PROVIDENCE, RI (Catholic Online) – Bishop Thomas J. Tobin is a faithful and courageous Catholic Bishop. He has stood strong in his defense of the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death as well as his defense of true marriage and the family and society founded upon it. He has also tried to help erring Catholics, including Catholic politicians in his own Diocese, to turn from error and turn toward the truth.
This good Bishop is now faced with the continuing moral erosion which has as one of its bad fruits, the movement to eliminate marriage and the family and society founded upon it by giving a moral and legal equivalency to homosexual relationships. Last week New York passed the “Marriage Equality Act” which uses the Police power of the State to force a legal equivalency between homosexual partnerships and authentic marriage between a man and a woman. On Wednesday of this week the Rhode Island state Senate passed HB 6103 which authorizes same-sex civil unions and gives them the same rights and responsibilities as married couples.
The legislation contained “religious exemptions”. However, a group of homosexual equivalency activists calling themselves “Marriage Equality Rhode Island”, purporting to represent the “LGBTI” (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex) community issued this statement opposing the legislation precisely because of those religious exemptions:
“We are extremely disappointed that the Senate brazenly ignored the commonsense objections raised by equality and civil rights leaders here and across the country. This civil union bill contains dangerous and discriminatory language that, without question, will cause significant harm to countless gay and lesbian couples in loving, committed relationships, and we will continue to fight it through whatever means are necessary.
“Furthermore, we renew our request that the governor veto this hurtful and ill conceived bill. To not do so would be a slap in the face to the gay and lesbian community, and every Rhode Islander who cares about equal rights and protections for all our state’s citizens.”
Notice how woefully intolerant these new cultural revolutionaries are of those who disagree with their brave new world.
The most prominent scriptural theme in the liturgical text of the Church when it comes to the feast of the Assumption, which we are celebrating happily today. You can see, if you had a missalette that the reading for the Vigil of the Assumption has some text that at first might seem to be rather odd and out of place. For instance, we had a reading from 1st Chronicles 15. It doesn’t mention Mary. All it talks about is how David assembled all Israel and Jerusalem to bring the Ark of the Lord to the place which he had prepared for it. It talks about how the Levites then bore the Ark of God on their shoulders with poles as Moses had ordained and then how David commands all of this music and all of this rejoicing.
Then it describes, finally how the Ark is brought into the tabernacle which David had pitched for it and they offer all these sacrifices and peace offerings to God, and then David turns around and blesses the people in the name of the Lord. And you’re thinking, “Why choose this text? There are literally thousands of texts to choose from, why a text about a box? And all of these guys jumping and singing and dancing around a box, and putting it in a tent and then singing and dancing and offering sacrifices and blessing people in the text?”
There is probably nothing more disturbing to Protestants than the profound devotion which Catholics have for the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this program Scott begins to explain the Marian doctrines by turning to the Bible. He spends a considerable amount of time looking at the Book of Genesis and the Prophet Isaiah to show how the role of Mary in salvation history was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. He then takes these Old Testament insights and shows how the writers of the New Testament see in Mary the Mother of Christ – the new Eve and the new Mother of humanity.
As you probably know, this is our third installment in a series of five sessions that we are spending together discussing how to answer common objections, questions regarding key tenets that are distinctive to the Catholic Church. We have focused upon the Pope and yesterday we looked at purgatory. This morning we want to focus on Mary and the Marian doctrines and devotions of the Catholic Church to see where in scripture do we see, not necessarily logical demonstrations that are brought forth from proof texts that kind of force the mind against the will to give in and to acquiesce in these beliefs, but where do we find in scripture the reflections and the illustrations and the assumptions and the conclusions that the Catholic Church affirms with regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Before I begin with the technical definitions and then the Biblical-historical defense and evidences and so on, I would like to just briefly just share my own personal experience. The Pope was a doctrine that was very difficult for me and so was Mary. Both of those were dealt with in terms of historical evidence and Biblical evidence and basically, I was done. Purgatory was different. I came to a conclusion that sufficient evidence exists for an intermediate state between heaven and hell on the basis of the Bible and ancient Jewish practices of praying for the dead and evidences in the early Christian Church that I will review this morning. But there was still a very big emotional block. Very big. It’s hard to describe. I’ve tried and I’ve really failed every time to put it into words because – well, for two reasons.
On the one hand, as an Evangelical Protestant, I had firm convictions about the finished work of Jesus Christ; that He accomplished our redemption on the cross. Those convictions I still hold fast to. Every Christian, every Catholic must. The work of our redemption is accomplished. It is finished. But the application of that redemptive work of Christ by the Holy Spirit is another matter, one that I did not really come to grips with because it involves suffering which nobody wants to come to grips with – either suffering in this life or suffering afterwards to expiate or to repay or to provide restitution for the effects of sin.
Many people think that Vatican II’s primary vision of the Church as a communion was summarized in the phrase, “The People of God,” but the Old Testament roots for that phrase, “People of God,” “am’ Yahweh” actually has as its primary meaning, “Family of God.” That term “people,” am’ literally denotes kinship, so it could be translated “kinsmen” or “Family of God,” and that’s how most Old Testament scholars translate it. So when we look at the Pope, as we will this morning, we are going to be looking at him, not as some tyrant, not as some authoritarian “know-it-all” and not as some magician who can just kind of concoct a new revelation to satisfy all parties, or anything like that. We are going to be looking at a father figure that Christ has established over the family that He has purchased with His own blood.
Now, there are many misconceptions that people have. They sometimes think that the teaching of the Church is that the Pope is infallible; therefore, he can’t sin. That’s nonsense, although the present Pontiff goes to confession, I understand, at least once a week. He’s got to have something to confess for it to be a valid sacrament administered to him. Others think that he always says the best thing at the right time. No, the Church has never insisted upon the fact that the Pope will always say the best thing at the right time. Rather, the teaching of the Church would allow for the Pope perhaps to postpone out of cowardice, a right thing. Or when he says the truth, when he teaches the truth, he might do so in a way that includes an ambiguity.
No episode in the history of the Catholic Church is so misunderstood as the condemnation of Galileo. It is, in Newman’s phrase, the one stock argument used to show that science and Catholic dogma are antagonistic. To the popular mind, the Galileo affair is prima facie evidence that the free pursuit of truth became possible only after science “liberated” itself from the theological shackles of the Middle Ages. The case makes for such a neat morality play of enlightened science versus dogmatic obscuratism that historians are seldom tempted to correct the anti-Catholic “spin” that is usually put on it. Even many intelligent Catholics would prefer that the whole sorry affair be swept under a rug
Since the Galileo case is one of the historical bludgeons that are used to beat on the Church–the other two being the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition–it is important that Catholics understand exactly what happened between the Church and that very great scientist. A close look at the facts puts to rout almost every aspect of the reigning Galileo legend.
Usually when I hear the name “Roman Catholic Church” it’s from a Protestant who wants to save me from the Whore of Babylon – the “Roman Catholic Church”. Naturally, I take exception to this.
So when I hear a Catholic or even a Parish assign the moniker “Roman Catholic Church” to him/her/it’s self, it tends to grate on me a little bit.
Hence, this post…
The Creed which we recite on Sundays and holy days speaks of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As everybody knows, however, the Church referred to in this Creed is more commonly called just the Catholic Church. It is not, by the way, properly called the Roman Catholic Church, but simply the Catholic Church.
The term Roman Catholic is not used by the Church herself; it is a relatively modern term, and one, moreover, that is confined largely to the English language. The English-speaking bishops at the First Vatican Council in 1870, in fact, conducted a vigorous and successful campaign to insure that the term Roman Catholic was nowhere included in any of the Council’s official documents about the Church herself, and the term was not included.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
It’s not just those of us on Earth who are supporting each other – we have lots of friends in higher places… And they don’t just sit there…