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Vic Shea wrote:

Hi, guys —

  1. Could you please tell me if Catholics typically make pilgrimages to holy sites such as shrines with the relics of Christian saints and martyrs and/or to churches like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Church of the Nativity, etc.?

    Furthermore, is it permissible for Orthodox Christians to make pilgrimages to the aforementioned located in lieu of attending regular Sunday services at a Catholic Church?

  2. Could you please tell me how the Catholic Church interprets Isaiah 17:1:

      17 1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

      (Isaiah 17:1)

    I know some Christian denominations believe that current geopolitical events in Syria are a fulfillment of this prophecy.

  3. Could you please tell me if the Catholic Church believes that human beings will continue to live, be born, and pass away when Jesus returns — during his Millennial reign — or will all human beings at that point vacate their biological bodies and end up either in Heaven or Hell?

Best,

Vic

  { Can you answer some questions on pilgrimages, Isaiah 17:1, and what happens when Jesus returns? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Vic,

  1. Yes, Catholic Christians do make pilgrimages to the Holy Land and various shrines, in fact I made one myself in 2005. I'm not sure I understand your question about Orthodox Christians. We, being Catholic, can't speak for them but I don't expect that making a pilgrimage would be equivalent to attendance at the Divine Liturgy unless, as is sometimes the case, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated at the pilgrimage site.

  2. The Catholic Church does not have an official interpretation of this passage or in fact most passages of Scripture. Generally, the Catholic Church does not engage in speculation on biblical prophecy and current events.

  3. In general, the Catholic Church interprets the millennial reign as the Church age here and now. When Jesus returns at the end of time, the dead will be resurrected and the living will also receive their resurrection bodies and a New Heaven and a New Earth will appear and we will either live in eternal glory on it or experience eternal condemnation. There will no longer be marriage, birth giving, or death.

Eric Ewanco

Vic replied:

Dear Eric,

Thank you for your reply. Two further questions.

  1. Could you please tell me if Catholics are permitted to deny being a Catholic and/or adhering to specific doctrines of their religion if they are hypothetically at risk of persecution as a result of practicing their faith?

    I believe I am correct in stating that Muslims have a similar concept known as Taqiyaa precautionary dissimulation or denial of religious belief and practice in the face of persecution.

  2. What are the guidelines for Catholics who may be unable to attend the Divine Liturgy as a result of residing in remote geographical locations — where access to a Catholic Church is not possible?

Best,

Vic

Eric replied:

Vic —

  1. No. Truth is valued as sacrosanct in Catholicism. One is permitted to not say anything but not to lie or deceive, for any reason. In fact, the Catechism, the official teaching guide to the faith, says in CCC number 2471:

    "The Christian is not to 'be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.' In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges."

    That covers your exact situation. And again, in CCC number 2473:

    "Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. 'Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God.'"

  2. One is not obligated to attend Divine Liturgy if it is not possible due to the absence of churches.

      "If participation in the eucharistic celebration becomes impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of the word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop or that they devote themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion permits, in groups of families."

      (Code of Canon Law, Canon 1248 §2)

Eric

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