Protect the Pope
Roman Catholic Church

Protect the Pope? Francis is “destroying the Catholic nature of the Church”

‘Protect the Pope’ was a blog established in 2010 by the Rev’d Nick Donnelly, a kindly, humble and intelligent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church (and the second-nicest Catholic in the Twittersphere). His blog soon became one of the most important go-to Romish blogs in the UK (if not the world), with a million hits a year from people eager to read his incisive commentary and robust defence of Roman Catholic orthodoxy against the “lies, half-truths and misrepresentations of a coalition of aggressive secularists, atheists and homosexual activists” of the left-liberal intelligentsia (mainly media), who weren’t overly fond of Pope Benedict XVI for various reasons.

“I set up Protect the Pope to defend Benedict XVI during his state visit to the UK,” Nick Donnelly tweeted earlier this week. “Vicious attacks in the media. Now the media love Francis.”

And the media loves Pope Francis mainly because he is not as ‘rigid‘ as Pope Benedict XVI: “@Pontifex appointing pro-abortion/euthanasia advocates to the Pontifical Academy for Life was the last straw for me. Not Catholic”, Deacon Nick explained, before adding rather mournfully: “I hoped for the best, but my worst fears for the Church are being realized. He is destroying the Catholic nature of the Church”

This destruction, Deacon Nick avers, is evidenced in the appointment of the pro-choice moral theologian Professor Nigel Biggar to the Pontificia Academia pro Vita. What on earth is a pro-abortion Anglican doing on a body which was founded with the purpose of promoting and defending human life?

And so ‘Protect the Pope’ has morphed into ‘Protect the Faith’, just to dispel any notion that ‘Protect the Pope’ was actually protecting the Pope – as opposed to protecting the Pope Emeritus, which ‘Protect the Pope’ was established to do. And ‘Protect the Pope Emeritus’ is a bit of a clumsy name for a blog (and Twitter handle), so ‘Protect the Faith’ it must be, because the cardinals and bishops obviously aren’t doing it.

There’s quite a bit of backbiting (not to say backstabbing) in the Roman Catholic Church at the moment, principally down to the Francis-Benedict hermeneutic of discontinuity (or the very easy perception of such). Intra-ecclesial division is nothing new, of course: there has been a liberal-traditional fissure in the Roman Catholic Church at least since the Second Vatican Council, and arguably those consultations, declarations and decrees were an attempt to codify a response to preexisting divisions on the nature of Christ and the Church and the application of Christian theology in the (post-)modern world. The Church has always been divided (1Cor 1:12; 3:4), but the Benedict-Francis sectarianism seems to be heading inexorably toward schism.

Tweets and blog homilies abound referring to Francis quite brazenly as the Antipope who must resign for the good of the Church. These critics aren’t Protestants (well, technically, they are, by definition) but devout Roman Catholics (or a bit more devout than the Pope). There are plots and rumours of plots to depose the Pontiff; accounts of a pope utterly despised by his own clergy; tales of infighting and factionalism which is escalating to ecclesial civil war. Every utterance made by the Pope Emeritus is seized upon by traditionalists as the word of the ‘true’ Pope or the ‘real’ Pope the one they wish had never resigned and inflicted this disastrous Papacy on the world. Did Benedict write about the “dictatorship of the zeitgeist“? He must mean the befuddled Francis. Did he mention a capsizing boat? That must be the Holy Mother Church under the heretic Francis. Many of the faithful believe that the Petrine ministry still properly resides with Benedict: God will preserve the Magisterium through him. The charisms of indefectibility and infallibility cannot be defectible or fallible, and Francis is seemingly a thousand errors and wrongs all rolled into one.

Rome seems to have become the seat of the Antichrist, or at least one of many antichrists (1Jn 2:18). And so ‘Protect the Pope’ must die in order that the Rev’d Nick Donnelly may preach Catholic truth and distinguish himself from the Pope who does not preach anything like that truth. Of course, Pope Francis would say to Deacon Nick that he is being “too rigid” in his understanding of doctrine; that he lacks mercy, grace and goodness. This upstart deacon is trying to be “more Papist than the Pope“, as the Pope once accused those Catholics who put doctrinal phariseeism before the work of the Holy Spirit.

Deacon Nick would take it on the chin, and respond along the lines of: “When the pope (lower-case) appoints pro-abortion/euthanasia advocates as advisers and no cardinal or bishop protests, I have to speak out, come what may.” The Spirit of the Lord is upon him, you see. He might add: “Also, it’s very easy nowadays to be more Catholic than the pope (lower case): you just have to uphold the doctrines contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

And that would be his rationale in two tweets.

Nick Donnelly is no stranger to disputation, occasionally correcting, rebuking and exhorting ‘with all longsuffering and doctrine‘ (2Tim 4:2). And in his ministry he has corrected and rebuked eminent Roman Catholic theologians, quite a few bishops and the odd cardinal. But on 2nd March 2014 his ‘Protect the Pope’ blog fell silent.

On 7th March of that year, his wife posted an explanation for this absence: “Nick has been asked to observe a period of prayer and reflection.” She did not specify why this reflection was being observed or by whom it had been requested. But the Diocese of Lancaster (ie Bishop Michael Campbell) helpfully issued a swift statement to the press, freely disclosing the Bishop to be the initiator of the request. It read:

After learning that a notice had been placed upon the Protect the Pope website on 7 March saying: ‘Deacon Nick stands down from Protect the Pope for a period of prayer and reflection’ the Bishop’s Office at the Diocese of Lancaster was able to confirm that Bishop Campbell had recently requested Deacon Nick Donnelly to voluntarily pause from placing new posts on the Protect the Pope site.

Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that the Bishop asked Deacon Nick to use this pause to enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church.

Deacon Nick has agreed to the Bishop’s request at this time.

It was interesting phraseology: Deacon Nick was “requested…to voluntarily pause” from writing his blog. What was one to infer from this other than that Deacon Nick had been somehow failing to fulfil his diaconal duties or had been otherwise deficient, disobedient or unfaithful to his church’s teaching?

This “period of prayer and reflection” was manifestly nothing of the sort: the “request” carried more than a whiff of absolutist clericalism; an enforced disciplinary censorship imposed upon the Deacon who had presumed to defend the Pope (ie the embodiment of Roman Catholic orthodoxy) against the more liberal winds blowing through the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBEW). It was even more disconcerting when one considers that a conversation between a bishop and a member of his clergy remains, by convention, totally confidential: while the Diocese was happily issuing its defensive press releases, Deacon Nick was faithfully Trappist, having evidently been given no dispensation to speak or write about any conversations he may or may not have been having with his Bishop.

Filling the void – as nature requires – a number of interesting explanations about the reasons for the Bishop’s censoriousness surfaced. The Tablet stated: “Protect the Pope… regularly criticised groups and individual bishops – including Cardinal Vincent Nichols – for being at odds with church teaching on issues such as homosexuality, women’s ordination, contraception and abortion. It is understood that concerns about the site had been raised with Bishop Campbell by fellow members of the English and Welsh hierarchy.”

Fr Z, who runs the popular eponymous US blog, said: “I, for one, can imagine that a lot of pressure was exerted on the Bishop of Lancaster to have gone to such an extreme as to command a cleric under his charge not to think aloud in public.”

And Fr Tim Finigan of The Hermeneutic of Continuity wrote: “I think that it is no great secret that Catholic blogs are indeed a frequent topic of conversation at the meetings of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.”

It appeared, then, that Deacon Nick Donnelly was just a bit too Catholic for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. For as long as Pope Benedict XVI sat upon St Peter’s Throne issuing the occasional motu proprio favouring the old paths (Jer 6:16), Deacon Nick’s commitment to immutable truths and infallible moral law were tolerated, not least because they chimed with the Vatican under Benedict, if not quite with the CBEW. But under Francis, the traditionalists appear to be on the retreat: they are sidelined or censored while those progressive Roman Catholics who advocate a more tolerant approach to priestly celibacy, same-sex unions, abortion or divorce and re-marriage are not merely tolerated but actively promoted.

Benedict XVI was a Catholic Herald kind of pope; Francis inclines toward The Tablet. Or at least that’s how it appears. Certainly, the Diocese of Lancaster isn’t averse to promoting the latter on its website, giving high profile coverage to liberal bishops who are calling for a “radical re-examination of human sexuality”, while downplaying (/ignoring) the traditional teaching.

For Deacon Nick, such a radical re-examination is unnecessary, unholy and un-Catholic. Indeed, for him it amounts to apostasy: such teachings do not ‘develop’ through synodical debate and legislative resolution, for that would incline toward the more heterodox Anglican view. No, if the Magisterium is infallible, its teaching must be protected and the Deposit of Faith defended. Dissenting bishops and cardinals must be called out, corrected and rebuked using Scripture and referencing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Those who do not repent ought to be excommunicated.

But it was Deacon Nick who was “requested” to “prayerfully reflect”.

The Catholic Herald wrote that it is impractical for bishops to seek to “censor the blogosphere”, not least because this sort of medieval inquisitorial heavy-handedness has a tendency to backfire in this fragmented digital age. Indeed, a perplexed (if not deeply upset) Mrs Donnelly reluctantly assumed the role of protecting the Pope during her husband’s voluntary-mandatory period of reflection. They might have muzzled the Deacon with appeals to lofty episcopal authority, but it’s nigh impossible to censor the new media altogether. When Bishop Michael wrote demanding that no one post on ‘Protect the Pope’, she immediately stopped out of respect for his office.

Deacon Nick was tolerated (just about) by what may be termed the ‘protestant’ bishops of the Roman Catholic Church for as long as Benedict reigned. Since his abdication, the liberals have been doing what liberals, clerical or civil, always do silencing the opposition and using the levers of the institution to destroy it.

The Church needs more prophetic blogging watchmen like Deacon Nick Donnelly, exposing hypocrisy, challenging double standards and shining a light into its mysterious workings and often impenetrable darkness. And the Church needs more bishops like Michael Campbell who will exhort the faithful into long periods of prayer and reflection, for ‘Protect the Faith’ is the undoubted fruit of this profound reflection. Michael Campbell’s request was for Nick Donnelly “to voluntarily pause from placing new posts on the Protect the Pope site”.

That leaves him free to post to his heart’s content (as the Holy Spirit leads) on a new ‘Protect the Faith’ site. Laudate Dominum!

  • Anton

    The choice for Catholics appears to be to offer their loyalty to a Pope espousing liberal theology or a Pope Emeritus who ran the lineal successor to the Inquisition. That says it all.

    • RuariJM

      I think you may have revealed a bit more of your lack of knowledge than you intended.

      Pope Francis does not ‘espouse lei real theology’. Pope Benedict is neither in opposition to nor an alternative choice to the current occupant of the See of Rome.

      I suspect you don’t really know about the Holy Inquisition and are confusing it with the Spanish Inqquisition. To be fair, that’s a common error but no more valid because a lot of people labour under the same misapprehension.

      • Anton

        I think *you* may have revealed a bit more of your lack of knowledge than you intended.

        I am acutely aware of the history of Roman Catholic Inquisitions, from the mediaeval period onwards, against such brethren as the Waldenses. Where in my comment is evidence otherwise? As for the Spanish Inquisition, I am aware of the errors often quoted in the numbers who were tried due to mistranslations in Llorente’s writing. How about you?

        Francis is patently a liberal who feels hamstrung by Catholic tradition. He came through the Jesuits just when they were in that remarkable transition from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal. Benedict is best described as a “conservative liberal” in his theology, not an ultra-traditionalist. That was made clear in Nick Needham’s lecture, Roman Catholicism Today, which explains the theological issues. It is one of the lectures at:

        http://www.wicketgate.co.uk/lectures/p10_lecture_index.html

        • bluedog

          Superb skewering. First class.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Hey ! You have Catholic connections. Watch it !

  • RuariJM

    If it was His Grace who wrote that column of rubbish I would send for the leechmaster, to relieve his overheated blood.

    For those who may have misunderstood something: the Church is not something you make in your own image and nor is there an option that you only have to agree with a Pope when he says something you approve of.

    Most of the objections to Pope Francis are, in the words of Pope Benedict’s confidante, fantasy. There is a loud, but very small, minority in the Church in UK and USA in particular, that confuses its own desires with eternal verities. Calling a duly and correctly elected Pope an “anti-Pope” is one of the signs of that group that can only love something created in its own image.

    One member of this group is using his online presence to spread claims that the Pope is demonically possessed. He is absolutely convinced this is true because a friend told him, having watched Pope Francis on the TV from his home in the Eastern Seaboard of the USA.

    That’s the sort of craziness you are flirting with and giving credibility to.

    • “nor is there an option that you only have to agree with a Pope when he says something you approve of”

      I am no Roman Catholic. But I do know that, the insistence that you must agree with the Pope, is going to cause sane people trouble if successive Popes do not agree with eachother. Which is one of the reasons why I am not a Roman Catholic.

      • You don’t have to agree with the Pope, especially on something like Amoris Laetitia, which is a mere apostolic exhortation loosely based on synod discussions. Nor do you have to prefer spaghetti to macaroni, just because the Pope does. The “infallible” powers of the Pope are limited, and luckily this one has not attempted to say anything “infallibly”.

        • ….. yet.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Nooo….surely not…..

          • God will not permit it.

        • “Mere apostolic exhortation”.

          Interesting phrase, for something which, if I understand you correctly, ultimately means “it can potentially be full of errors, and one is safe to largely disregard it”, which I take to be your view?

          How does one ascertain when the Pope’s proclamations can be safely disregarded? Is the ultimate arbiter of what “counts” your private reason?

          • If it is not consistent with extant teachings of the Church a Catholic is not bound in conscience to support it. One has to show the Pontiff respect and consider his teachings but one is not obliged to accept them if they contradict past constantly held teachings.

          • This is circular. Your reject the teachings of the supposed head of the church, because they do not agree with your view of what truly counts as the teachings of the church. What is the point of having a Pope at all, if each member ultimately resorts to private judgment to decide whether his teachings are really teachings or not?

          • No. One holds fast to the infallible and indefectible teachings of the Church. If one is of a mind to reject these, then there’s plenty of opportunity to read ambiguous statements the way one wishes. The Catechism is a reliable guide to Catholic teaching. The Pope only has the Holy Spirit’s guidance when he is teaching and protecting Catholic doctrine.

          • An apostolic exhortation is not regarded as being authoritative like an encyclical. That is not my private view, it is a well-known fact for anyone who understands the Catholic Church.

    • Anton

      Calm down, old chap. Time will tell, will it not?

  • Yes, I think the Catholic problem is to decide whether to accept the teachings of all the previous popes over the last 2000 years, or to go for the “new” teaching of Francis. The current pope’s modus operandi is to make ambiguous statements that can be interpreted in a way that contradicts previous teaching, without ever endorsing or rebutting these interpretations. At the same time he surrounds himself with yes-men such as Spadaro (who thinks 2+2=5) and Martin (whose perversions of Bible teaching are legendary). “Protect the Church” or “Protect the Faith” would be good, as for Catholics “One Church, One Faith, One Lord” is a worthy aim (and the Lord is not Francis).

    • “whether to accept the teachings of all the previous popes over the last 2000 years”

      They no more agreed with eachother than these two do. Is it still the will of God to raise an army and storm “the holy land” to kill and reclaim the territory with swords? Or were those Popes just wrong? (Or, worse, is there some sort of hair-splitting get-out which allows one to claim that the continual proclamation that people must die in this cause was not a “teaching”?).

      • You need to distinguish between prudential decisions made in specific historical contexts and the infallible/indefectible doctrinal propositions of the Magisterium that hold for all time, although there may need a fresh representation of the latter according to the “signs of the times”. There can be valid Catholic debate and disagreement with the former human decisions but not with the latter.

        • The upshot is, that to be able to say what Rome “really” teaches at any one time, you have to a) be a professional theologian and b) have parsed all the difficult questions more correctly than a good chunk of the other professional theologians who are trying to do the same thing.

          If you, say, happen to be a working farmer in a situation or time where you don’t have all of the time, intellectual capacity, or access to theological resources to parse all the niceties, then you’re just going to have to cross your fingers and hope that your local Catholic theologian’s private judgment is correct.

          • All one has to do is read the Catechism and scripture. It’s really not that difficult.

          • Anton

            Ah, but then you have to interpret the text of the Catechism, do you not?

          • You’d be pretty dumb if you couldn’t.

          • Anton

            The Bible’s not so difficult either!

          • Cressida de Nova

            I think that is true ,so it always amazes me how your lot manage to misinterpret it.

          • Albert

            Superb! That really made me laugh!

          • Albert

            The Bible is very different as the divisions amongst Protestants show.

          • Anton

            There is no difference in principle between the Bible and the Catechism. You have to say they are different because to admit that they are both just strings of words with meanings that can be contended is deadly to your position, which is that one needs interpreting and the other doesn’t. Yet that is just what they are. As for divisions, you were disagreeing with the Orthodox for 500 years before Luther so why should protestants heed you rather than them?

          • Albert

            No one is saying that Church teaching does not need interpreting. On the contrary, that is precisely how the Church continues to deepen her faith. However, it is clearly not down to the individual by himself to determine the meaning of the Church’s teaching.

            As for divisions, you were disagreeing with the Orthodox for 500 years before Luther so why should protestants heed you rather than them?

            Because the Orthodox, lacking a magisterium aren’t better able to deal with questions of doctrine than you guys. They can’t even agree to use an accurate calendar.

          • Anton

            Fine, tell that to the Orthodox and sort out your spat with them; then I’ll be impressed.

          • Albert

            I have no difficulty with that. I tend to find that Orthodox struggle to explain why they side with Chalcedon against the Copts.

          • Cressida de Nova

            The catechism is clear and comprehensive

          • But, that the Catechism is both a a) complete and b) sufficient summary of Catholic doctrine is, again, just ultimately your personal opinion, isn’t it? Or is there an infallible pronouncement of Rome that this is the case, somewhere?

            As far as I can see, the Catechism nowhere teaches the position which you hold, that all use of contraception in all circumstances is a sin. So, you teach that the church teaches as a certain truth something that is not in the Catechism. And you’ll have a hard time getting that out of Scripture without a good deal of interpretation that’s non-obvious to the farmer, won’t you?

          • Er, the Catechism does teach contraception is an intrinsic evil i.e. is never permissible. Have you referenced the Catechism on the 6th Commandment?? Did you miss paragraph 2370?

            The Catechism is a summary of Church teaching and references scripture, and teachings of both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium.

          • You appear to mean the “Commentary on the Catechism”, rather than the Catechism itself? So, the catechism is not sufficient as a commentary on Scripture, but requires supplementing by the commentary on the commentary on Scripture, in order to be fully understood.

            So, for you, is the Commentary infallible and inspired so that we know it’s without error? Or does it require Rome to issue a further commentary on it, so that we can make sure we don’t make any mistakes in interpreting it?

          • No Jack means the Catechism. It presents Catholic teaching in a readable and understandable way. it’s various passages state both the “infallible” and “indefectible” teachings of the Church.

            Have you read the passages Jack recommended on contraception. if so, you’ll know your earlier statement was wrong. If not, then you don’t want to engage in a discussion.

          • Anna

            How was a German peasant ignorant of Latin to do that in those days?

          • It didn’t exist in “those days”.

          • Anna

            What?! The scripture didn’t exist in the Middle Ages?

          • The Catechism.

      • I was talking about doctrine, not politics.

        • That’s what I was talking about in my last sentence. The retrospective qualification that the call to take up arms and die in order to claim back God’s holy land from wicked invaders was not “doctrine”, and hence could in fact just have been total theological bunk that people ought to have completely ignored, wouldn’t have been much comfort to those whose fathers, husbands, etc. died on the battlefield, would it?

          • It was never presented as doctrine and people were not obliged to take up arms. .

          • And medieval peasants would have understand that? The Pope’s preachers who were calling them to arms were very careful to explain it accompanied by all the hair-splitting niceties that, several hundreds years later, have been developed for usefulness in Catholic apologetics?

      • Watchman

        David, there nobody more qualified to comment on disagreements between popes than one on their own bishops. Strossmayers speech to the Vatican council of 1870 exposed not only the disagreements but touches on the heresies of the church itself. It is worth reading if only to act as a warning that tradition has a place in the church rather than the sufficiency of the Word of God.
        http://www.mtc.org/bishop_s.html

    • bosco49

      “Motus in fine velocior”

  • “[T]he First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith. … The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition.” (Cardinal Ratzinger)

    • prompteetsincere

      The belated and lamented orthodox Cardinal Muller, CDF, Papal-dismissed sans reasons, would have the Church and Magisterium at the service of “the Word of GOD”. V. ‘LifeSitenews, July 1, 2017.
      Such would guarantee The WORD of GOD is its own Holy Guarantor, the very Promise of The Father. + John ch. 14:26. Amen.

  • CliveM

    Is not one of the problems that it is hard for to know what the current Pope means when he speaks? Is he simply advocating a more compassionate engagement with issues such as homosexuality etc, whilst still holding to the orthodox view. Which to me would seem reasonable. Or is he trying covertly to prepare the ground for a reinterpretation of the theological understanding? Which some at least appear to believe?

    • There you go. That’s the very issue Clive.

      Jack isn’t sure how he would categorise Pope Francis. He certainly shows “liberalism” when it comes to pastoral accompaniment and meeting sinners where they are. He also places stress on the work of the Holy Spirit above “legalism” and rituals and calls for a flexibility in approach to meet people in the reality and mess of their lives. Unlike many who hide behind him, he seems to Jack orthodox on the major doctrinal flashpoints between “liberals” and “conservatives” in the Church – abortion, contraception, women’s ordination, homosexuality and divorce/remarriage.

      Is this “liberalism”? He’s certainly not a “rigorist”. Indeed, Jack would say he’s more akin to a conservative Protestant.

      • CliveM

        As you describe it, I would be comfortable with him as Pope if I was a RC.

        But, but, but, the appointment of a pro abortion, pro euthanasia moral theologian seems to point to more than this.

        • Well, as a protestant, you would be. Moral proportionalism, open access to the Eucharist, primacy of conscience over moral absolutes. What’s not to like as a protestant? As for his appointments, they’re a power play.

          • CliveM

            Hmmm what I actually meant was his traditional views on abortion, same sex marriage etc.

            As a Protestant actually there are aspects of this I am uncomfortable with i.e.contraception.

      • dannybhoy

        A what??
        Is a conservative Protestant roughly on a par with an inconsistent Catholic or an unorthodox member of the Orthodox Church?

        • One term suffices – heretic.

          • dannybhoy

            You consider your Pope a heretic, or have I read this wrongly?
            (I’m not well you know..)

          • That’s above Jack’s pay-grade. If he is, it has not been clearly manifest as yet in his encyclical or exhortation.

    • Anton

      Clearly, he is a liberal who is hamstrung by Catholic tradition. Where Catholic tradition is biblical, that hamstringing is a good thing.

      • CliveM

        Clearly?

        • Anton

          It’s clear to me. I don’t mind if you disagree!

          • CliveM

            I’m engaging not arguing. I’m interested as to understand why you think it’s so clear.

          • Anton

            Everything he does or says is pushing at that envelope.

          • CliveM

            But as Jack says he seems orthodox in his theology. Now it might be just me, but that is the true measure of liberalism. I certainly wouldn’t view being more compassionate with your engagement with sinners as liberal necessarily.

          • Anton

            I’ve never heard him say a good word about traditional Catholicism; he is simply silent about it.

            To make this dialogue a bit more constructive, let’s try to ask: If a committed liberal theologian got elected as Pope, how would he act, bearing in mind the weight and binding character of Catholic tradition? And how would someone not liberal, but what you call more compassionate (I leave that definition to you), act? Supposing the two actions aren’t identical, we can then compare them with how Francis acts, to see which party he better fits.

            Another way forward is to get at leaks from the last two conclave – leaks which clearly exist.

          • Albert

            You ignore the third possibility, that Francis is orthodox but compassionate and speaks without thinking. After all his “Who am I to judge?” was possibly unwise because of how it was interpreted, but in terms of what he said, it was perfectly Catholic.

          • Anton

            That is precisely my second possibility, word for word – not liberal, but compassionate.

          • Albert

            No this is a third possibility:
            1. If a committed liberal theologian got elected as Pope, how would he act, bearing in mind the weight and binding character of Catholic tradition?
            2. And how would someone not liberal, but what you call more compassionate (I leave that definition to you), act?
            3. Francis is orthodox but compassionate and speaks without thinking.

            How can 2 and 3 logically be the same?

          • Anton

            Your 3 is a subset of 2. Can we rephrase it thus:

            1. If a committed liberal theologian got elected as Pope, how would he act, bearing in mind the weight and binding character of Catholic tradition?

            2. Someone not liberal, but compassionate and measured in his words.

            3. Someone not liberal, but compassionate and not measured in his words.

            The exercise is to imagine how each of these would act and speak, then compare Francis against the three possibilities. Although we still need Clive’s definition of ‘compassionate’.

          • Albert

            3 is not a subset of 2. How you have set it out here is better though. The key thing is it wasn’t precisely what you said at all. And this is important, because someone looking at 1 & 2 might think 1 – how else, they might ask, to account for the lose remarks about key matters? But 3 offers an alternative account. I’m inclined to side with 3 with the proviso that the key word to define is “liberal”.

          • Anton

            Your (3) most certainly is a subset of my original (2), which stated “not liberal but compassionate”. Your (3) is “orthodox (which I take to mean not liberal), compassionate and given to shooting his mouth off”. (Speech marks do not in this post signify verbatim quotations.) The complementary subset is “”orthodox (which I take to mean not liberal), compassionate and not given to shooting his mouth off.”

          • Albert

            Whatever. In the Catholic sense you could arguably be liberal but orthodox. When I was an Anglican liberal meant things like not believing the creed, sleeping with people of the same sex etc. As a Catholic, I found that liberal meant having guitars at Mass, clergy wearing grim vestments and generally not following the rubrics properly. And for all the soppy language, they would end up always upholding Catholic teaching.

            The key thing is that 2 and 3 are different – 3 offers an explanation that your 2 does not, and therefore 3 becomes a more plausible possibility than 1 or 2.

          • Anton

            Liberal is short for liberal theology, and I suggest you are the exception if you take it to have a different meaning in Catholicism and in Anglicanism. On that subject I commend Nick Needham’s lecture to you (link given on my lowest post on this thread).

            Re sleeping together, a relative had neighbours, a young man and a young woman, who were cohabiting and described themselves as Catholic. I think they had been baptised but were non-practising.

          • Albert

            Liberal is short for liberal theology, and I suggest you are the exception if you take it to have a different meaning in Catholicism and in Anglicanism.

            Which is of course what I thought as an Anglican.

          • Anton

            Try Needham. It’s a 1-hour talk but you can find the first half of it transcribed in four chunks at

            http://triablogue.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/nick-needham-on-roman-catholicism-today.html

          • Albert

            Life is short, I have 2 degrees in theology, I don’t what to listen to every blog anyone recommends, thanks.

          • Anton

            Yes, you have to be very highly educated indeed to find things so difficult!

          • CliveM

            Actually you don’t. What you should be asking is what do I believe it’s replacing.

            But as you’ve asked “feeli Or showing sympathy and concern for others”.

          • Anton

            OK; are you hinting that earlier Popes weren’t compassionate?

          • Certainly some “traditional” Catholics aren’t – for example, the “rigorists” and “legalists” Francis very correctly criticises. Being a Pope doesn’t guarantee one is Christ-like.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Oh but it should…It is so important.John Paul II comes to mind.

          • There have been many great Popes.

          • len

            The Borgias?

          • CliveM

            Actually if I understand HJ correctly

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Or perhaps the long arm of Common Purpose stretched out across the Tiber…

          • bluedog

            Indeed. A South American liberationist reading from the catechism of Herbert Marcuse and preferring the techniques of Saul Alinsky.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Oh …I just said that…he is not thinking and I wonder about his advisors.

          • Albert

            I expect they are running for cover…!!

          • CliveM

            “I’ve never heard him say a good word about traditional Catholicism”, well as the fundamental creeds of what it means to be a Catholic resides in their theological beliefs, his continuing affirmation of traditional teaching on issues such as contraception, abortion, divorce etc., must by implication at least be an affirmation of traditional Catholicism.

            How would a committed liberal theologian act as Pope? I have no idea, like all of us the actions would reflect a mix of conviction and character. One thing I do believe he would do, is to be circumspect in how he defined his ‘belief’ for ‘traditional teaching’.

            I didn’t describe anyone as “more compassionate”. I said “more compassionate with your engagement”. I believe Christianity to be a compassionate faith. So being compassionate to a sinner makes you a Christian, not a liberal. Christ was compassionate in John 8: 1-11 to the adulterous woman. So how should a ‘compassionate’ conservative 9in the theological sense!!) act? Just like Christ.

            With regards the leaks. In general these things tend to be partial and designed either to flatter or deceive in an attempt to undermine or enhance a position. Rarely are they a comprehensive report on the events.

            Please note, I’m not saying Francis isn’t a Liberal, I’m actually going over the arguments to decide a position. Indeed at the moment, I actually don’t know, if he knows what he is.

      • Albert

        What is your evidence for this? What has Francis said which is, by the standards of Catholic teaching, heretical?

        • Anton

          I think you know the answer to your own question very well.

          • Albert

            Yes, I don’t think he has said anything heretical and that seems to me to deal with your position.

          • Anton

            I’m sure it seems that way to you.

          • Albert

            Is that it? You’re going to claim he is a liberal who is hamstrung by Catholic tradition and then not provide any evidence?

            I would agree he may be liberal in the Catholic sense, but that is not really liberal in anyone else’s sense.

          • Anton

            He has been careful not to say anything outright heretical by Catholic standards (which is why I think he knows exactly what he is saying) but he is always pushing the envelope and he never *actively defends* traditional Catholicism; he simply abides by it.

          • Albert

            But he probably thinks that traditional Catholicism has been well enough defended by his two predecessors, who made the teaching clear. In terms of emphasis, he has a pastoral rather than a teaching papacy.

          • Anton

            So you think Nick Donnelly is worrying needlessly? You think the four Cardinals who were sufficiently concerned as to write an open letter to Pope Francis requesting clarification of certain points in Amoris Laetitia were worrying needlessly? Why do you think Francis has not replied?

            http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/11/14/full-text-cardinals-letter-to-pope-francis-on-amoris-laetitia/

          • Albert

            I’m more concerned about the Cardinals than Deacon Nick TBH. However, bishops writing to the Pope is a perfectly healthy thing to happen. In Catholicism the Papacy and the Episcopate are in tension. I don’t know why he hasn’t replied: he hasn’t endorsed one side or the other.

          • Anton

            That tension was resolved in the papacy’s favour at the First Vatican Council.

          • Albert

            In a sense, yes. The Pope can always define the Church’s teaching without the consent of the bishops, however, there’s still a balance – as Vatican II stated. Now although the Pope can define without the consent of the bishops, he cannot define contrary to what the Church already teaches, and this places a break on him.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Pope Francis is not a statesman and it appears he is not getting satisfactory guidance from his advisors when he makes public statements. He appears to speak extempore which is not a great idea in the circumstances

    • dannybhoy

      That seems to me to be a welcome possibility. I haven’t really paid much attention to things Papal since Pope John Paul II who seemed to me to be a lovely courageous man.
      That film Clive, remember? “The Singer, not the Song..”

      • CliveM

        Sadly DB I don’t, but I will google.

  • len

    Pope Francis seems to be following a popular trend with a large portion of the Christian religion today.
    Christianity as preached by Jesus Christ and the disciples is too divisive and too judgemental, for the modern liberated man to find acceptable. This is the offence of the Cross. An offence to human nature.
    So Christianity must be made more ‘acceptable’.Christianity must be made more loving, more encompassing. After all Jesus loved sinners, didn`t He?.
    So Christianity must be brought into the twenty first Century, surely nobody could disagree with that?.
    So preachers don’t mention the Cross, and don’t call the people out there ‘sinners because that is being ‘judgemental’. Make people fell loved and accepted above all else.
    So where does this leave us with the Gospel as preached by Jesus the disciples the apostles?.
    Nowhere at all!. The Gospel(which is the power and the Wisdom of God) has been rendered completely powerless.
    This (the above) is the affect on the Christian religion when the Holy Spirit is not allowed His Rightful position in the church.

    • Sarky

      Whats offensive is believing humans are born retrobates with a one eay ticket to hell for something they didnt do and then finding out the only unforgivable sin is unbelief.

      • Martin

        Sarky

        But you have done it.

        • Sarky

          ??

      • len

        When God created this planet he laid down material, physical, and spiritual Laws.God gave his Laws (some of them, enough of them ) to mankind to enable mankind to grow and prosper in all ways.
        You can either accept this or deny it, but this is a reality.
        Now(to give an example) if you deny that gravity exist then you can try and break this law by jumping of a building and saying” I don`t want to be restricted by this law so I am going to ignore it.
        ‘Gravity’ didn`t punish you for breaking the law, you bore the consequences of your action.
        You may not be able to see ‘spiritual laws’ but you will see the affects of breaking them!.
        Hell was created for the devil and his fallen angels but if through rebellion you are connected with fallen spirits you by default will suffer their fate along with them.

        • Sarky

          The thing about gravity is that there is EVIDENCE for it. You’re talking about supernatural nonsense for which there is NO evidence.

          I know damn well if I jump off a building i will die or be horrendously injured. There is countless evidence that shows me this. There is zero evidence for your claims. Come on len, show me the evidence!!

          • len

            The evidence is all around Sarky, the evidence of Creation the evidence of death and sin that leads to death.

          • Sarky

            Come on Len, I’m talking about scientific evidence and you know it.
            You are being dishonest, you make the answer fit the question without using any recognised method.
            I could say that the humans are evidence of aliens, but without scientific evidence its a nothing statement.

      • Linus

        Retrobates? Is this a 3rd person singular verb form I’m not familiar with? Is the noun form retrobation?

        It sounds like something that hipsters who affect a 60s look might do to pleasure themselves. With Brylcreem, one assumes. And suggestive MadMen promo shots.

        How odd that my first encounter with the word should be on a site full of bigots and Jesus-freaks…

        • Sarky

          an unprincipled person.
          “he had to present himself as more of a lovable reprobate than a spirit of corruption”
          synonyms: rogue, rascal, scoundrel, good-for-nothing, villain, wretch, unprincipled person, rake, profligate, degenerate, debauchee, libertine; More
          2.
          archaic
          (in Calvinism) a sinner who is not of the elect and is predestined to damnation.

          • Linus

            Your second definition can hardly be viewed as archaic on this site. Unless the gibbering Martin posts through a rift in timespace from 16th century Geneva.

            I will admit I have considered the idea. But of course we have no hard evidence that time travel is possible. I could use Christian logic and claim that Martin proves it must be, because where else could he have learned his rigid and condemnatory beliefs if not directly from Calvin himself? But why bother when there’s a much simpler explanation for the way he behaves?

            Gibbering psychosis…

            Occam’s razor tells us the simplest explanation is probably the right one. So we really must assume that Martin is gibbering in the here-and-now rather than the distant past. And this clearly renders inaccurate your description of his beliefs as archaic. They are as contemporary as any others. It may well be that only the crazed and deluded hold them. But they hold them in the present day.

          • Sarky

            Yes….sadly.

  • Anton

    If Francis dies while Benedict is still alive, what will Benedict do (or try to)? A comeback? Or can he vote in a conclave?

    • No. If he attended, and it’s doubtful he would, he would have to leave before any vote. And, according to most canon lawyers,he couldn’t be (re)elected.

  • grandpa1940

    I, despite many internal arguments to the contrary, was a regular attendee at Sunday Mass, and as a communicant; but ‘saw the light’ one Sunday morning.
    It was the time approaching a General Election, and this alleged ‘man of God’ was telling me, and the rest of the congregation, who to vote for in our constituency, on the grounds that no Catholic should vote for a Tory.
    I rose, and walked out, while the M.O.G. bleated behind me.
    I have never returned, no longer profess any religion.

    • Anton

      But still believe in Christ, I hope.

    • bosco49

      Rather than take a walk grandpa1940, take a Walkman to Mass. The intent of certain MOGs is precisely to drive people away from Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Find an FSSP parish.

    • Albert

      The priest had no right to say that. But how does it follow from his violation of his ministry that you need not attend Mass yourself?

      • Cressida de Nova

        It lacks authenticity….I don’t believe it.

    • dannybhoy

      Well that’s a shame.
      Many a person has been put off Christianity because they didn’t meet Christians in the church they attended.
      But when you do get to a truly Christian service where they worship God your heart will be uplifted.
      Please don’t let that bad experience become the excuse for not meeting real Christianity.

    • len

      Walk away from the church by all means(I did myself due to a family break up) but I pray you will not walk away from Christ Grandpa.

    • When a priest teaches something Jack knows to be false, or none of his business, he turns off his hearing aids. Why would you walk away from Christ in His Church and the sacraments because of a dodgy priest? As a lay member, you could and should have challenged him after Mass.

      • Cressida de Nova

        I dont believe a word of it. Catholics know priests are not allowed to preach political preferences. Someone would have been on the phone to the Bishop the next day.

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    Thank you for this article, Arch. The kind of cleric who enjoys every privilege, long robes, fat pockets, long speeches, but doesn’t actually believe in any of it has a long history. Indeed I believe Jesus himself had a fatal run-in with one of them.

    • CliveM

      In fairness to Pope Francis, he seems to be less demanding about privilege and robes etc. then some of his predecessors.

  • Martin

    Um

    Rome has been a seat of an antichrist for a long time.

    • bluedog

      predictable

      • Anton

        Things revealed in scripture are indeed predictable! Notice that Martin didn’t say the papacy is THE antichrist (ie the endtime one), just an antichrist.

        • mollysdad

          There! Now look what happens when you assent to the Consensus Tigurinus (1549) and are forced to the judgement that the Church began to celebrate the Eucharist lawfully only in Holy Week of 1525 and in Zurich.

          • Anton

            I’m happy to partake in Communion with anybody who confesses Jesus Christ, divine son of the Creator, crucified died and risen for our sins. That includes Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. Whether they wish to partake with me is up to them, and whether their ministers wish to offer it to me is up to them; I regret but do not resent refusal.

          • Cressida de Nova

            That statement has all the hues of Catholic fervour..I think the Holy Spirit is paying you a visit Anton:) I cannot remember a Protestant response being so measured reasoned and dare I say the word “Christian”

          • Anton

            That’s always been my view and practice since I ceased being atheist!

          • Then join Christ’s Church and be in full communion with Him and His saints – living and dead. How can one share the Eucharist celebration with another Christian who doesn’t share one’s belief in what Communion actually is (the Real Presence) or what the Gospel teaches?

          • Anton

            I *am* a full member of Christ’s church.

          • Cressida de Nova

            One day…and this is probably not a post that would be suitable for this discussion but I would like to know how your life has changed and how different it must be now
            to the life you had before as an atheist. I am not necessarily wanting to know the reasons why you became a Christian but the differences you experienced before and after. If you had a blog….you could write an essay on this subject. I am sure a lot of us would be interested because most of us come from religious backgrounds and do not understand the mindset of an atheist.We all have preconceived ideas but the intelligent Catholic curious types:) want to know more and what it is really like. Atheists are are a bit of an enigma (at least to me) and in a social setting you cannot impolitely quizz and probe. There is no point in asking atheists who have rejected their religious background because they have an axe to grind. The most interesting subject is an atheist who came from an atheist family, completely secular upbringing without any religious influence and has converted .

          • Anton

            Essentially secular; one parent was explicitly atheist, the other the most nominal of Anglicans and I never went to Sunday school nor even church at Christmas. I hated religious assembly at my grammar school except for the hymns, because they were decent music (a lot better than today!) I found God at a time of personal soul-searching a little over 25 years ago, I had Christian friends to answer my questions, and I had my scientifically based scepticism of the supernatural wrecked by a (entirely unsolicited) experience of the devil, trying to make me forge a faustian pact. I knew enough to know it was a bad thing to do and I started sprinting to get out of breath and let my body distract my mind. It worked – thank God – and I rapidly decided that if the devil was real then so was God and I knew which side I wanted to be on. I started going to a local parish church pretty much by default. A decade later I learnt how to read the Bible properly; this coincided with disillusion with the CoE, and I shifted to the nonconformists.

            I commend Bible study to all Christians, and this is not meant as a Catholic vs protestant comment.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Hmmm….the nominal Anglicanism might have influenced you unconsciously eg that is how you knew it was a bad thing to do. How do you know what is right from wrong if you do not have religion. I suppose we have Christian based law in the west and I suppose you have to get your values from peers or the media.

          • Anton

            I can assure you that you didn’t need any kind of religion to know that what I was being offered was a bad thing.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I commend Lacrimosa from the Mozart Requiem to all Christians.

            Thank you for your response. It is very generous and gracious of you. This is not a forum where I would feel comfortable in revealing personal things about myself….So thank you again.

          • Anton

            I don’t speak about loved ones on blogs but never mind being asked questions and hope that a polite refusal in some cases is not taken amiss.

            I commend all of Mozart to everybody! Incidentally I was once in London during my time in the CoE on All Souls Day, and learnt that the Mozart Requiem was being used as liturgy in the Brompton Oratory… so I went!

        • bluedog

          Martin doesn’t use the descriptor ‘the papacy’. He could be referring to the individual rather than the office, or both.

      • len

        Sadly so , the Bible warns against false teachers.

        • bluedog

          grimly predictable

        • Cressida de Nova

          That’s your lot len. Repent.

      • Martin

        The truth is always predictable.

  • Albert

    These critics aren’t Protestants (well, technically, they are, by definition) but devout Roman Catholics (or a bit more devout than the Pope).

    No they’re not, that simply doesn’t follow. It is eccentric to say Francis is not the Pope. Equally, there is no requirement for Catholics to believe what is inferred to be a pope’s opinions. A Catholic must believe what the Church teaches, but that is a different matter.

    • bluedog

      When is the pope not the Pope?

      • len

        Two Popes once excommunicated each other.

        • Albert

          No. At best, one pope excommunicated an anti-pope.

          • Anton

            But which was which and why?

          • Albert

            Give me the example, and I’ll tell you.

          • Anton

            1378 – 1414.

          • Albert

            According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the popes were:

            Urban VI (1378-89) Opposed by Robert of Geneva (“Clement VII”), antipope (1378-1394)
            Boniface IX (1389-1404) Opposed by Robert of Geneva (“Clement VII”) (1378-1394), Pedro de Luna (“Benedict XIII”) (1394-1417) and Baldassare Cossa (“John XXIII”) (1400-1415), antipopes
            Innocent VII (1404-06) Opposed by Pedro de Luna (“Benedict XIII”) (1394-1417) and Baldassare Cossa (“John XXIII”) (1400-1415), antipopes
            Gregory XII (1406-15) Opposed by Pedro de Luna (“Benedict XIII”) (1394-1417), Baldassare Cossa (“John XXIII”) (1400-1415), and Pietro Philarghi (“Alexander V”) (1409-1410), antipopes

          • Anton

            I know what the Catholic encyclopaedia says.

            Trouble is, it mattered because they all wanted tithes paid to them, with menaces.

            Creed for 1409-14 “I believe in three Catholic and apostolic churches”?

          • Albert

            Certainly, it must have been a very difficult time.

          • Anton

            A very political time! From 1378 England declared loyalty to the Pope in Rome because Avignon was situated in England’s enemy, France, and Scotland promptly declared loyalty to the Avignon Pope because England had done the opposite. Not very much theology behind those decisions!

          • Albert

            Quite. A very difficult time.

          • Terry Mushroom

            I went to Mass on Easter morning in Papa Luna’s (Benedict XIII) chapel in Peniscola, Spain. It was celebrated in union with the local Catholic Bishop, Francis our Pope, and “all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith”. It was followed by a very Spanish procession re-enacting Mary meeting Our Lord after his resurrection. A happy and joyous occasion which put us in a very good mood for breaking our Lenten fast.

            One passes a magnificent cast head of Papa Luna, looking very papal, walking up to the chapel.

            A very low time for the Church and a source of great scandal then and now. If Our Lord had had any sense He would not have committed his mission to sinful men.

      • Cressida de Nova

        When he is eating macaroni mortadella at the barbers with his mates.

      • Albert

        Never. If someone isn’t the pope he isn’t the pope.

    • So, the end result is that in the Catholic church, each individual must use their private judgment to decide which announcements of their teachers are to be believed, and which ones to be discarded. Which rather destroys the Catholic argument against the Protestant doctrine of private judgment, does it not?

      • bluedog

        bingo

      • Terry Mushroom

        As Albert said, a Catholic must believe what the Church teaches.

        “Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic, which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally.

        “This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.” (St Vincent Lerins died circa 445)

        Or as St Ignatius puts it, “Think with the mind of the Church. Sentire cum eccesliae

        • len

          A Christian must believe what Gods Word says over and above what the church might decide to say!.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Len, you’re on your hobby horse again.

          • If you identify believing what God says as merely a hobby horse, then what would you consider a matter of seriousness?

          • Terry Mushroom

            I was suggesting that Len was on a hobby horse, not God.

          • And I was saying that you appear to identify Len’s concern to know what God says as merely hobby-horse material, and enquiring what you think he might do as an alternative as something serious?

          • Terry Mushroom

            I’m sorry if I gave that impression.

          • Cressida de Nova

            He knows that….he is just indulging in some Catholic bashing sport

          • Chefofsinners

            Less of a hobby, more of an immutable truth of eternal and universal significance.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Catholic doctrine is biblically based.The true one, not the one your lot has chopped and changed to suit your own ends.

          • Anton

            Where in the Bible did anybody ever address a prayer directly to anybody but God?

          • ardenjm

            Paul directly asks others to pray for him (Rom. 15:30–32, Eph. 6:18–20, Col. 4:3, 1 Thess. 5:25, 2 Thess. 3:1), and he assured them that he was praying for them as well (2 Thess. 1:11). Most fundamentally, Jesus himself required us to pray for others, and not only for those who asked us to do so (Matt. 5:44).

            That’s how Catholics understand intercessionary prayer.
            And the great vision in Revelation 5 vs8 shows what those intercessionary prayers of the saints look like…and how God receives them.

          • This doesn’t answer Anton’s question, which was not about praying FOR someone but praying TO them.

          • Anton

            Exactly!

          • Paul commends us to pray for one another. Revelation 5:8, as was pointed out, shows the prayers of the saints being presented to God. There’s also Revelation 8:3-4.

          • You equivocate with a historical anachronism on the word “saints”, which in New Testament times (e.g. Ephesians 1:2, 3, 12 – but many others too) was used to refer to all the believers in an area, and certainly not to a special class identified by the bishop of Rome after their deaths (an anachronism utterly absurd on many levels).

          • It refers to those already in heaven and those still on earth who are destined for heaven (some via purgatory). It’s called in Catholic theology the “Communion of Saints” and those on earth are members of the “Church Militant” and those in heaven the “Church Triumphant”.

          • Anton

            Yes, but where in the Bible did anybody ever speak a prayer using words that address anybody but God?

          • Albert

            What we do is we ask the saints to pray for us. Your objection has to be that we ask them to pray for us, even though they are (to us) dead.

          • That’s what Anton is asking you about. You ask a special category of dead Christians to do something for you. Where in the Bible does anyone ask a dead Christian to do something for them?

          • Anton

            Albert is saying that Catholics speak “Dear St so-and-so, please pray to God that such-and-such may happen.” Regardless of the legitimacy of that, it’s simply not the form of words they use though.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Read my comment above
            You Are Wrong.

          • Terry Mushroom

            What might be called THE Catholic prayer to a saint, finishes, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen” That, of course, comes from the Hail Mary. That prayer is often said at the end of the Prayers of the Faithful with the introduction, “Let us ask Our Lady to pray with us and for us as we say, Hail Mary…”

            Can you give some example of Catholic prayers to saints that you think are wrong?

          • Anton

            I had no trouble finding a few online last time. Give me a dinner break.

          • Terry Mushroom

            OK.

          • Albert

            Jesus said:

            Have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?
            He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.

            While Hebrews says:

            You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
            [23] and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
            [24] and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.

          • And again I ask – where in those passages do you find an example of someone asking a dead person to do something for them?

            N.B. The context of Hebrews 11 is that of the covenantal significance of the gathered worship of believers, not of personal prayer. And there’s no context of prayer in Jesus’ saying – no encouragement to try to address Abraham, Isaac or Jacob.

            The fact that these are the supposed best demonstrations just demonstrates that the Bible does not teach it.

          • Albert

            Well firstly, where in scripture do you find your doctrine of sola scriptura?

            Secondly, why have you dried up on the Vincent of Lerins front?

            Thirdly, the point is to say that what is true of Christians on earth is true also of Christians in heaven. Thus there is no need for scripture to give such an example. But we know from scripture that prayers can go via created agency to God and that grace can come from God via created agency. So what’s your problem?

          • > Well firstly, where in scripture do you find your doctrine of sola scriptura?

            Everywhere. When authoritatively appeals to the Scripture countless times, nowhere to any council or other body of human beings.

            > Secondly, why have you dried up on the Vincent of Lerins front?

            Because my answers to date are sufficient for someone not already bent on misreading him.
            And, it’s time for me to go now. So don’t expect any more!

            > Thirdly, the point is to say that what is true of Christians on earth is
            true also of Christians in heaven. Thus there is no need for scripture
            to give such an example.

            Thank you. You should just have said at the outset “Scripture never encourages us to do this.”

            > … So what’s your problem?

            See 1. Sola Scriptura. I want to follow God’s certain word, not men’s fallible opinions.

          • Albert

            When authoritatively appeals to the Scripture countless times, nowhere to any council or other body of human beings.

            This sentence is unintelligible, could you correct it please?

            Because my answers to date are sufficient for someone not already bent on misreading him.

            Your answers are sufficient to show that (i) you misunderstand him (your addition of “only” changed entirely the meaning of his passage) (ii) you don’t know everything he said (you use him to rage against development of doctrine little knowing he taught development of doctrine.

            You should just have said at the outset “Scripture never encourages us to do this.”

            But if I had said that, then an objector could have said “But scripture never encourages us to worship the Holy Spirit.” So I decided to show that asking the saints for their prayers follows logically from what scripture says, just as worship of the Holy Spirit does.

            I want to follow God’s certain word, not men’s fallible opinions.

            Could I trouble you for a scripture passage for sola scriptura, please? And how do you know your interpretations of scripture are not misinterpretations?

          • Anton

            That is not the wording you use. I have heard.

          • Albert

            Well, it is what is meant. We believe that the saints are as much with us as our contemporaries. We talk them in an easy and familiar way. When we ask them to do something for us, we do not mean that they have power in themselves to do something, we are asking them to obtain it for us by their prayers.

          • Anton

            Why do you not use words in the way they are normally meant, like Jesus did?

          • Albert

            We do. But like all language, it has to be understood in a context. You Protestants don’t have that context, and some of you are so uncharitable as to desire to find fault instead of understanding, and so these things confuse you.

          • Anton

            You have to say that!

          • Albert

            Yes I do actually. All language works in a context. We know what we are doing, and you assume you know what we are doing. If you are charitable, you will wait to find out what we are doing (even if you don’t agree).

          • Anton

            What makes you think I am discussing it without prior experience?

          • Albert

            If you have sufficient prior experience, then you either know what I am talking about, or you are being dishonest.

          • Anton

            Trouble is, I think the same of you. The prayers to Mary ask HER to do things that only Christ can do. They aren’t phrased as “Dear Mary, please ask God to…” They are phrased like prayers to God but addressed to Mary.

          • Albert

            Trouble is, I think the same of you.

            Except the difference is that I am a Catholic and you are not.

            The prayers to Mary ask HER to do things that only Christ can do. They aren’t phrased as “Dear Mary, please ask God to…”

            Sometimes they do, sometimes not. But the belief is the same regardless.

            The key thing is that Mary’s agency, such as it is, is only what she receives from God. Now how does Mary act? Prayer – I suppose you could add her faithfulness in heaven, but in the end it comes down to her relationship with Jesus. Hence, the prayer that is used most ends “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

          • Anton

            I suspect that Catholics reply that the belief is the same regardless because they know in a jam that it can’t be disproven rather than because they really believe it. They should heed Matt 12:36.

          • Albert

            This is really very obscure. Can you clarify this sentence for me, please:

            I suspect that Catholics reply that the belief is the same regardless

            Which belief is the same as what?

          • ardenjm

            Anton has decided that he knows what Catholics believe better than they do themselves.

            In this he reminds me of those Muslims who, because the Koran tells them the Christian Trinity is The Father, Jesus and Mary fly in to a rage with you for saying the Koran is wrong (it can’t be, for Muslims) or else patronise you and say, “see – we know your beliefs better than you know them yourselves.”

            Anton has much the same spirit.
            Let’s pray that his mind be opened.

          • Albert

            Anton has decided that he knows what Catholics believe better than they do themselves.

            It’s worse than that. He knows what I am thinking better than I do too!

            Anton has much the same spirit.

            Evangelicalism and Islam have this in common: the word is made text, not flesh.

          • Terry Mushroom

            “the word is made text, not flesh” Witty and true. I hope it’s not trademarked!

          • Albert

            I think the original expression was “The word was made flesh and the Evangelicals turned it back into word again.” There’s a cleverer quote from Thiselton on this.

          • CliveM

            I’ve heard it said that the Protestants trinity is Father, Son and Holy Bible.

            Whereas the Catholic trinity if Father, Son and Holy Church.

            Seems to me to be a reasonable summary.

          • Albert

            Is it? I suppose one could say that everything good that happens in the Church is the work of the Holy Spirit. But as this OP shows, Catholics are far too able to criticize their Church for them to be worshipping it. Equally, Protestants are far too slow to believe what the Bible says for them to worship the Bible!

          • Anton

            I was picking up on your same phrase to which I was replying, “the belief is the same regardless.”

          • Albert

            That is really very unclear, because in that case, the rest of the post does not follow.

            The belief that a saint’s agency comes only from God is the same whether or not we actually say “pray for us”. Pray for us, is the most common expression BTW since it occurs in the Hail Mary and whenever a saint in mentioned in prayer. For example, in that context, all a Catholic needs to say is “St Peter” and everyone will respond “pray for us.”

            Right, so now your sentence has been clarified, I am at a loss by the rest of the post:

            I suspect that Catholics reply that the belief is the same regardless because they know in a jam that it can’t be disproven rather than because they really believe it. They should heed Matt 12:36.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Mary is not a deity. No Catholic prays to statues. There is only one deity = God. How many times do you have to be told this. Praying to the Virgin Mary is honouring Jesus’ mother. We ask her to pray to God for us.
            “Holy Mary Mother Of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our end, Amen…” That is phrased as asking God to…

          • len

            Mary is dead.

          • Cressida de Nova

            ..It is true Anton. Protestants are indoctrinated to be anti Catholics from an early age. It is a cultural norm.

          • Anna

            “We believe that the saints are as much with us as our contemporaries. We talk them in an easy and familiar way.”

            Do you also believe that the saints in heaven are omnipresent- unlike the saints on earth?

            1 Timothy 2:5

          • Albert

            No. What do you believe about angels, Anna, are they omnipresent?

          • Anna

            My point is that you can talk to them in that ‘familiar way’ only if they are near you. If dead saints are not omnipresent, how will they hear you?

            God’s angels are everywhere, but none of them are not omnipresent. But then, I do not pray to them.

          • Albert

            Firstly, I think that we need to define present. Present for a body (like a cat) is surely different from present for a spirit (angel). Now I think that spirits are present in two ways, firstly, they can be said to be present because they are acting in a particular space – as when God uses an angel to send a pestilence (2 Sam.24) or a message (the annunciation). Secondly, I think they are present when they hear things or know things are happening because they are contemplating the mind of God (1 Kings 22). This being so, I do not see the problem.

            God’s angels are everywhere, but none of them are not omnipresent.

            Do you mean that? If so, why? What do you think the purpose of your guardian angel is?

          • len

            Catholic doctrine is codswollop

        • That quote is somewhat self-defeating, if you are wanting to defend the position of Rome.

          Two things that the Pope has declared “ex cathedra” (in the 19th century), are the Immaculate Conception, and the Bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven.

          But, these have certainly never been taught with “universality, antiquity, consent”, and are demonstrably modern inventions. Someone dying in 445 had certainly never heard of the “Bodily Assumption of Mary”, so, if we take him at his word, then he would not have believed it. That is demonstrated by Roman Catholic scholar Raymond Brown, whose works carried the Imprimatur, by which Rome stated that they believed he was not promoting any errors.

          There is simply no way to untangle that mass of contradictions, other than to say “the Roman Catholic church teaches errors that should not be believed”.

          • ardenjm

            Hmm. And St Stephen the proto-martyr had ‘never heard’ of the doctrine of homoousias either. Doesn’t stop him from being Catholic and of the same Church as those who articulated Trinitarian dogma centuries later.

            What’s your other than the old worn out protestant ‘private judgement’ one?

          • Your reply is entirely irrelevant to what I said. There is no analogy between someone who has not yet heard of all the teachings (or of all the supposed teachings) of Rome, and someone else who has heard them and then needs to have a method to decide which ones he is required to believe and which ones were erroneous.

          • ardenjm

            Not so. You’re point was the following:
            Someone dying in 445 had not heard of the Assumption of Our Lady and wouldn’t have believed it (although they didn’t have it explained to them so we can’t know that) and then you conclude that they THEREFORE didn’t belong to the same Faith and Church as those who, in subsequent generations did articulate that dogmatic truth but from the same tenets of the same Faith within the same Church.
            In otherwords EXACTLY like St Stephen prior to the great councils of the 4th century. He didn’t know how the Church would articulate those truths of the Faith but he believed them all the same and belonged to the same Church.

            Now you introduce this new configuration with someone existing today who must decide what to believe – especially if there is disagreement. They must believe what is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and if they do that then they ‘think with the Church’. If that still leaves legitimate theological differences then, great! The Church isn’t a political ideology.

            Not only are you wrong. You’re also of bad faith with axes to grind.
            I’ll almost certainly only bother engaging with you one or two more times.

          • You’re having great difficulty following the argument. My point, which has slipped you by, is not about what Vincent should have believed then, but what he would believe if he lived today, assuming that he still held to the belief expressed in his quote.

            * He says that we should only believe things believed in antiquity.

            * The Assumption if Mary was not believed in antiquity.

            * Therefore he would today advise us not to believe it.

            And hence, Terry isn’t doing well in claiming Vincent as a supported of believing whatever today’s Roman Catholic church believes, or as someone who can help us in clarifying what that body of teaching actually *is*.

            And all this plays into my prior statement, that ultimately, every Roman Catholic has to make his own reasoning procedures the final arbiter as to how to weigh up all the competing claims of each doctrine as to whether they should be believed or not.

            It’s always better to seek to further understand your opponent’s argument, before condemning him for bad faith based on your misunderstanding of it.

          • ardenjm

            * He says that we should only believe things believed in antiquity.

            Except Vincent of Lérins doesn’t say this.
            Nova et vetera, remember.

            Strewth. I see I was right about your own belief in your own infallibility.

            But what I’m REALLY curious to know is whether I was also right in saying this:

            “protestant churchlets like the ones you presumably have gone through before culminating in your churchlet of one – since, manifestly, only YOU possess the charism of infallibility and are right in your interepretations.”
            Was I right?
            How many have you infallibly passed through?
            I’m guessing three: The church of your parents you were brought up in. A reaction against your parents’ one. A reaction against that reaction that took you to the church you are now a nominal member of but never bother with really because, in the end, only you are right.

          • > Except Vincent of Lérins doesn’t say this.

            So, Terry misquoted him? (And all the source in Google with the same quote are also wrong?) e.g. http://st-takla.org/books/en/ecf/211/2110244.html

            Your other question makes no sense, except for someone who has previously embraced the Romish paradigm that there is a single organisational/external entity one must belong to which is the sole infallible teacher of truth. But I am a Protestant, and assign that role to the Bible. And as such, the question is an absurd one.

            I have been, and continue to be, happy in several different local representations of the body of Christ, each one being situated in the locality I was/am living in, but none of them making the claim that they were part of the One True Organisation That You Must Belong To ™, except that they belonged to the spiritual body of Jesus Christ because they believed the gospel of free salvation through faith in his name and sought to follow his commandments.

          • ardenjm

            Thanks for the link to:
            St. Takla Haymanout Coptic Orthodox Website
            Coptic Orthodox Church, Egypt
            Very helpful for the Catholic teaching of a Catholic saint….
            Is this more bad faith on your part?
            St Vincent is very helpful and clear: any ‘development’ in doctrine must be in harmony and consonant with what has come before and not contradict it.
            Accordingly: we can speak of the doctrine of Transubstantiation in scholastic theology because Christians always believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But we can’t speak of the Fourth Person of the Trinity because that would contradict the Tradition of the Faith.

            And like I said in my reply to Anton above as regards your various church memberships:
            Since there’s no unified body amongst protestants I’m discinlined to see in it an extension of the Body of Christ that is the Church – other than in the ‘spiritual’ interpretation protestants have long had recourse to which, of course, lacks the full realism of the meaning of the Incarnation: Our Lord, the Word Incarnate, left behind, fittingly, a Church that was as visible as He was – not just the ‘spiritual’ reality (which whilst the more essential) is nevertheless only part of the story of the Incarnation. We are body and soul. So was Our Lord. So is His Church.

          • I thought you said you’d only reply to me once or twice? You appear still to be here?

            Again, you sidestep the question. You claimed that the quote was inaccurate. Whether or not you agree with the theology of one particular website where the book that the quote can be found in is reproduced is totally irrelevant to that. What do you claim the original quote is, and do you have the slightest shred of evidence for claiming that every Internet source carrying the above quote has altered the original?

          • ardenjm

            “You claimed that the quote was inaccurate.”
            Your use of it is skewed.
            I’ve corrected your skewery.

          • You did not correct anything (which would have required evidence) – you merely said what you would *like* to be true.

            More of the context of the quote: “This rule we shall observe if we follow universality,
            antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one
            faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world
            confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations
            which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and
            fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to
            the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least
            of almost all priests and doctors.”

            By which it is manifestly plain that this Nicene Father, if he were here today, would, as I have argued, tell us that the the doctrine of Bodily Assumption of Mary is not to be believed.

          • You need to demonstrate where it contradicts or departs from any previous teaching and/or scripture. The understanding of biblical revelation can and does develop.

          • You expressly contradict what he says. He says that it must be “manifest” that it was “notoriously” held. That is the opposite of your standard that it must merely not contradict.

          • He actually says the teaching must “in no ways depart” from previously held teachings. As Jack said, you must demonstrate this.

          • You do not need to choose “in no ways depart” to cancel “manifest … notoriously”. The two are entirely complementary. Your problem is that you need the former to cancel the latter.

          • Sorry, there’s a breakdown in your logic if you’re trying to separate those two clauses. It clearly means the Church should not contradict established doctrine. It doesn’t prohibit the development of doctrine or Divinely inspired revelations about how to more profoundly understand scripture.

          • “It clearly means” no such thing. The section nowhere mentions the concept of mere contradiction. Everywhere it requires explicit support.

          • Albert

            Were you aware of his beliefs about development of doctrine when you wrote that?

          • Sarky

            Sorry but i find the thought of christian requiring evidence deeply ironic.

          • Then your understanding of Christian belief is very poor.

          • Sarky

            No its not.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Evidence, please!

          • Sarky

            I was brought up in a christian family and attended church until i was 18. So i have a pretty good understanding of christian faith.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Which one? Plenty of disagreement on here today?

          • Sarky

            Baptists.

          • Anton

            Er, when I reminded you of a fairly basic point of doctrine a few weeks ago you freely accepted that you were unaware (no longer aware?) of it.

          • Sarky

            Ive been out of the church for over 25 years, i cant be expected to remember everything!!

          • cagedvole

            hahahahahahahahahaha
            that gave me a literal L.O.L. – Sarky cuts to the chase 🙂
            Jack & co have been making basically the same riposte multiple times, only clothed in flummery. Economy rules :-p

          • ardenjm

            “By which it is manifestly plain that this Nicene Father, if he were here today, would, as I have argued, tell us that the the doctrine of Bodily Assumption of Mary is not to be believed.”

            Not so.
            You’re trying to preserve the Church in aspic. Is there ANYTHING in the doctrine of the bodily assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary that contradicts the Athanasian Creed and the Faith of the Church? Of course not.
            This is why the Assumption was received throughout the Catholic world – and indeed as the Dormition in the Orthodox world – for centuries prior to the Dogmatic proclamation.
            So, no, you are, again, quite wrong.
            St Vincent of Lérins died c445AD
            Within 6 years of his death this was the response given to a question at the Council of Chalcedon. You reckon the Patriarch just made up the response on the spot? You reckon this wasn’t a pious tradition from long before – before even St Vincent? We can’t say for sure but it certainly seems more plausible than your warped version of events:

            At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when bishops from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered in Constantinople, Emperor Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of Mary to Constantinople to be enshrined in the capitol. The patriarch explained to the emperor that there were no relics of Mary in Jerusalem, that “Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven.”

          • Albert

            Properly to understand St Vincent, we need to see everything he says:

            Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly, there is to be development and on the largest scale.

            Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God, as to try to prevent it? But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another.

            Thus is famous Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est must be open to development of doctrine.

            For myself, I think that makes it quite hard to use in practice.

          • If your “understanding” of Vincent is that, when he said that we should only believe was manifestly, explicitly and universally taught in antiquity, can actually mean that Rome can, over a millennia later, teach as dogma doctrines that nobody in antiquity taught (e.g. the Assumption of Mary), then you have not “understood” him; you have rejected him.

          • Albert

            If your “understanding” of Vincent is that, when he said that we should only believe was manifestly, explicitly and universally taught in antiquity

            But he doesn’t say that, does he? He says

            we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all

            There’s no “only” there.

            and

            Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly, there is to be development and on the largest scale.

            Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God, as to try to prevent it? But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another.

            Put the two things together and he clearly isn’t saying what you say he says.

          • ardenjm

            Which is precisely why you won’t get an honest answer from David Anderson and, more importantly, he shall shift the goalposts.
            He reminds me of the Dwarves in the Stable at the end of CS Lewis’s The Last Battle: utterly closing their mind to anything other than what they’ve predetermined.

          • Albert

            Quite. David has made me articulate Albert’s First Law:

            The strength of an Evangelical’s hatred of Catholicism is inversely proportional to his grasp of the issues.

          • “Put the two things together and he clearly isn’t saying what you say he says.”

            I observe that people often say “clearly” to substitute for a complete lack of any such clarity. That’s what you *want* to be clear, but you’ve given no argument as to *why* it’s clear. Here’s the context of the quotes you mention: http://www.ewtn.com/v/experts/showmessage_print.asp?number=484982&language=en . In context, he speaks of the development of previously known truths. If you can find the “Bodily Assumption of Mary” as a development of a previously known truth that meets the standard of his first quotation, then ultimately his words mean everything and nothing: you’ll be able to fit anything that wasn’t previously explicitly rejected in as a possible development. In 2000 years time, it could be taught that Mary was created at the beginning of the world, and it be claimed that this is a legitimate development of the doctrine of the Virgin Birth just in the way that the Bodily Assumption is a supposed development, with equal legitimacy.

          • Albert

            I observe that people often say “clearly” to substitute for a complete lack of any such clarity.

            He doesn’t use the word “only” but he does speak of development. Therefore, he clearly cannot mean what you say he means. This much follows from logic. If the logic of that argument is not clear to you, then I there is nothing more to be said.

            Secondly, as I said right at the beginning, I am not at all clear how useful Vincent is to us, so I don’t need to be held by what is purported to be his standard.

            In context, he speaks of the development of previously known truths. If you can find the “Bodily Assumption of Mary” as a development of a previously known truth that meets the standard of his first quotation, then ultimately his words mean everything and nothing: you’ll be able to fit anything that wasn’t previously explicitly rejected in as a possible development.

            That doesn’t follow at all. What God does in developing doctrine in the Church is maintain the relationships and realities that were present from the beginning. If you want a defence of the Assumption, I would begin with the incarnation (I can do it if you want, but I doubt your sincerity TBH).

            In 2000 years time, it could be taught that Mary was created at the beginning of the world, and it be claimed that this is a legitimate development of the doctrine of the Virgin Birth just in the way that the Bodily Assumption is a supposed development, with equal legitimacy.

            That also does not follow. How can you draw such conclusions before you hear any explanation for the things on which you base your arguments? As I said earlier:

            I sometimes think that the real failing of Protestants is their lack of logic.

          • Except, as Albert has demonstrated, this is not what Vincent actually said. Is this how you interpret scripture too?

          • Terry Mushroom

            Thanks for adding that! Saved me the trouble!

          • Albert

            David’s quite a laugh, isn’t he? He seems to confirm to the law that “The strength of an Evangelical’s hatred of Catholicism is inversely proportional to his grasp of the issues.”

            Can we call that “Albert’s Law”?

          • Cressida de Nova

            Yes

          • Ah, the trick of imputing “hate” or a phobia to someone, once your arguments against their reasoning runs out. Which movement have you borrowed that one from?

          • Albert

            So to be clear: you don’t hate Catholicism?

            Secondly, it will be obvious even to those who disagree with me that I have hardly run out of reasoning.

          • Ah! Repartee!

            According to Albert’s law, my hatred of Catholicism is inversely proportional to my grasp of the issues.

            And thus, it is exceedingly small. Unless Albert’s law is wrong?

          • Albert

            You have no grasp of the issues, therefore your hatred is strong.

          • Bah. And I thought you were going to come back with something witty.

          • Albert

            Have you given up arguing on the substantive issues?

          • len

            What a weird statement?

          • Albert

            It’s a weird phenomenon.

          • Anna

            “David’s quite a laugh, isn’t he?”

            No. He has been thoroughly logical and unfailingly polite. If you disagree, then expose the weakness of his arguments.

          • Albert

            I think I have, repeatedly. He’s misused Vincent by (i) added the word “only” (Protestants seem to like adding words like that) and (ii) failing to notice that Vincent accept development of doctrine. And he has repeatedly rushed to conclusions of condemnation of Catholicism without waiting to hear the defences explanations, and oftentimes, corrections of his assumptions. That’s not logical. That’s special pleading. You may regard it as polite, but it is certainly unjust.

          • Anna

            “I think I have, repeatedly.” Not convincingly, I’m afraid, though you have made a valiant effort!

            “…but it is certainly unjust.”
            He has accurately pinpointed the weakness of those explanations.

          • Albert

            Really? I must have missed that. Could you give show me where?

          • len

            Albert’s Law is ‘if you disagree with me you are in the wrong’
            Simples.
            Dangerous philosophy though because if you are in error you cannot be corrected even by God Himself.
            But that’s Catholicism .

          • Albert

            Albert’s Law is ‘if you disagree with me you are in the wrong’
            Simples.

            Which, as anyone literate can see is not Albert’s Law, neither is it something that can be deduced from Albert’s Law. It is however something that could be said of many Protestants, with the following change:

            ‘if you disagree with my interpretation of scripture you are in the wrong’

            Dangerous philosophy though because if you are in error you cannot be corrected even by God Himself.
            But that’s Protestantism.

          • Anton

            The Catholic scholar Eamon Duffy has stated that “there is, clearly, no historical evidence whatever for” Mary’s Assumption (What Catholics Believe About Mary, published by the Catholic Truth Society, 1989, p.17). For a scholarly summary of the earliest traditions and manuscripts about Mary’s fate, see “Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption” by Stephen J. Shoemaker (2003). The texts discussed by Shoemaker are the start of the tradition behind Pius XII’s ‘infallible’ declaration of 1950. Time does not validate an inauthentic tradition, however. Shoemaker’s more recent book “Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion” (2016) shows clearly that the origins of the cult of Mary lay in Gnosticism: she is said to have been given esoteric salvific knowledge by Christ.

          • IanCad

            Although the doctrine of the Trinity is alluded to in the OT you are correct in that it is not specifically taught – perhaps plainly taught would be more accurate – at least as far as I know.

            What is for sure is that Christ taught and declared it, and Stephen would have learned it by word of mouth.

            I don’t think you can use Stephen as support for modern ex cathedra, and extra biblical, Catholic doctrines.

          • ardenjm

            I was referring specifically to the theological articulation of the Faith.
            But in any case, for the developments-in-continuity-with-tradition of St Vincent of Lérins as understood within the Catholic Church’s history. The modern ex cathedra statements are to do with Our Lady. I’m not sure they are extra biblical. And let’s not forget that the Bible of Protestantism is a rejection of the Bible as established by the Church. Moreover the ‘reading’ of certain passages is more than consonant with the Church’s declarations of Faith. It’s just that protestants by and large reject that interpretation (surprise, surprise). So it is with Revelation 12-13 for example and the Woman clothed with the Sun which the Church reads to be Israel, Church and, most concretely, The Blessed Virgin. It is, in short, a proof text for the Assumption that the Church used many centuries before the dogma was defined. If you care to go to Stowe School near Silverstone, for example, you’ll find one of the only medieval Churches (now Anglican) dedicated to The Assumption centuries prior to the ex cathedra statement.
            As a Catholic I’m neither embarrassed nor puzzled by this.
            Our Lord is clear, after all:
            However when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak from Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. John 16vs13

          • IanCad

            _—Bible of Protestantism is a rejection of the Bible as established by the Church”

            Now, we are miles apart here; particularly with your assertion that the Woman clothed with the Sun is Mary. Further, the inventiveness behind the elevation of the Virgin Mary to parity with Christ depended to a large degree upon the ignorance and credulity of those poor souls subjected to the blandishments of priestcraft.

            It goes back centuries. Adding to, and subtracting from, the words of scripture:

            https://catholicismpure.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/saint-alphonsus-liguori-on-the-assumption-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary/

          • The Church has not elevated Mary to parity with Christ. Scripture isn’t a “dead” text and Christ’s Church has been entrusted to reveal its treasures.

          • IanCad

            Seems like it to me with such abominations as, “Co-Remptress,” or, “Mary – Ark of The Covenant”

          • It’s Co-Redemptrix and is not a doctrine, although Catholics can believe this. The second is an analogy.

          • By asserting that in John 16, Jesus was talking about a single hierarchical organisational entity, head-quartered in Rome, was going to be guided into all truth, you are begging the question.

      • Albert

        No it doesn’t because that isn’t the position. This is what I said:

        there is no requirement for Catholics to believe what is inferred to be a pope’s opinions. A Catholic must believe what the Church teaches, but that is a different matter.

        An inference of the pope’s private opinion is not Catholic teaching. If you’re serious about taking us on, you need to understand our positions before you say such things. I grew up as a Protestant, and studied theology as a Protestant. I know the misunderstandings Protestants have about Catholicism, because I had them myself.

        • When the Pope stands up and teaches the church, and you respond by rebranding what he has just taught as “the Pope’s private opinion”, you have gone through a mental process by which you made a judgment which the Pope disagrees with. But to other Catholics, the Pope’s teaching on that occasion was the Pope’s teaching, not merely a private opinion. So, the final criteria of decision was not something in the Catholic church, but in yourself.

          • Albert

            When the Pope stands up and teaches the church, and you respond by rebranding what he has just taught as “the Pope’s private opinion”, you have gone through a mental process by which you made a judgment which the Pope disagrees with.

            No. You need to calm down, stop trying to reach the conclusion you have already determined you want, and actually look at what is being said. Here’s my original quote (I don’t know why I keep having to provide it, but there we are):

            there is no requirement for Catholics to believe what is inferred to be a pope’s opinions. A Catholic must believe what the Church teaches, but that is a different matter.

            In other words, the pope says X or perhaps doesn’t say Y. Therefore, a journalist infers the Pope’s own view is Z. Now if a Catholic refuses to believe Z, he isn’t denying the Pope’s teaching because the Pope isn’t teaching Z. So I then continue:

            A Catholic must believe what the Church teaches, but that is a different matter.

            So if the Pope then teaches Z a Catholic must accept Z according to the degree of authority with which he has taught Z. But if Z is just his supposed private opinion, then there is no requirement to believe it. Thus your whole argument is completely wrong-headed.

          • Anna

            “So if the Pope then teaches Z a Catholic must accept Z according to the degree of authority with which he has taught Z…”

            A few questions:
            1. Who decides about ‘the degree of authority’ of each of the Pope’s teachings?
            2. Isn’t the one who makes such decisions on the Pope’s authority using his/her own judgment?
            3. Is he/she above the Pope, since, he/she can make such assessments on the validity of his teachings?
            4. “Christians should be taught that the Pope, by authority of his jurisdiction, is superior to the entire Catholic Church and its councils, and that they should humbly obey his statutes.” I am sure you know who said this. Do Catholics today agree or disagree with this statement?

          • Albert

            1. Who decides about ‘the degree of authority’ of each of the Pope’s teachings?

            Ultimately the Pope, although he would take advice. For example, before he gave an infallible declaration in 1950, he consulted the college of bishops.

            2. Isn’t the one who makes such decisions on the Pope’s authority using his/her own judgment?

            Humanly speaking, yes.

            3. Is he/she above the Pope, since, he/she can make such assessments on the validity of his teachings?

            I don’t follow. Are you saying “Is the Pope above the Pope?” if so, no. But I think there’s a misconception lurking in the background here. The Pope decides the degree of authority for a particular pronouncement, he does not assess the authority of the pronouncement afterwards – this is simply given, and it binds him too.

            4. “Christians should be taught that the Pope, by authority of his jurisdiction, is superior to the entire Catholic Church and its councils, and that they should humbly obey his statutes.” I am sure you know who said this. Do Catholics today agree or disagree with this statement?

            It’s lacking in nuance, and the idea that the Pope is superior to the Catholic Church is clearly wrong, since the Pope is part of the Church. Moreover, it gives no space for different types of pronouncements. Why go back to Tetzel when you can just quote what the Church herself teaches?

          • Anna

            Your answers are rather confusing. You suggest that an individual Catholic must decide according to the degree of authority with which the Pope has spoken; so one imagines either they must use their own private understanding, in the manner of the protestants, to arrive at a conclusion or there is an external authority to help them make this decision. But then you say that the Pope himself is the one who must decide how authoritative he is in each instance. This makes the Pope appear to have a sort of split personality, one coming up with an official pronouncements, and another pontificating on its validity!

            Are you saying “Is the Pope above the Pope? No, you are!

            “…the idea that the Pope is superior to the Catholic Church is clearly wrong, since the Pope is part of the Church.”

            This, I agree, is a perfectly logical position and Martin Luther’s own position on the matter.

          • Albert

            Your answers are rather confusing. You suggest that an individual Catholic must decide according to the degree of authority with which the Pope has spoken

            This is where I thought there was a mistaken assumption. The authority of the statement is actually stated so we know. The Pope is the person who decides which level of authority he will give to a pronouncement.

            This makes the Pope appear to have a sort of split personality, one coming up with an official pronouncements, and another pontificating on its validity!

            No, because the pontificating on its validity as you put it, is given prior to the pronouncement. He doesn’t say X and then think to himself “I think that was infallible”.

          • Anna

            More confused than ever. Thank God for the simplicity of the scriptures. The fact that its every word is authoritative and can be trusted gives such confidence and security to the believer.

          • Albert

            What is so confusing? If the Pope is going to say something infallibly, he will say so: e.g.: by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: then follows the proposition.

            I wonder which Bible people are reading when they say the scriptures are simple. Do they not say themselves:

            So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

            and

            And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables;
            so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven.”

          • Anna

            Simple enough for the Christian believer… not for those outside the Kingdom as Christ Himself testified.

          • Albert

            Yes, sure, but how do you go from one to the other, given that you might be unstable? Why does Peter say Paul is hard to understand? It is to the apostles that the secret is given, thus, it is through the apostolic Church that one hears the faith. It cannot come by private judgement for

            you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.

          • Anna

            There are indeed some things which Paul wrote- 1 Corinthians 7:36-38 and 1 Corinthians 15:29 come to mind. I would be interested to know what the RC church makes of these verses. But on the whole, the gospel message is very clear and there is little ambiguity.

            For the Holy Spirit bears witness with the believer’s spirit about things pertaining to salvation and righteousness (Romans 8:14-16, John 16:8), and Christians will, if they are truly saved and belong to the flock of God, know His voice and not be easily misled. We need guidance, of course, but our main guide is the Holy Spirit illuminating scripture and bearing witness with our spirit. This is why the apostle John said that we do not need anyone to teach us (1 John 2:27). All these things are in scripture and I fully believe they are true.

            If on the other hand, if you depend on institutions to guide you, then you can get things seriously wrong as history has proven. I could give examples, but it will only cause offence, and take to debate to another direction. (It is rather daunting to get into discussions with some of the Catholics here. The words that are flung in your direction are not very Christian; but they are an excellent way to silence debate – perhaps an art perfected over centuries!) Anyway, coming back to topic, Christ has no privileged body among believers who will hear His special secrets – His sheep will hear His voice (John 10:27). This is Christ’s own promise.

          • Albert

            1 Corinthians 7:36-38 and 1 Corinthians 15:29

            I would have thought both passages were fairly clear, actually! What problem do you have?

            But on the whole, the gospel message is very clear and there is little ambiguity.

            The doctrine of justification has caused endless difficulty (although it must be said, relatively little difficulty until Luther – prior to that, there was large agreement, so it may just be the distortions of the Protestant Reformation). But other questions from scripture are hard: the Trinity, the incarnation, sacraments, the nature of the Church, then there is the problem of the canon itself. On only has to look at the fractured state of Protestantism to see scripture can’t be easy.

            For the Holy Spirit bears witness with the believer’s spirit about things pertaining to salvation and righteousness

            I don’t think anyone will deny that all Christians know that they are saved by Christ, but what salvation is is clearly something some Christians don’t seem to agree on. Is it infused or merely imputed? Is righteousness consistent with being a sinner or are those two states contrary to each other?

            We need guidance, of course, but our main guide is the Holy Spirit illuminating scripture and bearing witness with our spirit.

            The trouble is that you can very easily confuse the movements of your own spirit with that of the Holy Spirit and divided Protestantism shows there must be a difference.

            This is why the apostle John said that we do not need anyone to teach us (1 John 2:27).

            This passage cannot mean what you take it to mean, for if it did, there would be no need for teachers in the Church, and no need for 1 John. My guess is that the anointing refers to the whole teaching, not just a gift of the Holy Spirit – after all, without such teaching, one could not have that gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus 1 John 2.27 does not do away with the need for faithful teaching.

            All these things are in scripture

            All these words are in scripture, but what is their meaning? Of course you will say that you know the meaning owing to the fact that you have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and anyone who disagrees with you hasn’t. But of course, they may say the same thing. And in the end the authority ceases to be scripture, but how people feel about it.

            On the other hand, if you depend on institutions to guide you, then you can get things seriously wrong as history has proven. I could give examples, but it will only cause offence, and take to debate to another direction.

            No, most likely you will show another misunderstanding – as here. A Catholic does not depend on a institution. He depends on Christ’s promises to his Church, the pillar and bulwark of the truth which is his body, the fullness of him who wills all in all. And he does this in part because he recognizes that it is dangerous to depend on the individual, and the individual’s feelings that the Holy Spirit is guiding him. There are after all, plenty of examples of that going wrong.

            Anyway, coming back to topic, Christ has no privileged body among believers who will hear His special secrets – His sheep will hear His voice (John 10:27). This is Christ’s own promise.

            On the contrary, there is the body of the Church, which is his body. And it is clear that those who believe in him may break away from that Church:

            “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

            Just believing in Jesus is not sufficient to be in his Church – that much is certain, for to make that claim is deny his own words.

          • Anna

            Justification by faith is only difficult to understand, only if you have some previous doctrinal bias. I say this because when I first committed my life to Christ, I had little knowledge of the Bible beyond some OT stories, the gospels and psalms. Reading the epistles for the first time was indeed difficult. Interestingly, the Orthodox priest (he had a PhD in theology), whom I approached with my questions, directed me to some Protestant commentaries. The explanations were clear and straightforward. Generally speaking, I reject expositions which diverge too much from the plain meaning of the text. I don’t dwell too much – I find it fruitless to do so – on whether faith without works will save you, because I believe the only evidence for faith are works. It is perhaps more certain that works without faith are useless. Any Christian must be taught the importance of faith, and also taught to grow in maturity as Christians displaying the fruit of the Spirit and doing good works. I couldn’t, and still don’t, understand what the quarrel is all about – I find it silly. My difficulties with RCC, as I mentioned before, are in other areas, such as the presence of graven images in the church, the Rosary prayers and similar, which diverge too much from anything the OT prophets, Christ Himself or the apostles taught, or practised. Even Muslims and Hindus see this as idolatry. Such concepts are not clearly and plainly expressed in scripture and they are justified by a series of convoluted arguments; so I feel it is safer not to receive such teaching. If we are wrong, and the RCC is right, even Catholics, at least the ones I have spoken to, see such practices, as not being essential to salvation, but as ‘extras’.

            “A Catholic… recognizes that it is dangerous to depend on the individual, and the individual’s feelings that the Holy Spirit is guiding him.” My reply is that we have Christ’s own promise that His sheep will hear His voice, and the apostle’s explanation for it is simple and straightforward. He was addressing Christians at all levels of maturity. We must, as we mature in the Christian life learn to discern His voice. I know Charismatic Catholics who tell me that they have this experience – some have left the RCC, and some have remained. The difference between Charismatic RCs and others is that the former have had the ‘born again’ experience – a Catholic friend whose life was completely transformed described it as his ‘God encounter’- and the fruits of the Spirit are evident in their lives. I remember being taught the 4 ‘tools’ for a believer to discern God’s guidance – the scriptures, inward nudging of the Spirit, counsel of the saints and providential circumstances. Reason and tradition are important, but Christ warned about putting too much confidence in either. Paul advised believers to reject teaching that does not align with the gospel he preached. So how could we possibly ignore all these warnings to embrace teaching that has no scriptural basis?

            I would like to leave the topic on divisions in the Protestant Church for another day, if at all. I rarely have time for very long posts, and indeed, I am no longer comfortable discussing Catholic topics on this blog. The rudeness and insults from a couple of RCs here have put me off – they do not sadly, give a very good testimony for the RC faith. This, however, makes me grateful to the others, like you, who remain courteous in discussions. Thank you.

          • Albert

            Justification by faith is only difficult to understand if you have some previous doctrinal bias.

            I agree. But then I believe in justification by faith. What I don’t believe in, is justification by faith alone. This doctrine is never found in scripture (except when it is rejected). It leads to absurd conclusions which are also rejected by scripture (e.g. that one is righteous and a sinner at the same time – like saying something is a square and a triangle at the same time). Thus, one only accepts the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone, and rejects the biblical doctrine of justification by faith, is you have some previous doctrinal bias.

            The explanations were clear and straightforward.

            And how many Catholic explanations did you read? I say this because as a Protestant, I could see how sola fide fitted with some texts, but not with others.

            Generally speaking, I reject expositions which diverge too much from the plain meaning of the text

            So why do you take

            You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

            to mean

            You see that a man is justified by faith alone and not by faith and works?

            And

            He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

            to mean

            He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments tells the truth and the truth is in him;

            And

            Not every one 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.

            to mean

            every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven

            You say

            on whether faith without works will save you, because I believe the only evidence for faith are works. It is perhaps more certain that works without faith are useless. Any Christian must be taught the importance of faith, and also taught to grow in maturity as Christians displaying the fruit of the Spirit and doing good works. I couldn’t, and still don’t, understand what the quarrel is all about – I find it silly.

            Which is really interesting, because what you have just said is really perfectly Catholic (albeit perhaps falling slightly short of Catholic teaching). But if you think it is a silly discussion, why is it sufficiently important for Protestants to break from the rest of the Church over, for this is the key breaking point of the Protestant Reformation? For Jesus says:

            I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one

            You say

            My difficulties with RCC, as I mentioned before, are in other areas, such as the presence of graven images in the church, the Rosary prayers and similar, which diverge too much from anything the OT prophets, Christ Himself or the apostles taught, or practised.

            But hang on a minute. Does not the OT say:

            And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

            And

            And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.

            And the Lord of course endorses all this – explicitly the serpent.

            And finally

            He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation;

            You say

            Such concepts are not clearly and plainly stated in scripture (as being acceptable), and they are justified by a series of convoluted arguments; so I feel it is safer not to receive such teaching.

            The images clearly are stated in the NT. But again, the Bible never says doctrines to be accepted must be plainly stated in the scripture – indeed, if anything, scripture says the opposite and convoluted arguments are requires to deal with this problem from a Protestant point of view. For Catholics, it’s not the scripture that God reveals, but himself in Jesus Christ. And it is not doctrine that is primarily revealed, as a relationship with himself. This is fully present from the beginning, but it surpasses human understanding and therefore expression. However, it remains in the Church for ever, and so the Church is always able to deepen her understanding of the revelation once given to the saints, for it is present for ever.

            If we are wrong, and the RCC is right – even Catholics, at least the ones I have spoken to, see such practices, as not being essential to salvation, but as ‘extras’.

            The legitimacy of images is de fide for Catholics, since it speaks of the incarnation.

            My reply is that we have Christ’s own promise that His sheep will hear His voice, and the apostle’s explanation for it is simple and straightforward. He was addressing Christians at all levels of maturity. We must, as we mature in the Christian life learn to discern His voice.

            Certainly, but how does he speak?

            But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?

            So firstly, we receive the faith through preaching – that is, from the Church. Then we are not left but rather, scripture repeatedly speaks of the Church having teachers. If we just have a privatised hearing of Jesus, why would there be teachers in the Church? And why would scripture warn us

            So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

            Surely Peter is addressing and warning Christians here – and it would fit with the passages about teachers. Together with

            to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

            It is the Church as a whole that is led, and there is nothing about individuals having a sufficient grasp by themselves to be able to discern which church has the true doctrine. After all, you say the discussion about sola fide is silly. Say that to Martin – for him it is central to everything. And yet you both believe you are led by the same spirit.

            I know Charismatic Catholics who tell me that they have this experience of being guided by the Holy Spirit – some have left the RCC, and some have remained. The difference between Charismatic RCs and others is that the former have had the ‘born again’ experience – a Catholic friend whose life was completely transformed described it as his ‘God encounter’- and the fruits of the Spirit are evident in their lives. I remember being taught the 4 ‘tools’ for a believer to discern God’s guidance – the scriptures, inward nudging of the Spirit, counsel of saints and providential circumstances.

            My fear is that this sort of thing places far too much emphasis on feelings at the expense of visible apostolic teaching. It also fails to make the key distinction between feeling certain and being right – which both appear as the same feeling, even though they are different.

            Paul advised believers to reject teaching that does not align with the gospel he preached. So how can we safely ignore all these warnings to embrace teaching that has no scriptural basis?

            But this is the irony. I do not hold that the doctrines whereby the Protestants depart from Catholicism, have a sound scriptural basis. I really do not believe that anyone reading the scripture afresh would find either sola scriptura or sola fide there. I never did, except sola fide when I was very young and my first scripture teacher taught it to me. But I remember even then doubting it because every page seemed to deny it. But in contrast, I think that Catholic teaching does have a sound scriptural basis – certainly within a on- sola scriptura context.

            The rudeness and insults from a couple of other RCs here have put me off – they are not, sadly, a very good testimony for the RC faith. This, however, makes me grateful to the others, like you, who remain courteous in discussions. Thank you.

            This is kind of you to say, and I am sorry that Catholics are sometimes rude. Protestants are too! I think what all this shows is that the faith still really matters to us. And in a world of secular indifference, I find that that, at least is a cause for joy and hope. Thank you for writing so courteously.

          • ardenjm

            Except Luther called him the Antichrist and the Church the Whore of Babylon.
            So, you know, I think his position shifted as he moved away from his Catholicism to his heresy, no?

            Sorry about that.

    • Cressida de Nova

      Catholics should know what Catholic doctrine is if they have had a Catholic education. It is clear and comprehensive. Protestants want to believe that we are not permitted to have independent opinions. In fact we are encouraged to develop our cerebral acuity. Of course this does not suit the Protestant myopic line

  • bluedog

    At the risk of sounding blimpish, Francis is rapidly emerging as the leading lefty in the West. Before G20 he was expressing concern that not enough emphasis would be put into resettling migrants (Muslims) in the West. He compares the US to North Korea, he demands a federal structure in Europe and he’s a climate change zealot. Is he Jeremy Corbyn in vestments?

    No wonder he has divided his church, Francis is vying with Welby and Sentamu when it comes to taking political positions calculated to infuriate their respective flocks. Meanwhile the threat of Islam grows by the day, yet the Christian leaders either look the other way (Welby) or welcome the diversity (Bergoglio).

  • len

    As the church slides into apostasy the danger is that many Christians will look at the Church and see a weak ,disorganised, church’ fudging’ important issues in a vain attempt to be ‘relevant’ to an ever secularised public and simply walk away from the church.

    In itself not necessarily a bad thing but the danger is that they might walk away from Christ thinking Christ only exists within’ a church setting’.

    Christ IS the Rock on which all a Christians beliefs are fulfilled.

    The church may be a house on shifting sand but Christ does not change

    .Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)

  • The Roman Catholic church has a doctrine that its Pope is infallible. Roman Catholic apologists will quickly clarify that this does not mean that everything he says on any subject is infallible. It is, they say, only when he is speaking ‘ex cathedra’ that he is infallible.

    This leads to the question: when has the Pope spoken ‘ex cathedra’? It would seem like rather an important question, since rather a lot of Internet Roman Catholic apologists are happy to say that they disagree with plenty of what plenty of Popes have said (do you believe in the righteousness of the Crusades?). Unfortunately, the Vatican has never answered this question, as to what are the things that are infallible and which the faithful must believe or be guilty of rejecting the Word of God. Some Catholics have attempted to draw up lists, to fill in this gap. But they don’t agree. And, of course, even if they did, none of these lists has been pronounced by the Pope to be infallible. So it’s mere conjecture (or a matter for Protestant private judgment) as to whether any of these lists is accurate or not.

    So, if a sincere Catholic, who in their conscience wants to make sure that they are rejecting all the obvious nonsense that Popes speak, but not avoiding anything that a Pope has spoken infallibly… well, unfortunately there’s no infallible list of what those things might be. So, however much he wants to… he just can’t. Maybe in the year 3014 a future Pope will get round to it to help him?

    Conclusion: The doctrine of Papal infallibility is just apologetic propaganda.

    • ardenjm

      Err. No.
      Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Our Lady are the only two pronouncements the Church claims are de fide and guaranteed by the Pope’s ‘affirming the brethren’ office with the guarantee from error of the Holy Spirit as the farewell discourse of Our Lord at the Last Supper as recounted in St John’s Gospel reveals to us.
      And as to what prior pronouncements should be understood as exercising that same charism delineated at Vatican I there are several other statements. None of which would be controversial to anyone who recites the Athanasian Creed nor with an orthodox and Catholic understanding of the Petrine ministry. I appreciate that this is sometimes difficult for someone brought up on Protestant ‘apologetic propaganda’.
      Mind how you go.

      • “Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Our Lady are the only two pronouncements”

        Er, no. That there are only these two, is merely your private opinion, not a church teaching. However, (source: https://www.quora.com/How-many-times-has-the-Pope-spoken-ex-cathedra ) – “many commentators refer to the list produced in 1985 by the theologian Dr Klaus Schatz SJ”, whereupon follows a list of seven, not of two.

        So, you have an in-house Catholic debate (on the one side, a doctor of theology among the Jesuits, on the other side, you – who are you, by the way?) who disagree on the question. Could you come back later when you’ve decided it between yourselves?

        • ardenjm

          St Vincent of Lérins me old china.

          Now get off your hobby horse before the incipient relativism of private judgement crushes you under the weight of its own incoherency.
          Divergent views in the Catholic Church are too common to mention. Why the Dominican-Jesuit tussles over Molinist Middle Science and predestination are STILL not resolved. The question is: what are the parameters within which these discussions take place. In that respect the good jesuit (yes they do exist) Schatz and myself might disagree on a whole number of things whilst still being both of us orthodox Catholics in good standing with the Church. It has always been thus.
          Where it becomes untenable is when there are contradictions in the teaching that defy dogma. For example (I’ll just randomly select one):
          A former Archbishop of Canterbury saying it’s heresy not to ordain women to the priesthood and other Bishops saying it would be heresy to do so. THAT’S the kind of thing that creates yet more protestant churchlets like the ones you presumably have gone through before culminating in your churchlet of one – since, manifestly, only YOU possess the charism of infallibility and are right in your interepretations.
          All of them.

          You’re just monomaniacally trying to create a division based on a notion of ecclesial unity which is erroneous from the get go.

          Next!

          • Anton

            OK. Would you kindly take up your differences with the Eastern Orthodox and then let us protestants know the outcome?

          • ardenjm

            Well, now, to be fair, Anton, whilst there are many national Orthodox Churches they do share most nearly every theological belief amongst themselves and the vast majority of those beliefs with us Catholics.
            I agree, that still makes for several dozen (particularly fractious) interlocutors.
            And at least the Popes, Patriarchs, Archimandrites and Bishops can sit down as authoritative representatives of their churches.
            But which of the 10,000 Protestant churchlets would you have us dialogue with since they are predicated on the premise that if you disagree you go and start a new churchlet? There is no, “telling the protestants” anything because there is no unified body of ‘protestantism’.
            Since there’s no unified body I’m discinlined to see in it an extension of the Body of Christ that is the Church – other than in the ‘spiritual’ interpretation protestants have long had recourse to which, of course, lacks the full realism of the meaning of the Incarnation: Our Lord, the Word Incarnate, left behind, fittingly, a Church that was as visible as He was – not just the ‘spiritual’ reality which whilst the more essential is nevertheless only part of the story of the Incarnation.

          • Anton

            I see that you don’t bother to verify your sources. The basis of your wildly incorrect claim that there are tens of thousands of protestant denominations is presumably the World Christian Encyclopedia compiled by David Barrett in 1982, which listed some 25,000. Its second edition (Oxford Univ Press, 2001) refers to 33000+ total Christian denominations. BUT it defines the word ‘denomination’ as an organised Christian group within a specific country. That is an eccentric use of the word, for denominations run across national borders. As there are several hundred countries (and as smaller denominations are not represented in all of them) we should divide the figure of 25,000 by about 100. This gives a few hundred genuine denominations, consistent with the list recorded in Wikipedia:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations_by_number_of_members

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations

            As you are content to quote this number, may I take it that you are content to regard the Roman Catholic church as 300 denominations, since it is represented in some 300 countries?

          • ardenjm

            Nope. Because those several hundred protestant groups are often mutually anathematising – or at the very least split apart for reasons of doctrine or discipline or authority in the past. And still have difficulties with each other today.
            Institutionally, let alone personally.

            The Catholic Church – inspite of Pope Francis’s incompetent management and foolhardy text Amoris Laetitia – is not a congregationalist church and the Catechism published just 30 years ago remains the common body of teaching. Whilst persons may be divided in their teaching (Luther was originally a Catholic priest, after all) institutionally the Church is united in all of those countries. When I go to Poland or Madagascar or Chile I go in to my Parish Church and its the same Church with the same Catechism – and, in principle at least, the same form of worship and the same beliefs shared by all. That’s why it’s catholic.

          • Anton

            How subtly you change the subject from your error of a mere 10,000 percent in the number of denominations!

            The regular schisming of church hierarchies into competing denominations – a process which began in 1054 more than 500 years before the Reformation – is God’s way of reminding us that the church should not be hierarchical at all. The model described in scripture had no hierarchy overseeing multiple congregations once the founding apostolos had passed on. Each congregation WAS “the church in place X” and was governed under Christ by an internal council of more than one male episkopos/presbyteros. The two words mean “overseer” and “elder” and apply to the same set of people, one word denoting function and the other seniority. By what authority was this arrangement changed?

          • ardenjm

            “How subtly you change the subject from your error of a mere 10,000 percent in the number of denominations!”
            Oh stop clutching your pearls. You yourself admit that estimations have varied enormously down the years. Why should I interest myself in their number, after all: I don’t believe their different heresies. I’m just relieved you’ve remained Trinitarian – many of the subsects that broke away from you didn’t.

            “is God’s way of reminding us that the church should not be hierarchical at all.”
            I’m guessing this is your charism of prophecy that tells you this.

            “The model described in scripture had no hierarchy overseeing multiple congregations once the founding apostolos had passed on.”
            I’m guessing this is your protestant reading of scripture.

            “By what authority was this arrangement changed?”
            Substantially it wasn’t changed. Each Bishop is still the authority in his diocese. The priests are his presbyters – united to their local Bishop.
            Catholics Bishops are simply those who are united to Peter’s successor, the Bishop of Rome. United in the Faith.
            There have been and will continue to be apostate Bishops, of course.

          • Anton

            Too much pride to admit you were caught out about the numbers?

            I’m guessing you have never tried to infer a structure for church polity actually starting from scripture.

          • ardenjm

            1. Numbers schmumbers. There are new protestant churchlets springing up all over the shop every single day. Ever been to West Africa?

            2. No. I haven’t ‘started from scripture’ to structure the Church precisely because scripture was written BY the Church – certainly the New Testament and, in proto-typical anticipation, by the People of Israel for the Old Testament. Not only that but the Church decided the Canon of Scripture. So the Church is insituted by Christ with some things set in stone: preach His saving Gospel, perform the saving Sacraments, Love and serve one another, wait for His return and some things given over to the Church to decide – like the talents in the parables – what to do. So if the Church decides to have a celibate clergy to better imitate Our Lord and His Kingdom – then this is the Church’s discernment (made under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) but the Church would still be the Church with a married clergy. Whereas if the Church no longer preached Christ Crucified and Risen then she would cease to be ‘of Him’ and ‘in Him’ as members of His Body.

            3. Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit poured out on to the Apostles at Pentecost which started the Church, this same Spirit that ‘leads you into all Truth’ and ‘reveals the things to come’ (John 16) is the Spirit that inspired Scripture. The Church recognises those texts that are inspired, and those that are not. This does not place the Church above Scripture, still less above the Holy Spirit but it DOES show how Scripture is to be read and understood: WITHIN the living spirit-guided Tradition of the Church and her Magisterium.

            Protestantism gets pretty much all of that completely wrong.
            Which is understandable since it is a human invention 1500 years after Our Lord started His Church.

          • Anton

            It is the papacy which is a human invention.

          • len

            The Papacy is corrupt through and through I cannot understand why anyone would support it?.

          • Strange how it’s based on scripture and came into being in the early Church.

          • Anton

            Scripture tortured!

          • Watchman

            Anton, I’ve posted this in another place on this thread. It’s worth reading
            http://www.mtc.org/bishop_s.html

          • Anton

            Worth also reading a book “The Pope and the Council” published in 1869 under the pseudonym ‘Janus’ by the German historian Ignaz von Döllinger, a traditional enough Catholic who knew from his studies of historical documents that the claim of papal infallibility was based on documents based on documents based on… the forged pseudo-Isidorean decretals of the Dark Ages. (A few years ago at least it could be found online.) He wrote the book ahead of the First Vatican Council to try to prevent papal infallibility going through, but failed, felt himself unable to assent, and was subsequently excommunicated. Most of the bishops who saw that the infallibilists had the numbers absented themselves from the disgrace of that vote, but Strossmayer dissented, as you post. The result was announced during a tremendous thunderstorm.

          • Watchman

            Thanks I’ll look that up, although I have a stack of books which require attention and whether or not the errors of the New Babylon can take priority is debatable

          • CliveM

            “There are new protestant churchlets springing up all over the shop every single day.”

            Isn’t it wondrous how Gods work is advancing with such strength and conviction

          • Martin

            Scripture is not written but the Church, even if Rome were the Church. The author of Scripture is God who breathes out Scripture that men have written.

          • Every protestant is his own infallible interpreter of scripture i.e. his own pope.

          • Anton

            No, every protestant is his own fallible interpreter. We at least are open to correction. The Vatican isn’t, which is why it makes an ass of itself from time to time.

          • ardenjm

            The Church as a whole – what’s this weird Dan Brown obsession with the Vatican? OF COURSE there’s corruption there – the Devil is busiest at the heart of the matter. Our Lord told us it would be thus: wolves, tares, betrayals.
            Anyway: the Church as a whole receives the guarantee from Our Lord Himself that she will not be led in to error since He is The Truth and the Holy Spirit is sent to the Church to keep and lead them in the Truth. The guarantor of this freedom from error is the one who receives the Keys of the Kingdom – St Peter – as the Church Militant makes her way in hac lacrimarum vale towards the Triumphant Heavenly Jerusalem.
            So, yes, of course men of the Church, including Popes, get things wrong: St Peter was corrected by St Paul BUT when it comes to defining a truth of the Faith (as we saw at the Council of Jerusalem) the Church, led by the Holy Spirit, tells us the Truth. It is Christ’s Church, how can it be otherwise! HE is its head. But in His Wisdom He organised it with a Petrine Office which extends downs the ages to the present day. Truly, your quarrel isn’t with the Catholic Church, it is with Our Lord which is why Matthew ch 7 vs 21-24 was written for you. Notice that the Rock of Christ is a metaphor extended to Peter the Rock and that Our Lord repeats the metaphor with a house built on rock. If you have ears to hear you’ll understand what He is saying.

          • Anton

            Sorry, can’t hear you – please shout louder.

          • ardenjm

            No need to hear me, chap.
            I’m not the one you need to give an answer of yourself to.

            Mind how you go.

          • Watchman

            God’s promise to the Israelites that He would make them a nation of priests was conditional:
            Exodus 19:5-6
            Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

            But as we all know, they failed. The death and resurrection of Jesus changed the terms on which God dealt with mankind; no longer were sacrifices necessary for the forgiveness of sins because Jesus’ had completed all that was necessary for men to approach the throne of God. This is why Peter wrote a letter to a number of people mentioned at the beginning of the epistle to explain the following:
            1 Peter 2:9-10
            But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

            We do not now need a priesthood as the Israelites did because we are all a priesthood and as priest we all have access to the Holy Spirit in order to understand His Word.

          • CliveM

            That’s just prejudiced rubbish. Not submitting to the Magesterium, doesn’t mean we believe ourselves to be inerrant. In fact I would go as far to say I know I’m wrong (I just don’t know where!).

          • Watchman

            The early church was founded with no suggestion of a central hierarchy. Could it be beyond your imagination to think that this was by design? Paul in his discourse on the Body of Christ put Him at the Head of each church (you cannot have a substitute for the Head in any body). If He is Head of each church what function does a central hierarchy play except to lead the whole lot into error, as we know it did!

          • ardenjm

            Christ is the Head of the Church because He is the King.
            Peter, as the end of St John’s Gospel demonstrates, has a particular role in ‘running’ the Church – to ‘strengthen the brethren’.
            This is why the Keys of the King’s Kingdom are given to him as St Matthew’s Gospel makes clear.
            Now, what are the Keys to the Kingdom anyway?
            As always the Old Testament enlightens us.
            The Keys were given to the King’s “prime minister” Eliakim (Isaiah ch 22) to run the Kingdom WITH the King’s authority. The word we use in English is vicar. The King is Jesus Christ. St Peter was given the role of Vicar of Christ.
            So, I’m afraid that’s where the Popes, the successors of St Peter get the idea from:
            God.
            Take it up with Him and His Revelation.

          • Watchman

            Wow, you do twist scripture for your own ends!
            I’ll repeat what I said to Jack a week or two ago.

          • ardenjm

            Uh huh.
            I ‘twist scripture’ because I don’t submit to your personal magisterium. And then you criticise me for accepting the Church’s 2000 year magisterium based on the authority of the apostles and Our Lord’s teaching to them! That’s chutzpah! You over and above the Apostles and Our Lord.

          • Watchman

            In that 2000 years your Romish cult has committed more atrocities than bear examination. There was no authority for apostolic succession, Peter’s appointment as pope or any other of the quaint pharisaic bondage with which you wear people down and rob the poor. Jesus did not entrust His Church to anyone; he rose from the dead and remains as Head of His Church. He has already spoken in His Revelation of the New Babylon in Revelation 13, 17 & 18. It is difficult to imagine any other city on seven hills other than Rome which fits the description. You should take the advice given in Revelation 18
            “Then I heard another voice from heaven: Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins or receive any of her plagues. For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.”

          • ardenjm

            Well if you’d only TOLD me you were a Jehovah Witness I’d have put the kettle on and allowed you to come in and talk at me for half the day!

            Next!

          • Watchman

            You’re ridiculous and what’s more I think you know you’re ridiculous. That last comment serves no purpose but to avoid the issue, passing my reference off as the theology of a strange cult.

            There are none so blind as those who will not see.

          • ardenjm

            But are your a Jehovah Witness?
            It would make things way clearer.
            The trouble with so many of these objecting protestants is that they can never admit which churchlet they belong to. Probably because they’ve fallen out with so many pastors, deacons and the like that they don’t belong to any particular (incarnated) church but spiritualise themselves to belong to ‘the church’.
            Like loving your ‘neighbour’ without loving anybody concrete you meet.

          • Watchman

            I think you know the answer to your question, but if you want me to be explicit: no, I am not, never have been and never will be, it’s as heretical as Romanism.

            I find it difficult to understand why you should make the assumption that I was a JW simply because I referenced the prophetic book of Revelation. Admittedly, the JWs do have a lot of weird ideas about the Revelation but it still exists as a book of prophecy for our edification. Why do you want to avoid it and choose to change the subject? Again, there are none so blind as those that will not see!

          • ardenjm

            Well it was an easy mistake to make: Watchman/Watchtower and then the fact that everything you say about the Romish Cult is typically JW. They say exactly the same kind of thing. (Great company you keep, but there, that’s your choice.)
            Still, instead of that you belong to a Jack Chick kind of protestant churchlet or something Baptist.
            That’s fine.
            I’ve nothing against Baptists. For a movement invented in the 16th and 17th centuries on explicitly anti-Catholic grounds….

          • Watchman

            I am fascinated by your need to pigeonhole me, as though that is significant and give you some sort of handle to attack what I believe. I’ve told you what I believe and there is nothing that human tradition can add to God’s Word. Why would He not leave us with a complete instruction manual? We have made a mess of it by allowing ambitious and avaricious men to seek pre-eminence and replaced God with themselves. Why would they try to build a worldly kingdom on what Jesus declared was not of this world. All abominations, sorry, denominations seem to do it but as the RCC has been around for longest they’ve had more time than the rest to corrupt God’s plan for the church.

          • ardenjm

            “I am fascinated by your need to pigeonhole me, as though that is significant”
            Err. Well it is. You could be a Mormon. Or a Marxist. Unless you say you hardly expect me to waste time pinning the tail on the donkey. Give me a break here!
            “and give you some sort of handle to attack what I believe.”
            Too right! Look at the venom you spew in relation to the Church who is the Bride of Christ. If that upsets you, I suggest you head to an American University Campus and declare yourself a Special Christian Snowflake.
            “Why would He not leave us with a complete instruction manual?” Because God isn’t an Occasionalist and wants us to (creatively but obediently) co-operate with His will. It’s why He made us the way He did – pre-eminently in the way we pro-create with Him in creating a new human life (that He in His wisdom gives an eternal soul to) and, likewise, for His Church, in the way we use the talents he has GIVEN us. We’re not robots. He makes use of us but not as puppets but as persons. Jonah the prophet is a wonderful and clear example of that. God hemmed the recalcitrant prophet in with a Great Fish but that didn’t stop Jonah from getting in a strop with God about the whole tree business.
            “We have made a mess of it” Yes. I think Our Lord said we would, no?
            “Why would they try to build a worldly kingdom on what Jesus declared was not of this world.” Because they are sinners and fail to co-operate with God’s grace. What does this change of the Church being the Church? But there is nothing new under the sun. Your anti-denominational stance is just a variant on Donatism: the Church of the Pure – with added spiritualising of the Church so as to apaise your conscience for falling out with every real church you’ve ever belonged to. If Our Lord meant for a purely spiritualised Church because His Kingdom is not of this world why does he tell his disciples that they are “the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house” (Matt. 5:14-15). The VISIBILITY of the Church is manifestly important. You just don’t like sharing that space with sinners. Logs and specks then, I guess.

          • Watchman

            I’m not sure what o make of your disordered rant and I have neither the time nor the inclination to try to unravel the errors of fact and logic as well as inaccurate assumptions about me. I’m not even sure you know what the church is. Try reading this, it could set you on the right road.
            http://www.christinyou.net/pages/anomxnty.html

          • ardenjm

            Thanks for the link.
            You might not have time to unravel my disordered logic. Perhaps you have the time to unravel this wonderfully clear paragraph in that link you sent me:

            Pre-millenialism, and the more radical Dispensationalism, are forms of eschatalogical futurism which may sometimes agree with an anomaly in the present ecclesiastical parenthesis, but more often deny the full spiritual content of Christ’s Life for Christians and thus dilute the anomaly.

            LOL.
            Pot. Kettle. Black.

            And you’re protestant heresy is still woefully wrong.
            #Sorry.NotSorry.

          • Anton

            To say that dispensationalism is more radical than premillennialism betrays obvious misunderstanding. Could you define either off the top of your head?

            I am premilliennialist but not dispensationalist. The Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse, was the last message God gave for all of his people. Its writer calls himself just ‘John,’ suggesting that he would be well known to his readers; tradition has it that this is John the disciple who wrote the fourth gospel. Its style is different from his gospel because it is the jotted-down record of an unfolding vision, and God’s words at the end forbade editing. John has only the language of 2000 years ago to describe events such as meteorite strikes and nuclear war. That is the real explanation of its ‘apocalyptic’ style. The Book of Revelation speaks of the final triumph of Christ over evil, but states that evil must first grow to a horrendous climax. This message is both sweet and sour. We are told of the breaking of seven seals in heaven on a prophetic scroll of woe, the blowing of seven trumpets by angels announcing woes on earth, and the pouring out of seven bowls of God’s wrath. These events in heaven – meaning the spiritual realms – have counterparts on earth, which are specified. (There are also seven peals of thunder whose counterparts are not told us in advance. ) The action in the book switches between the spiritual realms (heaven) and earth. The earthly events do not match events in history, so they are yet to happen. Making sense of the passage is that simple, although disputes among four schools of thought (called preterist, historicist, futurist, idealist), some of which are quite long-standing, have led to confusion and division. The differences stem from different ‘hermeneutics’ – ways to read the book, based on differing assumptions. God’s words can challenge any human assumption, however. Can you answer the following questions (or will you just duck out with invective?):

            • If the book of Revelation depicts only spiritual battle between good and evil in the heavenly places (the idealist view), then why does the action in its midpart alternate between heaven and earth? What does each detail mean?

            • If the book looks ahead prophetically but is entirely spiritual, how could you know when these prophecies have been fulfilled?

            • If the book is prophetic mainly about the early church era in which John lived (the preterist view), then to what in the history books does each detail of those prophecies correspond?

            • If God came bodily to this earth as Jesus once within human history, why not again? Do those who doubt his bodily Second Coming differ from someone who, before Christ, scoffed at Isaiah’s prophecy (9:6) of the Incarnation?

          • ardenjm

            “To say that dispensationalism is more radical than premillennialism betrays obvious misunderstanding.”

            That line comes from the very article you linked me to and recommended as a way of coming to a clearing understanding of the issues!!! So BRAVO.

            In any case the 19th century protestant millenarianisms are pretty much balderdash from start to finish.

          • Watchman

            I would add that it is not important who I am except to say that I believe the Word of God is infallible and complete and does not require the traditions of men to enhance it. As Paul wrote to Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

          • dannybhoy

            “…is God’s way of reminding us that the church should not be hierarchical at all.”

            Which is one of the problems with the mega churches, the prosperity gospel and of course the shepherding movement..

          • Anton

            Two of those a mixed bags, and the prosperity gospel is simple heresy.

          • Watchman

            I’ll never tire of saying it, Danny, the hierarchy in a church serves a function and is not intended to give titular precedence or status.

          • dannybhoy

            I agree. A key passage for me is in Acts 6 1-7.
            Note that the twelve Apostles say, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables.[a] 3 Therefore, friends,[b] select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, 4 while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word. ’ 5 What they said pleased the whole community…’

            The Apostles had their leadership role to play in proclaiming the Gospel and recognised the need for others to look after the needs of the believers.
            thus
            Acts 8 14 ‘Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.’

            Acts 11 ‘Now the apostles and the believers[a] who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers[b] criticized him, 3 saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’
            Acts 13 . 2,
            ‘While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

            What we see throughout the New Testament is God the Holy Spirit calling certain men to certain tasks and ministries, and their appointments being confirmed by the community of believers.
            There is no reference to a human hierarchy of authority.

          • Watchman

            Totally agree, Danny. One of the key passages for me is one that most churches do not seem to take on board with any serious intent.

            Ephesians 4:11-15
            And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head-Christ.

            This speaks of the prime function of the church: to build up the body of Christ until we reach unity in the faith in the knowledge of God’s Son etc. This is not the work of one man but the work of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. If this team is appointed by Him we are assured of the best possible outcome. Modern churches are like theatres with the main act by the same actor with a different script, but written by him. Is this supposed to achieve what Paul wrote to Ephesus?

          • dannybhoy

            Even better passage of Scripture that.
            The problem began as I think Martin said earlier, when the church began to appropriate to itself the symbols of earthly power.
            I agree with your last point too. It seems to me that Biblically speaking ‘the bigger the role, the humbler the man.’
            Every single one of the notable saints, prophets, kings and leaders were profoundly aware of their own sinful failings before God.

          • dannybhoy

            I have a lovely joke about hierarchical aspiration…

            A Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi were chatting one day when the conversation turned to a discussion of job descriptions and the future.

            “What position do you see yourself in a couple years from now?” asked the rabbi to the priest.

            “Well, actually, I’m next in line for the Monsignor’s job,” replied the priest.

            “Yes, and then what?” asked the rabbi.

            “Well, I could become Arch-Bishop,” said the priest.

            “Yes, and then?” asked the rabbi.

            “Well, if I work real hard and do a good job as Arch-Bishop, it’s possible to become a full Bishop” said the priest.

            “Okay, then what?” continued the rabbi.

            The priest, beginning to be a bit exasperated replied, “With some luck and real hard work, maybe I can become a Cardinal.”

            “And then?” continued the rabbi.

            The priest is really starting to get frustrated, but replies, “With lots and lots of luck and some real difficult work and if I’m in the right place at the right time and play my political games just right, maybe, just maybe, I can get elected Pope.”

            “Yes, and then what?” continued the rabbi.

            “Good grief!” shouted the priest, “What do you expect me to become, God?”

            “Well,” said the rabbi, “One of our boys made it!”

          • Watchman

            Thanks, Danny, that’s brilliant.
            Reminds me of the story of Manny, a devout Orthodox Jew who met his son at the airport after his son had been to Israel for his gap year. After talking to his son he got quite concerned and went to see his friend, Izzy. “Izzy” he said “I meet my son at the airport and he tells me that while in Israel he converted to Christianity, he has deserted our faith, what shall I do?” “Manny” said Izzy, “maybe you saw me at the airport this morning meeting my son and he same thing happened to me twelve months in Israel and my son has also become a Christian, let’s go and see the rabbi”

            So they went to see the rabbi and, guess what, the same thing had happened to him. So they all decided to trot off to the synagogue to pray.

            After an hour or so of intense breast beating and tears there was silence and a voice came down from the dome of the synagogue “Gentlemen, the same thing happened to me!”

          • dannybhoy

            Laugh! That’s a great one. I just love the Jewish sense of humour. Here’s a secular Jewish one I received a few days ago…

            Abe and Esther are flying to China for a two week vacation to celebrate their 40th anniversary.
            Suddenly, over the public address system, the Captain announces, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am afraid I have some very bad news. Our engines have ceased functioning and we will attempt an emergency landing. Luckily, I see an uncharted island below us and we should be able to land on the beach. However, the odds are that we will never be rescued and will have to live on the island for the rest of our lives!”

            Thanks to the skill of the flight crew, the plane lands safely on the island. An hour later Abe turns to his wife and asks, “Esther, did we pay our charity pledge check to Beth Shalom Synagogue yet?”

            “No, sweetheart,” she responds.

            Abe, still shaken from the crash landing, then asks, “Esther, did we pay our United Jewish Appeal pledge?”

            “Oy, no! I’m sorry. I forgot to send the check,” she says.

            “One last thing, Esther. Did you remember to send a check for the Synagogue Building Fund this month,” he asks?

            “Oy, forgive me, Abie,” begged Esther. “I didn’t send that one, either.”

            Abe grabs her and gives her the biggest kiss in 40 years.

            Esther pulls away and asks him, ” So, why did you kiss me?”

            Abe answers, “They’ll find us!”

          • Watchman

            That’s very good, it’s authentic Jewish humour. I lived among Jews in my teenage years and most of my friends were Jewish. I learned to tell the difference between Jewish jokes told by Jews and Jewish jokes told by goyim. The jokes told by Jews were always funnier, more self deprecating and insightful than any told by anyone else. They are well aware of their own foibles and make fun of them, which is a quality I find endearing.

          • dannybhoy

            Absolutely.
            There are aspects of Jewish communal life that we Christians could benefit from. I have always been fascinated by them and I still count it a privilege to have lived and worked among them in Israel.
            I also believe that the times of the Gentiles are coming to an end, and we will see Israel playing a central role in the unfolding of God’s plan for the end of the ages.

          • bluedog

            Brilliant!

          • dannybhoy

            Here’s my last of the day, and guaranteed to offend just about everybody..
            from a guy named Corky..

            A priest, a preacher and a Rabbi walked into their favorite bar, where they would get together two or three times a week for drinks and to talk shop.

            On this particular afternoon, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn’t really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear.

            One thing led to another and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

            Seven days later, they’re all together to discuss the experience.

            Father Flannery, who has his arm in a sling, is on crutches, and has various bandages, goes first.
            “Well,” he says, “I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation.”

            Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts, and an IV drip. In his best fire and brimstone oratory he claimed, ” WELL brothers, you KNOW that we don’t sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God’s HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So I quick DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus.”

            They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV’s and monitors running in and out of him. He was in bad shape.

            The rabbi looks up and says, “Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start.”

          • Mere propaganda. In reality, one Pope severely disagrees with the next, and works hard to undermine his teachings.

          • ardenjm

            Nope.
            As for undermining Popes.
            I’m sure some have tried to in the past and will try to again in the future.
            But the Deposit of the Faith remains and they are bound to that.
            If they contradict that – formally and tenaciously – which no Pope has done without a special intervention from God eg their death, or a correction (Paul to Peter for example at the Council of Jerusalem) – then arguably, that great proof text and promise of Our Lord, “Thou art Peter” etc would not have been kept.
            Happily Our Lord keeps his promise.

            You can accuse Him of propaganda too, if you like.
            Take it up with Him.
            I’ve got things to do this evening.

          • You equivocate between a united, visible Church, and a single organisational entity with an earthly hierarchy.

            Gospel-believing churches are not invisible. You do not need magic glasses to spot them when they gather to worship.

          • ardenjm

            “You equivocate between a united, visible Church, and a single organisational entity with an earthly hierarchy.”
            Protestant churchlets aren’t united.
            But otherwise you’ve defined the Church Militant quite well. (But only the Church Militant.)

            “Gospel-believing churches are not invisible. You do not need magic glasses to spot them when they gather to worship.”
            I’m not sure what you think you mean by ‘Gospel-believing’.
            You only believe your interpretation of the Gospel.

            You certainly DON’T, for example, have relics in the way the Acts of the Apostles ch 19 vs11-12 encourages their use:

            God did extraordinary miracles through the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and the diseases and evil spirits left them.

            I wonder why…
            Oh yes, that’s why: because the sola scriptura protestants rejected relics.
            Ok…

            Reminds me of the time when I visited the chapel in Geneva where Calvin preached his heresy and a merry band of American Mennonites came in and walked around in happy wonder, touching the pulpit and seeing where the great man had spoken from.
            Much like pilgrims in the holy grotto in Lourdes touch the rock and drink of the spring…

          • > Protestant churchlets aren’t united.

            And again, you’re apparently blind to the whole discussion. The Roman Catholic church is not united either, *which is the whole subject that ‘Cranmer’ as blogging about*. Rome’s unity is merely organisational. Christ nowhere said “real unity is organisational – beyond that it’s fine if Popes are wicked, contradict with and disagree with eachother, etcetera”. Each zealous Catholic has his own private view on which of the competing factions are truly faithful to Catholic teaching, and which ones aren’t. Just like Protestants. Are you really maintaining the position that organisational and external unity is the main thing, that trumps all others?

            Concerning the rest, you miss two key differences:
            – Paul was not dead, and was preaching the true gospel
            – Awe in the presence of history is not the same as attributing power to relices

          • ardenjm

            Hankies and aprons, David. Hankies and aprons.

          • Anna

            “…there are many national Orthodox Churches they do share most nearly every theological belief amongst themselves and the vast majority of those beliefs with us Catholics.”

            Not quite. As a cradle Orthodox (now evangelical) Christian, I remember, that while we honoured the Virgin Mary and recited the ‘Hail Mary’ in our daily prayers, the degree of veneration for her – the Rosary and the various titles ascribed to her such as “Queen of Heaven”- in the RCC seemed extremely strange to us. Again we had nothing along the lines of constantly pleading with bygone saints to pray for us. Many held the view that the Catholics sidelined Christ in favour of the Virgin. On the whole, the RCC was viewed with some suspicion, and seen as an idolatrous and fallen church by the Orthodox priests. I am speaking of the Syrian Orthodox Church; I am not familiar what non Middle Eastern Orthodox churches (Russian and Greek) believe, and they do seem to resemble the RCC in many respects.

          • ardenjm

            Well then you didn’t know much about the Syrian Orthodox Church – and especially about the great Syrian saint, Ephrem and his hundreds of hymns to the Virgin!

            But here’s his Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka of the Syrian Orthodox Church in America writing about what Syrian Orthodox believe about Our Lady. It all sounds EXACTLY like a pious Catholic.

            “How greatly appealing the discourse about the Mother of God, the Holy Virgin Mary is! Our Holy Church fathers had had extensive scrutinizing studies of her biography; inspired ecclesiastical poets wrote beautiful poems in glorification of her; celebrated artists sculpted the most beautiful statues of her and skillful painters filled the world with her splendid portraits. The Virgin Mary is the Patron Saint of the most magnificent Cathedrals the faithful have erected for her worldwide.

            Ever since its existence our Syrian Orthodox Church has incessantly extolled the Virgin Mary’s virtues and canonized her as a patron saint of the church, repeating her Holy name in church prayers day and night. Our church has set commemorative days for the Virgin Mary to be celebrated all the year round.”

            You can read the rest here:
            http://syrianorthodoxchurch.org/2010/02/the-holy-virgin-mary-in-the-syrian-orthodox-church/

            And how desperately sad that you rejected all of that wonderful heritage for the mess of pottage that is 19th century American evangelical protestantism.

          • Anna

            “Well then you didn’t know much about the Syrian Orthodox Church…”
            Very amusing comment. Of course I have heard of Mar Ephrem – he wrote many hymns, and a few of them – not hundreds- were to the virgin. My family for centuries have belonged to this church, and indeed we were Christians long before most Europeans. Yet there is some truth in what you say, for we women were not encouraged to enquire too closely into religious matters. We were taught the basics of our faith, the common public worship, and our Christian duties as godly women, daughters, wives and mothers. The rest was for the priests to discuss, and we were to be silent and learn. Thankfully, our parish priests were very approachable and kindly answered all my queries.

            True, most cathedrals are named after the Virgin Mary, and she was much respected. All teenage girls and young women were encouraged to ‘fast’ for 7 days on the feast of the Virgin Mary in September. Our daily experience of living the Christian life, however, was very different to what I observed among my Catholic friends. Indeed, the way in which the Virgin was venerated by the RCC was not considered balanced by many of our priests, with whom I discussed the subject in my youth. In their minds, the honour that was due only to Christ was being ascribed to her.

            I left that church, because, I realised that we had too many rituals and regulations, and the truth was lost. So many had no idea about being ‘born again’, and considered the rituals to be sufficient for salvation. So I was born again in an Evangelical setting; I found the simple trust in the gospels, and simple forms of worship very refreshing to my soul.

            19th century American evangelical protestantism? I don’t know what you are talking about!

          • ardenjm

            “19th century American evangelical protestantism? I don’t know what you are talking about!”
            It’s what you joined – in terms of its beliefs and theology.
            You just don’t realise it, manifestly.

            And not only that but whilst you did have experience of growing up in a Syrian Orthodox home you didn’t fully explore the richness of that church’s tradition concerning Our Lady. (I trust the Bishop I linked to more than you.) And not only that but you presume to understand the Tradition I belong to, grew up in AND explored – the Catholic Church – on the basis of what your Catholic acquaintances told you and what you understood of what they told you.

            That might be sufficient for you; it isn’t for me. After all, you conceitedly dismiss the Syrian Orthodox Church’s beliefs in this way, “I realised that we had too many rituals and regulations, and the truth was lost’

            I’m afraid I don’t find you qualified in any way.
            Sincere, yes.
            But right? Nope.
            Conclusion? Sincerely wrong.

            All best wishes.
            (Polite enough?)

          • Anna

            “That might be sufficient for you…”

            The Bible should be sufficient for any Christian, for, unlike all human institutions, contains inerrant truth.

          • ardenjm

            Not this old chestnut.
            First. The Bible was established canonically by the Church. They left out a number of books they included others. Sure, they recognised the Holy Spirit had inspired them – but that recognition was only possible because the same Spirit was guiding them (as John ch 16 shows) and because they had the God-given authority to declare that recognition.
            Second. The Bible was written by members of the Church.
            Third. They wrote down into Scripture what the Deposit of the Faith had been given to them orally in Tradition. The Church maintains Scripture AND Tradition. As St John tells us, the world isn’t big enough to contain all the things Jesus said and did.
            Fourth. Scripture can only be explained properly and fully by someone who belongs to the Church and who has authority and a charism (a grace) to teach it correctly – the Church guided into all truth by the Spirit. This is exactly what Philip explains to the Ethiopian eunuch in the book of the Acts.
            You have only partial truth. In fact, you surrendered the greater (if incomplete) amount of truth in the Syrian Orthodox Church for the 19th century protestant evangelicalism you present churchlet emerged from. Pity.
            Fifth. As an evangelical protestant you have an incomplete version of the Bible based on the Protestant heresiarchs’ removal of books from the Canon. Their spurious justification of adopting a post-Christian Jewish Canon was so that they could get rid of the Book of Maccabees. If he could have, Luther would have gotten rid of the Epistle of St James, too, calling it straw. Why? Because the Word of God in James disagrees with his erroneous doctrine of Sola gratia.
            Sixth. Evangelicals tend towards Bibliolatry, confusing the word of Scripture with The Word Incarnate. You may not have done, but many fundamentalists have done – hence their weird obsession with the KJV as somehow the only “inspired” translation. Again, you’ve exchanged the rich Syriac-Aramaic heritage you had which puts you in touch with the earliest manuscripts for a world dominated by those who think the 17th century protestant translation is somehow more Scriptural than the Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaen and Latin of the Biblical world.
            Seventh: Scripture no where affirms Sola Scriptura! In fact Scripture itself says, “the Church, pillar and foundation of the Truth” 1 Timothy 3vs15 Foundation please note.

            Seven is a nice number to send you away with a flea in your ear….

            Err. Thanks.
            (Since I know to you moralising protestants it’s important to be “nice and polite”.)

          • Anna

            Thanks for the long reply!

            In return. I would leave you with John 3:3 out of concern for your soul.

          • ardenjm

            So the fourth point about Philip and the Ethiopian in the Book of Acts isn’t in Scripture? Huh? So the question of Philip, “Do you understand what you are reading?” and the reply of the Ethiopian, “how can i unless someone explain it to me?” isn’t in Scripture?
            So the explanation of the meaning by a member of the Church – sent by God for that very purpose! – isn’t in Scripture?
            What Scriptures are you reading??
            Oh, hang on: you’re reading Protestant scriptures based on a Canon set by Jews after the time of Jesus, probably at the Council of Jamnia – a council rejecting the Messiahship of Christ. Okay….
            I’ll stick with the Church’s traditional Canon, thank you very much.

            Lastly: thanks for your patronising concern.
            We’re born again by Baptism.
            I was Baptised by my parents, thanks be to God, when I was 6 weeks old.

            How sad that a Syrian Orthodox with that extraordinary centuries of Faith in the face of Islamic oppression should end up sounding like a moralising WASP American housewife.

          • Anna

            John 3:3 – Christ’s own words, not mine. If you – as an RC – disagree, please take it up with the Lord in your prayers! The Ethiopian was not saved at that point. After Philip explained the gospel to him, he believed and his eyes were opened. So, it all depends on your present condition. 1 John 2:27.

            “How sad that a Syrian Orthodox with that extraordinary centuries of Faith..”.
            I am not the only one. True, I take great pride in my heritage, but like Paul “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8 ESV).

            These are my final comments on the topic. I wish you well.

          • ardenjm

            “John 3:3 – Christ’s own words, not mine. If you – as an RC – disagree, please take it up with the Lord in your prayers!”

            I did. He told me the Church’s interpretation was right and that yours were wrong.
            So I shall stick with the Catholic Church rather than 19th century american evangelical protestantism.

            You THINK you’ve understood Scripture because of your subjective emotional experience of conversion. But not only that you then conclude that this subjective emotional experience sets you up as an authority over the Church.
            It doesn’t.
            That’s called Pride.
            Which is why Our Lord spoke the words of Matthew 7 vs21-24 for you.

          • You talk about a lot of things, but it’s all a smokescreen: none of them actually address the question: what things has the Pope proclaimed ex cathedra? What Papal pronouncements are certainly guaranteed by God as truth and are sinful to disbelieve? The fact that you have to waffle so much about and throw in so much ad hominem whilst doing so it is illustrating my very point.

          • ardenjm

            You’re asking this question in ALL the wrong way.
            The doctrines of saving Faith that we believe are found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church because that document contains the truths of Revelation as received by the Church from Our Lord and taught by that Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
            The role of papal infallibility is to act as guarantor that the Church’s teaching is consonant with that Deposit of the Faith – in the Tradition and Scriptures of the Church. It’s not papal infallibility that mediates those truths to believers – that’s not what papal infallibility IS nor DOES.
            You’re confusing the conductor who checks the validity of your ticket with the train (and its driver) that is transporting you to your destination.

            And I shall no further engage with you until you adopt a different tone to the sneering, self-satisfied one that has already decided that you have understood Catholicism better than Catholics themselves and the Church herself.
            And that’s not ad hominem. That’s just the truth.

          • You’re still missing the whole point. You have a doctrine of Papal Infallibility. Supposedly, the Pope can say some things infallibly. And supposedly, he has. But what are those things? Nobody is entirely sure. It’s a live question, because, as this whole comment pile illustrates, Catholics generally agree that the Pope has also said a lot of wrong things. But, among the various Papal pronouncements over the centuries, which is which? Nobody knows. In the context of the Catholic polemic that Protestants, unlike Catholics, ultimately just use their personal opinions on a case-by-case basis, that’s a devastating admission. You now fall back on the Catechism. Is that infallible? Has the Catholic church said so, or is that just your private opinion that it doesn’t require subsequent correction?

          • ardenjm

            Good grief!
            1. Has the Pope spoken ex cathedra?
            2. Has he declared what he has said as de fide and infallible?
            3. Is what he has declared consonant with the whole Tradition and teaching of the Church – as per St Vincent of Lérins?
            If so then it’s a Dogma – and our consent is required.
            That’s the extraordinary magisterium in its exercise.
            But the ordinary magisterium of the Church articulated by Pope, and Council and, on occasion, local council and even Bishops is likewise authoritative and binding.
            But just because the Church articulates Papal Infallibility more clearly in the 19th century, faced as she was by challenges against it doesn’t stop it being true in the past – even when less fully clarified.
            JUST LIKE the doctrine of consubstantiality in the Persons of the Trinity didn’t become an ‘issue’ until Arius. Was it articulated in that way prior to the 4th century? Almost certainly not.
            So basically, you’re like someone in the 5th century getting cross with Nicene Christians for saying something that 2nd century Christians didn’t say.

            The Pope can say many wrong things and do even more.
            But when he teaches with the ordinary magisterium he should be respected as Pope: so in his encylicals, for example. That’s the role Our Lord assigned to him in the Church. And when he proclaims something dogmatically then we must believe it as De Fide.

            Here, spend a few hours on this site and get over yourself already:
            http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.co.uk

          • Albert

            Good grief!

            I sometimes think that the real failing of Protestants is their lack of logic.

          • Sarky

            Ita a failing of ‘all’ christians.

          • Albert

            Really? Have you ever read Thomas Aquinas?

          • Sarky

            I tend to agree with Bertrand Russell..

            He does not, like the Platonic Socrates, set out to follow wherever the argument may lead. He is not engaged in an inquiry, the result of which it is impossible to know in advance. Before he begins to philosophize, he already knows the truth; it is declared in the Catholic faith. If he can find apparently rational arguments for some parts of the faith, so much the better; if he cannot, he need only fall back on revelation. The finding of arguments for a conclusion given in advance is not philosophy, but special pleading. I cannot, therefore, feel that he deserves to be put on a level with the best philosophers either of Greece or of modern times.[146]

          • dannybhoy

            “I tend to agree with Bertrand Russell..”
            He’s dead Sarky.

          • Sarky

            Does death stop me agreeing with him???

          • Albert

            My point would be that it is illogical to agree with Russell when Russell does the kind of thing he condemns in another. Russell, apart from Kenny’s quote, belongs to a modernist period in which a grasp of the effect of perspective was not appreciated.

          • Albert

            Your complaint was about logic, but here is it about philosophy. Besides, I tend to agree with Anthony Kenny who said of that quote that it

            comes oddly from a philosopher who [in Principia Mathematica] took three hundred and sixty dense pages to offer a proof that 1+1=2.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Bertand Russell — the atheist who thought he was God’s Gift to Women.

          • Albert

            The atheist who for a while thought the Ontological Argument was sound!

          • Anton

            In 1927 Bertrand Russell gave a lecture, “Why I am not a Christian” which became famous when it was reprinted 30 years later. Russell claimed that Christ said he would be back within one generation, so that Christ was supposedly mistaken. But it is Russell who was confused, not Christ. In the discourse on the Mount of Olives, to which Russell refers, Christ mixed comments about his return with comments about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which the Romans accomplished in AD70 within… one generation of Christ’s words.

            As for contradiction between Christ’s “Judge not…” and the existence of court judges, about which Russell grumbles in his essay, Jesus was well aware that a judicial system was necessary, for one had been instituted for his own people in the Old Testament. Courts judge a person’s actions, whereas Jesus is saying: Do not judge the person themselves, because no human can be sure what is going on in another.

            In commenting on the ‘first cause’ argument for God, Russell’s essay says that we understand cause better nowadays (meaning better than Aristotle, presumably) thanks to the work of modern philosophers. I suspect that philosophers of causality have barely begun to get their heads round the fact that not only space, but time, started in the Big Bang, so that asking what went on before the Big Bang is like asking what is north of the North Pole. Moreover, if everything that is not God was created by God then time would be included, and modern cosmology has shed light on how. The Big Bang also says that the universe had a beginning, just as the opening phrase of the Bible does.

            Finally, Russell attacked the ‘argument from design’ for God. In biology the argument for an Intelligent Designer is not strong, because we simply don’t know remotely enough biology to settle the question. But in physics the argument is strong, for the values of several of the physical constants have to be in a narrow band in order to permit intelligent life. Russell also failed to mention the ‘argument from beauty’ – why is there beauty in the laws of physics, if it is not designed by One who has a high sense of aesthetics?

          • Albert

            Well here’s a thing. You’ve produced a long post, and I agreed with every word (I think)!

          • bockerglory

            Ahh, Bertrand. The only child of some rich dudes who wrote “in praise of idleness”. Idle – certainly. Spot on!

          • You still miss the point. The doctrine of Papal Infallibility has no practical use, up until someone gives a procedure which allows this to be applied to Papal statements to know whether it applies to each of them, or not. My brother spoke infallibly in one of his utterances last week, but nobody is quite sure which one. Not very useful, is it? So, do you have an authoritative list of infallible statements, or not? And, if so, why does it agree from other Roman Catholics’ lists? Did you use your private judgment to decide which works should be on the list?

          • Albert

            Tell me David, do you now the criteria for an infallible statement from the Pope?

          • He’s been given a very clear explanation above by ardenjm. Inculpable invincible ignorance or culpable stubborn denial?

          • Albert

            It looks a bit like he’s gone in with all guns blazing and can’t now stop…

          • So it’s pride?

          • I think we can just take this as condeding my original point: there *is* no procedure that can be applied to Papal pronouncements to ascertain whether they were infallible or not. Hence why no authoritative list exists, and why you can’t give me one that doesn’t differ from other Catholic scholars. If you could do so, then presumably you would, instead of waffling or attempting to dabble in amateur psychology.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Well said….yes it is…His mind is closed and like so many of the others he just does not want to hear or understand Catholicism at all. You have been missed….good to see you posting here again.

          • ardenjm

            Thank you.
            I was blocked by Cranmer himself back on the old site.
            No doubt I’ll be blocked again.

          • If memory serves, you were asked to leave (Blogger had no ‘block’ facility) for being rather rude, namely just hurling ‘Bigot’ around (or was it ‘anti-Catholic bigot’?) quite a lot, irrespective of how theologically reasoned or intelligent a blog post was (or attempted to be). Funny how you omit to explain that to Cressida de Nova.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I hope I have not caused this. Please do not block him . His posts are very intelligent and informative. Put Protestant and Catholics together and understandably things start to get a little heated. Mainly we all get on together in a peculiar kind of way (I think). I ‘m unused to asking Protestant Archbishops for favours so I ‘m not sure if I am making things worse. I hope you will find it in your Protestant Christian heart to allow the Catholics to stay. I know we threw you out of France but you would not have liked it there anyway. Speaking of which…Why not block Linus? He is an ill wind that blows no good.

          • Ah, but he’s universally offensive to all Christians, irrespective of denomination, although his rudeness to Mrs Proudie and HG is totally unacceptable.

          • Catholics aren’t blocked: it’s a very ecumenical blog :o) One simply tires of those who hurl ad hom insults instead of engaging with the substance, and one of ardenjm’s favourites was ‘(anti-Catholic) bigot’, hurled quite frequently in this general direction because, well, Protestants and Anglicans tend to be so because they have ‘issues’ with certain Roman dogmata. He appears to have used the word again already. Doubtless it will be flung this way again before the night is out. And Linus? He is seeking salvation. He needs love, grace, truth and peace, which is why he keeps returning here.

          • Inspector General

            Linus needs an audience, Eminence. It’s a narcissus thing. Nothing else…

          • Watchman

            Inspector, none of us know what is in a man’s heart.

          • Inspector General

            Unfortunately, Jeremy, Linus has spilled everything up. There’s little left to know…

          • Watchman

            My great grandfather wasn’t called Jeremy and would have taken offence if you mistook him for Jeremy Clarkson. His name was Eli.

          • ardenjm

            Not ad hominem attacks, Adrian – and indeed I was blocked on your previous website which didn’t use disqus because you would wipe any of my comments. Now, what caused that – apart from the fact the you found me obnoxiously reactive to monomaniacs like David Anderson? If memory serves me correctly (and it does) it was principally for calling you out several times for your hypocrisy (and incoherency) in speaking out against Catholic discipline on the eucharist, the fact that the 39 Articles call the Mass a blasphemy (which you subscribe to as an Anglicn) and the fact that you BOASTED about how you ‘got away’ with taking Communion at St Peter’s – as if it were some act of Anglican derring-do when, in fact, it was cheap and shabby and possibly an act of sacrilege. I believe I used the expression: Je t’aime moi non plus about your schizoid love-hate relationship with the Catholic Church.

            But an ecumencial question: anti-Catholic bigotry most certainly exists, and a number of such bigots post on your blog. Perhaps you’d indicate to me the kind of people you’d consider anti-Catholic bigots so that I can gauge my reactions in future. Would Jack Chick count? That is if you aren’t already contacting Disqus to see if there’s a way of preventing me from posting on here again.

          • Anton

            What is this Adrian nonsense? This blog is written by Archbishop Cranmer.

          • ardenjm

            Yes, my bad. Adrian Hilton who goes by the pseudonym Archbishop Cranmer.

          • Anton

            No, you really need to get over this Hilton business. The blog is written by Archbishop Cranmer.

          • ardenjm

            Yup.
            Believe what you want. (You’re a protestant – that’s what you do after all!)

            Presumably Cranmer’s not writing it with his burned hand, though.

            Anyway, I thought Adrian Hilton had made his peace with being outed? As the blogger Cranmer, I mean.

          • cagedvole

            At the risk of getting blocked, Arden-not-Jim, I’ll just say your anti-Protestant bigotry peeked out a bit there :-p

            It’s Archbishop Cranmer’s blog; he’s surely entitled to go by whatever title he likes, and the archiepiscopal persona having once been adopted, the correct formal vocative and oblique reference follow as a matter of course.
            — come to think, why does “Happy Jack” always refer to himself in the third person. Can it be prelacy-envy, haha?

          • ardenjm

            I’m definitely anti-protestantism. Am I anti-protestant(s)? Not so much. I only ever give as good as I get. I react. You’ll never see me launch an attack of my own – merely reply to those who misrepresent and attack the Church.
            As for it being Cranmer’s blog. Of course! And he does a great job qua blog. He even does a great job qua Anglican. And on pro-life issues he’s been very solid. But as soon as he gets on to the Catholic Church he loses all semblance of balance. So I’m afraid I do go for the jugular.
            And just because it’s his blog I generally do call him by his pseudonym. But I won’t indulge in the ridiculous game-playing since it creeps me out. Happy Jack’s tendency to do the same does, too, but proportionately less since, let’s face it, the real Archbishop Cranmer was an awful piece of work. He didn’t deserve to be barbecued, however. And he showed real courage sticking his arm in first. And he wrote beautiful English.
            But he spewed out bile against the Pope and the Church before he did so and didn’t remember the Queen’s Grace. It was entirely in keeping with the true character of the man. Kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers have great courage, too, after all.
            The real nature of the man is how he speaks of his enemies in those ultimate moments:
            Our Lord with forgiveness.
            St Stephen with intercession for his murderers.
            St Thomas More with humour, magnanimity and prayers for the King.

            Thomas Cranmer with a rant of vitriol and anger.

            What a role model to build a whole persona on!

          • cagedvole

            anti protestantism, anti-protestant – we-ell, it’s a fine line, but thanks for a nice, measured reply 🙂
            Well, measured except re Cranmer that is… I’d like just to point out that a man may easily have his equanimity overset and even lose all his good manners, when faced with that particular death. Kamikaze pilots, suicide bombers, Thomas More – bah. They all had it very, very easy in comparison.

            Re the ‘Queen’s grace’, I’m not sure what point you’re making.
            Bloody Mary burned one of my ancestors because he wouldn’t pretend to believe in transubstantiation.
            Just saying 🙂

          • ardenjm

            His speech was pre-planned and entirely in keeping with his life.
            Excuse him as you see fit….

            The account of how St Joan of Arc went to her burning tells us this:

            That she asked to have the Crucifix of Our Lord raised up on a stick so she could see it through the smoke and flames and she called out constantly the Holy Name of Jesus.

            And here is the deposition of an eye-witness, Guillaume Manchon:
            La sentence de l’Eglise venait d’être prononcée et Jeanne savait qu’elle allait mourir. Elle fit ses plus belles oraisons, recommandant son âme à Dieu, à la sainte Vierge et à tous les saints, les invoquant et demandant pardon et à ses juges et aux Anglais et au roi de France et à tous les princes du royaume.

            Prayers, confiding her soul to God and the Holy Virgin and all the saints and – crucially – asking pardon from her (corrupt!) judges, and of the (wicked!) English and of the (weak!) King of France and all the princes of the kingdom.

            Here the deposition of Jean Massieu, one of the ‘ushers’:
            Jeanne, s’étant agenouillée, fit à Dieu les plus dévotes oraisons. Elle eut une merveilleuse constance, montrant apparences évidentes et grands signes de contrition, pénitence et ferveur de foi, tant par ses piteuses et dévotes lamentations que par ses invocations de la benoîte Trinité, de la benoîte glorieuse Vierge Marie et de tous les benoîts saints du paradis, parmi lesquels elle en nommait expressément plusieurs. Au milieu de ses lamentations, dévotions et attestations de vraie foi, elle demandait merci très humblement à toute manière de gens, de quelque condition ou état qu’ils fussent, tant de l’autre parti que du sien, en requérant qu’ils voulussent prier pour elle et en leur pardonnant le mal qu’ils lui avaient fait. Elle continua ainsi longtemps, environ une demi- heure.

            Half an hour of prayer – asking forgiveness of all for any fault committed – and entrusting her soul to the Blessed Trinity.

            I could give you accounts of how martyred monks went to their burnings, too, under the Muslims. Or we could look at how the Carthusians in Tyburn were hanged drawn and quartered.
            And I’m sure Foxe’s Book of Martyrs has accounts of Protestants who went to their deaths praying forgiveness for their persecutors also.

            Just, not Cranmer. No. He went to his death with an ideological manifesto.
            Still, he got his reward in the end, didn’t he? An overblown 19th century Monument that tourists sit on and pigeons crap on there in Oxford.
            Nice that a memorial plaque for the Catholics of Oxford University who died for the Faith was put up in St Mary The Virgin Church a few years ago.

            Sorry to hear that Mary Tudor had one of your ancestors killed.
            She thought she was saving his soul that way.
            But it’s a nasty way to go.

          • cagedvole

            Is that the voice of experience??
            My ancestor died well according to contemporary accounts.
            Wouldn’t it be great to be sure that one would oneself?
            I’d love Cranmer only for the beauty of the BCP, but also – as a faulty and failing fellow-mortal, whom nevertheless God did not suffer, at his last hour, to fall from Christ.

          • ardenjm

            “Wouldn’t it be great to be sure that one would oneself?”
            Oh absolutely. Hence that beautiful prayer Anima Christi.

            “whom nevertheless God did not suffer, at his last hour, to fall from Christ”
            Let’s just differ on that. With the exception of the canonised saints where we know de fide that they are with God in Heaven, we do not know with speculative certitude for any man whether they are saved or not.

            I know Anglicans think it is a sign of the strength of their media via that they can honour the memory of St Thomas More’s and St John Fisher’s fidelity to Christ AND that of Thomas Cranmer but, and not for the first time, this is the Church of England violating the Principle of Non-Contradiction.
            They can’t all be right. They’re not all of them right. That we pretend they can be shows how far we’ve gone into an age of pure subjective sincerity. We just choose not to look too hard at the beliefs these three men died for. They’re not compatible. They are diametrically opposed. What is being honoured, then, is sentiment. It explains why the Muezzin was allowed to make an Islamic call to prayer in an Anglican Cathedral the other day.

            Where we might find common ground, though, is in the largesse of the mercy of Christ: So whilst Cranmer was sincerely wrong in nearly all of his beliefs I entrust his soul to God’s purifying clemency.
            Anglicans, though, can’t really do the same, can they, not believing (officially) in Purgatory…
            Ah well.

            I notice that St Joan of Arc’s far more edifying approach to her burning at the stake goes without mention in your reply.

          • cagedvole

            I don’t know what more there is to say about it except what I did say. The terribleness of her death guarantees nothing, if that’s what you’re hinting, where her very comprehensive devotions are concerned :-p Otherwise we’d better just look for the unfortunate character who has the worst death of all, and enquire into his beliefs at the time :-s

            I’m not an Anglican, and the via media seems to me a recipe for ill-judged compromise and ultimate apostasy.
            Of course I don’t believe in purgatory – if there were such a place, don’t you think God would have dropped a hint of it somewhere in the Scriptures??

          • ardenjm

            “don’t you think God would have dropped a hint of it somewhere in the Scriptures?”
            He did.
            Prayers for the dead is found in the Second Book of Maccabees. A canonical book according to the Catholic Church. Removed from the Canon by the Reformers – for obvious reasons.

            And then a passage in the New Testament which may refer to a prayer for the dead is found in 2 Timothy 1:16-18:

            “May the Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain, but when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me (the Lord grant to him to find the Lord’s mercy on that day); and in how many things he served at Ephesus, you know very well.”

            As with the verses from 2 Maccabees, these verses refer to prayers that will help the deceased “on that day”. It is not stated that Onesiphorus, for whom Saint Paul prayed, was dead, though some scholars infer this, based on the way Paul only refers to him in the past tense, and prays for present blessings on his household, but for him only “on that day”. And towards the end of the same letter, in 2 Timothy 4:19, Paul sends greetings to “Prisca and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphorus”, distinguishing the situation of Onesiphorus from that of the still living Prisca and Aquila.

            Lastly, at the risk of sounding churlish – you pooh-poohed the manner St Thomas More went to his death because he wasn’t being burned like Cranmer whose vitriol might be explained by the horror of his punishment. Now that I give you a non-vitriolic St Joan of Arc who forgave her enemies as she faced the same end you decide that it’s not so telling after all. Seems to me we should take things on face value: the courage we do not dispute of any of these who go to their deaths. The question is do they pray for the forgiveness of those who persecute them? Since this is exactly what Our Lord did and the proto-martyr St Stephen it seems to be a good criteria for speaking of the divine Charity in their hearts as they went to their deaths – praying for the salvation of those doing such a wicked deed.
            Cranmer didn’t manifest that – at least not in the detailed account of his murder. Let’s hope he had it in his heart…

          • cagedvole

            Maccabees must wait, for if i have time over the weekend.
            I know that many die blameless and holy deaths; it seems to have been the rule rather than the exception among the Marian martyrs. That in itself isn’t a proof of their rightness, though indicative it certainly is – many of them could have avoided death by a word, (like suicide bombers, but unlike Cranmer).
            That wasn’t really the point i was making. Your animus against the unhappy archbishop just seemed unpleasantly extreme. i thought it would be more becoming to cut him some slack, remembering that there but for the grace of God go either one of us 🙂

          • ardenjm

            I’m not sure Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is necessarily very reliable as a source, however.
            Interestingly when the Church canonises martyrs she does so not because of all those marvellous Christ-like qualities they exhibit but because of the altogether more objective reason for their death: were they killed out of hatred for the Catholic Faith or not. So, in the case of John the Baptist (and, arguably Thomas More) for the issue of the sanctity of marriage. This is why St Joan of Arc isn’t in the calender as a martyr but as a saint and virgin: i.e. not the reason for her death but for the heroic virtue of her life.
            Some martyrs weren’t very holy at all: but they received the grace of faithfulness until death and are recognised as martyrs.
            My animus against Cranmer – the real one, not the ersatz one – is based on his role in destroying 1000 years of Catholic patrimony in these islands and his venom against the Mass. When you read this you are amazed how the Blog writer Cranmer would even want to sneak Holy Communion in St Peter’s in Rome! Talk about betraying his own alter ego!

            “But what availeth it to take away beads, pardons, pilgrimages, and such other like popery, so long as the two chief roots remain unpulled up? Whereof, so long as they remain, will spring again all former impediments of the Lord’s harvest, and corruption of his flock. The rest is but branches and leaves, the cutting away whereof is but like topping and lopping of a tree, or cutting down of weeds, leaving the body standing and the roots in the ground; but the very body of the tree, or rather the roots of the weeds, is the popish doctrine of transubstantiation, of the real presence of Christ’s flesh and blood in the sacrament of the altar (as they call it) and the sacrifice and oblation of Christ made by the priest, for the salvation of the quick and the dead.”

            He mocked the manner in which devout simple Catholics of his day, “run from altar to altar, and from sacring (as they call it) to sacring, peeping, tooting, and gazing at that thing which the priest held up in his hands . . . What moved the priests to lift up the sacrament so high over their heads; or the people to cry to the priest, ‘Hold up! Hold up!’ and one man to say to another ‘Stoop down before’; or to say, ‘This day have I seen my Maker. I cannot be quiet, except I see my Maker once a-day?’ What was the cause of all these, and that as well the priest as the people so devoutly did knock and kneel at every sight of the sacrament, but that they worshipped that visible thing which they saw with their eyes, and took it for very God?”

            And of the un-bloody re-presentation of Our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary which is the sacrifice of the Mass Cranmer had this to say:
            “it is neither a sacrifice propitiatory, nor yet a sacrifice of laud and praise, nor in any wise allowed before God, but abominable and detestable.”

            So, you see, I’ve been quite mild to the “abominable and detestable” Cranmer by
            1. Praising his powerful English language
            2. Praising his courage
            3. Pitying his horrific end
            4. Hoping he made it in to Purgatory.

          • cagedvole

            I think i do see. It seems to be disagreeing with catholic theology that makes a man abominable and detestable… Cranmer believed it was safer to die than compromise with false doctrine, but by your account it was only the false doctrine itself that he anathematised. I’m afraid you must have added the ad hominem element yourself :-s

            As for the Maccabees – weren’t the dead soldiers who seem to be getting prayed for the same who had died in the practice of idolatry, that is mortal sin? So it would be a totally self-defeating example.

            The Reformers did indeed take out the Apocrypha for obvious reasons, such as the fact that it didn’t belong there in the first place.
            The Hebrew Bible as you know didn’t contain it, which was the Bible Jesus himself and his Apostles used – nuff said, I should have thought.
            But Jerome was persuaded against his better judgment to include it, likewise for obvious reasons. Bad evidence is better than no evidence at all.
            :-p
            Onesiphorus, meh – worse than flimsy. IF we already KNEW there was such a doctrine as purgatory, he might make quite a nice speculative illustration, but as a plank for a proof? well, hardly.

          • ardenjm

            ” It seems to be disagreeing with catholic theology that makes a man abominable and detestable”
            He didn’t disagree. He mocked. He didn’t just mock he torn down. So much for working towards Church unity.
            “Cranmer believed it was safer to die than compromise”
            Of course that’s what he did do initially. And more than once. But I respect his courage when his back was against the wall. He was still wrong in his beliefs and his attacks against 1000 years of the Church in England.
            “the dead soldiers who seem to be getting prayed for the same who had died in the practice of idolatry, that is mortal sin?”
            That’s neat, if a little bit slippery of you. (Anyone would think you were an ex-Catholic looking to justify why you’d left the Church!) Go check up what’s ‘needed’ for a mortal sin to be mortal – there are 3 conditions. Whilst you’re at it review why we pray for the dead whatever we judge the mortal nature of their sins whilst living. Their final repentance may have happened in the last instance. It’s Dante’s wonderful ‘tear of repentence’ that gets souls into Purgatorio remember. So, in short, no, your clever extrapolation is merely that. Clever. Not true.
            “The Hebrew Bible as you know didn’t contain it etc”
            The Hebrew Canon was set post-Christ probably some time in the First Century – when the Messiahship of Jesus was likewise “dealth with”. But the Church’s authority to canonise is not predicated on what post-Resurrection Judaism decides.
            I’m not sure where you get the idea that Our Lord and the Apostles used only he Hebrew tanakh and didn’t know the Septuagint. Jerome might have been reluctant, Augustine was famously so for Revelation also. But that’s by the by: The Church has decided 1+2 Maccabbees to be Canonical along with every other book. It’s the Council of Jerusalem all over again: some say one thing, others say different, the Church meets. The Church decides.
            (Luther ironically gave them deuterocanoical status inspite of hating them – his words – for their “heathen unnaturalities.” He also wanted to remove James, Jude, Revelation from the NT! Don’t let the Bible get in the way of your “sola scriptura” heresy there Martin!)
            You were looking for ‘hints’ initially. Now you want proofs. (Just like your requirement to show you someone who faced burning with greater Faith. When I did, you never mentioned the argument again.) Here is another hint though – concerning the canonicity of 2 Maccabbees:
            Hebrews 11:35 “Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life.” The hope of eternal life after torture is not found anywhere in the other books of the Old Testament, but is found in 2 Maccabees 7…. Oh look: Martin Luther ALSO wanted to remove Hebrews from the Canon of Scripture, too. WHAT a surprise…

            Like I said above: I suspect you are someone who was or who was very nearly a Catholic and who has pulled back from it. There’s possibly some moral/ethical reason for this. There nearly always is… But that’s your story. None of my business.

          • Cressida de Nova

            All their ancestors are Catholic before the Reformation. The choice for many was the staus quo or the chopping block. Good people who just wanted to stay alive with their families. Not everyone is or was Jeanne d’Arc. There is a bit of Catholic in all of them….the good bit:)

          • cagedvole

            No, the reason I know a bit about Catholicism is only that someone very closely related to me is one. I felt I owed it to that person to look into it, and have done. It’s a real anorak’s religion, isn’t it?

            “….He didn’t disagree. He mocked. He didn’t just mock, he tore at and tore down. So much for working towards Church unity!…”

            But he couldn’t do otherwise. He understood, as people in the 16th century tended to, that it’s a question of life or death. Church unity, when it means compromise with false doctrine, is not to be desired

            “…You were looking for ‘hints’ initially. Now you want proofs. …”

            My dear Not-Jim, that was just a gentlemanly periphrasis 🙂 What’s the use of anything short of proof?

            “….Just like your requirement to show you someone who faced burning with greater forgiveness than Cranmer…..”

            I don’t remember asking for that?
            But if i seemed to, now I can see why you were miffed when I had no particular thoughts on Joan! Apologies 🙂

          • Jack was unaware of this background information. It does explain the distinction you make between anti-Protestantism and anti-Protestants and accounts for the fire in your belly. Truthfully, Jack didn’t appreciate this hatred of the simple man’s faith in the Real Presence. It has shocked and disturbed Jack.

          • “Receive the Body and Blood of Christ very frequently. The sight of a Christian’s lips red with the Blood of Christ terrifies the enemy. He immediately recognizes the sign of his own ruin. He cannot stand the instrument of divine victory by which he was taken captive and cast down.”
            (Peter Damian)

            No wonder the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is under such a diabolical onslaught.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Arden was very upset as I was over the Eucharist incident in Rome. He was the only other Catholic if I remember correctly who expressed outrage at this. I attempted to explain how terrible this was quite graphically at the time , by comparing this to similar outrages that could be inflicted on other religions and their beliefs – preferring to believe that a Protestant could not be aware of the seriousness of this action.If you believe in transubstantiation then there can be little more sacrilegious or devastating.

          • cagedvole

            God is sovereign. If you know that, you know he can take care of his own honour, and isn’t depending on you to do it for him.

            I once took communion in a catholic church without being a catholic. I was with someone who really wanted the family to be together, and was keen to get special permission. It turned out when it came to the bit, though, that the priest couldn’t have cared less. “Permission, schmermission, be my guest” was his attitude – he was big on church unity, like Not-Jim. That was in Cambridge Massachusetts, some years back 🙂

          • Cressida de Nova

            American Catholicsim is notorious for heresy.The rest of the Catholic world do not ally themselves with American Catholicism.The priest would be defrocked anywhere else. You are ignorant and not responsible but that priest and those like him will rot in hell.They are enemies of the Church.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Purgatory is a generous concept.It is giving those who may not necessarily deserve it the opportunity for salvation .

          • cagedvole

            Cressida, you need to give this more thought.
            If you take out the conditionals, you’ve just defined the Gospel – “giving those who have not deserved it the opportunity for salvation”.
            It has 0 to do with purgatory.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Not more nasty than having your family burned alive in a Church by Germans about 73 years ago.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Fear not…I bring you good tidings..
            You will never be expelled from this blog for being anti Catholic

          • cagedvole

            Hardly tidings. I suspect you’re meaning to be heavily sarcastic, but don’t you read Mod posts? Cranmer doesn’t expel for opinions, just for throwing insults, which seems right and proper to me 🙂

          • Cressida de Nova

            Happy Jack used to be an extinct bird from the island of Mauritius. I don’t think he ever recovered from the experience so from now on he wants to distance himself psychologically , from any current persona by using the third person. Being a bird did his head in

            If you were born Protestant from an all Protestant traditional family,you would know that you are raised to be suspicious of and dislike Catholics. It is inherent in the Protestant culture. I know this from personal experience. My best friend of many many years is still an Anglican, attended a faith school and has a great admiration for Catholicism particularly in matters of conscience and the concept of truth.

          • cagedvole

            No I wasn’t. I had the good luck to grow up where catholicism was virtually unknown; it wasn’t on the radar at all.
            But there are parts of the Kingdom, more spiritually aware i suppose, where there’s a strong distrust of it still. That’s folk wisdom, rising from a residual historical awareness. Catholics did after all attempt several coups over the years which would have made 9/11 look paltry, if they could have pulled them off.

            Curious that you hear talk sometimes as if the poor, hapless catholics were just minding their own business when along came the brutal protestants and drove them out, and took over their churches 🙁
            But of course, it was the same people. They heard the Word preached and they changed their minds, – even though in many cases it meant persecution and death.

          • Happy Jack was banned too for being unnecessarily rude and offensive towards HG. Just avoid the word “bigot” and resist the temptation to be personal and all will be well. It can be difficult at times – but it strengthens the soul. Your contributions are too valuable to risk being banned again. Jack finds them clear, orthodox and to the point. Always helpful in testing times.

          • len

            Quite amazing how Catholics continue to believe the rubbish they have been indoctrinated into?. Open your mind and your spirit and let all that RCC rubbish go.

          • Sarky

            Just swap Catholics for christians and RCC for christianity.

          • IanCad

            Now Jim!! I’m disappointed with you; Quite how you can back down from such a Merry Andrew as this thread has become, with the weak excuse that you have hurty feelings is a cop-out on your part.
            All the – at least those I have read – posts have been robust, passionate and gentlemanly without any great degree of unseemliness.
            Come on!! Shoulders back! Dry your eyes, and man up.

          • ardenjm

            Just with David Anderson, IanCad.
            And not for reasons of hurt feelings but for reasons of pragmatic judgement: he is a bigot with invincible ignorance. Only a particular grace from God will make the scales fall from his eyes and wasting words won’t do that. Dust from feet and all that.

            (And it’s not Jim, it’s JM.)

          • IanCad

            Apologies!! I made the jump that you were ArdenJim, from w …..ayyyy back.
            Always enjoyed your posts, but don’t ask me to remember them.

          • donadrian

            Strictly speaking there has only been ONE instance of an ex cathedra pronouncement by the Pope since the declarattion of Papal Infallibility in 1870, and that is the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Pope Pius XII on 1st November 1950.

    • andrew

      Papal infallibility has only ever been used in defending the mother of God’s virginity and the assumption our our lady. In no other way has papal infallibility ever been declared. Though I concede history is probably laden with those who presumed otherwise. And do I, as a Catholic believe the crusades to be a righteous act? Yes. 100%.

      • As I point out elsewhere, Catholic scholars disagree with you (and eachother). That’s my point, really. You have exercised your own private judgment and decided that there are only two infallible announcements of the Pope. But other scholars (e.g. https://www.quora.com/How-many-times-has-the-Pope-spoken-ex-cathedra ) hold that there are several more. Who’s right?

        Ultimately, if you make the dreadful decision that God couldn’t or didn’t make himself sufficiently clear in the Bible, then adding layers of man-made pronouncements to clarify his meaning is not going to help. You then need other human pronouncements to clarify those pronouncements. (Does Pope Francis’s Amor Laetis clarify, or contradict, previous Catholic teaching? Who can say? We need someone to infallibly interpret it for us…).

        • ardenjm

          David would have been wagging his finger at the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem, at the Bishops at the Council of Nicea, at the Fathers at the Council of Trent saying to them:
          “It’s all in Scripture you don’t need to talk and decide any of this. You’re just making stuff up and on what authority. You change it from one generation to the next. Hypocrites.”
          To which whilst everyone else would have replied, “The Church set the Canon of Scripture. And he who refuses to accept that: anathema sit.”
          St Peter would have said to him:
          “there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2Peter2
          Where is Anglicanism now?
          A mish-mash of doctrinal incoherencies that it pretends is its principal strength. Flying Bishops and Women Bishops, Evangelical Protestants declaring the Mass to be a blasphemy and pseudo-Catholics reserving the ‘Sacrament’ in their tabernacles, homosexual “marriages” performed in Churches and those who condemn such acts, and not a single doctrinal document that all can agree upon. Truly, the purely human origins of the Anglican communion are glaringly obvious.

          • If that is what you think, then your understanding of Protestantism is very poor.

            1) We distinguish between actual apostles, and false pretenders to an imaginary succession. By their fruits, we know those pretenders.

            2) Protestants agree with the early Councils because their conclusions were derived from, and agree with, Scripture. And indeed, they argued their case from Scripture, not from imaginary Papal authority. Sola Scriptura does not mean that you do not seek to understand Scripture, and even to develop a theological vocabulary from it – but rather quite the opposite: that you do. What it *does* mean is that you do not add teachings to Scripture, or make spurious claims that a teaching somehow developed from something in Scripture that is far away from it, and contradictory to it.

            I am not an Anglican (which in today’s world is no example of adherence to Sola Scriptura, but rather of what happens when Sola Scriptura is abandonned), but you appear to not be aware that the Roman Catholic church is awash with modernists? And, did you not read of the homosexual orgy in Vatican quarters the other week? The idea that unity with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome is a defence against false teaching (of which the Mass is the prime example) and evil is testified against everywhere. Or do all the child abuse and gay scandals in the Roman Catholic church just not exist? Or they’re somehow different to child abuse and gay scandals elsewhere in the world?

      • Anna

        “Papal infallibility has only ever been used in defending the mother of God’s virginity and the assumption our our lady…”

        So was the Pope was infallible or not when he announced the doctrine of papal infallibility?

        • ardenjm

          Strictly speaking it was a Church Council that enunciated that.
          You surely don’t have a problem with Church Councils – because Scripture has the first one in the Acts of the Apostles – the Council of Jerusalem. Interestingly, they decide what will become a norm and set down in Scripture (which all sola scripturists must believe) WITHOUT making use of Scripture themselves.
          Oops…

          • Anna

            Not all church councils are equal. No Christian doubts the validity of the Council at Jerusalem, or the early church councils. Nothing in the Nicene Creed, for example, contradicts the scriptures.

            However any so called ‘church’ council that comes up with ideas such as the infallibility of their leader should be treated with some suspicion. Only God is infallible. Please read my comment to Happy Jack on the subject.

          • ardenjm

            “No Christian doubts the validity of…the early church councils.”
            Except of course Christian Copts didn’t accept the validity of Chalcedon and the Assyrians didn’t accept the validity of Ephesus (until 1994).
            But then neither would you accept the dogmatic affirmation of Ephesus that Mary is the Mother of God would you? So, in fact, your protestantism extends back now to things which the heresiarch Luther accepted – Gottesmutter – in the early Church councils. Why? Because protestantism has developed and drifted even further away from the truth. This explains why all those weird 19th century American ex-protestant sects have emerged: Universalists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Prosperity Gospel, Charismatic Movement. The list is endless.
            Why? No Magisterium. Papal infallibility is merely the articulation of what the Magisterium has always been and always done ever since St Peter said in Acts 15, “it seems good to us and the Holy Spirit.” Why define infallibility in the 19th century? Why, precisely because of all these ill-informed (ex) protestant sectarians whittering on about their own interpretation and attacking the notion of the Magisterium.

          • Anna

            The councils you mentioned are not ‘early’ church councils, but later ones.

          • ardenjm

            Ah.
            Well perhaps you’d be so kind to say which Councils you choose to accept as being guided by the Holy Spirit? and which you don’t.

            (Sigh. Once you’ve replaced the Magisterium of the Church with your own Magisterium you end up having a bespoke Gospel of Me that only Me can interpret faithfully…)

          • Anna

            Why not try and be a bit more polite in your discourse?

          • ardenjm

            Or don’t answer the question.
            As you wish.
            No skin off my nose.

            Err. Thanks.

          • Cressida de Nova

            When she cannot answer a question she will attack you on grounds of politesse Not worth your time.

          • Anna

            “Not worth your time.”

            So please don’t waste your time. As HG mentioned to your earlier, it is rather tiresome to engage with someone who has nothing substantial to contribute, and resorts to endless ad hominem attacks, and flings around insults like ‘anti-Catholic bigot’ a lot. Let’s either be polite or simply ignore each other, shall we?

          • Cressida de Nova

            Your tedious turgid uninteresting contributions are excruciatingly boring riddled with inaccuracies. I was not responding to you but to ardenjm warning him about you.I realise English is obviously your second language
            but it does not excuse your second rate mind.

          • Anna

            If my comments are so boring, you are free to ignore them. This constant abuse from you has been going on too long, and I must ask you to stop.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Constant abuse? Truth is obviously one of your strengths
            I must remind you that if you continue to accuse anyone of being impolite because they can demolish your flimsy arguments supporting your bogus cult, I will support them against you.

          • Anna

            May I remind you that you have said – at least 3 times now – that you were going ignore me! As you seem to find it impossible to do so, let me help you – by not responding to anything you write in future. You do have a track record of writing rude comments to/about me and a few others on this blog. It really is not worth my time to respond, so this will be the last time. I do feel sorry for you – it is obvious that you are burdened with so much bitterness that you feel the need to use insulting and unchristian language. You mentioned ‘bogus cult’; sadly, your faith has not given you any inner peace or you wouldn’t write like that. Do you really feel it is your job to defend your fellow Catholics on this blog by using such unpleasant language? These are grown men quite able to stand up for themselves, not babies who must hide behind Mummy’s skirts. I am sure they are embarrassed to receive such assistance from you. The sort of language you use – ‘to support them’ – does not do either you or Catholicism any credit. I wish you well and I will pray for you.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Physician heal thyself.Pray for yourself. My true Christian faith has given me strength to speak the truth. Your fake rendition of Christianity is a haven to nurture hypocrisy which I must say you do very well.

            While I am writing this someone has just said to me that I am nurturer and everything sings under my care….a Non Catholic as well… Goodness this has to be Divine providence…so much for bitterness….LOL

            I do hope one day someone will be able say the same about you and that you gain an understanding of true Christian ethic along the way…somehow.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Because your anti Catholic bias and manipulative behaviour does not warrant it.

          • Anna

            Cressida, what happened to your resolve to ignore me – rather short lived. If you wish to promote Catholicism, you might do it better with more gentleness and respect (1Peter 3:15).

            Now that you are here, I hope you will find it useful to read John 3:3.

  • len

    One has only to read through the history of the Popes to see these men were mostly criminals, far from preserving the Word of God these men corrupted the Word of God for their own gain.
    Why should Francis be any different?.

    • Terry Mushroom

      I agree there have been some absolute shockers. St Paul talked about feet of clay. All of us, of course, have fallen short of the glory of God. The wonder is that Our Lord entrusted his Church to sinful people.

      • Chefofsinners

        Jars of clay. Feet of clay are in the book of Daniel.

        • dannybhoy

          You’ve become even more pedantic since you robbed your picture of blind mice specs and hat….
          Put ’em back on….

          • Chefofsinners

            Accuracy is not pedantry. Particularly in relation to the word of God.

      • len

        Truth Is God didn`t.

        • Terry Mushroom

          St Paul was without sin?

          • len

            No, The Holy Spirit is.

    • Cressida de Nova

      Vietato lamentarsi !

      • len

        Not sure what that means as I don`t speak Italian?.
        Keep of the Grass?

        • Cressida de Nova

          Stop whingeing and yes
          You should keep off the grass as well:)

          • len

            Thanks Cressida 😉

      • Chefofsinners

        Primus stovus

    • As sinful as they were, are or might be in the future, God has never permitted a Pope to formally and infallibly teach heresy i.e. something that contradicts the constant teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium or propositions of the Extraordinary Magisterium. If he ever does, we’ll know the end times have arrived.

      • Mere theological subterfuge. After this endless torrent of wickedness, Rome developed theological doctrines and distinctions that allowed it all to be bracketed out to her adherent’s satisfaction. So, now, with the convenient distinctions of Magesterium this and that at hand, the Pope could eat his own mother, take no effective action against endless sexual abuse scandals, and infallibly declare that he was a donkey, and Jack still wouldn’t bat an eyelid; it’s all provided for.

        This does not work well to the satisfaction of anyone who has read “by their fruits, you shall know them.”

        • You just don’t get it, do you? Is this wilful or are you just dense? Popes could do the former two but not the latter. Christ never promised sinless Shepherds. He did promise his Church would never err in doctrine.

          • Anna

            “Christ never promised sinless Shepherds.”
            True, but we are not to follow false shepherds either – wolves who come devour the flock.

            “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)

            “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.”
            (2 Peter 3:17 and 18 NASB).

            John 10:12, Ezekiel 22:27 and 34:2, Jeremiah, 10:21,12:20, 23:1 and 50:6, Zechariah 11:17, Colossians 2:8.

          • None of those statements suggest that Christ’s Shepherds will righteous. Popes may have been wolves in sheep clothing and great sinners. The real issue is whether any of them has corrupted the Truth of the Gospel.

            Out of the 266 popes, only a handful have been bad. One should also note that no Pope, good or bad, has ever tried to change infallible teaching or has incorrectly defined doctrine on faith/morals. Being Pope and “infallible” does not mean one cannot sin. It means one cannot be
            wrong in specific contexts of faith/morals. Despite the fact that some popes have committed evil acts like murder, adultery/fornication, selling indulgences, etc. they never once sought to overturn infallible teaching – they were way too busy being corrupt they did not make any formal teachings on doctrine or dogma. Simultaneously, many great Catholic orders started during those periods. The Holy Spirit never abandons the Church.

          • Anna

            Only Christ is infallible. He is infallible because He is God, and the only sinless One among all mankind.

            Christians have to be pure in heart, and have a clear conscience in order to be led by the Spirit. If Christian leaders commit the evil acts you just listed, they grieve/quench the Holy Spirit and can receive no guidance from Him. Surely the College of Cardinals who chose such popes were not led of the Spirit. We are completely right to reject such authority, and if we do not, choosing to tolerate wickedness in the church, then many souls will be led astray (for example by the sale of indulgences). Today, in the COE, false teachings abound, and should we simply submit to those teachings? This is exactly why Luther opposed the RCC – he was contending for the faith as we are advised to do in Jude 1:3-4.

            I agree that many good Catholic orders arose in the Middle Ages, I also personally admire many Catholics, while disagreeing with their theology, and consider Pope Benedict to be a true Christian. Even so, I cannot help being surprised when Catholics express such absolute confidence in their church leadership – despite its past errors – when they should rather heed the warnings of Christ to be on their guard and not tolerate wicked leaders (Revelations).

          • Martin

            HJ

            Remember, Rome is not THE Church but a church, and Revelation makes it clear that a church may cease to have a lamp stand.

          • len

            The Holy Spirit never abandons the Church.?

            Ezekiel 10

            God’s Glory Departs From the Temple

          • God never abandoned His chosen people, Len.

      • len

        God has never permitted a Pope to do anything.

    • Mostly? One or two perhaps.

  • Sir John Oldcastle

    People are just beginning to realise that the Church of Rome is in the poo. Personally I prefer Benedict as he seems to believe something, and it’s consistent with Roman dogma. At least there is something there for us true Proddy Dogs to aim at in debate, unlike many RC posters on this blog.

    • Terry Mushroom

      The Church of Rome, as you put it, has always been in the poo because there are sinful people in it. And will be until the end of time. I write as a Catholic. Looking at the world, the wonder is that God bothers.

      • len

        I too cannot understand why God bothers with any of us sinners?.
        But I believe the church of Rome leads many astray with its false teachings. But I suppose the Protestant Churches are catching the church of Rome up fairly rapidly?.

        • “I too cannot understand why God bothers with any of us sinners?”
          Then you don’t understand scripture. Ask why He bothers with you, instead. Jack does, regularly (about himself, i.e.) You’re a father, so you must know.

        • Cressida de Nova

          You are very fortunate that God bothers with you. I think you should give thanks. For starters stop attacking his Church.

      • Inspector General

        Can help you out there. God isn’t bothered about us. At least not while we are on Earth. Why should it be the case anyway. The Higher Understanding instructs that we go about our business and amuse our Creator.

        • Terry Mushroom

          Inspector, you are one of the few on blogs that have made me laugh out loud because of your wit. I’m sure I’d very much enjoy your company at the Mouse & Wheel. But you’ve lost me with your Higher Understanding Doctrine. Did you find it written down on brass plates on the highest hill in Gloucestershire?

          • Inspector General

            My dear fellow, the Higher Understanding has been imparted to the Inspector over the decades. The result of questioning, examining and refusing to accept what idiot man has plastered all over Christ’s bequest to us.

            In the case of the greatest question of all – just why are we here, the best that officialdom, if we can call it that, has come up with is ‘so we can know and love God’. Barely adequate for an inquisitive 5 year old, whom one would not blame at all if he kicked his alma mater in the shins for his or her trouble…

          • Know, love and serve Him …. and to be happy with Him for eternity, Inspector.

            The profound is often simple. Sadly, it doesn;t mean that simple minds can grasp it.

          • Inspector General

            For some reason, the Inspector feels a song coming on…

          • “If I ruled the world” by any chance?

          • Anton

            Probably “My Way”.

          • “Highway to Hell”.

          • Anton

            When you start with a Bible and a pair of scissors, Inspector, as you do, this is invariably the result…

            http://www.auntannie.com/FridayFun/DollChain/DollChainsDiagonal440.jpg

          • Albert
          • Anton

            Have you read, according to your link, what is actually in that book?

          • Albert

            We know what Luther thought of James and we know what he did with Romans 3.28.

          • Anton

            You thereby confirm that you haven’t read that to which you link! Your link mentions *Catholic* translations of Romans that stuck in an “only” and says that Luther later improved his opinion of the NT books he disliked.

          • Albert

            Of course I didn’t read it – although I did see the reference to Catholic translations, but we’ve been through this one before. It’s something Luther shares with the Joseph Smith translation. I would simply point out that the addition is an addition.

            The other problem is that the vast majority of sources cited turn out not to be translations of Romans, rather they are just expressions in theology. For example, Aquinas says:

            “Non est ergo in eis [moralibus et caeremonialibus legis] spes iustificationis, sed in sola fide, Rom. 3:28Open in Logos Bible Software (if available): Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem, sine operibus legis” (Therefore the hope of justification is not found in them [the moral and ceremonial requirements of the law], but in faith alone

            Now that of course is not a translation. However, it is what Paul means. Justification is not found in works of the law, but in faith alone (in the sense that works of the law need not be added). And this is of course the problem with all this. “Alone” is always relative to something else.

            The same point comes up when considering John Chrysostom. Swan says:

            John Chrysostom, Hom. in Ep. ad Titum 3.3 (PG 62.679 [not in Greek text]).

            Well may Swan add “not in Greek text”. The homily does not in fact refer to Romans 3.28, it does make clear that we are not justified by works of the law, but does not include the expression “faith alone” either. When we turn to Chrysostom’s commentary on Romans, the text is given without the use of the word “alone”. Instead, as always, and as Paul is teaching, the homilies are against Jewish requirements. And, ironically, in that context, the expression “faith alone” would be perfectly Catholic, as Aquinas shows.

            So it seems to me that Swan is being a little coy about all this.

          • Inspector General

            Tell you what, Anton. We’ll stop trying to understand our creator better, as previous religious did, and instead stick at the existing wisdom present at an arbitrary point in time. How about 1890…

          • Anton

            The time at which the New Testament was completed will do me.

          • Terry Mushroom

            My Higher Understanding came after I visited Auschwitz during martial law. It was a bitterly cold, grey, day with few there. I was startled to learn that my companion was a Jew who had lost family there. We hardly spoke as we stumbled around, saddened and oppressed.

            That evening, we visited the sister of a mutual friend. She told us, how as a child, she and her mother lay on the floor as German and Russian bullets whizzed through the windows. Of how as a teenager, she went to Auschwitz which then wasn’t yet sanitised. Bones lay on the ground and dried skin hung from barbed wires.

            Danuta handed me a carved statue of the crucified Christ. The crown of thorns pressed hard down on His head, His face deeply scarred with suffering.

            “Take it,” she said. “This is Poland. Take and believe. He is the Lord of history and He has us in his care.”

          • Anton

            A most important place to visit. I came to understand the phrase “the abomination of desolation” there.

          • Terry Mushroom

            I googled Auschwitz to check my spelling. A tour company suggests, “Travel back to World War II…” Jesus wept. And I’m not blaspheming.

          • Inspector General

            It will never be known how many people lost their faith when Auschwitz surfaced. Many millions more than the victims of that place and the others.

            Or did they rather reject the God they had been told about. Brought up with. The God that man portrays as man’s eternal servant. If it wasn’t such a sad subject, it would be laughable. Perhaps few men can appreciate God in his awful entirety. Men who are, or at least were, called God fearing, as this man here identifies as.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Inspector, I learnt that I must never stop struggling for truth. I wonder why God apparently didn’t listen to the prayers of those who rumbled east in those rail cars. As I stood in the cell where Maximillian Kolbe gave his life for the sake of a married man, I was in frightened awe of such generous bravery, faith and generosity. I know how I’ve failed under far, far, far lesser tests.

            I think you’re right to mention God, as man’s eternal servant. The communion of saints tells me that God is not remote, curiously looking down to see if the world has gone completely mad yet. Seeing God in Jesus the suffering servant, I believe He still weeps. I don’t pray to that statue, as Catholics are sometimes accused of doing. Rather I see it as a sacramental in words which you’ll recognise if you’re of a certain age: an outward sign of inward grace by which Grace is given to our souls.

          • Inspector General

            Thousandth comment! Good show.

            One is shortly to collapse in a coiled heap in one’s basket, so he’ll drink to that.

            Chars!

          • Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question One:
            Q. What is the chief end of man?
            A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
            [ 1 Cor, 10:31; Rom. 11:36; Psalm 73:24-26; John 17:22, 24]
            .
            Sorry to introduce a morsel of Reformed truth into this Romanist feast like the proverbial pork pie at a Bar Mitzva.

          • This is Catholic belief about the purpose of man and how it is attained:

            Q. Why did God make you?
            A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

            Q. What must we do to save our souls?
            A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart.

            Q. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?
            A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.

            Q. Where shall we find the chief truths which the Church teaches?
            A. We shall find the chief truths which the Church teaches in the Apostles’ Creed.

            http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/balt/balt1.htm

  • Cressida de Nova

    Thanks….Im very interested in unaldulterated atheism. Most atheists have some Christian influence in the backgrounds which defines them but they are unconscious of it.

  • Inspector General

    Two thousand years of virtually unquestioned command from the top, now spinning (as tops are wont to do) from the appearance of the Blogsite. One wonders how many (more) years it will take to fully embrace this marvel of communication and dare it be said, questioning. Same, that things are no longer as they were, and never will be again.

    From the point of view of establishing the truth of it all, the more involved, the generally the better. You can’t have too much truth. It would be disastrous if one school of thought prevailed over others. (Yes liberals, you all controlling scoundrels, it be YOU who cannot be trusted). So a deacon really can stand next to a pope, you see. Not just before God but before man if he has a PC and something called wi-fi…

  • len

    Truth is the Pope is just a man with delusions.
    You can put a man in a dress, stick a funny hat on him, and the poor fool thinks he is infallible. It takes someone with a childlike faith to say ‘But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked’. (Revelation 3:17)

  • Chefofsinners

    “The Church needs more prophetic blogging..”
    Does it? One wonders how it survived these last 2000 years.
    Still, it is heartwarming to see this Protestant blogger acting like a dog on a walk up a lane of springtime flowers:
    Sniffing out a turd and adding his own contribution to the pile.

    • Albert

      Even when I disagree with you Chef, there are times when you really make me laugh!

  • David

    For all who defend orthodox, conservative Christianity I say “well done”,and the humble deacon seems much closer to the Truth than this ultra-liberal Pope.

  • len

    Biblical Christianity can only survive because God Himself ensures that it does. Gods Plan for the redemption of humanity has been under attack right from the onset, even in the Garden of Eden. What Satan cannot kill outright he will corrupt and render useless.
    Satan has corrupted the church of this there can be little doubt. I wondered why God would allow this and the answer is found in the Book of Job. Satan even tested the Lord Jesus Christ to see if he could corrupt Him.But Satan could not corrupt Christ so Satan decided to kill him.
    Do not look to the Church for truth but to Christ. Read Christ’s letter to the churches in Revelation.
    Deception is rife in these last days and Gods Word is the arbiter and the definer of Truth.

    • Inspector General

      You’re typing all this out in a straight-jacket with a pen clenched in your teeth, aren’t you…

  • CliveM

    Well this is interesting. 316 posts before 7. Nothing like a bit of ecumenical arguing to get the juices flowing.

    The old fault lines still run deep.

    • Sarky

      Is anymore evidence required that religion is man made?

      If the word came from god, there would be zero comments.

      • Unless, of course, man were to be fallen, and have a bent towards resisting God’s truth. In which case we’d all disagree about everything…

        • Sarky

          Always a get out isn’t there?

          • You mean, a satisfying and coherent explanation for reality as we find it?

          • Sarky

            Sorry, but i like the model of reality in my head to actually match the one I exist in.

          • And all agnostics and atheists agree with that model of reality?

          • Sarky

            Well, as agnosticism is about knowledge and atheism about belief, i doubt it.

          • Paolo Pagliaro

            Good to know that such a wonderful match have been achieved inside your head: scientists and philosophers now can concentrate their studious efforts on your precious case.

          • Sarky

            ‘Has been achieved’

      • CliveM

        Is there any more evidence needed that you just don’t understand human nature? Or why your comment amounts to no evidence at all?

      • carl jacobs

        The argument you are attempting to make goes like this:

        1. If God exists, then X must be true.
        2. X is false
        3. God doesn’t exist.

        The entire argument hangs on the authority of the first premise. By what authority did you establish it? Well, it’s based upon your own authority since you don’t possess another. So the argument you are actually making is:

        1. If I was God, then X would be true.
        2. X is false
        3. God must not exist because He couldn’t be different from my self-authorized conception.

        You (unfortunately for your argument) are not God, and so your conceptions of God aren’t really relevant.

        • Sarky

          Change authority for evidence and you might get closer to my argument.

          • carl jacobs

            No, this would be the old “Given that there is no evidence for God, then there is no evidence for God” trick. You assert a priori that all things have immanent cause, and thus define yourself as the winner before the argument even starts. You then claim the right to define both the nature of evidence and the way in which it must be evaluated. It’s easy to win an argument when you control all the terms of the debate. But in fact you are doing more nothing more than hiding the assertion of your own authority behind some illusion of compelled belief.

          • Sarky

            But you do exactly the same!
            Name one christian apologist who hasnt defined the nature of the evidence and the way it is evaluated? The burdon of proof is on you, its not down to me to prove a negatve. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          • Chefofsinners

            The Christian apologist does not define the way in which evidence should be evaluated. We maintain that you must evaluate the evidence on your own terms and then exert faith, either to believe or to disbelieve.

          • Sarky

            Two points.

            1. There is no evidence.

            2. The road to truth cannot be
            found through faith.

            What i mean is, if i had faith that the world was controlled by pixies living in my shed, it wouldnt make it true. I would require evidence.
            In the absence of evidence faith is a meaningless way of getting to truth.

          • len

            Do you accept the Big Bang?.

          • Sarky

            Yes, and i know where you are going and the answer is ‘we dont know yet’, which is a much more honest position than ‘god did it’.

          • Anton

            The Big Bang is a scientific assertion that the universe had a beginning – just like the Bible says and many pagan religions deny.

          • Sarky

            As a scientist, you know that is irrelevant.

          • Anton

            Irrelevant to what? It doesn’t help me solve Einstein’s field equations but that’s not what I was trying to do in my preceding post.

          • len

            So God might have done it?

          • Sarky

            Len, the fairies in my underwear draw did it, they gave us light and implanted memories.
            My theory is equally as valid as yours and has the same amount of evidence for it.

            To find truth you evaluate the evidence. You have no evidence.

          • Did you know it was a Catholic priest who first proposed this theory?

          • Chefofsinners

            There is an abundance of evidence. Personal testimony and existence of the universe being two significant pieces. The question is how you interpret the evidence. That requires faith.

          • Sarky

            Personal testimony and the existence of the universe are not evidence, they prove nothing. I have read countless testimonies of alien abductees, does that prove the existence of aliens?? As for using the universe as existence for god, how? Where is your evidence?
            As for faith, see what i wrote.

          • Chefofsinners

            Evidence is not that which proves something. Evidence supports a point of view. Each person must be convinced in their own mind. The amount of evidence each person requires, the way they interpret the evidence and the decision they reach is different person by person. You and I are looking at the same evidence. For me it is sufficient for me to choose to put my faith in God. For you, it leads you to put your faith in atheism, Darwinism and whatever other rubbish you believe.

          • Sarky

            Faith is an unreliable path to truth.
            Faith is something you use when you can’t prove something, if you could, you wouldn’t require faith.
            I dont have faith, i assess the facts and evidence and use that to come to a conclusion.
            As for the rubbishi believe, at least i am in good company with some of the greatest minds that have ever lived.

          • len

            You want evidence?.

            People saw Jesus, who is God and didn`t believe him.They witnessed the teaching and the miracles and still didn`t believe. Faith is a gift from God so none can boast!..

        • Anton

          Your reappearance for this thread is particularly timely!

          “The Air Force never sleeps”.

          • carl jacobs

            I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of logicians suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I feared something terrible had happened.

            I was sure it was Jack, but it turned out to be sarky.

          • Funnily enough Jack thought of you today when this article was first posted and wondered to himself if you would comment on one of your favourite subjects.

          • carl jacobs

            What? You mean the story about how Luther Skywalker destroyed the Death Star with proton Solas?

          • Only because he was used to hitting Womp Rats in his T-16 on his home world. Plus, he had the Force with him. Practice makes perfect and when combined with a Higher Authority is undefeatable. Just like Jack’s use of rapier like logic aided by an infallible Mysterious force. It takes both.

          • carl jacobs

            Didn’t seem to help Pope Palpatine in the end though.

          • Darth Sidious was permitted a run for a while and the wheat were sifted from the chaff. That’s how it works. Democracy – without suitable Counsel is always open to evil and deception leading to its subversion, then dictatorship and tyranny.

            Btw, have you subscribed to MUTV yet? It’s the only way to witness Man Utd’s resurgence in the States. Who is it they play on Friday?

          • carl jacobs

            We recently had a “Manchester United” night here with a local Indoor Soccer club. Some Man U coaches were in attendance. I missed it. You can’t imagine my disappointment.

            I could have worn my Man City shirt.

          • Hmm …. and Jack bets you were devastated not to see Pope Francis when he visited America. What attire would a Calvinist wear at such an event? Sackcloth and ashes?

          • carl jacobs

            What attire would a Calvinist wear … to meet Pope Francis?

            Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

          • Nowadays, a good Catholic would share the same strip*.

            In Association Football, kit (also referred to as strip or soccer uniform) is the standard equipment and attire worn by players.

          • Grouchy Jack

            We can do without your smart arse comments, Yank.

          • carl jacobs

            No, actually you can’t. You need someone to teach you proper English.

        • Simon Platt

          Precisely!

    • Anton

      Yes, the record is currently in the 900s with one of Mrs Proudie’s columns; let’s get it into four figures. Mrs Proudie didn’t seem too delighted, oddly. I’m sure His Grace will be happier with the entirely constructive character of the discussions below. He was on both sides of the Reformation five centuries ago, after all.

      • CliveM

        Let’s hope the debate can be kept constructive.

        • Albert

          I think the impressive thing is the speed at which this thread has grown.

          • Dolphinfish

            Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine
            There is always laughter and good red wine…

            People don’t read enough Belloc these days.

          • Albert

            at least, I’ve always found it so
            Benedicamus Domino!

          • Anton

            Belloc’s tussle with historian and ordained protestant GG Coulton is entertaining. They tangled over whether the early church permitted divorce, and it turned out that they were using different meanings of ‘early’ but by then they were so locked into an antagonistic exchange that neither gave an inch and both were decent polemicists. No resemblance to anything on this blog, of course.

          • Albert

            Yes, I was getting to the last sentence before I read it too!

    • Important points and Jack thinks it is a good, robust debate. Ecumenical Councils used to be lively affairs too with fisticuffs and all sorts going on.

    • Dolphinfish

      For an Anglican blog, the site goes ballistic when Rome appears on the horizon. Go figure.

  • Albert

    This destruction, Deacon Nick avers, is evidenced in the appointment of the pro-choice moral theologian Professor Nigel Biggar to the Pontificia Academia pro Vita. What on earth is a pro-abortion Anglican doing on a body which was founded with the purpose of promoting and defending human life?

    It might be useful to ground all this in a little reality. Here’s Crux:

    Rev. Nigel Biggar, who was recommended as a member of the Academy by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, primarily because of his work on euthanasia.

    The appointment had scandalized some former PAV members because Biggar had once claimed in an interview to be in favor of reducing the UK’s legal abortion upper limit to 18 weeks. This was not, obviously, the Catholic position, although the bishops of England and Wales have been happy in the past to urge even 20 weeks (it is currently 24) as a stepping-stone to outlawing all abortion.

    But the larger point I made was that Biggar was not there because he was a Catholic, but to help the Academy dialogue and create consensus beyond the Church’s boundaries (which is the purpose, after all, of a Vatican academy).

    And this is confirmed by Archbishop Paglia the head of the commission:

    “I’m not afraid,” says Paglia, “because for me dialogue is not about compromising. Dialogue is a way of loving.”

    So Biggar’s role there is to enable the Church to have a conversation with those who disagree with the pro-life position because it is felt that the conversation is a more effective way of promoting Catholic teaching on this.

    Anyone still interested in the actual issue (and whether it has been fairly represented) should read here:

    https://cruxnow.com/interviews/2017/07/19/head-vaticans-academy-life-dialogue-love-not-compromise/

    It will be noted that the person who represents secular thought to the Academy is himself an Anglican cleric.

    • Interesting article ….

      • Albert

        It may be unwise to appoint such dodgy people, but as usual, when we look at what is intended, there isn’t much to see.

        • Ecumenicalism is a touch-paper for some and, indeed, many mistakes have been made. The strategy behind widening the discussion on pro-life issues and the acknowledgement the Church’s message is falling on deaf ears in these times, is well argued.

          • Albert

            Yes, it’s interesting to me that you see that. What cradle Catholic often don’t get is that their gestures are misinterpreted outside of the Church. A gesture intended to suggest friendship is taken by Anglicans often enough as a sign that Catholics are really just as liberal as they are.

            The Vatican’s ecumenical task would be more effective if it had a few more converts who know what it is like to be on the other side of the Tiber!

          • The gestures are also misinterpreted inside the Church too. It’s why Jack finds it difficult blogging on very conservative, traditional sites. One has the impression it is all formula and rules for some and the message of the Gospel is being lost behind this. Francis has challenged this mind-set, too acrimoniously in Jack’s view, and has raised some important questions for the Church. Jack thinks he is pushing the envelope too far, however, and creating too much of a “mess”. His job as Pope is to lead, not to trigger and generate more confusion.

            This is a good article from 2 years ago by Deacon Donnelly. Many of the comments are insightful.

            https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/fighting-apostasy-part-i

          • Albert

            I think you and I are pretty close on all this.

          • Cressida de Nova

            That is interesting about Anglicans misinterpreting gestures. That must have been a big step for you. It must have been a shock at first. We approach life and concepts differently….so I am told.

          • Albert

            It seemed like a smaller step once I had made it. How hard can it be to come home? 🙂 And the things that surprised me (like the fact that Catholics aren’t total liberals after all, and the liturgy is better than expected) pleasantly surprised me.

    • James60498 .
      • Albert

        Yes, did I mispseak?

        • James60498 .

          Not that I know of.

          Just ensuring that you knew what kind of man you were talking about.

          • Albert

            Thank you. I didn’t know all that. All flesh is as grass. I love the way that half-way down the page there is a link that says:

            Click here to learn about St. Peter Damian’s struggle against an epidemic of sodomy and corruption among the clergy of the eleventh century, a story with great relevance for the Catholic Church today.

            Mind you, I’m not sure why the page shows us so many erotic images. I think we get the idea.

          • James60498 .

            Yes. I am never quite sure why it is deemed necessary to show so much.

            One is probably sufficient to prove the point.

  • Simon Platt

    I’m a Catholic from Lancaster Diocese and an admirer of both Rev. Donnelly and Bishop Campbell.

    Bishop Campbell has done many good things; I can recall only three that have caused me disquiet, of which shutting down “Protect the Pope” was one. Of course I don’t know what happened privately, but I think the caricature here that implies that His Lordship betrayed a confidence is rather poor. Like many people I followed “Protect the Pope” until its suspension and my recollection is that there was a good deal of speculation at the time about what might have passed between the deacon and the bishop. The press release complained of here just confirmed what had been speculated about.

    I wish it hadn’t happened. I even go so far as to say that I think Bishop Campbell made a mistake. But I don’t think he did anything improper.

    I always disliked the name, though. “Protect the Faith” is much better.

    • The charged circumstances of 2010 played a part in the choice of the name “Protect the Pope”. Peter Tatchell had set up the agitprop group Protest the Pope to attack Pope Benedict XVI and make his state visit as unpopular and disrupted as possible. In answer to Protest the Pope I set up Protect the Pope. Within a week Peter Tatchell posted on Protect the Pope. The rest is history. Well more like, a footnote. Thanks Simon for your kind comments.

      • May God Bless and keep you, Nick.

        • Thank you Happy Jack and for your contributions to this discussion. We are living in the times of II Tim 4:3. And St Paul tells us what we must do, “keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” May God give us all the grace to attain this.

          • Amen.
            Jack always enjoys your articles when he comes across them, Nick. He’s noticed you’ve matured in your faith since the early days of Protect the Pope which he followed too. Calmer and more peaceful about what is going on – but no less committed to defending the Faith.

          • Cressida de Nova

            It is all you can do and you are not alone, you do have the support of other Catholics.

            The reason why a few Catholics visit and post on this blog regularly is to do our bit as well, enlightening the Protestants in the error of their ways which they don’t always appreciate but it keeps them on their toes and we like enriching their lives with little snippets and gleams of Catholic truth.

            There are no progressives here. Probably because they are scared of Jack and Albert. They fire the arrows and I sing the hymns and row the boat:)

      • Inspector General

        Ah! It’s you, Donnelly. Carry on that man, and keep questioning everything…

        Anything that will help boot the homosexual cabal out of the Vatican will help. Yes, it’s mission drift, but who cares…

  • Watchman

    Emergency rations. The beard boiled up makes a nutritious soup!

    • Inspector General

      As indeed does scavenged cigarette filters…

      • Watchman

        A delicacy which I’ll leave to someone of your impeccable taste.

  • len

    There’s going to be some interesting discussions going on with St Peter at the Gates of Heaven.
    What will qualify us for entry?. Denomination?, good works?, belonging to ‘the right church?, having someone pray for us when we are deceased?. Even holding to’ the right theology’?. What will it be?.
    Eternal Life is IN Christ Jesus, unless we are IN Christ Jesus what we do will count for nothing. That is why Jesus gave the direct command,” You must be born again”, this is not a suggestion!.
    Being born again is not having a bit of water splashed over your head as an infant, but a spiritual act upon a repentant sinner performed by the Holy Spirit making us ONE Spirit with Jesus Christ . This is salvation.

    • Terry Mushroom

      A Catholic joke tells of a man, pure of heart and righteous in the eyes of God, turning up for his interview with St Peter. Without hesitation, Peter unlocked the gates. Once through, the man discovered that heaven was just that, impossible to describe.

      But one thing puzzled him. It was the wall. Behind it, he could hear laughing, singing and evident joy. Just like where he was standing.

      “What’s with the wall? “he asked St Peter. “And who are the people on the other side?”

      St Peter smiled and stroked his beard. “They’re the Catholics. And the wall is so that think they’re the only ones here.”

      (BTW, I’m a Catholic. We have lots of jokes against ourselves.)

      • Burt Valance

        I’ve never heard that one before …

        • Terry Mushroom

          I like the one about the person who asked the Jesuit casuist if he could smoke while he was praying.

          “No,” was the advice. “But you can pray while you smoke.”

          (When smoking wasn’t an excommunicating offence, as it were.)

          • Good one. Never heard it before.

          • Sarky

            On their way to get married, a young Catholic couple is involved in a fatal car accident. The couple found themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to process them into Heaven. While waiting, they began to wonder: Could they possibly get married in Heaven? When St. Peter showed up, they asked him. St. Peter said, “I don’t know. This is the first time anyone has asked. Let me go find out,'” and he left. The couple sat and waited, and waited. Two months passed and the couple were still waiting. While waiting, they began to wonder what would happen if it didn’t work out; could you get a divorce in heaven? After yet another month, St. Peter finally returned, looking somewhat bedraggled. “Yes,” he informed the couple, “You can get married in Heaven.” “Great!” said the couple, “But we were just wondering, what if things don’t work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?” St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slammed his clipboard onto the ground. “What’s wrong?” asked the frightened couple. “OH, COME ON!,” St. Peter shouted, “It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have any idea how long it’ll take me to find a lawyer?

          • len

            lol.

      • len

        Nice to see a Catholic with a sense of humour, well you would need one 😉

    • Anton

      Erasmus began the tradition of Pearly Gates/St Peter jokes with a satire about the foul-mouthed warrior Pope Julius II not being let in and threatening St Peter with an army of the soldiers who had recently died under his command. The satire, officially anonymous, began circulating soon after Julius’ death. Here is an English translation:

      http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/lansing/classes/hist4b/materials/Week7.pdf

      • michaelkx

        brilliant Erasmus said it all and describes the ‘modern’ church of today.

      • Gregory Morris

        That could well be Erasmus – Protestant in everything but name

  • cagedvole

    kudos 🙂

  • Chefofsinners

    As mainstream churches descend into apostasy, perhaps the time has come for a new traditionalist church to be formed.
    One which rejects both the ‘lie of the Tiber’ and those who think the CoE is based on the ’39 ah tickles!’
    Perhaps the new church will be an online affair, a coalescing of blogs. Perhaps it already is.

    • Anton

      And Reform Judaism becomes the Ten Suggestions.

      • Hi

        That ship sailed a long time ago: reform Judaism already is the ten suggestions (technically 613). Over 100 years in fact since the Haskalah of European Jewry and the subsequent foundation of reform . It’s the Ashkenazi Orthodox and us Sephardim who state the Torah is from God with the Mitzvot being eternally binding on all Jews . The reform have no such requirements and never did.

        • Anton

          Yes, my atheist Orthodox Jewish friends think nothing of Reform Judaism!

          • Hi

            To be honest I’m often bewildered by reform Judaism as in my tradition it simply doesn’t exist as Jews of the middle east had no enlightenment and we never said “Baghdad is the new Jerusalem”. However my impression is that it is akin to the liberal wing of the c of e , it’s just open about it’s own heterodox liberal theology.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      The Church of St. Blogg?

  • Candygram for Mongo

    I really, really, really have a problem with this Pope. Nearly from day one was there controversy when he demoted conservative Archbishops.

    • len

      Is that all?

  • It’s a sad day when “Protect the Pope” is at odds with “Protect the Faith”.

    • len

      That horse bolted along time ago.

  • Anton

    456 comments on this subject and nobody has yet asked..

    Is the Pope a Catholic?

    • Well, Jack could answer: Catholics at least have a template by which to objectively judge this. Anyone can legitimately claim to be a Protestant.

      • Martin

        HJ

        You assume Rome is Catholic.

    • bobo

      Bearly.

    • Martin

      More to the point, is he a Christian.

      • IanCad

        Yes!! He has proclaimed his faith. Dodgy theology?? Yes! and Yes! Do any of us have it all right? Maybe some do, but scripture teaches we all see through the glass but darkly.

        • len

          Proclaimed his faith but denied it with his actions.

          • IanCad

            True; And every so often most of us do the same. We however do not have millions of witnesses to revel in our stumblings.

        • Martin

          But it isn’t Christian faith, that gift of God.

  • “When Bishop Michael wrote demanding that no one post on ‘Protect the Pope’, she immediately stopped out of respect for his office.”

    That’s perhaps because honourable Catholic deacons and priests respect their sacred oaths of obedience to their bishops – provided such obedience does not entail sinning – or surrender their offices. Respect for lawful authority is a very Catholic thing.

    “That leaves him free to post to his heart’s content (as the Holy Spirit leads) on a new ‘Protect the Faith’ site.”

    Not, Jack would suggest, without first informing his bishop and securing his agreement.

    • On the other hand +Campbell is due to retire very shortly, and so the forces of darkness would need to lean on another bishop in order to ban a new PTF.

      • Simon Platt

        Bishop Campbell is already 75 and I suppose he will have tendered his resignation on those grounds but I am not aware of its having been accepted. And I for one hope he shan’t be retiring for a few years yet.

      • True. As Father Ray Blake blogged recently:

        “One of the worst evils is keeping silent in the face of evil, the Church seems full of men who are too weak, too effete to condemn what is wrong. This was the great scandal of child abuse, men who turned a blind eye to the immorality of others, who covered their eyes and refused to see the abuse around them, who covered their ears to pleas for justice and gagged themselves and refused to speak either to denounce grave sin or to protect the innocent.

        Silence signifies acquiescence. When it hides serious sins or crimes it makes us accomplices and equally damnable with the perpetrator. The silence of so many bishops and priests in the face of the teaching of error is a grave wound on the Body of Christ.”

        Ps – how’s your nomination for Canonisation going? Do you need more signatures on the petition? Jack hears one no longer has to be dead to be in heaven these days.

  • maigemu

    In response to stupid questions I often ask,’Is the pope catholic?’ It now appears that the answer may not be positive. That the RCC is sound on creeds and many ethical matters can no longer be taken for granted if the man in Rome is so liberal.

    • Terry Mushroom

      Yes it can be taken for granted. The Pope cannot set aside the core deposit of faith, no matter who he is. That’s one of the creeds, as you put it.

      Francis is a very poor communicator. That’s not helped by us Europeans not used to a Latin American culture and mind. The Vatican, too, has badly handled communication. He doesn’t seem to be one for consensual man management.

      The Vatican seems rife with sacristy gossip with some bloggers repeating, “You’ll never guess what he’s said and done NOW” in delightedly shocked voices.

      There have been good Popes and bad Popes. John Paul II raised the papal profile. There is a danger that we forget that the Pope teaches in union with his brother Bishops. Which brings us back to St Vincent Lerins discussed below. (Or above!)

      Our faith is in Christ, not in the clergy. He will keep His promises although we may have storm tossed seas.

  • John

    Pope Francis may be destroying the catholic nature of the RC Church, but only in the sense that Jesus destroyed the catholic nature of Judaism. All this mixing with the riffraff, eating with sinners, relaxing (or reinterpreting) Sabbath observance and ticking off the hierarchy eh? It always provokes churchy people to get the knives out.

    • So you’re saying that, just as Jesus was greater than Abraham and Moses, so Francis is greater than Jesus? I don’t think you’ll get far with that.

      • len

        Don`t think john is saying that at all. Although some Pope have claimed to be’ another Jesus’.

    • When I tweeted about the Catholic nature of the Church I was referring to the four marks of the Church — One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The Catholic nature of the Church is Her universal identity and mission in the world. Judaism is not catholic in this sense, it is the religion of the Chosen People. Jesus did not destroy the catholic nature of Judaism, quite the opposite He universalised the offer of salvation to all the people of the world, Jews and Gentiles.

      One of the Church Fathers wrote that the Church was Catholic because the same faith was held throughout the world. This is no longer the case under Francis. What is a sin in Poland is not a sin in Germany, Scilly, Malta and Chicago. In these latter countries and dioceses chapter 8 of Francis’s Amoris Laetitia has been implemented and those in a state of adultery are encouraged to receive Holy Communion. This is totally contrary to the doctrine and discipline of the Church. In this sense, Francis has destroyed the Catholic nature of the Church.

      • len

        If God were in the RCC Francis couldn`t destroy it.

        • I didn’t say he was destroying the Church but the Catholic mark of the Church. Maybe a better word would be damaging the Catholic mark of the Church. Of course I’m referring to the institution of the Church, not the Church as the mystical Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. The Catholic Church in these senses remains pure and undefiled.

          • len

            I think you are delusional about the RCC.

          • Dolphinfish

            Apologies Nick, but unfortunately this blog does have a propensity for drawing an awful lot of fundamentalist nutters out of the Protestant molehill. Somebody probably should have warned you about that before you started posting here.

          • Thanks for your kind words of caution. It’s OK, I’ve been subjected to similar false arguments and called much worse by some of my fellow Catholics of the Politically Correct persuasion. Fundamentalists and the Politically Correct all seem to shop at Ad Hominems R Us.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Just ignore len. No one takes him seriously. He walks about with a tambourine and a sandwich board banging on about how evil Catholicism is. It’s his raison d’etre.

          • Thanks Cressida. I’ve noticed that some Protestants define their identity by expressing antagonism to the Catholic Church. But then we have some Catholics who do the same, defining their identity through showy antagonism to the Catholic Tradition. The same hate, though different misconceptions. Sadly, for the time being they have the reins of power, on the human level. I fear much ruination and loss of souls.

          • Cressida de Nova

            It is very upsetting to hear you express that. Sadly these Catholics have no understanding of their religion. If they wish to practise the Catholic faith they don’t seem to understand that they do not have the option of changing the religion to suit their particular requirements. There is no room for misconception. It is all very clear.The concept of progressive Catholicism is an anathema. There can be no such thing as progressive Catholicism. It is not in the essence or nature of the religion. There is a lot of scope for compassion understanding and forgiveness in matters of sinful behaviour . The Church is not unreasonable. However when it comes to Catholic doctrine …it cannot be changed . Simples.

          • You are right to be very upset about this betrayal of the Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Church. All Catholics in the world aware of this betrayal are distressed, some to the point of being broken hearted. Those who truly possess the Sensus Fidel shared by the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant can see through the deception.

        • Plenty of protestants have tried – from day one – and never succeeded.

      • Martin

        It is Christ’s Church that is Catholic, Rome isn’t part of that. It long ago abandoned the gospel for worldly power.

      • Cressida de Nova

        Are you absolutely certain about this? In Amoris Laetitia chpt 8 does it unequivocally state that a divorced Catholic who has remarried can receive the Eucharist OR are there special circumstances involved?

        • That’s the problem, Cressie. There are footnotes meaning the issue of Communion for the divorced/remarried can be interpreted in what ever way a local bishop determines. The “special circumstances” are down to “discernment” on the part of the priest and the conscience of the person concerned.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Well if this is the case…there will be no unity in the Church. I can go to Germany and be in grace and I return to England and live in sin. Did a theologian not think this through?….it is so obvious. It just makes a mockery of the religion. I don’t have the answers but I do know this. Nick you should feel safe. I do -because we know the truth of the religion of our forebears.They taught us well and no matter what anyone does that will not change. We have to keep on speaking and not remain silent. We are obliged to do that.I have been making excuses for this Pope considering the possibility that he might have the onset of senile dementia….and that his advisors might be taking advantage of him. Regardless the Church needs a huge cleansing…a drastic sweep out of all the rotten apples

          • The danger to the Catholic unity of the Church was raised at the two Synods. Archbishop Chaput gave a prophetic speech about the danger of fragmentation that we are witnessing as a consequence of Francis’s Amoris Laetitia http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/archbishop-chaput-warns-about-dangers-of-devolution-to-national-bishops-con

            I wish more of our fellow Catholics possessed the fortitude that you express Cressida. One of the reasons that the unity of the Church is under threat is due to the timidity and lack of conviction of so many clergy and laity. I will continue to do whatever I can do, in my own little way, to protect the Faith entrusted to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ. No matter the consequences.

          • grutchyngfysch

            There’s no “black” and “white” – just “grey”.

            The RCC appears to have a nasty dose of via media Anglicanism in its system at the minute. Definitely time to see a doctor.

        • The dubia submitted by the faithful cardinals makes clear the dangerous ambiguity in Chapter 8 that puts souls in peril. The fact that Buenos Aires, Belgium, Malta, Scilly and parts of Germany are allowing divorced & remarried to receive Holy Communion reveals the true intent of Amoris Laetitia. The Vatican’s newspaper ​L’Osservatore Romano has gone out its way to publish the “pastoral guidelines” from these countries to give official sanction to communions. Personal conscience is being elevated above Christ’s teaching and the perennial doctrine of the Church, so recently reiterated by Familiaris Consortio and Sacramentum Caritatis. There is no excuse for this total rupture from the sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church.

  • len

    The first Pope was a ‘Simon’, and also a’ Peter’ but he wasn’t THE Simon Peter but Simon Magus.Simon the magician.Priests of Ju- Peter were called Peters.
    All the Popes have used more than a little occultism with the Word of God ever since.
    Christians may assume that the RCC is Christian because the RCC uses ‘Christian speak’ but upon comparison with scripture it becomes apparent that the RCC has devised a religion entirely at odd with Biblical Christianity.
    Does this mean that I hate Catholics (an accusation often hurled in my direction) no,I hate deception especially where something as important as salvation is involved.
    Much of the Protestant church ,sadly, is (after such a brave effort to right the wrongs of the RCC) is falling into gross darkness as it departs from the Word of God.
    When all religion is eventually stripped bare only the true Rock will be left remaining and that of course is Christ.

    • dannybhoy

      You’re right about that Len
      (Not sure about your opening gambit though)
      My position is that we Christians try to find common ground, we should first and foremost seek to build relationships based on the person rather than the theology. When you find ways (eg hospitality) to get to know each other as people you often find that folk open up on a basis of friendship.
      I appreciate what you say about deception; I feel the same way about hypocrisy. But we Christians all have to accept our common humanity, and how what we believe as spiritual beings is very dear to us. So we treat it with respect, and recognise this is a person who believes and has integrity about their belief. We should tread carefully out of respect for them.

      • len

        Sorry but I have to disagree with you Danny.
        Truth is more important to me than anything else.
        And a love of the truth is what protects us from deception.
        We should not be afraid of offending people by telling them the truth.

        • dannybhoy

          “We should not be afraid of offending people by telling them the truth.”
          Well, that’s a lot easier than trying to get to know them, that’s for sure!
          I agree with your statement, but differ on the process.
          Maybe you’re guided by that great Pauline verse..
          “13 And now faith, hope, and truth abide, these three; and the greatest of these is truth..”.

          • len

            I am the Way, the Truth, and the …love?

          • dannybhoy

            Probably like you I’m sticking to my point. When I meet people I try to get to know them for who they are, not what they believe. If a person presents as a Christian I try to get to know them. I want to try and establish a friendly relationship.
            If it gets to where we are discussing beliefs or theology and we disagree; far better that they see you representing the Love of Christ to them rather than just another person only interested in shooting them down in flames…

          • len

            When people present their religion to me as’ the ultimate truth ‘and it quite plainly contradicts the Word of God don`t expect me to respond in the sort of love that is afraid to offend them .
            Love speak the truth and risks offence.

          • Anton

            Perhaps you are both right, but are thinking respectively of one-off encounters and of persons you are likely to meet repeatedly?

          • dannybhoy

            “When people present their religion to me as’ the ultimate truth ‘and it quite plainly contradicts the Word of God don`t expect me to respond in the sort of love that is afraid to offend them .”
            That’s somewhat different to what we were saying though Len.
            I have had runs ins with folk over the years, but less so as I have gotten older. You should know from my postings here -unless you never read them- that I’m all for a Scriptural view of salvation, and all for churches that meet together to worship God in spirit and in truth.
            I think Anton is right, we’re talking about different situations.

          • CliveM

            I may be wrong but I can’t remember anyone in the bible being criticised or condemned for excessive compassion.

      • Mike Stallard

        Food banks and a hostel for the (many) homeless immigrants does that here.
        In nearby Peterborough, I have tried (successfully) to visit a mosque and see what happened. To my delight, I was warmly welcomed and shown round.

    • Lol …. great jokes, Len.

      Here’s one back:

      A farmer named Muldoon lived alone in the countryside with a wee dog that he loved and doted on. After many long years of faithful companionship, the dog finally died, so Muldoon went to the parish priest:

      “Father, my dear old dog is dead. Could you be saying a Mass for him?”

      Father Patrick replied, “I am so very sorry to hear about your dog’s death. But, unfortunately, I can’t say Mass for the poor creature…”

      Muldoon said, “I understand, Father, I do. I guess I’ll go to this new denomination down the road; no tellin’ what they believe… Do you think £500 is enough to donate for the service?”

      Father Patrick: “Why didn’t you tell me your wee dog was Catholic?!”

      • len

        Truth is a joke too you jack?.
        How RCC of you.

        • No, it’s your comments that are a joke, Len.

          • Dolphinfish

            He’s an unbelievable piece of goods, isn’t he?

          • He’s the forum’s equivalent of Tommy Cooper. He means well.

          • len

            Those that have ears to hear?.
            And conversely, those that don`t

  • dannybhoy

    You gotta be able to laugh.
    At yourself, at others, and the messes we get into.

  • dannybhoy

    Here’s one and it’s attributed to Emo Philips, The Guardian, Thursday 29 September 2005

    Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

    He said, “Yes.”
    I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?”
    He said, “Protestant.”
    I said, “Me, too! What franchise?”
    He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”
    He said, “Northern Baptist.”
    I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

    He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.”
    I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?”
    He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.”
    I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”
    I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    Maybe you’d need to go to Wales for some good nonconformist jokes. Anyway, here’s something from Germany:

    Das Schloß (The Key)

    by Heinz Erhardt

    Papst Paul war gestorben vor vierhundert Jahren
    und ist dann, wie üblich, gen Himmel gefahren.
    Und als er dort oben gut angekommen,
    da hat er den güldenen Schlüssel genommen.
    Es ist ja bekannt, daß früher und itzt
    jeder Papst einen Schlüssel zum Himmel besitzt.
    Doch siehe, der Schlüssel, der wollte nicht passen.
    Der Petrus hat trotzdem ihn eintreten lassen
    und sprach (sein Antlitz war bartumrändert):
    „Der Luther hat nämlich das Schloß verändert…!“

    Pope Paul (IV) died four hundred years ago
    and then, as usual, went to heaven.
    And when he was well up there,
    he took the golden key.
    It is well known in old times and now
    That every pope has a key to heaven.
    But see, the key did not fit.
    But Peter let him come in anyway
    and said (his face was beard-encircled):
    “Luther, namely, has changed the lock …!”

    • Anton

      The poem is accurately translated but the title isn’t. ‘Schloß’ in context means ‘lock’, not ‘key’, which is the related ‘Schlüssel’.

      • IrishNeanderthal

        Fixed.

    • Terry Mushroom

      Perhaps it’s a cultural thing..)))

      One New Years Eve, some Germans staying with mutual friends, insisted that we watch Dinner for One by two English comedians. TV stations in Germany, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Faroe Islands and Austria play it either every 24 or 31 December. We watched in polite silence.

      If we differ on what we find funny, perhaps it’s not surprising that we struggle with religion or the lack of it.

  • To add to the Catholic jokes (unless this one’s been posted already)

    A previous pope dies and goes to heaven (insert the pope of your choice here). He’s met by God who says “As a reward for all your years of hard work for the Church, I’m going to grant one miracle on your behalf. What will it be?”
    The Pope thinks about it and says, “Lord, we’ve always had a problem with the African church – it’s just been logistical. I want a road bridge from Italy to Africa, so that we can get help and people backwards and forwards more easily.”
    God, shocked, says “Well, it’s not impossible, but it would take a huge miracle. Any chance of something smaller?”
    The Pope thinks again, and says “Well Lord, we’ve also got a problem with the Catholics. We’ve got this “traditional” Catholics and these “progressive” Catholics. Lord, they really, really hate each other. If one lot said the sky was blue, the other lot would disagree. They can’t agree on anything. Lord, could you get them to stop arguing and start talking to each other instead?”
    God thinks about this and then says “Did you want four lanes on that road bridge, or six?” 🙂

    • A Jesuit, a Dominican, and a Franciscan were walking along an old road, debating the greatness of their orders. Suddenly, an apparition of the Holy Family appeared in front of them, with Jesus in a manger and Mary and Joseph praying over him.

      The Franciscan fell on his face, overcome with awe at the sight of God born in such poverty. The Dominican fell to his knees, adoring the beautiful reflection of the Trinity and the Holy Family. The Jesuit walked up to Joseph, put his arm around his shoulder, and said, “So, have you thought about where to send him to school?”

      • Terry Mushroom

        A very funny book is The Life and Death of Rochester Sneath. He purported to be the head of Selhurst, a minor public school in Petworth, Sussex. Sneath, alias Humphrey Berkley later an MP, wrote the most extraordinary letters seeking advice from the heads of much greater public schools than his. Should he arrange sex education for the school maids? What should he do about his chaplain who was a very poor rat catcher. He wanted a reference for a teacher with a club foot and warts. And so on.

        The joke is that the heads believed them and replied in all seriousness. He was caught out by the one asking for help in leading an exorcism at Selhurst because of an outbreak of ghostly hauntings. He received many helpful replies, bar the head of the Jesuit School at Beaumont, Fr John Sinnott SJ. His very straight faced answer also told Berkley that he’d been rumbled. He offered to attend and requested “a packet of salt ready to be taken in pinches” to await him.

        Berkley was eventually caught out by a newspaper that attempted to visit this highly unusual school to discover it didn’t exist.

        Berkley, a Cambridge undergraduate, was down for two years for what was really only a harmless student prank.

  • Dolphinfish

    And finally…

    A Franciscan and a Jesuit are travelling by car when the vehicle skids off the road and the two priests are killed. They find themselves standing before the gates of Heaven, from behind which the most beautiful light either man has ever seen is glowing. It is accompanied by music so gorgeous that both are enraptured. The gate swings open and a red carpet rolls out. Along it come St Ignatius Loyola and St Francis Xavier, founders of the Jesuit order. They embrace the Jesuit and welcome him to Heaven. The Franciscan is stunned, but is even more amazed when a blue carpet rolls out. Blue is the colour of Our Lady, and sure enough, she comes out to welcome the Jesuit to the Kingdom. Finally, to the utter astonishment of the Franciscan, a red carpet, which can only be for Our Lord, rolls out to the Jesuit, and Our Saviour Himself comes out to greet him. Carpets rolling up behind them, the whole procession proceeds back through the gates, which swing closed, the music dies and the light fades.

    The Franciscan is staggered, and anticipates who will come out to greet him. He expects St Francis of Assisi, of course, and hopes to meet St Clare, for whom he has special veneration. However, an hour goes by and nothing happens. Then two hours, then three, and the Franciscan is starting to get worried. Have they forgotten him? Has he done something wrong? Is he being punished? Finally, after four hours, a small gate a little way down the wall opens and a figure in a Franciscan habit sticks his head out.

    “Brother, Brother”, he calls, “down here”.

    The Franciscan goes to the little gate and the figure beckons him in.

    “Welcome to Heaven”, he says. “If you see a house you like, just move on in, you’ll find it’s vacant for you. All the streets are well signed, everything is free and if you need any help, there’s an angel on every corner. Have a swell eternity, and I’ll probably see you around”.

    He starts to walk away, and the Franciscan, a little inappropriately for such a humble order, gets angry.

    “Hang on”, he calls, “Is that all I get? I arrived here with a Jesuit and he got the whole works. The main gate, the light, the music. He even had a reception committee made up of the top people. How come all I get is you and the side gate?”

    “Listen”, says the guy. “No disrespect to you intended, but we had to pull out all the stops for him, being a Jesuit”.

    “Why? ” says the Franciscan. “Because the Pope’s a Jesuit, so the Franciscans can go whistle?”

    “Oh no”, says the guy. “It’s not that. It’s just that our order comes through here every day of the week, but we haven’t had one of them in two hundred and fifty years”.

  • Albert

    It is, if one is accused of worshipping the Church!