Question: Have you received any questions that you have not answered?
Answer: Yes, many. My tray is almost full. The following are recent questions and answers.
Question: A Vatican official recently gave a talk in the United States to seminarians. He said that they would be the first generation to interpret the Second Vatican Council correctly.
What do you think?
— Deacon M., Los Angeles, Calif.
Answer: The next generation has yet to prove itself. I have shelves of books that I think interpret Vatican II incorrectly. But I have shelves of books that interpret Vatican II correctly, in my view.
Pope Benedict XVI has warned about a hermeneutic of continuity/discontinuity since Vatican II. We need to be careful that we don’t insert a new hermeneutic of discontinuity regarding the state of the Church today and the Church of tomorrow.
Question: I have a question regarding where souls go after death. Does only God know?
— Frances Clermont, Fla.
Answer: True. Only God knows where each soul goes after death. We — Christians and non-Christians alike — should be careful in speculating about such matters.
Question: Some months ago, a writer complained of the expenses of a Catholic wedding or funeral. Does the Catholic Church really make a lot of money on funerals and weddings?
—Doris Geeing, Tucson, Ariz.
Answer: Absolutely not. The Church never charges anyone anything for these liturgies. Indeed, pastors can — or should — go out of their way to be especially sensitive to the poor and never to privilege the rich.
Question: I know the violet is the official color for Lent and Advent. Our priest wears purple on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays. Any thoughts?
— Franco Lioi, Rochester, N.Y.
Answer: We should follow the Church’s regulations, but never make a fuss over such matters. There are more important things than the color of vestments, such as homilies, architecture, art, music and, most of all, the “active participation of the people” — the principal aim of the liturgical movement and of everything then, including the thought and propositions of Pope Benedict XVI to “reform the reform.”
Question: I am a Roman Catholic, but I find it more convenient and spiritually profitable to confess to an Orthodox priest.
I am told this is against Catholic rules and that I should only confess to a Catholic priest. Is this true?
— E.A.B., Tucson, Ariz.
Answer: The Catholic Church certainly has detailed regulation of ecumenical matters and on the questions of sacramental sharing. But they are not nearly as rigid as you are told.
The Orthodox Church has much to teach the West about confession — and we probably should occasionally confess to one another and learn from the experience.
Msgr. M. Francis Mannion is a priest and theologian of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Send your questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.