Catholics, Christianity, Church, faith, God, Jesus Christ, Pope, Pope Francis, Religion
So, I know religious division / sects / labeling / denominations / etc, are confusing and frustrating for those who don’t have a faith. They’re also confusing and frustrating for those who do, trust me. Religion is now widely looked at as more of a status symbol or a club affiliation than a relationship with The Almighty Creator.
“I am a Catholic.” Some say. “We are the original faith, 1.2 Billion strong. Revere me.”
“Oh yeah, well IIIIIIII’m a Lutheran. All the taste, half the ceremony.” Other’s retort.
“Well you’re both wrong,” a third religi-sizer interjects, “I’m a Southern-Baptist, Episcopalian, Charismatic, Faith-Healing, Christian-Scientist, with a side of hash browns. Nail that to your church door and smoke it.”
Sadly, I fear many are missing the point. Can’t see the forest through the trees, or maybe more appropriately, can’t see Christ through the stained-glass and incense.
If I had to label myself, I guess I’d say, I’m simply a follower of Jesus Christ, God incarnate whose ultimate once-and-for-all sacrifice made it possible for me to be forgiven for my plethora of continually compounding sins. So you can call me a Christian. I love and believe in Jesus Christ and Him alone. Period.
The reason I’m writing this piece is the fanatic hoopla that has been made over the Pope’s recent and historic visit to the United States. Every news outlet and media service has been focused on his every move. Every facial expression analyzed, every comment debated by political pundits. He dictates the church’s stance on important issues. He says what is forgiven, and what is not. The Pope offers blessings and absolves you from your shameful sins. He is, after all, the leader and head of over one-billion Catholics on planet Earth; is he not?
Is he? Is he really?
Well, my view is no. No he is not. Close your mouth. I know, how could I, right?
The Pope, the position of the Pope, the institution that has been established by the Catholic Church over the last 1600 or so years has been to elevate Men to glory and power using God as a vehicle. The Pope. His holiness. He is simply a man. Like anyone else. He sins just like everyone else. He has impure thoughts just like anyone else. He needs Jesus’s salvation just like anyone else.
He is no closer to God than anyone else. Read the Bible. [F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) It doesn’t say some have sinned. Or most have fallen short. All.
The fact that the “Catholic Church” has established a paradigm wherein a human man is the conduit for a “believer” to communicate with God, receive forgiveness, and “earn” salvation by works, or saying “Hail Marys” or penance, is appalling and directly against what the simple message of Jesus states.
The Pope is a man, and from what I’ve seen more of a politician than anything else. He is purporting to speak for God, enacting His will here on Earth. Again, if you read the scripture and listen to the message Jesus preached you will see that the institution of the Pope sounds eerily similar to the Pharisees and Sadducees which Jesus denounced time and time again.
They were the Jewish religious leaders of the time and they stood in between you and God. They were the only way you could communicate with The Lord. They dictated thousands of laws and regulations that you were required to keep under threat of banishment or ridicule, and they elevated themselves above all of their “parishioners” with an air of superiority, advanced social status, expensive and gaudy robes and adornments, and political power.
Sound familiar? Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.
The truth is we all have a direct connection to God. A Fastpass to the front of the line. The Batphone if you will. All you need do is simply speak to Him. No buffer. No ceremony. No regulations. No ritual. All you really need to do is read the Bible to see that the majority of what occurs in the Catholic Church today is not found in the Scripture. It is nearly two millennia of men adding rituals, and road-blocks, and qualifiers, and restrictions to a relationship with Jesus to ultimately glorify themselves.
The Catholic Church is a business. A big, powerful, corporate business. A business with scratch in the political arena, and with a vested interest in global economics.
Now those raised in the Catholic Faith will be appalled to read this. I’m sure many will have a visceral reaction to hearing THE VICOR OF CHRIST being questioned. That is simply because for many Catholics, it was how they were raised. Its indoctrination at its finest and I get it. How dare I lambaste your Pope? How dare I blaspheme his holiness?
Therein lies the problem. He is not “His Holiness”. He is not holy at all. He is a man. The Lord Jesus is holy. The Lord Jesus is King. The Lord Jesus is in charge. Not Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, the 266th Holy Roman Emperor elected by the papal conclave by means of the College of Cardinals.
The Pope cannot forgive you. Nor can he, for example, forgive women who have had abortions (for only 1 year, act now) as he recently stated. The Lord Jesus does that of His own accord. He doesn’t need any help… Last time I checked, He was God.
So I guess the point of this rant is… Anything that takes your eyes off of Jesus and His simple message of love, relationship, and salvation from your sin… Is not Biblical.
Religion vs. Faith and Relationship. Religion says look at me to see how to reach God. Faith simply takes out the middle man (which is what Jesus preached all along). By the way, when Jesus breathed His final completely mortal human breath on the cross, Jerusalem was rocked by a jarring earthquake, “[A]nd the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38)”. The separation between man and God was torn asunder. No middle man. Its symbolic.
The Pope is a politician. Does he say nice things that are good for the world and the majority of people?
Does he kiss children on the forehead and say beautiful blessings over them?
Is he probably a very nice person who loves God in his own way?
Is he the holy mouthpiece of Jesus Christ whom we must look to for a connection to God?
Jenn Cowgill said:
Nick, I have wanted to reply for days but I had to really reflect and pray about how my words would come out. I think I have finally found them. In peace…
You say that He is a man, and you are correct. The Pope is a man.
In fact, he comes from a long line of men, beginning with St. Peter…
The Bible tells us that Christ said: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Another translation states: “[T]he Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]
Catholics believe that Peter was a favored man of God, as Christ clearly illustrates in the Book of Matthew. We believe that this fisherman, one of the twelve apostles, was not perfect. In fact, he denied Jesus three times as Jesus predicted. It was after the crow was heard on the third denial that Peter wept, thus repenting and professing his faith.
After Peter, every pope since has been selected by the bishops that work directly with the Pope himself. Now, the Catholic Church defines the Pope as the father of the church on Earth. This person leads his church as Jesus requested.
For many, many years, popes have built the Catholic Church in Rome upon the remains of St. Peter-In fact, St. Peter’s Basilica is built above the remains of St. Peter himself. Standing in that church is a life changing experience-even for a non-Catholic. The thousands of years of history, traditions and holy presence will bring any man or woman to their knees. If anything, out of respect for what the church has accomplished in keeping with Christ’s wishes, it is worth a genuflection.
To return to Pope Francis: you say he is just a man. Indeed he is, but he is a man, as close to the first pope as I can recall. Traditionally, popes are adorned with gold and expensive garments and jewelry-this man refuses. Customarily, popes live in fancy apartments separated from the people-this man refuses. Traditionally, popes do not walk among the people-this man walks with gardeners and commoners daily.
Pope Francis refuses fancy garments, he lives modestly and wears sandals as would the poor. Pope Francis is a humanitarian who, in his short reign, has brought together people of all faiths because he is living the way Jesus Christ would want us to live. He is the father of the church because he walks the walk. He cares for the poor, he questions the decisions political leaders make, he encourages the defeated, he gives hope to immigrants, and he brings the divided together.
Just last week, during his United States visit, a Muslim man was interviewed by the New York Times regarding his purchase to view the Pope speak. When asked why he bought a ticket to see the Pope, he replied: that He brings people together like no other leader has and that is something to respect.
The adoration that you see in the public, is not out of idolatry, it is out of awe and respect.
That a man can live this way and affect so many people demands thoughtfulness and reverence. That a man can seek only to bring a divided world together in peace requires appreciation.
That a man provides hope and optimism in a world wrecked with despair and doubt necessitates admiration.
A man that can do all that is not a man, he is a Pope.
I hear everything you said and I applaud your stance and I respect the faith you have. To my original point, “The Pope is merely a man”: After reading your viewpoint I keep coming back… to my original point, which then opens the door to a larger discussion on global “religion” and where we are headed as a faith community.
The fact of the matter is, Catholics worship men along with God. There is no other way to say it. It is a system that has been indoctrinated into people who originally started off as people who worshiped Jesus Christ and Christ alone, over the last 1600 years or so. It makes sense I guess.
The further you get from the time that Jesus was physically on Earth, the more time there has been for man to take his eyes off of God (Who isn’t physically here in a way we can tangibly physically touch) and put our eyes on something we can… men. Its human nature.
Yes Jesus said to Peter “On this rock I will build my Church,” but look at it in context. He said it in 33.AD to a man who literally walked with Jesus. Ate with Him. Spoke with Him. Peter helped establish a faith in God and salvation that Jesus had ordained. There was no faith back then. The word had to be spread. Organically. House to house. City to city. Person to person.
Fast forward 2000 years. Jesus has been in a spiritual state for two millennia and man and his nature for control, glorification, edification, and power has reigned supreme.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6. There should be no other glory but to God. The Catholic Church and the institution of The Pope have stepped in front of Jesus to take the spotlight.
Catholics worship and pray to men. Saints you call them, but they’re just men who did really great things in the past. But I have to believe that when they did these selfless things, some of which got them killed for their faith, they did them out of a love for Jesus Christ, no to be put up on a stained glass window and prayed to for protection, or prosperity, or a litany of other issues. Catholics pray to Mary the Earthly mother of Jesus. I refer back to John 14:6. Never in the Bible does it say to put your faith in anything other than Jesus Christ. Jesus literally said as much, yet “Hail Mary’s” and hundreds of other “Rituals” and “Catholic Traditions” abound.
Jenn, much of what you said is rooted in thousands of years of Catholic “Tradition” and “Lore”. I’ve studied the actual history of the Holy Roman Empire and the schism, East and West, Rome, the crusades, the inquisition, the dark ages, on and on. The Catholic Church is an institution that was founded originally in Jesus, wayyyyy back when before Europe as we know it, the fall of the Roman Empire, and a lot of other really important historical events yes… but has since become a man-centric, political machine.
The things you stated are true. I’m sure that standing in St. Peter’s Basilica is breathtaking and I hope to go there one day, just due to the history and architectural beauty. But the myth that it’s built (may or may not be) on Peter’s bones, is Catholic tradition and really means nothing in the grand scheme of faith. The Catholic faith reveres relics, “THINGS”, places, men, etc. True Christianity and faith in Jesus necessitates only you and God. You could be in the desert, underwater, in a mansion or on the street begging in Bangladesh. We are all the same in the eyes of the Lord.
The knee-jerking almost physical reaction you had to what I said about the Pope, the anger you initially felt, is understandable. Catholics are raised to revere the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Saints, The Virgin Mary, Ceremony, Ritual, and protocol. What I said goes against everything you have been raised to understand as factual. The fact you vehemently defend The Pope and his position, unfortunately kind of proves my point.
The Pope cannot bring the world together. He cannot heal the world because unfortunately this world is destined to end. It’s all in Revelation. Our job is to bring as many people to Christ as we can by what we say, what we do, and what we believe.
I guess, to end this, I just have to keep looking back at the Bible. Not pieces, not selections to be interpreted by the church, but Christ’s message as a whole. Peter himself said in Acts, “We must obey God rather than men. 5:29” (I see the irony of what I just did).