22 January, 2011

Oath of Fidelity: An answer for STG

Small Town Guy, a regular contributor here asked me to post a copy of the oath that a Roman Catholic priest must swear prior to his ordination. There are many false or previous (pre-Vatican II) versions of this oath which include commitments to fight Protestantism, modernism, etc. that are used to slander the Church in the eyes of some evangelical circles. I thought it appropriate to take the opportunity of his request to post the actual text itself. As always, your comments are welcome.



PROFESSION OF FAITH:
 
I, N., with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith: namely:
I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.
I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.
Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.

21 comments:

  1. Quite frankly, I'm appalled at those last two paragraphs, Tim. I suppose you're aware of their meaning, now; but did you know it then, I wonder? Youth is so very trusting. We don't gain our cynicism until we're much older, and have had the benefit of sad experience...

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  2. Lady Janus: It wasn't an issue for me as I was an 'older' vocation, entering the seminary after obtaining my first professional degree and working full time for six years as a social worker. I understood very well what I was committing myself to. I must say that the faculty at the seminary certainly spent a good deal of time dissecting and studying it with us before our ordinations. It amounts to little more than saying we will follow 'company policy'.

    Fr. Tim

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  3. Tim,

    Thanks for posting the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity. I will have a closer look at these things.

    I think the first part of the Confession appears to be from the Apostles Creed or similar creeds. That part ends at the "Amen".

    Much of RC teachings and practices are not included in the confession. Those who are not familiar with RC might not learn much about the RCC by reading the confession.

    The part: "Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.
    I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.
    Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act."

    These are statements are not found or supported by Holy Scripture. In fact they are opposed to Holy Scripture teaching because they exalt tradition and earthly institutions, the church, and hierarchy giving them authority which is not authorized by Scripture. But it is good you shared these documents so we know where you and the RCC are coming from.

    I will take another look at the Oath.

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  4. "With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish."

    The problem with this is what "the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers" have declared and established over 1650 years is rejected by Protestants who believe it is contrary to what the New Testament writers taught under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    Here is what Loraine Boettner lists as:
    Some Roman Catholic Heresies and Inventions

    1. Prayers for the dead, began about A.D. ...300A.D.

    2. Making the sign of the cross.........300 A.D.

    3. Wax candles, about ..................320 A.D.

    4. Veneration of angels and dead saints and use of images................375 A.D.

    5. The Mass, as a daily celebration......................394 A.D.

    6. Beginning of the exaltation of Mary, the term "Mother of God" first applied to her by the Council of Ephesus................431 A.D.

    7. Priests began to dress differently from laymen .................500 A.D.

    8. Extreme Unction................526 A.D.

    9. The doctrine of Purgatory, established by Gregory I..................593 A.D.

    10. Latin language, used in prayer and worship, imposed by Gregory I..............600 A.D.

    11. Prayers directed to Mary, dead saints and angels, about ...................600 A.D.

    12. Title of pope, or universal bishop, given to Boniface III by emperor Phocas.........607 A.D.

    This takes us back again to the principle of Sola Scriptura. Once the church cast that aside and decided that fallible men have direct revelation from God, they then added whatever dogmas and practices suited their fancy. True christianity then disappeared under a heap of false teachings.

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  5. 13. Kissing the pope's foot, began with pope Constantine...... 709 A.D.

    14. Temporal power of the popes, conferred by Pepin, king of the Franks ...........750A.D.

    15. Worship of the cross, images and relics, authorized in................786 A.D.

    16. Holy water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by a priest............850 A.D.

    17. Worship of St. Joseph...........890 A.D.

    18. Colleg of Cardinals established......927 A.D.

    19. Baptism of bells, instituted by pope John XIII................995 A.D.

    20. Canonization of dead saints, firt by pope John XV..............995 A.D.

    21. Fasting on Fridays and during Lent.....998 A.D.

    22. The Mass, developed gradually as a sacrifice, attendance made obligatory in the 11th century.................

    23. Celibacy of the priesthood, decreed by pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand)......1079 A.D.

    24. The Rosary, mechanical praying with beads, invented by Peter the Hermit.........1090 A.D.

    ---From "Roman Catholicism" by Loraine Boettner

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  6. STG: Please point out for me which of the list is a direct revelation from God. Every point of your list are simple development of devotion that slowly grew in popularity (sensus fidelium) throughout the Church, to the point that they were dated throughout the nascent years of the Church as you suggest. They were not imposed upon the believing community as a result of some personal revelation to a Pope. They are signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit working within the believing and living community - works that were eventually identified as being authentic and thus attained universal acceptance and practice. Every point is rooted primarily in scripture! We believe in the presence of God's spirit in this world and place our trust in His guidance through the years. Don't you believe the same thing?

    Fr. Tim

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  7. Tim,

    "STG: Please point out for me which of the list is a direct revelation from God. Every point of your list are simple development of devotion that slowly grew in popularity (sensus fidelium) throughout the Church,.."

    None of these practices or teachings are genuinely direct revelations from God; But does not the Roman Church claim the authority of God to decree these practices as orthodox christianity on the basis of "tradition"?

    The onus is on you to prove that these practices are authorized by God.

    Loraine Boettner is correct; they are the inventions and heresies of men.

    You said they grew out of devotion, which is probably true, and were at some point approved by the Church. Just because some false teaching is debated and practiced over a long period of time, does that mean it should be accepted as true? Can you see the error of accepting these practices as part of apostolic christianity?

    "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Mark 7:7

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  8. Tim,

    "We believe in the presence of God's spirit in this world and place our trust in His guidance through the years. Don't you believe the same thing?"

    Yes, we believe in the presence of God's Spirit in the world and place our trust in His Guidance.

    There is a huge difference between the illumination or teaching by the Holy Spirit of what is already in God's written revelation, the Bible and claiming new dogmas, revelations from God which are not supported by Scripture or are contrary to it.

    The above list of RC practices are additions which were added centuries after the apostolic age, centuries after the Bible was completed.
    It has been said a large part of these inventions are actually from pagan religions.

    One example is the exaltation and worship of Mary. Worshipping anyone but God is forbidden in the ten commandments and other places in the Bible. The Bible teaches Jesus is the only mediator between God and men so how can Mary act as a mediatrix? Mary does not have the powers of God such as the ability to hear prayers all over the world at any one time and how could she be a mediatrix? Where does it say one can even pray to Mary or the saints? The rosary is a repetition of prayers to Mary. Repetition of prayers is something done in pagan religions. Also, it is not prayer to God.

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  9. "It amounts to little more than saying we will follow 'company policy'."

    Seems to me to be a little more dire than simply following company policy -- it includes changing direction without question if that's also what the company decides. Was that part of the oath dissected and studied?

    I'll tell you why I ask: I joined the military at nineteen, and when it came time to take the oath of service, I balked at some of the wording and refused to continue until I understood its meaning correctly. The officer administering the oath got very impatient with my insistence on knowing what I was swearing to, and finally said, "Just take the bloody oath! It doesn't mean anything!" To which I replied that if it doesn't mean anything, then why bother?

    We ended up (he in a temper and me just a little cowed by his anger, but determined to know for sure what I was saying before I signed in blood -- mine) paraphrasing the oath so I understood it better (and I'm sorry, but I don't remember the wording, just that some of it raised a warning in my mind), and only then did I take the oath, satisfied that I wasn't committing myself to do what would be reprehensible to me on a personal level. Like, say, having martial law declared and being required to become a jailer or equivalent towards the citizens of my own country -- something I was assured with great solemnity would never happen. And so, I went into the military, satisfied that everything was as it should be. That was in September of 1970...

    Next thing I knew, martial law was being declared in the form of the War Measures Act. And you know how things went from there. I was suddenly in the position of being required to do the very thing I had been told I would NEVER be required to do. Because I trusted the word of someone that it "could never happen."

    That's why I tend to read things like oaths and commitments very carefully, looking for the traps in them. Because there are always traps in them. Always.

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  10. Lady Janus: Be assured... we took the oath apart line by line to ensure that we understood what we were undertaking. Being an older vocation, I had learned the importance of reading the fine print before I attached my signature to anything.

    Fr. Tim

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  11. Tim,

    Have you seen the shocking alleged oaths of the Knights of Columbus and the so-called Extreme Oath of the Jesuits which are on various internet webs sites? What do you think about them? Ever heard of such things?

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  12. STG: Yes, I read them online. Given the passions in the wake of the Reformation, I wouldn't be surprised if they were an ancient version of the fidelity oath. They are very different now (sorry, I don't have copies).

    Fr. Tim

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  13. Tim,

    "Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act."

    The wording in this oath commands complete surrender "of will and intellect". That doesn't leave much room for one's conscience or private judgment does it?

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  14. OK thanks Tim. I wonder if today's K of C oaths are secret or would they be available on the internet. Maybe Michael Brandon would know. I think he is a member (or was).

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  15. "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." Romans ch15 vs4

    The apostle Paul here reminds us of the importance of learning the Scriptures. What we learn from the Scriptures is what gives us comfort and hope. Far better to be taught by the Holy Spirit than man who is fallible and often wrong.

    "Now all these thiings happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." 1 Corinthians ch10 vs11

    The verses immediatley preceding this one show Paul was explicitly referring to the Old Testament at the time of Moses, but the lesson is the same. The Scriptures are written "for our admonition".

    "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say." 1 Corinthians ch10 vs14.

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  16. Wayne:

    Yes, I am a Knight of Columbus, as my father was. His father, being an Orangeman was definitely not. I was also a Columbian Squire as a youth.

    The Knights of Columbus are a Catholic Fraternal Organisation. There are four oaths taken, one at each degree, there being 4 degrees. They are founded on four principles, one of which, in the order below is the particular principle of the oath of that degree.

    Charity - Our Catholic faith teaches us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

    Unity – None of us is as good as all of us.

    Fraternity – The Venerable Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, in large part, to provide assistance to the widows and children left behind when the family breadwinner died – often prematurely.

    Patriotism – Members of the Knights of Columbus, be they Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, Cubans, Filipinos, Poles, or Dominicans, are patriotic citizens. We are proud of our devotion to God and country, and believe in standing up for both. Whether it’s in public or private, the Knights remind the world that Catholics support their nations and are amongst the greatest citizens.

    The oaths are a secret because the order believes that they will have a more profound impact on the pledging member through the ceremony and recitation at the particular time.

    Seems like pretty scary stuff doesn't it?

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  17. Michael,

    Thanks for that info. I found a website this morning which describes fairly well the same thing you say, just in greater detail. This may be a K of C website.
    http://www.stichtingargus.nl/vrijmetselarij/kofc_en.html

    It does make one mistake in associating Protestants with Masons. I don't think this is correct. I guess the writer is lumping everybody who is non-RC into the same pot. I believe Bible-believing christians do not approve of the Masons and consider it as a kind of cult.

    While this website does describe the K of C as a fraternal organization doing volunteer work for good causes, it also makes it clear they are very ardent supporters and workers for the Roman church system, which is to be expected. That probably partially explains your own strong devotion and defense of the RCC. Members probably do a lot to encourage each other in their devotion to the teachings of the RCC religion? Would you agree?

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  18. Lady Janus,

    "That's why I tend to read things like oaths and commitments very carefully, looking for the traps in them. Because there are always traps in them. Always."

    Sounds like a wise plan. Many people take oaths in various organizations, some secret (why they are secret should raise alarm bells). While these RC oaths, such as what Tim quoted above, sound relatively harmless on the surface, the devil may be in the details. The oath above commits one to blind obedience for things that one may have little idea of what he is getting into. It is a bit like writing a blank cheque with one's life.

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  19. "...(why they are secret should raise alarm bells)."

    Not necessarily. I think it would depend on the reason the oath is kept secret, don't you? If, for instance, it's like the KC oaths, in order to add emotional impact for the oath-taker when he realizes that he is, indeed, being finally admitted to the brotherhood, I see nothing inherently harmful or alarming in it. My own first oaths to one of my traditions were secret...something that very nearly backfired on the administrators, because they had not counted on my taking things quite as literally as I did (and, knowing me, they really ought to have foreseen that very thing!), much to everyone's amusement. And no, sorry, I cannot tell you what that oath was. But the ritual was lotsa funny!

    But the oaths taken in my present tradition are published online, for anyone to read, whether they wish to enter knighthood (or even take the training) or not. No surprises. The Order of Scathach was established with precisely that in mind -- nothing hidden or occult, and everything up for discussion during training.

    Oath-taking can be like writing a blank cheque with one's life, but if that's what one chooses to do, who else can argue? Tim has said that he had the opportunity to examine the oath and discuss it before he took it, and he understood it well enough to agree to it. And that settled all the alarums for me. It is, after all, a matter of choice. And informed choice, at that. Good enough.

    And, by th' way...the "trap" in the OS oaths is actually there, but it is different for each person.

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  20. Wayne:

    That site you referenced was not the K of C site. The real site is here:
    http://www.kofc.org/un/en/index.html

    The Knights of Columbus organisation world wide has fidelity to the Pope as the head of the RCC, as one should expect.

    From the top down, the leadership of the organisation is spirit filled and faithful to Christianity, and particularly committed to the pro-life cause, as all faithful Catholics are.

    From the bottom up, that is not as evident. It is very dependent on the particular Parish or town where the individual councils are located. This is not dissimilar to the parishes and locales themselves.

    The Catholic Church locally and the Knights of Columbus locally are both in need of committed men of God (women too in the parishes) to know their faith in their hearts, live it well, and be able to defend it properly with love and conviction.

    Part of why the Catholic Church is in fact turning the corner (though slowly) has been the return of Catholics who have been schooled elsewhere in the bible, or the new arrival of brothers and sisters who have been trained outside the Church to love the scriptures, and have found that for them the fullness of truth rests in the Catholic Church.

    This fresh approach to our faith is monumental in its value to the Church.

    The other thing that has influenced the spiritual growth of the Church has been the Charismatice Renewal, a renewal that was spawned by Pentecostal friends of those who were the initial leaders of this movement.

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