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If you’re not Catholic, then Foxtrot Oscar July 24, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, World Affairs.

I attended a remembrance mass recently, on the occasion of my late father’s 11th anniversary. I am not a regular church goer but do have my own beliefs … the problem is unfortunately, that every time I attend a Catholic ceremony or mass, my faith in the church into which I was baptised, rapidly diminishes … last weekend I was deeply ashamed.

The reason ? Well the Pope has published a document entitled “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church” (the link is to the Vatican’s website). In it, he asserts that other churches i.e. ones other than the Catholic Church, “cannot be called churches in the proper sense” … so in other words, the Catholic Church is the one, true church and provides the only means of salvation.

Horseshit, Horseshit, Horseshit ! How can any church reserve the ultimate right to be right ? OK, so the Catholic Church believes one thing and the other Christian denominations believe another … listen people, God is not the personal property of any church ! God, if one believes in that higher power, is there for every man, woman and child on the planet …. Catholic, Muslim, Jew, Protestant, tall, small, fat, black, white, yellow, dead or otherwise …

How dare someone claim the right to God ? I do not want to be part of a church that doesn’t recognise the validity of, for example, my wife’s claim to be part of her own “church” … ah sure she’s one of them Protestants – sure they’re not in a real church at all !

The document goes on to say that “Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” – that may be true – He may have had a part in the establishment of one church but why does that then make it the only one worth a damn ? The arrogance of these people is unreal – horror stories from 1950s theocratic Ireland that my father and mother used to tell me about come flooding back …

Back to my father’s mass – to cap it all off the celebrant was what we might call in the locality “a strange priest” – now that normally means a priest from out of town … but in this case it had many meanings …

He preached a little on the documents that had recently been released and mentioned the Tridentine Mass etc. and then came to the crux of the document above … he explained why the other churches weren’t “real churches” and why we should agree with the Holy Father.  To top it off he said … “And in this country, other churches means the Church of Ireland” … you could hear the vitriol in his voice on the word Church. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the congregation and my mother had to hold me down, lest I walk out, which I firmly felt like doing – on him and his snide assumption of utter correctness and on the whole goddamn lot of them …

Someone said to me outside “Well sure the Pope said it” … to which I tersely replied “Well the Pope’s an arsehole … and if I met him I’d tell him so !”. I f*cking hate religious bigots. He’s only one step up from someone who’d strap a belt of semtex on himself, walk into a supermarket and flip the switch !

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1. John - July 24, 2007

You obviously did not read the document or you do not understand it. On the issue of salvation, the Pope stated: “These separated churches and communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.”

2. Rambling Man - July 24, 2007

thanks john – i read the document. i think i understand what it is trying to say and that is, fundamentally, that the catholic church is better, or rather more true, than any (all) other bodies which wish to call themselves christian churches …

I cannot accept this. what is your view ? and is there not a contradition in terms in the quote you gave above ?

If the RCC believes that other churches are defective, and their value ‘derives’ from the ‘fullness’ only entrusted to it, that backs up my point of the RCC seeing themselves as better or the only ones to be properly regarded “a church”.

Furthermore – so the RCC believes that the ‘church of christ’ subsists in and “can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely”. what says that to and of other christian denominations ?

And what of other religions ? Islam ? Judaism ? do similar thought processes apply to them ?

3. John - July 24, 2007

In an official Vatican document entitled “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine O The Church” which was promulgated by the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy See clearly reaffirmed the ancient doctrine concerning the Church instituted by Christ on Earth: “[Christ] established here on earth only one Church and instituted it as a visible and spiritual community, that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic …. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him.” (Endnotes and internal quotation marks omitted.)

Since most Christians accept the fact that Christ instituted “one holy catholic and apostolic” church, Protestants included, and since Christ entrusted its governance to St. Peter and his successors, those who reject the authority of the Church or the Holy See have voluntarily withdrawn from the true Church.

Nothing in the preceding two paragraphs is new. Why become upset because the Pope teaches Catholic doctrine?

As far as Jews, Muslims, etc. are concerned, NOTHING in the Pope’s recent doctrine excludes their salvation. Don’t read more into the matter than necessary.

4. Rambling Man - July 24, 2007

thanks john.
i am upset that a church which i am a member of teaches and believes that other denominations are not real churches … i guess i didn’t know the extent of this kind of teaching …

can you give an explanation as to what might befall members of churches other than the rc ? does this church only believe it’s members and no other denominations members will be saved come judgement day ?

fair enough – the pope is “only preaching catholic doctrine” and there may be “nothing new” in what he has said but that doesn’t make it any more palatable to me ! or any less wrong to make someone like my wife (CofI) feel awkward sitting in a catholic mass !

5. GerryOS - July 24, 2007

The flippin’ cheek of that Pope! Doesn’t he know that the One True Faith is Pastafarianism, and that there is no god but The Flying Spaghetti Monster (blessed be his Noodly Appendages.)

6. John - July 24, 2007


P. May the Noodle be with you.

R. And with your pasta bowl.


7. John - July 24, 2007

Rambling Man:

The Church does NOT teach that salvation can only be accomplished by members of the Catholic Church. That was one of the main points of the recent document. As I quoted in a previous post, the Hoy Spirit works through ALL churches (Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Polish National Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East), as well as Ecclesial Communities (Protestants). As far as non-Christians are involved, some of the venerated Saints predate the death of Christ: the Holy Innocents; Saint Agnes, Saint Joseph, all of the Old Testament prophets, etc. As to non-Abrahamic faiths (Shinto, Hindu, etc.), look at the Catholic Church’s Doctrine of Invincible Ignorance.

The Jews, as a people, may not even require Christianity at all. God never abrogated the original Covenant of Abraham. Do a google search on the “Two Covenants Theory” which finds support in the Prayer for the Jews during the Good Friday liturgy of the Veneration of the Cross (as set forth in the Missal of Paul VI).

An infinitely good and merciful God does not punish good people – whatever their religious beliefs – by eternal damnation.

8. Rambling Man - July 25, 2007

theres obviously a big difference between what god is and what that priest was preaching then … he delighted in the fact.

is the fact that the RCC is the “one true church” not contradictory to the fact that other religions, can then be saved ?

9. Gabby Hayes - July 25, 2007

Good man John!
“An infinitely good and merciful God does not punish good people – whatever their religious beliefs – by eternal damnation.”

Well didn’t he turn Lot’s wife into a pillar a salt for the outrageous sin of looking over her shoulder,
Gave out yards about Adam atin some fruit (that he knew he was going to ate anyway) “Thus bringing death into existence for the first time”
Killed all those wicked first born in Aygypt at the Passover..

..a right funny man God, ha?

10. Gabby Hayes - July 25, 2007

I have a few theological issues for The Ramblin Man:

One dies and either goes to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory…
then, on the last day, the day of judgment, all those already dead since “day one” will rise again and be judged (again, why?)

And another thing, what form could we all then take? That of the ould man of 90 or a 22 year old version forevermore? And what of the fertilized human eggs that were never even known of by the mother?

Why can’t we find the incorrupted bodies of a few of the 12 apostles?

How come for all the prayers and rosaries, that the Crusades failed?

Why should we pray for vocations when God should be actively pursuing that line of enquiry without any encouragement?

How come God was satisfied to have his own son crucified…just to appease himself for the “sins of man” ?

The intercessions of saints, are they constantly pleading before a high and mighty spirit for the likes of Johnny to pass his exams, Mary to “get into the bank”….meanwhile people starving to death in poverty are simply subject to “an act of God”?

I’ll tell you this much, if I ever, EVER meet this God, there’ll be one big drawing down!

11. Rambling Man - July 25, 2007

arra gabby you should start your own religion !

12. Gabby Hayes - July 25, 2007

John, can you answer me this:

If God is infinitely merciful, why then doesn’t He let everyone into Heaven (as me father used say “irregardless”).
Otherwise what does the phrase infinitely merciful mean? That He’s merciful alright..but

is mise le meas,

13. Gabby Hayes - July 25, 2007

Another wan for John:

Those who are not saved, go to Hell.

Why should The Devil, being the divil he is, do God’s bidding by torminting those whose only crime was to follow the unrighteous path as promoted by the very same Devil?

It’s almost as if he’s acting as a kind of jailer for God.

Le dea mhéin,


14. Gabby Hayes - July 25, 2007

Ceisteanna breise ar John,

D’ainneoin ceist eiseadh Dé ar fad:

Why was The Holy Father, Pius XII, very friendly with Archbishop Stepinac, a man who was the spiritual father of the Ustasha regime in Croatia?

Come to think of it why did Vatican officials aid the post-war escape to Argentina of Ante Pavelic, the Ustasha leader who organized the murder and torture of hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens?

Did not The Holy Father actively support Francisco Franco as well?

And where does all the foregoing leave the Fifth Commandment..or is it the fifth amendment?

Is mise,


15. Rambling Man - July 25, 2007

gabby – i get the feeling that (a) john is no longer online and (b) you could go on for ever !

16. Rambling Man - July 25, 2007

btw i would just like to say that i’ve no problem with anyone beliveing anything or any doctrine … its the imposition of one belief on top of or as better than another, is the thing i can’t stand.

oh, that and i want someone to expain to me properly the religion into which i was baptised.

17. Gabby Hayes - July 25, 2007

..and that wan about man being made in God’s likeness, having to take a rest on the seventh day after a long week’s creativity; does that mean that God has to have His toenails clipped?

18. John - July 25, 2007

Gabby Hayes:

What does the evil of some imperfect human beings have to do with any of the issues in these posts? They do not prove nor disprove that God exists or fails to exist. They are likewise irrelevant to any discussion on eternal salvation.

BTW, I don’t know about Pius XII, and the jury is still out. Lots of different opinions on him.

Finally, I’m in the USA and its only 9:15 a.m. here.

19. John - July 25, 2007

Rambling Man:

You really have “no problem with anyone believing anything or any doctrine”? What about jihad? What about religious doctrines which requires that believers spread the faith by the sword?

Some doctrines are unworthy of belief.

20. Gabby Hayes - July 25, 2007

Well sure I’m sure that the answer is

When a prayer is answered:
“Oh I have a very personal relationship with God” or
“Oh sure there’s great blessings to be got from devotion to Padre Pio”
“Oh sure the victory at Lepanto was a miracle”
“There tis out!”

And when a prayer is not answered:

“Oh God’s ways are not our ways, my son” or
“Oh sure twas a blessing in disguise” or
“Ah but think of the graces to be got from the offering up of suffering” or
“God allows Mother Church to suffer persecution….so as to be nearer Himself” and bizarrely..
“Ah sure God is good!”

21. John - July 25, 2007


Do you really want to discuss the ageless problem of the existence of evil? Take a look at St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica. You also apparently take issue with the very nature and existence of God as an eternal being. Fair enough, but just as proofs for the existence of God all ultimately fail, so do proofs opposing the existence of God.

Instead, theological belief is grounded not in rational human thought, i.e. that which we can know by our own intuition and deduction, but rather through the benefit of Devine revelation.

We, as humans, do not have the complete picture of God, and we probably never will. Some of his actions are incomprehensible from our prospective, but if God exists, they must be reasonable in some manner.

22. John - July 25, 2007


In my experience God always answers prayers. Unfortunately, the answer is usually “No.”

23. John - July 25, 2007

Sorry, meant to say perspective, not prospective.

24. Gabby Hayes - July 25, 2007

Do ye notice that His Holiness is gone bould about The Theory of Evolution?

Apparently there’s gaps in the fossil record…that indicate that God was at work.

Find a new fossill to put in any gap, and what do you think happens? Why there’s now twice as many gaps!

So here is the logic; Evolution must provide mountains of evidence, any bit of which can be mercilessly “explained away”, thus demolishing the entire theory BUT you must not apply logic to the tenets of Christianity, thats man’s (faulty) reason, you just need faith.


25. John - July 25, 2007

Rambling Man:

Meant to say this earlier. The priest at your father’s memorial Mass is either a dolt or an a-hole. Maybe both. The fact that he wears a Roman collar doesn’t mean that he is religious. Just look at any of the d’Medici Popes. They make Mafia Godfathers look like choirboys.

26. John - July 25, 2007


The Pope is a religious leader, not a scientist. Pope Benny never said that Catholics cannot believe in evolution. JPII, in fact, stated that evolution is probably right from a scientific point of view. What IS required, though, at some point humans were infused with an immortal soul. Whether humans suddenly popped into existence or slowly evolved over eons is really beside the point.

Finally, evolution doesn’t preclude Devine assistance. Look at the “Irreducible Complexity Theory” subset of the “Intelligent Design” argument.

27. Rambling Man - July 25, 2007

john you’re right – i should’ve added i have “no problem with anyone believing anything or any doctrine, as long as it does no harm to anybody else”.
gentlemen (or people, if gabby is a woman !) – thank you both for your views.

28. John - July 25, 2007

Rambling Man:

We are in agreement. My neighbor – for some unexplained reason – worships rocks. That’s OK with me solong as he doesn’t use one to crush my skull.

29. John - July 25, 2007

BTW, I’m not kidding about my neighbor. He’s an American Indian who believes in a traditional animist set of beliefs.

30. Rambling Man - July 25, 2007

“everything has a spirit” sort of a deal ? maybe he’s right
oh and re: the priest at my dad’s mass – yes i take your point … he may not be indicative of the overall RC teachings but he was, at that important time for my family, their voice …

31. John - July 25, 2007

“Everything has a spirit” is exactly what he believes. I agree that maybe he is right. Thankfully, he has a great sense of humor and doesn’t take offense when one of the guys at our local refers to a short distance as “a stone’s throw away.”

32. John - July 25, 2007

As far as the priest is concerned, I’d complain to your Bishop. Canon 213 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states “Christ’s faithful have the right to be assisted by their Pastors from the spiritual riches of the Church, especially by the word of God and the sacraments” (Can. 208 through 223 are informally called the Catholic Bill of Rights.)

Sounds like he violated the above-quoted provision by preaching obvious religious bigotry..

33. Gabby Hayes - July 25, 2007

Dúirt John:
“Pope Benny never said that Catholics cannot believe in evolution. ”

What!? A la carte Christianity? From Benedict XVI?
One cannot, (Jesuits aside) reconcile Genesis with Darwinism. either you accept one (or at least a variant thereof) or the other.

The reason His Holiness is acting thus is precicely because he knows that Genesis is 100% unbelievable to any person on the basis of pure logic (light created one day and the sun a few days later, snakes condemned to crawl on their bellies for tempting Adam…what did they crawl on before that? etc etc). This is, inter alia, the reason why the Church disliked people reading the bible, because of course being intelligent men they reckoned correctly that it undermines the faith, and the livelihoods therefrom derived. In fact any honest person who reads it (the inspired work of God) could only conclude it to be an idiotically worthless document from start to finish.

So therefore we need..Tradition! Thomas Aquinas provided the intellectual meat to impress those rich enough to be clergy. But Aquinas’ arguments or “proofs” as he calls them are just a sickly graft of mere assertions, sophistry and circular arguments. Impressive (perhaps) in the 1200s but were effortlessly and embarrasingly demolished by the 1700s at the latest.

I am very well aquainted with the “Irreducible Complexity Theory” and “Intelligent Design” and again, believe me, they hold not a drop of water. It amuses me that today’s Christians, when faced with rational attack to their beliefs do not mount a strong all sided defence, but rather are happy just to plant a tiny little doubt out there, run away and refuse to fight, and hope no-one comes after them to question them further. Materialism falls, they say, if you can’t plug all and every gap in Darwin’s theory but anything like the same burden of proof CANNOT apply in the other direction!

Yet Christians have no bother disbelieving in the existence of Zeus, Krishna and in whatever them Shinto lads believe. All perfectly logical not to accept these gods, but not this God, oh God no! Only evil, quare irrational people could disbelieve in this lad, the fountain of all holiness, seat of wisdom, the foundation of all morality!

But who remembers the name of Christ’s Vicar at the time of Galileo’s imprisonment? Ah sure, God knows!

Is mise,

34. Rambling Man - July 25, 2007

john – you’ll have to forgive gabby and a few of his irish colloquialisms !

35. John - July 25, 2007

Sorry for the delay. Lots of websites are down, including this one, and several of my local news sites have been hacked (One local site announced that a local teenager was killed by a band of vicious rabbits!). I think that a denial of service attack has happened.

Now that we’re back in touch, I need to say several things. One, I’m not at all put out by Gabby’s “Irish colloquialisms.” I’m an American, but both of my parents are Irish – my Mother is from Donegal and my Father is from Kerry. I guess that explains my argumentativeness (and my fondness for beer one of which I am enjoying now.)

Second, to Gabby: As I said in an earlier post, the existence of God cannot be rationally proven. Neither can his lack of existence be proven. Theology is the realm of Devine revelation. If you don’t believe, I can accept that. I hope that you can also accept that I do believe in an omnibenevolent, omnicient, omnipotent and all merciful God. Let’s face it, you cannot disprove it! I’m a lawyer by profession. In the legal field, we have a saying: “reasonable people can disagree.”

As for Genesis, I don’t believe that the Church teaches that the story of creation is factual. Instead, it is a simple allegory explaining that Whatever happens, and whenever it occurs, there is a Devine presence therein.

Oh, BTW, even though I am American born, I hold an Irish passport and have visited quite regularly since I was an infant. In fact, my best friend from Philadelphia, PA was born in Tyrone, and he and his wonderful family returned there for good about 12 years ago.

36. John - July 25, 2007


BTW, Shintoism is very similar to my American Indian friend’s beliefs; they are animists, and they especially worship ancestors who have gone on to become gods.

While I’m talking about my neighbor, I have to relate a funny tale. One day, we were sitting on his porch when a bus load of pilgrims to the Shrine of St. Katerine Drexel (very close to my home) broke down. St. Katherine Drexel, BTW, was very instrumental in educating and caring for black and American Indian children, so my neighbor was quite aware of her.

Anyway, the bus which had suffered some type of mechanical failure was filled with people from a local Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, which is composed of Asian Indians. In view of the fact that my neighbor is an American, and because the bus was filled with Asian Indians, it was quite humorous to hear him utter the immortal words of Geo. A. Custer (of Custer’s Last Stand fame): “Did you ever see so many damn Indians?”

37. John - July 25, 2007


The Pope – B16 – must have been reading this magnificent blog. Today, he clearly said that evolution is consistent with belief. He mentioned that a creationism vs. evolution argument is absurd. Both can reasonably coexist. Here is a cite for an article concerning the matter: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19956961/

38. Rambling Man - July 25, 2007

thanks john – i must check that out … i’ve enjoyed your entries on this blog

39. John - July 25, 2007

Rambling Man:

You are truly a gentleman and a scholar. I have enjoyed our correspondence, and I hope it will continue.

40. John - July 25, 2007

Rambling Man:

Please see my comment regarding your blog entry entitled “Up and down for Irish at Carnoustie ” I think you’ll find it humorous.

It’s now about 8:15 p.m. here, so I’ll say “good night” to all.

41. John - July 25, 2007


You too. Your correspondence is enlightening, and I enjoy it. Good night. Hope to hear from you again (even though you have a very faint chance of convincing me of your apparent heretical beliefs! Just kidding.) LOL.

42. Gabby Hayes - July 26, 2007

Long Live the Pope!

43. Gabby Hayes - July 26, 2007

..agus go maire John an céad is fiche!

44. John - July 26, 2007

Gabby and R-Man:
I’ve had a horrible day. I had to appear before a judge who I dislike. More importantly, he dislikes me. Anyway, it was supposed to be a routine hearing, and I wasn’t expecting anything to the contrary. When the judge said he had “an idea how to dispose of the case,” my jaws simply worked or their own accord, and said “I thought I smelled something burning.” Things became progressively worse – to the point that I thought that I might be jailed. Fortunately, its over and I’m still free.

To Gabby: Tá fáilte romhat.

45. John - July 26, 2007

Sorry, should read “my jaws simply worked ON their own accord.”

46. Rambling Man - April 15, 2008

i’ve just been reading back over this series of comments and quite enjoyed it. hope you are well john …

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