Father Longenecker Explains It All

Saturday, August 2, AD 2014

 

 

Father Longenecker seems to think that conservative Catholics who have problems with some of what Pope Francis says are the same as liberal Catholics who reject Church teaching on abortion and euthanasia:

 

 

Now with Pope Francis the cafeteria Catholics are the conservatives. They splutter and fume at Pope Francis. He’s the pope, but they disagree with him about this and reject his words about that just as avidly and with as much fervor as the liberals used to reject Pope Benedict. They pick him to pieces, refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt and paint him as a terrible pope—just like the liberals did with Benedict. The liberals thought Benedict was a bad and inadequate pope. Ditto the conservatives with Francis.

Go here to read the rest.  Now I think Father Longenecker is wrong on this, and I can name one person who probably would agree with me:  the Pope Emeritus.

Back when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, he wrote a letter in July of 2004 in which he made some crucial distinctions:

2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it” (no. 74).

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

Go here to read the entire letter.  The idea that Catholics must be in lock step with every view of a Pope in order to be a good Catholic would have struck most Catholics who have ever lived as a bizarre notion.  For those confused on this point Cardinal Newman, as usual, is a font of light and wisdom:

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21 Responses to Father Longenecker Explains It All

  • Pope Francis said on EWTN just this past Thursday, this Pope Francis said before becoming Pope, that: “The blood and water coming out of the side of Christ is a symbol of the Church.”
    .
    I am having a problem with that. If there is someone who might clarify this statement I would appreciate it.

  • What is not the truth, the complete and total lack of evil, is a lie.

  • Now with Pope Francis the cafeteria Catholics are the conservatives. They splutter and fume at Pope Francis. He’s the pope, but they disagree with him about this and reject his words about that just as avidly and with as much fervor as the liberals used to reject Pope Benedict. They pick him to pieces, refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt and paint him as a terrible pope—just like the liberals did with Benedict. The liberals thought Benedict was a bad and inadequate pope. Ditto the conservatives with Francis.

    Does Fr. Longenecker really want to get into the business of defending the Pope’s ex parte communications with random laity, his half-assed remarks in newspaper interviews (‘proselytism is solemn nonsense’), his confused musings on political economy (complete with polemicists’ terminology), and equate the dismay ordinary people experience with the contemptuous treatment John Paul and Benedict received from the likes of Garry Wills and Luke Timothy Johnson?

    I’ve gotten to the point where I want these useless organization men to just go away.

  • So-called “liberal” Catholics differed with Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II & Pope Benedict XVI about divorce and remarriage, ordination of women, artificial birth control and abortion.

    My complaints with Pope Francis are, to name a few, he talks about things he knows nothing about (e.g, economics and the enviornment), he talks nasty about those who desire the Traditional Liturgy, he has sent the wolves after the FFI and the Paraguyan Diocese of Ciudad del Este, and has done little or nothing about dissenting orders and has (to my knowledge) paid lip service and nothing else to the serious problems faced by the Middle East Catholics.

    Pope Francis was part of a dissenting order – the Society of Jesus. A Jesuit priest told my wife and others when she lived in Colombia that artificial birth control was just fine. Pope Francis is from a part of the world plagued with self-inflicted poverty – a part of the world that typically has a knee-jerk reaction to blame the USA for all of their problems.

    Father Longnecker can write what he wants and think what he wants. I can dispute what he thinks and writes when it deals with the lack of leadership in the Vatican.

  • The term cafeteria catholic refers to people to go through the teachings of the church and and pick and choose what they will accept.
    The people who disagree with some of Francis’ difficult-to-understand remarks are not rejecting or picking and choosing any church teachings.
    I hope the pope himself isn’t a cafeteria catholic, as some of his remarks make me wonder what he means or what he believes.

  • Dissenting Catholics are those who dissent [aka protest] actual teachings of the Church either of the ordinary magisterium (doctrines) or extraordinary magisterium (dogmas)

    Cafeteria Catholics (very closely related) are those who pick and choose from among the actual teachings (doctrines/dogmas) of the Church the ones they like and the ones they dislike

    Both reveal an underlying crisis of faith in God Who reveals through Jesus Christ His Word made flesh and Who by the power of the Holy Spirit continues to teach through the pope and bishops of the Church in union with him-when teaching on matters of faith and morals.

    This is not every word which comes from the mouth of a pope or bishop by any means. For example, interviews are interviews whether done by Pope Benedict or Pope Francis, neither are magisterial. A committee of a bishop’s conference coming out in favor/or against a bill in Congress is not a magisterial teaching either. However, a pope or a committee of bishops on a bill may very well be explaining or putting forth a doctrine-that might upset a liberal or conservative. So when disagreeing we need to really sort out what we are disagreeing with.

    However that does not solve everything either. How can one confess one is ‘in union with’ the pope and be constantly criticizing every word, gesture etc that he makes. We saw the so called Progesive Catholics who hold to ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ crucify Pope Paul VI, St John Paul II and Pope Benedict. However, do we not see the same hyper-criticism (if not actual dissent) from ‘ultra-traditionalists’ now?

    Father might have overreached about ‘dissent/cafeteria catholicism’ of ultratraditionalists [perhaps he did; in some cases I don’t think he did at all] however, the hypercriticism of the progressives has become the hypercriticism of the ultratraditionalists today Is this what Christ wants when calling us to unity in truth and love [communion]?

  • “How can one confess one is ‘in union with’ the pope and be constantly criticizing every word, gesture etc that he makes.”

    Not every word certainly, but some critiques and criticisms do not hurt such unity. That has to be the case or else Popes would not so often radically change the policies of their predecessors. Compare and contrast for example the policy of Pope John XXIII regarding religious freedom from that of Pius IX. Consider the policy of John Paul II regarding the death penalty to that of Pius IX who had hundreds of executions carried out under his reign. Where Popes differ it seems odd that the laity are required to suddenly change stances simply to match those of the Pope of the day, especially on matters unrelated to doctrine.

  • It’s sad that so many are unable to criticize their own.

    That’s what we need to keep ourselves and our institutions on the right track.

    Methinks.

  • Mary De Voe,
    The blood and water coming out of the side of Christ is symbolic of the Church ( Christ’s Bride) on one level and of Baptism and the Eucharist on another level. Go back to God casting Adam into a deep sleep THEN taking his bride out of his side. This predicted in a veiled manner the Bride of Christ coming out of the side of the Second Adam who is Christ (1 Cor.15:45) who expired ( the deep sleep of Adam) and then His Bride the Church came out of His side. Francis was just repeating Augustine (I think it was) in this matter.

  • I agree with Penguins Fan 100%:
    .
    “My complaints with Pope Francis are, to name a few, he talks about things he knows nothing about (e.g., economics and the environment)….”
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    I dread this:
    .
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/francis-drafts-enviroment

  • It’s amazing how so many clergy and lay people are refusing to acknowledge the reality of the Pope’s words and actions. Voris tells us we shouldn’t criticize the Pope publically, write him a letter. Now Fr. Longenecker tell us concerned conservative, Catholics are “cafeteria Catholics” because we can’t agree with everything that rolls off the papal tongue. These men are preaching a cultic mentality to their readers and listeners. I was in Herbert Armstrong’s World Wide Church Of God cult 30 years ago, so I know something about the cultic mindset. That mentality didn’t allow any criticism of the leader and ridiculed and marginalized anyone who dared to do so. These men, by their demand for unthinking obedience, are going to ruin the faith of many Catholics, when reality comes crashing down on their heads. My loss of faith in my former cult nearly destroyed me, it was only through the reception of the Catholic faith that I was able to finally recover. Now, I see fools like Voris and Longenecker demanding the same thing that Herbert Armstrong demanded of me. Shame on both of these men, shame!

  • I have found that it’s a good idea to not pay any attention to Fr. Longnecker whatsoever. Enough said.

  • Stephen,
    Incomes and career and book sales and income from diocesan speaking engagements are connected to idolizing the Magisterium. I hope the connection is subconscious and I think it is in Fr. L’s case because he doesn’t censor you in his combox like many do.
    You don’t get recurring invites from parishes to speak for a fee if you even constructively criticize Popes. Follow the money trail. This is a business for many. St. Paul said the laborer deserves his wage but he “withstood Peter to his face because he was deserving of blame.”. And Paul had a backup career in tent sales. Many Catholic pundits do not….and probably fear that eventuality.

  • Saint Catherine of Siena wrote to the Pope urging him to return the Papacy to Rome, reform the Papacy and the Church.

    St. Catherine did not take everything the Pope said and did as beyond criticism or critique. The “professional” Catholic should learn from St. Catherine.

  • bill bannon: “His Bride the Church came out of His side.”
    .
    I agree. “His Bride, the Church came out of His side.” The Blood and Water that came out of His side is the Church, not a symbol of the Church, not a symbol of His Bride, the Church, but the Church.
    .
    Otherwise, every man is a symbol of himself, which is true, but first the man must be who he is. A man.

  • Thanks for posting the link to my video! I believe that the comments on the article said what needed to be.

  • I hope the connection is subconscious and I think it is in Fr. L’s case because he doesn’t censor you in his combox like many do.

    Now we all want to know what shark you may be referring to…

  • Donald,

    I was not ignoring your post in response to my post (see above). I simply have been enjoying my summer :-). To your point, I do agree that over two thousand years that have been very great shifts within the Church, in her direction etc [while not change in substance]. In some senses, ever papal election (although Catholics were not aware of this for ages) has been seen as a conscious choice to either ‘maintain’ or ‘change’ (again we are not talking about ‘teaching’, sacraments etc). What was to be maintained or changed certainly has been different.

    What is new for Catholics (since Pope Pius IX) is taking such an interest in the pope, his well being, and what he was teaching (if an when he taught). Even that has changed somewhat over the last century and a half. Catholics would barely know that an encyclical had been published years ago, while today, we know that the Pope kissed a baby in St Peter’s Square (or gave another interview lol).

    Catholics can indeed be critical of the pope, in fact I believe the ability to be able to criticize in an informed way, does indeed help the Church to grow overall. I believe that not everyone who is critical is necessarily a foe nor do I believe that anger automatically negates love. What I do believe however is that each of us as well as all of use together need to constantly remember who we are and to what we are called. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, the sacrament of salvation for the world. It is precisely as ‘communion’ [truth in unity and love] that we are that sacrament. Given this, our message and method needs to be one of constantly seeking to both dialogue in the truth and reconciling in love.

    That is what I was attempting to communicate in my earlier post and it is what I believe.

  • “I was not ignoring your post in response to my post (see above). I simply have been enjoying my summer”

    Oh, I quite understand that Botolph. Work often prevents me from responding to comments and I will be on vacation for a week at the end of this week.

Cardinal Newman on Papal Infallibility

Saturday, October 19, AD 2013

“It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.”

Pastoral of the Swiss Bishops on Papal Infallibility cited by John Henry Cardinal Newman

 

One of the shrewdest minds ever placed at the service of the Church was that of the recently beatified John Henry Cardinal Newman.  I have benefited immensely over the years from reading his writings.  Here are his thoughts on the subject of papal infallibility, a subject misunderstood by the World at large and by too many Catholics:

NOW I am to speak of the Vatican definition, by which the doctrine of the Pope’s infallibility has become de fide, that is, a truth necessary to be believed, as being included in the original divine revelation, for those terms, revelation, depositum, dogma, and de fide, are correlatives; and I begin with a remark which suggests the drift of all I have to say about it. It is this:—that so difficult a virtue is faith, even with the special grace of God, in proportion as the reason is exercised, so difficult is it to assent inwardly to propositions, verified to us neither by reason nor experience, but depending for their reception on the word of the Church as God’s oracle, that she has ever shown the utmost care to contract, as far as possible, the range of truths and the sense of propositions, of which she demands this absolute reception. “The Church,” says Pallavicini, “as far as may be, has ever abstained from imposing upon the minds of men that commandment, the most arduous of the Christian Law—viz., to believe obscure matters without doubting.” To co-operate in this charitable duty has been one special work of her theologians, and rules are laid down by herself, by tradition, and by custom, to assist them in the task. She only speaks when it is necessary to speak; but hardly has she spoken out magisterially some great general principle, when she sets her theologians to work to explain her meaning in the concrete, by strict interpretation of its wording, by the illustration of its circumstances, and by the recognition of exceptions, in order to make it as tolerable as possible, and the least of a temptation, to self-willed, independent, or wrongly educated minds. A few years ago it was the fashion among us to call writers, who conformed to this rule of the Church, by the name of “Minimizers;” that day of tyrannous ipse-dixits, I trust, is over: Bishop Fessler, a man of high authority, for he was Secretary General of the Vatican Council, and of higher authority still in his work, for it has the approbation of the Sovereign Pontiff, clearly proves to us that a moderation of doctrine, dictated by charity, is not inconsistent with soundness in the faith. Such a sanction, I suppose, will be considered sufficient for the character of the remarks which I am about to make upon definitions in general, and upon the Vatican in particular.

The Vatican definition, which comes to us in the shape of the Pope’s Encyclical Bull called the Pastor Æternus, declares that “the Pope has that same infallibility which the Church has”: to determine therefore what is meant by the infallibility of the Pope we must turn first to consider the infallibility of the Church. And again, to determine the character of the Church’s infallibility, we must consider what is the characteristic of Christianity, considered as a revelation of God’s will.

Our Divine Master might have communicated to us heavenly truths without telling us that they came from Him, as it is commonly thought He has done in the case of heathen nations; but He willed the Gospel to be a revelation acknowledged and authenticated, to be public, fixed, and permanent; and accordingly, as Catholics hold, He framed a Society of men to be its home, its instrument, and its guarantee. The rulers of that Association are the legal trustees, so to say, of the sacred truths which He spoke to the Apostles by word of mouth. As He was leaving them, He gave them their great commission, and bade them “teach” their converts all over the earth, “to observe all things whatever He had commanded them;” and then He added, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

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96 Responses to Cardinal Newman on Papal Infallibility

  • The whole of Bl John Henry Newman’s Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (of which the above is an extract) repays careful study. Chapters 6 on the Encyclical of 1864 and Chapter 7 on the notorious Syllabus of Errors (which he shows to be destitute of any dogmatic authority whatsoever) reminds one that Newman was also the author of Tract 90, in which he demonstrated, to the horror of Protestant Oxford, that the Thirty-Nine Articles could be harmonized with the teaching of Trent.

    The reference in paragraph 11 above to the great mystery of predestination should serve to remind us that on many matters, such as grace and free will, the Church has contented herself with condemning certain errors, Calvinist, Jansenist, or Pelagian, whilst leaving theologians free to hold various conflicting opinions and the faithful to adopt a reverent agnosticism towards any and all of them.

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  • Major problems with the papacy to begin with. There is no office of pope in the NT nor a supreme leader of the entire church for at least 500 years. Also, popes were not always considered infallible.

  • “There is no office of pope in the NT nor a supreme leader of the entire church for at least 500 years.”

    Wrong on both counts. Saint Peter is present in the New Testament and he was the first Pope. The successor Popes have a very well developed history from the time of Saint Clement circa 98 AD. From the earliest days the Church looked to the Pope for definitive rulings on all disputed questions.

  • Peter was not a “pope” i.e. supreme leader of the church. He never refers to himself in this way nor do the other apostles. There is no one in the early centuries who has the supreme power over the entire church. No on is referred to as some kind of supreme leader of the entire church for centuries. Not even I Clement makes such a claim nor does Clement himself claim to be the supreme leader of the entire. Read i Clement and you will find that he never refers to himself as such.

  • “Peter was not a “pope” i.e. supreme leader of the church. He never refers to himself in this way nor do the other apostles.”

    God refers to him in this way:

    ” 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    In the Gospel of John Christ tells Peter to feed his sheep. Peter is regarded as the head of the Apostles both in the Gospels and Acts and in the writings of the Church fathers.

    Pope Saint Clement was called upon to sort out problems in the Church in Corinth. Why in the world would they do that unless the authority of Rome was already recognized?

    “we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy,”

    Saint Irenaeus, writing in 178 recognizes the authority of Rome:

    “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say, ] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

    3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.”

  • Those passages in the gospels do not support the idea that Jesus was making Peter the supreme leader of the church. Rather they do show he was one of the leaders and he did play an important part. However, he was not the supreme ultimate leader of the entire church. Even in Acts 15 we do not see him acting as the supreme leader that we would expect a modern pope to have. It was James, and not Peter who made the final decision in Acts 15:19. We also know by studying the NT that no apostle ever attests to Peter being the supreme leader of the entire church.

    In regards to Clement, he does not make any claim to being the supreme leader of the entire. One church helping out another church does not make a papacy. The first time a bishop appealed to Peter for authority was not until around 250 by Stephen.

    Roman Catholic historian von Dollinger on papal succession:

    “Of all the Fathers who interpret these passages (Matthew 16:18; John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter’s successors. How many Fathers have busied themselves with these three texts, yet not one of them who commentaries we possess–Origen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Cyril, Theodoret, and those whose interpretations are collected in catenas–has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter!

    Not one of them has explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His Church as the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors, but they understood by it either Christ Himself, or Peter’s confession of faith in Christ; often both together (Cited in Hunt D. A Women Rides the Beast. Harvest House Publishers, Eugene (OR) p. 146).”

    “ALTHOUGH CATHOLIC TRADITION, BEGINNING IN the late second and early third centuries, regards St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the first pope, there is no evidence that Peter was involved in the initial establishment of the Christian community in Rome (indeed, what evidence there is would seem to point in the opposite direction) or that he served as Rome’s first bishop…He often shared his position of prominence with James and John…However, there is no evidence that before his death Peter actually served the church of Rome as its first bishop, even though the “fact” is regularly taken for granted by a wide spectrum of Catholics and others (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., pp. 25,29).

  • Those passages in the gospels do not support the idea that Jesus was making Peter the supreme leader of the church. Rather they do show he was one of the leaders and he did play an important part. However, he was not the supreme ultimate leader of the entire church. Even in Acts 15 we do not see him acting as the supreme leader that we would expect a modern pope to have.

    And why would we expect him to?

    In regards to Clement, he does not make any claim to being the supreme leader of the entire. One church helping out another church does not make a papacy.

    The church in Corinth could have sought counsel from Antioch or Alexandria. But they didn’t.

    You’ve cited Hunt citing Dollinger. Just out of curiousity, have you checked Dollinger for yourself?

    At the risk of sounding persnickity, I’m not sure I’d trust the author of a book subtitled The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days to have presented & sourced the evidence for his argument completely and fairly. At least not without doing some verification first.

    And certainly not after glancing at Amazon’s most helpful review of the book.

  • “Roman Catholic historian von Dollinger on papal succession:”

    Von Dollinger broke with the Church over Vatican I. He was writing these words in the heat of controversy and not as a scholar. So you won’t embarrass yourself again by citing von Dollinger and claiming that he was a Catholic historian, go to the link below and read about him:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05094a.htm

    As for Mr. Hunt, you might as well be citing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to a Jewish audience. Mr. Hunt’s book is a Catholic bashing grab bag where he mines sources he clearly does not understand for anti-Catholic factoids. His basic thesis is that the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon, a staple of more deranged Protestants for the past five centuries. Jimmy Akin at the link below does a very good job of refuting this charge and the sloppiness and the ignorance that are the hallmarks of Mr. Hunt’s tome:

    http://jimmyakin.com/hunt-ing-the-whore-of-babylon

    In regard to Richard P. McBrien, that insult to believing and thinking Catholics everywhere, he has built his career at Notre Dame in attacking traditional Catholicism. He served as a paid consultant for Dan Brown’s Catholic bashing Da Vinci Code and his scholarship is as worthless as Dan Brown’s. McBrien ignores the testimony of Church Father after Church Father in the first centuries after Christ that Peter was the first bishop of Rome because McBrien hates the Papacy. McBrien is Dave Hunt with a scholarly veneer and a Roman collar.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6710

  • I’m working on my rant covering the post-modern cesspool they call, “scholarship.”

  • Donald,
    You claim that “Von Dollinger broke with the Church over Vatican I. He was writing these words in the heat of controversy and not as a scholar” is irrelevant to what he wrote. Either its true or not that ““Of all the Fathers who interpret these passages (Matthew 16:18; John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter’s successors”.

    All you need to do is to show is a church father interpreting Matthew 16:18; John 21:17 as being applied to the “Roman bishops as Peter’s successors”. If you can do that then it would appear he was lying. If not, then we have no reason to doubt him.

    Same principle applies to McBrien. Is it true or not that “there is no evidence that before his death Peter actually served the church of Rome as its first bishop”? What is the evidence that he did?

  • “He was writing these words in the heat of controversy and not as a scholar” is irrelevant to what he wrote. Either its true or not”

    It’s not true:

    http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/num41.htm

  • “Same principle applies to McBrien. Is it true or not that “there is no evidence that before his death Peter actually served the church of Rome as its first bishop”? What is the evidence that he did?”

    The testimony of the Church Fathers as I indicated. I have already quoted Saint Ireanaeus writing in 178 AD. I could cite many others.

  • In the first three centuries, when Christian communities were widely scattered, mostly poor and sometimes persecuted, the opportunities for the exercise of papal power, be it what it may, would be necessarily limited. That Anicetus should show a measure of deference to Polycarp, a man “who had spoken with John and with others who had seen the Lord,” over the Pascal controversy is less important than that Polycarp consulted him. That Irenaeus, the pupil of Polycarp, should urge Pope Victor to conciliate the churches of Asia over the same question is an argument in favour of the bishop of Rome’s authority, rather than detracting from it.

    That the Fathers should have no developed teaching on an authority still nascent is not at all surprising.

  • There is no papal power in the first century after the apostles being exercised. No one man had supreme power over the entire church at the time. What did Linus do that showed him to be the supreme leader of the entire church? Do other churches in this period acknowledge him as the supreme leader of the church?

  • “There is no papal power in the first century after the apostles being exercised.”

    Of course there is. I’ve already quoted Saint Clement to you. Why would the Church in Corinth otherwise call upon the Church in Rome to resolve their problem?

  • I Clement does not prove the papacy. Clement never refers to himself as the supreme leader of the church. If you read the letter carefully you will find he uses phrases such as “we” and “us”. To prove a papacy you need to show at least the following:
    1) One individual claims to be the supreme leader of the entire church
    2) Other churches acknowledging this claim
    3) Some kind of letter that demands it to be obeyed by the entire church.

    We don’t see this kind of thing in the first few centuries.

  • Not at all. Saint Peter never refers to himself as the chief of the apostles and that is clearly what he was as admitted even by almost all Protestants. The reality of the authority of Saint Clement is clearly present at a time when men and women were still alive who would have seen Saint Peter in Rome. Saint Ireanaeus, who you do your best to ignore, clearly sets forth in 178 the role of the papacy:

    “2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

    3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.”

  • There is no way for Paul or Peter to have founded the church at Rome. Rome was 1500 miles away and they were recorded in Acts to have been close to Jerusalem.

    Where in the NT does Peter refer to himself as the “chief of the apostles”? Where do the other apostles say this?

    Talking about one person succeeding another person does not make a papacy. That kind of thing went on in many churches in the early centuries. It still goes on today. To have a papacy you must have at least the 3 requirements that I mentioned. Those principles we do not see in the early centuries.

  • “There is no way for Paul or Peter to have founded the church at Rome. Rome was 1500 miles away and they were recorded in Acts to have been close to Jerusalem.”

    And they both came to Rome and established the apostolic succession.

    “Where in the NT does Peter refer to himself as the “chief of the apostles”? Where do the other apostles say this?”
    Do you deny that the Peter was the chief of the apostles? His name is given first in all lists of the apostles, Christ gives him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, builds his Church upon him, tells him to feed His sheep, and tells him to strengthen his brethren. In Acts he is clearly the leader. Church Fathers unhesitatingly proclaim Peter as chief of the apostles.

    “[T]he blessed Peter, the chosen, the preeminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with himself the Savior paid the tribute [Matt. 17:27], quickly grasped and understood their meaning. And what does he say? “Behold, we have left all and have followed you””

    Saint Clement of Alexandria 200 AD.

  • You know what else you won’t find any evidence for, either in the Bible or in the Fathers of the Early Church?

    Sola Scriptura

  • What Ireanaeus is claiming that Peter and Paul “founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles”. There is no historical support for this claim.

    Peter was one of the leaders of the ancient church but not the supreme leader. No human being was because they knew the supreme leader of the church was the Lord Christ.

    When Paul wanted to confirm his message that he received directly Christ he did not go to Peter alone but to the pillars of the church who were James, Cephas and John (Gal 2:9). This shows that Paul did not think of one man being the supreme leader of the entire church.

    Peter was given the keys of the kingdom. How did he use these keys?

  • Ernst,
    What is Sola Scriptura? How would you define it?

  • I would characterize Sola Scriptura freely as the idea that the Bible is the only authority a Christian need recognize as the source of what he believes.

    When Paul wanted to confirm his message that he received directly Christ he did not go to Peter alone but to the pillars of the church who were James, Cephas and John (Gal 2:9). This shows that Paul did not think of one man being the supreme leader of the entire church.

    Peter was given the keys of the kingdom. How did he use these keys?

    To found Christ’s Church, of course. What happened to James and John, the churches they founded, and their apostolic successors What happened to Cephas’s?

    (Sorry for the late reply –kids and their homework. Also apologies in advance for the delayed reply to your response, if any –kids and their supper.)

  • Quickly though, since we’re playing “Let’s Define the Terms!” We might want to get back to this for a sec:

    There is no office of pope in the NT nor a supreme leader of the entire church for at least 500 years. Also, popes were not always considered infallible.

    How are you using “office” institutionally or vocationally? What is it that you think the Catholic Curch teaches about Papal Infallibility?

    I’m going to guess you think that Catholics think the Pope can never be wrong about anything, right?

  • Ernst,
    No problems with replies. Its amazing people can have discussion across the planet on this kind of format.

    Sola Scriptura rests on the fact that the Scriptures alone are the inspired-inerrant Word of God and what follows from this is the Scripture alone has the ultimate-final authority for what is to be believed and practiced. There is no higher authority for the Christian.

    Peter used the keys-authority on his preaching on Pentecost by preaching the gospel of Christ. Other apostles also preached this gospel that saves.

    There is no office of a pope like there is an office of a bishop or elder in the NT.
    Papal infalliblity means “Infallibility belongs in a special way to the pope as head of the bishops (Matt. 16:17–19; John 21:15–17). As Vatican II remarked, it is a charism the pope “enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith (Luke 22:32), he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals.”
    http://www.catholic.com/tracts/papal-infallibility

    There are many problems with this. Matt. 16:17–19; John 21:15–17 says nothing about being the head of bishops.

  • “But who do you say that I AM?” Simon Peter answered and said,”Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Then Jesus answered and said, “Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven. And I say to thee, thou art Peter and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever thou shalt loose of earth shalt be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16: 16-20
    The Holy Spirit is God. God is infallible. The Holy Spirit calls men to the priesthood to act “in Persona Christi.” The Holy Spirit calls priests to the office of Bishops to act “in Persona Christi”. The Holy Spirit calls bishops to the office of Vicar of Christ on earth, Pope, Head of the Catholic Church to act “in Persona Christi”. The Pope, the Bishops and the priests are the Magisterial Body of Christ Who is the Truth. Truth is infallible or it is a lie.

  • Sola Scriptura rests on the fact that the Scriptures alone are the inspired-inerrant Word of God and what follows from this is the Scripture alone has the ultimate-final authority for what is to be believed and practiced. There is no higher authority for the Christian.

    And you know this because the Bible told you so?

    There is no office of a pope like there is an office of a bishop or elder in the NT

    And yet the opinion of the Bishop of Rome was something worth having when there was a disagreement within the church.

  • Mary,
    Are the popes, the Bishops and the priests infallible?

  • Ernst,
    Yes. The Scripture does claim to be the inspired Word of God (2 Tim 3:16).

    Actually the papacy has caused divisions in the church. Just look at church history.

  • I was referring more to the second half of your explaination of Sola Scriptura, the part about how “[it] alone has the ultimate-final authority for what is to be believed and practiced.”

    I see in 2 Tim 3:16 that Scripture is “useful for teaching, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. But, to use your own words, there seems to be a problem here for the idea that scripture is “alone … the ultimate-final authority.”

    We see in 1 Tim 3:15, for example, that the church itself is “the pillar and foundation of truth[,]” not Scripture.

    We also see Paul in 2 Thes say “stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” (2:15)

    What we don’t see is anything in the Bible saying the Bible itelf is ultimately and finally authoriative.

    Kind of like with your argument about the office of Supreme Pontiff, don’t you think?

  • In his History of Latin Christianity, Henry Hart Milman notes what he considers the remarkably ability of the early pontiffs to “anticipate the mind of the Church.” The Church fixes the date of Easter, the Church decides that heretics need not be rebaptized, the Church decides that the Incarnate combined two Natures in one Person; but each time Rome is in the lead and often appears isolated at first.

    To take one striking example, Pope Stephen (254-257) appeals to the tradition of his predecessors in upholding the validity of heretical baptism. He appears as a lone voice: the Apostolic Canons, the Synods of Iconium and Synnada, Clement of Alexandria, Firmilian, St. Basil, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Cyril, St. Athanasius, Optatus and St. Ambrose, all teach that the baptism of heretics “does not heal, does not cleanse, but defiles.” Nevertheless, the Roman view prevails and, 150 years later St Augustine and the North African bishops embrace it and the Novatians and Donatists are declared heretics for denying it.

    Now, Milman can only speak of the foresight and astuteness of the early popes, which is really no explanation at all. The simple answer is that to be orthodox and to be in communion with Rome was one and the same; the “Catholic party,” a phrase he frequently uses without defining it, is the party that includes the bishop of Rome. Any attempt to define the Church by her teaching or Christians by their tenets can only end in a vicious circle; the faithful were those in visible communion with the see of Rome and heretics were those separated from her communion.

  • “Are the popes, the Bishops and the priests infallible?”
    The Popes, the Bishops and the priests are infallible when they speak the TRUTH. The TRUTH is the Word of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is infallible. Infallibility rests when the Bishop of Rome , the Vicar of Christ on earth for “thou art Peter” speaks in concert with the Magisterium, a necessary step because of heresy. When the sola scriptura is translated or interpreted badly or when there is isogesis, a reading into the Holy Scripture some fact that is not in Holy Scripture, only somebody’s opinion, only the infallibility of the Pope speaking with the Magisterium through the Holy Spirit can ascertain the validity of the fact. We have as proof the “IMPRIMATUR”(go ahead and print) and the”NIHIL OBSTAT” ( no objection found), the working of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church.
    Every person who is brought into existence must submit his imperfect knowledge to some Divine Authority, because man is imperfect. Every person needs the Spiritual and Corporal works of mercy, to be counseled, to be admonished, to be nourished in the Faith. Without infallibility both shall fall into the pit.

    “Actually the papacy has caused divisions in the church. Just look at church history.”
    Error and the pride that goes with error has caused divisions in the Church, in the families and in the world. Divine Authority speaking through the Magisterium is God’s gift of WISDOM to heal and guide. Infallibility, the inability to fall into the pit, is an absolute necessity.

  • Ernst,
    You wrote-“What we don’t see is anything in the Bible saying the Bible itelf is ultimately and finally authoritative.”
    Since we agree that the Bible is inspired-inerrant and is the only thing in the world that is, then it follows it alone is “ultimately and finally authoritative”.

  • Mary,
    When you speak the truth are you infallible?

    No man or institution is infallible because men are fallen and can err. The only one who has ever lived that was infallible was the Lord Christ. He alone of all humanity was infallible.

    History shows your church has erred not just once but many times. One does not need to be infallible to teach and know the truth.

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  • Since we agree that the Bible is inspired-inerrant and is the only thing in the world that is, then it follows it alone is “ultimately and finally authoritative”.

    No it doesn’t follow. Partly because the Church and Tradition are older than the Bible.

  • Mgr Ronald Knox made a rather obvious point, when he said, “For three centuries the true issue between the two parties was obscured, owing to the preposterous action of the Protestants in admiring Biblical inspiration. The Bible, it appeared, was common ground between the combatants, the Bible, therefore, was the arena of the struggle; from it the controversialist, like David at the brook, must pick up texts to sling at hus adversary. In fact, of course, the Protestant had no conceivable right to base any arguments on the inspiration of the Bible, for the inspiration of the Bible was a doctrine which had been believed, before the Reformation, on the mere authority of the Church; it rested on exactly the same basis as the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Protestantism repudiated Transubstantiation, and in doing so repudiated the authority of the Church; and then, without a shred of logic, calmly went on believing in the inspiration of the Bible, as if nothing had happenedl Did they suppose that Biblical inspiration was a self-evident fact, like the axioms of EuclidP Or did they derive it from some words of our Lord? If so, what words? What authority have we, apart from that of the Church, to say that the Epistles of Paul are inspired, and the Epistle of Bamabas is not? It is, perhaps, the most amazing and the most tragic spectacle in the history of thought, the picture of blood flowing, fires blazing, and kingdoms changing hands for a century and a half, all in defence of a vicious circle.”

  • [T]he inspiration of the Bible was a doctrine which had been believed, before the Reformation, on the mere authority of the Church[.] … What authority have we, apart from that of the Church, to say that the Epistles of Paul are inspired, and the Epistle of Bamabas is not?

    I like that quote (the rest of too, of course).

  • Ernst,
    Is the church and its traditions inspired-inerrant?

  • You’d better hope so, Jay, or how else are you going to trust your Bible?

  • Jay
    Newman explains the notion of tradition very well, “If again it be objected that, upon the notion of an unwritten transmission of doctrine, there is nothing to show that the faith of today was the faith of yesterday, nothing to connect this age and the Apostolic, the theologians of Rome maintain, on the contrary, that over and above the corroborative though indirect testimony of ecclesiastical writers, no error could have arisen in the Church without its being protested against and put down on its first appearance; that from all parts of the Church a cry would have been raised against the novelty, and a declaration put forth, as we know in fact was the practice of the early Church, denouncing it. And thus they would account for the indeterminateness on the one hand, yet on the other the accuracy and availableness of their existing Tradition or unwritten Creed. It is latent, but it lives. It is silent, like the rapids of a river, before the rocks intercept it. It is the Church’s unconscious habit of opinion and sentiment; which she reflects upon, masters, and expresses, according to the emergency. We see then the mistake of asking for a complete collection of the Roman Traditions; as well might we ask for a full catalogue of a man’s tastes and thoughts on a given subject. Tradition in its fulness is necessarily unwritten; it is the mode in which a society has felt or acted during a certain period, and it cannot be circumscribed any more than a man’s countenance and manner can be conveyed to strangers in any set of propositions.”
    I should contend that it simply another name for the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

  • Ernst,
    How can your church be inspired-inerrant given all the problems it has? The fact is that Jesus never made the church inspired-inerrant nor protected it from error. Just read the 1st 3 chapters of Revelation to see the Lord Jesus rebuking churches for error.

    I trust the Bible because of the power of God.

  • Michael,
    If “Tradition in its fulness is necessarily unwritten;” then there is no way for any RC to know what it was and is. Anyone can make up something and claim its a “Tradition” since some Traditions were not written down. Anyone can also claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit and justify anything. This is what happens to a church that goes beyond Scripture.

  • How can your church be inspired-inerrant given all the problems it has?

    How can the Bible be inspired then, since it was people like the people in the Seven Churches of Asia whom Jesus rebuked who actually wrote down the gospels and the NT letters, and many other letters besides (to say nothing of other “gospels’), before yet other people like those people in the Seven Churches of Asia decided what counted as scripture and what didn’t count?

    It seems to me that you’re conflating church, a community of believers, so to speak, with Church, the body of beliefs about God, man and man’s redemption through the Covenant of the Gospel (again colloquially speaking); beliefs lived out in practice.

    I trust the Bible because of the power of God.

    I trust the Bible and the Tradition which precedes it (at least the New Testament part of the canon) for the same reason.

  • Anyone can make up something and claim its a “Tradition” since some Traditions were not written down

    Out of curiousity, how does one go about making something up, and then claim “we’ve been doing that (believing this) forever,” and not find oneself called out on account of the fact that nobody remembers doing (hearing of) it before?

  • Ernst,
    The inspiration of the Bible does not depend on men but God.
    What RC “Tradition” is inspired-inerrant? Is the “Tradition” that Mary was assumed into heaven inspired-inerrant?

    One can easily make stuff up. Take the doctrine indulgences. Its not in Scripture but something that your church came up with. There are many doctrines and practices in your church like this.

  • “The inspiration of the Bible does not depend on men but God.”

    That is incorrect. The New Testament was not in existence when Christ walked the Earth. He gave authority to the Church through the apostles and the New Testament has authority only from the Church. The New Testament is a Catholic production from start to finish. Catholics inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote it, Catholics determined what would be included in the New Testament canon, and Catholics rejected numerous competing Gospels and Epistles. Solo Scriptura is the hilarious doctrine by which some Protestants deify a book that derives its existence solely from the authority granted to the Catholic Church.

  • The church does not make the Bible inspired or inerrant. The church does have authority but not ultimate authority especially when it teaches doctrines not in Scripture.
    Catholic does not equal Roman Catholic. Roman Catholicism has unique characteristics that set it apart. Many of these features are not found in the Scripture such as the papacy, papal infallibility, office of priest, celibacy as requirement to lead, the Marian dogmas and indulgences to name a few things that separate it from what the apostles taught.

  • “The church does not make the Bible inspired or inerrant.”

    Absolutely untrue since the only authority granted by Christ was to the Church and not to a book yet to be written by members of that Church.

    The attempt to claim that the Catholic Church today is not the Catholic Church set forth in the Scriptures is ahistoric nonsense. It was argued by the so called Reformers in the Sixteenth Century but it is an argument without a shred of validity. This of course is why most Protestants reject the concept of Apostolic Succession and why the early Church Fathers championed it. The Catholic Church as an institution did not remain static over 20 centuries, but its developments are clearly part and parcel of the history of one Church.

  • As I recall, God, through his Son, gave to us, through his Apostles, a Church (though art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it) and a Commission (go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost), not a Book.

    I hope that’s not too cheeky.

  • Donald,
    Your arguing against the facts of history in regards to the RCC. The things I mentioned are not in Scripture and were not taught by the apostles. We reject apostolic succession for the mere fact the Scriptures don’t teach it. After John died, there were no more apostles. No one has the qualifications of an apostle which was one who walked with Christ and saw Him after the resurrection. Acts 1:21-22

    No wonder you got problems. You think Armstrong is someone who is an authority.

  • JErnst,
    esus founded the church and is building it. This does not mean the church is inspired or inerrant. If your church was inspired-inerrant it would not have the evil past it has.

  • The inspiration of the Bible does not depend on men but God.

    That’s also true for the rest of the Tradition.

    Again Jay, the sole, final inspired-inerrant authority of the Bible alone, is not in the Bible, any more than the Assumption of Mary is. Now, I’ll grant that it’s easier to infer that from the Bible than to infer Mary’s Assumption, but just because it’s easier doesn’t mean the one is true and the other isn’t.

    On the other hand, you know what is in the Bible? The Real Presence. Protestants (myself included) have a hard time accepting that on the Bible’s authority, don’t they?

  • The things I mentioned are not in Scripture and were not taught by the apostles. We reject apostolic succession for the mere fact the Scriptures don’t teach it. After John died, there were no more apostles. No one has the qualifications of an apostle which was one who walked with Christ and saw Him after the resurrection. Acts 1:21-22
    No wonder you got problems. You think Armstrong is someone who is an authority.

    If that’s the case, (and it’s not, you’re forgetting Paul never walked with Christ) then the Church must necessarily have died with John, and the Bible is no more inspired or inerrant than the church.

  • Ernst,
    What Traditions of your church are inspired? Please give me a list so I know exactly what these Traditions are.

    There are many problems with the Real Presence.

    Its a fact that John was the last apostle. Paul is special case since Jesus picked him directly and without any other apostles. The church is not the apostles but the apostles were used by Christ to lay the foundation for the church. What we have today are not apostles but the teachings of the apostles which are found only in the Scripture.

  • Ernst,
    The first mention of the death of Mary is not mentioned until 377. This is not an eyewitness account by any stretch.

  • “We reject apostolic succession for the mere fact the Scriptures don’t teach it.”
    The Scriptures Jay were written by men who taught it as even a cursory knowledge of history would indicate. The apostolic succession is well established in the writings of the early Church from the earliest times. Individual branches of the Catholic Church traced their bishops back to the apostles and thus established their legitimacy.

    “Through Our Lord Jesus Christ our Apostles knew that there would be strife over the office of episcopacy. Accordingly, since they had obtained a perfect foreknowledge of this, they appointed those men already mentioned. And they afterwards gave instructions that when those men would fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. Therefore, we are of the opinion that those appointed by the Apostles, or afterwards by other acclaimed men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry.”

    Saint Clement, letter to the Corinthians, 96 AD

  • Donald,
    Clement was not a pope i.e. supreme leader of the entire church. If anything, early church history shows the various bishops being against one man being the supreme leader-bishop. It took a number of centuries before we see some of the bishops of Rome claiming primacy. Stephen in about 250 is the first to claim to be a successor of Peter.

    Consider this: “Before the beginning of the second millennium and the pontificate of Gregory VII in particular (1073-85), popes functioned largely in the role of mediator. They did not claim for themselves the title of “Vicar of Christ”. They did not appoint bishops. They did not govern the universal Church through the Roman Curia. They did not impose of enforce clerical celibacy. They did not write encyclicals or authorize catechisms for the whole Church. They did not retain for themselves alone the power of canonization. They did not even convene ecumenical councils as a rule–and certainly not the major doctrinal councils of Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451) (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.19).”

  • You are obviously unfamiliar with the early Church Fathers Jay, because you quote bad contemporary sources like McBrien, rather than sources from the early Church. For the third time in this thread I quote Saint Iranaeus writing in 178:

    “2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

    3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.”

    You will of course once again ignore Saint Iranaeus because you are not interested in historical truth but doing your best, against the evidence, to preserve the twisted view of Church history that Protestants have been hobbled with since the “Reformers” of the 16th century decided to do away with all Christian history that differed from them, and pretend that there was a Great Apostacy until Martin Luther came on the scene. As Cardinal Newman said “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” and that is why advocates of Protestantism have to twist themselves into pretzels when looking at the early Church because if they were intellectually honest they would confess that it is the Catholic Church that they see.

  • If anything, early church history shows the various bishops being against one man being the supreme leader-bishop.

    Huh? Where do you get this? And as for what McBrien says (and I’m not sure why you chose to cite him instead of other equally objective and reputable scholars of early church history like, say, Dan Brown or Richard Dawkins, but whatever), you might also recall that membership in the early church was a crime punishable by death. And so yes, the ability of pre-Constantinian popes to exercise authority was severely curtailed. I mean, duh. But so what? Why is a pope who finds it too onerous to convene councils (what with the death sentences and all) any more a hallmark of authentic Christianity than having members regularly getting fed to lions for public spectacle?

  • Donald,
    When did the Peter and Paul found the church in Rome? What year did this supposedly happen?

    BTW- here are the credentials for Richard P. McBrien: “is Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he has also served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A leading authority on Catholicism, he is the bestselling author of Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints, as well as the general editor of The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism.”

    This guy is a top notch scholar and well regard in the RCC. He certainly carries more weight than Dave Armstrong don’t you think?

  • Roman Catholicism has unique characteristics that set it apart. Many of these features are not found in the Scripture such as the papacy, papal infallibility, office of priest, celibacy as requirement to lead, the Marian dogmas and indulgences to name a few things that separate it from what the apostles taught.

    The greek word for priest is presbyteros. See, Acts 15:2-6, 21:18,1 Tm 5:17, 1 Pt 5:1

    indulgences are implied in the power to forgive sin found in Mt 18:18 and Jn 20:23

    Paul laid out the advantages of celibacy in 1 Cor 7, which is the basis for the custom,but I’ll grant you that’s not the same thing as a requirement.

    The Papacy and Papal infallibility have already been addressed. But if you care to look again, it’s Matt. 16:17-19. You might want to look at Is 22:21-22 as well.

    The Marian dogmas are harder to discern, and I’m not remotely in the position to make the case for them, since that’s my personal Jacob’s ladder. But that’s my problem, not the church’s.

  • And if you’re going to resort to credentialism, I’m going to start banging the table with Bart Ehreman.

  • Jay

    Once admit that the unity of the Church through time is the unity of a living organism, then growth, change, adaptability can be admitted, without compromising its identity and the continuity of the the church in communion with the bishop of Rome can be demonstrated as an historical fact, without entering into questions of doctrine or discipline at all, just as the continuity of the city of Rome itself can be demonstrated, from Romulus’s hut on the Palatine to the modern city, Italian from Latin, its civil code from the Digest and so on.

  • Ernst Schreiber

    The development of the Marian doctrines can be traced back to the earliest times.

    Thus, St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 120-165) – “We know that He, before all creatures, proceeded from the Father by His power and will, … and by means of the Virgin became man, that by what way the disobedience arising from the serpent had its beginning, by that way also it might have an undoing. For Eve, being a Virgin and undefiled, conceiving the word that was from the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death; but the Virgin Mary, taking faith and joy, when the Angel told her the good tidings, that the Spirit of the Lord should come upon her and the power of the Highest overshadow her, and therefore the Holy One that was born of her was Son of God, answered, ‘Be it to me according to thy word.'” —Tryph. 100

    And St. Irenæus (120-200) – “As Eve by the speech of an Angel was seduced, so as to flee God, transgressing His word, so also Mary received the good tidings by means of the Angel’s speech, so as to bear God within her, being obedient to His word. And, though the one had disobeyed God, yet the other was drawn to obey God; that of the virgin Eve the Virgin Mary might become the advocate. And, as by a virgin the human race had been bound to death, by a virgin it is saved, the balance being preserved, a virgin’s disobedience by a Virgin’s obedience.”— Adv. Hær. v. 19

    And Tertullian (160-240) – “God recovered His image and likeness, which the devil had seized, by a rival operation. For into Eve, as yet a virgin, had crept the word which was the framer of death. Equally into a virgin was to be introduced the Word of God which was the builder-up of life; that, what by that sex had gone into perdition by the same sex might be brought back to salvation. Eve had believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel; the fault which the one committed by believing, the other by believing has blotted out.”— De Carn. Christ. 17.

    The similarity between the teaching of these three early writers, representing the traditions of the churches of Palestine, Africa and Rome and Asia Minor and Gaul, suggest a common source. What can this be other than the original apostolic teaching. Later ages simply drew out its implications.

  • This guy is a top notch scholar and well regard in the RCC.

    How does he compare with Bl. Cardinal Newman? If pontifical credentials mattered, we wouldn’t have to deal with Kung (or Luther, for that matter)? But even if we grant your McBrien quote as factually accurate, the more relevant question is ‘so what’? What exactly is your point? Why is the inability of the early popes to act in the manner of, say, Gregory the Great (during a time of a) Jewish persecution followed by b) Roman persecution followed by c) Constantine’s heavy-handedness followed by d) the dissolution of the Western Roman empire, etc….) — indicate a holier church, as opposed to a seething mish-mash of factionalism that weak leadership often begets, whether that be of the “Paul vs. Apollos” variety, or else gnostic vs Marcionite vs. Montanist vs. Arian vs. Monophysite…?

  • This guy is a top notch scholar and well regard in the RCC.

    How does he compare with Bl. Cardinal Newman? If pontifical credentials mattered, we wouldn’t have to deal with Kung (or Luther, for that matter)? But even if we grant your McBrien quote as factually accurate, the more relevant question is ‘so what’? What exactly is your point? Why is the inability of the early popes to act in the manner of, say, Gregory the Great (during a time of a) Jewish persecution followed by b) Roman persecution followed by c) Constantine’s heavy-handedness followed by d) the dissolution of the Western Roman empire, etc….) — indicate a holier church, as opposed to a seething mish-mash of factionalism that weak leadership often begets, whether that be of the “Paul vs. Apollos” variety, or else gnostic vs Marcionite vs. Montanist vs. Arian vs. Monophysite…?

  • Ha,
    What McBrien is showing us is that the history of the papacy as its described by most RC’s is not in sync with the facts of history. In other words, the papacy does not go back to the NT.

  • Michael,
    Do you believe that “And, though the one had disobeyed God, yet the other was drawn to obey God; that of the virgin Eve the Virgin Mary might become the advocate. And, as by a virgin the human race had been bound to death, by a virgin it is saved, the balance being preserved, a virgin’s disobedience by a Virgin’s obedience.”?

    Is the human race saved by Mary?

  • In other words, the papacy does not go back to the NT

    I assume by that you mean New Testament times, since we’re talking about “the facts of history” as either McBrien understands them or you understand McBrien.

    By the same logic, no protestant church goes back to New Testament times. But don’t let that bother you.

    Is the human race saved by Mary?

    Since that was directed at Michael, I’ll limit myself to suggesting you look into the idea of Recapitulation.

    A new Adam requires a new Eve, after all.

  • Protestant churches are more in line with the NT church than the RCC is.

    Scripture never refers to Mary as the new Eve.

  • McBrien is a “top-notch scholar”?!?

    No, no he is not. He is a wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works. Like Joe Biden, he’s been around for a long time, accruing seniority, but not really doing anything of significance.

    Oh, and he argued that Jesus Christ was capable of sinning in his “masterwork,” “Catholicism.”

    But if he’s the guy you want to cozy up to so you can beat up the Catholic Church, knock yourself out.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=5286&CFID=17911142&CFTOKEN=62677456

  • No, no he is not. He is a wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works. Like Joe Biden, he’s been around for a long time, accruing seniority, but not really doing anything of significance.

    Yeah, but when he appears on the tube, he always has cool neckties.

  • What McBrien is showing us is that the history of the papacy as its described by most RC’s is not in sync with the facts of history.

    How so? Rather than simply changing the subject (and seriously, is “new Eve” really the best you can do?), it would be better if you would actually tell us how that McBrien quote contradicts Church history, as you seem to believe. For example, how does the fact that the Pope was unable to convene a council during the early years of the Church — a time of intense persecution and chaos — undermine RC claims? Does St. Iranaeus or some other Father of the Church cite lists of nonexistent councils allegedly convened by the early popes as evidence of papal authority? Come to think of it, I don’t recall any major councils or any other Papal activity when French troops took Pope Pius VI prisoner in 1798 and kept him confined until he died a year and a half later. Does that, too, upturn RC claims regarding the papacy?

    Given that you’re already off on another tangent (I guess when it comes to the Jack Chick’s of the world, it almost always eventually comes down to Mary or some other mommy issues at some point) I suspect you’re just a troll who gets off on riling the papists, but if you’re not, can you at least make an effort to say something relevant to the points you’re trying to make? Simply pasting a non sequitur by McBrien or anyone else, and hoping that no one will point out that it doesn’t say what you apparently think it says, is hardly the way to make your case (though it goes a long way towards explaining what you believe). Maybe if you actually bothered to fill in the holes in your logic, you wouldn’t be taking the position you are, so it’s quite possible I’m asking for too much, but I still think you should make an effort.

  • Good point, about how natty he is. Except during conclaves. Then he goes up to the attic to find his collar.

    Thanks also for the tip about “The Latin Mass.” I’ve subscribed, and am eagerly awaiting the first issue.

  • Jay? Still there?

    Any thoughts about the scholarship of a guy who thinks it’s okey-doke to say Jesus could have sinned?

    Let us know.

  • In fairness, was the guy who introduced “new Eve,” in response to the misreading of what Irenaeus had to say about Mary’s role in salvation history, (e.g. “Is the human race saved by Mary?”).

  • If anyone is interested in reading some real scholarship in regard to the Papacy and the first two ecumenical councils:

    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt29.html

  • Dale,
    It seems to me that if Jesus could not have sinned then the temptation with Satan was a sham.

    How could McBrien be a “wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works” when he is the “Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he has also served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A leading authority on Catholicism, he is the bestselling author of Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints, as well as the general editor of The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism”?

    You don’t get to this position at a major RC institution by being a “wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works” .

  • HA,
    RC’s that I know believe that the papacy has been since the NT times. McBrien shows that it was not. He is not the RC scholar that says this either.

    If you are going to have a pope then you have to demonstrate such an individual existed in the first 5 centuries of the church at Rome. The evidence is not there.

    I didn’t bring the new Eve idea. Someone else did.

  • In fairness, [I] was the guy who introduced “new Eve,” in response to the misreading of what Irenaeus had to say about Mary’s role in salvation history, (e.g. “Is the human race saved by Mary?”).

    Fair enough. And if that’s where Jay wants to take the discussion next, fine. But he might at least finish the points he has already tried to make. I suppose the concept of the Trinity is next on his hit list, given that that never receives mention in the NT either. Regardless, given that he cannot or will not address the very simple questions put to him, and he displays considerable difficulty in wrapping his head around the fact that academic credentials are no guarantee against slipshod scholarship or heresy, I would guess that Jay is either unwilling to argue in good faith, and therefore dishonest, or else unable to follow through with his own cut-and-paste debate tactics, and therefore incompetent. For his sake, I rather hope it is the latter, but in either case, I am not sure that anything is served by continuing the discussion.

  • When you speak the truth are you infallible?

    “No man or institution is infallible because men are fallen and can err. The only one who has ever lived that was infallible was the Lord Christ. He alone of all humanity was infallible.

    History shows your church has erred not just once but many times. One does not need to be infallible to teach and know the truth.”
    Only the perfect TRUTH, who is Jesus Christ, the Lord, is infallible, because Jesus Christ is God. Other men are fallible. The Pope, speaking as the Vicar of Christ, in concert with the Magisterium, speaking ex-cathedra is infallible, by the Holy Spirit who is God, who cans’t deceive nor be deceived.
    If a person does not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, that person has already lost the TRUTH. Infallibility becomes a word without meaning.

  • Ha,
    Why don’t you refute me with some counter facts such as there was a papacy in the first 5 centuries that shows one man as claiming to be the head of the entire church and other churches supporting this claim? Or, show me where Mary is referred to as the “new Eve” in Scripture?

  • Mary,
    Where did Jesus or His apostles teach that “If a person does not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, that person has already lost the TRUTH”?

  • St. Paul’s battle with Peter over the circumcising of the gentiles to make their bodies as were the Israelites is proof positive that Peter was revered as the head of the Catholic Church. This decree was handed down by Peter and rejected by Paul. Paul did not appeal to any other apostle. Finally, after many years, Peter accepted Paul’s uncircumcised gentiles as members of the Body of Christ. Paul never claimed to be the head of the church, but submitted himself to Peter, even while dissenting from the practice.

  • “Where did Jesus or His apostles teach that “If a person does not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, that person has already lost the TRUTH”? “Do this in memory of me”

  • RC’s that I know believe that the papacy has been since the NT times. McBrien shows that it was not…

     

    How does he show that? You keep making that assertion, but what portion of your 6:44 rehash of McBrien is evidence that papacy did not exist?

     

    Yes, as I and others have noted, it is true that the straited popes of the first few centuries, between dodging lions, centurions and maybe the occasional Pharisee or temple enforcer, found it difficult to convene councils or write encyclicals or do much of anything beyond merely surviving (sometimes, as in the case of the first pope, with very limited success). Big deal. Which of McBrien’s sentences disprove anything Iraneus or the early Church Fathers wrote? I do see you are expanding your argument by authority to include not just McBrien, but also “RC’s that [you] know”, but given your inability to comprehend the McBrien quotes that you yourself cited, I think we’re entitled to a few suspicions about whether you are making similarly tendentious assertions regarding what other RC’s have told you, but that’s just a guess.

     

    Again, no serious Catholic claims that the popes of the early church had a role identical to the role they would possess in later centuries. And neither did Pius VI, some 1800 years later, slowly dying in his lavish prison. So what? The Bible took a few centuries to be standardized into its canonical form, and while that might be a cause for worry among the sola scriptura crowd, would anyone other than one of those Jesus-never-existed loons go so far as to claim that also means the NT does not exist?

  • Ha,
    Claiming that “popes of the first few centuries, between dodging lions, centurions and maybe the occasional Pharisee or temple enforcer, found it difficult to convene councils or write encyclicals or do much of anything beyond merely surviving (sometimes, as in the case of the first pope, with very limited success)” actually makes my case even stronger. There was no time to develop a top heavy institution like the papacy. That took centuries.

    If you doubt me on McBrien then get his book and see if he does say these things.

    Here is what another RC scholar says on this:
    “We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded…”Was there a Bishop of Rome in the First Century?”…the available evidence indicates that the church in Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than by a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 80,221-222).”

  • Why don’t you refute me with some counter facts such as there was a papacy in the first 5 centuries that shows one man as claiming to be the head of the entire church and other churches supporting this claim? Or, show me where Mary is referred to as the “new Eve” in Scripture?

     

    OK, the argument by authority obviously has not worked out well for you, so I guess we’re going to move on to straw man tactics now? I do not reduce the papacy to “one man as claiming to be the head of the entire church and other churches supporting this claim” as you so tendentiously put it. That’s not a pope, that’s some Protestant bogeyman.

     

    As for counter-arguments, Donald has already kindly taken the trouble to post numerous citations that are relevant into showing what Catholics actually do believe regarding the founding of the Papacy. It makes no sense to repost all that, especially since you’re still bent on McBrien, regardless of the fact that even you find it difficult to point out which of his arguments support your claim.

     

    As for “new Eve”, why should the fact that the term does not appear in the New Testament bother you so? Does the Trinity appear in the NT? Moreover, provide some context as to what new Eve actually means and why it should disturb me. If the term refers to someone who submitted to the will of God (“let it be done to me according to your word”) as opposed to someone who was tricked into disobeying it, then ‘new Eve’ sounds like a pretty swell description to me, but I’m guessing you have something far more nefarious in mind, so you’ll have to elaborate. Hopefully, it’s not some other straw man. In any case, in the interest of simple fairness, I’m not answering anything else from you until you answer my questions, and while you’re at it, Dale’s and Ernst’s, given that you find McBrien such a rock of authority.

  • We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded…

    More non sequiturs. As I’ve already indicated, this is completely irrelevant to whether the papacy exists. I’ve already stipulated that the pope did not have the means or the logistics to exercise the same power that he had in later centuries. That does not disprove anything that Iraneus or any other Church Father wrote of Peter and his successors. Even if it turns out that Sullivan F.A. is true, and I’m not saying it is, the only thing it would prove is that it took ‘several decades into the second century’ for the successor of Peter, as Iraneus defines it, to be additionally proclaimed a bishop of Rome, as opposed to simply being the head of the community there – which should come as a big shock to pretty much no one. It no doubt took at least some time for the notion of bishops and diocese and so forth to take hold. So what? It took several centuries after that for the pope to be declared the ruler of Bologna, Romagna and Benevento – a status he has since lost. Is that also supposed to be a shocker?

     

    What the NT says about Peter, the Rock, is plenty clear enough, and the writings of Church Fathers like Iraneus, presumably informed by a desire to end the factionalism and lack of unity that they saw around them (something the NT clearly implies is a contravention of Christ’s wishes, but then, Protestants tend to forget about that one) and that they might well have attributed to a lack of leadership, shows that they took the matter seriously enough to make a big deal of it. If you have anything that refutes what they wrote, produce it. If, on the other hand, you or anyone can’t deal with that, and have to grasp at straws about when popes started writing catechisms or whatnot (give me a break), don’t pretend to be arguing in good faith.

     
    Now, I went ahead and answered you given that we apparently cross-posted. I’m done, until you provide everyone else the same courtesy.

  • Ah, Jay, it is pointless to continue with you after this post:

    “It seems to me that if Jesus could not have sinned then the temptation with Satan was a sham.”

    For a guy who thumps the New Testament a lot, you seem to be woefully unacquainted with it.

    “Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.”

    So, no. Temptation does not always mean concupiscence–it also means “testing.” As, well, the New Testament says. Which, again, you seem to have a furtive relationship with.

    “How could McBrien be a “wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works” when he is the “Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he has also served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A leading authority on Catholicism, he is the bestselling author of Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints, as well as the general editor of The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism”?
    You don’t get to this position at a major RC institution by being a “wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works” .

    Because I’ve actually read McBrien and have some of his stuff? Familiarity and ownership are good starts, as opposed to your…well, derivative proof-texting. You really need to free yourself from the shackles of credential worship. Call no man “Doctor,” as Jesus said.

    And really, such a babe in the woods you are, thinking tenure has a direct correlation to scholarly ability. All tenure and chairs mean is that you have managed not to tick off the wrong people. Having reviewed tenure and academic hiring decisions with some frequency, I can tell you such decisions have much more to do showmanship and politics than quality.

    Keep in mind that Notre Dame also houses Tariq Ramadan, the notorious apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood, and a man of rather dubious academic achievement, as has been noted by his biographer, Caroline Fourest.

  • I concur with Dale. Jay has been placed on moderation as he seems immune to evidence and arguments and further dialogue appears pointless.

  • Jay

    Two of the earliest Fathers, Ignatius and Polycarp, both men who “conversed with John and with others who had seen the Lord,” insist over and over on the the rôle of the bishop as the centre of unity in the local church. So does Irenaeus (130-202), who, as a boy, knew Polycarp in his native Smyrna and went on to become third bishop of Lyon (one can see a complete list of the bishops of that see in the cathedral there)

    Irenaeus says, “The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere.”

    If this was innovation, why do we hear not a word of protest from the defenders of the sufficiency and pre-eminence of scripture? The historical record is clear for the continuity of this church, this institution to which Irenaeus points, from his day to ours and it has no rival, for the sects against which he wrote have all disappeared without trace. Now, if this church’s witness is not to be trusted, why accept its witness to the canon of scripture?

  • Last word[?] to Chesterton:

    [L]ooking back on older religious crises, I seem to see a certain coincidence, or rather, a set of things too coincident to be called a coincidence After all, when I come to think of it, all the other revolts against the Church, before the Revolution and especially since the Reformation, had told the same strange story. Every great heretic had always exhibit three remarkable characteristics in combination. First, he picked out some mystical idea from the Church’s bundle or balance of mystical ideas. Second, he used that one mystical idea against all the other mystical ideas. Third (and most singular), he seems generally to have had no notion that his own favourite mystical idea was a mystical idea, at least in the sense of a mysterious or dubious or dogmatic idea. With a queer uncanny innocence, he seems always to have taken this one thing for granted. He assumed it to be unassailable, even when he was using it to assail all sorts of similar things. The most popular and obvious example is the Bible. To an impartial pagan or sceptical observer, it must always seem the strangest story in the world; that men rushing in to wreck a temple, overturning the altar and driving out the priest, found there certain sacred volumes inscribed “Psalms” or “Gospels”; and (instead of throwing them on the fire with the rest) began to use them as infallible oracles rebuking all the other arrangements. If the sacred high altar was all wrong, why were the secondary sacred documents necessarily all right? If the priest had faked his Sacraments, why could he not have faked his Scriptures? Yet it was long before it even occurred to those who brandished this one piece of Church furniture to break up all the other Church furniture that anybody could be so profane as to examine this one fragment of furniture itself. People were quite surprised, and in some parts of the world are still surprised, that anybody should dare to do so.

You Never Know When Something Will Come in Handy

Friday, October 4, AD 2013

 

 

John-Henry-Newman

 

 

 

In the coming turbulent days of the pontificate of Pope Francis, and rest assured that such turbulent days are rapidly approaching if not quite here, I rather suspect I will be accused by some of adopting an attitude towards him contrary to the way I analyzed the actions of his predecessor.  Such is not the case.  From a comment that I made on a thread relating to papal infallibility in 2010:

At Vatican I Eric, there was a conflict between those who wanted virtually every thing written or said by a Pope to be considered infallible and those who wanted a restrictive definition.  By and large those who wanted a restrictive definition prevailed.  The problem with a broad view of infallibility is that popes often contradict each other.  Consider Pio Nono’s view of religious liberty as compared to that of Pope John XXIII.

This is a complex area filled with minefields for faithful Catholics, and my thoughts in this area have been aided greatly by the writings of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, especially the essay linked below:

http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/vatican2/newman.html

“It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.”

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24 Responses to You Never Know When Something Will Come in Handy

  • Daily mass last Wednesday, Feast of the Guardian Angels, the celebrant coul not contain himself. When there is typically no homily, we got a long reflection about the wonderful and timely changes that were coming from our new pope. You are more right than you know. I pray the Church’s guardian angel has his eyes open.

  • Uh… sorry to be offtopic, but if someone wants to send tips or links to one of you guys, how do we do it?

  • Ditto. In my diocesan paper this week, the editorial headline blares “Francis’s Tells Us Not Get Caught Up In Morality, But the Gospel Message.” I thought the Gospel message included what one must do to others as well as to attain eternal life.

  • When the Holy Spirit speaks through the Pope, then the Holy Spirit is infallible. Indeed, when the Holy Spirit speaks, the Holy Spirit is infallible regardless of the one through whom He chooses to speak. That said, not everything that the Pope says is from the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It would do well for us to get away from the cult of personality. That old AA saying – principles before personalities – comes to mind. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition should guide our thoughts, words and actions in these matters. In these coming turbulent times it behooves me to keep up with my daily Rosary, my daily Scripture reading and frequent attendance at Confession. Without doing those things how can I differentiate between the True and the False?

  • Reminds me of the saying “I believe in the priesthood in spite of priests.” Same with the Papacy.

  • Thanks Don…I struggled through reading Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (struggled because ‘we just don’t speak good English no more’…) and was excited when Pope Benedict XVI beatified now-Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman…these comments are good to find.

    Dave Armstrong, a Catholic apologist, has a book called The Quotable Newman: A Definitive Guide to His Central Thoughts and Ideas…it’s in my lengthy queue for must-reads. I’d wager there are a lot more gems in that.

    I also have to echo Nate’s query…occasionally I run across something that has me say “Someone at TAC needs to hear about this”…without opening you guys up to spam, is there some way to give you guys news or story tips?

  • I think the most shocking thing for me has been the level of anger elicited if you even dare to suggest that we might have to wait and see to determine if Francis is going to be a great pope. If you do not immediately understand how awesome he is, and how really profound everything he says is, then you are either: (1) stupid; (2) a heretic; or (3) maybe you were never actually Catholic in the first place.

  • “(1) stupid; (2) a heretic; or (3) maybe you were never actually Catholic in the first place.”

    Here is a make-believe word for that: adhominemize.

    As in, “Don’t adhominemize me, Bro!”

  • In this world, when anyone presents someone in an all or nothing manner, such as ‘everything he says’, followed by a brickbat for those just considering the same; then there’s a case for further consideration. It’s as if the singer is the song to that someone without regard to the Composer.

    This world is a place where inconsistency causes trouble, dangerous trouble.

  • “It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.”
    This is the finest definition of the principle of separation of church and state. Thank you.

  • In his Letter to the Dukeof Norfolk, Bl John Henry Newman also reminds us that “Billuart speaking of the Pope says, “Neither in conversation, nor in discussion, nor in interpreting Scripture or the Fathers, nor in consulting, nor in giving his reasons for the point which he has defined, nor in answering letters, nor in private deliberations, supposing he is setting forth his own opinion, is the Pope infallible,” t. ii. p. 110 And for this simple reason, because on these various occasions of speaking his mind, he is not in the chair of the universal doctor.
    Nor is this all; the greater part of Billuart’s negatives refer to the Pope’s utterances when he is out of the Cathedra Petri, but even, when he is in it, his words do not necessarily proceed from his infallibility. He has no wider prerogative than a Council, and of a Council Perrone says, “Councils are not infallible in the reasons by which they are led, or on which they rely, in making their definition, nor in matters which relate to persons, nor to physical matters which have no necessary connexion with dogma.” Præl. Theol. t. 2, p. 492. Thus, if a Council has condemned a work of Origen or Theodoret, it did not in so condemning go beyond the work itself; it did not touch the persons of either. Since this holds of a Council, it also holds in the case of the Pope; therefore, supposing a Pope has quoted the so-called works of the Areopagite as if really genuine, there is no call on us to believe him; nor again, if he condemned Galileo’s Copernicanism, unless the earth’s immobility has a “necessary connexion with some dogmatic truth,” which the present bearing of the Holy See towards that philosophy virtually denies.”

  • Pio Nono and John XXIII did not contradict each other on religious freedom: they were addressing two different matters, viz., whether conscience is the final arbiter of truth on the one hand (no) and whether everyone has a right to seek the truth about God and act according to the truth he discovers (absolutely). Both popes would agree on both points.

    Catholics need to distinguish between what Pope Francis actually says, in the context of what he says, and what the media report him as saying or meaning. Pope Francis knows Catholic moral doctrine and fully agrees with it. He is proposing alternative ways to evangelize, not alternative ways to believe.

  • Is anyone familiar with the writings of an Irish priest Fr. Denis Fahey? He wrote in the 30’s- 40’s his main book being The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World. He laid out the forces that were against the Church and society. The book is still so relevant today.

  • Vatican I wisely limited the infallibility doctrine of the Pope to Ex Cathedral solemn prnouncements. This solemn dogma states that when a pope makes an ex cathedral statement, that statement is equal to dogmas proclaimed by Ecumenical Councils. Both (papal and conciliar) are forms of extraordinary actions of the Magisterium of the Church.

    However, there is the ordinary form of the Magisterium’s ( pope and bishops) infallible teaching in matters of faith and morals. This is one of the great clarifications made during the ministry of Blessed John Paul and worked out by Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation of the Faith. However, even this does not make every utterance from a pope “infallible”, etc.

    In a post above Brian makes a great point. He complains about those who go bonkers when one suggests it might take some time to see if Pope Francis ( or any pope for that matter) will be seen to be a good or even great pope. However the same applies when someone suggests it might take time to see if all the fears and criticisms pan out and Francis (or any pope) is a ” problematic”, ” not so good” or even a ” bad” pope.

    While we have been blessed with some very good and even great popes in the recent past, and it is important to recognize that some popes in our two thousand year history have sadly been ” bad”, history reveals that a vast majority were somewhere in the middle. They were neither great or terrible. They simply were the successors of Peter preserving both the teaching and unity of the Church as best they could in the historical context within they ministered

  • “Pio Nono and John XXIII did not contradict each other on religious freedom:”

    Wrong.

    ” 15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. — Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862; Damnatio “Multiplices inter,” June 10, 1851.”

    One of the propositions condemned by Pio Nono in his Syllabus of Errors.

    “14. Also among man’s rights is that of being able to worship God in accordance with the right dictates of his own conscience, and to profess his religion both in private and in public.”

    Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris

    Religious liberty as such did not exist during the reign of Pius IX in the Papal States, as it had not existed under his predecessors. He was somewhat more liberal on the question at the start of his reign. He freed Jews from the Roman ghetto at the start of his reign, and also freed them from the necessity of hearing Christian sermons periodically. These salutary reforms were reversed by Pius after he lost control of the papal states in 1849 and was returned to power by a French army that same year. Pius, although personally affable to people of all faiths, did not believe in religious liberty in any shape or fashion, except the traditional grudging tolerance that the Church extended to Jews.

  • Do I understand your statement/ position correctly Donald-that there is a real (versus perceived) rupture in the Magisterium of the Church(in this case between Pius IX and John XXIII?

  • I think it is an extremely troubling question Botolph, and far keener minds than mine have wrestled with it.

    The best face that can be put on it was done by Cardinal Dulles:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/08/003-religious-freedom-innovation-and-development-41

    I of course as an American am all in favor of religious liberty and celebrate that it is now the policy of the Church. However, I am enough of an historian to recognize that the development in doctrine in this area is an extreme one and is almost a 180 degree development.

  • Fair enough Donald. The answer is by no means simple, as Cardinal Dulles well shows. Overall, though, Cardinal Dulles would interpret such a question concerning. The relation between the Magesterium of the 19th century and the 20th/21st centurity as one of continuity and not rupture.

    The declarations of the Church in the 19th century were made in light of and in the context of the principles of the more radical French Revolution and the power of Masonry in Europe and more specifically in Italy. When Pius IX was speaking America was not even a blip on his radar screen. It was the much milder and far from radical American form of Freedom of Religion that became the context within the Church at Vatican II’s teaching on religious freedom to offset at that time the lack of rel.igious freedom behind the Iron and Bamboo curtains.

    Now, in the first quarter of the Twentieth century, we have a new historical context. The Iron Curtain is gone; the bamboo curtain is not what it was, although still a problem. The new context is a widespread “war on Christianity” in many countries, most especially by Islamicist forces (not all Moslems by any means). In the West however we are facing new forces, even here in America-that seem to be attempting to limit freedom of religion merely into freedom of worship. However, this weekend we are witnessing even our Govt’s intervention in our worship ( troubling issue of not allowing priests to celebrate Mass or baptize etc because the Govt is shut down) While I do not doubt that this will be straightened out, the fact that priests who would be volunteering would be arrested if the celebrate Mass or baptize should be recognized by all as new ground, a line that has been crossed.. We all need to become more aware.

    It therefore.becomes imperative that we Catholics work through our genuine questions on the subject of religious freedom-as the Church really understands this teaching

  • lol that should read ” in the first quarter of the twenty-first century”. Sorry lol

  • Actually, Donald, regarding religious liberty and whether or not Pius IX and John XXIII contradicted each other, let’s let the Catechism of the Catholic Church speak:

    2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error, ( 37 Cf. Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum 18; Pius XII AAS 1953,799) but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right (Pius XII, 6 December 1953).

    2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a “public order” conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner (Cf. Pius VI, Quod aliquantum (1791) 10; Pius IX, Quanta cura 3). The “due limits” which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with “legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order” (cf Pío IX, enc. “Quanta cura”).

  • I often feel that some theologians are inclined to treat past magisterial pronouncements in the same way that Bl John Henry Newman, in a memorable piece of biting satire, accused his erstwhile colleagues of treating the Fathers: “I read the Fathers, and I have determined what works are genuine, and what are not; which of them apply to all times, which are occasional; which historical, and which doctrinal; what opinions are private, what authoritative; what they only seem to hold, what they ought to hold; what are fundamental, what ornamental. Having thus measured and cut and put together my creed by my own proper intellect, by my own lucubrations, and differing from the whole world in my results, I distinctly bid you, I solemnly warn you, not to do as I have done, but to accept what I have found, to revere that, to use that, to believe that, for it is the teaching of the old Fathers, and of your Mother the Church of England. Take my word for it, that this is the very truth of Christ; deny your own reason, for I know better than you, and it is as clear as day that some moral fault in you is the cause of your differing from me. It is pride, or vanity, or self-reliance, or fullness of bread. You require some medicine for your soul; you must fast; you must make a general confession; and look very sharp to yourself, for you are already next door to a rationalist or an infidel.”

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Cutting the Papa-Bull

Monday, February 18, AD 2013

I’m off from work, so you get a whole two posts from me today. Aren’t you lucky?

Pat Archbold has written an excellent post at the National Catholic Register that counters some of the arguments we’ve heard in light of Pope Benedict’s resignation, abdication, retirement, ummm not being Pope anymore. Our own Jake Tawney touched upon some of these issues last week, but it’s worth re-emphasizing.

The Holy Spirit picks the Pope, so don’t worry. This is probably the most common bit of balderdash. I refer to this is ‘Holy Spirit as conclave Puppeteer fallacy.’

Let’s get this straight, the Holy-Spirit does not pick the Pope, 117 fallible men do. For certain, many or even most of these men will call on the Holy Spirit in fervent prayer to guide their judgement, but it is still their judgement, their fallible judgment.

To suggest that the Holy Spirit picks the Pope is an insult to the Holy Spirit born of ignorance. To put the blame for some of the horrible Popes that we have had on the Holy Spirit is to blame God for our own contrary wills. No, the Holy Spirit does not pick the Pope.

The Holy Spirit protects the Church from anything bad, so don’t worry. If you worry, you don’t trust the Holy Spirit. I call this the ‘Holy Spirit as fairy-godmother fallacy.’ If you have the temerity to express a bit of apprehension over the abdication of the Pope or for the future, the pious will pummel you as an unbeliever. While the Holy Spirit protects the Church from certain things (more on this later), the Holy Spirit does not protect the Church from calamity. To make such an argument is to be woefully ignorant of history. Ignorant of not only the whole 2,000 years of history, but ignorant of just the last 50 years of history.  Bad things happen, even to the Church.

Part B of this fallacy are those who trot out “The gates of Hell shall not prevail!!!” as their defense of this nonsense. Yes, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, but this is no guarantee that there will be not be tremendous loss of life and souls along the way. The Nazis did not prevail, but they sure did a lot of evil before they lost. This line of thinking is merely sticking your head in pious sand.

How dare you critique the Pope! He is guided by the Holy Spirit!! If you have the temerity to question the Pope’s (past, present, or even future) prudential judgment, then you are a cafeteria catholic and a moral relativist of the worst sort. I call this the ‘Pope as God or Jack Chick fallacy.’ I have seen many people comment that we have no right as Catholics to question the Pope’s prudential judgement on anything or even offer advice to a future Pope. The Holy Spirit guides the Pope, dont’cha know, so to question or advise the Pope is to question or advise the Holy Spirit. Heretic!!

In one bit of commentary I warned of the dangers of a ‘trend’ of papal abdications and advised a future pontiff to avoid it. I didn’t even critique the current Pontiff’s decision, just advised a future one. For this, I was branded a moral relativist and a heretic.

Of course, proper respect should be given to any Pope, even in prudential areas, but the Pope is not infallible in this. While I am certain that this Pope prayed and discerned over his decision to abdicate, this is no guarantee that this is the right thing to do or that it is the will of God. There are real consequences to this decision and there are real dangers too. That is not to say that the Pope is doing the wrong thing, but only that he is doing what he thinks is best. It may be, it may not be.

Pat’s previous post, referenced in his third point, was savaged some commenters because he had the brazen temerity to tell the Pope what to do, though that wasn’t exactly the message of his column.

One mistake that some Catholics make is treating every papal utterance and action as divinely inspired and thus immune from even the slightest bit of criticism or doubt. This tendency only fuels the suspicions of non-Catholics and heterodox Catholics that we treat the Pope as something like a deity. Neither Pat nor I are suggesting that we should make like Hans Kung and vigorously dissent in the most arrogant manner possible, however; we need to recognize that Popes are human beings, and though guided by the Holy Spirit, not free from error in everything they do. One reason it’s so important to remember that we have a Pope who is not personally infallible in all things is because he desperately needs our prayers, and we might be less inclined to offer up those prayers if we think he’s got this all covered. So keep those prayers coming for the Pope and for the Cardinals who will be selecting the next Pope.

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6 Responses to Cutting the Papa-Bull

  • Paul Zummo: “Pope Benedict’s resignation, abdication, retirement,” all words cross out. Pope Benedict XVI surrenders his office as Vicar of Christ on earth and Successor to Peter to another priest. I am amused as the word SUPER POPE enters my mind. No, Pope Benedict XVI will always be Pope Benedict XVI and Joseph Ratzinger will always be beloved Joseph Ratzinger, Servant of the Servants of God.

  • I’m not sure why it’s either/or: Either we treat every word of every Pope as infallible OR we criticize every word of every Pope relentlessly. In the case at hand, we have had decades of experience of the character of Joseph Ratzinger/ Pope Benedict. He has always shown himself to be a prayerful, thoughtful, devout man. If he has come to the conclusion that he is not fit for his responsibilities, I’m inclined to agree with him on the basis of what we know about him. Did he get a handwritten message from God? I rather doubt it. But can I trust that this man, with this character, made this decision as prudently, prayerfully and lovingly as he possibly could? Yes, I do.

  • One of the problems since Vatican II has been that the Church Militant has confused herself with the Church Triumphant while acting like the Church Mushy.

  • Maggie – Well put. That’s pretty much where my thinking is on this.

    For me, though, there’s another aspect of it. I’ve found that – for me – involvement in Church politics and rumors diminishes my sense of awe and humility toward the Church. I’m not accusing others of falling into the same trap, but it’s a trap that I fall into so easily that I have to believe I’m not alone in it.

  • History should teach us a measure of realism.

    I am not so much thinking of the “bad popes,” as of the average. From Sixtus V, who died in 1590, to Leo XIII, who was elected in 1878, we had a virtually unbroken succession of popes, who had risen through the ranks of the Vatican bureaucracy and who were, by habit, taste and training, administrators. Even Benedict XIV, a giant in that age of pygmies, is better remembered today as Prospero Lambertini, the great canon lawyer, fits this mould.

    It is not unfair to describe the result as one of assiduous mediocrity. Even in Catholic countries, they had the same impact and the same popular appeal, as the average Secretary-General of the United Nations or President of the World Bank. Pio Nono was popular because he was pitied.

    Meanwhile, we had the Church riven by the Thirty Years War, the Quietist controversy, the Jansenist heresy, the Gallican controversy, Josephism, the suppression of the Jesuits, the French Revolution and its aftermath, and the Risorgimento, in none of which can the Holy See be said to have distinguished itself.

    It goes without saying that none of them taught error – that is the guaranteed protection of the Holy Spirit.

  • If I were pope, I’d name myself Sixtus VI. It’s even better in Latin: Sixtus Sextus.

MONDAY EXTRA EDITION

Monday, May 2, AD 2011

Are Orthodox “Masses” Valid? – Father John Zuhlsdorf, WDTPRS?

If Fr. Pfleger is Church’s Spiritual Magnet. . . Reason to Suspend Him – L. Graas

Universities Respond to Cardinal Newman Society Report – Tim Drake, NCReg

Osama bin Ladin, Death Penalty, & Targeted Killings – Eduardo Penalver, MOJ

Lepanto, 1571: The Battle that Saved Europe – H. W. Crocker III, InsideCthlc

Question About Infallibility – Mark Shea, The Daily Register

How to Respond When a Loved One Leaves the Church – Eric Sammons, OSV

SSPX Threatens Legal Action Against Friendly Catholic Forum – Tancred, TEF

The Monster – Dale Ahlquist, The Distributist Review

Don’t Block Your Blessings – Monsignor Charles Pope, AOW

Pope Appoints New Bishop to Florida Diocese – Catholic News Agency

Divine Mercy Sunday – Doctor Anthony Lilles, Beginning to Pray

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Top 15 Misconceptions About Catholics

Tuesday, April 20, AD 2010

Karen L. Anderson of Online Christian Colleges wrote a timely piece on the many myths, misconceptions, and outlandish lies told about Catholics:

With nearly one quarter of the U.S. population Catholic, they make up a huge part of society and the largest Christian denomination. Yet with so many, how is it they are so misunderstood and characterized by films, television shows, etc.?

Failing to do the proper research explains a great deal of it. With a simple search on the internet, we were able to find many interesting answers to the top 15 misconceptions about Catholics. They are both from official sources, reporters, academics, and more.

1. Priests Are More Likely to be Pedophiles : The most dangerous of all myths concerning Catholics, this can lead to many negative and unfair consequences. Recently in a book entitled Pedophiles and Priests, an extensive study – and the only one of it kind – took a look at the pedophile statistics of over 2,200 priests. It found that only 0.3% of all Catholic clergy are involved in any pedophilia matter, guilty or not. This number is actually very low and according to Counter Pedophilia Investigative Unit, who reports that children are more likely to be victims of pedophile activity at school with nearly 14% of students estimated to be molested by a member of the school staff.

2. Everything in “The Da Vinci Code” is True : Even author Dan Brown himself doesn’t agree to this. In this free film from Hulu, Mr. Brown admits to writing his novel as a step in his own spiritual journey. As he confesses to being swayed by his extensive research, the experts behind the research weigh in with facts. Simon Cox is the author of “Cracking the Da Vinci Code” and tells more about his work in this documentary. If you don’t have 90 minutes to view it, you can get the real story behind Opus Dei, the villain organization in the novel, from ABC news.

3. Women Are Oppressed in the Catholic Church : Although women are still not eligible to become priests as explained by Pope John Paul II, they were still acknowledged as valued members of the church as far back as 1947. In a Papal Directive from then Pope Pius XII, he expressed his admiration of women “to take part in the battle: you have not sought to do so, but courageously you accept your new duties; not as resigned victims nor merely in a defensive spirit.” Also, in 2004 then Pope John Paul II historically appointed two women theologians to the International Theological Commission and named another as the president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

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12 Responses to Top 15 Misconceptions About Catholics

  • The dificulty in the myths in the article are not the fact that they are misconceptions of the Roman Catholic Church. The turly sad part is that many so called members of our Church add to these misconception by 2 basic means. They do not correct these myths when asked by friends or others who are inquisitive either from lack of knowlegde or feeling this is not their right to do so and the second most problem and perhaps the worse is that many so called “catholics” beleve the crticisms are correct.

  • I would also say 9, 12 and 15 are odd; never heard them before….

  • #1: The book looks only at data since 1982. As we’ve seen in another recent TAC post, we have far more incidents prior to 1982. The John Jay study, which goes farther back, concludes that a shocking 4% of priests were reported to have sexually abused children. The second link you posted says that 1-5% of teachers sexually abuse or harass children. Harassment is more common than sexual abuse so the prevalence among teachers is probably less than 2.5%. But then you have to take out the women teachers who are must less likely to sexually abuse students. It also might to useful to compare the prevalence of sexual abuse of boys only. Priests are more likely to abuse boys and teachers are more likely to abuse girls. Bottom line is that you need more data but it’s certain that among pedophiles, priests are outliers. Even if abuse isn’t any more prevalent, why boys instead of girls? I think it’s entirely possible that the priesthood attracts sexual deviants.

    #3: And some black slaves were allowed to sleep in the master’s house. Crumbs do not disprove oppression. If we’re going to completely honest with ourselves, I think we have to admit that the Church denies women opportunities that are open to men. We don’t have to get all defensive over that fact. Christ denied women opportunities that he gave to men.

    #5: The Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary, not Jesus.

    #8: I’m unclear of what you’re saying here. Catholics were once required to abstain from meat on ALL Fridays. Catholics must still abstain from meat on Fridays of Lent but in the US, bishops allow Catholics to give up something else on Fridays outside of Lent.

  • RR,

    #3. She never claimed nor said that.

    #5. I corrected her post, thanks!

  • You can always count on restrained radical to bash the Church for no apparent reason.

  • Is the reason not apparent? I’m a closet Episcopalian. Which reminds me… there’s an interesting piece in the New Yorker on the debate over women bishops in the Church of England. Full article requires a subscription. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04/26/100426fa_fact_kramer

  • I think that a lot of these misconceptions come from different places. The Dan Brown stuff is probably more common among evangelicals and conspiracy-types, two crowds that probably don’t have much in common. Ditto for the claim of oppressing women, which would come from feminist atheists and faithful Protestants.

    The supposed conflict between faith and reason in #4 is the one that irritates me the most. It’s so patently wrong! I attended a lecture on data visualization (of all things) last week, and the instructor went off on a tangent about the persecution of Galileo. For whatever reason, we get tarred by the same brush as evangelicals about science, then tarred by evangelicals about Mary. Oh well. As Chesterton said, if you’re being accused by everyone of every possible error, you may be perfectly correct.

  • Yes Pinky, Chesteron really had a unigue use of words and as far as 9 is concerned ,they probably never heard of Hilaire Belloc..”wherever the Catholic sun doth shine there’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I always found it so Benedicamus Domino “

  • Number 9 was news to me. Wine is even part of our sacramental life, unlike those denominations that use grape juice. I’ve never heard a stereotype about a sober Irishman, a teetotaling Italian, or a Mexican refusing beer, so I don’t know where the myth of Catholic avoidance of alcohol comes from.

  • Too often Catholics get lumped together with puritan Protestant Creationists. And too often it’s Catholics who do it.

    Catholics can drink, smoke, believe in evolution, dinosaurs, the big bang, aliens, believe that you can be born gay, reject intelligent design, and celebrate Halloween.

    Here’s a couple others:

    Catholics are anti-sex or Catholics believe sex is purely for pro-creation.

    Catholics believe being gay is a sin.

  • Catholics believe engaging in homosexual sex is a sin. Whether people are in their “being” gay, that is that it is genetically determined, is far from scientifically proven. But if so, it would be like alcoholism. There would be a genetic predispostion to sin which in itself would not be sinful but which, through grace, could be overcome.