Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Best of The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the November 19, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. What is the church’s moral stand on harvesting organs from bodies recently deceased? There’s a place to sign for that on my driver license.

A. Donating organs or an entire body to prolong the life of another person, perhaps a stranger, is highly praiseworthy. Some form of an Anatomical Gift Act is available in 50 states.

In 1956, Pope Pius XII addressed this issue:

“The public must be educated. It must be explained with intelligence and respect that to consent explicitly or tacitly that serious damage to the integrity of the corpse in the interest of those who are suffering is no violation of the reverence due to the dead.”

In plain words, offering organ transplants is commendable.

Q. I have been corrected when I say I’m Catholic by a friend who insists I should say Roman Catholic. Can you give me a short response that would satisfy her Episcopal mind set once and for all? Where does she get that definition?

A. Both of you might review an historical perspective. The first person to describe the infant church “Catholic” was St. Ignatius (d. 108 A.D.), the third resident bishop of Antioch, Syria. St. Peter was the first, but he had moved to Rome. Ignatius, summoned to Rome to face wild beasts in the arena, wrote letters to major cities in his diocese. He used the word katholikos, meaning universal, to describe his church.

The name is distinctive enough to last 20 centuries. The Apostles Creed, a second-century summary of basic doctrines recited by converts at their baptisms, says, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church ...” It’s a common practice among many mainline Protestant churches.

During the 16th century Reformation it was inevitable that changes would be made. Some reformers insisted on their connection with the original Catholic church even though they were branching out on their own. It was important to remain Catholic so they simply added the adjectives English Catholic and Roman Catholic.

There’s some significance to this. The pope, successor of St. Peter, spiritual head of the church, is best identified as Bishop of Rome.

Q. I have observed in church bulletins music programs to be held in churches and even a cathedral. Both have ticket charges, $12 and $25. Jesus threw money changers out of the temple. Why are we doing this? Should such concerts be held in places of worship?

A. It’s an easy distinction between a church used primarily as a place of worship and a music hall used primarily as a place of entertainment. There may be exceptions when seating capacity is limited and either or both of the buildings can be used for cross-over purposes.

We have attended ordinations of Catholic bishops in Civic Centers and musical concerts in cathedrals with no loss of dignity in either case. We have invited Protestants to celebrate their liturgies in our churches when space was their problem and we have accepted Protestant offers to use their sanctuaries when we needed more room.

Fellowship is the word that best describes these exchanges. We need to reflect on the alternative. Why not?

Jesus Christ was furious when he saw money changers doing brisk business inside the temple. Pilgrims had to exchange their Roman coins for Hebrew money and the changers were taking their percentage off the top.

There are two events in the Gospels I wish I had seen: the instant Resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning (nobody saw him come out of the tomb) and Jesus losing his temper in the temple, upsetting money tables, coins rolling on the floor, tossing money bags around and chasing the hustlers out with a whip. Oh, for a video recording....

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