Roman Catholic bishops seek a role in the House of Lords
IT has been the policy of the Church of Rome that its bishops should not engage in the exercise of civil power but be free to teach and minister to the spiritual needs of their people. In practice, however, many of them have considerable influence in government circles. The Vatican has had long experience of effectively working behind the scenes in this country as well as many others. Also, although not a member state of either the United Nations or of the European Union, it exerts great influence in these bodies.
As for having some kind of actual representation in the British government, the Roman Church has relied upon loyal representatives in the Lords, notably hereditary peers such as the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Camoys, and life peers including Lord Alton and Lord Rees-Mogg.
The Roman hierarchy in England and Wales has now been given an opportunity to increase its influence by being asked by the Government to submit a paper outlining what role they would like to play in a reformed House of Lords. Other main denominations have also been asked to make submissions. The Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales, in their submission to Lord Wakehams Royal Commission on Lords Reform, have stated that it is important that their Church would have a voice in the House of Lords, and that if the House was to include a specifically Catholic element, this should be in the form of its bishops. They also stated, no doubt with tongue firmly in cheek, “It is no part of the bishops job to seek power.” They cannily added, “But at the same time there cannot be no-go areas for the Church.”
One report says that the bishops will have to seek permission from the Vatican, because Canon Law forbids any cleric from assuming “public office whenever it means sharing in the exercise of civil power”. However, we find it hard to believe that they would have made any such submission to the Royal Commission without having already got the green light from the Vatican.
We wonder why the Roman hierarchy in England and Wales is opting for a role in the House of Lords when it suits them so well to work behind the scenes and keep their hand hidden. Obviously, they anticipate distinct advantages in being seen to participate in the government of the nation, and feel the time is ripe to have a more visible presence in the corridors of power.
When we see how the influence of Rome in our Protestant nation is growing so rapidly, we ought to cry to the “King of nations” to halt its progress. Rome does not seize the high ground in order to admire the view but to rise to greater heights. The loud testimony of history is that when given the opportunity, Rome will be satisfied with nothing less than full power.
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by Lutherans and Rome
LUTHERANISIM and Roman Catholicism are about to take a big step nearer to one another in their “reconciliation process”. Presbyterians-week reports: “The Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Vatican will sign the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification on October 31, 1999, in Augsburg, Germany. . . The Joint Declaration is the product of more than three decades of intense international dialogue between Lutherans and Roman Catholics. The signing will be the first time that such a declaration has been recognized officially and jointly by the respective church bodies.”
The Lutheranism of today, it seems, is far removed from that of the 16th century, when Luther proclaimed the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and set in train the events which led to the liberating of multitudes from the bondage of Rome. The mere fact that Lutheranism has engaged in “three decades of intense international dialogue” with Rome seriously calls in question its Protestantism, as does their joint statement: “The teaching of the Lutheran churches presented in this Declaration does not fall under the condemnations of the Council of Trent. The condemnations in the Lutheran Confessions do not apply to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church presented in this Declaration.” Either the condemnations of the Council of Trent against Luthers teaching have been disannulled or the teaching of Lutheranism has changed. Since Rome has not repealed its condemnations it is obvious that that there has been a radical shift in Luthern teaching.
Here we have another instance of a once Reformed and Protestant body being dazzled by the power of the papacy or perhaps we should say, bewitched by “the great whore”, the Antichrist. God has not only pronounced His judgement upon “the great whore” (see Revelation 17, and 19:2); but also warns others not to be implicated in her sin, and calls them to come out from her and be separate.
Roman Catholic absolution to be offered by telephone
A scheme, organised by the Catholic Missionary Society, is to be run in a Roman Catholic church in Chelmsford, Essex, for “lapsed Roman Catholics, too guilty or lazy to brave the confessional box, to get the chance to obtain absolution over the telephone”. It is expected that in the week-long pilot scheme hundreds of people will dial the freephone number to confess their sins and obtain forgiveness.
Hardly less absurd is Romes ordinary practice of confession and absolution. It is indeed absurd for any priest to claim that he has power to pardon sin. Only the One against whom we have sinned can forgive us. “Who can forgive sins but one, even God?” (Mark 2:7); “The Son of man hath authority on earth to forgive sins” (Matt. 9:6). But in opposition to these eternal truths the Church of Rome claims to have the authority to pardon sins.
Romes official teaching is that her priests “pardon sins, not only as ambassadors of Christ, but as judges, and by way of jurisdiction”. In other words, the priest is not simply pronouncing that God has forgiven that person, but he himself is forgiving the offender. Indeed, the Council of Trent declares, “Whosoever shall affirm that the priests sacramental absolution is not a judicial act, but only a ministry to pronounce and declare that the sins of the party confessing are forgiven, let him be anathema.” The clear inference is that the priest is there in the place of God. One Roman Catholic publication says: “Your sins are forgiven by the priest the same as if you knelt before Jesus Christ and told them to Christ Himself.”
How deluded are poor Roman Catholics when they are taught to believe, as one of their Catechisms says, “I must tell my sins to the priest so that he will give me absolution.” How duped they are when they think that without doing so they cannot have peace with God. May the Lord speedily send those promised days when Roman Catholics the world over will be liberated from the awful bondage of having to go to priests in the confession box (or by telephone) for forgiveness, but will go directly to God, in the name of the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:14).