Brokeback Vatican

In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy
By Frédéric Martel
Bloomsbury, 2019, 555 pages

I didn’t realize that many Catholic clerics were homosexual until I began attending a Catholic high school that was administered by the Irish Christian Brothers and became indirectly aware about such things. Several of the brothers were decidedly effeminate and one of my guidance counselors posited some inappropriate questions to me during one of our sessions. That was back in the early 70s. Over the last twenty-years, we’ve all witnessed headline after headline of Catholic priests sexually abusing children, especially boys. What are the reasons for that? I’ve stated for years that Catholicism’s rule of clerical celibacy was both a magnet for and an incubator of sexual deviancy. Sources both Catholic and non-Catholic are now coming forward examining the reasons why so many priests are sexually deviant. For some strange reason, this topic was “off-limits,” until now.

French investigative journalist, Frédéric Martel, has dropped this bombshell on the Catholic church and the effects will be iconoclastic. In interviews with numerous priests, bishops, and cardinals, Martel exposes the truth that the church has kept hidden for centuries; a large percentage of Catholic clerics are either practicing homosexuals or sympathetic homophile “fellow travelers.” The percentage of gay clerics grows larger the higher one goes up the hierarchy. Powerful prelates reward their “proteges” with important positions and the “parish” is perpetuated.

Martel confirms that Catholic seminaries with their rule of clerical celibacy attracted young men who were societal misfits and not agreeable to marriage. He closely examines the papacies of Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, both for their promotions of homosexuals to powerful positions and for their strong denunciations of homosexuality according to official church teaching. In an example of “The lady doth protest too much” Shakespearean hypocrisy, Martel shows that some of the most vocal critics of homosexuality were/are practicing homosexual clerics.

This book takes no prisoners. Martel is a homosexual and clearly has an axe to grind in chastising the church and propagating the LGBTQ agenda. But the Catholic church has no answers for the truths he reveals. Although I applaud this book for revealing the Vatican’s dark secrets, it was difficult to read because of the abundance of sordid details.

I’m not an anti-homosexual crusader as my old pastor was 35 years ago. Sin is sin. But the propagation of the LBGTQ agenda has had and will have alarming negative effects on the family and society in general.

The salient irony of this tempest that I don’t want you to miss is that a religion that teaches merited salvation is led to a sizeable degree by men who are either practicing homosexuals, pedophiles, or homophile “fellow travelers.” Every Roman Catholic and evangelical Vatican-watcher needs to read this book, as difficult as it may be.

“26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” – Romans 1:26-27

Advertisements

Cutthroat politics in the push to make the pope infallible

Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church
By John W. O’Malley
Belknap Press, 2018, 320 pages

Some of my recent readings about the Catholic dogma of papal infallibility prompted me to download the ebook version of this very interesting book.

In the 19th-century, as monarchies were being overturned throughout Europe in favor of constitutional democracies, pope Pius IX hung on desperately to the Papal States, an area of about 16,000 sq. mi. in the central region of the Italian Peninsula. As the alleged “Vicar of Christ,” the pope claimed authority over both the temporal and spiritual worlds and the Papal States were symbolic of his theoretical jurisdiction over all nations.

As the political and military supporters of Italian national unification began making inroads into the Papal States, the pope called upon France and Austria to defend his territory. He retaliated against the “revolutionaries” the only way he could, by issuing the “Syllabus of Errors” in 1864, which condemned all forms of constitutional government, freedom of religion, and other “modern errors.”

But many Catholics of the era reacted to the post-Enlightenment upheavals by desiring a return to an ultra-pious religiosity which would be embodied by an authoritarian pope; authoritarian at least in spiritual matters. Debates over papal infallibility began raging throughout Catholic Europe with the Jesuits taking the lead in the campaign for furthering papal supremacy. Pius IX saw the opportunity to balance his increasingly precarious temporal situation with regards to the Papal States with increased “spiritual” prerogatives and called the Vatican Council (1869-1870) mainly to define the dogma of papal infallibility. Much/most of the impetus for declaring the pope infallible was in reaction to the loss of the Papal States; the Risorgimento may have seized the pope’s kingdom, but he was still their infallible, spiritual sovereign.

Contemporary Catholics who take the doctrine of infallibility for granted 150 years later should definitely read this book. Many of the prelates of the preconciliar church thought of the hierarchy in much more collegial terms and saw the pope as a symbolic figure among equals. A sizable minority of the bishops who attended the council strongly opposed papal infallibility. The pope and his allies used various means at their disposal to influence the prelates. “On 13 July 1870, a preliminary vote on the section on infallibility was held in a general congregation: 451 voted simply in favour (placet), 88 against (non placet), and 62 in favour but on condition of some amendment (placet iuxta modum)” – from Wikipedia. The opponents of the dogma absented themselves from the final vote rather than publicly oppose the pope. The credulous faithful would be surprised to learn from this book and the example of Vatican I that Vatican spirituality was/is often a matter of cutthroat politics and cloakroom deals.

Postscripts:

  • Italian unification forces besieged Rome and seized the city in September, 1870, ending papal temporal rule in Italy until dictator Benito Mussolini ceded Vatican City to the papacy as an independent state in 1929 in return for recognition of the fascist regime.
  • The doctrine of papal infallibility claims the pope teaches without error on matters of faith and morals only when he speaks “ex cathedra,” formally from the chair of St. Peter in his alleged capacity as the supreme teacher of the church. However, Catholic theologians can agree on only three occasions when a pope defined dogma infallibly: the immaculate conception of Mary (1854), papal infallibility (1870), and the assumption of Mary (1950).
  • “Ultramontane” literally means “on the other side of the mountains from the point of view of the speaker.” In France, the term became popular as a reference to “the man beyond the mountains,” i.e. the pope. Ultramontanists were Catholics who desired an increased degree of authority for the pope including the declaration of infallibility as a dogma.
  • The author of this book is a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest and professor of theology at Georgetown University, but I give him credit for his objectivity. Conservative Catholic apologists operate from a pollyannaish viewpoint with regards to their church’s history, but O’Malley doesn’t sugar coat it.
  • Catholic apologists boast that their church is the only religious institution that’s led by an infallible leader. They claim that the Holy Spirit would never allow a pope to lead the church into doctrinal error. It’s quite interesting, then, that the current pope, Francis, has undermined doctrines held to be infallible by previous popes including the ban on communion for remarried divorcees, the ban on intercommunion with Protestants, and the licitness of capital punishment, much to the chagrin of conservative Catholics.

Is the Pope the Antichrist?

Antichrist Revealed: Described in Scripture…Fulfilled in the Papacy
By Carol White
Amazon Digital Services, 2017, 45 pages

Last week, I posted about a valuable little quarterly, the Ulster Bulwark, published by the Evangelical Protestant Society of Northern Ireland (see here). One of the books reviewed at the end of the quarterly was “Antichrist Revealed: Described in Scripture…Fulfilled in the Papacy” by Carol White.

I don’t study eschatology/end times although I have benefited in the past from those who do. The early Reformers were convinced that the Antichrist referred to in several prophetic books of the Bible was the office of the pope. Several of the confessions of the nascent Protestant denominations contained articles declaring the papacy to be the Antichrist. This interpretation lost favor in our increasingly ecumenical era, to be replaced by a belief that the “man of sin” would be a secular, political leader.

In this short booklet, the author seeks a return to the classical Protestant view. First, she evaluates all Scripture passages that refer to the “son of perdition” and follows with a brief history of the papacy, demonstrating how it has already fulfilled much of the prophecy in question. The author has done an excellent job in presenting her case. Who else has claimed the lofty title of “Vicar of Christ” for the last 1500 years? Who else would the world turn to for “spiritual guidance” in the case of a global catastrophe? This work is not some outlandish, Jack Chick-type, conspiracy polemic, but a measured evaluation of Scripture and history.

Identifying the papacy as the Antichrist of Scripture is strictly taboo in this era of tolerance and ecumenism. To suggest such a thing is an invitation to be relegated to the fundamentalist fringes. Did the Reformers and evangelical Protestants up until the 20th Century get it wrong? Read this booklet and decide for yourself.

“It is the bound and duty of every Christian to pray against this Antichrist, and as to what Antichrist is, no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not the popery in the Church of Rome there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name. Popery is contrary to Christ’s gospel and is the antichrist and we ought to pray against it. It should be the daily prayer of every believer that the antichrist might be hurled like a millstone into the flood and for Christ, because it wounds Christ, because it robs Christ of his glory, because it puts sacramental efficacy in the place of his atonement and lifts a piece of bread into the place of the Savior and a few drops of water into the place of the Holy Spirit. And puts a mere fallible man like ourselves up as the Vicar of Christ on Earth. If we pray against it, because it is against him, we shall love the persons though we hate their errors. We shall love their souls though we loathe and detest their dogmas. And so the breath of our prayers will be sweetened because we turn our faces toward Christ when we pray.” – Charles Spurgeon

Order the Kindle ebook here.

The abduction of a Jewish boy by the Catholic church that caused an international uproar

The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara
By David I. Kertzer
Alfred A. Knopf, 1997, 350 pages

The Roman Catholic church has an extremely uncomplimentary history in regards to its relationship with the Jews. There’s a lengthy and sordid record of persecution, pogroms, forced baptisms, ghetto quarantines, and expulsions. Popes, prelates, and priests were not only aware of the intolerance, they were more often than not the instigators. Adolf Hitler credited the Catholic church with fomenting anti-Semitism throughout Europe, which culminated in his Final Solution:

“The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc, because it recognized the Jews for what they were …. I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the Church.” – Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933.

By the mid-19th-century, autocratic, monarchical governments in Europe were being overturned in favor of democratic republicanism. The Papal States on the Italian Peninsula represented one of the last vestiges of one-man-rule tyranny. In the midst of this revolution was an incident that became an international symbol of the struggle between the old rule versus the new.

In this excellent book, the author describes in detail the “Mortara Case.” In 1858, in the city of Bologna, which was part of the Papal States, information reached the office of the Roman Catholic Holy Inquisition that a six-year-old Jewish boy had been baptized as a baby by the family’s Catholic servant. Church law forbade that a “Christian” child could be raised by Jews. With permission from the Vatican, the inquisitor directed the civil magistrates to forcibly remove the boy from his family. The child, Edgardo Mortara, was immediately sent to Rome to be raised and indoctrinated into the Catholic religion by clerics. The abduction of Jewish children who had been secretly baptized was not uncommon.

Edgardo’s father strongly protested the kidnapping of his son. Such acts had been accepted as prerogatives of the Catholic majority in previous generations, but as Western Europe moved increasingly toward democracy, the affront became an unacceptable symbol of old rule. Jewish communities around the world were galvanized via their own newspapers. Ambassadors of many national governments lodged complaints with the “Holy See.” In the United States, Protestant pastors and journalists pointed to the Mortara Case as an example of the depravity of the papacy and Catholic system. Champions of Italian unification used the incident as a cause célèbre in the effort to relieve pope Pius IX of his significant territorial holdings (approx. 7000 sq. mi). Despite the mounting international outrage, Pius resisted returning Edgardo to his parents and actually took a personal role in raising the the boy (Edgardo eventually entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1873). When Italian military forces of the “Risorgimento” captured Rome in 1870, pope Pius IX reacted by excommunicating everyone who participated in or assisted the “rebellion.”

This is an excellent history of a very sordid affair. The author successfully juxtaposes the heartbreaking predicament of Edgardo’s parents and the father’s determined but unsuccessful efforts to rescue his son alongside the growing international pressure against the pope and his arbitrary religiosity. The author did his homework. The references to various records and testimonies are voluminous. Perhaps the only drawback to the book is the thirty-one pages devoted to the unrelated investigation and trial of Edgardo’s father on murder charges in 1871. The material detracts from the main topic, but it’s not a show-stopper.

This book was a finalist in the 1997 National Book Awards. Steven Spielberg is currently developing the story of the Mortara Case into a feature film.

Most contemporary Catholics would view the Mortara Case as an embarrassment and a product of “unenlightened, sectarian religiosity.” But how do today’s conservative Catholic apologists explain their church’s institutional anti-Semitism, which was advanced by allegedly Holy Spirit-guided popes and prelates and included the abduction of Edgardo Mortara from his parents that was personally upheld by the “Vicar of Christ”? They’ve shown they can shamelessly rationalize away every unflattering sensibility and event in their church’s past.

Postscript: In 1998, John Paul II became the first pope to issue an apology to Jews for all of the Catholic priests, prelates, and infallible popes of previous generations who promoted and supported anti-Jewish persecution. Click on the link below for a very recent story regarding pope Francis’ apologies for the anti-Semitism of popes and prelates in the past:

Catholics must continue seeking pardon for anti-Judaism, pope says
https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2019/01/16/catholics-must-continue-seeking-pardon-for-anti-judaism-pope-says/

Conservative Catholics rage over pope Francis’s “Paradigm Shift”

Pope Francis’s Paradigm Shift: Continuity or Rupture in the Mission of the Church: An Assessment of His Pontificate’s First Five Years
By Jose Antonio Ureta
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 2018, 207 pages

For several months after Jorge “Francis” Bergoglio was elected pope in 2013, Catholics were pleased that their new “pontiff” seemed to be a personable fellow who was taking a decidedly pastoral approach in comparison to his austere predecessor, Benedict XVI. But Francis’ impromptu airplane press conferences along with other statements soon had conservative Catholics on high alert. By 2016, with his Amoris Laetitia encyclical in which Francis guilefully lifted the ban on communion for remarried divorcees, it was clear to all conservative Catholics that Francis was working to “reform” the church according to a liberal, progressive agenda.

Conservative misgivings about Francis began as published articles of concern here and there and eventually grew to strong protest. In 2018, a spate of books were penned by conservative Catholic authors protesting Francis’ heterodoxy (see here), and we can add to the growing collection with this latest contribution, “Pope Francis’s Paradigm Shift.”

Author, Jose Ureta, a conservative layman, does an excellent job of summarizing the heterodoxy of the first five years of the pope’s tenure including chapters devoted to Francis’ promotion of the following:

  • Neo-Marxism
  • Green Agenda
  • Accord with Islam while minimizing Islamic anti-(c)histian persecution
  • Religious indifferentism and relevatism
  • Subjective morality without absolute imperatives
  • Lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees
  • Adapting to revolutionary and anti-(c)hristian modernity

Francis’ determined crusade to increasingly align the church with liberal, progressive ideologies has thrown the church into a tizzy. Doctrines and traditions previously held as unchangeable are being altered. Conservative prelates are being “retired” or reassigned to inconsequential, honorary posts. Francis’ heterodoxy is forcing Catholic conservatives to reexamine and redefine their cherished claims regarding the infallibility of popes and the alleged inability of a pope to lead the church into doctrinal error.

In the book’s conclusion, Ureta advises his Catholic readers to ignore the pope and remain faithful to traditional Catholic teaching, using the analogy of a wife of an abusive husband, who remains married, but separates from him for her safety. Folks, this is an extraordinary development, with Catholics being advised to ignore their pope. The ramifications are tremendous and foundation-shattering.

This short but extremely well-referenced book is an excellent resource for evangelical Vatican-watchers who desire to understand the growing crisis within Catholicism regarding the Francis papacy.

To my Catholic friends, this current crisis reveals that your church’s many claims about the papacy are without foundation. Many of your church’s other teachings are also man-made traditions without Biblical support. Come out of Roman Catholicism and turn to Jesus Christ, the unchanging Rock.

Are Roman Catholics Christian?
https://carm.org/are-roman-catholics-christian

Conservative Catholic journalist attacks “corrupt and cowardly” Catholic bishops in response to scandal tsunami

The Smoke of Satan: How Corrupt and Cowardly Bishops Betrayed Christ, His Church, And The Faithful…And What We Can Do About It
By Philip F. Lawler
TAN Books, 2018, 202 pages

In this era of increasing ecumenism, some of the most vocal critics of Roman Catholicism are to be found, not within evangelicalism, but within the Catholic church itself. Conservative and traditionalist Catholics are increasingly at odds with reform-minded, pope Francis, and his progressive allies.

Conservative Catholic journalist, Philip Lawler, wrote a searing critique of Francis, “Lost Shepherd: How Pope Francis is Misleading His Flock,” that was published earlier this year. See my review here. In “The Smoke of Satan,” Lawler sets his sights on the American bishops and especially their role in the current pedophile priests and cover-up scandal tsunami.

Lawler takes the tack of many other conservatives and traditionalists; that the vagueries of Vatican II afforded liberal and modernist prelates the chance to scale back some of the voluminous and precise legalism and ritualism that dogmatists like the author love so much. Accusations against the bishops by Lawler include:

  • Suppression of the truth and tolerance of dishonesty became commonplace in order to shield the church from scandal.
  • Heresies promoted by heterodox theologians were increasingly tolerated.
  • The bishops were in a state of constant denial as the church began a spiral of decline following Vatican II.
  • Liberal Catholic relativism began to supplant cherished conservative militancy.
  • Post-conciliar Catholicism is best known for contraction, not for expansion.
  • The church seeks to make friends with secularism, rather than energetically oppose it.
  • Bishops and their priests set the bar far too low. The laity flout mandatory church requirements – obligatory attendance at mass, confession, ban on contraceptives, no premarital cohabitation – with no admonishment by the clergy.

Lawler examines the details of the now-infamous “Summer of 2018,” when the twenty-year-old pedophile priests and cover-up scandal began to crescendo into a tsunami. At the end of the book, the author provides some suggestions on how conservative lay Catholics can help turn their parish and diocese back toward militant conservatism.

Lawler stumbles badly in this book by not addressing Catholicism’s rule of clerical celibacy that directly led to the sexual abuse of children and teenagers by deviant priests, but it’s to be expected that the author would not criticize the celibacy rule that’s cherished by conservatives. It’s also interesting to me that Lawler takes the current American bishops to task for their role in the most recent chapter of this scandal, but makes no mention of “saint” John Paul II and other beloved conservative prelates who also shielded sexually predatory clerics. Celibate priests had been abusing children and also adults for centuries prior to the advent of independent investigative journalism.

The fact that we’re now seeing all of these books critical of the Catholic church from disaffected conservative Catholics is quite astounding. Lay Catholics have always obediently deferred to their pope and his bishops. The hierarchy WAS the church. Recent headlines have up-ended the old paradigm and conservative Catholics hope a return to pre-conciliar militantism will save their church. In contrast, Francis and his progressive allies see further liberalization of Catholic doctrine as the only means for their church to survive.

None of the above has anything to do with the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The individuals who comprise the various camps within Roman Catholicism are so busy defending their specific shade of religious ritualism and legalism that they don’t see their personal sinful depravity and their absolute need of the Savior. Catholic friend, repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

Catholic radio apologist advises listeners to ignore pope Francis

I listen to Catholic talk-radio for about one hour each work day. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but it helps me to stay abreast of what’s going on in the RCC. Last week, I was listening to the 10/10/18 podcast of the EWTN “Called to Communion” Catholic talk-radio show (see far below) featuring moderator, Tom Price, and host, David Anders (above photo), and some controversial subject matter was broached, which doesn’t happen all that often on this show, which openly aims to convert Protestants.

At the 8:54 mark, Jerry, a Roman Catholic from St. Louis, called into the show and in his remarks he expressed that he was quite disturbed about the current pedophile priest and cover-up scandal and also made mention of archbishop Carlo Vigano’s highly publicized accusation that, in 2013 against Vigano’s advice, pope Francis had overturned restrictions previously placed upon pedophile cardinal, Ted McCarrick, by pope Benedict XVI, thus making himself complicit in McCarrick’s crimes. Jerry also claimed that Francis’ censure of conservative cardinal, Raymond Burke, was part of the pope’s campaign to “liberalize the church.” As would be expected, show moderator, Tom Price, became increasingly agitated by Jerry’s remarks and interrupted him twice. Show host, David Anders, then responded to Jerry’s concerns, in effect saying that Catholics need to focus on the church overall as a historic and consistent witness to the (Catholic) gospel rather than reacting to a passing scandal or the controversial teachings of Francis or any other individual prelate. Anders’ obsfucation is the standard public response these days by conservative Catholics to concerns about the scandal and Francis’ heterodoxy. The real question is, why is the pope still claimed to be infallible in matters of faith and morals when conservative spokespersons advise the laity to ignore him?

The above segment featuring Anders’ obligatory non-response to Jerry’s concerns was certainly interesting and was worthy of a post by itself, but as I continued to listen to the podcast I came across another noteworthy segment. At the 27:29 mark, Mike, a Catholic living in Dallas, called in with questions about Francis’ change to the Catholic catechism regarding capital punishment. The catechism had previously stated that the death penalty was allowable in rare circumstances, but on August 2nd, Francis changed the text to read that the death penalty is  “inadmissible under any circumstances.”  Mike wanted to know if Texas governor and Roman Catholic, Gregory Abbott, could morally uphold the death penalty as he had done previous to Francis’ August 2nd announcement? Anders had stumbled about with a stutter-laced response to a similar question two months ago (see here), but this time he was much more resolute. Anders opined that the allowance of the death penalty had been the licit teaching of the church for two thousand years, therefore Francis’ ban could only be his personal, prudential judgement rather than a dogmatic ruling on faith and that Catholics were therefore free to ignore it. As is standard practice throughout conservative Catholicism these days, the advice is to ignore the pope when he deviates from conservative and traditional teaching. Again I ask, why is the pope still claimed to be infallible in matters of faith and morals when he contradicts the teaching of previously infallible popes and conservative spokespersons advise the laity to ignore him?

 

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 27 & 28: Papal Authority and Succession?

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

Citing the two passages below, Armstrong argues for “St. Peter as the rock and possessor of the keys of the kingdom”:

#27) “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:18-19

#28) ” In that day I will call my servant Eli′akim the son of Hilki′ah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” – Isaiah 22:20-22

Directly beneath the two passages, Armstrong writes, “Many Protestants are uncomfortable with Matthew 16:18-19, first because of its extraordinary implications for St. Peter’s preeminence as the supreme earthly head of the Church, or Pope, which he was appointed by our Lord Jesus himself….Furthermore, the passage also expresses indefectability: the idea that the (institutional, historical) Church founded by Jesus can never be overcome by the powers of darkness; that it will always preserve the true Christian teaching handed down by Jesus to the Apostles.” – pp. 55-56

I addressed Rome’s self-serving, misinterpretation of Matthew 16:18-19 in a post only four months ago (see here), so I present the same, slightly-edited material below:

In its efforts to bolster its claims regarding the alleged supremacy of the bishop of Rome, the pope, Roman Catholicism had to scour Scripture looking for validating proof texts. They found their primary “evidence” in Matthew 16:18-19.

Catholic apologists argue that the passage teaches that Jesus promised to build his church upon the apostle, Peter, who they claim was the first bishop of Rome, but Protestants disagree. In the original Greek text, the word used for Peter is “petros,” which means a small stone or pebble, while the word used for rock is “petra,” which means a massive rock formation. Jesus was using a play on words to indicate that while Simon was an insecure, rolling pebble, the truth that he had proclaimed, that Jesus was the long-promised Messiah and Savior, would be the massive, unmoveable truth that would be the bedrock foundation of the church.

But Protestants are not the only ones who correctly exegete this passage. Church “fathers,” Augustine, Chrysostom, Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa, and Cyril also interpreted Matthew 16:18-19 to mean that Jesus was going to build His church upon the truth proclaimed by Peter; that He was the long-awaited Messiah and Savior.

“Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter’s confession. What is Peter’s confession? ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ There’s the rock for you, there’s the foundation, there’s where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer.” – Augustine from “The Works of Saint Augustine” (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Vol. 6, Sermon 229P.1, p. 327.

But an even more convincing case against Catholicism’s misinterpretation is Scripture itself. As in most cases with God’s Word, one passage of Scripture clarifies another and that is the case for Matthew 16. Just four chapters later we find:

“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:20-28

If Jesus had already granted apostolic primacy to Peter in Matthew 16 as Catholics claim, then why would James and John have requested apostolic primacy in Matthew 20? Does not compute. If Catholics are right, James and John would not have bothered to request apostolic primacy as they had. We see in the passage that Jesus gently rebukes James and John for their ambition and also forbids the Catholic notions of apostolic primacy and an ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Further, in the apostle Paul’s epistles, not only is there NO mention of Peter’s alleged primacy – zero, zip, zilch, nada – but he deliberately contradicts the notion:

“And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.” – Galatians 2:6

Peter was certainly a leader of the apostles and was used by God to spread the Gospel, but he was not the pope or the foundation of Jesus’ church.

Regarding the other claims Armstrong makes with these passages, Jesus states only two chapters later that the keys of the kingdom, the authority to bind and loose, were given not just to Peter, but to all of Christ’s disciples:

“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 18:18

What is the power to bind and loosen? As caretakers of the Gospel, the apostles and disciples were charged to spread the Good News throughout the world by which Heaven would be opened to all those who trusted in Christ.

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:18

Since this post is already at 1200 words, I’ll respond to Armstrong’s assertion that Matthew 16:18 teaches the “indefectability” of the Catholic church by referring readers to my previous post on the topic here.

While Armstrong points to Matthew 16:18-19 and Isaiah 22:20-22 as irrefutable “Catholic verses” that support Catholicism’s claim for Petrine primacy, we find upon examination that the claim is without merit.

I am indebted to the articles below for this post:

What are the keys of the kingdom?

Is Peter supreme among the Apostles?

The Papacy: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Absolute Power: How the Pope Became the Most Influential Man in the World
By Paul Collins
Public Affairs Publishing, 2018, 367 pages

In the past six months, I have read and reviewed several books from conservative Catholic authors that were very critical of the controversial papacy of Jorge “Francis” Bergoglio. Liberal Catholic and ex-priest, Paul Collins, takes the opposite tack.

The year was 1799 and the Roman Catholic papacy had reached its absolute nadir. Giovanni Angelo Braschi aka pope Pius VI died in the citadel of Valence, France as a prisoner of forces commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte. How did the papacy survive and eventually thrive to the point where the pope is now the most recognizable  and influential man in the world? In this fascinating book, Collins assesses how the beleaguered papacy ascended from the ashes to astonishing worldly heights.

The Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the spread of Democratic Republicanism, and the introduction of Communism and Socialism forced the popes into a defensive position. Deprived of the Papal States and most of their temporal authority, the popes of the 19th Century were able to focus on marshalling Europe’s conservative/traditionalist Catholic population who yearned for social stability and even retrenchment. Some of the results were the now-embarrassing condemnation of democracy and religious freedom in pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors in 1864, the dogmatic definition of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council in 1870, also sponsored by Pius IX, and the condemnation of religious freedom aka “Americanism” by pope Leo XIII in 1899.

Popes navigated the church through the perilous first-half of the 20th Century with its two world wars, always looking to advance the church’s temporal and ecclesial advantages. In perhaps one of the last major acts of militant Catholic triumphalism, pope Pius XII defined the assumption of Mary as dogma in 1950.

John XXIII was elected pope in 1958 and he ushered in an openness to liberal reform within the church with his Second Vatican Council. Collins is quite forthright in his admiration for John XXIII. The church seemed to flounder for a period, unhinged from its traditional conservatism, but John Paul II and Benedict XII were able to return the church back to conservative intransigence in their crusades to “reform the reform.” Collins sees in the current pope, Francis, another John XXIII-type who is attempting to once again move the church forward in accord with the agenda of the church’s liberal/progressive faction.

Competing church politics aside, Collins records in some detail how John XXIII, John Paul II, and now, Francis, were able to manipulate the worldwide media in order to advanceCapture38 the profile and “soft” power of the papacy.

Catholics are taught to think of their church’s hierarchy in hagiographic terms with all prelates in harmonious union with the pope, and infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit. As Collins makes very clear throughout this book, Vatican politics contrastingly have been cutthroat and motivated by the acquisition and preservation of influence and power.

Pope Francis and the Catholic church are currently overrun by scandal. How will Francis and the church respond? In the end, could these current challenges further democratize and decentralize the church, which is the ultimate goal of Francis and his liberal allies? A less autocratic and dogmatic papacy would actually be a huge benefit to the cause of ecumenism and interfaith dialogue (with the pope still in the driver’s seat).

I highly recommended this book to evangelical Vatican-watchers and to incredulous Roman Catholics who suspect there is more going on within their church than what the folks at Catholic Answers and EWTN are letting on.

Catholic archbishop accuses pope Francis of covering up abuse, demands he resign.

I normally collect news stories over the course of the week and post them as part of the Weekend Roundup, but every once and awhile a story is so important, like this one, that it cannot wait.

Following closely on the heels of the news of U.S. cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, being stripped of his office due to allegations of sexual abuse, and then the pedophile priest and cover-up tsunami in Pennsylvania, we have another disturbing but unsurprising revelation. According to the story below, which is breaking across all major news outlets, archbishop, Carlo Maria Viganò (above photo, left), the former Vatican nuncio (ambassador) to the United States, claims to have informed pope Francis in 2013 that cardinal McCarrick had sexually abused children, seminarians, and priests, but that Francis did absolutely nothing. Viganò is calling for Francis to resign.

The Catholic hierarchy is corrupt from top to bottom.

I’ll be posting follow-ups to the story in the Weekend Roundup if not sooner.

Pope Francis Long Knew of Cardinal’s Abuse and Must Resign, Archbishop Says