-----Original Message----- From: Peter Parker [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2002 11:37 AM To: email@example.com Subject: A Lengthy Respone in Love Mr. Bloom, Do you really believe that the catholic church dedicates more time to the reading and exhortation of Scripture than any denomination? At the church I attend, the pastors sermon is generally 40 to 50 minutes long. During that time, he preaches on a specific passage or passages, conducts a basic exegetical study of the passage and relates it to our lives as Christians. Every person who has attended our church, who was a member of the Roman catholic church, has stated that theyve learned more about Gods Word in one service then in all the catholic masses theyve attended put together. Maybe you should visit a good Bible teaching church where the pastor is a student of Gods Word, has extensively studied Greek, Hebrew and is a credible historian. This is what people are exposed to when they come to our church. The catholic mass is 90% repetitive ritual with a 10 minute social message. In Ireland, the entire mass is twenty minutes long. The catholic church gets the people in and out as fast as they can. As far as using the title father, please dont twist the context around. The catholic church uses the word father as a religious title, which elevates a person as a religious superior. The passages you quoted from Scripture do not use the word father in that context and you are well aware of that. So why do you quote them? Are you trying to deceive me and others? Why do you twist the usage of the word father? You know its being used in a totally different context in the passages youve quoted, as compared to how its used by the catholic church. Please explain to me what the context of the passage is which contains, Call no man your father. Then explain to me why the catholic church chose this title over every other possible title available to them. I find it very sad that a man who claims to have read the Bible numerous times has to go to the teachings of men and Biblical word searches and take these verses totally out of the context in which they were meant to be used in order to try and defend an un-Biblical doctrine. And believe me Mr. Bloom, Ive heard the very same defense from many a catholic priest. It seems you are more learned in catholic responses than in Biblical truth. Did I ever say that the Apostles werent sinners? Of course not. Once again, your twisting what I said in order to avoid answering my questions. What I did say, was that the Apostles were men of good reputation and were godly men who lived godly lives. Especially after they were born again! Many of your popes sir, lived lives in total contradiction to the life of a Christian, and yet you want me to believe that these are the men God has chosen to represent Him? How ludicrous! Stop the twisting of my words, it only further exposes your ruse. You know exactly what my point was and you chose to distort it. Why? And why would God ordain sodomites, murderers and thieves to teach and lead His flock? Arent teachers held to a higher standard of living? What do the epistles tell us about pastors and deacons? How MUST they live in order to hold these positions in the church of Jesus Christ? What should happen to them when they dont? The catholic church is a disgrace when it comes to its leaders being held accountable for its actions. And you cant say that was years ago and things are different now. Thats a cop out, which holds no water. Just take a look at your cardinal Law and many other bishops who allowed the raping of thousands of children over the past 40 years. Are these the men God has appointed to His church? Is their character in sync with the apostles and disciples that we read about in the Bible? You know the answer. And once again, you bring nothing to the table to make an argument that Peter was a pope, who had authority over the other apostles. You avoid what the Scriptures teach us and read into the text. The Scriptures, the early church leaders and history itself, refute your claims of apostolic succession. Your church sir, is the one who makes these claims, not me. The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate what the catholic church teaches is true, based on credible evidence. And so far, you havent even begun to. Within Roman Catholicism, the basis for truth is also absolute, but it is not the unqualified authority of God in His Written Word. Rather, it is the authority of a man, the pope of Rome. The ultimate authority lies in the decisions and decrees of the reigning Pope. This is seen in documentation from official Roman Catholic sources. Canon 749 Sec.1 declares, The Supreme Pontiff, in virtue of his office, possesses infallible teaching authority when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful...he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held as such. The mandated response of the Christian faithful to this claimed infallible teaching authority is spelled out in Canon 752, A religious respect of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate on faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium Any appeal or recourse against the totalitarian imposition of a claimed infallibility is silenced by the decree of Canon 333 Sec. 3, There is neither appeal nor recourse against a decision or decree of the Roman Pontiff. According to the Bible Mr. Bloom, infallibility is an attribute of God and not that of any man or group of men. Like eternity and omniscience, infallibility is among Gods incommunicable natural attributes, properties of His Being that cannot be passed or delegated to mortal man. There are some things God declares He cannot do. He cannot lie, nor can he create another infallible one (Isaiah 43:10, Titus 1:2). So I ask you Mr. Bloom, where do all the popes that lorded over the 600 years of murderous inquisitions fit in? #889? Why would you quote this teaching of men to me? It is filled with self righteous claims of papal authority, which are no where to be found in the Scriptures. Please show me where God conferred his own infallibility to men in the Scriptures. Let me ask you this, were the authors of the Bible inspired? Please use scripture to substantiate your answer. The Papal claim to infallible teaching authority is essentially a claim to divinity. Romes doctrine exalts the Pope above all that is called God. Scripture makes clear the fact that revealed truth is solely from God, For prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (II Peter 1:21) Nothing more strikingly displays the arrogance of the Papacy than this appalling claim to infallibility. The Pope, in setting himself up as supreme, has de facto denied the absolute authority of God. The ascription of even a situational infallibility to the Papal office is a wicked assumption. It attempts to elevate the Roman Catholic Church to the very throne of God, and to establish one man and his attending retinue of ecclesiastical sycophants and lackeys as self-appointed lords over the consciences of men. As the Scriptures themselves state, There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? (James 4:12 also see Isaiah 33:22, Jeremiah 10:7, Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:5, Revelation 15:4) Romes declaration of claimed infallibility is castigated by the Lords commandment, I am the LORD thy God thou shalt have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:2-3. The basic blasphemy of Rome observed in this alleged infallibility is seen, although in different terminology, in her declaration that her tradition is divinely inspired. And by the way Mr. Bloom, what happened to the second commandment? I cant seem to find it in the Roman catholic Baltimore catechism. Now why would Rome try to hide that one? Did you ever hear of the Donation of Constantine? Look it up. Its quite telling and very revealing as what measures Rome took to keep sincere people in bondage and blind to the truth. Here are some facts regarding papal infallibility: 1) No pope ever had the powers bestowed upon the apostles to seal their claim of apostleship. 2) It was the Emperor, not the Bishop (pope) of Rome who originally held supreme power over the church for many centuries. 3) The Early Church Leaders did not agree with the interpretation of Matt 16:16-19, it was only used later to bolster their false claim. 4) No church council in the first 1,000 years of church history were called to assembly by popes. 5) For the first 1,000 years of the church's existence not a single doctrinal issue was decided by a pope. 6) The infallibility doctrine was cause for 55 bishops to leave Vatican I in protest. It then passed by less than half of the original voters (535/1084) supporting the idea. 7) The pope in power at Vatican I was deposed less than 2 months after papal infallibility was declared. 8) Fraudulent documents like The Donation of Constantine and Isidorian Decretals were at the foundation for much of the supposed tradition of Roman Catholic teaching, and although found to be false by the 1500's, are followed today. And here are some problems with this claim of an infallible papal succession: 9) Heresy - Pope Honorius I was condemned by the church for heresy regarding the nature of Christ. This is obviously a large problem for Roman Catholicism's claim to the pope's inability to be mislead on issues of doctrine! 10) Multiple Popes - In the history of the Roman Catholic Church there have been no less than 35 "anti-popes", three opposing popes in authority at the same time. There is no infallible list of popes, nor an infallible method of knowing which one was the "real" pope. So which is it? And here Mr. Bloom is just a simple and small look at the heritage of this institution that you hold so dear and look to for all of your answers: The Inquisition - It is a historical fact that the Roman Catholic Church has killed more Christians than any other institution in man's history. The fact that the Roman Catholic Church no longer has the power to enforce its policies should not make us any more comfortable, for the infallible pronouncements made to create the Inquisition are technically in force today. The Crusades - Many are unaware that there were actually several crusades commissioned by popes. Beyond the "noble" crusades that set out to free Jerusalem (but slaughtered many Jews along the way) from the Saracens, there existed crusades against Christians! In fact, those who took part in them were promised absolution for all sins committed while on crusade. The slaughter of the innocent that ensued, not to mention the horrible atrocities against women and children, should come as no surprise. Indulgences - The main issue that prompted Luther to separate from the Roman Catholic Church was the selling of indulgences. For a small fee you could get your loved ones out of Purgatory and into heaven. And you should know better than anyone Mr. Bloom that this practice is still very alive today. Wanna buy a mass card? Galileo - in 1633 Galileo was tried under the Inquisition for heresy for his discovery of a non-geocentric universe. Because the Roman Catholic Church followed Ptolemy's idea of an earth-centered universe Galileo remained under house arrest as a heretic until his death. Adolph Hitler - In contrast the Roman Catholic Church never excommunicated Hitler (although past popes have been dug up after death, dressed in robes, and brought to trial only to be excommunicated by other popes). In fact it celebrated Hitlers 50th birthday with special ceremonies and prayers for his success (which only helped Roman Catholicism due to numerous treaties made with various European dictators throughout its history). Hitler died a Roman Catholic in good standing in the shadow of a concordant that was signed in 1933 between Hitlers Nazi Germany and the Roman church and millions of dollars in blood money deposited to the Vatican bank. You see Mr. Bloom, nowhere in Scripture is there reference to the existence of an apostolic succession. In the New Testament the Apostles appointed not apostles but rather elders (Acts 20:17,28; Ipeter 5:1-4) and deacons. Nonetheless Rome attempts to defend her position in the name of personal succession from the Apostles. If one wants to use the concept of apostolic succession, the true successors of the Apostles are the saints of the household of God who are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. (Ephesians 2:20). If that doctrinal foundation is destroyed, instead of apostolic faith, one has apostasy. Apostolic succession without apostolic doctrine is a fraud. It is only Biblical doctrine that makes one wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus Alone. Mr. Bloom, if you actually investigated the succession with Roman Catholicism, the evidence of a sequence from Pagan Rome is what appears as obvious. This is documented by one of their own famous scholars, John (cardinal) Henry Newman, as he wrote of the pagan origin of many Roman Catholic practices. We are told in various ways by Eusebius that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own.The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holidays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure. images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church. (An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine by John Henry cardinal Newman). It is the true Christ who speaks in Scriptures. In it He tells who He is, and what we are. He tells us that He has come to save us from our sins, and for that purpose the Father sent Him into the world. In order to bring that work to completion in individual men, the Holy Spirit takes the truth of Scripture and applies it to believers. He will lead His people out the religion of baptized paganism embodied in Rome. For all imaginative habits of tradition, her teachings, worship, and emotional pseudo-spiritual experiences that arise from outside the Bible, are no more than vagrant deceits and self-willed deceptions. Beware says the Scripture, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8) It is beyond doubt that the Pope with all his robes and rituals from tradition cannot be the Vicar of Christ as he pretends. He is rather the Vicar of the prince of this world. The Apostle Paul is not claiming that any church is truth, or can be the truth. He shows in many places the failings of particular churches in doctrine in many cities to which he writes. He is urging the behavior of the Church to be as a placard or billboard upon which the very Word of God is proclaimed in such a way to be the pillar and ground of truth. The Apostle was concerned about the behavior of Timothy and the local believers at Ephesus. He was not denying what he had declared so consistently in his letters, nor the principle outlined by Christ Jesus and through the whole of Scripture, that Gods Word is truth. When a church is erected for all ages as the pillar and mainstay of the truth, as is Romes spurious claim, horrendous results become manifest, as for example, the Church of Rome declaring that the sacraments are necessary for salvation; that Mary is the All Holy One, and all manner of errors, heresies, and blasphemies. If the true Church is the pillar and ground of truth, it is certain that this is not the Roman Catholic Church, where an avalanche of extra-biblical traditions have completely buried the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ under the accumulation of human works. The true Church was not instituted to be a chain to bind the body of Christ in idolatry, impiety, ignorance of God, and other kinds of evil. Rather, as the Apostle teaches, it was in correct behavior to train the believers in the fear of God and obedience of the truth all of which is sufficiently taught already in the Word of God. The same Apostle declares that the Church is not founded either upon the judgments of men or a priesthood, but rather upon the doctrine of the Apostles and Prophets (Ephesians 2:20). The Bride of Christ washed clean in the blood of the Lamb is to be distinguished from the Mother of Harlots drunken with the blood of the saints. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be separated from the conspiracy of Satan by the discriminating test which our Savior has applied to all believers, He that is of God, heareth Gods words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (John 8:47) On this vital test Rome, utterly fails. The very fact that the Roman Catholic Church will not accept the Written Word of God as ultimate authority seals the fact that she is not of God. The same Holy Spirit Who has given His Word in the Scriptures uses it most fruitfully to convict of sin and to bring eternal life. All growth in the fellowship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is also the fruit of Gods truth in His Holy Word. The Church of Romes skill and hypocrisy in placing Tradition on par with Scripture, as inspired, and equally to be accepted with certainty, is the same sin of the Scribes and Pharisees. The difference is that the Roman Catholic Church far surpasses the Scribes and Pharisees in craft and deceitfulness of expression in upholding their traditions. Christ Jesus reproof is more profoundly true of Rome than when first applied to the Scribes and Pharisees. But woe unto you hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Matthew 23:13) The Church of Rome, having the same love and confidence in traditions as in the pure truth of Gods Written Word, is as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband! (Ezekial 16:32) Such harlotry begets false worship, idolatry, and pride. In Catholicism, people worship the communion bread as God, which is not God, and Mr. Bloom, they claim that this has always been the custom of the catholic church. Maybe the Roman catholic church but definitely not the Universal church of Christ. Rome has misled its people into giving their hearts to idols, with a saint for every season and every ill. How many millions have bowed in worship to saint Christoper? Where is this so-called saint today? No longer in the Roman church does he exist. The only place we can find him is in catholic supply shops in the form of a plastic statue still being sold to blind misled sincere catholics. How many people went to their graves thinking that their dead un-baptized child is in Limbo? Its not even a church teaching anymore as it has been wallpapered over along with so many other blasphemous and misleading doctrines that kept people in bondage to a corrupt and evil system. Doctrines, rites, and administrations take the place of what God has revealed and appointed in His Word. The reason is obvious. Rome has taken the Holy Gods truth and commingled it with the traditions of men, with such results as the dishonoring of marriage and the supporting of ungodly celibacy in monasteries and convents. As for your claim that I agree with you that it is in Christ Alone and in His fullness, please do not try and drag me into your misleading web of nonsensical statements. We know full well what Rome defines as the fullness of Christ. Romes assertions go so far as to contend that the very fullness of grace and truth belongs to the Catholic Church. From Dominus Iesus, Romes exact words are, Therefore, the fullness of Christs salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. And, The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church And, the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church. Mr. Bloom, the Bible speaks of only One to whom the very fullness of grace and truth has been entrusted, His name is the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 1:14) The Papal arrogance tallies well with what the Scripture predicted for such claims, he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (II Thessalonians 2:4) I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:14) If Christ Himself were identified with the very fullness of grace and truth in the Church of Rome, He would have been responsible for all the torture and murder, heresy, rape and intrigue of the Inquisition from the iniquitous Pope Innocent III in 1203 A.D., until its final dissolution in Spain and Portugal in 1808. The Christ of Scripture is separated from all such iniquity. He is the source and means of grace and truth. (John 1:14,17) Far from being identified with Rome, He exposes her as the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs. (Rev 17:6) He as the Lord of history reveals the rotten fruit that comes from her so-called divinely inspired tradition. It is simply Christ Only Mr. Bloom! Moving on, of course we are to work out our faith, but we are never to think we can work for our salvation. How do you work for a gift? If you work for a gift, it is not a gift anymore. It is then a wage, not a gift. There is a big difference sir. The Scriptures are clear about this. You know where to look. Youve read the Bible enough times. There is merit in many things we do sir, we just cant merit Gods grace and we cant merit a gift. That is impossible and a contradiction of the meaning of the words free and gift. You sum up your view and understanding of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for his church in your misunderstanding of Col:24. Are you trying to say that the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us was incomplete? That we must add to it with our own merit in order to obtain salvation through our own works? Is this what you believe Paul is communicating to the church? In order to come up with that understanding, you must ignore everything Paul wrote in the Books of Romans and Galatians. Paul is in no way teaching that we must add to the sacrifice of Jesus in order to be declared righteous in Gods eyes. Romans 4:1-8, 5:1, 5:9-11, 9:16-18, 9:30-33, Galatians 3:22-25, 5:4-6 There are 200 years of missing popes names at the Vaticans museum for the papacy. No one there could explain why when asked. We know that we dont have the names of these lost so-called popes because they didnt exist. Its amazing that we have such a detailed record of the New Testament writings, about 5,300 separate early copies in part and yet, the roman catholic church scrambles for answers and documentation when asked to back up their claims of the papacy and so much more. In closing Mr. Bloom, I might add that the Holy Spirit, foreseeing all these things, as the Guide and Comforter of the true Church, has graciously provided a divine answer for the dangerous, ubiquitous, and deceiving system of Rome and her fabricated authority base. God Himself Who began the writing of the Word with His own finger, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son. (Hebrews 1:2) This Son has authenticated the Old Testaments writings and as the Alpha and Omega, having all Authority in heaven and on earth, He commanded the finishing of the New Testaments writings in His words to the Apostle John, What thou seest, write in a book (Rev 1:11) The Lord Jesus Christs mind and counsel come unto the believers in writing the Bible as a merciful and steadfast relief against all that is confusion, darkness, and uncertainty, including the Roman Catholic Church. Peace In Christ Alone, Peter PSI will address all of your opinions on Richard Bennett but maybe it would be better if you send your opinions to him yourself. Im sure he will love to be able to share the truth with you as he has in much of what you have read here.
Love involves mutual respect and a sincere attempt to understand the other person, not bullying. (I Cor 13:4-7) Don't you agree?
Peter, you give quite a few historical arguments against the divine authority of the Church. I have to admit the list contains some pretty good punches. However, I did not see any which would constitute a knock-out (except one - if it is true - but I will ask you about it toward the end). There is response to each one, if a person is willing to take them time to study them. They have been standard part of the anti-Catholic polemic for quite some time. For example, the charge that a pope was guilty of heresy has been answered long ago, as you will see from link below.
Before going into specifics, I would like to try again to see if I understand your basic argument. At first I thought you were saying that the pope and bishops could not possibly be successors of the apostles because some of them were worse sinners than the New Testament leaders - or that what the popes did was somehow worse than sin. But your argument seems more subtle than that. You appear to be saying that if they were truly successors of the apostles they would have done a better job making those under them accountable for misdeeds and also that their own various sins prove they could not have been "born again." Is that your basic argument, Peter? If not, could state your basic premise in a sentence so we can know exactly what we are discussing.
If Christ Himself were identified with the very fullness of grace and truth in the Church of Rome, He would have been responsible for all the torture and murder, heresy, rape and intrigue of the Inquisition from the iniquitous Pope Innocent III in 1203 A.D., until its final dissolution in Spain and Portugal in 1808.
Why does that follow, Peter? Could Christ not be responsible for the grace and truth in the Church, while at the same time not destroying the human freedom (possibility of sin) of her members?
You should be aware, Peter, that today secularists use many of the cases you mentioned to attack not only the Catholic Church, but Christianity in general. For example, the Galileo case is often utilized not only against Catholics, but all Christians who believe the Bible is God's inspired Word.
Secularists are well aware that if they undermine the authority of the Catholic Church, they no longer have to worry about the Bible. Mark Shea, an Evangelical convert, shows how the canon of biblical books points to the need for an authority outside the Bible itself. see: By What Authority?
Regarding the other charges, please see: Pope Honorius I, The Inquisition, Indulgences, Galileo
Is your contention that when Jesus said "Call no man father," what he meant was don't use "father" as a religious title, but that other usages are OK?
Concerning the Church and the Third Reich, an enormous amount has been written, much of it by secularists who hate all Christians. Dissenters within the Catholic Church, like Wills and Cornwell, have used the supposed silence of Pius XII to advance their cause (and of course have gotten a warm reception in the secular media). I wrote an on-line review of Hitler's Pope: - no great scholarly study, but it does have some helpful links.
Regarding Apostolic Succesion: The Apostles appointed bishops (episcopoi), priests (presbuteroi) and deacons (diakonoi). St. Ignatius of Antioch testifies to this three-fold hierarchy in his letter to the Magnesians (110 A.D.). For more evidence of this succession, please see: Bishop, Priest, Deacon
About the primacy of Peter: In the previous email I gave a number of New Testament verses (there are more) which indicate: 1) Our Lord gave St. Peter a primary role among the Twelve Apostles, 2) That the Apostles (and later Paul) recognized Peter's primacy and 3) That Peter exercised primacy in guiding the early Church. The fact he used humble self-references like "fellow elder" (presbyter) does not negate his primacy.
Did you actually read An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine by John Henry cardinal Newman?
Fraudulent documents like The Donation of Constantine and Isidorian Decretals were at the foundation for much of the supposed tradition of Roman Catholic teaching, and although found to be false by the 1500's, are followed today. Who is following them today?
As I mentioned at the beginning, you do make one claim that, if it is true, would be a knock-out blow regarding papal authority:
There are 200 years of missing popes names at the Vaticans museum for the papacy. No one there could explain why when asked. We know that we dont have the names of these lost so-called popes because they didnt exist.
A two hundred year gap with no pope (bishop of Rome) would indeed demolish the Catholic claim regarding the Petrine office of the papacy - if it is true. However, if it is not true, it is pretty rash thing to say, don't you think? I studied in Rome (many years ago) but do not remember there being a "museum for the papacy." Can you provide me with the museum's exact name?
About multiple popes, even today there are false claimants (anti-popes). Following is the official list of popes:
St. Peter (32-67) St. Linus (67-76) St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88) St. Clement I (88-97) St. Evaristus (97-105) St. Alexander I (105-115) St. Sixtus I (115-125) -- also called Xystus I St. Telesphorus (125-136) St. Hyginus (136-140) St. Pius I (140-155) St. Anicetus (155-166) St. Soter (166-175) St. Eleutherius (175-189) St. Victor I (189-199) St. Zephyrinus (199-217) St. Callistus I (217-22) St. Urban I (222-30) St. Pontain (230-35) St. Anterus (235-36) St. Fabian (236-50) St. Cornelius (251-53) St. Lucius I (253-54) St. Stephen I (254-257) St. Sixtus II (257-258) St. Dionysius (260-268) St. Felix I (269-274) St. Eutychian (275-283) St. Caius (283-296) -- also called Gaius St. Marcellinus (296-304) St. Marcellus I (308-309) St. Eusebius (309 or 310) St. Miltiades (311-14) St. Sylvester I (314-35) St. Marcus (336) St. Julius I (337-52) Liberius (352-66) St. Damasus I (366-83) St. Siricius (384-99) St. Anastasius I (399-401) St. Innocent I (401-17) St. Zosimus (417-18) St. Boniface I (418-22) St. Celestine I (422-32) St. Sixtus III (432-40) St. Leo I (the Great) (440-61) St. Hilarius (461-68) St. Simplicius (468-83) St. Felix III (II) (483-92) St. Gelasius I (492-96) Anastasius II (496-98) St. Symmachus (498-514) St. Hormisdas (514-23) St. John I (523-26) St. Felix IV (III) (526-30) Boniface II (530-32) John II (533-35) St. Agapetus I (535-36) -- also called Agapitus I St. Silverius (536-37) Vigilius (537-55) Pelagius I (556-61) John III (561-74) Benedict I (575-79) Pelagius II (579-90) St. Gregory I (the Great) (590-604) Sabinian (604-606) Boniface III (607) St. Boniface IV (608-15) St. Deusdedit (Adeodatus I) (615-18) Boniface V (619-25) Honorius I (625-38) Severinus (640) John IV (640-42) Theodore I (642-49) St. Martin I (649-55) St. Eugene I (655-57) St. Vitalian (657-72) Adeodatus (II) (672-76) Donus (676-78) St. Agatho (678-81) St. Leo II (682-83) St. Benedict II (684-85) John V (685-86) Conon (686-87) St. Sergius I (687-701) John VI (701-05) John VII (705-07) Sisinnius (708) Constantine (708-15) St. Gregory II (715-31) St. Gregory III (731-41) St. Zachary (741-52) Stephen II (752) Stephen III (752-57) St. Paul I (757-67) Stephen IV (767-72) Adrian I (772-95) St. Leo III (795-816) Stephen V (816-17) St. Paschal I (817-24) Eugene II (824-27) Valentine (827) Gregory IV (827-44) Sergius II (844-47) St. Leo IV (847-55) Benedict III (855-58) St. Nicholas I (the Great) (858-67) Adrian II (867-72) John VIII (872-82) Marinus I (882-84) St. Adrian III (884-85) Stephen VI (885-91) Formosus (891-96) Boniface VI (896) Stephen VII (896-97) Romanus (897) Theodore II (897) John IX (898-900) Benedict IV (900-03) Leo V (903) Sergius III (904-11) Anastasius III (911-13) Lando (913-14) John X (914-28) Leo VI (928) Stephen VIII (929-31) John XI (931-35) Leo VII (936-39) Stephen IX (939-42) Marinus II (942-46) Agapetus II (946-55) John XII (955-63) Leo VIII (963-64) Benedict V (964) John XIII (965-72) Benedict VI (973-74) Benedict VII (974-83) John XIV (983-84) John XV (985-96) Gregory V (996-99) Sylvester II (999-1003) John XVII (1003) John XVIII (1003-09) Sergius IV (1009-12) Benedict VIII (1012-24) John XIX (1024-32) Benedict IX (1032-45) Sylvester III (1045) Benedict IX (1045) Gregory VI (1045-46) Clement II (1046-47) Benedict IX (1047-48) Damasus II (1048) St. Leo IX (1049-54) Victor II (1055-57) Stephen X (1057-58) Nicholas II (1058-61) Alexander II (1061-73) St. Gregory VII (1073-85) Blessed Victor III (1086-87) Blessed Urban II (1088-99) Paschal II (1099-1118) Gelasius II (1118-19) Callistus II (1119-24) Honorius II (1124-30) Innocent II (1130-43) Celestine II (1143-44) Lucius II (1144-45) Blessed Eugene III (1145-53) Anastasius IV (1153-54) Adrian IV (1154-59) Alexander III (1159-81) Lucius III (1181-85) Urban III (1185-87) Gregory VIII (1187) Clement III (1187-91) Celestine III (1191-98) Innocent III (1198-1216) Honorius III (1216-27) Gregory IX (1227-41) Celestine IV (1241) Innocent IV (1243-54) Alexander IV (1254-61) Urban IV (1261-64) Clement IV (1265-68) Blessed Gregory X (1271-76) Blessed Innocent V (1276) Adrian V (1276) John XXI (1276-77) Nicholas III (1277-80) Martin IV (1281-85) Honorius IV (1285-87) Nicholas IV (1288-92) St. Celestine V (1294) Boniface VIII (1294-1303) Blessed Benedict XI (1303-04) Clement V (1305-14) John XXII (1316-34) Benedict XII (1334-42) Clement VI (1342-52) Innocent VI (1352-62) Blessed Urban V (1362-70) Gregory XI (1370-78) Urban VI (1378-89) Boniface IX (1389-1404) Innocent VII (1406-06) Gregory XII (1406-15) Martin V (1417-31) Eugene IV (1431-47) Nicholas V (1447-55) Callistus III (1455-58) Pius II (1458-64) Paul II (1464-71) Sixtus IV (1471-84) Innocent VIII (1484-92) Alexander VI (1492-1503) Pius III (1503) Julius II (1503-13) Leo X (1513-21) Adrian VI (1522-23) Clement VII (1523-34) Paul III (1534-49) Julius III (1550-55) Marcellus II (1555) Paul IV (1555-59) Pius IV (1559-65) St. Pius V (1566-72) Gregory XIII (1572-85) Sixtus V (1585-90) Urban VII (1590) Gregory XIV (1590-91) Innocent IX (1591) Clement VIII (1592-1605) Leo XI (1605) Paul V (1605-21) Gregory XV (1621-23) Urban VIII (1623-44) Innocent X (1644-55) Alexander VII (1655-67) Clement IX (1667-69) Clement X (1670-76) Blessed Innocent XI (1676-89) Alexander VIII (1689-91) Innocent XII (1691-1700) Clement XI (1700-21) Innocent XIII (1721-24) Benedict XIII (1724-30) Clement XII (1730-40) Benedict XIV (1740-58) Clement XIII (1758-69) Clement XIV (1769-74) Pius VI (1775-99) Pius VII (1800-23) Leo XII (1823-29) Pius VIII (1829-30) Gregory XVI (1831-46) Blessed Pius IX (1846-78) Leo XIII (1878-1903) St. Pius X (1903-14) Benedict XV (1914-22) Pius XI (1922-39) Pius XII (1939-58) Blessed John XXIII (1958-63) Paul VI (1963-78) John Paul I (1978) John Paul II (1978—)
Many of the men listed were quite saintly and others, as you note, were pathetic. Most were probably guys like you and me, struggling to do the best we can, but often stumbling. You have to admit that the present pope is one of the most extraordinary men to come out of the twentieth century.
And, yes, Protestant ministers often do a better job at biblical preaching than we Catholic priests do. I have attended Evangelical services, even preached at them. My impression was that, while filled with a certain enthusiasm, they tend to be man-centered in the sense that they not only depend greatly on the pastor's knowledge and eloquence, but that he is the one who choses the text each Sunday. I knew a congregation where someone had a differing interpretation from the pastor and wound up forming his own church. Here in Washington State there are now 666 denominations, each one claiming to have the true interpretation of the Bible. Forseeing this problem Jesus set up an authoritative magisterium in the Church he founded. It was his way of assuring that his Church would be visibly one ("one flock with one shepherd") as he and the Father are one.
The other issues (grace - which, as you note, is a totally free gift - and merit, intercessory prayer, need for sacraments, uses of images, role of Jesus' mother, how our sufferings are joined to the perfect sacrifice of Christ, etc.) relate very much to understanding God's overall plan for our salvation and deserve a more in-depth treatment. Don't you agree? Perhaps we could discuss them in a future email. In my own preaching I try to emphasize the free gift of grace:
We are saved by sheer grace. To some people this sounds like a Protestant doctrine. They might have the idea that Martin Luther taught "grace" but the Catholic Church taught "works." That is not true. The doctrine of grace has been part of the Catholic teaching right from the beginning. The Catechism sums up this long tradition in the following words: "Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers in the divine nature and eternal life." (#1996). The Catechism goes on to explain that when we talk about good works or "merit," even then we must give the credit to God. "Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man's collaboration. Man's merit is due to God." (2025) Saved by Grace Alone
Sincerely in Christ,
P.S. You have a quite adventurous account of Vatican I. You might wish to compare it with what an authoritative non-Catholic source (the Columbia Encyclopia) had to say about that Council:
Two constitutions were promulgated by the Vatican Council and confirmed by the pope. The first was on the faith, consisting of four chapters holding chiefly that God is personal, that man knows God by reason and revelation, that faith is a supernatural virtue, and that faith and reason are complementary, never contradictory. The second constitution concerned the papacy; after defining the primacy of papal jurisdiction it goes on to enounce definitively the dogma of infallibility. This, the one official statement of the doctrine, reads in its significant part as follows: “The Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when he, in the exercise of his office of his supreme apostolic authority, decides that a doctrine concerning faith or morals is to be held by the entire Church, he possesses, in consequence of the divine aid promised him in St. Peter, that infallibility which the Divine Savior wished to have His Church furnished for the definition of doctrines concerning faith or morals; and that definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not in consequence of the Church’s consent, irreformable.” Past definitions are included in the statement.
In the council there was a long dispute over the enunciation. In the first vote it stood 451 in favor, 88 opposed, and 62 conditionally in favor; at the last vote 433 were in favor of the promulgation, two opposing, 55 abstaining. All the fathers of the council accepted the dogma as true. After the council a great deal of discussion of infallibility took place among non-Catholics; violent attacks were made on the pope, the church, and the council. Within the church the papal infallibility had been generally believed for many centuries. A few groups departed from the church. The most important was the Old Catholics in Germany, under Döllinger; in France a small group headed by Pčre Hyacinthe (Charles Loyson) also seceded... http://www.bartleby.com/65/va/VatCoun1.html (Columbia Encyclopia)
Pope Pius IX, by the way, continued in office until his death in 1878 (over seven years after the end of the First Vatican Council).
From Scott: I even find a scarcity of evidence in his being a "Bible believing Christian."