29 December 2014

Escatología Católica - Catholic eschatology

This article is bilingual, first in Spanish (except this sentence), then in English.

Síntesis de escatología general Católica

Puede describirse como amilenialismo y preterismo parcial con resurrección-transformación y arrebato post-tribulación.

0. Milenio simbólico, incluyendo la conversión de todo Israel a Cristo luego de "que entrase la plenitud de los gentiles" (Rom 11:12,25-26).

1. Tribulación (Mt 24:21-26; Mc 13:19-23; 2 Tes 2:3-12; Apoc 20:7-9 menos final de 9), seguida inmediatamente por:

2. Cataclismo cósmico (Mt 24:29; Mc 13:24-25; Lc 21:25-26; 2 Pe 3:10-12), inmediatamente antes de:

3. Segunda Venida de Jesús, unida a:
- resurrección de los muertos, con los fieles entre ellos en un estado incorruptible, o sea glorioso,
- transformación, o sea glorificación, de los fieles que estén vivos en ese momento,
- y arrebato ("rapto") de TODOS los fieles (los resucitados y los vivos y transformados) al encuentro de Jesús
(Mt 24:30-31; Mc 13:26-27; Lc 21:27; 1 Tes 4:15-17; 1 Cor 15:51-53).

4. Juicio Final.

Los puntos 2 a 4 corresponden a Apoc 20:final de 9-15.

Así, existe una versión Católica post-tribulacional del arrebato o "rapto", que es clara a partir de:

a. el uso explícito del término por S. Pablo en 1 Tes 4:17.

b. la profecía de Jesús en el discurso escatológico del Monte de los Olivos: cuando "inmediatamente después de la tribulación", en medio del cataclismo cósmico, el Hijo del Hombre venga "sobre las nubes del cielo con gran poder y gloria", "El enviará a sus ángeles con sonora trompeta, y reunirán de los cuatro vientos a sus elegidos, desde un extremo de los cielos hasta el otro" (Mt 24:29-31; también Mc 13:24-27).

c. la traducción correcta de la respuesta de Jesús a la pregunta de los discípulos (implícita en Mateo, explícita en Lucas) sobre "dónde" será su segunda venida:

"Donde esté el cuerpo, allí también serán reunidos los buitres." (Mt 24:28; Lc 17:37. Del 2º.)

En ambos pasajes, es esencial que la voz pasiva "serán reunidos" del texto original en griego sea traducida fielmente para reflejar que todos los fieles que en ese momento puedan estar en cualquier punto sobre la tierra (o incluso orbitándola) "serán reunidos" por Dios en torno a Jesús que vuelve en su gloria.

Por otro lado, la tesis de arrebato pre-tribulación no tiene sentido a partir de dos dichos de Jesús.

En primer lugar, Mt 24:22 y Mc 13:20. Porque si los elegidos fuesen a ser arrebatados ANTES de la tribulación, no habría ninguna necesidad de "acortar esos dias" (de la tribulación) "en atención a los elegidos".

En segundo lugar, la predicción y advertencia de Mt 24:23-26 y Mc 13:21-23. Porque si los elegidos fuesen a ser arrebatados ANTES de la tribulación, no tendrían ninguna necesidad de "estar alerta" por esos eventos que Jesús les estaba prediciendo.


Synthesis of Catholic general eschatology

It can be described as amillennialism and partial preterism with post-tribulational resurrection-change and rapture.

0. Symbolic millennium, including the conversion of all Israel to Christ after "the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Rom 11:12,25-26).

1. Tribulation (Mt 24:21-26; Mk 13:19-23; 2 Thess 2:3-12; Rev 20:7-9 except ending of 9).

2. Cosmic cataclism (Mt 24:29; Mk 13:24-25; Lk 21:25-26; 2 Pe 3:10-12), immediately before:

3. Jesus' Second Coming, united to:
- resurrection of the dead, with the faithful among them in an imperishable, i.e. glorious, state,
- change, i.e. glorification, of the faithful who are alive at that moment,
- and rapture of ALL the faithful (the resurrected and the alive and changed) to meet Jesus
(Mt 24:30-31; Mk 13:26-27; Lk 21:27; 1 Thess 4:15-17; 1 Cor 15:51-53).

4. Final Judgment.

Points 2 to 4 correspond to Rev 20:ending of 9-15.

Thus, there is a Catholic post-tribulational version of the rapture, which is clear from:

a. the explicit use of the term by St. Paul in 1 Thess 4:17.

b. the prophecy by Jesus in the escatological discourse on the Mount of Olives: when "immediately after the tribulation", in the middle of the cosmic cataclism, the Son of Man comes "on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory", "He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." (Mt 24:29-31; also Mk 13:24-27).

c. the correct translation of Jesus' answer to the question from the disciples (implicit in Matthew, explicit in Luke) about "where" his Second Coming will be:

"Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered." (Mt 24:28; Lk 17:37. From the 2nd.)

In both passages, it is essential that the passive construction "will be gathered" of the original text in Greek be faithfully translated to reflect that all the faithful that at that moment may be in any point on earth (or even orbiting it) "will be gathered" by God around Jesus who comes back in his glory.

On the other hand, the thesis of pre-tribulational rapture is nonsensical from two sayings of Jesus.

First, Mt 24:22 and Mk 13:20. Because if the elect were to be raptured BEFORE the tribulation, there would be no need to "cut short" "those days" (of the tribulation) "for the sake of the elect".

Secondly, the prediction and warning of Mt 24:23-26 and Mk 13:21-23. Because if the elect were to be raptured BEFORE the tribulation, they would have no need to "be on guard" for those events that Jesus was telling them beforehand.

15 December 2014

Worship of Jesus by the man born blind: a case of blind faith?

This article is extracted from the article "The trial of Jesus" at http://thetrialofjesus.blogspot.com .

There are at least three passages in the Gospels occurring at a time before Jesus' trial in which Jesus allows or prompts others to worship Him. One of them is the healing of the man born blind in John's Gospel. The use of prosekyneo in this passage is very important because, in contrast with Matthew, John uses that word, both in his Gospel and in the book of Revelation, exclusively to mean worship directed to God. I will quote it verse by verse:

9:35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
9:36 He answered, "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?"
9:37 Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you."
9:38 He said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.

There are two textual issues with this passage: first, verse 38 is omitted in a few old manuscripts of Alexandrian text-type (P75, Sinaiticus, Washingtonianus). Second, in some of the manuscripts that do have verse 38, "Son of Man" in verse 35 is changed to "Son of God".  While some scholars [4] suggest that 9:38 was introduced later into the text for its liturgical use in the baptism of adults, so that the reading would culminate in the confession of faith in Jesus by the former blind man, there is a different view [5] which I find more plausible: that the original text was as quoted above, and both the omission and the change were introduced to solve, by different NT scribes and in different directions, the perceived challenge, even to the point of scandal, resulting from the man born blind worshiping a man who called himself "the Son of Man" and who, for all the healed man APPARENTLY knew about him, could be just a prophet. Faced with that challenge, some NT scribes decided to take out the worship verse, while other scribes decided to change Jesus' self-given title to make the case for worship by the former blind man epistemically more plausible from his APPARENT viewpoint.

The challenge presented by this passage is real and pressing, as in a first reading all the possible explanations of why worshiping Jesus was the right thing to do by the healed man at that time are less than satisfactory.  From acceptable to most unacceptable, they are:

a) The man born blind had a divinely-inspired intuition that the man who had healed him was God.  Good for him, but then his case is not transferable to less fortunate folks who have to rely on their reason. (*)

b) If a man has a) given sight to a man born blind and b) called himself "the Son of Man", then those concurrent facts prove that said man is God.

c) If a man has a) given sight to a man born blind and b) called himself "the Son of Man", then it is legitimate (or mandatory?) for the healed man (or for everyone?) to worship said man, no matter whether he is God or not.

I propose a hypothesis (in my view, plausible, and as far as I know, original,) that provides the key for an intelligent (inte-legere: read into) reading of the passage that avoids these explanations: the epistemic situation of the man born blind about Jesus, at the time of their second encounter, was much better than what can be assumed in a cursory reading of the passage, as noted with the "APPARENTLY"/"APPARENT" qualifications above. The passage offers three data items that make this hypothesis plausible:

1. Focusing on 9:35, we read that Jesus "heard that they had cast him (the former blind) out (of the synagogue)".  This brings about the subject of the relationship between Jesus' human intellect and the divine Intellect, which is not really different from the divine Essence. The divine Intellect was not permanently "direcly feeding" Jesus' human intellect with the kind of information on temporal matters that ordinary people acquire by ordinary means. Although such direct infusion of earthly knowledge did happen occasionally, it was the exception and not the rule. Acquiring such information in the same way as ordinary people do was part of Jesus' self-emptying or "kenosis", of his "taking the form of a servant" (aristotelian form, not just appearance, as the previous verse says that "he was in the form of God" (Phil 2:4-7)). E.g., in the episode of the woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years (Mk 5:25-34), Jesus really did not know who had touched his garments and He really was looking around to see who had done it. And in John's Gospel, Jesus sincerely asked where they had laid Lazarus (Jn 11:34). 

Thus, in the episode at hand, Jesus really learned that the Pharisees had cast the former blind out of the synagogue by hearing about the event from a third person, probably several hours after the event. And after hearing about the event, Jesus looked for the healed man in Jerusalem just as ordinary people look for someone. Therefore it is very likely that between the expulsion of the man from the synagogue and his second encounter with Jesus there was an interval of several hours.

2. In a previous passage in John, the officers whom the chief priests and Pharisees had sent to arrest Jesus (7:32) return to their bosses, who are gathered in one place, and are scolded by them for having let themselves be impressed by Jesus' words (7:45-49). The passage adds that Nicodemus, who according to Jn 3:1 was a Pharisee and "a ruler of the Jews", i. e. a member of the Sanhedrin, was one of the Pharisees present at that time (7:50) and that he spoke in Jesus' defense at the procedural level: "Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?" (7:51).

From this passage, it is likely that Nicodemus was present also during the argument raised by the healing of the blind man. Moreover, Nicodemus' presence at that event is not just likely but very likely, because the Pharisees that spoke in Jesus' defence at this occasion, not at the procedural but at the substantial level, were more than one:

Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" And there was a division among them. (Jn 9:16)

Since not many members of the Sanhedrin were likely to speak in Jesus' defence, it is highly probable that Nicodemus was one of those "others".

At this point, I ask the reader to place himself/herself in the shoes (or rather sandals) of Nicodemus.  You not only believe that Jesus is the Son of God but also have learned from Jesus the way in which we must live, his halakha.  You have learned that the essence of that way, regarding what you must do (**), is to love God with all your being and to love your neighbour as yourself, which is also the essence of the Law (Mk 12:28-33). You have also learned that, in Jesus' way, loving your neighbour goes beyond what is required by the Law, and involves feeling compassion for your neighbour and showing mercy to him (Lk 10:25-37), thus imitating the Heavenly Father who is "merciful and compassionate". Even more precisely, it involves loving compassionately your neighbour precisely because God loves him so, and being merciful to him because God wants you to be a sign and instrument of His mercy.  (This synthesizes the core of both Christian soteriology and moral: Jesus makes us "partakers of the divine nature" in Him (2 Pe 1:4), and this projects into, and at the same time requires, partaking of his feelings and actions.)

With that mindset, you see the man being cast out of the synagogue, and probably also being avoided by people. He is in good health and able to work, but since he was born blind he now has no clue about how to go on with his life, find lodging, find a job.  He could physically work in a workshop or in the field, but what are the names of those tools? And how are they used? And where are workshops and fields, anyway?  So you feel compassion for this man who is in such complete intellectual indigence and reach out to him and start teaching him the basic knowledge necessary to go on with his life.  While at that, it would be just natural that the conversation turns at some time to the subject of this prophet who healed him.  And you, being aware of the immense good that knowing Jesus is, start telling the man what you have learned about Jesus from Jesus Himself (Jn 3:10-21): that He is much more than a prophet, He is "the Son of Man" "who descended from heaven" and "who is in heaven" (***) (Jn 3:13) predicted in Dan 7:13. After a few hours, you lead the man to a lodging where he can take shelter and part ways, giving him some coins to get through the day.

3. At that point in time, Jesus finds the man. Now, let's recall that the man has never seen Jesus yet, because Jesus sent him to "wash in the pool of Siloam" (9:7) while he was still blind, and Jesus was no longer there when the man came back seeing. Thus, when Jesus found him and asked him: "Do you believe in the Son of Man?", the former blind had no idea that the man asking that question was Jesus. Therefore, when he answered: "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?", he was not meaning: "And what are the qualifications of the Son of Man (who I know is you), that I may believe in him?" but rather: "And which of the persons around is the Son of Man (whose qualifications I already know from my own experience and Nicodemus), that I may believe in Him?"

(*) That statement will probably place me under heavy friendly fire, so a clarification is required. In faith strictly defined, what moves us to believe some revealed truth T is not the fact that T appears as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason. Rather, we believe T because of the authority of God who revealed T, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. But God does not reveal that truth T directly to each person, but through a revelatory medium M. Therefore, in order to assent to the whole truth that God has revealed, the person must first identify the medium M through which God reveals (e.g. a prophet or God incarnate Himself, while any of them is alive on earth, and thereafter a book containing his teachings, in the Protestant and Karaite views, or a book plus a tradition with both interpreted by an authoritative magisterium, in the Catholic/Orthodox and Rabbinic views).  Clearly the strict definition of faith above does not apply to the identification of M as the medium through which God reveals, which is based on rational motives of credibility.  Otherwise, a person should have to identify M as the medium through which God reveals by an assent to the truth that God reveals through M based on the authority of God who revealed (through M) said truth (i.e. that He reveals through M)! 

(**) In the Christian way the first and foremost thing is what God does in us, the new creation (Eze 36:25-29; Jn 6:28-29; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 2:10).

(***) The ending "who is in heaven" in Jn 3:13 is omitted in some old manuscripts of Alexandrian text-type (P66, P75, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Washingtonianus).  On the other hand, it appears in the works of early Christian writers such as Tatian's "Diatessaron" (c. 160-175) and Hippolytus' (170–235) "Against Noetus", and then consistently in the works of almost all Church Fathers. I share the view [6] that, just as it probably happened with the "worship" verse Jn 9:38, the ending was omitted by an NT scribe to avoid the challenge posed by Jesus telling Nicodemus that, at the same time that He was there talking to him, He was also in heaven!

In my view, it is perfectly likely that Jesus made such a clear and direct statement of his divinity to Nicodemus at an early time of his ministry if He knew, per his divine insight into minds and hearts, that Nicodemus was able to handle the challenge involved. After all, probably not much longer than a year later Jesus was telling "the Jews" in general that before Abraham came into existence, He was (Jn 8:58).


[4] http://aejt.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/421747/AEJT11.35_Final_Formatted_Theophilos_An_Assessment_of_the_Authenticity.pdf

[5] http://www.bsw.org/biblica/vol-91-2010/m-steegen-to-worship-the-johannine-son-of-man-john-9-38-as-refocusing-on-the-father/456

[6] http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/ntesources/ntarticles/gtj-nt/black-jn3-gtj-85.pdf

27 March 2014

Incompatibilidad del concepto de "animación retardada" con la Revelación cristiana

Es bien conocido el hecho de que Santo Tomás de Aquino sostenía la posición de Aristóteles ("el Filósofo") en lo referente a la infusión del alma en el ser humano: primero el embrión tenia un alma vegetativa, despues pasaba a tener un alma "sensitiva" (animal), y recién despues, a los cuarenta días de gestación en el caso de los hombres y noventa días en el caso de las mujeres, Dios le infundía el alma espiritual racional.  (Comentario a las Sentencias de Pedro Lombardo, Libro III, Distinción 3, Cuestión 5, Artículo 2, Responsio.)

Lo que no es tan conocido es el problema que esta posición presenta cuando se la considera en conjunción con la doctrina católica de la Encarnación del Verbo. Según esta doctrina, el Verbo asumió una naturaleza humana, compuesta de cuerpo y alma racional, en el momento de la concepción de Jesucristo. Por lo tanto, mientras el alma espiritual de Jesucristo fue infundida en el momento de su concepción, las de los demás hombres, según Aristóteles, serían infundidas recién a los cuarenta días de gestación.  Esta cuestión es tratada explícitamente por S. Tomás en la Suma Teológica, Parte III, Cuestión 33, Artículo 2, que puede leerse en:


El problema se percibe nítidamente en la afirmación del papa S. León Magno que S. Tomás cita en la objeción 1:

"Porque dice el papa León en su Epístola ad lulianum: La carne de Cristo no era, de distinta naturaleza de la nuestra, ni le fue infundida el alma en otro momento que a los demás hombres."

que en conjunción con lo que S. Tomás cita en el "Sed contra" de

"lo que dice el Damasceno en el libro III: Al mismo tiempo fue carne, al mismo tiempo fue carne del Verbo de Dios, al mismo tiempo fue carne animada por un alma racional e intelectual."

lleva a la conclusión lógica y directa que en los demas hombres el alma racional también es infundida en el momento de la concepción.

En vez de aceptar esta conclusión, que contradeciría al "Filósofo", S. Tomás hace, en su respuesta a la objeción 1, una distinción entre dos posibles sentidos de la condición "en otro momento que a los demás hombres", esto es "según la disposición del cuerpo" y "en relación con el tiempo", y restringe la afirmación del papa León a solamente el primero:

"El momento de la infusión del alma puede considerarse de dos modos. Uno, según la disposición del cuerpo. Y así el alma no fue infundida en el cuerpo de Cristo en un momento distinto al que lo es en los demás hombres. Como, una vez formado el cuerpo de un hombre, al instante le es infundida el alma, así sucedió en Cristo. Otro, considerando dicho momento sólo en relación con el tiempo. Y bajo este aspecto, por haber sido perfectamente formado el cuerpo de Cristo con anterioridad temporal, también fue animado antes."

De modo que, para compatibilizar las afirmaciones del papa S. León Magno y de S. Juan Damasceno con la doctrina del "Filósofo", S. Tomás postula que el cuerpo de Cristo llegó al estado de formacion que lo hacia apto para recibir un alma espiritual ANTES que los demas hombres: mientras el embrión de un hombre cualquiera llega al estado de formación que lo hace apto para recibir un alma espiritual recién a los cuarenta dias de gestación, el cuerpo de Jesús fue concebido directamente en ese estado de formación. Esto lo vuelve a afirmar, con mayor claridad aún, en la respuesta a la objeción 3:

"En la generación de los demás hombres se cumple lo que dice el Filósofo, ya que su cuerpo se forma y se va disponiendo sucesivamente con vistas al alma. De donde, primeramente, como imperfectamente dispuesto, recibe un alma imperfecta; y después, cuando está dispuesto perfectamente, recibe el alma perfecta. Pero el cuerpo de Cristo, debido al poder infinito del agente, estuvo perfectamente dispuesto al instante. Por eso al punto, en el primer instante, recibió la forma perfecta, es decir, el alma racional."

El problema con esa posición es que implica lógica e ineludiblemente una de las siguientes dos posibilidades:

- o bien el embarazo de la Virgen María duró siete meses y veinte días, y no nueve meses,

- o bien, si el embarazo duró nueve meses, Jesús tenía al nacer un tamaño considerablemente mayor que el promedio de los niños recién nacidos.

Notablemente, S. Tomás mismo es perfectamente consciente de este problema, y, más aún, de que esas conclusiones contradicen sendas afirmaciones de S. Agustín y del papa S. León Magno, como se ve claramente en la objeción 2, que cito cambiando la forma original de negación a la de afirmación condicional:

Si "el cuerpo de Cristo, en el primer instante de su concepción," hubiese tenido "tanta cantidad (de materia) como la que tienen los cuerpos de los demás hombres cuando son animados", ... "en caso de haber crecido continuamente, o hubiera nacido más pronto, o al nacer hubiera tenido mayor cantidad (de materia) que los otros niños. Lo primero va contra Agustín, en el libro IV De Trín., donde prueba que permaneció por espacio de nueve meses en el seno de la Virgen; lo segundo se opone al papa León, que en un sermón sobre la Epifanía dice: Encontraron al Niño Jesús, que en nada se distinguía de la generalidad de la infancia humana."

Es entonces crítico examinar la respuesta que S. Tomás da a esta objeción 2, que es lo que haré a continuación.

"El alma requiere la debida cantidad en la materia en la que es infundida;"

Totalmente de acuerdo.  En lo que discrepamos con Aristóteles y S. Tomás es en cuál es esa "debida cantidad" de materia.  Nosotros afirmamos que es una sola célula, en el instante de la concepción.

"pero tal cantidad tiene cierta amplitud, puesto que se salva tanto en la cantidad mayor como en la menor."

Interpreto esto como que dice que hay un rango de valores aceptables en la cantidad de materia requerida para la infusión del alma. Presuponiendo la posición aristotélica, es una afirmación razonable.

"La cantidad (de materia) que tiene el cuerpo al serle infundida inicialmente el alma es proporcionada a la cantidad perfecta a que llegará por el crecimiento, de manera que los hombres más corpulentos tienen mayor cantidad en su primera animación."

Siempre presuponiendo la posición aristotélica, ésta también es una afirmación razonable: si la relacion de los tamaños corporales en la edad adulta de un hombre A y otro B es 1.3, la relacion de los tamaños corporales de sus embriones en los momentos respectivos de infusión del alma es también 1.3.

"Y Cristo en la edad perfecta tuvo una grandeza conveniente y mediana,"

Aquí afirma que el tamaño del cuerpo de Cristo en la edad adulta fue el tamaño promedio de los hombres, lo cual está claramente de acuerdo con los Evangelios, que no dan a entender de ningún modo que Jesús haya tenido un tamaño corporal notablemente mayor que el promedio.  Combinando esta última afirmación con la inmediata anterior, se infiere necesariamente que el tamaño del cuerpo de Jesús en el momento de la infusión de su alma era el tamaño promedio de los hombres en el momento de la infusión de las suyas.

Ahora bien, por un lado sabemos por la fe que la infusión del alma de Jesús ocurrió en el momento de su concepción, mientras que, por otro lado, "el Filósofo" afirma que la infusión del alma en los hombres ocurre a los cuarenta días de gestación.  Combinando ambos conceptos con la conclusión del párrafo anterior, concluimos necesariamente que el tamaño del cuerpo de Jesús en el momento de su concepción era el tamaño promedio de los hombres a los cuarenta dias de gestación.  ¿Qué dice S. Tomás respecto a esta conclusión ineludible? Primero, continuando la oración citada anteriormente:

"con la que estaba proporcionada la cantidad de su cuerpo en el momento en que son animados los cuerpos de los otros hombres,"

Aqui parece decir, aunque no es totalmente claro, que el tamaño del cuerpo de Jesús, en el momento de serle infundida su alma, debía ser el tamaño promedio del cuerpo de los otros hombres en el momento de serles infundidas las suyas.  Hasta aquí su razonamiento sería correcto, pero luego dice que...

"aunque tuvo una cantidad menor en el inicio de su concepción."

¡Con esto S. Tomás contradice de un modo totalmente arbitrario sus propias afirmaciones anteriores!  ¿No era que "La cantidad (de materia) que tiene el cuerpo al serle infundida inicialmente el alma es proporcionada a la cantidad perfecta a que llegará por el crecimiento, de manera que los hombres más corpulentos tienen mayor cantidad en su primera animación"?  Si esto es así, y si además "Cristo en la edad perfecta tuvo una grandeza conveniente y mediana," o sea si el tamaño del cuerpo de Cristo en la edad adulta fue el tamaño promedio de los hombres, ¿por qué no habría tenido también el tamaño promedio de los hombres al serle infundida el alma?

¿Solucionará S. Tomás esta contradicción arbitraria en el texto que falta de la respuesta a la objeción 2? Veamos:

"Sin embargo, tal cantidad no era tan pequeña que no se salvara en ella la noción de cuerpo animado, pues en una cantidad parecida son animados los cuerpos de algunos hombres pequeños."

Claramente no la soluciona en absoluto, porque aplicando ahora la regla de que "La cantidad (de materia) que tiene el cuerpo al serle infundida inicialmente el alma es proporcionada a la cantidad perfecta a que llegará por el crecimiento, de manera que los hombres más corpulentos tienen mayor cantidad en su primera animación", se llega a la conclusión de que Jesús debía haber tenido en la edad adulta un tamaño corporal mucho menor que el tamaño promedio de los hombres, lo cual está en contradicción con la afirmación, claramente verdadera, de que "Cristo en la edad perfecta tuvo una grandeza conveniente y mediana". 

Conclusión: el intento de Santo Tomás de Aquino de compatibilizar el concepto aristotélico de "animación retardada" con la Revelación cristiana fracasa de un modo patente y categórico, indigno de la calidad de la obra de Santo Tomás. Este fracaso ocurre directamente por una burda auto-contradicción dentro del mismo argumento, sin que jueguen rol alguno los conocimientos de la biología contemporánea.

Dado que la adopción por parte de Santo Tomás del concepto de "animación retardada", también llamado de "hominización tardía", ha dado pie para que gente profundamente equivocada y/o de mala voluntad argumente que el aborto durante las primeras semanas de gestación es moralmente aceptable en la doctrina tradicional católica, estoy seguro de que, si Santo Tomás desde el Cielo leyese este artículo, compartiría totalmente la dureza con la que califico el fracaso de su intento de conciliar ese concepto con la Revelación cristiana.

14 July 2013

Scriptural support for a teaching in LG 16 and GS 22

I have just realized that today's liturgical reading of Luke's Gospel, together with another Gospel passage, provides strong scriptural support for a teaching in LG 16 and GS 22, in the passages quoted by CCC 847-848 and 1260 respectively.  From today's reading:

And a scholar of the Law stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?"

And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."

(Lk 10: 25-28)

After reading this passage, many Christians - RC, EO and Protestant alike - if it were not for the fact that they have got used to reading it, would probably feel the impulse of jumping and saying to the Lord: "Wait a moment Lord, You have not mentioned faith in You and baptism! How can anyone inherit eternal life without first believing in You as the Eternal and Consubstantial Son of God and being baptized in your Name?  RCs and EOs certainly believe that, after that, the faithful must love God and neighbor to remain partakers of divine life (1 Jn 3: 15,17), but they must first believe and be baptized to become that!"

The problem for those hypothetical startled Christians is that there is another passage in which the Lord said the same thing, even more clearly:

And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?"

And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."

He said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

(Mt 19: 16-19)

Again, the startled Christian would object: "Wait a moment Lord, those are the requirements to remain in eternal life (for RCs and EOs, at least), not to enter into it!  We can obtain eternal life only by believing in You as the Son of God and being baptized!"

The beginning of the solution to this problem is precisely in the different text of the beginning of the second passage in the other two versions of it, i.e. those of Mark and Luke:

A ruler questioned Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

(Lk 18: 18-19)

While a trivial first reading of this passage is that Jesus denies his divinity, an enlightened reading is that Jesus is saying: "Why do you call Me good, if you have NOT yet come to know that I and the Father are one (Jn 10: 30), each of Us being able to say "I Am Who I Am" as in the burning bush (Ex 3: 14)? No one is good except God alone."  With this reading, it becomes clear that the quoted first part of Jesus' answer to the young rich person, or "ruler", is that which applies to any person of good will who, through no fault of their own, does NOT know that Jesus is the Consubstantial Son of God.  Which was also the case of the scholar of the Law in the first passage. Any such persons "who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience (enlightened, in the case of the people in the quoted passages, by the divinely revealed commandments) – those too may achieve eternal salvation." (LG 16)

17 August 2012

Creation of man: concordance between scientific findings and the Genesis account according to its Pauline interpretation

The conceptual framework of divine creation of biological beings by means of evolution (theistic evolution) does not address the creation of true human beings as such, as opposed to just their biological layer, because essential to a true human being is a spiritual soul which can only derive from a direct creative act from God.  This is an essential point in Christian faith: a true human being is not a purely biological being, and his spiritual soul does not arise from his biological layer (or from the souls of his parents), but involves a direct creative act from God.

With that in mind, the central issue regarding the creation of true human beings is: how did direct divine creation of spiritual souls start?

- With only two beings-made-truly-human, a man and a woman, as Genesis says? (the "historical Adam" position)

- Or with a few thousand beings-made-truly-human (at the same time), to accomodate the fact that genetic data suggests that there has never been a population bottleneck of fewer than a few thousand individuals, humans or previous hominins? (the "symbolical Adam" position)

And even more importantly: does Paul's argument in Romans 5:12-19, which speaks of "Adam", "one man" and "one trespass", still work with the "symbolical Adam" position?  This question is an issue of biblical interpretation, and for Roman Catholics the answer is in the negative, as RCs believe that the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone, and that teaching office has thus spoken on the subject in consideration:

"When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own." (Pius XII's 1950 Encyclical "Humani Generis", 37)

Therefore the issue for any scientifically-minded Christian who - whatever his denomination - embraces the "historical Adam" position becomes: can that position be made compatible with current scientific findings?  After studying the issue, we see two possible "concordant conceptual frameworks" (CCFs) whereby it can.  One, which we call CCF1, involves only natural processes at the biological level.  The other, which we call CCF2, involves a high degree of miraculous divine intervention at the biological level to provide genetic diversity to the germinal cells of Biblical Adam and Eve and the first n generations of their descendants.

We will use this notation:

t-men = true men = theological men = metaphysical men = with an infused spiritual soul

q-men = quasi men = biologically identical to t-men but without an infused spiritual soul

immediate-previous-hominins = individuals of the immediate ancestral species to q-men/t-men

where "men" above can be replaced by "women" or "people" as fit, keeping in mind that q-people were not really persons from the theological or metaphysical viewpoints, as they had no spiritual soul.

We have two possible cases for the creation of the first two t-people, Biblical Adam & Eve:

1U: Spiritual-only Upgrade

In this case q-people were brought into existence by way of biological evolution.  When there were at least several thousand of q-people around, God created Biblical Adam & Eve by producing in two q-people a spiritual-only "upgrade": they were biologically identical to the surrounding q-people, differing only by having been infused a spiritual soul.

2U: Physical & Spiritual Upgrade

In this case there were no q-people, and God created Biblical Adam & Eve by producing in two individuals engendered by immediate-previous-hominin parents both a physical and a spiritual "upgrade": at the biological level, at least a brain-enhancing macro-mutation, plus the infusion of a spiritual soul.

To note, Biblical Adam & Eve are the only t-people for which infusion of a spiritual soul could have occurred at any time after birth (and in our personal opinion, it probably occurred after they had become independent of their respective q- or immediate-previous-hominin parents).  In the case of all their descendants, infusion of the soul took place at conception.

Next we will present the constraints that both CCFs must satisfy.  First, 3 constraints coming from the side of science:

C1. Current scientific evidence for all living people being descended patrilineally from one most recent common ancestor or MRCA, "Y-chromosomal Adam", who lived approx. 142 KY ago.


The American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 88, Issue 6, 10 June 2011, Pages 814-818


A Revised Root for the Human Y Chromosomal Phylogenetic Tree: The Origin of Patrilineal Diversity in Africa

Fulvio Cruciani, Beniamino Trombetta, Andrea Massaia, Giovanni Destro-Bisol, Daniele Sellitto, Rosaria Scozzari

Abstract: To shed light on the structure of the basal backbone of the human Y chromosome phylogeny, we sequenced about 200 kb of the male-specific region of the human Y chromosome (MSY) from each of seven Y chromosomes belonging to clades A1, A2, A3, and BT. ... An estimate of 142 KY was obtained for the coalescence time of the revised MSY tree, which is earlier than that obtained in previous studies and easier to reconcile with plausible scenarios of modern human origin.

To note, the researchers were not from a Pontifical University but from Sapienza Università di Roma, a place where the Pope has not been exactly welcome lately.

C2. Current scientific evidence for all living people being descended matrilineally from one MRCA, "Mitochondrial Eve", who lived approx. 174 KY ago.


Theoretical Population Biology, Volume 78, Issue 3, November 2010, Pages 165-172


Alternatives to the Wright–Fisher model: The robustness of mitochondrial Eve dating

Krzysztof A. Cyran, Marek Kimmel

C3. Current scientific evidence for no human or pre-human population bottleneck ever that was smaller than a few thousand individuals.

Then, 2 constraints coming from the side of faith:

C4. Genesis chapters 1-3, interpreted in neither a literal nor a purely symbolic way, but in a way in which they, "in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, ... state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation" (Pius XII's 1950 Encyclical "Humani Generis", 38).

This constraint is satisfied by both CCF1 and CCF2, as it is evident that, from the theological and metaphysical viewpoints, both q-people and immediate-previous-hominins, like chimps or gorillas, were just "dust of the ground".

C5. Pauline and consequent Catholic teaching on original sin, which requires (and cares only about) a historical individual Adam as patrilineal ancestor of all human beings and teaches fatherly transmission of original sin, as stated in:

- St Paul's treatment of the subject in Romans 5:12-19, which speaks only of "Adam", "one man" and "one trespass", and does not even mention Eve.

- St Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica II-I, Question 81, Article 5 (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2081.htm): "original sin is transmitted to the children, not by the mother, but by the father."

- Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session V, Decree concerning original sin, canons 1-4 (http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct05.html), which speaks only of "Adam" and "one man", and does not even mention Eve.

- Pius XII's 1950 Encyclical "Humani Generis", 37, quoted at the beginning of this article.

To note, this constraint can be used by non-RC Christians by selecting only its Pauline part.

And finally, one somewhat loose observational constraint:

C6. Zoological and historical evidence on how groups of chimps or people deal with other groups competing for the same land (relevant only to CCF1).

We will cover first CCF2, which works equally well with both creation cases 1U and 2U.  It was originally proposed by Drew in Professor Coyne's blog on a comment dated June 2, 2011 at 9:07 am:


and subsequently selected by Professor Coyne in this post:


as the best way to reconcile Genesis narrative and genetic data regarding overall theological and biological plausibility. It is:

"Roughly 140,000 years ago God slightly tinkered with the genes of two existing hominin pairs to ensure that the next baby they each had would have brains which were capable of interacting with a soul. These two individuals, one male and one female were Adam and Eve. God then imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, this allowed that each of Adam and Eve’s children would not be genetic siblings so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had preceded Adam and Eve, which had evolved through natural processes, but was distinct enough that it allowed for the brains of the offspring also to interact with a soul. One consequence of this modification was that it gave the F1 generation enough genetic diversity to appear as though they sprang up from a large pool of existing ancestors. It may also have been necessary that for a few generations following F1 that the individuals continued to have the variable germ cells to further protect the offspring from inbreeding defects."

As t-men mated with only t-women, it is irrelevant whether the creation case is 1U or 2U.

In CCF2 Biblical Adam is Y-chromosomal Adam, and Biblical Eve is Mitochondrial Eve.  This requires applying some "flexibility" to the date of Y-chromosomal Adam to make it match that of Mitochondrial Eve (whose determination is in principle more robust), which is the main drawback of CCF2 (regarding exclusively the fulfillment of constraints).  Aside from that, CCF2 clearly satisfies C1, C2 and C3 by design.  Satisfaction of C1 implies in turn satisfaction of C5.

We must point out that CCF2 has the same conceptual disadvantage as the creationist view that the universe was created 7500-7200 years ago looking as if it were much older, including scattered fossils on earth of animals that never actually existed.  In this case, mankind would look as if there has never been a population bottleneck smaller than a few thousand people while in fact we are all descended from only two people.  Although to be fair, we must also point out that the high degree of divine intervention in CCF2, in contrast with the creationist view of the age of the universe, not only or even mainly would have had the purpose of fulfilling the literal narrative of Genesis but also, and much more importantly, would have had the practical purpose of enabling mankind to achieve a healthy level of genetic diversity without having to resort to mating with beings that, while physically humans, were metaphysically animals.  Still, in our view CCF1 presented below is just as plausible both theologically and biologically, though it might seem somewhat shocking to some Christians.  And moreover, CCF2 and CCF1 could have coexisted, obviously with creation case 1U only, with God willing to perform miraculous genetic intervention as needed if t-men would not mate with q-women.

CCF1, which works best with creation case 1U, is as follows:

Biblical Adam is Y-chromosomal Adam.  Mitochondrial Eve could be either Biblical Eve or a matrilineal ancestor thereof, as explained below.

Biblical Adam and Eve themselves had intercourse only with each other.

Starting with Adam's children, or perhaps grandchildren, t-people, and specifically t-men, had to start dealing with q-people competing for the same land, and they took care of them in the typical way chimps or people deal with other groups competing for the same land: by killing them all, with the exception of young attractive q-women, which were spared to be used as "wives", or more exactly sex slaves.  (Hey, they looked as good as t-women but did not talk!  What else could a hard-working, hard-fighting t-man ask for?  This humorous comment is meant to remind readers that we are dealing with fallen men.) Thus, the restriction is simply that t-men mated with q-women as extensively as needed to satisfy C3 above, but t-women never mated with q-men.

Here an objection could be raised about why a similar degree of interbreeding did not occur with Neanderthals or Denisovans in Eurasia after the Out-of-Africa event (if any such interbreeding occurred at all [1]).  The answer is quite simple: as the Neanderthal and Denisovan lineage had diverged from the lineage leading to t-men around 800-600 KY ago, Neanderthal and Denisovan females, in contrast with q-women, looked really awful from the perspective of t-men, so that very few t-men (if any at all [1]) had such a terribly bad taste or were in such dire sexual need as to take them as sexual slaves.

Regarding the offspring resulting from t-men having intercourse with q-women, there are two possible cases that satisfy C2:

I1: Interbreeding resulted in t-men who were reproductively viable.  Either there was no female offspring, or that female offspring was sterile. In this case Biblical Eve is Mitochondrial Eve.  This case is implausible from a biological viewpoint, and also, by implying simultaneity of Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, has the same drawback as CCF2: it requires applying some "flexibility" to the date of Y-chromosomal Adam to make it match that of Mitochondrial Eve (whose determination is in principle more robust).

I2: Interbreeding resulted in both t-men and t-women who were reproductively viable.  In this case Mitochondrial Eve was the matrilineal MRCA of BOTH Biblical Eve AND all the q-women that t-men mated with.  This case is biologically plausible and can directly fit the current most probable dates for Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve.

Leaving aside the mentioned drawback in case I1, CCF1 clearly satisfies C1, C2 and C3 by design. Satisfaction of C1 implies in turn satisfaction of C5. C6, though a much more loose constraint than the others, is also satisfied.  Whereby we can now broaden our treatment of C4 by focusing on another, usually overlooked passage: Genesis 6:1-4, where we add between parentheses the corresponding elements of this framework, to show their remarkable (and quite unexpected by this blogger) degree of concordance:

When human beings (q-people) began to grow numerous on the earth and daughters (q-women) were born to them,

the sons of God (t-men) saw how beautiful the daughters of human beings (q-women) were, and so they took for their wives whomever they pleased.

Then the LORD said: My spirit shall not remain in human beings forever, because they are only flesh. Their days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years. (Therefore the interbreeding was against divine will, as would be expected.) 

The Nephilim appeared on earth in those days, as well as later, (could "later" refer to the much less frequent intercourse with Neanderthals and Denisovans after Out-of-Africa - if any such interbreeding occurred at all [1]?) after the sons of God (t-men) had intercourse with the daughters of human beings (q-women), who bore them children. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. (this seems to imply that those "children" born by q-women were only male, which would support I1 above.)

At this point some shocked Christian could argue: How could it be that God would have planned that the formation of mankind, at least at the level of its genetic diversity, be carried out through immoral actions?  And the Christian answer is quite straightforward: Did not God plan that the redemption (new creation) of mankind be carried out through evil human actions like the betrayal of Judas and the condemnation of Jesus by the Sanhedrin?

In neither case did God positively order or even approve the respective evil human actions.  Rather, from eternity, He foresaw them, permitted them, and included them in his creative/redemptive plan (CCC 311-312, 599-600).

[1] A recent study shows that the excess polymorphism shared between Eurasians and Neanderthals (and possibly also that shared between Australians and Melanesians and Denisovans) is compatible with scenarios in which no hybridization occurred:
Eriksson and Manica (2012). "Effect of ancient population structure on the degree of polymorphism shared between modern human populations and ancient hominins". Online at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/08/14/1200567109.full.pdf

18 August 2010

On launching a joint study on the Shroud to ascertain whether it was stolen in 1204

This post will be of a completely different nature than all the previous posts related to the issues of doctrinal disagreement between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. While previously I have focused on truth (orthodoxy) I will now focus on charity (orthopraxis). And the best introduction for this topic is probably what Jonathan Andrew Deane wrote in comment #130 to this article of his authorship (emphasis added):

Consequently, the commitment to ecumenism must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today. All together, they are invited by the ever fresh power of the Gospel to acknowledge with sincere and total objectivity the mistakes made and the contingent factors at work at the origins of their deplorable divisions.

Pope John Paul II said in his book "Crossing the threshold of hope" chapter 22: "It is legitimate to affirm that between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox the difference is not very deep. ... At the same time, we must also note that the difficulties of psychological and historical nature are sometimes greater in the Orthodox Churches than in some of the communities born from the Reformation." Clearly the only way to overcome those "difficulties of psychological and historical nature" is by practicing charity, which "does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth" (1 Cor 13:6) and must be practiced "not in word or speech but in deed and truth" (1 Jn 3:18). But the practice of charity involves keeping the Commandments, including "you shall not steal". And if someone has sinned against this commandment, they must repair the harm caused, returning the stolen goods (CCC #1459). "Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven" (CCC #2487). And in the case of theft, "in virtue of commutative justice, reparation for injustice committed requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner: ... Those who, directly or indirectly, have taken possession of the goods of another, are obliged to make restitution of them" (CCC 2412).

I said before that I honestly believe that the One Church founded by Jesus subsists in the Catholic Church in communion with the See of Rome. But how can the See of Rome ask the Eastern Orthodox Churches to acknowledge its primacy of jurisdiction and its infallibility while it retains property that was stolen from them? And that stolen property is none other than the most precious Christian relic, the Shroud of Turin. There has been an overwhelming accumulation of solid evidence that the Shroud is the same relic as the "Mandylion" that was taken in an undetermined date to Edessa, where it was discovered in the city walls between 525 and 544 AD and placed in a church built specially for the relic, in which it was until 944, when the byzantine emperor Romanos I Lekapenos moved it from Edessa to Constantinople. There it was kept in the Imperial Palace until 1204, when it was taken to Athens and then to France as a result of the sack of Constantinople in the infamous Fourth Crusade.

Thus charity, by its requirement of justice and truth, demands that the Holy See, in view of the evidence accumulated recently - particularly by research conducted by staff of the Vatican Archives -, make an offer to the Patriarchate of Constantinople to undertake a joint scientific and historical study to ascertain whether the Shroud of Turin was indeed stolen from Constantinople in 1204, so that, if the study concludes in the affirmative, the relic will be handed over to the Patriarchate or whoever they designate (as it is possible that the Patriarch might not perceive Istanbul as the optimal location for the Shroud). This is legally possible because ownership of the Shroud passed to the Holy See in 1983.

The evidence comprises the following items (note particularly items 5, 7 and 8):

1) A greek manuscript with the sermon of Archdeacon Gregory of Hagia Sofia the day the relic arrived to Constantinople (15 August 944) [1]. This sermon had been lost, but was rediscovered in the Vatican Archives (Codex Vaticanus Graecus 511) and translated by Mark Guscin in 2004 [2].

2) A miniature from 1081 (Miniatura Skylitres (1081-1118)) showing emperor Romanos I Lekapenos (920-944) kissing the Shroud when it arrived from Edessa. In the scene the Shroud is unfolded and the emperor kisses the part of the head while other person holds the cloth. (Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, vitrina 26, 2, folio 131, r).

3) The cloth is in the catalog of relics of the Imperial Palace of Constantinopla made by the Nicholas Soemundarson (Thingeyrensis), an Icelandic pilgrim in 1157 [3]. It is also in a list from 1201 made by Nicholas Mesarites, the skeuophylax (overseer) of the treasuries in the Pharos Chapel of the Boucoleon Palace of the emperors in Constantinople [4].

4) The account by knight Robert de Clari of the Fourth Crusade [5]:

"There was another of the churches which they called My Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, where was kept the sydoines in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which stood up straight every Friday so that the features of Our Lord could be plainly seen there. And no one, either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this sydoines after the city was taken."

5) A letter dated 1 August 1205, written by Theodore Angelos aka Theodore Komnenos Doukas, who was cousin of two former byzantine emperors and second uncle of former emperor Alexios IV Angelos (the one who had enticed the Crusaders to seize Constantinople), and addressed to Pope Innocent III [6]:

"Theodore Angelus wishes long life for Innocent [III], Lord and Pope at old Rome, in the name of Michael, Lord of Epirus and in his own name. In April of last year a crusading army, having falsely set out to liberate the Holy Land, instead laid waste the city of Constantine. During the sack, troops of Venice and France looted even the holy sanctuaries. The Venetians partitioned the treasures of gold, silver, and ivory while the French did the same with the relics of the saints and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death and before the resurrection. We know that the sacred objects are preserved by their predators in Venice, in France, and in other places, the sacred linen in Athens . . . Rome, Kalends of August, 1205"

6) Nicholas of Otranto, abbot of Casole monastery in southern Italy, travelled in 1205 with the papal legate, Benedict of St. Susanna to Constantinople. The most plausible interpretation of his account in 1207 is that he saw the burial linens of Jesus "with their own eyes" outside the capital, probably in Athens [7].

7) Max Frei, a renowned Zurich criminologist, in 1973 took pollen samples and identified a total of 58 different pollens on the Shroud. According to him, these pollens are native to areas around:
- the Dead Sea and the Negev
- the Anatolian Steppe of central and western Turkey (which includes Edessa)
- the immediate environs of Constantinople
- Western Europe

8) Barbara Frale, a researcher at the Vatican Secret Archives [8], announced in 2009 that, as part of her study of the trial of the Knights Templar, she had brought to light a document (the Chinon Parchment) in which Arnaut Sabbatier, a young Frenchman who entered the order in 1287, testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to “a secret place to which only the brothers of the Temple had access”. There he was shown “a long linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man” and instructed to venerate the image by kissing its feet three times [9].

This fits with the concidence between the name of one of the Knights Templar burned at the stake in 1314 with the Grand Master Jacques de Molay, Geoffroi de Charney (first name sometimes spelled Geoffrey, surname sometimes spelled de Charnay and de Charny), and the first documented owner of the Shroud in Europe, Geoffroi de Charny (first name sometimes spelled Geoffrey), who very probably was nephew of the former.

Those who support this initiative, apart from making statements to that effect in their sites or blogs, may want to send correspondence to:

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

President: H. E. Kurt Card. Koch

Pontifical Council for Culture

Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church

Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology

President (of all 3 above): H. E. Gianfranco Card. Ravasi

Notably, then Msgr. Ravasi prepared the meditations for the Way of the Cross on Good Friday 2007, which featured biblical stations, as opposed to traditional [10]. At the station "Jesus is denied by Peter", Msgr. Ravasi reflected upon

all of us who daily make petty betrayals, protecting ourselves with cowardly justifications, letting ourselves be overcome with base fears. But, like the Apostle, we too can take the road that brings us to Christ’s gaze and we can hear him give us the same charge: you, too, "once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers!"

Let's pray that Card. Ravasi can make the case to the Successor of Peter that turning back from the betrayals of past generations may be the only path to be able again to strenghthen his Eastern brothers.

(Updated after Msgrs. Koch and Ravasi became cardinals in November 2010.)


[1] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Gregory_Referendarius.htm

[2] http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/guscin3.pdf

[3] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Soemundarson.htm

[4] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Mesarites.htm

[5] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Robert_Of_Clari.htm


[6] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Theodore_Angelus.htm

[7] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Of_Otranto.htm

[8] http://asv.vatican.va/en/pers/personale/Barbara_Frale.htm


[9] http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/researcher_knights_templar_trial_records_indicate_possession_of_shroud_of_turin/

http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_quo/cultura/079q04a1.html (in Italian)

http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_quo/cultura/137q05a1.html (in Italian)

[10] http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/2007/documents/ns_lit_doc_20070406_via-crucis_en.html

Discerning where the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus subsists

It is important at this juncture to state plainly the main purpose of this site: help people make their way to the fullness of the knowledge and love of God by becoming members of Jesus Christ in his mystical body which is the Catholic Church. This is the one Universal Church in which subsists the fullness of Christ's body united with its Head, the Church that receives from Christ "the fullness of the means of salvation" which He has willed:

1. correct and complete confession of faith,

2. full sacramental life, and

3. ordained ministry in apostolic succession (which is a prerequisite for 2).

Additionally, this Catholic Church, by enjoying continued divine assistance including infallible magisterial authority, does not suffer from the problems of ecclesiastical deism and definition of the scriptural canon that affect Protestantism.

Let's place ourselves for a moment in the shoes of the people making that journey. They see a menu of "totalities of particular Churches in communion with one another" that might in principle be "the" one Catholic Church founded by Christ: RC, EO, OO and SSPX (the last included only as theoretical example), in order of decreasing volume. Then they start to narrow the menu by making these initial steps:

- Regarding SSPX, it is impossible that, if until 1962 the RC was "the" Church, then at Vatican II only one RC bishop (Lefebvre) was right and all the other RC bishops and the Pope were wrong. So this option is discarded.

- Regarding OO, it is necessary to examine the historical context of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. This is because the discernment of whether the Catholic Church subsists in the RC, EO or OO candidates cannot possibly be done by using principles specific to any of the candidates. Therefore the following facts must be checked:

- Second (“Robber” for RCs and EOs) Council of Ephesus in 449: 130 attendants. Council of Chalcedon in 451: at least 370 attendants, who in their overwhelming majority signed its confession of faith.

- Was the high number of diophysite attendants in Chalcedon due to the diophysite side having embarked on a massive consecration of bishops during the run-up to the Council in order to tilt the vote to their favor? No.

- Were many of those signing the diophysite position pressed in any way by the emperor so as to render their vote invalid? No.

Therefore the OO option is discarded.

Thus those comprising the target audience of this site have to choose between the RC and EO options. The choice is not trivial because the issues of doctrinal disagreement between RCs and EOs (mainly Filioque, Papal Primacy and those related to Palamism) are serious enough that, as a consequence, the technical position of each side is that the other side is in material heresy in a number of matters (even when members of a particular side may choose not to use the h-word for reasons of charity or courtesy). As a result, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus subsists in only one of the two sides. Notably, each side has a completely different view on the consequences of this objective reality on the status of the other side regarding possession of the means of salvation listed above. Thus:

- RCs believe that EOs lack 1 but have 2 and 3.

- most EOs believe that RCs lack 1, 2 and 3.

Let's review the issues of doctrinal disagreement and their status to appreciate their seriousness:

- The Lateran IV Ecumenical Council (1215) defined the dogma of Absolute Divine Simplicity (ADS), which was confirmed by the Vatican I Ecumenical Council in its Constitution "Dei Filius" (1870). The teachings of EO St Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), which were adopted by the EO Churches in three councils held in Constantinople (1341, 1347 and 1351), are against that dogma.

- Pope Benedict XII in his Constitution "Benedictus Deus" (1336) defined the dogma of Beatific Vision whereby saints in Heaven see the divine essence, which was confirmed by the Ecumenical Council of Florence (1439). The teachings of EO St Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), which were adopted by the EO Churches in three councils held in Constantinople (1341, 1347 and 1351), are against that dogma.

- The Ecumenical Councils of Lyon II (1274) and Florence (1439) defined dogmatically, quoting from the latter, "that the holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and has his essence and his subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration", doctrine commonly designated as Filioque. EOs do not accept that dogma, with some EOs denying it outright and other EOs considering it just a theologumenon.

- The Ecumenical Council of Florence (1439) defined the dogma of papal primacy, which was confirmed by the Vatican I Ecumenical Council in its Constitution "Pastor Aeternus" (1870), which added the definition of papal infallibility. Both dogmas are denied by EOs.

To discern in which side the One Church founded by Jesus subsists, the primary path is to check which of the two doctrinal positions is supported or refuted by the 73 books of the Bible (72 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) that both sides recognize as inspired. Here is a summary of the results of the checks I made in previous posts:

Filioque: RC position supported by Jn 17:26 and Rev 22:1.

Papal Primacy: RC position strongly supported by Mt 16:17-19 and additionally by Jn 21:15-17.

Teachings of EO St Gregory Palamas:

O1. "God is being and not being." Against Ex 3:14 and Wis 13:1. Strongly against Jn 4:24.

O2. Divine essence-energies distinction.

O3. Deification (theosis) through divine energies only. Strongly against Jn 17:26.

O4. Saints in Heaven see only the divine energies. Strongly against 1 Cor 13:12 and 1 Jn 3:2. Against Mt 5:8.

Therefore the biblical texts overwhelmingly support the RC position in almost all the points of disagreement, and are neutral in the rest.

The secondary path to confirm which side is the One Church founded by Jesus is to examine the Ecumenical Councils of Lyon II and Florence, which were attended by Eastern bishops who in their overwhelming majority (in Florence all the Eastern bishops but one) approved the decrees defining the doctrine of Filioque. Regarding those Councils, there are two possibilities:

a. That at least one of those Councils was indisputably Ecumenical (and not just "RC" Ecumenical, which of course for RCs are truly Ecumenical), meaning by that that the positive vote of the majority of Eastern bishops was valid. In this case, the fact that both Councils are accepted by RCs and rejected by EOs would independently confirm that the One Universal Church founded by Jesus subsists in the RC Church.

b. That in both Councils most of the Eastern bishops did not act freely and in right conscience, but were pressed and/or bribed in a way that rendered their vote invalid. To note, this latter possibility would not prevent both Councils from being "RC" Ecumenical, neither would it affect the conclusion from the examination of biblical passages that the One Universal Church founded by Jesus subsists in the RC Church. It would just not provide additional independent confirmation for that conclusion.

It should be noted that, independently of the final result of the discernment, since there is only one Universal Church founded by Jesus, and from the serious doctrinal disagreements between the RC and EO sides it is clear that the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus subsists in only one of the two sides, then only one of the two sides can be properly called "Church" as a whole, and the proper term for the totality of particular Churches comprising the other side is "the XX Churches".

Thus the proper terms for the sides as a whole are either

a. "the RC Church" and "the EO Churches", or

b. "the RC Churches" and "the EO Church".

If my plain stating of this fact sounds uncharitable to some ears, I strongly suggest reading the "Note on the expression "Sister Churches"" from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated June 30, 2000 and signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The core points are 9 to 12. It's at:



It might be useful to have a formal description of the framework involved in this discernement. Let us call System any of the options among which we are discerning, so that:

System = {Sources, Entities, Corpus, Rules}

Thus, a System is comprised of (the examples of Sources and Entities are from the RC Church):

- Sources of Divine Revelation = {Scripture, Tradition}

- Authoritative Entities = {Ecumenical Council, Pope}

- Corpus: definitions by Entities of the content of the divine revelation in the Sources, including the identification of the Sources

- Rules: Subset of Corpus defining Entities, how they work, and particularly how they define the Corpus.

The one divinely-founded System must exhibit several levels of logical consistency:

1. Instrumental: capacity for identifying infallibly and dynamically (i.e. at any time as needed) the content of the divine revelation in the Sources (and the Sources themselves), and for transmitting that content trans-historically and geographically.

2. Historical: abidance by Rules.

3. Internal: absence of contradiction between definitions in Corpus and content of Sources, and between definitions in Corpus themselves.

4. External: absence of contradiction between definitions in Corpus and physical laws or historical facts.

5. Extraordinary: confirmation by occasional targeted breakings of physical laws (miracles).

I posit that all five levels of logical consistency are relevant in principle to discern between Systems, although in some practical cases the evidence from looking at one of the levels might be strong enough to dispense with the need to look at the others. Thus I discarded the OO option above on the basis of just historical consistency, by looking at historical context for the Council of Chalcedon. The importance of external consistency can be appreciated by imagining the consequences to any System that had defined geocentrism as dogma. (By the way, the RC Church never did so, even when its authorities prohibited for a long time the publication of books supporting that theory and, as is well known, gave Galileo a hard time.)

Thus, the main levels for discerning between the RC and EO options are:

- instrumental: superbly covered in Ray Stamper's comments #88 and #89 to this article), and

- internal: covered in my previous posts and summarized above.

As I said above, in order for the EO Churches to exhibit historical consistency, it is critical for them to claim that in Lyon II (1274) and Florence (1439) the third point in the examination above of the Council of Chalcedon applied to the Eastern bishops, who were either pressed by the Emperor in the first case and practically bribed by the Pope, in the context of the Ottoman threat, in the second. Sure enough that claim does not cause the RC Church to exhibit historical inconsistency, because the Western bishops were under no pressure.

Finally, regarding extraordinary consistency, either the RC Church has received ample confirmation at this level, or many RC Saints had very serious mental problems or were pathological liars, or the RC Church has been forsaken by God as playground for the dark side. (BTW, I am talking only about RC Church-approved miracles like Lourdes. I perceive Medjugorje as a purely human phenomenon in the very best case.)