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The oman atholic bserver

An Open Letter To Catholic Readers

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Page19: Revised 09/13/1999

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What's on this Page: [ To My Roman Catholic Readers ] [ Who is Responsible for my Soul? ] [ My Catholic Education ]

To My Roman Catholic Readers

I am a former Roman Catholic. I was educated for twelve years in Catholic Schools. I was an altar boy, and today, fifty years later, I can repeat almost all of the Latin Mass responses, and give the approved answers to questions from the Saint Joseph Catechism, the one from which I learned.

What happened to that good Roman Catholic boy and young man, that he is webmaster of an Internet site that seems determined to undermine one's faith in the church of his youth? Basically, I did what my church told me I should never do - read the Bible for myself. It all started back in 1963, with an abundance of 'green stamps' and nothing to 'spend' them on. My wife and I were at the 'green stamp' redemption store. After picking out what she wanted, we had enough stamps left over to get ourselves a Bible.

Mind you, it was an authorized Roman Catholic translation because at the time I didn't trust Protestants even a little bit. I suspected that their translations had to be wrong because they were not Catholic, and, like all young Catholics, I knew that I belonged to the one and only 'true' church of Jesus Christ. It never entered my mind to question my church's authority; they were right, and that was that! In other words, I was a typical, spiritually mindless, keep-the-laws-and-don't-ask-questions member of my church.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I could ask questions - as long as they were the 'approved' questions straight from a catechism. Otherwise I trod on dangerous ground! The few times I questioned the authority of the church to make certain declarations, I was sternly reminded that the church was a whole lot smarter than me, it was the their business to look after my soul, and it had an infallible mandate directly from God to tell me what to believe.

One question that would not go away was "Which is more important - defending doctrines and dogmas, or seeking the truth?" Perhaps you can guess how I finally answered it.

Who is Responsible for my Soul?

Since my early twenties, the idea that someone else was responsible for my soul, for my salvation, ate away at me. As I read, and re-read my new Catholic Bible, it repeatedly informed me that I was personally responsible. I saw that it had to do with my acceptance of Jesus Christ, not of a book full of my church's cannon laws so complex it required experts to interpret for me.

One question led to another, and yet another. I spent a great deal of time seeking answers from my local parish priests, and even from a Jesuit theologian. I scoured the catholic bookstores but could not find a single book dealing with the subject of salvation. Imagine! The most important subject any human being can deal with, and there was not a single book about it! Then I was just puzzled; today I know why.

What it all came down to was, "Just keep quite and believe what we tell you. Reading the Bible is dangerous because it can cause you to lose your faith. Obey the laws of the church and you will be alright. Go to confession regularly, take communion at least once a year, keep the sacraments, pray to Mary and you will be all right."

Something within me could not accept this kind of instruction. Call it rebellion, call it pride, call it the Holy Spirit, call it what you will, but I sensed I was being lied to . . . that my priests could not answer my questions because they didn't have any answers. Regardless of the subject, in the end it always came down to that one point: "Believe us because we tell you, and we have special authority from God to do so." For just one example, I asked several priests how they could, in the confessional, say to me, "I absolve (forgive) you (of your sins)..." yet demand that I still had to pay for them anyhow in Purgatory? "How can you tell me I am forgiven when it is so obvious that Purgatory says I am not forgiven?"

The stock answer was, to me, just so much gobblydegook. They spoke to me of different kinds of punishment, and of different places where payment must be made. They even told me I could commit a whole lot of little sins (sic., venial sins) without straining my conscience, or separating me from God. They also informed me that I could earn indulgences (time off from Purgatory) by performing certain pious acts, or by shelling-out for Mass cards. They did everything but answer my question!

I sought for these concepts in my new Bible. They were not there! Where my church was wrapped up in very complicated arguments, the Bible was very clear. It told me that all sin separates me from God. It said nothing of Purgatory at all! It told me that God is faithful and just, and will forgive my sins completely and immediately when I confess them to Him. I found that God's Word did not instruct me to work-off Purgatory time, nor that I could buy my way out with indulgences. The Bible did not tell me I had to go and tell my sins, in minute detail, to another man just like myself. Where my church told me I was cursed, damned to Hell for disobedience to her rules, indeed, even for thinking differently, God told me of a loving Father, eager to forgive me and even to send His Holy Spirit to live within me. The only curses I could find in my New Testament were directed at those who rejected Jesus Christ and the clear teaching of the Bible, the very Word of God.

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My Roman Catholic Priests and nuns were very specific in telling me it was a mortal sin to enter a Protestant church. They worked hard to discourage me from having Protestant friends because they did not belong to the one, true church, but were heathens. This really confused me as a child, because my version of a 'heathen' was some dude wearing a loin cloth and a string of shrunken heads, and I just could not relate that to the kids in my neighborhood who went to the Baptist or the Methodist church, and who for the most part, played ball better than I did!

My Catholic Education

I was your typical, obnoxiously proud Catholic kid. Proud because I attended Catholic schools which, I was told, were infinitely superior to public schools. I have to tell you that I really believed that - until I got to college! There I quickly learned that students from public schools were often a whole lot smarter than me, and had gotten a much better education than me. The myth of the superiority of Catholic schools vaporized when students from the two systems met for the first time on a college campus.

The only 'advantage' I had was my daily religion classes, which were supposed to mark me as superior to public school students. Some 'advantage!' It was no help at all when it came to calculus, basic electricity, mechanical drawing, or transistor theory. And those daily religion classes? Nothing but rote memory stuff . . . precepts of the church . . . parroted answers to pre-prepared questions . . . and, starting about sixth grade, sex, sex, and more sex. The girls were forbidden to wear black patent leather shoes because the boys could see the reflection of their underwear. Please don't laugh; the nuns really did say such things. My teaching nuns were almost preoccupied with the subject. In fact, as I think back, the only really bad sins you could commit were deliberately missing confession and Sunday Mass, going into a Protestant church, and anything having to do with sex. All others, such as lying, cheating, stealing, harming others, and so forth all fell into the oh-by-the-way-its-a-venial sin category.

It took me several years to finally conclude that my church bore little resemblance to the church described in the Bible. It took still more fear-filled years to break from the Catholic church once and for all. If your Catholic background is similar to mine, you understand exactly what I mean about the fear part.

I created The Roman Catholic Observer in an attempt to get Roman Catholics to seriously examine their church in light of God's Word, the Bible. It is my desire that you take the subject of your own salvation very seriously. It is also my desire to give you enough accurate information to convince you to get out of that church before it is too late.

It is my intent at this site to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the Roman Catholic Church is not the church of the Bible. Rome has long since departed from the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ, and has created instead an incredible complex, mostly un-Biblical, partly anti-Biblical maze that defies the imagination. Even the famous Roman Catholic apologist Karl Keating admits the near-impossibility of teaching the Catholic religion to people who are already Catholics! Click here to read his comments. Jesus found a very similar religious structure in His time on earth - and went out of his way to condemn it and its practices.

Thus do I present evidence for your consideration. Please do not get the idea that I am 'bashing' catholic people. Far from it! I love the Catholic people, and wish to see them move from the bondage of Rome to the freedom of Christ. At the same time, I do hold the Roman Catholic organization, along with its leaders, in low esteem. Please do not take this as a personal attack - it is not.

Having been a 'good' Catholic for many years, I understand how things are on the 'inside.' When I say, for example, that Catholics are told what to think in spiritual matters, and not how to think, I include myself in that number. It was not an easy thing for me to begin thinking for myself, to begin to take responsibility for my own spiritual welfare. I recall all too well how my back went up whenever I heard anyone challenge some teaching of my church! I was even obnoxious about it. After all, hadn't I been told that I belonged to the only true church? Wasn't I a privileged person? But secretly, my inability to answer questions put to me rankled me on the inside. My anger at those who challenged me stemmed from my own ignorance, not from any true indignation. I had no answers and hated anyone whose questions revealed my ignorance.

You may tend to feel that way about me. I understand. But please, at least consider the issues. If nothing else, it may stimulate you to seek answers to my questions from your priest, from your Catholic book store, from your Catholic apologists. You may come to different conclusions: that is fine with me. My task is to present you with the evidence, not to be your personal Holy Spirit, nor to convict you of the Gospel Truth. That job belongs to God alone. Once I have given you the evidence, it becomes a matter for God and you to resolve.

I hope you enjoy The Roman Catholic Observer!

Best wishes in the Name of Jesus Christ,

Bob

Webmaster.

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