Choose a topic from Vol 2:


Proof of God's existence
God's nature
Supreme control over all things and the problem of suffering and evil


Destiny of man
Immortality of man's soul
Pre-existence denied
The human free will
Determinism absurd


Necessity of religion
Salvation of the soul
Voice of science
Religious racketeers
Divine revelation
Revealed mysteries
Existence of miracles

The Religion of the Bible

Gospels historical
Missing Books of the Bible
The Bible inspired
Biblical account of creation
New Testament problems
Supposed contradictions in Sacred Scripture

The Christian Faith

Source of Christian teaching
Jewish rejection of Christ
Christianity a new religion
Rational foundation for belief
Causes of unbelief

A Definite Christian Faith

Divisions amongst Christians
Schisms unjustified
Facing the problem
The wrong approach
Is one religion as good as another?
Obligation of inquiry
Charity and tolerance

The Protestant Reformation

Meaning of "Protestant"
Causes of the Reformation
Catholic reaction
Reformers mistaken
The idealization of Protestantism
The Catholic estimate

The Truth of Catholicism

Meaning of the word "Church"
Origin of the Church
The Catholic claim
The Roman hierarchy
The Pope
The Petrine text
St. Peter's supremacy
St. Peter in Rome
Temporal power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolicity of the Church
Indefectibility of the Church
Obligation to be a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic attitude towards the Bible
Is Bible reading forbidden to Catholics?
Protestant Bibles
The Catholic Douay Version
Principle of private interpretation
Need of Tradition
The teaching authority of the Catholic Church

The Dogmas of the Church

Revolt against dogma
Value of a Creed
The divine gift of Faith
Faith and reason
The "Dark Ages"
The claims of science
The Holy Trinity
Creation and evolution
Grace and salvation
The Sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
The Catholic Priesthood
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
The resurrection of the body
The end of the world

The Church and Her Moral Teachings

The Inquisition
Other superstitions
Attendance at Mass
Sex education
Attitude to "Free Love"

The Church in Her Worship

Magnificent edifices
Lavish ritual
Women in Church
Catholics and "Mother's Day"
Liturgical Days
Burial rites
Candles and votive lamps
The rosary
Lourdes water
The Scapular

The Church and Social Welfare

Social influence of the Church
The education question
The Church and world distress
Catholic attitude towards Capitalism
The remedy for social ills
Communism condemned
The Fascist State
Morality of war
May individuals become soldiers?
The Church and peace
Capital punishment
Catholic Action

Comparative Study of Non-Catholic Denominations

Defections from the Catholic Church
Coptic Church
Greek Orthodox Church
Anglican Episcopal Church
The "Free" or "Nonconformist" Churches
Church of Christ
Seventh Day Adventists
Plymouth Brethren
Catholic Apostolic Church or Irvingites
Salvation Army
Christian Science
British Israelism
Liberal Catholics
Witnesses of Jehovah
Buchmanism or the "Oxford Group Movement"
From Protestantism to Catholicism

To and From Rome

Conversion of Cardinal Newman
Why Gladstone refrained
The peculiar case of Lord Halifax
Gibbon the historian
Secession of Father Chiniquy
Father Tyrrell, the modernist
Bishop Garrett's departure
Judgment on lapsed Catholics
Protestant apathy towards conversion of Catholics
Principles for converts to Catholicism
God's will that all should become Catholics


596. In the Apostles' Creed Christians profess belief "in the forgiveness of sins."

Sin is undoubtedly a fact in this world; and if the true religion be for men, it cannot overlook that fact. Religion cannot abandon the sinner to himself. It is there to do something for him, and chiefly to destroy sin. The word "sin" is from the Latin word "sons" meaning "guilty"; and he who is guilty of moral evil is a sinner. Such moral evil is an offense against God.

597. No man can hurt God; and I am sure that people who do wrong have no thought of offending God.

Inability to do actual harm to God personally does not mean innocence and irresponsibility. As a matter of fact, One whom we cannot hurt because of His greatness and majesty deserves the greater reverence. And one does offend God in His designs by opposing His will of perfection and order. Moral evil introduces discord and abominations into the harmony of God's work. You say that evil-doers do not intend this, and have no thought of offending God. It may be that sinners rarely think of this aspect. Some do. But the majority rather seek to have whatever they desire, and merely ignore God's will. They would prefer to be able to sin without offending God. But that is not the wish to avoid evil. It is merely to wish that evil were good. That, however, cannot be; and they deliberately choose evil, despite God's prohibition.

598. Would you take literally Christ's words, "If thy right eye scandalise thee, pluck it out; for it is better that one of thy members should perish than that thy whole body be cast into hell"?

Those words are certainly not meant to be taken literally, for such mutilation of self would be sinful; and one can avoid sin without having to do that. Christ was driving home the lesson that sin as such, and above all grave sin, is the greatest of all evils. Speaking to the Jews He used a mode of speech with which they were quite familiar. He meant: "The salvation of your soul is your chief work." He chose a metaphor from surgery which, to save the body, has at times to amputate a limb or remove an organ--in those days a most painful business. And He meant, "Be ready to endure any suffering or trial rather than sin. Even had you to pluck out your eye or cut off your limbs--a thing which will never be necessary--deliberate sin would still be the worse alternative."

599. I heard a Catholic speak of two kinds of sin--mortal and venial. I couldn't believe my ears.

There certainly are two kinds of sin, some of a very grave character called mortal sin; others of a less grave character called venial. Mortal sins rob the soul of grace, and forfeit one's union and friendship with God. The man who deliberately disobeys the known law of God in grave and serious matters sets himself up against God, turns away from Him, and renounces His friendship. By doing so he turns his back on his eternal destiny in favor of a futile and transitory pleasure or advantage. Venial sins do not have such a far-reaching effect; but they do render one less pleasing in God's sight. The man who respects God's will in serious matters, but who offends in smaller matters, does not forfeit God's friendship altogether; and, therefore, by retaining His friendship, he maintains the true direction of his life towards God. But he does stray from the direct path of the good; and for that he will need forgiveness, and have to undergo proportionate purification of soul.

600. Evil cannot be a sin more or less; it is either a sin or it is not.

Venial sin is a sin--not "more or less" a sin. But there can be sins of more or less gravity. Sin is a crime insofar as it is a violation of God's laws. Now God is not less just than men. And crimes against human laws are of more or less gravity. Thus, we have capital crimes and penal crimes. Some offenses against civil law are so venial that the highest penalty for them is a small fine. The Judge may not inflict more. Murder, however, is in a different category altogether. It is a capital or mortal sin against the law, and can merit deprivation of life itself. Your own sense of justice will tell you that these distinctions between crimes against state laws are justified. And the same principle must apply to crimes against God's laws.Mortal sin puts one beyond the pale of God's friendship; venial sin does not do so, but it carries with it its just penalties.

601. I don't agree that there are big sins and little sins before God, as if He did not regard stealing a stamp as being just as much stealing as taking a hundred dollars!

It may be just as much stealing, but it is not stealing just as much--even in God's sight. We do not say that venial sins are little sins as if they were negligible. Though they are not so grave as mortal sins, Catholic doctrine insists that no sins, grave or less grave, are ever justified.

602. The Bible certainly gives no grounds for saying that there are two kinds of sins.

That is not so. Keep in mind that mortal sin cuts one off from God's grace and friendship, whilst venial sin does not, even though it renders the soul less pleasing in God's sight. Now the Book of Eccleciasticus, in warning us against sin, says, "He that contemneth small things shall fall little by little." XIX., I. That is, succeeding sins tend to become greater as the conscience is deadened. Proverbs XXIV., 16, tells us that even the just man falls often. In other words, whilst remaining just or justified by grace, he still has his small sins. Christ said that it would be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for Bethsaida, clearly indicating degrees in guilt. Matt. XI., 21. So, too, in Jn. XIX., 11, Christ said to Pilate, "He that hath delivered me to you hath the greater sin." We cannot say the "sin is sin," and there are no different kinds of gravity.

603. The principle is at fault. All theft is sin, and hideous in God's sight. One sin is as much a sin as another.

No one suggests that lesser sins are not sins; nor that any sin is pleasing to God. All sin is hateful to Him. But some sins are more hateful than others. You say that the principle behind this distinction is at fault. But take the principle that we owe obedience to the laws of the state. One who violates a traffic law violates the principle of obedience to law. So does the gangster who murders a fellow citizen. Will you say that one is just as much a violation of the law as the other, and hang them both? Or if we take simply theft, can you see no difference between the child who steals a cake from the cupboard and the cold-blooded miser who robs a widow of her lifesavings?

604. If there are two kinds of sins, how do you distinguish one kind from another?

By the very nature of the thing forbidden; by the necessity of particular virtues to which particular vices are opposed; and also by the extent of damage done to others where justice is concerned. For example, according to the nature of the thing forbidden, some sins are always mortal, as direct hatred of God, deliberate blasphemy, murder, adultery, etc. When measured by the necessity of virtue, a deliberate denial of one's faith is a mortal sin because it implicitly denies God. Sins against justice are measured by the seriousness of the injury done to others. The more grave the injury the graver the sin. In addition to these factors, circumstances must be taken into account, as the degree of knowledge possessed by the person offending; the degree of advertence to the law before breaking it; the extent of really malicious will entering into the evil conduct.

605. Do all Catholics understand these things?

Yes. In particular cases difficulties can arise, of course. But in all doubts the Catholic knows that he has but to submit his case to the priest who is well trained in moral theology, and the priest will tell him what is lawful or not lawful; and what is a grave violation of the law, or a venial offense. It is because they lack such help and training that non-Catholics are so confused in this matter. Where they would consult a civil lawyer in difficulties of civil law, they consult no one as to whether their conduct is within the law of God or not, and as to the gravity of that law. So they speak of one sin being just as much a sin as another, making no allowance for degrees of guilt. If such ideas were transferred from moral disease to physical disease, one would have to say: "One disease is just as much a disease as another. There are no mortal diseases as cancer and consumption, and lesser diseases as measles and mumps. The principle is the same--all diseases are opposed to the law of physical health just as all sins are opposed to the law of spiritual health." These analogies from civil law with its varying degrees of guilt, and from physical diseases with the variations in intensity, show how inadequate are your ideas of sin.

606. Does a Catholic who commits mortal sin still belong to your Church?

Yes; but as a dead member. He receives no blood from the heart of the Church, which is Divine Love. He does not obey the directing inspiration of the Church, which is the spirit of Christ. He has no right to the Eucharist, which is the bread of life, and which should be nourishing the life he lacks. Though he still associates with living members, and kneels side by side with them in the Church he attends, he is like a paralyzed limb. He has cut himself off from communion with the Church from within. And it is his duty to recover the life of grace by Confession and repentance, and thus become a living member of the Church once more.

607. Besides distinguishing between mortal sin and venial sin, you also make a distinction between original sin and actual sin?

Yes. Original sin is the inherited guilt by which we participate in the first sin committed by Adam as representative of the whole human race. Actual sins are all sins subsequent to that first sin, whether in itself or in its derivation.

608. Was the original sin a mortal sin?

Yes; that is evident from the drastic consequences.

609. You maintain that the doctrine of the fall and that of the atonement are interdependent?

That is so.

610. Since the sin of Adam was necessary to produce the atonement, why did God blame Adam?

The sin of our first parents did not produce the atonement. God produced the atonement in order to repair the sin of our parents and of all subsequent generations. And as the sin of our first parents was not necessary, but was their own morally evil choice, God rightly blamed them.

611. Were not our first parents somewhat harshly treated, to say nothing of subsequent generations?

No one would deny the severity of the treatment. And that should at least impress upon us how grave an evil in God's sight must be the moral disease called sin. But, whilst not called upon to deny the severity of the treatment, I do deny that God has treated the human race unjustly. It has deserved far more suffering than it has received, and has not deserved the great blessings God has deigned to bestow upon it.

612. In making man, why did not God make a better job of it, if He did not want man to fall into sin?

A better job could not be made of it, in view of what God wanted man to be. God's will, of course, is the ultimate criterion of the qualities and perfections to be bestowed upon His various creatures. A cabbage has not the right to complain that it is not a horse; a dog has no right to complain that it is not a man. We cannot say that God would have made a better job of a cabbage had He made it a cat instead. Since He wanted to make a cabbage, it must be content to be a cabbage. Had God wanted to make a cat, and only a cabbage resulted from His work, there might be some room to complain that a better job might have been made of it. So, in the case of a human being, endowed with intelligence and free will.Man was as perfect as possible in accordance with God's plan for him. But the gift of free will, of course, left man's destiny in his own keeping; and that included the possibility of an evil moral choice. Had that possibility not been present, man would not have had the honor and dignity of a free being; and no better job would have been made of man by depriving him of this honor and dignity.

613. If God wanted man to attain heaven, could He not have placed man there in the first place?

That would not have been in keeping with God's plan that man's destiny should be in his own hands. By his nature, man is made for earth rather than for heaven, and could have no natural right to be in heaven. God gave him all that his nature could rightly demand. In addition, God offered freely to man the prospect of an eternal supernatural happiness in heaven, provided man made a correct use of his mind and will by obedience to God's law. And He offered the help of Divine Grace for this purpose. Far from complaining that God did not do more for them, men should be grateful that He should have done so much in their favor.

614. The whole idea of the Catholic dogma concerning the fall of man and its patching up by the redemption implies folly in God, and merciless injustice.

If you think so, you cannot have a right apprehension of Catholic dogma.

615. God gave man a very weak will and provided a very strong devil to test it.

That is not true. If you wish to attack a teaching of any religion, you must first correctly state that teaching. That man's will was "very weak" and the devil "very strong" is your own invention. Again, it is opposed to Catholic teaching that God provided any devil at all. The devil, as evil, was not the work of God. An objection based on a wrong statement of Christian doctrine requires no answer save an indication that it is an effort to refute what the Christian religion does not teach.

616. Before creating Adam, God knew that he would fall.

That is true. But that was not the only thing that God knew. He knew that Adam would not be compelled to fall; and He knew also that, granted sin, side by side with His justice, His mercy would so provide for mankind that good would result from the evil; so much so that it would be infinitely better for mankind to have been created, and to fall from grace, than not to have been created at all.

617. Then God drove Adam out of the comparative safety of the Garden of Eden into a world abounding in pitfalls and dangers.

That is not a correct presentation of the case. Adam forfeited graces and privileges which were above the normal requirements of human nature, and never really due to man at all. He went from a privileged state to an unprivileged state.

618. When our first parents fell victims to an enemy far stronger than themselves, true mercy would have forgiven them.

Firstly, Adam did not fall a victim to an enemy far stronger than himself. We are dealing with sin, and sin is an evil choice of a free will. Now, even as God Himself would not coerce the will of Adam in favor of fidelity, so the devil could not coerce the will of Adam in favor of sin. He might tempt, suggest, allure; but he could not touch the will of Adam or Eve. Our first parents remained in control of their own destinies, and they were fully responsible for their choice. Secondly, mercy did grant ultimate forgiveness to them, for Scripture tells us that God drew them from their sin. (Wisd. X., 2.) But mercy itself demanded that this should be only after they had learned humility from consequent miseries. Physical sufferings are secondary when compared with wreckage of character. And if such sufferings contribute to the restoration of character they are not an unmitigated evil. Emotional pity and sentiment often lead human beings to mistake weakness for mercy. Parents who say they are too merciful to punish wrongdoing in their children are not really merciful to their children at all. They are too weak to do their duty; and how cruel they have really been is evident from the miserable and spoiled characters of those children throughout all their later years. There is something in being "cruel in order to be kind"; and God knows what is best for the welfare of human souls, whatever their circumstances.

619. True justice would have weakened the enemy to prevent further occurrence of such a catastrophe.

Your notion of weakening the enemy is based on the wrong idea that the devil had or has some compelling power over the human will, or that the human will is fully guilty where there may be present a diminished responsibility. In reality, justice does not demand the removal of the sources of temptation. Man's destiny is in his own keeping, and he must attain that destiny by the service of God and the practice of virtue. But there could be no just reward for a service of God which costs us nothing; and virtue is exercised in the midst of temptation. There is no particular virtue in being good when there is no inducement to be otherwise. It was quite just to leave us the opportunity of practicing true virtue in the midst of temptation; and it was merciful that forgiveness should be available for failures of which we repent.

620. Do you mean that we are all born in a guilty state before God?

We all commence our earthly existence without that life of Grace which would have been ours had Adam not sinned. Spiritual death is the state of every soul as individuals are born into this world. For we are all born children of wrath, as St. Paul says in Eph. II., 3. In other words, we are all born in a state of original or inherited sin.

621. Why did God give men their freedom, when He knew beforehand that so many would misuse it and be lost for eternity?

Because He knew that men need not sin; and that His knowledge of what would eventuate did not cause them to sin. Also, included in His knowledge of the fall of man was His knowledge of the Incarnation of His own Son by whose redemptive merits every single sinner from the time of Adam would have a true opportunity of salvation from eternal loss. Finally, God knew that, however many people do lose their souls, viewing creation as a whole and relatively to human beings, the sum total of good will far outweigh the sum total of evil. It is a mistake to concentrate on the thought of individuals who are lost. God had not to choose between creating only those who are lost, and not creating at all. He had to choose between not creating, and creating a whole human race, not one of whom need go to hell, and of which, if some do lose their souls, multitudes do not. Why should those who save their souls be deprived of eternal happiness because others, who need not do so, choose to sin and to die without repenting?



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