We live in an age of change. The winds of ecumenism are blowing the halls and temples of the world's great religions. Much of the blustering originates the shadowy recesses of the Vatican. Witness, if you will, the bright words of Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Liberty, from which we learn that religious freedom is a right.
Well, that certainly seems fair. From accounts in the news media, Rome has been making serious efforts throughout the world to obtain religious freedom, at least for herself. Vatican emissaries have urged the governments of China, India, Sudan and who knows where else to not only permit the establishment of Catholic churches and missions in their countries, but to protect priests and other religious who run them. In a sense, I suppose, the RCC is attempting to make the council's declaration a reality.
Did the Council proclaim this freedom of religion as a right to be extended to all churches and peoples? Of course it did not. Sure, everyone is included, but not to the same degree as Mother Church on the Tiber. A footnote on the declaration reads:
In other words, everyone in the word has the right to religious freedom, alone or in assembly. However, the Roman Catholic Church has a more right than other churches or communities. This claim, as are most other pretensions to special authority, seems to be built on the very particular RCC interpretation of Matthew 16:18. In that Rome's self-serving interpretation of this verse is incorrect, as has been demonstrated here and on other Christian websites time and again, her claim to special privilege in the area of religious freedom also is invalid.
Was it always thus in the visible church, the church that Rome claims to rule? I am aware of no document from apostolic times that even hints that the first Christians claimed religious rights "in greater fulness" that those of other belief systems. In fact, the Scriptures show that the earliest Christians continued to keep the Mosaic Law and to meet in synagogues on Shabbos.
Has Rome honored this declaration of religious freedom that she demands for herself in her dealings with other faiths? That is a question easily answered. Just try to find a church or temple of another religion within the territory of the Vatican.
I am not asking you to believe me simply because I say this is so. Read the Declaration in it's entirety. It is available online. As you read, ask yourself whether the RCC is practicing the high virtues the document proclaims. Then read your Bible and compare the specifics of the declaration and Rome's performance with the Scriptures. Chapter 13 of Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church would be a good starting point.
|Home | More Ecumenical Stuff | Catholic Stuff | PTG Forum|
(C) 1994-2008 Ron Loeffler