candid thoughts on the issues of the day.

In the fallout of Fr. Michael Pfleger’s recent "sermon" at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Senator Barack Obama resigned his membership there. This was the culmination of several months of political trauma for the Obama campaign, beginning with revelations in the national media that Obama's pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, has made many politically contentious statements. My intention here is not to judge Senator Obama, Father Pfleger, or Jeremiah Wright, but I do want to assess the choice made by Senator Obama to leave his church of 20 years at the moment when it became a political liability to his campaign.

First, let me point out that I am a Roman Catholic. Thus, I am a member of the same universal Church in which Father Pfleger is an ordained priest. I am a proud Catholic, despite the fact that the Church has had some embarrassing and disgraceful moments in recent history, namely the sexual abuse scandals in the United States. Sadly, many people left the Church in the fallout of these scandals.

The question at hand is the following: Should someone leave their church because of the statements or abuses of some of their church's ministers?

Before I state my opinion, let me first say that every human should feel free to choose their place of worship for whatever reason they desire. This freedom, however, does not mean that others cannot criticize another person's choice of place of worship, or question their motivations for choosing one place of worship over another, particularly when the person in question is running for President of the United States.

In my opinion, the most important factor in choosing a church should be the tenets of faith that the church embraces. For the Catholic Church, these tenets are summarized in the Nicene Creed (“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen…”). Certainly, the qualities of the pastor or the faith community that you worship with might be secondary factors in one’s choice, but if one believes their church is ordained and protected by God, then the church should transcend the individuals who make up its membership or even its leadership.

I am reminded here of a story about St. Francis of Assisi, who lived in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. In this story, it is said that one of St. Francis’s brothers asked him what he would do if he knew that a priest celebrating Mass had three concubines on the side. St. Francis’s response was, “When it came time for Holy Communion, I would go to receive the sacred Body of my Lord from the priest's anointed hands.” The point is that ministers are ordained and “endorsed” by God, not by humans.

If I were a member of Father Pfleger’s St. Sabina parish in the south side of Church, I would take example from St. Francis and faithfully receive Holy Communion from Father Pfleger’s anointed hands. I would not leave his parish. If he was preaching heretical or inappropriate teachings, I might consider reporting this to the Bishop, but I wouldn’t publicly criticize Father Pfleger because to me he is a man of God and to criticize him would be unfaithful to Church teachings.

Senator Obama has instead completely abandoned his church for seemingly political reasons. He has not even said that he will remain a member of the United Church of Christ and simply seek another UCC congregation in which to worship. He just renounced his church at the moment that his church became a liability to his presidential aims.

Let me end by saying I respect Senator Obama’s right to leave his church for whatever reason he wants. And honestly, I hope he joins the Roman Catholic Church because I think it’s the greatest church in the universe. But the fact that he was so quick to leave his church when it was under a political firestorm, to me speaks volumes about whether he exemplifies some of the qualities I would like to see in the President of the United States: Loyalty, commitment, worthy ambition, and a strong, resilient faith.

Comments (Page 3)
on Jun 03, 2008

No there is no evidence in scriptue of this at all.

 KFC, sadly, I'm beginning to think that even if we quoted 100 instances in Scripture of Christ establishing his Church upon Peter and giving the key to Peter, you would still respond "No, there is no evidence in scripture of this at all." But for the sake the Truth, I will try once again...

The rock mentioned in Chap 16 of Matthew is Christ not Peter. The church would be built on Christ, who was the bedrock not Peter which literally means a stone. "Upon this rock" is Christ, not PEter. It was a play on words and the CC has taken it as their proof text.

This is one of many of the Scriptural bases, in addition to Church tradition and a plethora of early Christian writers, from the time of Christ's cruicifixion to the First Concil of Nicaea in 325 A.D., for the primacy of Peter and his successors in Rome as leaders of the universal Church. Personally, it is the most clear of all the Scriptural bases, as it comes directly from the mouth of Christ. The words are worth repeating again:

"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it."

If Peter was not the rock that Christ was referring to here, then why did Jesus not just call him Simon. Could Jesus not be any more clear than actually calling Simon "ROCK"? Do you really think He just went around changing people's names at random? If so, consult the Old Testament when God changed several prophets names for very explicit reasons (Abram-->Abraham; SaraiàSarah Jacob-->Israel . Names of people and places have very important meanings throughout the Bible.

I’m not saying that you, KFC, subscribe to these particular arguments, but I must point out that I have seen the arguments made by Protestants about Matthew using "Petros" instead of "petra." I can only laugh at these ridiculous, futile challenges to Christ's words, whose Truth strikes right down to the bedrock. Can't we give St. Matthew an inch of poetic license here in translating the words of Jesus from Aramaic to Greek? Jesus didn't say "Petros" after all. We all agree he would have said these words in Aramaic, so he would have used the word "Kepha," which Paul also uses for Simon (Peter).

I really find these arguments about “petros” vs. “petra” extremely ridiculous. We’re talking about symbolism here! Just as well as we know that Peter is not literally “a rock,” Jesus is not saying that the Church literally IS Peter. He’s saying that Peter symbolizes and represents the Church. Christ is indeed the rock, the foundation of all of our faith, and Jesus left us with Peter to represent and protect that faith after Jesus rose from this world. Of course the Church starts with Jesus, as the head, but Jesus very clearly gave Peter a very special role to play in the body of the Church, or else he never would have said to Peter things like “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Jesus was not there to try and catch us up on the difference between “petros” on “petra”…if your argument against the role of Peter in the Church is based on that, then I really question your judgment to interpret any part of the Bible!

I even found one of these so-called “petros/petra” refutations of the Church’s teaching on Matthew 16:18 that cited St. Augustine in support of their argument. I looked up the full text of the work from St. Augustine that was cited. It was immediately clear to anyone with two or three brain cells that St. Augustine was clearly of the opinion that Peter held the chief Apostleship in the Church. I think one of my favorite quotes from St. Augustine is now “Who is ignorant that the first of the apostles is the most blessed Peter?" (Commentary on John 56:1)

There is, by the way, a second reference to Christ making this explicit name change for Simon again in John 1:42.

In fact Paul wrote most of the NT and I showed you above where he was the Apostle the Gentiles. In fact Peter wrote two books of the NT while Paul wrote 13.

There is no doubt that Paul was a prolific scriptural author and a great and saintly Apostle. But do you really think the fact that Peter wrote two books and Paul wrote 13 is a valid argument against Peter being the leader of the Church? Let’s see, how many books did Jesus write?

More is mentioned of Paul than Peter after the resrrection.

Again, quantity proves nothing. But didn’t you, KFC, say previously that you not interested in anything that happened after the death of Christ? Why would you bring up how many times Paul is mentioned compared to Peter after the resurrection?

James was actually the head of the church to begin with and we see he was the leader of the Jerusalem council (Acts 15) not Peter.

The first statement is simply not true. Although he was undoubtedly one of the “pillars” of the early Church, James the Just (not James the Greater) certainly not the leader of it. He was the bishop of Jerusalem after Peter had left there. Eusebius wrote that Clement of Alexandria stated in the late second century: “For they say that Peter and James (the Greater) and John after the ascension of our Saviour, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just bishop of Jerusalem."

St. John Chrysostom wrote as early as the fourth century: “If anyone should say, 'Why then was it James who received the See of Jerusalem?' I should reply that he [Christ] made Peter the teacher not of that See, but of the world.”

Regarding the Council of Jerusalem, I don’t think you can say definitively based on Acts 15 alone whether Peter was definitely the leader or James. Both Peter and James stated their opinions. Peter was the first to speak, and James agreed with Peter’s opinion. This issue of “papal primacy” simply didn’t arise because all of the Apostles present were in agreement. The meeting concerned a disagreement between some Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and the delegation of Paul, Barnabas, and Titus over whether Gentiles should be circumcised. James would be expected to lean towards the opinion of the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem, since he was a very strict observer of Jewish law. But after Peter stated his opinion against requiring circumcision, James stated the same opinion.

Based on the entirety of the Scriptures and on well-documented early Church history, it is reasonable to surmise that had James disagreed with Peter’s opinion, Peter’s opinion would have stuck. In my opinion, it’s still clear that Peter “presided” over the Council of Jerusalem based on the fact that he spoke first and after he spoke, everyone else agreed with him…but I wouldn’t count it among the most definitive instances of papal primacy because that issue simply didn’t arise. The earliest, clear example I know of where the issue of papal primacy arose was at the Council of Nicaea in 325.

on Jun 03, 2008

Politics USES religion for its own end.  That's why so many people wind up dead.  Religion provides the moral imperative, and politics provides the mechanism (at the low low cost of votes)


On the contrary, Religion USES politics for its own end.  We give you votes, and you make laws that agree with our moral imperative.


Two very well acquainted bedfellows.  The porn industry has NOTHING on the relationship between politics and religion.  Those two are doing vile acts with each other never before seen on film.

on Jun 03, 2008

Oh, and by the're all pawns.  You know...just in case anyone was entertaining the idea that religion or politics as an institution actually cared about them...uh're just pawns.  Put in a dollar to the collection plate, pawn.   Put in a dollar for the Presidential Reelection fund, pawn.  Put in a dollar, pawn.  Go ahead, pawn, what are you waiting for?  Salvation is a dollar away!

on Jun 03, 2008
Oh, and by the're all pawns. You know...just in case anyone was entertaining the idea that religion or politics as an institution actually cared about them...uh're just pawns. Put in a dollar to the collection plate, pawn. Put in a dollar for the Presidential Reelection fund, pawn. Put in a dollar, pawn. Go ahead, pawn, what are you waiting for? Salvation is a dollar away!

Be careful, Ock, your well thought-out comment will be deleted, just as mine was.

I mean, I spent hours carefully crafting a response, and it was deleted without regard.

on Jun 03, 2008
I just cited 1St.Peter 5:13. Oagan Rome was called Babylon by the early Christians and St.Peter was writing from that city. Also St.Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans in 58AD. In it he says that he does not want to preach the Gospel where Christ is already known because he would not build on "another man's foundation."

So you cited Peter. So what? That has nothing to do with him being or saying he's a pope. In fact if you read Peter directly he addresses his readership as a "servant" not a bishop nor a pope.

As for Paul it says right in Chap 15 of Romans that he was coming to them in Rome. So so much for that. Both Peter and Paul died in Rome.

Therefore, Rome in short, was another man's foundation

whose foundation? Can you show me with the written word whose foundation you're speaking of here?

Have you once looked at the dates of these writings? Paul wrote to Romans in about 57 AD and he not once addressed his letter or made mention of Peter. Peter writes from Rome much later. His two books are dated around 63-66 AD.

The evidence from the writings of the Chruch Fathers and even some later Protestant historians tell that there had been a founder of this Chruch in Rome whom St.Paul was well acquainted and all Tradition says it's St. Peter.

Scripture tells us otherwise. Go to Acts and you'll see the founders of the church of Rome. Peter was in Jerusalem at the time. Also go to Romans 16 and you'll see the list of names. Peter is NOT mentioned.

So your church fathers are in direct contradiction to the scriptures if they are saying Peter founded the church at Rome.

"The martyrdom of peter in Rome was contested for controversial purposes, first by Protestant afterwards

now this is funny. There were no protestants until 1517 when Luther protested against the CC. So who are these Protestants in 67 AD? Hmmmmm?

Besides that...what about the martydom of Paul? He was the most well known of the bunch by making his three well known missionary journeys all over Asia minor.

on Jun 03, 2008
Catholics hold that rock of St.Matthew 16 to be St.Peter.

I understand that and absolutely believe you have been duped. You are hanging onto the wrong ROCK! The rock is Jesus, not Peter.

He selected St. Peter as the secondary rock

then why was James the leader of the Jerusalem, the first council after Christ died? All the Christians got together and somehow elected James as the head? Why would they if they thought Peter should be it?

Why would Paul condemn Peter to his face for denying major doctrines of the church? It doesn't mesh with scripture Lula. Of course it makes perfect sense if you are only going to follow the CC's teachings. They are telling you something that is false because they want you to believe the CC is the right church and Peter is their founder. It's bogus.

In the description of the "Council of Jerusalem" that folows, it is quite clear that Peter presided over the Council, just as the Pope has presided over Ecumenical Councils for nearly 2000 years:

"The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them." (Acts 15:6-12)

NO, NO, NO. quite clear? Ya, if you want to omit scripture. Keep reading. You stopped kind of short. Only going to v12? After Peter, Paul and Barnabas gave their testimony what does scripture say?

Here it is.

"And AFTER they held their peace JAMES answered saying........(then goes on to give a few words)....... (he continues)wherefore MY (JAMES) sentence is that we trouble not them which from amonth the Gentiles are turned to God." V13-19.

It's James who hands down the sentence NOT Peter.

By the way, what "5 major doctrines" do you refer to?

One is unity and you see that in Gal 2:14. Christ demanded unity of his followers. This was to be an essential. While Christ did come to cause division between believers and unbelievers unity was and is most important for believers.

The next one would be justification by faith and not by works...sometimes called Justification by Faith Alone and you see this in 2:15-16.

The third one is freedom from the law and you'd see this in 2:17. Peter was still clinging to the OT ways especially when he was around the Judiazers and not quickly disengaging from the Old Covenant.

The fourth would be the sufficiency of Christ. By going to the Old Covenant the Judiazers were saying Christ dying was not enough. This kind of goes with the third one and you can see this in 2:20.

And the last would be not to frustrate the grace of God. 2:21 The Galatians were nullifying the grace of God by wanting to retain the law. i the law could have provided the righteousness necessary for justification why did Christ have to die?

on Jun 03, 2008
"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it."

Why didn't he just say "upon YOU Peter?" He didn't did he? Now let me ask you this....could it possibly be....

"And I say to you, you are Peter, (after Peter said You are the Christ the Son of the Living God) and upon this rock (pointing to himself) I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Christ had just asked the question. "who do you say that I am?" Peter stood and gave the answer. He was quite often the spokesman for the group.

It was a play on words because Peter is "Petros" and means rock or rock-man. In the next phrase when Christ used "rock" it was "Petra" which is actually a feminine form for rock and actually means boulder or cliff rock. The church is always considered a "she" or bride of Christ so this makes sense.

Christ was NOT going to build his church on Peter who was like a stone, but he planned on building his church on himself, the huge bolder.

Go over to Daniel 2:44-45 and you'll see the prophecy of this rock which will destroy all the kingdoms of this world when he returns the second time.

Peter even said himself...."Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect precious and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded."

Before that he called other believers "lively stones." That was what Peter was a lively stone. He was NOT the rock that the CC is telling you he is. It's a lie and I believed it once as well.
on Jun 03, 2008

Lula posts:
"The martyrdom of peter in Rome was contested for controversial purposes, first by Protestant afterwards

now this is funny. There were no protestants until 1517 when Luther protested against the CC. So who are these Protestants in 67 AD? Hmmmmm?

   KFC, you're would indeed be funny and also erroneous if by this statement Harnack was referring to Protestants physically being there and contesting it in 67AD.

As I read it, what Harnack meant is that no one contested the martyrdom of St.Peter in Rome until the first Protestants did which would have been sometime after the Protestant revolt from Catholicism in 1517.

on Jun 03, 2008
There is no doubt that Paul was a prolific scriptural author and a great and saintly Apostle. But do you really think the fact that Peter wrote two books and Paul wrote 13 is a valid argument against Peter being the leader of the Church?

no not really but you were making a point that Peter was the head of the Church and if anyone should have been given that position it should have been least that's what it looks like by looking at scripture, not only the amount but also the events that transpired and the fact that he was the preacher to the Gentiles, not Peter.

Let’s see, how many books did Jesus write?

actually.....all of it. Remember John 1:1. Jesus is the word of God. These words we read are coming from his heart to ours.

Men were used as instruments much like we would use a pen today. Diff colors, diff textures and styles but an instrument nonetheless.

on Jun 03, 2008
But didn’t you, KFC, say previously that you not interested in anything that happened after the death of Christ?

no, I don't remember saying that. If I did, certainly not in this context. The history of the early church (called out ones) for one has always been an interest to me.
on Jun 03, 2008

Your title is a tad misleading.

The thing is that I never gave this much thought until just now. See, I thought Obama already left.

Either way, politics is faith, regardless of whether people like it or not, and you can see it in a person's actions.

For instance, the religious tend to be against gay marriage, abortion, all that stuff, and are called "Conservatives".

The lay members tend to not really give a crap about it, and, hey, they'd wanna do it too if they wanted to. We call them "Liberals".

on Jun 03, 2008
As I read it, what Harnack meant is that no one contested the martyrdom of St.Peter in Rome until the first Protestants did which would have been sometime after the Protestant revolt from Catholicism in 1517.

ok. The only thing is, I've never contested (see by what I've written above even) that Peter died in Rome. All of my reading leads me to that conclusion as well as the fact that his books were written from Rome right before his death. So not sure who it was who contested this but not this Protestant...that's for sure.

Actually here's a tidbit for you that I just found out. Did you know that the book of 2 Peter was actually almost not included in the Canon? It's very similar to Jude and many thought Peter didn't write this second book.

on Jun 03, 2008

Be careful, Ock, your well thought-out comment will be deleted, just as mine was. I mean, I spent hours carefully crafting a response, and it was deleted without regard. Schmucks.

Yes, I will delete comments, such as the two disruptive and offensive posts you made, that do nothing but clutter up a post. Several people have taken quite a bit of time to discuss honestly an important issue concerning faith, and your snide remarks are unappreciated. I will NOT delete comments that I simply disagree with, as long as it is clear that the writer is being respectful and has put honest thought into his or her post.

on Jun 03, 2008


he disobeys the Fifth Commandment of Almighty God, thou shalt not kill.


The fifth commandment, according to the real (read: not idolatry-approving) Ten Commandments, is to honor your father and mother. The sixth commandment is to not murder. I know Catholics are always eager to get rid of the second because of their desire to bow down before graven images in express disagreement with the Ten Commandments, but whatever.

Good, SanChonino, I'm glad you know about the Ten Commandments!

Not exactly "whatever", though as you levelled a charge against Catholicism that needs to be defended against.

I know that Catholics have a different set of numbering of the Ten Commandments. As a Catholic I follow the Catholic numberation and this shouldn't surprise you one iota.

On the other hand, it doesn't surprise me that you would bring up the absolutely groundless charge that Catholics are image worshippers and that's the reason for the difference in the numbering system.

The Divine Commands given to Moses are recorded twice in the OT, once in Exodus 20:1-17 and in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. The two lists are almost identical and Scripture makes no explicit division or enumeration of these commandments. The Catholic system was laid out by St.Augustine in the 5th century.

The First COmmandment is broadly with false worship. The "other gods" of Deut. v. 7  of the pagan peoples which God forbade the ancient Israelites to worship were typically represented as a "graven image" v. 8. So, it's logical not to divide these two statements into separate commandments, but rather see them as a single prohibition of idolatry.

So, from this we can reject the silly notion that it's some kind of Catholic invention to defend the use of religious images against Protestant objections.

The Protestant numbering system as you related stems from the traditions of the Church of England and the Reform leaders in Switzerland, Calvin and Zwingli.

As a side note, and if you are still unconvinced, I'd advise you to read the rest of God's instructions. He actually commanded the Israelites to store these Commandments, carved in stone, within a sacred container called the ark, to be decorated with golden images of angelic beings called cherubim.

He also commanded the people to decorate the places where they worshipped with gold, bronze, and wooden images of animals and plants. So. clearly, the commandment against graven images was not a ban on the use of religious images we see in Catholic churches and those we have in our homes, etc.






on Jun 03, 2008


The bible always interprets itself.

Can't be...for Scripture itself states that it is insufficient of itself as a teacher, but rather needs an interpreter.

2St.Peter 3:16 states that in St.Paul's epistles there are 'certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest (distort) as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction."

And then there is Acts. 8:26-40 and the account of the deacon, Philip and the Ethopian eunuch. Philip learns that the eunuch is reading from Isaias and asks him if he knows what he's reading. He replies , How can I unless someone shows me. This statement verifies that the Bible is not sufficient in itself to interpret itself. Just as the eunuch needed an authority, ( Philip) to insruct him properly to understand what the Bible says, so do we.

If the Bible were to interpret itself, then the eunuch would not have been ignorant of the meaning of the passage from Isaias.