The Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation aka Confession

The Roman Catholic sacrament of reconciliation (confession of sins to a priest) is an evil and perverse doctrine. A recent Catholic radio broadcast prompted me to examine this false teaching once again.


The Roman Catholic church teaches that it administers seven sacraments by which its members allegedly receive graces in order to live a life that’s possibly worthy of meriting Heaven at the moment of death. Catholicism’s initial sacrament is baptism and most Catholics are baptized as infants. The Roman church teaches that the baptismal waters poured over the head of an infant in conjunction with the formulaic baptismal prayer actually wash away original sin. When a baptized child reaches the age of accountability, deemed to be seven or eight years old and in second grade, they are introduced to the sacraments of reconciliation (formerly known as “confession” or “penance”) and the eucharist.

Catholics are taught that they must confess all serious (aka “mortal”) sins to a priest. Catholics are taught that if they have only one unconfessed mortal sin “staining” their soul when they die, they will be eternally damned in hell. Catholicism is like a constantly revolving door. One day, a Catholic is in a “state of grace” and supposedly ready to merit heaven, but the next day, after they commit a mortal sin and are no longer in a state of grace, they must be absolved by a priest, and round and round and round. If Catholics were honest with themselves, they would have to admit that they sin every day by thought, word, deed, or by omission. Unlike Catholicism, the Bible says all people are sinners and that no one can possibly merit salvation by attempting to obey the Law.

This sacrament of reconciliation presents all kinds of practical difficulties for the credulous Catholic church member such as the following:

  • Catholics are understandably reluctant to confess their personal and embarrassing sins to another sinful human being. The Roman church requires its members to go to confession at least once per year under threat of mortal sin, yet most Catholics are understandably intimidated by the reconciliation process and church statistics reveal that only 12% of the membership participate in the sacrament at least yearly as required.
  • Catholics must know the difference between a mortal sin and a venial (lesser) sin. Venial sins do not need to be confessed to a priest, but can be allegedly expiated by attending mass, fasting, prayers, and almsgiving.
  • Catholics must remember their mortal sins between trips to confession. Who can remember sins from day to day let alone once every fifty-two weeks? When he was a Catholic friar, Martin Luther went to confession every day because he was so cognizant of his sinfulness.
  • As we’ll discuss farther below, Catholics must also gingerly navigate the individual “confessors” (i.e., priests who hear confessions) with their different personalities, temperaments, and varying degrees of commitment to Roman orthodoxy, not to mention their particular mood and state of mind at the moment.

Last week, I was listening to the Catholic talk radio show, “Called to Communion,” the stated mission of which is to convince Protestants to convert to Catholicism. In this particular episode, a “lapsed” Catholic, Kevin, called in with some very valid concerns about the reconciliation process.

Called to Communion
July 10, 2019 podcast
Moderator: Thom Price, Host, David Anders
26:26 mark

Thom Price: Let’s go to Kevin now in Stamford, Connecticut, checking us out today on YouTube, a first time caller. Hey Kevin what’s on your mind today?

Kevin: Mr. Price, thank you so much. It’s a pleasure. I love your program. Dr. Anders, I love you, too. And my question, doctor, is this: I am trying to become a revert Catholic. Sadly, I’ve been away from the church for awhile. Now, I know the first step I have to take, obviously, is the sacrament of confession. And as I was telling (the call screener), even my wife, who’s a convert for the last thirteen years, we found out that there seems to be, Dr. Anders, inconsistency in the sacrament in the way it’s administered. It seems like we’re at the mercy of the personality of the confessor. Now, holy clergy, they perform all the other sacraments in the same manner; baptisms, mass, homilies can be a little different, that’s understandable, you know, things of that nature. But when it comes to confession, Dr. Anders, there’s three fast examples. Me, personally, I’ve had some where I left the confessional walking on air. I mean, I felt like a million dollars. My confessor was so nice and loving. I’ve had others that were average. And I’ve had others that were nightmares. I was telling your screener, I had one priest one time stop me in the middle of my confession and say to me, “Sir, I don’t feel like giving you absolution.” And, Dr. Anders, at the age of sixty-two, I was stunned, I was like, I never had this happen in all my life. So I said, “Father, can I continue my confession?” And he said, “Yeah.” So I did and then he…, that was it. I had another priest use a four-letter word…

After that last statement, moderator Thom Price nervously jumped in and interrupted the caller. The stated purpose of the Called to Communion radio show is to attempt to attract non-Catholics to the Roman church, therefore Kevin was not allowed to continue with his negative and unflattering comments. Anders immediately retorted that he had never had a bad experience with a confessor, himself, and inferred that the onus was on Kevin and other penitents to relate their mortal sins succinctly (“…the kind and number…that’s it.” ) along with a few words of contrition so as not to test the patience of a possibly temperamental priest.

Confessing sins to a priest has no direct foundation in Scripture. Catholics point to such passages as John 20:23 as their proof-text for priestly absolution:

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

But we see in the context of the entirety of God’s Word that forgiveness of sins is in conjunction with the preaching of the Gospel of grace and the hearer’s acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone:

“To him (Jesus) all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” – Acts 10:43

The practice of “auricular” (i.e., relating to the ear or hearing) confession to a priest began to make inroads in the late sixth century, but didn’t become a dogma and obligatory practice in the Roman Catholic church until the Council of Lateran in the year 1215. It’s very obvious why this doctrine came into being. It elevated the priest to the status of an absolutely essential mediator in the Catholic salvation system.

There is so much evil inherent in the doctrine of confessing sins to a weak, sinful, human mediator. God alone forgives sin. We know from documented cases of clerical sexual abuse that many predatory priests used the confessional to lure in their victims. The number of trusting souls who were abused by priests via the confessional over the centuries is unfathomable.

Forsake the man-made traditions of Roman Catholicism and believe the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. My friend, repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

See the article below for more information on the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation:

What does the Bible say about confession of sin to a priest?

A Few Catholic Conundrums – Part 1: The Case of the Abused Altar Linens

I listen to Catholic talk radio daily to collect fodder for this blog. Most of the chatter either isn’t very noteworthy or involves topics I’ve already addressed, but two consecutive shows from last month brought up topics that fit right into my “Catholic legalistic rabbit hole” category.

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio
Moderator: Thom Price, Host: David Anders
Podcast 4/23/19 – 24:58 mark

This first episode I’ll call “The Case of the Abused Altar Linens.” Let’s begin by noting that Catholicism teaches that at its masses, priests transform bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. Mass-goers then consume the Jesus wafer (and Jesus wine by some), believing it imparts graces that help them to avoid temptation and sin. Because the Roman church teaches the bread wafers are actually changed into Jesus, they are worshiped by the congregants. Mass-goers bow to the wafer, bend their knee to the wafer, and pray to the wafer god. The Jesus wafer and Jesus wine must be handled with worshipful reverence. As a part of the mass’s liturgical ritual, the priest handles a large Jesus wafer and Jesus wine and there’s always a chance that small Jesus crumbs or Jesus droplets will land on the linens covering the altar. Therefore, when the altar linens are periodically washed, they must be handled with the utmost reverence. Let’s pick it up when an indignant Catholic listener calls in to the show complaining that reverential protocols aren’t being followed with regard to the altar linens at her parish:

Thom Price: Let’s go to Kitty, now, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, listening on St. Michael Catholic Radio. Hello, Kitty. What’s on your mind today?

Kitty: Oh, yes. I would like to know your thoughts about this. I’m very concerned about the presence of our lord in the precious blood that’s on the purificators and altar linens. At the church where I’m going the altar linens are just left in a basket on the counter and, shouldn’t they be in some sort of a container that has a lid with a light next to it to indicate that our lord is present? They don’t leave consecrated hosts just lying in an open basket!

The show’s host, Catholic apologist David Anders, then responds to Kitty’s inquiry, saying that he is aware that “there are liturgical laws that govern these things,” but it’s “not (his) particular area of expertise.” Anders defers to moderator, Thom Price, but Price pleads ignorance as well and suggests to Kitty that she should make inquiries to a particular priest radio host.

The Catholic teaching that its priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus leads to all kinds of legalistic rabbit holes involving such things as falling Jesus crumbs and spilt Jesus droplets and Jesus wine stains. Catholicism breaks my heart. Hundreds of millions of Catholic souls, like Kitty, get indignantly and scrupulously wrapped around the axle over the proper handling of altar cloths, but never hear the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Kitty mentioned “purificators” and altar linens that could possibly have Jesus particles and Jesus stains imbedded in them, but several other cloth items are also used by the priest during the eucharistic liturgical ritual including the “corporal,” “lavabo towels,” and the “pall” (see photo right)

To see the correct Catholic rubrics for the handling and cleaning of these “sacred” cloths, refer to the article below. Wow! The Catholic mass has more protocols than a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier! Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Friends, we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to all the rubrics involved in the Catholic mass. Whoops, I see we’ve already hit the 625-word mark so we’ll have to visit the second Catholic rabbit hole tomorrow. Remember, it’s the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that’s important, NOT copious and complicated religious rituals and ceremonies that are alleged to help people merit their salvation.

The Proper Care and Cleansing of Altar Linens & Sacred Vessels in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend – Adapted from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship

Baptize Dead Babies? Yes or No? Another Catholic Rabbit Hole

Catholicism’s teaching on baptism is an irreconcilable dichotomy. On the one hand, the Catholic church insists that people MUST be baptized for them to even be considered for salvation. On the other hand, it has made concessions to religious liberalism and now grants that non-baptized members of other religions and even atheists may also merit salvation if they “follow the light they are given” and are “good.” It’s quite strange that the Catholic church takes a very liberal attitude towards non-members regarding baptism, but still gets tightly wound around the legalistic axle when it comes to its membership.

For centuries, the Catholic church taught that infants who had died before they were baptized were consigned to a halfway house between Heaven and Hell called Limbo. In the last twenty years, the RCC has moved away from its Limbo teaching and now states that it “hopes” unbaptized babies will be allowed into Heaven. But baptizing babies from Catholic families is still a VERY important priority in the Catholic religion in stark contrast to the church’s liberal attitude with regards to non-Catholics and baptism.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast of the “Calling all Catholics” radio talk show and heard an example of how Catholicism still gets wrapped tightly around the axle over baptism technicalities.

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio – 4/1/19
Host – David Anders (photo above), Moderator – Thom Price

Beginning at the 16:07 mark, Anna from Omaha, Nebraska called in to say her aunt had stopped practicing her Catholic “faith” because the woman’s baby was born stillborn and her parish priest refused to baptize the baby because it was dead. Anna wanted to know from host and apologist, David Anders, if miscarried or stillborn babies can still be baptized. Let’s see how Anders responded:

David Anders: The church does baptize stillborn babies, and in the same way that the church would give last rites, anointings, and so forth, and absolution, to a person who had died biologically at the end of their life. Now, there’s a point beyond which you won’t do that. I mean you’re not going to baptize a corpse that’s three weeks old. You’re not going to anoint a corpse that’s in the grave three weeks. But when the priest is headed to the hospital to perform either an emergency baptism or last rites, and the nurse runs out and says, “Don’t worry about it, father, the person just passed.” The priest says, “Uh, sorry, excuse me, I’m coming in anyway,” because we don’t know the moment of metaphysical death. We know the moment of biological death. We can put that in a text book. But we don’t know when metaphysical death occurs. I’m not a priest. I don’t have a copy of the ritual in front of me and I don’t actually know what the (Canon) law says about how long can you legitimately wait, but we have a preference for performing the sacrament, and yes, you can baptize either a baby or an adult person who has expired because we don’t know for sure. You can’t wait a week, but, yeah, if you’re five minutes late, sure, yes you can, and the church has always done that.

Anders states above that a baby can be baptized after he/she has died. He specifies five minutes as an allowable lapse between death and baptism, but then cites three weeks and then a week as obviously unallowably long lapses. Well, what then is the absolute legal limit for baptism after biological death? Is it ten minutes? Fifteen minutes? Thirty minutes? I searched the Catholic Code of Canon Law on Baptism (Cann. 849-878) and there are no allowances made for baptizing babies that have already died. The closest related Canon is Canon 871: “If aborted fetuses are alive, they are to be baptized insofar as possible.”

In an article in the Journal of the Catholic Health Association, chaplains at Catholic hospitals are advised NOT to baptize dead infants, with no lingering time allowances specified. In fact, the article argues very strongly against baptizing deceased babies. See here.

Once again we have an example of Catholicism creating a legalistic rabbit hole where there is no authoritative answer for this, that, and the other exception.

In contrast to convoluted Catholic teaching, we read in the Bible that Jesus Christ invites all young children to abide with Him:

“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14

Baptism saves no one! It is Jesus Christ who saves. Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Praise the Lord God for the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Sitting in a parked car pining for the Jesus wafer?

In Gregg Allison’s excellent book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014), the evangelical theologian examines Roman Catholicism’s two major theological constructs: the nature-grace interconnection which posits the bestowal of grace through nature/the material (e.g., priests, sacraments, sacramentals, shrines, relics, etc.) and the Christ-Church interconnection whereby the Catholic church presents itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ (see my review here).

What this all means in simple terms is that the Catholic church presents itself as the actual means to salvation via its sacraments and subsidiary sacramentals, devotions, and pious practices. The physical/material is extremely important in Catholic belief and practice. The Roman church teaches that baptismal waters actually regenerate the infant, that chrism oil actually seals a supplicant in confirmation, that the consecrated bread wafer actually becomes Jesus, that eating the Jesus wafer actually imparts sanctifying graces, that the words of the priest in the confessional actually absolve sin, etc., etc., etc. The sacraments in conjunction with merit/good works are the foundation of the Catholic salvation system.

In accord with those beliefs, Catholics view their brick and mortar church building as a very holy place. A born-again Christian saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone can pray to the Lord any place at any time, but Catholics, following the strictures of their religion, “feel the closest” to God when they are in their church building surrounded by sensory props including burning candles, incense, stained glass, priests in ornate vestments, the taste of the Jesus wafer when taking communion, the petitions and responses by the priest and congregation as they follow the liturgical script, and the notion of Jesus physically residing in the tabernacle box in the form of surplus consecrated wafers. Many souls are attracted to Catholicism’s appeal to the carnal senses.

As I was listening to the 3/14/2019 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show recently, I heard host, David Anders (photo above) refer to this appeal of sensual religious materialism as he was drawn increasingly to Catholicism prior to his “conversion.” At the 22:53 mark:

David Anders: When I understood the Catholic faith and I understood how the Catholic faith was different from the tradition in which I had been raised, it was that difference that was, for me, a motive to become Catholic. If I had thought there was no difference between the Catholic faith and the Presbyterian church I’d grown up in, I would have had no motive to become Catholic. I could have stayed where I had friends and family and not undergone that loss that was required for me to actually become Catholic. But I did understand that there was an objective difference. There was something present in the Catholic church that was not present in my previous tradition. I remember driving into the parking lot of a local parish, parking my car and just sitting there because I knew that the Blessed Sacrament (i.e., Jesus wafers – Tom) was in the tabernacle in that church and I couldn’t receive Christ in communion yet. And at that point in my life, the closest I could get was getting into my car and sitting in the parking lot. And so I did, and that was kind of an intimation. It was me, hoping and longing for that time when I could receive Christ fully in the sacrament of Holy Communion. And that’s why I became Catholic.

That’s an extremely sad testimony, folks. Receiving Jesus is not consuming a bread wafer. It is repenting of sin and placing one’s trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Sitting in a parked car in a Catholic church’s parking lot and pining for the Jesus wafers locked away in the church’s tabernacle box is severely misguided religious craving. The spiritual and the temporal are not the same and Catholicism has misguided billions of souls by mixing the two.

“19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:19-24

Another strange Catholic paradox

The Roman Catholic church has an enormous catalog full of rites, rituals, ceremonies, observances, and laws. But of all of Romes’ many practices, it says the most important is the celebration of the eucharist as the prime component of the mass.

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), paragraph 1324.

At Catholic mass, it’s claimed the priest changes bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. The priest then offers the Jesus wafer and Jesus wine to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants and others who are mentioned (the pope, the local bishop, suffering souls in purgatory, etc.). The congregants who claim they have no major, unconfessed sin on their soul then line up to receive a small Jesus wafer from the priest. Catholics are taught that the Jesus wafer imparts graces for fifteen minutes as it is being digested. The graces are alleged to help the Catholic avoid sin so as to remain in a “state of grace.” Every Catholic’s goal is to be in this mortal-sinless “state of grace” at the moment of their death in order to merit entry into Heaven.

Got all that? Okay, now we can get to the paradox mentioned in the title.

As I mentioned, Catholics are taught that Jesus Christ physically resides inside of them for fifteen minutes as their stomach acids dissolve the Jesus wafer. Catholics believe those fifteen minutes that Jesus is inside them are profoundly special.

But wait! The Catholic church also teaches that God the Holy Spirit is imparted to every Catholic at the sacrament of confirmation:

“(Confirmation) is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation” – CCC 1316

So, Catholics are taught God the Holy Spirit seals them at their confirmation and indwells them. But if God the Holy Spirit allegedly indwells them every moment of every day of the year, why do they so highly prioritize the fifteen minutes when they are consuming and digesting the Jesus wafer on Sundays???

The stark truth is the tremendous emphasis given to the faux Jesus wafer keeps the Catholic laity dependent upon their priests.

As a Catholic, I also consumed the Jesus wafer at obligatory Sunday mass. However, nothing happened to me and nothing happened to my Catholic family members or classmates. There were no graces imparted. We all continued striving unsuccessfully to merit salvation by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and our church’s rules and by being “good” as we were taught. Well, on second thought, we didn’t really strive all that hard to be “good.”

“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” – Mark 10:18

But no one can really be “good,” which is why Jesus Christ, God the Son, had to die on the cross for our sins. But He beat sin and death when He rose from the grave and offers the free gift of eternal life to all those who repent of their sin and accept Him as their Savior by faith alone. Won’t you accept Him today?

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12

Receiving Jesus doesn’t mean eating a faux Jesus wafer, it means repenting of sin and accepting Him as Savior by faith alone!

Bitter Catholic internecine squabbling: Communion on the tongue vs. in the hand

Catholicism proclaims a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit and weighs down its members with a truck load of rituals, obligations, and requirements. In recent posts, we’ve examined how Catholicism teaches that during every mass its priests transform bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ as a sacrificial offering for sin. Catholics are taught that if they consume the consecrated Jesus wafer, they will receive graces which will make them subjectively more sanctified and help them to resist committing sin in order to hopefully merit salvation at the moment of their death.

Because Catholics believe each consecrated “host” is the literal Jesus, manifold idolatries have abounded regarding the treatment and handling of the Jesus wafer and today I’d like to examine one particular controversy.

Last week, I was driving in my car and I tuned to the conservative Catholic talk radio show, “Catholic Answers.” During the episode, the host and his guest bemoaned the popularity of priests placing the Jesus wafer in the hands of those coming forward for communion. Back when I attended Catholic parochial grammar school, receiving the Jesus wafer from the priest on the tongue was the only acceptable practice. But the vagueries of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) had encouraged some liberal bishops and priests to begin adopting the practice of distributing the Jesus wafer in the hand of the communion supplicants. This caused some controversy and the liberal bishops petitioned pope Paul VI for his formal approval of the new practice, which was granted in 1969 (see here).

Ever since, conservative and traditionalist Catholics have rued the day when supplicants were allowed to receive the Jesus wafer in the hand. They see the practice as a serious profanation and desecration of the Jesus wafer and have been fuming about it ever since. They hope to someday return the church to the practice of receiving communion exclusively on the tongue. Last February, cardinal Robert Sarah, the conservative head of the Vatican department dealing with liturgy, wrote that “the widespread practice of Catholics receiving communion in the hand…is part of Satan’s attack on the Church.” The following month, pope Francis publicly reined in Sarah by reaffirming the practice of receiving the Jesus wafer in the hand.

Catholics get completely wrapped around the axle in these feuds over nitpicky liturgical details, but are blind to the much bigger issue of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Catholic friend, whether you receive communion on the tongue or in the hand doesn’t matter a whit. Jesus is not in the communion wafer. You must repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and come out of error-filled Roman Catholicism.

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” – Philippians 3:8-9

See the helpful video below: Catholic vs Christian | “I am a Catholic. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?”



RE-baptized??? What’s that all about?

Last week, I was listening to the 11/5/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show and at the 5:20 mark, moderator, Tom Price, read a question from Katrina, a listener, who asked, “When a baptized person leaves the Catholic church and then attends a non-denominational or any Protestant church, why are those folks re-baptized?”

The show’s host, David Anders, then made the claim, as he often does, that the Catholic church is much more magnanimous and charitable than Protestants regarding baptism because it recognizes the baptisms of Protestants as “valid” while evangelical Protestant churches do not recognize Catholic baptism as valid and will ask that ex-Catholics be “re-baptized.”

Of course, Catholics and born-again Christians view baptism QUITE differently. Catholics see baptism as a sacrament by which a person is inducted into the church. The vast majority of Catholics are baptized as infants. When a priest says the prescribed trinitarian formula and sprinkles water over the baby’s head, it’s claimed the infant has their original sin wiped away and is spiritually reborn and begins a lifelong process of attempting to merit their salvation through the church’s sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments. Catholics teach that anyone can baptize an infant, even an atheist, and the baptism will be valid just as long as the precise trinitarian formula and water are used.

In contrast, Bible Christians believe that after a person repents of their sin and accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone, they should follow the Lord by being baptized as a public profession of their faith. By being buried (immersed) in the water, we identify with Christ’s death and burial, and by being raised from the water we identify with His resurrection. Baptism is not a sacrament that regenerates anyone, it’s a public testimony of faith in Christ. Infants cannot be baptized since they are unable to comprehend the Gospel. My Catholic infant baptism was absolutely meaningless and worthless. Only after I accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone as an adult was I able to follow Him in believer’s baptism at an evangelical church. Children are also able to be baptized if they are old enough to comprehend the Gospel and genuinely repent of their sin and accept Christ as Savior by faith alone.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” – Acts 2:41

As the above verse points out, trusting in Christ comes first, then baptism. Catholic churches are not being more magnanimous and charitable by recognizing Protestant baptisms as valid. Baptism must follow genuine repentance and acceptance of Christ as Savior by faith alone. Catholic baptism is not Biblically valid, which is why ex-Catholics who accept Christ as Savior by faith alone are baptized validly in evangelical churches.

The evolution of Catholic doctrine has forced Catholicism into a bizarre dichotomy. In centuries past, the church taught that only those who were baptized could merit Heaven. In modern times, the church has allowed that people of other religions could also merit Heaven. Pope Francis has stated that even atheists can be saved if they follow their conscience and are “good.” So while Catholics still insist that baptism is a requirement for salvation, they grant that those who were never baptized through no fault of their own, can also be saved.

As with many other doctrines, Catholicism makes the ritual and ceremony THE THING. It’s not the ritual that saves, it’s repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone that saves.

See the helpful article below for further study:

Believer’s Baptism

Note: The Roman Catholic church does not accept as valid the baptisms of the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Conservative Catholic priest favors return to banishing unbaptized babies to “limbo”

Yesterday morning, I listened to the 1/26/18 podcast of “The Catholic Connection” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF (Our Lady of Fatima) 101.7 FM, Buffalo, New York) with moderator, Jim Havens, and priest-host, Shannon Collins (photo right). The topic of the show was unbaptized infants and the existence of “limbo.”

In Catholic theology, baptism is an absolute requirement in the process of attaining salvation.* Catholicism teaches that the baptismal waters actually wash away original sin by working ex opere operato, i.e., baptism and the other sacraments being efficacious in and of themselves rather than dependent on the attitude of either the priest or the recipient. Catholics are usually baptized as infants, but when they mature, they are expected to follow church teaching by receiving the other sacraments in order to receive graces to assist them in obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) in order to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death.

Catholic teaching throughout the centuries was that unbaptized babies who died were consigned to a place called “limbo,” an outer-region of Hell where there was no suffering, but neither was the soul in communion with God (i.e., the “Bosom of Abraham” of the Old Testament). Although the teaching on unbaptized babies being consigned to limbo was never officially declared as dogma, bishops, theologians, and even popes sanctioned this belief. When I attended Catholic parochial school in the 60s, the priests and nuns taught unbaptized infants were consigned to limbo. The Baltimore Catechism, the recognized authority on doctrine for American Catholics up until the late 1960s, unequivocally taught that all unbaptized babies went to limbo:

“Limbo: The place where unbaptized infants go.” – The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No. 2), 1991 edition, p. 248., – Imprimatur – Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York

During the radio show, conservative priest Collins bemoaned the fact that many in the church have moved away from the traditional teaching on limbo. In the official 1992 catechism, there is no mention of limbo. Instead, the church states that it “hope(s) that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism” (CCC #1261, see here). In 2006, pope Benedict stated limbo did not exist (photo left). These days, sympathetic priests comfort parents of miscarried fetuses by saying that their child is in Heaven, but Collins is critical of such counsel. He does acknowledge, however, that “some” conservative Catholic priests believe that in cases where a fetus or infant died before being baptized, the desire of the parents for that child to have been baptized “may” suffice in the place of actual baptism.

Oy. Is your head starting to spin yet?

What about fetuses who are aborted? Collins says they are definitely going to limbo. Havens and Collins briefly discussed the “holy innocents,” the male infants in the vicinity of Bethlehem who were killed by King Herod in his effort to murder Jesus. They were actually canonized as “saints” by the Catholic church because they were said to have died as innocent martyrs in the place of Christ. Huh? So Collins agrees with traditional church teaching that the “holy innocents” went to Heaven even though they weren’t baptized, but he holds that aborted fetus babies and other unbaptized babies probably do not. Collins also satisfyingly commented that for centuries the church never allowed unbaptized infants to be buried in Catholic consecrated cemeteries. Even these days, grieving parents of deceased unbaptized infants must submit to a dispensation process through their diocese in order to have their child buried in a Catholic cemetery. See here.

I don’t put ANY stock in what priest Collins or the Catholic catechism says on this subject. God’s Word teaches that children reach an age of accountability when they are responsible for their active rebellion against the Lord. That age is going to be different for each child. Prior to that, infants, young children, and the mentally handicapped are covered by God’s grace. Baptism saves no one. I renounced my Catholic infant baptism by being baptized as an adult 35 years ago as a public witness of my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my personal Savior by faith alone. Trust in Christ by faith alone. Baptism, sacraments, rituals, and religious legalism save no one.

“He said, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Samuel 12:22–23

“Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them; and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” – Matthew 19:13-14

*The Catholic church holds to two very conflicting teachings simultaneously. On the one hand, it still insists that everyone must be baptized in order to even start thinking about eventually meriting Heaven. On the other hand it grants that people of all religious beliefs and even atheists can also merit heaven if they “follow the light they have been given” with a “sincere heart.” How does the church reconcile this dichotomy? It says all these “good” non-Catholics would have gotten baptized if they only knew how important it was, so they’re also covered under the “baptism of desire.” Hmm. Anyone else hearing, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” What we really have here is a case of old Catholic tradition (“all must be baptized to be saved”) conflicting with “new school” wide-is-the-way Catholic ecumenism. So unbaptized atheists can merit Heaven but unbaptized babies are barred? I’m confused. Well, not really. It’s just another Catholic rabbit hole.

“Gregorian masses” – just more religious calculus

In the interest of thoroughness I’d like to elaborate a bit on a previous post in which I referred to “Gregorian masses” (see here). I usually try to pursue the rationale behind Catholic rituals and ceremonies beyond the superficial to their self-refuting conclusions but for some reason I failed to carry forward my argument regarding Gregorian masses to its finality.

Briefly, Catholics are taught they must spend an indeterminate amount of time in “purgatory” to be cleansed from the guilt of “venial” (minor) sins and to pay the penalty for any remaining temporal punishment for “mortal” (major) sins already forgiven by a priest. Catholic theologians once taught the flames of purgatory were as excruciating as those in Hell but contemporary teaching now tends toward viewing purgatory as more of a way-station where deep-longing has replaced suffering.

According to Catholic theology, time in purgatory may be shortened by receiving “indulgences” from the church. “Plenary” (full) indulgences pardon all of the punishment/cleansing due in purgatory up to the point of reception while “partial” indulgences remove only an indeterminate portion. Indulgences may be applied to oneself or to deceased loved ones in accordance with official guidelines.

Are you still with me? The vast majority of Roman Catholics could not explain their church’s teaching on indulgences.

Catholics are taught that individual masses offered up for the deceased souls in purgatory will shorten their stay, although no one can say for how long. The suggested “stipend” for a mass intention is $10-$15. A tradition arose in the 6th century which claimed that thirty masses offered for a deceased person over thirty consecutive days, termed “Gregorian masses,” would be sure to release a soul from purgatory. See here. But the tradition stipulates the thirty masses cannot be said intermittently. They MUST be said over the course of thirty consecutive days for the plenary indulgence to be granted. The suggested “offering” for this series of masses ranges from $150-$300 depending on the priest or monastery a person deals with.

Okay, so now we finally get to carry this ritual to its illogical conclusion as I should have done initially.

Let’s just suppose a pious Catholic named Joe pays…er…I mean, contributes $300 to his parish priest to offer up thirty consecutive masses for the soul of his deceased mother who may or may not be in purgatory. The priest subsequently says twenty-nine masses over the course of twenty-nine consecutive days for the soul of the mother. But on the twenty-ninth day, immediately following mass, a flash fire destroys the church, killing both the priest and Joe. The result? The thirtieth and final Gregorian mass in the series was never conducted. So what is the status of Joe’s mother? Must she remain in purgatory as the Gregorian mass tradition stipulates since the series was not completed or will her remaining time in purgatory be pro-rated based on the 29 masses that were said?

And let’s not forget about the suffering soul in purgatory whose relatives are too poor or too cheap to shell out $300 to the priest for Gregorian masses. What about him? Why do the wealthy receive preferential treatment?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) does not mention Gregorian masses so this tradition is NOT an official teaching of the church although it has very wide acceptance. If you google “Gregorian mass” you’ll see many advertisements from monasteries offering this service. Why doesn’t the infallible pope weigh in on whether this popular tradition of thirty consecutive masses actually releases a soul from purgatory or not?

Catholics will charge that I’m being outrageously petty here for the sake of argument but, no, if you build a legalistic religious system, you must account for all contingencies. Catholic rituals, ceremonies, and traditions are refuted by logic and God’s Word.

I’m so grateful my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, released me from the chains of Catholic legalism and ritualism. Jesus paid the penalty for ALL of my sins on the cross.

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

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:12

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?

Wheat and grapes ONLY!!! Another case of straining for gnats but missing salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone.

For Catholics, the mass is the absolute centerpiece of their belief system. During the ritual, the priest allegedly changes bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. The attendees then line up to consume the Jesus wafers and wine, believing that, during the fifteen minutes their stomach acids are breaking them down, the consecrated elements impart graces that will enable them to avoid sin so that they will hopefully be able to merit Heaven.

This morning, I was listening to the 11/27/13 podcast of “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) with moderator Mike Denz and host, Catholic priest, Peter Calabrese, taking questions from listeners, and a couple of interesting questions came up regarding the bread wafers and wine used in the Catholic mass.

Mike Denz: “We have a question from Pauline who emailed us and she wants to know,…during Prohibition in the United States…did priests have access to wine for communion and, if not, did they only consecrate the hosts? And then the second (question) is, what do priests do for communion if they are in regions that do not have access to the standard bread and wine?”

Priest Calabrese responded that during Prohibition there were no restrictions on alcoholic wine for religious purposes. Regarding the second question, Calabrese said church law mandates the bread wafers used at mass can only be made from wheat flour and the wine can only be made from grapes.

Catholic Canon Law #924 states, “The Most Sacred Eucharistic Sacrifice must be celebrated with bread and wine, with which a small quantity of water is to be mixed. The bread must be made of wheat alone recently made so that there is no danger of corruption. The wine must be natural wine of the grape and not corrupt.”

If wheat wafers and grape wine are not readily available in a certain locale, they must be imported. Calabrese noted that an exception was made when the Jesuits exported Catholicism to the Far East in the 16th century and wheat and grapes were not available so rice wafers and rice wine were substituted, but this was only a temporary measure and was eventually rescinded.

What this means is, if the elements are made with something other than wheat and grapes, then the sacrament is “invalidated.” The priest can only change the elements into Jesus if they are made from wheat flour and grapes!

Oy vey.

No, I’m not making any of this up (see the article below).

The Catholic doctrine that priests change bread wafers and wine into the literal body and blood of Jesus, a woefully faulty interpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper passages, and that physically eating these elements imparts eternal life, defies a spiritual understanding of Scripture on many levels. Belief/trusting in Christ as Savior by faith alone is the meaning of John 6, not eating Jesus wafers. And the painfully scrupulous particularity regarding the ingredients of the elements just further illustrates the fact that Catholicism took a terribly wrong turn with all of this.

But the Catholic system is FILLED with these types of technical particularities that rival the elaborate legalities of the Pharisees of first-century Judea. I’m so glad Jesus freed me from the chains of Catholic legalism and ritual. Religious sacraments and ceremony don’t save. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior today.

Do hosts used for the Holy Eucharist have to be made of wheat?