08 December 2015

The Semantics of the Immaculate Conception

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which celebrates the Roman Catholic doctrine that:
A) Mary, from her moment of conception, was sinless
B) Mary conceived Jesus without having sex
C) Mary conceived Jesus who was sinless
D) Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist after being barren for many years

This is probably one of the most misunderstood doctrines in Catholicism, confused by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The answer is A, although many people will answer B because the readings at mass today are about Gabriel announcing Mary's pregnancy. This confusion has a few interesting semantic implications.