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Q&A  March AD 2013
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

Q&A Archives

Sharia Loans?

The Date of Easter?

Review:   Free is Beautiful: Why Catholics should be libertarian

Our Lady of the Rosary
Sharia Loans?

    Question:  A man on the radio claimed that Moslem financial institutions loan money interest free.  Apparently they take the prohibition of usury very seriously.  Why don’t Catholic banks do the same?

    Answer:  Loans made under the Moslem Sharia Law claim to be interest free, but there is an important gimmick.  Let us say that you intend to buy a home for $100,000, and the market interest rate is 5%.  With a thirty year fixed rate mortgage you will pay the (non-Moslem) bank a total of $193,255.78 by this time in 2043.  Most people look at the additional $93,255.78—almost as much as borrowed, and exclaim that the bank is indeed practicing usury.  It might put things in perspective to look at this as an average monthly rate of about $260, and to ask what it would cost to rent the house every month—probably a lot more than the $260, and at the end of thirty years you would not own the property.

    The Sharia loan company makes the same calculations, buys the house for $100,000, and then sells the house to its client for $193,255.78, which is paid back in equal monthly installments with no interest.  The aforementioned “gimmick,” of course, is that the client paid the interest “up front” by agreeing to pay an additional $93,255.78 above the market price of the home.

    If there truly were no interest, the Sharia loan company would have made no calculation based on the market interest rate, and the client would have agreed to pay back only $100,000.  Of course the Sharia loan company could not stay in business by making free thirty year loans any more than a Christian or Jewish or secular firm could.  The Sharia loan company just makes its money a little differently.

    This difference could really hurt the Moslem client if he had to sell the home in the early life of the loan.  Say that two years pass and the market value of the home is now $120,000.  The client could sell it for that, but he would still owe the Sharia loan company $180,372.06 to pay off his loan—a lot more than the $120,000 he can realize on the sale.  Were the Sharia loan company still in business, they might give the client a break, accepting the monthly payments already made and the $20,000, to pay off the loan—but they might not.  Had they gone out of business, the company that bought up their loans probably would not feel any ethical or legal obligation to make such a deal.

    “Non est prandium gratis—there is no free lunch!”  Money has a time-value, all loans have an element of risk, and payouts and collections must be administered.  All of these things make it legitimate for the loan company to receive more than it paid out at the origination of the loan.  Most likely, the boast about Sharia loans is propaganda, intended to make Moslems seem to be morally superior to non-Moslems.

     More detail on the morality of interest payments and usury can be found on the parish website at:   and

 Our Lady of the Rosary
The Date of Easter?

    Question:  Who decides when it will be Easter?  Why isn’t it on the same day or same Sunday every year?  Why is Roman Easter sometimes different from the Greek’s celebration of Easter?

    Answer:  A good question, since the entire Church calendar revolves around Easter.

    There is an obvious connection between Easter and the Jewish Passover, for the Last Supper was Jesus’ celebration of the Passover Seder.  Passover was fixed by divine ordinance on the fourteenth day of the lunar month of Nisan (a.k.a. Aviv):

    The first month, the fourteenth day of the month at evening, is the phase of the Lord:  And the fifteenth day of the same month is the solemnity of the unleavened bread of the Lord.  Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread.[1]

    The fifteenth of the month can fall on any day of the week, and in some parts of the early Church, (The Roman province of “Asia,” corresponding to modern day western Turkey) Easter was celebrated on the fourteenth day of the moon, the day on which the Jewish people “put the leaven away.”  Those in the west felt that Easter, being the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection, ought to be kept on Sunday, as that was the actual day on which He rose from the dead.

    For some time the factions “agreed to disagree” but in AD 193, the Roman Pontiff Victor threatened the easterners with excommunication for failure to observe the more common Sunday practice.  Saint Irenæus of Lyons, originally from Asia, was successful in convincing Pope Victor that excommunication was excessive, especially considering that the practice seemed to have gone back to Saint John the Apostle.

    The division continued at least until the Council of Nicaea ruled that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox.  The vernal equinox is given as March 21, without the need of astronomical observation.  The full moon is determined by “epact” tables which specify the age of the moon on January 1st.  The tables are based on the difference in length of the solar and lunar years, making the age of the moon on January 1 about eleven days greater each year.  A moderately complex mathematical system is needed to extend this calculation over the years, but one need only consult the tables at the beginning of the Roman Missal.

    The Julian calendar (the calendar in use at the time of Nicaea) reckoning of the year was about 11-1/4 minutes longer than the actual solar year. With the passage of centuries those extra minutes became perceptible as the vernal equinox (and, consequently the feast of Easter and the season of spring) came earlier and earlier in the calendar year.  In the Gregorian calendar reform of 1582, Pope Gregory XIII removed 10 days from the month of October and also made a slight modification to the procedure for computing the lunar cycle.  This causes Easter to be observed on a different date by those not following the Gregorian calendar.  At first this included Protestants, but now only certain Eastern Christians.

    Both Greeks and Romans reckon Easter to be the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21—but March 21 comes later on the Greek calendar than it does on the Roman.









































Our Lady of the Rosary

Randy England, Free is Beautiful: Why Catholics should be libertarian, Lexington KY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012, 165 pages, paper bound.  $11.65 at  Free audio downloads at

    Randy England is the author of The Unicorn in the Sanctuary: The Impact of the New Age on the Catholic Church (TAN Books).  In Free is Beautiful, he quotes Catholic authorities from Saint Augustine, through Saint Thomas, on up to writings of the post-Vatican II era.  God created man as a rational and free being, who holds himself in trust for God, and from this England derives an elaborated economic and political theory.

    England is not promoting the Libertarian political party, but makes a very good case that Catholics ought to adopt libertarianism as a practical philosophy.  Libertarianism is not libertinism, and libertarians are not “economic conservatives but social liberals.”  Its primary tenet is the “non-aggression principle,”  which “prohibits the initiation of physical force (or the threat of force) against people or property.  The use of force is legitimate only in defense of life or property.”[2]  Libertarianism applies the non-aggression principle equally to the State

    [Law] is the substitution of collective for individual forces, for the purpose of acting in the sphere in which they have a right to act, of doing what they have a right to do, to secure persons, liberties, and properties, and to maintain each in its right, so as to cause justice to reign over all....  Thus, as the force of an individual cannot lawfully touch the person, the liberty, or the property of another individual—for the same reason, the common force cannot lawfully be used to destroy the peson, the liberty, or the property of individuals or of classes.[3]

    If people cannot do something legitimately by themselves, they cannot legitimately empower the State to do it for them.  At first examination, libertarianism seems odd to many people, for most of us have gotten used to the idea of the State performing an enormous number of functions in our lives, whether we like them or not.  There are, indeed, times when a collective effort makes sense—common defense is a good example.  But, in practice, there is a dangerous temptation to use the large common defense force for more aggressive purposes, like conquest, subjugation, extraction of tribute, and even aggression against the population supporting the common “defense” effort.

    Those holding power in the State may seek to buttress that power by granting favors to the more powerful citizens—at the expense of the less powerful.  Such “favors” are granted in various ways, usually under the guise of protecting the public.  Regulation favors those who help make the regulations, Occupational licensing restricts the numbers allowed to practice many professions.  Some States grant outright monopolies that could not exist in a free economy.  Wage controls keep the unskilled out of the labor force, while price controls make scarce goods even more scarce.  Control of the airwaves excludes opinions unacceptable to the State.  New drugs take years to reach the market—others don’t reach it at all—and people die waiting.

    In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville praised Americans for forming voluntary associations to address every local social need.  Problems were solved by people who understood them, not by remote bureaucrats whose major concern was the enlargement of the bureaucracy.[4]

    England makes a case for free market police protection, courts, and a penal system.  Under the non-aggression principle, the justice system turns away from punishing harmful as well as harmless behavior, and concerns itself with restitution to the victim and to society for its costs.

    Even the Army is up for scrutiny.  The non-aggression principle in foreign policy can be traced back to Washington and Jefferson.  Militia defense of state and nation is contemplated by our Constitution, while standing armies are not.

    Libertarians have an undeserved reputation for being anti-life.  Murray Rothbard, a great economist but poor moralist, suggested that abortion was justified because the baby is a sort of trespasser or parasite in the womb of the mother.  Clearly the child is not culpable, and the non-aggression principle requires restraint greater restraint.  We don’t throw stowaways off the airplane until the plane has landed, and certainly the stowaway exercised conscious choice in boarding, while the baby had none to make.

Also of Interest

Rev. Robert Sirico, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy,  Washington DC: Regnery, 2012,  213 pages, hardbound, $16.36 at

Thomas E. Woods, The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, Lexington Books (March 2005) 280 pages, paper bound $20.30 at



[2]   Page 5-6.

[3]   From Frederick Bastiat, The Law

[4]   Page 157.

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