December 2, 2016

CHALLENGE

“The Catholic Church is too uptight about divorce. People ought to be able to freely divorce and remarry if they choose.”

DEFENSE

The Church’s teaching on divorce is humane, just, and rooted in the teaching of Jesus.

*  *  *

The Church’s teaching is humane, for it recognizes that there can be legitimate reasons to obtain a divorce under civil (secular) law: “If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense” (CCC 2383). Thus nobody is required to live in an intolerable or unsafe situation, such as with a physically or emotionally abusive spouse.

The Church’s...

Cardinal Raymond Burke
November 30, 2016

Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan starred in a delightful romantic comedy called The Shop Around the Corner (1940). I don’t know why the movie’s title included Around the Corner, since the location of the shop was not integral to the story. Maybe director and producer Ernst Lubitsch suspected that calling the movie merely The Shop wouldn’t have worked to draw in moviegoers.

I have to admit that the movie has nothing to do with the topic of this post, which is the four cardinals’ dubia concerning Amoris Laetitia. The movie came to mind—or, I should say, the phrase “around the corner” came to mind—because it was “around the corner” that I found Cardinal Raymond Burke’s residence when I was in Rome a few months ago.

...
November 29, 2016

For many American Catholics, Thanksgiving kicks off another season of "here we go again"—fending off the annual bombardment from advertisers and the temptation to measure Christmas in terms of presents. It's a monthlong struggle to get all of our holiday work done and somehow keep Christ in Christmas, too. 

Many of us look back to a simpler Christmas in the "good old days," a mythical time when the holiday came wrapped in a stocking full of chocolates and maybe an orange. Well, let's look back a little farther and stand where we can get some perspective on the matter. 

For one thing, when you look at the liturgical calendar, you'll notice that Christmas isn't the Church's major holiday. It never has been. Church Fathers such as Augustine didn't include a commemoration of...

November 25, 2016

CHALLENGE

“The pope is a sinful man who makes mistakes. Therefore, he can’t be infallible.”

DEFENSE

The premise of this challenge is true; the conclusion is false.

*  *  *

The pope is a sinful man, but this does not lead to the conclusion that he can’t be infallible. Sinlessness—sometimes called impeccability—operates in a different sphere than infallibility does.

Sinlessness is a quality pertaining to the moral order: it means not making a mistake in the sphere of one’s behavior. Infallibility is a quality pertaining to the doctrinal order: it deals with not making a mistake when proclaiming a doctrine.

The quality of sinlessness is not required...

November 23, 2016

The Magna Carta for all Christian evangelists is Christ’s great commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Notice Christ’s command restricts the Christian evangelist to teaching only what Christ revealed and not his own opinions.

Many Protestants think the Catholic Church fails in this regard. Purgatory is one Catholic dogma they don’t think came from our Lord. It’s asserted that this is one of the many made-up dogmas the Catholic Church binds its members to believe.

It’s true all members of the Catholic Church are bound to believe in the dogma of purgatory. But it’s not true that it’s made up.  

In answering this claim, the Catholic apologist could turn to St...

November 22, 2016

In a recent interview with National Public Radio, actress Anna Kendrick talked about how, when she was a child, the Bible made her anxious:

I remember there being this thing about "It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." And at that point, because . . . my brother and I each had our own room and we had a garage, I thought, "Well, that's us. We're rich and we need to give everything away, otherwise my whole family is going to go to hell."

The passage Kendrick is referring to is Matthew 19:24 or one of the parallel passages that can be...

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