Catholic church twists itself into a pretzel trying to deal with Francis’ “reforms”

Last week, I posted a message about the local Catholic talk radio station I listen to for information purposes that did an abrupt about-face in regard to their new show, “The Catholic Current” (see far below). The show was highly critical of pope Francis and his progressive allies, but after only twenty-four broadcasts it was pulled, put on hiatus for a month, and brought back completely revamped with absolutely no explanation.

Conservative Catholic clergy and laity are struggling mightily with how to approach pope Francis’ recent lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in his “Amoris Laetitia” encyclical. This recent flip-flop by the Catholic radio station is just one example of the great distress caused by Francis’ dogma-defying pragmatism. I pray many Catholics will begin to question the fallible foundations of their church and turn to Jesus Christ by faith alone in light of this controversy.

Today, I sent the email below to the individual on the radio station’s staff who moderates “The Catholic Current,” asking for honesty and transparency.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” – Proverbs 10:9

To: Jim Havens
Vice President, Mission & Communication
The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, New York
c.c. WLOF Ownership and Staff

Dear Mr. Havens, I was a regular listener for several years of the former “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show broadcast on WLOF. As you know, on January 3rd the name of the show was changed to “The Catholic Current” and a new format was introduced that primarily addressed the errors and confusion creeping into the church from progressives, including pope Francis. Previous priest hosts were jettisoned and traditionalist priests were brought aboard including David Nix, Ronan Murphy, and Shannon Collins. For twenty-four broadcasts, from January 3rd until February 6th, the traditionalist priests strongly criticized the church progressives, including the pope, in connection with a variety of topics. But suddenly it all stopped. Without any explanation, “The Catholic Current” was temporarily replaced by broadcasts of Al Kresta’s national Catholic talk show. WLOF’s website stated “The Catholic Current” was “on hiatus.”

The show began broadcasting again on March 12th, but notably missing were Nix, Murphy, Collins, and also, Robert McTeigue, and any open criticisms of the pope and other liberal members of the hierarchy. The current subject material is quite non-controversial in contrast. Not one word of explanation was given on the March 12th broadcast regarding the hiatus, the dramatic change in subject material, or the dismissal of the four priest hosts. Not only that, but all of the previous twenty-four shows were deleted from the podcast archive as if they had never happened.

In the introduction to each of the twenty-four broadcasts, you stated that open discussions of controversial topics affecting the church were necessary and healthy, but the station’s recent actions would seem to completely contradict that statement. Can you please address on the show what happened at WLOF regarding the dramatic changes to “The Catholic Current”? I’m sure many of the other listeners noted the recent, unexplained changes and came to the conclusion that it’s just one more example of the “business as usual” stifling of honest opinion within the Catholic Church. I believe you owe your listeners and supporters a transparent explanation of what happened rather than this silence and acting as if the twenty-four broadcasts had never happened.

Thank you.


via Catholic stuff on cable, network television, and radio


Catholic stuff on cable, network television, and radio

There have been a few noteworthy (and un-noteworthy), Catholic-themed programs in the media lately that I’d like to deal with all in one fell swoop:

Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History on CNN
Episode 1: The Rise of the Pope

This CNN series debuted this past Sunday night and I caught the first episode, “The Rise of the Pope,” via on-demand. This docudrama plays fast and loose with historical accuracy. There are no credible sources proving that the apostle Peter was the first bishop of Rome, although this episode presents Catholicism’s claims as fact. Roman Emperor Constantine’s sponsorship of the church is discussed, but as I’ve questioned before (see here), where was the bishop of Rome when Constantine was calling ALL the shots regarding the church? The presentation of the increasing institutionalization of the early church, patterned after the Roman imperial model, is well done. This episode ends with an examination of Roman Catholicism’s schism with Eastern Orthodoxy in 1054 and the genesis of the Crusades to recover the “Holy Land” from the Muslims as well as to suppress Jews and heretics.

While this first episode propagates the Catholic church’s un-Biblical and historically unsupported claims about the primacy of Peter, it does a pretty good job of showing how the leadership of the early Catholic church was increasingly motivated by the lust for temporal political power and wealth. I’m disappointed that no evangelical scholars were asked to participate as commentators. Future episodes are listed as follows:

  • 3/18 – The Resignation of Benedict XVI.
  • 3/25 – The Price of Progress.
  • 4/1 – A Church Divided. (This is definitely an episode I don’t want to miss – Tom)
  • 4/8 – The Wartime Popes.
  • 4/15 – Courage, Change, & the Modern Papacy.

Living Biblically, CBS, Monday Nights
Episode Three: Love Thy Neighbor

After watching the first two installments of this regrettable new CBS comedy series, I finally got around to seeing episode number three via on-demand. The main character, Chip, a Roman Catholic, continues as a self-described “good person trying to be better” by following Biblical law. In this episode, he’s tormented by his inconsiderate upstairs apartment neighbors who blast their stereo late into the night while engaging in noisy sex. Sorry, folks, but that’s the premise. Chip consults with his “god squad,” a priest and a rabbi, and ends up being on better terms with his annoying co-worker, Cheryl, as well as kindly convincing his upstairs neighbors to show some consideration for their fellow tenants. Not a lot of substance here, and nothing about the need for salvation by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone. The best way to love our unsaved neighbors is to share the Gospel with them, but in Chip’s world, it’s all about being a “good” person.

The Catholic Current
The Station of the Cross, WLOF (Our Lady of Fatima), 101.7 FM, Buffalo, New York

For almost four years, I listened to daily podcasts of a Catholic talk radio show,  “Calling All Catholics,” broadcast out of Buffalo, New York. It was a pretty standard format with Catholic listeners calling in to ask the priest hosts questions about the Catholic religion. The reason I listened was to stay abreast of what was going on within the Catholic church and to use some of the information as fodder for this blog.

But beginning on January 3rd, the show changed dramatically. The name was changed to “The Catholic Current” with a new format addressing the errors and confusion creeping into the church from the likes of pope Francis and his progressive allies. Previous priest hosts were jettisoned and traditionalist priests were brought aboard including David Nix, Ronan Murphy, Shannon Collins, and Robert McTeigue. For twenty-four broadcasts, from January 3rd until February 6th, the traditionalist priests strongly criticized the pope and church progressives in regards to a variety of topics. It was quite amazing to behold! But suddenly it all stopped. Without any explanation, “The Catholic Current” was temporarily replaced by broadcasts of Al Kresta’s national Catholic talk show. WLOF’s website said “The Catholic Current” was “on hiatus.” The show began broadcasting again on March 12th, but notably missing were Nix, Murphy, Collins, and McTeigue and any open criticisms of the pope. All of the previous shows had been deleted from the podcast archive. The replacement priests are currently discussing the hum-drum basics of Catholic doctrine.

So, what happened? Not one word of explanation was given on the March 12th broadcast regarding the hiatus, the dramatic change in subject material, or the dismissal of the four priest hosts. My guess? Someone had called the Buffalo diocesan office and complained that WLOF was openly encouraging opposition to pope Francis. A diocesan representative then presumably contacted the offices of WLOF and “strongly encouraged” the station to cease and desist immediately.

The above is sheer speculation on my part, but I believe it’s a very good guess. It’s absolutely amazing to watch Catholicism attempt to grapple with pope Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in the “Amoris Laetitia” encyclical and his other “reforms.” You couldn’t find any better theater on Broadway, but following this three-ring circus are hundreds of millions of loyal Catholics who are attempting to earn their salvation according to their church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit.

The idolatry of “Thomism” among some evangelical intellectuals

I like to tell people I’m a Theology 101 kind of guy. Praise the Lord that His Good News! is so simple even a child can understand it. But I appreciate the work that godly theologians have done over the years and I have picked up a few things here and there.

One thing that bothers me, though, is how some evangelical theologians are enamored with Roman Catholic medieval theologian, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Those who specialize in studying Aquinas proudly dub themselves as “Thomists.” Three very influential evangelical theologians who embraced Thomism are Norman Geisler, and the late John Gerstner and R.C. Sproul.

R.C. Sproul passed into Heaven only a couple of months. I really appreciated R.C.’s ministry and his fidelity to the Gospel of grace. Every once in a while, I’ll listen to the daily broadcast from R.C.’s Ligonier Ministry, “Renewing Your Mind,” and this morning the topic was “Why Didn’t Jesus Know?” (see link below) in which R.C. explained why Jesus didn’t know the time of the Second Coming as it’s written in Matthew 24:36. R.C. explained that Thomas Aquinas had a wrong understanding of the verse, but emphatically qualified that statement with the following:

“I respect Saint Thomas Aquinas as much or more than any other theologian that’s ever lived. I think Saint Thomas was astonishing in his brilliance and in his consistent understanding of the things of God.”

[Pausing wearily]

As I said, I’m certainly not a theologian, but I do know several things about Thomas Aquinas. The Catholic church considers him their preeminent theologian. He promoted and defended the teachings of baptismal regeneration and sacramental grace, auricular confession of sins to a priest, purgatory and indulgences, the invocation and intercession of the saints in Heaven, and papal primacy. Borrowing heavily from Aristotelian philosophy, Aquinas defined, among other things, the spiritually deadly false dogma of eucharistic transubstantiation.

Thomas Aquinas was certainly no friend of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone. Many of the other doctrines he promoted, defended, and defined were un-Biblical and even anti-Biblical. What is it exactly that attracts these evangelical theologians to Aquinas?

I love R.C. Sproul and I’m grateful for his ministry in my life. I am not trying to besmirch the reputation of a departed brother who was faithful to the Gospel in many other ways, but I am very disappointed by R.C.’s unqualified great praise of Thomas Aquinas in today’s taped radio message and elsewhere. R.C. wasn’t perfect. This infatuation with Thomas Aquinas and Thomism among some evangelicals is a spiritual blind spot that I believe is rooted in intellectual pride.

In all things, we must always follow the Lord, Jesus Christ and His Word, rather than men. If Christian teachers, even otherwise solid Christian teachers, depart from the truth, we must follow the Lord.

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” – Psalm 118:8

“Why Didn’t Jesus Know?”

What’s stopping me from becoming Catholic? Do you have an hour?

I listen to Catholic talk radio every day, which some may think very strange given the nature of this blog, but I do like to keep up with the latest news and views regarding Roman Catholicism.

One Catholic talk show that I occasionally catch is “Called to Communion” on the EWTN radio network, hosted by apologist, David Anders. The main purpose of the show is to try to persuade Protestants to convert to Catholicism and their slogan is, “What is stopping you from becoming Catholic?,” which is regularly repeated during the advertising slots.

What’s stopping me from becoming Catholic? Actually, I WAS a Catholic from 1956 until 1983 – 27 years. But through the reading of God’s Word, I was able to see the many errors of Catholic doctrine and I left. The Holy Spirit then used Scripture, people, and situations to lead me to Jesus Christ. I repented of my sins and accepted Christ as my Savior by faith alone in 1983. Praise the Lord for freeing me from the chains of Roman legalism and ritualism!

What’s stopping me from returning to the chains of Roman Catholicsm? Argh! What a question! It’s an impossibility! I would choose death over going back to Roman blindness. Who would willingly leave spiritual life and freedom in Jesus Christ for spiritual death and chains? A genuine believer could never even consider such a choice. Does not compute.

Here’s a list of Catholic doctrines/practices in brief that prevent me and should prevent anyone else from considering Roman Catholicism.

  • The teaching of salvation by sacramental grace and merit rather than Biblical salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
  • No assurance of salvation because it is merit-based.
  • Priests. Priestly sacrifice was done away with by Jesus Christ. There were no priests in the New Testament church.
  • Transubstantiation. Priests claim to change bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.
  • Worshipping consecrated bread wafers.
  • Veneration/worship of relics.
  • The sacrifice of the mass. Sacrifice for sin was finished by Jesus Christ.
  • Purgatory.
  • Indulgences.
  • Confessing sins to a priest.
  • The promotion of extreme forms of self-mortification, including self-inflicted physical pain, as forms of penance and discipline.
  • Venerating/worshiping Mary and the saints.
  • Praying to Mary and the saints.
  • Rampant idolatrous statuary in every Catholic church.
  • Rote prayers.
  • Sacramentals – holy water, candles, rosaries, crucifixes, scapulars, etc. – used as good luck charms.
  • Prohibition of non-abortifacient contraceptives.
  • Papal infallibility (although many conservative Catholics now consider Francis to be a fallible heretic).
  • Church traditions taking precedence over or even contradicting God’s Word.
  • A dizzying labyrinth of 1752 Canon Laws and 2865 numbered paragraphs in Catholicism’s official catechism.
  • The annulment of marriages as if they never took place.
  • The church as an institution rather than the spiritual body of believers. Through most of its history, the Catholic church was focused on wordly wealth and power and the absolute control of its membership, often through intimidation and even violence.
  • The separation and elevation of the clergy over the laity, including the rule of celibacy (which attracts and promotes sexual perversion), and the great pride in their competing religious orders, S.J., O.C.D., O.F.M., O.P., etc., etc..
  • Doctrinal turnaround. Catholics were once condemned to hell for eating meat on non-Lenten Fridays and attending a Protestant church service.
  • The obsession with calendrical solemnities, feasts, and memorials as if God ranks one day over another.
  • The designation of certain sites as holy shrines that allegedly endow visitors with blessings.
  • The ostentatious riches, pomp, and ceremony that permeate Catholicism while Jesus Christ had nowhere to lay His head.
  • In stark contrast to its thick catalogue of exacting laws and rituals that it imposes upon its membership, Rome decrees that non-Catholics of all religions and even atheists may merit Heaven if they ambiguously “follow the light they are given.” That is NOT Christianity!

What’s stopping me from becoming a Catholic? The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word! Praise God Almighty for leading me out of Catholic prison to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

Postscript: I have attended several “services” at Catholic churches over the last 34 years – weddings and funerals of family and friends – and my soul was so grieved by the anti-Biblical lies. David Anders tries to persuade Protestants to join Catholicism, while his church is leaking members like a sieve according to its own statistics. Only 20 percent of Catholics attend obligatory mass every Sunday!

“You musn’t take THAT Bible passage literally!”

This morning, I was listening to the 10/29/13 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show, broadcast by The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), featuring priest-host, Rick Poblocki, and moderator, Mike Denz.

About half-way through the show, Trish from Buffalo called in with a concern about her 14-year-old son. The boy’s religion class had been studying a passage from the Old Testament in which God had commanded the Israelites to kill all the inhabitants, including children, of the pagan Canaanite nations they were invading. The boy was upset by the passage and asked his mother, “How could a God who is all-loving, all-merciful, and all-forgiving wipe out a whole nation,” especially the children? The mother didn’t know how to answer, so she called Rick for advice.

Priest Rick explained that when ancient peoples fought over land, they invoked the help of their deities, just as Israel invoked Yaweh. He said the Israelites attributed to God the command to attack the Canaanites and credited Him for all their victories, but that God DIDN’T ACTUALLY command the attacks. Rick went on to say that the Israelites were looking for a way to justify their aggression, so they attributed it all to the will of God. In closing, Rick stated, “So they put then on the lips of God these commands to destroy even to the point of (murdering children),” because they had mistakenly understood that to be God’s will. Trish thanked Rick for his “wise” counsel.

Believers, see anything wrong with priest Rick’s Old Testament exegesis? Yes, God DID command the Israelites through his prophet, Moses, to wipe out the pagan peoples of Canaan. Yes, even children. God is sovereign. He brings new life into the world and takes life away. 150,000 people die each day in this world; men, women, and children. It’s not pretty but that’s the reality in this fallen world. The pots cannot tell the Potter how to manage the pots. God commanded the Israelites to destroy all the Canaanites because He didn’t want them to be ensnared by pagan idolatry. As we know, the Israelites disobeyed the Lord, spared many of the pagans, and did embrace pagan idolatry. But despite the continual disobedience of Israel and its ongoing dalliance with paganism, the Lord’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ prevailed. Praise God!

Like most Roman Catholic clerics, priest Poblocki has a very low view of Scripture. He stands on the traditions of his church, not on God’s Word. If his church’s man-made traditions and philosophies disagree with Scripture, a priest will choose his church over Scripture every time. Speaking of idolatry, just step inside a Catholic church. And speaking of murder, comparatively “enlightened” Roman Catholic prelates persecuted those outside the church right up into the 20th century. There were the crusades, the inquisitions, pogroms, forced baptisms, and murderous Catholic falangists. How does Rick explain all that to the 14-year-old?

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? – Isaiah 45:9

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35

I had been reading Deuteronomy 20 as part of my daily Scripture reading just yesterday, where God commands the Israelites to exterminate all the Canaanites. Coincidence? Hardly!

Why did God command the extermination / genocide of the Canaanites, women and children included?

Postscript: Old Testament passages that deal with Israel’s fidelity to Yaweh are not dry, useless historical information, but are inspiration for Christians to also remain faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to His Gospel. But as we look around evangelicalism today, we sadly see plenty of accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal when it comes to false teachers and false gospels.

Those angry separated brethren!!!

Yesterday I was listening to the 5/25/17 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), featuring moderator, Steve Quebral, and priest-host, father Kevin Barrett. Toward the end of the show a question came up regarding a case of drive-by evangelism.

Steve Quebral: Let’s go next now to a question we got from Brad, and Brad writes to us, “Recently at our parish someone left anti-Catholic flyers on everyone’s cars during mass and even left some in our pamphlet rack in the vestibule of the church. What would be the best way to handle it if you could catch them in the act.”

Priest Barrett responded by decrying the divisions within (c)hristianity, reaffirming that the Catholic church is the one true church established by Jesus. He attributed the efforts of those who reach out to Catholics with the Gospel to the “devil and fallen spirits who are trying to confuse us and divide us.” He stated that (c)hristians should be reaching out to each other and building bridges instead of fomenting division. Barrett argued that hostility towards the Catholic church is not of God. He observed that, “Catholics aren’t constantly agitated towards our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters and yet…so often the separated Christian brethren are constantly agitated with Catholics.” In closing, Barrett recommended Protestants and Catholics put their efforts into praying for each other, looking for ways to work for (c)hristian unity, trying to build bridges, trying to maintain a respectful dialogue, and “celebrating what we share in common and bring that goodness to the world.”

The only problem with Barrett’s approach is Catholicism teaches a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit in contrast to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Rather than shake hands with apostasy, it’s every Christian’s duty to expose it. What did the Old Testament prophets say about false religion? Did they coddle it? Did they cooperate with it? What about John the Baptist? Or the Lord, Jesus Christ? What did He say about false teachers? Or the apostle, Paul? Christians today are so saturated with this pluralistic, tolerant culture that the only thing they won’t tolerate is somebody who points out that Rome does not preach the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” – Matthew 10:34-36

I wholeheartedly agree with Barrett that Catholics generally aren’t agitated with the “separated brethren” but why would they be when their church teaches all non-Catholic religionists and even atheists will merit Heaven just as long as they are “good”? Since everyone in the world is hopefully “following the light they’ve been given,” there’s really nothing in the Catholic faith to be passionate about, which is why 80% of American Catholics don’t attend obligatory mass every Sunday.

I don’t endorse the people mentioned far above who left flyers on the car windshields. I don’t know who they were or what information was distributed. Hopefully, those folks were Christians. It’s arguable how effective drive-by evangelism is but if we put God’s word out there, Scripture says it won’t come back void.

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

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


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).


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?

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