In this document:


An Affirmation of Personal Faith
every Catholic should make and live by
Most Reverend Robert F. Vasa presents an Affirmation of Personal Faith in his pastoral letter Giving Testimony to The Truth:

"The Affirmation of Personal Faith asks candidates for ministry to state unequivocally: "I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God." This carries with it the affirmation of specific teachings of the Catholic Church. A non-exhaustive list of these is provided in the form of individual affirmations. They include statements on the inviolability of human life, the sinfulness of contraception, the evil of extra-marital sexual relationships, the unacceptability of homosexual relationships, the wrongness of cohabitation before marriage, the significance of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the legitimacy of Marian devotions, the existence of hell and purgatory, the uniqueness of the Catholic Church, the legitimacy of the Holy Father’s claim to infallibility and the moral teaching authority of the Catholic Church."

The Affirmation of Personal Faith applies to all Catholics:

"The summary statements which I have collected in the Affirmation of Personal Faith are all taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They represent the authentic and authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church and acceptance of these tenets is expected of every Catholic."

"At the time that converts enter the Church they make the Profession of Faith and then they announce: "I believe and profess all the that Holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God." This is the basic, fundamental affirmation required of all Catholics."

We are children of God. We should not allow anyone, who less than fully accepts and embraces the teachings of the Catholic Church, to negatively influence us in any way regarding the Catholic Faith and the Holy Catholic Church:

"Outstanding moral character necessarily entails a clear knowledge and proper understanding of the teachings of the Church and a firm adherence to those teachings. The need for persons involved in these ministries to be of "outstanding moral character" comes from the recognition that, in their capacity as ministers, they are official representatives of the Church and of Her teachings. As such, the 'Church' and the 'teachings' which these ministers represent are not the widely held, sometimes erroneous, opinions of the faithful but the authentically held teachings. These teachings are found clearly enunciated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Papal Encyclicals and Documents, Liturgical Rubrics and the Code of Canon Law to name a few of the authentic sources. There is certainly much room in the Church for diversity of opinion and choice but that diversity, if it is to be legitimate, must always be exercised and expressed within clearly defined moral parameters. A choice to act upon or express a view, under the guise of diversity, which falls outside of the defined moral parameters cannot be considered legitimate diversity. Such expressions, if given the semblance of official approval by way of some ecclesial ministry, become not only illegitimate for the person who holds them but divisive and confusing for those who seek to know the authentic teachings of the Church.

Such persons can become a "cause of stumbling" and if a Pastor or Bishop fails to act to correct the "false teaching" then he too incurs the Lord’s condemnation as a "cause of stumbling". There is perhaps no stronger condemnation uttered by our Lord than that used in regard to leading His "little ones" astray. He says unequivocally: "But if a man is a cause of stumbling to one of these little ones who have faith in me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Matthew 18:5-7) I am certain our Lord’s word to a Bishop who knowingly or negligently permitted such a person to be an official minister in His Church would be even more severe."

  • The 'CCC' references in Affirmation of Personal Faith are to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Click on them to read those specific paragraphs of the Catechism.

Affirmation of Personal Faith
“I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God.” In particular:

I affirm and believe the Church’s teaching about the inviolability of human life. In accord with that teaching I affirm that human life is sacred and must be protected and respected from the moment of conception until natural death.

I affirm that I reject direct, intentional abortion and I do not recognize the legitimacy of anyone’s claim to a moral right to form their own conscience in this matter. I am not pro-choice. I further attest that I am not affiliated with, nor supportive of, any organization which supports, encourages, provides or otherwise endorses abortion or euthanasia. (CCC 2270-2283 & 2295)
I affirm and believe the Church’s teaching about the sinfulness of contraception.

I affirm, in accord with the teachings of the Church that “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil. (CCC 2366 - 2379)
I affirm and believe that every person is called to chastity in accord with their present state of life and that it is only in marriage between man and woman that the intimacy of spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. (CCC 1601 & 2331—2365) I accept the Church’s teaching that any extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil and that these include pre-marital relations, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations.
I affirm and believe the teaching of the Church about the evil of homosexual acts. I accept the formulation in the Catechism which states: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” (CCC 2357)
I affirm and believe all that the Church teaches about the Reality and Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Specifically I believe that Jesus is present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under each of the forms of bread and wine and that receiving either one is Communion with the whole Christ. I recognize that worship and adoration are appropriate, not only during Mass but also outside of Mass and that the Most Holy Eucharist must always be handled with the utmost care and devotion. (CCC 1373-1381)
I affirm and believe the teachings of the Church regarding Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. I accept with the Church that it is fitting and proper to honor the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. (CCC 963-975)
I affirm and believe that it is possible for a person to choose to remain separated from God for all eternity and that “This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”” (CCC 1033)

I affirm and believe that those who die in God’s grace and friendship but are still imperfectly purified undergo additional purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joys of heaven. I affirm that the Church’s name for this final purification is Purgatory. (CCC 1030-1032)
I affirm and believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and embrace the teachings about that Church as enunciated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (cf. CCC 748-962)
I affirm and believe that the Church teaches with God-given authority and that the promise of Christ to remain with His Church always, until the end of time is a reality. I further acknowledge that those teachings pronounced in a definitive manner, even though not as an infallible definition, are binding on the consciences of the faithful and are to be adhered to with religious assent. (CCC 892 & 2089)

To these and to all the teaching of the Catholic Church I give my assent. I attest that I believe these things and, while I am aware of my own sinfulness and shortcomings, I strive in my beliefs and life style to conform to this Affirmation of Personal of Faith.

The Affirmation of Personal Faith and full text of Bishop Vasa's comments can be found in his pastoral letter:
Giving Testimony to The Truth

Authentic Catholicism
"When we sin by theft, lying, adultery, pride, gossip, anger, envy, callousness to the poor, pornography or indifference, we do not live "in keeping with what Christ taught." We remove ourselves, by our actions, from friendship with God. That means we need to turn back to the sacrament of penance before we receive Communion. In fact, many of us today need a deeper devotion to confession simply to regain a basic understanding of grace and sin.
Likewise, if we ignore or deny what the Church teaches, or refuse to follow what she teaches, we are not "in communion" with the Catholic faith. We separate ourselves from the community of believers. If we receive Communion anyway, we engage in a lie.
Claiming to be Catholic and then rejecting Catholic teaching is an act of dishonesty and a lack of personal integrity. Worse, if we then receive Communion, we violate every Catholic who does believe and does strive to live the faith fully and unselfishly. And that compounds a sin against honesty with a sin against justice and charity. Again, as Justin Martyr said: 'No one may take part (in the Eucharist) unless he believes what we teach is true.'
If we claim to believe in Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith, then we need to act like it — without caveats, all the way, all the time, with all our heart, including our lives in the public square."
"We're at a time for the Church in our country when some Catholics — too many — are discovering that they've gradually become non-Catholics who happen to go to Mass. That's sad and difficult, and a judgment on a generation of Catholic leadership. But it may be exactly the moment of truth the Church needs." ~ Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver
The full text of Archbishop Chaput's comments can be read in his column:It's a matter of honesty: to receive Communion, we need to be in communion
Dutiful Catholicism
".. Catholics see politics as part of the history of salvation. For us, no one is a minor actor in that drama. Each person is important. And one of the most important duties we have is to use our gifts in every way possible for the glory of God and for the common good. That’s why Catholics and other Christians have always taken an active role in public life. What we believe about God shapes how we think about men and women. It also shapes what we do about promoting human dignity.
Today’s national discussion about religion and politics is sometimes so very strange. If God is the center of our lives, then of course that fact will influence our behavior, including our political decisions. That’s natural and healthy. What’s unnatural and unhealthy is the kind of public square where religious faith is seen as unwelcome and dangerous. But that seems to be exactly what some people want: a public square stripped of God and stripped of religious faith.
Our duty, if we’re serious about being Catholics, is to not let that happen. But our work as citizens doesn’t end there. Our bigger task is to help renew American public life by committing ourselves ever more deeply to our Catholic faith -- and acting like we really mean it."
"What we really believe, we conform our lives to. And if we don't conform our lives to what we claim to believe, then we're living a lie. When public officials claim to be “Catholic” but then say they can't offer their beliefs about the sanctity of the human person as the basis of law, it always means one of two things. They’re either very confused, or they’re very evasive. All law is the imposition of somebody’s beliefs on somebody else. That’s exactly the reason we have debates, and elections, and Congress – to turn the struggle of ideas and moral convictions into laws that guide our common life." ~ Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver
The full text of Archbishop Chaput's comments can be read in his Keynote Address to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast:HOPE AND ITS DAUGHTERS
Formation of Conscience
"To the degree that our conscience is not informed by the divine truth, to that degree our conscience is liable to an erroneous judgment. There are times when we make a wrong moral judgment because of ignorance of the truth. Sometimes, we are responsible for the ignorance because we have failed to seek out the truth or have dulled our conscience through repeated sin. Sometimes, we are not responsible for our ignorance. In any case, it is always our responsibility to inform our conscience with the truth, especially with the help of our teachers in the faith, the Holy Father, the bishops in communion with the Holy Father, and our priests, co-workers with the bishops (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 1790-1794). The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" summarizes well for us the means of forming a good conscience:
'In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church" (No. 1785).'" Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis
The full text of Archbishop Burke's comments can be found in his pastoral letter:On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good
Making A Conscious Decision To Be Or Not To Be Catholic
"It is always a temptation to emphasize the personal aspect of faith with the intent of “reducing” the faith to those elements with which we are comfortable in our life. This is deeply erroneous. The commitment of faith is a commitment to grow not only closer to Jesus Christ but also to continue to grow, sometimes through questions and struggles, into the full faith of the Church."
"Clearly each human person has a conscience and should follow it because by definition conscience is the intellectual act of judgment of what is right and wrong to do or not to do. It is the last best judgment of what one ought to choose. Thus, conscience must be formed through education and prayer, and be informed by the teaching of Christ. We cannot form our conscience in solitary isolation or simply with reference to cultural practices or convictions. Conscience can only be formed authentically by reference to the truth. Truth and conscience go together. Following an authentic conscience builds the truly human. Following a conscience without reference to truth sets an individual and society adrift on a sea of hopelessness.
There are many implications of these principles. We profess our faith not merely in a formula of words, but rather in the realities to which those words refer. And that certainly applies in the matter of abortion, euthanasia, cloning and other issues which are before the American people and the world public at this time. Long before science made clear that each individual is genetically new and unique from conception, the Church taught that abortion is a great evil. She still teaches this even in the face of the tragedy in our country where respect for the sanctity of human life has been eroded."
"I have already said this before, in a previous Pastoral Letter in 1990: 'Although we must all follow our conscience, the task of conscience is not to create moral truth, but perceive it. It is quite possible for an individual to perceive the moral reality of a particular situation erroneously. Such a person may be sincere, but he or she is sincerely wrong.
Catholics who publicly dissent from the Church’s teaching on the right to life of all unborn children should recognize that they have freely chosen by their own actions to separate themselves from what the Church believes and teaches. They have also separated themselves in a significant way from the Catholic community.
The Church cannot force such people to change their position; but she can and does ask them honestly to admit in the public forum that they are not in full union with the Church.
One who practices such dissent, even in the mistaken belief that it is permissible, may remain a Catholic in some sense, but has abandoned the full Catholic faith. For such a person to express ‘communion’ with Christ and His Church by the reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist is objectively dishonest.'"
"It is a time for honesty. I ask and urge that Catholic voters and Catholics in public life carefully consider their position if they find themselves in opposition to Church teaching in these matters. Sadly, I must point out that to continue down this road places them in danger of distancing themselves even more from Jesus Christ and from His Church." ~ Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark
The full text of Archbishop Myers' comments can be found in his pastoral letter:A Time for Honesty
Deepening our Understanding of the Truths of the Catholic Faith
"Proper conscience formation presupposes good will. We must be willing, no matter what the cost, to recognize moral truth when it becomes clear. We begin to discover moral truth by reflecting on the principles of natural law - the law God has written in our hearts. These principles are not externally imposed rules but the intrinsic requirements implied by true respect for everything that is humanly good. They include our awareness that we always should do what is morally upright, that we should love God and neighbor, that we should never intentionally harm ourselves or others, and that we should always treat others fairly.
We discover moral truth in greater detail when we reflect on the Ten Commandments, which are norms that flow from these principles. When we strive to understand these principles and norms in the bracing way that the Church understands them (CCC 2083-2557) we come to see more clearly what morality concretely requires of us. A properly formed conscience can never approve an evil or go against a law of God. Conscience recognizes objective truth which binds every human person. The “voice of God” and his law are never relativistic, telling one person “it is permitted to abort a child,” and telling another person “you may not,” for God never contradicts himself.
I urge the clergy, catechists, and laity of the Diocese of Fargo to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church to understand the true meaning of conscience. In order to facilitate this understanding, I am mandating today that every priest or deacon, who preaches on the first two Sundays in Lent of 2005, is to present a catechetical homily on conscience. The section on conscience of the Catechism is to be distributed to every Catholic in the pew on the First Sunday of Lent." ~ Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, D.D., Bishop of Fargo
The full text of Bishop Aquila's comments can be found in his pastoral letter:You Will Know the Truth and the Truth Will Set You Free
Authentic Christian Discipleship
Rev. Deacon Keith Fournier

Our political involvement as Christian citizens should be to promote the common good.

At the foundation of our national and personal freedom is a concept called the "Common Good." Perhaps one of the oldest references to the concept is found in the "Epistle of Barnabus," an early Church document dating back to 130 A.D. Long enshrined in Christian social teaching, the concept of "the Common Good" is also one of the foundation stones of the political philosophy and patrimony of Western civilization.

The Catholic Catechism defines "Common Good" as "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily." In the tradition the concept usually embraces three aspects of "fulfillment" as it relates to the human person and his/her rights to full participation in the social order; a respect for the human person, the social well-being and development of the entire society, and "peace" which is more than the absence of war, it is the stability and security of a just order (see CCC #1905-1912)

At an even deeper level the concept requires the embrace of a vital Christian social "hermeneutic," a lens through which Christians are supposed to view the very meaning of human existence. Christians should, if they understand the classical Christian faith, know that we were made for family, for community, and for social participation.
Contrary to the individualism and atomism of the age, which has even infected much of the post-Reformation Protestant Christian community, the individual is not the measure of all things. Freedom is not found in solitude. Nor is it found in retreating into our little enclaves and fighting to protect "us" against them. This is a recipe for division and despair, even when such an approach is followed by Christians--who of all people should follow in the footsteps of the one who gave Himself up for all!
Christian anthropology (the understanding of the nature of man/woman) introduced the very concept of "person" to civilized discourse. It is classical Christian thought that insists that we cannot be fully human without living together. We are social by nature and design.
Because of this we are also bound to one another by an obligation of solidarity (we simply are our brothers keeper) and we have a duty to participate in the social order and find a way to build a just society with all men and women, even those who are different then us or with whom we do not agree.
To not only understand all this but to live it--is to promote the "Common Good."

Catholic Social teaching addresses fundamental and universal truths such as the dignity of every human person, the sanctity of all human life, the primacy of true marriage and the family founded upon it, the nature of--and obligations attendant to--human freedom, and our obligations to one another in human solidarity, including our responsibility to the poor, in all of their manifestations. These are not simply “religious” truths, in the sense of requiring revelation to prove them. They are revealed by the natural law which is accessible to all men and women and then confirmed by revelation. They are also moral truths, affecting every aspect of our common life. They should be guiding lights for everyone who seeks to enact and implement social, economic and public policy.

Faithful Citizenship is living in a way worthy of the Gospel
The Gospel consoles us, but also challenges us. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (Jn 14:6) He also said, “Come, follow me” (Mt 19:21).
If we are to be Jesus’ disciples, we must in faith accept who Jesus says He is: God’s own Son. Yet, this belief has ramifications. We who really accept and believe that Jesus is who He says He is are compelled to follow Him, whatever the cost.
The Gospel, then, calls us to join our belief with action. Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt. 7:21). Here we have the necessity of belief, yet Jesus tells us that this belief is something more than inwardly focused intellectual assent. It involves discerning and doing God’s will.
Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is that we must love God with all our heart, soul and mind. Then, He adds, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:37-39). What does loving our neighbor entail? Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). The “least of these” Jesus has in mind are the hungry, thirsty, naked, the stranger, the imprisoned, the sick, the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.
If we ever had any doubt, this passage confronts us with the reality that the Gospel is not just about Jesus and “me.” Rather, the essence of the Gospel always is Jesus and “we,” we His people. In some circles the term “social gospel” has become popular as a way to draw attention to those areas of social justice that require our Christian witness. Yet, really, there is only one Gospel, the Good News of Jesus, and it is “social” by its very nature in that Jesus saves us as a people and we are a people who are relational by virtue of baptism.
There is a simplicity to Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as we love God and ourselves. Note, however, that in this simple formula, Jesus does not provide us with a checklist of minimum requirements for discipleship. He leaves no room for complacency or indifference. Rather, if we are to call ourselves His followers, we must give over our entire life to discipleship and identity with Jesus. As Catholics, then, we are called not to be minimalists, but disciples in totality, in and out of season.
The full text of Bishop Galante's pastoral letter:

The Sunday Eucharist

The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin. (CCC 2181)
Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 2182)

Being true disciples of Christ Jesus and thereby fulfilling our vocational call to holiness:

Cologne, Germany
Sunday, 21 August 2005
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