True Church Quizzes
(A Catholic Response to Protestant Objections concerning The One True Church)
By: Fathers Rumble and Carty
Radio Replies Press, St. Paul 1, Minnesota, U.S.A
Joannes Gregorius Murray
Archiepiscopus Sancti Pauli
1. What Is the Catholic idea of the Church of Christ ?
The Church is that visible society of men upon earth which was founded by Jesus Christ, guaranteed by Him to exist all days until the end of the world, and sent by Him to teach all nations with His own authority. It is one definite society for man’s spiritual good, and its members are bound together by the profession of the same and complete Christian faith, by the same Sacraments and worship, and by submission to the same spiritual authority vested in the successors of St. Peter- the present successor being the Bishop of Rome.
2. When did the Church established by Christ get the name Catholic ?
Christ left the adoption of a name for His Church to those whom He commissioned to teach all nations. Christ called the spiritual society He established, "My Church" (Mt. xvi, 18), "the Church" (Mt. xviii, 17). In order to make a distinction between the Church and the Synagogue and to have a distinguishing name from those embracing Judaic and Gnostic errors we find St. Ignatius (50-107 A.D.) using the Greek word "Katholicos" (universal) to describe the universality of the Church established by Christ. St. Ignatius was appointed Bishop of Antioch by St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome. It is in his writings that we find the word Catholic used for the first time. St. Augustine, when speaking about the Church of Christ, calls it the Catholic Church 240 times in his writings.
3. What positive proof have you that the Catholic Church is the only true Church ?
The proof, lies in the fact that the Catholic Church alone corresponds exactly to the exact religion established by Christ. Now the Christian religion is that religion which—
(a) Was founded by Christ personally;
(b) Has existed continuously since the time of Christ;
(c) Is Catholic or universal, in accordance with Christ's command to go to all the world and teach all nations;
(d) Demands that all her members admit the same doctrine;
(e) Exercises divine authority over her subjects,
since Christ said that if a man would not hear the
Church he would be as the heathen.
Now the Catholic Church alone can claim—
(a) To have been founded by Christ personally. All other Churches disappear as you go back through history. Christ said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church" (Matt. XVI, 18). There are many claimants to the honor of being Christ's Church. But among all non-Catholic Churches, we find one built on a John Wesley; another on a Martin Luther; another on a Mrs. Eddy, etc. But the Catholic Church alone can possibly claim to have been built on Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and one-time Bishop of Rome.
(b) To have existed in all the centuries since Christ.
(c) That every one of her members admits exactly the same essential doctrines.
(d) To be Catholic or universal.
(e) To speak with a voice of true authority in the name of God.
4. Where in Scripture does it mention that Christ founded any such system ?
In general, Christ terms His Church a kingdom which supposes some organized authority. However, the explicit steps in the establishing of an authoritative hierarchy are clear. Christ chose certain special men. "You have not chosen Me: but I have chosen you” ( Jn. XV., 16). He gave them His own mission. "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you" (Jn. XX., 21). This commission included His teaching authority: "Teach all nations . . . whatsoever I have commanded you," (Matt. XXVIII, 19-20); His power to sanctify—"Baptizing them," (Matt. XXVIII., 19-) forgiving sin, "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven," (Jn. XX., 23)—offering sacrifice, "Do this for a commemoration of Me" (1 Cor, XI., 24); His legislative or disciplinary power—"He who hears you, hears Me, and he who despises you despises Me," (Lk. X., 16); "Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven," (Matt. XVIII.,18). "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen," (Matt. XVIII, 17). The Apostles certainly exercised these powers from the beginning. Thus we read in the Acts of the Apostles, "They were all persevering in the doctrine of the Apostles," ( II., 42). St. Paul himself did not hesitate to excommunicate the incestuous Corinthian (1 ,Cor. V, 3-5). And he wrote to the Hebrews, "Obey your prelates, and be subject to them"(Heb. XIIII, 17.)
5. Cannot the Congregationalist make out an equally strong case for a universal Spiritual Brotherhood, but with local independence of churches ?
There is no evidence of independent local churches in Scripture, nor in primitive documents. There is evidence that there were distinct groups of Christians in various places, just as there are Catholics in New York under one Bishop, and Catholics in London under another. All true Christians certainly formed a universal spiritual brotherhood, as Catholics do today; but local autonomy existed only in the sense that there were Bishops in charge of various localities, the Bishops themselves being subject to St. Peter, and after his death, to the successor of St. Peter.
6. Whilst I walk In the Spirit, I do not think it necessary to be subject to any visible organization.
You may say that you believe it unnecessary. But pay attention to the words of Christ I have just quoted. He thought it necessary, and He has the right to map out the kind of religion we accept. If Christians had to accept such disciplinary authority in the time of the Apostles, they must accept it now. Christianity is Christianity. It does not change with the ages. If it did, it would lose its character, and not remain the religion of Christ, to which religion alone He attached His promises. And remember His prediction that His flock would be one fold with one shepherd (Jn. X, 14 -16). You would have sheep, not gathered into one fold, but straying anywhere and everywhere, having no shepherd with any real authority over them.
7. Why do you reserve the Hierarchical authority to men? Why not give women a chance?
Nowhere did Christ ever commission women to teach in His name and with His authority. St. Paul explicitly forbids women to attempt to exercise such functions. People who would ordain women in the Church seem to believe that they know more about Christianity than St. Paul. 1 Cor. XIV,34 -35, says: "Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. But if they would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the Church." America is today a marvelous example of how people obey the Bible. 1 Tim. II, 11-12 says, "Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man; but to be in silence."
8. Protestant principles demand that the Catholic Church is wrong.
They must say that the Catholic Church is wrong or else why are they Protestants? Yet they must also admit that not one of their denominations has any right to declare itself to be the one True Church. And that, for the simple reason that Christ did not establish any institution which could be known by men to be His Church.
9. You Catholics claim to see what cannot be seen.
We Catholics claim that Christ did establish a visible and discoverable Church. You Protestants do not deny that Christ established a church of some kind. But you must deny that the Catholic Church is the True Church prior to the Reformation, or there could be no excuse for setting up the Protestant Churches. Yet since these Protestant Churches did not exist priori to the Reformation, where was the True Church then? There is but one way out. It was there invisible! And it is here today—invisible.
10. Luther said that the True Church consisted of the Saints, the Saints being true believers whose sins are not imputed to them, but who have the merits of Christ imputed to them instead. People belong to the True Church by the invisible bond of grace. And as no man can judge who are in God's grace and who are not, no man can definitely locate the True Church in this world.
From this we can say that the Catholic Church must be wrong in her claim to be the True Church precisely because she can be identified and located in this world. The Protestant Churches must at least be more right because they don't claim to be right. For although the Church is for men, it is undiscoverable by men. The only right answer to the question, "Where is the True Church?" is that nobody can say. Luther's idea is not antiquated by any means. Recently I read a Protestant clergyman's article in a Sunday newspaper, maintaining that "the Church does not make saints; saints make the Church." But alas for the theory! Those alone would then be members of the Church who are in a state of grace. "Fall into sin and you fall out of the Church" would then be the rule! Yet Christ says clearly that many not in the grace and friendship of God will belong to His Church. He likened that Church to a net holding good and bad fish (Matt. XIII, 47-48). The net was to be quite good, but there would be bad fish within it. It was to be as field with cockle and wheat growing side by side (XIII, 24-30). Or again, the members of the Church would be like the ten virgins, five with oil in their lamps, and five, without (Matt. XXV, 1-12). It is certain then, that the Church is not composed only of those with God's grace within their souls. Some other bond must be found which unites men within the fold of the Church of Christ.
11. How about the invisible theory?
The invisible theory is useless, unreasonable, and against the teachings of Christ. That any Protestant Church is the visible Church of Christ, the authorized guide of all nations, directly established, commissioned, and guaranteed by Him, will not bear examination. The Catholic Church alone fulfills the requirements. Christ certainly intended that men of good will should be able to find and become members of the True Church of this world. His Church was to be a visible organization.
12. What do you mean by a visible organization?
When I say that the True Church must be a visible Church I intend the word in a very special sense. As I can find the visible brick building representing a Presbyterian, Episcopalian or Lutheran Church in the same sense I can certainly discover the visible building used by the community. But that is not the sense I intend when speaking of the visibility of the True Church. I mean that the True Church must be obviously existent in this world, and that it must always have obvious signs distinguishing it as the True Church from all other claimants.
13. Did Christ establish any Church?
Christ certainly intended His Church to be visible and discoverable, not only as an existent fact in this world but as being His. Talk of a purely invisible bond of grace fails utterly in the presence of Christ's words likening His Church to a city which, set upon a hill, "cannot be hidden" (Matt. V, 14.). If He establishes a Church to which He invites all men to come, it must be a Church discernible as His. The Apostles and the early Fathers condemn schism, which can only mean separation from a visible, historical, and organized Church. Were the Church not a discernible Church, the forbidding of schism would be absurd. No man would know whether he had left the True Church or not. St. Cyprian who died as early as 258 A. D. had no misgivings on the subject. "Whoever is separated from the Church," he wrote, "is separated from the promises of Christ; nor will he who leaves the Church of Christ obtain the salvation of Christ. He becomes a foreigner and an enemy. One cannot have God as a Father who has not the Church as his mother." If a man who is separated from the Church is separated from the promises of Christ, it is of the utmost importance that he should be able to know which is the True Church to which he must cling.
14. You Catholics seem to be dead sure that the Catholic Church is the one Church of Christ and that all others are mistaken.
I can reply that they do not only seem to be so, but that they actually are dead sure. What would be the use of any bureau for the dispensing of authentic information, if the officials had to warn inquirers that there was not even certainty as to whether they had gone to the right inquiry office! No. The True Church, which is really Christ's own bureau for the dispensing of authentic information to mankind in His name, must be visibly discernible as His. The invisible and indiscernible Church theory is impossible, and, as I have said, opposed to the will of Christ.
15. Are not Protestants brought up with the Idea that it is not possible for any human being to locate the True Church?
Yes, they are all brought up with that impression and so they continue in religious matters to wander where they will, like people in a forest, who follow any line of tracks without bothering to ask where it leads. And they so love the risky adventure of experimenting for themselves that they search Scripture for every possible text which they think will support them.
16. Give us a sample of their Scriptural texts.
They will say that the Church is to be like, "a treasure hidden in the field" (Matt.XIII, 44), quite overlooking the fact that Christ was not then speaking of the nature of the Church, but of the zeal one should have in searching for it. And the treasure was certainly visibly discernible when the digger came across it, or he would dig forever in vain. Again, they will cry in triumph, "Christ said that His kingdom is not of this world," as though that denies its existence in this world. They have urged too, that the Church must be essentially a spiritual society, and that a spiritual society is not visible. But they speak as if the Church were a society of purely spiritual beings such as angels. The Church is spiritual in its origin, means, and purpose, to a great extent. But it is composed of visible, human beings, united by external profession of the same worship and submission to the same discipline. Those who are united with these things within the Catholic Church are alone members of the visible Church established by Christ. Those who are not, are outside the True Church. Infidels and pagans who have never been baptized are outside the True Church. So also are heretics who do not profess externally the same faith with the Catholics. Schimatics, too, who reject the discipline of the Catholic Church, are outside of the True Fold. The True Church can be discovered and there are external tests by which we can discover who do and who do not belong to it.
17. Is not one religion as good as another?
That seems like a nice broad-minded principle. Common logic tells us that it is unsound. I could better understand the ignorance of all religion. I know, too, that very few of those who use the explanation really believe that one religion is as good as another. Non-believers usually meant that one religion is as bad as another, generally intending that Catholicism was the worst of the lot. But Christ in His wisdom foresaw the rise of false Christs and substituted forms of professing Christianity. He must have endowed His Church with certain notable characteristics.
18. Then what are the certain distinguishing signs and characteristics of a True Church?
Unity, Holiness. Catholicity, and Apostolicity are the signs of a True Church. There can be no doubt that Christ at least intended Unity to be one of the outstanding signs of His True Church. Even Protestants admit that. Yet, since they want to be regarded as members of Christ's Church, even while they are divided externally from each other, and above all from the Catholic Church, they have to think out a special scheme of Unity adjusted to their circumstances. If only we can believe that all Christ's references to Unity are concerned with invisible bonds of grace, and love, and good intentions all will be well. So they kept repeating such expressions as, "We all intended to serve Christ," or, "We are all going the one road," as though the one Christ or the one road idea perfectly safeguarded the unity intended by the Founder of Christianity. Let us be one in the desire to serve Christ, and we need not bother about the way in which we do so. Unity in belief does not matter. The Episcopalian who believes in Episcopacy and the Presbyterian who emphatically does not believe in Episcopacy rejoices in all the unity that is required. The Seventh Day Adventist who believes that the Pope is the 666 of Revelation, and the Catholic who believes that he is the very Vicar of Christ— but no, that won't do. It is hardly fair to bring the Catholic Church into it. Our Protestant forefathers had to leave Roman Catholicism, and any talk of unity with Catholicism is, of course, absurd. We Protestants mean unity amongst ourselves only,—and in that unity, unity of belief does not matter.
19. Does unity in faith imply unity in worship?
If we turn from unity in faith to unity in worship, we find the same loose principles. Catholics may believe that the essential form of Christian worship consists in the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass; Protestants may believe that that is essentially wrong, and that the preaching of the Word of God is the essential thing. Yet, despite this, the acceptance of neither the one nor of the other is important to unity. Let us be kind to each other, united with good intentions, and it matters not whether we go north, south, east, or west in the matters of worship.
20. How about discipline?
The same idea holds good where discipline is concerned. Unity does not require subjection to the same religious authority. Rome insists upon telling her subjects what they are to do. It is fatal to freedom when all Catholics are held down in intellectual slavery with a Pope doing all the thinking for the entire Catholic world. How can a man wander where he pleases if tied by obedience to a guide? Catholics seem to think that unity means negation in a desire to get to Heaven, without our having to walk along any particular road to get there! Let each man be a law to himself. If a man wishes to lose his way, he must be free to lose his way. Where is the element of "glorious adventure" in submitting to the cut and dried discipline of the Catholic Church?
21. Did Christ intend a unity?
All Christians admit that Christ intended a unity of some kind to prevail amongst His followers. But we cannot deny for ourselves what type of unity must prevail. The "all going the one way" type of unity, whilst each goes his own way, is useless if it be quite foreign to the mind of Christ. Who can accept the invention of Protestants who, noting the numberless ways in which they are divided, define the unity required to suit themselves in their present circumstances and in such a way that they may remain where they are.
22. What then is the unity insisted upon by Christ?
Christ commissioned His Church to teach all things whatsoever He commanded, (Matt. XXVIII, 20), and He taught a definite something, not a bundle of contradictions. Those who believed all that He had taught would at least be one in faith. Again, He demanded unity in worship. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism," (Eph. IV, 4-6), was to be the rule and baptism belongs to worship. The early Christians were told distinctly by St. Paul that participation in the same Eucharistic worship probably was essential to the unity. "We, being many, are one bread, one body; all that partake of one bread" (1 Cor. X, 17). In other words, "The one Christ is to be found in Holy Communion, and we, however numerous we may be, are one in Him if we partake of the same Holy Communion."
23. Has discipline in government anything to do with unity?
Unity in discipline in government stands out above all. Our Lord has said, "I will build My Church" (Matt. XVI, 18), not "My Churches." He had expressed His view of divisions when He said. "Every kingdom divided against itself shall be made desolate," (Matt. XII, 25), and in establishing His own Kingdom, the Church, He took good care to insist upon the authority necessary for the continued existence of any society. His prayer "that they may be one as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee," (Jn. XVII, 21), and His prediction, "There shall be one fold and one shepherd," (John X, 16), leave no room for doubt as to His mind.
24. You believe therefore in unity of faith, worship, and discipline?
Yes, we do, and Protestants proclaim their divergence from the Catholic Church in all three points and even among themselves. Yet no one can deny the existence, of this unity within the Catholic fold. Catholics of all nationalities receive exactly the same teachings; their worship is essentially the same in all countries; they obey the same authority. I have heard men condemning this rigid unity of the Catholic Church, and I have heard others admire it. "Poor Catholics," people will say, "they have to follow instructions." Or again, men have said to me, "Your Church is a marvelous piece of organization."
25. How do you preserve your unity of faith, worship and discipline?
That question awakens the obvious reply that it is just too marvelous to have done it at all. The formation of the unity of intelligences and wills among men of various nationalities, perpetually antagonistic and contending about everything but the faith, worship, and discipline demanded by the Catholic Church is a work self-evidently divine. Robert Hugh Benson wisely remarked, "It is impossible to make men of one nation agree, even on political matters; yet the Catholic Church makes men of all nations agree on religious doctrines. As a student at Cambridge University I found in one lecture hall men of one nation and ten religions. As a student at the University in Rome I found men of ten nations and one religion. Is it conceivable that merely human power makes such a thing possible?"
26. Has the Catholic Church alone this remarkable unity?
I have studied Protestantism through and through. It has no efficacious principle of unity. In falling back on the Bible as each may interpret it for himself, it is falling back, not upon a cause of unity but upon the very cause of divisions. Thus we find a different Protestantism in countries, and even in the same countries. And within the same individual Protestant denominations we find diversity amongst members as regards doctrine, worship, and discipline. The only unity which one can concede to Protestantism is a negative unity, in so far as its supporters unite in rejecting the Catholic Church. The difference is in the unity Christ promises, and it could not possibly identify Protestantism as the true form of Christianity since it is common to Protestants, Jews, Schismatics, Atheists, and Pagans the world over. It is only by positive unity in faith and discipline that we have one of the signs by which Christ's True Church can be located in this world.
27. Would you say that Catholicism is all holy and Protestantism is unholy?
I cannot but maintain that Protestantism is devoid of that holiness which Christ appointed as one of the signs of the True Church. Christ certainly intended a quite evident holiness to be a sign whereby men might surely locate the genuine institution He established. "I sanctify Myself," He said, "that they may be sanctified in truth," (Jn. XVII, 19.) "I have appointed you, that you should bring forth fruit" (Jn, XV, 16.). St. Paul' tells us very clearly of our Lord's intention. "Christ loved the Church and delivered Himself up for it, that He might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life; that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. V, 25-27.). Holiness, therefore, is to be a sign of the True Church.
28. And so the Catholic Church is the only holy church?
Yes, I am not saying this because I feel that I have to justify the Catholic Church by hook or by crook. Truth for its own sake compels me to say so. But today I see the Catholic Church as the one great guardian of morality and virtue. There is not a single dogma in her teaching which does not tend to confirm in us the will to serve God, whether It be the dogma of our creation by God, or of our redemption by His Son, or of our going back to God and to our judgment. The dogma of hell certainly has never yet been an inducement to sin; nor has the desire to serve God ever prompted its denial. The dogma of Purgatory is a constant reminder of the necessity of purifying ourselves from all traces of sin by Christian mortification and self-denial. If we turn from dogmatic teachings to moral laws, I challenge any man to keep the laws of the Catholic Church, and not be the better man for it; or to violate them without degenerating. No one sincerely joins the Catholic Church without desiring a loftier standard of living; no one leaves save for a lower standard. People point to ex-Priests and to lapsed Catholics. But why have they gone? It is not that they have found the Church untrue, but because they were untrue to their own obligations. They do not leave because they understand her, for the Church today is suffering most from intellectual opposition. The Catholic Church has labored as no other to lift men above the natural and the sensual, fighting for purity of morals, the holiness of marriage, and the rights of God and conscience in every department of life. Outward respectability and mere humanitarianism can never, in her eyes, replace that true supernatural virtue and charity which demand that the daily life of a Christian, personal, domestic, and social, must be inspired by love of God.
29. Do you claim that all Catholics are saints?
It would be a lie to say that every Catholic individual is necessarily better than every individual Protestant. But the Catholic Church is holy in her teachings and principles, and in a remarkable way in her members in general. At least ordinary holiness is evident from the-fact that Catholics do try to keep God's laws conscientiously, often making great sacrifices to do so. They are often ridiculed as fools for their efforts to do so, by those who regard themselves as advocates of liberty. If, through frailty, they sin, they are aware of their sin, and are uneasy until they recover God's grace and friendship. They can never accept the idea of being in sin with equanimity.
30. If Catholicism is so good, what of bad Catholics?
And if Protestantism is evil, what of good Protestants? Yet the solution of this problem is not so very difficult. As regards bad Catholics, it is not necessary to the holiness of the Catholic Church that every single member must be holy. Christ predicted that sinners would be found in the True Church. There will be bad fish in the good net. Worthless cockle will be found growing side by side with the good wheat. But bad Catholics are those who are not living tip to the teachings of their Church. I can account for the bad Catholics without injury to the holiness of the Church. I cannot account for the canonized Saints without admitting that holiness. The Saints themselves will attribute their goodness to the influence of the Church. Not a Saint has ever wished to leave the Church. No Catholic ever leaves the Catholic Church to join another Church that will make him more holy. That would have been the very last thought which could have entered his head. If Catholics are evil, then, it is in spite of their Church, not because of it. On the other hand, if Protestants are good, as so many undoubtedly are, it is in spite of their Protestantism, not because of it.
31. Why do you say Protestantism is devoid of the holiness indicated by Christ for His Church?
I am setting down the simple truth. Even today, Protestantism cannot preserve Christian standards intact. Articles of faith have gone overboard. Mortification and fasting are not required. The evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, with their consequent inspiration of monastic life are ignored. Protestant writings excuse, and even approve, laxity in moral practice. Protestantism has not produced anything equivalent to the canonized Catholic Saint. Many of the Sacraments of Christ are not even acknowledged by Protestantism, whilst the heart has been torn out of its worship by the loss of Christ's presence in the Blessed Eucharist. Of spiritual authority there is scarcely a trace. The very clergy are not trained in moral law, and cannot advise the laity as they should, even were the laity willing to accept advice. The prevalent notion, "Believe on Christ and be saved," tends of its very nature to lessen the sense of necessity of personal virtue.
32. What about good holy Protestants?
I say that their goodness was not due to their Protestantism, but was due precisely to their refusal to follow Protestant principles. They were illogically good.
33. Was Catholicism flourishing as a Holy Church when Protestantism began?
Protestantism was a movement of heated dissent. Error and rebellion took the first Protestants from the Catholic Church, the various forms of error, or the various countries in which the rebellion occurred, giving rise to the various sects. But any goodness which the first Protestants took as doctrinal baggage with them was derived from the Church they left. And any apparent goodness in the teachings of Protestantism is still to be found in the Catholic Church. Where, in the Catholic Church, cockle sown by the enemy is found here and there amidst the wheat, Satan was wise enough to allow some wheat here and there to remain amidst the cockle of Protestantism. And it is the presence of this wheat which accounts for the continued existence of Protestantism. But the wheat does not really belong to Protestantism. It is a relic of Catholicism growing in alien soil. A Catholic is good when he lives up to Catholic principles, refusing to depart from them. A Protestant is good when he unconsciously acts on Catholic principles, departing from those which are purely Protestant.
34. Do you deny any kind of movement for holiness in Protestantism?,
If any Protestant Church makes any move toward the higher and more heroic life by establishing, for instance. Religious Orders and Sisterhoods, it is due to the reluctant admission into Protestantism of Catholic doctrines and practices. It is due to an infiltration of Catholic ideals. Catholicism, and not Protestantism, is responsible for such aspirations. In fact, the loftier their aspirations, the less Protestant becomes the outlook of these people upon Christianity; so much so, that the real Protestant protests that such ideas are out of harmony with Protestantism altogether.
35. You trace the goodness of Protestants, then, to things not essentially Protestant.
Fidelity to the promptings of natural conscience partly accounts for it, but that is not essentially Protestant. It is common to all good men. The study of the Gospels, leading to a love of Christ and a desire of virtue contributes its share also. But the Gospel is not proper to Protestantism. It was not written by Protestants nor committed to their keeping. But for the Catholic Church they would never have had the Gospels. The goodness of Protestants, too, is partly due to God's grace, given to them not because they are Protestants, but because they know no better, and are of goodwill. God's mercy will not deprive them of the necessary means of salvation when the fault is not their own.
36. You admit then that the really Protestant thing in Protestantism is its spirit of independence of, and rebellion against, the authority of Christ vested by Him In the Catholic Church.
Protestants who by God's grace, become Catholics, have not to renounce a single good principle. They renounce only what is evil, the principles proper to Protestantism as such. They renounce its basic element of protest, and submit to the directions of the Catholic Church. They enter that one fold under one shepherd, which has inspired the lives of the Saints, and which is ever urging all her members to bring forth that fruit of holiness which she herself possesses. As the mother of spirituality, and the agent of supernatural holiness in this world, the Catholic Church stands out as the one accredited ambassador of Christ.
37. What do you mean by Apostolicity of the True Church?
We feel instinctively that the True Church ought, to be Apostolic in origin. Unfortunately, however, most non-Catholics just take their religion for granted, and do not see the difficulties of their own position until they are pointed out to them. Above all is this the case with Apostolicity. Yet there are few of them who do not see the difficulty when it is pointed out. The thought that Protestantism did not begin until the year 1517, which is just 1517 years too late for the man looking for the religion founded by Christ Himself, can never lose its weight. But that simple statement of the problem does not do full justice to the idea of Apostolicity, and we must go more deeply into it.
38. Then how would you define the sign of Apostolicity?
Apostolicity is "That special characteristic by which the lawful, public, and uninterrupted succession of Bishops from the Apostles is continued in the Church; faith, worship, and discipline remaining ever the same in all essential matters." Without this it is impossible to maintain the identity of any given Church today with that of the Apostles. Episcopal succession must be legitimate as opposed to unlawful usurpation. It must be public, because we are dealing with a public and visible society. It must be uninterrupted, because any gaps would destroy all hopes of validly transmitted supernatural power. How futile would be the attempts of a man to transmit a power confided to the Apostles, if he himself had never received it!
39. What is the opinion of the early Fathers on Apostolicity?
St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, who died in the year 202 A. D., had no doubts on this subject. "We must obey those in the Church," he wrote, "who have true succession from the Apostles; for-with their Episcopal succession they have received the gift of certainty in the truth according to God's holy will. We must suspect all those who are cut off from this original succession, whoever they may be." The mere fact that history speaks of such things as schisms is a constant testimony to the necessity of submission to Apostolic authority in the Church established by Christ. Schism or division, is absolutely unintelligible without the admission of a lawful authority from which it implies separation.
40. Does the Greek Church and the Anglican Church admit the necessity of Apostolicity?
Yes, but they ignore the conditions of true succession in order to maintain their possession of it. But neither the Greeks nor Anglicans deny the Apostolic succession of the Catholic Church. That Church rejoices in a public, historically evident, and lawful continuation of power and authority derived from the Apostles. A regressive study of history shows that she can trace herself back through all the ages to the Apostles. Every single name of the Bishops of Rome, from the present reigning Pontiff, Pius XI, to St. Peter stands out in clear relief. Since the Pope is the head of the Church, and those Bishops alone are lawful successors of the Apostles who are in communion with him, the documentary history of Papal succession is, sufficient of itself to prove the Catholic position.
41. But those who wish above all to be free from the "irksome restraint" of Papal jurisdiction will not so easily accept it.
I have read with deep curiosity and interest the efforts of Protestant writers to escape the logical conclusion. They have employed all their power and research in their attempts to account for the origin of the Catholic Church in times subsequent to the Apostles. Some were wont to say that the present Catholic Church is but a corruption of the original Apostolic Church, a corruption which occurred in the middle ages, and which led to the Reformation. This is the prevalent view amongst the uncritical but it is quite untenable theologically and historically. Theologically the plain blunt Catholic wharf-laborer was right when he said, "What's the good of telling me that the Catholic Church ever went bung when Christ said that it wouldn't go bung? He said He would be with His Church all days till the end of the world, and being God, He could do what He said He would do. And in any case your Protestantism hasn't been all days in the world." If the Church were guilty of teaching error for hundreds of years before the Reformation reformed the Church then we must admit the world was 1,500 years without a True Church and Christ failed to live up to his promise of not allowing the gates of hell (the gates of error) to prevail against His Church (Matt. XVI, 18).
42. Has history forced Protestant scholars to change opinions?
Historically, critical scholars of Protestantism have been compelled to "shift camp." History scouts the idea that the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation was but a corruption brought about in the middle ages. Age after age prior to that time reveals an identical Church. Harnack, the German critic, was forced back to the second century, and said that the Catholic Church acquired its present form then. See-berg, another of the German critics, said that the idea of the Catholic Church as we know it now arose with the Apostles themselves, but quite independently of the will of Christ. They without warrant, imposed their Jewish notions of authority upon the Christian Church. These theories are denials of documentary evidence, or are supported by distortions of the sense of the evidence. The one motive is ever present. Somehow or other, submission to the Apostolic authority of the Catholic Church must be avoided! Few non-Catholics, however, go so deeply into history as these more learned men. They are content with more shallow objections, and cling to the idea of corruption in the middle ages despite the abandoning of that position by their own Protestant scholars as historically unsound. The average Protestant will accuse the Catholic Church of the crime of change, of having added dogmas, and of having built up a complex and superstitious worship. He does not understand that a dogma is not a new doctrine, but simply a new and definite statement of the original Apostolic doctrine. He does not see that worship need not be absolutely immutable in every least secondary detail. And he quite misses the question of lawful, public, and uninterrupted transmission of Apostolic jurisdiction and authority.
43. Has the Church changed in her essential principles of faith, worship, and discipline?
In her essential principles of faith, worship, and discipline, of course, the Church is unchangeable. But she is a vital and organic society. She must grow and develop even as a tree from a mustard seed. And the foliage and blossoms of the tree do not interfere with its continuity from, and identity with, the original seed. Such objections merely prove that the Catholic Church is not dead and stagnant. But I have always found such objections, very strange in these days, from people who are always insisting upon progress. Of course, I know where the trouble lies. They really do want progress without the retention of identity, and that is where they part company with the Catholic position. The Catholic Church insists upon identity with the Apostolic Church, steadily keeping her vital evolution within the limits of principles laid down by Christ and the Apostles.
44. Has Protestantism reformed Catholicism?
Protestantism involved an essential constitutional change. At best it claims to have resuscitated an Apostolic Church which had perished—an idea quite foreign to the notion of Apostolicity. Apostolic doctrine has suffered sadly, also, at its hands. Protestants deny today what they taught yesterday. Episcopalians may have retained Hierarchical form, but Episcopalian Bishops are not in the least conscious of Apostolic authority, nor can they claim uninterrupted legitimate succession. To rebel against the lawful authority of the Church, abandon it, and set up for oneself, is no way to succeed by legitimate title to transmitted jurisdiction.
45. What do you mean by the schism of the Greek Church?
The very schism of the Greek Church means secession from the Universal Church in direct violation of the constitution of that Church. Prior to then- secession, the Greeks admitted the absolute necessity of union in the bond of Apostolic authority with Rome. They admitted it at the Council of Lyons in 1274. and again at the Council of Florence in 1439. But national pride and political reasons accounted both for the original schism and the refusal to heal it.
46. What does the term "Road to Rome" mean?
"The Road to Rome" means the "Apostolic Road" which leads only to the Catholic Church, and one who desires to find the True Church rapidly should take that road. For the True Church is Apostolic in origin and continuity, and must remain so till the end of time. Protestants broke with the Apostolic authority of the Catholic Church on the score of corruptions in teachings and practices. Yet more and more we notice Protestants borrowing Catholic teachings and practices, urging that it was a great mistake to abandon them at the Reformation! What they fail to see is this—the more they prove that the Reformation was not justified, the more they increase the guilt of their separation from the Apostolic Jurisdiction legitimately transmitted in the Catholic Church. Nor will the borrowing of Catholic externals ever succeed in making them Catholics. There is no Catholicity without genuine Apostolicity. There is but one way to be Catholic, and that is to submit to the Apostolic authority of the Catholic Church. To be a Catholic, a man must become one; and no attempts which wander from the "Apostolic Road" will ever succeed in leading anyone to the True Church of Jesus Christ.
47. The fourth sign of the True Church is universality. Do you mean by that "Catholicity"?
Minds are becoming less clouded. The old anti-Catholic bitterness is dying. The word "Catholic" in the Creed is awakening a vague idea that somehow or other we ought to be Catholics. Protestants, therefore, are beginning to take their profession of belief in the Holy Catholic Church seriously. And great is the confusion. Imagine the confusion if men came in the night and planted at some crossroads a dozen sign posts with the same inscription, but pointing in as many different directions, where hitherto there had been but one! The wayfarer could not but be bewildered, unless he managed to detect the more recently planted posts, and was thus able to discover the direction indicated by the original sign post.
48. Has Catholicity lost its value as a sign of the True Church?
It cannot do so. And non-Catholic Churches which fondly believe that they can share the privilege of inclusion in the Catholic Church can base their claim only upon a misinterpretation of all that the word means. In its right meaning, it can apply only to the Church of which I am a priest at the present moment, and as I shall be for the rest of my life, of course. Protestants have protested against our restricting the word to the "Roman Catholic Church," and they ask indignantly, "Where do we come in?" to which we can make but one sincere reply, "You don't come in. You went out, and one doesn't come in by going out!" The sign still exists, and but one Church can rightly lay claim to It.
49. Did our Lord intend His Church to be Catholic?
By "Catholicity" I mean that characteristic of the True Church by which, whilst remaining ever one and the same, it is adapted to the needs -of all nations, and has become conspicuously numerous and universal in this world. That our Lord intended His Church to be Catholic in this sense is most evident in Scripture. He died for all men, and His Church must be for all men. His Commission to the Apostles was that they should teach all nations, being witnesses to Him to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts I, 8). "This Gospel," He said, "will be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all nations" (Matt. 24:14). St. Paul expressly declares the intention of the Church to obey Christ by preaching to all nationalities, and no longer in a restricted way to the Jews alone. But always he insisted upon the retention of strict unity, forbidding heresy and schism. "Let. there be no schisms among you," (I Cor. 1: 10), and, "a man that is a heretic avoid," (Titus III, 10), leave no doubts as to his mind.
50. Is universal diffusion necessary as a sign of the True Church?
A universal diffusion of a united Church will be a distinctive sign of the True Church. The actual diffusion, of course, had to be gradual. Christ Himself indicated this by His parables of the mustard seed, and of the leaven in the bread. But always the Church had the right and the power of universal expansion as surely within herself as the acorn contains all the principles necessary for its evolution into an oak tree. Actual expansion commenced on the very day of Pentecost, and has been going on ever since. Indeed the promises of Christ imply that His Church will be conspicuously numerous—more numerous, and more widespread than any rival institution set up by the false Christ's of the ages.
51. How many belong to your Church?
Our Church has practically 431 million subjects, a number not attained by all the Greek and Protestant Churches taken together. And today we are confronted by the spectacle of the Catholic Church still expanding, whilst even in Protestant countries. Protestantism is losing its power over the souls of men. In the Catholic Church God has inspired an ever-burning interest in the foreign missions, and the Pope is insisting upon the training and consolidating of a native clergy as soon as possible, that missionaries may be free to move on to yet other regions. And always identity of faith and worship is preserved. Such a unified dispersion Is of its very nature a miracle, for the greater the diffusion, the more humanly impossible becomes the task of preservation from corruptions of doctrine.
52. Do not Protestants resent the reservation of the word "Catholic" to the Church of Rome?
I know that this reservation of the word "Catholic" to the Church of Rome is resented by many Protestants. They insist that ours is the "Roman Catholic Church." And they read into this expression a meaning of their own, as if there were other kinds of Catholic Churches. But "Rome" does not mean any sense of limitation. It is rather a mark of identification. The genuine Catholic Church is that which has its administrative center at Rome. And, after all, that center has to be somewhere! However, they are driven to regard our allegiance to the Bishop of Rome as a restriction, because if it be not so they are excluded from the one True Church of Jesus Christ. "To be Catholic," they say to us. "you should not exclude Christians who merely interpret Christian doctrine in a different way!" Forgetting their one-time desire to be entirely separated from the Roman Church, they wish now to be one with her. But they have to water down the sense of the word Catholic, forgetting that it is an attribute of a Church which must be one and the same everywhere. It is necessarily linked with unity. Christ never intended His Church to be the mother of error. He intended it to be the teacher and preserver of truth. Heretical movements may carry off multitudes, but they cannot reject the Catholic Church and still belong to it. And it is absurd to say that the True Church must still include those who left it.
53. Did the early Christians make any distinction between the words "Christian" and "Catholic"?
The term, "The Catholic Church," appears ift extant Christian literature for the first time in the letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch who succeeded St. Polycarp who i'n turn was the immediate successor of St. John the Apostle. In a letter written to the people of Smyrna in the year 110 he says, "Wheresoever the bishop is found there likewise let the people be found, even as where Jesus may be, there is the Catholic Church.” In the fourth century Pacian had declared that he possessed two names, “Christian” and “Catholic.” He did not wish to be mistaken for one of those who protested against the True Church, yet who still called themselves Christians. “if you want to know what I am,” he said, “Christian is may name, Catholic is my surname.” Yet would heretics leave him in possession of this distinction? In the 4th century we find St. Augustine writing, “All heretics want to call themselves Catholics, but ask any one of them to direct you to the Catholic Church, and he will not direct you to his own Church.” How history is repeating itself! Those early heretical sects went through the same phases as the modern sects are experiencing. And the modern sects will die even as the ancient heresies have disappeared, leaving the Catholic church still in this world, even though she will have to deal with yet new forms of error to come.
54. Is there any similarity between the modern sect and ancient heresies?
Those very modern sects reflect all the characteristics of the ancient heresies. They vary with national tendencies, and nationality in religion is opposed to Catholicity. St. Augustine said, “There are heretics everywhere, but theheretics of one region have nothing to do with the heretics of another region. There are some heretics in Africa; quite others in Palestine, or in Egypt, etc.” So also we can say today, “There are some heretics in America, quite others in Germany and England, etc.”
55. Cannot great numbers signify Catholicity?
Let us take all the protestant sects together. Even though they embrace 285 millions collectively, such numbers cannot indicate Cathlolicity. Apart from the multitude of those who are merely nominal members of their Churches, it is not possible to see anything supernatural, or any need of divine power, in a multitude of men disagreeing with the Catholic Church and amongst themselves. Nor can confusion and diversity be attributed to the prayer of Christ for the unity of His Church.
56. It was the Catholic Church which early departed from the doctrines of Christ, and thus forfeited the claim to be the true Church.
If you think that, by departing form the truth, the Catholic Church forfeited the claim to be the True Church, then you believe that the infallible retention of the teachings of Christ must be a mark of the True Church. Is your own Church, therefore, infallible? Does It even claim to be so? I admit that if the Catholic Church has failed in witnessing to the truth she is not true, and -I would at once leave her. But as this would mean that Christ was unable to keep His promise, I would also abandon belief hi Christ. Certainly, wherever else I might go, I would not return to a Protestant Church based upon the doctrine that Christ has failed to keep His promise.
57. We Protestants believe that Christian doctrine has kept pure as long as the Apostles lived, but after their deaths, errors crept in.
You err both in fact and in doctrine. In fact, for the Apostles complained of errors, not of the Church, but of individual professing Christians even in their own days. In doctrine, because you practically assert that Christ failed to preserve His Church, Matt. 28: 20; that the Holy Spirit did not remain with her, John 14:16-17; and that the gates of hell did prevail against her, Matt. 16:18. In other words, your doctrine Is that Christ could not do what He said He would do. No. 'Individuals in all ages have befallen into error insofar as they departed from the teachings of the Church, even as the Protestant Reformers themselves.
58. But you cannot tell me that the Catholic religion is carried out today in accordance, with the quite simple teachings of Jesus.
Catholicity does not differ from what you call the simple teachings of Jesus, although they were not so simple as you suppose. However, the Catholic Church teaches all that Christ taught, whether His teaching was explicit or implicit. Essentially she exists just as He would have her exist. There may have been many secondary developments during the ages, but they were all foreseen and approved by Christ. After all, Christ established a living Church, and a living -Church grows. He likened it -to a seed. Even as a boy grows into a man with exactly the same personality, yet with many secondary changes in size, knowledge, and manners, so, too, has the Church rightly developed.
59. The constantly changing laws of the Catholic Church show that her principles are man-made.
The principles of the Catholic Church are not man-made, nor can her constitution, given her by Christ, ever be changed. But just as many small by-laws can be made and repealed in a country without any essential constitutional change, so in the Catholic Church special disciplinary laws can be enacted at special times to meet special needs without any constitutional change of the religion. At the Reformation, however, men left the Catholic Church and set up new constitutions for themselves, and their sects can be called indeed man-made religions.
60. I don't see how the fact that your Church has stood for so long proves its truth. Other religions have stood longer, and have perished.
The mere fact that the Catholic Church has stood for so long does not prove its truth. The fact considered in the light of her teachings, moral obligations, and obstacles does. Indefectibility can be claimed as a proof for the Catholic Church alone. She demands humility, mortification, rigid duty, and subjection to God—things human nature dislikes. Protestantism abolished most of the things difficult for human nature, and is content with a more or less sentimental religion. Nor has any pagan religion demanded the consistent virtue demanded by the Catholic Church. Finally, reasons can be found for the life of non-Catholic religions, and for their death. But no natural reasons can be found for the continued vitality of the Catholic Church despite her difficult doctrines, and her enemies within and without. The protection of God alone accounts for her persistence.
61. The Catholic Church Is Satan's organization.
Then she is a very poor agent indeed. She would be far more efficient If she cried out, "Sin does not matter —go ahead. Confession is nonsense. Eat anything you like on Fridays, the day on which Christ died. Marriage does not bind, divorce yourselves whenever you like. Continence is absurd. Artificial birth-control is progress. Don't believe in Christ, or God. or Heaven, or Hell. Away with religion in the schools. The chief thing is to be comfortable. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die. Then get cremated, and that ends everything." Don't you see how ridiculous your statement is? All these things are the exact opposite of Catholic teaching.
62. Then where was the protection of Christ if your Church was led toy bad Popes?
With His Church, preserving her as a Church, in spite of the personal iniquity of these men, I have never claimed that the Pope can do no wrong. As a man he will have temptations like other men, and he will be free to resist those temptations, or consent to them. After all, he must save his soul like anyone else. He is not going to be preserved from sin in spite of himself. Why should he be compelled to be good? Goodness results in Heaven, and Heaven must be earned. Every man, infallible or not, must have his own struggle to be good and to save his soul. The Pope is not, and has never claimed to be impeccable. But for our sake, not for his own, God endows him with infallibility that he may tell us with certainty what we must believe and do in order to save ourselves; whether he lives up to it himself is quite another matter and his own business. It is quite possible to give splendid advice and not live up to it oneself.
63. Will not the Catholic Church have to part with many of its doctrines in deference to modern thought, if it is to last till the end of time?
No. The Catholic Church is living today precisely because she has never refused to part with her doctrines, which are the doctrines of Christ. The heresies of the centuries parted with doctrines of Christian faith in deference to human opinions, and they died in turn through the ages. Protestantism is dying visibly today. Any attempt to adjust Christianity to men's fallible speculations is suicidal. The Catholic Church adjusts men's ideas to Christian doctrine, and she stands, and will stand. Catholic doctrines are offensive to modern thought only because modern thought has ceased to be Christian, and the Catholic Church refuses to cease to be Christian. If men insist upon walking along the wrong track, the only way the Catholic Church could keep in their right company would be to take the wrong track with them. But she prefers the right track. If modern thought does not harmonize with the Catholic Church, so much the worse for modern thought. However, modern thought, as you call it, is chiefly the result of not thinking. Its authors are only too prone to ignore evidence and take that to be true which they would like to be true.
64. Do you maintain that one is obliged to Join your infallible, one, holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and indefectible Church, if he wished to be saved?
If a man realizes that the Catholic Church is the True Church, he must join it if he wishes to save his soul. That is the normal law. But if he does not realize this obligation, is true to his conscience, even though it be erroneous, and dies repenting of any violations of his conscience, he will get to Heaven. In such a case, it would not have been his fault that he was a non-Catholic and God makes every allowance for good faith.
65. What are the conditions for the salvation of such a good Protestant? He must have Baptism at least of desire; he must be ignorant of the fact that the Catholic Church is the only True Church; he must not be responsible for that ignorance by deliberately neglecting to inquire when doubts have perhaps come to him about his position; and he must die with perfect contrition for his sins, and with sincere love of God. But such good dispositions are an implicit will to be a Catholic. For the will to do God's will is the will to fulfill all that He commands. Such a man would join the Catholic Church did he realize that was part of God^ will. In this sense the Catholic Church is the only road to Heaven, all who are saved belonging to her either actually or implicitly.
66. Since Protestants can be saved, and it is ever so much easier to be a Protestant, where is the advantage in being Catholic?
Firstly, remember the conditions of salvation for a Protestant. If he has never suspected his obligation to join the Catholic Church, it is possible for him to be saved. But it is necessary to become a Catholic or be lost if one has the claims of the Catholic Church sufficiently put before him. I myself could not attain salvation did I leave the Catholic Church, unless, of course, I repented sincerely of so sinful a step before I died.
Secondly, it is easier to live up to Protestant requirements than to live up to Catholic requirements. Non-Catholic Churches do not exact so high a standard of their followers as does the Catholic Church of hers. But that is not the question. It is much easier to be a really good Christian in the full sense of the word as a Catholic than as a Protestant, and surely that is what we wish. What advantages contribute to this? They are really too many to enumerate in a brief reply. The Catholic is a member of the one True Church established by Christ. He has the glorious certainty of the true Faith, and complete knowledge of the whole of Christian truth is much better than partial information, if not erroneous information. By submission to the authority of Christ in His Church he has the advantage of doing God's will just as God desires. If he fails at times by sin, he has the certainty of forgiveness by sacramental absolution in the Confessional. He has the privilege of attending Holy Mass Sunday after Sunday, and the Immense help of Holy Communion by which he may receive our Lord Himself as the food of his soul. He has the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Christ, by observing the precepts of fasting and mortification. He receives innumerable graces from Sacramentals and from the special blessings of the Church. He may 'gain very useful indulgences, and canceling much of the expiation of his sins which would otherwise have to be endured in Purgatory. And he is more loved by God in virtue of his being a Christian rather than a pagan, so there is an immense advantage in being a true Christian and belonging to the one True Church rather than to some false form of Christianity. Thus a good Catholic has many advantages over and above those possessed by a good and sincere Protestant. But, as I have remarked, if a Protestant begins to suspect his own Church to be defective, inquires into the matter, and becomes convinced that the Catholic Church is the True Church, he has no option but to join that Church if he desires to avoid the risk of eternal loss.
67. I cannot believe that the Church was founded upon Peter. It was built upon Christ, who Is the true foundation stone.
No one claims that St. Peter was the principal foundation stone. But that Church which is in communion with St. Peter and his successors is the genuine Church built upon the foundation of Christ. Christ Himself said to Peter, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church," Christ is the solid rock upon which the Church is built. But the first rock laid upon this foundation is Peter, Christ being the principal foundation stone, Peter being the secondary foundation chosen by Christ.
68. Christ said, "Upon this rock," meaning Himself, not Peter.
That is erroneous. In Jn, I, 42, we find Christ saying to Peter, "Thou art Simon . . . thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter." Christ had a special purpose in thus changing his name to Cephas or rock, a purpose manifested later on as recorded by Matt. XVI, 18, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church." Let us put it this way. Supposing that your name were Brown, and I said to you, "They call you Brown, but I am going to call you Stone. And upon this stone I shall build up a special society I have in mind to establish," would you believe that I was alluding to you, or to myself? Now Peter's name was Simon, and Christ changed it to Peter, or in the original Aramaic language, Kepha, which was the word for rock or stone, and which was never used as a proper name in that language. Thus He said, 'Thou art Kepha, and upon this Kepha I will build My Church." In modern English it would sound like this, "Thou art Mr. Stone, and upon this stone I will build My Church." The word could not possibly refer to Christ in this text.
69. But in the Greek text the word for Peter is Petros, and for stone, Petra. They are not the same.
There is no value in pointing out the differences of form in this word according to the Latin or Greek languages, in which they are accommodated to the masculine for Peter as a man, and to the feminine for stone. Our Lord spoke in Aramaic, in which the form is the same in both cases, simply Kepha.
70. You appeal to the Aramaic. I know nothing of that, nor of the Latin, nor of the Greek, I accept the Bible in its English form, in which the two words are Peter and rock, and nothing whatever alike.
How can you appeal to the English form, if the English translation does not adequately express what Christ meant? Surely you want the exact teaching of Christ! The English version is not an infallible rendering, nor does anyone versed in these matters claim that the English language fully expressed the sense of the originals. But apparently you are content to be without the truth, if it is not to be discovered superficially by the reading of your talismanic English version.
71. Have not many authorities held that Christ intended to build His Church not upon Peter, but Peter's confession of faith in His divinity?
That is an antiquated, interpretation abandoned by all the best scholars, Protestants included. Christ did demand a profession of faith from Peter as a pre-required condition, after that, conferring the fundamental primacy upon him personally. But to say that the profession itself was the rock has not a single valid reason in its favor. Those who adopted such an interpretation did so from their desire to avoid the Catholic doctrine. Grammatically the Catholic interpretation is alone possible. Contextually the whole passage obviously refers to Peter's person. "Blessed art Thou . . . I say to Thee . . . Thou art Peter ... I will give to thee the keys, etc.," nor could the Church be built upon one article of faith. All -the articles of faith are essential Christianity. The Protestant Scripture scholar Hastings, says that the confession theory must undoubtedly be excluded. The German Protestant Kuinoel writes, "Those who wrongly interpret this passage as referring to the confesison and not to "Peter himself would have never taken refuge in this distorted interpretation if the Popes had not wrongly tried to claim for themselves the privilege that was given to Peter," You see, he does not believe that the Pope inherits Peter's privileges, but he does know that Peter was personally the foundation stone. Loisy, the French Rationalist, rejected the historical sense of the Gospels, but he says that it is absurd to accept that sense as do Protestants and then violate that sense in order to avoid what they do not wish to admit
72. Even were the office of head of the Church conferred in Matt. 16:18, surely it was withdrawn in Matt. 16:23, where Christ said to Peter, "Get thee behind Me, Satan!"
The fact that the office was not withdrawn is clear from the later words of Christ to Peter, "And do thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren” (Lk. 12: 32); and again, from the commission to feed the whole flock given to Peter after our Lord's resurrection, as recorded in Jn. 21:15-18. Prompted by love and reverence for Christ, Peter had protested that Christ ought not to suffer. And Christ would have been the first to appreciate such motives. However harsh the English may seem to be, Christ really replied gently, as if to say, "Peter, you do not yet understand the plan of God, You are letting your human affection sway your judgment. But such thoughts are opposed to My vocation. Get thee behind Me, Satan." The word Satan is not used personally here, as of the devil, but in the sense of adversary, Christ intending merely, "I cannot accept the natural promptings of your affection for me." No withdrawal of office is involved.
73. I have heard it said that St. Peter never was in Rome.
You may have heard that stated, but you have never heard any proof advanced in its favor. It is simple history that St. Peter went to Rome about the year 43 A. D., went back to Jerusalem after a few years for a short time, and then returned to Rome until his death, save for very short absences. He died about the year 67, during the reign of Nero. Papias wrote, about 140 A. D., "Peter came and first by his salutary preaching of the Gospel and by his keys opened in the city of Rome the gates of the heavenly kingdom." Lanciani, the eminent archaeologist, wrote, "The presence of St. Peter in Rome is a fact demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt by purely monumental evidence."
74. I want proof outside your Catholic tradition. Does Scripture say that St. Peter was ever in Rome?
Catholic tradition is not a mere' matter of rumor and report. It is down in black and white in documents as historical as any other documents, beginning from the year 91 with the declaration of the fact by Clement. It would not matter if Scripture did not give any evidence on this point. However, it does. St. Peter ends his first Epistle with the words, "The Church which is in Babylon salutes you, and so doth my son, Mark." All reputable scholars admit that the first Christians called pagan Rome Babylon on account of its vices. St. Peter, therefore, was writing from Rome. St. Paul wrote to the Colossians from Rome, sending the kind wishes of Mark, thus also indicating Mark’s presence in Rome.
75. Of course, as a Catholic, you have to try to prove it.
The point is, have I succeeded in doing so? Anyway, not only Catholics admit the fact. No single writer ever denied it until the 13th century. Then it was denied by the Waldenscs, heretics who had a purpose in view, yet who could produce no evidence that he died anywhere else. No other place has ever disputed this honor with Rome. Wyclifie, Luther, and other Protestants took up the Waldensian assertion, thinking it a good argument against Rome. But enlightened Protestant scholars today are ashamed that such an argument, with all the evidence against it, should ever have been used. Cave, a Protestant writer, says, "That Peter was at Rome we fearlessly affirm with the whole multitude of the ancients." Dean Milman admits the fact as incontestable. Dr. Lardner, in his history of the Apostles and Evangelists, says that, it is the general uncontradicted and disinterested testimony of ancient writers. The Protestant Whiston, in his memoirs, remarks, "It Is a shame for any Protestant to have to confess that any Protestant ever denied it."
76. Does Scripture say that Peter was ever Bishop of Borne?
Scripture tells us that he was head of the Church, which implicitly demands that he was universal Bishop, and it also tells us, as I have said, that he was in Rome.
77. How can you prove that he was the first Pope?
The word Pope means Father or Head of the Church as an ordinary father is head of a family. St. Peter was certainly in Rome, and died there as Bishop. By legitimate succession the one who succeeded as Bishop of Rome after Peter's death inherited the office of Head of the Church, or if you wish, as Father of the whole Christian family he was Pope. All the Bishops of Rome right through the centuries have belonged to the Catholic Church. No one disputes that. They are known as the Popes and as St. Peter was first of that long line, Catholics rightly regard him as the first Pope.
78. Was Peter told by Christ to establish a Roman Catholic Church?
He was not told to establish the Church. Christ established the Church, choosing Peter as the foundation stone. The Apostles were told to propagate the Church Christ had established, and, of course, accordingto the constitution given it by Himself. Wherever Peter went he remained Head of that Church, and as he went to Rome and died there whilst still exercising his office, that office is necessarily attached, to the See of Rome. This was not by me^e accident. We have to admit the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the choice made by St. Peter in a matter of such moment to the Church.
79. We Protestants can equally claim, Peter with Catholics.
Protestants cannot make that claim. Protestantism is essentially a protest against the Catholic Church, and therefore supposes that Church, as previously existing. If Peter had not consolidated and built up the Catholic Church there would be no Protestantism to oppose it. In any case, Protestantism was unheard of until over 1,500 years after St. Peter's death.
80. Anyway I want no Pope or priest.
Will you go to Christ on His conditions, or on your own conditions? Christ decided that priests were necessary to His religion, gave to His Church the Sacrament of Orders, and authority to His priests. You profess to believe in Christ, yet regard His appointments as a nonsensical farce.
81. But you cannot escape the fact that the Catholic Church is a kingdom of this world, although Christ said that His kingdom was not of this world,
The Catholic Church is not a kingdom of this world. It is the Kingdom of Christ in this world. And the Pope as Pope is not monarch of the Church in any national sense. No national considerations sway his rule over the millions of-Catholics of every race and clime. He has temporal authority today in Vatican City, but that is merely that he may secure complete immunity from the interference of worldly powers.
82. You say that the Pope is not swayed by national considerations. In a war between Italy and England, would not his sympathies be with Italy?
The Pope as Pope must forget his nationality. As a man his sympathies might be with Italy. But he could not favor Italy in his official capacity. Despite his national sympathies, the Pope has insisted upon being perfectly independent of Italian authority. If an English Pope had done this many would have ascribed it to anti-Italian prejudices. But when an Italian Pope insists upon it, whose national sympathies are all with Italy, there is no explanation except that in his official capacity the Pope refuses to be an Italian. If an unjust war broke out between Italy and England, and Italy was in the wrong, the Pope would condemn the unjust policy of Italy.
83. But the great objection to your Church remains, in that it divides a man's loyalty from his country.
Loyalty to the Catholic Church does not divide a man's loyalty from his country. In religious matters a Catholic obeys his Church; in temporal affairs, the laws of his country. They are services in two different spheres.
84. Did not Christ say, "No man can serve two masters"?
He did. And we Catholics have but one Master -Christ. And we are serving Him even by the fulfillment of our lesser civic duties insofar as we do them for the love of Him. It is the man who gives himself up to worldly affairs in such a way as to separate them from the service of God who is attempting to serve two masters.
85. The Church means an assembly of men united in prayer, not a building.
The word Church has a twofold sense. Its proper meaning is a union or assembly of men united not only in prayer, but also in a definite creed, worship, and obedience. In that sense I speak of the Catholic Church. Or again, it can refer to a building erected for purposes of worship by members of the Catholic Church, and in that sense I speak of a Catholic Church.
86. I admit your tests of a Church founded by Christ, continuously existing, united, universal, and authoritative. But I cannot admit the machine-made organization with its hard and fast rules, which you call the Catholic Church, to be that Church.
If the Catholic Church is not it, no other can be it. However, the Catholic Church is not a machine-made organization. It is just as established by Christ. Were the Catholic Church a man-made system, it would have gone the way of all man-made kingdoms and empires which have come and gone, whereas it has serenely kept going with a humanly inexplicable vitality.
87. I admit that the way Catholics are taught by their Hierarchy is a most successful policy.
The Catholic method is not a method of human policy. We accept it because Christ imposed it. Yet the mere fact that Christ chose such a method is a guarantee of its wisdom. And the skepticism and, irreligion which are the fruits of non-Catholic systems are but a further tribute to the wisdom of Christ.
88. You claim, of course, that the Pope is supreme head of this organized Hierarchy. Yet was it not the Emperor Phocas who first gave the Pope his title and universal jurisdiction? History records this as having happened in 607 A. D.
It does not. It records that, at the request of the Pope, the Emperor made it illegal for any other Bishop to usurp the title which had always belonged to the Bishop of Rome. To forbid others to take a title which has ever been the rightful possession of one is not to confer the title upon that one. And if the Pope did not possess universal jurisdiction until 607, how could St. Clement, third successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome, write to the Christians at Corinth, "If any disobey the words spoken by God through- us, let them know that they will entangle themselves in transgression and no small danger, but we shall be clear of this sin." Thus the fourth Pope demanded obedience under pain of sin from Christians living abroad. Again, how could St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in Gaul, and who died in the year 202, say that all churches were subject to, and must agree with the Church at Rome, because St. Peter had founded the Church there, and the Bishops of that city were his lawful successors, beginning with Linus? Irenaeus died over 400 years before the date you give. The Council of Ephesus in 431, embracing all Bishops and not even held at Rome, decreed, "No one can doubt, indeed it is known to all ages, that Peter, Prince and Head of the Apostles and Foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from Christ our Redeemer, and that to this day and always he lives in his successors exercising judgment." This was 170 years earlier than the date you give.
89. Was not the title of universal Bishop much sought after, the Bishop of Rome winning it because he had the largest number of adherents?
No. Whatever abuse arose in later times, the early saintly Popes, nearly all of them martyrs for Christ, were not the men to seek after office, and dignities which they knew to be spurious.
90. Who gives the Pope his jurisdiction, if he is elected by men and not by God?
God ratifies the choice of those who elect him. When Matthias was elected as an Apostle by the other Apostles he was elected by men, and not directly by God, but God ratified their choice and granted to him also Apostolic power.