Thursday, June 22, 2017

Oh My, How Hilarious--More Anti-Catholic Nonsense

Wow, I thought Mr. Stewart's other posting was humorous but "Rev" Testa's list of Catholic "Heresies" is laugh out loud hilarious. Testa put these so-called heresies in a chart with a date. I will not use up space but put each statement and the date and my refutation of each.

Notice: These dates are in many cases approximate. Many of these heresies had been current in the Church years before, but only when they were officially adopted by a Church council and proclaimed by the pope as dogma of faith, did they become binding on Catholics.
And doctrine to be true must conform to the Word of God. “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20)
At the Reformation in the 16th Century these heresies were repudiated as having no part in the Religion of Jesus as taught in the New Testament.
Some of the dates are approximate and some seem to be pulled out of thin air. His "And doctrine to be true" statement doesn't even apply to the vast majority of entries on his list. Also, his sweeping statement about the Reformation doesn't fit the facts of history either. This leads me to believe that he has not studied the actual history of the Church but has read and repeated what anti-Catholic Protestants have read and repeated for about two centuries or more.
OF ALL THE HUMAN TRADITIONS taught and practiced by the Roman Catholic Church, which are contrary to the Bible, the most ancient are the prayers for the dead and the sign of the Cross. Both began 300 years after Christ.
The very beginning tells me a lot about Rev. Testa's lack of education in Church history. The most ancient prayers for the dead are not only Biblical but the tradition came from our Jewish roots.  This particular practice was present from the beginning of the Church--from Jesus Christ, Himself a practicing Jew. He did not believe those who are dead to us are dead in Heaven. Those who have died are actually alive.  Jesus said:
  "They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." (Luke 20:36-38)

Catacomb etching with cross and Jesus' name
And, the sign of the cross is in honor of Christ who was hung on a cross for our salvation.  It too was used as a sign by Christians to each other in written form, in picture form, and in prayer form to identify each other as a sign of unity during the persecution of the Church for the first three hundred years of the Church and beyond. It wasn't started or "invented" in 310, but practiced during the time of the early Church martyrs. This prayer, honoring Jesus Christ in the Trinity, is practiced today as it has been for almost two millenia.

Wax Candles introduced in church [320 AD]

LOL!! Can he really be serious about this one? Come on, wax candles were used in homes!! The Church used them as many, many people used them to light their homes; they lit the House of God. They didn't have light bulbs or electricity. What were they supposed to use in the Church? Wax candles were used in home churches, underground churches, and yes, church buildings once the persecution of Christians was over, allowing them to build churches.  When did using wax candles become a heresy??  I can't even take this entry seriously.

Today we use candles most importantly to symbolize the Light of Christ. [Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (John 8:12)The large candle one sees in most Catholic Churches represents Christ, the Light of the World. You will see a cross, the Greek letters Alpha and Omega, and some stubs of incense on the candle. The cross, of course, represents Christ. The Cross always represents Christ wherever it appears in the Church. The Alpha and Omega represents Christ, called the alpha and omega (the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet), the beginning and the end it Revelation. [“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.” (Rev. 1:8)] And, the stubs of incense represent Christ's wounds on the cross--The top one for the crown of thorns, the one in the center for the wound in His side, and the three others for the nails in his hands and feet. It is all about Christ.

 Veneration of angels and dead saints [375 AD]

Ancient Christian prayers for the dead from the catacombs
Seriously, as has been pointed out already many, many times to other Protestants in my posts, this practice came directly from our Jewish roots and has been practiced since day one of the Church.
 "...and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." (Luke 20:38)
We venerate live saints who are with Jesus in Heaven because they pray for us. [Hebrews 12:1 says, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,...]  Not only do they pray for us but the angels bring their prayers to them for us: "Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel."(Revelation 8:3,4; italics added for emphasis) Why would we not honor and respect those living with God and praying for us? Why would we not honor God's messengers, and our protectors? 

The Mass, as a daily celebration, adopted [394 AD]

Seriously? How is wanting to pray and celebrate Jesus Christ daily a heresy? At first the Christians gathered on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday night or Saturday) and stayed for Christian Services (later the Mass) on Saturday night/Sunday Morning. Yes, daily Mass was "adopted" but much sooner than Rev. Testa points out. As Christians were persecuted they clung closer to each other and daily or days of Mass begin to be said. We see that this began to happen very, very early on:
The Last Supper, Flandes, 1560
 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46, 47; italics added for emphasis)
Even in the book of Acts, the chronicle of the early days of the Church, the Christians began meeting daily and "breaking bread" together. Daily Mass was not unusual, in fact, it became the norm for quite a while. This first century (not fourth) activity has been passed on for almost two millenia.

The worship of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the use of the term, "Mother of God", as applied to her, originated in the Council of Ephesus. [431 AD]

1. We don't worship Mary. No matter how many times Catholics or the Catholic Church repeats this, we are still (sigh) accused of it.

2. The use of the term, "Mother of God" was put down as a doctrine at the Council of Ephesus. The reason for this was that the Church wanted to emphasize the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is simple--Jesus is God. Mary is His mother. Therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.

The Church does not claim and never has claimed that Mary was progenitor of God the Father or God the Holy Spirit, or even the divinity of Jesus. But just as you do not introduce your female progenitor as the mother of your body, so we do not refer to Mary as the Mother of the Body of Jesus. That would be nonsense. In the back of the mind of most Protestants, I believe they know what nonsense this is. If you believe that Jesus is God, then denying that Mary is the Mother of God is heresy.

Jesus is God:  
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it....And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5,14)
Mary is His mother:
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

Priest began to dress differently from the laityAD 500
And that is heresy because.....?

I don't even know where to go with this one. I cannot understand how this man thinks that dressing differently is a heresy. The dress the priest wears now is actually from the middle ages not AD 500. It is a custom not a doctrine, so, by definition, "dress[ing] differently" is not a heresy. Many offices dress differently to distinguish themselves from others. For instance, judges wear black robes, an old custom which shows their office and authority. Are they being heretical? Nurses used to wear uniforms and special hats to distinguish them from other hospital staff, a customary uniform to show the special education and training they had. Are they being heretical? Officers in the military wear distinctive uniforms to separate them from the general population.  How is a uniform a heresy?  I can't even fathom why Mr. Stewart went there. Wearing distinctive clothing is not a heresy.
Extreme Unction AD 526
Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction of the Past)
Does Mr. Stewart even know what this is?  How is extreme unction a heresy? Praying with and for someone who is dying gives them comfort and strength for the journey Home. In fact, the early Church practiced this:
Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick?   He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:13-15)
This Scripture outlines the Annointing of the Sick (which is what the sacrament is called now) in a nutshell. It wasn't "invented" in 526 AD, but was practiced in the first century Church.

The doctrine of Purgatory was first established by Gregory the Great.AD 593

 Actually, it was a doctrine long before Gregory the Great's time as pope and is based on Scripture and Jewish tradition. Another indication that Mr. Stewart knows little about Church history.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: All who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (1030).

We believe this because it says in the Scriptures:
"But nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]" (Rev. 21:27). 
Hab. 1:13 says, "You [God]... are of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on wrong..."

Simply put, we believe there is a purification before entering Heaven. We don't know if it is a place or a state of being. We don't know if it takes any "time", as there is no "time" as we know it in the afterlife. What we do know is that purification must take place before we can enter heaven--like taking a shower after working hard, then going to Church.

The Latin language, as the language of prayer and worship in churches, was also imposed by Pope Gregory I. 600 years after Christ. AD 600
The Word of God forbids praying and teaching in an unknown tongue. (1st Corinthians 14:9)

1. Latin became the international language long before the Catholic Church made it the official Church language. That way every Church document was put in the same language and interpreted or taught by the bishops in the language of their diocese.

2. Language unifies. When you believe that Christ meant there to be ONE Christian Church (which is what Catholic means--Universal), you want everyone to have a common language. It was not an unknown tongue. Even up to the 20th century, the scientific community printed major papers, and documentation of discoveries and theories in Latin. Latin doesn't change, therefore, starting with Latin, one can translate into many languages more accurately.

3. The Church chose Latin because it was the 'vulgar' or common language of the time. The Vulgate, translated by St. Jerome from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek sources, became the official Bible of the Church.  In that way, the entire Christian world had the same Scriptures. The Vulgate was even used by the translators of the so-called King James Version of the Bible. Just an FYI, there was an English version, that was actually an English translation not a paraphrase like the KJV, produced before the King James Bible; it's called the Douay-Rheims Bible.

4. The Church did have Scriptures each geographic locations languages, the homily (sermon) was in the people's language, and spoke to each other about God and theology in their own language. 

The Bible teaches that we pray to God alone. In the primitive church never were prayers directed to Mary, or to dead saints. This practice began in the Roman Church.  AD 600 (Matthew 11:28; Luke 1:46; Acts 10: 25-26; 14:14-18) 

The Story of Hanakkah by Ori Sherman
Again, the author shows his ignorance of Christian church history. The early church certainly DID pray to Mary and the saints. This tradition came from our Jewish roots. It was a regular practice in Judaism to pray to their dead ancestors to pray for them to God; just as protestants ask other people in their church or congregation or family for prayers.

2 Maccabees 12 (a book removed from the Holy Scriptures after the KJV came out--it was not added by the Catholic Church, it was a book of the Holy Scriptures since the canon of Scripture was officially finalized about AD325) talks about how Judas Maccabbeus prayed for the righteous dead, that they might receive their reward.

The papacy is of pagan origin. The title of pope or universal bishop, was first given to the bishop of Rome by the wicked emperor Phocas. AD 610
The papacy is of Christian origin. Christ appointed St. Peter the Rock on which He would build His Church. The title of pope (papa) was given later but Mr. Stewart needs to expand his reading material. Pope is a Christian title. 

This he did to spite Bishop Ciriacus of Constantinople, who had justly excommunicated him for his having caused the assasination of his predecessor emperor Mauritius.  Gregory I, then bishop of Rome, refused the title, but his successor, Boniface III, first assumed the title "pope."

Jesus did not appoint Peter to the headship of the apostles and forbade any such notion. (Luke 22:24-26; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; 1st Corinthians 3:11).

 Note: Nor is there any mention in Scripture, nor in history, that Peter ever was in Rome, much less that he was pope there for 25 years; Clement, 3rd bishop of Rome, remarks that "there is no real 1st century evidence that Peter ever was in Rome."
Actually, there is historical evidence that St. Peter was in Rome:

Tertullian, in The Demurrer Against the Heretics (A.D. 200), noted of Rome, “How happy is that church . . . where Peter endured a passion like that of the Lord, where Paul was crowned in a death like John’s [referring to John the Baptist, both he and Paul being beheaded].” 

In the same book, Tertullian wrote that “this is the way in which the apostolic churches transmit their lists: like the church of the Smyrnaeans, which records that Polycarp was placed there by John; like the church of the Romans, where Clement was ordained by Peter.” 

And historical evidence that St. Peter was in charge of the Church:
In his Letter to the Romans (A.D. 110), Ignatius of Antioch remarked that he could not command the Roman Christians the way Peter and Paul once did, such a comment making sense only if Peter had been a leader, if not the leader, of the church in Rome.
Irenaeus, in Against Heresies (A.D. 190), said that Matthew wrote his Gospel “while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church.” A few lines later he notes that Linus was named as Peter’s successor, that is, the second pope, and that next in line were Anacletus (also known as Cletus), and then Clement of Rome.
Clement of Alexandria wrote at the turn of the third century. A fragment of his work Sketches is preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History, the first history of the Church. Clement wrote, “When Peter preached the word publicly at Rome, and declared the gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had been for a long time his follower and who remembered his sayings, should write down what had been proclaimed.”
*These quotes and more can be read here: Was Peter in Rome?

The kissing of the Pope's feet. AD 709.

1. Again, this is a custom, not a doctrine. Therefore, doing so is not, by definition, heresy.

2.  From what I read this custom may have originated about the eighth century. It was unseemly for a woman to kiss the hand of the pope, so it became customary to kiss his foot instead. Today, if done, it is customary to kiss the cross on his right shoe. The kissing part is a sign of respect to the papal office. Kissing the cross is to honor Christ whom the pope represents.

Oh, is the custom of kissing the foot of others by the pope, after he washes them, also a heresy? 
Pope kissing foot of refugee after washing it.
 Just wondering?

It had been a pagan custom to kiss the feet of emperors. The Word of God forbids such practices. (Read Acts 10:25-26; Revelation 19:10; 22:9)
While it is true that there was a pagan custom of kissing the feet of emperors, this was no longer the custom in the West for centuries. 

Ironically, he points to Acts 10 where St. Peter tells the man who fell at his feet to rise. Today the custom is for the pope to tell the reverent person to rise. Also, the pope acknowledges and is acknowledged as "only a man." The Emperor was only a man. Peter told the man to rise because of his humbleness--not because showing reverence is forbidden.

In Revelation 19:10 & 22:9, the man speaking tells the man at his feet not to worship him. 1) It is not "the word of God forbid[ding]" this act except as an act of worship. 2) No one who kissing the pope's foot is worshipping the pope. It is simply a sign of respect. In fact, they are reverencing him for the One whom he represents, Christ.  

The Temporal power of the Popes. AD 750.

When Pepin, the usurper of the throne of France, descended into Italy, called by Pope Stephen II, to war against the Italian Lombards, he defeated them and gave the city of Rome and surrounding territory to the pope. Jesus expressly forbade such a thing, and He himself refused worldly kingship. (Read Matthew 4:8-9; 20:25-26; John 18:38)
The temporal power is an historical reality; it is not doctrine. Therefore, by definition, not heresy. And, since then, almost all temporal power of the pope has been taken away. Ironically, Protestants try to blame all kinds of WWII atrocities on the pope because he didn't use what temporal power they thought he should wield. The vast majority of what he is blamed for is fiction, however, anyway.
Worship of the cross, images and relics was authorized. AD 788
Such practice is called simply IDOLATRY in the Bible, and is severely condemned. ( Read Exodus 20:4; 3:17; Deuteronomy 27:15; Psalm 115).
Yet again...we do NOT worship the cross, images, or relics. But no matter how many times Catholic Christians repeat this, Protestants say we do so.


We honor certain objects in order to honor those they represent. We honor the cross because it is a symbol of what Christ did for us. If He had not died on the cross for our sins, we would be lost. When we honor the cross, we are showing honor to Christ and His sacrifice for us.

Images of Saints and angels are honored because we remember their service for Christ. We honor their heroic deeds and their example of Christian virtue. We honor them as dearly departed family members.

I find it really interesting when a radical like this points to the Scriptures to condemn the Catholic use of images in the Church. Did he read the whole bible? If so, he skipped over the whole description of how God demanded the temple to be built. The temple had images of angels, bulls, plants, and other objects by specific size and use in the Temple. 1 King 6 ff gives a full description and says, "The word of the Lord came to Solomon." He built the Temple at God's command and direct word. They did not worship the cherubim on the ark or the doors or in the sanctuary of the Temple. They did not worship the bulls holding up the brazier (even though bulls were worshipped by pagans, btw). They did not worship the palm trees, dates, pomegranates, or flowers that adorned the temple either.

This accusation is just tired and old. Why can't they let it go????

BTW, not by definition heresy, either.

Holy Water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by the priest, was authorized [AD 850]
Holy water is not a doctrine, therefore, by definition not a heresy.

Holy water is what we call a sacramental. It is simply a symbol of something sacred. In this case, a symbol of our baptism which is a Sacrament. We remember our baptism and therefore our salvation in Christ.

I am going to stop there for now. that is more than half way through this ridiculous list. I will try to get through the rest at a later time.

My main point: This man does not know what he is talking about.

Heresy definition: belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine. So far very few of his "heresies" are in fact actually heresies. Traditions like how a priest dresses is not heresy. The use of items in the church such as candles or even holy water is not heresy. And, since we don't worship Mary, the Saints, the Cross, images, etc, our display and honoring of such is not heresy.  

Catholics are the original Christians and worship God alone. We believe in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life. We are Christians.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

When May a Catholic Disagree with Pope Francis?

Cathmom5's introduction: The following post was used in the Catholic Debate Forum discussion on whether or not Catholics are allowed to disagree with the opinions or non-infallible writings of Catholic magisterium. Mr. Conte’s post on When May a Catholic Disagree with Pope Francis? was used to dispute an atheist's argument that if a Catholic work has an imprimatur by a member of the Papal Biblical Commission, a Catholic had no right to disagree with it. As many members tried to point out, an imprimatur simply means "it may be printed." It basically means the bishop gave permission to the author to go ahead and print the project.  A Nihil Obstat says that there is nothing offensive or nothing to offend a Catholic in the book. Neither is a stamp proclaiming the work as  official Catholic teaching, but nothing seems to convince the atheist of the error of his interpretation of Catholic phrases, documents, and doctrine. He believes he knows everything there is to know about what Catholics believe, and no one can tell him otherwise. The point several people have tried to make is that Catholics are free to disagree with a commentary; a commentary is not compulsory belief. All that aside, even if were "official" Catholic Teaching, I would not agree with his interpretation of what it said in the JBC or how he tried to apply it to an issue that had nothing to do with the commentary entry.

Anyway, I thought this article by Mr. Ron Conte was an excellent explanation of how and when a Catholic may disagree with the Catholic Magisterium (Pope Francis specifically, but it can and does apply to the magisterium in general).  I will make some comments to Mr. Conte's post just for purposes of pointing out some anti-Catholic people (Protestant, atheist, what have you) who like to claim that Catholics are mindless drones, or at the very least not allowed to think for themselves.

When May a Catholic Disagree with Pope Francis?
Pope Francis is a valid Pope. He is currently the only Roman Pontiff of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI validly resigned, and so he is no longer the Pope; that is why he is called “Pope emeritus”. Any Catholic who rejects Pope Francis as the valid and sole current Pope of the one true Church is in a state of formal schism, is automatically excommunicated, and may not receive any of the Sacraments (except Confession, once he is repentant). If you reject the Pope, you have separated yourself from formal communion with the Catholic Church.
One thing that Catholics are not allowed to disagree on is the Pope. The pope is elected by the College of Cardinals through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The process has been formalized and streamlined over the centuries but the ceremony does not take away the work of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Catholics are not allowed to disagree with the Holy Spirit. As Mr. Conte said, the Catholic who does not recognize the current, validly elected pope is in schism (no longer a Catholic). Unfortunately, there are many of them out there now--claiming to be Catholic but claim there is no valid pope. They are wrong and no longer Catholic.

For Catholics who accept Pope Francis as the valid Roman Pontiff, some disagreement is possible without heresy, schism, or other grave sin.
So here Mr. Conte wants to make it clear that not all of what the pope says is binding on all Catholics. Not everything he says is infallible. In other words, we are allowed to use our own brain. The following are conditions under which we may disagree.
1. Personal Opinion
When Pope Francis expresses his personal opinion on a matter of faith or morals (or any other topic), and given that the Magisterium has no definitive teaching on the subject, the faithful Catholic is free to disagree.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote and published a book entitled, Jesus of Nazareth: from the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration. In the preface of that book, he writes:
“It goes without saying that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search ‘for the face of the Lord’ (cf. Ps 27:8). Everyone is free, then, to contradict me. I would only ask my readers for that initial goodwill without which there can be no understanding.” [1]
Here Pope Benedict XVI gives us a good example to follow concerning the expression of theological opinions by the Bishops and the Pope. Such expressions, no matter how emphatically they may be phrased, are not an exercise of the Magisterium, and so are not binding on the faithful. All are free to disagree with the Pope in any personal opinion that he expresses: about Jesus, about matters of faith and morals, and certainly on other matters.
Caveat: In all likelihood, the opinion of the Pope on any matter pertaining to faith or morals is better than your opinion. The mere opinion of the Pope is fallible, but so are all your opinions.
The pope's personal opinions, personal devotions, prayers, etc. are his own. Of course, I'd think that his opinion pulls much more weight than mine. Pope St. John Paul II's opinion on the death penalty [*added 22 Jun 17--See #5, third paragraph from his St. Louis Homily] made me look at it differently, and I eventually changed my opinions in line with his.  Eventually, he included his teaching on the subject in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life) in 1995. This encyclical lends even more weight to his teaching. See below under prudential judgment.

2. Prudential Judgment
When Pope Francis issues a judgment of the prudential order, under his authority as Pope, but as a judgment not a teaching, the faithful Catholic is free to disagree.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: “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.” [2]
Caveat: An official decision of the Pope under his temporal authority (the type of Church authority that exercises prudential judgment) may still be binding on you as a Catholic. So, for example, if the Pope changes the form of the Mass, you are free to think that the changes are imprudent, but you are not free to reject the Mass on that basis. Or if the Pope changes the rules for reception of Communion, you are free to argue that the changes are imprudent, but you are not free to reject the Mass or the Pope on that basis.
The changes in the Mass since Vatican II have been the basis of much disgruntlement among "radical traditionalists" sometimes called "rad-trads". These people refuse to go to Mass when the novus ordo (new order) Mass is said. They seek out traditional Latin Mass for the most part. The Latin Mass, per se is certainly not a bad thing, but neither is the Novus ordo. Since the radical changes to the new Mass in the 70's, the American Bishops have been working on tweaking the Mass, making it closer to the Latin Mass. The updates have been good. The point is that no practicing Catholic is allowed to forego Mass because there is not a Mass nearby that they believe is the right one. Even if you believe that everyone should attend a Latin Mass, you cannot skip Mass while on vacation just because you can't find a Latin Mass.

3. Non-infallible Teachings
Each and every teaching of the Magisterium falls into one of two categories: infallible or non-infallible. It is a common misunderstanding to think that all teachings of the Magisterium are entirely without error.
Pope John Paul II: “With respect to the non-infallible expressions of the authentic magisterium of the Church, these should be received with religious submission of mind and will.” [3]
The non-infallible teachings are reliable and have only a limited possibility of error, but they are NOT infallible. The errors possible in non-infallible teachings never reach to the extent of leading the faithful away from the path of salvation. But non-infallible teachings are non-irreformable. They are subject to a limited possibility of correction, improvement, and change.
“There exist in the Church a lawful freedom of inquiry and of thought and also general norms of licit dissent.” [4]
Here we see a very specific statement on when we have freedom of thought! from Pope St. John Paul II. "There exist in the Church a lawful freedom of inquiry and thought and also general noms of licit dissent." There is no doubt we are allowed to think for ourselves.
Non-infallible teachings are subject to a limited possibility of error and reform; therefore, they do not require the full assent of faith, but a lesser type of assent called the “religious submission of mind and will” [5]. What this means is that you are generally required to believe the non-infallible teachings of the Church. But there is some room for faithful dissent, called “licit theological dissent” [4]. To whatever extent a teaching might err, the faithful are free to disagree. God who is Truth never requires assent to false or erroneous ideas.
The non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium are full of truth. The number, type, and extent of the possible errors is quite limited.
An example of an error in a non-infallible teaching is found in the first edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the definition of lying, which erroneously stated that an assertion is only a lie if the person (to whom you are speaking) has a right to the truth. That claim was removed from the second edition.
Caveat: The basis for the disagreement must be Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, or teachings of the Magisterium of greater authority. Most Catholics who reject a non-infallible teaching of the Magisterium have no legitimate basis for that rejection.
Pay attention to this caveat. Well stated Mr. Conte.
4. Infallible Teachings
The infallible teachings are free from all possibility of error due to the work of the Holy Spirit. The infallible teachings require your full assent with the virtue of faith; obstinate disagreement is the grave sin of heresy.
The infallible Magisterium is exercised in any of three ways:
a. Papal Infallibility
b. Conciliar Infallibility
c. the ordinary and universal Magisterium
To reject an infallible teaching of the Magisterium is material heresy. To do so knowingly and deliberately is the grave sin of formal heresy, which includes the penalty of automatic excommunication. If Pope Francis or any other valid Pope teaches something under any type of infallibility, you are required to give that teaching the full assent of faith. Otherwise, you commit heresy and formally separate yourself from the one true Church.
Caveat: Do not be fooled by those blind guides who claim that the Pope can commit heresy himself, and thereby lose his authority. Doctor of the Church Saint Robert Bellarmine held it to be “probable” that the Pope could never commit heresy personally, nor teach heresy in any way. He also held it to be “certain” that the Pope could never define a heresy as a teaching to be believed by the whole Church.
The foolish today claim that IF a Pope teaches heresy in a way that would seem to fall under infallibility, the teaching is nullified because the Pope fell into heresy. To the contrary, Saint Bellarmine believed that a Pope could NEVER teach heresy in a way that would seem to fall under infallibility.
If all of this is true of the pope, so much more so does it apply to priests, bishops, archbishops, and Cardinals. We are free to disagree on opinion. 

by Ronald L. Conte Jr.  Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the
Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.
[1] Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. xxiv.
[2] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, General Principles (sent by Cardinal Ratzinger to Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and made public in July, 2004), n. 3;
[3] Address of Pope John Paul II to the Bishops from the United States on their ‘Ad Limina’ visit, 15 October 1988, n. 5.
[4] National Conference of Catholic Bishops (predecessor to the USCCB), Human Life in Our Day, “Norms of Licit Theological Dissent” n. 49 to 54;
[5] Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, n. 25.
 I received permission by email on 6/26/2016 to reprint Mr. Conte’s post. 

Recently the pope made comments about marriage and co-habitation. Some of his comments were misunderstood, but some of them were outright wrong. Here is a discussion about the pope's comments on The World Over, a news program on EWTN:
Just in case it resets, the discussion starts about 27:51. Both guests Robert Royal, and Fr. Gerald Murray, disagree strongly with the pope's words. Guess what, they are free to do so, and under the category of "non-infallible teachings we see that they do have legitimate reasons to disagree with him. The pope was not making an official proclamation nor was he teaching on faith and morals from the chair of Peter. We are allowed to disagree with the pope when his teaching seems to conflict tradition Catholic teaching. We have had unorthodox popes in the past, and the magesterium has disagreed with a pope or two in the past, but the Church's dogmas and doctrines have never been changed in any material way by any reigning pope.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Catholic vs. Protestant -- why is there so much animosity? (Also published on Cathapol)

I found an article on gotquestions?.org. I thought this site was a neutral site on religion, but boy was I ever wrong. It is a Protestant site that holds nothing back. In the article "Catholic vs. Protestant -- why is there so much animosity?", I detected a lot of animosity toward Catholics.

That was the question. The author's answer and some of my comments.

This is a simple question with a complicated answer, because there are varying degrees of, and reasons for, animosity between the two religious groups.
Let's start there. What two religious groups? Technically speaking, both Protestants and Catholics are Christians, so we are actually the same religion. We just have doctrinal differences. And yes, some are doozies. Can we at least agree that we are all Christians? 
This particular battle is rooted in history. Degrees of reaction have ranged from friendly disagreement (as reflected in numerous ecumenical dialogues produced between the two groups), to outright persecution and murder of Protestants at the hands of Rome.
Yes, much of the animosity between the two groups of Christians in rooted in history. However, spreading the fictional propaganda that Catholics persecuted and murdered Protestants is not going to help ease such animosity. Neither Catholics, nor the Catholic Church persecuted or murdered Protestants wholesale. Did the Catholic Church believe Protestants did not receive salvation at one time in its history?--yes. Has there been a battle between Protestant rulers and Catholic ones?--yes. Has the Catholic Church ever advocated a war against Protestants in general?--no. Obviously, this author did not study actual history but a revisionist version with propaganda mixed in. He's probably heard this balderdash so many times, he really believes it to be true.

From the history I learned (I went to a public high school and a Baptist College), Catholics were not the aggressors in Protestant (Calvinist) Switzerland, nor in Henry VIII's, Edward VI's, or Elizabeth I's England, nor Northern France. Calvin was a lawyer turned "theologian" who left France during the Protestant uprising there. He went to Switzerland where he was instrumental in helping Protestants take over the government and the church there. It was a very restrictive society under the Protestants.

Voltaire wrote: "If they condemned celibacy in the priests, and opened the gates of the convents, it was only to turn all society into a convent. Shows and entertainments were expressly forbidden by their religion; and for more than two hundred years there was not a single musical instrument allowed in the city of Geneva. They condemned auricular confession, but they enjoined a public one; and in Switzerland, Scotland, and Geneva it was performed the same as penance." [This was my addition, not included in the gotquestions?.org article]

Neither society, nor Christianity was improved by Calvin, Luther, Zwingli and their ilk. There was no "reformation" only a deformation of the Church.
Reformation teachings that identify the Pope as the Beast of Revelation and / or Roman Catholicism as Mystery Babylon are still common among Protestants. Clearly, anyone with this view is not going to "warm up" to Rome any time soon.
It is the other way around, sir. Catholics are not going to warm up to Protestants who say such nonsense.  The Catholic Church, though its leader is in Rome, is not Rome. The pope is chosen by the Holy Spirit. Have there been terrible popes? Of course, they're human. Was the Catholic Church founded in the 16th century or later? No, but all modern Protestant churches have been. What does that tell you? The the Catholic Church has its foundation in Christ's teaching from 33AD to the present. The 16th + century churches were made from hole cloth by their founders (who were certainly not Jesus Christ). No, Catholics are not going to "warm up" to people who call them the beast or accuse them of murder.
For the most part, today at least, the animosity comes from basic human nature when dealing with fundamental disagreement over eternal truths.
I whole-heartedly agree. The problem that Protestants don't seem to see is that there can only be one truth. You can't have hundreds of different truths--as there are in Protestantism. Every preacher is his own pope, his own authority on "truth"; he is the one who interprets the Scriptures and preaches his own gospel in a church he figuratively or actually built.
Passions are sure to ignite in the more weighty matters of life, and one's faith is (or at least should be) at the top of the heap. Many Protestants think Roman Catholics teach a works-gospel that cannot save, while Roman Catholics think Protestants teach easy-believism that requires nothing more than an emotional outburst brought on by manipulative preaching.
1) Paul, the Protestant's favorite writer, says that he is working out his salvation, trembling. There are certain things we do need to do to be saved. The first work of salvation is FAITH. "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (Jn 6:29 KJV) We must believe, not as the demons do ("Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19 KJV)), but as the saints in Heaven ("The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne (Rev. 4:10 KJV).

2) We do not believe that good works ALONE save us. This is what Protestants believe that we believe. No, Catholics do not believe that; do not preach that; do not advocate that. However, Catholics do believe that you must work out your salvation in the sense that Paul meant (" out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Phil. 2:12 KJV) -by the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist) and much prayer.  If Protestants don't believe that prayer is important in the plan of salvation (it is a "work" after all), why would they be doing it in the first place?

3) Many, many Protestant churches and individuals do believe in "easy-believism." When a church advocates the "sinners prayer" is all you need to be saved--what do you call that? Many Protestant churches don't believe there is any salvific merit in the "Lord's Supper" or baptism. Things that Jesus commanded us to do. "Do this in memory of Me." "Go into all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Both from memory) I, as a Catholic, don't understand why Jesus Christ's commands are not important to Protestants.
Protestants blame Catholics for worshipping Mary,...
Blaming Catholics for what? Accusing them you mean? This accusation started after the "Reformation", as all the leading "reformers" did respect and honor Mary.

Luther said, "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart."
(Sermon, September 1, 1522)

And, "One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God's grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ . . . Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God. (Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521)

We honor Mary, ironically as Luther said, not for her sake, "but for the sake of Christ." We do not "worship" Mary. We worship God, in Holy Trinity, alone.
...and Catholics think Protestants are apparently too dull to understand the distinctions Rome has made in this regard.
I don't believe that to be true. Catholics, in my opinion, get tired of explaining the difference between honoring someone and worshipping them. Protestants aren't too dull, just too stubborn to see another side to the honoring of Mary but the erroneous opinion they believe it to be.
These caricatures are often difficult to overcome.
An "answer" like yours to this question, certainly will not help in overcoming the difficulties of this question, either.
Behind the particular disagreements over the role of faith and works, the sacraments (sic), the canon of Scripture, the role of the priesthood, prayer to saints, and all the issues surrounding Mary and the Pope, etc., lies the biggest rift between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism: the issue of authority. How one answers the authority question will generally inform all the other issues.
Again, I would whole-heartedly agree. The issue is authority, not any of those petty things Protestants gripe about. Our authority is Jesus Christ and His Apostles. Every point of dogma and doctrine is based in those two authorities. All the councils, all the popes, every Father and Doctor of the Church, every theologian, down to the priests today studied, prayed over, discussed debated, and argued over doctrine. Jesus promised His apostles that He would send someone (the Holy Spirit) Who would guide them into "all truth." He kept His promise--the result is the Body of Christ present in the Catholic Church today.

The fact that Protestants think that they know better than 2,000 years of Holy Spirit-guided Catholic theologians seems more like arrogance than truth. 
When it comes down to deciding a theological issue about defined Catholic dogma, there isn't really much to discuss on the Catholic's side because once Rome speaks it is settled. This is a problem when trying to debate a Roman Catholic -- reason and Scripture are not the Catholic's final authority; they can always retreat into the "safe zone" of Roman Catholic authority.
This statement is a little insulting. In my opinion, he is calling us too dull to debate--what he accuses us of thinking of Protestants. Catholics are too stupid to debate Protestants because they can always "retreat" to Catholic authority and not reason. Really? You really believe that all Protestants who debate Catholics debate more reasonably? All, and I do mean each and every, Catholic dogma has its basis in Scripture, and, yes, all "defined" Catholic dogma must be believed by Catholics. Otherwise, we would be Protestants believing any old opinion we happen to agree with.

All dogma, if not found explicitly in Scripture, it is found implicitly and became a dogma after much prayer, interpretation and study by theologians (many dogmas for centuries). All of Catholic dogma is reasoned and is Scriptural. All Catholic dogma has been debated for almost two millenia. The reason Catholics "fall back" on Catholic authority is because it is inspired, proven Truth.

Seriously, how can Protestants have the Truth when they all disagree on so, so many things. How can there be many truths? ie, on what one must do to be saved, on baptism, on versions of the Bible, on communion, on what day of the week to worship on, on when or whether or not to celebrate Easter, etc, etc, etc. How can there be a truth to any of these things, if Protestants, all claiming the guidance of the Holy Spirit? I'm sorry but I don't see that as "reason"ed.
Thus, many of the arguments between a Protestant and a Catholic will revolve around one's "private interpretation" of Scripture as against "official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church."
Protestants have and do, continually, rely on their "private interpretation" of Scripture, many times with Scriptures either taken out of context or proof-texted in such a way as to be a veritable quilt of theology--patched together but not necessarily going together. They piece their theology together and step back and think, that is perfect. When, in reality, nothing goes together.
Catholics claim to successfully avoid the legitimate problems of private interpretation by their reliance on their tradition. But this merely pushes the question back a step.
Actually, what Catholics claim, again my opinion, that the issues that they argue with Protestants has been argued and argued for a millenia and a half. They get tired of the same old Protestant interpretations and prejudices. Catholic theologians much smarter than the author of that article or me argued the very same theological points long before any Protestant came along. It certainly does not take a step back, in point of fact, it is skipping an unnecessary step--reinterpreting for the thousandth times thousandth time any theological issue has been argued.
The truth is that both Roman Catholics and Protestants must, in the end, rely upon their reasoning abilities (to choose their authority) and their interpretive skills (to understand what that authority teaches) in order to determine what they will believe.
Ok. At least here the author, accidentally, admits that Catholics do reason and have some skill in arguing. All Catholic converts I know (I am a convert to Catholicism) have reasoned and interpreted "to determine what they will believe."  I know that I, personally, challenged the Holy Spirit to convince me, if the Catholic Church were true. He, personally, answered my every challenge, including issues about the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is why I became a member of the True Body of Christ.
Protestants are simply more willing to admit that this is the case.
Not true. If this is your idea of dissipating hostilities, you run short sir. Catholics do reason, and learn to do so in religious education, Catholic schools, and Catholic universities and seminaries. The picture you attempt to paint of unreasoning, ignorant, or mindless Catholics is defamatory. I don't know any Catholic that thinks Protestants are dull (your word). However, I do believe that the fact that the vocabulary of the Protestants differs from that of Catholics and thus the misunderstandings.
Both sides can also be fiercely loyal to their family's faith or the church they grew up in without much thought to doctrinal arguments.
I would agree with this statement with one caveat: Catholics do not preach anti-Protestantism in their churches; many a Protestant pulpit, however, is used to malign Catholics and their faith.
Obviously, there are a lot of possible reasons for the division between Catholicism and Protestantism, and while we should not divide over secondary issues, both sides agree that we must divide when it comes to primary issues.
What are secondary issues? Mary? Baptism? The Eucharist? What are the primary issues that Protestants hold dear? The only one I know common to all Protestants is "Scripture alone" or is it "by faith alone" or "God alone"? I hear so many versions of so-called "sola scriptura" or Scripture is the sole rule of faith for Christians, that I can't tell what this "truth" is either.
Beyond that, we can agree to disagree and worship where we find ourselves most in agreement. When it comes to Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, the differences are just too great to ignore.
But...but, you just said "we should not divide over secondary issues." Now the differences are "just too great to ignore." Huh? Why aren't the differences in the many, many sects of Protestantism "too great to ignore?" In my eyes, it seems that Protestants think, "We are not Catholic, therefore we are all united in truth." That is just not a reasoned argument for the unity of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is quite physically visible in the Catholic Church.
However, that does not give license for caricatures or ignorant judgments – both sides need to be honest in their assessments and try not to go beyond what God has revealed.
Yet, you give several caricatures and ignorant judgments of Catholics in this article.

"Go beyond what God has revealed?" Nothing in Catholic doctrine is "beyond what God has revealed." All of it, in fact, was revealed by God the Holy Spirit.

He goes on to recommend a book on Protestantism compared to Catholicism--of course, from a purely Protestant perspective, and I believe would include the propaganda and "caricatures" revealed in this article.