History of church- severely disappointed in work, would like actual answer


The sacrament of Confession, according to “A concise history of the Catholic church”, seems to render the act of confession as non-existent until the middle ages- saying that the only form was one where bishops would almost excommunicate penitent confessors, forbidding communion for a monastic life where marriages were not to be followed, obviously, I would like to understand the source of this, which seems almost to be under the anathemas of tent- which denies practice which is present not only in the Latin church- can any clear this up for me?


In the article on the Sacrament of Penance in the Catholic Encyclopedia mention is made of the beliefs and practices of the early Church.


I tossed out my copy of that book nearly ten years ago.


Yes, it seems so, I am so frustrated, I spent money a Paulene’s Bookstore South Africa to get it along with other books, spent an hour driving.:mad:


seems a good response:) - I am so angry with such liberal, non-catholic views, considering what Trent Anathematized as non-catholic, I think this book should not be sold in Catholic Bookstores.

P.s. :shrug: Where can I get a good copy of Trent and Baltimore, been reading them online (original intent of going there, but they had no copies to speak of there):cool:


“Among the modernistic propositions condemned by Pius X in the Decree “Lamentabili sane” (July 3, 1907) are the following: “In the primitive Church there was no concept of the reconciliation of the Christian sinner by the authority of the Church, but the Church by very slow degrees only grew accustomed to this concept. Moreover, even after penance came to be recognized as an institution of the Church, it was not called by the name of sacrament, because it was regarded as an odious sacrament” (46): and: “The Lord’s words: ‚ÄòReceive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain they are retained (John xx, 22-23), in no way refer to the Sacrament of Penance, whatever the Fathers of Trent may have been pleased to assert” (47). According to the Council of Trent, the consensus of all the Fathers always understood that by the words of Christ just cited, the power of forgiving and retaining sins was communicated to the Apostles and their lawful successors (Sess. XIV, c. i). It is therefore Catholic doctrine that the Church from the earliest times believed in the power to forgive sins as granted by Christ to the Apostles. Such a belief in fact was clearly inculcated by the words with which Christ granted the power, and it would have been inexplicable to the early Christians if any one who professed faith in Christ had questioned the existence of that power in the Church. But if, contrariwise, we suppose that no such belief existed from the beginning, we encounter a still greater difficulty: the first mention of that power would have been regarded as an innovation both needless and intolerable; it would have shown little practical wisdom on the part of those who were endeavoring to draw men to Christ; and it would have raised a protest or led to a schism which would certainly have gone on record as plainly at least as did early divisions on matters of less importance. Yet no such record is found; even those who sought to limit the power itself presupposed its existence, and their very attempt at limitation put them in opposition to the prevalent Catholic belief.”
:cool: :thumbsup: :rolleyes:


Your best book on the development of this doctrine is

A History of Penance by Oscar Watkins (two volumes).

Kind of the equivalent to Darwell Stone’s massive two volumes on the Eucharist.

I quote some of the Watkins volumes in my article on the Fathers:

Whose Sins You Forgive: Confession and Penance in the early Fathers

There was a time when serious (mortal) sins could be forgiven only once in a lifetime, but that was relaxed in the 3rd or 4th century or so.

Phil P


Email to paulene media SOuth Africa, yet to be answered
sent July 27 2008
Titled with the following
Certain books in the Pauline media store, that I would like to discuss as to appropriateness
to (as well as a bcc)

My message’s content
"I recently purchased the book “a concise history of the catholic church”, the problem, which I have researched is it’s view of confession in history, which seems to appose trent’s view, as well as quotes of the church fathers, this is not the only issue I found problemmatic in this.

Also the “modern Catholic Encyclopedia” seems critical of the church, and of the editors, the website- “Catholic Culture” says that she is not a very good source, to interpret what they say of her view of Jesus:

here are the links on research I have done since finding the content in the first book, I would like a response, also, does Pauline SA sell authentic translations of Trent, or copies of the 1913 encyclopedia, or baltimore, these are of interest to myself.

in any case, EWTN (locally shown in Radio Veritas, as well as other sites seem to appose the editors of the second book noted)

"While this theory of transignification has thoroughly permeated
theology in the United States, we will only look at a few examples
here. Monika K. Hellwig, a Georgetown University professor who
dedicated her earlier book, <Jesus: The Compassion of God>, to Piet
Schoonenberg, states about Jesus and the Eucharist:

In breaking it and giving it to them, he says: “Take and eat, for
this is my body.” It has generally been assumed that this was
intended to mean, “This bread is my body,” and that the task of
interpretation was concerned with what is meant by equating the two.
Scholars have, however, suggested that it more probably was intended
to mean that his action of blessing, breaking, sharing and eating in
such an assembly in his name and memory was to be seen as the
embodiment of the presence and Spirit and power of Jesus in the

Thus, Monika Hellwig says that Jesus’ intention was to spiritually
change the people or community, rather than the bread and wine, into
his Body and Blood."

Is Christ “Really” Among Us Today?
by Regis Scanlon

"Rejecting quite clearly the “magical understanding” of the Catholic Church in its dogmatic formulations of revealed truths concerning the after-life, Teilhardian theologian Hellwig goes on to thoroughly immanentize the extra-temporal realities of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. That is to say, following in the wake of other unbelieving exponents of “contemporary eschatology”, she proceeds to reduce these supernatural realities to mere symbols. For her, Heaven, Hell and Purgatory are not to be taken in any literal sense as realities beyond this visible world; rather they are immanent experiences in this world.

In rejecting body and soul as two separate substances united in one composite unity (with the soul as the form of the body), Hellwig is logically forced to dismiss the Church’s doctrine that the body will be reunited with the soul (in the resurrection of the dead) as the essentially false teaching of the past.
“The Church did take over the Greek understanding of the immortality of the soul and yet, somewhat inconsistently, taught bodily resurrection alongside it. In the course of this teaching, death became defined as the separation of body and soul, so that resurrection is imaged as the reclamation of a material body by the continually surviving soul.” (Page 57).
Hellwig clearly regards the doctrines held by the Church to be outright distortions of the “biblical message.” For her, when you are dead, you are really dead!
“The possibilities of awakening to full consciousness and full self-consciousness and full human responsibility happens during this biological life span or not at all.” (Page 6).
If anyone might question the destructive nature of Hellwig’s book (couched in fuzzy existentialist jargon), he or she has only to read Chapter 4 treating of the Resurrection of Our Lord. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ has been thoroughly demythologized, that is, reduced to a mere symbol. Hellwig assures her readers that the Resurrection of Christ cannot be viewed as the “resuscitation of a corpse.” (Page 49).

See also

search engine research

In any case, having spent so much on such books, I would appreciate their removal from the catalogue.


Marc Aupiais"


Reviews of the book in question from Amazon USA. I thought having two reviewers perspectives (a generally Pro and a generally Con) would be interesting…

     http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/x-locale/common/customer-reviews/stars-2-0._V47081858_.gif          **Needs more history and less editorializing**, April 1, 2004       

This book is an interesting although deeply flawed look at Church history over the past 2,000 years. It is less a history than a collection of moments in time without a true feel for the flow of events. In addition, many prominent events are simply ignored or passed over with barely a mention. Let me give a few brief examples. Little is said of the collapse of the Church in North Africa where it was thriving (Saint Augustine was a bishop in Hippo) until it was replaced by Islam. The Crusades are barely discussed and their effects on relations with the peoples of the Middle East aren’t discussed at all. The Thirty Years War is given a single paragraph. This is surprising because this war turned Europe from a continent of nations based on religion into a continent of nations where national loyalties were more important than religious loyalties. The loss of power of the religious leaders in Europe can be traced to that war.

This is fairly typical of the book. It discusses many prominent people such as Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome in some detail but fails to put their lives into a perspective of overall Church history. The flow of the book is often interrupted by jumps ahead and then back again so sometimes it is confusing because it isn’t clear as to what events have occurred and which are still to come. There is also a tendency in the book to move too fast at times and introduce characters with a sentence and then never mention them again.

All that being said, the book is not a complete failure. Taken from a Catholic viewpoint, the book is an acceptable, although incomplete, introduction to Church history. The author does not try to hide the bad acts of the Church that led to the Reformation, for example, and instead points out the critical failures of the Church. His discussion of some key Protestant leaders such as Luther and Calvin will enlighten those who knew little of their lives. In fact, the book is at its best when the author ignores trying to write a history and instead gives us short biographies of key figures in Church history.

The last part of the book covering the period since Vatican II was the most disappointing to me. The author abandons any attempt to write a history and instead turns the book into an editorial about the Church’s failure to become “modern” in the last 40 years. Strangely, this is the longest part of the book. I’m not sure how a book claiming to be a history can discuss 1,960 years of Church history in 400 pages and then the remaining 40 years are given more than 100 pages. Overall, the book is fair as an introduction to Church history until about 1900 but a failure as an editorial on the current Church.

      http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/x-locale/common/customer-reviews/stars-4-0._V47081936_.gif          **Interesting overview**, December 1, 2005

Depending on religious affiliation (or lack thereof) some might say that the Catholic church has been around since the first century. Others would claim that it was really born in the fourth century with the reign of Constantine. The author of this book gives the reader no doubt that he is of the former persuasion, with the first sentence of the introduction eluding to this very fact. Constantine takes his place in the book as someone who led the “decisive victory” over paganism. But give or take four hundred years, it is actually quite amazing that an institution, with such a tainted history like the Catholic church, could last for so long. There are no doubt many reasons for this, and the author discusses a few of them throughout the book. However one views the Catholic church, morally, theologically, or philosophically, it is readily apparent that it is not likely to go away in the near future.

There are many interesting facts that arise from the study of this book, and for readers (such as this reviewer), who hunger for an in-depth view of the history of Catholicism, this book gives a good start. The reader is easily convinced of the author’s objectivity, and considering the troubling state of historical analysis these days, it is indeed refreshing to find an author who distances himself from political and institutional pressures. Too many historians today engage in blatant sycophancy to their host institutions or political parties. This has the affect of alienating readers, instigating extreme skepticism among the genuinely curious, and raising the general level of truculence among historians themselves.

The Catholic church has had a major influence on Western society, this influence at many times extremely brutal, and at others constructive. Some of the more important facts and discussions that appear in the book include:

  1. The role of Pope Pius XII in the Nazi regime. This has been a hotly debated issue in recent years, and the author is sympathetic with Pius and frames him as holding to a position of neutrality against the Nazis. Pius did however attempt to counter the Nazi hostility towards the Catholic church as it was rising to power in the 1930’s.

  2. The Second Vatican Council and the origins of “Catholic liberalism”. The Council is characterized by the author as the most important religious event of the twentieth century up to the time it took place. Catholic liberalism has found much sympathy of late, and even the secular community has found common ground with some of its doctrines and political stances (there is still a “cold war” however between the secularists and the Catholic church at the present time, due in part to issues in biotechnology and genetic engineering). The doctrinal stands of the Council have no doubt contributed greatly to the survival of the Catholic church as it faces rapidly accelerating advances in science and technology. The author argues also however that many “average” Catholics were troubled by the stand of the Council and the new `liturgy’, which was no longer to be read in Latin. This removed the “mystery” behind it, and made it more “common”, with the effect that many “average” Catholics left the church.

  3. Augustine, and his doctrine of a “just war.” Augustine apparently had no qualms about persecuting the Donatists, a Christian sect at the time, and he wrote the first document in the history of the Catholic church that attempted to justify state suppression of non-Catholics (the Inquisition took up this justification with enthusiasm centuries later).

  4. St. Gregory the Great, who is characterized by the author as giving the papacy direction throughout the Middle Ages. It was Gregory who was responsible for linking the Spanish church to Rome. In addition, his ability to deal with the Lombards set the stage for the military campaigns of Charlemagne later on. The empire of Charlemagne however is described by the author as being a somewhat loose association of geographical areas, and should therefore not be thought of as a continuation of the Roman Empire. He does describe it however as encapsulating the concept of a Christian commonwealth, its inhabitants to later succumb to feudalism and the Crusades. Church and state, pope and emperor, were to become one after the death of Charlemagne, but as the author outlines in some detail, this union was not to last very long.

  5. The Crusades, which were certainly the most horrifying part of the history of the Catholic church. The author describes the Catholic church as attempting to exploit the war-like spirit of the times to its own ends. Thus originated the Catholic version of `holy war’, based in part on the writings of Augustine. Its results were brutal, with the First Crusade resulting in the slaughter of thousands of Moslem and Jewish residents of Jerusalem. It is difficult to understand how the participants of the Crusades could reconcile their Christian beliefs with this brutality. The author asks this question in the book, but he declares it to be outside the bounds of historical science.

These and many other fascinating facts will be found while perusing this book. One can only wonder what the state of the world would have been without the Catholic church. Certainly it has alleviated much suffering, through its proliferation of charities and has contributed at least indirectly to modern science. But…

[superfluous uncomplimentary dribble not directly about the book deleted… m ]



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