A Christian website
Jesus' life and words

Eight Short Essays

Eight Short Essays: Article 5


Article 5: Faithful or not?


On many points of morals, the Roman Catholic hierarchy seems to be very much at odds with most Canadian Catholics as the latter agree with the use of condoms and oral contraceptives as well as the «morning after» pill (even though it probably causes a very early abortion) and consider it is a woman's right to choose if she wants a medical abortion, in the very least during early pregnancy, and certainly if the woman has been raped or if her health is seriously at risk if she continues with her pregnancy.

Furthermore, again contrary to the position of the Church's hierarchy, most Catholics in Canada accept that gay couples wed in a Civil marriage, that consenting adult partners engage in any sexual act they so wish, that couples live together and have children out of wedlock and that couples divorce and remarry.

Basically, most of them not only agree with the former Canadian Justice Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's dictum «The State has no place in the bedrooms of the Nation» but would add that the Church's hierarchy has no place there either. They did and still do support the Roman Catholic Pierre Elliott Trudeau's refusal to have the Church's Magisterium dictate State policy on all matters of sexual behaviour. They also approved the fact that his stance was maintained and expanded by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, another Roman Catholic.

Most Catholics are tolerant of the sexual behaviours of others as well as of their decisions concerning abortion. They see it as a matter of equality that gays and lesbians be able to marry civilly just like them. They consider that behaviours that do no harm to other citizens1 should be private business while other behaviours should be legislated in a way that respects the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a Charter that was included in the Canadian Constitution by the Roman Catholic Pierre Elliott Trudeau during his tenure as Prime Minister of Canada.

Why is the Magisterium so far from the faithful on these subjects? Why does the hierarchy insist in interfering in people's practices whether they are Catholics or not? Why does it insist in telling people in minute details what behaviour is permissible and what is not when it comes to morals as well as Catholic ritual?


What is the proper rôle of the Magisterium? Why was it established? The rôle of the Magisterium is, as the word implies, to teach. But what? Is it not there to teach Jesus' message? Catholics know that their Church was founded by Jesus Himself and not by Peter or Paul. What the Church's Magisterium must proclaim in and out of season is what Jesus said and did: nothing more, but nothing less. This is why the Church has always put so much emphasis on the Gospels. This is why these texts are now proclaimed in the vernacular, so that they be more accessible to all.

What did Jesus say about living out of wedlock? Nothing. He told the Samaritan woman that this was her status, but neither did He ban her from His presence nor did He tell her off. Should not the hierarchy and the Magisterium do the same? Are they not to follow the example of our Lord and God?

What did Jesus say about homosexuality, fornication, masturbation? Nothing. The only «sexual» subjects He mentioned were divorce and adultery. Why? Because divorce was the way a husband could dispose of his wife as she was his chattel and adultery,2 because it is cheating on your spouse, coming back on your troth. For Him, in marriage, the two become one couple and no one of the two can change that unilaterally. Now I am not suggesting that Jesus condones fornication. It is just not a great impediment to the Kingdom.

Did Jesus ever refuse to be in the company of sinners? No. Did He ever refuse to eat with them? No. Did He refuse to give Himself to Judas at the last supper? No. Did He tell us to follow His example? Yes.

Why is the Magisterium's ways always at odds with Jesus? Why does it not understand that He came to show love and forgiveness, not to point fingers at people, make them feel like dirt, sinners who do not «belong» with God's people as long as they do not follow the Law's prescriptions? Jesus was hardly pleased with those of His contemporaries who were trying to force such regulations down others' throats!


The Magisterium and the hierarchy should remember that the Pope is the «successor of Peter», not of Jesus. Jesus as God is always right, but Peter? We have examples galore of his mistakes: he was even told off by Paul,3 an itinerant preacher and no bishop!

God's Church is an assembly of very fallible people and this is fine. God throughout history has worked quite effectively with «normal» people. After all, He does not need us to get the work done: He can do it all by Himself!

We must not forget the example of the very first Council, which took place in Jerusalem with Peter and Paul in attendance and which is related in quite some detail in the Acts of the Apostles.4 According to Luke, its decision, which started with the sentence «For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us» 5 necessary for a Counciliar proclamation, was (1) not to impose circumcision on the goyim who became Christians and (2) enforce on them the abstinence from food offered to idols, blood (and so eat kosher) and from sex with a prostitute (wrongly translated as «fornication»).6

Paul gives a rather different account of this Council in his letter to the Galatians7 where he «replaces» point (2) by alms to the poor! How come the accounts are so different? How is it that Luke and Paul only agree on the uselessness of circumcision?

Paul was right to «forget» the question of blood: this Counciliar decision was utter nonsense: Jesus told His disciples to drink His blood and so had abolished the kosher laws! So why in God's name would these Council members, including Peter the first Pope and all the important Church leaders (bishops), make such a gaffe? God must have had a good laugh, and decided this would be a good example to remind us how fallible and sometimes downright stupid the hierarchy and Magisterium can be! It was also a good example to show us that this mistake did not matter: sanity prevailed in the end.

But there is more: Paul's use of the terms «But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:)» and «James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars» are not at all flattering towards his Church's Magisterium and hierarchy! He, no bishop but an itinerant preacher, believed that he should not have had to report to them in the first place, that he knew what was to be done at least as well as they did!


History has played and still plays a big rôle in the Church, especially with the hierarchy and Magisterium. These see themselves as the «spiritual» equivalent of and equals to the «temporal» governments. Very often there has been a symbiotic relation between the «leaders» of both groups. At the time of the «divine rights of Kings» it was hardly surprising that there would be the «divine rights of Popes and bishops».

The divine rights of Kings have bitten the dust as democracies finally toppled aristocracies, thanks in no part at all to the Church's hierarchy. The divine rights of the Pope and bishops have also largely bitten the dust where democracies thrive. The «Faithful» have simply transferred their allegeance from the hierarchy to Jesus Himself. So they try to follow their conscience in the light of the Gospel rather than the rules put forward by the hierarchy.

While the hierarchy preaches that all humans have a conscience and that God is able to talk to every human through her conscience, it still insists that she should follow its rules and regulations rather than her own conscience, God's voice in her.

They act as if they do not believe that God is able to do His work without their indispensable intervention! Is that pride or what?

Humility is something that each human needs to learn every day of her life. Faith in God stems from that humility: it requires letting go of the ship's controls so that God can take charge and bring us where He wants us to go. Faith means trusting God's infinite love for us and our fellow humans. It means following Him, crucifying our ambitions, our need of control, to our Father in Heaven, who will work as He pleases through us if we just let Him. Glory be to Him forever!

Solemnity of Peter and Paul, Apostles, June 29th, 2004

1 Let me note here that an unborn human is not a citizen according to the Canadian Law.

2 though He never condemned the adulterous woman caught in flagrante delicto: He only told her not to do it again! This is found in John 8:3-11.

3 «But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?» (Gal 2:11-14) (All Bible quotes are from the King James Version.)

4 «And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question... And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.» (Acts 15:1-29)

5 Acts 15:28

6 The Greek term «porneia» (πορνεια)(«porn») means «copulating with a prostitute» while the term «fornication» means copulation between unwed partners. Copulation with a prostitute is not the same as copulation between two unwed partners as it implies that one partner pays for sex and the other lives from it. A lot of unwed fornicate without being paid or paying. A slight variation of this term «porneia» is used by Paul in 1 Cor 6:9-20 where again it is translated by «fornicator» and not «prostitute user» as it should.

7 «Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.» (Gal 2:1-10)

To Top

To Next Article

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, June 6th, 2004

© 2004 Jacques Beaulieu - property of Jacques Beaulieu - All rights reserved:
Any text on this website can be freely copied if then freely distributed

«freely ye have received, freely give.» (Matthew 10:8b)

Comment via e-mail to the author