When the bottom drops out: What’s a Catholic to do when their pope is a heretic?

…A wife happens to pick up her husband’s smart phone and discovers hundreds of romantic texts he sent to her best friend.

…A mother answers the doorbell and gasps at the sight of a policeman standing there. He notifies her that her teenage son was just killed in a motor vehicle accident.

…An employee of twenty-five years is called into his boss’s office and is told that the company is trimming costs and he is being let go immediately.

…A person has some abdominal pain and his doctor arranges for x-rays. The following day, the doctor calls and asks him to come to the office to discuss the results.

If you haven’t been confronted with these kinds of life-changing circumstances yet, your time is coming. We live in a fallen world and bitter disappointment, pain, sorrow, and death are a part of living in this world.

But there is Hope!

This week, I’ve written quite a bit about the growing controversy within the Roman Catholic church regarding pope Francis’ ambiguous lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees. By this change, Francis is de facto nullifying a teaching that has been considered unchangeable for one-thousand years. While this is all dry information to disinterested observers, it has shaken conservative Catholics to the core. They have always believed, as their church has always claimed, that a pope could never lead their church into error, and yet this is precisely what has happened.

Yesterday, I visited a number of blogs belonging to conservative Catholics, which feature posts and commentary discussing this controversy. These poor souls are extremely upset. Their pope is propagating heresy. Their pope is leading the church into error. They are confused. They are hurt. They are angry. They don’t know what to do next. The one thing they thought they could always count on in this life, the Catholic church, has betrayed them. The bottom has dropped out from beneath them. My heart goes out to these hurting people.

But my message to these confused souls is that there is a Rock who will never change and never disappoint. Catholicism took the simple, saving faith of the early Christian church and transformed it into a religious system that would be unrecognizable to the apostles. The Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone devolved into a complicated system of rituals and legalism administered by an increasingly authoritative and powerful hierarchy.

Come to Christ my Catholic friend. He is the Rock, not the pope, not the Vatican. He never changes. He never disappoints. The Lord is exposing the corrupt Catholic system for exactly what it is with this controversy. The church’s unscriptural claims and boasts are empty words as this scandal clearly demonstrates. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.

What does it mean that God is the Rock of salvation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Rock-of-salvation.html

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Catholics voting on whether the “Vicar of Christ” is a heretic

A few days ago, I posted that sixty-two conservative Catholic clerics and theologians had recently sent a formal petition, what they term a “filial correction,” to pope Francis, accusing him of spreading heresy in the church, especially in regards to his allowing communion to remarried divorcees. See here.

There’s a few recent developments to this escalating “crisis”:

  • Francis’ allies immediately ridiculed the signatories as being a bunch of ecclesiastical second-stringers, but retired bishop, René Henry Gracida, a friend of pope John Paul II and mother Angelica, has added his name to the document. See here. Additional signatories are adding their names daily. The current number is 146. See here.
  • One of Francis’ close supporters, Vatican Secretary of State, cardinal Pietro Parolin, has expressed his desire that the progressive, pro-Francis wing of the church hierarchy should dialogue with the dissenters. See here.
  • In response to the attack by church conservatives and traditionalists, Francis’ liberal friends have launched their own website where Catholics can register their support of the pope. See here. Evidently, these folks are not bothered by the fact that Francis has changed a doctrine that had been considered infallible for the last 1000-years.

So, first we had the “Five Dubia” letter sent to Francis by the four conservative cardinals asking him to clarify his lifting of the ban on communion to remarried divorcees, and now we have this petition outright accusing the pope of heresy. Can the pope continue his silence as the dissenters grow in number and boldness?

The average U.S. Catholic who still bothers to attend church on Sunday may not even be aware of this conflict. They mechanically attend the rote rituals and ceremonies oblivious to the crisis. But if a pope can change doctrine previously held to be infallible, then what does that say about Catholicism’s boastings of the infallibility of its magisterium, and what does it say about the entire Catholic system?

Friends, salvation is not in a denomination or an institution. Salvation is in a Person, Jesus Christ. Pray to Him. Repent of your sins and ask Him to save you. Your religious institution is built on sinking sand.

Postscript: I was listening to the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) on my drive home from work today and for the first fifteen minutes of the program, priest-host Paul McDonald spoke cautiously about the “filial correction” and “Amoris Laetitia.” McDonald avoided directly criticizing the pope, but stated that if the ban on communion to remarried divorcees is lifted, “the whole thing (i.e., the Catholic system) falls apart.”

62 Catholic scholars and clergy send letter to pope Francis accusing him of “propagating heresies”

I’ve been posting updates on the “Amoris Laetitia” crisis just about every Saturday on my Weekend Roundup, but this latest development is too important to postpone.

In April 2016, pope Francis published his “Amoris Laetitia” apostolic exhortation, which touched on marriage and family life. Buried in the document are two now-famous footnotes, #s 329 and 351, which seem to allow communion to remarried divorcees based upon a priest’s discretion. The ban on communion for remarried divorcees was alienating a large percentage of the church’s membership and Francis pragmatically and craftily used “Amoris Laetitia” to dismiss doctrine previously held to be infallible through its ambiguously worded directives. Four conservative cardinals subsequently petitioned Francis, asking him to clarify what appeared to be an abrogation of infallible doctrine. Francis did not respond to the initial petition or its follow-up.

Last night, Catholic news services reported that 62 Catholic scholars and clergy had sent a “Filial Correction” to Francis on August 11th. Because Francis once again had not responded, the letter was made public today (see here). Based on his “Amoris” exhortation, the petition accuses Francis of supporting “heretical positions about marriage, the moral life, and the Eucharist that are causing a host of ‘heresies and other errors’ to spread throughout the Catholic Church.”

What is a Catholic to do? An “infallible” pope has overturned doctrine held to be “infallible” by previous “infallible” popes. Priests and theologians faithful to Catholic teaching are accusing the current pope of being a heretic, all of this contradicting boasts of the past that a pope could never lead the church into error! Despite counsel to the membership from bishops and priests to “remain calm and trust in the church,” this predicament cannot be ignored.

Catholic friend, rather than trusting in your institutional church with its copious man-made rituals and traditions and clearly fraudulent claims to infallibility, place your trust in the unchangeable Rock, Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins. Ask Jesus Christ to save you by faith alone and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical fellowship in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise. Your church is in extremely deep crisis. God is exposing your church for what it is. The Lord is calling you out of it and calling you to Him.

62 scholars correct Pope Francis for ‘propagating heresies’
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-62-scholars-correct-pope-francis-for-propagating-heresies

Postcript: “Is the pope Catholic?” was a rhetorical response widely used as an absolute affirmative to a question, but it’s no longer valid.

The Mortara Case: When the pope stole a child from his parents

Roman Catholics like to imagine their popes were holy and pious men who were always guided by the Holy Spirit and correctly led the church in all matters of faith and morals, but even casual students of papal history know that the reality was far from this fanciful idealization.

I’m currently reading a book by a Catholic author that mentions one of the more bizarre episodes of papal history, known as the “Mortara Case.” Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti aka pope Pius IX was elected to the papal throne in 1846. In 1857, the church inquisitor for the city of Bologna, then part of the Papal States, heard after-the-fact that a Catholic woman had secretly baptized the infant son of Jewish parents who had employed her as a servant. The laws of the Papal States prohibited the raising of Catholics by members of other faiths, so 6-year-old Edgardo Mortara was taken from his family by the police at the instigation of Pius IX. The boy was brought to the Vatican’s Esquiline Palace and his upbringing was personally managed by the pope. When Edgardo’s frantic parents finally discovered where their son was located, the pope allowed them to occasionally visit, but only under close supervision.

The abduction became a cause célèbre throughout the Western world. The international OUTRAGE was tremendous. But the pope, claiming “the blessed Virgin (was) on (his) side,” refused to return the child to his family. However, the pope soon had even bigger fish to fry. To Pius’ great chagrin, the upstart Kingdom of Italy began annexing territory belonging to the Papal States via military means, beginning in 1859 and ending in 1870 when the city of Rome fell to the “Risorgimento” forces. Public sentiment had turned decidedly against the pope partially due to the indignation over the infamous “Mortara Case.” In reaction to the rebellion, Pius issued his declaration, “Syllabus Errorum” (The Syllabus of Errors), in 1864, which condemned freedom of religion and all forms of democratic government. In 1869, Pius convened the First Vatican Council in order to define the infallible doctrine of papal infallibility.* The defiant “libertines” may have absconded with the 16,000 square miles that comprised the Papal States, but pope Pius IX made sure everyone knew HE still stood supreme in all spiritual matters.

But what of the young Jewish boy stolen from his parents and raised in the Vatican? Edgardo was eventually ordained a priest at the age of 21 and died in Belgium in 1940 at the age of 88. Both Steven Spielberg and Harvey Weinstein are currently developing separate films based on the infamous “Mortara Case.”

But this ex-Catholic saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone has a few questions regarding this sorry chapter in papal history:

  1. Did pope Pius IX do the morally correct thing by abducting the Jewish child as well as encouraging the abductions of other Jewish children in similar cases? Obviously not. I certainly realize the “ex cathedra” clause doesn’t pertain in this example, but can’t we assume that the Holy Spirit would have done a much better job of guiding Pius IX in this scandalous child abduction issue if he actually had been the “Vicar of Christ”?
  2. When Pius IX absolutely condemned freedom of religion and all democratic forms of government in “The Syllabus of Errors,” was he speaking ex cathedra/infallibly or was the declaration his own personal opinion, and who decides?
  3. Pope Pius IX stood up to defiant Italian nationalists by having himself declared infallible in all teachings regarding faith and morals. But it’s puzzling that Pius, like all other popes up until 2016, taught that no remarried divorcees could receive holy communion, while, Francis, the current infallible pope, has declared that remarried divorcees are able to receive communion. Who is right? And if Francis is right, what about all the remarried divorcees who committed mortal sins by receiving communion prior to the publication of “Amoris Laetitia” in 2016 and died? Do they all receive a “Get out of Hell Free” card?

*Catholics boast that only their church is led by an infallible pope, but are hard pressed to cite examples of infallible teaching. Catholic theologians can only agree that the papal declarations on Mary’s immaculate conception (1854), papal infallibility (1870), and Mary’s assumption (1950) are unequivocally infallible.

Francis visits Colombia in attempt to stanch exodus of Latin American Catholics

Pope Francis arrives in the Latin American country of Colombia today and will return to Rome on Monday, September 11th. As the article below points out, one of the major reasons for the trip is to attempt to shore up the beleaguered Catholic church in South America. Catholics in the region are exiting their churches in droves and joining “evangelical” fellowships. The article reports that only 4 percent of the Latin American population identified as non-Catholic Christians in 1970, but today that number has grown to 20 percent.

Unfortunately, a very large proportion of the non-Catholic churches springing up in Latin America are of the “health and wealth,” “name it and claim it,” prosperity gospel variety, where the Gospel is minimized and it’s all about acquiring enough “faith” to get a Rolex and well-equipped sports car and live like one of the “King’s kids.” Pew Research reports that 82 percent of the “Protestants” in Colombia believe “God will grant wealth and good health to believers who have enough faith.” Many Catholic churches have added charismatic-style worship services in an attempt to copy the prosperity gospelers and stanch the exodus but with little success.

Pope’s trip to Colombia unlikely to stem flight from pews
http://www.columbiabasinherald.com/article/20170904/AP/309049918

Below is an excellent article from the Gospel Coalition about evangelization efforts in Colombia. The article is very informative in regards to the nuts and bolts of spreading the Gospel and discipling new believers in that particular country, but I do have a concern. The article mentions that a couple of book titles being translated and offered to folks in Colombia were written by Gospel Coalition co-founder, Tim Keller. However, Keller openly embraces Catholicism as a Christian entity (see here) and has propagated aspects of Catholic contemplative prayer and mysticism at his church. So if a Colombian Roman Catholic reads the books by Keller and does a little research on Keller’s views on Catholicism, he or she may say to themselves, “I guess I don’t see a need to leave the Catholic church because Tim Keller thinks it’s just fine.” This is the kind of ecumenical confusion caused by some evangelical leaders.

The Gospel in Colombia
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-gospel-in-colombia

Was Peter the first pope?

Is Peter the Rock Upon Which the Church is Built?
By H. A. Ironside
CrossReach Publications, 2016, 39 pages, $0.99

This short, e-book pamphlet presents a 1935 sermon from H. A. Ironside, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago from 1928 to 1948, which examines the Roman Catholic church’s claim that Jesus Christ designated the apostle Peter as the first pope and that Rome derives its absolute ecclesiastical authority based on papal succession tracing back directly to the apostle.

Rome bases much of its claims on Matthew 16:13-19 in which Simon declared Jesus to be the Messiah, prompting Jesus to rename him Peter (“petros” – small rock) and that upon this rock (“petra” – massive boulder or bedrock), He would build his church. Protestants along with several early church fathers have interpreted the passage to mean Jesus would build His church on the truth of Simon’s profession, NOT upon the apostle himself. Ironside then examines the verses Catholics often quote regarding the keys of the kingdom being given to Peter. Of course, later verses indicated all the apostles received the same keys. As far as binding and loosing, all Christians proclaim the remission of sins through faith in Christ (Acts 13:38).

Readers of the New Testament will find much more evidence AGAINST the notion of the papacy in contrast to the small number of verses that Rome twists to build its case. If Jesus had already designated Peter as the pope in Matthew 16, then why did James and John request apostolic supremacy shortly afterwards in Matthew 20? Why did Paul repeatedly state that he was the equal of all the apostles? Why did Paul have to publicly rebuke Peter in Galatians 2 if Peter was the pope, infallible in all matters of faith and morals? Why did James, the half-brother of Jesus give the final decision at the Jerusalem church council in Acts 15 rather than Peter? Yes, Peter clearly was a leader among the apostles, but readers of the New Testament will not find Rome’s claims for Petrine primacy. In contrast, in Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus forbade the very type of hierarchical structure that was later adopted by the increasingly institutionalized church. It’s also abundantly clear from church history that the early church fathers and church councils did not acknowledge the Roman bishop as the absolute leader of the church.

This short booklet is a good introduction to the arguments against Rome’s claim to Petrine primacy. Order from Amazon here. “Is Peter the Rock Upon Which the Church is Built?” is also available, free of charge, at Moody Church’s website, here.

Much more thorough examinations of the topic are “The Matthew 16 Controversy: Peter and the Rock,” by William Webster, and “Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority” by Eric D. Svendsen. Both are available from Amazon. See here and here.

Evangelical Christian churches scattered all across the planet proclaim the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The Head of the body of genuine believers is Jesus Christ and our sole authority is God’s Word. We are a patchwork quilt, differing on some secondary beliefs, but united in our faith in Christ. We do not follow the pope or any other man. We follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Cardinal suggests Francis’ heretical papacy may be a sign of the “end times”

Sixteen-months ago, pope Jorge “Francis” Bergoglio (photo right) issued his “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation, which has been the source of increasing controversy and consternation within the Roman Catholic church. A couple of footnotes (#s 329 & 351) buried deep within the document appeared to allow priests to decide whether communion could be given to Catholics who were divorced and remarried on an individual, case-by-case basis. The view held by the church for centuries was that divorced remarrieds were living in an ongoing state of adultery and were barred from receiving communion. It was obvious that pragmatic Francis was surreptitiously altering centuries-old doctrine in an attempt to make the church more inviting to a membership whose sky-rocketing divorce rate mirrors that of secular society.

Conservative members of the church were appalled by the change to what was always considered to be infallible doctrine, leading four cardinals to petition Francis asking for clarification, but they received no reply. The same cardinals sent a second “dubia” (questions/doubts) letter and still there was no answer forthcoming from Francis.

Conservative cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity are in a quandary. They are convinced the current pope is promoting heresy but decline (at this point) in considering schism because Catholic doctrine claims a pope cannot lead the church into error and that all Catholics must remain loyal to him. So by breaking away from the church in defense of one “infallible” doctrine, they would be disobeying another.

Yesterday, news reports (see below) quoted a July 22nd address from U.S. cardinal, Raymond Burke (photo left), one of the four “dubia” cardinals, in which he stated that through “diabolical” means, “confusion and error…has…entered into the Church” via “shepherds who are no longer truly shepherding the faithful entrusted to them.” Carefully choosing his words, he warned against the “idolatry of the papacy,” implying that allowing communion to divorced remarrieds was merely Francis’ worldly opinion and not infallible dogma binding upon Catholics. He also suggested that the deviant teachings from this pope could be a sign of the end times. While Burke isn’t advocating schism (yet), he’s certainly raising the stakes with this address.

Most Catholics probably aren’t even aware of this ongoing controversy (most don’t even bother to attend church these days), but it’s a vital issue for evangelicals who often hear from Catholic apologists that the Roman Catholic church alone has apostolic authority and that its magisterium is infallible in all matters of faith and morals. But which magisterium? Cardinal Burke’s or pope Francis’? And if Francis is able to successfully implement this change to “infallible” doctrine (liberal bishops claim it’s already a done deal), then what is to become of the infallible doctrine of papal infallibility?


‘Confusion and error’ from Catholic leaders may be sign of end times: Cardinal Burke
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/confusion-division-in-church-shows-we-may-be-in-the-end-times-cardinal-burk

The pope says one way, conservative bishops say another way. Who is right?

Catholics claim that they alone have an infallible magisterium to guide them in all matters of faith and morals. But when it comes to communion for divorced remarrieds, should Catholics follow the magisterium of pope Francis and his allied bishops, who allow communion…

or

…should they follow the magisterium of the conservative bishops, who deny communion?

For more arguments against the supposed infallibility of the magisterium, see…

  • The Crusades
  • The Inquisitions
  • Forced baptisms
  • Papal militarism
  • Church sponsored anti-Semitism
  • The condemnation of Galileo
  • Papal participation in slave trade
  • The persecution of Protestants
  • The condemnation of all democratic forms of government

The popularity of pope Francis

This past Wednesday, Pew Research released the findings of its recent poll regarding thepfj popularity of pope Francis (see article below). According to the poll, 70% of Americans give the pope a favorable rating. For specific groups, 87% of Catholics have a favorable opinion, 72% of White mainline Protestants have a favorable opinion, and 53% of White evangelicals have a favorable opinion.

It’s a sad thing that 53% of (White) professing believers favorably view a man who is leading millions to hell through the anti-Scriptural dogmas of Roman Catholicism. 16% of White evangelicals say they have no opinion of the pope and 31% say they have an unfavorable opinion.

I love pope Francis, Jorge Bergoglio. He’s a sinner in need of the Savior. Unfortunately, he leads a 1.2 billion-member religious institution that teaches people are saved through its sacraments and through obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules.

If Pew Research pollsters could get into a time machine and go back 100 years and conduct the same poll, what would they find? They would probably find that close to 100% of evangelical Christians in 1917 had an unfavorable opinion of the pope at that time, Benedict XV. Would they have rated the pope unfavorably because they had personal animosity toward the man? It’s my opinion that believers of 100 years ago were much more steeped in God’s Word than many of today’s doctrine-lite evangelicals who are led by weak, accommodating, and compromising pastors. Evangelicals of 1917 were much more aware that the pope taught a false gospel of sacraments and merit rather than the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I will continue to pray for Jorge Bergoglio and for all Roman Catholics. My prayer is that they will renounce their religious ritualism and legalism and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior through faith alone.

Is it…

“No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion (i.e. baptism). Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can then merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph # 2027

or is it…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

It can’t be both!


U.S. Catholics, non-Catholics continue to view Pope Francis favorably
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/18/favorable-u-s-views-pope-francis/

Who is pope Francis and why is he important to evangelical Christians?

 

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the pope of the Roman Catholic church on March 13, 2013, the very first Jesuit priest to hold the papal office. Pope Francis has endeared himself to the world for his simplicity (compared to previous popes) and for his many off-the-cuff remarks that seem to emphasize charity over doctrinalism. However, conservative Catholic clergy have become increasingly disenchanted with Francis, especially after his Amoris Laetitia encyclical, which, in essence, lifted the ban on communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

Why should evangelical Christians care about Francis? In spite of all the headlines and controversies that surround Francis the main focus of his tenure has been the reunification of all (c)hristians under the mantel of Rome. He and the previous popes beginning with John XXIII have done a remarkable job of overcoming objections and preparing for reunification. One hundred years ago there were no evangelical pastors who considered the pope, with his gospel of sacramental grace and merit, to be their brother in Christ. But in a 2015 survey, 58% of evangelical pastors considered Francis to be their brother in Christ. What changed? Rome might have altered some of its window dressing but it certainly hasn’t changed any of its core doctrines. No, it’s evangelicalism that’s changed, from defending the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone to embracing error in a spirit of “tolerance” and “love.” Young men are graduating from evangelical seminaries and becoming pastors and leaders of ministries thinking the pope is a Christian and that unity with Rome is desirable. Chances are your current pastor or the next one will be preaching what a wonderful fellow the pope is and that Catholicism teaches the same gospel.

Above is a 28-minute video featuring Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries giving some interesting background information on pope Francis.

Below is a link to the Proclaiming the Gospel website.
http://www.pro-gospel.org/default.asp?sec_id=180014816