10 Nov 2014 Articles Comments (6)

If a Person Commits Suicide, Is He Automatically Lost for Hell?

Suicide is a delicate and disturbing subject. After the recent suicide of Brittany Maynard, many people are discussing it, and some are asking perennial ques…

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12 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

Disunity in the Church is perilous, Archbishop Chaput cautions at synod

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia spoke to the synod fathers on Saturday on the importance of precision in language, particularly regarding unity in div…

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03 Dec 2014 Q&A Comments (1)

Where does Jesus say "I am going to heaven to prepare a place for you"?

Full Question I thought I read in the New Testament that Jesus says, "I'm going to heaven to prepare a place for you. If it was not true I would not say so…

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07 Nov 2014 Q&A No comments

Can a practicing Catholic officiate at a civil wedding ceremony?

Full Question Can a practicing Catholic officiate at a civil wedding ceremony? Answer Assuming that the couple are either non-Catholics not bound…

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02 Aug 2016 News No comments

All faiths must be ‘workers for peace’, says sister of Fr Jacques Hamel at funeral

An estimated 1,700 people gathered in Rouen cathedral for the funeral Mass of the murdered priest The sister of the French priest slain by Islamist extremists …

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10 Apr 2015 Q&A Comments (2)

Can sanctuary lamps be some color other than red?

Full Question A friend recently told me she was at a Catholic church whose sanctuary lamp was enclosed in glass that was not red. Is this OK? An…

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19 Oct 2015 News USA No comments

Hyatt Hotels changes policy around the globe, removes on-demand porn

In a major policy shift, the global hotel and resort chain Hyatt Hotels is cutting off access to on-demand video pornography in all of their hotel rooms across …

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29 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (2)

Was Jesus' feeding of the 5,000 really a miracle of sharing?

Full Question My pastor said in a homily that the biblical account of Jesus feeding the five thousand was not a miracle; instead it was a "miracle of shari…

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21 Oct 2015 News Vatican Comments (2)

Discourage Christian women from marrying Muslim men, observer tells synod

Observers discussed marriage, domestic violence and single mothers at the synod last week Observers have told the Synod of Bishops on the family to discourag…

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Are Catholics free to interpret Bible verses without the Church’s approval?

Full Question

Are Catholics free to interpret Bible verses without the Church’s approval?


So far as the interpretations of individual scriptural passages go, keep in mind that the Church does not, as a rule, define how specific verses are to be taken. Instead, it defines doctrine, and that definition may eliminate some interpretations of particular verses. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma should answer most of your questions in these areas about the Church’s teaching office.

Only seven passages of Scripture have had their senses partially—but not fully—defined by the extraordinary magisterium. These definitions were made by the Council of Trent (see “The Limits of Scriptural Interpretation” in the January 2001 issue of This Rock):

  • The reference to being “born of water and the Spirit” in John 3:5 includes the idea of baptism.
  • In telling the apostles, “Do this [the Eucharist] in memory of me” in Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:24, Jesus appointed the apostles priests.
  • In Matthew 18:18 and John 20:22–23, Jesus conferred on the apostles the power to forgive sins; everyone does not share this power.
  • Romans 5:12 refers to the reality of original sin.
  • The presbyters referred to in James 5:14 are ordained, not merely elder members of the Christian community.

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