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Hayley Shirley wrote:

Hi there,

I am a baptized Catholic who has received Holy Communion and have been confirmed.
For forty-two years I have followed and believed in the Catholic faith.

I have a few questions that have been really bothering me and thought you could assist me with the answers.

  1. Why did the Catholic Church take away the Second Commandment and break the
    Tenth Commandment into the Ninth and Tenth?
  2. Why does the Pope sit on a chair with an upside down cross on it?
  3. Why is there an obelisk outside the Vatican? This is a pagan sign. (the phallus)
  4. Why are images of the sun and moon adorned all over the Vatican?
  5. Who gave the Catholic Church the right to change the Sabbath to a Sunday,
    which is actually the Sun, which is pagan?
  6. Why is our Pope seen bowing to a statue of Mary?
  7. Are we worshipping Yahweh in the West or the sun god in the East?
    It seems that the Catholic Church is worshipping false idols, yet covering it up.
    • Am I being deceived?

The Apostolic church also claims that the head of their church is a direct descendant of Peter, therefore they also have claim to the Church built on this rock. The Bible warns of making any changes to the Word of God.

  • What about false images that adorn our parishes?

From my view, we have broken many of the commandments and the Word of God.


  { Can you answer some questions that have bothered me on the Commandments and the Papacy? }

Bob replied:


Who is feeding you all this text book anti-Catholic rubbish?

  • Seventh Day Adventists?
  • Jehovah's Witnesses or

perhaps you have been reading:

In any case, all these things have been addressed in numerous books by many authors. At the risk of you thinking I am avoiding these issues, I would rather find out where you started to feel that no one in the Church cared about you or bothered to connect with you. Any decent church puts people first, and if you have felt neglected, I assume it is one of two things.

  1. the community of Catholic Christians you have belonged to has failed on what it means to belong to the body of Christ.

  2. there is something in particular to your relationship to that community that is awry
    (no effort on your part, or someone may have [offended/hurt] you deeply).

In the first case, there is hope that you can find a better parish to associate with and fulfill what it means to belong to the Body of Christ.

In the latter case, I hope you will give equal effort towards understanding your Catholic faith heritage as the (unknown challengers) others faith, and consider how forgiveness and reconciliation might take place.

Doctrine will not settle the relationship problems that have separated you from the family of believers that is the Catholic Church. If it is truly doctrinal issues you seek to resolve, (which
I doubt is the central issue)
, I can recommend several great books that deal directly with many of the types of items you listed, the first being Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating. While this was written about 20 years ago, it is still a solid resource for understanding some of the accusations that are often bandied about by anti-Catholics. There are many other books I can recommend, but I would rather know more first.

If you are willing to open up with what is the real deal, I would be happy to dialogue with you.
I have no desire to go through those lengthy lists of accusations of paganism and such that keep us from the meat and potatoes of differences with other Christians. (Been there, done that.)

  • So, do you want to share your story?


Bob Kirby

Hayley replied:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your reply.

That is exactly what I was expecting; you don't have the answers for me so I assume you are one of the many being deceived.

I asked questions, which you could not answer. (Been there, done that.) is not an answer.

I was brought up in the Catholic faith from birth and my father was a converted Anglican, who befriended a young Catholic priest and started studying to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Obviously, my birth proves he decided against it, however, I have always followed the doctrines taught to me. I was also educated at Saint Columbus Convent and attended Mass every Friday and Sunday morning, so I am well taught and educated with the Catholic teachings up until now, which is the reason I was querying.

I have not read Babylon mystery, and am certainly not being fed anti-Catholic rubbish, and do not waste my time reading anti-Christian books. I have read many books on the Roman Catholic faith, but I feel you read what they wanted you to know.

I don't recall mentioning that I felt that no one in the Church cared about, or was connecting with, me. You sound more like a psychologist.  Nothing is awry with my parish, they just answered in the same manner as you have now done.

  • How can you judge the parish I am with?

I am certainly not hurt or offended. Sorry, I don't have a story to tell and there is nothing to open up about.

The irony is that no one is answering my questions.  Now you are insinuating that I am a woman with a hurtful past. I am not and hopefully never will be.

I don't need a better parish; I need answers from my Church, regardless which parish I am in. Nothing has separated me from the family of believers. I am a Christian, who will carry on being a God-fearing woman until I die.

When my children come to me with a question, I try to answer them to the best of my ability, and don't ask who is feeding them rubbish. I never turn them away or suggest they look for another family, which is what you have done.

You could not answer my questions because they are truths and facts. Look on the internet and do your homework. They are staring you in the face, yet it is being covered up.

  • Why?
  • Why do you reply to me with arrogance and anger?

Your reply is pushing me away from the Catholic faith, but never from God!!

You sound like an angry man Bob, with no patience and willingness to answers to questions about the Catholic faith, it's actually sad because you openly knock the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witness in your opening line to me. I have never communicated with anyone from these religions and know nothing about their faiths, yet you judge them!!

Your site is obviously not there to assist, it's there to deceive and brain wash people.

You will be in my prayers and God bless you.


Bob replied:


You have misinterpreted my response.

First of all, I am sorry that I offended you. That was not my intent. I was merely trying to elicit what has turned you on to such negative thinking. We receive hundreds, even thousands, of inquiries to the site, and we answer virtually every one. More often than not, however, when someone sends in a letter like yours, there is a story behind the litany of accusations towards the Church that is the real critical issue. Likewise, we receive a number of bait mails from anti-Catholics that would rather use up our resources chasing down tiresome, absolutely false, and meaningless, and quite endless bits, not unlike, sadly, some of the issues you have raised. I have been doing this for twenty years and have seen it all. (hence, — I've been there, done that.) I am not unable, or unwilling, to answer your questions, just a bit concerned, at what is driving you.

Your response to my response, ironically, seems to be a bit angry. I do have patience, otherwise,
I wouldn't be part of this group that seeks to help people find authentic information on the Catholic Faith. Furthermore, I have found it good practice to put people first, and [doctrines/issues] second. As a parent, you must know that often there is something remotely responsible for difficult behaviors that emanate from family members. We all play a shrink to some extent.

You said, I was angry. I am not. You said, I was more like a psychologist. Only to a certain extent, in order to find out what drives the inquiries.

You say you expected my reply as such, and that I was one of the many being deceived, and that you felt you read what they wanted you to know. That kind of talk, to me, is indicative of conspiracy thinking, and again, makes me wonder if I would be wasting my time to try and help with these issues when there is something much larger driving the negativity.

It is difficult to take you seriously when you make ignorant remarks like that.

I have a Masters Degree from Boston College in Theology, have studied Eastern Religions at the college level and have read, debated, and studied many different religions for most of my adult life — I think I am a little beyond knowing just what they want me to know. I say that, not because my pride has been wounded, but because I think a little reality check is needed in response to your remarks.

  • Do you think they (the Catholic Church) is controlled by Satan and is attempting to control — brainwash people away from the truth?

If so, that is clearly a much larger issue than even the sum of the things you listed.

  • If that is your concern, why don't you plainly state it?

I would only ask you to be honest.

Now that I have make clear my concerns, I'll move on. Assuming that you are earnest and that there is no conspiracy thinking obstructing your judgment, here are my responses.

  1. With respect to the breaking down of the commandments. The ten commandments are listed in both the books of Exodus 20:2-5 and Deuteronomy 5:6-9 and have slightly different lists in each place. There actually is no numerical distinction in the books to indicate what the ten consist of. Jewish sources have traditionally broken the list down in different ways according to whichever Rabbinic school they were associated with. Likewise, Protestant and Catholics have also broken them down differently but neither has done it with malice. They are merely drawing from different ancient traditions. (There have been anti-Catholic sects that try to break the list down to condemn particularly Catholic religious practices and art.)

    There is no omission of the Second Commandment (here I am assuming that you are referring to the you shall carve no image verse that comes from Deuteronomy 5:8.) This is directly condemning a practice of idol worship that is referred to in the first part of the verse no other gods. There was an ancient practice of worshiping these things as though they were in fact, gods, but even the Lord Himself instructed the Jews to fabricate what would be considered graven images in several places, most notably in the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, the central reliquary in Jewish worship.

    "Make two cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends of the propitiatory, fastening them so that one cherub springs direct for each end. The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, over in the propitiatory with them; they shall be turned toward each other, but with their faces looking toward the propitiatory." (Exodus 25:18ff).
    These images, that adorned the most holy object of Jewish veneration, would be damnable according to the interpretation of the fundamentalists that condemn Catholic art. To be consistent, they would have to condemn God as well. Catholics do not worship images, but use them as means to instruct and remind us of the events and saints they represent.

    They inspire us to imitate and reflect on God's grace and heroic accomplishments in His faithful. Holy music is meant to do the same. They lift our senses and imagination but can in no way take the place of God, who is infinite and glorious. Lastly, the breaking down of the final two commandments has to do with the emphasis taken from the Early Church with respect for purity as something unique and singled out by Christ:

    "Every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)
    Thus the two commandments each focus on two important, but distinct, areas of human concupiscence:

    • freedom from lust, and
    • freedom from greed or avarice with respect to others goods.

    While interrelated, the distinction brings the necessary focus on maintaining an inward control with respect to carnal desires. (There is more to all this, but for brevity sake I will move on to the next issue you mentioned.)

  2. The pope's chair has an upside cross on it because he sits in the chair of Peter.

    To see a example of an ancient tradition that Christ himself used, when referring to the Pharisees and the chair of Moses, read Matthew 23:1-3. The chair represents the office of the individual. Peter was given the keys to the kingdom in Matthew 16, and his office continues in the ministry of the Pope. Since Peter was crucified upside down, deeming himself not worthy to be right side up, as his Lord was crucified, the Pope's chair commemorates that act of humility that Peter endured.

  3. The obelisk in St. Peter's square was originally brought to Rome from Egypt to be part of Nero's Circus. It was where they held games that often involved the butchering of Christian martyrs. It probably was the last thing that Peter saw before he died at the hands of his torturers. The Church kept the monument as a testament to all those whose blood was shed for the sake of the Kingdom. The Church sees itself as literally built on the blood of the martyrs.

  4. The images of the sun and moon come from Scripture and are symbolic of God and his Church; Christ and his mother Mary.

    "A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth."

    (Revelation 12:1-2)
    Symbols were important, especially for more ancient cultures where the vast majority of people were illiterate and relied on sacred art to tell the story. For economic reasons, simplified images were used to simply beautify what would otherwise be dead space.
    The ancient artisans tried to make the sacred space as beautiful to behold as possible —kind of a preview of coming attractions, with respect to the coming kingdom of God.

  5. The Church changed the Sabbath to Sunday because She has the authority to do so from Christ Himself. Christ invested his full authority in his Apostles, Peter holding the keys which represents his own complete authority. The ancient Church celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord on Sunday and decided that it was more fitting for the weekly Sabbath. Since Christ gave them the power to bind and loose all things. Read
    Matthew 16:18ff,  Matthew 18, and Matthew 28:18. They were authorized to do so.

  6. The Pope is bowing to the statue only in as much as the statue represents Mary, the real person the statue signifies. The statue is merely a reminder of Mary, not Mary.  In a similar manner, a crucifix is a reminder of Our Lord's Passion and Death on the Cross, not Our Lord Himself. We honor these things only as signs that point to the real person behind them. We worship God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit; we honor his saints that exemplify His great work in them. Mary is our greatest role model, for she was given the unique grace to be the Mother of His Son, Jesus. Mary has a special role in our Church because her job was special. As a mother, you probably understand better than anyone.

  7. Finally, we worship God, not the sun god. That is absurd.
    • Have you ever met a Catholic who worships the sun?

Maybe the Son, but not the sun. Again, the sun is sometimes used as a symbol of God because of images from the Scriptures, i.e. Revelation 22:5.

I would be saddened to see you leave the Catholic Church because of misconceptions about the teachings and practices. You claimed I was driving you away from the Church. I could hardly do that through one e-mail if you were not already looking for reasons to leave.

You mentioned finding information on the internet. I assume you have found many of these objections from internet sources. There are also many good Catholic sources to be found on the web as well. For example, try Catholic Answers at

As to the final question in your original e-mail where you said:

The Apostolic church also claims that the head of their church is a direct descendant of Peter, therefore they also have claim to the Church built on this rock.

While others churches can make claims to Apostolicity, there is only one Church that holds the office of Peter, the legitimate Papacy. Only the Catholic church can authenticate that claim.
Any one who tells you otherwise is misleading you.

I am still curious how this started with you, and where you are getting your information.

Feel free to write back.


Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Hi Hayley,

I read your initial question and have followed your dialogue with Bob.

I find it hard to believe that For forty-two years I have followed and believed in the Catholic faith yet are asking these type of questions. We usually receive questions like these from people who were never taught the faith correctly or have been given a straw horse or phony version of what the Church believes.

That said, there are many parish religious education programs that could be greatly improved.
To this day, I have never heard of any CCD program that even mentions Catholic Apologetics or the Early Church Fathers. If you truly wish to teach your children what the Church truly believes, get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read it yourself first, then teach it to your children.

Bob's choice of Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating is an excellent choice for people who have run into false or Protestant thinking about what Catholic's believe.

In addition, I would read up on what the very first Christians said and believed about the faith. These first Christians are referred to as the Early Church Fathers. A standard resource book used by Catholic defenders like me and Bob is William Jurgen's Faith of the Early Fathers. You may also find my other web site on what the Early Church Fathers:

  • thought
  • taught, and
  • died for, interesting.

From your e-mail address I assume you are from South Africa. The Catholic Church is booming in Africa so getting a Catechism should be easy.

As with all queries to our site, your feedback is welcome . . . if it is sincere.


Hayley replied:

Hi Mike,

Yes, I am from South Africa and I don't require a Catechism of the Catholic Church. My father was studying to be a Catholic priest and I am well educated in the Catholic faith.

As you have read in my e-mail to Bob, I also attended a Catholic school. I have no phony version of the Catholic church.  My version is:

  • what the sisters taught me
  • what I read in my Bible, and
  • what the priests taught us at Mass. 

The Catholic Church is very well established in South Africa which you are surely aware of, therefore I cannot imagine that I was taught a phony version or any other version for that matter, because we all teach the same Catholic doctrines.

Why my questions have angered everyone is amusing. Please understand that they are sincere questions. These are questions I was asked at a dinner party we attended (no alcohol involved).   When the subject turned to religion and a gentleman started knocking the Catholics, being
a Catholic, I took offense and tried to defend what I knew to be the Catholic faith.  Certain questions he posed I could not answer e.g. the ones I have asked in my original e-mail to your site.

I was shocked by the fact that I could not respond to any of his questions. It was a little embarrassing and unsettling for me. These questions were never taught or explained to us,
as I am sure no Catholic church in the world would teach or preach this to their parish.

Try to explain what an obelisk is to a ten year old. I never knew it existed at the Vatican until
I saw the images, so excuse the ignorance.

I ask you:

  • Why I am being criticized for my questions?
  • Why have I angered so many people out there?

I required answers, yet am slapped with disbelief that I am a Catholic. There is no conspiracy
thinking here nor am a scorned woman. I did my own research before I posted the e-mail to Bob.
I addressed the e-mail to no one in particular, I think I started, Hi there, and posed the questions, which seems to have upset a number of people. I obviously chose the wrong site to pose these questions to.  There are no negative hidden agendas here. I required honest answers, which seems to have upset you, Bob, and my parish priest.

  • Why?

There is no false thinking here. Some of the questions had visuals and any normal person would question them after seeing them in black and white.

A normal explanation would have sufficed. The criticism regarding my Catholic teachings and beliefs were not necessary.

  • If a son goes to his father and asks him a question, does the child not have the right to an honest answer?

I am and always will be a believer and a God-fearing woman, regardless. I do not judge other religions.

  • If they believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit than who am I, a humble woman, to judge them?

I was asking about my Church.

You and Bob refer to yourselves as defenders, so obviously you have had to defend our faith and explain a lot of things.

  • Why do you knock my 42 years of being a Catholic?

Yes I am angry, because if this is how my church replies and treats me, I would rather never ask a question again. I apologize for visiting your site.

Yes, I am sincere. I don't know you and you don't know me, so let me introduce myself.

My name is Hayley, I am a white South African citizen (not that this matters). I have been blessed with a son of 17 and a daughter of 13, which God has loaned me. My husband belongs to the (NG) Nederduitse Gereformeerde church, which is an Afrikaans church.  We attend his services now and then but more often attend the Catholic Masses each Sunday. Both my children are being brought up in the Catholic faith.  We were also married in the Catholic Church and I read the Catholic Bible; my hubby reads the King James version. The kids read my version. Our religions have never clashed. We are a very happy family and everyone comments of the warmth and love in our home, so we must at least be good Christians.  I recite the Our Father and Holy Mary every day of my life. I also occasionally throw in St. Anthony when I cant find my car keys (hee, hee), so please don't find it hard to believe that I follow the Catholic faith.  There should be no bounds on what questions we can ask in the Church. Put it this way, it has taken 42 years of being a devout Catholic before I asked these questions.  They would probably never have come up, had they not been brought to my attention.

I thought I was sincere, yet I was accused of being anti-Catholic, speaking to Jehovah's Witnesses, or having an underlying hurtful problem or past. If this is how my Church handles questions, they don't like, than I will refrain from asking them again. I am in disbelief at what has happened here. I am not a con. I am a normal, every day mother busy with a first year Psychology degree. Plain and simple. I am not high up in the Church; I am just one parishioner in the congregation who is obviously not allowed to question the faith.

Sorry to sound angry, but I am a little emotional at this time.

Thank you for taking time to reply, I don't expect you to communicate back, because I can see
I have obviously become a lost soul in your eyes. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

Regards and good night, it's 10:30pm in South Africa and a beautiful evening.

God bless you,


Mike replied:

Hi Hayley,

Let me share with you where I believe both me and Bob are confused.

First, no one who has answered questions from this web site is angry or upset with any question we have been asked. We welcome sincere questions about the Church. Our main goal is to clarify misconceptions and teachings about the Catholic Church Jesus founded 2,000 years ago on
St. Peter.

If it appeared that Bob didn't answer your question initially, it is because as he explained, some e-mailer's ask certain questions and make statements that are so far from basic Catholic teachings, we have to question their sincerity. For Example:

You said:

  • Why did the Catholic Church take away the Second Commandment . . .
  • It seems that the Catholic Church is worshipping false idols, yet covering it up.

then you said later:
I don't require a Catechism of the Catholic Church. My father was studying to be a Catholic priest and I am well educated in the Catholic faith.

These statements contradict each other.

  • What do I mean?

Any one who has read the whole Catechism knows that the Church has never worshipped false idols, nor are we covering anything up, nor has She taken away the Second Commandment.


  • You received terrible religious education from the nuns, if they taught we worship false idols and that Catholics break the Second Commandment, or
  • You have been talking to a non-Catholic, the gentleman at dinner, who has received some erroneous information about what we believe from other ignorant or anti-Catholic people.

    If your Gentlemen friend at dinner is interested in the Church, instead of making things up that are untrue, he should read the Catechism and find out what Catholics believe.

That's my opinion of what's going on.

Many of your original seven questions could have been answered and clarified if you had previously read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I have no idea why you are not interested in reading it.

There is a secondary reason for our presence on the web:

Not all the teachings and questions that Catholics and non-Catholics have can be found in the Catechism.

You said:

  • Why is there an obelisk outside the Vatican?

That by itself is a good question but when you add: This is a pagan sign. (the phallus)

the implication is that Catholics are pagan.

  • Why would the nuns teach that you belong to a pagan Church?
  • Can you at least acknowledge that Bob did answer your questions on his second reply to you?

Part of the problem with the world wide web is we receive many questions and unless the questioners tell us where they are from, we can incorrectly assume they live in the United States, where our apostolate is located, (in the Worcester-Boston area). I believe Bob will agree with me that within the Church there are different:

  • cultures
  • education levels, and
  • ethnic backgrounds.

Despite the differences in culture within the Church, one thing the Church would never want any member to do is to stop asking questions if there are certain teachings they are confused about or struggle with.

The only dumb question is the one not asked!

You are blessed to be a Catholic and therefore have the ability to receive Our Blessed Lord every day, if not weekly in the Eucharist. It is through the Eucharist, that Our Lord meets each individual Catholic in the world, right where he or she is, and increases the life of grace in [his/her] soul.

Since you are in Africa, I know you won't read this for another 7 hours, but we welcome your reply.

I also agree with Bob: This book Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating will help answer questions from insincere Protestants and Christians like your dinner friend. It will also help you, know the answer to the question before it is asked. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, if not for you, for your children and their education in the faith.

Take care my sister,


Mary Ann replied:

HI Hayley,

I think what threw people off with your initial e-mail is:

You did not ask if some things were so; you stated that they were so, and asked why.

It seemed that you were not asking about issues. It would be like me asking,

"Hayley, why do you beat your husband?"

The short answers to your questions:

  1. It didn't.
  2. It isn't.
  3. The obelisk is a victory symbol, and marks the spot of martyrdom.
  4. If suns and moons are all over the Vatican (I have been there and have not seen them).
    It would be a case of a depiction of creation praising the Lord. The psalms are full of the sun and the moon.
  5. Jesus did. He rose on Sunday, starting a new creation.
  6. The Pope does not bow to a statue. He may kneel to pray and bow his head in front of a statute, but that is because he is praying, not because of the statue. The statue is just a reminder of the person we are praying to — much as someone might kiss a photo.

Mary Ann

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