Unity and Uniformity

Some critics of Catholicism like to point out that Catholics are also divided. “Look here!” they cry, “You Catholics also have liberals and conservatives. You have homosexual priests. You have women pushing for ordination. You have New Age theologians and the majority of Catholics ignore Humane Vitae, don’t believe in transubstantiation etc etc.” 

Of course we do. These are called ‘bad Catholics’ or ‘dissenters’. There is room for differences of opinions and styles, but where it needs to be, the Catholic Church’s teaching is quite clear on both doctrine and morals, and when there is lack of clarity the Church is quick to clarify for the good of the faithful. There is room for difference of opinion and there is a hierarchy of truth–some truths demanding greater adherence than others. Clarity of teaching is available for all who wish to be faithful Catholics. Those who disobey the teaching of the Catholic Church do so either out of innocent ignorance, poor formation or deliberate and knowing rebellion against the authority they claim to follow.
Because the Church does not enforce uniformity does not negate her essential unity. There is an underlying organic unity to the Catholic Church which is like that within a family. A family may have rebellious members, sick or unpleasant members or downright crazy members. They might be an embarrassment, a nuisance and a headache, but they are still members of the family and an inner, organic unity still exists between them and their other family members.
The unity is preserved not by total, uniformity of belief and practice, or by complete and total obedience on the part of all her members. The unity is preserved because of the existence of a unified teaching authority and the universal pastor.
The teaching authority of the Catholic Church is not validated by the number of people who obey her laws any more than the validity of the Ten Commandments is validated by the number of people who keep them perfectly. In fact, the validity and need for the Ten Commandments is actually proved by the fact that they are disobeyed. When we see the chaos that results from our disobedience we see all the more how important the Ten Commandments are. When a person is killed by a car going 70 in a 30mph zone we realize why the 30 mph. speed limit is necessary.
Likewise with the teaching of the Catholic faith. Those who disobey and dissent only prove the wisdom and necessity of the Church’s teaching. It is this underlying unity and integrity which exists within Catholicism because of the unified teaching and the role of the universal pastor.
The dis-unity of Protestant sects, on the other hand, is total. With the lack of any unified teaching or any universal pastor each individual must become his own pastor. “We will not have a Pope!” they cry. What they really mean is that they will not have a Pope, for when there is not one Pope every man becomes his own Pope. So either have one Pope or millions.
When challenged on this matter Protestants are notably without an answer. When asked by what authority they teach, interpret the Bible or announce the truth on some matter they have nothing–absolutely nothing to fall back on except their own opinions based on their religious experience. 
This ‘experience’ is usually intellectually vacuous, sentimental, unsubstantiated with either facts or history, if Scriptural at all it is based on a few shallow proof texts and is as ephemeral as the emotion in a greeting card.
About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10729376635331369442 Fr. Jeffrey Steel

    Well said! I have heard this too many times by Tablet reading Catholics and Anglo-Catholics. They sing from the same sheet but their song does not change the teaching of the Church. As far as your pope analogy, it reminds me of the American film Patriot, where Gibson is arguing why not to go to war with King George and asks, ‘Why do you want to exchange one tyrant three thousand miles away for 3,000 tyrants one mile away?’ The same could be used for the Pope but we know he is not a tyrant. You get the point!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04313286544695110514 Kevin Davis

    When challenged on this matter Protestants are notably without an answer. When asked by what authority they teach, interpret the Bible or announce the truth on some matter they have nothing–absolutely nothing to fall back on except their own opinions based on their religious experience.Well, that is their answer. You may not like it or think it sufficient, but it is an answer. And, actually, most Protestants would never say that they fall completely back on religious experience for determining Christian doctrine, since they of course recognize the church as a visible medium of the biblical witness, even if the latter must judge the former and reform it as it needs. Yes, without lack of central dogmatic authority, this means that denominationalism results, but the Protestant answer is not so obviously unworthy of consideration as triumphalist Catholic converts present it to be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Kevin, thank you for your comment. You fail to explain why the Protestant answer has any merit.You see, from my perspective, this is the same answer given not just by good solid, Bible believing Baptists, but also by every sort of crank and extremist from wild and wacky Episcopalian New Agers to Church of God snake handlers.Why should one person’s subjective religious experience and denominational interpretation be true and another’s false?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07512362705041608396 ~Joseph the Worker

    Not only are you correct in seeing that the Church includes all these “dissenters”, but those very people were the ones who Christ said would be in his Church. Remember the Gospel reading from about two weeks ago? We don’t separate the weeds from the wheat, he will do that at the end of time, but they all grow together in the Kingdom until that appointed time. Good thoughts!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    your post is succinct and touches a point in a great pastoral way. I am guilty of talking longer than I should but you explained a point i was fumbling to express and I thank you for it. btw kudos to Joseph, I was listening to that reading a while ago and it’s a very good observation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Well, this has been fun. Dwight is on dynamite form, churning out the Anglican ridicule like Harpo Marx on full throttle.Its all a smokescreen, of course.Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, Dwight and the self-proclaimed loyal Catholics (still waiting to hear HOW you define loyal) are building a religous ghetto. Meanwhile, today’s Roman centurion, the woman at the well, the man born blind and many others, are all listening to Jesus without the benefit of the religious leaders, because ‘my sheep know my voice.’But it seems Jesus’ words aren’t good enough for you. You cling to a self-appointed authority. Its also worrying for your denomination that you admit “the majority of Catholics ignore Humanae Vitae, don’t believe in transubstantiation etc…”If that’s the case, what HAS your denomination been doing for 2,000 years?Anyway, we so called outsiders wish you well. We see Jesus operating in our lives, we see healing and miracles, people’s lives renewed by coming to Jesus.Dwight, you’d see these things as well if you peeked over that religious wall you’ve built around yourself.James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07144263108253965465 B.A. Kemple

    Fr. Longenecker, I’d ask you to leave James’ comment up, mostly because I’d like to address this point!”the self-proclaimed loyal Catholics (still waiting to hear HOW you define loyal)”You go on to say that we Catholics do not think Jesus’ words are good enough. This is quite false. Instead, we think ALL of His words are good enough, not just those that we like deprived of the greater context of the entirety of the Gospels.A life may indeed be healed by a spiritual, subjective reconciliation with Jesus as the Lord God and Savior; but a life is sanctified through the admittance to His sacraments, through embracing not merely selected portions of the Good News, but the entirety of it – which includes the Church and Her Magisterium, and all Her teachings.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    b.a. kempleI’d better come to Dwight’s defence. I accidentally deleted my comment, not him. Dwight may not always agree with comments, but he is generous in allowing them to be published.You write with reference to Jesus: “we think ALL of His words are good enough, not just those that we like deprived of the greater context of the entirety of the Gospels.”I didn’t accuse all Catholics of not believing Jesus’ words were important; only Dwight and his merry band.When I challenge Catholics over purgatory, they always quote 2Maccabees 12:40-45. Its just one passage from the whole of Scripture, “deprived of the greater context.” With respect, I’d suggest Catholics are as guilty of what you claim is a fault only of non-Catholics.James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15880407765317550979 Afro Seminarian

    Fr. DwightI am really bothered by the pointed words that you used.”When challenged on this matter Protestants are notably without an answer. When asked by what authority they teach, interpret the Bible or announce the truth on some matter they have nothing–absolutely nothing to fall back on except their own opinions based on their religious experience.”Somehow, I think the spirit of Vatican II has just gone compleletly out of the window.Through our baptism, we are all connected to Christ. Is baptism an opinion,a religious expereience, or the Holy Spirit working in the lives of people with faith.Why are you short changing the christian expereince? I am Catholic and I am a bit hurt by your words. Help me understand in light of being Christian and Catholic. DO we want to return to the time when it was Them versus us?; and somehow think that GOD can only work through the Catholic Church? Instead of beliving that God can work any way He wants to work.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13955573460484576394 Dave

    James,I think the point is that Catholics believe that Jesus thought the truth that He conveyed to humanity was so important that it should be safeguarded from misinterpretation, and the Magisterium is the means by which the truth is safeguarded.Sure, many choose not to follow that truth, but that does not make it any less true.Jesus’ words emphatically ARE enough for us – in fact, they are so important that He left a means of ensuring that they wouldn’t be misconstrued.Fr. Dwight is saying that Protestants of any particular stripe have no way of telling us why their interpretation of Jesus’ words is better than the interpretation of the other 20,000 Protestant denominations.There is, in addition, the question of how Protestants even know the correct books are in the Bible, since they reject the authority of the Church which defined the canon. Catholics do not deny that Jesus works outside the visible boundaries of the Church, and we’re very glad that you see Him working in your lives, but this doesn’t begin to address the issue that Fr. Dwight has brought up.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07122202759539647323 joan

    Also, very important, that if you claim to love JESUS, you would want to do everything in your own life to be that one Church, UNITED…WHICH was, is ,and will always be, our Lord’s prayer, desire and will. SO,then, as a Christian, wouldn’t you want and desire what JESUS WANTS AND THUS BE OBEDIENT??. How can you go your own merry way knowing that you are not being the UNITY that CHRIST desires.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dave,I have never denied the Catholic church put the Bible together; but then it put it aside. In doing this, Rome dived into a warren of doctrines and teachings outwith Jesus’ words and the teaching of the church. This diversion reached a peak in the middle ages when Marian devotion, for example, escalated to absurd heights.Jesus respected the religious teachers of his day. They held the Law of Moses – they were the first keepers of the keys so to speak. But Jesus warned that instead of guarding the Law, they had imprisoned it and put burdens on people. In that sense, Jesus was the first Reformation.I don’t believe your denomination is completely adrift. There is salvation within Catholicism.But because there is confusion among some Protestant sects, that does not mean we should return to the confusion of the Cathiolic church.We need to move forward, take the good parts of Catholicism and blend them with the good of the Protestants.James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13955573460484576394 Dave

    James,I certainly can agree that Protestantism, especially Evangelical strands, has a lot of good in it that Catholics can and should integrate.You are right about the religious teachers of Jesus’ day…but even while criticizing them, Jesus insisted that they be obeyed, because they sat in the seat of authority (Matthew 23)Similarly, Catholics don’t claim that our leaders should be followed because they are such brilliant, great guys (often they are, but all too often, they aren’t), but because they have been given authority. It is the Holy Spirit that guarantees the teaching…not the leaders.In fact, there’s an inside joke which goes something like this…the greatest proof of the Divine origin of the Church is that it has survived for 2000 years despite the best efforts of the clergy and laity.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Afro Seminarian. I’m not opposed to personal experience. I’m all for it. I am simply challenging any personal religious experience that is not subjected to the larger authority of Christ’s Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    My previous post [which has been since deleted] was a rather uncharitable and sarcastic remark, even for my usual acerbic tastes. I partly blame my lack of sleep, but mostly my own faults which need correction from time to time. James, I cannot logically bring to you what is to be approached by faith, I can merely give you the reasons for which I have found joy. after this week I’ll be on Hiatus and will not be able to read this blog nor any other because where I am going has no internet access. rather than leave in bitterness I would like to instead like to offer the time I still have left with internet access to let you know I am not going to spend any more time on a heatead debate that is continually driven into an impasse. I am not here to win debates, and I personally am incapable of changing hearts, thus I leave you in the care of Our Lord and our blessed Mother and pray that if you should hear the voice of truth that you shall not harden your heart but humbly assent to it’s will.Pax Tecum!-Thursday

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04313286544695110514 Kevin Davis

    Personal experience and private interpretation is what we are all stuck with. Roman Catholics judge (privately, of course) the Catholic Church to be authoritative in its magisterial pronouncements. Protestants judge the prophetic witness of the Jews (the OT) and the apostolic witness of the NT as authoritative, because of their united witness to Christ whom they receive in salvation, and they deny this authority to the Catholic Church because of perceived clashes with this primary witness. Catholic apologists can energetically produce the smoke screen of “objective” (vs. subjective, personal) authority, but it is only a smoke screen. The real virtue of the ecclesial authority of Rome is that it produces unity, and it is the argument for unity alone which has any real bearing. I wish Catholics would stick with that instead of the tired arguments against “private interpretation.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07144263108253965465 B.A. Kemple

    “I didn’t accuse all Catholics of not believing Jesus’ words were important; only Dwight and his merry band.”This puzzles me; for while Fr. Longenecker and I are by no means uniform, as he himself wrote, we are in unity, as members of the Roman Catholic Church loyal to Her Magisterium. So I suppose you could say that I am a member of “his merry band,” which is actually Her merry band.As for more Scriptural references, for Purgatory… Ecclus. 7:37, Matt. 12:32, and 1 Cor. 3:13-15. Furthermore, I fail to see how “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” as having any sort of equivocal manner in which it can be taken, or how that can be taken out of context.Please do show me where Jesus states that every man is his own authority, and may interpret Christ’s words according to the individual whim. I’ve never heard this passage; and indeed, I’ve heard quite a few to the contrary! Something, I believe, about the Apostles having the authority to loose and bind, in conjunction with them being chosen and having the eyes to see and the ears to hear… I for one, am not so prideful as to think that Christ meant me personally, when He said those sorts of things.Furthermore, it’s in the Bible itself that the Bible is not all of Christ’s teaching, either directly of Himself or of His apostles: John 20:30, 21:25, 1 Cor 12:2, 2 Thess. 2:14, 2 Tim. 2:2, and many others besides!Please understand that I am not trying to be antagonistic; but I’m rather tired of being told that Catholics attempt to supersede the authority of Christ through Magisterial teaching, or that we know nothing of Scripture. I quoted a verse in an argument once, and saw a Methodist’s jaw drop because I did not need to look it up.Practicing the virtues may, in most cases, be a simple choice; but understanding and explaining even a very finite revelation of the Infinite God is a cerebral exercise like no other, be it the Divinely inspired written word, or even the natural revelation discernable by man’s natural reason.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00277922447843163814 fried chicken strips

    Father,How does Fr. Newman’s “Communion with the Church by Degrees of Fullness” fit into this. His argument is that some Protestants are closer to full communion than regular church attending Catholics.Consider this case:I have a friend who claims he is Catholic but believes the church is wrong on matters of homoerotic sex and women in the priesthood. His faith rests in scholarly articles rather than the authority of the Church. He denies the teachings of the Church are the same though adapted to different cultures and time periods. Yes he was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church, but how is he not his own Pope?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    ooops. All my comments seem to be getting deleted. Dwight, email me to let me know if I’m now excluded. If not, a question.Why did the apostles go all Protestant? I mean, why not continue to respect the Jewish leaders and submit to their authority? Why not work from within Judaism instead of founding a new church? Was Jesus encouraging Reformation?James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11740482509910163332 Gail F

    Kevin Davis: That is the sort of argument that seems to make sense but says nothing. By your account, EVERYTHING comes down to private judgment. But by this standard, everyone also decides privately whether or not to judge all interpretations of everything: medicine, Constitutional law, directions to the Turnpike. So what? †he question is not whether or not we choose to believe an interpretation, but whether the interpretation we choose has any merit. And the Church claims that her interpretation has all the merit, while Protestants claim that each of them, sifting all the information he or she has or chooses to consult, can make a judgment equal to the judgment made continuously by 2000 years of the greatest minds of the Western world, not to mention the collective assent of millions of faithful people. Of course vast numbers of people can be deluded, but given the fact that vast numbers of people have believed something for 2000 years should at least make us loath to dismiss that thing without giving it some serious consideration. And yet Christian bookstores are full of newly minted interpretations of Scripture that succeed each other like fashions on Paris runways, and no one seems to care. In fact, Protestants claim that the infinite variety of judgments produced by this method of interpretation are somehow not a sign that it doesn’t work.And Fried Chicken Strips, no one would disagree with what you say. Here is where the grace of God comes in. All validly Baptized Protestants are actually members of the Church, because all that is proper to the Church still belongs to it, wherever it ends up. A Catholic who picks and chooses doesn’t cease to be a Catholic, he becomes a bad Catholic. And the Church is full of bad Catholics. That doesn’t make the Church wrong or bad, which is part of what Fr. Longnecker was saying in his original post. The truth of the Church does not depend on the faithfulness, goodness, or sanctity of her members, who after all are all sinners. The Church is indefectably holy. When you are part of the Catholic Church you are home, you are where you belong. The priest who gives you the Sacraments can be a drunk or a thief, which if course would be bad, but it wouldn’t change the holiness or truth of the Church. You can be surrounded by Mafia members at mass, but the Church will still be holy. Outside, you are stuck taking whatever holiness and truth you can find. There’s a lot floating around. But you will end up attached to some theory that will pass, or some pastor who will move or be disgraced or die, or some “church” that will split in half or dwindle away. You may be lucky and have it happen in another generation, as is the case for most mainline denominations right now. Or it may happen tomorrow.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13955573460484576394 Dave

    James,The answer to your question is quite simple. Jesus had instituted a new and everlasting covenant. The Old Covenant was provisionary, and was active until such time as Jesus inaugurated his Kingdom, the New Covenant.His Apostles thus left the Old Covenant behind to follow the New Covenant. However, after Jesus’ kingdom had come, we expect no further covenants or kingdoms to come after that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    dave,One more question. If you believe there is an unchanging truth at the heart of Catholicsm, if its teachings are constant, who is closest in your view to that teaching? The Opus Dei member, the liberal Catholic or the middle-way Catholic or someone else?James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13955573460484576394 Dave

    james,There are too many uncertainties to answer your question. The answer would be “the one who believes the teachings of the Church, and believes that the Magisterium is divinely guided.”That one could be the Opus Dei member, the liberal Catholic (assuming you mean liberal in a political sense, and not liberal in the sense of dissenting against Catholic doctrine), the middle of the road Catholic, or any combination of the above.The teaching of the Catholic Church isn’t hard to figure out. One needs only read the Catechism to determine it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dave,But the problem is, all three divisions claim to be “the one who believes the teachings of the Church, and believes that the Magisterium is divinely guided” – and also claim the others are not!How is the ordinary Catholic to know which to follow?. They have different opinions on authority, celibacy, even the Eucharist.I know a priest who secretly blesses gay unions. He says he is acting in accordance with the magisterium, papal teaching and Scripture. But another priest calls him a heretic based on the magisterium, papal teaching and Scripture!You say the teaching of the church isn’t hard to figure out. If that is true, why are there so many different interpretations from parish to parish, diocese to diocese?James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    Mr. Hastings youre trying to cast doubt on something the catholic church has already made crystal clear. Now it is a shame that perhaps (as I hear) the Catholic Church in england (and more broadly erurope, again based on hearsay)is less than enthusiastic about the pope and his statements but so long as they are in the catholic church they are ultimately subject to the athority of the pope. just as civilly I may disagree with the president I am subject to his authority. there are thigns that may be changed and things that do not change. the things that do not change are called Dogmas. the rules concerning matrimony contain many dogmas, one of which is that marriage is between man and woman and that marriage cannot be dissolved, even by "Divorce". Because I have neither the time nor inclination to turn this into a game of verbal Ping pong I've looked up some links for youthis is a secion of the Catechism of the catholic church that deals exclusively with matrimony.http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P51.HTMthis page leads to a broadcast made by Fr benedict groeschel regarding the topic of dogmas and what the church can and cannot change. If you earnestly are seeking an answer i reccomend giving it a listen.http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=7054&T1;=sunday+night+livein the meantime my prayers are with you James. Despite what some may say I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are earnestly seeking answers rather than trolling. if this is true I ask that you please act accordingly.Pax Tecum!-Thursday

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    the title of the sunday night live program is “Can The Catholic Church Change?” just needed to add taht last comment.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13955573460484576394 Dave

    James,The teachings of the Magisterium are extremely clear to anyone who isn’t inclined to delude themselves, such as, for example, the priest who blesses gay unions while claiming Magisterial and papal support.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dave,Its no good saying the teachings are clear when abuse is rife. Either they are not clear or the hierarchy and Rome are willing to accept widespread abuses and interpretation in the hope of maintaining some sort of unity. But that just makes you the same as the Anglicans.thursday: I’m fond of Fr Groeschel but I find him too earthy at times. He often comes across as a social worker; as Chistians we need more of the Spirit.This is a genuine attempt by me to understand the magisterium and supposed unity within your denomination. But thursday is correct in saying we need to guard against verbal pingpong.You both sound like sincere Catholics and I pray you continue to be so. I pray for the Catholic church as well as for my own.One day, we’ll all be in heaven and wonder what all the fuss was about.James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07144263108253965465 B.A. Kemple

    James,The Magisterial teaching of the Church can be affirmed by its consistency in matters of faith and morals, as promulgated by Papal encyclicals or dogmatic ecumenical councils. A priest may claim to be in accordance with the Magisterium and promote homosexuality or contraception; but that does not mean he is in line with the Magisterium, and in comparison with official Church teaching on the subjects, he clearly is not! It should, of course, be noted that understanding the teaching of the Church can be difficult, for She teaches on just about everything and, though the teaching is entirely true, it is not always broken-down and clarified for every individual. Even the most learned often dispute on these matters – wherein of course comes faith in Christ’s promise that He will be with His Church always.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    Thank you for your post B.A.I was just thinking of a good example from the scriptures, in which Christ made a explicit demand of his followers and even though he was blatantly clear on the subject his followers dissented from him. I am speaking of course of the bread of life discourse from John chapter 6. Now Mr Hastings you may disagree on this matter and I can understand that but universally in order to consider yourself catholic it is absolutely necessary to understand this passage because in it Christ is explaining the Eucharist.Christ makes in no uncertain terms in this passage he is the bread of life, he repeats himself several times and when they accuse him of being absurd Jesus does not tell them he is speaking metaphorically, no indeed he repeats himself over again for emphasis. the Jews walk away and even the apostles are walking away at this point. Jesus does not back down and is even willing to let his disciples walk away if they cannot accept this teaching. they say:“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”even the apostles are starting to leave and Christ still does not bend under this pressure. this is a truth which cannot change even under popular opinion not even under the ignorance of the disciples and apostles, if this truth is ignored than they have gained nothing. Christ is speaking of a truth which exists and people can claim to be followers of Christ but until they understand and accept his teaching and the teaching of his Church they are not unlike the disciples who walked from Jesus that day and separated themselves from the fullness of his truth.Finally Peter Stood up and spoke: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”yes truth exists even when people find it hard. even when the people God has chosen to lead his church find it hard, but Peter, the rock upon which this church is founded (Matt 16 13-19) speaks, his words carry authority because they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, from whom this authority finds its source.This tradition of authority is still alive today through apostolic succession. This succession was demonstrated in the acts of the apostles with the appointment of Matthias, who replaced Judas after his death. in The Pope, whom is himself the Apostolic successor to Peter the tradition continues today through that same authority First appointed by Christ. This can be seen in the first chapter of acts where again Peter speaking in his role at the head of the church makes this statement in reference to the recent death of Judas:(20) For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.’ And: ‘May another take his office.’(21)Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us,(22)beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.”Peter was then presented with 2 choices: Justus, and MatthiasPeter doesn’t make a decision like this based on his own whims but instead through prayer and discernment of the will of the Holy Spirit.he then goes on to say: “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” the apostolic succession and the truths which are taught by pope who has authority to present them and authority to call those who cannot accept these truths as non catholics are two things that go hand in hand and that is because they both find their source in God through the demonstration by Christ in John Chapter 6. through the authority vested in the apostles in the book of Matthew chapter 16, to the authority to grant successors through the holy spirit as described in acts chapter 1, it all fits together.the magisterium is not something human beings made up rather it is the teaching body of the Church which Christ established and through the holy spirit it is influenced. I hope that perhaps those passages may better explain the origins behind this for you Mr Hastings. I sincerely mean that because I believe that like the disciples you are facing the same predicament they faced when they hard a hard time reconciling with hard truth. Remember though it is Christ who has the words of eternal Life, listen to what he has to say to you and ask yourself if you can accept his words. It’s getting late right now but I will keep you in my prayers.Pax Tecum!-Thursday

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00858695355021361726 Red Maria

    I’d stick with bad Catholics, rather than the flattering sounding “dissenters”. I’d also add pseudo Catholics, or phoneys or out and out frauds. You’re right to observe that just because the Church does not enforce uniformity it does not mean her unity has been negated. However … I think there are times in history when a, shall we say, stronger line from the leadership is required. I think this is one of them.Let me elaborate. There are a number of phoney Catholic groups, often with deliberately malicious intentions, knocking around right now. Ok, most if not all of them represent virtually nobody. They also have a tendency to incestuousness – people associated with one grouplet not infrequently turn up in another not long after – further reducing their tiny numbers.Nonetheless they are given disproportionate coverage by the media, which can confuse the ignorant and are used as a cover of respectability by anti-Catholic politicians and activists.I think it’s high time that other bishops followed the example of Bishop Fabian Bruskevitz in excommunicating members of phoney Catholic groups.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    Red excommunication does not need to be proclaimed it can be done automatically by the sinner themselves. for example if you make a public act of desecration (as has been noted on the blogoshere as of late) you can and will be automatically excommunicated. no statements are nessiary, but they do serve as a notice as to what has just occurred. same thing with these breakaway groups like the SSPX priests or other schismatic groups which elect their own antiipopes. by denying the authority of the Bishop of Rome they cease to be catholic and excommunicate themselves.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00858695355021361726 Red Maria

    Yes, absolutely true, Thursday but in certain periods of history it is necessary for hierarchy of the RC Church to take a more, shall we say, no-nonsense approach and issue a flurry of excommunications. I submit that this is one of those periods. Just so that nobody is misled in any way, wilfully deluded or otherwise confused.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00858695355021361726 Red Maria

    Yes, absolutely true, Thursday but in certain periods of history it is necessary for hierarchy of the RC Church to take a more, shall we say, no-nonsense approach and issue a flurry of excommunications. I submit that this is one of those periods. Just so that nobody is misled in any way, wilfully deluded or otherwise confused.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    I agree with you on that point. I think that pope Benedict XVI is making headway in these matters as well, his approach thus far is simple and direct but also in a way that explains to the faithful how they can correct their transgressions.


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