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The Pope & Bishops, Official Interpreters of Scripture

Luke 10:16: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Matthew 16:18: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death (gates of hell) shall not prevail against it.”

Malachi 2:7: For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction (law) from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

The Holy Spirit has functioned as the very soul of the Catholic Church, insuring the efficacy of the sacraments and the truthfulness of official interpretations of the Word of God and his will for us. Certain Protestants claim an immediate mastery of all Scripture as long as they approach it prayerfully and with care. However, the Holy Spirit is not like a light switch that we can turn immediately off and on. While not utterly invalidating the personal meanings we might find in bible reading, we leave the authoritative renderings to the Magisterium (the Pope and bishops in union with him). It is interesting that the fundamentalist Protestant claim makes more of a demand upon the Holy Spirit and infallibility than does the Pope, himself. He only offers a declaration after extended investigation and consultation, and even then, after much prayer. Unless it is a matter essential to the faith, he usually does not invoke this authority. Infallible papal declarations are quite rare. The Pope does not make something true; rather, he draws our attention to what we have always believed.

For more such reading, contact me about getting my book, DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH.

8 Responses

  1. “Did you attend CCD after grade 5 in a Catholic school?”

    Yes. I attended and was confirmed. The drugs came later.

    “Did you really understand the Mass and the sacraments? Was there an appreciation of Catholic spirituality and prayer?”

    Yes. I understood very well what I believed. I married into a very catholic family. We would meet once a week to pray the rosary and I would pray the rosary on my own as well and attended mass, even daily at times. This continued for many years until I was 30 years old. I spent 10 years in the Catholic Church as an adult.

    “We are made temples of the Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation”

    If this were true then none of those outside of Catholicism could have the Holy Spirit. This is what I mean when I say that you change your interpretation from day to day. First you say you have unity with your brothers and sisters outside the church then you say that they do not have the Holy Spirit because we receive the Spirit through Sacraments.

    Can you show me where in the Bible anyone received the Holy Spirit through confirmation? Of course you cannot because the Bible says we receive the Holy Spirit when we believe not when we are confirmed or through any other unbiblical ritual. “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” – Acts 5:32. I did not receive the Spirit as I continued in obedience to the church in attending mass and holy days and confession and prayers and rosaries but I did receive His Spirit when I began trusting only in Christ and living a more Biblical faith.

    I do not hate the Catholic Church. Many in my family remain Catholic and I love them. I do hate unbiblical teachings, protestant or Catholic, that lead believers into bondage and away from the simplicity of Christ.

    FATHER JOE:

    One can go through the motions of faith and still not fully possess the substance. Faith can sour but oftentimes it is not what it should be. When those who should know Catholic faith give instead false summations and caricatures, I am made suspicious. We have many adult Catholics who struggle along with a grade school religious education.

    I would disagree with certain Protestant teachings, but I would not use the word “hate” in their regard. Despite your attestation, you do indeed hate the Catholic Church. How could you not when you image it as non-biblical and as a source for leading believers into “bondage.” Such false reasoning would make the Catholic Church into the pawn of Satan. Your attacks against the sacraments and the action of God in the Church are literally blasphemies against the Holy Spirit. Your words remind me of those who charged that Christ was in league with the devil, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons (Luke 11:15).”

    You make assertions, again and again, that just do not follow. I wrote that “we are made temples of the Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation,” and you jump to the conclusion that this would mean those outside the Church could not have the Holy Spirit. And yet, as I have written before, we accept the validity of baptism in many Protestant denominations. That means that many of the effects are also present. The problem is not duplicity in my explanations but that you do not really know what the Church teaches. God works where he wills and the Holy Spirit gives efficacy to the sacraments, inspiration to the Word and protection to the teaching authority of the Church. This does not mean that people outside the visible Catholic Church cannot invoke or be moved by the Holy Spirit.

    You write: “Can you show me where in the Bible anyone received the Holy Spirit through confirmation?”

    Confirmation is an element of our initiation originally immediately linked to baptism. While it is still one of the three sacraments on initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist), it is often delayed in the Western Church so that young people might affirm their baptismal faith. The confirmation anointing “confirms” their baptism. It can signify a maturing faith (Hebrews 6:2). When we baptize adults, we also confirm them and give them Holy Communion. While names for many Christian practices change and develop over time, there is mention of it in the following passages:

    Acts 8:14-17 – “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”

    Acts 9:17 – “So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’”

    Acts 19:1-8 – “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve of them in all.’”

    You were very presumptuous that I could make no response to your challenge of showing how the laying on of hands and anointing (signifying the reception of the Holy Spirit) was a biblical witness. The ritual of Confirmation is very biblical.

    Catholics obey Christ (this refers to faith and actions, dare I say works) and can count themselves recipients of the Holy Spirit as we find in Acts 5:32. If you did not receive or nurture that Spirit and God’s life within you, then it was your fault, not the Church’s. The forgiveness of sins in Confession, the re-presentation of Christ’s oblation and his Real Presence in the Eucharist, and an active prayer life should have brought you the boundless fruits of the Spirit of God. Can you really find Christ by rejecting Christ? Are you sure that the adversarial spirit which moves you to impugn the Catholic faith is really from God? As I said before, these words are meant as a defense against those who hate the Catholic Church. As for Protestants who disagree with us on some points, but respect us as fellow Christians, we acknowledge them as our separated brothers and sisters. We praise God for their love and faith in Jesus Christ. We eagerly seek to work with them in making our world a place where the justice and mercy of God is manifested.

  2. That was over 20 years ago now. As you can gather from my replies, I am no longer Catholic. You say that I have rejected Jesus because I have rejected Catholicism but I say that the Bible says, “All who call on the Name of the Lord will be saved” and, “whoever comes to Me I will in no way cast out.” The Bible does not teach Catholicism. The Bible teaches Jesus. It teaches salvation by grace through faith, apart from works, that none may boast. I am sorry for the long response and I will not bother you anymore.

    Russ

    FATHER JOE:

    Acts 2:;21 – Citing the Old Testament in reference to the Last Days, Peter says, “And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

    Romans 10:13 – We are told that God makes no distinction between Jew or Greek (Gentile). “For, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    Matthew 7:21 – Our Lord speaks about the fruits of our lived faith and the value of obedience and works of charity. We require a certain disposition before God. “Thus you will know them by their fruits,” (Matthew 7:20). The next verse offers an important corrective to help in our understanding of Peter and Paul. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

    You left the Church and the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. I did not say you utterly turned your face away from the Lord. But your faith was a great gift that you evidently did not understand or appreciate. I did not say that you were damned. The Bible is a Catholic book and teaches the true faith. Both the Bible and the Catholic Church come from Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus is the saving name and that we are to have faith in Christ. We are saved by grace alone, not by faith alone. The epistle of James emphasizes that the works of Christ in our lives in charity and obedience is an element of saving faith. You came here not to share and build but to detract and destroy. As I said before, these remarks are addressed to those who hate the Church and who attack her. We stand in solidarity and love with our Protestant brothers and sisters who have faith in Christ and live in peace with the Catholic community.

    Did you attend CCD after grade 5 in a Catholic school? Confirmation usually comes in 8th grade or later. If you were not living a Christian life, then you were not really eligible for the sacrament. Like so many Catholics these days, I have to wonder if you really understood and appreciated your faith. I am amazed that people with a grade-school appreciation of Catholicism believe they can sit in judgment upon the Church. In any case, drinking and drugs destroyed whatever faith formation that was attempted on your behalf.

    God can use even Hollywood movies to bring about his grace and the conversion of souls. We can all pray and ask for God’s forgiveness. We are made temples of the Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation; that presence can be accessed or activated by a healed disposition toward the divine.

    I never had the experience of using drugs and alcohol, but I also spent much time reading the Bible from the time I was a child to the present day. God’s Word is efficacious.

    Virtue can replace vice. This is the healing that many seek and receive in the Lord. Sharing Christ with others is the mission of the Church. Avoiding or rather, not being corrupted by bad companions is a further demonstration of a resolve to change one’s life.

    Of course, did you really understand the Mass and the sacraments? Was there an appreciation of Catholic spirituality and prayer? Making friends and playing guitar at Mass is great, but the Church offers a lot more “meat” than that.

    Even teachers of CCD sometimes only know what is in the children’s books. We are also called to know the faith as adults. Faith is so much more than the excitement of conversion and heightened emotions. These things pass. Helping to raise funds for parish operations and ministry is great, but I would not place any weight on gambling as a litmus test for Catholic piety and devotion.

    I was a personal fan of the late Baptist minister Jerry Falwell (Liberty Baptist) and the Dutch Reformed Robert Schuller (Hour of Power & Crystal Cathedral). However, that did not mean I believed everything they preached. Before you exposed yourself to non-Catholic voices, you should have insured that your faith was properly fed from your Catholic inheritance. I recognize the pattern of your defection. You are not the first poor Catholic who thought he knew enough to challenge the charges of those unsympathetic to Catholic claims. You could have found the peace you were seeking without leaving your spiritual home.

  3. Let me tell you a little about myself.

    I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school grades 1-5. I was confirmed as a teenager but in my teen years I began to party with my friends as many did in those days with drinking and drugs.

    During Easter week when I was twenty I happened to sit down in front of the TV. Someone had left it on and I was too lazy (no remotes in those days) to get up and change the channel. When the commercial ended and the movie returned it turned out to be one of those movies about the life of Jesus. Not only was the movie about Jesus but I had begun watching the scene where Jesus is carrying His cross through the streets of Jerusalem. I watched as they nailed Him to the cross and crucified Him. At that moment my life changed. I asked God to forgive me and immediately He flooded my heart with His Holy Spirit.

    Immediately I found my mother’s Bible (she died when I was 18) and I began reading through the New Testament. I had never read the Bible on my own but God flooded my heart with His presence as I would read through His word each day.

    God instantly removed all desire for the drugs and drinking that I was addicted to. I immediately began sharing Jesus with all of my friends. Needless to say they did not remain my friends for long because I was no longer interested in joining their parties.

    Because Catholicism was the only church I knew, I immediately began attending mass, confession, etc. I also joined the guitar choir where I made many friends including my wife of 27 years now.

    As the months and years passed I was not as faithful to read my Bible and my relationship with the Lord faded. I did not return to the life He saved me out of and I continued to attend mass, sometimes daily, but I was not as fervent in prayer or sharing the Lord with others as I had been initially. My joy was gone but life settled down, I was married in the Catholic Church, and life went on. Over time I continued to serve in music ministry, teaching CCD to high school kids and even calling bingo (for real!).

    One day as I was driving to work I happened on a religious program on the radio. I said to myself, “I am going to listen to these guys so the next time one of these wild-eyed fanatics approaches me on the street, I will know what they believe that I will be able to show them where they are wrong.” I disagreed with most of what they were saying but as I listened a strange thing began to happen. God began to flood my heart again as He had at first when I was reading the Bible. The more I listened the more His Spirit leapt for joy in my heart. I once again was drawn to prayer and to sharing my faith with others. My heart was on fire with His Spirit and I could hardly contain myself for the joy and peace and life that He was bringing into my life.

    Russ

  4. The commandment says: Honor thy mother and father. The Catholic church has broken that commandment. With incest to say a sister (mother) and the father (brother) is to – honor thy mother and father breaks that commandment. Would the Cathoic church then marry this mother and father (sister and brother)? Undoubtedly they are living in the same home – I assume in violation of church doctrine? Will the Catholic church pay for the medical, education and daily living of this child – should the mother (sister) may be 14 years of age? Or is it up to the rest of the Christians, Muslims and Jews, and catholics to provide federal and state funds, and organizations to provide care for this child, if not the mother (sister) and father (brother) are under age?

    FATHER JOE:

    Is this a spam post? Not only is it non-topical to the subject, it makes no logical sense. The most I can discover online is that Bob Washick is a bigot who delights in mindless rants against Catholicism. He objects to school crucifixes because he thinks it traumatizes Catholic school children and that they should not be exposed to the image of a man nailed to a cross. He slurs Mother Teresa despite the wonderful work she and her sisters have accomplished and opposed her commemorative U.S. stamp.

    The Catholic Church abides by the Decalogue and children should honor and obey their parents. Incest is a sin and the Church has laws that prevent marriage if the affinity or relationship of people is too close. As far as I can tell, all the major churches concur. His ramblings here are nonsensical gibberish.

    I suspect Washick is attacking the Church’s pro-life stand. He is probably arguing that in cases of incest the unborn baby should be destroyed since the parents are dishonorable. But the child is innocent and should not be punished for the sins of the parents.

    The Catholic Church operates and acts in partnership with many other organizations to provide for such children and to bring assistance and moral guidance to parents. While the remedies are often quite different or in opposition, both the Church and the State seek to further the welfare of our teens and children. This is the case, even when children are having children. It may be best that such a baby should be placed up for adoption. In the past, the State sometimes took legal action against the parents. The flip-side to the fourth commandment is that if children are to fully honor their parents, their parents should be honorable.

  5. Every scripture in this post is taken out of context. For example, Malachi 2:7 says,

    For the lips of a priest SHOULD keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

    But the next verse says,

    But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” Says the LORD of hosts.

    In other words, the priesthood failed.

    FATHER JOE:

    The citation is made of Malachi 2:7, not because it directly refers to Catholic priests and bishops but because it shows precedent for divinely appointed human authority over God’s people, in this instance the Jews. As for what follows, you can quote the whole book and yet the point was made with the single verse. Even our Lord chastised the established religious authorities of his time for hypocrisy and failure to teach as they should. If such was the case in the old dispensation then it follows that a teaching authority would be established for the new covenant as well. In our own day we also have renegades and those who break away from the authority and truth preserved in the Church by the Magisterium.

    But why would you quote from the Old Testament to when you are trying to exalt a New Testament priesthood? For good reason. There is no mention of any priesthood in the New Testament.

    FATHER JOE:

    I would argue that now your fundamentalism is really showing. Catholicism teaches that there is one high priest and that is Jesus Christ. The apostles were given degrees of his authority. Jesus instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper when he told his apostles to “do this in remembrance of me.” The connection between the Lord’s Supper and his passion and death on the Cross is made abundantly clear. Our Lord made his apostles into sharers of his one priesthood. The apostles appointed episcopoi (bishops) who in turn ordained presbyters (priests) and deacons. There may be variation in the names used for the appointed ministries but the reality and authority behind them remains the same. Your comment moves on to another topic, James Akin has an essay about this at:

    http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/ntpriest.htm

    Then you quote from Mathew 16:18

    And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

    But you fail to mention that the “rock” that Jesus is referring to is Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – not Peter himself. This is the rock that the church is built on – faith in Christ – not faith in any man.

    The word that Jesus uses for “rock”, petra in the Greek (G4073), is found 16 times in the New Testament. Not once does this word refer to Peter.

    FATHER JOE:

    No, you are quite wrong. The reference to ROCK is not to the confession but to the man. Proof of this is the fact that Simon’s name is changed to KEPHAS or ROCK or PETER. Jesus can make Peter into the ROCK because he, himself, is the foundation stone. Jesus extends something of himself to Peter. The Church speaks of Jesus as the invisible head of the Church and Peter (through his successors) as the visible head, the Pope. The word does indeed apply to Peter, but not the feminine declension of the word. The translation from Aramaic to Greek presented the problem. Jesus did not give Peter a woman’s name. Thus the alternative masculine word PETROS for stone or piece of rock is used.

    Then you quote Luke 10:16

    He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.

    But you fail to mention that Jesus was speaking to 70 of His followers whom He was sending before Him into the cities He planned to visit. As His followers went, they preached Christ, not a church. The Apostles never preached a church. They only preached Christ. This saying of Jesus applies then to anyone who preaches in His Name. If those who preach Christ are rejected, Jesus says it is He who is rejected – not the preacher – regardless of the person doing the preaching.

    The only point you prove is that you are quite capable of twisting the word of God to suit your own purposes.

    FATHER JOE:

    This brings us back to your initial objection. When Jesus spoke these words to the 72, there can be no doubt that his apostles were among them. The other disciples looked to them for guidance and support. There were already the makings of a hierarchical order even though the Church would not be formally instituted until Pentecost. Thus, the focus or gravity of Christ’s words would fall upon those closest to him and specially chosen.

    They are sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God. This kingdom breaks into our world, first through the person of Christ and later through his mystical body, the Church. There is no conflict, as you make out, between the two. Our Lord tells the apostles in John 13:20: “Amen, amen I say to you, he who receives the one I send, receives me; he who receives me, receives the One who sent me.” The constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium, also says that Luke 10:16 most appropriately applies to the twelve (see paragraphs 20 and 25).

    You are entitled to your opinion, but if you have only come here to cause mischief, then you are welcome to take your hat and coat and go.

  6. Father, I think the problem here in understanding goes back to how Catholics and Protestants tend to understand faith and relationship to Jesus. Protestants tend to see the person as either belonging to Christ or not. Catholics often see such things as matters of degree. Thus, Catholics can say that theirs is the true Church but still acknowledge the Christianity of Protestants because of elements of faith preserved after the break with Rome: baptism, most of the Bible, faith in Jesus and the Trinity, the forgiveness of sins in Christ, various moral teachings, etc. Similarly, Catholics believe that genuine faith can sour while certain Protestants might argue once saved, always saved. We see this matter of degree even in the Catholic view about sin, mortal and venial. All sin is a turning away from Christ; however, certain sins do not destroy one’s relationship with the Lord and more serious acts do.

    I suspect the non-Catholic reader is struggling with the notion of a fragmented or broken unity between certain faith communities and the Catholic Church and the precept that there is no salvation outside the Church.

    Does a fragmented unity save? How much does ignorance count? While God saves whom he wills, have they not handicapped themselves by failing to access all the sacraments and to place themselves directly under the apostolic authority instituted by Jesus Christ? Everything necessary for salvation is available in the Catholic Church. Other faith communities are, in a sense, handicapped to help their members as they should. But I would argue that individuals can still be touched by divine grace.

  7. But that is not what you said. You said,

    Luke 10:16: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

    You then went on to explain that protestants do not have ability to interpret scripture.

    I am sure that you can understand how a person would read this and conclude that the verse you quoted …he who rejects you (the Catholic Church) rejects me… must apply to protestants.

    One day you say that protestants reject Christ because we are not of your church. The next day you say we have fractured unity.

    It seems that your interpretation of Luke 10:16, which is the only correct interpretation, changes from day to day.

    FATHER JOE:

    Luke 10:16: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

    First, the interpretation is not mine but that of the Church. Second, there is no contradiction. Christ speaks through the Catholic Church. The Protestant reformers (like dissenters today) committed grievous wrong by breaking away from Catholic unity. One would reckon that the liability is less for those born into such faith communities. However, there is still a rejection of the fullness of truth that resides in the true Church. Some turn away from Christ completely while others only partially. They may not even be fully aware of the situation. There are a number of poor people today who have a counterfeit faith and follow a false Christ. As for biblical interpretation, Protestants neither have an infallible Magisterium nor claim one.

    The text would apply in the highest degree to anti-Catholics. As for Protestants generally, the separation from the sacramental life and particularly the Eucharist is a notable rejection of Jesus. However, as I said, such a situation may be incomplete and not fully realized.

    Fractured unity does indeed represent a distancing (or even a turning away) from Christ who instituted the Church and empowered the apostles and their successors. There is no osculating interpretation on my part regarding Luke 10:16.

  8. Does the Holy Spirit use protestants in bringing some to salvation or does He only use those within Catholicism?

    FATHER JOE: God is witnessed and proclaimed by all his children. While these current posts are apologetic in style, the Catholic Church acknowledges the baptism and faith of Protestant Christians. While unity is incomplete and fractured, there is still a bond among those who love and seek to serve the true God. Catholics and Protestants alike can love and have faith in Jesus. We can all be used by God as his instruments.

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