by CJ Lam on November 30th, 2002
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This is one of several entries my friend CJ from Hong Kong wrote in my guestbook...
Source (this and the previous comment) Michael A. Gallagher Una Fides Reference Page
The word prejudice comes from two Latin words -- pre, which means before, and judicium, which means judgment. Prejudice, therefore, means judgment passed on something before sufficient data has been obtained on it. Most people who have prejudices lose them when they inform themselves better on the objects of their prejudices.
It is well known among scholars that men who have had strong prejudice against the Catholic Church have become her admirers and frequently her adherents and champions after examining into her history and teachings.
The Catholic Church is the oldest corporate organization in the world. She is the only universal Church. She is the Light of the world. In the course of centuries she has had to do battle against evil measures and evil men. She has never compromised on Christ's teaching and morality. Consequently she has frequently had evil men and evil forces arrayed against her.
We know from the World War what enemy propaganda can do. It was debated recently which branch of the military won the World War, the army or the navy. After long discussion the conclusion was reached that neither army nor navy had won the victory, but that propaganda had won it.
War propaganda means trying to influence opinion against the enemy. Directly after the World War was over, people on both sides were astonished to learn that nearly all the reports they had accepted and believed concerning the enemy were so many fabrications or exaggerations.
The Catholic Church is at war with the world. The World War had an end. The war between the Church and the world will never end. Consequently, propaganda in one form or another will always be active against the Catholic Church. The Church and the world can never come to terms. They are as opposed as day and night. Light and darkness cannot exist together. Christ preached a kingdom not of this world; the world declares that there is no kingdom except her own here. Christ stands for eternal life; the world lives for the present only. Between the two, therefore, there is bound to be antagonism. This explains the hatred of the world for the Church of Christ. And it explains its propaganda and misrepresentation with regard to the Church.
The world is prejudiced against the Church because it sees her in a false light, will not try to see her right, does not want to see her right. In our day the prejudice of the world takes the form of either hatred or indifference. Of the two, indifference is the worse. You can combat hatred, but indifference refuses parley.
Today the prejudice of the world is shown by hatred in Russia, France, and Mexico, and other places, where those in power are doing everything possible to destroy belief in Christianity. It is shown by indifference in our own country, where many people are so little concerned about religion that they are not interested enough in it to care, one way or another, what people believe or how they worship.
So much for the prejudice of the world at large with regard to the Catholic Church.
There is another prejudice harder to understand, namely that of non-Catholic Christians, or, as they are sometimes called, the Evangelical Churches. It is sad to say, but true, that at times the prejudice of Protestants or Evangelicals is greater and more intense than that of the world at large. This is due to the fact that they are contenders for what the Catholic Church holds that she alone possesses, namely, the true religion of Jesus Christ. A rival is the bitterest of opponents. Protestantism challenges the claim of the Catholic Church to be the sole true Church of Jesus Christ.
There would be little or no antagonism between Catholics and Protestants if the Catholic Church would drop her claim to being the sole true religion of Christianity. There is virtually no antagonism between the various Evangelical Churches. There may be differences of creed and various forms of worship, but since they all proclaim that one religion is as good as another, they are mutually tolerant of one another, and whatever rivalry may exist among them is of a friendly kind. Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists and the hundreds of other Evangelical bodies extend to one another the hand of fellowship.
No matter what their differences they form a solid front against the Catholic Church. This is due mainly to two reasons. First, if the Catholic Church is right, they are wrong. And secondly, in order to make the Catholic Church wrong they are prepared to credit whatever discredits her.
Let us take up these two points. Nobody wants to admit he is wrong. But if a Protestant admits that the Catholic religion is right, he condemns himself. An Episcopalian may admit that a Presbyterian is right without surrendering his own position. That is why all the Protestant sects harmonize and fraternize, more or less. But an Episcopalian cannot admit that the Catholic is right, and yet remain an Episcopalian. One excludes the other.
The basis of the Protestant position is that one religion is as good as another. This is the outcome of the doctrine of private judgment. If the judgment of one person impels him to be a Baptist, that of another may cause him to be a Methodist. Of course such procedure is illogical, for it comes to the same thing as saying that truth and falsehood are equally right.
For example, if the Episcopalian creed is true, the Presbyterian cannot be true, for the simple reason that one affirms what the other denies. The Episcopalians hold that the Episcopate is essential to the Church of Christ. The Presbyterians deny this. Both cannot be right, since what one affirms the other denies. Truth may be with one but not with both at the same time. One or the other must, therefore, be false. To say, therefore, that one religion is at good as another is to maintain that falsehood is as good as truth.
Incidentally this demonstrates the false basis on which the Evangelical Churches rest. We see today the logical outcome of this principle by the trend of Protestantism toward Modernism, which is only another name for Rationalism or the rejection of revealed religion.
Modernists are logical and consistent at all events. Following their doctrine of private judgment it has led them to reject virtually everything that Protestantism proclaimed in the beginning. The Bible was to take the place of God's living Church. The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible was the constitution of the Reformers. It did not matter that the Bible proclaimed one thing to one person, and its contradiction to another. In their exaltation over discovering what they supposed to be a new religion, wherein every one was to be Pope, they overlooked what their Modernist descendants are forced to look at face to face, and in consequence of which they discard the religion of their forefathers.
One religion cannot be as good as another, for the simple reason that falsehood cannot be as good as truth. That is as evident as that water is wet. But because the various Evangelical Churches close their eyes to a contradiction in religion which they would not tolerate in other matters, they live on together in harmony. They call this broad-mindedness. It is broad. Very broad. As broad as saying that two and two make five. But such a broad-minded person would not find a bank equally broad. A bank happens to be a practical concern.
Protestants, therefore, are mutually liberal and considerate because their position is weak. One cannot afford to declare the other wrong because to do so would be to pronounce condemnation on self. Hence their envy, their antagonism to that Church built upon rock which proclaims that every creed different from hers is wrong. And this brings us to the second point of our consideration. It was necessary for the Reformers to discredit the Catholic Church. Unless they could show that she was false they themselves should not be true. Unless they could show that she had erred there was no justification for their establishing a new religion. Now Christ had said that His Church would never err. He did not say that members of His Church would not sin or err. In fact He foretold sin and scandal even in high places. He established the Sacrament of Penance for sinners in His Church. Christ guaranteed His Church against error, but not its members against sin or error.
The first little Church of Christ with Jesus as Pastor and the twelve as members had its sin and scandal. Judas was a thief and traitor, Peter was weak and denied his Lord. The first council of the Church, a few years after the resurrection, was held, among other things, to remedy abuses. There will always be abuses in the Church of Christ. Men, not angels, are its ministers. The proof of the divinity of the Catholic Church is that in spite of the weakness of some of its members and rulers it is in the world today. Unless it were divinely guided and sustained it had perished long ago from storms without and weakness within.
Protestantism, with all the support of state and all its concessions to human nature, and all its esthetic appeal, or lack of it, is now, after a few centuries, crumbling. But the Church built on the rock is, after twenty centuries, firmer than ever. It is the one Church in the world that is universal, the only one that speaks with the authority of Christ and the only one that even claims to be unerring.
Consequently, to return to our argument, the Reformers had to discredit the Catholic Church to gain credit for their own. This is not the place to go into details. I content myself with saying that those who in the beginning broke away from the Church which alone was founded by Christ, employed every means possible to blacken the Bride of Christ. As proof of this let it suffice to say that scholars who have gone back to original sources declare that, since the Reformation, history was poisoned at its source, with the result that after-generations have been nourished on falsehoods. This accounts for the dreadful prejudice of Protestants against the Catholic Church.
I have met many non-Catholics who have told me of their firm belief in charges so damnable against Catholic teaching and practice, that if I were in their place I should hate the Church worse than they. Some of the best scholars and the highest type of manhood among Protestants have become Catholics as a result of searching for accusations against the Catholic Church. Their investigations led them to enter the very Church which they set out to assail. That ought to be a convincing argument.
Protestant prejudice is due mainly to the falsehoods which have deluged the Protestant mind.
Let me conclude with a statement of a man who for forty years fought the Catholic Church and sought in every way to discredit and destroy her, but who, eventually, seeing the Church as she is, not as she is caricatured, embraced her and is now her defender. This statement is from the celebrated John L. Stoddard, who for twenty-five years was the foremost lecturer in the English-speaking world.
"When I am asked what I have found within the Catholic Church superior to all that Protestantism gave me, I find that language is inadequate to express it. One thinks of the familiar metaphor of a stained-glass window in a vast cathedral. Seen from without by day, this seems to be an unintelligible mass of dusky glass. Viewed from within, however, it reveals a beautiful design, where sacred story glows resplendently in form and color. So it is with the Church of Rome. One must enter it to understand its sanctity and charm. When I reflect upon that Church's long, unbroken continuity, extending back to the very days of the Apostles; when I recall her grand, inspiring traditions, her blessed sacraments, her immemorial language, her changeless creed, her noble ritual, her stately ceremonies, her priceless works of art, her wondrous unity of doctrine, her apostolic authority, her splendid roll of saints and martyrs reaching up like Jacob's ladder, and uniting earth and heaven; when I reflect upon the intercession for us of those saints and martyrs, enhanced by the petitions of the blessed Mother of our Lord; and last not least, when I consider the abiding presence of the Saviour on her altars; -- I feel that this One, Holy, Apostolic Church has given me certainty for doubt, order for confusion, sunlight for darkness, and substance for shadow. It is the Bread of life, and the Wine of the soul, instead of the unsatisfying husks; the father's welcome, with the ring and the robe, instead of the weary exile in the wilderness of doubt. It is true the prodigal must retrace the homeward road, and even enter the doorway of the mansion on his knees; but, within, what a recompense!
Favored are those who from their childhood up are nurtured in the Catholic Church, and to whom all her comforts, aids, and sacraments come no less freely than the air and sunshine.
Yet I have sometimes wondered whether such favored Catholics ever know the rapture of the homeless waif, to whom the splendors of his Father's house are suddenly revealed; the consolation of the mariner whose storm-tossed vessel finally attains the sheltered port; the gratitude of the lonely wanderer, long lost in cold and darkness, who shares at last, however undeservedly, the warmth and light of God's great spiritual home!''
Catholics are so accustomed to the wonderful benefits of their faith that they fail to realize its value and glory. Like children brought up in the palace of a king they take everything as a matter of course. What some go through fire and water to attain is ours from infancy. We should set a high value on our religion, and for its sake endure generously and cheerfully the prejudice and hatred with which our inheritance is confronted.
From you know who, DIGRESSION (to answer Amy\'s query)
Wednesday, June 19 2002, 04:31 am
IS ONE RELIGION AS GOOD AS ANOTHER?
Catholics often hear it said by those outside the faith that one religion is as good as another. This is sometimes put in another form: "All roads lead to Rome." One reason why the Church meets with opposition is that she claims to be the only true Church. Is one religion as good as another? Evidently those who founded new religious denominations did not think so. If one religion was as good as another there was no reason for the establishment of the various Protestant denominations we see today. Every new religious sect is an admission that one religion is not as good as another. The hundreds of sects among the non-Catholic Christians is a declaration that the Church they left was not as good as the Church they inaugurated. Nor can it be said that the reason for establishing a new denomination was simply because the old was personally unsuited to those who left it. The reason for establishing the new was not because of mere unsuitableness, but because the old was objected to doctrinally. But this is not the point. At most it shows that non-Catholics contradict themselves when they say that one religion is as good as another.
In considering this question we must distinguish between a creed and the believer in a creed. A creed may be wrong but a believer in it may be very sincere. A creed may be condemned without condemning its adherents. An example will illustrate this. One man may be opposed in politics to another without being personally opposed to the other. A Democrat may assail the Republican party and at the same time esteem and respect an individual Republican. Two men may be close friends and yet belong to opposite political parties. They may mutually condemn the party of the other, assailing its principles and denouncing its policies, but at the same time esteeming each other. One may condemn a particular political party's policy and principles, and notwithstanding, admire and praise individuals of that party.
So, in considering this matter of the various religions and their claims, we consider the religion only, not its members. It is possible to analyze and examine into and evaluate a religious creed. It is impossible for man to analyze and pass judgment on the individual conscience. God alone sees and understands the individual human heart. Judgment is His. But man may pass judgment on the truth or error of a proposition. If a statement is self-contradictory or contradicts a known truth, or is at variance with known data it is false, and man may so declare it.
If one religion was as good as another there was no reason for Christ to establish the Christian religion. If the pagan religion was as good as the Christian there was no need of the Apostles and the early Christians shedding their blood to establish Christianity. If one religion is as good as another the fetish worship of the African savage is as good as the Christian worship of the true God.
We may condemn idol worship without condemning the poor idolater. We may condemn that worship which sacrifices human life to grotesque idols without condemning the pitiful adherents of the worship. And so we may declare false certain religions of today because they are false. If a religion is false it is not as good as the true religion. It is possible for a man to get on a wrong train and eventually reach his destination. But that does not make the train the right one. It is possible for a man to receive wrong directions and yet arrive in course of time at his due place. But that does not make the direction right. Some people go wrong with right directions and others go right with wrong directions. Cardinal Newman hit this off when he said that many Catholics were worse than their religion while Protestants in many cases were better than their religion. After all, religion does not physically oblige any one to follow it. It simply points out the right way and gives aid to walk in it. It can happen that a member of the true religion may lead a bad life and lose his soul, while a member of a false religion may, by living up to conscience, save his soul. That does not make the false religion true, nor the true religion false.
An exceptional person may in any department of life rise above the level of the principles and conduct of his fellows. But religion concerns not merely exceptional cases but mankind generally. And generally a false religion will direct its adherents wrongly, and the true religion will direct its followers right.
Is it true, therefore, to say that one religion is as good as another? No more than to say that a false guide is as good as a true guide. If any one religion in the world is true, every religion which differs from it is false. That is as clear and plain as that two plus two make four. Now, there is only one religion in the world which even claims to be exclusively true, and that is the Catholic. Every other religion states that it is advancing toward the truth, or that there is no fixed truth, or that it is more true than some other creed. The Catholic Church, if right, constitutes all the others wrong. That is one reason of opposition to her.
But she is the only Church that claims to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The other Churches do not even claim that they have the truth; they admit that the Churches which differ from them are as good as their own. It may be said that they differ only in incidentals. But this is not so, by any means. They diner fundamentally and essentially. Now I think it will be admitted that if the Catholic Church can be proved to be true, it will follow that the others which differ from her are false, and that a false religion is not as good as the true religion, and that consequently one religion is not as good as another.
To prove that the Catholic Church is true it is only necessary to show that Christ founded a Church and that the Catholic is that Church. It is clear that if Christ established a Church, it was true, since He was God. It is evident also that He established a Church, otherwise the various Churches would not claim to be the one established by Him. But is the Catholic the Church founded by Him, and is it alone the Church He established? A whole book might be written on this matter, but in the limit I have set myself for the treatment of the subject I shall be brief. Nevertheless I shall present a proof which any jury of unprejudiced minds would accept. A brief argument is as convincing as a long one, and often more clinching. The proof that the Catholic Church is the one established by Jesus Christ is that for centuries after Christ it was the only Church of Christ known in the world. Even some heretics in those centuries called themselves Catholics, so true is it that the Catholic Church was the recognized Church of Christ. If Christ established a Church it existed as a visible organization because it had to preach and administer the sacraments, etc., all of which required a visible ministry.
Non-Catholics admit this much. They say, however, that after the first few centuries the Church gradually fell into error and that the Reformation re-established the true Christian Church. Two things are against this. The first is that Christ in founding His Church proclaimed that He would always be with it and that it should never teach error. If the only Church in the world which for centuries was acknowledged by Christians to be the Church of Christ fell into error, Christ's guarantee was false. If His guarantee was false He was false, therefore not God, therefore all Christianity is an imposture, and the sooner it is branded false the better.
Moreover, the re-constructed religions of the reformers do not claim that they have the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. But no Church is Christ's which is not the whole Truth. Christ declared that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His Church cannot be partly true and partly false. No Church on earth claims to be exclusively true except the Catholic. How can a Church which is not entirely true be the Church of the absolutely true Christ? By their own admission, therefore, the non-Catholic Churches stand out as not being those of Christ. To say that a Church which is not Christ's is as good as the Church of Christ is to say that falsehood is as good as truth.
To sum up briefly: Christ was God. He established a Church. This Church He guaranteed against error. The only Church in the world which claims not to err is the Catholic Church. Therefore, the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ. Therefore, one Church is not as good as another, because there is one Church which is Christ's which cannot err, and which stands out by itself as the sole true Church. A man in a rowboat may be able to cross the Atlantic. So a man regardless of creed may be able to know the truth and to live by it. But no man would trust himself to a rowboat for a transatlantic voyage if one of our modern steamships were available for passage.
The Church of Christ is the vessel guaranteed by God to conduct all who voyage in it to the haven of everlasting life and joy. No one who voyages in this vessel need fear shipwreck If he remain aboard. It is only by abandoning the vessel that he can be lost. No one can make him leave the ship but himself. But one thing can cause him to leave, and that is to disobey orders. In that case the security of the vessel will not avail him.
God gives every human being the grace necessary for salvation. He founded His Church as the appointed means of guiding and helping man to salvation. While it is possible for those outside the Church who are in good faith and who live up to a right conscience to be saved, they nevertheless find themselves tossed hither and thither on a sea of doubt, they lack the helps and guidance afforded by the true Church, and too often lose heart and give up the effort of combating the world, the flesh, and the devil. In the true Church of Christ there is no doubt, her children are not looking for the truth, they have it, they have sure guidance in all the vicissitudes of life, if they fall they find a helping hand to aid them to rise, and if they are weak they find strength in the sacraments of grace. They have that peace which certainty gives, that peace which the world cannot give nor take away. No -- one religion is not as good as another. Not when one religion and one only is established and guaranteed against error by Jesus Christ, the Son of God.