Pages

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reformation in the Catholic Church

I recently wrote a piece for Helium, and am sharing it with you here:
It has been said that the only true reformation of the Catholic Church was the Protestant movement. However, the Protestants didn't actually "reform" the church: They simply left it (rather noisily).

The Catholic Church then proceeded to kill, maim, and torture those very Protestants, thus illustrating the fact that the Catholic Church has never exactly been open to the concept of change or loss of power.

But is it ready to change NOW?

Recently, Father Hans Kung of Germany was stripped of his authority to teach at Catholic universities for questioning church teachings. He is merely one of many Catholics who disagree with classic Catholic teachings. These so-called "Cafeteria Catholics" pick some teachings they agree with, and disregard others. Although this may be convenient for Cafeteria Catholics, does the Catholic Church view them as true Catholics?

Apparently not.

Father Emile Blaser, a former general secretary of the Bishops Conference in Africa, is now the director of the Catholic Radio station, Radio Veritas. Upon the new Pope's ordination, he recently wrote "I can't see the church changing its approach under a new pope."

Dr Sam Gregg of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Rome, agrees. Dr. Gregg has made a study of Pope Benedict XVI's theology, and says "Pope Benedict XVI will continue the authentic interpretation of Vatican II that John Paul pioneered. There will be a clear, strong intellectual proposition in defense of Catholic orthodoxy."

Therefore, a discussion about change seems to be moot. And yet, there is always the possibility of change, isn't there?

So: What's on the table?

Women in clergy, non-celibate priests, marriage and annulment, sex (in marriage) for procreation vs. sex (in marriage) for fun, the definition and hierarchy of certain sins, and much more.

The problem is that the Catholic Church's dogma is based primarily on the belief that the Pope is infallible in his proclamations and judgments. This belief exists, despite much evidence to the contrary.

Examples include (but are not limited to):

1. Pope Liberius (Pope from 352-366). Liberius initially rejected the Nicene Creed, choosing to believe that Jesus Christ was lower in rank than God the Father. He later changed his mind.

2. Pope Vigilius (Pope from 537-555). Vigilius famously claimed that he had been misled by the devil on an important interpretation of Scripture.

3. Pope Honorius I (Pope from 625-638). Honorius made a statement on Jesus Christ's character that was later condemned as heretical by the Council of Constantinople in 681.

4. Pope Leo II (Pope from 682-683). Leo openly declared that Honorius II (the Pope who had served before him) had undermined the faith of the Catholic Church.

However, the official doctrine of Papal Infallibility is relatively recent. It was formally affirmed only in 1870, at the First Vatican Council, and at the time there was much argument over it.

Right now, for the Catholic Church to reverse any decision is to tacitly admit that the Pope is indeed NOT infallible, which would rock the very core of the Catholic belief system.

So if the doctrine of Papal Infallibility is ever reconsidered and reversed, the Catholic Church will have a great deal more flexibility in its future decisions and choices. Until then, to make any changes to the Catholic faith would be to contradict that very faith itself.

15 comments:

Edge said...

I'm sorry, but I can't take a religion seriously if they think a human man ranks higher than either Christ or God or the Holy Spirit. Doesn't the phrase, "He made them a little lower than the angels" mean anything.

Just crack the Bible and start reading and you'll quickly learn that most of the Catholic doctrine they teach is fouled.

And they discourage the scripture. Simply opening the scripture and reading would shed light on their errors.

But ... that doesn't mean Catholics are bad people, just deceived by their organization.

~Jef

Saur♥Kraut said...

Jef, Yeah, I'll agree with that. And I'm not saying that all Catholics aren't Christians. I just think there are many mistakes in their belief system.

After all, the Catholic Church was only one of many churches when it first began - it was simply the one that won out for a while. And to get a corner on the market, they made some compromises in their faith to make it more attractive.

There are so many Catholics that listen to what their church says about their church's history, instead of reading the history from independant (verified) sources.

Of course some of my readers are Catholic, and I'm not saying "Abolish the Catholic Church!" I'm just saying that no change is possible right now, because for the CC to make any changes, they would essentially be saying that former beliefs and rulings by former popes were incorrect which ultimately flies in the face of the concept of the Pope being infallible.

The Lazy Iguana said...

The Catholic Church has a long history of being wrong. Ask Copernicus or Galileo. The former had to carefully word his works, and later refute them even though he knew he was right. The latter was also forced to refute his own works. The pope at the time had to authorize all books published.

Thankfully not all his books were removed from circulation, and his ideas survived. Otherwise we may still be living in the mud and filth of the dark ages.

And those are just two examples of lunacy in the name of the pope.

Over the centuries, by rigidly sticking to stone age "truths" and refusing to take any new information into account (condemning it as heretical and of the devil and whatever) the Church has done a very excellent job in discrediting itself.

The reformation was one of the best things that happened to humans. Without it then we could still be living under a system where all new discoveries that go against Church teachings would land you in jail, or have you put to death. People had the audacity to tell the Pope he was wrong - and God did not smite them. Imagine that. With this simple act (which took great courage on the part of Martin Luther and others) was born not only the reformation - but also allowed the renaissance to flourish.

Saur said...

Lazy, WOW.

Ed Abbey said...

As a Catholic, I certainly don't subscribe to everything the church says I should. I don't think that I'm sinful, it is just what I believe. Nor did I subscribe to everything the Methodists, Baptists and Lutherans told me when I was a member of their churches. I've always felt that I was a member of some sort of Universal religion, yet unnamed, and with no leaders or organization between me and God.

Timothy said...

>"the belief that the Pope is infallible in his proclamations and judgments."

Um, that's only partially true. The Pope is infallible (protected against teaching error) only in matters of faith. Not every proclamation or judgement is infallible.

>"This belief exists, despite much evidence to the contrary."

Actually, there is no evidence to the contrary. Also, Catholics believe in the doctrine of infallibility because Christ gave that charisma to Peter and the Church as recorded in scripture. "When the Spirit of truth comes He will guide you to all truth . . ." (John 16:14). A person or Church being guided in all truth is incapable of error.

>"1. Pope Liberius... 2. Pope Vigilius... 3. Pope Honorius ... 4. Pope Leo I"

Um, these are not infallible statements by Popes. There have only been two known Papal statements considered to be infallible in the entire 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church and they both were made in the past 200 years. One has to be careful citing anti-Catholic propaganda as there are many factual errors in those sorts of tracts.

>" the official doctrine of Papal Infallibility is relatively recent. It was formally affirmed only in 1870."

Nope. The doctrines on infallibility are very ancient and go back to the apostles, the early Church, and scripture (John 16:14). The Catholic Church only affirms doctrines when there is arguement regarding a doctrine, such as during times of heresy. That's a common error that many non-Catholics make when studying and discussing the Church.

>saurkraut: "the Catholic Church was only one of many churches when it first began"

It was the only Church when Christianity began. There was only the εκκλησιαι καθ ολης [ekklesia kath oles - catholic church] (Acts 9:31, Koine Greek).

>Edge: "And they discourage the scripture"

No, that's a common non-Catholic myth that's grown to urban legend status. Catholics have always been encouraged to learn scripture. That's why Catholics carefully preserved the Bible by handcopying and why a Catholic (Gutenburg) invented the moveable type press and began printing the Bible. Catholics hear more scripture in their Sunday service than most Proetestants do. Don't believe that? Bring your Bible to a Sunday Mass and try and keep up!

>Edge: "just deceived by their organization."

Nope, not deceived, but I can understand that you have been taught that by other non-Catholics and have come to hold that belief.

> TLI: "The Catholic Church has a long history of being wrong. Ask Copernicus or Galileo."

Two poor examples. We now know from modern astronomy that both Copernicus and Galileo were both wrong and that both the Sun and the Earth move. Had the Church endorsed the then unproven science, the Church would have endorsed or taught error. The Church's actions have in the long term proven to have been the correct choice.

God bless...

+Timothy

Saur♥Kraut said...

Timothy, you wrote:
The Pope is infallible (protected against teaching error) only in matters of faith. Not every proclamation or judgement is infallible.

I agree. But we are talking about matters of faith here, where the ‘infallible’ argument applies.

Actually, there is no evidence to the contrary.

Actually, there is. Didn’t you read my points?

Also, Catholics believe in the doctrine of infallibility because Christ gave that charisma to Peter and the Church as recorded in scripture. "When the Spirit of truth comes He will guide you to all truth . . ." (John 16:14). A person or Church being guided in all truth is incapable of error.

You are in error here – I believe you mean John 16:13. Timothy, please note that even you wrote “…and the church”. This scripture verse applies to the disciples (plural), not the Pope. You believe the Popes all descend from Peter, but we see that Jesus is addressing a group of disciples and not Peter alone. We know that because some of them are mentioned throughout Jesus’ long discourse (they ask various questions).

This is a monologue taking place during the Last Supper.

I’m not sure what version you’re using, but the closest translation to the original scriptures here reads “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

What is the Spirit of truth? I think you would have to agree that it’s speaking of the Holy Spirit. Note how it says “…when He…comes”. That indicates that the HS hasn’t even arrived on the scene yet. Why? Because Pentacost hasn’t happened yet, right? So Jesus is speaking of a near-future event and he’s saying that the HS will be the one to guide them... NOT the Pope.

Incidentally, not even the Catholic Church claims that the Pope is without sin. He is capable of mistakes just as we are (as you seem to admit). Which is why in the early church, we saw many church fathers – not one who was supervising them all. It was a system of checks and balances, with elders. In fact, if you were going to pick a papal authority figure, Paul would have been a likelier choice. (This goes on to argue the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church, though, so let’s leave that for another time.)

Concerning my points, you wrote: Um, these are not infallible statements by Popes.

In what way? And please note that even if that is the case, it also shows that the Popes are prone to extreme error at times.

In response to my statement " the official doctrine of Papal Infallibility is relatively recent. It was formally affirmed only in 1870." You wrote Nope. The doctrines on infallibility are very ancient and go back to the apostles, the early Church, and scripture (John 16:14).

Hon, read what I wrote above: You’re buying the classic Catholic dogma. Do some objective research. Only the SCRIPTURE is infallible.

The Catholic Church only affirms doctrines when there is arguement regarding a doctrine, such as during times of heresy. That's a common error that many non-Catholics make when studying and discussing the Church.

Timothy, don’t you see how silly this is? The Catholic Church should either make a stand or not make a stand. There should be no hair-splitting about what an affirmation entails. They should either believe something and stick to it (heresy or no) or they should simply say “we don’t know”. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying here(?)

You wrote [The Catholic Church] was the only Church when Christianity began. There was only the εκκλησιαι καθ ολης [ekklesia kath oles - catholic church] (Acts 9:31, Koine Greek).

You mistake an organization for a group of believers. Again, you are so snowed by Catholic doctrine that you aren’t even aware of your historical facts. There were myriad groups. Some would be deemed heretical by both Catholics and Protestants today, others were very much of the same beliefs as modern Protestants are.

No, that's a common non-Catholic myth that's grown to urban legend status. Catholics have always been encouraged to learn scripture.

Yes, Timothy, but only to a small extent. And, may I add, the Catholic Church very much has their own version of the Bible. You are rarely (if ever) encouraged to study scriptures OUTSIDE of that version, nor are you encouraged to look into the reasons why the Protestants have rejected portions of the Catholic Bible.

That's why Catholics carefully preserved the Bible by handcopying and why a Catholic (Gutenburg) invented the moveable type press and began printing the Bible. Catholics hear more scripture in their Sunday service than most Proetestants do. Don't believe that? Bring your Bible to a Sunday Mass and try and keep up!

Timothy, there’s no doubt that we have many monks to be grateful for (for their elaborate copying of the scriptures). And Gutenburg WAS a Catholic. But what Protestant churches have YOU been in? In the churches I’ve been in, a Bible is usually mandatory and we should ALL check scriptures as the speaker/pastor/priest uses them. Paul tells us that we should! But I HAVE been to a couple Catholic services. To the best of my knowledge, the priest didn’t crack a Bible open once, and I saw no one in the (very large) church that did.

You wrote that you’re not deceived by your organization. Good! I take that to mean that you’re open to some alternatives, then. I would recommend you begin to study the history of the Catholic Church from sources outside the Catholic Church. Hey – if the CC is 100% correct, they have nothing to worry about, right?

TLI: "The Catholic Church has a long history of being wrong. Ask Copernicus or Galileo."

Two poor examples. We now know from modern astronomy that both Copernicus and Galileo were both wrong and that both the Sun and the Earth move. Had the Church endorsed the then unproven science, the Church would have endorsed or taught error. The Church's actions have in the long term proven to have been the correct choice.


Oh Timothy, Timothy! Surely you are blushing about this lame attempt to defend such error.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, you join legion Catholics in this belief. ;o)

Ed Abbey said...

Saur - You said, "But I HAVE been to a couple Catholic services. To the best of my knowledge, the priest didn’t crack a Bible open once, and I saw no one in the (very large) church that did.

Every Catholic church must have a bible that the priest reads the gospel from. In fact, he usually holds it over his head as he approaches the pulpit. Never been to a mass yet in any country or state where that wasn't true. In fact, one of the things I love about the Catholic church is you can go anywhere in the world and the mass will be over the same old and new testament readings on that particular day, rotated over several years so that all parts of the bible are covered. Most protestant churches that I have been members of never cover large parts of the bible.

I understand your point where many protestant churches have bibles in the pews. Most modern Catholic churches have the scriptures printed in the misilets in the pews for the appropriate mass in question. To me, it seems that this is better than the bibles because you can locate all the readings of the old and new testament relating to that mass right together and saves flipping back and forth and thus not focusing on the sermon.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, I've seen the priests hold their Bible up (thanks for the reminder) but I do NOT recall them reading out of it. They might have RECITED something from scripture, but that's a little different for me. And if so, it would be a little snippet - nothing intensive or studious.

The CC might have Bibles available, or things you can read snippets from, but that's really re-packaging the Bible instead of encouraging someone to get to know the Bible themselves. I'd rather have the flipping, IMHO.

You know, it's funny how many Protestant churches have Bibles available, but the ones that I have been to have the majority of the attendees bringing their own.

How's baby? ;o)

The Lazy Iguana said...

"Two poor examples. We now know from modern astronomy that both Copernicus and Galileo were both wrong and that both the Sun and the Earth move. Had the Church endorsed the then unproven science, the Church would have endorsed or taught error. The Church's actions have in the long term proven to have been the correct choice."

OK Tim - first off you should know that BOTH Copernicus and Galileo said that the Earth moves. How else could the Earth revolve around the sun? Also, they both suspected that the sun moves - but could not come up with any way of proving this through observation.

So the Church rejected this "unproven" stuff because it did not want to teach "error"??? But teaching what they were teaching WAS PURE ERROR!

We know from modern astronomy that both men were correct. Were they 100% correct in everything? No. For example Galileo said Kepler was wrong about the moon causing the tides and planets orbiting in an ellipse. But his most important observations (other planets, moons in orbit around other planets, the sun is the center of the solar system, planets move around the sun) was correct. And the Pope was wrong.

The only reason you can read this, the only reason there are computers and the internet - is because people had the courage to stand up to the church and refute things the church was teaching that was false. If nobody had ever stood up to the pope to say "you are wrong, and I can prove it" then we would all still be living in the mud and filth of the stone age. But the Pope would still be rich.

Ed Abbey said...

Lil Abbey is doing great and growing like a weed. She already has me wrapped around her finger.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, of course she does. :-D Aren't kids amazing??? I know that mine is (generally) more awesome every day, even though we've hit the teens and a couple speed bumps.

Lazy, excellent contribution. Thanks.

Timothy said...

Greetings! Got your comment on my blog. I've replied to all your comments and questions, but after quoting minimal material from your post and trying to minimize my answers, my reply prints out at 6 pages.

I have posted my reply on my own blog as Apologetics - Papal Infallibility, as that was the primary point of contention.

God bless...

+Timothy

Saur♥Kraut said...

Timothy, fair enough! I will try to get over there to read it as soon as I can. It may be a couple of days, but I will! ;o) Incidentally, you might want to check out Underground Logician (his link is listed in my links section), who is a very intelligent Catholic. You'd probably really enjoy getting to know him.