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Douglas McSuite wrote:

Brothers Mike and John,

There were huge accusations thrown around regarding the Church clergy.

If you read the Bible in English, you should know of the story of William Tyndale.

He gave his life for translating the Bible into English and he's one of the many martyrs honored on the Martyrs Monument at (VOM) Voice of the Martyrs headquarters.

Please see the attached photo. [suppressed]

Douglas McSuite

  { Can you answer some questions on William Tyndale, Revelation 13, and Jesus' birthday? }

John replied:


First of all Tyndale was burned at the stake. Something that shouldn't have happened but that's the way things were done back then. The Protestants were just as guilty of similar actions. It was wrong no matter who did it. Now to the question of why it happened in Tyndale's case.

The Church had no problem with translating Bibles into the vernacular. The issue was unauthorized translations. While the Gutenberg Bible was translated into German around at that time, Martin Luther translated his own version of the Bible into German.

In his translation, he inserted the word alone in Romans 3:28 so it read:

we are justified by faith alone apart from works of the law.

Well, Paul never used the word alone in that verse. In fact Paul never says we're justified by faith alone. He says were freely justified by grace, by Christ's blood, by His Love. The only time in Scripture where faith alone ever shows up is in James . . . when he states we are not justified by faith alone. (James 2:24)

Luther also removed books from the Old Testament and wanted to remove books from the
New Testament as well.

Paul was talking about not being justified by works of the law . . . which means:

  • the Mosaic Law
  • Temple worship, and
  • circumcision.

Luther tried to change the meaning of the text and therefore was promulgating a heresy . . . especially because Luther's concept of faith was, for the most part, a passive mental assent or agreement, like you and I agreeing or believing that 2 + 2 = 4. But if you believe that faith is more than that . . . that implies fidelity . . . and so on then you maybe able to get away with saying faith alone.

I went through that explanation to point out what was happening at that time. Bibles were being translated that contained heretical translations and were missing books from the Old Testament. At the time, the clergy were, often times, member of the nobility and ruling class so it was almost para-military.

Yes, the clergy had indeed become corrupt. There is no doubt about that.

  • In part because these guys sold out to their local nobles or King.
  • In part, because the King or Emperor chose the bishops.

In fact up until the beginning of the twentieth century, the Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which succeeded the last European Emperor, had veto power over the election of Pope!

There is no doubt that clergy throughout the centuries committed huge sins. We can go back:

  • to the first Pope Peter who denied Christ and then repented or
  • to Judas who betrayed Christ and then committed suicide.

That has absolutely nothing to do with Catholic teaching. What needs to be remembered here, that, in spite of the sins committed by clergy members, none of this effected official Church Teaching. The Holy Spirit protects the Church, that is the Magisterium, (being the bishops in union with the Pope) from officially teaching error.

  • It doesn't mean the teaching always filters down properly, and
  • it also doesn't mean these guys are going to always do the right thing.

We have had Popes that were the most corrupt tyrants in history. They were so busy sinning, they never officially taught a thing!!

By the same token, you also have to remember history gets written by winners. In England, the Protestants won so the Tyndale story gets distorted and exaggerated. Don't get me wrong, this was a sin but remember the punishment of the day for heresy included being put to death. In those days, you could get put to death for just about anything.

Finally, you need to remember that as a result of the Protestant Reformation, the Protestants of Northern Europe, who had the printing presses, conducted a huge propaganda campaign:

  • Exaggerating what happened during the Spanish Inquisition, and
  • twisting the facts about who the inquisitors actually were and so forth.


Douglas replied:

Thanks John,

I have some clarification questions I hope you can help me with:

  • Wasn't the Gutenberg Bible produced prior to Martin Luther's bible or were they produced at the same time?

Some Catholics believe that the responsibility for the Tyndale's death was the king and not the pope.

  • What do you think?


John replied:

No Douglas,

With respect to Tyndale, the situation was a lot more complicated than it has been made out to be.

Tyndale wasn't killed just for translating the Bible in to English, as the Church forbid translating the Scriptures into the vernacular. From the very beginning, the Church always required that the Scriptures that were promulgated be authorized by the local bishop. This practice dates back to the late first or early second century. The Church's interest is to protect people from heresy thus whether it was a translation or a spurious letter being passed around prior to the canon, the Church always required approval.

Tyndale published an unauthorized translation. The Church had no quality control. She couldn't ensure he was using authentic Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and he claimed to have the authority to do what he wanted.

In that day and age, the lines between Church and State were practically non-existent. No doubt the clergy were involved in some horrible decisions but ultimately heresy was something you could be put to death for.

It was both an ecclesial and a civil offense.


Douglas replied:


If you don't mind, I have two questions regarding Revelation 13:16-18.

  1. What does the writing on the Pope's hat mean?
  2. Contrary to the way anti-Catholics calculate the Pope's title, how do Catholics exactly calculate it?
6 6 6


Mike replied:


This is a common question; it's even in our searchable knowledge base:

There are a lot of quick answers there, so give it a try.

I searched the knowledge base for you and found these web postings that should help:


John replied:


The nature of your questions all seem to be related to anti-Catholic distortions. You seem to find more objections to our answers. I really don't know exactly why this is, but I'm beginning to wonder exactly where you are coming from.

Obviously you are very familiar with anti-Catholic propaganda far more than you are with Catholic teaching. Somewhere along the line you started addressing me and Mike as Brother. I have no problem with you calling me brother, as we are brothers in Christ, but this isn't the typical language used by Catholics when addressing each other. It is usually the way Protestants, particularly fundamentalists address each other. Sometimes cult members like the Jehovah Witnesses address themselves as brother. It is very rare for Catholics to address one another as brother or sister unless they are part of a small community or religious order.

So I need to ask you:

  • Are you a Catholic?

If you aren't that's perfectly fine. We will still dialogue with you, if you really want to learn about our faith. We don't believe in pressuring anyone into converting. I believe Christ has called us all to be part of the One Church He established but I'm not the Holy's Spirit's Chief of Staff. I just share what I know and I respect what I learn about what others believe and why.

  • Are you a recent convert?

I'm not sure but you led us to believe that you were a Catholic trying to respond to non-Catholic claims about the Church. If that's not the case, I'd really appreciate you're honesty. If indeed you are Catholic: convert or otherwise, I would urge to immerse yourself in the Catholic faith, through the Liturgy and worship of God.

Defending the faith, is an admirable goal, if that's what you're genuinely trying to learn how to do but Apologetics (which is the field we work in) is secondary to personal spirituality and growth, otherwise it all becomes about winning arguments.

Apologetics involves both pastoral and theological training. Each of us at AskACatholic have some background, no matter how limited, in both these areas. I'm a former Protestant Minister who has limited expertise in Scripture and some pastoral work. I had to study my way back into the Church on my own, because many Catholics, including clergy members couldn't answer my biblical questions and help reconcile certain Catholic doctrines with the Scriptures.

Since coming home, I've tried my best to help:

  • Protestants understand Catholicism and
  • Catholics to understand the Protestant mind set

so we build bridges but I will be the first to tell you, that I've made mistakes because I got started in the field of Catholic Apologetics too early in my journey. Sure, I understood in my head what it meant to be Catholic but not fully in my heart. As result my early answers, while probably doctrinally accurate, lacked the pastoral sensitivity they needed. That's because I was trying to prove something to person asking the question and that's not authentic faith sharing.

My spiritual growth was somewhat stifled because I got caught up in the letter of the law, rather than the spirit. I am more than willing to continue this dialogue but I would ask you tell us where you're coming from.

  • Why all these questions related to anti-Catholic distortions, lies, and propaganda?

Under His Mercy,


Douglas replied:

Bro. Mike and John,

In the name of Jesus Christ, I am one hundred percent Catholic. I studied the Bible for twelve years now and admit I have so many things that I still need to study. I asked these questions because I want to increase my knowledge. Thanks for many things that I've learned from you.

I just want to ask brother John one last question. You gave me explanation from another question I asked you about the December 25th birth date of Jesus and that we always used Zachariah.

  • What can you say about this statement of our fellow Catholics from New Advent?

Zachary's temple service

Arguments based on Zachary's temple ministry are unreliable, though the calculations of antiquity (see above) have been revived in yet more complicated form, e.g. by Friedlieb (Leben J. Christi des Erlösers, Münster, 1887, p. 312). The twenty-four classes of Jewish priests, it is urged, served each a week in the Temple; Zachary was in the eighth class, Abia. The Temple was destroyed 9 Ab, A.D. 70; late rabbinical tradition says that class 1, Jojarib, was then serving. From these untrustworthy data, assuming that Christ was born A.U.C. 749, and that never in seventy turbulent years the weekly succession failed, it is calculated that the eighth class was serving 2-9 October, A.U.C. 748, whence Christ's conception falls in March, and birth presumably in December. Kellner (op. cit., pp. 106, 107) shows how hopeless is the calculation of Zachary's week from any point before or after it.

I know you need to serve our other brothers in faith. I apologize if I have asked to many questions.

I am a Catholic in heart trying hard to defend our faith.


John replied:


That calculation is based on biblical data. It's in the Bible in black and white.

The argument being made here by New Advent is that there are miscalculations in dating and calendars but that doesn't change a thing.

The High Priest entered the Holy of Holies one day a year. That was on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur falls with a few days, one way or another, on September 25th or the Fall Equinox.

The Fall Equinox, whether you use a lunar or solar calendar, always occurs on September 21st using the solar calendar and it can vary a few days, or even maybe a week, using the less accurate lunar calendar. Period end of story. The Church never dogmatically said Christ was born on December 25th. It is an approximate date and it has always been based on this biblical argument.

This propaganda is meant to perpetuate the myth that the Catholic Church invented the holiday in order replace a pagan holiday. Sorry, that's nonsense. It's nonsense propagated by groups like the Jehovah Witnesses, a cult!!

As for your desire to defend Church teaching, that is admirable but you are not nearly equipped to be doing it. Study the faith. You may have studied the Bible as you say but clearly you did so in a vacuum without proper instruction and without the benefit of:

  • Church History
  • Church Councils, or
  • Sacred Tradition.

Every single question you've asked us are the exact same accusations that come from the Jehovah Witnesses cult so you're either:

  • flirting with this heresy
  • trying to engage these people, or
  • I don't know what.

You are clearly not prepared in your faith formation to be doing this. I don't want to discourage you. You may, at some point, be equipped but you're not going to do it correctly, the way you're doing it now.

Start by studying the Catechism then start reading the Early Church Fathers.

Right now your showing up at a gun fight with a plastic knife.


Douglas replied:

Dear Mike,

I really appreciate your help. I think its time for me to say good-bye. Don't worry. I will not ask anymore questions. I know I can't pay you for the time you have spent answering my questions.

Thanks go out to you too John . . . for helping me. God will pay you for your kindness.

Thanks Mike for immeasurable patience, love, and kindness to me.

God Bless you.


Mike replied:

No problem Douglas,

I can't speak for John but I just sense there is a lot you can do on your own. If you put the foundation of your spiritual life into living a sacramental life:

  • renewing your Sunday covenant weekly, if not daily, at Mass.
  • Praying the Rosary or reading the Scriptures on a daily basis . . .
  • going to Confession on a regular basis, and
  • not doing dumb things like receiving Communion, when you are aware of unconfessed mortal sins, like those of the flesh.

this will help.

Speaking for myself, we have a lot of jerks in our Church, but despite their bad behavior, we are still the one Church Jesus established on St. Peter and his successors. It is the pillar and foundation of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15)

  1. There are some outside the Church that try to use the bad behavior of some of our members to say the Church is a false Church.
  2. There are others inside the Church that have their version of what it means to be Catholic while denying the validity of:
    • Vatican II
    • the Catechism, and
    • the Novus Ordo Mass.

Ignore them. They are not interested in honest dialogue. Those in the second category are always in debate mode is because they, themselves, are not convinced of their personal version of what being Catholic means.

Again, stay away from both of them.


  • Self-study (e.g. the Catechism)
  • searching our knowledge base, and
  • checking in with our West Coast colleagues at Catholic Answers (

if you have a question just use the formal communication means at:

I think you will also find the new Clayton Bower Jr. Memorial page interesting. It has five audio shows he did with St. Joseph Communications. I think you will find the one on Where we got the Bible very interesting.

Take care,


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