The Roman Catholic church of the middle ages

The Roman Catholic church of the middle ages

The Protestant Reformation happened for a reason. Basically, it was to combat the many false teachings that the Roman Catholic Church had adopted through the centuries. When Martin Luther compared Catholicism to Scripture, the result was his nailing the 95 theses to the Wittenberg door. However, instead of reforming the Roman Catholic Church, it resulted in the protesters, the Protestants, who sought to get back to the Scriptures.  The Catholic Church then tried to kill Luther.  But, the Reformation had begun and it spread throughout Europe.

Following is a summarized paragraph with references found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) of many of the false teachings of Roman Catholicism. How do we know they are false? By comparing Scripture with what is taught.

The Catholic Church is the one true church (CCC 2105), Infallibility of the Catholic Church, (CCC 2035), Only the Roman Catholic Church has authority to interpret Scripture (CCC 100), The Pope is the head of the church and has the authority of Christ (CCC 2034), The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation (CCC 846), Sacred Tradition equal to scripture (CCC 82), Forgiveness of sins, salvation, is by faith and works (CCC 2036 CCC 2080 2068), Full benefit of Salvation is only through the Roman Catholic Church (Vatican 2, Decree on Ecumenism, 3), Grace can be merited (CCC 2010 CCC 2027), The merit of Mary and the Saints can be applied to Catholics and others (1477), Penance is necessary for salvation (CCC 980), Purgatory (CCC 1031 CCC 1475), Indulgences (CCC 1471 CCC 1478 CCC 1498 CCC 1472), Mary is Mediatrix (CCC 969), Mary brings us the gifts of eternal salvation (CCC 969), Mary delivers souls from death (CCC 966), Prayer to the saints (CCC 2677), The Communion elements become the actual body and blood of Christ (CCC 1374 CCC 1376).

  1. The Catholic church is the one true church
    1.  CCC 2105 “The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is ‘the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ.’ By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them ‘to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live.’ The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church. Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.”
  2. Infallibility of the Catholic Church
    1. CCC 2035, “The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.”
  3. Only the Roman Catholic Church has the authority to interpret Scripture
    1. CCC 100, “The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.”
  4. The Pope is the head of the church and has the authority of Christ
    1. CCC 2034, “The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are ‘authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice.’ The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.”
  5. The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation
    1. CCC 846, “How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”
  6. Sacred Tradition equal to scripture
    1. CCC 82, “…the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation are entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.’”
  7. Forgiveness of sins, salvation, is by faith and works
    1. CCC 2036, “The specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the creator, is necessary for salvation.”
    2. CCC 2080, “The Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law. It is made known to us by divine revelation and by human reason.”
    3. CCC 2068, “so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments,”
  8. The full benefit of Salvation is only through the Roman Catholic Church
    1. “For it is only through Christ’s Catholic Church, which is “the all-embracing means of salvation,” that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation,”  (Vatican 2, Decree on Ecumenism, 3).
  9. Grace can be merited
    1. CCC 2010, “Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification.”
    2. CCC 2027, “Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.”
  10. The merit of Mary and the Saints can be applied to Catholics and others
    1. 1477, “This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body.”
  11. Penance is necessary for salvation
    1. CCC 980, “This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.”
  12. Purgatory
    1. CCC 1031, “The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:
    2. CCC 1475, “In the communion of saints, “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.” In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.
  13. Indulgences
    1. CCC 1471, “The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance. What is an indulgence? ‘An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.’ ‘An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.’ The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.”
    2. CCC 1478, “An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.
    3. CCC 1498, “Through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory.”
    4. CCC 1472, “…On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin…”
  14. Mary (there are many false doctrines concerning Mary found in Roman Catholicism, here are a few)     
    1. Mary is Mediatrix, CCC 969, “Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.’”
    2. Mary brings us the gifts of eternal salvation, CCC 969, “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation…”
    3. Mary delivers souls from death, CCC 966, “…You [Mary] conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.”
  15. Prayer to the saints
    1. CCC 2677, “By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the ‘Mother of Mercy,’ the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender ‘the hour of our death’ wholly to her care.”
  16. The Communion elements become the actual body and blood of Christ
    1. CCC 1374, “In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.”
    2. CCC 1376, “The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”
    1. From 590 to 1517, the Roman Church dominated the western world. The Roman Catholic Church controlled religion, philosophy, morals, politics, art and education. This was the dark ages for true Christianity. The vital doctrines of Biblical Christianity had almost disappeared, and with the neglect of true doctrine came the passing of life and light that constitutes the worship of the One True God as declared in Christ.
    2. The Roman Catholic Church was theologically sick and its theology led to atrocious corruptions. It was spiritually exhausted, enfeebled and almost lifeless. Rome had seriously departed from the teaching of the Bible and was engrossed in real heresy.
    3. There can be no appreciation for the Reformation until one sees the great spiritual need of the western world in the 16th century. No Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant or Independent can gloss over the period of history from 590 to 1517. This period is a “black spot” to all who name the name of Christ, but it is Christian history.
    1. Infallibility of the Pope. While this was not an officially declared dogma of the Roman Church (it became official dogma in 1870), it was an assumed fact. As early as 590, Gregory the Great called himself “the servant of servants,” believing that he was supreme among all bishops. Another pope, Hildebrand or Gregory VII (11th century), held that, as vicar of Christ and representative of Peter, he could give or take empires. Everyone from the lowest peasant to the highest ruler was to recognize him as Christ’s representative on earth and supreme ruler over all religious and political matters. Another pope (14th century) Boniface VII, said,

“We declare, state, define and pronounce that for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pope is altogether necessary for salvation” (Caper, The Church in History).

    1. Salvation in the Roman Church Only. Rome taught that all who did not acknowledge the pope as God’s representative on earth and the Roman Catholic Church as the only true church were damned. Salvation was confined within the teachings of the Roman Church. Every person who disagreed with the Roman Church was in line for a heresy trial and perhaps excommunication. Excommunication meant the loss of one’s soul.
    2. Salvation by Works. By the 14th century, Augustinian theology was lost or badly neglected. Rome had accepted almost in totality the freewill teaching of Pelagius (5th century) that it had formerly repudiated. Salvation was not caused by God’s grace through a supernatural new birth, but by assent to Roman Catholic dogma and practice. Faith was not trust in Christ for salvation, but submission to the church. Salvation was not by grace through faith in Christ alone, but by faith in the church and good works prescribed by the church. Practically speaking, “good works” consisted of mere external obedience to the church, and did not necessarily flow from a life of faith in Christ. The Roman Catholic Church stressed external actions, legal observance and penitential works. Man actually gained heaven by his works.
    3. Complete Sanctification. Rome taught sinless perfectionism. They confused justification and sanctification, teaching that men were justified by God’s work in their own hearts and experience. Justification became subjective rather than objective. God was said to infuse grace and transform the sinful nature. By this transforming change within him, the believer was said to be made just in God’s sight. As the Christian received more grace, he was said to become less sinful and therefore more just in God’s sight.

“Rome held out to men the possibility of becoming pure and sinless saints (ontological perfection), and those who attained this perfection reached sainthood and were qualified to enter heaven at the hour of death. Those who did not become perfect and absolutely sinless in the flesh would need to go to purgatory after death and thus be made completely just and qualified to enter heaven” (“The Great Issues of the Reformation,” Present Truth).

    1. Worshiping of Saints. The more a person practiced external works, the more saintlike he became and the closer he came to heaven. Some men, who were good enough to be called saints, lived lives advanced in holiness beyond what was required of them. They were made saints by the church. Many of these saints were worshiped by the Roman Catholic Church and became mediators between God and man.

“When Pelagianism laid down the doctrine that man could attain a state of perfect sanctification, it affirmed also that the merits of saints and martyrs might be applied to the Church. A peculiar power was attributed to their intercession. Prayers were made to them; their aid was invoked in all the sorrows of life; and a real idolatry thus supplanted the adoration of the living and true God” (J. H. Merle D’aubigne, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, 1848).

    1. Exaltation of the Clergy. The doctrine of sinless perfectionism strengthened the position of the Roman hierarchy. The clergy were thought to be more holy than the average people. Being more holy, they were special channels of the grace of God. Thus, the clergy had the authority from God to dispense God’s grace.

“Salvation, taken from the hands of God, fell into those of the priests, who set themselves in the place of our Lord. Souls thirsting for pardon were no more to look to heaven, but to the Church, and above all to its pretended head. To these blinded souls the Roman pontiff was God. Hence the greatness of the popes – hence unutterable abuses” (D’aubigne).

    1. System of Penance. From a “works” theology flowed the idea of penance. Men had to do certain external acts to prove the reality of their faith. At first penance consisted of certain public expressions of repentance for people involved in scandal, but it was soon extended to every sin, even to the most secret. Penance was considered as sort of a punishment to which it was necessary to submit in order to obtain the forgiveness of God through the priest’s absolution. Instead of looking to Christ alone for forgiveness, it was sought in the church principally through penitential works.

“Great importance was soon attached to external marks of repentance –to tears, fasting, and mortification of the flesh; and inward regeneration of the heart, which alone constitutes a real conversion, was forgotten.

“As confession and penance are easier than the extirpation of sin and the abandonment of vice, many ceased contending against the lusts of the flesh, and preferred gratifying them at the expense of a few mortifications.

“The penitential works, thus substituted for the salvation of God, were multiplied in the Church from Tertullian down to the thirteenth century. Men were required to fast, to go barefoot, to wear no linen, etc.; to quit their homes and their native land for distant countries; or to renounce the world and embrace a monastic life.

“In the eleventh century voluntary flagellations were super added to these practices; somewhat later they become quite a mania in Italy, which was then in a very disturbed state. Nobles and peasants, old and young, even children of five years of age, whose only covering was a cloth tied round the middle, went in pairs, by hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands, through the towns and villages, visiting the churches in the depth of winter. Armed with scourges, they flogged each other without pity, and the streets resounded with cries and groans that drew tears from all who heard them” (D’aubigne).

    1. System of Indulgences. Indulgences were a system of exchange whereby the priests employed their special rapport with God to perform certain religious acts for laymen. For a price, Clergy would pray, fast and read scripture for a person. In other words, priestly services were bought. This was later developed into buying up time one might have to spend in purgatory.

“Incest, if not detected, was to cost five groats; and six, if it was known. There was a stated price for murder, infanticide, adultery, perjury, burglary, etc. ‘O disgrace of Rome!’ exclaims Claude d’Espence, a Roman divine: and we may add, O disgrace of human nature! for we can utter no reproach against Rome that does not recoil on man himself. Rome is human nature exalted in some of its worst propensities” (D’aubigne).

    1. System of Confession. Since the clergy through the church were dispensers of God’s grace, they also had the authority to forgive sins. Private confession was abandoned for auricular confession to the priest.
    1. Immorality of the Clergy. Celibacy for clergy became Roman Church law in 1079. This mandate tempted all kinds of immorality. The abodes of the clergy were often dens of corruption. It was a common sight to see priests frequenting the taverns, gambling, and having orgies with quarrels and blasphemy. Many of the clergy kept mistresses, and convents became houses of ill fame. In many places the people were delighted at seeing a priest keep a mistress, that the married women might be safe from his seductions.

“In many places the priest paid the bishop a regular tax for the women with whom he lived, and for each child he had by her. A German bishop said publically one day, at a great entertainment, that in one year eleven thousand priests had presented themselves before him for that purpose. It is Erasmus who relates this” (D’aubigne).

    1. Immorality of the People. Morality declined with the decline of faith. Take away supernatural salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and you take away sanctification and good works. Indulgences were looked upon by the common man as a license to sin, for men could buy their forgiveness.
    2. Ignorance of Clergy. Many of the clergy had come to their offices through political maneuvering. In a country parish one person called the clergy “miserable wretches . . . previously raised from beggary, and who had been cooks, musicians, huntsmen, stable boys and even worse.” Clergy no longer had to learn and teach the Scriptures, for the church told them what to do. Even the superior clergymen were sunk in great ignorance in spiritual matters. They had secular learning, but knew very little of the Bible.

“A bishop of Dunfeld congratulated himself on having never learnt either Greek or Hebrew. The monks asserted that all heresies arose from those two languages, and particularly from the Greek. ‘The New Testament,’ said one of them, ‘is a book full of serpents and thorns. Greek,’ continued he, ‘is a new and recently invented language, and we must be upon our guard against it. As for Hebrew, my dear brethren, it is certain that all who learn it immediately become Jews.’

“Even the faculty of theology at Paris scrupled not to declare to the parliament: ‘Religion is ruined, if you permit the study of Greek and Hebrew'” (D’aubigne).

    1. Inquisition. This organization was designed to inquire into the spread of heresy and to call before its tribunal Catholics suspected of heresy with a view to securing their repentance. The accused were sometimes tortured and even put to death. The Inquisition was a disgrace to men who call themselves followers of God.
    2. The Papal Schism. From 1378-1417 there were three simultaneous popes, each claiming to be the true pope: Urban VII, an Italian; Clement VII, a Frenchman; and a third pope elected by the Council of Pisa. For several years there were three popes anathematizing and excommunicating one another.
    3. The Practice of Simony. Simony was the sinful practice of giving or obtaining an appointment to a church office for money. This was a common practice in the Middle Ages, even in the obtaining of the office of pope.
    4. Relics. Rome, playing on the ignorance of people, held all kinds of relics in veneration.

“In the church of All Saints at Wittenberg was shown a fragment of Noah’s ark, some soot from the furnace of the Three Children, a piece of wood from the cradle of Jesus Christ, some hair from the beard of St. Christopher, and nineteen thousand other relics of greater or less value” (D’aubigne).

    1. Some Roman Catholic Heresies and Inventions, and the Dates of their Adoption:
  1. Prayers for the dead; about 300
  2. Making the sign of the cross; 300
  3. Wax candles; about 320
  4. Veneration of angels and dead saints, and use of images; 375
  5. The Mass as a daily celebration; 394
  6. Beginning of the exaltation of Mary, the term “Mother of God” first applied to her by the Council of Ephesus; 431
  7. Priests began to dress differently from laymen; 500
  8. Extreme Unction; 526
  9. The doctrine of Purgatory, established by Gregory I; 593
  10. Latin Language, used in prayer and worship, imposed by Gregory I; 600
  11. Prayers directed to Mary, dead saints and angels; about 600
  12. Title of pope, or universal bishop, given to Boniface III by emperor Phocas; 610
  13. Kissing the pope s foot, began with pope Constantine; 709
  14. Temporal power of the popes, conferred by Pepin, king of France; 750
  15. Worship of the cross, images and relics, authorized in; 786
  16. Holy water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by a priest; 850
  17. Worship of St. Joseph; 890
  18. College of Cardinals established; 927
  19. Baptism of bells, instituted by pope John XIV; 965
  20. Canonization of dead saints, first by pope John XV; 995
  21. Fasting of Fridays and during lent; 998
  22. The Mass, developed gradually as a sacrifice, attendance made obligatory in the 11th century
  23. Celibacy of the priesthood, decreed by pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand); 1079
  24. The Rosary, mechanical praying with beads, invented by Peter the Hermit; 1090
  25. The Inquisition, instituted by the Council of Verona; 1184
  26. Sale of Indulgences; 1190
  27. Transubstantiation, proclaimed by pope Innocent III; 1215
  28. Auricular Confession of sins to a priest instead of to God, instituted by pope Innocent III, in Lateran Council; 1215
  29. Adoration of the wafer (Host), decreed by pope Honorius III; 1220
  30. Bible forbidden to laymen, placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Council of Valencia; 1229
  31. The Scapular, invented by Simon Stock, an English monk; 1287
  32. Cup forbidden to the people at communion by Council of Constance; 1414
  33. Purgatory proclaimed as a dogma by the Council of Florence; 1438
  34. The doctrine of Seven Sacraments affirmed; 1439
  35. The Ave Maria (part of the last half was completed 50 years later and approved by pope Sixtus V at the end of the 16th century); 1508
  36. Jesuit order founded by Loyola; 1534
  37. Tradition declared of equal authority with the Bible by the Council of Trent; 1545
  38. Apocryphal books added to the Bible by the Council of Trent; 1546
  39. Creed of pope Pius IV imposed as the official creed; 1560
  40. Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, proclaimed by pope Pius IX; 1854
  41. Syllabus of Errors, proclaimed by pope Pius IX, and ratified by the Vatican Council; condemned freedom of religion, conscience, speech, press, and scientific discoveries which are disapproved by the Roman Church; asserted the pope s temporal authority over all civil rulers; 1864
  42. Infallibility of the pope in matters of faith and morals, proclaimed by the Vatican Council; 1870
  43. Public Schools condemned by Pope Pius XI; 1930
  44. Assumption of the Virgin Mary (bodily ascension into heaven shortly after her death), proclaimed by Pope Pius XII; 1950
    1. Add to these many others: monks, nuns, monasteries, convents, forty days lent, holy week, Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, All Saints Day, Candlemas, fish day, meat days, incense, holy oil, holy palms, Christopher medals, charms, novenas, and others.

Matt Slick |

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