Does Jorge “pope Francis” Bergoglio wear a “cilice”?

During the Middle Ages the idea that self-deprivation led to higher levels of sanctity andcilice holiness grew in popularity within Catholicism. In monasteries and convents, self-deprivation often led to extreme forms of asceticism as practitioners attempted to quell the desires of the flesh and offer penance for sins through self-inflicted pain and suffering. Adherents slept on cold floors, wore hair shirts, heavy chains, coarse ropes, or “cilices” (a metal-wire device secured around the thigh that inflicts pain with inward-pointing spikes). Self-scourging (flagellation) also became quite popular. Some famous “saints” went to an early grave as a result of voluntary starvation.

Some would argue these extreme examples of asceticism were confined to a less-enlightened, bygone era but forms of self-mortification are practiced right up to the present day in Catholicism. Reports surfaced in 2010 that “saint” Karol “John Paul II” Wojtyla, had regularly whipped himself with a belt and “blessed” Anjeze “mother Teresa” Bojaxhiu wore a cilice every day.

Defending Wojtyla’s self-scourging, “cardinal” Jose Saraiva Martins said, “It does seem like something from another age, but it is not. It is an instrument of perfection, not just in religious life, but in human life. It is not acting against oneself, but striving to perfect oneself.”

I wonder if the current pope, Jorge “pope Francis” Bergoglio also inflicts pain upon himself as part of a “spiritual” discipline? I’m a little naive when it comes to self-mortification protocol. Maybe a Catholic can help us out? Do Catholic men flagellate themselves and Catholic women wear cilices or are both practices gender neutral?

Yes, accepting Jesus as Savior and following Him as Lord may mean physical persecution. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  The Bible does talk about self-denial and fasting but nowhere does the Bible teach Christians should inflict pain upon themselves. In contrast, the Bible identifies such practices with pagan idolatry:

“At noon Elijah began to taunt (the worshippers of Baal). “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.” – 1 Kings 18:27-28

Catholics believe in salvation by sacramental grace and merit and mistakenly believe that by inflicting pain and suffering upon themselves they can affect spiritual perfection leading to their salvation.

I am so grateful the Lord freed me from the chains of Roman Catholicism and saved me by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Related terms: corporal penitence, corporal discipline


The Dark Side of the Papacy

As Jorge “pope Francis” Bergoglio begins his visit to the United States today we’ll be61sskkGp8sL absolutely deluged by the media coverage. Many American Catholics will proudly celebrate the pope’s visit but many Christians will take note of all the attention and devotion and recall the Biblical prophecy regarding a future time when a fearful world will turn en masse to a false prophet for guidance. In recognition of Bergoglio’s visit to the U.S. it’s appropriate that we take a look at the dark side of the papacy.

Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy

By Peter De Rosa

Crown Publishing, 1988, 484 pages

The Catholic church presents a fanciful, idealized version of itself as the “one true church,” perpetually guided by the Holy Spirit through an infallible pope from an unbroken line of apostolic succession all the way back to Peter, the alleged first bishop of Rome. But history tells quite another story.

In “The Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy” former Jesuit priest, Peter De Rosa, plays the devil’s advocate and examines the role of the papacy throughout history. Credulous Catholic readers will be shocked to learn many popes were devoted only to furthering their political and ecclesiastical power by whatever means necessary. De Rosa refutes claims to divine guidance and papal infallibility by recalling the early church’s metamorphosis into an all-powerful, authoritarian institution which initiated the Crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of Galileo (an unbreachable repudiation of infallibility), mandatory clerical celibacy, denunciation of civil democracies, and the ban on contraceptives. Previous popes were branded as heretics by their successors. For centuries popes reigned over a church that was ferociously anti-Semitic. The Bible was even put on the Index of Forbidden Books. In their personal affairs, popes were often paragons of avarice and debauchery. This book was published before the scandal of pedophile priests and church-wide cover up rocked Catholicism to its foundation.

De Rosa is not a historian (no footnotes) but he credits a lengthy bibliography of scholarly sources. Intransigent Catholic traditionalists have slandered this book but the muck is just too deep to overcome. What is liberal Catholic De Rosa’s aim in exposing the papacy’s dark side? By demonstrating that the Vicars of Christ were not divinely guided the author hopes Catholics will realize many of the current controversial dogmas (ban on contraceptives, celibacy, male-only hierarchy, exclusion of remarried divorcees from the sacraments, etc.) are concocted traditions without spiritual foundation that the hierarchy perpetuates to its own peril.

De Rosa pines for the liberality of John XXIII who “threw open the windows of the church” at Vatican II. But the church is reluctant to abandon its allegedly inspired doctrines for fear of losing credibility, for Rome has always boasted that it never changes. But didn’t Rome once teach that everyone not baptized a Catholic would go to hell? The current pope, Francis, now says even atheists will go to heaven if they lead “good” lives. Of course! If works are the means to salvation as Catholicism teaches then, taken to its logical conclusion, everyone who tries to lead a “good life” will merit heaven. So why should Catholics bother with their religion if even atheists are good to go? Recent surveys reveal 75% of Catholics wonder the same thing and no longer bother to attend obligatory Sunday mass. But the house of cards came down decades ago for many Catholics when pope Paul VI forbade all forms of contraception while eagerly endorsing the rhythm method. Every Catholic with at least half a brain asked, What’s the difference?

What is an Evangelical Christian to make of the “Vicars of Christ”? Despite exposing the dark side of his church’s history, De Rosa is still an advocate of Rome’s system of sacramental grace and works merit with priests as the ordained mediators between God and men. The Catholic church’s story is that of early Christianity’s transformation into a legalistic, authoritarian institution whose cruelties and depravities eventually overshadowed even pagan Rome.

The Reformers abandoned the legalism and ritualism of Catholicism and reclaimed the beliefs of the early church which were based upon the scriptural Good News of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Unlike pope Francis who preaches Universal salvation for all who are “good,” the Reformers pointed to the Bible which proclaims there are none who are good or righteous and can earn their way to heaven (Romans 3:10). But the Good News is God so loved the world that He gave his Son to die for our sins, and that whoever places their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior will not perish but will have eternal life (John 3:16).

Mariolatry and Alleged “Messages from Heaven”

Messages from Heaven

Directed by Jim Tetlow

Eternal Productions, 2000, 1 hour, 20 minutes

Messages from Heaven is an Evangelical assessment of the Roman Catholic church’s worship of Mary and of the many alleged Marian apparitions in comparison with Holy Scripture. This is a well-produced documentary that every Evangelical should see at a time when some Evangelical leaders are dismissing doctrinal distinctives and embracing Rome as a Christian church. Many Evangelicals are not aware of the extremism of Rome’s Marian heresy. Several Roman Catholic priests are interviewed to present their church’s perspective.

But what happened in the years following the release of Message from Heaven in 2000 is a story in itself. While watching this film for the first time several months ago I thought it was quite odd that many of the Evangelical interviewees who spoke out against Mariolatry were charismatics linked to the Calvary Chapel movement including founder, Chuck Smith, apologist Chuck Missler, Ray Viola (pastor of Koinonia Fellowship in East Rochester, NY where director Jim Tetlow was a member), and former Calvary Chapel staff member, apologist Roger Oakland. Don’t charismatics generally accept Roman Catholicism as Christian since charismatic Catholics also demonstrate the “gifts of the Spirit”? I did a little research and discovered that in the early 2000s Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel began to increasingly embrace Roman Catholicism and the ecumenical “emerging church”/”seeker-friendly” church movement (see Rick Warren and Bill Hybels) much to the displeasure of Oakland who continued with his strong stand against Catholicism and its gospel of works-righteousness. In 2010, Calvary Chapel and Oakland parted ways.

It’s interesting that only a few short years after “Messages from Heaven” was released Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel, to a great degree, embraced Catholicism (“Catholics are basically Christians too.” – Chuck Smith, November 2011). But that should not be a surprise to anyone. Charismatics often prioritize experientialism and emotionalism over orthodoxy. Since many Catholics “speak in tongues” and are “slain in the Spirit” the rationale among many charismatics is that Catholics MUST also be Christians even though they believe in sacramental grace and salvation by merit. It’s difficult for charismatics to criticize Catholics who “experience” the presence and advocacy of Mary in their lives when so much of charismatic practice and belief is based on subjectivism and emotionalism.

The director of this documentary, Jim Tetlow, was a former Roman Catholic who worshipped not far from me, at Koinonia Fellowship in East Rochester, NY. Tetlow passed on to glory on May 12, 2014 at the age of 49. Oakland partnered with Tetlow on several projects which critiqued Roman Catholicism.

Tetlow published a book, Messages from Heaven, covering the same material presented in this documentary in much greater detail. Both DVD and book are available from


Below is a link to Roger Oakland’s interesting article, The Facts Behind My Departure from Calvary Chapel.

Toward a Common Mission of Apostasy

Evangelicals & Catholics Together: Toward a Common MissionECT

Charles Colson, Richard John Neuhaus, editors

Word Publishing, 1995, 236 pages

First, some background. In the late 1970s, influential Evangelical gadfly, Francis Schaeffer, spurred on American pastors to enter the political arena in order to “reclaim America for Jesus!” Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and other dominionists picked up the gauntlet determined to stem the tide of “secular humanism.” Evangelicals soon found themselves as co-belligerents with conservative Roman Catholics in culture battles. As might be expected, political alliances gradually morphed into religious accommodation and compromise. Doctrinal distinctives were overlooked and some Evangelicals began to accept salvation-by-merit Catholics as “brothers in Christ.”

Bombastic Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority eventually flamed out but in 1994 Chuck Colson’s and “father” Richard John Neuhaus’s ecumenical “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” project issued its first declaration calling for Evangelicals and Catholics to renew their alliance against secular humanism and to recognize each other as Christians. The declaration was signed by a number of influential Evangelicals and Catholics. However, a large number of other Evangelicals voiced their concerns over the declaration, which embraced works-righteousness Catholicism and called for an end to evangelizing Catholics.

This book was published in 1995 to explain and defend the ECT declaration. The contributors were Evangelicals Colson, Mark Noll, and J. I. Packer and Catholics George Weigel, “father” Avery Dulles, and Neuhaus.

I really don’t care to expend too much energy reviewing this book. In my view it’s a tragedy from the first page to the last. The Evangelicals involved flagrantly accommodate error and compromise the truth. What is the Gospel? For Evangelicals, the Gospel is salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. For Catholics, their gospel is sacramental grace and merit. The two views can’t be bridged, unless you’re a determined ECT supporter. Colson and Noll see Catholic concession to “justification by grace through faith” and say, “Close enough,” knowing full well Catholics also adhere to “cooperation with grace,” aka merit, as the other factor in their justification. Packer? He correctly writes that if any Catholics are saved, they are saved IN SPITE of their church’s standard theology but he’s willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” – Romans 11:6

ECT went on to publish several additional declarations over the years although it’s pretty much faded from view. But, regrettably, Colson and ECT did accomplish some of what they set out to do. Chuck Colson (d. 2012) would be pleased that works-righteousness Catholics have been embraced as Christians by a large segment of doctrine-indifferent Evangelicals.

Humble Peter vs. International Superstar Jorge

The American media is rolling out the red carpet in a BIG way for Jorge “popekissing-the-popes-feet Francis” Bergoglio in anticipation of his visit to the U.S. next week. One can’t turn on the television or pass a newsstand without being bombarded by images of Jesuit Bergoglio.

Catholics claim Bergoglio is the “Vicar (acting in the person) of Christ,” the apostolic successor to Peter the apostle, the alleged first pope. Catholics claim Jesus built His church upon Peter and that an unbroken chain of apostolic succession links Bergoglio to Peter and distinguishes their church as the “one true church.”

But when I read God’s Word I read about a Peter quite different from the Peter of Catholic tradition:

  • Catholics refer to Matthew 16:18 to support their claim that Jesus would build His church upon Peter while Evangelicals interpret the verse to mean Jesus would build His church upon Peter’s profession in verse 16 that He was the Christ. If Jesus had already established Peter’s primacy in Matthew 16:18, as Catholics allege, then why did the sons of Zebedee attempt to stake their own claims to apostolic primacy in Matthew 20? In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus condemns the very kind of autocratic primacy and rule adopted by the papacy for centuries.
  • In Acts 10, Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet in reverence. In response, Peter told him to, “Stand up. I am only a man myself.” Throughout the history of the papacy, popes have demanded and received reverence and honor higher than that accorded to princes and potentates with followers dutifully bowing before them and kissing their feet and ring in subservience. How do Catholics reconcile the pompous arrogance of the historical papacy with humble Peter?
  • In Galatians 2 Paul writes that Peter cowardly disassociated himself from Gentile Christians whenever Jewish Christians came around, perpetuating the heresy that circumcision and adherence to the Mosaic Law were part of the Gospel. Catholics claim every pope is infallible when it comes to matters of faith and morals but Peter’s hypocrisy and lack of leadership on this extremely important faith issue is an example of fallibility if there ever was one (and there are several in the history of the papacy). Paul confronted Peter’s error publicly and forthrightly.
  • Paul wrote thirteen letters that are included in the Bible but he didn’t acknowledge Peter as pope, supreme leader of the church, or primary apostle in a single one of them. Just the opposite, he wrote in 2 Corinthians 11 that he was equal in authority to all of the other twelve apostles. In addition to the Pauline letters, there are nine other letters in the New Testament and NOT ONE of them ascribes to Peter ANY of the claims made by Rome regarding the “Petrine Primacy.”
  • After Peter preached the Gospel in Jerusalem, 3000 souls accepted Christ and were saved that very day (see Acts 2). In contrast, Bergoglio and his bishops put candidates through a year-long RCIA course with instructions on the ins-and-outs of the Catholic legal laundry list on how to merit salvation before they will baptize them.


By God’s grace I shook off the chains of Catholic ritualism and legalism and accepted Jesus Christ  as my Savior. I no longer reverence men who claim to be the channel of God’s salvation. I worship and reverence God alone.

Square in Rome dedicated to Martin Luther?

On September 16th a small square in the center of the city of Rome was dedicated toMLS Protestant reformer, Martin Luther. The square sits in very close proximity to the Colosseum. The request for the dedication initially came in 2009 from representatives of the Seventh Day Adventist and Lutheran churches in anticipation of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Waldensians, Methodists, and Baptists later joined the appeal.

Such a dedication in the center of this Roman Catholic stronghold would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. News sources surmise Rome’s city government consulted with the Vatican prior to granting the request. That obviously goes without saying. A Catholic spokesperson stated the dedication “is favorable to Catholics in that it’s in line with the path of dialogue started with the ecumenical council.” Current Catholic strategy is to eventually bring the Protestant “separated brethren” back into the fold and conciliatory gestures such as this dedication are seen as helpful to that cause.

My thoughts? Martin Luther, Calvin, Knox, and the other Reformers were certainly used GREATLY by God to return the church from Roman Catholic institutionalized ritualism and legalism back to personal faith in Jesus Christ. And 500 years later the struggle with darkness and apostasy continues. The Catholic church still preaches a “gospel” of sacramental grace and merit, just as it did at the time of the Reformation, while Evangelical Protestants proclaim the Good News of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, alone. The articles state Evangelical leaders are happily satisfied that Catholicism is finally granting some substantive recognition to Luther and Evangelicalism, but who needs it? Rome will use any “good will” that’s generated for its own purposes. Instead of naming squares and erecting statues, Evangelicals need to continue to reach out to Roman Catholics and the lost with the true Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.


Luther Square Unveiled in Rome

September 17, 2015


Charles Spurgeon and Roman Catholicism

Geese in their Hoods: Selected Writings on Roman Catholicism by Charles HaddonGIH Spurgeon

Edited by Timothy F. Kauffman

White Horse Publications, 1997, 206 pages

English Baptist Pastor, Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), was known as the “Prince of the Preachers” for his eloquent and often fiery oratory. In this volume, Timothy F. Kauffman has collected some of Spurgeon’s uncompromising views on Roman Catholicism and the pro-Romanist faction of the Anglican church (aka the Oxford Movement). Spurgeon’s nineteenth-century grandiloquent prose is far from breezy reading but the material is well worth the effort.

Where are the Spurgeons of today to warn Evangelicals of accommodation with ritualism, legalism, and the gospel of merit? In stark contrast, several of today’s Evangelical leaders stumble over each other in their determined efforts to embrace Rome in the interest of ecumenical “Christian” unity. If Spurgeon were with us today he would be roundly criticized as being uncharitable and ungracious. Yet Rome has not changed any of its salvation-by-merit doctrines since the Reformation so why have some of today’s Evangelicals changed their view of works-righteousness Rome and compromised the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

“Reader, do you believe that men like yourself have priestly power? Do you think that they can regenerate infants by sprinkling them, and turn bread and wine into the very body and blood of Jesus Christ? Do you think that a bishop can bestow the Holy Ghost, and that a parish clergyman can forgive sins ? If so, your head can be seen in the picture peeping out from the cowl of the fox. You are the victim of crafty deceivers. Your soul will be their prey in life and in death. They cajole you with soft words, fine vestments, loud pretensions, and cunning smiles, but they will conduct you down to the chambers of death, and lead you to the gates of hell. Silly goose, may grace make thee wise!

Jesus Christ is the true Priest who can forgive all your sins; go to him at once, without the intervention of these pretenders. Make confession to him! Seek absolution from him! The Holy Ghost alone can cause you to be born again, and the grace of God alone can bring you to glory. Avoid Puseyite and Romish foxes, for they seek to make a gain of you, and lead you not to Jesus, but to their Church and all its mummeries. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and not in these deceivers.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

Used copies of “Geese in their Hoods” are available at starting at $8.70.

Below is a link to Timothy F. Kaufman’s blog:

Priceless treasure at a strip mall

I live in a typical suburb with PLENTY of shopping plazas in the area. There’s onewp-ROC-OurTownsBlog-7558-IMG_4356 particular strip mall down the road that has about twenty-five stores with the usual mix of restaurants, drug stores, beauty boutiques, shoe stores, a GNC, a video game store, a Hallmark store, a mini Sears, an office supply store, and a large grocery store. What’s unique about this strip mall is it also has a Christian bookstore tucked away at the extreme far end; one of only two Christian bookstores in the entire county. Now, I’m not a credulous fan of Christian bookstores. They sell a lot of junk including rosaries, statues, and holy medals in their Catholic sections but they also sell Bibles along with many excellent Bible study materials.

So there you have it. A strip mall with twenty-five stores and hundreds upon hundreds of shoppers coming and going all day long, every day. I think about those shoppers. They come to that mall to satisfy their basic needs (food, medications, etc.) as well as to indulge their whimsies. What percentage of those people ever visit the lowly Christian book store? Does it ever even occur to them? They’ve made material items their priority but do they ever wonder about spiritual things? Do they ever wonder about the God who provides them with the food they’re buying or who sustains their beating hearts from one minute to the next?

If there was a store in that plaza that gave away a one-hundred dollar bill to everyone who walked through their doors you can bet there would be a line of people outside stretching two miles long. But this little store has a Book with the key to eternal life and people literally can’t be bothered. How much money would someone pay for a place in Heaven? Well, it can’t be bought. Salvation is a free gift of God by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Believers know God’s Word has the message of eternal life but for the vast majority of people, Bible-shopping is the very last thing they would ever want to do.

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” John 5:39

“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” – John 6:68

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4

“When (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:36-38


Half Of Former Catholics Have Forsaken Religion Altogether

It’s no surprise that so many American Catholics have given up on the Catholic church.cathwhere Trying to merit your way to Heaven by obeying a mile-long list of rules and regulations, as the Catholic church teaches, just leads to exasperation. Praise the Lord that at least 14% of these former Catholics are now attending Evangelical churches and hearing the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.


Half Of Former Catholics Have Forsaken Religion Altogether

by Antonia Blumberg, The Huffington Post

September 13, 2015

Roughly half of Americans raised in Catholic households have left the church at some point — and most of them have stayed away for good, according to a recent report by Pew Research Center.

These “former Catholics” make up 15 percent of the U.S. population, according to another recent survey by Public Religion Research Institute. These Americans are largely abandoning religion altogether after leaving the Catholic Church, while others find new homes in Protestant denominations and non-Christians faiths…(continued).

“They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on (children’s) shoulders”

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law,BCC Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21

I attended Catholic grammar school in the 1960s and was taught by the nuns from the very popular children’s catechism, The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No. 2) by “Father” Joseph Bennet Kelley (1920-1997). This book taught 6th, 7th, and 8th graders the basics of Catholic legalism. The overarching theology is that salvation comes through the church and its clergy-administered sacraments and by obedience to the Ten Commandments and church rules. Although Catholics claim their religion is based on God’s grace it’s ultimately a legalistic system of merit and works-righteousness. In 1983, I came to understand through the Bible that salvation is a gift of God by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and I accepted Christ as my Savior. I couldn’t possibly ever earn my salvation. Thankfully my Savior paid the entire debt for me on the cross at Calvary.

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” – Romans 11:6.

Re-reading this book of ritualistic do’s and don’ts was an arduous chore akin to a slow walk through the Mojave Desert at high noon. Evangelicals would be amazed by how much emphasis is given to Mary and how Catholicism elevates her to semi-deity in her roles as mediatrix and co-redemptrix. The doctrines regarding priests as essential mediators between God and humankind are anti-scriptural inventions designed to keep the laity utterly dependent on the clergy. In fact, most of the material in this book is anti-Biblical. The white-bread, Beaver Cleaver-era illustrations would be an absolute hoot if the salvation-by-merit doctrines they affirm weren’t so damningly erroneous.

It saddens me to think of the millions of Catholic children who were misled by this book into impossibly trying to establish their own righteousness before God rather than accepting His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The Catholic church boasts that it never changes but Catholicism used to teach ONLY baptized Catholics who were in union with the pope had a chance to go to Heaven. Now they teach every person who tries to lead a “good” life according to the knowledge they’ve been given will merit Heaven, EVEN ATHEISTS. Yet the Bible teaches there are none who are “good” and that everyone needs to accept Christ the Savior.