Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Vaticanspeak" affirms why I am not Catholic

Today's post is also a bit afield from our usual discussion of evolution and creation, but read on and you will find a connection at the end.

So ....

Yes, I am not Catholic.

But I am a believer in the Bible as the inspired Word of God, trying to follow the path of Jesus, so imperfectly yet by grace.

I believe the Catholic Church has altered many basic Biblical doctrines. And Foxe's Book of Martyrs clearly shows the result of this going afield. Volumes are written on the subject , so I will not belabor the minutiae here. But I do feel compelled to respond to a couple of things coming out of the Vatican recently.

(1) "Vatican text angers Protestants." July 10, 2007, by David Willey, BBC News, Rome:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/6289014.stm

Willey and BBC inform us that Pope Benedict has approved a new text asserting that Christian denominations outside Roman Catholicism are not true Churches in the full sense of the word.

From my view of the Biblical view, the "Church" with the capital "C" does not belong to the Pope, the Vatican, or any other such. It is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and "where two or three are gathered together," the Lord Jesus is there. That is the true church in every instance globally until the Lord returns.

The institution known in the world as the Catholic Church appears to be a hierarchical mutatation of the true "Church of the Lord Jesus Christ." It claims authority for a celibate Pope with succession traced back to the Apostle Peter himself. But scripture is clear in two places that Peter was a married man. The Catholic church claims leadership authority for pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests who are likewise celibate by requirement (but, from news reports , not always in practice). But scripture says:
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come
through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot
iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from
certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those
who believe and know the truth." (I Timothy 4:1-3).

Also, scripture teaches clearly that, if the Catholic church's priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes have never been married and raised children, they are not qualified to be leaders of the church. Scripture says:
"If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer (traditionally "bishop") he desires a noble task. Now the overseeer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)" I Timothy 3:1-5. See also Titus 1:5-6.

So it is interesting that, by scripture, the Catholic pope in Rome is not qualified by God's Word to have authority over even the smallest group of believers meeting in a brush arbor in the remotest jungle or in a tiny fifth-floor apartment somewhere in Asia.

(2) Reuters article, July 17, 2007, "Sexual abuse not just a Catholic problem: Vatican" by Philip Pullella, Reuters staff writer:

This also newsworthy article regards the Vatican response to the very large financial settlements in Los Angeles and elsewhere for sexual abuse - typically toward children. The record $660 million settlement between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and victims of sexual abuse was an attempt to "close a painful chapter and look forward."

The Vatican's chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, "reaffirmed a position taken by other Catholic Church leaders in the past -- that other organized religions and institutions should also deal with pedophilia as publicly as the Catholic Church has been forced to by various scandals. Lombardi said, 'The problem of the abuse of childhood and its adequate protection certainly does not regard only the (Catholic) Church, but also many other institutions and it is right that these take the necessary decisions as well.'"

It seems to me that the Catholic Church's copout of "everybody else is doing it" in order to lessen the impact of its own culpability is truly despicable. I say that with sorrow since the Catholic Church is the first banner bearer carrying the name of Jesus, the Lord and Savior and only begotten Son of God, before much of our world. Just above you can read that the Holy Scripture says that "deceiving spirits and things taught by demons" would forbid marriage, and scripture further teaches that a man can not be a church leader unless married and having raised his children well. Yes, it is true that here and there, now and then, other institutions (including churches) may have occurrences of pedophelia, but not in the pandemic scale and scope seen in the Catholic church scandal.

Is it unfair to observe Catholic Church realities? Should we not observe that the Catholic Church, which denies marriage to clergy despite the requirement of the Holy Word of God to the contrary, seems to have reaped "'wickedness' within their own ranks" as a direct result of sowing this very clear and direct disobedience to the Word of God?

My observation is that sexual abuse of children is less common in the conservative Protestant Christian world than in the world in general. And sexual abuse of children in the world in general is far less common than now being revealed in the Catholic church.

Fair observers should demand that the Catholic Church first correct its non-Biblical practice of denying marriage. Rome should restore a healthy and Biblical practice of procreation and family within its leadership. Only then should it consider even thinking about talking about occasional incidents in churches and institutions elsewhere.

This also is the admonition of our Lord Jesus:
"You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5).

The "first," it seems, is begun so far only in words but not in enduring substance.

(3) The Pope and Darwin:
See: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1516073,00.html

But maybe at least one thing in Catholicism is changing for the better. This August 31, 2006, TIME article (with CNN) reported: "Headline writers (even TIME's) might be tempted to advertise a grudge match between the Holy Father and the high priest of natural selection. But look again. Our title promises the Pope AND Darwin, not the Pope VS. Darwin. ... But don't expect the Catholic Church to start disputing Darwin's basic findings, which Pope John Paul II in 1996 called 'more than a hypothesis.' Moreover, advocates of the teaching in U.S. schools of intelligent design — which holds that nature is so complex that it must be God's doing — should not count on any imminent Holy See document or papal pronouncement to help boost their cause."

Despite the gloomy spin put on the Pope's meeting last summer by TIME/CNN in the above paragraph, there were seeds of hope in the article.

You may remember hearing about Pope John Paul II's 1996 pronouncement bringing a sea-level change in the creation-evolution controversy as he described evolution as "more than a hypothesis," referenced above. It seems that maybe now, under the guidance of Pope Benedict XVI, we may begin to see the reversal of that slide away from scriptural authority. As the above article mentions, "The issue of evolution has been on this pope's agenda from Day One, as Benedict proclaimed at his installation mass: 'We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God.'"

How heartening to see a glimmer of hope for a positive affirmation of creation coming from this instition which remains the foremost witness of God and Jesus to much of the world. Isn't it nice tht Benedict did not say evolution is "more than a hypothesis"? Let's just pray that Benedict will lead the Catholic Church to the Biblical position of creation, not just to some compromise that really says little or nothing to today's seeking world.

Respectfully submitted,

D.U.

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