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Michael Deem wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have three questions I would like you to address:

  1. Regarding Idols: the 2nd Commandment states neither shalt thou bow down to them nor worship them. I understand that the Church teaches the cross, icons, crucifix, and statues are a visual depiction of a lesson or situation; however:

    • I noticed that Catholics bow when a cross passes by and
    • I've heard Nuns refer to the statues and crucifix as Jesus or Mary and refer to them as living (i.e. He's home, if I could just touch the statue I'll be healed, etc).

        How is this not idolatry?

  2. The only Catholic parish in my county has aligned itself with a Methodist Church to carry out many of their events. Although the Church accepts all baptisms from any protestant church as valid, it still teaches they're heretics and not in Communion.

      Isn't this alignment counter productive to the ministry of the Catholic Church?

  3. The same church in question 2 has a ministry for corporal works: feeding, clothing and helping the poor; however, when Protestants go for help, they're chastised, reported to Social Services, and told they only help once or twice and all other assistance are for Catholics only. Their 990 charitable records show excessive gains, profits for the nuns, benefits, and aid for the Nuns running the charity.

      Is this apostasy, or within Catholic Doctrine?
      And if it is acceptable, how is it within the teaching of the Gospel?

I'm asking because I'm pulled between my Baptist heritage, the calling I hear for the Catholic Church, and the acts of local Catholics. If I do convert, I would be joining the only parish within
45 miles; it's the one I referenced here. Their are wolves in sheep's clothing everywhere, but I'm confused from what is taught and what is represented by the ordained.

Thank you for your help!

Michael Deem

  { How does the Church explain and reconcile these issues within its doctrine? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Michael —

A bow when a cross passes by is most likely the custom of bowing the head at the name of Jesus, which is a Catholic practice based on Scripture; the person is probably praying His name as it passes. Otherwise, it may simply be a gesture of respect, as one does when greeting or acknowledging someone. As for referring to statues as living, that is pious metaphor only,
and the people who engage in it know that very well. It is no different than saying of portraits:

"my grandfather is here and my mother is there, but my grandmother is out getting her frame fixed."

The Catholic Church works together with many groups for social justice purposes. That does not compromise the faith, but works on the basis of the beliefs we have in common, which are significant, when you think about it.

You said:

  1. The same church in question 2 has a ministry for corporal works: feeding, clothing and helping the poor; however, when Protestants go for help, they're chastised, reported to Social Services, and told they only help once or twice and all other assistance are for Catholics only. Their 990 charitable records show excessive gains, profits for the nuns, benefits, and aid for the Nuns running the charity.

      Is this apostasy, or within Catholic Doctrine?
      And if it is acceptable, how is it within the teaching of the Gospel?

I doubt very seriously that they are chastised or reported. There is probably a misunderstanding here, something I have encountered when I worked with charitable groups. The clients are given immediate help and then referred to Social Services, as are Catholics. Most emergency aid, like the St. Vincent de Paul Society, has a limit on the number of times a person can be helped in a quarter, so that people don't use the service at the expense of the more needy. People are also encouraged to come up with part of what they need themselves, through friends and family. As for the 990, the records of the charity are different from the Church records, though the Church may include them as part of its budget. The gains of the Church may be for the purpose of a building fund or other needs, including salaries. The nuns need to live, also, and need to pay social security taxes. Church monies to support Church workers is logical and based in Scripture: (St. Paul: "the laborer is worthy of his hire". 1 Timothy 5:18.) Also: Matthew 10:10, Luke 10:7.

We should always be slow to believe an evil report, and give the benefit of the doubt. Even if this Church were misbehaving, it does not affect the Word and Sacrament it offers you, and think of this:

perhaps God is calling you to help change things!

Mary Ann

Mike replied:

Hi, Michael —

I just wanted to add to my colleagues answer.

In your second question you said:
Although the Church accepts all baptisms from any protestant church as valid,

Your statement has to be clarified a bit. While many baptisms are viewed from the Church as valid, especially from those that believe and teach in the Trinity, the Church does not necessarily accept all baptisms from all protestant churches. The local pastor will be able to discern a valid baptism from one that is not. If the parish is unsure, the unbaptized may be conditionally baptized. e.g. the priest will say:

"If you have not been baptized, I baptized you:

  • in the name of the Father, (he pours water over the head of the infant or adult)
  • the Son, (he pours water over the head of the infant or adult again),
  • and of the Holy Spirit." (he pours water over the head of the infant or adult a final time.)

Hope this helps,

Mike

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