The following is written in response to Stan who is the originator of the post. But it is also for you and others.
Introduction: The problem with these challenges is that one person is judging by one set of criteria without understanding the premise or foundation of the thing they are judging. Borrowing from Tom Cabeen, it is like Muslims in Iran who have never been to America judging Americans by the TV shows from America ... they can only get a glimpse of what life is really like in America. I have also learned a lot in my college psychology courses that people react to perception long before logic allows them to look at the facts ... and logic may never catch up to the facts. This is why Muslims in the Middle East will break out in riots when a western cartoonist uses humor to expose an issue relative to Islam. Emotions govern people, and it is hard to break through that wall. My goal in this post was not to prove anything as though people must agree with me, but rather to dispel myth. I hope my response below meet that challenge. Also, if other posters like Cabasilas, BurnTheShips, NanaR and respond, they will probably do a better job than me in tackling some of the issues. So, I hope that you read what they have contributed.
Note: I had to wait to respond because I was at work, and then I went to dinner after work. Sorry I confused you (Toreador) with Stan. He did conclude very respectfully, and so I hope that he gets to read this response. I understand that you copied his challenge from CC. Posted by Scorpion on Mon - May 5 - 02:17am: In Reply to: Addendum posted by JimWhitney on Sun - May 4 - 6:06pm:
Stan: Thanks for the links Jim. I am not sure the information you provided though IMO could be said to dispel what you cassified as "common myths" of the Catholic Church.
I thought I did well, so I am curious as to why you feel otherwise. I was not dispelling Catholic myths, but rather Watchtower generated myths that many ex-JWs continue to hold. Catholic source informatino can be difficult for non-Catholics, and can be completely screwed up by the dishonest use of sources made by the Watchtower Society.
Stan: Papal infallability. The following statement was formally determined by the Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, c. iv: "We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable."
Yes, I agree 100% with the quote you made, and it agrees exactly with what I stated. When the Pope speaks on matters of "faith and morals," and I could have added 'excathedra,' he is then protected by God the Holy Spirit in the same way as St. Peter the Apostle was when he wrote 1st and 2nd Peter, or St. Paul when he wrote many letters, and St. John, St. Matthew, St. Luke, and St. Mark when they wrote Gospels, and so forth. I fail to see how this quote says anything differently than what I stated above in the opening thread. For your convenience, here is what I said:
Jim W.: Papal Infallibility: This is a most unfortunate issue that gets completely twisted from reality. The Pope is a fallible man. He is a sinner as we all are. He has to put faith in Jesus and live in cooperation with the Holy Spirit as any Christian. The best way to describe how he can then be infallible is this: Nearly all Christians, both Catholic, Orthodox, and non-Catholic accept the Bible as inspired of God, and hence inerrant or infallible. The Bible was written by fallible sinful men. St. Peter who denied Jesus with a curse wrote two NT books. God can and does use fallible men to do infallible things? The RCC has always held that the Holy Spirit protects the Church from
inerrant errant teaching ... not necessarily inerrant errant conduct as evidenced by the seven congregations Jesus strongly counseled in the book of Revelation ... hence its "teachings" are considered without error. Since the Pope is the chief spokesman of the Church, then when he speaks on matters of "faith and morals" it cannot deviate from Church teaching, and cannot run against scripture. So, in this sense, just as the Apostles and other Bible writers wrote infallible words, the Pope can be and is used in an infallible way. Popes do not make willy-nilly rulings and tell people how to live their lives as the JW Governing Body does. And when Popes have said and done wrong things, the Catholic Church has been quite critical of them, and one can find this in Catholic history as well as secular history.
I can add that there is no case in its nearly 2,000 year history where the Pope has ruled excathedra in a way that opposes Catholic teaching and doctrine.
Stan: Exclusively the Only True Church: "Catholic Book of PRAYERS" edited by Maurus Fitzgerald and published by CATHOLIC BOOK PUBLISHING CO., New Jersey. It is copyrighted 2003 and has both Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur by proper Catholic authorities. It is said to be the best selling catholic prayerbook in America now. Note the following claims on pp. 236,237, quoted verbatim: "The Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church is the only flock of which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only Shepherd. To hear the teachings of the Church and to submit oneself to its laws is to hear Jesus Christ and to obey Him. To refuse to submit to the decisions and laws of the Church is to refuse to submit to Jesus Christ. He himself has expressly said to His Apostles: He who hears you, hears Me; and he who rejects you, rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects Him Who sent Me. /// Does the Catholic Church still use the above book? Btw, here's a press commentary about a recently issued papal document saying, in essence, that they are the only true Church: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20070711/NEWS02/707110335/-1/s ///
I believe that BurnTheShips made a good response to this as well. For your convenience here is what I stated in the opening thread:
Jim W. Exclusively the Only True Church: Neither Rome nor Constantinople hold that the only true Christians are located within their walls. They both recognize that Christians are found everywhere. When one becomes a Catholic, one comes to develop a flavor for this word meaning 'universal' and that the Catholic faith accepts people as brothers and sisters who are in other denominations. What Rome and Constantinople do hold to is that they are the "full expressions" of the historic apostolic faith as it was handed down through centuries directly from the Apostles. With them come the seven Sacraments, and the fullness of the Church. It would be cruel, unloving, and judgmental to treat non-Catholic Christians as anything less than our bretheran. JWs and a number of ex-JWs confuse the word "Church" with "Christian."
I could have done a better job by adding that because the Catholic and Orthodox Church are the full expressions of the faith
, then in that sense they are they only "true church." However, they are not the only Christians, and nothing in that document you quoted remotely alludes to Catholics and Orthodox being the only Christians. These are important distinctions with major differences
. Therefore, I stand by what I originally stated.
Stan: Praying to St. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and praying to the Saints: There is extensive material on this subject, mainly from Catholic sources that leads me to draw the conclusion that the prayers deliverd to the Saints and Mary are a form of idolatry. The CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, Doubleday, 1995 (copyright 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.) contains 2865 paragraphs of catholic teaching. It calls Mary "all-holy" at least 7 times. (493, 721, 829, 1138, 2030, 2677, 2827). Wouldn't you view this as blasphemy. " No, it is not idolatry to talk to the Saints.
Prayer to Catholics is not 'worship' as it is for JWs. Therefore, one must consider what their belief system allows. If I were a JW I would not pray to a Saint because JWs consider such idolatry. But JWs, as shown by their history, will find all sorts of reasons to shun anyone, including Saints. But, I believe another poster did a nice Job (BurnTheShips) showed from history and the Bible that the Saints are quite active in heaven and pray for us. Why is it wrong to ask a particular Saint, or the Mother of Jesus to pray for us? Why would that be wrong? No, it is not blasphemy to say that the Blessed Virgin Mary is all-holy.
Would the Morther of Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity be anything but All Holy? All the Saints are All Holy too. In fact that is what "Saint" meants, Holy One? If not all holy, what part of St. Mary would be unholy in her status in heaven? No it is not blasphemy. In fact, St. Mary said in prophecy that she would be calld Blessed by all future generations. And, the Catholics and Orthodox Churches are the only ones that openly honor the Blessed Virgin Mary with fulfillment of this prophecy. Where does your Church stand? Why do some refuse to honor the mother of Jesus in fulfillment of prophecy?
Stan: The last part of 2677 states: "By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the "Mother of Mercy," the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present momemt, to surrender "the hour of our death" wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son´s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise." According to this it is Mary, not Jesus, who is in charge at death. And so it is deemed absolutely vital to invoke Mary. As "the All-Holy one" she is viewed as a goddess, and the veneration showed her here amounts to idolatry, no matter what is said to the contrary. It did not say that St. Mary was in charge at death in a way that supersedes the charge of Jesus Christ.
You added that interpretation. This is a case where one takes a little bit of a vast amount of information and distorts the context. Notice that she leads us at our passing to her son
, Jesus. Let's say that upon your death, someone who loves you who preceded you in death greets you, and then leads you be with Jesus? How would that be any different. You also added that she is a goddess. She is not a goddess, she is not a mediator of the New Conveant
as Jesus is. But she can and does mediate in prayer in the same way as, say, a close friend or relative here on earth whom I may ask to pray for me ... such a friend mediates in prayer. Have you ever in your life asked anyone to pray for you? Then you have invoked them to act as a mediator in prayer. Any Saint can mediate in prayer ... again, not with respect to the New Covenant that Jesus mediated. This is where non-Catholics promote myth without understanding what Catholics really believe. I would never consider anything stated above as blasphemy as you have interpreted it. I would never consider mediation in prayer to be equivalent to Jesus mediating the New Covenant. No blood is spilled in prayerful mediation.
Stan: Prayers are directed to Mary in a way that the Jew in OT-times and the Christian in NT-times would only direct to God and Christ. And the songs of praise are such as should only be directed to God and Christ. The situation is not very different from that prevailing in the Watchtower organization. It is claimed that the organization does not set dates, and when the hard evidence to the contrary is presented, strenuous efforts are made to explain away and even deny the obvoius.
Your comparison to the Watchtower date setting is honestly irrelevant and a false arguement. Your assumption of history is not based on fact or Chrstian historical teaching. You assume that because the Watchtower taught you that prayer is only given to God, and by extension that in your ex-JW life, to Christ as well, that this means that prayer (talking) is not permitted elsewhere. You can find NO verse in the New Testament that would restrict us to talking only to God, nor any that would prohibit us from talking to Saints. Therefore, the Bible is not forthcoming on this issue. Thus, we have to examine what Christians did in the first few centuries. And history tells a different story. The Apostles Creed, which dates back in various forms to the early second century, and elements into the first century, allows for communion with the Saints. It makes no sense to state that one believes in the "communion with Saints" and then set up a "gag order" that only permits us to talk to God. How some people ever got the idea that talking is an act of worship is beyond me. I can't help you on that score.
PS: If you ever have to appear in court, your attorney will prepare a response to the court that appeals to the judge by saying "we pray." It is an appeal, but we do not "worship" the court because we formally "pray" to the court, do we?
Stan: In what year did the Catholic Church institute praying to Saints? Was this a practice by early Christians shortly after the death of Christ? How can a saint hear hundreds or thousands of prayers at one time? No matter how great a saint they were, they are not omniscient nor can they answer our prayers (it is a known fact there are more prayers offered to Mary than to God by Catholics). This is seen by the statement by Bishop Liqouri “We often more quickly obtain what we ask by calling on the name of Mary than by invoking that of Jesus. She...is our Salvation, our Life, our Hope, our Counsel, our Refuge, our Help” (The Glories of Mary by Bishop Alphonse de Ligouri (Brooklyn: Redemptorist Fathers, pp. 254, 257). /// Part of this quote requires more time to develop my response,
so I will come back to this thread. Prima facia is can appear to be offending to some non-Catholcis, especially fundamentalists who are not well educated in Catholic theology. However, why cannot a Saint hear hundred, thousands, or millions, or billions of prayers?
How does God do it? Cannot God share such ability? I mean we are talking about matters of faith and belief in something we cannot prove on any level. Who says that God cannot wave his hand and give a Saint such an ability? God can do all things, for nothing is impossible with God, save he cannot lie ... that is what the Bible teaches, does it not? Your arguement does not hold. Omniscience is not about the ability to hear prayers, but about infinite knowledge ... they are quite different terms. As for more prayers being offered to St. Mary, I cannot say that more are offered to her than to God ... so I disagree with the source. However, since prayer is 'talking' as in an entreaty or appeal, then I suggest that people do this more often to other humans than they necessarily to do God. Prayer, entreaty, appeal, etc. is NOT in and of itself an act of worship ... this is pure myth! Now if your personal belief system restricts prayer in that way, then that is your privelege. In my world, it is not so restricted. And, in this thread, I am exaplining my world, my faith, and dispelling how myth has been used to interpret my beliefs as a Catholic.
Stan: To tell you the truth, what religion you or Tom or anyone else belongs to is your choice and I am sure you have made this choice with much prayer and thought. When an individual either joins or belongs to a certain religious group, one thing I look for in the individual, if they have indeed done their homework, is to see if the person is truly being honest about their faith and what it and or the leaders teach as doctrine to be adhered too by the followers. More often than not I have found not just Catholics, but others who belong to a certain faith ignorant to the designs and teachings of the religion. I do not think for a moment that you, Jim, are ignorant about what the Catholic Church teaches or has taught.
I am not ignorant of Catholic teaching, though there is so much to Catholic theology and literature, that I also must say I do not know it all. That would be an impossible task to know it all before making a decision. I was raised Roman Catholic in a devout family that constantly practiced the faith. I was also educated by Domincan Sisters and Franciscan Priests. If one knows history, our modern educational institutions were established originally in Europe by these two orders, circa 12th-13th century. They brought the Church into the modern age, and helped with the eventual development of the Renaisance. So, to have such an education means that one has a greater level of education in the faith than average. Additionally, I considered being a Priest, but did not follow through ... I then ended up a JW. I am contemplating going back into the seminary, and finishing what I started. I did spend about 2 years studying early Chirstian history, reading every early Church father from St. Igantius, circa 105 AD up to the 3rd century. It was this reading that eventually led me back home to the Catholic Church.
Stan: What puzzles me is that you wouldcall these Catholic Church doctrines and teachings a Myth when the Church has indeed taught as truth the teachings of Mary and the Saints, the Only True Church, Papel infalibility, etc etc.. as is quoted above in just a few instances.
I have not called Church teachings a myth ... for nothing in your quotes is inconsistent with what I believe, practice, or understand. What I am trying to do is to help ex-JWs and other non-Catholics to understand that how they "perceive" Catholics teaching and doctrine is through the lenses of their own paradigm ... any it is they who are victims of their own myths which I am trying to dispel ... again, in this sense, JWs and exJWs can be likened to Muslims in Iran thinking they understand American culture by watching American television. They will get some idea, but will only interpret it through Muslim, Middle Eastern culture and religion. Muslims who have moved to America and adopted our culture come to see things very differently.
Stan: Of course maybe this is just one of those cases with the Church of do as we say, but don't really believe all that is written by us, because at times we may contradict what we said at another time.
Stan: What one believes spiritually is personal between them and God. Myself, I have to be honest with where I am with God and where I worship, what is and has been taught and who is doing the teaching. I have yet to find any religion that would resemble something that I would deem "God's true Church." Agreed, what each one believes is a personal decision.
I am out of the preaching business, so I do not expect or try to convert anyone anymore. But, to dispel myths for the sake of understanding seems appropriate to me. Why not state what you believe the true Church would look like? I hear this so many times that so far nothing in existence so far mathces what one would think of as the true church. Mouthy did this above as well ... yet never do I see what definitions would ever look like. In reality, it is too late for the Christian faith to look like something else. The only Church that has roots and authority linked back to the Apostles is the Catholics - Orthodox. So, one either accepts such authorized authority or one starts one's one Church and becomes the Pope of your own creation. Besides psychology, I spent time in college studying eastern religions like Buddahism, Shintoism, Daoism, Hinduism, and Confuscianism.
By studying them, I had to dispel myths I carried about them. I had to peel away my western perceptions and understand how they developed, why they developed, and how they really think and believe. I can see much similarity between these religions and Christianity. I have greater respect for people from this part of the world. Given that I work with Hindus, Koreans, Chinese, Mongolians, Japanese, etc. I now better understand them, and in so doing I love them all the more. That is what I believe we should be doing ... not like some on certain forums who slap stick the word "abomination" on anything that they do not understand. In the words of my good friend, AlanF, they are a bunch of brain-dead idiots who are willfully blind.
Stan: I hope I have not been too forward in my response. It is nice to see you posting on this forum again Jim. Thanks Stan.
I always enjoyed your postings andf level of personal respect. I am not actually posting on CC. I simply posted an announcement, and then the addendum in case some, like yourself, might want to read what I had to say. So, I hope that someone will alert you to this response. You should know my email at [email protected]
. So always feel free to email me too. Christian love and peace, Jim Whitney PS: I will respond more later to the one quote above that you made.