Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. Why be Catholic?
  2. Why do Catholics pray to Mary and the saints?
  3. Why is the Pope so important to Catholics?
  4. What does Papal Infallibility mean?

1. Why be Catholic?

Granted, of course, the Catholic Church has had its scandals, as has every church, but these are the wounds in the body of Christ, put there by the sins of mankind. How wondrous, that despite these wounds, the Church has continued on, and has produced saints in every age.

So, why embrace Catholicism? Because it was founded by the Son of God, it has the Eucharist, and it is eminently biblical. Jesus of Nazareth is the only founder of a religion who was pre-announced by the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before his birth. The Catholic Church is being faithful to the Scriptures, Jesus' own words and teachings in the Gospel of John, in believing in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the sacrifice of the Mass.

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2. Why do Catholics pray to Mary and the saints?

Fundamentalists often challenge the Catholic practice of asking saints and angels to pray on our behalf. But the Bible directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us.

Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, John sees that 'the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints' (Rev. 5:8). Thus the saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.

Because Jesus is the only God-man and the Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus is the only mediator between man and God (1 Tim. 2:5), but this in no way means we cannot or should not ask our fellow Christians to pray with us and for us (1 Tim. 2:1-4). In particular, we should ask the intercession of those Christians in heaven, who have already had their sanctification completed, for '[t]he prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects' (Jas. 5:16).

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3. Why is the Pope so important to Catholics?

The Church Fathers recognized that Jesus made Peter the rock on which he would build his Church, that this gave Peter a special primacy, that Peter went to Rome, and that he left successors there.

In a wide variety of ways, the Fathers attest to the fact that the church of Rome was the central and most authoritative church. They attest to the Church's reliance on Rome for advice, for mediation of disputes, and for guidance on doctrinal issues. They note, as Ignatius of Antioch does, that Rome 'holds the presidency' among the other churches, and that, as Irenaeus explains, 'because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree' with Rome. They are also clear on the fact that it is communion with Rome and the bishop of Rome that causes one to be in communion with the Catholic Church. This displays a recognition that, as Cyprian of Carthage puts it, Rome is 'the principal church, in which sacerdotal unity has its source.

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4. What does Papal Infallibility mean?

The Catholic Church's teaching on papal infallibility is one which is generally misunderstood by those outside the Church. In particular, Fundamentalists and other 'Bible Christians' often confuse the charism of papal 'infallibility' with 'impeccability.' They imagine Catholics believe the pope cannot sin. Others, who avoid this elementary blunder, think the pope relies on some sort of amulet or magical incantation when an infallible definition is due. 

Given these common misapprehensions regarding the basic tenets of papal infallibility, it is necessary to explain exactly what infallibility is not. Infallibility is not the absence of sin. Nor is it a charism that belongs only to the pope. Indeed, infallibility also belongs to the body of bishops as a whole, when, in doctrinal unity with the pope, they solemnly teach a doctrine as true. We have this from Jesus himself, who promised the apostles and their successors the bishops, the magisterium of the Church: 'He who hears you hears me' (Luke 10:16), and 'Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven' (Matt. 18:18).

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