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Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI at Ecumenical Vespers Service

Image Source: REUTERS/KNA-Bild/Wolfgang Radtke/Pool

Today, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, ended another day in Germany by attending an ecumenical Vespers service. I hope and pray that there will one day be reunion with protestants and the Orthodox Community. However, I do not EVER want us to have to abandon the smallest of our beliefs to achieve such a thing. The others, I pray, will simply just return to the truth faith and stop believing in heretical ideas. All of us have common ground in our beliefs, but some groups like protestants also believe in heretical ideas like sola-scriptura, sola-fide, consubstantiation, etc.

From Catholic News Agency:

At the conclusion of his fourth day in Bavaria, Pope Benedict XVI prayed with members of Germany’s Orthodox and Protestant community. Leading a Vesper service at Regensburg’s Cathedral, the Pontiff told those gathered that they must not loose track of what is central to their dialogue - their common belief in Christ - and that they should bear witness to their common faith “in such a way that it shines forth as the power of love.”

The liturgy, which was punctuated by German hymns, common to all traditions, also included traditional Orthodox chant and a response from leaders of all three Christian groups.

Pope Benedict began his reflection by welcoming the religious leaders and noting that at the heart of the liturgy is the praying of the Psalms, which connects the Christian church with Jewish believers as well.

Benedict next noted the ongoing dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, especially the conversations which are taking place in Germany itself. “I hope and pray that these discussions will be fruitful and that the communion with the living God which unites us, like our own communion in the faith transmitted by the Apostles, will grow in depth and maturity towards that full unity.”

“’So that the world may believe,’” the Pope emphasized, “we must become one: the seriousness of this commitment must spur on our dialogue.”

The Pope then turned to welcome “the various traditions stemming from the Reformation.” While he noted the particular work being done in the attempt to reach a consensus on justification, the Pope also pointed to a problem arising in society at large. “Our modern consciousness, in general, is no longer aware of the fact that we stand as debtors before God and that sin is a reality which can be overcome only by God’s initiative. Behind this weakening of the theme of justification and of the forgiveness of sins is ultimately a weakening of our relation with God. In this sense, our first task will perhaps be to rediscover in a new way the living God present in our lives.”

Turning to the liturgy’s reading from the Gospel of St. John, the Pope noted that what ultimately sets Christians apart is the belief that “Jesus is the Son of God who has come in the flesh.” This, he said, must be the starting point of any dialogue. “In this common confession, and in this common task, there is no division between us. And we pray that this shared foundation will grow ever stronger.”

From this starting point, Benedict continued, we must become witnesses. And not just empty witnesses, but witnesses in love. As the reading points out, he concluded, “’We know and believe the love God has for us’. Yes, man can believe in love. Let us bear witness to our faith in such a way that it shines forth as the power of love, ‘so that the world may believe (Jn 17:21).’”

Image Source: AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle


del_button September 13, 2006 at 8:56 AM
Tito said...


I too don't want to give up any bit of our Catholic faith for a 'reunion'. They either see the light of Christ or they don't.

del_button September 13, 2006 at 1:46 PM
EJ said...

True unity between protestants and catholics is not possible. For you say that we hold heretical ideas like "sola-scriptura, sola-fide, consubstantiation, etc." and it is true that we hold these believes, yet they are not heretical. Catholics hold the heretical view of faith + works = salvation as well as praying to persons other than God Himself (whether they be saints or angels).

We, who are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone based on the Scriptures alone, will never denounce sola fide, sola scriptura and we will also never accept a works righteous soteriology nor will we ever view prayer to anyone other than God Himself as anything less than idolatry. The martyrs of the reformation (and those in Sudan and other hostile locations today) show just that fact that we will not.

For better or worse, those who are truly convinced of their theology, whether it is protestant (sola scriptura) or Catholic (scripture plus the magesterium [I believe that is the right term]), will never see eye to eye for fellowship.

on a side note - are you familiar with Father Michael Manning? He is frequently on Larry King Live. I was just wondering where his views on salvation fall in the Catholic church.

Soli Deo Gloria

del_button September 13, 2006 at 3:33 PM
Moneybags said...


We don't believe that we can work our way into heaven. We techincally don't believe faith + works = salvation. We believe we are saved by grace alone. And grace is obtained through works and faith.

This is essential. Jesus taught this!!!

Read my post on it:

del_button September 13, 2006 at 3:39 PM
Tito said...


What happened in the first 300 years of Christianity when there was no 'scripture' around to live by.

Did Christians use any other device to believe in one faith only?


del_button September 13, 2006 at 3:43 PM
RobK said...

The whole question of faith versus works is talking at cross purposes. There is no salvation without faith. Works cannot do it without faith. But while none earn their way to heaven, simply saying you beleive is not enough either. Remember how Christ cursed the fig tree that did not have fruit. Remember that the word when planted on fruitful soil bears thirty, sixty and a hundred fold. Faith, if true, results in works. If it does not, then it was not true faith. Simply beleiving is not enough. Here are some Bible quotes for you:

Mathew 7:16-17 "By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit."

Titus 1:16 "They claim to know God, but by their deeds they deny him. They are vile and disobedient and unqualified for any good deed."

James 2:26 "For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."

Matt 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. "

As for sola scriptura, where does the Bible say that it is the only source to trust? It doesn't. In fact it says the opposite.

Jn 20:30 "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book."

Jn 21:25 "There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written."

2 Tim 2:2 "And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well. "

2 Th 2:15 "Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours."

Pray, and be open minded. Moneybags is right. If our protestant brothers are open to Christ's truth, they WILL come back.

del_button September 13, 2006 at 3:44 PM
EJ said...

The letters to the churches were present. I don't have the facts on hand (sorry about that) but I do know that the letters (epistles, anyway) were around for instruction wherever there were churches prior to 300.

del_button September 13, 2006 at 4:24 PM
EJ said...

Robk – I agree that genuine saving and justifying faith produces the good fruit (works). These works do not justify us. This is the protestant view of salvation that you are espousing…one that was condemned by the council of Trent.

“If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema." (CANON 9)

Works (any and all) are the natural result of being born again. Works are the fruit of someone who has been born again (Eph 2:8-10), but they do not “co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification”. If one is truly born again (as evidenced by the Spirit’s continuing work in his/her life), then that person cannot ever lose salvation (John 10:28,29). Salvation is a free gift (Romans 3:24; 6:23). There is a strain of thought in protestant circles that says once you believe, you’re “good to go” and true faith doesn’t necessarily show itself in good works. This view is called “easy believism” by its opponents (of which I am one).

Read my articles Grace Alone and grace, baptism, and scripture for my thoughts on this matter.

del_button September 13, 2006 at 4:56 PM
C. H. Spurgeon said...

"We must have no truce, no treaty with Rome."

"Peace there cannot be. She cannot have peace with us—we cannot have peace with her. She hates the true Church; and we can only say that the hatred is reciprocated. We would not lay a hand upon her priests; we would not touch a hair of their heads. Let them be free: but their doctrine we would destroy from the face of the earth as the doctrine of devils. So let it perish, O God, and let that evil thing become as the fat of lambs. Into smoke let it consume: yea, into smoke let it consume away."

del_button September 13, 2006 at 5:13 PM
RobK said...

It sounds like you may not be that far away after all. My view is not protestant! It is sound Catholic teaching. The point is, there is no real distinction. If you let go of your prejudices and really study the Church's teachings, I suspect you will find yourself closer to the one true (and original) Catholoc Church.

del_button September 13, 2006 at 5:55 PM
EJ said...

I don't think so Robk.

Is baptism in water necessary for salvation? No. You may quickly reference John 3:5, but Christ's statement was referencing the idea of spiritual cleansing from evil practices (Ezekiel 36:24-27), not water baptism. The theif on the cross didn't need to be baptized to inherit the free gift of eternal life (cf. Romans 6:23), and there is no scriptural support for a 'baptism by intent'.

If you believe that water baptism is necessary for salvation (as the Catholic church does), then you and I are not close together at all in our soteriology. For this would qualify as a work, no matter what you say.

If God will open your eyes and if you let go of your prejudices and really study the Bible's teachings, I suspect you will find yourself closer to the one true universal Church of Christ. The true church is catholic, but not Catholic.

sola fide

del_button September 13, 2006 at 9:28 PM
Moneybags said...


The Good Theif (Dismas is his name) received baptism of desire. There are three forms of baptism: water, blood, and desire.

From Wikipedia:

The Church also recognizes two other forms of baptism: "baptism of blood" and "baptism of desire." Baptism of blood refers to unbaptized individuals who are martyred for the Faith, while baptism of desire generally refers to catechumens who die before they can be baptized. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes these two forms:

The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament. (1258)

For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament. (1259)

del_button September 13, 2006 at 9:44 PM
RobK said...

Amen, Moneybags!
EJ, you think you know Catholicism, but you don't. Take an open-minded deeper look. There is a lot of prejudice against Catholics. People who aren't think they know what we believe, but they don't.

The true parts of protestant Christianity come from Catholicism! Protestantism didn't add truth, it threw some of it away. Name me one truth that was added by Protestentism, or one thing that is not true that was eliminated.

del_button September 14, 2006 at 3:23 PM
Les said...

Please grow up, catholic and protestant both. True faith works. There's no problem. The true problem is that these Protestants that the Holy Father is now hobnobbing with are not even Protestants but Modernists - their synods and their seminaries deny all the essentials of the Creed. They are untrustworthy and in fact traitors of what was once genuinely Catholic in the Reformation schism.

del_button September 14, 2006 at 4:31 PM
EJ said...

"Name me one truth that was added by Protestentism, or one thing that is not true that was eliminated."

No truth was created by the reformation. But the reformation did cut away the vile doctrines of purgatory, indulgences, and praying to the saints which are an abomination before God.

Purgatory and indulgences both mock the atoning work of Christ either by cheapening it to the level of a monetary sum or saying that some amount of my time being “purified” is necessary to do what was seemingly lacking in the singular justifying act of the death of Christ.

“All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” Catechism of the Catholic Church

Christ became sin for us that we might be the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21). How then do we say that the righteousness of Christ in us needs to be purified in “final purification”?

And as for praying to saints, it is nothing short of a form of idolatry. You can read my article "Prayer to Saints" for more on that.

The truth necessary for salvation was given once for all time by Christ and the apostles, and we have that recorded in the pages of Holy Scripture alone, not in the traditions of men that have created these foul doctrines and perversions of the true gospel.

del_button September 14, 2006 at 5:17 PM
Jeff said...


Sorry if this is a bit straight forward, but you clearly don't understand grace. Grace is unmerited favor. Christians don't work for grace. Words and their definition are important. Don't rely on Rome's definitions. The Word is crystal clear:

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. (NASB)

del_button September 14, 2006 at 5:32 PM
Moneybags said...


Only post on here if you know what you are talking about. I can't believe you posted this:

But the reformation did cut away the vile doctrines of purgatory, indulgences, and praying to the saints which are an abomination before God.

You obviously have no idea that purgatory and indulgences are only available because of the Cross and Jesus's love for us! You have no idea the great power of the intercession of saints. These three doctrines go back to the time of early Christianity.


If anyone wants to see the Church's real view on these three topics as well as others, see this website:

del_button September 14, 2006 at 9:48 PM
Jeff said...

Sorry to robk,

I apologize robk. The following words were not yours:

"And grace is obtained through works and faith."

They were Moneybag's words. I misread the blog name when I was scrolling down the list of comments. So I meant to say that Moneybags doesn't truly understand the biblical word "grace". Again, my apologies for the mix up.

del_button September 14, 2006 at 11:29 PM
RobK said...

EJ and other protestant friends, be careful of what you call vile. It is your misunderstanding that leads to these problems. And saying something is "vile" does not make it so. When you look at the why and where these beliefs came from (Scripture and early Fathers of the Church), you will see that they are not only vile, that missing them is the error.

Here is just a little bit in reply. The very earliest Christians prayed for the dead, why do so if there is no point? Or did all Christians have it wrong until Luther came along?

There is both a particular judgment (when we die) and the general judgment (when Christ returns). It is between these judgments that the soul expiates its sins. Remeber - God is both just and merciful. He loves, but his love is not blind, and we all are sinners. There is payment for our sins. Rev 21:27 - "nothing unclean shall enter heaven." Yet we are all sinners. Forgiven - yes! Redeemed- yes! But there is still justice, and we are cleaned. This is what we call of purgatory. There is much more than this in understanding this beleif, but not the space (nor time) here.

The other items have similar explanations. Again, I think that if you looked deeper, you will find that the Church is not in error. All public revelation ended at the death of the last apostles - we look at scripture and the traditions of the early Fathers of the Church.

Catholics honor the saints, yes. One way is through communication with them. This is not vile. Why do you say so? Just as Paul asked others to pray for him, we ask him (and other Saints) to pray for us. The mystical body of Christ encompasses all of the Church - those who have gone before us as well as the living. We pray for one another.

Again, dig deeper the Catholic There is other support for these postions, but Moneybags comment space is probably not the right spot for it.

I do implore you, though, to have an open mind. Those who look, find that the truth still lies in the barque of Peter.

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