A welcome blast of fresh air descended on the corridors of the Vatican with the ascent of Pope Francis to the Papacy. Shortly after his installation as the head of over one billion Catholics around the world, Pope Francis turned away from the pomp and pageantry that has characterized the Papacy from almost the beginning of the Church’s establishment.
One of the most striking pronouncements of the new Pope is that, a “Catholic God” does not exist.
Although this must have come as a shock to conservative Catholics who believe that their religion is the only true one, the Pope’s statement is true! God has no religion! He is neither Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew or Buddhist. When we die, I don’t think God will ask us what religion we belonged to on Earth before being allowed entry into heaven.
Invented by humans
Religion was not created by God, it was invented by humans trying to make sense out of the mysteries of life.
Catholics may not yet have recovered from that shocking statement of the Pope when Vatican official Fr. Renzo Lavatori said: “Angels have no wings.” This is contrary to the common belief about these invisible messengers of God as depicted in all Catholic books and teaching materials.
His statement must have sent another shock wave of disbelief among many Church followers.
Of course, this is nothing strange to New Age people who never believed in a Catholic nor a non-Catholic God, nor in angels with wings. God could not have a religion; otherwise he would not be a God of all mankind.
Angels need no wings to fly because they could levitate or float on air with ease. What people mistook for wings are the big and colorful aura that surrounds angels and other holy people, regardless of religion.
Since the Vatican has chosen to correct or clarify certain traditional religious beliefs which have long been accepted as fact by Christians, maybe it should now also explain certain religious teachings and beliefs which have not been adequately explained by the clergy to its members.
The following are only a few questions that have puzzled me, which must have also puzzled other people who bother to think about certain teachings of the Catholic Church:
1. Have you ever wondered what is really that fruit that Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat in the Garden of Eden? Obviously, it was not a fruit as we know it because it was clearly described in the Bible as the “fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
I have been trying to find out for many years what this “fruit” was, but no priest could satisfactorily explain it to me. And why did Adam and Eve feel themselves naked after eating the fruit? If that fruit was merely symbolic, how could they eat a symbol?
The Lord’s Prayer
2. Is the Lord’s Prayer, or the “Our Father,” really all about asking God to give us food to eat and forgive our enemies? Or, as the psychic Edgar Cayce said, the “Our Father” is really “a formula given by Christ to open up our psychic or spiritual centers of energy.” Which explanation is more believable?
3. Why are there two versions about the creation of man in Genesis? In the first part of Genesis, it says: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them: male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27).” But in Chapter 2, verses 7-23, of Genesis, it says God first made Adam out of the dust and then created Eve afterwards to be his companion. Why this glaring inconsistency?
4. How can one Supreme God have three separate and distinct persons? Is there really only one God or three? Doesn’t this teaching stretch our rational, logical mind to the brink of irrationality?
Fire in hell
5. The other question I could not understand and for which I could find no rational explanation concerns the concept of hell. It is taught that the soul of evil or sinful humans suffer the fires of hell. How can a spirit be harmed by fire?
Some priests explained to me that the fire in hell is not literal but the punishment really consists of deprivation from being with God. Then why didn’t the Bible say so?
And why do priests still preach about the pains of fire in hell? If these do not confuse you, then maybe you are not thinking deep enough.
A friend of mine, a former movie actress turned healer and holistic health advocate, explained it to me this way: “Hitler,” she said, “will go to that part of hell which is more hot (sic) than yours.”
Here’s another question I have about hell: According to Catholic teaching, if a person commits a mortal sin, he goes to hell. Hitler caused the death of six million Jews, therefore he goes to hell. Suppose I kill one person, therefore I go to hell, too.
Where is God’s justice here? I might as well have killed 10 million people because anyway, I will have the same punishment as Hitler’s.
6. An Easter traditional practice I could not understand is the celebration of the meeting between the Blessed Mother and Jesus Christ after his Resurrection. There is no biblical basis for this. From what I remember, Jesus Christ first appeared to his beloved Mary Magdalene after he rose from the dead, not to the Blessed Mother nor to the disciples who were somewhere in the area, too.
Why did the Church not acknowledge Mary Magdalene? According to the Gnostic Gospels found in 1945 in Nag Hammadi, Upper Egypt, after the Resurrection, Jesus revealed to Mary Magdalene certain secret spiritual knowledge that were not given to the other apostles. It was Magdalene who later told them about those secrets. Why to Mary Magdalene?
The Catholic Church from the beginning has not encouraged its members to question its teachings. On the contrary, it has imposed blind and unquestioning obedience to its pronouncements and teachings.
I long to see the day when, at the end of the Catholic mass, there would be an open forum or question-and-answer session, so that parishioners can question the officiating priest who seems to merely parrot God’s teachings without a deep understanding of them.
Is the Church afraid that if this were done, it might expose the priest’s ignorance of the Bible and its own religious teachings? Just wondering.
Saying these are mysteries do not really explain these seemingly incredible teachings. That’s probably why the great Catholic historian, Tertullian, was said to have exclaimed: “I believe it, because it is absurd.”
Attend the next Self Healing Through Visualization seminar on Jan. 11, 9 a.m.-12 noon. Seminar fee is P800. Venue is Rm. 308, Prince Plaza 1, Legaspi St., Greenbelt, Makati; tel. 8107245, 0908-3537885. E-mail [email protected]