Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #49

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

I have an urgent prayer request for you. There is a prayer at the bottom of this section that I would ask you to please consider using to pray a novena with. A little boy named Peter needs your prayers. I mentioned him in a couple of previous newsletters (Issue #21 – “Conclusion”; Issue #28 – “General Comments”) as having numerous serious medical problems concerning his liver and intestines. Below is an email with an update on Baby Peter from someone close to the family :

Hi John,

Baby Peter is in pretty rough shape right now. His parents have been advised to put him on the “multi-visceral transplant list”, which means most of his organs below the stomach would need to be transplanted. This is a rare procedure with very grim statistics concerning survival/recovery. If
he does well through the procedure, there’s only a 30% chance he’ll make it to his 3rd birthday, and a few years beyond that is almost impossible without a miracle.

We are all praying a novena right now to Blessed George Preca, who will be canonized in Rome in 3 days (June 3rd). Fr. Preca was credited with saving a little boy who was suffering a terrible liver disease. We are praying,that if it’s God’s will, Peter will be healed.

Your prayers for Peter and his family are greatly appreciated. Below is the novena prayer:

Lord God, You granted countless favours to Blessed George Preca, choosing him as a most faithful instrument in founding the Society of Christian Doctrine, grant that I also may learn to turn all circumstances and events of my life into opportunities to love You and to serve the Church, and all
humanity with joy and simplicity, lighting up the corners of the earth with faith, hope and love.

Deign to glorify your Servant Don George and, if it is according to your will, grant me through his intercession the favour I request …that Peter’s liver and intestines will heal and he will not need transplant surgery.

Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.


I have not heard from Raymond Woodward since last week’s newsletter, so I am going to assume that when he said his most recent email was “probably” his last one to me, that it was indeed the last time I will hear from him. And, since I have still heard nothing from Matt Johnson, I will begin an exchange with someone new either next week or the week after.

In the meantime, in this issue I’ll just answer a couple of questions that I’ve received in the not-too-distant past.


Hi John,

Like you I am a returned cradle Catholic. I have a question for you that my son asked. He is doing SOR (Study of Religion) at school.

In the Apostle’s Creed we read:

“He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

His question is – at what time does this judging occur? Directly after death or at a later time?




There is a particular judgment at the moment of death, and there will be a general judgment at the end of time. Although, for those who are still alive when Christ returns, there will be a particular judgment for them as well. I would suggest looking in the Catechism under judgment and under particular and general judgment.

The particular judgment is more like the kind of courtroom judgment we think of when we hear the word judgment…guilt or innocence. At the moment of our death, we will be judged and our eternal destination – Heaven or Hell – will be decided.

However, the word “judgment” is often used to mean “vindication” or “defense.” The general judgment, or Last Judgment, will not be so much one of deciding who is going where, as it is a judgment of the triumph of good over evil. Judgment in this sense would mean a vindication more than a courtroom style judgment. So, the Last Judgment is, in a sense, the final vindication of good over evil…the final and complete victory of good over evil.




I heard criticism about the luxuriousness of the Vatican and St. Peter’s, while there are so many poor people. Where did the money come from to build these things? How much of parish money goes “to the Pope”?

Can you please give me some defense of this line of questioning or can you direct me somewhere else?




Dear Michele,

Contrary to popular impression, the Vatican is a spartan operation. Its annual operating budget is about $277 million. The University of Notre Dame’s annual operating budget, by comparison, is $700 million. The Vatican’s endowment is about $770 million. By contrast, the University of Notre Dame’s endowment is $3.1 billion. The Holy See is indeed in need of financial support from the Catholic world, and American Catholics usually supply about 25 percent of the annual operating budget.

What about the artwork—the Pietà, the Raphael frescoes, and so on? These treasures are literally priceless, but they appear on the Vatican books with a value of one euro. According to the [laws] of the Vatican City State, they may never be sold or borrowed against.

The “wealth” of the Vatican has accumulated over the centuries and is basically art work, historical documents, and buildings. The Vatican views these buildings, historical documents, and works of art as belonging to all peoples – they are merely under the care of the Vatican. They are not for sale because the Vatican doesn’t view them as its personal property to sell. Why not sell all the works of art in the Louvre? Or in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art? Why not sell the Mona Lisa to feed the poor? Why don’t museums sell off their Rembrandts and Van Goghs and Picassos to feed the poor?

About 20 years ago, Peter Drucker, the management consultant, concluded that the three most efficient organizations in history were General Motors, the 19th-century Prussian Army, and the Catholic Church. He put the Church on his list because it manages to hold a worldwide organization together with an exceptionally small central headquarters. For the 1.1 billion Catholics, there are about 1,700 people working in the [Vatican]. As Drucker pointed out, if the same ratio were applied to our government in Washington, D.C., there would be 500 federal employees working in the capital, as opposed to roughly 500,000.

So, just give people the facts, and tell them not to believe the lies. By the way, if they are critical of the Vatican, are they also critical of the Temple of Solomon? By all accounts, the Temple of Solomon makes the Vatican look like the poor house. Should the Israelites not have built the Temple of Solomon? Should they have used all the resources that went into it to feed the poor instead?


Note: The first two paragraphs, and the next-to-last paragraph were taken in their entirety from an essay by John L. Allen, Jr., who is the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and author of All the Pope’s Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks (2004). His essay is drawn from a talk, sponsored by the Church in the 21st Century Initiative, that he delivered in Gasson 100 on October 18.


In Conclusion

Please remember to pray for Baby Peter. If you can make a novena using that prayer, that would be a wonderful thing.

I hope all of you have a great weekend!

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Apologetics for the Masses