I try to visit the "Holy See" website, ever so often, just to keep up on what is being propagated by Rome. Today was one of those days and I felt that some might find, what I found, interesting.
Rome is counting on the prevailing ignorance among Protestants/Evangelicals to bring about ecumenism (world-wide "Christian" unity). Rome is also counting on the prevailing ignorance of their own communicants. The unity they are striving for, is an outward unity which will be under their authority—one that will only be achieved due to the ignorance of those who wear the name of Christ as the cry of the land will go out from Rome, “Peace, peace”, when there is no peace.
Read this partial transcript of an address given by Benedict XVI just 4 months ago. Pay close attention to how kindly he refers to Luther’s confused understanding regarding Paul’s teaching and, although he mentions the Council of Trent, he fails to share that that very Council placed an anathema on anyone and everyone who believes that justification is by faith alone.
Paul VI Audience Hall Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Saint Paul (20): St Paul's life and legacy
"It is obvious that the Fathers of the Church, and subsequently all theologians, were nourished by the Letters of St Paul and by his spirituality. Thus he has remained throughout the centuries and up to this day the true teacher and Apostle to the Gentiles. The first patristic comment on a New Testament text that has come down to us is that of the great Alexandrian theologian, Origen, who comments on Paul's Letter to the Romans. Unfortunately, only part of this comment is extant. St John Chrysostom, in addition to commenting on Paul's Letters, wrote seven memorable Panegyrics on him. It was to Paul that St Augustine owed the crucial step of his own conversion, and to Paul that he returned throughout his life. His great catholic theology derives from this ongoing dialogue with the Apostle, as does the Protestant theology in every age. St Thomas Aquinas has left us a beautiful comment on the Pauline Letters, which represents the ripest fruit of medieval exegesis.
A true turning point was reached in the 16th century with the Protestant Reformation. The decisive moment in Luther's life was the "Turmerlebnis" (1517), the moment in which he discovered a new interpretation of the Pauline doctrine of justification. It was an interpretation that freed him from the scruples and anxieties of his previous life and gave him a new radical trust in the goodness of God who forgives all, unconditionally. From that time Luther identified Judaeo-Christian legalism, condemned by the Apostle, with the order of life of the Catholic Church. And the Church therefore appeared to him as an expression of the slavery of the law which he countered with the freedom of the Gospel. The Council of Trent, from 1545 to 1563, profoundly interpreted the question of justification and found the synthesis between law and Gospel to be in line with the entire Catholic tradition, in conformity with the message of Sacred Scripture read in its totality and unity."
Further down he says:
“In the progress of exegesis, especially in the past 200 years, the points of convergence between Catholic exegesis and Protestant exegesis have increased, thereby achieving a notable consensus precisely on the point that was the origin of the greatest historical dissent. There is thus great hope for the cause of ecumenism, so central to the Second Vatican Council.”
What he fails to tell his audience, is that Rome not only “found the synthesis between law and Gospel to be in line with the entire Christian tradition, in conformity with the message of Sacred Scripture in its totality and unity” but they also pronounced an anathema on anyone who held/holds the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ Alone. These anathemas (that came out of the Council of Trent) are still binding on the Church and require that Rome excommunicate any person who holds to the doctrines expressed in them. Therefore, the “unity” that he is speaking of and hopes for, cannot be achieved unless one denounces the doctrines of the Reformation.
He knows that! He is simply hoping that the majority of those who call themselves “Christians” (all over the world and especially in the Protestant/Evangelical churches) do not.
Unfortunately, I fear that Rome does have an edge because of our ignorance. Just as many sign statements of faith to become members of their own local churches without truly understanding what those statements of faith say and/or mean (and many don’t even care to know); so, many will also hold hands with Rome in what will appear, outwardly, as a “unity of the faith”. But, it will be only that—outward. As true unity already exists among all those who have been reconciled to God through faith in Christ.
Just be aware of what Rome believes and teaches before coming to conclusions; having and expressing opinions; and, most importantly before thinking that Rome sees you as a brother or sister in the faith. Read the following Canons that are still binding and see whether Rome would embrace you as a brother or excommunicate you as an heretic.
CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.
CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.
CANON XIV.-If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.
CANON XVIII.-If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.
CANON XX.-If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema.
CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.
CANON XXV.-If any one saith, that, in every good work, the just sins venially at least, or-which is more intolerable still-mortally, and consequently deserves eternal punishments; and that for this cause only he is not damned, that God does not impute those works unto damnation; let him be anathema.
CANON XXX.-If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.
CANON XXXII.-If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.
CANON XXXIII.-If any one saith,that,by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.