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Danehy on Penance

Remember the seven sacraments? When man invents a new sacrament, such as Reconciliation, we look up an old one of divine institution, in this case Penance. Strangely, this most salutary and conscience-unburdening practice has become a major bar to conversion to this most reasonable, most compassionate, most practical religion. To place it in focus, to demonstrate its essentiality, to generate its proper appreciation, we reproduce a sermon preached circa 1890 by Father Patrick Danehy, included in Treasury of Catholic Doctrine (1912):

Wide as the earth is the domain of sin. To the thoughtless this may appear nothing startling. But to the Christian soul, ever so little given to reflection, it means that evil—mighty, attractive, widespread, and far reaching evil—holds sway over God’s creatures. Wealth is no safe-guard, and poverty is powerless against it. It counts among its victims the mighty and the renowned, as well as the weak and obscure. It even seems to prefer the great, the beautiful, the wealthy, and the strong, the better to display its prowess by laying low what is considered resistless. With a thousand wiles it lures man to its snare. It suits its inducements with unerring precision to the weakness of each individual. It gratifies the sensual man in one way, the ambitious in another, the revengeful in a third, the proud in still another; to each assuming the most winsome guise in order to undo him. The young alike and the aged of every rank and whatever clime succumb to its attack. If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (I John i, 8) “For the imagination and thought of man’s heart are prone to evil from his youth.” (Gen. viii, 21) Nor do its consequences end with life. Death has no terrors for it. It is the one power not divine that reaches beyond the grave. It goes with man to the very judgment seat. Boldly seating itself in the innermost chambers of the human soul, it refuses to be cast out save by the hand of God alone. Manifold, mighty, and mysterious power, it lords it over mortal man with the unerring certainty of fate; and unless man calls upon God’s aid in time, it will deliver him up to the Judge Who will thrust him into the prison whence he shall not go out forever. The consequences of grave sin are eternal.

The great question, then, for sinful man is: how can I be freed from sin? All other questions are trivial in comparison. How long shall I live? Will my life be of affluence or misery? Shall I be honored or obscure? Where or how shall I die? These questions and their like are the veriest bagatelles when set beside this other: Who can forgive me my sin? Now we want the voice of God to answer. For we want no uncertainty on this point. And God answers. He has made His answer to ring throughout the world in every age in the ear of sinful humanity. In this age and this city, as in the first age at Rome, or Corinth, or Jerusalem, He speaks by the voice of His Church. Whoever hears the teaching of the Catholic Church hears the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself. “He that heareth you heareth Me.” For “as the Father hath sent Me, so I also send you.” And “I will send you the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, who will teach you all truth.” And if a man will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. Here, then, is God’s promise, this His answer. And all they who will not accept her authority to speak for God have made shipwreck of the faith, and are cut off from the household of Christ. They stop their ears to the men whom Christ sent to teach and convert the world. And as faith cometh by hearing and they refuse to lend ear to the teaching of God’s representatives, they simply refuse to believe the teaching of God Himself. The teaching of these representatives of God is that they, the bishops and priests of the Catholic Church have power to forgive sins. To these Jesus Christ said plainly: “whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” (John xx, 21) The bishops and priests of the Catholic Church can and do forgive sins, because Christ empowered them so to do. The claim to this power can be traced to no other source than Christ, and men could not put forth such a claim unless they had God’s warranty for it. The Catholic Church has taught this doctrine from the beginning. The plain words of Holy Scripture prove it true. .............

I suppose that if any man could be thought of as the author of confession that man would be a Catholic priest or bishop. They alone are supposed to profit by it. Such is the charge. I must call attention to a fact well known to the historian: No such innovation was ever attempted without leaving its mark on the annals of the time. When a new doctrine was broached, a commotion arose in the Church. The rumor spread abroad as on the wings of thought. Its author was known. He was at once denounced before the competent authorities. If a cleric, the father of the new doctrine was deposed from his sacred office. If he still continued to disseminate his false teachings, and drew after him a large number of followers, the bishops of the country assembled and in order the more effectually to ward off the evil from their respective flocks, issued a solemn warning to them not to admit it into their minds, and with the weight of their authority again condemned it. Or if the gravity of the case seemed to call for so unusual a measure a general council of all the bishops of the Church was assembled, and all minds not fossilized in error set at rest forever as to what was the Church’s real teaching, and what the false doctrine that was condemned. Now if confession were invented by man and not taught by God, all this would certainly have taken place at the time of its introduction. For it is not such a doctrine as could by any possible means be introduced unawares. Confession is a stern reality. There is no such thing as making it by halves. It is confession whole and entire or it is nothing. Now what assembly of bishops condemned confession on its first appearance? Nobody knows. What council declared it a novelty in doctrine, and therefore a thing coming from man and not from God? Nobody knows. What council warned the Christian world against it? Nobody knows. In what country and what year was the council held? No one knows. Above all, what was the name of the man who first broached it? This surely must be known. For the Church has never neglected the command of St. Paul (II Thess. iii, 14), “If any man obey not our word ..... note that man and do not keep company with him.” Hence we know the names of false teachers in every age from the first till now. We know every error in doctrine taught from the first age till now. No hard fought battle leaves more unmistakable traces of its occurrence in the scarred and furrowed landscape than is left upon the face of history by a new heresy. Nor need its author fear that his name will be forgotten. No man writes his name with more lasting ink on the scroll of history than the heresiarch. It is as sure of immortality as that of Judas Iscariot. Who, then, was the daring man, and not that only, but the successful man who got his new doctrine of confession and the power to absolve from sin believed; and not alone believed, but practiced? His name must be upon every lip. It must be known to the very school-children. They know the name of Mahomet. Yet Mahomet never induced men to adopt a practice half so humiliating to proud man as confession. You may interrogate every century from our own up to the days of Christ our Lord, and each will answer: I do not know the man who introduced the doctrine of confession. Ask every country upon earth. It will reply: He did not live within my borders, he was no citizen of mine. We are forced to the conclusion, then, that confession and therefore the absolving power as well traces its origin to no man, but to Jesus Christ. .......

Our foes insist that Catholic priests and bishops are sharp, shrewd men, capable of and bent on deceiving Catholics for their own gain. As an instance of this they tell us that pope, bishops, and priests conspired to make the people believe that they were bound to come to the priests and confess to them their sins. It is thereby admitted that the Catholic clergy are not a body of benighted illiterate men. But let it once be shown that they invented confession, and they will stand before the world branded as the most foolish body of men that ever lived. For, look you! Men have enslaved their fellow men, and put them to torture. But before making slaves of others they did not first sell themselves into slavery. Before flogging their slave they did not first flog themselves. If confession, then, be a torture, will priests themselves submit to it? If it be the enslaving of the soul, will they bow their neck to the yoke? If they do, then they are the veriest zanies, or else they did not invent confession. But we began with the admission that they are endowed with mental acumen rather above than below the average. Therefore if they go to confession themselves, we may be sure that confession was not introduced by them. Now beginning with the pope and coming down through the ranks of the clergy to the most obscure priest in the world every one of them confesses his sins to a priest as well as the laity do. And not only once a year, or once a half year, or once a month, or once a week, but many confess daily.

If there is any hardship, any slavery in confession, it bears doubly upon the priest. For he must himself confess and listen to the confessions of others. If it were possible to do away with confession from the earth, the priests of the Church are the very ones who would most actively urge it. For of all the irksome carking duties they must perform the most unsavory is that of hearing confessions. If any priest in the whole Catholic Church were asked which of his many duties is most distasteful to his natural liking, he would not hesitate to answer: Hearing confessions. Why, then, do they continue to hear confessions? Because the duty of confessing was imposed not by them but by God. Nothing short of the overwhelming conscientious conviction that God has made it his duty to hear confessions could ever induce a priest to do it. The charge, then, falls to the ground. It is refuted at every point. The teaching of the Catholic Church remains in possession as it was before the heresies of the sixteenth century were heard of. ........

The doctrine of confession, then, is no novelty. It traces its origin to Jesus Christ. For His Church so believed and taught and practiced from the beginning.

Many of them that believe came confessing and declaring their deeds. (Acts xix, 18) Observe that they who believed confessed and declared their deeds. And the fruit of their confession was seen by all when “they that followed curious arts brought together their books and burned them before all.” (ibid. 19)

This practice we observe throughout the ages. St. Irenaeus, speaking of a number of Christians who had been drawn into a false belief by a certain false teacher, relates the outcome: “Some, touched in conscience, publicly confessed their sins” and their sins were many and heinous, as he explains, “while others, in despair, renounced the faith.” (Adv. Her. xiii) Now if they believed at that day there was any other way of obtaining pardon for their sins than by confessing them, as did those who returned to the bosom of the Church, and receiving absolution from the priests of the Church, they need not have abandoned their faith.

Tertullian teaches the same doctrine, and adds the same alternative. “If you still draw back (from confession) let your mind turn to that eternal fire which confession will extinguish ..... And as you are not ignorant, that, against that fire, after the institution of baptism, the aid of confession has been appointed, why are you an enemy of your own salvation?” (De Poinit, c xii) Here again we have a witness to the belief of the Church—that the sinner must confess his sins, or be forever lost in them.

St. Cyprian, speaking of Christians hesitant whether to renounce the faith and sacrifice to idols rather than be put to death: “they confessed their sin, with grief, and without disguise, before the priests of God, unburdening their consciences and seeking a salutary remedy, however small and pardonable their failing may have been.” (De lapsis, p.190)

And in the same passage he writes: “I entreat you, my brethren, let all confess their faults, while he that has offended enjoys life; while his confession can be received; and while the satisfaction and pardon imparted by the priests are acceptable before God.”

Origen, the great light of the schools of Alexandria, writes: “They who are not holy die in their sins; the holy do penance; they feel their wounds; are sensible of their failings, look for the Priest, implore help, and through him seek to be purified.” (Hom. x on Numbers) Again: “If we discover our sins not to God alone, but to those who may apply a remedy to our wounds and iniquities, our sins will be effaced by Him Who said: ‘I have blotted out thy iniquities as a cloud and thy sins as a mist.’” (Isaias xliv 22: Homily xvii on Luke) Confession to God alone then is not sufficient. We are required by God to confess to His priests.

St. Basil the Great says (regul. brev. quest. 229 tom. II) very plainly that we must not rashly tell our sins to everybody but that “confession of sins must be made to such persons as have power to apply a remedy.”

The Novatian heresy consisted chiefly in denying to priests the power to forgive certain sins. St. Pacian says: “But God alone, you Novatians will say, can grant the pardon of sins. That is true; but what is done by His ministers is done by His own power. What did He say to His Apostles? ‘What you shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; what you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ And why this, if sinners might be bound only and not loosed.” Here he brings out clearly the teaching of the Church of that day that the priests and bishops of the Church had from Christ the power of loosing as well as of binding, and that no sin was outside their power to pardon. He continues:

“But you say ‘The Apostles alone had this power?’ Then they alone had power to baptize, to confer the Holy Spirit, and to purify the gentiles from their sins. For in the same place where He gives them power to administer the sacrament of baptism, He also gives them the power to loose sinners. Either, then, both these powers belonged peculiarly to the Apostles (and then we could not even baptize) or both together continued to their successors. And therefore, since it is certain that the power of baptism and unction is descended to the bishops, to them has likewise come the power of binding and loosing.” (Ep. I ad Symp.)

With many a man, when he hears the word confession, a thrill shoots through his nerves, his soul is panic-stricken. “What! Go to confession? Never! I will never tell my sins, my thoughts and hidden desires, to a man like myself.” Now listen to St. Augustine’s reply, in his commentary on the psalms. “O man, why are you afraid to confess your sins? What you make known to me in confession, I know less than what I do not know at all. Why should you blush to confess your sins? I am a sinner, as you are; I am a man, and account nothing human foreign to me. As you are a man, confess to man; sinful man confess to sinful man. You are free indeed to choose which you prefer; do not confess your sins and they will not be known, it is true; but know at the same time that unless you confess you will be damned. For this reason God requires us to confess, that He may free from his sins that man who humbles himself. He damns the man who does not confess, to punish his pride.” .....

Profane history is not less interesting nor conclusive than the foregoing. If any class of Christian men could escape the duty of confessing, it would be kings and emperors. Proverbially loth to submit to restraints upon their inclinations, they did not fail to employ all their mighty authority to rid themselves of such restrictions and give loose rein to their appetites. Hence if we find them confessing their sins, we may unhesitatingly conclude that they acknowledged that the duty was imposed upon them by a higher than human authority. Now from the day when the spirit of the Catholic Church had overcome paganism and begun to leaven the public life of the nations of Europe, we find these potentates not merely going to confession like the least of their subjects, but keeping constantly attached to their person for this purpose a bishop or priest, called the royal confessor. St. Ausberg, archbishop of Rouen, in the seventh century, was confessor to King Thierry I. In the same century, St. Viron, bishop of Ruremonde, was confessor to Pepin, the father of Charles Martel. St. Martin, a monk of Carbie, was confessor to Charles Martel himself in the eighth century; in the ninth St. Aldric, bishop of Mans, was confessor to Louis the Debonnair. His son and successor, Lothair, had for confessor Donatus Scotus, bishop of Feluze. St. Udalric, bishop of Augsburg, tenth century, was confessor to Emperor Otho; and Didacus Fernandus was confessor to Ordonnic II, king of Spain. In the eleventh century, Stephen, a priest of the diocese of Orleans, was confessor to Queen Blanche. And in the twelfth century, Henry I of England had for his confessor Atheldulf, prior of the monastery of St. Oswald, afterwards first bishop of Carlisle.

We know also that from the eighth century there were confessors in the Christian armies, as well as in the courts of princes. This is clear from the Council of Germany held in 742, which forbids priests to go to war unless their presence is absolutely necessary. Among the cases it recognizes necessary is that of hearing confessions of the soldiers. The council also exhorts each commander to see to it that the soldiers under him be accompanied by a confessor. The same provision is made in the capitularies of Charlemagne, beginning of the ninth century.

Here, then, we have an array of witnesses from both sacred and profane history, which show as clearly as any fact of history can be shown that the Church from the beginning taught and practiced confession. When, therefore, the divine institution of confession, its necessity, and its usefulness were wholly denied for the first time in the sixteenth century, we find the bishops of the Church assembled in the Council of Trent setting forth in most solemn manner the Church’s teaching on this point as on others that were gainsaid (Sess xiv, ch. 2, canon 6): “If anyone deny either that sacramental confession is instituted by God, or is by God’s appointment necessary to salvation, let him be anathema.”

This is nothing less than an authoritative definition of what we have seen the Church teaching and practicing from the first. What may we conclude? Either the Church was right when she taught this, or she was wrong. If wrong, then for fifteen centuries the Church of Christ did not know what the teaching of her Divine Founder was, on this vital matter, and the millions and millions of Christians who had lived and died during these ages had followed her guidance only to fall with her into the pit. And as she and every church laying claim to the name of Christian during all those centuries taught and practiced this doctrine, our Divine Lord was Himself responsible for their ruin. They did but obey the Church as He commanded. ..... But, if the Church was right, then Christ is the author of confession, and the absolving power of his priests which postulates it. Confession is, therefore, a Christian duty laid by Christ upon every sinner born into the world, and they who deny it deny that which Christ taught and His Apostles promulgated. They are knowingly and willingly outside the pale of salvation. For “he that believeth not” the doctrines taught by Christ’s representatives “shall be condemned.” But where does He teach it? Have we any confirmation in Scripture?

The words of our Divine Lord, both clear and conclusive, are recorded in the Gospels of Sts. Matthew, Mark, and Luke. “And it came to pass” (Luke v, 17) “on a certain day, as He sat teaching, that there were also Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, that were come out of every town of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was to heal them.” “And it was heard that He was in the house, and many came together, so that there was no room, no, not even at the door. And He spoke to them the word. And they came to Him bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four. And when they could not offer him to Him by reason of the multitude, they uncovered the roof where He was: and opening it they let down the bed wherein the man sick of the palsy lay. And when Jesus had seen their faith He saith to the man sick of the palsy: ‘Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.’ And there were some of the scribes sitting there, and thinking in their hearts: ‘Why doth this man speak thus? He blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins but God only?’ Which Jesus, presently knowing in His spirit that they so thought within themselves, saith to them: ‘Why think you these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say, Arise, take up thy bed and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins (He saith to the man sick of the palsy) I say to thee, Arise, take up thy bed and go into thy house.’ And immediately he arose; and taking up his bed went his way in the sight of all.” (Mark ii, 2-12) “And the multitudes seeing it,” adds St. Matthew (ix, 8) “feared and glorified God that gave such power to men.” Few events in the life of our Blessed Lord have been so minutely recorded. Note the occasion. The fame of our Lord’s wonderful works had drawn about Him the social and religious leaders of Israel. They had come from afar, and out of all the chief cities of the land, and in a spirit by no means friendly. Wrapped in all their frigid dignity, those subtle scribes and haughty doctors and saintly-seeming Pharisees sat about Him awaiting, as was their wont, the word or act which might serve them for an occasion of declaring Him a false teacher—to be avoided, not obeyed. Our Divine Lord knew their state of mind and was prepared to remedy it. “The power of the Lord was to heal them.” Nor was the opportunity long delayed. As He was yet speaking to them, four men approached the house bearing a litter upon which lay a wretched man stricken with paralysis in every limb. But the people, massed closely together, filled every foot of room within the house, save only a little space immediately in front of Jesus, while outside a dense throng pressed round the door that they might hear, if possible, every precious word. Nothing daunted, however, the newcomers mount the roof, and, removing the tiles, let down man and bed into the midst before Jesus. ..... I doubt not the most callous heart melted at the sight of this living death. Those who had come out of curiosity felt that the looked—for moment had arrived. They would now see a miracle. For surely Jesus would heal the palsied limbs. Jesus saw indeed the limp and lifeless limbs, but He looked also upon the soul. The misshapen body was a thing of beauty in comparison with the hideous deformity of that sinful soul. Which, then, will Jesus heal first, Who with equal ease can heal both? “Be of good heart, son,” His compassion pouring forth in consolation. All felt that now their anticipations were to be realized to the letter. But while they thought full surely His next word would be a command to stand, or to stand forth in the sight of all, Jesus added these most wonderful words: “Thy sins are forgiven thee.”

What sudden change is this that falls upon His hearers? A look of blank amazement comes into every face. They who were before full of confidence in His power were now filled with misgivings. They who had wavered twixt doubt and entire unbelief hesitate now no more. The conviction could not be resisted. He was plainly a deceiver; but a blasphemer as well. And the learned men thought within themselves: “Why doth this man speak thus? He blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins but God only?" Here, they judged, was a seducer of the people. They were awaiting a sign that He was God’s chosen one. He actually lays claim to a higher power than that of Moses and the prophets, yet gives no sign of His title to it. For who could know whether His word—“thy sins are forgiven thee”—was verified? Probability was quite against it. Even a false prophet might say the same thing. But who could prove that His words did what they said? “Who,” in short, “can forgive sins but God only?”

This was precisely the frame of mind our Lord desired. Knowing their questions and doubts He fixed his gaze upon the wise men who encircled Him, and answered their inquiry with another. He knew they thought it easier to say, thy sins are forgiven thee, since no human eye could look into the soul and determine whether the sins were actually forgiven. Therefore Jesus added straightway: “But that you may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins (He saith to the sick of the palsy) I say to thee, arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house.” And the man arose in the sight of all, took up the bed on which he had lain for many a day, and went to his home rejoicing.

Note well what Jesus did. He performed a wonderful miracle—which no man can do unless God be with him—for the purpose of convincing all of a certain definite truth, which He states in advance: “that you may know the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” They needed no proof that God had such power. That they readily acknowledged. So our Divine Lord performed this miracle to convince them that God had communicated this power to man. For He Himself was a perfect man, like unto us in all save sin. And He exercised this power, not as God, but as man, not in heaven, but here on earth. Nor did His hearers fail to grasp His meaning and intention. They were wholly seized with astonishment, and as they returned homeward from that wonderful presence, “They praised and glorified God Who had given such power to men.” Jesus had laid claim to this God-like power. His enemies had denied His claim and pronounced it blasphemy unless supported by a sign from heaven. Jesus met their challenge even before they had time to utter it. The sign from heaven was given. The palsied man arose, and carried a burden. In every movement of that restored body men saw the power of God. The proof was complete, overwhelming. They who had asked “who can forgive sins, but God only” had now their answer plain. God can forgive sins. But so can he to whom God gives that power. God gives that power to men. For a man, “the man Christ Jesus,” exercised it, and His miracle proves the exercise legitimate. .....

Christ gave this power in the person of His Apostles to the bishops and priests of His Church. “Amen, I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven.” (Matt. xviii, 18) To bind or loose supposes bonds, and in the case of the Apostles these are spiritual bonds. Now spiritual bonds are none other than sin and its effects. Christ, then, gave His Apostles the power of binding or loosing, as they should deem proper, what sins soever should be brought under their judicial action, and with the solemn promise added that their sentence on earth should be ratified in heaven. St. Paul says (II Cor. v, 8): “He hath placed in us the ministry of reconciliation.” Now sinful man needs reconciliation for sins committed after baptism as well as before. And we know that as the Church, including the Apostles, reconciled man to God through baptism in the latter case, so in the former she secured his forgiveness through confession and absolution in the sacrament of penance. Hence St. Paul, exercising this office in the case of the incestuous Corinthian, declares explicitly: “If I have forgiven anything, for your sakes I have done it in the person of Christ.”

St. James enjoins upon all Christians when sick and unable to go to the priests (v, 14-16) to “call in the priests of the Church,” and adds: “the prayer of faith” (of the priests) “shall save the sick man, and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him.” But this is promised only upon condition that he confess them. For the Apostle adds: “Confess therefore your sins one to another”; that is, to the priests, for though they be men like yourselves, yet they have the power to forgive you your sins. “If we confess our sins,” says St. John (I John i, 9), “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity.”...

Our Blessed Lord has left us his very words by which He imparts this power— and in such wise as to require that the sins which they are to forgive shall clearly be made known to them. On the evening of the first Easter, when He had risen from the dead, the ten Apostles were assembled in an upper room for fear of the Jews. Jesus appeared in their midst, the doors being shut, and said to them (John xx, 22): “Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent Me, so I also send you.” When He had said this He breathed on them; and He said to them: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” Plainer words our Lord could not have chosen. They confer upon the Apostles the power of forgiving and retaining all sins of all mankind. The power is twofold, and they are to forgive or retain according to the merits of the case. ..... The sinner himself is, from the very nature of the case, the only one who can make known to the Apostle the merits of the case; the sinner must make confession of his sins before the minister of God can know whether he is to forgive his sins or to retain them. ..... The judge, then, in the sacrament of penance must know the law of Christ and the guilt as well and dispositions of the sinner. Then only is he competent to forgive or retain “In the person of Christ.”

That this divine power is handed on by ordination throughout the ages to the Apostles’ successors is self-evident. Our Lord Jesus Christ certainly willed just as ample means for the sinner's return to God today ..... as was afforded to the first Christian. Therefore the power of forgiving sins must reside in the bishops and priests today as fully as in the bishops and priests of the first day—the Apostles. They of today have the same ministry of reconciliation, the same twofold power. Hence the sinner’s duty is likewise the same today as it was then. He must confess his sins to them honestly and fully with deepest sorrow of heart and earnest determination to sin no more.

Here, then, is God’s answer to “Who can forgive sins but God only?” The priests of the Catholic Church have this power vested in them by Jesus Christ. Our reasons for this belief are clear and cogent. The very nature of this power and its accompanying obligations is such that without God’s authority plainly evident no man could induce his fellow men to believe him possessed of it. The priests of the Christian Church practiced it from the very beginning. Christ’s words and those of His Apostles in many places of Scripture show that He gave them this God-like power. And unless a man admits this teaching of the Catholic Church those passages of the New Testament must be ignored as wholly devoid of sense or meaning. This alone ought to suffice to bring every consistent professing Christian to embrace this doctrine. For it will be found true in this as in every case where the sects have rejected the teaching of the Church; the Church’s doctrine alone sheds light on Holy Scripture and makes it intelligible. .....

Why are you not Catholic?   •   Catholic Controversy   •   Danehy on Penance   •   The Papacy   •   
The Council   •   The New Order   •   The New Mass   •   The New Law   •   Cum Ex

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