Q: Why was Jesus a descendant of Judah, instead of Joseph or Reuben?


    A: It seems each one of us wishes to explore our own ancestry in order to ascertain a few things about ourselves. Our ancestry most certainly provides us an understanding of our own characteristics and mannerisms.

    In the case of the genealogy of Jesus Christ (see, Matthew, Chapter 1, Verses 1-25), we learn in Verses Two and Three that of the 12 sons of Jacob, who also is known as Israel, Judah is one of Jesus’ ancestors. Furthermore, we see in Verse Six that King David shares the same ancestor, namely Judah.

    This is important, for Judah is the son through whom we recognize the kingly succession, an ancient lineage which Jesus Christ brings to fulfillment.           

    Of course, we recognize in the genealogy of Jesus Christ that he is both God and man.


    Q: When did the term Roman Catholic Church first come into being?


    A: We continue the theme of “tracing our roots” with the question about the terminology of Roman Catholic Church. Contrary to what many may believe, using the term Roman as a description of the Catholic Church is rather recent in our Church’s history.

    History instructs that this term of Roman was attached to the Catholic Church more as an insult than as an objective description. This term was employed to improperly identify that the Roman Catholic Church was just another Christian denomination and something lesser than the Catholic Church. For example, things got so contentious and deplorable that in 16th-century England there was great division in England over who governed the local Church. At that time, we recognized many of the great English martyrs, such as St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More.

    Did you know that the word Christian can be traced back to the first century, namely, the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 11, but the word Christian was not usually used as a description of the Church. Near the beginning of the second century, St. Ignatius of Antioch provided the first written statement of the Catholic Church as he was to be martyred for the Faith.  

    Over time, the term Roman has taken on a more positive connotation, but does not describe the complete Universal Church, namely, the Catholic Church. May we all recognize the great breadth of the Catholic Church, both in the East and in the West, North and the South.


    Q: If a person who is divorced goes to Confession and receives God’s grace and mercy, why do they still need their marriage annulled to receive Communion?                                                                 


    A: Recently, Pope Francis wrote about the great need for pastoral outreach by the Catholic Church toward all people, especially those who find themselves in complicated situations with respect to Church teaching, namely, those divorced and remarried without the benefit of an annulment. Here, let us differentiate between the person divorced, yet not remarried, and the one who is divorced and has remarried, without the benefit of an annulment.

    It is, hopefully, commonly understood that the person divorced and not remarried is free to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist as long as the person possesses no impediments preventing him or her from receiving Holy Communion. On the other hand, one who has divorced and remarried without the benefit of an annulment is living in contradiction to Church teaching specifically regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony. Your insight into one going to Confession, namely, celebrating the Sacrament of Penance, and receiving God’s grace and mercy, is a perfect beginning for that individual to have his or her faith life normalized with Church teaching.

    Pope Francis recently provided instruction in order that many annulments may be processed more quickly out of pastoral sensitivity for the people petitioning the Church for an annulment. It is my hope that more and more people will take advantage of this new canonical process in order that they may be in full conformity with Church teaching on the sacred nature of matrimony.

    In this Jubilee Year of Mercy we are constantly reminded that we are to be open to God’s grace and mercy.  It behooves us to reach out to all people, especially those who have perhaps had their Christian journey alter course to a different trajectory than the Church would have hoped.  Each one of us is made in God’s image and likeness and consequently we should extend unreservedly God’s compassion and love to all.

    During this Extraordinary Ordinary Time may each of you find great comfort in knowing that each one of us is precious in God’s eyes. We are one family in faith because Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has made it so.


    May God bless you and your family.



To “Ask the Bishop,” direct questions to, Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools – P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952; (740) 282-3631.

The "Ask the Bishop Question Form" can be found here.