Papal tiara symbolizes Catholicism’s worldly apostasy

Last week, I posted a message about the ill-advised presentation of a music-video at our church, which featured several Catholic-themed images, including a statue of a smiling pope wearing his three-tiered papal tiara (aka the “Triregnum”). See here. In light of that regrettable “controversy,” I thought it might be interesting to briefly examine the infamous papal tiara.

Historians believe that popes were crowned with the papal tiara beginning in the 8th century. The tiara initially had a single crown at the base, but a second crown was added around 1200 A.D. to signify the pope’s absolute authority over both the spiritual AND temporal realms. A third crown was added in the 1300s. What does the third crown signify? Some conjecture that because the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor had three crowns, signifying Germany, Lombardy, and Rome, the pope, not to be upstaged, also added a third crown. The official Vatican website explains the three crowns symbolize “the triple power of the pope: father of kings, governor of the world, and Vicar of Christ,” although “father of kings” and “governor of the world” appear to be one and the same claim only using different words, lending support to the preceding theory about keeping up with the Emperor. There are also some who contradict the Vatican ( a favorite pastime among Catholics these days) and conjecture the three crowns represent the threefold offices of Christ; priest, prophet, and king.

Popes appeared with the three-tiered tiara at all ceremonial papal functions for six-hundred years. However, Paul VI (photo left), famously removed his tiara from his head during the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council in 1963 as a gesture of collegiality with the bishops of the church and, some assume, as a renouncement of the papal claim to temporal power. Catholic traditionalists cite Paul VI’s act as a providential sign from God that symbolized the removal of apostolic authority from the papacy due to the heretical declarations of Vatican II.

Paul VI’s tiara is on permanent display at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Although the papal tiara is no longer worn by popes, it is featured on the flag of Vatican City (the Holy See), which is prominently displayed at the front of all Roman Catholic churches (photo right). Despite Paul VI’s ceremonious act, modern popes have never officially renounced the papacy’s claim of absolute authority over all temporal rulers dating back to pope Gregory VII in the 11th century.

When early Christianity was legalized and then adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD, it rapidly followed the imperial model with the bishop of Rome eventually becoming the temporal leader of Western Christendom. The Good News! of simple saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior was replaced with legalism and ritualism controlled by an increasingly powerful church hierarchy and clergy class. After reading through the New Testament, try then to imagine the apostles, Peter or Paul, focusing their efforts on the accumulation of temporal wealth and power and accepting earthly crowns and the regal veneration of their subservient subjects. SMH.

The triple-crown of the papacy, still displayed in every Catholic church, reminds us of the many centuries when Catholicism ruled Europe and lands beyond with an iron fist. Every blood-bought, born-again follower of Jesus Christ should be revolted by the papal tiara rather than displaying videos of it at their churches during worship services.

The Papal Tiara – Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_tiara

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” – Hebrews 11:24-26

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Francis’ papacy “a toxic combination of political liberalism and doctrinal relativism”

The Political Pope: How Pope Francis is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives
By George Neumayr
Center Street Publishing, 2017, 277 pages

If you had told me six months ago that three of my favorite reads so far for 2018 would be written by Roman Catholic conservatives, I would have questioned your sanity, but, amazingly, such has been the case.

In March, I had the distinct pleasure of reading and reviewing “Lost Shepherd: How Francis is Misleading His Flock” by Philip Lawler (see here), which was extremely critical of the papacy of pope Francis, especially for his shrewd and doctrine-defying lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and cohabitators in his “Amoris Laetitia” encyclical.

In April, I also had the pleasure of reading and reviewing “To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism” by Ross Douthat (see here), which offers the same dismay with Francis’ papacy as Lawler’s book, also especially in regards to the “Amoris” controversy.

And now I’ve just finished “The Political Pope” by George Neumayr, which offers a more comprehensive critique of Francis and his radical papacy rather than focusing mainly on “Amoris.” All of Francis’ efforts to steer the Catholic church away from its doctrinal foundations to liberal causes and “pragmatic pastoralism” since he began his papacy in 2013 are documented here. I’ve been following the Catholic church closely since I began this blog in 2015 so I was familiar with most of the material that was presented, but it was interesting to review it all in one volume. One thing that I was not familiar with was Francis’ deep affinity for the Marxist/Liberation Theology faction of the Latin American church, which helps explain why Francis prioritizes the goals of the political Left over traditional church doctrine.

“The Political Pope” is a fascinating book that I finished in just a few sittings. Neumayr is given to conservative political hyperbole much more than Lawler and Douthat in their books, but that’s my only qualification and it’s a minor one. If you desire to find out what really makes Francis tick and understand his goals for the Catholic church in the face of rising conservative opposition, this book is for you. Highly recommended.

“The crisis created by this pontificate’s toxic combination of political liberalism and doctrinal relativism is a historically singular one, which gives its unfolding a disconcerting drama: How will it end?” – The Political Pope, p. 221

Why is all of this intense internal Catholic criticism of Francis important to evangelicals? Catholics have always boasted that their church alone was the true church, guided by a supposedly infallible pope who was allegedly incapable of leading the church into error. But church conservatives reluctantly concede that Francis is certainly leading the church into error and that he must be opposed. By doing so, they de facto deny one of their proudest claims about the papacy.

Chapters:

  1. The Pope They Have Been Waiting For
  2. “Who Am I to Judge”
  3. The Left’s Long March to the Papacy
  4. The Liberal Jesuit from Latin America
  5. The Unholy Alliance
  6. The First Radical Green Pope
  7. The Open-Borders Pope
  8. The Pacifist Pope
  9. “I Don’t Want to Convert You”
  10. The Permissive Pope
  11. How Francis Is Undoing the Legacy of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI
  12. Will Paul Correct Peter?

Catholic radio host won’t answer question about pope Francis in forthright manner

Part of my daily routine at work is to listen to one hour of Catholic talk radio. While I wouldn’t recommend that activity to someone who has recently accepted Christ and come out of Roman Catholicism, I do it to stay abreast of what’s going on in the RCC and to pick up material for this blog.

I used to listen to a local Catholic talk show broadcast out of Buffalo, but after they changed formats and experimented for a couple of months with material that was very critical of pope Francis, they did an abrupt about-face and returned to uncontroversial (and very boring) topics. I then switched to the “Called to Communion” show on EWTN radio with host, David Anders (photo above), who attempts to proselytize Protestants and lapsed Catholics. I’d been listening to Anders for over eight weeks and hadn’t once heard him address the controversies surrounding pope Francis…until just now.

I was listening to the 5/22/18 podcast of “Called to Communion” and at the 42:31 mark, Nancy from Rockingham, North Carolina called in with a concern. She cited the recent news reports that the German Catholic bishops were debating the acceptability of intercommunion with Protestants, always a forbidden practice according to official Catholic teaching. But rather than issue a ruling on the argument, pope Francis directed the German bishops to work out a solution for themselves. Nancy then asked Anders…

“If the Holy Father lets the German people, for example, bishops, decide about spouses that are non-Catholic receiving the eucharist, what does that say or do to people who are attracted to the Catholic church by (its) authoritative teaching?”

Ah! Wonderful question! Nancy has put her finger on the very essence of the recent controversies over Catholicism’s claims to papal infallibility and the inability of the pope to lead the church into doctrinal error in light of Francis’ heterodoxy. I had been patiently waiting for this question for eight weeks! How would Anders respond?

For the next 6 minutes and 34 seconds, Dr. Anders danced around Nancy’s question. He said popes only speak definitively and dogmatically on issues of faith and morals when they speak ex cathedra – from the chair of Peter – and that Catholics are not bound to follow the pope when he is not speaking ex cathedra. This is sheer obfuscation. Popes have issued thousands of bulls, decrees, letters, and encyclicals over the centuries (240 encyclicals in the last 150 years alone) and Catholics were always obliged to obey their pontiff. Papal infallibility wasn’t defined until 1870. Did Catholics feel free to ignore the pope’s declarations and commands prior to 1870? Nonsense. Advising Catholics to obey the pope only if he speaks ex cathedra is conservative Catholics’ way of dealing with Francis’ heterodoxy without openly calling for schism and rebellion.

Dr. Anders, Nancy from Rockingham, North Carolina contacted you with an extremely important question, but when she hung up the phone she was no clearer about the answer than prior to her call. But why would anyone be surprised by Anders’ circumspection? You’ll never catch a low-level marketing executive publicly badmouthing his company’s CEO.

Postscript: Given the entire 1500-year history of the Catholic church, Catholic theologians can only agree on the infallibility of three papal decrees: The Immaculate Conception of Mary (1854), Papal Infallibility (1870), and the Assumption of Mary (1950). What is the use of having allegedly infallible popes if they almost never speak infallibly? It’s all a ruse.

Final episode: “Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History”

Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History
Episode Six: Courage, Change, & the Modern Papacy
CNN, originally aired 4/15/18

This episode is the last installment in the CNN series and it deals almost exclusively with the 1978-2005 papacy of Karol Wojtyla aka Pope John Paul II.

When Wojtyla was elected pope in 1978, tensions were already escalating in his native Poland between its citizens and the oppressive, Soviet-controlled government. Through direct and indirect means, Wojtyla influenced his countrymen to agitate for political and religious freedoms. Under rising pressures, the communist government voluntarily relinquished power in 1989. Wojtyla won admirers throughout the world for his role in the liberation of Poland. It’s quite ironic that John Paul II’s papal predecessors of the not-too-distant past (as late as the first four decades of the 20th century) regularly entered into concordats with national governments of Catholic-dominated countries, which severely limited the religious freedoms of Protestants.

This segment notes Wojtyla’s significance in the way he changed the world’s perception of the papacy. Due to his extensive globe trotting and his direct involvement in international politics and ecumenical initiatives, Wojtyla changed the image of the pope from an arcane, sectarian religious leader into a global figure of international importance. Biblical prophecy anyone? When the world’s inhabitants are threatened by an apocalyptic crisis, there is only one religious leader they will turn to; the pope. Wojtyla was instrumental in elevating the papacy to its current preeminent position in the eyes of the world.

I enjoyed this series quite a bit. Much of the information that’s presented is in stark contrast to the idealized versions of the papacy and church history that are fed to Catholicism’s credulous membership. As I’ve mentioned previously, the series’ glaring drawback is its lack of a conservative evangelical voice among the many commentators. Below are links to my reviews of the the previous five episodes:

Episode 1: The Rise of the Pope

Episode 2: The Resignation of Benedict XVI

Episode 3: The Price of Progress

Episode 4: A Church Divided

Episode 5: The Wartime Popes

 

Another conservative Catholic warns of pope Francis’ heresy

To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism
By Ross Douthat
Simon and Schuster, 2018, 235 pages

For centuries, Catholic apologists have claimed that their institutional church was the “one, true church” founded by Jesus Christ. They also claimed that the head of their church, the pope, was infallible in teachings affecting matters of faith and morals and that the Holy Spirit prevented the pope from leading the church into any doctrinal error. But then along came pope Francis.

In this book, Catholic conservative, Ross Douthat, thoroughly examines the mounting controversy in the church over Francis’ “apparent” lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in his “Amoris Laetitia” encyclical in April 2016.

Francis was a bit of a dark horse when he was elected to the papacy in 2013, but the consensus was that he would bring a much-needed pastoral approach to the office after 35 years of the rigid doctrinalism of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. However, many of the voting cardinals were unaware that Francis was very sympathetic to the ideas of the liberal prelates of the church including cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany.

At the church’s Synods on the Family in 2014 and 2015, conservatives and liberals clashed over the question of communion for Catholics living in “irregular unions,” i.e., remarried divorcees and cohabitators. Conservatives argued that the church must continue to withhold communion from people living in “adulterous” relationships, while liberals argued the church’s doctrinaire approach was alienating a large percentage of its membership. Both synods ended in stalemate, but Francis subsequently seemed to guilefully authorize the lifting of the ban on communion via two footnotes in his 2016 encyclical, which left the decision on communion up to parish priests on an individual basis.

Conservatives were stunned! Four cardinals sent a formal dubia (questions) letter to Francis, requesting that he clarify his encyclical. Francis ignored the petition while liberal bishops gleefully drew up guidelines authorizing distribution of communion to remarried divorcees in their dioceses. Francis subsequently added the weight of authorized magisterium to the liberal interpretation of the deliberately ambiguous document. Liberals are hoping “Amoris” opens the floodgates for further reforms such as intercommunion with Protestants and the blessing of same-sex marriages.

The “Amoris” controversy has significant ramifications for conservative Catholics. By lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees, Francis is de facto abrogating their proud claims of papal infallibility/preservation from error. But conservative Catholics are caught in a “Catch 22.” They cautiously refrain (at this point) from declaring Francis a heretic or recommending schism because one of their most cherished tenets has been absolute loyalty to the papacy. Douthat looks at the future of Catholicism with a good degree of pessimism and expects increasing polarization between the doctrinaire conservatives and liberal pragmatists.

Most Catholics in the pews and evangelical observers aren’t even aware of the mounting turmoil in the halls of the Vatican, but it’s highly ironic to evangelicals who are paying attention that many ardent conservative Catholics now consider this pope to be an undeclared heretic. This is extraordinary, folks! Even outlandish anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists such as Jack Chick and Alberto Rivera could not have imagined this current scenario in their wildest dreams.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone interested in digging into the details of the “Amoris” controversy. For my review of another book by a conservative Catholic that critically examines “Amoris” and the swelling controversy, see here.

To my Catholic readers: On a personal note, I implore you to come out of Catholicism. Your faith is based on an un-Biblical sacramental system and the man-made traditions of very fallible men. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that upholds God’s Word without compromise.

“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” – Romans 10:2-4

Television Update

Time to get caught up on our Catholic-themed television shows…

Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History
Episode Five: The Wartime Popes (this title is a misnomer because the episode is almost entirely about Pius XII)
CNN, originally aired 4/8/18

This episode focuses on the extremely controversial papacy of Eugenio Pacelli aka Pius XII. Previously the papal nuncio/ambassador to Germany, Pacelli was appointed Cardinal Secretary of State by pope Pius XI in 1930. In that capacity, he negotiated a number of concordats (treaties) with various European and Latin American countries, most of which contained clauses that recognized Catholicism as the state religion and suppressed Protestant churches. Pacelli’s brother, Francesco, had been instrumental in negotiating the Lateran Treaty in 1929 between the Vatican and fascist Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini. Eugenio Pacelli negotiated the Reichskonkordat with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany in 1933. Eugenio was elected to the papacy in 1939 for his diplomatic experience in the face of increasing international volatility.

Pope Pius XII has been strongly criticized over the last 70 years for his deafening silence in the face of the Nazis’ genocide of European Jewry during the Second World War. His defenders insist the pope chose to work quietly behind the scenes in attempting to help Jews rather than risk additional persecution with a public denunciation. While Hitler’s brutality affected Catholics throughout Europe, the church also recognized the German fascist dictator was a bulwark against its most feared and hated enemy, Russian Soviet communism.

Pius XII would later define the doctrine of the physical assumption of Mary into Heaven as dogma in 1950. Admirers have been pressing for Pacelli’s canonization despite his controversial papacy.

Those who aren’t aware of the controversy surrounding Pius XII and the Holocaust will find this episode quite interesting.

Next and final episode: “Courage, Change, & the Modern Papacy,” airs tonight, 4/15/18


 

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Living Biblically
Episode Seven: Let Us Pray
CBS, originally aired 4/9/18

Chip confides to his “god squad” (a priest and rabbi) that he has some difficulties with praying (he mentions the “Hail Mary” prayer as one of his regulars). Priest Gene advises Chip to keep trying and promises prayer will eventually come naturally. Shortly afterwards, Chip is stuck in an elevator with some of his co-workers and his prayer seems to facilitate their rescue. Chip is not happy about his atheist mother-in-law staying with him and his wife for a short time, including her constant jabs at his religion. When she suffers an apparent heart attack, Chip’s prayer for her seems to result in her medical stabilization (the heart attack turned out to be a peptic ulcer).

No Gospel here, folks. It’s all about the religion of Cain.

Next episode, “Show Hospitality,” airing 4/16/18

Keeping up with “Pope” and “Living Biblically”

I’m getting caught up with my Catholic-themed television shows. Sorry that I’m behind.

Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History
Episode Four: A Church Divided
CNN, originally aired 4/1/18

This episode begins by noting the absolute corruption of the papacy of Leo X (1513-1521), who was famous for funding his personal extravagance by selling church offices and indulgences. The scheme of granting papal indulgences originated during the Crusades as an enticement to recruit knights, but Leo took it a step further by selling indulgences throughout Europe in order to finance the construction of the new St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. A German priest, Martin Luther, objected to the sale of indulgences, and subsequently began criticizing the papacy and the church on other dogmas and practices that disagreed with Scripture. Most notably, the Holy Spirit used Luther and the other early Reformers to recover the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Protected by sympathetic monarchs and with the help of the printing press, Luther was able to disseminate his writings throughout Europe. And for the first time, large numbers of people would have access to the Bible in their own language. The Reformation had begun!

Leo X’s successor, Clement VII, had his hands full with Henry VIII and his breakaway Church of England. The next pope, Paul III, called the Council of Trent, which launched the Counter-Reformation. Ignatius Loyola created the Jesuits, a militant religious order whose purpose was to assist the pope in countering the spread of Protestantism.

I was pleased with some parts of this episode and disappointed with others. Among the disappointments:

  • There is no mention of important early Reformers, Huldrych Zwingli or John Calvin.
  • Luther is labeled a “fundamentalist.”
  • It is stated that Jesuit Loyola taught that faithful Catholics could also have a direct, personal connection to God just as Luther taught. Such a comparison is not surprising coming from CNN, but to hear Loyola’s false piety and asceticism compared to a relationship with God through saving faith in Jesus Christ was disturbing.
  • As in the previous three episodes, there are no contributions from a conservative evangelical commentator, a regrettable blunder especially in a segment about the Reformation.

Next episode: “The Watime Popes” airing tonight, 4/8/18


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Living Biblically
Episode Six: Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness
CBS, originally aired 4/2/18

As the episode begins, Chip catches himself telling some “white lies” and decides that if he’s going to live 100% by the Bible, he must forgo lying completely. Predictably, his blunt honesty wreaks havoc in his marriage, in his friendships, and at work. Chip’s “god squad” (a priest and rabbi) advise him that a little “white lie” now and then is better than ruined relationships.

When do “white lies” turn into “black lies”? Where is the dividing line? The answer is ALL lies are sinful and we are all guilty of breaking the Law in this regard.

One of the “lowlights” of this episode is repeated reference to a ribald joke involving male genitalia that Chip finds quite hilarious. Maybe he overheard that one at a Friday night card game at the K of C? Looks like the show’s writers are adding a little “spice” in attempt to boost the dismal ratings.

Next episode: “Let Us Pray,” airing Monday, 4/9/18

Bribery, murder, and licentiousness: Just another day in the Renaissance papacy

Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History
Episode 3: The Price of Progress
CNN, first aired 3/25/18

I caught up with episode number three, “The Price of Progress,” of this docudrama series on Saturday night via on-demand and I’m finally getting around to reviewing it. The price of “progress”? I’m not sure what kind of “progress” they’re referring to, but it’s surely not spiritual progress.

The subtitle of this particular episode is, “As the pope’s temporal power and political influence grows, so does corruption in the church.” From the examples that are presented, the viewer is able to see that the Catholic church was being led deeper and deeper into corruption by its popes prior to the Reformation:

  • In 15th-century Italy, prominent families vied for wealth and power in the same way as the infamous Mafioso families of 20th-century America. Pope Sixtus IV of the Della Rovere family personally plotted the assassination of two brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano of the rival Medici family. Lorenzo survived.
  • Pope Alexander XI aka Rodrigo de Borja ascended to the papacy in 1492 through bribery. History records Borja as the most corrupt of many corrupt popes. His name became synonymous with papal libertinism and nepotism. Rather than allow popular Florentine friar, Girolamo Savonarola, to continue with his rebukes of Borja’s flagrant corruption, the pope ordered his execution.
  • Pope Julias II aka Giuliano della Rovere had lost out to Rodrigo de Borja in the high stakes bidding war for the papal throne in 1492 and the men became bitter enemies. Cardinal Giuliano subsequently forged an alliance with King Charles VIII of France who invaded Italy with the intent of deposing Borja, but the pope skillfully managed to retain his throne. Giuliano was finally able to buy the papacy in 1503. He spent lavishly on the arts and new buildings and laid the foundation stone of the new St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • Pope Leo X aka Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici (grandson of the man Pope Sixtus IV tried to murder) precipitated the Reformation by authorizing the selling of indulgences to finance the construction of the new St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Sprinkled liberally throughout the stories of the above four popes are additional examples of murder, bribery, illegitimate children, nepotism, military conquest, accumulation of vast wealth and material holdings, and patronage of ostentatious and ungodly works of art.

In the face of such sordid history, Catholic apologists claim it is the office of the pope that is holy, and not necessarily the individuals who are “elected.” But even a casual student of papal history can observe that these men were not infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit in “matters of faith and morals.”

I’m looking forward to viewing the next episode of the series, “A Church Divided,” which will examine the Reformation.

Three-fer Wednesday: Papal Blessings for $ale, “Most People Are Good,” and “Living Biblically” #5

Papal Blessings for Sale?

I’m currently reading a good book about Roman Catholicism that I anticipate reviewing in a few days. The book mentions that Catholics are able to purchase blessings from the pope. But first we need to take a few steps back. The Catholic church teaches that at the moment of their ordination, its priests are endowed with amazing powers such as the alleged ability to change ordinary bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ and to be able to offer the Jesus host as a sacrifice for sins, to forgive sins in the confessional, and to bestow powerful blessings on persons and objects. Catholics believe a priest’s blessing can ward off evil and induce material and spiritual advantages. Catholics regularly come to their priests for blessings. Naturally, a bishop’s personal blessing is deemed to be superior to a priest’s blessing, and a blessing from the pope, the supposed “Vicar of Christ,” well, that is the ultimate. Many Catholics would love to have a “genuine” papal apostolic blessing, but most will obviously never be able to travel to the Vatican. But other options are available, for a price of course. For more on the sale of papal blessings, let’s refer to the passage from “Tradition or Truth” by Vince Wall, p. 72:

“Papal Blessings are decorated parchments with a photo of the current Pope and the text indicates a particular blessing or Divine favour granted to the purchaser* (see photo above, dollar signs are compliments of moi). Once a purchaser paid for the Papal Blessing, the parchment would be delivered to the Vatican where it would be (…blessed by the pope en masse with other objects and…) signed by an official (verifying its “authenticity”) and then the “blessing” would be sent back to the purchaser in the country from which they came. Papal Blessings can still be purchased today as seen at”… http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connected/elem_apost/documents/rc_elemosineria_doc_20130218_benedizioni_en.html

Occasions for papal apostolic blessings listed on the Vatican website include:

1. Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation
2. Marriage
3. Priestly Ordination
4. Religious Profession
5. Secular Consecration
6. Ordinations of Permanent Deacons
7. Marriage Anniversaries (10, 25, 40, 50 , 60 years), Priestly Ordination, Religious Profession
8. Birthdays (18, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100)
9. Catholic individuals or families (with name and surname of the spouses united in a religious marriage).

According to the website, the cost of a papal blessing ranges from 13-25 euros ($16-$31 U.S. dollars). International shipping must also be added with the cost ranging from 18-30 euros ($22-$37 U.S. dollars).

Catholics are conditioned to accept this type of religious commerce and see nothing wrong with it. I wonder what ecumenical evangelicals would think about it?

*The particular papal apostolic blessing featured in the photo invokes the “continued protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”


Most People Are Good?

In my drive into work yesterday morning, one of the DJs on the radio station I was listening to mentioned that the #1 country song in the country is currently “Most People Are Good” by Luke Bryan. Take a listen below. The wisdom of the world has nothing to do with the wisdom of God. God’s Word says no one is good and that we all deserve eternal punishment because of our sin, but that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16. People absolutely love this wide-is-the-way song, which claims that “most mamas ought to qualify for sainthood.” I love mothers, but no one qualifies for Heaven. Bryan pontificates that “you love who you love, ain’t nothing to be ashamed of” and several other counter-Biblical notions. It’s no mistake that this song resonates strongly with unbelievers and is the #1 song in the country.


Living Biblically
Episode #5: “Honor Thy Father”
CBS, Broadcast 3/26/18

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Chip and his wife hang out with the “god squad” rabbi and priest at the local watering hole.

Last night, I caught up with the fifth episode of CBS’s sorry new comedy series, “Living Biblically,” via on-demand.

In this episode, Chip is caught off-guard when his father shows up unannounced from out-of-town. His father (Christopher McDonald who played Shooter McGavin in “Happy Gilmore”) is an obnoxious jerk who was an incredibly lousy parent. Chip’s always-present “god-squad” advisers, a priest and rabbi, challenge Chip to forgive his father for his trespasses, past and present, as difficult as that may be. Chip proceeds to forgive his father, which he says will free him from not making the same mistakes with his own soon-to-be-born child.

Once again, this show is all about the natural man’s understanding of “goodness” and nothing about the Gospel and finding forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

CNN: Papal “succession” by money and blood

Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History
Episode 2: The Resignation of Benedict XVI
CNN, first aired 3/18/18

I finally caught up with the second episode of this series via on-demand.

The title of this episode is deceptive. Yes, it begins with the unusual resignation of pope Benedict XVI aka Joseph Ratzinger in 2013, but the docudrama then explores several historical cases in which a pope resigned or was deposed due to nefarious circumstances

Case #1: His powerful Italian family used bribery to buy the papacy for nineteen-year-old, Benedict IX, in 1032. He was subsequently driven from Rome due to flagrant corruption, but managed to regroup and expel his successor, Sylvester III, and become pope again in 1045. But Sylvester III hung around on the fringes, still claiming to be the legitimate pope. Benedict IX then sold the office, but had second thoughts. When he attempted to regain the office from Gregory VI in 1047, Roman clergymen appealed to Henry, King of the Germans, who cleared Benedict IX, Sylvester III, and Gregory VI from the deck and installed his own pope, Clement II, who dutifully crowned Henry as Holy Roman Emperor.

Case #2: Peter the Hermit was elected pope Celestine V in 1294 because of his personal ascetic piety, but it became immediately clear that the “holy man” wasn’t cut out for the job of a cut-throat administrator. Cardinal Benedetto Caetani pressured him to resign and Celestine complied after only five months in office, clearing the way for the ambitious Caetani to become the next pope, Boniface VIII. The new pope kept his predecessor under lock and key until his death. Watching from the sidelines, King Philip IV of France was eager to acquire more power for himself and his country. He was able to depose Boniface VIII and move the official seat of the papacy from Rome to Avignon in France in 1309, where he installed a pope loyal to him, Clement V.

Case #3: Pope Gregory XI returned the papacy from Avignon to Rome in 1377, but his successor, Urban VI, was so cruel that a large group of cardinals fled back to Avignon and elected their own pope, Clement VII. A church council was called at Pisa in 1409, which deposed the popes of Rome and Avignon and elected a third pope. But the popes of Rome and Avignon would not yield. Another council was called in Constance, Germany, which deposed the three claimants and elected Pope Martin V in 1417. The Council of Constance is also notable for condemning reformer, Jan Hus, to death as a heretic. On a personal note, I was able to visit the council building in Constance in 2016 (photo below). For more on the largely-unheard-of “Western Schism” led by the competing popes, see here.

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Council Buiding in Constance, Germany

The above cases are just three examples of the rank corruption of the papacy throughout history. To its credulous membership, the Catholic church presents its “succession” of popes as the tranquil transfer of power from one pope to the next as guided by the Holy Spirit, but the historical reality was that the papal office was often secured by means of bribery, murder, and military force. CNN did an excellent job with this second episode and I recommend it highly.

Next episode: The Price of Progress