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 Best of The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the September 19, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Frankly, I was shocked when I heard that we have a large number of semi-Catholic (?) anti-popes in our past because of some dumb mix-ups. How did that happen? How many and when? If it happened once, it can happen again. Right?
A. Yes, it’s true. It’s a reality check on the promise Jesus made to the first pope. “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it” (Matthew 16:18). Twenty centuries later this church has survived double popes, heresies, schisms, scandals, and persecutions, and is still the greatest moral force in the world for doing good. If this had been a merely human endeavor it would not survived the first century.
Be aware of something we might call “historical overlap,” transposing our present social conditions into the early centuries and then asking, “How could they do that?” Their world was not our world.
Days of the week and calendar dates were different in different parts of the same country. Papal confusion is credible if we recall the primitive state of correspondence. Written messages, if they arrived at all, might take months before being delivered on foot by humans or animals.
The great Council of Trent (1545) opened its first session after two failed attempts to get a legal quorum. It rumbled along for 16 years with many bishops coming and going, dying and being replaced. We have had 34 anti-popes, many of them in the 10th to the 12th centuries. Some of them retracted and reconciled after a brief review. We haven’t had one in over 500 years and we won’t see one again.
Imagine what they could have done if they’d had live TV coverage or iPods…?
Q. Did Adam and Eve have any female children? How is the origin of the human race possible with only their sons Cain and Abel?
A. Genesis is not genealogy. Even a cursory reading reveals Genesis is a jigsaw puzzle, having bits and pieces from different sources that cannot be proven. Please note that Genesis does not claim to be a scientific account of the origin of the human species.
The message of Genesis is not about science. It’s about God’s supreme creative power, the human inclination to sin, the need for an outside redeemer, and the mind of God who dominates all of the above. Don’t overlook another son, Seth, and be open to the possibility that there were people with feminine names Genesis doesn’t mention. Both writers – yes, there are two versions of creation – had the attitude they shouldn’t have to explain that. So they didn’t.
Q. My mind is made up. Ever since we began to stand for Communion, instead of reverently kneeling, things have been going downhill. Now my neighbor who is far from perfect is up there giving out Communion. Enough is enough. I quit.
A. If your mind is made up, that settles it. But there’s a little slippage in your syllogism or you wouldn’t be writing to the Q.B.
As tactfully as a pile driver, may I state that your proposed action is a bit childish. Most kids threaten to run away from home if things are not to their liking, but they’re usually back when it gets dark.
A few years ago a man waked out of my office with his final comment. “From now on, the pope is on his own.”
May your good pastor keep a light in the window. May he get a lantern and go out looking for you. He will greatly appreciate your strategy if you stay within his sight.
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