Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Refutation of Robert Sungenis' Charge that Pope St. John Paul II Denied the Reality of Hell and Taught Universalism

By Dave Armstrong (4-26-11)

Psalm 50:20 (RSV) You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son.

Wisdom 1:11 Beware then of useless murmuring, and keep your tongue from slander; because no secret word is without result, and a lying mouth destroys the soul.

Sirach 5:14 Do not be called a slanderer, and do not lie in ambush with your tongue; for shame comes to the thief, and severe condemnation to the double-tongued.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, 

Colossians 3:8 But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. 

1 Peter 2:1 So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander

* * *

From recent disgraceful radical Catholic reactionary polemical rantings of barely-an-apologist-anymore Robert Sungenis:

. . . ambiguous statements in certain encyclicals that seem to lean toward universal salvation . . .

(from: Santo Non Ancora! Saint John Paul II: published in the notorious RadCathR rag, The Remnant on 5 February 2011)

. . . the universal salvation that John Paul II so often promoted in his addresses and encyclicals.

. . . making ambiguous statements that could be interpreted such that all men will be saved or that humans may not be involved with hell . . . In fact, he suggested that hell may not even exist. That was “the faith” of John Paul II.

Pope St. John Paul II

A second characteristic of St Leonard Murialdo was pedagogical concern. He was unquestionably a great educator, like Don Bosco, and dedicated his whole life to the education of children and young people, convinced of the value of the preventive method and of Christocentric guidance.

Let us meditate together on what he wrote to confreres gathered in the Spiritual Exercises of 1898: "May love of God bring forth zeal for the salvation of the young: "ne perdantur", St John Chrysostom says, "so that they may not be lost", not be damned, and therefore ... real zeal to save them, to instruct them well in religion, to instil in them love of God, of Jesus Christ, and of Mary, and zeal to save themselves. But all this will not be obtained unless one has humility of heart". 

It is an exhortation which the Pope wishes to echo this morning. let this be your spur: educate to save! From the "pedagogy of eternal salvation" there springs logically the "pedagogy of love". Commit your lives completely to edifying, to forming children and young people, behaving in such a way that your life will be a continual example of virtue for them: it is necessary to become a child with children and everything to everyone in order to win all to Christ!

(ADDRESS TO THE CONGREGATION OF ST JOSEPH; 1 December 1978; section 2)

And this we must all remember: that it is not lawful for any of us to deserve the name of "hireling", that is to say, the name of one "to whom the sheep do not belong", one who, "since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees the wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep" (Jn 10:12-13). The solicitude of every good shepherd is that all people "may have life and have it to the full", (Jn 10:10) so that none of them may be lost, (cf. Jn 17:12) but should have eternal life.

(Letter to All Priests on the Occasion of Holy Thursday, 8 April 1979; section 7)


Nor can the church omit, without serious mutilation of her essential message, a constant catechesis on what the traditional Christian language calls the four last things of man: death, judgment (universal and particular), hell and heaven. In a culture which tends to imprison man in the earthly life at which he is more or less successful, the pastors of the church are asked to provide a catechesis which will reveal and illustrate with the certainties of faith what comes after the present life: beyond the mysterious gates of death, an eternity of joy in communion with God or the punishment of separation from him. Only in this eschatological vision can one realize the exact nature of sin and feel decisively moved to penance and reconciliation.


In her motherly concern, the Blessed Virgin came here to Fátima to ask men and women "to stop offending God, Our Lord, who is already very offended". It is a mother's sorrow that compels her to speak; the destiny of her children is at stake. For this reason she asks the little shepherds:  "Pray, pray much and make sacrifices for sinners; many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them".  . . .

And when the time came for Francisco to leave, the little girl tells him:  "Give my greetings to Our Lord and to Our Lady and tell them that I am enduring everything they want for the conversion of sinners". Jacinta had been so deeply moved by the vision of hell during the apparition of 13 July that no mortification or penance seemed too great to save sinners.


May this appeal of mine not go unheard! At the start of the twenty-fifth year of my Pontificate, I entrust this Apostolic Letter to the loving hands of the Virgin Mary, prostrating myself in spirit before her image in the splendid Shrine built for her by Blessed Bartolo Longo, the apostle of the Rosary. I willingly make my own the touching words with which he concluded his well-known Supplication to the Queen of the Holy Rosary: “O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you.   

(APOSTOLIC LETTER ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE; 16 October 2002; section 43 [concluding paragraph] )

* * * * *

Moreover, as my friend Paul Hoffer noted in this combox (and as I also mentioned on my Facebook page), the reality of hell for the devil and his demons and for damned human beings is expressly taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (produced during Pope St. John Paul II's pontificate)


1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."

1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire," and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance"

Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

Pope St. John Paul II expressly "ratified" and approved of the Catechism in his Apostolic Letter, Laetamur Magnopere on (15 August 1997). Here are some excerpts:

. . . it faithfully repeats the doctrinal content which I officially presented to the Church and to the world in December 1992. . . . 
The Church now has at her disposal this new, authoritative exposition of the one and perennial apostolic faith, and it will serve as a "valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" and as a "sure norm for teaching the faith," as well as a "sure and authentic reference text" for preparing local catechisms (cf. Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, no. 4).

Catechesis will find in this genuine, systematic presentation of the faith and of Catholic doctrine a totally reliable way to present, with renewed fervor, each and every part of the Christian message to the people of our time. This text will provide every catechist with sound help for communicating the one, perennial deposit of faith within the local Church, while seeking, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to link the wondrous unity of the Christian mystery with the varied needs and conditions of those to whom this message is addressed.

[see also his earlier Apostolic Constitution, Fidei Depositum, of 11 October 1992]

* * * * *

Critics of the late pope have produced a list of supposed statements of his that teach (so they say) "universal salvation" (i.e., all men actually being saved and none going to hell). Upon looking over all these, it is clear that they refer to 1) universal atonement (as opposed to the Calvinist limited atonement), and 2) God's desire that all men be saved. Neither thing is the same thing as all men actually being saved in the end (or universalism: the denial of all reprobation and the existence of hell for human beings). The pope was merely using the language that Scripture often uses.

Robert Sungenis -- using the cynical and ultra-uncharitable supposed "logic" that he applies to Pope St. John Paul II -- would have to consistently regard as "universalistic" the following Bible passages:

Wisdom 16:12 (RSV) For neither herb nor poultice cured them, but it was thy word, O Lord, which heals all men.

Luke 3:6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
John 3:17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
John 4:42 ". . . we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world."
John 6:33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world. (cf. 6:51 and 8:12 / 9:5: "light of the world")
John 12:32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.
John 12:47 . . . I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
Romans 5:18 Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.
2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Ephesians 1:9-10 For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ [10] as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Ephesians 3:9 and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;
1 Timothy 2:3-6 . . . God our Savior, [4] who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, [6] who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.
1 Timothy 4:10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men,
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
1 John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.

If we adopt Sungenis' relentless fundamentalistic woodenly literal interpretation, then the Bible is clearly as outrageous as he thinks Pope St. John Paul II was. We might as well throw out Holy Scripture along with Pope St. John Paul II's canonization, and be done with it. Maybe Bob can deliver us a new, better revelation, and play Moses as well as Jeremiah (and Elijah: calling fire down on all the false prophets of "neo-Catholicism").

It's quite clear that Pope St. John Paul II intended his statements to be understood in this light of "God desires all to be saved" / universal atonement sufficient but not efficient for the salvation for all, once we examine several of his statements in context, and how he presents them in the context of some of the biblical passages noted above:

"we are obliged to hold that the Holy Spirit offers everyone the possibility of sharing in the Paschal Mystery in a manner known to God." God's plan is "to unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph 1:10) [Encyclical, Redemptoris Missio]
as St. Paul explains when he writes: "One died for all" (2 Cor 5:14; cf. Rom 5:18). Christ won universal salvation with the gift of his own life. [General Audience of 31 May 1995]
Paul himself expresses and fulfils the Church’s universal mission in a particular way. On the road to Damascus Christ associates him with the divine plan of universal salvation: “The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will ... for you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-16).” [Homily During Mass With His Holiness Aram I as Part Of Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity; Saturday, 25 January 1997]
All are invited to "be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5:20), to be saved and to work together for universal salvation, because God "wants all to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4).  [Jesus' Earthly Life Is a Model for the Laity; General Audience — November 10, 1993]

Etc., etc.

Therefore, it is yet another case of citing someone out of context and arriving at an incorrect conclusion as to what he actually believed and taught. Shame on Pope Bob-o-Link I and on anyone else who "prooftexts" in this shabby, ultimately dishonest, unscrupulous fashion.

* * * 

Update of 27 May 2011: Sungenis has now responded to this post and also to my earlier related one. His replies are far too absurd to waste any more time on: more of the same: yet more shameless and shameful, despicable, relentless attacks on Pope St. John Paul II (the Great) and on the current Holy Father as well . . . Pray for Bob. He is no longer functioning as a Catholic apologist; sad to say.  His most manifest and dominant mentality now hardly differs from that of Martin Luther and Catholic dissidents. He would rather attack Holy Mother Church with lies and falsehoods and distorted polemics, rather than defend her, as Catholic apologists and priests and religious and bishops and various other Catholics do on a daily basis.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Robert Sungenis' Blistering Attacks and Slanders on the Church, and Popes St. John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI

By Dave Armstrong (4-20-11)

 Canon Law 212 and 229 state quite clearly that I do have the right to be a prophet.

(Robert Sungenis, Papolatry is a Sin: A Response to John Dejak of The Wanderer -- 18 April 2011) 

[I don't see anything in canon law 212 or canon law 229 about prophets: nothing that would remotely justify Sungenis directly and repeatedly comparing himself (much like Martin Luther) to Jeremiah. Perhaps I missed something]

A few years back, Robert Sungenis (with whom I have had cordial relations by and large) at my strong urging, agreed to remove several derogatory remarks about Blessed Pope John Paul II from his website. But now he is back to his blistering criticisms: apparently due to the shock of the late great pope's beatification. 

Other recent statements of his are to the effect that the Catholic Church today is not the same as the Catholic Church of the ages. It has, so he pontificates, entered into profound heresy or apostasy. That, of course, denies (or comes dangerously close to denying) the doctrine of the indefectibility of the Church, and if carried to its logical conclusion, entails a Protestant- or liberal dissenter-like schism from Holy Mother Church. I'll let Robert speak for himself (all further words below are his own: I've added some italics for titles).

* * * * *

Attacks on Blessed Pope John Paul II

I’m sorry to have to say this, but from all my knowledge and experience, I would have to say that the last few pontificates have been an almost total disaster for the Catholic Church, especially the pontificate of John Paul II. (If you want a thoroughly detailed and comprehensive critical view of John Paul II’s pontificate that is not influenced by all the flowery assessments of his life and doctrine, I suggest you read Andrew McCauley’s new book, Crossing the Threshold of Confusion. McCauley was an attorney and former writer for The Wanderer.

You might also want to read the 100-page paper by Fr. Luigi Villa Ph.T., titled “KarolWojtyla Beatified? Never!” (Sept. 2010). You can also read my paper “Santo Non Ancora!” from our website. Of course, you can also hide your head in the sand like everyone else and pretend that there is nothing to be concerned about. Contrary to popular opinion, you may conclude with me that John Paul II was probably the worst pope we have ever had and the closest pope to outright heresy and apostasy). The fact that the crowds want to beatify him and call him “John Paul the Great” is just another indication of an overwhelming problem of spiritual blindness we have in the Church of today.

Why can’t many people see this? Why are millions clamoring for his beatification? Our Scripture and Tradition answer that question quite poignantly. Scripture says that the time will come in which “God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie” (2Th 2:11 NAB). God is not neutral when men depart from Him. This was also true in the Old Testament (cf. 1Kgs 22:23). God actually reinforces their apostasy by sending them “a deceiving power.” We were already warned about this in our modern day from the Fatima visions of Sr. Lucia in which she said that there would be a “diabolical disorientation” upon the Church and that it would seep into the very hierarchy itself, “at the highest levels.” It’s the same reason that Paul VI said that the “smoke of Satan has entered into the Church” (only he was also “disoriented” to the point that he didn’t see that his own actions were part of the “smoke”). The “disorientation” didn’t disappear in the pontificate of John Paul II. It only increased.

(from: Response to Jimmy Akin's blog re preaching to the Jews -- April 2011)

The sadder fact is there exists circumstantial evidence that he is personally culpable, either in allowing his bishops to shuffle incriminated priests from diocese to diocese or in the whisking away of these same bishops to the Vatican for safe haven (e.g., Cardinal Bernard Law who was given sanctuary at the Vatican before he could be prosecuted by the civil authorities in Boston). By and large, John Paul II seems to have turned a blind eye to the heinous sins occurring against little Catholic boys. The recent case of Fr. Marciel Maciel Degollado, patron of the Legionaires, speaks for itself. Maciel was a personal friend of the Holy Father, but had been molesting little boys for decades as well as fathering children from several different women. . . . While the homosexual/pedophile scandal was taking place on John Paul II’s moral doorstep, the promotion of what seemed to be raw paganism was occurring at his Assisi interreligious prayer meetings.

[ . . . ]

[conclusion] I could say more but it would only be redundant. There are problems and excesses in almost every area John Paul II touched (his appointing of liberal and doctrinally suspect bishops; his novel Theology of the Body; his ambiguous statements in certain encyclicals that seem to lean toward universal salvation; his tendency toward collegiality; his campaign against capital punishment by confusing it with the abortion issue; his promotion of the excesses of the charismatic movement; the perennial problems with World Youth Day, etc.). In the end, the only good things I am proud to say John Paul II accomplished was his resistance toward Liberation theology in the early 1980s; his stand against communism; and the writing of his apostolic letter in 1994, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which barred women from being priests. The world loved John Paul II, but it was not because he was heroically faithful to the Church’s tradition. They loved him because of his captivating charisma, but they know nothing about the moral and doctrinal problems that plagued the Church during his pontificate. They are kept in the dark so that the powers-that-be can have their way. The neo-catholic regime will probably make John Paul II a saint, but if they do it will be because they, like him, have turned a blind eye to the state of the Church today. The only solace I can offer is that if you check the Catholic Encyclopedia you will see that there is still a debate on whether canonizations are infallible, and I believe John Paul II’s case will make the question even more controversial than it has ever been. For me it will settle the issue permanently.

(from: Santo Non Ancora! Saint John Paul II: published in the notorious radtrad rag, The Remnant on 5 February 2011)


St Paul tells us in several passages (e.g., 1 Cor 10:1-12; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Thess 2:1-11) that the same apostasy that occurred in Israel could and will happen in our day. How bad might it be? So bad, according to Jesus, that “even the elect would be deceived, if that were possible” (Mt 24:24). This may be especially applicable in our day since John Paul II did precisely what St. Pope Pius X warned about – leading the Church, at its very highest levels, to the “synthesis of all heresies” – Modernism. It is the same thing about which the visions of Fatima warned us – corruption and apostasy occurring at the highest levels of the Vatican, including the pope, due to the “diabolical disorientation” perpetrated by no one less than the Devil himself. . . . The Wanderer is only encouraging modernist popes to continue their departure from Catholic tradition. . . . The Wanderer, and almost every other Catholic institution today, looks the other way. But as long as I’m breathing I cannot look the other way. I’ll be Jeremiah, even if I’m outnumbered 2 million to one. . . . read the 400 page book, Crossing the Threshold of Confusion by Andrew McCauley – ironically, a former writer for The Wanderer. There you will find out who Karol Wojtyla really was and how he severally [sic] undermined our Catholic faith. . . . There was no investigation into the potential heresies uttered and fomented by John Paul II that I listed in my essay.

[ . . . ]

If Dr. DeMarco can read my essay and its list of doctrinal aberrations and departures from accepted Tradition coming from the mouth and writings of John Paul II and not be alarmed by them in the slightest, then it only verifies the spiritual malaise of many Catholics and their apologists today. They deserve a pope like John Paul II. These kinds of people are ripe for deception – the same deception that the Fatima visions said would seep right into the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy and then fall upon its parishioners. . . . I suggest that Dr. DeMarco read the history of Israel in the Old Testament, for the same things that happened then are happening now. He should pay particular attention to the life of Solomon who, although Israel’s greatest king and man of God, eventually turned out to be her greatest shame and a man of sin as he began to give credence to the pagan gods of the nations around him (1 Kings 11; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-12; 1 Cor 1:12). But you say “It can’t happen here”! I suggest all of us read the history of the papacy and the bad popes that occupied the chair of Peter, especially in the second millennium. . . . the universal salvation that John Paul II so often promoted in his addresses and encyclicals.

But I’ve been pointing out John Paul II’s problems for more than a decade, and my Catholic faith is stronger now than it was at the beginning. The reason? The pope is not the basis for my Catholic religion. Jesus Christ is. As long as the pope follows Jesus there will be no problem, and the only real guarantee we have that the pope is following Jesus is when he speaks ex cathedra or when he follows the tradition laid down before him. Assisi is neither of Jesus nor of tradition. It is strictly out of the confused mind of the Phenomenological/Tielhardian/Rahnerian theology of Karol Wojtyla. . . . If you grasp all the deviant theological and moral aberrations of John Paul II listed above and end up calling me a “false prophet” for pointing them out, then the delusion is yours, not mine. I find it amusing that Mr. Dejak goes to “St. Paul” as his authority to condemn me, but wasn’t it St. Paul who upbraided Pope Peter for hypocrisy and perverting the Gospel (Galatians 2:11‐21)? Wasn’t it St. Paul who warned the leaders of the Church not to fall into idol worship and apostasy from the faith (1 Cor 10:1‐12; 3:1‐17; 2Thess 2:1‐11)? St. Paul is my model, not Mr. Dejak’s. In fact, every book of the New Testament warns against apostasy; and it tells us that the very leaders of the Church may, and often are, the perpetrators of the apostasy. No one is immune. Just because you wear cleric cloth does not mean you have a dispensation from sin and apostasy. . . . According to Mr. Dejak, we are only “humble” when we give blind obedience to the pope, even if the pope shows himself to be derelict in his duty as protector of the Faith. . . . If Mr. Dejak can show us how to defend Assisi and the other acts of John Paul II so that they do not capitulate to modernism, I’m listening. . . . So good was Karol Wotyla in mesmerizing his audiences with his ambiguous language; papal apologies; pagan retreats and worldly views that Mr. Dejak can’t see the forest for the trees. How sad. But I expect this kind of reaction. Since the “diabolical disorientation” of Satan will be so great that even the elect could be deceived (Mt 24:24); and so great because “God himself will give them strong delusion to believe a lie” (2 Thess 2:11), then I feel very sorry for anyone who is not well‐grounded in the Catholic faith of tradition. You are open to anything. . . . That’s the part of the equation Mr.Dejak and The Wanderer have ignored. They think that God is somehow going to excuse them from sin if they blindly follow a pope who has been derelict in his duty. Uh uh. God will judge you for your sin, and he will doubly judge the one who led you there. Go read Matthew 18:7‐11.

(Papolatry is a Sin: A Response to John Dejak of The Wanderer -- 18 April 2011)

I think Mr. [Mark] Shea knows, in his heart of hearts, that Assisi is wrong, but being a typical modern Catholic apologist who has more or less sworn allegiance to the powers-that-be to continually produce positive messages of John Paul II, he has to seek for some escape along the lines of taking the focus off the real problem – the promotion of idol worship. God forbid that “St.” John Paul II would be accused of promoting idol worship. That would crumble the whole Neo-Catholic regime in a matter of seconds.

[ . . . ]

Unfortunately, from what we know of the modernistic tendencies in the theology of Karol Wojtyla, it is not unimaginable that he did accept the contents of the Koran as another means to God. . . . It’s not often that a person overtly denies the essentials of the faith, (provided we are agreed on what those “essentials” are). John Paul II did not come out and say “I deny the existence of God” or “I deny that Christ was God and man,” or anything of that material nature. Instead, he couched his language so that the meaning could often go either way. . . . This is just one small example of the same kinds of problems in many statements from John Paul II (e.g., making ambiguous statements that could be interpreted such that all men will be saved or that humans may not be involved with hell; suggesting that the resurrection and return of Christ are merely symbolic; implying that Original Sin is not a fact; suggesting that non-Christians need not convert to Christianity). . . . the moral and doctrinal aberrations of John Paul II were far graver than most of the other bad popes. . . . Not once in 26 years of speaking and writing did John Paul II tell these non-Christian adherents that they would be judged and sent to hell if they did not convert to Christianity. In fact, he suggested that hell may not even exist. That was “the faith” of John Paul II. . . . John Paul II was certainly a “great threat” but it wasn’t against the forces of evil and unbelief. More immorality and doctrinal confusion was unleashed in the pontificate of John Paul II than any other pope in history. . . . The reality is, John Paul II was one of the worst popes we’ve ever had. Immorality is a terrible offense against God, but when that is compounded by a perversion of the Gospel, then the sins cry out to high heaven for judgment, and that judgment is coming very soon.

(Another Failed Attempt to Defend Assisi and Other Scandalous Events in the Pontificate of John Paul II -- 25 April 2011)

Attacks on the "Modern" Church as Allegedly Theologically or Institutionally Distinct from the Historic Catholic Church

I, being an independent Catholic theologian, am able to penetrate a little more deeply and be much more critical, as I have always done in this apostolate. Although some still regard me as a “Catholic apologist,” unlike Jimmy Akin and Catholic Answers I no longer consider myself an apologist for the modern Catholic Church. When compared to the Catholic Church of tradition, I have resolved that the modern Catholic Church will be required to stand on its own, for I simply cannot defend it any longer. There are simply too many doctrinal aberrations and moral laxities in today’s Catholic Church that are indefensible. In light of these problems, I have assumed what I believe is the more appropriate position – that of being a prophet of warning rather than one an apologist seeking to exonerate the Church from false accusations. Today many accusations against the Church are quite legitimate and I certainly will not be a party to sweeping them under the rug. Hence, I presently take my model from that of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and all the other prophets who spoke out against similar doctrinal aberrations and moral laxities that occurred in Israel before God finally judged them. I believe that if the modern Catholic Church stays on the course it has chosen, it also will be judged by God as Israel was, and, in fact, it is already being judged as we have seen the deterioration in the Church for the last few decades.

(from: Response to Jimmy Akin's blog re preaching to the Jews -- April 2011)

This is just another sign that the modern papal regime has thrown out the tradition and is making a new Catholicism in its own image and likeness. . . . This is just another sham perpetrated upon us by the modernists today who run the new church they have made into their own image. . . . Yes, I guess it [Pope John Paul II's beatification] is a great day for the “church” – at least the one that John Paul II made into his own image and likeness.

(Response to Dr. Donald DeMarco re the article in the Remnant titled “Santo Non Ancora: St John Paul II?” -- 4 April 2011)

When Israel’s kings and prophets set up idol worship in Dan and Bethel, most of the common folk resolved in their minds that since their leaders were put in place by God, then who were the people to protest? So the whole nation eventually worshiped idols. The people should have protested, and if they did God would have blessed them and judged the leaders. But that is in the past, you say, and doesn’t apply to us since Jesus promised the gates of hell will not prevail!

(Papolatry is a Sin: A Response to John Dejak of The Wanderer -- 18 April 2011)

Attacks on Pope Benedict XVI

The fact that Benedict XVI has chosen to endorse the doctrinal aberrations and deterioration of the Church caused by John Paul II by beatifying him in May; and then continuing the apostasy of the Assisi tradition in October, means that he is following the same “diabolical disorientation” of his predecessors. He isn’t immune to this devilish influence just because he is a pope. In fact, the devil will bring his fiercest attack on the pope. . . . JON [the pope's book Jesus of Nazareth] puts nothing less than 20 centuries of Catholic tradition on the chopping block, but that is not unusual for post-Vatican II popes. John Paul II did it constantly. It seems they have a need to silence the haunting voices of the past in order to give credence to their continuing novelties.

(from: Response to Jimmy Akin's blog re preaching to the Jews -- April 2011)

I am merely telling Pope Benedict that I think his attempt to beatify John Paul II is wrong, period. I have that right according to canon law, and I also have the right to tell my opinion to “the rest of the Christian faithful.” . . . We are using the canon law he approved to “sincerely” tell him that he shouldn’t be beatifying John Paul II.

(Papolatry is a Sin: A Response to John Dejak of The Wanderer -- 18 April 2011)

Although Benedict XVI is not as ostentatious as John Paul II, at the beatification in May and the Assisi in October, Benedict will be accepting the torch from the grave of John Paul II. I wonder how far he will travel with it until he realizes that it has incinerated much of the Church.

(Another Failed Attempt to Defend Assisi and Other Scandalous Events in the Pontificate of John Paul II -- 25 April 2011)

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Quibble About Lutheran Dislike of the Term "Consubstantiation" and the Absence of a Similarly Descriptive Word

By Dave Armstrong (4-20-11)

A former Lutheran, not-sure-what-he-believes-now-but-attends-Mass friend of mine stated in my comboxes:

Catholics have this bad tendency to try to label other people. E.g., Catholics call the Lutheran view of the presence of Christ in the sacrament "consubstantiation," but Lutherans just call it "real presence."

This is a reasonable point, since it is largely true (though Catholics aren't the only ones who do this: other Protestants do, too).

In this instance, however,  it is mostly a matter of semantics. Lutherans believe Christ is "in, with, and under" the bread and wine. This is precisely what non-Lutherans usually mean by "consubstantiation" (bread and wine are present and so is Christ at the same time). It's just substituting one word for a phrase, where they mean the same. Lutherans don't like the term, as far as I can tell, because of its association with both Aristotelian metaphysics and the linguistic connection with the Catholic transubstantiation.

Martin Luther didn't care for the term "Lutherans" either, and I doubt that Wesley would have appreciated "Wesleyans" or Calvin, "Calvinists", but that didn't stop their followers from adopting those terms, anyway, since Protestantism often suffers from overly man-centered tendencies. To me it is more offensive to go against the wishes of your own founder than it is to use the description "consubstantiation."

The larger problem of terminology with regard to the Eucharist is use of the same words in different ways. Thus an Anglican (or Lutheran) may say "real presence" but they don't mean by that what the Church historically believed for 1500 years (in this regard, see the excellent article, What Do We Mean by ‘The Real Presence’?, by Fr. Dwight Longenecker).

This raises a conundrum when a Catholic refers to it, because in order to properly educate and to accurately note proper distinctions, we have to point out that meanings are different. "Consubstantiation" seems to be accurate enough for that purpose. If Lutherans don't like it, then I suggest that they give us some term to use other than the vague, wax-nose "real presence." The problem is the absence of another similarly descriptive word. "Real presence" is insufficient, since several denominations use it, and mean different things by it. Perhaps I could describe the Lutheran eucharistic view as "in, with, and underism". But would that be preferable? Of course it would be a silly terminology.


This (humorously) illustrates the problem: the need for accurate description of various theological views. No one has any doubt as to where Catholics stand: transubstantiation means, literally, "change of substance." No ambiguity, no confusion or unclearness. A person may disagree with that, but they know exactly what it is, by the term, and looking up what the term literally means.

Lutherans don't like consubstantiation, but they haven't offered us anything else besides "real presence" -- a description that doesn't convey in the slightest the distinctive Lutheran take on the Eucharist. Descriptive terms and labels are used precisely as "technical terms": in order to avoid the need for a paragraph explanation of concepts, when a word can suffice (and a dictionary as well, if one wants to get the precise definition).

Nor is consubstantiation nearly as offensive, in my opinion, as the usual "Romanists" and "papists" that we are habitually called by the more anti-Catholic wing of Lutheranism. For example, here is Rev. Paul T. McCain, writing on his very prominent Lutheran website, Cyberbrethren:

Seems I have touched a bit of a nerve with my remarks about the "Corpus Christi" festival, which I regard as Romanist bunk and tomfoolery,. . . (6-16-06)

It is not we who call ourselves Lutherans. Rather, our adversaries call us that. We allow this to the extent that this title is an indication of the consensus that our churches have with the orthodox and catholic doctrine that Luther set forth from Holy Writ. Therefore we allow ourselves to be named after Luther, not as the inventor of a new faith but as the asserter of the old faith and the cleanser of the church from the stains of Papist dogmas. (10-31-10)

The second paragraph is quite remarkable, in that it uses papist: a term that any idiot knows is not what Catholics call themselves, while at the same time claiming that Lutherans have adopted their name because of the use of "adversaries."  But no one has forced them at gunpoint to use this name. It's a voluntary matter. They chose it and use it. So they have no right now to protest that it derived from their "adversaries".

I am unaware of a book called The Catechism of the Papist Church or a self-described category of "Romanist apologetics." Plenty of our adversaries use those terms but it doesn't follow that we do ourselves. Yet I am supposed to believe that Lutherans had no choice but to use a term they themselves object to? It's beyond ludicrous and it strikes one as after-the-fact spin and rationalizing.

I should also note in passing that this notion that Luther "reformed" the Catholic Church and took it back to some supposed "old faith" (McCain's words above) is factually untrue. It's the fundamental "Protestant Myth." The fact of the matter is that Luther was for the most part a revolutionary (one who overthrows and introduces brand-new elements), not a reformer (one who restores former things that have been lost or corrupted).

Lutherans (and other Protestants) know we don't call ourselves by those terms (papist, Romanist) but no matter, they are used, anyway. And that is a question of preferred title (an ethical issue of rudimentary courtesy universally acknowledged), whereas the other involves complicated metaphysical-theological distinctions, and so, by virtue of that, is not nearly as straightforward or simple a matter compared to the alternate names Catholics are called.

Friday, April 15, 2011

John Bugay and Pope Benedict XVI's Alleged "Pantheism": Even Fellow Anti-Catholics Know This is a Groundless Charge

By Dave Armstrong (4-15-11)

I've been criticizing for months now, anti-Catholic (and former Catholic) John Bugay's ridiculous charge that the Holy Father is a "pantheist" (one who believes that everything or "all" is "God"). It's not worthy of a full response, of course, so ludicrous is it; thus I simply noted it in passing: five months ago:

Right now, for example, on James Swan's site his blowhard "has no idea how profoundly ignorant he is" associate John Bugay is actually arguing with a straight face that Pope Benedict XVI is "pretty much a full-blown pantheist".

I mentioned it again recently (I believe, in a Facebook comment). But this passes for standard fare over on this anti-Catholic site. Thankfully, however, even over there, with their rock-bottom standards regarding fairness and adequate documentation toward or about the Catholic Church, and almost nonexistent logical acumen, some folks are finally starting to get it now, and to criticize Bugay (in public). Better late than never. It takes an anti-Catholic, apparently, five months to figure out what is patently, immediately obvious to any normal Christian observer of average intelligence and knowledge.

The Johnny-come-lately critics realize that this makes anti-Catholics look even more absurd than they already do (which is pretty tough to do: the "bar" being so extremely low already!), and that it's not helping their case. I'm not allowed to comment over there anymore (what else is new?), but it's gratifying to know that opinions I have expressed for months now are starting to be adopted there. Readers may be assured that the good folks at this anti-Catholic site have been aware of my criticisms because it is known that they keep track of my latest writings (since they are not infrequently cited -- minus my name, of course).

It's always fascinating to observe anti-Catholic civil wars, too. We haven't had this much fun since the entertaining endless battles at the old notorious "Reformed Catholicism" website.

Bugay's words will be in red, Ron DiGiacomo's in blue, Brigitte's in purple, and Matthew D. Schultz's in brown (anti-Catholics all). The following excerpts are taken from the post originally titled (later this was changed under internal pressure): The Devotional Life of the Modern Pantheist, Bishop Joseph Ratzinger, and combox underneath it.

* * * * *

As a follow-up to some comments in this thread, I would like to point out that I have previously (and extensively) both defined my use of the word "pantheism" in respect to Ratzinger. This post was a follow-on to a number of posts I've written about Ratzinger. . . . The definition that I gave came in this post:

Pope Starshine, Part 3

The definition is from Michael Horton's new Systematic Theology. Technically it is "panentheism", but I believe it can be used as a subset of "pantheism". . . .

Ratzinger: Resurrection of the Dead is only "symbolically" proclaimed in the Bible, 1

Ratzinger: Resurrection of the Dead is only "symbolically" proclaimed in the Bible, 2

The Pantheism of Roman Catholicism

Pope Starshine, Part 1

Pope Starshine, Part 2


The first post among those five were prompted by this post by a Reformed author in a Reformed publication, Banner of Truth:

Does the Pope Believe in the Resurrection?

I would also point to this post:

Called to Confusion

And note Ratzinger's use of the term "fusion of existences" in his 1991 work "Called to Communion"

I believe in all of these cases, the biblical doctrine of "Union with Christ" is not in evidence; rather, it is something different and all-encompassing in Ratzinger's citations of this "fusion of existences" and some of the other things I have cited at length. Ratzinger is named but the tendency extends to very much that goes by the name "Roman Catholic" these days. 

I can't imagine that Ratzinger ever thought that if God is omnipresent that he cannot be local too. And it’s doubtful that he denies the real presence doctrine of Rome. I would imagine that his point, maybe lost in the translation . . . I’m all for winning but not at any cost. Moreover, I'm not sure how pantheistic tendencies would lead to God not being localized. (4-14-11)

I take that merely to mean that our lives are to be living epistles - no more no less, but to try to get pantheism out of that is I think a bit unjust. Our words must be charitable and true, no matter who we're trying to take down. In light of this, let me revisit a recent sentiment of mine - that if we would just stick to substantial arguments against official doctrine, e.g., merit etc., then we need not fish around for cryptic quotes from recent popes, which in any case aren't dogma and binding. (4-14-11)

This time, they have a pope who's a pantheist and who embraces a time-honored Roman Catholic practice as "senseless". . . . But next time, they may get a pope who wants to, for example, extend the Trinity to include Mary, or to throw out some other time-honored Christian doctrine. It's all just rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship, to be sure. (4-14-11)

I read the German that someone provided, and all it is saying if you want to give a reason to go to church, don't make it this one, that God lives there (as if he were not anywhere else and you could not pray to him from another place also.) There is nothing pantheistic about the whole section. For interest sake, though, and to show how God's omnipresence is not thought of as pantheism, and how he is believed to be present in special way in the supper, I've dug up this quote from Brecht: Luther, Shaping and Defining the Reformation pp. 311, 312. (4-14-11)

. . . what I find interesting is that there is no rational way to impugn this pope on that quote in the manner in which John chose. John tends to jump the gun way too often. We should never read someone contrary to a way that is intelligible and orthodox in order to impugn. (4-15-11)

Let's assume John is wrong here (I don't know either way; I haven't followed this particular issue of pantheism in any detailed manner). There's no need to use this as an opportunity to take public shots at his overall apologetic and all but say that his motives are impure. There are going to be Catholic bloggers who will pick up on your comment and say, "See, even his Reformed brethren think he's a total hack." [Bingo!] Don't give our theological opponents unnecessary fuel for their slanderous apologetics machine. If you really have an issue with John's methodology, write a post critiquing it over at your blog, with supporting documentation and arguments, rather than throwing out something unsubstantiated, bordering on defamatory. (4-15-11)

[responding to the fool "Viisaus's" post] We're to strive to be logicians, not mind readers. Your post is simply an excuse to make anything out of something. (4-15-11)

That was uncalled for. (4-15-11)

Matthew, One can be a total hack, as you put it, and not have “impure” motives. I’m happy to affirm the former because that’s something I can observe. I cannot observe the latter. But to your main point, what’s worse – for Romanists to see that an epologist formulates terrible arguments without being taken to task by his fellow brothers, or for Protestants to look the other way when a brother makes ridiculous assertions? Recklessness is an embarrassment to Protestants. (4-15-11) [Amen!]

Ron, you have my email address. A public forum is not the place for such exercises.(4-15-11)

I'm not saying that you should look the other way. You see an error, fine, correct it, as I would do the same thing; I certainly thought your response to Trueman was a tediously dull exercise in sticking your head in the sand, and I had no problem engaging it over at your blog. The point here is that you made a broad characterization of John's entire apologetic without supporting documentation and arguments. If you think there's a systematic problem here, go demonstrate a systematic problem (or, if it has already been done, cite someone who has made such a demonstration). Go to your blog and do that, rather than taking unsupported shots at John. Go "put some meat on the bones," to paraphrase your standards.  (4-15-11)

I've touched base with Turretinfan -- I freely admit I am not Turretinfan -- and he suggested taking down this whole thread and reworking it. Contrary to what Ron has suggested, I have, on many occasions, asked Turretinfan (and others) to let me know when I'm saying something stupid. (4-15-11)

* * * 

If TAO ("Turretinfan" aka "The Anonymous One") is regarded as the Wise Man and standard of truth, this whole thing has gotten exponentially wackier and funnier than it already was! TAO is a virtual walking textbook example of dense, dopey, clueless illogic in theology, as I have shown time and again in many papers. But he is relatively smarter than Bugay, for sure. John Bugay is sort of the "Jack Chick" of present active anti-Catholics online. The more ignorant he is about some aspect of Catholicism, inevitably in that direct proportion he writes that much more about it (the present case being the most striking instance thus far). He picks up the "ultra-ridiculous clown" mantle abandoned by Eric Svendsen when he decided to forsake Internet anti-Catholic polemics altogether.

Ron DiGiacomo is equally clueless in many ways, too. After all, he is also an anti-Catholic, and everyone with that view commits intellectual suicide by adopting viciously circular and indefensible premises and conclusions flowing from them (as I have shown many times; particularly in my long written debate with Bishop James White in 1995). He also deleted my comments from his blog (to join the long, illustrious list of anti-Catholic censors and thought police). So it is only a matter of degree in the end (how much error any given anti-Catholic adopts). But -- that said -- he is exactly correct about "Blowhard" Bugay. The latter doesn't have the slightest idea what he is talking about, but it never stops him, and he blows his flat, spit-filled bugle all day long . . . 

This will be really fun to observe as time goes on. DiGiacomo will either have to be banned from this site or Bugay will have to shut up or be shut up [Later note: Bugay indeed moved on to the Cryablogue site]. Either way, the folly of anti-Catholicism and its low standards will be revealed yet again (for the trillionth time) for what they are. We'll either watch a huge civil war and self-destruction (a la Luther and Zwingli), or, if Bugay ceases his nonsense, then the All-Knowing, All-Wise Grand Poobah of this anti-Catholic site where this nonsense was spewed will have admitted, in effect, that he was perfectly content to allow utter absurdity to be promulgated on his blog, for many months, before someone (i.e., besides myself) finally spoke out against it. He has already admitted that the Bugay pantheist posts do not reach a minimal level of seriousness that he thinks his posts about Luther do. Yet he was happy to allow several of them to be posted, for over six months now. Can I hear, "double standard"?

This is all very good for the cause of Catholicism and the pursuit of Truth and intelligent discourse in general.

* * * 

UPDATE: 4-16-11, 3;30 PM EST: Sure enough (with utter predictability), the illustrious blgmaster decided to pull the plug on the entire thread, so all of the above is now offline, in accordance with the moral cowardice of the folks who populate this site. No doubt they found out about this post of mine and decided to hide all the evidence. Fortunately I preserved this thread, so we can know about the dissent in the ranks of our esteemed anti-Catholic brethren in Christ.

A quick search of "pantheism" on the site reveals that Bugay's "pope is a pantheist" garbage is still posted, so nothing has really changed. They just want to hide the recent public fracas and cover up the agenda. Thanks for the entertainment, guys!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Meat and Penitential Abstinence on Fridays: a "Doctrinal" Matter? Dialogue with Calvinist "Pilgrimsarbour"

By Dave Armstrong (4-11-11)

My friend "Pilgrimsarbor" was commenting on the anti-Catholic Reformed Apologist site, in the combox for the post, "Carl Trueman and A Need For A Contemporary Polemic Against Romanism". I responded there and, of course, had to preserve it on my blog, since there is never any guarantee that anti-Catholics won't delete contributions from lowly despised "Romanists" like myself. "Pilgrimsarbor"'s words will be in blue.

* * *

Regarding a need for a contemporary polemic against Romanism, as much as my Catholic friends would protest, things do and have changed within that communion. If certain practices have changed, for example, not eating meat on Fridays, there would have to be a constituent doctrinal basis for the change, wouldn't that be true? . . .

Well, as I said, what is the doctrine that dictates that one should not eat meat on Friday?

It's not a doctrine at all. It is simply a penitential requirement that once held and has now been relaxed. It would be like a Protestant pastor requiring all his congregants to attend a Wednesday night Bible study, and then later saying they were no longer required to do so. No doctrine is involved. It is strictly a practice of one's faith.

My point is, since that practice has changed, doesn't it follow that the doctrine which gives birth to that practice has changed?

Not at all. Fasting, for example, is a quite explicitly biblical concept. Jesus did it, Paul did it, and we are to imitate them. Therefore, various Christian belief-systems might develop various ways to implement a program for fasting, especially if they observe Lent (Anglicans, Methodists; I believe Lutherans also). How is that doctrinal? No doctrine is involved whatever. Same thing for us "Romanists."

I realize that a Catholic would not call it a change in doctrine, but it must be so nonetheless.

Really? Why "must" it be? What is so difficult about the distinction between religious practice and doctrine? An example of another Protestant practice would be the "altar call." In some circles (evangelical, Baptist, pentecostal: and I have been part of all of these) this is a virtual requirement in order to be "saved."


But it may not be so in other contexts (Reformed, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.). All these groups believe in salvation by grace alone (as do we). But the practice is different. But that is already more "doctrinal" than abstaining from meat.

I should also note, however, that the underlying, presuppositional requirement to practice some sort of penance on Fridays has not changed: only the specific requirement of no meat has been relaxed.

It is a binding discipline, to practice penance on Fridays. Disciplines are practices (usually devotional or contemplative in nature) recommended or required by the Church, as opposed to doctrines and dogmas that have to do with theological belief. If one doesn't abstain from meat it is required that they practice some form of penance. I myself abstain from meat (well, in my case, poultry, since I don't eat red meat), since it is easy to remember, and was the traditional abstinence requirement.

Or perhaps, they would say that it was not infallible dogma.

Of course it is not. It's not even a doctrinal matter, let alone dogmatic, or a question of infallibility. The celibacy of priests in the Latin rites is a similar example. That's not doctrinal either. It is a disciplinary requirement that doesn't even apply to non-Roman rite Eastern Catholics, based on 1 Corinthians 7 (the single person can be more devoted to God, since there are not divided allegiances with family) and Jesus' noting that there are voluntary eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom.

To deny that, for example, the RCC practice of not eating meat on Friday had no doctrinal basis is, to me, unfathomable.

Hopefully, it is fathomable after you read this. This is not rocket science.

All church discipline and practice, no matter what it is and from whom, has a doctrinal basis.

In an indirect sense, it would have to do with Christ's work on the cross and the atonement and redemption on our behalf, since we observe it in the first place to recall Good Friday. If that is what you mean by it having a "doctrinal basis" then we agree. But the practice itself is not "doctrinal."

Having said that, I still think "changing doctrines" is not the point as much as perhaps changing emphases.

Better, but changing requirements and the range of practices for the same penitential notion is more accurate.

* * *