Beliefs and Practices
1. Original Sin
The Catholic Church teaches that children are born in sin. Catechism of the Catholic Church reads, “Born with a fallen nature and tainted by Original Sin, children also have need of new birth in baptism to be freed from the power of darkness” (CCC, Paragraph, 1250).
It is for the forgiveness of sins. “By baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as punishment for sin” (CCC, Paragraph 1263).
They practice infant baptism. “The practice of infant baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching when whole ‘households’ received baptism, infants may have also been baptized” (CCC, Paragraph 1252). [Note: Wayne Jackson remarked, “The first allusion to infant baptism is by the writer Irenaeus (140-203 A.D.)… (Against Heresies 2:22:4). But a contemporary, Tertullian (150-222 A.D.) opposed the practice… (on Baptism, xvii)” (Spiritual Sword, July 1992)].
What about infants who die without baptism? In the past, a common belief is that they go to Limbo, a place which is neither heaven nor hell (Limbo, Roman Catholic Theology, britannica.com). However, the current official position is stated: “As regards children who have died without baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God” (CCC, Paragraph 1261). What “mode” of baptism do they use? The Church teaches that either triple immersion or triple pouring of water over the candidate’s head is acceptable (CCC, Paragraph 1239). [Note: The Didache (c. 120-160 A.D.) mentions pouring when lacking sufficient quantity of water (chapter 7).The first known case of sprinkling or pouring was in the case of a sick man, Novatian of Rome in c. 250 A.D. (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 6, Chapter 43). Wayne Jackson writes, “Even as late as the eighth century, Pope Stephen III, in France, authorized pouring… only in cases of necessity. In fact, the council of Nemours (1248 A.D.) limited sprinkling to cases of necessity. Finally, though, at the Council of Ravenna (1311 A.D.), it was officially made law that the candidate for baptism be given his choice between sprinkling and immersion” (Spiritual Sword, July 1992)].
The word Eucharist (the giving of thanks) is what they call the Lord’s Supper. It comes from the fact that thanks was given before partaking (Luke 22:19-ff; 1 Corinthians 11:23-ff).
They believe in transubstantiation. This word means to “change into another substance.” It is taught that the Eucharist elements are transformed into the literal body and blood of Jesus. “Only valid ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and wine so that they become the body and blood of the Lord” (CCC, Paragraph 1411). “By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is brought about” (CCC, Paragraph 1413). [Note: Due to the priests role in worship, they have held great power over people. The interdict or suspension of religious services historically has been used as a tool over towns, districts and even countries (Philip Schaff, History of The Christian Church, Vol. 4, p. 379-ff)].
How frequently do they say to partake? “The Church obliges the faithful… to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season. But the church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily” (CCC, Paragraph 1389).
4. Confession of Sins
“Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of penance. All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted to them in confession, even if they are most secret…” (CCC, Paragraph 1456).
The church teaches Immaculate Conception. This means that she was conceived without the taint of original sin. “Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: The most blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception… preserved immune from all the stain of original sin” CCC, Paragraph 491). This insolates Jesus from original sin. This declaration of Immaculate Conception was “grandfathered in after the First Vatican Council’s declaration of Papal infallibility in 1870” as an ex cathedra declaration (Is There a List of Infallible Teachings? By Kevin P. Considine, uscatholic.org, May 18, 2011).
The Church teaches perpetual virginity (CCC, Paragraph 499-500). Celibacy is held to be especially holy in the Catholic Church.
The Church teaches that Mary lived without sin. “Mary, free from original sin, was also preserved from all actual sin” (Mary Was Free From All Personal Sun by Pope John Paul II, ewtn.com).
The church teaches Bodily Assumption. Mary “was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all” (CCC, Paragraph 966 cf. 974). This was stated ex cathedra by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
The church teaches that Mary now helps us. “Taken up to heaven she… by her manifold intercession continues to bring gifts of eternal salvation… Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix” (CCC, Paragraph 969). “Mary is the perfect Orans (prayer)… when we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father… we can pray with and to her” (CCC, Paragraph 2679). Gary Workman points out, “The rosary has ten times as many prayers addressed to Mary as to God” (The Spiritual Sword, July 1992).
Saints also are addressed in prayer. “Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us for the whole world” (CCC, Paragraph 2683).
“All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate ‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven’” (CCC, Paragraph 1579). However, they acknowledge, “Nevertheless, in the early Church clerical celibacy was not mandated” (Why Does the Church Mandate That Priests be Celibate?, catholicstraitanswers.com).
“The veneration of images of Christ and His Saints is a cherished devotion in the Catholic Church” (Faith of our Fathers by James Cardinal Gibbons, Chapter 15, Gutenberg EBook). It is argued that they do not worship these images. However, at times, it appears that they do. UPI reported on June 15, 1992 “San Antonio – Thousands of faithful made the pilgrimage Monday to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church to pray before a statue of the Virgin Mary some believe is shedding tears” (upi.com).
“The Catholic Church teaches that, besides a place of eternal torments for the wicked aband eternal rest for the righteous, there exists in the next life a middle state of temporary punishment, allotted for those who have died in venial sin, or who have not satisfied the justice of God for sins already forgiven. She also teaches us that, although the souls consigned to this intermediate states, commonly called purgatory, cannot help themselves, they may be aided by the suffrages of the faithful on earth. This existence of purgatory naturally implies the correlative dogma – the utility of praying for the dead” (Cardinal Gibbons, Chapter 16). “The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead” (CCC, Paragraph 1032). The selling of indulgences enriched the Church in the Middle Ages. The sale of indulgences was abolished in 1567 by Pope Pius V (Indulgence, britannica.com).
Purgatory is a very ancient belief. However, Gregory I (590-604 A.D.) popularized this belief (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. IV, p. 398).
10. The Seven Sacraments
McClintock and Strong defines the word, “Sacrament (from the Latin Sacramentum, a military oath of enlistment), a word adopted by the writers of the Latin Church to denote those ordinances of religion by which Christians come under obligation of obedience to God…” (biblicalcyclopedia.com).
The Catholic Church teaches Seven Sacraments (CCC, Paragraph 1113, 1210). These are: (1) Baptism (see before). (2) Confirmation. “Confirmation perfects baptismal grace, it is the sacrament which give the Holy Spirit…” (CCC, Paragraph 1316). “In the Latin church this sacrament is administered when the age of reason has been reached” (CCC, Paragraph 1318). (3) Eucharist (see before). (4) Penance. “It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure of confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament” (CCC, Paragraph 1424). “The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear” (CCC, Paragraph 1460). (5) Anointing of the sick. “Only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Anointing of the sick (CCC, Paragraph 1516). “If the sacrament of anointing of the sick is given to all who suffer from serious illness and infirmity, even more rightly is it given to those at the point of departing this life… The anointing of the sick completes our conformity to the death and resurrection of Christ just as baptism began it” (CCC, Paragraph 1523). “This assistance from the Lord by the power of his Spirit is meant to lead the sick to healing of the soul, but also of the body if God’s will” (CCC, Paragraph 1520). (6) Holy Orders. “Today the word ‘ordination’ is reserved for the sacramental act which integrates a man into the order of bishop, presbyter or deacon” (CCC, Paragraph 427). (7) Matrimony. “In the epiclesis of this sacrament the spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and the Church. The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever-available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity” (CCC, Paragraph 1624). “According to the law in force in the Latin church a mixed marriage ( of mixed faiths-B.H.) needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority… furthermore the Catholic party confirms the obligations… of preserving his own faith or her own faith and ensuring the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church” (CCC, Paragraph 1635).