Blog Repost: Dintinguishing the differences between Heresy, Schismatic, and a Parasynagogue

In a letter to his spiritual child Amphilochios of Iconium written c. 373 A.D, St. Basil the Great distinguishes three ways in which there can take place a separation of a baptised person from the communion of the Catholic Church. These three ways affecting Christian unity were said to be heresy, schism and parasynagogue, depending on whether a disagreement fell on actual faith in God, on church discipline or on ecclesiastical rulings.

(1) Heresy. From the writings of St.Basil we find that from antiquity heretics were considered to be people

“who were altogether broken off [παντελώς απερρηγμένους] and alienated [απηλλοτριωμένους] in matters relating to faith.”
Heresy is a disagreement (διαφορά), a discrepancy on vital issues of faith and culminates in the negation of the unity of God and the Church. As causes of separation (χωρισμός; αλλοτρίωσις) St. Basil mentions pride and arrogance (μεγαλοφροσύνη) originating in the human faculty of free choice (προαίρεσις).

Because it was an act of deliberate choice, heresy was not tolerated in the church. Its authors were cautioned first; then if they refused to obey, they were excommunicated from the church.

(2) Schism. The Fathers of the Church defined schism (σχίσμα) as a disagreement (διαφορά) among church members concerning ecclesiastical questions capable of mutual solution. Often (but not always) these disagreements were not of such a serious nature as to warrant a lasting feud among members of church communities.

(3) Parasynagogue. “Rival” or “counter-assemblies” were called “gatherings set up by insubordinate priests or bishops and by uninstructed people”. On this St. Basil says:

“If someone (deacon, priest or bishop) has been found in error (πταίσματι: ‘fault,’ ‘sin’)and has been asked to cease from liturgical functions but has not submitted to the canons of the Church but instead has granted to himself priestly functions and some persons abandon the Church and join him, this is parasynagogue”.

In describing the impropriety of those who originate rival assemblies St. Basil uses the term ανυπότακτος, the opposite of ευταξία, the good order and discipline of the church. Each parasynagogue or constitution of a rival assembly implies the breach of ecclesiastical unity resulting in exclusion from the Eucharistic Communion of the Church. (i.e One cuts themselves off from the communion of the Church).

Canon 5 of the Council of Nicaea (324A.D) speaks of breaches of church unity caused by unruly clergy. According to the canon the end result for the unruly clergy is ακοινώνητος γίνομαι, “to become excommunicated”. The cleric becomes excommunicated, not necessarily in the juridical term, but in the sense that unless he repents he can no longer receive Holy Communion in the Church in which alone abides the Holy Spirit.

 

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Most Rev. John Adel Elya, former eparch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Newton, hammers false ecumenism.

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As a Melkite Greek Catholic, it’s not uncommon to witness many traits of false ecumenism within our church. You may have come across many Melkites in whom are very pro – Eastern Orthodox to the point that they begin to reject Catholic doctrine and dogma: something in which is absolutely grave matter considering that Catholics are bound to accept everything the Church teaches.

The rejection of Catholic doctrine and dogma comes from false ecumenism in order to please those outside the Church. However, the Eastern Catholic code of canon law opposes this.

“In fulfilling ecumenical work especially through open and frank dialogue and common undertaking with other Christians, due prudence has to be kept avoiding the dangers of false irenicism, indifferentism, & immoderate zeal.” (Canon 905, Eastern Catholic Canon Law.)

To put it in simple terms, this canon is opposing the idea that there must not be a ultimate goal to promote union under the umbrella of the one true Church of Christ; that being the Catholic Church. With that being said, many have unfortunately rejected this mission and have given into error by refusing to recant their errors in order to promote false unity with our schismatic brothers and sisters in the orthodox communions.

Ironically, The Most Rev. John Adel Elya, former eparch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Newton, addresses a lot of claims of false ecumenism in which are commonly stated by clerics and laymen of our church. Within his Q&A sessions on the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, he addresses the following claims in which I have heard personally:

First claim: We are the Orthodox Church in communion with Rome!” 

Objection: “When the Patriarchate of Antioch was divided into two branches in 1724, one branch kept the name Orthodox and the other branch which sealed its union with the Holy See of Rome, kept the name Melkite given to it since the Sixth Century and called itself Catholic. It became known as the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. In the Middle East, although both branches claim orthodoxy as well as catholicity, however being Catholic means not Orthodox and being Orthodox means not Catholic.

To be a Catholic Christian means that one accepts the primacy of the Pope of Rome, because he is the successor of St. Peter. To be an Orthodox Christian means that one does not recognize the primacy of the Pope of Rome, but considers him as “first among equals.”

According to the Catholic teaching, Christ did not create a church with five heads of equal importance. He established One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church whose invisible head is the Lord, but whose visible head is the Pope of Rome.

The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches states it in these terms: “The bishop of the Church of Rome, in whom resides the office (munus) given in a special way by the Lord to Peter, first of the Apostles and to be transmitted to his successors, is head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the entire Church on earth; therefore in virtue of his office (munus) he enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise.” (Canon 43 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches) If an Orthodox subscribes to the Canon quoted above, he/she can be called Catholic and be considered “united to Rome” or in full communion with the Catholic Church.”

(source: https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-john/are-we-orthodox-united-with-rome)

 

Claim 2: The encyclicals from the Pope of Rome is not binding upon the Catholic East.

Objection: “When we declared our union with Rome – in consistency with Apostolic tradition interrupted somehow by historical circumstances – we accepted the Catholic faith in its entirety.

We do recognize the authority of the Pope of Rome, including universal jurisdiction and infallibility for whatever concerns faith and morals. It is true that the Western Theologians themselves have their own debates concerning these points; so we should not be “more papist that the Pope;”

but Catholic is Catholic and truth is truth. We cannot pose as “Orthodox united to Rome” only for what suits us. I do mean it when we pray every day, at the Divine Liturgy, for “unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit.”

There is no ‘Eastern truth’ vs ‘Western truth’. Truth is one. It may be articulated according to various cultural expressions, but truth is super-cultural. Truth should not be restricted by “party line” positions. We should accept or reject ideas for their worth and not for an artificial attachment to a given “identity.” The Church teaches truth. If something is true, it would be absurd to say “Oh, we don’t believe that in the East.”

This seems to be where we get short-circuited in ecumenical “dialogue.” All too frequently, such “dialogue” seems to presuppose a relativism where you speak “your truth” and I’ll speak “my truth” and we’ll just leave it at that. A sort of ecumenical schizophrenia.

Here are two relevant canons from OUR Eastern Catholic Church Law:
c. 597 CCEO: “The Roman Pontiff, in virtue of his office (munus), possesses infallible teaching authority if, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful who is to confirm his fellow believers in the faith, he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held.”

c. 599: :A religious obsequium of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching of faith and morals which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate when they exercise the authentic magisterium even if they do not intend to proclaim with a definitive act.; therefore the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid whatever is not in harmony with that teaching.”

Source: https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-john/how-do-the-popes-encyclicals-and-teachings-impact-on-the-melkites

 

Claim 3 : “Melkites and Eastern Catholics can participate in the services of the separated Eastern Churches

Objection: “Vatican II urged all Catholics to become more familiar with Eastern Orthodox Christians, since there is so little that separates them. The present Holy Father is most eager to work toward a reunion of the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. For us as Melkites, the issue is even more pressing, since we have common family roots – many of our families are inter-related, and we have so much in common.

You probably notice that the music and services are so very similar. By all means attend the Offices with the Antiochian Orthodox and pray with them, as well as inviting them to services in our Melkite churches. However, we do not have full Communion re-established with them yet.

At present, we refrain from receiving Communion in each other’s churches, … not because we are better than they, nor they better than us … we refrain as a recognition that both sides have to work harder toward reunion so that one day we may all intercommunicate and enjoy that unity that Christ God prayed for so fervently at His Last Supper with the Apostles, when He gave us the Divine Liturgy as a celebration of full communion with the Father and each other through Him in the Holy Spirit.”

Claim 4:  Eastern Catholics don’t have to accept the Council of Trent and the councils after the 7th ecumenical council.

Objection: “Although the Council of Trent was convened in order to meet the challenges of the Reformation in the west, the recapitulation of dogma concerning the sacraments that came from the Council has been an enriching source for the Churches of both east and west.

Indeed, you will note that many Eastern theologians have reacted in various ways to the decrees of the Council of Trent. As Catholics, we are bound to all of the decrees of the councils that have been promulgated by the Holy Father. In some instances, the decrees of the Council have direct application to the discipline of the west only. Usually this can be discerned either by the decree itself or by its logical application to the discipline of the west.”

https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-john/what-is-the-melkite-view-of-the-council-of-trent

Second Objection: Patriarch Gregory II Youssef-Sayour occupied the Melkite throne of Antioch for thirty-three years (1864-1897). At Vatican I, the Patriarch gave an impassioned plea to the assembled bishops in defense of the prerogatives of the ancient patriarchs. He said: “The Eastern Church attributes the highest and most complete power to the Pope, but in such a way that the fullness of his power is in harmony with the rights of the other Patriarchal Sees. (Mansi 52,cols. 133-137).

Patriarch Gregory finally signed the document Pastor aeternus but only after adding the phrase made famous at the earlier Council of Florence that expressed his reservations. He added: “salvis omnibus iuribus et privilegiis patriarcharum”. {saving all of the rights and privileges of the patriarchs}.

While the first seven ecumenical councils enjoy a place of prominence, especially in the East, both the Churches of the East and West have experienced local councils and synods throughout their rich histories. The early ecumenical councils met to resolve and articulate important Christological doctrines. The Melkite Church participated fully in Vatican I and Patriarch Gregory spoke clearly to his affirmation of the fullness of power enjoyed by the Petrine Office.

The Patriarch was very concerned that the exercise of papal powers be “in harmony with the rights of the other Patriarchal Sees.” The second Vatican Council is seen to have completed the unfinished business of Vatican I with its special emphasis on ecclesiology, specifically on the nature of the Church.

Recent theological speculation has developed the concept of “communion of churches” with promising results for ecumenism and rapprochement with the Orthodox. It would be a simple rekindling of the old controversy of conciliarism to suggest that some councils are less ecumenical than others.

With the promulgation of the Holy Father, the doctrinal content of the various councils is a part of the sacred magisterial teaching of the Church to which Melkites in full communion with the See of Rome give wholehearted assent.”

https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-john/what-is-the-melkite-view-of-the-post-schism-ecumenical-councils

Claim 5: the Melkite Church doesn’t hold that the Pope is infallible.

Objection:”In all cases, if we are Catholic, then we have to accept all Catholic dogmas.You are right to think that ” we are one of many Eastern autonomous Churches (self-governing) as the Ukrainians, the Ruthenians and other self-governing (sui juris) Eastern Catholic Churches. We hold that the Pope of Rome is infallible in important matters of faith and morality, when he speaks “ex cathedra”, in his position as the visible head of the Catholic Church.

We may interpret these dogmas in “Eastern” terms; however, we are not allowed to deny their truth without breaking the bond of unity with the Pope of Rome, the successor of St. Peter the Rock.

You are right also that we commemorate the Pope of Rome only once, namely at the end of the Anaphora. However, the exact mandated translation is “FIRST, Lord, remember His Holiness N. Pope of Rome, His Beatitude … etc.” Regardless of linguistic or historic pretexts, “Among the first” translation has been repeatedly prohibited by me, as Melkite Eparch, and by my predecessors. I consider persisting in using “among the first…” in our Melkite churches in America as an open defiance to legitimate authority.
I wish you continued success in your endeavors. May our Lord direct your thoughts and words to His pleasure in truth and love.”

Apologetics 1.7: Biblical evidence for the Holy Trinity

For those aware of Catholic teaching, the Catholic Church teaches that the Trinity alone is God. This means that we believe that God is one in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This does not mean that there is three gods, for that would be heresy. However, we believe in the “Holy Trinity, One being and Undivided” (Byzantine Rite).
There are many false religions that reject this very immaculate dogma; such as the Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, Hebrew Israelites, and many more. Considering that they uphold a neo Arian and Diocletian heresy, let us examine the scriptures and the Early Church fathers in regards to the Son and the Holy Spirit being Divine just like the Father.

Part 1. The Son is God!

Proof:

Titus 2, 13-15: “Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak, and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
Matthew 4, 7 – ““Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (When read in context, Jesus’ gives this response to Lucifer since he was tempting Jesus in His Humanity.)

John 1, 1 -14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (Jesus Christ is called the Word throughout scripture. This scripture speaks of Christ’s Incarnation.)

In John 3:5, Jesus makes it known that nobody can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are baptized. In Col 1:13, Saint. Paul the Apostle makes it clear that the Kingdom of God belongs to Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ were not God, wouldn’t this be a blasphemous suggestion? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit cannot error nor can He fail! For Jesus Christ is God!

Romans 9:5 “Whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed for ever. Amen.”

Titus 3: 4-6 “But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared: Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost; Whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior:”

Note: Savior is applied to God and Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ were not God, as the false religions insist, wouldn’t this be a blasphemous suggestion as well? Of course not, for as stated earlier, The Holy Spirit cannot error!

Jude 4: “For certain men are secretly entered in, (who were written of long ago unto this judgment,) ungodly men, turning the grace of our Lord God into riotousness, and denying the only sovereign Ruler, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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In John 8:58, Jesus Christ our God states: “Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.” If Jesus Christ happened to not be God, suggesting Himself to be “I am” or “Yahweh” in Hebrew would be blasphemous and idolatrous; for He would, according to Jehovah witnesses logic, be putting Himself in the place of God.

This explains why the Jews were angry at Him for calling Himself “I am” and later threw stones at Him, for they were calling Him a blasphemer for giving Himself the same title as God the Father. See Exodus 3:14.

Luke 24, 52: “And they worshiped Him”

Note: Jehovah’s Witness translation, that being the poorly translated 2013 New World translation (I call it the NWO translation considering they’re Masonic), it states: “And they did obeisance to him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” The definition of obeisance is “A gesture expressing deferential respect, such as a bow or curtsy.” (Ref: Oxford Dictionary).

This explains why their footnotes for this scripture also suggests that this scripture also means “Or “bowed down.” Evidently, they try to shy away that this scripture Bares Witness to the Divinity of Jesus Christ. The irony is that the synonym for obeisance is “worship.” Considering that they believe, just like us Catholics, that bowing to false gods are idolatry and that bowing to anybody, for that matter, is idolatrous: wouldn’t this make the disciples of Christ in this passage idolaters since bowed to Him?

Again, NO! For the Holy Spirit cannot error nor contradict Himself.
Part 2. The Divinity of the Holy Spirit.

We Catholics, we believe that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Being that He is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, this makes Him the same substance as God the Father and the Son: One God, but Three Persons undivided and completely united as one Divine Being. Thus, the Holy Spirit is also God.

Proof from scripture:

Acts 5: 3-4 “But Peter said: Ananias, why hath Satan tempted thy heart, that thou shouldst lie to the Holy Ghost, and by fraud keep part of the price of the land? Whilst it remained, did it not remain to thee? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thy heart? Thou hast not lied to men, but to God.” (Note: His Holiness Pope Peter 1 did not say that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit AND God, but to God Himself, the Holy Spirit.) He later stats in sentence 9 “Why have you agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold the feet of them who have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out.”

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Romans 8:11 “And if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Note: What other Spirit raised up Jesus Christ’s Body besides God’s? In Gal 1:1, the book of Galatians speaks of Jesus Christ being raised by the spirit of God the Father!

“Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead,”
2 Cor 3:6 speaks more of the spirit of the Lord: ” “Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious; so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather in glory?

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory. For even that which was glorious in this part was not glorified, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is in glory. Having therefore such hope, we use much confidence: And not as Moses put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel might not steadfastly look on the face of that which is made void.

But their senses were made dull. For, until this present day, the selfsame veil, in the reading of the old testament, remaineth not taken away (because in Christ it is made void). But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. But when they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

1 Peter 1:2 “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace be multiplied.” In the book of 1 Paul to the Thessalonians, this same sanctification is from the “God of Peace” “And may the God of peace himself sanctify you in all things; that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Genesis 1:2 ““And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.”

Note: The same Spirit of God that sanctifies is the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead and created the world.

Hebrews 1: 5-13 ““For to which of the angels hath he said at any time, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him. And to the angels indeed he saith: He that maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And: Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth: and the works of thy hands are the heavens. They shall perish, but thou shalt continue: and they shall all grow old as a garment. And as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the selfsame, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time: Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool?”

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(Note: This scripture refutes the heretical doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus Christ is allegedly Saint Michael the Archangel.)

Addressing False Ecumenism 1.1: The Melkite Eparchy of Newton and the denial of Ecumenical Councils


After examining the website of the Diocese of Newton for Melkites in the USA, it has been brought to our attention here at HolySynergy that the Eparchy rejects the validity of the dogmatic ecumenical councils conveyed by the Church.

This would mean that the council of Trent, the council of Florence, the five Lateran councils, and Vatican 1 etc. (prior to Vatican 2) are all fallible councils in which have no authority upon the church, something similar held within the many orthodox churches who are also in the East, that being both the Oriental and Eastern churches.

https://melkite.org/faith/religious-education/melkite-challenge-2005-set-2#GRADES%207-12

Because of the extreme ecumenism that has not only taken over the Latin Church, but the Eastern Catholic Churches as well, it is explainable why this claim would be made. Since the Melkites like to use the phrase that they are “Orthodox in communion with Rome”, it is evident that this was done to please our unfortunate schismatic brethren that are not comfortable with the councils and its dogmatic definitions, in this case papal supremacy and infallibility.

With that being said, some Eastern Catholics unfortunately even conclude that Vatican 1 was a local council only for the Latin Church since the Bishop of Rome supposedly does not have authority over the entire church, something the church condemned. (Vatican 1, chapter 3.) There is no doubt that this is a schismatic and erroneous attitude. Not only is this attitude present upon the Melkite eparchy’s website, it’s also present among modern Melkite prelates in whom make similar claims. For instance:

“In any case, valid or not, Vatican I has the same designation as the Council of Lyons, a “general” synod of the West. With this designation it is neither ecumenical nor infallible and could produce only theological opinions that can not be imposed on anyone. Besides, these theological opinions are peculiar to the circumstances of a certain historical period. And the Catholic Church itself today, with all of its bishops and theologians, would have hesitated to adopt them and especially to erect them as dogmas. ” (Ecumenical Reflections, Elias Zoghby, Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop, published by Eastern Christian Publications, 1998)

The Church has made it clear that the Ecumenical Councils of the Church must be accepted by all in order to be a faithful Christian, that being a member of the True Church. “we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical Council of Florence , which must be believed by all faithful Christians” (Vatican 1, Chapter 3.)
Frankly, these claims are against Church teaching since Peter was given the gift of infallibility in regards to proclaiming dogmatic definitions; something Vatican 1 has done when it proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility.
According to Byzantine Seminary Press:

“St. Peter is referred to as the Prince of the Apostles and the Vicar of Christ on earth, the visible Head of the Church. His original name was Simon, but in view of his future role in the Church, our Divine Savior changed his name to Peter, which means rock.
The significance of this name change became evident only later when Jesus Christ, praising Peter’s faith, said: “You are Peter (the rock), and on this rock I will build my Church; and the gates (powers) of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt.16:18).

On this same occasion, our Divine Savior promised Peter supreme authority in His Church, saying:

” I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you will bind on earth it shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you will loose on earth it shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:19).
This supreme authority given to Peter was extended also to matters of faith: “I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may never fail (infallibility), and once you have recovered (after his denial) you, in turn, must strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22:32).
After His glorious resurrection, Jesus formally conferred this supreme authority in the Church upon Peter, saying: “Feed my sheep! Feed my lambs!” (In. 21 :15-17).

Up to that time Jesus was The Shepherd of His flock, the Church, but from that time on, Peter and his successors are to tend Christ’s flock to assure that “there be only one Fold (Church) and Shepherd” (In. 10:14-16).

Thus, Peter became the indisputed head of the primitive Church.” (The Feast of Saint’s Peter and Paul According to the Byzantine Rite).
Since Peter is the earthly head of the church, and since he has made it known through his successor Pope Pius IX that Vatican 1 is to be accepted by all, there is no room for questioning his authority. To question the authority of Peter is to put oneself outside the church.

“Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate.

Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.” (Vatican 1, chapter 3.)

Let us close with a quote from His Beatitude Maximos IV, patriarch of Antioch and all the all the east, of Alexandria, and Jerusalem:
“The primacy of Peter, the infallible primacy, is a great grace, a charism granted by God to His Church, not for the advantage of a few, nor of Catholics alone, but of all Christians, including Orthodox and Protestants.” (Ain-Traz, September 30, 1962.)

Apologetics 1.6: Does God condemn iconography? 

Protestants make the absurd accusation that we as Catholic’s worship statues and images. In my previous post, I have made it clear that we as Catholics worship the Trinity alone and that the Catholic Church condemned idol worship. (Nicea 2).

With that being said, Protestants cite Exodus 20 which states the following:
“You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them or serve them”
As Catholics, we complete agree with this verse. That’s because we as Catholics agree with the bible 100% being that we are bible Christians. That’s right. Protestants would say we don’t accept this, thus God’s condemnation on the construction of statues. However, what is this scripture really addressing? If you were not aware, Protestants suffer with a bad case of personal interpretation of scripture, something coming from the heretic and schismatic Martin Luther.

When examining this scripture in context, the scripture in itself is condemning the pagan use of statues, that being the construction of them in order to put them in the place of God out of pride and disobedience. Being that God is almighty and cannot be replaced, the pagans have committed the sin of idolatry. However, does God condemn the religious use of images? No, for God doesn’t contradict Himself.
Five chapters away from Exodus 20, God instructs the construction of the ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant was a container in which held the very word of God within it, that being the tablets of the Ten Commandments.

“And you shall make two cherubim of gold [i.e., two gold statues of angels]; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece of the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be” (Ex. 25:18–20).

Also, in the book of 1 chronicles, David has commanded Solomon to make statuary. “for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord. All this he made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, all the work to be done according to the plan” (1 Chr. 28:18–19).

Note something, “made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, al the work to be done according to the plan.” If the construction of images were idolatry in themselves, why would David make it known that this is according to God’s plan? This plan included statues of angels, something found within Catholic Churches which co exists with images of saints.

Within the book of Ezekiel, the author describes the interior of the Jewish temples of the time. It is described as having images of the cherubim. On the walls round about in the inner room and [on] the nave were carved likenesses of cherubim.” (Ezekiel 41:17–18)

During a plague of serpents sent to punish the Israelites during the exodus, God told Moses to “make [a statue of] a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Num. 21:8–9).

Apologetics 1.9: Catholic teaching on idolatry, icons, and the True God!


It is commonly argued by Protestants that the Catholic Church teaches to worship saints and images of them. Even though this is commonly claimed, what does the Catholic Church really teach in this regard?

1. The Church teaches that the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) alone is God.

Proof:

The first ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, the council of Nicea (325 A.D.) in regards to the belief in God, the Trinity: I believe in one God, the Father almighty,maker of heaven and earth,of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary”

• Catechism of the Catholic Church (234) :

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”.56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin”.

• St. Ignatius of Antioch: “The prophets, who were men of God, lived according to Jesus Christ. For that reason they were persecuted, inspired as they were by his grace to convince the disobedient that there is one God, who manifested himself through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is his Word proceeding from silence, and who was in all respects pleasing to him that sent him” (Letter to the Magnesians 8:1 [A.D. 110]).

• The ancient Creed of St Athanasius:
“Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith.For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.”

• Irenaeus “For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).

What does the Catholic Church teach in regards to images of God, the Theotokos, and Mary?
The Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the worship of saints and images is blasphemy and heresy, for the Trinity alone is God.

Proof:

• The Second Council of Nicaea (787) addressed the heresy of iconoclasm. This was the heresy that taught images of God and the saints must be smashed since they were allegedly worshiped by Catholics. (Which is false and would be blasphemy and heresy.)

“[T]he one who redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous insanity, Christ our God, when he took for his bride his holy Catholic Church . . . promised he would guard her and assured his holy disciples saying, ‘I am with you every day until the consummation of this age.’ . . . To this gracious offer some people paid no attention; being hoodwinked by the treacherous foe they abandoned the true line of reasoning . . . and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols.”

• The Catechism of the Council of Trent, page 227, teaches that idolatry is of the devil. In objection to the accusation that Catholics worship images, it states that this is committed when:

“As far as this Commandment is concerned, it is clear that there are two chief ways in which God’s majesty can be seriously outraged. The first way is by worshipping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them, as the Gentiles did, who placed their hopes in idols, and whose idolatry the Scriptures frequently condemn.”

• The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following in regards to idolatry: “Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who ‘transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God’” (CCC 2114).

Apologetics 1.5: The doctrine and dogma of: ‘No salvation outside the Catholic Church’

The Catholic Church has always taught that there is no salvation outside of her.
You may be wondering why the Church would teach this very truth since there are many other self professed Christian sects. However, the question remains; which Church did Jesus establish and where is it today; considering that all churches outside the Catholic Church were established by men?

These sects (which happen to be 35,000+) all disagree with each other upon doctrine because of their personal interpretation of scripture, something that is against scripture itself. (2 Peter 1:20). Scripture makes it clear that there is “one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) What other Church, besides the Catholic Church, has been united in faith ever since 33 A.D.? What other church upholds the ancient faith? None.
First things first, let it be advised that this does not mean that all you have to do is be a member of the Church and you are saved. It’s quite the contrary since we must work out our salvation (Phil 2:12) and always repent when we sin. (Lk 13:3)

It means that the Church is necessary for salvation since she: 1. Is the true church. (1 Cor 3:15) 2. Has access to the sacraments in which are necessary for salvation. (Baptism: Mk 16:16, Eucharist: Jn 6:54, Confession: John 20:21-23 & Lk 13:3) 3. Is founded by Christ (Matt 16:18) in where Jesus is the Head (Col 1:18) (note, the church doesn’t teach that the Pope is the head, but the visible head.) and is His very body. Romans 12:5 “In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:17 “Because there is the one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.”‬ ‭
Note what these scriptures say: One Body. If the Church is One Body united in One Lord, One Faith, & One Baptism, who’s to say there’s salvation outside of her since there isn’t salvation outside of Christ Himself? (Acts 4:12)

To say that there are many churches of God is to say that there are many bodies of Christ. This is unbiblical since there is only One Body, UNO! To say there are many bodies is to insist that Christ is not a singular being, a blasphemous heresy insisted by the Nestorians. It also suggests that there are many bodies of Christ, again, a blasphemous heresy.
One interesting thing to note is that the bible never speaks upon there being multiple churches, but a Church. That’s right. This Church alone has the truth, and it is the truth that will set us free (John 8:32) since Christ is the Truth (John 1:14,John 1:17, John 14:6); and Truth is found within His Church alone. ( 1 Tim 3:15)


With that in mind, He established a Singular Church upon Peter the Rock (Matt 16:18). The Catholic Church is the only Church that can claim this because of the fact that no other church has complete lineage to the apostles, where as other churches were founded by men that teach heresy. (While the schismatic orthodox have apostolic succession, their religion was also founded by men, that being Photious and Michael Celuarius.)
As a kid, you may have been told the story of Noah’s ark. This ark is the very prefigurement of the Church since there was no salvation outside of it. Those who were outside of it perished. This is why she is referred to as the “Ark of Salvation”.

Saint Jerome (died A.D. 420): “As I follow no leader but Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. …This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. …And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church’s enemies are also my enemies.”

Saint Peter Canisius (died A.D. 1597): “Outside of this communion – as outside of the ark of Noah – there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not for Jews or pagans who never received the faith of the Church, nor for heretics who, having received it, corrupted it; neither for the excommunicated or those who for any other serious cause deserve to be put away and separated from the body of the Church like pernicious members…for the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: he will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his mother.” (Catechismi Latini et Germanici)
Since the Catholic Church is referred to as a boat, let me ask you one question. 1. During a storm or in the midsts of the sea, let’s say in the middle of the Atlantic for example, would you jump ship all because you do not like the captain? No, right? Would you also jump ship all because you disagree with Church teaching? Or because of the many sinners that are in her? To do so is to put oneself in danger.


“Then the sailors tried to escape from the ship; they lowered the boat into the water and pretended that they were going to put out some anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the army officer and soldiers, “If the sailors don’t stay on board, you have no hope of being saved.”‭‭ (Acts‬ ‭27:30-31‬)
Does this mean that non Catholics cannot be saved? No. The bible, Magisterium & early church fathers teach that those who are not aware that the Church is the true church, but try to obey God’s natural law and live a holy life, can possibly be saved.
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”(CCC 846)

Jesus’ own teaching about those who innocently reject him: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin” (Jn 15:22).
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (Jn 9:41). Paul taught likewise concerning the Gentiles:

“When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 2:14-15)