There have been a few noteworthy (and un-noteworthy), Catholic-themed programs in the media lately that I’d like to deal with all in one fell swoop:
Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History on CNN
Episode 1: The Rise of the Pope
This CNN series debuted this past Sunday night and I caught the first episode, “The Rise of the Pope,” via on-demand. This docudrama plays fast and loose with historical accuracy. There are no credible sources proving that the apostle Peter was the first bishop of Rome, although this episode presents Catholicism’s claims as fact. Roman Emperor Constantine’s sponsorship of the church is discussed, but as I’ve questioned before (see here), where was the bishop of Rome when Constantine was calling ALL the shots regarding the church? The presentation of the increasing institutionalization of the early church, patterned after the Roman imperial model, is well done. This episode ends with an examination of Roman Catholicism’s schism with Eastern Orthodoxy in 1054 and the genesis of the Crusades to recover the “Holy Land” from the Muslims as well as to suppress Jews and heretics.
While this first episode propagates the Catholic church’s un-Biblical and historically unsupported claims about the primacy of Peter, it does a pretty good job of showing how the leadership of the early Catholic church was increasingly motivated by the lust for temporal political power and wealth. I’m disappointed that no evangelical scholars were asked to participate as commentators. Future episodes are listed as follows:
- 3/18 – The Resignation of Benedict XVI.
- 3/25 – The Price of Progress.
- 4/1 – A Church Divided. (This is definitely an episode I don’t want to miss – Tom)
- 4/8 – The Wartime Popes.
- 4/15 – Courage, Change, & the Modern Papacy.
Living Biblically, CBS, Monday Nights
Episode Three: Love Thy Neighbor
After watching the first two installments of this regrettable new CBS comedy series, I finally got around to seeing episode number three via on-demand. The main character, Chip, a Roman Catholic, continues as a self-described “good person trying to be better” by following Biblical law. In this episode, he’s tormented by his inconsiderate upstairs apartment neighbors who blast their stereo late into the night while engaging in noisy sex. Sorry, folks, but that’s the premise. Chip consults with his “god squad,” a priest and a rabbi, and ends up being on better terms with his annoying co-worker, Cheryl, as well as kindly convincing his upstairs neighbors to show some consideration for their fellow tenants. Not a lot of substance here, and nothing about the need for salvation by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone. The best way to love our unsaved neighbors is to share the Gospel with them, but in Chip’s world, it’s all about being a “good” person.
The Catholic Current
The Station of the Cross, WLOF (Our Lady of Fatima), 101.7 FM, Buffalo, New York
For almost four years, I listened to daily podcasts of a Catholic talk radio show, “Calling All Catholics,” broadcast out of Buffalo, New York. It was a pretty standard format with Catholic listeners calling in to ask the priest hosts questions about the Catholic religion. The reason I listened was to stay abreast of what was going on within the Catholic church and to use some of the information as fodder for this blog.
But beginning on January 3rd, the show changed dramatically. The name was changed to “The Catholic Current” with a new format addressing the errors and confusion creeping into the church from the likes of pope Francis and his progressive allies. Previous priest hosts were jettisoned and traditionalist priests were brought aboard including David Nix, Ronan Murphy, Shannon Collins, and Robert McTeigue. For twenty-four broadcasts, from January 3rd until February 6th, the traditionalist priests strongly criticized the pope and church progressives in regards to a variety of topics. It was quite amazing to behold! But suddenly it all stopped. Without any explanation, “The Catholic Current” was temporarily replaced by broadcasts of Al Kresta’s national Catholic talk show. WLOF’s website said “The Catholic Current” was “on hiatus.” The show began broadcasting again on March 12th, but notably missing were Nix, Murphy, Collins, and McTeigue and any open criticisms of the pope. All of the previous shows had been deleted from the podcast archive. The replacement priests are currently discussing the hum-drum basics of Catholic doctrine.
So, what happened? Not one word of explanation was given on the March 12th broadcast regarding the hiatus, the dramatic change in subject material, or the dismissal of the four priest hosts. My guess? Someone had called the Buffalo diocesan office and complained that WLOF was openly encouraging opposition to pope Francis. A diocesan representative then presumably contacted the offices of WLOF and “strongly encouraged” the station to cease and desist immediately.
The above is sheer speculation on my part, but I believe it’s a very good guess. It’s absolutely amazing to watch Catholicism attempt to grapple with pope Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in the “Amoris Laetitia” encyclical and his other “reforms.” You couldn’t find any better theater on Broadway, but following this three-ring circus are hundreds of millions of loyal Catholics who are attempting to earn their salvation according to their church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit.