Every so often when the discussion of which religious groups “qualify” as Real Christians®, Roman Catholicism will eventually be brought up. Though the Bible allows for leeway in regards to some aspects of religious practice (Romans 14), too much variation inevitably places a religious Christ-following group outside traditional Christianity making it another religion all together i.e., Jehovah’s Witnesses, LDS (Mormon), and I believe Roman Catholicism as well. Below I will cite official and authoritative Roman Catholic (RCC) documents in an effort to show why I believe the Church has fallen into apostacy, as well as other questionable endorsed practices which I find concerning.
One repetitively clear concept taught in the New Testament is that salvation is not something to be earned.
- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
- for by His wounds you were healed (1 Peter 2:24)
- if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (Galatains 2:21)
- But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness (Romans 4:5)
- Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Romans 3:28)
- For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13)
Official RCC teaching is that good works and adherence to the Law is required for salvation.
- Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life (Catholic Catechism Paragraph 2010)
- Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods. (CC 2027)
- The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them; The Second Vatican Council confirms: “The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments (CC 2068)
- For, on behalf of those who fall into sins after baptism, Christ Jesus instituted the sacrament of Penance [...] Concerning which penitence it is written; Be mindful whence thou art fallen; do penance, and do the first works. And again; The sorrow that is according to God worketh penance steadfast unto salvation. And again; Do penance, and bring forth fruits worthy of penance. (Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 14)
- If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon 9)
- If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon 12)
Another essential doctrine is that only through Jesus are we saved.
- Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins (John 8:24)
- This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3)
- Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me (John 14:6)
- And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12)
The RCC, however, has accepted and endorsed pluralism: the idea that one need not be a professing Christian in order to be saved.
Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohammedans who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution On The Church, 16)
Roman Catholics are constantly having to deal with accusations that they raise Mary, Jesus’ mother, to a position of deity. This accusation isn’t unfounded, however. Pope Pius IX writes in Ineffabilis Deus “the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond,
was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot”. The reference is to a passage in Genesis where Jesus is said to crush the head of the serpent.
In his Supremi Apostolatus, Pope Leo VIII tells us that “It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary, and to seek for peace in her aternal goodness; showing that the Catholic Church has always, and with justice, put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God.”
Pope Leo XIII doesn’t make it any better. The Octobri Mense: “With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ.(6) Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother. How great are the goodness and mercy revealed in this design of God!” This is contrary to the testimony of the New Testament which thoroughly attests that we are free to come to Jesus unfettered by anyone or anything.
“O Virgin most holy, none abounds in the knowledge of God except through thee; none, O Mother of God, attains salvation except through thee; none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee.” — Pope Leo XIII, ADIUTRICEM.
“As she suffered and almost died together with her suffering and dying Son, so she surrendered her mother’s rights over her Son for the salvation of the human race. And to satisfy the justice of God she sacrificed her Son, as well as she could, so that it may justly be said that she together with Christ has redeemed the human race.” from Pope Benedict XV INTER SODALICIA
“From our earliest years nothing has ever been closer to Our heart than devotion-filial, profound, and wholehearted-to the most blessed Virgin Mary. Always have We endeavored to do everything that would redound to the greater glory of the Blessed Virgin, promote her honor, and encourage devotion to her.” … “For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation” Pope Pius IX UBI PREMUM
“The development, desired by us, of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is an indication of the Church’s genuine piety. This devotion fits — as we have indicated above — into the only worship that is rightly called “Christian,” because it takes its origin and effectiveness from Christ, finds its complete expression in Christ, and leads through Christ in the Spirit to the Father. In the sphere of worship this devotion necessarily reflects God’s redemptive plan, in which a special form of veneration is appropriate to the singular place which Mary occupies in that plan. Indeed every authentic development of Christian worship is necessarily followed by a fitting increase of veneration for the Mother of the Lord”
“When the liturgy turns its gaze either to the primitive Church or to the Church of our own days it always finds Mary. In the primitive Church she is seen praying with the apostles; in our own day she is actively present, and the Church desires to live the mystery of Christ with her: “Grant that your Church which with Mary shared Christ’s passion may be worthy to share also in his resurrection.” She is also seen represented as a voice of praise in unison with which the Church wishes to give glory to God: “…with her [Mary] may we always praise you.” And since the liturgy is worship that requires a way of living consistent with it, it asks that devotion to the Blessed Virgin should become a concrete and deeply-felt love for the Church, as is wonderfully expressed in the prayer after Communion in the Mass of September 15: “…that as we recall the sufferings shared by the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may with the Church fulfill in ourselves what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.””
“The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is an intrinsic element of Christian worship. The honor which the Church has always and everywhere shown to the Mother of the Lord, from the blessing with which Elizabeth greeted Mary (cf. Lk. 1:42-45) right up to the expressions of praise and petition used today, is a very strong witness to the Church’s norm of prayer and an invitation to become more deeply conscious of her norm of faith.” — Pope Paul VI, MARIALIS CULTUS
The 15 promises of Our Lady of Fatima to Christians who recite the Rosary though not Official RCC, I dont think, it is uncondemned.
In their entirity, the above Papal works are varitable essays of worship to Mary. In them she is virtually equated with God himself. In addition to the words in RCC writings, altars are erected to Mary and they are regularly bowed down to. They are kissed and prayed to. Is there any wonder why Roman Catholicism is viewed as outside Christianity?
Finally, the rampant superstitious activity which is endorsed and uncondemned is very disconcerting. Examples include:
- Crucifixes used to bless or ward off evil
- Scapulars and Rosaries which are prayed and chanted over
- Medals and pendants of saints which are used as protection, to bless, and ward off evil
- Genuflection to crosses, crucifixes, and statues
- Use of statues
- The sign of the cross
- Lighting candles, ringing bells, burning of incense
- Planting statues in yards for blessing
- Making shrines of statues of Mary and the Saints
- Veneration of relics
The examples really could continue and much more documentation exists for my above observations as well. For the sake of space, I have omitted the subjects of purgatory, indulgences, mandatory confession to priests, the magisterium, the papacy, and other practices of the RCC which are either endorsed or not condemned which would cause me to conclude the RCC has veered from Christianity into apostacy. Most, if not all questionable RCC practices are condemned in the Bible itself, which has led to the church opening the Canon to include the Apocrypha, the catechism, and the magisterium, subjugating the rest of the Bible to all three in order to justify their practices.
To any Catholic readers, were you aware of these official RCC documents making these proclamations? If so, how do you defend them?
To non-Catholic readers, besides what I have cited above, what concerns do you have about the teachings of the RCC? Please include documentation, mere assertions will not suffice.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a portion from the comment section.