Tradition the one indivisible essence of the Roman Catholic Church
How describable the churches who present themselves as totally Christian find the audacity to criticize our church because of our teaching on tradition. They may not exemplify through direct speech but always using subtle terminology puts our faith down making us appear as a dominant entity holding us up as a controlling religion.
Perhaps most of this occurred after the reformation when Luther took the reins of the Roman Church and made a mockery of many traditional requirements. Of course, there were many obstacles that needed to be looked at in a judicial manner that since then have had a reversal. To understand what had happened we must look at one of Luther’s objections was the use of indulgences when wealth came into the center of controversy.
Luther wrote in his Theses that the church could not sell indulgences which appeared to be available to those who could buy them through generous giving. The Catechism says regarding obtaining an indulgence through the church; “who by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.” CCC 1478. I do not have access to how this read in 1517, but there was enough in the language of the document to spur Luther’s arguments and finally leaving the Catholic Church. This is not an expose’ on those arguments, but to indicate that our teaching on indulgences falls under some of the traditions of the Catholic Church.
Subsequently, the Catholic Church got its authority from Christ and his choice of a leader was St. Peter. Who was first in line to follow the authority given to Peter and the Apostles right before he ascended into heaven? The Roman Church which eventually became catholic (universal) and for 2,000 years has withstood attacks on our beliefs, most significant is the teaching of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
Couple that most precious reality with the teaching of Apostolic Succession which has kept the authority of the Church as One. Jesus even succinctly stated he would be with his church until the end. “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28: 20). There is a saying that applies to many different aspects of religion; “Cafeteria Christians, or Cafeteria Catholics.” How simple it becomes to pick and choose just what appeals to any one person or persons as groups. Unfortunately, that does not hold water, as the old adage goes, what is written is gospel and our Church holds to the documents of Dogmas.
What is an indulgence? “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.” CCC 1471.
Ralph B. Hathaway