Debate: The Anti-Catholic "Pope as God" Argument

[ + a brief explanation of Alter Christus and Deification and Theosis ]

Dave Armstrong vs. Paul Mansbacher (pmans@aapi.co.uk)

(additional Catholic commentary from apologists James Akin, Martin Beckman, Lee Cena, and Ian Rutherford)

Paul's words will be in blue, other Protestant comments in dark blue, mine in black, and other Catholic comments in brown. This exchange took place on a public apologetics list (Protestant-dominated and -moderated), so nothing private is being revealed. But it was very confusing there, with many simultaneous posts. Here it is presented with replies (as much as possible) following the comments which they addressed, so that readers can more easily judge the merits of both sides and follow the somewhat complex flow of the debate.

RESPONSE from Lee Cena:

First, we see that the footnote is only that this was an address to the Pope in 1949. More is needed. Secondly, even if this were an accurate quote, the problem lies in the Catholic understanding of terminology. For example, "...your Holiness was taken from amongst men and appointed for men in the things that appertain to God, was made a minister of Christ and a dispenser of His Mysteries, RECEIVED POWER OVER THE REAL and mystical body of our Saviour and became a mediator between God and man - ANOTHER CHRIST." (his emphases) In this situation, it seems that our opponents' argument is that Pope = Christ. However, when we read "received real power" the Protestant (at least this one) reads "usurps real power." This must be pointed out and corrected. Mediation should also be restated and correlated to the Protestant use of mediators in baptism, in marriages, and in "leading another to Christ."

The above actually comes from an address to the Pope by Irish Bishops and Archbishops as I have stated. [he later stated this after repeated requests for proper documentation]

This is not documentation.

First of all, I would hope that you would document your polemical posts. Where did this come from? Boettner or Hislop or Jack Chick?

I have Boettner and Hislop and a few Chick tracts - but I have used other sources, including that of ex-Romanist priests.

Yet you refrain from citing any Catholic apologists you have read, leading me to suspect that you have read none. Your arguments certainly show both a profound, gross ignorance concerning Catholicism and a malevolence against my Church - neither of which is conducive to constructive learning or scholarship.

Boettner has been thoroughly refuted time and again by Catholic apologists, and is notoriously ignorant, unscholarly, and inaccurate (I have links on my website to those refutations - Heresies page). I also have a link to a website devoted exclusively to Chick's fabrications, lies and slanders. E.g., Chick's "former priest" Alberto Rivera has been completely discredited as a fraud and a liar - not by Catholics, but by the evangelical magazines Christianity Today and Cornerstone (see my paper on Alberto Rivera). I knew this 15 years ago, when I was an evangelical. Anyone who continues to rely on Chick and his ilk has ceased to engage in reasonable Christian discourse, as far as I am concerned. By acknowledging these sorts of "arguments" at all, one is lending them a credibility that they don't deserve in the least. Yet someone has to do the "dirty work," so to speak.

But if the above citation is accurate, this would, of course, not be an equation of the pope with Jesus (which is absurd and blasphemous and which has never been taught by the Catholic Church), but a reference to the notion of alter Christus or little Christ - which means that the pope acts as a representative of Christ in his priestly function (as all priests do). The pope is also referred to as Peter sometimes; again, not literally, but in the sense of "successor."

Each priest at Mass is re-creating the scene at the Last Supper, of Jesus offering the first Holy Communion and saying, this is My body. But in no sense is that any sort of equality with Christ. Have you ever read any works or articles by Catholic apologists such as myself, or Vatican II, etc.? This is why the Bible says, "let not many teach." You (and I, and all of us to some extent) will stand accountable for false teachings.

1) The symbolic equation of Christ and His disciples (even all of mankind) is a most biblical concept:

2) Also, the disciples speak and act in Jesus' name (the very name Christian implies that): Mk 10:39,41, Lk 10:17-20, Jn 14:13-14, 16:23-24, Acts 4:10,18, 5:28,40-41, 9:15, 1 Cor 1:10, 2 Thess 3:6, many more).

3) Furthermore, the disciples were given the power to bind and loose in Jesus' name (impose penance and offer absolution of sins, from God): Mt 16:19, 18:18, Jn 20:23. This is the priestly function.

4) In Scripture there is often taught a mystical (but almost literal) identification of the Body of Christ (the Church: 1 Cor 12:27, Eph 1:22-23, 5:30, Col 1:24) with Christ Himself. Jesus equated Paul's persecution of the Church with persecution of Him (Acts 9:5; cf. 8:1,3, 9:1-2). This is incarnational theology, and poorly understood by many evangelicals.

5) The prophets spoke in God's name, in the first person (read the prophetic books of the OT for numberless examples). This might appear to an outsider as an equation with God, but as we all know, they were merely speaking for God.

6) The same would hold for the NT writers in certain instances. If men can write God's own "God-breathed" words, then certainly they can speak for God, not as directly (in the case of the pope), but as His representative. The President's press secretary is not the President, but he speaks for him. Papal legates speak for popes. Ambassadors speak for the countries they represent. Again, context is crucial.

7) Note that in Scripture the Angel of the Lord is oftentimes seemingly equated with God Himself (e.g., Gen 16:7 ff., 21:17 ff., 22:11 ff., 31:13, Ex 3:2, Judges 6:11 ff., Zech 3:1-2). Yet in other passages, the Angel of the Lord is distinguished from God (2 Sam 24:16, Zech 1:12-13). So this is a clear example of a creature being described as "God," yet we know that it is not God, from other passages. So, either this is a contradiction, and the Bible contradicts itself, or the equation is only symbolic and representative. Since I have shown that Pope Leo XIII clearly distinguishes himself from God, his strong language at one point can only logically be interpreted as symbolic and representative - which is totally in accord with Scripture, as I have just demonstrated.

8) What about this verse?:

{2 Peter 1:3-4; KJV; same clause in RSV / NKJV / ASB / NASB / Wuest; cf. Jn 14:20-23, 17:21-23}

9) Note also the following cross-exegesis (from RSV):

{see also Jn 14:17,20-23, 17:21-23, 1 Cor 3:16, 2 Tim 1:14, 1 Jn 4:12,15-16}

The Greek word for "fulness" in all instances is pleroma (Strong's word #4138). These references also suggest the notion (prominent in Eastern Orthodoxy) of theosis, or deification. It does not at all imply equality with God, but rather, a participation in His energies and power, through the Holy Spirit.

All quite biblical (and much of it ignored by Protestants).

This sounds fishy. I would have to see the context of this, and get the documentation. I suspect the pope was quoting Jesus, and it has been distorted for anti-Catholic purposes. Whatever it means (i.e., if it is true at all), Pope Pius IX would not identify himself with Christ. Popes don't even claim to be speaking directly from God - almost inspired - as people like Luther and Calvin do. Infallibility is merely a "negative" protection - from committing error when proclaiming a truth as binding upon all the faithful.

[see my Biblical Treatise on The Papacy & Infallibility]

I have presented two quotations already from Romanist sources which demonstrate quite plainly that the pope is considered to be another Christ.

Hardly, and you didn't give me the complete "Romanist" source (i.e., author, publisher, etc.), so that might perhaps make you a "rumorist."

You have chosen to ignore my arguments. So be it.

You have to make an argument in order for me to ignore it . . .

Lets look at some more claims of the pope and compare them with scripture:

Now the temple of God today is his church.

No pope ever said he was God Almighty. This is an insult to everyone's intelligence. I have explained above how God intended for men to represent Him. That doesn't mean they replace Him, or attain equality with Him. Your posts (wherever they are from) are just anti-Catholic twisting of the facts, no doubt, as is always shown when these attempts are examined closely.

A church does not have an altar, by definition a place were sacrifices are performed - but a temple does.

Why, then, is there an altar in heaven (Rev 6:9, 8:3,5, 9:13, 11:1, 14:18, 16:7) if the need for all altars was abolished after the death of Jesus?

RESPONSE (to the latter quote) from Lee Cena:

This must be understood from a Catholic perspective, that is, when the bishop of Rome is speaking as the Pope, it is not the man's personal statements that are being declared, but the will of God through the office of the bishop. Hence, it can be said that it is not Karol Wojtyla, but Pope John Paul II who excommunicates or whatever. The final statement clinches the understanding: the Pope is not in the office of a high-exalted man, but in an office which Christ (God) would occupy were He physically present as a man. Christ is the true God and it is rightly His seat which is occupied, first by Peter, then by the successors of Peter.

RESPONSE from Martin Beckman:

First off, the Fifth Lateran Council was held in 1512-17 A.D. (not 1618) at Pope Julius II's request. Your cut and paste from your tract was incorrect. Nothing in council documents even approaches this type of language. It's a bogus quote from everything that I can tell. As close as it gets is when Pope Leo from the this council makes this statement:

http://abbey.apana.org.au/Councils/ecum18.htm

After he is elected pope, the pope is enthroned in a ceremony known as Adoration. The following is taken from the Book of Sacred Ceremonies (Ceremoniale Romanum), compiled by Marcellus and dedicated to Leo X.

RESPONSE from Lee Cena:

It is clear in reading this that the person relating this data is 1) adding his opinions in parentheses as though they are truths, but does not offer his evidences of these conclusions; 2) he speaks to these situations out of the context of Catholic understanding---a common Protestant tendency; 3) he does not understand that the "Te Deum" is not offered to the Pope himself, but is a praise song---showing that there is no understanding of liturgical realities; 4) shows an ignorance of scripture with regard to sacrifices, altars (see Rev. 8 and how there are altars in worship in heaven), or mediation.

I would ask him to produce the entire documents, or to give the hyperlink where they can be found. Without working on equal ground, his concerns cannot be addressed. If he really wants an answer, he will have no problem supplying his quotes in total. His quotes also concern me because it would indeed be curious that none of the Protestants of more repute do not use these same quotations against the notions of papal realities. Nor do the Orthodox cite these statements, which would certainly help their case with regard to the bishop of Rome.

When the pope pronounces, sitting in the seat which is over the altar, he is said to be 'infallible'. He claims to be God. This is what is meant by ex cathedra - 'out of the chair/seat'.

When the pope claims to be Vicar of Christ, he is not just claiming to be Christ's representative on earth (a role actually fulfilled by the Holy Ghost), he is claming TO BE CHRIST, i.e. ANOTHER CHRIST!

RESPONSE from Martin Beckman:

Another bogus quote ..... (see http://abbey.apana.org.au/Councils/ecum20.htm). Nothing even close to this is to be found in Vatican I documents.

RESPONSE from Ian Rutherford:

One interesting point about Vatican I: The sessions took place on 12/8/1869, 1/6/1870, 4/24/1870 and 7/18/1870. There wasn't a meeting on January 9th. The session on the sixth was a profession of faith by Pope Pius basically repeating the Nicene Creed and stating that he accepted all Catholic teaching. In fact, he states that he will defend the faith with the help of God. The document from the next session, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, begins with:

Doesn't sound like he thinks he is God to me.

[Note: this will be extensively examined and commented upon later on]

Note that the pope has accepted the position which Jesus Christ rejected when he was offered it by Satan.

And his response to Pilate:

Much more could be quoted in support of this, but this should be more than sufficient to make the point.

Further, one of the titles of the pope is, Universal Apostle (also sometimes universal or ecumenical bishop). Now hear Pope Gregory I (AD 590-664):

This is an old, tired, and fallacious argument, often used by the Orthodox as well. It so happens I have already dealt with it: Pope Gregory the Great & the Universal Papacy.

And to the Patriarch of Antioch he writes that this title is "PROFANE, SUPERSTITIOUS, HAUGHTY, AND INVENTED BY THE FIRST APOSTATE." (Epistola 7:27).

This is explained in the above paper.

Instead of casting aspersions, provide some evidence.

I gave plenty of Scripture, but you ignored that. Even if you tackle it later, it is quite rude to preach your venomous anti-Catholic rhetoric first, and claim you will get to my material later.

It is a mark of bigotry to rubbish statements without providing any evidence.

Your (undocumented) citations from Hislop, Chick et al, are certainly not "evidence." They derive from hostile sources with an ax to grind, who have long since been refuted on factual grounds - and not only by Catholics: by others who are interested in truth and accurate critiques and scholarship.

The biblical standard is "at the mouth of two, or at the mouth of three witnesses" - you have provided NONE. I have provided many to support the claim that the pope claims to BE Christ on earth, not simply represent him. You have as yet refuted none of it.

I have, from Scripture, shown the sense in which this metaphorical expression is to be understood, but - generally speaking - I don't waste time on ludicrous and ridiculous charges, just as I wouldn't spend my time arguing with a man in a lunatic asylum who says the moon is made of green cheese, or that he is Jesus, or that he is perfectly sane. One has to draw the line somewhere . . .

The popes claim to BE Christ - throughout the ages!!! I have quoted much evidence to show that the pope is not simply acting as a representative of Christ, but IS Christ.

Then certainly you could document it from authoritative documents such as Vatican II or Trent, if this ridiculous charge were true. Instead, you rely on undocumented obscure incidents derived from pseudo-scholars or outright buffoons like Hislop and Chick. This is beneath contempt!!!! And perhaps good will come from this as the many others on the list [and now at my website] who are conscientious, thoughtful Christians and who despise lies wherever they are directed, will now see your attempts for what they are.

The truth being that the pope claims to BE Christ - a truth that has to be hidden if Rome is wanting fellowship with Protestants - something which she totally forbade until she judged the climate to be right for it to occur without danger to herself. I still remember pre-Vatican II Rome!

Oh, I see, so this answers my last question; these things aren't proclaimed openly, but are held in secret . . . now we are in the nutty world of conspiracy theory. Do you believe that the Jesuits assassinated Lincoln, too (and JFK), or perhaps that the Vatican is in cahoots with the Jewish world bankers, or the Illuminati, or the Masons, or the Council on Foreign Relations? Or all of the above? Maybe the Catholic Church will orchestrate the Y2K fiasco in order to bring in the Antichrist . . . I better get out soon!!!!!!! Thanks for enlightening me!

Now Christ's priesthood is another subject. Each priest is NOT re-creating the scene at the Last Supper. He is participating in a blasphemous and idolatrous act - pretending that he has the power to create Christ in a piece of bread at his command.

That takes out Luther, then. Do you say he was a heretic, and probably went to hell?

I have a rather revealing book . . . .

I bet you do!!!!! . . .

. . . including sections how Romanists priests view and celebrate the mass. It is called Frock Off, and is written by an ex-Romanist priest. It does not display Romanists priests in a favourable light AT ALL!

Yeah, lemme guess: did they conduct Satanic masses, engage in intercourse with witches (or maybe demons), and boil frog guts in large black kettles?

I know that ROMANISM/PAPISM/POPERY has many faces, depending on who she is dealing with. The difficulty is stripping away the facade to find what she truly believes and practices.

I can see now how this is a very convenient theory and tactic for you. I hope that most thoughtful Christians can see through this. If not, I fear for you when you stand before God and have to give account for all your lying.

Romanism is deceitful in the extreme. [Name] has already told us that although he was 25 years in Romanism and studied for the priesthood, he does not recognise the face which I have been putting on display. That is only evidence of Rome's duplicity.

Of course! It could never be evidence that you might be mistaken, now could it? But note that I will only accuse you of being ignorant and emotionally hostile. I won't stoop to the level of accusing you of deliberate and conscious slander, as you quickly do with regard to my Church (and probably me, too by this point, I would guess). I think you really believe your own lies, and that you are profoundly ignorant of my Church. Only God knows how many years you have been cultivating your little anti-Catholic world of thought. It becomes an obsession with many people, just as all conspiracy theories and mass propaganda do.

It has already been pointed out on this list by someone who has personal experience of it the Rome is syncretistic.

Well, what further proof is required, then? If one former (probably disgruntled) Catholic on this list claimed something, who am I to argue?

In fact, I have evidence that the papacy is engaged if talks in Israel which could ultimately result in the complete Vatican moving to Jerusalm and the Pope being declared the head of ALL the world's religions. How's that for duplicity?

YES!!!!!!! Proof that we are in league with the Jewish bankers!!!!!!!! Funny, though, that many Jews continue the slander that Pope Pius XII forsook the Jews during the Nazi Holocaust, when in fact he is responsible for saving 850,000 - more than any other country or organization. But I guess that is just another aspect of the clever diabolical deception, huh Paul?

The Vicar of Christ the head of ALL religions? But Christ says that HE is THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. You may laugh and mock, but it is happening!!

I do laugh - at your fathomless incredulity and manifest folly.

I fear that you are ignorant of the true nature of what you are involved with. And if you are not, and knowingly a part of this great harlot, so much the worse.

Which do you believe now, after this post?

I have attempted to discuss the issues with many Romanists, from ordinary members through priests, bishops and "a scholar". The discussion has generally been terminated by them - if not ignored entirely - at a relatively early stage.

I can surely understand why . . .

Another Protestant on the list (not nearly as anti-Catholic) wrote:

When you say "I've dealt with this", I'd appreciate it if you would summarise your argument/position and then give the website with the argument on.

I have dealt with it in a general sense (on this list) by citing Scripture to the effect that there is often a symbolic equation between Christ and His followers. No one takes these verses as defying the transcendence of God or raising people to the Godhead. Only anti-Catholics are foolish enough to claim that with regard to the papacy. My argument is that this is the sense which was intended by the pope. No reputable historian can be found who would assert that the popes have claimed to be God. This claim is intellectual suicide, on a par with the flat earth, in my opinion.

If any of these quotes of Paul,s are accurate, this makes the papacy in the past, and the papacy in the present unless it has repented of these comments, guilty of serious sin. You have dealt with one of them: it remains to deal with the rest. If they're twisted, please say how. In particular, the quote of Pope Nicholas has a reference to look up, and is not only seriously blasphemous but extremely explicit in being so.

I have questioned the sources. I don't trust anti-Catholics at all to produce accurate citations where Catholicism is concerned. I have observed countless instances of their dishonest "scholarship" (and it is copiously documented on my website, on my Heresies page), just as some here seem to think they have seen countless examples of Catholic heresy and departure from the Bible. We are all entitled to our opinions. So I asked for the documentation, and so far I have received nothing but an acknowledgement of the use of Hislop, Boettner, and Chick - some of the very worst and most untrustworthy anti-Catholics.

Please don't just give a blanket treatment like "these are all twisted/misquoted/made up" but give individual refutations. And if you need time to find out, or if you want to give us references of sites to look at, then that's fine, But please, if you do, give us a quick refutation, if you have one.

I already gave my "quick refutation," with the Scriptures in which God and His followers are symbolically equated. I will forward Paul's two posts to my mailing list of 68 or so Catholic apologists, and see what they send back, then forward it to the list. Some specialize in refuting anti-Catholic nonsense and absurdities and slanders. We need groups to refute the ridiculous and outrageous lies of anti-Semites and the Ku Klux Klan too, but that doesn't mean all of us must do it. I don't have the patience myself, and I freely confess that.

For goodness sake! Deal with the objections. What's the point of Paul producing evidence for his position if you ignore it?

Like I said, I am sending it off to people who specialize in the fringe elements of anti-Catholic rhetoric. You yourself said it would be fine if I did that.

Catholic apologist James Akin (of Catholic Answers) was the first to respond to my request:

I've encountered the "pope as God" quotes for years (they appear, for example, in the Ankerberg-Martin-Pacwa debates). The person you have tapped into is a least making an attempt to provide sources for them (or most of them), which is more than the others who have used them have done.

Because of this, I'd be willing to use my resources to run down the proposed sources, but I need a little more information. In particular, I need to know where he is getting these from. He is obviously quoting from somewhere (I'm sure he doesn't think God is feeding all this into his head by divine inspiration), and I need to know where that is so that I can look at the text myself and try to pick out any additional source - clues that he omits in his letter to you.

I'd suggest that you insist on knowing what he is quoting from and then get back to me with the info. I will then tap my research library sources for help in running down some of the more obscure quotes.

Here is an example of what I turned up in a few minutes of research on one of the easier quotes:

"We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty", Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical, The Union of Christendom (1885)."

No such encyclical exists. No title similar to The Union of Christendom is found among Leo XIII's works of any year, and in the year 1885, only two works are found, one titled On Christian Education and the other titled On the Christian Constitution of States. The closest title found in any year is his encyclical On Religious Union (1891), but electronic searches of the text on the words "we," "hold," "place," "earth," "God," and "Almighty" turn up no parallels to the given quote. Nothing even remotely similar is found (for those who wish to examine the text firsthand, it is available at http://www.ewtn.com/library/ENCYC/L13RELUN.TXT). Searches on the same terms in the other two documents (http://www.ewtn.com/library/ENCYC/L13EDU.TXT and http://www.ewtn.com/library/ENCYC/L13STA.TXT) also turned up no even remotely similar matches. Indeed, the latter stresses (section 3) that "God alone is the true and supreme Lord of the world" and (section 6) "we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will." Consequently, this appears to be a totally fake quote and does not represent even a distortion or partial quote of anything actually said.

[Note: Some of the above information was later shown to be inaccurate, so that further below I had to explain why I thought James Akin had committed a fairly significant error of fact. The validity of the overall Catholic argument was not affected, however, as - by all indications - it was an innocent and honest mistake on James' part. In fact, in the resultant attacks against James' credibility, I believe that my Protestant friend dug himself and his position even deeper into a hole (becoming more conspiratorial), which pit (in my opinion) he never escaped from - see the later material which returns to this point]

Let me know where he's getting the quotes in general from, and I should be able to run down the others (or most of them) as well.

[Only one secondary source was ever provided in the entire debate (and two other names mentioned); no primary sources - see below]

James Akin's knowledge of Leo XIII's encyclicals is incomplete. He actually wrote THREE in the closing months of 1885.

Here they are, with links:

On the Christian Constitution of States, 1 November 1885

http://abbey.apana.org.au/official/papal/Leo13/L13sta.Htm

On Christian Education, 27 November 1885

http://abbey.apana.org.au/official/papal/Leo13/L13edu.Htm

Proclaiming an Extraordinary Jubilee, 22 December 1885

http://abbey.apana.org.au/official/papal/Leo13/L13jub.Htm

Another reply, from Catholic apologist Lee Cena:

It is important to relate that Ignatius of Antioch (a disciple of Peter and possibly John) states that we should treat the bishop as we treat Christ (of course without believing them to be Christ Himself). I believe that many of the statements are taken out of context AND misinterpreted as a Protestant misinterprets things such as persona Christi and Vicar of Christ without knowledge of the Latin route in the latter, "vicarius."

I was unable to find many of the quotes that this person is using. While I don't doubt that these are accurate quotes, I do doubt their sincerity and how they are being used. On several of the quotations it is obvious that the person using them does not have a Catholic perspective on their understanding; rather he is imposing his own Protestant view on the documents and then arguing from that perspective.

Sorry about being unable to produce data, but I think that these should be able to be dealt with by a simple explanation of how Catholics use terminology and understand it. I also would insist that this person provide full context of his quotations, as it seems more likely that he is reading someone else's quotes of quotes.

Catholic apologist Martin Beckman:

I've run across these quotes before. For the most part, they are bogus quotes. I'll address the ones in which there are online sources for actual text to check. I think it's sad these bogus quotes continue to circulate. It's reminiscent of Dave Hunt garbage.

Catholic apologist Ian Rutherford:

The anti-Catholic guy has done a wonderful job of taking things out of context. Ask him if he can find claims that the Pope is God in any OFFICIAL documents of the Church. Papal pronouncements and comments from bishops don't count (thank goodness).

[Note: I cut and pasted direct refutations from these three apologists above, in the appropriate locations]

An ecumenical Protestant from the list wrote:

Well done Dave; you have conducted an excellent and intelligent debate without recourse to propaganda and rumour. I have been greatly impressed. Once Paul's bogus citations were discredited, he obviously took flight [Paul left the list for a time at this point of the debate, but returned], which is a pity since I am sure that on other areas outside of Catholicism he would prove to be a good and interesting contributor. His difficulty with Catholicism is that he just cannot distance himself to look objectively enough at the issues. I still strongly believe that his problem is indeed a personal one far and above being a theological one.

Actually, I left because the volume of messages was becoming too much to cope with and I got the impression that my contributions were not being appreciated anyway - "a waste of bandwidth", to quote a later post.

As regards the so-called bogus quotes, as you will see from another post, there has been a move around for decades to 'sanitize' records on things which Rome does not want the world to know about. I have a sneaking suspicion that that is what has been happening here.

However, if you can get a copy of The Papacy is the Antichrist by Dr J A Wylie, a respected Scottish theologian and historian of last century, you should find most of them.

[This is the only further documentation of his many quotes which Paul has provided, as of this date, besides passing (non-specific) references to Boettner and Zacchello immediately below. If he wishes to supply the needed documentation at some point, I will be glad to enter them into this debate]

Præclara Gratulationis Publicæ, ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON THE REUNION OF CHRISTENDOM JUNE 20, 1894 (Not 1885 as quoted by Boettner - I should have followed Joseph Zacchello's date - I just kept it in reserve!?!)

Here is a longer quote:

What of your scholars now, Dave? How is that they could not find any such encyclical? Is their scholarship lacking? Or are they just being deceitful?

And why is this encyclical missing from the list at apana.org?

The whole encyclical can be read at:

http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/l13-pgp.htm

But I notice that PRAECLARA GRATULATIONIS PUBLICAE - --> THE REUNION OF CHRISTENDOM is missing from this site --> as well. Strange, strange!!!

I notice logic (and often, legitimate documentation) is missing from Paul's quixotic anti-Catholic posts. Strange, strange!!!

The ecumenical Protestant moderator of the list wrote:

Hmmmm. Interesting. I didn't fully notice that when I was looking- although I did see the other encyclicals you mentioned, Paul (e.g.- On Christian Education). While I'm not one to espouse conspiracy theories, I believe it could be 'missing' because of the current trend of ecumenism and to have this document referred to would present a view less appealing to non-RCC followers of Christ. I will try the alternate link again.

This encyclical is mentioned in Gregory Baum's The Catholic Quest for Christian Unity, Glen Rock, NJ: Paulist Press, 1962 (p. 37):

Why would this encyclical be suppressed if it is in fact, a notable milestone in the 100-year-old trend towards ecumenism?

See my paper: Pre-Vatican II Ecumenism.

Also, of related interest:

{From Two Centuries of Ecumenism: The Search for Unity, George H. Tavard, NY: Mentor-Omega, 1960, pp. 68-71} <-----a Catholic book

On the flip side, the New Advent site DOES say that it is still under construction and still adding new material. Per my understanding, the New Catholic Encylopedia (which is online) doesn't even have all the articles up yet (but it does have most of them up!). I believe that this is more likely the case.

This is correct. Would that people here would more readily exercise benefit of the doubt. This fact is obvious on the site. It states clearly that a need exists for volunteers to scan additional materials. Someone can't find something, so . . . "gee! it must be a conspiracy of the Catholics (probably those sinister Jesuits again) to hide their skeletons!"

Dave: Any chance you can locate a list o' encyclicals for that year in print? I'm about 20 minutes from Loyola College and still remember the campus, so if it would also be in the library there, I can check as well.

I have the book The Great Encyclicals of Leo XIII (NY: Benziger Bros., 1903). The encyclical in question is reproduced in all its glory, pp. 303-319. Its date is June 20, 1894 (Paul's initial claim - derived from Boettner - was for 1885). As for the ridiculous claim made about the "controversial" quote (which appears to be genuine), I already answered that in my initial post (i.e., how to interpret it); so did at least one of my friends, if I recall correctly. But since when has evidence and rational argument ever swayed an emotional anti-Catholic?

Please note the IMPORTANCE of this encyclical - "This was the FIRST papal document dedicated to ecumenism." And yet, David and his scholars denied its existence until it was forced upon them.

The lies and sheer nonsense continue. I didn't deny anything! Our gripe was with the fact that there was a supposed encyclical The Union of Christendom in 1885 (dates are an essential aspect of accurate documentation, in case Paul is unaware of that). It turned out to be The Reunion of Christendom, dated June 20, 1894. Perhaps the Latin can be translated either "union" or "reunion." I won't make an issue of that.

Another anti-Catholic friend of Paul's, Matthew Bell, wrote:

The above is simply not true as the following quote posted by David Armstrong on behalf of James Akin, will show:

We now know that an encyclical with a title similar to, The Union of Christendom, is found among Leo XIII's works, dated 1894.

The wrong date being initially given is irrelevant as Akin's claim was that no such work is found in ANY YEAR, hence the above statement by David that such is the issue is both false and contradictory of his own scholar whom he considers 'is one of the most able Catholic apologists in the country'.

The encyclical is not online yet, as far as I could tell, using a mega-search engine (except for one anti-Catholic website which I ran across), and so was in all likelihood not in the database James was searching through. So he made an honest mistake. The crucial difference here is that his mistake doesn't involve tearing down and slandering some other Christian body. It was merely an omission of an encyclical (which documents number about 300). There is a world of difference between inadvertantly overlooking a document and quoting from a supposed one falsely, with wrong documentation (which error has appeared in print in a prominent, much-utilized anti-Catholic work), and that in an effort to slander and lie.

This really amazes me: all the important issues at hand and the most you and Paul can come up with is wrangling over minor, almost trivial issues where harmless mistakes were made. The cogent point is that the initial documentation was wrong, and this was proven. There is such an encyclical, and there is no conspiracy to suppress it (as I have also conclusively shown below). And I have more than adequately explained the meaning and intent of the passage in question.

You can major on the minors all you want, but the bottom line is that anti-Catholics (much like JWs and Mormons) are notorious for shoddy "scholarship," rumor-mongering, idiotic conspiracy theories, and slander. Even someone like James White freely admits that (which is precisely why he hates being called an anti-Catholic). Why don't you use your keen mind for a critique against Paul's use of the charlatans Maria Monk and Alberto Rivera? Have you no shame, or self-respect? Have you no concern for flat-out lying and slander, even if directed against the Church you so hate?

But if I were in denial about anything, obviously I wouldn't have volunteered information about this encyclical, and admitted that the particular quote in question was genuine (i.e., once I saw it myself in a primary Catholic document). Or does that mean I am a double agent? Conspiracy theorists can always explain away any action or stated opinion in accord with their silly, unsubstantiated theories.

Here are their words:

This remains true, as I explained above (and I gave much biblical precedent for this sense - all ignored by conspiratorialist Paul thus far; below, I add a few more tidbits).

And note, everyone, that Paul has yet to produce a single reputable historian, contra my assertion. As typical of anti-Catholic conspiratorial polemicists, Paul feels perfectly comfortable with ignoring so many of my challenges, and simply continuing his ranting, as if I had never written what I did. Meanwhile, I am taking my time on this beautiful Saturday morning doing the laborious work of refutation of his claims, which are ridiculous and unworthy of response in the first place (I only do it so others here can learn about the nature and invalidity of run-of-the-mill anti-Catholic "argumentation").

Even when Paul cites my words "against" me, he sees only what he wants to see, and ignores other relevant points, as is fully in evidence here. Thus, he continues to make himself look foolish and ridiculous.

Thus by a convenient use of "snip" Paul manages to relieve himself of his burden of explaining all the other quotes from Councils, etc. He continues to refuse to document all of his citations. He did mention one book (a secondary anti-Catholic source), but without page numbers, despite the call of the list moderator for full documentation of citations.

The citation as a whole (i.e., in its complete accuracy) remains "bogus" because the title and date were wrong. Paul has refused to reveal the sources of all his other quotes. James' search was based on looking for encyclicals for the year 1885, which was the alleged year of this citation. He was willing to research the others if only Paul would give us the full documentation (which he never produced). The encyclical in question was in all likelihood not in the database James Akin was searching (uh-oh; we gotta smell a rat there!!!!!!). Catholics don't memorize every single encyclical that comes out (in this instance, one 104 years old). I certainly don't. Most of my research is in the Bible - as is fully evidenced in this current post. :-) I don't believe all of Luther's works are online yet, either. So if I cited a text from Luther, and Paul went to do a word search, or use a search engine and couldn't find it, would that prove that a Protestant conspiracy was underfoot to conceal Luther's utterances?

[PAUL: Let us all take note of the "scholarship" of Romanist scholars and apologists. Is it ignorance?? Or is it deceit?? "Bearing false witness?"]

What is your claim about me, Paul? I say you are grossly ignorant about Catholicism and that you bear false witness against my Church (and against me, personally, as I have demonstrated in this post). I don't make the claim that you are being deliberately deceitful, or that you are insincere in your anti-Catholicism.

Only Lee Cena appears to know Romanism and is honest enough to admit:

Give David a millimeter of an excuse and he will make a kilometer out of it!!! The fact is that at least THREE (see below) Romanist sites which have papal encyclicals, particularly those of Leo XIII, DO NOT have PRAECLARA GRATULATIONIS PUBLICAE. WHY NOT???

PROBABLY BECAUSE THEY DON'T CLAIM TO BE EXHAUSTIVE RESOURCES. NO NEED TO YELL! LOLOLOL

The link 'Documents of the Roman Catholic Church' leads to:

http://listserv.american.edu/catholic/church/church.html

where 'Encyclicals and Other Papal Documents' leads to:

http://listserv.american.edu/catholic/church/papal/leo.xiii/leo.xiii.html

ONCE AGAIN, the encyclical is MISSING. This is the THIRD site which does not have it. Even stranger!!!!

The others were:

http://www.knight.org/advent/docs/

http://abbey.apana.org.au/official/papal/Leo13/

Clear evidence of a deliberate conspiracy, huh Paul?

In addition, I consulted another place of Romanist scholarship (not on the net). They again told me that NO SUCH ENCYCLICAL EXISTED. They consulted their Actae Sanctae Sedis (spelling??). They told me that NO ENCYCLICAL was issued by Leo XIII on 20 June 1894 (I told them the correct date). Is this not evidence of conspiracy?

In your mind it obviously is, but if so, why is it that the two books I cited in my last post (dated 1960 and 1962) make reference to it? Both Catholic books were devoted to defending ecumenism in the Catholic Church, so if this encyclical was regarded as a stumbling-block and an embarrassment, surely they would not have mentioned it. This was my argument to [name], when he came up with the (non-conspiratorial) theory that it might be embarrassing to present-day ecumenism. I showed that - quite to the contrary - it is considered the first encyclical to deal with ecumenism directly.

Furthermore, I have discovered additional evidence of the "betrayal" of this "conspiracy" (us dumb Catholics - clever and sneaky though we are - do a lousy job of hiding things totally):

1) The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII (NY: Benziger Bros., 1903), the book I have in my own library, where I located Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Præclara Gratulationis Publicæ (The Reunion of Christendom, 20 June 1894), was reprinted in 1995 by TAN Books (Rockford, IL), a major publisher of Catholic books (many of which I use myself, such as Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Ludwig Ott, several books by Hilaire Belloc, Catholic Apologetics Today, by Fr. William Most, etc.). This can be verified by doing a search on the TAN Books website: http://www.tanbooks.com .

2) An Internet article, "History of Catholic Ecumenism," by Eric Sammons (© 1994), cites the encyclical. See http://sammons.alabanza.com/ecumenism.html .

3) Papal Encyclicals, compiled by Claudia Carlen (Wilmington, NC: McGrath, 1981, 5 volumes), includes the English language text for 280 papal encyclicals from 1740 to 1981. Perhaps Paul will make the claim that the encyclical under consideration is deliberately omitted, for the conspiracy's sake. I hope he does, so I can make the appropriate telephone calls and refute that . . .

4) Last but not least, Pope John Paul II obviously is in the dark about the conspiracy, since he cites Præclara Gratulationis Publicæ in the very first footnote of his encyclical Orientale Lumen (Light of the East, 2 May 1995). Furthermore, he includes a reference for this encyclical in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, which reproduces the Latin texts of encyclicals (vol. 14, pp. 195-214), and verifies the date (20 June 1894). Paul above insinuated that the encyclical couldn't be found in this source, according to "another place of Romanist scholarship" (as is a bad habit of his, Paul omits the name, so we can't find out who made this boo-boo - but Paul apparently trusts any source who verifies his own anti-Catholic opinion on any given subject). This information can be verified at: http://www.cin.org/jp2ency/orielume.html .

Let others on the list decide whether this all adds up to a "conspiracy" or if Paul's inability to find this encyclical on three Catholic sites is sufficient proof of the alleged sinister plot of deceit and cover-up. The encyclical does not appear to be online (excepting one anti-Catholic site which reproduces it). But a lot of things aren't online - big wow! E.g., the classic and well-known book which convinced me to become a Catholic, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845; rev. 1878), by John Henry Cardinal Newman isn't online, either, even though other works of Newman are (I maintain the largest Newman website on the Internet).

[Addendum of 1 February 1999: Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Præclara Gratulationis Publicæ (The Reunion of Christendom, 20 June 1894), has now been found to be online, on a Catholic site, in fact, on one which Paul was using to illustrate that there existed a "conspiracy" to suppress its existence (http://abbey.apana.org.au/official/papal/Leo13/). That site has a section, "Papal Encyclicals Online," which is linked to from my website. Here is the direct link to the encyclical: PRAECLARA GRATULATIONIS PUBLICAE - THE REUNION OF CHRISTENDOM]

Finally David, you have called this quote of Leo XIII, "bogus", "drivel", "intellectual suicide", "an insult to everyone's intelligence".

You continue to spout absolute falsehoods even in this sentence, where you make a vain attempt to trap me by my own words (by wresting them from their context). Flat-out amazing. Again, the quote was "bogus" because it contained an incorrect title and date. Would you think much of my scholarship if I cited a work Institutions of the Calvinist Religion (1659), by John Calvin? And what if, when you asked me for documentation, I gave you an obscure 100-year-old anti-Protestant book, with no page numbers listed (as if you could easily obtain it, or had the desire to spend hours paging through such a work, in the rare chance that it was available).

As to my descriptions "intellectual suicide" and "an insult to everyone's intelligence," those were in reference to anti-Catholicism generally, specifically to the laughable, idiotic charge that popes have claimed to be God. I didn't apply that terminology to the quote under consideration!! (SIGH)

E.g., in a post of 12-10-98, I reiterated this opinion of mine:

Now that the quote has been shown to be accurate,

No, the correct document and date have been identified, and I did that, remember?

Could you please state plainly which post of yours "identified" the document. I am unaware of such a post.

"Encyclical Ecumenism" [original list title] dated 12-10-98 [see above].

Thank you, David. Now allow me to quote from my post, Date: Wed, 9 Dec 1998 16:31:48 [Please note: This is ONE DAY EARLIER than yours]. Subject: Re: Pope as God

Good for you. I had forgotten that.

So David, you have been caught out. You lied! What was that about "bearing false witness"?

Merely an oversight on my part. Please accept my apology. But if this is the best sort of "victory" you can achieve in this debate, then - all things considered - it is simply another case of obscurantism and obfuscation on your part. Will you ever get to the real issues? Or ever deal with mundane things such as the dozens of biblical passages I offered?

Going back to the quote from Leo XIII, I never made a claim that the one sentence was "bogus." In fact, my biblical evidence presented initially, and again above (in expanded form), was precisely in response to utterances along those lines. My beef all along with you was that you were interpreting wrongly. This was emphasized also by the forwarded post of Catholic apologist Lee Cena, who did not make a "textual argument," but one from how Catholics use language with reference to the pope.

So from the beginning of this pathetic thread I have made two parallel arguments: from language and from textual disputes. Both still stand, since you haven't answered the "language" argument (as bolstered by biblical analogies) in the least. In the textual vein, you have triumphantly touted this one citation of Leo XIII, but I have disproven your interpretation of it in this post. You have yet to produce full documentation for all your other quotes (many refuted by myself or fellow apologists), save for one 100-year-old secondary (and anti-Catholic) source. Since, therefore, you have made only one (now refuted) argument from one text, and ignored all the others, you have miserably failed on both counts, yet now parade your "victory" to the list, and definitively proclaim the existence of a Catholic conspiracy to hide past encyclicals. Is this not deliciously ironic and humorous? Ignorance masquerading as decisive knowledge?

do you see how you have condemned Romanism and its popes out of your own mouth?

No, but I have certainly condemned anti-Catholicism, lying, slander, know-nothingism, and bigotry (in any form) out of my own mouth, and will continue to do so boldly and without fear.

You have effectively called Romanism "bogus", "drivel", "intellectual suicide", "an insult to everyone's intelligence".

Only an anti-Catholic could twist one's condemnation against anti-Catholicism, and claim that it was made - in effect - towards "Romanism."

"We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty", Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical, The Union of Christendom (1885).

Alright, let's look at this (I've already noted the incorrect source given), since Paul seems to think he has hit a grand slam here. On the page before this quote, the pope states:

The "Mansbacher version" (granting Paul's claims for the divinity of the pope) should read as follows:

How can God get old anyway? And He doesn't have to help Himself to get old! God is eternal; He just is!

Now let's look at the quote in its context (wouldn't that be nice for a change?). To be fair, Paul did eventually cite it at length (at first he did not), but he failed to see that the longer quote is a disproof of his interpretation of it, as I will now demonstrate:

And now I shall comment, assuming for the sake of argument that the pope has claimed to be identical with, or equal to God, as Paul claims:

Note the word "who". This proves that Pope Leo XIII was indeed speaking as a representative of God, not as God Himself. The "who" shows that God is other than Leo (as already evidenced by the phrase "the place of"). If he was claiming to be God, he would have said (using proper grammar) ". . . God Almighty, and I would have all men to be saved . . . " Let's draw a parallel to nail down this point:

"But since we hold in this company the place of the supervisor [i.e., in the supervisor's absence], who will have all workers to be productive and to increase the output of the company . . ."

The "who" clearly refers to the absent supervisor, rather than the assistant. Likewise with Leo and God.

God can't get old. Or does Paul claim that Leo thought he was a second incarnation of Jesus, and had two natures, like Jesus did, so that he could get old?

God isn't mortal, either. Pope Leo did live another nine years, though. :-)

If Leo thought He was God, how could he think Jesus was his "redeemer" and "Master"? How could God redeem Himself?

The encyclical ends:

God is separate from Leo, and He is the one Who grants "wishes and desires."

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Edited and compiled (from public list posts) by Dave Armstrong: 1 January 1999.