Father Jones and Mrs. Jones?

Thorn
Cardinal Ralph (Richard Chamberlain) and his “friend,” Meggie (Rachel Ward), in 1983’s television mini-series,”The Thorn Birds.”

Pope Francis continues to shake things up in the Catholic church to the chagrin of traditionalists. This week he announced that he’s going to look into the possibility of allowing priests to marry (see stories below).

There appears to have been some prejudice against married clergy for centuries before 1075 when pope Gregory VII officially barred married priests from ministry. It was argued that celibate priests practiced a higher form of spirituality and were able to concentrate on their priestly duties more effectively. Probably even more troubling to the hierarchy were concerns about married priests and church finances. A few decades previous, Pope Benedict VIII issued a ruling prohibiting the children of priests from inheriting property.

But a celibate clergy soon created all kinds of problems for the church. It was once reported that Rome had the highest number of prostitutes per capita among major European cities. Many popes, cardinals, and bishops kept secret (and not so secret) mistresses. Illegitimate sons of the church’s princes were often awarded high offices within the church bureaucracy. Human nature being what it is, “celibate” priests preyed upon married and unmarried women within their parishes. The church’s rule of clerical celibacy also attracted sexual deviates and social misfits. The scandal of clerical pedophilia and the subsequent cover-up by the hierarchy has rocked the church to its foundations over the last twenty years.

But Francis is being pragmatic. The Catholic church has experienced a significant decline in priests in the last fifty years. There were 60,000 priests in the U.S. in 1965 but that number has shrunk to 37,000 in 2015 and many of those men are elderly. Parishes are closing or consolidating because of the shortage of priests (and declining attendance). Now that priests are no longer venerated in Catholic society anywhere near the degree they were fifty years ago, there is little that attracts warm-blooded, young Catholic men to a celibate lifestyle. Conservative Catholics will fight this change just as they are fighting Francis’ “Amoris” encyclical allowing communion to remarrieds. This switch to married clergy will take some time but by floating this balloon we can see that Francis is greasing the skids.

From an evangelical point of view, it’s very clear from God’s Word that a mediating priesthood and sacrifice for sin were done away with by the ministry of Jesus Christ. The Bible also warns against religious leaders who forbid marriage. Roman Catholics claim their church is “Semper eadem,” never changing, but even a casual student of history knows the Catholic church has changed its teachings and disciplines rather frequently.

Thank you, Lord, for freeing me from man-made doctrines and precepts. Thank you for opening my eyes to the glorious “Good News” of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Jesus Christ, the Perfect Priest
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/1611/jesus-christ-the-perfect-priest


Pope Francis: ‘We have to think about’ married priests in Catholic Church
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-we-have-to-think-about-married-priests-in-catholic-church

Pope Francis open to allowing married priests in Catholic Church
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/10/pope-open-allowing-married-priests/98998496/

Sex orgies, prostitution, porn: Allegations shake Catholic Church in Italy
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/03/09/sex-orgies-prostitution-porn-claims-shake-catholic-church-italy/98962674/

Why does the scandal of pedophile priests continue within the Catholic church?

How long ago did reports of the abuse of children by pedophile Catholic priests andPR the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy first begin creeping into the news headlines? Thirty years ago? The scandal became full blown in 2002 with the Boston Globe’s detailed reports on the abuse and cover-up in the archdiocese of Boston. After thousands of victims have come forward and after several dioceses and religious orders have declared bankruptcy subsequent to paying out legal settlements, one would have thought that the Roman Catholic church would have enacted comprehensive measures to safeguard its children. As the stories below reveal, that has not been the case. Why not?

Within Catholicism, the all-important clergy – popes, cardinals, bishops, and even parish priests – were always entirely sacrosanct. Consideration for anyone victimized by the clergy was always secondary, if they were acknowledged at all. The reputation of the “holy” church was paramount. It was always thought better to avoid any hint of damaging scandal by transferring sexual predators and deviants rather than defrocking them. The civil authorities, in the rare number of cases they were involved in, could be counted on to cooperate with the church for the “greater good.” This ongoing scandal is only one of several marks of the spiritual corruption of Rome.


Abuse scandals multiply in pope’s backyard of Latin America

Abuse scandals multiply in pope’s backyard of Latin America

Detroit priest removed for abusing girl now works with pregnant teens
http://www.redding.com/news/378803451.xhtml

Priests and ministers: Aren’t they the same thing?

Evangelical churches have their ministers and Roman Catholicism has its priests. ButCATPR aren’t they the same thing, just with different titles?

Evangelical ministers are called to preach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:12. Evangelical pastors are to preach and teach God’s Word and to shepherd the Lord’s flock and be examples of the Lord’s love and faithfulness. Scripture says we’re to respect and submit to our pastors in the Lord but we’re certainly not to put them up on pedestals in the place of Jesus Christ. They’re just sinners saved by grace just like the other believers in the congregation.

Catholic priests on the other hand are ordained by the church hierarchy to administer the sacraments that Catholics believe are required for salvation. The Catholic sacerdotal system is an anti-biblical continuation of the Old Testament, Levitical priesthood. Catholicism teaches its priests change bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ to be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of those who attend mass. Priests forgive sins in confession and administer the last rites to the dying, which Catholics believe absolves the individual of all mortal sin. Priests have the power to bless living and inanimate objects. Catholic parishioners bring their rosaries, statues, scapulars, and other objects to priests for their blessing. It’s believed an object blessed by a priest has powers to ward off evil and effect desirable benefits. The priesthood is central to the Catholic system. There would be no Catholicism without its priests and their powers.

In previous generations, priests were highly revered by the Catholic faithful. It wasn’t unusual for members of the Catholic laity to kiss the hands that changed bread and wine into Jesus. Catholics venerated their priests because they were the gateway to their salvation. Catholicism boldly claims its priests are “alter Christus,” another Christ. The Catholic clergy’s absolute control over the means to salvation was not achieved by happenstance. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, it devolved from the preaching of saving faith in Jesus Christ into religious ritual, legalism, and the acquisition of worldly wealth, power, and control.

“St. Francis of Assisi used to say, “If I saw an Angel and a priest, I would bend my knee first to the priest and then to the Angel.” Besides, the power of the priest surpasses that of the Blessed Virgin Mary; for, although this Divine Mother can pray for us, and by her prayers obtain whatever she wishes, yet she cannot absolve a Christian from even the smallest sin.” – from “The Dignity and Duties of the Priest” by St. Alphonsus Liguori

Some of the luster has faded from the Catholic priesthood beginning in the 1960s and especially after the pedophile scandals over the last twenty years. The church’s celibacy rule for its clergy often attracted the socially awkward and even psychologically ill. Many Catholics now see their priests as fallible, struggling souls just like them rather than someone to be placed on a pedestal. The majority of Catholics ignore their priests’ commands to attend mass every Sunday and confession at least yearly. Recent surveys show only 50% of Catholics are even aware that their church teaches its priests turn bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ.

The Catholic mass is largely about the consecration of the bread and wine, not about preaching and teaching. The sermon portion of the mass, known as the “homily” (Greek for “speaking with”) is generally very short, usually around seven or eight minutes according to Catholic sources, and is often given by a man who is not inclined to speak before crowds. Even so, the message he preaches is not the Good News of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The priest’s message admonishes mass-goers to be faithful to church teaching, participate in the sacraments, and to keep trying to obey the Ten Commandments to merit salvation. That’s an empty message without hope, for no one can possibly obey the Ten Commandments. Disaffected Catholics often complain they “don’t get anything out of the mass” and they would be right. The Catholic system, completely dependent upon its priests, is facing a looming crisis with religious vocations plummeting. In 1975, there were 59,000 priests in the United States but today there’s only around 40,000.

There is no need for a sacrificial priesthood. Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and mankind. The New Testament makes it explicitly clear that the priestly sacrificial system was completely fulfilled by Jesus Christ and was done away with. Repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith. Ask the Lord to help you find an evangelical church in your area that preaches and teaches God’s Word without compromise.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” – Hebrews 10:16-18.


 

The Scandal of the Catholic Priesthood
A sermon from John MacArthur
http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-264/the-scandal-of-the-catholic-priesthood

“The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional”

 

The Priest, the Woman, and the ConfessionalPWC
By Charles Chiniquy
Chick Publications, 1979, 144 pages

I don’t normally waste my time with material from Chick Publications because I don’t believe in every calamity being attributed to a Jesuit global conspiracy, but I received this book as a gift. This Chick reprint of “The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional” by ex-priest, Charles Chiniquy, preserves a valuable nineteenth-century Protestant critique of Roman Catholicism’s sacrament of auricular confession. Chiniquy’s book was first published in 1875, followed by many subsequent editions.

With overwrought prose typical of his times, Chiniquy warns his readers of the dangers inherent in “auricular” (spoken into the ear of the confessor) confession. Catholics are obligated to confess their “mortal” sins to a priest at least once a year under penalty of incurring yet another “mortal” sin. Since most penitents are extremely reluctant to divulge any embarrassing sexual sins, whether they be thoughts or actions, priests are instructed to thoroughly question the person about such matters to ensure a candid “good” confession. Chiniquy gives many examples of the dangers of celibate confessors (priests) interrogating their female supplicants about such personal matters. The church even defines the use of the confessional for immoral purposes by priests as “solicitation.”

Catholicism teaches salvation comes by receiving its sacraments, all tightly controlled by the clergy, and by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules. The sacrament of reconciliation, auricular confession, is just another opportunity for the Catholic clergy to exercise control over its members. Chiniquy demonstrates that confession of sins to a priest has no basis in New Testament Scripture and he urges the reader to turn from man-made Catholic legalism and traditions and accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Once a person accepts Christ they should confess all sin directly to God, not to a human mediator (Mark 2:7).

The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional has been lumped together with similar Evangelical Protestant books of the period as anti-Catholic hate literature of a bygone era. One could argue the title is a bit salacious and meant to appeal to prurient interest. Likewise, the illustrated cover provided by Chick Publications is mildly sensationalistic. Ex-priest Chiniquy definitely exaggerates his point by claiming the confessional was directly responsible for bringing many Catholic countries to ruin. These very minor objections aside, even the most sectarian Catholic apologist can’t deny the Roman confessional has led to abuse of scandalous proportions.

While Chiniquy was concerned with relationships between confessor priests and their female penitents, news reports over the last thirty years have revealed shocking clerical sexual abuse of children, mainly boys, validating the ex-priest’s warnings but going far beyond the impropriety alluded to in this book. In many cases the abusive relationships between priests and children began in the confessional box. Sending very young children (age 7) into the dark box didn’t begin until 1910 with a decree from “Saint” Pius X. In 2012, bishopaccountability.org reported the number of American priests credibly accused of molesting children since 1950 to be more than 6,100. Over 16,000 victims have been documented although many others surely never came forward. The Catholic church’s cover up of its pedophile priests scandal involved the highest offices of the hierarchy.

In contrast to Chiniquy’s time, Catholics now stay away from the confessional box in droves despite the threat of “mortal” sin. Who can blame them? Recent Catholic sources state only 12% of its members participate in confession at least once a year. Evidently the other 88% would rather take their chances with eternity than share a dark box with a priest. Additionally, asking penitents to recall all of the times they disobeyed the Ten Commandments in the past year is beyond ludicrous. I couldn’t possibly recall all of my sins against God in thought, word, deed, and omission for even a single day. Christ reveals in Matthew 5 the utter hopelessness of attempting to obey the law as a means to salvation. The entire business is a religious sham designed to keeps its members totally dependent on the Catholic clergy.

“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” – Galatians 2:16

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and ask the Lord to direct you to an evangelical church in your area that’s preaches God’s Word without compromise.

Projections of priest shortages worry Catholics

The article far below warns of a projected decline in the number of Catholic priests in thedecline Cleveland, Ohio diocese over the next 30 years. There are currently 264 active priests in the diocese but a recent study suggests the number will be around 145 by 2045. Of course, the shrinking number of priests isn’t peculiar to Cleveland but is the case throughout the United States.

I would suggest three of the biggest reasons for the decline of priestly vocations within Catholicism might be:

  • A growing indifference to official church teaching and requirements. Only 24% of Catholics attend mandatory weekly mass and only 12% participate in mandatory yearly confession. 40% of Catholics do not believe the consecrated bread wafer and wine are the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ.
  • Mandatory celibacy is viewed as too great a sacrifice by young, red-blooded Catholic men.
  • The pedophile scandal and subsequent cover-up by the hierarchy cast a dark pall over the priesthood in the minds of many Catholics.

Catholicism relies heavily on its priests. The church teaches salvation is dependent on a mixture of sacramental grace and merit. Its sacraments – baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, confession, marriage, ordination, and last rites – are all administered and jealously controlled by the church’s bishops and priests. Catholicism without priests is like Los Angeles without gas stations.

But the Bible teaches the priestly sacerdotal system was done away with by the final High Priest, Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself once and for all time as the sacrifice for sin. He now sits at the right hand of the Father acting as the sole Mediator for all who accept Him as Savior. You won’t find Him on Catholic altars as a broken victim or locked away in tabernacle boxes as a flat, round piece of bread.

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. He’s the only Priest you’ll ever need!

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” – Hebrews 10:11-14


 

The Scandal of the Catholic Priesthood – John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-264/the-scandal-of-the-catholic-priesthood


 

With priest shortage growing, Northeast Ohio Catholics can expect fewer Masses, other changes

http://www.cleveland.com/tipoff/index.ssf/2016/02/with_priest_shortage_growing_n.html

 

Doubt

Doubt (2008)doubt

Directed by John Patrick Shanley and starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis.

Sister Aloysius (Streep) is the no-nonsense principal of a Catholic grammar school in the Bronx in 1964. The stern, ice-blooded nun exacts swift discipline on the children without a drop of charity. Young Sister James (Adams), a sweet-hearted, new teacher at the school, has yet to become hardened and embittered by her circumstances.

A new priest, Father Flynn (Hoffman), arrives at the parish and Sister Aloysius takes an immediate dislike to his liberal ways. When Sister James confides to Sister Aloysius that she suspects Flynn is sexually abusing a twelve-year-old male student, the principal sets a determined course to have the priest removed from the parish.

This is a riveting film from start  to finish. Streep, Hoffman, Adams, and Davis all give outstanding, Oscar-nominated performances. Shanley’s fine script also received an Oscar nomination. Did Flynn actually molest the boy? The audience is left guessing. What about the priest’s pride in his long fingernails? Absolutely twisted! Actually, the notions of celibate nuns in convents and celibate priests in rectories are beyond creepy. Christians point to the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses as being cults but is there a religious practice more cultish than a convent full of virgin women? Only social conditioning prevents such a practice from being seen as the outrageously aberrant arrangement that it is. And we’ve all been made aware of the damage done by “celibate” pedophile priests and the cover-up by the church hierarchy.

I was baptized as an infant into the Catholic church and attended parochial grammar and high school. I can personally attest to the frustration and unhappiness of the nuns, priests, and brothers who were supposed to be our guides and examples. Many of us who came in frequent contact with the Catholic clergy back in those days knew they were troubled souls. As I watched this film my heart broke for the victims of predatory clerics.

As a young adult I began reading the Bible and eventually abandoned the works-based religion of men and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Catholicism gives lip service to grace and faith but ultimately it’s a works-based church which teaches justification before God comes through its sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!).

I’m so grateful for the free gift of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone as taught by the Bible and Bible-believing, evangelical churches. This film brought to mind all the poor souls blinded by the legalism and empty ritualism of Catholicism. When Sister Aloysius cries out at the end of the movie that she doubts her  religion she voices the uncertainty and joylessness of everyone who attempts to merit their own salvation. Convents are now largely a thing of the past but Catholics are still attempting to earn their way to Heaven.

We all waste a lot of our time with mindless television shows and films. “Doubt” is a must-see. You can stream “Doubt” from Amazon for the price of a Starbucks coffee or order the DVD for the price of two cups.

Pilgrimage from Rome: The True Story of a Roman Catholic Priest’s Search for the Truth

Pilgrimage from Rome: The True Story of a Roman Catholic Priest’s Search for thePFR Truth
By Bartholomew F. Brewer
Bob Jones University Press, 1982, 164 pages

The years tend to blend together at this stage of my life but I left Catholicism around 1980 or 1981 and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983. Very shortly after my conversion I discovered the Mission to Catholics ministry led by ex-Carmelite priest, Bart Brewer.

Mission to Catholics was the type of “old-school” ministry that’s becoming increasingly hard to find these days.  Bart and his wife traveled the country speaking in churches and debating Catholic apologists. He offered a very large assortment of tracts, pamphlets, and books dealing with Catholicism. In my early years as a Christian I was very grateful to have a resource like Mission to Catholics available.

In “Pilgrimage from Rome,” Bart gives an informative and heartfelt account of why he left Roman Catholicism. Bart was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1953 but began to struggle with the doctrines of the church in comparison to what he read in the Bible. He left the church in 1963 and eventually received Jesus Christ as his Savior. Bart founded Mission to Catholics in 1973 and faithfully delivered God’s Good News to Roman Catholics until he went home to be with the Lord in 2005.

Used copies of Pilgrimage from Rome are available from Amazon.com here.

The Mission to Catholics website has not been updated since 2006 but it’s still a very good resource. See here.

There are several videos of Bart Brewer on You Tube. See here.

See my list of over 280 books comparing Catholicism to God’s Word on my Book tab here.