Answers to Questions about Catholicism (closed)

The latest Q and A post, for all your questions related to Catholic theology.

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14 Responses to Answers to Questions about Catholicism (closed)

  1. Francisco says:

    What happens when a person sincerely repents all his sins, goes to Confession, makes a good confession, but the priest does not forgets his sins for no good reason. Are this person’s sins retained per (John 20:23) ?

    • Ron Conte says:

      If the priest does not grant absolution, for a bad reason or for no good reason, then absolution is not granted. However, perfect contrition forgives all sins immediately, without confession, and restores the state of grace. The person who returns to the state of grace in this way has an obligation to confess. But if the priest refuses absolution, the penitent can simply go to Confession at a later time, with a different priest.

  2. Marco says:

    Ehi Ron, what happened to my question?

  3. Miroslaw says:

    Ron what you think about the following claims of Saint Ludwik Grignion de Monfort ?:
    “What I say in an absolute sense of our Lord, I say in a relative sense of our Blessed Lady. Jesus, in choosing her as his inseparable associate in his life, glory and power in heaven and on earth, has given her by grace in his kingdom all the same rights and privileges that he possesses by nature. “All that belongs to God by nature belongs to Mary by grace”, say the saints, and, according to them, just as Jesus and Mary have the same will and the same power, they have also the same subjects, servants and slaves”.
    “Moreover, if, as I have said, the Blessed Virgin is the Queen and Sovereign of heaven and earth, does she not then have as many subjects and slaves as there are creatures? “All things, including Mary herself, are subject to the power of God. All things, God included, are subject to the Virgin’s power”, so we are told by St. Anselm, St. Bernard, St. Bernardine and St. Bonaventure”.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t have any comment on those quotes. This post on my blog, the Ask a Question type of post, is for posing theological questions to me, to obtain an answer. It is not a place for readers to teach other readers. Thanks.

  4. Mark P. says:

    Someone on the Catholic Answers forum recently converted to Catholicism from Protestantism. His wife is still Protestant, but they were both Protestant when they married. He wants to have their children baptized, but there is some resistance from his wife; generally, it seems from the post that she supports his conversion, but draws the line at baptizing the children.

    My thought was that as father and husband, and Catholic, the proper order of family is that he is head of the house and, being Catholic, should have the children baptized. He should explain the decision to his wife and try his best to have her accept the decision, but if she does not, he probably has an obligation, as spiritual head of the family, to baptize the children.

    But what if it was the other way around, i.e. the mother was Catholic and the father was Protestant? As Catholics, shouldn’t we believe that the best course of action would be to baptize the children Catholic? But in this case, if the wife goes against the husband’s wishes, the proper order of the Christian household is somewhat fractured. I was thinking that in this case (I may be completely wrong), if the father is a devout Christian but not Catholic, it would overall be more prudent to maintain the order of the household. In this case, the wife could pray for her husband’s conversion to Catholicism, or ask a male Catholic friend or relative to talk with him so he may possibly approve the baptism. Could these children achieve a baptism of desire through their mother’s prayers, without being formally baptized?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Protestant baptism is valid in the Catholic Church. Only a few fringe groups might call themselves Protestant and not have valid baptism.
      I don’t think the order in the family, with the husband as head, is so important that the wife could not baptize her own children. There was a legal case in the news recently, on this topic. So in any real situation (as opposed to a hypothetical such as we are discussing), they should also generally not break the law.
      A baptism of desire must be the desire of the person receiving the state of grace, per Pope Pius XII, Address to Midwives, n. 21a.

  5. Matt says:

    I have a question: how do we determine the ordering of an act? I have read quite a few of your blog posts, and just want to specify going into this that I love Catholicism and think Catholics are right about everything. I am just asking these questions to understand how everything fits together.

    Here is a question I have: if a woman had her ovaries removed, how is the act of intercourse still ordered towards procreation? Here is what I mean. If you were an observer from outer space, looking in on planet Earth, and all you saw were infertile women with their ovaries removed, you would not know that procreation was an END of intercourse. Rather, you have to look at OTHER couples to infer that intercourse leads to procreation. We then say that intercourse with a fertile couple or infertile heterosexual couple have the same moral species. Is this contingent just on our definition of intercourse? Why specifically are oral sex, anal sex, or vaginal sex of separate species? Sure they differ in the body parts used, but different acts of theft differ in the body parts used (you might kick in a robbery, versus punch in a robbery), but why then are they still the of the same moral species of theft in spite of the different body parts used, while for sexual acts it is the body parts exclusively which determine the ordering?

    Say instead we defined intercourse to be stimulation of the genitals. We would conclude that whenever the end of procreation occurred, stimulation of the genitals also occurred, therefore it was ordered towards procreation. If we then concluded the ordering of stimulation of the genitals was procreation, and two men were stimulating their genitals, their act would also be ordered towards procreation, because the fact that it does not achieve that end is irrelevant. You may reply that the species of acts should be broken down as far as possible. So just like movement can be broken down into running, sprinting, crawling, etc. we can say stimulation of the genitals can be broken down into masturbation, oral, anal, vaginal, etc. But then why not also break it down further, into each thrust as separate acts/ species (because each could be separate volitional choices based on because you may choose to change the rhythm/ speed)? And then only the last thrust would be of the procreative kind, all the others akin to foreplay. See my problem: we cannot be too broad intercourse = “stimulation of genitals” but also not too narrow intercourse = “thrust of genitals into vagina”, rather intercourse = “sequence of thrusts from arousal to orgasm.” Why that definition?

    Thank you so much, and I hope my random thoughts are not too much. I just want to say again, I am on your side, I believe Catholics are right about everything. I love what you do and I hope you keep up the good work.

    • Ron Conte says:

      It is difficult for me to reply succinctly to such a long comment, with so many different questions in it. Sometimes the best answer is that you need to study Catholic teaching on ethics to understand these things. But I’ll try to sum up the answers.

      The object of an act is the end, in terms of morality, toward which the knowingly chosen act is inherently ordered. But the moral nature of the act is nothing other than the ordering of the act towards that end, not the attainment of the end. Attempted failed murder is still a grave sin, despite the fact that no one died, because the knowingly chosen act was morally disordered. The same for good acts: the knowingly chosen act must be ordered only toward good, even if that good is not attained.

      So an elderly married couple who have natural relations have the good ordering toward procreation in the act, and so the moral nature of the act is good. The moral nature of the act is not determined by the attainment of the object, but only by the ordering toward that object.

  6. Matt says:

    Thank you so much for your reply. Here is a very succinct question that I think would help me.

    ******How do we determine the ORDERING of an act and how do we know what defines a sex act (aka. why is sexual intercourse a different act than just grouping all stimulation as “sex act”… why is intercourse itself not just broken up into each of the volitional choices that go into intercourse, so each change of position, each volitional change of speed, etc. are foreplay, before the final act)?

    What I mean is: why is sex (defined as sexual intercourse) ordered towards procreation, and not sex (defined as stimulation of the genitals) not ordered towards procreation? Just like sexual intercourse does not always attain its end of procreation, but is still ordered towards procreation, why could not all sexual stimulation be ordered to procreation, but just not always attain that end when the stimulation is not intercourse. But the fact that non-intercourse stimulation cannot attain that end would not effect its inherent ordering. Where is this reasoning going wrong? Thanks.

    • Ron Conte says:

      An act is a deliberate knowing choice of the human person. This definition is clear from Veritatis Splendor and the CCC. A sexual act is the deliberate use of the sexual faculty. Since the sexual faculty is designed for procreation, the moral use of the sexual faculty, i.e. moral sexual acts, must retain that ordering toward the procreative finality. This excludes contraception as well as any non-procreative types of sex.

      “why is intercourse itself not just broken up into each of the volitional choices?” Each choice is an act subject to morality. So as natural intercourse occurs, the choices made are subject to the moral law. We tend to speak of a set of acts under one term: a married couple had sex. But each choice of the will is subject to morality. If all the acts of a set are moral, and are all natural acts, then we can use a term that includes several choices. But what we cannot do is bury an intrinsically evil act in the set of acts, and ignore its immorality, as if it were all one act.

      On the question of not attaining the end: it is not the attainment of the end that makes the act good or evil, but rather the ordering toward the end. Unnatural sexual acts are not ordered toward procreation because they are inherently incapable of procreation, even in two fertile individuals. Natural sex which fails to attain procreation is still ordered toward that end. That is the difference.

  7. Paul M. says:

    Not exactly a theological question, but would you mind sharing what inspired you to name your blog “the Reproach of Christ? Thanks.

    • Ron Conte says:

      because, in modern society, Christians and perhaps especially Catholics, suffer reproach for our beliefs. The phrase comes from Sacred Scripture, and describes being reproached (blamed, discredited, faulted) because of one’s faithfulness to Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church.

      {11:24} By faith, Moses, after growing up, denied himself a place as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
      {11:25} choosing to be afflicted with the people of God, rather than to have the pleasantness of sin for a time,
      {11:26} valuing the reproach of Christ to be a greater wealth than the treasures of the Egyptians. For he looked forward to his reward.

      {13:12} Because of this, Jesus, too, in order to sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered outside the gate.
      {13:13} And so, let us go forth to him, outside the camp, bearing his reproach.
      {13:14} For in this place, we have no everlasting city; instead, we seek one in the future.

      [1 Peter]
      {4:14} If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you will be blessed, because that which is of the honor, glory, and power of God, and that which is of his Spirit, rests upon you.

      {15:1} But we who are stronger must bear with the feebleness of the weak, and not so as to please ourselves.
      {15:2} Each one of you should please his neighbor unto good, for edification.
      {15:3} For even Christ did not please himself, but as it was written: “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell upon me.”

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