Lanternarius Press

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FACEBOOK FRIEND

Dear Friend,

I am fairly active on Facebook. I have friends and family all over the world. We chat, mostly about politics and religion. A few days ago, I received an entry addressing something that Pope Francis had stated a few days previous. According to this entry, Pope Francis had stated that a personal relationship with Jesus is not to be a goal for Catholics. I never got to read the whole essay, because I went to the comments first. That is when I saw your long response. I will not quote all of it, but here are a few highlights I take exception with!

Your first sentence was: "Catholics are thieves". I will admit that not all people calling themselves "Catholics" are following the teachings of the Church. I will admit that many today do not even try to follow the teachings of the Church. But to accuse the Church of having a dogma promoting theft is hardly factual!

"Catholics are murderers". You pointed to the murder of Baptists at some point in the past. And you pointed to the Inquisition. Yes, there have been animosities on both sides. Christianity became politicized early on. Neither side is innocent. Queen Mary of England had probably 900 people killed in her five year reign. Queen Elizabeth ruled longer and had more killed. Anabaptists were illegal in England because their odd beliefs were deemed to be unstable for religion (and the government was Anglican). John Calvin, one of the leading reformers, declared Catholics incapable of attaining Heaven because of their beliefs in the 1500s. That will get people in an uproar!

Several countries before and during the Reformation established Inquisitions to rid the countries of those who were seen to uphold instability. Portugal and Spain were among them. They were against Muslims and the Jews who were supporting the Muslims at that time. Of course, this was after the Muslims, in the late 600s and early 700s, took over both countries and fought the Christians for 800 years until finally being thrown out by Ferdinand and Isabella (yes, the same ones).

"The Catholics added books to the Bible." The arrangement of the books in both the Old and New Testaments was established long before there was a major rift in the Catholic Church, in the fifth century. As a matter of fact, there exist remnants of the books of the New Testament, the Muratorian fragment, from around 200, indicating that the choice of several of the books was pretty much established by then. Thereafter, some of the epistles, and Apocalypse, were discussed as relevant for another two hundred years, or by 382 at the Council of Rome. These same books, as the Catholic Bible appears today, were re-established as the complete work at the Council of Trent, 1545-1563. This was at the same time that Martin Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and others were teaching their versions of Christianity. Some of the books in the Bible, like Tobit, Ruth, Macchabees I and II and various chapters in Daniel, were deemed not divinely inspired, and were relegated by the reformers to be considered "interesting reading", not canonical in nature.

"Catholics worship idols, like that cloth in Turin." There is a world of difference between worship and honor. I honor my dead grandmother, but I do not worship her. I even have a picture of her and say hello to her occasionally. I hardly think that the picture itself is going to hear or acknowledge me. But my grandmother in Heaven, an assumption on my part, may hear, or if she is in Purgatory, my prayer may lessen her suffering and rush her that much faster to the Beatific vision. In like manner, I do not worship the shroud of Turin. I worship Him who was wrapped in it. I am fascinated by the shroud and, being a scientist, read what I can of the theories on its development. That is hardly worship. The Eucharistic hosts which have been converted to myocardium: well, that IS Jesus, so I can worship those. Too bad the Protestants can't see these things for what they are.

You identify yourself as an ordained Baptist minister. I suggest that you may want to do more historical reading and delve into facts before blasting hatred about something of which you know little. I respectfully offer you an ongoing conversation so that you can more fully learn about our religion.

Your friend,

Debbie

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