Sunday, 17 October 2010

Faithful future...

I sometimes wonder if the Roman Catholic Church, with its moving back into it's medieval enclave and rolling back of the detente that Vatican 2 allowed, has actually thought this through. It cannot have escaped the notice of those in the pews that the last fifteen or so years of John Paul II's reign saw the unchecked rise into key posts of the most hardline organisations and their spokesmen. Benedict XVI was, without doubt, something of an eminence grise behind the Papal throne and while I do not agree with the hysterical lobby in the UK who seek to make him personally responsible for the abuse of children, I do take leave to doubt that his reign will either advance Christian unity or be good for his own Church.

One thing that has always troubled me about the Roman claim to exclusive validity of spiritual authority and exclusive possession of the 'true' Gospel is what this says about the faith of those who share the same creed, the same Bible and the same faith - except the bit about the Pope being the legitimate successor of St Peter and having the 'authority' given to Peter by Christ. It is simply this - their position to exclusive faith implies that anyone not within their Church wastes their time praying or worshipping. If Rome alone has the spiritual authority, then anyone else's prayers are pointless, since they will not be heard in heaven and no matter how good a life any non-Roman leads, they have no hope at all of Salvation.

To me, that is patently false. It is a complete misrepresentation of the Gospel and, interestingly, is founded not in the Gospels, though they constantly quote passages to support this claim, but in the medieval power struggles for control of the Church. Rome's claims were rejected outright by the Orthodox Church in the 10th Century after they first emerged in the 8th Century. Almost all the writings that are now quoted to support the claim of succession were written between the 8th and the 11th Centuries and are patently efforts to justify the Bishop of Rome's claims. Close examination of the list of Pope's reveals some interesting anomalies, not least the fact that at least one of them was a follower of the Arian Heresy (Modern Shia Islam is founded on this heresy) and others of the 3rd and 4th Century are equally dubious.

As I said at the outset, I have no reason to wish to see the Roman Catholic Church continue to be under attack from secularists, humanists and atheists, because it damages all of Christianity. I do hope and pray though, that Rome can be brought to the realisation that a retreat into the medieval practices and enclaves is not going to serve any Christian well and it certainly will not aid the spread or the teaching to the Gospel.

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