Monday, September 25, 2017

More Catholics Embrace the Anglican Patrimony

Evensong and Benediction
Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas

Something big is happening, and it really is the way of the future. It has to do with restoration, and by that I mean the restoration of something very big and very old. About 500 years ago, while Martin Luther was just beginning to start his Protestant Revolution in Germany, England was still a staunchly Catholic country. At that time it was known as "Mary's Dowry" and had King Henry VIII not embarked on a lust-filled schism to legitimatise his adultery and illegitimate offspring, England might still be Catholic today. Imagine that, if you will. What would it look like?

You don't need to imagine too hard, because you see, that image exists today, albeit in a much smaller form. It's called the Anglican Patrimony Ordinariates. These are the Personal Ordinariates, created by Pope Benedict XVI, initially as a juridic structure for former Anglicans and Methodists, who have left Protestantism behind and brought their English liturgical heritage into the Catholic Church. The Anglican Patrimony is most clearly seen in Divine Worship, which is the liturgical norm of the Ordinariate, sometimes informally called the Anglican Form of the Roman Rite but the proper name is Divine Worship. Here are some samples of Divine Worship in action...

Divine Worship Holy Mass

Divine Worship Evensong

Everyone is familiar with the mass of course, but what is evensong? This is the English form of high vespers. When it is spoken, it is called Evening Prayer. When it is sung, it is called Evensong. These terms are just one of the peculiarities of the Anglican Patrimony. If the Protestant Revolution never happened in England, if England had been allowed to continue on as "Mary's Dowry," then Catholic worship in the English-speaking world would probably look something like this -- a Form of the Roman Rite heavily influenced by the Sarum Use (a form of the Roman Rite commonly celebrated in England before the Protestant Revolution). Divine Worship follows the older versions of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in some ways, but is more consistent with the ancient Sarum Use, and remains completely faithful to Catholic teaching and orthodoxy. What we have here is the restored Anglican Patrimony within the Catholic Church, or what English Catholicism would look like today, had King Henry VIII not broke England away from communion with Rome. It is alive today, vibrant, and just oozing with medieval tradition. Watch the videos and see for yourself.

Of course, a great many Catholics are frustrated that there is no such parish anywhere near their location. Some of these Catholics are former Anglicans or Episcopalians. Some of them are even former Methodists. They like what they see, but must resign to what seems like an impossibility, since there is no such parish near them. Well folks, all of that is about to change, because of a little organisation called the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society. Pronounced as "Ang-lick-an-OR-oom CHAY-tee-boos," the Society is named after the Apostolic Constitution signed by Pope Benedicit XVI in 2009 by the same name. Anglicanorum Coetibus means "Groups of Anglicans" in Latin, and it is the Apostolic Constitution that allows for the creation of Personal Ordinariates within the Catholic Church that follow the Anglican Patrimony as proscribed by Divine Worship. In other words, Anglicanorum Coetibus is the papal document that makes the Personal Ordinariates possible, and revives the Anglican Patrimony within the Catholic Church again. The Catholic Church hasn't used the Anglican Patrimony in nearly five centuries, so this is a really big deal.

Now the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is dedicated to the promotion of Anglicanorum Coetibus and it's propagation throughout the English-speaking world. That means supporting the formation of more Catholic communities based on the Anglican Patrimony and strengthening those that already exist. So how is that done, and can it be done outside of the official structure of the Ordinariates?

It's simple really. It all begins with a map...

The map has two different kinds of pins. The first kind are the blue pins. These represent established Ordinariate communities. The second kind are the red pins. These represent Anglican Patrimony Groups, seeking to become established Ordinariate communities someday. Once an Anglican Patrimony Group is received by the Ordinariate, and becomes an established Ordinariate community, the pin will change from red to blue on the map.

Look, here's the deal. You don't need to be close to an Ordinariate community to join the Ordinariate. That's because Ordinariate membership is open to anyone who qualifies and who wants it. It is possible to be an Ordinariate member and still attend a local diocesan parish. It happens all the time. This will not affect your regular everyday parish life in any way. The only thing it changes is your bishop. When you need something from the bishop, you'll have to call the Ordinariate chancery in Houston, Texas rather than your local diocesan chancery. That's all. Since the Ordinariate bishop is accustomed to handling the requests of Catholics with Anglican (Episcopalian) or Methodist heritage, you can expect him to be much more responsive and understanding in these cases. For example; in many Roman dioceses and archdioceses, first communion is often received at a very early age (ages 6 though 8) while confirmation is usually held off until the teen years. But let's say you want your children to receive confirmation and first communion together, like at age 10 for example, as is customary in the Anglican tradition. Something like this could usually more easily be worked out with the Ordinariate than a regular Roman diocese or archdiocese. Thus Ordinariate membership could be very beneficial in this scenario. Even if you don't live near an Ordinariate community, it might be possible for the Ordinariate to dispatch a priest with faculties to your location for a day, just for the purpose of celebrating a Divine Worship mass and confirming your children. This is just one such example of how Ordinariate membership might be helpful in maintaining an important Anglican custom for the sake of your family.

If you qualify to become an Ordinariate member, you and your immediate family can join the Ordinariate, by filling out a simple application form.

Wondering if you qualify? Here are the requirements straight from the North American Ordinariate website. Those who are eligible for membership in the Ordinariate must be able to answer "YES" to at least one of the following questions:
  1. Are you a former Anglican, Methodist, or member of an ecclesial communion that includes those of Anglican heritage (United Church of Canada, Charismatic Episcopal Church, etc.) who is now in full communion with the Catholic Church?
  2. Are you a current Anglican or Methodist intending to be received into the Catholic Church AND currently enrolled in adult catechises to be received into the Catholic Church?
  3. Are you a Roman Catholic in full communion with the Catholic Church AND who has a family member(s) who is (are) a canonical member(s) of the Ordinariate?
  4. Have you completed or are you a candidate for any or all of the Sacraments of Initiation through an Ordinariate or Pastoral Provision parish?
  5. Are you a Roman Catholic in full communion with the Catholic Church AND who has a family member(s) who is (are) a candidate(s) for any or all Sacraments of Initiation through an Ordinariate or Pastoral Provision parish?
If you can answer "YES" to at least one of the questions above, then you (and your immediate family) qualify for membership in the Ordinariate if you want it. All you have to do is fill out the application...

In North America, simply download and print the application here. The completed application can either be given to an Ordinariate priest or, if one is not available nearby, it can be sent via regular postage mail to the following address...

Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter
P.O. Box 55206
Houston, TX 77255

In the United Kingdom, you can fill out an application online here.

In Australia and Oceania, you can contact the Ordinariate here.

That's just the beginning. If you would like to do more, you can actually start an Anglican Patrimony Group in your area. Such groups can potentially become Ordinariate communities someday, with an assigned priest and regular mass. This is not guaranteed of course, but it's happened before so it can happen again. To get such a group included on the above map, this is what you'll need to do...
  1. Register as a member of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society (ACS):
  2. A regular meeting place must be established with a real address that can be published on the map. This can be as simple as somebody's house, or an office space, or a library room, or a Catholic chapel if available, etc.
  3. Provide the ACS with a contact person (name, phone number and/or email address) along with the physical address of the meeting place to be published on the map:
  4. The group must meet minimally once a month, but may meet more often as the group desires. 
  5. During each meeting, either Morning or Evening Prayer must be said (whichever is appropriate), according to the approved Daily Office of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, or the Office as published at
  6. Additional time for visiting and fellowship is encouraged whenever possible. Religious studies are NOT necessary. However, we encourage pastoral oversight by a member of the Catholic clergy if any religious studies are to be done. Materials for such monitored religious studies should be limited to the Catholic Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  7. Contact the ACS with all this information, and keep the ACS updated regularly.
The Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is currently under the leadership of Deborah Gyapong, a professional journalist in both Canada and the United States. The Board of Directors is currently working on bringing us scholarly journals, podcasts, blog participation, and other new things, available only to members of the Society. There is literally no limit to how big the Ordinariate can grow in the English-speaking (Anglophone) world. Imagine if you will, someday generations from now, multiple ordinariates in North America. Now imagine if you can, the word "Archordinariate," a large Ordinariate consisting of numerous parishes somewhere among the other ordinariates in North America. This CAN happen! It is within the realm of possibilities, perhaps not anytime in the near future, but maybe someday in the distant future, generations from now. How does that happen? It begins with small Anglican Patrimony Groups all over the place. It begins with diligent prayer and patience, waiting on some of those groups to become Ordinariate communities (Lord willing). It begins by diligently working with an assigned Ordinariate priest to form that community into a parish. In short, if you're eligible for Ordinariate membership, it begins with you.


Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

Books Written and Recommended by Shane...

for Protestants
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
A Reading List
for Serious Catholics

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The One True Church

Christ Gives the Keys of the Kingdom to Peter
Painted by Pietro Perugino in 1481 and 1482

Let's be frank here. Why would any Catholic remain a Catholic if he/she didn't actually believe that the Catholic Church is the one, true Church? I mean, seriously, why? I wasn't always Catholic you know. I am a convert. I know (first-hand experience) what it is like to be multiple different kinds of Christian. I know what it's like to be a Lutheran. I know what it's like to be a Baptist. I know what it's like to be an Evangelical. I know what it's like to be an Anglican too. I know what it's like to be all of these things, and you know what? In comparison to Catholicism -- it's easier!

That's right, in my own personal experience, it's much easier to be a Lutheran, Baptist, Evangelical and Anglican than it is to be a Catholic. In fact, it's vastly easier. There is less structure, less discipline and less rules in all of these Christian faiths. Why on earth would anyone want to follow Catholic rules on birth control when just about every other Christian denomination says it's perfectly okay and there is nothing wrong with it? Why on earth would anyone want to follow Catholic rules on mass attendance when just about every other Christian denomination says it's perfectly okay to skip a Sunday and go fishing once in a while? Or go to church on Wednesday instead of Sunday, or pick whatever day you like! Why on earth would anyone want to go to a confessional when just about every other Christian denomination says you can just privately confess your sins to God and keep it a secret? Why, oh why, would any Christian choose to remain Catholic when there are so many simpler and easier Christian denominations out there to choose from? I mean, seriously, if you want all the smells and bells of Catholicism, and still want to call yourself "catholic," but never have to follow all these strict rules, there is a very easy option out there. It's called Anglicanism, and in North America, it is virtually indistinguishable from Catholicism in outward appearance. There is an Episcopal (Anglican) parish in just about every city and town, especially in the United States. Don't believe me? Have a look and see for yourself. I just bet there's one near you.

My point here is that as a Christian in the United States, you can literally have it all. You can pick whatever form of Christianity you like, with any level of discipline and practice you like. You can even be 99% "catholic" by becoming a member of The Episcopal Church. Heck! If the Episcopalians are too liberal for you, you can even pick a slightly more conservative brand in the Anglican Church of North America. The United States of America has got it all! You don't need to be Roman Catholic, and follow all those rules and regulations, when you don't have to. Some of these churches, like the Anglican (Episcopalians), consider themselves "catholic" too, minus the "Roman" part.

So why would any Christian want to be a Roman Catholic, if he/she doesn't actually believe what the Catholic Church teaches? That's the mystery for me. What is it? Is it because of some kind of wacky cultural attachment? I'm thinking of mafia types as an example. Here you have a bunch of ruthless thugs who clearly don't believe or practice anything of the Catholic faith, but remain members of the Catholic Church anyway, mainly for cultural reasons. Everyone knows they don't believe or practice the faith, but they like to put on a religious show (so to speak) for the benefit of their family and neighbours, and to hide their clearly unCatholic and unChristian life of crime. I suppose another type might be your politicians and media persons, who again remain Catholic for much of the same reasons as the mobsters. They like to fool themselves, and their neighbours, into believing they're devoutly religious people, when in fact everyone knows they're not. I suppose I understand this reason, though I think its highly unnecessary and a little silly, especially in the United States where nobody really cares what type of religious show you put on.

What really confuses me is regular, ordinary, everyday Catholics. I'm talking about regular, working-class Christians, who are technically members of the Catholic Church, but clearly don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches. Why remain members? Is it for the same wacky cultural reasons as the mafia, politicians and media? I'm not so sure. These regular working-class people don't have to worry about putting on a public show of religion to maintain a certain image. They're just regular people, and like I said, this is America. Nobody here cares what religion you are. Seriously folks, this is a Secular society. Nobody freaking cares! So why remain Catholic if you don't believe it?

I suppose for some people it might be a social aspect. Maybe they've made friends in the Catholic Church, and they're afraid to leave them behind. I suppose I could really see this being the case with women. The female side of our species is highly social in nature. I can understand why they wouldn't want to leave the Catholic Church over friends. But let's seriously think this through, shall we? If you lose your Catholic friends by leaving the Catholic Church, were they ever really your friends to begin with? Wouldn't real friends be your friends no matter what? Let me tell you, when I left Evangelicalism I found out who my friends really were. I came to find out I had a lot less than I thought. But you know what? When I joined the Catholic Church I made a whole lot of new friends. So if friends are the only thing keeping you in the Catholic Church, then I would challenge you to reconsider. Who are your real friends? Wouldn't those be the people who remain your friends no matter what church you go to?

Perhaps it's the word "Catholic" that people are attached to. Maybe, like the mafia, politicians and media persons, they just like calling themselves "Catholic" and can't imagine thinking of themselves as anything else. I'm mentally picturing the "devoutly Catholic" mobster who dutifully puts 10% of his blood money into the collection plate at mass every Sunday, then kneels for communion on the tongue (oh so reverently) so everyone can see. I'm thinking of an "ardently Catholic" politician who proudly declares her Catholic faith on television, as she follows by defending her pro-abortion political record. I'm thinking of the "altar boy Catholic" news anchorman who continuously reminds his audience what a pious family he comes from, as he presents himself as an "expert" on the Church, all the while misrepresenting and maligning it. Perhaps its a similar motivation here, that the word "Catholic" has just come to mean nothing more than a cultural identity. It's sort of like being Italian, Mexican, French or Irish. It's just a cultural identifier. Still, I have to ask, why? This is America. Nobody cares here. People care no more for your religious preference than they do for your ancestral homeland. So once again, I must ask, who are you trying to fool? Everybody knows you don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches. Everybody knows you don't follow these teachings. So why carry on the charade?

So now we are entering a time in America when it will soon be very unpopular to be a believing and practising Catholic. We've already seen how the Secular Left, the Neo-Marxists, and now even high-ranking officials in the Democratic Party, have decided that the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic -- meaning one who doesn't believe or practise what the Church actually teaches. We have seen how those on the political Left find authentic and historic Catholic teaching "offensive" and demand that all Catholics abandon it. We have official resolutions from the City of San Francisco actually claiming this publicly. We have senators in the United States Senate actually saying this on television. We have media news people and pundits snidely insinuating this in their broadcasts and in print. We have political action groups loudly screaming it in the streets. How long will it be (one year, two, three?) before it will be in vogue to actually declare it openly? "Yes, I'm Catholic, but I don't actually believe all that stuff." To which I must openly ask, why then say you're Catholic at all? Why put yourself through having to make endless disclaimers about your life, faith and beliefs? Why?

Then of course there are the Catholic bishops, many of whom have already caved into the popular culture at large. One of them, Bishop Robert W. McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego, who most recently declared in an article that any Catholic, who really and truly believes the faith, is a "cancer" in the Church. Don't believe me? Here's the article. Read it for yourself. Basically, if you're a Catholic, who believes what the Church teaches about homosexuality, and insists that Church officials (priests and bishops) should back what the Church teaches, then according to Bishop McElroy, you're a "cancer" in the Church. Of course everyone knows what the appropriate medical treatment is for cancer. You cut it out! So I must ask of Bishop McElroy, when do you plan to excommunicate every faithful and orthodox Catholic in your diocese, who actually believes what the Church teaches about homosexuality? Or are you just a paper tiger spouting off a lot of hot air? Yes, I'm calling your bluff, and I'm waiting to see. What will you do Excellency? Are your words empty? Are you afraid to back them with action?

You see with bishops like this, who needs the Leftists, Marxists and Democrats? With "friends" like this, who needs enemies? Clearly, not even some bishops believe what the Catholic Church teaches, so again I must ask, why be Catholic? Seriously, if I didn't believe what the Church teaches about marriage and sexuality, why would I believe what the Church teaches about leaving the Church? If homosexuality is not a sin, then neither is the so-called sin of "schism" or "apostasy." If I believed, as many Catholics do, that it's okay to be in an active homosexual relationship, and that divorce and remarriage is just fine even without an annulment, that contraception is always okay, and that in some circumstances abortion is too, then there is no reason for me to believe that there is something wrong with leaving the Catholic Church. I mean, what difference does it make, right? So long as I'm going to church somewhere, what difference does it make if it's Catholic, Anglican/Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Evangelical, etc.? Come on folks! Just follow the logic here. If the Catholic Church is wrong about something as big as human sexuality, then it's probably wrong about Church membership too!

So why would any Catholic, who doesn't believe what the Church actually teaches, even remain Catholic? It's a mystery to me, and to be quite honest, I think it's stupid. It's one thing to disagree with the Church over prudential matters like immigration, gun control and national defence. It's one thing to disagree with the Church even on things like contraception, such as whether its always a mortal sin. But when you disagree with the Church over such clear-cut issues as abortion, euthanasia, divorce, adultery, same-sex "marriage," homosexuality, etc., what you're really saying is the Catholic Church has no real moral authority at all. It's all just one great big show of pomp and circumstance. So why be Catholic? Why carry on the charade? Why not be honest with yourself, and the world, and admit you're not really Catholic at all? I can see why some unfaithful clergy don't do this. They have a pension to look after. But if you're not drawing salary and benefits from the Catholic Church, why on earth would you stay? It doesn't make any sense. I'm sorry, but seriously, it's stupid. You have nothing really to gain, everything to lose, and you're living a lie.

So why would any self-respecting American remain a member of the Catholic Church?

I'll tell you why. The one and only reason why ANYBODY should remain a member of the Catholic Church is if one actually believes what the Catholic Church teaches. If one actually believes what the Church has to say about issues related to God, Christ, the gospel, the sacraments, human life, marriage, family, sexuality, money, morality, ethics and even Church membership, then I suppose one has a good reason to stay in the Church and remain Catholic. If Jesus Christ really did give the "Keys to the Kingdom" to St. Peter (Matthew 16:18-19) and he in turn passed them down to his successors the popes, then I suppose we probably ought to listen to the Catholic Church has to say about things. If the Catholic Church actually has the moral authority to tell us who God is, and what he wants, then I suppose it has the moral authority to tell us how we should behave in both our private and public lives. And if the Catholic Church actually has the moral authority to tell us how to behave in our private and public lives, then I guess it also has the moral authority to tell us what Church we should belong to.

It really is that simple folks. Either the Catholic Church has the moral authority to tell us how to live our lives, or it doesn't. You see, when I was a searching Anglican, I came to the logical conclusion that the Roman Catholic Church can be only one of two things. You see, because of the things it claims about itself, it could only be either (A) exactly what it says it is, the sole "pillar and foundation of truth" in the world as it says in 1 Timothy 3:15, or (B) it is the most diabolical religion ever created by Western man, precisely because it claims to be the sole "pillar and foundation of truth" in the world.
If the Catholic Church is what it says it is, then we had better believe what it teaches and live our lives accordingly, but if it is not, then the whole thing is a joke, and worse yet -- evil -- so we really should get out!

You see, there is not a single Protestant denomination that claims to be the only true Church. There is not a single Protestant denomination that claims to have been founded by Jesus Christ himself. There is not a single Protestant denomination that claims to be the sole "pillar and foundation of truth" in the world. Do you know what some American Protestants call a church that makes such claims about itself? -- a cult! That's right, they call it a cult. And I suppose they would be right, if the claims were not true. Nearly all Protestant denominations acknowledge that there are other churches nearly as good as themselves, and most Protestants (especially those in America) really don't believe it matters what church you belong to.

So the questions I want to leave you with are as follows...
  1. Is there really a "one, true Church" established by Jesus Christ? 
  2. If so, which one is it? 
  3. If not, why are you a member of a Church that claims to be it?
Let's be honest with ourselves here. Let's not kid ourselves any longer. If you're a member of the Catholic Church, and you don't believe the Catholic Church is the one, true Church established by Jesus Christ, then you're a hypocrite. If you're a member of the Catholic Church, and you don't believe the Catholic Church has the authority to tell you how to live you life on matters of marriage and sexuality, then you're a hypocrite. Why do you continue to support a Church that preaches things you don't believe in? It's hypocrisy, and quite frankly, it's rather stupid.

If, however, you really do believe the Catholic Church is the one, true Church established by Jesus Christ, and you still don't believe what the Church teaches on marriage and sexuality, you're still a hypocrite. Because you see, you claim to believe one thing out of one side of your mouth, then you say you don't out of the other side. It's a contradiction. It's hypocrisy. Of course we Catholics can argue over prudential matters that are not settled doctrine in the Catholic Church. With an informed conscience, we are allowed to think for ourselves! But when it comes to matters of established doctrine, like on marriage and basic human sexuality, then we had better be in agreement with the apostolic teaching of the Church, or else we are hypocrites.

Let's stop playing games here. This is America. Nobody is going to burn you at the stake for leaving the Catholic Church. You either stay because you want to be Catholic, or you go because you're just being honest with yourselves and you not really Catholic at heart anyway. Let's cut out the hypocrisy and charade.

Now, to my fellow Catholics who are struggling with some Church teaching, let me say you're not alone. I too have struggled with some Church teaching. I still struggle with some Church teaching now and then. That's what it means to be human of course. We're not all perfect, and we all struggle from time to time. I sin, ask forgiveness and I do penance, just like everyone else. There are some doctrinal and disciplinary areas I think the Church needs to spend more time working out. There are some disciplinary practices (not doctrinal but disciplinary) that I think the Church is just plain wrong about, and needs to change. But in all things, I accept the moral authority of the Catholic Church as having been given by Jesus Christ himself, to the apostles and their successors the bishops and priests. If you find yourself struggling, that's okay. We all struggle. What we must not do however, is decide that we know better than the Church, and start believing (and acting upon) ideas that are directly opposed to Catholic doctrine. It's one thing to sin, admit you're wrong, and repent. That's Catholic. It's another thing to sin, insist you're right, and tell the Church it needs to change its doctrine to accommodate your sin. That's not Catholic at all. That's heresy.

In the days ahead, as we have already seen, we're going to see faithful Catholic put on the proverbial "hot seat" for their beliefs and practices. They're going to be persecuted just for believing that the Catholic Church is the "one, true Church of Jesus Christ." Naturally, if a Catholic didn't believe that, he wouldn't really be Catholic now would he? Still, we know where the Left stands on this. We know they are willing to tolerate religion, only insofar as religion is kept as a personal hobby, and the religious person doesn't really believe what the religion teaches. Then the Left is fine with us. After all, to them the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic, meaning one who doesn't really believe the faith. 

In the days ahead, as we have already seen, an increasing number of Catholic clergy (priests and bishops) will betray the faithful, and proverbially "throw them under the bus," in order to score points with their friends on the political Left. We've seen this happen already to staunchly faithful Catholic apostolates like Church Militant, The Wanderer and The Remnant Catholic newspapers. We've seen sweet little Mother Angelica assailed by Leftist bishops in the Church. Even some Vatican advisers, close to the Pope, have come out squarely against historic Catholic teaching and anyone who dares to defend it. 

Truly, if you don't actually believe the Catholic Church is the one, true Church, and that what she has always taught is truth, then there really is no reason to remain Catholic. In America, there is no incentive given by the state, the media, nor society at large. Even support within the Church, by her own leadership, is rather slim these days.

No, the only reason to remain Catholic these days is if you truly believe it. If you don't believe it, and you remain in the Church anyway, then the only person you're really fooling is yourself, and honestly, you're making yourself look rather silly. 

I know it may look like I'm trying to get people to leave the Church here. Actually I'm not. My motivation in writing this is to chide my fellow Catholics, to make them actually behave like Catholics, and stand up for the faith they say they believe in. That's why I'm writing this. I really don't want to see anybody leave the Catholic Church. What I really want is Catholics to start acting like Catholics again.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

Books Written and Recommended by Shane...

for Protestants
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
A Reading List
for Serious Catholics

Monday, September 18, 2017

Martin Luther was an Anti-Semite

Martin Luther Nails his 95 Theses to the Door of Wittenberg Chapel
Painted by Ferdinand Willem Pauwels (1830 - 1904)

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Revolution. Commonly known in history books as the "Protestant Reformation" I refuse to call it that, because nothing was "reformed" in Protestantism. The real reformation happened later, during the Council of Trent (AD 1545 - 1563), in which the Catholic Church reformed its practises and clearly defined its doctrine. Within Protestantism however, nothing was "reformed" at all. What we got instead was an endless revolution, which completely redefined the Christian faith, and set the Western world up for numerous religious wars and persecutions between Christians, followed by the birth of numerous Protestant denominations and sects.

The reason why this year is marked as the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Revolution is because on October 31, 1517 Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Chapel. The door served as a community bulletin board, which many people used to post messages, flyers and advertisements. It is entirely possible that Martin Luther did post his 95 Theses on that door, even though some doubt it, but if he did, it was hardly the dramatic act often portrayed in Protestant art (see above). This event, nevertheless, is heralded by most Protestants as the beginning of the Protestant Revolution.

Speaking as one who was baptised Lutheran, I must urge caution before revering this man as the "founder" of this event they call the "Reformation," and the religious movement commonly called "Protestantism." Martin Luther was an incredibly flawed individual, who verbally assailed anyone who disagreed with him, anathematised anyone who held to different beliefs, altered Scripture to fit his personal teachings, removed entire books and sections from the canon of Scripture, insisted that the pope is the Antichrist, believed the world would end within 100 years of his lifetime, and became what we in our time would call an anti-Semite. He is hardly a role model. That being said, I do not know a single Lutheran today who would approve of Martin Luther's teaching on the Jews, and I believe every Lutheran denomination has repudiated it. No Lutheran today, nor any Protestant for that matter, should be held accountable for this, since it was the opinion of just one man and has since been repudiated by just about everyone.

To be historically accurate, the Revolution, commonly called the "Reformation," did not really begin on October 31, 1517. Martin Luther's actions on that day were just a precursor to it. In fact, Luther remained a Catholic priest for another 3 years, and all those who followed him remained Catholics. They were just dissident or "cafeteria" Catholics, but they were still Catholics in a canonical sense. No official break with Rome had occurred yet. The real Protestant Revolution (commonly called the "Reformation") actually began on December 10, 1520, when Luther burned the papal bull of excommunication against him, along with the Church's Code of Canon Law, papal constitutions and various works of theology, declaring his schism with the Pope, Rome, and the Catholic Church. That's when the Protestant Revolution really began. It began with a bonfire and book burning, not the nailing of a theses to a door. Interestingly enough, Protestants often ignore this date.

Now in using the term "anti-Semite" I do so in the popular vernacular sense, not in the technical sense. The term did not exist in Luther's time. I understand the word "Semite," invented in the 1770s, technically refers to anyone who speaks, or who's ancestors spoke, one of the Semitic languages of the Near East, North Africa and Malta. So it could just as easily apply to Arabs as to Jews. However, in the popular vernacular sense, the term "Semite" is almost exclusively used to refer to Jews, and therefore an "anti-Semite," in the popular vernacular sense, is one who holds a sentiment of malice toward Jewish people, solely because they are Jewish. Hence, in the popular vernacular sense, I insist that Martin Luther was an anti-Semite. He was not an anti-Semite in a racial sense, but rather a religious sense, and this was due to his religious malice toward Jewish people. Some might argue with me on this, claiming that antisemitism is a purely racial term. I won't argue that that is the proper usage. However, the common and popular usage is understood as malice toward Jews. Luther is often cast as anti-Jewish, not antisemitic, because his malice was religiously motivated and not racially motivated. I say this is splitting hairs. It doesn't matter what his motivations were. What matters is what he said we should do to them, as we shall see below. Because of this splitting hairs, Luther has historically gotten a pass on his extremely unchristian malice toward Jews, having been labelled anti-Jewish rather than anti-Semitic. I will not give him this, nor will I split hairs on this issue. If Luther said any of these things in the 21st century, as he did in the 16th century, he would be labelled an Anti-Semite. So that's what he was as far as I'm concerned.

Concerning his malice toward the Jews, I'll let Martin Luther speak for himself. Early on in the Protestant Revolution, he was sympathetic toward the Jews for resisting the faith and teachings of the Catholic Church. However, once he had completed his new theological groundwork, he expected the Jews to convert to his "purified" version of Christianity. When they did not, he turned against them in the most ferocious way. The following is an English translation of an excerpt of his later writings against them...
What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice: 
First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honour of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know. 
Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God. 
Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. 
Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:10) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: "what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord." Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people's obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16:18, "You are Peter," etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach. 
Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home.
Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God's blessing in a good and worthy cause. 
Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3:19). For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants. 
Martin Luther, "On the Jews and their Lies" (Von den Juden und ihren L├╝gen), written in AD 1543  
(more information here)
So to review, Martin Luther (the so-called "Great Reformer") advised that Christians should...
  1. burn down Jewish synagogues and schools;
  2. put Jews in ghettos;
  3. rob Jews of their religious writings;
  4. forbid rabbis from preaching;
  5. allow Jews to get mugged, robbed, raped and beaten on the highways;
  6. take away all the worldly possessions of Jews and not return them until they convert to Luther's form of Christianity.
  7. put Jews to work by manual labour.
This is Martin Luther in his own words folks. This is what he taught, and this is what he believed. Centuries later, his writings were used by the Nazis as justification for the concentration camps and the Holocaust. Personally, I find the celebration of this man and his teachings disturbing on so many levels. In my opinion he was not the hero people commonly make him out to be. When the celebrations begin this October 31, we should keep in mind that the man being celebrated was perhaps the greatest menace to European Jewry during his time. While the Catholic Church has failed many times to protect Jews, at least there were some valiant attempts to safeguard European Jewry in the form of papal documents and decrees prior to the Protestant Revolution. Martin Luther overturned all that for the entire Protestant world at that time (northern Europe). This is the man much of the Christian world will be celebrating this October 31. I won't be joining them. I sincerely hope you won't either.


Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

Books Written and Recommended by Shane...

for Protestants
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
A Reading List
for Serious Catholics