October 21, 2020

Bride Of Top Ten Things People Hate About The Catholic Church

Welcome back for another go at telling me what you think is wrong with the Catholic Church. This is the second half of my top ten list of reasons I have heard or read or, maybe on the rare occasion, voiced myself about the Church. March on, dear reader, and give me your best shot.

5.  Yes, we do think we’re the boss of you.  All of you, even if you’re not Christians.

From “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium” Solemnly Promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964”, Chapter II, On the People of God:

14.  This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful.  Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation.  Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church.  Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved….

15.  The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter.  For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal.  They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour.  They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ.  They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities.  Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.  They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits.  Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power.  Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood.  In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end.  Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about.  She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.

16.  Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.  In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.  On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.  But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator.  In the first place amongst these there are the Mohammedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.  Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.  Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.  Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.  Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.  She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life.  But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.  Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair.  Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.

6.  We do/don’t conduct witch-hunts.  (That’s not an “either/or”, by the way, it’s a “both/and”).

Remember what I said about the Magisterium?  Well, here goes!  Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?  From the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”:

The Magisterium of the Church

85  “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone.  Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”  This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

86  “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant.  It teaches only what has been handed on to it.  At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully.  All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”

87  Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”, the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

Well, that’s not too bad, is it?  The Magisterium is the living (and that word is important here, so make note of it) teaching authority of the Church, exercised by the bishops collectively (as the successors of the Apostles) in concert with the supreme authority, the Pope as head of the bishops.  The bishops are collectively said to be infallible in doctrinal matters (as long as they act collectively and in unison with the Pope; individually, each bishop is infallible “in proportion as he teaches in communion and concert with the entire episcopal body” – that means only the Pope alone is infallible when acting alone, so that while Pope Billy-Bob the 93rd may declare ex cathedra that peanuts are the official nut of the Universal Church, Bishop Billy-Bob Watts can’t do this on his ownsome and make it stick, not even in his own diocese – not unless the entire United States Conference of Catholic Bishops agrees, and even then it would only apply to the United States, offer void in Canada).

Ah, but here’s the sticky bit (excerpts from the “Catholic Encyclopedia” of 1913): “Holy Scripture is therefore not the only theological source of the Revelation made by God to His Church. Side by side with Scripture there is tradition, side by side with the written revelation there is the oral revelation”, at which all you Protestants draw in your breath and look askance at us, and “Theologians as such do not form a part of the teaching Church, but as professional expounders of revealed truth they study it scientifically, they collect and systematize it, they illumine it with all the lights of philosophy, history, etc.”, so sorry, all you “Universities in the Jesuit Tradition”, but there is no “parallel magisterium consisting of the theologians”.

So what does this mean?  This means that we’re simultaneously pilloried within and without the Church for conducting witch-hunts.  For an example of inside whinging, see the “National Catholic Reporter” and its jeremiad about the investigation into Fr. Peter Phan, which you would be led to believe was on a par with the burning at the stake of Giordano Bruno, and not a liberal theologian being reined in regarding dodgy Christology and for outside miscomprehension, an online post (which I can’t find now that I need it) about a Baptist (I think) stating that Catholic theologians don’t have the same freedom as Protestant theologians to research freely and fearlessly and come up with whatever results they are led towards; if a Catholic theologian wants to remain a Catholic, he must come up with results in agreement with Church teaching.  To which I say “Yes, my friend; if a Catholic theologian or scholar said “Jings!  My reading of Acts has led me to the conclusion that infant baptism is invalid and all people baptised as infants must be re-baptised – or rather, baptised for the first time – as adults!”, then he has a choice of either following his sincere conscience (if he’s genuinely convinced this is the correct reading) out of the Catholic Church to the Baptists or a non-denominational church of his choosing, or he can agree to hold this opinion privately and not teach it in contradiction to the Magisterium.  What he can’t do is hold a different opinion and still continue to call himself Catholic.”  And I’m pretty sure, my Baptist friends, that there are some readings of Scripture that would get your Baptist credentials called into question?

On the other hand, we’re also criticised for not conducting witch-hunts.  Everybody has their own favourite hobbyhorse; whether it’s one lot who want the bishops and the Pope to declare unto world governments in general (and their own national government in particular) the social teaching of the Church as it applies to Big Business or Environmentalism or Just War Theory and impose it in a “If you’re a Catholic politician or law-maker, you have to push for this under penalty of disobedience” fashion, or you have the other side who want excommunications now  -except when it comes to their own pet causes, like enhanced interrogation torture in the cause of National Security or Free Market Capitalism.  Seriously, I recently read a comment to an online post discussing the accusation re: Harry Potter and even the Narnia series that by using magic the fantasy genre turn kids into Satanists, that referred to Faustian bargains and the commentator wanted to make it absolutely clear that “It is not a deal between merchant and customer, nothing connected to the “Free Market”. I think an accurate metaphor would be something to the effect of a lazy man trying to get more benefits from his ‘case worker’.”  This made me want to bang my head against the desk and I’m fairly sure it also made Baby Jesus cry.  It would appear that the old  saw about “you cannot serve both God and Mammon” is out of date, and Mammon should no longer be considered a demon – a man selling his soul for worldly advantage (an exchange of an item of value for material goods and services between two parties) is not a mercantile transaction after all, but rather yet another example of Big Government and the creeping Socialist Nanny State!

I want to say “A plague on both their houses!”, whether Right, Left, Upstairs or Downstairs.  The only person who gets to say who is and who isn’t excommunicated and what is an excommunicable offence is the guy wearing the big white pointy hat living in Rome, and none of you are him.

7.  We’re Catholics, not Romans.

Anglicans, my little beady eye is cast coldly in your direction on this one.  It may have made you lot feel better back in the 19th century, what with the Church of England falling between the two stools of the Oxford Movement and the Evangelical Revival, to come up with the Branch Theory (a notion which neither we, nor more importantly for your purposes, the Eastern Orthodox bought for a second) and –what was more appealing to the majority – the faintly insulting moniker of the “Roman Catholic Church” (emphasis on the “Roman” to emphasise how it was a foreign, un-British, non-national, them over there what are not like us normal sensible folk, somewhere out abroad church and did we mention it was to do with Rome and you know what that means – Italians which means swarthy men reeking of garlic and vino who are all ice cream salesmen and organ grinders with monkeys and probably members of the Black Hand and the Camorra and the Mafia pursuing vendettas and stabbing each other with stilettos while singing opera?  As Nancy Mitford had a character say in her 1945 novel, “The Pursuit of Love”, “Abroad is unutterably bloody and foreigners are fiends”)

Mm-hmmm.  So, while for the whole of Western Europe until sometime in the 15th century (and the whole of Europe until the Unpleasantness in 1054), there was ever only one “Catholic Church”, you’re trying to tell me that a state church that at the time of its foundation (and for a few centuries afterwards) only held in one nation – England – and not even in the whole of the British Isles (the Welsh were always troublesome and eventually went practically wholesale to Methodism, the Scots were an independent kingdom and went with Knox when they did go, and Ireland never went in the first place, and when you did go international, it was as a corollary of Empire – as Tommy Tiernan’s comedy routine puts it, “England has a fierce reputation for conquering the world; invading loads of different countries and then getting upset when those people follow them home”) was the exact same equivalent as a Church that was pretty much everywhere in the world first.

Sure.  I believe you.  I’ll even swallow that “London” and “Rome” are the same thing when it comes to “Eternal Cities”.  Er, Canterbury and Rome, I mean, ‘cos London as the capital isn’t the same thing as the primatial diocese of England and Wales.  Or rather, Canterbury, York and Rome are all three the same thing, ‘cos when Henry VIII split away, Canterbury and York were still fighting over who had precedence and neither would agree to yield to the supremacy of the other.  So, yep: Cantabrigia and Eboracum and Roma – all the same thing.  (Hey, who founded those first two towns anyway?  Some crowd from somewhere that wasn’t England, granted that “England” didn’t even exist when they were doing the founding?  I wonder who they could have been?)

Meanwhile, we’re not just in Rome.  We’re Catholics of the Latin Rite, or Latin Catholics of the Western Tradition, but there are also the churches of the Byzantine Tradition, the Antiochian or West Syrian Tradition, the Chaldean or East Syrian Tradition, the Armenian Tradtion and the Alexandrian Tradition.  Some of us are in dioceses, some of us are in eparchies, all of us are Catholics.

Don’t worry, I forgive you: not even all we Papists know that.  But if you want to do Catholic-bashing right, see this clip from “Alexander Nevsky”, the 1938 Soviet film by Sergei Eisenstein, where the Teutonic Knights go up against the army of Novgorod in the Battle of the Ice – now that’s the way to do it!

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxlLbKspcQQ’]

8.  We’re so dang old.

Whatever else you want to say about us, we’ve been around a long time.  Which means that we’re the ecclesiastical equivalent of the grumpy old codger shouting “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!” and going on about “In my day, we didn’t have all this fancy technology” and “Coffee?  You want coffee?  After church? What next – people singing along with the choir?”  So we stuff our churches full of bones and statues and don’t move with the times and funnily enough, we remember back when there was (insert latest socio-political cause celebré) the first time round and that’s why we’re not leaping to embrace it like trout leaping at a fly – we know there’s a hook and a line and a fisherman waiting to haul us out on the bank and knock us on the head if we do.

We’ve tried being hip and it didn’t work (see: church architecture of the past forty years, guitar ‘folk Masses’, liturgical dance).  So we’re going back to the old ways: a new English Mass translation is being rolled out world-wide (and by “new”, we mean “more faithful to the original Latin text”, not “gender-neutral and inclusive and feminist language and removal of all references to kingship, lordship, or dominion and hierarchy in general”) and if you want to hear how that sounds, this is the first trial in an English parish (use of Eucharistic Prayer II if anyone wants to follow along), at the Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge.

Better get used to it, my confreres, because this is how we’ll be praying from now on.  Also, the bishops of England and Wales are re-introducing meatless Fridays, so a whole new generation will once again learn the relevance of the term “mackerel-snappers”!  That’s right: not voluntary (which means no-one ever did anything anyway) but compulsory abstinence and prayer.

9.  The BIBLE!!!

You really need me to get started on this one?  Okay, we can’t even agree how many books are in the canon: Jewish and Protestant 39 versus Catholic 46 versus Eastern Orthodox 51 for the Old Testament, though we do seem to agree on 27 for the New Testament (except for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, who throw a few extra in here as well).

You guys have a new translation practically for every time you change your clothes.  We had the Douay-Rheims for ages, then we got the Jerusalem version, and now the Americans have the New American Bible and most other English-speaking places have a choice between the Jerusalem Bible and some form of  the Revised Standard Version, none of which have much to choose between them for tin-eared use of language.  Luckily, this doesn’t matter, because despite the best efforts of various Popes to get us to do so, we don’t read them anyway.

10.  Women – can’t live with ‘em, can’t find a secure place to dump the bodies.

Oh, this one I love.  We are simultaneously a cult of pagan goddess-worshippers who elevate a mere sinful human woman to divine status and make her as important or even more important than the Trinity and/or Jesus, while repressing, oppressing and generally shoving the patriarchy down the throats of women everywhere by refusing them leadership roles/ordination, access to reproductive health rights, or divorce.

We worship Mary, yet we have never permitted any other woman in the entire history of the Church any form of influence or recognition whatsoever (no, don’t be silly, this collection of 17 talks on “Holy Women” from the General Audiences of Pope Benedict XVI doesn’t count as recognition) and we deny power, influence or an equal share in the affairs of the Church, from the local parish on up, to women because we hate them – even though one trope of 19th century anti-Catholic propaganda was to contrast the virile, masculine (Anglo-Saxon) Protestantism of Great Britain (and some favoured Continental countries) with the febrile, sentimental, feminine Catholicism of the rest of Europe.  Only women went to Catholic churches, as could be seen by any tourist abroad with their very own eyes, because Catholicism cunningly appealed to women and used its influence over them to make its insidious way into the heart of the family and the home, and so maintain its power.

We don’t have any women saints, except nuns, because we don’t value ordinary women ( no women saints who are not nuns, that is, except queens, and mothers, and wives, and martyrs, and virgins not nuns, and girls, and old women, and repentant prostitutes, and everyone else). And certainly we don’t have any women Doctors of the Church (except Saints Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, and Thérèse de Lisieux, who, granted, had to wait until 1970 for equal treatment, but hey, we work on Vatican time).  And no woman ever was an abbess or other head of a religious organisation, because those were politically as well as religiously powerful organisations, and certainly no abbess or nun or lay-woman ever dared write letters rebuking Popes, or founded either enclosed or active orders (this is the technical distinction between “nuns” and “sisters”; the order that founded the school that taught me were the Sisters of Mercy, but St. Thérèse of Lisieux was a nun because she was an enclosed Carmelite).

We originated and perpetuate the virgin/whore dichotomy because we want to punish women for their sexuality, at the same time that we impose an unnatural demand for celibacy on our male-only priesthood.  We refused to believe that women had souls or treat them as equals, and we put all the blame for sin on them.  Never mind that St. Thomas Aquinas makes reference to:

Therefore original sin, is contracted, not from the mother, but from the father: so that, accordingly, if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would not contract original sin: whereas, if Adam, and not Eve, had sinned, they would contract it.

…Some hold that if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would be immune from the sin, but would have been subject to the necessity of dying and to other forms of suffering that are a necessary result of the matter which is provided by the mother, not as punishments, but as actual defects.  …If, therefore, supposing Adam had not sinned, original sin would not have been transmitted to posterity on account of Eve’s sin; it is evident that the children would not have been deprived of original justice: and consequently they would not have been liable to suffer and subject to the necessity of dying.

We originated and perpetuate the virgin/whore dichotomy because we want to punish women for their sexuality.  We force women to bear as many children as physically possible by denying them access to contraception and abortion, since our only use for women is as brood-mares to provide more mindless believers to pack our pews in order to prop up our power and fill the coffers of the Vatican (as an online amateur summarising the history of the Catholic Church and the ban on birth control puts it, “The more children that Catholic families have, the more Catholics there are to spread that way of life and to pay the church’s tithes”, and how can you argue with someone who knows we have tithes even if we say we don’t?)  No, there is no such thing as “Natural Family Planning”, don’t be silly: that would mean married women could have a period when they weren’t continuously pregnant, and the rule is you have to have as many children as your body can bear, remember?  Yet we also hard-heartedly refuse women the opportunity to have children by banning recourse to artificial insemination (even by one’s own husband, let alone a donor!), donor eggs, surrogate mothers or IVF.  We also only praise child-bearing if it takes place within marriage, so we frown upon single women or co-habiting couples having children because we assign too high a value to virginity and chastity, which is why there are no single Catholic women outside of convents – we don’t permit them to live in the world on their own without a man to serve.  We allocate all the power and influence to men and make no demands on the regulation of their sexuality while we impose an unnatural demand for celibacy on our male-only priesthood and so expect them to live as chastely as if they were, well, unmarried females.  As an aside, this is also why the Catholic Church is single-handedly to blame for the spread of AIDS in Africa, because men who visit prostitutes and have multiple sexual partners, even if not Catholics themselves, pause before engaging in sexual intercourse outside of marriage to remind their partners that the Catholic Church forbids the use of condoms but has no rules about adultery and fornication.  Remember, there is no coherent philosophy or rationale, much less developed theology, behind all this other than hatred and contempt for women.

Yeah, as a woman Catholic, it’s really hard being so self-loathing and repressing all the time.  I have to stop and check to see if I’m having too much fun or not being miserable enough.  Never mind that I’m still single and don’t have 26 kids at my age!  Oh, it’s a dreadful burden, so it is!

Okay, so now it’s your turn: be you cradle, cultural, cafeteria or convert Catholic, non-Catholic Christian, non-Christian or non-anything, what drives you nuts about Holy Mother Church?






  1. Aidan Clevinger says

    I’d list a few things:

    1. Justification. It really is by grace through faith alone. Period.

    2. Who am I supposed to be listening to? The medieval Popes have a completely different way of teaching/looking at doctrine than the more recent ones. Heck, even if you take away the *doctrinal* inconsistency, there’s still a problem of tone: do I take the more gentle, conciliatory approach of John Paul II, or the guns blazing approach of Boniface VIII?

    3. Mary. ‘Nuff said.

    4. What does “infallibility of the Pope” even mean? The way that it’s spoken of in Trent, it sounds like every official communication of the Popes are to be considered inspired. But the way that the past half-century of Popes has looked at it, they’ve completely overthrown the old understanding. Who’s got it right?

    I’m sure it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. I don’t hate the Catholics by any means, even if some of the teachings make me itch.

    • Aidan,

      1. The inspired author James flatly contradicts you: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24).

      What did James mean?

      Catholics have an answer that harmonizes with the Scriptures: James is speaking here to Christians of their ongoing justification. Initial justification is by grace alone through faith and not any works whatsoever (did you realize Catholics believe that? They do). But ongoing justification (which you may think of as sanctification) is by grace through faith that works in love.

      • You can’t completely harmonize Paul and James on this. There was not a uniform-and-identical-in-all-essentials “faith once for all delivered to the saints” in the first century. There was diversity and disagreement. Even the narratives of Jesus’ life and actions and words can’t be completely harmonized. Hence the multiplicity of Christianities over the centuries. People would love to find the One True Church that has faithfully and authentically and correctly preserved and transmitted the Apostolic Faith and Deposit and practice. But there isn’t and never was such an animal. Those who claim the RCC or the EOC is that creature, or convert to or accept those Churches’ claims re: such, have to overlook and rearrange and downplay and manipulate some things to get their idealized square peg ecclesiology to fit into the round hole of Church history.

        YMMV, of course.

        • Eric,

          With respect, I did just harmonize it, by summarizing the teaching of the Catholic Church on justification, which is not just a one-time event as most Protestants teach, but also has an ongoing component.

          That said, I agree that there are tensions and apparent contradictions in the Bible. No argument there. But Catholicism and Orthodoxy have the most credible claims to being the Church Christ founded–if that still exists in any visible form–even if it may not be obvious to some Christians today.

          • IYO.

          • Aidan Clevinger says

            But look at the context of James’ statements. He’s talking about justification *before men*, which is absolutely accomplished by our works.

          • Glenn A Bolas says

            ‘But look at the context of James’ statements. He’s talking about justification *before men*, which is absolutely accomplished by our works.’

            …..and then gives as a prime example Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac on a lonely mountaintop with nobody watching? Um…..ok.

  2. TruthOverfaith says

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “What’s this shit I”m hearing about a human sacrifice!? What kind of Neanderthal bullshit is that!? What are we, living in the fucking Stone Age!!!? Blood sacrifice!!! Are you fucking kidding me!!!!!?’

    And his disciples responded, “Umm, er, come again?”

    • …and the readership responded, “ummm, does this vulgarity and profanity have any real importance to this statement?”

      • Possibly TOF (I trust he will pardon the abbreviation) is referring to the doctrine of transubstantiation. It is obviously offensive to his rationalist philosophy.


        • Richard Hershberger says

          Ah, transubstantiation! A 12th century interpretation of Aristotelian metaphysics grafted onto Christian doctrine. What’s not to love?

          • You use the tools that you have at hand, Richard. In the 12th century, those metaphysics were the cutting-edge. In another thousand years, the smart people will be chortling about the poor primitives of the 21st century who believed some guru called Eisenstein or something when he set light speed as the upper limit.

      • David Cornwell says

        Don’t worry Pattie, most boys start maturing around 18 or 23.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Unless they’re Baby Boomers or their Mini-Mes.

          There are a LOT of perpetual six-year-olds in sexually-active adult bodies walking around out there.

          • David Cornwell says

            That’s quite an image!

          • the pastor at my the church i attended before moving here categorized the difference between ‘guys’ that are really still boys that shave & can lift heavy objects, vs. men that have true marks of maturity by exhibiting self-control & take personal responsibility for walking out their faith as Jesus inspires them…

            we were always catching ourselves during after-church conversations where the word ‘guy’ was mentioned & others correcting with the proper word ‘man’… 😉

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            My writing partner is a pastor and counselor. He says I’m one of the most “grown-up” Baby Boomers he’s had to counsel. That is SCARY, because I know my head’s never been wrapped all that tight to begin with!

        • I raised a pair of the hooligans after marrying one (we were so young I guess I can count raising him, too [and vice-versa, in fairness] and may I suggest we ammend that number to 28-30, IMHO!

          • 30? I beg to differ: I remember only too well my 36 year old brother teaching our 4 year old nephew how to belch.

            May I suggest we don’t assign any particular date to the eventual maturation of the male of the species? 😉

  3. The Catholic Church is wont to assume that if somebody out there is not Catholic, there must be a reason. And so we see an endless procession of inter-religious dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, Catholics and Anglicans, Catholics and Lutherans, etc. which (except in the case Muslims, Jews, and others from what are obviously other religions) emphasize areas of theological agreement, and areas in which further reflection and discussion needs to occur before unity can take place. Strangely, we never see the Methodists wringing their hands over the arcana separating them from the Lutherans (although some U.S. groups did agree to recognize one another’s priests–for practical purposes, not with an eye to future merger). Okay, nobody much hates the Methodists (except firebrand atheists and probably, other Methodists), and few Methodists can imagine that they are the One True Church, but…well that’s just it, isn’t it? To find another “One True Church” we have to go slumming with the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Okay, and the Orthodox, but they have mixed feelings about dialogue anyway, and not all of them are eager to rub shoulders with regular white people.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      To find another “One True Church” we have to go slumming with the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

      Or a lot of splinter churches. You know, Celebrity Pastor Billy-Bob’s One True New Testament Church Founded by Jesus Christ in 33 AD (And ALL Others are Heretic and Apostate!)?

      • You know, I’m so used to just substituting CE/BCE when I read that I did the mental sub in your line there and then was amused. I’m guessing Pastor Billy-Bob would be enraged at the concept of using CE to replace his cherished AD, even if it is a Latin abbreviation!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          What burns me about CE/BCE dating is “CE” for “Common Era”.

          Now WHAT makes it “Common”? To Romans, “Common Era” was from the founding of Rome. To a lot of other cultures, “Common Era” is the reigning year of the current ruler. “Common” does not specify a specific calendar.

          Now if “CE” stood for “Christian Era” (as I’ve heard used occasionally), that makes more sense. A LOT more sense. You’re giving the year, and specifying the calendar used to measure that year.

          But “Common Era”? Sounds like something from one of those Christianese Conspiracy Theories, where the “Secular Humanist Heathens” (like Demons in old Isaac Airfrieght skits) will do ANYTHING to avoid pronouncing anything resembling or alluding to “Christ” or “Christian”.

          • Jack Heron says

            In fairness, Jesus probably wasn’t born in AD1 and it’s just massively clunky to say that Christ was born several years Before Christ.

          • What makes it common is that most of the western world considers AD/BC to be given. And because the Israelis and the Chinese et al trade with the western world, they also tend to use it at least for trade purposes. If I say that something occurred 5000 years from the founding of Rome this doesn’t make much sense for most non-specialists. But if I say 1957 CE then it clearly defines the date as height of the Cold War etc. And because converters are already written, that 1957 can be converted into Chinese, Hebrew, et al calendars.

            It pragmatically solves the problem of continuing to use the common dates without allowing 1 religious sect to engage in a petty act of cultural imperialism. It may be the year of some people’s lords, but it is NOT the year of MY lord.

          • It would be equally clunky to say that Jesus was born in 1 AD. (Think about it.) Knowledge of the zero apparently took awhile to reach Europe.

            I too dislike “Common Era,” though I could accept “Christian Era.” My point is not to belittle other religions by saying that Christianity reigns over them, but simply to name the calendar that, rightly or wrongly, people all over the world have decided to use.

          • Isaac Asimov (may the heavens be his bed) had a short story about a movement to create a Common Era designation and have it accepted world-wide. There’s some discussion mid-story about what do you measure from as a ‘common’ event, since every culture has a different date. I think they settle on agreeing to measure from some scientific discovery, but I can’t remember what.

            This being a 40s/50s era pulp twist-in-the-tale skiffy story, it turns out to be the Devil trying to get everyone to follow the same calendar, so that the End of the World as prophesied could finally come about!

            (This strikes me as perhaps Asimov poking mild fun, as a secular Jew, at the Rapture theology of America at the time).

          • Glenn A Bolas says

            What irritates me about the CE/BCE nomenclature is its arbitrariness. I’m perfectly happy to retain AD/BC and would be equally happy, given the undeniable twin facts of multiculturalism and the West being a post-Christian society, to have a totally new calendrical system dating from, I don’t know, the Enlightenment or whatever watershed date the modern West finds relevant (off the top of my head, 1789, 1815 or 1914 might be decent candidates). If the Powers That Dictate Culture feel that AD/BC carries a distinct whiff of religious imperialism or has simply become irrelevant and outmoded (and I’m prepared to accept either position), why not actually ditch it? Simply renaming it only serves to disguise the issue. Common Era begs the question, ‘Common to whom, and why?’ It’s still going from the (albeit miscalculated) year of Christ’s birth. If that can no longer be considered a culturally acceptable thing to make explicit, then at least be consistent and choose a different year.

      • Here is the one true church, a cartoon from thomasthedoubter. Father Ernesto posted it a while back.

  4. O.K., I’ll give it a whirl . . .

    1. I hate that your leaders always dress much better than ours!

    2. I hate that your services carry much more seriousness and gravity than ours. We evangelicals have allowed our services to devolve into nothing more serious than a Jethro Tull concert.

    3. I hate that for all the time, effort, emotion, and money that American Protestants have put into politics, your church gets to have an embassy in Washington DC, and ours does not!

    4. I hate the great power (in an earthly sense) and authoritarian structure in the RCC that has allowed for such flagrant abuse in centuries past. If the truth be known, however, I sometimes envy that same structure when I see 10,000 evangelical popes say and do whatever “moves” them.

    5. I hate that religious power usually has a destructive effect on people. Ezekiel refers to shepherds that abuse the sheep. I have seen plenty of that kind of abuse in my own Protestant/evangelical circles, but the sheer size, wealth, and power of the RCC scares me sometimes.

    6. I am not a big fan of the use of images and sculpture in worship. Is it really necessary? The gap between Scripture and tradition seems too wide to reconcile.

    7. Finally! I think Martin Luther had a point . . .

    I hope I said all of this with humility. I have met Catholic folk who trust Christ implicitly for eternity. I have met others who are scared to death that they haven’t done enough to earn heaven or escape purgatory. I have met some who just don’t seem to care. I have met even more evangelicals about whom I could say the same things. Had I been born in a different time, place, or family, I acknowledge that I could easily be waving the Papal banner. I have made the best choice that I, in my finite mind, can make. My only hope is that Christ will bless my good efforts, and forgive both my sins and my well-intentioned errors. May the Lord be merciful to all of us on judgment day.

    Good grief, its late! Goodnight!

    • Chill, re: your #1 – have you seen some of the vestments our guys wear? Did you miss this Bad Vestments post on an otherwise orthodox RC bishop dressed up in what looks like the chasuble for the feast of St. Ronald of the Golden Arches?

      # 2 – ha! We can and do have the most dull, anodyne, watered-down, “Hi, I’m Father Bob!” services around; the only good thing is that our authoritarian tendency has meant that the liturgy is fixed and despite the worst mucking around with it, even the wildest liturgist out there has to stick to some form of the Mass.

      #3 – if the Southern Baptists secede and form their own city-state, they too can have their own embassies worldwide 😉

      • David Cornwell says

        “#3 – if the Southern Baptists secede and form their own city-state, they too can have their own embassies worldwide ”

        I vote for Dallas and First Baptist Church because they already cover “six city blocks and seven major buildings.”

      • Martha, thank you for responding , and for the link. Isn’t it amazing the crazy things that we Christians try to make sacred?

        As for #3, you should check out christianexodus.org . They advocate migration of like-minded people to South Carolina in order to form a majority voting block and possibly secede from the Union. Yes, I’m telling the truth! I live in South Carolina, and I want to remind all of my fellow citizens that we tried secession once, and it went very badly for us!

        • Now Chill, wouldn’t you like to be the first Ambassador from the Sovereign and Independent Nation-State of South Carolina to Paris? Or London? Or Montego Bay? Or somewhere appropriately exotic or luxurious?


    • Matt Purdum says

      A Jethro Tull concert can be a pretty serious event. He’s really NOT the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.

  5. What drives me crazy about the Catholic Church is that we don’t hear enough from more Marthas of Ireland!

    This is one of your best pieces yet! Peace be with your spirit . . . 🙂

  6. I may be a namby-pamby Catholic or a near-heretic and sometimes even bordering on being a Christian Universalist. but I can stand happy and proud knowing this from the Lumen Gentium written when I was 10 years old:

    “Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.”

    I LOVE it! It makes me happy to be a Catholic. You tell ’em, Pope Paul VI!

  7. Jack Heron says

    Martha, could you elaborate a bit on your criticisms of Branch Theory? As I understand it, it basically states that despite the split from Rome, Anglicanism has maintained the essential structure of Apostolic Succession (ie. ordination by laying on of hands which can be traced back) and that therefore the Anglican Communion has as much claim to Apostolicity as the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. This makes it one of the legitimate (according to certain definitions of ‘legitimate’) heirs of the early church along with the other two.

    The objections I’ve heard so far centre on the argument that Anglicanism has fallen away from the true church in various ways and therefore can’t count. But the trouble with that argument is that it’s subjective: it assumes the fallen-away nature of Anglicanism in an attempt to demonstrate the fallen-away nature! One could argue contrariwise that Catholicism strayed from the path over the centuries and Anglicanism broke off to get back to it (not an argument I’d entirely agree with given the almost soap-opera nature of much of the English Reformation, but one that could be made). Are there refutations of the theory that don’t resort to this kind of thing?

    On a related note, I’m now hoping for a Revenge of the Return of the Son of the Bride of Top Ten Things People Hate About the Catholic Church from Twenty Thousand Fathoms.

    • Gail Finke says

      Anglicans do not have apostolic succession because the Anglican Communion changed what it meant by the sacraments. For a sacrament to be valid, you must intend the same thing that the Church intends by it. Going through the motions and saying the words does not make in itself make a sacrament valid. In the 1800s Pope Leo XIII had an investigation into Anglicanism and his investigators came to this conclusion. That is why an Anglican priest who converts to Catholicism has to be ordained; because he was never ordained by the Anglicans. An unbroken succession of laying on hands does not matter. And therefore, the Anglicans are not a “third branch” of the Catholic Church, they are Protestants.

      Anglicans, for instance, are free to believe that the Eucharist is symbolic. An Anglican priest can believe this. Anyone who believes the Eucharist is merely symbolic cannot mean the same thing as a Catholic priest when he says the words of consecration, which means that whatever he says and does, the Eucharist does NOT become the body and blood of Christ. Anglicans can freely go back and forth to priests who do and don’t believe that the Eucharist is symbolic, and all sorts of private interpretations in between. The same is true for the other sacraments. Therefore, their sacraments have not been valid for centuries. That is in a nutshell the reason Catholics (and Orthodox) don’t accept the third branch theory. Catholics and Orthodox are not essentially talking about the Anglicans “falling away” in any sense, they are talking about the Anglicans not agreeing on the essential meanings of the sacraments that both Catholics and Orthodox have held in common for 2000 years. And no, transubstantiation doesn’t count. The Orthodox do no agree on the Catholic explanation for what happens to make bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, but they are both quite firm that however it happens, the transformation is real.

      • Jack Heron says

        The trouble with that is that this opinion is held by the Catholics and the Orthodox. Anglicans believe their sacraments are valid and that the Catholic-Orthodox disagreement on this matter is in error. So again we’re back to ‘I say it is!’ vs ‘I say it’s not!’, and you can’t invoke the authority of a church when you’re debating whether or not it has any.

        Basically, both sides have different definitions for what is required to be part of (or the totality of) the ‘True Church’ and are then complaining that the other side doesn’t fulfil their definition.

        • Jack,

          I’d suggest, and you may already be aware of them, Bishop Jewel’s Apology of the Church of England, and Hooker’s Lawes of Eclesiastical Politie.


      • What about Anglo-Catholics or others who believe in Transubstantiation or at least a Real Presence?

        • From what I understand, it’s not a matter of individual personal beliefs. The Catholics and the Orthodox definitely feel a brotherhood with the Anglo-Catholics: see the orthodox-anglican talks earlier in the 20th century and the more recent offer for whole anglo-catholic congregations to join the catholic church wholesale while retaining their traditions.

          What it seems to come down to is this: Catholics and Orthodox both operate as communions. So when either of them approaches another group, it’s not approaching some subsect of of it’s members, but it’s communion as a whole. The radical variance in belief on subjects of first importance to the historical churches in the Anglican communion confound them. So it’s not so much that they find anglo-catholics to be wrong, but rather that their beliefs are not universally accepted within their communion and that there doesn’t even seem to be a mechanism for the anglicans coming to a unity of belief.

          • But why should Anglicans come to a unity of belief? It was the genius of Queen Liz (otherwise lamentable for other reasons including Plantation) to unite folks on a spectrum from Catholicism to Geneva and therefore bring peace (at least in religious terms) to her realm.

            I’ve been to a few Episcopalian ordinations that have involved co-ordinations by 3 Bishops, one Episcopalian, and one of two branches of the ORC (Old Roman Catholic Church) in order to ensure maintenance of succession.

    • Jack, to me (and please bear in mind Irish Catholic bias ravening all over the place) the “Branch Theory” is on a par with Henry VIII using Arthurian legends to bolster his claim that England was an empire and therefore, as Emperor, he was entitled to exercise imperial authority over church appointments in England. Also, if Geoffrey Moorhouse’s “The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries” is to be believed, all the loot acquired by Thomas Cromwell’s careful dismantling of the religious edifice of England was blown in one year’s Continental campaigning in Henry’s wars of prestige.

      The trouble with the Branch Theory is that it comes so late in the evolution of the Anglican Church, which swung with the monarch’s opinion (quite naturally, as Henry had made himself the Supreme Head of the Church and though his successors softened that down to Supreme Governor, the monarch was still the ultimate legal authority). So if the monarch – like Edward VI – was inclined to the more Protestant or Continental Reformers angle, then the tenor of the church swung that way. You have those claiming to be Catholic just not Romans, those claiming to be the heirs of the ‘Celtic Church’ before the Synod of Whitby, those trying to forge stronger links with the Lutherans, those who claimed to be Protestant, those inclining more towards the Puritans – you name it, it’s been there (and often at the same time).

      If Anglicanism is a third branch, then what about the Copts? Or the Ethiopians? How many branches are there?

      • Jack Heron says

        Those seem to be more arguments against the close relationship of Church and State in England, though (and I’d be right behind you on that). And these problems aren’t unique to Anglicanism – look at the problems Eastern Orthodoxy is having with ethnic groups/modern states/autocephalous churches all getting mixed up.

        Never thought I’d hear a Catholic argue that an idea developed over generations is the poorer for that… :p I find the confusing nature of Anglicanism rather refreshing, actually. It allows great disagreements within the church while still remaining together as one rather shaky whole (that’s probably hubris given our current issues). Maybe if Catholicism had been less rigid on internal differences there wouldn’t have been a Reformation?

        Yep, bring the Copts in too! And the Ethiopians, I rather like the word ‘Tewahedo’. I think there are some Apostolic Lutherans knocking around somewhere, aren’t there?

        (Incidentally, speaking of England and Catholicism, you might have heard that it was decided just today that it would no longer be illegal for the monarch to marry a Catholic. Also the succession laws will be changed to allow women to succeed before younger brothers.)

      • The Quakers sometimes speak of their tradition as a third branch (or perhaps phase) of Christianity.

  8. textjunkie says

    What really gets me about the Catholic church? Their views on contraception. But I’m with Jefferts-Schori on that one.

    But I missed the bit about the Anglicans, not sure what you are getting at there–there’s the catholic church, and there’s the Catholic church. I don’t use the term “Roman Catholic Church” unless we’re giving everyone their full names (“Eastern Orthodox Church”, “Celtic Orthodox Church”, “Apostolic Lutheran Church”–we sound like a bunch of serial killers, will all those three-name combos… ;).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      …with all those three-name combos…

      Pinkamina Diane Pie?

    • Glenn A Bolas says

      The ‘Roman Catholic Church’ bit may be more a British thing and less common in America where there’s no established church. I notice it, for example, in the writings of C.S. Lewis and the way he sometimes refers to the ‘Romans’ or ‘Roman ideas’ when mentioning Catholics or Catholic doctrines.

  9. The only real gripe I continue to have after all these years as a Catholic, is, as the book of the same title says, “WHY CATHOLICS CAN’T SING”.

    Maybe it is the lack of the six piece band and the lyrics on the Jumbo-Tron? My theory is that the sweet little lady who “leads us” in song has a wavering soprano that no men and only three other women in the pews could possibly hit.

    But, on the bright side, we are NOT singing the latest CCM song with dubious theology and a twelve minute bridge meant for swaying.

    • Glenn A Bolas says

      I echo your befuddlement, Pattie. Fortunately, I can also offer a glimmer of hope that this phenomenon may be a Western (or, at any rate, Anglophone) Catholic thing rather than a universal Catholic thing (if that’s not a tautology). The congregation at the church I’ve been attending this year in Wuhan, China, actually sing pretty well. And by well I mean you can actually hear the voices of the congregation over the young lass in the front pew with the microphone. Admittedly, I’ve yet to be fully successful in adding my voice to theirs because my Chinese is still rubbish, but I tell you what, the first Sunday I attended I was almost catatonic with shock when it came to the first hymn and I could actually hear people around me singing!

    • Paul Davis says

      More than once Ive wondered “WHO wrote this?, was their piano out of tune?”…

      I have actually (God forgive me) bumped my wife in service because she was belting out a hymn like a good baptist, and getting us noticed. 😉


    • That’s only because a 12 minute bridge would either lengthen the service or require speeding through the rest to get it under the time limit.

      But your comment does take me back to Sunday services with the music being led by the dear (now, unfortunately departed) cantor of the parish. He had one tune–kind of a falsetto plainsong. We used to joke and sing songs like Mary had a little lamb in his style.

    • Neither do most evangelical churches!

    • Actually, our parish does pretty well most of the time, Patty. But, that’s here in North Carolina. Parishes in Atlanta do as well.

      “we are NOT singing the latest CCM song with dubious theology and a twelve minute bridge meant for swaying.
      Unfortunately a lot of the music is by some former sj, dubious or heretical lyrics or “We are many parts, we are all one Chevy”.

  10. LAUGH! Thank you for sharing this…..and as I can personally attest, they DO still execute witch hunts, and in most cases, against women (ie: investigation of the Women Religious). Because I practice Reiki, I was a subject of the local-self-appointed inquisition and their witch hunting tactics. And for the record….I DO weigh the same as a duck. (Monty Python reference!) 🙂

    Thank you for naming and recognizing that which the Catholic church really needs to be held accountable for! Love em and Hate em!

    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom Ministries

    PS The offer still stands for a guest-blog on “what I love about the Catholic Church!” 😉

    • Lauri,

      Reiki is incompatible with Catholicism. If you want to be Catholic, be Catholic. Believe in the Church’s teachings. If you want to be Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim or your own thing, then join those religions (or make one up yourself).

      • Reiki is a kind of spiritual healing through massage. If that’s verboten, what about yoga or taiqichuan? I know of at least one Zen roshi who is a Catholic religious (acting under orders).

        • Westerners generally use yoga classes as an exercise class, with maybe in some instances a thin coating of some kind of spirituality on top. Our school runs evening classes and there’s always a yoga class or two on there, and it’s purely for health and fitness benefits.

          This is actually kind of insulting, because yoga arises out of Hindu devotional practice. It’s a bit like adapting monastic fasting and diet in some kind of purely secular ‘drop two dress sizes for Christmas to fit into your slinky party dress with the St. Benedict of Nursia diet!’

          We’d be insulted, and I think some yogis in India aren’t too happy, either.

      • A lot of Westerners import Eastern religious techniques, but they don’t necessarily accept or understand religious/cultural context in which those techniques grew. They seem most often to be grafting it all onto a very Western notion of health/self-improvement/etc. So one might have to ask what techniques are being practiced and how those connect to their belief system to know.

        On Blake’s observation, I went to a series of teachings by the Dali Lama in Bloomington, Indiana. There a number of Christian religious there, in the circle closest to him. I don’t know who they were, but they appeared to be Catholic … at least, they were not Orthodox, and did not look like any Protestant I’ve seen.

        • I read of a Catholic priest in good standing who is also a Zen master. It was a while ago, so I don’t have a link to point to.

          • You are probably thinking of Robert E. Kennedy, SJ (he has a book out). Sr. Elaine MacInnes is another roshi who is a Catholic religious.

        • Stephen Seagal was there. (Really!)

  11. Gail Finke says

    “mackerel-snappers” — my father just told me that Protestant kids used to call Catholic kids that. I had never heard it before. My mom and dad talked to me the Catholic and Protestant kids walking to and from school and calling each other names, and then later all playing together. It was more for fun, and to be loyal to their schools, they said. Oh, the other one my mom remembers is “Cat-lickers”!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      You know, if you’ve spent time in-country with Furry Fandom, “Cat-Licker” takes on a whole new meaning…

      I need some brain-bleach…

      • I will not google this! I will not google this! I will not…

      • May I recommend Bleeprin? (An invention of a fandom I was involved in a while back; it’s a combination of bleach – to scrub the bad mental images – and aspirin – for the headache).

        For those particularly disturbing instances where bleeprin just won’t cut it, we have bleepka (a suspension of the active ingregients in bleeprin in alcohol base, i.e. vodka).


  12. As a cradle Catholic now Evangelical. I always wanted to go back to Catholicism but could never find folks that had a new birth experience or who wanted to pray and read the bible. Seems that most folks that go to an RC church do it out of superstition “I’m OK if I just receive the host” How does one critique the Catholic church by working for change on the inside or going to another church to still maintain the Protest.

    • Actually Bob there are bible study groups popping up alot at parishes – real bible study, not applied bible like “How to raise your kids through scripture” or “How to suceed in business using scripture” etc. Seems we are finally beginning to get a littles curious…

  13. There is only one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Not one Holy, Roman Catholic, and Apostolic Church. This attempted usurping of Rome as the utlimate seat of power and authority is the main contention, for from it and the authority it then wished to excercise sprang most of the problems leading up to the need for the Reformation.

    • Irenaeus: “by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the succession of the bishops” (Against Heresies 3.3.2)”

      Looks like the usurpation by Rome happened early on, in the 100s.

      • Devin,

        To begin with a quote..

        And now I come to the great thing which so much troubleth my conscience … and that is setting
        abroad of a writing contrary to the truth; which now here I renounce and refuse as things
        written with my hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of
        death, and to save my life if it might be. And that is all such bills and papers which I have
        written or signed with my hand since my degradation, wherein I have written many things
        untrue … And as for the Pope, I refuse him as Christ’s enemy and Antichrist, with all his false

        I have no doubt you know the early church fathers better, much better than I do, but I have read them enough to know, as you should have, that there is a difference from saying that Rome was a leader in the early church, and saying it was the head to which all other sees owed authority.

  14. Martha, you are hilarious as always! You have provided a pleasant distraction from an evil nerve in my mouth that is attempting to make me miserable. Bless you.

    This may sound weird, but I like Point #5. By defining the Church as the center of salvation and Christians outside the Church as bound to it in a secondary sense, it neither signs away its own claims nor ignores the fact that a lot of people are calling on Jesus Christ and manifesting some “fruit” as well. As Joanie said, there is even some charity toward non-Christian religions and those outside the reach of the gospel. As someone who has long been interested in useful ways to assert specific truth without woodenly refusing to see things of beauty elsewhere as well, I see this approach as quite useful. At least, it strikes me as better than either saying, “Beauty and Truth are HERE and never THERE” or “We can reconcile everyone by simply reducing any religion or culture to its lowest common denominator; the rest is dross.” (As if anyone would recognize their beloved religion or culture after it had been boiled down into a jelly…)

  15. Honorius, Archbishop of Cantebury (7th Century) once wrote the Irish Church, saying something along the lines of they should not assume that they were “wiser than the ancient and modern Churches of Christ scattered throughout the earth.” The dispute then was over the date of Easter, with some Pelagian troubles thrown in, to boot. Of course, all of those churches would be considered ancient today.

    Here’s what I see as the essential issue that the evangelical folk (and I’m one) have with Catholic/Orthodox/High Church/Sacramental traditions…We pretty vainly believe that we’ve figured out a better way. We deny the necessity of episcopal overseers, yet we create “mini-popes” in our “independent”, “self-governing” (SBC, non-denominational, etc.) churches.

    I once served in a church that sold a significant property, gaining a sum of $750,000 that was to be used for a building project. The pastor and associate pastor made a mutual decision to use those funds for their salaries when the offering plate wasn’t full enough, with the backing of 4 of 5 members of the elder board (pastor’s dad, pastor’s younger brother, associate pastor’s brother-in-law, and associate pastor’s sister-in-law’s dad were in favor…pastor’s cousin wasn’t notified of the vote). Fourteen years and $500,000 dollars later, the fund was depleted to the point that the building project was impossible.

    At another evangelical church I served at, a deacon and his wife made overtly racist remarks to an African-American second grader, and told me at one point, “I don’t mind if these black kids cut my grass and wash my car…I just don’t want’em in my church. That don’t make me a racist. There’s a black church closer to where they live, anyway.” I appealed to the pastor, who refused to address the matter, because “It’s a prominent family in the church. We’re not going to cut off our head to spite our neck.” (From the Greek, this translates into “They give lots of money, so I’m not making them upset.”)

    I bet some episcopal oversight would have helped with these situations.

    Oh, I forgot…episcopal oversight is of the devil, right?

    Somehow, our mini-popes aren’t much more appealing than the big one to me…

    For the past 500 years, we’ve assumed that we are somehow smarter than all the Christians that lived and practiced their faith for the 1500 years prior. Are we really?

    Please don’t think that I hate evangelicalism…I don’t. I love the Church…It’s just that she breaks my heart sometimes. There are some legitimately good evangelical pastors and congregations out there. I enjoy great community at the church my wife and I currently attend, and in 114 years of existence, that body has never experienced a church split, or any terrible decline in attendance. It also has an overseeing bishop, and doesn’t throw around the rhetoric that implies that other denominations are hell-bound, like I’ve experience in other evangelical settings. It’s not the most exciting church in the world, nor the most boring. It’s sacramental and evangelical. It’s a part of the UMC. Now, I’m officially proudly a part of the ACNA, because I love the idea of the “via media” (only one of the reasons I love Anglicanism), there just isn’t an ACNA body local to me. I figure Wesley and Whitefield are as close as I can get for now…It’s the “middle road” between Catholicism and Protestantism for me!

    Side Note: Miss Martha, or any of our other posters, what do you think of Jewell’s “Apology” for the Church of England?

  16. Dan Crawford says

    What disturbs me most: The people who grab the end of the pews before and during Mass (if they get there late but before the Offertory and burst from the scene at Communion, they have “satisfied” their obligation for Sunday worship – they were taught early what constitutes “valid” attendance at Mass). The flow from the church begins as soon as the last communicant takes the Host and grows to a flood once the blessing is pronounced. By the time the remaining congregation has sung the first half verse of the final hymn, the church is nearly empty. I learned that the end of the pew provides a kind of ecclesiastical express lane for exiting. Other irritants include most of EWTN’s Church Triumphant programming (with the exception of Fr. Groeschel who actually acknowledges that there may be non-Catholic Christians) and the Daily Mass with its strange mixture of English and Latin. Their broadcast of all sorts of Vatican services with the over-the-top vestiture and the Sistine Choir, certainly one of the world’s worst (you would think the Vatican could afford a good English Cathedral Choir) does little to show the Papacy as the humble office of the Servant of the Servants of God. The breathless support offered by the National Catholic Reporter to their pet radicals who often turn out to be surly egotists in addition to their heresies and rather pathetic defiance. And of course, there are folks like the Catholic conservative hero, the Black Sheep Dog, the former priest John Corapi, whose arrogance led him to refuse to obey his bishop and religious superior when he was accused of sexual harassment and financial hanky-panky. Other than that, I love the Catholic Church who is filthy with her sins and compromises through the ages, who loves worldly power too much, but who nonetheless is the beloved Bride of Christ. She knows he died for her, and she welcomes all sorts of people like me, a sinner with other sinners. who see in her the wisdom of the ages and the holiness of saints too numerous to count.

    • Dan,
      How is that situation more attractive to what is offered across the street at a protestant church. Are you nurtured in your love of Jesus or your sanctification in a situation like you’re in.

      • Dan Crawford says

        Bob, yes because what matters most is God’s grace not the sins and behavior of the church. In my wanderings over the years, I met as many works-righteousness Protestants as Catholics, Protestant pastors as power and money hungry as anything offered by the Catholic Church (check your local Christian radio and TV stations), and performance art as elaborate in Protestant churches as anything the Vatican can provide (except that Protestant performances and plays are obviously more contemporary and therefore more relevant). And I know that Protestants who focus on God’s grace in Jesus Christ do overcome the many deficiencies in their own churches.

      • Bob, Because no matter how crazy some of the “body” are, how bad the music or wandering the homily, we receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord in communion, even in a spiritual communion. That’s why we stay.

        Dan, I saw a sign once: JUDAS LEFT EARLY, TOO.
        I am going to ask my pastor if we can get one of those.

  17. Purgatory, lack of assurance, the spiritual ladder climbing project.


    Was not Christ’s work on the cross and His forgiveness for us from that same cross not enough?

    For many Catholics (AND Evangelicals), the answer is NO.

    Semi-Pelagianism at it’s finest. It’s in our DNA. We just gotta have a dog in the fight. Don’t leave us out of it!

    There’s a better way. “A more excellent way”, as St. Paul said.

    Try ‘Two Wolves Tied at the Tail”

    here: http://lcmarchives.wordpress.com/


    • Steve, the Church condemned Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism long ago. They remain condemned and always will. Christ’s work on the Cross was enough.

      But God still allows us, His children, to share in His work, to evangelize, to accept or reject the free gift of grace He offers. This is all compatible with the condemnation of Pelagianism.

      • Maybe so. But they still practice it.

        A lot of God and a little bit of me.

        Although it almost always turns out to be the other way around.

        • How exactly, does the Catholic Church “still practice” Pelagianism?

          • By putting people on the ladder of works.

            By telling them that what they do or don’t do makes a difference in how they will be judged.

            By STILL offering indulgences to them.

            I love what Luther said, “If the Pope can grant people less time in Purgatory for buying indulgences, then why does he not let everyone out (of Purgatory) out of sheer Christian charity?”

            To be quite fair, Devon. Much of Evangelicalism is semi-Pelagian, as well. And they will deny it also.

          • Steve,

            What does ladder of works mean? Do you mean that Catholics believe that they can and should do works by God’s grace? I affirm. As does Paul in Ephesians. Do you mean Catholics believe they can earn the grace of justification or earn salvation? I deny, as does the Catholic Church. In any event, this is nothing new as Calvin and the Reformed branch affirm this same thing. And there is certainly a place for works done in God’s grace in Lutheran theology, after one receives free justification by grace through faith and in baptism.

            Jesus said that what we do or don’t do will make a difference in our judgment. Do I need to produce the verses?

            Indulgences make total sense given the Catholic understanding of justification, which is not just a one time event where we are forensically justified by the imputed alien righteousness of Christ, but where God infuses Christ’s righteousness into us, truly making us holy (and not just declaring it so when in reality we are not).

            God bless!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Purgatory, lack of assurance, the spiritual ladder climbing project.

      Well, Purgatory is Romish (TM), but the other two are also Proudly Born-Again Bible-Believing Evangelical (TM) as well. Just check the archives here at IMonk.

      Lack of Assurance: Ever heard of a crazy-making booklet called “The Calvary Road”? Now spend some time in a splinter “fellowship” that teaches it.

      Spiritual Ladder Climbing Project: As in “Proof of Sancification is Whatever I Do that You Don’t”? Or “You’re not really Saved unless you Speak in Tongues/Prophesy/Said the Magic Words Exactly/Parse Your Theology Exactly Like Mine”? Or “Pastor, Missionary, Praise Singer, Full-Time Christian Work” vs “The Great Unwashed”?

  18. David Cornwell says

    Another excellent explanation of the way things are. I’ll have to say that there’s a lot I like in “Dogmatic Constitution…”, especially in “15” and “16.” It seems a lot more loving and accepting attitude than I see in some Protestant denominations and local churches i.e. if I’m reading it correctly.

    But there is so much here that I would have to study a few days, or longer, before even commenting.

    • David,

      This …

      “Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel”

      seems to me to be in direct conflict with this…

      XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ.
      They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

      Now if a person is not an Anglican, they may just say “so what?” but Article xviii seems to me to a very basic Reformed thought that could be agreed upon by most

      • David Cornwell says

        ” only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.”

        When people come to God, it will be through Jesus Christ. However the way, time, and place of this can remain a mystery to us. It’s our duty to preach Christ. Salvation comes through Christ. But it may not always be in accordance with our preconceived imaginings. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth…”

  19. Martha, being I’m not totally clear when you are being sarcastic and when you are believing to present the truth of the RCC I’d like to state a few things.

    RCC DO NOT worship Mary!! She is venerated, honored, celebrated as the mother of Jesus. No where in the official teaching of the church will you find the term worship or its equivalent with reference to Mary it will only be found in reference to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All human cultures celebrate and honor persons, mothers, doctors, firemen, soldiers, presidents just to mention a few, who have done praise worthy tasks. They write books about them, have celebrations in their honor, post their pictures in prominent places even write songs about them. Sons and daughters who have had remarkable mothers want to see them acknowledged and praised and honored. Why do those of you who hate the thought of Jesus’ mother being so honored not consider that just maybe Jesus wants her to be honored. After all, if it wasn’t for Marys total surrender and yes to God’s will, her acceptance of walking and living within a mystery shrouded in unanswered questions filled with enormous sacrifices, Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem.

    Second thing, there are many many Catholics who read the bible, pray using the scriptures, and study the word of God.

    And just to add….there was a time when women, yes, a woman, was the Mother superior over a monstery that comprised both men and women (men on one side women on the other but with an open connection). There are many congregations and lay organizations founded by women and there are female saints that were not nuns or sisters.

    For all my own issues with the RCC, for all my own wounds still healing from years as a religious(sister and nun), it upsets me a bit to see it so ridiculed and have some things presented that aren’t entirely accurate just to give a comical presentation. Are their problems with the RCC, of course there are, being it is comprised of sinful human beings just as every other Christian denomination/church is.

    Many hate the RCC because of the issue with the Priests being convicted of horrible acts against children and the way those in authority handled it. Let me preface what I’m about o say with this : I know first hand what it is to be sexually abused, it was part of my childhood so no one can accuse me of defending the actions of these priests and the enormous trauma and harm they caused. However, having been part of the “inner world” so to speak of the RCC there are things I know that the media and most people don’t know.

    I had the opportunity of meeting and getting to know many of these priests before this reality ever became public. They were in a residential program trying to get help. They were not homosexuals as the RCC has currently tried to portray them all. They were terribly broken human beings who had been sexually abused as children. They entered a whole different “world culture” upon entering the training to be priests the majority of which entered prior to Vatican II or shortly thereafter. They entered with all their own wounds and psychological issues into a life and formation style that did not allow them, nor consider the need, to address these issues. The training taught them to deny anything of the sexual nature – to repress anything they might feel and experience as though God did not create them as sexual beings. This in itself can foster a very unhealthy person psychologically. Back then, many entered the religious life, priesthood, as teenagers when all the natural crazy hormone stuff was going on. Instead of helping these boys, young men, explore and understand who they are as sexual beings to see if they can, and do choose, to embrace the celibate life, they were fiercely taught to deny it, renounce it , put it to death for the glory of God and the purity of their souls ( how stupid and ignorant they were!!) To take individuals who were sexually abused and put them under this type of formation creates the bases for a great deal of distortion in the human person which over time leads to all kinds of problematic issues, sinful behavior, which leads to enormous guilt, and the need to hide their problems, due to the environment in which they live, which further tightens the grip of their problematic issues and further crushes their sense of themselves as human beings, never mind that they are priests and are suppose to live up to such high standards… None of what I am talking about above is pedophile behavior….the above eventually can lead to this type of sick distortion.

    I recall seeing these men break down and cry profusely, overcome with loathing about themselves, and the tremendous difficulty in breaking through to dealing with their own abuse and all the built up anger, sense of self-blame that is part of how children cope etc. And the, then current, anger at their bishops who instead of getting them help would just ship them off to another parish and expect them to be “healed” magically not caring about the torment that was going on inside of them. So many of these priests that people so want to condemn were victims themselves. Does this take away their responsibility for what they did, absolutely not. But the mercy of God is also for them. God knows the whole truth, God sees into the entire life of these human beings and knows what goes on in their minds and hearts. All the average person sees is the acts they did and the trauma they cause countless innocent children. At least these children later found a voice and supporters to fight for them. There was no voice or support for these men when they were children, then teenagers, then struggling mixed up young men.

    Have all the priests convicted of being pedophiles experienced what I portrayed above. I don’t know I have not met them all, I don’t know their stories. I know if they entered the priesthood at the same time their formation would be very very similar. But I do know about the men I got to know and support.

    • RCC DO NOT worship Mary!! She is venerated, honored, celebrated as the mother of Jesus. No where in the official teaching of the church will you find the term worship or its equivalent with reference to Mary it will only be found in reference to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

      this is simply a technical issue though. “Do as we say, not as we do” way of stating something that is not practiced…

      the old saying, “you will end up worshipping whatever it is you focus on” applies here. as it is in religious observance, this can be Mother Mary, the litany of saints & their merited favor, the bible, this preacher/teacher/worship leader, this prophet, this apostle, this doctrine-that counter-doctrine, etc.

      there is so much being promoted in the name of God that never mentions Jesus, grace, the gospel, forgiveness, mercy, love. other things being touted as ways to God. other things defining God. other things outlining what you can & cannot believe about God. but really, the focus is not on God at all, is it???

      i have seen pious, devout Catholics that only know Marian, well, devotion, without ever mentioning Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or God the Father. if Jesus were mentioned, it was as if He were simply the business of Mary dealing with those finer theological points. and i have experienced very devout Protestants stoutly defend their biblical understanding & doctrinal minutiae. both sides focusing on things they will loudly claim “we DO NOT worship!”

      but actions do speak louder than words. claiming to be a Christian of any stripe the most misused label today IMHO.

      The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Isa 29:13

      this is true of any dyed-in-the-wool subset of Christian based on church affiliation. and when God spoke this word, He was addressing the most jot-and-tittle conscious religious people that observed the Law of Moses to the nth degree (if possible). yet He says their worship had become based on human rules, not genuine worship of Him. this condition just as true today as it was then…

    • Paul Davis says


      As a convert to the church I would argue strongly that we do in fact have a “Mariology” problem, it’s the 800lb gorilla in the room, and honestly Protestants have a point when they object. I have no problem with the rosary, the Hail Mary, or Mary interceding for us. I do have a problem when an oil stain on an underpass is turned into an altar, or a piece of toast, or a water stain, or add any number of other items that show up as apparitions of Mary. To be fair the church does not approve of those things either, but neither do they discount them as loudly as they should.

      Then there’s places like Fatima, the church does not require us to believe in miracles like Fatima, but they sure get pushed a lot. And all it takes is a little bit of study to have some serious questions raised about the validity of the whole thing, yet I rarely find anyone Carholic even willing to discuss the possibility that there are issues with all of these places we have turned into shrines. If the church had required me to believe in those things I would have walked away, because the experiences that are reported as miraculous are so subjective that it leaves me wondering if anyone is paying attention!

      It’s obvious from the early writings of the church fathers that they held Mary in high regard, but I doubt that someone like Aquinas would take any of the reported sightings on face value alone, but yet that is what I see happening constantly. I thankfully had the blessing of two priests who allowed me to be skeptical, and understood my reservations, and told me there is room in the church for skeptics.

      I don’t think the church as a whole worships Mary, you stated the church’s position very well. But we can’t deny that it has pulled others away from focusing on Christ. Also from a protestant viewpoint we (Catholics) talk a whole lot about Mary, and because our thological position is really sublime and our language unclear, it’s a fair assessment from their viewpoint, even if incorrect.


      • Hi Paul,

        In all fairness to myself, I was not addressing any of the things that you mentioned in regards to how the devotion to Mary is lived out, expressed, diplayed etc. I was responding to the term worship. A truthful discussion on any topic can not be had between persons/groups etc if the starting point isn’t accurately understood. Are there catholics who don’t understand that Mary is no’t to be worshiped. Yes, I know that but, I bet most of them don’t even know what worship is, what it means to worship God. Is there a visible imbalance in the lives of many catholics as to what emphasis they put on Mary, yes. Yet, does that give us the right to thus judge what their relationship with Jesus is or is not. Many catholics are very private about this. Are there some weird traditions different countries have in honoring the mother of Jesus. There sure are…I witnessed some of them first hand. However, that doesn’t take away the truth that the RCC does not teach that Mary is to be worshiped. Nor does that take away the possibility that Jesus wants his mother to be held in high esteem and be honored in a special way. Oddly enough it was a book written about the life of Mary by and anglican that opened my mind and heart to the reality of just what she did and went through for us to have Jesus.

        As to the validity of the apparition of Mary to the 3 children at Fatima. That’s a whole different topic. If you are choosing to discredit it based on some things you read, that is your choice. Not knowing what you are referring to I cannot respond to that. I’m not so sure imonk is a place to have that discussion anyway.

        • Daisy,

          Fair enough and your correct, in the context your talking about I agree with what you stated. However I’m not sure given the current state of Catchesis, that we can separate the two much longer. Even in my short time as a Catholic I’ve run into individuals who for lack of a better term, are obsessed with anything related to Mary.

          I can’t speak to their relationship to Christ, that much is true. But I can speak to the unbalanced nature of their obsession, and I can and will refuse to submit to any teachings they offer on the matter. It’s no small thing to be in any official capacity and to offer something that the Church does not teach, maybe my view is tainted because of experiences like seeing an entire shrine built around a light bulb that reflects an image that kinda looks like Mary. Or spending an entire RCIA class getting the most lop-sided message on Mariology I’ve ever seen, to the point of being told if we go on vacation we should go to Fatima!!

          Is that everyone, nope, it’s a small percentage. But you know it’s like having Pat Robertson represent your church, sure he’s a believer, but boy does he make you look bad 🙂

          Fatima, and Lourdes and the others are a different topic for a different day. One thing I would like to point out is that sometimes the skeptics and critics are right, and we do a disservice to the Church by at least not listening to what they have to say. When I was a fundie the last person I would listen too is an evil atheist, but I’ve changed and in the process learned that sometimes they see what we who are on the inside cannot.



          • Thank you Paul for your response. Just to let you know. I’m not an “insider” in the RCC at this point and haven’t been for many years, meaning I’m not part of any parish nor am I presently a member in any other church. Health issues are a big part of it but there is a lot of healing from extreme negative experiences that needs to be done before I attempt to be part of any church structure. This does not, however, negate what I know about the RCC nor does it negate the relationship I have with Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit that was nurtured and developed within the RCC environment. It seems my presence here is not entirely welcome.

          • Daisy,

            Your presence is welcome, but some will come to challenge. There’s ideal and then there’s people being human. I am a Catholic who follows the magesterium and I will agree with Paul that some catholics have an unbalanced view of Mary – that they believe the only way to Jesus is through Mary – period. I run a CCD program and I have to watch out for those who want to teach kids nothing but the miracles of Fatima, medgegorie etc. to the exclusion of foundational doctrine. Some time on private revelation is OK, but base your whole faith on it – hmmm.

            Give the site some time, hang back and read – it can be an education on what other faith traditions are doing – often presented in a very constructive and non-threatening way.



          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I run a CCD program and I have to watch out for those who want to teach kids nothing but the miracles of Fatima, medgegorie etc. to the exclusion of foundational doctrine.

            That’s the Romish version of Bible Studies that only teach Hal Lindsay/Here Comes The Antichrist or Ken Ham/Answers in Genesis “to the exclusion of foundational doctrine” — like this guy called Christ.

            When Catholics flake out, it’s usually some form of “Mary Channeling”.

            When Evangelicals flake out, it’s usually some form of Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist.

            When Eastern Orthodox flake out, it’s usually some form of wannabe monastic asceticism.

      • Paul,

        I appreciate your post, and it will inform my future discussions of the issues surrounding Mary. As an insider, you have perspectives that I could never have. I hope that both Catholics and Protestants were listening.

        • Chill,

          I’m not an insider, I’m a convert still learning. Sometimes I get things wrong, so ‘beware’ 🙂

          The important part is that Daisy is correct, we do not worship Mary. But we do have people who get it wrong, just like Fundies, Baptist and all kinds of other faiths have their little internal issues. Trust me, I’ve seen as many Catholic groaners, as I have Protestant ones. The other point is that we use different languages, the word worship when used in the context of Mary, has a different connotation than what Protestants believe it does. That was hard to overcome, and took lots and lots of reading 🙂


    • Daisey, I have yet to see any doctor, fireman, soldier, or president proclaimed to be Queen of Heaven (which phrase comes from the book of Jeremiah and was not looked upon kindly) and immaculately conceived (replacing the Virgin Birth?) and assumed bodily into heaven after death (replacing the Ascension?) or called the co-mediatrix of all grace (There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus).

      But once it’s done, it’s okay because it becomes part of Sacred Tradition, which is every bit as authoritative as Scripture, surpassing it in many instances….

      I’m not drinking the kool-aid, sorry.

      • Bob,

        No fireman, soldier, doctor, or president was the mother of God, either.

        • Devin, I was responding to what Daisey said @ 11:19 on 10/28: “All human cultures celebrate and honor persons, mothers, doctors, firemen, soldiers, presidents just to mention a few, who have done praise worthy tasks. They write books about them, have celebrations in their honor, post their pictures in prominent places even write songs about them. Sons and daughters who have had remarkable mothers want to see them acknowledged and praised and honored. Why do those of you who hate the thought of Jesus’ mother being so honored not consider that just maybe Jesus wants her to be honored.”

          Jesus never said, “And my mother, if she be lifted up, will draw all men to me.”

          I have nothing against Mary, it’s just that the em-PHA-sis seems to be on the wrong syl-LA-ble.

      • Good thing for the CC, the JPII did not push the co-mediatrix (and somehow that term blurs with dominatrix to me) into the official theology. Because (per yesterday’s discussion) truths cannot contradict, you’d essentially have to start at the beginning of Christian theology and do theological proofs to ensure no other truth was denied by having now 2 redeemers.

        I’ve always thought that the immaculate conception made the incarnation a little cheaper. Now, yes, the Divine is born of a human (in Catholic theology), but it’s a very special human different from all other humans. It also raises important questions about could she have said no, in other words, did she really have a free choice, or were there other woman born in the same era also conceived without original sin just in case. I know the argument is that she was saved by her choice retroactively and that time has no meaning to the Divine, but I still was never convinced.

      • It is interesting how people put “words in peoples mouths” so to speak that were not said nor the ideas of mentioned or thought. I never referred to the specific titles the RCC gives to Mary – I was not presenting a theological presentation on what the RCC teaches about Mary – I was simply responding to the term worship.
        I was also putting out a basic human experiential reality of how human beings honor, praise and celebrate other human beings so why can’t Jesus want the same for His mother?? Why so defensive at this thought??
        Now you chose to compare the titles the RCC has fr Mary to doctors, fireman, soldiers…..Well, did any of those, for however great their actions may have been, believe that what they saw was an Angel of God asking them to become the Mother of God-incarnate? Did any o them give a total and ongoing total yes to the whole mystery of this child growing in her womb, and the all the mystery around the birth, the dreams etc etc.
        Did any of them do something that enabled the saving of your own soul? They may have saved you from a fire, or a disease, or a terrorist…..but none of them did anything that enables the saving of your soul. What did she do…..she allowed herself to be the vessel for the new adam, the new tabernacle for the incarnate presence of God in Jesus…she took care of herself and the child growing in her womb for the entire human race. She embraced the mysterious task of raising a child she knew was miraculously conceived and that she was told was the son of God. New mothers are usually nervous about taking care of their first child. Imagine you have to take care of this child shrouded with mystery and know you were told he was God’s child. I doubt nervous is a strong enough term for what she felt within about the responsibility she had before her. Of course, if you believe that we are all puppets and don’t have free will to choose then none of this would hold water. Then again, if we didn’t have free will we wouldn’t be responsible of our sinful behavior.

        Just one comment about one of the Marion titles you brought up, Mary as Queen of Heaven. Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam,[1] issued by Pope Pius XII. It states that Mary is Queen of heaven because her son Jesus is King of Israel and heavenly king. In Hebrew tradition the mother of the king is queen.

      • Bob-

        I can certainly understand that you are not drinking the Kool-Aid*. That is all well fine and dandy. However if you are going to attempt to refute or put out a rebuttal of such heavy claims, you should be a bit clearer. Instead, you seem to be operating under the presumption that the whole point of any of these claims existence is simply to dislodge Jesus from His throne, and to have us all be Mother Goddess worshipers. I would humbly suggest you read up (or refresh) your memory on these subjects that you object to, so as to present a better rebuttal of them; you have your conclusions laid out, but no supporting data.

        *= What does Catholic kool-aid taste like? 😉

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          *= What does Catholic kool-aid taste like?


          We’re not “dry” by any means.

    • Then how come they call it a “Hail Mary” pass, and not a “Hail Jesus” pass? It’s because they impiously ascribe to Mary power over football, which as we all know is God’s special domain.

      • They actually call it a “Hail, Mary” pass because of this:

        “And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, * the Lord is with you!” * 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30* And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God”
        That’s Luke 1:28-30

    • Paul Davis says


      About your comment of not being welcome here, I can’t speak in an official capacity, but everyone is welcome here. I love this community because any topic around faith is fair game, especially those of us who have left the various faiths for a large number of reasons. I have learned more here than any other place, even if I don’t always agree with what is being said, I know that I can share in the conversation without fear of reprisal. And better yet we have people from all the different faiths here, including those who at apostolic, we got em all 🙂

      It gets a little heated sometimes, but that’s people for you. So please don’t feel unwelcome by one conversation, stick around and I’m sure you will find something you like sooner or later, and a few good laughs along the way.


  20. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Something to keep in mind:


    • I’ve always felt that the canon should be reopened by one of the non-Catholic branches of Christianity. After all a lot of books didn’t make the cut (I’ve read some of them, quite interesting) and why have dead people make binding decisions like that?

      • Cermak_rd:

        What good would reopening the issue of the Canon of Scripture do, except to cause more controversy and scandal?

        One would presume that the books that did not make the cut are that way because they contained teaching contrary to the Faith (of course, this is operating under the idea that there is a standard of orthodoxy). Even if it were to be reopened now, what good would it do? Most churches and groups have a defined theology; given this, it is likely that the books would still be rejected (as many Christians have major theological agreements with Catholicism, thus said doctrine would theoretically cause aforementioned Christian groups to reject the books based on doctrinal standards).

        Of course, I’m not sure what you mean by “non-Catholic branches of Christianity”? Are you referring to, say, the Gnostics?

        • Jack Heron says

          Non-canonical books are worth a read, generally. Not all of them were rejected because of the content – some were missing even back then (and have since been found), some were of dubious origin and some were passed over in favour of other books covering the same topics. That said, it’s best to read them while keeping in mind the reasons they were rejected, because most often they were good reasons.

        • No, the Gnostics have, I believe, their own Canon.

          I guess I would say non-Catholic there would include anyone not subject to the council that defined the Christian Canon. Those subject to the council don’t really have an option.

          But those not subject should, to maintain integrity and independence from that council, should, in my opinion, have a council of experts read all the works that could have been considered at the time and pick out books that match their theology and leave books that don’t. I know the main-line Protestants must’ve done something like that to have chosen to eliminate the Deutero-Canonical books. Then once the experts have come up with their selection, have the whole denomination vote on it. And continue to do that every generation.

          I just think this would better mesh with the denominational polity that behaves in a democratic fashion. Why does the denomination have the right to add or delete items from their statement of belief but not from their Scriptures?

          • cermak, the phone just rang, and the Jesus Seminar is on the line, with Bart Ehrman on hold. They vote on such things using different colored beads.

          • You want to know how to get rich? Organize a “Jesus Seminar II,” then invite outsiders to vote by credit card.

          • And with that observation, imonk embarks on a new business venture…. 🙂

      • Cermak, that’s unlikely, especially from evangelicals and fundamentalists. The commitment to “sola scriptura” is too strong, and “scriptura” won’t be altered by anyone believing in Revelation 22:18.

        “18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

        Now, when John wrote that he probably meant Revelation as “this book” but it’s been interpreted more broadly since then.

        As for other books, maybe some of them deserve a little more attention, like the early church fathers, and the OT Apocrypha, which the Catholics already include; but most of the New Testament apocryphal books read like they came from News of the World—and that’s now defunct, I hear.

        • Glenn A Bolas says

          Well, much of the Gnostic stuff sounds like News of the World. But then you’ve also got things like Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians, the letters of St Ignatius of Antioch and the Didache which are a whole other story.

          I tend to agree with you, Ted, though I think applying Rev 22:18-19 to the whole Bible is a bit of a stretch (especially given by how narrow a margin Revelation made it into the canon in the first place). Precluding the discovery of Paul’s missing letter to the Corinthians, evangelicals are not going to revise the Canon of Scripture anytime soon. Mind you, if they ever did, I would be first in line to buy tickets to watch the resulting cacophany.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Well, much of the Gnostic stuff sounds like News of the World. But then you’ve also got things like Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians

            By “News of the World”, did you mean “News of the Weird” or “Weekly World News”?

            If the latter, it suggests that “the Gnostic stuff” was its era’s version of “Space Alien Has Elvis’s Baby.”

            Heed the words of Weird Al Yankovic — and see what shall be “The Scriptures the Church Suppressed — Why?” in another couple centuries.

          • Precluding the discovery of Paul’s missing letter to the Corinthians, evangelicals are not going to revise the Canon of Scripture anytime soon. Mind you, if they ever did, I would be first in line to buy tickets to watch the resulting

            The present Canon is already sufficient to give us more than enough fodder and ammunition to argue about and fight and split churches over. We don’t need anymore books. 🙂

          • Glenn, the letters of Clement and Ignatius, and the Didache, are among those that I said deserve more attention. They’re among the early church fathers (or “Early Christian Fathers” as in the title of a book I have). Good stuff. The gnostic “gospels” are tabloid trash.

            The Revelation 22 verse is used by many Christians as authority for a closed canon, but I don’t agree based on that alone, as I think John intended it to mean Revelation only. But I am in fact for a closed canon on other grounds, even if Paul’s other Corinthian letter were to appear (although I’d be all over that like ants on jam, as Michael Spencer would say, and it might be an exercise in discipline not to hold it up there with the others).

          • HUG, I meant News of the World, the British tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch that got caught in the hacking scandal. But Weekly World News, or News of the Weird, could work just as well.

            How come the Weird Al video kept flashing the logo of USAToday whenever he’d sing the chorus about the “Midnight Star”? 😉 “I wanna know, I wanna know…”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            How come the Weird Al video kept flashing the logo of USAToday whenever he’d sing the chorus about the “Midnight Star”? “I wanna know, I wanna know…”

            I think the guy that did the video explained that somewhere in the comment thread. It was the only well-known newspaper logo he could find on short notice.

            And according to Weird Al Aficionados, the lyrics to “Midnight Star” were all taken from real tabloid headlines. I can independently confirm the verse

            “And Top Psychics All Agree
            That the Telephone Company
            Will begin a New Service that will let you Talk to the Dead!”

            because I heard the real thing — a book titled “Phone Calls from the Dead” that I heard plugged on some late-night talk show (Art Bell?) while driving home from a D&D game in the real wee hours of the morning, circa 1978-79.

    • Are you quite sure no Mme Blavatskys made it in?

    • You might want to amend that statement to include the Eastern Orthodox Church, since both the RCC and EOC are the similar-but-not-quite-twin children of the Imperial Church, which actually canonized Christian scripture. As far as the Nestorian Church in Persia at that time, I’m not really sure if they were in on the process. I’ll have to research that. And let’s not forget Constantine and the other Christian emperors, who applied some considerable political pressure in their efforts to bring about a single unified church with a single canon of scripture.
      All of today’s Christians, Protestants and Catholics and otherwise, owe a considerable debt to the primitive, early, and imperial churches. Heck, when it comes our scriptural, historical, and religious legacy, the church owes a big debt to the ancient Jews.

  21. David Cornwell says

    Martha of Ireland: Now I’m lost in the maze, dizzy, and can’t find my way out! Maybe I should now start at the bottom and read my way up.

    • You Catholics with your boozing! Just lie there until morning, then go to confession if you can remember what you did.

  22. Another thing that cracks me up about the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican and Orthodox, as well, is that the clergy and lay people in those churches actually believe that the priests have something special that God has given them by virtue of another one of the ‘special group’ touching them with their figertips which are super-charged with the ‘holy blue gas’ …or whatever it is.

    The truth of the matter is that those clergy do not glow in the dark and have NO power that EVERY Christian does not already have.

    The power comes from the Word itself. And all of us have access to that.

    Oops…there I go again…pushing the Word (Christ) alone.

    • Yeah–all you really need is that holy blue gas. Which you get from like, praying or something.

    • I think all 3 groups would agree that priests have a special sacramental role to perform. They are not otherwise unlike everybody else.

      Also, to be fair “the Word” does support the mystique surrounding a lot of authoritarian pastors and celebrity preachers. Low church Protestants have their own version of this.

      • sorry about the double-negative.

      • Exactly. Christ +.

        In Lutheranism anyone in the congregation can preside over the Lord’s Supper. It is still valid. Because of the Word of Christ being attached to it. NOT the special fingertips of the priest.

        • There is no such thing as “Lutheranism.” Lutherans, like Baptists, have split over the centuries into hundreds of different groups, sometimes along purely ethnic lines, but each with its own version of the brand. In America, the Wisconsin synod doesn’t speak to the Missouri, and both have no trouble denouncing the ELCA for allegedly having abandoned the faith. Tell a pastor in the Wisconsin synod that just anyone can preside over the Lord’s Supper. Further, there are things Luther himself believed and taught (e.g., about Mary, the canon, the liturgy, etc. ) that synods today reject out of hand. Some accept the entire Book of Concord, others just portions of the small catechism. There are even Lutheran churches that have no liturgy. Some ordain women, others not. It’s as much as mishmash as any other religious brand.

        • I speak of the Christ ALONE Lutheranism which I know.

          I know there are Christ + Lutherans, too.

          The Fordeian Lutherans which I am a part of DO NOT add anything to Christ. No inerrant Bibles. No “3rd use” of the Law. No “proper” undestanding of the Sacrament (necessary to receive it). No proper gender to be a pastor.

          Christ and His forgiveness for the ungodly. Period.

          For me, that IS Lutheranism.

    • Margaret Catherine says

      Hmm, too bad nobody ever told Paul or James how silly all that ‘laying on of hands’ stuff was. The poor guys actually seemed to think there was a purpose to it.

      • That laying on of hands stuff (power) comes from the power of the WORD…not from the power of other sinful men.

        And it is for ALL of us.

        • Margaret Catherine says

          Steve, yes. As you said yourself, “something special that God has given them.” Whether it is for everyone or not, it does come from Christ and none other, through the laying on of hands. Our action, God’s work.

          • It’s something speacial that God has given us.

            Not particular people who have been touched by particular people as the Catholic Church believes.

            The power is in the Word of God and we all have access to that, contrary to what a great many believe.

            That’s just the truth of it.

          • Margaret Catherine says

            Query, Steve – can a person baptize himself?

        • I always thought it came from the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

  23. So sad, the way Catholics are prevented from receiving the sacraments because they happened to fall in love and marry Protestants who were previously divorced! Yes, that’s me. My spouse and I have been married 28 years. We’re senior citizens now and our children are in their forties and fifties and have children and grandchildren of their own. But because my spouse was previously married (over 30 years ago) to a Protestant, and in a Protestant ceremony, the Catholic Church requires that my spouse apply for an annulment for that marriage which ended over 30 years ago, in order for me, a Catholic, to receive any sacraments. My spouse refuses to apply for that annulment and so we have both stopped attending any church at all. My spouse won’t jump through the hoops and so we stay at home on Sundays. And I am losing my faith, slowly but surely. Again, so sad.

    • The Sacraments do not belong to the Catholic Church alone.

      Go receive the body and blood at your local Lutheran Church.

      Find one that doesn’t make one jump through hoops. Where we worship it is for ALL baptized Christians who believe that Christ is truly present in it.

      No litmus tests. If you need it…then it is for you.

    • I am sorry to read this. I understand the rationale, but I think the pastoral implications of these kinds of rules are unacceptable.

      I am sure this has occurred to you. But in case it has not: Have you considered finding an Episcopal/Anglican Church? These would be close to your tradition. And I know that for a Catholic going to one is not the same thing, but I would think it would be much better for you to take the sacraments there & have a church to attend, than to not attend at all.

      I understand that there are Old Catholic churches too — but I do not know a lot about them. Their rules might be different…

    • You may want to look into this – because you were not married in a catholic church (a sacramental marriage in the eyes of the church) the church may not recognize your marriage in the first place – hence the activities to get you clear take weeks – months instead of years. Please see a priest on this….

  24. to Radagast and Paul Davis,

    Thank you for your kind comments. I don’t mind people believing different things and stating that as log as we can continue the conversation and be allowed to present what, for ourselves, is the truth, and be allowed to share historical facts from from actual documents of the early church to back up what we believe. It is this latter that is mostly behind my sense of being unwelcome. I had posted yesterday an article talking about the catacombs in Italy going back to the very first Christians who had to worship in secret. They built altars in the catacombs and painted frescos to decorate the area including frescos of the mother of Jesus, with Jesus and by herself. I saw these many catacombs so I know the truth of the article. It further had actual words, written/spoken, from the very early church fathers talking about devotion to Mary, talking about asking Mary to intercede for us in our prayers, and also a prayer to Mary written during that period written by one of the church fathers. It also mentioned churches that had already been built in her honor. All this was way way prior to the existence of what is know today as the RCC. That post of mine went into moderation as though I’m not contributing protestant enough I guess, or I’m rufling too many feathers and was then deleted. Maybe this will be deleted too.

    You know, satan hates Mary for what she did. Not surprising he would cause such division in the world wide church over her. When I first entered the religious life I didn’t have any devotion to Mary. I asked Jesus many times if he wanted me to know her and to love and honor her that he would have to show me. He did.

    • I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions, I’ve had a good number of posts vanish as well. I’ve never known Chaplain Mike or anyone to squelch a conversation, unless it was filled with hate, so I think it’s a bug in the site. I wondered if it was my iPad at one point, because it only seemed to happen there.

      I would love to see the catacombs, when I was going through RCIA and they confirmed that the church does in fact have the relic of a saint tucked away in the altar, I was pretty ‘Freaked Out’ for a lack of a better term. It wasn’t until later in my studies that I found the history of why we do this, that it made sense and I was able to come to peace with it. Also the writings of the church fathers are filled with examples of their devotion to Mary.

      Trust me, there are much bigger Feather Rufflers on here 🙂

      CM or AP, been meaning to report this, but sometimes a post will just….*POOF*, vanish like a pot of coffee at a Mormon Convention (humor again for those who are impaired). So we might want to let the Webmaster know, in fact one post disappeared, so I backed up, tried again and got a warning about a duplicate post.

      I think the site might be haunted, it is that time of year 😉


    • I am not sure, but I think that posts containing links sometimes do not show up. It might be the website filtering?

    • Daisey,

      Late to the game – I believe certain words or length of the post will put it in moderation (had a few of mine in recently). Probably more moderation since Chaplain Mike is away and Jeff is a bit under the weather. It is nothing personal.


  25. All this makes me thankful for the ascendency of secular governments in the western world. If secular powers hadn’t of stepped in and trimmed our claws and put us both on leashes, Catholics and Protestants would probably still be trying to exterminate one another.
    Keep your popes or patriarchs or conventions or councils or whatever. Just stay monogamous with Jesus. That polygamous arrangement between Christ, church, and worldly governments got a little ugly and convoluted there at the tail end of the middle ages.

  26. I don’t really mind the “Roman” Catholic Church, except that they won’t give me communion because I’m a Lutheran. Um… Excuse me, do you think Jesus died for you more than for me? I have a right to receive communion. Jerks. Also, they’re too dogmatic, but that’s better than the awful Anglican church in my hometown which has no notion of theology whatsoever.

    Mostly though, I think the vast majority of churches, Catholic or otherwise, suffer greatly from not being Lutheran.

  27. Margaret Catherine says

    Hearkening back to the original post – one thing I do love about the Catholic Church is our hodgepodge of Saints. Everyone from kings (St. Louis) to foul-smelling street beggars (St. Benedict Labre) to abused maidservants (St. Zita). It’s why power-oriented feminism doesn’t stand a chance…power simply isn’t the goal and isn’t what gets you remembered.

  28. Margaret Catherine,

    One thing (another one) that I hate is the Catholic Church refuses to tell you that in Christ…YOU are a saint.

    All those in Christ are His saints.

    We are fully sinners…and fully saints. And it is not by anthing great thing or things that we do…but solely by the declaration of Christ Jesus and for His sake…ALONE.

    It’s like two completely different religions.

    • Margaret Catherine says

      Original reply got stuck in moderation; if it never surfaces, suffice to say that Catholicism has a very specific understanding of the term ‘Saint’ (capital ‘S’), not to be confused with any more general use of the term. No Christian here on earth is a Saint, for the simple reason that they are still here on earth.

      We may or may not have two different religions…we certainly do have two different religious languages.

    • Margaret Catherine says

      And thank heaven (literally!) that the Church doesn’t say that! There’s still a race ahead, no need of thinking the finish line, the dividing line between saint and Saint, is any closer than it is.

  29. Margaret Catherine says

    And again, indeed. We are saints so far as we are in Christ; we are sinners so far as we are not. But no Christian here on earth is fully one or fully the other. And no Christian here on earth is a Saint (capital S), by simple definition. You use a very general application of the word; don’t confuse that with the far more specific Catholic use of it.

    • That’s the difference, alright.

      We believe that we are fully sinful and fully saints…at the same time.

      Scripture tells us this. The book of Romans, especially.

      Putting people on the ladder to greater and higher degrees of saintlyness or righteous IS the game today. In BOTH Catholicism and Evangelicalism.

      Christ says His yoke is easy, and that we ought rest in Him (what He has done).

      Besides, as the Bible tells us, “All our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.”

      One religion put the onus on the sinner…and one puts the onus on Christ, and Him alone.

      I would much rather achieve clarity than agreement. I think things are becoming that much more clear. At least for me.

      Thanks! G’nite 😀

      • Margaret Catherine says

        A good stopping point, before we drift into that most deadly boring of topics, faith vs. works…and I do mean that. (You can also hate Catholicism for producing a generation who just don’t care about the old theological arguments…we have new ones of our own. ;))

  30. I feel I have to give the Catholic credit for being one of the few branches of Christianity to actually care about marriage beyond “help teh GAYZ!” that seems to permeate Evangelical culture. Taking serious the injunctions that both Jesus and Paul made about divorce strikes me as following the Bible more closely than the married times fundamentalists proclaiming how they follow every line in the Bible.

  31. Now I get to read this? Now? Days after the fun is over? Curse my stupid misbehaving laptop.

    People, this was awesome, both the post itself ( I love you Martha, where were you in my childhood where as a cradle Catholic I didn’t understand a thing) & the comments.

    The Vestments are awesome, & I plead with you Martha to do a post on Catholic kitsch. Please attempt to defend this as a great & godly thing 🙂