Don’t you dare try to correct me! I’m a priest!!!

FC

Although I left Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior several decades ago, I like to listen to Catholic talk radio daily just to keep abreast of what’s going on within the RCC. The show I listen to regularly is “Calling All Catholics” on The Station of the Cross, WLOF (Our Lady of Fatima) 101.7 FM out of nearby Buffalo, New York. Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, pastor of St. Josaphat’s in Cheektowaga, N.Y. (a Buffalo suburb), is featured on Tuesdays and Thursdays and he’s by far my favorite call-taker because he’s just so entertaining in a rough, gruff, unpolished, “youse guys” kind of way.

Rick is a hard-nosed, no-nonsense priest who sounds like he would have very much enjoyed the veneration given to the “alter Christus” clergy back in the pre-Vatican II, church-militant era, when the pious faithful used to kiss the hands of their parish priests, who claimed to change bread wafers and wine with their hands into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Back in those days, no Catholic would have even dreamt of standing up to their priest, which of course led to all kinds of abuses. On questions regarding evangelicals, Rick usually starts off in a very conciliatory tone but as things progress and he begins to get lathered up, he can be counted on to refer to evangelical ministers as “Reverend Billy Bob” and to evangelical Christians as “Bible thumpers” or “Bible bangers.” Yes, it’s all very entertaining when the polite facade comes down.

Today I was listening to the podcast of the 12/03/2013 show and a listener had the audacity to send in an email correcting the priest. In an earlier portion of the show, Rick had referred to the deceased mother Teresa (d. 1997) as being in Heaven. But the Catholic church wouldn’t actually canonize mother Teresa until September 4, 2016, almost three years after this show was broadcast. Let’s pick up on Rick’s reaction to the insolent listener:

Mike Denz, show moderator: We’re gonna go to one of those emails we got from Jim in Rochester (N.Y.). “Father Rick mentioned that mother Teresa is in Heaven. How does he know that?” And then he puts a Latin phrase in there that I believe…

Rick Poblocki, priest: Oremus Pro Invicem.

MD: “Let’s pray for each other,” is that right, or “Pray for one another”?

RP: Who knows.

MD: [Laughs]

RP: Anyway, here’s the thing. Well, Jim, I’d say this, nobody really knows until the church canonizes her but there’s a sure bet that she probably is. Probably because she never asked such a snotty question of a priest or tried to make him look stupid. And if you want to say something in Latin, why don’t you try the “Miserere,” Psalm 51, and see how that one works? Next question. Let’s do something real here.


It became very popular among some compromising evangelical pastors to hold up Billy Graham and mother Teresa as exemplary Christians to their congregations. Unfortunately, Billy Graham drifted into ecumenism early in his career and then into universalism. Mother Teresa upheld the Catholic church’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit and also championed universalism. Despite what Rick and the Catholic church claim, nobody really knows if mother Teresa is in Heaven. If she accepted Christ as her Savior by faith alone before she died then she is in Heaven. But if she held onto the Catholic church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit then she died in her sins and went to hell.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14

“Thanks for your question” (but I don’t really have a good answer so please excuse the bamboozling).

rp

Last night, as I was driving home from our church group meeting, I had the radio tuned to the local Catholic station and I heard some listeners call in with two questions that were very similar to those I’ve heard from several other Catholic talk shows lately. I’ll paraphrase the questions, give the priests’ responses, and then add my own commentary.

Reading the Bible

Caller #1: Hello, Father. I would like to start reading the Bible but I don’t know where to start. Do you have any advice on which book of the Bible I should begin with?

Priest: Hello. I am glad you desire to read Scripture. You should probably choose one of the Gospels to begin with and go from there.

Commentary: I was a Catholic for twenty-seven years and went through twelve years of Catholic education but never read the Bible at school or at home. Catholics hear snippets of Scripture during mass but their church never really encouraged personal Bible reading. The VAST majority of Roman Catholics have little or no hands-on Bible knowledge. They know several Bible stories but not the Bible in total and how the Gospel of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is woven throughout. Praise the Lord that some Catholics desire to read God’s Word. When they read Scripture they’ll discover many of the things taught by their church can’t be found in God’s Word. Many will discover salvation is NOT by sacramental grace and merit and will understand why the Catholic clergy would prefer that the laity not read God’s Word on their own. Many of the Catholics who call in inquiring about reading the Bible sound as if they’re older. I’m saddened that personal Bible reading and study was not encouraged and even discouraged for so long by a “church” but I praise the Lord that the Holy Spirit is moving people to look into God’s Word for themselves.

Fallible or Infallible?

Caller #2: Hi Father. I’m very concerned about this current “Amoris Laetitia” controversy. The church has always taught that divorced Catholics who remarried without an annulment could not receive the Blessed Sacrament because they were living in an ongoing adulterous relationship, but pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” apostolic exhortation seems to enable bishops and priests to decide whether they should allow communion to remarrieds on an individual basis. So, is it a mortal sin to remarry after a divorce as the church has always taught previously or isn’t it?

Priest: Thanks for your question. Yes, there appears to be some ambiguity around “Amoris Laetitia.” Different bishops are interpreting it differently. Some say communion is still prohibited to remarried Catholics while others say communion may be allowed on a case-by-case evaluation. No doubt the debate will continue for some time. The bottom line for Catholics regarding “Amoris” is the document encourages pastors and remarried Catholics to come together and to use the occasion as a teaching moment so that the church may minister to the individual/s and guide them in living their life in accordance with God’s will. I hope that answers your question.

Caller #2: ?????

Commentary: Catholic apologists claim the teaching of the church is symbolized by a stool with the three legs comprised of Scripture, tradition, and the magisterium (the pope and bishops in their teaching office) and that each is equally inspired. They state only the magisterium is capable of correctly interpreting Scripture through the leading of the Holy Spirit. So how can pope Francis issue an ambiguous apostolic exhortation that seems to abrogate previous infallible papal teaching on the prohibition of communion for remarrieds?

Let’s be candid. Francis was faced with a growing number of divorced and remarried Catholics who were disaffected by the church’s policy of denial of communion and were dropping away. It’s a staggering problem for the church. The ambiguously worded “Amoris Laetitia” declaration opens the door to allowing communion to remarrieds without officially reversing dogma that was always considered infallible and irreversible. Traditional Catholics are deeply troubled by this vague pronouncement (buried in a footnote) which invalidates infallible dogmatic teaching. Catholics have always claimed their church is led by a pope who is infallible in matters of faith and morals. But what are they to do when their current infallible pope in effect reverses the teaching of previous infallible popes? Catholic radio talk show priests have a tough time explaining this one to concerned callers.

The boys down at Catholic Answers would never admit to it but what we have here is a pope bowing to pragmatism over fidelity to infallible doctrine.

Nail-biters doomed to hell?

It may seem a little quirky for a guy who writes a blog titled, “excatholic4christ,” tonb regularly listen to Catholic talk radio but that’s what I do. It’s part of my daily routine. I listen to podcasts of a daily talk show called “Calling All Catholics,” which is broadcast out of nearby Buffalo, New York on WLOF 101.7 FM and features Catholic priests responding to questions from listeners. It’s sadly entertaining to me. The priests give out information that is mostly unscriptural but it keeps me on my toes and periodically gives me fodder for this blog.

My favorite priest to listen to by a large margin is Rick Poblocki who appears on the show Tuesdays and Thursdays. Rick is an old-fashioned, blustering priest who sticks to the rule book and makes the proverbial bull in a china shop look like a graceful ballerina.

A couple of weeks ago Rick took a call from a mother who was very concerned about her daughter receiving communion. Just to give you a little background, when I was a young Catholic we were taught that we had to fast from all food and drink, with the exception of water, beginning at midnight prior to receiving communion on Sunday morning. For Catholics who went to 11 a.m. or 12 noon mass on Sunday, that was a long stretch and more than a few people became weak-kneed or even fainted during mass. Catholics are taught that the priest changes the bread wafers into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and they didn’t want people eating the Jesus wafer and making him swim in a pool of masticated bacon, eggs, toast, and orange juice in their stomachs. We were taught that it was a “mortal” sin to eat anything after midnight before receiving communion.

On November 21, 1964, pope Paul VI changed the fast period from midnight to only one hour before receiving communion. But what about all the people who went to hell prior to 1964 because they had violated the midnight fast? Did they all receive a “Get Out of Hell Free” card from the pope? Yes, I’m being slightly facetious but, seriously, how does one explain the far-reaching consequences of such a change? How could one infallible pope abrogate the binding law of previous infallible popes in a matter of eternal significance?

On several of his shows, I’ve heard father Rick talk about the 60-minute fast prior to receiving communion. According to Rick’s brand of strident Catholicism, 60 minutes means exactly 60 minutes. Unscrupulous Catholics who try to cut corners and eat something 50 or 55 minutes before receiving communion commit “mortal” sin and are doomed to hell unless they confess their sin to a priest. Stopwatch anyone? What about 59 minutes? Can 59 minutes be rounded up, Rick?

Okay, now let’s return back to the anxious mother who called the show. The poor woman was distressed because her daughter was a nail-biter and she was worried the nail fragments her daughter swallowed less than one hour prior to receiving communion were a violation of the 60-minute fast resulting in “mortal” sin. Rick assured the woman that finger nail fragments were not digestible and were not classified as food so her daughter was okay. As another example of this ritualistic legalism, there are Catholics who think chewing gum before receiving communion is allowable since you don’t actually swallow it. Not so fast! The church specifies that, “Chewing gum as such would not break the fast but swallowing the juices and flavors released by the chewing process would do so.” Got that?

I am so grateful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for freeing me from the chains of Catholic legalism and saving me. Repent of your sins and accept Christ as your Savior by faith. The religious treadmill does not save.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Catholic priest gives out wrong information about fictitious “Limbo”

Yesterday morning, I was listening to the 4/25/14 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics”bup talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring Jesuit priest, Marty Moleski, and moderator, Gina Zanicky-Weiss. A listener, Ken, called in with a question for Moleski  regarding the film, “Heaven is for Real*.” According to Ken, the movie implied that infants who were miscarried or aborted ended up in Heaven. But Ken was troubled by that message because he remembered being taught as a young Catholic in parochial school that unbaptized infants and young children who died didn’t go to Heaven but were consigned to a place called “Limbo” and he asked Moleski for clarification.

Moleski replied that Catholic theologians of years past proposed the existence of Limbo as a place for unbaptized young children. He wrongly stated that Limbo was thought to be a compartment of Heaven, adding the caveat that those who were consigned to Limbo were not able to “participate fully in the beatific vision.” Moleski went on to say the Catholic church never endorsed the theory of Limbo as official dogma. The current Catholic catechism states that the church hopes unbaptized young children go to Heaven when they die.

However, Moleski’s assertion that Catholic theologians taught that Limbo is a part of Heaven is certainly NOT true. Most Catholic theologians taught that Limbo was either a part of Hell, on the edge of Hell (limbus means “hem” or “border”), or between Hell and Heaven, but definitely NOT a part of Heaven. See here. Baptism is such an important part of Catholic salvation theology that it was inconceivable to Catholic theologians that any soul could achieve Heaven without it (with the exception of martyrs).

Also, while Catholicism may have never “officially” endorsed the notion of Limbo for unbaptized infants, the teaching was widespread throughout Catholicism and appears in my copy of the Baltimore Catechism with the imprimatur of Cardinal Spellman (“Limbo: The place where unbaptized infants go.” – from The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, No. 2, 1991 edition, p. 248 with the imprimatur of Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York).

The concept of Limbo was taught century after century by the church and was promoted by such notables as saint Thomas Aquinas. If the teaching was incorrect, as the church now admits, why didn’t one of the many “infallible” popes step in and correct the error? And if the church now hopes all unbaptized infants go directly to Heaven if they die, why are workers at Catholic hospitals still instructed to baptize infants who are in danger of dying?

Evangelicals believe from God’s Word that young children and others who are incapable of accepting Christ go to Heaven when they die.

“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:13-14


Do babies and others incapable of professing faith in Christ automatically go to heaven?
http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA101/do-babies-and-others-incapable-of-professing-faith-in-christ-automatically-go-to-heaven

*Endnote: I have never seen “Heaven is for Real” and I don’t endorse it.