The Holy See

The Roman Catholic Church—it is so grand, so very awesome—the magnificent cathedrals; world-renowned artists, sculptures, and musicians; and charitable work all over the world. The splendid attire of the clergy with the big pointy hats, the pomp and ceremony, absolutely unrivaled. How could one fail but be inspired by it all.

Then for generation after generation families identify as Catholic: unthinkable to leave it, this Church above all churches, which emerged out of the Holy Roman Empire and before which kings, presidents, even whole nations trembled.

But then this:

Sex abuse: A report on sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church in Germany says 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014, two leading German media outlets said Wednesday. Spiegel Online and Die Zeit said the report they obtained— commissioned by the German Bishops Conference and researched by three universities—concludes that more than half of the victims were 13 or younger and most were boys. Every sixth case involved rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, both weeklies reported. Die Zeit wrote that 969 abuse victims were alter boys. (San Francisco Chronicle, September 13, 2018, page 2)

What do we make of the article above? One priest I spoke with wanted me to be sure and know that this has nothing to do with homosexuality, but with pedophilia only. Okay, I guess that means homosexuals were not involved; some will go for this, protects them against being targeted by the pro-gay folks, but most of us are not going with this assessment. Yes, heterosexuals molest kids, too, this is a given. In any case, homo or hetero, this is all going on within the Roman Catholic Church, and worldwide.

Do we see this in other Christian branches and denominations? Yes, we do, including in Baptist churches, of which I am a part.

Bigger than we know about right now

 We have been hearing about the trouble in America with the Catholic clergy, some in England, now Germany, but where this looms largest is in Latin America and Africa. In these places, abuses rarely are mentioned, but when it all breaks lose, the Roman Church will be exposed like no one could believe.

Two days ago I happen to spend some time with a woman from Kenya and a man from Mexico. The Kenyan broke right in with what is going on in the Catholic Church. Yes she said her family is Catholic, and she was raised Catholic. After this introduction, she went on to say that due to wide spread abuse of the little boys (she said nothing about abuse of girls of any age) she, her sister, and son, left for America.

The Mexican then piped up and said the same thing happened in Mexico and now all his family are Baptists. (Note: at that point he did not know I am a Baptist pastor.)

The sexual abuse is however, not the major abuse being perpetrated by the Holy See.

The fundamental error

 We go back now into the third and fourth centuries when the Christians were being embattled by any number of heresies, among which was the Gnostic twisting of Christian doctrine. To deal with the theological issues, church leaders gathered to formulate doctrinal stances.[1] Over the course of time, the head of the church at Rome became dominant. Then when the Roman emperor Constantine became head of both church and state, everything changed.

The one major change, and this is a gross reduction of a complex history, individual salvation belonged to the Roman Church to grant. And this lasted for one thousand years. We speak of this period as the dark ages when the Roman church dominated most all of what was Christian. Then in Germany, through the stance of Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformation in the early sixteenth century. Now, for the first time in a long time, the Scripture was available to the common people, and lo and behold, it was discovered that salvation belonged to Christ alone and not a Church.

Then followed the inquisition when the threatened religious power structure fought back against those who realized the Roman church was in error. Indeed, one of my relatives, John Philpott, mid-sixteenth century, was burned at the stake for believing and preaching that it is in Jesus Christ and His dying for our sin, the shedding of His blood that covers our sin, that we have salvation at all. And the gift of eternal life comes to the individual through the powerful working of the Holy Spirit.

Now what had been Christianity was divided, from that time until today.

Why am I writing this?

My concern is that many will turn from the Catholic Church and from Christianity all together over this dramatic disclosure of abuse in that Church. And by the way, let me be careful to say that any and all institutions, Christian based or not, are faulty, impure, and should not be looked upon as holy. I am the pastor of a Baptist Church, and let me assure you we simply stumble along.

Not only dear Catholic people but also many others will disregard anything Christian as something to be avoided. I agree, there is much to be avoided, and my plea is, before chucking the whole lot, study Jesus and see what you find.

Here is my challenge: Get yourself a Bible and find the Gospel of John, or maybe the first New Testament book, Matthew, and start reading. See what happens. You have nothing to lose, except a few hours of your time.

Instead of tossing the whole thing out, make sure this is a personal decision and not simply a reaction to the current scandal.

Kent Philpott

October 2018

[1] There is no space here to outline the history of Christian thought and doctrine. Going to and typing into a search, the history of Christian doctrine, one will find numbers of books dealing with the issue. It will, upon examining this material, be plain how the church swerved from biblical principles and doctrines into what became the Roman Catholic Church of today. My favorite author here is Justo L. Gonzales.

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