My wish list for Catholics is terribly old-fashioned and terribly
assertive. There’s hardly space here to defend my positions or thoroughly
critique the Catholic position, so this may end up sounding like a drive-by
shooting or a childish tantrum. I trust that I can formulate my wish list with
enough calmness that it doesn’t turn it into a bitch list.
Who in their right mind thought it a good idea to give protestants and
other dissadents the right to make demands of the Church? #Synod15… I’m just …well sort of kidding.
I want the Pope to give up his claim to infallibility. In our day,
the Papacy stands as a global symbol of Christian faith, and popes of recent
decades have been among the greatest Christian leaders of recent history. The
Pope is a universal teacher, a stout defender of Christian morals, a living
icon of charity, a father to princes and presidents.
Wait so you like him acting as a universal teacher, but to teach
what? When you don’t agree then its just
up to each individual to dissent? So
when the Holy Spirit revealed that they would be lead into all truths… I guess
Baptists and Lutherans are ok in disagreeing on the importance and necessity of
Baptism. But then again who am I to
judge. Plus, in regards to morals, who is standing for morals when they are
changing? Lets be real protestants only
stand for morals when they can be seen in the public square. They frown on bolemia but are giddy to
support contraception. Note both are
disorders with obvious ends that are not founded in truth. And I’m not going to get into the Anglicans/Episcapalians
that run from the abortion issue (Can anyone say “first among equals” for
Welby? How’s that working out?)
None of that makes him a
definer of dogma.
He knows that is not an argument used but the praxis employed.
No matter how narrowly tailored papal infallibility may be, it is
theologically and historically unfounded, as Lord Acton knew.
So Lord Acton was infallible in his defining of the papacy not being
I want the Pope to give up his claim to exclusive primacy. Why not
be content with being primus inter pares among the ancient
Note: The office was not made by man and therefore cannot be changed in
its essence by man. And again see Welby,
hows that working again?
Suppose Peter was the first Bishop of Rome: Didn’t he leave it to
Paul to lead the mission to the Gentiles?
So Peter refused to speak with Gentiles?
Isn’t that going beyond scripture?
What of Luke? Peter was not a
theologian like Paul was, and the Pope does not have a guarantee that knowledge
of theology will just be foisted upon him when he takes the chair. Plus Peter and Paul worked together because
Rome was the metropolis of its day. Plenty of room for Cephas to oversee with
the help of a great Apostle like Paul, who both founded the Roman Church and
both Choose Linus to succeed Cephas.
Besides, should we not be
open to the possibility that the center of Christian gravity will shift
dramatically in the future? In 3000 years, might not the Bishop of Beijing or
Lagos or Brasilia be the actual primate of the Church? In 10,000 years, will
Vatican-centered Christendom be anything more than a distant memory?
Note that was and continues to be the argument of the Eastern Orthodox
where Power is in constant flux with Constantinople still claiming authority
while Moscow references itself as the third Rome. As a side note, the Creed was not read in the
Latin rite for a long time because the Roman See was the only one that never
feel into formal heresy unlike the other Sees.
Catholics Should Give Up
I want Catholics to give up their sectarian exclusiveness. Jesus
and His Spirit are present in the suburban Bible church, the Chinese house
group, the Pentecostal assembly at one of Rio’s garbage dumps.
Well, your bread is still bread and your wine/grape juice/ water (Mormon joke)
is still such. Sure you have warm
feelings but that’s noting objective to hang your hat on.
The Son and Spirit have
promised to be wherever word is preached and bread broken, where disciples
strive together toward maturity in Christ.
Presuming that as Our Lord wished, “That they all might be one”. Plus who decides what a mature Christian is
or believes? Again empty words.
These assemblies are no less churches than the
congregation of St. Patrick’s.
Well someone missed out on reading the CDF letter on this which you can
find HERE. Basically, you don’t
have all seven sacraments, and you have no authority to speak on behalf of
Christ, no matter how warm your words make others feel.
Fellowship with Rome is not
the same as fellowship with Jesus;
“He who hears you hears me, he who despises you despises me.” Christ and
his Church are one. When there is an argument
among the faithful the final means are to take it to the Church (I’m confused
do we take it to any street corner preacher to give us his interpretation of
scripture?). If Christ founded His Church on Blessed Peter when to Peters successors
go the power of the keys. “The eye
cannot say to the hand I don’t need you.” Christ prayed singularly for Peter to
confirm his brothers, he made Peter the chief Shepard and changed his name as
he did with the other leaders throughout salvation history.
submission to Rome is not
the same as catholicity. Jesus and His Spirit do not observe Vatican protocols.
“Whatever you bind on Earth is Bound in Heaven, whatever you loose is
loosed.” By the way what protocals do
you reference? This is a weak attack
I want Catholics to stop spreading pious falsehoods about Mary.
Protestants have unjustly neglected Mary’s central role in the Bible and
redemption, but Catholic Marian dogmas are a cure worse than the disease. I
want Catholics to honor Mary by giving up inventions like the immaculate
conception and the assumption.
So you decide what is a falsehood?
Who gave you authority to speak for this catholic community that you
and CS Lewis are so fond of? There are reasons to believe in those dogmas, just
as there are reasons to call her “Mother of God”, a perpetual virgin and even –
dare I say it – Mediatrix of All graces. We only recognize what God makes
known, it is not for us to poo-poo Our Lady since she is our Mother in the
faith and the First and greatest Christian.
And if you do not cease speaking ill of our Lady it will not look good
for you on the last day for no Son will put up with evil being spoken of with
Failing that, I would be content if these speculations were
treated as speculative opinions rather than dogmas.
And who makes the decision what is opinion and is dogma? You?
Perhaps the Arians?
I want a Catholic to explain how Mary, a Jewish woman of the
first-century A.D., can simultaneously hear the appeals of millions of people
who speak dozens of languages that she never learned.
Since she is not in time and space she is not limited as such. Plus why would it be impossible for her to be
told by God in some way what people are asking prayers for? She desires one thing, God’s will, therefore
all she would need to do is pray that those that seek her intercession and
conform themselves to God’s will be granted such a grace… she is the Queen
mother after all… see Solomon and David.
I know Catholics don’t
believe Mary has become God, but that looks like something
only a God could manage.
But isn’t that a theological opinion and not founded in anything other then
your feelings that God is not interested in having both the living and those
that have passed to work together because we are one body?
I want Catholic theologians to give up the pretense that the dogma
of the Church has never changed. When they try to explain that nothing
substantive has changed between Trent and Vatican II, when they distinguish
between unchangeable doctrine and changeable formulations of doctrine, they
appear disingenuous. I prefer the old free church Independents, who eagerly
expected the Spirit to break out fresh light from Scripture.
So you want warm feelings… try Mormonism. But as far as Vatican II, it didn’t
proclaim anything new that was binding.
The texts are ambiguous, unlike Trent that is specific.
Worse, the premise of unchangeability makes it impossible for the
Church to repent of mistakes. Catholics don’t think Vatican I, for example,
will ever need to be overturned; it cannot be.
But that means either that there will never be full reunion
with Protestants and Orthodox, or that Catholic theologians
must find a way to massage Vatican I so that it doesn’t say what it manifestly
says. The possibility of saying “the church erred” is excluded in principle.
Or that you recognize your error and pride and repent by coming back into
communion with the only Church Christ founded… just saying.
When I attend Mass, I want Catholic priests to let me share the
Eucharist with my Catholic brothers. I want Catholics to accept my invitation
to celebrate Eucharist with me and my Protestant brothers, and give up any
doubts they might have that what we Protestants celebrate really is Eucharist.
The Eucharist is not a matter of warm feelings where you can feel like its
something while it is still not. Its
like you support people saying that they are women when they are really
men. The feeling is not watch
transubstantiates but the authority. An
authority you foolishly deny in your pride.
I want Catholics to give up veneration of the consecrated host and
other sacred objects.
And worship the podium and the doctor behind it? If that is Christ as he promised then
adoration is the proper action to take because it IS God. We venerate because some things are Holy and
in doing so we glorify God. Would
DiVinci complain that you were honoring the Mona Lisa too much? No, because it’s a part of his work that
gives him the ultimate honor in the end.
Jesus gave us His body and
blood to eat and drink, not to admire.
So you cant even gaze upon the host?
Really, what is this a third grade author? Puleeze you are looking foolish here.
Whatever Catholics think they are doing, to Protestants they
appear to be indulging a form of liturgical idolatry.
Well, if protestants are disordered whos fault is that… other then the
Bishops that refuse to help them see their error of course.
At the very least, they are
distracting from Jesus’ purpose for the Eucharist: “Take, eat; take, drink.”
Why is it an an either or case? Why
cant he spend time with the Actual presense of Christ. Then go to Mass and Adoration. Problem solved.
Everyone, Become More Catholic
My rants are typically directed against my own tribe of
conservative Protestants, and typically I am urging them to become more
Catholic: to acknowledge church authority, to cultivate sacramental piety, to
embrace the glories of the whole Christian tradition, to honor Mary and the
saints, to conform worship to the pattern of the ancient Church, which is
essentially the pattern of Scripture.
But who gave you this scripture and what authority did they determine the
Typically, I am urging
Protestants to receive Catholics and Orthodox as Christian brothers, which they
I am not contradicting myself when I rant against Catholics and
urge them to become Protestant. What I want above all, for both Catholics and
Protestants, is full reunion and reconciliation in the truth.
But truth is definitive and doesn’t change based on warm feelings. To reconcile in the truth we don’t run away
from it but learn to humbly accept Gods will before our own. Oneness based on a
ceasefire is no oneness but cowardice.
What I want is a Church
where the old names of Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or other, are discarded
so that we can all wear the old/new baptismal name: Father, Son, and Spirit.
And I want that because I am persuaded it is what Jesus wants.
So what of the oneness pentacostles then?
Or the Mormons. Are you the authority
to exclude them on the basis of their baptisms?
Peter J. Leithart is president of the Theopolis
Institute in Birmingham, Alabama,
and an adjunct senior fellow of New St. Andrew’s College in Moscow, Idaho. He
is the author of many books, most recently Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor) and Traces
of the Trinity (Baker). An ordained minister, he is a member of
Evangelical and Catholics Together.