Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pope Francis: What will he say next?

If you are Catholic, this will probably offend you. It is not my goal to offend, but to speak the truth. But as "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" (I Cor. 1:18), it will undoubtedly offend some. Look beyond pride and weigh what will be said.

            Pope Francis is no stranger to controversy. There are a number of unanswered questions from his time in Argentina during the Dirty War. Some produce evidence that he delivered two priests to the Fascist government. At the very least, he stood by without speaking out or helping those being targeted.
            The pope who has denied he is a Marxist stated this in one speech:

I do not hesitate to state, as did my predecessors, that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level. A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world's peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society…

The pontiff believes the Catholic church should be a “poor church for the poor”. The small detail omitted was the estimated $10 billion to $15 billion the Vatican has invested in divers places. The Holy See’s chief accountant in 2003 stated, “The Vatican's real estate is worth about 700 million euro ($1.21 billion), not including its priceless art treasures.” A cardinal’s finery can run over $20,000, and their luxury is dwarfed by the pope’s clothing. These men took vows of poverty at one time. I am reminded of what Revelation 18 says about the fall of Babylon:

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow…And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought…

            Fireworks have been sent off by comments about homosexuals:

If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? Being gay is a tendency. The problem is the lobby. The lobby is unacceptable, the gay one, the political one, the Masonic one…Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community…Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?

            The word “welcoming” was quickly changed to “providing for”, but the meaning in Italian was not lost. His push that “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy” as well as the divorced into the church was defeated at the synod. The pontiff warned the Catholic church of being too rigid and inflexible on such issues. This would have violated the Catechism, but he hasn’t seemed to take much issue with that.
            Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American, was again demoted recently by Pope Francis. The former archbishop of St. Louis has been openly critical of the pope’s indoctrinate approach, saying there is a sense the Catholic church is like a “ship without a rudder”. Burke has long been audibly against giving communion to politicians who support abortion. Burke isn’t the only American who takes issue with the pope; Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput said his administration has been one of “confusion” and “confusion is of the devil”.
            Lately, the pope weighed in on the origin of humans and the universe:

When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so…He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment…God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the Creator who gives being to all entities. Evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.

            Sadly, this position is not a new one among popes. Pope Pius XII in 1950 said the Big Bang did not contradict Catholic doctrine, a sentiment echoed by Pope John Paul II. Coming from a church that used to persecute people for saying the world is round, this shouldn’t come as a major surprise.
            My Bible says something like this:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…And God said, Let there be light: and there was light…And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so…And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so…And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so…

You get the idea. But let’s not forget about us:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1)

            He’s right, God is no magician. No magician can touch that power, can fashion everything so perfectly, to set everything in order. It takes something much more wise and powerful and intelligent than evolution or a Big Bang to create this.
            Now anyone who knows the Bible knows that there were various social classes in Israel. As God chooses to give some wealth (Ecc. 5:19) and tells the church to take care of the poor, these are of God. God gives some wealth to be a blessing to His ministry, which includes taking care of the poor, who must rely on God and whose faith is then built up by being in poverty. Taking care of the needy is the church’s job and charity’s job, not the government’s.
            To stand and say this as the leader of the Catholic church is the epitome of hypocrisy. The Vatican City is gaudy in its splendor and wealth. The pope’s outfit is worth more than most in the world make in a year. To call himself poor and simple is to call the White House a modest cottage. I understand the minimal salaries of priests over a parish, but at the top there is plenty of wealth to go around. (But it doesn’t, for that is apparently the government’s duty.)
            The Bible is also clear on its stance on homosexuality. I don’t think this is the issue at hand; the pope still believes homosexuality is sin. Now as a born-again Christian, I believe that it is not whether one is involved in a certain sin that gives them a relationship with God, but their stance in Christ. There can be homosexual Christians because salvation doesn’t depend on this issue. But those who are Christians will flee from sin.
            I actually agree with the pontiff in that we should not judge homosexuals. The media makes like he is the first “Christian” who has ever said this, when the alternative is being a hateful Christian who believes the same thing. I take issue in that he believes there is a role for homosexuals in the church. ANY sin, if perpetually done without regret or belief it is wrong, should disqualify someone from having a role in the church. Church (true church) is a place for sinners to come and repent, but a sinner cannot lead other sinners. (The word “sinner” here being used for being involved continually in sin.)
            As for Evolution, the idea is never mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps it’s somewhere in the Apocrypha, but not in the cannon of scripture. (Perhaps it is somewhere nestled in with purgatory, rehearsed prayers, intercession of the dead and indulgences.) Right off, God is established as the Supreme Creator who created the world through His wisdom and power, from nothing. No Big Bang spoken of, no evolving of humans. None of it. (If proof is needed for why Creation is the correct model, read the extensive body of evidence accumulated:
            All of this makes sense to someone who looks to the Bible alone for their doctrine, or sola scriptura, as the Catholic church says us silly Protestants believe (“Protestant” incorporating very diverse beliefs yet used as a catch-all). Such a radical idea is this use of the Bible alone:

Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by Scripture alone") is the Protestant Christian doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.

Where would this come from?

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. –II Timothy 3:14-17

Hmm, so it’s the holy scriptures that shows us the way of salvation and how to be capable of good works. Paul writes this to Timothy warning him to continue what he’s been taught from the scriptures because “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” Such as telling us that following traditions of church teaching that have no biblical basis are necessary for a relationship with God.
            In fact, the Bible clearly takes position against that:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. –Colossians 2:8

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. –I Peter 1:17-21

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. –Matthew 15:9

            The Bible teaches that we are not redeemed with “vain conversation (actions) received by tradition from your fathers”, but with Christ’s blood; by HIM we believe in God. Teaching the commandments of men as doctrine is vain worship.
            The stances of Pope Francis, some of which are not only unbiblical but against Catholic teaching as well, is of no matter to the believer. To the Catholic, it begs a number of questions. When does the leadership of a pope end and the authority of God’s Word begin? If the pope teaches something unbiblical, is he or the Bible right? If God leads the cardinals to choose the pope, what was going on?
            I believe God did lead the cardinals to choose this pope, because it opens doors. What if tradition does conflict with what God commands in the Bible? Who made these traditions? Men. Even the greatest spiritual men have faults, are imperfect. God is not only Holy, but promises that His Word will not pass away (Luke 21:33), and furthermore tells us that He has exalted it even above His name (Ps. 138:2). God makes no such promises on the words of men, instead saying that there will be false teachers only getting more frequent and worse as time goes on.
            The Catholic church claims it is infallible (and so am I, because I said so). This is based on the belief that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”. The true church, the blood-bought children of God, will not be touched by Hell, because God has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins…” (Col. 1:13-14). God will not allow His children to parish (something else the Bible is clear on and will be expounded in a later post). When did this infallibility begin? Paying enough money will take away time from purgatory, as will following Pope Francis on Twitter. The former was one more thing that resulted in the Protestant Reformation. The money rolled in as parishioners were deceived into believing their money was buying God’s favor.
            Believing the Catholic church’s infallibility means condoning the Papal Inquisitions, the second greatest genocide in A.D. times. Between 50,000,000 and 75,000,000 people were murdered in gruesome ways over a span of several centuries for dissenting Catholic beliefs. While I disagree with many on areas of religion, I am not fearful of them to cause me to order their deaths. If something is right and true, it doesn’t need to violently offend against those who are not violent. Alas, these order came from the top, proving to us that Pope Francis is certainly not the first pope with questionable judgment:

Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with Church dogma must be burned without pity. –Pope Innocent III

            Head Inquisitors were appointed by popes with orders from the Council of Harbonne not to regard any husband for his wife or parent for helpless child. The Council of Toulouse adopted canons to make the inquisition permanent, much to the chagrin of Catholics who attempt to say the murder and torture didn’t come from the church leadership. Innocent IV ordered the creation of torture chambers, which produced some of the most infamous devices in history: the Rack, the Stocks, the Pear, the Wheel, the Head Crusher, the Breast-Ripper, etc. all inscribed with “Glory Be To God”. The victims of this were of all ages, social classes and sexes, although women seemed to have a soft spot with Inquisitors and Catholic leaders:

Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman. –Clement of Alexandria

Woman is a temple built upon a sewer. –Boethius

To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure... –Odo of Cluny

[N]othing [deficient] or defective should have been produced in the first establishment of things; so woman ought not to have been produced then. –Thomas Aquinus (implying that God made a mistake in creation)

Inquisitors assumed their sexual arousal was the fault of the women in bondage, and would fall upon their breasts and genitals with hot irons and plyers. The Archbishop of Treves burned 108 women and two men.

What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman...I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. –“Saint” Augustine

            If this behavior is infallible, then I want nothing to do with Christianity. If it is of sinful, evil mankind, then we see the need for a Savior.
            Contrary perhaps to popular belief, I have a lot in common with Catholics. I have worked beside many faithful individuals in the pro-life movement. But I cannot believe the traditions of men are equal to the words of God.
            The choice is laid out before us. Do we obey the words of a man? Do we follow the renderings of councils of the past? Do we obey the legalistic rules of religion and its questionable past? Or will we deal directly with God and the Word He has given, without going through a middle-man or middle-church? Will we choose to look beyond how we have been raised and seek out truth, even if it conflicts with what we've been taught?
            Born-again Christians don’t need a thick Catechism of rules in how to live. As we continue on in our Christian walk God continues to change us more to be like Jesus. His Word provides the guidelines He has set out, and it tells us how we can be reconciled to God. We don’t need a church to redeem us or to confess our sins to. It is Christ alone who redeems and He alone who intercedes for us. The Catholic church didn’t sacrifice itself, taking my sin and my punishment for my sin. Jesus did. Salvation isn’t wrapped up in ritual or church membership, but in the One who has already won the victory.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. –Ephesians 2:8-9

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. –Galatians 2:21

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. -Acts 5:29


  1. Hey Joe,
    You bring up a few good points, but I do believe you have been slightly misled in a few places. I'd like to start this off by saying that I'm Catholic and you did not offend me. Mostly because I've heard some of this before and I do believe that you are not trying to offend anyone.
    Now to begin with, your allegations that Pope Francis did nothing during the captures of the two Argentinian priests is on very shaky ground. There was a lawsuit against him alleging his involvement, but it was dismissed. No one can say for certain that he did nothing "behind the scenes" to obtain for the release of the priests. Just because it looks like nothing came of whatever he tried to do, doesn't mean he didn't try at all. So yes, Pope Francis is controversial, but not necessarily wrong in this respect.

    You mention his comments regarding Marxism. I don't want to make excuses for anyone, however, whenever directly quoting this Pope, you have to realize that he is not speaking English. I know that the Vatican tries to translate his words as exactly as possible but sometimes this language barrier can lead to confusion. Now I'll say right up front: If that quote is perfectly legitimate, I don't like it. I heartily disagree with it. I believe the critical phrase in the quote is " legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state". But I also believe that the key word here is "benefits". What is meant by that? He may just be speaking of large corporations getting exceptions from taxes while everyone else has to pay. I'm not quite sure where he was going with what he said (remember context), but it does definitely need to be clarified. So again, controversial, but not necessarily wrong.

  2. You speak of the Church's immense wealth mentioning in particular the "finery" of cardinals and the pope. By finery I assume you are talking about the sacred vestments a priest wears during Mass. Now I don't have the numbers on what the Pope's wardrobe is worth and neither do you by the looks of it, but that's beside the point. I'll ask you a question. As Catholics, we believe that in all the Churches around the world, and at every Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus, God, is truly, physically, present. If you were to meet God in person tomorrow would you dress in the absolute best way possible in the finest fabrics and style? Your outward appearance should try to resemble what you wish your soul to look like. Would you spare any expense for the sake of God? I don't think you would. At least you don't sound like it.
    Another thing, during the Mass, priests are acting "in persona Christi Capitis" or "In the person of Christ the Head". (Look into this. It's worth it) This is hard to explain right here, but you can understand that if someone believed this, they would spare no expense on the sacred vestments. Also, most of the sacred vestments are bought by families or individuals in the Church and given to priests who will then remember the intentions of the persons who donated the vestments. I could talk about this all I want, but I need to move on. One final word, if all the Catholic charities groups lost their funding from the Church, there would a massive, international,humanitarian crises. But that's another story...

    A very important note regarding my favorite person the Church, Cardinal Burke: He was most definitely not demoted. His term of office had ended and Pope Francis did not renew it. His new position with the Order of Malta will give him a lot more freedom to speak his mind, which may have actually been the intention of the Pope. But he was not "removed" for his traditional views on marriage or anything else.

    You speak of the previous Popes stance regarding the Theory of Evolution. Granted, the Bible does not mention the Big Bang or anything like that. However, if you were an uneducated peasant or a slave working on pyramids or in the little fishing village, you would think anyone talking about big bangs and the evolution of certain things, etc. etc etc. would be ridiculously insane. While saying that "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" would be a much simpler, believable, and direct approach. We could talk about the seven days creation if you wish. This is very much open to interpretation as 7 has a special place in the Bible. Since there is no one who can interpret this infallibly it's safe to say that there is a Creator who creates we don't know how.
    It's not like it really matters either. God is God regardless of how He creates.

  3. You also say the Church used to persecute people for saying that the earth is round or revolving around the sun. This is absolutely false. If you are referring to Galileo, which I believe you are, he was placed under house arrest for trying to ram Copernicus down the throat of Christendom and for being an all around tactless fool offending all the wrong people. This is a very long story which I suggest you research. You'll find that Thomas Huxley (A very prominent Victorian biologist and no friend of Catholics) even sided with the Church on this. It's very much worth the time to look into. It was not science that caused Galileo to be put under house arrest but stupidity bordering on heresy.

    I'm going to stop here for now. I'll be commenting on the rest of this as I can. I hope I haven't offended you at all in this. That's not my intention but only to make you think.
    You bring up a lot of good points, but keep an open mind. We're all looking for the same thing, Truth.
    I look forward to hearing what you have to say.