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use of titles of honor
These are the unambiguous instructions which Jesus handed down to those who would take over his work after his death :
'The scribes and the Pharisees speak with the authority of Moses, so you must do what they tell you and follow their instructions. But don't make the mistake of imitating their lives! For, they preach but do not practice. They pile up back-breaking burdens and lay them on other men's shoulders – yet they themselves will not so much as raise a finger to move them. Their whole lives are planned with an eye to effect. They increase the size of their prayer books and lengthen the tassels of their robes; they love seats of honor at public functions and front places and to have men call them 'rabbi' or 'teacher'. As for yourselves, don't you ever be called 'rabbi' – you only have one teacher, and all of you are brother of one another. And don't call any human being 'father' – for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. And you must not let people call you 'leaders' – for you have only one leader, the Anointed One (Christ). The only 'superior' among you is the one who serves the others. For, every man who promotes himself will be humbled, and every man who learns to be humble will find promotion.
But alas for you, you scribes and Pharisees, play actors (hypocrites) that you are! You lock the doors of the kingdom of Heaven in men's faces. You will not go inside yourselves, and neither will you allow others to enter."
The following is a good example of the way R.-C. clergy answer the faithful who ask about the contrast between the teaching of Jesus and the practice of their church:
It was excerpted from a regular feature on the official site of Diocese of Toledo at teh time called: "Defending the Faith" (i.e. Roman Catholicism), by a David Grimes, SFO
There is one scripture I believe that I have read which is objectionable to fundamentalists. (actually most Protestants) It refers to not calling anyone father, but the father in heaven. Currently, I can't find it. Since there are over 350 scripture references in the New Testament with the word father in them I am having difficulty finding it. Could you please tell me the scripture that implies this? Also, as a Catholic, how do we defend the practice of calling our Church leader "Pope" which I was told means father and calling our priests father. To fundamentalists (Protestants) this would be wrong in God's eyes because it is scriptural and therefore, leads to the objection of the Pope's authority. Thank You Michael.
Here is my reply: Michael: Thanks for visiting my site!
The scripture you refer to is found in Matthew 23:9, "And do not call anyone on earth "father," for you have one Father, and he is in heaven."
Calling our priests "father" is not unique to Catholics. The Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Church (Protestant) do as well. I find it strange that non-Catholics tend to ignore this verse: "Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ (Matt. 23:10). Then we read this from scripture: "Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15)." Point this out to your friends! Or what about this advice to the Philippians: "But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel." (Phil 2:22). What about this from Romans 4:11, "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them." Paul is referring to Abraham as the "father of all who believe."
My good friend Gary Hoge wrote the best answer in understanding Matthew 23:9. "This verse has nothing whatsoever to do with the proper use of the word "father," it has to do with the proper attitude of Christians toward their brothers, and toward God. Therefore, it is perfectly appropriate for Catholics, and others, to give the title "father" to their ministers. In doing so they are not being disobedient to Jesus, rather they are following the apostolic example established by Paul and John." Now, let me address the last part of your question. The word Pope is not in the bible but the concept of the office of pope is.
Point out to your non-Catholic friends that the words "Trinity," "Incarnation," or "Ascension" aren't found in scripture either. Are these doctrines to be ignored? Was Peter the Chief Apostle? According to scripture, Catholics answer with a resounding YES! You might want to read this website on that very topic. You can find it here: http://ic.net/ ~erasmus/ RAZ112.HTM. I hope this helps and please don't be afraid to call on me anytime. This is what I love doing! God Bless
written on 2/6/2002
by David Grimes, SFO,
(a layman affiliated with the order of Saint Francis )
Here's another such site : The "Shameless Popery" blog.
This is what those who care more about the teaching of Jesus Christ than the teaching of any church have to say :
Believing that Jesus said to his "apostles", "Anyone who wishes to be first in the kingdom of God should make himself the last and the servant of the rest," they strive to be humble servants, rather than imperious bosses When are those who claim to be the successors of those apostles going to remember those words and prove that they understand and believe them by getting off of their high horses, out of their luxurious vestments and automobiles, out of their palatial homes, and away from their rich and powerful friends and neighbors and become the servants of those most in need of service? Instead of constantly condemning the faithful for new-found sins, supposedly missed by the authors of the Bible, such as the practice of birth control, masturbation and yes even abortion, when are today's high priests going to pay attention to what the Bible says repeatedly and unequivocally about the sins that they themselves should avoid?
Jesus insisted that the leaders of his new religious community should never go around having people address them with honorific titles like 'father,' 'teacher,' and 'leader'. How can anyone imagine Jesus being anything but incensed by titles like "Monsignor" (meaning "my Lord'), "Your Excellency," "Your Eminence," "Your Holiness," "Supreme Pontiff," and most presumptuous of all "the Vicar of Christ"? Do such people take Jesus Christ seriously? Or, are they only using Christ as a means of having trusting people take them seriously?
Today's "high priests" quote some of Christ's words, namely those which suit them and seem to support the overwhelming authority they enjoy wielding over others. They won't let their subjects forget for example, that Jesus once said to the Apostles, "Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me." And they are forever reminding people that Jesus seemingly intended to put Peter, and all of his successors on pedestals, in a class by themselves, when he said: "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven, while whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven." (Matt. Ch. 16) But why are they so silent about the words Jesus proceeded to address to this same Peter, just a few verses later: "Get behind me, Satan. You are an obstacle in my path, for the way you think is not God's way but man's." And what about the warning the Lord gave to those to whom he was entrusting a role of leadership in his new Church: "You know that among the pagans, rulers lord it over their subjects and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No, anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the son of man came, not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt. Ch. 20)
Jesus had tried many times to instill this attitude in his leadership, saying to them, for example, when he overhead them arguing among themselves as to which of them was the greatest, " If anyone wishes to be first, he must make himself the last, and the servant of the rest." Finally, on the night before his death on the cross, Jesus made one last attempt to get this same message across. Although Peter objected strenuously to it, Jesus didn't feel it was beneath his dignity as the Son of God to put himself at the service of mere human beings – that was what his life was all about! Getting down on his knees before each of his apostles, he washed their dirty feet! And when he had finished, in order to make sure that this dramatic lesson had not been wasted on them, he asked, "Do you understand what I have done to you? you call me lord and master, and rightly so, because that is what I am. But if I, the lord and master have washed your feet, so much the more should you wash the feet of others. for I have given you an example so that you may copy what i have done to you." (John Ch. 13)
Is that the example you see being followed by those who claim so boldly to be filling Christ's shoes on earth? Are they acting as servants when their "Excellencies" mount their royal thrones to proclaim their doctored-up version of Christ's teaching in such pontifical tones?
You may never have heard of one recent pope who believed these words and put them into practice, namely Pope John Paul the FIRST :
"As a bishop, he had refused to be addressed as Your Excellency, the title reserved for bishops. As a cardinal he had refused to be addressed as Your Eminence, the title reserved for cardinals. And as a pope, he refused to be addressed as Your Holiness. He asked that everyone, from heads of state to little children, address him by the nickname lie had acquired as a child, 'Piccolo'. . ."
"He never donned the Fisherman's Ring, the ring of the papacy; nor was he ever known to extend his hand for the ceremonial kiss. He would have no man or woman how to him."
"Avoiding the pomp and pageantry that traditionally surrounded the installation of a pontiff, he took his office in a small private setting witnessed by the minimum number of Church prelates required and by his family and close friends, including the housekeeper who had served him so faithfully at Vittorio Veneto. Outside, a huge crowd, which had filled St. Peter's Square, kept its eyes watchfully on the balcony anxiously awaiting his first blessing as pontiff. But no one appeared; Luciani had chosen not to display himself from the royal balcony as all the others had done before him. Rather, he had chosen to walk among them.
In taking his place as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church with far less ceremony than that which had accompanied his installation as a common bishop twenty years earlier, he had begun to demolish the majestic image of the papacy. He refused to be crowned with the gold and jewel encrusted St. Stephen's Crown, which had been the focal point of previous coronations. In fact, there was no coronation at all. . . His peers, the cardinals, the crown princes of the Church, felt much of their own regency endangered. Whereas the rank-and-file and the hierarchy of the Church saw in the St. Stephen Crown a symbol of royalty, Luciani saw something much different. He saw in it the right to a good and healthy life for a thousand children who would otherwise starve to death, and that's exactly what he intended to do with it." (from p. 116 of "Murder in the Vatican", the NON-fiction book about the suspicious deaths of most of the Catholic Church's high-ranking Liberal leaders in 1978, which led to the elevation of the ultra-Conservative papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.)
If you would like to know how and why Pope John Paul I, perhaps the most Liberal pope in the Roman-Catholic Church's 2000 year history, may have been murdered after his papacy had lasted but 33 days, see my murder-in-the-Vatican webpage.
The way so-called "Christian Conservatives" use little known scripture to quietly offset some of the things that Jesus taught has convinced me that this is one of the reasons that they argue so vociferously for the uniform inspiration of everything in the Bible. And that is one reason that I argue against that belief. I believe that the whole idea of "scriptural inerrancy" requires a great deal of ignorance of the scriptures and leads intelligent people to reject the whole bible and any religion that espouses that belief.
Atlanta, April 6 (AP) — Women will not be allowed to participate in Maundy Thursday foot-washing rituals at Roman-Catholic churches here. In a March 19 letter to the archdiocese's priests, Archbishop John Donoghue said each parish should choose just 12 men for the ritual, which represents Jesus washing his disciples' feet at the Last Supper.
After recovering from the shock brought on by the sight of a Catholic bishop being that insensitive to at least half of the members of his church in this millennium, I asked myself an even larger question, namely: "And the message to the world that bishops wash the feet of 12 laymen one time each year, while thousands if not millions of laymen continue to kiss the hands of bishops every other moment of every other day of the year is ?!?"
When Jesus instructed the leaders that he was putting in charge of his movement in John 13:3-17: "So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them." can anyone imagine that he was talking about the ritual tokenism performed by the Catholic Church on one holy weekday each year?
And then it came to me! For years I have been wondering it is so difficult for Roman-Catholics to see the extremely grave sins committed by the representatives of their church over the centuries, and now it is clear that Catholics will never be able to admit the big sins, because they are not even able to admit their clergy are unfaithful to Christ's teaching in what appears to many to be a little matter, i.e. the use of titles and the washing of feet, but which are extremely telling symbols of much more important matters.