Dear Father Bloom,
I have three questions based on statements made by anti-Catholic Protestants, the answers to which I am ignorant:
1. How can the Pope have the title of "Vicar of Christ" if, as some Protestants say, only the Holy Spirit is the Vicar of Christ? Where in Scriptures is this Protestant claim to be found?
2. If it says in Hebrews 4:15, and elsewhere, that all have sinned except Jesus, how can Mary be without sin?
3. If I Timothy 2:5 states that there is only one mediator between us and God, and that is Jesus, how can saints be mediators?
It becomes tiresome trying to defend our faith from the recent spate of Catholic bashers.
Thank you and Christ be with you.
1. According to Scripture, Peter was made vicar (representative) of Christ (Mt. 16:18, Lk 22:31, Jn 21:15, see also Acts 1:15, etc.; Gal 1:18; 2:1; 2 P 3:16) The keys which Peter received were not buried with him, but handed on to his successors (the bishops of Rome). Therefore, they also can be called Vicars of Christ.
The verse about the Holy Spirit being the "vicar" of Christ is probably Jn 14:16 - "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have have said to you." The Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Trinity, guides the magisterium of the Church so that she will only teach what Jesus taught. An example is the Council of Nicea when the bishops rejected the view of Arius (that Jesus was only a creature, begotten in time) and instead taught that Jesus is "God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, one in being (homoousion) with the Father." Although the word "homoousion" does not appear in the Bible, it sums up Jesus' teaching with exactitude. A Protestant who acknowledges that Jesus is one in being with the Father is tacitly acknowledging the authority of the Catholic Church.
2. The verse usually cited is Romans 3:23 - "All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." However, this verse must be balanced by verses like Rom 9:11 which show there are some exceptions. The Blessed Virgin Mary is an exception, not because she died before the age of reason, but because of a special grace received through Christ. Like all of us she is redeemed only by his grace. See: Sinless Virgin Mary
3. The best way to answer is with two questions: First, do you ever ask a fellow Christian to pray for you? Second, do you believe that angels can represent us before God? (see: Ps. 103:20–21). From there it is pretty easy to ask what John means by "the prayer of the saint" in Rev. 5:8. See: Intercession of ?Saints
Also, I had a discussion with a guy named Tony on this topic.
Do not grow tired. Every challenge is an opportunity to grow in our faith - and of course, prayer. If a person does not spend lots of time in prayer, especially before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, defense of the faith can become more a spiritual danger than opportunity.
Fr. Phil Bloom
Anti-Catholic Stereotyping at Ashland Shakespeare Festival