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28 Sep 2015 News USA No comments

Full text of Pope Francis' prepared remarks at the Festival of Families

Pope Francis put aside his prepared remarks for the World Meeting of Families' "Festival of Families" Sept. 26, at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia…

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05 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (5)

Does the Bible forbid suicide?

Full Question My Protestant friend's wife has attempted suicide twice, and he has come to support her decision to end her life. He says that there is nothi…

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19 Aug 2016 Articles Comments (9)

Statue of Virgin Mary weeping blood - is this another WARNING?

Catholic parishioners at a remote Bolivian church report a statue of the Virgin Mary is weeping blood. If true, this is yet another message from Our Lady that c…

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07 Oct 2014 Vatican Comments (1)

Pope's concern for Christians in Middle East emerges at family synod

Vatican City, Oct 7, 2014 / 10:32 am  .- In an unexpected move, Pope Francis added to the schedule of the upcoming consistory for the causes of saints a discuss…

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06 Jul 2016 Europe News USA Vatican Comments (1)

Christians must break down walls of fear and aggression, says Pope

Christians in Europe must break down “walls of fear and aggression” and try to understand people of other faiths and backgrounds, Pope Francis has said. In a…

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19 Feb 2015 Articles Comments (2)

The King's Throne

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on the availability, or lack thereof, of sacraments for the homebound, titled Have Sacraments, Will Travel. After wr…

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17 Oct 2016 News No comments

Pope Francis makes ‘Mercy Friday’ visit to children’s home

The visit to Rome’s SOS Children’s Village came as part of the Pope's commitment to the Year of Mercy Continuing his monthly Year of Mercy visits to people in …

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11 Apr 2015 Q&A No comments

Does the seal of the confessional go against the Bible's admonition to tell the truth?

Full Question A recent court case involved a situation in which a prison system had taped a prisoner's confession without his knowledge or the priest's. (T…

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04 Sep 2015 Europe News No comments

Italian priest stops all parish activities, to block gossip about his alleged paternity

An Italian priest has taken the unusual step of halting all parish activities—except for Mass—in a bid to halt the circulation of rumors that he fathered a chil…

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Who were the Church Fathers?

Full Question

Your magazine frequently refers to the “Fathers of the Church.” Who were these men, and what did they do to earn the title?


The Fathers of the Church are so called because of their leadership in the early Church, especially in defending, expounding, and developing Catholic doctrines. For the first two centuries, most of these men were bishops, although in later years certain priests and deacons were also recognized as Fathers.

The list includes such notables as: Clement of Rome (d. A.D. 97), Ignatius (d. 110), Polycarp (d. 155), Justin Martyr (the Church’s first major lay apologist; d. 165), Irenaeus (d. 202), Cyprian (d. 258), Athanasius (d. 373), Basil (d. 379), Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386), Ambrose (d. 397), John Chrysostom (d. 407), Jerome (d. 420), Augustine (d. 430), Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444), Pope Leo the Great (d. 461), and Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604).

The Church demands four major characteristics to be exhibited in the life and works of an early Church leader if he is to be considered a Father of the Church. These are antiquity, meaning that he lived before the eighth century (the death of St. John Damascene [cir. A.D. 750] is generally regarded as the close of the age of the Fathers); doctrinal orthodoxy; personal sanctity; and approval by the Church.


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