Lies

There are many misunderstandings about what the Catholic Church teaches and does. This page is meant to give brief responses to some common lies and misconceptions. Even if you disagree with the Catholic Church it is only fair that you hear what she actually claims and why she does so.

The responses are not meant to be complete. Other Web sites provide much more detailed answers. These answers are merely meant to present the reader with a Catholic perspective on the issues.

God does not want you to call a priest “father.”
Catholics worship Mary.
Catholics confess sins to men, not God.
The Church is invisible.
The Pope is not in the Bible.
The Bread and Wine are just symbols.
Catholics pray to dead people, not God.
We can interpret the Bible without the Church.
God doesn’t care what Church you join.
The Catholic Church is a man-made institution.
Papal infallibility is a recent invention of the Catholic Church.


God does not want you to call a priest father.

Matthew 23:8-12 -
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

At a glance this would seem to prohibit the use of the words for father, master, and teacher (rabbi) among Christians. After few moments of thought we would realize that we would no longer have a word to describe a male parent or a teacher. Another possibility might be that Jesus was criticizing the attitude of the pharisees and telling the future leaders of His Church not to seek worldly honor and power.

Is this possibility supported by Sacred Scripture?

Yes. In following passages the leaders of the early Church refer to themselves and others as “father.”

Acts 21:40, 22:1, Romans 4:16-17, 1 Corinthians 4:14-15, 1 Timothy 1:2, Hebrews 12:7-9, Philemon 1:10, 1 John 2:13-14

Obviously, the first generation of Christian leaders did not think that Our Lord had given a literal prohibition on the use of the word “father.” Neither do Catholics today.
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Catholics worship Mary.

No, we don’t. Faithful Catholics seek to love Our Lord as Mary loves Him and to love Mary as Our Lord loves her.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church–

2083
Jesus summed up man's duties toward God in this saying: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This immediately echoes the solemn call: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD." God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the "ten words." The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God.

971
"All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."

Remember, Our Lord gave His mother to the disciple He loved, to be taken into his home as his mother. Faithful Catholics seek to do the same.
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Catholics confess sins to men, not God.

Catholics do confess their sins to men that have been given the authority to forgive sins. Our Lord gave this authority to the apostles and they passed it on throughout the centuries by giving it to their successors. This power is explicitly shown in the Gospel of John.

John 20:19-23 Then the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them [his] hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace [be] unto you: as [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on [them], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; [and] whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained.

Faithful Catholics take these words of Our Lord very seriously. I have confessed my sins to Catholic priests and privately to God. Believe me; it is more difficult to confess to a visible representative of Christ. For me it brings about a deeper reflection upon my sins and a greater commitment to change. Priests, bishops, and even the Pope go to other priests for confession.
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The Church is invisible.

There is no mention in the Bible that the Church on earth would be invisible. If this were true Our Lord’s disciples could not follow his direction for settling disputes between fellow Christians.

Matthew 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

The early Church had visible leadership that has been maintained throughout the centuries. The false idea of an invisible church with no divinely guided leadership is necessary if a person wishes to belong to a church of more recent origins.
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The Pope is not in the Bible.

It is true that the word “pope” is not in the Bible; however, the office of pope is clearly described.

Matthew 16:15-19 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Similar words were used in the book of Isaiah to describe the chief office under the king.

Isaiah 22:20-23 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him [as] a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house

When Our Lord spoke to Peter He was describing a similar office in His kingdom.

This is shown again when Jesus gives specific instructions to Peter in Luke 22:32 and John 21:17. Peter’s unique office is apparent when reading the first 15 chapters of the book of Acts. We see that Peter directed that Judas’ office be filled and the selection of the successor (Acts 1:13-26), led the preaching at Pentecost (Acts 2:14), received the first converts (Acts 2:41), inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 5:21), received the revelation to admit gentiles into the Church (Acts 10:44-46), led the first church council (Acts 15:7), and settled the first major dispute (Acts 15:19).
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The Bread and Wine are just symbols.

Catholics take the words of Our Lord at the last supper “this is my body” and “this is my blood” as literal (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-30) and as the fulfillment of His promise made in the Gospel of John.

John 6:51-66
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard [this], said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? [What] and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Notice that those present took Him literally and He reinforced this understanding of His words. Our Lord did clarify that it was not His flesh that gave life, but His spirit that is received with it.

Catholics believe that when we receive Holy Communion we receive Our Lord into us and us into Him. We believe that He is fully present in what appears to be bread and wine after the priest says the words of consecration. He is there, body and blood, soul and divinity.

This is a hard teaching for many to accept. It demands great faith in Our Lord’s words.

A review of the writings of the early Church fathers supports the Catholic belief in Holy Communion, but there is more. All of the churches that have broken from the Catholic Church throughout the centuries AND are headed by those with true apostolic authority share the same belief of the Catholics. The oldest of these splits occurred in 431 AD (the Assyrian Church). Only the more recent churches (those following the Protestant Reformation), who broke without retaining the continuity of apostolic authority, lost that belief.
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Catholics pray to dead people, not God.

Catholics recognize there is one mediator, Jesus Christ, but like other Christians, they pray for one another and ask each other to do so. Those who have died in Christ are not separated from Him or from His Church. The letter to the Hebrews states that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). If these witness are about us and alive in the presence of Jesus Christ then they can pray for us as can our other Christian brothers and sisters.
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We can interpret the Bible without the Church.

This thought is contrary to what is actually written in Sacred Scripture.

2 Peter 1:19-21
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.

2 Peter 3:15-16
And account [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

So Sacred Scripture is not open to individual interpretation and those who are unlearned and unstable will make serious errors in interpretation. This helps explain why there are so many conflicting differences in belief among Christian churches. No matter what you believe, you can find a church that will agree with you.

If the Bible alone was sufficient to guide the faithful to the Truth about God then the Protestant Reformation would have led to a greater unity of faith. Instead, it led to an ever increasing diversity of faiths and confusion.
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God doesn’t care what Church you join.

This would only be true if He did not establish a real, visible Church. There are thousands of different denominations and they disagree on the most fundamental issues...and everything else.

Can non-Christians be saved? Baptists say no. Episcopalians say yes.

Is baptism necessary for salvation? Churches of Christ say yes. Presbyterians say no.

Can salvation be lost? Many non-denominational churches say no. The Church of God in Christ says yes.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church has written down its teachings throughout the centuries and it maintains that what it taught in the first century is the same as its teachings in 2004. Many anti-Catholic Christians challenge this claim. Read the examples of the changes and discuss them with a knowledgeable Catholic. You will see that Catholic consistency has been maintained.
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The Catholic Church is a man-made institution.

The exact opposite is the case. The leaders of the Catholic and Orthodox churches (other apostolic churches that split from the Catholic Church) trace their authority through the successive ordination of their bishops back to the apostles. The other churches lack such historical continuity. The origin of their churches can generally be traced back to the work of one man or a group of men, making them man-made.
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Papal infallibility is a recent invention of the Catholic Church.

Note: Infallibility is defined in section 891 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as:

"The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed," and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith." This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

The teaching is clearly laid out in Sacred Scripture. Our Lord told St. Peter that what he bound on earth was bound in heaven, clearly showing us that he would have authority to speak for God to others on earth (Matthew 16:16-19). Similarly, the leaders of the Church were given the same authority when they speak collectively (Matthew 18:19). Our Lord also promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church (John 16:13). Putting the pieces together, it would seem clear that He would guide His Church through those He promised authority. A faithful Catholic simply trusts in those promises.
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