Friday, September 2, 2011

Unity under sola Scriptura versus RC sola Ecclesia

Defenders of Roman Catholicism often argue that holding to sola Scriptura - that Scripture is the only assuredly infallible authority on faith and morals, and formally or materially sufficiency in that realm (all other material helps being subject to it - leads to doctrinal anarchy. To this it sets Rome in contrast as possessing uniformity, and which is based upon "sola ecclesia," that the assuredly infallible magisterium is effectively the supreme authority. However, in addition to the latter means being cultic, the boasting of Roman Catholics as having doctrinal unity is limited of infallible teachings, this is not what it is conveyed to be, while unity by the assent of faith which these require is inferior in quality to that of souls being persuaded by Scriptural means, even with the risks that must allow.

In comparing the two, it can be seen that overall SS type churches, who in practice hold to the supremacy of Scripture and its basically literal hermeneutic (evangelicalism) — not that of a man or an office —
overall hold to and have held to many core teachings, including those
which we agree with Rome on (as in the A. creed), due to their degree of Scriptural warrant and corroboration. You will not get far in the world's largest Prot. denom (S. Baptists) or even the Assemblies of God or Calvary Chapel, etc, if you deny such things as the virgin birth, the blood atonement for the forgiveness of sins and other facts of the gospel, the Trinity, etc., and salvation by grace versus preaching one morally earns salvation.

This doctrinal unity is shown in a common front against cults which deny such things, and against teaching as dogma "the tradition of the elders" (Mk. 7:3,5) that fail of scriptural warrant. And while disagreement is allowed in less central doctrinal areas, this is typically limited in scope, with those who exceed such being marked as aberrant by a majority. All this without a central earthly authority, which itself is not contrary to Protestant doctrine, and does exist in denominational levels, but would require such to be realized Scripturally, in accordance with its qualifications and manner of establishing spiritual authenticity and authority, which does not rest on formal decent but the power of God. (Mt. 3:9; mk. 11:28-33; Jn. 8:39,44; Rm.2:28,29)

And due to the power of the "the gospel of the grace of God," (Acts 20:24) evangelicals realize a unity of the Spirit as they walk therein, Christ in them and they in Christ, (Jn. 17:23) which transcends denominations, and is greater than their differences. Whitefield and Wesley contended with each other often strongly over predestination (Rome also had its counterpart:,
yet could share each others pulpit at times, both preaching the
gospel of salvation by God's grace, not appropriated by man moral
deserving it (as what mean earns is damnation), which effects
manifest transformative regeneration. And as a result of this
essential common bond, based upon a common Scripture-based
conversion and relationship, such believers can realize spontaneous
fellowship as well as in formal gatherings and ministries

Meanwhile, RCs also must hold to a few core truths, giving assent of faith to infallible pronouncements, but which requires interpretation in discerning how many of the multitudes of potentially infallible teaching really are, and which themselves can vary in interpretation, while Roman Catholics are allowed varying degrees of dissent in non-infallible teachings,
( which comprise the bulk of what RCs believe and practice. Yet this also is a matter of some interpretation.

In addition, unlike evangelicals which produced extensive commentaries on the Scriptures, Rome has not only infallibly defined very few texts - how many being also a matter of
interpretation - but has historically suppressed Biblical literacy
and and has little in the way of extensive analysis of Scripture,
while its own approved commentary on Scripture in the official Bible
for America (NAB) is critically liberal.

Moreover, evangelicals today, even in our compromised state, evidence greater conservative unity in many core truths and moral views than their RC counterparts, who are
widely divisive, even among clergy, or of those in like
institutionalized faiths. (

This should not minimize the import of divisions, but provide some perspective in its effects. And if unity is itself the goal of the Godly, then cults would be supreme, while division because of truth, (1Cor. 11:19) is greater than unity in

Finally, both systems, that of sola ecclesia and Sola Scriptura, you have an infallible authority which is subject to fallible interpretations, but Rome' claim to be so is effectively based upon her own self-proclamation — she decrees
something according to her infallible criteria and therefore it is —
while Scripture became progressively established as such not by
conciliar ecclesiastical decree, though they can be helpful (and it
toll Rome over 1400 years after the last book was written to provide
an “infallible canon:, but due to its unique heavenly qualities and effects, and other manifest supernatural attestation by God, and the complementarity of its contents. And it is by the “manifestation of the truth” that souls are to be persuaded, as in Scripture, (2Cor. 4:2; 6:1-10; Heb. 2:3,4)

Contradictions in Roman Catholicism

It is too often asserted by Roman Catholics that their church never contradicted itself, but which claim is made under the premise that only infallible statements count, and that Rome defines what a contradiction is, as she has infallibly defined herself as possessing assured infallibility, whenever she speaks in accordance with her infallibly defined (scope and content-based) criteria. 

It is true that under different circumstances laws may change. However, why some were  changed (as in unplanned loss of "coercive power") as well as the kind of interpretations made of some, can presents a strong  case for inconsistencies and  some apparent contradictions.

Note that in the following modern teaching is followed by those from the past, and that I do not claim that are all what Rome asserts are "infallible teachings" (incapable of being in error) and there is some disagreement among Catholics as to what class of magisterial teaching some fall into (and thus what level of assent is required, which a Catholic has a right to know), as there is no infallible list of all infallible teachings.

Contra # 1
On "extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" (outside the Church there is no salvation) 

RCC: 846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?[335] Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:…Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.[336]
[This is somewhat open to interpretation by Roman Catholics,  some of whom understand this as teaching that all must die as Catholics in repentance from typical Protestant "errors" (according to Rome) to be saved, while many  know of the claims of Rome  to be the one true church, but do not know these as being warranted.  And yet in my judgment few Catholics evidently live and  die truly trusting the Lord Jesus to save them by His blood (and thus follow Him), rather than effectively trusting in the power of Rome and or their own merits, both of which Catholicism effectually fosters. May the former ever be my faith, by the mercy of God.]

LUMEN GENTIUM: "..there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (Cf. Jn. 16:13) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical [Protestant] communities…"

"They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood." — LUMEN GENTIUM: 16.

• Dominus Iesus: "those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.” “All who have been justified by Faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ: they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.” —

 John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint (# 84), May 25, 1995 [Speaking of non-Catholic “Churches”]: 83. "I have mentioned the will of the Father and the spiritual space in which each community hears the call to overcome the obstacles to unity. All Christian Communities know that, thanks to the power given by the Spirit, obeying that will and overcoming those obstacles are not beyond their reach. All of them in fact have martyrs for the Christian faith.137 Despite the tragedy of our divisions, these brothers and sisters have preserved an attachment to Christ and to the Father so radical and absolute as to lead even to the shedding of blood..."

Pius XII, Humani Generis (27,28): 
"Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the Sources of Revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing.[6] Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation...These and like errors, it is clear, have crept in among certain of Our sons."

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (# 9): "The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium." Satis Cognitum (# 9): June 29, 1896:

Pope Pius IX, Amantissimus: “There are other, almost countless, proofs drawn from the most trustworthy witnesses which clearly and openly testify with great faith, exactitude, respect and obedience that all who want to belong to the true and only Church of Christ must honor and obey this Apostolic See and Roman Pontiff." Pope Pius IX, Amantissimus (On The Care Of The Churches), Encyclical promulgated on April 8, 1862, # 3.

• Pope Pius IX (1846–1878), Encyclical Singulari Quidem March 17, 1856): There is only one true, holy, Catholic Church, which is the Apostolic Roman Church. There is only one See founded on Peter by the word of the Lord, outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation. He who does not have the Church for a mother cannot have God for a father, and whoever abandons the See of Peter on which the Church is established trusts falsely that he is in the Church. (On the Unity of the Catholic Church)

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam:
We declare, say, define, and pronounce [ex cathedra] that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

"If, therefore, the Greeks or others say that they are not committed to Peter and to his successors, they necessarily say that they are not of the sheep of Christ, since the Lord says that there is only one fold and one shepherd (Jn.10:16). Whoever, therefore, resists this authority, resists the command of God Himself. " — Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (Promulgated November 18, 1302)

Fifth Lateran Council: Moreover, since subjection to the Roman pontiff is necessary for salvation for all Christ's faithful, as we are taught by the testimony of both sacred scripture and the holy fathers, and as is declared by the constitution of pope Boniface VIII of happy memory, also our predecessor, which begins Unam sanctam, we therefore...renew and give our approval to that constitution... Fifth Lateran CouncilSession 11, 19 December 1516,

Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos: Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius [the eastern “Orthodox” schismatics] and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls?...Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned...” Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, PTC:873) The Promotion of True Religious Unity), 11, Encyclical promulgated on January 6, 1928, #11;

•  Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Florence: "The sacrosanct Roman Church...firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that..not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life but will depart into everlasting fire...unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” — Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Florence (Seventeenth Ecumenical Council),  Cantate Domino, Bull promulgated on February 4, 1441 (Florentine style),  [considered infallible by some]

  Pope Innocent III and Lateran Council IV: "One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved, in which the priest himself is the sacrifice, Jesus Christ, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the species of bread and wine; the bread (changed) into His body by the divine power of transubstantiation, and the wine into the blood, so that to accomplish the mystery of unity we ourselves receive from His (nature) what He Himself received from ours." Pope Innocent III and Lateran Council IV (A.D. 1215) [considered infallible by some]

Therefore, if anyone says that it is not by the institution of Christ the lord himself (that is to say, by divine law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema. — Vatican 1, Ses. 4, Cp. 1 

The COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE under Pope John XXIII condemned the proposition of Wycliff that “It is not necessary for salvation to believe that the Roman church is supreme among the other churches.” [inasmuch as it would deny the primacy of the supreme pontiff over the other individual churches.] Session 8—4 May 1415; 

Pius 9, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore: Also well known is the Catholic teaching that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. Eternal salvation cannot be obtained by those who oppose the authority and statements of the same Church and are stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff..” -

St. Thomas Aquinas: It is also shown that to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is necessary for salvation. For Cyril says in his Thesaurus: “Therefore, brethren, if we imitate Christ so as to hear his voice remaining in the Church of Peter and so as not be puffed up by the wind of pride, lest perhaps because of our quarrelling the wily serpent drive us from paradise as once he did Eve.” And Maximus in the letter addressed to the Orientals [Greeks] says: “The Church united and established upon the rock of Peter’s confession we call according to the decree of the Savior the universal Church, wherein we must remain for the salvation of our souls and wherein loyal to his faith and confession we must obey him.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Against the Errors of the Greeks, Pt. 2, ch. 36

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini: "Many Protestants have almost the same practices as we, only they do not submit to the Holy Father and attach themselves to the true Ark of Salvation. They do not want to become Catholics and unite themselves under the banner of truth wherein alone there is true salvation. Of what avail is it, children, if Protestants lead naturally pure, honest lives, yet lack the Holy Ghost? They may well say: 'We do no harm; we lead good lives'; but, if they do not enter the true fold of Christ, all their protestations are in vain." St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, "Travels", Chicago: 1944, pp. 84, 71.

St. Ambrose, "Expl. of Luke: "The Lord severed the Jewish people from His kingdom, and heretics and schismatics are also severed from the kingdom of God and from the Church. Our Lord makes it perfectly clear that every assembly of heretics and schismatics belongs not to God, but to the unclean spirit." St. Ambrose, "Expl. of Luke", ch.7, 91-95; PL 15; SS, vol. II, p. 85, (quoted in The Apostolic Digest, by Michael Malone, Book 4: "The Book of Christians", Chapter 2: "Those Who Reject Christ's Church are Anti-Christian").

Contra 2.

 Lumen Gentium 16: The Moslems together with us adore the one merciful God.” (

  "The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God,...they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God." (Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate 3, October 28, 1965)

CCC: 847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.[337]

 • Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Florence: "The sacrosanct Roman Church...firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that..not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life but will depart into everlasting fire.— Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Florence (Seventeenth Ecumenical Council),  Cantate Domino, Bull promulgated on February 4, 1441 (Florentine style),  [considered infallible by some]

 • Pope Pelagius I: I confess that the Lord will give over by a very just judgment to the punishment of eternal and inextinguishable fire the wicked who either did not know by way of the Lord or, knowing it, left it when seized by various transgressions, in order that they may burn without end. (Attributed to Pope Pelagius I in, “Humani Generis,” April 1, 557 A.D.)

Pope  Gregory "the Great:" The Holy Catholic Church teaches that God cannot be adored except within her fold; she affirms that all those who are separated from her will not be saved. (Pope St. Gregory the Great, “Moralia,” XIV:5)

Pope Pius X: Acts which spring from natural goodness have only the appearance of virtue; they cannot last of themselves nor can they merit salvation. (Pope St. Pius X, “Editae Saepe,” May 26, 1910)

Pope Gregory XIV: He who is separated from the Body of the Catholic Church, however praiseworthy his conduct may seem otherwise, will never enjoy eternal life. (Pope Gregory XIV, “Summo Jugiter,” May 27, 1832)

Pope Pius IX: Neither the true Faith nor eternal salvation is to be found outside the Holy Catholic Church. It is a SIN to believe that there is salvation outside the Catholic Church. (Ven. Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem, March 17, 1856; cf. also OUR GLORIOUS POPES, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cambridge, MA: 1955, p.168)

Pope Pius IX: Error Condemned: Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation. -- Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1846. (Pope Pius IX, “Syllabus of Modern Errors;

Contra 3

 Nostra Aetate: Indeed, the Church deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of anti-semitism levelled at any time or from any source against the Jews (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, “Nostra Aetate,” Oct. 28, 1965)

Pope Innocent III: The crucifiers of Christ ought to be held in continual subjection. (Pope Innocent III, “Epistle to the Hierarchy of France,” July 15, 1205)

Thomas Aquinas: It would be licit, according to custom, to hold the Jews in perpetual servitude because of their crime. (St. Thomas Aquinas, “De Regimine Judaeorum”)

Contra 4

Nostra Aetate: Therefore, the Church reproves as foreign to the mind of Christ any discrimination against people or any harrassment on the basis of race, color, condition in life, or religion. (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, “Nostra Aetate,” Oct. 28, 1965)

Dignitatis Humanae: Religious communities have the right not to be prevented from publicly teaching and bearing witness to their beliefs by the spoken or written word. (Declaration on Religious Freedom, “Dignitatis Humanae,” December 12, 1965)

Pope Gregory XVI: It is insanity to believe that liberty of conscience and liberty of worship are the inalienable rights of every citizen. From this stinking fountain of Indifferentism flows the erroneous and absurd opinion, or rather derangement, that liberty of conscience must be asserted and vindicated for everyone. This most pestilential error opens the door to the complete and immoderate liberty of opinions which works such widespread harm both in Church and State. (Pope Gregory XVI, “Mirari Vos,” August 15,1832)

Pope Pius IX, Error Condemned: Every man is free to embrace and to profess that religion which, led by the light of reason, he shall consider to   true. -- Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862; Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851. (Ven. Pope Pius IX, “Syllabus of Modern Errors,”December 8, 1864;

Contra 5

 Dignitatis Humanae: If special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of the State, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected

 • Pope Pius IX, The Syllabus (of Errors):
[It is error to believe that] Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship.” (Section X, Errors Having Reference to Modern Liberalism, #78.

Pope Pius IX, Error condemned: In this age of ours, it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion be the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other cults whatsoever. In certain regions of Catholic name, it has been praiseworthily sanctioned by law that men immigrating there be allowed to have public exercises of any form of worship of their own. (Pope Pius IX, “Syllabus of Modern Errors,”December 8, 1864)

Contra 6

 Dignitatis Humanae: It is fully in accordance with the nature of Faith that in religious matters every form of coercion by men should be excluded

CCC  2298: In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy [Islam can say the same, but in both cases the religious use of sword of man  is  sanctioned]. She forbade clerics to shed blood [by having the state do it]. In recent times [like the New Testament] it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors [Rome being one of the latter].  

In this regard, I reiterate that the prohibition against torture ‘cannot be contravened under any circumstances’”. — Pope Benedict XVI, in a speech of 6 September 2007; Torture and corporal punishment as a problem in Catholic Theology, September 2005;

..the disciple of Christ rejects every recourse to such methods, which nothing could justify, and by which the dignity of man is as much debased in the torturer as in his victim. . . — Pope John Paul II, Address to the International Red Cross (Geneva, June 15, 1982).

 Pope Leo X: That it is against the will of the Spirit to burn heretics at the stake is condemned as false. (Pope Leo X, “Exsurge Domino,” 1520)

Pope Innocent IV, Ad extirpanda: The head of state or ruler must force all the heretics whom he has in custody,{8} provided he does so without killing them or breaking their arms or legs,as actual robbers and murderers of souls and thieves of the sacraments of God and Christian faith, to confess their errors and accuse other heretics whom they know, and specify their motives, {9} and those whom they have seduced, and those who have lodged them and defended them,as thieves and robbers of material goods are made to accuse their accomplices and confess the crimes they have committed. 

Those convicted of heresy by the aforesaid Diocesan Bishop,surrogate or inquisitors, shall be taken in shackles to the head of state or ruler or his special representative, instantly,or at least within five days, and the latter shall apply the regulations promulgated against such persons [burn them alive]...(;,_SS_Innocentius_IV,_Bulla_%27Ad_Extirpanda%27,_EN.pdf)

• Pope Innocent, in his instruction for the guidance of the Inquisition in Tuscany and Lombardy, ordered the civil magistrates to extort from all heretics by torture a confession of their own guilt and a betrayal of all their accomplices (1252).
This was an ominous precedent, which did more harm to the reputation of the papacy than the extermination of any number of heretics could possibly do it good. (Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume IV: Mediaeval Christianity. A.D. 590-1073.The Torture

Canons of the Ecumenical Fourth Lateran Council, 1215:
We excommunicate and anathematize every heresy that raises against the holy, orthodox and Catholic faith which we have above explained; condemning all heretics under whatever names they may be known, for while they have different faces they are nevertheless bound to each other by their tails, since in all of them vanity is a common element. Those condemned, being handed over to the secular rulers of their bailiffs, let them be abandoned, to be punished with due justice, clerics being first degraded from their orders. 

As to the property of the condemned, if they are laymen, let it be confiscated; if clerics, let it be applied to the churches from which they received revenues. But those who are only suspected, due consideration being given to the nature of the suspicion and the character of the person, unless they prove their innocence by a proper defense, let them be anathematized and avoided by all 1-intil they have made suitable satisfaction; but if they have been under excommunication for one year, then let them be condemned as heretics.

Secular authorities, whatever office they may hold, shall be admonished and induced and if necessary compelled by ecclesiastical censure, that as they wish to be esteemed and numbered among the faithful, so for the defense of the faith they ought publicly to take an oath that they will strive in good faith and to the best of their ability to exterminate in the territories subject to their jurisdiction all heretics pointed out by the Church; so that whenever anyone shall have assumed authority, whether spiritual or temporal, let him be bound to confirm this decree by oath.

But if a temporal ruler, after having been requested and admonished by the Church, should neglect to cleanse his territory of this heretical foulness, let him be excommunicated by the metropolitan and the other bishops of the province. If he refuses to make satisfaction within a year, let the matter be made known to the supreme pontiff, that he may declare the ruler's vassals absolved from their allegiance and may offer the territory to be ruled lay Catholics, who on the extermination of the heretics may possess it without hindrance and preserve it in the purity of faith; the right, however, of the chief ruler is to be respected as long as he offers no obstacle in this matter and permits freedom of action.

The same law is to be observed in regard to those who have no chief rulers (that is, are independent). Catholics who have girded themselves with the cross for the extermination of the heretics, shall enjoy the indulgences and privileges granted to those who go in defense of the Holy Land. (

Pope Innocent IV: Those who have been detected, even by slight proof, to have deviated from the doctrine of the Catholic religion ought to fall under the classification of heretic and under the sentences operating against heretics. (Pope Innocent IV, “Registers of Innocent IV,” Berger, Paris:1881)

Contra 7

 Rome, Italy, Feb 19, 2010 / 02:03 pm (CNA).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, announced this week that Pope Benedict XVI will visit the Evangelical Lutheran Church located in Rome on March 14 for an ecumenical celebration.

•  Pope John Paul II took part in a  normal Advent service at the Evangelical Lutheran Christ Church on Dec. 11, in which he bowed toward his head and joined with Pastor Meyer in reciting the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer. In reference to Luther  five centuries after his birth, the pope said,  ''we see as if in a distance the dawning of the advent of a reconstruction of our unity and community.'' (NY Times, December 12, 1983;

• “the Church forbids the faithful to communicate with those unbelievers who have forsaken the faith they once received, either by corrupting the faith, as heretics, or by entirely renouncing the faith, as apostates, because the Church pronounces sentence of excommunication on both.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica)

•  How does a Catholic sin against faith? A Catholic sins against Faith by Apostasy, heresy, indifferentism and by taking part in non-Catholic worship....when he intends to identify himself with a religion he knows is defective." (Baltimore Catechism Q. #205;

•  ...”in the case of simple people and those who are weak in the faith, whose perversion is to be feared as a probable result, they should be forbidden to communicate with unbelievers, and especially to be on very familiar terms with them, or to communicate with them without necessity.”  (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Article 9. “Whether it is lawful to communicate with unbelievers?”

•  “...this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics.” (Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, 10,11;

•  1917 Code of Canon Law: "It is not permitted at all for the faithful to assist in any active manner at or to have any part in the worship of non-Catholics." (1917 Code of Canon Law states: that:Canon 1258)

Contra 9

 Canon 229 §1. Lay persons are bound by the obligation and possess the right to acquire a knowledge of Christian doctrine adapted to their capacity and condition so that they can live in accord with the doctrine, announce it, defend it when necessary, and be enabled to assume their role in exercising the apostolate.

 We furthermore forbid any lay person to engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith. Whosoever shall act contrary to this decree, let him be bound in the fetters of excommunication. — Pope Alexander IV (1254-1261) in “Sextus Decretalium”, Lib. V, c. ii:

Quinisext Ecumenical Council, Canon 64: That a layman must not publicly make a speech or teach, thus investing himself with the dignity of a teacher, but, instead, must submit to the ordinance handed down by the Lord, and to open his ear wide to them who have received the grace of teaching ability, and to be taught by them the divine facts thoroughly.

See Roman Catholicism's attitude and regulation of Bible reading here.