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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catholic Saints

The New York Times reported it this past weekend. News from Rome that the Catholic Pope Benedict XVI has canonized five new saints Sunday, including a 19th-century Belgian priest who worked with lepers in Hawaii.

The news reported that a large delegation from Hawaii attended the ceremony, "including a Hawaii resident who recovered from cancer after pray to the Belgian born priest, Jozef De Veuster (known as Father Damien.)" The Vatican had pronounced her recovery (from cancer) a miracle.

Now this Father Damien, whom the Pope promoted to sainthood over the weekend, actually died in 1889. In fact, all of the people that the Pope canonized are dead (as is the tradition in the Catholic church). And of course all of them appear to have lived virtuous lives, dedicated to God. Certainly all of them had a profound impact on humanity during their lifetimes. Their lives are a testament to faith in God and fine examples for the rest of us to follow.

But let us not miss the heresy here. For starters, God says that all are equal. None are above the others. So it is not to the Catholic church to decide who is elevated in heaven. If there are levels in heaven (as some will argue), then there can be no argument that it is God Himself who determines which are the saints, versus the common inhabitants of heaven. In fact, we cannot even be certain that these so-called saints are even in heaven!

Another aspect of the heresy is that people of the Catholic faith pray to other dead people. And the church acknowledges it ... instead of rebuking it and correcting it. I've blogged before about the heresy of the Catholic tradition praying to the Virgin Mary (Jesus' birth mother). I suspect this goes to another level, simply praying to any dead person that the Vatican decides is important spiritually (i.e., canonizes as a saint). Let's be clear here: Christ-followers are not to pray to anyone but God Himself.

I'm fully aware that the Catholic church has done much good in our society. I'm also aware that most Catholics are decent, righteous people. Some of them are my dear friends. But it grieves me to see the Catholic church, as an institution, so badly misleading its people into heresy.

The Bible says there will be special punishment for spiritual leaders who lead others astray. Perhaps it is the Pope who should repent then. And when he's finished, he could call the rest of his church to repentance and align their Catholic traditions with Biblical truth. It would be nice if all those poor Catholics could pray to the One who can truly help them!

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