Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the August AD 2010
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin


Who May Preach in Church?
Is "Social Credit" a Christian Alternative?
Portiuncula Indulgence?


Who May Preach in a Catholic Church?

    Question:  Who is permitted to preach in a Catholic Church?  Should the pulpit be used for speeches apart from the liturgical functions of the Church?  Does improper use strip a church of its blessing or consecration?

    Answer:  According to the 1917 Code of Canon Law:  “The responsibility of preaching the Catholic Faith is entrusted chiefly to the Roman Pontiff for the Universal Church, and to bishops in their dioceses” (c. 1327§1).  “Bishops are bound by the office of personally preaching the Gospel ... and moreover, besides pastors, they should take help from other suitable men...” (c. 1327§2).  “The faculty of preaching should be granted only to priests and deacons, but not to other clerics, except for reasonable cause, in the judgment of the ordinary [the bishop], and in individual cases.  All laity are forbidden to preach in churches, even religious” (c. 1342 §1 and §2).  Religious order priests and deacons not assigned to parochial structure of the diocese must have permission from their own superior to preach in their own institutions, and from the local bishop if they are to preach in the churches of the diocesan clergy.

    By definition, a church is understood to be a building, dedicated by its blessing or consecration to divine worship, to be used by all of the faithful to carry out that worship (cf. c. 1161).  The term “house of God” is not used lightly.  The space above or below the church is not to be used for “merely profane uses” (c. 1164 §2)—a fortiori, the space dedicated to divine worship must not be so used.  The space above, below, or adjacent may be used for purposes that relate to the operation of the parish—e.g. meeting rooms, classrooms, parochial offices, a library, and so forth.  Outside of the times of divine worship, necessity might allow the use of the knave of the church for purposes like religious instruction, or the practice of music to be used in liturgical services.  Due respect must be given to the Blessed Sacrament, reserved in the tabernacle.




The “knave” of the church
is shown in gray.

    The sanctuary of the church (the area around the altar, and marked off on its western side by the altar rail) is generally restricted to members of the clergy, and those men or boys functioning in place of the clergy as altar servers.*  It would therefore be inappropriate to use the pulpit even for those activities mentioned above that might be permitted in the knave.  If the religion teacher or choir director needs a lectern, one should be provided in the knave.

    The church and pulpit should not be given over to purely secular purposes.

    A church does not lose its blessing or consecration due to secular use.  If it is foreseen that the building will eventually be given over to profane uses, it should not be consecrated or blessed as a church.  A church or cemetery is considered to have been violated if any of the following four things are publicly known to have happened within its walls:  i. a murder or suicide.  ii. the grave and injurious shedding of blood.  iii.  impious or sordid use of the place.  iv. the burial of an infidel, or an person excommunicated and under sentence.  The cemetery may be violated without violating the church, and vice versa (c. 1172 §1, §2).  A violated church or cemetery must be reconciled by an authorized priest, according to the rites of the Church before divine worship is conducted once again (c. 1173-1177).

Is "Social Credit" a Catholic Alternative?
(to the Federal Reserve)

    Question: A recent article in the American Free Press (July 6, 2010, p. 4) suggested that something called “Social Credit” is a Christian alternative to the Federal Reserve System.  What can you tell us about it?

    Answer:  The American Free Press tends to be a “populist” newspaper, especially in Its approach to economics.  Economic populism generally tries to urge the government to act on behalf of the average working class person, but doesn't always take into account the effects on the entire economy, or the damage that government intervention can cause, both, often, with adverse impact on the working man.

    But let us have a look at Social Credit before we make any decisions.  We will begin with a quote from Oliver Heydorn, “Social Credit--a distributist reform of the financial system.”[2]  The single digits in square editorial brackets refer to comments that will be made later.

    The doctrine of Social Credit, first developed in the early part of the last century by the Scottish Engineer C.H. Douglas, [1879-1952] may be regarded as one such distributist alternative to the fractional reserve system of money creation and distribution. The proposal consists of a number of policies that are designed to work in tandem. In the first place, [1] fractional reserve banking would be replaced by full reserve banking, so that the banks could no longer produce most of a country's money supply for personal gain. [2] Instead, a National Credit Office would be charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the money supply is always equal to the productive capacity of the economy, in such a way that purchasing power is sufficient to liquidate supply. The new money that would be created by the NCO would be regarded as a social service, hence the term "Social Credit." [3] This means, in turn, that it would be introduced into the economy debt and interest free. Some of this new money would be used to finance government expenditure on health, education, infrastructure, defense and so on (thus eliminating the need for taxes); [4] some of it would be distributed to each citizen in the form of a social dividend that would guarantee everyone a minimal revenue (thus eliminating destitution and the more severe forms of poverty); [5] and some of it would be used to finance the retail sector while lowering the prices of goods and services for consumers (thus allowing for the recalibration of the whole system and the prevention of inflation.)

    [1] Fractional reserve banking would be illegal, avoiding the inflation of the money supply as banks would not be able to loan the same money repeatedly while keeping only a percentage in reserve.  No national debt would accrue as money comes into existence, other than a general claim on the economy that its money would be redeemable in goods and services.

    [2] Social Credit views the technological inheritance of society as a common inheritance from which all men have a right to benefit: the wheel, the lever, the pulley, and so forth are a sort of common property, from the use of which everyone deserves an economic share.  That is to say that everyone has a right to some share in the profits of those who make use of this common patrimony.

    Given this assumption, Social Credit proposes to have the government (or some central authority) create money to pay a dividend to the citizens for the use of the common technological patrimony, and to provide for the needs of the nation

    Social credit holds that the consumption of a society ought to equal its production, and claims to see a problem in that the wages, salaries, and dividends (called “Group A” costs) paid out by a firm are never adequate to buy the entirety of that firm's product.  This is superficially correct, as the cost of the product must include raw materials, rents, interest, and other overheads (called “Group B” costs) in addition to what is paid out to employees.  The theory misses, first of all, that these “Group B” costs represent the incomes of other firms which pay their employees wages, salaries, and dividends that will be spent to consume the production of the firm in question.  It misses, as well, that the efforts of a successful business create new wealth in the economy, more than enough to pay its “Group B” costs.  This new wealth is either paid out as wages, salaries, and dividends, or is retained by the firm to finance its future growth.

    Under Social Credit a non-governmental guild or trade organization will direct payments of government created money to rebate to the consumer the difference in retail prices caused by adding the “Group B” costs to the “Group A” costs.  Since this is not actually necessary to insure full consumption, the economy would be inflated  by the amount of the “Group B” costs each time such an infusion of money is made.

    [3] If the government creates money "debt and interest free" it, of course, is not borrowing from bankers and bondholders who expect to be paid interest on their loans.  While this is a positive thing, it does nothing to restrain money creation and expenditures which will consume the products of society.  A fundamental problem with the Federal Reserve system currently in use is that it is too easy for government to obtain money without having to levy taxes--it can spend money for foolish and dangerous things without increasing the tax bill, thereby generating taxpayer resistance.  Both Social Credit and the Federal Reserve system give government too much latitude for reckless spending.  The Federal Reserve system, of course, piles up national debt, but many Americans delude themselves to thinking of it as "a debt to ourselves, which will never really have to be repaid."  In this connection, Social Credit makes more sense, but both alternatives could be ruinous, as both inflate the money supply and consequently devalue the worth of all dollar holdings, while permitting reckless government spending.

    [4] A “social dividend” or payout to each citizen is akin to putting everyone on welfare, whether they need it or not.  Programs like welfare and unemployment insurance already provide for those in actual need.  A universal dole is an incentive for all people to be unproductive—why work if it is a citizen’s right to receive a monthly check for doing nothing?

    [5]  The incentive to work would be further decreased if consumption is subsidized along the lines of the “Group A + Group B” theory described above.  The social dividend would go even farther toward keeping people idle if consumer prices were reduced by sixty or seventy percent, to the “compensated price,” as the theory might predict.  And, increasing the amount of money in circulation is inflation by definition.

Mr. Heydorn’s writing praises what is known as the “distributist” school of economic thought.  We have covered “distributism” in the past.[3]  For them moment we can think of it as a return of society to the state where each family produces most of its needs on its own plot of land, where the state restricts industrial and retail chains, and where only a few articles are chosen by the state for mass production.  It is productive capacity that is “distributed,” rather than wealth or income.  Distributism and social credit both seem to envision an homogenous and humble society in which everyone produces enough on his plot of land to satisfy his wants.  Neither theory describes an engine of wealth and progress capable of lifting sectors of society out of poverty or making gains against unsolved problems of the human material condition—against sickness, famine, homelessness, or natural disaster.  Distributism requires government coercion (or equivalent coercion by a guild or trade organization) to keep large scale enterprises from forming.

    Mr. Heydorn is naïve in assuming that government coercion, bureaucracy and corruption will be eliminated under Distributism, Social Credit, or any other contrived economic system:

    According to Mr. [Thomas] Storck, the human person would be better served if private property, especially productive property, were more widely and equally distributed among economic agents. The bodies that would be largely responsible for ensuring this more adequate distribution would be non-governmental occupational groups or guilds.

    Provided that distributism can incorporate a commitment to efficiency, to beneficial economic growth and development, to a co-operative competition, as well as to a just hierarchical society that would disallow any radical egalitarianism, it may very well prove to be the answer to many of our economic and social problems.[4]

    Mr. Storck is incorrect..  Redistribution of productive property will reduce society’s overall production by reducing economies of scale and division of labor.  Property can be redistributed only through the coercive use of force, no matter who exercises that force.  “A commitment to efficiency, to beneficial economic growth and development,” is precisely beyond the ability of  Distributism to make.

    The idea that government can be used to favor one economic class over another with beneficial effects is fallacious.  Social Credit is a populist idea, not libertarian, but libertarian economist Murray Rothbard identified the same fallacy as it is sometimes held by his followers:

    Too many libertarians have absorbed the negative and elitist conservative worldview to the effect that our enemy today is the poor, who are robbing the rich; the blacks, who are robbing the whites; or the masses, who are robbing heroes and businessmen. In fact, it is the state that is robbing all classes, rich and poor, black and white, worker and businessman alike; it is the state that is ripping us all off; it is the state that is the common enemy of mankind.[5]

    No system that replaces the free market with control by government or some other specially anointed power group will succeed in doing anything other than “ripping us all off.”

What is the "Portiuncula Indulgence"?

    Question:  What is the Portiuncula?  The Portiuncula indulgence?

    Answer:  The Portiuncula is the small church of Our Lady of the Angels, and the portion of land given by the Benedictines to Saint Francis of Assisi about 1208 with the proviso that he restore the building and make it the center of his new religious order.  Since this time it has been in the continuous care of the Franciscans.  It is where Saint Clare of Assisi was received as a religious, and where Saint Francis died on 3 October 1226.

    By order of Pope Saint Pius V, the small church (22’x13½’) and the cell of Saint Francis were enclosed in a far larger Basilica  of Saint Mary of the Angels.  In 1909 Pope Saint Pius X raised the Basilica to the rank of a “patriarchal basilica and papal chapel.”

    A plenary indulgence, the Portiuncula indulgence, is said to have been granted by Pope Honorius III at the direction of Our Lord in response to the request of Saint Francis.[6]  Some hold this to be the first plenary indulgence granted by the Church.  While the historical details are a bit fuzzy, there is no question that the Church fully sanctions the indulgence itself.  At first the indulgence could be gained only in the Portiuncula chapel between the afternoon of 1 August and sunset on 2 August.  The locations in which the indulgence could be gained were increased over the years, first to the other churches of the Franciscans, later to churches designated by the local bishop, and ultimately to all parish churches.

    The current law regarding the indulgence is found in the 1968 Enchiridion of Indulgences:

65. Visit to the Parochial Church

(Visitatio ecclesiae paroecialis)

A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit the parochial church:

—on the titular feast; 

—on the 2nd of August, when the indulgence of the "Portiuncula" occurs.

Both indulgences can be acquired either on the day designated above or on some other day designated by the Ordinary [bishop] for the benefit of the faithful.

The same indulgences apply to the Cathedral church and, where there is one, to a Co-Cathedral church, even if they are not parochial churches; they apply to quasi-parochial churches also.

    The above indulgences are contained in the Apostolic Constitution The Doctrine of Indulgences, Norm 15, with account being taken at the same time of proposals made to the Sacred Penitentiary in the meanwhile.

In visiting the church, it is required, according to Norm 16 of the same Apostolic Constitution, that "one Our Father and the Creed be recited."[7]



*   The laity are permitted to enter the sanctuary to receive certain Sacraments, and may perform practical tasks when necessary, outside of the times of divine worship.

[4]   Heydorn, ibid., 2nd & 3rd paragraphs.

[5]   Murray N. Rothbard, “The Noblest Cause of All”

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