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I have been deeply concerned about some of the comments posted on this board by a party who speaks with great authority, but is often wrong in her understanding of our Catholic Faith and whose answers do more to confuse the faithful than to help them. I won't mention the party by name because I don't want to "flame" (as the bulletin board etiquette calls personal attacks), but I do think it is important to carefully evaluate what you read on this board and to realize that not everything is consistent with Catholic doctrine or discipline. My reason for mentioning this warning is a letter which this person sent me via my own personal e-mail in which she said "I will not attend a mass in which the liturgy has been "updated" to use the phrase "which shall be shed for you and for all unto the forgiveness of sins", instead of the legal liturgical phrase, "for many." For as Holy Scripture tells us, "Not everyone who says "Lord, Lord," will be saved." Now of course, the legal liturgical phrase in English, approved by the Holy See is "for all." This is consistent with other vernacular translations. It also is the phrase that the Holy Father uses when he celebrates mass in English. More to the point, however, is that this person has made it clear from her letter that she does not believe that Christ died for all people. This is not a new view. In the late sixteenth and in the seventeenth centuries, this idea surfaced because of a book, Augustinus, by Cornelius Jannsen. Jannsen taught that it was a heresy (semi-Pelagianism) to believe that Christ died for all (as opposed to that He died for some, i.e. the saved). Innocent XI in his bull Cum Occasione (1655) condemning "Jansenism" condemned this opinion, and affirmed Catholic orthodoxy to be that Christ indeed died for all. (This does not mean, incidentally that the Catholic Church teaches that all are saved. It neither teaches that all are saved or that any are condemned. It simply means that Christ's death is sufficient for the salvation of all). We need to remember that although it is good to have bulletin boards like this for exchanges of ideas and opinions, not all opinions are those of the Church and that Catholics must follow, at least in matters of faith and morals, the teachings of our legitimate pastors-the pope and the bishops. We can say what we want, but not all opinions carry equal weight and some opinions are even wrong. Patrick

-- Anonymous, June 22, 1998


response to warning

A good notice, Patrick, but I did kind of flinch when you said this person spoke with a "good deal of authority" and then later went on to reveal that this person was a woman. Ouch! We all know there isn't a catholic woman alive who really speaks with any AUTHORITY within the church. Conviction, yes, we all speak with tons of conviction...but authority? Gosh, lookit the mess we had a few hundred postings ago re Mother Angelica and Cardinal Mahoney. Mother Angelica is fairly well regarded, but she is not a "recognised" and degreed theologian, and her ideas regarding the Cardinal's letter - which were ideas of a woman with simple strong faith and vision, were considered quite inflammatory. With the exceptions of a few female theologians who teach at Catholic Universities, and our three female doctors of the church, Teresa, Catherine and Terese, (three out of how many doctors? We can't even get Hildegaard and Julian, those two GREAT teachers to be canonized, much less made doctors of the church) I can't think of a single woman who has any kind of public authority within our church. Not that there aren't a ton of good women who wouldn't be terrific preachers and teachers...but hey, that's another thread! Bless you, all!

-- Anonymous, June 22, 1998

women and authority

I am sorry Dana, I was not using authority in the technical sense. I should have said that the party in question speaks as if she knew what she was talking about. It is sort of the point of my arguement with this woman that only the pope and bishops speak with authority. In granting the doctorate of the Church, the writings of those so chosen (including the three women--and you know there was a long debate over whether a woman could be a doctor of the church precisely on this issue) have been give a certain authoritative status. Theologians (male or female-and there are more than a few female theologians in our universities and theological faculties), faithful clergy, educated laity, might speak with knowledge and hopefully may well represent the teaching authority of the Church. People who set themselves up as an alternative magisterium--dismissing the teachings of the bishops when they do not agree with them--do a tremendous disservice to us all. Even Mother Angelica, while she has her right to private opinion, has no right to publically declare a bishop to be in heresy until and unless the Holy See makes that decision. By the way, while I am not sure of the exact number of doctors, I believe it is about 24 (three of whom are women). A move to declare Therese of Lisieux a doctor of the Church earlier in the century came to naught because of "objection of sex" i.e. only men could be named doctors. Paul VI changed that with the nomination of Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena. Patrick

-- Anonymous, June 22, 1998

I think that it is a good idea for all to look up the true teachings of the Catholic Church. When we read an answer we should go and get the document that is quoted and read it ourselves. I pray that I would never mislead anyone or lead anyone into error about what the Church teaches. I am far from Infallible. Please correct anything that I may post that is unclear or misleading.

-- Anonymous, June 22, 1998

most of us aren't infallible

Dear Rich, actually I have been very impressed at your responses at this site. You seem far more knowledgable about our Catholic faith than some people whose opinions undermine the authentic teaching of the Church. I am also impressed by the seriousness of your secular Franciscan vocation. Francis was loyal to the Church; he loved the Church, and he saw new ways to live out the faith in his own day. Francis probalby saved the Church of his day from a tragedy similar to the 16th century Reformation. It really isn't that hard to know what the Church teaches, especially since most of the documents are readily available on the web. (I just pointed out to my spiritual director today where to find Evangelium Vitae as he wanted to find out what the magisterium says about the death penalty--an area where as you are probably aware, Pope John Paul has considerably developed the doctrine from where it was.) Of course there is always the issue about how to interpret various documents and teachings. I am certainly inclined to trust our bishops for interpretation more than I am any loose cannon that comes along. That is what has gotten me so upset about our friend's opinions. These are called the "Catholic Home Pages" and I think that people looking at them have the right to expect the teaching of the Church to be accurately portrayed. It is amazing that priests need faculties to preach, theology professors at Catholic institutions need authorization from their bishop to teach, but any crackpot can get on the web (or cable T.V.) and without any accountibility present themselves as an authentic teacher of the Catholic Faith. The bishops have lost control of the teaching office of the Church and they had better find a way of getting it back or we will have chaos. I would hope too that if I say something that differs from the authentic teaching of the Church that you, or even Martha, would correct me, but it had damn better be with authentic teaching and not with psychotic pontifications of semi-schismatics. Patrick

-- Anonymous, June 22, 1998

Hi Patrick,

Actually "we" the faithful do need approval from the Church to write for public distribution or to "teach in public the Catholic faith" canon 824 #2 I have my permissions as a Master Catechist in adult education.

-- Anonymous, June 23, 1998



OK, I have to challenge your interpretation of canon law here. On your interpretation, I have to pull down my entire web site and shut down the forum because I have not sought the permission of my local Ordinary to evangelize and facilitate the evangelization of others in this way.

824.2 (which you cite) states that the canons relating to books relate also to other writings intended for publication.

823 says the Bishops have a right and duty to protect the faithful from any ill effect on faith or morals through the means of social communication. They have the right and duty to demand that writings on faith and morals be submitted to them for judgment and the right and duty to condemn writings which harm true faith and morals.

825 prohibits the publication of the Scriptures without the approval of the Holy See or the Episcopal Conference.

826 deals with liturgical books and prayer books for public or private devotion.

827.1 deals with the publication of catechisms.

827.2 requires any books (or published writings) dealing with canon law, theology, faith, morals, etc. _that will be used as textbooks_ to be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.

827.3 _recommends_ that any books dealing with those subjects but not to be used as textbooks be submitted to the judgment of the local Ordinary.

827.4 prohibits the distribution of books at churches unless they have been approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.

831.1 provides that, unless there is just cause, no member of the faithful may write in a newspaper, periodical or pamphlet that is clearly accustomed to attacking the catholic religion or good morals. Priests and religious may only write in them with their Bishop's permission.

831.2 The Episcopal Conference may lay down rules for priests and religious taking part in television and radio programs dealing with faith or morals.

832 Religious may only publish writings with the permission of their superior.

The only thing I see there against any member of the faithful writing their opinion in a forum like this or on a website is the recommendation to submit it to the judgment of the Bishop and the prohibition on writing in a newspaper or periodical that is accustomed to attacking the catholic religion or good morals.

-- Anonymous, June 24, 1998

I for one am very glad to hear from people in this newsgroup who can quote from the bible or from Vatican documents etc. etc. to support their arguments. I wish I knew enough to do so. This is the logical way to go about the discussion and carries much more weight than someone's 'opinion'.

AT THE SAME TIME, I see this forum as an excellent opportunity for all members of our faith community (learned and not-so-learned) to gather as one people and discuss our beliefs. I pray that no one has been scared off by this thread. I pray that no one feels that they can only speak if they have authority. How can we learn unless we ask? How can we explain it or teach it to others unless we debate it and see how other arguments fail and the true argument survives?

To provide a personal example, I never liked or accepted the passage in the bible that says a wife must obey her husband in all things (and perhaps you Patrick or Rich can provide the Chapter and Verse). And I would never have understood if I had not questioned it and argued it with my bible group and then pondered it privately. At times, they were quite frustrated with my 'willful blindness' as they called it. I was also frustrated because it was like an image I saw briefly in a flash of lightning but disappeared before I could take it all in. It took literally MONTHS of contemplation but bit by bit, the veil lifted. By the Grace of God, I think I finally do understand.

But if I had been afraid to question, to ask, to argue the point, to give my opinions (erroneous as they were) no one would have realized that I misunderstood, thus no one would have explained and I would still be completely in the dark.

My point (after all that) is this:

1) Patrick and Rich's point is well taken - just because someone wrote it on the internet and sounds knowledgable, that does *not* mean they are imparting the wisdom of the Vatican *unless* they can back it up.

2) One of the greatest benefits of this forum is the ability to ask questions about things we've always wondered about our faith. Perhaps we've been too embarassed to ask our priests and this method gives us the anonymity we need. Perhaps we just stumbled across this while surfing the net and it reached our soul and sparked questions. Whatever the reason, come and ask your questions. There's no such thing as a dumb question. Present your arguments for our discussion and debate. Listen and ponder (as Mary did). This is the tool for learning. Just use it wisely (see point one).

3) To those of you who are 'learned' and who have chosen the role of 'teacher', please realize that your 'students' are asking questions or engaging in debate because they wish to understand, not because they wish to be difficult. Be patient. Be kind. Be gentle. Be steadfast. Sometimes, faith is as fragile as a spider's web and a sharp gust can blow it away. I've had that happen to me. I've seen it happen to others. It takes a long time to repair.

-- Anonymous, June 23, 1998


The idea of a limited or particular atonement predates Jansenism and is identified most closely with John Calvin. To Calvin, every grace was efficacious, there was no such thing as sufficient grace. Yours in the Holy Trinity.

-- Anonymous, June 23, 1998

Hi Paul,

I only referenced 824.2 the others don't apply here. I am not a canon lawyer I may meet with one next week and may ask for his comments. I just quoted a canon I'm sorry if this has caused you concern. I think that your site is just great and I love being able to read and comment here. As far as the Forum goes I try to just respond to specific questions from specific people without intending to "publish anything" I would think that your Bishop would approve of your site.

-- Anonymous, June 24, 1998

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