Here are excerpts from the book "The 40 questions most frequently asked about the Catholic Church by non-Catholics", by Rev. A. W. Terminiello. (The full text can be found on the internet at this address: mafg.home.ispdirect.com/que40cvr.htm)
What are some of the differences between the Catholic and the Protestant versions of the Bible?
The chief difference is in the omission of seven complete books and parts of two others from the Old Testament in the Protestant versions. The books omitted are:
Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, I Macabees, II Macabees, Esther (part), Daniel (part).
These omissions should certainly be a matter of concern and investigation. The entire Christian world accepted them as the inspired Word of God until the Reformation. If they did not belong there, then God had permitted the entire Christian world to be led astray for more than a thousand years. On the other hand, if they DO belong there, then Protestants are being deprived of a good portion of revelation and the inspired Word. No one would presume to say that anything inspired by God is unimportant.
By what right does the Catholic Church teach doctrines which are not found in the Bible? Is this not what St. Mark calls "Making the word of God of no effect through your traditions? » or what St. Matthew calls "Teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men"?
This certainly would present a problem for the sincere seeker after truth who believes that all revelation is found in the Bible and the Bible ALONE.
By tradition we mean the official interpretation of the teaching Church, clarifying the written teachings of the Apostles. It also includes the UNWRITTEN teaching of the Apostles and the Church, handed down through the Fathers, the councils, the decisions of the Popes, and the liturgy of the Church.
Scripture is certainly the basis for this tradition. Christ sent His Apostles to teach: "All power in heaven and in earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, etc." (Matt. 28:18-19.)
They were to teach with His authority and to teach all things He taught. They were to go and PREACH: "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to EVERY creature." (Mark 16:15-16.)
They were to be WITNESSES: "In Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the utmost parts of the earth." (Acts 1:8.)
Nowhere is there a command to WRITE anything. And so the Church has the duty and the commission to teach all things that Christ taught whether or not those things have been committed specifically to Holy Scripture.
Tradition itself is mentioned by St. Paul: "Hold to the form of sound teaching which thou hast heard from Me." (II Tim. 1:13.)
Not only was His written word to be obeyed; but also the doctrine committed to them by speech.
"The things which thou hast heard from Me through many witnesses, commend to trustworthy men, who shall be competent in turn to teach others." (II Tim. 2:2.)
In other words, the teaching of Paul was to be handed down through teachers who were to follow him. In Romans he says:
"How then are they to call upon Him whom they have not believed? But how are they to believe Him whom they have not heard?... And how are men to preach unless they be sent? " (Romans 10:14-15.)
We must remember that before the last Apostle, St. John, died, there had already been a succession of four Popes — St. Peter (33-67), Linus (67-79), Cletus (79-91), Clement (91-100).
These men who were accepted by the whole Christian Church as the supreme authorities in matters of faith and morals, were teaching before the New Testament was completed. All the Apostles, moreover, except John, were dead BEFORE the entire New Testament was written.
So Catholics do not believe that they are teaching doctrines of MEN, or the traditions of men, or commandments of men. They are teaching DIVINE tradition.
Jesus gives to Peter the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, by Pietro Perugino, Sistine Chapel
Is it not true that the Catholic Church became so corrupt before the 16th Century that it was no longer the Church of Christ?
So-called "reformers" have chosen different points of history at which the Church of Christ was supposed to have become corrupt. No matter what point is chosen, it must then be admitted that UNTIL that particular time, the Catholic Church (the only one then in existence) was the true Church of Christ. To admit CORRUPTION OR APOSTASY, is to say that Christ failed in establishing a church — either because He COULD not, or He WOULD not keep His promise.
Three texts of Scripture prove that Christ made the promise that His Church would go on until the end of time:
Matthew 28:18-20. Christ promised that He himself would remain with the Church until the consummation of the world.
Matthew 16:18. His promise to Peter that He would build His Church upon him as a rock and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
John 14:16. Christ promised to send the Holy Ghost to abide with the Church forever.
These promises were made by the Son of God; and therefore, He INTENDED to keep them, and WAS ABLE to keep them.
Although individuals, large groups of men, and even entire nations, have apostatized from God, we can never say that the Church itself apostatized; for this would mean that Christ had not kept His promises.
Christ made Himself the rock foundation in Matthew 16:18. Does the Church not usurp the power of Christ by claiming that Peter was the rock foundation, and the Popes, his successors?
A careful reading of Matthew 16:18 in the light of St. John 1:41 should show us that Christ, in speaking of the rock, was referring to Peter, and NOT of Himself. Of course we all admit that Christ is the founder of His Church. But St. Peter was the one chosen to be the temporal ruler of this Church. St. John tells the story of the meeting of St. Peter and Our Lord in St. John 1:42 when Christ said to him: "Thou art Simon, the son of John; thou shalt be called Cephas" (which interpreted is Peter).
The word "Peter" in Aramaic which Christ was speaking meant "a rock." Christ was following the practice among Orientals of changing the name of a person to signify a new function which he was to perform. Two years later, Christ was actually to change the name of Simon and to promise to build His Church upon PETER.
"Thou art Peter (i.e., a rock), and upon this rock I will build My church." (Matt. 16:18.)
A reading of this chapter from 13 to 20 will show that PETER was the one who was to be the rock. The LORD first asked for a sign of faith from Peter. Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." He then rewarded him, "Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jona — because flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but My Father in heaven." And then He changed his name.
"And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18-20.)
Certainly Christ would not CONFOUND GRAMMATICAL CONSTRUCTION by saying, "I say to thee (speaking to PETER), thou art Peter (and then changing in the same sentence), upon this rock (that is, upon Me), I will build My Church."
In the very next verse, He then goes back TO PETER, "And I will give to THEE the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever THOU shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
He FULFILLED this promise after His resurrection when He commanded Peter to feed His lambs and also His sheep. (John 21:15,
17.) Peter EXERCISED this jurisdiction:
(a) His name was always first on the lists of Apostles.
(b) He proposed the election of an Apostle to succeed Judas. (Acts 1:21-26.)
(c) He preached the first sermon on Pentecost Sunday. (Acts 2.)
(d) He worked the first miracle. (Acts 3:6-8.)
(e) At the council of Jerusalem, all the Apostles submitted to his authority. (Acts 15:7-12.)
History proves that from that time on, both in the East and the West, the successor of Peter was acknowledged to be the supreme head of the Church. Since that day there have been 264 successors to St. Peter. That this was Christ's plan is found in the same chapter where He said that the Church founded upon THIS rock foundation was to endure until the end of time, and that the gates of hell would NOT prevail against it. The Church was to have the same foundation, for if the Church was to go on, there must be successors who would carry on the work of Peter, the rock.
Why is it Catholics go to confession to a mere man in order to confess their sins? Is it not easier to go directly to God?
Yes, it is easier to go to God, and probably this is why Christ did not chose this method.
We confess to a man, not because he himself has the power to forgive sins, but because he acts as an agent, or a judge, in the name of God, and forgives sins in His name.
The words of institution prove that Christ intended specific confession of sins:
"He, therefore, said to them again,'Peace be to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'When He had said this, He breathed upon them and said to them,'Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, whose sins you shall retain, they are retained'." (John 20:21, 22.)
By these words Christ gave to His Apostles the power EITHER to forgive OR to retain. In order to exercise this judicial power, it is necessary for the sinner to accuse himself specifically of his sins. Most sins are committed in secret, and the priest-judge would have no other way of knowing these sins, except by specific confession.
Furthermore, the priest as a judge must give a penance or work of satisfaction which is proportionate to the sins and helpful to the sinner. This he can do only if he knows what sins have been committed.
The fact that the priest is a sinner, as are all men, does not affect the power which he exercises. The power comes to him from his office. The same is true with a President or with a judge in our civil courts. The private lives of these individuals does not affect the authority which they have under the Constitution.
Do Catholics really believe they are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion?
Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist on the night before He died, i.e., on the first Holy Thursday, when He changed bread and wine into His Body and Blood; and then commanded His Apostles to do what He had done in commemoration of Him.
"And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed and broke, and gave it to His disciples, and said,'Take and eat; this is My body.'... And taking a cup, He gave thanks and gave it to them, saying,'All of you drink of this; for this is My blood of the new covenant'." (Matt. 26:26, 28.)
Our Lord meant literally to change the bread and wine into His body and blood instead of leaving us a mere symbol or memorial of His passion.
We know this from the words of His promise to do this in St. John's gospel, Chapter 6. The important words of this chapter are:
(a) John 6:52, "The bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world."
(b) John 6:54, "... unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of man, ye shall not have life in you."
(c) John 6:56, "For My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed."
These and other texts must be taken literally because the entire context demands it; and because any other interpretation would involve us in absurd consequences. The words "Eat My flesh and drink My blood" in a figurative interpretation would mean to "persecute or hate bitterly." In this sense, it would mean that Our Lord would promise those who hate Him, eternal life and glorious resurrection.
The grammatical construction of the phrases, "This is My Body," and "This is My Blood," does not admit of a figurative or symbolic meaning. When the verb "to be" is used, the antecedent must always be identical with the consequent, i.e., "This" must be identical with "My Body." Therefore, there must have been a change of substance.
The Apostles understood Christ to speak literally. "The cup of benediction which we bless, is it not the sharing of the blood of Christ, And the bread that we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? " (1 Cor. 10:16.)
"Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of blessing which we bless, unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord." (I Cor. 10:27.)
This has been the continuous belief of Christianity until the time of the Reformation.
Does not Scripture in 1 Tim. 2:5 tell us that there is only one mediator? Why, then do Catholics pray to the Saints and to Mary?
Again, this is an example of taking a text out of its context. As a matter of fact, Protestants as well as Catholics do use prayers of SECONDARY mediators. Do you not ask your minister to pray for you? Do you not ask your friends to pray for you? If no SECONDARY mediator is necessary, then why ask them to pray for you? Why not go directly to God?
As with all Christians, we believe that all graces come to us through Christ as the PRIMARY mediator. This does not mean, however, that we should not go to God the Father or to the Holy Ghost directly. The logical inference from the literal translation of 1 Tim. 2:5 is that we must ALWAYS go to Christ first. On the contrary, we have the words of Christ Himself telling us that when we pray we should say, "Our Father who art in heaven, etc."
That the text of 1 Tim. 2:5 is NOT to be taken literally is evident from other sources of St. Paul.
"I beseech you, therefore, brethren, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God." (Rom. 15:30.)
Likewise in the Apocalypse (or Revelations) we read: "And when He had opened the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four ancients fell down before the Lamb, having each of them a harp and golden bowls full of incense, WHICH ARE THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS." (Apoc. 5:8.)
Also in this same inspired Book: "And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the Saints ascended up before God, from the hand of the angel."
The Catholic belief is based upon the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, i.e., that all baptized Christians are members of the Mystical Body of Christ and that all are working for the same objectives, the glory of God and the salvation of souls. The very act of going to an intermediary and asking him to go to Christ is an acknowledgment that we believe all graces and blessings can come only from Christ. Furthermore, it does not seem logical that we be permitted to ask living human beings to intercede for us, and yet be forbidden to ask the Saints of God to pray for us.
We pray to Mary because Her influence with Her Son is greater than that of any other saint. On earth the power of this intercession was proved at the marriage feast of Cana where Christ performed His first miracle before the time set by Divine Providence, because Mary had asked Him to do so. (John 2:1-11.)
The power of this intercession still exists in heaven since the mother-Son relationship still exists and because we have so much evidence of this intercession here on earth, i.e., the Apparitions at Lourdes, Fatima, etc.
Catholics do not "worship" Mary in the sense that we worship God. We do not make Her equal to God, nor a substitute for God, nor a sort of a "goddess." We consider Her a creature of God — but the purest of creatures, and the one whom God must love above all creatures because of her purity and Her function as the Mother of the Redeemer. Instead of worshipping Mary, we venerate or honor Her.
Is it not true that Catholics worship images contrary to Exodus 20:3-5?
The first commandment forbids the making of graven images "TO ADORE THEM." This is found in the Book of Exodus, where we read:
"Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, nor in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them."
By this we are forbidden to make images to take the place of God, or to adore them, or serve them. This is the sin of idolatry.
That it was NOT the intention of God to forbid the use of images is evident from the fact that the same inspired writer, in Exodus 25, commands the Jews to make two golden cherubims for the ark of the covenant in the temple. Likewise, in the Book of Numbers, God commanded Moses to make a brazen serpent, so that the Jews might look upon it and be saved from the attack of the fiery serpent.
Therefore, images are forbidden ONLY if we attribute to them a power that belongs to God alone, or if we worship them as gods. "Thou shalt make also two cherubims of beaten gold, on the two sides of the oracle." (Ex. 25:18.)
"And the Lord said to him: Make a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign; whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live." (Num. 21:8.)
We use pictures and images: to remind us of the virtues of the particular saint, or of the Blessed Mother; to remind us that we should imitate their virtues; to help us concentrate on our prayers; to honor that particular saint, or the Blessed Mother, who are God's heroes.
When you say the Rosary, is this not vain repetition condemned by Matt. 5:7?
The Rosary is indeed a repetition of prayers... but NOT vain repetition... or useless repetition. In this passage of St. Matthew, our Lord is condemning the Pharisees who "loved to stand in the corners of the streets that they might be seen by men." They talked to God only to be seen by men.
Our Lord never condemned repetition in prayer. He Himself repeated the self-same prayer three times in the Garden of Gethsemani. (Matt. 26:39, 42, 44.) The blind man repeated his prayer and was cured by Christ. (Matt. 20:31.) We are told that the angels of God in heaven never cease repeating, night and day, the canticle: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty." (Apoc. 4:8.)
Repeated prayers are not necessarily mechanical or unnecessary. The girl who is in love does not rebuke her boy friend for repeating the statement that he loves her.
In the Rosary, Catholics repeat the Scriptural prayers: the Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6) and the Angelic Salutation, or "Hail Mary," found in Luke 1:28.
Rev. A. W. Terminiello