Papacy & Catholic Hierarchy

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Cardinal Raymond Burke has been much in the news this past year. In November 2016, he and three other cardinals presented Pope Francis with the famous dubia – five questions regarding Francis’s apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia.

Then the American cardinal became embroiled in a power struggle within the Order of Malta, of which he is patron. This was followed by his surprise appointment as a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest court. He had been prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from 2008 to 2014, when he was removed by Pope Francis. Cardinal Burke has spoken out frequently against what he sees as the growing confusion within the Church about the liturgy, Catholic identity and even the faith itself.

I met him shortly before the first anniversary of the dubia at a celebration in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe in Ravenna, organised by the Coordinamento Nazionale del Summorum Pontificum and the St Michael the Archangel cultural association.

PG Your Eminence, you have recently referred to our times as “realistically apocalyptic”. And you added that the “confusion, division and error” within the Catholic Church coming from “shepherds” even at the highest levels indicate that we “may be” in the End Times. Would you help us to understand what you meant by this?

Screen-Shot-2017-11-29-at-12.28.39-800x500CARDINAL RAYMOND BURKE In the present moment there is confusion and error about the most fundamental teachings of the Church, for example with regard to marriage and the family. For instance, the idea that people who are living in an irregular union could receive the sacraments is a violation of the truth with regard both to the indissolubility of marriage and to the sanctity of the Eucharist.

St Paul tells us in his First Letter to the Corinthians that before we approach to receive the Body of Christ, we have to examine ourselves, or we eat our condemnation by receiving the Eucharist in an unworthy way. Now the confusion in the Church is going even further than that, because there is today confusion as to whether there are acts which are intrinsically evil and this, of course, is the foundation of the moral law. When this foundation begins to be questioned within the Church, then the whole order of human life and the order of the Church itself are endangered.

So there is a feeling that in today’s world that is based on secularism with a completely anthropocentric approach, by which we think we can create our own meaning of life and meaning of the family and so on, the Church itself seems to be confused. In that sense one may have the feeling that the Church gives the appearance of being unwilling to obey the mandates of Our Lord. Then perhaps we have arrived at the End Times.

PG Could you please give us an update on the “formal correction” [of Amoris Laetitia]?

Click here for the rest of the Catholic Herald article.

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Someone on the Catholic Discussion Forum asserted his opinion and tradition against the papacy in the Catholic Church. I gave short, imperfect, and brief comments in the ten minutes I had free today. This is a thread on whether or not the office of the papacy with qualifications for successors is mentioned in scripture. My comments are in dark blue.

1. In order for the papacy or an earthly head of the church with successors to be true as a definer and protector of truth, it would logically have to be described from the beginning of the church in the apostolic period and not as a later development.

Why does this have to be true? Wouldn’t this claim then be imposed on all development of doctrine such as the canon of Scripture. In other words, for the truth of sola scriptura to be true, it would logically have to have been in existence from the first, which of course not the case. Further, in my book Upon this Rock I demonstrate quite conclusively that the concept of the Primacy of Peter in Rome was quite well understood and practiced in the early Church. By clicking on the link to my book one can also access hundreds of pages of discussion and documentation. For the very few documents that survived the first centuries, we have a very strong case for the primacy of Rome.

2. For the office of papacy to be true, it would need to be described with qualifications for successors, in the inspired writings among the gifts given by Christ for church unity when he ascended into heaven in Ephesians 4:7-16, yet the papacy is conspicuously absent.

How does he know it was NOT described with qualifications. We know that the Alexandrian Library in Egypt was massively stocked with books and documents that no longer exist. We unhappily lost much of what was written and practiced in the early Church. But, even saying that, does this fellow have any documentation from the early Church to affirm a 27 writing canon from the earliest years, or the word “Trinity”? He is very free with “it would logically have to be true” when he points at us but not so freely with his own position.

3. Such a fundamentally important central role as the papacy, in order to be true, would be a central repeated theme of writings by the first Christians: Luke, James, John, Paul, and Peter himself, yet there is not a single mention.

And where do we find these same men repeating the express doctrine of a New Testament canon or the clearly expressed theologies of the two natures of Christ or the three Persons in the hypostatic union of the Trinity? In fact, there are many things that are taken for granted today that were not expressly stated in the NT. Protestants live with this every day with their traditions. Reading the writers of the NT within the context makes it pretty clear about the papacy if someone takes the blinders off. By the way, none of these writers mention the Rapture, Sola Scriptura, the Trinity, faith alone, or any host of other Protestant traditions.

4. Although “head of the church” is a phrase, office, and title in scripture, only Christ and never Peter was ever referred to as such.

This would of course be true in that the NT is more expressly interested in establishing who Jesus was in the documents of Scripture. One does not have to find something expressly stated in order to find it believed and universally practiced. I would suggest Dave Armstrong’s book about proofs of the Papacy from the Bible. Jesus is the head of the Mystical Church and baptized believers are the members. But the Church is not just an amorphous invisible blob or some sort of non-descript brotherhood. It is a real organization of real people in the Body of Christ. The Church has an address! We are to have a visible unity as Jesus intended, not an invisible imaginary “unity.” Jesus left a shepherd, a head of the visible church as the source of unity and teaching. This can be substantiated in the NT unless one refuses to remove the blinders. Even Protestants have their pastors who function effectively as the “head of their church” though they would quickly claim that it is actually Jesus, but in reality, in the day-to-day the pastor effectively functions as the head or CEO.

5. Peter is not explicitly identified as the head of the church in the Jerusalem council in Acts.15; rather James makes the closing summary, although even James is not identified as sole head or bishop of the Jerusalem church.

James quotes Peter and the OT as the infallible source of theology on the matter. It doesn’t to say Peter was the head expressly as it was quite clear to those who attended and by the theological determination who was the head. James was the bishop of Jerusalem sitting in the chair that was vacated by Peter to become the teacher of the world as St. John Chrysostom says. Our friend makes too much of “explictely” and this can certainly and effectively be turned on him much more so than on us. His tradition falls far short if he wants to apply the same standard to himself. Too often Protestants judge Catholic practice by Protestant ideals. What happens if we judge Protestant practice by Catholic ideals?

6. Peter is never identified in scripture as the singular bishop of the Jerusalem diocese or of any diocese.

Peter alone was given the keys in Matthew 16 and singularly headed the Church in the book of Acts. It seems that there was a college of bishops that worked together with one at the lead. This is very likely regarding Peter. In Scripture no one is expressly stated as bishop of Jerusalem and yet anyone who knows history knows that this is what existed and from the earliest times.

7. If there was an infallible head of the church and voice of Christ on earth with successors after Peter, there are no claims, writings, or pronouncements from them until Victor blunders onto the scene with his error, even though the period was fraught with heresies, and the entire NT was written when the apostles and church were persecuted from the beginning.

Maybe our opponent has never heard of St. Clement? This guy really needs to read my book Upon this Rock which documents the primacy of Rome from the apostolic age.

If the church was intended to be built on none other than the pope or person of Peter, why is he not mentioned at all by one of the most important first Christians in the following passage speaking of who the church is built upon?  Ephesians 2:19-22 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

In another place 1 Cor. Paul writes that it is Jesus that is the foundation, and does not mention Peter or any of the apostles. Does that mean that Paul is wrong in Ephesians or 1 Corinthians 3 and that John is wrong in Revelation? We see various “foundations” in various metaphors used by NT writers. Peter is the rock in Matthew, Jesus in 1 Cor., the apostles and prophets in Ephesians, and the 12 apostles in Rev. In one metaphor Jesus is the foundation and in others it is all the apostles. But one cannot dismiss Matthew where another metaphor — the one in which Jesus is not the foundation but the builder — and in this metaphor, Peter the Rock is the foundation and is given the keys of the kingdom.

The Achilles Heal of the Papacy Theory (yeah, right :-)
If indeed Peter was the head of the church with successors as the voice of Christ and the basis of unity, where is this voice during the turbulent years of persecution and heresy before Constantine? Someone will say, “They went to their deaths as martyrs.” But so did the apostles, yet we have their writings well-preserved for us. Where are the writings of the popes from 60 AD to 325 AD? (Clement’s letter is not from him as a singular bishop but from the church of Rome to the church of Corinth, not to the singular bishop of Corinth.) We have something recorded ABOUT some of the other alleged popes but not a single written word FROM them. But correct me if I am mistaken. I would find their writings most interesting.

First, 1 Clement WAS writtten by St. Clement as both Catholic and Protestants agree, and also mentioned as such by those who refer to the letter in the first centuries. Like I said, I gave pages and pages of documentation from the early Church. Just because one doesn’t read history or do their research does not mean it does not exist. I would also suggest that this friend read the Treatise on the Development of Doctrine by Cardinal Newman. The papacy can be demonstrated from the first centuries, but we also accept the concept of the development of doctrine (as must the Protestant, especially with the canon and their sola scriptura) which puts everything in its proper place. I am proud to be a Catholic rooted in Scripture and the early Church!

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Screen Shot 2011-11-09 at 7.31.17 AMI am in Rome and decided to run to St. John Lateran this morning a make a video — so all of you could enjoy the Feast Day of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Church on November 9, 313. Yup, that’s right! It was the first Christian church ever built and it was the home of Popes for over 1,000 years.

If you want to join us in Rome this February, please call Suzanne at 800-727-1999, extension 121. She can give you info and help you get registered. You will see this church and many more on our marvelous Catholic pilgrimage through the Eternal City.

Click HERE for the brochure for our Rome Pilgrimage. Click HERE for the brochure for our St. Paul Cruise with Scott Hahn which ends in Rome.

St. John Lateran Church is not just the cathedral for the city of Rome, but it is the MOTHER CHURCH of the whole world. It contains the Pope’s Chair, the Chair of St. Peter.

The Church also contains marvelous relics: the cedarwood table Our Lord celebrated the Passover meal on in Jerusalem, St. Peter’s altar which he used as a bishop in Rome.

Also there are the skull bones from both Sts. Peter and Paul in a golden reliquary above the high altar on which only the Pope is allowed to celebrate Mass.

Enjoy! And be proud to be Catholic!

Two Things Available:

1. Here is the map with 18 GPS-tagged videos and 93 pictures where I run across Rome and hit many historical sites and beautiful churches. As a guide, I explain many of the sites along the way.

2. Below is the “Tour Videos” just of St. John Lateran Church.

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“Francis was never pope? Call me unpersuaded.” By Dr. Ed Peters

September 29, 2017

By Canon Lawyer, Dr. Ed Peters: (Note: I am giving this one shot. If it sways some adherents of the ‘Francis-was-never-pope’ group, great; but if it only reassures observers who, regardless of what they think about how Francis is governing, are disquieted by the suggestion that his papacy itself is a chimera, that satisfies me […]

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Why Are We Catholic?

September 22, 2017

This excellent little summary was prepared by the Faith Formation ministry in Escanaba Michigan and sent to me by Mike Cousineau. Enjoy and be challenged and edified. Sent it to a friend who needs to read it. 1.  St. Cyprian of Carthage, martyr & Bishop, wrote in 249 AD, “He who would have God as […]

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Silence of Bishops in Response to the Pope: “A New – and Encouraging – Form of Collegiality?”

July 27, 2017

An excellent and insightful article by Fr. Mark Pilon on The Catholic Thing website (worth subscribing to). This article accurately, I think, describes and explains the current rift between this Pope and the vast majority of clergy, including bishops and cardinals. A recent article in L’Osservatore Romano by an Italian priest who teaches biblical theology is yet another […]

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Holy Father – is he Holy?

June 29, 2017

A young man stood up at my conference in the Philippines a while ago and parroted (yelled out) the Fundamentalist mantra: “The Pope is a sinner like everyone else; why do you call him ‘HOLY Father’?” I leaned into the microphone and said to the young man in front of 2,000 people, “You should really […]

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Cardinal Müller Discusses Islam, “Amoris Laetitia”, Liturgy, Pope Firing People and more

May 27, 2017

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), was interviewed recently by Raymond Arroyo about his book The Cardinal Müller Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church. This was an excellent interview. I would not want this man’s job. But I found him insightful, brilliant and […]

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Worried about the Vatican and Church Today? Stay on Board! Great Homily about Crazy Times with Popes in the Past

May 17, 2017

An excellent sermon on worrying about what is going on in the Vatican and worrying about what the Holy Father says or does. This homily speaks about historical events that caused massive confusion to the faithful. Some Popes have done and said crazy things – some of which are shared in this homily. One case is a […]

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Steve on Journey Home Explains His Discovery of the Catholic Church

May 6, 2017

This was a while ago but I just found it again and thought it would be good to share. Please feel free to send the link to others who are struggling with the Church or who you think might need a bit of an enthusiastic “nudge.”

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(Link Fixed) The Other Catholics: A Short Guide to the Eastern Catholic Churches

May 5, 2017

Since we are in Jerusalem, where many of the Eastern Catholic Churches converge, I decided to share this excellent article. I found it very helpful. Many think the name of “our church” is the “Roman Catholic Church” — but that is only the name of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. The “Catholic Church” […]

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What My Grandpa Said About the Pope – A Boy’s Story

April 20, 2017

My grandpa is a nice old gentleman, with gray hair, and gold spectacles, and very fond of his little grandson Billy—that’s me. Grandpa and I often go out to walk together, that is, on fine days, because on cloudy days he never goes out of the house, but stays at home to keep “comfortable with […]

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Feast of Chair of St. Peter: “Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter” Steve’s Article, YouTube Video and Resources

February 22, 2017

St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will […]

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A Canonical Primer on Popes and Heresy

December 16, 2016

No one in a position of ecclesial responsibility—not the Four Cardinals posing dubia, not Grisez & Finnis cautioning about misuses, and not the 45 Catholics appealing to the College, among others—has, despite the bizarre accusations made about some of them, accused Pope Francis of being a heretic or of teaching heresy. While many are concerned […]

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The Dangerous Road of Papal Silence

December 3, 2016

From The Catholic Thing, a brilliant daily article. Fr. Mark Pilon notes that the pope’s refusal to answer four cardinals dubia about Amoris Laetitia is splintering the faith. It’s not schism.Yet. The letter of the four Cardinals to Pope Francis, and the decision to go public with this document certainly constitute a stunning affair in […]

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“You are Peter” in Jesus’ language of Aramaic

December 1, 2016

In Caesarea Philippi, the site where Jesus renamed Simon as “Peter” or Kepha (Matt 16:13-20), it is interesting to hear what Jesus REALLY said. I thought you would find this interesting. So, what did it sound like at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus renamed Simon and made him the rock of the Church: “And I tell […]

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