Sixtus_of_SienaThe deuterocanonical books of the Bible are those books in the Old Testament which are not found in the canon of modern, rabbinic Jews and Protestants. In Protestant circles, they are frequently referred to as “the apocrypha.”

“Apocrypha” means “hidden things,” and that’s a misnomer, because these books aren’t and never have been hidden. They were part of Christian Scriptures from the very beginning.

The term “deuterocanonicals” is also a misnomer, because its roots suggest these books belong to the “second canon,” and there is no second canon.

Alternately, one might parse it to mean that they were included in the canon secondarily–i.e., after other books–but this is also false. The canon lists of the early church councils in the fourth and fifth centuries–the first time the canon was dealt with by councils–include the deuterocanonical books alongside the protocanonical ones.

So, although it’s the term we’re stuck with, “deuterocanonicals” is itself problematic.

Today I did some research and was finally able to find out who coined the term: Sixtus of Siena.

You can read about him on Wikipedia here.

Based on information in the Oxford English Dictionary, it looks like the term was coined in or around 1566 in Sixtus’s work Bibliotheca sancta ex præcipuis Catholicæ Ecclesiæ auctoribus collecta (i.e., Sacred library collected from the precepts of the authorities of the Catholic Church).

The OED lists the following its first historical example of the term:

[1566   A. F. Sixtus Senensis Bibliotheca Sancta i. 10   Canonici secundi ordinis (qui olim Ecclesiastici uocabantur, & nunc à nobis Deuterocanonici dicuntur) illi sunt, de quibus, quia non statim sub ipsis Apostolorum temporibus, sed longè pòst ad notitiam totius Ecclesiæ peruenerunt, inter Catholicos fuit aliquando sententia anceps.]

While one must give the usual caveats about Wikipedia, it’s worth noting that it states:

Sixtus coined the term deuterocanonical to describe certain books of the Old Testament that had not been accepted as canonical but which appeared in the Septuagint, and the definer for the Roman Catholics of the terms protocanonical and the ancient term apocryphal.

I’d like to find a scholarly, non-Wikipedia source for these, but it does seem to jibe with the data from the OED.

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easter-eggsI grew up and went to college in Arkansas, where the chicken industry is big.

I remember sitting in a college biology class where the professor was explaining how selective breeding (this was in the days before gene editing) had improved the industrial usefulness of chickens.

The example I remember him citing was how, through selective breeding, the food-to-meat ratio of commercial breeds of chickens had been altered, so you now got more meat per pound of chicken feed that you fed the chicken.

(I made mental notes for a future science fiction story involving selective breeding of humans, though I haven’t gotten around to writing that one.)

And an improved food-to-meat ratio was only one characteristic of chickens that selective breeding had made possible.

 

There’s another that is directly related to why we have Easter eggs.

I’ve pointed out for a long time that chickens don’t stop laying just because it’s Lent, and so if–as in the olden days–people were abstaining not just from meat but from eggs as well then by the end of Lent you’re going to have a lot of eggs you need to use up.

The logical thing to do is celebrate the Resurrection (and the ability to eat eggs again) by having an egg party, perhaps by coloring the little things to make them more festive. Hence: Easter eggs.

All that’s true, but today I was reading an article on how refrigeration was controversial when it was first introduced (believe it or not), and the article mentioned a fact about pre-selectively-bred chickens that I hadn’t known:

To illustrate the importance of refrigeration for eggs, Friedberg notes that they used to be a seasonal food. Before modern breeds were developed, hens laid most of their eggs in the spring. That meant that fresh eggs were unavailable or very expensive for most of the year (SOURCE: Livia Gershon, “When Refrigeration Was Controversial,” JSTOR Daily, August 14, 2016).

Got that?

Not only would the hens not stop laying for Lent, Lent was the only time they would lay (“Lent” being the Old English word for spring).

Therefore, if you were a Christian and abstaining from eggs for Lent, you’d miss the lion’s share of your only chance of the year to have them unless you used up all those eggs that were laid during Lent.

One more reason for Easter eggs!

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assumptionAugust 15 is the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary.

In the United States, it is a holy day of obligation.

What is the Assumption of Mary, how did it come to be defined, and what relevance does it have for our lives?

Here are 12 things to know and share . . .

 

1) What is the Assumption of Mary?

The Assumption of Mary is the teaching that:

The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory [Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus 44].

 

2) What level of authority does this teaching have?

This teaching was infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 in the bull Munificentissimus Deus (Latin, “Most Bountiful God”).

As Pius XII explained, this is “a divinely revealed dogma” (ibid.).

This means that it is a dogma in the proper sense. It is thus a matter of faith that has been divinely revealed by God and that has been infallibly proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as such.

 

3) Does that mean it is an “ex cathedra” statement and that we have to believe it?

Yes. Since it is a dogma defined by the pope (rather than by an ecumenical council, for example), it is also an “ex cathedra” statement (one delivered “from the chair” of Peter).

Because it is infallibly defined, it calls for the definitive assent of the faithful.

Pope John Paul II explained:

The definition of the dogma, in conformity with the universal faith of the People of God, definitively excludes every doubt and calls for the express assent of all Christians [General Audience, July 2, 1997].

Note that all infallibly defined teachings are things we are obliged to believe, even if they aren’t defined “ex cathedra” (by the pope acting on his own).

The bishops of the world teaching in union with the pope (either in an ecumenical council or otherwise) can also infallibly define matters, but these aren’t called “ex cathedra” since that term refers specifically to the exercise of the pope’s authority as the successor of St. Peter. (It’s Peter’s cathedra or “chair” that symbolizes the pope’s authority.)

 

4) Does the dogma require us to believe that Mary died?

It is the common teaching that Mary did die. In his work, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott lists this teaching as sententia communior (Latin, “the more common opinion”).

Although it is the common understanding of that Mary did die, and although her death is referred to in some of the sources Pius XII cited in Munificentissimus Deus, he deliberately refrained from defining this as a truth of the faith.

John Paul II noted:

On 1 November 1950, in defining the dogma of the Assumption, Pius XII avoided using the term “resurrection” and did not take a position on the question of the Blessed Virgin’s death as a truth of faith.

The Bull Munificentissimus Deus limits itself to affirming the elevation of Mary’s body to heavenly glory, declaring this truth a “divinely revealed dogma.”

 

5) Why should Mary die if she was free from Original Sin and its stain?

Being free of Original Sin and its stain is not the same thing as being in a glorified, deathless condition.

Jesus was also free of Original Sin and its stain, but he could—and did—die.

Expressing a common view among theologians, Ludwig Ott writes:

For Mary, death, in consequence of her freedom from original sin and from personal sin, was not a consequence of punishment of sin.

However, it seems fitting that Mary’s body, which was by nature mortal, should be, in conformity with that of her Divine Son, subject to the general law of death.

 

6) What are the earliest surviving references to Mary’s Assumption?

John Paul II noted:

The first trace of belief in the Virgin’s Assumption can be found in the apocryphal accounts entitled Transitus Mariae [Latin, “The Crossing Over of Mary”], whose origin dates to the second and third centuries.

These are popular and sometimes romanticized depictions, which in this case, however, pick up an intuition of faith on the part of God’s People.

 

7) How did the recognition of Mary’s Assumption develop in the East?

John Paul II noted:

There was a long period of growing reflection on Mary’s destiny in the next world.

This gradually led the faithful to believe in the glorious raising of the Mother of Jesus, in body and soul, and to the institution in the East of the liturgical feasts of the Dormition [“falling asleep”—i.e., death] and Assumption of Mary.

 

8) How did Pius XII prepare for the definition of the Assumption?

John Paul II noted:

In May 1946, with the Encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae, Pius XII called for a broad consultation, inquiring among the Bishops and, through them, among the clergy and the People of God as to the possibility and opportuneness of defining the bodily assumption of Mary as a dogma of faith.

The result was extremely positive: only six answers out of 1,181 showed any reservations about the revealed character of this truth.

 

9) What Scriptural basis is there for the teaching?

John Paul II noted:

Although the New Testament does not explicitly affirm Mary’s Assumption, it offers a basis for it because it strongly emphasized the Blessed Virgin’s perfect union with Jesus’ destiny.

This union, which is manifested, from the time of the Savior’s miraculous conception, in the Mother’s participation in her Son’s mission and especially in her association with his redemptive sacrifice, cannot fail to require a continuation after death.

Perfectly united with the life and saving work of Jesus, Mary shares his heavenly destiny in body and soul.

There are, thus, passages in Scripture that resonate with the Assumption, even though they do not spell it out.

 

10) What are some specific Old Testament passages?

Pope Pius XII pointed to several passages that have been legitimately used in a “rather free” manner to explain belief in the Assumption (meaning: these passages resonate with it in various ways, but they don’t provide explicit proof):

Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers, have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption.

Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist:

“Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified” (Ps. 131:8);

and have looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord’s temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in heaven.

Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen entering triumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the divine Redeemer(Ps. 44:10-14ff).

Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles “that goes up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense” to be crowned (Song 3:6; cf. also 4:8, 6:9).

These are proposed as depicting that heavenly Queen and heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the courts of heaven with the divine Bridegroom [Munificentissimus Deus 26].

11) What are some specific New Testament passages?

Pius XII continued:

Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos (Rev. 12:1ff).

Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women”(Luke 1:28), since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve [Munificentissimus Deus 27].

 

12) How can we apply this teaching to our everyday lives?

According to Pope Benedict XVI:

By contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on eternal goods we will one day share in this same glory and the earth will become more beautiful.

Consequently, we must not lose our serenity and peace even amid the thousands of daily difficulties. The luminous sign of Our Lady taken up into Heaven shines out even more brightly when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to loom on the horizon.

We may be sure of it: from on high, Mary follows our footsteps with gentle concern, dispels the gloom in moments of darkness and distress, reassures us with her motherly hand.

Supported by awareness of this, let us continue confidently on our path of Christian commitment wherever Providence may lead us. Let us forge ahead in our lives under Mary’s guidance [General Audience, August 16, 2006].

 
 

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

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Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.

CLICK HERE TO GET JIMMY AKIN’S STUDIES ON MARK.

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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 27 July 2016 to 10 August 2016.

General Audiences

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “God’s forgiveness knows no limits…God looks at the heart that seeks forgiveness. #Assisi #Porziuncola” @Pontifex 4 August 2016
  • “Good luck to the athletes at #Rio2016! May you always be messengers of goodwill and true sporting spirit.” @Pontifex 5 August 2016
  • “We oppose hatred and destruction with goodness. We live in societies of different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and sisters.” @Pontifex 7 August 2016
  • “When there is dialogue in the family, tensions are easily resolved.” @Pontifex 8 August 2016
  • “We ask for respect for indigenous peoples whose very identity and existence are threatened.” @Pontifex 9 August 2016
  • “A society made up of different cultures must seek unity in respect.” @Pontifex 10 August 2016

Papal Instagram

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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 17 July 2016 to 2 August 2016.

Angelus

Homilies

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Dear young people, I bless your journey towards Krakow: may it be a pilgrimage of faith and fraternity.
    #Krakow2016” @Pontifex 25 July 2016
  • “Dear young people, let us offer the world a mosaic of many races, cultures and peoples united in the name of Jesus!
    #Krakow2016” @Pontifex 25 July 2016
  • “Dear young people, stay united in prayer so that this WYD may be rich with spiritual fruits. See you tomorrow!
    #Krakow2016” @Pontifex 26 July 2016
  • “Let’s live WYD in Krakow together!
    #Krakow2016
    https://www.instagram.com/franciscus@Pontifex 27 July 2016
  • “The Lord is amongst us and takes care of us, without deciding for us.” @Pontifex 28 July 2016
  • “The Lord loves to participate in the events of our daily lives and to walk with us.” @Pontifex 28 July 2016
  • “A merciful heart has the courage to leave comforts behind and to encounter others, embracing everyone.” @Pontifex 28 July 2016
  • “Jesus Christ encourages us to lift up our eyes and to dream lofty dreams. During these days of the WYD, Jesus wants to enter our homes.” @Pontifex 28 July 2016
  • “How I wish that we, as Christians, could be close to the sick the same way Jesus was: in silence, with a caress and in prayer.” @Pontifex 29 July 2016
  • “Anyone who performs works of mercy is not afraid of death.” @Pontifex 29 July 2016
  • “Let us embrace the Cross. Jesus embraces the nakedness, hunger, thirst, loneliness, suffering and death of all men and women of all time.” @Pontifex 29 July 2016
  • “Dear young people, this evening the Lord renews His invitation to take the lead in serving others.” @Pontifex 29 July 2016
  • “”I desire mercy, not sacrifice”.
    Francis. 30/7/2016.
    Sanctuary of Divine Mercy.“ @Pontifex 30 July 2016
  • “Jesus wants truly consecrated hearts that live by His forgiveness and share it compassionately with their brothers and sisters.” @Pontifex 30 July 2016
  • “Jesus seeks hearts that are open and tender toward the weak; hearts that are not hard, but docile and transparent.” @Pontifex 30 July 2016
  • “We have come into the world in order to leave a mark.” @Pontifex 30 July 2016
  • “God is inviting you to dream: He wants to show you that you can make the world a different place.” @Pontifex 30 July 2016
  • “Jesus is calling you to leave your mark on life: one that transforms your own life and the lives of others.” @Pontifex 30 July 2016
  • “God love us as we are: no sin, fault or mistake can make Him change His mind.” @Pontifex 31 July 2016
  • “God counts on you for who you are, not for what you have. You are valuable in His eyes and your value is priceless.” @Pontifex 31 July 2016
  • “Jesus speaks to you every day. Let His Gospel become yours and let Him be your “navigator” on life’s journey!” @Pontifex 31 July 2016
  • “A huge “thank you”, dear young people! St John Paul II rejoiced in Heaven, and will help you bring the joy of the Gospel wherever you go.” @Pontifex 31 July 2016
  • “The secret to joy: never suppress positive curiosity; get involved, because life is meant to be lived.” @Pontifex 2 August 2016

Papal Instagram

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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 18 June 2016 to 19 July 2016.

Angelus

Letters

Messages

Motu Proprio

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “I pray for the victims of the attack in Nice and their families. I ask God to convert the hearts of the violent blinded by hate.” @Pontifex 15 July 2016
  • “Let us remember the elderly and the sick who in the summer months are often more alone and can be in difficulty.” @Pontifex 17 July 2016

Papal Instagram

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popr-francis-teachingThis version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 25 May 2016 to 10 July 2016.

Angelus

General Audiences

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “This Jubilee of mercy is a time of reconciliation for everyone.” @Pontifex 30 June 2016
  • “In the world of work today it is essential to educate and follow the luminous and demanding path of honesty.” @Pontifex 1 July 2016
  • “True joy which is experienced in the family is not something random and fortuitous, but normal and ongoing.” @Pontifex 2 July 2016
  • “Loving and forgiving as God loves and forgives. This is a programme of life that can know no interruptions or exceptions.” @Pontifex 3 July 2016
  • “The summertime offers many people an occasion for rest. It’s also a favorable time to take care of our human relationships.” @Pontifex 4 July 2016
  • “Let’s join forces, at all levels, to ensure that peace in beloved Syria is possible! #peacepossible4Syria” @Pontifex 5 July 2016
  • “During this month my audiences are suspended, but I do not stop praying for you, while I ask that you please pray for me!” @Pontifex 7 July 2016
  • “Vacations offer a time to rest and to restore the spirit, especially through a more quiet reading of the Gospels.” @Pontifex 10 July 2016

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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 10 June 2016 to 29 June 2016.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Please accompany me with your prayers during my apostolic journey to Armenia.” @Pontifex 23 June 2016
  • “The commitment to full unity and cooperation among all the Lord’s disciples is like a radiant light in a dark night. #PopeInArmenia” @Pontifex 24 June 2016
  • “The sufferings of the Armenians are our own, they are the sufferings of the members of Christ’s Mystical Body. #PopeInArmenia” @Pontifex 25 June 2016
  • “May the Armenian Church walk in peace and may the communion between us be complete. #PopeInArmenia” @Pontifex 26 June 2016
  • “I am happy to have visited Armenia, the first nation to accept Christianity as its religion, and I thank all for the welcome. #PopeInArmenia” @Pontifex 26 June 2016
  • “Jesus looks for us and invites us to make room in the inner reaches of our heart. Do we realize it?” @Pontifex 27 June 2016
  • “If God is present in our life, the joy of bringing the Gospel will be our strength and our happiness.” @Pontifex 28 June 2016
  • “Today the Lord repeats to all pastors: follow me despite the difficulties, follow me by proclaiming the Gospel to all.” @Pontifex 29 June 2016

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Pope_Francis_3_on_papal_flight_from_Africa_to_Italy_Nov_30_2015_Credit_Martha_Calderon_CNA_11_30_15During his recent plane flight back from Armenia, Pope Francis gave a press conference in which he discussed a number of issues, including the question of whether Catholics should apologize to homosexuals.

Here are 6 things to know and share . . .

 

1) Where can I read the full text of the press conference?

You can read it here.

 

2) What did the pope discuss during the press conference?

He answered questions dealing with:

  • His impressions of Armenia and his hopes for it.
  • What he plans to do in a forthcoming trip to Azerbaijan
  • Why he chose to describe the massive Turkish slaughter of Armenians in the early 20th century as a “genocide,” knowing that this word would displease Turkish authorities.
  • His reaction to recent comments by Msgr. Georg Ganswein that seemed to suggest Pope Emeritus Benedict still somehow exercises papal ministry.
  • His thoughts on the current efforts in the Orthodox community to hold a Pan-Orthodox Council
  • His thoughts on Britain’s decision to leave the European Union
  • Martin Luther and ecumenism
  • The issues of whether the Church could have ordained deaconesses
  • Cardinal Marx’s recent statement that Catholics should apologize to homosexuals
  • What he will do when he visits Poland for World Youth Day

 

3) What did he say regarding Pope Emeritus Benedict?

He stated that he hadn’t seen Msgr. Ganswein’s comments, but that Benedict resigned in 2013 and, consequently, “there is one single Pope” now. Benedict “is the Pope Emeritus, not the second Pope.”

He mentioned a rumor he heard:

I heard this, maybe they’re just rumors but they fit with his character – that some have gone there (to him) to complain because of this new Pope… and he chased them away, eh, with the best Bavarian style, educated, but he chased them away.

If this happened, it does fit with Benedict’s known character. He is very conscious that he is setting an example for future popes who resign, and staying out of their successors’ way and praying for them is the example he has determined to set.

Pope Francis also spoke warmly of Benedict:

I’ve said that it’s a grace to have a wise grandfather at home. I’ve also told him to his face and he laughs, but for me he is the Pope Emeritus. He is the wise grandfather. He is the man that protects my shoulders and back with his prayer. . . .

He’s a man of his word, an upstanding, upstanding, upstanding man. . . .

I will be [at the celebration of Benedict’s 65th ordination anniversary] and I will say something to this great man of prayer, of courage that is the Pope Emeritus . . . who is faithful to his word and a great man of God, is very intelligent, and for me he is the wise grandfather at home.

 

4) What did Pope Francis say regarding Martin Luther and ecumenism?

Actually, even more significant is something he did not say.

In posing the question to him, the German reporter asked whether the Church might “annul or withdraw the excommunication of Martin Luther or of [have] some sort of rehabilitation” for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Pope Francis completely sidestepped this suggestion in his response and didn’t say anything about it.

His comments on Luther were diplomatic, drawing a distinction between Luther’s intentions and his methods (i.e., actions):

I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer. Perhaps some methods were not correct.

Pope Francis also praised the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification that was signed by the Catholic Church, the Lutheran World Federation, and later by the World Methodist Council, but he noted the continuing reality of divisions, including in the Protestant world. Thus mentioned that there were even two Lutheran churches in Buenos Aires that did not fully get along.

In spite of such divisions, he suggested that Christians pray together and work together on behalf of the poor, the persecuted, etc., while theologians study the questions that divide different groups of Christians.

However, he cautioned:

But this is a long path, very long. One time jokingly I said: I know when full unity will happen. – “when?” – “the day after the Son of Man comes,” because we don’t know…the Holy Spirit will give the grace, but in the meantime, praying, loving each other and working together.

This suggests a more realistic understanding of ecumenical possibilities than some ecumenists have entertained in recent years.

The divisions separating Christians, particularly in the Protestant community, are too numerous and deep to allow full union any time soon—if ever. Consequently, joint prayer and social action, not corporate reunion, is the most that can be achieved at present.

 

5) What did Pope Francis say regarding ordained deaconesses?

He downplayed the idea. He began with a joke from an Argentinian president to the effect that if you want something not to be resolved, let a commission study it. This seemed to downplay expectations for the new commission studying the question of ordained deaconesses, which he recently agreed to.

He also indicated he was aware that, while there were women called “deaconesses” in the early Church, this did not mean they had the sacrament of holy orders and they had only limited functions, such as assisting bishops in situations that would be inappropriate for a male to participate in (e.g., examining a woman’s body, unclothed, for signs of spousal abuse).

He also expressed displeasure at those (apparently referring to the media) who spun his prior comments on the subject as being “open” to ordaining deaconesses:

They said: “The Church opens the door to deaconesses.” Really? I was a bit annoyed because this is not telling the truth of things.

All he had agreed to was letting a commission study the question, and he downplayed the idea it would come to different conclusions than similar studies had already reached:

I spoke with the prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith [i.e., Gerhard Muller], and he told me, “look, there is a study which the international theological commission had made in 1980.”

And I asked the president to please make a list. Give me a list of who I can take to create this commission. He sent me the list to create this commission, but I believe that the theme has been studied a lot, and I don’t think it will be difficult to shed light on this argument.

Here the Holy Father apparently refers to a study by the International Theological Commission, which was actually released in 2002, that concluded the deaconesses in the early Church were not ordained.

Instead of ordaining deaconesses, Pope Francis pointed to the value of an ongoing role for women’s voices in theology, as with a commission of women theologians he previously appointed.

 

6) What did Pope Francis say regarding Catholics apologizing to homosexuals?

Let’s first deal with the subject itself:

  • Have Christians ever committed offenses against homosexual people? Yes. Christians, like everyone else, are sinners.
  • Should we apologize when we’ve done something wrong? In an appropriate time and way, yes. This is not a controversial point.
  • Therefore, should Christians apologize for faults committed against homosexual people? In an appropriate time and way, yes, just like you’d apologize for wrongs done to anyone.

That doesn’t mean groveling. It doesn’t mean being a doormat. It doesn’t mean apologizing for things that weren’t wrongs. It doesn’t mean letting a person off the hook for things they’ve done wrong. And it doesn’t mean weakening the Church’s teaching.

Now put yourself in the position of the pope: You’re talking to the world media, knowing whatever you say is going to get distilled through the distorting lens the media uses for everything. Are you really going to say, “No, I don’t think Christians should apologize to homosexuals?”

Your critics can come back with the obvious fact that Christians are sinners and have committed faults regarding homosexuals in the past (including lynchings).

Taking a “no apology” stance would produce a media firestorm that would push homosexuals even farther from the Church and do damage to the prospects of reaching them with the gospel.

On the other hand, taking a groveling, “Yes, we’ve done everything wrong. We’re walking evil incarnate” approach is not going to help them—or anyone else—either.

So, as pope, you’re likely to seek a middle ground—finding a way to acknowledge the proper role of apologizing for past faults without denying Church teaching or blowing this one issue out of proportion.

And that’s what the pope did.

He began by orienting his remarks with respect to what he has said previously and what the Catechism says:

I will repeat what I said on my first trip. I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally. . . .

And we must accompany them well…this is what the catechism says, a clear catechism.

Pope Francis’s repeated references to the Catechism indicate his remarks are to be understood in light of what it says regarding homosexuality (see CCC 2357-2359). He may not repeat everything the Catechism states in his off-the-cuff answer, but he is taking the Catechism as his orienting point for the issue.

He also noted that the homosexual community can be the subject of criticism:

One can condemn, but not for theological reasons, but for reasons of political behavior…Certain manifestations are a bit too offensive for others, no?

In view of his orienting his remarks from the Catechism, when he says homosexuals are not to be condemned for theological reasons, he apparently means that Catholic theology doesn’t condemn a person simply because he has homosexual tendencies.

His willingness to acknowledge grounds for criticizing the actions of some homosexuals for offensive behavior in the social-political sphere is noteworthy.

Also noteworthy is his repetition, with slight modification, of one of his most famous remarks on the subject:

The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge?

As before, the “who (am I/are we) to judge” remark assumes that the person in question has good will and is seeking God—not displaying ill will and ignoring God while seeking to justify homosexual actions.

While not repudiating Cardinal Marx’s suggestion that Catholics should apologize to homosexuals for past faults, Pope Francis sought to frame the thought in a larger context:

I think that the Church must not only ask forgiveness – like that “Marxist Cardinal” said (laughs) – must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended. But she must ask forgiveness to the poor too, to women who are exploited, to children who are exploited for labor. She must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons. The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times – when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners!

He didn’t say anything further regarding homosexuals but instead reflected on how the Church contains both wheat and weeds, as in Jesus’ parable (Matt. 13:24-30).

Thus, when asked about Cardinal Marx’s statement, Pope Francis:

  • sought to reiterate what he had previously said,
  • sought to reiterate what the Catechism says,
  • gave the proposal a nominal endorsement, and then
  • took the focus off the question of homosexuals.

Headlines that declared “Pope says Christians should apologize to gay people” were thus highly misleading.

 

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popr-francis-teaching

This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 22 May 2016 to 22 June 2016.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Motu Proprio

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “The tenderness of God is present in the lives of all those who attend the sick and understand their needs, with eyes full of love.” @Pontifex 10 June 2016
  • “Do not tire of asking in prayer for the Lord’s help especially in difficulty.” @Pontifex 11 June 2016
  • “Dear sick people, entrust yourselves to the Spirit who will not fail you with the consoling light of his presence.” @Pontifex 12 June 2016
  • “I invite all of the institutions of the world to give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger. #ZeroHunger” @Pontifex 13 June 2016
  • “The future of society requires the fruitful encounter between young and old.” @Pontifex 14 June 2016
  • “Dear elderly friends, God does not abandon you; he is with you! With his help you are and you continue to be the memory for your people.” @Pontifex 15 June 2016
  • “Even in the worst situation of life, God waits for me, God wants to embrace me, God expects me.” @Pontifex 16 June 2016
  • “In prayer let us experience the compassion of God, full of merciful love.” @Pontifex 17 June 2016
  • “More than a scientific question, the universe is a joyful mystery that speaks of God’s boundless love for us.” @Pontifex 18 June 2016
  • “Let us join in prayer with our Orthodox brothers and sisters for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church opening today in Crete.” @Pontifex 19 June 2016
  • “We are all on a journey to the common house of heaven, where we will be able to admire with joyful wonder the mystery of the universe.” @Pontifex 20 June 2016
  • “People are the primary artisans of their own development, the first in charge!” @Pontifex 21 June 2016
  • “Being Christian involves joining one’s own life, in all its aspects, to the person of Jesus and, through Him, to the Father.” @Pontifex 22 June 2016

Papal Instagram

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