Some quickie answers to questions about Catholicism

Included here:

  1. Are Catholics committing idolatry because they have statues in church?
  2. Why do Catholics call the priest, father?
  3. Why are Catholic priests celebate?
  4. Is Anullment, 'Catholic Divorce'? Are the children of an annulled marriage, 'illegitimate'?
  5. Why do we pray to saints?
  6. Do Catholics worship Mary?
  7. Does "Infallibility of the Pope" mean that the Pope is perfect?

1. Are Catholics committing idolatry because they have statues in church?

First we have to define idolatry. It is not making 'graven images' for we do that daily when we take photos of each other or make statues like the Hummel figures or even when we manufacture toys which like Barbie dolls. The only graven image we are forbidden to make is one which looks like God and you won't find any of those in ANY church!

What idolatry is, is allowing a person or object to replace God as foremost in our priorities. There are two types, practical idolatry and formal idolatry. Formal idolatry would be if we worshipped a human being instead of God and some actions by the so-called 'fans' of celebrities are close to acts of worship. For example, two fans followed their favorite star into a restaurant and after they had collected his autograph, they requested the bones from the chicken he had just eaten so they could keep this garbage as a momento! Often people who are members of a religious cult tend toward worship of the human founder of the cult.

The other type of idolatry defined is called 'practical idolatry' and this means placing a thing above God. Like money. Unfortunately, many Catholics are guilty of THIS type of idolatry however, they are not alone - most members of this materialistic world place either money or sex as the God in their lives.

So where did the mixup happen that Catholics are accused of formal idolatry?

(No one wants to talk about practical idolatry since almost the whole world is guilty of it, these days!).

In ancient times (before Christianity), some pagans used to make statues and they believed that the god the statue depicted, would come and dwell in the statue.

Because Catholics have statues in church, some feel that Catholics might be worshipping the statues.

But use your common sense - I don't even think a hardcore pagan of the twentieth century could 'buy' the ancient idea of the god dwelling in the statue - we simply are not made that way. The statues and pictures in church are merely to remind us of God and nothing more.

Return to Top of Page

Why do Catholics call the priest, father?

The Bible says "Call no man father" and this has been used again and again to question Catholics about calling the parish priest, 'father'.

Problem is, the Bible could not be talking about ALL men because I think that very few human beings would be comfortable calling their paternal parent, anything else BUT Father!

The priest is a spiritual father to those in his parish, like our dad at home is a physical and emotional father.

The Bible is probably saying to call no man, "God".

Return to Top of Page

Why are Catholic priests celebate?

Jesus offered the celibate life to the Apostles and His Disciples. He said "Let those embrace this life who can accept it." And He described the life as 'leaving family and home to serve God'. Obviously He was not talking about deserting children and a wife because that would have been against everything He ever taught. He was more talking about leaving relatives to work fulltime for God.

St Paul told his followers that the unmarried man, unfettered by family responsibilities, has more time to devote to the Kingdom of God. "If you can be like me", he said i.e. celibate, "that is good otherwise, better to marry than to burn (with desire)".

The Catholic church did not require celibacy of its clergy until about 1000 AD and the dedication often seen in Catholic priests might be due to the fact that those generous men who give up the right to have a family and thus, make the church, THEIR family.

Although the Roman Catholic church already has some married priests (for instance almost 100 or more former Episcopal priests who have converted over) and will probably in the future have married priests, we cannot "blame" celibacy for the "sex problems" in the church today.  According to the official report, only 4 percent of priests have allegations against them (about 50 percent will be found not guilty).  This SMALL percentage makes Catholic priests kind of low on the totem pole of sexual abuse - compare to 10-15 percent of Protestant ministers and as high as 30-40 percent of parents.  So you see, if anything, celibacy may hold down the incidence of sexual abuse since the Protestant ministers are usually married, so are the fathers who abuse their daughters.

Return to Top of Page

Is Anullment, 'Catholic Divorce'? Do the children in an annulled marriage become 'illegitimate' when the marriage is annulled?

No, and no! What annulment says is that the couple, due to some circumstance, could not receive the Sacrament of Marriage, validly and thus, are not bound by the marriage vows made in church ("What God has joined together, let no man cast asunder"). The church marriage and the state marriage are considered separate even though for convenience they were initially combined.

The children of divorced parents are not considered illegitimate because AT THE TIME THEY WERE CONCEIVED, their parents were considered married. The same applies for the children resulting from a marriage which later on gets annulled.

The church never says that an annulled marriage never existed. What the church says that after research into the circumstances surrounding the marriage, it is determined that the sacrament of Marriage was not validly received. Therefore, although the marriage was considered valid for years, this determination of validity of the sacrament, after the fact, also determines that the individuals in the marriage are not bound by the vows made in church. This frees them to receive the sacrament of marriage validly, either with each other or with other individuals. (Although most who go through the long process of annulment, do it to be able to marry someone other than the person they married in church.)

There is some similarity to divorce in an annulment as in a divorce, the state decides that for some reason, the marriage can be legally dissolved and the vows taken declared as no longer binding. It's just that the state is much more lax about reasons for dissolving of the marriage than the church is. That's because it says in the Bible that we should not divorce each other and Jesus reaffirms this in the New Testament. So the only way the church can proclaim the vows as not binding is if they can research and discover that the Sacrament was not validly received in the first place.

One condition which would render the sacrament of marriage invalid and allow the two individuals to re-marry (if a state divorce was also arranged) would be if the couple lived together before the marriage and were sexually intimate. This would mean at the time they received the sacrament, they were not in a state of grace and could not validly receive the sacrament. (Unless they had, before the sacrament, repented, gone to confession and lived as brother and sister until they were married.)

Return to Top of Page

Why do we pray to saints?

Saints are the church's super heros. They are like the brothers and sisters, already up in Heaven, praying for us. Often just studying their lives, ministers to us and inspires us to keep on the straight path to God.

Since we know they are up in Heaven, we can ask them to pray for us just like we would ask a friend to pray for us.

And you might ask, how can they hear OUR prayer since they are finite beings? A good question. They can hear our prayer through a special Grace of God.

It's kind of like chatting over the Internet. If the proper arrangements are made, we can call someone by name and talk to them no matter where they live in the world when neither of us are omnipresent and both of us are finite beings.

God makes the proper arrangements so that we can 'call' a saint like we would someone's IRC and talk to the saint.

It's the Great Internet in the sky! :)

Return to Top of Page

Do Catholics worship Mary?

Mary, the mother of Jesus was a special lady. In order that she could fulfill her mission on earth, God gave her some special things. For one thing, she was born without original sin (original sin is the thing which makes sin look good to us). We can see that in the Bible when the angel greets Mary as "Hail Full of Grace". Although we HAVE grace, none of us are FULL of Grace and no one had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which having any grace would require before Jesus died on the cross for our salvation.

We thus say that Mary was 'pre-saved' before she fell into Original Sin, in order so that she could carry out what God had planned for her. And this happened when she was conceived. That is what we call 'the Immaculate Conception'.

Did you know that Mary is the only person in the Bible whom an angel greets with that kind of respect? Look it up - I did!

Jesus wants to share all with us and that includes the special lady whom He picked to be His Mom. It's like if your mom is visiting you and a friend comes over... wouldn't you introduce your Mom to your friend and feel that you honored your friend by sharing your Mom with them?

So Mary is in Heaven with Her Divine Son and she can be our prayer partner. We don't pray TO her, we pray WITH her. The Rosary is like holding hands with Mary very much like we do with our human prayer partners, feeling the strength from uniting with them.

In the Rosary, God talks to us and Mary steps aside - the Hail Marys we say tend to focus our minds so God CAN talk to us. And as you can imagine, the Rosary is a very cool prayer which is why so many folks, even in our busy noisy world, still take the time to say it.

But.. is the Rosary the repeated prayer which is condemned in the Bible?

Well, if we only say the Hail Marys and think of nothing, perhaps. But that's not what the Rosary is all about. While you say the Hail Marys (just some words from the Bible), you think of times in Jesus' life and God can interject thoughts and talk to you. The Rosary is a higher form of prayer called 'meditation' because we don't do all the talking. God actually does some of the talking TO us.

Sure we can meditate without saying the Rosary but when we say the Rosary, we join not only with Mary the Mother of Jesus, as a prayer partner which helps our prayers be stronger but we also share with other Catholics all around the world, for at any moment of the day or night, someone, somewhere is saying the Rosary.

By Sue Widemark... please share this with a friend!

Return to Top of Page

What is infallibility of the Pope?

It means that when the Pope proclaims something "EX CATHEDRA", it is a message from God.

What if the ex cathedra statement is in conflict with the Bible?

This has never happened but if it would happen, then that would mean it wasn't really proclaimed ex cathedra.  Everything MUST be in accordance to God's Word and What Jesus taught!

How many times has the Pope proclaimed something 'ex cathedra' in the last 300 years?

Twice.  Once proclaiming the Assumption of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and once proclaiming the "Immaculate Conception". Both these doctrines DO follow through from statements in the Bible.

What does infallibility NOT mean?

  1. It doesn't mean the Pope cannot commit sin. He's human like the rest of us.
  2. It doesn't mean that everything the Pope says is from God

Where does the term "ex cathedra" come from?

In the Bible, they refer to the "Chair of Moses" and this stood for the office of Pharisees and teachers - descended from Moses.  Some places of worship actually had a "chair".  When a Pharisee sat in this chair and taught about God, it was considered that he was inspired by God in a special way.  Jesus referred to the "chair of Moses" and told His Disciples to follow the teachings taught by the Pharisees but not follow their example of how to live. 

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
"The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice. (Mt 23: 1ff)


Ex Cathedra MEANS "from the chair" and refers to the chair of Moses!

Return to Top of Page


Return to the Catholic Parish of the net