I just got back from work at my Anglican parish, and it was Confirmation classes today. The topic was the three big Creeds of the Church: Nicene, Apostles’ and Athanasian. We only got through the Nicene one, while briefly touching on the other two. In the process of talking through the Creed, some questions came up on my part, and comments from others involved the Catholic Church. I will list the latter first, requesting answers on those that you can address.
My priest said he had actually considered becoming a Catholic priest but did eventually not become one because he couldn’t accept two things: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Infallibility of the Pope. He said that the Assumption was nowhere in Scripture and he therefore couldn’t teach it, as he would have been required to. I got back to him right after the session and asked him about who he thought the one “to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” was and who his Mother was, referring to Revelation 12. His reply was he would have to read it, but stays away from Revelation as it is so complicated.
The Anglican Church bases its teaching on “Scripture, Tradition and reason”, he said. One point of illustration was the ordination of women. “It doesn’t say in the Bible there were women priests, but neither does it that there were none. It was just not possible in that culture.” But reason, he says, tells us today that women could be priests.
For some reason we came across Purgatory (probably because I asked something about judgement and said ‘You either go to hell, or heaven eventually’). My priest says that the Catholic Church is actually backing off the doctrine? I find it hard to believe, do you know anything about that? He said that they had theological classes together with Catholic seminarians and that this topic was pushed aside. He unfortunately launched into a misrepresentation of Purgatory and Indulgences (not intentionally) in the classic Protestant manner. Third place, next to hell and heaven for eternity; buy your way out and offering Masses for money.
Now for my personal questions:
- In the Nicene Creed it says: “We believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” When the group headed for the conclusion that ‘catholic’ really means ‘universal’ (as it does) and that automatically includes all denominations, I got up and said: ‘The problem is, that the term ‘Catholic Church’ was in use from about 100 AD and certainly widely known by the time of Nicaea. It referred specifically to that one Church with all her doctrines’ (I implied communion with the Bishop of Rome). My priest’s answer was: ‘Well, see it’s a lower case “c” in “catholic” not upper case. Who says it includes the doctrines?’
I couldn’t respond really well, first because we didn’t have much time, and second because I just didn’t know how to. How can I make the point that the Church referred to in the Creed is the Catholic Church and not all denominations?
It’s the first time I really took sides so clearly in discussions. Many know that I am Catholic in my beliefs (yet not nominally or sacramentally), including Catholics who attend the Anglican service. I have asked my priest a few questions that are ‘typical Catholic topics’, and he thinks it’s really good to ask those questions and look for answers. It’s not that he is closed-minded, but that the replies I get aren’t the ones I expect.
- Are there any passages of Scripture that hint at the Infallibility of the Pope?
If you can, could you help me with this? God bless you all.