Radio  Replies

Volume 3

In Defence of Religion

Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM, Sydney, Australia.


The Rev. Dr. Rumble, M.S.C.


Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty

 1364 Questions and Answers on Catholicism and Protestantism




ONCE there were lost islands, but most of them have been found; once there were lost causes, but many of them have been retrieved; but there is one lost art that has not been definitely recovered, and without which no civilization can long survive, and that is the art of controversy. The hardest thing to find in the world today is an argument. Because so few are thinking, naturally there are found but few to argue. Prejudice there is in abundance and sentiment too, for these things are born of enthusiasms without the pain of labour. Thinking, on the contrary, is a difficult task; it is the hardest work a man can do—that is perhaps why so few indulge in it. Thought-saving devices have been invented that rival labor-saving devices in their ingenuity. Fine-sounding phrases like "Life is bigger than logic," or "Progress is the spirit of the age," go rattling by us like express trains, carrying the burden of those who are too lazy to think for themselves.

NOT even philosophers argue today; they only explain away. A book full of bad logic, advocating all manner of moral laxity, is not refuted by critics; it is merely called "bold, honest, and fearless." Even those periodicals which pride themselves upon their open-mindedness on all questions are far from practising the lost art of controversy. Their pages contain no controversies, but only presentations of points of view; these never rise to the level of abstract thought in which argument clashes with argument like steel with steel, but rather they content themselves with the personal reflections of one who has lost his faith, writing against the sanctity of marriage, and of another who has kept his faith, writing in favor of it. Both sides are shooting off firecrackers, making all the noise of an intellectual warfare and creating the illusion of conflict, but it is only a sham battle in which there are no casualties; there are plenty of explosions, but never an exploded argument.

THE causes underlying this decline in the art of controversy are twofold: religious and philosophical. Modern religion has enunciated one great and fundamental dogma that is at the basis of all the other dogmas, and that is, that religion must be freed from dogmas. Creeds and confessions of faith are no longer the fashion; religious leaders have agreed not to disagree and those beliefs for which some of our ancestors would have died they have melted into a spineless Humanism. Like other Pilates they have turned their backs on the uniqueness of truth and have opened their arms wide to all the moods and fancies the hour might dictate. The passing of creeds and dogmas means the passing of controversies. Creeds and dogmas are social; prejudices are private. Believers bump into one another at a thousand different angles, but bigots keep out of one another's way, because prejudice is anti-social. I can imagine an old-fashioned Calvinist who holds that the word "damn" has a tremendous dogmatic significance, coming to intellectual blows with an old-fashioned Methodist who holds that it is only a curse word; but I cannot imagine a controversy if both decide to damn damnation, like our Modernists who no longer believe in Hell.

THE second cause, which is philosophical, bases itself on that peculiar American philosophy called "Pragmatism," the aim of which is to prove that all proofs are useless. Hegel, of Germany, rationalized error; James, of America, derationalized truth. As a result, there has sprung up a disturbing indifference to truth, and a tendency to regard the useful as the true, and the impractical as the false. The man who can make up his mind when proofs are presented to him is looked upon as a bigot, and the man who ignores proofs and the search for truth is looked upon as broad-minded and tolerant.

Another evidence of this same disrespect for rational foundations is the general readiness of the modern mind to accept a statement because of the literary way in which it is couched, or because of the popularity of the one who says it, rather than for the reasons behind the statement. In this sense, it is unfortunate that some men who think poorly can write so well. Bergson has written a philosophy grounded on the assumption that the greater comes from the less, but he has so camouflaged that intellectual monstrosity with mellifluous French that he has been credited with being a great and original thinker. To some minds, of course, the startling will always appear to be the profound. It is easier to get the attention of the press when one says, as Ibsen did, that "two and two make five," than to be orthodox and say that two and two make four.

The Catholic Church perhaps more than the other forms of Christianity notices the decline in the art of controversy. Never before, perhaps, in the whole history of Christianity has she been so intellectually impoverished for want of good, sound intellectual opposition as she is at the present time. Today there are no foe-men worthy of her steel. And if the Church today is not producing great chunks of thought, or what might be called "thinkage," it is because she has not been challenged to do so. The best in everything comes from the throwing down of a gauntlet—even the best in thought.

THE Church loves controversy, and loves it for two reasons: because intellectual conflict is informing, and because she is madly in love with rationalism.   The great structure of the Catholic Church has been built up through controversy. It was the attacks of the Docetists and the Monophysites in the early centuries of the Church that made her clear on the doctrine concerning the nature of Christ; it was the controversy with the Reformers that clarified her teaching on justification. And if today there are not nearly so many dogmas defined as in the early ages of the Church, it is because there is less controversy—and less thinking. One must think to be a heretic, even though it be wrong thinking.

Even though one did not accept the infallible authority of the Church, he would still have to admit that the Church in the course of centuries has had her finger on the pulse of the world, ever defining those dogmas which needed definition at the moment. In the light of this fact, it would be interesting to inquire if our boasted theory of intellectual progress is true. What was the Christian world thinking about in the early centuries? What doctrines had to be clarified when controversy was keen? In the early centuries, controversy centered on such lofty and delicate problems as the Trinity, the Incarnation, the union of Natures in the person of the Son of God. What was the last doctrine to be defined in 1870? It was the capability of man to use his brain and come to a knowledge of God. Now, if the world is progressing intellectually, should not the existence of God have been defined in the first century, and the nature of the Trinity have been defined in the nineteenth? In the order of mathematics this is like defining the complexities of logarithms in the year 42, and the simplification of the addition table in the year 1942. The fact is that there is now less intellectual opposition to the Church and more prejudice, which, being interpreted, means less thinking, even less bad thinking.

Not only does the Church love controversy because it helps her sharpen her wits; she loves it also for its own sake. The Church is accused of being the enemy of reason; as a matter of fact, she is the only one who believes in it. Using her reason in the Council of the Vatican, she officially went on record in favor of Rationalism, and declared, against the mock humility of the Agnostics and the sentimental faith of the Fideists, that human reason by its own power can know something besides the contents of test tubes and retorts, and that working on mere sensible phenomena it can soar even to the "hid battlements of eternity," there to discover the Timeless beyond time and the Spaceless beyond space which is God, the Alpha and Omega of all things.

THE Church asks her children to think hard and think clean. Then she asks them to do two things with their thoughts: First, she asks them to externalize them in the concrete world of economics, government, commerce, and education, and by this externalization of beautiful, clean thoughts to produce a beautiful and clean civilization.

THE quality of any civilization depends upon the nature of the thoughts its great minds bequeath to it. If the thoughts that are externalized in the press, in the senate chamber, on the public platform, are base, civilization itself will take on their base character with the same readiness with which a chameleon takes on the color of the object upon which it is placed. But if the thoughts that are vocalized and articulated are high and lofty, civilization will be filled, like a crucible, with the gold of the things worth while.

THE Church asks her children not only to externalize their thoughts and thus produce culture, but also to internalize their thoughts and thus produce spirituality. The constant giving would be dissipation unless new energy was supplied from within. In fact, before a thought can be bequeathed to the outside, it must have been born on the inside. But no thought is born without silence and contemplation. It is in the stillness and quiet of one's own intellectual pastures, wherein man meditates on the purpose of life and its goal, that real and true character is developed. A character is made by the kind of thoughts a man thinks when alone, and a civilization is made by the kind of thoughts a man speaks to his neighbor.

ON the other hand, the Church discourages bad thinking, for a bad thought set loose is more dangerous than a wild man. Thinkers live; toilers die in a day. When society finds it is too late to electrocute a thought, it electrocutes the man. There was once a time when Christian society burned the thought in order to save society, and after all, something can be said in favor of this practice. To kill one bad thought may mean the salvation of ten thousand thinkers. The Roman emperors were alive to this fact; they killed the Christians not because they wanted their hearts, but because they wanted their heads, or better, their brains—brains that were thinking out the death of Paganism.

It is to this task of thinking out the death of New Paganism that these chapters of the third volume of Radio Replies by Fathers Rumble and Carty are published.

                                                                   Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen, Ph.D., D.D., L.L.D.







THIS third volume of questions submitted to us concerning the Catholic Church   and   her   teachings,   together   with   the   answers   to   them,   is intended to complete our series of RADIO REPLIES offered to the public in  book form.   For the sake of reference and comparison this third volume also has been made to correspond as closely as possible with the two volumes previously published so far as the division of its contents is concerned.

An Inexhaustible Subject

Our three volumes of RADIO REPLIES do not claim to have exhausted all  possible problems where religion  is involved.   Far from it.   According to their various fields of study men could go on almost forever proposing difficulties suggested by their readings in history, philosophy, theology, science, ethics, psychology, or comparative religion. Indeed the Catholic Church, for nearly two thousand years, has been listening to the difficulties proposed by all types of men through all the ages. And to every individual who comes to her today with the request that she first solve his own little collection of viewpoints which seem to militate against the truth of Catholicism she can say, “Tell me all you have against the Catholic religion, and when you have done. I will tell you ten thousand further difficulties you have neither heard of nor could think of for yourself.” It would be a vast mistake, therefore, to imagine that the Catholic Church is unaware of the difficulties which can arise in any human mind where religion is concerned. I say this because many a man has come to me with a difficulty under the impression that it is insoluble, and that no one before him has ever adverted to it. And he has found it rather disconcerting to learn that it is an old objection; one, perhaps, which has been proposed and demolished a thousand times in each recurring age.


Our three volumes, then, do not pretend to exhaust all  possible problems in the field of religion. They contain but a classified selection of typical questions and answers chosen from a vast mass of material accumulated during twelve years of radio work and public lectures in which non-Catholics were invited to express their difficulties in the way of accepting Catholicism. And we maintain that these three volumes, or any one of them, will at least solve the particular difficulties listed, establish the truth of the Catholic Church, and provide the principles which will prove valid in the solution of all other possible submissions.

TheTrue Approach

Of course the man who sincerely desires the truth, and is earnestly seeking it, soon learns that if he waits until  all possible difficulties which could invade his mind are solved he will never attain to the true religion in this life. Life is too short  for that. He would arrive at his deathbed still with a host of difficulties unsolved, having ignored what is certain because of the tangle of his uncertainties. What every man needs to do is to ponder over the certainties, make them his positive conviction, and act according to them, trusting that more and more of his uncertainties will be clarified in due course. A track through a jungle to the mountaintop is not non-existent because the man entangled by difficulties in the jungle is unaware of it. And ,when such a man is informed that he will find the track if he but turns in another direction, he does not ignore the advice in favour of triumphing over all the difficulties along the wrong way of approach. That is, if he really does want to get to the mountaintop. The uncertainty as to whether he can get through that way he is content to leave unsolved whilst he makes use of the certain path that has been brought to his notice. So, too, the man too entangled in religious difficulties to see anything else will make no progress until he learns to abstract from them and consider the certain and positive aspects of Catholic truth. There he will find more than enough to justify unwavering confidence in the Catholic Church, and a practical way of life calculated to secure his spiritual welfare both in this world and the next.


Use of These Books

The three volumes of RADIO REPLIES are not primarily  intended as reference books. Their full force will be perceived only by reading each of them from cover to cover, for thus only will the logic and consistency of the Catholic position be fully apprehended. Truth is consistent; error almost infinite in its variations. Often enough, indeed, the objections to the Catholic Church, if set side by side, would cancel each other out of existence. But in dealing with everything that can be urged against her the Catholic Church never finds herself compelled to unsay anything. In answering difficulties from the most diverse points of view, even the most contradictory, she never contradicts herself, having to unsay to one opponent what she has maintained in her replies to another. And it is this consistency, the hallmark of truth, which has appealed to the intelligence of thousands of converts who, by further study, prayer, and the grace of God, have completed their journey towards the truth, and have happily sought admission to the Catholic Church. Primarily, therefore, the books are intended for such continuous and consecutive reading that their full import may thus be grasped.

As Reference and Study Manuals

But after such use as above advocated, the books retain their value as works of reference, and this  for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  It is for this purpose that each volume has been so thoroughly indexed. As for study-clubs, testimonies to the value of these apologetic works are being constantly received. In many study-circles the questions only are put to the members, and the replies they themselves jot down on paper are then checked with those given in the books. Converts under instruction have told me that they, too, have adopted this method, with great profit to themselves, and an immense clarification of their ideas on the subject of religion.

A Personal Note

And  now,  with  this  third  and   last  series of  RADIO REPLIES,   I   would   like   to   offer  our   readers a final personal remark. I was brought up as a Protestant, probably with more inherited prejudices than most non-Catholics of these days. It is some thirty years since, in God's providence, I became a Catholic. Not content with that, I have also become a priest. I cannot therefore be charged with not knowing the Catholic Church thoroughly from within. And all I can say is this: had I found the Catholic Church as evil as I had been led to believe it was, had I found out that I had made a tragic mistake in becoming a Catholic, it is perhaps conceivable that pride might keep me from admitting my error. It would be possible to adopt the attitude of desperate obstinacy which says, "I have made my bed, and will lie upon it." But I am not entirely inhuman. And I would be man enough to advise other prospective converts against making the same fatal mistake. Privately, at least, I would say to inquirers, "I have made wreckage of my own life, and I am going to continue doing so. But there's no need for two of us to do so. You are still outside the Catholic Church, and I advise you to stay outside. If you have any love for your own soul, remain as you are." Yet, did I give such advice, incalculable would be my guilt before God. For the Catholic Church is not evil. She is the one true Church of Christ in this world, the very "pillar and ground of truth." And instead of saving people from it, I am constrained to labour to bring as many people as possible to it, knowing that I am thus bringing the greatest of God's blessings into their lives. Nor is there one of the hundreds of converts I have received into the Catholic Church who has not gratefully acknowledged the fact. What can I wish to the non-Catholic reader, then, except this same great happiness and blessing? It is in this wish that Father Carty joins with me as we offer this third series of RADIO REPLIES to a public that has already shown such appreciation of the previous volumes.

                                                                                                 LESLIE RUMBLE, M.S.C.






(Numbers refer to paragraphs.)




Reason proves God's existence, 1-3; Primitive monotheism, 4; Mystery of God's inner nature, 5-10; Personality of God, 11-13; Providence of God and the problem of evil, 14-26.



Immortal destiny of man, 27-35; Can earth give true happiness? 36-39; Do human souls evolve? 40-46; Is transmigration possible? 47; Animal souls, 48-56; Fatalism, 57-59; Freedom of will, 60-71; Free will and Faith, 72-77.



Religion and God, 78-79; The duty of prayer, 80-91; The mysteries of religion, 92-94; Can we believe in miracles? 95-106.



Historical character of the Gospels, 107-109; Canonical Books of the Bible, 110-112; Original Manuscripts, 113-117; Copyists' errors, 118-122; Truth of the Bible, 123-146; New Testament "contradictions," 147-156.



Christianity alone true, 157-159; Not the product of religious experience, 160-163; Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc., 164-176; Rejected by modern Jews, 177-179; The demand for miracles, 180-181; The necessity of faith, 182-189; Difficulties not doubts, 190-193; Proofs available, 194-196; Dispositions of unbelievers, 197-200.



One religion not as good as another, 201-205; Changing one's religion, 206-212; Catholic convictions and zeal, 213-215; Religious controversy, 216-219; The curse of bigotry, 220-232; Towards a solution, 233-235.


Efforts at the reunion of the Churches, 236-242; The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church," 243-249; Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church, 250-254; The "Old Catholics" of Holland. 255-257; Reunion Conferences, 258-262; Catholic Unity, 263-267; The Papacy as Reunion Center, 268-279; Protestant hostility to Catholicism, 280-283; The demands of charity, 284.



Necessity of a Church, 285-289; The true Church, 290-293; Catholic claim absolute, 294-298; A clerical hierarchy, 299-330; Papal Supremacy, 331-365; Temporal Power, 366-372; Infallibility, 373-408; Unity of the Church, 409-413; Holiness of the Church, 414-460; Catholicity of the Church, 461-473; Catholic attitude to converts, 474-477; Indefectible Apos-tolicity, 478-486; Necessity of becoming a Catholic, 487-505.



Catholic belief in the Bible, 506; Bible-reading and private interpretation, 507-517; Value of Tradition and the "Fathers," 518-525; Guidance of the Church necessary, 526-530.





Dogmatic certainty, 531-532; Credal statements, 533-541; Faith and reason, 542-550; The voice of science, 551-558; Fate of rationalists, 559-566; The dogma of the Trinity, 567-577; Creation and evolution, 578-589; The existence of angels, 590-592; Evil spirits or devils, 593-606; Man's eternal destiny, 607-635; The fact of sin, 636-689; Nature and work of Christ, 690-746; Mary, the Mother of God, 747-769; Grace and salvation, 770-795; The Sacraments, 796-798; Baptism, 799-819; Confession, 820-846; Holy Eucharist, 847-865; The Sacrifice of the Mass, 866-868; Holy Communion, 869-877: Marriage and divorce, 878-907; Extreme Unction, 908-911; Man's death and judgment, 912-916; Hell, 917-940; Purgatory, 941-958; Indulgences, 959-964; Heaven, 965-976; Resurrection of the body, 977-930; End of the World, 981-993.



Conscience, 994-995; Justice, 996; Truth. 997-999; Charity, 1000-1001; Catholic intolerance, 1002-1014; Persecution, 1015-1018; The Spanish Inquisition, 1019-1026; Prohibition of Books, 1027-1041; Liberty of worship, 1042-1048; Forbidden Societies, 1049-1058; Cremation, 1059-1078; Church attendance.1079-1082; The New Psychology, 1083-1091; Psychoanalysis, 1092-1094; Deterministic philosophy, 1095-1118 Sterilization, 1119; Marriage legislation, 1120-1153; Birth prevention, 1154-1168: Celibacy, 1095-1118  Monastic Life, 1186-1194; Convent Life, 1195-1203; Euthanasia, 1204-1215; Vivisection, 1216-1246; Legal defense of murderers, 1247-1250; Lawyers and divorce proceedings, 1251-1263; Judges in Divorce, 1264-1265; Professional secrecy, 1266.



Why Build Churches? 1267-1274; Glamor of Ritual, 1275-1285; The ''Lord's Prayer," 1286-1288; Pagan derivations, 1289-1307; Liturgical symbolism, 1308-1312; Use of Latin, 1313-1318; Intercession of Mary and the Saints, 1319-1330.



The Church and education, 1331-1346; The Social Problem, 1347-1350; Social duty of the Church, 1351-1358: Catholicism and Capitalism, 1359-1364.





Reason proves God's existence

1. Does not scientific opinion tend to be agnostic, and to regard the existence of a Supreme Being as incapable of verification?

Some scientists who are proficient in certain limited experimental spheres may profess to be agnostics. But when they do so they are not speaking in virtue of any scientific knowledge they possess. They have gone outside the field in which they are proficient into a field in which they are not proficient. Often they have given so much attention to their own little field of inquiry that they have paid no attention to the rational explanation of the universe as a whole. They study the thing caused, but do not reflect upon the ultimate cause of all reality. And knowing little of the subject, they foolishly think nothing is to he known, forgetting their own limitations. Some do this. Not all. And thousands of great scientists have not been agnostic. They have devoted some thought to the subject instead of uttering hasty opinions. Thus Lord Kelvin said that science positively confirms creative power. Marconi recently spoke as follows: "It is a mistake to think that science and faith cannot exist together. There is too much atheism today. There are too many people just drifting along without any aim or ideal or belief. Faith in the Supreme Being whose rule we must obey can alone give us the courage and strength to face the great mystery of life." One cannot go through an endless stream of quotations. No one, of course, believes that the existence of the Supreme Being is capable of verification by methods proper to experimental science. But His existence is capable of verification by reason; and science does not tend to the denial of this in properly instructed and well-balanced minds.

2. People argue from the order prevailing in the universe to the existence of an intelligent God.

They do; and rightly so.

3. How do we know that it is not in the nature of things themselves to act in an orderly way, according to a plan?

We know that it is not in the nature of created things of themselves to act in an orderly way according to a plan, for if they are working towards the fulfillment of a plan, there is a constant adaption of means to an end, which supposes an intelligence which has both formulated the plan, and perceived the fitting relationship between given means and the given end to be attained. Now blind matter is not endowed with intelligence. Nor can mere chance produce order. Scatter indiscriminately over the ground thousands of letters written on slips of paper, they will never by mere chance fall together in such a way as to make, say, an oration of Cicero. Now the only intelligent beings in the world are men. But prior to the advent of men to this world, order prevailed. It can be accounted for only by an extra-mundane Intelligence. As surely as it needs intelligence to understand the order prevailing in the universe, it needed intelligence to produce it. Employing all the resources of his intelligence, a genius may devote the whole of his life to a study of the orderly arrangement of crystals. Will he ascribe the whole of the universe to an intelligence so much less than his own that he calls it a blind force? The moment one speaks of the laws of the universe, he speaks of a legislator. And all legislation supposes intelligence, even though human legislation indicates often enough how badly employed human intelligence can be. If it be in the very nature of certain things to tend in an orderly way towards the realization of a plan, that tendency was implanted in their nature by the Supreme Intelligence responsible for the plan; and that Supreme Intelligence is God.

Primitive Monotheism

4. Did not humanity originally begin with polytheism, and gradually evolve towards monotheism?

No. Humanity began with monotheism, and multitudes degenerated into polytheism. At first sight the most primitive traditions found in the Vedic books seem polytheistic; but a deeper scrutiny shows an individual Deity, and indicates that the plurality of gods is really a plurality of effects or created manifestations. This ancient tradition was a survival of the primitive convictions of our first parents. But even as the Jews were always prone to fall into polytheism despite the special protection of God, so the Gentile nations degenerated in their religious notions, and the idea of a plurality of gods became quite common among the rank and file of peoples. The great Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Plato, though in general practice conforming to popular notions, discerned, however, by reason that polytheism was absurd, and theoretically maintained that there could be but one Deity. They saw that polytheism was an error, and that error supposes a truth of which it is the corruption. They both allude to ancient traditions confirming their views. Philologically, also, no plural terms existed prior to singular terms precisely because multitude is subsequent to unity; and the notion of a plurality of gods presupposed a notion of the one God.

Mystery of God's inner nature

5. You do not believe that the universe can be explained in terms of the material only.

Most certainly I do not. The mere materialist offers explanations which do not even deserve a place in the catalog of errors. They are too puerile. Of visible things materialism gives explanations one would expect from a prattling baby or from a lunatic. Of invisible things and spiritual things it gives no explanation at all. It constructs bodies with smaller bodies, like a child playing with a set of blocks, and it gets quite out of breath by the time it gets to things of the mind. It contradicts itself by speaking of laws of matter, for a law is a decree formulated by reason, and reason is not material. Materialists are inconsequent people who prove God every time they speak in order to deny Him. For at the back of every denial of God there is the idea of God. No man can believe in truth, or appreciate goodness, or seek happiness, without tending towards the Author of these things. Yet each of these ideas leads to God. Materialism is not rational; and its only real appeal lies in the fact that it makes the universe the magnificent plaything of man's pride, and gives him a free field for his passions.

6. Is it not reasonable to suppose a purely physical cause of which we as yet know nothing?

I must ask you what you mean by a "purely physical" cause. God is a physical, though not a material Being. If you intend a material cause, I say that the supposition is not reasonable; for the material cannot produce the spiritual. Thought itself is in the spiritual order, and so is the soul which produces thought. You would scorn the idea that a telegraph pole spontaneously began to produce peaches. Yet the proportion between a telegraph pole and peaches is much less than that between matter and spirit.

Again, if we as yet know nothing of the cause of all things, why is it reasonable to suppose that cause to be "purely physical"-whatever you mean by that- yet not reasonable to suppose it to be the Personal God we Christians accept? As a matter of fact, I maintain that a Personal God is the only reasonable explanation.

7. Because we do not yet know of such a purely physical cause, is that in itself sufficient reason to assert a Divine Cause?

Apparently, by "purely physical" cause you mean some blind force. Now I admit that because, we do not know of such a purely physical cause we would not be justified in asserting a Divine Cause. But what if, instead of merely "not" knowing of a purely physical cause which could produce this universe, we "know'' that no such blind force could do so? And we do know that. The order and obvious design so evident in the universe insist that the Cause be intelligent and personal. And the very supremacy of that Cause supposes Divinity, or a Cause which is itself not an effect, but uncaused, and above all created limitations. Divinity is but a term reserved for an uncreated Being outside and above the created order, and rejoicing in limitless perfections.

8. Despite all your arguments, I refuse to believe in a God we can't understand.

That is unreasonable. In any case, you can understand that there is a God, even though you cannot fully understand the nature of God. God must surpass the capacity of the human mind or He would not be God at all. You must not confuse mystery with absurdity. Tell me that blind matter produced the universe, and I admit the absurdity. But mystery is the very opposite of absurdity. The absurd is false, contradictory, incoherent. But mystery is a truth whose immensity surpasses us. When we speak of God, what we say is true as far as it goes. But human ideas will never go far enough to express God completely. We must express God as best we can, though we shall never fully succeed in expressing God as He is. And I, for one, would not believe in God unless He did surpass my own limited concepts.

9. Since God is infinite, and the finite human mind cannot conceive the infinite, God must be thoroughly incomprehensible to us.

God is not thoroughly incomprehensible to us. We can attain to a certain degree of knowledge concerning Him, even though we cannot form an adequate concept of Him. The finite human mind can conceive the fact that there is a Being not finite as are the things that Being has made. It can affirm perfections of God, denying the imperfections associated with limited creatures, and attributing the purified perfections to Him in an altogether higher and nobler order of being. Any perfections affirmed of God must be with the proviso that God transcends created nature and that we intend them as they must be in an order above that of nature. In other words, we intend them as they are in the supernatural order and as known to God Himself. Even as an animal can know that a human being has certain knowledge, without comprehending the precise quality of that knowledge, so human beings can know that God possesses certain perfections without fully comprehending their precise quality as they are in God.

10. I have heard God spoken of as Elohim, Jehovah, Yahweh, Eternal Father, the Infinite King, Divine Providence, and in many other ways. Is any one of these names capable of defining God completely?

No one word can define the whole of the significance of God. Our concepts or thoughts are derived from created things; and there can be as many diverse thoughts in our minds as there are varying perfections in created things. The infinite plentitude of God's perfection is too great to be comprehended in any single human concept, and our small intelligence has to speak of God in partial and inadequate concepts. Thus even in the one concept of the Pope we have many implied and different aspects. The same person is Bishop of Rome, Head of the Church, Chief Shepherd, Supreme Teacher, Holy Father, etc. If I allude to him under one of these titles, all the rest is implied. And whether I speak of God as Eternal Father, or King, or Divine Providence, or Jehovah, or under any other accepted term, I successfully call attention to the Being I intend; and all that that Being implies in Himself is included, even though I neither express nor fully grasp it.

Personality of God

11. You constantly allude to God as if God were a person. Can God be truly a personal Being?

God is truly personal. We know that the being and vitality of man is conscious and personal, and that by life, consciousness, and personality, man is higher than inanimate things. Therefore God, infinitely higher than man in the scale of perfection, is living, conscious, and personal.

12. Is the term person capable of being used to define an infinite entity?

It is capable of being applied to an infinite entity, though its significance from our point of view falls short of the reality as it is in God. For example, a stone is a being and a man is a being. The word "being" is equally true of each, though one who knew only stones would not know of its full implication in man. So, too, man is personal, and God is personal. Person is true of each. But we, who have experimental knowledge only of human persons, do not know its full implication in God. Yet, though there is not absolute identity of concept, there is a true analogy of concept; and in revealing that He is personal, God has conveyed the real truth to us in a way adapted to our lesser capacity.

13. When you call God "Father" do you not imply that there is sex in God, and that He is masculine?

No. The word "Father" is used of God, not to imply that He is of the masculine gender, a quality proper to material bodies, but merely to denote our production by God; and this, not as by some blind mechanical force, but by an intelligent and loving Principle of Being. The word '"Father" is the nearest human expression suitable for the proportionate truth to be declared. As directly drawn from human beings, of course, the word implies procreation by mutual cooperation between the sexes, and that supposes masculine and feminine. But when applied to God abstraction is made from the mode or process of production, and the sense is restricted to the fact of our production by God, and to the parental dispositions of God towards us. We thus express in our human way a characteristic which is really in God, though not precisely as it is in man. God is truly a Father to us.

Providence of God and the Problem of Evil

14. If God's providence rules all things, is it not an insult to Him to put lightning conductors on Churches?

No. It would be an insult and a sin of presumption to expect God to do immediately those things which we ourselves are capable of doing with such powers as He has bestowed upon us. He does not give us our natural intelligence for nothing, but expects us to use it. We are expected always to do all that we are capable of doing, and then we ask God to supply for our incapacity in things beyond our ability.

15. Face the dilemma. God could either prevent evils or not. If He can but will not, He is not good; if He cannot, He is not all powerful.

That dilemma is invalid. If a dilemma is to be valid, the disjunction must be complete, exhausting all possibilities. There must be no room for the reply, "Datur tertium"-there is a third possibility. Your dilemma fails, if evil and pain and suffering be useful. What if the evils we see in this world are the necessary condition of a higher good? What if, still more, they be indispensable to the progress of man and the realization of his destiny-if some day they are to be compensated by an eternity of happiness? In any case, for a dilemma to be valid, the inference from each alternative in itself must be certain and indisputable. Neither of your alternatives is even reasonable.

16. Do you say that even God cannot prevent these evils?

Absolutely speaking, God could annihilate the whole of creation, and then, of course, there would be no problem of evils in the universe. But granted that God wants this type of world, then pain and suffering are a necessary condition; and it was certainly better to permit them than not to create a universe in which it was possible for them to occur.

As it is, your very terms involve a contradiction. In practice, the assertion that if God cannot remove all pain He is not all powerful means, where physical pain is concerned, that if God cannot have sensitive beings without their being sensitive, He is not all powerful! For, granted the power of sensation, our sensations will be pleasant and unpleasant even with the variations of the weather! Where moral evil is concerned, your assertion means, "If God cannot have free and morally responsible beings who are not really free and morally responsible, He is not all powerful." For granted freedom of will, moral evil is a necessary possibility.

17. Since you cannot appeal to sin, free will, and a future life in the case of animals, why do they have to suffer pain?

I would have to be God to give you a completely satisfactory answer to that question. To a certain extent, therefore, the problem must be left amongst the thousand and one mysteries which defy human solution. However, I can suggest certain points which may help to some understanding of the problem.

Firstly, it is better to be a vegetable than a mineral. A vegetable at least has life and growth, and is admittedly a more perfect thing than a stone.

Secondly, it is better to be a dog than a dandelion. The dog is not only living; it has sensitive life, and is able to enjoy many pleasant sensations denied to dandelions. But the price of additional sensitive perfection is pain. If a being is endowed with the power of sensation, it will endure sensations both pleasant and painful. And as even God could not create a sensitive being which would have no sensations, He must have seen that the pleasant ones would compensate for the painful ones. If you concentrate on the capacity for pain, and forget the capacity for pleasure, you might think it better not to have created such beings, and that life is not worth living for them. But no animal feels that. If a cat eats a mouse, the very protests of the mouse show how it likes being alive. You yourself would pity the mouse for being deprived of its life rather than the cat for the misery of being fed and compelled to live longer.

18. But there are individual cases where the compensations seem entirely inadequate.

There are, and they necessarily baffle us. But even so, we must beware of reading human attributes into the merely animal world, interpreting the sufferings of animals in terms of our own experiences. It would be a grave error to think that animals suffer in the way we do: for they lack our power of reflex thought. Then, too, we must not endow them with personal moral rights which they do not possess.


19. That doesn't alter the fact that animals suffer.

I agree. We cannot do more than appeal to the greater good. And it is a question of the general good as opposed to the individual good. The sum-total of pleasure in the animal world more than compensates for the sum-total of unavoidable pain. There is also the good of man to be considered. There is no violation of reason in the thought that God should permit physical pain, which does not involve moral evil, in order to procure the good of a higher order. Granted that God wished to create just such a universe as this, the unpleasant sensations of sensitive beings are absolutely necessary for the universal good. If all physical pain were eliminated, inferior beings would no longer be the means of existence to superior beings.

Many beautiful fauna would never exist. Also, if animals did not live on animals, they would multiply beyond all proportion, and then earth would be littered with rotting carcasses. The general good presupposes such physical evils in such a world as this.

20. It seems to me that you folk who believe in God are the most forebearing folk in the world,

I suppose you feel that if you believed in God you would tell Him what to do. But only one who does not believe in God can think like that. Did you believe in God you would realize that He is not subject to you, but that you are subject to Him. He is not answerable to us for His conduct. We are answerable to Him for ours. Meantime, it is because we believe in God that we have a solution for the troubles of this life which makes them bearable, however serious they may seem. Dissatisfaction is proper to those who do not believe in God. Their rejection of God does not diminish their trials. It merely deprives them of the consolation which good Christians experience in the midst of them.

21. You should not seek your God's forgiveness; He should seek yours.

Such a remark illustrates a great truth. As men cease to believe in and esteem God, they begin to believe in and esteem themselves. They lose the sense of sin, and become more and more unconscious of their moral failings. Thus, it is quite common for unbelievers to assert that they do not believe in religion, and at once to catalog their own virtues. Almost instinctively they add. "I don't pray, but I'm as good as those who do. I live a good clean life, owe no man anything, help my fellow men, etc." Conscious of their rectitude they feel that they deserve only the best; and naturally they resent misfortune. They smart under suffering and trial with a sense of injured innocence. And they cry out that, if there be a God, He is greatly to be blamed. Conscious only of their own virtue, they do not dream that they need any forgiveness. But believing their sufferings undeserved, they talk of God begging their pardon.

On the other hand, the more one believes in and esteems God, the less he believes in and esteems himself. Any good that is in him he attributes to God; and he is keenly conscious of his own shortcomings as being his own work. Aware of his sins, he is not astonished that suffering and trial should be his lot. Instead of thinking that he deserves only the best, he knows that he deserves only the worst. He therefore asks God to forgive him his sins: and is grateful to God for treating him so much more gently than justice would demand.

22. Where you define pain as something negative, millions of tortured creatures give the strongest evidence that it is something decidedly positive.

The fact that creatures positively experience pain does not alter the fact that evil as such is not a positive entity owing its creation to God.


23. Do you believe literally in God as Creator of all things, visible and invisible?

Yes. But remember that things, whether visible or invisible, are things insofar as they have positive being. Now try to follow carefully this treatment of the subject.

Evil, as such, whether physical or moral, is not a positive entity, but is a privation of due perfection. God has created every positive entity, but He does not directly produce those privations of perfection which are called evils.

Take the physical evil of a decayed tooth. God is the cause of all the positive being involved. That part of the tooth which is not yet decayed, but which is still good, owes its existence to God. The existent nerves owe their being to God, and are good nerves. Their perfectly good registrations letting us know that the tooth is out of order are due to God's causality. But the real evil is the absence of healthy tooth and of right order in the nerves. Even the germs which consumed the tooth are quite good germs so far as their being goes. Even the process of consuming the tooth was excellent as a process.

But the evil element is reduced to absence of order and absence of healthy tooth; and absences of perfection are not caused by any positive action of God. God permits them, if you wish, insofar as He does not choose to prevent corrosive processes, or to produce good tooth as fast as it is eaten away.

In all this I do not deny that pain is a positive experience. Owing to the absence of healthy tooth, there is quite a positive vibration of the exposed nerve giving positively painful registrations. But the positive action is a good activity; the evil is merely lack of due order. And whilst God is the Creator of all positive entity, He is not the Creator of a lack of what should be there.

The same principle applies to moral evil. The will, and the action by which I choose are good in themselves. The evil is the lack of moral rectitude-again an absence of something which should normally be there. And God does not cause the absence of what should be present.

Why He permits the nonexistence or the privation of due order in created things is another question. We are dealing with the causality of God. God is not the cause of evil as such.

24. How can you admit that evil is positively experienced by us, yet deny its very existence?

I do not admit that we positively experience evil. We positively experience good registrations telling us that perfection is wanting. The registrations are positive, but they tell us of an absence of perfection. Positive entities alone really exist -good thus far-which lack the full measure of goodness which they ought to have. The evil is the privation or limitation of entity, not an entity itself.

25. Why did not God create a different type of world, and not this one?

That question is not yours to ask. God would not be God if He had to depend on the future approval of your judgment before He dared to act. If you reply, "Then I don't believe there is a God," you violate reason. And you will find the universe a much greater problem without God than any I have to face. If you say, "God does exist, but He is not good, or not entirely good," you contradict yourself, for once you introduce any limitation of perfection in God, then He is no longer God at all. The only reasonable position is to say, "God is a fact. Suffering is a fact. I do not fully comprehend why God should have permitted suffering, nor how He adjusts compensations which seem to me to be required if justice is to prevail. But that I do not fully comprehend these things does not surprise me, since there are thousands of lesser problems than this which I have failed to solve. Therefore, I can only conclude that, if I do not understand things, I do not understand them. But I am not going to deny what is certain, and maintain that my finite intelligence ought to be able to comprehend everything-a comprehension the possibility of which experience absolutely denies."

26. These difficulties have caused thousands of men to abandon religion.

Their own dispositions have caused men to abandon religion. Some men have made this problem the excuse even as other men have advanced other excuses. But any man who would neglect those religious and moral obligations which he can clearly understand merely because he cannot understand mysteries which he cannot be expected to understand is as foolish, and more so, than a man who would rather sit in darkness than switch on the electric light on the score that he doesn't understand just what electricity is!





Immortal Destiny of Man

27. Don't you think that the idea of immortality is due merely to the desire to live on?

I know that it is not due merely to that. Men without any desire to live on have the conviction. At the same time normal people do desire to live on, and by such an irrepressible tendency that we must admit it to be a clear indication of immortality. I do not say that everything a person wants to be true is necessarily true. But here we have, not a transitory wish, not a momentary craving, but a natural tendency implanted in our very nature and always with us. Aristotle said long ago that "nature does nothing in vain." The eye demands light; and there is light. Our very constitution demands air; and there is air. And it is part of our very nature to look forward to immortality. All men experience this urge at times. They have not to persuade themselves that they will live on. They have to try to persuade themselves that they will not. Or else they just forget it. However, in addition to this argument from purposive tendencies there are other reasons of equal and greater weight. The very nature of thought shows the soul to be immaterial, and not subject to the laws of disintegration and destruction which govern all material things. We must consider, also, the facts of the moral law and the necessity of ultimate justice. All these arguments, taken together, are quite satisfactory to reason. If people say that they are not satisfied by such considerations, it is because they unreasonably expect too much. We cannot expect to prove the immortality of the soul as we can prove that lead is heavy by testing it on a pair of scales. But there are different orders of being with different orders of proof. Who would be so unreasonable as to deny the existence of humility because it can't be bought by the pound? All the reasonable proof of the immortality of the soul man can rightly demand is available.

28. Would you please amplify the evidence that the human soul is immortal.

Reason tells us that the soul is a spirit, not composed of parts like material things, and unable to disintegrate and go to pieces like material things. All corruption is disintegration of parts. But the soul has no parts. It is not a composite thing. It is a simple spiritual substance; and it must, of its very nature, continue when the body perishes. Again, all men as naturally judge that the soul is immortal as they are conscious that they exist. They do not have to persuade themselves that it is true, but that it is false. Man's intelligence, if not warped, seeks the truth for which it is built. It cannot rest contented with a lie. Left to itself it spontaneously judges immortality to be a truth; and this universal judgment cannot be doubted without casting suspicion on all our faculties. Furthermore. God has established a moral law written on the conscience of men. He knows and loves the moral order He has established. And He is infinitely just. It is certain that right conduct cannot be ultimately the worse for a good man; evil conduct cannot ultimately be for the good of an evil man. Things will be leveled up somewhere. Yet certainly they are not leveled up in this life. Public laws and human justice cannot cover interior wickedness. Honors are often conferred on the unworthy. An evil man has less remorse of conscience over a serious crime than a good man over a small fault. Since things are not rectified in this life, they will be in the next, and the responsible element of man will have to be there. It is not the body, which we have seen die and which will rise only on the last day; it is the soul. From the viewpoint of fact, God has revealed that man's soul is immortal; and Christ raised at least three people to life from the dead, recalling their souls to their bodies, besides rising Himself in the Resurrection after His death on the Cross.

29. I know that it's nice to believe that the soul is immortal when you feel sure of eternal happiness. But, if you look out of yourself, and think of the millions lost, it is not a very nice thought.

If immortality is a fact, it does not matter whether it is nice or not to think it. Our likes and dislikes cannot alter the fact. If it is true, it is each man's plain duty to save his soul; for if he loses that, all is indeed lost. So Christ put the question, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, if he suffer the loss of his soul?" Meantime, there is no need to think of the millions lost. To all men God gives sufficient grace for their salvation. Only those are lost who sin despite the known will of God, and die without repentance.

30. Cicero said that when he read a book proving the soul immortal, he believed it; but when he read a book against it, he did not believe it.

Such a stray remark on occasional states of mind proves nothing. No one maintains that the conviction of immortality is one which may never momentarily become obscured. A man reading arguments against a given doctrine, and not immediately perceiving the answer to them, may arrive at vague doubts, and speak hesitatingly. But even with Cicero, nature reasserted itself, and in the end he said it must be so. However, what this individual or that has thought or said avails nothing against the general judgment of mankind.

31. All my own inclinations are to believe it. But desirability does not make it true.

I have already given you reasons independent of man's natural inclinations. But even your inclinations here are a reliable indication. I admit that we do not find sufficient justification for believing a doctrine merely because it is a pleasant concept. But if you find yourself endowed by nature with deep-seated inclinations tending necessarily towards it, things are very different. This does not count for nothing. If all our thoughts go one way, if we have needs, desires, aims, and aspirations, all of which demand an object, and imply by their own very existence that that object does exist also, then that object must exist. Could anyone conceive that God would form that most delicate organ of hearing, the ear, so wonderfully adapted to every kind of vibration, yet endow no objects with the power of causing sound? The whole tendency of the ear would be to hear, yet it would never do so because its complementary object would be wanting. Every natural tendency implies and has an object. More, if nothing in this life really and completely satisfies the soul, and if there be a message professing to be from God, teaching us that of which we already have the presentiment, and to provide the means to attain the destiny of happiness we crave, surely it is deserving of our attention. And whilst I am at it, let me suggest to you that it is the Catholic religion above all others in this world that is most deserving of your attention.

32. Is it pride of intellect that makes one agnostic on this subject, or just inability to have any firm conviction?

No man is unable to have a firm conviction of a future life. And I do not think agnosticism on this point is due to pride of intellect. There would certainly be no grounds for such pride. The agnostic who says that he does not know whether death ends all or not is one who is simply unintelligent, or who refuses to think about the subject at all, or who pretends not to have a conviction which he really does possess, but which he constantly tries to repress for reasons best known to himself.

33. Have you ever seen the other world?

Apart from the indications of reason in favor of immortality, One who has seen the future life of millions who have already gone from this world, and who knows what awaits us, has given us all the information we need. God Himself has stepped in, and speaking by the prophets, and by His own Son, has told us of the future for which we must prepare. And Christ had only one word for the man who does not prepare-fool! To the rich man who had neglected all thought of life after death He said, "Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee." Take my advice, and think out this matter more carefully.

34. Belief in immortality is most harmful. It diverts men's attention from the good they can do in this life.

It does just the opposite. It inspires still greater works of devotedness and charity in the cause of humanity for the love of God. And the doctrine is in the best interests of man. All mankind lifts its voice with mine. Generation after generation has agreed. In fact, it is part of man's very nature. The conviction of a future life is so deeply ingrained that it could not be based on a lie. It is as true an instinct as that of a baby which carries everything to its mouth, knowing that thus it will be nourished, though it can explain nothing about the processes of nutrition. Destroy man's conviction of immortality, and he degenerates, even as the fish taken out of the sea will perish, or the tree torn up by the roots will die. Most of those who deny immortality are interested in denying it. Nor are they very convinced themselves of their position against immortality. They have no proofs whatever. They deny, because they don't want to prepare for it.

35. Why do you Christians want a future life?

Why do you want to know that? You will say, "Well, it is natural for a man to desire knowledge." So I say that it is natural for man to desire further life beyond the few years earthly existence can offer.

Can Earth Give True Happiness?

36. I am perfectly happy in this world, and will be quite content if death ends all.

No man is either perfectly happy or perfectly miserable in this life. Life is a succession of days alternating between joy and suffering. There are enough miseries in this life to prevent perfect happiness, yet enough happiness to compel us to look beyond this world for the complete fulfillment of lawful hopes. If death did end all, of course, you would be neither contented nor discontented. You would be nonexistent. And it is absurd to say that you are perfectly happy, and to give that as a reason for being content even now with the prospect of death ending all. If you said that you were perfectly miserable and that you longed for death to end everything, you would speak more intelligently, even though that, too, would be an exaggeration.

37. So you deny that I am perfectly happy?

Yes. You will never come to a stage when all your desires are quite satisfied whilst you are still in this life. If you were perfectly happy, and in want of nothing more, why did you bother writing in order to secure a further knowledge you did not possess? One who has all he wants seeks nothing more.

38. It is enough for a man if the good he does lives after him.

You are impelled to say that by the very desire of immortality. It is the effort to conquer time. Why should you want anything of you to live on? And if you want the lesser thing to live on, why not yourself? You are more important than what you do.

39. Would it not be better for men if death did end all?

To that I must say, firstly, that our conjectures as to what might or might not be better cannot alter the fact that man's soul will live on whether he likes it or not. Yet, secondly, the prospect of facing a future life is not fearful save to those who have reason to be afraid. The wicked have reason to tremble; the good to rejoice. Virtue should have a corresponding place in eternity And if virtue, so also vice. As a matter of fact, all that is good in civilization has been built up by those who believe in an eternal destiny. And civilization tends to go to pieces when belief in immortality is destroyed. We need belief in eternal life in order to believe in the seriousness of this life.

Do Human Souls Evolve?

40. The question is ever arising as to whether man appeared suddenly on the earth by a special creative act of God, or whether he evolved.

The evolution of man's body would not be opposed to any defined doctrine of the Church, though it is far from being a proven fact, and the probabilities are against it. But man as a reasoning, thinking spiritual being certainly did not evolve. His possession of intelligence introduces a new fact into the universe, for, intelligence differs entirely from material conditions and development.  It is a spiritual power, and must come from the realm of spiritual being. We maintain, therefore, that the soul, to which intelligence belongs, is a special creation by God in each case simultaneously with its infusion into the material embryo as soon as that embryo is fit to receive it; and that is at the moment of conception.

41. If descent from animals is proved, would it mean that God only added the faculty of reason to the brute soul in order to make it human?

Firstly, I do not believe that the descent of man from brute animals will ever be proved.

Secondly, even if it were proved, it would not mean that God had merely to endow an animal with the faculty of reason. God would have to create a human soul endowed with reason and will, and infuse that soul to supplant the existent brute soul or life-principle in the animal body selected to be the body of the first man. Personally, I do not for a moment believe that any existent animal body was chosen by God to be the recipient of the first created human soul. Such an animal body would be so unfitted for the reception of an intelligent soul that the immediate formation of a human body seems far more likely than the miraculous alteration of an existent animal body.

42. Would Eve also have attained to a certain degree of physical perfection, and then have been endowed with reason in the same way as Adam?

No. As I have said, it is not a question of superadding reason to some animal soul. That could not be done, because the animal soul is material, whilst reason is immaterial. No life-principle entirely conditioned by matter could be endowed with a spiritual faculty. For the first woman, as for the first man, God would have to create a special human soul endowed with the spiritual faculties of reason and will. This would be the case even did men prove the bodily derivation of human beings from beasts. But that is a merely speculative supposition never likely to be proved.

43. Since animals already have sensitive life in common with man, why could not God merely add reason and will?

Because reason and will are purely spiritual powers, and can belong only to a spiritual nature. Now the brute soul is not spiritual of its very nature, and it could not be the subject of purely spiritual powers. The brute soul is essentially limited to the vital functions of a material organism, and cannot transcend material conditions. But whilst the brute soul is essentially unfitted for higher spiritual operations, the human and spiritual soul endowed with reason and will can, when united with a body similar to that of animals, direct all the lower functions of which animals are capable. But we cannot argue that because a superior principle is capable of lower operations, an inferior principle is capable of higher operations. Nor can we say that the inferior principle could be endowed with higher powers, when those higher powers belong to a completely different order of being. The essentially spiritual powers of reason and will require an essentially spiritual nature-and the brute soul is nonspiritual.

44. I do not see why the soul could not evolve. If gasoline is sufficiently heated it bursts into flame. Could not matter be rarefied by some natural process until it merged into spirit?

No. Rarefaction may turn a solid into a vapor, but a vapor is not spiritual. By condensation a vaporized solid can be solidified once more; but a soul cannot be thus treated. Your analogy of the gasoline does not meet the case, for both flame and gasoline are in the same material order. But thought and matter are opposed to each other. The object of bodily sight may be a material thing; but the object of thought is an idea of the thing. Ideas are spiritualized abstractions outside the realm of matter. Two and two potatoes make four potatoes. You can put them into a pan and fry them. But you cannot put the truth that two and two make four into a pan and cook it. The idea of that truth is not conditioned by space or time; and it is universal, not individual. In what place, at what time, or what individual material beings could evolve into the truth that two and two make four?

45. Thought seems only a higher form of animal sensation, for ideas are only generalized images.

Thought is more than a higher form of animal sensation. Animal sensations may give images, but images are not ideas. An image of some object may be thrown on the retina of the eye, and a man may be able to picture that image to himself later on in his "imagination." But every such image is of some particular measurable thing. Nor could a multitude of images of a multitude of different things add up into one idea of all these things. By sensation a man secures a foundation for thought, but sense images are not thought. Reflection shows that ideas are in a different order altogether, and we rightly implore men to go by reason, and not by mere imagination. This is more clearly seen when we leave ideas of concrete things and proceed to ideas of mathematical relations, or even to ideas of ideas in reflex thought. Ideas are not material things.

Now, a being is characterized by its powers; its powers by their activities; and those activities by their object. Since ideas are not material, the act of thinking by which those ideas are produced is not material; and the power of intelligence which enables us to think is not material. Therefore, the soul which possesses that intelligence is not material. All these things are in the same order, and that order is not material. God must have intervened in creation with a new and spiritual element when He made the soul of man.

46. Since man is a material being, he should share the fate of material beings.

You are thinking of man's body only. Equally I could say that, since man's soul is a spirit, he should share the immortal destiny of spiritual beings. Man is a mysterious being, blending the two spheres of matter and spirit. But, in his present state, he is an unstable composite tending to that dissolution of the union between body and soul which we call death. Whilst the body, however, dies, the soul does not. It lives on. It is of higher value than the merely material, and does not depend upon the body for its existence. Rather, the body depends upon the soul, which surpasses all material conditions and survives them. God Himself does not destroy that which carries within itself no principle of destruction. In other words, He does not create souls essentially fitted to live on forever, only to annihilate them. That would be quite opposed to His infinite wisdom.

Is Transmigration Possible?

47. Is transmigration of souls, and our return in animal forms impossible?

Yes. The human soul is essentially an intellectual being, and the nature God has given to man demands a proportionately constructed bodily counterpart. An intellectual soul united with a body incapable of cooperating in thought processes, as, for example, a human soul inhabiting a dog, would be a metaphysically repugnant monstrosity, and a direct contradiction of Divine Wisdom. Moreover, God has revealed that it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment. We do not come back as animals and die again. Also the judgment of each soul concerns its final destiny, and does not allow of another temporary and earthly existence. So our returning in animal forms is outside the realm of both possibility and fact.

Animal Souls

48. Speaking of animals, do you deny that animal souls exist?

No. It is impossible to doubt the existence of animal souls. The only point open to discussion is as to whether animal souls survive after the death of their bodies.

49. What is the attitude of the Catholic Church towards the question of their survival?

Catholic philosophers reject belief in the immortality of animal souls, chiefly on the score of their nonspiritual operations. A study of animal psychology reveals nothing that transcends the sensitive and material order, and there can be no reasonable doubt but that death terminates the existence of animals both as regards body and soul. Revelation gives no indication that animals will have a future life; in fact, the general trend of God's revelation seems to exclude it.


50. Each animal seems to have its own distinctive personality.

Personality supposes intelligence, and a moral responsibility following upon free will, which no one would attribute to mere animals. Each animal may have distinctive characteristics; but we are not justified in attributing personality to them in the strict sense of the word.

51. Does not the Catholic Church defend the rights of dumb beasts?

When you speak of dumb beasts you admit that they are on a lower plane than human beings. Not being persons, they have not personal rights. Still, the Church teaches that cruelty to animals is sinful. Now sin means the violation of rights. But whose rights are being violated by wanton cruelty to animals? Certainly not the rights of animals themselves. Wanton cruelty is a sin because no man has a right to brutalize his own humanity. Man has an obligation to develop what is best in his own nature, and not to indulge in vicious tendencies. And by wanton cruelty he sins against this obligation. Again, God has the right that His creatures should be used in accordance with His will, and that means reasonably and kindly. Cruelty, therefore, is a sin against God's rights. But that cruelty is a sin does not imply that there are any moral rights vested in animals themselves. It is a violation of rights belonging to God Himself, and of the responsibility vested in the dignity of our own rational nature.

52. If animals are not immortal, God's treatment of them is unjust.

That is not true. All justice is in the moral order, and supposes the violation of rights possessed by morally responsible subjects. Animals do not possess reason, and cannot refer their actions to moral standards which they know to be imposed upon them by their Creator. And if animals have no personal rights to be violated, there can be no question of injustice towards them.

53. Think of noble animal traits often exceeding those of men.

The good instincts of animals, for which they are not morally responsible, may be preferable to the vices of men as such. But the very moral degradation of a man who chooses vice rather than virtue indicates a nobler type of being than any mere animal which is incapable of truly moral conduct.

54. If we deserve to survive, don't animals by their virtues deserve the same?

Strictly speaking, we cannot attribute virtues to animals. They may have good habits, but virtue and merit suppose moral freedom, and the deliberate choice of things which are not a matter of physical necessity.

55. Are there no compensations for animal sufferings?

Only rights imply compensation and animals as such have no rights.

56. Many people abandon religion because the interests of animals are not made a special part of its teaching.

The interests of animals can never be a special part of reasonable religion. It is a religious duty to God and to man's own dignity to practice restraint and kindness in the use of animals. But that will result from the really important duty of worshipping and loving God, and attending to the salvation and sanctification of our own souls by the practice of Christian virtue.

There is a great danger of excess in this matter. As Christian ideals fade, human beings forget their own dignity, reduce themselves to the animal level, and grow hard towards one another. And by a strange kind of distortion, the human sympathies which they cannot suppress entirely tend to go out to the animal world. Many women marry, refuse to have children, and lavish their starved instincts upon pet animals as a substitute. So we have beauty parlors for pet dogs, where ladies can take their little Pomeranians to have them "bathed, shampooed, groomed and manicured" at a price which would provide a week's food for a starving child. I do not suggest that you would approve of such extremes, but you echo ideas which have led to them. Meantime, if people will not practice religion to attend to the interests of their own souls, it will be quite useless for them to do so in order to attend to the interests of animals. You may think me hard, but I cannot win sympathy for religion by sympathizing with ideas utterly opposed to it by their extravagance. We must love God, and let our love for God extend to all His creatures reasonably and proportionately. It is a distortion to love animals, and then be prepared to love God provided we can let our love of animals extend to Him also! It is essential that we have a correct knowledge of the order of things established by God, that we obtain a genuine notion of religion and of its duties, and that we fulfill those duties. Sentiment cannot be exalted to the dominant element in religion.


57. How would you answer the assertion that what has to be, has to be?

By granting it. If a thing has to be, it has to be. But I deny that everything has to be.

58. If a man riding a bicycle is run down by a car and killed accidentally, did that have to be?

If such a thing happens, then it happens. And it could not "happen" yet "not happen" simultaneously. At the same time, granted that it does happen, it does not happen by any absolute necessity. The man need not have chosen to go for a ride on that particular day. The car driver was under no compulsion to be on the road at the time. So we cannot say that the accident was foreordained by God and inevitable. There was no determining force outside and independent of those two men compelling them to come into collision, with fatal consequences for the rider of the bicycle.

59. Is the hour of one's death appointed by God at the moment of one's birth?

No; for a man is physically free even where his own life is concerned. Keep in mind this principle. Although God's providence extends to all things from a universal or general point of view, that same providence has willed that within the universe there should be a vast series of secondary causes affecting each other immediately. Now amongst these secondary causes is man, a free agent. The moment of a suicide's death is obviously not determined by God, for God forbids suicide; and if the suicide had obeyed God's law he would have lived longer. The same thing is true of murder, where a man's life is terminated by the rebellion of another man's will against the will of God.

Freedom of Will

60. If my future actions are preknown by God, they must have been predetermined, and free will is impossible.

That is not true. God does know what you will do in the future. Yet when you do it, it will be by your own free choice. Your difficulty arises from the fact that you are speaking of God as if He were conditioned by time exactly as we ourselves. He is not. We are space-time creatures, and God is outside all space-time limitations. Actions which, from our standpoint, must seem to be preknown, are not really preknown to God. For "preknown'" supposes successive knowledge, and succession supposes time. God, in reality, simply "knows" in an ever-present eternity. We are quite unable to comprehend the relationship between an eternal intelligence and successive events conditioned by time. The only experience we have is of the time-sequence. I know that talk of God as being outside time is like talking color to a man born blind. But that can't be helped. We have to talk of these things. But we must realize our limitations, and know that we cannot even state the problem except in terms which are incapable of expressing it adequately.

61. Your appeal to mystery does not answer my denial of free will.

When a problem involves the mutual relationship of two agents, only one of which is adequately within the reach of our understanding, mystery is inevitable. And categorical denials based on inadequate knowledge are themselves unreasonable.

62. What becomes of the "proof" of free will?

That stands. We know that it is a fact both by reason and revelation. And the positive evidence for free will deprives of all force those speculative difficulties which every reasonable person must expect to be present.

63. If free will obtains, it is impossible for God to know the future. He is not omniscient, and Biblical prophecies are mere superstitions.

Within the time sequence of history we have certain evidence that prophecies have been made, and that they were duly fulfilled hundreds of years later; and in such numbers and detail as to exclude any notion of mere chance. Not superstition, but reason, demands a connection between the subsequent events and what we have to term the previous knowledge of them. Meantime, men who know nothing of the conditions of eternity as related to the time in which we exist cannot reasonably declare it to be impossible for God to know the future.

64. No system of philosophy has successfully dealt with this question.

Sane philosophy admits the existence of free will. It successfully shows that there is not necessarily a contradiction where some people claim to find one, mistaking their inability to see a reconciliation for the impossibility of it. You must not ask philosophy to do what it cannot rightly be expected to do. If you regard as successful only that treatment of this question which enables a limited human mind to comprehend fully and completely how the eternal and Divine intelligence knows things which are future to space-time creatures, you are doomed to disappointment.

65. What is your official position on this subject?

That God's omniscience and man's free will are two facts known to be such, both by reason and revelation. The relationship between these two facts is necessarily a mystery; that is, the compatibility of the two facts is above reason, but not against reason. And the facts stand, despite the inability of man to solve to his full satisfaction the problem they present to the human mind.

66. Is not a man compelled to do what God knows that he will do?

No. It is a fallacy to think of knowledge of an event as the cause of that event. Thus, if I know that the sun is shining, the sun is not shining because I know it; I know it because the sun is shining. My knowledge of it does not make the sun shine. Nor does knowledge possessed even prior to the event cause the event to occur. An astronomer's knowledge that there will be an eclipse of the sun next week does not cause the eclipse. Knowledge as such is conditioned by the event: the event is not conditioned by the knowledge of it. But even that analogy cannot strictly apply to God's knowledge, for since He is outside time, there is nothing really future to His intelligence.

67. If God knows my future, it can only be because He has determined that future, and I am not free, if then God knows that I will end in hell, it's no use my trying to get to heaven.

The God who knows what your future will be, knows also that the future depends on your own choice. God has determined that your future will depend on your own conduct. His design is that "if" you try to serve Him, you will attain heaven, and that "if" you do not, you will lose your soul. Your future, therefore, has not been determined by God in any absolute sense. His very decision to endow you with free will, and commit your destiny to your own keeping excludes that. I appeal to your common sense. How do you let this problem affect you in other matters? If you were a farmer, would you say, "God knows whether I will have a crop or not. If He knows that I will have a crop, I will have it whatever I do. If He knows that I will not have a crop, I will not have it, whatever I do. Therefore, I will do nothing. I will neither plough, nor sow seed." That is foolish, for if God knows that you are to have a crop, His knowledge includes the knowledge that you will take the means. You can apply the same thought to any other matter of ordinary experience. If God knows that you will catch a train, you will catch it; if He knows that you won't catch it, you won't. Therefore, what is the use of going to the station at all? Surely you see the absurdity! God has decreed that certain things will result from the use of certain means. Heaven will be the result of trying to serve God. Take the means, and you will attain the normal result of such means. To do anything else is to be guilty of a folly in the matter of eternal salvation of which you would not be guilty in any other matter.

68. All the same, if I am going to end in hell, I am going to end in hell.

It is a logical necessity that what you do choose to do, you choose to do. But it is not necessary that you make such a choice. You could go to hell only by committing grave sin. Now God forbids you to commit grave sin. He could not therefore compel you to commit it. Moreover, if you had to commit it, the choice to do so would not be voluntary, and, therefore, would not be sinful — and you could not go to hell at all, despite God's knowing that you would end there! The absurd is false.

69. If you believe in free will, you must hold that the will is conditioned by itself, and that means that it is not conditioned at all.

It is self-contradictory to say that a will is not conditioned at all which is conditioned by itself. To talk sense a man could begin by saying that a will cannot be conditioned by itself. Then he would have to prove that statement.

70. An act of the free will is, therefore, an uncaused act, which is impossible.

The will itself is the cause of its own elective activities, and its choice is self-caused. God Himself has given us the power of volitional activity. He does not compel us to use it in this direction or that. Determinists argue that it must be compelled in one direction or another, because in the material or physical universe they see necessary causes producing necessary effects. But it is begging of the question to suppose that there is no other kind of causality, and that the spiritual, intellectual, and moral order must conform rigidly to the material and physical order. These determinists are like children who have never attained to the use of reason, and who go only by what comes within the range of their senses. They confuse the uniformity of nature which is a peculiarity of the visible and tangible universe with the principle of causality. And I say that that is childish. In the material universe we see causes which are determined to produce given effects: and in the same circumstances the same causes will produce the same effects. But it is equally a fact of experience that intelligence and will transcend the conditions of mere matter, and that there is no absolute necessity why the law of causality must work in the same way both in the inner world of man's soul, and in the outer world of material things. Within man there is a power of self-adjustment not found elsewhere. Physical laws declare that friction will necessarily produce heat. They do not say that provocation will necessarily produce anger. For one man may choose to give way to his feelings of resentment; another man may choose not to do so. Let the determinists first prove that there is nothing in man transcending the conditions of mere matter, and then they can restrict their notion of causality to the uniformity of nature discernible in the merely material universe. But they cannot do that without ignoring obvious facts of human experience. And to ignore facts because they don't fit in with one's theories is to cease to be scientific.

71. If you believe in free will, training is just beside the point.

It is not. It is necessary precisely because human beings are endowed with free will. Irrational animals, determined by mere instinct, do not face the same problems as man at all. Magpies are not concerned with morally wrong choices made by their offspring. But human parents, concerned with the character-formation of their children, are obliged to train those children precisely because they retain freedom of will to choose virtue or vice. Children must be taught what virtue is, and must be trained to choose the morally good as opposed to the morally evil. They must be formed in mind, and will, and heart.

Free Will and Faith

72. Another absurd conclusion to which believers in free will must inevitably come, is the idea that a man is free to believe whatever he likes.

I myself believe in free will, yet I deny absolutely that I must inevitably come to any absurd conclusion as a consequence of my conviction.

73. It is manifestly wrong that a man is free to believe whatever he likes.

Your trouble is a confusion of ideas. Before discussing a subject it is essential to get very clear ideas on that subject, and to know the precise sense of the terms you use. Otherwise, ambiguities and fallacies are bound to result. I know exactly what you have in mind. But you express yourself very badly. What you have in mind cannot be denied. But what you say can be denied. For example, if you drove a motor car at sixty miles an hour, you would know that that car could do sixty miles an hour. You would not be free to believe otherwise. But if I took that same car out and drove it at eighty-five miles an hour, and came back and told you I had done so, you would be free to believe what you liked about it. You have only my word for it. You could choose to believe me. Or you could choose to doubt my accuracy of observation, or my veracity. Not having experimental knowledge for yourself, it would not be manifestly wrong and absurd for you to believe whatever you liked. You see you have used the word believe without any regard for the motives of belief or for the degrees of certainty in our knowledge.

74. No man can honestly believe that which his reason rejects as untrue.

It is certain that so long as he rejects a thing as untrue, he cannot believe it. But he can cease to reject as untrue what he at one time thought to be untrue on discovering that he has no real proof that it is untrue, either because his former judgment was based on inadequate knowledge, or because there was a fault in his process of reasoning.

75. For instance, I cannot believe that a man once lived three days inside a whale.

Taking your proposition as it stands, I must confess that I would have a good deal of difficulty in believing it myself. If, however, a man said to me, "The God Who created this universe arranged that a huge fish (not necessarily a whale) should swallow a man, and by His divine power God kept that man alive inside the fish," I would certainly agree that it was not impossible for an omnipotent God to do such a thing. I could believe it, though I would not believe it actually occurred without a convincing authority for doing so.

76. I may try for hours to convince myself that I believe this, but the simple fact still remains, I cannot believe it.

At one time men could not believe that a person in England could speak to another person in America. But we, who know of radio transmission, find no difficulty in believing it. For the factor rendering it possible is known to us, whereas it was unknown to them. They could not believe it so long as the factor of radio transmission was omitted from the proposition. Now, if you restrict your proposition to a man, a whale, and the man's living inside the whale for three days, omitting all reference to God's intervention, your difficulties do not surprise me. But will you say that God Himself could not cause such an event to happen? I am not asking you to believe that it did happen. I only suggest that, since God could do it, you could believe it if He did do it.

77. The only force which can possibly alter my beliefs is an appeal to my reason by way of demonstration, argument, evidence, etc.

There are other forces which could alter your beliefs, despite your assertion to the contrary. I knew a girl who believed absolutely in the rectitude of a man she loved, despite evidence to the contrary clear to all others who knew him. After two years her love faded, and her belief changed. A human being's beliefs are often dictated by psychological factors and this is because the human will is free, making possible the will to believe in those who desire to believe. And where the Christian religion is concerned, the will to believe involves no conflict with reason. Belief is, in fact, the reasonable choice.




Religion and God

78. Why are religious people always talking about doing the will of God?

Because by the teachings of their religion they know what is due to God, and by the virtue of religion they desire to render to Him the acknowledgment and obedience they owe to His laws. They know that they cannot be good people otherwise. After all, a thing is good if it does what it's for. If I construct a machine to tell me the time, it is a good machine insofar as it does as I will and intend. If it does not, it is no good. Now God made me. He made me, not for an idle freak, but for a definite purpose; and I am good insofar as I fulfill that purpose.  In other words, insofar as I fulfill God's will and intentions.

79. Does it not occur to them that they have very little knowledge of what that will is?

That certainly does not apply in the case of Christians who are well instructed in their religion. Listen to these words from the Catholic catechism: "For what purpose did God make us? God made us to know, love, and serve Him here on earth, and to see and enjoy Him forever in heaven. What good shall I do that I may have life everlasting? If thou wilt enter into life-says Christ-keep the commandments. What commandments am I to keep? I am to keep the ten commandments of God. and the six commandments of the Church." And the catechism gives a clear explanation of the obligations imposed by those commandments; or, in other words, a clear explanation of the will of God. Finish reading this book, and by the time you have done so, you will have lost the notion that we have very little knowledge of what God's will is.

The Duty of Prayer

80. Religion involves the whole question of prayer, and for my part prayer is both unreasonable and useless.

Apart from the obtaining of benefits, by prayer we express our love of God, and our gratitude to Him, as also our sorrow and regret for such sins as we have committed against Him. But also prayer is a normal and intelligent means by which we obtain many blessings from God, together with His protection and consolation in difficulties. Prayer is neither unreasonable nor useless

81. How can prayer be reasonable?

Reason itself dictates the necessity of prayer. Reason tells you that you are not the author of your own existence, that you owe your origin, as does the whole human race, to an outside Cause Who is more intelligent than the creatures of His own making. Every man also, who is not mentally deficient, knows that he himself is limited in a thousand ways, in size, in strength, in mind and will. Man is small, weak, ignorant, and inconstant. Enabled by reason to realize these imperfections, man is impelled by reason to appeal to, and rely upon his Maker for the help and protection necessary lest his defects should lead to disaster. Prayer to his Maker is as natural to man as the instinct of a child to turn to its parents for help. All creatures, of course, are subject to such limitations. But man alone is conscious of them, arid, therefore, rational people alone are given to prayer. Brute animals do not pray. It is irrational not to pray.

82. If there be a God, it should not be necessary to tell Him of our needs.

We do not pray in order to inform God of our needs. We pray to fulfill a condition laid down by God for our own sakes. God demands of us the humility which acknowledges our dependence on Him, and the confidence which acknowledges Him as our Father. Even earthly parents, who know their children’s wants, and intend to supply them, insist that they ask respectfully for what they need. It is in a child’s own interest that it should be trained to behave properly.

83. Is it not more generous to give spontaneously than to wait to be asked? If God be supremely generous, it is an insult to Him to implore Him to give us anything.

It would not be more generous on God’s part to give us all we need without waiting to be asked. God has, of course, given us very many things without any request from us. But it would not be more generous to do that always. It is more generous to secure our still greater good by making us ask. And even apart from our training in religious behavior, it is a great happiness and privilege to be allowed to converse with God concerning our own interests.

84. If God is unchangeable, can you hope to change Him by fervent appeals?

God is unchangeable. But prayer is itself part of God’s unchangeable providence. He has decreed that many benefits will depend upon our praying for them. We shall get them if we ask for them; if we do not pray we shall not receive them. The change is not in God.

85. How can I pray when I cannot feel sure that anyone is listening to me?

How do you want to feel sure that God is listening to you? What type of evidence do you want? Do you want the certainty you have of the existence of a speaker when you hear his Voice from your radio set? If so, you will want in vain. But man is not limited to his senses, as are mere animals. By reason he can attain to the knowledge of a truth not accessible to the senses. Take the truth of thought. Were a dog sitting near you, it would hear the sounds of a human voice as you hear them with your ears. But it certainly could not grasp the truth conveyed by those sounds. Your reason can rise to a perception of a reality which is above and beyond any powers of sense-perception. If you cannot feel sure of God’s existence and knowledge merely because He is invisible and inaudible so far as your senses are concerned, you abdicate as a reasonable person, and descend to the lower level of irrational creatures. Your very expression, “I cannot feel sure,” is unfortunate. For feelings belong to our sensitive natures, not to our rational natures. We don’t believe things with our feelings. We believe them with our minds.

86. But supposing even my reason gives me no certain conviction?

Even then you could still pray. If you are not certain that God does hear you, you are not certain that He does not. But if you thought it only possible that He hears you, you could quite reasonably pray, even if you did so like the famous agnostic, “O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have one.” But apart from your own mental state, there are many considerations which intensify the reasonable character of prayer for you. If, on a given day, there was to be a huge meeting in a city hall, and you came from the country to attend that meeting, but did not know where the hall was situated, you would quite reasonably adopt the same line of conduct adopted by the crowds of people all flocking in the one direction. So, too, despite your uncertainty, you see crowds of people who are not in the least uncertain, and who give themselves to prayer, convinced that their prayers are heard by Him to whom they pray. And not all these people are fools by any means. You will admit that Marconi was a very clever man, a genius at experimental science, and a great contributor to the possibility of the radio transmission we enjoy today. Yet he says of prayer, “I believe it would be a great tragedy if men were to lose their faith in prayer. Without the help of prayer I might perhaps have failed where I have succeeded. In allowing me to attain what I have done, God has made of me merely an instrument of His own will, for the revelation of His own divine power.” The very certainty of so many other intelligent men, and their conviction as to the efficacy of prayer, make it quite reasonable for you to adopt the practice also.

87. If God knows that I will commit a sin, it’s no use praying that I won’t.

God’s knowledge can be left out of your question, for that knowledge does not affect your conduct. If He knows that you are going to commit a sin, it is because you will choose to commit it. However, you may ask what is the use of prayer if you will, as a matter of fact, fall into sin after all. In the first place, since you will not be compelled to commit that sin, there is at least less likelihood that you will do so with the help of special graces due to prayer than without them. But supposing that you do so? Even then the prayer was not useless. In itself it was a meritorious act of religion prior to the sin. Even granted the sin, you would probably have been far worse on the occasion than you would have been had you not prayed. And in virtue of the previous prayer God would give you the grace to repent more quickly arid sincerely of your fault.

88. For centuries humanity has prayed to God for deliverance from floods, famines, plagues, and distress; but God has ever been silent.

You can‘t gulp down the whole of humanity like that. For centuries some men have cursed God: some have simply ignored God; and some have prayed to God. Humanity as a whole has not prayed to God for deliverance from evils. And amongst those who have prayed, many have done so in order to praise God, or to thank God, or to repair their sins against God, or to ask spiritual graces from Him. Prayer is not confined to the asking of temporal benefits only.

But even if you restrict your question to prayer for temporal favours, thousands would rise in protest, and prove to you that prayers for temporal favours have been granted far more often than can be explained by mere coincidence. All that Christians claim as regards prayer for temporal favours is that such prayers are sometimes heard in the way we wish when God knows that the granting of our request will be really for our good. Prayer of petition is not the kind of penny-in-the-slot machine by which we obtain just what we specify as we would obtain a box of matches.

89. God allows war to continue, though people of all religious denominations pray to Him to stop it.

If the sufferings caused by war were entirely useless, it might be more difficult to answer that problem. But if men can benefit by such sufferings, a good God could certainly permit them; and if men deserved them, His justice can not be blamed. Men do deserve such sufferings; and indeed mankind as a whole deserves more than it gets in the way of suffering. See the flood of iniquity in the world, and ask yourself whether men deserve that all things should flatter their desires. If people prayed that the war should stop, then the fact that the war moved some people to prayers they would not otherwise have said was already a good result. And prayer did produce remarkable results in various individuals during the war. If it did not make all combatants cease fighting at the various moments, various unbelievers thought the war ought to end, that fact does not imply that prayer was useless.

90. Will the prayers of one in a state of sin be heard by God?

Every sincere and earnest prayer, no matter by whom it is said, will be heard by God. Prayer is, in itself, an act of religion as well as a petition. Normally, as an act of religion, it is meritorious just as any other good work. But as a person in a state of serious sin cannot merit before God, in the sinner’s case no merit attaches to his prayer. But, whilst no merit attaches to his prayer, it retains value as a petition. And the petition will certainly be granted if it be for the grace to be converted and to resist further sin. If the petition be for temporal favours, such as the recovery of bodily health, or for some other earthly advantage, the petition will be granted provided God sees that it will not prove a hindrance to the petitioner’s spiritual welfare.

91. If prayer is necessary for conversion, how will one reform who finds it impossible to pray?

Prayer is never really impossible. I admit that one who has long neglected prayer will find little taste for it, and, therefore, will find it difficult. But, despite the difficulty, he should take up his prayers once more, if necessary with the help of a prayer book, trying to mean the prayers he recites. As a child learns to walk by walking, so we learn to pray by praying. Facility will come with practice. And as his prayers increase in earnestness, so will a man receive ever more abundant graces from God to help him in his struggles against ingrained habits. God will give light to intensify his convictions, and strength to fortify his weak and inconstant will. If, then, a man persists in doing his own best to fight down acquired bad habits, and perseveres in his efforts at prayer, he will certainly succeed in the end in the desire to reform his life.

The Mysteries of Religion

92. Are not the mysteries taught by your religion simply mental opium?

Not in the least. They do not stifle thought. They are a provocation to thought, and have inspired the greatest minds. Unexplained themselves, they throw an immense amount of light on the problem of life's purpose and destiny, when added to what we already know by reason itself. Though we cannot sound their full depths, we find in them the explanation of most of our noblest experiences. They are the key to life; and as life itself is mysterious, so the key to it is mysterious. A key is as intricate as the lock, or it does not fit. It is only by combining the clear and the mysterious that we arrive at a proper understanding. We have an example of that in science itself. In spectroscopic analysis a ray of light is broken up into its various colors; but the spectrum reveals a series of dark lines which are most mysterious. Their explanation is found only by noting where they fall in relation to the colors which are clearly shown. Now, in his search for knowledge man finds that his own power of sight is limited to a very narrow band of wave lengths. He can see neither infrared nor ultraviolet rays. These would be absolute mysteries to him if he depended only on sight. But his intelligence has discovered them. Faith goes further, and by a knowledge secured from God's revelation, gets an inkling of the great mysterious reality of God Himself, who clarifies the puzzling lines and dark shadows by which the whole of our knowledge and life are crisscrossed from end to end. So we find that the mysterious and the clear give the true sense to life.

93. All mysteries yield sooner or later to reason. Science will know tomorrow what it does not know today.

Mysteries necessarily exist, and ever will exist. Even in the merely natural order, it is useless to say that what is a mystery now will not be a mystery in the future, as if all mysteries in nature will thus be eventually unraveled. Knowledge begins with mystery and ends in mystery. The further science pushes its conquests, the more mysteries it will discover, every advance revealing further mystery ahead. Transmission by radio was an unsuspected mystery to previous generations. It is an accomplished fact today, but it has led to a host of other mysteries.

But these natural mysteries are not even on the same plane as supernatural mysteries. Were all natural mysteries eventually solved, supernatural mysteries would remain. Not all the scientific knowledge of the universe could manifest to us the infinitely mysterious inner life of God Himself. From the natural point of view God's intimate nature and vital activities are inaccessible to man. And any knowledge of His personal inner life given to us by revelation-a life completely transcending the natural order of created being-will be as mysterious to us as it is beyond our natural and experimental ideas. These revealed mysteries satisfy reason by surpassing reason, since reason itself tells us that a divine religion, introducing the Infinite, must contain elements exceeding every finite capacity.

94. Are we expected to believe things to be true without any evidence for them?

We are expected to believe what God has revealed, because God must know the truth, and because He could not deceive us. Where revealed mysteries are concerned, we accept them, not because they appeal to reason as evidently true in themselves, but because of God's authority. This supposes evidence, of course, that God has actually revealed the mysteries we thus accept. We believe what God says, but we must know that He said it. It will be necessary, therefore, to study the historical evidence for the fact of revelation.

Can We Believe in Miracles?

95. Why are miracles fewest where people are most enlightened?

I deny your supposition.

96. I am a civil engineer, and my profession treats largely with cause and effect, and is based on mathematical accuracy.

I must ask you to keep in mind that proficiency in the knowledge of natural causes gives no special competency in matters not due to those causes.

97. I have never witnessed a miracle; nor has any other member of my profession whom I have asked witnessed one.

Because you have never personally witnessed a miracle, you cannot conclude that, therefore, miracles have never occurred. As regards your fellow professional men, had one of them declared that he had witnessed a miracle, would you have accepted his evidence? If so, why will you not accept the sworn evidence of equally accredited medical men? You may say that you do not know of any such evidence. But your not knowing of it does not prove it to be nonexistent. The evidence exists.

98. I once questioned a group of illiterate, dirty, drunken peons at La Paz, Bolivia, all of whom were Catholics.

If they were Catholics, it was in spite of, and not because of the conditions you describe. I am a Catholic, but I am neither illiterate, nor dirty, nor drunken; so those qualities are not necessarily associated with Catholicism. Also, on your own methods of testing evidence, since I have never seen a group of illiterate, dirty, drunken peons, you can scarcely expect me to accept your word for it that they do exist.

99. All declared that they had witnessed miracles.

Granted that you did ask them, and that they replied as you say, the fact that the witnesses you consulted were drunk renders their evidence worthless. It would be on a par with the evidence of a drunken man who swears that a given lamp post has duplicated itself. Even if they were not drunk, I would put their evidence down to a great deal of superstition-a superstition found, of course, not only amongst the illiterate. We are surrounded by superstitions even amongst the educated. There are the superstitions of the sceptic, of the spiritualist, of the Christian Scientist, of those who believe in the infallibility of novels and newspapers, of those who swear by astrology, of those who reject miracles without giving a single valid reason for doing so, of the man who thinks that witnesses who have not seen a thing afford reliable evidence that the thing does not exist. But, in the whole of this affair, the most striking thing is that you should seek evidence for miracles from such obviously unreliable sources. If a sensible man really wants evidence, he does not bother about taking that evidence until he has some reason to believe the source reliable. It is a reflection on your own intelligence that you did not bother inquiring in better quarters.

100. What kind of evidence do you call that?

As I have already remarked, I do not regard it as evidence at all. But when you contrast civil engineers with illiterate peons, remember this: If there are educated men who do not believe in miracles, there are educated men who do; the former lacking evidence; the latter possessing evidence.

And if you wish to argue, "Drink-sodden men believe in miracles, therefore, miracles don't happen," I will be justified in retorting, "There are plenty of drink-sodden men who do not believe in miracles, therefore, miracles do happen." It's absurd argumentation, I know, but it is based on your own principles.

101. Can you expect enlightened people to believe in miracles?

Yes. They are the unenlightened people from whom we expect unbelief; from people who have never bothered to examine any evidence, but whose opinions are dictated by their prejudices.

102. Does the Church require proof before she will accept any event as miraculous?

Yes, and very strict proof. She takes little notice of people's private opinions concerning the cause of a given event. Before the Church will publicly admit and sanction any event as being a miraculous manifestation of God's power, she demands proof that no merely natural means could account for it.

103. That could never be, because we do not yet know all the forces of nature. There may be natural laws which we do not yet know, yet which could account for an event thought to be miraculous.

There is no need to know all that nature can do, before we can be sure of a miracle. It is enough to know what nature cannot do. And we know that when we perceive an absolute lack of proportion between the means used and the effect produced. That a man rotten with leprosy should suddenly be cured at the men sound of Christ's voice saying, "Be thou clean," is obviously outside the scope of merely natural laws, and, therefore, miraculous. So, too, it is certain that the dead do not naturally rise from the grave and resume their earthly lives. So true is this law that, if one who was actually dead did rise, God alone could have made him do so by a quite supernatural intervention. Here the very thing accomplished is not against, but absolutely beyond the scope of the ordinary laws of nature. Thus all admit that the resurrection of Christ must be ranked as miraculous. Those who refuse to believe in it simply deny that it happened; but they do not deny that, if it did happen, it would be miraculous.

104. You at least advise caution in the matter?

I do. In fact, since not the abnormal but the normal is ordinary, and the miraculous necessarily rare, a prudent judgment will incline on the side of the greater probabilities, and prefer to regard events as nonmiraculous rather than as miraculous.  If God really wishes to show His power to men in a miraculous way He will do so in a way which leaves no prudent doubt in the minds of those who study closely the whole affair. Thus, at Lourdes, many cures have taken place. But the Medical Bureau of Inquiry will not register as miraculous any cures which are explicable by natural causes. For example, if a person is cured suddenly of a nervous disease of many years' standing, the doctors will say, "We congratulate you on what seems to be a great favor from God, but we cannot accept it as a miracle. The natural factors of excitement, or of autosuggestion, may be responsible for it; and it does not necessarily, therefore, manifest God's direct intervention." But if a broken leg is healed instantaneously, an inch of bone being supplied to make it the same length as the other, that is a different matter. No amount of subjective persuasion, and no merely natural influences could accomplish that. In the presence of such an occurrence we can but say, "The finger of God is here"; and all reasonable men would admit it to be a miracle.

105. I agree with those who wish to purify the Gospels by eliminating the miraculous element embodied in them side by side with so much good teaching.

It is impossible to eliminate the miraculous element from the Gospels without rejecting them completely as fraud and forgery. You might just as well suggest a life of Napoleon without any military exploits as suggest a life of Christ without miracles. The texts describing the miracles were there from the very beginning, and were written by those who saw them, and who wrote the rest of the matter contained in the Gospels. It is unreasonable to say that the authors were quite reliable in setting down what you happen to approve in the accounts of Christ, but that they suddenly became unreliable in sections which do not happen to appeal to you.


106. The miracles envelop His life in legend, and belittle Him rather than magnify Him.

The miracles in the Gospels are not legendary. They are a matter of history. Nor do they belittle Christ. There is no element in them of the merely curious, ostentatious, and puerile. They bear directly upon His mission as Redeemer. Christ manifested His goodness by curing bodies as well as souls, and proved His divine power against objectors by such sayings as, "Which is easier, to forgive sin, or to say: Arise and walk?" And He bade the crippled to rise and walk; which they did. By His miracles Christ proved both the truth and the necessity of the religion He taught.




The Religion of the Bible

Historical Character of the Gospels

107.  I presume you accept the Canonical Gospels as historical because they give general support to one another?

Not entirely. There are other and independent grounds for their historical character. Being historical, of course, general agreement would be one of their notable characteristics.

108. How do you account for the fact that there are other uncanonical writings which give a different version of these affairs?

I account for that by the fact that men wrote them, and gave the different version you mention. If you ask why these men wrote them, I can but say that some did so from rather romantic motives in order to fill in in an imaginative way the brief accounts given in the genuine Gospels; others did so with the evil intention of discrediting the genuine Gospel accounts. Some of the writers of the apocryphal gospels were, therefore, orthodox in faith; others were heretics.

109. Can you quote any reference prior to Irenaeus, 182 A. D., which so much as alludes to the existence of your Gospels?

It would not matter much if I could not. However, I am able to do so. Prior to Irenaeus, Tatian had written his Diatessaron, or Harmony of the Four Gospels, which is certainly a tribute to the existence of those Gospels. Tatian's teacher, Justin Martyr, was quoting the Gospels 30 years before Irenaeus wrote on the subject. Earlier than Justin, Papias had written that the First Gospel was by St. Matthew; and that St. Mark had also written a Gospel. Almost 30 years before Papias, Hermas, in his "Shepherd," had written that the Third Gospel was by St. Luke, and the Fourth by St. John. The Epistle of Barnabas, written nearly 80 years before Irenaeus, contains quotations from St. Matthew's Gospel. St. Luke, who wrote the Acts of the Apostles about the year 63, speaks of his having written a former treatise, clearly referring to the Third Gospel, as all reputable scholars admit.



Canonical Books of the Bible

110. Did not the selection of the Gospels to be regarded as Canonical depend upon the various Councils?

The selection of the Gospels depended upon the authoritative decisions of the Catholic Church, decisions formulated in her official Councils, and always to be approved by the Pope. And it is the authority of the Pope which alone counts in the final analysis. Above all, such matters are not dependent upon the authority of "various" Councils, when you wish to include false gatherings of recalcitrant bishops whose proceedings have been repudiated by the Church, and whose decisions have been declared null and void. The authority of Councils can be cited only when those Councils have been authorized by the Holy See, and when their decisions have been approved and sanctioned by the Pope. Under these conditions, the decisions of Councils are quite reliable.

111. Matthew Tindal says that no good ever came of any Council, and that if all the accusations and libels were extant which the bishops hurled at each other, few would have reason to boast of the First Oecumenical Council.

Matthew Tindal was a rationalist, and an enemy of the Christian religion. His verdict, therefore, is prejudiced. But any man who says that no good ever came of any Council stands self-condemned. He is talking obvious nonsense. As for the First Oecumenical Council, if the accusations and libels of the bishops are not extant, information concerning them is wanting, and to hazard a guess is valueless. The First Oecumenical Council of Nicea, in 325 A. D., was a Council of the utmost importance to the Church, and did immense good. That it condemned heretics is not surprising, since it was convened for the purpose of safeguarding the truth against false teachings. And that the heretics who were condemned should have taken their condemnation badly is not surprising. They were not men of outstanding patience and virtue.

112. Is it not a fact that, in the Second Council of Ephesus, Dioscurus, Bishop of Alexandria, assaulted Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, with such violence that the Patriarch died within three days of his injuries? Can we accept the verdict of such Councils?

It is a fact that the heretical Bishop Dioscurus assaulted Flavian, the lawful Patriarch of Constantinople. But the Second Synod of Ephesus is known as the "Robber Council," and its proceedings were at once declared null and void by the Pope. Flavian died of his injuries, in reality a martyr for the true faith. But the citation of the bad conduct of a heretical bishop in an abortive Council in no way supports any of your contentions where the Gospels are concerned.

Original Manuscripts

113. Are any of the original manuscripts of any of the Gospels extant?

No. The original manuscripts have perished, the Gospels surviving in later copies only. Manuscripts cannot last forever. If we have the Odes of Horace, or the Annals of Tacitus today, we have them only in copies derived from the now perished original writings of those authors. An elaborate attempt to prove that the Annals of Tacitus were really composed by an Italian scholar named Poggio was rejected as absurd; but for definite refutation scholars had to rely upon one allusion to them occurring some three hundred years after the death of Tacitus himself. The evidence was a thousand times more slender than that available for the Gospels; yet all scholars accepted it.


114. What is the date of the earliest copies available?

The earliest copies containing the complete Gospels are the Vatican and Sinaitic Codices, dating from the fourth century. There are several fragments of Gospel manuscripts dating from the third century, and one of St. John's Gospels belonging to the second century, a copy probably made within fifty years of the Apostle's death. But besides these actual Gospel copies, of course, we have a wealth of citations in the earliest Christian writers, citations which presuppose the existence of the Gospel manuscripts.

115. Why should not a Catholic who believes in miracles expect that the original Gospel manuscripts should last forever?

Because, although a Catholic believes that miracles can occur, and have occurred when God has willed to grant them, he does not expect miracles where God has not willed to grant them, nor that God should will to grant them wherever men might think it wise that He should do so.

116. Here surely was an occasion that could provide an unshakable basis for faith.

Any one miracle would provide an unshakable basis for faith in any person of good will. But, if the original Gospel manuscripts were in fact preserved by a miracle, you would not accept that as a miracle any more than you accept existent miracles already wrought by God. If you want miracles for your consideration, there are plenty available. "If they hear not Moses and the Prophets," said Christ, "neither will they believe if one rise from the dead." He said this because the refusal of the Jews to be guided by Moses and the Prophets was due to bad will. And a man who has a bad will and does not want to believe, will not believe, no matter what motives are put before him. If you reject the Christian religion despite all its present credentials, neither would you believe even were the original Gospel manuscripts miraculously preserved.

117. Here surely was psychological momentum for a miracle, if such things are.

Miracles do not go by "psychological momentum." And, in any case, if there is to be talk of possible miracles God might have thought fit to grant, I could think of a thousand miracles which would have much wider and more efficacious appeal than the preservation of the original Gospel manuscripts.

118. Do not say there was no need for the survival of the originals because transcriptions could be made without fundamental error.

I must say precisely that. If I want to read the works of Charles Dickens, it makes no difference whether I read them in the original edition, or in a reprint of a hundred years later. So long as we have the Word of God, it does not matter by what medium it comes to us. All this, of course, is supposing that the Gospels are necessary at all. Absolutely speaking, quite apart from any written Gospels the Catholic Church would have been sufficient provision in itself for the preservation of the Christian religion. But of that, more later.

119. Rev. Dr. Hort has said that absolute fidelity of transcription in the first three centuries was little valued.

Dr. Hort held the highest opinion of the accuracy of transmission of the Gospel text. His allusion to mistakes and to lack of fidelity must be taken in a very restricted sense. He would certainly have admitted that such minor variations as crept into early copies do not hinder us from getting back to the original text in all important and substantial matters, and even in almost all unimportant points The minor error of one copyist would not be that of another. And a comparative study of texts proves a corrective of minor variations.

120. If all errors were rectified, is it not possible that an entirely different conception of the Scriptures would become inevitable?

No. Textual criticism could never give an entirely different text of Scripture.  In their interpretations of the meaning of Scripture, of course, independent readers will arrive at very different conclusions as to the sense of what is written. But what is written will not undergo any substantial change. For example, a close study of manuscripts, whether of copies or translations, together with quotations in the early Fathers, reveals some 150,000 variant leadings. But the vast majority of these are merely transpositions of words, or the substitution of synonyms. Scarcely 100 have any significance, and only about 10 of them could have any relation to doctrinal matters. Nor would any of these 10 have any substantial effect upon Christian doctrine. Moreover, any possible doubt concerning any essential Christian doctrine would be excluded by its being clearly laid down elsewhere in undisputed section of the text. It is impossible that critical research should ever render an entirely different version of Sacred Scripture necessary.

121. I have read that the Greek Septuagint contained many errors which were not corrected until about 200 A.D.

The Greek Septuagint Version is the name given to a translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew, made by seventy Jewish scholars at Alexandria for the benefit of the Jewish colony there about 250 B. C. In Palestine copies of what are called the Palestinian Hebrew Scriptures were in use. At the time of Christ, both the Palestinian Hebrew Scriptures, and the Alexandrian Septuagint Greek were equally acknowledged by the Jews as authoritative. It is certain that neither Christ nor the Apostles ever challenged the value of the Septuagint. Both direct and indirect references to the Greek Septuagint abound in the New Testament.

Now, at the time of our Lord, the original Hebrew writings had already perished. And many minor errors and discrepancies had crept into the copies through inadvertence on the part of copyists. There was no officially corrected Hebrew text at the time of Christ. And errors went on increasing as handwritten copies were multiplied. The Jewish Rabbis, therefore, about the second century after Christ, determined to secure a correct official Hebrew text; and in order to do so they used the Greek Septuagint translation to check discrepancies. Not the errors of the Septuagint, therefore, but the errors of the Hebrew text were being corrected. In his preparation of his Latin version, called the Vulgate, St. Jerome used both the Hebrew text and the Greek Septuagint.

122. Would Christ use Scriptures which contained errors?

Christ made use of existent copies of the Bible, despite their errors. For those copies were substantially correct. The errors were isolated, and of minor importance. And there is no reason why He should not use existent copies for the matter in them which He knew to be quite correct. For that matter, the Protestant Authorized Version in English today contains many errors. But it is not entirely erroneous. And where it is not erroneous, it is certainly the inspired Word of God, and could be quoted as such.




Truth of the Bible

123. From the natural point of view I find the stories of Adam and Eve, of Noah and the Ark, of Lot's wife, of Samson, of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, of Jonah and the whale, etc., very difficult to believe.

I am not surprised. And to me they would seem often enough quite impossible from the merely natural viewpoint. If I were expected to believe in these things as being the result of any merely natural laws or forces, I would refuse to do so. They become credible only when they are attributed to some cause outside merely natural forces; and to me they are credible only because Almighty God Himself has stepped in with a special manifestation of His infinite power. Every reasonable man has to admit that God could cause such things to happen; and a Christian is obliged to believe that He did so, wherever the Bible obviously intends to declare such events to be matters of historical fact.

124. Must these be accepted in the literal sense?

We have to believe in the inspiration and truth of the Bible. But we have to believe in the truth intended by God, not in the first superficial idea that comes to our mind. In other words, we have to believe in the Bible rightly interpreted. Of various passages we must ask whether God intended them to be taken as literally true, or whether they are meant to convey the truth in a metaphorical way. Normally speaking, presumption stands for the literal sense, and no details are to be taken as metaphorical without sufficiently grave reason. It must be noted also that an historical event may be described in such a way that figurative expressions abound. In such a case, we have to accept the account as substantially historical fact, but need not accept every secondary detail in a similar way.

Now let us take the examples you give. Are we obliged to believe that God intended all the cases you give to be taken entirely in their literal sense? There are certainly metaphorical details blended with the history of Adam and Eve. But we are obliged to believe in the substantial accuracy of the narrative. The Catholic Church insists on our acceptance of those basic facts which are at the very foundation of the Christian religion. We must believe that God did create all beings apart from Himself; that the creation of man was a distinct action; that the first woman was formed from the first man; that the whole human race is descended from the first pair, Adam and Eve; that this first pair disobeyed God, and by their sin put themselves and all their posterity into a state of evil from which they needed redemption by Christ. We have to believe in the historical interpretation of these fundamental details in a spirit of obedience to the Church, and because there are no sound reasons for thinking otherwise.

Personally, also, I see no sound reason for rejecting the historical character of the accounts of Noah and the Ark; of Lot's wife; of Samson; and of the crossing of the Red Sea by the Jews. There is no room for a metaphorical interpretation of these things. It is possible to accept the story of Jonah and the whale as a kind of parable, truly typifying the burial and resurrection of Christ, just as the parable of the Prodigal Son truly typified God's mercy towards sinners. But I cannot see any real need to do this. I would have no difficulty in accepting the story of Jonah and the whale as literally true once I was certain that the account was intended by the original writer in that sense.

125. Is it not absurd not only that God should want to try Abraham's faith, but that He should order Abraham to kill his own son?

God did not test Abraham in order to secure further knowledge concerning him, but in order to give Abraham an opportunity of performing a meritorious act of obedience which Abraham would not otherwise have received. The trial was not necessary from God's point of view. It was necessary from Abraham's point of view. It was God's immutable will, based upon His infinite knowledge of all things, that Abraham should first be asked to offer his son; and then that he should be freed from the necessity of sacrificing that son in actual practice. But even had God intended Abraham to kill the boy, God, as supreme Lord and Master of life and death, would not have exceeded His rights.

126. Can you believe it true that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, so that he refused to release the Jews from Egypt?

The expression, "God hardened the heart of Pharaoh" occurs only after the repeated statement, as in Exodus VIII., 15, "And Pharaoh hardened his own heart." The context shows that God did not positively harden Pharaoh's heart, but that He merely permitted Pharaoh to harden his own heart. Pharaoh himself admitted, in Exodus IX., 27, "I have sinned this time also. The Lord is just. I and my people are wicked." Pharaoh knew quite well that he could have yielded to God's commands and released the Jews.

127. Do you believe that God sent the plagues upon Egypt, and above all, had the innocent children of the Egyptians killed?

Yes. Our speculations as to what God would or would not do are not evidence. I might be inclined to say, "Surely God would not permit cancer!" But God has permitted it. The prudence of man's limited intelligence is not the measure of God's wisdom. As for the innocent Egyptian children, we must not view them merely as individuals. It is essential that they be viewed as social units. One nation as a nation was grinding another nation down in abject slavery and immense suffering- a nation whose services God wanted for a special purpose. The offending nation was punished as a nation, the parents suffering through their children. Those individually innocent children had their lives in this world curtailed, but they continued their existence in the next where they received just treatment from God. Meantime, if those children lacked some of the joys experienced by others who live longer, they also escaped many of the sorrows and afflictions of this world. In any case, a created being is completely owned by its Creator, and we have a right to life only so long as our Creator decrees.

128. I could go on almost forever quoting extraordinary things believers in the Bible must accept.

You could. But nothing would be gained by doing so. It would be surprising if an account of an omnipotent God's dealings with men did not contain extraordinary things. Once God's rights and God's power are in question, the extraordinary cannot be advanced as disproof of the events recorded. The Bible certainly cannot be proved untrue in that way.

129. Did the flood recorded in Genesis really occur?


130. So you believe that God repented that He had made man? In what sense do you understand that expression?

From the viewpoint of the human beings to whom God spoke. Naturally, in addressing a message to men, God speaks in a way which is intelligible to them. Now, when a man makes a thing which will not fulfill the purpose for which he made it, he destroys it, and sets to work again. Men did not fulfill God's will, and in quite a human way God says that He regrets having made man, and predicts mankind's destruction by the flood. But there was no change in God. There is a big difference between changing one's will, and willing a change in the destiny of others. God had always willed that if man did good, man would not be destroyed; and that if he did evil, he would be destroyed. The change was in the fortunes of men, not in God. The words, "God repented," therefore, are to be understood metaphorically according to human analogies, and from the aspect of the effects experienced by men.

131. To my mind the flood is simply a myth.

Your only reason for terming it a myth is the fact that you cannot see how it happened according to forces which no one claims to have been responsible for it, and according to conditions arbitrarily appointed by yourself. That is not a rational position. You should first ask what exactly is claimed concerning the flood, and what forces are supposed to have caused it.

132. Do you believe that rain for forty days could cover the whole earth with water above the highest mountains?

The Bible attributes the flood, not only to the rain, but also to an invasion of water from the sea. Moreover, the flood did not cover the whole of the earth, but the whole of the particular region where it occurred. The interpretation of the flood as local is not opposed to the expression in the Bible referring to "the whole of the earth." That is quite a usual expression for the whole of some given region. Thus, the famine in Egypt is described as a famine "over all the face of the earth."

133. The water could not remain banked up in a given region even to the height necessary to cover the mountains.

You forget that the Bible declares God to have been the cause of the flood. God is omnipotent. He can suspend, dispense with, and regulate the physical laws He established as He pleases, and without the slightest difficulty. Imagined difficulties by one who thinks only of created natural laws, leaving out the direct power of God, are of no value. The only way to refute the account of the flood is to refute the historical character of Genesis on other grounds: or to show that there is no God, or that He is not omnipotent. In other words, you must show that the cause alleged by Genesis either does not exist, or could not accomplish what is attributed to Him. But it is of no use to say that you do not see how it could happen in accordance with merely natural factors, when we grant that merely natural factors could not account for it. The waters were maintained in position by God's power during the time willed by God. This involved a miracle, insofar as God acted in a way outside the ordinary course of nature. But an omnipotent God who can create a universe can do with that universe, or any part of it, what He wills. The question is not as to whether God could do it, but as to whether He did do it. The Bible says that He did. There is positive evidence for it. There is no evidence against it. The flood is not a myth. It happened.

134. How could Noah build an Ark capable of holding two animals of every kind in the world?

The flood did not cover the whole face of the earth, but the whole area of that locality in which men existed. Animals, created prior to man, could have spread much farther afield, or could have been created according to their specific kinds in various places over the face of the earth. If we consider all types of animals in the whole of the world, there is a difficulty as to how the Ark, with its known measurements, could accommodate representatives of every type. But there is no need to imagine such conditions. Innumerable varieties of animals could have existed outside the flood area, and not come into contact with the disaster. It is sufficient that types of those animals in the locality subject to the flood were represented in the Ark.


135. To contain types of all animals in the world the Ark must have been of a tremendous size, probably larger than the Berengaria. What was its probable tonnage?

Allowing for the local character of the flood, the Ark would not have to be of so great a size as you think. As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us the size of the Ark. It was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet deep. It was, therefore, much smaller than the Berengaria, which was 883 feet long, 98 feet wide, and 57 feet deep. We can scarcely estimate comparative tonnage, as the Berengaria was of steel, with immense inner constructions and heavy engines. Its gross tonnage was 52,226. But the Ark was built of wood. I would say that in size it would have been much about the same as the average 6,000-ton steamer of today.

136. With two of every living thing on the Ark, the food problem would have to be considered. Many of the animals would have eaten the others, or would have died themselves.

The animals taken into the Ark for the sake of preservation were duly preserved, and emerged safely after the flood. Noah took on board stores of suitable food, at least sufficient to preserve life, even though it were possibly not the normal diet of every given animal. Keep in mind that the number of animals was far fewer than many imagine, for they were local specimens only. And here is a remarkable fact: In 1609, Peter Jansen, of Horn, in Holland, built a vessel according to the dimensions of the Ark as given in Scripture. And it was found that, even if a quarter of the space were given to storage of food, there would still be left more than 50 cubic feet for each 7,000 pairs of animals. But it is doubtful whether there were 7,000 pairs of animals in the Ark. And the provision of food for the duration of the flood was not so great a problem as is imagined.

137. If only the human beings in the Ark were saved, all men today must be descended from Noah and his family.

That is true.

138. Is it necessary to believe that there were no human survivors except those in the Ark?

That is not an article of faith. The opinion could be held, though it is the far less probable opinion, that not all men were drowned in the flood, but that some races had proceeded far afield, and had escaped it. Personally, I do not accept that opinion, which raises far greater difficulties than the ordinary view.

139. Anthropologists say that the Australian aboriginals are the most ancient of all peoples. In that case, they must have been in Australia when the flood occurred, contemporaneously with Moses.

That would not affect the doctrine of the flood, for Moses wrote of the flood many centuries after it occurred. I might mention that anthropologists are growing more and more modest in their attempts to gauge the antiquity of various races. They admit that many of their earlier speculations have failed to allow sufficiently for all the factors involved. Moreover, expert opinion declares that the Australian aboriginal belongs to the Caucasian group of peoples, and that his presence in Australia is due to migration from Asia.

140. You see no difficulty in accounting for the presence of the aboriginal in Australia, and the Indian in America?

No great difficulty presents itself. America was almost certainly joined to Asia in the remote past, at least in the North where Alaska almost touches Siberia. Australia, too, was probably connected by continuous land with Asia where today we have the numerous islands from Cape York to Singapore. But actual union between the countries would not be necessary. From time immemorial men have traveled vast distances in skiffs, or on rafts. In our own times, natives travel great distances in primitive boats made of the bark of trees, or of hollow logs. The difficulty of getting to remote places by water is not regarded today as any serious objection to the doctrine of a common source for the human race.

141. In Exodus XX., 5, we are told that God is a jealous God. Do you believe that to be true?

Yes, in the sense intended. Wherever there is love, there must be some kind of jealousy, for jealousy is but zeal on behalf of the object of one's love. But, just as there are different kinds of love, selfish or unselfish, so there are different kinds of jealousy. The more one loves, of course, the more one tries to exclude whatever could come between himself and the object of his love. Where a man, however, is usually jealous of others who would take from him one whom he thinks necessary for his happiness, God is jealous of all that would prevent Him from giving happiness to the souls He loves. To bring this home to the Jews, as His chosen people, and the particular object of His love, God spoke to them through the prophets in a way they could understand. He told them that Israel was wedded to Him; that He had espoused His chosen people; that idolatry, or worship of false gods, was simply "adultery" in His sight. And just as a man is jealous of his wife lest another should rob him of his exclusive right to her affection, so the Jews understood that, on the religious and spiritual plane, God insisted on His exclusive right to their devotedness and love. God's very justice demanded such a return for all the benefits His love had lavished upon them. His use of the human term "jealousy," therefore, was meant to bring home to them on their own level His exclusive claim to their spiritual allegiance. But in God, the term would have to be understood in a way proper to God, and not in a way proper to men.

142. In Exodus XX., God is recorded as forbidding us to kill, yet in XXXII., as ordering the Israelites to kill even brothers, friends, and neighbors!

The authorized and just death penalty ordered in the latter case was not in conflict with the commandment forbidding unauthorized and unjust killing. You must note, firstly, that this death penalty was ordered by the very God who forbade men to kill unjustly and on their own personal responsibility. And God should know His own law. Secondly, you should note the theocratic nature of the Jewish regime.

The Jews had God Himself as their Supreme Ruler even as regards their earthly welfare. Those who abandoned God for idolatry were guilty of treason, and punitive measures were justified. Also, they were giving themselves up to all manner of wickedness and immorality, and did not deserve to retain a life they were so abusing. God, therefore, the Supreme Author of life and death, decreed their extinction, but only after they had been afforded an opportunity to repent and return to Him. Those who refused to repent were to be put to death, and no tie of friendship was to hinder the execution of justice.

You speak as though God the Creator were conditioned by and limited to the rights of a creature. God is the Author of life, and we have no right to live longer than He wills. He who makes a thing has the right to unmake it, if it does not fulfill the purpose for which he made it. God has no obligation to keep rebellious men in existence; and He can appoint any given means of removing them from this world; above all, when it is supremely necessary to impress the gravity of man's obligations upon others.

All that is by way of explanation of God's command. The absence of contradiction between the two passages you quote is evident quite independently of the reasons for the particular event mentioned in your second reference.

143. If Moses is the author of Deuteronomy, who wrote the account of his death and burial towards the close of the Book?

Moses certainly could not have written those words. Joshua might thus have completed the Book, or else some other inspired, but unknown writer.

144. In Joshua X., 13, we read that the "sun stood still." Quite evidently the writer thought that the world was flat, and that the sun moved across the firmament.

It is not surprising that the writer was unaware of facts not discovered until hundreds of centuries after his time. But that has nothing to do with the inspiration or truth of the Bible. The writer set down the truth as it appeared in the external order. Even had he known that the earth is a globe, that it rotates on its own axis, and that it moves 'round the sun, he would probably and in fact certainly should have described the phenomenon just as he did. With all our scientific enlightenment we still speak of sunrise and sunset, though the sun does not rise, nor "go down." We express the apparent truth in everyday speech without any fear of being challenged concerning our veracity.

145. Did the sun stand still?

Relatively to this earth the sun is always still. It only appears to rise, move across the heavens, and set. The question should be, "Did God suspend the rotation of the earth for a given period?" There is no need to admit that He did so. The prolongation of daylight was a miracle wrought by God, but it could have been accomplished by a prolongation of the sun's rays. We all know how density of atmosphere apparently enlarges the sun towards evening, and how, too, by the refraction or bending of the sun's rays, the sun appears to remain visible even after we know that it must have gone below the ordinary line of vision with the actual horizon. By a miraculously caused refraction of the sun's rays God probably caused a prolongation of daylight, giving an effect which men would naturally describe as the sun standing still.

146. Did Jonah actually live in the whale for three days?

That depends upon the further question as to whether the incident be intended as strictly historical, or as a kind of parable with typical truth only. Catholic interpreters are free to regard it as an allegory. Most Catholic authors regard the story as historical. Granted the intervention of an omnipotent God, no one can say that it would be impossible. However, the Church has defined nothing concerning the interpretation of the Book of Jonah save that it is truly canonical and inspired by God.

New Testament "Contradictions"

147. Are there not many such contradictory passages in the New Testament?

There are no real contradictions in Scripture. A superficial reading may find passages which appear to be contradictory, but an examination of text and context by one who has the requisite knowledge and training in Biblical scholarship removes all idea of conflict. There is not a single instance of alleged contradiction that has not proved capable of rational solution. Enemies of revealed religion could continue asking captious questions interminably, stating objections in two or three plausible sentences, leaving to us the minute research, laborious examination, and the thirty pages of explanation necessary to educate them up to the standard required for an understanding of the problems they raise. From the earliest years of Christianity, critics have thus attacked the Scriptures, and they will do so till the end of the world. But the Scriptures remain, and will remain, accepted by intelligent and expert men of good will as the inspired Word of God. These men are as conversant with the objections as those who make them; but they are aware, too, of their superficial character in the vast majority of cases, and they know how all such difficulties yield to further examination and research. There is scarcely need to point out the folly of the man who thinks that, because he does not see the solution of a difficulty at once, no solution is possible!

148. In Galatians I., 15-22, .St. Paul says he did not go to Jerusalem to see the Apostles, but into Arabia, and then back to Damascus. In Acts IX., 25-30, St. Luke says that he went from Damascus to Jerusalem, and there met the Apostles.

No contradiction occurs there. St. Luke merely omits the additional details given by St. Paul to the Galatians. In writing to them, St. Paul wished to impress upon them that he had received the Christian revelation from God quite independently of the other Apostles. He practically says, "Do not think for a moment that any human being taught me what I preach to you. After my conversion I did not consult others, and I did not even go to Jerusalem to see the Apostles. I went into Arabia, and thence returned to Damascus. Then, three years after my conversion, I went to Jerusalem to see Peter." You see, St. Paul does not deny that he went to Jerusalem. He merely says that three years elapsed before he did so. St. Luke simply omits reference to St. Paul's solitude in Arabia, and merely states for the purpose of his summary of events that he went from Damascus to Jerusalem. He does not say that he did so immediately after his conversion. If a man left England, spent three vears in Colombo, and then came on to Australia, a shorter account of his life could say, "He left England and went to Australia." By its omission of reference to Colombo, the shorter account would not contradict a longer one which included such reference.

149. In Galatians I., 22, St. Paul says that he was unknown by face to the whole of Judea. Yet in Acts XXVI., 20, he tells Agrippa that he preached unto all the country of Judea.

There is no contradiction there. When he wrote to the Galatians he was speaking of the time before he had preached throughout Judea. When he was speaking to Agrippa, he had already preached there. The fact that he preached there subsequently cannot alter the fact that he was unknown by sight to the people of Judea before he did so.

150. The Old Testament says that lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, yet St. Paul writes to the Romans, "If the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie, am I to be judged a sinner?"

St. Paul puts that question only to refute the suggestion. He puts the question in Rom. III., 7, but in the very next verse says, "We are slandered, as some affirm that we say let us do evil that good may come, whose damnation is just." In Eph. IV., 25, the same St. Paul writes, "Wherefore, putting away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbor."

151. Christ praises marriage saying that, "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife." But St. Paul says, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman."

There is no contradiction in that. Our Lord says that, if a man does marry, he leaves father and mother in order to live with his wife. But He Himself counsels the renunciation of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Matt. XIX., 12. St. Paul therefore declares that one who chooses not to marry makes quite a good choice. The context shows, of course, that St. Paul had in mind not any merely selfish motives, but a choice based upon the idea of self-sacrifice, and a complete consecration of oneself to the love of God and the service of one's fellow men.

152. The Acts of the Apostles declare that women will prophesy, and speaks of a man's four daughters who did prophesy; yet St. Paul writes, "Suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

St. Paul in no way contradicted what was written in the Acts. Personal prophetical gifts were bestowed by God upon both men and women in the first days of the Church. But there is no trace of suggestion that they necessarily conferred any judicial authority or administrative rights in the Church; and St. Paul is dealing precisely with such rights. Also there is no suggestion that the bestowal of prophetical gifts was to be a permanent feature in the Church; and St. Paul's subsequent legislation that women were not to teach publicly in the Churches contradicted no acquired rights of such women. Apart from all this, however, a woman could still receive the gift of prophecy from God without any conflict arising with St. Paul's legislation forbidding women to teach or usurp authority.

153. St. Paul says that the powers that be are ordained of God, and that we must not resist them. Yet the powers that were are blamed for condemning Christ.

St. Paul justifies legitimate authority acting within the limits of its proper jurisdiction, and in accordance with the demands of justice. There is no obligation to admit that legislators are right when they exceed their powers, and are manifestly unjust. To have power is one thing. To abuse that power is quite another. And the condemnation of Christ was a criminal abuse of power which it is impossible to justify.

154. Both St. Peter and St. Paul say that we must be subject to our masters; yet Christ said that one only is your master, and St. Paul himself says, "Be ye not servants of men."

There is no conflict here. Christ was not referring to ordinary relationships between masters and servants, but used the term "master" in the sense of "teacher'": and He declared that He only was the source of doctrine, and that all were to be taught by Him and to hand on His teachings. No one was to set himself up as an independent teacher in his own right. Such words certainly do not gainsay the necessity of obedience on the part of servants to the authority of masters in ordinary everyday affairs. The explanation of St. Paul's words, "Be ye not the servants of men," is given by St. Paul himself. He is speaking of our allegiance to Christ as Christians, and merely declares that that allegiance must never be abandoned in favor of men. We must regard our souls as belonging to Christ, and to no one else. But this does not exempt us from duties within their own proper limits to earthly employers and masters. In fact, St. Paul adds, "Let everyone remain in the condition of life wherein he was called, but abide therein with God." Servants of men will, therefore, remain servants of men; but once they have become Christians they will regard their duties as duties to be fulfilled for the love of God, and not as before, a matter of routine and with no spiritual motives whatever.

155. St. James says that the anger of man worketh not the righteousness of God, yet St. Paul says, "Be angry and sin not."

St. Paul warns us not to go to excess and commit sin when we have just reason for resentment and indignation. St. James is dealing precisely with that excess. Man's tendency to anger is implanted by God as part of our very nature, and is quite a good thing in itself. It braces us to ward off things that could be to our harm. Indignation and anger are certainly good when they help a girl to repel unwelcome advances on the part of some evil man. Far from being sinful, anger is then a preservative against sin. In such a case St. Paul's advice is sound. "Be angry, and sin not." Unfortunately, however, anger, like all other passions, tends to get out of hand. It easily becomes immoderate, and we get angry over trifling matters, or merely because we dislike people, and then it is true that the anger of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Anger then tends to vent itself upon others without just cause, and often without any restraint at all. There is no contradiction therefore between St. Paul, who urges us to make a good use only of our tendency to resentment of evil; and St. James, who warns us against bad temper and excessive irascibility.

156. St. Paul told the Ephesians that they were saved by faith, and not by works; whilst St. James says that by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone.

St. Paul's doctrine is that good works cannot contribute to a man's salvation before he is united with Christ by faith. Because the gift of faith is supernatural, no previous good works can deserve it. A man can ask the gift of faith from God, and if he receives it, it is the first step towards his salvation. St. James tells us that after a man has received the gift of faith he is expected to live up to it. The two passages show that both faith and a life of good works in accordance with faith are necessary if one is to be justified in God's sight. Such has ever been the Catholic doctrine, and it excludes the two extremes of rationalism and early Protestantism. For the rationalist says that natural goodness without faith is enough for any man; whilst the early Protestants attacked the Catholic doctrine that good works are necessary for salvation, and taught that salvation depends on faith alone. But I have said enough to show that there is no trace of contradiction between St. Paul and St. James in this matter.




The Christian Religon

Christianity Alone True

157. You seem to think that the Christian religion is the only true religion.

I do not merely think it to be the only true religion. I know it to be so. I know that religion is as necessary to the human race as breathing. I know that there must be a true religion. I know that all other religions save that revealed by God and recorded in the Bible are false. Reason alone can provide sufficient grounds for that. Moreover, I know by the gift of divine faith that the contents of the Christian religion are true with the very truth of God.

158. If you were a Mahometan, you would think the same of your Mahometanism. So, too, if you were a Buddhist.

I deny that either a Mahometan or a Buddhist, or a member of any other non-Christian religion can ever have the same kind of certainty concerning his religious beliefs as that which is given by that particular grace of God known as the gift of Christian faith. Meantime, that others are convinced of the truth of their various religions merely shows that the human mind is limited; that men are affected by heredity and environment; and that they are prone to form very decided opinions without sufficient knowledge. But that does not affect the truth as it is in itself, and does not make all religions equal in value.

159. Much that is in Christianity is to be found in other religions also.

It would be very surprising were that not so. Religion is natural to man; and if men try to construct religious systems in accordance with their natural instinct and needs, they will naturally hit on some truth. And the basic natural truths in their various systems tend to content those who know no other religion, and to distract their attention from the accompanying human errors.

Not the Product of Religious Experience

160. It is often argued that Christianity is true because of its beneficial effect upon humanity.

Where it is practiced, it undoubtedly has that beneficial effect. Life is benefited by the Gospels. That could not but be the case, since both life and the Gospels have the same Author, God.

161. But the adjustment of the Gospels to human needs does not prove divine origin.

If we consider Christ's person, His doctrine in itself, the manner in which He taught it, together with its effect upon the lives of those who have practiced it sincerely, we have moral certainty that the religion of the Gospels is from God. We cannot account for it by merely human ingenuity. In fact, the greatest miracle of all would be for the merely natural ingenuity of Christ, were He nothing more than the son of Joseph, the carpenter, to evolve such a doctrine out of a merely human mind. In fact, it is impossible that a religion so perfect in all respects should be wrong in one point only, and that of such fundamental importance, its claim to a divine origin. Christ has been able to do what no other religion, and no philosopher, has ever been able to accomplish. He has given a doctrine which completely satisfies every legitimate aspiration of mankind. The argument is strengthened when we see that the loss of Christian faith and of the grace of Christ in a soul, or even in a nation, leads to vice, discord, pessimism and despair.

162. Could we not say that Christianity is the crystallization of the wisdom of mankind?

Not reasonably. Christendom drew its wisdom from the Gospels, and every departure from them has resulted in but a manifestation of folly.

163. I mean that the Gospels should be regarded as the fruit, and not the cause of human experience.

I don't think we could say that any more than we could say that a baby, being nourished, is giving, and not receiving milk. It is not human wisdom that made the Gospels. They are the Gospels that correct human folly.

Compared With Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.

164. Since other religions contain so much good, why do you rank them all as false?

Because not every particle of truth is "the" truth. Non-Christian religions are wrong because side by side with such natural truth as they have, they contain many errors; and because they say they are from God, whereas they are not.

165. Buddhism and Confucianism have an immense number of adherents, far outnumbering Christians.

Even if you take those two religions together that is not true. If you were to include all other non-Christian religions in the world you would attain your desired majority. Taken individually, neither Buddhism nor Confucianism is numerically equal to Catholicism. It would not matter if they were, for error could not become truth merely because those who are wrong happen to outnumber those who are right. As a matter of fact, the approximate and proportionate figures are as follows: Catholicism, 400 millions; Greek Orthodox Christians, 150 million; Protestantism, 220 million: Confucianism and Taoism, 350 million; Buddhism, 150 million; Hinduism, 230 million; Mahometans, 210 million. You apparently regard Buddhism as including Hinduism, though they differ. Also it must be noted that the Indian and Chinese systems are rather moral philosophies than religions strictly so-called; and that the religious elements in them are due to the natural religious inclinations of men trying to find vague expression through these philosophies.

166. Buddhism is of far greater antiquity than any Christian creed.

Superficially that may seem to be true, insofar as Christianity dates from Christ, whilst Buddhism originated with Buddha or Gautama, who was born about 557 B. C. In reality, however, Christianity is very much older in origin, for it is but the legitimate development of the primitive revelation given by God to our first parents, and of the progressive revelations given through the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as through Moses and subsequent Prophets. The primitive, patriarchal, and Mosaic religions were simply preparatory Christianity. And centuries before Buddha was born, men were looking forward to Christ their Savior, as we ourselves look back to Him for our salvation through His death on Calvary.

167. The Buddhist and Christian codes of conduct are apparently of similar portent.

You must not confuse external similarities in conduct with the code of that conduct. Man is essentially a social being, and it is not surprising that a leader should attract disciples and inculcate naturally good principles of morality. But the code of conduct in Buddhism differs immensely from the Christian code. Buddhism knows nothing of God nor of duties to God. It is based on a pessimistic view of life, and is entirely self-centered. It teaches that man is not essentially different from animals; that he goes through a series of transmigrations, ending practically in annihilation. Whilst Christians believe that they are created by God, and owe to God obedience and worship, serving Him in humility, and doing all for the love of Him, Buddhists regard man as a particle of a blind universe, whose whole aim is to escape distress and be at peace in this world. Even charity to others is based on love of self insofar as enmity disturbs one so much interiorly. Where Christians are saved by Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Buddhists need no savior. Buddha saves no one. He indicates his way, and each can attain the end by his own powers. Again there is but one Christ for all ages. But there must be a series of Buddhas, a new Buddha appearing as the work of each one fails. I cannot go through all the differences. But I have said enough to show that the codes of Buddhism and of Christianity are essentially different.

168. Has it not been claimed that Christianity copied many rules of conduct from Buddhism?

That has been claimed, but by writers who have judged too hastily from apparent resemblances. Some scholars have asserted a derivation of certain Christian practices from Buddhism; others, that later Buddhistic practices have been derived from Christianity. But deeper research has led scholars to deny both suppositions, holding that the similarities are more apparent than real; and that they are natural developments, independently of one another, from the respective aspirations of the two systems.

169. Has not a virgin birth been claimed for Buddha?

No authentic claims can be advanced on behalf of any abnormal birth in regard to Buddha. The oldest writings concerning him were compiled several centuries after his death, and they are full of imaginary elements. But even the legend of Buddha does not claim a virgin birth. We are told that Buddha was born of Maya, the wife of Suddhodana. Suddhodana and Maya had lived as husband and wife for years, but Maya was childless. Maya, however, miraculously conceived a child "by a ray of the sun." The child was named Siddhartha, with the surname Gautama, in honor of a Vedic poet. His followers speak of him as Buddha, the "wise one." The Buddhist tradition, therefore, does not say that Gautama was born of a virgin; and the cause of his conception-a ray of the sun-is obviously folklore. There is no parallel between the legendary birth of Buddha, and the historical virgin birth of Christ.

170. How do you account for the solidity and perpetuation of Buddhism and Confucianism?

So far as solidity is concerned neither Buddhism nor Confucianism has preserved a really consistent body of doctrine through the ages. There is nothing in them like the stability of dogmatic teaching in the Catholic Church. Both are rather ethical systems of conduct. Their perseverance is easily accounted for. Man is naturally religious, and he will tend to cling to the religion he has been taught, above all, when the true religion has not been brought within his reach. And even when the true religion has been put before him. the influence of heredity and environment, together with prejudice, may prevent his viewing it impartially.

171. How do the personalities of Buddha and Confucius compare with that of Christ?

They cannot be ranked as on the same plane as that of Christ. Neither Buddha nor Confucius claimed to be more than ordinary human beings. They did not even claim to be able to show their fellow men the way to God, for they knew nothing of God. They claimed to show men the way to peace of soul, and how to escape the worries and trials of this life. Christ claimed to be God, and demanded for Himself the love and absolute service of men. There is all the difference in the world between the Divine Personality of Christ and the merely human personalities of Buddha and of Confucius. According to Buddha's own teachings, he himself has gone through various transmigrations, having previously been a beggar, a lion, a bird, an elephant, a king, and various other types. He attained perfection, so the legend says, and had a right to enter Nirvana; but he preferred to be born again in order to teach men the road to wisdom and to freedom from the miseries of life.

Confucius was born about six years earlier than Buddha. This Chinese philosopher was a great reader and collector rather than an original thinker. He edited the ancient Chinese classics, and taught a system of natural ethics. He concentrated on behavior in this world, and admitted that he knew nothing beyond this world, although he did not deny a future life.

Of no other person in history could such words be written as those used by St. John in speaking of Christ: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us."

172. Does not Mahometanism worship the true God?

It does, but in the wrong way. No one with a sense of logic and a knowledge of history could accept Mahometanism as a religion truly revealed by God. Mahomet was born about 570 A. D. He founded a religion of his own, blended of Arabic, Jewish, and Christian elements. But his moral standards fall infinitely below those of the Christian teachings, whilst many of his doctrines and the history of his religious movement cannot possibly claim a divine origin and protection in the light of critical analysis.

173. Perhaps if you knew more of other religions you would not continue to be a Roman Catholic.

You have no grounds for that supposition. Of one thing I am quite certain. If there be any true religion in this world today it is the Catholic religion. It is a choice, therefore, between Catholicism, or no religion at all. But to have no religion is such a complete violation of reason that no instructed and intelligent man could entertain such an idea for a moment. You can be quite sure that I will spend the rest of my life as a Catholic, and die in that faith. If such absolute certainty seems strange to you, it is only because your own religion has never been able to enkindle a similar confidence within you.

174. Have you yourself ever studied other religions besides the Catholic religion?

I have been doing it practically all my life. Like everybody else, of course, I was born a pagan. But after a few weeks I was christened in the Anglican Church, and took Anglicanism for granted until later reflection altered my views. Despite my being an Anglican, I attended Methodist and Presbyterian Sunday Schools as a child; but later on, when I left school and went to work, dropped all religion in practice. When, for the first time the claims of the Catholic Church were brought to my notice, I reacted against them rather violently, and resumed my attendance at the Anglican Church, and sought the help of the Anglican rector of the parish to preserve my Protestant faith. With him I went into the whole question of religion deeply, and he ended by telling me that he thought I ought to become a Catholic, considering the convictions at which I had arrived. I had no thought then of becoming a priest, of course. But later on, I felt that such was God's will, and after a twelve years' course of studies here in Australia, I was ordained as a Catholic priest. Thereupon I went to Rome to do two more years of study there, and ever since have been engaged chiefly in the study of comparative religion. This has necessitated the constant reading of what other religions and churches have to say for themselves, and I can but assure you that the more knowledge I have attained, the greater has become my certainty of the truth of the Catholic Church.

175. Have you ever studied the religion of Bahaism?

I have. It is a popular religion of mushroom growth in recent times, though it claims to be very ancient in origin.

176. Could you tell me something of its history?

According to the Bahais, the last of the Mahometan Shiite sect of 12 Imans died in Persia about 940 A. D. But he did not really die. He continued to live in the beyond, directing the world from a distance through an intermediary or a gate called a Bab. This went on for 69 years when the last Bab died without appointing a successor. In 1844, a young Persian decided to announce himself as a Bab, restoring communication with the last Iman. This young Persian was murdered in 1850, but his followers, the Babis, said that he had promised the advent of the One longed for by all peoples, the Mighty Educator, who would give the Most Great Peace to all mankind. One of the leaders of the Babis, named Baha'u'llah, suddenly declared, in 1863, that he was the Mighty One promised. Baha'u'llah preached his religion chiefly in Baghdad. One of his followers, named Ibrahim George Khay-ar'u'llah, who had married an English wife, went to America about 1892, and began to spread the worship of Baha'u'llah there. The movement so grew that in 1902 a magnificent temple was commenced in Chicago, on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1911, Abdul-Baha, whom Baha'u'llah, before his death, had appointed Chief Apostle, went to America, and Protestant Churches of various denominations were thrown open to him for lectures. He taught that Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ, and Mahomet, had all been precursors of Baha'u'llah, and that in Baha'u'llah men would find the fullness of God's revelation, and the Most Great Peace. Moreover, Baha'u'llah is responsible for all that happens in the world, and those who become Bahais will attain true spiritual power and share with him in supreme control of all things. A National Assembly has been formed in America to rule the cause of the Most Great Peace there, and to see to its expansion. This strange religious aberration is winning many credulous souls who have lost their grip on such religion as they previously possessed, and are in search of a new one.

Rejected by Modern Jews

177. Why do the Jews today still deny the claims of Christ?

Because they are not sufficiently interested to go into the question. Most of them are content with what their fathers before them have believed. Then, too, the Jews have a most strong national bond identified with their religion, and their very sense of isolation from other peoples even whilst in the midst of them keeps them aloof from the religion of others. Furthermore, the Jews still center their hopes and expectations upon a salvation restricted to this world, devoting little thought to the hereafter and to the supernatural. Finally, I think most Jews have a latent consciousness of the ill-treatment to which they have been subject, often most unjustly, by professing Christians; and this in itself would leave a kind of repugnance for the religion of those who injured them, predisposing them against so much as considering its claims.

178. How do the Jews stand in relation to Christianity today?

Judaism as a religion is no longer acceptable to God. The one true religion in this world is the Christian religion. But the Jewish people, as a whole, are a witness to the Christian religion in spite of themselves. They are dispersed everywhere, yet are one race and a permanent feature of this world. They manifest the very predictions of their own Scriptures, and of Christ, by their very refusal to sec the realization of those predictions. They preserve the very texts and prophecies announcing that they will love the promises, yet reject the fulfillment of those promises. It is a marvelous thing. How far individual Jews are responsible to God for their rejection of Christ must, of course, be left to God. The modern Jew would not be nearly so responsible as those Jews who actually saw and heard Christ in person.

179. Would a good and practicing Jew go to heaven, despite his not being baptized a Christian?

Yes, provided through no fault of his own he did not at any time advert to the truth of Christianity, and to the necessity of actual baptism; and provided he sincerely believed Judaism to be still the true religion, and died truly repentant of all serious violations of conscience during life.

The Demand for Miracles

180. If God wants people to become Christians would not you, seeing the appalling conditions today, and believing in miracles as you do, expect God to work more miracles to convert us unbelievers?

No. You see, as a Catholic, I believe that miracles can occur, and I know from history that miracles have occurred. But I do not therefore think that miracles should occur whenever human speculation decides that they would be opportune. As for the appalling conditions of today, history makes me doubt whether it is relatively more appalling than in other ages. There is a danger that we, who are sensitive to the present ills of humanity, will tend to discount the miseries of previous ages to which others were sensitive, and to think that no one has suffered as we.

181. If Jesus was God, as you believe, and came to earth once, might He not reasonably make an occasional reappearance, especially in such times as these?

That is not a reasonable expectation. How could it be, when we know definitely that when God did appear in the midst of men, He declared that His next coming would be at the end of time? That necessarily excludes occasional reappearances in our midst. Nor can I see what benefits you think would arise from such reappearances. When God did become incarnate and dwelt amongst men, multitudes who met Him refused to believe in Him. The same thing would happen again. He came once to pay the price of man's redemption; and that having been done, all who have the good will may benefit by it. If they have not the good will, they would not benefit by His coming again. And such times as these have no greater claim upon Him than any other times.

The Necessity of Faith

182. The problem of religion seems to be extraordinarily difficult.

The problem is extraordinarily difficult yet extraordinarily simple. The simplest truth revealed by God is extraordinarily deep when we try to sound it to its full depths. Yet faith in all that God has taught is a simple act, based not on the understanding of every least thing God has revealed, but on a consciousness of the claims of God to our allegiance no matter what He reveals. By this faith, which a child can possess, we accept all that He reveals in general, and each thing as further study reveals it to us as contained in the general revelation. But this faith is a gift of God, to be prayed for rather than to be attained by our own efforts, even though our own efforts are required as a disposing condition.

183. You maintain that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation?

I maintain that Christ is the Savior of mankind, and that there is no salvation except through Christ. A man's own efforts cannot accomplish his salvation, for man cannot be his own redeemer. If any man is saved, therefore, he will owe it to the grace of Christ. But as regards actual faith in Christ, professed during one's lifetime, that will be required only of those who have had Christian teaching sufficiently manifested to them. One who has had sufficient opportunity to believe in Christ is guilty before God if he refuses deliberately to do so, and dies still rejecting His teaching authority. Therefore, Christ said, "He who believes shall be saved; he who believes not, shall be condemned."

184. What of those who have never heard of Christianity and follow other beliefs?

God obliges no one to the impossible. If these people are sincere in their mistaken beliefs, try to obey natural conscience, and repent of their failures and sins, God will give them the necessary interior graces for their salvation, graces due to the merits of Christ. The moment after their death they will know that Christ has been their Redeemer, even though, through no fault of their own, they did not recognize the fact during life.

185. What of the countless millions before Christ?

The same answer applies to them also. Those who knew of the Old Testament promises of the Redeemer to come had to have faith in those promises of God as a condition of their salvation. Others were in the same position as those today who have never heard of Christ. But all graces given prior to Christ, whether to those who believed in God's revelation, or to the inculpably ignorant, were given in view of Christ's death on the Cross; and He is the Savior of all.

186. Faith is a blind acceptance of what we do not know to be true, and religion is but organized ignorance.

The Christian faith is certainly not blind. It is wide-awake acceptance of what God has taught only after one has solid evidence that God has so spoken. If a man is ill, it is faith in the medical profession that takes him to the operating table; and far from this being an ignorant action, it is a most wise one. The same principle is involved in an act of faith in God's reliability when He deigns to teach us truth in the supernatural order.

187. Is it a virtue to be so convinced of one's own beliefs as to exclude any possibility of being wrong?

Not if one's own beliefs happen to be the result of one's own speculations, with nothing particularly in their favor save that one desires to maintain them. It is a virtue, however, to maintain the absolute truth of what Christ has taught, once one has attained the reasonable conviction that He is God. For true virtue refuses to admit that God does not know what He is talking about, or that He is given to telling lies. It is not a question of refusing to admit a possibility of our being wrong. It is a question of refusing to admit the possibility of God being wrong. Virtue forbids blasphemous insults against God.

188. Once you say that your religion deals with the infinite and the supernatural you rule out any possibility of knowing it to be true.

You are confusing two things, a religion as a religion, and the contents of its teachings. For example, we can know in the strict sense that Christ really existed, that He claimed to be God, and wrought more than enough signs to justify belief in that claim. A Christian knows that his religion is the one true religion. The teachings of that religion, which deal with the infinite and supernatural, he believes by faith. He knows that God teaches certain things, but because they are beyond human comprehension, he believes them by faith in God's knowledge and veracity.

189. However reasonable a thing may be, if it is not demonstrable, it remains mere theory.

You are not making sufficient allowance for the different kinds of demonstration, the one from intrinsic evidence, the other from extrinsic evidence. For example, I know that two and two make four by intrinsic evidence. I have only to set out two units with another two units before me, and I know that there are four units. But proof by extrinsic evidence differs. I prove that God exists from reason. By history I prove that He said this thing. But since what He says is as far above me as the Einstein theory of relativity is above the powers of a child of seven, I believe it simply because He says so. And I have a genuine knowledge of the truth based upon His authority. It is not mere theory. A theory is a probable guess, a conjecture, or an hypothesis. But the doctrine I believe is not a guess, conjecture, or hypothesis of my own.

Difficulties Not Doubts

190. Take faith in the Trinity. You admit that, since it is a mystery, you cannot demonstrate its truth beyond doubt.

We know the truth of the Trinity beyond all doubt. We cannot demonstrate the existence of three divine Persons in the one divine Nature by intrinsic evidence drawn from an experimental knowledge of the divine Nature as it is in itself. But we can give all that reason requires to exclude all doubt as to its truth. Negatively we can show that the doctrine does not violate any rational principles. Positively we can show that God has revealed the doctrine.

191. The evidence in support of the theory of the Trinity, like the evidence in support of the theory of evolution, is incomplete; therefore, we cannot "know" either theory to be correct.

Not for a single moment can one speak of the theory of evolution and of the doctrine of the Trinity as if they were on a par in the realm of our knowledge. Evolution is a conjecture of men based on a probable guess of human reason alone, and without adequate data. The doctrine of the Trinity is the authentic teaching of Christ with all the authority of God, who obviously must know the facts. The Trinity, therefore, is not a theory; it is absolutely certain with all the certainty of God's omniscience.

192. Does not the Church demand faith precisely because we cannot know it to be true?

We have a mediate knowledge of its truth. We know that God is a reliable source of information, and that He has taught the doctrine.  We believe it because God teaches it, and our faith gives us a knowledge of the truth which has an extrinsic certainty far above all degrees of mere probability. Evolution is a mere theory because man has not sufficient evidence to demonstrate its truth, and has no other source of information concerning it save that of the world about him. If, however, God stepped in and revealed to man that the evolutionary theory is true, then it would no longer be a mere theory, but a certainty, even though men discovered not a scrap more natural evidence to support it. Men would know of its truth just as a child would know the right answer to a sum if told by a teacher, despite omission or inability on the part of the child to do the preliminary work necessary to arrive at that answer. In the same way we have certainty of the religious truths God has revealed.

193. Can one cling to the Christian faith despite intellectual difficulties which defy solution concerning its doctrines?

Yes, for difficulties concerning revealed mysteries do not affect the sound and reasonable foundation for one's acceptance of Christianity as the revelation of God. A difficulty in comprehending the full significance of a thing is not a doubt concerning its existence. There are scores of difficulties concerning things we know to be facts in the natural order with scientific certainty; but we do not deny them because of that.

Proofs Available

194. You admit, then, that Christianity cannot be proved?

I have never said that. It may demand faith in doctrines above the powers of human reason in themselves, but it can prove itself to have been revealed by God.

195. If you have anything like proof, men like Professor Haldane, who was deeply versed in the arguments for Christianity, yet who does not believe in it, must be incurably stupid.

Professor Haldane is not deeply versed in the arguments for Christianity. He has made the most elementary blunders in his attempts at stating them. And however well versed he may be in his own department of natural science, I am afraid that he is incurably stupid in at least some other matters. Listen to one of his considered statements: "I am prepared to admit the possibility," he writes, "that I am nothing but a biologically and socially convenient fiction." That is certainly a stupid statement, and a repudiation of reason as a guide to truth at all.

196. You really mean that you can find arguments to support the belief of those already inclined to such belief.

I do not mean that. Men have been convinced by the evidence for Christianity who were not in the least inclined to Christian beliefs when they took up the study of the question. And of those convinced, some have yielded to their convictions, making their act of faith in Christian teaching; others have not. Whether a man is inclined to accept Christian beliefs or not, sufficient proof is available for every reasonable man to show that the Christian religion has been revealed by God, and that its teachings have the guarantee of His authority.

Dispositions of Unbelievers

197. Look at the numbers thirsting after all sorts of panaceas for salvation.

I deny that they want salvation as we Christians understand it. They may thirst for panaceas of this world's ills so that they can enjoy this world's goods and bodily comforts and pleasures without concomitant penalties. They want what they desire, not what God tells them they ought to desire. And the end in view being wrong, they naturally ignore the means to the right end. Rejecting the supernatural end or destiny which God offers, they propose another end to be attained independently of Him. All they know is that all the means they have tried so far to get to their self-constituted end have failed. But they will not renounce the material and selfish end they propose to attain. So they are still trying and grasping at all sorts of panaceas, and are left still thirsty.

198. Don't say that men do not choose to believe because the way of salvation is hard.

That is precisely what I must say. Some people are so intellectually lazy that it is too hard on them to undertake the study of God's revelation. Others are so proud that it is too hard on their self-esteem to ask them to submit to authoritative teaching of any kind. Others are so immersed in earthly ambitions that it is too hard on them to accept supernatural and spiritual ideals instead. Others again are so subject to self-indulgence in a hundred and one ways that a religion asking self-denial is altogether too hard for them to consider for a moment.

199. Men are ready to submit to anything provided they can realize their ideals.

You well say "their" ideals. But they are not prepared to sacrifice "their" ideals for those proposed to them by Almighty God. Men will sacrifice what they consider the lesser good for what they consider the greater good. And often some good of the present moment will seem greater than a future good which in their calm moments men will admit to be really the higher and better. People whose one ideal is to have a good time will sacrifice rest, health, and money in the cause. Others, whose ideals are based on utilitarian rather than upon pleasurable earthly ambitions, will sacrifice comfort and well-being in the fight for their objective. With some people individual motives prevail. But they stake all on earthly and materialistic considerations, which they are not prepared to sacrifice for supernatural and spiritual considerations. They will not serve God. It is humanity that is to be served and worshipped, either in their own precious persons, or in mankind as a whole. Man is lord of creation to a certain extent, but he is a vassal king, subject to God, and obliged to serve God. But human pride revolts. Men refuse to admit that they owe homage to God. They will be independent, self-sufficient, the sole object of their own worship. All must minister to them, and they to nobody. And all must be measured according to its relationship to their earthly progress, comfort, and welfare. In other words, man is made for man, and not for God. And this deification of man is the great idolatry. Men are fascinated by it. Humanity is set up on an altar, as was a woman as the goddess of reason in the Cathedral of Notre Dame during the French Revolution. And sacrifices are made for the glorification and satisfaction of humanity whether in self, or the nation, or the race, to the accompaniment of clouds of incense in the form of adulation, and of hymns of praise for men's noble ideals of themselves. This is the great obstacle to religious belief in God, and to the acceptance of His revelation.

200. See what men have endured under Communism and Fascism, in order to realize their ideals!

These things are bound up only with the earthly and material interests of humanity. Men are striving for what they think will serve themselves best, not that they themselves may serve God. And whatever they may be prepared to sacrifice for their own sake, they are not prepared to sacrifice themselves for God's sake. That they find too hard; and that is why they refuse to consider a revealed religion which demands an abdication of self and detachment from the fascination of earthly attractions. Even did they study it scientifically and sufficiently to realize that God's revelation is credible, they would refuse to make its teachings the object of their faith and conduct. Not every man yields to evidence; and there is a lot of truth in the saying that "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." The basic difficulty as regards the Christian religion is that men's wills are wrong. And that hinders the perception of the truth. So Christ said, "Everyone that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved." And to love this world as if it were the be-all and end-all of man is doing evil. It is the repudiation of God. And Christ warned us against it when He said, "Love not the world," indicating the supreme law, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and mind, and strength." Lack of the good will to do that is the basic reason for intellectual rejection of God's revelation.




A Definite Christian Faith

One Religion is Not as Good as Another

201. If Christ came to earth today, would He not bless all the Christian Churches, despite their doctrinal differences?

No. Remember that Jesus said, "I am the Truth." Truth excludes error. He founded His Church and said, "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen." That does not sound much like a blessing. Again He said to His Apostles, "He who despises you despises Me; and he who despises Me, despises Him that sent Me." Also, "He that is not with Me is against Me." And if it be true that Sunday should be observed by Christians, would He have a blessing for the Church which still insists on the Jewish Saturday? If He be really present in the Blessed Eucharist, would He be equally pleased with the doctrine of those who deny His presence there? He would say, "I do not blame those who are mistaken through no fault of their own, but I object to doctrines which deny the truth I revealed to mankind. And I cannot bless organizations devoted to the diffusion of error."




202. I'm not a Catholic, but God has heard my prayers in many ways.

That in no way disproves what I have said. The Catholic Church teaches that God will hear the sincere prayer of anyone at all, even though that person's religion be quite erroneous, provided the person be in good faith and does not suspect it to be wrong. God would hear the earnest prayer of a sincere Mahometan; but that would not make Mahometanism the correct religion. And that God hears the sincere prayer of a sincere Protestant does not make it just as right to be a Protestant as to be a Catholic. Those who really love Christ want to belong to the true Church He founded, and not to any other. And the Church He established is the Catholic Church.

203. Are not a conscientious Catholic and a conscientious Protestant equal in God's sight?

They may have equally good dispositions, but they have not equally good religions. The Catholic has the advantage of the full truth, and greater means of grace at his disposal. Protestantism, after all, lacks the Mass, and many of the Sacraments, besides a clear knowledge of Christ's teachings on many essential matters.

204. At judgment will Protestants be told that they were on the wrong path?

They will certainly be told that. But they will not be blamed for the mistake if they were in no way responsible for it. God will judge them on other factors; and if indeed they have been faithful to their conscientious convictions, they will save their souls. But realizing then that the Catholic religion was right, little as they suspected it, they will say, "Had we but known when we were on earth, we certainly would have become Catholics."

205. Would you deny that God offered grace and guidance to such Protestants?

Certainly not. God gave them the graces necessary for their salvation, and to do His will according to their convictions. If in His goodness God had offered them the gift of faith in the Catholic Church they would have become Catholics. If they did not become Catholics it was only that they did not receive the particular grace necessary to perceive the truth of the Catholic Church. God respected their good will, and gave the graces necessary for a life of sincere virtue, or at least necessary for final repentance and death in His love and friendship.

Changing One's Religion

206. It is only natural that people should believe what they have been taught from childhood.

That is quite true, and, therefore, we do not blame people for mistakes for which they are not responsible. But the fact that people tend to believe what they have been taught from childhood does not make what they have been taught right. Would you say that, because a Protestant child takes it for granted that Protestantism is right, and a Catholic child takes it for granted that Catholicism is right, both Protestantism and Catholicism are equally right? They cannot be. Catholicism says that it is absolutely necessary to be subject to the Pope. Protestantism says just the opposite. How can both be right?

207. I think we should die in the religion in which we are born.

That is an antichristian principle. Were it sound, why did not Christ tell the Jews to die in the religion in which they were born, instead of asking them to accept His religion? And, even on reason alone, must a man live and die in the religion of his parents even though he discovers it to be wrong?

208. One who leaves the religion of his parents is a traitor.

A traitor is one who leaves a cause he knows to be right, and does so from unworthy motives. But would you say that St. Paul was a traitor when he abandoned what he knew to be wrong in order to embrace the religion of Christ once he had perceived it to be right?

209. Should people change their religion when they get married?

If they discover their religion to be wrong, they should abandon it whether they marry or not. If they know it to be right, they should not abandon it for any consideration on earth. Marriage has nothing whatever to do with this question. Religion is concerned with duties to one's Creator. No desire to please a fellow creature can affect one's duties to God.

210. Should not a woman embrace the religion of her husband?

Such a principle could never be admitted. For then, were her husband a pagan, she would have to become a pagan; if a Jew, she would have to become a member of the Jewish religion; if a Methodist, or a Presbyterian, or an Anglican, or a Baptist, or anything else, she would have to become a member of one of those religions. God's rights, and the claims of conscience, would then become a mockery. The principle must stand that the relation between the soul and God cannot be affected by any relationships with human beings. This principle is of universal application.

211. Then a Protestant cannot become a Catholic in order to marry a Catholic?

That is true. However desirable it might be that both should be Catholics, if the Protestant party conscientiously believes the Catholic religion to be wrong, he cannot possibly embrace that religion. What he can do, however, is this: He can suspect that he has not enough knowledge of the Catholic religion; or that he even has mistaken notions about it. For the sake of his wife he can, therefore, study the Catholic religion. Then, if he becomes convinced of its truth, he can embrace it for its own sake, and for the love of God. I hope all is now clear. Marriage is not a reason in itself for the changing of one's religion. But marriage to a Catholic would certainly justify a Protestant in undertaking a close study of the Catholic religion to see whether he could conscientiously accept it.

212. It is out of place for a man to adopt his wife's religion.

As no woman should adopt a religion merely because it is that of her husband, so no man should adopt a religion merely because it is that of his wife. Ever human being owes it to God to find out the true religion, and having found it, to embrace it. This obligation falls on every soul, independently of the question of sex. If the wife's religion happens to be the true religion, then the man should embrace that religion, not for his wife's sake, but from a sense of duty to God.  If the man's religion happens to be the true one, then the wife should join it.

Catholic Convictions and Zeal

213. In mixed marriages it is always the Protestant husband who is converted to the Catholic wife's religion, never the Catholic who accept the Protestant religion. Why do Catholics cling to their position so rigidly?

Because it is certain that the Catholic party has the true religion. And, therefore, Catholics cling to their religion for the love of God, and of Christ, and of their own souls. Knowing that the Catholic religion is true, Catholics know that they can please God only by fidelity to their religion; and that they would offend Him seriously by leaving it. Duty to God is the most important thing in life. To be what God wants her to be is a better and nobler thing for any woman than to be what her husband would like her to be. And no husband can take God's place in his wife's soul. Secondly, we must think of Christ. He established the Catholic Church only, and to that Church we owe obedience for the love of Christ. To abandon the Catholic Church is to abandon Christ, and cry out with those who put Him to death, "Away with Him. Let Him be crucified." Catholics cannot bring themselves to do that. Thirdly, we Catholics understand the duty to our own souls. Our religion is dearer to us than life itself. We know its truth and beauty and value as others do not. And we need the help our religion alone can give us. To abandon our Holy Mass, our Communions, the opportunity of sacramental absolution in Confession, our devotion to our Lady, the Mother of Christ, in fact, all the privileges of our religion-one who asks us to do this does not realize what he is asking. Never can there be any peace of soul for us save in the Catholic religion.

214. Can any one group claim to be exclusively right, and that others are accordingly wrong?

If not, every one of us is radically uncertain as to whether his religion is right or wrong. Christ could never have intended that. He taught the truth with authority, and promised to safeguard it till the end of time. Being the very Son of God, He could do so, and He chose to do so by means of an infallible Church. And he who wants the religion of Christ must belong to that infallible Church. To understand this, contrast Christ with some merely human philosopher. Take Aristotle. When Aristotle was dead, his teaching, so coherent, intellectual, and positive fell into the hands of disciples of diverse tendencies, who dragged it in all directions, and finally degraded it into rank materialism. Now Christ, knowing what was in man, and possessing means not possessed by Aristotle, took precautions against such distortion and destruction of His teachings.  He organized and guaranteed His Church from the doctrinal as well as from the practical point of view. He Himself was the Light. When He departed He left His Church to be the Light of mankind to shine, not with a light of its own, but with His Light, as infallibly reliable as Himself. All religions which conflict with the Catholic Church therefore are mistaken.

215. If others think their own religion the right one, should Catholics try to convert them?

Yes, although prudence is required in the exercise of that duty. Christ bade the Church preach the Gospel to every creature. And every Catholic shares to some extent in the obligation laid upon the whole Church. No Catholic, therefore, can be indifferent to the conversion of non-Catholics, however sincere they may be. Catholics are obliged to hope for their conversion, and contribute towards the apostolate by prayer and good example, letting their light shine before men. Where advisable and acceptable, also, they should speak of the subject to others, giving good advice, suggesting the study of Catholicism, and urging the reception of instruction from accredited priests. The fact that others are in good faith, and think themselves right, does not alter the fact that they are mistaken, and that they would be far better off spiritually did they possess the full truth. And charity should make every Catholic desire to bring such blessings into the lives of others.

Religious Controversy

216. It seems a tragic waste of power against the common enemy of evil when the Churches detract from each other's good works.

I do not detract from any good works of other Churches. I regret indeed their mistakes, and pray for unity. But I know that the only way to unity is by the return of the children of Protestantism to the one Catholic Church their forefathers should never have left. Meantime, you have hit upon one of the tragic disasters which resulted from the divisions due to the abandoning of the Catholic Church by so many at the time of the Reformation. I have watched an ant dragging to its home a dead beetle. Other ants with equal good will rushed to help it, but only to pull in other directions. It seemed a ludicrous waste of energy. Now, the Catholic Church alone was really commissioned by Christ to bring back humanity to God. No one could blame the Protestant Churches for trying to do the same. But it is a vast pity that they separated from the Catholic Church, each pulling in a different direction.

217. I do not believe in religious discussions which always awaken strong feelings.

Religion does not exempt us from the use of reason. The head as well as the heart has its duty. And if we are obliged to think about religious matters, there is no reason why we should be forbidden an interchange of thought with others on the subject. Why should a discussion about politics be right, yet a discussion about religion be wrong? The interchange of thought by discussion has led thousands from erroneous ideas to the truth on innumerable subjects. Surely, you will not say that it is good to rectify mistakes in other matters, but that religious mistakes should be the accepted thing. With you, I would certainly object to quarreling over religion. But there is no need for religious discussion to develop into a quarrel. The rejection of some particular religious position is quite consistent with politeness, and respect for the person who sincerely maintains that position.

218. Since quarrels do arise with much sectarian bitterness, would it not be better to avoid all discussion of religion?

If truth has any value, the search for it must go on, even though it hurts at times. After all, Christ came to teach the truth, and He was not deterred from doing so by the disturbances He caused amongst those not disposed to hear it. We know the ill-feeling He caused in many of His listeners, and what it meant to Himself in the end. The fault, of course, was in the evil dispositions of His enemies. We ourselves must learn to confine our efforts to reasoned judgments on doctrines, principles, and historical facts. Great difficulty arises even here, for unconsciously there is a danger of distorting the truth itself through partisan spirit and lack of intense love for intellectual honesty. We all have the tendency to accept as true those things we would like to be true, and merely because our inclinations tend in that direction. To rise above that tendency, and to put aside all likes and dislikes, is almost the first requirement in all who earnestly wish to discover the truth.

219. Mutual recriminations are so futile.

I wish they were only that. They are positively injurious and never justified. Both Catholics and Protestants should discard once and for all everything unfair, rude, hateful, unkind, or simply unpleasant about each other. Mutual recriminations do no good and much harm. Instead of perpetuating causes of irritation and hostility, we should all try to correct religious errors wherever we may find them, whether in ourselves or in others; but this must be done with a calm loyalty to truth, and without any concession to blind feeling and prejudice.  And always, whilst weighing the value of principles, we must leave persons to God, our own charity giving them credit, as far as possible, for the best of intentions. This does not mean that one must be a hypocrite, adjusting all that is said to what one thinks other people will like, whether it be right or wrong. One must be sincere and straight, never seeking to win people at the expense of truth. That the problem is exceedingly difficult, owing to the psychological differences in various types of people, I do not deny. But we must do our best, leaving results to God.




The Curse of Bigotry

220. Do you think intolerance and bigotry will gradually disappear as the denominations get to know one another better?

There is, of course, far too much sectarianism and bigotry in existence, and no one could condemn it too strongly. But the remedy for it goes beyond a merely closer knowledge of others. The essential thing is an immense increase in charity, or love for all others, whatever be their beliefs. In the meantime, all should work to eliminate the basic cause of sectarianism, that almost unintelligible division of the sects from one another, and from the Catholic Church.

221. The very claim that yours is the only true Church indicates your bias against others.

If you mean that I am unreasonably prejudiced against them, I must deny the charge. If you mean that I accept the Catholic religion to the exclusion of the claims of other religions, I must plead guilty. But in that case every person who refuses to believe what others want him to believe must be regarded as biased.

222. Such claims cannot but meet with the charge of bigotry.

Anyone who has set convictions on almost any subject, but above all on religious matters, is liable to that accusation from two types of people-from those who have set convictions of an opposite character, and from those who have no set convictions and think that nobody else should have set convictions. But when I say that anyone with set convictions is liable to the accusation of bigotry, I do not mean that the accusation is always justified. In some cases it is; in other cases it is not.

223. How far should tolerance go?

We should be tolerant towards our fellow men, whatever be their mistakes, provided their mistakes be not injurious to the common good, or to the peace of society. But such tolerance does not oblige us to admit that their mistakes are not mistakes. Truth excludes error. And he who wants the truth will not get it by tolerating error. Tolerance does not mean that one must agree that the ideas of others are right when he believes them to be wrong.

224. The Catholic Church wants all to submit to her; but only bigots expect to be able to impose their views on others.

Not bigots, but only fools could expect to be able to impose their views on others. But a Catholic, knowing his religion to be the true religion, can at least ask others to study it; and then, if convinced, to become Catholics for the sake of truth and for the love of God. If not convinced, of course, others cannot become Catholics.

The Catholic Church absolutely forbids any attempt to compel acceptance of the Catholic religion by unwilling people.

225. I have heard Catholics say that one must he a bigot where truth is concerned.

By such expressions the case is not well put. In the strict sense of the word, bigotry is a blind and obstinate attachment to a particular creed, together with excessive zeal and a refusal to make allowances for other people's sincerity. No one should adopt such an attitude, even in the cause of truth. In a loose sense of the word, bigotry is a term used to denote a firm and reasonable adherence to what is true, despite the fact that others do not think it true. In that sense, one sometimes hears the expression that one has to be a bigot where truth is concerned.

226. It is a known fact that the Roman Catholic Church is intensely intolerant and bigoted towards what she terms the so-called Christian Churches.

That is not a just estimate of the Catholic attitude. Truth must exclude error; but Catholics who have the truth are forbidden to behave intolerantly towards the persons of those who differ from them. Bigotry is a narrow and unreasonable dislike of others, with a readiness to think and speak evil of them. That is forbidden to Catholics. Yet we must retain a reasonable consistency. We cannot believe that our own Church is the one true Christian Church, and then inconsistently admit that other and opposed Churches are equally true and equally reliable representatives of the Christian religion. Yet the Catholic conviction is not a blind conviction. This book should be evidence of that. But the Catholic Church teaches her subjects that their conviction must inspire no dislike of others; that it must not prevent them from making full allowances for the sincerity and goodness of others, despite their mistakes; and that it never dispenses them from charity.

227. Truly religious people humbly bow in respect to every other creed, so long as people are sincere.

By humility one may depreciate self; but one does not practice humility by depreciating Christ. Humility does not demand that we respect creeds opposed to the teachings of Christ, and declare them to be permissible. St. Paul wrote to Titus. "A man that is a heretic avoid, knowing that such a one is subverted, and sinneth." St. John said, "If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house, nor say to him: God speed you." It is impossible to visualize St. Paul or St. John "humbly bowing in respect to every other creed." If people are sincere in a wrong creed, we may respect their sincerity, but that certainly does not mean that we must respect their creed. I believe that you are a truly religious person. Now, we Catholics hold as part of our creed that the Pope is the infallible and supreme head of Christ's only true Church on earth, and that all Christians should be subject to him. Here you may test yourself by your own principle. Do you humbly bow in respect to that creed?

228. Why cannot there be a spirit of unity between all Christian bodies? How do you account for the lack of it?

There should always be a spirit of unity in charity and respect for each other's persons. There cannot be doctrinal unity, of course, until we all accept the same doctrines. I must confess, however, that much antipathy does exist, and this is greatly to be deplored. The cause of it is chiefly to be found in social influences. Catholics and Protestants, for example, have false and unkind feelings about each other because they have inherited them. They have been handed on from generation to generation. We have got them from books we thought to be reliable, or from our parents and religious teachers, and have taken for granted that they must be right. But nothing that destroys charity and leads to bitter ill-feeling can be right. We must try to emancipate ourselves from the legacy of prejudices, sentiment, and bitter sectarianism. Either a given doctrine is wrong, or the dispositions of those who resent that doctrine are wrong. The first problem for every one of us is to check our dispositions, making sure of our love for all our fellow men, and also of our love of the truth for its own sake. I do not say that it will be easy to rectify these things. But I do say that it is essential.



229. Would you grant a Protestant the right to take just as firm a stand as you do without accusing him of intolerance?

If a Protestant were absolutely convinced that his religion is the one true religion in this world, I would not accuse him of bigotry and intolerance did he say that he believed all other religions wrong. A convinced Protestant in such a case would be no more intolerant in firmly asserting his belief than an equally convinced Catholic in supporting the Catholic position. To stand to one's principles, such as they may be, is not intolerance. It is evidence of sincere conviction. But no one is dispensed from charity in his treatment of others from whom he is compelled to dissent religiously.

230. It is the Catholic claim to infallibility that is the trouble. That makes her hard on others as non-infallible Churches need never be.

The Catholic Church is not hard on others. She is uncompromising. With this reservation, I admit that her exclusiveness is due to her infallibility. She denies that men have the right to dispute any truth revealed by Christ. That necessarily follows from her doctrine that Christ is God. Sabatier, a French Protestant, admitted straight out that an indisputable religious truth supposes an infallible Church. He proved that no Church could maintain any definite doctrines unless it were infallible, and accepted as infallible. And he showed that psychologically, socially, and in actual fact, doctrinal chaos and unbelief must result without the safeguard of a final living authority. He himself refused to accept any infallible Church, so gave up believing that any indisputable truth can be known. In other words, he gave up Protestantism for Modernism, denying all real value to statements of belief issued by any Church, whether Catholic or Protestant.

231. A Catholic, taught Catholicism only, is ignorant of other religions. Anglicanism could be true for all he knows. I speak as an Anglican, with knowledge Catholics do not possess.

I, at least, speak as one who was an Anglican, and who only in later years became a Catholic. But let us take your point on its own merits. It suggests several reflections. Firstly, a Buddhist monk could have urged the same argument with St. Thomas, the Apostle, whose apostolate carried him to India. "Thomas," the monk could say, "You have been taught in the school of Jesus Christ, but you are ignorant of our Buddhistic religion; and our Buddhism could be true, for all you know." What would Thomas reply? Would you advise him to suspend his faith in Christ, and throw himself into an intense study of Buddhism so that, after some years of it, he could return repentantly to Christ and say, "Lord, by trying what you said was wrong I have found out that you were right after all"? Secondly, because a Catholic is ignorant of every other religion save his own, it does not follow that, therefore, the Anglican Church might be the true one for all he knows. Because one always travels home from work by the right train, can he never know that other trains traveling in other directions are wrong trains until he has tried traveling by them also? A Catholic has been taught the truth, and knows that the Catholic Church is true. He knows also that the Anglican Church is not the Catholic Church. Thirdly, you have been brought up as an Anglican. You have not studied Catholicism. Catholicism could be true for all you know. Will you act on your own principle, commence attending a Catholic Church, and receive instruction in the Catholic Faith from a priest? We Catholics do not admit your principle. But you do. And it is not unreasonable to ask you to act upon it.

232. Catholics should at least try the Church of England.

Why the Church of England in particular? If one cannot be sure that Catholicism is true till he has tried Anglicanism, he cannot be sure that Anglicanism is true until he has tried Mahometanism, and every other form of religion in this world. Catholicism and Anglicanism are not the only two possible religious positions. Will you set to work to try every religion in the world? If not, why should a Catholic act on a principle upon which you yourself will not act?

Towards a Solution

233. The only solution seems to be to let each denomination carry out enthusiastically its own special program.

That is not a solution of the real problem. The problem is that there should be but one definite Christian Church. And the solution you propose leaves that problem untouched. That there should be separate denominations each with its own special program is absolutely opposed to the principles of the New Testament. Rev. Dr. H. L. Goudge, an Anglican, and Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, writes as follows: "Today we often mean by 'the Churches' separate Christian societies recognizing no common authority, and possessing no visible unity; but that use of the word is unknown to Scripture, and should not be accepted without protest." He adds that the New Testament knows of only one Church against which the gates of hell will not prevail-one Church locally represented by Churches in different places. "So," he writes, "the Post Office is one Government Department; but it is represented by the local Post Offices. And in dealing with each of them, we are dealing with the Post Office itself." That is the Catholic position. It rejects the idea of a multitude of small independent Churches scattered through the world, all rejecting unity with the one great and original Catholic Church.

234. I do not object to the Catholic Church affirming her own truth. But she should not deny others. She should let them live their own life, and win their good will by making concessions.

If you do not object to the Catholic Church affirming her own truth, you cannot object to her denying the truth of other Churches opposed to her. Every affirmation is a denial of the opposite. If I say that New York is in America, I deny that it is elsewhere. Remember that the denial of the Catholic Church that other Churches are right is really an invitation to the supporters of those Churches to come to her, and get the full truth. It is not prompted by hatred, but by fidelity to Christ, and by a desire that all should possess the truth. When you speak of other Churches living their own life, you take too much for granted. They are dying their own death. Whilst they are asking anxiously what is the essence of Christianity, the Catholic Church lives, and gives life. The obvious disintegration of non-Catholic Churches is not a sign of life and vitality. Finally, your suggestion that the Catholic Church should make concessions is impossible. Protestantism has been making concessions, one after another, to rationalism, and the results are disastrous. The Catholic Church is strong precisely because she has refused to have anything to do with such concessions. But, apart from this, she simply cannot make the concessions you have in mind. The certainty and the urgency of her teachings forbid it. And she would be abandoning what does not belong to her but to Christ. Christ has commanded her to teach His doctrine, not to abandon it. And concessions would merely be the betrayal of Christ.

235. It is regrettable that there are barriers which seemingly will always exist.

I share your regret. And I have to agree that the barriers will always remain save in the case of those non-Catholics who break through them and return to the Catholic Church which their forefathers left at the time of the Protestant Reformation. But, where the barriers do remain, at all costs they should be confined to differences in the religions professed, and not allowed to become barriers of dislike, bitterness, and hatred between those who profess the different religions. We must not confuse a lack of sympathy with what we believe to be error with a lack of sympathy towards those who profess what we believe to be error. We may feel that the barrier of truth and consistency forbids acknowledging as correct those religions which contradict our own. But no barrier of ill-feeling and ill-will towards one another personally should be given any quarter. Charity must sweep all such barriers away.




The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the Reunion of the Churches

236. Whatever their differences may have been in the past, would it not be a good thing if all the Christian Churches composed their differences, and formed a single United Church once more?

Not only would that be good; there is an obligation on all professing Christians to do so. The New Testament knows nothing of a system of separated Churches professing to be Christian. As the Anglican Dr. Goudge has remarked, "The relation of the Churches to the Church is like the relation of local post offices to the G. P. O.; there is only one Post Office, private enterprise not being here permitted. But the G. P. O. has its local representatives in the towns and villages, and in dealing with them we are dealing with the Department itself. Everywhere in the New Testament the Church is one, and only one." No one who believes in the New Testament, therefore, can admit that divisions between the Churches is lawful.

237. Could it not be that, as the king of England speaks of his empire, although it is a commonwealth of nations, so Christ intended by one Church all religions which recognize Him as their Savior?

That is not admissible. As the British Empire is a commonwealth of nations, so the one true Catholic Church subject to the Pope is a vast confraternity of English, American, Japanese, French, Australian, Indian, German, Italian, Spanish, and other national peoples who are united in faith, worship, and discipline. But members of non-Catholic Churches are not members of this one true Catholic Church.

238. This view seems to be supported by Christ's own words in St. Mark, IX., 38-41.

It does not more than seem to be so. The text is as follows: "John said to Him: Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, who followeth not with us, and we forbade him." But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him. For there is no man that doth a miracle in My name, and can speak ill of Me. For he that is not against you, is for you." Now notice that St. John spoke of two things-the fact that another was doing good, and the fact that he did not follow the Apostles. Of the latter point, Christ does not here speak. Elsewhere He spoke strongly of the necessity of submission to the authority of His Church. But here He confines Himself to one aspect only, and rightly so. Insofar as others do good, do not blame them or forbid them; for in doing what is good, they are not against your cause, but for it. Now the non-Catholic Churches do try to inculcate the worship of Christ. And with that aspect of their work no one could quarrel. Insofar as they stand for the supernatural and spiritual, and for the love of Christ as opposed to brute materialism and rationalism, they are not against the Catholic Church, but fighting for her cause. And certainly, if Protestants will not become Catholics, we Catholics would rather see them true to such good principles of Christianity as their respective denominations do contain than see them drift from them to rationalism and unbelief. And that is the aspect with which our Lord deals. The other section of the text, "He followeth not with us," is dealt with elsewhere. In Matt. XII., 25. Christ says, "Every kingdom divided against itself shall fall"; and in Verse 30, He reverses the saying you quote, remarking. "He that is not with Me is against Me." Fortunately, the Catholic Church is not divided against itself.  It would be, if it embraced all the contradictory denominational sects. But it does not. They are not part of that true Catholic Church which stands with undivided unity. And whilst these Protestant sects are not against the Catholic Church in preaching that Christian virtue is necessary, they are against her insofar as they are not with the authority of Christ in the Church against which they rebelled.

239. Other Churches are devoting more and more attention towards the reunion of the Churches, and working for unity.

Other Churches should not have to work towards unity. It is a confession that they should never have got out of unity. The Catholic Church preserves her unity; she does not work to secure a unity she has never lost. And we must face the fact that the non-Catholic Churches will never secure unity. Unity will be possible only when they renounce their independent existence, and their members, one and all, return to the Catholic Church. Where the Catholic Church gathers people to herself, men gather together to form the various non-Catholic Churches. Of its very nature, Protestantism does not unite; it divides. And on the principle of private judgment and authority, it logically leads to as many variations as there are men. Unity may engage the attention of Protestant Churches, but it will do no more than engage their attention until they have ceased to exist. And when they have ceased to exist, and Catholicism is the only form of Christianity in this world, then we shall have unity.

240. It is wrong to magnify the divisions amongst Protestants. They all believe the same thing, and do not differ in essentials.

I am afraid that they do not even agree as to what is essential. In fact, a host of Protestants have drifted so far from the Christian Faith that they believe no particular belief to be essential, and they are prepared to maintain any peculiar idea of their own creation on the score that, after all, it does not matter what one believes.

241. What are the essential differences between Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Baptists, Christian Scientists, Christadelphians, Salvation Army, Pentecostals, Liberal Catholics, and the Churches of Christ?

It would take far loo long to analyze the doctrines of these twelve different variations. Briefly, however. Anglicans and Liberal Catholics believe it essential to have priests and bishops. The others do not. The Liberal Catholics believe in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Anglicans do not. Leaving these two, let us turn to the others. Baptists and the Churches of Christ forbid infant baptism. Presbyterians hold to what is called the Westminster Confession, and say that the ultimate authority is vested in their General Assembly. Methodism has no formal confession of faith, holding that creed is not essential. Lutherans hold that creed is essential, and support the Augsburg Confession by faith, believing in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by consubstantiation as opposed to the Catholic doctrine of transsubstantiation. Congregationalists say that it is not essential to have organized unity at all. Each local Church is independent, the members walking by faith, each according to what he privately judges faith to imply. Christian Scientists deny the Divinity of Christ, and believe that Christianity is ordained to the attaining of physical health by autosuggestion blended with prayer. Christadelphians deny the immortality of the soul, believing that Christ will come again, recreate the elect, and reign over them forever on this earth as their civil ruler. General Booth broke away from Methodism, and began a social crusade with his Salvation Army. Doctrinally the Army is very vague. The Pentecostal Church thinks that all others have missed the essential thing, and its members concentrate on contact with the immediate and personal influence of the Holy Spirit, whom they gratuitously constitute their direct guide whilst they do as they please. I cannot now go more deeply into their differences; but it can be said that each sect has at least one thing it thinks essential which it believes the others to lack. Were it not so, it would never have commenced its own separate existence. If we study the origins of the different sects, we find that their founders fought almost violently for things which modern Protestants now declare to be nonessential. But how far even modern Protestants believe their differences to be nonessential is a problem. If their differences be nonessential, why do they find reunion amongst themselves so impossible a task? They talk of unity, hold conferences to discuss it, discover that their positions are essentially irreconcilable, determine not to unite after all, and tell the world that they were all good-tempered about it. and that a wonderful unity was obvious in their decision to tolerate a continued lack of unity!

242. At least these Churches are trying to unite and find a common dogma.

As I have pointed out before, to acknowledge that unity is necessary, and yet that they lack unity, is to stand self-condemned as lacking a necessary qualification of the true Christian Church.  And how can these Churches set out to convert the world to Christian teaching whilst, on your own admission, they cannot agree as to what is the Christian teaching?

The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"

243. When reunion comes, do you not think that the Anglican Church will have a contribution of great value to make to the reunited Church?

We Catholics cannot accept any suggestion that the true Church is divided, and that it needs reuniting. The Catholic Church is obliged to insist that there is but one indivisible Church according to the will of Christ, and that she is the one indivisible Church. Those who rebelled against her authority and left her are simply outside the Church and no longer part of it. There can be no question of uniting divided fragments of the Church. Those whose forefathers wrongly left the Catholic Church must return to her. Many Anglicans are beginning to see this. Recently the Rev. Spencer Jones, an Anglican clergyman, published a book pleading that the Church of England should return to Rome. "It is plain," he wrote, "that the power formally to change her position, which is denied to the Church of Rome, is a conspicuous characteristic of the Church of England." Another Anglican clergyman, the Rev. T. Whitton, M.A., speaks in the same way. "On the Roman Catholic side," he writes, "there is their dogmatic position which they cannot give up if they would. If Rome were to admit that even the most Romanizing Anglicans were Catholics, she would admit the division of the Church, and commit suicide." This is not pride on Rome's part.  It is fidelity to the truth that Christ founded but one Church and guaranteed to preserve its unity.  To say that He did not preserve its unity is to renounce belief in His Divinity, and throw Christianity to the winds. Rome will never do that.

244. Anglicans are working harder than any others for the reunion of all Christian Churches.

The return of all separated Churches to the one Catholic Church they left in years gone by is greatly to be desired. But reunion will never be accomplished by dream-solutions based on wrong premises--solutions which can never be realized, and which, if they were realized, would mean the destruction of the Christian religion.


245. Is not the Anglican Church an ideal "Bridge-Church," belonging both to the old and the modern Churches?

The Anglican Church does not belong to the ancient Catholic Church. It commenced its existence with the Protestant Reformation some four hundred years ago, and has no connection with the previously existing Church in England.

246. The Anglican Church is distinguished from other branches by having thrown open its doors to fresh revelations of good that came through the advancing scholarship of its great divines.

The Anglican Church is not a "branch" of the true Church. What distinguishes it from the genuine branches of that Church is that all true branches are still in communion with the parent tree, and at one with the Pope as successor of St. Peter and supreme head of the universal Church. Anglicanism is an independent Church founded by Henry VIII. in 1534, when that earthly king broke away from the Catholic Church to set up his own religious body in England subject to his exclusive control. The Anglican Church is a Protestant sect, distinguished from other Protestant sects by the fact that its founder differed from the founders of other forms of Protestantism. It does not differ from the others by having thrown open its doors to fresh revelations of good from advancing scholarship. All, more or less, have been infected by that peculiar form of  "religious rationalism" called modernism. Modernism accepts as fresh revelations of good the latest deviations from the Christian Faith. But they are not revelations. Revelation is not the fruit of advancing scholarship, the product of human thinking. The Christian revelation is essentially the teaching of men by God through Jesus Christ. His Son.

247. In Anglicanism the pre-Reformation and post-Reformation periods of the Christian Church can be used to bring together all the broken branches of the Church.

The Anglican and the other Protestant Churches have no pre-Reformation period of which to make use. They are not branches, even broken ones, of the true Church. They are independent Churches, set up by men who had no authority to do so, at various times centuries subsequent to Christ. And if they all unite amongst themselves, they will be no nearer to unity in the one universal Church - the Catholic Church - than the uniting of the independent states in America restored the U. S. A. to unity with the British nation they abandoned. There is a fundamental fallacy underlying all such talk of reunion. The true branches of the one universal Church do not need bringing together. The geographical distribution of those branches has not affected their unity. The Catholic Church in America, or the Catholic Church in England, or in Italy, or Germany, or the scattered Islands of the Pacific, or anywhere else in the world, all these branches form but one Church in unity with the Pope as its supreme head on earth.

248. You think Anglicans are following a will-o'-the-wisp in holding out the hand of friendship to both sides?

I am certain that Anglicans will never induce all other Churches to accept a unity such as they specify. It involves an acceptance of Anglo-modernism. Catholics can have nothing to do with it. The Greek Orthodox Churches cannot accept it. Nonconformists would have to unsay the whole of their history in order to yield to it. The dream that all other Churches will merge with Anglicanism is a fond thing vainly invented.



249. By holding out its hand, the Church of England has actually succeeded in drawing together many members of the old and modern Churches.

The first question that arises is this: Which hand did the Church of England hold out? It held out an Anglo-Catholic hand or High Church hand to the Greek Orthodox. And at once there were violent protests from Low Church Anglicans that the beliefs of the Church of England had been completely misrepresented to the poor deluded Greeks, who had no idea of Anglican variations. When the Low Church hand is held out to Nonconformists, there are equally indignant protests from the High Church section. So, for example, when a Nonconformist preacher was invited to preach in the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, uproar resulted.

Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church

250. Anglicans must first approach the Greek Church, the oldest Church in Christendom, founded actually before the Church of Rome.

It is not true that the "Greek Orthodox Church," as it is popularly known today, was founded before the Church of Rome. It may be true that the Catholic Church took root and consolidated itself in various parts of the East and amongst Greek-speaking peoples before it was established in Rome where St. Peter finally set up his Bishopric. But the "Greek Orthodox Church" came into existence in the first place through the schism of Photius in the ninth century, just as Anglicanism came into existence in the sixteenth century through the revolt of Henry VIII. against the Pope.

251. A close alliance now exists between Anglicanism and Greek Orthodoxy.

Some High Church Anglicans have exchanged courtesies with some representatives of the Greek Churches. But nothing approaching unity has been effected. Nor is the cause of unity helped by mutual compliments paid by members of one rebel Church to those of other rebel Churches, whilst all ignore the one universal Church they left, and to whose authority they still refuse to submit. No advance is made towards reunion by looking everywhere except to the very source of unity-Rome.

252. Does not Rome accept the Orthodox Church as Catholic, even though schismatic?

No. Firstly, there is no one united Orthodox Church. There are many independent forms of Orthodoxy, as there are many independent forms of Protestantism. Secondly, and even taking all these independent forms as a general group, Rome does not admit that members of the Orthodox Greek Churches are Catholics. The Catholic idea supposes the universal extension of one and the same united Church. Catholicity, in the proper sense of the word, is impossible without unity. And as the Orthodox Greeks are out of unity with the Catholic Church, they are not regarded as Catholics. Rome recognizes that the Orthodox Greeks have retained valid Orders, but that is another matter altogether. Thirdly, although traditionally the Greeks are spoken of as schismatics, Rome does not regard them merely as schismatics. They are heretics also on various points of doctrine.

253. The Orthodox Church accepts the Church of England as Catholic.

That is not true. Firstly, there is no united voice emanating from "The Orthodox Church." The admissions of one Patriarch would be indignantly repudiated by others. One of the greatest difficulties of reunion between Rome and the Orthodox Greeks is the fact that the Orthodox Greeks are not united amongst themselves. Secondly, no single Greek Patriarch has really admitted that the Church of England is Catholic. Some Greek Patriarchs have expressed that opinion after hearing a High Church account of Anglicanism. But of what value is the admission of isolated Greek leaders who have been misinformed concerning the true nature of the Church of England?

254. If Orthodox and Anglican Churches unite, what then will be Rome's attitude to Anglicanism?

Such a union will never be effected. Before a united Ortho-Anglican Church could exist, the various Greek Churches would have to form one united body; and there is no prospect of that. Then it would be necessary to get the Low Church majority in the Church of England to accept Greek Orthodox teachings. And there is no prospect of that. But if, as is impossible, such a union were effected, Rome would regard the Anglican Church exactly as at present -and that is as an heretical Protestant sect. By uniting with the Greek Church, therefore, the Church of England would be no nearer union with Rome. It would be but the union of two schismatical and heretical Churches; and the resultant Church would still be in schism and heresy. If Germany and Russia were to unite as one nation, they would not be any closer to membership of the British Empire. The road to Church unity does not lie in the union amongst themselves of those who have no unity with Rome. The road lies in the submission of the various independent Churches, or of their individual members, to the authority of the Catholic Church, and to that of the Pope as its supreme head on earth. There is no other way out.

The "Old Catholics" of Holland

255. The "Old Catholics" are trying to secure the union of all separate Churches on the basis of a non-Papal Catholicism.

Having renounced the very principle of unity, the authority of Christ in His Church, they are attempting an impossible task. Events have shown this in the most practical manner possible. The "Old Catholics" are rapidly disintegrating. In the beginning they received great government patronage in Germany and Switzerland, where politicians had great hopes of fostering what they believed to be a disruptive movement in the Catholic Church. But nothing came of it, and the radical liturgical, disciplinary, and constitutional changes adopted in the first fifteen years convinced them that the "Old Catholic" claim to Catholicism was but a fiction. They lost interest in the "Old Catholic" movement, and its vitality rapidly declined.

256. The Lambeth Conference of 1930 agreed that there was nothing in the Declaration of Utrecht inconsistent with the leaching of the Church of England.

That is the death-blow to the "Old Catholics." For it means, not that Anglican doctrine is Catholic, but that the "Old Catholics" are Protestants.

257. There is now complete intercommunion between the "Old Catholics" and the Anglican Communion.

That is not surprising. The "Old Catholics," being simply "New Protestants," recognize those with whom they have a real affinity. If you think I take a harsh and unreasonable view of things, let me ask you to consider a parallel case. If a Congregationalist boasted to an Anglican that his Church had intercommunion with the Methodist Church which had broken away from Anglicanism, would the Anglican be deeply impressed? Can a Catholic be deeply impressed, therefore, when an Anglican boasts that he has intercommunion with a schismatic body which itself has abandoned the Catholic Church? The same difficulty ever recurs. If, instead of merely having intercommunion with the Anglican Church, the "Old Catholics" were completely absorbed in full communion with the Church of England, Christendom would be no nearer unity than it would be if Aimee Macpherson with her "Four-Square Gospelers" decided to amalgamate with Judge Rutherford and the "Witnesses of Jehovah." The union of heretical bodies amongst themselves really leaves the problem untouched. The only hope of a united Christian Church is the return of all schismatical and heretical bodies to the Mother Church of Christendom-the Catholic Church. When all have come back, then, and then only, will there be "one fold under one shepherd."

Reunion Conferences

258. Would you be in favor of one State Church, compelling all religious bodies to unite?

Such a plan for bringing all religious bodies into one faith and one Church could not possibly be accepted. Christ died for all men without exception. No State Church, therefore, could be the true Church of Christ. A State Church would be essentially national. People belonging to other States and Nations would feel that it was not for them. Christ is not for this nation or that; He is for men of all nations. All true followers of Christ, therefore, should be united in one great Church which is not national, but international. There is such a Church-the Catholic Church. If men really wish for unity, the remedy is there before them. Let them return to the Catholic Church.

259. Why does the Roman Church refuse to take part in the World Congresses of other Churches for the securing of unity?

Because she can never sanction by her participation Congresses which admit that the unity of the Church has been lost, and that it must be found again; and which hope to attain unity by a compromising policy of give and take. The unity promised by Christ has been retained by the Catholic Church. That Church believes that she is but the custodian of the religion of Christ, and she has not the right to make any compromises, to pare down and whittle away His doctrines in order to placate those who refuse to accept them in all their fullness. It would be useless to attend a Congress working on the idea that "we are all wrong, and must put our heads together to see how we can put ourselves right." The acceptance of such a principle would mean that the Catholic Church must unsay her infallibility. Did she do so, she would no longer be the Catholic Church at all. Yet Congresses of non-Catholic denominations would welcome her participation only on the understanding that she admits herself to be as fallible as themselves. It cannot be done.

260. Did not negotiations for the reunion of Anglicanism and Catholicism take place during the Malines Conversations?

The Malines Conversations were an unofficial discussion of the subject between Lord Halifax and several leading Anglican clergymen on the one hand, and Cardinal Mercier with several French theologians on the other. The Conversations were for the sake of inquiring as to whether any common basis could be found upon which an attempt at union could be inaugurated.

261. Why did those Conversations fail?

Because the participants were trying to find a way to reconcile the irreconcilable. Moreover, the Anglican Delegates presented only the High Church views to Cardinal Mercier and the French theologians, giving them a wrong outlook on the Anglican Church as a whole. Low Church Anglican papers throughout England denounced the Anglo-Catholic Delegates for misrepresenting Anglican doctrine, denied their right to speak on behalf of the Church of England, accused them of being "Romanizers," and declared that they would never submit to any undoing of the work of the Protestant Reformation. With such chaos reigning in the Anglican Church the Conversations could not but fail. Unity in Anglicanism itself is absolutely necessary before it can even discuss the question of possible unity with the Catholic Church.


262. As an Anglican I was bitterly disappointed with the result.

If you believe that the Church of England ought to be in communion with Rome, and is not, how can you justify yourself in remaining where you ought not to be, and in refusing to take that step personally which the corporate Anglican Church cannot and will not take?

Catholic Unity

263. Will you explain just what Catholics mean by the unity of the Church?

By the unity of the Church we mean the unity of belief, worship, and government for all peoples and for all times in the one religious body. This is the first great requirement of the true Church. Unity is reality. Unity and life, in fact, go together. If the Church is the union of God with man, and man with God, how can there be several different Churches? That would mean division in the very thing that should unite us in God. If God is one, and men are one in Christ, then there can be but one Church, a divine yet human organization, of which Christ is the Head, the Holy Spirit the Soul, and all men members. The Church is but a continuation of Christ in this world. Therefore, St. Paul asks, "Is the body of Christ divided?" There is but one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Church. The Catholic Church is this one Church; and any religion which differs in character from the Catholic Church, and wishes to exist independently of it, is outside the true Church.

264. History shows that the Roman Church has had crisis after crisis. She has not always had unity, but only recently has perfected her concentration.

The Catholic Church has always had unity. It is true that there has been crisis after crisis in her history. But that does not imply loss of unity. In all life, whether individual or social, civil or religious, crisis follows crisis. But where civil kingdoms have been dissolved, the Catholic Church has ever emerged with a still more concentrated unity. Today there is no possibility of a Greek schism or a Protestant reformation by any movement from within the Catholic Church. Modernism was soon settled as far as she was concerned. And all previous disloyalties and rebellions provoked a reaction of unity proving the vitality of the Catholic Church, and that will to live which is her preservation. What you call the concentration of unity in the Catholic Church is merely her interior principle of control responding to the complications incidental to growth.

265. The exclusive claims of the Catholic Church will never lead to unity. It can come only by tolerance, respect for each other, and closer cooperation.

Continued tolerance of error can never give unity in truth. By such tolerance people will remain as divided as ever in their beliefs. Respect for the persons of others should ever prevail. Closer cooperation is not enough. Perfect cooperation is necessary. But that will be possible only under a unified control. And a unified control of a perfectly united Christian Church will result only from a return of the Churches which caused a division to the one fold of the Catholic-Church. After all, Christ sent His Church to fight the forces of evil. If a country sent an army to resist its enemies, how would that army get on if different subordinate officers walked off with groups of soldiers, disobeying orders of the higher command, and deciding to try out what they thought to be better ideas of their own? Discipline and order are essential. Our Lord knew this, and warned against such divisions, saying, "A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." And if superior officers protested against the indiscipline of hotheaded subordinates, would you blame them? Or suggest that, since all aimed at defending the country, they should work harmoniously with these insubordinates, whilst still allowing them to do as they please?

266. Could not one religion be arrived at by compromise on the part of all the different Churches?

The resultant religion certainly would not be Christianity. Instead of being the religion of Christ, it would be a religion which all those putting their heads together would agree that it would be nice for Him to have taught. Just imagine one saying, "Well, I am convinced that Christ taught this, but you are convinced that He taught something else. But now, let us not bother about the authority of Christ. I'll give up a section of what I am convinced to be His teaching; and you give up a section of what you are convinced to be His teaching, and thus we will arrive at a working agreement to suit ourselves." Surely you can see how impossible is such an attitude. After all, to whom does the Christian religion belong? It belongs, not to us, but to Christ. For the Catholic Church, therefore, there can be no question of compromise.

267. You cannot foresee a new and undivided Church blending all existent forms of the Christian religion?

That will never be. The Catholic Church will never abandon such of her truths as Protestants dislike, in order to embrace the various errors all Protestants will generously agree amongst themselves to accept in a spirit of real good fellowship. How you can talk of a new Church is a mystery. Christ established a definite Church, promising to be with it all days till the end of the world. That does not suggest the abolition of all existent Churches and the formation of a new one. As a matter of fact, another true Christian Church would demand another Christ, and another Incarnation. But to what purpose? What would a new Christ do that the first Christ has not done? No. Christ established a definite Church to last for the rest of time, promising that the gates of hell will never prevail against it. They have not done so. And that definite Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. To her men must return.

The Papacy as Reunion Center

268. You have quoted some Protestant clergymen as saying that the Papacy is the only possible center of unity for the Church,

I have; and there are very many who speak like that today.

269. Anglo-Catholics regard the Papacy merely as a handy rule of thumb for orthodoxy, but other Protestants do not.

If Anglo-Catholics regard the Papacy merely as a handy rule of thumb for orthodoxy, their ideas are no more acceptable to Catholics than to Protestants. We cannot accept patronizing views of Papal decisions as if they were "rather a good idea," or "quite useful!" To any Anglo-Catholics who would think in such a way I would say, "Either you believe sincerely in the infallibility and supremacy of the Pope, or you do not. If you do not, you cannot submit to the Pope on any plea that this would fit in with some favored scheme of your own. If you do, then you are not justified in refusing acceptance for a moment, and you should submit to Rome at once, instead of remaining in a false position for any supposedly good purpose."

270. Theoretically, the existence of a visible head of the Church seems to supply a stable rallying point.

It not only seems to do so; it does so. But these reasons of convenience are beside the point. The point is-what is the will of Christ? If it be the will of Christ that the Pope is the visible head of the Church, then we must be in union with him. If it be not the will of Christ that there should be a visible head of the Church on earth, then we cannot alter things to suit our own notions. Anglo-Catholics consistently refuse to face this issue.

271. In practice, the Roman claims have been the very basis of division in the Church.

There is no division in the Church. The Church is essentially One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. Being one, it is at complete unity with itself, and must ever retain perfect unity. The Catholic Church alone does so. You may speak of divisions from the Church; but not of divisions in the Church. All non-Catholics are divided from the Church-that Catholic Church their forefathers left. And the Roman claims were not the cause of these divisions. Will the criminal in jail say that the laws of the State which he violated are the basis of his division from society? They are, of course, but the guilt is his own, not that of the State. And those who rebelled against the lawful authority of the Catholic Church, and left that Church, are responsible for their separation from it.

272. What kind of a center of unity is the Papacy, when it possesses the assent of less than half of Christendom?

Since they are the divisions of "Christendom" (not of the Church) which are to be united, one could hardly expect the proposed center of unity to possess the assent of all before they are united! It is not true that less than half of Christendom acknowledges the Papacy. Out of some 700 million of professing Christians, 400 million profess the Catholic Faith and admit the authority of the Pope. About 300 million reject the claims of the Pope, and repudiate the Catholic Church. But they are not united amongst themselves, save in protesting against Rome. If we ask these others to state their beliefs we get a chorus characterized chiefly by negations and contradictions. They are not unfairly described as a group of dissidents who cannot agree amongst themselves.

273. The Church as a whole judges against Papal claims, preferring schism to assent on terms dictated by Rome.

One cannot speak of the judgment of the Church as a whole whilst asserting in the same breath that it is split into fragments bv schism!  Those belonging to one of the fragments separated from the Catholic Church appeal to the verdict of the other separated fragments that Rome is wrong, although they will not accept the verdict of those other fragments on anvthing else.

274. The witness of Rome is to be respected and weighed when it agrees with the rest of Christendom.

Is that to say that Rome might possibly be right if only she will admit that she is just as likely to be wrong as the separated sects which abandoned her?

275. So long as Rome persists in ignoring the witness of the rest of Christendom she will he subject, like the rest of us, to her own peculiar forms of heresy.

Never was a greater tribute paid to Rome. If the rest of the Churches are subject to their own peculiar forms of heresy, is Rome to be blamed because she won't join them and accept their self-confessed heretical witness? If Rome did join them, and renounce her claim to possess the full and complete truth, it would be good-bye to all hope of unity in the truth. The only hope for unity is for those who admit that they have not got it to submit to the one Church which is conscious of possessing it. And that one Church is the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church cannot be expected to take seriously the offer of those who say. "We will be prepared to consider your claims to be the true Church only provided you do not make such claims, and admit that you are just as wrong as we are."

276. The inflated claims of Rome first compelled the Greek Orthodox to repudiate Rome.

Not the claims of Rome, but the inflated claims of the Patriarchs of Constantinople, led to the separation of the Greeks from the unity of the Catholic Church. And that break has been perpetuated by pride and nationalism.

277. Then Luther, after protesting in vain against abuses in the Church, was given his choice between keeping quiet or getting out.

Luther introduced far greater abuses than any he professed to remedy. I do not deny the existence of abuses. Multitudes of good Catholics were longing for their rectification. But Luther made them but an excuse for rebellion against the Catholic Church, and for the introduction of schism and heresy of which he was the self-constituted prophet. Rome proved the safeguard of unity by expelling him, preferring to see him divided from the Church rather than allow him to cause division in the Church. He was asked to submit, not to abuses in the Church, but to the just laws of the Church. He refused, left the Church, and dragged multitudes with him in the end. But his Protestant principles proved the cause of division after division amongst Protestants, as if to bring out by contrast the unity of Catholics who remained loyal to Rome. No one with eyes to see can doubt that the Papacy means unity, whilst separation from the Papacy leads to almost endless diversity.

278. Later still, the monstrous proportions Papal authority wished to assume in England led to the breaking away of the Anglican Church.

Henry VIII. thought it monstrous that the Pope should refuse him a divorce from Catherine in order that he might marry Anne Boleyn. But who will subscribe to the proposition that the Pope was responsible for the schism because he would not condone Henry's adultery? Unity at such a price would not be worth having. However, the Catholic Church preserved her unity, for Anglicanism is not a division within the Church. It constitutes a separate Church which no longer has any real bond with the Church of the centuries.

279. Then the "Old Catholics" were forced into separation from Rome by the decision of the Vatican Council that the Pope was infallible.

Your line of argument really is that every decree necessary to preserve unity is a cause of disunity because a few recalcitrant subjects refuse to accept and obey it. And is it reasonable to concentrate on a small group of disaffected subjects, ignoring the unity of hundreds of millions of loyal Catholics? Again, if the Papal claims were so wrong that the Greeks had to abandon the Church in the ninth century, why did Germany discover them to be wrong only when Luther discovered abuses in the sixteenth century? And why did England not equally see how wrong they were until Henry VIII. wanted his divorce? And why, despite the Greeks, and Luther, and Henry, were the "Old Catholics" content with the Catholic Church until 1870? If the Catholic Church was true until Henry came along, the Greeks were not justified in their secession. If true until the "Old Catholics" had to leave, neither Luther nor Henry was justified in leaving the true Church.

Protestant Hostility to Catholicism

280. To what do you attribute the seemingly incurable hostility of Protestantism to Catholic claims?

I attribute it to the growth of indifference to all religion, to lack of knowledge of the Catholic Church, to inherited prejudices against that Church, to wrong ideas of the Christian faith, and to mistaken ideas of national loyalty. There is no doubt that Protestantism in general has led to a widespread indifference to the claims of religion. People don't bother about it. At the same time, whilst Protestantism has failed to hold the multitudes who have been deprived of the Catholic Faith, it has left a lingering poison of prejudice against the Church it abandoned. So it is that Protestants, who have no particular love for their own Churches, have an instinctive dread of Catholicism. It is not reasonable, and they cannot account for it. If they attempt to do so, they have to invent reasons which will not bear analysis. But the dread is there. And the more Protestant a country is, the greater its hostility towards the Catholic Church. Nonconformity, therefore, as a rule, is more hostile than Anglicanism.  But besides inherited prejudices, all forms of Protestantism have a wrong idea of Christian faith. For Protestants, Christianity has become merely a subjective way of life to the exclusion of an objective acceptance of truth. They have had it drilled into them from pulpit after pulpit that "creed does not matter." That practically means that truth does not matter. They have the idea that not what a man believes, but what he does, is the sole criterion of goodness. Reason, therefore, takes a very secondary place, and religion is better measured by feelings of piety and devotion. Consequently, if Protestants have no religious feelings, they banish the whole problem. On the other hand, if they have religious feelings, they are content where they are, and do not bother to inquire as to whether the form of religion they profess is right in itself, or not. Finally, Protestantism and patriotism have long been associated in their minds, and they have a vague sense of disloyalty to their country in the mere thought of Catholicism. In any case, to become a Catholic is to violate the conventions. That is one of the things "not done." This is but a brief survey, and incomplete. But all these things, singly or collectively, with many others, contribute to the apathy or hostility of Protestants towards the Catholic claims.

281. Good and cultured Protestant ministers cannot reconcile Rome with Scripture and tradition.

Their inability is easily explicable. Their goodness is a matter of morality. But perception of the objective truth is a matter of mentality. Now, the formation of a Protestant minister's mentality is quite unfavorable to the perception of the truth of Catholicism. We may dismiss tradition, for the basic idea of Protestantism that Scripture is the only rule of faith diverts their attention from traditional teachings. Their inability to harmonize Scripture and Catholicism results from the fact that they do not rightly understand either Scripture or Catholicism. Protestant clergymen cannot even state Catholic doctrine clearly to themselves. Where Scripture is concerned, they lack sound principles of interpretation, and cannot arrive at its correct sense. That should be evident experimentally from the fact that they arrive at so many diverse and conflicting conclusions.

282. High Church Anglicans go to Rome because of their community of ritual; but Low Churchmen and Nonconformists never yield ground.

As a matter of fact, conversions to Catholicism from Low Church Anglicans and Nonconformists are proportionately more numerous than from High Church Anglicans. And, paradox as it may seem, High Churchmen are not drawn to the Catholic Church because of community of ritual. Firstly, they have the idea that, having borrowed all our external practices, they base nothing to gain by "going over to Rome." And secondly, they get so wrapped up in the accidentals of religion, that they are less likely than ever to perceive the essentials. The essential thing in all true religion is obedience. We went from God by disobedience, and the road back is to retrace our steps by obedience. And since religion is to take us back, the very heart and soul of religion must be a spirit of obedience. Therefore, the spirit of obedience has ever been an outstanding feature of Catholicism. But the High Church movement has ever been characterized by defiance of Anglican bishops. The more ritualistic an Anglican clergyman is, the more he steeps himself in a spirit of disobedience to authority. And by this he is less fitted to submit to the principles of authority in the Catholic Church. I would much rather instruct a convert from Nonconformity than one from Anglo-Catholicism; and as a rule I keep Anglo-Catholics much longer under instruction.

283. If access to the truth is not easy for these religious men, how can unbelievers and voluptuaries hope to discern it?

Your line of thought is not justified. For conversion to the Catholic Church means the undoing of a previous mentality, and the substituting of another. In the man who has had no previous religious convictions, one has but to build. It is easier to give right ideas to one who has had no ideas on a given subject, than to substitute right ideas for wrong ideas. Again, strange as it may seem, the irreligious voluptuary, when he does hear God's voice, has grounds for a humilitv which are more or less wanting in those conscious of their goodness and virtue.  And humility is a basic condition for the greater gifts of God. Also, as I have said, the religious non-Catholic is much more likely to rest content with his present position, and refrain from further inquiry, than the irreligious man who never quite succeeds in stifling his uneasiness. You must remember, too, that God will not force the gift of faith on anyone. That gift demands our cooperation; and the dispositions of the individual person are of immense importance.

The Demands of Charity

284. The attitude of Rome holds out little hope of reunion, but gives promise only of continued bitterness.

To that let me quote the words of a famous Protestant journalist, and a onetime member of the British Parliament-Mr. P. W. Wilson. He writes as follows: "The Roman Catholic Church can have had, and did have, no other origin than with the Founder of Christianity itself. But the company of the faithful, once united in a visible Church, has suffered an organic disintegration. Whatever general sentiment may be abroad favoring friendship, experts fail to find a real formula for reunion on which to agree. But I am convinced that there is a profound amelioration of atmosphere. Hitherto we have seen a Christendom in which Protestant confronted Catholic. It is a situation by no means ended. Such situations do not end quickly. But none the less, the new situation has arisen. I have lost entirely any conscious enmity against or suspicion of the Roman Catholic Church. And if reunion be not possible here and now; if it be not possible for all to share the same worship or accept the same ecclesiastical authority, it is possible for all to love one another as they love themselves, to pray for one another, and to help one another, and to be associated as far as may be in the task of serving this sad and sorrowful world." All Catholics will agree with the sentiments expressed by Mr. Wilson. But they will pray for the only possible kind of reunion---the return of all separated brethren to the Catholic Church and to the authority of the Bishop of Rome.




The Truth of Catholiciam

Necessity of the Church

285. Do not Roman Catholics make too much of the doctrine of the Church?

They give it that place in their faith which Christ intended.

286. We Protestants have a great respect for Christ, but we do not have faith in any Church.

That cannot be right. If you believe in Christ, you must consider as necessary what Christ believed necessary. To wish to believe in Christ without believing in the Church is a great mistake. For centuries Christians have said, not only, "I believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord," but also, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church." They made an act of faith in both Christ and His Church. If you no longer believe in a Church, something has gone wrong somewhere.

287. Christ does not say, "Come to My Church." He says, "Come to Me."

We come to Christ by coming to His Church. As a matter of fact, the Church, in the person of the Apostles, first preached Christ to the early converts to Christianity. The first fact for the early Christians was, therefore, the Church. They experienced faith in the mission of the Church, and because of that, believed in her teachings about Christ. You will notice, in the Acts of the Apostles, when Saul was persecuting the Church. Jesus appeared to him, and even identified Himself with the Church, saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" The denial of the Church is therefore really a denial of Christ, if people, but realize it.

288. People are rapidly coming to the conclusion that, without ceasing to profess Christianity, they can dispense with Churches.

I admit that that is the logical ultimate result of Protestantism. The Anglican Dr. Goudge recognizes this. "We are," he says, "congenital individualists, and exceedingly unwilling, in religion as elsewhere, to recognize our dependence on others. It appears to us obvious that our religion is wholly bound up with our individual relation to God, and that others are not concerned with it. We become members of Christ, so we think, by our individual faith alone. This is the Protestant view. The result is that we neglect the doctrine of the Church. It is not so much that Protestants have a false conception of the Church as that they seem to be without any clear conception of it. We all tend to be hazy on this subject. Yet the doctrine of the Church is, next to the doctrine of God and His redemption, the most important doctrine of revealed religion, both in the Old and in the New Testament."

289. I can be religious without the Church.

But you cannot thus be religious in the way God wants you to be religious. And since religion is concerned with duties to God, it is for God to dictate the terms and conditions, not for us. Your attitude is due to lack of knowledge and thought. You are contenting yourself with no more than a vague religious sentiment. But religion demands a devotedness of the whole man to God, a devotedness of mind and heart and will. That means that we must believe what God has taught, love Him above all else, and serve Him both by worship and obedience to His law. For all this a man must study and know just what God has revealed, and not be content with a merely vague religious outlook. And as he is not only individual, but also social by his very nature, man must render both private and public worship to God. Christ established a Church to teach all nations and to gather to itself all whom it leads to a belief in Christ. One who says he is religious, yet who refuses to have anything to do with the Church Christ established, simply does not know the Christian religion.

The True Church

290. The Church as I understand it is in the souls of men.

If the Church is an invisible quality confined to the souls of men, then no human being could say where the true Church is to be found, and no one could hear its voice or obey its precepts. No. Our Lord established a visible society in this world, even though not of this world. And He compared it to a city set upon a hill which cannot be hid. One of the visible and organized Churches in this world today is His. And the Catholic Church alone can show the characteristics which He declared should be those of His true Church.

291. The Church is formed, not of those who belong to a visible organization, but of those who are born again from above and endowed with the Holy Spirit.

That could not be judged by men. No one could tell who belonged to the true Church, and who did not, according to that theory. Christ established a visible Church and appointed visible Apostles. And those belonged to the Church who accepted the teaching of the Apostles, and persevered in the discipline imposed by them. In Acts XX.. 28, we read, ''Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops to rule the Church of God." How could bishops rule the Church if they did not know who belonged to it?

292. I have a great respect for Christ, but very little for the Church.

That cannot be right. If you believe in Christ, you must consider as necessary what Christ considered necessary. To wish to believe in Christ without believing in His Church is folly itself. As a matter of fact, Jesus did not preach to the first converts; the Church preached Jesus to the people, and on the testimony of the Church, they believed in Christ. And the first fact for the early Christians was belief in the mission of the Church. Through their acceptance of the Church and her authority they were led to faith in Christ.

293. You make too much of the word Church, and not enough of the Savior, who is supreme over all things.

Jesus is certainly supreme over all things. And the Catholic Church exists to bring souls to the Person of Christ. She ever bids her children to love Him, and insists that they can never love Him too much. Meantime, those who obey our Lord by submitting to the Church He founded make more of Him than those who do not, but who insist on dictating their own terms. If I speak often of the Church it is because of the nature of the questions sent in. And that is because non-Catholics, instead of making much of Christ's doctrine concerning His Church, simply ignore it as if it had not the same value as His other teachings. A man who is not wrong in what he says, may be quite wrong in what he omits. Love Christ by all means. But do not let your love of Christ serve you as an excuse to repudiate His Church, and to assert that it is of no importance whatever to find that true Church He thought fit to establish.

Catholic Claims Are Absolute

294. I can't find references to any definite religion of Christ in either the Old or New Testaments.

If so, it is certainly not because the references are not there. Take one classical passage from the Old Testament: The prophet Isaiah, II., 2-4, certainly predicted a very definite and new form of religion to be given by Christ. The passage says, "The house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go, and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For the law will come forth from Sion; and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge the Gentiles and rebuke many people." The correct sense of that passage is as follows: When the Christ shall come, He will solidly establish the religion of God in a visible form which all men will be able to recognize. As opposed to the one chosen people of the Jews, all nations will be represented amongst its members. And they will learn from it the ways of God, and will walk in His paths under its guidance. This promised religion will originate in Jerusalem. Now, if we turn to the New Testament, we find Christ carefully fulfilling this prophecy of the Old Testament. He says in Matt. XVI, 18, "I will build my Church." He prescribed its doctrine and commissioned it to go forth from Jerusalem teaching men, as He says in Matt. XXVIII., 20, "To observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." In Matt. XVIII., 18, He gives this Church His authority. "Amen. I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven." In the preceding verse He gives the Church judicial power. "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen." And He sends that Church, no longer to the Jews only, but to the Gentiles also. In Matt. XXVIII., 19, "Going, therefore," He says. "Teach all nations." His Church must remain one Church, for it is to be "one fold under one shepherd." It is to last with the constitution He gave it all days till the end of the world. "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." And again. "Behold, I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world." All this obviously indicates a very definite religion, and a very definite Church.

295. If I were to embrace Catholicism, would I, if at any time I was not satisfied, be at liberty to leave the Catholic Church?

Firstly, so long as you think it even possible that you would want to leave the Church in the future, you have not attained an absolute conviction of its truth. And you cannot become a Catholic with lingering doubts in your mind. When a person has really attained to the gift of Faith, all such vague fears vanish. But, secondly, if you did receive the gift of Catholic Faith in all its fullness and certainty, yet after becoming a Catholic you were to lose that Faith through your own fault, you would be under no physical compulsion to continue to profess the Catholic religion and fulfill its duties. You could walk off, declare you had left the Catholic Church, tell your friends that you had become a Christadelphian, or anything else you might wish; and nothing would be done to restrain you. The only thing that really prevents Catholics from abandoning their Church is their own interior conviction of its truth, and of their personal obligation to remain loyal to conscience and to God. Whilst they have that conviction, they themselves do not feel at liberty to leave the Church. Should they lose that conviction, they would feel at liberty to do as they pleased. But, if ever you receive the gift of Catholic Faith, I can assure you that you won't be afraid lest you cannot get away from it; you will rather dread lest anybody or any thing should get it away from you. For you will find that, instead of robbing you of your liberty, it has given to you the liberty of the children of God; liberty from error, and weakness, and sin; and the liberty to use wonderful means of divine grace, thus to progress in virtue and holiness of life before God and man.

296. What does your Church teach concerning the fate of a man who was brought up as a Catholic, but who leaves the Church, and dies still rejecting the Catholic Faith?

The Catholic Church has no teaching concerning the ultimate fate of any individual soul. She leaves that to God. But she does teach that no Catholic who has been brought up as such can ever have a sufficient reason to justify his abandoning it. If, therefore, a Catholic should lose his faith and abandon the Church he has certainly been guilty of sin; and if he dies in that state without repenting of his sin he will lose his soul. Whether any particular soul goes from this world without interior repentance God alone, of course, can say.

297. What if a man reasoned himself out of his faith?

In such a case the man would have misused his reasoning powers. No instructed Catholic can renounce the Catholic Faith without a grave fault on his part. Always he has a grave duty to adhere to his faith, and always he has reasonable grounds for doing so. If he abandons it, he does so by a wrong and guilty choice as well as by an unreasonable choice. If any reading awakens or fosters doubt in the mind of a Catholic, he knows at once that he must cease reading things which endanger his faith. If he goes on reading such things, he does so at the price of violating his conscience. Then, too, when some difficulty presents itself, he behaves most unreasonably in thinking that because he can't solve it, therefore there is no solution of it. Ordinary prudence dictates that he seek advice from some competent guide. Certainly, if such a Catholic did end by losing the faith, it would involve the resistance of grace, the neglect of prayer, the refusal of ordinary prudent consultation, and the guilty following of an evil will.

298. Supposing that he carefully studies the Catholic religion in the light of science, and finds it untrue?

As God is the Author of the Catholic Faith, and also the Author of all natural truth, there can never be any real conflict between the authoritative teachings of the Catholic religion, and the true findings of science. Any man who thinks that science proves the Catholic religion to be untrue, either does not know the Catholic religion, or has wrong ideas of science. And a man who has but an inadequate knowledge of Catholicism, and who is quite untrained in science, should know that he is simply incompetent to form such a judgment as you indicate unless he is sublimely unconscious of his limitations. He has not the elements of humility, and a sin of pride and presumption at least has preceded his fall. Most men have a general instinctive knowledge of what they must do to safeguard their bodily health. But if any serious trouble threatens, they are sensible enough not to rely upon such inadequate knowledge of physiology or medical information which they have picked up by their own reading. They seek advice from one who has received definite medical training in a qualified university. So, too, the average man has a sufficient working knowledge of the law for ordinary purposes. But if he finds himself in a legal tangle, he rightly distrusts his own knowledge and capacity, and consults one whose very business it is to be trained in legal matters. Yet, when not his bodily health, and not his temporal affairs, but his eternal destiny is at stake, this same man will consider himself fully competent to decide the gravest issues for himself. He chooses to throw to the winds a prudence he would never dream of abandoning in lesser matters. And the choice is a guilty violation of reason and conscience. The ordinary Catholic has sufficient working knowledge to save his soul. But where special religious difficulties occur, he is obliged to consult those qualified to advise him. Ignorance alone can conclude that science conflicts with Catholicism, as that famous scientist, Louis Pasteur, ever maintained. When people marveled that so great a scientist should have such fervent faith in the Catholic religion, he would reply, "I believe as firmly as the Breton peasant; and, if I had a little more knowledge, I would believe as firmly as the Breton peasant's wife." The man you suggest for consideration would be guilty of pride in setting up his judgment against the authority of the Church established by God to leach mankind the truths of religion; guilty of imprudence in not seeking counsel; and guilty of presumption in not seeking light from God by prayer. If he lost the faith, he would be responsible for doing so; and if he died without repenting of his sin, he would lose his soul.

A Clerical Hierarchy

299. Protestants, guided by the Gospels, cannot see the use of priests.

The Catholic idea seems strange to -them, riot because they are guided by the Gospels, but because, whilst they concentrate on the fact that Christ is their Re­deemer and Sanctifier, they fail to grad) the means by which He desires to carry out His work in the souls of men. The Church is the kingdom of Christ in this world. Within that kingdom, an ordained priesthood, deriving its powers front Christ, com­municates to the faithful in the name of a Christ the benefits of redemption. The priesthood, then, represents Christ and continues His mission. It is commissioned to forgive sin as He forgave sin; arid to teach arid to sanctify men in His name.

300. Priests are only men after all; and how Catholics keep their faith in them is a mystery to me.

Priests as such are not "only men" after all. They are men who have been ordained and have had confided to their keeping the very priesthood of Christ. And any reverence shown by Catholics towards their priests is reverence for this priesthood of Christ. It is not reverence for anything merely human in the priest. And Catholics so esteem the priesthood of Christ that the sight of an unworthy priest mere­ly impresses them with the lofty character of his state. It is precisely because the priesthood is not proper to man but belongs to Christ that tile necessity of valid ordination becomes evident. If it be not rightly communicated to a man, that man lacks priesthood entirely in the Christian sense of the word, no matter how firmly convinced he may be that he is a priest and no matter how many people accept him as such. Finally, it is indeed a mystery how Catholics keep their faith in their priests. It is a mystery to priests themselves as well as to the Catholics who have that faith. For it is the mystery of grace itself — of God's working within their souls. In fact, so great is the mystery that no natural factors can account for it. And we are certain of one thing only — that God must be responsible for it. And this is another indication that God is indeed with the Catholic Church as with no other.

301. Did not Jesus say that the clergy were of their father the devil?

He did not say that. He did riot mention the clergy. The text you have in mind is Jo. VIII., 44. There He was streaking; to it particular group of Jews who rejected His claim to divinity, and who took up stones to kill Him because of that claim. It is strange that Judge Rutherford who misuses that text against the clergy should himself deny absolutely Christ's claim to be God — thus identifying himself with the very ones whom Christ declared to be of their father the devil, who stood not in the truth, for the truth was not in him.

302. Should servants of the Lord wear special dress to distinguish themselves from others?

There is no need for servants of the Lord who do not happen to be specially consecrated to God to do so. But those servants of the Lord who happen to be priests should wear special dress. God Himself legislated in the Old Law that His priests should wear a special dress. And human wisdom also realizes that those in official position, as in the army, or in the navy, should wear special uniforms. Thus, those from whom people desire official directions can easily be found.

303. How do you harmonize the fact that priests are called "Father" with Christ's words, "Call no man your father on earth."?

Our Lord's words were simply a strong way of saying, in the Hebrew style, that no earthly father must come before God, the one supreme Father of all, in one’s allegiance. So Christ said, "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." His words were not intended to forbid a boy to call a parent "father," and if you may call the man on earth to whom you owe your earthly life, and education, and constant care, "father," so you may call "father" that man on earth to whom you owe your spiritual life. So St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "You have not many fathers. Yet by the Gospel I have begotten you in Christ Jesus," 1 Cor. IV., 15. He knew quite well that in thus calling himself their spirit­ual father in Christ he was not violating any commandment of Christ.

304. How is the priest a father of one's spiritual life?

In a purely spiritual sense a priest does all for the life of grace in a soul that ordinary parents do for the natural life of the children God gives them. It is the priest who gives spiritual life to souls at the baptismal font. He educates those brought forth to life in Christ by their baptismal rebirth; he teaches, warns, cor­rects, and advises his spiritual children, and nourishes them with the bread of life in the Sacraments. When souls go out of this world to meet God, it is the priest who is at their death-beds, soothing their last hours, allaying their fears, and consoling them as no others could do. Having no family, the priest belongs to every family; and all in his parish; men, women, and children, love him and venerate him, and look up to him as their spiritual guide and friend, summing up everything in that term of supreme respect and reverence — "Father." Catholics rightly, there­fore, call the, priest "father," not to the exclusion of their Father in heaven, but as a manifestation on earth of the supreme Fatherhood of God in the spiritual order, even as an earthly parent is a similar manifestation of that same Fatherhood in the natural order.

305. Priestcraft seems to be everything in your Church, filling Catholics with superstitious dread.

The priesthood established by Jesus Christ has nothing to do with "priestcraft." Nor does superstition enter into the high regard Catholics have for the priestly vocation. The priesthood of Christ, communicated to men, is undoubtedly the high­est dignity in the world. And in a way it is everything in the Church. For it is the essential manifestation of the Church. The Church is but a "collective priest," the spiritual and mystical body of Christ, the One High Priest. Through the Church Christ offers Himself to us; and He makes use of a specially ordained priesthood in order to do so. From this point of view, the priesthood is the most important function in the Church. Bishops are for this priesthood. They are to ordain priests, and control the exercise of priestly powers. And those powers are chiefly for the Eucharist. Priests are ordained to consecrate the Eucharist, and to prepare the faithful for the reception of the Eucharist by instruction and by forgiving them their sins.

306. Catholics are told that they owe the greatest respect and reverence to priests independently of their personal character and in spite of their faults.

That is true. But notice that the respect is independently of a priest's char­acter, and in spite of his faults. If he has faults, no one is expected to reverence those faults. And even charity, which overlooks those faults, does not demand that we deny them if they do exist. Of course, a priest is obliged to make his personal character correspond with the sacred character of his office, and deserve personally the respect which his position secures for him. If he fails to do this, he will answer to God for his infidelity. But others are never dispensed from the duty of reverence for those who are called to the office of priesthood. Such respect is included in the reverence one has for his religion.

307. I do not see why this should be so.

It is really a question of justice, which inspires us to render to others what is due to them. Now we know that people differ, and always will differ, in education, ability, virtue, authority, dignity, and in many other ways. And it is but just to recognize these differences in practice. If religion is a just recognition of God's excellence and majesty, so in a lesser way we should respect the office and dignity of such men as exercise religious authority given by God. Thus, we all admit that a child should treat his parents with respect. And the faults of those parents do not dispense the child from that duty. If a mother has faults, the child is not obliged to call those faults virtues; but he will at least say, "Anyway, she is my mother, I respect her for the office God gave her in relation to me, and I prefer not to discuss her with others." But there are other bonds between people besides parentage. For example, justice demands that we render to a king or president the respect due to him as holding authority from God. And the respect we owe to him is extended to a governor or an ambassador appointed by him. The governor may have his personal faults. But they do not dispense us from honouring him in virtue of his office. In the same way, a priest is a representative of Jesus Christ fulfilling duties entrusted to him by our Saviour, and acting in His name. Our very respect for Christ is extended to those He has deigned to choose as His ambassadors to men. And one's respect will be proportionate to one's own faith in Christ.

308. 1 read a book which said that a slanderer of a priest was a most despica­ble creature, and it quoted, "Touch not my holy ones," or some such phrase from Scripture.

The slanderer of anybody is a most despicable creature. But if the slandering of anybody is evil, it is worse when one slanders it priest. The text to which you refer is from Ps. 104, where God says, "Touch ye not My anointed." He insists, on respect for His religion being extended to His appointed ministers of religion. There are some people who try to excuse their irreligious conduct by saying that they are not anti-Christian, but merely anticlerical. But whatever theoretical value that dis­tinction may have, it has practically none in practice. Anticlericalism inevitably leads to a decrease or even a complete loss of the Christian Faith  in the end. If a priest is guilty of disedifying conduct, he will be blamed on all sides because of his very identity with religion. It will be argued that he cannot but bring disgrace on the Church and the cause he represents. But this must apply both ways. To slander a priest is also to bring contempt on the Church and on the cause of Christ. And that is treachery on the part of any professing Christian.

309. What are the duties of Catholics in this matter?

They are three. Firstly, to allow one's respect for Christ to extend to it priest by reason of his office. Secondly, to think no evil, to avoid rash judgments, and to overlook in a spirit of charity such obvious human faults and frailties as a priest may exhibit, dismissing them completely from consideration and conversation. Thirdly, to continue most faithfully in one's own religious duties, never dreaming that neglect of duty in a priest could possibly justify neglect of duty by others.

310. Despite their privileged position, priests are often a disappointment to their own people.

The fact that Catholics are disappointed when individual priests fail to set an edifying example shows that they at least have right ideas as to what a priest ought to be. A priest does not need to be holy for the validity of his ministrations. In him it is the priesthood of Christ which is at work, and Christ is holy. At the same time it would be wrong for one called to dispense grace and spiritual gifts to others in the name of Christ to lack grace and spirituality himself. And if the salt lose its savour, at the possibility of which Christ so sadly hinted, the only remedy is the reform and greater sanctification of the clergy, and an increased spirit of faith in the laity. The priest is in a privileged position as regards salvation by his intimate contact with religion and holy things. But he is in a perilous position also. His responsibilities are much greater than those of others, and his judgment will be much more exacting than that of others. His priesthood will not save him of itself. He has to work out his own salvation, and his fate will depend upon the use he makes of his gifts, and his fulfilment of the duties of his exalted state. To whom much has been given, of him much will be required by God.

311. The Church is not merely an organization, but its members are members of Christ's body.

Those who belong to the Church are members of Christ's body. But the Church is definitely an organization. Christ called His Church a kingdom, and a kingdom supposes organized authority, not anarchy.

312. Why has not the laity a say in the administration of your Church just as in Protestant Churches?

Because the Catholic Church is not a Protestant Church. The Protestant idea of the Church is radically opposed to the Catholic idea. By their very departure from the Catholic Church, Protestants were forced to deny the constitutional and divine authority vested in the Pope and the bishops. Whilst they said that God is related to us through Christ, they repudiated the idea that Christ is related to us through the Church. Consequently, for them the Church lost its significance. They felt free to form Churches for themselves, insofar is they thought such associations helpful. Different men, therefore, formed different types of Churches. Hence the diversity. But all these Protestant Churches were what men made them, and had constitutions which men had given them. Their constitutions are always dependent upon men, and are revisable by men. Bat case is very different with the Catholic Church.

313. We Protestants do not believe in a "passive laity."

Nor do Catholics. The Catholic Church is a living organism, and no element is passive in a living organism. Jesus came to cast fire upon the earth, and the laity has its part to do in the  enkindling of that fire. But the laity’s activities are not extinguished by submission to a hierarchy; they are stimulated. Catholics are not governed without their cooperation, and the Church relies upon their active good will. The recent appeal of the Pope for "Catholic Action" is precisely an appeal that the laity should banish all passivity and do that work which lies within their province. The whole body benefits by the proper functioning of every unit. But the best government is that which unites the participation of all lesser activities with higher  functions, controlling and centralizing everything in the harmony of one directing principle. This is accomplished in the Catholic Church, and Christ has given her the best possible constitution. In their very workings, the constitutions of Protestant Churches betray their purely human origin.

314.  How do priests differ from Protestant ministers?

Protestantism does not acknowledge a sacrament of Holy Orders in the Catholic sense of the word. It repudiates anything savouring of sacerdotalism or of a priest­hood distinct by its very nature from the condition of the laity. Some Protestant ministers are so insistent upon this that on principle they refuse to wear a dress distinguishing them from the layman. And many of them feel little incongruity in changing from a clerical to a secular career. On the other hand, the Catholic priest receives the very priesthood of Christ indelibly stamped upon his soul by the sac­rament of Holy Orders. He is no longer a layman after his ordination, and knows that he can never be a layman again. He is forever consecrated and raised to a sacred dignity far above all earthly levels. Even did he return to a secular career, he would ever be conscious that he was still a priest. And knowing that the priest­hood of Christ was communicated to him that he might offer sacrifice to God for the sins of men, and that he might dispense to men sacramental graces, he would know that a return to a secular career would be an insult to Christ, a guilty neglect of the grace of his ordination, and treachery to the souls of men for whom he was ordained.

315. Jesus is our Great High Priest. Let us glorify Him, and not man.

Catholics fully agree that Jesus is our Great High Priest. So even did you become a Catholic you would not have to change your views on that point. Where you do go wrong, however, is in thinking that, because Jesus is our High Priest, no human being could be empowered by Him to exercise the office of priesthood on His behalf. That Jesus is our High Priest does not forbid Him to exercise His priesthood through human instruments of His own choosing, who will thus be secondary priests. Any honour given to priests would then be honour given to Him; for apart from Christ from whom they derive their priesthood they would be nothing.

316. Christ is the Head of the Church and the Holy Spirit is the life-giving soul.

Christ is the Head of the Catholic Church, and the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Catholic Church. But Christ, the one invisible Head of the Church, is visibly represented in the visible Christian assembly by the Pope. As successor of St. Peter, the Pope is simply the "Agent General" of Christ.

317. The hierarchy claims that whatever it binds on earth is binding in heaven. But Christ Himself did not have an open order from His Father to do or say what He liked.

The only restriction on Christ was His inability to contradict Himself, or to commit sin of any  kind. He Himself said, "All power is given to the Me heaven and on earth." And He said to the Apostles, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound also in heaven."

318. As Christ did not make one new law, and warned us about the “com­mandments of men,” is it likely that He would give men the power to make new laws?

Christ made many new laws. I cannot spare the time to enumerate them all. But take this one example. When He said at the Last Supper to the Apostles, "Do this in commemoration of Me. and as often as you do it, you will show the death of the Lord until He comes," He gave them a new law not to be found, as previously binding, in the Old Law. So, too, when He commanded men to be baptized by water and the Holy Spirit. When Christ gave the about the “commandments of men” He was addressing the Scribes and the Pharisees. But their unauthorized impositions under the Old Law did not prevent Him from authorizing His own apostles to legislate in His name under the New Law, promising to safeguard them from error by the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is that same Holy Spirit who preserves the Church from any essential errors opposed to Christian principles to her official teaching concerning faith and morals.

319. Christ told them to teach what He had commanded them, not what they thought fit to devise.

Part of what He had taught them was that they had the power to legislate in His name. And that constitutional power has been handed on in the Church.

320. Dean Inge says: "If those who are bitterly opposed to Christianity will take the trouble to trace those things in it which arouse their indig­nation to their sources, they will find, I think, that almost everything which offends them comes from ecclesiasticism, not from Christianity."

Dean Inge is wrong. His appeal to the distinction between Churchianity and Christianity may have weight with Protestants who protest against the Catholic Church, and whose religion has become so self-centred and individualistic that they have little respect for their own Churches. But the distinction will avail nothing with those bitterly opposed to Christianity. They do not object to the corporate view which identifies the Church with Christ. They object to the idea of a supernatural revelation at all. They will not entertain the notion that God Himself ever pre­scribed a definite religion for man. And Dean Inge could attack ecclesiasticism till his dying day without converting a single one of its enemies to Christianity. It is true that bitter opponents of Christianity rejoice when professing Christians attack the clergy. They gladly repeat such utterances. But their joy is not in any hope that pure and undefiled Christianity will emerge from the painful criticism; their hope is that anticlericalism will put one more nail in the coffin of Christianity.

321. "Religious societies must exist," writes Dean Inge, "and it is not likely that a class of officials will ever be found who do not wish to increase their power."

I deny that, in the Catholic Church at least, the priesthood and the bishops, as an official class, will ever want to make their authority a personal matter, to be in­creased to their own advantage. I say that I deny that of them as it class. But I agree with Dean Inge to this extent: It is not likely that, in a society composed of human beings, there will ever exist a class of officials in which some of the officials will not abuse their office, and seek to increase their motives from motives of per­sonal pride and ambition. That may be true of leaders in the Catholic Church, as of every other society, secular or religious in this world. Not for a moment would I deny that there have been Catholic bishops and priests who have forsaken the spirit of Christ, neglected their duties, exceeded their rights, been guilty of in­tolerable tyranny, and sickened those who have known them of the religion they claimed to represent. But they are the exception. Christ predicted that they would exist, and warned us not to let such failures and disappointments due to human frailty and sin shake our faith in the Church as such. The Church is to be judged by mass of those who have lived in accordance with her requirements; not by the comparative few whose conduct is their own, and possibly guilty of a violation of what the Church declares they should be and should do.

322. "As soon as we recognise that the history of the Great Church is a monstrous abuse," added Dean Inge, "which has made the Word of God of no effect by its traditions, we shall be more ready to go back to the fountain-head, and judge of the modern problems by the broad principles of the New Testament."

In the first place, if any history depicts the Catholic Church as a monstrous abuse, that history itself is a monstrous abuse. One may agree with historians bring­ing out abuses of which members of the Church have undoubtedly been guilty. But to transfer the guilt from recalcitrant members or officials to the Church they disgraced is monstrous. Still more monstrous is Dean Inge's bland assertion that the traditions of the Great Church have made the Word of God of no effect and that people who learn to despise the Church will be then ready to go back to the fountain-head is against all experience. An ever-growing loss of interest in any Christianity at all is the outstanding characteristic of those whose forefathers abandoned the Catholic Church at the time of the Protestant Reformation. As for judging modern problems by the broad principles of the New Testament, those who make such statements sel­dom get beyond vague generalizations. They do not tell us what they think those principles to be, lest in defining them they should scene to be narrow. The main thing, apparently, is to keep on talking about the broad principles of the New Tes­tament, but at all costs to keep them so broad that they cease to be principles.

323. What is needed, according to Dean Inge, is "entire detachment from ecclesiastical tradition which has completely upset the moral standards of the Gospels, counting disobedience to the hierarchy a graver offence than sins against love, truthfulness, humility or purity."

Where the Catholic Church is concerned it is sheer nonsense to say that eccle­siastical tradition has completely upset the moral standards of the Gospels. Apart from the extravagance of the statement, the Gospels themselves declare it to be impossible. As for disobedience to the hierarchy being a graver sin than sins against the theological virtue of charity or love of God, the Catholic Church expressly teaches that sins against the theological virtues are worse than sins against the cardinal virtues of justice, which includes obedience and truthfulness, and of temperance, which includes humility and purity. Apparently, too, the Dean wants to convey the idea that, in the Catholic Church, sins against love, truthfulness, humility or purity, do not matter so long as one is obedient to the hierarchy. That is a calumny. It may be argued that the Dean does not want to convey such an idea, arid that lie admits that they are regarded as sins. But he took care to destroy that impression by declaring that ecclesiastical tradition has completely upset the moral standards of the Gospels. One wonders why he remains an ecclesiastic even in the Church of England!

324. Could not the outward form of a Church, frequently borrowed from earlier systems, be so engrossing as to blind one to its development through human weakness and vanity from a simple truth?

That could happen. But I deny such is true of the Catholic Church. On the other hand, a superficial knowledge of earlier religious systems, and a fascination for the discovery of remote parallelisms in Christianity, can blind one to the historical facts concerning the independent origin of the Christian religion, and the immense differences which far outweigh what are for the most part imagined similarities. And still further, one can be blind to the laws of logic, and fall into the fallacy of thinking that similarities are of themselves sufficient proof of derivation.

325. What powers did Christ confer upon His Church?

All can really be reduced to three. Firstly, magisterial power or the authority to teach the truth in His name. Thus He said "Go teach all nations." Secondly, sanctifying powers for the forgiving of sin and the conferring of graces necessary for salvation and virtue. Thus He said "Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them." Thirdly, legislative power or the right to make laws for the disciplinary needs of the Church. Thus He said "Whatsoever you bind you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; arid whatsoever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven,"

326. You maintain that the Church will remain permanently the same till the end of the world?

Yes. For Christ said, "Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. Matt. 28, 20. By the consummation of the world is meant, not the death of the Apostles, but the end of time, and of the human race on earth. And the Church must remain with the constitution, powers, and authority given it by Christ, or it would cease to be the Church as Christ established it, and no longer, therefore, His Church, The Catholic Church, just as Christ intended it and founded it, is imperishable. It is not subject to any essential changes.

327. Would you kindly read St. Mark, XV1., 17-18?

Those verses are as follows: "These signs shall follow them that believe: in My name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall, lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover."

328. If the Catholic hierarchy desires to secure belief in itself, let its members do these things.

You are asking what the Gospels themselves do not require; for you are reading more into the words of Christ than they contain. Christ said, "These signs shall follow." He did not say that they would follow always, and in every single age, and be in the power of every believer in Him, or even of every priest. Christ's predic­tion was verified, for such signs did follow the preaching of the Gospel. If you read the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Paul you will find that such things certainly did occur. Again, although such miraculous manifestations are not so abundant today as in the early Church, when they were more necessary to secure its rapid and solid extension, they have not entirely ceased. They have continued intermittently through the ages, as we know from the lives of the Saints. But, if you have any faith in the predictions of Christ, instead of urging an exaggerated extension of a particular prediction beyond any limits intended by our Lord, why not face His prediction that the Church He established will continue till the end of time, the very gates of hell failing to prevail against it? The Church is still in this world, and it is the Catholic Church.

329. Priests can’t do these things today.

There is no particular reason why they should be empowered to do so. Our Lord did not predict that every single believer in any given age would be endowed with the ability to do all the remarkable things He enumerated. In the various ages, and more particularly in Apostolic times, some believers did some of them; others did others. And since those signs did follow those who believed in Christ, His prophecy was fulfilled. Your difficulty arises from your having read too hastily and superficially an isolated text, accepting conclusions far wider than the premises afforded by it could possibly justify. If the answer to a sum in arithmetic is to be correct, it must not contain more than the preceding figures warrant. And it is a great test of sound reasoning to go back to the propositions from which you began, and make sure you have got their right sense, and that you have not read more into them than they really say.

330. If these promises were made to the disciples only, why are not other promises so interpreted, such as the promise of the power of binding and loosing in the Church?

The promises of miraculous powers were not for the disciples only. I merely maintain that they were not for all believers always. Christ promised the gift of miracles, not to anyone who would believe in Him at all, but to the community of the faithful, to be exercised by some of them individually according to the will of God and the interests of the Church. The cases quoted in the passage from St. Mark are merely possible examples chosen from amongst others. So St. Paul describes in 1 Cor. XII., 28-31, the various gifts, saying that God gave to some the gift of miracles —  that in the Church were graces of healings, helps, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. But he adds, “Are all Apostles? Are all prophets? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? . . . Be zealous for the better gifts.” And he goes on to show that charity and personal virtue are the things that really matter. The dispositions of extraordinary gifts can be left to God.

Papal Supremacy

331. You have repeatedly said that the Pope is the head on earth of your priestly hierarchy. But Christ is the Head of the Church, and there cannot be two heads to one body.

There can be, in the Catholic sense, the one on earth being but secondary, and Vicar of Christ, the Supreme Head of the Church. Thus, a plenipotentiary ambassador has the power of the king. It is not a power different from that of the king. In fact, it is the king's power exercised through the ambassador. So the Pope is head of the Church on earth insofar as to him is delegated the power of Christ by Christ Himself. The Pope teaches and governs in the name of Christ. And he must be strictly faithful to the doctrines taught by Christ, interpreting them, defining them, defending them, and settling disputes concerning them. He is there for that, and such an authority is the secret of the success of the Catholic Church. And, of course, it is the provision made for His Church by the wisdom of Christ.

332. It is wrong for the Pope to arrogate to himself the title of "Vicar of God" on earth.

He does not do so. A person is said to arrogate to himself a title when he assumes it without any right to possess it. But, as the rightful head of the Catholic Church in this world, the Pope lawfully succeeds to an office whose occupant is rightfully regarded as God's Vicar on earth.

333. It is the height of presumption for any man to be called the Vicar of God.

I am afraid you do not understand what the word "vicar" means. If you imagine that it supposes authority even over God, I must ask you to dismiss that idea at once. A vicar is one who has authority as the delegate of another. Anyone who exercises authority in the name of another can rightly be termed that others vicar. Thus, in writing of the king, Carlyle says, "The authority of the king is that of law, or of right, not that of wrong. The king, therefore, should use the authority of law or right as being the vicar and servant of God on earth." So speaks Carlyle, and quite correctly. But if he who holds supreme authority in the State for purposes of temporal administration may be termed the Vicar of God, surely the term is still more justified when we speak of the supreme head of the Church, to whom the care of our spiritual welfare has been entrusted.


334. Why is the Pope called "Holy Father"? Christ never called Peter by that title.

Christ conferred upon St. Peter a very holy office, and appointed him as head of the household of the faith constituted by the great family of all the spiritual children of God. By doing this, Christ appointed him as the "holy father" of the whole Christian family on earth; and we Catholics as true children of the family rightly grant to him and to the Pope as his successor, the title of "Holy Father."

335. In early times the title of Pope was given to all bishops.

That is true. The word "Pope" simply means "Father," and the bishops from the beginning were regarded as entrusted in a particular way with the paternal care of their respective flocks. It was not until the fourth century that the word "Pope" began to be a distinctive title of the Bishop of Rome.

336. Then how were the successors of St. Peter distinguished from other bishops by the early Christians?

Chiefly by the title of their Bishopric. Rome, as the See of St. Peter, was acknowledged to be the supreme source of authority in the Church; and it was enough to speak of the Bishop of Rome for all to know that the supreme head of the Church on earth was intended. Yet, besides the title of Bishop of Rome, even in the earliest times when all bishops were called Popes, other distinctive titles were given to those to whom the title of Pope is now restricted. Thus, the Bishop of Rome was called the "Supreme Pontiff," or the "Roman Pontiff," or again the "Bishop of Bishops.'" But in general, it is enough to say that the supremacy of the Pope was annexed to the Bishopric inherited from St. Peter, and the very mention of Rome was enough to indicate supreme authority in the Church. "Rome has spoken; the case is finished" is an axiom which sums up the attitude of the early Christians.

337. How can the Pope be Peter's lawful successor, when there was no Pope from St. Peter's death until the fourth century?

In the second century, St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, gives the list of the Popes until his day. "The Blessed Apostles," he wrote, "transmitted the office of the episcopate to Linus. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the Apostles, to Clement is allotted the episcopacy." So he continues, giving the names of the Popes down to Eleutherius, "Who now," he says, "in the twelfth place, holds the inheritance of the episcopate from the Apostles." How could St. Irenaeus, in the second century, enumerate the names of twelve Popes, if there were no Popes before the fourth century?

338. Then the Primacy is bound to find sanctuary in Rome, or Christendom will be without its head. What if Italy were invaded and the Pope expelled?

The Primacy will always be attached to the episcopal See of Rome. The diocese of Rome, therefore, will never be destroyed nor suppressed. Despite any possible political changes, there will always be some faithful Christians in the diocese of Rome, and the Pope will be their bishop. The true "Eternal Rome," to use a popular expression, is not political Rome, but the Rome of St. Peter and of his successors; in other words, perpetuity belongs to ecclesiastical Rome, whatever political changes the centuries may bring.



339. Where was Peter given power to transmit his office to others?

Christ Himself gave St. Peter the power of transmitting his privileges and authority as head of the Church by declaring that Church to be perpetual. As a building is supported by its foundation, so the whole Church will ever rest upon the constitutional office and authority to be transmitted by Peter. If the Church is to remain all days till the end of the world protected by Christ, it must remain just as He established it. No one could alter the essential constitution He gave it, or it would no longer be the same society. As the Church is perpetual, so the Primacy is perpetual, and, therefore, to be transmitted by Peter to his successors. Those who deny this must face the formidable consequence that the Church for nearly two thousand years has been heretical, leading the overwhelming majority of Christians through all the ages into error, so that the gates of hell have indeed prevailed against the Church Christ established and guaranteed. They must concede that the Church has no single visible head on earth; that unity in faith and worship is not necessary; and that division amongst the Churches with all their variations of discipline and indiscipline is quite in accordance with the mind of Christ. And that is indeed a reduction to the absurd.

340. Matthew XVI., 18, 19, are ambiguous verses, which claim or claimed a respectable heterodoxy.

The text, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church," has, of course, been violently disputed by those who desired to reject Catholicism. But the heterodox interpretations of these people, however respectable in their own eyes and in those of their followers, remained, nevertheless, heterodox. Error does not cease to be error because it becomes widespread and popular. Protestant scholars are becoming rapidly ashamed of the absurd interpretations adopted in order to escape the Catholic sense. So we find the Protestant Dr. Plummer insisting that the word rock must refer to Peter, and not to Christ Himself, nor to Peter's faith, nor to Peter's confession of faith. Dr. Briggs, a Presbyterian scholar, writes, "All attempts to explain the rock in any other way than as referring to Peter have ignominiously failed." The German Protestant scholar Kuinoel wrote, "Many interpreters wrongly said that the 'rock' referred to Christ Himself or to the confession of Peter. They would not have taken refuge in these distorted interpretations if the Popes had not used the words to vindicate their own authority." Loisy, the French Modernist, said, "Protestant interpretations are based on polemical interests. But, if one does accept the Gospels in an historical sense, their interpretations are only subtle distinctions doing violence to the text." Heterodox interpretations, therefore, are still heterodox; and they are growing less and less respectable.

341. Any pretended religion trying to function on a couple of flagrantly distorted verses, to wit, Matthew XVI., 18, and XVIII., 17, is based on a very precarious foundation.

I agree. But the Catholic Church does not try to function on a couple of verses of Scripture; and she does not flagrantly distort Matthew XVI., 18. and XVIII., 17. even when those particular verses happen to be quoted. If you hear them quoted fairly often, it is because those who write to me, and profess to believe in the Bible, seem to forget that they exist.

342. But then, Romanism, being infallible, can make and unmake, bind and loose, dictate the lives and words and consciences of men, make and unmake laws.

Being infallible means that the Catholic Church is unable, even if she would, to teach or legislate officially, in matters of faith or morals, in any way opposed to the revelation given by God to mankind. The infallibility of the Church does not give her the right to depart from the principles of Christ. It is a restriction, taking away that possibility. There is no guarantee that a noninfallible Church will not go astray.

343. Judge Rutherford says that the Pope is antichrist, and the "seven-headed, ten-horned Beast"; whilst the Roman Church is "Satan's Organisation."

That is sufficiently refuted by the fact that it is Judge Rutherford who supplies such information.

344. Who is the "man" referred to in Rev. XIII., 18?

He is a symbol of the evil spirit of revolt against God throughout the ages. St. John personifies by his expression the forces of evil struggling against the work of Christ. Ever there is an antichrist. It may be this Emperor or that; or some group of irreligious men, or a collection of groups. Whether, when the worlds history approaches its climax, the antagonist is to be represented by one man, or by one system of government, or even by a dominant system of thought cannot be defined. But that matters little. Certainly the generalized visions of St. John do not justify us in insisting that the "man" referred to must be a definite human or diabolical personality. And still more certainly, the expression in no way refers to the Pope.

345. There have been evil Popes. Was it God's will that they should be head of the Church?

It was at least God's permissive will. It was quite against God's positive will that the few unworthy Popes should have lived in a disedifying way. But we should quarrel, not with the fact that they were Popes, but with the fact that they did not live up to their obligations, and set a good personal example to the faithful.

346. Yet you have to believe that those Popes, sinful themselves, could do no wrong where the affairs of the Church were concerned?

Catholics certainly must and do believe that no Pope, whatever his personal character, has ever defined an erroneous doctrine to be true. But the gift of infallibility does not extend to matters of practical administration. And Popes have undoubtedly been guilty of imprudence in such matters. The Church, however, being indefectible in virtue of Christ's promise to be with her all days till the end of the world, has survived all such mistakes in management and policy on the part of the Popes.

347. Still Catholics are obliged to obey the Pope in all things.

There is no authority in the Church to command what is evil. If any authority did so, Catholics are obliged to disobey such commands. If, for example, the Pope sent me a special command to murder some special enemy of the Church, I would absolutely refuse to obey. And if the Pope charged me with disobedience, I would reply, "I owe you no obedience when you command what is clearly sinful." But there is not the least likelihood of any Pope commanding anyone to do what is sinful.

348. Can you quote any testimonies to Papal claims to supremacy before the year 300 A. D.?

Yes. In the year 96, Pope Clement of Rome, wrote to the Corinthians. His letter was official, written in his capacity as successor of St. Peter, and it gave not only advice but definite commands. After his instructions he wrote, "If you obey what we have written by the Holy Spirit, you will be our joy and consolation. But if some do not obey what God has said by us, let them know that they will be involved in no small sin and danger." Harnack, the German Protestant scholar, admitted that this letter of Clement proves that the primacy of the Bishop of Rome was an accepted fact even in the first century. Again, we have the testimony of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch from 69-107 A. D. He writes that the Church at Rome "presides over the whole assembly united in charity." And he asks for prayers for the Church in Syria confided to him subject to Christ and the supreme authority of Rome. This testimony of St. Ignatius has particular value, for St. Peter had been Bishop of Antioch. If St. Peter had remained and died at Antioch, the Bishop of Antioch would have obtained the supremacy. But St. Ignatius expressly rejects the idea that he has authority over the Christians at Rome, and admits that the Bishop of Rome is the principal and presiding bishop. Thirdly, St. Irenaeus, 130-202 A. D., Bishop of Lyons in Gaul, wrote as follows of the Roman See: "On account of its supremacy it is necessary that every Church in which is the tradition of the Apostles should be in harmony or unity with this Church." Fourthly, St. Cyprian, 210-258 A. D., an African bishop, writing of certain heretics, says, "They even dare to invade the See of Peter and the principal Church whence the unity of the priesthood has its source." Again he writes, "We exhort all to acknowledge and hold that Rome is the mother and root-source of the Catholic Church."

349. If the Pope was supreme head of the Church, why did the Emperors convene and preside over the Oecumenical Councils prior to the Greek Schism?

It is true that the early Councils were convened by the Emperors, but never with any idea that they could grant any ecclesiastical jurisdiction or authority to the members of those Councils or to their decisions. Whilst the Emperor might demand that the bishops assemble, the Pope alone could give the character of an Oecumenical Council to the gathering, either by sending Legates, as at the Nicene Council; or by delegating authority to one of the bishops to preside, as at Ephesus; or by confirming the Decrees, as with the Second Council of Constantinople. In no case had the Decrees oecumenical value without the ratification of the Pope. The reason for the prior action of the Emperor in convening the Councils should be clear. When the same people are subjects of both civil and ecclesiastical authority, civil disturbance can affect their spiritual welfare, and religious disturbance can affect their civil welfare. Heresies in those times greatly disturbed social peace; and the Emperors wanted questions of faith and order in the Church rectified for the good of the Empire. But they knew that questions of faith as such were subject to the authority of the Pope. They had no say in deciding such matters.

350. If the Pope were supreme in the Church, the bishops at the Council of Nicea, and the Bishop of Rome, surely would be aware of it.

All were aware of it. They could not be unaware of the testimonies of Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Cyprian, and many others. Hosius, who presided at the Council of Nicea, was the Legate of Pope Sylvester. Yet Pope Sylvester's predecessor, Pope Julius I., had written to the Eusebian bishops, "The ecclesiastical canon forbids any decrees to be sanctioned without the judgment of the Roman Bishop." That canon was certainly known to all the bishops assembled at Nicea.

351. Then why did the Council of Nicea confer on the Pope the title of Patriarch, but junior to the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria?

The Council did not do so. You have been misled by a wrong interpretation of the 6th Canon of the Nicene Council. That Canon did not allot junior patriarchal rights to the Bishop of Rome. It vindicated the patriarchal rights of Alexandria against the usurper, Meletius of Lycopolis. The Bishop of Alexandria complained to the Council of this usurpation. The Council then vindicated the patriarchal rights of the great Sees of Alexandria and Antioch in their own spheres, even as all admitted the patriarchal rights of Rome. The authoritative interpretation of this 6th Canon of Nicea can be found in the 16th transaction of the Council of Chalcedon. Paschasius was asked to quote the 6h Canon of Nicea. He did so as follows: "The Roman Church has always had the primary. Let Egypt however hold that the Bishop of Alexandria has power over all members there, because such is the custom with the Roman Bishop. So, in Antioch, and in the other provinces, let the Churches of the greater cities have the primacy." All present at Chalcedon agreed to the safeguarding of the patriarchal rights of Alexandria and Antioch in relation to their suffragan bishops, but added: "We declare that the primacy, and chief honor, according to the Canons, he preserved to the Archbishop of ancient Rome."

352. Let us go back a little further. What did the supreme Pope Victor do to the Asiatic Christians in 188-189?

What you here think adverse to the papal claims is really strong evidence for them. Take the history of the whole affair. From the earliest times, the Christians in Asia Minor used to celebrate Easter at the same time as the Jewish Passover, the 14th day of the Jewish month Nisan, on whatever day of the week it might fall. Elsewhere, and especially at Rome, Easter was celebrated always on a Sunday, as amongst us today. A controversy arose about this divergence of custom, and Pope Victor instructed the bishops to meet in order to settle the question. Lest Jewish ideas should invade the Church in Asia Minor, nearly all the bishops declared that the Roman custom should be observed everywhere. But the bishops of Asia Minor refused this, and the Pope condemned them, and excommunicated them. St. Irenaeus wrote to the Pope begging him not to enforce the censure for the sake of peace, and Pope Victor yielded. However, the Jewish custom was gradually abandoned, and before long the Roman custom of Easter observance was accepted in Asia Minor also.

353. What was the action of the bishops, and the results thereof?

I have explained that. No conclusion detrimental to papal jurisdiction can be drawn from the incident. Dr. B. J. Kidd, the Protestant scholar, says: "At no point in its history is this pre-eminence so evident as under Pope Victor, when from Gaul to Osrhoene on the Euphrates his invitation for the summoning of Councils to effect a settlement of the Paschal Controversy was everywhere accepted." And he quotes Duchesne's statement that this matter "shows how evident in those ancient times was the oecumenical authority of the Roman Church." And certainly no bishop other than the Bishop of Rome claimed such a right to intervene; nor would any other have been so heeded. Though some of the bishops refused to obey, and at the request of Irenaeus the Pope did not enforce the decree of excommunication, it does not follow that they denied his authority. As a matter of fact, the letter of Irenaeus shows that his authority was admitted, for Irenaeus pleaded that so many Christians should not be cut off from the Church for observing a long-standing custom. That is an admission that if the Pope did enforce the excommunication, the effect would be their exclusion from the Church. Harnack, the German Protestant historian, saw that. "How could Victor threaten such an edict of excommunication," he writes, "unless it was commonly admitted that it belonged to the Roman Church to define the conditions of unity in those things that pertained to the faith."

354. From whom did Spain seek advice during the disturbances created by Basilides?

Let us take the facts, and then discuss their significance. In the year 253 A. D., two bishops in Spain named Basilides and Martialis denied their faith during a persecution, and went over to paganism. Neighboring bishops thereupon consecrated two other bishops, Sabinus and Felix, to take their places. The two apostate bishops later repented and wanted to take over their previous dioceses from Sabinus and Felix. Meeting with opposition, they went to Rome, gave a false account of affairs to Pope Stephen, and implored him to use his supreme authority to restore them to their bishoprics. They were very plausible, and deceived the Pope, who ordered their reinstatement. The distressed local Catholics then appealed for advice to Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in Africa. Cyprian told them not to reinstate Basilides and Martialis, but to keep Sabinus and Felix, declaring that the Pope's decision was based on the wrong information supplied by the two unworthy renegades. But in all this there is no indication that either the Spanish Catholics or Cyprian of Carthage rejected the Pope's supremacy. The mere fact that Basilides and Martialis had recourse to the Holy See shows the primacy of Rome as an accepted fact. Cyprian himself in his writings on the subject strongly maintained all the Catholic principles of the Roman Primacy. In practice, during the stress of controversies, persecutions, and schisms, he did not always observe his own principles, and allowance can easily be made for mistakes in administration.

355. How does this square with papal claims to supremacy?

The incident affords no real difficulty. Cyprian, without denying the supreme authority of the Pope, seems to have ignored it in a particular difficulty, giving his reasons for doing so. Probably he thought he did what was for the best in the circumstances; but even had he been moved by some traces of pride or prejudice, which are latent even in the best of men, no argument against papal claims could be drawn from his conduct. In the year 257, Cyprian died a martyr for the faith, and is a canonized Saint in the Catholic Church. Writing in the fourth century, St. Augustine speaks of Cyprian's many mistakes, and says, "Either Cyprian did not say all that his enemies declare him to have said; or else he later corrected his views in the light of truth; or else the immense charity which filled his heart covered such blemishes in his life. In any case, he expiated all by his sufferings and death for Christ."

356. What of the incident concerning Apiarius, 451 A. D.?

That case is often quoted where the right of appeal to the Pope against the disciplinary decisions of other bishops is concerned. About the year 417 A. D., Apiarius, a priest in Africa, was deposed and excommunicated by his own bishop.

Apiarius appealed to the Pope, who took up his case, and reversed the decision of the African bishop, ordering Apiarius to be reinstated. After the death of Pope Zosimus, the case was again put to Pope Boniface, his successor. For five years, letters were exchanged between Africa and Rome concerning the principles involved, and Pope Boniface died without concluding the discussion. He was succeeded by Pope Celestine I., who settled the case by admitting that Apiarius was justly condemned by his own bishop, and should be deposed; but he insisted that, by virtue of their primacy, the Popes retained the right to hear and judge appeals from Africa, or anywhere else in the world.

357. What is your interpretation of the African Synod's letters to Boniface?

It is not a question of my interpretation. It is a question of their objective historical significance. There is certainly not one word in them that can validly be urged against the Roman Primacy. The African bishops complained to Pope Boniface of the high-handed behavior of the Legate Faustinus, though without disputing in any way the fact of his authority. They also asked the Pope to verify certain Canons which had been quoted by his predecessor, Zosimus. It is to be noted that St. Augustine was a member of the committee of African bishops who wrote to Pope Boniface. Now St. Augustine was absolutely convinced of the primacy of the Pope, and would never have sanctioned letters which could be interpreted as opposed to that primacy. For example, writing against the Donatist heretics, St. Augustine said that the Bishop of Carthage had no need to worry about enemies so long as he knew that he was in communion with the Roman Church, in which the primacy of the Apostolic Chair had always existed, and from which the Gospel had come to Africa. In Ep. 209, he acknowledges that appeal may be made from his own episcopal decisions to Rome. And in sermon 131 he declares that Councils derive their authority from the approbation of the Supreme Pontiff. "For that reason," he writes, "the two Councils sent their transactions to the Apostolic See, and the Decrees duly came back. The cause is finished." From these words of St. Augustine the axiom arose, "Rome has spoken; the cause is finished."


358. What was the trouble over the Nicene and Sardican Canons?

In vindicating the right of appeals to Rome from Africa against local decisions there, Pope Zosimus had quoted two Canons which in all good faith he attributed to the Council of Nicea instead of to the Council of Sardica. The African bishops could not find them amongst the Nicene Canons, and as Zosimus died just at that time, they wrote to Boniface asking him to verify the quotation. Pope Boniface made inquiries, and found that Zosimus had mistakenly quoted the Sardican Canons as Nicene. The Council of Sardica (now Sofia, in Bulgaria) had met in 343, and had restated most clearly the law that there is always the right of appeal to the Pope "out of reverence for the Blessed Apostle Peter." But the Council of Sardica, whilst a lawful provincial Synod of Eastern bishops, was not an Oecumenical Council as was that of Nicea. But this merely technical point makes no difference whatever to the substance of the claim of the Popes to the primacy, and its continuous and general admission.

359. In the light of all this, can you still hold that primacy of jurisdiction belongs to the Pope?

Of course. There is no point in searching history for isolated incidents in which the exercise of this primacy provoked opposition. Many, at various times, did not perceive fully the nature of that primacy, even though admitting it. Many did not know clearly how far it extended. Many, for personal reasons, resisted it, whilst still professing to be Catholics. Others lost the faith altogether and denied it. But the primacy was always there. I myself am not surprised by the number of cases in which the authority of the Pope was discussed, and its practical applications disputed. I marvel that there were not more. Any solicitor could tell you that there is a vast difference between a law and its application. Lawyers themselves will dispute as to the sense and amplitude of various civil laws. Test cases are brought to determine their interpretation. The wisest legal men will argue sincerely and strongly for opposing views. And out of such disputes the correct application emerges. In the same way the fact of the primacy of the Pope has ever stood, whilst disputes and discussions have but enabled us to state its implications with precision.

360. In a previous reply you mentioned the Council of Chalcedon. Very well. What was stated in its 28th Canon?

The section which suits your purpose is as follows: "Always following the rules of the holy Fathers, and knowing the Canon of the 150 most God-beloved bishops which has just been read, we also define and vote the same things concerning the primacy of the Most Holy Church of Constantinople, the New Rome. And indeed, the Fathers wisely gave the primacy to the See of Elder Rome because that city was the ruler; and the 150 most God-beloved bishops, moved by the same purpose, appointed a like primacy to the most Holy See of New Rome, rightly judging that the city honored because of her rule and her Senate, should enjoy a like primacy to that of the Elder Imperial Rome, and should be powerful in Church affairs, just as she is, and should be, the second after her." Such is the famous 28th Canon of Chalcedon. It must be noted that, whilst this Canon admits the primacy of Rome, it was dictated by the ambition of Constantinople to supplant the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch; and it wrongly states the origin of and the reasons for Rome's primacy.

361. You deny that the Council gave the Pope his privileges?

Yes. Pope Leo the Great had himself convoked the Council of Chalcedon in 451. But when the Council met, Attila and the Huns were ravaging Italy, and many Western bishops could not attend. However, Pope Leo sent Paschasius, a Sicilian bishop, to preside in his name, with four other bishops to assist him. There were 630 Eastern bishops, the 5 Papal Legates, and 2 African bishops present. The Eastern bishops were anxious to exalt the See of Constantinople, not to the level of Rome, but above all other Churches. At the 15th Session, on Oct. 31st, the Papal Legates being absent, the Eastern bishops formulated their 28th Canon. But when they wrote to Pope Leo formally asking him to confirm their Decrees, the Pope confirmed the doctrinal decisions, but refused the Canons drawn up in the absence of the Papal Legates.

362. If the Pope had the primacy, why did the Greek bishops give him such privileges?

The Greek bishops gave no privileges. They acknowledged the primacy of Rome, and sought privileges for Constantinople to render the Patriarch of that city next in dignity after the Pope, and above the Sees of Alexandria and Antioch. They wrote to Pope Leo that they only wanted Constantinople to be "second," and added, "We beg you then to honor our decisions so that we may add the consent of the head of the Church." Pope Leo refused, telling them that they were confusing civil and divine things; and as a result the Canon was never inserted into any Code of Canon Law, either Eastern or Western, till the Greeks revised it some 400 years later at the time of the Schism of Photius and the commencement of the Greek Orthodox Church.

363. Does Papal Supremacy still stand?

Yes. At that very Council of Chalcedon, when Pope Leo's dogmatic letter to Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, was read, all the bishops cried out, "That is the faith of the Fathers; that is the faith of the Apostles. Peter has spoken by Leo." And the appeal of the Eastern bishops themselves to the Pope as the head of the Church in order to secure the ratification of their 28th Canon, leaves no doubt as to their convictions concerning the Roman Primacy. In his book on "Church Unity," Dr. C. A. Briggs, a Presbyterian professor of theology, writes as follows: "We have to admit that the Christian Church from the earliest times recognized the primacy of the Roman Bishop, and that all other great Sees at times recognized the supreme jurisdiction of Rome in matters of doctrine, government, and discipline. It can easily be shown that the assumptions of the Bishops of Rome were often resented; their intrusions into the rights of other Patriarchates, provinces, and dioceses, were often resisted; their decisions were often refused; but when the whole case has been carefully examined and all the evidences sifted, the statement of Irenaeus stands firm." Irenaeus stated that "it is a matter of necessity for every Church to agree with the great, ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, on account of its pre-eminent authority."

364. Was Pope Gregory I. in error when he protested against the title of "Universal Bishop," saying that it was sacrilegious for any man to so call himself?

In so protesting Gregory exercised his universal jurisdiction as Bishop of Bishops, not hesitating to condemn John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople.

365. Was he unaware of his own universal jurisdiction?

He could not have been, since he exercised it. In many of his letters, also, he insists that the Bishop of Rome holds the place of Peter, that he is the head of the "Faith," and "of all the Churches." And he declares that all the bishops are subject to the Apostolic See. To understand the sense in which Pope Gregory condemned the expression "universal Bishop," you must understand the sense in which John the Faster intended it. It has always been Catholic teaching that the bishops are not mere agents of the Pope, but true successors of the Apostles. The supreme authority of Peter is perpetuated in the Popes; but the power and authority of the other Apostles is perpetuated in the other bishops in the true sense of the word. The Pope is not the "only" Bishop; and, although his power is supreme, his is not the "only" power. But John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople, wanted to be bishop even of the dioceses of subordinate bishops, reducing them to mere agents, and making himself the universal or only real bishop. Pope Gregory condemned this intention, and wrote to John the Faster telling him that he had no right to claim to be universal bishop or "sole" bishop in his Patriarchate.

Temporal Power

366. The absolute supremacy of the Pope raises the question as to why Catholics of America or Australia should be subject to a foreign bishop of a foreign city.

From the national point of view we are not subject to the Pope. From the spiritual point of view the word "foreign" is without meaning. All Catholics are equally members of the one great family of the children of God.

367. Throughout the world Roman Catholics accept as their final authority neither the Word of God, nor the law of the land; but the will of a foreign potentate.

The authority of the Word of God does not enter into this matter. Protestants themselves would restrict the authority of the Bible to religious matters, even did they still accept it at all. Multitudes of them no longer accept it as having any real authority, and where they do, they read into it whatever they want it to mean. It is the Catholic Church today which stands for the authority of the Bible against rationalists and unbelievers. The statement that Catholics do not accept the laws of the land as supreme in their own sphere is an inexcusable calumny. Their very religion insists upon obedience to the law of the land in which they happen to dwell. It forbids them to do the will of a "foreign potentate" in opposition to the laws of their own country. And the Pope, as their supreme Bishop and leader in religious matters, never tires of urging his subjects wherever they may be to fulfill the duties of good citizenship.

368. Still, since the Pope is a temporal ruler in his own right, it follows that the organization of Roman Catholicism is in part a Church, and in part a political State.

That does not follow. In no way whatever can the Catholic Church be called partly a political State. If it were, then I, as a Catholic priest, would owe political allegiance to my country, and also a political allegiance to the Catholic Church. But I acknowledge only one political allegiance-that to my country, Australia. Surely as a Catholic priest I ought to know what claims the Catholic religion makes upon me. I in no way acknowledge the Catholic Church as being in part a political State. The Pope is the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, and I acknowledge spiritual allegiance to him as to my supreme Bishop. He happens also to be temporal ruler of the territory known as Vatican City, in order to be independent of Italian civil authority. But I am not a citizen dwelling in that territory, and have no political affiliations with it.

369. The temporal interests of the Pope's political State might easily conflict with the real interests of the Commonwealth.

If the political interests of Vatican City ever really menaced the political interests of our Commonwealth, Catholics would be obliged in conscience to defend our country against Papal aggression. If the Pope sent two Cardinals and an altar boy in a rowing boat to annex Australia as a further temporal possession of the Holy See, it would be the duty of Catholics in Australia to enlist at once in the Army, Navy, and Air-force, and to concentrate on the task of repelling the invader even at the cost of their own lives.


370. A Protestant bishop has recently declared that Roman Catholicism is an extra-national institution functioning within the State in defiance of the sovereignty of the State.

That is absurd. If the Catholic Church in this country is an extra-national institution functioning in Australia, how would he rank his own Church? It is a religious institution; and not being a national institution, since Australia professes no national religion, it, too, must be classed as an extra-national institution.

371. He said that the Roman Church could not help moulding citizens to an Italian conception of citizenship rather than British.

That is not true. On her own principles the Catholic Church is obliged to inculcate in this country an Australian conception of citizenship of the loftiest character, even as she teaches her children fidelity to their conscience and religion. As a professor of theology, in a recent lecture to our own students preparing for the priesthood, I spoke as follows; and I leave it to my listeners to judge for themselves as to whether my words could be branded as propaganda for Italian ideals. These were my words: "Love of country is an integral part of human nature. Patriotism awakens deep feelings within us, and it stands for love of the place, of the actual soil, the scenery, the history of the land of our origin. Now divine grace perfects nature. There is not a single natural virtue which our Lord is not prepared to consecrate and render divine and supernatural. Our loyalty to country is caught up and blended through Jesus Christ with our loyalty to God. So the Catholic Church has ever respected national characteristics. She unites people in the same faith and worship without in the least asking them to renounce their national differences. We are not only allowed to love our country, we are obliged before God to do so. It would be a sin not to do so. But we must ever remember that love of our own country does not warrant our blaming other people for loving theirs. They, too, have a duty of patriotism. And we must rejoice to see Frenchmen loving France; Irishmen loving Ireland; Americans loving America; Englishmen loving England; Germans loving Germany. If I were working in Japan, I would teach Japanese children that it was their duty to love Japan, even as Australian children must be taught to love Australia."

372. In times of national crisis Catholics are liable to be influenced, directly or indirectly, by their Church, which is primarily controlled outside the British Empire.

The spiritual control to which Catholics are subject does not vary with national ups and downs, nor does it ever interfere with genuine national duties. In times of political crisis, it would not conflict in any way with genuine obligations of loyalty to the country, whether directly or indirectly. It would urge the fulfillment of those duties. But, of course, that does not mean that Catholics, any more than other citizens, are obliged to agree with what any would-be fanatical patriot chooses to declare to be the demands of loyalty. There are many people who think that what they advocate is the only true form of loyalty to their country. But others have the right to differ with them. With the genuine obligations of loyalty Catholicism can never conflict.


373. When one looks at the Catholic Church as she is in herself, one is amazed at the apparent self-righteous and supreme egotism of her teachings.

The Catholic Church certainly claims to be infallible; but she cannot be accused of self-righteousness when she declares that the rightness of her doctrines is due, not to herself, but to the fact that they have been revealed by Almighty God. Nor can she be accused of egotism when she explains that she is not free to compromise God's rights by admitting that human thoughts contradicting His teachings are equally correct. You yourself may not agree that the Catholic Church has such certainty that her teachings are revealed by God; but, granted that the Catholic Church believes it, she cannot be accused of adopting a self-righteous and egotistical attitude.

374. I cannot agree that your Church has a monopoly of the eternal truths.

We do not make that claim. People can know many eternal truths quite independently of the Catholic Church. It is not necessary to be a Catholic, for example, to know that there is a God, or that there is a moral law obliging us to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. What we do maintain is that the Catholic Church has a monopoly of divine authority and certainty in teaching the eternal truths in their fullness as revealed by God. As you do not admit that any other body in this world possesses such a divine teaching authority, you will not resent the denial of the Catholic Church that any other possesses it. The only thing that you could resent would be the fact that the Catholic Church claims it. All I can suggest is that you study the grounds on which she bases that claim.

375. If the Pope is infallible, you make him God.

Since we deny vehemently that he is God, you cannot say that we make him God. But, of course, you mean that our doctrine seems impossible to you save on the hypothesis that the Pope is accepted as God. But that is not necessary. A violin giving out beautiful music is not a musician. You may say that the violin doesn't think the music, but that the Pope thinks the dogmas. Yet insofar as the Pope thinks, he is not infallible, and we have not got to believe his thought but his official declaration of the traditional teaching of Christ. Popes have committed their thoughts to writing, yet their books have much less authority in the Church than the works of a simple monk like St. Thomas Aquinas. It is not the Pope's thoughts, but the Pope's office which counts. To him in his official capacity as successor of St. Peter, our Lord's words apply, "I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not; and do thou confirm thy brethren." God can certainly preserve the Pope from making a wrong definition of doctrine, and He has promised to do so.

376. You have to admit that infallibility is superhuman, and that if the Pope has the duty of a superman, he is a superman.

I will not admit anything of the kind. He is not a superman. The personal powers of the Pope do not enter into the matter. Christ has prayed for him. Christ preserves him from mistakes when, in his official capacity, he defines a doctrine for the universal Church. That is enough. Before a definition, the Pope has no greater personal certainty than any other theologian. After a definition, the Pope is as bound to believe it as any other Catholic. And he believes it as a thing above him, of which he has been the humble instrument.

377. Upon what precisely is the Catholic claim based?

Upon the will of Christ who established the Catholic Church and declared that she would be infallible as the guardian of the Faith.

378. The Christian religion does not need to be guarded. It is from God, and that is sufficient guard.

The New Testament itself does not sanction that idea. St. Paul wrote to Timothy: "I charge thee before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead . . . preach the word. Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine, for there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine; but according to their desires they will heap up to themselves teachers, and will turn away their hearing from the truth." 2 Tim. IV., 1-4. And again he wrote to Titus that a bishop must embrace "that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine, and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many disobedient who must be reproved, who subvert whole houses, teaching things they ought not. Wherefore rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in faith." Tit. I., 9-13. St. Paul knew that God had entrusted His religion to the guardianship of the Catholic Church which he calls the "pillar and ground of truth." I Tim. III., 15.

379. I presume that, before a definition is given, the matter is thoroughly discussed in order to eliminate the danger of a faulty verdict, and the definition based on a majority decision?

You seem to suppose, quite wrongly, that the infallibility of the Church depends ultimately upon human prudence. It does not. It depends ultimately upon the assistance of the Holy Ghost. It is to be noted that we say "assistance," and not "inspiration." The Holy Spirit does not necessarily inspire the Pope in such matters. Before a pronouncement is made, the matter is thoroughly discussed, theologians studying the whole question deeply in the light of Scripture, Apostolic tradition, the writings of the Fathers, and doctrinal analogies. If they decide that the proposed definition is in conformity with the revelation given by Christ, they so inform the Pope. He personally then weighs the question, pondering over it and praying for light. So far no definition has been made. Now what if, after all care has been taken, the proposed doctrine is false? Then, in virtue of the gift of infallibility, the Pope would be prevented from defining the doctrine by the Holy Spirit. How? By some special illumination of mind, or by some external miraculous sign, if necessary; or, if despite these things, the Pope were to determine to define the error, he would drop dead before he would be allowed to use his supreme authority to impose an heretical definition upon the whole Church. Whatever means might be used by God to prevent the Pope from defining error, he would certainly not be permitted to issue an erroneous definition.

380. What if, in previous discussions, the minority of Cardinals and theologians were right, and the majority wrong?

In discussions prior to a Papal definition, if the minority were right, the majority would be wrong; and if a majority were right, the minority would be wrong. But there could be no infallible knowledge as to which group was right and which wrong, unless the Pope decided to define the issue. Should he do so, we would know infallibly that the group which had previously maintained the defined doctrine was right-whether it was the majority or the minority. We must keep in mind that discussions prior to an infallible definition do not contribute to the infallibility of that decision. Infallibility is due to the influence of the Holy Spirit.

381. If at any time the whole hierarchy of the Catholic Church were to become vicious, would not that suggest a withdrawal of Christ's protection - and, therefore, a loss of infallibility?

Infallibility consists in certainty as regards the defined teachings of the Church, not in the impeccability of her officials. At the same time, if the whole hierarchy were to fall into moral corruption, one could possibly challenge the doctrine of Christ's protection of the Church on the score that one of her essential notes is holiness even in the lives of her members in general. But no stage of the history of the Catholic Church could justify the grotesque charge that the whole of the Catholic hierarchy was utterly corrupt.

382. As the Church relies for her doctrines on St. Jerome's Version of the Bible, must we believe that St. Jerome was infallible?

St. Jerome was definitely not infallible. The original writers of Sacred Scripture were infallible, not subsequent translators or transcribers. St. Jerome's translation derives its real value from the fact that the Catholic Church has approved it; but even that approval is disciplinary rather than doctrinal. The Church does not say that no error ever occurred in St. Jerome's Version. But your difficulty arises from your erroneous notion as to the source of the infallibility of the Church. It is not derived from any human sources. If it were, that would be the end of infallibility, for merely human sources are necessarily fallible. If the Pope is asked to define infallibly the sense of some teaching of Scripture, theologians and Scripture scholars are appointed to study the matter in question. They study both text and context in the Vulgate of St. Jerome, compare it with other Versions and Manuscripts, search out the unanimous teaching of the Fathers if such unanimity is to be had, watch carefully the analogy of Catholic dogma, and present their conclusions to the Pope. The Pope may decide not to define the question, and the conclusion of scholars will then remain a probable or perhaps a certain conclusion of theologians without its becoming an infallible decision binding as a matter of strict faith. But if the Pope does give a decision ex cathedra as head of the whole Church, the Holy Spirit will safeguard him from defining any error. The definition then derives its value, not from the previous researches of theologians, nor from any personal thought bestowed upon the subject by the Pope himself, but from the protection and assistance of the Holy Ghost. From all this you can see that natural efforts at the translation of Scripture, whether by St. Jerome or anybody else, are not the foundation for the infallibility of the Catholic Church.

383. Is it not strange that scientists, and not the infallible Church, have revealed those momentous Divine Laws of nature which have resulted in man's progress?

It is not in the least strange that purely natural forces should be discovered and made known to man as a result of human study rather than by the infallible Church. For the Catholic Church does not exist for the purpose of making known the natural secrets of the universe. She exists to safeguard and teach the supernatural revelation of man's eternal and supernatural destiny made known by God through the Prophets and His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. You may think that the teaching of science should have been included in the scope of the mission of the Church. But our own speculations must give way before facts. And the fact is that Christ commissioned His Church to teach all nations all things whatsoever He had taught in the name of His Father.

384. Is not the material progress of mankind important?

It is worthy of his attention. But so far as natural development is concerned, God has left that to man himself. He does not make civilization, but wills that man should. However, He has not willed to reveal in advance the natural knowledge which can and should be the fruit of man's own initiative and the progressive exercise of his natural powers. The Church encourages men in their efforts at material and cultural progress; but her specific duty is to see that they do not neglect their spiritual welfare, nor the claims of God upon them. She must keep reiterating from age to age what God has said of Himself and of man's supreme destiny beyond the confines of this life. She must warn men of what they are in constant danger of forgetting-that they must serve God and save their souls, rather than allow themselves to be hypnotized by the transitory things of this life.

385. Scientific inventions, such as radio transmission, have a great influence for good and evil.

Of themselves they have no moral influence either for good or for evil. Such influence is due to the moral goodness or to the wickedness of the men who make use of them; and it is the duty of the Church to induce men to be morally good. To equip the Church for this work the religion of Christ was entrusted to her keeping.



386. Did not the Pope became infallible only in 1870?

No. All through the ages the Popes have been infallible. In 1870, the fact that he is infallible was defined as an article of faith, whilst a more precise decision was given concerning the matters concerning which his infallibility could be exercized and under what conditions.

387. When was the first claim made for papal infallibility?

Implicitly the infallibility of the Pope was admitted from the very beginning, for it was a necessary accompaniment of the Primacy over the whole Church against which Christ promised that the forces of error and evil would never prevail. All the declarations of the Fathers from the earliest times insisting that the Roman Church was the standard, especially in matters of faith, to which all Christians must conform, contain the principles and formulas summed up in the term infallibility. I do not give you a long list of quotations from Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine, and the other Fathers; nor of various early documents issued by the Popes themselves. All I do say is that, as men got clearer and clearer notions of the teaching authority of the whole Church and of the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome, so they secured clearer notions of the infallibility of the Pope. In 433 A. D., we find Pope Sixtus III. declaring that all know that to assent to his decision is to assent to St. Peter who lives in his successors, and whose faith fails not. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 A. D., on receiving the dogmatic letters of Pope Leo the Great, said, "Peter has spoken by Leo." In the year 1270, 600 years before the definition of the doctrine by the Vatican Council, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote as follows: "Renewed statements of doctrine are necessary to avoid new errors. Therefore, he has authority to issue definitions of faith who has authority to determine what is of faith, and to be held by all who profess the faith. But this belongs to the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, to whom matters more difficult and of more serious moment are referred. Therefore, our Lord said to Peter, whom He constituted Supreme Pontiff: "I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not." In 1870, the Vatican Council officially defined this infallibility of the Pope, thus making explicit what had been contained implicitly in Christian revelation from the beginning.

388. Why was the infallibility of the Pope defined only in 1870? Did the Popes before then know that they were infallible?

Before the definition of infallibility in 1870, the Popes did not know that they were infallible with the same full certainty of faith as that possessed by later Popes. But they were infallible in fact. The gift of papal infallibility was essential to the Church, not the definition of the gift. You wonder why it was defined only in 1870. But definitions are not given unnecessarily. If no discussion arises on a given point, and no one disputes it, there is no need of a definition. But in the seventeenth century the question of the Pope's doctrinal authority came more and more to the front, until in 1870, the Vatican Council was asked to settle the question once and for all. The time had come for the Church to know herself fully on this point, so she looked herself in the face, and defined this particular aspect of her teaching authority. If you ask why such a definition only after nearly 2,000 years, I ask why is a man fully developed only after some thirty years? The vitality of the Church supposes growth ever retaining stability of type. And remember that the Catholic Church is very young yet. A thousand years are as a day to her; and she will last till the end of the world.

389. Did the Church in 1870 take new stock of herself?

The Church must ever be taking new stock of herself, even to the extent of discovering new things about herself concerning which she was not so clear before. But notice that this acquiring of new knowledge concerning herself does not imply a denial of anything already known.

390. In other words, was the definition of infallibility revisional in its effects?

That question cannot be called an alternative rendering of your previous question. For the Church can take new stock of herself without repudiating former estimates. Treating this, therefore, as a separate question, I reply definitely that the definition of infallibility was not revisional in its effects. The Church defined in 1870 that the Pope is infallible when he solemnly decides matters of faith or moral teaching, speaking in virtue of his supreme office and intending to declare an article of faith binding upon all the faithful throughout the world. That definition did away with no previous definition to the contrary. If some individual Catholics thought, prior to 1870, that the Pope was not infallible under these conditions, then they, of course, had to revise their opinions after 1870. But their opinions prior to 1870 did not reflect the official teaching of the Church.

391. Before 1870 would it be difficult to distinguish ex cathedra pronouncements from others less distinguished?

No. That is evident from the fact that from the earliest ages the Church has defined the truth against heretics, all Catholics acknowledging the definitions given by the various Councils once the Pope had authorized them ex Cathedra in his official capacity as head of the Church.

392. Does infallibility belong to the Pope only?

Infallibility belongs to the teaching Church, and, therefore, to all Catholic bishops throughout the world, taken as a collective episcopate. The Catholic bishops, of whom the Pope is one, of course, have infallibility in their collective unity. But, as the Pope is the supreme bishop in the Church, this unity is procured by and derived from him. A council of bishops not confirmed by the Pope would lack infallibility. The Pope without a general Council of bishops enjoys infallibility; a Council of bishops without the Pope does not. In other words, the body of bishops, when in union with the Pope, has a confirmed infallibility. But the Pope alone has the infallibility which confirms. This is the logical application of our Lord's words to St. Peter, "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not, and do thou confirm thy brethren."

393. Is it not true that before the Vatican Council, the doctrine of papal infallibility was strongly maintained by one party in the Church, tolerated by another, and utterly rejected by a third?

It is true that a division of opinion existed; and that is precisely why it was deemed advisable to settle the problem. Over 400 bishops had presented a petition in the Vatican Council that the matter should be settled once and for all. The vote at the Council was overwhelmingly in favor of defining the question. And accordingly the definition was given on July 18th, 1870, giving us, not a new doctrine, but a new statement in definite terms of the teaching contained in the original revelation of Christ.

394. Did not many prelates and theologians of the Roman Church express opposition to the decree?

It is quite normal that there should have been a division of opinion on the subject prior to the definition. It is precisely when men are divided on the question as to whether some major doctrine is part of divine revelation or not that a definition is necessary. At the Vatican Council, therefore, those who were for the definition, and those who were against it, were given freedom to express their views.


395. Historians tell us that the most unseemly brawling took place at the Council,

The Council was not characterized by unseemly brawling. The greatest possible freedom of discussion was granted, and on a question of such magnitude and importance, it would be surprising if opinions were not strong, and voiced with earnestness and even tenacity.

396. Newman, apparently, was altogether against the decree.

He declared that he personally believed the Pope to be infallible, but that he did not think it opportune to define the doctrine at that particular time. He was quite at liberty to be of that opinion. When the definition was given, he accepted it without hesitation.

397. Most of the Irish bishops were against it.

They enjoyed the same freedom as Newman and all the others prior to the definition. The opinions held by those opposed to the definition did not constitute an infallible indication that the definition was wrong.

398. In the Council at first the opposition represented one-fourth of the total attendance, and a great many withdrew by way of protest.

Against 430 bishops, about 100 bishops, chiefly from France, Austria, and Germany, said that they disapproved of the definition being given. When they saw that the overwhelming majority was against them, 44 of these 100 bishops at once accepted the inevitable. Fifty-six said that they personally disapproved of the definition being given then, but that they would faithfully and with true devotion to the Church accept the definition if indeed it were pronounced. Meantime, they withdrew from Rome quietly and privately, leaving a written declaration that they did not do so by way of protest against the decree, but simply because they did not wish to appear lacking in reverence towards the Pope by expressing in his presence their belief that the contemplated action was inopportune. Two bishops from amongst the inopportunists who remained did express their disapproval personally of the proposed definition; but the moment it was given, accepted at once, acknowledging the teaching authority of the Church, just as the 56 had guaranteed to do who had withdrawn.

399. Although in the end all the bishops gave their adhesion, still there was a strong body of influential men in Europe who refused consent despite the yielding of the recalcitrant bishops.

The term "recalcitrant bishops" is not justified. A man is recalcitrant when he refuses to do what he is obliged to do. Prior to the definition, any bishop was quite free to express his reluctance to have the matter defined. After the definition, he was not free to refuse his assent. If he refused then, he would indeed be recalcitrant. But no bishop refused. It is true that some influential men - not a strong body of them - did refuse consent. These could truly be called recalcitrant Catholics; and they found themselves outside the Church as heretics.

400. Amongst these was the famous Professor Dollinger, who protested against the definition as "a Christian, an historian, a theologian, and a citizen."

His capacity as a citizen, of course, had no bearing on the subject, so we can eliminate that. As a Christian, historian, and theologian he was quite free to express his adverse opinion before the definition. But afterwards, his duty as a Christian, historian, and theologian, was to accept the verdict of the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. He had not the humility to do so, and his pride in his own proficiency led him into the obstinacy of heresy.

401. For this he was excommunicated.

That is true. I would expect to be excommunicated if I rejected it also. You see, once a doctrine has been defined by the Church as a dogma, no Catholic can deny it without being guilty of heresy. A man who denies a dogma of the Catholic Church renounces his belief in that Church, and cannot still belong to it. The Catholic Church was sent by Christ to teach all nations. If, in the course of her duty, she teaches us solemnly and with her supreme authority that this doctrine is undoubtedly part of the teaching given by Christ, then any man who rejects her teaching denies her essential authority, and a truth revealed by Christ. Dollinger had no excuse for refusing to follow the example of others by accepting the definition. Nor does his denial prove the doctrine wrong. The definition of the dogma absolutely proves that Dr. Dollinger was wrong.

402. In September, 1871, Dr. Dollinger's followers held a Congress, and formed the "Old Catholic" Church for those who could not conscientiously accept the definition of papal infallibility.

Those who refused to accept the dogma were no longer Catholics. Though they called themselves the "Old Catholics," they were in reality the "New Protestants." It is to be remarked that Dr. Dollinger himself protested strongly against the new organization his admirers desired to establish. He declared that he would have nothing to do with the formation of a new schism. At the very Congress of September, 1871, he protested against the motion that an independent Church opposed to Rome should be formed. The attitude of these "Old Catholics" was a constant source of irritation to him. When he heard, in 1878, that they had abolished the celibacy of their clergy, he despaired altogether of their future. On Oct. 12th, 1887, he wrote, "I have no wish to be a member of a schismatic Church. I am alone." But the defection of Dr. Dollinger and of his adherents has not affected the Catholic Church. The "Old Catholics," few at any time, are disintegrating. The Catholic Church is more solid than ever, and her 400 million of adherents have no doubts whatever on the subject. We all believe in the infallibility of the Pope as firmly as we believe in the Incarnation of the Eternal Son of God. The doctrine is a dogma of our faith.

403. If the Popes were always infallible, how does Pope Liberius measure up to the doctrine?

In every necessary way. In their efforts to refute the Catholic doctrine, enemies of the Church have ransacked history in the hope of finding a Pope who has taught heretical ideas. They thought they had found such a Pope in Liberius, urging that he subscribed to the Arian heresy condemned by the Council of Nicea in 325 A. D. But let us take the facts. Liberius became Pope in the year 352. From the outset he fought against the continued efforts of the Arians to corrupt the faith. The Emperior Constantius, himself an Arian, seized Pope Liberius by force and exiled him to Berea, in Thrace. It is said that, to escape this exile, and induced by fraud and threats, Pope Liberius signed a formula drawn up by the Arians. But historical research has shown that it is doubtful whether he signed the document at all. If he did sign, he was not a sufficiently free agent for a lawful exercise of his duty. And in any case, the document he is supposed to have signed was not directly heretical, but ambiguous, admitting of an orthodox as well as a heterodox interpretation according to the viewpoint taken by the reader. St. Athanasius and St. Hilary, who thought he did sign, insist that no charge of heresy could be made against Liberius, on the score that the document was not necessarily heretical. Moreover, the absolute orthodoxy of Liberius is so well known from other sources that it is impossible to say that he ever entertained heretical Arian views, and so erred in matters of faith. On his return from exile he defended the Nicene decisions against Arianism, and remained a most uncompromising defender of the orthodox doctrine until his death in 366 A. D. To all this you can add one point. Even if Liberius signed the document, and even if that document were heretical, and even if Liberius personally held and believed heretical doctrine, no argument even then could be drawn from the case against the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility. For the Catholic Church has never defined that the Popes are always infallible in all that they personally believe. The Catholic Church declares that the Pope is infallible when he gives an official definition of doctrine concerning faith or morals, it being required that he acts freely, that he declares himself to be acting in his capacity as head of the whole Church, and that he intends his definition to be binding upon all the faithful throughout the world. Not one of these last requirements was verified in the case of Liberius, and whatever view one takes of the case historically, it is invalid as a test of infallibility.

404. How does Pope Honorius measure up to infallibility?

Nothing that Pope Honorius ever said or did in his life conflicts in any way with the Catholic doctrine of infallibility. He has been accused of having taught the Monothelite heresy in two letters to Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople. Sergius favored the Monothelite heresy, or the doctrine that there was only one will in Christ, not two wills, the one Divine, and the other human. He wrote a very deceptive letter to Pope Honorius begging him not to condemn the doctrine, since such a condemnation would greatly disturb the peace of the Church. Honorius wrote to Sergius, praising him for his good intentions, and sanctioning his explanations, though interpreting them in a perfectly orthodox way which Sergius did not accept for a moment. But Sergius had got all he wanted, staving off papal condemnation. If there is one thing clear, it is that Honorius neither taught heresy in either of his letters to Sergius (nor anywhere else), and that he gave no dogmatic definition on the subject. This case, also, therefore, is beside the point where infallibility is concerned.

405. Honorius was condemned as a heretic by subsequent Councils, a condemnation ratified by Pope Leo II.

After the death of Honorius in 638 A. D. the Monothelites continued their heretical teachings, and in 680, the Sixth General Council was convoked to deal with them. The assembled bishops condemned the heresy together with Sergius and his supporters, including the name of Pope Honorius with them. They sent their decisions to Pope Agathon saying, "We leave it to you to decide what is to be done in your capacity as Bishop of the First See in the Universal Church." But Pope Agathon died before he could ratify the decrees, and was succeeded by Pope Leo II. Pope Leo approved and ratified the decisions. Later, writing to the bishops in Spain, he said that he had no intention of condemning Honorius for any heretical teaching, but because he was negligent in dealing with the Monothelites, fostering their heresy by his very inactivity. Even when he saw that the bishops of the Council had condemned Honorius for supporting the teachings of Sergius, Pope Leo II corrected their decree by saying that he unbecomingly permitted them to flourish. Far from being condemned as a heretic, then, Pope Honorius was condemned for not using his supreme and infallible authority to settle the dispute.

406. Why was the anathema repeated till 1590, and then dropped?

The statement that the Sixth General Council had condemned the Monothelite heresy together with Sergius, Cyrus, Honorius, Pyrrhus, and others who supported it, used to appear in the ancient Roman Breviaries. No one paid much attention to it until the sixteenth century, when a new impetus was given to historical research. The discovery of the special qualifications Pope Leo II. had made when approving the decisions of the Sixth General Council made it clear that the name of Honorius was unjustly bracketed with that of Sergius, and those of the others; and his name was rightly deleted in future editions of the Breviary.



407. Is papal infallibility still possible?

It is a fact. But here once more I must point out that, even if Pope Honorius had been guilty of heresy in his writings (as he was not) papal infallibility would not be affected. For he was not pronouncing an official definition in virtue of his supreme office in the Church and with the intention of obliging the whole Church to accept his teaching under pain of heresy. But where these historical cases are concerned, surely you do not think that the bishops of the world assembled at the Vatican Council would be so foolish as to define the doctrine without deeply considering the facts of history? You can be quite sure that they knew all the facts about Pope Honorius, even as they knew that those facts were available to the world. Do you think that they would have defined infallibility, knowing that hostile critics had only to quote Honorius to prove them utterly wrong?

408. Pope John XXII. declared that the doctrine of the poverty of Christ was heretical. But his predecessor, Nicholas III had declared that the doctrine of the poverty of Christ was the true doctrine, and that to deny it was heresy. Therefore, if one Pope was infallible, the other was not.

Another "therefore" suggests itself: and that is that you have not correctly grasped the facts. Surely you should suspect that Pope John XXII. was quite aware of the decision given by Nicholas III and would never have dreamed of defining the exact opposite! As a matter of fact, Pope John XXII. was not even dealing with the same subject as Pope Nicholas III. The question submitted to Pope John XXII. was this: Was the poverty of Christ so absolute that He retained no personal possessions whatever? The Pope replied: No; for it would be quite against Scripture and heretical to maintain such poverty in Christ. But now, what was the question submitted to Pope Nicholas III.? It was this: Is it in keeping with the ideals of poverty taught by Christ that members of Religious Orders should vow absolute poverty and possess nothing? This Pope said: Yes; and to deny that would be heretical. Pope John XXII., therefore, said that it would be heretical to assert the absolute personal poverty of Christ. Pope Nicholas III. said that it would be heretical to assert that members of Religious Orders may not vow absolute poverty, despite the fact that Christ Himself did not personally practice such absolute poverty. There is no trace of contradiction between those two definitions.

Unity of the Church

409. In speaking of infallibility, you said that it was necessary to the unity of the Church. But is unity necessary to the Church?

Yes. Christ predicted that His Church would be characterized by unity. The Catholic Church is one throughout the world under the one supreme head on earth, the Pope as successor of St. Peter. Our Lord said, "There shall be one fold, and one shepherd." That prediction is verified in the Catholic Church." She is one in teaching, worship, and authority wherever she may extend her activities.

410. In the very first century there were two factions known as the Peterites and the Paulites.

That cannot rightly be said. There was a natural tendency amongst some of the first Christians to manifest an exaggerated loyalty towards particular Apostles and teachers; and St. Paul himself corrected this tendency from the very beginning. Thus he wrote to the Corinthians, "One saith, I indeed am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollo. But what is Apollo, and what is Paul? The ministers of Him whom you have received ... I have planted, Apollo watered, but God gave the increase . . . Let no man therefore glory in men. Whether it be Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas ... all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." 1 Cor. 4-6, 22-23. Thus St. Paul forbade from the very beginning any development of two distinct and rival Pauline and Petrine factions. St. Peter also excludes any possibility of a rival Pauline faction, urging Christians of the first century to be diligent in the sanctifying of their lives, and adding, "As our dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you." 2 Pet. III., 15.

411. Scholars admit that in early Rome there were two sections amongst the Christians, a Jewish section adhering to Peter, and a Gentile section adhering to Paul.

That is a probability. But these sections were not rival factions. For example, one section of the Catholic Church consists of Catholics in Southwark diocese in London under Archbishop Amigo; another section in Westminster diocese under Cardinal Hinsley. But these sections in the same city are not rival factions. It is certain that both St. Peter and St. Paul labored in Rome, and that both enjoyed Apostolic jurisdiction. Each would retain the particular loyalty of his own converts, Gentiles predominating among the converts of St. Paul, and Jews among those of St. Peter. But in no way can this be construed as evidence for rival factions of "Peterites" and "Paulites."

412. History says that the two factions were united under the gentle and orthodox Clement.

St. Peter and St. Paul were not less orthodox, nor less gentle for that matter, than St. Clement. And all were quite united in the one Church. Under Clement it was not so much the union of two sections as the union of the two jurisdictions in the one man Clement, which both sections automatically accepted, as they would not have done had they not been united in the one faith.

413. For a confused term, much longer than the then expectancy of human life, the Church, however much it did owe, certainly did not owe allegiance to a single Pope. How, then, can any subsequent endorsement of a particular line prove an unbroken descent?

I could be content with asking you simply to what period of the history of the Church you refer. However, as the longest period during which there was confusion as to which of three claimants was the true Pope, occurred at the time of the Great Western Schism, I will deal with that case. Although there were three rival claimants to the office of Pope at that time, each with his own following, it is clear that, as a matter of fact, Catholics were not subject to one single Pope. But, as a matter of law, they were. And that makes all the difference. No Catholic said that there ought to be three Popes. All admitted that there should be only one, and that only one of the three could be the lawful Pope. There was, then a lawful Pope, however confused people may have been as to which one was the lawful Pope. The office for which the claimants were contending was the office of St. Peter. And it was to this office that the authority of St. Peter was annexed. In the civil order, no one will admit that the authority attached to the throne in some given kingdom is lost because some pretender wins the allegiance of a certain number of subjects. And when the pretender dies, or renounces his claim, and the subjects revert to a single king whom all acknowledge as lawful ruler, no one holds that his authority is due to the return of the subjects who were deceived. The authority all along was inherent in his office. So the authority annexed to the office of the Pope persisted continuously and in unbroken descent from St. Peter. Subsequent endorsement of that authority by parties who had been led astray did not confer that authority, but merely acknowledged it as possessed by one particular Pope to the exclusion of all pretenders.

Holiness of the Church

414. The Catholic religion may be all right in itself; but I could not join it, because it is not carried out as Christ intended.

If you believe the Catholic religion to be right, the infidelity of some who profess it does not justify your infidelity in refusing to join it and live up to it.

415. Most believing Catholics seem to me as worldly as anyone else.

Were your judgment right, the question of the truth of the Church would not be affected. A right belief does not necessarily mean right behavior in all who possess it. Nor does wrong behavior necessarily mean a wrong belief. If a Catholic did wrong, and the Catholic Church told him that it was right, there would be a case for consideration. But the Catholic Church will never say that what is wrong is right. For the rest, things are not always as they seem; and most Catholics are not so worldly in outlook as you imagine.

416. We have the right to demand fruits. "By their fruits ye shall know them."

You have not the right to demand the fruit of holiness in every single member of the Catholic Church. For, as I have said, such fruit depends on the free cooperation of each soul with the grace of God. But whilst each has the power to check the influence of grace, the Catholic Church herself is holy and sanctifying. However, whilst you have not the right to demand holiness in every Catholic, holiness will, as a matter of fact, be manifest in a large number of Catholics. Not all men are evil and negligent. There will always be great souls of genuine good will; and these will exhibit visible fruits of holiness as a result of living up to their faith. The Catholic Church has always had Saints. In fact, all the great Saints of history have belonged to her, and have never dreamed of leaving her.

417. There was only one Christian, and He was crucified.

If you believe that, it is your duty to be the other. Instead of that, so long as you refuse to fulfill your own obligations, you take your place amongst the crucifiers.

418. Why do you pretend that everything is well with the Catholic Church?

Because everything is well with the Catholic Church. But I do not say that everything is well with all the members of the Church. Repeatedly I have quoted our Lord's words that His Church is like a net holding good and bad fish. It is wrong to have eyes only for the bad fish, and to make that an excuse for remaining a bad fish oneself. It is necessary to see the good fish as well as the bad fish, and to insist on the necessity of turning the bad fish into good ones.

419. You talk about an ideal spiritual Church as it should be. But I face the actual Church as she really is.

You wrongly interpret both my attitude and your own. It is I who sees the actual Church in the world, with all her beauty and all her defects. You see only defects, and concentrate on those as if there were no other aspects to be considered. There is a human element in the Church, and that human element is ever liable to fail. But there is also a Divine element which can never fail. But whilst admitting the human element, I do not intend to admit every single charge evil people choose to make against the members of the Church. There are types of people who cannot see any good in Catholicism. They see any amount of evil where there is none; or if they do see some, they persuade themselves that all are evil, and that no good exists in the Catholic Church.

420. It is a pity that the Catholic Church does not retain only those possessing quality, and not concentrate on quantity as at present.

The Catholic Church has the identical mission of Christ who said, "I come to call, not the just who need not repentance, but sinners." Also He said that He came to save that which was lost. How could the Church cry, "Come to me, all ye holy people of good quality-no sinners need apply?" Then, too, the Church was sent to teach all nations, seeking as many souls as possible. There is a touch of hardness and pride in your very question. Hardness upon the frailties of others almost to the point of denying to them the mercy of Christ is foreign to the spirit of Christ. And it is pride that suggests the notion that you would perhaps become a Catholic if only she would concentrate on souls of quality. Is it that you are a soul of quality? That mere thought could be an obstacle to your salvation. Our Lord knew this, and He insisted upon humility as being absolutely fundamental. He was vehement about it. "Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." "He that will be the greatest, let him be as the least." He condemned the proud Pharisee and praised the Publican who was a sinner.  I am sure you will not mind my recommending to you the humility and gentle charity Christ so insisted upon.

421. I always judge an organization, religious or otherwise, by the people who belong to it.

That is unreasonable. For, firstly, unless you meet every single person who belongs to some given Church, you will be judging all by some. In the second place, if you did meet some bad Catholic, he would not be living up to his belief; and the fault would be in himself, not in the Church whose teachings he neglected. Thirdly, we are forbidden to judge people, and, therefore, to base further judgments on our judgement of them. "Judge not, and you shall not be judged" is the law. And again, "Charity thinketh no evil." We must abstract from the faults of individuals, and study a religion in itself and on its own merits. In other words, we take the official teachings of a religion and ask, "Would these teachings of their very nature tend to make one who observed them good or bad?"

422. I see nothing in Roman Catholics that I would care to emulate.

Have you ever looked for anything in them that you would care to emulate? In every one of your fellow men you will find good and bad, virtues and faults. But people usually see only what they want to see. Sympathies and antipathies have an extraordinary effect upon one's judgment. We easily blind ourselves to faults in those we happen to like, whilst we refuse to understand those whom we dislike, putting an evil construction upon all that they do. Now you intensely dislike the Catholic Church. You do not know why, but you do. And that dislike affects your outlook upon all who profess the Catholic religion. I do not say that all Catholics are without their faults. But I do say that a good deal of your trouble finds its source within yourself.

423. History cannot lie. And history tells us that certain Popes were immoral, had illegitimate children, and honored them with titles and property as bribes for silence.

Genuine history does not lie. But those who claim the name of historians certainly can falsify their accounts; and they have often done so. It is true, however, that a few Popes have been unworthy of their office, had illegitimate children, and endowed them with titles and property. But there was no question of bribing them to secrecy. Secrecy was not necessary in the ages when these things occurred. Public opinion was at so low a stage that moral laxity was condoned in an extraordinary way. Illegitimate children were not held in less honor than legitimate offspring. The Popes who provided for their children did so through paternal interest, not in order to secure secrecy. The matter was public knowledge. The evils, of course, have been magnified by legend, idle gossip, and calumny; but the historical foundation for charges against these Popes exists. And these internal disorders in the Church were far more dangerous to her welfare than any external forces. But, under the protection of Christ, the Church survived, and has been purified of such abuses in the Papacy.



424. I am surprised that you did not deny the charge, and try to convince me that I was wrong.

Defense of the Church does not demand a denial for everything we do not like. The Church has nothing whatever to fear from the simple truth. If a thing is historical, it is historical. We must, of course, sift what is legendary from what is said to be history. But once a thing is proved to be history, it must be admitted. It does not follow, however, that every interpretation based upon it is necessarily true. I have no desire to convince you that any facts are not facts. But I do say that you would be wrong if you regarded the disgraceful conduct of any individual Pope in his personal life as an argument against the truth of the Catholic Church. Meantime, if you turn your attention to those good Popes who have been canonized by the Catholic Church as Saints, and who really did exhibit an example of all that the Church expects a Pope to be, you will find that there is nothing whatever wrong with the Catholic ideal.

425. You still insist that bad Popes are no argument against the truth of the Catholic Church?

I do. They afford a condemnation, not of the Catholic Church, but of themselves. A criminal who breaks the laws of his country does not brand his country as a land whose legislation makes criminals. If he had observed the laws he would have been a good citizen. In the same way, if a man breaks the laws of God, that is no argument against God. Then why should a man who breaks the laws of the Catholic Church be an argument against the Catholic Church? It is not just, of course, to continue pointing to a small minority of bad Popes, whilst ignoring the majority of good ones. But as regards their official duties the personal wickedness even of bad Popes will not necessarily make them bad administrators. Just as a judge could be guilty of much evil in his personal life, yet give excellent decisions in his official capacity, so a bad Pope in his private life could quite well fulfill his public duties well.

426. They could not but do harm to the Church.

Christ promised to be with His Church all days, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Those forces of evil can be external or internal; that is, there can be persecution of the Church by open enemies, or internal evils by the sinful lives of its very officials. It was in virtue of Christ's promise that not even the personal wickedness of an Alexander VI. could do any lasting harm to the Catholic Church.

427. It is incredible that you should know the facts, as you seem to do, yet that you do not see their significance!

The Catholic Church is not afraid of facts; nor that any facts will ever afford any valid argument against her historical foundation by Christ and His protection of her as a Church, whatever individuals may or may not do. If it be a fact that an Alexander VI. was a wicked man, the Church says, "Well, then, he was wicked; such conduct was reprehensible; I only hope he repented before he died. If not, he is in hell." As you say, I am quite familiar with all these things, and my faith in the Catholic Church, far from being shaken, is but strengthened. A Church which could survive such internal enemies as Alexander VI. has the protection of God. And the teaching of the Catholic Church not only does not bid me imitate the conduct of Alexander VI.; it forbids me absolutely to do so.


428. I have no desire to defend Martin Luther, but why should his evil character be an argument against the Protestant Church, yet bad Popes be no argument against the Catholic Church?

Because bad Popes did not pretend to be the founders of new religions, as did Luther. The one Founder of the Catholic Church remained, and He was undoubtedly holy, for He was Jesus Christ Himself. But the Protestantism founded by Luther is not holy in its founder. Again, no bad Pope ever pretended that his sins were in accordance with the teachings of Christ and of the Catholic Church; nor did any Pope teach officially that the members of the Church were free to behave in such a way. But Luther corrupted the very doctrines of Christ, and gave permission to others to sin. Finally, the Popes who did not live good private lives did possess Apostolic authority for their official legislation in the name of the Church- legislation which in itself was quite all right. But Luther had no Apostolic authority for his heretical and schismatical innovations.

429. Leaving the question of the Popes, do you believe that the clergy of today are as good as the clergy in the early Christian Church?

There were good and bad priests even then. Some of the present-day priests are as good as the best of them then; some are not.

430. Will you agree that there has been a steady downgrade through the centuries?


431. Do you agree that "as you live, so you shall die"?

If one perseveres in a good life, he will die a good death. If one lives an evil life, it is always possible that he will meet with an evil fate in eternity. I say that it is always possible, because allowance must always be made for the mercy of God.

432. Then would it not be fair to assume that hell is filled with priests as trophies of Satan's collection?

No. It would be absurd to assume that men who believe sufficiently in the necessity of salvation to devote their lives to the eternal welfare of their fellow men would be so foolish as not to live in such a way as to secure their own salvation. I oppose that to your wholesale suggestion. I do not deny the possibility that a priest who began well could end badly, forgetting his ideals and disgracing his vocation. But such a case is exceptional, and would not warrant your generalization.

433. Considering all the charges against priests, you cannot pretend that there is nothing in them.

At times there may be something in some particular charge against some particular priest. But all know that a bad priest is the exception. There are bad doctors, judges, and lawyers. But you have not the same prejudice against others who fail to live up to their ideals. There is a certain dishonesty in the attitude of critics towards priests. Men blame them for being what they ought to be, and blame them for not being what they ought to be. If a priest violates his obligations, some Protestants will praise and defend him; others will blame him merely in order to attack all priests, even good ones. But apart from individual cases, when I consider all the charges against priests, I do deny that there is anything in them. Everywhere charges are made according to popular prejudices, and they perpetually change from age to age. It is because they are false that it is necessary to abandon old charges and find new ones. Present prejudices will provoke smiles in future generations, but they will be replaced by others. The chief value of these charges as a weapon against Catholicism is not their truth, but their novelty.

434. Is not the Vatican stored with riches which could be sold and given to the poor?

It is true that the Vatican, besides containing offices for various departments of ecclesiastical administration, does contain great libraries, museums, and art galleries-these in turn containing a wealth of valuable books, manuscripts, sculptures, paintings, and other treasures, historical and artistic. And the Catholic Church has rendered a distinct service to culture and civilization, and consequently to the welfare and progress of the human race by, thus preserving through centuries such masterpieces. She has gathered them and kept them, where otherwise they would have been dispersed and lost. Christ would no more object to the Vatican Library and Museum than He would object to the public libraries of England and the British Museum. Would you argue that, since the state should exist for the welfare of its people, England is not doing her duty so long as she preserves all those treasures in the British Museum and Art Gallery, instead of selling them and scattering them in order to feed the poor? "Not by bread alone does man live," said Christ. Food is not the only thing which contributes to the welfare of humanity. If the Catholic Church suddenly did sell and dissipate her great library and museum and art gallery at the Vatican, losing all these evidences of progressive culture, the charge would at once come that she was as ever the enemy of learning, history, art, and culture, and opposed to the true welfare of man.

435. Meantime the poor in every country cry out for enough to eat!

Were the Vatican to sell all its treasures, and distribute their value to the poor, no appreciable difference of a lasting character would be made to the poor of "every country." After their one meal each, if they got that much, their poverty would still be there-and the Church without its most necessary administrative buildings. And Catholics throughout the world would be called upon to make provision in one generation for headquarters which have grown up gradually with the growth of the Church during 1900 years. What you suggest would be no cure for the poverty of the world. Christ Himself said, "The poor you will always have with you."

436. Christ chose poverty.

And the Pope, too, must be poor in spirit. However vast the Vatican, which has been built during generations and to last for generations, the Pope must live a simple, humble, and Christ-like life within its walls. And he does so. Not for a moment does he regard the Vatican as his own personal property; and he will make no attempt to will it away to people of his choice when he comes to die. When Pope Pius X. died in 1914, he was able to write, "I was born poor; I have lived poor; and I wish to die poor. I ask the Holy See to grant a monthly allowance-not to exceed 300 lire-to my sisters Anna and Mary." He had nothing to leave directly to them himself. One anti-Catholic paper grudgingly admitted, "The sum which Pius X. asked for his sisters is barely sufficient for food and clothing-less than five dollars a week; and even so, is subject to the approval of his successor. He regards all as belonging to the Church, nothing to himself personally."

437. Christ was humble, whilst the Pope sits in majesty and comfort expecting everyone to reverence him.

The humility of Christ did not prevent Him from accepting the tribute of reverence and respect paid Him by the woman who lavished precious ointment upon Him, nor His acceptance of the adoration due to His Divinity and offered by St. Thomas with the words, "My Lord and my God." The Pope is personally a very humble man, and not for a moment does he attribute to himself the reverence and respect the faithful show towards his office as supreme head of the Church. He knows that, were he not Pope, none of it would be his; and that it is a tribute to the authority of Christ vested in the office as such. Would you quarrel with Christ for telling St. John to write to the Bishop of Philadelphia, "Behold I will make them come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee"? You will find that in Rev. III. 9. Meantime, the Pope does not sit in majesty and comfort. His office is majestic, if you wish. But that is not his fault. Would you accuse a lawfully constituted judge of arrogance because, in virtue of his office, he speaks with authority? In person, that judge could be the most unassuming of men. As for comfort, the Pope has the most uncomfortable of positions. I have lived in Rome and I know. I would not be Pope for anything this world could offer me.

438. I was shocked when I recently read in a book a lady traveler's account of her visit to the Vatican and the Pope.

That is merely because you are unfamiliar with the proceedings, and because your outlook does not allow for a ceremonial proper to Catholicism. Unfamiliar things usually astonish us; and if they be not in accordance with our own ideas of what is fitting and proper, they may even jar upon us. Thus an Englishman traveling abroad for the first time is apt to experience a shock when he finds Frenchmen eating frog's legs. Within his limited experience of English ways such a thing is not done. And he probably takes it for granted that, because he does not do it, it ought not to be done. In your own case you must realize that a thing is not necessarily wrong because unfamiliar to you. The meeting with the unfamiliar merely broadens one's education. Nor is a thing necessarily wrong because it does not fit in with our own ideas of what is fitting and proper. We must ask ourselves whether our own ideas be right. In religious matters, if I am a Protestant, I know that my ideas reflect the Protestant outlook. I should not be surprised that things dictated by the Catholic outlook are foreign to me. But before I pass judgment, my duty is to ask myself whether my Protestant outlook can be justified. Only provided I satisfy myself on this point can I condemn Catholic ways on the score that they do not appeal to me.

439. Even the dress she had to wear was prescribed. Why should the Pope mind how one is dressed, so long as it is simple and refined?

There is a regulation dress which ladies are expected to wear when visiting the Pope. It demands a black or dark colored dress of full length, and the wearing of a black lace veil for the covering of the head. The article you send mentions that one woman was turned away because her dress was cut too low at the neck. That was her own fault. On the very invitation cards a sketch is printed indicating the attire to be worn. If she desired the privilege of a Papal audience, she should have had the courtesy to comply with the regulations. You are surprised that the Pope should prescribe the dress to be worn, and suggest that he should be content provided the dress were simple and refined. But ideas of what is simple and refined differ amongst women to an incredible extent; and when women come from every possible nation, things are still more complicated. The only procedure possible is to prescribe a uniform standard of modest attire for such audiences. At least you will appreciate the Pope's anxiety for Christian modesty in the dress of such women as desire to meet him. If he were so evil a being as so many non-Catholics like to believe, he would not be concerned about any traditions of modesty.

440. Also, as I read on, I thought the Pope would not be bothered with so much pomp and ceremony.

Your choice of the word "bothered" is excellent. There is nothing new and entertaining for the Pope in his daily duty of interviews with the thousands who desire audiences throughout the year. Were he not a man of duty, he would not be bothered with the ever-recurring ceremonial routine his office demands. If he forfeits his own leisure to give happiness to thousands of people according to the time-honored ceremonial of the Vatican, there must be something more in it than any merely personal interest on the part of the Pope. For him it must be most irksome at times. I certainly would not like to be Pope. Happily I need not entertain the least fear that the Cardinals will want to elect me.

441. Our Lord was so poor and simple.

Now we arrive at the crux of the whole problem. Our Lord was poor and simple, although so great in virtue of His Divinity. Yet He loved the beauty of His Father's house, the glorious temple at Jerusalem. He loved ceremony. He constantly made use of ceremony in His personal actions. When men rebuked those who met Him with waving palms, and who cast their garments down as a carpet in His way, Christ defended those celebrating His approach, and said that if they did not do so, the very stones would cry out.

Our Lord, then, sanctioned the principle of ceremony as an expression of religion. And the Catholic Church is justified in principle. But, on the principle that nothing is too good for God, the Church says that, if we are going to have ceremony, let it be as dignified and beautiful as possible.

If a Protestant tourist in Rome sees only the pomp and ceremony without perceiving the significance and the spirit of these things, then all might seem vain and empty show. And the average non-Catholic tourist does perceive only the external proceedings, not discerning the significance and the spirit. The significance of the wonderful pageantry is that Christ and His religion constitute the most wonderful thing in the world-greater than all earthly courts and kings and politics in existence. It is all very well to say that Christ humbled Himself. But it is not for us to humble Him. God humbled Himself in becoming man, but it is for man to glorify Him as being God. He that humbleth himself shall be exalted. We exalt Christ our Lord. If we so honor the Pope, it is not for what he is in himself, but for what he is in his office as head of Christ's Church and representative of Christ. The Pope knows this, and takes none of it to himself personally. There is pomp, if you like, but no pomposity. And the Catholic Church, so rich in expression for the glory of God's house, is poor in spirit where the humility of her members is concerned. The more we magnify God, the less we magnify self. The more a man magnifies himself, the less he magnifies God. Remember that it took the magnificent Catholic Church to inspire the simplicity of a St. Francis of Assisi. There may be less pomp, but there is far more pride in Protestantism than in Catholicism. It is Protestantism which is ever speaking of man's independence and self-sufficiency. Yet even Protestants do not really object to ceremony. They protest against the ceremonies of the Catholic Church not because they are ceremonies, but because they are Catholic. They have invented ceremonies of their own, but ceremonies which are merely not so inspiring. If Catholics violate Christian principles, so do Protestants. If Protestants do not, neither do Catholics. And in this latter case, Catholics exhibit a far greater appreciation of the dignity and majesty of God's worship than do all Protestants put together.

442. The bishops at least seem to have a luxurious time whilst their fellow creatures starve.

The luxurious time is a product of your own imagination. Bishops have a very heavy responsibility, great anxieties, and little rest. It is a full-time occupation to be a bishop of the Catholic Church, and few indeed are anxious to attain to episcopal rank. Our Catholic people certainly wish their bishops to live in a state in keeping with the dignity of their office. But that state does not mean personal luxury. Again, you let your imagination run away with you when you say sweepingly that their "fellow creatures starve," as if all men except bishops had nothing to eat. If that were the case, nothing would be gained by the few bishops starving also. That would not feed the multitudes. Those who are too poor to do so are not asked to contribute towards the support of the bishop; and the bishops of the Catholic Church give far more away in charity than you suspect.

443. Every priest has his own personal revenue.

The temporal needs of priests have to be provided for, as well as their future, should sickness or old age compel their retirement. They are entitled to their support. And certainly, if a man devotes his whole life to the welfare of his parishioners, those parishioners between them should share the burden of keeping him alive, and providing for all his lawful needs.

444. Why should they amass thousands of dollars, as one often notices when their wills appear in the press?

Such wills do not often appear. The vast majority of those devoted to the cause of the Church leave so little that the press finds no interest in their wills. For the rest, priests should not amass thousands of dollars accumulated during their work for the cause of religion. And if a few do so, they themselves are to blame for so dishonoring their obligations in this matter.

445. What is your opinion of avarice?

It is a contemptible vice, and one of the most dangerous of sins. Men given up to this vice insult God by practically making a god of the money they possess or hope to get. They are led into many other sins against their fellow men, often violating not only charity but justice also. And they ruin their own characters, which become hard and dry, strangers to generosity, mercy, and remorse. If we take Judas as an example, we see how avarice undermines even fidelity to one's best friends. And that this sin as few others will endanger a man's salvation is evident from our Lord's words, "Woe to you rich"; and, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." That is why Christ advised those who do possess wealth to use it in charity towards the poor for the sake of their own very salvation. Thus you have my opinion of avarice. But it is another question altogether as to who are or who are not avaricious. Of that I am not the judge.

446. Why should priests have big rectories?

Rectories are built in proportion to the needs of the respective parishes. And priests don't have them. Apart from the fact that many rectories are small, even the larger rectories in big city parishes do not belong to the priests. They are parochial property. If the priest is removed elsewhere, he cannot sell the buildings to whom he pleases. If he dies, he cannot will them away. Priests come and go, but the parochial buildings remain. Both buildings and priests are the provision made by the parishioners for their own religious needs.

447. It is the poor working man who has to pay for these huge rectories.

Imagination, of course, could make the rectories bigger and bigger, and the working men poorer and poorer. Not all rectories are large. In densely populated parishes, where several priests are required, they are larger than in small parishes where but one priest suffices. But in the densely populated parishes, the expense is more widely distributed. Nor are "poor working people" the only people in the world. Not all the parishioners are working men, nor are all working men poor. Those of the parishioners who are "poor working men" may or may not contribute their modest offerings towards parochial buildings; but that does not mean that they pay for them. The debt is distributed, and falls proportionately on all classes. And those who give, do not mind giving. They are happy to do what they can for their religion.


448. Priests have no care for any save the rich, however evil they may be.

There are multitudes of the poor who will deny that on my behalf. But if you regard the rich as evil and in danger of eternal damnation, you ought to blame the priest if he neglected to do his utmost for such unfortunate people. If you say that the rich support the priest well, I can but say that that is news to me. But even were it true, you should be glad that the priest who serves both rich and poor should be supported mainly by the rich.

449. Why do priests take so little interest in the common people?

I deny the distinction between the rich and poor as if money means nobility, and poverty creates the common herd. But if you love the poor, why do you do so? You will say that you have a heart. But have not priests hearts as well as you? And are they not children of the people as well as you? And does not religion give them a greater obligation to love the people than you possess? Priests do not stifle their natural sympathies. They fulfill their religious obligations towards the poor.

450. I am a Wesleyan, but I realize the hollowness of preachings which are not practiced by the teachers thereof.

You allot the blame in the wrong place, and it is a mistake. If some given preacher does not practice what he preaches, you should conclude, not to the hollowness of what is taught, but to the hollowness of the individual who is teaching it. For example, Christ certainly practiced what He taught. And if some man preaches exactly what Christ taught, he is preaching a good doctrine however badly he personally behaves. His bad behavior makes him bad, but it does not make the doctrine of Christ bad. If that doctrine was good when preached by Jesus Himself, it is still good, no matter by whom it is preached.

451. You insist, on that principle, that the Catholic Church should not bear the odium connected with individuals who err.

I say that it is no argument against the truth of the Catholic religion that Catholics, and even officials at times, have failed to observe its precepts. Judas was no argument against the truth preached by the Apostles.

452. I cannot accept the analogy of Judas. He did not continue preaching, and his fellow Apostles did not condone his act.

Your last two points do not affect the value of the analogy. The whole point of the analogy lies in the fact that the bad behavior of Judas was a violation of the teachings of Christ, and, therefore, no indication that those teachings were evil. Had Judas gone on preaching Christ's doctrine, that would have been no argument against Christ's doctrine. Truth is not less truth because preached by a bad man who makes no effort to live up to it. Nor would it be an argument against Christ's doctrine had the other Apostles condoned the treachery of Judas in betraying Christ. For Christ's doctrine would not have bidden them to sanction evil. It would be they who would also have failed to be true to the principles of Christ. So, too, the Catholic religion is true. Nothing in its teachings can be used to sanction evil. If those professing the Catholic religion do wrong, they are to be blamed.

453. If the Church is not to share the odium, why were not erring individuals disciplined by higher authorities? And above all in the middle ages, when the Church had full power.

In the middle ages means of communication were not nearly so advanced as nowadays. Many abuses remained undenounced to Rome. On the other hand, when abuses were denounced, many of the individuals were disciplined. If abuses were known and higher officials took no notice, it was either because those higher officials wished to avoid still greater evils which their interference would provoke, or because they too were guilty of a neglect of duty. But whatever the possibilities, the blame must rest with unfaithful officials of the Church, not with the religion they served so badly.

454. I have followed your discussion of the holiness of the Church with great interest; and I would like to ask you some personal questions.

I will be only too happy to express my own mind on the subject.

455. When you joined the Roman Church you knew nothing of the scandals in her history. Catholicism was put before you in its brightest colors, and only the highest spiritual ideals.

The priest who instructed me in the Catholic religion instructed me in the Catholic religion. And scandals are not part of the Catholic religion. They are the result of infidelity to its teachings. A priest must explain what the Catholic Church does teach, not what bad Catholics do not do. The bright colors were the true colors; and the high spiritual ideals were the only ones sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

456. Your course of study to become a priest made you familiar with the scandals of history. Considering your idealization of Catholicism, did they not shock you?

They did. The ideals put before me filled me with reverence for all things Catholic; and I too easily took it for granted that what all Catholics ought to be could be taken as a sure indication of what all Catholics were in reality. I overlooked the fact that God will compel no man to be good, and I had not the knowledge of human frailty later experience gave.

457. Do you think all scandals amongst Catholics are a thing of the past; that there are none today; and likely to be none in the future?

I certainly do not think that. There are individual Catholics today giving scandal in various parts of the world; and probably this will always be the case. Christ Himself said: "It must needs be that scandals will come." He knew the lack of good will in men, and their capacity for evil if they neglect vigilance and prayer. But He added: "Nevertheless, woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh." And He very much meant those words, for He knew that, not the Church, but such people themselves would be responsible for their own evil conduct.

458. Did you not know of good and holy Protestant people before you joined Rome?

I did. But their goodness is due to the elements of truth contained in their religion-elements of truth drawn from the Catholic Church, and retained side by side with the errors of the various Protestant reformers. But, instead of the partial truth, the full truth is to be found in the Catholic Church.

459. Did you ever compare these good Protestants with bad Catholics?

No. Nor would it be logical to do so. One can compare the good with the good, or the bad with the bad. But it is wrong to select good Protestants as if there were no bad Protestants; and bad Catholics as if there were no good Catholics. In reality, however, we must take the Catholic system of religion, and the Protestant systems as our terms of comparison, and see which is the better religion in itself. But if you do compare Protestants with Catholics you must do so en masse. And if you do this, you will find at least that irreligion is far more prevalent amongst Protestants than amongst Catholics. It is quite a normal thing for Protestant clergymen to urge the fidelity of Catholics to their religion as an example to Protestants, whose empty churches are a byword.

460. In a word, have you ever felt insincere in advising other people to become Catholics?

Never. I know absolutely that it is for their good, provided they do their best to live up to their new-found faith. Granted generous good will, the convert to the Catholic Church will find himself better, holier, and happier from every possible point of view in the spiritual order. Cardinal Newman wrote, "From the time I became a Catholic, I have been at perfect peace and contentment. It was like coming into port after a rough sea." Robert Hugh Benson, the convert son of the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote, "The Church promises a great deal, but my experience is that she gives ten times more. The Catholic Church is supremely what she promises to be. She is the priceless pearl for which the greatest sacrifice is not too great." Those two quotations express exactly my own frame of mind; and I leave it to you to ponder over them. And at least you will credit me with the determination to give candid replies to all inquirers.

Catholicity of the Church

461. Did Christ say that His Church would bear the name "Catholic" Church?

He said that His Church would differ from the Synagogue chiefly by the fact that it would be for all nations, and not for one chosen nation only. By this He meant that His Church would be universal, a word which is rendered in Greek as Katholicos. The word "Catholic," therefore, rightly describes the Church Christ established. It is the thing that matters, not the mere term used to describe it. Catholicity was declared by Christ to be a main characteristic of His one true Church.

And there is but one Church today truly Catholic, the Church of which the Bishop of Rome is the head in this world.

462. You have no right to say that other Churches do not belong to Christ.

If there are a hundred conflicting Churches, it is certain that if one is right, the others are wrong. Every other Church save the Catholic Church has been commenced by some merely earthly founder in ages subsequent to Christ. Cardinal Newman rightly said, "I became a Catholic because, if the Catholic Church be not the Church of Christ, there never was a Church established by Him." The Catholic Church alone can prove that she is right. And the duty of charity will not permit the Catholic Church to allow non-Catholics to continue in error on so important a matter whilst she just keeps silent about it.

463. On what grounds do you call all other denominations non-Catholic?

On the grounds of Scripture, history, and logic. Scripture tells us that Christ's Church would go to all nations, yet be one fold under one shepherd. Other Churches have separated from the Catholic Church and refused to be under the one shepherd appointed by Christ. Therefore they ceased to belong to the Catholic Church, and became non-Catholics. Historically, of course, those other Churches have not existed as such through all the centuries since Christ. And logically, since Catholic means universal, no Church except the one to which I belong is really supra-national, found as one and the same in all nations, whether France, Italy, Germany, England, America, Ireland, Australia, etc.


464. Then what do Protestants mean when they say the Apostles' Creed, repeating the words, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church?"

There are multitudes of Protestants who neither know the Apostles' Creed, nor say it. Of those who do say it, many have no idea of what they mean when they use the words you quote. Others, realizing at least the meaning of the words, say them uneasily and with quite a sense of guilt. They hurry over them, and dismiss them quickly, as if they should not be there; or, at any rate, as if they should not be saying them. Others, again, say them and mean them, but mean them in a peculiar sense. In order to believe that they do belong to the Holy Catholic Church, they persuade themselves that all the different Christian Churches in the world really constitute one holy Catholic Church. It is all very confusing. I but state the truth when I say that, although many Protestants think they believe in the Holy Catholic Church, they do not do so in reality. And they cannot do so whilst they continue to believe in any form of Protestantism.

465. Let us take it this way. What does the word "Catholic" mean?

It means universal. Applied to the Church it means one and the same Church found everywhere in the world, teaching men of all nations exactly the same religion, and uniting them under one and the same religious authority.

466. What does the word "Roman" mean?

It is the adjective derived from the city of Rome, which is the capital of Italy. But its religious significance lies in the fact that the Pope, who is supreme head of the Catholic Church on earth, happens to be the bishop of that city.

467. Then your Church must be the "Roman Catholic Church."

Such a description is as inappropriate as would be the description of the British Empire as the "London British Empire" because the king lives in London.

468. Then where does Rome come in?

It is simply the locality in which the head of the universal Church resides, The Church must be linked with the center of unity in the Apostolic group-Peter.

And Peter died in Rome, his office being transmitted to his successors in the Bishopric of Rome. To say that the Church is "Roman" is to say that it is the Apostolic Church. Rome stands for concentrated Apostolicity.

469. How do you make that out?

It was by God's providence that the Church transferred her own headquarters to Rome. Rome in the time of the Apostles was for the world what Peter himself was for the Church-the head and center. The Church had to go to the world, and the roads were already prepared for her by the secular power. The Church therefore used the pulsating heart and blood streams of organized society. As in individuals grace cooperates with nature, so the very society established for the diffusion of grace cooperated with the natural social framework of the Roman Empire. And as St. Peter died in Rome, the successive Bishops of Rome necessarily remain the head and center of the Christian Church.


470. I have heard your own people call themselves "Roman Catholics."

The use of the phrase by Catholics is no more than an unthinking concession to prevailing custom in a non-Catholic social environment. But always Catholics have in mind the correct sense of the Catholic Church whose head is the Bishop of Rome. It is from the Protestant viewpoint that the expression is ambiguous, since they wish to imply that there are other kinds of Churches entitled to be called Catholic. This is a ridiculous theory which they do not dream of applying in practice; for if you were to ask any Protestant in the street: "Could you tell me where the Catholic Church is in this district?", he would not dream of directing you to his own Church, or to any Protestant Church. It is owing to this theoretical ambiguity that it is better to describe ourselves simply as Catholics, and avoid the expression "Roman Catholics."

471. Since "Catholic" means universal, it embraces all faiths. You are not interpreting it correctly.

Surely you can see that the Catholic Faith cannot be any or all faiths! Will you include Shintoism, Buddhism, or Mahometanism? Or, if you want to restrict it to professing Christians, can you say that one and the same Catholic Faith denies the necessity of bishops with Congregationalists, and affirms it with Anglicans? Or that it is equally of Catholic Faith that Christ is really present in the Eucharist, and yet really absent? The Catholic Faith must be one and the same Faith universally diffused-as it is in that Catholic Church which alone has a genuine claim to the title.

472. We Protestants are Catholics, but you are Roman Catholics.

You do not say what type of Protestantism you profess. But no single type of Protestantism can possibly be Catholic. The Catholic Faith is one Faith believed universally. The Catholic Church means one world-wide united body. Protestantism as a whole is a conglomerate of conflicting bodies. And no single form of Protestantism is world-wide in any sense of the word. You must face the difficulties of your position. Let us suppose that you are an Anglican. What are you going to do with the Greek Orthodox, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and others? Are they "Catholics"? Or will you call them Greek Catholics, Wesleyan Catholics, Presbyterian Catholics, etc? Are Anglicans alone to be straight-out Catholics? Or are each and all of these conflicting religions Catholic-Roman Catholics alone not being Catholics? Also, turn to history. It is said by Anglicans that the Pope had falsely usurped jurisdiction over the whole Church. England had to leave the Pope, but intended to remain Catholic. But if that were so, on its own principles it should have joined the Greek Church which had already renounced the Pope. Yet it did not. England separated from any kind of union with all other bishops in the world! Again, no Anglican will deny that the Church in England prior to the Reformation was the Catholic Church. If the present Church of England is the same why was the Mass abolished, and a new Prayer Book and Communion Service unheard of till then in Christendom introduced? Edward VI. abolished the Mass; Mary the Catholic restored the Mass; Elizabeth the Protestant abolished the Mass. The Church of England adopted the word Protestant; and the king has to swear that he is a faithful Protestant as opposed to the Catholic religion. James II. could have remained king had he ceased to be a Catholic. He was deposed and William of Orange was brought in to secure the Protestant succession. How can Anglicans turn round now and say that they are Catholics? You yourself now wish to remain a Protestant, yet be a Catholic. We are Roman Catholics. No one in Spain is a Catholic-all there are Spanish Roman Catholics. No one in France is a Catholic. They are French Roman Catholics. The "Catholics" in the United States are not Catholics. They are American Roman Catholics. Pure and undefiled Catholics are to be found only in Anglicanism. If you want to find a genuine Catholic, you must look for him in an English Protestant! No sane man in the world would admit this. But I have said enough. Those only are Catholics who belong to that Catholic Church which is discerned from the fact of its union with the Bishop of Rome.

473. Why should the Italians always have their own Pope?

He is our Pope as much as he is theirs. Nor do the Italians regard the Pope as an Italian. On the occasion of the election of Pope Pius XII. Signor Farinacci wrote an article in his paper, the "Regime Fascista." Farinacci was a violent Fascist, who wrote strongly against Pope Pius XI's condemnation of the Fascist attitude to the Jews and to Catholic Action. Yet he wrote as follows: "We have no candidate to the Papacy, because we are quite sure that if some are found amongst the Cardinals whose opinions are too favorable to democratic ideas, there are others, the great majority, who give their thoughts to nothing but the religious problem, and whose lives are made of Christian charity, without other care or preoccupation. God will not fail to give His faithful, the real Catholics, their Pastor, a real Pope. Will he be Italian? Portuguese? Swiss? It matters nothing to us. To our way of thinking, religion has no frontiers; and 'politics' are our exclusive business. We are making them our exclusive business."

Catholic Attitude Toward Converts

474. Does the Catholic Church, and its members generally, appreciate the introduction of converts even in civilized countries?

They appreciate all converts who come with sincere conviction, and who are determined to live up to their Catholic obligations. No one expects all converts to be saints, of course.  They will have their human faults. But the Church will help them to overcome their faults; and with good will on their part, converts will gradually grow out of those faults. All Catholics, however, who retain a trace of their own faith, will be genuinely happy in the thought that some convert has received the same great gift of the Catholic Faith. People who think of becoming Catholics from any motive other than sincere conviction, and who will not attempt to live up to the requirements of the Catholic religion, are definitely not welcome. They will only give disedification to others, and bring contempt on the Faith which is dearer to all sincere Catholics than anything else in this world.

475. Do Catholics show converts that they are welcome?

Good Catholics do. Even some careless Catholics, who believe in their religion but do not practice it often show converts in a most remarkable- way genuine joy and happiness in the great grace the new comers have received. Some bad Catholics do not manifest any appreciation. A few bad Catholics even go so far as to manifest displeasure, and speak only with discouragement and contempt.

476. How do Catholics show converts that they are welcome?

Not in any extraordinary and demonstrative way; nor by conducting an intensive search for converts in order to fling their arms round their necks and embrace them. Should a Catholic happen to discover that another is a convert, he should treat him exactly as he would treat any other Catholic, making him feel that he is accepted as just as much a Catholic as others who have never been anything else. If the circumstances warrant it, a few words of appreciation and congratulation may be expressed, and some additional signs of kindness and friendship exhibited, in order to make the convert feel quite at home with fellow Catholics.

477. What is the value of conversions to the Catholic Church for the sake of marriage?

A conversion to the Catholic Church merely for the sake of marriage is of very little value, and can even be sinful. If a person were still convinced that the Catholic Church is wrong, yet became a Catholic and embraced what he believed to be a wrong religion, that person would be guilty of a grave violation of conscience before God. Religion is between a man's soul and his God. And no one is justified in embracing this or that religion for any merely human considerations. Yet if a Protestant cannot become a Catholic for the sake of the one he wants to marry, he can at least study the Catholic religion, and receive instructions in that religion for the sake of the one he loves. At the end of his instructions he can become a Catholic if he believes in the Catholic Church; he cannot, if he does not. Sincere conversions to the Catholic Church after instructions undertaken in the first place for the sake of marrying a Catholic are as valuable as any others. God has various ways of bringing souls into contact with the Catholic Church, and many a non-Catholic has blessed God that he ever met his future partner, and far more for the gift of the Faith than for the gift of the partner. Needless to say, I advise very thorough instruction, and a sincere testing of motives. Often when, at the end of their instructions, prospective converts have told me that they are willing to become Catholics, I have swung round on them and said, "That is not enough. You must want to become a Catholic. If the girl broke off the engagement tomorrow, would you still be determined to become a Catholic?" Such questions steady them into a realization of the step they are taking. The Catholic Church is not out to lassoo people and rake them in against their will. People have to beg of her the privilege of becoming members of her fold. And those to whom God's grace has given the sincere and earnest desire to be Catholics make good converts, whatever the occasion which, in His providence, first started them on their way towards the Faith.

Indefectible Apostolicity

478. You Catholics have a strange confidence in the indefectibility of your Church.

It is not so strange for one who perceives all the facts. What would be strange would be the failure of a universal Church in which millions drawn from all nations are united in a doctrine, worship, and discipline of two thousand years' standing- in a Church ever accompanied by a most remarkable spiritual power and fruitfulness in works of charity. Writing in the 12th century, Richard of St. Victor rightly said that a Catholic could say to God at his judgment, "If I was wrong, then O my God You Yourself are responsible. For my religion was accompanied by signs and characteristics which could only come from You." That judgment, written nearly 800 years ago, is valid today.

479. God was with the Jewish religion, but the Jews failed God; could not this happen in the Catholic Church?

The Jewish religion as a religion was quite all right, and so too is the Catholic Church as the Church of Christ. Not all the Jews rejected Christ, even though the majority did. But keep in mind that the Jewish religion as a religion did not fail. It was essentially a preparatory religion, meant of its very nature to merge into its perfect fulfilment when the Messiah should come. Christ was that Messiah, and He rightly said, "I have come, not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it." He gave us the perfect religion which the Jewish religion foreshadowed, and declared that His religion was not a preparation for a further and more perfect revelation, but that it would last, just as He had given it, till the end of the world. It has lasted in the Catholic Church which alone has existed all days since His time and which alone gives signs of perpetuity.

480. Perverse human nature has usually forsaken the way prepared by God.

It is true that perverse individuals have forsaken the ways of God. But if God wants to keep His religion in this world, it is absurd to say that He cannot manage to do so. Even if a man be evil, God can see to it that at least he teaches others the truth. False prophets wishing to curse have been constrained by Him to bless. And in the New Testament we find Christ defending the orthodoxy of the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees even whilst He condemned their personal conduct. In St. Matthew, XXIII., 2-3, Christ says, "The Scribes and Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do; but according to their works, do ye not; for they say and do not."

481. Is it not strange that your indefectible Church should have fallen away to become Babylon and the organ of Satan?

To say that is but to repeat the remnant of a Protestant tradition which was dying in mid-Victorian days, and is dead today amongst all thinking men. I will quote here only the "Cambridge Bible," with introduction and notes by the Rev. W. H. Simcox, M.A., an Anglican scholar. In the Introduction, p. 41, he says that the presumptuous confidence with which controversialists interpreted the Book of Revelations has now produced a reaction. On p. 57 he says, "It is most unjust and unreasonable, in fact hardly less than blasphemy, to treat the Papacy as the champion and representative of Antichrist. In fact the identification of the Papacy with Antichrist admits of direct refutation. 'He is Antichrist,' says St. John, 'who denieth the Father and the Son.' He defines the spirit of Antichrist as the 'spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.' Now, whatever the errors of the Papacy and of the Roman Church, it is certain that no Pope has ever denied the truth of the doctrines of the Trinity and of the Incarnation." That quotation from a Cambridge scholar who obviously has no leanings towards Rome, yet who rejects absolutely charges prompted by ignorance and prejudice should suffice for any thinking man.

482. Protestants are not blind, and must have grounds for their conviction that Rome has failed.

Protestants are rapidly forsaking that conviction. The attack on the Catholic Church is not now that she is false, but that she is not the "only" true Church. As an offset to the Eucharistic Congress in Sydney in 1928 the Rev. Dr. Burgess, a Presbyterian, published a book entitled "The Protestant Faith." In it he disputed the exclusive claims of the Catholic Church. On p. 149 he wrote, "The Church of Rome is not 'the' Catholic Church; it is only a branch of the Catholic Church. In the Creed the expression 'the Holy Catholic Church' is explained by the phrase 'the communion of saints.' " So, for him, the Roman Church is a branch of the communion of saints. He could scarcely admit her to be Antichrist after that! If the Roman branch of the Church be the "Beast," a Protestant saying "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church" would include in his profession of faith, "I believe in the Beast." And that would not do.

483. You refuse to grant that, even though Christ founded your Church, she could fail later on?

No man who believes that Christ founded the Catholic Church, and that Christ is God, could grant what you suggest. Christ promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church. If the Church He founded ever did become the organization of Satan, the forces of evil would have prevailed against her. In that case we would have to say that Christ could neither preserve His Church intact, nor could keep His promise to be with her all days till the end of the world. And that implies a complete denial of His divinity. If Christ could not do what He said He would do, He was not God at all. And if not God, then He was either an imposter or mad. We are forced either to be Catholics or else to give up professing to be Christians altogether. That is, if we are going to be logical. However, Christ did prove His claims to divinity; and the only conclusion that fits in with the facts is the admission that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, possessing the right to teach all nations, and the power to last till the end of time.


484. I have heard Catholics refer to the continued preservation of their Church in this world as a miracle.

One has to be blind not to see that it is a miracle. When we think of the frailty of human nature, the striking establishment of the Catholic Church, her expansion and preservation by such apparently useless means and despite such obstacles, her succession through the ages with such unity and fruitfulness, we see an incomparable argument in favor of her divine mission. No merely human society, under the same conditions, would last for 2000 years, and spread throughout the world with the same results.

485. History reveals natural causes behind every institution in this world; and Rome has not lacked natural geniuses and influence.

Natural causes have certainly contributed towards the welfare of the Catholic Church. But they do not account for the facts we perceive. History notes certain causes, but it cannot explain how the causes are ready to hand at the opportune moment-and always at hand when wanted, always successful in keeping the Church going where other institutions fail, always surviving the work of other causes which would tend to destroy the Church. You must not lose sight of the adverse causes-long and terrible persecutions, heresies, schisms, political opposition, the frailties and crimes of Catholics themselves, even of bishops and priests, barbarian invasions of Christendom, the Protestant Reformation, various revolutions and wars, suppression of Catholic countries, scientific and philosophical propaganda against her. These are only the principal headings. Yet the Catholic Church survives with extraordinary vitality, and the world cannot ignore her. How is it to be explained? You attempt a solution by saying that natural genius and power have been at her disposal. But natural genius and power have been available to other organizations. Why do they die whilst the Catholic Church still lives?

486. The very rigidity of Roman Catholicism accounts for her resistance to the causes of dissolution.

You have to account for the very rigidity and fidelity. But also note this. If the civil state wants to perish, it has only to decide to be rigid and immutable. If it wants to live, it has to be perpetually adjusting itself to changing conditions. Civil society preserves itself by constant yielding to necessity. But the Catholic Church lives inflexibly. She is certainly more than merely natural and human. She is a divine society.

Necessity of Becoming Catholic

487. Will all those in heaven be Catholics only?

Good non-Catholics who, through no fault of their own, have never known the Catholic Church to be the true Church, and who die sincerely repentant of such sins as they have committed will save their souls. But once they leave this life they will see the truth and gladly admit their mistake. They will then realize that the Catholic Church is indeed the true Church. In that sense all in heaven will profess the truth of the Catholic religion, whatever form of religion they mistakenly professed in this life. They will also, as is clear, admit that it would have been far better for them to have known the full truth whilst on earth, and to have had the use of so many more means of grace than they knew. Anyone who does realize the truth of the Catholic Church whilst he is in this life is obliged of course to become a Catholic even now.


488. That still means that non-Catholics are excluded from heaven.

It means that non-Catholics who attain heaven will cease to be non-Catholics once they are there. The Catholic Church teaches that non-Catholics in this world are mistaken in their religious views in so far as they diverge from Catholic teaching. She could not believe herself right without believing other and opposed Churches wrong. But though Protestants are mistaken, it does not follow that they realize this. If their lack of full knowledge be no fault of their own, their sincerity may save them. And in heaven they will see the full truth as they did not see it on earth. But it is surely better to be saved by doing the right thing, than to have to be excused from it on the plea of ignorance.

489. What do you mean by the clause, "If their ignorance be not their own fault"?

I mean that a man forfeits his right to salvation if his ignorance of his obligations be really through guilty neglect on his part. For example, a man might suspect that the Catholic Church is the true Church, yet deliberately put the thought aside and refuse to inquire further into the matter for fear lest he should become convinced of its truth. That man would, to say the least, be running a great risk, for he has not the will to find out God's will, let alone do it, in a serious matter.

490. Read the enclosed statement by Cardinal Manning in 1864.

Speaking in the name of the Pope as supreme head of the Church and the instrument of Christ's authority over men in spiritual things, Cardinal Manning said, "I acknowledge no civil power. I am the subject of no prince. And I claim more than this. I claim to be supreme judge and director of the consciences of men; of the peasants that till the fields, and the prince that sits upon the throne; of the household that lives in the shade of privacy, and the legislator that makes laws for kingdoms. I am the sole, last, and supreme judge of what is right and wrong. Moreover, we declare, affirm, define, and pronounce it to be necessary to salvation to every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." Such are the words you send, and I subscribe to every one of them. They are but the logical application of Christ's decree, "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen." Once one grants that the Catholic Church is the true Church, and that the Pope is the supreme court of appeal in that Church, the conviction embodied in the words you quote at once follows.

491. Do you not contradict that when you say that non-Catholics can get to heaven?

No. Cardinal Manning fully agreed that, if non-Catholics did not perceive an obligation to become Catholics, they would not be condemned for that for which they were not responsible; and that if they die repenting of such sins as they did consciously commit, they would save their souls.

492. How do you account for Proposition 17 in the Syllabus of Errors published by Pope Pius IX.?

In Proposition 17, Pope Pius IX. condemned this doctrine: "At least there is a well-founded hope for the salvation of all those who have never belonged to the true Church." By condemning that proposition the Pope says that there is not a well-founded hope for the salvation of all those who have never been Catholics. But that does not mean that all non-Catholics are necessarily lost, and that none can be saved. The statement condemned' by the Pope practically said, "Anyway, there is no real obligation to join the Catholic Church. One can be saved without that." The Pope replies, "That won't do. We cannot hold out hope of salvation to all who have refused to join the Catholic Church. If a man has never realized the obligation; God may overlook his mistake, and grant him salvation. But if a man has realized the obligation, and willfully refuses to join the Catholic Church, there is certainly no well-founded hope for the salvation of that man."

493. That is merely your interpretation of the mind of Pope Pius IX.

Let me quote his own words from his Encyclical Letter on Indifferentism, Aug. 10th, 1863. "The Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church is well known. Those who obstinately and knowingly reject the authority and definitions of the Church, and persist willfully in remaining separated from the unity of the Church and from the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter to whom the charge of the vineyard was committed by Christ, those cannot be saved." Yet in the same letter he says, "We know that those who are invincibly ignorant of our holy religion, and who are prepared to obey God, earnestly observing the natural moral law engraven in the hearts of all men by God, can be saved by living an honest and just life with the help of divine light and grace. For God, who clearly discerns the minds and souls, thoughts and habits of all men, will not, in His goodness and mercy, permit anyone to be punished eternally who is not guilty of voluntary sin." The Pope himself, therefore, clearly distinguishes between those who knowingly and willfully refuse to join the Catholic Church, and those who do not do so merely because they are not aware of the obligation to do so. And he admits that these latter can be saved.

494. Anyway, I regard myself as a Christian, and find all I want in the Gospels.

Only for the Catholic Church you would not have the Gospels; and without the Catholic Church you cannot prove that they ought to be accepted as divinely inspired. The Gospels were written after the Church had commenced preaching the truth; and before they were written, Christians got along well enough without them. Jesus Himself commanded no Gospels to be written. He established the Catholic Church and sent that Church to teach all nations. Later on, the Church had the Gospels written, to preserve a record of our Lord's life and teachings. And they belong to her. Those who left the Catholic Church took the Gospels with them, and claimed the "family documents" as their own. And they have made those Gospels mean just what they have wanted them to mean, opposing them to the very Church from which they took them!

495. Christianity is simplicity itself. Ella Wheeler Wilcox rightly says: "So many gods; so many creeds; so many paths that wind and wind. Whilst just the art of being kind is all the sad world needs."

That is certainly not Christianity. If just the art of being kind is all the sad world needs, there is no need of Christ at all. Men would be their own saviors. The world would, of course, be happier if people were kinder to one another. But human kindness is not the be-all and end-all of Christianity. The Christian religion cannot be defined as a mere relationship between man and man. First and foremost, it is a relationship between man and God, implying faith in the complete teaching given by God, and obedience to the Church established by God. One effect of the Christian religion is that, for the love of God, we shall be kind to our fellow men. But to mistake the effect for the Christian religion itself is inexcusable in one who professes to know what Christianity is.

496. I don't believe one can be spiritually saved from outside oneself by any Church.

That the Catholic Church saves her members does not mean that they are saved from without. Society is never outside its members. They are the constituent elements of the society they form. Then, too, the Holy Spirit who works in the Church is the same Author of the work in individual souls. What the Catholic Church says to our ears, God says to our hearts by the Spirit of Truth and of Love. It is the same wind which fills the sails of the great ship, the Bark of Peter, and provides for the breathing of the passengers.

497. Religion is an individual matter. No organization can come between the soul and God.

Religion is not an individual matter. Man is a social being, and in religion more than in anything else. If, humanly, we need completing by others, much more so do we need it in divine things. The most fundamental thing of all is that which unites us most, and best prevents our division from one another. And Christ employed this greatest social force by establishing a Church which He commanded to remain undivided forever, and to gather all men to itself. Religion should not be an individual drop of water to be evaporated. It must express itself in a Church as a vast ocean which resists opposing forces by its very mass. Socially we live in groups, finding both utility and safety in numbers. Spiritually also we Catholics form a group in unbreakable unity. Our religion is not a mere theory or vague sentiment. It is a life - a family life - with Jesus at the head. And as the one true family, so it forms the one true Church or assembly of the faithful. In fact, the Church is but the association of souls united to God. It is impossible for the organization to come between the soul and God. For the very social grace brings the soul to God. The Church is commissioned to communicate the divine life to men. That is her ministry in the name of Christ. She is but the luminous atmosphere bringing us the light and warmth from the Sun of Truth, Jesus Christ Himself.

498. You will tell us next that not only Christ, but the Church itself is divine.

It is. For she gives every sign of divine authority and protection. Christianity is a divine religion, and Christ put the whole of Christianity into the Catholic Church. She is divine in her proofs, supreme by her authority, infallible in her religious teaching, venerable in her centuried history, one in her universality. The Pope has no legions at his disposal to make men obey the sound of his voice. A sheet of parchment with the seal of the fisherman is enough to make the whole Church obey. Such is the power of divine faith. If you can believe yourself and make others believe you can sway millions. The Pope believes, and commands belief in others; and he rules millions. He would be entirely unable to do so were the Church not divine. The Catholic Church teaches and rules in the name of God; and in believing and obeying the Catholic Church, we believe and obey God, whose mouthpiece she is.

499. You insist on the necessity of obeying the Church?

Yes. It is in vain to talk of obeying Christ but not the Church. The Catholic Church has an absolute authority without appeal. She declares her own authority under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus supports it. "Tell the Church," He says, "and if a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen." He shows that the last appeal is to the Church. If she condemns, there is no appeal to God. Jesus does not say, "If a man offends me, treat him as a pagan-as none of mine." Such a person is simply a sinner, to be forgiven on repentance. So long as he does not rebel openly against the Church there is hope. But if he rebels against the Church all is broken, and Christ tells us to treat him as a stranger to Christianity. It is not that rebellion against the Church is worse than revolt against God. It is disobedience to God in a supreme degree. Christ entrusted His Church to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to ignore or despise the Church is to sin against the Holy Spirit.

500. As a Protestant I cannot see with you.

One with Protestant ideas necessarily finds it difficult to understand the Catholic outlook. There are many differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. But the most fundamental of all is precisely the one we are dealing with when treating of the nature of the Church. Protestantism is really religious individualism. It gives to each the right of private judgment and self-management. Its groupings or Churches, therefore, are only of secondary importance; and they are limited by national considerations. Catholicism regards the religious society or assembly as basic; a society which, through Christ and under His protection, gives and regulates divine gifts. Again, by its very principles, Protestantism ends in diversity, and an infinite number of varying doctrines according to the individual outlook. But Catholicism is an agent of unity, rigid as life in its eternal laws, yet as adjustable as life to growth and development within the bounds of one and the same type.

501. To my mind, any Church worshipping in the name of Christ is the true Church.

That leads to an insoluble difficulty. For example, good Seventh Day Adventists are perfectly convinced that they are meeting and worshipping in the name of Christ. But we Catholics have the same conviction concerning our own religion. On your principles, both Churches would be the "true Church." But Seventh Day Adventists teach that the Pope is the "Beast" and "Antichrist," whilst Catholics believe him to be the Vicar of Christ on earth. If both are equally the true Church, Christ is teaching through His Church contradictory doctrines. The same thing applies all around. The Salvation Army says that baptism is not necessary; the Baptists say that it is necessary, but only for adults; the Anglican Church says that it is necessary, even for infants also. Are all these equally giving the truth to mankind in the name of Christ? It is impossible.

502. Whom am I to believe, an educated Protestant minister, or an educated Catholic priest?

You have no need to believe either of them, taking them merely as educated men. There are educated atheists! Were someone to ask you whether he should believe an educated Protestant minister or an educated atheist, you would advise him to believe the Protestant minister. And you would be influenced by the thought, not of their education, but of the teaching they represented. Knowing Christianity to be true, you would prefer it to atheism. The same principle must be applied in the case you give. Apart from their relative education, you must consider the religions represented by the Protestant minister and the Catholic priest. But I must warn you that the Protestant minister really represents only his own views. No Protestant Church has any official body of doctrines which it can impose even upon its own ministers. But the Catholic priest does not give merely his own views. He speaks in the name of that vast international Catholic Church which alone can trace herself back to Christ, and which alone speaks as conscious of a divine commission to teach all mankind.

503. For some time I have realised the truth of the Catholic Church, and I have become dissatisfied with my own religion.

Your realization that the Catholic Church is the true Church is due to God's enlightening grace; and as a natural consequence any non-Catholic form of religion must seem inadequate and unable to satisfy the needs of your soul.

504. The Catholic Church, however, seems such a hard one to live up to, and I don't think I have the courage required.

I admit that the Catholic Church imposes many obligations ignored by other Churches. But how can the true religion of a crucified Master be a comfortable one from a natural point of view? If human nature has to be sanctified, many of its natural inclinations must be mortified. So our Lord said, "If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me." You see, He does not deny that it means a cross. Yet, knowing the power of the grace He gives us, He says, "My yoke is sweet, and My burden light." It is a yoke, and it is a burden; but the one who courageously accepts the obligations of a Catholic will find such peace of soul and patience that it is more than worth while. Thus our Lord says, "My peace I give unto you - not as the world gives peace do I give peace." The world offers us the peace of earthly comfort. The peace of Christ is not that, but it is something far loftier and far more precious. You do not think that you have the courage to take up the cross of becoming a Catholic. Of yourself you have not. But God will supply for your lack of courage if you sincerely ask for additional strength. St. Paul says, "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me." That is true for all of us. So I advise prayer, earnest, fervent, confident, and persevering. And God will give you the graces you need.

505. Should I decide to become a Catholic, what must I do?

You should go to the nearest Catholic rectory and ask the priest to instruct and prepare you for your reception into the Church, or at least to arrange for your instruction. He will do so gladly.




The  Church and the Bible

Catholic Belief in the Bible

506. Does the Catholic Church accept the Bible absolutely as the very Word of God?

Yes, as the various Books left the hands of the original writers. Various texts in the Bible itself say that they are spoken or written with the authority and under the influence of God Himself. Moreover, the supernatural character of the Bible stands out in vivid contrast when compared with the teachings of other religious documents. The fact also that the Jews always accepted the Old Testament as the Word of God, and that Christians have also accepted both Old and New Testaments for so many centuries argues to the truth of their divine inspiration. For such a conviction cannot be due to any merely human influence. Nor must we appeal only to the fact of belief in the Bible by so many diverse peoples, including men of the greatest intelligence. The Bible has had the most extraordinary effect upon the lives of men, giving rise to spiritual experiences such as no other books have occasioned. It is not that the Bible has produced a fleeting condition of religious exaltation only. It has produced permanent transformations of character which are facts to be accounted for just as the facts of chemistry or geology or of any other science. That the Bible should have such an extraordinary effect as compared with other books is intelligible if it is the Word of God; not otherwise. Finally, the Catholic Church, with her infallible teaching authority, teaches that the Bible is inspired and that it is indeed the Word of God. And she also tells us what Books comprise the Bible.

Bible-Reading and Private Interpretation

507. Is it true that Catholics must not read Protestant translations of the Bible?

It is true that Catholics are forbidden to read Protestant Versions of the Bible. Sacred Scripture is so important, and is entitled to such reverence that the Catholic Church permits to her subjects only such translations as she herself is able to guarantee to be substantially correct. English-speaking Catholics have their own Douay Version provided for their use. The Protestant scholar Scrivener said of the Douay Version, "Its scrupulous fidelity and exactness are its best recommendation. It is an act of justice to recognize that none of us has ever been able to reproach its translators with any willful alteration of the Scriptures." Catholics are obliged in conscience, therefore, to use the Catholic, and not the Protestant Version. This is a disciplinary law of the Church to which they owe obedience; and violation of that law is, of course, sinful.

508. Many good Roman Catholics have confessed to me that they have never read or heard a line of Scripture.

That is not true. No Catholic can attend Mass on Sundays without hearing the appointed sections of Scripture. Private reading of Scripture is not of obligation with Catholics, though it is recommended as a devotional practice, and fulfilled by many.

509. I think it is appalling that people should not read the Word of God for themselves.

How then did multitudes of Christians manage through so many centuries before the invention of the printing press, when it was impossible for them all to secure copies? They were not the worse Christians for that. They were taught by the Catholic Church. And the Catholic Church still teaches the Christian religion to her subjects with such success that Catholics have much clearer, more definite, and more accurate notions of Christianity than any of those who rely only on their own reading of the Bible.

510. How can one know all that is necessary if one does not read Scripture day by day?

We can know all that is necessary to believe and to do by being taught by that Catholic Church which Christ sent to teach all nations. It is not necessary to read Scripture in order to obtain this knowledge; and those who do read Scripture, making it the sole source of their knowledge, more often than not do not succeed in learning the essentials of Christianity. Those who maintain the necessity of reading the Bible limit the efficacy of Christianity in an impossible way. For thus millions and millions of Christians could not have known the essentials of Christianity before the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century; and the illiterate could never have a chance of knowing the truths necessary for salvation, owing to their inability to read! The reading of Scripture is not, and never was intended by Christ to be man's guide in the great affair of salvation. He intended man's guide to be the teaching Church He founded and commissioned to teach all men in His name. And men have ever been able to turn to the Catholic Church for the necessary information in all ages.

511. We Protestants believe that each man should read the Bible for himself and accept the truth he discovers in its pages.

That is an unsound principle. Many men fail to understand the true meaning of the Bible, and still more read wrong meanings into it. Thus St. Peter says that there are many things in Scripture hard to be understood which the unlearned and unstable wrest to their own destruction. The very fruits of such private interpretation should be sufficient proof that God could never have intended such a method. For men have made the Bible support the most opposite doctrines and have established hundreds of distinct and irreconcilable sects, each claiming to represent the true religion of Christ. God could never have intended a principle which would lead to such chaos.

512. In Acts XVII, 11, St. Paul commends the Bereans because they eagerly searched the Scriptures to see whether the things preached to them were so.

The passage excludes the very conclusion you wish to draw from it. The Berean Jews are commended as opposed to the Thessalonian Jews because the Berean Jews at least listened to the Gospel and examined references to the Scriptures where the Thessalonians would not give any attention, but persecuted the preachers of the Gospel of Christ. But the passage you quote commends their eager interest, not their searching of the Scriptures as such. Nor can the passage possibly be interpreted as favoring private interpretation as a guide to truth. The Berean Jews turned to the Scriptures to see if what was said of Christ as the Messiah was true. Yet with what result? The very next verse after the one you quote tells us that "many indeed believed." Many, not all, of those who so eagerly scanned the Scriptures, discovered the truth and received the grace of the Christian faith. Those who failed to believe did not profit much by their reliance on private interpretation. Their decision for themselves was erroneous! No. Private interpretation is not a sure guide to the truth, and Christ wisely established an infallible Church to be the guide of men in matters of religion. The Jews of Berea who were converted accepted wholeheartedly and persevered in the teaching of the Apostles.

513. If other students of the Bible differ from you in their interpretations, they have a right to their own views.

Neither they nor I have any right to adopt any interpretation of the Bible which is opposed to that officially taught by the Catholic Church. The Bible itself says that no Scripture is of private interpretation, and also that the Church is the "pillar and ground of truth." The idea that each man has a right to his own private interpretations of Scripture is anti-Scriptural.

514. Peter says that "no prophecy of Scripture is made by private interpretation," but he adds, "for the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost." 2 Pet. I., 20-21. You leave out those last words which show that he refers to the prophets, not to ordinary readers.

The last words you quote do not qualify the preceding verse as you think. There is no doubt whatever that St. Peter warns against private interpretation in verse 20, giving the reason in verse 21. The sense is as follows: "Do not presume to think you may privately interpret Scripture for yourself. If Scripture were merely the result of natural human thought, it would be different. But it is not the result of merely human thought. The holy writers were inspired by God-and it is the Spirit of God, not your own reasoning, which can dictate the true sense." That Spirit of God operates through the Catholic Church, the appointed and authentic religious guide of men. In the same Epistle, III., 16, St. Peter obviously shows that he was opposed to private interpretation when he says that there are many things in Scripture hard to be understood, and which the unlearned and unstable wrest to their own destruction.

515. When we read Scripture we have only to be led by the Holy Spirit.

By what test do you decide that it is really the Holy Spirit leading you? How do you know that you do not just think what you want to think, and then persuade yourself that it must be right because you think it, and that your opinion must be the voice of the Holy Spirit? Other people, just as sincere, arrive at other conclusions. Why would it be wiser to accept your verdict rather than theirs? All kinds of strange religions have been given to the world by men who have declared with the utmost confidence that the Holy Spirit is responsible for their ideas. St. John warns us: "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into this world." And he adds, "He that heareth not us, is not of God. By this we know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error." 1 Jn. IV., 6. St. John appeals to the teaching of the Apostles as constituting the teaching Church - that Catholic Church of which Christ said, "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen." That Church we Catholics hear and obey.



516. Has the ordinary reader no chance whatever of arriving at the correct sense of Scripture?

In very many isolated passages of Scripture he could certainly do so. In a great many passages he would scarcely be able to do so. In many others he would have no chance at all. There is no doubt whatever that the Bible is one of the most difficult books to understand. One needs a vast knowledge of ancient languages, history, and customs; and must be quite at home with Hebrew and Greek allegorical, metaphorical, and typical expressions, quite apart from the spiritual insight required to penetrate the loftiest mysteries. How many individuals are thus qualified? The untrained lack the historical and philological formation necessary to appreciate the true sense of what is written, and therefore make isolated texts mean what they wish, without adverting to either context or parallel passages. In the "Merchant of Venice" Shakespeare puts upon the lips of Bassanio the famous words, "In religion, what damned error, but some sober brow will bless it, and approve it with a text."

517. Even though he were to fail here and there, could not the average reader gain a knowledge from the Bible of the whole body of Christian doctrine in general?

That would not be possible, for Christian doctrine in its totality is not to be found in Scripture. Much of Christian doctrine is contained not in Scripture but in tradition; and a clear understanding of Christian doctrine requires in many cases the precise definitions of the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"

518. Tell me this. Are all Roman Catholic doctrines founded upon the Scriptures?

Not all Catholic doctrines are to be found in the Bible. But none of them is opposed to any teaching of Scripture. Some Catholic doctrines are found directly recorded in Scripture; others are logically derived from teachings recorded there; others are founded upon divine tradition. Scripture itself guarantees divine tradition to be a sound source of doctrine. Thus St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "Brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle." 2 Thess. II., 14. The traditions which the early Christians learned by word, and which were not included in the New Testament writings, have been preserved in the Catholic Church.

519. It seems to me that Catholics are guided by their Church, and not by the Bible.

You cannot separate the two like that. It is true that Catholics are guided by what their Church teaches. It would not be true to say or imagine that they are not guided by the Bible; for all that is taught in the Bible is included in the teaching of the Catholic Church. Any notion that there is opposition between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Bible is due to either a wrong idea of Catholic teaching, or of the meaning of Sacred Scripture.

520. To my mind the Bible is a sufficient guide, without the need of anything else.

You would not have the Bible save for the Catholic Church. Also, not all that God has revealed is contained in the Bible. And yet more, the Bible cannot be a sufficient guide when it requires another guide to explain its meaning. Remember that the first Christians owed their faith, not to the Gospels, but to the Church. The divine authority of the Church was the first fact as far as men were concerned in the order of proof. Before a line of the New Testament was written it was the Church that preached Christ to the first converts. Jesus commanded no writings, but told the Apostles to preach the truth, saying, "Teach all nations." And He promised them, "He who hears you, hears Me." The Apostles had to win belief in themselves and in their mission before they could win belief in their Master. It was on their testimony that the first converts believed in Christ. Had you lived then, and had you gone to one of the Apostles demanding proof from the written Word, he would have been quite unable to provide proof from Gospels which had not yet been written! He would have said to you, "Such is the unanimous teaching of the Apostles as we have received it from Christ." And either you would have accepted the teaching authority of the Church represented by the Apostles, or you would have been without the Christian faith.

521. But we do possess the Gospels now, and we cannot go against them.

Of course, granted our possession now of the New Testament, we must accept all that is written there in the sense intended by God, and nothing which contradicts that sense. But the New Testament contains only part of the Christian message to the world. There are doctrines over and above those contained in the written fragmentary Books of the New Testament. And for such doctrines we must rely upon the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church - traditions preserved from the very beginning.

522. Are words of Christ extant other than found in the New Testament?

No. We have no other records of the exact words of Christ save those contained in the New Testament.

523. Does the Catholic Church recognize any instruments not found within its Bible, with the degree of solemnity as if they were?

Besides the Bible, the Catholic Church recognizes the divinely safeguarded tradition which has been preserved and transmitted in the Church. You must remember that Christ Himself established tradition as the main vehicle by which His teachings would be preserved in the Church and communicated to men. He did not expressly order any Gospels to be written. He demanded faith in His doctrines as they were preached by word of mouth. Before the New Testament was written, the only rule of faith was the oral teaching of the Apostles. Later on, part of the knowledge possessed by the Apostles was committed to writing, but part only. Not all revealed truth was written down. The divine teaching has been preserved and handed down completely in the Catholic Church, both by that section written in the New Testament, and by that section of revealed truth which was not committed to writing, but which is declared by the living voice of the Church. For example, which Books of Scripture are canonical, the very inspiration of those Books, the teachings on infant baptism, or on the matter and form of the Sacraments, and many other things, are known to us by the traditional and living voice of the Church only. But, as I have pointed out, Christ intended that, for He did not order anything to be written, but established His Church and sent it to teach all nations what He had revealed, and its applications in practice.

524. Why do you rely so much on the testimony of those whom you call the "Early Fathers"?

Because they were men of undoubted learning and holiness, and lived in times much nearer to the days of the Apostles than ourselves. Being men of learning, they knew the truly Christian outlook prevailing during the years immediately prior to their own age, and throughout the whole Church during their own lifetime. Being men of great holiness, their integrity in setting down the truth is above suspicion. And being in close proximity to the days of the Apostles themselves, they were ever so much better fitted than ourselves to judge the nature of Christianity as first given to humanity. Above all are the early Fathers worthy of credence when their independent writings are unanimous in declaring the teachings and practices of early Christianity. Any later teachings which will not harmonize with their verdict would obviously be a corruption of the Christian religion.

525. If the New Testament is not the supreme authority for Catholics, why do you use it alone on many occasions to prove your contentions?

When I say that the New Testament is not the supreme authority, I am referring to it, not in itself, but as a source of doctrine to various individuals. As the Word of God, it possesses supreme authority in its right sense. But as individual readers are quite liable to get the wrong sense, they must be guided by the authority of the teaching Church if they desire certainty as to what the New Testament means. The authority of the Church is not; above that of Scripture; but it is above that of the individual judgment as to what Scripture means. Since the New Testament is of supreme authority in itself and in its right sense, I am justified in using it as proof. Then, too, when I am talking to people who profess to accept Scripture only, I am quite justified in showing that what they think to be in Scripture is not there; and also in showing them that many things are there to which they have never adverted. There is a difference between admitting that Scripture is the only authority; and making use of the only authority other people will accept.

Guidance of the Church is Necessary

526. Do you ask us to believe in a Church which will perish rather than in the Word of God which will endure forever?

No. We ask you to continue to believe in the Word of God, but completely; and therefore to believe in a Church that will not perish. For, according to the Word of God, Christ said, "I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." You must therefore believe in that imperishable Church; and the Catholic Church alone can be that Church.

527. Do you imagine that the Catholic Church only has arrived at a true understanding of the Gospels?

That is not a correct presentation of the Catholic position. There is no question of the Catholic Church "arriving at" a true understanding of the Gospels. Before a line of them was written, Christ had established His Church, taught her His essential doctrines, sent the Spirit of Truth upon her at Pentecost, and commissioned her to go and to teach all nations orally and with authority, just as He had taught orally and with authority. Later on, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, the Books of the New Testament were written. Now, as one and the same Holy Spirit could not contradict Himself, it is certain that nothing in the Gospels will contradict the official teachings of the Catholic Church. If independent people arrive at an interpretation of the Bible which conflicts with the official teaching of the Catholic Church, then they are mistaken, and have arrived at a wrong meaning.

528. Why can't Catholics he trusted to read the Bible for themselves?

They can be, and they are. But they are warned that their interpretation of what they read will be wrong unless it be in harmony with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the one safe guide as to what Scripture means.

529. Are not Catholics mentally intelligent enough to decide for themselves?

No degree of merely natural mental fitness is a guarantee that one will be able to discern for himself the correct sense of all that is contained in the Bible. That should be evident from the conflicting conclusions at which even highly educated men arrive concerning its meaning. St. Paul says clearly, "We speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man perceiveth not these things which are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined." 1 Cor. II., 14. Natural intelligence is not capable of comprehending supernatural truth. And the teaching of the Catholic Church is the only real safeguard as to the meaning of Sacred Scripture. Ever we must come back to that in the end.

530. You can no more interpret Scripture for me than you can eat my dinner for me.

It is true that I can no more make you assimilate mentally and spiritually the true doctrine contained in Scripture than I can make food nourish you when you yourself do not eat that food. But, as a qualified cook could prepare food for you better than you could prepare it for yourself, so I am able to put the truth of Scripture before you as you could never discover it for yourself. I at least have given years to the study of Scripture, both privately and under qualified professors, after a long training in cognate subjects. And I have the authentic decisions of the Catholic Church always at hand for constant reference. Would you say to a trained attorney, "You can no more interpret the law for me than eat my dinner for me"? Yet the interpretation of the revealed Law of God is more difficult than the interpretation of civil law. You must remember, too, that even though it is my duty to know the authoritative teachings of the Catholic Church, I am as subject to the authority of that Church as anyone else. I do not speak in my own name, but in that of the Catholic Church; nor do I ask others to do that which I am not obliged to do myself. It is not really a question of your being taught by me. We must both be taught by the Catholic Church.




The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic Certainty

531. Can you dogmatically assert that the Catholic Church teaches truth any more than I can disprove it?

You certainly cannot disprove it; and your own principles compel you to admit that you cannot. I can and do assert with absolute certainty that the Catholic Church teaches the truth.

532. Do you assert this because of superior intelligence, better reasoning powers, or faith?

I would not say because of superior intelligence or more accurate reasoning powers. Had you studied the same data, and had the same years of training as have been my lot, you might manifest much greater ability in dealing with the subject. Therefore, I base my assertion on better acquaintance with philosophy, history, Scripture, and theology-a knowledge I willingly restrict to the religious field. In addition to that, the light of faith, a faith justified by a solid rational groundwork, is of immense assistance. For it is a power of comprehension given by God, who can enlighten the mind interiorly to perceive the truth even as a human teacher can communicate intelligible light to his pupils.

Credal Statements

533. Christianity is a way of life, not a dogmatic statement of faith.

It is difficult to follow your line of thought. Do you imagine that the moment a man makes a statement of his Christian Faith he must abandon a Christian way of life? Or that, if one attempts a Christian way of life, he is at once forbidden to make any statement of his Christian Faith? Christianity is a religion revealed by God to teach us the full truth about our eternal and supernatural destiny, and to give us the means of attaining that destiny through Christ who is the heart and soul of that religion. The effect of that religion, if we accept it, try to put its precepts into practice, and use its means of grace is a spiritual and Christian way of life midst our present circumstances and duties. And part of that way of life is our obligation to believe all that God has revealed because He has revealed it.

534. Essential Christianity cannot be the acceptance of a creed drawn up by fallible men.

The Catholic Church agrees. We must not accept from fallible men what we are to believe; nor can the mere acceptance of any creed be essential Christianity. Yet, whilst essential Christianity is not the mere acceptance of a creed, the acceptance of a creed is essential to Christianity. For we must accept teachings essential to Christianity, and that means the acceptance of a creed. The creed to be accepted, of course, must not be one drawn up by fallible men. It must be presented to us by an infallible Church, acting in virtue of the power and protection of the Holy Ghost, as were the Apostles when they said of their decision, "It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us."

535. We must not rob Christianity of its vitality and dynamic.

That is true. But the acceptance of a creed will not do that provided one lives up to the teachings of Christianity, fulfills its duties of worship, and obeys its laws. One who does this will find his religion full of vitality and dynamic. It is a mistake, however, to think that, because the mere acceptance of a creed is not enough, therefore, the acceptance of a creed is not necessary.

536. Christianity is for all times.

That is true; but it must remain Christianity. There are those who want to change its teachings who really want Christianity to be for a past age, and who desire to provide a new religion for this age. It is rather a mystery why they wish to retain the name of Christianity for their new set of teachings. Meantime, their very modernism robs Christianity of its vitality and dynamic. William Force Stead, a Protestant, has recently written in his book, "In the Shadow of Mt. Carmel," as follows: "While other Christian Communions have been sedulously bowing to the spirit of the age, with the studied politeness of a courtier, and with something of a courtier's eye to obtaining favors, the Roman Church stands erect and bows to no man." At its beginning Christianity was to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness. So it has remained. This modern world is full of Jews and Greeks. The modernist theologian turns to the Jew and says, "Look, we have removed the stumbling block"; and to the Greek, "Behold, we have removed the foolishness." But, somehow or other, in response to all this tampering with creeds and dogmas, Mr. Stead remarks that "the Jews and the Greeks are not very interested."

537. Creeds are of value only insofar as they help men to think clearly, honestly, and comprehensively.

No one can object to any man thinking clearly, honestly, and comprehensively. But the one point you overlook is the propensity of men to think wrongly, either because they do not advert to all the relevant facts when they commence thinking, or because they wrongly imagine certain things to be facts which are not facts, or because they fail in logic during their process of thought. The real value of the creeds lies in their power to preserve men from falling into error through one or all of these causes.

538. Creeds are a drag on progress when they become tests of orthodoxy.

They hinder one's progressing along wrong lines; and they exist precisely for that. But no sensible person wants to progress along wrong lines.

539. They may help a man in his approach to reality; but they set out the truth about Jesus as it was seen by fallible men of other days.

If one is free to believe the creeds mistaken, and does so, how could he be of any help in the approach to truth and reality? One does not help others towards the truth by giving them wrong explanations. And certainly Christ did not establish His Church for that perverse purpose. If the Catholic Creeds merely give what fallible men thought to be the truth about Jesus in other days, then they may not have represented the truth about Jesus at all. Such a statement is a denial of the infallible teaching authority of the Catholic Church; and no one who believes in the Church in the Catholic sense of the word could possibly accept such views.

540. We must believe in Christ, not in any statement about Him.

Do you mean that we are to believe in a Christ about whom no definite statements can be made with any certainty at all? And why should we do even that much? Truly, modernism ends in a morass.

541. What is the origin of the Apostles' Creed?

The Apostles' Creed is a summary statement of the main teachings of the Apostles. The Apostles themselves did not compose it. It was drawn up after their death, in order to embody in a brief rule of faith the substance of their teaching. The first and earliest forms of this Creed appear in the second century. But it went through various arrangements and reconstructions in order to exclude new errors and heresies, until it finally assumed the present form in the fifth century. There is no doubt as to its value and authority, nor as to the fact that its contents are derived from the preaching of the Apostles themselves.

Faith and Reason

542. Are not many eternal truths the fruit of development of human thinking from the dawn of recorded history?

I would not deny that human reason is capable of arriving at many natural aspects of eternal truth. Nor would I deny that the findings of previous generations provide a starting point for further discussions and discoveries by subsequent generations. But, in addition to aspects of eternal truth discoverable by reason, there are other aspects not discoverable by reason, and certainly not the fruit of natural mental development on the part of mankind. If they are known to men today, it is only because God Himself stepped in at a given moment in history and revealed them. Such, for example, is our knowledge of the Trinity of Persons in God, and of the fact that the Second Divine Person became man, appearing in our midst as Jesus Christ.


543. What puzzles me is how anyone can believe at all in creeds and dogmas which are against reason.

That is not surprising. I would be puzzled too. No sane and well-informed man could believe in dogmas or creeds opposed to what is really reasonable. But what is really reasonable is not to be identified with what ill-informed and unreasonable people may think to be reasonable.

544. Do you consider the religion of the Bible to be compatible with reason?

The religion which is based upon the correct sense of the Bible is entirely compatible with sound reason. I hold no brief for the various forms of non-Catholic religion which men mistakenly believe to be in accordance with Scripture. Nor do I hold that even the right interpretation of the Bible will be in accord with what every man chooses to call the dictates of reason. Unreasonable propositions are often thought to be reasonable by the illogical and the untrained. Then, too, many people confuse the imagination with reason. But reason often demands the admission of things we cannot imagine. I have heard many a man commence a sentence with the words, "It stands to reason," and then go on to talk utter nonsense in the name of the reason he first invoked. The revelation of the Bible rightly understood will never conflict with reason rightly used.

545. To Catholics who are not allowed to think for themselves your doctrines may seem all right.

Whoever put the idea into your head that Catholics are not allowed to think for themselves? Of course, they are allowed to think for themselves! God expects them to use the intelligence He gave them, and the Catholic Church expects it also. We priests are constantly urging our own people, "For the love of God, think!" On religious matters, however, when people begin to think wrongly, the Catholic Church says, "You must not think that, for what I teach on such subjects is the truth." Whilst people are free to think for themselves, they are not always free to think whatever they like. Christ certainly did not leave people free to think whatever they liked. He spoke with authority, saying, "You have heard it said . . . but I say unto you." He demanded that His listeners accept His teachings, whatever their own ideas might otherwise be. Christian faith is not faith in what one thinks out for oneself, but faith in what God has revealed through Christ and what is taught in the name of Christ by the Catholic Church.

546. It strikes me that unbelief is the domain reserved for thinking people, whilst Catholicism is for people who delight in fairy tales.

Every man, who has not ceased to be human, "delights" in fairy tales, if they do credit to a creative imagination, and are well told. But to delight in fairy tales is not necessarily to believe them to be real descriptions of actual events. Nor have fairy tales anything to do with Catholicism as such. If ever a religion fitted in with common sense, it is Catholicism; and it is the only religion which does fit in with common sense. At the same time, it surpasses common sense insofar as the God with whom it is concerned surpasses finite and created man. A God on our own level, and able to do no more than we could do, would be no God at all. Meantime, unbelief is a domain reserved for people who think wrongly, or for those who, if they do think rightly, select unimportant affairs which have little bearing on religion and on the graver issues of life. The domain of unbelief is also reserved for people who do not think at all, as well as for minerals, vegetables, and animals. It includes all who cannot believe, and all who will not believe.


547. If you analyze yourself correctly, you will find that you ceased to think from the day you became a Catholic!

I do not know that these talks indicate a man who has ceased to think. But if you wish to speak of a fairy-tale mentality, what is the mentality of one who takes it for granted that a man who became a Catholic some twenty-five years ago ceased to think from that moment? You have no evidence whatever for that judgment. You believe it because you want to believe it, just as a child believes a toad to be a princess in disguise. Your interest in trying to explain away my becoming a Catholic, and your method of doing so, I quite understand. If the Catholic Church be true, it is most uncomfortable for those who do not accept it. Therefore, converts to that Church must be explained away. The easiest way to do this is to accuse them of utter brainlessness. And it is a consoling idea, because it contains an implicit compliment to your own superior powers of thought. But it doesn't work with the impartial, even though they themselves do not subscribe to Catholicism.

548. Leaving out factors of ignorance and worldly advantages, could a Catholic study theology so well as to prefer another faith to his own?

No man could study theology so well as to be led to abandon the Catholic Church. He would have studied it very badly, did he arrive at such a decision. But we can ask whether a Catholic has ever studied theology so deeply as to doubt and finally abandon the Catholic Church. As the question stands I say no. Deep study of theology as such could never lead from the Catholic Church. But other factors could enter into the case. A man could plunge into the deep study of theology, yet fail in piety and prayer, thus depriving himself of the influence of grace. That could be followed by a failure in humility and a tendency to isolated thinking with no allowance for the guidance of the Church. More and more such a man could consciously abandon himself to the dangers of self-sufficiency, until his eccentric subjectivism sapped his clear appreciation of essential obligations. It is easy to see that it would be possible for him to arrive at the wrong conviction that he should abandon the Catholic Church. And I believe that some men have been led by a badly regulated study of theology, coupled with neglect of grace and a failure in humility, to abandon the Catholic Church. They have got themselves into such a mental tangle that they no longer discern the true sense of Scripture, the verdict of history, and the demands of logic. But, even for them, the ultimate cause of their defection would lie, not in the intellectual, but in the moral sphere. And their loss of faith would not be free from sin.

549. By using his reason he is merely using a power given him by God.

By using his hands to throttle his victim the murderer is merely using a power given him by God. Reason can be used badly just as any other power. Human reason is not infallible. Every thought that comes into a man's head is not necessarily correct. It is absurd to believe that just because a man thinks a thing, it must necessarily be so. Though reason is a gift of God, it is no more exempt from submission to God's law than any other gift of God. And it is God's law that the human mind must accept what He declares to be true on the simple ground that He who is Truth itself has made the declaration. Man guiltily forgets his place, and proudly denies the obvious limitations of his finite intelligence, if he tells God that he doesn't think it true, and, therefore, will not believe it.

550. Will you not admit that it is much easier to believe all that one is told?

Not for thinking men. And if we restrict "all that one is told" to matters of religion, it is much easier to drop one's religious beliefs than to keep them; and having dropped them for want of thought, it is much easier to stay without them than to get them back. There is a mental laziness as well as bodily fatigue. And it takes no effort to take stones, vegetables, and animals for granted, and see nothing at all beyond them. You have but to hold your eyes open in order to see chalk-marks, but you have to be mentally alert to discern the sense of the writing on the wall. Again, it is easier to follow the lines of least resistance, obeying strong but blind instincts, than to adopt the Catholic program of self-control. Flippant and soft views of life are easier than serious and severer estimates.

The Voice of Science

551. Do you even know the difficulties which reasoning and scientific men have proposed against the Catholic Church?

I know the difficulties urged by all and sundry as motives for the refusal of submission to the Catholic Church. For the most part they are not proposed by reasonable and scientific men. The majority of the difficulties urged are based on guesswork, gratuitous assertions, contradictions in terms, errors in fact, and absurdities by the score. In nearly every case the objector has not even bothered to get right notions of the doctrine he wishes to assail. When he does get right notions, his objection falls to pieces.

552. You have spoken of "sane reasons." Pope Pius XI. spoke of the "diabolical reasoning" of Communists. What is the difference between reason, sane reason, and diabolical reason?

Reason is the intellectual power possessed by men enabling them to distinguish between the true and the false, the good and the bad. But man can use his reason to good or bad purpose. So we have a sane use of reason, or a warped use of reason. Sane reason makes sure of its facts and the validity of its logic in its deductions from those facts. Warped reason jumps at conclusions that are convenient, without bothering to make sure of things taken for granted, or that it is observing the laws of logic. That concerns the true and the false. But reason also enables a man to distinguish between the good and the bad; and it can therefore be used on behalf of the good or the bad. For example, the doctor uses his reason to discover what will benefit his patient. That is a good use of reason. A murderer uses his reason to plan his crime, and to discover means of avoiding detection. That is a diabolical use of reason. Now the Pope applied the term "diabolical reasoning" to that use of the intelligence which is calculated to destroy faith and love of God, to destroy man's hope of eternal happiness, to set itself up as the supreme and self-sufficient guide, to offer men a materialistic destiny on this earth only, to deny the right of man to possess property sanctioned by God's commandment. "Thou shalt not steal." This use of reason to repudiate dependence on God and the obligation of His law is diabolical; for it is based on the very cry of Satan, "I will not serve."

553. Science has never yet accepted such a thing as a soul.

Multitudes of scientific men are firmly convinced of the existence of the soul. They may not accept the fact as having been demonstrated by experimental science, though some do. But no really scientific men hold that "experimental science" is the only available means of discovering the truth. Sir Oliver Lodge claims to have experimental proof of the existence of the soul, not only in the living human body, but in a state of separation from it. Yet even if you do not accept his verdict, "experimental science" can give not a vestige of proof that there is no soul. True scientists accept as proved all that experimental science has demonstrated. But they accept also many other things as certain both on the grounds of history and of reason. It is scientific to demand a proportionate cause in order to account for effects already known. And both physiologically and psychologically we have abundant evidence proving the existence of the soul.



554. If there was any chance of uncovering proof of a future life science would have interested itself long before this.

Science has interested itself in psychical research based upon the sensibly manifested phenomena of spiritism in its various phases. Of these phenomena Lord Rayleigh, President of the British Association, said: "I find it difficult to believe the folly and fraud theory of these occurrences; but failing that one must admit the possibility of much that contrasts strongly with ordinary experience." Having a truly scientific temperament, he is a little more modest than those who know so much less.

555. How you people can accept subdivisions of the better world is beyond all comprehension.

The "other" world is not necessarily the "better" world. But we can let that go. It is certainly true that we do seriously accept different states in the next life, despite your inability to comprehend our doing so. You admit the fact that we do so, and also that it is beyond your comprehension. That is something. And as there is at least one thing certain despite your not being able to comprehend it, you will find, if you progress, that there are yet other things beyond your comprehension which are similarly true.

556. Science has not established these different subdivisions; therefore they do not exist. They are but myths.

In order to prove by science that these subdivisions are myths, it is not enough to say that science has not established them. There was a time when science had not established the existence of Neptune. But that planet was not a myth. To gain your point you must show that science has positively proved that there is no other world, and no different phases of it. Until that is done you act in a very unscientific way when you deny them. At most you could say that they may or may not be.

557. For that matter, science has never proved the existence of God. Experimental science has neither proved nor disproved the existence of God.

But it is most unscientific to restrict all evidence to evidence of a particular kind, and to entertain a blind and credulous faith that nothing exists unless it can be discovered with a telescope or by chemical analysis. Speaking of this subject, Lord Rayleigh said, "Surely it is a proposition which I need not pause to refute that the lifelong beliefs of Newton, Faraday, and of Maxwell are inconsistent with the scientific habit of mind." Lord Kelvin said, "Science positively affirms creative power, which it compels us to accept as an article of faith."

558. Science scouts belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

It does not. And it cannot really deal with the question. Do you know what the Immaculate Conception means? It means that Mary the Mother of Christ was never contaminated by the stigma of original sin inherited from our first parents. You don't believe in original sin at all, nor in its derivation to mankind. Whilst, therefore, I believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary, you believe in the immaculate conception of everybody; for you believe that nobody is contaminated by original sin.



Fate of Rationalists

559. Are we fatally in error in rejecting statements on religion which do not meet with our approval?

Not always. But very often it is so. Reason has both extensive and intensive limits. It is limited as to the number of things it can know, and in the power of penetration it can bring to bear upon them. The specialist is a man who has had to abandon many avenues of knowledge in order to concentrate on a few things. And on his death-bed he himself would gladly admit that he does not know all about even the few things in which he specialized. Still the average man would not dispute the findings of the specialist. He would be indignant if any other average man disputed the views of the specialist. But in the field of religion he himself would feel free to air his views to all and sundry, though never had he specialized in either philosophy or theology. Instinctively he mistrusts his own knowledge and reasoning capacity in other matters, but not in religion. It is a peculiar phenomenon of the human being.

560. We rationalists object to your branding us as guilty because of our unbelief. That in itself proves your religion unreasonable.

In what way?

561. Contrast a good rationalist with a bad Catholic. If the Catholic commits every possible crime you say that he is saved if he repents at the last.

If he repents at last there is one possible crime that he has not committed. For he has not died unrepentant. However we can let that go. It is a fact that, no matter what his crimes, a Catholic who dies repentant, and with the Sacraments of the Church, will save his soul. He will, of course, expiate his multiplied sins in purgatory; and will thus find that, though he has attained salvation, the multiplication of his sins was not a thing that did not matter. You may say, "But all the same, he is saved." But remember the conditions. I have said, "If he repents, and receives the Sacraments." That little "if" forbids presumption, and checks any tendency to throw oneself into a life of continued sin. For what man can say that he will have time to repent; or that he will suddenly develop the good dispositions necessary to correspond with such graces as God does offer him; or that his plan to receive the Sacraments at the last will be realized? All these considerations tend to make a man think. However if all the conditions are realized, a man will save his soul through God's mercy, no matter how many or great his crimes.

562. On the other hand a rationalist is condemned to everlasting torment.

Apart from other factors his fate would depend on his degree of responsibility before God for his unbelief. If he had had no opportunity for sufficient study to discern the truth of the Catholic religion, or was so dense that through no fault of his own he could not perceive its truth despite an effort at impartial consideration, then he would not be held responsible for his unbelief by God. He would be judged on other factors.

563. I suppose, of course, a rationalist who has led an honest life.

It is difficult to believe that an intelligent man could regard himself as honest because he acknowledges his debts to his fellow men whilst he refuses to acknowledge any debt to God. However you suppose that he has led what he really believes to be an honest life. If by that you mean that he has never violated his conscience during the whole of his life in any serious matter, there is no need to believe that he is condemned to eternal torment. And, even if he has violated his conscience in such a way, he would be saved did he repent sincerely before death with the help of such graces as God would offer him. Where he would undoubtedly lose his soul would be in the case where he would persist in rejecting the Christian religion despite a conviction that it was indeed from God.

564. If a believing bad Catholic can be saved whilst an unbelieving good rationalist is lost, then belief is more important than conduct.

We do not for a moment believe that a believing bad Catholic can be saved. All we maintain is that a believing Catholic who has been bad can be saved provided he becomes good by repentance of his wickedness, and by reception of the grace of Christ before he dies. And that is a very different proposition. Nor do we say that an unbelieving good rationalist is lost. For if he is indeed good, then his unbelief is not his own fault; and we hold that God will not blame him for what is not really his own fault. Your conclusion that belief is more important than conduct is really meaningless. Belief is conduct. Belief and unbelief are merely ways of conducting oneself in the presence of a proposition offered for our consideration. If God declares a thing to be true, then it is most improper conduct to refuse to believe it. On the other hand, belief is correct conduct in such a case. This foolish division between belief and conduct seems to be based on the idea that kind conduct towards our fellow men in other matters justifies the outrageous conduct towards God of not caring in the least whether He has revealed any doctrines, or whether they are true or not.

565. Did Thomas Paine, on his death-bed, renounce his infidel views?

Thomas Paine cannot strictly be called an infidel. He professed always a firm belief in God, and in the immortality of the human soul. On the very first page of his book attacking all revealed religion he declares that he believes in God, and hopes for eternal happiness. An infidel does not talk like that. His very writings, however, show that he never had any real understanding of the Christian religion, and that he never attained to the gift of faith in that religion as revealed by God. And he died without doing so, insofar as men can judge. He certainly expressed no recantation of his writings against Christianity, and probably died still under the delusion that he had good grounds both in fact and in reason for rejecting that form of religion. Men who mistake fallacies for sound reasoning are little likely to detect their own fallacies. But the chief trouble with Thomas Paine was his colossal ignorance of subjects upon which he took it for granted that he was well-informed. How responsible he was for this attitude before God must be left to God; as also the question of his ultimate fate.

566. Did Voltaire die screaming for a priest?

There is no need to bring in the screams. Shortly before his death he asked for a priest, and sought reconciliation with the Catholic Church. The interpretation of his action is very difficult. Much exaggerated nonsense has been given out about Voltaire's dying dispositions by both supporters and opponents of the Christian religion. In one thing certainly Voltaire was sincere. He did not want to be refused Christian burial. But whether he was sincere in complying with the conditions required by the Church is hotly disputed. He never made a full and clear retraction of his blasphemous attacks on Christianity. And it is hard to believe that he really meant such professions of faith as he did make. A man who has indulged for years the habit of malicious mockery of religion does not change his mentality in a moment, unless by a miracle such as Voltaire certainly did not deserve. And it is quite possible that the fruit of a lifetime of deceptions was a last grim and tragic self-deception. But none of these cases proves opposition between reason and revelation, or that there is any conflict between science and the Catholic Faith.


The Dogma of the Trinity

567. When was the doctrine of the Trinity given to man?

It was given to man explicitly when God sent His Eternal and Only-begotten Son in human form as the Christ in order to give that more perfect revelation of Himself and of His plans for which the Old Testament manifestations were but a preparation.

568. It is a vicious circle to prove the Divinity of Christ by quoting the doctrine of the Trinity, and to prove the Trinity by quoting Christ.

There is no vicious circle. The proof of Christ's Divinity is drawn from quite other sources, independent of the doctrine of the Trinity.

569. Prior to the coming of Christ, was anything revealed to the Jews that would justify a belief in the Holy Trinity?

God had no intention of revealing the doctrine of the Trinity in its fullness to the Jews generally prior to the coming of Christ. However, in the Old Testament, there are many veiled references to the Word of God and to the Spirit of God which could serve as a preparation to men of good will for the full teaching of the New Testament. But actually, although the possibility of the full truth could be inferred, nothing approaching proof could be adduced from the Old Testament without the additional light of the New Testament and Catholic teaching. The Jews, therefore, could not have attained to the knowledge of the Trinity we possess prior to the coming of Christ.

570. Before the coming of Christ did not men, seeing the male, female, and offspring principle throughout nature, quite reasonably ascribe these same characteristics to the Author of nature?

It would be a great mistake to imagine that to be the explanation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Men are, of course, incurably religious. And those without the true religion revealed by God almost of necessity invented religious theories which could not really transcend the human level. So we find male gods, female gods, and their progeny as part of the ancient pagan mythologies. I deny that this introduction of sex-life into the divinity was reasonable. But still it is intelligible. Yet these notions have nothing whatever in common with the Christian Trinity which is purely spiritual, and abstracts from sexual elements altogether. The notions of masculine and feminine cannot be applied to the First and Second Persons; and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from them both is not generated as a result of any "marital" union between them. The ideas you suggest have nothing in common with the Christian doctrine except the number three, and that certainly does not warrant the conclusion that the Trinity is nothing but a variant of the man, woman, and child principle.

571. Other men, with equal vehemence, declared the consistent unitarian nature of God.

I must reject your implication that, whilst the unitarian view is consistent, the trinitarian concept is inconsistent. Again, I must point out that there is no question here of pitting the personal thoughts of unitarians against the personal thoughts of trinitarians. The whole question must be one of objective fact. Did God reveal His trinitarian character to mankind? If so, then the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is right, to whatever other conclusions men's own thoughts may lead them.


572. Can a believer in the Trinity on the male, female, and offspring principle claim to be surely right despite the equally reasonable thought of God as one?

The idea that the Trinity is a development of the male, female, and offspring principle is false. Nor can you contrast believers in the Trinity with those who think of God as one. Trinitarians believe absolutely in God as one. The three Divine Persons possess but one Divine Nature, and our doctrine of the Trinity insists most emphatically on the unity of the Godhead. Here precisely it differs from the pagan myths which, whatever their triad might be, absolutely denied the unity of God. If, however, you wish to contrast the trinitarian belief in three Divine Personalities in the one God with the unitarian denial of those three Personalities, then the trinitarians can surely claim to be right and that unitarianism is wrong.

573. Osiris, Isis, and Horus are probably as right or as wrong as Jehovah.

That cannot be admitted. According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris is treacherously slain by a rival god, Set, and descends to the netherworld to become god of the dead. Isis, his sister-wife, posthumously gives birth to a child, Horus, who is the triumphant sun in the heavens avenging his father. Possibly the Egyptians used the male, female, and offspring idea in a primitive dramatization of the sun being slain at night by darkness and rising triumphantly to a new life in the morning. But again there is no resemblance to the Trinity save in the number three. The Christian doctrine was not the slow fruit of speculations based on existing Jewish or pagan ideas. It was the direct revelation of Christ. And to depict Him as a theorizer with other people's opinions is not to write history, but to indulge in fancies opposed to all available evidence.

574. What precisely is the sense of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity? How is it explained?

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity means that there are three Divine Personalities possessing the one Divine Nature. The word itself, of course, is but the blending of the two words, "tri-unity." The idea of a unity containing within itself a multiplicity is not very difficult. A single human being is very complex if you begin to analyze him. New just as you have a human nature, God has a Divine Nature. But, where there are many men, there is but one God; and there can be only one Divine Nature. Yet God is the living God. There is a life in Him who is the Author of life; and life means activity. As you, for example, though silent and still, can be intensely active within yourself, able to be thinking of yourself, and forming an estimate of yourself, so God must be able to know Himself within Himself, and must be capable of a great love following His knowledge of the infinitely Beautiful and Good and True. But this knowledge and love within God must be identified with Him, yet in some way distinct from the source from which they proceed. His knowledge must be the child of Infinite Intelligence, and it must give rise to a Spirit of Infinite Love. And we are told by Christ that in the one God there is a Fatherhood, a Sonship, and a Holy Spirit of Love. And these make three personal relationships within the one Divine Nature.

So we are bidden to baptize in the one name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

575. Was the Son due to the Primal Will of the Father, or did He have a primordial right to His derived existence?

Neither of your ideas can be applied to God. You are thinking in human terms which have only analogical application to God, and according to notions of successive priority which are excluded by the eternal simultaneity of God. Also you are attributing to the Divine Persons notions of will and of rights which are proper to one and the same Divine Nature possessed equally by all three Divine Persons, and which cannot be unequally distributed amongst those Persons. You must keep in mind that, if the Son is begotten by the Father, it is not by subsequent communication of being, but by an immanent eternal relationship of Nature. The successive idea that the Father exercised a Primal Will which led to the later origin of the Son is impossible in relation to God. So, too, is any talk of primordial rights in the Son to account for His derivation. The only reason for the Holy Trinity as revealed to us is to be found in the fact that the Divine Nature is what it is. God is the reason for His own existence and for all the conditions of that existence.

576. If there are gradations of perfection in the spiritual nature of angels and of human souls, surely there is room for gradations of perfection amongst the Persons in the Divine Nature.

The idea that the Eternal Son could possibly be less perfect than the Eternal Father is absolutely opposed to Christian doctrine. Gradations of perfection are possible only amongst created natures in which limitations are possible. God is not a finite, limited, created Being. He is uncreated, and uniformly perfect in an infinite degree. There is no room for gradation of perfection amongst the uncreated Persons subsisting in the one uncreated Divine Nature.

577. How can the Trinity be defended against the age-old charge of contradiction?

You are right in calling it an age-old charge.  And you can be quite sure that all the great minds of the ages have met the charge, and have discovered that there was nothing in it. Unity and multiplicity under the same aspects of comparison would, of course, involve contradiction. But not when they are not under the same aspects of comparison. I do not undertake to explain fully the mystery of the Trinity. Could I do so, it would no longer be a mystery. But the absence of contradiction can be shown. For the doctrine does not say that there are three Gods and yet one God; nor does it say that there are three Persons yet one only Person. It says that there is but one God and three Persons. Unity in plurality is not a contradiction. One tree with three branches makes but one tree. But we do not say that the one and the multiple in God are even equally absolute, as is the case with the tree and its branches. The Divine Nature is Absolute; the multiplicity is constituted by pure relations. The absolute exists in itself; the relative does not, but only in dependence upon the absolute. The charge of contradiction does not allow for these divergent aspects, and is, therefore, invalid. A man may or may not believe in the Trinity. But he speaks foolishly when he accuses those who do believe of an absurdity.

Creation and Evolution

578. Has the Catholic Church any objections to the theories of evolution?

The Catholic Church does not exclude belief in a moderate and restricted material evolution. Things do evolve. But they have to "be" in order to evolve, and they secured their being by creation. We cannot, therefore, admit any form of the evolutionary theory which excludes God, or which denies dependence on God. In a well-understood system of evolution nature has two means by which it fulfills its work. It can use its initial resources received from the Creator, employing its own innate powers. And again, where its acquired capital does not suffice, it can have recourse to the ever-present God who interferes with His creative power for great changes only, as in the production of life, or of intelligence, and of individual souls. But these questions do not affect religion in practice. Even though a man did know how all things have come into existence, the why of all things would still remain; and God's rights would still have to be maintained. Reason cannot get away from the fact that all is the execution of a plan traced by God's Will; nor can reason get away from the fact that God has intervened in a special way to reveal to mankind its religious obligations.


579. Scientists like Sir James Jeans say that the earth has evolved slowly through 2000 million years to its present state. May Catholics accept this as a possible or probable theory?

Catholics are quite free to accept that opinion as an opinion.

580. If so, how does it square with the Genesis story?

No difficulty arises in this matter. For whilst Genesis teaches that God created all things out of nothing, it does not say that He created every individual thing in the universe like that. Even if God created a vast original nebula which gradually contracted at certain centers-such as the sun-from which smaller fragments separated, God would still be the Creator of all things, the evolution taking millions of years. The account in Genesis of the origin of all things in no way hinders an explanation allowing for an indefinite expansion of time.

581. How will you harmonize Genesis with geological records?

You raise a problem which really does not exist. Three elements enter into the account of creation given by Genesis-the revelation of facts given by God; the expression of those facts in human terms intelligible to the people of the time for whom they were intended; and the arrangement of the matter according to a plan based upon religious motives, i. e., in order to inculcate religious obligations. The sequence is logical, not chronological. The Mosaic account does not pretend to give the exact scientific and objective order.

582. Can you accept the further theory of many men that human beings evolved from lower forms of life some 300,000 years ago, and for thousands of years were little different from brute beasts?

Greater difficulties occur when it is a question of the formation of man. That the earth as such took millions of years for its gradual formation can be regarded as scientifically certain. But that man evolved from lower forms of life is pure hypothesis or conjecture, without any real evidence in its favor. Even for man's body, intermediate forms are missing, and strict proof is entirely wanting. The Catholic Church teaches that each man's soul, which is spiritual, is immediately created by God. No Catholic, therefore, can hold that the soul of man is evolved from lower beings. What about man's body? The Catholic Church has not defined as an article of faith that we must believe that God immediately formed the body of the first man. But she says that the whole tenor of Biblical teaching is against its evolution and in favor of immediate creation. It would be rash, therefore, to assert as a fact that man's body evolved until fit for the reception of a rational soul. If, however, the hypothetical guess concerning man's body having evolved were ever proved true-as it probably never will be-such a doctrine, restricted to the body of the first man only, would not necessarily conflict with the Bible. For even then it would have been formed out of the slime of the earth through successive intermediate forms. However, there are weightier reasons against this theory than for it; and the Catholic Church, without defining the question, has given an interim decision of a disciplinary character forbidding Catholics to deny the actual creation of the first man, even bodily. Until the Church gives a further decision in the matter Catholics should hold that both the body and the soul of the first man were due to the special creative activity of God.

583. Then belief in man's evolution is not incompatible with any dogma of the Catholic Church?

Belief in man's bodily evolution would not be incompatible with Catholic dogma. But it would be incompatible with science. It is because the really scientific men do not know what to believe as regards man's origin that they propose the theory of evolution as a probable guess which seems to fit in with the few very isolated fragments of apparent evidence they have perceived. More and more, these really scientific men are tending to regard what is termed major evolution as less and less probable, and to confine themselves to a very minor or mitigated evolution.

584. According to my reading on the subject, the derivation of all forms of life by modification of earlier and simpler forms is accepted by practically the whole scientific world.

I am afraid you have not read widely and deeply enough. No first-class scientist will admit the derivation of all forms of life from simpler earlier forms to be a fact. They insist that it is no more than a probable guess. Wassmann rightly says, "The doctrine of evolution is not experimental. Man is too late on the scene for that. But there is a probability of a restricted evolution or of a mitigated transformism. To assert, however, that all vegetable forms are from one primitive type, or that all animals are from one primitive type is a delightful dream." Sir Bertram Windle says, "Transformism, however probable, is not proved. Perhaps it never will nor can be."

585. Darwin's "Descent of Man" proves, to my satisfaction at least, that man and anthropomorphous apes had a common ancestor.

If so, you must be very easily satisfied. But firstly, you have not quite understood even Darwin. Darwin maintains lineal, not collateral descent. He would not say that man and anthropomorphous apes had a common ancestor, but rather that man is a direct descendant from anthropomorphous apes. In his book he writes, "The Simiadae then branched off into two great stems, the New World and the Old World monkeys; and from the latter, at a remote period of time, man, the wonder and the glory of the universe, proceeded." Secondly, whilst Darwin's theory appeals to many people as a theory, his attempts to justify it, attempts which have impressed you, have been utterly discredited. That statement is bound to seem extravagant to you, so let me justify it. Professor Bateson, of the British Association, recorded in 1914, "We biologists have come to the conviction that the principle of natural selection cannot have been the chief factor in determining species." Driesch, one of the greatest of German biologists, says, "For men of clear intellect, Darwinism has long been dead." Dwight, Professor of Comparative Anatomy at Harvard University, writes, "We have now the remarkable spectacle that just when many scientific men are all agreed that there is no part of the Darwinian system that is of any great influence, and that as a whole the theory is not only unproved, but impossible, the ignorant, half-educated masses have acquired the idea that it is to be accepted as a fundamental fact." Bumuller, the German scientist, writes, "The testimony of comparative anatomy is decidedly against the theory of man's descent from an ape." In addition to the names I have mentioned, the following men, all first-class scientists, and subsequent to Darwin, reject not only his methods of argument, but also his theory: Ranke, Wundt, Kohlbrugge, Vogt, Caullery, Carazzi, Du Bois-Reymond, Clark-Wissler, Branco, Karl von Zittel, Joseph le Conte, Virchow, Sir William Dawson, Vialleton, T. H. Morgan. Admitting more or less the theory, but rejecting Darwin's proofs, are: Le Dantec, Delage, Cope, Korchinsky, Von Baer, Hartmann, Packard, Jeckel, Haberlandt, Goette, Von Sachs, Kassowitz, Eimer, most of these being Professors of Zoology, Botany, Biology, Palaeontology, Pathology, etc., at their respective Universities of Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Strasbourg, Tubingen, Amsterdam, Stanford, etc.

586. Are you aware that the human embryo shows that man's ancestors were once water-breathers, and later on hairy quadrupeds?

Are you aware that Dr. de Beer, in his great work, "Embryology and Evolution," published from Oxford University, has declared that a study of the human embryo, far from showing anything about our ancestry, is really useless for the purpose? Dr. de Beer is not a Catholic. That should be one credential in his favor for you. Also he is an ardent supporter of the evolutionary hypothesis. But he is too scientific to rank a plausible guess as a demonstrated fact. Listen to his words, "There is no logical justification," he writes, "in regarding any embryological stage as evidence of the former existence of such a stage representing an adult ancestor. Equally well might a present adult stage represent an embryological stage of an ancestor. Embryology, therefore, is no guide to philosophy."

587. Are you aware that man has upwards of one hundred vestigial traces in his body of its undoubted animal origin?

I am quite aware of vestigial resemblances to features discernible in other animals. But resemblances and similarities are not proof of derivation. To regard them as traces proving undoubted animal origin is simply fantastic. It is interesting to contrast the dogmatism of the man in the street with the tentative caution of the real scientist. Professor J. B. S. Haldane, a quite irreligious man, at least refuses to outstrip the available evidence. And he says that he regards the evolution of man from lower animals as rather more probable than the existence of Cedric the Saxon, but less probable than the existence of Queen Anne." The really great scientist, Reincke, speaks even more strongly. "The only statement consistent with her dignity that science can make," he writes, "is that she knows nothing about the origin of man."

588. If you were once a germ cell, what difficulty have you in admitting your animal ancestry?

I would have none, were my animal ancestry a proven fact, as is the origin of the human body in a germ cell. But it is not; and I object to fancies being represented as facts.

589. You appear to speak somewhat scathingly of the theory of organic evolution.

I speak scathingly of those who want to make such evolution appear to be more than a mere theory. Many people who pretend to a scientific outlook, have built up a mythology equal to any that has ever been foisted on a credulous humanity. And they get worried when one refuses to profess belief in their dreams. But organic evolution, involving the transformation of species, does not warrant belief. The well-known scientist, Yves Delage, made it his opinion that such evolution probably occurred. Yet he wrote as follows: "If there existed some other scientific hypothesis besides that of descent to explain the origin of species, many transformists would abandon their present opinion as not being sufficiently demonstrated. If one takes one's stand upon the exclusive ground of the facts, it must be acknowledged that the formation of one species from another species has not been demonstrated at all."

The Existence of Angels

590. What place have angels in creation?

Thought itself indicates the probability of angelic creatures. God has manifested in creation a most extraordinary gradation of perfections. We see a mineral world; a vegetable world; a sensitive world. Then we find man, who sums up all three worlds, and surpasses them by his possession of a spiritual and intelligent soul. But why should intelligence stop at the feeble triumphs of man? Is it not natural that there should be higher created spiritual beings, intermediary between the Supreme Spirit and the created spirits immersed in the material bodies of men? There is a purely material world. There is a blend of the material and spiritual worlds in man. It is quite reasonable to expect a created and purely spiritual world. Our human intelligence stammers in speech and discourse, arriving slowly and with difficulty at its conclusions, and often making grave mistakes. The natural act of our intelligence is intuition, the vision or sight of truth, even as the natural act of bodily eyes is the sight of material objects. Yet we fail so often to attain truth. God could be better represented in His creation. Where is perfect intelligence acting according to laws proper to itself and unfettered by matter? Is it absent from the universe? No one who really believes in God would think so. Spiritual being is normal being. It is much nearer to the Author of all being than matter. And it is not unreasonable to believe in a class of created beings more perfect than men.

591. Are not the angels spoken of in the Bible as "messages" or "influences" emanating from God rather than created spiritual beings?

That cannot be maintained. For that would be to deny them personality. But both Old and New Testaments insist upon the spiritual and personal character of angels. Isaiah VI., 3, declares that the angels worship God crying, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts." Christ said, "Despise not one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." Matt. XVIII., 10. Messages and influences don't see! Again, Christ said that there is joy amongst the angels in heaven when a sinner repents. Can one attribute rejoicing to messages and influences? When Christ said that in the resurrection men shall be as the angels who neither marry nor are given in marriage, did He mean that men would be like messages and influences? St. Peter says that God spared not the angels who sinned. Did impersonal messages and influences sin?

592. Are the angels in any way related to us?

Yes. I have already quoted Christ's reference to the guardian angels of children. We must remember that all phases of being are in communication. There is a mutual penetration of the various kingdoms, and mutual service. All less than man contributes to the welfare of man. And if I can plead with God for you in prayer there is no reason why angels could not plead for us all in a similar way. If I can communicate ideas to you, there is no reason why God should not employ angels for that same purpose; although angels would act in a way proper to themselves, and not subject to our limitations.

Evil Spirits or Devils

593. I am interested in the bad angels or devils, who are, of course, a little more out of date than good angels.

Neither is out of date. People are more ignorant of revelation and of the truth. And as they are more prone to deny the things they don't like rather than things they do like, they deny devils a little more vehemently than they deny angels. They deny both, of course. But this also results from the fact that men dislike being taught by anybody, even by God; and because they do not like to think that there are any beings higher than themselves. So you find unbelievers asserting that man is the highest and culminating point of evolution so far, and that he must push on to still greater perfection. But human pride has never permitted the suggestion that man will so evolve that he will cease to be man, and become another creature altogether. All is ordained to the glorification of man; and that leaves no room for angels. Therefore, angels do not exist. And if not angels, then no devils. For devils are simply angels who fell into sin, rejecting good and choosing evil in the inevitable trial given to all created beings endowed with free will.

594. Does the name devil refer to the fallen angels collectively, or to a single personality?

The fallen angels may be called devils collectively. At the same time, their leader is a single personality, and is at times called the devil as the chief representative of the class of beings to which he belongs.


595. Who is Lucifer?

Lucifer, meaning "Light-bearer," was the name of the leader of the rebellious angels before their fall into sin. After the fall he received the name of Satan, or Adversary. Scripture also refers to him as the "Beast" and the "Dragon." Thus St. John says that Michael the Archangel fought with the Dragon and his angels, and the great Dragon was cast out of heaven. (Apoc. or Rev. XII., 7-9.) Christ referred to this when He said, "I saw Satan like lightning falling from heaven." Lk. X., 18. And He depicted the fate of Satan when He described the sentence of the wicked, "Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels." Matt. XXV., 41.

596. It is hard to think of an angelic intelligence so weakened as to think it could dethrone God.

It is. But the rebellious angels never thought to destroy or dethrone God. They simply abstracted from the consideration of God, and sought to enthrone themselves in their own proud estimation as sufficient for themselves without due relationship to God and submission to Him.

597. Can we associate the very human failing of pride with angelic spirits?

That is almost the only vice found in human beings which could be associated with angelic natures. Pride is the inordinate love of one's own excellence, and is a sin which can be common to human beings and to purely spiritual beings. Proper to men are those sins which arise through the association of the soul with a material body of a sensitive and passionate nature. And these are the very human failings, not pride. St. Bernard expressed this idea when he said, "Sin by sensuality, and you sin as a beast; sin by dishonesty, and you sin as a man; sin by pride, and you sin as the angels."

598. With all the Divine attractions before them, and despite the intoxication of His Presence, we are to believe that the angels sinned!

Not quite. Even the angels had not the beatific vision of God in all His glory and infinitely beautiful reality. Had they had that vision they could not have sinned. It must be remembered that God is in the order of infinite being and perfection. But the angels, as finite creatures with necessarily limited intelligences were in a lower order altogether. The vision of God as He is in Himself would be impossible to them by their own natural powers. They, as well as human souls, would need a supernatural elevation by grace, and by the intensification of their powers before they could have an immediate sight of God. Just as we know of God's existence without possessing that vision, so was it also with the angels. The fallen angels, therefore, never have seen God as He really is. Those angels who did not sin received the supernatural vision of God as their inheritance; and for them, therefore, sin is no longer possible.

599. The heaven in which Lucifer existed, then, is not the same as the future home of the elect?

No. Such human souls as are saved are elevated by grace to the supernatural order, and received on their entrance into heaven an additional capacity to see God in all His beauty and splendor as Lucifer never saw Him. Once any creature, angelic or human, has received that vision, sin becomes an impossibility; and heaven is, therefore, eternal.

600. Of one thing I am certain. No devil tempts me.

You are not certain of that at all. You have no experimental proof that no devil tempts you. How do you know that the devil has not tempted you to adopt that conclusion? How do you know that he is not confusing his activities with your own mental processes in such a way that you cannot distinguish his activity from your own? I am not saying that he is doing so. I merely say that you do not know for certain that he is not doing so. And I maintain that he could do so, and that he is never so well served as by those who deny him. The devil is not likely to inform you just when he is at work, and how many of your inclinations are due to his influence.

601. Is his influence confined to the effects of original sin?

Original sin has left a certain disorder in man's nature, warping his mind and disturbing the balance which should prevail between his will and his passions. Yet, although original sin was due to Satan's treachery in the first place, his influence now is not confined to these transmitted deficiencies. Over and above inherited evils, he is still able to tempt men within such limits as God permits.

602. Why should a man he condemned if he falls a victim to the super-intelligence of the devil?

The devil has a keener intelligence than man, but the scope of his knowledge is not without limits. He cannot read man's secret thoughts and intentions. He can conjecture from our conduct what is most likely to prove our downfall, and tempt us accordingly. Even so, he has no direct power whatever over our will. Again, God has promised to supply by His grace for our deficiencies. "My grace is sufficient for thee," He said to St. Paul. And we are told, too, that God permits no man to be tempted beyond that which he is able. God expects us to resist temptation, but He also expects us to ask for the necessary graces by prayer. Christ constantly urged such prayer. If a man, therefore, is condemned for yielding to the temptations of the devil, it is not because he could not resist them, but because he would not, and refused to ask the necessary help of God.

603. If God wills all men to he saved, why does He ever allow Satan, to defeat that end?

God does not will all men to be saved in spite of themselves. He intends that those who choose to die in a state of grace and in His friendship should be saved. And to every man He gives sufficient grace for that. In no single case has Satan been able to defeat this purpose of God so that souls through no fault of their own have been lost. God respects man's freedom. But if He will not compel men to be good, neither can Satan compel men to be evil. If a man wants to be good, he can be good; and Satan cannot prevent him. If a man wants to be evil, he can be evil, and God will not prevent him even though He forbids evil by the moral law. Men choose for themselves to take their stand either under the banner of God, or under that of Satan.

604. Since the devil has some success in persuading men to choose evil, why doesn't God do away with him to prevent further harm?

Firstly, God will not do away with the devil because the devil is an essentially spiritual being whose nature is immortal of its very nature. And God does not create a being endowed with immortality only to destroy it. Secondly, God knows that human souls, with the help of His grace, can themselves prevent the devil from doing them any moral harm by refusing consent to his evil suggestions. Thirdly, since there is no particular merit in being good if never tempted to do evil, God knows that the temptations of the devil are the occasion at least in which men have the chance to practice and to grow in virtue. Fourthly, since all previous generations of men have had to endure the sedulous attentions of the devil, there is no particular reason why the present and future generations should be exempt. We must battle through the same trials as others, conscious that with God's help we can come through victoriously, as so many others whose example is offered for our encouragement.

605. Must Catholics believe in an Antichrist?

Since they must believe in Holy Scripture they must believe that there will be an Antichrist. And they must believe that all the prophecies in Scripture are true prophecies, and that they will be duly fulfilled. But all this is in the sense intended by Scripture itself. We have not to believe whatever people think Scripture to mean by Antichrist, and by the prophecies concerning him. And very many absurd ideas have been taught by irresponsible people on this subject. There will come an Antichrist who will fulfill in the sense intended by Scripture the mysterious prophecies concerning him. More than that we are not obliged to believe.

606. Must we believe that he is a real being, or that he is just a myth?

The Antichrist is a reality, and not just a myth. We are not allowed to suggest that Almighty God would inspire the Sacred Writers to set down myths for our instruction. Antichrist will be a reality in the sense God knows and intends. Is Antichrist to be an individual being, or rather a general spirit of unbelief? We are free to interpret the future reality in either sense. But authors think that more probably Antichrist will be some definite human being because St. Paul calls him "the man of sin"-an unbelieving and immoral beast who will come by the power of Satan. That is the more general interpretation. But it is not a defined article of faith, and Catholics are obliged to believe simply that some great force opposed to Christ will arise prior to His Second Coming-a force which will deceive many members of the Church, and drag them into apostasy.

Man's Eternal Destiny

607. What happens when a man dies?

Death means the separation of body and soul. The body thereupon disintegrates and returns to dust. But the soul survives in a state of separation from the flesh, to experience either pleasant or unpleasant consequences according to the good or evil accomplished in this life.

608. Please tell us from the Bible what the soul is.

The Bible tells us that the soul is the principle of life; that it is made in the image and likeness of God who is a Spirit possessing intelligence and will power; that the created spirit of man, although united with a material body, is not to be identified with that body, but that it differs from the body in its very nature. For the soul is spiritual, not material; it is immortal, not mortal. Thus Scripture declares that at death "the body returns to the dust from which it came, and the spirit to the God who gave it." If the soul simply perished with the body, it could not go back to the God who gave it. It would simply cease to be.

609. Thousands of Christians can quote texts which unmistakably prove the soul to be, not immortal, but mortal.

There is not a single text in Scripture proving the soul to be mortal. And certainly no Christian who understands his religion can deny immortality. Christ's reference to those who can kill the body, but who cannot kill the soul can mean only that the soul survives the fate of the body. Again, Christ refuted the Sadducees, who denied the immortality of the soul, by quoting the Scriptures where God said, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And He added, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." St. Paul desired that the union between his soul and his body might be dissolved that he might be with Christ. He knew quite well that his soul would not become simply nonexistent. St. Peter tells us that the spirit of Christ, after His death on the Cross, went to preach to the souls of the departed-souls which had certainly survived the death of the body and were conscious of the doctrine manifested to them by our Lord. So clear is the evidence of the Bible in favor of immortality that those who profess belief in Scripture yet deny immortality must be accused of doing so merely because they do not want to believe that the soul survives.

610. Is there any reference in the Old Testament supporting the idea that the soul is immortal?

Yes. When Christ quoted the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as being the God of the living, and not of the dead, He drew His reference from the Book of Exodus, III., 6. In Deut. XVIII., 11, God forbids the Jews to seek knowledge from the spirits of the dead. The text supposes the continued existence of departed souls, and merely forbids attempts to enter into communication with them. 1 Kgs. (Sam.) XXVIII., 15, narrates the fact that the soul of Samuel appeared to Saul, which could not be were the human soul not immortal. The Book of Wisdom describes the wicked as denying immortality for themselves but affirming it for the good. "For they have said, reasoning with themselves, but not rightly ... we are born of nothing and after this we shall be as if we had not been . . . our body shall be ashes, and our spirit shall be poured abroad as soft air, passing away as the trace of a cloud. . . . But the souls of the just are in the hands of God; and the torment of death shall not touch them." Wisd. c. II. & III. Again, we read in the Old Testament, "It is a holy thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins." 2 Machabees, XII., 46. If the souls of men are nonexistent after death, they could not benefit by our prayers.

611. Do Jews, who accept the Old Testament, believe in the immortality of the soul?

Yes. The most eminent of German Jewish Rabbis, Leo Baeck, in his book, "Das Wesen des Judentums," declares that the immortality of the soul is a doctrine of Judaism, and that "this life receives its meaning from the next." Dr. Kohler, Principal of an American College for the training of Jewish Rabbis, in his authoritative work, "Jewish Theology," says, "We all close our lives without having attained the goal of perfection towards which we strive." And he adds that our very nature demands a future life, and that the doctrine of immortality corresponds with the belief in God who cannot deceive the human heart. Another Rabbi, Morris Joseph, in his book, "Judaism as Creed and Life," writes, "The doctrine of immortality is an integral part of the Jewish creed. The transgressor who has not worked out his atonement here must complete it hereafter; whilst the Just, who can but have imperfectly realized their possibilities in this life, will realize them to the full in the life to come." In an essay on the subject, published in London in 1934, the Rabbi C. G. Montefiore writes, "The modern Jewish hope of immortality is sound and pure. The essence of our belief is this: With all the imperfections, the evil, the agony, the horrors, which have ever existed among men, and which still exist today, immortality seems to us to be the inseparable corollary or 'sequitur' to a belief in a ruling, a righteous, and a loving God. To that belief we wistfully cling because, hard as the world is to explain with God, harder still, as it seems to us, is it to explain the world without God. Into the character and nature of that immortality, Jews inquire seldom and little; yet whilst they do not depreciate this life because of that other life, it is just as false to say that, at the expense of that life, they unduly magnify this life." Such quotations prove the Jews to know that belief in immortality is quite in accordance with the teachings of the Old Testament.

612. You quote the Bible where it suits you, but you ignore all those sec-tions of the Bible which exclude the idea of immortality.

There is not a single text in Scripture opposed to the Catholic doctrine of immortality.


613. Genesis tells us that God guarded the Tree of Life lest men should eat of it and "live forever." Man cannot, therefore, have immortality by nature.

The reference in Genesis is to preservation from that natural death of the composite human being which results from the dissolution of the union between soul and body. It is true that death in that sense is natural to man. For, although the soul is a spirit and immortal by its very nature, the body is by nature material and mortal. God gave our first parents the special privilege by a supernatural gift of immunity even from the law of natural death. The reference you quote merely indicates that, after sin had been committed, such immunity was lost irrevocably to humanity. We are all subject to the law of death, and to the necessity of separation between soul and body when the body is no longer fitted for the purposes of life. But the soul survives this dissolution; and nothing in the passage you quote suggests that it does not.

614. In Gen. II., 17, God told Adam that he would die if he ate the forbidden fruit.

That is true. But when God spoke, Adam possessed the natural life of body and soul, and also the supernatural life in the spiritual order of God's grace. He was also, by special privilege, immune from that natural death which results from dissolution of soul and body. When he sinned, Adam lost the grace of God, his soul dying immediately to the supernatural life it gave; and also he at once forfeited any right to the privilege of immunity from natural bodily death in due course.

615. In Gen. III., 4, Satan said, "Ye shall not surely die."

Correct. Our first parents, therefore, had either to believe God, treating Satan as a liar; or else to believe Satan, treating God as a liar. They preferred the word of Satan, and became subject to the penalty of death in the sense I have explained.

616. Did not Rome get its doctrine of immortality from the word of Satan?

No. Such a conjecture would be as erroneous as that of the enemies of Christ who accused Him of casting out devils with the help of the devil.

617. Satan said men would not die.

The doctrine of immortality is not a denial of death in the sense Satan intended. The death God had threatened was the separation of the soul from His grace and friendship, and the later separation of the soul from the body. He did not threaten such a radical change in the very nature of the soul that it would cease to be immortal. Our denial that the soul will cease to exist is in no way based on Satan's denial of God's threat, and has no connection with it at all.

618. Job, c. XIV., declares that man is mortal.

Man, consisting of body and soul, is certainly subject to death. No one denies that man, as a composite being in this life, is mortal. All must die. But whilst we bury the body from which the soul has departed, the soul lives on in a state beyond our control. And the continued life of the soul does not render Job's statement false, nor does Job's statement render the doctrine of the soul's immortality false.

619. Job, XXXIII., 18-30, speaks of the soul as in danger of destruction.

The word "soul" is there used as a general expression for the complete living man still in this life; much as the distress signal S.0.S. is sometimes popularly interpreted as "Save Our Souls," meaning, "Save Our Lives." Or, again, as we might say, "There were 150 souls on board when the vessel sailed." To describe a complete thing by a part is quite a common figure of speech, as when we say, "So-and-so took sail for Europe." The passage you quote, therefore has no reference to the nature of the soul in itself; and no application whatever to the question as to whether it is immortal or not.

620. Psalm XXXIII., 19, says that the soul is subject to death.

The verse you mention says that the eye of the Lord is upon them that hope in Him, to deliver their souls from death and "to keep them alive in famine." The

last words should have shown you that the reference is to continued bodily life in this world, requiring the presence of the soul in the body. The text does not refer to the condition of the soul after death has separated it from the body.

621. Ecclesiastes, IX., 10, says, "Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest."

That is true. But the Sacred Author is warning us simply that death ends all our activities in this world. He is referring in no way to what occurs beyond the grave. He speaks as any normal man would speak in similar circumstances. Thus, immediately prior to those words he says, "This is thy labor which thou takest under the sun." He intends, therefore, that death will end all opportunities of activity so far as life this side of the grave is concerned. How true this is you will discover by going to a cemetery and inviting those buried there to assist you in some enterprise, or to benefit you by their advice and instruction. But to the condition of the soul in the next world to which it has gone, the text has no reference whatever. And any ambiguity you might like to imagine is removed by the very author you quote, for in Ch. XII., 7, of the same Book we read that, when a man dies, the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the "spirit to God who gave it." It is against all sound principles of interpretation to forsake passages quite clear in themselves for fantastic opinions based upon strained and forced meanings read into texts which fit in quite well with the clearer passages if taken reasonably.

622. The words in the text, "Whither thou goest" indicate that more than the body goes to the grave. It means man's whole being.

The personal pronoun is quite legitimately used without any implication concerning the future lot of the soul. If I were to say, "When I die, bury me in the family grave," no reasonable person could argue from that that I did not believe in the immortality and survival of the soul.

623. It seems to me that the dead lie unconscious in the grave until Christ's Second Coming.

St. Paul tells us that the thought of death was most attractive to him. Why? Was it that he might lie unconscious in the grave? No. It was that he might "be with Christ," which is far better than living on still in this world.

624. Isaiah X., 18, says that the glory of the forest shall be consumed "from the soul even to the flesh."

That is a typical Hebraism intending no more than the complete destruction of living things from the face of the earth in a given area. The text has no reference to the immortality of the soul of man. Without any notion of the sense of a passage some people have but to see the word soul, and at once they conclude that they have further evidence of what they want to believe. It is useless to quote passages whose sane and normal explanation does not touch the question of the soul's immortality against others which admit of no other explanation save that the soul is not subject to death as is the body.

625. Isaiah LIII., 12, says that Christ's soul "was poured out unto death."

Correct. But you will notice that His death is described as due to the separation of His soul from His body. When He had poured out His soul, His body remained lifeless on the Cross. If at the moment His soul left His body it ceased to exist, it was nothing. One does not pour out nothing. Also, when dying, Christ said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." He was commending something to His Father which was not suffering the fate of His body. It was His human and immortal soul.

626. Matt. X., 28, speaks of the destruction of both soul and body in hell.

In the passage you quote, Christ says, "Fear not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear them that can destroy both body and soul in hell." The first part of this text shows clearly that the death of the body inflicted by men does not involve the death of the soul. The soul, therefore, survives the death of the body, and is immortal. The second part of the text refers to the eternal and living death of all bodily comfort and of all the soul's fondest aspirations, which God will inflict on the wicked at the last judgment. According to Christ, this will mean continued consciousness in a never-ending state of misery where the worm of remorse dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. No wonder He warns us that this is the evil fate we should fear rather than a temporal death which affects the body only, and cannot wreck our eternity. The passage justifies, and does not militate against the doctrine that the soul is immortal.

627. Do you think the soul of David has survived and is in heaven?

I have no doubt at all as to that fact.

628. In Jn. III., 13, Christ says, "No man hath ascended into heaven."

That was strictly true when Christ spoke. By the sin of our first parents, heaven was closed against human souls. Christ Himself was the Eternal Son of God, who came to redeem mankind, and who opened heaven to men by His death, resurrection, and ascension. At His ascension He was the first in human form to enter heaven. With Him at the same time went the souls of the just who had died previously in God's grace and friendship. And good souls now who go from this world find their heavenly reward quite accessible to them. Thus Christ said, "I go to prepare a place for you that where I am you also may be." St. Paul, therefore, longed for death saying, "I desire to be with Christ, which is far better."

629. St. Peter said, "David ascended not into heaven."

The soul of David did not, and could not, enter heaven until Christ had paid the price of sin on Calvary, and had Himself entered heaven in His own glorified human nature. The fact that the soul of David did not go to heaven immediately when he died does not exclude his admission to heaven after Christ had opened heaven to men. Until then the soul of David was amongst those spirits to whom the still living soul of Christ went after His death on the Cross. 1 Pet. III., 18-19.

630. Rom. II., 7, tells us to seek for immortality. One does not seek for what he already possesses.

If you read the context from which you have taken your words, you will notice that St. Paul is speaking of God's judgment. He tells us that God is going to render to every man according to his deeds. And as this judgment is to take place after death, it follows that every soul, good or bad, will survive to experience that judgment. In verse 7 we are told that eternal life will be the reward of those who have sought "glory and honor and immortality." In verse 8 and verse 9 we are told that the unrighteous will meet with indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. The eternal life and the immortality, therefore, which will be the reward of the good, will be a share in the very happiness of God and in that life of glory which alone is fully deserving of the name of life. St. Paul takes the ordinary immortality of the soul for granted, and warns us to seek an immortality of happiness by a life of virtue, rather than prepare for ourselves an immortality of tribulation and anguish by our sins and vices.

631. Rom. VI., 23, tells us that eternal life is the gift of God.

The reference is to the life of eternal happiness as opposed to a life of eternal misery. The text has no application in a discussion of the soul's natural survival.

632. 1 Cor. XV., 53, tells us that "this mortal must put on immortality."

That text refers explicitly to the resurrection of the body. No one denies that the body is mortal. But it will rise a "spiritual body," says St. Paul, "and put on immortality" in order to share once more the life of the soul which is immortal by nature.

633. 1 Tim. VI., 16, says that "God alone hath immortality." The Catholic Church teaches that man is immortal. Who is right?

The difference you imagine between the two teachings does not exist. The text you quote from the Bible means that God alone is immortal by a supreme and uncreated right, and that He is the source of any immortality possessed by others. In the same way Christ said, "God alone is good." That cannot be used as an argument that no man can possibly be "good." As regards the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning man, you are again inaccurate. The Church teaches that man, in his present composite state, is mortal; and that every man will surely die insofar as the present union of soul and body is concerned. But, whilst death will mean the separation of soul and body, the soul will persist in existence in accordance with its own spiritual nature; and precisely because, as the Bible teaches, the soul is made in the image and likeness of God, one of whose characteristics is immortality. He, the Uncreated Immortal, creates souls immortal like unto Himself. He owes His own immortality to no one; we owe the immortality of our souls to Him. So it is quite true that God alone has immortality both in Himself, and to confer it on others by His creative activity. The passage you quote also refers to that supernatural destiny of a heavenly immortality, which makes men happy with the very happiness of God when they attain to the very Vision of Him. Thus St. Paul promises the sight of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who alone has immortality of Light inaccessible, and whom no man by his own natural powers has seen or could see. Such immortality in the sense of never-ending happiness is to be found in God alone.

634. 1 Jn. V., 12, says, "Only he that hath the Son hath eternal life."

All who attain to an eternal life of happiness will owe it to the merits of Christ and union with Christ. The text has no reference to the question of the soul's inherent and natural immortality.

635. Rev. XVI., 3, says that "the souls that were in the sea died."

The passage refers explicitly to troubles to come upon the earth and, therefore, to men still in this world. People are called souls by synecdoche, or a figure of speech by which a complete being is described by a principal part. So one will say that he intends "to take sail" for a distant place, intending the complete boat on which he will travel. The death referred to was the dissolution of soul and body, even as we say the 18 souls perished in a railway accident. Your text has no application to the question of the soul's immortality.

The Fact of Sin

636. To the modern mind your doctrine of original sin is but the old myth of Pandora's Box in a new dress.

The doctrine of original sin dates from the origin of humanity, hundreds of centuries before such legends as that of Pandora's Box were invented. But, granted original sin, it is most natural that vestiges of the primitive truth would find expression in just such stories. In whatever form various peoples have preserved the story of the original fall of man, the fact that they all have a tradition of original sin points to a common origin from which such a tradition could be drawn. And that common origin was not a myth. It was the actual fall of our first parents.

637. The idea that mankind has fallen is clearly a legend of ancient Hebrew literature. It finds no sympathy with modern scientific thought which holds that man has risen continuously from primitive beginnings.

One would be justified in saying that humanity hasn't risen very far; and that modern materialistic philosophy tends only to drag it down rather than to lift it to further heights. It is quite true that the account of the fall is contained in ancient Hebrew literature. But you beg the question when you declare it to be a legend, as if it may thus be dismissed as fiction. For the whole point at issue is as to whether it is fiction or not. It is for the critic to prove that it is fiction, not just to say so. Meantime, science has really nothing to say on the subject. For the fall of man was a fact of the moral order, which is beyond the scope of science.

638. Do you still believe in these days that man fell from some higher kind of existence?

I believe the Biblical truth that our first parents were endowed with a proportionate natural perfection, and that they were further enriched with additional spiritual gifts and privileges, I believe that by sin they lost these additional privileges, and gave rise to a posterity deprived of them, and prone also to moral weaknesses. This belief in no way conflicts with any scientific facts.

639. Surely there are some indications of original sin still available!

There are. If you deny original sin, you will find man a much greater mystery than original sin itself. It is fearfully difficult to understand the human race without admitting original sin; whilst the difficulty vanishes the moment we accept the doctrine. We know that God has revealed the doctrine, and by faith we accept it- the only reasonable thing to do. But reason alone points always in the direction of an original and inherited moral catastrophe. Nature does not know paradox; yet we have the human paradox. Our very miseries are our greatness because they proceed from our high aspirations; and our greatness is our misery because our high aspirations seek such miserable things. Meantime, we see inherent in man monstrous egotism, pride, covetousness, and iniquity. He who denies sin in himself is always denouncing it in others, and accusing God of not being either wise or good. We see in man the misery of a dethroned king. He is fallen from his true place, and cannot recover it. What is good in him is from his Creator; what is bad is the unhappy effect of his fall.


640. So you believe that the very first result of all man's wonderful gifts was a fall; in fact, such a terrific crash that it has resounded through all succeeding centuries!

We do not believe that a fall was the very first result. The very first result was the service of God with the initial perfections God gave to our first parents. There is no indication in the Bible that they fell immediately from their state of innocence. However, we know that eventually they did fall from a state of supernatural grace and holiness into a state of sin. But this was not the result of their gifts. It was a result of a misuse of the powers conferred upon them. By the very gifts which were a condition of its possibility, they could have avoided moral evil. However, our first parents fell into sin, and original sin has been transmitted to all men through the centuries.

641. If man was made in the image and likeness of God, he must have been perfect. How could the perfect fall?

When we say that man is made in the image and likeness of God we do not mean that man is a perfect replica of God. We mean that he is truly like God insofar as his soul is spiritual, and endowed with intelligence and free will. And he is relatively perfect in these things according to the demands of his own created, human, and finite level. How could the perfect fall? The absolutely perfect could not fall. Thus God, infinitely perfect and supremely free, could not fall into imperfect or sinful conduct. He is not free to sin precisely because He must be free from evil or the possibility of evil. But man has a freedom of will which is associated, not with infinite intelligence, but with a finite intelligence. And since the finite intelligence cannot see all aspects of everything at once, it is possible for man to concentrate upon one aspect rather than another. Thus a man can concentrate on the advantages of $500 which he has an opportunity to steal, and omit to give his attention to the aspect of dishonesty. It is obvious that, if he has free will, sin is possible. Granted an object with both a good and a bad aspect, he who has free will can choose to dwell upon an alluring aspect, to the exclusion of all other aspects. Your difficulty would be insoluble in the case of an infinitely and absolutely perfect being; but not where only a relatively perfect creature is concerned.

642. God is infinitely perfect, and omnipotent.


643. Then how could He make anything evil or imperfect?

He could not make anything morally evil or wicked. Nor, from the merely physical point of view could He directly make anything positively imperfect. Positively and directly His work is always good. But He can grant to some creatures a few good qualities, and to other creatures a greater number of good qualities. Each thing will then be relatively perfect in its own degree and according to His plan. For example, a cabbage may be relatively perfect as a cabbage, but it is imperfect in comparison with an animal which has the additional powers of sensation and locomotion, and still more imperfect in comparison with man who possesses intelligence. Although God is infinitely perfect, therefore, He can distribute created perfections in varying degrees in order to secure a gradation and harmony of different beings in the universe. Lesser creatures are imperfect in comparison with higher creatures, but they are perfect in their own kind and degree. But you are concerned chiefly with the problem of moral imperfection, not physical limitations. So let us turn to your next remark.



644. Man was not created perfect, otherwise he would not have disobeyed in the Garden of Eden.

Man was created perfect in the sense that he was all that God intended a man to be. Of course, as a creature, he necessarily had the limitations proper to all creatures as such. But you wrongly argue from his disobedience to some radical imperfection in his nature which should not have been there. As a matter of fact, the disobedience of which man was guilty was due, not to an imperfection, but to a perfection over and above the perfections of lesser creatures. It was due to freedom of will. That is man's great dignity. Free will, however, whilst it gives us the power of self-chosen good actions also carries with it the risk of self-chosen bad actions. But in man, as he was created by God, there were no implanted tendencies to evil, and he was given the knowledge of what ought to be avoided. But there was no physical compulsion to choose either good or evil. That had to be his own choice. And, despite God's warning, man chose evil. This misuse of freedom was not due to the fact that he was not created perfect. It was rendered possible precisely because he was given the perfection of self-determination. The abuse of that perfection was not God's responsibility, but man's own responsibility.

645. If it is just as easy for God to create perfection as imperfection why did He create us imperfect?

God did not create us imperfect. Had He not given us free will, we would have been less perfect than He actually made us. You are confusing the abuse of a good gift with the possession of that good gift. The possession of free will is a perfection. The abuse of free will is the imperfection, but God neither created nor caused that abuse. You may say that God at least gave us the ability to make a bad choice. But you must look at it from the other viewpoint also. God gave us the ability to make a good choice, to exercise a moral virtue of which irrational creatures are not capable. And He intended that we should freely make that good choice, warning us against an evil choice, and forbidding it. Since we were not obliged to make an evil choice, but forbidden it, and warned against it, the responsibility for any evil choice made rests with man himself. We cannot shift the blame from ourselves to God.

646. You said it was a fallacy to conclude that God was responsible for man's fall into sin if the creation story be true.


647. At least my proposition has a basis of reasoning behind it.

It had. But you were reasoning from wrong premises. And if your logical process is sound, you can arrive only at a wrong conclusion from wrong premises.

648. It conforms with the law of Universal Causation.

The invoking of the law of universal causation is one thing. The application of that law to the wrong cause is quite another.

649. You say that the cause of man's sin was man's own free will?



650. You forget that there must first have been forces operating upon this intelligence or free will itself.

Not for a moment do I forget that some object must be presented as attractive in some way before a choice is made. But whilst I admit that no deliberate choice is made without a motive, I deny that the motive necessitates the choice.

651. These forces, I submit, were the natural instincts of man, implanted by God in his very nature.

I do not deny that there were natural appetites in man which were stimulated by the attractive object wrongly chosen. But I do deny that the responsive instincts compelled the will to make the evil choice of pleasures forbidden by God. God would not forbid what man must necessarily do.

652. Of course, I know that you will say that this is not Christian teaching, because Christian belief is that man was created perfect, and could not, therefore, have had such natural instincts.

You are mistaken as to the Christian belief. Man would not have been perfect as a man unless he had natural instincts.

653. Where, then, do the animal instincts which you cannot deny exist today deep in the nature of every one of us, spring from?

They are implanted in us by God. Man consists of a soul and a body. His soul is spiritual, intelligent, and endowed with free will; and it is made in the image and likeness of God. His body is material, sensitive, and animal; and from the very beginning it was endowed with instincts proper to an animal nature. Those instincts are not evil in themselves.

654. An uncaused phenomenon is unthinkable.

I agree.

655. Since you do not believe in the organic evolution of man from lower forms of life, you must inevitably trace the cause of man's nature back to the First Great Cause, God.

Correct. But you are not making much headway. What you have to prove is that animal instinct necessarily impels the will to act in accordance with it. You are not making the required distinctions between the sensitive bodily nature of man with its sensitive appetites, and the intelligent spiritual soul with its rational appetite for the things of the spirit. A child may profess to see a sentence written on a blackboard. But it may not have the least understanding of what the sentence means. It sees only chalk marks with bodily eyes, a sense of sight possessed equally by a dog or any other animal. When the teacher throws light on the meaning of the sentence, the child cries, "Now I see." The child saw before, with eyes only. Now it sees with its mind. Human beings have two classes of knowledge, sense knowledge, and rational knowledge. And to each type of knowledge corresponds an appetite power, animal passion, and the rational will. The will is not compelled to follow animal instinct. Thus a child may like cakes yet be forbidden to touch them. The sight of the cakes may stimulate an animal craving for them, and awaken strong imaginations of the pleasure to be got from eating them. But the intelligence may perceive a different kind of goodness in the virtue of obedience. It is free to omit due consideration of this aspect, concentrate only on animal cravings, and choose to eat the cakes. Or it can choose to concentrate on the good of obedience, and put aside all thought of disobediently following its natural instincts to eat the cakes. What you have to prove is that the child is not free to resist its lower animal appetites.

656. You say it is a fallacy to urge that, on the creation hypothesis, God is responsible for man's fall into sin.

I do. For man had no evil propensities as he commenced his career. He had a twofold nature, spiritual in his soul, material in his animal body. The body, being sensitive, was naturally subject to sensations, or instinctive feelings. These instinctive feelings or natural appetites were in no way evil in themselves. Nothing that God implanted in human nature could be bad in itself. But the natural bodily instincts were subject to the control of the soul. By his intelligence man knew clearly how his instincts ought to be controlled and regulated according to their true purpose and God's designs. By his will, man was well able to exercise due control. His passions did not control him. He controlled them. But man's will was free. God gave him the perfection of liberty, that he might not be a mere automaton, but live according to the self-chosen virtue which constitutes man's real dignity. God forbade any evil choice which would be an abuse of this freedom of will; but He would not compel man to be good. Despite his ability to do well, and despite God's warning, man disobeyed God. And God was not responsible for that sin, which man need not have committed, which God forbade, and against which God had warned him.

657. Your difficulty lies in trying to reconcile belief in the entire freedom of the will with a conception of justice in relation to God and His creatures.

You seem inclined to deny both the justice of God, and the freedom of the will. From both viewpoints that would land you in far greater difficulties than any that confront me. But, before I continue, I must clear up your misconception as to my own position. We were discussing the sin of the first man, who possessed human nature as God created it. But now you have in mind human nature as possessed by man subsequently to that first sin. You must remember that, because of that first sin, we are children of a fallen race. Our natures are warped to some extent. For when man's soul would not be controlled by God, he found disorder in his own nature, bodily passions tending to revolt against the control of the will. This did not destroy the power of free will, but it made its exercise more difficult; and diminished the limits of responsibility, according to the duration and intensity of the interference with freedom of choice. I do not, therefore, maintain the entire freedom of the will. The degree of freedom varies in different individuals, and in the same individual under different conditions. But this does not justify an entire negation of free will. Virtue and vice as such are confined to the will. There can be no sin except in a will freely choosing to do an evil it is not compelled to do. And there are many evils deliberately chosen by men which they were free not to choose.

658. All men are horn equal is a fine-sounding phrase, but it is not a scientific fact.

I agree. Both heredity and environment give men a very unequal start in life.

659. Surely it is unfair for God to judge a man horn and raised in the slums on the same level of judgment as a man brought up at the feet of Christ!

That would be unfair. God, therefore, will not do so.

660. Yet both these men, you say, are perfectly free to choose what moral path they will take.

I do not remember ever having said that. I have maintained the general proposition that human beings are endowed with free will. In disputing that you appeal to particular cases which do not prove the universal negative that no human being has free will; also you omit my allowance for the warped nature of man since the first sin brought disorder in its wake.

661. I deny that both these men are perfectly free to choose which moral path they will take.

So do I. But granted relative limitations in the exercise of freedom, I maintain that insofar as each is genuinely free to refuse individual immoral decisions, he is guilty of sin before God, and personally responsible for it. And I deny that he is never sufficiently free in any individual decisions as to be guilty of sin, unless he be an imbecile devoid of the use of reason.

662. You must admit that the slums of big cities all over the world literally breed corruption.

I do. But that does not affect my contention that human beings as human beings are endowed with free will. It proves only that some human beings in some circumstances will have greater difficulty in exercising their free will than others; a proposition I have never denied.

663. It takes an exceptional mind to rise above such surroundings.

He would certainly be the exceptional man who could entirely resist the influence of such surroundings. But I deny that any man, provided he be sane, is never able at any time to resist any of the evil influences around him. And if he is ever able on any occasion to exercise freedom of choice, the thesis stands that human beings are endowed with free will.

664. Under such a system the word justice becomes a mockery.

If God judged men solely upon their actual conduct, without making any allowance for factors mitigating responsibility, justice would be a mockery. But God does not judge men like that. God will never blame any man for what is really involuntary. And where evil conduct is due to one's voluntary choice, God will make every allowance for degrees of volition. Semi-deliberate actions will be less guilty in His sight than fully deliberate actions. All the obstacles to a free choice in a right direction will be taken into consideration, ignorance, external violence, inherited evil tendencies, vicious habits, personally acquired antecedently to each sin to be judged, physical and nervous health, fears, imaginary or real, influences of environment, all will be weighed in the scales of justice. And that justice will not be a mockery. There is nothing in your letter which warrants a denial of free will in man. In fact, deny free will, and justice becomes a mockery. For then a man in the most favorable circumstances and environment is no more to be blamed for evil conduct than the one in the most unfavorable environment.

665. Consider this: First you teach us that God is wise and good.

I do.

666. Then you blandly assert that He is not responsible for the welfare of His creatures,

I do not. He is responsible for their welfare. He is not responsible for their sins. God fulfills all that His responsibility demands, a responsibility due, of course, to His own justice and wisdom and goodness. He has endowed us with all the good gifts we possess, including the dignity of intelligence and free will. He endows us with a moral sense or conscience to warn us of the evils we must avoid. He will see to it that everyone is given sufficient grace for salvation, so that no soul will be lost save through its own deliberate fault. In fact, He will see to it that multitudes are given sufficient grace to repent and be saved despite the fact that they have deserved to be lost through their own deliberate sins.

667. You teach that, for millions of human beings, it would have been better never to have been born, because they are doomed to eternal suffering in hell!

I do not teach that. The Catholic Church condemns as heresy the doctrine that any single soul is doomed to eternal suffering. The only destiny human souls are meant by God to attain is a destiny of eternal happiness; and every single soul is able to attain eternal happiness. But man's destiny is in his own keeping. If he goes to hell, it will be due to a choice of evil which he is not compelled to make, for which he is fully responsible, which God forbids, and of which he does not repent before death. A man cannot be said to be doomed to a disaster he need never encounter. Likewise, even granted that those who do choose to lose their souls are not compelled to do so, the Catholic Church has no teaching as to the number of men who will do so. She teaches that man is endowed with free will; that God gives to every man sufficient grace for salvation; that man is capable of resisting that grace and of losing his soul; that if he does lose his soul he will justly reap the fruit of his own evil choice by eternal suffering in hell. How many will make that final evil choice is known only to God. But since the choice can be made, it is each man's duty to avoid making it, repenting of past sins, and endeavoring to comply with the requirements of virtue. And so the Church contents herself with the advice to each man which Christ gave when He said, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, if he suffers the loss of his soul? Seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice."

668. Pardon my insistence on this subject, but it seems to me to be of paramount importance.

It is, precisely because human beings are endowed with free will, and can, therefore, decide for themselves what shall be their eternal destiny. But if there be no such thing as free will, then the problem is of comparatively little importance; for it's a waste of time to worry about the inevitable. However, the matter is important; and for that reason I have given such lengthy treatment to your letter. I can only hope that my treatment of it has clarified some aspects of the question even if it has not yet removed all your difficulties. I would be rather astonished if it did remove all your difficulties, for I haven't succeeded yet in removing all my own. But I know that free will is a fact despite all the residual problems it leaves for the human mind, even as I know that wireless transmission is a fact though it teems with mysteries. But ten thousand difficulties concerning a fact do not make us doubt the fact. It is a fact that God is just. It is a fact that men have free will. If we cannot reconcile those two facts to our entire satisfaction, the only reasonable thing to do is accept the limitations of the human mind, and not begin tampering with the facts in order to get an answer we like, whether it be true or not.

669. Was the original sin the eating of the material fruit?

No. The eating of the forbidden fruit was an action which was the outcome of an interior disposition of rebellion against God's will.

670. If our first parents rebelled by commiting adultery, how were they to propagate the race as commanded by God without falling into sin?

The first sin was not the sin of adultery. Had Adam and Eve never sinned, they would have propagated children by the ordinary law of physical marital union which prevails today. The first sin could not have been one of sensuality. Man consists of body and soul; and it is clear that the soul, noble and spiritual, is meant to control the material body and its sensitive passions. Now before sin came, man was just as he ought to be. In our first parents then the body was perfectly subject to, and controlled by the soul. Bodily passions were subject to reason and will, and could not get out of control until the soul itself had lost that control. It was only after the soul itself had rebelled against God that passions in turn rebelled against the soul. When man would not be controlled by God, he found that he had great difficulty in controlling his own lower passions.

671. Perhaps God intended Adam and Eve to enjoy a spiritual union only without any physical relationship.

That cannot be admitted. God does nothing in vain; and He intended the proper use of all the powers with which He endowed human beings. Man is not merely spiritual. He is a composite being, consisting of both a spiritual soul and a material body. Moreover, God created both sexes, male and female, intending their union as a means towards cooperating with Him in the work of creation. There is nothing evil, but only that which is beautiful, in what God originally intended; and until sin came to pervert the right order which prevailed, quite normal relationships would have existed between Adam and Eve.

672. If the higher powers of our first parents had perfect control over their lower faculties until they rebelled against God, how could they rebel in the first place?

Because they had the limitations of finite intelligence, and free will. When Satan tempted them, two goods, the one real and the other only apparent, were put before them. The real good of which God had told them was obedience to their Creator. The apparent good proposed by Satan was independence of God, and self-sufficiency. "Do this," said Satan, "and you will know even as God knows." The limitations of their intelligence meant that the more they concentrated their attention on one of these aspects the more they would take it off the other. Now their wills were free. No outside pressure inclined them to the one side rather than to the other. They could have chosen to obey God despite all the suggestions of the devil. But they omitted due attention to God's command. They allowed their minds to become absorbed by the apparent advantages proposed by Satan. And from their original equilibrium they inclined more and more towards the fascinating prospect held out by the devil until it seemed far the better. In the end they actually chose the forbidden thing-with consequent sin. Then, when the will had gone wrong, all else went wrong; and they experienced for the first time the disorderly rebellion of sensuality and passion; and shame overwhelmed them. The first sin, therefore, was one of proud independence and disobedience in the higher faculties. It was possible because of the limitations of the human mind, and the possession of freedom of will. It became actual because of an abuse of that freedom. And this led to a derangement of the whole human personality, including ill effects upon both soul and body-a derangement which, in all its complexity, has become the inheritance of all children born of our guilty race.

673. Do you believe the Bible when it says that sorrow and pain are due to original sin?

Yes. Prior to the first sin men were free from suffering.

674. But animals also suffer. What sin did they commit?

It is true that animals suffer. But the Catholic Church does not teach that all the pain in this world of both human beings and of animals is due to original sin. A certain amount of pain is natural to living sensitive beings. Even God could not create sensitive beings naturally devoid of sensations. And, granted sensations, some of them are bound to be unpleasant, if only from climatic changes. But in many ways animals suffered before our first parents sinned at all. St. Thomas Aquinas denies that there was no suffering amongst animals before the first sin of mankind. "There are those who say," he wrote, "that animals which are now wild and kill other animals for food would have been meek and gentle, not only towards men, but towards other animals. But this is unreasonable. For by the sin of man the nature of animals was not changed. Those animals which now live on the flesh of other animals would not then have lived on vegetation." We do not teach, then, that the sufferings of animals are due to the sin of man. By a special act of His providence, however, God exempted human beings from any unpleasant sensations which would otherwise have been normal to their sensitive natures. And they would have continued to enjoy this exemption had they not sinned. This privilege animals did not enjoy. Unhappily, our first parents did sin, lost their exemption, and encountered the sufferings as a penalty. To refuse the Christian doctrine one would have to prove, not that animals suffer, but that God did not exempt human beings from such sufferings; and that they did not forfeit this exemption by their sin. No man will ever succeed in proving that God granted no such exemption to our first parents, and that they did not lose it by sin.

675. Do you believe that death is a punishment for sin?

That human beings have to die is a punishment for sin. We have God's word for that, and we could not have a better authority. Man is, of course, by virtue of his material and bodily nature liable to death. No one denies that. But by a special privilege man was granted immunity from the necessity of having to die. By God's special power man was to be immortal both in soul and body. This privilege was not natural, but supernatural. In Gen. II., 17, God warned our first parents that they would lose this privilege of immunity from death should they sin; and in Gen. III., 19, He told them that, as a result of their sin, they would return to the dust from which their bodies were made.

676. Animals must have died long before men existed.

They did. But no claim is made that animals ever received the privilege of immunity from death.

677. Did the fall of our first parents make any difference in our relations with material things?

Yes. Henceforth men found in themselves an inordinate tendency to devote themselves to material things beyond the due limits dictated by God's laws and by sound reason. The body is of the earth, but the soul is spiritual, made in the image and likeness of God. The soul is obviously intended, as the nobler element in man, to dominate and control the material body. And its normal tendency should be to do so. But, since the fall, man's nature is not normal. It is warped to some extent. And instead of the soul lifting man to God, the body only too often succeeds in dragging man down to the mud of mere materialism. Since the fall, therefore, man has a more difficult fight in his efforts to resist the fascination of merely material things.

678. Catholics speak of the mystery of original sin. But is it not a mystery of injustice that we should be born in a state of sin at all?

No. Remember that millions of men, learned and holy, have reverenced this mystery; and no unbeliever has loved justice as they. But let us take the problem: Injustice is the depriving of a right. But we had no right to be born in a state of grace and of supernatural dignity and immunities. The very word grace means gratuitous. Can the son of a poor man complain that it was unjust that he was not born of a rich man? Our first parents fell from a state of supernatural wealth compared with which a merely natural state is poverty indeed. And we were born in a state of spiritual bankruptcy. Original conditions are imposed upon all of us because of our fathers. We may regret inherited disabilities, but we cannot say that they are unjust. We have not lost what was due to us. It is curious that unbelievers scoff at the idea of grace and of the supernatural, insisting that everything is natural only; yet they worry over what they call the injustice of our being born without superfluous privileges.


679. Are the effects of original sin merely negative?

The chief effect is the privation of grace. But other effects followed, as if heirs to great wealth, losing their fortune, fell into other evils owing to an environment for which they were neither intended nor suited.

680. How could I sin in Adam? My responsibility alone deserves penalties.

Original sin is not strictly speaking an individual responsibility. It is a sin of human nature which is ours as sharers in that human nature. Nor, strictly speaking, are you punished. But a member of a guilty race cannot expect to be treated as if he belonged to a faithful race.

681. Do you base your doctrine of the transmission of original sin upon the text where God says that He will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon their children?

No. That text does not really refer to original sin. God said, "I am the Lord, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon their children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands to them that love Me and keep My commandments." The passage is really a warning against parental bad example. Evil parents leave a legacy of scandal, their children imitating their vices. And so powerful a force for evil is such parental bad example that it will scarcely die out under three or four generations. As the punishment of sin will fall upon all who hate God, such parents will be punished not only personally, but in their very children. If the children sin also, it is not because they are compelled to do so. Only the generations that hate God will be punished. God will show mercy to all who try to love and serve Him, even though they be children of evil parents.

682. Was it just to threaten to punish children for the sins of their fathers?

In the sense in which 1 have already explained, the text rather predicts a family influence than conveys a threat. Human beings are not only isolated individuals. There is a bond of solidarity between parents and children. Parents live over again in their children; and even in ordinary affairs parents and children are affected by the family fortunes. God merely told the Jews that the same principle would affect their spiritual state. It was a telling way of bringing home to the Jews the consequences of their sins. It struck them where their natural love was strongest-in their offspring. And, as should be clear, it was a warning to the parents rather than to their children. God also made it clear that, by their own fidelity, children could avert an evil inheritance. For by the Prophet Ezechiel He says that, if a child sees all his father's sins, and is afraid, and refuses to do the like, then such a child shall not suffer for the sins of his father. And if men say, "Why hath not this son borne the iniquity of his father?, it is because the son hath wrought justice and hath kept all My commandments."

683. If we punished the sons of criminals because their parents erred, would that be just or merciful?

No. But that is not a parallel case. For you are introducing, not a relationship between the Creator and the creature, but a relationship between creature and creature. We are not God. Also our punishment of the children of criminals would not be by the withdrawal of supernatural privileges from them and from their parents. Your difficulties are based on mistaken notions of what the fall and punishment of the human race really means.


684. When we turn to God's efforts to save the world, we find His efforts almost hypocritical, if Catholic dogma be true.

Such a verdict is the utterance of folly itself.

685. Even then Christ made no provision for innocent children who die without Baptism.

Independently of the death of Christ, God will make provision for them in perfect harmony with His justice, and in a way which will in no point conflict with His mercy.

686. Their only sin is in being descendants of Adam.

No one teaches that it is a sin to be a descendant of Adam. The only sin of such children is that which they inherit from Adam. That sin is not a positive personal sin, but a privation of grace, or of a gratuitous supernatural gift never due to human nature. And to be without a gift to which one never had a right involves no injustice.

687. For this sin the just God prevents them from ever seeing Him, and from ever attaining perfect happiness!

That is not true. God no more prevents them from seeing Him than He can be said to prevent kittens from flying because He did not give them wings. Is God unjust to kittens because He does not make them flying foxes? Would they be justified in bitter complaints against His justice because He has not endowed them with a power with which He could have endowed them? If kittens cannot fly, it is their own natural incapability which prevents them from flying. And if unbap-tized infants cannot see God after their death as God sees Himself, it is their own natural incapability which prevents them from doing so. They are simply without the superadded gift of being capable of operations proper to God, and retain merely the capability of operations proper to human nature. Again, you are wrong in saying that they are prevented from attaining perfect happiness. They do not attain the perfect happiness made possible to those who participate by Baptism in the supernatural and gratuitous destiny purchased for us by Christ. But they attain a perfect happiness proportionate to their nature and all its legitimate aspirations. A kitten can be perfectly happy as a kitten, even though it does not enjoy the additional happiness of flying which is the prerogative of animals endowed with wings.

688. This I consider a merciless injustice.

No trace of injustice enters into this matter. Unbaptized infants will bless God for all eternity in their perfect natural happiness. Their very existence is due to God's mercy; for that in itself was a gratuitous gift which justice did not demand. And their eternal natural happiness is assured. It may be on a lower plane than is possible to human nature elevated by divine grace. But it is still a very great gift, filling the souls of those children with gratitude to God. If I give five dollars to a beggar, and later on ten dollars to another beggar, could the first beggar accuse me of "merciless injustice" for having been good to him to a less extent than to the other?

689. Would it not have been more merciful to give no man free will, and so to insure everybody's eternal happiness?

It would not have been more merciful to deprive all men of that noblest gift which makes their true dignity, and makes it possible for them to attain an eternal supernatural destiny. It is because unbaptized infants have not attained to the use of free will that they cannot gain, even by baptism of desire, that supernatural destiny. And, therefore, it is because they have not attained to the use of free will that they are provided with eternal happiness on a lower plane than that possible to those able to make a choice. And you call this provision for them "merciless injustice." Now you suggest that it would have been more merciful for God to have reduced all men to a similar condition.

Nature and Work of Christ

690. In what year and on what day was Christ born?

It is probable that He was born on December 25th, our present Christmas Day. I say that this is probable, because there is really no strict proof in favor of the exact day. Traditionally, we can say that there is much more for it than against it. There is more difficulty as regards the exact year. It is certain that Christ was born after the Roman year 747, and before the Roman year 749. That is, He was born between 5 and 7 years before the usually accepted year 1 of the Christian era.

691. Whence came the mistake concerning the year of Christ's birth?

From the mistakes of those who originated our present calendar. In the year 525, Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk, decided to draw up an exact calendar for the Christian era. He calculated that Christ was born in the year 753 after the founding of Rome. But it is certain that he was mistaken. For Herod, who persecuted Christ and slaughtered the innocents, died in April, 750. Herod could not have persecuted Christ if our Lord was not born until 3 years after Herod's death! Again, Herod was in Jerusalem when he sought to destroy Christ, yet left Jerusalem for good in November, 749. Therefore, our Lord must have been born by then. Moreover, Herod made diligent inquiry of the Wise Men as to the circumstances of our Lord's birth, and decided to kill all the male children of two years and under. Evidently, then, our Lord was at least one year old, or even perhaps 18 months. If we deduct two years from 749 we get back to 747. If Christ was born in 747, after the founding of Rome, instead of 753 as Dionysius thought, He was born six years before our present mistaken calendar supposes. It need scarcely be said that the uncertainty of human calculations as to time in no way affects the fact of the birth of Christ.

692. Why did Christ refrain from preaching and instructing mankind until He was thirty years of age?

Our Lord's life, from the moment He commenced it, was a practical instruction for all time. But our Lord did not undertake the public preaching of His religion until He was about thirty years of age. There were several reasons for this. He wished to sanctify home life by His long submission to Joseph and Mary, setting the example of obedience to parents, and showing the supreme importance of domestic society. What home life is the national life will be. Again, our Lord wished to do and to teach; and, therefore, He gave years to the exemplification of virtue before He preached it. He wished also to be faithful to the Jewish Law, which did not permit one to teach religion until 30 years of age, which was regarded as the age of maturity of thought and judgment. Christ would not give the Jews the excuse to reject Him on the score that He was under the legal age of teachers in religious matters.

693. Is it not true that there are no references to the Life of Jesus in the Gospels from the ages of twelve to thirty?

That is not quite true. St. Luke tells us that Jesus went down to Nazareth, and that He was subject to Joseph and Mary. The Greek word used by St. Luke implies that He was continuously subject to them.

694. Would not that hear out the contention that He was in India between the ages of twelve and thirty, learning the Buddhist religion, and getting the ideas He later preached in Palestine?

St. Luke's assurance that He went down to Nazareth and continued there in subjection to Joseph and Mary certainly does not bear out the notion that He went off to India. Nor is there a trace of evidence that He did. And most certainly Christ neither preached Buddhistic doctrines, nor derived His teachings from Buddhism in any shape or form. Christ said simply, "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me." To the Apostles He said, "All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you." He did not say, "All things that I have heard from the Buddhist monks." Again He said to Nicodemus, "No man hath ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven ... how will you believe if I speak to you heavenly things?" He did not say "Indian" things. Christ's character merits credence. The accusation that He preached Buddhism denies His veracity; and not only is there no evidence for it; it is against the evidence that does exist.

695. The doctrines of the Sermon on the Mount were part of the Buddhist religion before Christ was born.

That is not really true. Religion is natural to man as well as a conscience dictating natural ethics. The moral aspirations of men will, therefore, lead to certain similar ethical principles. But to construct a journey to India, and to picture Christ sitting at the feet of Buddhist teachers on a few vague similarities is fanciful in the extreme; and above all, when the dissimilarities are far more significant. In reality the moral teachings of Buddhism are nothing like those of the Sermon on the Mount. Such good and natural ideas as exist in Buddhism bear only a superficial likeness to the doctrine of Christ. Christ taught supernatural virtue to be exercised with the help of God's grace, and from motives of pure love of God. Buddhism knows nothing of this. It teaches natural virtue only, from motives of self-love, or merely natural sympathy. There is nothing in Buddhistic teaching which surpasses the natural ingenuity of man; and the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount is entirely different from anything in Buddhism. St. Matthew records that, when Christ finished speaking, the "people were in admiration at His doctrine, for He was teaching them as one having power, and not as the Scribes and Pharisees." And we can equally say, "not as the Buddhists." Christ's doctrine in itself, and in the manner in which He taught it, and in the source He claimed for it, rules out any possibility of its derivation from Buddhism.

696. Was not Christ mistaken in many of His teachings?

Christ was God in human form; and God does not make mistakes.

697. The Gospels show that Christ thought the end of the world at hand, and that it would occur during the lifetime of some of His hearers.

The Gospels show just the opposite. Asked when the end of the world would come, Christ expressly said that He would give no information on that point. "Of that hour and day," He said, "no man knoweth. No, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." When He said "nor the Son," He meant that Son as talking to those around Him; i. e., the Son in human form. The time when the end of the world would occur was not part of His message to mankind. He taught that judgment will come unexpectedly, deliberately leaving it uncertain as to when it would happen. However, He implies that it would not soon arrive-certainly not before the death of His immediate hearers. When He commissioned the Apostles to go and to teach all nations, likening His Church to a slowly growing tree, He knew that there would be time for all these things; and He promised to be with His Church all days, even till the consummation of the world. He could not have spoken like that had He thought the end of the world to be close at hand.

698. What is the Catholic doctrine on the sinlessness of Jesus?

Both that He was without sin of any kind, and that He was absolutely incapable of sin. That necessarily follows from the Catholic doctrine that He was truly God, and could never cease to be God.

699. Was the temptation of Christ a matter of routine, or was Satan un-aware that he was dealing with an impeccable nature?

Satan was obviously unaware that Jesus was the very Son of God in human form. He would not have tempted Him had he known that. But he at least knew that God had endowed Him with supernatural power, that Jesus was perhaps the Messiah, and that he himself had all to fear if Jesus used this power according to God's will. So he tried at least to induce Jesus to violate God's will. The temptation was permitted, even though Christ was impeccable, not as a matter of mere routine, but for our instruction. We are taught that, no matter how holy we may be, we cannot expect to be free from temptation; and Christ gives us an example how to behave when actually tempted. Moreover, by undergoing the temptation He fills us with confidence in His mercy, that He should deign to share our temptations; and also, by His victory, He merits for us the grace to overcome our own trials.

700. If Jesus was quite incapable of sin, it was no real temptation. Yet Hebrews IV., 15, tells us that "We have not a high priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities; but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin."

Jesus could not sin; yet the temptation was real. You will say, "But how can that be?" It could be a non-use of His divine power on the part of Jesus to the extent of allowing His human nature to experience quite natural cravings, even as He allowed that human nature to endure the sufferings of the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and even the sense of dereliction on the cross. By calling on His divine power, Christ could have spared Himself those sufferings, but He did not. In the temptation He permitted His lower and created nature a distressing struggle between the adherence of His human will to the will of God, and the satisfaction to be found in yielding to what Satan proposed. The struggle was never allowed to get out of bounds, but it was endured. Though Jesus could not have consented, He encountered the suggestion of attractions, and experienced them as attractions, even as the Saints who could but do not consent, or sinners who do consent. And the deliberate conforming of His human will to the divine will was not less violent because it had to be, than it would otherwise have been.

701. Who, believer or unbeliever, can prove the sinlessness of Jesus?

Unbelievers desire to prove that He was not sinless. But any believer who knows how to read can prove from Sacred Scripture the sinlessness of Jesus. The Gospels put Christ before us as a flawless character, supremely pure and holy, with no consciousness of sin, uttering no words of repentance, and seeking no forgiveness. He is the Savior of sinners who need salvation, not one of them. He could say to His most bitter enemies, "Which of you can convince me of sin?" It was written of Him before His birth, "He shall save His people from their sins." Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, St. Peter wrote of Him in his first Epistle, "He did no sin." To the Corinthians St. Paul wrote, "He knew no sin." St. John did not hesitate to say in his first Epistle, "In Him was no sin." Outside the Catholic Church many professing Christians deny the divinity of Christ, speaking of Him as though He were a mere man, albeit the most perfect of men. But, having dragged Christ down to the merely natural level, they are now going further, and declaring that He was also subject to sin just as other sinful men, even though not so tainted as the rest. And still they do not blush to call themselves Christians. They like the name, though they reject the religion.

702. Fundamentalists regard it as essential to Christianity to believe that Christ is the Divine Son of God.

That is undoubtedly an essential teaching of the Christian religion.

703. I have to qualify my agreement with regard to the interpretation of the meaning of the word divine.

The qualification you introduce is such that you completely withdraw all agreement with those who maintain the Divinity of Christ in the truly Christian sense of the word.

704. I do not believe that Christ was the Divine Son of God in a way utterly outside the possibility of attainment by every other son of God,

In that case you do not believe in Christian revelation. For Christ is the Eternal Son of God by divine and spiritual generation. He was begotten, not made. We merely human beings are created, and the adoptive children of God. Could any ordinary man ever attain to the dignity of Christ whom St. John tells us to have existed in eternity as the Word of God, the Word who was with God, and who was God? Can any ordinary man say that he descended from heaven, as Christ declared Himself to have done; or assert with any trace of truth, "Before Abraham was made, I am"? When St. Peter said to Christ, "Thou art the Son of the living God," he used that expression in a sense that could never apply to anyone else. The Jews were quite familiar with the expression "sons of God." St. Peter needed no special revelation from God to apply that expression to Christ. But he did need a revelation from God to perceive that Jesus was the Eternal Son of God in human form, and our Lord therefore said to him, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father who is in heaven." Matthew XVI., 17. St. Peter had discerned that Jesus was the Son of God in the unique sense of being God the Son. In refusing to regard faith in Christ to this extent as essential to Christianity, you reject Christianity in favor of yet one more purely natural religion ranking with all others devised by mere man.

705. How can one prove that Jesus Christ is truly God?

By His character, work, and claims. He perfectly fulfilled the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. His life was one of more than human virtue and holiness. He taught a doctrine obviously of heavenly rather than of earthly origin. He wrought miracles, including even that of His own resurrection from the grave. He established the Catholic Church which has outlived empires and human institutions against tremendous opposition, betrayals from within, and persecution from without. He definitely claimed to be God; yet was neither insane nor a liar, for no one could doubt His wisdom and veracity. And He has retained a perpetual vitality and power, winning a deeply personal love from millions of human hearts through thousands of years-a phenomenon unparalleled elsewhere.

706. It is true that one cannot doubt the wisdom and the veracity of Christ. But one can doubt whether He really claimed to be God.

One cannot reasonably doubt that. In the Gospel of St. John X., 30, we find Christ saying, "I and the Father are one." The Jews clearly understood Him, and took up stones to stone Him to death. "For which of my good works will you stone me?" asked Christ. "Not for a good work," they replied, "but because, being a man, you make yourself God." In John XIV., Christ said to His Apostles, "You believe in God. Believe also in me. If you had known me you would have known the Father also." Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father." Jesus replied, "Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also." It is quite clear that Christ there identified Himself with God the Father in the Divine Nature. In John XX., 28, Thomas, the Apostle, addressed Christ with the words, "My Lord and my God." Christ accepted the salutation, although He could not have dared to do so had He not been God. In St. Matthew XXVIII., we find Christ saying, "Go baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." He did not hesitate to rank His own authority with that of the Father and of the Holy Spirit. Nothing could be more certain than Christ's claim to Divinity in the full sense of that word; and St. John rightly speaks of His eternal Divinity when he says in the opening words of his Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . and the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us."

707. Why did Christ so often call Himself the Son of man, and so rarely the Son of God? You and I are both sons of men, and also God's sons.

We are not God's sons as Christ was God's Son. For He declared Himself to be the only-begotten Son, which excludes other "begotten" sons. He was the only Eternal Son of God by generation. We are children of God by creation in time. But now, why did the Eternal Son of God, having become man by assuming to Himself the human nature born of the Virgin Mary, so frequently refer to Himself as the "Son of man" rather than as the "Son of God"? He did so because the title "Son of man" had a special Messianic significance for the Jews. Daniel had predicted that a son of man would come with the clouds of heaven; that he would have power and glory; that all peoples and tribes and tongues would serve him; that his power would be everlasting, and his kingdom never be destroyed. (Dan. VII., 13-14.) The Jews had first to accept Christ as the Messiah, and then His Messianic teaching of the new revelation of God. He, therefore, constantly refers to Himself in the terms of Daniel's Messianic appellation. The Jews knew that it signified much more than a merely human nature. So, in His trial, when the High Priest said to Him, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed God?", Jesus said, "I am. And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven." Then the High Priest cried, "What need have we of further testimony? You have heard the blasphemy." Those words are intelligible only provided Christ meant by the expression "Son of man" that He was much more than "merely a man." Christ, together with His humanity, possessed the same Divine Nature as His Father, and was God in the strictest sense of the word.

708. Christ quoted of Himself David's words, "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit thou at my right hand till I make thy enemies thy footstool."

He did; and He quoted those words in support of His claim to be God. Take the context. The Pharisees had put to Him the tempting question, "Master, which is the great commandment of the Law?" They did not really desire information. They wished to catch Him. Knowing that He claimed to be God, they thought that He would add to the greatest commandment, or alter it by bringing in some reference to Himself. But Christ replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." Then, to show up their hypocrisy, and the fact that this question was prompted only by hatred of Himself, and not by humility or charity, He pointedly added, "And the second is like to the first. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Then at once He turned to their thought of His claim to be God. "What think you of Christ?" He demanded of them, "Whose son is he?" They said to Him, "David's." Jesus replied, "How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said to my Lord . . .?" The Pharisees could not answer the argument. David had acknowledged that the future Christ to be born of his stock would in reality be his God, and Supreme Lord and Master. Christ rightly said, "If David called Him Lord, how can the future Messiah be merely his son?"

709. The words exclude an equality of Christ with the Father, for they express the Father's dominative right.

The words do not suggest a dominative right of the Father over the Son prescinding from the Incarnation. David referred to the Messiah as my Lord, and predicted that the Messiah would triumph in the end. But the Messiah was Christ, and the reference was to the Eternal Son as personally united to a created human nature which was as subject to God as any other created nature. It is a fallacy to apply to the Eternal Son of God prescinding from His union with a created human nature a text which refers to Him as incarnate in that nature.

710. You have said that God the Son was man only from the time of His incarnation.


711. If God is eternally all-complete and all-perfect, how could His Divine Nature have lacked that attribute till then?

The Divine Nature is, of course, infinitely perfect, and no attribute could be added to that infinitely perfect nature. But, in the incarnation the humanity of Christ did not become a new attribute added to the Divine Nature, nor was the Divine Nature more perfect after the incarnation than before. In God we have to distinguish between the Divine Nature, and the three Divine Persons possessing that nature. Now, in the incarnation, the Second Divine Person simply assumed into relationship with Himself a created human nature. That human nature remained a created human nature. It did not become, nor was it blended with, nor was it added to the Divine Nature. The Second Divine Person merely made it His own, extending His personal control to it also. From the moment of the incarnation He acted in two distinct natures, instead of in the Divine Nature only.

712. Was God less perfect before the incarnation than afterwards?

In the light of what I have just explained it is clear that your question should be this: Was God less perfect when the Second Divine Person acted in the one Divine Nature only, than He was subsequently when that Second Divine Person operated in two natures, the one Divine, and the other human? The answer is: No. For the incarnation did not mean any intrinsic change in God. If the incarnation produced any intrinsic change in God, then it would have meant a perfection or attribute superadded to the Divine Nature. That is an impossibility.

713. What change did occur when the incarnation took place?

The change was intrinsic from the viewpoint of the created human nature, but extrinsic to the Divine Nature. It is difficult to make this metaphysical problem clear and simple. But you will get some idea of what I mean by considering the analogy from knowledge. When you get knowledge from the study of a certain object, the object causes the knowledge of it within your mind. Thus a tree reflects its image to my eye. I acquire knowledge of it, and undergo a change from ignorance to a new degree of learning. But the relationship between myself and the tree arising from my perception of it is intrinsic to me, and only extrinsic to the tree. There is no change in the tree. There is a change in myself. That is only an analogy, of course. But it gives a faint idea of what I want to express concerning God. In the incarnation the change which occurred was not in the Divine Uncreated Nature; the humanity assumed by the Eternal Son was made more perfect than any other humanity. But the receiver, not the giver was perfected. We can say that God was henceforth differently related to humanity by a relationship extrinsic to the Divine Nature, and intrinsic to the assumed human nature. So far as the Divine Nature is concerned, therefore, we have an extrinsic non-perfecting change. And it added no attribute to the Divine Nature which was previously lacking. My explanation does not do away with the mystery of it all. It merely excludes, any contradiction from the viewpoint of human reason.

714. The idea that God begot an only Son by the woman Mary, and that this son Jesus was a second God, is too pagan for me.

Paganism is opposed to the true God. And as Christianity is the religion revealed by the true God, it can scarcely be called pagan. But you have not correctly understood Christian teaching. It is not Christian teaching that "God begot an only son by the woman Mary." The Christian teaching is that the eternally begotten Son of God assumed to Himself a human nature formed from the Virgin Mary; and in that nature appeared to men on earth. Nor do we say that Jesus was a "second God." There is but one God. The Second Person of the Trinity, even during and after the incarnation, retained His mutual possession of one and the same Divine Nature with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Whether you understand our doctrine or not, it is useless to refute what we do not teach.

715. You argue that because Christ worked miracles He was God, But if all the people who have worked miracles were gods, the world would have had a lot of gods.

You must not confuse actual miracles with spurious claims to miracles. Through ignorance or superstition many people have regarded things as miracles which were certainly not miracles. Eliminating all these, and confining our attention to actual miracles, even then we do not claim that all who have worked miracles are gods. The prophets worked miracles to prove that they were truly sent by God, but they themselves were not God, nor did they claim to be God. Christ, however, was in a very different category from the prophets. He claimed to be God, and by actual miracles justified His claim. "Believe me," He said, "for the sake of the works that I do." And He exacted belief in His Divinity.

716. Are we not always in the presence of God?

Yes. God is everywhere present by His immensity, knowledge, and power.

717. Why accept the teaching of Jesus that He is the Son of God, yet refuse to accept His teaching that we are all the sons of God?

We are not all sons of God in the same sense as that in which Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus, in His Divine Nature, is the Son of God by eternal generation in an infinitely perfect and uncreated nature. We are children of God by creation in a finite and imperfect nature.

718. Is not God in all of us?

God is everywhere, and we are ever within His immensity of being. But in no way are we identified with God, nor He with us. We are in God; but we are not God.

719. If Christ's Divinity was so clear, why did so few Jews accept His claim, despite the fact that they had seen His miracles?

This was not due to obscurity in Christ's claim, nor to lack of evidence for it. The fault was in the dispositions of the majority of the Jews at the time. The Jews could deny neither the claim nor the miracles. But when it came to an acceptance of Christ in practice, their will was at fault. His doctrines demanded too much of them. They dealt a great blow at their national pride, reversed many of their traditional notions, and proposed an ethical standard of life much higher than that to which they had been accustomed. Fear of the Romans was also a factor, prompting the choice of Caesar when Christ and Caesar were put before them as necessary alternatives. Their will was at fault, and Christ knew it. "Even if one were to rise from the dead," He said, "they will not believe."

720. It could not have been evident that He was God; for people do not trifle with one whom they know to be God.

You are confusing extrinsic evidence with intrinsic evidence. We do not claim that the Jews had intrinsic evidence that Christ was God. But they certainly had sufficient extrinsic evidence to know it. They knew quite clearly that He claimed to be God. And they knew that the works He did justified that claim. But, whilst they had this extrinsic evidence, they had no intrinsic evidence that He was God. He was visibly a man, invisibly God; and they could know that He was God only by accepting His authority for the statement-an authority justified by His character and works. But they refused to accept His authority. They refused to put their faith in Him because it would mean worldly disadvantages. They concentrated their attention upon those worldly disadvantages to the exclusion of attention to their own spiritual advantages, choosing not what was right, but what seemed to them expedient for the time being. This attitude is of daily experience amongst men, even where there is a clear knowledge that God's love and friendship are being rejected, and His infinite power defied.

721. Where now is the soul of Christ?

It is united with His risen and glorified body, forming an integral part of His human nature still.

722. The Eternal Son is of the Holy Trinity. How can the human soul be of the Holy Trinity?

The Eternal Son is of the Holy Trinity in virtue of His Divine Nature. But that Son assumed into union with His own proper Personality a human nature, and from the moment He did so that union has never been broken. The human soul of the risen Christ belongs by natural union to His body, even as His body belongs by natural union to His soul. Both body and soul, as forming a complete human nature, belong by supernatural union to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and its relationship to the Trinity is by and through the Divine Personality of the Eternal Son of God.

723. The Catholic Church teaches, does it not, that Christ died to atone for our sins, and thus to accomplish our redemption?

That is the Catholic teaching.

724. For years I have tried without success to get a lucid explanation of the doctrine of the Atonement.

I will try to clear up all your difficulties for you.

725. Can one suffer vicariously for another in the sense Catholic dogma teaches?

That question is answered by the fact that Christ did suffer for us, and make vicarious atonement for our sins. Christ declared that He was the Good Shepherd who would give His life for His sheep. Again, of Himself He said, "The Son of man is come to give His life, a redemption for many." Mk. X., 45. At the last supper He said, "This is my blood which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins." Matt. XXVI., 28. And such was the doctrine preached by the Apostles. St. Peter wrote, "You were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver . . . but with the precious blood of Christ." 1 Pet. I., 19. St. Paul wrote to the Romans, "We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son." Rom. V., 10; to the Galatians, "I live in the faith of the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself for me." Gal. II., 20.

726. If the point be allowed, of what spiritual significance is it?

I admit that it is of little spiritual significance to one who has no supernatural faith in Christ. St. Paul declares that the natural man does not perceive the things that are of the Spirit of God, and that they are foolishness to him. He cannot understand "because it is spiritually examined." 1 Cor. II., 14. Applying this thought to the Atonement he wrote, "The word of the Cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is to us, it is the power of God. . . . We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor. I., 18-24.

727. Did Christ really die, or did He merely go through the form of dying?

Christ really died, just as ordinary human beings die, His created human soul separating from His body.

728. As God, did Christ have power over death?

He had. He proved that by undoing in His own case the work wrought by death. Death separated His soul from His body. He reunited His soul to His body in the resurrection, resuming His human life as if He had never died.

729. Knowing this, did He fear death?

He did. He possessed a truly human nature, consisting of a created human soul and a body. Soul and body are naturally adapted to the formation of one human being, and this natural unity is opposed to dissolution. The body has a natural tendency to fight to retain the soul; and the soul cooperates in the struggle to retain its unity with the body. It is against natural instinct of both soul and body to separate; and Christ experienced this psychological dread, in addition to that awakened by the prospect of so much other suffering.

730. If God, Christ must have known that He would he happier in heaven than on earth. If not, how could He teach authoritatively concerning heaven?

As God, Christ knew the essential happiness of heaven by eternal experience; and foreknew the further secondary happiness awaiting Him in His risen humanity. Your very question shows that you are seeking an explanation of Christ whilst omitting all consideration of His Divinity. If you see in Christ merely an ordinary human being, no wonder you have difficulties. Christ is inexplicable, unless we take into account all the factors concerning Him. And it is essential to remember that He was at one and the same time true God and true man.

731. Why then should He fear to die and desire to remain on earth?

He did not desire to remain on earth any longer than He did. But the knowledge of His happier state in heaven did not free Him from the natural dread of the intermediate means by which He was to attain it. The prospect of freedom from toothache does not rob the dentist's chair of its significance.



732. If He did not wish to remain any longer on earth, wherein is the sacrifice of His death?

His sacrifice did not rest essentially in His dying when He died, but in the fact that He did die, and in such a way. The conformity of His human will to the Divine will as to the time of His death was a meritorious element; but His essential sacrifice lay in His free acceptance of a dreadful death not due to Him, taking upon Himself the penalty due to our sins, and endowing His offering with the infinite value of His Divine dignity and charity.

733. Was it the manner of His death that constituted the sacrifice?

The passion and sufferings of Christ which preceded His death formed an integral part of the particular type of sacrifice demanded of Him by God's justice and charity. Had God willed it, Christ could have saved us without undergoing so much suffering. But God willed otherwise, and Jesus undertook to satisfy for human nature in human nature, and in generous measure indeed. Nor was His long-drawn-out and intense passion superfluous. He thus made superabundant satisfaction for our sins, gave an extreme manifestation of His love for us, set us an example of almost every virtue in almost every possible trial, and intensified the motives why those who profess to believe in Him should refrain from further sin. Thus Christ made essential reparation by His death, and circumstantial reparation by enduring all types of penalties deserved by the various sins of men.

734. Had He been given a painless death, would the atonement have been accomplished?

Yes. But that is a purely speculative question. We know that God did not decree a painless death; and Jesus fulfilled every detail of His passion and death as it had been predicted long before His birth into this world.

735. If Christ were not God, but merely a man dying for His convictions, then there was something great and grand in His sacrifice.

If Christ were not God, then He was a blasphemous liar, and not even an ordinary martyr for lofty convictions. He asserted Himself to be God. The alternative to deliberate deception is that He was insane, if indeed not God, and that would render His death a pity, but not heroic. It is precisely because He was God that there is something greater and grander than anything else that has ever happened in history where the death of Christ is concerned. It is a great and grand thing for a man to choose to die for the sake of justice rather than escape death by forsaking principle. It is greater and grander to die for a friend, without any obligation of justice, and solely for the sake of charity. And our admiration is increased if one in high position, with wealth and comfort, gives his life for a nobody, some poor fellow creature who is facing disaster. And if that poor person had exhibited nothing but hatred towards his benefactor, being his declared enemy, still further is our admiration increased. But that God, infinitely superior to us, should offer Himself for sinners who have used His very gifts to offend and insult Him, goes far beyond our ordinary ideas of heroism, nobility, and generosity; and no greater or grander sacrifice comes within the range of our wildest dreams and most extravagant imaginations.

736. I certainly find great difficulty in accepting the resurrection of Christ with the confidence exhibited by Catholics.

I can quite understand that. There is a supernatural significance in the resurrection to appreciate which one needs the gift of faith from God. But still, abstracting from its supernatural significance, you should have no difficulty in accepting the resurrection as an historical fact.


737. If it were a fact, I agree that Christianity would be demonstrated as scientifically true.

No Catholic could agree with that. It is an historical fact that Christ rose from the dead. But that is not scientific proof of the Christian religion, as such. It gives rational justification for one's acceptance of Christianity, but no more. I am not watering down the case for Christianity. I merely wish to exclude extravagant claims. There are various orders of knowledge, each quite sound, but each with its own methods. Things within the scope of sense experience can be experimentally proved by actual experimental knowledge. Theorems can be demonstrated mathematically. Historical facts are proved by testimony of those who observed events in past times. Moral principles demand a moral judgment; religious teachings a religious approach, inspired by true wisdom, good will, and divine grace. Now the resurrection of Christ can be viewed historically, or it can be viewed religiously. The merely historical view is certain by all the laws of history, and as far as it goes, it is within the grasp of any man just as the fact that Julius Caesar landed in Britain, or that Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. But the merely historical view will not give religious comprehension.

738. But there seems to be no historical proof that Christ did really rise from the dead.

The Gospels, and the subsequent history of the Christian religion, afford all the proof that any man should want. We know that Christ truly died. That He did not is historically false. The disciples, Jews, and Romans were quite certain of it. It was physically impossible that He did not die. He was brutally scourged, drained of His blood, and His death was tested by a final spear thrust. Again, that He did not die is morally impossible, for after His resurrection Christ said, "It behoved Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead." The moral character of Christ forbids any pretense on His part that He had died whilst He knew quite well that He had not died. But, as He was truly dead, so it is equally certain that He reappeared as living. He appeared to so many, and so suddenly, and so perfectly restored, that their evidence cannot be disregarded; and still less can the astounding change in the Apostles be accounted for save by a fact obvious to their senses. Historically, therefore, a man must either shut his eyes to the evidence, or believe that the resurrection of Christ did take place. But this belief in the historical fact would not be belief in Christianity as a religion.

739. Personally, I think the belief was the product of the vivid religious faith of the early Christians.

The idea that Christ rose from the dead was not the product of faith. The faith of the early Christians rested upon the historical fact, and merely explains the spiritual results of the fact in them. The Apostles knew by actual experience that Christ had risen, as we know from history. Faith, however, goes further. Even after the fact of the resurrection, the faith of the Apostles needed development. They said to the risen Christ, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?" Acts I., 6. They still had material and rather temporal ideas. But when they received the Holy Ghost, their faith received an immense stimulus, and it clarified their views. They realized the supernatural character of Christ's kingdom. Where before they had seen Christ's humanity, now at last they saw His Divinity as never before. They saw that God had indeed put His seal on Christ; that Christ was indeed Lord and Master, endowed with all power in heaven and on earth, and able to keep His promise to be with His Church all days even till the end of the world. Religiously, our own faith today gives us certainty in its own order concerning the resurrection, already known historically. We live in intimate union with Christ, and it is not an intimate union with a dead man. By His Church Christ enfolds us; by grace He dwells within us; by the Blessed Eucharist He renders Himself personally present both without and within us. All this is certainly true, yet inexplicable without the resurrection. And the fact explains the faith; the faith did not invent the fact.


740. I admit that Christians believe in Christ every bit as fervently as Mahometans believe in Mahomet.

The religious opinions of Mahometans concerning Mahomet cannot be compared with the supernatural faith of Christians in Christ. Mahometans in any case point to a coffin at Mecca; Christians to an empty grave at Jerusalem. Where Mahometans say of their prophet, "He is here," Christians can say of Christ, "He is not here; He is risen as He said." Mahomet is dead. Christ is very much alive and active, giving life to millions of souls.

741. People can sustain their religious propensities on nothing when it is consecrated by centuries of tradition.

Nothing could scarcely be consecrated by centuries of tradition. Also, religious propensities will be sustained, whether they have centuries of tradition to lean upon or not. For religious propensities are part of human nature. They result from man's intelligence; and that is why religion is peculiar to man, and not found amongst mere animals. Such propensities, therefore, will persist. And they will persist, even when men abandon all the century-old traditions. The resurrection, of course, happens to be a fact known to men ever since it occurred, and, therefore, during twenty centuries. But you cannot explain the resurrection by tradition. How did it originate? Who began it? What was it that gave the first impulse to the Apostles, and made them succeed? Whilst Jesus personally was alive and with them before His death He could sustain them. But afterwards, if He did not appear to them alive once more, who made them all so certain and so urgent in their cause? The fact of the resurrection alone can explain these things.

742. I cannot admit that belief in the physical resurrection of Christ is essential to Christianity.

St. Paul, who surely has a greater claim to our confidence, wrote to the Corinthians, "If there is no resurrection from the dead, then even Christ did not rise; and if Christ did not rise, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain." 1 Corinthians XC, 14. Belief in the actual resurrection of Christ was certainly essential to the Christianity preached by St. Paul!

743. All I can admit is that the tale of his physical resurrection is told in the four Gospels.

No one who really believes in them could refer so contemptuously to the historical value of the Gospels. If they are not reliable why pretend to believe in Christ at all? How long will your form of Christianity stand, with all the supports knocked from beneath it?

744. I cannot see that belief in the physical resurrection of Christ has any bearing on Christian living.

St. Paul does not hesitate to say that the just man "lives by faith." Romans I., 17. In the light of the truths put before us by faith, and in the light of all of them, the Christian lives and walks. The supernatural and spiritual life supposes supernatural principles and spiritual power. And these must be made known to US by a supernatural revelation, and made possible for us by the merits of Christ our Redeemer. And the resurrection of Christ is of profound significance in the work of our redemption and even of our present sanctification. St. Paul wrote to the Romans, "We are buried with Him by Baptism unto death; that as Christ is risen from the dead ... so we also may walk in newness of life." Romans VI., 4. Earlier, in Romans IV., 25, St. Paul wrote that Christ "was delivered for our sins, and rose again for our justification." It is the continued life of the risen Christ which is derived by our souls. The resurrection of Christ was due to His divine power. And by the divine power that resurrection of Christ exercises an effect upon us so that as, in God's providence, the body lives by the soul, so now the soul lives by the grace of the risen Christ. It is because Christ, being risen, dies no more, that we, being dead to sin, are enabled to live henceforth to Christ. The resurrection is essential for Christian living.

745. Is it a dogma of the Catholic Church that Christ ascended bodily into heaven?

Yes. The Gospels declare the fact. And in the Acts of the Apostles we read that when Stephen was being stoned to death he was "filled with the Holy Ghost, and looking up steadfastly into heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Acts VII., 55.

746. I can scarcely conceive that Christ would have in heaven the same body that He had on earth.

Christ has the same body as He had on earth, but nobody maintains that that same body is subject to exactly the same conditions as when He lived in the midst of men. No difficulty presents itself concerning the fact. The Jesus Christ who died on the cross was the Jesus Christ who rose from the dead, and that demands that He rose with the same body and soul. That body was as integral to Christ in His human-nature as your body is integral to you. It is an historical fact, also, that Jesus ascended bodily from this earth. But beyond these facts we meet with mystery. One thing is certain: The body of Christ has undergone some change which has altered its nature without changing its identity. St. Paul tells us that our bodies also, when rising from the dead, will be changed from merely material conditions, becoming spiritualized. What these mysterious changes mean we do not know. But despite the mysterious elements connected with them, we believe the facts revealed, knowing them to be true with all the certainty of divine faith. Far from being surprised by the presence of difficulty, therefore, we expect it; and are content to leave mysterious details mysterious. But we do not doubt what has been revealed as fact; and we profess with undiminished conviction that Jesus Christ rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven, body and soul.

Mary, the Mother of God

747. Why does the Catholic Church give so much honor to Mary when she was just an ordinary woman selected for a great purpose?

Firstly, I deny that Mary was just an ordinary woman. She was a human being, but amongst human beings there are degrees of dignity. And she was no ordinary woman to whom God thought fit to send an Archangel with the salutation, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." Nor was she an ordinary woman to whom Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, cried out, "Blessed art thou amongst women; and whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me." Had any ordinary woman come to visit Elizabeth, no such exclamation would have fallen from her lips.

Secondly, you yourself say that Mary was selected for a great purpose. Selected by whom? By God. Now God has ever fittingly prepared those whom He has deigned to call to great duties. We see that in the case of the Prophets, and above all, in the case of that greatest of all the Prophets, St. John the Baptist. Yet not one of these had so close a relationship to Jesus as she who was destined to be His Mother.

748. Some female had to be selected, and it just happened to he Mary of Nazareth.

If one who professes to be a Christian and to believe in the Bible thinks to please Christ by speaking contemptuously of His Mother, he is very much mistaken. I do not know whether you hold your own mother in reverence and esteem. But I will presume that you do. And I will merely say that Jesus was a far better Son to His Mother than you ever have been to yours. If you would resent any attempt to belittle your mother, you have a faint indication of what Christ thinks of such words as yours. As for your remark that "it just happened," a moment ago you said that Mary was selected for a great purpose. Selection by an infinitely wise God is not a haphazard proceeding. There were reasons for the selection of Mary rather than others, and those reasons had to do with her holiness and fitness above all others for the immense dignity.

749. The glory does not rest with her hut with God.

Mary herself said that. She gave the glory to God, saying, "He that is mighty hath done great things to me." But she did not deny that great things had been done to her which had not been done to others. And those who receive the greater gifts from God deserve the greater honor from us.

750. What is her place in the Christian religion?

Mary's place in the Christian religion should be obvious. She is the morning star preceding the Light of the World, Christ. The only difference is that all her light is derived from the Son she heralds. By God's eternal decree Mary has been associated with the highest mysteries of the Christian religion, being the very instrument of the Incarnation of the Eternal Son of God, and, therefore, of our redemption. We have devotion to her both because of our admiration of her, and because of her interest in our eternal welfare. When we honor Mary, of course, we are but honoring Christ in her. Without Him, she would be nothing, and she would be the first to admit it. And the honor we show her cannot displease Christ. He was the best Son who ever lived, and would rather be displeased were His Mother ignored or slighted. Remember the bootblack's answer to the parson. Whilst having his boots polished, the parson saw a medal of the Virgin Mary hanging from the boy's neck on a string. "Sonny," he said, "why do you wear that?" "She is the Mother of Christ," said the boy. "But," objected the parson, "she's no different from your own mother." "No," replied the boy, "but there's a hell of a difference between the sons." We owe love and devotion to the Mother of Christ.

751. Scripture accords no attributes of deity to Mary, and outside the grace of God9 she was as helpless as any other woman.

The Catholic Church forbids anyone to ascribe any attributes of deity to Mary, whether inside or outside the grace of God. However holy she might be by grace, she still remains a creature. Mary would be the first to say that, but for the grace of God, she would have no privileges beyond those of other women. The Catholic Church teaches the same. But she certainly did receive graces that no other woman ever received or ever will receive, and in supernatural dignity and power surpasses them all. In bringing forth Jesus Christ she brought forth the life of my soul, and she is as much my mother in the supernatural order as my earthly mother in the temporal and natural order. And I for one hope ever to retain a child's devotion to my heavenly Mother till the day of my death and for all eternity. I know that as Eve was the mother of all the living, yet brought us forth to suffering, misery and death, so Mary, the second Eve, between whom and Satan God promised to put enmity, brought me forth to the happiness and life of God's grace.

Eve listened to Satan, disobeyed God, gave us to eat of the tree of evil, left us miserable and driven from the paradise of the grace of God.

Mary listened to an Angel, obeyed, gave us to eat of the tree of life, restored happiness to us and us to God's grace, and she is enthroned in heaven with Christ. And there she is my Mother and my Queen. I can only wish she could be as proud of me as I am of her.

752. in what way did Mary take her part in the redemptive work of mankind, which was accomplished by Christ alone?

Christ was the principal Author of our redemption, but there were many secondary cooperators in the work. We even find St. Paul saying that we are to fill up what is wanting to the sufferings of Christ. The explanation of this, however, would demand a treatise on the mystical body of Christ as comprising all the members of the Church, and I can scarcely do justice to it now. All I can say is that Mary cooperated in the redemptive work in a way quite special to herself.

As Jesus is the second Adam, so Mary is the second Eve. As our first Mother Eve brought us forth to misery and suffering, so our second Mother Mary, in bringing forth our Savior, brought us forth to happiness and salvation. Mary's consent was asked by God when the time for the Incarnation was at hand; she consented to the full work of Christ from the cave of Bethlehem to the Cross of Calvary. She provided the very blood that was shed for us. In union with Christ she had her own passion, and Simeon rightly predicted to her, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce." With, in, and through the work of Christ her sufferings also contributed secondarily towards our redemption. And she was given to us from the Cross as a mother for a mother's work. To all of us Christ said, in the person of St. John, "Son, behold thy Mother." We Catholics, therefore, regard Mary as our spiritual Mother, entertaining towards her the love and devotion of children. Every Christian woman, above all, should regard Mary, the Mother of Christ, as the glory of her sex.

753. Has the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception been defined by the Catholic Church as an article of faith?

Yes. Consequently the only way to disprove it is by disproving the infallibility of the Catholic Church. Meantime, none of your difficulties avails against it.

754. Why did the Church define it?

Because it rightly expresses the truth concerning Mary as contained in God's revelation. That truth is that Mary was exempted from any trace of inherited original sin.

755. At what date did the Roman Catholic Church adopt the idea of the Immaculate Conception by Jesus' Mother?

I am afraid you are confusing two different doctrines. The Immaculate Conception is a term referring to the conception of Mary herself by her parents, Joachim and Anne. When Mary herself was conceived, her soul was preserved immaculate, or free from inherited original sin. But when Mary herself conceived Jesus, it was under the influence of the Holy Ghost, and not through any relations with man. This could be called the miraculous conception of the child Jesus. Usually it is referred to as the Virgin Birth, since it implies that Mary remained a virgin even though she gave birth to Jesus. Both the doctrine that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that that virgin was herself immaculate from the very moment of her own conception are taught in the Gospels. But the latter doctrine is not so clearly recorded as the former. That Jesus was born of a virgin Mother has been explicitly taught by the Catholic Church from the very beginning. So in the Apostles' Creed itself we say, "born of the Virgin Mary." That the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary herself is also part of the Christian revelation was defined by the Catholic Church in 1854. The Church did not invent a new doctrine then. She merely defined that such was the original Christian teaching of the New Testament.

756. How can you say that Mary was ever a virgin when the Bible speaks of the brethren of the Lord?

The expression, "brethren of the Lord," is no argument whatever that Mary had other children besides Jesus. For the Jews used that expression of any near relatives, without intending necessarily the first degree of blood relationship. It was enough for people to be descendants of the same tribe to be called brethren. James was called the brother of Jesus. Yet we know that he was the son of Alphaeus, and Mary was certainly never the wife of Alphaeus. This James, also, was the blood brother of Jude. And Jude begins his epistle with the words, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and the brother of James." Here he is using the word brother in the strict sense, and knows that he cannot in that sense call himself the brother of Jesus Christ. Yet in the broad sense of the word, he is ranked amongst the kinsmen of Christ, as we know from Matthew XIII., 55, where the Gospel speaks of "His brethren James and Joseph, and Simon and Jude."

757. I think the brothers and sisters referred to were the children of Joseph and Mary after Jesus was born. There is no reason to think otherwise.

There is every reason to think otherwise. Firstly, the so-called brethren of Jesus are depicted by the Gospel texts as older than He Himself, criticizing and advising Him, and jealous of His popularity. Secondly, when the offer was made to Mary that she should become the Mother of the Messiah, she said, "How shall this be done, because I know not man." Almighty God provided miraculously that she should become the Mother without sacrificing her virginity. She was not likely to sacrifice it later on for other children so much less than the very Son of God. As that Son was the only-begotten of His Eternal Father, so He would be the only-begotten of His earthly Mother. Thirdly, Jesus alone in the Gospels is called the Son of Mary; and never once is she called the Mother of the brethren of the Lord. Fourthly, the only four brethren mentioned by name are James and Joseph, Simon and Jude. Now St. John tells us that there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother, and His Mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas. And this latter is referred to by St. Matthew as the mother of James and Joseph. Again, if you look up the first words of St. Jude's Epistle you will find him saying, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James." Why did he make that distinction? Finally, if James and Joseph, Simon and Jude, were direct children of Mary, and if there were yet other brethren and sisters of Jesus in your sense of the word, why did Jesus commit His Mother to the care of St. John after His death, so that John took her as his own mother thenceforth? That would not be necessary if she had other children to look after her.

758. Mark VI., 3, says, "Is not this carpenter, the Son of Mary, the brother of James and Joseph, and Jude and Simon? Are not also His sisters here with us?"

The reference to Jesus as the Son of Mary and the brother of James and Joseph, Jude and Simon, as also to His sisters is also quite compatible with our Lord's being the only Son of Mary. The term brothers or sisters was applied to any near relatives within the same tribe even though they were first, second or third cousins. In much the same way 1 could speak of a brother American without suggesting that he was of the same mother as myself. Remember that in the Aramaic language used at the time, there was no word in existence to denote cousin. The Jews had to use the word "Achim," brethren, for the description of any kindred by collateral descent. I could give you a dozen references from the Old Testament proving the Jewish usage of those terms for half-brothers, nephews and nieces, cousins, and any blood relatives in general. Renan, quite an unbeliever in Christ and whose verdict is above suspicion, says of this passage that the preliminary expression "the Son of Mary" followed by the mention of the other names takes it for granted that Jesus was known as the only son of a widow. Loisy, another who was by no means well disposed towards the Catholic doctrine, declares that, when Mary hesitated to accept the offer of the Angel to become the Mother of Christ, she spoke so absolutely when she said, "How shall this be, for I know not man," that Catholics are justified in seeing the intention of perpetually preserving her virginity.

759. You pick the plums out of Renan when it suits your case.

The fact that Renan, so radically opposed to the supernatural element in the Gospels, says so few things that suit our case immeasurably intensifies the value of his verdict when he admits that the Gospel text supposes that Jesus was the only child of Mary. All his inclinations would be against making that admission. You are not happier in deluding yourself that Mary had other children than Renan, the rationalist, would have been, could he have brought himself to believe that the text permitted such a persuasion.

760. Jesus said unto them, "A prophet is not without honor save in his own country and among his own kin, and in his own house. . . ." St. Mark VI., vv. 3-4.

When Jesus said that He had no honor among His own kin He was speaking quite intelligibly despite His not having brothers and sisters. The expression kith and kin is verified by relatives independently of the precise degree of consanguinity.

761. St. Matthew XIII., 55, 56, implies the whole family.

He implies too big a family, if the strict sense you wish were true. In verse 56. he says, "His sisters, are they not all with us?" The use of the word "all" in reference to the sisters implies not one or two, but a large number in various degrees of relationship. They were certainly too many, together with four brothers, to be sisters of Jesus in the strict sense of the word. There is a little axiom that "he who proves too much proves nothing." The wording used by St. Matthew tells distinctly in favor of the Catholic interpretation.

762. St. Luke VIII., 19, implies the whole family when he says, "His Mother and brethren came unto Him."

He implies that His Mother and other relatives in various degrees came to Him. Those relatives were not brothers and sisters in the first degree of consanguinity.

763. Luke I., 36, confutes the story that there was no word in the Greek to describe James, Joseph, Jude and Simon as cousins.

I have never heard it said that there was no word in Greek for cousin. It is certain that there was no word in Hebrew for cousin. The Hebrew word for brother, ah, and in the Aramaic, aha, was used to describe brothers, half-brothers, nephews and nieces, cousins, and relatives in general. It is certain that any cousins of Jesus would have to be described in Aramaic as brethren. And, in translating the Hebrew expression literally by the Greek word brethren, the Evangelists merely followed the example already given in the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament.

764. St. Paul wrote:' ". . . But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which 1 write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. . . ." Galatians I., vv. 19, etc.

Quite so. St. Paul did not lie. He saw St. James. But when he alluded to James as the Lord's brother, he had not in mind the sense you imagine. He made a perfectly lawful use of the term in the broad sense which included cousins, according to Jewish usage at that time. Critical scholarship demolishes the idea that these brethren were other children of Mary the Mother of Jesus. It observes that these brethren are depicted as older than Jesus, though it is certain that Mary had no children prior to Jesus. And precisely because Mary had no other children of her own, Jesus had to confide His Mother to the care of John, the son of Zebedee, as He died upon the Cross. One wonders why Protestants wish to assert that Mary had other sons after Jesus was born. Is it for the sheer love of truth, and that they may contribute to the greater honor of Jesus and Mary? Or is it that they want to drag Mary down from her true dignity, and Jesus down to the level of ordinary men, in order to show their contempt for Catholicism? I am afraid that, in some Protestants, faith in the Gospels and in Jesus Christ runs a bad second to their dislike of Catholicism. It is enough for them that the Catholic Church teaches a given doctrine to inspire them with zeal to deny it, whatever the consequences to the Jesus Christ they profess to serve, and to His Mother Mary, whom Jesus cannot desire to be held in anything but the highest reverence and esteem.

765. On the Cross Christ said to St. John, "Son, behold thy Mother," there" fore, making out John was another son.

Christ, in His infinite wisdom, would not waste words in those precious and most painful last moments to tell John something of which John was already well aware. It was precisely because Mary was not the natural mother of John that Christ asked him to be a son to her. And the Gospel tells us that "From that hour the disciple took her as his own." Which means that only from that moment, in virtue of this commission of Christ, John recognized that he had filial obligations to Mary. Had he been her natural son, he would have had them all along. Scripture gives us the names of John's father and mother, and they were not Joseph and Mary. Mark I., 19, tells us that his father's name was Zebedee. In Mark X., 35, we again read that "James and John, the sons of Zebedee came to Christ saying . . ." etc. In Matthew XX., 20, we are told that the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Christ adoring Him and asking a favor. And she was not His own Mother. Who was she? Her name was Salome, mentioned in Mark XV., 40. So that St. John was the natural son, not of Joseph and Mary, but of Zebedee and Salome. And it was precisely because Christ knew that His Mother Mary had no other children to care for her that He committed her to the care of His loved disciple St. John, asking him to regard her henceforth as if she were his own Mother.

766. Was our Lady vowed to virginity from early childhood, or was she "espoused to a man named Joseph" with the intention of marrying him in the ordinary way, until the advent of the Angel Gabriel changed her plans?

According to the teaching of Catholic theologians, Mary, under the inspiration of God, had formed the determination to preserve life-long virginity, and under that same inspiration of God, had agreed later to be espoused to St. Joseph, both of them by mutual consent making a vow not to demand of each other the right to those marital relations which are one of the normal privileges of marriage. This espousal was in view of God's purpose to provide a protector for the Mother and Child, a purpose which became clear to Mary when the Angel Gabriel, as St. Luke says, "appeared to a virgin who was espoused to a man named Joseph." When the Angel predicted that she would bear a child, consciousness of her determination to remain a virgin is evident from her reply, "How shall this be done, because I know not man." As St. Augustine points out, she would not have said this, despite her engagement to Joseph, had she not resolved to remain a virgin.

767. Do you believe that Mary ascended into heaven, and was crowned amidst the glory of all the Saints?

Catholic teaching does not speak of Mary's ascending into heaven. Christ, by His own divine power, ascended into heaven. Mary was assumed or taken up into heaven, body and soul, after her death. We Catholics believe, therefore, in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And we speak of the fitting honor with which God received her as her crowning with glory. There is nothing in this doctrine which is in any way opposed to sound and reasonable principles. Nor a single rational argument can be advanced to prove that it could not happen, or that it did not happen. On the other hand, there are solid reasons for the belief that it did happen, and also the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, an authority guaranteed by Sacred Scripture.

768. There is nothing in Scripture about this.

It is not necessary that there should be. We know that Christ is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. We know that His Mother is in heaven, and that the Mother of the King rejoices in a queenly dignity. It is quite certain that our Lady has a closer bond with Jesus than any other human being, and that, if He is going to crown His Saints with glory, He will give the highest honor to His Mother.

769. What authority is there for the doctrine?

Firstly, of course, the inherent teaching authority of Christ. The Catholic Church was commissioned to teach all nations with His authority and under His protection. The mere fact that she teaches the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven is sufficient assurance of the event. But what reasons support the teaching, apart from the authority of ithe Church? There is no express reference to the subject in Sacred Scripture. But it has ever been the tradition of Christians from the very beginning, and, as the Anglican Mozley has pointed out, "The conviction of the fact did not arise from mere belief; the belief can only be accounted for by the primitive fact." Theologically, the corruption of the body is a consequence of the corruption of original sin. But Mary was exempted from the corruption of original sin, and it was most fitting that she should be exempted from corruption in the grave. The Greek Orthodox Church agrees with the Catholic Church on this doctrine. High Church Anglicans are returning to it. I have just been reading an Anglican booklet on the subject, in which the author writes: "It would seem rash to deny such a bodily Assumption, for despite the prevalence of credulity in the matter of relics, no Church (or city) has ever claimed to possess the mortal remains of our Lady. Why not? It is a fact which requires explanation. Relics of our Lady would possess a greater value for Christians than any others. Do not urge that the Reformers abolished the festival of the Assumption. They abolished much that had been better left untouched. Many of their experiments have not proved successful. We may hope the day will come when the authorities of our provinces will repair the loss which has been sustained by its omission." I quote that to show the High Anglican tendency, and also, because there is something in the historical fact that, whilst St. Peter's body, for example, is so deeply reverenced at Rome, no city has ever claimed to possess the remains of our Blessed Lady. Her assumption, body and soul, into heaven is an obvious reason why.

Grace and Salvation

770. Am I right or wrong in saying that all men are sure of salvation through the merits of Christ?

Wrong. Your mistake arises from your notion that Christ expiated our sins on the Cross without making any conditions for those who desire to benefit by His redeeming work. But redemption is not unconditional. Christ said to the man who asked, "What must I do to be saved?", "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Again, we are told that men must repent and be baptized; or again, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." All such conditions suppose that it is possible not to be saved. You will say, "Then Christ has not redeemed the human race after all!" To that I reply that He has paid a price sufficient for the redemption of all men who are willing to be saved and who are prepared to comply with the conditions. And henceforth it is each man's own fault only if he is lost.

771. Of what avail was the shedding of Christ's blood if there is still a danger of everlasting damnation in hell?

Of great avail. For without the shedding of that blood no human being could possibly have attained eternal salvation and the supernatural destiny originally intended for man by God. But whilst the death of Christ made this salvation possible, it was never intended to save men whether they wished to be saved or not, and whether they continued to do evil or not. Christ did not offer unconditional salvation to mankind.

772. When we Protestants are converted or changed by accepting Jesus as our Savior, we are then Christians with full assurance of eternal life.

If Protestantism teaches that, then Protestants are very much to be pitied. For their Protestantism is simply building up false hopes within them, and offering conditions of salvation radically opposed to the teaching of the New Testament. Nowhere is full assurance of salvation promised to anyone. Our Lord says to us, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." Why, if one is fully assured of salvation? Christ manifestly tells us that there is a danger of forfeiting it. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "He that thinks himself to stand, let him beware lest he fall." To the Hebrews he wrote, "It is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost; have moreover tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, and have fallen away, to be renewed to penance." Hebrews VI., 4, 5. According to you people who have been once illuminated, have tasted the heavenly gift, and who were made partakers with the Holy Ghost, should have had full assurance of eternal life with Christ. Yet the event proved such an assurance illusory. St. Peter, too, tells us of those who had made shipwreck of the faith. He is talking of Christians, who had accepted Jesus as their Savior.

773. Jesus offers salvation as a sheer gift. All we have to do is to accept.

Jesus offers Himself and His grace to us as a free gift, beyond all our deserts. But you are wrong when you say we only have to accept. We have to labor and strive to fulfill all the obligations imposed upon us by God. Mere acceptance of Christ without that is of no avail. St. James, the Apostle, writes, "Faith without works is dead. Do you not see that by works a man is justified and not by faith only." James II.

774. The gift of God is life eternal through Christ Jesus.

That is quite true. But it is not an unconditional gift. After the fall of man, God had no obligation to offer us eternal happiness, and, therefore, His doing so was a sheer gift. But all the same He laid down certain conditions involving good works, and as we are not necessarily compelled to fulfill them, your full assurance becomes a chimera, as also your peculiar idea that for salvation we have only to accept Jesus as our Savior. With the help of His grace, we have to work out our own salvation by good works in fear and trembling lest we ourselves should fail to do our part.

775. But with Roman Catholics one always has to be doing something to gain grace.

I can merely say that, of course, that is so. When we pray we are doing something to gain grace. "Ask, and you shall receive," is the promise of Christ. Our Lord also showed the necessity of good works when He said, "He that doth evil cometh not to the light." Scripture tells us, too, to redeem our sins by almsgiving. But that would be impossible unless almsgiving for the love of Christ were a means by which we gain grace. All along the line, in this matter, your ideas are at variance with Scripture, whilst Catholic ideas are in accordance with it. And if your ideas are the average ideas of Protestants, it brings out once more that Protestantism is fundamentally un-Scriptural.

776. God has called us out of dead works to worship Him through Jesus, the true and living way.

That is true, provided you interpret "dead works" correctly. But it is quite wrong if you imagine that all good works are dead and useless.

777. Please explain the doctrine of Predestination of souls.

Predestination of soul is simply a special Providence of God in regard to a particular individual for whom God has foreordained special graces with which He knows that the individual will certainly correspond. There is no such thing as predestination to hell. To every man in this world God gives sufficient grace for salvation and every man can be saved by corresponding with it. Therefore, if any man is lost, it is his own fault. But there is a predestination for a specially chosen few to very special graces over and above the ordinary distribution, as in the case of St. Paul, who though a Pharisee, was predestined to his glorious Apostolate. Now, with these principles in mind, we can go on to your other questions.

778. Has everyone an equal chance of getting to heaven?

Not necessarily. The attaining of heaven depends upon the reception of actual Baptism in the case of infants, and upon Baptism at least implicitly by desire on the part of adults. But I take it from your letter that you are referring to adults, i. e., those who have come to the age of reason and responsibility. Yet even then, not all have necessarily an equal chance of salvation, although all, without exception, have a true chance. For example, Mary, the Mother of Christ, certainly received very special graces and helps which are not given to ordinary souls. But God gives to every adult sufficient grace for salvation. He has no obligation to give to every soul those extraordinary graces which, in His sheer generosity, He bestows upon some. The question of justice does not enter into the distribution of gratuitous gifts, although God is bound in justice to Himself to give sufficient grace that men may observe the commandments He imposes. And He does so.

779. After all, it is the kind of body that we have that governs our actions during our lives, and the kind of life we lead determines our reward in the next world.

It is true to a certain extent only that the kind of life one leads determines his reward in the next world. I say "to a certain extent," because after an evil life a man could die repentant and be saved almost solely through the merits of Christ, his only personal good being practically the one act of good will by which he corresponds with the final grace God's mercy offers him. But as it would be a sin of presumption to lead an evil life in the expectation of such a final grace, we wisely try to live according to the graces God gives us day by day, so as to be ready whenever God should decide to take us from this world. In this sense, the kind of life we live normally determines our future lot. But. now, let us take your first statement: It is the kind of body we have that governs our actions during life. That is not true. Man's higher faculties, reason and will, govern his actions. If he has the use of these faculties, and they do not govern his actions, but are subservient to the blind impulses of bodily inclinations, he sins. But men do not necessarily give in to those blind impulses, and I absolutely deny the general statement that the kind of body a man possesses governs his actions during life.

780. The course our life is going to take is affected to a great degree by the type of make-up we are given, a factor over which we have no control.

We have control over our make-up. Thousands of people have successfully resisted inherited tendencies. I agree that the standard of virtue attained by different people often varies according to their natural characteristics. For example, a person naturally irritable because born of nervous and highly strung parents will find it harder to practice patience and good temper than another person of a naturally sanguine and happy temperament. But God makes every allowance for relative difficulty, and if a naturally irritable person attains to fifty degrees of patience, whilst a person with an equable nature seems to possess one hundred degrees, the one who attains fifty degrees may be far more pleasing to God, insofar as his apparently less virtue is the result of much greater efforts at self-control than the placid type ever had to exercise in his life.

781. You say each soul gets enough grace for salvation if it will but correspond.


782. Yet God creates souls immediately. What of those He creates with evil inherent tendencies?

No soul is evil in virtue of its creation by God. But the soul is not the complete human being. Man consists of both body and soul, and both cooperate in the formation of his personality. Now if the body be defective owing to parentage or malformation, the soul will be affected in its operations. And the body can be defective either in brain formation or in general dispositions. A defective brain, which the soul must use for its thought processes, may result in dullness and consequent ignorance, or even in complete imbecility. General dispositions can, as a result of inherited tendencies, give a propensity to sensuality in various forms, anger, or any other of the bodily passions. But the point to note is this, that these apparently evil tendencies are not due to the creative production of the soul by God, but to the quality of the bodily counterpart with which it is necessarily associated. In other words, they are due, not to the primary cause, God, but to secondary causes, whether physiological or psychological. Having cleared up this point as to the origin of inherited evil tendencies, let us turn to their effects as regards the salvation of the soul.

783. You say that enough grace is given such people to make up for their inherited evil tendencies. That seems a very doubtful proposition.

You make me say more than I have said. I say that enough grace is given them to enable them to save their souls. I do not say that that grace will so make up for their inherited evil tendencies that they will be on an equal footing with others. But you overlook a most important point. The salvation of a soul depends not only upon the use of grace, but upon the relative standards expected of the soul by God. Our Lord tells us clearly that God will adjust His demands according to the actual responsibility of each individual. And that that responsibility varies He shows in His parable of the talents, five being given to one man, two to another, and but one to a third. Not so much will be required of the man with but one talent as from him with five talents. Again, in Luke XL, 48, Christ says, "Unto whom much is given, of him much shall be required." But that God gives sufficient grace to each according to the standard required of him for salvation is not in the least a doubtful proposition. God has revealed that He sincerely wills the salvation of all men and also that grace is necessary for salvation. Therefore to all men He offers sufficient grace for their salvation according to their relative needs and the relative standards allotted to them.

784. Some souls are too brutal and hardened to be sensitive to grace. Does grace create a new moral nature within them?

Grace does not necessarily destroy inherited evil tendencies. But sufficient grace is offered to those with them to enable them to resist their influence. If they refuse to listen to the promptings of grace and of conscience, they may become more and more brutal and hardened, and less sensitive to grace. They become habitual sinners. But don't mix up the question of sanctification with that of salvation. Christ died for sinners. He came to save that which was lost, and He wills not the death of a sinner but that he be converted and live. Even after a lifetime of sin. He will still offer sufficient grace for salvation, and special graces towards the end of life when sinful attractions have lost much of their fascination.

785. You say he can turn to God if he will. But he could not easily do so, and my argument hinges on this point.

I presume your argument is that not every man does receive sufficient grace for salvation. If so, it hinges on a point which scarcely affects the case. He receives sufficient grace if he can save his soul. Whether he can do so easily or with difficulty is beside the point. As long as he can do so, the grace is not insufficient for salvation. Then, too, you seem confused on two important matters. Remember that final salvation does not imply that a man will necessarily correspond with every grace during life, or turn to God at this moment or that. He is saved if he actually dies in a state of grace, whatever his previous life may have been. Again, when you mention the word "easily," you are working on the old idea that it is harder for some people to be good than for others. Very good. But if that be truly so, their responsibility is diminished and God expects less of them. Yet, at the last, to say the least, He will give them grace sufficient for their radical conversion and salvation, a grace adjusted to their particular needs. If they need a greater grace than a less hardened person, they will get that greater grace. That grace will not force them. They will have to accept it voluntarily with whatever will-power they actually have. But it will be truly sufficient for their salvation according to their actual capacity and the relative standard God expects of them.

786. Even the well-disposed fall into sin at times, finding it hard to resist temptation. How much harder for one subject to evil tendencies and environment.

You are mixing up sanctification and salvation. A lifetime of holiness means the regular avoidance of sin, and the practice of Christian virtue. And we owe it in justice to God to strive to live such a life. But salvation is the blending of a state of God's friendship with the moment of death. And the problem put before me was the problem of salvation, not the problem of perpetual resistance of temptation and sin. It is harder for one subject to evil tendencies and environment to resist sin. But God will make every allowance for that. The man who sins when he can easily resist is of a far more malicious disposition than one who sins when he can't easily resist. And the former is in far more danger of dying in persevering malice than the latter.

787. Won't you admit that the one with evil heredity and environment has a harder task to save his soul than we have?

I admit that it is harder for him to live a life of consistent virtue. But I deny that sufficient grace will not be so offered him for his ultimate salvation that if he lose his soul, it will be due to his own fault. He may fall into sin more often during life. It may be harder for him to be good. But God will make every allowance for his disabilities and offer him a truly sufficient grace according to his necessities to enable him to die repentant.

788. Is not his harder task due to no fault of his?

Whatever is due to no fault of his will not interfere with his salvation. A man can be lost only for what is his own fault, not for what is not his own fault. God knows all the grades of personal responsibility and guilt, and will duly allow for them.

789. Why did you become a priest, and dedicate your life to the work of God, and why has some other unfortunate become a heathen? If we take the two lives and examine them we must find two different sets of circumstances over which neither party had any control.

This question sums up the mistake which characterizes your whole letter. You are dealing with man's relation to a supernatural destiny, yet you are trying to explain it by natural elements only. You are leaving out God and the influence of grace, and all notions of supernatural agency. It's rather like complaining that you can't dig up cube roots with a spade. Why did I become a priest, and why has some other unfortunate become a heathen? I became a priest because God inspired me with the thought to do so, and because I chose to correspond with that good inspiration. I need not have done so. I could have refused and could have become a heathen. Why did some other unfortunate become a heathen? Well, if he ever possessed the Christian faith, he became a heathen because he chose not to correspond with the grace God gave him. If you took our two lives, you will not find different sets of circumstances over which we had no control, in the sense you intend. Some circumstances may have happened which we could not control, but we did not lose the power to control ourselves in those circumstances. That is the point you overlook. I could not control the fact that I was brought into contact with the claims of the Catholic Church. But acceptance or rejection of those claims certainly was within my control.

790. What did Christ mean by the parable in which the late arrivals re-ceived the same pay as those who had worked all day, and who justly protested?

The parable is not to be interpreted literally and merely from this world's point of view, but as exhibiting the conditions of the kingdom of heaven to which Christ applied His illustration. Eternal salvation depends upon the gift of divine grace, and God will grant that salvation by justice to those who have served Him from their youth, by mercy and goodness to those who turn to Him in repentance or later stages of life, or even at the last moment. And no one will ever have the right to complain against God whether He manifests His justice or His mercy in granting salvation to any given soul. Equity will be secured, of course, by the greater glory and merit of those who have served God longer and more faithfully on earth. But our Lord is not here concerned with that. He is concerned with the general fact of eternal salvation given equally to souls of various qualifications. The parable was directed against the Pharisees who thought themselves the elite, and condemned our Lord's goodness to the publicans and sinners, as if these poor people should not be given any hope of eternal salvation. They thought that was theirs by right, and that God was not free to grant it to others even in sheer mercy. Where the dispensation of grace is concerned God is above all human criticism.

791. I understand that Catholic people believe that they can be saved if forgiven by a priest up to the last moment of life.

That is so. We Catholics dare not put limits to God's mercy; God has Himself declared that His mercy outnumbers all reckoning on the part of men. But don't conclude that Catholics believe that they are justified in continuing in sin merely because if a man repents at the last he can be saved. They know quite well that they are never justified in continuing in a state of sin. God has promised forgiveness when a man does repent, but He has never promised time to repent. If a man mocks God's mercy by making it the excuse for further sin, and for further delay in his conversion, such a man forfeits any right to mercy at the last. If he repents he will save his soul, but how does he know that he will not meet with a sudden and unforeseen death? If he receives the Sacraments from a priest, and is in proper dispositions, he will save his soul, but what guarantee has he that a priest will be available just where and when he is needed? Remember, too, that according to Catholic doctrine, sins, even though forgiven, have to be expiated in purgatory; and the man who barely saves his soul after a lifetime of sin, will expiate his sins in a purgatory that will scarcely bear description. God is not mocked. Sins cannot be multiplied with impunity, even though God is merciful.

792. If two Catholics die, one after a good life, and another after an evil life, but getting forgiven before he dies, does the evil one get the same reward as the good one?

No. The evil one will have far more to expiate in purgatory, and when he does enter heaven, will attain a far lower degree of happiness and glory than the one who has consistently served God.

793. Don't you think it would be very hard on one who lived a very good life, but was unfortunate enough to die at the last with a mortal sin on his soul?

That is hardly a likely contingency. But if it did happen, it would be hard for such a person, but not unjust. Firstly, he has no need and no right to be in a state of mortal sin when death comes. Secondly, his previous good life does not affect the matter. The observance of all God's commandments for sixty years gives no right whatever to violate one of them then. It's like arguing that a man is justified in stealing on Tuesday because he did not commit adultery on the preceding Monday.

794. On the other hand a person who had led a bad life could repent at the last and save his soul.

That's not hard on anybody. The grace of repentance is always at the disposal of men of good will, offered through the sheer mercy of Christ. Both the cases you give me could have accepted it. The first man did not, the second man did.

795. The good man would go to hell, and the had man to purgatory. That's hardly fair, is it?

Fairness is not involved in this question. Firstly, you are comparing two cases which have no relation to each other. The fact that the wicked man accepted God's mercy has no relation whatever to the fact that the previously good man would not have it. Remember that God offered sufficient grace equally to both according to the necessities of each. Supposing that I meet two beggars, and offer each half-a-dollar; if one notices that I am a priest, and through bigoted enmity towards me, spits on the ground and refuses to take my offering, whilst the other gratefully accepts it, are you going to blame me for injustice because one man goes without his dinner, whilst the other has it? Again, you are not right in assuming that the good man, as you put it, is condemned to hell. You are thinking only of his previous goodness, forgetting your own supposition of subsequent mortal sin. Being in a state of mortal sin, he is no longer a good man, and you have no right to assume that he is still good. Nor is he condemned to hell for any of his previous goodness. He is condemned for being an evil man in a state of enmity with God, a state which no previous goodness could justify. And the bad man is not saved because he was bad. He is saved because he had ceased to be bad, repenting of his crimes, and becoming good in God's sight by his willing correspondence with the grace offered him. We cannot exclude goodness by supposing that a man falls into mortal sin and dies in that state, and yet still regard that man as possessing goodness. Nor can we suppose a bad man converted to goodness, and then argue as if he were saved because of his badness.




The Sacraments

796. Catholics seem to rely so much upon external rites such as their Sacraments. A spiritual life does not require external rites.

A spiritual life to be lived by human beings requires them. We are not angels. We have both a soul and a body, and religion must cater for our complete needs. We live by our senses, and acquire our certainty from sense data. Significant symbols, and rites and ceremonies play a big part in the individual and social lives even of those who object to our religious rites. God Himself respects our twofold spiritual and material nature, and leads us to Himself by means on our own level. The soul uses the bodily powers in God's service, and God uses the bodily rites called the Sacraments in communicating grace to men. He wishes to sanctify man just as man was made by Him.

797. God would not employ material things in His religion.

God employed material forces in our creation, and He employs them to recreate us in grace. It is quite normal that a material element should intervene in both cases. In our natural lives we use the forces of God immanent in nature. The Sacraments are the forces proper to God in our supernatural and spiritual lives.

798. Is not God Himself a spirit?

He is. But we are flesh. And we have to rise above the flesh to a spiritual plane, from the natural level to the God-level. To enable us to do so, the Eternal Son of God came down to earth and took flesh, obviously setting before us and using a material nature for our spiritual regeneration. It is quite in harmony with this that material and visible Sacraments should be used to continue the work of our spiritual regeneration.


799. You teach that a child after Baptism is free from the guilt of original sin?

Such is the teaching of Christ, who instituted the Sacrament of Baptism precisely to confer the life of divine grace as opposed to the state of spiritual death common to all souls in virtue of their birth as members of a guilty human race.

800. When the child grows up and marries, do not his children inherit original sin? How can this be, if the parents have been freed from original sin by Baptism?

A right understanding of the Christian doctrine of original sin is the all-sufficient answer to that question. Original sin is not something positive. It is essentially the absence of divine grace. Now, by the natural process of generation, parents can transmit human nature as they received it from their own parents. But they cannot, by this merely natural process, transmit supernatural grace which they received, not from their parents, but immediately and individually from God. Therefore, their children will be born in a merely natural state, and not in the supernatural state conferred only by a spiritual gift from God. Until the children receive that spiritual gift of grace by Baptism, they will be in the state of original sin, sharing in the collective and racial spiritual bankruptcy of unregenerated humanity. Remember that Christian parents do not generate children in virtue of their spiritual regeneration by Baptism, but in virtue of the fact that they were generated in a merely natural way by their own parents. Children, therefore, must be given the spiritual life of divine grace by Baptismal regeneration individually.

801. Is it possible for a man to believe the Gospel, and show forth the fruits of the Spirit of God, yet be eternally lost through lack of Baptism?

No. But no such man would deliberately omit Baptism were he aware of its necessity. If he were not aware of its necessity, his ignorance would excuse him from responsibility.

802. Is it possible for a child who has not attained the faculty of under-standing, to be eternally saved by virtue of Baptism?


803. Will the soul of a baptised imbecile go to heaven?

Yes. Where else could such a soul go?

804. Christ said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," A lunatic cannot believe.

He said much more than that. Those particular words are applicable to all normal adults who have had the doctrines of Christ sufficiently explained to them. In the case of infants, it is sufficient for them to be born again of water and the Holy Spirit in Baptism. Every birth means a life; and this rebirth implants in them the grace of Christ as the very seed of eternal life. An imbecile is ranked as an infant who has not attained to personal responsibility.

805. I think an innocent baby's soul, which hasn't reason to consent to original sin, is left to God's own way, if it hasn't gone through God's form of initiation into His Church by Baptism.

Firstly, whilst a baby's soul is innocent of any personally committed sin, it is not innocent of original sin. Every human being born into this world is born as a child of a guilty race. "By nature," says St. Paul, "we were children of wrath." Again, it is enough to be a child of a guilty race to share in its inheritance of guilt. Personal consent, after having attained the use of reason, is not required before original sin becomes operative. Thirdly, it is a contradiction to say that it is left to God's own way, if it hasn't gone through God's form of initiation by Baptism. For if Baptism be God's way, if the child be not baptized, it has been excluded from God's way.

806. God said, "Unless a man be born again of water, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." But 1 think that applies to a person who really knows he should he baptized, and deliberately refuses.

According to the Greek text God says, "Unless one be baptized," not "unless a man be baptized." By birth a child attains its natural life, but is by no means born into the supernatural life of divine grace. And precisely because it has not attained to the use of reason and to an ability to secure sanctifying grace by its own interior and personal desires, it has but one means of getting it; and that is by the actual Baptismal rite.

807. Was Christ's death for the remission of sin useless?

No. That is evident from the fact that some are saved through that death who would not otherwise be saved. Here let me explain the character of Christ's redemptive work. By his sin, Adam forfeited for himself and all his posterity any right to heaven. And we are all born in spiritual bankruptcy as far as our inheritance of eternal supernatural happiness is concerned. Now Christ died to atone for the sin of Adam, and make it possible for men to recover their right to heaven. But He Himself laid down the conditions by which souls would benefit by His death. And one of the necessary conditions He declared to be Baptism. If an infant dies without Baptism, therefore, it lacks the application to itself of Christ's merits. But that does not mean that His death was useless in itself. The soul in whose case the conditions appointed by Christ are not verified, fails to benefit by the all-sufficient price He has paid.

808. All infants are saved, and go straight to heaven by the blessed sacrificial work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You wrongly take it for granted that no other conditions were appointed for salvation save the death of Christ on the Cross. But Christ Himself laid down very definite conditions for the application to souls of His redeeming work. And one of those conditions is Baptism. Every birth means-life. A child born of its earthly parents gets a natural life. But Christ offers another life which can't be got from earthly parents, and which demands, therefore, another birth. And He tells us that it is a rebirth by water and the Holy Spirit. An unbaptized infant lacks that second birth, and the second principle of life given by it. And it is not capable of inheriting the higher destiny to which Baptismal rebirth gives access.

809. Did not St. Augustine teach that all unbaptized infants are cast into the torment of eternal fire?

No. To understand St. Augustine's mind on the subject we must notice the circumstances under which he wrote. He was engaged in refuting the Pelagians who denied original sin, and taught that unbaptized infants attained supernatural happiness in a place distinct from heaven. St. Augustine proved the fact of original sin, and denied the existence of any state of supernatural happiness apart from heaven. But he did not suspect the possibility of a third state of purely natural happiness. For him, therefore, it was a question of either heaven or hell for eternity. But he admitted that hell would have two aspects, deprivation of the Vision of God, and positive suffering for personal sins. Whilst insisting that unbaptized infants could not attain to the Vision of God, he declared that he did not see how they could meet with positive suffering. In Epistle 116 he wrote, "I don't know what to say when you ask what their sufferings will be." And in his treatise against Julian he says, "Our Lord declares of wicked men that it would be better for them had they never been born. But who can doubt that infants, dying only in original sin, and without any personal sins, will encounter the least of penalties? Although I cannot define of what kind or how great those penalties will be, yet I would not dare to assert that it would be belter for those infants had they never been born." After those words of St. Augustine it is certainly not correct to say that he taught that unbaptized infants are cast into the torment of eternal fire.

810. I cannot find the word Limbo in the Bible.

You will not find the word itself there. But the teachings of the Bible render necessary the admission of the intermediate state described by those words. In a similar way, we speak of having a child christened. The word christened is not in the Bible. But people don't object to it on that account. For the Bible teaches that Baptism makes a child belong to Christ and incorporates that child in Christ. And the word christened beautifully expresses that reality.

811. I want exact Biblical references, with direct texts, without any build ing up of theories.

To that I must reply firstly, that Catholic theologians did not invent the idea of Limbo for the sheer joy of doing so, and then try to back up the theory from Scripture. It was their study of Scripture which forced them to conclude that the souls of unbaptized infants must have a state reserved for them which may fittingly be called Limbo by us, if we are to speak of such things at all. Secondly, you ask that I give exact Biblical references for the conclusions arrived at. Now a conclusion from a given text is a logical inference from that text. But in the next breath you say that you will not accept any logical inferences at all. Evidently, then, you wish for a direct text from Scripture expressly teaching that such infants do go to Limbo. I admit frankly that no such text can be found in the Bible. Our teaching is a logical necessity in the light of other texts. But, although no direct text is in the Bible, remember that you can prove our doctrine wrong on that score only provided you can prove that such a direct text must be in the Bible before we are justified in believing in Limbo. That would shift the discussion to the question of the sources of Christian doctrine.

812. Inferences, or logical deduction will carry no weight. Let us to the Law and the Testimony.

Let us to the Law and the Testimony by all means. But if you will not accept logical deduction from the Law and the Testimony, I cannot help you. All I can point out to you is that you are taking up a most unreasonable attitude, and one opposed to the very methods of Christ. For He did appeal, again and again, to logical deduction from the Law as being a source of truth. Take the famous occasion when our Lord wished to prove to the Pharisees the supernatural origin and the divine dignity of the Messiah. He relied upon logical deduction: "What think ye of the Christ?" was His question to them. "Whose son is He?" They replied, "David's." "How then," said Jesus, "doth David in spirit call Him Lord: saying: The Lord said to my Lord: Sit thou on my right hand. If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son?" The logical deduction was clear. The Christ could not be merely the son of David. Though promised an earthly lineage derived from David, the Messiah must obviously be much more than a mere descendant of David, if David had to call Him Lord. Scripture tells us that, to this inference of Christ, no man was able to answer Him a word. But, if your ideas were right, the Pharisees should have said, "Inferences or logical deductions carry no weight with us. Give us an exact and express text from Scripture saying that the Christ will be the Son of God." They were not so foolish as to thus violate reason. However, I am merely pointing out to you that your rejection of logical deduction is opposed to the very procedure of Christ Himself.

813. The word Baptism is a Greek word, meaning immersion. Now to immerse is to cover the whole body. Why speak of Baptism, when you don't baptize.

The Catholic Church does baptize, though it is not her practice to do so by immersion. She does so by pouring the water upon the person to be baptized. It is true that the literal sense of the word baptize in Greek is to immerse. But the literal sense of a word is not always the only correct sense. We have to ask whether a word in current use has acquired an accepted sense by those using it; and above all, when the word is chosen to denote some special rite. Thus St. Mark uses the Greek word baptize to signify washing. Jesus used the word Baptism to express the agony and suffering of the passion awaiting Him. No sound argument, there-fore, can be drawn from the literal sense of the Greek word; and you can safely leave the correct application of the Sacrament of Baptism to the Church.

814. Christ Himself was baptised by being immersed in the River Jordan.

That is probably correct; though it is possible that our Lord merely stood in shallow water, and allowed John the Baptist to pour water over His head.

815. How did the departure from the method of immersion come about?

Through necessity, and in the times of the Apostles themselves. Immersion is a lawful method of Baptism, but it is not a necessary method. St. Paul himself was baptized in the house of Ananias. In turn, whilst in prison, St. Paul baptized his jailer under circumstances where immersion was impossible. Nor are invalids to be deprived of Baptism because they cannot be carried to water in which they can be immersed. Baptism by pouring the water, instead of by immersion, has been practiced in the Church from Apostolic times. The practice of Baptism by immersion gradually grew less frequent in the Church until, about the thirteenth century, Baptism by pouring became the universal method.

816. I find no record of infant Baptism in God's Word.

Letting that pass, you will find no record there that children were not baptized, and no trace of a prescription forbidding the Baptism of infants. If you want to show that the Baptism of infants is against the evidence of Scripture, you must first produce the evidence either that the Apostles deliberately refused to baptize infants, or that they taught expressly that infants were not to be baptized. Search how you will, you will never find any evidence of these things.

817. One must be an adult, and have faith, and understand Baptism.

That idea is based on a misunderstanding of the New Testament, and of the nature of Baptism. Baptists say that in the New Testament converts were required to believe and be baptized, and that the only practice recorded is the baptizing of adults. But, obviously, when a new religion is first taught, it must be addressed to adults, and they must be asked to believe in the new religion before submitting to its requirements. But nowhere in the New Testament is there the faintest suggestion that adults only could be baptized. On the other hand, Christ expressly said, "Unless one be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." And a child is someone. Christ also sent the Apostles to teach and baptize all nations, and the term "all nations" certainly includes men, women and children. Our Lord did not say, "Baptize the adults only of all nations." More than once we are told that, when certain adults were converted, they and all their household were baptized. Again, St. Paul tells us that Baptism for Christians replaces circumcision, yet circumcision aggregated even children to God's chosen people. Is the New Law to be less perfect than the Old, containing no purifying rite for children? And if all human beings born of Adam are born children of God's anger, is Adam's sin able to ruin all, yet Christ unable to save any except adults? The rejection of infant Baptism is opposed to the whole tenor of Christianity. But chiefly this error arises from the loss of right notions of grace and of the supernatural life given by Christ, and from a complete mistake concerning the nature of Baptism.

818. If Protestant Churches are false, why does the Catholic Church recognize Protestant Baptisms?

Because Baptism, as a Sacrament of such necessity, can be administered by anyone, provided he pours water which comes into actual contact with the one to be baptized, says at the same time the right words, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," and intends to do what Christ intended in instituting the Sacrament. Since the Sacrament operates independently of the faith or morals of the human agent, and derives all its efficacy from the will and merits of Christ, you can see that the faith or virtue of the minister does not of itself affect the validity of Baptism.

819. If that be so, why does the Catholic Church baptize converts again?

The Catholic Church re-baptizes conditionally only because of a doubt at times whether one was baptized or christened at all, or because, if baptized, the water may not have been rightly applied, or the correct words may not have been used, or the right intention may have been absent. So many non-Catholic ministers have become loose in their notions as to the nature and necessity of Baptism; and so many are careless in its administration, that the Catholic Church treats the previous Baptism as at least doubtful. And this Sacrament is so important, that it is in their own interests to be quite sure that people have received it validly. Therefore, all converts are re-baptized conditionally. The priest says, "If thou are not validly baptized, I now baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." If the first Baptism was valid in God's sight, the second has no effect. If the first was not valid, the second one avails.


820. I cannot but regard the whole business of Confession as an unjustified usurpation of conscience.

To declare independence of a means appointed by God is the usurpation of rights which do not belong to us. We get forgiveness from God in the way God appointed. The Church exists to take us to God. When we want to be reconciled with God, we apply to the Church, and God's reply comes to us through the Church. When you remember that all are obliged by this law of Confession, Pope, bishops, priests, and laity, you must see that all idea of usurpation is excluded. If the clergy were conscious that Confession was an unjust usurpation of authority over the laity, they would not submit to the obligation of Confession themselves. No. It is not a usurpation. The practice of Confession is due to our faith in Christ, and a spirit of obedience to His manifest will. And those who refuse the obligation, forfeit also its graces and privileges.

821. God alone forgives sin through our own personal application.

Of course, the one who is offended is the one who must do the forgiving. But you overlook one point. He who can forgive immediately and personally, can also communicate forgiveness through agents of his own choice. A King can forgive a rebellious subject himself, or he can give his authority to an official empowering him to do so. In both cases, forgiveness would ultimately rest upon the authority of the King. So, too, forgiveness of sin must rest ultimately upon the authority of God. In that sense, God alone can forgive sin. But if you say that God cannot delegate His authority, how could authority be given by Christ to His Apostles? When Christ said to them, "Receive the Holy Ghost: whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven," did He give them any real power, or was He uttering words He knew to be meaningless? And if He gave them real power, and they did have authority to forgive sin, what becomes of your assertion that God alone can do so? The Apostles were men, after all. And if there were men in the early Church from whom Christians could secure forgiveness, why should conditions in the same Church differ now, in so vital a matter? If you deny that the power to forgive sin was handed on in the Church, you may as well deny that the power to baptize, or even the commission to preach the Gospel was handed on. In fact, you would have to deny that Christ ever meant His Church to continue through the ages just as He had constituted it. Personal dispositions of sorrow, and the will to make necessary reparation are always necessary for the forgiveness of sin. But, granted these dispositions, we are to secure forgiveness from those whom God Himself has authorized to forgive sin in His name. The priests of the Catholic Church have that power, transmitted to them from the Apostles, who received it from Christ.

822. St. Paul says, "There is one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy II., 5.

That text in no way militates against Catholic doctrine. For Catholic doctrine teaches that in Confession Jesus exercises His mediation by using human instruments or agents. After all, Baptism is a Sacrament instituted by Christ, and to be administered by human beings in His name. Yet no one ever worries lest the human beings who administer Baptism should be interfering with the mediation of Christ. And if Christ can institute one Sacrament for the conferring of grace by human instrumentality, why could He not institute another Sacrament, such as that of Confession? The principle is the same in both cases. The mediation of Christ is not affected in this matter. It is all a question of how Christ willed His own mediation to be applied to men. It is then, a question of fact. Did Christ will His mediation to be applied to men by means of sacramental absolution of sins, an absolution administered in His name by men? He did. Otherwise His words to the Apostles, very much human beings, are simply unintelligible. He breathed on them; said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost"; and then declared the scope and purpose of this new gift of supernatural power. "Whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven."

823. In your own Roman Catholic Version I read, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father: Jesus Christ the just." 1 John II., 1.

And did you think that the Catholic Church has been unaware for two thousand years of the existence of those words in her own Version of the Bible?

824. According to your own Church's Version, Jesus is revealed as the sinner's advocate before God; not the priest. How will you reply to that?

Without the slightest difficulty. For you are stating Catholic doctrine. Every Catholic knows that, even in the confessional, it is Christ who forgives the sin through the priest to whom He has merely delegated His own power. The priest is but the instrument used by Christ, our one great Advocate, in the work of forgiving sin. No priest, therefore, dreams that, by his own natural and human power, he can forgive sin. He exercises a communicated power which is ever proper to Christ who remains the sinner's real advocate before God.

825. By paying the price of our sins which is death, and by conquering death, He is in a position to forgive sin and to be our Advocate, our Intercessor, and our Mediator.

That is quite true. But you must not stop at that. You must go on from there and ask how Jesus chose to exercise His mediation. And it is evident that He chose to do so through His chosen Apostles and their successors.

826. If we attempt to come any other way, Jesus said, we are thieves and robbers.

It is true that we must come by the way He Himself has appointed. After all, it is for the Savior to dictate the terms of salvation, not the sinner who is to be saved.

That is why we Catholics accept Confession. But when you deny the existence of any power to forgive sin in the Church, despite the witness of the Word of God, it is you who wish to go a different way from that appointed by Christ.

827. The priest, after all, is an ordinary mortal.

The prophet Isaiah was a human being like anyone else, how then did he have prophetic power? God gave it to him, and he had it, not insofar as he was a human being, but insofar as he was commissioned by God. So, too, insofar as he is an ordinary mortal, the priest cannot forgive sin. But insofar as he is ordained a priest he is not an ordinary mortal; for not all ordinary mortals have been ordained priests. It is only insofar as he has been ordained a priest, therefore, that he can forgive sin. In John XX., 23, you will read that Christ said to the Apostles, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven." If you said to Christ, "But, Lord, these men are ordinary mortals; how can they forgive sin?" He would reply, "By the power I have just given them. And I had to give them that special power precisely because as ordinary mortals they would never be able to do so."

828. Priests, being only human, are just as liable to commit sin as other men.

Not just as liable. It is just as possible for a priest to sin, but not just as probable. The state and duties of a priest preserve him from many of the occasions of sin a layman has to meet.

829. If a priest is a sinner, how can he possibly forgive the sin of another person?

That question arises from your notion that a priest forgives sin by his own personal and human powers, in virtue of his own merit and holiness. He does not. It is the power of Christ operating through the priest, and applying the merits of Christ, not of the priest, to the penitent. The personal worthiness or unworthiness of the priest cannot rob him of his ordination, nor of the priestly powers conferred by that ordination. For example, supposing that a judge in a law court has been guilty of dishonesty on Wednesday in his personal private life, how can he sit in judgment on another man in court on Thursday and condemn or acquit him in a similar matter? His jurisdiction is from the state, and he judges, not in virtue of his personal worth, but as an agent through whom state authority operates. So, too, the authority of Christ operates through the priest in his official capacity, and quite independently of that priest's personal holiness or otherwise.

830. Is a Catholic who confesses to a priest any better off than a Protestant who confesses to God?

Yes, in many ways. Firstly, the one who goes to Confession seeks forgiveness in the way our Lord prescribed instead of laying down his own conditions. Secondly, by confessing to a priest, the Catholic benefits by an act of Christian humility the other avoids. Thirdly, the Catholic receives many Sacramental graces the other does not receive. Fourthly, the Catholic has an objective and solid assurance of forgiveness where the other has but subjective persuasion. Fifthly, the Catholic can secure sound advice as to his or her spiritual life and the will of God concerning reparation or restitution to be made, whilst the other is left to uninstructed self-guidance.

831. The attraction of Confession must be because it is most consoling.

It is most consoling. And yet that is not our reason for the practice of Confession. Our reason lies in our obedience to the will of Christ. And obedience is independent of feelings whether of consolation or repugnance. Christ did intend Confession to be a help and a consolation to troubled souls. But such consolation is an effect of Confession. It is not the cause of our belief in Confession. Faith in Christ and His Church is the cause of our belief in Confession, and a sense of duty makes the Catholic seek absolution should he be so unfortunate as to fall into sin.

832. Is a priest obliged to observe complete secrecy concerning the sins confessed to him?

Yes. The obligation is absolute. In no way at all may a priest ever betray the sins of a penitent to others.

833. So the priest must keep secret even the confessions of murder!

A priest is obliged to keep secret whatever he hears in Confession. And the sins confessed do not necessarily include murder. The obligation of secrecy falls on the priest the moment a man tells his sins in Confession, for the simple reason that the priest would know nothing about them unless the man did tell them in Confession. And since he tells his sins solely for the good of his soul, and not for any considerations affecting this world, the priest must behave towards this world as if he had never heard those sins. Before the Confession, the priest knows nothing, and is as little able to betray the sinner as any other man. And the sinner is quite free to leave the priest in that state of ignorance, by not confessing to him at all. If he does confess to this or that priest, it is for the sake of his soul, and the whole matter is beyond any jurisdiction proper to this world. A priest may use only that knowledge which comes to him in the ordinary way in which knowledge comes to any other citizens. He cannot use knowledge confided to him in the confessional, and confided to him not as to a fellow man, but as to the representative of God.

834. If a murderer went to Confession, would the priest give him absolution?

If he happened to be a Catholic, and was indeed truly sorry, yes. But remember that, if a man is truly sorry, that includes the intention to fulfill all the conditions required for absolution. He would be prepared, therefore, to make such reparation as the law of God might require. For example, if he murdered a man upon whom a wife and children were dependent for their very existence, he would be obliged to provide for their upkeep in place of the breadwinner of whom he had deprived them. As far as possible, men are obliged to repair the harm they do to others.

835. My point is as to whether the priest could give absolution, knowing that the man had not confessed publicly to the crime.

The priest could certainly do so, provided the man were sincerely sorry for his sin against God's commandments, and were prepared to make such reparation as he could of harm to others. The law of God does not require that one who commits a crime should denounce himself to the state. Civil law itself does not require that. Even after his arrest, civil law allows a criminal to plead not guilty. Therefore, it certainly does not expect a man to denounce himself as guilty before his arrest.

836. If this man could get absolution for such a heinous offense, I think the Church would be encouraging such crimes.

That is absurd. The priest must warn the man that absolution cannot be given unless he resolves to avoid such sins for the future. Absolution is given, therefore, only on the understanding that the man determines not to commit any further murders. Is it encouraging sin to urge people not to commit it?

537. The man might resolve to sin no more, yet before long do so.

If he did so, it would not be because he had resolved not to do so. To whatever cause you might attribute his later sin, you certainly could not attribute it to the fact that he confessed his previous sin and resolved not to be guilty of it again.

838. if he were truly sorry once again, he could receive absolution again, though his crimes might never be revealed publicly.

That is perfectly true. But what is your objection to that? If you object to the fact that a man who is truly sorry for his sins can get forgiveness no matter how serious and frequent has been his guilt in the past, you object to the mercy of God. If, on the other hand, you object to the fact that state officials have never discovered the man's crimes, you object merely to the inefficiency of those officials. But I don't see why the failure of the police to detect and arrest a criminal should prevent that criminal from repenting of his sin against God's laws, and securing God's forgiveness.

839. If my reasoning is wrong, please point out my error.

To my mind your errors are legion. You seem to think that a man ought not to be forgiven by God for a present sin, for which he is truly sorry now, because he was forgiven a past sin for which he was truly sorry then. Again, you seem to regard the forgiveness of sin at any time as a kind of permission to commit still further sin in the future. A further error is the implied idea that the priest in the confessional is an agent employed on behalf of civil jurisdiction. He is not. Another little error is your notion that one who violates state laws is obliged to denounce himself to state authorities. And, worse still, you argue as if the failure of the state to vindicate its own laws forbids God to forgive those who repent of having violated His laws. All these ideas are erroneous, and as they form the basis of your argumentation, that must be rejected as erroneous also.

840. If a murderer's victim goes to hell, how could the murderer in common justice be forgiven, and get to heaven?

Justice, common or otherwise, does not enter into this particular phase of the question. The victim committed a mortal sin. The murderer did not make him commit it. And the victim had no right to be in that state and unrepentant, when death happened to come. The murderer causes his death even as a flash of lightning might have caused it. But the being in mortal sin was the victim's personal fault, despite God's warning, "Be ye ready, for ye know not the day and the hour." Now, as the victim committed mortal sin, so the murderer, granting sanity, also commits a mortal sin in killing the victim. Had the victim repented sincerely of his mortal sin prior to his death, his soul would be saved. If the murderer sincerely repents, he will be saved. You may say, "Yes. But the murderer will live on and have time to repent. But the victim does not." Yet remember that the victim did have time and should have repented after he had committed his sin instead of remaining in that state of soul until death surprised him. God's mercy is available to every soul whenever the soul chooses to turn to Him with an act of perfect sorrow. If the victim fails to do so, he loses his soul through his own fault. If the murderer does so, he saves his soul through God's mercy. Salvation of soul is an individual responsibility and to every man sufficient grace is offered. Anyone who commits a serious sin and does not return to the friendship and love of God by prayer and an act of perfect sorrow and repentance before the day is out, is simply a fool.

841. Why is a priest hidden from view behind a curtain in the confessional?

The privacy of the confessional is solely in favor of the penitent, not in favor of the priest. People are obliged to confess their sins to a priest, not to the general public. As they prefer to see a doctor in the privacy of his surgery, when dealing with bodily disease, so they prefer to speak of their spiritual diseases to a priest in the privacy of the confessional. The priest would much prefer to sit in the open fresh air rather than in so small, confined, and uncomfortable a place, but he puts up with the self-sacrifice for the benefit of those who seek consolation, advice, and absolution from him.

842. When Christ had any dealings with people He did not screen Himself off.

Christ did not finally commission His Church to begin her work until Pentecost Sunday. Only then did all the powers He conferred upon her begin to be ex-ercised in the preaching of the new religion, and you could scarcely expect to find confessionals until Christian Churches had been built. Meantime, you will notice that Christ reserved His private conversation with the woman taken in adultery until her accusers had been made to slink away. Jesus alone remained, and the woman. So, too, when He spoke to the woman by the well and mentioned to her that the man with whom she was living was not her husband, he reserved this betrayal of her sin to her for a moment when His disciples were absent in the city. Whether privacy be secured by retiring from others or sending them away is im-material, so long as the privacy demanded by justice and charity be secured.


843. Do you think a priest's personal opinion of a penitent would be lowered by hearing his Confession?

No. Confession is a most impersonal thing. I may be very friendly personally with some Catholic man. Should he ask me to hear his Confession, the moment I enter the confessional, our relations completely change. I am no longer his personal friend for the purposes of this action. I am simply any priest. He is no longer acting in any capacity as my friend. He is just any soul. As professionally as any surgeon concentrating on the physical troubles of a patient, I concentrate on the spiritual troubles of the penitent, whoever he may be. The moment the words of absolution have been said, the priest dismisses all thought of what he has heard in the confessional; and five minutes later you would find him talking with the penitent on the normal friendly basis as if no Confession had been made at all. No one has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a greater sympathy with human frailties, than a priest. All human beings have their faults. If a friend asks me to hear his Confession, it is not a shock to me to hear that he has faults. That I know quite well, without his confessing to me. All he does is to confess his particular faults to me, as he would otherwise confess them to some other priest. I merely hear them in my capacity as a priest, give the spiritual advice I would give to any soul in similar circumstances, pronounce the words of absolution if warranted, and then dismiss the matter, consigning all that I have heard to that oblivion in which thousands of Confessions lie buried and forgotten.

844. Are not young priests taught all kinds of indelicacies and abominations in the name of moral theology as a preparation for the confessional?

No. They are fully trained in a knowledge of the spiritual diseases of humanity, just as medical men in bodily diseases. But minute descriptions are not necessary, not as necessary in fact as they are in 'medical training. A priest is trained to know facts concerning the ways in which God's commandments can be broken, the causes, effects, and remedies. But minute descriptions of the facts are not necessary. If human legislation needs a special body of men trained legally to explain its extent and application, you can be quite sure that God's legislation also needs a body of men trained in the science of its interpretation and application. Yet outside the Catholic Church, men who would never consider themselves competent to interpret human law, think themselves fully capable of interpreting Divine law for themselves. A mistake in interpreting human legislation might mean a civil offense against the state, and, of course, that would be terrible. But a mistake in interpreting Divine law would only be an offense against God, and, of course, that doesn't matter. Catholics are wiser. The Catholic Church puts at their disposal a body of men who have all had a full four years' course in the science of moral theology and canon law, and Catholics consult them. Protestant clergymen have not had this training, and, in any case, how many of their own people consult them on purely personal and interior matters of conscience? One High-Church Anglican clergyman admitted to me that he had no real training at all for the hearing of Confessions, and said that he had to hear them, though the Anglican Church had no right to let him be ordained with such inadequate training in moral theology.

845. If I were a Catholic, I would have to confess all my venial and mortal sins in all their sordid, revolting, and soul-polluting details.

You would not have to confess every one of those sins. Catholics have no obligation to confess venial sins. Your mistake in that matter, of course, does not affect your question, for Catholics are obliged to confess their mortal sins, which are necessarily the more grave. But, even as regards mortal sins, you are again mistaken in thinking that penitents have to go into all the sordid, revolting, and soul-polluting details. They have not to describe their sins; they have to confess the sinful facts of which they have been guilty. Commenting on the strange notions held by some non-Catholics concerning this matter, non-Catholics who have had no experience of the confessional in practice and who rely on their peculiar imagination, G. K. Chesterton says, "Nobody has to go into such morbid detail confessing to a priest as in confessing to a doctor. What matters in the confessional is the moral guilt, not the material details. But the material details are everything in medicine, even for the most respectable physician, let alone all the anarchial quacks who have been let loose to hear confessions in the name of psychoanalysis."

846. Moral corruption appears to me to he almost inescapable, owing to the very nature and purpose of the confessional.

You do not understand the nature and purpose of the confessional. If you were to contrast the nature of the confessional with the nature of the doctor's surgery, you would find the confessional a thousand times better safeguarded against abuses than the surgery. Yet you don't suggest that moral corruption is almost inescapable in the medical profession. Again, the purpose of the confessional is the destruction of "sin, and the prescribing of precautions against sin. Naturally a priest does not go to the confessional expecting to hear a list of the penitent's virtues. He expects to hear the story of human frailties. But he hears this story with a sense of responsibility and in a frame of mind which is bent on the salvation of souls to the exclusion of any particular interest in the nature of the sins confessed. Also, when a priest is conscious that he is the representative of the mercy of Christ, and that he is administering a Sacrament of Christ, he is in an atmosphere of grace which is in itself a protection. No medical physician, whether by circumstances or the nobility of his duties, is so well safeguarded as the spiritual physician in the Catholic confessional.

The Holy Eucharist

847. I presume that the Eucharist is of supreme importance in your religion.

It is. Since the Eucharist is the sacramental presence of Christ Himself in the Catholic Church, it cannot but be the very heart and soul of our religion. As a matter of fact, there is no true Christianity without the Eucharist any more than there is without the Incarnation itself.

848. My studies have shown that union with God by eating is the law in all ancient religions.

Your studies should have shown you that the immense differences totally unexpected far outweigh any expected similarities between the Christian doctrine, and any ritualistic taking of food in ancient pagan religions.

849. Could not the first Christians have got the idea from pagan religions?

No. The first Christians were Jews, rigidly attached to Mosaic beliefs and rites. They would never have abandoned those beliefs and rites for pagan rites which they hated and held in the utmost abomination. Christ Himself instituted the Eucharist, and apart from that no one would have dreamed of inventing it. Christians accepted it because they believed in Christ. They had no other reason for doing so, and a right idea of the Christian doctrine shows that no pagan rites could have given rise to such a concept.

850. I have read that primitive Christians used bread and water for the Eucharist, copying Mithraism, the rival religion which so severely challenged Christianity.

Mithraism was widespread during the first centuries of Christianity, chiefly amongst pagan Roman soldiers. This pagan and mythological religion did include in its rites a symbolical banquet of bread and water. But the rite was in no way sacramental in the Christian sense of the word, and had no similarity with the Christian Sacrament of the Eucharist any more than any other partaking of bread and water under any other conceivable circumstances. Above all, the statement is entirely untrue when it suggests that the use of bread and water in a Christian Communion service is a reversion to primitive Christian practice. Never did the early Christians substitute water for wine in this sacramental rite. They knew quite well that water would be an invalid substance for the purposes of the Eucharist, and that the very substances used and prescribed by Christ had to be employed. As for the remark that Mithraism was a rival religion which severely challenged Christianity, I can but say that it was a prevalent form of paganism in the early centuries, rivaling the official pagan religion of Rome. But it was no more a challenge to Christianity than that same Roman paganism. Christianity rather challenged all forms of paganism rife in the Roman Empire, and fought them out of existence,

851. Why is it not idolatry to adore a wafer of bread, just as it is to adore idols of wood and stone?

Because the Blessed Sacrament is not an idol of wood or stone. Nor is it bread. It is the substance of Christ's Body under the appearances of bread. And this substance of Christ's Body is the living Christ whom we adore as our God. It would be idolatry did we adore a thing as if it were God. It is not idolatry when we adore as God One whom we know to be God.

852. If the Apostles returned to earth, would they not be amazed to learn that the consecrated wafer was the body of Christ?

No. They would be amazed to learn that any other doctrine could possibly be believed as the teaching of Christ. They would quote St. Paul's words from I Corinthians XL, 29, "He that eateth or drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord."

853. Cardinal Cajetan confesses that the Gospels nowhere prove that the bread is changed into the body of Christ, and admits that Christ spoke figuratively.

Nowhere does Cardinal Cajetan say that. Cardinal Cajetan is dealing with the one text, "This is My body." and not with any other references in Scripture. Nor does he say that Christ spoke these words figuratively. He says that Christ meant them literally, and that these words prove that bread is changed into the body of Christ. He gives it as his personal opinion that a man might doubt whether this particular text was to be taken literally or metaphorically if he did not have the guidance of the Church on the matter. But he says that the guidance of the Church is clear as to the literal sense of the words, and that those words are undoubtedly the direct revelation of Christ and the conversion of the substance of bread into the substance of His body really takes place.

854. I am afraid I could never believe that bread and wine are changed into the actual body of Christ.

If you look up St. John, Chapter VI., you will find that you arc uttering just what those Jews said who refused to believe Christ Himself. Jesus had said, "The bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world." The Jews therefore said, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"

855. It seems to me that it could only be a spiritual change.

That is not intelligible. You might say that Jesus meant the bread to remain merely bread, but that it should effect a spiritual change in those who received it, just as the water of Baptism remains water, yet effects a spiritual change in those baptized. That, I say, is intelligible as a process. But it is not what Christ meant. When the Jews said, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat," they thought He really meant to give His actual body under the appearances of bread. And Jesus knew that that was the thought in their minds. If He did not mean that, He had only to say so, and all their difficulties would have vanished. But no. He intensified their thought. "Of a truth I say to you," He said, "except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man . . . you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life ... for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. . . ." The Jews saw that He did mean that they should eat His actual body, and many cried, "This saying is hard, and who can hear it." So they walked no more with Him. And you say with them, "I, too, am afraid I could never believe."

856. How could Christ give them His very body without apparent diminution of His natural body?

Difficulties in our minds as to how God could do a thing are of no value against the fact that He did do it, I am quite willing to admit that the real presence of Christ's body in the Eucharist is as much a mystery to be believed by an act of faith as the mystery of the Trinity. At the same lime, there is no reason of any value in your objection. Any apparent diminution of Christ's mortal body would be by a reduction of quantity. But quantity is not concerned in this matter. Substance as such underlies all quantity and all qualities, and is distinct from these accidental qualifications. The substance of bread, underlying the qualities of bread, was converted into the substance of our Lord's body, the qualities of bread remaining as usual. This change neither added to, nor took from, any dimensive properties of our Lord's mortal body. Your difficulty arises from your confusion of substance and accidental and variable modifications of substance. Abstracting from all such modifications, the substantial reality of bread was miraculously and instantaneously converted into the substantial reality of Christ's body. No man on earth could say that the omnipotent God could not do this, for He who can create substance out of nothing, can put it through any subsequent changes He might wish.

857. You claim an unseen change in the substance of bread to the sub-stance of the body of Christ, yet no visible change in the appearance or taste?

That is correct. At the moment of consecration the substances of bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

858. Can you give a logical reason for this invisible change?

The change not being due to natural powers, I cannot account for it by any natural factors. But granted the Divinity of Christ, the logical reason is to be found in His omnipotent power, and in His own teaching. In the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel, He undoubtedly promises that He will give us His very flesh to eat. Twelve months later, He kept that promise, taking bread and saying, "This is My body." The word of God is power. He had but to say, "Let there be light," and light existed. And when He said, "This is My body," His body was present. Now since the appearances or qualities of bread did not change, there was but one way left in which that bread could become His body, and that was according to substance. The logic is clear enough. Could God do it? Yes, for He is omnipotent. Did He do it? Yes, for His words bear no other logical explanation.

859. All Christ's miracles were visible changes. This isolated case of an invisible miracle is against His usual methods of clear and concise guidance of mankind.

Firstly, you do not understand our Savior's method of clear and concise guidance. Christ chose as His method of guiding mankind the establishing of an infallible teaching Church, sending it to teach all nations, and saying, hear the Church. A man has but to study the claims of the Catholic Church, notice her unity, holiness, Catholicity and historic Apostolicity, submit to her teaching authority and accept all that she teaches. At once he attains clear and concise guidance. But now, to your main thought. You have concentrated upon one aspect of the miraculous only. The miraculous may be taken to refer to any event above the capacity of any merely natural laws. In this sense, the invisible change of substance is miraculous, for only the omnipotence of God can account for it. In a second sense, the miraculous can refer to an event which is not only beyond the power of any law of nature, but is also apparent to the sense-faculties of bystanders. To this category belong the incidents you mention. Now Christ used His miraculous powers in both ways. For example, God alone can forgive sin. No natural powers in existence can do so. Yet Christ said to a sinner, "Son, be of good heart. Thy sins are forgiven thee." This involved an invisible supernatural change of soul. No external sign guaranteed it. Christ's word alone guaranteed it, and, of course, His word alone is sufficient guarantee to anyone who believes in His Divinity. But the Pharisees would not believe, and for the sake of these unbelievers, Christ proceeded to an external and visible miracle merely to confirm the former. "You do not believe," He said. "But which is easier? To forgive sin, or to say, 'Take up thy bed and walk.'?" Then He restored the man to health in order to prove His Divine power, so that, believing in Him, they would take His word for it that the greater disease of sin had really been healed. Almost the same thing occurs where the Eucharist is concerned. In the sixth chapter of St. John, when Christ promised to give His very flesh to eat, the Jews took His words literally, just as Catholics do, but they refused to believe, as Catholics do not. They cried, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" just as they had cried, "How can a man forgive sin?" Yet as Christ had associated the external miracle of the sick man's bodily cure with His forgiveness of sin, so here He had associated the miraculous multiplication of the loaves with His doctrine concerning the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, of course, when Christ fulfilled His promise, there was no need to perform any external miracle. Ml the Apostles believed in His Divinity. External miraculous signs are for unbelievers rather than for believers. The word of Christ is sufficiently clear and concise guidance for them; and for us today, the teaching of the Catholic Church is sufficiently clear and concise guidance as to the word of Christ.

860. I cannot see how such a change of substance could be made.

That does not surprise me in the least. For you are overlooking the fact that Christ is God to whom all things are possible, and judging the matter merely from the natural standpoint, and the ordinary laws of nature as experienced by men. But I would like to remind you that, if you cling to that attitude, you must give up believing in Christ at all; you must reject the Gospels, and cease even to be a Protestant. For you don't see how Christ could walk upon the waters, or how He could amplify five small loaves of ordinary bread to feed thousands of people. If you do accept the fact that Christ could in these cases act independently of ordinary natural laws, despite your inability to see how He could do so, then you can accept the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist. If you can't accept the latter for the reason you give, then you can't logically accept other departures from ordinary and merely natural laws. It all comes back to the question as to whether you really have faith in Christ, or not.

861. You would have the body and blood of Christ, whilst yet alive, simultaneously in two places at once.

That is not really true, for place supposes location in space, and the substantial presence of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist happens to be independent of the ordinary laws of space. Here, I know, I will be out of your depth. But the greatest philosopher in the world cannot tell you what space is, or what place is, or what precisely is the relationship between a thing in a given locality, and the locality in which it is. And if we do not know what a place is, or what it is to put something in a place, how can we say that God can't put a thing in two places at once? However, as I have said, the Catholic doctrine does not really require a presence in two places at once. For normally a material substance occupies a place by its quantity. Now the substance of the body and blood of Christ was present in Him according to the ordinary limitations of quantity as He spoke the words, "This is My body." But that same substance became present in the Eucharist independently of the ordinary laws affecting quantity and its relation to space. I say that this will be beyond you, but I give it to show that, however mysterious it may be. the fact of the twofold presence violates no principles of reason and philosophy. Men can but say, "It could or it could not be. If God wanted to do it, there is no reason why He could not do so. The whole point is as to whether He did do it." And we Catholics reply, "The fact that He did do it is clearly recorded in the Gospels."

862. But the same substance would be present in the two places simultaneously.

I have, already warned you against superficial notions of place. Here I must warn you against equally superficial notions of time. For simultaneous means at the same time. Do you know what time is? You do not. The deepest philosophers are unable to tell you. St. Augustine said, "If no one asks me what time is, I know. If anyone asks me, then I don't know." You would say that a body could be here and there successively, but not simultaneously. But you don't know what here is, or what there is, nor what succession is, nor what simultaneity is. All our thoughts are necessarily conditioned by our space-time environment; but both space and time are relative things only, and our thoughts by no means embrace the whole of reality. No wonder God has said to us, "Your thoughts are not My thoughts, nor My ways your ways." Where the Eucharist is concerned the only thing we can do is to see what Christ says, and take His word for it. St. Peter and the Apostles did that when they refused to follow the unbelieving Jews who abandoned Christ, and said, when Christ challenged them with the words, "Will you also go away?", "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we have believed and known that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God." Such is still the Catholic attitude.

863. According to you, Christ Himself, whilst still alive, would have partaken of His own flesh and blood, together with His disciples.

That is true. But any difficulties on that point arise from our notions of quantity, and space-time relationships from which the substantial Eucharistic presence of the body and blood of Christ abstracts. Meantime, our Lord both gave Himself and received Himself as He instituted the Blessed Sacrament in order to signify the intimate sacramental bond of union with Himself created by Holy Communion. So He said, "With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you." I admit the mystery in all this, but that is not sufficient reason for rejecting the clear teaching of Scripture on the subject. If it were, as I have pointed out before, you would have to reject Christ altogether. He who has faith in the Divinity of Christ has already accepted an overwhelming mystery, and should have no difficulty in accepting His teachings, however mysterious they may be.

864. I would like to be able to feel and know the Divine Presence. But how?

You can have no means of feeling that our Lord is present in the Eucharist. You can know that He is there by Faith. We believe in Christ. We know that Christ said, "This is My body." We know that the Catholic Church definitely teaches that Christ meant by those words that He intended to give us His very body under the appearances of bread. Our belief in Christ, and in His Catholic Church enables us to know by Faith that Christ is indeed present. I admit that deep Faith can awaken a reaction of feeling. But devotional religious feelings are caused by Faith. Faith is not a product of those feelings.

865. You have not always been a Catholic and could help me more than others. How did you get the feeling of the Presence of our Lord on the Altar?

I have never had it. But, if I have never felt that our Lord is present, I have the supreme conviction that He is there. It is a conviction of Faith. I say Mass every morning. After the words of consecration, I see no external and apparent change in the Host. It still looks like bread. Yet I know that there is no bread there. The qualities of bread remain, but the substance of the bread has changed into the substance of the risen and glorified body of Christ. And I adore and worship the Blessed Sacrament with the same adoration which I will give to Almighty God when death carries me into His eternal presence. My adoration then will be more intense, more vivid, better realized; but it will not be different. We are living now by Faith, not by sight. Though a priest, I am as subject to the conditions of Faith as any other Catholic. When the Blessed Sacrament is lying before me on the Altar, the reason for my belief is not in anything I can see in the Host before me. The reason is in God; or, if you wish, in His infinite knowledge and veracity. God has said it. God must know. God could not tell a lie. I believe absolutely.

The Sacrifice of the Mass

866. When, and by whom, was the first Mass said?

Jesus Christ Himself instituted and celebrated the first Mass at the Last Supper on the night before He died.

867. Before Christ came, how did men worship God?

From the very beginning of the human race, men have rendered to God the worship of prayer and sacrifice. Thus Abel, the son of our first parents, offered sacrifice to God. When the Jews were liberated from Egypt, they were told by God to sacrifice a lamb without blemish, and every year afterwards until the coming of Christ, a lamb was sacrificed at Paschal time, as a commemoration of God's goodness to the Jews, and as a type of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, the true Lamb of God who liberated the souls of men from the captivity of sin. Many other secondary sacrifices of expiation and purification also characterized the worship of the Jews, before Christ. The tradition of sacrifice also persisted amongst the nations who did not belong to the chosen people of God, and even when they had drifted into paganism, they still regarded sacrifice as essential to religion.

868. Christ made the one and only Sacrifice when He died on the Cross.

The Sacrifice of the Mass does not take the place of that on Calvary. Far from supplanting it, it supposes it; and the Mass would have no value apart from the Sacrifice of the Cross. That Sacrifice was the one absolute Sacrifice. The Mass is substantially that same Sacrifice, not another. It is the same priesthood of Christ offering the same Victim, Himself; and for the same purpose. In the Mass, Christ merely offers Himself in a new way, applying the fruits of Calvary to those present, and to all for whom the Mass is offered. Far from diminishing the efficacy of Calvary, it manifests that efficacy.

Holy Communion

869. Does it not seem like cannibalism to devour the body of Christ in Communion?

Christ is not present in the Eucharist under a form in which cannibalism could be possible. His body is really and substantially present, but not in a natural way. It is an entirely supernatural mode of presence which you may not believe, but which at least excludes all notions of cannibalism. You give the same objection as that which came to the minds of the Jews when Christ told them of His intention in regard to the future Eucharist. Christ said to the Jews, "He that eateth Me, the same shall live by Me." Many of the Jews said, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" And they forsook Christ, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" They pictured a cannibalistic eating of raw human flesh and the drinking of human blood. Christ did not intend to be received in such a way, but did intend to leave the substance of His bodily being under the qualities of bread, for the purpose of uniting us as really to His humanity as His humanity is united to His divinity, the union in our case being sacramental and in His case personal or hypostatic. So Christ reiterated to the Jews, even though knowing their thoughts of a cannibalistic eating, "Amen, Amen, I say to you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man you shall not have life in you." Instead of having any real faith in Christ and the humility to ask in what way He intended to leave His body and blood, in a sacramental form, they proudly took their own concept for granted, asked no further light, and departed. However, though Christ is really received in the Blessed Sacrament, it involves no cannibalistic devouring of human flesh in the sense you imagine together with those who abandoned Christ rather than believe.

870. When a cannibal eats human flesh, it is not to appease hunger, but a ceremonial.

At times cannibalism has been practiced through sheer hunger. However, it is true that it has had an almost entirely ceremonial significance amongst various primitive and pagan races.

871. The cannibal has the belief that he is assimilating the courage, prowess, etc., of the victim.

Such a notion certainly prevailed.

872. Is not this the basic idea of a similar ceremonial of the Christian religion, to assimilate the virtues of Christ in the form of body and blood?

The answer to that is a decided negative. Any linking of the two notions would be an exceedingly superficial process of thought. I need not delay to point out at any great length the fact that no one in his senses would suggest any idea that the Christian doctrine of Communion has been derived from cannibalistic superstitions. Here I will confine myself to the question of detached similarity. Now in the first place, no Christian has any idea of eating Christ under the external forms of body and blood. Christ exists in the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine. According to Catholic doctrine, the very substance of Christ's body and blood is present under the forms of bread and wine. The external act of receiving Communion is nothing like the act of cannibalism. Nor is the significance of the act anything like the significance imagined for their rites by superstitious cannibals. Their outlook is one of natural, materialistic, automatic magic. The Christian concept is supernatural, spiritual, non-automatic, and in no way suggestive of occult forces superstitiously believed to be inherent in nature itself.

873. I read in a book recently that, during the Mass there is a mystical separation of Christ's Body and Blood, but no actual separation.

It is because there is no actual separation of Christ's body and blood that he who receives Communion under either kind receives Christ entirely, body, blood, soul and divinity.

874. What the difference between mystical and actual separation may be, I am not qualified to say.

The difference is that between an external symbolism and an interior reality. From the mystical point of view, the separate consecrations under solid and liquid forms represent the separation of Christ's body and blood in the Sacrifice of Calvary. Actually, however, no real separation of the two can occur in the risen Christ, and, therefore, He must be completely present either under the appearances of bread or under the appearances of wine. For the Mass, as a Sacrifice, the external mystical symbolism is required. For Communion it is not required. The Eucharist, as a Sacrament, demands only that it be received under one kind or the other. The Church has restricted the distribution of Communion to the form of bread.

875. Whatever the difference may be, it seems to me that by His words at the Last Supper, "Drink ye all of this," Christ must have intended the chalice to be given to all.

By the fact that His Church, exercising His own authority, has decreed that Communion is to be given under one kind only we are quite certain that that was not His intention. Had that been His intention, the Holy Spirit would never have permitted the Church to entertain the idea of such legislation. But even apart from the fact that the legislation of the Church rules out any possibility that our Lord intended the chalice to be given to the laity as essential to Communion, the text and context of Scripture in no way supports the idea. When speaking, to the ordinary multitude on the occasion when He promised the Eucharist, our Lord said simply, "If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever." John VI., 52. St. Paul, who certainly knew the mind of Christ, said clearly, "Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord." 1 Corinthians XL, 27. When our Lord said, "Drink ye all of this" He was addressing the Apostles only, and His words then applied only to priests called upon to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass. This is evident from His further words to those present, "Do this for a commemoration of Me," words which have reference only to priests lawfully ordained.

876. A separation of the Body and Blood of Christ, mystical or otherwise, suggests that Communion should be given under both kinds, whether Christ be entirely present under either kind or not.

An actual separation would require that. A mystical separation does not even remotely suggest it. The consecration under two forms gives an external symbolism which in no way affects the reality of Christ's complete presence under either kind. The priest, in receiving Communion under both kinds, receives no more than those who receive under one kind, for it is impossible to receive more than the complete Christ. Having offered Mass as a sacrifice, he receives the same Christ in two different ways.

877. We are told that we are to receive both the body and the blood, for in St. John VI., 54, we read, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you."

That is correct. But, since the complete Christ is present under either form, one who receives Communion under either form receives both the body and the blood of Christ.

878. Does not marriage give people the best chance of the best kind of happiness?

Not necessarily. Christian virtue and fidelity to God's laws give the best chance of the best kind of happiness, the eternal happiness God intends for men of goodwill. If, however, you wish to restrict matters to this world, even then marriage does not necessarily give the best chance of the best kind of happiness. It can do so to given types, but only then when entered upon after due consideration, and virtuous preparation, together with high ideals and the determination to observe the laws of God relative to the married state.

879. Why does the Roman Catholic Church forbid divorce and remarriage in spite of the teaching of the Bible?

The Catholic Church strictly observes the law of Christ in this matter.


880. According to Matthew V., 32, Christ said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and marry another, maketh her to commit adultery."

Christ allowed permanent separation without remarriage, if adultery has been committed by one of the parties. What He meant was this: Whosoever shall put away his wife (I am not now speaking of mere separation without remarriage, for that is lawful in the case of infidelity), but whosoever puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery himself and by his adulterous union forces his wife into adultery if she marries another. That is the only possible interpretation in the light of the context and parallel passages. If the man who marries the woman so put away commits adultery, she must still be the wife of the one who dismissed her; and if she is still his wife, he must still be her husband, and forbidden to take a new wife. If we turn to parallel passages, we find St. Mark recording Christ's words absolutely, "Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another; committeth adultery against her." Mark X., 11. In St. Luke also we have the words without any parenthesis. "Everyone that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another committeth adultery; and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery." Luke XVI., 18. For a Christian, then, there is no such thing as divorce from a valid marriage, and remarriage, whilst the first partner is still living. Attempted remarriage results in a sinful union only. You can have divorce, and give up Christianity; or you can have Christianity, and give up divorce. You cannot have both.

881. Is it not wicked to forbid unhappily married people the further chance of a happy marriage?

That depends upon how you would define the term wicked. On my definition that is wicked which violates the law of God, it is extremely wicked for men to take it upon themselves to abrogate an obligation imposed most strictly by God. Yet even apart from this, it would not even be a kindness to give unhappily married people a further chance of finding happiness in another marriage. If they showed so little prudence in the first place, you only offer them the chance of further misery. There is no guarantee that they will not make an equally silly mistake again. However, even granted a possibility of success in the second, third, or fourth venture, no human considerations can avail against God's law.

882. So the Catholic Church gives the unhappily married no further chance of marriage?

The Catholic Church is not responsible for the refusal. She had no say in the prohibition of divorce. God forbids it, and the Church but declares the law of God. Christ clearly said, "If a man puts away his wife' and marries another he commits adultery." St. Paul definitely repeated that law of Christ, saying, "A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband lives, but if her husband dies, she is at

liberty." And, of course, since marriage is a mutual contract, it cuts both ways. The husband is subject to the same conditions as the wife. Since the Church claims to be but repeating God's law, it's no use in your attacking her attitude on the subject. The only way you can make headway is by trying to disprove her radical claims to be the teacher of faith and morals authorized by God in this world. However, the answer to your question is that the Catholic Church opposes divorce because God forbids it.

883. Why hinder the dissolution of a hateful bond where husband and wife are enemies, and children brought up in an inhuman atmosphere of hatred and deceit?

Loosen what you call the hateful bond, and grant facilities for divorce, and there will be still more homes in which husband and wife are enemies, the children will be in a worse atmosphere, the best instincts of humanity will be still further outraged, and the evils in society will be incalculable. Divorce is an insult to human nature, and will have its sure revenge. Marriage is a human contract based upon man's rational will. It is not based upon passing emotion and passions. Man is a little nobler, after all, than the mere animal who mates according to the lust of the moment. Divorce, fosters the very evils you urge. It injures the idea of real love, which is unchanging and deathless. If marriage cannot be terminated during life, people will be induced to make sure before they enter that state. Having entered it, they will be strengthened in good will and cooperation, overcoming their faults, and practicing mutual charity. But the very prospect of divorce weakens their determination miserably. The hope of finding happiness in another marriage actually fosters present discords, and gives reason for the creation of still more grievances. If divorce is easily obtained, people will marry through passing attraction and passionate lust, and without true love based on appreciation of character. After all, there will be a way out later on! Will a man be wholeheartedly devoted to any woman whom he expects to abandon after a few years or months? The children need the influence of both parents, the authority of their own proper father and mother. The worse conduct inspired by the prospect of divorce on the part of the parents gives greater scandal and disedification, and whether they go with the father or the mother; the children are subjected to a new partner who cannot have the same interest in them, even if sheer brutality of treatment be not their lot. Finally, the best instincts of humanity are outraged by divorce, for if the marriage bond be dissolved at will, you have but legalized prostitution and promiscuity. It is because people speak as you do, and act on your principles that there is a rapidly increasing corruption of morals, tending to a logical result in the matrimonial degradations of Communism. Outraged human nature revenged itself on the degenerated Greeks. Pagan Rome yielded to the Greek culture, and when Roman matrons related the story of their successive husbands, Rome was doomed. Your views are simply a reversion to paganism and brutality, and they spell the destruction of the social good.

884. The reform of the divorce laws is urgent.

In other words, you want to make divorce and remarriage easier still. We must adjust even the laws of Christ to suit what men want. Christian standards must be abolished. In his book, "Anthony, Viscount Knebworth: A Record of Youth," by his father, Lord Lytton, there occurs a most illuminating remark about modern morality. Anthony was not, and died without becoming a Catholic. But he was very straight and honest. So listen to his words. He wrote to his faker, "A man does wrong and then argues, `That can't have. been wrong. If there is anything wrong, it must be the morality which condemns what I have done as sin. And so he scraps that bit of religious teaching. In other words, man is daily pitting his puny judgment against God's. I have done it so often myself, and it is so grotesque really, the attempt to change Christian teaching in order to make oneself a saint instead of a sinner." Those words of Anthony's reflect a very common attitude, and are really the explanation of the desire to water down the divorce laws to suit those who do not want to observe them. Not to stop doing what is wrong, but merely to call it right because one wants to do it, is hypocrisy itself.

885. We don't want to say anything to undermine the sanctity of the married state. No one wants its ideals weakened. But there are good reasons why men and women who marry in haste should not be left to repent at leisure.

The burglar said, "I don't want to undermine the sanctity of your right to life. Not for a moment would I weaken the ideals which vindicate that right. But there are good reasons why I should acquire certain pleasures your money will give me if I violate the law just this once." Whereupon he split the skull of his victim with an axe.

886. There are, of course, some who view divorce and remarriage as the violation of a sacred ordination.

There are, if it be a question of divorce from a valid Christian marriage with the intention of another attempt at matrimony whilst the first partner is still living. About four hundred and fifty million Catholics take this view, and a vast number of Protestants who still retain their Christian convictions as regards marriage.

887. But civilization has lived long enough to recognize that there is often more wickedness in a strict adherence to religious traditions than in sensible modifications of those ordinances.

The sweeping reference to civilization is absurd. That section only which has drifted from Christian moral standards is clamoring for easier divorce. Still worse is the jump from sacred ordinances to religious traditions to prepare the way for talk of modifications. We are not talking of religious traditions; we are talking of God's law; and if there is any wickedness it is in the suggestion that men are free to modify or even abolish God's law instead of obeying it.

888. The Sermon on the Mount gives evidence that divorcement was considered a social necessity even in those early days.

Christ mentioned the fact only to declare that henceforth such laxity was to be absolutely repudiated and abolished. To quote a custom mentioned by Christ, yet not to mention that He was abolishing it is anything but honest.

889. Modern usage has perpetuated the right of judicial termination of the marriage tie.

A right has to exist before it can be perpetuated. The marriage tie cannot be terminated by civil law. "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder" still holds good. The truth may be that modern usage tends more and more to ignore God's law, and wrongfully takes matters into its own hands in favor of whatever it pleases men to do.

890. It is only seemly, therefore, that relief should be reasonably easy without offering any inducement to hold lightly the duties which men and women owe one another in marriage.

Do you really think that we offer less inducement to take marriage duties lightly by making divorce easy than by a rigid refusal of divorce?

891. The words of Gibbon on Justin's divorce reforms still have an interest in modern times: He yielded to the prayers of his unhappy subjects and restored the liberty of divorce by mutual consent; the civilians were unanimous, the theologians were divided, and the ambiguous words which contain the precepts of Christ are flexible to any interpretation that the wisdom of a legislature can demand.

That is a correct quotation of Gibbon's words; but Gibbon is wrong in his interpretation. Firstly, Justin's legislation permitting divorce by consent cannot be called a reform. It was the abolition of the true reform law made by his father, Justinian, to suppress the abuse of divorce. Modern times find Justin's law of interest precisely because it was the retrogression to an abuse. And the moderns want just that. Secondly, it must be remembered that the legislation of these Byzantine Emperors did not voice the' mind of the Christian Church. Whatever may have been the aberrations of civil legislators during the ages, the Church has ever taught that divorce and remarriage are not permitted to validly married Christians. Gibbon himself does not give a true picture of the state of affairs. When, in 556 A. D., Justinian legislated against the abuse of divorce, those guilty of laxity protested, and Justin II. abolished his father's prohibitive law to please them. I deny, of course, that the New Testament is really ambiguous on the subject. But Gibbon is right when he says that the words are "flexible to any interpretation a legislature can demand." It would be difficult to quote any passage in the English language which politicians will not find flexible to any interpretation they themselves wish to impose upon it.




Marriage and Divorce

892. Mr. Justice Swift, at Birmingham, England, said indignantly: ''Those who talk about the sanctity of marriage, who lay the greatest emphasis upon 'let no man put asunder,' do not realize the pain and suffering we see here, the broken lives, the misery of years that these cases mean."

Firstly, the One who first laid emphasis upon the words "Let no man put asunder" was Christ; and, as God, he foresaw all the consequences of that law, yet thought fit to give it. His own disciples foresaw the difficulties, and said to Him: "If the case be so, it is not expedient to marry at all." And Christ did not deny the possibility of hardship in certain cases. Secondly, Mr. Justice Swift is wrong in thinking that only judges in a divorce court see the broken lives, pain and suffering, and misery of years that these cases mean. Priests see far more cases than those that actually arrive at the divorce courts. They are constantly dealing with domestic trials; and they have seen far more pain and suffering, broken lives and misery of years through the facility with which divorce can be obtained than through the rigid observance of Christ's law forbidding divorce. I could amplify that, did time permit. But it will be enough to add that the sum-total of marital happiness has certainly not increased in a world widely accepting divorce, and crying out for its still further extension. Emotion over particular cases has simply rendered the judge blind to universal issues.

893. A book by a recent writer says that "behind this conflict of opinion lies the fundamental contradiction between the sacerdotal and the secular concepts of marriage."

The new ideas mean the abandoning of Christianity. Of course, it would not do to say so openly. Ours is a Christian civilization. We are not pagans. So the old trick is employed by speaking of the sacerdotal concept instead of the Christian concept of marriage. But one must prove that what is termed the sacerdotal concept is not the Christian concept. Again, since your author mentions a conflict between but two concepts, the sacerdotal and the secular, will he tell us that the secular concept is the truly Christian concept, and that it is the sacerdotal concept which is un-Christian ?

894. The central difficulty lies in the variance between the two ideas of marriage as a contract and a sacrament.

In other words, the question is as to whether marriage is still to be regarded as a sacrament integral to the Christian religion, or merely a social agreement as unconnected with that religion as a partnership in business. What you call the sacerdotal view is that marriage is a Christian Sacrament; the secular view is that it is merely a civil and rescindable partnership having no real connection with the Christian religion. So the problem is, after all, are we to take the Christian view of marriage, or not?

895. Will you solve this case: An Anglican man married an Anglican woman in the Anglican Church.

Such a marriage would be binding until the death of one of the parties.

896. Later she divorced him, and married a Catholic, but not in the Catholic Church.

That second marriage was not a true marriage in the sight of God. Nor could it have taken place in a Catholic Church, for no priest could assist at the second marriage of a divorced person whose former partner is still living.


897. The woman now wants to become a Catholic, and the Church will not receive her, because it says the first marriage is binding. How can the Church refuse to save a soul?

The Church cannot refuse to save a soul, but souls can refuse to save themselves. In this case, the second, marriage is not valid, and it is not lawful for her to live with her second husband as his wife. If she insists upon continuing as the wife of the second man, the Church cannot admit her to the Sacraments, even as her Catholic husband cannot be admitted to them.

898. Since the Catholic Church is the only true Church, she can't be bound by the first marriage according to the man-made laws of the Church of England.

If you believe that the Catholic Church is the only true Church, you should accept her verdict that the first marriage is binding. The Church does not teach that all marriages between non-Catholics are null and void. She legislates for her own subjects. While she declares that God's legislation does bind all non-Catholics she does not make laws for those who are not Christians and modifies her legislation in cases of its application to Christians who are not Catholics. If two Anglicans marry, whether in the Anglican Church or merely in a Registry Office, that marriage is valid and binding, and death alone can break it in the sight of God.

899. The Church is losing two souls instead of one, by acknowledging the laws of the Church of England.

She does not acknowledge the laws of the Church of England. She acknowledges her own laws, and her own laws say that, whilst Catholics cannot contract valid marriage outside their Church, Protestants can, provided both parties are Protestants, and this, whether they marry in their Protestant Church, or merely in the Registry Office. In the case you give, an Anglican woman married an Anglican man in the Anglican Church. That marriage was binding in conscience and still is, despite the civil divorce. The second marriage is, therefore, invalid. The Church is not losing two souls by her attitude. The two souls are forfeiting the privileges of the Catholic Faith by their determination to continue in an unlawful union instead of separating, as they should, from each other.

900. Can she get a dispensation to be received into the Church?

No. The Church is here to keep God's law, not to break it. And it is the law of God, taught by Christ, that if a woman puts away her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. The Church can't say that it is all right for her to continue as she is when it's all wrong. Her first marriage is valid, and unless she and her present partner agree to live separately, she cannot be received into the Church. We can't have it both ways, proud of our Church because of its fidelity to the law of Christ forbidding divorce, yet desiring her to relax her fidelity when convenient.

901. Can you tell me what can be done in this case?

Yes. The two in question should agree to live separately. The Catholic man should return to the practice of his religion. The non-Catholic woman should receive instruction and be received into the Church.



902. In dealing with dispensations granted by Rome for civilly divorced persons to remarry, you have often explained that there is a difference between a decree of nullity, and a divorce strictly so-called.

That is true. Often enough a marriage accepted as valid by civil law lacks the conditions required for validity according to the laws of the Christian religion. If, upon request, and after full inquiry into all the circumstances, Rome grants a decree of nullity in such a case, she merely declares that such a marriage was null and void from the very beginning, and never was binding in conscience. Such a decree breaks no existing bond of marriage, simply declares that the parties to it are and have always been single people so far as that particular contract is concerned, and tells them that they are free to enter into a valid marriage with anyone free to marry.

903. Does Rome recognize as valid the marriage of two non-Catholics, one of whom is a baptized Christian and the other not?

She recognizes it as a valid matrimonial contract, but does not grant that it has the peculiar religious quality of a Christian Sacrament.

904. I have heard of one such case where, after a civil divorce, one of the parties became a Catholic and was permitted to marry a Catholic. If Rome recognized the first marriage as valid she could not have issued a decree of nullity, but must have allowed the breaking of an existent bond.

It is true that Rome could not issue a decree of "nullity from the very beginning" in such a case. But, since the first marriage was not a Sacrament, the Church using what is known as the Pauline privilege as taught by Saint Paul designates it as a valid contract but not a Sacramental union and, therefore, has the power to dissolve the purely natural bond in favor of the Christian Faith should one of the parties later become a Catholic and desire to marry a Catholic.

905. If both parties to the first marriage had been validly baptized as non-Catholics, could the Church have granted a similar permission?

No. For the Church declares that, if two baptized Protestants contract marriage, they contract a valid Christian and Sacramental marriage wherever it takes place. And that Sacramental marriage is binding in Christian law until the death of one of the parties. The Catholic Church, therefore, could not sanction the divorce and remarriage of such partners, even though they are willing to become Catholics,

906. On what grounds do you claim that the Church has power to grant such annulments where, through lack of baptism, a valid matrimonial contract is not Sacramental?

On the teaching of the New Testament itself. There it is evident that the merely natural bond may at times give way in favor of a marriage according to the Christian law under special circumstances. For example, a somewhat similar case is given by St. Paul in 1 Cor. VII., 15. There he deals with the case in which a mar-ried person is converted to the Church, but not his or her partner. And St. Paul says that, if the unbelieving partner is willing to live in peace with the believer, the marriage must stand. But, if the unbeliever refuses to live with the believer, and departs, the believer is not under servitude in such a case. That is, the believer is released from the obligations of the first marriage if he desires to marry a fellow believer in the Christian religion. Thus the natural bond of a former marriage with a non-Christian would give way in favor of the Christian Sacrament of Marriage with a fellow Christian. The foundation for the power of the Church to dis-solve the merely natural bond of marriage with a non-Christian who is unwilling to continue to fulfill marriage obligations is clear.

907. Does not the granting of such "decrees of nullity," and "dissolutions of the natural bond" in special cases, show that money carries weight with Rome?

No. Every case is weighed on its own merits independently of the financial circumstances of the persons concerned. If the first marriage were a true Christian marriage and both parties were still living, not all the money in the world could avail to secure permission from the Catholic Church for another marriage. Even today, as I am answering your inquiry, the news has come that the Pope has refused to sanction any second marriage of Princess Charlotte of Monaco. She married Prince Pierre de Polignac, but got a civil divorce from him two years ago. She was anxious to remarry, and her father, Prince Louis of Monaco, made a special journey to Rome to ask permission for her to remarry. The case was weighed on its merits. The Papal decision was that her first marriage was undoubtedly valid and that civil divorce could not give a right to a second marriage so long as both parties still live. Money and social standing do not weigh with the Roman Tribunal, If applicants for a decision can pay the legal expenses involved they are requested to do so. If they cannot, a reduction is granted, or even a total remission. And those able to pay the expenses are not in the least more likely to get the decision they want. All depends upon the evidence itself. A study of the cases submitted during the ten years from 1920 to 1930 shows that, whilst sixty-six per cent of those who could pay got a favorable decision, eighty-nine per cent of those who could not pay were granted the verdict they desired.

Extreme Unction

908. What is the literal meaning, and also the spiritual meaning of Extreme Unction?

Literally the words mean Last Anointing. The rite consists in the anointing of the various senses of a dying person by a priest, who uses a special oil blessed by the bishop for the purpose. By his senses man comes into contact with this world; and those senses are one of the chief sources of sin. How many sins are due to a misuse of the senses, of sight and hearing, of speech, and of touch! To the dying Catholic, therefore, the Church comes, and in her name, the priest anoints eyes and ears, nostrils, lips, hands and feet in a last purifying rite, praying that God may forgive any sins due to each sense thus anointed. The Church gives life to the soul at the Baptismal font, accompanies it through life with her teachings and Sacraments, and is present as a true spiritual mother at one's deathbed with the final Sacrament of Extreme Unction to wash away the stains and scars of earthly faults and failings, giving special graces of consolation and confidence to the soul as it is about to go to God at last.

909. If a priest administered Unction in the literal way to one dying man, and another administered Unction in the spiritual way to some other dying man, what difference would there he in results?

There would be an immense difference in the results. By Unction in the spiritual way, I presume that you mean words of consolation and spiritual advice. But a man who received merely such words would lack those special sacramental graces attached to the rite of Extreme Unction by Christ Himself. The Sacraments instituted by Christ do a work for which no merely human efforts can supply. And this is the case, in a special way, with the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. We know by experience that, in many of the greater crises of human life, mere words seem so futile and inadequate. If only one could do something, instead of just talk, is the uppermost thought. And in that great crisis, when a human soul is about to go to its judgment, Christ has given the Church something to do.

910. Would you please explain the passage where St. James V., 14, says, "Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."

In that verse we are taught that the Catholic Sacrament of Extreme Unction or Last Anointing, is truly a part of the Christian religion. Most Protestants, of course, either ignore these words, or try to explain them away. Some few interpret them as a justification for faith-healing, omitting the use of oil as savoring too much of the Roman Ritual. High Church Anglicans tend to interpret them in the Catholic sense, and are making efforts to restore this Sacramental rite which they regard as having been wrongly rejected, together with much else, at the Reformation. But, putting these diverse opinions on one side, I will explain the true sense of the words. St. James is speaking here, not of ordinary ills of life, but of really serious sickness. He therefore invites, not prayer for him, but prayer over him, the patient being confined to the sickbed. And he gives the command, "Let him call in the priests of the Church." He does not mean merely the elders amongst the sick man's fellow Christians. He is dealing with a sacred liturgical function which the simple faithful are unable to perform. One from amongst the priests properly so-called is to be brought in, and he is to pray over the sick man, "anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." By these last words St. James shows that he is prescribing, not a natural remedy, but a religious rite authorized by Christ and to be performed in a spirit of faith in Christ.

911. In verse 15 St. James says, "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man; and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him."

Here the three effects of Extreme Unction are given in ascending order of importance: Firstly, in the physical order the man may be cured even of his bodily disease. This, however, being but a temporal benefit, is a conditional promise dependent upon God's will according to each one's circumstances. If one's recovery of bodily health would be to one's spiritual harm, God will not grant it. And even apart from that, if God permits a sickness, it is normally His providence that we should endure the sickness. Sudden relief from it is necessarily the exception rather than the rule. Secondly, we are told that the Lord shall raise him up. This refers chiefly to his interior spirits. The graces of Extreme Unction will alleviate the sick man's despondency and sadness in his affliction, consoling him and strengthening him to bear his trials with Christian fortitude. Thirdly, we have what is obviously the most important effect. "If he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him." It is not the primary effect, for the primary effect is always attained by the conferring of spiritual consolation and strength. Here we have a secondary effect, for the condition is made, if he be in sins. But it is obvious that the destruction of sin as the obstacle to salvation is most important where such sin exists, not having been otherwise remitted. These verses, as I have said, are the justification of the Catholic Sacrament of Extreme Unction which non-Catholics have lost through the destructive work of the Protestant Reformation.

Man's Death and Judgment

912. Could you tell us, what this judgment is which men say takes place after death?

Yes. Whether you like it or not, you will still be you after death. Your soul, the very principle of your life, and that in you which can know and love, and be happy or miserable, is immortal. And the quality of the life awaiting you will be according to your deserts. The moment your soul leaves your body, it will be made aware of what it is, its value, its deeds, and its eternal lot. That is judgment


913. Where is the Tribunal of Judgment?

That is a metaphorical expression. No material place enters into the question of judgment. We are always in God, and no one has to travel to find Him. And judgment occurs where God and the soul both exist. We live in God right through life without perceiving His presence, but at death a soul awakens to an awareness of that presence as a man becomes aware of things about him when he awakens from sleep. That thought is worth keeping in mind, and being made the rule of our conduct.

914. If you maintain a private judgment immediately after death, I fail to see why we should be judged twice.

The real difficulty occurs here. Sacred Scripture teaches us the fact of two judgments. That each soul is judged at once is evident from many references. Thus, "It is appointed unto man once to die. and after this, the judgment." Heb. IX., 27. St. Paul said, "I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ." Phil. I., 23. He declared that, on his death, the just Judge would give him a crown of justice. 2 Timothy IV., 8. On the other hand, we know that Christ will come again with glory to judge all mankind. What is the reason for these two distinct judgments, one for each individual, and one for all men collectively? The first is to do justice to each individual at the end of his probation; the other is to do justice to Christ. At the Last Judgment, all shall see the justice of God. Men who publicly deny that there is a God will then publicly confess that there was a God after all, and to their cost. Those who deny God's Providence saying that sin does not matter, will see and admit that it did matter. Those who blaspheme, ridicule, and mock Christ before their fellow men will equally publicly bear witness to the glory of Christ. You can see, therefore, how the first individual judgment will decide the eternal fate of each soul, whilst the final and general judgment will mean the vindication of God's rights in the presence of all His creatures.

915. The fact remains, however, that we have to pass two judgments, according to Catholic dogma.

We have to be present at two judgments, but the second and general judgment is rather to be a manifestation of the results of the first. Man's chief concern is so to live and die that he may be able to pass the first individual and particular judgment successfully. The final general judgment is really a consequence of the social character of men and of religion. Life is common to mankind as a race, and should have a common conclusion. Again, at the particular judgment all is a question of the individual soul and God. Judgment takes place at death, but it is not publicly manifested. And our Lord has said that there is nothing hidden which shall not be revealed. The general judgment will be the justification of God in the sight of all creatures.

916. Men have said that there is no occasion to fear death, and that we should banish a fear which causes inability to get any happiness in this world.

Whatever men may say, there always will be a natural dread of death. But good people soon take a happy and supernatural view of death, as they accept it from the hands of God. And the thought of death does not rob us of all happiness in this world. There is enough lawful happiness without sinning to get more. And sin alone can give a really miserable view of death. As the conclusion of an evil life, death is an evil thing. As the conclusion of a good life, it is a glorious and most desirable event. If we are not afraid of sin, we will be afraid of death. If we are afraid of sin, we will not be afraid of death. St. Francis of Assisi praised that death which those who love the world so fear, and he called upon her by name, saying, "Death, my sister, welcome be thou." We should not, then, banish the thought of death. We should let the thought of death enkindle a fear of sin, and of nothing else. Holy Scripture rightly warns us, "Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin."


917. Why does the Catholic Church forget that God is love, and teach the dogma of hell?

The Catholic Church rightly teaches that a hell of eternal misery is a fact because God Himself has revealed that truth. And God does not thereby make Himself to be otherwise than a loving God. Because God loves there must be a hell. Love cares, and very deeply. It is not indifferent. And it involves hatred of all that opposes its purpose. If a man does not love a girl, he does not mind who marries her. If he really loves her, he resents losing her. If God loves good, He must hate evil. If He did not hate evil, He would not love good. He would be merely indifferent. The greater one's love of good, the greater one's hatred of that which would destroy the good, and, therefore, the greater one's hatred of evil. And God's infinite love is simultaneously an infinite hatred, the hatred being the very fire of love in defense of the thing loved. Every denial of hell is a denial that God is a loving God at all. God's love is like white light. White light contains all colors. If it falls on an object which absorbs none of the light to itself, but reflects all back to the source whence it came, the object is white, as is a white collar. If the object reflects some of the rays, absorbing others, the object will be colored, red or blue or yellow, as the case may be. If the object reflects none of the rays, but absorbs all to itself, the object is black. The difference is in the object, not in the light which falls upon it. So, too, God's love falls upon a soul. If the soul reflects all back to God, it is white in God's sight, a saint; if it reflects some of God's love, but absorbs part to itself, selfishly, it is not white, but imperfect in God's sight. If it takes all, reflecting nothing back to God, it is black in God's sight. It would not even have existed to be black, had not God loved it. But it has accepted God's gifts only to use those very gifts against God. It is evil and not good. It has rendered itself black in God's sight, opposed to the good God loves, and, therefore, putting itself under the hatred love must have for all that is destructive of good. Good and evil in time have two counterparts in eternity, heaven and hell. And both heaven and hell can be explained only, and precisely, because God is a loving God.

918. What does the word hell mean in the Bible, as in Psalm XVI, 10?

In the Bible, the word hell has various meanings, to be determined in each case by the context. At times it means the grave, as when Jacob cried, "You will bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to hell." At other times, it means the abode of the dead in general, as when Jacob said earlier, "I will go down to my son into hell, mourning." Again, the word hell can mean, not the grave, nor the abode of the dead in general, but the eternal fate of the wicked in conscious torment. Thus Christ said that the rich man was buried in hell and was conscious of terrible sufferings. The generic significance of hell is evident from the fact that the Bible repeatedly speaks of hell, the lower hell, and the lowest hell. When St. Peter wrote that God spared not the angels who fell but delivered them to hell, it is obvious that there is no reference to the grave in that text. Angels have no bodies to be buried in a grave. And Jesus Himself speaks of the hell of the fallen angels as everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Now in Psalm XVI, 10 (XV., 10), David says, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; nor wilt thou give thy holy one to see corruption." The word hell there refers to the kingdom of the dead, not to the hell of eternal suffering. It is a prophecy fulfilled in Christ, whose body was not allowed to corrupt, and whose soul returned from the kingdom of the dead to revivify His body on the day of His resurrection. St. Peter tells us clearly that Christ was put to death in the flesh, but that His soul lived on, and preached to those spirits who were in prison; that is, to the souls of the just who had died before Christ, and were awaiting the completion of His redemptive work.


919. Because scholars made faulty translations of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, thousands fear eternal torment in a hell which does not exist.

In the first place, the word hell was not a faulty translation of the Hebrew word Sheol and the Greek word Hades. I will explain that in a moment. Secondly, the millions who believe in the existence of a hell of eternal suffering have more than sufficient ground for their belief. Thirdly, your implication that belief in hell necessarily fills people with dread and trembling betrays a limitation of outlook which destroys confidence in your judgment. It is a fallacy to isolate the doctrine of hell, making no allowance for other compensating doctrines which preserve the balance of every intelligent Christian. Lastly, the categorical statement that hell does not exist has the value only of the knowledge possessed by the person who makes it.

920. The misunderstanding about hell is the result of faulty translation of the Hebrew Sheol, and the Greek Hades from the Old and New Testament manuscripts.

No argument of any value whatever can be drawn from the primitive meaning of the Hebrew word Sheol. Many people have said that that word in Hebrew meant simply the grave, and not the hell of conscious survival in suffering which Christianity teaches to be the lot of those who die at enmity with God. It is true that Sheol is derived etymologically from Sha-al, meaning a subterranean cavity. But the sense of Sheol throughout the Old Testament shows that the Jews intended by it a much wider significance than the grave. By it they meant the nether regions in general, or the state of the dead, whether good or wicked, whatever that state might be, short of heaven itself. So they spoke of a dead man having gore to join his fathers. In that same general sense we still say in the Apostles' Creed that, after His death, Christ descended into hell. The word hell is there used in the original Jewish sense, the soul of Christ going to the souls of the departed who were not yet admitted to heaven. He did not go to hell in the later restricted sense of the hell of the damned. But He definitely taught that it is possible in Sheol, or in the state of souls after death, to encounter eternal punishment. And the English word hell, whether as a translation of the Hebrew Sheol, or the Greek Hades, is restricted by modern usage to this aspect of the future life. No philological argument based on the primitive meaning of Sheol, has any value in this matter, despite the shallow and superficial assertions of rationalists.

921. The wages of sin is death, says the Bible, not eternal torment.

The wages of sin is indeed death, death to happiness, and all those hopes and aspirations that make life worth while. But, if the appeal be to the Bible, it is certain that sin cannot be said to lead to mere extinction. When Christ described the lost as weeping and gnashing their teeth; as not securing forgiveness in the world to come; as being cast into the furnace of fire, and an unquenchable fire at that; as enduring the worm of remorse that dieth not; in a word, as going to everlasting punishment as the good to life everlasting, no one could maintain reasonably that He was using words suitable as a description of the grave and of unconscious nonexistence.

922. Why did Christ go to hell?

Christ did not go to hell in the modern and restricted sense of that word. At the time when the Apostles' Creed was composed, the word hell was used to designate any state of existence lower than heaven. After His death on the Cross, our Lord's soul went, says St. Peter, to preach to those spirits who were in prison. That is, He joined those souls which were detained from the fullness of heaven and who were awaiting the opening of heaven to mankind by Him. This descent of Christ's soul into hell was obviously not to the hell of the eternally lost, but to what we call the Limbo or detention place of the souls of the just who lived prior to our Lord's coming into this world.

923. Will men's bodies go to hell as well as their souls?

If men die in such a state as to deserve hell, both their bodies and souls will endure the misery. Thus, in St. John's Gospel, V. 28, 29, Christ is recorded as saying, "The hour cometh when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment." At that last judgment men will be present in their complete personality, body and soul. And they will reap one of two destinies, heaven or hell. The complete human being will be either saved or lost. Such is the teaching of Christ, and one must accept it, or cease to claim to be a Christian.

924. Is hell a place of eternal fire in a material sense?

Hell will be eternal. Its fire cannot possibly be fire exactly as we know it in this world. Hell is a revealed mystery which cannot be adequately explained by ideas drawn from things around us. But it is certain that there will be physical bodily suffering in hell, a suffering which our Lord thought best described by the analogy of pain caused by fire. As the complete man, body and soul, will be saved, so the complete man, body and soul, will be lost. And, if lost, both body and soul will endure their proper penalties and sufferings. The cause of bodily suffering in hell will be an agent more or less equivalent to what we understand by fire.

925. Will there be degrees of punishment in hell as there are degrees of reward in heaven?

Yes. Even amongst lost souls, the less guilty will not be punished so severely as the more guilty. Even the man bent on accomplishing his eternal damnation cannot multiply his sins with impunity on the score that one may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. Every degree of added guilt will result in an intensification of suffering which the less guilty will not experience to the same degree.

926. Would the denial of an eternal hell exclude one from membership of the Catholic Church?

Yes. The eternity of hell is a defined article of the Catholic Faith. Any Catholic who knows this, yet persists in denying the eternity of hell would by that very fact renounce his Catholic Faith, and repudiate the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. No priest could admit such a one to the Sacraments unless he rejected such ideas as wrong, and fully accepted the teaching of the Church as true. But here there are several things to be noted. The eternal hell in which we have to believe is a revealed mystery which we cannot fully comprehend, but which we have to accept on the authority of God, just as we accept the mystery of the Trinity. Too many people, in objecting to an eternal hell take it for granted that they fully comprehend the hell to which they object. But a hell which the human mind could fully comprehend is not the hell in which we are asked to believe. And certainly we are not asked to believe in a hell which is in any way in conflict with any of God's attributes. If we think we see a conflict, then we have wrong ideas somewhere. Our notions must be inadequate. Our minds, familiar only with that succession of events known as time, cannot understand what an eternity outside the time sequence will really mean. Nor do we understand the nature of the sufferings in hell. We have to believe in a hell such as God knows it to be. And having been told the fact of a possible destiny of untold misery, it is for us to take the means necessary to avoid such destiny, leaving other aspects of the matter to God. He will safeguard all His attributes. That is not our responsibility. But it is ridiculous to forget our limitations, and to deny a fact revealed by God, merely because our little minds cannot quite explain the fact to our own present satisfaction. No right-minded person would do that.

927. Surely the doctrine of hell is hard to believe even by Catholics.

It is no more difficult than any other revealed mystery of the Christian religion. If a man can beli;ve in the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, or the Blessed Sacrament, he can just as easily believe in hell. He has exactly the same motive for doing so. the authority of God for its existence. Hell is as much a mystery of faith as any other revealed mystery. We have to believe in it as God knows it to be, not as we imagine it to be. As we can state simply that there are three Persons in one God without fully comprehending the complete significance of the doctrine, so we know that there is a possible final and eternal wreckage called hell. But the nature of hell, and its reconciliation with all the attributes of God, are beyond our comprehension. That, however, does not justify us in denying the knowledge and veracity of Christ. Our faith in Him compels us to believe in hell; and our belief in hell inspires us with a dread of sin. You will notice that I say our faith in Christ compels us to believe in hell. We look, not at the thing we are asked to believe but at the knowledge and veracity of the Christ who tells us to believe it. The only really valid argument against hell would be to prove that Christ did not teach it, or that He did not know what He was talking about, or that He deliberately lied. That our limited minds find difficulty in comprehending hell is no argument against it. We expect that, in the presence of a mystery of faith.

928. A merciful God would not punish even a man's deliberate sins.

God would not be merciful if He did not do so. Would God be merciful did He allow men to think that evil conduct does not matter? And if He shows that it does matter by threatening evil, would He be merciful if He allowed men to think that He did not mean what He said, and failed to fulfill His own sanctions? Even Carlyle has said, "One who does not know how to punish does not know what pity is." Weakness is not kindness, but cruelty. Mercy is offered to all men before their death, if only they will repent sincerely of their sins. But they cannot reject God's mercy and have it. Nor can we say that God is not merciful because He offered His mercy, only to find it refused. Were He not merciful, He would never have offered mercy.

929. How much pleasure could the Author of this beautiful and wonderful world find in tormenting eternally with fire any of His erring human family?

You concentrate on one aspect of life to the neglect of all others by your appeal to a beautiful and wonderful world. But is it so beautiful and wonderful? Is it not a mixture of good and evil? Do you lose sight of the fearful pain inflicted by, say, cancer? If you were God, would you have permitted cancer? Your soft and gentle heart would at once say no. Yet cancer is a fact. And if your judgment as to what should be in the world you do see is at such variance with what God has actually permitted, why must God's dealings with souls in the next life conform to your ideas of what ought to be there? Notice, too, your mild reference to erring humanity. It is begging the question to suggest that the sin which takes a soul to hell is but an error, or a mistake. The wicked who go to hell will go there for persevering malice. Again the reference to God's taking pleasure in the sufferings of the lost is a human and earthly piece of thinking which could apply only to an authropomorphic God acceptable to no instructed Christian.

930. If a man of low intelligence tortured even a rat for one day we should shrink from him with horror.

Possibly. But there is no parallel between that case and the matter under discussion. The case given omits ever so many vital factors essential to a right estimate of eternal retribution; and it can have value only for those who let imagination usurp the place of reason.

931. Yet our religious leaders have taught us to believe our loving Heaven-ly Father has planned a hell of eternal torments for us !

They have not taught us anything of the kind. They teach what Christ taught, that those obstinate in evil will go to everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. That hell was not meant and planned for us is evident from all the warnings given us both as to its existence, and the conditions that could take us there. If I want a man to fall into a pit, I don't warn him against it. Also, so long as we behave as children of God, accepting Him as our loving Heavenly Father, and rendering Him the reverence and obedience due to Him as such, there is no danger of going to hell. Those only will go to hell who repudiate God as their loving Heavenly Father. They cannot reject Him and have Him. Nor, for a moment, will they say in hell, "Our loving Heavenly Father sent us here." All I can add is that those who do go to hell will have no difficulties on the subject as to why they are there.

932. Could one respect a God who would permit any one of His creatures to suffer eternal torment, however grievously that creature had sinned? Reason rejects the thought.

Does such a doctrine violate reason? If it does, I could not respect such a doctrine. But let us see. Now it is not unreasonable that God should hate evil, and punish it. My reason is not violated by the thought that those who stole the Lindbergh baby and murdered it, should be apprehended if possible, and endure a pretty severe penalty. So far, so good; for 1 think you will agree with me there. Your difficulty concerns not the fact of retribution, but the idea of eternal retribution. So let us proceed. It is a truth of reason that the human soul is immortal of its very nature.

And it must therefore live on. Now granted that a soul goes from this world in a state of sin, its will radically opposed to God's will, hating the things God loves, prepared to do again the very sins that deserved punishment during life, it is not unreasonable that its exclusion from God and from happiness should last as long as such evil dispositions continue. And if such dispositions as a matter of fact constitute an eternal hatred of God, reason is not violated by the thought that the retribution will be equally eternal. It may harrow our feelings; it may stagger our imagination; but I deny that it violates reason. As a matter of fact my reason is violated by the thought that there can be no eternal torment however grievous a man's sins may be. A law is not a law without a proportionate penalty. And if God gives very serious Commandments, it is absurd to suggest that a man can break them with impunity and challenge Him, "Do your worst. You may be able to punish me for a time. But there's no eternal punishment. It has got to end, and You have to make me eternally happy sooner or later. And once I'm in eternal happiness temporal experiences will be negligible." And, mind you, the man doesn't repent, or change his evil dispositions. God is holy, but the sinner remains wicked, and still defying God, he has to be admitted to God's presence and share His eternal happiness. You see, it won't work. Reason revolts. An eternal hell is reasonable as the only fit place for eternal malice.