Question: Francisco and Jancita Marto were recently canonized by the pope. Why was Lucia not also canonized?
— Name, location withheld
Answer: It essentially is a simple matter of time. There usually is a lengthy process involved in canonizing an individual. This includes a waiting period as well as the verification of miracles worked by their intercession. Francisco died in 1919, shortly after the apparitions. Jacinta died in 1920. Both died as a result of the 1918 influenza that killed so many in Europe. Our Lady had said the two of them would die young but that Lucia would live many years. Given the fact that they died almost 100 years ago, the Church had the time to inquire into their lives (which were marked by heroic sanctity and courage in the face of death) and completed the process of canonization. Sister Lucia died in 2005, and while the process of canonization is underway, it will take time.
Question: It seems that many modern movements are rooted in a resurgence of gnosticism. Do you agree?
— Robert Bonsignore, Brooklyn, New York
Answer: Yes, gnosticism is a persistent heresy that the Church has battled almost from day one. It is marked by two essential qualities: the possession of special knowledge (gnosis means knowledge), and a dualist understanding of the human person that separates the body and the soul.
In terms of its dualism, it claimed that the true self was the soul and not the body. This dualism emerged from Greek culture and imagined that the creation of the world was due to the demiurge (“fabricator”), a kind of evil deity that imprisoned souls in matter. The goal was to break free from the material world, including the body.
This aspect of gnosticism has been key to the persistent heresy that the Church has had to battle. Even as early as the first century, the apostle John warned the Church: “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 Jn 1:7). Thus these early gnostic heretics denied the Incarnation. They did so because they considered matter to be evil and would not accept that God took to himself a body.
Gnosticism has resurfaced many times in movements and groups such as the Docetists, Cathars, Albigensians and, to some degree, the Jansenists. All of them featured a kind of disdain or disregard for the body. In effect, the error declares, “I am not my body. I am only my thoughts, my feelings, my soul. My body is irrelevant.” This is a grave error and an attack on human dignity. For indeed it is our dignity that we human beings unite the two orders of creation, the physical and the spiritual in our person.
Today this error is evident in movements such as “transgenderism” and in those who celebrate homosexual acts. In effect, they deny that the body has anything to teach us about ourselves. Though the body might clearly indicate a person is male, the transgender movement says, “I am not my body. I am only my feelings and thoughts. I am a woman trapped in a male body.” Thus, the body is irrelevant, and they can imagine they are any odd combination of male and female they want. This is pure gnostic dualism. Those who approve of homosexual acts also deny the revelation of the body, which physically indicates that the man is for the woman and the woman for the man.
Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at blog.adw.org. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.