In Rome’s unwavering efforts to honor Mary with the accolades of immaculacy, the mantle of inviolable purity, the admiration of angels and the veneration of men, there is an unfortunate tendency to see Mary in every reference in the Bible. It would seem that there is not a verse in the Old Testament that does not prefigure her: she is the “land of Havilah” in Genesis 2:11. She is, at once, Noah’s Ark, the dove he released, and the olive branch it returned. She is Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, from which the Almonds of Jesus grew. She is Jesse’s Rod from which the branch of Jesus sprung (for “rod” in Latin is “virga,” which must refer to the Virgin), and she was present when the Spirit blew upon the seas at creation (for the Latin word for “seas” is “maria,” which must refer to Mary). She is the virgin soil from which Adam was made, and she is the cloud that led the Hebrews out of Egypt. She is Gideon’s fleece, the temple, the tabernacle, the ark, as well as the golden urn containing the manna within it. When David danced, he danced for her, and what Moses saw in the burning bush prefigured her—she was at the same time the flame and the unconsumed wood of the bush. She is even prefigured in the rotting manna, and Jesus is prefigured by the worms that fed on it.
In 897 AD, Pope Stephen VII had Pope Formosus’ body exhumed and put on trial at the infamous Cadaver Synod, during which the corpse was found guilty, and stripped of his papal vestments. Pope Theodore II later convened a synod and overturned Pope Stephen’s findings, as did Pope John IX after him. But later, Pope Sergius III overturned the rulings of Theodore II and John IX, and reaffirmed the conviction of Formosus. Perhaps Formosus’ corpse will find some little comfort in the knowledge that it is still—at least for now—listed on Rome’s “unbroken line of popes” currently on display at the Vatican.
We find a papal corpse a particularly fitting background image for this post on infallibility’s fatal flaw. The Roman Pontiff, in order that the Church may share in Christ’s infallibility, says the Catechism, “enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 891). But there is one problem: nobody knows when the Pope is speaking infallibly, nobody knows how often a pope has spoken infallibly, and nobody knows what the criteria are for when a pope is speaking infallibly. Continue reading Infallibility’s Fatal Flaw→
The pattern for Rome is this: “we already know this to be true, so there is no error in creating evidence to support it.” This is why I call ‘Tradition’ the historical revisionism that it clearly is.
It is nonetheless a true, and verifiable statement. John Henry Cardinal Newman, one of the most famous converts to Rome from the Church of England, was a prolific writer and, after his conversion, a staunch apologist for Rome. He provides one of the best examples in recent memory of an apologist who was committed to the circularity of Roman epistemology: “we already know this to be true, so there is no error in creating evidence to support it.” When commenting on A Legend of St. Gundleus, Newman not only allows for adding fictional dialogues to the gospel narrative—he insists that it is necessary. Continue reading “Truth” received on no authority at all→
The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Word of God is transmitted to the Church by Tradition, the Scriptures and the Magisterium (i.e., popes, councils, etc…). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (81),
Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.
Christians hold to Sola Scriptura (the written Word of God alone) while Roman Catholics hold to Sola Verbum Dei (the Word of God alone), as transmitted by Tradition, etc… Roman Catholic apologist, Scott Hahn, makes this point nicely in his book, Rome Sweet Home (p. 74). The Roman Catholic Church sees “Tradition” as part of the Word of God, and thus, it makes little sense (to Roman Catholics) when Christians say that Rome’s “Tradition” goes against “the Word of God.” Tradition, to them, is the Word of God.
Therefore, to the Roman apologist, there is no tension when Tradition includes doctrines not explicitly included in the Bible. Tradition merely helps us understand what Scripture means. This leads to some interesting arguments, like this one from Roman apologist Robert Sungenis, who says, if Roman Catholic teachings are in the Bible, then I should be able to find them somewhere else. Continue reading All the Way Back→