During Francis’ visit to Chile this past January, the pope committed an incredible blunder by reacting in anger to victims of priest pedophiles who have gone public and referring to them as “slanderers.” Chilean Catholics are livid over the church hierarchy’s cover-up of abusive priests and the pope’s gaffe added fuel to the fire. The Vatican has been in damage control mode ever since.
Last week, the Chilean bishops were summoned to the Vatican (photo above) and Francis accused them of “failing to investigate complaints of abuse, allowing evidence to be destroyed, and covering up for abusive priests by moving them from place to place.” Francis said the systemic failures had left him “perplexed and ashamed.” On Friday, all 34 of the national bishops offered their resignations, an unprecedented occurrance in the history of Romanism. How many resignations will Francis accept? Stay tuned. The takeaway is that Francis needs to throw some bishops under the bus in an attempt to exonerate himself after his misstep. This pedophile scandal has been dogging the Catholic church for twenty years but is uncorrectable because celibacy both attracts and fosters deviancy. One of the commentators on the Catholic radio show I was listening to today stated that it’s well-known that the Chilean Catholic clergy are rife with homosexuals, but that’s no different than here in the U.S.
In addition to dressing down the bishops, Francis met with some of the victims of the abuse in Chile including the main whistle-blower, Juan Carlos Cruz, a self-professed homosexual.
It’s reported that Francis told the man: “Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you.”
The statement is contrary to official Catholic teaching, which teaches that homosexual inclinations are unnatural and sinful if pursued.
The conservative Catholic pundits I listened to were quick to point out that the statement was only alleged, but given Francis’ radical comments in the past they hedged their bets and added that the pope’s private conversations are not official teaching and are not binding on anyone. For many conservative Catholics, Francis’ papacy can’t end soon enough. LGBTQ organizations are reacting to the pope’s alleged comments with high praise.
I grew up during a very tumultuous time for Roman Catholics, during the implementation of the dramatic window dressing changes of Vatican II, and I’d like to share a few memories from that time.
Prior to Vatican II, all Catholic altars had a wooden or carved stone rail around them. The rail signified that the altar, where the priests allegedly changed bread wafers and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and where surplus consecrated Jesus wafers were stored in the “tabernacle,” was an especially holy area. Just as the “common” Israelites were forbidden from stepping foot on Mt. Sinai or entering into the restricted areas of the Tabernacle and Temple, Catholics were generally not allowed to enter the altar area.
I was an altar boy from fifth through eighth grades and my first couple of years serving were prior to the Vatican II changes. The priests conducted the mass in Latin and the altar boys’ responses were in Latin even though we did not understand one word we were saying. The priests had their backs to the congregation and wooden rails were around the altar. I felt very privileged to be able assist the priests inside the restricted altar area.
Several men officiated as priests at the parish while I was an altar server and all of them struck me as a bit strange compared to my father, uncles, and other adult men I knew, but none more so than “father” Lynch.
The other priests at least made awkward attempts at civility towards us altar boys, but not Lynch. When we entered the church sacristy to prepare for mass, Lynch could barely be bothered to say hello. He never offered a smile. I sensed he had a keen dislike for us (or was he struggling with some other issue?). During the mass liturgy, the priests were required to read passages from the huge altar “missal” (i.e., a liturgical book containing all instructions and texts necessary for the celebration of Mass throughout the year). Lynch was a short, squat fellow and very near-sighted. He would have us boys stand on one of the lower steps leading up to the altar and he would place the huge, heavy book on our heads, not always gently, which he would then read from. It was very humiliating (and physically uncomfortable) to have to stand in front of the congregation with the heavy book on our heads. Lynch enjoyed demeaning us.
When it came time to distribute the Jesus wafers, the supplicants would kneel down along the altar rail and the priests would place the wafer on each person’s tongue while we altar boys walked backward, next to the priest, placing a round “patten” under the chins of the supplicant in order to catch a possible falling Jesus wafer. Lynch would always distribute communion twice as fast as the other priests and we altar boys had a difficult time keeping our balance as we walked backward and tried to properly position the patten under people’s chins in synch with the pace of the frenetic priest.
Vatican II dramatically changed the rubrics of the mass. The mass liturgy was changed to English and priests turned around and faced the congregation. The altar rails were removed so that the congregants could feel like they were more like participants in the ritual rather than just observers. But despite all the window dressing changes, the core doctrines of Catholicism remained. Catholics continue to be taught the false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Catholic traditionalists deeply resented the changes wrought by Vatican II and still clamor for the mass to be said in Latin, for the priest to face “ad orientem,” toward the altar, and for the reinstallation of altar rails. In Catholicism, the ritual and ceremony, the shell, has always been the focus rather than the Pearl of Great Price, which is salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Priests are not needed. Altars are not needed. Sacrifice for sin was finished for all time by Jesus Christ at Calvary. Place your trust in Jesus as your Savior by faith alone. Jesus Christ removes all rails and barriers between sinners and God, but you must accept Him as your Savior. Won’t you repent of your sin and place your trust in Him?
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” – Matthew 27:50-51
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” – Ephesians 2:13-14
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
* “and such like” – for you non-Baptists out there, this phrase means “and similar things.”
Yesterday morning on my drive into work, I was listening to the news on the car radio and the story far below broke about retired Buffalo Catholic priest, the “Reverend” Norbert F. Orsolits (photo), who admitted to sexually abusing “probably dozens” of teenage boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Between 1966 and 2003, the Buffalo diocese reassigned Orsolitis to 12 different locations, no doubt hoping a change of venue would hush the possibility of open scandal while each time exposing a new set of children to this insatiable predator. If Orsolits is admitting to abusing “dozens” of boys, was the actual number somewhere around 50? 75? 100?
Argh! A boy growing up in Catholicism was/is like a mackerel swimming unawares in shark-infested waters.
I’ve heard Catholic apologists make the claim that pedophilia is no more prevalent among priests than other study groups. Yeah, right. Catholic sociologist, A.W. Richard Sipe, who has done extensive work on the subject, suggests that 8-10 percent of priests were/are active pedophile abusers. Sipe concludes that Catholicism’s mandatory rule of celibacy has both attracted and fostered deviancy and that Catholicism as an institution has never seriously addressed the “problem,” but rather, has enabled these serial abusers. Here’s Sipe’s article:
So, what do we have here? Oh, just another story of a pedophile priest. Some may think, “Ho-hum. What else is new?,” but the reality is that each and every one of the thousands of victims is a soul who must live with and sort through the pain of being betrayed by someone they respected and trusted. As I wade through Catholic news on a daily basis, I routinely encounter these stories of priest abuse.
Every soul needs to come out of the Roman Catholic church and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. All Bible Christians must continue to reach out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel because they do not hear it in their churches. The Catholic church’s rule of celibacy has brought horrendous emotional pain to many of its members, but the church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit is the broad highway to even worse consequences.
Yesterday morning, I was listening to the 1/10/18 podcast of “The Catholic Connection” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF (Our Lady of Fatima) 101.7 FM, Buffalo, New York) with moderator, Jim Havens, and priest-host, Shannon Collins. The stated purpose of “The Catholic Connection” is to confront the current “confusion” and non-traditional doctrine within the church (e.g., just about everything that comes out of pope Francis’s mouth).
The topic for this particular show was the mandatory rule of celibacy for the priesthood. A few months ago, it was reported that pope Francis had appointed a committee to investigate the possibility of ordaining married men as priests, specifically in areas like the Amazon region of Brasil, where the ratio of church members to priests is about 10,000 to one. In opposition to Francis, Collins cited pope after pope in his argument that celibacy must be continued as an absolute rule with no exceptions. He cited the decline of vocations among Eastern Orthodox churches in the U.S., even though they allow their priests to marry. Collins warned that if an exception is made in the Amazon, it will only be a matter of time before the rule of mandatory celibacy is abolished.
Of course, we know from Scripture that some of the apostles had wives. Yes, apostle Paul encouraged those who had the gift to serve the Lord as a single person, but he did not make celibacy a mandatory rule as does Catholicism. See here.
How did obligatory celibacy get its start in the Catholic church? Some of the motivation was pure economics. In 1018, pope Benedict VIII decreed that children of married priests were barred from inheriting church property. In 1075, pope Gregory VII ruled that clerical celibacy was a requirement of the priesthood. In 1139, pope Innocent II declared the marriages of all priests to be formally annulled, mandating that celibacy be the rule for all Catholic priests going forward.
[pause for effect]
Did you catch that?
The many priests who were married at the time of Innocent’s decree were required to leave their wives and children. Contemplate that for just one moment. What could be crueler?
With God-ordained marriage forbidden to clerics, natural sexual urges were vented in sinful ways. As we know from history, the rule of celibacy was often flouted. Priests, bishops, and popes had their mistresses and it was recorded that 16th century Rome had more prostitutes per capita (six percent of the population) than any city on earth at that time.* Catholic seminaries both attracted and fostered deviancy. Studies report that homosexuality is rife in the Catholic priesthood.** The scandal of pedophile priests has rocked the church for the last twenty years, but it goes without saying that “celibate” clerical predators preyed on victims for centuries prior to the establishment of the free press and journalistic investigations.
But let’s put things in perspective. This matter of mandatory clerical celibacy is a minor one in comparison to Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Jesus Christ did away with the sacerdotal priesthood by His once-for-all sacrifice for sin on Calvary. There is no longer any need for priests and altars. Individuals may receive the free gift of salvation by repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. That being said, Catholicism’s rule of celibacy for its clerics has been a source of unimaginable sin, torment, and shame for the millions who have taken the vow over the centuries and for their victims.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-5
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…” – 1 Timothy 3:1-2
The Vatican just announced the death of cardinal Bernard Law (photo left) at the age of 86 (see article below). Remember him? Law was the archbishop of Boston when the priest pedophile scandal was first widely reported by the press in 2002. Investigations revealed that Law and other members of the Catholic hierarchy had been involved in covering up the widespread abuse and shuffling predatory priests from parish to parish where they were able to continue to prey on countless victims. Two priests with their actual young victims are shown in the photos above next to Law.
Law resigned his position in ignominy in 2002 (although he was predictably never formally charged with a crime) and moved to Rome where “saint” pope John Paul II appointed him Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, a largely ceremonial position with few responsibilities.
Although Catholic apologists have attempted to diffuse the pedophile priest and cover-up scandal ever since, the membership’s confidence in its leadership was shaken to the core. The church’s rule of celibacy both attracted and incubated deviancy on a large scale. The membership not only took notice of the pedophile scandal and cover-up, but they were also very aware that “father” was often of a decidedly effeminate nature.
I firmly believe the Lord marked the Catholic church with this scandal as a sign of its illegitimacy and His judgement against it. No earthly man or group of men can be our spiritual standard. Only the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word can be our standard. The Catholic church claims to revere Scripture, yet pushes it to the side in favor of its traditions and magisterium. The Lord has revealed the error of both with the pedophile priest and cover-up scandal and the Amoris Laetitia controversy in which pope Francis has abrogated “infallible” doctrine by lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees.
Pray for Roman Catholics, that they will hear the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and accept Christ as their Savior.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “’How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” – Romans 10:14-15
Is Bernard Law now in Hell being punished for his terrible sins? I don’t know. Perhaps he forsook works religion on his death bed, repented of his sins, and accepted Christ as his Savior by faith alone. We are all sinners and worthy of eternal punishment. Praise the Lord for salvation in Jesus Christ by faith alone and His perfect righteousness that He imputes to all those who accept Him! Accept Christ!
It’s been several months since posting a review of one of Elia Kazan’s films, so it’s time to get back on track with the director’s fifteenth and last profitable project.
Splendor in the Grass
Directed by Elia Kazan and featuring Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, and Audrey Christie
Warner Bros., 1961, 124 minutes
After the dismal commercial failures of his three previous films (the so-called “Southern Trilogy”), Kazan turned to popular playwright, William Inge, for a box-office-friendly teenage melodrama.
Arthur “Bud” Stamper (Beatty) and Wilma Dean “Deanie” Loomis (Wood) are king and queen of their high school in 1928 Kansas and madly in love. Bud is from a wealthy family and the top jock on campus (although not a gifted student), while Deanie is from a much more modest background, but is one of the school’s most attractive and popular girls. Together, they’re an ideal couple, but must increasingly battle the temptation to become more intimate. Deanie’s materialistic mother (Christie) counsels her daughter to remain chaste because Bud is the “catch of a lifetime” and he surely wouldn’t marry a “bad girl.” In the meantime, Bud tells his Type-A-on-steroids father, Ace Stamper (Hingle), that he can no longer fight lustful temptations, so he’s determined to marry Deanie immediately after graduation and run the family ranch, but the small town oil baron insists that academically-challenged Bud go to Yale in order prepare himself to take the oil business to the next level. Bud’s scandalously immoral older sister, Ginny (Barbara Loden), has brought shame to the Stamper name and Ace hopes Bud can redeem the family’s reputation.
Recognizing that he can no longer control himself, Bud cools the relationship with “good girl,” Deanie, but lets off some steam with Juanita (Jan Norris), the school “floozy,” thereby humiliating Deanie, and sending her into an emotional breakdown. Somewhat recovered and desperate to win back her boyfriend, she forces herself on Bud, but he rejects her uncharacteristic advances. Deanie becomes so distraught, she attempts suicide. As Deanie teeters on the verge of a complete mental collapse, her doctor advises an anxious Bud to end all contact for her health’s sake.
Bud goes to Yale, but his heart isn’t in it and he’s failing all of his subjects. An Italian waitress, Angelina (Zohra Lampert), befriends him in his lovesick misery. His father visits Yale in an attempt to rally Bud, but ends up jumping from a New York City skyscraper when the stock market crash of 1929 totally destroys his business. In the meantime, Deanie is sent to a sanitarium to recover her mental and emotional stability. There, she befriends a male patient and a lukewarm romance blooms. When Deanie is released after a long, thirty-month stay, she returns home, and immediately asks to see Bud to determine if there’s any spark left in their relationship. She visits Bud on his struggling ranch and learns he’s married to Angelina, with one infant child and another on the way. Disappointed but not broken, Deanie stoically commits to going forward with her life, finding “strength in what remains behind.”
“Splendor” resonated with audiences across the country. Inge won an Oscar for his screenplay (Kazan had a large amount of input) while Wood was nominated for her performance. This was Beatty’s film debut, another notable “find” for Kazan. Hingle’s full-throttle performance is quite memorable but skirts with being “over the top.” Most of the movie was shot around New York City.
I first watched “Splendor” when I was in my early teens and was floored by the unorthodox conclusion (the attached video captures the final 3.5 minutes). Kazan stated in later interviews that the last reel was his favorite of all of his films. It certainly wasn’t a stereotypical Hollywood ending. Two characters in love are supposed to live “happily ever after,” but real life is never so orderly, which is why “Splendor” struck a chord. I remember being quite smitten with the lovely and vulnerable Deanie character, probably like many of the film’s teenage male viewers. The startling uniqueness of this film launched my decades-long study of its director.
The two DVD’s of “Splendor in the Grass” released by Warner Brothers unfortunately provide no commentary or remarkable bonus features.
Trivia alert: Screenwriter, Bill Inge, has a small role as a Protestant minister saddened by the spiritual emptiness of his church’s biggest contributor, Ace Stamper.
Additional thoughts from a Christian believer
Kazan was a Marxist atheist who rebelled against religious and societal norms of morality. Perhaps more than any of his previous films, Kazan used “Splendor” to attack “middle-class materialism” and “puritanical morality.” Antagonists Ace Stamper and Mrs. Loomis are presented as the duplicitous enemies of the pure love of their children. Bud and Deanie struggle to adhere to their parents’ hypocritical moral code, ultimately destroying their love.
“Splendor” was somewhat revolutionary in its day for its exploration of teenage sexuality, but by today’s standards it hardly raises an eyebrow. It’s interesting to note that Leftist crusader, Kazan, carried on an affair with Loden throughout the filming of “Splendor,” returning to his wife and children each evening at his comfortable estate in the tony suburb of Newtown, Connecticut. Hypocrisy?
Christians understand we cannot satisfy the ultimate moral code, the Ten Commandments. But God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. He conquered sin and death and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone. As Christians, we attempt to follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly. As a teenager, I struggled with sexual temptation. Those hormones were firing like a well-tuned 350 V-8 engine. It’s a common experience, right? These days, teens are experiencing even greater pressure to give in to temptation at an even earlier age. The Lord gave us guidelines for a reason. To protect our physical and emotional well being and the well being of others. Rampant premarital and extramarital sexuality have led to all kinds of individual and social problems. Perhaps the church would have done better to present sexuality positively, as a natural and wonderful gift of God for married couples, rather than negatively, as something dirty and not to be spoken of. After all, The Song of Solomon is in the Bible. But a person must accept Christ as Savior before they can follow Him in obedience.
Natalie Wood left her then-husband, Robert Wagner, for co-star Beatty during the filming of “Splendor,” much to the delight of Kazan, who sought emotional reality from his actors. Wood would reunite with Wagner in 1972. She died under suspicious circumstances in 1981 while on an excursion on the Wagners’ boat, the ironically-named “Splendour.” William Inge committed suicide in 1973. Beatty would go on to achieve fame mainly as Hollywood’s celebrated #1 Lothario. But now they castigate Harvey Weinstein?
After watching “Splendor,” I can remember scrambling to the library to read William Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality” (1804), with the famous passage cited in the film:
Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind.
Scholars still debate whether Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a Christian. Most of his earlier poetry glorifies nature as a semi-deific force. Later poems displayed a much more orthodox Christian view. In his “Ode,” the poet admonished his readers to move forward with their lives rather than dwell in the past.
God’s Word has much to say about looking back. Believers are to focus on Christ and Christian service and not look back at the world’s temptations with desire.
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” – Philippians 3:13
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1: 24-25
See here for more Bible verses about looking forward in Christ.
This morning, I was listening to the 10/29/13 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show, broadcast by The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), featuring priest-host, Rick Poblocki, and moderator, Mike Denz.
About half-way through the show, Trish from Buffalo called in with a concern about her 14-year-old son. The boy’s religion class had been studying a passage from the Old Testament in which God had commanded the Israelites to kill all the inhabitants, including children, of the pagan Canaanite nations they were invading. The boy was upset by the passage and asked his mother, “How could a God who is all-loving, all-merciful, and all-forgiving wipe out a whole nation,” especially the children? The mother didn’t know how to answer, so she called Rick for advice.
Priest Rick explained that when ancient peoples fought over land, they invoked the help of their deities, just as Israel invoked Yaweh. He said the Israelites attributed to God the command to attack the Canaanites and credited Him for all their victories, but that God DIDN’T ACTUALLY command the attacks. Rick went on to say that the Israelites were looking for a way to justify their aggression, so they attributed it all to the will of God. In closing, Rick stated, “So they put then on the lips of God these commands to destroy even to the point of (murdering children),” because they had mistakenly understood that to be God’s will. Trish thanked Rick for his “wise” counsel.
Believers, see anything wrong with priest Rick’s Old Testament exegesis? Yes, God DID command the Israelites through his prophet, Moses, to wipe out the pagan peoples of Canaan. Yes, even children. God is sovereign. He brings new life into the world and takes life away. 150,000 people die each day in this world; men, women, and children. It’s not pretty but that’s the reality in this fallen world. The pots cannot tell the Potter how to manage the pots. God commanded the Israelites to destroy all the Canaanites because He didn’t want them to be ensnared by pagan idolatry. As we know, the Israelites disobeyed the Lord, spared many of the pagans, and did embrace pagan idolatry. But despite the continual disobedience of Israel and its ongoing dalliance with paganism, the Lord’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ prevailed. Praise God!
Like most Roman Catholic clerics, priest Poblocki has a very low view of Scripture. He stands on the traditions of his church, not on God’s Word. If his church’s man-made traditions and philosophies disagree with Scripture, a priest will choose his church over Scripture every time. Speaking of idolatry, just step inside a Catholic church. And speaking of murder, comparatively “enlightened” Roman Catholic prelates persecuted those outside the church right up into the 20th century. There were the crusades, the inquisitions, pogroms, forced baptisms, and murderous Catholic falangists. How does Rick explain all that to the 14-year-old?
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? – Isaiah 45:9
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35
I had been reading Deuteronomy 20 as part of my daily Scripture reading just yesterday, where God commands the Israelites to exterminate all the Canaanites. Coincidence? Hardly!
Postscript: Old Testament passages that deal with Israel’s fidelity to Yaweh are not dry, useless historical information, but are inspiration for Christians to also remain faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to His Gospel. But as we look around evangelicalism today, we sadly see plenty of accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal when it comes to false teachers and false gospels.
A few days ago, I was listening to the 8/8/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF [Our Lady of Fatima], 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), with this particular broadcast featuring Jesuit priest, Robert McTeigue, and moderator, Steve Quebral.
A variety of topics were discussed including the current controversy that’s raging throughout the church over the “Ad Orientem” question.
Ad Orientum? What exactly is that, you ask? Okay, allow me to share a little background information.
Back in the early 1960s, moderate and liberal Catholic prelates pushed for church practices to be modernized. The old, dusty rituals were done pretty much as they had been done for centuries, including the mass being conducted in Latin. “Who wants to sit through an hour-long liturgical ritual they can’t understand?,” they asked. Pope John XXIII obliged and called together the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which made several changes to the mass liturgy including, among other things, removing the altar rails, changing the language to the vernacular, and having the priest face the congregation instead of showing them his back. The new, modernized version of the mass was dubbed “Novus Ordo” or New Order. Conservative Catholics were enraged by these alterations, which seemed to them to make the mass less dignified and less “holy.” They were angry then and they’ve been angry ever since.
As I mentioned, one of the alterations to the mass was changing the posture of the priest from facing away from the congregants, i.e., “Ad Orientum” (literally, facing eastward toward the altar – older churches always had the entrance of the church at the west end) to facing the congregants (“Versus Populum” or facing the people). Conservatives know they cannot change all masses back to Latin (Latin masses were restored on a very limited basis in 2007 by pope Benedict XVI to appease conservatives) or reinstall communion rails, but they can fight for the priest to turn around 180 degrees as he says mass, as it was done before Vatican II. Last year, conservative cardinal Robert Sarah, who holds the position of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, urged priests and bishops to start celebrating masses “Ad Orientem” once again at regular, “Novus Ordo” masses. Pope Francis, hardly a fan of turning back the clock to pre-Vatican II days, quickly rejected Sarah’s appeal, but many conservative priests and bishops have taken up the “Ad Orientum” battle cry. Some have arbitrarily begun saying mass “Ad Orientum” once again.
In the “Calling All Catholics” segment, conservative Jesuit, McTeigue, spent quite a bit of time arguing for the return to the “Ad Orientum” posture.
If you’re an evangelical reading this post, you may wonder why all the fuss about which way the priest faces at mass. After all, wouldn’t it make sense for the priest to face the congregants? But this kind of debate over the intricate details of the liturgy is common within Catholicism. Every mass all over the world is supposed to follow the exact same prescribed formula. If a neglectful or rebellious priest deviates from the official script one iota, some pious retiree with too much time on his or her hands will be on the phone to the diocesan office within the hour. The lesson is, DO NOT mess with people’s rituals and traditions.
But in the big picture, it really doesn’t matter which way the priest faces during the mass because the entire liturgy of the mass is anti-Biblical. The priest does not actually change the bread wafer and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Neither does the priest actually offer the Jesus wafer and wine as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. Rather, God the Son, Jesus Christ, offered the perfect sacrifice for sin once and for all on the cross at Calvary and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for all those who accept Him as their Savior by faith alone. There is NO MORE sacrifice for sin as God’s Word plainly says:
“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
There’s nothing in the empty mass ritual that conveys that an individual must repent of their sins and come to Christ and receive Him as Savior personally by faith alone. For Catholics, the idol of ritualism takes the place of saving faith in Christ. Trust in Christ, not in rituals and religious legalism.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), revised in 1992, has 2865 numbered paragraphs full of man-made traditions. In addition, the church has many other traditions not even mentioned in its catechism as I recently noted with the Gregorian masses. I couldn’t find any statistics online but I would guess only a miniscule percentage of lay Catholics have read even a small portion of their CCC “owners manual.” Although the church claims Scripture, tradition, and its teaching magisterium all have equal authority, its traditions and magisterium trump Scripture every time.
After the jolt of Vatican II, Catholicism faced another crisis when pope Paul VI released his Humanae vitae encyclical in 1968, which insisted Catholics could not use birth control. Traditionalist Catholics view this declaration as infallible but it was bitter gall for people in the pews. Statistics show 98 percent of Catholic girls/women, ages 15-44, have used contraception. The fallout? If people won’t accept one illogical, man-made dogma (contraception is bad, the unreliable rhythm method is OK), they’ll turn their backs on others, also, and hence today only 20 percent of Catholics attend mandatory mass every Sunday.
In this revealing 1000-word article written to a Catholic mother on how to keep her son in the RC church, the name of Jesus is mentioned once. Only once! As usual, it’s all about the institution. One of the advisements is to “Encourage your children to have relationships with priests and religious.” You’ve got to be kidding! What loving parent would send their child into a viper’s den?
A small group of Catholic teachers and students received the Pentecostal/charismatic “gifts of the spirit” in 1967 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The Catholic charismatic movement now boasts 160 million members although the vast majority, including many priests, still believe in Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. “No need to join one of those charismatic outfits down the road where people take their religion seriously,” says the church. “We’ve got all the bases covered.”
Ontario appears to be on the cutting edge of liberal progressivism. First, they pass a law saying children can be removed from parents who oppose their transgenderism. And now, if you send your kid to a Christian/religious school, they can opt out of religion classes.
There’s a word in the dictionary named “Jesuitism.” This refers to the “casuistic” approach to moral questions and problems that developed and flourished within the religious order. Casuistic or casuistry refers to “specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality; fallacious or dishonest application of general principles; sophistry.” In layman’s terms, you can justify anything as long as it’s done for the “greater good.”
After thirty-years of “soul-searching” the RCC is still unable/unwilling to confront its pedophile priests crisis as evidenced by this latest chapter involving cardinal and papal confidant, George Pell.
How long can the RCC uphold its teaching on traditional marriage? Recent statistics show 67% of Catholics support gay marriage contrasted with 35% of White “evangelicals.” See here. I’m sure MANY liberal priests are already marrying gay Catholic couples on the QT.
I finally finished watching Netflix’s seven-part-series, “The Keepers,” about the unsolved murder of a young nun in 1969. Sister Cathy Cesnik taught at an all-girls’ Catholic high school in Baltimore, Maryland. She disappeared in November, 1969 and her decomposed body was found the following January. The murder was never solved but two retired alumni of the high school and former students of the nun have relentlessly attempted to identify the killer/s.
The facts show that Father Joseph Maskell, a chaplain at the high school, had sexually abused a large number of the students. One of the victims had confided in Sister Cesnik who took initial steps to expose Maskell but then disappeared. There’s little doubt that priest Maskell orchestrated Cesnik’s death even if he was not the murderer himself.
This is gut-wrenching stuff. The sexual abuse of multiple girls at Archbishop Keough High School by Maskell and another priest sickens the soul. Then there was the murder. And finally there was the cover-up of Maskell’s abuse by the Baltimore Archdiocese and its subsequent legal battles with the victims.
My heart breaks for the victims of Father Maskell and for all the other victims of abuse within the Catholic church. The church definitely perpetuated the abuse through its clerical celibacy rule and by moving known predators from one parish to the next. I’m also very saddened that the Catholic church deceives its members with a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit rather than teaching them the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
I highly recommend this series although it’s difficult to watch. But the truths it reveals are so important.
A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.
The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, in Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.
It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.