Theology Q and A

Ask any question on theology. I’ll answer within reason, if I can. Use the comments below for the Q and the A.

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62 Responses to Theology Q and A

  1. James says:

    I’m still trying to understand how Pope Francis could say the death penalty is per se contrary to the Gospel when its legitimate use has been affirmed by the Church. Calling it per se contrary to the Gospel doesn’t seem to be limited to referring to its use by certain regimes. I guess it might matter what Pope Francis is talking about by the Gospel (as in, boiled down to the kerygma, maybe?).

    • Ron Conte says:

      The Gospel is about life, living like Christ, and reaching eternal life. So the death penalty, while it can be moral, is essentially contrary to the Gospel. Pope Francis: “It is per se contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life that never ceases to be sacred in the eyes of its Creator and of which – ultimately – only God is the true judge and guarantor.” There’s nothing wrong with what Francis has said on the death penalty. He never said it was intrinsically evil. He does judge that it is no longer necessary in the circumstances of modern society, as we can incarcerate and possibly reform criminals.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Could the refusal of the total gift of self at the time of marriage be a reason for invalidity? This denial of the total gift of self was brought forth after the vows by Contraception(although not every time), wanting the spouse to contracept and be sterilized after one child, and having a contraceptive mentality.

    • Ron Conte says:

      A valid marriage, ratified and consummated, is not dissolved by anything but death. Sins committed by either spouse during the marriage cannot invalidate such a marriage.

  3. Matt says:

    What are the differences between the Nova Vulgata and the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate? Do you recommend reading both versions in Bible studies?

    • Ron Conte says:

      On problems with the Nova Vulgata, see my articles here. The Pope Sixtus V and Pope Clement VIII Vulgate has been the basis for editions of the Latin Bible from 1590 to the present day. The NV is not in the Latin scriptural tradition; it is essentially a Latin Bible that has been altered to agree with Hebrew and Greek texts. See for online editions of the Latin Bible. I do not recommend the NV.

  4. Thomas Mazanec says:

    Why did Jesus pray “If it is Your Will, let this cup pass from Me.”
    Surely He knew it was not the Father’s Will.

    • Ron Conte says:

      He gave us an example to follow in times of great suffering. We are not to pursue suffering, as if it were good in itself. We are to accept the crosses willed by God.

  5. Laura says:

    My understanding is that the recent bishops of Mostar (having jurisdiction over tne parish of the Medjugorje apparitions) have stated, after investigating, that they find no evidence of the supernatural there. Past bishops have cited lies allegedly told by the visionaries early on. I think the bishops have not merely declined to endorse the apparitions but have spoken negatively about the phenomena and repeatedly discouraged pilgrims. The messages given are repetitive and often banal. For these reasons, I concluded many years ago that the apparitions are not the Blessed Mother. It seems you believe they are, and I’d like to know how you respond to the above objections.

    Thank you for your good work in defense of the Pope.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The faithful are free to reject or ignore any claimed private revelation, whether approved by a Bishop or not. The Bishops can err in these types of decisions. In my study of claimed private revelations, I’ve concluded that many alleged apparitions are false. But I find the messages of Medjugorje to be profound, faithful to Church teaching, and to reflect the wisdom and mercy of Mary.

  6. Wander Marcel da Silva says:

    My question is about St. Gregory Narek, he is well attacked by the traditional media as they say he was not officially Catholic united to Rome and was even Monoficists, and that Pope Francis is wrong to have canonized a “schismatic heretic”.

    • Ron Conte says:

      It is not the place of the faithful to investigate and pass judgment upon the teachings or rulings of the Church. The canonization of any Saint by the Roman Pontiff is infallible. Recall that Saint Hippolytus of Rome was at one point an antipope; he later repented and was reconciled to Rome.

  7. Vít Lacman says:

    At least roughly, how much of a person’s free time should be rightly devoted to God. For example, if a man has 8 hours a day of free time, how much of it should be spent on prayer, meditation, reading the bible and so on, while the rest he can spend on his leisure?
    Thank You for Your answer.

    • Ron Conte says:

      This varies depending on the circumstances of each person’s life. You have to pray to God for the answer, then try different amounts of time devoted to prayer, spiritual reading, etc. and see what works best in your spiritual life at this point in time. At Medjugorje, Mary recommended 3 hours of prayer (at least) per day. But I would say that this is not for everyone, and more of a goal for many people not accustomed to much daily prayer.

  8. Robert Fastiggi says:

    Dear Ron,

    This article might be helpful with regard to St. Gregory of Narek: It seems that St. Gregory of Narek found the Christology of Chalecdon acceptable. Moreover, when the Armenian Catholic Church was established under Pope Benedict XIV in 1742, Armenian Catholics were allowed to venerate Gregory of Narek (c. 950-1011) as a saint even though he had not been formally declared a saint by the Pope. Thus, an Eastern Catholic Church, in full communion with Rome, already recognized Gregory of Narek as a saint prior to his being named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis. This article might also be helpful:

    In the 1970s the Ukrainian Catholic Church was given permission to venerate the 14th century monk and archbishop, Gregory Palamas, as a saint even though he was not in full communion with the Pope during his lifetime (and he also rejected the Filioque).It was discovered that, when many Ukrainian Christians entered into full Catholic communion in the late 16th century, they were given permission to honor the saints already on their calendar, one of whom was Gregory Palamas.

  9. Marcelo Seara says:

    Hello Ron, may the grace of God and the love of Mary accompany you, my question is the following many of the traditionalist Catholics say that the CVII more precisely the document Dignitatis Humanae broke with tradition for defending religious freedom, because before the Catholic Church sustains only a tolerance and freedom would have been condemned by popes of the past, my question is if this is really true the document D.H broke with the tradition before the CVII?

    • Ron Conte says:

      No. The Church is indefectible; She cannot go astray or lead astray. Now individual Bishops or small groups of local Bishops can go astray. But the Pope is indefectible and every Ecumenical Council approved by the Pope is indefectible. So it is a matter of faith and dogma that Vatican II did not go astray. Moreover, Vatican II was not only approved by Pope Saint Paul VI but also by every Pope since that time. The Church cannot have gone astray for so long, and She cannot go astray for even a day.

      Therefore, do not be misled by persons who present all manner of arguments to attack Vatican II. Do not let them draw you into a labyrinth of specious arguments and false or inaccurate claims. It is a matter of faith to believe that the Council could not have erred gravely at all. Also, I believe that no Ecumenical Council has ever been found to have erred in any teaching on faith or morals to any extent. This applies to all that is approved by the Roman Pontiff, for nothing is “of a Council” unless approved by the Pope. Stand on faith.

  10. Barbara says:

    I understand that restitution must be made if you steal/destroy anothers property .Does the same apply for things like cheating on taxes,taking government benefits ,being lazy at work etc thank you

    • Ron Conte says:

      If there is no practical way to make restitution, or if attempting to do so would cause more harm than it would do good, then restitution can be made by doing penance (prayer, fasting, works of mercy).

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