Throwback Thursday: Behind Catholicism’s “Purple Curtain” in Latin America

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to take a look back at this slightly revised post that was first published on August 29, 2015.

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Behind the Purple Curtain
By Walter Manuel Montaño
Cowman Publications, 1950, 327 pages

5 Stars

Americans in the 1950s Cold War-era were accustomed to hearing about the poor souls trapped behind the Soviet Union’s “Iron Curtain” and Communist China’s “Bamboo Curtain.” In “Behind the Purple Curtain,” ex-Dominican monk and evangelical missionary, Walter Montaño, examines the intolerance of Roman Catholicism in regions where it enjoyed a religious majority and received the strong support of the local and national governments.

In 1950s Europe, the Catholic church was closely allied with the fascist regimes in Spain and Portugal and there were still disturbingly vivid memories of Catholicism’s strong ties to Mussolini’s National Fascist Party in Italy, Pavelic’s Ustase in Croatia, the post-Pilsudski Sanacja and Dmowski’s Endecja in Poland, and to Petain’s Vichy France. But Montaño’s focus is mainly on Latin America where the Catholic church held sway for 400 years.

The rule of the Spanish conquistadors and their successors eventually gave way to unstable, quasi-democracies and military-backed dictatorships throughout Latin America, but the Catholic church maintained its death grip on the enormous peasant population through its falangist political organizations and alliances with civil governments. Montaño gives many examples of the church’s often-lethal intolerance of Protestants within Latin America and cautions North American Protestants to maintain their vigilance otherwise they would face similar circumstances. Montaño’s warnings may come across as quaintly paranoid and sensationalistic to the contemporary reader accustomed to today’s prevailing spirit of tolerance and ecumenism, but the reality for believers in many parts of world in the 20th-century was that Catholic hegemony often meant harassment, persecution, and even death.

Sixty-nine years after “Behind the Purple Curtain” was written we find that the Catholic church no longer enjoys anywhere near the political prestige and influence it once did. American evangelicals no longer need worry about the pope manipulating Washington politics from his Vatican throne. These days, pope Francis can’t even get his American membership to attend obligatory mass on Sundays. The real danger to contemporary Christian witness began several decades ago when some evangelicals began embracing Catholics as co-belligerents in social causes, which transitioned into compromising the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embracing works-righteousness Catholics as fellow Christians (see Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, Rick Warren, etc.). But Catholicism still teaches the same fundamental doctrines as those taught at the time of the Reformation. Most importantly, Catholics teach salvation by sacramental grace and merit while evangelicals proclaim salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. For most Catholics, the “gospel” is receiving the church-administered sacraments, trying to live a “good” life, and hoping their “good” outweighs their “bad” at the end. They’re relying on their works-religion and their own righteousness, not Jesus Christ, for their salvation. So why are some evangelicals so eager to embrace Roman Catholics as “brothers in Christ”? Montaño saw the coming evangelical compromise and betrayal of the Gospel even as far back as 1950 when the leading figure of American Protestantism at the time, Dr. John R. Mott, was already embracing Rome and discouraging mission work to Latin America.

In addition to his many other Gospel ministries, Walter Montaño was executive director of Christ’s Mission, a mission to Roman Catholics based in New York City, from 1951 to 1960.

Very recent reprints of this book are available from Amazon.com. See here. Also see my Books tab here for a long list of books which critically examine Roman Catholicism.

To read my review of the biography of Walter Montaño, see here.

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Throwback Thursday: “I might not be perfect, but at least I never killed anyone or cheated on my wife.”

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to revisit a slightly re-edited post that was first published on August 25th, 2015.

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One way to begin presenting the Gospel to someone is by asking why they think God should allow them into Heaven? Most people, including most Catholics, would respond with something like, “I try to be a good person” or “My good outweighs my bad.” I’ve heard Catholics try to justify themselves even further by admitting that, while they weren’t perfect, at least they never murdered anyone or cheated on their spouse.

But let’s examine that last statement a little more closely by posing a hypothetical scenario:

On his wedding day, a certain man enters into a marriage “covenant” with his bride and vows to love and honor her and to forsake all others until “death do us part.” Decades later, on his 50th wedding anniversary, the man looks back with immense pride on his record of “complete faithfulness” to his wife. But what is the spiritual reality? How does God see it?

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7.

While it’s true the man may have never physically committed adultery with another woman in those fifty years, he committed adultery in his heart innumerable times. Who can possibly count the number of occasions that he desired another woman besides his wife while watching television or movies? At a crowded beach? Walking the mall? At the office? Surfing the internet or leafing through magazines? Uh-oh, even at church! The man protests, “Well, of course! All red-blooded men sneak a peek now and then. It’s not the same thing as physically being with a woman!” Oh, really? Jesus Christ, God the Son, disagrees.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28.

The man claims he was obedient and faithful and to all outward appearances he was. But God sees the heart and this man’s heart, like ALL men’s hearts, was filled with lust and covetousness. He was certainly NOT “faithful” according to God’s standard.

When we appear before God, we will have no excuse, no alibi, and no plea in and of ourselves. All hidden thoughts and desires will be revealed. So who then can possibly live up to God’s standard of righteous perfection? The answer is no one. But God so loved us that He sent His Son, the ONLY One without blemish or spot, to die for our sins.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Only those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and have had His perfect righteousness imputed to them can stand before Holy God. There is no other way to come to God than through the Savior, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Trying to be “good” won’t cut it. Trying to be “faithful” won’t cut it. Trying to uphold your end of a religious “covenant” with God won’t cut it. All of our “righteous” acts that we present to God in trying to merit our salvation are like “filthy rags” in His eyes. – Isaiah 64:6.

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5:2

The Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone was the joyous message of the early church. How then was the Gospel of simple faith in Christ twisted into the Catholic religious system of ritual sacramentalism, legalism, and salvation by merit? That’s a topic for a future blog.

Catholic Voodoo: Burying a St. Joseph statue in the yard in order to sell a house faster

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to revisit a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 1, 2015. The subject material is timely since we’re entering into the busiest months of the real estate buying/selling season.

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Periodically, I like to visit our local “Christian” bookstore. Admittedly, there’s a lot of “Jesus junk” sold at those stores along with a preponderance of books from the TBN “prosperity gospel” crowd, but occasionally I do find something useful. During a visit last year, I noticed a very large supply of St. Joseph statues (photo above) stocked in the store’s Catholic section. Huh? I wondered WHY there was such an incredibly large number of St. Joseph statues on the shelf because I knew that Catholics worship Mary much, much more than lowly Joseph. What was going on? A couple of weeks later there was an article in the real estate section of the local newspaper that explained it all. I learned that many Catholics, and even non-Catholics, follow the superstition of burying a statue of Joseph, the “patron saint of home and family,” upside-down in the yard of a house they’re trying to sell in order to bring “good luck” and expedite the sale. Oy vey.

Folks, this is sheer pagan superstition at its very worst, but I’m not surprised at all. Catholicism is full of similar voodoo good luck charms and jujus including such things as blessing yourself with “holy” water, making the sign of the cross, “holy” medals, scapulars, crucifixes, rosaries hanging from automobile rear view mirrors, etc., etc. Catholic priest, Robert J. Levis, a writer at EWTN.com, states that burying a St. Joseph statue to facilitate the sale of a house is blatant superstition, although I’m sure there are many other priests who would simply wink at the practice rather than make a stink about it.

I wrote a letter to the owner of the “Christian” bookstore asking that they remove the large supply of St. Joseph statues from their shelves since they were being used in a superstitious pagan practice, besides the fact that God forbids the worship (Catholics call it “veneration”) of statues in the first place.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” – Exodus 20:4-5.

Needless to say, the popular St. Joseph juju statues are still being sold by the “Chri$tian” book$tore.

Believers can thank the Lord for freeing us from the chains of religious superstition and opening our eyes to the simple but glorious Gospel of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.

Throwback Thursday: Sister Rita of Cascia – “She returned the maggots to the fetid sore.”

For our first Throwback Thursday installment, we’re going to take a look back at this post that was originally published July 19, 2015, with a few minor revisions.

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Many canonized Catholic saints of the past are admired and venerated for their “asceticism” (definition: a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals). However, some of those saints took their asceticism to an extreme level including self-harm. Bible Christians would rightly judge such practices as anti-Biblical and the practitioners as mentally disturbed and/or demonically influenced. Let’s examine one such “saint,” a nun, Margherita Lotti aka saint Rita of Cascia (1381-1451) using information from a Catholic source:

“On one occasion, a Franciscan friar named Blessed James of Mount Brandone, came to the church of St. Mary to preach on the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, focusing mostly on the Crown of Thorns. Rita wept as though her heart was broken. After the sermon was over, she went to her cell and prostrated herself before the Crucifix, meditating on the pains Christ suffered from the thorns. She asked Jesus to give her at least one of the 72 thorns which pierced His poor head, causing Him so much pain and suffering, that she might feel a part of that pain. Upon completion of that prayer, Rita’s Divine Spouse granted her wish, making of His Crown of Thorns, so to speak, a bow, and one of the thorns, an arrow. Jesus fired it at the forehead of St. Rita with such force, that it penetrated the flesh and bone, and remained fixed in the middle of her forehead, leaving a wound that lasted all her life, and even to this day, the scar of the wound remains plainly visible.

The pain was so intense that Rita fell into a swoon. She would have died right there had Jesus not preserved her life. The pain caused by the wound increased daily. It became so ugly, foul smelling and revolting, that Rita became an object of nausea to many who saw it. As a result, Rita asked permission to spend most of her time alone in her cell, but she was happy. Little worms fed themselves on the open wound, thus giving her new occasion to practice patience.

The year 1450 was proclaimed by Pope Nicholas V as a Jubilee Year, thus providing many indulgences for those who would go on pilgrimage to Rome. Several of the sisters were given permission to go. At the feet of her superior, St. Rita also asked permission to go. Fearful that those who might observe the ugly and foul smelling wound might be scandalized, the superioress denied her permission to go unless the wound would disappear.

Rushing to the feet of her Divine Spouse, Rita humbly sought God’s will, asking Him to take away the wound, but to continue to allow her to suffer the pain from the wound. The wound disappeared at once. Rita gave thanks and rushed to her superioress, who was surprised and astonished – and Rita was granted permission to accompany the other nuns to Rome.

The sisters visited the stational churches and the tombs of the martyrs. Many were touched by Rita’s devotion and piety. As they returned to the convent – just as Rita stepped over the threshold, the ugly wound reappeared on her forehead, and she suffered intense pains. The offensive odor and the worms reappeared also. When one of the worms fell to the floor, Rita picked it up with care, and placed it back in the wound. She called them “her little angels,” as they were instruments for testing her patience as they recalled to her the intense suffering of her Jesus. She once again retired to her cell so as not to inconvenience the other nuns.”

http://www.sacramentals.org/saintritaofcascia.htm

As with this story of saint Rita, many of the accounts of the nun mystics include thinly-veiled erotic inferences. Academics refer to this as “bridal mysticism.” In addition to other elements, the visionary is often pierced by some type of instrument or light. The phallic symbolism is fairly obvious. If this information upsets you, I can certainly understand why, but let’s not shy away from the facts.

Today, Margherita Lotti aka Sister Rita of Cascia would be properly diagnosed as mentally ill, but the Roman Catholic church venerates this 15th-century nun as a “saint.”

Roman Catholicism betrayed its demonic elements by exalting extreme asceticism including various forms of harmful self-mortification as well as subjective, anti-Biblical religious experientialism/hysteria aka mysticism. Praise God for the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

“28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30