Pope Benedict XVI: “Who Can Forgive Sins?” (Devotional)

Reading: Mark 2

(Context: Jesus is making His presence and authority felt early, and the curiosity of the religiously distinguished Jews is growing. In chapter 2 we see Jesus forgive a paralytic’s sins, and then heal him physically, in order of importance. Later we see Jesus’ and His disciples “break the Law” on two separate occasions, first with fasting, and then with “harvesting” on the Sabbath.)

[I was going to write on Moses and the importance of his staff as a type of Jesus, but today’s passage was too good to pass-up.]

A few weeks ago now Pope Benedict XVI stepped-down from office, specifically because of health issues, we were told. Being an avid student of Church History, I think this is a lie. He never stepped-down, he was pushed out by the head Cardinals. There are a few interesting nuggets in the media and in history that lead me to believe this. Yet, we will likely never know the truth in this life. If the Catholic Church openly admitted to having “taken out” their own Pope, it would be an insurmountable disaster.

Never, in the entire history of the Roman Catholic Church, has a Pope resigned or been asked to resign. During the Catholic “Babylonian Captivity” of the 1300’s, there were two popes, and later three for almost seventy years (that is where the name comes from). The Cardinals at this time elected a Frenchman to become Pope, and he promptly decided to move his “seat” to Avignon. You can imagine the uproar! Not long after the Cardinals elected another Pope, dismissing the last selection as invalid, because he had not “followed the rules”. This began a great feud between two Pope’s who were not willing to give up their religious and political power which could give them so much wealth and authority. Each one excommunicated the other, having set-up their own Cardinals, yet retaining the exact same heretical doctrines. To fix the problem, another set of so-called Cardinals later set-up their own Pope, and excommunicated the other two. Three Pope’s! Each Pope, followed by his successor, excommunicated the others, and the Roman Catholic Church was on the verge of ruin. So what happened? Finally the Roman Pope, with the army at his back, killed-off the other two Pope’s and seated himself as the “Supreme Vice-regent of Christ”. He was the wrong one, if you follow History correctly. The true line was in Avignon, even if I don’t give two cents about it, but Catholics should. It’s a damning piece of history.

Was his goodbye willingly or unwillingly?

Now, back to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI: when I heard the news, I was utterly shocked. Pope’s are Pope’s until they die. They get sick, they spend years and years in bed, in their old age they are surrounded by the best physicians, and they always die a Pope. This is primarily to benefit the Cardinals. We must understand one thing at this point: the Cardinals run Rome. They always have, they probably always will. Having an old man in as the Pope is incredibly useful, since now he can be easily kept quiet, having lost his youthful vigor  and especially if he is sick, you can send out documents, lead councils, and change doctrine with his signature, without his approval. Historically speaking, this is common knowledge. Some Pope’s have been incredibly strong, but such Pope’s always shared something in common–they got along with the Cardinals.

Pope Benedict XVI, was once called Cardinal Ratzinger, the highest of his order. He was responsible for writing the infamous (to staunch old-school Catholics) II Vatican Council Documents (from 1965). I’ve read them, and they are extremely “Evangelical” in several key points. A few stand out:

1. All the saved are to be called “saints”; what we call the “sainthood of all believers”.

2. All Catholics are instructed and admonished to read their Bibles, hold regular Bible studies, and interpret them in their own languages. Now, obviously erroneous Catholic commentaries distort the Primary Doctrines of Christology, Soteriology, and Bibliology, so this must be taken with a grain of salt.

3. Mass must be held in the native tongue of the country, no longer in Latin as was customary for over 1000 years (!). Special mass can be held in Latin on occasion, but it is not encouraged.

4. Evangelical Christians are “distant brothers”, no longer heretics, as the Council of Trent (1545) declared against the Protestants.

These ideas almost got Martin Luther killed, though he was excommunicated. William Tyndale was strangled and burned by the Inquisition because he wanted the Bible in English, and nothing else.

Is this a conspiracy theory? I don’t know, all I am doing is looking at the evidence and making a conclusion. If this were true, we will likely never find out. But I do have one last point to make. The Roman Catholic Church is on in its last legs, and people in the know are fleeing from the falling rubble. They are running out of money, they are not well-liked in Atheist Europe, and they have no answer to the current and massive advance of Islam in the country. They are getting pressured to accept homosexuality, abortion, and Evolution. Pope Benedict XVI was perhaps the last pillar of defense for the Biblical Morality of the Catholic Church. In recent years they have been a beacon of light to the world, from a moralistic standpoint (though they still distort the Gospel and are thus heretics as a group).

I was sad to see him go. I have never admired any Pope in my study of them. There is a reason Martin Luther called the Pope’s of his day the Antichrist! I had hope for the Catholic Church under Benedict, that people might read their Bibles and be saved, to leave the legalistic traditions of their fathers and come to Jesus.

Now, perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with Mark 2. Thanks for staying with me.

In chapter 2, Jesus is confronted three times by the religious zealots of Israel, accusing Him of blasphemy, not keeping the Jewish Rabbinic traditions (fasting), and breaking the Sabbath Law. The most important and most serious charge is the first:

Some people came bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. When they were not able to bring him in because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Jesus. Then, after tearing it out, they lowered the stretcher the paralytic was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the experts in the law were sitting there, turning these things over in their minds: “Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Now immediately, when Jesus realized in his spirit that they were contemplating such thoughts, he said to them, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up, take your stretcher, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” — he said to the paralytic —”I tell you, stand up, take your stretcher, and go home.” (Mark 2:3-11)

I cannot find it anymore because the RCC erased it, but Benedict XVI had a twitter account (amazing!) and he wrote in one of his final comments about Jesus as the Supreme Authority. I am paraphrasing, but it went something like this: “I now commend the Church to the One True Shepherd, Jesus Christ“. I think it had a little more, but I don’t want to misquote. To be honest, this blew me away. He was undercutting the authority of the Pope by putting the church in the hands of Jesus, the Head of the Body, which is the Church, as Paul stated.

How has the Roman Church gotten this concept so wrong since the beginning of the Papacy (in the 400’s, and arguably the 700’s with Gregory the Great)?

The Church has always argued that salvation is given through the Roman Church. This is heresy, and the Jews called this blasphemy. For any man, organization, or religion to say it can forgive sins, is to blaspheme Him. “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” The answer: Jesus is God. He forgives sins. 

To call oneself a Pope is to declare oneself to have God’s power to forgive sins. Only Jesus can do this, and it is one of the single biggest heresies at the base of Catholic Dogma.

The Catholic Church would do well to listen to their last Pope. I don’t know all that transpired in the time leading up to his firing or resignation, but I think this played a role. I wonder if he was reading his Bible, maybe even something like this passage. Perhaps he wasn’t fired, but asked to leave the role, for he realized his peril as a blasphemer. Perhaps one day we will find out. 

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