During the latter half of the 1980s, Holy Mother Church welcomed into her fond embrace several wandering sons who, hitherto, had been her self-styled enemies, determined to destroy her. News of these conversions brought great joy and encouragement to faithful Catholics throughout America, especially to Traditional Catholics laboring in the stultifying atmosphere of false ecumenism which permeates the Modernist establishment in the Church of today.
The striking thing about these conversions is that they were not prompted by aggressive evangelizing on the part of any Catholic. Such missionary zeal, it seems, is actually frowned upon by the “Rahnerites” who now control the Church.
The converts of whom we speak were Protestant Evangelical ministers who set out to prove, once and for all, the “falsity” of the Catholic Faith. On their own, they learned the truth of the Church and her doctrines, and then were courageous enough “to tear themselves out of that state in which they could not be without fear regarding their eternal salvation” (Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis).
The most promising of these young men is Gerry Matatics. We say “most promising” because he alone, as of this time, seems to have an accurate understanding of the problems confronting the Church, inside and out. Early last year (1994), he consented to a telephone interview with our Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M.
Brother: To acquaint our readers with your background, Gerry, would you tell us what you were before becoming a Catholic? What was your religious affiliation?
Gerry: Before becoming a Catholic, I was very definitely an anti-Catholic Protestant, but had not always been one. For the first 14 years of my life, I professed no religious affiliation whatsoever. I was raised in a completely irreligious home. We never went to church. We never read the Bible. We never prayed before meals. There was never any mention of Jesus, even at Christmas or Easter.
It wasn’t until I was a freshman in high school that I accidentally encountered a Billy Graham telecast one night and heard, for the first time, a presentation of the Christian message. From my present Catholic perspective, I would now find his presentation very deficient, but at that time, it was the first I had heard of the good news of Jesus Christ. That embarked me on a career in fundamentalism which lasted for the next 14 years.
So, for 14 years I was no sort of Christian at all. Then, from the age of 14 to the age of 28, when I came into the Church, I was a Protestant of various persuasions; Episcopalian, Assembly of God, fundamentalist Baptist, and finally, conservative Presbyterian. I went to Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire for my junior and senior years of high school. From 1975 to 1977, I went to the University of New Hampshire and majored in classical, New Testament, and patristic Greek. In January of 1978, I entered Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts, and was there from 1978 to 1981 getting a Master of Divinity degree, with a concentration in systematic theology. At that time, then, began the process which led to my ordination as a minister in the Presbyterian Church of America, the largest of the evangelical, or more conservative, Presbyterian denominations in the country – not the mainline United Presbyterian Church, which is quite liberal, but the largest of the conservative ones.
Brother: So, you were then a Calvinist?
Gerry: Oh, yes, very much so! I had become a Calvinist through reading the writings of John Calvin. I was a Calvinist even before I went to the seminary, while I was still a Baptist; I was what is called a “Reformed Baptist,” or Calvinistic Baptist, because I accepted John Calvin’s theology. But most Calvinists are Presbyterian in that they believe in infant baptism, and, while I was working on those issues at the seminary, I came to see the importance of infant baptism, so I switched from being a Calvinistic Baptist to being a Presbyterian. But I took Calvin’s theology pure and undiluted. I wasn’t interested in watering it down or being more easy on dissenters than he was.
It was really by reading the writings of John Calvin and Martin Luther, and other Protestant “reformers”, that I developed a real hostility to Catholicism – not to Catholics per se. I wasn’t hateful of Catholics, but I hated Catholicism because I was convinced it was a clever counterfeit for the genuine article; that it was this demonic delusion that was intended to fool people into thinking they were Christians, when they really weren’t.
And so I was out to fight it tooth and claw, and I said – along with a friend of mine at the seminary, Scott Hahn – that we needed to make preaching against Catholic doctrines a hallmark of our Protestant ministries. I couldn’t get much support from any other Protestant ministers because they had become too ecumenical, but I was convinced that Catholicism was this insidious evil that had to be eradicated from the world once and for all, and I was quite happy to have Scott helping do that in my lifetime.
Brother: Now, how long were you a Presbyterian minister?
Gerry: Well, I was licensed in January of 1982, and was ordained as pastor of a church in January, 1983, and then came into the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil service in 1986. So I would have been an ordained minister from 1983 to 1986. Obviously, as careers in Protestant ministries go, this wasn’t a long time. I’m still a young man. I’m only 36.
The Conversion Begins
Brother: Let’s look at the actual conversion process: When would you date the original impulse that maybe Catholicism is the True Faith, compared to the time when you actually were received into the Church, which was Easter of 1986?
Gerry: Well, I probably need to break that into two stages, the first divided from the second by a fateful phone call, which I will discuss in a minute. But it is important for your readers to understand that, prior to that call, although I knew of Roman Catholicism, I only knew it in caricature. As I say, I had read the writings of the reformers, and it is obvious to me now, as a Catholic reading their writings, that they had lost the grace of faith and were not able to understand the Biblical nature of the Catholic Faith. And so they condemned it as this horrible paganism masquerading as Christianity.
So I only knew of Catholicism from the writings of anti-Catholics. I had read those Jack Chick comics, those anti-Catholic pamphlets. I had heard anti-Catholic sermons. I had preached anti-Catholic sermons. As far as I know, I had never known any real orthodox Catholics. Or at least, if I ever did meet any, they never did indicate that they were such. The only Catholics I knew were cultural Catholics who were sort of drunk all the time, and swore, and never talked about Jesus Christ, or acted like they were His followers.
So, the thing that started me on the road to studying Catholicism from the lips of its own proponents, was a phone call I got late one night, shortly after I had started pastoring this church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The caller was my seminary classmate, Scott Hahn. He started to read to me from a book that he was finding quite persuasive. It presented a very different perspective on some doctrinal problems that Protestants wrestle with, a point of view I had never encountered before. I found this perspective intriguing, but it sounded very different. So I said: “Well, Scott, who wrote this book?”
At that point, Scott became very hesitant. He hemmed and hawed, but wouldn’t give me the name of the author. Finally, I dragged it out of him. I didn’t recognize the name. I said: “Is this fellow a Presbyterian?” (It was Louis Bouyer, by the way) “No, he’s not a Presbyterian,” was the reply. “Well, then, is he a Lutheran?” “No, he’s not that either.” Well, then I told him I didn’t want to play the game of 20 Questions, or 20,000 questions through all Protestant denominations. Scott said, “Well, that wouldn’t get us anywhere.” And I thought that that was a peculiar statement for him to make.
He finally brought out that this guy was a Catholic, so I said: “A Catholic! You’re saying that you’re reading a book by a Catholic – and this is worth our time? This is a lot of nonsense!” And he said: “No, I’ve been reading Catholic books for the last year, and I’m finding them very compelling, Gerry, and I’m really scared because, if the current trend continues, I might just become a Catholic.”
I couldn’t believe it. I was in a state of shock. I was horrified at the prospect of this brilliant guy, whom I expected to be the great reformed theologian of the 20th century, the great Calvinist of the 20th century, all of a sudden going off and defecting to the enemy.
So I said, “Scott, this is ridiculous. Everyone knows that Catholicism is just for idiots, and for old people who never read the Bible and don’t even know what real Christianity is.” He said, “Gerry, you have got to read these books.” So, he sent me a list of the books to read, and all the while I was waiting for the list to come, I was still convinced that Catholicism was wrong.
But to answer your question, the first inkling I got – and I didn’t get it talking to Scott on the phone – the first inkling I got that Catholicism just might be a long shot, just might possibly be right, was when I got the list of books, acquired them, and read the first one. Actually, I don’t remember which of the books was the first one I read, but one of them was a defense of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist – that it is the actual Body and Blood of Christ. I was startled to discover that they were making a biblical case for this. And as I picked up book after book – on the Papacy, on Purgatory, on the various Marian dogmas, Apostolic succession – I discovered, to my horror, that there were scriptural arguments being mounted for each of these teachings that I had never thought existed. I had always been committed to the authority of the Bible, and if you could show me that the Bible taught a particular thing, then I was willing to accept it.
When I was a Baptist, I didn’t think the Bible supported infant baptism. When I read Protestant arguments for infant baptism quoting the Bible, which is the only authority Protestants would quote, I converted to a belief in infant baptism. Here, I was encountering the same thing. I was thinking, golly, if I really believe the Bible is true, and I’ve got to believe whatever it says, then I’ve got to believe that the Catholics are right on this point, or on that point. I still didn’t think that Catholicism, as a whole, was correct, but I thought that maybe they had preserved the Biblical position just on particular items. But the more I found that Catholics were right on individual doctrines, the more the scales tipped in favor of Catholicism. And all the more did I come to realize that the Protestant positions on these things were wrong; therefore, the Protestant churches had no guarantee that they were right on anything.
Brother: So, your conversion process took about 3 years?
Gerry: It took about 3 years of reading these books. And it was an emotional seesaw for me. I read the first book and thought, boy, that really makes sense! But there was an emotional backlash – a kneejerk reaction. I thought, wait a minute! This can’t be right! And it drove me to go back and reread my anti-Catholic books, like Lorraine Bettner’s Roman Catholicism, and things like that.
So I read these anti-Catholic books again and thought, yeah, that’s what Catholicism is, all right! It’s this horrible thing. But then I’d pick up another Catholic book, and it would be very cogent and compelling, and very scripturally sound, and that would throw me into doubt again. And so, I’d pick up another Protestant book.
Now, you see, in the course of those years, I read over 500 books of Catholic apologetics, Catholic books demonstrating the case for Catholicism, and an equal number of anti-Catholic books or Protestant critiques of the Catholic position. And I called up Catholic and Protestant theologians all around the country, spending hundreds of dollars in telephone bills, trying to get to the bottom of this issue.
It was a very turbulent time for me, because here I was trying to pastor a church during this same time, and it was becoming increasingly more difficult for me to get up in the pulpit and say this is what we Protestants believe, because I was already becoming riddled with doubt that Protestants were correct at all.
I actually got to the point where, although I could still preach certain doctrines that I thought were true, I no longer believed that the Eucharist – as Protestants celebrated it – was really the Eucharist. It was a charade; it wasn’t the real thing, because I had come to believe in the Real Presence.
At that point, through a variety of circumstances, I found it expedient to leave my pastorate and plunge myself full-time into my Ph.D. program in Biblical studies at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, which is kind of the “Pontifical Biblical Institute” of Calvinism. It’s probably the most authoritative Calvinistic seminary, and I thought that, by doing this full time, perhaps my doubts would be eradicated – but it didn’t work. It was while I was there that I entered the Church.
The Hinge Doctrine
Brother: You have mentioned several doctrines that you read about in the Catholic books you acquired – the Papacy, Marian dogmas, the Eucharist, doctrines like these. We all know that the Catholic Faith is integral, as stated in the Athanasian Creed. So, to be Catholics at all, we must believe everything the Church teaches. Now, in this process of conversion you’ve been talking about, was there any one doctrine that you saw as the obstacle to be overcome? Perhaps the Papacy? or Marian devotion? Was there one big hurdle you had to get over?
Gerry: Well, by the way you phrased your question, I think you’re asking whether or not the authority of the Catholic Church was, for me, the hinge doctrine. Yes, it was, and I will explain the steps by which I gradually came to believe it.
When I was a Protestant, my authority was the Bible, which I accepted as the infallible word of God. Scripture alone was the only rule of faith – sola scriptura, as Luther phrased it.
Luther invented this idea of sola scriptura. Actually, it had been attempted in the 14th century, preceding Luther, by John Wyclif, but it never really took hold. Luther revived it as a way of destroying Tradition, which, of course, many Catholics are involved in doing today as well.
Let me jump ahead of myself for a minute here: Basically, what I see going on in Catholicism today is just the Protestant Reformation being done all over again, but being done from inside the Church rather than from outside, and with far greater success than Luther ever could have had. I mean, Luther would be slobbering with envy at the success that people, masquerading as Catholics, are able to pull off today within the Catholic Church. But that’s another whole can of worms which should be discussed separately.
Anyway, back to sola scriptura: Luther wanted to attack the authority of both the Magisterium and Tradition, and exalt Scripture alone as the only rule of faith. The big problem here is that it is the infallible Bible being interpreted by fallible individuals only – and that just won’t work. That’s why we’ve got thousands of Protestant denominations.
So, the first step in my progress toward the truth was made when I came to see that the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura was, ironically enough, a man-made doctrine, a tradition of men. You see, I had rejected Tradition with a capital “T” – sacred Tradition – because I thought that the Bible rejected it. I had misread what Our Lord says in Matthew 15, verses 1 through 9, and also Saint Paul’s condemnation of human traditions in Colossians 2, 7 through 9. The only things the Bible condemns in these passages are man-made traditions. But the Bible does use the word “Tradition” in a positive sense in II Thessalonians 2:14, where Saint Paul urges them to hold fast to all the Traditions, whether they came by word of mouth or by letter, and when he praises the Corinthians in I Corinthians 11:1, or the Thessalonians in II Thessalonians 3:6, for holding fast to Tradition. Thus I saw that the Bible itself testifies that what Jesus and the Apostles taught was handed down in two ways – in a written way in the Bible, and in an oral way. Both of these ways, in fact, are Tradition.
The second step in my progress was made when I saw that the Bible not only shows that the Word of God is passed on in oral, as well as written fashion, but that the Church is the custodian of the Word of God, oral and written. It’s the Church which is the final arbiter of the meaning of the Word of God. Otherwise we’re interpreting it according to our own fallible likes and dislikes. It became clear to me that the Bible envisions a Church which is authoritative, as in Matthew 18:17, where Our Lord said that a Christian must heed the Church, or be treated as a heathen or publican, which means being excluded from the Church, not being a Christian at all. When I saw this I realized that, if the Church can err, if the Church cannot pronounce a definitive sentence, then Christ would not have commanded Christians to heed it, or be thrown out. It also makes nonsense of Saint Paul’s statement in I Timothy 3:15 that the Church is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” How can a Church formally teach error and yet be the pillar and foundation of the truth? And not to mention that Matthew 16:18 states that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Now, Satan’s prime stratagem is to lead people astray. He’s a liar and the father of lies. So, if the Church could teach falsehood, the gates of hell could prevail against it.
I also saw that the Bible teaches that there is a trinity of rules or authorities for us. There are the two Remote Rules of Faith which we Catholics call Scripture and Tradition, and there is the Proximate Rule of Faith, which is the Church mediating to us Scripture and Tradition. This is the biblical pattern for the Word of God. It’s not just Scripture alone.
The third and final step came when I saw that there must be not only an authoritative Church, but a Church that comes down from Christ, through the ages, lineally descended from the Apostles. I saw that Saint Paul was conscious of an apostolic authority which he could transfer, let’s say, to Saint Timothy and Saint Titus. When we read the pastoral Epistles, I and II Timothy and Titus, we see that he invested these two men with authority to function as bishops of the Church in Ephesus and in Crete, respectively, and he says to them, in effect, “Look, you teach, to the faithful, those things that I passed on to you, and you teach them to others who will teach them after they do” (II Timothy 2:2). And he expects people to heed Timothy and Titus with the same submission of mind and heart that they heeded him, Paul. And in heeding him, of course, they were heeding Christ. As Jesus said, “Whoever hears you, hears Me” (Luke 10:16).
So once I saw that Our Lord founded an authoritative Church, and that whatever that Church teaches is true, and whatever it teaches is consonant with Holy Scripture, that was all I needed. That was the key doctrine for me.
Believing other doctrines of the Church became a simple matter of clearing up a few questions. I thought, well, whatever the Church teaches on Purgatory, for instance, must be right. The Athanasian Creed says that I must hold the Catholic Faith whole and entire and intact, so I believe everything the Church teaches because it is the Church teaching it. But I still knew that, in the days to come, after I became a Catholic, people would ask me how I could swallow something like Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Doesn’t the Bible speak of Mary as a sinner? Or, how can you swallow her perpetual virginity? The Bible says she had other children, doesn’t it? * And I knew that I couldn’t answer them just by saying that, well, because the Church teaches it, it must be true.
That argument is certainly a sufficient reason for a Catholic to believe these things, but it will not satisfy a Protestant. So I felt obligated to embark on a full investigation of all the questions I had. How does the Church vindicate its teaching on this doctrine or that? That is what took up my time for the bulk of those three years, hunting down the biblical support for each of these Catholic dogmas. Although I realized that the Church is not required to mount a complete biblical defense, I thought that if I can prove a doctrine just from the Bible, without ever quoting Church Fathers or Papal encyclicals, then I am going to be able to come up with arguments that will persuade Protestants. That’s what I did, and that’s what I do now. That’s what Biblical Foundations International is all about.
Brother: Didn’t the Church Fathers most often quote the Bible when they were trying to defend the Faith against early heretics and non-Christians?
Gerry: Exactly. I believe that many Catholic apologists today sell the Bible short. Too many of them are quick to say, “Well, not everything we Catholics believe is explicitly taught in the Bible.” That’s absolutely true, but they don’t even try to develop the expertise to show implicit proofs from Holy Scripture. On something like Mary’s bodily assumption, for instance, they will simply start from Tradition, the extra-scriptural tradition, but I think it is far more powerful if we build our case from the Bible also, and meet Protestants on their own ground. I can make a case for the bodily assumption of Our Lady from Scripture alone, not only from the types of Mary in the Old Testament, such as Elijah and the Ark of the Covenant and Enoch, and so forth, but even from understanding statements in the New Testament, such as the visions that Saint John sees at the end of Revelation 11 and the beginning of Revelation 12 -the Woman clothed with the sun, seeing that as a prophecy of Our Lady’s Assumption
Brother: I see. So the main barrier was the question of authority, but once you accepted that authority, it became simply a matter of learning the various doctrines and adding them to the list of things you believe as a Catholic.
Gerry: You’re right. That was the main intellectual barrier. Once the Protestant principle of authority, sola scriptura , is shown to be false, you cannot be a Protestant any longer. You cannot walk around saying that you are going to believe only what the Bible teaches. Even if that by itself were true, you have no way of being sure that you, in fact, understand correctly what the Bible teaches, because you have only to look at the fact that countless Protestants read the same Bible you read, but come to totally different conclusions on such matters as infant baptism, speaking in tongues, women ministers, type of church government, and on and on and on it goes.
So that was the principal hurdle. But that doesn’t mean that, once I had overcome it and began to wrestle with issues like Purgatory and praying to Mary, I still did not have big emotional hurdles ahead. It was very difficult for me to see any place for Mary in my devotional life. Even after the arguments for praying the Rosary made sense on paper (the intellectual hurdle), the first time I prayed a Hail Mary, I was completely petrified. I expected the roof to be ripped off the house and a huge hand to swoop down from heaven and pick me up by the scruff of my neck and fling me into the flames of hell. I really felt like I was doing something blasphemous, because it is so culturally awkward for a Protestant, who was raised one way, to do something like that, something totally contrary to what has been ingrained in him. You feel very, very uncomfortable, and self-conscious, and awkward. It’s only with the passage of time that you acquire the habit of Catholic virtue, of praying the Rosary, or praying for the souls in Purgatory, or what have you.
Brother: When you finally understood that Marian devotion made sense, that it was indeed in keeping with the religion of Jesus Christ, what was your primary impulse? Was it intellectual, or was it inspirational or spiritual?
Gerry: Not all conversions are alike, I want to emphasize that. I’m not saying that one would have to go through the same hoops that I went through. But my conversion was always very intellectually driven. It was more than intellectual because we are not intellects alone. There is the whole emotional and mystical, and habitual side of the Catholic Faith, and it is absolutely necessary.
But for me, the intellectual core was always the most prominent. I never fell into anything because of an emotional impulse. I didn’t fall into praying the Rosary because I had just seen a movie about Fatima and it seemed so neat! Or, you know, I wandered into some Gothic cathedral and had some great aesthetic experience. It was never that way for me. I had to really fight my way, tooth and nail, to each conclusion, such as “praying the Rosary is OK.” And even after I became completely intellectually convinced of that, there was a certain amount of mental excitement stemming from the knowledge that I had learned the true doctrine here, but with the emotions, there was always a lag time.
As I said, the first time I prayed the Rosary, I knew intellectually that what I was doing was not praying with vain repetitions, as denounced by Our Lord in Matthew, chapter 6. That’s the verse I always used against praying the Rosary, but now I know that I was misrepresenting what the verse says. Jesus wasn’t saying that all repetitious prayer is vain, because the Bible is loaded with repetitious prayer. The Psalms are nothing but prayers which faithful Jews repeated over and over again. So did Our Lord. He prayed the same prayer three times in His agony in the garden, the exact same words, as Saint Matthew tells us. So I knew that what I was doing was sound and scriptural, but still, emotionally, I felt very uncomfortable doing it until it became a habit, and then it became second nature, and a great joy.
The Bible and the Papacy
Brother: When you talk about the authority of the Church, there comes to mind immediately the person who represents that authority, and is that authority personified – our Holy Father, the Pope. Now, how did a hardcore, diehard Protestant minister like you become a Papist?
Gerry: Again, it was Holy Scripture that forced me to that conclusion. The more I dug into the New Testament doctrine of the Church, the more I began to see that the primary term Jesus used in referring to His Church was “the Kingdom of God.” So, we are to look upon the Church, then, as a hierarchically structured organism, and monarchical to boot. And Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of God.
Now, I never had a problem with that. When I was a Protestant, I always referred to Jesus as King, but I never stopped to think about how a kingdom operates. Kings always have officers, and I saw that Jesus appoints the Apostles that they “may sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:30). He calls them to be the officers of His Kingdom, to exercise His kingly reign. They are His regents, His ministers. The Bible uses the word “steward” for minister, and of the stewards that every king had, one would be in charge of the treasury, another of the vineyards, another of internal affairs, and so forth. And there is always a chief steward, what we would call a prime minister, as the monarchs of England have today. Then I saw that the evidence was overwhelming that Peter was that prime minister. For instance, if you simply made a study, from a concordance, of the frequency with which Peter is mentioned in the Bible – he’s mentioned 196 times in the New Testament, and the second most-frequently referred to Apostle is Saint John with a mere 29 references – you would see what I mean. It’s not even a close contest.
And I saw that, throughout the Gospels, the group of the Apostles is often described as “Peter and the Twelve,” or “Peter and those who were with him.” He is always shown to be the spokesman of the group as a whole. The group addresses Jesus through Peter. Jesus addresses the group, almost invariably, through Peter. There is an inner circle of Peter, James and John, and even in that inner circle, Peter is the lead spokesman.
Jesus does things to Peter and for Peter that He does for no other Apostle. He is the only one given the privilege of walking on water. He is the one who pulled, out of the sea, the fish with a coin in its mouth, that’s sufficient to pay the tax for Jesus and Peter. The two are united in one coin. And there are all kinds of symbolisms in that coin which I won’t get into, but over and over again, Peter is definitely singled out. He has a headship. Even a Protestant scholar like Oscar Cullmann admits, in his book, Peter: Disciple, Apostle and Martyr, that Peter was the head of the Church.
Actually, there were three questions that I had to answer before I would accept the Catholic doctrine on the Papacy. The first was, is Peter the head of the Church? Does the Bible teach that Peter was the head of the Church? I saw that the answer is absolutely yes. He is the one who calls the meeting to elect a successor to Judas; he is the one who opens the Kingdom of God to the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2); he is the one who performs the first miracle in Acts 3; the one who speaks to the Sanhedrin in chapter 4; the one who causes Ananias and Saphira to fall dead in chapter 5; he is the one who goes with John to bring the Samaritans into the Church in chapter 8, and the Gentiles in chapter 10; and so on. So, the first question was answered: Peter definitely was the head of the Church at the time of the Apostles.
The second question was, what happened when the Apostles died? Did their offices then cease to exist? No, they did not. There is Apostolic succession. The Bible teaches it. I referred earlier to the evidence that can be drawn from what we call the pastoral Epistles of Saint Paul – two to Timothy and one to Titus – in which he addresses these two men as “my true sons in the Faith.” Here he implies a dynastic succession of office. Paul is their spiritual father. They are his sons. They inherit his mantle. In similar fashion, in the Old Testament, Elisha refers to Elijah as “my father.” He is Elijah’s spiritual heir. He gets a double portion of Elijah’s spirit; he is his first born son. So, the fact of a dynastic succession coming down from the Apostles is clearly indicated in the Bible.
The third question was: who in the early Church was – and who is today – the successor to Peter, and what is his role in the Church? The answer to this question deserves thorough consideration.
There are several texts in the New Testament that lead us to the answer. Three of them, in particular, are most amazing to me, but I never looked at them carefully when I was a Protestant. Let me give them to you in reverse order:
First, John 21:15 to 17: Here, Jesus as the Good Shepherd addresses Peter three times, and hands over His flock to him to be His vicar. He says to Peter, “You take care of My lambs; you feed My sheep; you tend My flock.”
Next, Luke 22:31 and surrounding context: After speaking of the twelve thrones the Apostles are to sit upon, Jesus says to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to sift you (in Greek, ‘you’ is plural, meaning ‘you Apostles’) like wheat, but I have prayed for you (singular, meaning Peter) that your faith will not fail. And when you are turned around, you will be a source of strength to your brethren.” Peter is the point man for the Apostolic college.
And last, Matthew 16:17 to 19: This is the most powerful text. Jesus makes three astounding statements about Peter which come right on the heels of Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, that is, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of God. First Jesus says, “You are the blessed one, Simon, son of John.” Notice the parallel structure to the two acclamations. Peter first says you are x, son of y; and Jesus says you are x, son of y – you are blessed Simon, son of John, or Jonah.
Then, Jesus says the three things about Peter that show that Peter participates in Jesus’ special office. For if Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, it means that He is Prophet, Priest and King, all rolled into one. These were the three anointed offices of the Old Covenant. At the beginning of their ministries, prophets and priests and kings were anointed to show that their authority came from God. The prophet brings truth, the priest brings life, and the king brings righteousness. And Jesus announced Peter’s participation in each of these special offices of the Christ.
In verse 17, He tells Peter that he is blessed because he didn’t arrive at the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ through his own flesh and blood, but it was revealed to him by God the Father in Heaven. So, Peter is the one upon whom God has bestowed a special prophetic function, an insight. He sees the truth about Who Jesus is, even though the others shared some false ideas; for instance, that He might be one of the prophets reincarnated. So, by His sovereign choice, God has singled out Simon Peter to be the authoritative teacher of truth about Who Jesus is.
In verse 18, Our Lord continues, saying to Peter: “You are rock, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Now, I don’t have time to go into detail here, but the image of rock is a Temple image. There was a rock – it was referred to in the Old Testament as the foundation stone upon which the Temple of Solomon was built – that sealed the gateway to the underworld. So Jesus is saying, “Peter, you are going to be the rock upon which I am going to build My Temple, My Church, the New Covenant Temple.” In the Old Covenant, it was the High Priest alone who could stand upon that rock, because upon that rock was the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. So, Peter is singled out implicitly as having this high priestly and this rock-like function.
In verse 19, Jesus concludes: “And I will give to you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven.” Here, Our Lord quotes the language of Isaias 22:22, where Isaias describes the Old Testament office of prime minister, or what was then called “chief steward,” and speaks of a man named Eliacim, son of Helcias, who becomes chief steward after another man, Sobna, is deposed. Speaking through the prophet Isaias, God says several things about the office of prime minister, which I paraphrase:
God says, “I will put the special vestments on him, and fasten the sash of authority around him.” So he wears distinctive garments.
God says he will be a father to the inhabitants of the land. So he has a patriarchal office. The word “pope” simply means “father.”
God says, “I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder, so that when he opens, no one can shut; and when shut, no one can open.” These are the words of Isaias which Jesus Himself quotes.
And then God says that he will have a seat of honor. So he has an episcopal see.
And the fifth and final thing God says about the prime minister, the chief steward, is that it will be an office of dynastic succession, that it will descend to his offspring, and offshoots, just like the king’s. So, the king’s office passes on to his son, and the prime minister’s office passes on to his son, if only at least his spiritual son.
By invoking the Old Testament testimony of Isaias, by borrowing his language and concept of the chief steward, or prime minister, Jesus, in effect, is saying to Peter: “The Church I will build is the Kingdom of God. I, the Son of David the King, will be its King. But I must have My officers, My ministers, My stewards. You are going to be My chief steward. So, I’m going to give you the keys the chief steward carries.” And, since the chief steward’s office is one of dynastic succession, Our Lord intended Peter’s office and authority to be transmitted to successors.
And so we come to the final consideration: historically, who, in fact, inherited Peter’s office and authority? There’s only one candidate -the Bishop of Rome! I saw from early Church history that all Church Fathers who talked about where Peter went, talked about his going to Rome. It’s as historically documented as any fact we know about the early Church – that Peter went to Rome, that he died in Rome, and that the next bishop of Rome acted confidently as the possessor of his authority, which the early Church sought and accepted.
For primary source documentation on this subject, I read an anthology entitled Documents Illustrating Papal Authority from A.D. 96 to 451, edited by Edward Giles. It’s a Protestant book. It’s an anthology of all the patristic writings and sermons during the first five centuries, which bear on the authority of the Bishop of Rome, beginning with the first letter of Clement to the Church at Corinth. As you read them, there is a cumulative effect which reaches its climax when you get to the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when Pope Leo sends his Tome to the Council. All the Fathers present had been perplexed about whether there are two Natures or one Nature, two Persons or one Person, in Christ, and Leo spelled it out. And they all stand up spontaneously, and chant unanimously, “Peter has spoken through Leo! The matter is settled. Rome has spoken.”
By the year 451, the issue of the primacy and authority of the Bishop of Rome had been decided very clearly. There had been a very slow, organic, but sure development of an understanding that the Bishop of Rome calls the shots. He is the final authority. And so, for me, embracing the Papacy was just another matter of following through on my original commitment to believe whatever the Bible teaches.
Protestant Disregard of Church History
Brother: Now, you have discussed history, and the fact that the Fathers of the Church provided strong arguments in support of the existence of the Papacy. Did you study Church history in your seminary training?
Gerry: First let me say that the patristic writings fill in the picture. I believe that you can make the argument from the Bible alone, but history fills in the picture. The Bible sketches the outline, but history provides the extra evidence. And I would say that history is the biggest blind spot that Protestants have. I think that any Protestant with an open mind, who would study the history of the early Church, and read the writings of the first Christian leaders, would become convinced that the early Church was Catholic. It was not Protestant.
As to your question about studying Church history in the seminary, I would answer, yes and no. We did look at it, but I stand by my statement that Protestants are notoriously and characteristically weak on history. They may study Church history, but they do it very selectively, and they do it with such a heavy filter imposed on their minds that they filter out all the data that would lead them to Catholic conclusions. They don’t really look at it with an impartial or objective or open mind.
The typical course in Church history that you get in a Protestant seminary covers the first 15 centuries of the Church almost at a whirlwind pace, and you read a few excerpts here and there from Saint Augustine or Saint Thomas. Half the time you’re reading what the Protestant author considers to be the deplorable degeneration of the Church. Every time statements are made about the authority of the Pope – how it grew, for example, under Saint Leo the Great and Saint Gregory the Great – they are made in a manner that presents this growth as something terrible, a horrible usurpation by a tyrant. But there is no attempt to look at the actions of the Pope sympathetically, with an open mind, to try to learn what his rationale was. There is no real attempt to investigate this question of authority, to put oneself inside the Catholic mind to see if its reasoning is correct, or convincing, or at all defensible.
The course goes over that period very, very quickly. Functionally speaking, to the Protestant, Church history almost comes to an end with the death of the last Apostle. You’re in this terrible twilight zone for 1400 years, when people were all stumbling around in a dusky gloom, in which they had only the faintest sense of what Christianity was – just enough, maybe, to get by. Most Protestants simply do not want to believe that there weren’t any real Christians during that time. They’ll say that there were some Christians here and there, almost despite Catholic dogma, because there must have been some people who didn’t really swallow all that nonsense.
They’ll admit that Augustine was a pretty good guy, but he was schizophrenic. He said all those terribly Catholic things, but in his better moments he was a real evangelical at heart. That’s the way they would pretty much read Augustine. And they would say, “Look at the poor guy! It wasn’t his fault that he was a Papist – he didn’t have a choice, he lived too soon.” They would say that if Martin Luther and John Calvin had been writing and preaching in Augustine’s time, he would have joined their side. He couldn’t help not being Protestant, because it was a product not yet available on the market. But once you get to Martin Luther, and John Calvin, and John Knox, then you’ve got people standing up who completely blow all the dust off what the New Testament really teaches, and they restore the Gospel to purity, and then the true Church was really cranked up again. So, they spend most of their time studying the careers of the different Protestant denominations.
The Causes of the Reformation
Brother: Now, you have done a lot of talking about Protestantism. You look at it now as a heresy you no longer believe. Looking back at the history of the Protestant Revolt, how do you think it was possible for such a mass apostasy to happen in one country after another, taking over once-Catholic Europe? What was it that primed that continent to lose its faith in such staggering proportions?
Gerry: I think Scripture shows us that the rise and ultimate success – if we can call it that – of any heresy is always brought on by both internal and external causes. And the Church always admits her own failures, but sometimes she does it in the wrong way – today especially. So, I don’t think any Catholic, even the most triumphalistic, will deny that there were weaknesses in the Church that made it easy for Protestantism to amass such a following. In other words, the Church was not being faithful to God in some areas, but not in her official teachings, obviously. As God sees the Church, she is the Mystical Body of Christ, always immaculate in her infallible teaching.
However, at that time, people in the Church were not living up to the teaching of the Church. They were being disobedient. The lives of many were lax. We know that the Church had just come off the Renaissance, and many of the Renaissance popes were less than exemplary. They were not, for instance, the calibre of a Saint Pius X at the beginning of our century. And God chastises His people. In the Bible, we see this pattern of chastisement over and over again. It’s a pattern recurring all through the Book of Judges. God’s people became lax and lazy and indifferent to their covenant obligations, so God allowed the Philistines to rise up and harass them, and to attack and defeat them, and ultimately to carry them away into captivity.
That is exactly what happened to millions of members of the Catholic Church in the 16th century. Intellectually, they were taken prisoners of war by the heresy of Protestantism, and lived out their lives in servitude to this heresy. They were exiled from their proper homeland, the Catholic Faith, and deported to a kind of intellectual Babylon, where they were made to worship a false god by a false faith.
So there were problems within the Catholic Church, internal problems of corruption among the clergy, going all the way up to the papacy. I think also that most Catholic analyses of the era will admit that there was a problem in the field of philosophy. In his book, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, Louis Bouyer points out that the Church had failed to remain faithful to the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, which she has always taught is the philosophia perennis – the perennial philosophy of the Church.
At the end of the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII emphasized the need for this constant return of the Church to a pure, unadulterated Thomism. And because Thomism had fallen by the wayside in the late 1300s and 1400s, the false philosophy called Nominalism rose up and became the dominant philosophy taught in the seminaries. Nominalism posits a radical distinction between the outward and the inward, between the spiritual and the material, between the natural and the supernatural. In other words, it’s faith versus works, rather than faith and works. And it’s water Baptism versus inner reception of the Spirit, rather than being baptized with water and the Spirit, as Jesus says in John 3:5. And Christ is the Head of the Church, not the Pope, rather than Christ through the Pope. In other words, Nominalism attacks the Incarnation which is the central idea of the Christian Faith: that God gives Himself to us in embodied form; that He gives His grace through the Sacraments; that we submit to Christ in submitting to the Church; that we receive the Word of God through the Magisterium of the Church; and so on.
Luther was trained in Nominalism, and so were all the reformers. They ended up with warped perspectives. I am reminded here of what Our Lord said: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” God joined faith and works together; Luther ripped them apart. He said one is justified by faith and not by works, and he ended up actually having to throw the whole book of James out of the Bible because James says in 2:24: “You see, my brothers, that we are justified by works, and not by faith alone,” and Luther was teaching sola fide, by faith alone. He said that James’ Epistle is wrong, and he wanted it out of the Bible. We are saved by the Spirit, and not by Baptism, and on and on it went. Because it was not policing its own, the Church’s house was not set in order, and all this sloppy thinking was going on. It laid the egg that Luther hatched.
Let me move to the second point, the external factors. There is no doubt that even when the Church is at its purest and most faithful, there will always be heresies and heretics. The devil never sleeps, and he’s out to corrupt the Faith and lead people astray. So, there is a supernatural dimension to the problem. The devil hates the Church, and he saw that the times were ripe for a massive exodus of Christians out of the Church.
There were all kinds of political and economic factors at work, too, although I don’t want to follow the route of purely secularized analysts and say that the Reformation was caused primarily by sociological factors, that it was just people who did it. However, there is some element of truth in that which should not be overlooked.
In other words, nationalism was on the rise, and some unholy people saw that, if they could break up the unity of Christendom and create independent national entities that had no allegiance to a higher, overarching unity, there no longer would be a Holy Roman Empire. However, there would have to be national, or state, churches, because if there were a Spain, and an Italy, and a Germany, etc., all politically independent but still loyal sons of the Pope as their spiritual emperor, that just wouldn’t do.
The Bible tells us the same thing. After Solomon died and his son, Roboam, turned out to be a very poor ruler – like many of the Renaissance popes were – the 10 northern tribes decided to form their own independent nation. So the nation of Israel was formed, independent of the kingdom of Juda in the south. For a time, all the Israelites in the northern kingdom went down to Jerusalem for the appointed high holy days, similar to our holy days of obligation. Then, the rulers in the north realized that this was ridiculous. The people are going back to Jerusalem regularly; they see the glory of the Davidic palace and the Davidic king’s son sitting on the throne, and it won’t be long before they want to return to unity with Juda. So, the rulers had to set up their own alternative religious structure. They set up their golden calves, one in Dan and another in Bethel, and they told the people that these were their gods. So they reinstituted worship of the golden calf. The point is that exaggerated nationalism tends to lead to religious independence as well.
Brother: So, the Protestant Reformation was schism degenerating into heresy, similar to the Anglican schism.
Gerry: Yes. Although there was heresy – it’s like the question, which came first, the chicken or the egg? It wasn’t simply a matter of schism, with no heresy at the outset. I would have to say that the heresy came first. Luther lost his Catholic Faith. He came to reject certain teachings of the Catholic Faith and, as you pointed out at the beginning of this interview, if you reject any of these teachings of the Church – even just one of them – you reject the whole seamless garment. The Faith is a seamless garment, so you believe all, or you believe nothing. So, in rejecting some of the teachings, Luther, in effect, put himself outside the Church altogether. Hence, it was this heresy that led to his schism, and the schism, of course, put further heresy in its wake.
Problems in the Church Today
Brother: OK. Let’s turn our attention now to current happenings in the Church, specifically to the matter of conversions to the Faith. There have been a few Protestants with a backgound similar to yours – evangelical reformed, fundamentalist, conservative Protestants – who have converted to Catholicism in recent years. Do you see this as the beginning of some sort of large movement back to the Church, a Catholic counter-reformation in the 20th century?
Gerry: Up until a year ago, that is exactly what I saw – the beginning of massive conversions back to the Church. But now I’m not so sure, and I’ll explain why
Ever since the Reformation in the 16th century, there has been a steady stream of Protestants who, tracing the river back to its source, found their way back home. Let’s face it, there is some Christianity in Protestantism. I don’t want to water-down one bit the fact that it is a heresy – and I am much stronger on that point now than I have been in the past – but there is some truth in Protestantism, as there is in any false religion, and it’s because Protestantism lives off the borrowed capital of Catholicism. The truth that Protestants do hold may prompt God to bring about some motions of grace within them that are intended to lead them, if the grace is not frustrated, to their final destination, that is, back into the Church, outside of which, obviously, there isn’t any salvation.
But, since 1960, conversions have plummeted. According to the Kenedy Official Catholic Directory, which comes out every year, up until 1960 we always had a healthy number of conversions – especially in the United States. Within the last year, I have come to look upon these statistics with a more jaundiced eye than I did previously, and it’s because of the point I’ll make in a minute about Americanism. But we do have some conversions. The rationale given for the reforms of Vatican Council II, and the changing of the Mass, was to bring back fallen-away Catholics, and to augment greatly the number of conversions to the Faith. The precise opposite has occurred. It has been a disaster – an ecumenical disaster.
Protestants today, in general, don’t respect Catholicism at all. To them, the Catholic Church seems to preach indifferentism. They get the impression that the average Catholic of today believes that anyone can believe anything he wants. So, they think, why join this at all? There is more moral fibre, they rationalize, in their evangelical and fundamentalist sects, which have more belief in absolute truth than does the average Catholic priest or parish. So, conversions have plummeted.
Now, within the last 5 or 10 years, we have seen several evangelicals come back to Catholicism. I thought that these were probably the first few raindrops of what would eventually become a real downpour of conversions. I don’t think that’s going to happen now, but I was more optimistic at that time because I was less critical of the state of Catholicism in this country. I thought that, despite a few problems, excesses, or abuses here and there, the state of spiritual health in the average parish was, by and large, a pretty good one. So, the Catholicism that these converts were coming into, could still save their souls.
Now, I have become extremely cynical, not in an emotionally unhealthy sense, but in a realistic sense, because I think I have – hopefully by God’s grace – a far more accurate assessment of just how much real Catholicism there is in this country. And that assessment is the result of three discoveries:
First, discovering what the whole heresy of Americanism is all about. I read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Testem Benevolentiae, which he wrote to Cardinal Gibbons in 1899, on January 22 – the same date, by the way, that Roe vs. Wade was promulgated in this country. I believe there is a connection there. The first bishop in this country was Archbishop Carroll. I have a big, fat book, The Life and Times of John Carroll. It’s amazing the way he sold the Catholic Faith down the river just so Catholics could get along in a pluralistic, democratic society. I have come to see that the American Church was not as pure as I thought that it might have been at its best in this country.
Second, discovering what it means to be a Traditionalist by finding my way to the traditional Mass and the traditional catechesis. I have moved from being what is called a “Conservative” Catholic to being a “Traditionalist” Catholic. But I deplore the adjectives. The word “Catholic” should be enough to indicate that you love tradition, and that you love all the dogmas of the Faith and everything about the Faith. Within the past year, I’ve become completely a Traditionalist.
Third, discovering the dogma, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, which I was not really aware of – at least in an explicit way – up until about a year ago. It was through reading your books, Gate of Heaven, Bread of Life, The Loyolas and the Cabots, and They Fought the Good Fight, and becoming aware of Saint Benedict Center, both your group and the groups in Still River, and beginning to study your periodicals, books, and tapes – it was through these means that I came to see that, judged by the standard of the answer to the question “Are they teaching this dogma?”, the hierarchy in this country, even those bishops who pass for conservatives, are – and there’s no other way to say it – grossly derelict in their duties. And that bodes very ill for this country. In other words, if the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in this country, and in the other countries as well, is not teaching this truth, then God has given us over to a reprobate mind. I mean we are handed over to what I ruefully conclude is almost inevitable judgment.
Now, I’m not a fatalist. I believe that through faithful evangelism, by teaching Extra Ecclesiam as defined dogma, by trying to catechize Catholics to bring them back to the unity of the Faith – in other words, by getting our own house in order – we can turn things around. I don’t believe it’s a lost cause, but I realize that we are far further from achieving our goals than I thought we were one year ago, for it was only then that I came to understand the need to restore the traditional Mass and the traditional catechesis throughout every parish in this land. We need to restore the essential dogma, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, to its clear, uncompromising meaning, and then we will be able to eradicate Americanism from the thinking of even conservative Catholics.
Let me add two footnotes to what I have just said. First, I agree that conversions are still occurring. They are the rain drops falling into the glass, the Church. I used to think that the glass was maybe half full. But now I see the real, true glass, and I see that real, true Catholicism is growing just a tiny bit, and, although these few rain drops are appreciated, they are far from bringing the water to the brim.
My second concern, my second footnote, is this: I don’t want to be overly critical of either myself or my fellow converts, and I thank God for the grace He gave me to be able to see the three things I just mentioned, but I am saddened, very saddened, by the fact that many of these converts do not see these things. So, my enthusiasm over these conversions is tempered by my concern – what are they converting to? If they are converting to an Americanist, watered down, compromised Catholicism, then it is not going to do any lasting good. They are going to be just like I was a year ago. When I was out on the stump working for Catholic Answers, people would put tough questions to me, like, “Are you saying that all Protestants are lost?” Like a typical Novus Ordo, Americanist-influenced Catholic, I would say, “No, I’m not saying they’re lost, but I really think they ought to become Catholic.” I just did not see how imperative it was that they become so!
Brother: Now, we at Saint Benedict Center obviously continue the doctrinal crusade of Father Feeney, but we are also missionaries. We have a two-fold goal. We want to convert America, and we want to bring all Catholics – especially the hierarchy, whose primary responsibility is to teach the truths of the Faith – to understand and proclaim the dogma, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. As we see it, we have three main enemies: Liberalism, Modernism, and Americanism. You have discussed two of them quite thoroughly – Liberalism, which is the same as Indifferentism, and Americanism. What is your assessment of the Modernist problem?
Gerry: I think that Catholics, in general, are more Modernist in their thinking than they themselves realize. Many of my conservative Catholic friends would be insulted and offended if I accused them of making even the least concession to Modernism, which they obviously have done. There is a right-wing of Modernism, you might say. Even many of the authors whose books were recommended to me before I came into the Church – authors like Henri de Lubac, Louis Bouyer, and Hans Urs von Balthazar, theologians with whom many conservatives are comfortable – I now see as Modernists. They are relatively conservative Modernists, but Modernists nonetheless. Even many of the prominent cardinals in the Church, many of the prominent occupants of Magisterial sees, are Modernists.
Brother: That’s right! Let me read to you an excerpt from a pamphlet that Saint Benedict Center published some years ago. It’s called “A Statement to the Catholics of Boston and of America.” It begins:
A quarter of a century ago, a strong voice was raised in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and was heard all around the world: the voice of Catholics from Saint Benedict Center accusing Boston College of joining a worldwide conspiracy to weaken, or at least to silence, the most fundamental dogma of the Catholic Faith, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, which is in plain English, Outside the Church there is no salvation.
We warned at the time that, unless the persons vested with the authority to guard the Holy Faith were to smite the nascent heresy with their God-given sword of the spirit, dire consequences would fall upon the Church and upon the Faithful…
The dire consequences of this deplorable state of affairs have since come upon us, as every Catholic now knows, in Boston, and in America, and in the whole world. The missionary life of the Church is almost dead. Religious Orders have been dissolved. Priests and religious in unheard of numbers are deserting their sacred commitments. Catholic education is bankrupt. Vocations approach the vanishing point.
There is a whole list of these consequences, and one of them is the replacement of the Holy Mass, given to us by Our Savior Himself, by a Protestantized parody of it. The letter ends:
We still profess the same Faith, out of which no one at all can be saved, as we did a quarter of a century ago.
This statement was published in 1973. In the late 1940s, in trying to put his finger on the source of these emerging problems, Father Feeney had concluded that they were the result of the ever-increasing denial of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. He had perceived back then that there was a serious problem in the Church in America, because so many priests were very lax about converting people, and about preaching the hard truths of the Faith. He knew all about Americanism and Liberalism and Indifferentism, and how dangerous they were to the Faith.
So, my question is: Do you agree with us that the problems in the Church did not begin after Vatican II, but that they date back well before the Council, and not just in this country, but throughout the world? Even in Ireland in the 1950s, a Jesuit wrote a biography of Saint Francis Xavier, and he denied the dogma right in that biography; he criticized Saint Francis for thinking that Buddhists were going to hell if they didn’t convert.
Gerry: Oh, absolutely! I agree absolutely. And, as I said earlier, I think in terms of what happened in this country, the problem here goes all the way back to the 1700s. I make a distinction between Catholicism in this country prior to 1776, and after that. I think of the great Jesuit missionaries who came over here and who certainly believed the dogma. I think of Our Lady of Guadalupe appearing to Juan Diego in 1531. She wanted this whole continent consecrated to her Divine son as King, and to herself as Queen. She wanted the New World to be unabashedly Catholic, in part as reparation for those souls leaving the Church via the Protestant Revolt, which was going on in the Old World at that very time.
But the Catholicism that made peace with Protestantism, when this country was founded in 1776 as the United States of America, already looked upon itself as just one among many optional religions. Look at the Maryland experiment. Many people will say that it was wonderful for Maryland to grant this toleration to Catholics. But that’s just the point! This toleration was set within the larger context of pluralism. In other words, it meant that there are many faiths, and Catholicism is just one of them. And the Catholics thought that was just wonderful! At that point, they denied, in effect, that they were the One True Church, and that they held the One True Faith.
When I read about churches being shared by Protestants and Catholics having services in the same building, although other Catholics may think that’s really neat, I think it’s deplorable. I say that that chapel or church should be consecrated to the True Faith, and that Faith alone. Heretics and schismatics should not be allowed to use it. So I think that Catholicism in America, going all the way back to that time, was already compromised.
Coming up to the last century, I think Cardinal Gibbons was a liberal. Years ago, when I first came into the Church, I loved his book, The Faith of Our Fathers . But as I have grown in my Catholic Faith, I have come to see that there are serious problems with it. There are places where he betrays the absolute truth of the Catholic Faith.
Brother: In his Bread of Life , Father Feeney strongly criticized this book.
Gerry: I think Cardinal Gibbons once boasted that he had written a book that Protestants would not find offensive at all.
Brother: And about 60 years later, we have Archbishop Cushing boasting that he never made a convert in his life.
The interview ended with this strange boast by a Prince of the Catholic Church in America. One can only wonder “what might have been” had Archbishop Cushing used the power and prestige of his office to support Father Leonard Feeney, not to silence him. Imagine the huge number of new sons of the Church, sons with the zeal of Gerry Matatics, who would now be the glorious fruit of fifty years of solid missionary activity throughout this country, and what a great blessing that would be for the Church, America and the world!
Gerry Matatics continues to do great work addressing both Catholics and non-Catholics through his ongoing lecture apostolate and his apologetical writings. Were there more courageous apostolic men like him, America could quickly make up for lost time and, in a matter of a few years, be well on its way to becoming a Catholic nation.
We hope that this interview will be of spiritual benefit to any Bible-believing Protestant who wishes, at least, to know his “enemy,” the Roman Catholic Church. Accompanying a “die-hard” evangelical, such as Mr. Matatics once was, through this cursory resumé of his journey of faith should be an eye-opener, a light to the soul for anyone searching for the true Christian revelation.
Especially convincing are the penetrating analyses of the Petrine passages of the Bible, and the Old Testament references which Gerry uses to support them, in his irrefutable defense of the succession of divinely constituted authority in the bishops of the Catholic Church, and principally in the infallible Bishop of Rome.
Thank you, Mr. Gerry Matatics, and may Our Lady continue to enlighten you and give you the “increase” promised by Her Divine Son through the Power of the Holy Ghost.
* Editor’s Note: It should be noted that in no way does the Bible lend support to the notion that Mary was a sinner, or that she has other children (except in the spiritual sense). Many argue that, since in the Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-5), Our Lady calls Jesus her Savior, she must be a sinner. This is not true. Our Lady was redeemed and saved in a unique fashion. She was redeemed “preventively,” before the stain of sin touched her (cf. From the Housetops #36, page 49-50, wherein this argument is given in more detail). As for the “other children,” the Bible only mentions the “brethren,” of Our Lord, which was a reference to Our Lord’s cousins. Scripture often refers to cousins, nephews, and other relations as “brethren.”
For more information on Gerry Matatics’ Apostolate, or to order his tapes, contact:
Biblical Foundations International
P.O. Box 569
Dunmore, PA 18512 USA
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