Jun 29, 2014
Summer has officially arrived. I hope everyone is able to take some time for recreation and vacation. We all need an opportunity for relaxation and rejuvenation.
In this spirit, I am going to step away from writing for the next few weeks. Instead, my column will offer teachings from the Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) pamphlet “Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked.” By the way, OSV offers a regular pamphlet series on various Catholic issues/teachings. Check out their website for more info.
Summer blessings, Fr. Brian
We Catholics are often asked tough questions about our Catholic faith and its relationship to the Bible. Here are the ten most-asked questions, and the answers that should help you satisfy both your questioner and yourself.
10. Are your beliefs found in the Bible?
All Catholic beliefs can be found in the Bible in some form, whether plainly or by an indirect indication. It is not necessary for everything to be absolutely clear in Scripture alone, because that is not a teaching of Scripture itself. Scripture also points to an authoritative Church and Tradition, as St. Paul says in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians: “Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess 2:15 — see also 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 3:6; 2 Tim 1:13 14, 2:2). When the first Christians had a significant disagreement, they didn’t simply open their Bibles (which didn’t even exist at that point) to decide who was right; they held a council, which made binding decrees (Acts 15: 1-29). The very books of the Bible had to be determined by the Church, and that didn’t happen until the late fourth century. Therefore, Sacred Tradition and authority were necessary for us to even have a Bible today.
9. Why do you obey the Pope?
Catholics believe that Jesus commissioned St. Peter as the first leader of the Church. Matthew’s Gospel has the most direct biblical indication of the papacy: “And I tell you, you are Peter (meaning literally “Rock”), and on this rock I will build my church…I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16: 18-19). Based on this statement of Jesus himself, Peter is clearly portrayed in the New Testament as the leader of the disciples. A pope can make infallible, binding pronouncements under certain conditions. Infallibility doesn’t mean that absolutely everything a pope says is free from error. All Christians believe that God protected Holy Scripture from error by means of inspiration, even though sinful, fallible men wrote it. We Catholics also believe that God the Holy Spirit protects His Church and its head from error (Jn 14:16) by means of infallibility, even though sinful, imperfect men are involved in it.