Rogo Box Questions, Part VI

  •  What is a basilica? How many basilicas are there?

 A basilica is a church that has specific detication or ceremonial rights, as given by the Pope (see the excerpt below).  There are over a thousand baslicas around the world.  A complete list of them can be found here:


An excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia: 

"Basilica" in the canonical sense

Basilica, as a term used by canon lawyers and liturgists, is a title assigned by formal concession or immemorial custom to certainmore important churches, in virtue of which they enjoy privileges of an honorific character which are not always very clearlydefined. Basilicas in this sense are divided into two classes, the greater or patriarchal, and the lesser, basilicas.

Major basilicas

To the former class belong primarily those four great churches of Rome (St. Peter'sSt. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul-without-the-Walls), which among other distinctions have a special "holy door" and to which a visit is always prescribed as one of the conditions for gaining the Roman Jubilee. They are also called patriarchal basilicas, seemingly as representative of the great ecclesiastical provinces of the world thus symbolically united in the heart of Christendom.

Moreover, a few other churches, notably that of St. Francis at Assisi and that of the Portiuncula, have also received theprivilege of ranking as patriarchal basilicas. As such they possess a papal throne and an altar at which none may say Massexcept by the pope's permission.

Minor basilicas

The lesser basilicas are much more numerous, including nine or ten different churches in Rome, and a number of others, such as the Basilica of the Grotto at Lourdes, the votive Church of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre, the Church of Marienthal in Alsace, etc. There has been a pronounced tendency of late years to add to their number. Thus the "Acta Apostolicae Sedis" for 1909 contain six, and the "Acta" for 1911 eight, such concessions.

In the Brief of erection the pope declares:

We, by our apostolic authority . . . erect (such and such a church) to the dignity of a lesser basilica and bestow upon it all the privileges which belong to the lesser basilicas of this our own cherished city.

These "privileges", besides conferring a certain precedence before other churches (not, however, before the cathedral of any locality), include the right of the conopaeum, the bell, and the cappa magna. The conopaeum is a sort of umbrella (also calledpapilio, sinicchio, etc.), which together with the bell is carried processionally at the head of the clergy on state occasions. Thecappa magna is worn by the canons or members of the collegiate chapter, if seculars, when assisting at Office. The form of theconopaeum, which is of red and yellow silk, is well shown in the arms of the cardinal camerlengo (see vol. VII, p. 242, coloured plate) over the cross keys.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a great entry on basilicas:

Rogo Box Questions, Part V

  •  What are other "rites" in the area?

 A great example of another Catholic Rite in the area is St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church.  They are located nearby at 1305 South Lander Street, Seattle.  You can learn more about them here: 

  •  How does the Catholic Church perceive premarital sex?

 The Catholic Church sees sex outside of the bonds of marriage as a sin.  In a nutshell, sex is for two reasons: babies and bonding.  If the coulple isn't open to both babies and bonding in the correct way, that couple is distancing themselves from God.

But - don't fret - there is a class for all of this.  Our RCIA class on Sex will be on 2/19/13.  For now, I'd like to quote a thread from that I found very helpful.  You can find the original thread here:

Here are some reasons why pre-marital sex is a mortal sin:

1) Human law provides the *minimum* standard for humans to live by. In other words, what is the most that humans can get away with without destroying themselves? God's law is exactly the opposite. God holds us to the *highest* standard possible. In other words, what behavior would be needed in order to achieve an absolute perfect society? We don't change God's law to suit us because we fall short. We don't even change God's law because it's *impossible* for humans to achieve. Instead, we adapt because we should always be striving for the ideal. With that stated, what kind of behavior do you think God would expect of unmarried couples?

2) Moral behavior also requires that we have the highest respect for human life possible. As such, we should *never* do harm, short of self-defense. Pre-marital sex, no matter how careful, *always* has a risk of pregnancy. This could lead the mother to another mortal sin through abortion. The couple is also putting a potential human life's entire future at risk by not being prepared to accept the responsibility to raise it or be prepared to do so in advance. It might have to grow up in a single parent or unstable household, finances would not have been prepared, and so on. The fact that a couple could potentially put an innocent life at risk is the *highest* form of selfishness and is completely irresponsible.

3) Despite years of scientific study and philosophical debate, *no one* knows precisely when the soul enters the human body and human life begins. As such, Catholics are required to take the safest route and assume the most conservative answer, which is that life begins at the moment of conception. Birth control can cause the failure of a fertilized egg to implant, thus causing an abortion. Someone could be the unknowing partner to unintentional murder. Some might also choose to use the morning after pill, which does essentially the same thing, but on purpose.

4) Pre-marital sex *always* presents the possibility of sexually transmitted disease. It would be a grave sin to infect someone with a dangerous disease, and some diseases, like HIV, can be transmitted even through condoms. People might not even know they have them. HPV has no symptoms, and yet can cause cervical cancer. How many times have people believed themselves to be in a monogamous relationship, only to discover that their partner is cheating? Over 50% of the population has been cheated on at some point. How many had suspicions beforehand?

5) Promiscuity leads to more promiscuity. By sleeping around, it decreases the special bond that one has when they are exclusive with a single partner. They want to explore the lustful side of sexuality more, unimpeded by feelings. It increases the possibility of cheating during marriage, and has helped to contribute to our skyrocketing divorce rate. Why get married when I can just sleep with someone and move on? People get obsessed with the initial sexual attraction, and never move on to the more intimate phases of relationships. When the fireworks stop, they simply dump their lover, find someone new, and recapture the feeling again. You always hear in the movies about "fear of commitment". Well, a LOT of this is due to the fact that people think they have a good thing going. Why would they want to limit their sexual fun by committing permanently to someone?

6) During pre-marital sex, one is treating the partner like an object of pleasure, rather than an object of love. (This can occur EVEN INSIDE OF A MARRIAGE, by the way...) Rather than using sex for its wondrous purpose, which is a special unity that offers the possibility for the creation of life, we detach from that purpose, and use it solely for pleasure. To be sure, sex is pleasurable and provides fun and great intimacy for couples, but it is meant to be a unique bond that strengthens the family unit, rather than fracturing it through promiscuity. By giving into lust, a couple is *exploiting* each other for selfish purposes, even if the bond of love is there. The minute that sex becomes *just* about fun, the couple begins to test those boundaries to see how much *fun* one can have. These boundaries are difficult to resist, and one can find themselves in trouble very fast. Even inside a marriage, when you are not open to life, you are taking one of the most *special* gifts of God, which is actually being allowed to participate in the process of creation, and rejecting it as if it is worthless.

7) Pre-marital sex also undermines the entire definition of marriage, which is a contract between a single man and woman who love each other to come before God sacramentally and pledge their life to the raising of children. This was to ensure that a family unit would stay strong and guarantee that they would provide their all for their offspring. Without this contract, it makes the problems of child-rearing FAR more difficult, unstable, and uncertain. While many families without two parents certainly do succeed, marriage provides a legal and religious pledge that the roles of mother and father will be undertaken as a team for life. Once you start playing with the definition of marriage, you open a whole new can of worms. Anyone can marry anyone for the purposes of "fully expressing their love through sex". Again, there is no unitive act here or thought for children. It is not a contract with the family first, but a contract regarding the selfish pleasure interests of the two parties involved first. If children come along, well, then we'll figure out what to do then... 

So, why is pre-marital sex bad? It could lead to abortion, it could lead to the creation of a child with a family completely unprepared to raise it, it can transmit disease, it is selfish, it weakens the family, it provides a mentality for divorce and lack of commitment, it is exploitative, it undermines the definition of marriage, and is the misuse of a hugely unique gift from God. Does that help?