CRISIS OF FAITH
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James G. McCarthy
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OPENING NEWSREEL AND STATISTICS
NEWSREEL NARRATOR The historic Ecumenical Council, Vatican II, comes to a close amid colorful pomp and pageantry. Considered one of the most important councils in Catholic Church history, Vatican II produced 16 documents designed to modernize the role of the Church in world affairs.
The final blessing is for the assembled throng and for the world: “Ite in Pace. Go in Peace.”
NARRATOR With those words, Pope Paul VI closed the Second Vatican Council. Little did anyone realize what lay ahead.
The decades since Vatican II have been turbulent. Its history spans centuries, but its future is uncertain. The Roman Catholic Church is a church in crisis.
Evidence of the present crisis is widespread. Catholics are dissatisfied.
Attendance at Mass has plummeted.(1)
The confessional has suffered an even greater decline.(2)
Finances are critical.(3) Deficit spending has become a way of life.(4) Church closures are commonplace.(5)
Priests are in short supply.(6) One thousand U.S. parishes are already without a priest.(7) A 40% decline is projected by the turn of the century,(8) and the Mass, which cannot be performed without a priest, is threatened.(9)
Internal disputes are shaking the Church. Theologians, priests, and even bishops are becoming increasingly outspoken.
A full page ad recently ran in The New York Times calling for reform in the Catholic Church. It was signed and paid for by 4,500 Catholic clergy and laity.(10)
The Pope has risen to the challenge serving notice: either stop public dissension or face disciplinary measures.(11)
One in seven Americans born Catholic has left the Church.(12) One hundred thousand Hispanics alone are leaving the Church every year, many to join more personal churches.(13)
What is the cause of the present crisis?(14) Some feel that the Second Vatican Council went too far and destabilized the Church. Others blame Rome for resisting modernization and trying to live in the past.
Yet another cause often cited is Humanae Vitae: the most controversial papal document of modern times which forbids the use of any artificial means of birth control. Widely ignored, Humanae Vitae weakened the Church’s credibility and has led Catholics to begin questioning other teachings.(15)
Certainly these concerns are valid, but is it possible that the real problem lies deeply imbedded in the doctrines of the Roman Catholic faith itself?
BOB BUSH – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST This is St. Ignatius Church. It is adjacent to the University of San Francisco. I studied here during my years of seminary training.
My name is Bob Bush. I was ordained here in 1966. Twenty-one years later, I submitted my letter of resignation.
MARY KRAUS – FORMER FRANCISCAN SISTER I’m Mary Kraus. After 22 years as a Franciscan Sister, I had, to some extent, the same experience as our founder, Francis of Assisi; I found myself out of step with my own order. But God showed me that my path should be only the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
WILMA SULLIVAN – FORMER SISTER OF MERCY My name is Sister Wilma Marie. At least that is what I was called as a Sister of Mercy. My faith crisis began at Communion. The priest held the Host(16) in front of me and said, “The body of Christ.” Before I could say the expected response of “Amen,” a thought went through my mind for the first time: “Is it really?” This began a series of events which led to my personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
FRANK EBERHARDT – FORMER SEMINARIAN My name is Frank Eberhardt, and I studied here at the St. Joseph’s Seminary in Kingston, New Jersey, for preparing for the priesthood. While I was here and making preparation, a parishioner came and asked me a question: How many Masses needed to be said for her husband that he could enter into heaven?
Well, this began for me an investigation into the Doctrine of Purgatory. Upon that investigation, I found it didn’t match the Scripture, and so I had to delve more deeply into Scripture. And I found the Doctrine of Eternal Security: how that a person is supposed to know they have eternal life when they die. Well, I completed four years of study here, and upon that graduation I decided not to pursue ordination into the Order of St. Vincent de Paul.
NARRATOR These and thousands more like them are re-examining their Roman Catholic faith: the Mass, the commandments, the role of Mary, even the way to heaven. How do the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church compare with the teachings of Sacred Scriptures?
NARRATOR The Mass is the center of Catholic experience, and all Catholics are required to attend each week.
Jesus Christ instructed his followers to take bread and wine as a remembrance of him.(17) But unlike most Christian denominations, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the bread and wine are more than symbolic: the priest actually transforms the bread into the body of Christ. A miraculous change is about to take place.(18)
PRIEST Take this all of you and eat. This is my body which will be given up for you.
NARRATOR Catholic doctrine teaches that the wafer is no longer bread, but is now the actual body of Jesus Christ, and is to be worshiped and adored as divine.(19)
BOB BUSH – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST I always kind of wondered about that, because as a priest you lean over the bread and you say, “This is my body.” And you’re trained to believe that [it] became the body of Jesus. And you lift it up for people to…, to adore, whatever. You do that with the chalice too.
But in my mind, I always thought, I can’t see any change, and do I really have the power to do this?
It smells like bread. It looks like bread. It tastes like bread. But the substance is really the body of Jesus.
NARRATOR How can the Church maintain a change takes place despite all external evidence to the contrary?
It uses a theory called transubstantiation.
Catholic theologian, Father John Boyle of the Jesuit School of Theology:
FATHER JOHN BOYLE, S.J. – CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN Transubstantiation simply means that what before was bread and wine, down deep now is the body and blood of Christ. And we take that physically, because we’re physical, and it’s the physicality of life.
NARRATOR The Church bases transubstantiation upon the teachings of Aristotle. His third century B.C. concept of matter viewed everything as consisting of two parts: accidents and substance.
Accidents are described as the outward appearance of matter. Substance is the inner essence.
Even though this idea has long since been discarded by modern science, the Catholic Church not only clings to it, but takes it one step further claiming the inner essence can change while the outward appearance remains the same.
Transubstantiation is the foundation upon which the Mass rests. Catholics are taught that the priest must change the bread, so that Christ can be offered as a real sacrifice, an offering for the sins of the living and the dead.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET It is the actual sacrifice of the Mass. That the body and blood of Christ is actually being sacrificed right there on the altar rather than just a re-enactment of something that happened many thousands of years ago.
PRIEST This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, happy are those who are called to this table.
PEOPLE Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. But only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.
FATHER RICHARD CHILSON, C.S.P. – CATHOLIC PRIEST Is the Eucharist a real sacrifice?
A Catholic would say that the Eucharist is a real sacrifice in that the Eucharist is the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. That this is not a different sacrifice from the one Jesus made on Calvary. It is the same sacrifice.(20)
BOB BUSH – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST Now that goes directly against Scripture, because in Hebrews 10:18, it says that “with the forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” There is no more offering.
NARRATOR Catholic priest Father Richard Chilson is the author of eight books on the Catholic faith including Catholic Christianity(21) and An Introduction to the Faith of Catholics.(22)
We asked him why the Catholic Church seeks to continue the sacrifice of Jesus at the Mass.
FATHER RICHARD CHILSON, C.S.P. – CATHOLIC PRIEST The Eucharist for a Catholic is ultimately a mystical understanding. That there is what we call real time, and then there is what John calls “the hour.” And the hour is present in every moment, if we can…, if we can open our eyes to that…, that reality. And so the Eucharist, by…, by making present that sacrifice throughout history, hopes…, helps to…, helps us to open our eyes to what is really going on, continually.
That God is continually, through Jesus Christ, reconciling the universe to himself. It allows us to personally come into that, that moment and be reconciled with God, again, and again, and again.
For a Catholic, it continues before the sacrifice of Calvary. But if the sacrifice of Calvary does not begin at that point, it begins really at the foundation of the world. It goes forward in history, and it goes backward in history as well.
NARRATOR Other Christian denominations celebrate that the sacrifice is finished. We asked Father Chilson why the Catholic Church chooses to focus on it continuing. Why not leave it finished?
FATHER RICHARD CHILSON, C.S.P. – CATHOLIC PRIEST I don’t know if I can answer that. I am sorry. I know that’s…, that’s a real issue between Protestants and Catholics, but I don’t know if I can answer it in any better way than I’ve already kind of stumbled on.
FRANK EBERHARDT – FORMER SEMINARIAN The Catholic priest cannot really explain how that the finished work of Christ on the cross is continued today in the Mass. The phrasing is that it is a mystical act of transubstantiation that takes place, in which Christ voluntarily comes from heaven at the beck and call of the priest when he raises the wafer above his head, then he voluntarily again becomes a sacrifice.
There’s nothing in Scripture that says Christ would ever, ever dream of doing this. Scripture says that Christ has perfected by one offering them that are sanctified.(23) And it only took one offering to save us from sin.
BART BREWER – FORMER DISCALCED CARMELITE PRIEST The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice, which means that it appeases the wrath of God. That indeed it does take away sin.(24)
However, the Scripture is very clear about the fact that there is only one propitiatory sacrifice, namely what our Savior did on the cross. That’s why in John 19:30 Christ said, “It is finished.” And when something is finished, it’s finished. When something is done, it is done.
NARRATOR A unique aspect of Catholic devotion is the veneration of saints and the use of sacred objects such as statues.
Former Sister of Christian Charity, Doreen D’Antonio.
DOREEN D’ANTONIO – FORMER SISTER OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY In the convent, we had a whole list of saints that we used for various situations.
If we lost something, we would pray to St. Anthony.
If we had a hopeless case in our family, maybe a relative that was a drunk or something, we would pray to St. Jude. That being a hopeless case.
We would pray to St. Gerard if there was a pregnant woman in our family that needed assistance. St. Blaise if we had a sore throat.
We would pray to St. Christopher, that they don’t use any more, for traveling. Of course, we remember that one.
And in elevators. In the convent, we had an elevator for the older nuns, and in that elevator was this humongous medal of St. Christopher.
It was amazing. We would have little statues of Mary and Joseph. St. Joseph for foster fathers.
We would have the little statue right on the window sill, hoping and praying that statue would prevent it from raining on a particular day.
VICTOR AFFONSO – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST “You shall not make for yourselves an idol,” or a statue, or a picture, “in the form of anything in heaven above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters below.”(25)
NARRATOR Victor Affonso served as a Jesuit priest for twenty-one years.
VICTOR AFFONSO – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST “You shall not bow down to them”(26) or worship them. It’s the same word.(27)
NARRATOR Though part of the Ten Commandments in the Catholic Bible,(28) the Catholic Church regularly omits this command from catechisms.(29) Yet it still comes up with ten.
VICTOR AFFONSO – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST And how come they still got ten? They took the last one which is “Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; you shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house, or land, manservant, maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” They divided this into two. They made nine: “Man shall not covet his neighbor’s wife,” and ten: “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” So they had the Ten Commandments.
Now this is crookery. This is trickery. You’ve changed the commandments.
But why did you drop the second commandment? Because there is a lot of business in making statues.(30)
NARRATOR Though the Scriptures were clear, the traditions of the Church were followed.
PRIEST Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
PEOPLE Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
NARRATOR The hundred years preceding the Second Vatican Council have been called the Marian Century. During this period, the Catholic Church developed many new doctrines concerning Mary. Never in Catholic history has anything been seen like it.(31)
Most significant was Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of the Immaculate Conception issued in 1854.
Many Catholics do not understand the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Even fewer realize that it contradicts Scripture.
CATHOLIC MAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET That is the doctrine that says basically that the Blessed Virgin Mary became with child, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Ghost.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET The fact that God impregnated Mary to have Jesus without having carnal sex, carnal intercourse.
VICTOR AFFONSO – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST Most people, even Catholics, do not understand this doctrine. It has nothing to do with the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. All Catholics believe, all Christians believe that it was a virgin birth. Jesus’ father was not a man.
But the Immaculate Conception is that Mary, when she was young, when she was conceived in her mother’s womb, did not have the stain of original sin.(32) That means that she was saved already, before she was at the point of conception, so she never had sin. She was sinless.(33)
That’s not what Scripture says. Only Jesus was without sin. “And everyone has sinned and comes short of the glory of God.”(34)
WILMA SULLIVAN – FORMER SISTER OF MERCY Mary was a sinner. Mary herself said she was a sinner in Luke, the first chapter, in her Magnificat where she stated, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”(35) Mary herself said she needed a savior.
BOB BUSH – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST “All have sinned, and all have fallen short of the glory of God.”(36) All have fallen. Yet the Catholic Church defined that Mary was conceived without sin.
NARRATOR The Pope’s proclamation that Mary never sinned raised other questions. If, as the Bible says, “the wages of sin is death,”(37) and Mary never sinned, did she ever die? If she died, did her body decay in the grave?
Everyone wanted to know, but both the Scriptures and Catholic tradition were silent. Four hundred bishops and eighty thousand priests and members of religious orders sent Rome requests for an answer. Eight million lay Catholics also signed petitions.(38) Finally, in 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed that God took Mary bodily into heaven. This doctrine is known as the Assumption of Mary.(39)
Bart Brewer was a Carmelite priest, an order devoted to Mary.
BART BREWER – FORMER DISCALCED CARMELITE PRIEST The Perpetual Virginity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Assumption of Mary, and so on, and so forth. These are mandatory teachings. These are said to be of divine law. The Catholic people may not reject those teachings. If they do, there’s what they call an anathema. There’s a curse for any Roman Catholic who would reject an official dogma regarding Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.
Catholic priests will be honest in telling us that indeed this teaching has no foundation in Scripture.
NARRATOR And what is the source of the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption?
FATHER JOHN BOYLE, S.J. – CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN You don’t see anything definitive in Scripture on that. But you find a kind of basis. But I would say the doctrine of the Assumption has its origin in the piety of the people down through the centuries.
NARRATOR When the religious practices of the people become the source of doctrine, popular sentiment is elevated to divine revelation.(40) Distortion of truth now becomes inevitable. The Biblical accounts of Mary present her as a humble, faithful servant of God.
But Catholic tradition has confused her position with that of Christ himself.(41) Mary has allegedly appeared to many in the uncharacteristic role of promoting herself.
In 1917, she appeared at Fatima.(42) There she announced, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my immaculate heart. My immaculate heart will be your refuge and the way to lead you to God.”(43)
This shrine to the immaculate heart of Mary recently was erected in Santa Clara, California, to promote devotion to Mary’s immaculate heart.(44)
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET I feel, whenever I have a problem that I am praying, I feel that if I talk to Mary, she would have more sympathy with me.
And she can understand my motives if I feel I have done something wrong, better than Jesus could or God. You know, she is kind of like the mediator for me.
NARRATOR This ad is from the Catholic Standard and Times.(45) “He hasn’t said no to her in 2000 years. What would you have her ask him?”
FATHER RICHARD CHILSON, C.S.P. – CATHOLIC PRIEST Now, if you will allow me to get a little personal here, I believe one of the, as I’ve spoken, one of the problems of the Western…, of world culture is the problem of patriarchy. Christianity and Judaism are heavily patriarchal religions.
One of the beauties of Catholicism is in her wisdom she has allowed the figure of Mary to balance the male hierarchy of God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit, which has also been made male in the Christian tradition.
And I believe that in some mysterious way, the figure of Mary who comes out of the New Testament, who comes out of the Old Testament wisdom literature, which is part of the Catholic Scriptures, but not necessarily part of the Protestant Bible, balances and gives a feminine dimension to God that is missing in a purely Biblical Christianity.
NARRATOR The Catholic Church declares that Mary is the mediator of all grace.(46)
FRANK EBERHARDT – FORMER SEMINARIAN This is the Baltimore Catechism, a basic teaching unit in the Catholic Church. One that I learned from and we taught from in seminary.
The picture shows Christ on the cross, as head of the Church. And from his side is flowing blood.
This blood is flowing to the primary sacrament called the Eucharist. And from the Eucharist is dispensed forgiveness of sin, the reception of Jesus Christ personally into the lives of Roman Catholic people, and such.
And then from that sacrament is…, the blood is continuing to the flow through the hands of Mary. Mary is the dispenser, the final dispenser, of all grace in Roman Catholicism.
And we have seven sacraments depicted. These each themselves are said to dispense grace to the people.
MARY KRAUS – FORMER FRANCISCAN SISTER This picture really grieves me. That people would have to go through the Church and through Mary to receive the grace that Christ earned on Calvary is so contrary to Biblical doctrine, and it is just wrong. The Church here is making the grace of Christ less accessible, not more accessible to people.
Christ is the one mediator between God and man.(47)
BOB BUSH – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST So here we have an example of someone in Scripture, Mary, who was a very beautiful person and a model of Christian life, as you know, in her faith-walk with the Lord, and it gets distorted off into a tradition, a definition, a dogmatic definition that contradicts Scripture.
NARRATOR According to the Catholic Church, God created Adam and Eve with a divine life in their souls called grace. This grace was lost when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, and the gates of heaven slammed shut.
Christ restored this grace by dying on the cross. Once again the gates of heaven swung open. Christ had done his part, now man must cooperate by doing his. What is man’s part?
Central to his many responsibilities in achieving salvation are the seven sacraments. Each sacrament provides a different blessing.
Baptism is the first sacrament received. It cleanses all sin, brings rebirth into the life of grace, and makes the infant a member of the Roman Catholic Church.(48) Parents are responsible to see that their newborn infant is baptized as soon as possible.
PRIEST Peter, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
NARRATOR Confirmation grants special strength from the Holy Spirit to avoid temptation and to defend the Catholic faith.
The Sacrament of Matrimony provides help to the couple for married life.
The Catholic remains in the life of grace unless he commits a mortal sin such as immorality, drunkenness, or failing to attend Mass each Sunday. These mortal sins are punishable by eternal separation from God.
Mortal sins must be confessed to a priest. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest grants absolution as he recites the formula:
PRIEST Through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
NARRATOR The priest receives the power to absolve sins and celebrate the Mass through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
The Last Sacraments prepare the soul for passage through death. The family calls the priest to administer Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Communion.
The condition of the soul at the moment of death will determine the eternal destiny of the Catholic. Those who die out of grace will spend eternity in hell.
While those who die in a state of grace will go to heaven, most must first suffer in purgatory. There the person pays for past confessed sins as well as unrepented venial sins like minor lying or anger which the Church considers less serious.
This burden is carried by the entire family as they realize they can shorten the time of their deceased loved one in purgatory by offering up their own good works and sufferings. The Mass is a particularly effective offering.
BOB BUSH – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST And that is why Catholics have Masses said for people. They would come into a parish, and they will give some money. They will have a Mass said for their deceased relatives.
But when you search through the Scriptures, you go all the way through, you know, through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, all the way down to the Book of Revelation, you go all the way through, and you won’t find it. There is no purgatory in there.
NARRATOR Though a mandatory belief,(49) many Catholics are confused about the doctrine of purgatory.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET I never think of purgatory. I think of it as an outdated idea. I don’t know what it means.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET I have very mixed feelings on that. I am not awfully sure. I have deceased members of my family. I just hope that they have actually gone on to heaven immediately rather than waiting for the time that they earn their way into heaven or someone prays them into heaven as we have been taught when we were little kids.
NARRATOR Can someone else really pray them in, or a person earn his way into heaven?
FRANK EBERHARDT – FORMER SEMINARIAN The problem with that, of course, is that the Scripture nowhere says that we can pay for our own sins. We cannot work for them. In fact, in Ephesians, chapter two, verses eight and nine, we’re told, “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
So we could never pay for our own sins. We’re given that gift, a full payment by Jesus Christ. Another problem with purgatory is that it implies Christ was not able to pay the full penalty for our sins. And yet the Scripture says that in the one-time death of Christ, he not only made us Christians, but he paid the full ransom for our sin.(50)
NARRATOR But have Catholics been taught this simple truth?
New York City: gathering point for people from around the world.
We asked Catholics what they thought they must do to get to heaven.
INTERVIEWER How is it that you hope to get into heaven?
CATHOLIC MAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET By trying to live a clean and decent life, I guess.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET Well, just, you know, by being a good Catholic and being nice to one another. Doing my best. Hopefully that will get me there.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET You obey the Ten Commandments, I think, and you have got a pretty good chance. You can’t go wrong with the Ten Commandments.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET By following my conscience, and believing in God, and doing well and good.
CATHOLIC MAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET By treating people properly. Be fair to everyone.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET Going though Christ is going through Mary. So as a woman you have to follow Mary’s way to go through Christ.
CATHOLIC MAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET I don’t know. Just behaving myself.
CATHOLIC MAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET Do good. Go to confession. Go to church and treat your neighbors as good as you can.
CATHOLIC MAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET I go to the sacraments every weekend, every Sunday.
NARRATOR Catholic Priest William J. Cogan provides a good summary of the Catholic way to heaven in his book A Catechism for Adults.
What is necessary to be saved?
The answer provided in the catechism lists eight requirements:(51)
obedience to the commandments,
and remaining in grace until death.
FRANK EBERHARDT – FORMER SEMINARIAN The Scripture never speaks of anything like this. In fact, the Philippian jailer, who in fear for his life asking Paul, “What must I do to be saved?,” Paul’s reply was very simple, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”(52)
BART BREWER – FORMER DISCALCED CARMELITE PRIEST The Catholic Gospel, the Roman Catholic Gospel, absolutely is a gospel of works.(53)
NARRATOR If salvation is by works, how much work do you have to do? Does the average Catholic think he will make it to heaven?
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET Well, let’s hope that God will take into consideration that you have done more good than bad, and therefore you are worthy of getting into heaven.
CATHOLIC MAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET Well, I got a lot of work to do, myself.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET I don’t think so. Not right now.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET I am not sure that whatever I have done in the past could ever be reconciled. But, I mean, there is nothing horrible either. I am not a murderer or something like that. But I think that hopefully with more good that I have done than the few bad can weigh it out.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET I don’t know. But I hope. I try. I am trying all the life to go there when I die. But I am not sure if my life, how it has been.
NARRATOR Bart Brewer recalls his attempts as a Carmelite monk to try to merit salvation.
BART BREWER – FORMER DISCALCED CARMELITE PRIEST But we would whip ourselves or flagellate ourselves to mortify the body.
And then we had to get special permission to wear this, this belt. This, now this is Saint Elmo’s belt. And the, this goes around, this would go around my, my waist or my, my thigh, or my leg.
And the purpose of these mortifications, whether it was to sleep on a bed of plywood, or take the vows, or whatever, the purpose was basically to expiate sin, to atone for sin.(54)
WILMA SULLIVAN – FORMER SISTER OF MERCY I entered the convent with a sincere desire to serve God and man. I came to realize that it’s not sincere…, it’s not sincerity that’s going to get us to heaven. It’s not our good works. It’s not by righteousness which we can do.(55)
VICTOR AFFONSO – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST What saves you is your faith in Christ Jesus.(56) And it’s the gift of God.
DOREEN D’ANTONIO – FORMER SISTER OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY Someone has once mentioned that God has done 99%, and we have 1% left to finish. That is totally false. The Lord did it all. Whatever we do does not amount to anything.(57)
MARY KRAUS – FORMER FRANCISCAN SISTER I must first acknowledge I really cannot save myself. That no matter what I do, I am going to fall far short of the perfection that God would expect.
But Christ was perfect, and so I need to trust in him and lean entirely on him and him alone. He earned all. He earned my salvation on the cross.(58)
FRANK EBERHARDT – FORMER SEMINARIAN I was taught to go to Jesus through the sacraments, to go to Jesus through the saints, to go to Jesus through the priest. What I am saying that is different now is that as a Christian I can personally go to Christ. I have asked him to be my savior and forgive my sins, to pay the penalty that I could never pay.
BART BREWER – FORMER DISCALCED CARMELITE PRIEST Our dear Catholic people don’t understand the true person and work of Jesus Christ. He is not personal Lord and Savior. So as a result there’s a vacuum. And I think the Catholic Church tries to tell its people that this, this vacuum can be satisfied by participating, you know, in the seven sacraments. So instead of a dynamic personal walk and talk with the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s ritual and ceremony, which create the impression that indeed the Catholic people know Christ the Savior. However, they don’t, by the very nature of Roman Catholicism.
NARRATOR Despite the teachings of the Church, some Catholics have learned that salvation is by faith alone.
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET I feel like as long as you believe in Jesus, and that is all he asks you to do, then you’ll be going to heaven.
INTERVIEWER And what do you have to believe about him?
CATHOLIC WOMAN INTERVIEWED ON THE STREET That he died for you. That he forgives your sins if you believe in him. And that is all he asks.
NARRATOR This woman was the only one of two dozen Catholics we interviewed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral who seemed to understand God’s simple plan of salvation.
Is it only the laity who have been misled? While still a Jesuit priest, Victor Affonso was troubled that the Catholic Church was not teaching the true gospel. He discussed the matter with a prominent Catholic scholar only to realize the priest himself did not understand. Finally, Victor asked the priest what he thought the gospel was. The priest’s reply?
VICTOR AFFONSO – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST “To love one another.”
I said that’s the fruit. That you love one another. What’s the good news, Father?
He never knew the good news! He wouldn’t say the good news is that we are all heading for hell, and that when Jesus came and died on the cross by the precious blood, when we believe in him, we are saved. We have eternal life.
They won’t say it. Why? Not because they are against Jesus. He does not know it! And he is a Scripture scholar.
NARRATOR The Scriptures are clear, but the errors persist.
The Sacrifice of the Mass continues despite Christ’s last words on the cross, “It is finished!”(59)
Statues are treated as sacred though the Ten Commandments forbid both making and bowing down to them.(60)
Mary is proclaimed mediator of all grace despite the New Testament’s teaching that there is one mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus.(61)
And the people are taught that they must work for salvation though the Scriptures clearly state that salvation is “by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”(62)
Many modern Catholics have chosen to ignore certain doctrines of the Church which they consider to be out of date. A common misconception is that the Second Vatican Council changed many of these dogmas.(63)
BART BREWER – FORMER DISCALCED CARMELITE PRIEST Vatican II made no doctrinal changes. In other words, no, there was a change of image, but no change of substance. There’s a principle Rome promotes semper idem. It means “always the same.” In other words, her basic dogmatic teachings can never change. There has been a change of, there’s been redefinition and restructuring of Catholic theology, but there has been no substantive, no radical change of Catholic dogma, because that would destroy Roman Catholicism.
NARRATOR While no doctrinal changes were made, the Second Vatican Council did change the position of the Church in relationship to non-Christian religions.(64)
It affirmed that people of all religions “form one community” and that “the Church respects the spiritual, moral, and cultural values of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.”(65) Dialogue and collaboration were encouraged.
FATHER RICHARD CHILSON, C.S.P. – CATHOLIC PRIEST I myself am engaged in a Ph.D. in Majayana Buddhism. My specialty in that is Tibetan Buddhism.
I chose Buddhism because it seemed to be as contrary to Christianity as it was possible to be.
Buddhists do not believe in God. Buddhists do not believe in a soul. What I have discovered instead, through my studies of Buddhism, is that in spite of the doctrines, the myths, that seem to contradict one another, the reality behind those doctrines and myths seems to be the same.
NARRATOR Catholic publishers seem to agree and have produced numerous books designed to enrich Catholic spirituality with eastern religion.
A Taste of Water: Christianity through Taoist-Buddhist Eyes(66) was co-authored by a priest and a nun.
Love Meets Wisdom: A Christian Experience of Buddhism(67) written by a Jesuit priest.
And Buddhist Emptiness and Christian Trinity(68) which shows how Buddhist-Christian dialogue has gone beyond mutual understanding to mutual transformation.
Pope John Paul II personally took the initiative to unite the leaders of the world’s religions for a prayer summit at Assisi, Italy, in 1986.
They came from around the world. Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, and Jews. Moslems from nine nations sang from the Koran. Buddhism’s Dalai Lama, traditionally regarded as a living deity, chanted rhythmically. American medicine men called on the Great Spirit. Animists from Africa, Hindus, Zoroastrians.
“We will stand side by side asking God to give us peace.”(69) With that papal invitation, 160 leaders from the religions of the world gathered to petition God.
While toleration for the cultures of others is commendable, this summit treated all religions as equally valid: an endorsement without precedent in the history of Christianity.(70)
But what do the Scriptures say?
BOB BUSH – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST There’s only one person who took our sins away. My sins and your sins. There’s only one person who did that, and that’s Jesus. Buddha didn’t do it. The Hindu religions didn’t do it with Shiva. Confucius didn’t do it. No one did it. The Moslem religion doesn’t do it. They don’t have a savior who takes away the sins of the world. They don’t have that. That’s why Scripture says there’s only one way.(71)
NARRATOR Why has Catholicism departed from Biblical Christianity? Because it has elevated tradition, the teaching of the Church, to the position of the Scripture and even above it.
The New Testament describes Christianity as the faith which was delivered once and for all through Christ and the Apostles.(72) But Catholicism has continued to add new doctrines to the Catholic faith from the traditions of men.
The belief that the nature of the bread changed at the Mass was not added to official doctrine until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. This was the first time the Church sanctioned the Theory of transubstantiation.(73)
Purgatory was declared doctrine in 1274.(74)
The Immaculate Conception in 1854.(75)
Papal Infallibility, 1870.(76)
The Assumption of Mary, 1950.(77)
And the Declaration on Non-Christian Religions, October 28, 1965.(78)
The Second Vatican Council made it clear that the Catholic Church will continue to rely on Tradition:
“It is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.”(79)
FRANK EBERHARDT – FORMER SEMINARIAN I had a problem with this, especially when I began to read the Scripture for myself. I could see the Scripture saying one thing, and tradition saying another. And this again caused for me problems, a crisis you might call it, to where I had a hard time accepting what the Church would say when I could clearly see Christ in Scripture saying something different.
BOB BUSH – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST The Catholic Church claims that there is no conflict, there is no problem. But there are lots of conflicts and there are lots of problems. There are many, many examples of this, of infallibly defined doctrines and dogmas that actually contradict what is already in Scripture.
NARRATOR This conflict between Scripture and Tradition was at the heart of the Reformation during the Middle Ages.
PROSECUTOR “Dr. Luther, yesterday you admitted these writings were yours. Will you tell us now, do you persist in what you have written here, or are you prepared to retract these writings and the beliefs they contain.”
MARTIN LUTHER I ask pardon if I lack the manners that befit this court. I was not brought up in kings’ palaces, but in the seclusion of a cloister. I am asked to retract these writings….
NARRATOR Protestant critics? Not exactly. The leaders of the Reformation were all Catholic priests and theologians.
NARRATOR Catholic theologian John Wycliffe was one of the first. His troubles started when he began to teach that the Bible is the only source of truth. Rome silenced him. Forty-four years after his death, they exhumed his bones and burned them because of his departure from Roman authority.
In 1415, Catholic priest and theologian of the University of Prague, John Huss, was burned at the stake. His crime? He also had made the Holy Scriptures his only rule in matters of religion and faith.
After sixteen years as a priest, Swiss reformer Huldreich Zwingli broke with the Catholic Church when he could no longer put tradition on the same level as the Holy Scriptures.
John Calvin was studying for the priesthood when he experienced a spiritual conversion. He left the Church shortly thereafter.
Martin Luther was an Augustinian priest and professor of theology at the Catholic University of Wittenberg. He objected to representatives of the pope selling pardons from purgatory in order to finance the building of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Luther made a list of 95 reasons why this was wrong and nailed it to the Church door at Wittenberg.
Luther’s writings helped form the three guiding principles of the 16th century call for reform.
The Bible is the only source of authoritative truth for salvation.
Man is saved by God through faith alone.
Every believer has direct access to God through Jesus Christ alone.
When ordered to recant, Luther responded, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.” He narrowly escaped with his life.
These men were all loyal Catholics whose attempts to reform their Church and return it to Biblical Christianity were met with vigorous opposition from their superiors.
The problem is an old one.
While walking through a grain field on the Sabbath, the Lord Jesus also clashed with the religious leaders of his day over tradition. The apostles were picking heads of grain and eating them.(80)
Additionally, when they ate their bread, they did not ceremonially wash their hands as prescribed by the rabbis. In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Mark, we read that the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Jesus, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders?”(81)
Jesus was not intimidated. He rebuked the religious leaders for elevating the teaching of the rabbis to the same level of authority as God’s Holy Scriptures. He accused them of teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. He could not obey the traditions of the elders without disobeying the written Word of God. He chose to obey God rather than men. Many Catholics today are making that same choice.
WILMA SULLIVAN – FORMER SISTER OF MERCY I had the decision to make who I was going to follow. Was it going to be a man, who could make mistakes, or was it going to be God, who could not lie to me?
VICTOR AFFONSO – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST But I had to leave for one purpose. And that is I found that the Catholic Church, in its doctrines and infallible doctrines [which] were called the dogmas, had perverted and changed the Word.
BART BREWER – FORMER DISCALCED CARMELITE PRIEST I left the Roman Catholic Church and forsaked the Roman Catholic priesthood, by God’s grace, strictly for theological reasons. For doctrinal reasons.
DOREEN D’ANTONIO – FORMER SISTER OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY I came to realize that the Catholic Church does not have the correct doctrine. They did not have what I needed in my life.
BART BREWER – FORMER DISCALCED CARMELITE PRIEST Many, many thousands, maybe millions, of Catholic people leave because of theology. They have, they started to re-examine Roman Catholic premises or teachings in light of God’s Holy Word.
WILMA SULLIVAN – FORMER SISTER OF MERCY I love them. I love the people. But I’m sorry that the doctrines that they so cling to are not according to what God has said is necessary to get to heaven.
FRANK EBERHARDT – FORMER SEMINARIAN Because of the teaching of tradition, Christ has become de-emphasized. You have Mary in a prominent place. She’s held up as ever virgin and sinless even as Jesus Christ himself is. You have saints, who are much holier than we are, who are in heaven, that can pray for us. You have other symbols in Catholicism that take the place of Jesus Christ, or at least de-emphasize the work of Jesus Christ for Catholic people.
I think a reason why Catholicism isn’t working today and it is in crisis is because there is a lack of belief in the Gospel itself.
VICTOR AFFONSO – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST Many of you will say, well, we’ve been a long time in the Catholic Church, and we’ve had enough of Jesus: all this kneeling down and going for Sunday Mass and receiving Jesus in Communion and all. Brothers and sisters, that is not Jesus.
NARRATOR It is not Jesus, and it is not the message inspired by the Holy Spirit as recorded in the Scriptures. The Catholic way of salvation is a false hope, for it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in the New Testament.
God warns us of those who would come and preach another Jesus, a different Spirit, and a different Gospel.(82)
Disenchanted with Catholic teaching, many have finally turned to the Bible for help. These Catholics were surprised by what they discovered.
FORMER CATHOLIC – WOMAN That grace was something that you could not earn. And that surprised me, because I was…, always thought in the Catholic Church you would earn grace by going to church and going to confession.
FORMER CATHOLIC – MAN And all the time I thought it was in church, or, you know, going to Mass, or doing penance, or just doing, being good. But I didn’t realize that it’s accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and through his blood that you’re saved.
FORMER CATHOLIC – WOMAN That he was the one that came to take all the sins, even mine, which I thought I never was good for anything. He died for me.
FORMER CATHOLIC – WOMAN He came because I needed a savior, and that there was no other way I could get to heaven. And when he was on the cross, he had me personally in mind. I’ll always remember being completely overwhelmed with that thought: that he had my name in his mind.
NARRATOR John and Jane Delisi received eternal life while studying the First Epistle of John. Jane was a teacher in the Catholic parochial school system.
FORMER CATHOLIC – JANE DELISI There was a verse there that says that you can know that you can have eternal life.(83) And I was very, very confused and puzzled, because I couldn’t understand how I could really know that I could have eternal life.
FORMER CATHOLIC – JOHN DELISI We found out that the work of Jesus Christ alone was sufficient for me to get to heaven. And it was nothing that I did, but it was all that he did. And it was trusting in him and his finished work on the cross.
NARRATOR Each of these individuals has since left the Catholic Church.
BOB BUSH – FORMER JESUIT PRIEST It’s not what we are leaving. It’s what we are getting into. It’s not what is behind us. I mean, it’s like when the pioneers came to the West. It’s not what they’re leaving behind. It’s what they’re coming to.
And we’re coming to a new life in Jesus. We’re coming into everlasting life. When Jesus died, and he saved me, and I receive that, that gives everlasting glory to God forever in all eternity. I will praise God for all eternity for having saved me.
DOREEN D’ANTONIO – FORMER SISTER OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY The Lord Jesus Christ is my all. That’s it. How can I…? He’s everything. My salvation.
FORMER CATHOLIC – WOMAN And when I think of him, I can just visually see myself dropping at his feet…, but also being torn in wanting to run to him, as if you…, as if you’ve been separated from a long, longtime friend, and you want to be with him. But that awe is so awe-inspiring.
And just the sense of never wanting to leave his presence. Wherever he goes, I want to be there. I can’t…, I can’t live without him.
CLOSING MUSIC: KEVIN DOYLE
The Master’s Call
Come out of her, my beloved,
Come and follow me.
Outside the camp,
Up to the hill,
The place called Calvary.
Like a beautiful flower that fades,
So the traditions of men;
But the Word of the Lord it stands for always,
For he is the guardian.
Trust only in the sacrifice,
Of God’s perfect lamb.
Believe and receive in this true hour,
Come into Emmanuel’s land.
Come out of her, my beloved,
Come and follow me.
Outside the camp,
Up to the hill,
The place of my victory.
Produced and Directed . . . . . . . James G. McCarthy Director of Photography . . . . . . Bob Grant Narrators . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fred Kosin, Jerry Edinger Editors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bob Grant, Bob Vernon Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kevin Doyle, Roger W. Torrey Mike and Nene Ehlert, David Crotzer Song: The Master's Call . . . . . . Kevin Doyle Production Sound. . . . . . . . . . Scott T. Norman Music Recordings, Eng.. . . . . . . Homebound Studios, Keith Cole Master Track Productions, Matthew Hague Illustrations . . . . . . . . . . . Paul Bosak, David J. FitzGerald Cover Illustration. . . . . . . . . Tom Miller Production Assistants . . . . . . . Joan Cola, Jeff and Pat Lanet Sharon Mecum, David Reeve, Andrew Ward Additional Film . . . . . . . . . . Martin Luther, Produced by the Lutheran Film Associates, Courtesy Gateway Films/Vision Video Newsreel and Photographs. . . . Archive Films Religious News Service Time Picture Syndication Reuters/Bettman Newsphotos Newsreel Announcer. . . . . . . Ed Herlihy Closed Captions . . . . . . . . . . National Captioning Institute
1. “The Brazilian Catholic church, for instance, has some 105 million members in a national population of some 130 million, the largest Catholic population of any country in the world, but only 12 percent of them attend Sunday mass. Of France’s 54.8 million people, 80 percent profess Catholicism as their religion, but only 10 percent are regular weekly worshipers at mass. In the United States, 51 percent of the country’s 52 million Catholics attended mass weekly in 1984…. In 1958, an estimated 74 percent of American Catholics could be found in the pews on a Sunday morning. The drop from 74 percent to 51 percent in twenty-six years’ time is precipitous, the more so because the decline was not gradual but began suddenly and dramatically only about fifteen years ago… In some places the drop in church attendance has been so sharp as to be nearly calamitous. A recent survey in the diocese of Brooklyn, for example, estimated that only 28 percent of those who call themselves Catholics attend mass regularly….” John Deedy, American Catholicism and Now Where?, (New York: Plenum Press, 1987), pp. 24-25.
2. “Only 13 percent of Catholics go to confession at least once a month, according to a 1988 survey. Nearly half of the laity surveyed said they rarely or never go. Although 41 percent of priests interviewed said they go to confession at least once a month, 44 percent said they go only once or twice a year.” The Tidings, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, June 8, 1990, p. 9.
“Bishops attributed the 25-year decline primarily to ‘a less pervasive sense of sin,’ which parishioners ranked seventh as a reason, along with alleged ‘general confusion over what is right or wrong.'” San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 26, 1990, p. B6.
3. “Catholics are bitterly angry at their leadership. Since the only way Catholics can vote on what is happening in the Church is through their contributions, they have expressed their anger by cutting their financial contributions (as a proportion of income) in half since 1960, thus costing the [U.S.] Church $7 billion a year in revenue.” Father Andrew Greeley, The Catholic Myth, (New York: Scribners, 1990), pp. 5-6.
4. “Money has become the most critical issue facing the church today, says pioneer fund- raiser Monsignor Joseph Champlin…. An NCR study of 75 of the nation’s 188 dioceses and archdioceses found at least a dozen showing deficits. It appears that between 10 and 20 percent of all U.S. dioceses are in the red. Still more are cutting back services or ministries to maintain balanced operating budgets.” The National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 2, 1990, p. 3.
5. In the Chicago archdiocese alone in 1990, “twenty-eight churches and 18 schools, including the nation’s largest high-school seminary were closed in response to a $28 million deficit.” National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 22, 1991, p. 4.
6. In 1990 there was only one diocesan priest for every 2,000 Catholics. By the year 2005, the ratio will be one priest for every 3,100 Catholics. The Tidings, June 15, 1990, p. 2.
By 2005, it is estimated that in America “thirty percent of all parishes will not have a resident priest.” Father George Fitzgerald, CSP, “Ask Me,” The Catholic Voice, Feb. 27, 1989.
8. The Catholic Priest in the U.S., report sponsored by the U.S. Catholic Conference, 1990.
11. “Since the beginning of his papacy in 1978, John Paul II has worried about the disintegration of his church’s unified front on doctrines and moral teachings. Catholic scholars were not only squabbling about birth control, they were publicly challenging everything from divorce to the Virgin Birth to papal powers. The campaign to clamp down on dissent has since become a hallmark of John Paul’s reign.” Richard N. Ostling, “Drawing the Line on Dissent,” Time Magazine, July 9, p. 62.
12. Father Andrew M. Greeley, “On the Margins of the Church: A Sociological Note,” America, March 4, 1989, pg. 194.
“The 15 percent defection rate of those raised Catholic and no longer Catholic has not changed in 30 years.” Father Andrew Greeley, “Sacraments Keep Catholics High on the Church,” National Catholic Reporter, April 12, 1991, pp. 12-13.
13. “Five million Hispanic Catholics have left the church in the United States in the past decade, according to the most recent Gallup Poll. Hispanics continue to leave at the rate of about 100,000 a year, said the Rev. Ricardo Chavez, spokesman for the California Catholic conference, the policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops.” The San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 28, 1990, p. 12A.
14. For a short discussion of some of the causes put forth for the present crisis refer to Father Richard P. McBrien’s two volume survey of Catholic belief and practice Catholicism (Minneapolis: Winston, 1980), pp. 13-14.
15. “The encyclical Humanae Vitae, issued in the summer of 1968, is the most important event of the last twenty-five years of Catholic history for two reasons. Unlike the changes of the Vatican Council, which had only marginal impact on the lives of the Catholic laity, the encyclical endeavored to reach into the bedroom of every Catholic married couple in the world. Moreover, in their response to it, many of the most devout Catholic laity (especially of Irish and Polish backgrounds) for the first time deliberately disobeyed the pope. The fact that they did so and were not greatly troubled afterwards prepared them for a future in which increasingly they would make their own decisions on moral and religious matters and yet continue to participate as active Catholics.” Father Andrew Greeley, The Catholic Myth (New York: Scribners, 1990), p. 91.
16. The bread wafer is referred to as the “Host.” This word comes from the Latin word for “victim.”
18. The Catholic Council of Trent declared that “in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really, and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ.” It cursed anyone who would say that Christ is present “only as in a sign or figure or force.” Session xiii, can. 1.
19. Commenting on the teaching of the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent Father John A. Hardon, S.J., writes, “…it was only logical for the Church to worship the Blessed Sacrament as it would the person of Jesus himself. As a result, he is to be adored ‘in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist with the worship of latria, including the external worship.’ Concretely this means that the Blessed Sacrament is to be ‘honored with extraordinary festive celebrations’ and ‘solemnly carried from place to place’ and ‘is to be publicly exposed for the people’s adoration.'” Father John A. Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1975), p. 463.
20. The Second Vatican Council stated, “At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again…. [The faithful] should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim….” Father Walter M. Abbott, S.J., ed., The Documents of Vatican II (New York: Guild Press, 1966), “The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,” sections 47-48.
24. The Catholic Council of Trent stated, “If anyone says the sacrifice of the Mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema (accursed).” Session xxii, can. 3.
27. The Hebrew word used here is shachah. It’s primary meaning is “to bow down.” Harris, Archer, Waltke, editors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1980), vol. ii, pp. 914-915.
29. The command of Exodus 20:4-5 is not listed as one of the Ten Commandments by the Catholic Church. Instead the Church considers it part of the first commandment, Exodus 20:2-3. Yet explanations of the first commandment in Catholic catechisms either completely ignore the prohibitions of Exodus 20:4-5, or brush them aside as not applicable to Catholic practices.
30. See Acts 19:23-41 for a similar situation which occurred in apostolic times.
31. Cf. Father John A. Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism (Garden City: Doubleday, 1975), p. 155.
32. In 1854, Pope Pius IX established the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in the bull Ineffabilis Deus: “the doctrine maintains that the Most Blessed Virgin, at the first instant of her conception, was preserved immune from all stain of original sin by a singular grace and privilege of the Almighty God in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, has been revealed by God, and therefore must be certainly and unalterably believed by all the faithful.”
33. “Exemption from original sin carried with it two corollary consequences: From the time of her conception, Mary was also free from all motions of concupiscence, and also (on attaining the use of reason) free from every personal sin during the whole of her life.” Father John A. Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism (Garden City: Doubleday, 1975), p. 158.
34. Romans 3:23
35. Luke 1:46-47
36. Romans 3:23
37. Romans 6:23
38. Cf. Father John A. Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism (Garden City: Doubleday, 1975), p. 160.
39. “The Catholic Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin, even in regard to her body, has been assumed into heaven. This truth can be proved neither from Scripture nor from the explicit testimony of the Fathers.” Father A. Tanquerey, A Manual of Dogmatic Theology (New York: Desclee, 1959), vol. ii, p. 104.
40. The visuals shown here are a rosary and a scapular. The scapular is made up of two pieces of cloth connected by strings. It is worn around the neck with one piece of cloth on the chest and the other on the back. The scapular shown was purchased from the Legion and Mary and includes on it the traditional promise to the wearer.
“According to Carmelite legend, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock in Cambridge in 1251 and, showing him a brown scapular, declared that whoever wore it until death would be preserved from hell and on the first Saturday after his death would be taken by her to heaven.” P.N. Zammit, “Scapulars,” The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 12, p. 1115.
41. In Catholicism Mary even shares Christ’s role as redeemer. She has been given the title of “Co-redemptrix.” “She cooperated in man’s salvation secondarily and dependently on Christ by consenting both to the Incarnation of the Word and to the death of Christ…. Also, she is associated in the work of the Passion and therefore of the Redemption: she stands at the cross, suffering along with the suffering Christ.” Father A. Tanquerey, A Manual of Dogmatic Theology (New York: Desclee, 1959), vol ii, pp. 108-109.
The Second Vatican Council stated, “In subordination to Him and along with Him, by the grace of almighty God she served the mystery of redemption. Rightly therefore the holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as cooperating in the work of human salvation through free faith and obedience. For, as St. Irenaeus says, she, ‘being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.’ Hence in their preaching not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert with him: ‘The knot of Eve’s disobedience was united by Mary’s obedience. What the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.'” Father Walter M. Abbott, S.J., ed., The Documents of Vatican II (New York: Guild, 1966), “The Dogmatic Consitution on the Church,” sec. 56.
42. “Three shepherd children, Lucia dos Santos (b. 1907) and her cousins Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta (1910-1920), said they saw the figure of a Lady brighter than the sun, standing on a cloud in an evergreen tree…. The bishop of Leiria (Oct. 13, 1930) [Fatima is a parish in this diocese of central Portugal] pronounced the 1917 visions at Cova da Iria [a natural depression in the parish of Fatima] worthy of credence and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Fatima. Thereafter, Lucia, as a Dorothean lay sister at Tuy (Spain), on episcopal command wrote her remembrances in documents dated 1936, 1937, 1941, and 1942, giving further details about the apparitions and the first public information about apparitions of an angel in 1915.” H.M. Gillett, “Fatima,” The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 5, pp. 885-886.
43. Article by Father John Sweeny, “Why a Statue to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?” distributed at the shrine.
44. There is considerable superstition surrounding devotion to Mary. A recent event which took place at this same shrine illustrates this point. It was reported in the San Jose Mercury News.
“A parish priest stepped into a metal basket connected to a mechanical arm on the back of a utility company’s truck. The cherry picker arm was extended and the Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. John Sweeney, was hoisted up near the top of the 32 foot tall statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that gazes over the commuters on Highway 101 in Santa Clara. He carried with him a small metal box with a padlock. Inside were the names of thousands of people with special requests, stored on microfilm. Then, as about 500 Catholics prayed below, he slipped the box into an alcove behind Mary’s heart. There it will rest for a year. “People feel like they’re close to the heart of God’s mother,” said Sister Mary Jean Kula, secretary for the Our Lady of Peace shrine and a teacher at the parish school. “‘By putting their intentions on microfilm, they feel she sees them from heaven and is going to listen to them.'” San Jose Mercury News, September 5, 1988, p. B1.
45. March 22, 1990, p. 17. Sponsored by the Marian Consortium of Catholic Lay Organizations in conjunction with The Knights of Columbus and The Legion of Mary in promotion of Philadelphia’s Rosary Congress.
46. “Mary is the universal mediatrix of grace, a secondary mediatrix and one dependent on Christ; universal, however, because no grace is dispensed without her intervention.” Father A. Tanquerey, A Manual of Dogmatic Theology (New York: Desclee, 1959), vol. II, pg. 109.
47. 1 Timothy 2:5
48. Cf. William J. Cogan, A Catechism for Adults (Youngtown, Az., Cogan Productions, 1975), p. 62.
49. “If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema (cursed).” Council of Trent, Session vi, can. 30.
50. Mark 10:45, Hebrews 10:18
51. “What is necessary to be saved? You have to be brought into spiritual contact with that saving death of Jesus by faith and Baptism and loyal membership in His Church, by love of God and neighbor proved by obedience to His commandments, by the other Sacraments especially Holy Communion, by prayer and good works and by final perseverance, that is preserving God’s friendship and grace until death.” Father William J. Cogan, A Catechism for Adults (Youngtown, Az.: Cogan Productions, 1975), p. 50.
52. Acts 16:30-31
53. The Council of Trent dogmatically stated the Catholic position as follows: “If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of its increase, let him be anathema (cursed).” Session vi, can. 24
54. This is clearly stated by Father A Tanquerey, former Professor of Theology at Old St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, in his text book A Manual of Dogmatic Theology (New York: Desclee, 1959), vol. ii, p. 80. “Christ’s satisfaction is of infinite value and power. However, de facto punishment is not removed unless the reparations of Christ are applied to us: but this actually happens through the Sacraments and through the Sacrifice of the Mass, and also through faith which works by means of love.
“Although the reparation of Christ in itself was perfect and universal, it is necessary for adults to imitate the suffering Christ and to make satisfaction with Him for their sins, if they wish to be saved. This statement is certain; it contradicts the declaration of the Protestants that faith alone is sufficient in order that the reparation and merits of Christ be applied to us.
“In Scripture Christ clearly states that no one is saved unless he takes up his cross; St. Paul teaches that we cannot be crowned unless we suffer with Christ. Therefore, although Christ’s passion is complete in itself, it must be made complete by us since, as His members we must be fashioned after Him, our Head.
“According to reason, an adult must prepare himself for justification by various acts and must persevere in the state of grace. But all this presupposes the cooperation of each individual in expiating his own sins and in persevering in good.”
55. Cf. Romans 3:9-25, Titus 3:4-7
56. Cf. Romans 10:9-10
57. Cf. Isaiah 53:4-6
58.Cf. 1 Peter 1:18-19
59. John 19:30
60. Exodus 20:4-5
61. 1 Timothy 2:5
62. Ephesians 2:8
63. Pope Paul VI saw the Second Vatican Council as “following in the footsteps of the Councils of Trent and of First Vatican” and “furthering the work begun by the Council of Trent.” Father Walter M. Abbott, S.J., ed., The Documents of Vatican II (New York: Guild, 1966), pp. 111, 456.
64. “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions”
65. These quotes are from a summary of the “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” by Father Robert A. Graham, S.J. He provides a fascinating account of the development of this document at the Second Vatican Council. Father Graham considers it “perhaps the most dramatic story of the Council.” It is found in the introduction to the document in the translation edited by Walter M. Abbot, S.J., The Documents of Vatican II (New York: Guild, 1966), pp. 656-659.
66. Father Thomas G. Hand, S.J. and Sister (Agnes) Chwen Jiuan A. Lee of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (New York: Paulist, 1990).
67. Father Aloysius Pieris, S.J. (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1988).
68. Roger Corless and Paul F. Knitter, editors (New York: Paulist, 1990).
69. L’Osservatore Romano, English version of the official Vatican newspaper, Oct. 27, 1986, pg. 1.
70. “The Pope’s audience was aware that Assisi symbolically went well beyond the ceremonial friendship accorded other faiths by any previous Pontiff. The assemblage included not only monotheists but believers in creeds once labeled ‘heathen’ and ‘pagan’ by a church that for centuries had preached unambiguously that there was no salvation outside its walls. The astonishing variety of the invited group also raised suspicions among some Christians that Assisi represented a heretical step toward syncretism, the amalgamation of various conflicting religions.” Richard N. Ostling, “A Summit for Peace in Assisi,” Time Magazine, Nov. 10,1986, p. 78.
71. John 14:6
72. Jude 3, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, Ephesians 2:20
73. The Roman Council of 1079 refers to the bread and wine as “substantially changed,” but the doctrine was still under development. “By the 13th century the doctrine had achieved an adequate formulation, well exemplified in the incisive summary of Thomas Aquinas…. From the 12th century on, ‘transubstantiation’ and ‘transubstantiate’ appear frequently in ecclesiastical documents. The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 and the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 use the term in brief expositions of the doctrine. A more ample explanation is given by the Council of Florence in 1439.” C. Vollert, “Transubstantiation,” The New Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: McGraw Hill, 1967), vol xiv, p. 259.
74. The Second Council of Lyons.
75. December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX’s bull Ineffabilis Deus.
76. The First Vatican Council was the first to declare, “It is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith and morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed his church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions are therefore irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.” Dogmatic Constitution I on the Church of Christ, iv.
77. November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII’s Munificentissimus Deus.
78. The Second Vatican Council.
79. The Second Vatican Council, “The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation,” section 9.
80. Mark 2:23-28
81. Mark 7:1-13
82. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4
83. 1 John 5:13
Catholicism: Crisis of Faith
James G. McCarthy
(©) Copyright 1991
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