Beliefs Gender & Sexuality Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion

Will the Catholic Church split over marriage?

A general view is seen of Pope Francis leading the Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on March 27, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

(RNS) It seems to happen every 500 years.

One thousand years ago, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy split over language about the Trinity, use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist, and papal supremacy.

Five hundred years ago, the Protestant Reformation kicked off with Luther’s 95 theses against the sale of Indulgences.

Now, after four Roman cardinals publicly questioned Pope Francis’ evident readiness to let divorced and remarried Catholics take Communion on a case-by-case basis, talk of schism is in the air.

My nickel is on it not happening. Oh, maybe a few traditionalists will decide to hop over to the Society of St. Pius X or form a splinter True Church of their own. But most conservatives will be content to wait for the demise of the elderly pope in hopes of a restoration of the pre-Francis status quo.

Still, the distress on the Catholic right is striking. A good barometer is New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who followed up last Sunday’s column on “Catholicism’s civil war” with a long blog post yesterday titled “The End of Catholic Marriage.”

His idea is that if Pope Francis has his way, marriage in the Catholic Church will be headed down the slippery slope to Protestantism.

It is [a] reasonable-sounding response to modern realities; so is Episcopalianism. But it is not an approach that treats Christian marriage as actually indissoluble, actually real in a way that transcends the subjective experiences of the spouses, and a Catholicism that takes this approach can claim to believe in its historic teaching on marriage only in the most vaporous of ways — which is to say, not.

Well yes, though it’s worth pointing out that Catholicism’s “historic teaching on marriage” has evolved a good deal over time, starting with a powerful preference for the celibate state (cf. St. Paul); not getting around to defining marriage as a sacrament until the 12th century; and waiting until the 20th to link it metaphysically to Eucharist and Church.

Also, we should bear in mind that divorce is permitted throughout the Abrahamic tradition — in Judaism, Islam, Mormonism (where marriage is exalted far beyond anything imagined in Catholicism), and Eastern Orthodoxy. In the Christian tradition, Roman Catholicism has stood alone in preventing the divorced and remarried from taking Communion.

The contrast with Eastern Orthodoxy is highly significant. As has occasionally been noted in the course of this Catholic civil war, Orthodoxy treats marriage under the rubric of oikonomia, a term used in the Greek New Testament to indicate “management” or “stewardship” on the part of those in charge of leading the church.

In the hands of the 4th-century Cappadocian fathers (Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus), oikonomia became a means by which church practice recognizes the fallen state of the world — that sometimes the world requires us to act in ways that are immoral.

Thus, killing is forbidden but sometimes wars must be fought. Marriage is indissoluble but sometimes must be dissolved. Oikonomia demands repentance for sin but refuses to bar the sacramental path to godliness.

So Orthodox divorcees may remarry (twice) in church, but the liturgy is penitential.

Although the Cappadocian fathers are as canonical for Roman Catholicism as they are for Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic doctrine chose instead to follow the lead of Augustine of Hippo, the slightly later saint who wrote in Latin and whose massive theological output bestrides the Western church like a colossus. A Manichee in his youth, Augustine remained a dualist always at pains to distinguish the good from the bad, the sheep from the goats.

For him, wars were either just or unjust. Marriages were indissoluble. Period.

Conservative Catholics want to make sure that no goats make their way to the Communion rail. Pope Francis has something more like the Eastern Orthodox approach in mind.

Whether Roman Catholicism has the intellectual capacity to get there is far from clear.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

156 Comments

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  • Yes, because Catholic couples declare their previous marriages, divorces, hookups, etc before taking communion….

  • What is most likely to happen concerning this subject is nothing at all. The Catholic Church will continue its condemnation divorce as some great sin. Its adherents will go on with their lives ignoring the church on such matters. The only people taking it seriously being its most extreme members.

  • Just amazing that the Pope does not provide a clear answer in his very long rambling dissertation. Even more amazing is the legalistic, Pharisaical blither-blather in the Cardinals’ “doubts.” I will guess this matter of the divorced and remarried has had a profound impact on the finances of the Church as the folks who are being shunned are not putting money in the basket, and two Synods were held in order to get the money flowing again. Jesus gave loaves and fishes to thousands and Jesus dined with Pharisees and tax collectors. Jesus did not shun anyone because of their marital status or supposed ‘sins.’ On the other hand, some people obviously relish a religion that encourages them to shun the divorced and to discriminate against women and gays and to fantasize about sending their neighbors to hell. The Pope does no one a favor by sitting on the fence. He owes the doubters the courtesy of a reply. Probably a lot of people want to know why so much money was wasted on Synods that gave no coherent answer.

  • “…not getting around to defining marriage as a sacrament until the 12th century…”

    The author doesn’t have the slightest idea what he’s talking about. Completely and utterly false.

    The Catholic Church has held that marriage is a sacrament from Day 1. It’s in the Bible. The author just doesn’t know enough about the Catholic Church, that’s all.

    Saint Paul is explicit that marriage is a sacrament, albeit he uses the Greek word that Greek speaking Catholics use for sacrament: “musterion,” i.e., “mystery.”

    There are seven “mysteries” (Greek speakers), i.e., seven sacraments (Latin speakers). “Mystery” and “sacrament” are the same thing.

    The Orthodox have the exact same teaching about the number of “sacraments” and what they are.

    How is it possible for the Orthodox to hold that marriage is a “sacrament” (musterion) if the Catholic Church didn’t come up with the idea until after the Catholic/Orthodox split?

    Patently absurd.

    Ephesians 5:31-32 (written sometime before 67 A.D.):

    “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. This is a great mystery (in Greek, “musterion,” which Latin speakers call “sacrament”) but I speak in Christ and in the church.”

    ETA: Saint Jerome produced the Latin Vulgate in the 4th century, ordered to do so by the then pope. That’s eight centuries before the time the author states that the Catholic Church supposedly defined marriage as a sacrament.

    He translated the passage from Ephesians, quoted above, in the following manner:

    Propter hoc relinquet homo patrem et matrem suam et adherebit uxori suae et erunt duo in carne una.

    Sacramentum hoc magnum est ego autem dico in Christo et in ecclesia.

    4th century.

  • Don’t leave out that silly thing called annulment, where in someone who is married for 20 years and has children and wants to leave his wife can get one and everyone can pretend that the marriage with the two children was never valid to begin with.

  • The “marriage supper of the Lamb” is about the oldest trope in Christianity. It links marriage, the eucharist, and sacramental salvation right at the start of the Church. How do get away with spouting such arrant nonsense in a public forum?

  • Jesus Christ said that whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. Pope Francis has something more like the Eastern Orthodox approach in mind. Whether Jesus Christ has the intellectual capacity to get there is far from clear.

  • Here’s what’s going to happen. Those who are more “liberally” oriented and those who are only nominally Catholic will just leave the Church while those who are committed to the Church’s teaching will stay in it. Unlike the “liberal” Catholics of the 1960s, nominals today will just leave the Church. As a Catholic, I’m happy with this development. It means those who will remain in the Church are those who wholeheartedly accept the teachings of Jesus Christ no matter how hard it is to live up to it. This will finally mean an end to the lax form of Catholicism that has permeated in the Church since the Second Vatican Council. I’m already seeing it in the ranks of the clergy. The younger generation of priests tend to be more orthodox and more obedient. I’m also seeing this among my fellow young laity Catholics. Those who refuse to obey and show humility are just leaving the Catholic Church while those like me are staying and choosing to form our own families, but unlike our older counterparts we emphasize the teaching of good catechism and obedience to Jesus’ teachings.
    To quote the sociologist Laurence Iannocone, “strict churches are stronger.” When churches just allow their members to do whatever they want, they fail. Just look at the Episcopalians and the other liberal “churches.” One simply has to look at the realm of sports to see that the best teams that produces the best athletes are those who subject their members to rigorous training and demands them to give more than 100% when playing a game.
    Pope Francis will eventually die and hopefully someone less ambiguous and more brave when it comes to preaching the Church’s teaching will be elected to succeed him. I for one am not saddened by the future because looking at the past I know that the Catholic Church will survive this and come out better than before. Countries and empires have fallen throughout the years but the Church continues to live on.

  • Here’s what’s going to happen. Those who are more “liberally” oriented and those who are only nominally Catholic will just leave the Church while those who are committed to the Church’s teaching will stay in it. Unlike the “liberal” Catholics of the 1960s, nominals today will just leave the Church. As a Catholic, I’m happy with this development. It means those who will remain in the Church are those who wholeheartedly accept the teachings of Jesus Christ no matter how hard it is to live up to it. This will finally mean an end to the lax form of Catholicism that has permeated in the Church since the Second Vatican Council. I’m already seeing it in the ranks of the clergy. The younger generation of priests tend to be more orthodox and more obedient. I’m also seeing this among my fellow young laity Catholics. Those who refuse to obey and show humility are just leaving the Catholic Church while those like me are staying and choosing to form our own families, but unlike our older counterparts we emphasize the teaching of good catechism and obedience to Jesus’ teachings.
    To quote the sociologist Laurence Iannocone, “strict churches are stronger.” When churches just allow their members to do whatever they want, they fail. Just look at the Episcopalians and the other liberal “churches.” One simply has to look at the realm of sports to see that the best teams that produces the best athletes are those who subject their members to rigorous training and demands them to give more than 100% when playing a game.
    Pope Francis will eventually die and hopefully someone less ambiguous and more brave when it comes to preaching the Church’s teaching will be elected to succeed him.

  • It should be noted that with respect to Jewish practice in the Classical Era, Jesus asked of the Pharisees on the subject of divorce, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” And Jesus answered, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.” He then elucidated further; but the salient point is that it the hardness of our hearts that causes divorce. For the Christian (i.e. Roman Catholics) it is never right nor proper to divorce one’s spouse, and in my opinion, even in the case of adultery. The Christian marriage reflects symbolically the relationship between Christ and His Bride (The Church). Forgiveness and reconciliation are the watchwords of Christian marriage. Having survived 30 years of a sometimes difficult marriage, it just ain’t that hard, if as Christians we can get past our own selfishness.

  • You left out the pronouncement of Jesus himself. Very sneaky and underhand. We have a war on our hands and are going to fight it to the end

  • I would refer you to the somewhat cynical Ambrose bierce who made the following two definitions:

    Moral: that which is convenient.

    Immoral: that which is inconvenient.

    I would also refer you to so many of the “Bible believing Christian’s” not so good booking beliefs. Thus, you have such prominent Bible believers as various evangelist juniors, well known on these pages, who are divorced and remarried, or who ignore our next president’s vile and immoral behavior because it promised them power, money, and dominion

    But you already know how I feel about that kind of hypocrisy.

  • Interesting history lesson, but who really cares at this late date? Mysticism, holiness, unsupportable expense, and mumbo jumbo- that is Catholic marriage.
    My $20 civil marriage is going on 46 years, while most of my Catholic friends have paid big bucks going in and coming out of theirs. Sin and repentance are the really profitable business of Christianity.

  • Edward, I’ll comment to you because I know you….
    I firmly believe that God hates divorce and it is not His wish for any of us.
    I agree with you that it is our selfishness that makes for a difficult marriage also….my concern is for male, and female recipients of abuse, or say, the husband has been molesting their, or someone else’s children – then, I guess women do that now also….but I think you see my point. Sometimes, I think the Lord would allow divorce, as much as He hates it. For the two example I gave, no one should be expected to remain in that, and it wouldn’t bring honour to Jesus to endure that, in my HO.
    I have no scripture to substantiate that, well, other than Leviticus for the abuse of children, but I firmly believe that God would not want to see a person beaten to a pulp on a regular basis.
    There is also the fact that divorce is not the unforgivable sin. Someone in this assembly does not seem to realize that when it comes to communion.

  • “It’s in the Bible.” Would you referring to a certain set of booklets that were canonized by the Bishop of Carthage in 419 CE, and written by who knows, when and why? Their historical truthfulness has been in doubt for quite sometime. Jesus born in Bethlehem? Boy, have I got some beachfront property for you!

  • Our Lady of Good Success Quito, Ecuador ”
    The sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolizes the union of Christ with
    the Church, will be thoroughly attacked and profaned. Masonry, then
    reigning, will implement iniquitous laws aimed at extinguishing this
    sacrament. They will make it easy for all to live in sin, thus
    multiplying the birth of illegitimate children without the Church’s
    blessing….”
    “Unhappy times will come wherein those who should fearlessly defend the
    rights of the Church will instead, blinded despite the light, give
    their hand to the Church’s enemies and do their bidding. But when [evil]
    seems triumphant and when authority abuses its power, committing all
    manner of injustice and oppressing the weak, their ruin shall be near.
    They will fall and crash to the ground.”

    I think She was very accurate describing the current events of the Church. I wonder what fall and crash will really mean.

  • Freemason plan of infiltration of the Catholic Church

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alta_Vendita

    Bella Dodd, Communist Leader on Catholic Church Infiltration

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKBj0s6OZec

    Pope Paul VI wearing Jewish symbol

    http://traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A007rcPaulVI_Rationale.htm

    World Revolution and Diabolical Disorientation

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32797bhXk4w

    Jewish Revolutionary Spirit & Its Impact on World History‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ (world conquest)‬‬‬‬

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w5eLDVf4QY

    The Secret Behind Communism‬‬

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrieUdYe_e8

    http://smoloko.com/?p=12024

    “Everything is a rich man’s trick” – JFK (true Hebrew killed by fake Hebrews)

    Dialectics – Materialism

    Communist Instrument for World Conquest

    http://www.alor.org/Library/Butler%20ED%20-%20Dialectics.htm

    NY Times – 1914: Zionist Leader Called for World Conquest

    http://www.tomatobubble.com/id899.html

    Under the Sign of the Scorpion – Jewish Communists

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZj1emEb1-g

    The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion Explained

    http://www.threeworldwars.com/protocols.htm

    The Mossad

    “Ha Mossad, le Modiyn ve le Tafkidim Mayuhadim” [the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations]

    Its motto is: ‘By way of deception, thou shalt do war.

    “When a Jew, in America or in South Africa, talks to his Jewish companions about ‘our’ government, he means the government of Israel.”

    – David Ben-Gurion, Israeli Prime Minister

    “Is not war already a revolutionary function? War? The Commune (1870). Since that time every war was a giant step towards Communism.”

    http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/brainwashing/2007/bezmenov.htm

    “Everything is a rich man’s trick” – JFK

    – “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.”

    ― Vladimir Ilich Lenin (this is happening in Western politics today – different wings of the same bird)

    http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/Jewish_communism

    http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2015/10/liberal-bias-in-academia-will-being-self-conscious-about-it-help/

    The Anti-Catholic, Nahum Goldmann

    “I hardly exaggerate. Jewish life consists of two elements: Extracting money and protesting.” -Nahum Goldmann, Ex-President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in his book “The Jewish Paradox”, athenäum, Frankfurt 1988, p. 77 – Nahum Goldmann

  • Wishful thinking for the reactionary.

    How many Catholics bother to formally leave the church despite not taking most of its directives seriously. We are into 4-5 generations already of lapsed Catholics and Cultural Catholics as the norm for the sect in the developed world. The Church will nominally recognize them. They will continue to contribute to church while they have children in Sunday schools or live in neighborhoods where private schools are superior to public ones.

    The more reactionary it becomes, the less relevant it will be. The church already has severe PR problems of their own making. Wherever they get involved in politics it is an immoral mess. They are either going to embrace more modern thinking and a less intrusive demeanor or continue shrinking in the devoted world.

  • Who bothers with that in this day and age? Most people who want to end a marriage, want it done quickly. They just go through No Fault Divorce and ignore the Church. The congregations hardly care these days.

  • I think that your arguments are eminently reasonable, and I respect them. In my own case, all the divorces I have observed in my own family have come at the cost of my brothers, whose wives divorced them out of mere dissatisfaction. I think that except for God, no one on earth hates divorce to the extent that I do. My brothers were crushed by their divorces, and I have seen divorced individuals appointed to senior positions in the church because of their “capabilities,” while faithful men and women were not appointed because they did not have the same “skill” sets. I do not set the divorced outside the pale of the Church, but if we were to be true to scripture, they would not occupy the positions of authority that should go to people of greater commitment to marital fidelity.

  • I appreciate your reference to Ambrose Bierce. Though he and I have viewed life through different lenses, I understand the very cynical take he took with regard to his fellow creatures. Yet, I find this an endorsement of the argument which stresses the natural depravity of the human condition. And I appreciate your distaste for the hypocrisy of those within the church who minimize divorce despite the clear scriptural injunctions against it.

  • The Catholic Church indeed does recognize that there are situations in which a wife may need to leave her husband, as in cases of abuse. However, the marriage remains intact.

  • The more reactionary Jesus becomes, the less relevant He will be. Just the other day, He was telling a crowd that they cannot be saved unless they eat His body! Talk about a severe PR problem of His own making! He had better embrace more modern thinking and a less intrusive demeanor (cleansing the Temple anyone?) or He’s liable to get Himself crucified one of these days.

    And His followers are no better. Signs of contradiction, they call themselves. Bunch of losers, I call them. Somebody really should tell them that a true Christian is the one who is a lick spittle to whatever the spirit of the age happens to be. It’s like Tertullian said “The blood of the martyrs is frankly an embarrassment to us all.” If you ask me, Catholics really need to know our betters and get out of the way of progress. Can’t afford any shrinkage in the devoted world department.

  • Totally agreed. When it comes to being a Catholic, you’re really better off just sticking your fingers in your ears whenever the Church blathers on about the plain meaning of the words of Christ on divorce. What a bunch of noise, right Spuddie?

  • You don’t even want to know the going rate for confession these days. My priest charges by the minute.

  • Ha!
    Sorry, but it’s not wishful thinking. It’s fact. Yes it’s true that most lapsed Catholics don’t take the time to formally declare that they’ve left Catholicism but then again I can say the same for many of those who leave other “conservative” denominations. Has Evangelicalism and Mormonism become less “conservative”? Don’t think so. Heck, let’s not just limit it to Christianity. Do you think most Muslims and Jews take the time to declare in front of their imam or rabbi that they’re leaving their religion? No, they just simply leave.
    Just take a look at the various studies about people leaving organized religion. The so-called “nones” aren’t going to do what their predecessors did and stay in a denomination that doesn’t believe in what they believe. Likewise, the same studies show that those who did leave belonged to either “liberal” denominations or they were simply nominal to begin with.
    “The more reactionary it becomes, the less relevant it will be.”
    Lol, you still haven’t explained to me why most growing denominations these days are those with a more “conservative” bent. You also still don’t explain why those Catholic parishes with very “conservative” and traditional priests are more packed during Sundays. Why most young Catholic men and women who seek the religious life prefer traditional orders. The truth people like you refuse to accept is that religions like ours survive not on the backs of nominals but due to the hard work of those who are truly committed. It’s not wishful thinking, it’s reality.
    Do you know what the fastest growing denomination is around the world? Pentecostalism. And guess what? Many Pentecostal churches are even more “conservative” than Catholicism. What does that tell you? It shows that people don’t want a watered down Christianity. They want Christianity that is not PC. They want Christianity that actually challenges and demands something from them.

  • Refer to the answer I gave to Mr. Sputtie.
    Yours is just as irrational and laughable as his.
    Oh, and yes, Tertullian was correct when he said “the blood of the martyr is the seed of the Church”. Martyrs are remembered. People like you will be lost in the annals of history.

  • I don’t think it is an endorsement, Edward, but an accurate description.

    I’ve commented on this before. A number of commenters here continue to lie, slander, revile, and condemn gay people, some on a daily basis. Not a one of the people who profess to be bible believing Christians make the slightest effort to call them out on it. Many endorse their vile behavior.

    A few weeks ago, there was an article on pope Francis. I’m not fan of the church, but the comments from a number of catholic conservatives were vile and slanderous, stopping just short of calling him possessed by the devil. Again, silence.

    And then we have the super-duperly moral, bible believing Christians present who claim that morality in others is of the utmost importance, and then gleefully voted for the least moral person, bar none, who has ever run for the office of president. All the while, slandering mrs. Clinton with 95% baseless slanders.

    The last persons on the planet I would ever look to for moral guidance, moral truth, and moral behavior are people who claim to be god’s BFFF.

  • Frank Schubert, architect of Prop. 8. NEwt Gingrich, architect of the contract on America.

    Off the top of my head.

  • The bigots are really coming out of the rat holes, aren’t they?

    This is what you voted for, all you nice moral people out there: permission for the morally bankrupt to go public with what would normally shame them into silence.

  • The question I would ask, Edward, is what did your brothers do? I have seen plenty of divorces for no good reads on except laziness and selfishness, but also, plenty of them because of misbehavior on the part of one or both spouses.

    I have a married gay couple friend who have been together, better or worse, for 46 years, while their five siblings FIRST marriages haven’t managed to last that long counted all together. Their siblings are selfish, boorish, and frequently abusive, and three married people exactly like themselves. When the kids want relationship advice, they go to uncle bill and uncle Johnny.

  • Easy enough to explain. Just look at Trump.

    Believe or burn sells much better than kindness, mercy, and love.

  • No. Reynolds presents the evidence. Examine it for yourself. But here’s his summary of it from the standpoint of the Council of Trent:
    ‘The preface to Trent’s canons on marriage seemed to imply that orthodox
    Christians had always recognized marriage to be “truly and properly” one of the
    seven sacraments of the New Law, but everyone knew that that was not the case.
    Most of the prelates conceded that in Peter Lombard’s opinion marriage did not
    confer grace; and, according to the Lombard’s own premises, that denial implied
    in turn that marriage was not properly one of the sacraments of the New Law. Even from the perspective of sixteenth-century observers, therefore, whose sense of history was much weaker than ours, the doctrine was less than four centuries old. If the doctrine indeed went back to the apostolic era, it must have existed then only implicitly and obscurely, beyond the awareness of councils, clerics, and theologians. No general council or pope before Trent had declared as a matter of dogma that there were “truly and properly” seven grace-conferring sacraments or that marriage was a sacrament in that sense, although the prelates at Trent could cite a series of official statements that seemed to confirm the dogma.’

  • Matthew 19 discusses marriage and divorce. Verse 7- 9 read as follows: They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” (“Unlawful” here refers to.sexual intercourse with close relatives as per Lev. 18. The Greek term used is “porneia”, a general term for illicit sexual intercourse. Compare this scripture with Mk 10:11-12 which reads: And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”)

    It’s the house of Shammai and the House of Hillel all over again (2 Jewish Rabbis). According to Wiki, “the House of Shammai believed only worthy students should be admitted to study Torah. The House of Hillel believed that Torah may be taught to anyone, in the expectation that they will repent and become worthy.”

    The discussion between Jesus and his apostles holds Christians to a higher standard; divorce not for a few serious reasons as Rabbi Shammai taught, and not for just about any reason as Rabbi Hillel taught, but for “no” reason if a true and valid marriage has been established. There’s the rub. That is why, in verse 10 we hear: [His] disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

  • That history will forget me I have no doubt, but my preceding comment was written in jest I assure you. Have you ever heard that a stupid question deserves an equally stupid answer? Sometimes I think the same goes for stupid attacks on our Church. In reality, MAJE, I am a Catholic who wants to be faithful to all of Mother Church’s teachings, even those that offend our good friend Spuddie.

  • Oh I already am, of course, but I hate to discourage people by setting the bar too high. On occasion, I will smoke a cigarette or throw something recyclable in the trash just so I have something to say.

  • Yes, but Mark we both know that a teaching of the Church can exist for a long in the Church before being dogmatically defined by an ecumenical council. And then usually only because it comes under challenge. You’ll have to do better than that.

  • The Church would be nowhere without Hell, and the Devil’s handmaiden – Guilt!
    Cultivating one’s understanding, and one’s inner life, is hardly on the agenda, the faithful being burdened with busy work and doctrinal blinders.

  • Nobody knows whether he was born, much less, where (not Nazareth, nor even in this world – the heavens most likely). Not a word of your “Holy Book” was written by Jesus, nor indeed by any disciple, nor indeed by any witness to the event alleged. Best your guys can do is talk about “our tradition and our faith”. All “synthetic” religions are the same. The Buddha tried to keep his followers firmly planted on the earth, but they too, soon migrated to the heavens and adopted magical practices.
    For the masses, magic is THE proof of divinity. If there were a Jesus, his teachings are lost forever (unless you believe in magic).

  • What a bunch of esoteric nonsense, every word of it. Prove to me that the Bible was not written by Christ’s immediate followers, as every reasonable person knows it to be. Show us where we went wrong, but don’t just assert it. Because I have no reason to believe you.

  • It’s true, and that’s why the faithful have always been actively discouraged from prayer and spiritual reading. We are so used to it by now, that whenever an outsider inquires into some aspect of Catholicism, we all just chuckle and recite in unison: “Mind your damn business!” Always good for a laugh. Really, our many catechisms, prayer books, and devotional guides were written only for the clergy, and if Father catches you with a copy of the Imitation of Christ, he’s likely to slap it right out of your hands.

  • I have no position based on belief. I prefer scholarship, and not just from those outside your Church. I suggest that you begin with Alfred Lousy:

    “French Roman Catholic priest, professor and theologian generally credited as a founder of Biblical Modernism in the Roman Catholic Church.[1] He was a critic of traditional views of the biblical creation, and argued that biblical criticism could be applied to interpreting Sacred Scripture. His theological positions brought him into conflict with the Church’s conservatives, including Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius X. In 1893, he was dismissed as a professor from the Institut Catholique de Paris. His books were condemned by the Vatican,[2] and in 1908 he was excommunicated….(then)…He was appointed Chair of History of Religions in the Collège de France. He served there until 1931. He died in 1940.” Wikipedia

  • Newt was always a shining example of how “values voters” were always full of it. Not just of low character as a politician, but as a human being as well.

  • The historical record clearly shows, Matt, that the Church did not begin teaching that marriage was a sacrament until the 12th century.

  • You are confused as to Catholic teaching and don’t know what you’re talking about. Marriage is not a “dogma.”
    There are seven sacraments (mysteries), and the Catholic Church has held that from the very beginning. The Orthodox Church does as well.
    The Latin Vulgate Bible blatantly uses the word “sacramentum” in regard to marriage. The Vulgate was translated by Saint Jerome in the 4th century.

  • False. You’re confused.

    The Latin Vulgate, which was the official Bible of the Church, sanctioned by the pope at the time, calls marriage a “sacramentum.”

    4th century.

    The Catholic Church taught that holy matrimony was a sacrament from the very beginning. St. Paul blatantly announces it in Sacred Scripture.

    You’re wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Scholarly fads come and go. By all accounts, your skeptical historical-criticical method shows little sign of standing the test of time. Alfred Lousy is nobody to me, especially if he uses fancy words to deny the reality of what is right in front of his face. You are much too much the respecter of persons, Sam.

  • What was implicit was made explicit. You could hardly expect Catholicism to come fully assembled right out of the box. The Church needed time and labor to fully understand and apply the Deposit of the Faith, which includes the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It sounds like you’d only be satisfied if Christ Himself had cranked out the Catechism of the Catholic Church with every jot and tittle of Catholic doctrine carefully spelled out and defined. Just didn’t happen that way. Your beef with Catholic sacramental theology really doesn’t trouble us. Read Newman’s Development of Christian Doctrine for a fuller treatment.

    Mark, the reality is that no matter how well or poorly any given Pope does his job of preserving the patrimony intact, Catholics themselves will continue to do so, even if we have to do his job for him. We are going to keep telling the same truths about marriage that Christ taught us whether you compromised modernist Christians like to hear it or not. Get used to it. You don’t have to listen to Jesus to call yourself a Christian, that’s what the Episcopaleans are for. You just keep on being a Christian your way, and we will keep on being Christians His way, ok?

  • Would you really say that the Catholic Church really can’t shut up about Hell and damnation? When’s the last time a Catholic did talk to you about that? If anything, we are too reticent on the topic. Hell exists, though. Your free will implies the possibility of failure, and if you fail to love God you will most surely put yourself there.

  • Thank you for your response Edward. I’m very sorry about your brothers – that’s terrible. I fail to understand how you see the ability to be forgiven a sin as true to scripture. The Lord hated divorce – no question, but he also hates theft, murder, adultery, etc. Truthfully, some of the nicest people I knew were ex-criminals who had learned their lesson. Stopping them, once forgiven, from higher offices in the church denies the church their capabilities. Mary was an ex-prostitute. Matthew was an ex-tax collector….

  • I’m not any kind of Christian, Matt. But whether it’s a case (as you believe) of the implicit being made explicit or (in secular terms) of doctrine being invented, as a fact of institutional history marriage is the last sacrament to be recognized and taught as such in the Roman Catholic Church. This occurs after the Great Schism of the 11th century and helps explain the different approaches to marriage taken by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

  • I’m not putting myself there, if I believed in anything so patently silly. It’s how your god set up the universe, according to you. This god of your has the morals of a kidnapper, a terrorist, or a blackmailer.

    My “free will” is to submit to believe or burn. It’s why I am not a Christian.

  • Sure it was. It was right next to pussy grabbing, lying, theft, confidence games, slander, reviling, adultery, fornication, amd camels going through the eyes of needles.

  • My experience has always been that the more people whine about other peoples’ values, the less likely they are to have any apart from “me! Me! Me!”

  • Pure evil!

    Medicinal wine from a teaspoon? Then beer from a bottle! The next thing you know your son is playing for money in a pinch back suit.

    Etc.

  • You have plenty of time to argue with others, but no time to study and learn.
    Google the THE OATH AGAINST MODERNISM-Given by His Holiness St. Pius X September 1, 1910. And you say Alfred Loisy is a nobody. He is a nobody like William of Ockham is a nobody.

  • If it’s as you say, then very well. Give it a try, Mark. You need Jesus as much as any of us. Give Him a chance and you won’t regret it.

  • William of Ockham, also known as William Ockham and William of Occam aka the most serious opponent of old Thomas what’s his name.

  • It’s not like that, Ben. God loves you, but you have the free will to reject Him. Heaven is the being with God, and if you don’t want that He won’t force you. He loves enough to give you the freedom to choose. Give God a chance while there’s still time!

  • I guess I can try to address two of your points. In Titus 1:6, Paul declares that elders must be the husband of one wife, 1 Tim 3:2 states the same requirement; some have suggested this is a reference to polygamy, but it was neither common or accepted for Jews, or even gentiles to practice polygamy at the time, and certainly not within the precincts of the Church, I find this argument faulty. “One wife” in the context should mean precisely that, as the justification for divorce as stated by Jesus was limited to adultery. I’m my past church one gentleman in a senior position was on his third marriage. By the standards of the text he was not qualified for the position. And, of course, I’m not talking about ex-offenders, I’m speaking specifically to the question of divorce. I don’t discount the forgiveness aspect, but if a believer divorces without reference to adultery, he/she and the “ex” spouse both become adulterers if they re-marry, at least that is how I interpret the text. Such a case then devolves to a continuation in a sinful state, that is to say unrepentance. I accept forgiveness, but sin often leads to inescapable consequences; the consequence of a divorce that does not meet the New Testament standard thus requires celibacy on the part of the individuals involved if they wish to be true to the command. At least that is how I view it, though I do not discount the possibility that a certain bitterness on my part may color my perspective. Blessing and Peace to you.

  • Well, my brothers were not perfect, but they were solid providers to the best of their ability, two of my ex sisters-in-law were adulterous prior to the divorce. One brother manhandled his wife on occasion as a response to her taunting and defiant spirit. Not the proper response, nor a reflection of his typically pliant nature. The third case was merely a function of my brother’s control of their joint income and personal selfishness. In every instance, a less selfish attitude by all the parties concerned should have redeemed the situation, but then only one of those cases involved a professing Christian. My ire is primarily directed to my fellow confessors of Christ. Even in cases of abuse, separation not divorce is the proper biblical response.

  • You’ve raised some interesting points. You and I may quibble over semantics, i.e., “accurate description” vs. “endorsement,” but that’s the least important question here. For my part I strive to use temperate if uncompromising language, and have on occasion admonished others for their tone and language with respect to homosexuality. Raised as a childhood Catholic I have since despaired of the internecine warfare between the Left and Right wings of that body, yet such behavior is evident in other sects as well. I am neither a fan nor a reviler of Pope Francis, I appreciate his conciliatory and pastoral approach to issues, yet I’m troubled by the charge that he was less than diligent prior to his election to the papacy in the area of disciplining priests under his authority who sexually abused youngsters. No fan of Trump, I would not agree that he is the least moral person who has ever campaigned for the office, I think there are at least a couple of close contenders, and conscious of my own sinful nature I’m not prepared to indict him without further future examples. Nor, I’m afraid, can I agree that the evidence indicates that the criticism of Hillary rises to the level of 95% baseless slander. Had Mrs. Clinton won, I confess my unhappiness would be greater than it now is, but I would have been prepared to accept her presidency and would have prayed for God’s guidance to be supplied to her, as I now pray for Mr. Trump. In the hope that I have not slipped any more bricks into the wall of perspective that separates us, I remain placidly a friendly communicant.

  • Matt didn’t ask you to throw out a name, Samuel. It’s easy to come up with someone who said this, that or the other. He asked for your argument against the traditional attributions of the gospels.

  • Compare a sayings Gospel (say Thomas) to the narrative gospels written in the Second Century. (And we only have fragments of them. ) Now tell me which of the statements (of the hundreds attributed to him (originals likely in Greek or Aramaic) did Jesus actually make, and which came from other sources? No “reasonable person” can. Those who assert that they can, rely on divine intervention- always the easy out for any lapse of reason.

  • Oh THAT William of Ockham! Silly me. I’ve already read The Oath Against Modernism, why’d you mention it?

  • Without a position based on belief, you have nothing of value to share in this forum. Perhaps continued reading of doctrine will benefit you but only the evil one and his plans benefit from reading your drivel.

  • Answers to these questions are covered extensively by Catholic apologists. I suggest moving your questions to Catholicanswers dot com . We have far more early writings than you suggest. We do have an accurate idea of which words came out of Jesus’ mouth in contrast to God’s words revealed through other means.

    P.S. ‘Thomas” wrote something but it isn’t gospel. If it were, it would be included in the canon of scriptural texts included with the other books comprising the bible.

  • Absolutely. You are absolutely correct on Titus and Timothy. I forgot about that. I’m a little down with the flu, and must not be thinking. Sorry for taking up your time……but, nice to see you. Blessings Edward.

  • Astrology is older and more widespread than Christianity ever was, and it is based on ideas that are demonstrably false (i.e.star of Bethlehem). Ignorance and credulity will always be more popular than any path that requires independent judgment and critical thinking.

  • Hmm, no that’s incorrect. If a deity exists, then to assume divine intervention in a situation where a divinity would be expected to intervene is not a lapse of reason, it’s a good use of reason.

    Now, that shouldn’t be the end of our inquiry, and in fact questions such as yours can be responsibly asked by biblical scholars. I did not become Catholic so that I could stop thinking. On the contrary. We do a whole lot of thinking, but from a different set of premises.

    Not to open a big can of worms, but your late dating of the canonical gospels is telling. It’s actually much-debated, and likely that the four canonical gospels were written much earlier.

  • Actually, read Pope Benedict’s book on the Infancy Narratives, he does some interesting speculation on what the star was all about. Why bring up astrology? Some things people believed in the past are false, like astrology. Some things they believed are true, like Catholicism. Critical thinking is necessary, and only proves the truth of the Catholic faith.

  • This is the first time I’ve seen The Jews get blamed for the JFK assassination. It does tend to prove my maxim: No matter what it is, no matter how farfetched, the Jews will get blamed for it.

  • “If a deity exists, then to assume divine intervention in a situation where a divinity would be expected to intervene is not a lapse of reason, it’s a good use of reason.” Circular logic. If the flying spaghetti monster exists……

  • There is simply no more reason to suppose that a creator god exists, than to suppose that the planets positions affect human fate. Ockham’s razor would exclude such a supposition, had he had the information that Darwin and his successors have provided. Gods are simply no longer necessary to explain the creation life and its operations. Sincerely, your fellow primate.

  • No, this would be an example of circular logic: If God exists, then God exists.
    My statement is an example of conditional logic. If God exists, then the following would likely be true.

  • “Gods are simply no longer necessary to explain the creation life and its operations.”

    That is an astonishingly naive thing to say given that our knowledge of the universe only reveals greater and greater complexity with each discovery. Christians have long held that God works in the universe through secondary causes. We never expected to find divine fingerprints all over it. The universe we discover through science is precisely the universe we would expect to find as Christians.

    You are wielding Occam’s Razor all wrong. Your idea of simplicity is subjective. Who are you to say that creation by God is less simple than your imagined alternative? On top of that, please prove to me that even if a Godless explanation for the universe could somehow be demonstrated to be the simplest, that this makes it correct. That’s a much larger logical leap than you might think. Occam’s Razor is no broadsword, don’t ask too much of it.

  • If by “narrative gospels” you mean the 4 gospels of the NT, none of those were written in the second century. They were all known and being quoted by the turn of the 1st century AD.

    And it is not my job but yours to tell which of the statements attributed to Jesus by the ancient gospel authors came from other sources — provided you have some evidence to that effect. Otherwise, there is no compelling reason to reject any of them as inauthentic.

  • You are making a strawman argument, or don’t understand my point, or simply don’t want to address it in a sane fashion. People stay in a religious group constantly even when they don’t really believe in it or take its tenets seriously when the faith is large enough and there is some cultural connection involved. It is rare for people to formally leave a faith even if they stop believing in it.

    In the case of Catholicism, the majority of its members in the developed world will continue to ignore most of its teachings on matters of family planning, divorce, eating meat on Friday, marrying strictly within the faith and still attend church or send their kids to Catholic Schools.

    “I can say the same for many of those who leave other “conservative” denominations.”

    No you can’t Evangelicalism and Mormons exact a high price for deviating from its tenets in the form of ostracism and peer pressure in a way much larger sects do not and cannot. The insularity of those sects makes it difficult for members to “lapse” without suffering severe social detriment. They exact a high price for not following along.

    “Lol, you still haven’t explained to me why most growing denominations these days are those with a more “conservative” bent.”

    Overall numbers of religious believers are shrinking. Percentages of believers are growing, but the pool of people is not.

    Mainline Christian sects didn’t grow because of converts or because so many people agreed with their ideas. They grew demographically and mostly by riding the coattails of Imperialism (especially Catholicism, Anglicanism, Orthodox). They are the ones shrinking the most rapidly as religion becomes less entangled with the necessities of civil life.

  • We gay people also get blamed for a great deal, especially the bad behavior of heterosexuals.

    We’re number two! We’re number two!

  • I think the relevant point is here that from a certain moment on marriage was explicitly recognized to be one of the seven sacraments. This has been Church teaching for eight centuries now, which is enough proof. All classic treatises on the sacraments are built on the assumption of a sevenfold, and the idea of seven sacraments has gradually emerged as one of the basic teachings of Catholicism.

    Catholic Tradition can grow and develop, and what it is implicitly present in it can only be known when in the historical process the implicit becomes explicit.

    This means that once certain aspects of a doctrine become explicit, and are recognized by the Magisterium as belonging to the authentic doctrine, there’s no possibility of going back. It doesn’t matter that the explicitation may happen far later in history. The only thing that matters is that when it happens the conclusion must be that it was implicitly present from the beginning. This is simply the logic of the Catholic system, like it or not.

  • Because:
    Alfred Loisy was the proximate cause of the oath requirement ( i.e. I swear I believe in magic). And after the death of Pius X , everybody sort of just “forgot” about the whole embarrassing incident, and the oath defining the faith was no longer required. Meantime, Modernism, especially in Western Europe is stronger than ever.
    If it’s a fad, it is a persistent one. “Secularism” (as your slandering Churchmen say), is as much a result of the Church’s intellectual failure, as ii is our culture’s material preoccupation.
    P.S. Darwin’s theory has displace creationism in virtually every University Biology Department worldwide. You can still visit the creation theme park however, and see men depicted as living with dinosaurs. Ha.

  • If one assumes the impossible, then one cannot claim that it is a condition precedent to probability. One is simply in the void.

  • re: Catholic apologists. A pox on them all. Their only expertise is rhetoric.
    Free men can have a discussion, but dogs on a leash must mind their restraint.
    P.S. the term gospel is not an invention of the Church. It is the name of a message from the Roman emperor. The Christians stole that, the along with the triple crown.

  • You say: “They were all known and being quoted by the turn of the 1st century AD.”
    Let’s do the math. 70+ years had elapsed since the events described. All accounts were hearsay (no written documents). As a lawyer, I have done my share of investigation. Uncorroborated testimony is unreliable, even soon after the event. After seventy years, it is mere nostalgia and vanity. In this case, nobody can even be identified as a witness. You are just gullable to accept such nonsense.

  • That’s exactly what the usual extortionist says. If you don’t want to pay up, well, I gave you the opportunity.

    That’s what the usual abuser says. Don’t make me hurt you. You shouldn’t have gotten me angry.

    You sure do make excuses for someone who, if he were human, you would condemn in the strongest terms.

    he won’t force you to be with him, but if you don’t, well, you’ll just burn in hell for eternity,

    But what about all of the people who don’t believe because they didn’t get the good news, the good news that if they don’t believe, they will burn?

  • So you think that all four gospels weree written 70 years after the crucifixion and then the next day were all over the middle east and being quoted? Wonder how the ancients managed THAT with no printing presses or rapid transit???

    And you speak of others being gullable [sic]. ?

  • What a terrific crop of informed comments!

    No split will take place because the celibates are running the show, as they always have. The marriage stance of the Catholic Church will change very slowly, because celibary is still the ideal among the ranks of church leaders. Married people will still be second-class citizens, as they’ve always been. Since ol’ Augie-babe (St. Augustine) had to give up sex to join up with the priesthood, he made those seeking marriage, far inferior to the priestly class. Calling it a sacrament was a bad bargain. He reinforced this by declaring that folks who succumb to their sexual urges, cannot hope to go to heaven. To be close to God in this life or the next, one must be celibate! (Priests who fool around wth women are another matter!)

    The Church will continue to draw many/most of its adherents from less-educated,citizens of underdeveloped countries, as the more educated Westerners continue to abandon the church. This obsolete organization seeks to become the embedded conscience of uninformed, uncritical thinkers. It’s a self-perpetuating issue,.so I don’t see any changes to the church’s marriage laws and customs, forthcoming.

  • We would all love to see your signed copy of “Q”, and also the copy of Luke that Marcion of Sinope had, which the Church in Rome claimed was fraudulent, but he claimed was the older version. For this “fraud” Marcion was excommunicated in 140 C.E. so things were far from settled as late as mid Century. Church history is not uplifting, and has made more atheists than philosophy.

  • Modernism is not the health of the body, but a gangrene. It will have its time and then will be cut out in God’s good time.

    It’s funny how when people debate a Christian they automatically assume it’s a fundamentalist. I’m not a creationist. Darwin doesn’t trouble me.

  • We honestly aren’t given to know that. God is loving and just, and a person could not be held accountable for what they did not know. It is for Him alone to judge, and what better than to be judged by Love itself? All will be made right in the end, I trust Him.

  • If you’re a lawyer at all I doubt you’re a good one. Maybe your law school would give you your money back? You can’t even correctly identify a circular argument and you wave Occam’s Razor like a magic wand. You are far too reliant on appeals to authority. Also, your spelling is terrible. You are not impressive.

  • “You are making a strawman argument, or don’t understand my point, or simply don’t want to address it in a sane fashion. People stay in a religious group constantly even when they don’t really believe in it or take its tenets seriously when the faith is large enough and there is some cultural connection involved. It is rare for people to formally leave a faith even if they stop believing in it.”
    No, it seems to me you’re the one who don’t understand my point. I’m not sure how my argument is a strawman when it’s backed up by ongoing trends within the Catholic Church that many who are familiar with basic news about the Catholic Church already know, but I’m pretty sure your argument is an outdated one. You’re the one who refuses to address an argument in a sane manner. As I mentioned before, that argument might hold true for the previous generations (especially the baby boomers) but many in my generation (y’know us millennials) are having none of it. Haven’t you ever heard of the rise of the “nones”? Many of these “nones” are ex-Catholics. Yes, they might not have “formally” left the Church but to claim that they are still “Catholics” is nonsense. What do I have to do? Link you to Pew and Gallup articles talking about their decline? I’m not doing that since a simple Google search would be enough to show you all that data.
    They are no different from Secular “Jews” who hardly go to any synagogue, eat kosher, read the Torah or even recognize Israel as the promised land. In fact, those “Catholics” you keep talking about will just end up like the Secular Jews. They will intermarry (if they even do get married) and when they have children (if they even decide to have children) they will have little or no desire to pass on their traditions to their children. Do you know who will pass on their traditions to their children? The committed Catholics whom anti-Catholics like you refer to as “fundamentalists” and “extremists”. And please, spare me that whole “just because they were born to Conservative Catholics doesn’t mean they will grow up conservative” excuse that I keep hearing. Yes, some will leave but in my experience those who are born to parents who actively rear their kids into believing the teachings of the Church end up like their parents. There’s a reason why we have the saying “The apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree”.
    “No you can’t Evangelicalism and Mormons exact a high price for deviating from its tenets in the form of ostracism and peer pressure in a way much larger sects do not and cannot. The insularity of those sects makes it difficult for members to “lapse” without suffering severe social detriment. They exact a high price for not following along.”
    That’s the point. The Catholic Church, despite efforts by our current pontiff to become more “merciful” and “inclusive”, is becoming more like the Evangelicals and the Mormons. Dissent is becoming less and less tolerated and as the older more liberal generation of Western priests die off, they are replaced by a younger more orthodox and traditional generation of clergy who will not hesitate to denounce acts that liberals don’t consider as sins, and refuse to accommodate those with unorthodox beliefs. Consider the fact that Pope Francis is neither “conservative” nor “liberal” but rather a “centrist”, more specifically an “old centrist”. He is part of what was once considered the Catholic Church’s center until what was consider the Church’s right became the new center.
    “Overall numbers of religious believers are shrinking. Percentages of believers are growing, but the pool of people is not.”
    There is no evidence to support this. In fact, it’s the other way around. It is the “nones” who are expected to grow in numbers but shrink in percentage as the Western world and Secular Japan continue to age rapidly and as China, home to most of the world’s unaffiliated, become less secular and more religious.
    “Mainline Christian sects didn’t grow because of converts or because so many people agreed with their ideas.”
    Gee, how do you know? Do you, by some chance, have a time machine and went back and ask them? While it’s true that religiosity back then tends to be overestimated (low church attendance isn’t really something new), the belief that most people back then didn’t believe in their ideas is downright ridiculous.
    “They grew demographically and mostly by riding the coattails of Imperialism (especially Catholicism, Anglicanism, Orthodox). They are the ones shrinking the most rapidly as religion becomes less entangled with the necessities of civil life.”
    I see nothing wrong with growing demographically. Countries mostly grow through their citizens not through immigrants. As for imperialism, you should learn to disconnect the activities of the various monarchies back then with the activities of Christianity. The primary reason for imperialism was usually political and economical rather than religious. Simple history is enough to know that.
    As for “rapidly shrinking”, I don’t know, Catholicism seems to mostly be shrinking in the Western world, but as I mentioned above, the Western world’s share of the world’s population is also shrinking so I doubt that’s gonna impact the Church that much and as I have been saying numerous times already, the ones who will remain the Catholic Church in the Western world are the ones who are more committed to the Church’s teaching. Anglicanism seems healthy as well since their situation is no different from the Catholic Church although I do pray that one day they’ll realize that King Henry VIII was wrong and come back to the Catholic Church. As for the Orthodox churches, they also seem stable although since they are mostly located in the Western world (I consider Eastern Europe part of this) they are subject to demographic factors affecting the Western world like aging and low fertility rates. Like Anglicanism I pray that the Great Schism ends one day and they come back to the Catholic Church.
    I doubt any of what I said will get through you. Chances are you’ll just repeat the same arguments you mentioned above. I don’t like typing lengthy responses like this considering how it will most likely change little so let me leave you with this. Consider that you are not the first person to predict the decline of religion. People smarter than you have proclaimed that the end of religion is nigh. Thomas Jefferson predicted the end of religion. The guy might have made one amazing declaration but the end of religion was not it. He was wrong. Voltaire also predicted the end of religion believing that the Bible will eventually become a relic. There’s this story that after he died his house was later used to print Bibles. And let’s not forget Karl “Opium of the Masses” Marx who predicted that the advent of communism will bring an end to religion. A century later and most of the world have discarded communism. Russia is undergoing a religious revival, China is expected to become the world’s largest Christian country, and with Castro’s death marks a potential beginning for the return of Catholicism in Cuba. Now if only North Korea were to collapse and go Christian like what is happening right now in its southern neighbor I could die a happy man.

  • Yet you just said with absolutely certainty what will happen if you don’t believe– errr, accept god’s gift of your own free will. Which is it? You don’t accept this gift, you burn. Do you mean god has one set of rules for one set of people, and another for another? Or are you just presuming that you know the status of the relationship of god with any other person in the universe, as if god would confide that in you?

    And judged by love itself? Like the abusive husband who says as he beats his wife, “I’m only doing this because I love you, and you made me do it.”

    Or you burn because you forgot to repent properly of some little infraction of the rules, or a rule you didn’t know you broke, or just for being a human being, made as this imperfect creator made you?

    Like so many Christians, you seem absolutely certain that you will be going to the good place, though you claim not to know it. It sounds more like Stockholm syndrome to me.

  • I’ll have to answer you later. I’m traveling again, and the internet here is iffy. But no worries. I understand respect and compassion when I see them.

  • My spelling is terrible (went to several poor public schools), I make mistakes in identifying terms of formal logic (rarely used in my business), and my feet smell bad. So what. Unlike cloistered monks, I live in a world where we cross examine witnesses. Their testimony is unreliable, even when they think they are telling the truth. (i.e. He “must have” or “Blessed are the cheese makers”.) I won’t bore you with the Rules of Evidence, but hearsay is generally excluded.

  • “those “Catholics” you keep talking about will just end up like the Secular Jews. They will intermarry (if they even do get married) and when they have children (if they even decide to have children) they will have little or no desire to pass on their traditions to their children”

    Except for the fact that they are still going to church, sending their kids to Sunday schools, getting married by priests, sending them to Catholic schools where public schools are sketchy. Yet the overwhelming number of people who identify as Catholics in the developed world use birth control, get divorced, and have premarital relations Catholicism being cultural and only nominally adhered to. They aren’t leaving the church or identifying as nones. They just aren’t taking such directives seriously. This has been going on ever since the Church got disentangled with civil governments. Once it could no longer force people to follow, they simply didn’t and continued on as Catholics.

    “Do you, by some chance, have a time machine and went?”

    Cheap denial of obvious history concerning the link between Christianity and imperialism is nothing new from apologists. Why own up to something negative about history when you can just pretend it never happened?

  • Your version of “school choice” is nonsense privatization schemes to enrich political cronies at the expense of poor kids. Well off parents always had school choice without government assistance.

    Catholic Schools don’t need government money.

  • ” Darwin doesn’t trouble me.:” Perhaps that is because you have never read his books and seriously thought about the implications. About ten years ago I read his three books aimed at the public, plus his autobiography, and a two volume biography. Then I began to read and take courses on genetics and epigenetics.
    I hate to agree with the fundies, but in this one case, they are correct. Darwin is a deal killer for Christianity.

  • You’re right, a person can’t read everything, and Darwin just isn’t my area of expertise. The Catholic view of science, though, enables us to be comfortable with considering any scientific discoveries and theories in peace. If you think Darwinism kills Christianity, it’s only because you misunderstand Christianity.

  • “Explain how a voucher politician is personally enriched?”

    They are sending money to their own supporters, cronies or associates. More importantly voucher schools have no market incentive to provide quality education. Especially when you are destroying public schools in the process.

  • You are assuming the fiction that the majority of Catholics in the developed world chose to be part of the sect and weren’t born into it.

    As is the case with most religions which expanded largely demographically, people continue to identify as part of the religion and go through its ceremony despite not bothering to adhere to much of its sectarian principles or even supporting them. Plenty of people who call themselves Catholics have premarital relations, get divorced and use birth control. People like yourself, who really take it seriously are the minority in the sect.

    But as the Catholic Church becomes more actively reactionary, you will find more people annoyed enough to actually leave the Church. You will get your wish of a church entirely populated by fanatics, whose views are so wildly unpopular that the church shrinks to irrelevance in size.

  • ” I am a Catholic who wants to be faithful to all of Mother Church’s teachings, even those that offend our good friend Spuddie”

    No offense taken. You may get your wish of a Church populated by reactionary fanatics in enough generations. But not yet. It will take a while. The more active they are in trying to force their views into the public sphere and give them color of law, the more reasonable people will wash their hands of them.

  • “Every student gets the same voucher.”

    No they aren’t. The well off school districts won’t have a demand for the vouchers. Their public school systems are not only working well, but usually used as a draw to people to a given community.

    The whole point of vouchers are to shunt poor children towards private schools.

    “how does school choice destroy the public school system?”

    For the hundredth time in return, which you don’t ever get, what is paying for the vouchers? Money which was meant to go to public schools. You are taking money away from public schools and paying off private ones. How hard is this concept for you to acknowledge?

  • The very fact of Marcion’s excommunication affirms, of course, that things WERE quite settled early on. And there is no suggestion anywhere in history that Marcion claimed that his gospel was an actual older document. Marcion rejected all of the Old Testament for theological reasons, not textual or historical ones, and therefore rejected the three palpably Jewish gospels and threw out anything from Luke and the Pauline epistles that smacked of Judaism as “interpolations.” It was a textbook case of tailoring evidence to suit an agenda — which is still a favorite pastime of so-called “scholars.”

    Why bring up Marcion, anyway? He probably didn’t exist. None of his supposed works survive. There are no contemporaneous accounts of him. Nothing was written about him by anyone who knew him. All mere nostalgia and vanity… 😀

  • The army of clergy and monks have vast libraries of justifications for any and all positions and propositions ever put forth. The organization is fundamentally about the acquiring of earthly power and benefiting therefrom. Poor Jesus- literally! He had neither. Like the poor faithful in the pews, his reward was deferred to the next life. What a scam! Me, I have had my three score and ten, so am living on borrowed time. My poor mother, a Protestant, feared death and the last judgement. My father, also a Protestant, had no fear, and near the end when he was in his last illness, actually became impatient for death. I really wish there were a last judgment, so I could present my case to the authority- but sadly, I suspect that is a mere fantasy.

  • The Church willfully destroyed libraries, cultures, languages, histories, just bulldozing their way through the Centuries. The Roman church even destroyed the Greek language (in the West), in which the new testament was originally written. Marcion, however, was not so easy to push aside, he survived, and his church continued for a millennium. The year 140, the year of his public excommunication in Rome (which he walked away from by the way) is proof of his importance. It is also proof of the power that the Church of Rome had acquired by that time. It was no mere group of the followers of Jesus, but was a well operating political organization. The belies the notion that the gospels were merely a recording of testimony and tradition. This was hardball politics.

  • I voted against both major parties. It is way past time to have some serious reform which addresses our money driven politics. Does anybody remember citizenship and it responsibilities?

  • I cannot speak to European Masonry, but American Masonry accepts Jews and Catholics, so I cannot see this conspiracy nonsense. At any rate, Masonry is dying out in the U.S. so no need to worry.

  • I am with Ben on this one. “My “free will” is to submit to believe or burn.”
    Thats not love in anybody’s book. It is not even tolerance. Now if heaven is being with your god, I pass. Seriously though, your idea of God makes him manifestly unjust, non-loving, and an egomaniac. Did it ever occur to you that he might very well be insulted my such a depiction?

  • Samuel, I’m surprised at your unthinking acceptance of so much propaganda. The Roman church did not destroy Greek in the west; it simply fell into disuse as repeated barbarian invasions ate away at the wealth, status and culture of the western elites — who had always been the ones to use Greek while the ordinary people spoke vernacular. As for the “libraries,” you surely don’t buy that nonsense about Christians burning the Library of Alexandria, do you?

    Marcion’s religion did not even make it into the middle ages. If he existed, that is…nothing recorded about him was written by any of his contemporaries. Nostalgia and vanity, y’know…

  • Propaganda: ( Congregatio de Propaganda Fide ). We get to thank the Church for that word and the procedure as well.
    Simply fell into disuse? What a lie! “From the beginning the Christians set out to destroy the Gods of the classical world….During their attempt to murder the gods the Christians destroyed the world of those who loved them and could laugh at the while serving them. The result was that, after their victory, chaos ruled again.”
    The old gods did not die of old age- they were murdered! (ISBN 0-684-14449-2)
    The Renaissance, hailed by one and (almost) all, demonstrates only a small part of what was lost for a thousand years. And what did we get in return? Self flagellation, poverty, and ignorance.

  • Not my words, Our Lady’s. I have no reason not to believe Her, Based on what international leaders are doing there is no doubt the Mason’s are in charge.

  • What nonsense. The only reason ANYTHING belonging to the classical world was preserved was because of the church, mostly in the east but in the west as well.

    What did we get in return? Universities, hospitals, the end of the enslavement of a third of Europe’s population and imperial taxation that drained the rest of all but a bare subsistence, technologies that actually benefitted the ordinary people and not merely the glory of Caesar and the elites, and the concept of human rights that distinguishes the west from the rest of the world to this day.

  • Well let’s see. You do not even contest Propaganda. Freedom from enslavement in Europe came courtesy of the Black Death, not any instigation of the Church. The Church continued to own slaves in the New World until it became such an embarrassment, that they were finally freed in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century. Universities and hospitals before the scientific/technology revolution, were little help to the general population, providing only prayer and salvation. Mass literacy was a Protestant effort to promote Bible reading, against the wishes of the Catholic Church. Despite the Church’s claims to the contrary, the Church has stood in the way of science much more than it has either helped or stayed neutral.
    I will stop now and leave you to your Propaganda and your mental enslavement.

  • Slavery dwindled away gradually in Europe due to the steady efforts of the clergy, and had virtually disappeared from the record by the end of the 1100s, long before the Black Death. The Catholic church condemned slavery in the New World but was too far away to exercise effective influence there. And slavery was only an embarrassment to CHRISTIANS — it certainly wasn’t an embarrassment to the “enlightenment men” who were enamoured of the classical thinkers who of course had no problem with slavery because they had no concept of the rights of man created in the image of God. “Justice is equality, but only for equals.” — Aristotle.

    As for science…it was men of the church’s universities, searching for the rational laws underpinning a universe created by a rational God, to whom we owe the scientific method. It did not appear anywhere else and would not have appeared in Rome, either, where the whims of human-like gods were assumed to control the world’s workings. And the difference made by the hospitals of the middle ages was not the kind of medicine employed (they relied too much on ancient Greek ideas) but that they recognized the Christian duty to tend the sick. This did not exist in the ancient world — it was quite in order then to allow the sick to die in the streets when very simple nursing care would have saved many of them had anyone felt the human obligation to do so.

    This ancient world you’re naively mooning after was not a winsome place to be. But I’ll leave you, as well, to your illusions.

  • “Thats not love in anybody’s book. It is not even tolerance. Now if heaven is being with your god, I pass.” And yet you are in effect arguing that the very fact of your being allowed to “pass” is unloving. Do you wish to be FORCED into eternal union with a Being you have deemed unjust and unloving?

  • Yes, Roman cities, not being limited in size like Greek cities, were routinely swept by epidemics. Many Christian converts were made because ordinary poor Christians, who did not fear death, stayed to tend the sick, while ordinary Roman citizens fled. This has nothing to do with hospitals operated by the Church hierarchy.
    Slavery: The Church was the largest slave holder in Europe for centuries. The people who worked the land were sold with the land. They were not allowed to
    leave, travel was restricted everywhere, and the Church profited and maintained control by restricted travel and free movement.
    Starting with Constantine in the Fourth Century, the Church began to hunt down and kill anyone who refused to convert. Temples were looted by the Army. It was a reign of terror. I am so grateful to the gods to live in a post Christian world.
    The blatant dishonesty of your account is immoral. But then again you are an apologist for the Church.

  • You know I am not. You are just in an aggressive and egotistical mood. Typical of those in the employ of the Church.

  • Ryan: “Predictions, especially about the future………” and by imaginary beings….parts of which are dangerous slander- WHEW! You need medication.

  • Ah, so you equate feudalism with slavery… and continue on to speak of “dishonesty.” And yet you have made one groundless claim after another here, first wrt Marcion, then wrt the middle ages, and now wrt slavery. Serfdom even at its worst never compared with chattel slavery, as any slave who ever had a family member killed, raped, or sold away at the whim of the master would heartily agree. The slave was deemed less than human, possessed of no rights whatsoever. The serf, for all his obligations, was a free man created in the image of God and entitled thereby to his life, possessions, family ties, and conscience.

    Interesting that you believe Constantine hunted down and killed pagans when he placed many of them in positions of authority in his imperial court.

    I’m disappointed in you, Samuel. For all your prior postings, I never figured you for a pop mythology dupe.

  • I beg your pardon…I am being completely serious. If the God of the scriptures exists and is the author of all life, and all things exist in Him, then how exactly does one expect to continue to exist for eternity without being in union with Him? You call it unloving for Him to allow us to reject it, and would no doubt call it unloving if He did NOT allow us to reject it (correct me if I’m wrong). I am honestly curious about what it is you DO want. Do you instead wish to be maintained in a separate limbo with a lollipop in hand for eternity? Why should any deity provide that? And why would you wish to be beholden in such a manner to a God you despise? Why should any beings which do not wish to carry out their purpose in the Maker’s creation be allowed to continue in existence by that Maker?

  • The Catholic Church doesn’t think so, they approved the visions. All the events in the life of the person that saw the visions and the miracles would stand to prove the visions true. What meds would you suggest?

  • Your mock condescension not withstanding, the peasants, like the “chattel slaves” you distinguish, their conditions varied dramatically. Like most non lawyers and virtually all Church apologists, you pretend that the law is self enforcing- IT IS NOT! For example, it was commonplace for the feudal master to be “entitled” to deflower the bride before her wedding. In contrast, domestic slaves of many Roman families could, and did, buy their freedom and become slave owners themselves. Personally I condemn all such arrangements, but the Church actively condoned and employed them.
    Free choice, in church parlance, only involved freedom to accept Christianity and its rules or suffer the consequences (death, torture, eternal damnation, and forfeiture of property and position ( so your family was cast adrift to starve.) Uniform, equal freedom of conscience and action within laws made by all citizens, has never been the policy of the Catholic Church.. The Church claims the exclusive right to rule the earth and its peoples, by the leave of their particular god’s authority. Naturally, thereby, they refuse to practice the Golden Rule, and condemn anyone else who claims such right for themselves (certain Muslims) .This is the morality of pigs!
    Since you have caused me loose my good temper, I will desist from any further correspondence, before I loose all my manners.

  • I apologize to you for that uncalled for comment. You are merely a victim of Church fraud. Here in Shelby County Alabama (home of ETWN) we have the visions of the holy Virgin of the field. In pleasant weather, tourists show up and wait for her to appear and speak. Our local Bishop was too candid when he was asked about her authenticity. He said “Well..as long as she doesn’t say anything contrary to Church Doctrine.” And now we know that the Virgin is restricted by Church Doctrine, according to our poor. harried Bishop. What do these Bishop guys do all day, by the way, besides decide who is and is not keeping to the doctrine?
    P.S. For over a decade I did involuntary commitment hearings (the Sheriff had locked the poor folks up for acting dangerously crazy). A sizable proportion of these declared that they had seen religious visions and/or obeyed the voices that they had heard.

  • The mental stability of the seer is always called into question. I would suggest reading about the Our Lady of Good Success and find out for yourself if she was crazy or not.

  • Ryan, I did as you suggested. I see the appeal of this vision to the faithful. All prophecies are premised on the twin notions of determinism and revelation. I reject revelation of future events on several grounds, not the least is that time and contingency are violated. That said, some persons get very impressive notions of the future that are not the result of logical thinking. It is akin to artistic intuition, however, the future cannot be determined, however much we may wish to know it. With enough guesses however, some folks are bound to guess correctly.

  • (sigh) Alright, I’ll keep this short.

    “Except for the fact that they are still going to church, sending their kids to Sunday schools, getting married by priests, sending them to Catholic schools where public schools are sketchy. Yet the overwhelming number of people who identify as Catholics in the developed world use birth control, get divorced, and have premarital relations Catholicism being cultural and only nominally adhered to. They aren’t leaving the church or identifying as nones. They just aren’t taking such directives seriously. This has been going on ever since the Church got disentangled with civil governments. Once it could no longer force people to follow, they simply didn’t and continued on as Catholics.”

    I was right! You did just end up repeating arguments that I already have shown are basically untrue.

    “Cheap denial of obvious history concerning the link between Christianity and imperialism is nothing new from apologists. Why own up to something negative about history when you can just pretend it never happened?”

    Lol, the only one here in denial is you bud.

  • “For example, it was commonplace for the feudal master to be “entitled” to deflower the bride before her wedding.”

    [facepalm]

    Samuel, the “droit du seigneur,” to which you are referring, is a popular MYTH. It never existed. The first suggestion of it is found in a work of FICTION by Voltaire. There is no trace of it to be found in any record prior to that. It makes for interesting movie drama (sorry, Mel) but not much else.

    After this exchange I no longer believe you to be a lawyer, Samuel. Even aside from your entirely lay concept of hearsay, lawyers generally do not swallow unsupported assumptions this easily AND get so emotionally attached to them that they “loose” their manners. I wish you good day.

  • You missed or avoided the argument completely. Most Catholics don’t follow the Church’s rules concerning sexual relations or marriage. The ones seeking to uphold those rules are a distinct but overly vocal minority.

    As for imperialism, I guess it’s just a coincidence that Catholicism spread in countries which were conquered and colonized by those where the Catholic Church was the state church. Why be honest? It doesn’t serve the Church’s interests to be so.

  • The only one avoiding the argument here is you bud. I’m not going to go into detail like my past posts because it would have simply been redundant, not to mention tiring. Same thing goes for what I said with imperialism. Just keep burying your head into the mud, and keep regurgitating the typical false anti-Catholic rhetoric that I have encountered countless times. I’m starting to even wonder if you even read the entirety of my previous comments or if you just focused on the things that you could easily reply to by rehashing the same old comment about how liberal “catholics” are not leaving the Church (when in reality they are).

  • All I have to say here is that divorce rates, teen pregnancy rates, and even polls on abortion and marriage equality are no lower among Catholics than any other average population in the developed world.

    You may consider them “Catholics in name only”, but they represent the majority of the sect. You want a more adherent and compliant sect, you will have a much much smaller one as well. But it is unlikely. The nature of the sects’ growth preclude trying to out crazy the evangelicals. Too many cultural Catholics. Not so many converts.

  • You hide behind a fake name to do slander, while not bothering to look up my name in the list of practicing Al lawyers (since 1976). P.S. Church law, (based entirely on unsupported assumptions) is not a reliable guide to American civil law. As for emotional attachment, you are the pot calling the kettle black.

  • Good grief! You’re a lawyer.
    Now I feel even sorrier for the rest of us than I do for you.

    Now, back to your nonsense. I was born in 1963 – 54 years ago. My father was old when I was born. His year of birth was 1915 – 102 years ago. His mother was born in 1888 – now we’re back 129 years for the oral tradition in my family. Grandma was alive and well during my childhood. She told stories I remember well. I told them to my daughter and intend on telling them to her future children. If she had one today, we could add on the average 80 year life expectancy to that 129 years bringing us to an oral history of 209 years.

    As a geneaologist, I took my father’s personal papers when he died. Among them were Grandma’s immigration and naturalization documents, photographs, her marriage certificate – and not surprisingly these documents, contemporary to the events, fleshed out her stories with verifiable facts so I KNOW that my recollection of her and her life stories is not only intact but verifiable. These are events that were important to her and marginally interesting to me as a child…but I remember them well. That easly makes 209 years of oral history for relatively insignificant events all being truthfully retold.

    Now, would you like to explain how you figure that the single most significant experience in the life of any apostle or disciple of Jesus, events so important to eah of them that dying a martyr’s death to defend their witness of them, the information that each of them spent every remaining day of life preaching and teaching, was lost in a culture that relied on memorization of oral history in a mere “70+ years”.

    I didn’t think you would.

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