Sunday, October 21, 2018

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò: The Silence has been Broken, The Truth!


“Scio Cui credidi” (2 Tim 1:12) In you, Jesus, my only Lord, I place all my trust. “Diligentibus Deum omnia cooperantur in bonum” (Rom 8:28)

The dam has broken. For years, LifeSiteNews has been cataloguing the calamity to the Church being caused by Pope Francis and his allies in the Vatican. But with the 11-page testimony of former U.S. nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a new chapter in the history of the Catholic Church has opened.

Heretofore, criticisms of Pope Francis by his brother bishops have been extremely timid and few and far between, despite grave abuses of the faith which have veritably destroyed orthodoxy in the Church. But the silence has been broken.

Thus far, 36 U.S. bishops have supported the credibility of the Viganò testimony by calling for an investigation of his claims. Most of those bishops publicly acknowledged the stellar character and deep faith of Archbishop Viganò.

I personally know Archbishop Viganò to be a good and holy servant of the Lord. His explanation of the reason for his willingness to speak out despite the risk to his priesthood and his safety was this:

To discharge my conscience before God of my responsibilities as bishop of the universal Church. I am an old man and I want to present myself to God with clean conscience.

Knowing the nuncio, that statement is not surprising, for he lives life as a preparation for heaven. And that way of living is precisely what led to so many U.S. bishops standing up for his character at this most crucial time.

But it wasn’t only bishops. As you’ll read on LifeSite, Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s order, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, called for an investigation of the Viganò testimony. The chair of the board of Christendom College did the same. As did famous canonist Ed Peters, Pope John Paul II biographer George Weigel, EWTN’s papal posse, and over 46,000 Catholic women and over 10,000 Catholic men. That doesn’t include the over 16,000 LifeSite readers who have pledged to pray for the Archbishop.

Conservative commentators like Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, and even non-Catholic Ben Shapiro also supported Viganò’s heroic action.

A key point, though, is that it wasn’t only conservatives speaking out. Australia’s Daily Telegraph said the pope must answer Viganò’s claims or “resign”; a prominent Swiss paper opined, “The silence of the two popes seems strange”; the Wall Street Journal called on the pope to end the silence and “explain the truth”; and a prominent German newspaper said of the papal silence, “What a mockery of the victims!”

Naturally, there have been attacks on Viganò. Unsurprisingly, pro-homosexual prelates such as Cardinals Blase Cupich and Joseph Tobin and Bishop Robert McElroy have attacked the former nuncio’s credibility. When Cardinal Cupich played the race card, to paint critics of the pope as being against him because he’s “a Latino,” it seemed he was losing his mind.

The reaction to the pope’s response of silence has been yet another public relations disaster for the Vatican. The pope has called for silence about the matter and prayer, and in his homilies he has associated those exposing the corruption with Satan, the “Great Accuser.” Even some of his die-hard fans are asking, “does he know he sounds like an abuser?”

The pope’s approval ratings have plummeted from 72 percent to 48 percent. The Catholic CEO group Legatus has chosen to withhold its annual tithe of nearly a million dollars to the Holy See until the situation improves.

Reflecting on all these events, I couldn’t help but think of Christ’s admonition to his disciples about the end of time recorded in the 21st chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke. Speaking of the time of persecution, Christ said, “This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.”

Despite the best efforts of many, every attempt to contradict the Viganò testimony has backfired, demonstrating its veracity.

The McCarrick revelations followed quickly by the Pennsylvania AG report are what opened the way for the Viganò testimony. Interestingly, I received an email from a reader noting that the bishops of Pennsylvania consecrated the state to Our Lady last year. She wondered if the AG report, which brings a needed but painful purification, was not a miracle of Our Lady of Fatima.

With the opening of the investigations into sexual abuse by clergy in many more states besides Pennsylvania, and indeed around the world, Catholics may well find themselves in a time of serious persecution. It may well strip the Church of any prestige it once had and very likely, too, its wealth and earthly power.

With all that worldly pomp stripped away, the only impetus left to join the faith – and especially the clergy – will be a sincere and ardent love for Christ which will never die. It will thus result in a purification, an exodus of any who would seek high office in the Church for worldly gain.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI predicted when he was still Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, the Church in the future “may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man's home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”

September 27, 2018

(LifeSiteNews)

Pope Francis’s silence on McCarrick cover-up and Viganò 'testimony’





Tit. Archbishop of Ulpiana
Apostolic Nuncio
Scio Cui credidi
(2 Tim 1:12)

Before starting my writing, I would first of all like to give thanks and glory to God the
Father for every situation and trial that He has prepared and will prepare for me during my life.
As a priest and bishop of the holy Church, spouse of Christ, I am called like every baptized
person to bear witness to the truth. By the gift of the Spirit who sustains me with joy on the path
that I am called to travel, I intend to do so until the end of my days. Our only Lord has addressed
also to me the invitation, “Follow me!”, and I intend to follow him with the help of his grace
until the end of my days.
“As long as I have life, I will sing to the Lord,
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my song be pleasing to him;
For I rejoice in the Lord.”
(Psalm 103:33-34)
*****
It has been a month since I offered my testimony, solely for the good of the Church,
regarding what occurred at the audience with Pope Francis on June 23, 2013 and regarding
certain matters I was given to know in the assignments entrusted to me at the Secretariat of State
and in Washington, in relation to those who bear responsibility for covering up the crimes
committed by the former archbishop of that capital.

My decision to reveal those grave facts was for me the most painful and serious decision
that I have ever made in my life. I made it after long reflection and prayer, during months of
profound suffering and anguish, during a crescendo of continual news of terrible events, with
thousands of innocent victims destroyed and the vocations and lives of young priests and
religious disturbed. The silence of the pastors who could have provided a remedy and prevented
new victims became increasingly indefensible, a devastating crime for the Church. Well aware of
the enormous consequences that my testimony could have, because what I was about to reveal
involved the successor of Peter himself, I nonetheless chose to speak in order to protect the
Church, and I declare with a clear conscience before God that my testimony is true. Christ died
for the Church, and Peter, Servus servorum Dei, is the first one called to serve the spouse of
Christ.

Certainly, some of the facts that I was to reveal were covered by the pontifical secret that
I had promised to observe and that I had faithfully observed from the beginning of my service to
the Holy See. But the purpose of any secret, including the pontifical secret, is to protect the
Church from her enemies, not to cover up and become complicit in crimes committed by some of
her members. I was a witness, not by my choice, of shocking facts and, as the Catechism of the
Catholic Church states (par. 2491), the seal of secrecy is not binding when very grave harm can
be avoided only by divulging the truth. Only the seal of confession could have justified my
silence.

Neither the pope, nor any of the cardinals in Rome have denied the facts I asserted in my
testimony. “Qui tacet consentit” surely applies here, for if they deny my testimony, they have
only to say so, and provide documentation to support that denial. How can one avoid concluding
that the reason they do not provide the documentation is that they know it confirms my
testimony?

The center of my testimony was that since at least June 23, 2013, the pope knew from me
how perverse and evil McCarrick was in his intentions and actions, and instead of taking the
measures that every good pastor would have taken, the pope made McCarrick one of his
principal agents in governing the Church, in regard to the United States, the Curia, and even
China, as we are seeing these days with great concern and anxiety for that martyr Church.
Now, the pope’s reply to my testimony was: “I will not say a word!” But then,
contradicting himself, he has compared his silence to that of Jesus in Nazareth and before Pilate,
and compared me to the great accuser, Satan, who sows scandal and division in the Church —
though without ever uttering my name. If he had said: “Viganò lied,” he would have challenged
my credibility while trying to affirm his own. In so doing he would have intensified the demand
of the people of God and the world for the documentation needed to determine who has told the
truth. Instead, he put in place a subtle slander against me — slander being an offense he has often
compared to the gravity of murder. Indeed, he did it repeatedly, in the context of the celebration
of the most Holy Sacrament, the Eucharist, where he runs no risk of being challenged by
journalists. When he did speak to journalists, he asked them to exercise their professional
maturity and draw their own conclusions. But how can journalists discover and know the truth if
those directly involved with a matter refuse to answer any questions or to release any
documents? The pope’s unwillingness to respond to my charges and his deafness to the appeals
by the faithful for accountability are hardly consistent with his calls for transparency and bridge
building.

Moreover, the pope’s cover-up of McCarrick was clearly not an isolated mistake. Many
more instances have recently been documented in the press, showing that Pope Francis has
defended homosexual clergy who committed serious sexual abuses against minors or adults.
These include his role in the case of Fr. Julio Grassi in Buenos Aires, his reinstatement of Fr.
Mauro Inzoli after Pope Benedict had removed him from ministry (until he went to prison, at
which point Pope Francis laicized him), and his halting of the investigation of sex abuse
allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.
In the meantime, a delegation of the USCCB, headed by its president Cardinal DiNardo,
went to Rome asking for a Vatican investigation into McCarrick. Cardinal DiNardo and the other
prelates should tell the Church i
n America and in the world: did the pope refuse to carry out a
Vatican investigation into McCarrick’s crimes and of those responsible for covering them up?
The faithful deserve to know.

I would like to make a special appeal to Cardinal Ouellet, because as nuncio I always
worked in great harmony with him, and I have always had great esteem and affection towards
him. He will remember when, at the end of my mission in Washington, he received me at his
apartment in Rome in the evening for a long conversation. At the beginning of Pope Francis’
pontificate, he had maintained his dignity, as he had shown with courage when he was
Archbishop of Québec. Later, however, when his work as prefect of the Congregation for
Bishops was being undermined because recommendations for episcopal appointments were
being passed directly to Pope Francis by two homosexual “friends” of his dicastery, bypassing
the Cardinal, he gave up. His long article in L’Osservatore Romano, in which he came out in
favor of the more controversial aspects of Amoris Laetitia, represents his surrender. Your
Eminence, before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s
sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating
McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness
to the truth.
*****
Finally, I wish to encourage you, dear faithful, my brothers and sisters in Christ: never be
despondent! Make your own the act of faith and complete confidence in Christ Jesus, our Savior,
of Saint Paul in his second Letter to Timothy, Scio cui credidi, which I choose as my episcopal
motto. This is a time of repentance, of conversion, of prayers, of grace, to prepare the Church,
the bride of the Lamb, ready to fight and win with Mary the battle against the old dragon.
“Scio Cui credidi” (2 Tim 1:12)
In you, Jesus, my only Lord, I place all my trust.

“Diligentibus Deum omnia cooperantur in bonum” (Rom 8:28).
To commemorate my episcopal ordination on April 26, 1992, conferred on me by St.
John Paul II, I chose this image taken from a mosaic of the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice. It
represents the miracle of the calming of the storm. I was struck by the fact that in the boat of
Peter, tossed by the water, the figure of Jesus is portrayed twice. Jesus is sound asleep in the
bow, while Peter tries to wake him up: “Master, do you not care that we are about to die?”
Meanwhile the apostles, terrified, look each in a different direction and do not realize that Jesus
is standing behind them, blessing them and assuredly in command of the boat: “He awoke and
rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still,’ … then he said to them, ‘Why are you
afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mk 4:38-40).
The scene is very timely in portraying the tremendous storm the Church is passing
through in this moment, but with a substantial difference: the successor of Peter not only fails to
see the Lord in full control of the boat, it seems he does not even intend to awaken Jesus asleep
in the bow.

Has Christ perhaps become invisible to his vicar? Perhaps is he being tempted to try to
act as a substitute of our only Master and Lord?
The Lord is in full control of the boat!
May Christ, the Truth, always be the light on our way!

+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana
Apostolic Nuncio

September 29th, 2018

Feast of St. Michael, Archangel

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

God Teaches us that our Life on earth is a Spiritual Warfare


The word of God teaches us that our life on earth is warfare and the Lord reminds us that if we have decided to follow the Lord we must be prepared for combat. The Sacrament of Confirmation strengthens the Gifts of the Holy Spirit within our souls and transforms us into “Soldiers of Christ” the King. With the “Cristero” martyrs of Mexico our battle cry must be “Viva Cristo Rey”—long live Christ the King!

The devil exists, has keen intelligence (in a perverted way), is exceedingly sly and crafty, and is constantly at work and persistent in his work (temptations). However, God, Mary, His angels and saints are far more powerful than the devil. Two extremes must be avoided with respect to the devil. These were warnings given by the Servant of God Pope Paul VI. The first extreme to avoid is to deny that the devil exists. Indeed this is one of the tactics of the devil. On the other hand, we should never give the devil too much importance. Individuals, fearful alarmists, speak more of the power of the devil than of the Omnipotence of God Himself. Let us avoid the two extremes!
Spiritual Weapons to Conquer the Devil

Vigilance. Stay awake and pray so that you are not put to the test and overcome by the temptations of the devil. The precise reason for the Apostles’ fall, abandoning Jesus in the Garden, was that they were not vigilant in prayer.

Name it and Claim it. When the temptation breaks it can prove exceedingly useful to simply admit in a very calm manner, “I am being tempted by the devil, the enemy of God!” Name it! Claim it! And then tame it! Discovering the enemy on the attack is half the battle! Ignorance of the enemy’s presence can augment his power over us.

Avoid the Near Occasion of Sin. Often we are tempted because we place ourselves in the near occasion of sin. Remember the many proverbs! “Do not play with fire!” and “He who plays in danger will perish in danger!” “He who walks on thin ice will fall in!” One of the reasons why Eve ate from the forbidden fruit was due to the simple reason that she was near the tree that God told her not to eat from.

State of Desolation. While in this state St. Ignatius arms us with four key weapons: more prayer, more meditation, examine your conscience (to see why you are in desolation) and finally to apply yourself to some suitable penance. Some devils are expelled only through prayer and penance! Sacramentals. The proper use of Sacramentals can prove to be very efficacious in fighting against the devil, and especially three: the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the medal of Saint Benedict, and finally HOLY WATER. St Teresa of Avila insists on using Holy Water to expel the devil from our presence. Why? The devil is inflated with pride and Holy water is small and inconspicuous—this the devil hates and cannot endure. Exorcisms have recourse to holy water!

Fiery Darts That Penetrate the Sky. When being assaulted by the enemy it is highly recommended to offer short and fervent prayers; these can prove exceedingly efficacious in putting the devil to flight. Some examples of these short but powerful prayers might be: Jesus I trust in you… Sweet Heart of Mary be my salvation… Lord, save me… Lord come to my rescue…and of course invoking with faith and confidence the Holy names of Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph.

Reject Immediately. Part of the problem in spiritual combat is the lethargic, slow and anemic response to the temptation. God’s grace must always prevail through the weapon of prayer. Still, we must engage our own will in manfully and forcefully rejecting the temptation from the start. Frequently temptations get a stronghold over us because we open up the door and the tail of the devil enters and it is difficult to kick him out!

Laziness. On one occasion in the Diary of St. Faustina the devil was roaming the corridors frantically looking for somebody to tempt. St Faustina stopped the devil and told him out of obedience to Jesus to tell her what was the greatest danger to the nuns. Reluctantly the devil responded— Lazy and indolent souls! All of us have heard the proverb: “Idleness is the workshop of the devil!” This means that if we do not have anything to do then the devil will give us a lot to do. The great St. John Bosco mortally feared vacation time for his boys in the Oratory. Why? Too much free time gives full entrance and game to the devil in the life of the youth! How often have we sinned preceded by moments, hours or even days of indolence and laziness! Our philosophy should be that of St. Alberto Hurtado, “There are two places to rest: the cemetery and heaven.” In the present it is time to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. May St. Benedict’s motto be ours: Ora et Labora. Work and Pray.

Jesus in the Desert as Supreme Example: His Three Weapons. Of course our best example for all is Jesus who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” At the end of forty days in the desert, the devil came to tempt Him. Jesus forcefully and easily conquered the devil by using three weapons that we must learn to use: prayer, fasting, and the use of the Word of God. Jesus had a prolonged prayer experience in the desert. Added to that was forty days of fasting; He ate nothing. Finally the devil tempted Him by using the Word of God; Jesus also used the Word of God as a sharp arrow to puncture the efforts of Satan. Fervent and prolonged prayer, constant self-denial, and familiarity with the Word of God, both meditating on it and putting it into practice are efficacious weapons indeed to combat and conquer Satan.

Openness to Your Spiritual Director. Once again, the Master Saint Ignatius comes to the rescue! In the 13th Rule of Discernment the saint warns us that the devil likes secrecy in the sense that if one is in a profound state of desolation that to open up to a Spiritual Director can conquer the temptation. By clamming up it is like a cut or wound that is hidden beneath a band aid. Until that wound is exposed to the sun and a disinfectant the wound not only will not heal but it will become all the more infected, it will fester and risk the danger of gangrene or worse yet amputation. Once the temptation is revealed to an able Spiritual Director it is often conquered. Overwhelmed by temptation, doubt and confusion shortly before making her vows, St. Therese opened up to her Novice Mistress and Superior revealing her state of soul. Almost immediately the temptation disappeared, she made her vows and went on to be one of the greatest modern saints. What would have happened to her if following the counsel of the devil she kept her state of soul secret? Undoubtedly we would not have Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church.

St. Michael the Archangel. In our battle with Satan we should use all the weapons in our arsenal. God chose Saint Michael the Archangel as the faithful angel, the Prince of the Heavenly Host, to cast into hell Satan and the other rebellious angels. St. Michael, whose name means, “Who is like unto God”, is just as powerful now as he was in the past. In the midst of the storm of temptations, why not lift up your heart to St. Michael and call upon him. You can pray the famous prayer “St. Michael the archangel, defend us in battle….” Or simply beg for his intercession! His help from the heights of heaven will help you to be victor in your combat with the devil.

Mary Most Holy. As a whole the Mexican people have great devotion to Mary, especially under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. However, in Guadalajara, Mexico, in addition to venerating Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe as Patron of Mexico and the Americas, they honor her with another title: “La General del ejercito!”—- meaning that she is the “General of the Army”. In our battle against the ancient serpent, Genesis 3:15 honors the woman who crushes the head of the serpent with her heal. “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between her offspring and yours; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Gen. 3:15). Indeed the ancient serpent the devil can strike out at us with his ugly tongue and spew out venom, but when we rely on and trust in Mary she will crush his ugly head. Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Maria Reina! Long live Jesus and Mary!

via Padre Steve

By Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

Gary Cooper: In the Face of Death


He was one of my favorite actors growing up!

-- Frank James “Gary” Cooper (May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was an American film actor. He was renowned for his quiet, understated acting style and his stoic, individualistic, emotionally restrained, but at times intense screen persona, which was particularly well suited to the many Westerns he made. His career spanned from 1925 until shortly before his death, and comprised more than one hundred films.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Pope Francis - Angelus prayer

Fr. Corapi: Corruption in the Church with Failure in Leadership

Is Confession in Scripture?


The Lord declares in Isaiah 43:25:

I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

Psalm 103:2-3 adds:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…

Many will use these verses against the idea of confession to a priest. God forgiving sins, they will claim, precludes the possibility of there being a priest who forgives sins. Further, Hebrews 3:1 and 7:22-27 tell us Jesus is, “the… high priest of our confession” and that there are not “many priests,” but one in the New Testament—Jesus Christ. Moreover, if Jesus is the “one mediator between God and men” (I Tim. 2:5), how can Catholics reasonably claim priests act in the role of mediator in the Sacrament of Confession?

BEGINNING WITH THE OLD

The Catholic Church acknowledges what Scripture unequivocally declares: it is God who forgives our sins. But that is not the end of the story. Leviticus 19:20-22 is equally unequivocal:

If a man lies carnally with a woman… they shall not be put to death… But he shall bring a guilt offering for himself to the Lord… And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord for his sin which he has committed; and the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him.

Apparently, a priest being used as God’s instrument of forgiveness did not somehow take away from the fact that it was God who did the forgiving. God was the first cause of the forgiveness; the priest was the secondary, or instrumental cause. Thus, God being the forgiver of sins in Isaiah 43:25 and Psalm 103:3 in no way eliminates the possibility of there being a ministerial priesthood established by God to communicate his forgiveness.

OUT WITH THE OLD

Many Protestants will concede the point of priests acting as mediators of forgiveness in the Old Testament. “However,” they will claim, “The people of God had priests in the Old Testament. Jesus is our only priest in the New Testament.” The question is: could it be that “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) did something similar to that which he did, as God, in the Old Testament? Could he have established a priesthood to mediate his forgiveness in the New Testament?

IN WITH THE NEW

Just as God empowered his priests to be instruments of forgiveness in the Old Testament, the God/man Jesus Christ delegated authority to his New Testament ministers to act as mediators of reconciliation as well. Jesus made this remarkably clear in John 20:21-23:

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Having been raised from the dead, our Lord was here commissioning his apostles to carry on with his work just before he was to ascend to heaven. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” What did the Father send Jesus to do? All Christians agree he sent Christ to be the one true mediator between God and men. As such, Christ was to infallibly proclaim the Gospel (cf. Luke 4:16-21), reign supreme as King of kings and Lord of lords (cf. Rev. 19:16); and especially, he was to redeem the world through the forgiveness of sins (cf. I Peter 2:21-25, Mark 2:5-10).

The New Testament makes very clear that Christ sent the apostles and their successors to carry on this same mission. To proclaim the gospel with the authority of Christ (cf. Matthew 28:18-20), to govern the Church in His stead (cf. Luke 22:29-30), and to sanctify her through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist (cf. John 6:54, I Cor. 11:24-29) and for our purpose here, Confession.

John 20:22-23 is nothing more than Jesus emphasizing one essential aspect of the priestly ministry of the apostles: To Forgive men’s sins in the person of Christ— “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained.” Moreover, auricular confession is strongly implied here. The only way the apostles could either forgive or retain sins is by first hearing those sins confessed, and then making a judgment whether or not the penitent should be absolved.

TO FORGIVE OR TO PROCLAIM?

Many Protestants and various quasi-Christian sects claim John 20:23 must be viewed as Christ simply repeating “the great commission” of Matthew 28:19 and Luke 24:47 using different words that mean the same thing:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

… and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations…

Commenting on John 20:23 in his book, Romanism—The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (White Horse Publications, Huntsville Alabama, 1995), p. 100, Protestant Apologist Robert Zins writes:

It is apparent that the commission to evangelize is tightly woven into the commission to proclaim forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus Christ.

Mr. Zin’s claim is that John 20:23 is not saying the apostles would forgive sins; rather, that they would merely proclaim the forgiveness of sins. The only problem with this theory is it runs head-on into the text of John 20. “If you forgive the sins of any… if you retain the sins of any.” The text cannot say it any clearer: this is more than a mere proclamation of the forgiveness of sins—this “commission” of the Lord communicates the power to actually forgive the sins themselves.

FREQUENT CONFESSION

The next question for many upon seeing the plain words of St. John is, “Why don’t we hear any more about Confession to a priest in the rest of the New Testament?” The fact is: we don’t need to. How many times does God have to tell us something before we’ll believe it? He only gave us the proper form for baptism once (Matt. 28:19), and yet all Christians accept this teaching.

But be that as it may, there are multiple texts that deal with Confession and the forgiveness of sins through the New Covenant minister. I will cite just a few of them:

II Cor. 2:10:

And to whom you have pardoned anything, I also. For, what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ (DRV).

Many may respond to this text by quoting modern Bible translations, e.g., the RSVCE:

What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ (emphasis added).

St. Paul, it is argued, is simply forgiving someone in the way any layperson can forgive someone for wrongs committed against him. The Greek word—prosopon—can be translated either way. And I should note here that good Catholics will argue this point as well. This is an understandable and valid objection. However, I do not concur with it for four reasons:

1. Not only the Douay-Rheims, but the King James Version of the Bible—which no one would accuse of being a Catholic translation—translates prosopon as “person.”

2. The early Christians, who spoke and wrote in Koine Greek, at the Councils of Ephesus (AD 431) and Chalcedon (AD 451), used prosopon to refer to the “person” of Jesus Christ.

3. Even if one translates the text as St. Paul pardoning “in the presence of Christ,” the context still seems to indicate that he forgave the sins of others. And notice: St. Paul specifically said he was not forgiving anyone for offenses committed against him (see II Cor. 2:5). Any Christian can and must do this. He said he did the forgiving “for [the Corinthian’s] sakes” and “in the person (or presence) of Christ.” The context seems to indicate he is forgiving sins that do not involve him personally.

4. Just three chapters later, St. Paul gives us the reason why he could forgive the sins of others: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:18). Some will argue that “the ministry of reconciliation” of verse 18 is identical to “the message of reconciliation” in verse 19. In other words, St. Paul is simply referring to a declarative power here. I don’t agree. I argue St. Paul uses distinct terms precisely because he is referring to more than just “the message of reconciliation,” but the same ministry of reconciliation that was Christ’s. Christ did more than just preach a message; he also forgave sins.

James 5:14-17:

Is any one among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain… and… it did not rain…

When it comes to one “suffering;” St. James says, “Let him pray.” “Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise.” But when it comes to sickness and personal sins, he tells his readers they must go to the “elders”—not just anyone—in order to receive this “anointing” and the forgiveness of sins.

Some will object and point out that verse 16 says to confess our sins “to one another” and pray “for one another.” Is not James just encouraging us to confess our sins to a close friend so we can help one another to overcome our faults?

The context seems to disagree with this interpretation for two main reasons:

1. St. James had just told us to go to the presbyter in verse 14 for healing and the forgiveness of sins. Then, verse 16 begins with the word therefore—a conjunction that would seem to connect verse 16 back to verses 14 and 15. The context seems to point to the “elder” as the one to whom we confess our sins.

2. Ephesians 5:21 employs this same phrase. “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” But the context limits the meaning of “to one another” specifically to a man and wife—not just anyone. Similarly, the context of James 5 would seem to limit the confession of faults “to one another” to the specific relationship between “anyone” and the “elder” or “priest” (Gr.—presbuteros).

ONE PRIEST OR MANY?

A major obstacle to Confession for many Protestants (me included when I was Protestant) is that it presupposes a priesthood. As I said above, Jesus is referred to in Scripture as “the apostle and high priest of our confession.” The former priests were many in number, as Hebrews 7:23 says, now we have one priest—Jesus Christ. The question is: how does the idea of priests and confession fit in here? Is there one priest or are there many?

I Peter 2:5-9 gives us some insight:

… and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people…

If Jesus is the one and only priest in the New Testament in a strict sense, then we have a contradiction in Sacred Scripture. This, of course, is absurd. I Peter plainly teaches all believers to be members of a holy priesthood. Priest/believers do not take away from Christ’s unique priesthood, rather, as members of his body they establish it on earth.

FULL AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATIO

If one understands the very Catholic and very biblical notion of participatio, these problematic texts and others become relatively easy to understand. Yes, Jesus Christ is the “one mediator between God and men” just as I Tim. 2:5 says. The Bible is clear. Yet, Christians are also called to be mediators in Christ. When we intercede for one another or share the Gospel with someone, we act as mediators of God’s love and grace in the one true mediator, Christ Jesus, via the gift of participatio in Christ, the sole mediator between God and men (see I Timothy 2:1-7, I Timothy 4:16, Romans 10:9-14). All Christians, in some sense, can say with St. Paul, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” (Gal. 2:20)

PRIESTS AMONG PRIESTS

If all Christians are priests, then why do Catholics claim a ministerial priesthood essentially distinct from the universal priesthood? The answer is: God willed to call out a special priesthood among the universal priesthood to minister to his people. This concept is literally as old as Moses.

When St. Peter taught us about the universal priesthood of all believers, he specifically referred to Exodus 19:6 where God alluded to ancient Israel as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” St. Peter reminds us that there was a universal priesthood among the Old Testament people of God just as in the New Testament. But this did not preclude the existence of a ministerial priesthood within that universal priesthood (see Exodus 19:22, Exodus 28, and Numbers 3:1-12).

In an analogous way, we have a universal “Royal Priesthood” in the New Testament, but we also have an ordained clergy who have priestly authority given to them by Christ to carry out his ministry of reconciliation as we have seen.

TRULY AWESOME AUTHORITY

A final couple of texts we will consider are Matt. 16:19 and 18:18. Specifically, we’ll examine the words of Christ to Peter and the apostles: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” As CCC 553 says, Christ here communicated not only authority “to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church,” but also “the authority to absolve sins” to the apostles.

These words are unsettling, even disturbing, to many. And understandably so. How could God give such authority to men? And yet he does. Jesus Christ, who alone has the power to open and shut heaven to men, clearly communicated this authority to the apostles and their successors. This is what the forgiveness of sins is all about: to reconcile men and women with their heavenly Father. CCC 1445 puts it succinctly:

The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.