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Polemic Exchange Against Anti-Catholicism

This is a continuation of a discussion from a previous post:

The Catholic Church, Salvation & Peter

DENNIS:

You tell me I assume many things. What about you? You assume I undermined my wife’s faith. You assume her faith is weak when she has more faith than anyone. You assume that I am delighted my daughter has been stolen from the church… WRONG! AND BESIDES, SHE IS HERE TO FOLLOW CHRIST not the church. I will never believe in purgatory no matter what your arguments. If Peter were pope, which I don’t believe, then his successors should have been married like him. Perhaps then all this sick disgusting behavior would never have occurred. I will say no more but I never personally attacked you, like you have me. Some of your responses to others seem almost hateful. Trust me I have done plenty of researching to draw the conclusions that I have. Stop thinking you are the only one with truths! Thanks for your time.

FATHER JOE:

Your assumptions about Catholicism are not coherently argued. You are working from a prejudiced view of the faith, not as one who is truly informed.

As for myself, mine is a faith seeking understanding. Catholics do not accept a blind faith that is at war with reason. We seek to know the truth from all the pertinent sources: the authority of the Church, the Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Tradition, philosophical and theological inquiry, dialoguing with other disciplines of learning, etc.

If your wife abandoned her religion in light of your postured conversion, it is only reasonable to assume that you undermined her Catholic faith. Indeed, you take delight that you have had a part in your family’s defection. I am sorry if you think I am rude but I find what you did to be reprehensible and dishonest.

Catholics regard our relationship with Jesus Christ to be intimately bound to our union with the Church. Our Lord makes himself and his saving activity present through the sacraments of the Church. Defection from the faith means a certain level of estrangement from our Lord, although as in your wife’s case, it might not be absolute. Only God is the ultimate judge as to whether such actions will cost people their salvation.

Peter was the first pope, although the title was only used later. Being married or not married is beside the point. You would condemn celibate priests as well as chaste single people. Not everyone gets married. Some choose not to do so, like Catholic clergy, and others never meet the person with whom they want to settle down. Our Lord Jesus never married. The beloved apostle John never married. St. Paul never married. The pope’s line of apostolic succession runs from both St. Peter and St. Paul, although the universal primacy passes down from St. Peter. You equate not being married with perversion and child predators. You are a very sick and bigoted man. Why are you so angry? Why would you condemn the virginity of the pope and so many priests? Yes, there have been a few criminals, but there are many of these among married men, too— even Protestant ministers.

I have not sought to be hateful, only truthful. Your allegations are in themselves of the most vulgar sort. It is hard to make proper responses to such bigoted allegations and ignorance. I suppose you would judge any response, as hateful. Part of the problem may be that you have neither the intellectual nor the spiritual tools to discuss such matters calmly and reasonably. That is one of the reasons why I suggested that you contact your local priest and maybe enter the continuing religious formation program. You should at least understand what you are rejecting.

Research has to go further than Chick comics and the ravings of anti-Catholic apologists who hate the Church. If you have nothing to fear, then go to the source… and speak and act with humility.

DENNIS:

I would love to talk to you personally and see if you would call me such things to my face. God have mercy on you for being so judgmental and hateful.

FATHER JOE:

You are upset with me? Listen, you come to “my” blog and assert the following:

1. You bluntly stated that Purgatory is a myth.
2. You illogically argued that Peter was Jewish and thus could not be Pope.
3. You ridiculed the Catholic Church as placing symbolism over substance.
4. You mocked the Pope, saying his title “HOLY Father” is a joke.
5. You fall for the fundamentalist lie that the Pope is the antichrist.
6. You joined the Catholic Church to marry your wife but never believed in what it taught (where is integrity?).
7. You taught your wife and daughter that the Church was evil and so they defected with you.
8. You will never believe in Purgatory no matter what sensible arguments I and others might make.

Either on the Internet or at my door, I would tell you the same. I am not being mean to you, only truthful. Sorry if the truth hurts.

DENNIS:

It is not the truth that hurts, what hurts are the many lies the Catholic church has told. I am glad I found out in time. Find out about things that go on inside the Vatican. A statue of Buddha was placed on an altar. They gave those of the wiccan faith a room to worship. The use of the papal upside down cross is satanic. I only want to leave a church. I am not leaving CHRIST. It is only HIS grace that can save us. The church was not built on Peter but Christ. “The Rock the builders rejected became the cornerstone.”

Jesus told the criminal on the cross, “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus did not say anything about purgatory. I asked a priest about this and basically he said he defied the odds. I only laughed at this.

Only Jesus is HOLY, not the pope.

Praying with people who practice witchcraft, worship Buddha, making the Nazi sign with Hitler, kissing the Quran— are these not signs of antichrist?

I married my wife because of love. Since then we have learned that the many things the church teaches are lies. Have you never believed something at one time and then found out it was not what you thought?

You state that I taught my wife and daughter these things. My daughter learned many of these things at university here in Canada. We still believe STRONGLY in JESUS CHRIST.

My non-belief in purgatory has nothing to do with salvation. It is only by GOD’S GRACE that we are saved. Acceptance of CHRIST as your savior is the only way to eternal life.

The catholic church has collected plenty of money over the years for saying masses for “SOULS IN PURGATORY.” If there is no purgatory this money will be a testimony against it at the time of judgment. Great pastors and preachers like BILLY GRAHAM, DAVID JEREMIAH, CHARLES STANLEY, and I could name many more, is hardly a list of wackos who do not preach about or believe in purgatory. So the truth does not hurt at all; it sets one free!

FATHER JOE:

Say what you like, you are still running away from the truth (about yourself). I am a Catholic priest, but while convinced of the Church’s claims, I have studied the writings of the Reformers directly and as objectively as possible. I disagree with many of the views of the Protestant churches, but I have never pretended to be a Protestant. I would also not want to build my Church up by tearing down the religious beliefs of others. Christians of various denominations can find points of concurrence and work together for a more loving and just society. Not all non-Catholics are anti-Catholics. But you would fit the profile of a bigot against the Catholic Church. You classify Church teachings as lies. You even gloat about your prejudice. And, like so many of your ilk, you get basic facts wrong.

Someone wrongly placed a small Buddha statue on an altar during the Assisi Ecumenical Conference (not Vatican) back in 1986. Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) was furious about the mistake.

I have no idea what the Wiccan reference is about. Such paganism is in direct conflict with Catholic teaching and worship. Indeed, several years ago there was an incident where Wiccans insisted on using a military chapel for their services. The U.S. Government cannot play favorites regarding the faith practices of uniformed men and women. The military code of conduct required that the Wiccans keep their clothes on. Afterwards, the Catholic priest and several Protestant ministers offered prayers and ritual to spiritually exorcise or cleanse the room and altar-table.

The so-called upside down cross is not satanic. It is the ancient symbol for the first pope, Peter. Tradition has it that he was crucified upon an inverted cross. He requested it, not feeling worthy to die like his Lord.

I cannot know your conscience, and only God can judge you, but in my estimation, defection from the Church is a departure from Christ.

Christ is indeed the cornerstone of the Church, but Peter remains KEPHAS or ROCK. Jesus says he will build his Church upon him and after his resurrection, he heals him with the threefold admonition to his question, “Do you love me?” Jesus says: FEED MY LAMBS; TAKE CARE OF MY SHEEP; and FEED MY SHEEP.

As for purgatory and the good thief, you are being silly. Temporal punishment can be remitted by earthly penance and endurance of suffering. Given that he had faith in our Lord and was repentant, dying on a cross next to Jesus must assuredly count for something. Our Lord promises a place with him in paradise. As for ourselves, even if we must pass through purgation, we are also promised a place in his mansion of joy.

All holiness belongs properly to God. But God can extend his presence and make us saints. We can be transformed by the mysterious holiness of God. We can apply the word HOLY to the pope and to all who have a share in the eternal life of Christ.

You fault the Church for an errant ecumenism which the universal Church and Pope Benedict would not condone. Each can worship as his conscience dictates, but we would not blend the Christian dispensation into a mix with those outside the Judeo-Christian tradition. There can be separate acts of prayer, communal dialogue and debate, a cooperative exploration of the truth and a partnership in making a better world. But Catholics do not practice witchcraft, worship Buddha or any of the Hindu deities. National Socialism, along with Communism, was condemned by the popes, even prior to World War II. You hate the late pope for kissing a Koran as a sign of human respect to the one billion plus Moslems in the world, well, then so be it. But you are chasing ghosts because everyone knows that the pope places his faith in Jesus and not in Islam or Mohammad. Indeed, when Pope Benedict XVI urged Moslems to disavow violence as a means to bring about conversion, millions chanted, “Kill the Pope!” It seems that you might have more in common with these fanatics than the Holy Father. If the pope is truly the Vicar of Christ and you oppose and ridicule him, would this not make you an antichrist?

I am glad you married your wife because of love. I became a priest because of love. However, I always tried to act honestly and from conviction. My entire life is dedicated to God’s service, loving God by ministering to his people. While a teacher, I am also a perpetual student. We can disagree about various points, but I do not see lies. As a matter of fact, I would not accuse Protestant churches of lies, either. There are many good Protestant churchmen who study and teach and work with honesty and professionalism. You would not extend such courtesy to the Pope or to a lowly priest and pastor like me.

I am glad you still believe strongly in Jesus Christ. That may be the one element we share. The doctrine of purgatory is a facet of soteriology. We must be made perfect. The elect want to be made perfect. Everything is grace. We are redeemed, given faith and perfected by grace. We cannot save ourselves. Prayers for the dead are literally our way of adding our breath to that divine fire which purifies us like the gold in the furnace. In the end there will only be two realities, heaven and hell. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. There is no other way to the Father. This is basic Catholic teaching 101.

The stipends for Masses are gifts to the priest. At one time they were the only resources he had to live upon. But the priest will apply the fruits of his Mass even without remuneration for the effort. Ultimately, the sacraments are free. The priest is duty-bound to pray for his people, living and dead. It will be upon that, that he will be judged.

I can give you a long list of popes, bishops, priests, deacons and laity who accept and teach about purgatory. Looking at your list, did you know that Billy Graham has said that the Catholic Gospel is the same as his? Did you know that he contacts the local Catholic churches when he does revivals and sends Catholics who answer the altar call to Catholic churches? Did you know that he has shared his pulpit with Catholic clergy? Evidently he does not see the doctrine of purgatory as an impediment in witnessing the faith alongside Catholics. Do you really think that your venom would please him? I would not be surprised that you turn on him now, like so many other Fundamentalist bigots have chosen to do.

Sometimes the truth does hurt. You say it does not. But that is the problem, it is supposed to hurt. The freedom that we know demanded the great “hurt” of the Cross. Our Lord invites us to take up our crosses and follow him.

DENNIS:

I can no longer see any point in discussing things with someone who continues to assume so much about me.

FATHER JOE:

I assume nothing; you come out and reveal what you are about to us all.

DENNIS:

As for BILLY GRAHAM sharing the pulpit with catholics does not mean he believes in purgatory.

FATHER JOE:

But it does mean that he sees no problem with such a belief and views Catholicism as a saving Christian faith.

DENNIS:

By accepting JESUS as our savior he enters us and lives HIS life through us.

FATHER JOE:

Actually, by accepting Jesus we enter into his life and are transformed. There is a two-fold movement. We accept the redemptive intervention of Christ. We believe in the infusion of divine grace. We believe that Jesus enters us through the gift of Holy Communion. Jesus became a man (coming to us) that we might have a share in his divine and eternal life (entering into the divine mystery). You do not believe in such a transformation or becoming a new creation in Christ. Those who reject purgatory tend to subscribe to the old Lutheran view of juridical imputation. This has been labeled by one critic as salvation by disguise. We must enter into and make our own the mystery of Christ. Christianity is an incarnational religion. Christ lives in us. We must give birth to Christ’s presence, proclamation and activity through our lives.

DENNIS:

We are cleansed by the blood he shed for us.

FATHER JOE:

His blood makes possible the remission of sins.

DENNIS:

But basically you are saying that is not enough and that we need purgatory.

FATHER JOE:

No, you are saying that, Catholic teaching sees no conflict in the redemptive work of Jesus with purgatory. Our Lord makes possible our approach to God and our entry into heaven. We must still participate and accept his gift. Souls that belong to God but are not yet perfected, endure purgation as they approach heaven. Not all souls pass through purgatory.

DENNIS:

Purgatory therefore is a higher trump card than CHRIST.

FATHER JOE:

Purgatory is no trump card at all. Souls that pass through purgation are all headed toward heaven.

DENNIS:

As for the pope he is the head of the catholic church, not all Christianity.

FATHER JOE:

The Catholic Church is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. All true Christians are in some fashion, even if tenuously, attached to this Church. In that sense, Catholicism is the purest form and the true Christianity.

DENNIS:

As for calling me silly about the criminals, fine if you want to resort to name calling. But this is an issue I have prayed about and this is where God directed me. But as you have little respect for me you probably won’t believe me.

FATHER JOE:

What you said was silly. And please be honest, you never had any respect for me from the very beginning. How could you, since you regard the pope as the antichrist and me as one of his minions. What do I think about you personally? I do not think I actually shared much of anything about that, except for a deep disappointment. You pray, and that is good. Prayer is certainly positive. But remember the posture of humility and the need to feed your faith with truth.

DENNIS:

Also I will repeat that just because I don’t want to attend the catholic church anymore does not mean a defection from Christ.

FATHER JOE:

Only you can know this in your own conscience. As for me, any departure from the Church would constitute turning my back on Jesus.

DENNIS:

Also, I will credit you with teaching what you believe. It is just that I do not believe some of the catholic teachings and have moved on.

FATHER JOE:

That is fine. But remember, this is my blog. I have a right to express my faith here. I also get the last word.

DENNIS:

You say yourself there are only two realities, heaven and hell. I guess with purgatory no one will see hell.

FATHER JOE:

Why would you say this? The existence of hell is also Catholic doctrine. Once again, here is a statement that proves to me that you really do not understand Catholic teaching. Traditional Catholic eschatology is very clear. Some souls go straight to heaven (forever). Some souls go straight to hell (forever). Some souls go to heaven but pass through purgation (so that they can be perfect in heaven). Souls in purgatory have been forgiven. Like those in heaven, they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. All souls in purgatory will go to heaven. When the end comes and the final consummation, there will be two realities, heaven and hell. Purgatory will cease to exist.

DENNIS:

Again thanks for your time, and the many things that you have assumed about me which certainly don’t demonstrate love. To call someone a bigot is HORRIBLE. I would never refer to someone this way even if I thought that about them.

FATHER JOE:

You cannot have it both ways. You insult the pope as the antichrist and imply that Catholicism is involved with witchcraft and false religion. I am a priest; mock and malign the pope and the Church and you impugn me as well. I call it as I see it. I speak the hard truth in love. Yes, Dennis you are an anti-Catholic bigot. You might love Jesus but you have amply shown that you hate his Church. I am spiritually married to that Church and have given up wife and family to serve God with a single-hearted love. You probably feel that I have wasted my life. You have no love and no desire for priests or the sacrifice of the Mass in your life. I became a priest to offer the Mass for the living and the dead. I became a priest, so that like St. Paul, who was an ambassador for Christ and a minister of reconciliation, that I might bring our Lord’s forgiveness of sins to the lives of God’s people. This is not my job. This is my identity and vocation. But I guess I am talking to the wind. You are too far gone to understand. As you said, you have moved on. I will pray for you. Maybe one day you will wake up, and even if you do not come home to the Church, maybe you will again see that good Catholics are your Christian brothers and sisters? Enough said!

DEE:

Wrong! Jesus did not establish the Catholic Church. Read your history. The Catholic Church was established by the Pagan Sun Worshiper, Emperor Constantine, in 313 AD.

FATHER JOE:

I would not regard bigoted Jack Chick tracts to be a real or reliable portrayal and history of Catholicism. Would you say that people who like basketball are sun-worshippers for using a round ball? An image of the Holy Spirit as a dove surrounded by colorful stained-glass at St. Peter’s in Rome is hardly a pagan symbol! The Church uses many symbols and these are often misinterpreted (intentionally) by anti-Catholics. Catholics do not worship the sun but rather the one who created the sun. Read reliable history… the Catholic Church was instituted by Jesus Christ. After centuries of persecution and the blood of the Catholic martyrs, the Emperor Constantine made Christianity a lawful religion of the empire.

FABIOLE:

Wonderful discussion, Father Joe, your arguments are so clear that I believe in time those bigots could and will shed their anti-Catholic lenses. It’s a shame that one bad word against Blacks, Jews and Homosexuals would have the courts and others at one’s doorstep. But calling the Catholic names gets a pass. It’s no wonder that only intellectual Protestants convert to the true Church. One main reason is that they can read. We must pray for them so that they can see the truth and not be led by their anti-Catholic leaders who spit out hateful, unchristian and vile messages. They should practice what they preach and not spread hateful and untrue messages to their tiny flocks. Study the history of the Christian church, not from the 1500’s but back to the early Fathers of the Church! Clearly, many of the anti-Catholic participants to the discussion do not realize that the Bible was not put together until the third or fourth century. Also there is nothing in the Bible that supports Sola Scriptura or the Bible Alone.

12 Responses

  1. We believe the Bible, comprised of the Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

    FATHER JOE: Catholics also believe that the Bible is God’s Word. Matthew 5:18 is about the law, not the Scriptures as such. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 does indeed speak about the efficacy of Scripture as God’s Word; however, at the time of this writing the Scriptures were essentially the Old Testament as the New had yet to be entirely composed or collected. The oral proclamation or the teaching of the Church, the first stirrings of Church authority and tradition, were molding a people and what would become the Bible familiar to believers, today.

    In faith we hold the Bible to be inerrant in the original writings, God-breathed, and the complete and final authority for faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

    FATHER JOE: Catholics may understand inerrancy different from fundamentalists, given that the Bible is not a science book; however, it does give us salvation truth. Such truths must be understood as the Church understands them, i.e., the Magisterium. However, Catholicism would insist that the Bible is not self-interpretive. Revelation is not “sola scriptura” either. There are two fonts of revelation: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

    While still using the individual writing styles of the human authors, the Holy Spirit perfectly guided them to ensure they wrote precisely what He wanted written, without error or omission (2 Peter 1:21).

    FATHER JOE: Yes, the Bible is both the words of men and the inspired WORD of God. 2 Peter 1:19-21 has the apostle testifying to how the Holy Spirit inspired the oral Gospel and their teachings. That Holy Spirit still protects the successors of the apostles: “Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.”

  2. SANDRA: Here to support Dennis and to (hopefully) bring some truth to Catholics.

    FATHER JOE: There is already plenty of truth here from Catholics. If you side with Dennis, then you are a companion in bigotry and ignorance.

    SANDRA: I cannot be labeled as uninformed as I have spent a few years studying Catholicism which included directly from Catholics and ex-Catholics themselves.

    FATHER JOE: Actually, a lot depends on your sources. Studying books poisoned against the truth will not bring spiritual health but death. How many Catholic priests have you sought to discuss matters of faith? Many Catholics try to get by with a grammar school education in faith; that would hardly make them reliable authorities. As for ex-Catholics, sharing ignorance still only leaves you with ignorance. Many ex-Catholics fall away because of marriage issues and because they are angry with the Church about something. You need to seek out people who are sympathetic and truly informed and able to communicate Catholic beliefs. In that spirit, welcome to my blog; but I suspect that you have come not for an honest discussion but for a fundamentalist act of religious online terrorism. You want to drop bombs and then slip away. There is not much personal integrity in that.

    SANDRA: I’m sorry to say that Catholics actually do accept a blind faith since their sources for seeking the truth are false.

    FATHER JOE: Catholic sources for religious truth are quite reliable. Fundamentalist non-Catholic Protestants must refer to a bible that is not of their making but transmitted to them by the Catholic Church. Meanwhile they have severed themselves from other important components in the sources of revelation: Sacred Tradition and the interpretive authority of the Magisterium. The Holy Spirit inspires God’s Word, is alive in the life and witness of the Church and safeguards the gift of infallibility given to its teaching authority— the papacy, the bishops in union with him and ecumenical councils.

    SANDRA: In the first place, Peter was never a pope, that was made up by the Catholic church. That is according to the Bible, which is the Truth.

    FATHER JOE: The authority given to Peter and to his successors is very clearly laid out in Scripture (Matthew 16:16-19; John 21:2-17). Proof of succession is shown by a papal letter older than the last book of the New Testament, Clement of Rome’s first Letter to the Corinthians written around 96 AD: “The church of God which sojourns at Rome to the church of God which sojourns at Corinth … But if any disobey the words spoken by him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger” (1,59:1). Clement was a successor of Peter!

    SANDRA: As I have found with other Catholics defending their faith, you, Joe, do not have love. Your name-calling and bitterness only show that you do not follow Jesus. You are defensive and your arguments are only what you have been blindly taught.

    FATHER JOE: Excuse me, this is my blog and you are the interloper showing disrespect. Have you stayed up all night in shelters for the homeless? Have you helped to educate children suffering from mental disabilities? Have you counseled those attempting suicide? Have you ministered and touched those in hospice care dying from AIDs complications? Have you tutored children in reading at the local Boy’s Club? Have you marched for the unborn and consoled mothers who grieve over making the wrong choice? Have you spent time and given counsel to people suffering from mental health issues? Have yu given up spouse and family to serve God whole heartedly by caring for the spiritual needs of his flock? You are only upset because I will give no ground to deception, bigotry and ignorance. I am naturally defensive against the wolf that comes to prey upon the sheep; but your miscalculation is serious if you think I have accepted anything blindly. My eyes are wide open.

    SANDRA: I agree with Dennis. According to God’s Word, 1. Purgatory is a myth.

    FATHER JOE: Second Maccabees gives proof from the Old Testament that the Jews believed in atonement or the efficacy of prayer for the dead. Christians understood this practice in terms of the perfection required for heaven and the redemptive work of Jesus. God finishes what he starts. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” On our way to heaven we pass through purgation. The souls of purgatory are all destined for the joys of heaven. Purgatory is not a myth; it is a manifestation of divine mercy.

    SANDRA: 2. Peter was not a pope.

    FATHER JOE: I have already given citations to back up this claim for those who are successors of St. Peter. Our Lord did not establish and then abandon the Church. He gave men something of his authority. The word “pope” would develop over time, as a sentiment of his role as a spiritual father (papa) to the universal community of faith.

    SANDRA: 3. Definitely the Catholic Church is all about symbolism.

    FATHER JOE: Sacraments are signs instituted by Christ to give grace. The Eucharist is signifies that to which it points, the real presence of Christ. The symbolism has meaning. It is a way of communicating, just as with words, but sometimes far more evocative. We are moved by the sight of the crucifix or cross. A statue of Mary brings home her motherhood to us. The holy water in the fonts reminds us of our baptismal promises. The altar speaks to us of a meal and of sacrifice. There is nothing wrong with symbolism and ritual. The Jews had theirs and Christians (Catholics) have their own.

    SANDRA: 4. Holy Father is not a joke, it is blasphemy.

    FATHER JOE: The role of the Pope as Christ’s Vicar takes nothing away from our Father Most Holy, God. There is no blasphemy, at least not as you view it. If there is blasphemy then it is yours! How is that? If the Pope is indeed the successor of Peter and the Holy Spirit safeguards his teachings in faith and morals; then your bigoted criticism is a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

    SANDRA: 5. Yes, the pope could very well be the antichrist.

    FATHER JOE: Calling the Pope by this slur is much the same as the critics of our Lord saying that he healed, performed miracles, and exorcised demons by the power of Beelzebul (the devil). Christ gave Peter his authority and it is a serious sin to label it as diabolical.

    SANDRA: 6. Yes, too bad about joining the Catholic Church for any reason, but at least the end result was for Christ.

    FATHER JOE: We are called to both a personal and corporate relationship with Jesus Christ. Bigotry and hatred of Catholicism is quickly translated as an adversarial relationship with the Lord. One cannot say that he or she loves the head but hates the body (see Colossians 1:18). The Church is Christ’s Mystical Body. When speaking of the apostolic leadership and the Church, our Lord was clear. Matthew 10:40: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.”

    SANDRA: 7. Thank God Dennis’ wife and child came to their senses. 8. Back to #1. Catholic Church teachings ARE lies.

    FATHER JOE: The Church’s teachings are expressions of the deposit of faith passed down in history. Public revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. But the Church has been authorized to transmit and interpret these truths to each and every generation. The deceit and bigotry is yours.

    SANDRA: Interesting that a cardinal would be upset about a Buddha on an altar when the pope now promotes a one world religion.

    FATHER JOE: The silliness and ignorance that come out of your mouth will only bring rebuke upon you. There is already one true world religion and that is Catholic Christianity. Ecumenism seeks understanding, social cooperation and peace between the various religions. However, the Catholic Church rejects any type of religious indifferentism and syncretism. Abuses do not signify Catholic practice and/or teaching. The late Pope John Paul II spoke about Buddhism as a religious variant of atheism.

    SANDRA: Defection from the Catholic Church is not departure from Christ, it is actually a movement towards Him. His salvation is not in a church.

    FATHER JOE: The Catholic Church is the great sacrament or mystery of encounter with Christ. It is for this reason that none are saved apart from Christ and his Church. It is the Catholic Church and no mere denomination that saves us. Those who embrace the redemptive work of Christ also become members of his Church. The King James Version of the Bible says as much: “Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). Our Lord bought us at the price of his blood. He establishes a new People of God. You would argue that the Church is inconsequential, but the Word of God says something entirely different: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28 KJV). You can no more be saved apart from the Church than you can be saved without the blood of Christ. One of the strongest testimonies for the importance of the Church is Ephesians 5:23-32 (again the KJV): “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

    SANDRA: What does Jesus heal Peter from with his threefold question?

    FATHER JOE: Peter is healed from the spiritual wound of denying Christ three times. Our Lord restores to him his special ministry as the keeper of the keys. He will be the apostle and chief shepherd of the universal Church. Our Lord tells him to care for the Church, feeding and watching after his flock.

    SANDRA: All Christians are saints, therefore holy.

    FATHER JOE: The Christian community during biblical times were called “saints,” but over time this term was reserved to those who had run the race and had received their crown from Christ. Especially in the face of defections and betrayals during the persecution of the Church by the pagan Roman emperors, we see this transition. Some who had faith, allowed it to sour. The Church has never bought the notion, “once saved, always saved,” although baptism cannot be repeated. We live in the hope of our salvation. We are all called to holiness and spiritual perfection. However, then and now, Christians are not always everything they are supposed to be.

    SANDRA: You know I don’t see the benefit in spending energy on saying what cult figures the Catholic Church does not worship. It worships idols of its own, so really, what’s the difference?

    FATHER JOE: We are not iconoclasts. We venerate sacred objects but we do not worship idols. Images represent holy personages. All divine worship and adoration is directed to God. God is always the proper object of Catholic prayer.

    SANDRA: We will all be made perfect when we reach heaven. It’s all up to Jesus; we cannot be so arrogant as to think we can contribute to anyone’s ‘perfectness’.

    FATHER JOE: We are not so arrogant, but you may be for this presumption against us. We can certainly help in disposing ourselves to faith and God’s saving action. That is one of the purposes of Christian witness and education. Traditional Lutheran and Protestant theology does not speak about perfection as an interior change but as a juridical imputation. Catholics believe that there must be a true metanoia or conversion, an interior transformation. This growing in spiritual perfection and holiness is the work of God. We are changed and made holy, not so much through our efforts, but through the ineffable grace of God. We believe that God works in us here on earth and if necessary even as we make our purgatorial passage from this world to the promised shore.

    SANDRA: So what about Billy Graham’s condoning Catholics? Anyone can be wrong.

    FATHER JOE: Anyone? Then you admit that you might be wrong in your attacks against Catholicism? I suspect that you really mean everyone but you.

    SANDRA: Bottom line – read the Bible. There is the Truth that the Catholic Church has tried to keep from its followers. Jesus is the only way to salvation. That’s it.

    FATHER JOE: Sandra, where do you get such foolish talk? Catholic churches have regular bible study and the Mass itself is Scripture from beginning to end. On Sundays we regularly read from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament (epistles) and the Gospels. We preach on the Word of God and list the weekly Mass readings for those who those who want to follow along in their bibles at home or work. I have given away hundreds and hundreds of bibles. The breviary or prayer book of clergy is filled with Scriptures and we daily pray the psalms (the basic prayers for Jews in the time of Jesus). You offer false testimony and witness against the Catholic Church. I will pray that God will forgive you your arrogance and soften your hardened heart.

  3. Father Joe, the Catholic Church is still lacking persons like you. Who can stand to defend the Catholic Faith. I am not a priest but I personally studied over and over different books about the Catholic Faith, Protestants, Pentecostals, Bhuddaism, Sikhism, Islamic as well as Hunduism.

    But I find one truth that the Holy Church on Earth was established on the Rock which is Peter. And this Church is the Catholic Church, I totally believe that this church is holy because of its teachings. It’s teachings are clearly defined and explained.

    It was Jesus himself who established the Church. I would rather like these people like Dennis to rethink carefully on what the urge. Dennis is one of the Anti-Christ, Anti-Christs are against the Holy Church, because Satan can not achieve his desires of destroying the Christian Community without using sush people like Dennis.

    Just think of Dennis who joined a Catholic Church with the sake of marrying a beautiful lady and later persued her to leave the Catholic Belief. I can say that Dennis is an agent of the Devil who wants to mislead the Sons and Daughters of God Yahweh, The Creator.

    I am at this point of encouraging my fellow Catholics to wake up!

    What people and Dennis must know is that on Earth there is only One Holy Church (One Family or One Community of God), we have One God, that is Yahweh the Creator, we have One Mother that is Mary the Mother of Jesus and all persons who believe in Jesus Christ, we have One Saviour that Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God and we have also One Holy Spirit that is the Divine Power of God Yahweh and One Church that is the Holy Catholic.

    Look Dennis, you can think I am well educated than you. All what I did is only Secondary School (form 4 or Grade 12) due to lack of education support materially and financially. But I feel I am better off than you to reason and see what was put in the Catholic Faith.

    Dennis do not confuse others and yourself. Jesus established only One Church on Earth and the Church is the Catholic. The Catholic Church possesses all the Divine Powers, the Authority and many that we can talk about Christianity.

    Dennis, I would say [not that] I hate you, but I love, I wish you if you would go back to Catholic Church because you like the Lost Son that Jesus Christ said in his Parable.

    To Father Joe, I pray to God Yahweh, the Creator to bless you.

  4. When Jesus told Peter to put away his sword(drawn for immediate self defense) that was before he accomplished his mission(his humankind redeeming death) .We are told to turn the other cheek during a one on one confrontation. I do think love can be accomplished (in a group setting) defending the weak. How can there be spiritual warfare(as saint Paul talks to) without it’s physical compliment. I am not one to judge where that physical warfare should take place. The powers that be can only do almighty Jesus’s will. This is a vital question, this vexing topic. Thanks for letting me vent. Peace Father Joe

  5. Father Joe, while i admire your decision and dedication to help people, i must say that i dont trust the church hierarchy. I feel that although they say they are doing God’s work their real agenda is self preservation. This agenda seems to surface quite frequently as we look through history. From the very compilation of the bible by Constantine the Great, after which it became “OK” to kill, murder, and or burn at the stake any pagan or heretic who disagreed with catholic dogma. Interestingly this was done in the name of Jesus, who practiced non- violence and love to the point of his own death!

    In the middle ages when it was no longer allowed for men to married and to be priests, but it was ok to sell indulgences. And most recently with the Priest scandal. Their approach was to move abusive priest around to new unsuspecting parishes under the full direction and awareness of local bishops, cardinals and administrative clergy. What a disgrace! And their most recent approach is ” A Prayer for Vocations” are you kidding me? How about if we fix the problem first by addressing and fixing the selection process! If it acts like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, and if it looks like a duck… well you know the drill.

    Father Joe, we need good people, clergy and non clergy alike to fight for what is right and to push God’s Agenda. peace

    FATHER JOE:

    Actually, the early Christians were largely pacifists. While Constantine was not directly responsible for the formulation of the Bible, it is true that believers took up arms to support him in his claim for the throne. However, given the imperial persecutions, it was an effort to end the wholesale martyrdom of Christians. People have a right to self-defense. Constantine would end the persecution of Christians and make Catholicism a legal religion of the empire. He, himself, did not convert to Christianity until the end of his life. The history of violence did not begin with the Church and given our fallen nature, we will find sinners among both the clergy and laity. Such is the human condition. However, the preferred punishment for heretical teachers (usually bishops) and sometimes for orthodox ones was separation or exile. Although not always effective, both Rome and later the states which formed from the breakup of the empire used religion as the glue to keep harmony and unity. The various civil inquisitions were more operations of these countries than of the Church. Indeed, most authorities admit that heretics were treated the lightest in Rome where the Pope still had political clout. As an instance, the hierarchy appealed for an end to the bloodshed from the Spanish inquisitors and the government responded by arresting Catholic clergymen. While churchmen throughout history are not blameless, and I am mindful of the late Pope John Paul II’s apologias in preparation for the new millennium, the true legacy of the Church and of her leadership is one of heroic saints and inspiring faith. Today, the Church’s hierarchy is under political and fiscal attack for their Right to Life stand against abortion and the use of capital punishment (in a culture of death). They have even taken hard positions regarding the capricious use of military force. I would really suggest that you make a more full study of history and read Catholic teachings on human rights and the freedom of conscience.

    God will sustain the Church but we are all made stewards in advancing the Gospel and in building up our little part of the family of God. Scandal and abuse are things that we would rightly seek to avoid. We do not want to contribute either to the material or spiritual corruption of others. Some bishops apparently made mistakes about disclosure and the treatment of situations where people were at risk from sick men. The emphasis should have been upon protecting God’s people. The various new policies in place are an attempt to rectify the situation. What makes everything more problematical is that as amends are made and we reach out to the wounded, the Church’s enemies take advantage of the situation to plunder and destroy.

    The Church has always had celibate clergy and by 1123 (First Lateran Council) it was affirmed as mandatory in the West. Any attempted marriages were then by law judged as invalid. But with reservations (bishops), married clergy continued to exist in the Eastern Catholic churches as an option. Today, we have a few married priests (largely Anglican converts), and thousands of married deacons (also Catholic clergy) in our ranks. There is nothing wrong with celibacy. The problem priests in the news broke their promise of celibacy. We should be insisting upon fidelity to promises.

    The Church hierarchy, itself, condemned the trafficking in indulgences. Just like the scams today, dishonest men can take advantage of anything. Let us be honest though, the objection here from critics is against indulgences, themselves. However, the use of indulgences flows from the Church’s self-understanding as a corporate community of faith. No one comes to God alone. The many graces from Christ merited in the lives of the saints provide us with a wonderful font from which the Church can dispense to believers in need. As for contributions, these same anti-Catholic critics would even reject Mass stipends and offertory collections, not because of an enlightened love for the poor and victimized but because they want to see the Church impoverished and the priesthood destroyed. Similarly, enemies are using the legal system to exploit every avenue, including those opened by mistakes and sin, to sack the Church and to steal people’s churches.

    There is nothing wrong with praying for vocations. You cannot say that we need good clergy and deride this. There is nothing wrong with priestly celibacy. It is a great gift and I hope they keep it as generally mandatory. As for the selection process, it is already rather arduous. I entered the seminary 33 years ago and had to undergo a battery of psychological tests. Then I had eight years of education and faith formation. It is no easy thing to become a priest. Most priests and bishops are good and holy men. No, we are not perfect, but we place our trust in the one who came down from heaven to remake us in his likeness and to give us all a share in his life.

  6. Dennis didnt get to the meatier stuff, like bowing to graven images ad this fable about Mary as co redeemer. Both are anti scriptural.

    FATHER JOE: Respect given to a depiction of a saint is an expression of love and piety, not false worship. Mary cooperates with the redemptive work of her Son. Such is obvious even from a casual reading of Scripture. Jesus is our Mediator and Redeemer. Jesus is Lord. But you are wrong to malign Mary, the handmaid of the Lord.

  7. Wow. Father Joe–You are certainly a very patient man. It seems the discussions are not centered on genuine questions but more on attacks on the Catholic faith. I much appreciate your explanations that are clearly written and in line with our faith and reason. Thank you and please keep up the great work!

  8. “God have mercy on you for being so judgmental and hateful.” Dennis. I believe calling someone judgmental is judgmental.

    He did not like being called a bigot, but the definition fits with his view of the Catholic Church.

    Fr. Joe, please continue to defend our Faith.

  9. Correction: The Church may be not “Of the Earth” but “here on earth”

  10. Sometimes it takes courage to be meek, sometimes the cowards are the ones who are too scared to admit they’re afraid, sometimes we have to take the back seat and let God drive the car for a few seconds and let him die for our sins. It takes a lot of courage and meekness and faith to do that. Could you imagine when the apostle wanted to make 3 booths upon the mountain one each for Moses, Elisha and Jesus and Jesus said ‘Don’t tell anyone yet’ or when Jesus said that tonight you will deny me 3 times and the apostle said “Never”. Could you imagine the apostle tearfully saying “Yes, Lord, I could! Please forgive my weakness!” God build a house and let men destroy it, but three days later it was the Resurrection! Could you imagine being a disciple and having to be meek at those time! God letting men destroy his own Son! Even Peter wouldn’t let the servant of the high priest approach Christ, but even Christ healed his ear after a night spent in fearful anguish of death. At one point they were going to make Jesus the King and he slipped quietly out of their presence, That is a King! A King of Kings! To get as far away from worldliness, power and fearfulness as possible Why would a good King do that? Where is is Kingdom if if is not of this earth? The Church may be of this earth, but where is/ what is the Kingdom?

  11. God bless you, Father Joe.

  12. I don’t know maybe Fr. Joe is right, but being right in knowledge or tradition is not necessarily righteousness, Truth can be like a river in the desert and you can dam the river upstream (for yourself) and everyone else can die of thirst (for truth, that is). You can fall into the trap of pride, protection, tradition and nostalgia in Truth and fail to see that the Truth sets people free. It can become “MY truth” instead of “The Truth” a condescending, oppressive, self-righteous, judgmental spirit can come from “MY truth” while a freeing, forgiving, humbling, mysterious, meekness and awe comes from “The Truth”. One is totally fearful demanding and selfish… the other frees one from the chains of self. First, you would have to know the difference between the two and then, you would have to desire one type over the other .

    FATHER JOE:

    Words have various meanings. I hope we all know this. First, I am not always right but as a priest I have confidence in the teachings and morals taught by the Catholic Church. Second, a person can indeed be right about the facts or even know by heart the entire Bible and still not be righteous or justified. The accumulation of information does not always mean storing up grace for oneself or a guarantee of true faith and holiness. One of the reasons for preaching and teaching is to make sure that the river of truth is not dammed from those who have a right to drink from the Gospel. Sacred tradition is one of the two fonts, with Scripture, for divine revelation; the Catholic would see such as no hindrance to the truths that God wants to communicate. We are obliged to safeguard the deposit of faith passed down to us from the apostles. Such “protection” is also no hindrance but an assurance that what we receive is truly from Christ. I am not sure what you mean by“nostalgia” for the truth, although your negative connotation is clear. There must be permanence to truth as well as to what is right and wrong. Truths that are capricious are not truths at all. Christian teachers deal with truth in a humble way, but without apology or relativism. False tolerance toward a counterfeit Gospel is often the problem; those who would oppose such passivity are often wrongly diagnosed by critics as suffering from pride. Catholic claims are precisely “our truths” because they are the truths of Christ. They have stood the test of history and of opposition from those who would substitute the truths of men. As in a number of the discussions here, the universal teachings of Christianity are challenged by critics who espouse a private, independent interpretation of Scripture and faith. The truth cuts like a sword through falsehood. It is not always meek but frequently challenging, as with Christ’s prohibition about divorce or the demand to love and forgive enemies. Meekness would have us run away from the tough sayings. Demanded are courage and a steadfast spirit. Certainly I believe there needs to be freedom from coercion and respect of persons who believe differently than we do. However, I would contend that our posture must alternately switch from ecumenical in regard to those who want honest dialogue and cooperation to apologetical for those who would attack, distort and destroy the house that Christ built.

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