Are Roman Catholics Saved?


Are Roman Catholics saved? If you asked them, just about all Roman Catholics would tell you quite bluntly that they certainly are NOT saved, but that they are trying, with the help of their church’s sacraments, to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church laws in order to remain in a mortal-sinless “state of grace” so as to be able to merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics talk about “grace” and “faith,” but how they understand those terms is completely different than how Bible Christians understand them. Christians are saved, not by anything we have done, but by the imputed perfect righteousness of our Savior, Jesus Christ. After we have repented of our sins and accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone, we then strive to follow Him in obedience as Lord, albeit imperfectly.

Two weeks ago, I posted the excellent short video, “What are the differences between Catholics and Protestants?,” from the evangelical apologetics ministry, Got Questions. See here. Today, I’m posting another excellent, short 7-minute video, “Are Roman Catholics Saved?,” from the evangelical apologetics ministry, CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry). I hope you are blessed by this video.



Living Biblically
CBS, Monday Nights, 9:30 EST
Episode #4, Thou Shalt Not Steal, March 19th

Last night, I was able to watch episode #4 of the new CBS comedy, “Living Biblically,” via on-demand. Remember, the premise of this show is that Chip, a Roman Catholic and a self-confessed “good person,” desires to be an even better person by strictly adhering to Biblical precepts. In this episode, “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” Chip starts off, just like in previous installments, by being judgmental about others. But with the help of his “god squad” advisors (a priest and rabbi who pontificate at the neighborhood saloon), Chip confronts his own routine acts of thievery such as cable theft (so he and his wife can watch “Game of Thrones”) and stealing office supplies from his workplace. Chip decides to return every item he’s ever stolen and manages to annoy his wife and co-workers with his scrupulosity. The rabbi counsels the frustrated Chip, telling him, “Maybe the reason people are so upset is because, in trying to live YOUR life by the Bible, you keep futzing with theirs.” No Gospel here, folks.

By the way, here’s a relevant article on the extremely popular, “Game of Thrones,” from Kevin DeYoung.


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

In response to my earlier inquiry regarding the abrupt and drastic changes to a Catholic talk radio show, I received the email below from the station. Below that, I’ve included my reply that I sent out this morning, which will probably be the last of this exchange that I will post.

As I said before, pope Francis has really thrown a monkey wrench into the Catholic system. If your focus is on an institution rather than on Jesus Christ, you’re on the wrong path.

From: Jim Havens
VP of Mission and Communication, The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network
Sent: Wed, Mar 21, 2018 7:18 am
Subject: Re: Can you please address the abrupt changes made to “The Catholic Current”?

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your email.

Your conclusion that somehow we are stifling honest opinion is simply incorrect and I find it unfortunate that you would make such an accusation.

Since you asked, I am happy to share more with you regarding our recent decision to change the concept and format of The Catholic Current.

First, we ran into an integrity issue with the show as it was being presented as a show where we would “follow the truth wherever it leads,” yet some of the priest hosts were telling me not to ask certain questions, read certain listener emails, mention certain names, etc.

Second, there were also some content concerns as some of the priest hosts were pushing their own speculative opinions (ex. a theory that the universe is only 8,000 years old), one even called the Catechism into question on-air, and I had some other concerns due to a private conversation I had with one of the priest hosts.

We decided to take a break, gather listener feedback, and prayerfully discern the best path forward.

At the conclusion of the process, it was determined to change format in order to best achieve our mission of proclaiming the fullness of Truth with clarity and charity. While the new version of show is less sensational, it is even more firmly centered on rock-solid catechesis and evangelization which are desperately needed in our Church and world today.

God bless you.

Grace and peace,


To: Jim Havens
VP of Mission and Communication, The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network
Sent: Thu, Mar 22, 2018 12:24 pm
Subject: Re: Can you please address the abrupt changes made to “The Catholic Current”?

Hi Jim, Thank you for your reply and explanations, although I do have several additional thoughts. You categorized my previous concerns as “incorrect” and “unfortunate” “accusations.” But I was simply trying to ascertain what had happened that would have prompted WLOF to announce a new show with great fanfare, especially in regards to its stated mission of confronting the confusion and errors creeping into the church and pursuing the truth “wherever the truth may lead,” and then:

1. Pulling the show following February 6th
2. Reconvening the show on March 12th with new hosts and a drastically changed format without any explanation to the listeners.
3. Expunging all twenty-four episodes dating from Jan. 3 to Feb. 6 from the podcast archives.

I’m sure I’m not the only listener who was very puzzled by such a dramatic turn of events. When an information source that’s trusted by many engages in such arbitrary practices, could anyone blame the audience for asking questions and expressing concern? Yet I am portrayed as the “bad guy” for speaking up?

I’m guessing there was more to the decision to shut down The Catholic Current 1.0 than you are divulging. Conservative Catholic organizations and individual clergy and laypersons are wrestling with how to respond to pope Francis, who is changing dogma once thought to be infallible, such as the ban on communion for remarried divorcees. The Catholic church has always taught that a pope could never lead the church into doctrinal error, but in the eyes of conservatives such as your former priest-hosts, Francis is doing exactly that. Francis presents a very uncomfortable dilemma for conservatives. If the claim that a pope could never lead the church into error is incorrect, conservatives must then ask themselves what other traditions of the church are spurious and without foundation? You write about the station’s mission of “proclaiming the fullness of Truth,” but is the fullness of truth that you refer to the truth of pope Francis or the contrasting truth of cardinal Raymond Burke?

I can appreciate that you and the other members of the staff at WLOF are in a challenging situation. The expectation is that you will present the church to your audience as an institution united behind the pope, but Francis is making that task increasingly difficult for you.

After reading the New Testament for several years as a Catholic, I could no longer reconcile God’s Word with Catholic doctrine. I left the Catholic church and eventually accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone. Jesus Christ is my Salvation and my unchanging Rock. I invite you to consider accepting Christ as your Savior by faith alone as well. I am not shaken by the controversies within religious institutions. The Catholic church, as you know from the controversy behind “The Catholic Current” revision, is not what it claims to be.


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

Quasimodo pleads for “Sanctuary,” but finds none at Notre Dame

As I’ve related several times before, I had walked away from the Lord for a very long “season” after we left our first church in 1991. But the Lord is merciful and patient beyond measure and kept drawing me back to Him. Toward the end of that pitiful “journey,” my wife had reconnected with old friends, an evangelical Christian couple from our old neighborhood. They invited us to their church for Sunday worship four years ago and it was at that service that I returned to my Abba Father who had been watchfully and lovingly waiting for His prodigal son. But we didn’t consider attending our friends’ church following that Sunday because it upholds several secondary doctrines that we don’t believe are Biblical, which I mention in all humility.

We have spent a lot of time with this sweet couple over the last four years: sharing meals at our homes and at restaurants, traveling, seeing movies, visiting each other during sickness, and just hanging out together. They love the Lord and try to serve Him with their lives. However, one of the things that we don’t see eye to eye on is in regards to ecumenism. They are of a viewpoint that Roman Catholicism is a Christian entity and that it preaches the genuine Gospel. Argh! I’m sure this is what they unfortunately receive from the pulpit of their church. We have had many brief, polite discussions about this, but they attribute our “attitude” to being disgruntled, former members. No, Rome’s gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit is NOT the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through in Jesus Christ alone. Despite what Billy Graham and other ecumenists say, it’s impossible to fit the square Roman peg through the round Gospel hole. Our discussions on this issue have been brief and polite, but I’ve noticed their eyes tend to glaze over when we present our arguments.

Last Saturday, we went out to dinner with this couple at an Italian eatery (linguini and red clam sauce is one of my go-to dishes) and then attended a local high school production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”* The musical dramatization is based on Victor Hugo’s famous 1831 novel. Hugo (1802-1885) was a French politician and one of country’s most celebrated writers. He was a deist and strongly anti-clerical and anti-Catholic. The villain of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is the pathologically conflicted character, Archdeacon Claude Frollo, who represents the rigid, legalistic religiosity that Hugo abhorred. Is there a sadder figure in fiction than the forlorn hunchback, Quasimodo,** rejected by all? Too bad Hugo did not know the Lord.

We all enjoyed the show. The high school kids put on a tremendous performance far beyond their years. As we were all riding home in the car together, I half-jokingly mentioned that the moral of the play was never to trust a priest. Everyone shared a good guffaw, but then the wife friend commented with something to the effect of, “It’s just too bad the good priests have to deal with all the bad publicity from the bad-apple pedophiles.”

Huh? Good priests? Again and again we encounter this unscriptural understanding from our friends. Over and over. Patience, Lord, patience.

My wife quickly responded by saying that, according to Scripture, there is no longer any need for priests or sacrifice.


That was the end of that particular exchange, but the debate is never-ending as evangelicals and evangelicalism continue to march onward toward Rome.

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:11-14

*Notre Dame in Paris is probably the second-most famous Catholic church in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Many Americans don’t know that “Notre Dame” means “Our Lady.”

**The GIF clip above shows Charles Laughton as Quasimodo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,”  RKO Radio Pictures, 1939. The name, Quasimodo, comes from a Latin phrase, “quasi modo,” which translates as, “Almost merely” or “Merely almost.” The name refers to Quasimodo’s several deformities and that he supposedly “almost” looked like a human or was an approximation of a human. The meaning “half-formed” isn’t correct, but that’s the right idea. Society has gone backwards in many respects recently, but at least there is much more respect shown to those with disabilities and disfigurements. Quasimodo, you are not alone! We are all spiritually disabled and disfigured by sin and we all, every single one of us, need salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Christ is REAL sanctuary for sinners!!! Why won’t you repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior today? What are you waiting for?

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

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” – 1 John 3:13

I said I wasn’t going to write anymore posts about Billy Graham, but this is what happens when you walk through a bookstore…

This past Saturday, I stopped in at our local Barnes and Noble bookstore and checked out the (c)hristian section. I rarely buy any of the books on display there because I would guess that around 80% are written by either TBN prosperity gospel types or by Roman Catholics. Anyway, I happened to spot the newly published, updated version of “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story” by William Martin (Zondervan, February 20, 2018, 832 pages).

I have no desire to read this entire biography, but I did spend about fifteen minutes at the store reading about a pivotal situation in Graham’s ministry that’s described in the book.

Here’s a couple of thoughts I have on this book:

>It’s interesting to me that the title is, “A Prophet with Honor.” The genuine, God-ordained prophets of the Old Testament and apostles of the New Testament were despised by the general population and eventually murdered because they proclaimed God’s unwelcomed rebukes, admonitions, and Narrow Way of salvation.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” – Luke 13:34

In contrast, Billy Graham was one of the most widely respected and honored men in the entire world; the friend of American Presidents and religious and political leaders across the globe. Why wasn’t Graham despised and rejected like the genuine prophets of the Bible? While Graham did preach the Gospel at his crusades, the bottom-line message of his ministry was one of ecumenism, which even eventually devolved into Universalism. Graham’s foundational philosophy of tolerance and inclusiveness was well received and offended no one.

>Pages 223-227 of “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story” describe Graham’s split with Christian fundamentalism. Graham started his career as a separated believer and fundamentalist, but over time, he changed his philosophy. Graham’s organization began seeking and accepting support from liberal Protestant (i.e., affiliates of the National Council of Churches (NCC)) and Roman Catholic church leaders. Fundamentalist leaders, including such men as James Bennet, Bob Jones, Charles Woodbridge, Jack Wyrtzen, Robert Ketcham, and Carl McIntire, saw some of the warning signs of Graham’s compromise as early as 1954 and tried to dissuade him from his new course. Graham’s ministerial mentor, John R. Rice, met with him twice but was not able to change Graham’s mind. The last straw was Graham’s 1957 New York City crusade, which included 120 NCC clergymen on the organizing committee (Graham would enlist Roman Catholic clerics in organizing future crusades). All fundamentalist leaders subsequently withdrew their support from Graham. Graham’s compromise broke the heart of John R. Rice. Author Martin writes of Graham’s break with fundamentalism as a very positive development, but Graham’s compromise laid the groundwork for the full-scale ecumenism and betrayal of the Gospel that we see in the evangelical church today.

An irenic invitation to Roman Catholics to accept Christ

The Road Once Travelled
By Mark Gilbert with Cecily Paterson
Matthias Media, 2010, 63 pages

There are hundreds of good resources on Roman Catholicism from a Bible Christian perspective (see my listing here). They range from the very confrontational to the almost irenic. ‘The Road Once Travelled” definitely tends toward the latter. Australian conservative Anglican minister, Mark Gilbert, gives his personal testimony of starting out in life as a Roman Catholic, but then reading the Bible and discovering the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

There are no nasty put-downs of Catholicism in this booklet. But Gilbert places himself in the shoes of his Catholic readers regarding the irrelevant, boring, and confusing aspects of Catholic ritualism and the ever-present guilt cycle that’s part and parcel of religious legalism. He then discusses the authority of the Bible and the ultimate “solution” to man’s spiritual need, Jesus Christ.

This booklet is very well-designed and non-confrontational in tone and meant to be given to Catholic friends and family. It’s a little too loosey-goosey to my way of thinking and comes close to erring on the side of politically correct “niceness.” Gilbert almost seems to be telling his readers that it’s probably a good idea for them to accept Christ and leave Catholicism rather than compelling them (e.g., “…it seemed best for me to leave” and “Everyone’s journey is different and, in many ways, is not that important…,” both quotes from p. 61).

But personalities are different and some Catholics who would never consider reading something more forthright and confrontational might read this quasi-irenic booklet.

Order from Matthias Media here.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 3/17/18

The “Wonder Woman” actress offended the disabled community with her non-PC comment about the recently deceased Hawking now being “free from physical constraints.” But it’s totally irrational for people to use these tritely sympathetic sayings in regards to Hawking because he was a crusading atheist who preached complete non-existence after death.

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” – Stephen Hawking

I believe that at this moment Hawking is fully convinced of God’s existence.

Catholicism still talks about “evangelization” but it has a hard time putting it into practice because the church teaches every “good” person – Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, New Ager, and atheist – is able to merit Heaven.

Pell is the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy (Vatican Finance Minister) and the highest ranking prelate to be accused of sexual abuse.

Some people are enamored with Catholicism’s art and grandiose architecture (like my former SBC pastor), but these things are not indications of genuine Biblical spirituality. Instead of drawing people to Christ, I would argue that such gaudy worldliness is an idol.

Universalism is creeping into the evangelical church. Billy Graham was an advocate (unbeknownst to many fawning admirers) and we also saw it taught in the wildly popular “The Shack” novel and movie.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of pope Paul VI’s controversial “Humanae Vitae” encyclical letter, which banned all forms of birth control (including non-abortifacients) under pain of mortal sin. The vast majority of Catholics flout this rule with absolutely no pangs of conscience.

Catholics talk about “spreading the faith” and “sharing the gospel,” but what faith and gospel do they propagate? What they offer is a complicated system of works-righteousness legalism based on sacramental grace and merit.

This article is a good summary of pope Francis’ very controversial papacy at the five year mark.

No, no, no, this isn’t a satirical piece from the Babylon Bee! Jeffress carries the Falwellian torch of conflating Christianity with political conservatism and fervent national patriotism and gives evangelicalism a bad name in the minds of many of the unsaved.

Okay, NOW we have some actual satire from the Babylon Bee!

I usually try to limit the Weekend Roundup to ten stories, but I had to make an exception for this Babylon Bee satirical piece.

Update: How a “church” became a dark stain on the Gospel witness in my city

Way back in September, I posted the story far below about the arrest of a local pastor, Paul B., on charges of forcibly touching three women who were attending his church. My wife and I were members of the church in question for eight years back in the 80s and early 90s when Paul’s father was pastor. But we could see signs of spiritual unhealthiness at that church twenty-seven years ago, which precipitated our leaving. These charges against Paul stemmed from abuses in 2016 and 2017, but there had also been allegations of abuse in 2013 and 2014.

What has happened since the arrest in September? Our justice system does not work quickly and sometimes that is by design. Paul appeared in town court with his lawyer on October 26th, November 27th, January 18th, and February 26th and each time the trial was postponed. But on Paul’s next court date, this past Wednesday, March 14th, the town prosecutor announced that a plea deal had been struck. Paul pleaded guilty to only one of the four counts of sexual abuse and in exchange he will be sentenced in two months to one year of probation and will be permanently registered as a sex offender. What? Probation? Not even one week in jail? My, some people have to spend a month in jail for much less than Paul’s “offense.”

Once again the local media focused on the news of Paul’s guilty plea and his upcoming sentencing and once again the Gospel witness in our town received a black eye, not to mention all of the emotional pain suffered by the victims of this serial abuser and the deep betrayal felt by the church’s members.

Former Henrietta pastor pleads guilty to sexual abuse (article from local newspaper)

Former Henrietta pastor pleads guilty to sexual abuse (video from local television news)

A few things came to mind after the news of Paul’s guilty plea:

  • Some people are just not fit for ministry. Nepotism got Paul his initial position on staff at the church despite admitted scandalous conduct, which caused a split. Spirit-filled members sensed the danger, but Paul’s father steamrolled all opposition.
  • Paul became pastor of the church in 2011 after his father had suffered a small stroke. He obviously had to study the Bible frequently in order to preach all of those sermons he delivered in the six years prior to his arrest. But what was his private prayer life like? No Christian is perfect, but how could a man walk closely with the Lord in daily prayer and also regularly prey on victims? Was Paul even saved? We all need to stay close to the Lord in daily prayerful communion and we need to regularly lift up our pastors in prayer. There’s no doubt that Satan especially targets pastors.
  • I can’t tell a church I am not a member of how to operate, but the new pastor that’s now in place should ask for the resignation of every deacon who unequivocally supported Paul from 2011 to 2017 in the face of many allegations of impropriety. I was an outsider, but even I could see the flashing warning signs regarding Paul’s lifestyle. Many church boards are comprised of “yes men.”
  • If you are a member of a church in which the pastor exerts unhealthy control over the membership and there appears to be no oversight regarding the pastor, find a spiritually healthy church.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

via How a “church” became a dark stain on the Gospel witness in my city

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.

Remember convents? Catholic girls were once attracted to the “discipline” of religious orders.

Written and directed by Maggie Betts and featuring Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Julianne Nicholson, and Dianna Agron.
Sony Pictures Classics, 2017, 123 minutes

You have to be around sixty-years-old or older to remember pre-Vatican II, militant Catholicism. This film brought back memories.

Plot (spoiler alert!)

Young Cathleen experiences very little love in her broken home, but she is awarded a scholarship to a Catholic school for girls and is intrigued by the nuns who teach her. To the absolute chagrin of her “freespirited” mother (Nicholson), Cathleen (Qualley) decides to enter the convent of the Sisters of the Blessed Rose in 1964 at the age of seventeen. She is attracted by the nuns’ close-knit community, disciplined lifestyle, and intense “spirituality.” However, Cathleen’s fanciful conception of convent life meets cold reality like a hard slap across the face in the person of Reverend Mother (Leo), who rules the institution with an iron fist. Cathleen and the other novices must endure harsh and humiliating treatment and adhere to a thick catalog of rules and regulations for the opportunity of becoming a full-fledged nun. Many drop away or are deemed unsuitable and dismissed. The remaining young women have a sympathetic ally in one young nun, sister Mary Grace (Agron), who chafes under the boot of Reverend Mother, but the old war horse has her own problems.

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) is ushering in many reforms of church practices and rules governing religious orders and Reverend Mother is none too pleased with this threat to her fiefdom. She resists the changes as long as possible while venting her frustration on her charges. Cathleen struggles to endure her training and even starves herself into the infirmary in an attempt to master her spiritual failings. Under orders from the archbishop, Reverend Mother can no longer forestall the Vatican II reforms and reluctantly notifies the sisters of the changes. Horrified by the unsettling news, many nuns leave the convent and return to the secular world. Only a small handful of novices remain, and on the day they take their “final vows” to become full-fledged nuns, Cathleen decides to leave the convent.


Boy, did this film bring back memories. I attended Catholic parochial school from 1961 to 1970 and personally witnessed the last stages of militant, pre-Vatican II Catholicism and then the dramatic window-dressing changes of Vatican II. I can remember all the nuns who taught me quite vividly. Some were kind and some were very troubled souls who released their anger on us children. Those poor women were attempting to merit their way to Heaven by living ascetic lives according to the strict rules of their order, the Sisters of Mercy. We talk about religious cults, but was there anything more cultish than a group of women living together as the brides of Christ replete with wedding rings and dressed in 11th century garb? As the movie shows, these women had to endure great hardship and humiliation. Many forms of self-mortification were encouraged. This movie alludes to lesbian relationships inside the convent, what real-life nuns termed as “particular friendships.” This is a sensitive topic, but lesbianism was a very real issue in convents, where women, young and old, were deprived of natural affections. As an eighth-grade student, I witnessed signs of a “particular friendship” between my homeroom teacher and another nun.

This was a good film, but a painful one to watch because of the memories. As a child, I witnessed first-hand the type of vicious cruelty doled out by the film’s Reverend Mother. Being the target of a nun’s hissy fit was painful. Melissa Leo is excellent in the role of convent despot.

Additional comments from an ex-Catholic believer

Catholicism changed its window dressing with Vatican II, but it still preaches the same core doctrines and the same false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. All of these poor nuns attempted to earn their salvation through severe asceticism, but Catholics still try to merit their salvation as they are instructed by their church. At the end of the film, it states that, following the changes of Vatican II, “90,000 nuns renounced their vocations and left their convents.” My hope is that some of them eventually trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. There are relatively very few nuns in the U.S. today; the number dropped from 180,000 in 1965 to 50,000 in 2014 and the majority of those that remain are elderly.

For the testimonies of 20 former nuns who left Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, see here.

In this scene, the novices meet with Reverend Mother and each confess their sins publicly as a weekly ritual . The other novices are asked to accuse each nun of any sins they have observed.