I've talked with some of you about this already, but for the rest of you still oblivious, here's a little piece of information you should know.
About two years ago I entered the Roman Catholic Church, convinced that it alone was the only true Christian Church. Some of you still remember the interesting dialogues that took place, the rather hateful notes I would post up on Facebook almost every day against Protestantism, and the clear change that took place in me personally. Thanks to organizations like Catholic Answers, or men like Steve Ray, Dave Armstrong, Art Sippo, and other well-known Roman Catholic apologists, my way towards Rome seemed the best idea. Seemed...the best idea.
Unfortunately, there were a few things which, after deeper research and honest inward searching and prayer, just fell apart under scrutiny, fell apart under Christ's light. There are many things that fall under this category, but the main one I'd like to focus on is the Papacy. This note isn't an apologia for my renouncing and rejecting Roman Catholicism, but rather an attempt at giving everyone a fair explanation.
The Church of the Apostles, those first pastors and bishops, was unlike anything we see in modern Rome. In fact, the Roman Church of that time was Greek, no different than any of the other Greek Churches. Further, the Roman See was not even occupied by St. Peter, according to the very correct Church Historian Eusebius. He was not Rome's bishop. He never pastored Rome personally, but instead helped spread the Gospel there along with St. Paul, both of whom shed their blood there for the sake of Christ. For this reason the Roman Church was so highly esteemed, but even more so because Rome was the great city, which ruled the known world at the time. Naturally the Church there held a primacy, not to be confused with the miedeval corruption of supremacy. As time move on, the primacy of honor fell to Constantinople as is recorded in the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople:
"The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome because Constantinople is New Rome."
According to later Christian legend which worked its way into certain early documents unverifiable by actual history, Peter was Rome's first bishop, however as said before the earliest histories tell us he NEVER had a See in Rome. He AND St. Paul appointed Linus as Rome's first bishop, according to Eusebius whose testimony no sound person will dispute. St. Peter also appointed successors in Antioch as well, so in the truest sense the Antiochan bishops may also claim succession from St. Peter.
Then all of a sudden the Bishop of Rome - the Pope - is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra. Again, along with his supposed supremacy, papal infallibility is also not to be found in the Holy Scriptures nor in the church fathers, nor in the Ecumenical Councils. But wait, see what Pope John XXII said concerning this in Quia Quorundam,
"Because the father of lies is said to have so blinded the minds of certain [men], that they by [means of] false madness have obscured Our constitutions—not without much punishable temerity, unless they retract and lean themselves [once more] upon the truth, which these contain—of which one begins: “Ad conditorem canonum,” the other indeed: “Quum inter non nullos,” arranged diligently by previously held deliberation certainly as much with Our brother Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, as with many Archbishops and Bishops, and other prelates of the [local] churches, and not a few masters of sacred theology, and professors of both [kinds] of law [i.e. civil and canon], and promulgated on the counsel of Our aforementioned brothers: lest by daring [and] pernicious deeds their pestiferous doctrine shake the souls of the simple so much, and prevail to lead them into the deviation of their own errors, on the counsel of certain brother [cardinals] We judge soberly to make provision concerning this matter, as follows [below]. Moreover, they have used as much as word as writing to impugn the aforesaid constitutions, for the alleged reason, as is shown: They say that “That which the Roman Pontiffs had defined by [means of] the key of knowledge, in faith and morals, once for all, persists unchangeable to such an extent, that it is not lawful for a successor to call it again into doubt, nor to affirm the contrary,” although concerning those things, which have been ordained by [means of] the key of power, they assert it to be otherwise."
Yet this very subject is reversed in the First Vatican Council,
"Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.
So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema."
Anathema, totally condemned, damned to eternal hell fire, without hope of everlasting life. According to Roman Catholicism I am damned, under the anathema because I reject this invention of papal infallibility, and will not hail the Pope as the Supreme Bishop of the Church. It is not enough to look to Jesus alone for salvation, says the [traditional] Roman Church quite clearly, but one must hold to the papal dogmas as well for salvation, and all the infallible degrees such as the Immaculate Conception, a dogma which I also must reject because it was not found in Scripture or the early fathers and Christian tradition. Mind you, Mary is esteemed as the Mother of God and cleansed by the Holy Spirit to bear Christ, but she was not born sinless according to the earliest fathers, and no thought of merits is to be found in their writings as described in the papal decree.
"Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff." - Pope Boniface 8th, Unam Sanctum
Pope Innocent III ( A.D. 1198-1216 ) "With our hearts we believe and with our lips we confess but one Church, not that of the heretics, but the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which we believe no one is saved." Denzinger 423
Note that it specifies the Roman Catholic Church, meaning all must be in communion with her for salvation.
Pope Pius IX "If any man does not enter the [Roman] Church, or if any man departs from it, he is far from the hope of life, and salvation." Ubi Primum
In Rome's eyes I am far from any hope of salvation since I departed from her. But may I be damned in Rome's eyes and saved in Christ's arms. When salvation is dependant not only on Christ, but on which Church you belong to, despite your faith in Christ according to the Scriptures and the fathers, there is a serious problem at hand. It is a heresy, and cannot be tolerated by the people of God.
There are many more quotes from the popes and certain Roman Councils on this subject, much which would put modern Roman Catholics into a bit of a panic. Vatican Council II certainly reversed quite a few dogmas, which any decent researcher will easily find after examinging carefully all the documents. This is no development of doctrine: it is instead a full-blown evolution of Roman dogma, and full of contradictions. But we'll save that for another day.
Now, I already know Roman Catholics who are Christians, that's not the point here, although salvation is an essential doctrine to be clear on, but we'll save it for another time. The fact is the traditional Roman Catholic system demands subjection to the Papacy for salvation, an adherence to dogmas which cannot be sustained from Scripture or the Fathers or Councils. Nowadays, Rome says practically anyone can be saved. If the Lord tarries, within the next twenty years we'll see new dogmas affirming that.
But to show how the older catechisms contradict this new Roman Catholic Catechism, allow me to provide some quotations.
From "Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine" by Fr. Michael Muller, Adapted for the Family and More Advanced Students in Catholic Schools and Colleges with the Approbation of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, 1876AD. Containing the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, this catechism is without error according to the Holy See:
Lesson XII.—No Salvation Outside of the Roman Catholic Church.
Q. Since the Roman Catholic Church alone is the true Church of Jesus Christ, can any one who dies outside of the Church be saved?
A. He cannot.
Q. Why not?
A. Because one who does not do the will of God cannot be saved.
Q. Is it, then, the will of God that all men should be Catholics?
A. Yes; because it is only in the Roman Catholic Church that they can learn the will of God; that is, the full doctrine of Jesus Christ, which alone can save them.
Q. Did Jesus Christ Himself assure us most solemnly, and in plain words, that no one can be saved out of the Roman Catholic Church?
A. He did, when He said to His Apostles: "Go and teach all nations, and teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. He that believeth not all these things shall be condemned."
Q. Did Jesus Christ assure us in other words of the damnation of those who die out of His Church?
A. He did in these words: "He who will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican." Matt. xviii. 17.
Q. Can you give some further proofs to show that no one can be saved out of the Roman Catholic Church?
A. From these words of Jesus Christ: "Other sheep I have who are not of this fold. them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and they shall be one fold and one shepherd." John x. 16
Q. How can you show from these words of our Lord that all who wish to be saved must be Roman Catholics?
A. Because in this passage He plainly declares that all those of His sheep who are not of His fold (that is, of His Church) must, as a necessary condition of their salvation, be brought to that fold.
Q. What do the Fathers of the Church say about the salvation of those who die out of the Roman Catholic Church?
A. They all, without exception, pronounce them infallibly lost forever.
Q. What did St. Augustine and the other Bishops of Africa, at the Council of Zirta, A.D. 412, say about them?
A. "Whosoever," they said, "is separated from the Catholic Church, however commendable in his own opinion his life may be, he shall, for the very reason that he is separated from the Union of Christ, not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." John iii. 36.
Q. What does St. Cyprian tell us about the salvation of those who die out of the Roman Catholic Church?
A. He says that, "He who has not the Church for his mother cannot have God for his Father;" and with him the Fathers in general say, that "as all who were not in the ark of Noah perished in the waters of the deluge, so shall all perish who are out of the true Church."
Q. Who are out of the pale of the Roman Catholic Church?
A. All unbaptized persons, unbelievers, apostates, excommunicated persons, and all heretics.
Q. How do we know that unbaptized persons are not saved?
A. Because Jesus Christ has said: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John iii. 5.
Q. How do we know that unbelievers are not saved?
A. Because it is said of them that they do not please God. "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
Q. How do we know that apostates are not saved?
A. Because to fall away from the faith is a great sin, which makes one lose the kingdom of heaven.
Q. How do we know that persons justly excommunicated, who are unwilling to do what is required of them before they are absolved, are not saved?
A. Because the sin of great scandal, for which they were as dead members expelled from the communion of the Church, excludes them from the kingdom of heaven.
Q. What is the meaning of the word heretic?
A. Heretic is a Greek word, and means simply a chooser.
Q. Who, then, is a heretic?
A. A baptized person who chooses among the doctrines proposed to him by the Roman Catholic Church, to accept such doctrines as they please him, and to reject the rest.
Q. How do we know that heretics are not saved?
A. Because St. Paul the Apostle assures us that such a chooser or heretic is condemned. "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid; knowing that he who is such an one is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment." Tit. iii. 10, 11.
Q. Are there any other reasons to show that heretics, or Protestants who die out of the Roman Catholic Church, are not saved?
A. There are several. They cannot be saved because
1. They have no divine faith.
2. They make a liar of Jesus Christ, of the holy Ghost, and of the Apostles.
3. They have no faith in Christ.
4. They fell away from the true Church of Christ.
5. They are too proud to submit to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ.
6. They cannot perform any good works whereby they can attain heaven.
7. They do not receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
8. They die in their sins.
9. They ridicule and blaspheme the Mother of God and His Saints.
10. They slander the spouse of Jesus Christ—the Catholic Church.
Q. Why is it that Protestants have no divine faith?
A. Because they do not believe God in those whom He has appointed to teach.
Q. Who is the teacher among Protestants?
A. Every one is his own teacher, his own law-giver and judge in matters of religion.
Q. Was there ever a time when God left men to themselves, to fashion their own religion, to invent their own creed, and their own form of worship?
A. No; from the beginning of the world God established on earth a visible teaching authority, to which it was the bounden duty of every man to submit.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That Protestants, by refusing to submit to that divine teaching authority, cannot have divine faith.
Q. What is the act of faith of a Protestant?
A. O my God, I believe nothing except what my own private judgment tells me to believe; therefore I believe that I can interpret Thy written word—the Holy Scriptures—as I choose. I believe that the Pope is anti-Christ; that any man can be saved, provided he is an honest man; I believe that faith alone is sufficient for salvation; that good works, and works of penance, and the confession of sins are not necessary, etc.
Q. Is this an act of divine faith?
A. It is rather a great blasphemy against God; it is the language of Luther, who, according to his own avowal, learned it from the devil.
Q. But if a Protestant should say—"I have nothing to do with Luther, or Calvin, or Henry VIII., or John Knox; I go by the Bible" what would you answer him?
A. In that case you adopt and go by the principles and spirit of these men, and you change the written Word of God into the word of man.
Q. How so?
A. Because every Protestant interprets Holy Scripture in his own private manner, giving it that meaning which he chooses to give it, and thus, instead of believing the Word of God, he believes rather his own private interpretation of it, which is but the word of man.
Q. Now, what is man without divine faith?
A. Such a man is profane, and devoid of all religion; and for refusing all obedience to his Sovereign Lord, he will never enjoy His presence, or see clearly what he is not willing to believe humbly.
Q. How do Protestants make a liar of Jesus Christ?
A. Jesus Christ says: “Hear the Church." "No;" say Luther and all Protestants, "do not hear the Church, protest against her with all your might!”
Jesus Christ says: "If any one will not hear the Church, look upon him as a heathen and a publican." “No,” says Protestantism, “if any one does not hear the Church, look upon him as an apostle, as an ambassador of God."
Jesus Christ says: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against my Church." "No," says Protestantism, “’Tis false; the gates of hell have prevailed against the Church for a thousand years and more."
Jesus Christ has declared St. Peter, and every successor to St. Peter—the Pope—to be his Vicar on earth. "No," says Protestantism, "the Pope is Anti-Christ."
Jesus Christ says: "My yoke is sweet, and my burden light." Matt. xi. 30. "No," said Luther and Calvin "it is impossible to keep the commandments."
Jesus Christ says: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Matt. xix. 17. "No," said Luther and Calvin, "faith alone, without good works, is sufficient to enter into life everlasting."
Jesus Christ says: " Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish." Luke, iii. 3. "No," said Luther and Calvin, "fasting, and other works of penance are not necessary in satisfaction for sin.”
Jesus Christ says: "This is my body." "No," said Calvin, "this is only the figure of Christ's Body, it will become his body as soon as you receive it."
Jesus Christ says: "I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery." Matt. xix. 9. "No," say Luther and all Protestants, to a married man, “you may put away your wife, get a divorce, and marry another."
Jesus Christ says to every man: “Thou shalt not steal." “No," said Luther to secular princes, “I give you the right to appropriate to yourselves the property of the Roman Catholic Church."
Q. How do Protestants make a liar of the Holy Ghost?
A. The Holy Ghost says in Holy Scripture: "Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred" (Eccles. ix. 1); "Who can say: My heart is clean, I am pure from sin"? (Prov. xx. 9); and "Work your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philip. 11. 12). "No," said Luther and Calvin, "but whosoever believes in Jesus Christ, is in the state of grace."
Q. How do Protestants make liars of the Apostles?
A. St. Paul says: "If I should have faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." 1 Cor. xiii. 2. "No," said Luther and Calvin, "faith alone is sufficient to save us."
St. Peter says that in the Epistles of St. Paul there are many things "hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as also the other Scriptures, to their own perdition." 2 Eph. iii. 16. "No," said Luther and Calvin, "the Scriptures are very plain, and easy to be understood."
St. James says: "Is any sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil, in the name of the Lord." Ch. v. 14. "No," said Luther and Calvin, "that is a vain and useless ceremony."
Q. Now, do you think God the Father will admit into heaven those who thus make liars of His Son Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost, and the Apostles?
A. No; He will let them have their portion with Lucifer in hell, who first rebelled against Christ, and who is the father of liars.
Q. Have Protestants any faith in Christ?
A. They never had.
Q. Why not?
A. Because there never lived such a Christ as they imagine and believe in.
Q. In what kind of Christ do they believe?
A. In such a one of whom they can make a liar, with impunity, whose doctrine they can interpret as they please, and who does not care about what a man believes, provided he be an honest man before the public.
Q. Will such a faith in such a Christ save Protestants?
A. No sensible man will assert such an absurdity.
Q. What will Christ say to them on the day of judgment?
A. I know you not, because you never knew Me.
Q. Can a man be saved who has left the true Church of Christ—the Holy Catholic Church?
A. No; because the Church of Christ is the kingdom of God on earth, and he who leaves that kingdom shuts himself out from the kingdom of Christ in heaven.
Q. Have Protestants left the true Church of Christ?
A. They have, in their founders, who left the Catholic Church either through pride or through the passion of lust and covetousness.
Q. Who were the first Protestants?
A. 1. Martin Luther, a bad German priest, who left his convent, broke the solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, which he had made to God, married a nun, and became the founder of the Lutherans.
2. Henry VIII., a bad Catholic king of England, who murdered his wives, and founded the Episcopalian or Anglican Church.
3. John Calvin, a wicked French Catholic, who was the founder of the Calvinists.
4. John Knox, a bad Scottish priest, who was the founder of the Presbyterians or Puritans.
Q. What great crime did these wicked men commit?
A. They rebelled against the Church of Jesus Christ, and caused a great number of their Catholic countrymen to follow their bad example.
Q. What will be the punishment of those who wilfully rebel against the Holy Catholic Church?
A. Like Lucifer, and the other rebellious angels, they will be cast into the everlasting flames of hell.
Q. Who has assured us of this?
A. Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God.
Q. What are His words?
A. "He who will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican." MAtt. xviii. 17.
Q. What does Jesus Christ tell us in these words?
A. He tells us plainly that he who is out of His Church, and does not obey her, is before Him as the heathen and publican.
Q. What follows from this?
A. It follows that, as the heathen is damned, so, also, all those will be damned who die out of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Q. Can a man be saved who is too proud to submit to the Head of the Church of Christ, and despises Jesus Christ in His representative—the Pope?
A. He cannot; because Jesus Christ says: "He who despiseth you (the Apostles and their successors) despiseth me."
Q. Do Protestants despise Jesus Christ in the person of St. Peter and his successors?
A. They do; for Luther taught them that whoever does not oppose the authority of the Pope cannot be saved. 1 Vol. Germ. Edit., f. 353.
Q. Do you think Christ can admit into Heaven him by whom He is despised?
A. This is impossible, and of such a one is true what St. Paul says: "He that resisteth the power that is from God, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation." Rom. xiii. 1,2.
Q. Can any one enter into the Kingdom of Heaven without good works?
Q. How do we know this?
A. Because on the last day of judgment Christ will say to the wicked: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. For I was hungry and you gave me not to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me not to drink." Matt. xxv. 41, 42.
Q. Do not Protestants perform such good works?
A. Many of them do.
Q. Will they be saved on account of such good works?
A. By no means; because works, however good in themselves, performed outside of the church established by Jesus Christ, are not accompanied and vivified by divine faith, without which it is impossible to please God, and, therefore, they do not, they cannot merit the everlasting joys of Heaven. As faith without works is dead, so also works without faith are dead and cannot save the doer from damnation.
Q. What does Jesus Christ say of those who do not receive His Body and Blood?
A. Except you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you shall not have life in you. John vi. 54.
Q. Do Protestants receive the Body and Blood of our Lord?
A. No, because their ministers are not priests, and consequently have no power from Jesus Christ to say Mass, in which, by the words of consecration, bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That they will not enter into life everlasting, and deservedly so, because they abolished the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
Q. What was the consequence of the abolition of Mass?
A. By abolishing the Mass, they robbed God the Father of the infinite honor which Jesus Christ renders Him therein, and themselves of all the blessings which Jesus Christ bestows upon those who assist at this holy sacrifice with faith and devotion. "Wherefore the sin of the young men (the sons of Heli) was exceeding great before the Lord, because they withdrew men from the sacrifice of the Lord." 1 Kings ii. 17.
Q. Do you believe that God the Father will admit into heaven these robbers of His infinite honor?
A. By no means; because if those are damned who steal temporal goods of their neighbor, how much more will those be damned who deprive God of His infinite honor and their fellow-men of the infinite spiritual blessings of the Mass.
Q. Can a man be saved who dies in the state of mortal sin?
A. He cannot; because God cannot unite Himself to a soul in heaven who, by mortal sin, is His enemy.
Q. Do Protestants commit other mortal sins besides those above mentioned?
A. Very many besides.
Q. How do you prove this?
A. If it is a mortal sin for a Roman Catholic wilfully to doubt only one article of his faith, it is also, most assuredly, a mortal sin for Protestants wilfully to deny not only one truth, but almost all the truths revealed by Jesus Christ.
Q. Do they die in the sins of apostasy, blasphemy, slander, etc.?
A. They do, because all die in mortal sin who, having grievously offended Almighty God, are nor willing to confess their sins.
Q. How do we know this?
A. Because Jesus Christ assures us that those sins which are not forgiven by His apostles and their successors, by means of confession, will not be forgiven. "Whose sins you retain they are retained." John xx. 22, 23.
Q. Are Protestants willing to confess their sins to a Catholic Bishop or priest, who alone has power from Christ to forgive sins? "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them."
A. No, for they generally have an utter aversion to confession, and therefore their sins will not be forgiven throughout all eternity.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That they die in their sins and are damned.
Q. If any one loves God, will he also love the Mother of God and the Saints?
A. He will, undoubtedly.
Q. Do Protestants love the Mother of God and the Saints?
A. They do not, or they would not ridicule and blaspheme the Mother of God and the Saints.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That Protestants will never be admitted into the company of the Saints in heaven, whom they have ridiculed and blasphemed on earth.
Q. Would a great king of this world punish most severely one who slanders the Queen?
A. He would.
Q. Is the Catholic Church the Spouse of Jesus Christ, the King of heaven and earth?
A. She is, and St. Paul assures us that "Jesus Christ loves His church, that He died for her in order that He might have a glorious church, having neither spot nor wrinkle, but holy and without blemish." Eph. v. 25-27.
Q. Have Protestants ever ceased to slander her?
Q. How do they slander the Spouse of Jesus Christ?
A. The Protestant Episcopalian book of homilies, for instance, says: "Laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages and degrees of men, women, and children of entire Christendom had been drowned in abominable idolatry."
Q. Is idolatry a grievous sin?
A. It is one of the most grievous sins that can be committed.
Q. Could Protestants ever prove that the Catholic Church, the Spouse of Christ, became guilty of this sin?
A. Never; on the contrary, all know that the Catholic Church has abolished idolatry and has always held it in abomination.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That Protestants commit the great sin of slander against the Spouse of Christ.
Q. Can they commit this great sin without accusing Jesus Christ at the same time of having abandoned that glorious Spouse, whom He loves so ardently?
A. They cannot.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That the vengeance of Jesus Christ shall sooner or later overtake Protestants for committing the sins of horrid blasphemy and slander.
Q. But is it not a very uncharitable doctrine to say that none can be saved out of the Church?
A. On the contrary, it is a very great act of charity to assert this doctrine most emphatically.
A. Because Jesus Christ Himself and His apostles have taught it in very plain language.
Q. Is it not great charity to warn one's neighbor when he is in danger of falling into a deep abyss?
A. It is indeed.
Q. Are not all those who are out of the Church in very great danger of falling into the abyss of hell?
A. They are.
Q. Is it not, then, great charity to warn them of this danger?
A. It would be as great a cruelty not to warn them.
Q. Are all those who are out of the Church equally guilty and damnable before God?
A. No; some are more guilty than others.
Q. Who are least guilty and damnable?
A. Those who, without any fault of theirs, do not know Jesus Christ or His doctrine at all.
Q. Who are most guilty and damnable?
A. Those who know the Catholic Church to be the only true Church, but do not embrace her faith, as also those who could know her if they would candidly search, but who, through indifference and other culpable motives, neglect to do so.
Q. What are we to think of the salvation of those who are out of the pale of the Church without any fault of theirs, and who never had any opportunity of knowing better?
A. Their inculpable ignorance will not save them; but if they fear God and live up to their conscience, God, in His infinite mercy, will furnish them with the necessary means of salvation, even so as to send, if needed, an angel to instruct them in the Catholic faith, rather than let them perish through inculpable ignorance.
Q. Is it then right for us to say that one who was not received into the Church before his death, is damned?
Q. Why not?
A. Because we cannot know for certain what takes place between God and the soul at the awful moment of death.
Q. What do you mean by this?
A. I mean that God, in His infinite mercy, may enlighten, at the hour of death, one who is not yet a Catholic, so that he may see the truth of the Catholic faith, be truly sorry for his sins, and sincerely desire to die a good Catholic.
Q. What do we say of those who receive such an extraordinary grace, and die in this manner?
A. We say of them that they die united, at least, to the soul of the Catholic Church, and are saved.
Q. What, then, awaits all those who are out of the Catholic Church, and die without having received such an extraordinary grace at the hour of death?
A. Eternal damnation.
Q. But are there not many who would lose the affections of their friends, their comfortable homes, their temporal goods, and prospects in business, were they to become Catholics? Would not Jesus Christ excuse them under such circumstances from becoming Catholics?
A. As to the affections of friends, Jesus Christ has solemnly declared that: "He who loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me," Matt. x. 37; and to the loss of temporal gain He has answered: "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?" Mark viii. 36.
Q. But would it not be enough for such a one to be Catholic in heart only, without professing his religion publicly?
A. No; for Jesus Christ has solemnly declared that, "He who shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him the Son of Man shall be ashamed when he shall come in his majesty, and that of his Father, and of the holy angels." Luke ix. 26.
Q. But might not such a one safely put off being received into the Church till the hour of death?
A. This would be to abuse the mercy of God.
Q. What might be the punishment for this sin?
A. To lose the light and grace of faith, and die a reprobate.
Q. What else keeps many from becoming Catholics?
A. It is this; they know very well that, if they become Catholics, they must lead honest and sober lives, be pure, and check their sinful passions, and this they are unwilling to do. "Men love darkness rather than light," says Jesus Christ, "because their deeds are evil." There are none so deaf as those that will not hear.
Q. What follows from what has been said on salvation in the Roman Catholic Church alone?
A. That it is very impious for one to think and to say that it matters little what a man believes provided he be an honest man.
Q. What answer can you give to a man who speaks thus?
A. I would ask him whether or not he believed that his honesty and justice was so great as that of the Scribes and Pharisees in the Gospel?
Q. In what did the honesty and justice of the Scribes and Pharisees consist?
A. They were constant in prayer, they paid tithes according to the law, gave great alms, fasted twice a week, and compassed sea and land to make a convert and bring him to the knowledge of the true God.
Q. What did Jesus Christ say of this justice of the Pharisees?
A. He says: "Unless your justice shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matt. v. 20.
Q. Was, then, the righteousness of the Pharisees very defective in the sight of God?
A. Most undoubtedly. Their righteousness was all outward show and ostentation. They did good only to be praised and admired by men; but within, their souls were full of impurity and malice. They were lewd hypocrites, who concealed great vices under the beautiful appearance of love for God, charity to the poor, and severity to themselves. Their devotion consisted in exterior acts, and they despised all who did not live as they did; they were strict in the religious observances of human traditions, but scrupled not to violate the commandments of God.
Q. What are you then to think of those men who say: "It matters little what a man believes, provided he be honest"?
A. That their exterior honesty, like that of the Pharisees, may be sufficient to keep them out of prison, but not out of hell.
Q. Should a non-Catholic say: "I would like very much to believe the doctrine of the Catholic Church, but I cannot," how would you answer?
A. That, without doubt, it is the will of God, that "all men be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim. ii. 4; but it is, at the same time, the will of God that you should earnestly employ all the proper means to acquire this necessary knowledge; otherwise, you plainly show that you do not sincerely desire to believe.
Q. What are the means you speak of?
A. Sincerity of heart which must prove itself,
1. By a most earnest desire to know the true religion,
2. By a diligent and persistent search for it,
3. By fervent and frequent prayer to God for the gift of faith,
4. And lastly, by a firm resolution to trample underfoot every obstacle that might hinder or retard one from embracing the known truth.
Q. But will one not lose his dear liberty if he believes and does what the Roman Catholic Church teaches?
A. No; on the contrary, he will then only enjoy true liberty, for he only is free whom the truth makes free.
Q. Cannot God do all things that He pleases?
A. He can.
A. Because He is supreme Liberty itself.
Q. But can God sin?
A. He cannot.
Q. Are not the angels and saints in heaven free?
A. They are perfectly free, because they partake of the liberty of God.
Q. But can the saints sin?
A. They cannot.
Q. Is it, then, a mark of liberty to be under the power of sin, in following your passions, and so going to perdition?
A. This is no power or mark of liberty at all.
Q. What is it, then?
A. It is rather a mark of weakness and misery.
Q. What does the power of sin imply?
A. The possibility of becoming a slave of sin and the devil.
Q. Are those then truly free who are greatly under the power of sin, and thus go to hell?
A. They are rather the miserable slaves of sin and of their passions.
Q. What must necessarily become of them if they remain under this power of sin and of their passions?
A. They will become the slaves of the devil in hell for all eternity.
Q. Who, then, can call himself truly free?
A. He who wills and does what God wishes him to do for his everlasting happiness.
Q. If God, then, as we have seen, wishes that men should be saved only in the holy Roman Catholic Church, does a man lose, or does he enjoy liberty, when he believes and does what the Church teaches?
A. Then, indeed, he enjoys true liberty, and makes a proper use of it.
Q. What do you say of a man whose power of will is very great, and who hardly experiences any difficulty in following the teaching of the Church?
A. Such a man is truly free.
Q. Do Catholics, then, who faithfully live up to the teaching of the Church, enjoy greater liberty than Protestants and unbelievers, who believe and do as they please?
A. They do, indeed, because they are the children of the light of truth, that leads them to heaven, whilst those who live out of the Church are the children of the darkness of error, that leads them finally into the abyss of hell.
Q. If no one can be saved except in the Roman Catholic Church, what are all who are out of it bound to do?
A. They are obliged to become members of the Church.
Q. Does not common sense tell this to every non-Catholic?
A. It does.
Q. How so?
A. Because every non-Catholic believes that every practical member of the Catholic Church will be saved.
Q. What follows from this?
A. It clearly follows that when there is question about eternal salvation and eternal damnation, a sensible man will take the surest way to heaven.
Q. Will every one who is a member of the Catholic Church be saved?
A. No; only practical members will be saved; but those who are dead members, that is, bad Catholics, will be condemned to hell.
Q. Who is a practical member of the Catholic Church?
A. He who firmly believes all the truths contained in the Apostles' Creed, keeps the commandments of God and of the Church, and uses the means of grace, that is, the sacraments and prayer.
Q. Where do you learn all this?
A. In the Christian doctrine.
Q. Whose duty is it to teach the Christian doctrine?
A. This is the duty of the pastors of the Catholic Church.
Q. Is it very pleasing to God to instruct men in the Christian doctrine?
A. Yes; it is one of the holiest works, and most pleasing to God.
Q. Whose duty is it to attend to the explanation of the Christian doctrine?
A. This is the duty of all, but especially of those who are more or less ignorant of the Christian religion.
Q. Is God much pleased with those who eagerly listen to the explanation of the Christian doctrine?
A. God is so pleased with them that He often showed His pleasure by miracles.
Q. Is God also much displeased with those who do not care for the Christian doctrine?
A. God is so displeased with them that He often showed His displeasure by frightful punishments.
Q. What should we do when we hear the Christian doctrine explained?
A. We should listen to it with the intention of profiting by it.
Q. What do you call the book which briefly contains the Christian doctrine in the form of questions and answers?
A. The Catechism.
Q. Of what, then, does the Catechism treat?
A. The Catechism treats of what we must believe, of what we must do, and of the means of grace which we must use; that is, of the sacraments and prayer.
Not only Protestants, but Orthodox as well, are damned to eternal hellfire according to the traditional Roman doctrine.
“In the second place, we ask whether you and the Armenians obedient to you believe that no man of the wayfarers outside the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience to the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved.” - Pope Clement VI, Super Quibusdam, 1351AD
Another thing contrary to the Gospel is Rome's traditional teaching that infants and damned to hell if they die without baptism. Interestingly enough the East never had this problem, but only the West.
Of the many alledged heresies of John Wyclif, Pope Martin V at the Council of Constance formally and officially condemned the following proposition:
"Those who claim that the children of the faithful dying without sacramental baptism will not be saved, are stupid and presumptuous in saying this." - Session 15, 1415AD
Once again, the idea that it is stupid to say dead unbaptized children burn in hell is utterly condemned formally by the pope. Rome, at least traditional Rome, taught, proclaimed, and professed that all unbaptized dead infants suffer torments in hellfire. Wyclif taught against this, and was condemned for it.
From the very same Council,
"This holy synod, therefore, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, repudiates and condemns, by this perpetual decree, the aforesaid articles [of John Wyclif, his teachings, pamphelts, and books] and each of them in particular; and it forbids each and every Catholic henceforth, under pain of anathema, to preach, teach, or hold the said articles or any one of them.” - Session 15
This Roman Council infallibly declared Wyclif a heretic, his teachings heresies, plainly noting he was of "cursed memory", and that any Roman Catholic holding to any of his teachings was under the dreaded anathema. This is a perpetual decree, said the Roman Ecumenical Council, and anyone not holding to it is damned in Rome's eyes. Again, the Greek Churches never proposed or had this problem, but only the Roman Church.
To be certain unbaptized infants perish in hell according to Rome, let us turn to what another pope and council says,
“If anyone says that recently born babies should not be baptized even if they have been born to baptized parents; or says that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins, but incur no trace of the original sin of Adam needing to be cleansed by the laver of rebirth for them to obtain eternal life, with the necessary consequence that in their case there is being understood a form of baptism for the remission of sins which is not true, but false: let him be anathema.” - Council of Trent, Session 5
It is quite clearly implied that unbaptized infants perish in eternal hellfire if they should die. Further, the Roman Catechism - or also called the Catechism of the Council of Trent - once the universal catechism by replaced by the new one, declared thus:
"Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them to remain without the grace of the Sacrament longer than necessity may require, particularly at an age so tender as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death." - Catechism of Trent http://www.freecatholicebooks.com/books/catechism_of_trent.pdf
Interestingly enough, Limbo was first a Pelagian fable, a heresy denounced by Rome but revived by scholastics like Thomas Aquinas. It was never a Roman Catholic dogma, and therefore subject to change. Pope Benedixt 16th goes against traditional Roman teaching in asserting unbaptized infants see Heaven should they die. In fact, he proclaims Wyclif's heresy, and according to Rome is under the anathema himself!
"The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of the children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk” – Condemned as false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools." - Pope Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei, 1794AD
Besides the Second Vatican Council contradicting much of Rome's old teachings, thus calling to question whether this Church is truly the one and only Church, infallible, and a means of total salvation, the very fact of the papacy being built on a falsehood is enough for a faithful member to renounce his religion and hold fast to Jesus Christ.
For so long I had left Him, and now recently, amidst my mistakes and sins, am rushing back into His arms. I lied to myself in thinking I had found the truth in Rome, and in turn I lied to others. I apologize to you all.
There is so much that cannot be all told here. The Scriptures and Church history speaks for itself as a testimony against Roman Catholicism, the ever-changing, ever-evolving Church, and her papacy. It is so unlike Apostolic Rome that it cannot truthfully be called 'Apostolic' anymore. The essential truths have been compromised, the Gospel tarnished, and Christ removed from His throne and in His stead a man, the pope, as supreme head over the Church. Christ, visible in the Eucharist, is the true Head of the Church and no other. Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, and other Protestant groups proclaim the mystery of the Eucharist, but the Greek Churches even more so, maintaining that ancient biblical and historical doctrine of the Last Supper. Transubstantiation is a false doctrine not declared in Scripture, and on that note I will say even the Presbyterians and Reformed Churches proclaim a very sound Eucharistic teaching, naturally contrary to Rome's and perhaps to Luther's, but certainly rejecting Zwingle's teaching all the same. Given the description of the Eucharist from a Reformed perspective, I would seriouslly find no reason to reject it. But how unlike this teaching does Rome preach! Contrary to all that is taught in Scripture, contrary to St. Paul's own words,
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. - Col. 1:15-23
Not a word of a visible head besides Christ, but rather this Apostle stresses that Christ IS VISIBLE, the Icon of the Invisible God, and that HE THE VISIBLE CHRIST is ALONE the Supreme Head of the Christian Church. No bishop has the right to such authority, no human creature should dare take this role for himself, for it belongs to Jesus alone, Him alone, and no other. The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing even to the joints of bone and marrow: let the Holy Scriptures speak then and bring you into His light, out of the mangled interpretations from popes and cardinals, and let the Holy Spirit lead you out from the lies proclaimed in Rome.
I bear no hatred against any Roman Catholic: I love them, many of whom are my dearest, most dearest friends, and I hope will remain that way. If you are honest with yourself, honest with Christ, you must examine the claims of the Roman Church and see if you truly follow Christ, or the evolved teachings of men. I say all of this knowing full-well my relationship with some Roman Catholics will never be the same again, and perhaps that may well be, but so be it for the sake of Christ. If I am condemned by Rome then so be it, let me be under the anathema. I know in whom I believe, and I know He is faithful to the end, even though I am many times faithless to Him. But I look forward to eternal life, not to this present world, though I'm thankful to be where I am, I press onward in His Truth, drawing ever-nearer to Him in my pains, despite my sins, knowing He is more than ready to forgive.
This is it. I pray for you all, and I ask you to pray for me. Do not think this was a sudden choice, but it spanned almost a year if not more of continual searching, and now I've found Him again, or rather He found me. A prodigal has come home.
God, may Your Truth be shown, may Your Word speak, may Your Light show the way and guide us in Your Truth. Amen.
Christ, have mercy. Amen.
In case any of you are wondering which church I'm leaning towards now, I'm sincerely seeking out the Reformed Christian faith. That's the "Calvinist" faith specifically, and believe me I'm just as much surprised about this as you are! But I haven't found the doctrine of grace preached and taught so faithfully according to the biblical texts as I have found in Calvinism. I don't think I have much of a choice, but this freedom I'm feeling inside me despite my INNUMERABLE sins is a bit of a good sign. A bit ;) Don't be surprised if I announce I'm attending the local Presbyterian church in town. God bless all.