I am born-again, on-fire-for-the-Lord, radically-saved, devout, faithful, orthodox, cafeteria Catholic (but not of the liberal variety) — a true Christian.
I look to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles to show the way regarding true Christian faith and morals. These are found in the New Testament and the writings of the Early Church Fathers.
Contents . . .
Moral Theology |
Natural Law |
Catholic Controversies |
Apostolic Succession |
Bad Bishops |
Qualifications of Leaders |
The Church |
Clergy vs. Laity |
Teaching Magisterium |
Faith "Passed-down?" |
Women Priests |
Sitting-out communion |
Yearly communion |
Moral Theology . . .
- The Catholic argument against contraception is based on natural law.But as I demonstrate in my comments on the Papal Encyclical Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII, arguments from natural law prove nothing and Papal Encyclicals are certainly not infallible. Therefore, the Catholic prohibition against contraception is not infallibly true.
- In Evangelium Vitae by Pope John Paul II (section 13), the Catholic Church declares that contraception is morally unlawful because it "contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love," and that it has bad effects on society.
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2399) declares that contraception for the purpose of regulating births is "morally unacceptable". But what about for other reasons, such as, to avoid being pregnant so often as a matter of health?
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2366, footnote 152) quotes Humanae Vitae section 11 incorrectly: there, couples are merely "urged" to follow the natural law and etc. — but the verbiage is very unclear about exactly what is being asked of Catholics. Section 14 of Humanae Vitae refers to "regulating the number of children" and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2370) refers to this passage without mentioning that fact. I suppose that if a woman's goal was not "regulating the number of children" but was, rather, to avoid being pregnant so often, then the prohibition against contraception would not strictly apply.
- Natural Family Planning as a solution to preventing pregnancy simply doesn't work for everyone. The Catholic Church is being very irresponsible (and immoral?) in neglecting to mention this and in not providing an alternative for these cases. Catholics must reject Catholic claims when they are wrong (for example: Catholics must reject their bishops' shuffling-around of pervert priests from parish to parish — if Catholics had merely obediently ignored the issue it would still be happening. Catholics must be radical activists when needed.)
- Due to the obvious overpopulation of the world (already using more than 100% of what the earth can sustainably support), population growth must soon be drastically reduced to avoid large-scale famine (or worse). Again, the Catholic Church has simply ignored these facts and the tragic and disastrous inevitable results.
- The Catholic Church should be strongly recommending that the world's population be reduced — they are remiss (as is all-too-common) in their moral responsibility to lead the world.
- It is reasonable for certain couples to wish to stop having children, either temporarily or permanently.
- The Catholic Church should be strongly recommending that couples who can't support additional children (for financial, physical, emotional, or psychological reasons) should stop having them.
- What are good, faithful Catholics to do when they need to regulate their spacing of children or stop having them altogether? Sadly, the Catholic Church's response is unsatisfactory. Priests sometimes counsel such couples to practice contraception (do these priests even know what they are doing and saying? Do their bishops know and allow this?)
- Perhaps the practical matter of regulating births outweighs the moral consideration of the ideal of conjugal love? (but Section 14 of Humanae Vitae forbids this.) Perhaps this use of contraception does not contribute to the bad effects on society (abortion,promiscuity, hedonism). The Catholic Church has not stated this; perhaps it will someday, perhaps not.
- As a result of all this, I have no answer to Catholics who ask how they can regulate the birth of their children. The Catholic Church has neglected to provide an answer (as usual). Perhaps in cases like these, we are justified to provide our own answer?
In analyzing the Catholic statements on this I see three loopholes (I suppose it is proper to look for "loopholes" because (1) the Catholic Church defines everything in terms of technical legalities, and (2) she herself uses loopholes such as these in "fine-tuning" earlier doctrinal statements):
- The phrase "morally unlawful" — The distinction between the general principle and specific instances — two examples: (1) Murder is bad, but killing is permissible (and even the right thing to do) in cases of war, self-defense, and capital punishment; and (2) Skipping mass is a mortal sin, but is permissible when it is difficult, or even on vacations. Perhaps contraception is permissible in specific cases of hardship such as avoiding being pregnant so often for health reasons, avoiding starvation or poverty, and avoiding overpopulation.
- Natural law— Since God designed the woman's procreative apparatus to allow for conjugal relations that don't result in pregnancy with every sex act, perhaps this means that couples are not required to become pregnant with every sex act. As long as a couple intends to raise some children (even if adopted), perhaps that is all that is required for the marriage to be one of mutual love (although sections 11 and 14 of Humanae Vitae seem to rule this out).
- If the motive for using contraception is not "regulating the number of children" but is, rather, to avoid being pregnant so often as a matter of health, these church documents technically don't address this situation.
It seems the Catholic Church can be very slow to react to new situations. For example, in the Galileocase, they didn't recognize for far-too-long-a-time that Copernicanism was not anti-Biblical. By then, Galileo was long dead after having been shown instruments of torture and placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life.
Certainly contraception is used by those wishing to live a hedonistic, promiscuous lifestyle. But should contraception used by committed couples who are responsibly raising children be treated differently? Each Catholic must decide this question.
The Catholic Church does not always have the well-being of Catholics in mind (although they think they do). A good example is the recent priestly scandal. In 2002 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Catholic demonstrators and protesters expressed their outrage and insisted that Cardinal Law resign. Catholics must carefully consider whether to follow their conscience when it collides with obedience to the Catholic Church.
There are no good methods of contraception. Abortifacients must be rejected because they result in abortions (the pill, IUD's, the morning-after pill). Other methods are a nuisance.
- Certainly Jesus teaches that divorce is sinful, as does the Catholic Church; that it is a "grave offense against the natural law."
- There are two exceptions given in the New Testament in which divorce is OK: (1) for "the cause of fornication" (Matthew 5:32) and, (2) if you become a believer and your spouse wants to divorce you (1 Corinthians 7:15).
- Because of the two exceptions mentioned above, and the Catholic notion of annulments (see next section), it seems that the Catholic prohibitions against divorce are highly-idealistic with no mention of practical matters or particular situations (as is typical with Catholic teaching — they just don't seem to care about us real-life Catholics).
- I believe marriage was intended by God to be permanent but that in cases of abuse or exploitation, divorce may be justified. I think that in some ways, the Catholic Church is too soft on divorce in that it grants annulments so easily (in some situations, but not all.)
- There are some weird side-effects to the Catholic view of divorce which makes me suspect they have overstated their case. An Orthodox Christian who has been divorced and remarried and who then converts to Catholicism is allowed to partake of the Eucharist whereas a Catholic who has been divorced and remarried is not allowed. If you need a divorce followed by a remarriage, it is better to convert to the Orthodox Church, then get divorced and remarried, then reconvert back to the Catholic Church. Weird and contradictory situations like this always makes me think that the Catholic teaching is overstated, highly idealized, or incomplete (by not addressing exceptions and real-world situations).
- The main issue with Catholic annulments concerns whether a divorced and remarried person can partake of the Eucharist.
- I am saddened to see people in mass who can't take communion because they are divorced and remarried.
- Neither the Bible nor the early church fathers clearly teach the idea of annulment (although they lay the groundwork for it).
- It seems to me that if both parties of a divorce are remarried there is no longer any adultery (Mark 10:11,12) occurring, otherwise this would imply that their current marriages are invalid. (I don't think it is the right thing to do for both parties to divorce their new spouses so they can remarry each other to put it all right again.)
- It seems to me that if a divorce is not mutual, the person who wanted to remain married is not committing adultery if they remarry (assuming he or she didn't provoke the divorce in other ways such as physical or verbal abuse).
- It seems to me there can only be adultery in these cases if the other partner remains unmarried and still considers himself or herself married.
- I wonder if those who administer annulments can truly be trusted to come to the proper conclusion?
- I am sympathetic to the idea that people may have gone through a marriage ceremony without really making the proper marriage commitment to one another.
- The Catholic Church seems much too controlling of people's lives in the area of marriage and of who can and can't receive the Eucharist. For example, why did the pope need to approve Henry VIII's marriage?
- Why doesn't the Catholic Church just let people decide for themselves whether or not they are committing adultery by being remarried? after all, the church allows people to decide for themselves whether or not they are worthy to receive the Eucharist for every other situation?
- The Catholic Church teaches that masturbation is an "intrinsically and gravely disordered action." (link, link). They define it with the purpose "in order to derive sexual pleasure." Therefore, if it is done for some other purpose, it is not even masturbation at all.
- Certainly in the context of pornography or visual images, masturbation is sinful as the Catholic Church states.
- There is one situation in which it may be OK, even desirable (in which it "falls through the cracks" of Catholic teaching): if plagued by annoying physical and bodily sexual urges which are distracting, it seems OK to relieve the tension as long as it is done without suggestive mental images.
- I am troubled by the Catholic Church's use of natural law.It is so subjective; you can almost declare anything to be moral or immoral by natural law.
- Natural Law by definition can be known by our reason. But what if each of us comes to a different conclusion when observing the world around us and applying our reason to it? The Catholic Church would have us accept their conclusions on these matters but, sadly, their assessments leave much to be desired.
- When the Catholic Church declares something to be forbidden or required because of natural law, my first instinct is to distrust their claims.
- An example is the Papal Encyclical Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII. He uses arguments from natural law to "prove" that humans have the right to own property and that Socialism is bad. His arguments are weak and unconvincing.
- In good conscience, I must reject the evil which has occurred in church history by church leaders — bishops, priests, and popes.
- Sadly, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church cannot be trusted to clearly delineate the truth, nor to provide guidance for the various practical life situations which the laity must address.
From Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II
Second Vatican Council observed: "In the depths of his conscience man detects a law which he does not impose on himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience can when necessary speak to his heart more specifically: 'do this, shun that'. For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged (cf. Romans 2:14-16)"
Saint Bonaventure teaches that "conscience is like God's herald and messenger; it does not command things on its own authority, but commands them as coming from God's authority, like a herald when he proclaims the edict of the king. This is why conscience has binding force."
But whereas the natural law discloses the objective and universal demands of the moral good, conscience is the application of the law to a particular case; this application of the law thus becomes an inner dictate for the individual, a summons to do what is good in this particular situation. Conscience thus formulates moral obligation in the light of the natural law: it is the obligation to do what the individual, through the workings of his conscience, knows to be a good he is called to do here and now.
The judgment of conscience also has an imperative character: man must act in accordance with it.
Conscience expresses itself in acts of "judgment" which reflect the truth about the good.
It is the "heart" converted to the Lord and to the love of what is good which is really the source of true judgments of conscience.
Christians have a great help for the formation of conscience in the Church and her Magisterium. As the Council affirms: "In forming their consciences the Christian faithful must give careful attention to the sacred and certain teaching of the Church.
The Church's Magisterium also teaches the faithful specific particular precepts and requires that they consider them in conscience as morally binding. In addition, the Magisterium carries out an important work of vigilance, warning the faithful of the presence of possible errors, even merely implicit ones, when their consciences fail to acknowledge the correctness and the truth of the moral norms which the Magisterium teaches.
When people ask the Church the questions raised by their consciences, when the faithful in the Church turn to their Bishops and Pastors, the Church's reply contains the voice of Jesus Christ, the voice of the truth about good and evil.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters." (1782)
Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act. (1796)
A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. (1800)
The Word of God is a light for our path. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed. (1802)
- The Catholic Church teaches against drunkenness as it should.
- However, Catholics and priests are soft on the use and abuse of alcohol. I had a priest tell me that the Church has no teaching whatsoever on the use of alcohol. Rumor has it that all-too-many priests are alcoholics.
- The Catholic Church teaches against drug use. I will limit the remainder of my discussion to marijuana.
- I agree that illegal drugs are troublesome because they involve gangster-like drug cartels.
- I believe marijuana (once legalized) should be treated the same as alcohol. Laws should be against the harmful effects (such as DUI, consuming in public, public intoxication, etc.)
- I believe the Catholic Church is hypocritical to consider marijuana use (once it is legalized) as being gravely sinful but alcohol use as OK.
- I have two complaints with the Catholic Church's opinion of pornography.
(1) Their definition in the Catechism is too limited:
Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners. . . . Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials. (2354)
It should include things other than those involving sexual acts, anything intended to promote or arouse lust.
(2) I don't think the Church should insist that certain things be illegal. Trying to control behavior and morality through laws is not such a simple task. For example, trying to promote jobs that pay enough for people to live on results in unemployment for the very people intended to be helped. And Christendomwas a big dud.
Catholic Controversies . . .
- It is hard to believe that apostolic succession was never broken (I have never read anyone address this topic. I have documented several historical cases where apostolic succession was clearly broken. The subsequent bishops merely ignore it and continue on as if everything is OK.)
- I believe apostolic succession has been broken on numerous occasions but that it is OK for the bishops to connect it up again. The purpose of ordination is to provide qualified leaders for the church, not to get snagged in legal technicalities.
- I believe unqualified bishops are not really bishops at alland because of this reason also there are many gaps in the succession of ordination.
- From the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read of apostolic succession:
1087: "by the power of the same Holy Spirit they [the apostles] entrusted this power to their successors."
1209: "communion in the faith and the sacraments received from the apostles, a communion that is both signified and guaranteed by apostolic succession."
Thus, apostolic succession is for the purpose of providing certain benefits to the church, not as a mere legal and technical procedure.
References in the Catechism to apostolic succession — 815, 77, 1576, 1209, 1087, 1399
- I believe the Catholic Church has overstated the case in its definition of apostolic succession.
- There is a strong emphasis in the New Testament and the writings of the early church fathers that bishops are to be qualified. But how can an unholy, worldly, unbelieving, heretical bishop possibly be a true bishop?
- The Catholic Church allows for bishops (and priests) whether they are qualified or not (and perhaps not even Christian) in order to preserve the effectiveness of the sacraments. In other words, since us Catholics can't judge the interior heart of these leaders, we would never be sure whether the sacraments were valid or not.
- I suppose you could say that, in the case of bad bishops and priests, the orthodoxy and faith of the person receiving the sacrament makes it valid (and the Catholic Church perhaps teaches this).
- Nevertheless, victimized Catholics should stop allowing themselves to be abused by immoral and unrighteous religious leaders. They should boycott them and demand they fulfill their proper role as expressed so clearly in the New Testament and the writings of the early church fathers.
- Imagine how quickly Catholic leaders would initiate reform if funds dried up around bad bishops and priests.
- The Catholic Church neglects to mention what the laity are to do when their leaders are corrupt or when they teach things that are untrue or demand of us obedience to things that are absurd. Two quotations:
- John Chrysostom, Homily 34 on Hebrews: it is better to be led by no one [in anarchy], than to be led by one who is evil. For the former [those in anarchy] indeed are oftentimes saved, and oftentimes are in peril, but the latter [those with bad ruler] will be altogether in peril, being led into the pit [of destruction]. . . . When he is wicked should we obey? Wicked? In what sense? If indeed in regard to Faith, flee and avoid him.
- Francis of Assisi: I strictly order them to obey their ministers in all those things which they have promised the Lord to observe and which are not contrary to the soul and to our rule.
Qualifications of Leaders
- What are the qualifications of teachers and defenders of the faith (bishops)?
- How can an unholy, corrupt, worldly man be the teacher and defender of the faith?
- For example, my former bishop didn't seem to be a Christian at all; he never mentioned the gospel. On a call-in show someone politely told him about serious liturgical abuses at their parish and he became irate — how dare us Catholics try to trip up our priests whether they accidentally misspeak. He didn't want to deal with liturgical abuses in his diocese.
- How are us Catholics supposed to deal with unqualified priests and bishops?
- The attitude of the church seems to be, "we're doing the best we can trying to serve you ungrateful laity, now leave us alone."
- The New Testament and the writings of the early church fathers strongly stressed the importance of qualified bishops, yet throughout history so many were not. During the Arian heresy a majority of bishops were Arians.
- The recent priestly scandals demonstrate the problem. Bishops merely shuffled around pervert priests rather than sending them to prison. Bishops such as these are simply not qualified to lead Christ's church. And now some have been promoted to Cardinal.
- Catholics have no choice but to remain subservient in some way to Church leaders, but are we obligated to wholehearted trust them?
- Jesus railed against the cold-heartedness and abuses of the Jewish leaders of his day. Certainly it is not a sin for Catholics to remain watchful and distrustful of their leaders when needed.
- Even bad bishops are a mixture of good and bad. Perhaps they serve the poor, or perhaps they are good money managers, etc.
- It is one thing for an unholy bishop to confect the Eucharist or administer the sacrament of confirmation, but it is another for this bishop to teach and defend the faith — how can we trust this?
- Fortunately, the Catholic faith has developed over centuries so the badness of individual bishops has not tainted many of the teachings of the church. We can accept these while at the same time rejecting the bad bishops who were involved in some way — the Holy Spirit has guided this process and weeded-out error.
- There are two aspects of the church:(1) the set of all the redeemed (the body of Christ), and (2) a human institution with leaders.
- The body of Christ is the set of all the redeemed Christians of all ages (I'll not discuss this further here.)
- The institutional church has two aspects: (1) the idealized mission and structure as established by the Holy Spirit, (2) the actual implementation of this from generation to generation by real flesh and blood people, some qualified, some not so.
- God uses people in effecting his will here on earth. Because of human weakness and sinfulness, God accomplishes much less then is possible. This is true of the church also.
- The historical events regarding the church show the Holy Spirit guiding humans in accomplishing God's will. We should expect each historical episode to reveal God's plan and purpose in redemption history just as we see God guiding the characters and peoples in the Old Testament.
- The institutional church has provided these benefits:
- Provided a framework for developing, preserving, and communicating doctrine.
- Saved true Christianity from extinction on several occasions: (1) Arianism and other heresies would have taken over; (2) the Roman emperors would have wiped it out; (3) the Islamic invasion would have corrupted it. (A rag-tag collection of individual believers would not have been sufficient to keep Christianity alive.)
- Provided (and continues to provide) teaching, sacraments, and other benefits to Christians of all generations.
- Kept Protestantism from destroying true apostolic doctrine and traditions.
- Impacted civilization over the course of history. (Too bad the church doesn't have much influence today or our culture would not be so depraved as it is.)
- Provided (and continues to provide) a visible view of Christianity for all the world to see. (The pope gets more media coverage than any other Christian leader. The US bishops are the ones most visibly taking a stand against Obama's contraception mandate.)
- Yes, the church is not as effective as it could be. But critics should direct the same complaint toward themselves. Are each of us perfectly obeying God's call on our life? We should emphasize the good, pray over the bad, acknowledge the failures and weaknesses with an eye to improving them. For example, there are bad husbands and wives — this does not mean we should get rid of the institution of marriage, or that it is flawed.
Clergy vs. Laity
- The Old Testament had such a division of roles.
- The church does also.
- Every society requires roles of leadership.
- Public worship of God requires leadership. Administering the sacraments requires leadership.
- Even Protestantism has a division between clergy and laity (but they don't admit to it).
- The Early Church Fathers clearly refer to the priestly role as well as the leadership role of bishops.
- There is such a thing as true doctrine and teaching. This highlights the need for some sort of infallible teaching authority, a teaching magisterium.
- The Catholic Church claims that this teaching magisterium resides within the Catholic Church.
- For example, the teaching that Christ is deity was determined and developed by this infallible teaching authority of the church, and it is preserved and communicated by this infallible teaching authority of the church.
- The infallible teaching authority of the church is somewhat of an abstract idea so it is hard to understand. I think the best way to understand it is in investigating a particular doctrine and observing the various aspects of this doctrine. For example, the deity of Christ highlights the many aspects of the infallible teaching authority of the church (the teaching magisterium):
Every doctrine should be analyzed in this manner. Thus we see that the teaching magisteriumof the Catholic Church is far more than some cardinals in the Vatican decreeing things from their towers (probably the usual image in people's minds).
- The apostles taught the doctrine of the deity of Christ and wrote about it (but they taught other things which could be used to refute it).
- They passed-it on to their successors.
- The early church fathers wrote about it.
- Heretics denied it.
- Bishops defended it against heresy and described it more thoroughly. This is how development of doctrineworks; upon further reflection of the teachings passed-down from the apostles (often when challenged by heretics), additional aspects are noticed which the apostles didn't explicitly describe.
- Councils discussed it (the doctrine of the deity of Christ) and decreed it.
- Bishops disseminated, communicated, and taught it.
- It became part of the liturgy which was overseen by bishops.
- It was included in Catechisms which were overseen by bishops.
- Even Protestants kept it (claiming they derived it from scripture — what nonsense! They merely supported it from scripture).
- Christians everywhere believe it.
- I should note: the concept of the teaching magisterium of the Catholic Church is not expressed clearly nor defended adequately, in my opinion.
- My main complaints with Catholic teaching are:
- Things are expressed in a highly idealized manner which doesn't match the real world.
- There is no mention of the bad things that people did: for example, when discussing the church's view of science, they forget to mention that the church leaders made errors and were abusive in their dealings with Galileo.
- Weird technical loopholes and contradictions.
- Adoption of Aristotelian philosophywhich I think is not really true at all.
- Often based on arcane legal descriptions and language.
- Wrong emphasis.
- Contradictions: For example Catholics are not required to have a devotion to Mary, yet Catholic masses which they are required to attend all-too-often contain Marian devotional aspects (note: I have a devotion to Mary so I am not objecting to this). The Assumption of Mary is a Holy Day of Obligation for all Catholics (whether or not they have a Marian devotion).
- Attempts to appease the culture at large and Protestants. (I think this is to be expected.)
- Have gone too far. For example: in working to unite with the Orthodox Churches, the Catholic Church is willing to allow them to reject the modern papal doctrines (for example, papal infallibility). This kind of thing makes me think they have decreed things as true which are not really true after all (or which are not stated correctly).
- Different rules for different people; for example, a divorced and remarried convert from the Orthodox church can take communion but a Catholic in the same predicament cannot.
- Weird side effects: for example, the pope has only infallibly decreed two Marian doctrines (assumption and immaculate conception). But surely the doctrine of papal infallibility should be used to decree that all the foundational doctrines of Christianity are true? Weird.
- Failure to even discuss such strange side-effects.
- Apologies for past wrongs committed by church leaders are weak and deflects the blame to others (often to the victims).
- Too many rules. For example: in order for my Catholic daughter to marry a Catholic man, my anti-Catholic Protestant son had to certify that she was qualified to enter in to such a sacramental marriage. This is madness!
- Relies on ungifted and uninspired clerks to administer important aspects of the faith. For example: some (many) RCIA teachers teach liberalism, or they teach the faith incorrectly, or they teach of a Christian faith that is just plain uninspiring.
- Highlighting bad, unqualified church leaders does not disprove Catholic teachings. God has provided for validation of these teachings over the course of generations of imperfect humans. Every true teaching (such as the canon of scripture, Nicene creed) will have imperfect people involved in some way. But the divine will of the Holy Spirit will shine through the sludge of human weakness and in the end the church will provide true teaching. At this point in history, 2,000 years since the time of the apostles, the Catholic Church has gotten much right.
- The Catholic Church teaches that the faith was passed-down from the apostles.
- If the apostles didn't say something or believe something or if it didn't even occur to them, I don't think it is proper to say it was passed-down.
- Certainly there are many things in seed form hidden within the statements of the apostles. These seeds are passed-down but it requires doctrinal development to come to fruition. Perhaps it is proper to say that anything developed from these seeds is passed-down, but it sounds a bit weird.
- There are things not called-out in scripture which were passed-down; things that were passed-on to the early church fathers.
- The Catholic Church makes much of big-T Tradition, claiming that non-written Tradition is part of the faith passed-down by the apostles.
- I see a few problems with this.
- How can something that the apostles never taught, believed, or practiced be part of the faith they passed-down?
- It is difficult (impossible?) to know which things that were eventually written down by the church fathers were actually taught, believed, or practiced by the apostles.
- It is even harder to know which things that were only recently committed to paper were actually taught, believed, or practiced by the apostles.
- It seems we should limit this Tradition to things that we can have certainty about. Some examples:
- We don't know the specific creedal statements the apostles may have expected those being baptized to recite — but we do know that they were to recite some sort of a creedal statement, likely something similar to the apostles creed.
- We don't know exactly what prayers and liturgical formulas were used by the apostles in the Eucharist — but we do know that the general structure of the Eucharist was something like that noted in the Didache and other early church fathers.
- We don't know exactly how Christians were to confess their sins during their public meetings — but we do know they did something.
- In my opinion, the Catholic Church has wildly overstated the case regarding Tradition. I suspect there is much less in this category than they claim. Still, I do agree that Tradition is very useful and helpful.
- The longer the time that passed after the apostolic era before these Traditions were finally written down, the less we can trust them.
- The only non-Catholic churches that match this Tradition are the liturgical denominations (but not all of these) that celebrate the Eucharist such as Lutheran, Anglican, Episcopalian, Orthodox and other historical churches which broke away from the catholic church in early history.
- For Protestants who want to return to the apostolic church, I have presented a model for the One Apostolic Church.
- I have no interest in this topic whatsoever.
- I find it odd that this topic is always spoken about in terms of priestly celibacy. It seems to me that the real issue is whether or not priests are married or not (if they are unmarried they are, by definition, celibate). It's as if the Catholic Church doesn't want certain people to get married so they can be celibate.
- I notice some inconsistencies about this topic. (1) The reason given for celibate priests is that they are acting in the place of Jesus during the Eucharist; but some priests are allowed to be married which invalidates this explanation. (2) They claim that the church has never allowed married priests, but this can easily be disproved.
- Advocates of allowing for married priests sometimes claim that it would make for a more cozy community. I have no opinion about this.
- I have little interest in this topic.
Sacraments . . .
- I reject this doctrine for various reasons I mention below.
- I should mention I do believe the following: (1) the consecrated bread and wine are literally the body and blood of Christ; (2) this lingers after mass ends so that Eucharistic adoration is possible and desirable.
- The Orthodox churches also reject Transubstantiation.
- This doctrine can only be explained in terms of Aristotelian philosophy (which I also reject). It was misguided for St. Thomas Aquinas to have based everything he wrote on Aristotle's system and it was unwise for the Catholic Church to have embraced Aristotle as they did.
- My system of Philosophy provides a better, simpler way to describe what happens during the Eucharist.
- There is a weird side-effect of the doctrine of transubstantiation. I hear Catholic defenders talking about the 15 minutes or so after partaking of the host: first Christ is in your mouth, then your esophagus, then your stomach, and then it stops being Jesus as it starts getting digested. Actually, if a small particle of the masticated substance were removed from your mouth and examined, it doesn't look like bread anymore. If the substance appears to be bread then it is really Jesus but once it stops looking like bread it is no longer Jesus. This is absurd. Once we consume the bread and wine, the molecules of the consecrated bread and wine mean nothing, rather, it is the fellowship of having shared a meal (as at the Last Supper) that is the significant thing.
- There are some very weird contradictions involved with the Catholic view of marriage. These kinds of things always make me think that there is something not quite right with the system.
- I find the Catholic distinction between civil marriage and sacramental marriage to be quite confusing. I prefer my view — it is simpler. It is as follows:
- God obviously intended for humans to marry and procreate.
- Marriage should be for life; till "death do us part."
- A baptized Christian has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in their soul.
- Two married baptized Christians have the presence of the Holy Spirit as an extra dimension to their marriage. I suppose you could call this a "sacramental" marriage (but the Catholic Church adds-on more in their definition of sacramental marriage).
- "Mixed marriages" (one partner is not a Christian) is not sacramental.
- The marriage is actually performed by the couple themselves as the Catholic Church teaches. Other people are involved to assist, witness, encourage, annoy, control, confuse, exploit, and otherwise complicate the matter.
- Civil government provides for certain legal benefits for married couples and so they need to certify these people as being officially, legally married. I suppose Gay Marriage is an easy way for the civil government to grant the same legal benefits.
- The Catholic Church wants to control couples who have a sacramental marriage (I'm not sure why they are such control freaks). I suppose they think they are being pastoral but in my experience they are often being just plain stupid.
- Certainly the church throughout history has had much to say about marriage and the general intent seems to be to minister and help people.
- True marriage has no divorce. Sadly, a large percentage of people don't honor the marriage commitment, or don't understand it, or don't care about such things as lifelong contractual commitments.
- Generally, married couples should have children (or adopt them). I suppose there are cases where it is reasonable that they don't do this.
- Should a widow or widower remarry? It can cause confusion and disunity for the children. But loneliness can be a terrible burden.
- The question is whether there are situations in which a person in mortal sin should take communion anyway.
- From Canon Law: Canon 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.
- There are two conditions in which it is permissible to take communion with unconfessed mortal sin. Note that both these conditions must be present.
- Condition 1: A grave reason. People say this means imminent death, but if that were the case this condition would never apply. How often does someone on their deathbed go to public mass? Perhaps if someone were going off to a battle in which they were likely to not return?
- Condition 1 must refer to cases in which sitting in the pew instead of going up for communion would cause your reputation to be tarnished. Or if while standing in the communion line you remember an unconfessed mortal sin.
- Condition 2: No opportunity to confess. I suppose anytime a mortal sin is committed from the last time sacramental confession was offered would qualify. Or if your priest has the habit of publically talking about sins he hears in the confessional, it might be proper to not confess with him. (Sadly, I have encountered this on many occasions. Names were not mentioned but sometimes enough details were given that someone who knew about the circumstances might be able to deduce who it was.)
- Catholics must go to communion once a year at Easter.
- From canon law: Canon 920 1. After being initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year. 2. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season unless it is fulfilled for a just cause at another time during the year.
- From Canon 702 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law: Each and every Catholic . . . must . . . receive holy Communion once a year at least in the Easter season. . . .
- If they keep this minimal requirement it implies the following: (1) they have been committing mortal sin all year long by missing mass, (2) they must go to confession before going to mass.
- Why would a Catholic who misses mass all year think they must obey this once-a-year rule?
- From canon law: Canon 1247 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.
- From the Catechism: 2181 . . . The faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants). . . . Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
- From canon law: Canon 989 After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year.
- From Canon 749 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law: Each and every one of the faithful . . . have the obligation . . . to confess all their sins truthfully at least once a year. . . .
- This assumes that each Catholic will commit at least one mortal sin each year. But what about the many Catholics who don't commit mortal sins?
- For them, there apparently is no rule that they must go to confession at all. How can you obey a rule to confess your mortal sins if you don't have any to confess.
- I suppose you could try to pretend that some of your venial sins are actually mortal sins.