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Bill wrote:

Hi guys,

I am a 50-year-old Catholic father of seven living in the USA. My sister, also a Catholic, sings in a Methodist choir and has been going to a Bible study with the Seventh Day Adventists.

While studying the Bible (a good thing) she has stopped eating pork, even though she loved to buy pork roast from the Amish market, because in the Old Testament it's considered unclean.
I couldn't remember if it was Leviticus or Deuteronomy that stated this. She also stopped eating shellfish for the same reason.

I remember reading in Acts where Peter went to a Greek town and they offered him unkosher food which he refused to eat and later had a vision from Christ stating that nothing He has created is unclean. (New Jerusalem Bible)

  • What is the Catholic approach to the common Hebrew customs of refraining from eating pork, shellfish, etc.?

Thanks,

Bill

  { What is the Catholic view of routine Hebrew customs of refraining from eating pork and shellfish? }

John replied:

Bill,

Thanks for your questions.

You have good reason to be concerned about your sister. She's not attending a typical Evangelical Bible Study.

She's attending a bible study of a community that, at best, can be called an aberrational group. The Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) have, for all intents and purposes, separated themselves from orthodox Christianity, be it Catholic or Protestant.

The SDA is nothing but a rehash of the Judaizer heresy that St. Paul railed against.

Let's deal with some specifics. St. Paul addresses the issue of what foods can be eaten extensively. Christ, Himself, speaking on the subject, said, it's what comes out of the mouth and not what goes in, that makes us unclean. (Matthew 15:11)

To understand the dietary laws, we need to understand the history of Israel. When Israel was enslaved in Egypt, they adopted the idolatrous practices of their masters. They worshiped bulls and sheep. That worship included sacrificing pigs and other animals the Bible calls unclean to the idols representing a bull or a sheep. These sacrificial animals were then eaten.

Hence, when God's Call delivered them from Egypt, He called on them to sacrifice the animals they had worshiped in Egypt. He also forbade them from eating or sacrificing those animals they had eaten and sacrificed in Egypt. The sacrifice originally was only supposed to happen once at Sinai, when God gave them the Ten Commandments, however, as they waited for Moses, they fell back into idolatry.

As a result, the entire sacrificial system described in Leviticus and Deuteronomy was instituted to remind the Israelites, on a daily basis, that the god's of Egypt were not gods, but animals to be eaten. The dietary prohibition on pork, and so forth, was again given to remind Israel that they were separate and different from the nations. They would not eat the animals, the nations sacrificed to idols.

John

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