Monday, November 21, 2011

Lies, Sex and Hypocrisy in Pentecostal Churches

Lies, Sex and Hypocrisy in Pentecostal Churches

By Eunice Rukundo
Sunday Monitor

A story currently doing the rounds in the intelligence circles goes like this: that around 1988, with the National Resistance Movement government trying to lay down its political roots after shooting its way to power two years earlier, senior regime officials were approached by a young religious preacher.

The preacher had a proposal; in exchange for financial and other support, he would strengthen the Pentecostal movement in the country and use it to break or reduce the influence of the Catholic Church over the largely Anglican new government.

The idea, the story says, was quickly snapped up. The preacher received facilitation and went on to form one of the churches that was at the heart of the growth of the Pentecostal movement in the country. The pastor, like many others, remains close to the government and the Pentecostal movement remains firmly pro-government.


This story cannot be independently corroborated but the anecdotal evidence – of the pastor's close links to the regime, and the political stance of the Pentecostal churches – is self-evident. While religious leaders from the traditional Catholic and Anglican churches often criticise the government when it errors, most Pentecostal churches are stridently apolitical, preferring to preach a gospel of economic prosperity rather than dabble in politics.

The Pentecostal Movement now finds itself in a public scandal that appears to go to the very core of its foundations. Pastor Robert Kayanja, arguably the richest, most-influential and most visible patriarch of the Pentecostal Movement stands accused of sodomy. His accusers include a handful of young men who have sworn affidavits to support their accusations and are backed by other senior Pentecostal pastors including Pastors Solomon Male, Martin Ssempa and Michael Kyazze.

The allegations and counter-allegations have played out like a third rate Mexican soap opera; some of the alleged victims have changed their statements faster than one can say 'Hallelujah' and publicly accused their backers of offering them money to frame their alleged defiler. Pastor Kayanja's side has not acted entirely honestly in the matter either; police sources indicate that claims of one of their own being abducted appear to be false and an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

The police, too, are not beyond reproach. Senior officials have been frantically fighting off allegations that they bent over backwards – an admittedly poor pun in light of the current allegations – to dismiss the allegations against Pastor Kayanja. The corridors of the police headquarters at Parliamentary Avenue are awash with claims – vigorously denied – that money might have changed hands.

It is not clear what will come of the current allegations. A senior police officer told Sunday Monitor that investigations had been concluded and that it is now up to the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine whether Pastor Kayanja should defend himself in court or whether the accusers and their backers should be charged with giving false information to the police.

Whichever way it goes, the current scandal is only the latest in the Pentecostal Movement. Two other pastors, Grace Kitaka and Isaac Kiweweesi denied public allegations of sodomy while Pastor Jackson Senyonga, 41, of Christian Life Centre was questioned by the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigations over allegations, which he denied, that he had fondled a 13-year-old girl aboard a United Airlines flight on August 16th in 2008.

It is not just sex scandals, though. The Pentecostal churches have been awash with scandals involving lies, extortion, smuggling and all sorts of nefarious allegations. Pastor Kayanja has been here before, when it was discovered that his incomplete house on the shores of Lake Victoria was being used to smuggle alcohol into the country but he pointed out – and authorities accepted – that it was a scam run by the private security guards at the house of which he had nothing to do.

Other scandals have revolved around a core belief in the Pentecostal churches and one of their main attractions; the ability of pastors to perform miracles. In May 2008, Grace Kushemereire accused Pastor Imelda Namutebi of paying her to testify that her prayers had cured her of HIV, the virus that causes Aids and for which scientists say there is no cure.

The deal, Ms Kushemereire said, had been struck back in 1999 for which she was receiving a monthly stipend of Shs350,000 and protection for her false testimony. When the payments stopped and Ms Kushemereire threatened to spill the beans in 2005, goons turned up and beat up her daughter to try and gag her.

The most bizarre miracle scandal, however, involved a foreign pastor, technology and some shocking revelations. Pastor Kojo Obiri Yeboah, a Ghanaian 'expatriate' pastor based in Uganda was arrested at Entebbe International Airport on July 5, 2007, with a device that administered electric shocks which authorities said was probably used to hoodwink members of the congregation that they had been filled by the Holy Spirit. The deadly device, the pastor said, was a birthday present to his children.

Other churches, of course, are not without scandals but the Pentecostal churches appear to be the worst run. Apostle Alex Mitala, who heads the National Fellowship for Born Again Pentecostals in Uganda, an umbrella body of sorts, puts this down to differences in the way such scandals are handled.

"The only difference is that we on our part operate openly, allowing each person to report wherever they think they can get help, whether it is police and not the churches' board charged with resolving such issues," Mr Mitala told Sunday Monitor. He added that even when a case is handled by the board and the accused is found guilty, the offended is allowed the liberty to forgive or pursue the case with the courts of law.

"When it is a criminal case/allegation, the police have the right to get involved and since as Pentecostals we don't have anything to hide, we let them."

Father Nicholas Sendagala of the Catholic Christ the King Church says Christianity requires that such controversial issues are handled internally in order to aid the reformation of the accused rather than let it degenerate into a public spat.

It is a view shared by Reverend Emmanuel Mwesigye of the All Saints Cathedral who says that if he was suspected of wrongdoing, the hierarchy in the Anglican institution would require that his cases be solved by higher authorities within the Church and not be made public as if they were gloating over his errors. It is this lack of hierarchy in the Pentecostal churches, he says, that explains why most of the dirty linen is washed in public.

"Without hierarchy, accountability becomes shaky and I have heard even the Pentecostal pastors like [Deo] Sserwada admit that one of their biggest weaknesses is the lack of a hierarchy," says Mwesigye.

The lack of hierarchy and the absence of any formal education or requirement mean that anyone with some knowledge of the bible, a booming voice, a good translator and the ability to move large crowds with words can start a church any day. While the traditional churches have oversight institutions and are governed by the Trustees Incorporation Act, many of the Pentecostal churches are a power unto themselves and only answerable to God and their pastors.

Amidst this shaky framework, the prosperity gospel, which celebrates the acquisition – and, if the behaviour of several pastor's is anything to go by, the flaunting – of wealth, sparks off stiff competition for congregations and the offertory that they carry with them.

Almost all accused pastors dismiss the allegations as smear campaigns by their rivals and this, Rev. Mwesigye says, might be a symptom of a clash for cash. "You will notice that the more prominent the pastor involved at the time, the louder the scandals," he says.

The youthful 'victims', Nicholas Sengoba, a social critic and newspaper columnist argues, are attracted to the Pentecostal churches by this glamour and celebration of wealth and prosperity.

"For the pervert sex, it could be because this whole thing is a struggle for power right from individual basis," he says. "Reputable persons will need a manipulatable (sic) victim who can keep their misdeeds under wraps which could be why the younger congregation is falling victim more than say adults of the pastor's age groups."

The incessant scandals have sown some doubt among believers with some either changing churches or moving to smaller, less flashy ones although the evidence here is more anecdotal than scientific.

In many cases, though, the Pentecostal church and many of the accused pastors have remained resilient and, in a few cases, even using the allegations against them as evidence of the devil trying to derail their good deeds.

On Pastor Kayanja's Rubaga Miracle Centre website, a believer posted the following note of encouragement: "Pastor whatever is happening to you in this today's world... it is the Satan trying to shake this world... The devil doesn't attack nobodies...the opposition is a indication for a new position God is taking you...Dogs never bark to parked cars but moving ones...yours as a driver is to put the next gear and sojourn by faith."

The best example of this can be seen at Holy Fire Church in Namulanda on Entebbe Road.

After the church leader Pastor William Muwanguzi disappeared amidst fraud allegations – the Hummer-driving, high flying pastor said his Congolese wife had gone back to Congo with the cash in question – the congregation picked itself up, regrouped under the leadership of one of the church's junior pastors and started all over again.

Others, however, remain doubtful like the proverbial lost lambs.

"Honestly I have tried to ignore these rumours but have now started to be confused," says one believer from Kampala Pentecostal Church, one of the oldest in the country.

Another from Rubaga Miracle Centre who also refused to reveal her identity says she somehow had suspicions when these rumours about her pastor started and now she doesn't know who to believe.

What next?

Although the scandals will leave several reputations in tatters, Apostle Mitala says the Pentecostal movement will remain strong.

"Such religious scandals have been on for years in every sect but they never stopped people from joining up," he said. "Are there no people becoming Muslims because of scandals or Catholics after all the wars, rumours and allegations against them? No."

While some members of the congregations might become disheartened, the Pentecostal churches will continue to bring in the numbers. "Pastors are only human and can error," says a member of the Rubaga Miracle Centre, speaking anonymously so as not to offend other members of the Centre. "It is those people who go to the churches for the pastors and not God who are in trouble not me who comes for God and only consider pastors as His vessel."

Another believer, who only gave her name as Eleanor, says she has shifted from the big, glamorous churches to a smaller one. Mostly, though, she has taken the matter of her faith into her hands, literally. "I don't know who is right or wrong anymore so I buy as many books and recordings of the gospel as I can and try to do my Bible study at home," Eleanor told Sunday Monitor. "But you have to fellowship sometimes so I go to one of the smaller churches. If I don't trust their character, how can I trust their gospel?"

Robby Muhumuza, a born-again believer working with World Vision, East Africa, a Christian NGO, says although he agrees that the allegations may not cause too much damage to the Pentecostal Movement but are a source of great embarrassment to the individuals involved.

"I don't believe that one person's sins should be paid for by the whole church but they are embarrassing the Pentecostal church especially the intrigue of kidnaps, forced confessions and all that," he says. Specific damage on these individuals and whether it would extend to the whole church however would depend on whether the allegations are found to be true or not. None of the pastors named in these allegations is yet to face court or conviction.

Sarah, who goes to KPC, says although she is glad her church is not involved, she would rethink her options if one of her church leaders was accused. "If he apologised, I would stay in the church. I would however move if he remained adamant and even worse tried to justify his actions," she says.

Muhumuza says the consequences would go beyond whether people went to church or not to maybe a split in the Pentecostal Movement if there were pro- and anti-homosexual pastors like was the case with Church of England's openly gay reverend, Gene Robinson.

For an institution that goes back more than 2,000 years, the church has had its fair share of trials and tribulations. The Anglicans broke away from the Catholic Church in protest against the dogmatic teachings while many Pentecostals broke away from the Anglican Church to preach a hopeful gospel of wealth and prosperity. Only time will tell whether the scandals that perennially besiege the Pentecostal Movement will lead to another breakaway.

The current fight in Uganda, which has pitted the most powerful pastors against one another, might provide some clues about which way the Movement will evolve.

It will also help reveal who of the accused and the accusers are telling the truth, the hypocrites who preach water and drink wine and the professionalism of the investigators themselves. In the meantime, the grass will continue to suffer and young boys are best advised not to share beds with their pastors. The Lord might work in mysterious ways, but the Devil often works at night.


A general wave of discomfort had started to spread throughout the country by 2006 about allegations that Pentecostal pastors were amassing wealth by fleecing their impoverished congregations through tithes, offertory and payment for blessings and favours from God.

In April 2006, Pastor Solomon Male accused pastors Simeon Kayiiwa, John Kakande and Prophetess Imelda Namutebi of using witchcraft to perform miracles and keep people in their church in a bid to continue collecting tithe and have many people paying for blessings. The two male pastors apparently got powers from John Obua, a Nigerian Pastor who died in Uganda and is believed to be the founder of the Born Again Christian churches in Uganda.

That same month saw an HIV+ lady, Frances Adroa heading to the courts of law alleging that the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) had not delivered on their promise to miraculously heal her of the virus as promised for which she had offered her car in July 2005.

Around the same time, one Julius Lukyamuzi came up accusing Pastor Grace Kitaka of sodomising him and Pastor Imelda Namutebi of covering up the sex offences in the name of protecting the church. Somewhere in the midst of these sodomy allegations featured Pastor Leslie Handel of Abundant Life faith centre as one of the pastors accused of being gay, again by Pastor Male.

A Ghanaian Pastor, Kojo Obiri Yeboah's July 5, 2007 apprehension at Entebbe airport for possessing an electric touch machine he was being suspected of shocking believers with, claiming it was the Holy Spirit, was as amusing as it was absurd.

And then in October 2006, Pastor David Kigganda made headlines when he publicly divorced his wife Hadijja Nassejje for allegedly cheating on him with a Chapati baker. He also revealed plans to take all their children for DNA testing.

Then in May 2008, 55-year-old Grace Kushemereire also came up with a shocking revelation of how Pastor Namutebi had apparently approached her in 1999 to partner with her in a deal where the former falsely testified that Namutebi's prayers healed her of HIV in exchange for a monthly pay of Shs350,000 and protection. Namutebi had also been accused of 'stealing' the man she is currently married to, Tom Kula, from another woman who had allegedly come to her for counselling.

A few months later, 41-year-old Jackson Senyonga of Christian Life Centre was arrested for having allegedly fondled a 13 year-old girl aboard a United Airlines flight on August 16th in 2008.

ln May 2008, Pastor William Muwanguzi of Holy Fire Church along Namulanda was arrested over the disappearance of a reconditioned 4-wheel drive Toyota Land Cruiser which he later claimed had been taken by his wife to Congo.

Around September 2008, Pastor Isaac Kiweweesi of Kasanga Miracle Centre was also accused of using small boys sexually. One member of his church David Arinaitwe aged 28, claimed that the pastor had sodomised him for years.

Rubaga Miracle Centre's Robert Kayanga currently battles sodomy allegations by two boys claiming they were sexually abused by the pastor. In 2006, the Uganda Revenue Authority was reported to have impounded smuggled wines at the same pastor's House in Gaba. He denied owning the wine, saying the house was not inhabited and could have been used by smugglers to hide their merchandise.

In the spot

Mr Robert Kayanja of Miracle Centre


The first most Ugandans of earlier generations ever heard of the Pentecostals after T.L. Osborn was Robert Kayanja. The eye catching 10, 500 seat edifice that is miracle centre cathedral started as a papyrus reed structure with Mr Kayanja and a few other young ministers having a 'congregation' of just one.

Powerful, rich and charismatic, Mr Kayanja has managed to amass one of the largest congregations while maintaining a clean reputation, until there were allegations that there was smuggled wine hidden at his home in Kawuku, near Kampala.

Of the pastor's biography, the Church's website,, tells a unordinary story of a miracle baby that should have died in place of its mother at birth but survived to be called to ministry at 17. Mr Kayanja is said to have fully launched into ministry at 22 to head Miracle Centre Cathedral. He oversees a bible college, and children's outreaches.

Mr Solomon Male of Arising for Christ

"I will not rest until the church is free of such decadence" is how Mr Male responded when he was accused by fellow pastors of washing their dirty linen in the public. An outspoken critic of corruption, deceit, false miracles, extortion and the prosperity gospel in born again churches, Mr Male was converted in October 1987, becoming one of the ministers of Mr Kakande's Church (The Synagogue Church of All Nations) but denouncing it in 1992 as a cult. Not attached to any particular Church for a while, Mr Male was at one time attacked and referred

to as an imposter by fellow pastors who argued that he couldn't be a pastor without a Church. To this, Mr Male had argued that he didn't need a Church to comment on the ills being done against Christians in the born again churches. In 1999, he founded the Arising for Christ Ministries (ARCH), as an umbrella organisation of pastors and preachers and evangilists who want to restore "the sanctity of Christ and to rid the Church of fake and selfish people posing as pastors.'

The organisation said in January 2008 to have compiled a list of 300 believers who accuse born-again pastors of extortion, fraud, sex slavery among other crimes

Mr Martin Sempa of Makerere Community Church

Mr Martin Sempa is not new to scandal and usually surfaces in times of sex-related controversies like homosexuality and pornography. The youthful pastor, who concentrates his ministry amongst the youth is based at Makerere University.Mr Sempa's core message, abstinence until marriage and faithfulness within marriage as the key solution to HIV prevention, is delivered with compassion and humour. The pastor endeavours to stoop to the youth's levels making them comfortable and attracting more to him.

Mr Michael Kyazze of Omega Healing Centre

The senior pastor at the Zana-based Church is known to his congregation as a man of integrity, intolerant to sin and down to earth. Having just moved into his own house in Kajjansi recently, his congregation defends him as an honest pastor not interested in amassing wealth. Omega Healing Centre, in existence since 2005 has close to 2,000 members now, about 80% youth, and still stands in a semi-permanent structure still under construction. Mr Kyazze is also in charge of doctrine and discipline at the National Fellowship of Born Again Pentecostal Churches of Uganda and has not been implicated in any scandal before. He is most popular for intiating the mass wedding tradition.

Posted by EKIMEEZA LOBBY LIVE, Free Speech Express

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pope Benedict's Critique of Capitalism

Our new address is
It would be greatly appreciated if you could update your bookmarks and links and kindly inform your readers (the content of this old blog has been moved as well).
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pope Benedict's Critique of Capitalism

Earlier this summer Benedict urged the nations of the world to embrace each other in solidarity and work towards "an ever more just distribution" of wealth," warning that "It is not possible to continue using the wealth of the poorest countries with impunity, without them also being able to participate in world growth." (Zenit: "Pope Urges Just Distribution of Goods" June 1, 2007).

Benedict revisited this topic during his September 23 Angelus. Commenting on Jesus' parable of the "dishonest steward", Benedict remarked on the "equal distribution of goods":

Telling the Parable of the dishonest but very crafty administrator, Christ teaches his disciples the best way to use money and material riches, that is, to share them with the poor, thus acquiring their friendship, with a view to the Kingdom of Heaven. "Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon," Jesus says, "so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations" (Lk 16: 9).

Money is not "dishonest" in itself, but more than anything else it can close man in a blind egocentrism. It therefore concerns a type of work of "conversion" of economic goods: instead of using them only for self-interest, it is also necessary to think of the needs of the poor, imitating Christ himself, who, as St Paul wrote: "though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (II Cor 8: 9). [...]

Catholic social doctrine has always supported that equitable distribution of goods is a priority. Naturally, profit is legitimate and, in just measure, necessary for economic development.

In his Encyclical Centesimus Annus, John Paul II wrote: "The modern business economy has positive aspects. Its basis is human freedom exercised in many other fields" (n. 32). Yet, he adds that capitalism must not be considered as the only valid model of economic organization (cf. ibid., n. 35).

Starvation and ecological emergencies stand to denounce, with increasing evidence, that the logic of profit, if it prevails, increases the disproportion between rich and poor and leads to a ruinous exploitation of the planet.

Instead, when the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails, it is possible to correct the course and direct it towards an equitable, sustainable development.

Michael Joseph of Vox Nova has conveyed his thoughts on Benedict's remarks (along with a lively combox discussion) in "The Logic of Profit and the Logic of Equal Distribution" Vox Nova Sept. 24, 2007).

To this I wanted to contribute (in what meager way I can) by exploring other addresses of Pope Benedict on the economy. . . . READ THE REST

Benedict's Address to the Latin American Bishop's Council (CELAM) - Brazil

In May 2007, Benedict made an apostolic journey to Brazil, during which he participated in the opening of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. Speaking of the necessity to establish "just structures -- without which a just order in society is not possible," Benedict addresses the insufficient promises of capitalism and Marxism:

Both capitalism and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just structures, and they declared that these, once established, would function by themselves; they declared that not only would they have no need of any prior individual morality, but that they would promote a communal morality. And this ideological promise has been proved false. The facts have clearly demonstrated it. The Marxist system, where it found its way into government, not only left a sad heritage of economic and ecological destruction, but also a painful oppression of souls. And we can also see the same thing happening in the West, where the distance between rich and poor is growing constantly, and giving rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity through drugs, alcohol and deceptive illusions of happiness.

Just structures are, as I have said, an indispensable condition for a just society, but they neither arise nor function without a moral consensus in society on fundamental values, and on the need to live these values with the necessary sacrifices, even if this goes against personal interest.

Where God is absent—God with the human face of Jesus Christ—these values fail to show themselves with their full force, nor does a consensus arise concerning them. I do not mean that non-believers cannot live a lofty and exemplary morality; I am only saying that a society in which God is absent will not find the necessary consensus on moral values or the strength to live according to the model of these values, even when they are in conflict with private interests.

On the other hand, just structures must be sought and elaborated in the light of fundamental values, with the full engagement of political, economic and social reasoning. They are a question of recta ratio and they do not arise from ideologies nor from their premises. Certainly there exists a great wealth of political experience and expertise on social and economic problems that can highlight the fundamental elements of a just state and the paths that must be avoided. But in different cultural and political situations, amid constant developments in technology and changes in the historical reality of the world, adequate answers must be sought in a rational manner, and a consensus must be created—with the necessary commitments—on the structures that must be established.

According to John Allen Jr., Benedict's critique of capitalism comes as no surprise to those familiar with Joseph Ratzinger's earlier work (National Catholic Reporter May 13, 2007):

Benedict XVI’s stinging criticism of both Marxism and capitalism this afternoon may have caught some off-guard used to thinking of him as a consumate conservative, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows Joseph Ratzinger’s history. . . .

In 1988, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published a collection of essays under the title of Church, Ecumenism and Politics. In it, he argued that capitalism is little better than national socialism or communism, in that all three propose false idols (prosperity, the Volk, and the state, respectively). Ratzinger said that to build a humane civilization, the West must rediscover two elements of its past: its classical Greek heritage and its common Christian identity.

From the classical era, Ratzinger wrote, Europe should rediscover objective and eternal values that stand above politics, putting limits to power. Ratzinger used the Greek term eunomia to describe this concept of the good. In that sense, one could say that Ratzinger proposed a eunomic, rather than capitalist, model of Western culture.

Over the years, Ratzinger has been close to the Communio school within Catholic theology, which stresses the need for cultures to take their point of departure from the Christian gospel rather than secular ideologies. Its primary exponents have repeatedly criticized capitalism for promoting an ethos of individualism and “survival of the fittest” that is at odds with the communitarian thrust of Catholic social teaching.

Since becoming pope, Benedict has often criticized what he considers the injustices of a growing neo-liberal system of economic globalization.

Ratzinger on "Market Economy and Ethics"

The most extensive work that I could find online -- generously made available by the Acton Institute -- is Ratzinger's Market Economy and Ethics, a version of which was presented in 1985 in a symposium in Rome, “Church and Economy in Dialogue.” It was published in English under the title “Church and economy: Responsibility for the future of the world economy,” Communio 13 (Fall 1986): 199-204.

Ratzinger begins by challenging "the objection raised especially after the Second Vatican Council, that the autonomy of specialized realms is to be respected above all," including the autonomy of the free market from moral influence:

Following the tradition inaugurated by Adam Smith , this position holds that the market is incompatible with ethics because voluntary “moral” actions contradict market rules and drive the moralizing entrepreneur out of the game. For a long time, then, business ethics rang like hollow metal because the economy was held to work on efficiency and not on morality. 4 The market's inner logic should free us precisely from the necessity of having to depend on the morality of its participants. The true play of market laws best guarantees progress and even distributive justice.

The great successes of this theory concealed its limitations for a long time. But now in a changed situation, its tacit philosophical presuppositions and thus its problems become clearer. Although this position admits the freedom of individual businessmen, and to that extent can be called liberal, it is in fact deterministic in its core. It presupposes that the free play of market forces can operate in one direction only, given the constitution of man and the world, namely, toward the self-regulation of supply and demand, and toward economic efficiency and progress.

This determinism, in which man is completely controlled by the binding laws of the market while believing he acts in freedom from them, includes yet another and perhaps even more astounding presupposition, namely, that the natural laws of the market are in essence good (if I may be permitted so to speak) and necessarily work for the good, whatever may be true of the morality of individuals. These two presuppositions are not entirely false, as the successes of the market economy illustrate. But neither are they universally applicable and correct, as is evident in the problems of today's world economy. . . .

Even if the market economy does rest on the ordering of the individual within a determinate network of rules, it cannot make man superfluous or exclude his moral freedom from the world of economics. It is becoming ever so clear that the development of the world economy has also to do with the development of the world community and with the universal family of man, and that the development of the spiritual powers of mankind is essential in the development of the world community. These spiritual powers are themselves a factor in the economy: the market rules function only when a moral consensus exists and sustains them.

Ratzinger follows this with an observation about the growing attraction of Third World nations to a centralized economy by those who "identify the ground of their misery in the market economy, which they see as a system of exploitations, as institutionalised sin and injustice" -- who embrace centralization with something akin to a "religious fervor." Ratzinger summarizes the discussion as follows:

For while the market economy rests on the beneficial effect of egoism and its automatic limitation through competing egoisms, the thought of just control seems to predominate in a centralized economy, where the goal is equal rights for all and proportionate distribution of goods to all. The examples adduced thus far are certainly not encouraging, but the hope that one could, nonetheless, bring this moral project to fruition is also not thereby refuted. It seems that if the whole were to be attempted on a stronger moral foundation, it should be possible to reconcile morality and efficiency in a society not oriented toward maximum profit, but rather to self-restraint and common service. Thus in this area, the argument between economics and ethics is becoming ever more an attack on the market economy and its spiritual foundations, in favor of a centrally controlled economy, which is believed now to receive its moral grounding.

Capitalism and Marxism: Philosophical "Siamese Twins"?

Though sympathetic to this "reconciliation of economics and ethics," Ratzinger rejects the Marxist proposal. His criticism is fascinating: though it presents itself as the antithesis to the market economy, the centrally-administered Marxist economy belies the same underlying philosophical determinism as its utilitarian-capitalist neighbor:

This determinism includes the renunciation of ethics as an independent entity relevant to the economy. [In Marxism], religion is traced back to economics as the reflection of a particular economic system and thus, at the same time, as an obstacle to correct knowledge, to correct action — as an obstacle to progress, at which the natural laws of history aim. . . . It is also presupposed that history, which takes its course from the dialectic of negative and positive, must, of its inner essence and with no further reasons being given, finally end in total positivity. That the Church can contribute nothing positive to the world economy on such a view is clear; its only significance for economics is that it must be overcome.

Ratzinger notes with concern as well the typical hostility towards the Catholic faith -- citing the examples of Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, and Rockefeller in 1969, both of whom saw the Catholic majority in Latin America as an obstacle to relations with the United States and its economic expansion. Ratzinger notes the irony:

In both these remarks, religion — here a Christian denomination — is presupposed as a socio-political, and hence as an economic-political factor, which is fundamental for the development of political structures and economic possibilities. This reminds one of Max Weber's thesis about the inner connection between capitalism and Calvinism , between the formation of the economic order and the determining religious idea. Marx's notion seems to be almost inverted: it is not the economy that produces religious notions, but the fundamental religious orientation that decides which economic system can develop. The notion that only Protestantism can bring forth a free economy — whereas Catholicism includes no corresponding education to freedom and to the self-discipline necessary to it, favoring authoritarian systems instead — is doubtless even today still very widespread

Ratzinger calls for a “self-criticism of the Christian confessions," initiating a dialogue with those who manage the economy and countering the prejudice that would confine Christianity to the private realm, leaving the professional businessman to abide solely by the "laws of the market." According to Ratzinger, it is only in joining the market with a solid ethical foundation (sustained by religious conviction) that the pursuit of the common good can be accomplished. In fact, as we so often see today -- in tabloid stories of corporate scandals -- "the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse."

Ratzinger adds this note of caution to both parties [emphasis mine]:

A morality that believes itself able to dispense with the technical knowledge of economic laws is not morality but moralism. As such it is the antithesis of morality. A scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos misunderstands the reality of man. Therefore it is not scientific. Today we need a maximum of specialized economic understanding, but also a maximum of ethos so that specialized economic understanding may enter the service of the right goals.

* * *

Depends on your definition of "capitalism"?

If Benedict criticizes "capitalism", it seems to me he is referring more accurately to neo-liberalism, the worldview which Pope John Paul II described in Ecclesia in America:

More and more, in many countries of America, a system known as “neoliberalism” prevails; based on a purely economic conception of man, this system considers profit and the law of the market as its only parameters, to the detriment of the dignity of and the respect due to individuals and peoples. At times this system has become the ideological justification for certain attitudes and behavior in the social and political spheres leading to the neglect of the weaker members of society. Indeed, the poor are becoming ever more numerous, victims of specific policies and structures which are often unjust.

and condemned as well in Centesimus Annus (in addressing the question of whether 'capitalism' could be endorsed by Catholics:

. . . The answer is obviously complex. If by "capitalism" is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a "business economy", "market economy" or simply "free economy". But if by "capitalism" is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.

The necessary corrective to such abuses, according to John Paul II, is "support must be given to all those who are examples of honesty in the administration of public finances and of justice," and support for "the process of democratization", which provides for greater control over potential abuses:

“The rule of law is the necessary condition for the establishment of an authentic democracy”. For democracy to develop, there is a need for civic education and the promotion of public order and peace. In effect, “there is no authentic and stable democracy without social justice. Thus the Church needs to pay greater attention to the formation of consciences, which will prepare the leaders of society for public life at all levels, promote civic education, respect for law and for human rights, and inspire greater efforts in the ethical training of political leaders”.

(Ecclesia in America, No. 57).

* * *

Michael Joseph states with conviction:

Capitalism, which Smith outlines in his magisterial Wealth of Nations, is founded upon an ethics of sentiment and want and takes on the form of exchange between parties–I give you what you want and you give me what I want. This is why Enlightment liberty must always be coupled with capitalism. If reason is not the arbitor of proper action, then all people must be free to pursue their wants according to sentiment. Toss in some J.S. Mill and Bentham in order to give capitalism the flavor of utilitarian mode–I am at liberty to pursue my wants, which I decipher from my sentiments, as long as such a pursuit works for the benefit of the majority. That is the capitalist/utilitarian ethic. . . .

[I]t is true without a hesitation that the capitalist ethic is fundamentally at odds with the entire moral tradition of the Catholic faith, and that the capitalist ethic (to use the words of Aladair MacIntyre) is a rival morality to Catholicism. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI understood this. Of course, the Catholic defenders of capitalism never care to debate its intellectual formulation for they know it is flawed. Instead, they refer us to the “material prosperity” of free market societies in order to justify the good of capitalism. But what else is such an empirical reliance than a consequentialist defense of a system that rejects the dignity of the human person (indeed, there is no person!) and reduces societal interaction to mere exchange!

Is the "free economy" and Catholic social teaching ultimately irreconcilable? -- Michael Therrien's essay John Paul II’s Use of the Term Neo-Liberalism in Ecclesia in America challenges precisely this claim. For Therrien, neoliberalism is but one possible outcome, "depending on the moral disposition of the actors within the market." He contends:

the Church has elevated certain elements of the classical liberal agenda—and without compromise—by divorcing liberalism from its historic excesses. By situating liberalism within a Christian philosophical and theological framework, the Church has sufficiently anchored liberalism’s vision of individual liberty and human rights in a proper anthropology. This process began with Pius IX’s 1864 Syllabus of Errors, which condemned the radical elements of the liberal movement, and has continued all the way through John Paul II’s encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio. By asserting this, however, I am also recognizing that the Church has condemned the excesses and abuses of liberalism. Among these would be the errors of atomistic individualism, the absolute right to private property, the idea that law originates from the will of the people, and the rejection of legitimate authority, especially the moral authority of the Church. Yet I would suggest that these condemnations, and others, have been carefully focused on specific errors of liberalism so as not to disregard many of the key insights that liberals advanced, such as religious liberty, freedom of association, and economic liberty. Admittedly, the Church has prudently taken more than a century to develop her teaching on these matters. Consequently, the nuancing of liberalism has been gradual and slow to develop.

In like manner, says Therrien, John Paul’s condemnation of neo-liberalism is not tantamount to a wholesale condemnation of the free economy as an economic system:

Neo-liberalism simply reflects those moral dispositions that are unacceptable to the Church in the marketplace. Thus, neo-liberalism is not synonymous with the free economy, nor does the market necessarily produce these excesses even though it might appear that way. I would even suggest that this moral disposition precedes any economic system, in as much as it is part and parcel of man’s fallen nature.

This distinction between the free economy and neo-liberalism is absolutely necessary if one is to properly understand the Church’s teaching about the economic order.

On the consequences of economic reductionism -- subordinating human dignity to profit and the "invisible hand of the market" -- Therrien asks a question which I would pose to Michael Joseph (and perhaps Benedict):

Yet is this intrinsic to the free economy—insofar as the free market refers to the voluntary exchange of goods and services and the protection of property rights—or is this simply a reflection of the moral blindness of those who espouse such a minimalist view of the human person? In other words, is it impossible to admit that individuals are capable of moving beyond selfish interest when acting in the market? Or is market activity fundamentally about greed?

* * *

One can appreciate Ratzinger's recognition of the "proper jurisdiction" of theologian and economist, so to speak. To reiterate:

A morality that believes itself able to dispense with the technical knowledge of economic laws is not morality but moralism. As such it is the antithesis of morality. A scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos misunderstands the reality of man. Therefore it is not scientific.

Or, to quote Gregory M. A. Gronbacher: "No matter how sublime the theology, it is no substitute for genuine economic knowledge, especially when the goal is to analyze economic structures in terms of their moral significance."

This advice is echoed in Benedict's May 2007 address to the Latin Bishop's Conference where, according to Benedict, the task of the Church is not so much the prescription of specific economic policy as the reaffirmation of fundamental principles which would guide our actions:

This political task is not the immediate competence of the Church. Respect for a healthy secularity—including the pluralism of political opinions—is essential in the Christian tradition. If the Church were to start transforming herself into a directly political subject, she would do less, not more, for the poor and for justice, because she would lose her independence and her moral authority, identifying herself with a single political path and with debatable partisan positions. The Church is the advocate of justice and of the poor, precisely because she does not identify with politicians nor with partisan interests. Only by remaining independent can she teach the great criteria and inalienable values, guide consciences and offer a life choice that goes beyond the political sphere. To form consciences, to be the advocate of justice and truth, to educate in individual and political virtues: that is the fundamental vocation of the Church in this area. And lay Catholics must be aware of their responsibilities in public life; they must be present in the formation of the necessary consensus and in opposition to injustice.

Just structures will never be complete in a definitive way. As history continues to evolve, they must be constantly renewed and updated; they must always be imbued with a political and humane ethos—and we have to work hard to ensure its presence and effectiveness. In other words, the presence of God, friendship with the incarnate Son of God, the light of his word: these are always fundamental conditions for the presence and efficacy of justice and love in our societies.

Catholics have responded to this call in many different ways. One way is that of the Catholic Worker, taking on voluntary poverty in solidarity with the least among us.

Then there is the Acton Institute, which according to its stated mission seeks to "to promote a free, virtuous, and humane society" by integrating "Judeo-Christian truths with free market principles." Which sounds, to me at least, not unlike what then-Cardinal Ratzinger had in mind when he spoke of joining "specialized economic understanding" with ethical discipline and religious strength, so as to properly order our economic activity.

I am reminded here of the collaboration of theologians and economists in the realtively new school of economic personalism, which upon initial reading aims to develop a "nuanced synthesis of free-market economic science and the science of moral theology grounded in a personalist anthropology" -- a laudable if not challenging task. (For starters, see "The Need for Economic Personalism" (Markets and Morality Volume 1, Number 1. March 1998).


Does the Pope Blast Capitalism?", by Fr. Robert Sirico. Responding to allegations that Jesus of Nazareth contains an indictment of capitalism.

Labels: benedict, catholic social teaching, economics

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Cohabitation Before Marriage

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"God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them."1 From the very first moment of the life of the human race, God has loved his people. God loves us not only as a human race, but he loves each of us as an individual, as his own unique creation.

Whether we be a man or a woman, God has a plan for each of our lives. For many, that plan includes the joining of man and woman in the sacramental bond of marriage. This bond is a sacred covenant of love involving a man, a woman and God. St. Paul expresses that this bond of marriage between husband and wife symbolizes the bond that exists between Christ and his church. This sacred covenant cannot be dissolved throughout one's earthly life.2 Therefore, each person entering into that special covenant of marriage needs adequate preparation to be certain that one is ready to marry. Moreover, all entering marriage must be as certain as possible that their spouse is the person to whom they can make a lifetime commitment of love.

Today many couples (those who are engaged and those who are not) prepare for their possible married life together by cohabiting, or "living together," before marriage. Their reasons for doing so are many and varied. However, a view that is commonly held is that couples who live together before marriage can more adequately determine if their lifetime commitment to one another as husband and wife is possible. Two generations ago living together before marriage was viewed as scandalous by our society. Young people were strongly discouraged from cohabiting. As a society, that view has been greatly challenged today. Between 30 percent and 40 percent of couples seeking marriage in the United States today are living together. Many people see cohabiting not only as permissible, but even as necessary to attempt to diminish the possibility of divorce or marital unhappiness later in the life of the couple.

The church does not believe that cohabitation before marriage is a moral or acceptable preparation for this sacred bond. Rather, the church sees cohabitation as a threat to the marital happiness that engaged couples so desperately seek. Cohabitation as an actual threat to marital happiness has furthermore been borne out in recent research studies done by today's social sciences, as will be quoted in the following section.

This pastoral letter is an attempt to encourage couples contemplating marriage not to live together before their wedding day. Moreover, this pastoral letter is a challenge to all Catholics to support engaged couples as they prepare for a lasting marriage. The letter is intended to stimulate further reflection in the hearts of believers addressing Judeo-Christian marriage as a special vocation to be lived in an increasingly secular world. Perhaps most important, the letter is an invitation to all engaged couples and those contemplating engagement to realize that the church seeks the same end that the engaged couples seek: a commitment of love expressed in the vows by the bride and groom on their wedding day to be strengthened continually day by day throughout their lives as a married couple.

The marriage preparation offered by the church is not to be seen as a list of rules and regulations, but rather as an investment into the lives of the engaged couple and the life of the church.

The church recognizes that marriage and family are vital components of a society. Thus, good marriage preparation is an investment into the future of the individual, the engaged couple, the future children born of that union and of the entire body of Christ.


(*For our purposes, we will accept the general definition which defines cohabitation as a situation where "a couple has been living together for at least four nights a week for an extended period of time, giving the appearance, at least externally, that they have formed a quasimarriage relationship."3

There are many and varied reasons why a couple might decide to live together before they are married. It is helpful for those who are preparing couples for marriage in the church to listen and attempt to understand the motives behind such a decision. Pope John Paul II states very pastorally in his apostolic exhortation on the role of the Christian family in the modern world, "The pastors and the ecclesial community should take care to become acquainted with such situations and their actual causes, case by case."4

It is also important for the couple to know and to be able to explain the reasons why they have made the decision to live together before marriage. Even today, in a permissive society which considers itself free from many of the so-called constraints of traditional moral norms, the decision of a man and a woman to live together before they are married should never be taken lightly.

Recent studies have identified some of the major reasons why couples decide to cohabit. This is by no means an exhaustive list of reasons, and couples may discover that their decision is a combination of several of these reasons offered below:

1. Testing Period

"Let's just try and see how it works out." Commonly, this reason is referred to as a trial marriage. The rationale here is that by living together a couple may discover whether or not they are compatible. This way the individuals believe that they can avoid the mistake of marrying someone with whom they are fundamentally mismatched. Between 1965 and 1985, there was an enormous 400 percent increase in the number of couples cohabiting in the United States.

At the same time period, there was a significant increase in the number of divorces. Just in one decade, between 1980-1990, the U.S. Census Bureau reported an 80 percent increase of couples living together before marriage. A significant and growing body of research, however, points to the fact that the prospect of divorce dramatically increases for those who cohabit. With cohabiting couples, even in the most committed relationships, both the man and the woman know in the back of their minds that if things really become difficult, they can always go their separate ways without the trauma of a legal nightmare.

2. Financial Benefits

"We can save more money by moving in together." The cost of living is less when two people are sharing the bills. Economically, it would seem to make good sense. Many of the 2.9 million couples living together before marriage in the United States offer this as one major reason for living together. Considering the fact that I million of those 2.9 million couples have children under 15 years of age, there is an added financial stress to provide not only for the couple but also for the children born of previous relationships. Choosing to live together solely for economic reasons reveals a dangerously overpragmatic and sometimes selfish view of marriage. When a couple lives together, earned income is often easily viewed as "his" or "hers." After the marriage, however, the income and expenses are shared by both parties.

This can often become a source of frustration and disagreement among the spouses. Marital love and happiness are built upon a much deeper and stronger base than upon future financial security.

3. Convenience

"We've grown so close to each other. Let's live together." This is often a slow, progressive process. The movement from dating to preparing meals together, to sleeping together, to staying over more often to eventual cohabitation is more of a developmental process rather than a conscious decision. Unfortunately, in situations such as this, couples have reflected upon the reasons for their decision to live together, and they have very often developed a strong sexual dependency. Cohabitation is an almost natural result of violating chastity before marriage. It can be stated clearly at this point that there is a difference between premarital sexual intercourse (i.e. fornication)5 and living together without the benefit of marriage (i.e. cohabitation).6 Although the two may often be closely related, one can exist without the other. Some unmarried couples are sexually active without sharing the same residence.

In both situations we are speaking of the possibility of grave scandal and grave sin.

4. Sexual Need

"Why do we have to wait to physically express our love?" In a relationship where the bond of physical intimacy becomes so strong, the couple finds it next to impossible to live apart. Given the addictive power of sex, this kind of relationship can also become co-dependent on a more physical level and can confuse sex for love. Instead of the sexual act being a life-giving act of mutual love, it can often become a life-draining and very selfish abuse of another person. In a relationship which has a strong dependency on sexual intimacy it can be more difficult for the couple who lives together to resolve other problem areas of their lives. A couple can begin to use sex as a way to convince themselves that the relationship is going fine. When sexual intimacy becomes the predominant way of communicating, it even stifles a couple's discovery of the attitudes, hopes and desires of the other person. A couple must have the freedom and the emotional strength to be able to separate the sexual dimension of their attraction for each other and their true love for one another.

That love contains the element of trust. When one or both persons cannot delay their urge for sexual gratification before the marriage, what guarantee exists that the individuals can trust one another in the fidelity of their marital vows after marriage?

5. Insecurity

"I love you so much, that I cannot live without you." Oftentimes the need for companionship and the fear of loneliness are so strong that either one or both parties decide they cannot wait for marriage because they feel they need to be with each other all of the time. This kind of relationship often becomes co-dependent on an emotional and psychological level. A 1994 study published in Christian Society Today7 discovered that couples who do live together before marriage have a 50 percent greater chance of divorce than those couples who did not cohabit before marriage.

The insecurity of not being able to live without one another before the marriage manifests itself after the marriage in a lack of trust between the two parties which is essential for a strong marital relationship.

6. Fear of Commitment

"I'm just afraid of losing you." A couple may live together because they fear a permanent commitment. By living together, they know that if they do split, it is not quite the same as a divorce. They want to keep their options open, and they want to keep from getting hurt too badly. The result of this thinking is reflected in the fact that 40 percent of couples who live together before marriage break up before marriage.8 Other studies indicate the number is closer to 60 percent-70 percent of cohabiting couples who break up and never marry the person with whom they lived. In addition, couples who have married persons with whom they previously lived are more likely to live with another person prior to a subsequent marriage. Thus, cohabitation upon cohabitation increases the likelihood of divorce upon divorce.

7. Escape

"Living with you will make me much happier than I am now." Moving in with someone may allow the person to escape from another difficult living arrangement (e.g., with parents, roommates, friends). Some wish to prove their independence by moving in with their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Instead of focusing upon the two persons contemplating marriage, this relationship all too often becomes simply an escape from other problematic relationships.

8. Playing House

"Hey! This is going to be fun!" In younger and less mature couples, there is a naive romanticism about setting up a home. This idea can become so strong that waiting for marriage seems impossible. For example, college students often live together with this mentality. The average length of such living arrangements among college students is seven months.9

Often this mentality returns again later as the person more seriously seeks a potential marriage partner. But any married couple can attest that marriage is more difficult than simply playing house.

9. No Fear of Pregnancy

"We need to get to know one another first. Later we'll start having kids." In the past, a large deterrent to both premarital sex and cohabitation was the fear of pregnancy. With the availability and the social acceptability of artificial contraception, the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy is no longer a strong deterrent. As long as the couple is having "protected sex," then the prospect of conceiving a child out of wedlock (which even today in our liberated society is still frowned upon) becomes less of a concern.

Because artificial contraception eliminates the openness to the possibility of new life resulting from sexual intercourse, the church has consistently taught that its use is seriously sinful. It is easy to see how the social acceptability and availability of artificial contraception in the '60s and '70s, giving a couple the ability to minimize the fear of pregnancy, has coincided with the rise and acceptance of premarital sex and cohabitation in society.

It is important, as we said above, that everyone involved in the preparation process, especially the couples themselves, understand why the decision by the couple to cohabit was made.


Having looked at several reasons why couples choose to live together before marriage, we now address the reasons why the church teaches that there is "a better way" to prepare for the sacrament of marriage.

1. The Vocation to Love

"God is love," as Sacred Scripture teaches us.10 God freely gives his love and his life in the act of creation. Created in God's image and likeness, every human person has been called into existence through love and has been created for love. Everyone, therefore, is created to give love and to receive love, since "human life is a gift received in order to then be given as a gift."11

The church teaches that "God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being."12 Each person is called to this vocation of love in a spirit of friendship and self-giving.

There are really only two ways of realizing this vocation to love: marriage and virginity or celibacy.13 Between a man and a woman, the highest expression of this friendship or mutual gift of self is through the holy bond of marriage. "Since God created them male and female, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man."14

2. Gift of Sexuality and the Body

All of us need to remember that there are things in life which are holy; things are made by God to be beautiful and good. These things reflect God's own beauty and goodness. We commonly think of the sacraments or of other holy events within the church in this way. Yet we must also understand that one of the absolutely holy, beautiful and sacred things that God has given to us is our sexuality.

Sex is holy. Sex is sacred. We know that sex is holy because God uses it, joining his divine and creative power to the love of a man and a woman to bring forth new life into the world. No two people ever work so closely, hand in hand with God himself, as when they become co-creators with God and bring forth new life into the world. Although many people are probably not thinking about this at the time when they engage in sexual relations, God is very present in that life-giving act, whether a pregnancy results or not.

Because sex is so sacred and beautiful, God has filled it with meaning. Every act of sexual intercourse is intended by God to express love, commitment and an openness to life. If two people are ever uncertain about whether engaging in sexual activity is the right thing to do, they need to ask themselves if love, commitment and an openness to life are present in the relationship. Sexual activity is a gift that we give to another person to whom we have committed our lives. All too frequently sexual activity is seen as the taking from another for one's own pleasure,

Premarital sexual intercourse deprives the conjugal act of the deeper meaning that God created it to contain. There is not a total giving of self in premarital sexual relations as there ought to be in the sexual act of a husband and wife. It is seriously morally wrong for two people to have sex if they are not married, because the sexual act expresses a total commitment which the couple does not yet have. The church teaches that "the only 'place' in which this self-giving in its whole truth is made possible is marriage, the covenant of conjugal love freely and consciously chosen, whereby a man and woman accept the intimate community of life and love willed by God himself."15 Moreover, within marriage, the church states that "it is necessary that each conjugal act remain ordained in itself to the procreation of human life. "16

3. Freedom and the Virtue of Chastity

What do we mean by the word chastity? Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of a human being in his or her bodily and spiritual being."17 The person who has acquired the virtue of chastity is a person who is totally free. The chaste person is well ordered from within and is not driven this way and that by spontaneous urges and unruly passions. The chaste person "maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person."18 The virtue of chastity ultimately leads to self-mastery, which is ordered to the gift of self.

The best kinds of gifts are the gifts given out of total freedom — no strings attached. The freer persons are from their own selfishness and self-gratifying desires, the more they can give of their true selves. The church has always taught that the human person is most fully human when acting from an informed conscience and free choice and not by blind impulse. The human person either "governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy."19 One must be quick to add, however, that to follow one's conscience requires that one has taken the time to properly form one's conscience. One must not follow a conscience that is in error. To do so does not lead to freedom. In the case of a sexually active couple living together before marriage, the couple is becoming enslaved to sin rather than becoming free to the truth that Christ has taught us. That lack of freedom often impairs the ability of the couple to truthfully address the other important issues that need to be discussed before the decision to marry is made.

Teachers of natural family planning have discovered that those who engage in premarital sex find it difficult to practice the periodic abstinence that natural family planning sometimes requires. In other words, there is a marital chastity that is required of couples; and those who do not practice premarital chastity find it difficult to practice marital chastity. If one is promiscuous before marriage, those habits easily linger with them. There will be times in marriage when self-restraint and sacrifice will be required, and if a person has not learned this before marriage, then it will be all the more difficult during the marriage. This is one reason why artificial contraception used before marriage and during marriage can open the door to the temptation of infidelity.

To summarize, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read:

"Chastity leads him who practices it to become a witness to his neighbor of God's fidelity and loving kindness. The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends, who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is the promise of immortality."20

Premarital sexual intercourse and cohabitation open the gift, so to speak, before it has been given. Waiting for one's wedding day in order to give the gift of conjugal love, on the other hand, creates a natural yearning which can help engender a greater sense of totality of the gift of self to the one person whom God has chosen from all eternity to share this gift. To give this gift, which is symbolized by the nuptial language of the body in sexual intercourse, in a context any less than the total commitment of spousal love is an affront to its inherent and God-given dignity.

4. Secondary Virginity

For couples who are contemplating the decision to marry, one of the very best preparations that one can do is to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, so as to be free from the evil effects of sin. For couples who have been sexually active, the decision as a couple to commit themselves to a "secondary virginity" is for one to say to the other, "I love you so much that I wish to wait until the day of our wedding and the beginning of our married life together to express my love to you in the physical intimacy of sexual love." What a great gift of love! What a great way to prepare for that wedding day and for the days and months and years that follow that day! That is the better way. It is Christ's way.

5. God's Way Is the Better Way

As we saw above, Scripture and the church teach that our sexuality is a gift from God, something very holy and sacred, something very beautiful, something filled with profound meaning. The call to love is the call to give oneself to another as Christ gave himself to us on the cross in an act of unconditional love and self-surrender. When a man and a woman make the decision to give themselves to each other in marriage, they should want to give themselves freely as a gift in the holy covenant of marriage. The couple wants this union blessed by the church and sanctified by the grace of the sacrament.

The heart of the marital covenant lies in its unity and indissolubility. In marriage, this covenant is publicly affirmed. It is a covenant that is both unique and exclusive to the spouses. Everything that has led to this public exchange of vows has been to help the couple gain the sufficient freedom and the knowledge necessary to make their gift to each other total and unconditional. Anything that would take away from this freedom would be a less than adequate way to prepare for one of the most important days in a person's life.

When a couple approaches the church to seek a sacramental marriage, they may be coming from any number of situations such as those described earlier in this letter. Therefore, when a couple who lives together expresses a desire to marry in the church, the church's main responsibility is to help the couple see the Catholic vision of marriage and why cohabitation is not a moral or acceptable way to prepare for the sacrament of matrimony. Not only does the church have a responsibility to uphold the vision of marriage and sexuality, but Christian people have a responsibility to live according to the teaching of Christ in their preparation for marriage.

To abstain from sexual relations before marriage means denying oneself certain pleasures. This notion of self-denial is not popular in today's culture. Who would deny that we live in a culture which exhorts us to always seek immediate pleasure and self-gratification? But to deny oneself for the good of another, and ultimately for the good of oneself, is indeed a noble purpose. This is not even to mention the joy that awaits couples who make this sacrifice because of true love.


1. These Questions Need Answers

The following questions have been adapted from the "Guide for Pastoral Counseling With Couples Cohabiting Before Marriage."21 The questions need to be addressed by the engaged couple and with the priest who is preparing the couple for marriage.

1. As an engaged couple, why did you choose to cohabit before marriage?

2. What have the two of you learned from your experience of living together? What have you learned about yourselves as a couple and as individuals?

3. What is the driving force behind your decision to marry at this time? What has changed in the relationship by which now you wish to marry and have your marriage blessed in the church?

4. Was there a previous reluctance or hesitation to marry? If so, why? Have those issues been completely addressed so as to now seek marriage?

5. Why are you seeking marriage in the Catholic Church?

6. What does marriage as a sacrament mean to the two of you?

7. How do you see your faith and love for each other as an intimate part of your marriage?

Perhaps these questions may assist the engaged couple and the priest to jointly discern whether the couple is ready for marriage. Again, as was stressed earlier, the church's main concern is to help prepare the engaged couple for a lifelong commitment of love to one another and to God. Hopefully, this is also the main concern of the engaged couple themselves. If it is not, then there must be a re-evaluation of the reasons for the couple seeking marriage in the church.

We began by staling that the decision to love is the basis of the sacrament of matrimony. It is a love involving a man, a woman and God. By choosing the better way, not the path of cohabitation, a couple has chosen God's way, in fact, Jesus' way preached in the New Testament.

The lesson is clear: To follow Jesus, living "his way," will not be understood by those turned secular or worldly in their criteria; they will not applaud us but they cannot deny our witness. But what each of us will do or not do does not depend upon the approval or applause of others, only upon our commitment to God's original design and Jesus' way in following it. After all, as professed disciples of Jesus we have committed ourselves to true love and its discipline. And he walks with us from Nazareth to Calvary to heaven.

The prayers of the church are with our couples preparing for marriage to see that God's way is not only the better way, but the right and only way.


Is Scandal Still a Possibility?

1. For society: As society no longer adheres to traditional moral values and norms, scandal becomes less and less of a concern to many people. Even so, the church still teaches clearly and consistently that premarital sexual intercourse objectively is mortally sinful. Couples who live together, even if they are not engaging in premarital sexual relations, give the impression to the community that such an arrangement is totally acceptable. Additionally, should the couple marry and later divorce there is widespread acceptance of such an event. Is it any wonder that the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world?

2. For the church: When a cohabiting or sexually active couple approaches the church for marriage, how should the priest, or those charged with the duty of giving them the very best preparation, react? This situation places the ministers of the church in a difficult position. Specifically, how can the priest preach the word of God and uphold the church's teaching on chastity and premarital sex with any integrity while at the same time allowing an unmarried couple to live together as if there is nothing morally wrong with that arrangement? It is a scandal to the church, the body of Christ, when her members freely choose to live in a state of grave sin.

3. For engaged couples: Imagine two different engaged couples visiting the priest of a local parish, seeking to be married in the church. One couple has chosen to live according to the teachings of the church. It is difficult for them to abstain from premarital sexual relations, but they have committed themselves to one another and to God that they are going to try very diligently to wait until their wedding night to give themselves to one another in that loving sexual act. This couple anxiously awaits their wedding day and the guests who will witness their vows before God and his church. The other couple, however, comes to the priest, and they inform him that they are living together and that they plan to continue to do so until their wedding day. The couple admits that they are engaging in premarital sexual relations. The couple wants to have a big wedding in the church, just like the other engaged couple. What will the first couple or even the second couple think if the priest allows this second couple to have a big church wedding?

How we celebrate marriages of cohabiting couples can cause confusion and scandal. How can the church be both compassionate and understanding, and at the same time speak with clarity regarding the teachings of the Scriptures?

Because of the awkwardness of dealing with these situations in the concrete, some priests have taken the approach, "Don't ask. Don't tell." Not only does this create even more confusion, as in the cases mentioned above, but it is also being dishonest and unfair to the couple who is trying to follow the church's teaching.

Some priests sincerely feel they are acting out of compassion for the cohabiting couple, knowing how difficult it might be to challenge them to live apart. Compromising the full truth of the Bible, however, is really a disservice because Jesus teaches that the truth will set us free no matter how difficult the sacrifice may be.22

In the end it is this freedom that is finally the goal of marriage preparation. "The whole meaning of freedom, and self-control which follows from it, is thus directed toward self-giving in communion and friendship with God and with others."23 A man and a woman freely give themselves to each other as a gift of their love. The more freedom that exists in their relationship, the greater their gift to one another.

True love is self-giving. How can one best prepare to make this gift of freedom to their beloved spouse in marriage? Is there a "better way" to prepare for marriage to ensure that the gift they give on their wedding day is worthy of this vocation to which they have been called by God?

The Choice Is Made

In marriage preparation, engaged couples are taught that love is not just a feeling. Love is a decision. One must decide every day to love one's spouse, even if the feeling of love may not be very strong at a particular moment. Similarly, in marriage preparation the engaged couples must make decisions. One of those decisions concerns living together. The church extends the invitation to the engaged couple to see that there are many good reasons to not cohabit before their wedding day. As Jesus taught by invitation to follow his teaching and commands, so too the church teaches by invitation to her sons and daughters to follow the teachings of the church. Ultimately, the engaged couple must make the decision to follow Christ and his church, or to turn and follow their own path.

Through prayer and discernment, the couple must make important decisions. For the engaged couple who is living together, the question must be asked, "Are you willing to separate and to attempt to the best of your ability to live a chaste life as a single person until your wedding day?" If the answer to that question is yes, then the church family welcomes that commitment with joy and happiness. It would be of great spiritual benefit to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. The grace of the sacraments will sustain and strengthen that commitment as the very best preparation for the sacrament of matrimony that the engaged couple can undertake.

If the answer to the question asked above is "No, we choose to not separate before marriage," then further considerations must be made. If the couple has shown that they are living together for the reason of convenience or financial benefit, and the engaged couple is planning a formal marriage, then the priest will explore with the couple on a deeper level the meaning of the sacrament in the marital bond and the commitment to permanence and stability.

For the couple who is living together but has a more casual attitude toward this arrangement by not having moved toward a formal marriage, a greater emphasis needs to be placed upon the readiness of the couple to marry at this time, along with the permanent lifetime commitment that marriage involves. In addition, the sacramentality issue would be discussed as with the case in the preceding paragraph. Professional referral may be in order in these cases.

If an engaged couple is seeking to be married in the church more for the sake of appearance or to accommodate the desires of others, the priest is to recommend a postponement of any further consideration of marriage preparation. This is especially to be the case if the couple demonstrates a lack of spiritual or psychosocial maturity for marriage.


1 Gn. 1:27.

2 Mk. 10:1-9.

'3 National Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Pastoral Research and Practices, Faithful to Each Other Forever: A Catholic Handbook of Pastoral Help for Marriage Preparation (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Catholic Conference), p. 71 quoting Family Communications, p. 257.

4 John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 81.

5 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2353.

6 Ibid., 2390-2391.

7 Reported in AFA Journal. July 1993.

8 Reported in Christian Society Today. January 1994.

9 James Healy, Living Together and the Christian Commitment. (Allen, Texas: Tabor Publishing, 1993).

10 1 Jn. 4:8,16.

11 John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 92.

12 Familiaris Consortio, 11.

13 Ibid.

14 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1604.

15 Familiaris Consortio, 11.

16 Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 11.

17 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2337.

18 Ibid., 2338.

19 Ibid., 2339.

20 Ibid., 2346-2347.

21 Guide for Pastoral Counseling With Couples Cohabiting Before Marriage (Diocese of Peoria, III., 1987).

22 Jn. 8:32.

23 Pontifical Council for the Family, "The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education Within the Family," 8.

© Origins, CNS Documentary Service, Catholic News Service, 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017-1100.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Saints

Catholic Online offers answers to frequently asked questions about saints. Click on a subject heading below to view questions and answers relating to your selection. Should you have any further questions, please consult our Contact Us page.

Exactly how many saints are there?
How does the Church choose saints?
When did the Church start honoring saints?
Is keeping statues or pictures of saints idolatry?

Do Catholics pray to saints?
What is a patron saint?
Is there a Feast day for every day of the year?
"Whatever happened to St. Christopher? Is he still a saint?"

Exactly how many saints are there?

There are over 10,000 named saints and beati from history, the Roman Martyology and Orthodox sources, but no definitive "head count".
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How does the Church choose saints?

Canonization, the process the Church uses to name a saint, has only been used since the tenth century. For hundreds of years, starting with the first martyrs of the early Church, saints were chosen by public acclaim. Though this was a more democratic way to recognize saints, some saints' stories were distorted by legend and some never existed. Gradually, the bishops and finally the Vatican took over authority for approving saints.

In 1983, Pope John Paul II made sweeping changes in the canonization procedure. The process begins after the death of a Catholic whom people regard as holy. Often, the process starts many years after death in order give perspective on the candidate. The local bishop investigates the candidate's life and writings for heroic virtue (or martyrdom) and orthodoxy of doctrine. Then a panel of theologians at the Vatican evaluates the candidate. After approval by the panel and cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope proclaims the candidate "venerable."

The next step, beatification, requires evidence of one miracle (except in the case of martyrs). Since miracles are considered proof that the person is in heaven and can intercede for us, the miracle must take place after the candidate's death and as a result of a specific petition to the candidate. When the pope proclaims the candidate beatified or "blessed," the person can be venerated by a particular region or group of people with whom the person holds special importance.

Only after one more miracle will the pope canonize the saint (this includes martyrs as well). The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life, is in heaven, and is to be honored by the universal Church. Canonization does not "make" a person a saint; it recognizes what God has already done.

Though canonization is infallible and irrevocable, it takes a long time and a lot of effort. So while every person who is canonized is a saint, not every holy person has been canonized. You have probably known many "saints" in your life, and you are called by God to be one yourself.
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When did the Church start honoring saints?

By the year 100 A.D., Christians were honoring other Christians who had died, and asking for their intercession. Many people think that honoring saints was something the Church set up later, but it was part of Christianity from the very beginning. As a matter of fact, this practice came from a long-standing tradition in the Jewish faith of honoring prophets and holy people with shrines. The first saints were martyrs, people who had given up their lives for the Faith in the persecution of Christians.
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Is keeping statues or pictures of saints idolatry?

Look at the pictures of your loved ones in your wallet or around your home or office. Why do you keep these particular pictures? You might answer that you carry those pictures to remind you of people you love, to help you feel that they're close to you when you're not together, or to share with people you meet. But you probably didn't say you worshipped them. Those are some of the same reasons we have statues and pictures of saints. Seeing a statue of Saint Therese of Lisieux who lost her mother when she was a child might make us feel less alone when we are grieving. A picture of Saint Francis of Assisi might remind us of how much he loved God's creation and make us more aware of our environment.
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Do Catholics pray to saints?

We pray with saints, not to them. Have you ever asked anyone to pray for you when you were having a hard time? Why did you choose to ask that person?

You may have chosen someone you could trust, or someone who understood your problem, or someone who was close to God. Those are all reasons we ask saints to pray for us in times of trouble.

Since saints led holy lives and are close to God in heaven, we feel that their prayers are particularly effective. Often we ask particular saints to pray for us if we feel they have a particular interest in our problem. For example, many people ask Saint Monica to pray for them if they have trouble with unanswered prayers, because Monica prayed for twenty years for her son to be converted. Finally her prayers were answered in a way she never dreamed of -- her son, Augustine, became a canonized saint and a Doctor of the Church.
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What is a patron saint?

Patron saints are chosen as special protectors or guardians over areas of life. These areas can include occupations, illnesses, churches, countries, causes -- anything that is important to us. The earliest records show that people and churches were named after apostles and martyrs as early as the fourth century. Recently, the popes have named patron saints but patrons can be chosen by other individuals or groups as well. Patron saints are often chosen today because an interest, talent, or event in their lives overlaps with the special area. For example, Francis of Assisi loved nature and so he is patron of ecologists. Francis de Sales was a writer and so he is patron of journalists and writers. Clare of Assisi was named patron of television because one Christmas when she was too ill to leave her bed she saw and heard Christmas Mass -- even though it was taking place miles away. Angels can also be named as patron saints.A patron saint can help us when we follow the example of that saint's life and when we ask for that saint's intercessory prayers to God.
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Is there a Feast day for every day of the year?

Well, yes and no. The official Roman calendar of feast days for celebration by the Universal Church (in other words, all over the world) does not have a saint's feast day every day. The Church chooses saints to be celebrated worldwide very carefully -- they must have a strong message for the Church as a whole. That doesn't mean that other saints are somehow less holy -- although some of the saints that have been dropped were legendary and there is little evidence they existed.

Religious orders, countries, localities, and individuals are free to celebrate the feast days of saints not listed on the universal calendar but which have some importance to them. And there are indeed feast days for saints every day of the year. As a matter of fact there are at least three saints for almost every day.

Butler's Lives of the Saints has the most complete listing of saints' feast days I have found, though I advise care in choosing the edition. Recent changes have been made to the calendar that would affect feast days.
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"Whatever happened to St. Christopher? Is he still a saint?"

Before the 1969 reform of the Roman calendar, Christopher was listed as a martyr who died under Decius. Nothing else is known about him. There are several legends about him including the one in which he was crossing a river when a child asked to be carried across. When Christopher put the child on his shoulders he found the child was unbelievably heavy. The child, according to the legend, was Christ carrying the weight of the whole world. This was what made Christopher patron saint of travelers. His former feast day is July 25.

Before the formal canonization process began in the fifteenth century, many saints were proclaimed by popular approval. This was a much faster process but unfortunately many of the saints so named were based on legends, pagan mythology, or even other religions -- for example, the story of the Buddha traveled west to Europe and he was "converted" into a Catholic saint! In 1969, the Church took a long look at all the saints on its calendar to see if there was historical evidence that that saint existed and lived a life of holiness. In taking that long look, the Church discovered that there was little proof that many "saints", including some very popular ones, ever lived. Christopher was one of the names that was determined to have a basis mostly in legend. Therefore Christopher (and others) were dropped from the universal calendar.

Some saints were considered so legendary that their cult was completely repressed (including St. Ursula). Christopher's cult was not suppressed but it is confined to local calendars (those for a diocese, country, or so forth).

Vincent de Paul quotes

Biblical Quotes

♥ Tobit 4:7: Give alms from your possessions to all who live uprightly, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from any poor man, and the face of God will not be turned away from you.

♥ Tobit 12:8-9: Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than much with wrongdoing. It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin. Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fullness of life;

♥ Sirach 3:30: Water extinguishes a blazing fire: so almsgiving atones for sin.

♥ Psalm 41:1-2: Blessed is he who considers the poor! The LORD delivers him in the day of trouble; the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; thou dost not give him up to the will of his enemies.

♥ Proverbs 6:19: It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.

♥ Proverbs 21:13: He who closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard.

♥ Luke 3:11: "He said to them in reply, "Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise."

♥ Matthew 6:3-4: But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

♥ Matthew 25:40: "And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."

♥ Mark 4:24: And he said to them, "Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.

♥ Romans 2:6: For he will render to every man according to his works:

♥ Revelation 20:13: And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.

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"The Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1965, 1966 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

St. Vincent de Paul Quotes

♥ "You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud."

♥ "However great the work that God may achieve by an individual, he must not indulge in self-satisfaction. He ought rather to be all the more humbled, seeing himself merely as a tool which God has made use of."

♥ "Humility and charity are the two master-chords: one, the lowest; the other, the highest; all the others are dependent on them. Therefore it is necessary, above all, to maintain ourselves in these two virtues; for observe well that the preservation of the whole edifice depends on the foundation and the roof."

♥ "The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it."

♥ "Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity."

♥ "You will find out that Charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the kettle of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. It is not enough to give soup and bread. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor, always smiling and good-humored. They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting master you will see. And the uglier and the dirtier they will be, the more unjust and insulting, the more love you must give them. It is only for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give to them."

♥ “No matter what others say or do, even if the wicked succeed, do not be troubled: commit everything to God and put your trust in him.”

♥ “Extend mercy towards others, so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His mercy from us?”

♥ "But do you know what it is to labor in charity? It is to labor in God, for God is charity, and it is to labor for God purely and entirely; it is to do so in the grace of God."

♥ "Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances."

♥ "We must love our neighbor as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love."

♥ "Free your mind from all that troubles you; God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this (choice) without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because he sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires."

♥ "It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer.... Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity."

♥ "Perfection consists in one thing alone, which is doing the will of God. For, according to Our Lord's words, it suffices for perfection to deny self, to take up the cross and to follow Him. Now who denies himself and takes up his cross and follows Christ better than he who seeks not to do his own will, but always that of God? Behold, now, how little is needed to become as Saint? Nothing more than to acquire the habit of willing, on every occasion, what God wills."

♥ "He who allows himself to be ruled or guided by the lower and animal part of his nature, deserves to be called a beast rather than a man."

♥ "Whoever wishes to make progress in perfection should use particular diligence in not allowing himself to be led away by his passions, which destroy with one hand the spiritual edifice which is rising by the labors of the other. But to succeed well in this, resistance should be begun while the passions are yet weak; for after they are thoroughly rooted and grown up, there is scarcely any remedy."

♥"We ought to deal kindly with all, and to manifest those qualities which spring naturally from a heart tender and full of Christian charity; such as affability, love and humility. These virtues serve wonderfully to gain the hearts of men, and to encourage them to embrace things that are more repugnant to nature."

♥ "It ought to be considered a great misfortune, not only for individuals, but also for Houses and Congregations, to have everything in conformity with their wishes; to go on quietly, and to suffer nothing for the love of God. Yes, consider it certain that a person or a Congregation that does not suffer and is applauded by all the world is near a fall."

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The Catechism of the Catholic Church

♥ 2208 The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

♥ 2443 God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: "Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you"; "you received without pay, give without pay." It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When "the poor have the good news preached to them," it is the sign of Christ's presence.

♥ 2444 "The Church's love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition." This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to "be able to give to those in need." It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.

♥ 2446 St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs." "The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity": When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.

♥ 2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:

"He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?"

♥ 2448 "In its various forms - material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death - human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Savior, who willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least of his brethren. Hence, those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere."

♥ 2449 Beginning with the Old Testament, all kinds of juridical measures (the jubilee year of forgiveness of debts, prohibition of loans at interest and the keeping of collateral, the obligation to tithe, the daily payment of the day-laborer, the right to glean vines and fields) answer the exhortation of Deuteronomy: "For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in the land." Jesus makes these words his own: "The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me." In so doing he does not soften the vehemence of former oracles against "buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals . . .," but invites us to recognize his own presence in the poor who are his brethren: When her mother reproached her for caring for the poor and the sick at home, St. Rose of Lima said to her: "When we serve the poor and the sick, we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.

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Blessed Frederic Ozanam Quotes

♥ In serving the sick, you should have God alone in view. You should not be too lenient and condescending when the sick refuse to take remedies or become too insolent, yet you must beware of showing either resentment or contempt in your demeanor toward them. On the contrary, treat the sick with respect and humility, remembering that all harshness and disdain, as well as the services and the honor you render them, are directed to our Lord himself.

♥ The order of society is based on two virtues: justice and charity. However, justice presupposes a lot of love already, for one needs to love a man a great deal in order to respect his rights, which limit our rights, and his liberty, which hampers our liberty. Justice has its limits whereas charity knows none.

♥ Charity is the Samaritan who pours oil on the wounds of the traveler who has been attacked. It is justice's role to prevent the attack.

♥ Charity must never look to the past, but always to the future, because the number of its past works is still very small and the present and future miseries that it must alleviate are infinite.

♥ Exploitation occurs when the master considers his workers not as a partner nor even as an assistant, but as an instrument out of which he must extract as much service as possible at the smallest possible price. Yet the exploitation of a man by another man is slavery. The worker-machine is nothing more than part of capital like the slaves of the ancients. Service becomes servitude.

♥ We must investigate doctrine and measures which would aim at guaranteeing for workers a correct proportion between labor and rest ... and a pension for their old age.

♥ The problem which divides people today is not a political problem; it is a social one. It is a matter of knowing which will get the upper hand, the spirit of selfishness or the spirit of sacrifice; whether society will go for ever-increasing enjoyment and profit, or for everyone devoting themselves to the common good ... Many people have too much and still want more. Others do not have enough, or do not have anything at all, and they want to take by force what is not being given to them. A war is threatening between these two groups. On one side, the power of wealth, on the other the force of desperation. We must get in between these two groups, at least to reduce the impact if we cannot stop it. Because we are young; because we are not wealthy, we can more easily fill the role of mediators.

♥ One only means of salvation remains to us, that is, that Christians, in the name of love, interpose between the two camps (of rich and poor) passing like beneficent deserters from one to the other ... communicating mutual charity to all, until this charity, paralyzing and stifling the egotism of both parties, and every day lessening their antipathies, shall bid the two camps arise and break down the barriers of prejudice, and cast aside their weapons of anger and march forth to meet each other, not to fight but to mingle together in one embrace, so that they may form but one fold under one pastor.

The following are notable quotes from St Vincent de Paul.

Go to the poor: you will find God. - St Vincent de Paul

It is from your hands that Our Lord, in the person of the sick, seeks relief. - St Vincent de Paul

Lord, help me to make time today to serve you in those who are most in need of encouragement or assistance. - St Vincent de Paul

Let us love God my brothers, let us love God. But let it be with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brow. - St Vincent de Paul

Outpourings of affection for God, of resting in his presence, of good feelings toward everyone and sentiments and prayers like these ... are suspect if they do not express themselves in practical love which has real effects. - St Vincent de Paul

In spite of my age (79), I tell you before God that I do not feel excused from the responsibility of working for the salvation of the poor. For what could really get in the way of my doing that now? If I cannot preach every day, all right, I'll preach twice a week. If I cannot preach more important sermons, I will preach less important ones. If the congregation cannot hear me at a distance, what is to prevent me from speaking in an informal, more familiar way to those poor just as I am speaking to you right now? What is to hinder me from gathering them near me just as you are sitting around me now? - St Vincent de Paul

When you are called from your prayers or the Eucharistic celebration to serve the poor, you lose nothing, since to serve the poor is to go to God. You must see God in the faces of the poor. - St Vincent de Paul

The poor have much to teach you. You have much to learn from them. - St Vincent de Paul

The net result of my experience on the matter is the judgment I have formed, that true religion - true religion, Gentlemen, true religion is to be found amongst the poor. - St Vincent de Paul

The poor are your masters. You are the servant. - St Vincent de Paul

Let us, my sisters, cherish the poor as our masters, since Our Lord is in them, and they are in Our Lord. - St Vincent de Paul

If you would like to suggest a quote that should be added to this list, please contact:

Chantelle Johnson

(02) 9560 8666