Q&A Sep/Oct

 I have received a very interesting question. Below I have printed it as it came to me. At first I wanted to answer, but, on second thoughts, I have decided to do an indepth study of this question. I do not believe that the Catholic hierarchy in South Africa has ever produced a true doctrinal and moral study, based on true Catholic principles in reply to the weighty questions of Apartheid and all its implications. Hopefully, then, in the near future my reply to these questions will be addressed. A little time I will need to answer correctly and concretely. In the meantime, here is the question:

Q. My question flows from an answer regarding the war in Iraq and, though not directly related, relates to a people’s response to an unjust government. I admit that the question may be contentious, but it is a genuine one.

Was support for the old National Party-apartheid government (in the sense of voting for it, fighting in its army, etc) ever justified, given the great evils it perpetrated and the opposition of the Catholic Church to it? I believe there was once considered whether Catholics who voted “NP” might even be excommunicated, as one who voted communist might be. I also am told that the state placed heavy restrictions on the entry of Roman Catholic priests to the country. Perhaps a built-in suspicion of the NP, as an English-speaking South African, and inherited hatred of the old regime as much as the new, motivates this question, but as the Catholic Church was “anti-apartheid” perhaps the question has moral implications.

Similar to the above, it has plagued me concerning the moral issues at stake in the 1992 whites-only referendum, which asked whether the negotiation process already begun should be continued or not. At the time, it seemed only “servants of the devil” could vote “No” (as our then High School deputy principal expressly informed us, as did priests) and those who did were irredeemably wicked, but was the question so straightforward?

Patience…I will answer soon.

In the meantime, we have received a few odds and ends questions:

When paying a visit in Holland I was appaled to see that in their bigger churches one pays for a seat. Is this right?

This is not something new. Such practices have been known in these areas for many years. At first it may look shocking, but, in reality, there is nothing wrong with it. Paying for one’s pew is simply another means which the church employs of making a “collection”. In all these churches there are of course always pews for the poor which are free of charge. We are in the post Vatican II era in which inequality has become the greatest curse to mankind. Yet, inequality was not only always taught by the Church, but, indeed, is a very law of nature. There is nothing wrong for the rich to donate to the Church and ask a favour in return – that of “booking” a seat. The poor are not being “exploited” by it, for they will always have a place in the Church.

Q. Oathes – Do they still do so these days.

A very wide question! I can only say that in some countries and places yes, in others no. An oath is made before God. It is calling God to witness to the truth you are about to say. In itself, if it is made in truth, judgement and justice, it is a good and religious act. Oathes should never be made lightly, or on light matters.

Is it sacriledges to talk bad about a priest?

Strictly speaking, yes it is. A sacriledge is an evil commited against a sacred object (such as a chalice), or in a sacred place (to commit a murder in a church), or against a sacred person. A priest, by his sacerdotal caracter, participates in the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus to destroy the reputation of a priest will not only be a sin of detraction or calumny, but also a sin of sacriledge.

May I buy a blessed object? If I do, does the object retain its blessing?

It is the object you buy and not the blessing. Money cannot buy a blessing. If you try to buy the blessing, you commit the sin of simony. You may, however, buy an object that has been blessed because you are paying for the materiality of the object. If such a transfere is done privately between two persons, the object does not loose its blessing but will loose any indulgence attached to it. But if the object was placed on public sale, it looses its blessing. (Canon law: 1539) If, for example, I sell you a crucifix, I seek only to be recompensed for the material outlay of the crucifix as an object or for the loss I suffer. This I may do. But, if now I possess a crucifix blessed by Padre Pio and I price it extreemly high because of his blessing, then I commit the sin of simony and restitution will have to be made by me before I can be absolved from this sin. It is normally a mortal sin.