The Roman Catholic Church
· What is the Catholic Church? (200)
The Catholic Church is a group of men organized by the Creator of All That Exists in order to fulfill His Purpose for our existence, which is the salvation of men’s souls.
· This sounds far-fetched. Isn’t the Church just a human organization, a purely manmade sociological phenomenon? (201)
Most definitely not. By virtue of a correct Baptism of Water and a right Profession of Faith, the men of this special group of people became members of the Creator’s Ecclesial Body --- of the Catholic Body of Jesus Christ, Who is the Second Person of the Triune Catholic Godhead & Creator of All That Exists, as are the other two persons of the Godhead. The Roman Catholic Church is thus supernaturally constituted.
· If the Church is a Body of Men, then what is Her Soul? (202)
The Soul of the Catholic Church is the Holy Spirit, Who is the Third Person of the Triune Catholic Godhead & also Creator of All That Exists.
· Where does God the Father fit into the picture? (203)
He is the begetter of the Catholic Church. Just as He eternally begets the Second Person of the Trinity --- Jesus Christ --- then, the Church being Jesus’ Ecclesial Body, so, too, does the Father beget the Roman Catholic Church. Nonetheless, just as Jesus did not possess His Human Body apart from the Act of Creation & a particular moment of time during the existence of this Creation --- wherein He was divinely conceived within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and later gave up His Life as a Bloody Sacrifice upon the Cross for the sins of wicked men --- so the Father, Who is the First Person of the Triune Catholic Godhead & Creator of All That Exists as well, does not beget Jesus’ Church Body eternally but only begat it at a certain point in our created time.
· I’m confused. Can’t you put it more simply? (204)
Should it be too much for you, then skip to the next questions for now.
· The Trinity makes no sense. How can you expect me to believe in it? (205)
If you really haven’t figured it out yet but haven’t closed your mind to the doctrine completely, wishing to know more, then look in Q&A for the section on the Trinity. I will post it as soon as I can.
· Why do you usually say ‘men’, instead of ‘men & women’ or a gender-neutral option, when talking about people in general? (206) 
This is a question regarding Feminism. Please look in the Q&A section that will address this issue.
· When you say the Creator made the Church for the salvation of men’s souls, what do you mean by ‘salvation’? (207)
‘Salvation’ is staying out of Hell and entering Heaven. See the section in Q&A about Salvation to learn more.
· Is there any other way to be saved? (208)
Absolutely not. Membership in the Roman Catholic Church is The Only Way, period.
· So every Catholic is going to be saved? (209)
No. Catholicism is a man’s exclusive hope for saving his soul; a Catholic must still obey God’s Commandments to be saved. Outside the Catholic Church, there is no Hope of Salvation.
· This sounds intolerant & narrow-minded. How am I supposed to take it seriously? (210)
The same way you take gravity seriously. Outside of an airplane or other flying contraption, no man high in the air without a parachute can hope to escape plummeting to the ground to his death.
Or, if you like, the same way you take respiration seriously. Outside of a submarine or some sort of diving equipment, a man cannot hope to escape drowning submerged too long underwater.
The conclusion is simple. We accept so-called ‘intolerance’ & ‘narrow-mindedness’ every single day in our lives when it comes to bodily survival. This is because God has created certain laws for material objects to follow, whether physically or biologically. Failure to take these laws into account will result in our bodies dying.
Now take the next step:
If God has established unavoidable laws for the behavior of material objects within His Creation, which impinge on the survival of our bodies, then why should we find it hard to believe that He has established similarly unavoidable laws for the fate of our souls?
· Yes, but how do you know that this is the case? (211)
Presuming you’re only asking a simple question, the answer is just as simple:
Because God has said so, and His Roman Catholic Church --- which is His Mouth upon the earth so that all men may know what He has said regarding the salvation of our souls --- has infallibly guaranteed it.
However, assuming you’re asking a more complicated question, the answer is a little more complex. It will involve going into detail about the subject of Epistemology, which is the study of knowledge (specifically, how one can know what he knows) and which you should see elsewhere in Q&A in order to comprehend the foundation of infallible certainty when it comes to that knowledge which is necessary to save one’s soul.
· So how does a man go about entering the Catholic Church, thereby gaining the hope of saving his soul? (212)
Provided you’re not too young to understand --- or prevented by a weak mind --- then you must learn all that the Roman Catholic Church teaches is necessary to know, believe, profess & obey in order to save our souls. This is called ‘catechism’. Then, having done this, and having given evidence by the conduct of your life that you’re serious about the Catholic Faith, you may be baptized correctly in water to be made, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a full-fledged member of the Catholic Body of Jesus Christ.
Someone too young to understand the Dogmas of Catholicism (or who, although old enough otherwise, lacks adequate intelligence) may be baptized without first being fully catechized, i.e., taught the doctrines of Roman Catholicism. E.g., this is the situation for a newborn baby. Nevertheless, that child must be taught the truths of the Catholic Religion as soon as he is able to learn. He must also learn to live the Catholic Faith rightly, obeying God’s Commandments.
· Isn’t this working for your salvation & hence unbiblical? (213)
This is a common complaint of Protestant heretics, especially nowadays of those Protestants who are best termed ‘conservative Evangelic’. It results from a lazy desire not to have to actually obey what God commands --- and from a cowardly desire not to have to face the consequences for your disobedience. It also results from ignorance. Evangelic Protestants try to justify their laziness & cowardice by misinterpreting the Bible. They handily ignore those verses that plainly say how one must actually obey God to inherit Heaven and pay for lack of obedience by suffering in Hell, focusing instead solely on verses that don’t happen to mention the consequences for disobedience. These latter verses they then twist in their minds to mean the necessity of ‘faith alone’ to the exclusion of works (what in Latin is known as ‘sola fide’), and even though the Bible nowhere at all in any of its verses explicitly says that a man is saved by or justified through faith alone. Indeed, in spite of the Bible saying exactly the opposite!
“Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?” (James 2:24 DRC, emphases added)
This is the Catholic translation of the Douay Rheims Challoner. The words are even a little clearer --- and ironically so --- in a classic Protestant translation (the King James Version) that renders the question as a statement instead:
“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24 KJV, emphases added)
A much more contemporary & hugely popular Protestant translation (the New International Version) puts the words and their obvious significance even more bluntly for modern minds to see:
“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24 NIV, emphases added)
In short, Protestants confuse the eternal debt of mortal sin with the temporal debt of both mortal (serious) & venial (less serious) sins. The eternal debt of mortal sins (including the mortal sin called ‘Original Sin’, into which all men, except for Jesus & His Mother, are conceived) can never be paid by a mere man on earth. It takes Jesus Christ’s Infinitely Worthy Sacrifice upon the Cross to do this. However, both mortal & venial sins have a temporal debt (an obligation to pay that will not take an eternity to do so) to pay as well. This much lesser yet still often substantial debt men can indeed pay in God’s Sight during the course of time. For souls sent to Hell forever, they will pay this temporal debt along with their eternal debt. For souls entering Heaven, the temporal debt --- if any --- must be paid in that part of Hell which is temporary, called ‘Purgatory’. Nevertheless, because of this confusion about what a man can or cannot pay --- and because Jesus does not pay the eternal debt of a man’s sins just by this man having ‘faith’ in Him, which includes His Teachings & Commandments, but also requires obedience to Him and to His Teachings & Commandments --- then Protestants blunder horribly into presuming their ‘salvation’ imaginarily out of thin air whilst condemning Jesus’ Catholic Teaching & Commandment in this matter of Heavenly Salvation as ‘diabolic’, ‘manmade’ & ‘impossible’. When, in fact, it is the other way around... when it is they who have believed something utterly diabolic, manmade & impossible about going to Heaven!
Yet you may learn more in the Q&A section entitled Faith & Works, not to mention the Q&A section for Purgatory. You may also read the book entitled The Dogma of Baptism Upheld & the Lie of ‘Faith Alone’ Cast Down.
In the meantime, ponder the words of
“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence), with fear and trembling work out your salvation.” (Philippians 2:12 DRC, emphases added)
Clearly he links Salvation both to obedience & works, driving home the connection by warning us to do so with “fear and trembling”. Now you tell me… what’s the point of trembling fearfully while working out your Salvation if it is only God doing everything ‘through you’ or ‘for you’, thus making your reception of Salvation a sure thing?
What’s there to be afraid of regarding that, what is there to fear & tremble about in such a situation?
No, the Saving Truth is otherwise. Salvation is not just by ‘faith’. It is obedience, too --- right works. It is both faith and works that a man needs to save his soul, the God-given Faith & Commandments of the Roman Catholic Church.
· So I have to enter the Catholic Church by studying & professing the Dogmas of Catholicism, and be baptized correctly in water, to have hope of saving my soul? (214)
· That sounds complicated! Isn’t Salvation supposed to be simple? (215)
How hard did you study to learn to drive a car (assuming you do drive a car)? Didn’t this seem ‘complicated’ to most of us at one point in time? And yet very, very exciting, too!
It’s the same way with Catholicism. Realizing that the Catholic Faith is how God has designed us to save our souls, we should be overjoyed & ecstatic to have found the Pearl of Great Price. It’s like discovering treasure buried in the ground, or winning the lottery against huge odds. Who wouldn’t be happy about that? How much happier, then, should we be if we find out how to save our immortal souls, inheriting a far greater treasure that lasts forever --- a treasure that, once gained securely after death, can never be lost no matter how much time passes by? Isn’t this worth a little bit of effort…?
Wouldn’t most people go to a great deal of trouble in order to extract the treasure that is buried in the ground on earth, just so they can enjoy its riches for a few short years on this earth until they die? How much more, therefore, should we expend some effort to extract the Infallible Truths of Catholicism in order to enjoy the riches of Salvation in Heaven forevermore, never to have this Eternal Treasure taken from us by anyone!
· Alright, this makes sense. But I’ve never been smart, and I hate to study. How can I learn what I need to know? (216)
Just keep doing what you’re doing right now. If you’ve gotten this far in Q&A about the Roman Catholic Church, then you’ve already read quite a bit. So you can do it. You just have to will to do it. Drop on your knees right now. Pray to God. Ask Him to give you a desire to know the teachings & commandments of His Catholic Church. Ask Him --- and ask the Blessed Virgin Mary --- to give you a sincere desire to save your soul. Ask them to give you strength of mind & understanding. Tell them that you’re very sorry for your sins and that you want to learn how not to sin anymore.
You don’t have to be brilliant. You don’t even have to feel anything deeply, just as long as you do the right thing, seeing that you need to do it. But, of course, it helps a lot to want to do it. That’s why you should ask for that desire. It’ll help save your soul.
· So what are the dogmas of the Catholic Church that I need to learn to save my soul? (217)
If you’re already prepared to be catechized then you need to go to the section on this website called What Must I Do To Be Saved? to learn the basics. I will add it as soon as possible. In the meantime, realize that Catholicism is not merely intellectual knowledge. It is also --- and crucially so --- obedience to God’s Commandments. If you don’t learn God’s Commandments, or if, knowing them, you fail to obey them in any significant way, then you can’t get into Heaven. So remember:
Learn to obey as well as learn to profess.
Or, to put it another way:
Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.
You can learn all the teachings & commandments of God’s One & Only Roman Catholic Church, but if you don’t also learn to obey them, to do them, then you’re not on the Way to Salvation.
On the other hand, should you not yet be prepared to become fully catechized, then continue on with examining this Q&A section or looking at other sections of Q&A and the website in general.
· You said the Catholic Church is Jesus’ Body. Does this mean that it’s organized in a way that’s similar to a human body? (218)
· Does this mean there are parts of the Body in charge of other parts? (219)
· This appalls me! How can I accept it? (220)
Are you appalled by the fact that you have to obey the rules of the road? Do you accept that when you take on the responsibility of driving a car, that you must also accept then the duty to obey the laws of traffic in our country? And do you freely admit, as well as humbly acknowledge, that a breaker of the traffic laws must be stopped & punished, a policeman being the one who will normally do this? And that a judge in a court of law will decide your punishment should your case be serious enough? And that this judge holds the power to throw you in prison if you don’t treat his office of authority with proper respect & compliance?
If so, then what’s your problem with the exercise of
authority within the Body of Christ, God’s Roman Catholic Church? As
“Remember your prelates [leaders] who have spoken the word of God to you; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation… Obey your prelates [leaders], and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you.” (Hebrews 13:7, 17 DRC)
The prelates --- leaders & rulers --- of Jesus’ Catholic Body function in the same way the leaders & rulers of our nation function, or leading parts of our body. Indispensable to our existence, they make sure that things work properly. Without them, life would grind to a halt. Literally… we could not live correctly or adequately.
Who could exist without a head? How could the body function without a spinal cord or a nervous system? How could a kingdom survive without a king? What would happen to a huge country without regional leaders & local supervisors?
The point is not that nothing could persist. Without great empires, kingdoms or nations, basic human life could still go on. It may be rudimentary & disjointed, but people will still subsist. Similarly, without an overall body, the different kinds of cells of a human body can still be cultured and grown for many generations, even indefinitely.
No, the point is that the body of the organism cannot survive correctly or adequately, the thing as a whole cannot go on without parts designed to lead & oversee it. Just as the kingdom or nation as a whole must have a leader at the top to guide it and lesser leaders on down the line to supervise its daily functioning both as a whole and in its lesser parts, so the Body of Christ on earth must have leaders to make sure that it functions correctly & adequately as a whole, surviving as an entirety to meet successfully the purpose of its Divine Design.
This is quite sensible, and if you think it through honestly, admitting its truth, then your fear & reprehension will subside. Because it is God Who has designed it as such, and it is the same principle of design that He has given every organized & living whole that exists in Creation, whether physical or spiritual, whether visible or invisible. It is the principle of hierarchy & supervision, of dynamic order & functional cohesion.
We were made to be parts of a living whole. This Vibrant Whole is the Roman Catholic Body of Jesus Christ. An Ecclesial Body that operates successfully based upon the correct functioning of its many parts in union with each other, some of which are meant to supervise & lead. These supervisors, these leaders, are the Priesthood.
· What are priests? (221)
Priests are God’s chosen servants. He uses them to teach, lead & feed the rest of the members of His Son’s Body, the Roman Catholic Church. They do this in order to save both their own souls & the souls of those they lead. Biologically speaking, they are the brain, spinal cord & nervous system of the body. They are also the heart, arteries & circulatory system of the body. Without them, the Body of Christ cannot subsist normally. Oppose them wrongly & a member brings death upon his soul.
· Doesn’t God want me to think for myself? (222)
God wants you to think correctly for yourself. The humble man acknowledges right away the necessity of having both a nervous system and a circulatory system for the successful survival & adequate functioning of an amazingly complex body.
· But I hate the thought of someone telling me what to do! (223)
Then you must have been an obnoxious child. You must also be a really lousy citizen, probably a jerk, and possibly even a criminal. Either that, or you’re blowing a lot of hot air about your supposed ‘independence’ from all figures of authority.
Because, obviously, everyone in this life has to do what he’s told to do at one time or another. I mean, what? Are you going to pretend that you already know everything you need to know and that you never give in to temptation to do what you shouldn’t do? If so, then --- truly! --- you don’t need anyone to tell you what to do… you’re perfect.
Yet, if perfect, knowing all you need to know and never doing what you shouldn’t do, then you’ll readily admit how absolutely imperative it is to obey our rightful leaders in everything except sin. That is to say, obedience to leaders is an inescapable part of human existence, as fundamental to our corporate survival as is breathing.
End of sentence.
So what you really mean to say that you hate, should we get right down to it and be honest, is someone telling you what you don’t already know (but you need to know) or what you ought to do (but are often too weak or too wicked to carry out). Your beef, then, is not with ‘authority’ per se… your problem is with admitting what’s true & obeying what’s right.
After all, are you not an authority to your own self? Do you not gladly obey your own thoughts & wishes, whims & passions, in almost everything you do? And do you ever feel ‘oppressed’ by your own personal desires or your own personal thinking, do you ever bother to ‘rebel’ against that which you want to know or to accomplish?
Then ‘authority’, in and of itself, is not the issue.
Your problem is that you often like to remain ignorant, to think whatever you want to think, or do whatever you want to do --- regardless of what the truth is and what the right thing to do might actually be.
In brief, you are your own little god. And, like most little gods, the only way you’ll ever be stopped from worshipping at the altar of your personal will is to run smack dab into a much bigger God & a much bigger Will… namely, the One True Most High God of the Roman Catholic Church & His Omnipotent Will, He having designed your soul to be Roman Catholic in order to become one with Him forever in Heaven Above.
· But what if the one who is in authority is wrong? (224)
Well, what do you do if you are wrong?
Think about it. I just pointed out how your problem is not with ‘authority’, in and of itself. You gladly follow the lead of your own personal authority --- of your own self’s thoughts, wishes, desires & passions. That is to say, what you choose to do, you gladly carry out to do, not even bothering to think about the possibility of rebelling against your own self and its will & leadership.
Because you are a functioning whole, an entirety that operates successfully as a thing unto itself.
Whereas, to the contrary, you are not a very good functioning part of the greater whole around you, of the larger entirety upon which you depend in order to adequately exist as an individual part of the greater whole.
In short, you are like a part of the body that is cancerous.
Now, sometimes cancer is benign. Or often cancer is so low-level that the body successfully fights it off, or converts the cancerous cells back into something that is helpful & cooperative. Nevertheless, sometimes cancer is malignant & vicious. At this point, if the body hasn’t acted decisively already, protecting its larger interests of functioning correctly as a whole, then it is a pitched battle for sheer survival.
Which brings me back to the first point of this particular answer. Because what do you do when you are wrong?
If you are sane and honest and humble, you admit your error --- and amend it.
So, too, authority with those subordinate to it. The ideal is to have sane, honest & humble subjects, men & women who will admit when they are wrong and amend their lives accordingly. Yet if not… then, just like the body faced with malignant cancer (presuming the threat is that serious & the consequences for not acting decisively that grave), the authority must act swiftly, severely & steadfastly in order to preserve not only the correct & adequate functioning of the body which he serves, but, indeed, its very survival, also.
So what if it’s the authority which is seriously in the wrong, what if authority happens to be, in this case, to some extent gravely cancerous to the body around it?
The principle is the same. The one subject to an authority hopes for the ideal, that the authority is sane, honest & humble enough to admit his error & amend it. Nonetheless, if not --- and the situation is serious enough to warrant further action in order to ensure the survival of the larger body --- then the subject must act to oppose this authority for the sake of the greater whole. In a word, ‘rebellion’ in this case is not actually rebellion but is instead obedience to the greater whole, ensuring its correct, adequate & normal functioning by opposing what, in this case, has become a perilous threat to its very existence.
Biologically speaking, it’s like getting cancer of the brain, spinal cord or nervous system, or of the heart, arteries or circulatory system… even of the blood stream itself. Such a situation is incredibly grave & life-threatening. Hence why the member has the duty of opposing this peril despite its superficial resemblance to ‘rebellion’. Because it is not rebellion when to not oppose the authority means that this authority will halt the correct & adequate functioning of the larger body, when to not oppose the authority means that this authority will end up murdering the larger body.
The correct, adequate & normal functioning of the greater whole, in order to perpetually fulfill the purpose of the body’s unchanging design, is the guiding principle in all such circumstances. To face treacherous & wicked leadership is horrendously disheartening when, to the contrary, this leadership should least of all --- and last of all --- threaten the continued existence & successful functioning of the larger body. Howsoever, and in spite of all dangers to one’s individual self, if this is the case, then good members must act accordingly to save the larger body and to guarantee ongoing fulfillment of the body’s purposeful design, that the body might continue to do what it’s supposed to do, to do what it’s purposely designed to do.
In terms of Catholicism this serious failure of a part of the body to fulfill the body’s purposeful design is known as ‘heresy’. It is the failure of a member of Jesus’ Body to correctly know, believe, profess & obey the Dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. Specifically, it is failure of a member of Jesus’ Body to profess & obey these dogmas that makes them into official heretics since profession & obedience are typically, by their very nature, acts of public display. To wit, should a man fail to state a dogma or live by it correctly in a public fashion, instead saying its opposite or acting in such a way as could bring doubt into the hearts of men about the reality of a dogma, then he is publicly revealed to be a heretic. Or, at the very least, an aura of public suspicion falls upon him and he must be both carefully & thoroughly examined to see whether or not he meant to say or do what he appeared to have said or done against the Saving Truth of the Catholic Faith.
This includes leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, too. Should a man who is a deacon, priest, bishop or pope promote heresy in the presence of witnesses --- and it becomes, after due investigation, impossible to exonerate him from the conviction of heresy because of its public & hence indisputable nature, as is evident from the solid, consistent & correlative testimony of more than one person, then that man can no longer truly or rightly occupy an office of authority. He is thrown out automatically, both as a leader and as a member, by the Laws of God’s Church. He is surgically cut out from Christ’s Catholic Body for the same reason a part of someone’s brain would be surgically excised were it to have become cancerous & thus threaten the very survival of the body as a whole.
· Then all of the talk about obedience is a bunch of hooey --- you have a ready-made excuse to rebel. (225)
Catholics have no more excuse to rebel than does the liver of a human body to become cancerous. Should the liver show signs of incipient cancer, then the surgeon is justified in cutting out that part in order to save the correct functioning of the rest of the liver that is untainted, and thus the survival of the body as a whole which would be threatened otherwise by a slow & hideous death.
Notwithstanding, should the brain show signs of incipient cancer, then the surgeon is equally justified in cutting out that part in order to save the correct functioning of the rest of the brain that is untainted, and thus the survival of the body as a whole which would be threatened otherwise by a slow & hideous death, accompanied by a wholesale confusion & loss of the mind’s leadership of the body.
The guiding principle is always the purpose of the design of the body. Any member of the Roman Catholic Body of Jesus Christ must know, believe, profess & obey the Purposeful Design of the Catholic Church, which is the Exclusive Salvation of Immortal Souls. We reiterate:
The Creator has designed the Body of His Divine Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Only Means to Save Men’s Souls. Imperatively intrinsic to this Singular Means of Salvation is knowing, believing, professing & obeying all of the Unchanging Dogmas of God’s Roman Catholic Church. Should a member --- be he even the Pope over all --- fail to publicly profess & obey these dogmas in any indisputable way, then that member is automatically excommunicated & on the broad path to Hell until he comes to senses, repudiates his heresy & penitently seeks readmission to God’s Catholic Church. Everyone who is Catholic must recognize this truth & abide by it.
Consequently, the difference between right resistance and wicked rebellion is this:
Righteous resistors seek to constantly further & ever uphold that which the Body of Christ is purposely designed by God Himself to achieve, correctly rebuking authority in the Church where, however rarely under normal circumstances, an authority may be annihilating this purposeful design of the Creator through his public espousal of some heresy; whilst wicked rebels seek to obstruct & destroy that same divinely-designed ecclesial purpose, incorrectly attacking authority in the Church wherever an authority dares to preserve this purposeful design for the saving of souls via the defense & propagation of the Unchanging Dogmas of God’s Roman Catholic Religion.
Righteous resistors seek to further & uphold the Catholic Body’s unchanging purpose for the saving of souls, while wicked rebels seek to obstruct & destroy --- whether they really mean to or not --- that same undeviating design of Exclusive Salvation.
· Yet how are we to know the difference for sure? (226)
Simple --- by being, to start with, truly Catholic for sure. No one can be Catholic unless he knows, believes, professes & obeys all of the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. This includes the deacons, priests, bishops & popes of this Church. As a result, even a lowly layman (a member of the Church who is not a deacon, priest, bishop or pope) can know when a learned leader falls into heresy. It’s not that complicated. It’s just a matter of investigating the public facts. Once those facts are known & beyond reasonable dispute, then the outcome is clear: the heretic is gone.
However, we are now bordering on the topic of Sedevacantism. Please see the section for this topic elsewhere in Q&A to learn more.
· You mentioned various titles for the men in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Can you tell me more about them? (227)
Deacons are the lowest rung of the ladder in the Catholic Hierarchy. They also are not, strictly speaking, part of the Priesthood. That is to say, they have no ability or privilege to offer up the Sacrifice of Jesus’ Flesh & Blood in the Holy Eucharist. (Please see this topic in the appropriate section of Q&A called the Eucharist if you wish to know more. I will post it later when I can.) They have no indelible mark upon the soul from the reception of Holy Orders, as a Catholic would put it.
Rather, they are elevated to a position of leadership over other Catholics, but not to the level of a priest, not even intrinsically. This is in contradistinction from priests, who, although not raised to the level of a bishop, nevertheless do possess, intrinsically, the spiritual prerogatives of a bishop. It is a matter of fundamental authority between bishop & priest, not a matter of innate difference.
This is not so between priest & deacon. Deacons are not, innately, the same as priests. They are essentially distinct. Nevertheless, a deacon does possess authority over fellow Catholics. He must be respected & deferred to. He can perform certain exorcisms, read the Gospel during Mass and baptize babies, for instance. In everyday terms, though, the real value of a deacon is that he handles those things that a priest or a bishop shouldn’t have to deal with. E.g., it was in this way that the office of deacon came to be, the Apostles in the first century establishing the deaconate to free them up from having to look after the feeding & provision of needy Catholics. For, however worthy these tasks were, it is not to be the primary responsibility of priests & bishops to have to do these things. A priest is to be primarily concerned about the feeding & provision of the souls of his flock of Catholic laity (i.e., those Catholics who are not deacons, priests, bishops or popes). The task of the deacon is to care more for their bodies. While crucial --- after all, how can a man easily think properly of his soul when his body is starving or naked? --- this task distracts from the even more critical job of providing for immortal souls, in contrast to merely mortal bodies.
· Can you tell me more about priests? (228)
A priest in the Catholic Church does what priests have always done,
including priests of the
In false religions, the sacrifice is given to a false god. In the
This Sacrifice surpasses all others. It is of incalculable worth. It is why the priest is accorded the dignity of position that he is accorded. It is why Protestant heretics acted as they did, rebelling against the Catholic Faith in the 16th century. They had ceased to believe and thus ceased to profess & obey. They therefore reduced their so-called ‘priests’ to the level of a mere coordinator, of an actor or an elected official.
But not a literal priest who offers the Sacrifice of Jesus’ actual Flesh & Blood.
Again, to learn more about this, please see the section in Q&A upon the Eucharist. You may also look at the section on the Holy Mass of the Roman Catholic Church, not to mention the article entitled Catholic Ritual Defended.
· Does a Catholic priest do anything else? (229)
Yes. Second only to his God-given privilege & ability to consecrate bread & wine into the actual Flesh & Blood of Jesus Christ as the Holy Eucharist, he also possesses the God-given ability to forgive Catholics their sins.
· I thought all the stuff about confessing sins to priests was uptight hokum. Aren’t we supposed to be more relaxed, doesn’t God want us to confess directly to Him if we must confess? (230)
This is a lie of Protestant heresy. Men don’t want to think sin is real or serious and they don’t want to have to submit to real, tangible & literal authority on earth when it comes to religion, hence they pretend it’s impossible for a Catholic priest to forgive sins, and then further pretend that this privilege is manmade in order to subjugate people to the Catholic Hierarchy. That is, if a Catholic priest is the only one who can pardon a sin that will certainly cause a Catholic man to end up in Hell forever otherwise, then that poor man had better treat his priest nicely, lest the priest refuse to absolve his sin!
What Protestants conveniently forget --- and what other people, too, invariably ignore --- is what God Himself has determined to do. To wit, if God says He has given mere men, priests though they be, the privilege & ability to forgive sins, then you can be sure that these priestly men have the God-given power to do so, and that God must take our sins very seriously. Nonetheless, if God has said the opposite, that He has not and never will give mere men, priests although they are, the privilege & ability to forgive men their sins, then you can be sure that these priestly men do not have this power & that sin must not be very serious in His Sight, end of discussion.
So which is it?
Protestants, especially the Evangelic Protestants ubiquitous today, claim to rely on the Bible. So I challenge them:
Where in your bibles does it say, explicitly & straight out, that God has not and never will give men this power, ability & privilege to forgive sins in His Holy Name?
There is no such passage in Sacred Scripture.
There is no such passage in the Bible.
Meanwhile, there are several biblical passages that obviously ---
at face value, and especially after a little pondering --- must mean the
complete opposite. That is to say, they plainly imply confession to &
forgiveness of sins by mere men, by those who are the authorities in
Christ’s Body, the Catholic Church on earth. Consequently, where do
Protestants and other men of the world dredge up their temerity to defy the
Then whence their unwavering confidence to defy
It would seem that Protestants & other men of the world operate based upon a personal prejudice, a manmade tradition, in opposition to the infallible teachings of God’s One & Only Roman Catholic Church. But more on this in the section of Q&A entitled Confession.
The thing you need to realize right now, my dear reader, is that it is neither intrinsically impossible for God to grant Catholic priests the authority to forgive men their sins nor explicitly stated by God that He has chosen not to enable them to do this.
· What else does a Catholic priest do? (231)
He is responsible to teach men the Catholic Faith, preserving the
Dogmas & Commandments of the Roman Catholic Church. This involves
instructing adult converts & young children, as well as preaching homilies
· Don’t priests have something to do with exorcism? (232)
Yes. The Creator through a Catholic priest battles the Devil, casting his minions out of the bodies of men or other earthly forms which demons may possess.
· Hasn’t modern science disproven this kind of ‘evil spirit’ talk as a whole lot of superstitious nonsense? (233)
Every time purportedly well-educated men claim to have ‘disproved’ the reality of demon possession, a wave of fascination with possession & exorcism seems to swell in force amongst the public to contradict them. And the evidence against such empty claims of ‘superstitious nonsense’ only becomes greater as the years go by.
Men know by instinct that evil exists. They also know that evil is personal --- that totally evil creatures exist, called ‘demons’ in our language & times. These creatures are unembodied. That is to say, they do not have bodies like human beings do. It is because of this bodiless state that they are able to inhabit the things of this world. Specifically, the physical forms of men, animals, houses or other objects.
People know this; they know this is true. Even persons not trained in demonology or the Catholic Religion know, instinctively, that these things are real. It is why children are naturally afraid of the dark. It is why adults are also, many of them, still afraid of the dark despite having learned how to control their fear most of the time. It is why horror movies scare people --- especially a cleverly made horror film --- and why most people find a chill of fear go up the spine if ever they find themselves in a cemetery at night, whether alone (very scary) or with a few others (usually less frightening, but still scary). It is why monsters & bogeymen are a terror in the night, and it is why dreams come to men which terrify them out of their sleep. It is why haunted houses, even houses only reputed to be haunted but not actually so, are spooky. It is why ghosts unnerve and ghouls seem ghastly. It is why zombies look so hideous to us.
All of these things, and many more, scare us because demons are real. Some of these things may not truly exist… but demons do. Hence why any of these things, whether true or not, are frightening, since the source of their very real fear is a very real evil: the existence of demons and of their leader, the chief demon himself, Satan.
· I admit these fears are real, but come on! Aren’t demons a fantasy? (234)
Most definitely not. Yet this is not the place to get into it. You can read more in the section of Q&A called Demonology. You may also discover more in the section entitled The Devil. Suffice it to say that demons are no more ‘disproven’ by modern research than a round earth was ‘disproved’ by medieval men, meteorites ‘disproved’ by scholars of the 1700s, or ball lightning ‘disproved’ by scientists of the mid-twentieth century. Ignorance & prejudice are powerful narcotics of the human mind --- even for ‘highly educated’ minds of the 21st century.
· So God enables Catholic priests to cast out demons? (235)
Certainly. Jesus Himself went around the Palestinian countryside casting out demons left-and-right, as you can read in the Gospels. You can also read how he chose certain men to be disciples, and how he made some of these disciples to be Apostles (part of an original group of twelve). He gave these Apostles the power to cast out demons. Having taught the Roman Catholic Religion, later men --- called bishops --- were the successors to these Apostles & spiritually inherited the divinely-bestowed power to expel demons. Priests derive their power from the Apostles to exorcise demons, too, via the authority of the bishops of God’s One & Only Roman Catholic Church.
· Why do demons even exist in the first place? (236)
That’s a question for another section entirely. Please see the Q&A sections on Demonology and The Devil.
· Is there anything more a Catholic priest can do? (237)
The list of things a priest can or should do could get very long. Perhaps I will go into greater detail in a future book, article or Q&A section. For now let us note how priests also usher obedient Catholic souls into a good death through the administration of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
· You’re talking about a priest hearing someone’s last confession, giving him the Viaticum of Holy Communion before he dies, right? (238)
· What about bishops --- what do they do? (239)
A bishop does everything that a priest does, only with more authority. A Catholic bishop is the direct & rightful spiritual descendant of one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles. He has inherited their power & mandate to rule in the Church through the Sacrament of Holy Orders as administered to him by someone who was already a Catholic bishop. It is this administration of Holy Orders --- sometimes called ‘the laying on of hands’ --- that gives to him the apostolic power & authority of Jesus’ Catholic Hierarchy, of the episcopacy. By it he receives the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive or not forgive sins, to loose or to bind, to excommunicate or to receive into the Church.
· This sounds very impressive, but what does it mean? (240)
It means he rules. A bishop is like the spinal cord or a nerve center of the human body. He himself is not the highest head or the brain of the body. Notwithstanding, he wields an immense amount of power & responsibility. A bishop is often appointed to govern a particular area of the world in the Catholic Church called a ‘diocese’. In this diocese, which normally consists of smaller sections called ‘parishes’, the bishop oversees a group of priests who carry out the everyday tasks of Catholic life, including the saying of Holy Mass, the hearing of confessions, the conducting of baptisms, officiating over weddings, catechizing (religious instruction), visits to the sick & dying, etc., etc. A bishop in charge of a diocese is authorized to ordain men of his choosing to be priests for that diocese under his authority. A bishop is usually the only one who is allowed to consecrate another man to be a bishop (on very rare occasion priests may be authorized to do so). A bishop is also typically the only one who administers the Sacrament of Confirmation to members of his flock (ditto the previous parenthetical statement). It is a bishop who excommunicates grievous sinners from the Catholic Church, including the affirmation of automatic excommunications of publicly manifest heretics, and it is the bishop of a diocese who allows them back into the membership of the Roman Catholic Church should they become suitably penitent for their sins.
· So a bishop is like the big boss, in charge of everyone? (241)
Yes, within his realm of jurisdiction.
It’s like being a judge. A judge could be very high up in
power & responsibility, sitting upon a federal court. Nevertheless, however
great his authority, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything if he’s
not in his particular district & court. If he’s appointed to the
federal court in
Similarly a bishop. A bishop will always be respected &
venerated by good Catholics for what he is, the successor to an Apostle, no
matter where in the world he is at the time. All the same, a bishop appointed
to the diocese of
· How, then, does the Pope enter into this picture? (242)
A valid pope is the bishop of a particular diocese in
· How in the world does this happen when a bishop is only the head of his local diocese? (243)
It happens in the world because someone has to be in charge of all real Christians (read: Roman Catholics) throughout this world while Jesus is gone from the earth, seated at the right hand of His Father in Heaven. The Apostle Who He nicknamed Peter (‘Rock’) is the disciple upon whom He built His Ecclesial Body, the Catholic Church, by granting him the special assistance of the Holy Spirit for the sake of him always being able to officially teach the members of the Church collectively without any possibility of error, in this way safeguarding them from heresy & the threat of Hell. That is to say, the Holy Spirit keeps the Roman Bishop from declaring error in matters of Faith or Morals, making him in these things, when he speaks as the Worldwide Pastor of members of the Church everywhere, infallible.
St. Peter having ended his rule of Jesus’ Catholic Body as the Bishop of Rome, it is therefore the privilege & responsibility of all rightful Roman bishops after him to be the head of the Roman Catholic Church, representing Jesus Christ on earth.
· I notice you keep saying ‘rightful’ or ‘valid’ in reference to a pope. Are you inferring that some men aren’t real popes? (244)
You’re very observant. As a matter of fact, not all men who
claim to be the Bishop of Rome --- not even all men who have been believed by
much of the world or the Church to be the Bishop of Rome --- actually have been
And the facts are --- the truth is --- some men aren’t popes despite a whole lot of people thinking that they are. Such men are correctly termed ‘antipopes’ --- that is, fake popes, phony popes. These antipopes may or may not be Catholic. Some of them were, some of them weren’t. In any case, simply thinking you’re the Pope, or having lots of other people (even Catholics) thinking you’re the Pope, is not enough to make it so. And if you are not truly Catholic --- this fact being publicly known beyond all reasonable doubt or logical dispute --- then there is absolutely no way, period, that you could ever be the Pope short of an open denunciation of your heresy & a full, thorough, consistent, orthodox & public profession of the Catholic Religion, not to mention a proper penance. Such impenitent heretics are not only fake popes but also fake Catholics.
You can learn more about this topic in the section in Q&A regarding Sedevacantism.
· Papal infallibility is ridiculous. What rational person could ever believe in it? (245)
Well, certainly not you since you’re being irrational.
I mean, do you know everything? No? Then how is it you know for sure, without a doubt, that papal infallibility is ridiculous? Are you not pretending to be infallible in your personal declaration against papal infallibility? And yet, if you are not infallible then you can not know for sure, without a doubt, that the infallibility of a pope is a ridiculous thing to believe in!
Does this not strike you as… irrational?
Yet this isn’t the place for a full-fledged defense of papal infallibility. Go to the Papacy section in Q&A for more information. Please also see Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus in Books & Articles (B&A), which revolves around an historical, scriptural & logical examination of the Successor to St. Peter & Vicar of Christ on Earth. As well, you may look at the section on Infallibility to find a more general discussion of the topic & its necessity to human life.
· So a pope is just a bishop? (246)
Essentially, yes. What sets a pope apart from all the other bishops in the Catholic Church, though, is not what he is but who he is. Every bishop of the Catholic Church can answer the first interrogative with, “What I am is a bishop.” Only the Pope can answer the second interrogative with, “Who I am is the Pope.”
To put it differently, being the Pope is not a matter of the Sacrament of Holy Orders (being ordained a priest or consecrated a bishop) but, rather, a matter of hierarchical jurisdiction. That is to say, as a bishop, in & of itself, a pope is neither any more nor any less than his fellow bishops… they are each and all of them, equally, bishops. No, the distinction lies in the exercise of authority. Just as a federal court in San Francisco has authority solely over those cases within its district on the west coast of the United States, so any particular bishop of the Catholic Church has authority solely over those Catholics within the diocese of his local area.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of the
· And yet a pope can speak infallibly… correct? (247)
Right. In this respect, a pope does seem to wield something innate to his office that is greater than his fellow bishops. After all, no other bishop can claim such a gift from the Holy Spirit, teaching the Church as a whole without any possibility of error, ever.
Note, however, that I said “innate to his office” and not “innate to himself”. Were infallibility something innate to himself --- an indelible mark upon the soul just as a priest receives something upon his soul that can never be erased or changed, and which enables him to consecrate the Eucharist & forgive sins --- then the Pope would possess something innate to himself that is greater than his fellow bishops. In other words, he would be something more than just another bishop. Nonetheless, the gift of infallibility is not innate to his self and is not merely a function of his episcopacy. It is, to the contrary, strictly connected to his office & thus a function of his jurisdiction. Should he cease to be a pope, whether from abdication or heresy or what-have-you, whilst remaining alive on this earth, then, too, ceases the exercise of infallibility by him which went along with the occupation of his former office. Conversely, as soon as another man takes up the papal office, so, too, does this man take up the gift of infallibility that comes with the occupancy of this supreme office.
To put it alternatively, a man could stop being a pope and hence lose his privilege to exercise the gift of infallibility when teaching all Catholics. However, that same man could never stop being a bishop and hence could never lose his ability to consecrate the Holy Eucharist, forgive sins, confirm Catholics, ordain priests, & etc., etc. The former is an outer office that can be occupied or vacated. The latter is an inner status which is never avoidable once endowed. It’s the difference between being elected a president & being born a king. The former is something you can do for awhile & later give up after new elections supersede the old reality. The latter is something you can never escape, having it in your very heritage & blood from birth to death.
Again, please see the Papacy in Q&A to learn more.
· That’s a lot about the hierarchy. What about the laity? (248)
As you have already surmised, the laity is, invoking the metaphor of human biology, everything that is not directly a part of the nervous system or the circulatory system of the body. They are those that follow, receiving what they need for life from the hands of those that lead this body. To wit, the layman cannot consecrate the Flesh & Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, something he normally needs in order to have the supernatural life of Jesus’ Catholic Church. Only a priest can do this. Thus, a layman must have a priest in order to receive what he needs, normally, to subsist within the Ecclesial Body of Jesus Christ --- the life-nourishing flow of the blood. Moreover, a layman cannot consecrate a bishop or ordain a priest to provide for this need. Only a bishop can do this. Hence, a layman must have a bishop in order to get the priests he needs, normally, to be able to subsist in the Ecclesial Body of Christ --- the heart, arteries & blood vessels of the circulatory system. Or, for instance, a layman cannot just know or teach infallibly on matters of Faith & Morals by himself, these infallible dogmas something he must have to believe rightly & therefore receive worthily the Holy Eucharist at the hands of an orthodox Catholic priest, who in turn was ordained properly by the hands of a truly Catholic bishop, etc. Only a pope can do this for him. As a result, a layman must have valid popes from whom he may know, via the transmission of the nervous system, as it were, what he is to believe & what he is to profess so that he might be a real member of the Ecclesial Body of Christ, he then also knowing that the deacons, priests, bishops & popes to whom he turns are really Catholic --- nerves signaling correctly & blood pumping properly, the body functioning & surviving because the head is in control, doing its job adequately, at the very least, if not thoroughly.
· So the laity is a bunch of empty-headed robots? (249)
· But you make them sound like mindless appendages! (250)
They cannot be mindless since they must be full of mind in order to know, believe, profess & obey the Dogmas of Roman Catholicism. That is to say, without adequately functioning minds they could in no way know the things they must know in order to do what they must do to stay safely inside God’s Catholic Body. Far from being mindless, rational belief & obedience are mindful, it taking intelligence both to comprehend the Catholic Faith correctly and to apply this Faith rightly in one’s daily life.
Yet as far as being ‘appendages’ goes, this only betrays your lust for power. In other words, like just about everybody these days, you want to lord it over the world & have no one lording it over you. Or, short of this unrealistic extreme (the modern ideal being as much freedom for the individual to do whatever he wants as is practically possible), at least call all of the shots for yourself --- no one able to tell you otherwise.
There’s only one problem. Namely, that no one can call all the shots for himself without running into opposition, at some point or another, from someone else. Even in the most ‘ideal’ of modern circumstances, where everybody has as much freedom as possible to do as he wishes, sooner or later someone will do something that --- while he may consider it his ‘right’ to do as he likes since it concerns mainly himself (thinks he) --- infringes on yet another person’s purported ‘right’ to do whatever he wants.
For instance, someone may own a piece of property and want to build a small dam on the creek that runs through it. Fine. That’s his piece of property and directly involves him, and him alone. Or does it? For just down the road a neighbor doesn’t like the dam since it slows the flow of water past his property & prevents sediments from enriching his soil. Who decides this conflict? Can we hope that the two of them are reasonable enough to come to a peaceable agreement? Yet what if one of them is stubborn or resorts to violence? What then?
Or consider a man’s ‘right’ to use profanity in public. Today this is very common. Notwithstanding, even the most foul-mouthed of parents will often discipline their children for daring to use these same words in front of them. So should people get away with cursing loudly in public? Say, within the hearing of large crowds of men, women & children? Many act as if swearing is harmless. I mean, since when has a nasty word broken an arm, tied up a body, or killed a man? On the other hand, who hasn’t been terribly hurt & offended by what another person says around him, even though the words used aren’t thought to be profane? Hence why our courts usually consider the bad behavior of antagonists --- including foul words that may have been brandished --- in deciding a conflict between two sides. So which side is right in this case? Should cussing be outlawed in public or not? Must we all listen helplessly to a swearing idiot just because we have ears to hear & aren’t deaf, and we choose to venture out into public around other people once in awhile? Is this fair?
Or how about childless families? Nowadays sexual conduct is considered a totally ‘private affair’, the business solely of two or more ‘consenting adults’. All the same, without children, no nation continues to exist. What’s more, even if some people have children, should that group of people be too small of a fraction of the entire population and the resulting number of children thus be too small a proportion of the whole nation, then economies will fail & die. Companies will find too few new employees to hire as old employees leave, older people will have too few people still working to pay for the government-guaranteed benefits that everyone now expects, and vast industries that depend on the existence of children --- such as the makers of toys & public schools --- will wane & wither, lessening wealth, shedding jobs, shrinking the tax base and, in general, upsetting the complex balance of things.
So, should childless families be tolerated? As of now, the
The dilemma must then be faced. If everyone exercises his individual ‘right’ to not have children, then human life will come to an end. And even if only a huge majority of people exercise their individual ‘right’ to not have children --- which is the situation today with couples choosing, far more often than not, to have two children, one child or even no kids at all --- then our modern economies will stall and perhaps eventually collapse. Which may not alarm the proponents of zero population growth, disgusted as they are with the human race, but intelligent people know what happens when nations become poor while, at the same time, the citizens of these nations expect --- and demand --- not to be poor. To wit, violent revolution & devastating chaos.
Leading us again to ask, should childless families be tolerated? And let’s be very blunt. The main reasons more & more people in this era choose to have no children is for the sake of both husbands & wives working outside the home, which often also implies the accumulation of more money, not to mention the easier indulgence of sexual pleasures without ever having to be responsible for the babies that normally result from natural intercourse. Which, then, not only smooshes the toes of those who worship the sacred cow of a so-called ‘sexual revolution’, but also walks right into the hornet’s nest of a self-styled ‘feminism’ & the clinically-entitled ‘homosexuality’. Because the practitioners of neither of these groups is very concerned about falling birth rates or childless families, are they? It’s no more prevalent on their radar than is ‘multiculturalism’ for a white supremacist.
Sooner or later people are going to have to grapple with the proportionally decreasing number of children amongst the total population of western civilized nations. We may think we can do whatever we want, that it’s our ‘right’ --- especially when it comes to fornication --- yet each & every one of us is the product of the union between a father and a mother. However much some of us may despise them, facts are facts: without the union of our parents, we could not exist. And without further fruitful unions between men & women, no more children --- and thus no more humanity --- can continue to exist. Consequently, the difficulty hits us smack in the face:
If more & more people keep exercising their ‘right’ to not have children, then the world as we know it will cease to exist and present civilizations will crumble. Which in turn means that everyone will suffer, especially our children… leastwise, what few children we still bear to inherit the world that will come.
In short, nobody can do whatever he wants. It’s neither possible nor desirable. As long as human beings live in proximity to one another, yearning for each other’s contact, then the aim of the greater whole must be considered. Consequently, somebody must be in charge, directing the activities of his fellows. Only in this way can the conflicts that are bound to come --- and are thus unavoidable --- between individuals or smaller organs within the larger body have a chance at being resolved without ripping apart the fabric of this larger body into irreversible ruin. Such a greater whole may or may not promote the ‘rights’ of individual members, yet the bottom line is always this:
That no one single individual member may contradict the aim of a greater whole without suffering the wrath & opposition of this larger body. Otherwise, the larger body cannot hope to survive in order to successfully achieve the purpose that it was originally designed to accomplish.
· Alright, so what’s your point? (251)
My point is that the ‘mindless appendage’ allegation is like a sword which turns on you, stabbing your own body --- it being both mindless of you to make, and a useless appendage of your mixed-up thinking. There may be lots of people who don’t think enough about their position in a society of men, being neither adequately trained nor properly inclined to do so. Notwithstanding, it is not automatically mindless to be the subjugated part of an organized group of men that has leaders who exercise authority over other individual members within this group. Rather, it is very often necessary & frequently profitable, both for the group as a whole & for individual members. The single question that needs to be asked, right off the bat, is merely this:
Is the aim of this group of men, of this organized body, good?
The aim of God’s Roman Catholic Church is undeniably good --- the salvation of men’s souls. The Catholic Church is also truly universal --- no one is denied entrance for circumstances beyond his control. That is to say, the Church upholds the freedom of a man’s will; he is not a mindless automaton operating solely on instinct or a helpless robot in the clutches of his passions. Given that he’s not too young or impaired, then he has a mind & he can choose freely what he will do. And given that a man freely chooses to cooperate with the Triune Catholic God to save his soul, then that man can discover, know, believe, profess & obey all of the Dogmas of Roman Catholicism. It is not impossible. It is why the Church exists in the first place, to usher men’s souls into Her Sanctuary & thence unto Everlasting Life, provided they persevere within Her Sanctuary obedient in the state of grace.
This is why I said that you lust for power. Because what you really want, were you wise enough to recognize it, is to be a greater whole unto your own self. Accordingly, to exist in conjunction with no one else in the world, except inasmuch as they can serve your wishes & satisfy your desires. You have no real comprehension of what it means to be a part of something truly bigger than yourself, no idea at all of what it means to be made by an Eternal Creator Who formed you for a purpose, to fulfill a design. To the contrary, the only design that you can see, the only purpose you can conceive of, is satisfying whatever it is, at the moment, that most infatuates your desires.
This is the whole sum of your existence.
· How can you be so certain of yourself, accusing me of this? (252)
Because I know my audience, having been a part of them & come out of it. Most people in the world today are infected by the decay of western civilized thought since the so-called period of ‘enlightenment’. Democracy & individualism have taught men to do as they want, regardless of what men used to do or what men once declared was lawful. Indeed, the innate goal of democracy & individualism is, in the end, to approve of & promote all desires that men may find themselves having, granted that the pursuit of such desires doesn’t stop the pursuit of other men’s desires to an ‘undue degree’.
· Let’s say you’re right. The world revolves around me & I hate belonging to something bigger than myself since that means the loss of personal power to satisfy my whims. What then? (253)
You need to question the one authority that you never think to challenge: yourself.
You need to rebel against the one power that you never think to snub: yourself.
You need to smash the one tyranny that you never think to destroy: yourself.
In fine, you need to do violence against yourself in order that you may save yourself from the dictatorship of your own petty will, of the despotism of your earthly desires & personal whims. You need to stop thinking primarily about your existence now, in this life, and start thinking mainly about the existence to come, after your death.
· I can’t tell you how repugnant I find this to be. (254)
You will find Hell far more repugnant.
· So you’re telling me that the laity of the Catholic Church does, after all, use their minds, freely choosing to submit to a rightful authority in order to save their immortal souls? (255)
· And that they exert the intelligence of their minds on a daily basis to overcome any obstacles to this Salvation? (256)
Yes --- provided that they are good Catholics. Bad Catholics couldn’t care less.
· So what else can you tell me about the laity? (257)
Contrary to the popular bias of non-Catholics for the last few centuries, Catholics do not go through their lives failing to think for themselves. The opposite is true. A good Catholic must constantly think for himself. Earthly life is intricate, quandaries frequent, and the perfection of one’s soul a perpetual task during this life. A priest cannot stay at the layman’s side constantly, ready to be asked what to do at a moment’s notice. Nor is Church Law so comprehensive that it can anticipate every challenge to human existence that may arise. Hence, the layman must think on his own as a matter of course; he must fend for himself over & over again when it comes to moral dilemmas.
The layman has signposts of divine will to assist him, though --- and imperative they are. Namely, the Dogmas & Commandments of God’s One & Only Catholic Church. The dogmas (which, by definition, are God’s infallible instructions via a pope) tell us what’s true & what’s real. By them a Catholic can know the difference between truth & falsehood. For instance, if someone comes to a Catholic and says that God doesn’t exist, the layman can know this is a lie, the Church having infallibly assured us God does indeed exist. Meanwhile, the commandments tell us what’s right & what’s holy. By them, a Catholic can distinguish between good & evil. He also normally has a parish priest, a diocesan bishop & a universal pope to guide him. For example, if someone tells a Catholic that it’s okay to blaspheme, the layman can know without a doubt that this is a grievous evil, the Church having gravely ordered us to refrain from speaking the Name of God in a disrespectful or useless manner. He can consult with his priest personally, too, whether within the confessional booth or elsewhere, to gain insight & wisdom. His bishop will often dispense advice on topics troubling his flock, as well, and a pope sometimes issues directives concerning important matters of Faith & Morals.
Moreover, these leaders will occasionally lay down ultimatums. That is to say, they will take an explicit stand upon a particular subject that is incontestable. The subject might pertain to only one or a handful of Roman Catholics. For instance, perhaps a layman is committing adultery with another Catholic’s wife. The priest, finding out about it, goes to the layman in private (not to mention the other man’s wife), adjuring him to confess his sin & do penance. But let’s say the layman is obstinate, or embarrassed to make amends. The priest must then inform his bishop, who excommunicates the recalcitrant Catholic, and will also announce the sentence against him to parishioners. From that point onward all Catholics must avoid this man like the plague, refusing to fraternize with him beyond what is minimally necessary until the sinner repents & returns to membership in the Catholic Church with the bishop’s approval.
Or let’s say, e.g., that popular opinion endorses use of bombs against the citizens of an enemy nation. It matters not that these foreign citizens are not soldiers or combatants; the prevailing wisdom is that prudence demands indiscriminate destruction of the foe’s country during war. Nevertheless, the Pope weighs in, declaring that no member of the Catholic Church can, in good conscience, consent to such actions or carry them out. To do so incurs automatic excommunication from Jesus’ Ecclesial Body. All Catholics must oppose this perverse opinion wherever reasonably able, says the Holy Pontiff, and, if fighting in the offending nation’s army, he must refuse to assist in these bombing raids.
In the last analysis, though, the laity bear great responsibility in figuring out how to correctly apply the teachings, practices & directives of the Church in their lives. Viz., they must figure out where to draw the line in needful relations with excommunicated Catholics, or exactly what constitutes necessary opposition to a perverse & condemned opinion or what amounts to assistance for an evil act. Nonetheless, this responsibility is no excuse to rebel against the dogmas & commandments of the Church under the guise of a supposed ‘obedience’ to one’s personal conscience. A Catholic’s conscience must always conform to the Church’s teachings & practices, not the other way around. Otherwise, the infallibility of the Church is a ruse and Catholics are no different from everybody else during these days of democracy & individualism. The only relevant question in matters of personal conscience is this:
Has the Catholic layman actually applied the teachings, practices & directives of the Church correctly to the specific matter in question or not? And, if not, is he willing to admit his error & renounce his sin, reconciling himself to what the Roman Catholic Church truly demands of him?
If so, then the layman is a good Catholic. If not, then he is a bad Catholic, and possibly --- depending on circumstances --- no real Catholic at all any longer.
· Yet what if the layman is right & the clergy is wrong regarding a particular matter? (258)
This is very similar to Question 224. Refer to it for further details.
In brief, this concern is far too often a lousy excuse to be stubbornly wicked while maintaining the appearance --- in the sight of the ignorant or unwary --- of upholding that which is ‘good’.
· But what if I can’t consent to what is demanded of me by the Catholic Church? (259)
Then don’t pretend to be Catholic. Have the good sense, at least, to be an honest opponent. Then everybody knows where everybody else stands with no confusion. This is also excellent spiritual advice since God wishes men to be either hot or cold, despising the lukewarm. Not that men cold toward the Catholic Faith can enter Heaven as they are, in their coldness. Rather, that in their coldness, not pretending to be what they actually aren’t, Catholics can still hope that they will receive the graces necessary to inflame their souls with a real hotness for the Catholic Religion, converting them to the True Church. Whereas lukewarm men have hardly any possibility of receiving such graces, so heartily does God disdain the religious hypocrite, who lamely pretends to be what he actually is not. Hot-hearted Catholics intelligently in love with Catholicism --- and rightly judicious as well as humbly contrite --- are the Creator’s favored souls.
However, let’s be precise. It’s not that you can’t consent to the Church, it’s that you won’t consent. You may be convinced that it’s a matter of personal morality, wherein conversion to Catholicism would violate your personal moral convictions, but you have free will. And that free will of yours can either freely consent to the Catholic Church despite your misgivings, or freely reject the Catholic Church as is your wont. Whichever, it is a free choice, not a forced decision.
· Isn’t the laity restricted in other ways, too? (260)
If by ‘restricted’ you mean not free to do whatever they want without the Church opposing them, then yes. E.g., a Catholic cannot indiscriminately read any book or watch any movie and expect the Church to have nothing to say about it. Bad books which contradict the Church’s teachings & bad movies (or TV, for that matter) that clash with the Church’s practices are forbidden. For a very simple reason, too. After all, do most scientists & national educators want so-called ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’ to be taught equally in public schools along with Darwinian evolution? Do most health officials & medical professionals want the manufacturers of cigarettes to advertise on television?
Well… why not?
I’ll tell you why. Because such things influence other people. Students in public schools hearing the arguments & evidence for ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’ might be inclined to believe in ‘creationism’ & ‘intelligent design’ and be disinclined to believe in Darwinian evolutionary theory. Likewise, persons watching commercials for cigarettes might be inclined to purchase those cigarettes and try smoking them. And I ask you --- do most scientists & national educators want students believing in so-called ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’? No, they do not. Why? Because they think ‘creationism’ & ‘intelligent design’ are false while they think Darwinian evolution is true. And do most health officials & medical professionals want people to try smoking cigarettes and getting ‘hooked’? No, they do not. Why? Because they think smoking cigarettes is bad, ruining lungs and eventually causing a person to die.
Now apply the principle spiritually.
Do any good priests, bishops or popes want Catholics believing in religious falsehoods or practicing moral iniquities, things that will send the souls of these Catholics to Hell forever should they die in their heresy or immorality?
No, they do not.
Will reading bad books & watching bad movies cause at least some Catholics to become bad, damning their souls to Hell in the process?
Yes, they will.
Therefore, like the educators & doctors of the soul that they are, these priests, bishops & popes act to protect the immortal welfare of the lives placed in their care.
· So you have to give up your freedom to become Catholic? (261)
Freedom to go to Hell?
Oh, yes, absolutely.
· No, I mean to do what I want! (262)
We’ve already addressed that pretty thoroughly in Questions 249 to 253. And you’ve seen how no one is truly ‘free’ in the biggest sense of the word. All of us are limited in everyday life in a multitude of ways by the wishes, words & actions of others. But if you need more proof, then consider this:
Is the student in public school ‘free’ to learn about the arguments and the evidence for ‘creationism’ & ‘intelligent design’?
No, he is not.
Is the person watching television ‘free’ to enjoy commercials for cigarettes while doing so?
No, he is not.
So, please tell me… what is this about ‘freedom’ you were talking about?
It seems to me that non-Catholics give up plenty of freedoms in their everyday lives --- and this is just two tiny little examples out of literally thousands upon thousands of examples that we could cite were we to take the time & get really tedious.
· That’s not what I’m talking about. I mean the freedom to believe & do what I wish. (263)
That is what I’m talking about.
Most scientists & national educators deny students in public schools the freedom to learn about the arguments & evidence on behalf of ‘creationism’ & ‘intelligent design’ in the setting of public schools because they don’t want young persons --- especially young persons who are publicly educated --- believing in anything else except Darwinian evolution when it comes to the subject of humanity’s origins.
Similarly, most health officials & medical professionals deny people watching television the freedom to see commercials for cigarettes via broadcasts to the general public because they don’t want American citizens --- especially large numbers of American citizens --- doing anything like smoking cigarettes when it comes to human health.
Again I tell you… it’s not ultimately an issue of relinquishing ‘freedoms’. It is instead, when you come right down to it, an issue of truth & right. Most scientists & national educators are apparently convinced of the imperative ‘truth’ of Darwinian evolutionary theory. This is why they deny students at public schools the freedom of learning about the arguments & evidence in favor of its rival teachings, namely, ‘creationism’ & ‘intelligent design’. Likewise, most health officials & medical professionals are apparently certain of the imperative ‘rightness’ of stopping cigarette smoking. Hence why they deny television watchers the freedom of seeing commercials for cigarettes on their TV sets within the privacy of their own homes.
In each case freedoms are denied. And in each case the justification is the same:
Because to allow these freedoms would be to undermine what the powers-that-be consider --- or, at least, what they want you to think that they consider --- the ‘truth & rightness’ of their official positions. But you may find out more about these subjects in the Q&A section entitled Evolution, and in the section called Public Health. I will add them as soon as I may.
· Alright, I concede your point. (264)
Then you will also concede that what offends you about the Catholic Church is that She dares to call a lie what you want to think is true, and that She dares to call wrong what you want to think is right.
This is the source of your contention.
· Maybe you’re right. (265)
I am most certainly right.
· Man, you are arrogant! (266)
No more arrogant than you have been by calling me, in various ways, certainly wrong. But the reason I’m so sure of myself when it comes to these things is simple:
Because I once was like you, and thought just like you do.
Therefore, to become like I am now --- an honest-to-God, real, live Catholic --- I had to learn to undo everything I had been raised to believe & practice in my modern life. In a word, I had to re-examine my entire existence from the ground up. In doing so, I made the discoveries that I am sharing with you, much to your chagrin. I am like a guide offering my services to people astray in the wilderness.
The catch is, most of these people are convinced that they aren’t lost. And yet I know they are lost since I myself once was lost & had to scour the countryside far-and-wide for hundreds of miles around just to figure out where I was. Now that I have done this, I am no more ‘arrogant’ than would be a wilderness guide who has hiked the perilous mountains for hundreds of miles to act like he knows where he’s going, daring to tell potential clients that they, too, are most definitely lost just as he was once long ago.
I am sure of this for the same reason that the hypothetical guide is sure:
Because I know from firsthand, personal experience. I’ve seen with my own eyes, touched with my own hands, tasted with my own tongue, walked far-and-wide by my own feet. I’ve been where you are. I’ve discovered how it connects up with everything around it, and I’ve found out how staying where you are, wandering astray in a fog of misplaced confidence, is a sure way to die. I’ve thus abandoned your path. And I know what you need to do in order to find your intellectual compass & so save your immortal soul from the certain damnation of remaining the way you are.
Put succinctly, I probably know your error better than you do yourself. For a good reason, too --- because I am a curious observer & a careful investigator. Consequently, when I diagnose your spiritual illness, I am speaking from long years of being a sick man… but a diseased man who kept meticulous notes while sick, and who asked countless questions till he was healed.
It is this knowledge that I share with you --- not out of arrogance, but out of compassion for the terrible burden upon your shoulders.
Or do you call a physician ‘arrogant’ for confidently diagnosing a deadly disease that he himself once suffered?
· So you consider me sick? (267)
All people not within the Catholic Church are spiritually sick. In fact, to be exact, all persons not within the Catholic Church are spiritually dead. Like zombies, they traipse to the marching orders of their horrific master, the Devil, the King of the Dead.
· And Catholics, I suppose, are alive? (268)
Only Catholics in the state of grace are spiritually alive. Bad Catholics are hardly any better than non-Catholics, both of them being in the state of mortal sin. In this horrible condition, a man goes certainly to Hell should he die on earth without forgiveness.
· And how is one forgiven? (269)
By entering the Catholic Church via a valid Baptism of Water & a proper Profession of Faith, the soul thus ensconced remaining safely within Her Sanctuary without deviating into heresy & staying securely within the state of grace (no eternal debt of mortal --- that is, serious --- sin marring his soul), especially at death. For the Catholic who sins mortally, he must rightly confess his mortal sin to the priest, performing the penance given him by the priest in order to justify God’s forgiveness of the eternal debt due to his mortal sin, the remaining temporal debt being what the penance helps pay off in God’s Sight. Refer to Questions 212 & 213 to refresh your memory on this topic.
· Must the layman do everything that a priest says? (270)
A layman must do only what a priest has the authority to command.
· How do you know the difference? (271)
By learning the Catholic Faith. A well-instructed priest will know his limitations & not try to surpass them. A well-instructed layman will also know his limitations as a layman & not try to surpass them.
· So, as a Catholic layperson, I could tell the priest where to back off, standing my ground? (272)
Your choice of words betrays a lack of humility. You also seem to ignore my last sentence just above in the answer to Question 271, where I said, “A well-instructed layman will also know his limitations as a layman and not try to surpass them.” Even were a priest to overstep his boundaries, ordering what he does not have the privilege to order, the layman should still remain respectful, not indulging rudeness, harshness, sarcasm or other verbal hubris for the sake of asserting his purported ‘rights’.
· But I can stick to my guns as a Catholic layperson when the priest doesn’t have the authority to tell me what to do? (273)
The technical answer is yes. The wise answer is otherwise. To wit, you’re so concerned about your ‘rights’ that you have very little interest in your responsibilities. A layman whose only concern is where he can ‘rightly’ buck the priest is almost certainly a layman who will end up bucking the priest wrongly, too.
· I don’t get it. Why is obedience so crucial to being Catholic? (274)
Because authority is from God. And since nothing happens ‘out of control’ without God allowing it to occur, then, wherever men exercise authority, it is by God’s implicit permission that they do so. Therefore, whenever men exercise authority rightly, it is in God’s Name that they do so --- whether they realize or not. And wherever men refuse to acknowledge rightful authority, rebelling against it, then it is against God’s Name that they do so --- again, whether they realize it or not. You may learn more in the section upon Authority in Q&A.
In short, to disobey authority is to disobey God Himself.
· Wow. Government should really like Catholics. (275)
A good government should, yes. A bad government will hate us.
· Why? (276)
Because a bad government promotes false religion & immorality. Catholics cannot comply with these things & must often oppose them. This tends to infuriate those government officials that are wicked.
· Sounds to me like Catholics can’t accept the fact that people have the freedom to worship as they see fit & that the government must guarantee this freedom. (277)
Such a statement panders to the prejudices so typical of most people nowadays in the western civilized world, but it ignores a couple of very straightforward questions:
Exactly why ‘must’ the government guarantee so-called ‘freedom’ for people to worship however they see fit? What, precisely, is the advantage --- other than someone getting to do what he wants --- to be gained from encouraging this state of affairs, whether for the individual citizen or for the nation as a whole?
Obviously, no two religions agree. Every religion contradicts another religion, either in teaching or in practice. Consequently, no two religions can both be totally true & totally right --- either one of them is fully correct or neither of them are.
It’s that simple.
Of course, the supposed ‘pragmatic’ can opine that it doesn’t matter, that all of the religions could be a fantasy for all he cares. It’s the principle of the thing that’s important, claims he. But then the entirely sensible questions to ask become:
If it doesn’t matter which religion is wholly true --- if any of them --- then why are today’s governments so concerned with encouraging (let alone merely permitting) all of them to exist in the first place? What possible advantage does this situation impart --- other than someone getting to do what he wants --- to either the individual citizen or to the nation as a whole?
Think about it.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize how most, if not all, of the many different religions allowed to exist by a modern government must be false. That is to say, not every religion can be totally true & totally right. Each of them contradicts. Ergo, only one of them, at most, can be wholly correct. Nearly all of them, then, at a bare minimum & taken as a whole, are flat-out wrong.
So what’s the advantage to be had by promoting all of these false beliefs?
· This is ridiculous. The law doesn’t promote religion. It merely tells our government not to forbid any particular belief. How is this the same as encouraging all religious beliefs? (278)
Because it’s not just a lack of ‘forbidding’ any particular religion. If nothing else, our government concedes certain very real & very valuable tax benefits to the members of those religions that do exist. What’s more, even apart from the tax benefits, our leaders have continually encouraged more than one religion to exist in our nation. Indeed, they have sometimes gone out of their way to make sure that religions other than the ones already established get planted securely in the soil of our citizens’ minds.
Or, to put it another way, were our government truly neutral about the potential existence of multitudinous & contradictory religions, then they would adopt a laissez faire attitude toward the entire thing. They would let various religions bang it out in the public square, competing for the affections of everyday citizens. They would neither refuse to tax the material manifestations of these entities’ existence (properties owned collectively by members) nor condescend to legally recognize or protect their existence within the public realm (require the military, if possible, e.g., to provide the equivalent of ‘chaplains’ for every single religion professed by their soldiers, or go out of the way to prosecute those citizens who dare to vigorously oppose certain religions by whatever means they can, short of murder or warfare). In brief, they would wait to see which, if any, religion winds up being the prevailing belief in the end. They’d not try to shield any of them from opposition, aside from the aforementioned murder or warfare that are, by their very nature, destructive of a nation’s operation.
Instead, our government, once it’s plain that a particular kind of religion has at least minimal traction amongst some of its people, purposely protects the members of this new religion from other citizens opposed to their beliefs & practices, thereby purposely fostering the presence of the new religion --- along with the presence of other religions already entrenched --- by exempting their organizations & properties from any taxation, providing their members ‘chaplains’ in the military, requiring any businesses to hire their adherents whether the owners want to or not, forcing landlords to rent to these adherents, etc., etc…. and despite the fact that simple reflection reveals how almost all (if not all) of these many different religions are, because of their various contradictions, therefore inescapably false.
And again I ask:
What’s the advantage to be had by promoting all of these false beliefs? Precisely why ‘must’ the government guarantee so-called ‘freedom’ for people to worship however they see fit, even though it’s a foregone conclusion that nearly every one of these religions --- if not every single one, period --- is nothing but a gigantic lie?
· It doesn’t matter that they’re all lies! It’s freedom to believe like you want that counts. People fight more wars over religion than for any other reason. Don’t you get it? (279)
What I get is that there seems to be a vested interest in nurturing the simultaneous existence of many plainly contradictory & thus necessarily false religions within the same nation. What is this vested interest? Who holding the reins of power benefits from it? Is it merely, as you would have it, to avoid the prospect of war?
The point is, none of these were fought over religion --- leastwise, not ostensibly. Notwithstanding, the vast majority of our nation’s history has involved warfare. So how has freedom of religion made Americans less likely to fight wars? After all, even were we to blame the other side in every war involving the United States since 1776, we never openly or primarily fought the other side for the sake of a religious conflict, did we? No, we didn’t. Consequently, how has the secularly hallowed principle of so-called ‘freedom’ to worship however one sees fit prevented our nation from entering warfare? And if so many, even most, wars are fought because of religion --- and hence official ‘tolerance’ of various religions should greatly reduce the likelihood of warfare --- then why has America fought such a huge number of wars during more than three quarters of the twenty-three decades elapsed since beginning her national existence?
Pompously asserting that conflict over religion automatically invokes warfare --- and that most wars are fought over religion --- is merely that: pompous, without statistical evidence or hard proof to substantiate the claim. Mind you, I’m not counterclaiming that religion is never a reason for two sides to fight; I’m simply stating the obvious… that it’s not near as often the primary reason, or any reason at all, as most people are led to think and want to believe nowadays. There are plenty of other reasons to fight wars, especially in a world where most people don’t take religion very seriously at all compared to how exceedingly serious they are about earthly life & creaturely passions. E.g., nations fight wars to gain land, to foster trade, to take revenge, to save their lives, to protect their homes, to aid an ally, to obstruct an enemy, to capture slaves, to seize plunder, to build an empire, to get their way, to make a name for themselves, to rally the country, to avoid embarrassment & to stop a bully.
In other words, religion has only a very limited & modest role in warfare. More prominent reasons to fight can be found in human nature without looking too hard. Namely, pride & greed, which includes the lust for power that animates so many of the persons already possessing some degree of power.
· Okay, so the argument about war is overstated. But surely you can’t deny that intolerance fosters persecution, can you? (280)
Alright. Let’s concede for the moment that ‘intolerance’ leads to ‘persecution’ --- whatever exactly these much-abused terms might mean today in most people’s minds. To which I say… what of it?
And before you begin a self-righteous diatribe, please get a grip on yourself & just think clearly for a second. Because there is nothing of actual, lasting & ultimate value to be gained, either for an individual citizen or for the nation as a whole, by promoting the false beliefs of contradictory religions that, far from portraying things the way they ‘really are’, do instead, in reality --- and however much in part they may say some things that are true --- tell big, huge, fat, whopping lies.
Frequently to the contrary, there is very real harm done by
believing in things that aren’t true, undeniably so when these false
beliefs have enormous impact on the lives of people here & now, on earth.
For instance, does anyone remember the odd religious group in
· This is no excuse for religious bigotry. (281)
Then why are you a religious bigot?
· I am no such thing! (282)
Of course you are. You’re bigoted toward me. Or, rather, you’re bigoted toward what you think is my position. You can barely summon the patience to hear me out, reading everything I have to say about what my position really is. Where is your fabled ‘tolerance’ toward my religion?
· I don’t stop you from believing what you believe, do I? (283)
No, but that’s only because I’m strong-willed & already know the weaknesses of your position thoroughly. Less strong-willed & less knowledgeable persons wilt under the scorn of your modernism.
· I despise stupidity. Is there anything wrong with that? (284)
It depends on whether the person is willfully stupid or not. In the meantime, don’t try pretending you practice ‘live-and-let-live’ when it comes to religious beliefs. You, like pretty much everybody else nowadays in the western world --- particularly those who are highly educated or consider themselves ‘intellectuals’ --- certainly do condone suppression of religious beliefs thought to be ‘false’ & thus objectionable.
· I do not! (285)
Sure you do.
What is so-called ‘creationism’ if not a religious belief? And what does our government do, if not suppress it by teaching --- in public schools (which includes universities & colleges) designed for this very purpose, not to mention via federal agencies meant to propagate the officially-approved ‘scientific’ position --- the very opposite, that the universe is a random event evolving over billions of years and that life on earth results from chance mutations & natural selection? And what do you do, if not condone this state of affairs?
That is to say, assuming you’re not a conservative Evangelic Protestant. Then, of course, you very much regret the way things are. Nevertheless, you neither demand the ouster of modern cosmology nor neo-Darwinian synthesis from public schools & other official forums. You merely ask --- beg, really --- that ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’ be taught, too, alongside the aforementioned subjects.
In either case you condone them: the evolutionary cosmologist openly by what he says in support of modern cosmology & Darwinism, and the ‘creationist’ or advocate of ‘intelligent design’ covertly by what he does not say in opposition to them.
Yet we have gone on long enough about this subtopic. You may examine ‘religious liberty’ in further detail by going to the section on Indifferentism. You may also learn more about ‘creationism’, as well as Darwinism & ‘intelligent design’, in the sections for Creation and Evolution, respectively. Finally, you can investigate the origin & aim of public schools as a means to destroy what remains of Roman Catholicism by looking at Public Education, and by examining the section on Wisdom, too.
· The government can’t promote metaphysics or theology. Don’t you know the difference between science & religion? Can’t you distinguish between hard facts & unverifiable beliefs? (286)
I know the difference between truth & lie. And you, sir, lie when you imply that self-styled ‘scientists’ are always seeking the truth. Scientists are human, just like everyone else. And, like all humans, they sometimes don’t want to discover the truth or, knowing it, they oftentimes don’t want to admit that it is true. Ergo, the practice of ‘science’ is not this bastion of a pure search for ascertainable truth that you would like to believe. Nor is the practice of philosophy or religion then necessarily a backwater of speculation & fantasy, solely the haunt of spiritual charlatans or superstitious quacks.
No, we need determine only two things in either case, whether the source of any particular assertion be ‘religious’ or ‘scientific’ --- what are the limits of our knowledge & how do we know what we think we know? This is a matter of epistemology. You may link to the Q&A section of the same name, Epistemology, to find out more.
Meanwhile, everything comes down to knowing the truth. Indeed, everything ultimately comes down to knowing that truth which is necessary, infallibly… without any possibility of error. Because if we don’t know for sure where we come from, what we’re made for, and what our destiny is, then we have no business demanding of anyone that he do things our way as opposed to his way, or anyone else’s way. Without such certainty of knowledge, all we have is dominant passions & brute strength. That is to say, might makes right --- whoever has the power can do what he wants.
But if the power, then whence the infallibility?
Or, to put it another way, might without the absolutely certain truth about things is tyranny. Whereas, ultimate power combined with infallible omniscience is the innately unconquerable liberty of a real authority.
The former is merely human. The latter is simply divine. It is the Simply Divine upon which the Catholic Church rests. It is She that the Creator of All That Exists has made to be His Pillar & Foundation of Truth in this, our very fallible & decaying world. It is why a Catholic dares to say that he is right, without a doubt. Not because he is right in & of himself, or that he can never be wrong… but because when it comes to the things worth knowing --- how we came to be here, why we exist & where we are headed --- God is always right, without any doubt. And He has made His Church, the Catholic Body of Jesus Christ, His Mouth, speaking His Word. Ergo, She is always right, as well, in every question of Faith & Morals. Consequently, anyone can listen to the Roman Catholic Church and be right, too:
Because anyone can become Catholic, saving his soul, by the Power of God.
· This is just so overwhelming. It turns the world upside-down. How can I be sure that what you say is right? (287)
You can be sure because I say what the Catholic Church says --- infallibly. I am not infallible; the Catholic Church is. You are not infallible; the Catholic Church is. And She is infallible because God, Her Maker, is all-knowing (omniscient) & all-powerful (omnipotent). Therefore, to hear Her speak is to hear God speak… infallibly.
But if you are a sharp thinker confused by the pseudo-intellectualism of modern times, then please see the section in Q&A on Epistemology. It will help clear your mind of many diabolic lies. Should you need help comprehending the necessity of truth without error when it comes to religious teaching, then see the section about Infallibility. Or, if already convinced of the Catholic Church’s God-Given Infallibility, then please look at Dogma to find out where you may learn the Saving Truths of Roman Catholicism.
· So the Catholic Church is the Body of Jesus. (288)
· And Jesus is God, right? (289)
That is also correct.
· Is this why, then, that the Catholic Church speaking is the same as God Himself speaking? (290)
Yes --- excellent!
· And Jesus’ Catholic Body is composed of both priests & laity, true? (291)
· And the priests teach, rule & feed Jesus’ Body? (292)
· While the laity learns, obeys & eats within Him? (293)
Yes. The two parts complete each other, making One Single Body. The priest assists the layman in saving his soul, and the priest, in doing this task well, thereby also works to save his own soul.
· Why is God so interested in a man’s soul? (294)
That’s a really good question. Most people never think to ask it. God is eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing and so forth & so on. So what could He possibly want or gain from tiny creatures such as ourselves? How could our infinitesimal, created existence be worth anything compared to His Infinite & Eternally Uncreated Self-Existence? Of what possible use are we to Him, we who are like nothing in His Sight?
The answer is twofold.
The Self-Subsisting Creator delights in creating for the sheer joy of creation, and not because He needs anything from it. Therefore, He took joy in making us.
And He created us, out of all other creatures, to share His Image. I.e., we look like Him. Not that we are Him, since a reflection is not the same as the thing reflected. Rather, that we evoke the thought of Him merely by our appearance, just as the son evokes the thought of his father by his sometimes uncanny similarity to the one who sired him. This is what God intended by making us in His Image. That Image of His marred by our sin, it is a personal offense to God that He should be tainted, however indirectly (marred in proxy, as it were), by our rebellion. It is His Divine Being that convinced Him to value us in the first place, and His Divine Glory compels Him to save some of us that He might not only undo the damage to His Name, but even surpass the damage done to exalt His Name beyond what was first expected before we marred His Image by our rebellion.
· Then why not save all of us? (295)
Because in making us in His Image, to look like Him, He gave us free will. Having done so, He will not violate what He has given. We may choose, in the end, to deny Him. That’s the nature of free will allied with ignorance & wickedness. Those who choose to love Him, to cooperate with Him in working out their salvation with fear & trembling, are those who become real Catholics & die as good Catholics. These men inherit Heaven.
· The rest of us go to Hell? (296)
· That is horrible. (297)
It is indeed.
· I thought God was supposed to be loving. (298)
He is, though this doesn’t mean quite what you’ve been led to believe. Love is not simply a sentiment, and it is not merely being ‘nice’. Niceness is sometimes included in love --- as are, often, deeply-felt sentiments --- but love itself is not equivalent to a feeling or kindness. Love is an act defined by a purpose. The highest purpose is to love God. The way we do this is by fulfilling His design for us. This design is to be Roman Catholic, worshipping Him in the True Religion. Doing so successfully, we save our souls. This is proof of His love for us, that He would both create us in His Image to begin with & that He would provide us with any means at all to enter into Heaven despite our sinfulness. Those who freely choose not to do so, end up in Hell.
Ergo, it is not God alone Who sends them there; it is the free will of men in conjunction with the Sovereign Will of an All-Holy God that does so. Men who freely love God by being good Roman Catholics, and dying as such, enter into Heaven. But you may find out more about this in the section of Q&A entitled Salvation. You may also find out more about the various aspects & nature of Love in the section of that same name.
In the meantime, those who love God, by being good Roman Catholics, love their fellow Roman Catholics, too, by worshipping together in unity of Faith & Morals. That is, they are of one mind in the matter of dogmas & commandments. It is this reality which, more than anything else, testifies to the fact that they are, truly, the disciples of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Who first went about the cities, towns & countryside teaching the Jews --- as well as non-Jews who lived in the area & took a holy interest in what He was preaching --- all that was necessary to know, believe, profess & obey in order for a man to save his immortal soul, as a careful reading of the Gospels reveals. Loving one another (including acts of mutual charity), we love, too, those Catholics who have departed this earthly life to gain their eternal reward.
· You mean the souls of the dead? (299)
The souls of the faithfully departed dead, yes. The souls of the faithless (non-Catholics & bad Catholics) are beyond our purview, and cannot be loved since they are in Hell forever.
· Don’t Catholics pray to the dead & worship saints? (300)
We pray to the living, and we honor the saints.
· What do you mean? (301)
Faithfully departed Catholics --- Catholics who leave this earth as good Catholics --- are not dead, but alive forevermore, more alive than anyone can be in the body on this earth. Jesus illustrates this when He says in the Gospels, rebutting faithless & worldly Sadducees (who were a Jewish sect of the 1st century that denied the resurrection of the body, accepted only the first five books of the Old Testament and practiced the culture & learning of the academically shrewd but pagan Greeks) when they denied the existence of souls beyond the earthly existence of their bodies:
“Now that the dead rise again, Moses also shewed, at the bush, when he called the Lord, ‘The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’; for he is not the God of the dead, but of the living: for all live to him.” (Luke 20:37-38 DRC, quoting from Exodus 3:6)
“…for he is not the God of the dead, but of the living: for all live to him.” (Luke 20:38 DRC)
The point that Jesus was making here, as recorded by St. Luke (St. Matthew & St. Mark also record the incident between Jesus & the Sadducees), was that when St. Moses wrote down the words that God spoke to him at the burning bush (reported in Exodus 3:6), God would not have said, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…” (Exodus 3:6b-e DRC), if their souls were non-existent. That is to say, had Abraham, Isaac & Jacob simply died & ceased to any longer exist after their bodily lives on earth, then God would not, and could not, have spoken about them in the present tense as if they still existed. Rather, He would have had to have said, “I was the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…”
Yet this is not what God said, St. Moses reporting His words to him
accurately at the inerrant inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the book of
Exodus. Abraham, Isaac & Jacob had departed earthly life hundreds of years
ago at the moment St. Moses encountered God at the burning bush before
· Okay, so good Catholics are actually alive, not dead, after leaving this life. But shouldn’t we just worship God, and not saints? (302)
No Catholic ‘worships’ a saint as if the saint were God. This is because no Roman Catholic can truly be Catholic if he believes that the Saints in Heaven are equal to, or exceed, God in glory & power. To the contrary, Catholics honor saints as God’s perfect children, they having been cleansed of every sin and having their eternal salvation made secure. As Jesus says right before the scriptural quote in Question 301 above:
“The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: but they that shall be accounted worthy of that world, and of the resurrection from the dead, shall neither be married, nor take wives. Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:34b-36 DRC)
“Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:36 DRC)
If we are to honor God, ought we not, then, also to honor His Children? For how can we say that we honor God when we refuse to honor His Children, those who bear His Image and are made perfect in it, dwelling with Him in Heaven, nevermore to be subject to any sin or punishment? And how can we confuse His Children with Him Himself? That is to say, how can any intelligent man, having been taught this dogma, get confused & honor the child of God as if he, the holy child, is God himself? Cannot any man of reasonably modest intelligence keep the two distinct in his mind & thus in his religious actions?
· But praying to them & bowing before their statues is worship! (303)
Nonsense. Prayer is simply talking to someone far better than yourself who is not normally visible to your earthly senses. There is nothing in Sacred Scripture that says otherwise, in contrast to what Protestants, and those who hate the Catholic Church, would have you believe. To wit, nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Prayer should be only to God and to no one else.” This is a made-up rule of Protestant heretics, especially those Protestants best termed as ‘Evangelics’.
Neither is bowing before statues or images an act of ‘worship’ meant solely for God, nor bowing before representations of the Saints & Angels in Heaven an act of idolatry or rank paganism. The offense of pagans & idolaters in bowing before their statues or images is that they bow before demons posing as gods, not that they bow before statues or images to begin with. Statues or images in & of themselves are not offensive to God, provided that the statues & images are not used for the wrong purpose --- which is very offensive to God. And the crime of idolatry is not therefore that the idolater bows down before a statue or image, but that the idolater believes the statue or image to actually be a god; or, not believing this & knowing that the statue or image is merely a representation of the thing worshipped, nevertheless honoring that false god as if he were a true god instead of the hideous demon that he really is.
No real Catholic does any of these things. We bow down before the statues & images of the Saints & Angels of Heaven knowing full well that they are not equal to, or exceeding, God in any way, shape or form. We honor them as the Most Holy Children of God, truly worthy of our admiration & petitions, through whom God is pleased to assist us, and by whom He as well receives praise over all when we honor those who have honored Him above all things, who are now living with Him in Heaven perfect in sanctity.
Yet enough of this important digression. Should you wish to know more, please see the Q&A section entitled Saints & Angels, as well as the section on Prayer. You may also investigate the article entitled Saintly Veneration Defended as soon as it is posted. In addition, certain portions of the book, The Dogma of Baptism Upheld, address this controversy. Please go to the B&A (Books & Articles) section to look at them.
· Fair enough. Am I then to understand that the saints are part of the Catholic Church, too? (304)
Absolutely. The Saints in Heaven are called the Church Triumphant. They have succeeded in fighting the war for the salvation of their souls on earth, enjoying now the eternal peace of a heavenly reward. They have thus triumphed.
Meanwhile, we Catholics on earth are still fighting for the salvation of our souls. We have not received our reward since we have not yet demonstrated that we are worthy to receive it. We are the Church Militant, part of the spiritual military force on earth engaged in battle against the Devil & his minions.
Finally, there are those Catholics in that part of Hell called Purgatory for a finite time. They are the Church Suffering since they suffer for the temporal debts of their sins (as opposed to the eternal debt, which was paid for --- and could only be paid for --- by God) in order to certainly receive the eternal peace of their heavenly reward. They are purged because nothing sinful & offensive to God can ever enter Heaven to live with Him. Thus, in His love He cleanses them of their remaining stains of sin so that they might be with Him forever in most intimate communion with Him.
These are the three parts of the Church --- Militant, Suffering & Triumphant. In each of them may dwell those members who are either priests or laity. And while the distinction between the two (clergy & laity) is only strictly observed on earth, not necessarily being observed functionally in Heaven, the honors associated with our vocations on earth are associated with us in Eternity, granted that we attain to Heaven having died as a good Catholic upon earth.
· I have a real problem with Purgatory. (305)
I expect that you do. So did I, prior to becoming Catholic.
However, here is not the place for hashing it out. You may learn more in the section called Purgatory. You may also learn more in the section entitled Heaven. A look at the section on Hell might be worthwhile, too.
· How do Catholics worship? (306)
Our primary worship is Holy Mass, wherein Catholics partake of the Eucharistic Sacrament at the hands of the presiding priest. You may learn more about the former in the Q&A section called Holy Mass; you may learn more about the latter in the section on the Eucharist. You may also see the article entitled Catholic Ritual Defended.
As well, Catholics worship via many & various prayers, some of which are linked together in longer forms. For instance, the Divine Office that is recited by good priests, monks & nuns. Or, for example, the Holy Rosary that is prayed by all good Catholics everywhere nowadays. Too, there are rituals associated with the seven sacraments, such as Baptism & Extreme Unction. Simple genuflection (bowing on one knee in front of the Eucharist or a holy statue, etc.) and the Sign of the Cross are additional acts of worship. Indeed, when you get right down to it, earthly life itself is a continuous act of worship --- via the unbroken chain of trials & temptations that a steadfast man successfully endures by obeying all of God’s precious commandments --- for the truly pious Catholic, his every breath a homage to his Maker, the Triune God of the Catholic Church.
This Roman Church, which is the Body of Jesus Christ, saves men’s souls by a single thing & ultimately it alone --- that they worship God how both God & His Church have commanded, and worship Him through the honor & veneration that we offer to His Holy Children, the Saints & Angels of Heaven Above, or to His holy things, such as the relics & hallowed places (e.g., a piece of the Cross, the site of Pentecost, the monk’s habit of St. Francis of Assisi, or a bone from St. Polycarp of Smyrna) found throughout the world today. A good Catholic may make his entire life an act of worship by obedience to all of God’s Commandments, but if he will not worship in the liturgy of Jesus’ Body as rightly offered by true Roman Catholics, then he cuts himself off from the very thing --- Jesus’ Body --- which gives him Life, and so ceases to be a good Catholic.
· Alright, so Catholicism makes a lot of sense. But what about the horrible crimes? What about the Inquisition or the Crusades? How can I trust a Church that does stuff like that? (307)
When people lob accusations against the Catholic Church for Her so-called ‘crimes’ of the Inquisition or Crusades, they are really presuming three unspoken things:
One, that they know the difference between right & wrong, and can hence judge rightly between what is actually a crime and what is not.
Two, that they know the difference between true & false, and can hence judge rightly between what crime has actually been committed and what has not.
And, three, that they know the difference between wisdom & foolishness, and can hence judge rightly between what crimes are actually important and which ones are not.
· That’s sounds terribly clever. What does it mean? (308)
My dear reader, it means that no one can rightly presume to condemn someone for a crime unless he first knows what the law is and what the facts are. It also means that no one can rightly presume to punish anyone for a crime unless he first knows how serious that crime is.
· Are you trying to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about? (309)
I’m telling you that almost no one nowadays knows what he’s talking about when it comes to judging & punishing the Roman Catholic Church for Her so-called ‘crimes’ during the Inquisition or the Crusades. To start with, almost no one today knows what actually constitutes criminal behaviour in the realm of spirit & religion. That is to say, how can anyone rightly accuse someone of being a ‘criminal’ when he doesn’t even know, to begin with, what actually is a ‘crime’ according to the Law of God?
Do you get it?
It’s like somebody accusing another person of ‘crimes’ against humanity. Then, supposing somebody else even truly bothers to investigate the charges --- and doesn’t just blindly believe that the person is guilty without first knowing something about the nature of the charges, or whether or not the charges are true --- let us say he discovers that the accuser charges the person in question with eating chocolate & blowing bubbles.
Now I ask you… have any crimes actually been committed?
Obviously not! There are no laws against eating chocolate or blowing bubbles, nor should there ever be, under normal circumstances. I.e., under normal circumstances and in most cases, there can never be any legitimate need for proper authority to legislate against a man eating chocolate or blowing bubbles. So what are we to think of these so-called ‘crimes’ when they are patently ridiculous?
Right --- we reject them categorically, excoriating the accuser for making a mockery of true justice.
· Wait a minute. The Inquisition & Crusades involved people killing other people! This isn’t just some dumb ‘chocolate’ or ‘bubbles’ example… this is murder we’re talking about. (310)
The terms you use reveal precisely what we’re talking about. There is a difference between ‘killing’ and ‘murder’. The one is simply a statement of fact. The latter is a judgment of morality.
Consider. Were an actor to be handed a prop gun, being told the gun has no real bullets and cannot harm anyone, is he responsible for murder when he pulls the trigger in a scene which demands his character to kill another character, only to find that the gun really did have a bullet and really does end up killing the thespian playing the other character?
No, of course he is not. Why? Because there is a difference between killing & murder. Factually speaking, the actor with the gun truly did kill his fellow thespian --- he’s the one who pulled the trigger and fired the gun. Morally speaking, however, he did what he did under the very real, reasonable & sincere conviction that his gun was merely a prop, and not actually capable of killing anyone. He is therefore not guilty of murder.
· Totally irrelevant. (311)
Not so. Everybody who knows at least a little something about the Inquisition & the Crusades knows that people died --- although nowhere near the numbers of people that are claimed by persons living in more recent times. That is to say, both you (who are not Roman Catholic & hate the Catholic Church) and I (who am Roman Catholic & love the Catholic Church) can agree that folks died during the Inquisition & Crusades. All the same, did Catholics murder these people or were they simply executed? Or, to put it really exactly, were they killed for a right reason or for a wrong reason?
And while the thespian example I used in answering #310 referred to someone killing someone accidentally --- and thus the one who did the killing is not actually guilty of murder --- it is both mindless & unfair to assume that the opposite case, where someone kills another human being on purpose, is always guilty of murder without first finding out why he killed to begin with and if his facts for doing so are right & straight. Now plainly, it is the prejudice of almost all persons alive today that the people who died during the Inquisition or Crusades were killed for a wrong reason… that they were murdered. Yet this is the very point in contention between you & I, and it is thus utterly relevant to speak of the stark moral difference between a just killing and the unjust murder of another human being.
· Okay, I probably overstated the case. But everyone admits that there were tons of horrible things done at the hands of the inquisitors & crusaders, right? (312)
Well, clearly not everyone, or else I wouldn’t dare to disagree with you. Or am I not someone and hence included in the all-encompassing grasp of the term ‘everyone’? Your choice of words is known in advertising as ‘the bandwagon appeal’ --- or in logic as ‘the bandwagon fallacy’, which in Latin scholars describe by the catch-all category of ‘ad populum’ (‘to the people’, as in ‘appeal to the emotions of the people’). It is designed to persuade by force of passion rather than good sense or solid facts. Because if ‘everyone’ supposedly knows that such-and-such is the case, then who in the world wants to be left out, looking like a dummy, unfashionable or antiquated, etc., etc.?
But let’s examine the charge in a reasonable way and leave feelings to the side for the moment. By “horrible things” you mean that Roman Catholics put men to death during the Inquisition for being heretics & enemies against the Catholic Church, as well as that many of them were tortured to produce confessions to such crimes, and that members of the Church of Rome killed Muslims during the Crusades when reconquering the Holy Land of Palestine or killed heretics when fighting against the Albigensians or other rebels in various parts of Europe, as well as that some of them pillaged cities along the way to the main war, and that, occasionally, bad Catholics rioted or rampaged unjustly against Jews, heretics or other non-Catholic enemies. Too, Protestants hold against Catholics the fact that the latter had the audacity to oppose them frequently during the 1500s & 1600s at various places in a Europe that had only recently been uniformly Catholic… although the double standard here is so vivid as to be able to reach out and bite a person on the nose, since Protestants themselves did the very same thing to Catholics during that same time period, and often regardless of the latter’s action or inaction against them! At any rate, it was the Inquisition that dealt with Protestants in still solidly Catholic countries given that the Inquisition was active until the 17th century (the 18th & 19th centuries don’t really count due to its official existence being rendered mostly impotent by a lack of spiritual nerve & political support on the part of still ostensibly Catholic nations).
This, then, is the sum total of the ‘terrible charges’ against Catholicism in the past 1000 years. Prior to AD 1000, Roman Catholics had not conducted Crusades. They also had not instigated formal ‘inquiries’ or investigations (the meaning of the word ‘inquisition’) involving the power of the Catholic State (in addition to the power of the Catholic Church, the distinction being between those who administer spiritual & religious power within the Church as opposed to those who administer earthly power within the State, i.e., the civil government) to punish corporally --- including the execution of a guilty person’s life, if necessary. None of these things had yet been launched in a sweeping or systematic fashion, although formal inquiries resulting solely in ecclesial excommunications had always existed right from the beginning of the Catholic Church in the first century. Worldlings & heretics still don’t like the Roman Church of the first millennium due to their intense hatred for Her Dogmas, nevertheless, they know instinctively nowadays in their fight against Catholicism that they can make a lot more hay out of events of the 2nd millennium since Catholics dared to flex their terrestrial muscles a few hundred years ago and combine a very real physical power together with an already well-exercised spiritual authority upon this earth. In short, Catholics during the 2nd millennium often followed up the heavenly judgments of the Church with an earthly punishment, too, by invoking the power of their government’s army (Crusades) & police (Inquisitions) to support Her.
· Yeah… they dared to murder people! (313)
And you dare to lie, murdering the truth, not actually knowing what you’re talking about. Because this is where the difference between a right reason to kill and a wrong reason to kill becomes apparent, where the distinction between unjust slaughter and an entirely just execution is made utterly clear. It is, in short, where we discover what makes a supposed ‘crime’ actually a crime, where the Celestial Law of God and its correct application to events on earth is laid bare for all to see who have eyes to see.
· What a bunch of garbage. (314)
Really. Then how is it you approve of the very same things that you condemn when they are done instead by those people who hold positions & espouse opinions that you like?
· I do not. (315)
Sure you do.
For instance, let’s say some white men kidnap a black man, pillory him with racial insults, beat him senseless, drag his body behind a pick up truck for several miles, and then hang him high by the neck from a tree limb to take what little remains of his already mangled life. Then let’s say these white men roam through town the next day openly bragging about their brutal exploits. Then, to top it off, let’s say that, when hauled before the court to answer for their crime, they show absolutely no remorse and positively revel in their barbarity. Indeed, they shout racial slurs from the witness stand and boast that they’ll do it again if released!
What would be your reaction?
· I would be enraged. Any right-thinking person would be. (316)
And what else?
· I don’t know what you mean. (317)
What would you expect the court to do in response to their unrepentant brazenness?
· That would be up to the court system. (318)
Alright. Then let’s say that the jury is loaded with like-minded persons. They refuse to find the defendants guilty. Let’s also say that the judge --- and any higher courts --- are cowed by the possibility of riots from the local region, who are in violent support of the men & their actions. What would be your reaction now?
· I would find this to be a travesty of justice. (319)
A very noble sentiment. But what would you expect to be done? As a matter of fact, what would you --- as a right-thinking person --- call upon those who are in authority to do & demand that they get it done if they don’t show much inclination to do so otherwise?
· Look, I don’t know where you think you’re headed with all of this, but I don’t have to answer these kinds of questions. It’s sheer speculation and a waste of time. (320)
Then I’ll answer for you.
You, like pretty much anybody else in this country nowadays, would be more than simply enraged. You would be righteously indignant & militantly agitated. You would expect the National Guard to be called in. And if the region’s state-based soldiers couldn’t be trusted to get the job done, due to most of them sympathizing with the defendants or not wanting to oppose their own flesh-and-blood, then you would expect the big guns to brought in: the U.S. Army itself. You would want the entire region put under lock & key. You would demand that the defendants be brought to trial elsewhere in the country, and that justice be served, these men receiving the harshest sentence that they can --- especially if they remain boldly impenitent until the very end. You would want them to burn for their impudence against the law & against common public sentiment, for causing chaos throughout the country & offending the security of the rest of the nation!
· So what --- you expect me to say I think these men should die for what they did? Is that what you want from me? (321)
No, I want you to be honest. I already know that you’d feel no real pang of conscience in such a situation were the hypothetical defendants to die for their crime.
· And how do you know that? (322)
Because I know human nature. You’re human, aren’t you? Then, given that you condemn brutal murder of one race of men by another, then I know exactly what your feelings are, and I know without a doubt that you’d rejoice at these men dying for their crime.
· You are nothing if not cocky! What if I were to tell you that I oppose the death penalty? (323)
Alright. You oppose the death penalty. It still doesn’t change anything.
· And why not? (324)
Because very few persons are so strong-willed in their principles that they can avoid or deny the sentiments common to all men in such situations. Presented with the terrible scenario as sketched above --- where an entire region rises in defense of men whose crime is both morally & legally indefensible, and who dare to oppose what a whole nation has now thoroughly condemned in the body of its law as well as in the upbringing & education of its children --- almost no person in your shoes could help celebrating at the thought of such men dying for their hideous crime. You might try to keep it secret from those around you; you might even make grand-sounding expressions of sorrow for the principle of ‘civilized clemency’ sacrificed at the altar of mob-sentiment and common expediency. Yet you would rejoice all the same, deep within your heart, that justice had been done.
· Okay, so let’s say you’re right. Let’s say I would be happy that they die. So what? (325)
Why, then, you’re no different from the people of truly Catholic countries during the times of the Inquisition… now are you?
· What are you getting at? Are you trying to tell me that, deep at heart, I’m just as savage & ruthless as my ancestors? (326)
No. I am actually & successfully telling you, as well as anyone else who has the requisite intelligence to understand, that you can recognize justice when you see it. And murder --- unjust killing --- is the ultimate crime when it comes to hatred or anger. It is the ultimate cost, the ultimate debt incurred, morally speaking. For what more can you take from a man other than his life?
Consequently --- and call it ‘instant karma’, if you like, should this suit your present religious tastes --- execution of a murderer is a just killing, it being the carrying out of justice itself, as you are plainly able to see by the example concerning the arrogant white men and their brutal savagery against the black man. It is the ultimate crime met with the ultimate punishment, the ultimate debt paid with the ultimate price. Short of being able to bring back the life of the man himself, it is the only totally just payment that anyone can make in this life for the awful & unjust theft of that man’s physical existence… to pay justly with the loss of his own physical existence.
· Capital punishment doesn’t deter crime, you know. (327)
This is neither the time nor the place to argue the ‘pragmatic’ merits of capital punishment. If you wish to study the subject more carefully, then please see the entry entitled Death Penalty. I will post it as soon as possible in the Q&A category. Suffice it to say that ‘pragmatic’ deterrence of other crimes is not the primary reason for having a death penalty in the first place, and that our administration of the death penalty in this nation is frequently unjust due to Godless laws & a grievously flawed court system. In the meantime, it is a popular fairy tale amongst intellectuals that penal execution of criminals can never be an efficacious deterrent to other potential criminals.
But let’s keep on track. The main point here is that there
are times when violence or even killing are called
for. To wit, that they are the right & necessary
thing to do. For example, this is why Albert Einstein --- who aside
from being a very famous physicist was also a very fervent pacifist ---
essentially shut his mouth and said nothing publicly on behalf of pacifism from
the mid-1930s until the mid-1940s. He had despised Hitler’s
People might disagree vehemently about when violence or killing are the right & necessary thing to do, but practically no one --- except for, perhaps, Jainists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and certain followers of Mohandas Ghandi who are ignorant of what he really taught & believed concerning pacifism --- would dare to deny that it sometimes really is the thing that must be done. Yet if sometimes the thing that must be done, then nobody can even pretend to have any rational grounds to condemn Roman Catholics merely because they wielded violence & execution against people during the Inquisition or Crusades. Rather, the real issue is revealed to be at the heart of the following fundamentally crucial question:
Did Roman Catholics ever have just cause for the violence & killing?
· This is preposterous! (328)
To the contrary, it is you who is being preposterous. After all, if a total stranger were to brutally assault you, strangling you by the throat till you’re nearly unconscious, will you hesitate to grab a nearby knife and plunge it into his heart? And will a court of law not uphold your action as an entirely justifiable means of self-defense?
Then there is indeed at least sometimes just cause for violence & killing.
· Yes, but no one was strangling Roman Catholics during the Inquisitions or Crusade. (329)
Not so. You may not want to believe it, but Roman Catholicism is The Only Way that God has made for men to save their immortal souls, the Roman Catholic Church being Jesus’ Singularly Unique Body on Earth. Perfectly good sense & overwhelming proof for this amazing assertion can be found in my book, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus --- the first 72 chapters of which are now posted in the Books & Articles section of this website as I write these words --- and in the Questions & Answers entry entitled Salvation, which I will post (God willing) very shortly.
Ergo, give me a nation that is truly & wholly Roman Catholic
and you have a nation, including its government, that
recognizes this imperative truth --- that there is no Hope of Salvation ever
for any man outside of membership in the
Do you comprehend, my dear reader?
Such actions are equivalent to strangling the souls of men by taking away saving grace from their earthly lives, which is how our souls breathe and so stay alive forever! And this is simple, straightforward, ironclad sense we’re talking here. Should you have a problem with it, it’s not with the reasoning itself that you can rightly quibble. Because the reasoning is beyond reproach & hence inarguable. Rather, it is the foundation upon which the reasoning is based that you have a beef with, with what logicians would call the premise. To wit, the dogma of ‘no Salvation outside the Catholic Church’. This is what you reject; this is where your problem lies.
Resolve this problem in favor of the literal truth of the dogma and your beef with Catholicism flies away… and the Inquisition & Crusades suddenly don’t look so very ‘hideous’ or ‘atrocious’ in anybody’s sight. They are, in fact, in no way different --- in actual principle --- from someone wielding a knife in desperation to save his life from a stranger who is brutally attacking him and is about to choke him to death.
· This is ridiculous. Even if I were to admit that there’s no Salvation outside the Catholic Church, no one has the right to keep anybody from practicing the religion that he chooses! (330)
Stop and think for a minute about what you’re really saying.
Because if there truly is no Salvation outside of the Catholic Church --- and Catholicism is literally infallible in Her Teachings, which is the only way that people could be assured of obtaining Salvation provided that they become members of this Church by holding to all that She professes & obeying all that She commands in the first place --- then you are as much as saying that people have a right to commit spiritual murder.
· That’s not what I’m saying at all. (331)
Yes --- it is.
Pull your thinking cap down more snugly onto your head and grit your teeth. Ponder hard. Then think it through very simply but meticulously:
Let’s say someone’s religion tells him to strangle people. And, hearkening back to our example a few questions ago, let’s say you happen to be one of those poor people. Now, sitting comfortably, as you probably are, reading this composition (in contrast to gasping for breath while his fervent hands throttle your throat and wring the last bit of life from your body), you should be able to consider the issue carefully while at the same time answering the question honestly. Would you hesitate to grab a nearby knife in order to stab your attacker to death?
· I wouldn’t want to kill him. Just wound him, stop him from doing what he’s doing. (332)
Nice idea, but it doesn’t ultimately work. The man is utterly devoted to his religious principle of strangling people into the grave. And once started, he makes sure he finishes the job. A mere flesh wound won’t stop him. Short of his own demise nothing can keep him from carrying out his duty --- of choking you to death. So I ask again:
Would you hesitate to grab a nearby knife in order to kill him?
· Well, if you put that way… sure I would. Who wouldn’t? (333)
Indeed… who wouldn’t?
But allow me to turn the tables on you for a moment…
You stuck up savage! You pompous, narrow-minded, antiquated bigot! How dare you harass a man because of his religion. No one has the right to stop anyone from practicing the spiritual beliefs of his own choice. You should be locked up in a psych unit & treated for a serious lack of judgment. No, scratch that. You should be locked up & treated for being nasty & judgmental! And to think you’ll spread this poison to your children.
· I’m being strangled to death. (334)
In your opinion. Everyone has his own truth; not everyone sees things the same way as you do. Get it through your thick skull! You shouldn’t force your beliefs on anybody else.
· But the guy is murdering me… (335)
Okay, so you feel that your life is threatened. That’s natural in this kind of a situation where you’re being exposed to another way of doing things. Your way is not the only way. Not that I’m attacking your point of view --- what you believe is fine for you. However, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop preaching at me and quit trying to force your beliefs down my throat. And for your information, the fellow you claim is ‘strangling’ you doesn’t see it that way at all. He’s actually trying to save your life by performing a delicate & spiritually profound technique on your neck that is intrinsic to his unique & valuable religious tradition, and that will enable you to dispense with the need to breathe. I.e., assuming you let him finish it. And if you’d just cooperate with him… well, who knows? At the very least you’d broaden your horizons & become more respectful to alternative spiritual paths. How in the world can this hurt you?
· I can’t breathe, that’s how it’s hurting me! (336)
Because you’re so uptight & close-minded about other people’s religious beliefs & spiritual practices! Try relaxing and not being so judgmental toward everybody. You’ll find you get along with people a whole lot better.
· Are you serious? If I stop breathing, I die. How is that better? Man, I feel like punching your lights out. (337)
You know, your bigotry & religious intolerance are truly amazing. You make absolutist claims about a subject susceptible to a wide variety of interpretations. Is there any room in your small, darkened, narrow mind for peace, love & brotherhood? Can’t you respect his beliefs? Can’t you be respectful of other religions? Must you pretend to have all the answers? And if you insist on having absolute truth, must you talk like you’re the only one who’s right and rub it in people’s faces? Do you have to be so insensitive to the convictions of others? Don’t you know how arrogant & offensive you sound to everybody around you?
· This is insane. (338)
My dear soul, welcome to modern life when it comes to the Catholic Religion. Because people today really are insane in their attitude toward Catholicism. The man strangling you, in the hypothetical example above, represents those persons involved in a false religion who attack the Catholic Church. Either they are Catholics who betray the Church by espousing & practicing false religion, or else they are non-Catholics who tempt Catholics out of the Church by openly practicing false religion within their sight or spreading their falsehoods under cover of secrecy, or else they are non-Catholics who brutally terrorize Catholics into abandoning their religion and who try to destroy the holy things of the Catholic Church. Whatever the exact situation, they strangle the grace right out of men’s souls, making it nigh-well impossible for them to spiritually breathe and thus damning them to the Fiery Pit of Hell & death forevermore.
Now, if a man getting strangled to death has a knife available nearby, he’ll use it to stop his attacker, won’t he? This is called self-defense. On the other hand, there isn’t always a knife or other kind of weapon around. In which case, it is in the Hands of Heaven to save this man from the physical death that threatens, should God choose to do so.
Likewise Catholics in facing the religious enemies of the Catholic Church. In a non-Catholic country, obviously no laws can be made against all false religions --- neither could they be pragmatically enforced even if they were legislated. Or suppose that non-Catholics enslaved a Catholic land, but that no other Catholic countries were strong enough --- or willing enough --- to oppose them. Then, of course, nothing beyond moral resistance could be attempted. It would be in the Hands of Heaven to save such Catholic souls from the spiritual death which threatens, should God be willing to do so.
But this is not the case in a truly Catholic country, or in a world were at least several truly Catholic lands exist. Then the knife is available. To wit, a religious sword with material power that can be wielded in defense of the members of the True Faith on earth.
· This is sheer militarism. What are you going to do, conquer the world and force people to convert? (339)
You muddy the waters. In terms of logic, this is known as the straw man tactic. You state a position as if it is the position of your opponent, when, in fact, it is not. Let it therefore be understood by anyone who dares to read these words:
No real Catholic is talking about converting the world to Catholicism through military conquest or ‘forcing’ conversions by terrorizing people with brute strength. Period.
Rather, we’re talking about protecting the Catholic Church in wholly Catholic countries from those who attack Her, these attackers either 1) Catholic to start and then leaving Her membership (thereby damning their souls & potentially causing other Catholics to be infected with their rebellion), or 2) Catholic to start but secretly persuading other Catholics to leave the Catholic Faith while pretending to remain Catholic (thereby damning their souls & potentially causing other Catholics to be infected by their rebellion), or 3) non-Catholic and openly practicing their false religion in the sight of Catholics in a Catholic land (thereby potentially poisoning their minds against the uniqueness of the True Faith & causing them to damn their souls), or 4) non-Catholic and brutally assaulting Catholics or destroying various holy things of the Catholic Church (thereby attempting to cow them into denying their Religion or making it difficult to practice it, and hence potentially damning their immortal souls).
In any case, no real Roman Catholic is talking about taking someone who is not Catholic to begin with and ‘forcing’ him through the menace of military power, or other kind of violent threat, to ‘convert’ to the Catholic Faith.
End of sentence.
Yeah, well, what about the Crusades? Were the Muslims in the
You’re not thinking straight. The Catholic countries of Europe did not attack the Muslims in the Middle East because they were trying to ‘convert’ these Muslims, but because the Muslims themselves first militarily attacked & conquered Catholic peoples & lands in the Middle East. It was therefore a defensive operation on the part of Catholics, to protect even more enslaved Catholics from converting to Islam out of fear for their lives and to protect the holy places of Palestine from being further desecrated or destroyed by haters of the Catholic Religion, as well as allow Catholics to make pilgrimages there --- as they had for centuries on end when the land was under their rule --- in order to venerate these holy places & the wonderful events which took place at them, thereby winning graces for their souls.
Even most modern history books admit as much. They may not tell the whole story, like I just have in the brief synopsis above, but they will say that the land of Palestine was ruled by Catholics before the Muslims took over --- or, at least, if you read carefully, you will see that this is the logical conclusion to make from what they actually do tell you.
Ergo, if we’re going to point fingers, then why did Muslims
seek to conquer lands that were Catholic in the
Hardly the actions of a militaristically proselytizing people, are
That’s very clever of you.
Notwithstanding, it is far too simplistic the way contemporary
historians portray the affair, as if all that really compelled the Spaniards
was greed & lust for power. This is nonsense. Many involved in the take
over of Central & South America were men of great piety & intense
devotion to the precepts of the Catholic Church. Avarice & lust for power
were not their primary motive. On the other hand, it’s fair
to characterize the sailors & soldiers of
In summation, the Conquest of the
Nonetheless, such efforts by European Catholics to convert them were at first almost a complete failure. Which illustrates all the more that Catholics did not use ‘violence’ to compel conversions amongst the Amerindians of Central & South America, as some modern persons seem to believe. Because if the Catholics were so ‘ruthless’ and ‘cruel’ as people nowadays allege, then why weren’t there conversions en masse right from the start, natives immediately cowed through fear for their lives & well-being into embracing the religion of their conquerors? Instead, the Amerindians resisted for many years the proselytizing of gentle priests & monks. Most of them were no worse off than they had been under their former masters (indeed, the Aztecs had enslaved all the tribes around for hundreds of square miles, taking thousands of victims from among them as sacrifices to their gods on an annual basis and thus making the fortune of these tribes even better under the Spanish than it had been prior to the conquest), the only real losers being those who had held power before the conquerors came (e.g., the Aztec rulers themselves). Consequently, it was neither European ‘ruthlessness’ that eventually converted them nor necessarily European ‘cruelty’ that hardened their hearts against conversion till then.
No, it took the Blessed Virgin Mary miraculously imprinting Her image on an Indian convert’s cactus-fiber coat in 1531, as Our Lady of Guadalupe, to convince these Indians in massive numbers that they should enter the religion of their conquerors. Prior to this, most of them spurned the preaching of the holy monks & priests. Nursing resentments that the Europeans did not just up & disappear after conquering their former rulers --- what they had not been able to do on their own for countless years before the Catholics came --- they clung to the pagan gods which had never helped them accomplish this during their long oppression under the hand of other Indians.
Quite a different picture from what we’re presented today, is it not?
· Okay, so maybe you’re right. I’d have to study it more to be sure. But what about the Inquisition? How can you stop a man from leaving Catholicism if that’s what he freely chooses to do? (342)
Actually, you can’t stop a man from leaving the Catholic Faith if that’s what he’s determined to do. He has free will. All you can do is punish him for doing so, getting him, perhaps, to think twice either before he does so or after he has done so.
· Well, that’s what I’m talking about! Where do you get off thinking it’s right to do this? You yourself said it. He has free will! (343)
Because free will is not the same as sovereign will.
· I don’t get you. (344)
Just because a man is always free to will something, doesn’t mean he’s always free to accomplish it successfully or without repercussions.
I mean, do we allow someone to cry “Fire!” in a crowded theatre and even though there’s no fire at all, the person pulling a stupid prank on everyone?
Of course not. And yet, the prankster has free will, does he not? How is it, then, that we oppose his freedom to do as he will? And the answer:
We can’t necessarily keep him from doing what he will. An idiot prankster can, should he choose, yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre and probably no one is going to be able to stop him prior to doing so. However, we can put the fear of punishment into him. We can, too, train our children & suffuse our society with the understanding that it is incredibly wrong to do so, that the pain, confusion & chaos which transpires is not worth the tiny bit of fun which the prankster gains by doing so. Yet should the potential prankster be too stupid or wicked to feel any pain of conscience about his dumb trick, we can make it clear to him that the punishment which results is so hurtful & unpleasant that he will never wish to risk it!
Or consider an example that is even more apropos. Let’s say
an American citizen rejects the
Do we allow him the freedom to do as he will?
Most Americans would concede his ‘right’ to reject the
Or ponder an example that is dead-on equivalent to the situation of the Catholic Church, which is the Ecclesial Body of Jesus Christ. Consider your own body, and the parts of that body. Let’s say those parts have minds of their own, being in some ways independent creatures that, in other ways, nevertheless cooperate with one another to form a unified whole. And let’s say one day that your right leg decides to leave, becoming a part of another body entirely.
Does it have the freedom to do as it will?
This is really not so far off from yet another example that we may
examine --- the example of our own nation during the Civil War. Because a nation, especially a large nation, is like a corporate body.
And what was the cry of the southern states? “We have
the freedom” --- and thus the ‘right’ --- “to separate
from the rest of the
Did the southern states have the freedom to do as they willed from the perspective of the corporate body of our country and its leaders?
The common thread to all of these examples is the presence of freedom (whether real or only hypothetical) for parts of something-bigger-than-themselves to always will as they choose. And the common consequence of every one of these examples is the additional absence of sovereignty for parts of that something-bigger-than-themselves to always accomplish what they will, successfully or without repercussions.
That is to say, the something-bigger-than-themselves to which they belong will sometimes oppose their freedom of will, not allowing them the freedom to accomplish what they choose --- and necessarily so, or else the something-bigger-than-themselves to which they belong cannot survive unhurt or as easily achieve what it’s designed to do… not to mention that the part itself will oftentimes suffer grievously, too, cut off from its former whole!
Now you tell me, dear reader:
How is this any different, in principle, than Catholics in a Catholic nation opposing & punishing a Catholic for freely choosing to leave the Catholic Church for a false religion? And Catholics don’t even pretend to be able to ‘force’ this wayward Catholic to stop his betrayal, they only make it hard for him to do so, punishing him should he persist in the lies & wickedness of a false religion which will lead him straight to Everlasting Hell. Moreover, such punishment serves to warn other Catholics of the peril to their souls should they imitate his bad example.
Yet why do they have the ‘right’ to punish a wayward Catholic who exercises free will?
Because the Roman Catholic Church is a greater whole,
being the literal Body of Jesus Christ. Did the leaders of our country during the 1860s allow southern
states to get away with ripping apart the political body of the
Then why should the Body of Jesus, the Roman Catholic Church, let a part of Her Body inflict harm upon Herself without seeking to defend Herself, which defense includes protecting, punishing or healing all of the individual parts of Her Sacred Body?
When you belong to something-bigger-than-you, my dear soul, you cease to belong solely to yourself. You become responsible to the others who are a part of this bigger something, as well as to the something-bigger-than-you itself. This is why a child, who had no choice in the matter of what family he was born into, or of what country he gains his citizenship from at birth, is still responsible to follow his parents and obey the laws of his country. Lack of individual choice at the beginning of your life does not absolve you of the need to participate rightly in & cooperate correctly with the something-bigger-than-yourself to which you belong straight from the beginning.
Or, to put it another way:
We are all of us parts of something-bigger-than-ourselves right from the start, even without our choice involved in the matter. And whether chosen by each of us or not, the something-bigger-than-ourselves necessarily demands from us obligations that enable both it & us to fulfill the purpose for which we’re all designed.
Hence, whether baptized into the Catholic Church as a baby or only baptized later on into the Church as an adult by one’s free choice, the obligation the person incurs is the same in both cases:
To fulfill the Divine Purpose of the Body of God, which is to save souls so that they might live & rule in Heaven Forevermore in order to praise, worship, magnify & adore the Almighty Creator, He Who was, is, and is to come. Amen.
This is why Catholics can corporally punish other Catholics who wander astray from the Ecclesial Body of the Church in a wholly Catholic country, and despite their freedom of will to choose to do so. It is why the United States bloodily fought the states of the South to stop their rebellion in spite of them freely choosing to do so (which is, incidentally, almost perfectly identical, in principle, to what the Catholics of France did in militarily assaulting the Albigensian heretics after efforts to reconvert them were only mildly successful, the Inquisition unable to cope with their number & insolence, not to mention their assassinations of leaders & coups against governments), and why you yourself would fight against & punish your own right leg were it to try to autonomously leave your body to strike out on its own or join the body of another.
· Alright, but what about all the torture that was committed by the Inquisition? That’s just plain sadistic. (345)
You, my dear soul, in all probability don’t know the amount of ‘torture’ that actually occurred during the Inquisition. Nobody does at this point in time since, even if careful enough records were kept and still existed today, the vast majority of modern people simply accept --- on the basis of a supposed scholarly ‘authority’ --- what members of modern academia have pronounced on the subject. In other words, you take it on trust that these purported ‘authorities’ are right, never once thinking to reserve judgment, challenge their claims or investigate the historical sources for yourself.
Yet what if they’re wrong? What if they don’t actually know what they’re talking about, or are liars and want to hide something? What if they have an ax to grind against the Catholic Church, and wish to ‘embarrass’ Her or destroy Her reputation?
Obviously, anyone with a brain nowadays who pays attention can know that modern scholars are prejudiced against the Roman Catholic Faith. This is no big news. The main thing is, how do you know that they’re right in their conclusions about the Catholic Church?
And the answer:
All you can do is choose to trust them or not. And if you’re prejudiced against the Catholic Church --- if you yourself hate what the Roman Catholic Religion teaches --- then, naturally, it is overwhelmingly likely that you’re going to choose to trust them… and despite not having any real certainty that they’re both honest & correct!
Yet let us not bog down in wranglings over epistemology (how we can know what we think we know) & historical documentation (which is primarily how we can know what we think we know about what happened in the past). You can investigate the first topic more extensively by reading the Epistemology entry in Q&A when I can post it, and by studying the separate entries on the Inquisition and the Crusades in Q&A, likewise.
For now let us concentrate on the real pith of the issue. Let us,
for the sake of argument, accept the claims that enormous amounts of
‘torture’ happened during the Inquisition, particularly in
Did Roman Catholics ever have just cause for the torture & pain inflicted?
· But torture is abominable! (346)
Not so. Torture is merely one person inflicting upon another what the another does not like. Do people like getting put in prison? No, they do not. But do many of them, at least, deserve to be put in prison in order to pay for their crimes, to keep them from committing more crimes, and to deter other potential criminals from perpetrating similar crimes? Yes, they do. Ergo, we torture people routinely in this country without batting an eyelid over the fact.
· It’s not the same thing. I’m talking about physical torture. (347)
Imprisoning a person’s body is physical.
· No, I mean inflicting physical pain on a person. That kind of torture is barbaric! (348)
You only say that because no one likes to endure physical pain. Hence, when we see another human being in such pain, particularly in terrible pain, we wince with sympathy, knowing how it must hurt. Yet this alone does not explain why we reactionarily oppose today, in a growing segment of our population, any & all infliction of physical pain for the purpose of punishment or amendment, and regardless of how mild it might be.
What it boils down to is this:
We today presume earthly pleasure to be the highest good. Consequently, earthly suffering must be the greatest evil. Therefore, infliction of physical pain --- for whatever reason --- is the most horrendous atrocity imaginable. Indeed, so far has this perversion of thought taken over people’s minds that they also imagine that no one could possibly inflict physical pain on another for a good reason or out of a good motive. Ergo, spanking children is a terrible thing, and parents who practice corporal punishment only do so because they are, deep down inside, some sort of power-loving sadists who enjoy inflicting pain on another, weaker person for the sake of a twisted pleasure.
But it goes even deeper than that. We today grow increasingly wary of inflicting pain on someone, for the purpose of punishment or amendment, because we are so very aware of how much we ourselves justly deserve such inflicted pain in punishment for our sins! To wit, the flames of an everlasting hell. As a result, in rebelling against this reality (that a just God will one day call us to account for our sins against Him & His Purpose for our lives on earth), we more & more refuse to accept such punishment inflicted on either us or others while alive on this earth. Because to accept such punishment is to tacitly admit that God is just & correct for inflicting such punishment everlastingly in Hell upon those souls who rebel against Him up till, and especially at, the bitter end when they die upon the earth. Yet if this is the case --- that such punishment is indeed, on this earth, often necessary or helpful to our lives --- then how in the world can they justify rejecting the Doctrine of Hell out of hand or that the Catholic Church is God’s sole provision for saving a man’s immortal life from what is an otherwise certain & hideous fate?
This is why you hear, my dear reader --- and tediously common it is for the last half century --- endless variations on the following standard comment: “I refuse to believe that a loving God would condemn people to Hell forever.” And yet the only reason these people are condemned to Hell forever, my dear soul, is because they’re so filled with hatred against the aforesaid loving God. As Jesus said to His disciples:
“If you love me, keep my commandments… He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:15, 21 DRC, emphases added)
“He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Luke 11:23 DRC, emphases added)
Pretty simple stuff. If you love the loving God, then you obey His commandments. While, on the other hand, if you don’t obey His commandments --- whether because you don’t want to or because you never had them to begin with --- then you can’t love the loving God. Nor is there any in-between. Jesus gave only two options: you’re either for Him or against Him, viz., that you either love Him or hate Him. There’s no imaginary ‘neutrality’ of a supposed ‘ignorance’ or total ‘indifference’ when it comes to Jesus Christ and His Singular Body & Religion of Catholicism. All human beings with at least adequate minds can know that they’re created by God. They also are able to know that this Creator made them for a purpose, the design of which must involve their minds & wills since He gave them minds & wills in the first place. Ergo, they are responsible to seek this purpose, the goal for which He designed them. This is why Jesus said, too:
“Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 DRC, emphasis added)
The point is, we have no excuse. We could seek. We could stop pretending that we’re infallible, in & of ourselves, and actually look for --- and listen to when we find it, taking it seriously --- the testimony of God’s Infallible Catholic Church. Instead, we act like it doesn’t matter. Whereas we could believe, and we could convert. We are not without the opportunities. Every second we breathe, each thought we think, is a chance to use our strength correctly & employ our minds rightly, looking earnestly, to discover God’s Commandments and learn to obey them.
That we do not do so is a measure of our hatred toward God.
· Are you telling me it’s okay to beat someone? (349)
I’m telling you that it’s perfectly alright for an authority to punish someone by inflicting physical pain, provided the punishment is for a just cause & is commensurate with the crime. Elsewise, how is it that an Almighty God inflicts the most excruciating pain in Hell upon rebellious souls everlastingly, upon those souls who hate Him? Either it’s right to do on earth what God carries out in Hell, punishing souls who rebel against God’s commandments --- sin being the breaking of His commandments & what constitutes hatred toward Him --- or else God Himself is wrong to punish like He does, whether on earth or in Hell.
And while there are now many people reckless enough to accuse God of being wrong in this matter, most people today simply take the easy way out --- they just pretend that God doesn’t purposely punish anyone at all. In a word, they make-believe that we live in a fantasy world where Hell doesn’t exist.
· The idea of an everlasting Hell is too hideous to fathom! (350)
What’s almost too hideous to fathom is a man’s rebellion against God & His rightfully appointed authority. That is to say, God either sanctions or tacitly permits certain men to exercise His authority on earth on His behalf. The airy fairy ‘never never land’ that most conservative Protestants imagine --- where God is supposedly in control but never actually does anything in the way of punishment till men die or the world comes to an end --- is a crock. They buy into the too-good-to-be-true, used-car-salesman-promises of so-called ‘democracy’ just like everybody else. The modern adage of ‘power corrupts’ is repeated ad infinitum mindlessly, like a sci-fi android slowly breaking down. Hence, the apparent administration of governing power in our modern day world is dispersed & ‘counterbalanced’, and most individuals think they must have the maximum purported ‘liberty’ to do whatever they want… i.e., provided that what they want never contradicts or attacks the principles of modern times. Then, oddly enough, the idea of a maximum ‘liberty’ for the individual person to do as he wishes flies out the window and an old-fashioned sternness, strictness, stigma & punishment makes a rather sudden & unexpected comeback in dealing with such contrary people.
· But… corporal & capital punishment are just so wrong. (351)
Are they? Then God Himself is ‘wrong’ to have
sanctioned such behavior on the part of His divinely-appointed authority on
earth during the
“If any man commit adultery with the wife of another, and defile his neighbour’s wife, let them be put to death, both the adulterer and the adulteress.” (Leviticus 20:10 DRC, emphases added)
It bears pointing out, too, that the Bible
is very clear how the one saying the words in the verse quoted above is God,
speaking through Moses. Ergo --- and as I just noted --- God Himself
requires the punishment stated, a punishment that could be very painful.
E.g., Moses informs members of the
“When there shall be found among you within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God shall give thee, man or woman that do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, and transgress his covenant, so as to go and serve strange [false] gods, and adore them, the sun and the moon, and all the host of heaven, which I have not commanded: and this is told thee, and hearing it thou hast inquired diligently, and found it to be true, and that the abomination is committed in Israel: thou shalt bring forth the man or the woman, who have committed that most wicked thing, to the gates of thy city, and they shall be stoned. By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall he die that is to be slain. Let no man be put to death, when only one beareth witness against him. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to kill him, and afterwards the hands of the rest of the people: that thou mayest take away the evil out of the midst of thee.” (Deuteronomy 17:2-7 DRC, emphases & annotation added)
Stoning to death was normally neither quick nor painless, but could be very drawn out & excruciating. What’s more, note how Moses insists that they have “inquired diligently” prior to executing the ultimate penalty of death. To ‘inquire’ is the foundation of an ‘inquisition’ --- an inquiry into the facts surrounding an allegation. Therefore, God Himself through His prophet, Moses, both sanctions a religious inquisition and requires that it be done diligently… i.e., carefully & logically. Which only makes sense, because what does our government do when people transgress the law, especially seriously? They launch an inquiry, an investigation --- an inquisition! --- into the matter, to see if the allegations bear merit. Be the charges substantiated carefully & logically in a court of law, then the guilty party is summarily sentenced… punished. Consequently, how can modern persons condemn Roman Catholic countries for doing religiously what they themselves in their own countries do secularly?
Is this not hypocrisy?
Indeed, the foolishness in modern times is even greater. Because
note how Moses forbids the nation of the
Yet compare this with our way of doing things now during our supposedly ‘enlightened’ times. Every year great numbers of men are put on death row via the testimony of but one eyewitness, and, in many cases, without a single eyewitness to the actual crime at all, the evidence being entirely circumstantial & deductive. That this is deeply flawed is proven by the growing number of old convictions overturned on the grounds of new & more convincing circumstantial evidence (often derived genetically, or from some other improved forensic technique). As a result, innocent men sentenced to death are snatched from the jaws of an impending execution and guiltless persons who lost a decade or more of their lives to prison are spared an even longer imprisonment. And while the minimum-two-eyewitnesses principle in an imperfect world cannot guarantee that we will always get accurate convictions (for instance, particularly desperate, biased or evil witnesses could collude in a lie) --- not to mention that many criminals might evade punishment for their crimes --- it would most certainly, undoubtedly, reduce by an enormous percentage the amount of men headed to death or lengthy imprisonment without just cause.
· So where are you headed with this? (352)
A person who admits the existence of God and the truth of the Bible, including the Old Testament, cannot reasonably deny that God established & sanctioned the existence of a country wherein only one religion --- His Religion! --- was allowed by them to be openly practiced. Moreover, serious allegations about sins against this religion, whether in regard to its truth or to its commandments, were investigated thoroughly (inquired into carefully, amounting to an inquisition) and, if adequately verified, punished in ways that we today call ‘cruel’, ‘severe’ & ‘abominable’. Yet God Himself approved this arrangement; nay, commanded it through His prophet! This proves, to someone who admits God exists and claims to believe in the Bible, that modern people who tout ‘religious liberty’ or condemn ‘corporal punishment’ are in opposition to the Creator. Or do they pretend that God is not perfect or all-knowing, and that He changes His Mind according to the latest human persuasions when it comes to religion & punishment?
Yet even if they irrationally refuse to acknowledge that God supports the very thing on earth which they detest, in admitting an inerrant Bible they cannot deny that God Himself practices & condones the most excruciating corporal & capital punishment imaginable… everlasting hellfire. Ergo, how is it that our divinely-permitted authorities on earth shouldn’t copy Him by administering a just death or inflicting well-deserved punishment, as if doing so is ‘intrinsically’ wrong? To say we ought not to do this is to also deny that all authority on earth derives from God. That is, since God is in control of all things, then, whether or not He directly established or approved of a leader or government, He most certainly allows them to govern for the time being. And the purpose of government is to ensure justice & order among men. Specifically, to see that God’s purpose & design for human beings on earth is carried out, His rules obeyed. But how is this to happen successfully if God forbids leaders to uphold the first three of His Ten Commandments (the ones about practicing solely & rightly God’s Own Religion) or restrains them from punishing those who break any of the commandments in some grievous way?
This is precisely our situation today regarding the first three of the Ten Commandments, as well as the sixth and the ninth commandments. To wit, religion & adultery. Those in authority have their hands tied, not only told not to uphold them, but are expected to blatantly encourage people to break them. E.g., the citizens of our nation are not only not told that Catholicism is God’s Sole Religion, the one that He started and the only Hope of Salvation, but are also encouraged to ‘believe’ whatever they want, religiously speaking, since it’s their ‘right’ to do so just as long as they don’t actually go around acting like their ‘beliefs’ are most literally, objectively or exclusively true & the only way to save a person’s soul. In addition, the citizens of our nation are not only not told that adultery, fornication & other impurities are wrong, but are instead encouraged to commit adultery, to fornicate as much as they want, and to indulge pornography, immodest dress or lustful thoughts wherever possible since it’s their ‘right’ to do so as a ‘consenting’ adult. And this doesn’t even begin to grapple with the atrocity of murdering babies in their mothers’ wombs under the guise of a woman’s ‘choice’ to do so, as if God condones breaking the fifth commandment (the one against murder) by killing the most blameless & defenseless of all human lives for the sake of our wicked pleasure in fornicating & our personal convenience of continuing to pursue pleasure in life afterwards!
Nevertheless, you will most likely still hate Catholic leaders of a Catholic country for daring to use the power of the sword to defend their religion against those non-Catholics who attack it & punish those of their fellow citizens who betray it. You will still almost certainly loathe Catholic leaders in a Catholic country for daring to inflict pain (torture, as you will insist on calling it, with all of the pejorative connotations now attached to the word during modern times) during the Inquisition, and even though I’ve now repeatedly shown you how the behavior of our own peers & era is hardly any different in upholding moral strictures (for instance, condemning racism, sexism & opposition to homosexuals) and religious dogmas peculiar to our times (e.g., that God doesn’t care what religion you are or doesn’t bother punishing those who die practicing a false religion). Yet why did Catholics sometimes inflict pain on the accused while inquiring? Mind you, we’re not talking about punishment once a verdict has been reached. It is sheer hypocrisy for a modern person to condemn Roman Catholic nations for doing this when we ourselves nowadays will punish wrongdoers once the verdict has been reached; no, I’m talking about inflicting pain on a person before a final verdict has been reached. Isn’t this, everyone thinks, an example of irrational cruelty on the part of the inquisitors?
· Exactly. (353)
And the answer --- no.
· What? (354)
· How in the world do you have the gall to say ‘no’? (355)
As I noted at the end of the response to Question #345, everything boils down to this all-important consideration:
Did Roman Catholics ever have just cause for the torture & pain inflicted?
You, my dear reader, presume out of thin air --- not knowing the facts and believing in falsehoods --- that Roman Catholics could never have had just cause for inflicting pain on a person during the Inquisition prior to reaching a final verdict.
Think about it. Once again, transcend your passions & biases and work hard to put yourself in the shoes of a real Catholic in a truly Catholic country which is under attack from those who hate & despise the Catholic Church. Remember, too, that an honest-to-God Catholic really does know & believe that there is absolutely no hope of salvation outside profession & obedience to his Singular Faith. Therefore, everything must revolve in lesser importance around the correct espousal & right practice of this Utterly Unique Religion.
Everything --- there can be no exceptions. Eternal Life is the most crucial thing by far. A Catholic country with bad Catholics in it may not always live this truth properly, but no real Catholic can pretend it to be otherwise… and you, however much you may despise it, must honestly admit that it’s the only sensible thing to do given that someone really does believe it.
Which brings us to a fact of history, well-documented
by the intellectuals who lived at the time and generally admitted by all
scholars in recent days, even those who belong to the religion or ethnicity of
the people in question. Because an enormous amount of
Jews lived in
It was this terrible situation that the Inquisition in
Today the military doesn’t have to know for a reasonable
certainty that a man is a spy, terrorist or dangerous & knowledgeable enemy
soldier in order to torture him. The fact that we’re at war and think we
perceive a threat is, all by itself, thought to justify our actions. But in
One, in the case of apostate Catholics where the inquisitor had excellent reason to suspect that the man would sincerely denounce his heresy & do penance for his sin were a certain amount of pain applied, then he might authorize the use of torture within very rigorous limits to elicit such denunciations of heresy & penance for sins. The aim was not for twisted cruelty or a mindless exercise of power; it was for the salvation of a soul. Again, remember what a real Catholic knows & believes --- that there is no Salvation outside the Catholic Church. Knowing this, it is literally an act of utmost love to regain a soul from the damnable lies of false religion. It was this goal that inquisitors had in mind when faced with these cases and using these tactics.
And, two, in the case of traitorous Catholics or militant non-Catholics where the inquisitor had excellent reason to suspect, were a certain amount of pain applied, that such a man both could & would tell of other persons involved in a plot or a network of enemies, then he might authorize the use of torture within less rigorous but still very stringent limits to elicit such confessions. Again, the aim was not for the sake of twisted cruelty or a mindless exercise of power. It was for the safety of the One & Only Saving Catholic Church, outside of which no one has any hope of salvation, and for the good of the particular Catholic nation in which they happened to be. Knowing this, it is literally an act of love for the Church & Her members to protect Her Body and thus prevent even more souls from falling into heresy against the Church or rebellion against the Monarch.
Dear reader, your reactionary bias will still probably be against the use of physical pain for such purposes, nevertheless, it puts a totally different spin on things, does it not? Not at all what ignorant & virulent enemies of the Roman Catholic Church love to impugn Her with nowadays, is it? In their cartoonish view, the inquisitors are mere pulp fiction villains, caricatured as nasty men with a penchant for sadistic cruelty & lust for power. When, in reality, most of them were humble monks doing the job of an inquisitor only because their superiors commanded them to do so, and because they were utterly consumed by a deep spiritual desire for poverty, chastity & obedience!
They did not ‘enjoy’ inflicting pain. They did not relish making decisions, especially where the results were sad, the accused being guilty as charged. Most of them took no worldly pleasure in their duties. They prayed for the guilty and sought every opportunity to encourage their repentance, imposing only light sentences for those who did so.
Nor was ‘torture’ their first recourse or their only recourse. Reasoned discourse was the primary tool employed whenever the guilty were capable, intellectually speaking, of such methods. Sheer holiness, too, was often able to effect conversions. That is to say, some inquisitors were so holy that the Spirit of the Triune Catholic God exuded from them like perfume, or the fragrance from a flower, their sanctity alone frequently changing hard hearts into soft receptacles of God’s Grace.
Not only that, but many inquisitors paid the ultimate price for their obedience to duty. To wit, many of them were martyred for the Catholic Faith, angry Jews & violent heretics lying in wait for their lives at a most wicked yet opportune moment. Several of the inquisitors went to their posts knowing full well that they would be murdered.
Are these brave, holy & intelligent deeds commensurate with the ludicrously simplistic portrayals of modern times, the derelict actions of some kind of cruel despots?
Obviously not. The prejudices of modern times pervert the actual reality, painting a childish fantasy. Yet should you brandish doubts or have further questions, then please read the Q&A sections on the Inquisition and the Crusades to find out more. I will go into much greater detail & intricate documentation on those webpages, posting them as soon as I can. Meanwhile, what I’ve done thus far is sufficient, for the person of truly good will, to know that there is a whole other side to the subject and an entirely different view & tangible reality to the matter than the caricature that we’re given nowadays.
In short, both inquisitors and the Inquisition were of excellent
character & reputation. So much so that an accused man due to be brought
before a civil court might often beg to be put under the jurisdiction of an
ecclesiastical court --- viz., the much-slandered Inquisition. And why? Why would he do so? Because justice was sometimes
perverted in civil courts, the poor & powerless given short shrift while
the wealthy & strong would go their criminal ways by means of a timely
threat or luxurious bribe. Whereas everyone during the Middle Ages of a wholly
· You make it sound like they were perfect. (356)
Not so. Failure & corruption are a part of fallen human nature. It would be very surprising were not a few of the inquisitors, at least, during the course of several hundred years, guilty of wrongdoing. However, wrongdoing must be judged by right standards --- God’s Standards. Most people don’t do that nowadays. Furthermore, wrongdoing must be reasonably substantiated --- not made up out of thin air & undocumented, based solely upon popular prejudices or academic animus. Again, most people don’t do this nowadays. And, finally, wrongdoing must be condemned properly --- and not excoriated out of all proportion to the actual crime. Yet again, most people don’t exercise good judgment in these matters today. Their hearts are inflamed with an ignorant hatred toward everything that is Roman Catholic. The Inquisition is simply one of the most convenient of targets available to them, upon which they may vent their irrational spleen.
The point is, wrongdoing is far, far, far less a part of the Inquisition & Crusades than people want to believe. Most of them in their biases want to think that the Inquisition & Crusades were intrinsically wrong. I.e., that they were fundamentally flawed right at the very center of their existence, being totally unjustified. As we have seen, I having laid out the rational groundwork of the Inquisition & Crusades for any patient & reasonable man to examine in outline, this modern idea is mistaken… utterly mistaken. Nonetheless, and regardless of how terribly awry a real Catholic demonstrates them to be about this, people today will still want to imagine that the Inquisition & Crusades were filled to overflowing with all kinds of hideous ‘cruelties’ & ‘atrocities’. But as we have also seen, the necessary documentation being available to he who is willing to do a little scholarly research and not just depend on endless lines of modern hearsay repeating the same old fairy tales & lies about persons in the past who cannot defend themselves in the present, this modern prejudice is mistaken, too… grievously mistaken. Not that cruelties or atrocities never occurred. Rather, that any actual cruelties & atrocities were usually not what people think, and certainly not at all to the degree or number that they want to assume.
· But what about the bloodthirsty pogroms against the Jews, Protestants & etc., etc.? Surely the Catholic Church is guilty of their violent deaths, is She not? (357)
By ‘bloodthirsty pogroms’ I take you to mean ‘mob riots’ or ‘vigilante justice’. That is to say, behaviour that is unguided by official Church Authority and sometimes even opposed to Her Authority, wherein angry passions are indulged or rash judgments made. To which a good & thoughtful Catholic responds:
No pope ever made it formal Church policy to indiscriminately murder, beat or otherwise abuse Jews, heretics & etc., etc.
The popes have never, ever, at all, not one single bit, made it formal Church policy to indiscriminately murder, beat or otherwise abuse Talmudic Jews, publicly avowed heretics and other natural enemies of the Catholic Faith.
End of sentence.
Mind you, we’re not talking about just executions & punishments. We have already grappled with this, exposing modern prejudices against Catholicism for what they are, and showing how there is an obvious difference between unjust murder & an entirely just execution or between unjust abuse & a thoroughly just punishment. A distinction that modern people exercise, not hesitating to kill, or approve of the killing, of someone they believe deserves to die, and not refraining from torture, or approval of torture, of someone they think needs to suffer. It is pure hypocrisy to condemn Roman Catholics for doing what they themselves have no qualms about doing, or condoning, when it suits their own modern objectives & their own modern standards. Consequently, my dear reader, don’t dare to rack up supposed ‘tallies’ of how many died in this place or on that date at the hands of Catholics during the Middle Ages, including in such ‘tallies’ persons that were properly investigated & justly sentenced for a terrible crime against God’s Religion, or who had war properly declared against them & were justly attacked for a grievous offense against God’s People.
No, what I am addressing right now is the possibility of unjust killings & unjust abuses committed by persons who call themselves Catholic. And what I am drawing your attention to is the fact that unjust killings & unjust punishments were never encouraged or approved by any pope at any time, anywhere. Period!
Ergo, if & when members of the Catholic Church rioted against Jews, Protestants and so forth --- without justifiable charges drawn up or a rational investigation carried out, and the accused not allowed to properly defend himself before wise & impartial judges --- then such Catholics did so as bad Roman Catholics and not in obedience to orders from on high or as a result of some sort of ecclesial policy. Likewise, if & when members of the Catholic Church attacked Jews, Protestants and so forth during military operations --- without just cause or adequate warning, and the victims of the attacks being not only soldiers but also women, children, elders & invalids who ought to have been spared --- then such Catholics did so as bad Roman Catholics and not in obedience to orders from on high or as a result of some sort of ecclesial policy.
In short, these bad Catholics acted as ambassadors of their own angry passions or rash judgments, and not as emissaries of the Roman Catholic Church and Her Teachings & Commandments.
I did not deal with this earlier because Catholics are one in government, the indisputable visible head of this Catholic government being a pope, who is the representative of Christ on earth. Hence, the real issue is what the head authoritatively proclaims & commands. Catholics who act in concert with this head’s authoritative proclamations & commands are doing what the Church directs; Catholics who act apart from this head’s authoritative proclamations & commands, or even in opposition to his rightful proclamations & commands, are acting on their own and not as an extension of the Church. Their bad behaviour calumniates the Church in the sight of Her enemies --- it does not represent Her. To borrow an example from a few questions back, it’s as if the parts of our bodies had minds of their own. Then suppose that your own hand began to pummel a stranger, offended at something he did. Nevertheless, you yourself, in your mind, have neither directed nor willed the hand to do such a thing. Indeed, you even inveigh against it, ordering him to stop! Does your hand represent you, accurately reflecting your mind & will? Of course not. Unfortunately, being a part of your body, people who don’t like you will use the bad behaviour of your hand to calumniate you. Your enemies will rejoice, and slander your reputation with glee.
Such is the case with those who hate the Catholic Church.
The point is, everything I have said up until now regarding so-called ‘crimes’ of the Church deals with what the Church officially did, which is why I have focused exclusively on the Inquisition & Crusades, with only a short excursion into the matter of the Conquest of the New World. Riots & rampages are unofficial, being something the Church never sanctioned, never ordered, often condemned and frequently punished. Ergo, the Church cannot be held responsible for what She would not sanction, did not order, often condemned & frequently punished. They are, truly, something the Church could never countenance, the very nature of riots & rampages being a thing of disorder, confusion, chaos, mania, irrationality & mindless impulse. Whereas the hallmark of Catholicism is the rule of order, understanding, organization, self-control, reason, deductive logic & careful thought. To use the words ‘riot’ or ‘rampage’ in conjunction with Catholicism is almost an oxymoron.
· You do, nevertheless, admit that such riots & rampaging occurred? (358)
As far as I can tell thus far in my historical studies, riots, rampages & other unjustified attacks by members of the Catholic Church against Talmudic Jews, publicly avowed heretics, or so forth, did occur. Notwithstanding, the same proviso about inflated numbers of ‘murders’ and ‘tortures’ applies here, too. That is to say, modern people --- despising Catholicism with a blind passion --- will believe any figures presented, regardless of the source making the claim or the actual documentation that exists, just so long as the numbers are satisfyingly high & hence properly shocking to any ‘right-thinking’ person nowadays. Enemies of the Roman Catholic Church have already condemned Her in their own minds prior to seeing hard evidence or hearing solid testimony. They are especially not interested in listening to Roman Catholics defend Her reputation against such charges. As a result, factual accuracy of statistics is not uppermost in the minds of these enemies; any old numbers will do just so long as they can pass for looking ‘official’ and thereby appear to justify the enemy’s animosity against the Church.
But let us not quibble over statistics, numbers & figures. Let us take at face value even the most shocking of claims that foes of Catholicism might dare to promulgate, acting as if they are infallible little ‘popes’ that could never be wrong in their beliefs or judgments against the Church of Rome. What then?
My dear reader, this still doesn’t change anything. Consider:
The Church never sanctions fornication or adultery. She certainly doesn’t order Her members to fornicate or adulterate, and She frequently condemns those who do and has even punished them! And yet… members of the Catholic Church have often fornicated. Is, then, the Church Herself to be accused of teaching & abetting fornication or adultery? Is She to be held officially responsible for the sinful behaviour of Her bad members? Obviously not. The very fact that people despise Catholicism for refusing to permit Her members to divorce is proof of this, if any is needed.
Likewise the allegations of riots, rampages & other unjustified attacks. Riots & rampages are reprehensible precisely because they are mindless & hence at least potentially unjust. The Catholic Church can never, ever, sanction such behaviour on the part of Her members. While She may sympathize with an aggrieved Catholic, She cannot ever fail to sanction & uphold what God gave nearly every one of us rational minds to accomplish:
To seek out the facts carefully, weigh them justly, and draw the correct conclusions about things.
Riots are, by their very nature, the antithesis of this. Rampages are, as well, by their very nature, antithetical to this goal. Therefore, riots & rampages --- for whatever reason --- are against the Commandments of God & His Roman Catholic Church.
Yet let us not lose sight of a very important thing. To wit, that the enemies of the Catholic Church are really not interested in the riots, rampages or other unjustified attacks that Her bad members have sometimes perpetrated against others. No, what really, truly & actually offends them is merely that the Church of Rome has the audacity to oppose anyone who dares to oppose Her --- and does so because She is infallibly right when it comes to dogmatic truths & moral commandments.
Consequently, such enemies don’t stop at allegations of ‘riots’ and ‘rampages’. They throw in the whole kit & caboodle, holding Catholics as ‘guilty’ of any time that they have had the nerve to execute or punish traitorous members or dangerous foes, including the aforesaid examples of the Crusades, and especially of the Inquisition, that I have already amply explained --- and despite me having already demonstrated them to be entirely justified and almost completely just in how they were carried out!
Which leads one to wonder… do such enemies ever truly listen to a Catholic, think the things through that he said, or bother to address the actual points that are important with rebuttals that are pertinent to the original actual points which were given by the Catholic? Or do they just talk past a Catholic, never truly grappling with what he said, neither stopping to think carefully about what it means nor daring to draw the correct conclusions, based on the good sense & simple facts that were presented?
My dear soul, you have a God-given mind. Use it wisely, and don’t be ruled by your mindless passions against the Roman Catholic Church. Follow the good sense & clear facts wherever they might lead, even if it means admitting that Catholicism is (and here you are permitted to gasp if the thought seems too horrible to face) at least sometimes, upon occasion, however hard it is for you to fathom --- and however much you might want to think it astonishingly rare --- absolutely right.
And remember, as I said before in the response to Question #329,
your real problem with the Inquisition & Crusades, or any other official
acts of the Catholic Church, is not that the things themselves are somehow so
very intrinsically ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’ or ‘irrational’.
They are not. Given that there truly is no
Salvation outside the Catholic Church, then, as a rational consequence,
these things & their accompanying deeds truly are both right & reasonable.
Just as right & reasonable, for example, as most Americans thought it was
It is exactly the same for the Catholic Church, particularly in nations that are wholly & truly Catholic, in striving with the enemies & criminals arrayed against Her. The principle is identical.
· So what’s the bottom line to all of this? (359)
The bottom line is that most people don’t like the Catholic Church, which is the Body of Jesus Christ. Faced with the good sense, historical documentation & biblical proof for Her Dogmas --- or even with the merest hint of such evidence --- these people then fall back upon easy-to-make, popularly-believed slander in order to justify themselves in not taking God’s Roman Catholic Body seriously. Like soldiers fearful of losing too much on the ground during hand-to-hand combat, they call in air support to commence saturation bombing of their enemy. This air support --- this saturation bombing --- is the allegations concerning the Inquisition & Crusades, as well as to a lesser extent the accusations made about the Conquest of the New World, or about riots & rampages that the Church never officially sanctioned and instead openly condemned. After all, who in his right mind wants to have anything to do with a Church that did such ‘terrible things’… and which will surely do them again if everybody converts to Her and truly Catholic nations exist once more?
This is what non-Catholics hate, and this is what they fear.
· Is there anything else to add? (360)
Let it be understood:
The accusations regarding the Inquisition & Crusades, as well as anything else typical of people during modern times to believe against the Roman Catholic Church, are irrelevant, my dear reader. Because even if every one of them was right (and they’re not!), this changes not by a single bit all of the rock hard evidence and ironclad sense for the Catholic Church & Her Infallible Teachings. Books like Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus and The Dogma of Baptism Upheld or articles like Catholic Ritual Defended and The World Offended make this utterly clear. Too, this Q&A section has given plenty of excellent reasons to take the Catholic Faith seriously. Notwithstanding, allegations about the Inquisition & Crusades, as well as about things like riots & rampages, blind a lot of people nowadays. I have therefore, in the meantime, given you enough simple points to refute the slander so that you may, presuming your intentions are good, focus on what really matters --- the Saving Truth of Jesus’ Infallible Catholic Body.
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