Is the Roman Catholic Church Christian?
Responding to Anti-Catholicism on the Internet

One of the most unintelligible and repugnant of slurs is the accusation that the Roman Catholic is not a Christian. Such a mentality fails to appreciate the historical evidence which details the Catholic Church as the first and the legitimate Christian community established by Christ. The alternative to such thinking would be that Christianity disappeared entirely for 1,500 years only to reappear with the Protestant Reformation. Would our Lord abandon his Church and allow the truth to be ecclipsed throughout the centuries? Of course not. There is no logic to such a view. The Lord promised that he would never abandon his Church, even unto the end of the world.

One anti-Catholic proponent declared that practically all the "precepts" of the Roman Catholic faith contradict the Scriptures. However, a thoughtful reading of the bible will reveal that quite the opposite is true: the bible validates the Catholic religion. While the critic uneducated to Catholic terminology and faith might use the word "precept" to include all things Catholic, it is actually understood in the Church as an ecclesial positive law. Just as civil society needs laws by which civilization may be maintained, so too does the community of the Church need laws for good order and to insure the furtherance of the Christian life.

The first precept stipulates:  "You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation." It is very much related to the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath Day. Coincidentally, it was the Catholic Church which transferred the commmoration of this day from Saturday to Sunday. Thus, there is at least one matter where many anti-Catholics acknowledge the authority of the Pope over their lives and religious observance. We are called to worship on the Lord's day. What is so terrible about this? Nothing! Those who hate the Mass forget that Jesus told his friends at the Last Supper to repeat it in memory of him.

The fourth precept is very much like it:  "You shall keep holy the holy days of obligation."

The second precept stipulates:  "You shall confess your sins at least once a year (if you are in serious sin)." Coincidentally, it was the Catholic Church which allowed such repeated penance to be practiced so that fallen away Christians might be allowed reentry into the faith community. Initially, serious sin after baptism cast a member from the community as not one of the elect. Thus, the practice of many anti-Catholics in repentance and seeking reconciliation with God and with the Church after conversion and initiation can be traced back to the Catholic leadership's use of the keys to the kingdom. What is so terrible about encouraging a prodigal son or daughter to come home? Nothing! Those who hate Confession forget that Jesus gave the power to forgive sins to his Church.

The third precept stipulates: "You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season." Coincidentally, even the narration of the Last Supper in 1 Corinthians is a recounting of the manner in which the Pauline Eucharist was celebrated. Did the Lord not say that unless you ate his flesh and drank his blood, you could have no part of him? Thus, the renunciation of the Lord's Supper by many anti-Catholics is disobedience to a direct command from Christ and is a rejection of an apostolic testimony from the Scriptures. What is so terrible about fulfilling a mandate from Christ? Nothing! Those who ridicule the host as a "wafer God" blaspheme against the Lord.

The fifth precept stipulates:  "You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence." Did the Lord not fast? Did not John the Baptizer mortify his flesh? They most certainly did. Knowing the value of discipline as a help to Christian character and as an inducement to selfless prayer, the Church recommends such austerity. What is so bad about imitating our Lord?  Did he not say that a day was coming when the bridegroom would be taken away-- a time for fasting? He sure did. Those who reject such penance are often the first to run away from any suffering inherent in following Christ.

The Catholic faithful are also dutybound to support the Church, materially and spiritually. Do not even anti-Catholic churches take up donations and free-will offerings? Sure they do. Most of what is collected in Catholic Churches goes back into the work of the Gospel.

Anti-Catholic cults have some nerve calling the universal Church of Christ a cult. The so-called compassion such enthusiasts exhibit in stealing away Catholic membership is merely a symptom of their egoism. Instead of conforming themselves to Christ, they refashion Christ to themselves and to their message. Theirs is often a messianic cult of personality. Beware if such people tell you that they really care. The true prophet is humble and is always alert not to allow his own message to displace or overshadow that of Christ-- even when it is a truth we personally would rather not hear. The Good News of Christ can be consoling; however, it can be very challenging as well.

Sometimes the Church is attacked, not for what she believes but for what individuals and/or groups within her did in the name of religion. Often the abuses of the Inquisition or Crusades are listed as prime examples. Much of the Inquisition was the work of various governments and in some cases the Holy See pleaded for clemency and mercy. Further, many Protestant groups were also quite good at killing Catholics when they happen to stand in the way of their objectives-- as in England. Such is not just the failure of religion; it is the failure to give Christianity a chance. Many figures for the death tolls are thrown around but they are also largely exaggerated. We must not lose sight of the fact that there were also positive objectives to movements which might have gotten out of hand. The threat of Islam was very much like that of Communism during the Cold War. The Inquisition was to insure that the Catholic Christian faith was safe in Western Europe. The Crusades were to give free access to the Holy Land for Christian pilgrims. The former task met with limited success but resulted in an agreement where such pilgrimages continued into modern times. Another consequence of the Crusades, now recognized in Israeli law, is the right of Christians, albeit Catholics, to maintain many of the important religious sites in the Holy Land. All are welcome to these sites. Many missionaries and the Franciscans in particular have sacrificed much to insure this right of Christians. Long before the anti-Catholic churches and cults came into existence, the Catholic Church was conducting operations which would come to the benefit of all Christians. It should also be noted that the Catholic Church is today at the forefront for the defense of human and religious rights. The understanding of such liberties, as with many doctrinal matters, sometimes only becomes clear over time and after a certain development. The greatest holocausts in all history are happening right now, especially with abortion; we are hardly in a position to pass judgment on the past. While suffering and death was once counted in hundreds and thousands, it is now numbered in the millions. The mindset of both Catholics and Protestants in days gone by was that the murder of the soul was as serious, if not more so, than the murder of the body. This perspective was what led to a severity which some of us would cringe at today. Oddly enough, the love of God and the desire for the salvation of others was often still an ingredient. Hopefully, Catholics and Protestants can learn from the past; however, such has yet to be demonstrated.

Of course, some anti-Catholic critics only want to fight the old battles all over again. One of their heroes is John Wycliff (c. 1325-1384). He challenged the property rights of well-to-do clerics who fell from a state of grace, claiming that such resources then fell to the secular prince or monarch. Such anticlerical views ironically made him popular with poor priests. However, he got into real hot water over unorthodox views toward the Eucharist. He never meant to deny the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in holy communion, as the anti-Catholics do as a matter of course. Many of his views were ultimately judged heretical; but, he could hardly be the poster boy for the fundamentalists today. Indeed, he was quite devout until he had a stroke while at Mass. He believed in an ordained priesthood along Catholic lines but insisted upon evangelical simplicity. Another of their heroes is William Tyndale (c. 1494-1536). Leaning toward the Erasmian humanism, he engaged in several debates with St. Thomas More over Christianity and the Catholic faith. More was a devout Catholic and Tyndale, while he had started out that way, had gravitated toward Protestanism. Both men would find themeselves facing execution. Influenced by Martin Luther, Tyndale made a translation of the New Testament. It is interesting that Tyndale's views were so unorthodox that not only did Catholics find him suspect, but the Lutherans forced him to leave England for Germany. He was not above breaking the law to bring about reformation. Regarding many matters, the views of these two men would be closer to Catholicism than to any anti-Catholic fundamentalism.

The issue with these two men and the Catholic faith was not their stress on the Scriptures, but upon interpretations which ran contrary to the consensus of the Church throughout the centuries. This is still the state of affairs; although anti-Catholics often paint a stark picture of deviation between Scriptural revelation and doctrinal truth:

CATHOLIC PRACTICE - Priests are often addressed as Father.

BIBLE CITATION FROM AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - "And call no one on earth your Father; for one is your Father, who is in heaven" (Matthew 23:9).

CATHOLIC RESPONSE - This is an example of a Scriptural literary form known as Hebraic Hyperbole. It is like the passage that admonishes tearing your eye out or cutting your hand or foot off. It is a way of speaking to give heightened emphasis. The fundamentalist reads everything as if the primary language is English and the author contemporary. This is also an example of taking a verse out of context and distorting its meaning. Verse eight says to call no one Rabbi or teacher. However, do we not use this word all the time? Further, if this line is absolute against Catholic priests who possess a spiritual fatherhood, then what about our foster fathers and biological fathers? It would have to apply there as well. Almost no one would agree to this. It is a wonderful sign of respect and relationship. The matter about which the Lord is concerned is that his disciples not imitate the Pharisees in their pride and hypocrisy, lording their positions over others. God is the true and ultimate Father of all. If any fatherhood does not flow from and participate in divine fatherhood, then it is a lie and oppressive. St. Paul speaks of himself as a spiritual father in his first letter to the Corinthians and admits that there are other such fathers, although not many. The shortage of vocations to priesthood is still a matter with which we must deal.

BIBLE CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [In speaking of our priorities] "He who loves FATHER or mother more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37). [About marriage] "For this cause a man shall leave his FATHER and mother, and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Matthew 19:5). [Placing discipleship to Jesus first] "And everyone who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or FATHER, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall possess life everalasting" (Matthew 19:29). {see also Mark 10:29} [Abraham is called father] "For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham who is the FATHER of all of us, ..." (Romans 4:16). {see also Romans 4:11-12,17} [Treatment of elders] "Do not rebuke an older man, but appeal to him as a FATHER" (1 Timothy 5:1). [Enduring trials] "For what 'son' is there whom his FATHER does not discipline?" (Hebrews 12:7). {see also Hebrews 12:9} [My favorite and very similar to calling the priest, Father] "I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many FATHERS, for I became your FATHER in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you to be imitators of me" (1 Corinthians 4:14-16).

CATHOLIC PRACTICE - Priests forbidden to marry.

BIBLE CITATION FROM AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - [Contention that it is from the devil to prohibit the good of marriage] "Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions, through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences. They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the invocation of God in prayer" (1 Timothy 14:1-4).

CATHOLIC RESPONSE - These words refer to a false asceticism and not to the practices of Catholic Christianity. The early Church and well into the Patristic period, had to deal with cults and movements which made all sorts of exaggerated claims and required various austire practices. Some urged a return to Jewish dietary laws. Others wanted to go even further with fasting and abstinence, perpetually destroying joy in the goods of creation. There were even movements which urged strict celibacy upon all the members as the only way to enlightenment and salvation. The Catholic position is quite different. Our use of fasting and abstinence is not perpetual and it is not a rejection of certain foods as unclean or unworthy of man. Rather, their absence, to coin a cleche, is to make the heart grow fonder. It is precisely because something like meat is good that we might temporarily abstain. Jesus himself fasted and prayed in the desert and alluded to it in the future as something his followers would do. As for marriage, Catholics believe that Christ raised it up to a level of a sacrament, a special sacred sign of his relationship as the bridegroom to his bride, the Church. It is a mysterious means of encountering the Lord himself and receiving grace. Obviously, if such is the Catholic view, we would not be seeking to degrade it by our practice of celibacy. Priests and religious vow celibacy freely, not because marriage is bad, but because it is so good. Celibacy becomes a wonderful gift, freely embraced, as a sacrifice for God and his holy people. Jesus was celibate. St. Paul not only practiced it but encouraged it. The celibate priest becomes a sign of contradiction of the kingdom of Christ to a hedonistic world. It is not a rejection of love, but a selfless abandonment to divine love as manifested in service to God's people, the Church. It is not a calling for everyone, just as not everyone is called to priesthood or consecrated life. The majority of people seek holiness in marriage and family life.

BIBLE CITATION FROM AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - [Peter was married; an apostolic line through Peter?] "And when Jesus had come into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed, sick with a fever" (Matthew 8:14) "Now Simon's mother-in-law was keeping her bed sick with fever, and they immediately told him about her" (Mark 1:30). "But he rose from the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a great fever, and they besought him for her" (Luke 4:38).

CATHOLIC RESPONSE - These references to Peter's mother-in-law do indicate that Peter was married; although her absence from these texts might lend one to think that she experienced some mishap and might have passed away. Be this as it may, the Catholic Church has never hidden the fact that Peter and other religious leaders of the Church were married. Indeed, the Catholic Church had a married clergy all the way up to the 12th century. The Fourth Lateran Council was quite decisive in mandating compulsory celibacy for any who would be priests of the Roman or Western Rite. The Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, to this very day (in Europe and the Far East) have an optional married clergy. These priests are in full union with Rome. Also, in our own nation many Protestant clergy, Lutheran and Episcopal, have entered into the Roman Catholic priesthood, even though they are married and have families. Those who are raised in the Western rite realize that celibacy is a special gift and a particular charism of our priestly experience. It is a sign of a wondrous single-hearted love. One of the fruits of this sacrifice is the availability that a priest can give to his prayers, study, and service. Any indication that Peter's married state would affect apostolic succession is a low blow. Those who followed Peter had a spiritual and not a physical affinity to the great apostle. While the Church has known nepotism, such is the exception and not the rule. No one forces a young man to become a priest or brother. There is no coercion for a woman to become a nun. They know that vows of poverty, obedience, and celibacy are part of the package. If God gives a person a vocation in the Catholic Church, we believe that he will give them the graces and gifts to follow this life. The majority of men who leave the priesthood to get married ultimately have failed marriages. Promises are made to be kept. The problem is not the Church or God; the dilemma are people who are unwilling to surrender their lives fully to Christ. Marriage is also a sacrifice, amidst the joys. However, if we trust God and walk with him, he will guide our path.

BIBLE CITATION FROM AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - [Paul was single but thought we should have the freedom to marry] "Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and brothers of the Lord, and Kephas?" (1 Corinthians 9:5).

CATHOLIC RESPONSE - The Catholic Church also recognizes the right of people to get married. However, the Church has a right of her own to regulate her ministries. Permanent deacons, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, Catechists, Lectors, Acolytes, and Lay Evangelists and Ministers all serve the Church a may be married. Would the anti-Catholic demand compulsory matrimony? I hope not. Those who opt for priesthood in the Roman Rite also freely embrace celibacy. This is no less than what St. Paul did. After listing all the various rights that a follower in Jesus possesses, he acknowledges that he has chosen not to use these rights for himself.

BIBLE CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [After listing the right to marry among many other freedoms, St. Paul says] "Yet we have not used this right. On the contrary, we endure everything, so as not to place an obstacle to the Gospel of Christ. ... I have not used any of these rights, ..." (1 Corinthians 9:12,15). [After speaking about marriage] "This I say by way of concession, however, not as a command. Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. Now to the unmarried and to widows, I say: It is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, ..." (1 Corinthians 7:6-8). [Advice to Virgins and Widows] "Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that. I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away" (1 Corinthians 7:25-31). [More on virginity] "So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better" (1 Corinthians 7:38). [About a widow] "She is more blessed, though, in my opinion, if she remains as she is, and I think that I too have the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 7:40). [Celibacy is a sign of the kingdom!] "His disciples said to him, 'If the case of a man with his wife is so, it is not expedient to marry.' And he said, 'Not all can accept this teaching; but those to whom it has been given. For there are eunichs who were born so from their mother's womb; and there are eunichs who were made so by men; and there are eunichs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let him accept it who can'" (Matthew 19:10-12).

CATHOLIC BELIEF - Mary remained a perpetual virgin.

BIBLE CITATIONS OF AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - [Argues that Mary and Joseph indeed had children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus] "'Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Then where did he get all this?'" (Matthew 13:55-56). "'Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joses, Jude, and Simon? And are not also his sisters here with us?' And they took offense at him" (Mark 6:3).

CATHOLIC RESPONSE - Mathew's quoted text itself intimates that the people speaking do not know what they are talking about. They cannot fathom where Jesus as received his special authority and wisdom; indeed, by designating him as "the carpenter's son," they are even in the dark about his virgin birth as the incarnate Son of God. If they can be wrong about St. Joseph being the father of Jesus, then a cursory reading of these Scriptures may lead us into a similar error regarding Mary and the other family members. Note that they are listed as kin to Christ, cousins perhaps, as nothing more can be certainly determined from the Oriental custom of calling all such, brothers and sisters. Not once is Mary called their mother. Actually, the phrasing is quite careful to separate Mary, as the mother of Jesus, from these other brethren. Another point of interest is that Jesus on the cross entrusts Mary to his apostle John, rather than to these kin. If they were actually half brothers and sisters, such would have been understood as a great insult to the family. It just was not done. Another point of correction is the presence of Mary as the beloved matriarch of the early Church. She was protected and cherished by the believing community. This same family of faith, who knew Mary so intimately, would transmit as part of our living tradition the truth that Mary remained a perpetual virgin. Also, such a virginity was befitting the dignity of Jesus Christ as the unique God-Man and Savior. Looking at the Scriptural citations, there are certain practical problems to the use of these bible passages in the anti-Catholic's arsenal. Look at the names of the brethren here; Mark 15:40 informs us that James the younger and Joses (Joseph) were the sons of another Mary who was related to the Virgin Mary. As for the others, they may have been cousins, or if a second century work entitled The Protevangelium of James is to be trusted, the children of Joseph from a previous marriage. The image of a widower would collaborate the tradition that Joseph was much older than Mary. Such a view was also supported by other ancient authorities: Origen, Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Epiphanius. St. Jerome, knowledgable in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, argued that they were cousins. He argued that Mary (a sister to the Virgin Mary?), the wife of Clopas (also known as Alphaeus), was the actual mother of the brothers and sisters of Christ.

BIBLE CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [Two of the brethren of Christ are listed as children of another Mary] "And some women were also there, looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses (Joseph), and Salome. They used to accompany him and minister to him when he was in Galilee -- besides many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem" (Mark 15:40-41). [Semitic usage of brother and sister applied also to nephews, nieces, cousins, and others] "He recovered all the possessions, besides bringing back his kinsman [BROTHER] Lot and his possessions, along with the women and the other captives" (Genesis 14:16). "Laban said to him: 'Should you serve me for nothing just because you are a relative [BROTHER] of mine?'" (Genesis 29:15). "Then Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron's uncle Uzziel, with the order, "Come, remove your kinsmen [BROTHERS] from the sanctuary and carry them to a place outside the camp" (Leviticus 10:4).

CATHOLIC BELIEF - Mary can be called the Mother of God.

WHAT THE ANTI-CATHOLIC HAS TO SAY - Mary is only the mother of the mortal or human Jesus, not God. Jesus, as God, pre-exists, even before creation (note John 1:1). God has no beginning-- no mother. "He allowed himself "for a little while" to be "made 'lower than the angels,' that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).

BIBLE CITATIONS OF AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - [If Mary was actually God's mother-- giving birth to God himself-- she would be God] "You are my witnesses, says the Lord, my servants whom I have chosen to know and believe in me and understand that it is I. Before me no god was formed, and after me there shall be none" (Isaiah 43:10). "Your throne stands firm from of old; you are from everlasting, Lord" (Psalm 93:2). "But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times" (Micah 5:1). "Who [Christ Jesus], though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, ..." (Philippians 2:6-7).

CATHOLIC RESPONSE - The anti-Catholic who made this argument against the title Mother of God did not do his homework. He failed to properly define the title, he failed to appreciate the Catholic position regarding Christ as divine, and he fell into an ancient heresy against the identity of Christ himself. It is a perfect example of the old cleche, "Those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat it." A response is difficult, because it is hard to take such a stab at Catholic faith regarding Mary seriously. Catholic school children could see the holes here. The heresy esposed here is known as Nestorianism after Bishop Nestorius who rejected the term Theotokos or God-bearer (Mother of God) for Mary. He argued that she was only the bearer or mother of Christ's human nature. To his credit, Nestorius was concerned that the title was too similar to that which had belonged to goddesses, like Isis and Diana, called the mother of the gods. Ultimately, what was at stake was more than an honor for Mary. The real issue was, who is Jesus? Yes, he was God and yes, he was a man. However, the position of Nestorius tended to divide Jesus into two sons. The unity of Christ was endangered. Never did the title Mother of God imply that she was divine or a goddess. Mary was and always will be purely a human creature. This is the Catholic position. The title Mother of God does not have ontological properties regarding her identity. Christ is the pre-existent Logos, the Word, and author of life. This is the Catholic position, lost in the drivel of an ignorant anti-Catholic. According to Roman usage, the title Mother of God represents a particular form of speech known as communicatio idiomata-- the communication or exchange of idioms. Another example would be the expression that in Jesus, "God died on the cross." Obviously, as a perfect Spirit, God as God cannot die. However, because of the inseparable identity of Christ as the God-Man, his death by virtue of his human nature can be ascribed to him according to his ultimate identity-- the Son of God. Similarly, while the Lord only takes his human nature from Mary, she, like all mothers, is the mother of the whole identity of her child. The only difference is that her child happens to be God. The anti-Catholic posited a metaphysical meaning to the title Mother of God which the Catholic Church had never given it. This title protects the unity between the divine and human natures of Christ, one divine person.

BIBLE CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [Elizabeth's greeting] "'And how have I deseved that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43). {See also John 2:1; 19:25; Matthew 13:55} [Unity in Christ] "For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily, ..." (Colossians 2:9).

CATHOLIC BELIEFS - Purgatory, Religious Life (Nuns), and the Pope.

WHAT THE ANTI-CATHOLIC HAS TO SAY - None of these things are supported in the Scriptures. It is a serious sin to add to the bible. Moving to the matter of the Pope, he is a man who takes upon himself the honor which belongs to God alone. People do not need the Pope to know the will of God. The testimony of Scripture is that the Holy Spirit guides each believer to all truth. All anyone needs is a bible and the Holy Spirit. The papacy has no special commission to teach; it is the pathetic attempt of the blind leading the blind. Disaster awaits them all. Catholics should abandon this man-made system which prevents them from personally knowing Jesus and being saved. Turning to Purgatory, it is purportedly a place where sins are purified after death. However, the bible says that Jesus does this. Our fate is sealed with death-- heaven or hell-- nothing more.

BIBLE CITATIONS OF AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - [Not to add to the bible] "Add nothing to his words, lest he reprove you, and you be exposed as a deceiver" (Proverbs 30:6). [Regarding the absence of the Catholic Purgatory] "Hence, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). "Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear as second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him" (Hebrews 9:27-28).

CATHOLIC RESPONSE - The citation of Proverbs contends that we must not add anything to God's revelation; taken in the strict sense of the fundamentalist, it would logically mean that everything written (even in Scripture?) after the fifth century B.C. (the date of this book's composition) is inauthentic. Not being very rational, even with their own principles, they will deny and run away from such a position. The Catholic Church adds nothing that alters the substantial message of salvation; indeed, she validates much that the anti-Catholic would steal from God's hands. While religious life is mentioned, nothing is said about it in the anti-Catholic information provided. Having spoken about the Pope on another page regarding his title as Holy Father, I will not add much here. The Scriptural and historical evidence is abundantly clear that the Papacy was an institution finding its roots in the significant mission given St. Peter by Jesus, himself. Even the Orthodox churches, who are not in union with the Holy See, view the Pope as the first among equals. As for Purgatory, I fail to see how the bible texts quoted say anything to challenge this doctrine of faith. The soul in Purgatory is destined for heaven. Jesus has indeed rescued him from the death of sin. However, since we believe that justification is not so much imputation as it is transformation, the soul must be perfected and purified before entry into heaven. The fire of God's love itself burns away the residue of selfishness to which we cling. Temporal punishment for sin is paid and the little sins which plagued us, as well as evil habits or vices, are eradicated and we are healed. Often Purgatory has been compared to a prison, but it might better be likened to a hospital. Indeed, if Purgatory is the hospital of the afterlife, then hell is the cemetery for dead souls, who have forfeited the divine life, clung to mortal sin, and hate both God and man. The Catholic citation of 2 Maccabees brings another issue to the forefront, the deletion of a book of the bible by Protestant reformers. Of course, it still shows the orthodox mindset of the Jews regarding prayer for the dead and what Jesus would have held as one who acknowledged by words and then by his own person, the resurrection.

BIBLE CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [Expiation for the dead] Judas rallied his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the week was ending, they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath there. On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his men went to gather up the bodies of the slain and bury them with their kinsmen in their ancestral tombs. But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain. They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to life the things that are hidden. Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin" (2 Maccabees 12:38-46). [Clear implication that there is forgiveness of sins in the next life] "And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this world or in the world to come" (Matthew 12:32). [Must be made perfect before entering heaven] "The treasure and wealth of nations will be brought there, but nothing unclean will enter it, nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 22:26-27).

CATHOLIC PRACTICE - Catholics venerate or (worship?) images. The Pope himself bows before statues of Mary. Similarly, they worship Christ in the Eucharist. They also possess statues, candles, and other such religious objects in their homes and churches.

BIBLE CITATION OF AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - [The fashioning and veneration of images is forbidden as idolatry] "You shall not carve idols [any graven image] for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, ..." (Exodus 20:4-5).

CATHOLIC RESPONSE - No, Catholics do not "worship" images. Veneration is different from the kind of exclusive worship and adoration owed to God alone. Rather, we honor and treat with respect those things which remind us of God and those in whom the Lord has done wondrous things. The honor we show the Blessed Virgin Mary is particularly pronounced; however, even here it is not the same kind of worship which we render to God. Unlike the ancient idol worshippers, the honor is paid not to the physical representation, but to the one who is signified. Definitions are very important. Holy objects often serve the same function as momentos and photographs in our homes; they remind us our of friends and family. Similarly, religious statues, pictures, and all the rest brings to mind our spiritual family of faith and our identity as part of it. Candles are symbolic of Jesus himself. The smoke rises as prayer is taken into heaven. They give off light and Jesus is the Light of the World, dispelling the darkness of sin and death. They give off heat, and Jesus gave the warmth of healing and forgiveness to others. Like the candle which exhausts itself for our benefit, Jesus surrenders his life that we might be redeemed. Turning to the Eucharist, Jesus himself told us that it was his flesh and blood, the living sacrament of his presence. We can worship this divine mystery because it is Jesus and Jesus is God. Fundamentalist anti-Catholics are not consistent on this score about graven images. Come Christmas, they usually have stuatuary nativity scenes like everyone else. Also, if they were to be consistent in their strict observance of this commandment, it would also include the toy dolls they buy their children. Some cults actually do this! The Catholic view of images is based on the permissable symbolic use of them in the Old Testament and the fact that Christ himself through the incarnation reveals the transcendent God. God allowed images which symbolically pointed to our ultimate salvation in the Lord. The very history fact of the God-Man, Christ, ushers in a new "economy" of images [CCC #2131].

BIBLE CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [To be healed from the poisonous bites of serpents] "So Moses prayed for the people, and the Lord said to Moses, 'Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover.' Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered" (Numbers 21:7-9). {See also Wisdom 16:6-8} [Jesus' humanity is a healing image of God] "'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting'" (John 3:14). [Regarding the ark of the covenant] "'Make two cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends of the propitiatory, fastening them so that one cherub springs direct from each end. The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, covering the propitiatory with them; they shall be turned toward each other, but with their faces looking toward the propitiatory'" (Exodus 25:18-20). {See also 1 Kings 6:2328}.

CATHOLIC BELIEF - The Mass is purported to be a sacrifice and holy communion (through transubstantiation), the actual blood and body of Jesus Christ.

WHAT THE ANTI-CATHOLIC HAS TO SAY - Jesus, once and for all, died for sins. This saving act is never to be repeated. He now sits at the right hand of God and does not reappear to us in the Mass as a a corpse's blood and flesh.

BIBLE CITATIONS FROM AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - [Christ died only once] "But this one [Jesus] offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated. The holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying: 'This is the covenant I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord: 'I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them upon their minds,' he also says: 'Their sins and their evildoing I will remember no more.' Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin" (Hebrews 10:12-18). [Christ upon the cross] "Therefore, when Jesus had taken the wine, he said, 'It is consummated (finished)!' And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit" (John 19:30). [Remembrance, not the forgiveness of sins] "For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

CATHOLIC RESPONSE - It is true that Jesus died once and for all. His saving death is unique and the risen Lord will never die again. This is also Catholic doctrine. Further, the Catholic Church also agrees that holy communion is not the flesh and blood of a dead Christ. However, everything else is misunderstood by the anti-Catholic critic. The Mass is a real sacrifice in that it resonates in perfect harmony with Calvary. Each celebration of the Mass is not a new slaughter of Christ Jesus. Sometimes, when spoken about as a repetition of the cross, this confusion arises. The Mass is a sacramental (use of sacred signs) and unbloody re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ. Like a time machine, we are transported to Calvary and are present at the one saving act of all history. The only thing missing at the cross was our own self-offering with and in Jesus. The appearances of bread remain, but the sacred elements constitute the risen Lord-- body and soul, humanity and divinity-- without division or diminishment. There is but one high priesthood in Christianity, that of Jesus Christ. Every ordained priest allows his very self to be appropriated by Christ in a participation in the one priesthood which offers true worship. If the Mass and Calvary are one and the same, then of course it is a propitiary sacrifice, one which forgives sins. The covenant of Christ is not a stagnant affair locked in past history, the remembrance of the Eucharist makes present what it celebrates. It is a renewal of the new covenant in Christ's body and blood. The Hebrew notion of "anamnesis" is not like our impoverished nostalgia-type of remembrance. The words of institution, said by the priest at Mass, recall the saving supper of the Lamb and makes him present-- both in his person (his identity) and in his saving activity. The sacrifice of Calvary, re-presented to us throughout time and place, calls us all to unity in the Lord. The Lord himself tells us that unless we eat his body and blood, we can have no part of him. Paul's words from 1 Corinthians are not merely an academic exercise in studying the institution narrative of the Lord's Supper. These words were familiar to St. Paul because they constituted the liturgical tradition he had received. These are the words with which St. Paul, an apostle and priest of the new dispensation, offered the Eucharist. Note that after mentioning the Lord's command to repeat his new ritual, St. Paul talks about our need to be worthy in its reception. Otherwise, we would be held accountable. Unless there is a "real presence" of Christ in the consecrated bread and cup, such a warning would be incoherent. He forewarns them against any further abuse at the Lord's Supper, including overeating. (Remember, in the early Eucharists, the Lord's Supper was attached to a regular meal.) It is precisely because of the efficacy of the Eucharist in regard to the forgiveness of sins, the realization of divine mercy, that St. Paul talks immediately about judgment if we neglect or abuse the priviledge.

BIBLICAL CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [See previously, but understood correctly] (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). [Continuation on the tradition of institution; only makes sense if the Eucharist really is the risen Christ] "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:27). [Self-examination necessary if we are to appreciate the command to unity which flows from Jesus' giving of himself and our requirement to repeat his sacrifice with the same spirit of self-donation] "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Corinthians 11: 29).

CATHOLIC BELIEF - Good works have a part to play in our salvation.

WHAT THE ANTI-CATHOLIC HAS TO SAY - Fundamentalists tend to say that good works are the fruits which come from being saved. They would insist that they are not a means to salvation. If a person is is one of the elect, it will be manifested by his good works as one filled with Christ's spirit. It is not the works, but the blood of Christ which earns salvation. Sometimes Catholics quote James 2:20 in their defense that "faith without works is useless"; however, all this means is that the type of faith which is saving is one which manifests the work of God. Note that James 2:19 has the demons believing and trembling. Theirs is not a saving faith. Many say they believe in Jesus and yet they refuse to follow him. Theirs is not a saving faith. A person of true faith experiences the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and good works will find expression in his life. Such works are a confirmation of true faith. The model of Abraham is recalled in james 2:21-23 in which he believd in God to the extent of being willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God came first and he trusted that God could still keep his promises, no matter what.

BIBLE CITATIONS OF AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - [Blood of Christ saves] "... and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). {incomplete} [Faith alone saves] "And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). {incomplete} "They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God -- to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus. What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out. On what principle, that of works? No, rather on the principle of faith. For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law" (Romans 3:24-28).

RESPONSE OF A CATHOLIC - This last Scripture text might be a bit misleading. The works mentioned here are not those which constitute an element of our faith in Christ. The argument here is not entirely different from the circumcision debate at the council in Jerusalem. The tension is not between faith and good deeds but Christian faith and the Jewish law. This contrast becomes clear if we read further: "Does God belong to Jews alone? Does he not belong to Gentiles, too? Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not! On the contrary, we are supporting the law" (Romans 3:29-31). The interpretation given to James makes me cringe. James says quite bluntly, "Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? (James 2:20). Mentioning Abraham, it was not that his works were just a fruit of his faith; rather, they were a vital ingredient of it. "You see that faith was active ALONG WITH his works, and faith was COMPLETED by the works" (James 2:22). The reformer, Martin Luther admitted that the Letter of James could not be reconciled with his view that we were saved by faith alone. Consequently, he omitted this letter from his bible. Others readmitted this wonderfully Catholic testimony back into the Protestant bible. The anti-Catholic's stereotype of the Church's view of justification is inexact and misleading. Regarding the need for a faith which ushers in saving grace, there would be concord. Further, it is obvious that a true faith will show itself with good fruits. Again, there is no argument here, except in the critic's own mind. The citation from James cited here is not entirely as the fundamentalist describes. It appears that James is indeed offering a correction to an exaggeration of the Pauline view. The Catholic Church herself admits that good works cut off from faith and sanctifying grace would avail us nothing. The one extreme would contend that good deeds earn salvation; the other, that faith in the Lord (dedicating themselves to trust in God through Jesus) would suffice. Paul actually steers a middle course by speaking about the importance of faith lived out in love (Galatians 5). Dynamic faith is not only a profession in words but an interior disposition actuated by the grace of God and substantiated by the life of charity. The Catholic stress on the incarnation is crucial here. If Christ is alive inside of us, then the good deeds we perform are ultimately the works of Christ. Because they are the extension of the Lord's saving activity, they have merit. Justification is intimately bound up with our entry into God's community of faith, the Church. Baptism is the entry into this life and the sacraments are the essential means of our growth. Faith and works (in love) are two sides of the same coin; there may be some tension between these elements, but no strict division.


[CCC #1814] Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God" (DV 5). For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity" (Romans 1:17; Galatians 5:6).

[CCC #1815] The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it (Trent). But "faith apart from works is dead" (James 2:26): when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body.

[CCC #1816] The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks" (LG 42). Service and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation:  "So every one who acknowledges me before men, Ia lso will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).

BIBLE CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [Blood of Christ saves if we walk in God's ways (good works with faith) in the community of the Church] "But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7) [Faith (in Jesus), charity (in caring for injuries and feeding the hungry) and the certain hope of salvation (in baptism) comes to us as a Christian family] "And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.' So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God" (Acts 16:31-34). [Remarking about Abraham] "See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:24-26). [Faith, Hope, and Love] "For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6).

CATHOLIC TRADITION - The foundation stone of the church is Peter.

WHAT THE ANTI-CATHOLIC HAS TO SAY - Jesus Christ alone is the foundation of the church. Peter was a mere man like ourselves. He was not even the best of men. Note that the Lord declared Peter to be "Satan" (Matthew 16:23) when he rebuked Jesus' prospect of betrayal and death. Peter rejected Cornelius' effort to worship him, saying, Get up. I myself am also a human being." (Acts 10:26). The Pope would do well to pay heed to this admonition when his lost souls bow to him and kiss his ring. He is not worthy of worship!

BIBLE CITATIONS OF AN ANTI-CATHOLIC - "...for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, name, Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). "Jesus said to them, 'Did you never read in the Scriptures, <The stone which the builders rejected, has become the corner stone; by the Lord this has been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes>?'" (Matthew 21:42).

RESPONSE OF A CATHOLIC - The critic's citation of 1 Corinthians is purposely misleading. He gives a fragment of a text and twists its meaning to his purposes. Let us look at the previous verse of which 11 is a part: "According to the grace of God given to me [St. Paul], like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, ..." (1 Corinthians 3:10). Catholics would agree that Jesus is the center of our Christian faith; however, this passage is about the accountability of those in God's service. It is in this sense that it refers to Peter, Paul, and any and all of the other shepherds of the Church. Peter is only a rock in a secondary sense to Christ who is the true foundation stone. He is the visible head of the entire Church, Vicar of Christ, the invisible head. He has been given a privileged place in the Church to care for the Lord's flock. He is to be trustworthy and steadfast like a rock against the storms of sin, of flesh, and of the world. Peter's failure in appreciating the saving task which Jesus had to undergo would earn him a rebuke; later his denial of Christ would earn him shame. However, despite his weaknesses, he is the one selected out by Christ as the head of the Apostles and the "rock" upon which Christ would build his Church. Note that the roles of the builder and the rock seem to blurr or to be interchanged in the Scriptural texts. Something of this becomes understandable if we appreciate the incarnation of Christ by grace in his followers. The Church is holy because Christ is holy. The ministries and works of the Church are also Christs. He identifies himself and his authority especially in his Apostles and in their successors. Note later in 1 Corinthains 3:16: "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" Later, in chapter 4, verse 1, St. Paul says something which wonderfully resonates with the Pope as the Servant of the Servants of God: "Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries (sacraments?) of God." The business about worship is hardly worthy of a response. We do not worship the Pope. We respect and honor him as an important and holy personage, but no more. Is a man on one knee proposing marriage to his beloved stealing the worship proper to God? No. Is the custom of a man kissing a lady's hand blasphemous? No. Is the bow rendered to royalty a violation of God's due. I sure hope not. Again, the anti-Catholic bigot proves himself silly and stumbling over himself in bearing false witness against Catholicism.

BIBLE CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [Christ's promise to St. Peter that he will be the head of the Apostles and visible foundation the Church together with him] "Simon Peter answered and said, 'Thou art 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 on earth shall be loosed in heaven'" (Matthew 16:16-19). [Our Lord healed Peter from his thrice denial and makes him shepherd of his entire flock] "When, therefore, they had breakfasted, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, Son of John, dost thou love me more than these do?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' He said to him a second time, 'Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' A third time he said to him, 'Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?' Peter was grieved because he said to him for the third time, 'Dost thou love me?' And he said to him, 'Lord thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.' He said to him, 'Feed my sheep'" (John 21:15-17). [Peter confirms the faith of the other Apostles, alludes to papal infallibility in faith] "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32).

CATHOLIC TRADITION - Confession (of sins) to a priest. Petitioning Mary and the saints.

WHAT THE ANTI-CATHOLIC HAS TO SAY - Sins and needs are to be confessed only to God

BIBLICAL CITATIONS OF THE ANTI-CATHOLIC - [Confession to God] "If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from every wrongdoing" (1 John 1:9). [The Our Father] "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:12). [One Mediator, not the saints, the Pope, or the priests] "For there is one God. There is one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:5). "But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one" (1 John 2:1).

RESPONSE OF A CATHOLIC - The use of 1 Timothy is quite interesting because he affirms the value of good works in fidelity and love to Christ: "But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever calims to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived" (1 Timothy 2:5-6). I would suspect that the anti-Catholic bigot would not like this message very much. None of his citations contradict Catholic faith. Sins can be forgiven, even outside of the sacrament of Confession. However, one must still admit sinfulness, be sorry, and offer an act of contrition. The sacrament is a special and certain way we receive God's mercy. The Church reserves to herself the confession of certain serious sins so that we may assuredly be forgiven, receive the graces to amend our life, repair rift caused by sin in the Mystical Body, and receive appropriate counsel. Because of his configuration to Christ, the absolution of the priest in Confession resonates in perfect harmony with the expiation of the Cross. Christ forgives our sins. He has extended something of this authority to his Church as an element of his abiding and healing presence. The anti-Catholic critic has trouble with Confession for the same reason that he cannot abide the ministry of priests, the authority of the Pope, and the intercession of the saints: his is an intensely privatized faith which makes no concession to a church other than periodic fellowship. Churches, as long as they are not Romanized, are interchangeable and maybe even considered unnecessary. Such is a theology incapatable with the Scriptural view of the Church as the new People of God or the new Israel or Jerusalem.

BIBLICAL CITATIONS OF A CATHOLIC - [All the previous ones are okay as long as they are correctly understood] [Precident in the Old Testament] "The Lord said to Moses: 'Tell the Israelites: If a man (or woman) commits a fault against his fellow man and wrongs him, thus breaking faith with the Lord, he shall confess the wrong he has done, restore his ill-gotten goods in full, ...'" (Numbers 5:5-7). "He who conceals his sins prospers not, but he who confesses and forsakes them obtains mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). [David confessed his sins to Nathan the prophet and was given assurance of pardon] "Then David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' Nathan answered David: 'The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die" (2 Samuel 12:13). [Responding to John the Baptizer] "Then there went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region about the Jordan; and they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins" (Matthew 3:5-6). [Responding to the Apostles] "Many of those who had become believers came forward and openly acknowledged their former practices" (Acts 19:18). [Ordained ministers exert Christ's forgiveness over sins] "So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). "He therefore said to them again, 'Peace be to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.' When he said this, be breathed upon them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained'" (John 20:21-23). "Amen I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matthew 18:18). "And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). [I will address the matter of Mary and the saints elsewhere.]

There is no Scripture which invalidates the claims of the Roman Catholic Church. This webpage has limited itself to those attacked by a particular anti-Catholic bigot.

The infallibility of the Catholic faith as realized in the protection of the Holy Spirit over the Magisterium (Pope and bishops in union with him) and over revelation, as revealed in Scripture and the life of the Church (tradition) has been proven time and time again. The subject of this safeguard is faith and morals. It does not include all the various secular and scientific truths, upon which the Church's leaders and membership might make human judgments.

Many will offer a donation, called a stipend for a Mass. However, it is a gift and even without monetary help, the sacraments are free-- even if we have to find resources elsewhere to pay for the upkeep of our facilities and materials. Protestant churches also "pass the basket" so this material side cannot be used to harass the Catholic Church. Yes, we pray for the dead, not to hear ourselves talk, but to manifest our continued unity with our beloved deceased who may still be on their way to paradise. It is true that the price for their entry into heaven has been paid by the blood of Christ. However, we must be made perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Those in heaven do not need our prayers and those in hell cannot benefit from them. At least upon this much, the anti-Catholic fundamentalist and the Catholic might agree.

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Church in the world. Catholics have taken seriously their commitment to love God and neighbor. Catholic schools and hospitals abound throughout the nation. Catholic Charities is one of the largest charity and social assistance on the globe and second only to the U.S. Government. We follow Jesus who is the Way and the Truth and the Life. He gave us the Church as his special family and the breaking of his kingdom into the world. It is unfortunate that despite the Church's incredible contributions to society that there should still be a few who hate and malign her.

Prepared on December 8, 1997

Return to INDEX