Ask Father Hardon
Vol. 2 - #6, Nov / Dec 1996
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Q. How are we to understand St. Pauls teaching that
wives are to be submissive to their husbands (Eph. 5:22-24) and women are
to keep silent in the church (I Cor 14:34)? Is it true that some of the writings
attributed to St. Paul were actually not written by him? S.K.M., Oregon
of all, what we have in the New Testament today are the writings of St. Paul.
They were either written or dictated by him. So-called scholars who question
St. Pauls authorship of the writings attributed to him in the New Testament
are simply mistaken.
When St. Paul says that wives are to be submissive
to their husbands, he means it. Someone in the family must have the final
authority. The problem is not whether wives should obey their husbands. The
problem is that modern feminism claims, with Karl Marx, that the family with
the husband as head of the family is a slavery which men had invented in order
to dominate women. St. Paul makes it clear that husbands are to love their
wives. St. Ignatius Loyola wrote that it is not hard to obey when we love
the one whom we obey. The word submissive does not mean what feminists claim
it means. It is rather the loving acceptance of someone in authority for the
good of the family.
You also ask how we should understand St. Pauls
statement that women are to keep silent in church. The primary meaning of
these words is St. Pauls intention to highlight Christs teaching about Church
authority being conferred on men. It is basically the same issue that feminism
raises about women not being ordained to the priesthood. Not so well known
is the rise of feminism in the Roman Empire. At root is the natural competitiveness
between the two genders which modern paganism has exploited, but which Christianity
has replaced with mutual selfless charity, as taught by Christ and here applied
by St. Paul.
Q. What are the rights and responsibilities of a godparent? T.H., Nebraska
to the Code of Canon Law the godparent is to be an adult who, together with
the parents will help the baptized to lead a Christian life in harmony with
baptism, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it (Canon
The Churchs tradition teaches that the obligation
of a godparent is serious. He or she is gravely bound to cooperate with the
parents to insure that the godchild is raised in the Catholic faith and fulfills
the obligations expected of a believing Catholic. When the parents neglect
their duty in this regard, the godparents must do everything possible to provide
their godchild with the necessary Catholic training needed to live a life
consistent with the Churchs teachings. In our day, many godparents do not
recognize the gravity of this obligation. Their responsibility for the Catholic
upbringing of their godchild continues through life. Of course the godparents
are to exercise great charity and prudence and respect for the rights of the
parents. Nevertheless the godparents responsibility remains.
Q. I understand that a commission of the Church revised
St. Jeromes Vulgate (translation of the Bible). What is the difference between
the old Vulgate of St. Jerome and the new Vulgate? F.X., Washington D.C.
A. In 1984 Pope John Paul II established the
Pontifical Commission for the Revision and Emendation of the Vulgate. The
purpose of this commission is to trace the manuscript history of the Vulgate
back to St. Jerome. The original Vulgate was issued in 410 A.D. under the
authority of Pope St. Damasus I. Since the original Vulgate was finished,
manuscript copyists and publishers have made their share of mistakes. The
purpose of the Vulgate Commission is to correct these mistakes through the
use of manuscript editions to insure as perfect a text of the Vulgate as possible.
Your question is, What is the difference between
the old Vulgate of St. Jerome and the new Vulgate? There is no significant
difference. There are only typographical and copyists errors which are corrected
from a previously published edition of the Vulgate. The number of these corrections
is small and they do not affect the substance of the old Vulgate. In fact,
the whole purpose of the commission is to get back to the original Vulgate
of St. Jerome.
Vol. 2 - #6, Nov / Dec 1996, pp. 37-38
Copyright © 1996 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission