This grew out of a discussion I had with my brother, who became a Catholic recently. I am a Protestant. I understand that the official view of the Catholic church is that the Catholic church and the Pope never falls into error, correct?
Here are my questions (I have about 1,000 but I’ll limit them to three)
- Aquinas mentions that Pope Gregory only teaches the sacraments of “Baptism, Chrism, and the Body and Blood of Christ.” Yet now the church holds there to be seven sacraments. The Council of Trent says that “if anyone…saith that they [the sacraments] are more or less than seven… let him be anathema.”
What does that mean in relation to Pope Gregory? Isn’t the church committed to a view that if he said there were three sacraments, it was true in 600 but not true in 1563, and that truth is relative to the time we live in? Hypothetically, if we discovered aliens and a future Pope decreed that there be an eighth sacrament to bring aliens to repentance, would that not make the statements of the Council of Trent true for 1563, but false for 2150?
- For ~1,000 years, a priest who was hearing confession would say “May God have mercy on you and forgive you your sins.” Around the 12th century, this was changed to “I absolve you from your sins.” Which of these is true?
- Views on purgatory seem to have arisen some time between 600-1200. Belief in the Treasury of Merit originated around 1230. These views seem to have been heavily influenced by Jerome’s translation of “metanoia” from “repent” (inward work of the heart) to “do penance” (outward show of works). This (mis)translation is where Aquinas bases his view that sacrament is a penance, which seemed to influence the church’s decision to accept it as a new sacrament, despite the fact that Gregory did not hold this view. If Aquinas’ argument is based on a mistranslation, doesn’t that mean that the church is moving farther and farther away from the truth by holding this view?
Please help me understand the Catholic view as it pertains to truth in these matters.