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Answering Protestants
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Matthew Olson's take on responding to Protestant questions with Catholic answers.
Matthew Olson's take on responding to Protestant questions with Catholic answers.

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"Data compiled by the Levada Center in 2011 showed that only 2.0 percent of self-described Orthodox were active members of a church (compared to 34.5 percent in the United States), 4.1 percent were inactive members, and 93.2 percent were not in any sense a member. Nor did these Orthodox believers attend service: only 4.9 percent attended at least once a week, 59.8 percent attended occasionally (once a month or rarely), and 35.9 percent of the Orthodox had never been to service. Those figures were far below the attendance rates in some less religious countries, such as Germany. In-depth case studies confirm the poll data; a study of parishes in Vladimir, for example, showed that parish life was virtually nonexistent, that a mere 0.5 percent of the inhabitants attend services on a typical Sunday. Recent surveys by the Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) report that in 2014, despite the high level of self-described Orthodox, only 3 percent strictly observed Lenten fast and 75 percent made no adjustments whatsoever to their diet."
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"Some Orthodox Fathers are known for the direct influence Catholic spirituality exercised upon them. St Dimitri of Rostov was under this influence for his entire life: his homilies as well as other works, including the Reading Compendium of [Saints'] lives, based primarily on Latin sources, have a distinctly 'Westernizing' character; St Dimitri's library held books by Bonaventure, Thomas a Kempis, Peter Canisius and other Catholic authors, and in his spirituality such elements as the devotion of the passions of Christ, the five wounds of Christ and the heart of Christ may be traced. The influence of Catholic spirituality on St Tikhon of Zadonsk can equally be sensed. ... What is today quite conventionally named 'Palamism' has been studied very little in Russia (until the late 19th century, Hesychasm was considered a heresy in Russia, and Palamas its main champion)."
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"...if the word used by St. John to describe the commission of Christ to St. Peter 'Feed my Lambs' uses ποιμαίνω to translate 'Feed', and if ποιμαίνω elsewhere by the same author means 'rule', and if in other places ποιμαίνω is used to describe the function of a Bishop, then we have good solid ground to believe, with St. Gregory, that this commission to Peter was one of commissioning a Pastorate, and that, over the whole flock (i.e. the universal church)."
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"Bernard writes that all the bishops opposed the annates bill in the beginning. Annates were payments to Rome by newly appointed bishops in return for their bulls of confirmation that amounted to one year's income. Henry sought to put pressure on the pope by depriving him of this income from the Church in England. That the bishops would unanimously oppose the king by defending financial payments they themselves paid is a remarkable act of defiance in favor of remaining united with Rome. The act to abolish these payments was eventually passed by Parliament in 1532. Yet it passed narrowly in the House of Lords on a third reading only after the king had appeared three times to argue in its defense."
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"No one can deny that the actual amount of testimony we have that there was such a person as Jesus Christ is much greater than that which we have that there was such a person as Julius Caesar, and that the testimony in favor of any one of His miracles is equal to that which we have in favor of any one of Caesar's battles. How happens it, then, that men may be found who believe the latter and not the former? The answer is in the nature of the facts asserted. Caesar and his acts, it is felt, lie in the order of nature and belong to the ordinary course of events; while Jesus Christ and His acts lie out of the ordinary course of things -- are extraordinary in their nature, and therefore demand extraordinary evidence to warrant us in believing them. But is this true? Can any man assign any reason why the evidence which would warrant us in believing that Caesar invaded Britain should not warrant us in believing that Our Lord fed five thousand persons with five loaves and two fishes?"

-- "The Proof of Miracles" by Henry F. Brownson ("The Ave Maria" Pamphlet, Notre Dame, Indiana, August 1898), p. 4-5
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"The claim to Apostolic & Petrine prerogative in the Roman See by divine right had been claimed by Pope St. Stephen I (254), which was before the Constantinian elevation of the Christian society; and Pope St. Julius I (340-343), Pope St. Damasus (366-384), Pope St. Siricius (384), and Pope St. Innocent I (401-417), all of whom reigned in the See of Peter when there was no particular reason for the West to fabricate reasons to bolster its superior authority over the East by way of the loss of secular prestige. What difference is there in the claims of Pope St. Leo the Great (450) and Pope St. Gelasius? And what difference was there from the claims of St. Leo with those of his predecessors? In fact, the Petrine prerogatives were explained by Damasus and Leo, and both of these Popes receive special attention from Emperors in the favor of the authority of the Holy See (Gratian & Valentinian III, respectively). So it would take much to argue that the Petrine claims originate with the absence of Imperial support."
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"The Communion for which I was commissioned to act expected me to be loyal to the faith only as not insisting on definite interpretations. Its articles must be treated as [susceptible] of various meaning, some of these contradictory. I [believed] in the literal Virgin Birth and literal resurrection. I taught both, and that they were of essential importance. Yet I might equally well, as at least two of my episcopal brethren did with equal formality, have taught that the two doctrines were not to be literally accepted, or especially to be insisted on. Church custom backed this attitude rather than the other. The Anglican system provides no good working safeguard of loyalty in witness, as none so keenly as a Bishop can feel. Among Anglican Bishops most are orthodox as concerns historic interpretation of the Christological portions of the Creed, a few heretical, a great number hazy and indifferent. All can express their views, or lack of them, and may do so with vehemence: the majority may repeatedly adopt asseverations of devotion to the ancient Faith: but so far as the Church system goes, official teachers must be left to jog alone, with no clear apprehension of dogmatic truth, no clear assertion of it, and nothing to clarify either apprehension or assertion. There is no ultimate authority to insist on loyalty to the faith once delivered."
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"The less instructed atheist will ask whether God can make a weight so heavy that He cannot lift it, in the happy belief that, whichever answer we give, we shall admit that there is something God cannot do. But the question is literally meaningless: a weight than an omnipotent Being cannot lift is as complete a contradiction in terms as a four-sided triangle. In either case the words are English, but do not mean anything because they cancel each other out. There is no point in piling together a lot of words, regardless of their meaning, and then asking triumphantly: 'Can God make that?' God can do anything, but a contradiction in terms is not a thing at all. It is nothing. God Himself could not make a four-sided triangle or a weight that Almighty power could not lift. They are inconceivable, they are nothing; and nothing -- to give a slightly different emphasis to Scripture -- is impossible to God."

-- Frank Sheed, "Theology and Sanity" (Sheed & Ward, 1947; reprinted by Aeterna Press, 2015)
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