Jegsy Scarr

Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

300 posts in this topic

Hey, guys!

So I thought I'd start this little thread for a few reasons:

Firstly, because over the course of the year or so I've been a member of this site, there's probably been at least a dozen occasions where I've been asked: "So Jegs, what does the Catholic Church say about [this thing]?". So I thought it'd be a good idea to have a thread where you can ask me questions and whatnot.

Secondly, because if I'm honest, I really enjoy answering the questions! I'm not sure why...It's maybe just because it's like school when the teacher asks the class a question, and you get this thrill of: "Oh! Oh! Oh! I know this one!" (I get the same thrill if people ask me a question about the Phantom of the Opera, too...)

And thirdly, I think it's a good idea for people - and not just Catholics - to keep expanding their knowledge about their faith and what they believe. So if anyone asks me something to which I honestly don't know the answer to, then I know that's an area I need to learn more about. And even if I do know, I still have to go away and gather evidence and arguments and whatnot. So you guys get an answer, and I get to learn more about my faith, so it's really win-win!

So, if anyone has a question, fire away! And I'll try and get back to you as quickly as I can.

Oh, and feel free to start your own "Ask a..." thread, if you're non-Catholic, and want to answer people's questions about your own faith. I figure it's a good way to learn from each other, and whatnot...

xxx

P.S. You could use this thread to ask me questions about the Phantom of the Opera, too, if you like...

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Lol, our first "Ask the ...." column!

lol! Yeah, I know...It's very clichéd, isn't it? But I figure it'll be fun (and educational!)

xxx

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lol! Yeah, I know...It's very clichéd, isn't it? But I figure it'll be fun (and educational!)

xxx

I love this idea Jegsy!! If I think of anything i'll be sure and ask you here :)

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Why do Catholics believe bread and wine is the literal body and blood of Christ?

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Why do Catholics believe bread and wine is the literal body and blood of Christ?

Great question! I reckon that's probably one of the most commonly asked questions about Catholicism, so I'm glad I can get it answered.

Why do we believe it's really His body and blood? Because He said so. If you look at John 6, at about 6:51 is when Jesus tells the Jewish multitudes that the bread and wine is really His body and blood (It's pretty long, but I'll give you it all):

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

If you look at that passage, there is absolutely nothing there to suggest that Jesus is speaking symbolically. In fact, He doesn't just say, "This bread is my flesh", He emphasises it several times: "My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them".

Now some argue, "Well, in the New Testament, Jesus also says that He's a "door" and a "vine", and he's clearly speaking symbolically there, so why not when He calls the bread and wine His flesh and blood?" Well, there's a huge difference. When Jesus says, "I am the vine", there's no one in the crowd who misunderstands Him and says, "Oh, how can this man be a plant?" They get that He's talking symbolically. And if Jesus was talking symbolically, and the people misunderstood Him, then why does He not correct them? In John 4:32, Jesus says: “I have food to eat that you know nothing about,” which the disciples misunderstand to mean that He has literal food with Him, but He corrects them: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." So if He corrects them there, then why would He not correct a misunderstanding about His body and blood? Clearly, there's no misunderstanding.

With that in mind, there's really only two possibilities. Either, Jesus was talking symbolically. The Jews all took it literally, were horrified because what He said sounded so shocking, and refused to believe Him. Rather than correct an honest misunderstanding, Jesus instead allowed them to leave Him, even thought that meant they'd miss out on the message of Eternal Life, and go back to their families and friends and spread this misunderstanding to them. That all seems rather unlikely.

The other option: Jesus was talking literally. The Jews took it exactly as they were supposed to, did not want to accept His teaching, and left Him. Jesus then tells the Twelve that if they don't want to accept what He's taught them, they can leave too. (Clearly, it's really important to Him that everyone believes Him about this)

That's why we believe that it's Christ's literal body and blood. Because He told us so.

Wow, that was fun to write! Anyway, hope that helps, Vince.

xxx

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Ummm...how this person conducts her life as a catholic is, I'm sure, not what all catholics do but it did raise a question. My friend was saying that the reason she feels no guilt from taking drugs (like cocaine), having sex, smoking everything and just basically does what she wants is because every sunday she goes to mass, says five hail Mary's, and all of her sins are washed away. As if they never happened so she is free to keep doing them without guilt. She compared it to a dirty plate: they get dirty all the time but are washed every night and get dirty again the next day. While her rendition just sounds like an excuse to keep doing things without religious convictions I still have to question: what is the reason behind "Hail Mary" and what is the purpose.

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What's your favorite song in the Phantom of the Opera?

lol! "Music of the Night". Michael Crawford sings my favourite version of it:

xxx

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Ummm...how this person conducts her life as a catholic is, I'm sure, not what all catholics do but it did raise a question. My friend was saying that the reason she feels no guilt from taking drugs (like cocaine), having sex, smoking everything and just basically does what she wants is because every sunday she goes to mass, says five hail Mary's, and all of her sins are washed away. As if they never happened so she is free to keep doing them without guilt. She compared it to a dirty plate: they get dirty all the time but are washed every night and get dirty again the next day. While her rendition just sounds like an excuse to keep doing things without religious convictions I still have to question: what is the reason behind "Hail Mary" and what is the purpose.

Wow. No offence, but this girl seems very confused. I think I'd agree with you: she sounds like she's trying to excuse away her behaviour by saying, "It's okay if I sin, because God just forgives me anyway". Where to start with this one...

Firstly, her reasoning that, "If I just go to Mass and say some prayers, I'll be forgiven" is completely wrong. Near the beginning of Mass, we say what's known as an "Act of Contrition", which is basically a prayer asking for God's forgiveness. There's a few different ones that are used. The most famous one is the Kyrie ("Kyrie Eleison, Christe Elison, Kyrie Eleison," or, "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy"). Saying an act of contrition, either at Mass, or just at home, for example, is enough to forgive what are known as "venial" sins, or minor sins.

However, what your friend is doing (sex outside of marriage, taking drugs, for example), are definitely not venial sins. These are what's known as "mortal" sins. If you commit a mortal sin, knowing full well how serious the sin is and choose to do it anyway, then you effectively turn away from God. Mortal sins are so serious that they can only be forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation (confession). Providing that your friend knows that she's committing mortal sins and chooses to do them anyway, her soul's in serious danger. She needs to go to confession as soon as she can.

But...Saying all of that, it sounds as if your friend thinks, "Well it's okay for me to sin, because I can just be forgiven". Even if she were to go to confession every week, she's not going to be forgiven. What she's doing is committing yet another mortal sin, known as the sin of presumption. Out of love, Christ suffered and died on the cross for us, so we could be forgiven, and to abuse His love for us in such a way is seriously wrong. It'd be like stealing money from your elderly neighbour, because you know that she's such a lovely person, if you just tell her you're sorry, then she'll forgive you. Or if you cheated on your husband, because you knew he loved you and he'd take you back no matter what you did to him. God is not stupid. He knows when someone isn't really sorry for what they've done, and He won't forgive them. Your friends really needs to understand that if she truly loves God, she has to do everything she can to avoid sinning.

You asked about the "Hail Mary"...It's basically a prayer asking for Mary's intercession. You didn't ask why Catholics pray to saints, but it's kind of related to this, so I'll just tell you why anyway...We don't "pray" to the saints in the sense of asking them to answer our prayers, since only God can answer prayers. What we do ask the saints is for them to pray for us. It's kind of like, when you ask your family members or friends to pray for you. The saints are ordinary people who are now in Heaven, so we ask them to pray for us. You don't have to pray through the saints; you can pray straight to God (which is what I tend to do), but since prayer is so important to your relationship with God, it's nice to invite others to pray.

Anyway, the "Hail Mary" is a prayer asking Mary to pray for us. She's the mother of Jesus, so she's pretty close to Him. If you remember the wedding feast at Cana, when they ran out of wine, it was Mary who asked Jesus to make more for them, and He did so because He loves his mother, and if she asks Him for help, He's only too happy to do so. So we ask Mary to ask Jesus to help us, and hope that He'll do so. Mary's such an important saint that there are a lot of prayers that ask her for help. The most famous, the "Hail Mary":

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen"

The first part ("Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee") is taken from the Bible. It's what the Angel Gabriel says to Mary when he arrives to tell her God's chosen her to be the mother of Jesus. The second part ("Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus") is also straight from the Bible, when Mary visits Elizabeth, and Elizabeth greets her. The last section was added later, basically asking Mary to pray for us. It's a lovely little prayer...

xxx

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lol! "Music of the Night". Michael Crawford sings my favourite version of it:

xxx

I prefer Ramin Karimloo's! Or Karim Raminloo! Whatever his name is!

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I know a couple that does not believe in birth control. The wife, who is around 42, just delivered their premature baby. They now have 5 children and she miscarried the pregnancy before this one.

It's my understanding that you don't believe in birth control of any form, right? Ok. What will you do when it would become dangerous for you and/or your unborn child if you were to get pregnant after a certain age (Let's say 45)? Never have sex with your husband again? Wait until after menopause (which can last for years)?

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I know a couple that does not believe in birth control. The wife, who is around 42, just delivered their premature baby. They now have 5 children and she miscarried the pregnancy before this one.

It's my understanding that you don't believe in birth control of any form, right? Ok. What will you do when it would become dangerous for you and/or your unborn child if you were to get pregnant after a certain age (Let's say 45)? Never have sex with your husband again? Wait until after menopause (which can last for years)?


Well, there is one form of birth control that the Church has no problems with a couple using. It's called Natural Family Planning, and basically works by keeping track of a woman's fertility cycle so that if the couple have a serious reason why they can't have children at that time, they simply abstain from sex during the period of the month when the wife is fertile. This method, when used correctly, has been shown to be more effective at avoiding pregnancy than condoms or the contraceptive pill.

NFP isn't considered a type of contraception because the couple aren't doing anything to deliberately sterilise the sexual act. God designed women to only be fertile a few days every month, and it's fine for a couple to make use of this fact if they have a good reason to not have a baby at that time. It could be because of health reasons, or financial reasons, or even just to space out their family. Basically, as long as they're not using it for selfish reasons, or because they believe babies are "burdens" and they just want to have sex without the "consequences" of a family, or whatever.

And aside from the religious reason, there's a heck of a lot of great reasons to use NFP. Here's a link to one website I like...

http://www.1flesh.org/

This is kind of long, but if you've got the time, it's a really great talk about contraception, NFP and other related issues:

[EDIT: They've removed the video. This one is almost exactly the same, just an updated version. I say this because, if I just replaced the video, you'd think I was a time traveller, or something, posting in 2012 a video from 2014...]

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0s-4voe4gY

Hope that's helpful! Feel free to ask me if you've got any other questions...

xxx

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Well, there is one form of birth control that the Church has no problems with a couple using. It's called Natural Family Planning, and basically works by keeping track of a woman's fertility cycle so that if the couple have a serious reason why they can't have children at that time, they simply abstain from sex during the period of the month when the wife is fertile. This method, when used correctly, has been shown to be more effective at avoiding pregnancy than condoms or the contraceptive pill.

NFP isn't considered a type of contraception because the couple aren't doing anything to deliberately sterilise the sexual act. God designed women to only be fertile a few days every month, and it's fine for a couple to make use of this fact if they have a good reason to not have a baby at that time. It could be because of health reasons, or financial reasons, or even just to space out their family. Basically, as long as they're not using it for selfish reasons, or because they believe babies are "burdens" and they just want to have sex without the "consequences" of a family, or whatever.

And aside from the religious reason, there's a heck of a lot of great reasons to use NFP. Here's a link to one website I like...

http://www.1flesh.org/

This is kind of long, but if you've got the time, it's a really great talk about contraception, NFP and other related issues:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXhlcJ5kanc

Hope that's helpful! Feel free to ask me if you've got any other questions...

xxx

Just gonna put it out there, lots of women can't use NFP because they have problem menstrual cycles...

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Just gonna put it out there, lots of women can't use NFP because they have problem menstrual cycles...

You're perhaps thinking of the "rhythm method", which is a type of NFP, but isn't considered very reliable, or at least in most cases. It's a calendar-based method, and basically tries to work out what days of the month a woman is fertile by counting the days from the last time she menstruated, and estimating when ovulation will be. But it really only works if you have a menstrual cycle that's regular, about 28 days long, and is roughly the same every month.

Nowadays, there's other, highly accurate, ways to determine when a women is fertile. These methods of NFP track things like body temperature and cervical mucus, and work for any type of cycle. They're also useful because they can help you detect changes with your cycle that could indicate a health problem. And you can also use them the other way, if you're trying to have a baby, by working out the days you're most likely to get pregnant.

xxx

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To me, if you're using methods of tracking your body temperature and cervical mucus to see if you are fertile or not, you are 'sterilising' the act just as much, but I won't get drawn into that debate... (For the record I have no problem with contraception)

My question is this: Is the papacy infallible? If so/if not, why have various different views been taught over the years? I can provide information if required, but various Popes have decreed that the Papacy are/are not infallible.

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To me, if you're using methods of tracking your body temperature and cervical mucus to see if you are fertile or not, you are 'sterilising' the act just as much, but I won't get drawn into that debate... (For the record I have no problem with contraception)

Well, it's all about intention, I guess. Are you deliberately sterilising the act yourself, or are you waiting and using the infertile period God's given you. It might seem like there's no difference, but think about it another way: What's the difference between killing someone who's sick, and waiting for them to die naturally? Or the difference between an abortion and a miscarriage? Those are pretty dramatic examples, but you get what I mean. The ends mind be the same, but the intentions are very different.

I've heard it put another way, which I thought was a good description. If you have sex at the fertile time of the month, you're basically sending out an invitation to the Holy Spirit to create a new human person. Think of it like sending Him an invitation to a party you're throwing. He might not turn up if the circumstances aren't right, but you're giving Him that option. When you have sex during the non-fertile times, you don't send Him that invitation. And as long as you've got a good reason not to invite Him, that's okay, He won't mind. It's kind of like, "We'd love You to come to our party, we really would, but it's just not possible at the moment". But if you use contraception, it's not just that you're not inviting Him: you're deliberately saying that you don't want him there. In a lot of cases, you actually put a physical barrier in place to stop Him. It's like sending him a dis-invitation "Go away, we don't want You here, and we're taking measures to make sure You don't turn up".

I...think that's a good analogy...I like it, anyway...Okay, your question:

My question is this: Is the papacy infallible? If so/if not, why have various different views been taught over the years? I can provide information if required, but various Popes have decreed that the Papacy are/are not infallible.

Yeah, that's a very good question. This is another one of the things that's often misunderstood by non-Catholics (and, indeed, Catholics who aren't as clued up about their faith). Papal infallibility does not mean that the Pope can't sin: he's an ordinary human being who can sin like anyone else. What it means is that when it comes to official teachings about faith or morality, the Pope cannot err. This doesn't mean that a pope can't personally hold an incorrect view, only that he can't officially teach that misunderstanding. He also doesn't have a "special grace", or whatever, that tells him what truths need to be taught: he has to use theological study just like everyone else.

The reason we believe that the Pope will be prevented from giving an incorrect official teaching on the faith is because he's in a position of extreme responsibility. If he taught something that was wrong, literally billions of people would be affected by it. It's the same as when the Bible was being written: we know that there's no incorrect teaching in the Bible, because the people who wrote it were being guided by the Holy Spirit, and therefore couldn't make a mistake which would have given billions of people an incorrect teaching about the faith. We believe the Holy Spirit does the same for the Pope, and prevents him giving incorrect teaching. But as I said, this doesn't mean that popes will not sin or be bad role models. They're still human.

There's some evidence in the Bible about papal infallibility, too. You've got Matthew 16 too, when Jesus is telling Peter that He's building His Church on him:

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

In Luke 22:32, Jesus tells Peter: "I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." And there's John 16, when Jesus tells His disciples:

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

What popes are you referring to? I've never heard of any pope decreeing that the Papacy isn't infallible. It could be that there was a pope who personally disagreed or was unsure about papal infallibility, but it's never been officially decreed. But if you could give me the information you mentioned, I'll check for you.

Hope that's helped so far, Stiggy...

xxx

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Hey Jegs,

I did some digging and it turns out that most of the acts I've found that condemn popes weren't strictly "decreed" teachings and could be argued as being personal opinions held by the popes - happy to admit when I'm wrong!

Next question: how does the catholic church defend the Inquisition and other atrocities committed by the Vatican over the centuries?

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Hey Jegs,

I did some digging and it turns out that most of the acts I've found that condemn popes weren't strictly "decreed" teachings and could be argued as being personal opinions held by the popes - happy to admit when I'm wrong!

Yeah, that sounds about right. I'm glad I cleared that up for you.

Next question: how does the catholic church defend the Inquisition and other atrocities committed by the Vatican over the centuries?

First, a bit about the Inquisition. There was actually more than one Inquisition, the first one being back in medieval times. Back then, of course, religion wasn't just something you did on a Sunday: it was your whole life, and influenced law, science, politics and more. Almost everyone at that time in Europe was a Christian (in fact, technically, everyone was Catholic, because that was the only type of Christianity back then). Heresy was seen as a threat to society, and because kingship was considered God-given, heresy was considered by leaders as a threat to the King's authority, and was considered by every state to be as serious a crime as treason. If you were accused of heresy, then you'd be arrested and taken to the local court for questioning. But the authorities who questioned them were usually uneducated, and knew absolutely nothing about theology. They'd have no idea whether the person accused was committing heresy, and usually they'd just kill them to be on the safe side.

So in 1184, the medieval Inquisition was started by Pope Lucius III, who decided the Church had to put herself between the accused and the state, so that they could be questioned by trained theologians and bishops who actually knew what heresy was. That way, they could be questioned as to whether they actually rejected the Church's teaching, or if they simply hadn't learned their faith correctly and could therefore be corrected. In the vast majority of cases, people were not found to not be guilty of heresy, and just didn't understand. The Church could then tell the state that the person was not a heretic, and should not be tried as such. The purpose of the Inquisition was to save lives (and souls). It was actually the authorities, not the Church, who wanted to kill heretics.

As time went on , in the late Middle Ages, secular authorities began taking over the Inquisitions, just as they took over other areas of ecclesiastical control. The Spanish Inquisition (made famous by Monty Python) was formed in 1478 to investigate charges of heresy in Spain, and was controlled by the monarchy. In the first few years of the Inquisition, there was a lot of abuse in the system, with people being publicly burned for heresy because of what were obviously false testimonies. In 1482, Pope Sixtus IV wrote to the bishops of Spain, telling them that they had to take a more direct role in tribunals and make sure Church laws were respected, as the Inquisition was happening "not by zeal for the faith and the salvation of souls but by lust for wealth". The King of Spain was outraged, suggested that the Pope had been bribed, and told him to leave the Inquisition to them. The Pope had nothing more to do with the Insquisition in Spain, and the monarchy took complete control.

The Spanish Inquisition is often claimed to be one of the Catholic Church's greatest sins...but as an institution, the Catholic Church had almost nothing to do with it. This is a really good essay by Thomas Madden: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/the-truth-about-the-spanish-inquisition

(I actually loved answering this question, because I got to research and learn lots of stuff...)

xxx

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Hello again,

I wanted some more clarification on the birth control. For young girls who have really bad problems with their menstrual cycle (don't want to go into too much detail but could become anemic easily) and need birth control for hormonal therapy how is that seen? Is birth control for hormonal therapy okay as long as she is still abstinent? What would happen when she is married?

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Hello again,

I wanted some more clarification on the birth control. For young girls who have really bad problems with their menstrual cycle (don't want to go into too much detail but could become anemic easily) and need birth control for hormonal therapy how is that seen? Is birth control for hormonal therapy okay as long as she is still abstinent? What would happen when she is married?

Well, in and of itself, taking hormonal birth control to treat a medical condition is fine, because the intention is to treat the medical problem, with the unintended side-effect of infertility. It's the same as if a woman had a hysterectomy because she had cancer: she'd become sterile as a result, but the purpose of the surgery was to safe her life, and sterility was just an unfortunate side-effect.

However, there's another issue with hormonal birth control like the Pill, because there's some evidence that it can cause an abortion. The Pill works in three ways to prevent pregnancy. Firstly, it releases chemicals which trick the woman's body into thinking she's pregnant, so that she stops ovulating. Secondly, it thickens cervical mucus so that it's more difficult for sperm to survive or travel. And thirdly, it thins the lining of the womb, so that if "breakthrough" ovulation occurs and the woman becomes pregnant, the newly conceived embryo may not be able to implant there, and will die as a result. It's this third reason that means it's problematic for women to take the Pill for medical reasons if she's sexually active. Luckily, there's usually other ways to treat medical problems without using the Pill. One thing I know of is something called NaPro Technology:

http://naprotechnology.com/index.html

But as I said, it's the abortifacient effect of some kinds of birth control that's the problem with using it for medical reasons, not that it causes infertility.

xxx

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Okay, now I have a question for all you guys (which I think is fair, since I've answered all your questions :P )...

Why is it that some non-Catholics don't consider Catholics to be Christians? I've never understood that. I mean, I consider anyone who's been baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to be a Christian, whether they're Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical, Baptist, Presbyterian, Eastern Orthodox, Methodist, Lutheran, Amish - whatever.

Anyway, I wondered if any of you guys understood why this was, because when I've seen videos or websites claiming that I'm not a Catholic, they always give some "reason" which is based on a lie, like "Catholics worship Mary" or "Catholics believe the Pope can't sin", or something similar. Do any of you know people who think this way, and if so, do you know why they think this way? Or maybe some of you yourselves don't think I'm a Christian; in which case, fire away with your questions!

Yeah, this is just something that's really bugging me lately, so I thought I'd ask!

xxx

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In my book, as a general rule, Catholics are as Christian as Protestants, Jegsy! :D As a Protestant, I do not agree with all of the Catholic beliefs, but I respect Catholics as fellow Christians, albeit Christians who do things quite different than I do. I actually attended a Catholic university, and made very good friends with some of the monks!

The main requirement for Christianity revolves around one's relationship with Christ.

By my definition, Christians are those who believe in God and believe that Jesus, the son of God, died for our sins and rose again, and believing this, confess their sins, seek salvation through grace, and invite God into their hearts and lives. Anyone who has sincerely done this, whether Catholic or Protestant, I view as a Christian.

That being said, I believe there are plenty of so-called Christians, both Protestants and Catholics, who are not truly followers of Christ. They might talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk.

I definitely think of you as a Christian, Jegsy! :)

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@JegsyScar-I've never personally known someone who didn't think Catholics are Christians. But, I would guess the reason is that they feel Catholic belies stray too far from what they consider to be true Christianity. Some objections they probably have would include prayers to saints and other dead people. Also, even though Catholics say they don't worship Mary, many Catholics perform actions that other Chrisitians interpret as being worship (bowing to her statue, for instance.) Catholocism is also very ritualistic and many Christians would see that as being harmful to having a true relationship with Jesus. Also, the fact that Catholics follow Catholic tradition in addition to the Bible is viewed as wrong. These are the reasons I could think of, but of course I wouldn't want to put words in anyone's mouth.

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Well, it's all about intention, I guess. Are you deliberately sterilising the act yourself, or are you waiting and using the infertile period God's given you. It might seem like there's no difference, but think about it another way: What's the difference between killing someone who's sick, and waiting for them to die naturally? Or the difference between an abortion and a miscarriage? Those are pretty dramatic examples, but you get what I mean. The ends mind be the same, but the intentions are very different.

I've heard it put another way, which I thought was a good description. If you have sex at the fertile time of the month, you're basically sending out an invitation to the Holy Spirit to create a new human person. Think of it like sending Him an invitation to a party you're throwing. He might not turn up if the circumstances aren't right, but you're giving Him that option. When you have sex during the non-fertile times, you don't send Him that invitation. And as long as you've got a good reason not to invite Him, that's okay, He won't mind. It's kind of like, "We'd love You to come to our party, we really would, but it's just not possible at the moment". But if you use contraception, it's not just that you're not inviting Him: you're deliberately saying that you don't want him there. In a lot of cases, you actually put a physical barrier in place to stop Him. It's like sending him a dis-invitation "Go away, we don't want You here, and we're taking measures to make sure You don't turn up".

I...think that's a good analogy...I like it, anyway...Okay, your question:

Yeah, that's a very good question. This is another one of the things that's often misunderstood by non-Catholics (and, indeed, Catholics who aren't as clued up about their faith). Papal infallibility does not mean that the Pope can't sin: he's an ordinary human being who can sin like anyone else. What it means is that when it comes to official teachings about faith or morality, the Pope cannot err. This doesn't mean that a pope can't personally hold an incorrect view, only that he can't officially teach that misunderstanding. He also doesn't have a "special grace", or whatever, that tells him what truths need to be taught: he has to use theological study just like everyone else.

The reason we believe that the Pope will be prevented from giving an incorrect official teaching on the faith is because he's in a position of extreme responsibility. If he taught something that was wrong, literally billions of people would be affected by it. It's the same as when the Bible was being written: we know that there's no incorrect teaching in the Bible, because the people who wrote it were being guided by the Holy Spirit, and therefore couldn't make a mistake which would have given billions of people an incorrect teaching about the faith. We believe the Holy Spirit does the same for the Pope, and prevents him giving incorrect teaching. But as I said, this doesn't mean that popes will not sin or be bad role models. They're still human.

There's some evidence in the Bible about papal infallibility, too. You've got Matthew 16 too, when Jesus is telling Peter that He's building His Church on him:

In Luke 22:32, Jesus tells Peter: "I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." And there's John 16, when Jesus tells His disciples:

What popes are you referring to? I've never heard of any pope decreeing that the Papacy isn't infallible. It could be that there was a pope who personally disagreed or was unsure about papal infallibility, but it's never been officially decreed. But if you could give me the information you mentioned, I'll check for you.

Hope that's helped so far, Stiggy...

xxx

We just talked about NFP and sex within marriage in Bible Study tonight and I feel so confused.

There's nothing in the Bible about it. Leviticus Chapter 18 gives instructions about who NOT to sleep with, so okay, husband and wife....Proverbs 23:27 advises men to avoid prostitutes and immoral women...okay...1 Corinthians 6:16-20 explains sexs significance and importance in using it in the right way. (Not with anyone but your wife/husband, once married, not before) 1 Corinthians 7:2-9, 36-39 are clear about that too.

I understand the arguments against abortions and working through marriage issues and not divorcing, saving sex until marriage, why porn is wrong, and why threesomes are wrong, but I can't completely understand why NFP is the only way to not have kids. This is really making me think. Personally, I'm not sure if I want to have kids or not. I'm 22. How can I know what I will or will not want when I'm 30? 35? 40? I can't and don't know now. God creating sex to be free, total, faithful and fruitful is NOT fruitful when planning with NFP. You are planning around your hormonal cycles. How is using a condom different? Instead of planning around hormones, you are using latex. What does the church mean by "responsible parenthood" in Humanae Vitae? Does that mean we can plan to NOT have kids when we are not financially ready? Or emotionally ready? I understand having the husband respect his wife like he did while dating (not pressuring for sex/not getting it just whenever he wants like we're something to be used but when both want it) but you automatically have 3-7 days per month when you're on your period and will NOT want to have sex. I don't know any woman who feels particularly attractive/sexy when she's bloated/crampy/bleeding. I know marriage is a sacrament and you signify God's love through becoming "one flesh". I do not understand according to Theology of the Body, how a union could be sterile and unfaithful to their vows when using some form of contraception. ( West, 104, 105)

West also talks about the divorce rates going up...could that be due to pre marital sex and lack of a sexual relationship in marriage? Is the couple not pushing each other in their faith? Is it necessarily because they used contraception in their sex life? When do you commit to being open to children at the altar? Is that only in the Catholic church? (West, 106)Because I remember hearing many vows but not vowing that you are open to children.

Sorry for the rant, I'm just confused and had too much crammed in my head in 45 minutes :P

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