Has Rome Changed? The Romish Spider and Ecumenical Flies

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Using the poem,"The Spider and the Fly", we show the Roman Church has not changed her doctrines, but her approach, in order to ensnare unwary ecumenists.

Many ecumenists have been duped by Rome's modern window-dressing into believing that Roman Catholicism has changed for the better, post-Vatican II. The question is, in what way has Rome changed? The question is, has Rome changed for the better, or for the worse? The question is, has Rome moved towards a more Biblical position? Or, as will become clear from reading Rome's own official statements and documents, has she simply adopted a more alluring pose to attract ecumenists into her fold, in a way that the spider seeks to allure the fly into her web. 

 Prettying the Parlour

'Will you walk into my parlour?' said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy.'

It is true that Rome changed at Vatican II, put only in superficial matters. For example, Rome modernised the Mass, changed the position of the altar and allowed Mass to be said in the common language of the people, instead of only in Latin. In addition, Rome made more ecumenically-attractive noises in the direction of Protestants and adherents of other faiths and none. For instance, Rome's rhetoric is no longer the thundering anathemas against heretics which characterised the Council of Trent (1545-1563), but honey-tongued words of 'separated brethren.' Rome now even speaks favourably of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and even atheists! For example, in Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Oct., 1965), Rome declares, 'The Church also has a high regard for Muslims. They worship God ...' (Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents [general editor, Austin Flannery, O.P., Dominican Publications St. Saviour's, and Talbot Press Clonskeagh, Dublin, 1975], p. 739). However, a friendlier approach to false religion is not change for the better but is a step further away from the truth of John 14:6 and Acts 4:12!  

Rome Will Snugly Tuck You In!

'Will you rest upon my little bed? said the Spider to the Fly.
'There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!'

Rome's changes are in the service of her absorbing all Christians under her fold. Ecumenism for Rome is always a one-way street. She will compromise no doctrine which she teaches. She will, however, jettison many Biblical doctrines. Writes Rome in her Decree on Ecumenism (Nov. 1964), 'Ecumenical activity cannot be anything other than fully and sincerely Catholic, that is loyal to the truth we have received from the Apostles and the Fathers, and in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed' (ibid, p. 470).

The Romish Spider can pretty her parlour as much as she likes, but woe to the Ecumenical Fly who ventures therein!

Rome has not changed fundamentally in her theology since Trent. All the old dogmas of Rome, freewill, justification by faith and works, merit, purgatory, transubstantiation, Mariolatry, papal authority, as well as her denial of the Five Reformation Solas (Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gracia, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria), remain intact. Indeed, since Trent she has added some new heresies to her ever growing pile, such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary (1854) and Mary's Assumption into Heaven (1950). Listen to Vatican II in Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Nov., 1964), 'This sacred Council accepts loyally the venerable faith of our ancestors in the living communion which exists between us and our brothers who are in the glory of heaven or who are yet being purified after their death: and it proposes again the decrees of the Second Council of Nicea, the Council of Florence and the Council of Trent' (ibid, p. 412). Past Councils are reaffirmed!

Rome’s Protestations of Affection for Ecumenical Flies

“Said the cunning Spider to the Fly,
'Dear friend, what can I do, to prove that warm affection I've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome - will you please take a slice?'

But, you protest, the anathemas have been revoked, right? Well, the anathemas are not so loud as they were just after the Reformation. The anathemas tend to scare off potential ecumenical Flies from the pretty parlour of the Romish Spider, but every so often, she lets one slip. In her Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences (Jan., 1967), she wrote this: 'The Church deplored and corrected these improper uses [of indulgences, MM]. It teaches and commands that the usage of indulgences, a usage most beneficial to Christians and approved by the authority of the Sacred Councils, should be kept in the Church; and it condemns with anathema those who say that indulgences are useless or that the Church does not have the power to grant them' (ibid, p. 71).

Notice, first, indulgences are still official Romish dogma, and second, Rome anathematises those who deny them. In addition, for all her encouraging noises in the direction of separated brethren and pagans, she has this to say in Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Nov., 1964) about salvation: 'Basing itself on Scripture and tradition [thus denying sola scriptura, MM], it teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation ... and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved, who knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it' (ibid, pp. 365-366).

However, the Romish Spider then spins her pretty web by telling us that many non-Catholics are really joined to her through baptism and that even pagans and unbelievers are included in 'the plan of salvation' and that those sincere seekers after God may attain salvation without knowledge of or membership in Rome (ibid, pp. 366-367). Nevertheless, let those separated from Rome bewail their spiritual poverty for, ' it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained' (Decree on Ecumenism, p. 456).    

Rome’s Fundamental Doctrines Have Not Changed

Roman Catholic salvation begins with baptism (Baptismal regeneration). ''For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptised are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church....All who have been justified by faith in baptism are incorporated into Christ, they therefore have a right to be called Christians'' (Decree on Ecumenism, p. 455). Add to that what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Veritas, Dublin, 1994) teaches: 'In Baptism all sins are forgiven, original and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin'' (CC, para. 1263) and 'Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy'' (CC, para. 1992). Notice, first, baptism justifies a sinner; second, justification is not based on the imputed righteousness of Christ, but is an infusion of virtue into the soul; third, baptism removes all sin; and fourth, baptism regenerates or brings about the New Birth, because as Vatican II explains, it 'constitutes the sacramental bond of unity among all who through it are reborn' (Decree on Ecumenism, p. 469). Baptism, however, does not guarantee final salvation. For that, the use of the sacraments, good works, merits, indulgences and finally (for most) a stint in purgatory are necessary. 

Here is Vatican II (remember Rome's anathema above!) on indulgences. 

First, a definition: 'An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the Church's help, when, as the minister of redemption, she dispenses and applies with authority the satisfaction won by Christ and the saints' (Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences, p.75). 

How does on acquire a plenary (full) indulgence? Answer: ' The requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence are: the indulgenced work must be performed and three conditions be fulfilled. These are (a) sacramental confession, (b) Eucharistic communion and (c) prayer for the Pope's intentions. Further it is necessary to be free from all attachment to any sin at all, even venial sin. .... One Our Father and one Hail Mary satisfy the condition of praying for the Pope's intentions (ibid, p. 76). Or, 'Holy Mother Church still grants a plenary indulgence to be gained at the moment of death, on condition that they are properly disposed and have been in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime. The practice of using a crucifix or a cross while gaining this plenary indulgence is praiseworthy' (ibid, p. 78). 

How about a partial indulgence? ''The faithful who use with devotion an object of piety (crucifix, cross, scapular or medal) after it has been blessed by a priest, can gain a partial indulgence. But if this object of piety is blessed by the Pope or any bishop, the faithful who use it with devotion can also gain a plenary indulgence on the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul provided they make a profession of faith using any approved formula” (ibid, p. 77-78). 

One wonders, after reading this, are we still in the Middle Ages, and what exactly did Christ accomplish on the cross?

'Sweet creature,' said the Spider, 'you're witty and you're wise;
how handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf;
if you step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.'

Rome's doctrine is simply salvation by works disguised as salvation by grace! 'She writes, 'From the most ancient times of the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners .... Indeed the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent were washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people (ibid, p. 68). 

Rome's doctrine of purgatory remains unchanged, although she has at times tried to rebrand it as the fiery love of God. Vatican II wrote concerning purgatory, ''Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life; and above all through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments and purifying punishments' (ibid, p. 63). 

Rome's doctrine of the Mass remains unchanged. She prettied it up by removing most of the Latin and giving the laity more participation, but the doctrine of transubstantiation remains.

In Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Dec., 1963), we read, 'Our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. This He did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages' (p. 16). Rome teaches that the Mass is a sacrifice, a propitiatory, albeit bloodless, sacrifice, which atones for the sins of the living and the dead! 'The sacrifice of the cross and its sacramental renewal in the Mass are, apart from the difference in the means of offering, one and the same sacrifice' (Instruction on the Manner of Distributing Holy Communion, May 1969, p. 155) and 'The sacrificial character of the Mass was solemnly defined by the Council of Trent in accordance with the universal tradition of the Church. The Second Vatican Council enunciated the same teaching once again' (ibid, p. 154). 

In addition, because of transubstantiation, Roman Catholics worship the elements of the Mass (that is, they worship the bread and wine, although they claim that they are worshipping Christ under the species of bread and wine). Listen again to Vatican II, ''There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that all the faithful ought to show to this most holy sacrament (the Mass) the worship that is due to the true God, as has always been the custom of the Catholic Church. Nor is the sacrament to be adored any the less because it was instituted by Christ to be eaten. For even in the reserved sacrament he is to be adored because he is substantially present there through the conversion of bread and wine, which, as the Council of Trent tells us, is most aptly named transubstantiation' (Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, May 1967, p. 104). And again, this time from On Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery Outside of Mass (June, 1973), 'The faithful should be taught that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour, and that we should offer to him, present in the sacrament, the same worship of latria or adoration that we offer to God' (p. 247).

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again;
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the Fly.

Finally, let us look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. Rome has changed in her views on Mary, but only, as I indicated above, by adding to her heresies concerning that simple child of God.

In Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Nov., 1964), Rome outlined her views on Mary.

First, Mary is pristine in her holiness, and by her works of supererogation (works above and beyond the call of duty, impossible according to Luke 17:10) she continues to merit for lesser mortals the blessings of eternal life. Mary's merits are especially valuable in heaven's bank:  ''The treasury of the Church is the infinite value which can never be exhausted which Christ's merits have before God. This treasury includes the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of the saints, all those who have walked in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission entrusted to them. In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time co-operated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body' (p. 66).

Second, Mary's holiness is such that she never sinned, and never had original sin, and at the end of her perfect life, she was assumed body and soul into heaven where she sits as Heaven's Queen! 'Enriched from the first moment of her conception with the splendour of an entirely unique holiness, the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as 'full of grace' (ibid, p. 415) and 'finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken body and soul into heavenly glory when her earthly life was over and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things that she might be the more fully conformed unto her Son, the Lord of lords, and conqueror of sin and death (ibid, pp. 417-418). Mary's role is as Mediatrix (female Mediator besides Christ, the only Mediator [I Tim. 2:5]) through whose intercessions the faithful can find help in time of trouble. 'Mary has by grace been exalted above all angels and men to a place second only to her Son, as the most holy mother of God who was involved in the mysteries of Christ: she is rightly honoured by a special cult in the Church. From the earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honoured under the title of Mother of God, whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayers in all their perils and needs .... The cult as it has always existed in the Church for all its uniqueness differs essentially from the cult of adoration which is offered equally to the incarnate Word and to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and is most favourable to it' (ibid, p. 421).

Finally, in an attempt at 'spin' Rome claims that this cult of Mary does not diminish the glories of Christ as the only Mediator (I Tim. 2:5) and our Advocate with the Father (I John 2:1-2; Rom. 8:34). Spins Rome, 'But Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique [notice, “unique,” instead of “only,” MM] mediation of Christ, but rather shows forth its power....it flows from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. It does not hinder in any way the immediate union of the faithful to Christ but on the contrary fosters it.... In a wholly singular way she co-operated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity to the work of the Saviour in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace' (ibid, p. 418).  

Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
'Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple, there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are as dull as lead.'

Up The Winding Stair Into The Dismal Den!

The Romish Spider is cunning; she flatters the ecumenical Flies, and alas, many of them have flown into her web, and never returned. Do not be fooled. Rome will not, indeed, she cannot change. She is, by her own definition, irreformable. In the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, we read, 'The Roman Pontiff by reason of his office as vicar of Christ, namely, and as pastor of the entire Church, has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered' (p. 375); and, 'This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority must be acknowledged with respect' (ibid, p. 379); and again, '[The pope's] definitions are rightly said to be irreformable by their very nature and not by reason of the assent of the Church, is as much as they were made with the assistance of the Holy Spirit promised to him in the person of the Blessed Peter himself; and as a consequence, they are in no way in need of approval by others, and do not admit of appeal to any other tribunal' (ibid, p. 380). 

Flee from the Romish Spider, lest your ending be like the poor Fly in Mary Howitt's famous poem:

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, -
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head - poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlour - but she ne'er came out again!