Rome Pulls One Over on Palau

(see post below for context)

Just two weeks prior to the Luis Palau Heartland Festival, which was endorsed by Omaha’s archbishop, the Vatican released a clarifying statement regarding its view of Protestant churches. Here is an excerpt:

QUESTION: Why do the texts of the [Second Vatican] Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

RESPONSE: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.

In other words, while Palau and his organization were inviting Roman Catholics to participate in their festival in the name of unity, Rome was clarifying that it does not consider any Reformed or Protestant church to be worthy of the title “church.”

Congrats to the Catholics for being very clear on where they stand theologically. I only wish Omaha’s evangelical community could be equally clear on where it stands theologically.


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  1. We (Omaha evangelicals) believe the gospel is best preached on wheels (preferably motorcycles, skateboards, or bikes). We also believe Jesus can turn watered-down contemporary Christian music into some type of musical wine. And we believe the whole of our law can be summed up in those two points.

    I think we’ve been more than clear on what we believe theologically.

  2. Well, It was the Pope (or Rome, broadly) that made this statement, not “Catholics” in general. I agree that evangelicals should know more of what we believe and why.


  3. Aaron,

    Not sure exactly what distinction you’re trying to draw there… does the Pope/magisterium not speak for “Catholics in general?” In fact, do his proclamations not carry the same weight as Scripture, in the Roman Catholic view? Why are you distinguishing between what the Pope believes and what “Catholics in general” believe?

  4. That is one thing that I noticed this last week as I had the opportunity to discuss different issues with family members close to me who are Catholic. They tend to come from the position that there is a difference between what the Pope/Catholic Church says and what they believe to be true in their mind (maybe heart). I myself became a little frustrated with this. Wanting to remind them of what the Catholic Church believes in various doctrines and having them say that is tradition, but not necassarily what the they believe. That being said, they would proclaim allegence to the Roman Catholic Church to this day.
    I find it very important coming off of this to have a good theological basis for our faith and allow our worship of Jesus to come out of that.

  5. Food for thought:

    Commentary: Pope’s comments irrelevant to non-Catholics By Roland S. Martin
    CNN Contributor

    This short article isn’t theologically deep, but it makes a good point:

    “Protestant leaders: Don’t buy into the foolishness. Let Pope Benedict XVI keep running off at the mouth and making pointless declarations. If you keep bringing good news to the poor, setting the captives free and assisting those who seek to know Jesus, then you’ll make more headway in doing the work of Jesus than any 16-page document will.”

  6. I’m kind of surprised that the pope’s statement is considered such a big revelation. I’ve always thought that Catholics viewed other Christian “ecclesial communities” as something other than the Church. At any rate, if the pope had said anything different, then Catholics would have to go back and rewrite (or re-explain) many of their doctrines…

    Also, as a side note, the Catholic-Palau thing doesn’t bother me too much…If he had included the Mormom church, I think that would be a problem. The polygamy tent might have been too big of a draw.

  7. Bob,. . .

    You said “congrats to the Catholics for being very clear on where they stand”. But, they’re not being clear. . the Pope is. 🙂 (I know He’s the infallible head of the church, but obviously, in Omaha and Boulder and other places. . all is not clear there)

    I hear what you’re saying. .but to turn it around. . . I think you and a few other churches in Omaha are very clear on what they believe. . .but, as you say, . . the Omaha evangelical community as a whole is not clear.

    In other words. . I think Omaha Evangelicals are just about as clear as Catholics on where they stand 🙂


  8. sorry for the anonymousness (sp?)

    agreed. . .Some catholics I’ve talked to were like “so what. . . If you look in history, he had a right to make that statement”.

    Bob, can you imagine being on those ecumenical coucils in Europe with Catholics trying to forge a bond that isn’t there? That would be frustrating to say the least. . .


  9. Bob,

    “In fact, do his proclamations not carry the same weight as Scripture, in the Roman Catholic view? Why are you distinguishing between what the Pope believes and what “Catholics in general” believe?”

    I could be very wrong, but I don’t think that everything that the pope says is considered infallible or carry the same weight of scripture. There are different authorities on which he speaks. It is relatively rare when the pope proclaims something as infallible. This leaves room for diversity within the catholic community.


  10. Derrick, notice that I did not say that everything the Pope says is considered infallible, but rather that his proclamations “carry the same weight as Scripture” according to Catholic doctrine. Which is verified by the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, section 85:

    “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”

    See also these statements:

    “…the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” – Catechism of the RC Church, 882.

    “The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.” – Catechism of the RC Church, 100.

    It should be relatively clear to all readers that “Catholics in general” are not allowed to differ with the magisterium’s interpretation of Scripture.

  11. Obviously I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but what I think is that there are the tares that aren’t really a part of the body of Christ. Then there are people who are a part of the body of Christ whos theology is off the mark. Actually, I think no ones theology is totally correct in this life as God exists in eternity past and we only live around 80 to 100 years in this state.

    Luis said that he doesn’t like the music at his festivals. He’s not into the BMX and skating, but he loves the kids who are. He cares about the kids who do like the music, as does Jesus. The festvals are for everyone, not just those who have their theology together. The organizers specifically did not want only Christians to attend. The Catholics had some tents as did tons of other folks. I don’t think they were actually on stage presenting their views. Personally, I’m glad Catholics came. Nick Buras

  12. From the third question of the letter:

    “It follows that 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, …

    I take this to mean the Catholic church has allowed for the possibility of people receiving salvation in our ‘defective’ communities. Is this the position of the Catholic church generally?

  13. Bob,

    You said you wished that the evangelical community would be as “clear” on where they stand Theologically as Catholics.

    Don’t you think the only way that could happen is for there to be a spokesman who would speak for a broad range of Evangelicals? Would we want that?


  14. Maybe this post is because I don’t get half the theological stuff and am too lazy to look up anathema, so take it with a grain of salt. All of this talk about theology is fine and dandy. But all this theology should be doing a couple of things to us.

    A) It should cause us to worship. Like Bob said Sunday, good theology brings about rich meaningful worship. Who wants to worship something they don’t know anything about (or be worshipped by someone who doesn’t know them…I think that’s called stalking and is kind of creepy)?

    B) It should cause us to ask a couple of questions. 1. Are Catholics (individually; as a whole) saved? Will they worship God with us in Heaven? 2. If they are not, what are we as Coram Deo going to do about it? In my experience, a lot of Catholics are, as Justin said in the previous post, “in that religion because of family tradition and upbringing.” They are stuck there because they don’t know truth. Or, they have so much rebelled against their family upbringing that they are against church entirely. They have been enslaved to tradition for so long that they just want to be completely removed from religion. They don’t know what true spirituality means. At Coram Deo we have strived to be a church that engages the culture and people who aren’t necessarily inclined towards church. So how do we engage the Catholics of our city who have been burned by bad theology and a wrong understanding of God? Maybe a big festival works for those who are inclined towards church and tradition and think God is swell. But how do we as a church engage the large Catholic population? I have been struggling with this for a long time…frankly, I don’t have the slightest idea where to begin.

    Oh yeah…Bob, when is the next Sunday Night School of Theology starting?

  15. Brothers and Sisters-

    I believe that evangelicals could be much clearer on where they stand theologically if they were confessional. This means that one believes in the Bible as confessed by a certain confessional or creedal document. In our case, the reformed-protestant witness to the faith, some of our confessions are the Three Forms of unity (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dordt), and the Westminster Confession of Faith. These were composed by a plurality of lawfully elected bishops (elders, presbyters, etc.), in various times and places. Thus I believe the best way for evangelicals to start to regain their lost identity and produce true biblical unity that we desire is to recover the reformed confessions.

    This is much different than the one man, the Pope, speaking ex-cathedra and binding the Roman churches conscience, an authority only given to the Word of God.

    So in answer to Aaron’s comment, no, I would say there is a much better, biblical way to coagulate theologically as evangelicals.

    In Him,

  16. If you don’t believe what [insert name of charismatic evangelical pastor here] believes, you are not a Christian, and you are going to hell. Isn’t that the core of evangelical theology in Omaha?

  17. Lane – Yes.

    Patrick – Good stuff.

    Austin – yes, confessional statements are one way to build a stronger theological unity. (But they also have their limitations). A great first step would simply be for all Protestants to read those confessional documents and get a sense of the theology our forefathers fought for. Maybe a deeper understanding of these confessions would keep us from so easily worshipping the bitch-goddess of false unity.

    This is one of the reasons we have a link to “Historic Creeds and Confessions” on the sidebar.

  18. quick question – does anyone else find the similarity between the name “Luis Palau” and “Lollapalooza” (the original rock music mega-festival) eerie? did they come up with his name as one more example of subliminal marketing?

    it’s like the cover of Vertical Horizon’s hit album compared to the Christian group By the Tree’s first album, which appeared only months later…

    -Ivan, male, 23, partially responsible for the success of Creed

  19. Bob,

    I agree with Patrick’s July 18th, 2007 post. I was born and raised in the Catholic tradition and went to Catholic school from preK through highschool and eventualy found myself very lost and empty inside. I met very few Catholics other than my own family members who have a strong love for the Lord. I have found, that though the Catholic Church has been around for 2000 years, it seems to have lost its true purpose. Anymore, I just felt that it was concerned with getting money and focusing on traditions, rules and regulations. I have not faith or trust in the upper ranks of the Catholic Church. It reeks of corruption and greed.I think saying that any church not associated with the catholic church is not a legitimate church at all is a bunch of crap…to put it bluntly!!

    Back in July of 2009 I began coming to CD upon invintation from a friend. I can feel the love of Christ permiating the church and its people. I can truly feel the Spirit coming into my life thanks to you guys. Thank you SO much!!


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