"Scholars have found that over 75% of rites and ceremonies practiced by the Roman Catholic church are of pagan origin..."


#1

A member of an online community which I am a member of made this remark. Besides the fact that the high number is probably complete bunk… Admittedly there are aspects of earlier faiths which the Church has incorporated for the sake of its new believers. What should I say to this person, and people in general, who make the claim that the Church is ‘polluted’ with Pagan elements?


#2

The burden of proof is on them. If they insist on putting the Church on trial, they must make a clear charge, and back it up with clear proof.
It can’t be upon you (or the rest of us) to address this vague accusation firstly because of the rules of debating, and more fundamentally because of the huge number of rites and ceremonies we have.
When you finally do extract a specific charge from your honourable opponent, they must show not just a similarity between a Catholic rite and a pagan one, but that the pagan rite predates the Catholic, that it directly led to the Catholic ritual, and that this is a truly negative thing.


#3

forgot to say this earlier…the number is actually closer to zero…as in…zero.


#4

If they’re anti-Catholic Protestants, then show them this link “PROVING” that Christianity itself is a Pagan clone:

The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors (or Christianity Before Christ)

infidels.org/library/historical/kersey_graves/16/index.html

Use their scholarship methodology against them. They “prove” too much.


#5

C.S Lewis stated that almost every aspect of Christianity could be found in pagen orgins including the Resurrection of Jesus Christ… He believed that the devil was mocking and mimicking things he knew were to come to distort them.


#6

I don’t have a problem with Pagan traditions being incorporated into our culture, provided it doesn’t contradict our faith; It helps us to assimilate with those communities and preach to them about Jesus.

For example; December 25th was the pagan winter solstice festival, celebrating the birth of light. We used it to our advantage, celebrating the birth of the Jesus, the Light of the World. I think that helped to win the souls of those pagans.

I wonder if the pilgrimage to Mecca would ever be incorporated into Catholic culture; It would help us to be closer with Muslims. Although, I do think, it’ll never happen in our life time.


#7


In the first place I doubt that they can even
tell you what Catholic rites and cermonies are. But give them the benefit of the doubt-first ask them to list all the Catholic Rites and ceremonies and then ask them to tell you which of these rites/ceremonies had Pagan orogin.


#8

its these types of things which really trip me up. Is there any good refutation agaisnt these so called pagan saviors before christ


#9

First off, anyone who has done much debating well knows that the burden of proof can be shifted back and forth, as any claim can be reworded so that the other claimant is the one making the affirmative claim. Burden of proof rests with neither person by default.

Second off, expecting conclusive proof that the church took a pagan ritual and converted it is an awfully high standard to expect…one that you surely can’t meet in showing how traditions came to be.


#10

Excuse me!!!

Helped win the souls?

If you call pursicution and butchery winning souls, then you would be right. If you call changing the date of the birth of your saviour to something that co-ensides with others beliefs “our advantage” then yes you are right (although changing the birth date of my saviour reeks of disrespect for him).

You should study some history before you start dropping such off handed remarks. You might find that a lot traditions that have been “incorperated” into your culture contradict your faith, at the very least by the way that they were “incorperated” into your culture.


#11

Then please do us a favor then and point out to us these horrible pagan beliefs or practices that contradict our faith. I would very much like to know.

Also, maybe we should change Christ’s birthday back to the day of his birth. Wait…we don’t know what day he was born! If Jesus Christ was willing to die for our sins then would it be so hard for him to allow us to have the date of the celebration of his birth changed to a pagan holiday which would attract pagans to Christianity and to Christ himself? It may seem trivial to you that a date would help encourage a pagan to convert to the one true faith, but that is fact; at least with the pagan of the day.

God bless.

Vigis


#12

I can’t believe these guys are calling our Jewish friends Pagans!!!

Isn’t that where we get a lot of our rites and rituals?


#13

You want to know?

Then perhaps you should study up on them, see for yourself if they contradict your beliefs instead of simply following blindly. Its what I did.

I agree that Christs birthdate should be changed, religious scollars have traced it to April so far. As for not knowing what the exact date is, whos fault is that?

As to Christ not minding us changing the date, that is really beside the point. This is a guy that died for us, he spent 3 years teaching us how to do the right thing and finish off by having a painful death. All for us.

Now how do we say thanks to the guy?

We change his birth date in order to usurp other peoples beliefs (something he told us not to do), after we couldnt kill them off or stop them practicing their own festivals, just because it was convienent for us and we could trick people into converting (never mind thatwe still killed those that didnt convert). Yep that seems pretty trivial to me (never mind that these festivals had been practiced for 2-4 thousand years before the birth of Christ).

It was the wrong thing to do for so many reasons (disrespectful, go against Christs teachings/our beliefs ect), we should admit that and try and rectify the mistake that was made rather than label it a “trivial date change”.


#14

It must be Scripture’s fault, for not giving an exact date.

The rest of your rant merits limited response.

There is nothing pagan with Christmas (Christ’s Mass) or Easter, if that’s what you’re thinking. Unless pagans were celebrating the birth of Christ and his death & resurrection.

The Holy Catholic Church has full divine authority to teach. As part of that function, the Church has full authority to develop a liturgical calendar as an aid to teaching and worship.

Finally, note that it is Christ who built the Church.* He is ultimately responsible for the liturgy and calendar. Some divine inspiration involved. But of course, you don’t acknowledge Christ as head and builder of the Church - not really. At most, you recognize Christ as a symbolic figurehead.

  • Christ is head and builder of the Church, and not because we “allow” him to be, as I think many Protestants approach it. Christ is head and builder whether we allow him to be or not.

#15

Luke, in his Gospel, explicitly states that Jesus was born on/around December 25th.

As for the liturgy, it is a mix of Hebrew Temple worship and Roman emperor worship.

Instead of worshiping an unseen God at the Hebrew Temple of the Old Covenant, or a known man at a Roman Temple, we worship the seen and known God-Man at one of the many Hebrew Temples of the New Covenant. There is nothing inherently wrong with paganism as long as it points the way towards Jesus. Remember, almost all of our ancestors once were pagans, but became Catholics - and for a reason - their old pagan religions were incomplete shadows of the beauty of the fullness of the Faith to come. There wasn’t a massive slaughter to convert pagan Europe to Christianity, despite popular claims. The people accepted the Faith with glee! The Faith finally brought to them Hope, Love, and Charity.

Anyway, about Jesus being born on December 25th, I’m willing to point it out in Luke’s Gospel if anyone is willing to listen…


#16

Scholars have found that over 75% of rites and ceremonies practiced by the Roman Catholic church are of pagan origin…

That sounds about right. After all, of our four Gospels, at least 50% are of pagan origin (Mark and Luke were certainly pagans, and many scholars question that “Matthew” was the Jewish Apostle Matthew). So it’s quite possible that 75% of our Gospel is of pagan origin (at LEAST half of it certainly is).

Thank God for the faith of the pagans (which was praised by Jesus and Apostles alike)! If Christianity had been left to the Jews, I wonder what would have happened!


#17

This quote, almost verbatim, has been circulating for decades. Your friend is just repeating it.

Ask specific questions about their claim:

Who are the “scholars?” What are their names? What are their fields of scholarship? (being a doctor of theology doesn’t make one a qualified historian). How did they go about documenting a specific rite or ceremony as having come from paganism? What evidence constitutes this documentation? What published works contain their findings? What year were these works published? Who published them? What other scholars have approved their conclusions? Does the historical community generally accept their findings? What history books contain this information? Can I walk into a public library or a bookstore and find a history textbook that contains this information? Why not?

If your friend cannot provide specific information, then how do they expect to convince you of such a bizarre claim?


#18

Similarity does not show causation. For instance, if you name your son Matthew, and I name my son Matthew, that doesn’t prove that you were copying me or that I was copying you. By the same reasoning, the fact that the Jewish people had a high priest and that some pagans also had high priests doesn’t mean that one was copying the other.

Even pagans have some limited sense of a few divine truths (see Romans Chapter 3). The fact that pagan myths contain some dim reflections of divine truths here and there (amid many errors) doesn’t show any cause-and-effect relationship between paganism and Christianity.


#19

This doesn’t sound like Lewis on the foreshadowings and “good dreams” of pagan myth. Where does he say this? (I know—I don’t like it either when people make me dig through my library looking for something. Sorry.) :hypno:


#20

The Church did not “change” the birth date of Jesus. The date was never known. In the 3rd and 4th centuries heresies arose that challenged either the divinity or the humanity of Christ. Fixing the observation of a feast to coincide with what nature already does by bringing light into the world again after the darkness of winter (which happened to coincide with pagan feasts commemorating the same thing) seemed perfectly opportune.

I would like to back up this statement with a quote from one of the Early Fathers who even in the early 5th century (Christmas was introduced into the liturgical calendar in 404 A.D., if memory serves) was responding to these claims of “paganism.” I will try to find the author and the exact quote but it is something like this (I paraphrase): “If it is claimed that we are worshiping the sun, what better response can we give than that we are indeed worshiping the true Sun of Righteousness come into the world.”

Again: the feast of the Holy Nativity was established not to commerate the precise day of the Lord’s birth but to commemorate the fact if the Incarnation as it has come to be understood through the hammering out of ecumenical councils in the previous century.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.