benedict XIV, in his encyclical Benedictus Deus, states that upon death, the human soul experiences the particular judgment and is, form there, consigned to Heaven, Purgatory (on the way to Heaven), or Hell. The human soul never departs from Hell; from purgatory it is eventually released to the bliss of heaven. And while the saints have sometimes appeared to persons (e.g.: Joan of Arc have visions of Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine; Saint Margaret Mary Alocque had visions of Saint John), these visions were more internal visions of a nature in which the mind’s eye is given a glimpse of blessedness and shares more intimately and closely in the communion of saints for a moment. The wailing and tormented suffering of wandering spirits often associated with ghosts has no commonality with that of the vision of saints. And since there is no release from Hell and the release from Purgatory is into heaven, the existence of ghosts is ruled out. Lest someone say that purgatory takes place on earth, like the ghost of Marley in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, it seems to be in keeping with the doctrine of the Church that Purgatory is a real place distinct from this world and separate from the final destination of Heaven. So, if a person is seeing spirits (not those of saints), that person is either experiencing a delusion of some kind (whether physical or mental in origin) or is, in fact, seeing a demon. In this particular question, the mention of ‘smell’ so prominently is a interest. Smell is the sense most closely associated with memory, because smell is perhaps the oldest of the sense and that most closely connected with the animal part of the brain. It is a very typical occurrence to have a sensate experience of a person whose memory one is dwelling one – smelling the cologne, scent, or even (in my mother’s case) the pipe tobacco of a dead significant relative or even living person one misses very much. Smell does evoke reactions in us, hence the use of cologne and body washes, etc. Since it is so closely related to memory, yet animal in origin, weak and string smell associations can become connected to or assigned to the memories of persons or events in the distant past or even which one has only heard about. Sense memory is a very tricky thing … just think of your own mental picture of individuals and how fuzzy it can be around the edges when you try to imagine it. It may be that your sister is still mourning the death of one or more persons or that she is going through a traumatic point in her life right now (even one of physical change) and that this or similar upheaval has stirred up some latent sense memory. On the other hand, she may be having (I know this sounds nuts) an allergic reaction to allergens in the air which are provoking old memories long dormant. The later could be the case if these sense related events occur in the same places all the time and that environment has been recently disturbed. Your sister need not worry about it unless it beings to create difficulty or discomfort for her or those around her. In the meantime, it never hurts to encourage one to say a little pray when this event occurs, even as brief as “Jesus, Son of the living God, Have mercy on me”, to invoke divine protection. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:09

Question: Someone I know was involved in Satanic groups that claimed that Jesus and God are the true devils. He has since then changed his ways and is now a true Christian and loves God. But I understand that to blaspheme God in this way is an unpardoned sin. Does this mean he will automatically go to hell even if he becomes righteous in God?

Answer: Actually, the Scriptural text you refer to is Jesus’ statement in Matthew 12, 31-32. Here Jesus says, “Therefore, I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” In the rich tradition of the Christian churches, this problematic text has been interpreted to mean a very specific set of sins which cannot be forgiven. They are: 1. presuming to attain salvation without personal faith and charity, these together with hope being called the “theological virtues” and arising at baptism as a gifts of the Spirit; 2. utter despair of the Spirit’s ability to forgive one’s personal sins or bring one salvation; 3. obstinacy in sin or error, or the refusal to depart from sin or error; 4. final impenitence, or dying in the state of sin and not having any sorrow for meeting death in such an unhappy state; 5. Permanent apostasy, or departure from the one true faith and the refusal to later return to the Church. As you can see, all of these involve some refusal to seek forgiveness or refusal to be sorry for one’s sins. The Holy Spirit cannot bring forgiveness to one who does not feel that he has sinned nor to one who refuses to ask for forgiveness. Since your friend has sought forgiveness and embraced the faith, believing that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Spirit is certainly with him. For, Saint Paul says, “No one can say ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ except by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, have no fear for your friend but rejoice with him! And remember, God “wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live.” Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:08

Question: What does the Catholic Church believe about unwed pregnancies? What are the repercussions to the baby, or the baby’s soul? What about the parents? What if they get married after the baby comes?

Answer: The Roman Catholic Church believes and confesses that all pregnancies are blessed by God and that all children are deserving of love, care, respect, and the greatest possible protection by society, the state, and individuals regardless of their origins or the marital status of parents. In other words, every pregnancy should be protected, every child should be welcomed into life, and every child should be cared for and celebrated. So, there are no repercussions for the child’s soul if his or her parents were not married at the time of conception. At the same time, psychology and common sense both show that children who are born into and raised in an intact family (one with a Mom and dad who are married, live together, and are actively involved in the rearing of the children) are better adjusted, have a firmer moral code, and grow into adulthood and adult responsibility than do children who are not from intact homes. Now, this does not necessarily mean that couples who are pregnant out of wedlock should marry. They should if they love one another and are willing to commit to marriage, that is to the covenant for the whole of life which is marked by fidelity, perpetuity, and the procreation and education of children. Marriages entered into solely out of a sense of obligation rarely work … they sometimes do, but rarely. And the children are often left to feel that had they never been borne, the parents would never have been ‘forced’ to marry. Of course, none of this would happen if we practiced the virtue of chastity, i.e.: reserve sexual intercourse for the marital relationship. Outside of marriage, sexual intercourse is damaging to both partners, a lie in that there is no real unity or true commitment between them, violative of the child’s right to be borne into a stable family, and an objective sin. And chastity is an obligation, a positive duty, of all Christians. And, Fulfilling this primary obligation will save one from having other obligations later! Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:08

Question: What is the Church’s stand on transplanted organs?

Answer: Dr. William May wrote a very thorough but concise article on this issue in Ethics and Medics (July 1996). This newsletter is published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center (www.ncbcenter.org). But, to put the whole thing in a nutshell, there are two broad kinds of organ transplants: (1) heteroplastic and (2) homoplastic. The first refers to transplanting organs from a lower species to a human person. The second refers to transplanting organs from one human person to another. This second category is broken into to sub-categories: (a) transplantation of organs from the bodies of dead persons to living one; (b) transplantation of organs from one living person to another. There are distinct moral issues involved in each area. With regard to Heteroplastic Transplants, Pope Pius XII actually taught quite extensively in this area. From his teachings the following rule can be derived: transplanting organs, other than generative ones (Pius XII specifically stated that it was immoral to transplant ovaries or testes from a lower life form into human beings), is morally acceptable provided that the health care professions are acting in accord with the norms for experimentation on human subjects, in other words: full, informed, and free consent of the patient, reasonable chance of success, previous clinical trials, etc. With regard to Homoplastic Transplantation, we look first to transplants from the bodies of dead persons to living human beings. In this area there are, generally, no serious moral problems. Again, Pius XII touched on this area, saying, “A person may will to dispose his body and to destine it to ends that are useful, morally irreproachable and even noble, among them the desire to aid the sick and suffering. One may make a decision of this nature with respect to his own body with full realization of the reverence which is due to it … this decision should not be condemned but positively justified.” There are only three real concerns here. First, the fully informed and free consent to organ donation is achieved from the person previous to death or from his or her next of kin if the wishes of the person are unknown. Second, that a physician pronounce the person dead in keeping with The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act so that there can be no question of necessary organs being taking from a still living person. And third, that the human body, even as a cadaver, continues to be treated with respect and reverence. With regard to transplantation between living persons, there is some debate in this area. However, the Bishops of the United States have said, in Ethical and Religious Directive (no. 30): “The transplantation of organs from living donors is morally permissible when such a donation will not sacrifice or seriously impair any essential bodily function and the anticipated benefit to the recipient is proportionate to the harm done to the donor. Furthermore, the freedom of the donor must be respected, and economic advantages should not accrue to the donor.” Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:08

Question: What is the Catholic Church’s teachings about the separation of conjoined twins, such as Mary and Jodie, if one is not going to survive from the operation?

Answer: While I am not aware of any statement by the Church or by any representative of the Church on the separation of conjoined twins in general or the recent separation performed in England specifically, I do think the general moral principles taught by the Church would apply in this case. The Church teaches a moral principle called the Principle of Double Effect. This principle realizes that many human actions have more than one consequence and that the consequences are often of mixed moral value. In other words, the same action can have morally good consequences and morally bad consequences. According to the principle of Double Effect, I may proceed with an action some outcomes I can foresee to be mixed if: 1. I do not intend the bad (morally evil) outcomes; 2. the good outcome that I do intend outweighs the evil that outcome that I don’t intend; 3. the good outcome is not a direct result of the bad outcome (e.g., I cannot kill one innocent person in order to save another innocent person). Moral theologians would go much deeper in this explanation, but that explains it in a nutshell. Now certainly, the issue of separating conjoined twins is a matter of double-effect, especially as the probability of death as a result of separation increases. In case where there is little of no probability of death or severe injury for one of the twins, the separation should take place. But, as the likelihood of death increases, doctors and parents should seriously consider whether the good to be achieved outweighs the evil that could result. Doctors especially should return to the Hippocratic Oath, wherein they promise “above all, to do no harm” and consider if their medical actions are bringing about real harm. In some cases of conjoined twins, separation is de facto death for one and life for the other; where to not separate will eventually bring about the death of both. This is the difference, ultimately between killing (an action) and letting die (a respectful choice to allow nature to take its own mysterious course) and is a very real moral distinction. To the extent that my actions directly result in the killing of an innocent person, I am morally responsible. To the extent that I take it upon myself to choose who will live and who will die, I am morally responsible for the death of the one. Fortunately, many medical/surgical separations do not involve life-or-death outcomes and we should be thankful to God that He has given us some many excellent men and women to advance the medical sciences. Addendum: 10/14/00 I began my answer to your question by saying, “While I am not aware of any statement by the Church or by any representative of the Church on the separation of conjoined twins in general or the recent separation performed in England specifically, I do think the general moral principles taught by the Church would apply in this case.” Since I wrote this answer, I have received two statements by way of The catholic News Service. The first is from the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, who said that the Court ruling “amount to the direct killing of a person, whose basic right to life will be denied.” He urged the parents and the hospital (which is located in the Archdiocesan, though in no way affiliated with it) not to proceed with the operation. The Most Reverend Nikol Cauchi, the Bishop of Gozo on the Island of Malta, abhorred the decision and states “We do not criticize the judges, but we abhor the act. You cannot destroy one human being to save another. All life is sacred.” The parents of the twins, Jodi and Mary, are from the island of Malta. I think that the rest of my original answer will explain the moral thought process behind these insightful statements of Church leaders. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:08

Question: What is the position of the Church with regard to a couple that underwent artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization?

Answer: Instead of saying where the Church stands with regard to the couple in question, I would rather share with you the Church’s teaching on in-vitro fertilization and let the couple decide where they stand in their moral lives. The Roman Catholic Church has a very clear and specific position with regard to in-vitro fertilization. Pope John Paul II taught in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae: “14. The various techniques of artificial reproduction, which would seem to be at the service of life and which are frequently used with this intention, actually open the door to new threats against life. Apart from the fact that they are morally unacceptable, since they separate procreation from the fully human context of the conjugal act, these techniques have a high rate of failure: not just failure in relation to fertilization but with regard to the subsequent development of the embryo, which is exposed to the risk of death, generally within a very short space of time. Furthermore, the number of embryos produced is often greater than that needed for implantation in the woman’s womb, and these so-called “spare embryos” are then destroyed or used for research which, under the pretext of scientific or medical progress, in fact reduces human life to the level of simple “biological material” to be freely disposed of.” Therefore, there are three distinct reasons why the process of in-vitro (meaning ‘in a glass’) fertilization is judged to be an immoral action by the Church. First, the medical procedure violates the nature and structure of reproduction by separating the sexual act from reproduction itself. In other words, it is a wholly unnatural activity. Second, the process is extremely risky for the fertilized human ovum and the subsequent embryo, failure to implant happening more often than not. In other words, the risk to the child is disproportionately large. Finally – and perhaps of greatest concern – the process actually includes abortion within it. typically, more than one (in fact several) eggs are fertilized. This means that several conceptions take place. The doctor will then usually ask how many children the couple wants and the ‘best’ fertilized ovum are implanted. The others are discarded. They are either immediately destroyed or are saved for medical/scientific experiments and purposes. Thus, such rejected ova could be cultured and used and latter destroyed. The long and short of it is that several conceived persons are destroyed in the process. Abortion is part and parcel of this activity. For these reasons the Church firmly opposes in-vitro fertilization and sees it as objectively morally evil and a violation of the Fifth Commandment. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a beautiful reflection on the issue of infertility and how a Christian couple should face this question together. It touches upon the immorality of artificial means of fertilization, though not as clearly and specifically as the Holy Father does above. I would ask you to sit with these words and pray over them, in the quiet of your conscience, and then decide where you stand in your relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. The Catechism teaches: 2374 Couples who discover that they are sterile suffer greatly. “What will you give me,” asks Abraham of God, “for I continue childless?” And Rachel cries to her husband Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” 2375 Research aimed at reducing human sterility is to be encouraged, on condition that it is placed “at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, and his true and integral good according to the design and will of God.” 2376 Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses’ “right to become a father and a mother only through each other.” 2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.” “Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person.” 2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.” 2379 The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:07

Question: I have noticed that in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, article 2295 it reads, “Experimentation on human beings is not morally legitimate if it exposes the subject’s life or physical and psychological integrity to disproportionate or avoidable risks.” Would this also apply to inmates on Death Row? If already sentenced to death, would not the risk of death from scientific research be a negligible consideration?

Answer: Thank you for your question. First and foremost, the teaching of The Catechism applies to all human being, whether they are inmates sentenced to death or not. Even prisoners on death row have and retain their basic human dignity. The philosopher Immanuel Kant said it best, perhaps, when he said that one may never use a person as a means to an end, no matter how good the end may be. In fact, this was among the reasons that the Nuremberg Tribunal condemned so many of the Nazis for crimes against and humanity and why the Nazi doctors continue to be held up to ridicule and disdain: they conducted experiments on the prisoners at the death camps. These kind of experiments were carried out at some U.S. prisoners even into the 1960s. Prisoners were offered the possibility for early parole or trusteeships if they participated in experiments which could do them harm (like being set on fire to test flammability of fabrics and other products). These were stopped as cruel and inhuman, since the prisoners were not truly acting under their own free will and since the basic respect due to human beings was undermined by the nature of the experiments. Further, as regards thee whole issue of capital punishment, I would direct your attention to the latest edition of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. The most recent edition (1999, not 1997), at paragraph 2266-2267, makes clear the Church’s opposition to the use of the death penalty in most circumstances in most countries of the world today. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:07

Question: Is a parishioner allowed to receive the host in their hand, carry it to the wine and dip it before consuming? Isn’t this called intincture? I thought only priests could do this.

Answer: This practice is called ‘intinction’ by some, but is not the practice of ‘intinction’ as approved and practiced by the Church. As described by the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (1970) and as practiced by the Church in tradition, intinction is the method of administering communion in which the minister present and places on the tongue of the communicant a host which has been dipped in the precious blood, saying, “The Body and Blood of Christ,” to which the communicant responds, “Amen.” In some places, it has become the practice for members of the faithful to receive the Body of Christ and then approach the minister of the Cup and have that minister dip the Host in the Chalice and present the intincted Host for communion. This is problematic in that the Host should be consumed immediately upon reception, after the affirmation “Amen” has been given and should not be carried to another place. Some may argue that the devote desire to receive under both species, while not wishing to receive directly from the Chalice, should outweigh concern about the transporting of the Host from place to place. However, the practice whereby the communicant receives the Host and then approaches the Chalice and intincts the Host and receives it is prohibited. One does not and cannot minister a sacrament, any sacrament, unto one’s self. Thus, I cannot baptize myself nor can I confirm myself. The priest does receive communion from himself, but this is because his reception is integral to the celebration of the Mass and no one else’s reception is. Part of the administration of Holy Communion is to receive the sacrament from the hands of another (an official minister of the Church, whether ordinary – priest or deacon – or extraordinary – acolyte or Eucharistic minister) as we have received salvation from the hand of Christ and to publicly exchange a profession of faith in the truth and effectiveness of the sacrament. Long story short, only an ordinary minister (and in some dioceses, an extraordinary minister) of communion may administer communion by intinction, in fact by any means at all. Very Rev. Kevin Michael Quirk, JCD Judicial Vicar Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 10:07

Question: Recently I was diagnosed with a medical condition, severe endometriosis. This disease causes abdominal pain and, if left untreated, usually results in infertility. In my case, the disease is advanced, and has located in such an area of my body that if it is not halted soon, may cause severe adverse urinary tract consequences as well as the infertility. Treatment options offered by my doctor were: 1) birth control pills, 2) an injection that would put me in “pseudo menopause” for 4-6 months at a time, or 3) hysterectomy. The pills will halt further progression of the current disease while the shot will cure the disease (but it will begin again after the 4-6 month “menopause” wears off). The hysterectomy will also cure the disease, but obviously I couldn’t have kids after that. I am an unmarried woman in my 30s and do want to have children someday. The doctors have informed me that their recommended course of treatment is for me to take the pills until such time as I am married, then once I’m married and want to have kids, then take the injection, because it will clear up the disease temporarily and my best shot of conceiving is during the month or two following when the “menopause” injection wears off and my body has been cleansed of the endometriosis. Then after I’ve had a child (or children), they’d recommend hysterectomy to stop the disease entirely. All that having been said, here’s my question (sorry it took so long to get here): I understand that the Church is opposed to artificial birth control methods. But what if the birth control methods have been prescribed to halt/cure a disease (and to ensure that if/when I do get married, I’ll still be fertile at that time)? Will I be sinning if I take the pills that have been prescribed for treatment of my condition?

Answer: I would like to make two distinction at the very outset before answering your question directly. First, regarding the determination of the morality of an act, The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches 1750 The morality of human acts depends on: – the object chosen; – the end in view or the intention; – the circumstances of the action. The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the “sources,” or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts. 1751 The object chosen is a good toward which the will deliberately directs itself. It is the matter of a human act. The object chosen morally specifies the act of the will, insofar as reason recognizes and judges it to be or not to be in conformity with the true good. Objective norms of morality express the rational order of good and evil, attested to by conscience. 1752 In contrast to the object, the intention resides in the acting subject. Because it lies at the voluntary source of an action and determines it by its end, intention is an element essential to the moral evaluation of an action. The end is the first goal of the intention and indicates the purpose pursued in the action. The intention is a movement of the will toward the end: it is concerned with the goal of the activity. It aims at the good anticipated from the action undertaken. Intention is not limited to directing individual actions, but can guide several actions toward one and the same purpose; it can orient one’s whole life toward its ultimate end. For example, a service done with the end of helping one’s neighbor can at the same time be inspired by the love of God as the ultimate end of all our actions. One and the same action can also be inspired by several intentions, such as performing a service in order to obtain a favor or to boast about it. 1753 A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means. Thus the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as a legitimate means of saving the nation. On the other hand, an added bad intention (such as vainglory) makes an act evil that, in and of itself, can be good (such as almsgiving). 1754 The circumstances, including the consequences, are secondary elements of a moral act. They contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts (for example, the amount of a theft). They can also diminish or increase the agent’s responsibility (such as acting out of a fear of death). Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil. These points from The Catechism alone go a great way to answering your question. However, a further distinction is required. As Pope Paul VI taught clearly in Humanae Vitae, the sin of contraception (which is in and of itself a grave, objective moral evil about which there can be no lightness of matter) takes place between a husband and wife when they seek to frustrate the procreativity of the marital act by artificial means for the purpose of not having children and thereby excluding one of the ends of marital sexuality: the procreation and education of children. With these distinctions in mind, I would offer the following answer to your question. You state that you are not married and that you are affected by the disease endometriosis which your physician proposes to treat by use of what is popularly called “The Pill.” The pill (there are several variants of it on the market, so use of the chemical name here would not be particularly helpful) alters and controls a woman’s menstrual cycle, one of the results of which is a 98% effectiveness is blocking pregnancy. This is certainly one of the consequences of use of the pill. However, if one is not married and, therefore, chaste by definition, this consequence is neither intended nor aimed at. Indeed, this consequence (the blocking of