Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the Dec. 4, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. I’m proud to say my parish has increased our contributions a lot when we were assigned a new priest. He talked about tithing and stewardship as ground rules for all members. He has succeeded. My parish is doing great. There are a few com-plainers who won’t try it, but I think most people feel good about it. Why don’t all priests do that?
A. Any priest with six months experience knows that the most sensitive part of the human anatomy is not the heart, liver or lungs. It’s that little six-inch patch of skin on the hip surrounding the wallet. Don’t touch that.
The average Protestant, if there is such a person, out-gives the average Catholic, if there is such a person, by more that two to one.
Moslems, the Arabs we fought in the crusades, are more generous than Catholics by three to one.
The Q. B. scrivener has seen steady improvement over the years. There was a time when stewardship and tithing were bad words for Catholics, but not any more.
In Jesus’ parable, the master said to his hired hand, “Give me an accounting of your stewardship,” because he was about to fire him. And a happy ending: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Q. Would you agree that agnostics and even atheists are somehow included in God’s plan of eternal salvation? Or what about those millions who lived good lives before Jesus was born? Does our Creed say anything about all those people without religious faith?
A. The Catholic church does not claim exclusive rights to the grace of God. “The wind blows wherever it pleases” (John 3:8). Speculation about the eternal destiny of anyone is just that – speculation.
Catholic theology makes no pronouncement about the soul status of anyone, whether they be a 12th century Hindu or a 21st century contemporary Moslem. There’s one exception. The canonization process gathers enough evidence to declare the person is a saint.
Objectively speaking, every authentic religion brings some sense of the sacred, some personal response to God-given grace, some requirement of moral conduct and ritual observance.
Those basic principles were clearly defined in Vatican II. Check out the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian, the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World passed in 1965. There’s more, but that’s enough to set you on the right path.
Q. This question has bothered us. We have been told and we agree that Vatican II brought major changes in our Catholic beliefs. Our question: Why did all those changes take so long in coming, since Vatican I was finished about 400 years before that? Some of us are asking what took so long to “implement,” as they say?
A. Let’s correct the dates before we get side-swiped by disinformation. Vatican Council II was most recent – 1961-1965. Vatican Council I was from 1869-1870. The council you tagged 400 years ago was the famed Council of Trent, from 1545-1563. Trent was a theology shake-up like no other, a council that had prophets of doom after every meeting.
The Reformation broke open in 1520. It took eight years, on the third attempt, in 1545, to assemble enough bishops, 25, in Trent for a quorum. For 19 years bishops came and went, died and were replaced, and through it all issued 25 position papers. One of those decrees was on the education of priests so this would not happen again.
Vatican II had more than 2,500 bishops filling St. Peter Basilica in Rome, surely the most ecumenical council in history. If those prophets of doom at Trent could have seen that….
“And know that I am with you always, yes, until the end of time”(Matthew 28:20).
(Father Mikulski welcomes your comments and questions. Write to him at 7718 Westwood Dr., Oscoda, Mich. 48750.)