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Monday, January 28, 2008

Work of the Devil, or work of the Holy Spirit?

Sad. That's all I can say, and how I feel, when I read about the common Protestant charge about the Church, in communion with the bishop of Rome, is the Whore of Babylon. Also, that the pope and the papacy is anti-Christ, and so on. While I can sympathize with the concern about Christians being misled, I obviously disagree from my perspective as a Catholic. Does Rome drive out demons in the name by the prince of demons? Do Catholics baptize in the name of the devil? Do the works of charity and mercy practiced by the Church scream of evil?

Or is the Catholic Church on earth, like any human institution, filled with saints who are also sinners? Does this exclude the work of the Holy Spirit within it anyway?

Our Lord was also charged with being of the devil in today's Gospel reading (Mark 3:22-30). I guess his answer is twofold: first, consider the fruits of his works and the logic of the charges in that perspective; second, his accusers should be careful whom they end up insulting.

Among those who still see the Catholic Church as diabolical, they are happy enough to take for themselves the traditions that the Church established centuries ago, e.g., Nicene Creed, the canon of the New Testament, the doctrines on the Trinity, the hypostatic union of Christ's two natures, and a few more. Regardless of how crucial these truths were, and despite their roots in the Catholic Church that did have bishops and councils and communion (of a less defined sort) with Rome, they cannot see past the bitter charges. Even after having discovered the frauds of the Maria Monks, Alberto Riveras and Jack Chicks, and even after discovering that their own congregations and leaders are also sinful, that they also made doctrinal mistakes, they don't let up. I'm not talking about all Protestants here. I know many who are happy enough to drop the Whore of Babylon or Anti-Christ labels. But others continue to wave them around. I would be the first to say that this is understandable if some grave injustice or uncharity was perhaps visited upon them by Catholic leaders in the past. But I continue to pray and hope that the Holy Spirit will heal their hurts, open their eyes, and allow them to get past the labels, finally sitting down to examine the doctrines and history of the Catholic Church with charitable criticism.

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