Well, Community Support for Refugees (CSR) in a leaflet distributed Sep-Oct 2003 in Perth, Western Australia, quotes the following:
"Then I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land." Ezekiel 36: 24-25, Hebrew Scriptures.
"I was a stranger and you made me welcome." Matthew, 25: 35, Christian Scriptures.
First of all, read Ezekiel again -- God is supposedly saying he will gather the Hebrew people back to their land, NOT to scatter people of various cultures all over the place! This scripture has quite a different meaning to what the people who help refugees (and by so doing mix up people of conflicting cultures) think it means!
If you have an Old Testament, look a few verses back at Ezekiel 36: 23, which claims to be quoting the Lord: "23. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the Gentiles, which you have profaned in the midst of them; …" (Douay, Catholic, Ezechiel 36:23)
Well, verses 16 to 19 say the Israelites had been scattered among the nations because they shed blood and defiled their land with idols. Reading the verse above it looks as if mixing with the Gentile heathens had not helped the Hebrews to really turn back to the Lord. Evidently multiculturalism didn't have wonderful results in those days, even under the Lord's watchful eye!
Then look at the Christian scripture quote -- welcoming a stranger isn't the same as inviting him to PERMANENTLY take over part of your dwelling or your country!
Furthermore, this song by Moses in the Hebrew scriptures suggests that the boundaries of nations are God-given.
"When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam : he appointed the bounds of people according to the number of the children of Israel." (Deuteronomy 32: 8; Douay translation 1609, Catholic)
And didn't a Christian scripture say that God had set bounds to where each nation dwelt?
"And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation." (The Acts 17: 26, Authorised Version, 1611, English reformers).
The meaning of The Acts passage still comes through in the newer translations:
"… he has given to each the cycles it was to pass through and the fixed limits of its habitation." (Knox, Catholic, N.T. 1945)
"… He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live." (Good News, 1966)
"… he decreed the set times and the set limits of the dwelling of [man] …" (New World, 1984)
"… he decreed the times and limits of their habitation." (New Jerusalem, 1985).
[COMMENT: Isn't it strange that these Christians' various translations nearly all have a similar meaning, but the invasions of parts of Africa, then the Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa occurred, often with the cross of Christ as a banner, pretext, or "feel-good" excuse? And, now that the fashion has swung towards multiculturalism and the facilitation of a kind of "reverse invasion" wave into Christian lands, the Christian leaders have done a U-turn, but still disobey this sacred text, nowadays in a different way. COMMENT ENDS]
And had Jesus of Nazareth contradicted the traditional way of thinking, that is, excluding people of other cultures if they did not conform to his teachings?
"If your brother sins, reprove him … if he does not listen take along with you one or two more … if he does not listen … tell the Church … if he does not listen even to the Church, let him be to you as the Gentiles and the tax-collectors." (Matthew 18: 15-18)
Well, the "Gentiles" were of different religion and race to the Judeans. So, would this teaching, which is said to be among the really original teachings of Jesus, breach the present-day man-made laws against religious and racial discrimination, or was it based on common sense? Or, dare we say it, was it part of the divine plan? -- Anonymous response, Perth, 21 Oct 03, expanded 02 Nov 03 and 08 Dec 03, revised 04 Aug 04
National Catholic Reporter
, The Independent Newsweekly, USA;
Posted January 5, 2004
As Catholic pastors, we have become increasingly disturbed by the tone and, in some cases, content of documents and statements from the Vatican, bishops' conferences and individual bishops on issues categorized under the heading of "homosexual" or "gay/lesbian." We respect the teaching authority of the Church. Because of this, we find particularly troubling the increase in the use of violent and abusive language directed at any human person. Such language is inappropriate. This is especially so when addressing members of the community of the faithful. These divisive and exclusionary statements from the Church are contrary to sound pastoral practice.
The life journey in faith is unique and sacred, including the personal integration of sexuality and spirituality. Condemnations leveled at sincere Catholics attempting to make sense out of their journey are inappropriate and pastorally destructive.
As priests and pastors we are speaking out to make clear that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are all members of God's family, brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus and deserving of the same dignity and respect owed any human being. Recognition of the inalienable dignity of the human person is the only path toward justice and reconciliation. We affirm the goodness of all homosexual persons. We root ourselves in the U.S. Bishops' statement "Always Our Children." Additionally, we re-affirm the understanding of the goodness of the human person as put forth throughout the papacy of Pope John Paul II. Further, we want to state clearly that ministering to and with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is mutually beneficial, as is all ministerial activity. Pre-judging where any believer's journey will take them is inappropriate. Walking with them, as we do with our heterosexual brothers and sisters, is the appropriate Christian response.
In the recent past, individual bishops, bishops' conferences and the Vatican have assumed a tone of such violence and abusiveness toward these sons and daughters of the Church, we can no longer remain silent. Has any other group of people within the Body of Christ been so assaulted and violated by such mean-spirited language? Examples from the most recent Vatican document show all too clearly the demonization of these children of God, referring to homosexuality as a "troubling moral and social phenomenon," "a serious depravity," "the spread of the phenomenon," "approval or legalization of evil," "grave detriment to the common good," "harmful to the proper development of human society," "intrinsically disordered." Does anyone consider this vile and toxic language invitational?
For many gay and lesbian Catholics, this most recent series of attacks has forced them, out of self-respect and self-love, to withdraw from active participation in the Church and question how they can remain members of a Church they experience as abusive. It is not possible to minister to and with the needs of our homosexual brothers and sisters with language of this tone as a foundation.
The Catholic Church is most catholic when it is inclusive and embracing, and least reflective of the gospel of Jesus when it is exclusive and rigid. For this reason, we also want to affirm the many pastoral and positive statements by certain bishops and bishops' conferences (e.g. "Always Our Children").
The Church's theology, including her moral teaching, is always in dialogue with the broader lived experience of her members, which shapes and rearticulates the ancient deposit of faith. We encourage a new atmosphere of openness to dialogue which includes the lived experience of many Catholic members. We recognize the blessings of countless homosexuals in a variety of relationships. We believe their experiences must be listened to respectfully.
While we do not know the reasons for the increasingly violent and abusive language, we deplore it as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ and ask that it stop immediately. Furthermore, we request that all those in official positions of teaching authority in the Church refrain from any more statements directed AT the gay and lesbian members of the Body of Christ, and instead begin an earnest dialogue WITH those same members of the Body of Christ.
For our part, we pledge to treat all who seek to continue their faith journey with us with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation.
We join the countless men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, who seek justice, mercy and compassion in and through the Catholic Church.
We extend an invitation to all who share our concern to duplicate this letter, sign it, and send it to their pastor, local bishop, National Bishops' Conference or the Vatican.
Rev. David Baldwin, St. Benedict the African-East, Chicago,
Rev. Daniel Cassidy, St. Mark, Chicago, IL
Rev. Dennis Condon, St. Marcelline, Schaumburg, IL
Rev. Lloyd Cunningham, S.V.D., Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL
Rev. Nicholas Desmond, St. Aloysius, Chicago, IL
Rev. Brian Fischer, St. Gregory the Great, Chicago, IL
Rev. Donald Headley, St. Mary of the Woods, Chicago, IL
Rev. Robert P. Heinz, St. Alphonsus Liguori, Prospect Heights, IL
Rev. Michael Herman, St. Sylvester, Chicago, IL
Rev. Thomas Hickey, St. Clement, Chicago, IL
Rev. John Hoffman, St. Teresa of Avila, Chicago, IL
Rev. Richard Homa, Sacred Heart, Palos Hills, IL
Rev. Terry Johnson, St. Francis Xavier, LaGrange, IL
Rev. Patrick Lee, Immaculate Conception, Chicago, IL
Rev. Robert McLaughlin, Mary Seat of Wisdom, Park Ridge, IL
Rev. Dennis O'Neill, St. Martha, Morton Grove, IL
Rev. Thomas Pelton, Maternity BVM, Chicago, IL
Rev. Richard Prendergast, St. Mary of Celle, Berwyn, IL
Rev. Michael Shanahan, St. Mark, Chicago, IL
Rev. William J. Stenzel, St. Francis Xavier, LaGrange, IL
Rev. Patrick Tucker, St. Bernardine, Forest Park, IL
Rev. Daniel Whiteside, St. Catherine of Siena/St. Lucy, Oak Park, IL
Rev. Bart Winters, St. Gregory the Great, Chicago, IL
with no endorsement of the views expressed therein
AUSTRALIA: In defending the traditional Catholic opposition to lesbianism (women in same-gender love affairs), Cardinal George Pell has blundered (news report 12/1). 
He quoted the well-loved story of the "Woman Taken in Adultery" whom a Judean group wanted to execute, which includes "Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone," "Neither do I condemn you," and "Go and sin no more", supposedly in John's gospel 8:1-11, but the story is one of several bible forgeries.
This has been known for hundreds of years. Knox's 1945 Catholic translation warned of it (NT page 96), and the Good News Bible 1966 translators noted that this incident does not appear in several good Greek manuscripts and early translations, and in others it can appear at any of three locations in John, and even in a different gospel (after Luke 21:38) (1976 ed., page 129). Multiplicity of locations is an almost certain sign of an "addition". 
Once the forgery is known, a little reflection about how Jesus supposedly saved the woman from execution, leads to asking how the same gospel at 18:31, in relating Jesus' trial before Pontius Pilate, could contain these words: "Pilate said therefore to them Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law. The Jews said to him It is not lawful for us to execute anyone ." 
To oppose lesbianism, Christian leaders perhaps could quote Romans 1:26 or 27 " … their women changed the natural use into the one beside nature …" Then, if we decide what behaviour is "sin," there is a "go and sin no more" line to use at John 5:14.
Cardinal Pell ought to concentrate more on eradicating the causes of child abuse among his own sex-starved clergy, one of whom, during the trial of Father John Barry Gwillim, 71, of Coburg, Victoria, said in December  it was an "occupational hazard."  He received a suspended sentence of two years and eight months on nine charges. 
In January it was revealed that a Queensland priest, Michael Joseph McArdle, wrote in an affidavit that he went to confession to other priests countless times, telling them he was a child abuser, but was told to go home and pray. Fr McArdle says he was twice summoned by different Catholic bishops but was simply moved to another parish after allegations arose. 
McArdle is serving a six year prison term on more than 60 child abuse charges. 
Surely a genuine Christian child protection policy would have seen Fr McArdle counselled to surrender himself to the police, and to leave the "celibate" priesthood, before the harm he did warranted a long prison sentence.
(1.) The West Australian, "Lesbian cousin defies Cardinal," The Age, page 1, Mon Jan 12, 2004
(2.) John 8:1-11 and 7:53: See also The New Jerusalem Bible, RC version, Notes ©1990, footnote page 1254
(3.) John 18:31: "anyone": The Douay and King James translators used "any man" instead of "anyone," presumably to quell students' dissent about this contradiction -- the "woman" was not a "man," you see, if you argue like a theologian -- but they can't fool anyone who studies a good concordance giving the meanings of the original Greek words.
(4.) John 18:31: See New Jerusalem Bible, 1990 ed., p 1268, and, Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, 1969, International Bible Students, Brooklyn, New York, p 517.
(5.) Herald Sun, Melbourne, "Catholic priest blames celibacy for assault," www.heraldsun. news.com.au/ common/story_ page/0,5478, 8105583%255 E662,00.html , Dec 9, 2003
(6.) Catholic News, "Melbourne priest freed on sex assault charges," www.cathnews.com/news/312/92.php , and, Herald Sun, "No jail time for priest, 71," www.heraldsun. news.com.au/ common/story_ page/0,5478, 8174343% 255E2862,00.html , by Philip Cullen, Dec 16 2003
(7.) The Sunday Mail, Australia, "Go home and pray," by Chris Taylor, Jan 11, 2004, www.thesundaymail. news.com.au/ common/story_ page/0,5936, 8365148% 255E902,00.html , A priest who confessed his child abuse every week or fortnight for years was just told to go home and pray, it has now been revealed.
(8.) Australian Broadcasting Corportion (ABC), "Bishop involved in abuse mediation," www.abc.net. au/westqld/ news/200312/ s10134 51.htm, Friday, December 19 2003.
-- issued by Faith Purification Programme, Australia, Jan 12, 2004.
22. The Winter Commission, p. 1
23. Ibid, p. 13
24. Ibid, p. 2
Frees the people from allegiance, and excommunicates those who obey her
Papal Bull Regnans in excelsis, by Pope Saint Pius V, February 25, 1570.
Pius the Bishop, servant of the servants of God, for a perpetual memorial of the matter.
He who reigns on high, to Whom is given all power in Heaven and on earth, has entrusted His holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside which there is no salvation, to one person alone on earth, namely to Peter the Prince of the Apostles, and to Peter's successor, the Roman Pontiff, to be governed (by him) with plenitude of power. Him alone He appointed Prince over all nations and kingdoms, to root up, pull down, waste, destroy, plant and build, so that he might preserve his faithful people linked together by the bond of mutual charity in the unity of the Spirit, and might present them, saved and blameless, to their Saviour.
In the fulfilment of this office, we, called by the goodness of God to the government of the aforesaid Church, spare no labour, striving with all zeal to preserve intact that unity and Catholic religion which its Author has allowed to be disturbed with such great tribulations for the proving of His people's faith and for our correction. But the number of the ungodly has grown so strong in power, that no place is left in the world which they have not tried to corrupt with their abominable doctrines; among others assisting in this work is the servant of vice, Elizabeth, pretended Queen of England, with whom, as in a place of sanctuary, the most nefarious wretches have found refuge. This same woman, having acquired the kingdom and outrageously usurped for herself the place of Supreme Head of the Church in all England and its chief authority and jurisdiction, has again plunged that same kingdom back in to wretchedly unhappy condition, after it had so recently been reclaimed for the Catholic Faith and prosperity.
For having by force prohibited the practice of the true religion (which had been formerly overthrown by Henry VIII, an apostate from it, and restored by Mary, the legitimate queen of famous memory, with the help of this See) and following and embracing the errors of heretics, she has altered the composition of the royal Council representing the nobility of England and has filled it with obscure heretical men; she has suppressed the followers of the Catholic Faith, appointed shameful preachers and ministers of impieties, and abolished the Sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, fastings, choice of meats, celibacy and Catholic ceremonies; and she has commanded that books containing manifest heresy should be distributed throughout the whole kingdom and that impious rites and institutions (accepted and observed by herself according to Calvin's precept) should be observed by her subjects also. She has dared to eject bishops, rectors of churches and other Catholic priests from their churches and benefices and to bestow these and other ecclesiastical things upon heretics and she has also presumed to decide legal cases within the Church. She has forbidden the prelates, clergy and people to acknowledge the Roman Church or to obey its orders and its canonical sanctions. She has forced most of them to assent to her wishes and laws, to abjure the authority and obedience of the Roman Pontiff and to recognize her by oath as sole mistress in temporal and spiritual affairs; she has imposed pains and penalties on those who would not obey her commands and has exacted them from those who persevered in the unity of faith and the aforesaid obedience; she has cast Catholic bishops and rectors of churches into prison, where many of them, worn out with long weariness and sorrow, have miserably ended their span of life. All these things are clear and notorious to all nations and proved by the most weighty testimony of so many that there is no room whatever for excuse, defence or evasion.
We have seen that the impieties and crimes have been multiplied, one upon the other, and that also the persecution of the faithful and the affliction of religion through the pressure and action of the said Elizabeth grow greater every day, and since we understand her spirit to be hardened and obstinate -- so that she has not only set at naught the pious prayers and warnings of Catholic princes concerning her soundness of mind and conversion, but she has not even allowed the Nuncios of this See to cross into England for this purpose -- we are necessarily compelled to take up against her the weapons of justice, although we can not disguise our sorrow that we are thus forced to proceed against one whose ancestors have deserved so well of the Commonwealth of Christendom. But being strengthened by the authority of Him, Who willed to place us on the supreme throne of justice though unequal to so great a burden, out of the plenitude of our Apostolic power we declare the aforesaid Elizabeth to be heretic and an abetter of heretics, and we declare her, together with her supporters in the abovesaid matters, to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the Body of Christ.
Furthermore we declare her to be deprived of her pretended claim to the aforesaid kingdom and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever.
Also we declare that the lords, subjects and peoples of the said kingdom, and all others who have sworn allegiance to her in any way, are perpetually absolved from any oath of this kind and from any type of duty in relation to lordship, fidelity and obedience; consequently we absolve them by the authority of our present statements, and we deprive the same Elizabeth of her pretended claim to the kingdom and of all other claims mentioned previously. And we command and forbid all and sundry among the lords, subjects, people and others aforesaid that they have not to obey her or her admonitions, orders or laws. We shall bind those who do the contrary with a similar sentence of excommunication.
Because it would be too difficult for the present words to be conveyed to those who need them, we desire that copies of them bearing the signature of a public notary and the sign of a prelate of the Church or his office, should have the same authentic strength before justice and extrajudicially and produce everywhere the same effect as this present document would produce, if submitted and shown.
Given at Rome at St. Peter's, in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 1570, on the fifth day (before the) Kalends of March, in the fifth year of our Pontificate.
This is a commentary on Church spokespeople quoting the supposed episode of the Adulterous Woman, who was saved from execution, so the disputed story goes, by Jesus saying "let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone." (John's Gospel 8:7). July 18, 2004
Repeatedly forgiving people for serious sins is one of the unsolved contradictions in the Christian Greek Scriptures (the New Testament). The well-known verse saying forgive "seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:22), plus the parable of the lost sheep, and the "forgive us our trespasses" part of the Lord's Prayer, have a forgiving intent. But doubt is raised because of the suspected forgeries among other pro-forgiveness texts. In addition, four contradicting texts are: Matthew 12:32, Luke 9:62, Hebrews 6:4-6, 1 John 5 :16, 18. Visit: http://www. multiline.com. au/~johnm/ ethics/ non marital. htm#impossible
"One baptism for the forgiveness of sins" (The Nicene Creed). "In the first four or five centuries it was common to defer Baptism until death was believed to be imminent, because of the responsibilities attached to it, …" -- Elizabeth A. LIVINGSTONE (ed.), 1977, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, page 47. Baptism was the only way the earliest Christians knew of getting sins forgiven, so putting baptism off was a sensible precaution, in case they could not keep free of serious sin, and Jesus took longer to come back than everyone hoped.
Introduced: Penance ceremony and restrictions: But people didn't stay sinless after baptism. "By the 3rd century a developed system of public Penance had emerged. After the sinner had asked the Bishop for Penance, he was enrolled in the order of penitents, excluded from Communion, and committed to a course of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; … Penance could then be undergone only once in a lifetime and involved life-long continence. ["continence" in this context means no sex.] … Absolution … was at first withheld until the completion of the Penance …" -- Livingstone 1977, article "Penance" p 390 b, and see Constantine the Great, Penitents, Montanism, Novatianism, Rigorism, Tatian, and Tertullian.
"Life-long continence" helped to create pressure for less severity. Penance in the West developed over the centuries into regular private Confession, a firm resolution to sin no more, plus a promise of making restitution, accompanied by an on-the-spot absolution restoring the penitent to immediate full communion with the rest of the believers, and "the penance" or punishment being reduced to a few prayers (usually) or other good works.
New doctrines including Indulgences led to breakaways. Someone devised the doctrine of the huge "Treasury of the Church" from the sufferings and good works of Jesus and the saints, and the supposed power of the Roman Church to grant "Indulgences" (? 11th century) from the temporal punishment due to sin, and thus to explain the changes from the early Church's severe attitude and punishments. Some heroes objected to Indulgences and similar innovations, and groups of believers avoided and condemned such practices, even though in several places the critics were persecuted. The Orthodox Churches' teachings continued along the more traditional lines during the centuries Rome was separating from them, and since. Among those who exposed the man-made Indulgence systems in the West were Wycliffe (1330-84) and Huss (1369-1415). The Roman system was put off balance when it had two or more Popes at a time (1378-1417), then there were the scriptural revelations of Erasmus (1469-1536), Luther (1483-1546) who opposed selling Indulgences to finance building St Peter's, Rome, the Lutheran Protestant Reformation from 1517, Zwingli (1484-1531), and Calvin (1509-64). (Did you know that the Bishop of Rome's real cathedral church was and is St John Lateran?). The indulgence-sellers got so greedy that some promised to remit next-life punishment IN ADVANCE of sinning. On the other hand, although "justification by faith" was a catchcry, balanced Reformers believed that good works followed faith (see James 2:26).
Unapproved aberrations. The RCC, on paper, does NOT approve of misuses of Penance / Confession / Reconciliation, such as:
AUSTRALIA: A paedophile priest went to confession more than 1500 times to admit sexually abusing boys … but was told to go home and pray. Michael Joseph McArdle's weekly and fortnightly confessions were ignored by Catholic priests [to whom he confessed face to face], and complaints were hushed up by the church bishops. [In an affidavit, he said that each Confession was followed by an intense feeling of relief.] -- The Sunday Mail (Australia), "Go home and pray," www.thesunday mail.news.com.au/ common/story_page/ 0,5936,8365148%255E902,00.html , Jan 11 2004
CANADA: Regarding sex abuse of them as boys, "Both men said that during the years of abuse, Harper would hear their confession immediately after the alleged attacks." -- London Free Press (Canada), "London RC diocese facing new lawsuits," www.canoe. ca/News Stand/ LondonFree Press/ News/ 2004/ 07/16/544513.html , July 16, 2004.
In the USA since 2002, under intense public criticism for hiding and transferring its serial child sex abusers, the RCC began defying the Vatican policy of keeping clergy's crimes secret. However, some bishops and religious orders such as the Salesians, e.g., in the USA and Australia, are still following the traditional policy of transferring sex-offending priests to other places, including overseas.
The Vatican's secrecy policy about sex sin in connection with Confession ceremony, and with animals
UNITED STATES: Telegram & Gazette, "Vatican document instructed secrecy in abuse cases," www.telegram.com/ apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20030729/NEWS/307290469/ 1025/ NEWS LET TERS 08 , by Kathleen A. Shaw, July 29, 2003. Dated March 16th, 1962, the document is Crimen Sollicitationis i.e., The Crime of Solicitation. Links plus extracts in English are at http://www. multiline. com.au/ johnm/ethics/ crimineextracts.htm
ROME: On August 7, 2003, Archbishop Julian Herranz, president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, said that it had been superseded by the 1983 Code of Canon Law and new 2001 norms. He told reporters on Aug. 7, "When a matter is re-ordered, the previous procedures are suspended." -- Catholic News Service, www. catholicnews. com/data/stories/ cns/20030807.htm , August 7, 2003. (This CNS newsitem disappeared off the Internet some time around July-August 2004.)
IRELAND: An Irish newspaper The Strabane Chronicle, "Old Vatican document like nuclear weapon," http:// strabane chronicle. com/news7.htm , by Jacqueline Courtney, August 27 2003, states that Crimen Sollicitationis was confirmed in an Epistula or Letter on the Vatican website.
VATICAN: Epistula Graviora Delicta, www.vatican.va/ roman_curia/ congregations/ cfaith/ docu ments/ rc_con_ cfaith_ doc_ 20010518_ epistula_ graviora%20 delicta_lt.html , of May 18, 2001, which cites Crimen Sollicitationis, was found on the Vatican website on August 31, 2003 (in Australia, by Faith Purification Programme).
ROME: On February 7, 2002, officers from the Canon Law Society of America met with officials at the Roman Curia to discuss specifically the issue of child abuse and the procedures in handling child abuse, particularly and explicitly the 1962 Document. . . . Our discussion at the Congregation focused on identification of certain aspects of procedures for clergy sexual misconduct, particularly the 1962 instruction "Crimen Sollicitationis" and the more recent instruction "Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela." -- CLSA December 2002 Newsletter, Canon Law Society of America, www. clsa. org/ news/ dec02/ dec02. htm , December 2002
RECONSIDER STRICTNESS OF THE EARLY CHURCH: WHY did the early congregations use Baptism as their repentance procedure, and later on had severe penances and exclusions of penitents for serious sin? You see, it seemed AT THE TIME to be a reasonable teaching, given that the early apostles and preachers felt an urgency and intensity because of their belief that Jesus taught that
JESUS WAS COMING BACK IN THE LIFETIME OF SOME OF THEIR HEARERS. Anyone who doubts this is invited to read:-
Matthew 16:28. Amen I say to you, there are some of them that stand here that shall not taste death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Douay Version, RC NT translation of 1582)
Luke 9:27. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. (Authorised Version = King James Bible, 1611)
Luke 21:27, 32. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. … 32 In truth I tell you, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place. -- New Jerusalem Bible ©1985, p 1236 a and b. (Discovered by Keith J.J.M. 17 Jul 2004.)
John 1:51. [Jesus said:] I am telling you the truth : you will see heaven open and God's angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man. (Good News Bible 1966)
John 5:25. Most truly I say to YOU, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who have given heed will live. (New World Translation, ©1984) (also found by Keith J.J.M, 02 Aug 04.)
The Acts 17:30-31. True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent. 31 Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, … (The Kingdom Interlinear Translation, 1969) (Thank you, Keith J.J.M., 08 Nov 04.)
Revelation (Apocalypse) 22:10. … the appointed time is near. … 12 Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to render to each one as his work is. … 20 He that bears witness of these things says, 'Yes; I am coming quickly.' Amen! Come, Lord Jesus. (KIT, pp 1144-46)
CONFUSINGLY, besides the repeated forgiveness quotes earlier, here are two texts that go close to equating confessing sins and praying for healing, with wiping the slate clean:-
James 5:16: So confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another to be cured; the heartfelt prayer of someone upright works very powerfully. (NJB ©1985)
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NWT ©1984)
Ceremonial system, severity, surprise current churchgoers. August 9, 2004, additions to 2006
In the early Church, baptism was normally by immersion, with a bishop officiating. From the 2nd to the 4th centuries it was generally only conferred at Easter and Pentecost. Infant baptism was not unknown, but was not common. (Elizabeth A. LIVINGSTONE (ed.), 1977, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, page 47)
Infant baptism not common from the 2nd to 4th centuries? Well, we will try to go back even earlier. Possibly some early Christians believed that Baptism was absolutely essential for salvation, and wrote: "Unless a man be born again of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5, Authorised Version = King James Bible). Alongside this sort of thinking, some believers didn't like the idea of being in heaven without their unbaptised ancestors or babies, so they started the practice of being baptised for the dead:- "Otherwise, what are people up to who have themselves baptised on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, what is the point of being baptised on their behalf?" (1 Corinthians 15:29, New Jerusalem Bible 1985)
For some reason, various opinion-makers in various Christian congregations didn't and don't like the teaching of being baptised for the dead. (Two 20th century references said it was done only by heretics. Strange that Paul didn't brand it as such!) In modern times it is practised by the Latter Day Saints (Mormons). As you have worked out by now, in the early centuries the doctrine of "Original Sin" had not been fully formulated, and various people were arguing about what to believe.
Some quoted these words supposedly written in the apostolic age: "He who believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16, Authorised Version) Some said that because babies cannot "believe," they did not need to be baptised, and in God's mercy would not be damned. On the other hand, Origen [c. 185-254] (who was quite a rebel) refers to infant baptism as an established custom. (Livingstone, p 260 a)
Babies tiling hell: St Augustine [354-430, of Hippo, North Africa] wrote that the floor of hell was tessellated with the bodies of unbaptised infants. St Fulgentius [468-533, or c. 462-527, of Ruspe, North Africa] wrote: " … little children … die without the holy sacrament of baptism … punished … everlasting punishment of fire." (Nicholas CARTER, 1985, The late great book, the Bible, page 55, Truth Missions, PO Box 3849, Manhattan Beach) Such teaching was not joyfully accepted by parents and others! It defied other New Testament teachings that Jesus had come that all people be saved, such as Ephesians 2:5, and the disputed 1 Timothy 2:4. Of course, leaders could insist on baptism but that did not stop some babies dying before baptism.
Babies saved, Limbo invented: So, another Romanist somersault lifted all the unbaptised babies from the floor of hell, and gently laid them in the cool repose of the invented "Limbo." Polite RCC society didn't ever again talk about St Augustine's burning the babies in hell, nor about the biblical "baptism for the dead" to send the babies to heaven!
Babies to go upstairs now? In 2005 it was announced that a Vatican group of theologians proposed that Limbo was not a doctrine, only a "theory." -- The Record (W. Australia), "Limbo only ever a theory: Theologians," December 8, 2005. The gospel says their angels see the Father's face in heaven, but Rome states it doesn't really know where the babies' souls are!
Adult position reversal contrast: "In the 4th cent. Baptism was sometimes deferred because of the prevalent belief in the impossibility or great difficulty of the remission of post-baptismal sin …" (Livingstone p 209 a). By contrast, the current mainstream teaching is that you can be forgiven repeatedly, without limit, if you are truly sorry, make restitution, do penance, and resolve to amend your life.
Are 1500 Confessions with no amendment of life a record? Australian RC priest Michael Joseph McArdle made about 1500 Confessions, face to face to other priests, saying he was sexually abusing children -- The Sunday Mail (Australia), "Go home and pray," Jan 11, 2004.
Indulgences: Returning to earlier centuries, Indulgences seem to have been systematised in the Roman Church around the 11th century, to take away some or all of the suffering in Purgatory, the imaginary place where souls were punished for sins.
Purgatory was invented by Rome (defined at Lyons 1274 and Florence 1439). This doctrine partly arose because the old years-long punishments for serious sin had become very inconvenient. You see, straight after its invention, Penance (auricular confession) could only be received once. Severe penalty systems persisted into the Middle Ages. In a later change, Penance became repeatable.
Indulgences began to be sold, and this led to protests that such sales were sins of simony. Other doctrines also were unravelled by "heroe-tics" such as John Wycliffe (~ 1380), John Huss (~ 1409), Martin Luther 1517, Ulrich Zwingli 1522, and John Calvin 1536.
Adult baptism revived: After the Lutheran movement started, in 1521 Thomas Münzer and the Zwickau Prophets came to Wittenberg and re-established believers' baptism. The spreading Anabaptist groups were criticised by Luther, Zwingli and Calvin. They were persecuted by Protestants, Catholics, and Anglicans. John Smyth from 1609 is considered to be the founder of the modern Baptist movement.
Three ceremonies at once for baptism candidates of Eastern Churches: Meanwhile, and to this day in the East (i.e., Greek-culture and/or Orthodox Churches) infant baptism by immersion is followed at once by the administration of chrism and Holy Communion (refer Livingstone, p 260 a). Orthodox children as they get bigger receive the Holy Bread with their parents.
Original sequence recited: But, note that Roman Catholic children in the 1800s and 1900s used to recite what their Church called the seven sacraments in this order: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Order/s, and Matrimony. Refer also to the order of chapters in theology books, such as Catholic Catechism, Book Two, 1966 (orig. 1963), Australian RC Hierarchy, E.J.Dwyer, Sydney, Contents, pages (ix-x); and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1995 Pocket Edition, Society of St Paul, Homebush, pages (vii-viii).
This traditional RC order (which puts the first three ceremonies in the Oriental order) does not PROVE the sequence of the first ceremonies in early Christianity, but, when laid alongside the Orthodox Church practices, it is an argument for ancient origins.
The RCC baptises by pouring water. For a long time the RCC had deferred Holy Communion until the age of 10 or 11, but around the 20th century the method was: Babies Baptism; Age 7 or so Penance (Confession) and Eucharist (Communion); and then age 11 or so Confirmation. However, Penance/Confession had been put aside by most of the Reformed Churches.
Because the writings of "heretics" of the first eight centuries went mysteriously missing from the Vatican Library, we now lack some of the evidence of what the supposedly "correct" doctrines were in the early days.
Repeated forgiveness? The information unearthed for the article "Is repeated forgiveness the way that Jesus taught?" (July 2004) surprised and disappointed the author. History exposes as doubtful the standard teachings of some mainstream Churches that Baptism and other holy ceremonies (some of which in some Churches are called sacraments) have come down to us substantially from Jesus and the Apostles.
The article gave evidence from scripture that the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was coming back in their lifetime, so there was real urgency about joining, and keeping out of sin. The Vatican's policy, Crimen Sollicitationis, of keeping secret the cases of priests misusing Penance to solicit unlawful sexual pleasure, was also covered in that article.
This present article has given evidence for the thesis that before the present various Christian Churches' dogmas settled into their paths, varying forgiveness doctrines in the East and the West were called into play and/or invented -- and as with many other matters, scriptural doctrine and the traditions were set aside!
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