A Giant Step

Backward.

Pope BenedictThe Pope reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s position as the only true Christian church, stating unequivocally that all other so-called “Christian” religions have defects. The fullness of grace and truth has been entrusted only to the Catholic church.

So basically, the Pose says: Screw the rest of you. You’re just shadows of the one true Christian church.

The document, entitled RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURCH, is very short and worth reading in its entirety. It consists of five questions and their answers. The answers to questions 2 and 3 are the ones that stir controversy, and certainly are what pisses me off. (and the response to question 1, which seems to have led to the reinstatement of the Latin Mass, is not far behind).

I’m not alone. Response to the release of this document, especially from other Christian churches, has been (he said, kindly) critical.

I don’t understand why my Church – the Church that I love – continues to believe that it is the center of the universe. How arrogant. How divisive.

Let’s see: The Catholic Church believes that the only way to salvation is through…the Catholic Church. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only 144 thousand Jehovah believers will be saved, I think. And there must be dozens of other Christian (and non-Christian) religions that also believe that their way is the only way to heaven.

Does all this exclusion mean that we are all destined for Hell? If so, then maybe it’s time I change my way of thinking and enjoy all of life’s vices while I can, because I too must be Hell-bound.

My Church and I are in disagreement. I’m not feeling very Catholic right now…

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4 Responses to A Giant Step

  1. faithfool says:

    “We’re right and we’re the only ones!” shout the Pope, the Baptist preacher, and the cult leader in unison across the trenches.

    Then, at Starbucks, in the classroom, in the lockerroom I hear, “All religions are equal.” Equally right, which means equally wrong, so live it up.

    What if there is a third option? What if all of us are wrong, but some of us are less wrong than others?

    Only one person has ever had it 100% right: Jesus. The only human who has ever had a true understanding of reality, of God, or of anything else. Hold on, He was God. The rest of us are finite and screwed-up. But Jesus offered to bring to God any who would follow Him.

    Christ saves, not any church, Roman Catholic or otherwise. For some of us, like my best philosopher friends, following Christ means becoming Roman Catholic. For others of us, it means becoming irreverent renegades. Or Bapitists.

    Different Christian groups, with their different emphases, offer different aspects of the truth about Christ and His teaching: love, grace, the awesomeness of God, the importance of His Word, loving the poor and the oppressed, community, tradition and history, and the reality of how messed-up we are all in this life, etc. If we only turn to our traditions, and not also to their Source, we’ll leave out important aspects of the Truth.

    I see in other religions aspects of the truth about God also: the peacefulness of Buddhism; the discipline of Islam; the wild diversity of Hinduism; the restful rituals of Judaism. But I see also important differences. In every case, God is either less of a Person (Buddhism and Hinduism), or less personal (Judaism without Christ; Islam). But do other religions lead to heaven? That is the difficult question facing all Christians today.

    I offer a strange possibility which should offend people on both sides of the debate. I think that we’re asking the wrong question. Does any religion lead to heaven? No.

    No religion leads to heaven. God leads to heaven. He does so through Christ, but many times the -ianity (or the -ians) gets in the way. Religion — our beliefs, our practices — these are all means to an end: Him. There are many false ways, some in and some outside of Christianity, but only one Shepherd. Many who have correct beliefs, but who did not trust Christ, will be in hell (James 2:19). Is it possible that many who have incorrect beliefs, but who trust Christ, will end up in heaven? I think so, for who among us can claim a 100% understanding of God? I am saved by Who I know, not by what I know. But is it possible to trust Christ without knowing that it’s Christ? I don’t know. But I need to love, listen, speak, and pray as if every moment counts toward that end.

    Take heart. The Catholics who know God the best are the most Catholic of all the Catholics. For this, they are to be commended, even if the Pope-thing seems a bit naive to me. Maybe you’ll feel more Catholic someday….

  2. Paul says:

    A very thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. Thank you

    BBD

  3. kimita says:

    The Pope’s comments/sentiment are exactly why I left the Catholic church more than six years ago. The church teaches a faith that is complete disagreement with the Bible! Let’s not talk about praying to Mary and other “saints.”

    Why do so many Catholics remain in the Catholic church when the church itself poses so many conditions upon receiving forgiveness from God? Is it comfort, familiarity, devotion? I know the Catholic family and friends I have aren’t truly Catholic because they don’t abide or follow the complete Cathecism nor partake in the regular sacrament of confession nor give up anything for Lent, on and on. So, why stay? I’m curious…

  4. Paul says:

    Kimita,

    I can only speak for myself in this regard, but I choose to stay in spite of the Church hierarchy, not because of it.

    Reason #1: Longevity. The Catholic Church has been, more or less, the same institution since the 4th century (and sure, there are many superficial changes but the basic tenets and beliefs are constant) and its teachings transcend societal change; it is still relevant and generally does not kowtow to societal change. That says something about its fundamentals.

    Reason #2: Practice: The Catholic Church has always bifurcated along the lines of the bishops and the priests. The bishops (including the Bishop of Rome) established a hierarchy and demanded that all priests obey this hierarchy. The priests, on the other hand, are privy to the needs of the people and for the most part established their parish in response to the community, not necessarily in response to Rome. The very best Catholic parishes are, in fact, walking the finest line because they so often are willing to “interpret the rules” for the good of the parish, which often means “in the spirit of” rather than “in the letter of”. I think that’s pretty cool.

    My parish will probably ride out this storm, as I will. I choose to stay because I am part of the community and it is with them that I feel the Spirit of God at work.

    BBD

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