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Over the years I have received quite a few comments by non-catholics denying or challenging the Catholic view that the Apostle Peter had ever lived in Rome. I am currently reading the work of Eusebius (The History of the Church) and, according to the author – and other works quoted by him in this book – the Apostle Peter not only lived in Rome, but he was martyred and died there. Below is a short excerpt of Chapter 25 on this subject. In G.A. Williamson’s translation the reader will also learn in Chapter II, page 49, that Peter was already in Rome at the time of a serious heresy started by Simon the Magus, which was overcome only with   the Apostle’s help, by the grace of God.

Book II, Chapter 25 of “The History of the Church” written by Eusebius of Caesaria (A.D. 265-340)

The Persecution under Nero in which Paul and Peter were honored at Rome with Martyrdom in Behalf of Religion

When the government of Nero was now firmly established, he began to plunge into unholy pursuits, and armed himself even against the religion of the God of the universe. To describe the greatness of his depravity does not lie within the plan of the present work. As there are many indeed that have recorded his history in most accurate narratives, every one may at his pleasure learn from them the coarseness of the man’s extraordinary madness, under the influence of which, after he had accomplished the destruction of so many myriads without any reason, he ran into such blood-guiltiness that he did not spare even his nearest relatives and dearest friends, but destroyed his mother and his brothers and his wife, with very many others of his own family as he would private and public enemies, with various kinds of deaths.

But with all these things this particular in the catalogue of his crimes was still wanting, that he was the first of the emperors who showed himself an enemy of the divine religion. The Roman Tertullian is likewise a witness of this. He writes as follows: “Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine, particularly then when after subduing all the east, he exercised his cruelty against all at Rome. We glory in having such a man the leader in our punishment. For whoever knows him can understand that nothing was condemned by Nero unless it was something of great excellence.”

Thus publicly announcing himself as the first among God’s chief enemies, he was led on to the slaughter of the apostles.

It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day.

It is confirmed likewise by Caius, a member of the Church, who arose under Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome. He, in a published disputation with Proclus, the leader of the Phrygian heresy, speaks as follows concerning the places where the sacred corpses of the aforesaid apostles are laid: “But I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you will go to the Vatican or to the Ostian way, you will find the trophies of those who laid the foundations of this church.”

And that they both suffered martyrdom at the same time is stated by Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, in his epistle to the Romans, in the following words: “You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time.”

I have quoted these things in order that the truth of the history might be still more confirmed.

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In the past few months I have been somewhat engaged in defending the Catholic faith whenever there is an opportunity. This is not because I find that other Christian churches are not good, but because I believe it is wrong that Catholics should be discriminated and even attacked in such a relentless and unfair way. 

Here is a letter that I posted recently on an online Christian Social-Network, in response to an extremely resentful and anti-Catholic article.

I must admit I find it somewhat difficult to debate the Catholic Church with most non-Catholics, especially fundamentalist Christians and Evangelicals. Not because I don’t have the answers to their arguments and, sometimes, their accusations, because I do have. In fact, the more I study my faith to reply to such arguments, the more I become convinced that I don’t want leave the Catholic Church. The problem is anti-Catholics are never  prepared to listen with an open heart and mind, because they are fuelled with prejudice and misconceived ideas.

I am not sure of what some protestants mean with ‘man-made laws that have been mixed into the Church’s teachings’, but this is just one example of the accusations that are thrown at Catholics. Obviously, the Catholic Church cherishes the Sacred Traditions passed onto to us by the Apostles of Our Lord, but these are certainly not  man-made or conflicting with Jesus’ teachings. 

For instance, this abusive letter I received talked about many misinterpreted ideas about Catholicism and in my response I tried to cover them to the best of my ability, as it follows:

According to the Catholic Church, worship and adoration in due to GOD only and no-one else. God commands that we should have NO idols and only He can be Adored and worshiped. However, the understanding that God forbids any representation of ‘heavenly beings’ is inaccurate; otherwise God would be contradicting Himself when  he commanded Moses to decorate the Tabernacle with Cherubim ‘skilfully worked into them’ or place two 5ft tall pure gold angle statues in His holy temple (Ex. 25: 18-22 ; 36:8 ).  

Regarding our reverence to Sacred symbols and objects, it is important to say that, for instance, when a priest kisses the Sacred Scripture or the Sacrificial Table at Mass, he is not kissing the matter which those objects are made of, but what they represent. Namely,  Jesus’ Sacrifice and the Word of God.

The same is true for when a Catholic venerates a Sacred Icon of the Blessed Virgin – the Mother of God, for example, he/she is not venerating the wood or marble of the statue, but who and what the object represents, namely her example of loyalty and obedience to God, her meekness and discipleship. When a marble Icon of Jesus is made and blessed for veneration ( NOT worship), it is NOT to represent God, who is invisible and Divine, therefore Impossible to be represented (and who we are forbidden to represent, anyways) but to honour the humanity of Christ, God in His human form, as well as his gentle act of love in humbling Himself as a mere human being, who although was Divine was also true man, for the love of us!

The use of Sacred Icons was an efficient way found by the early Christians to evangelize, by depicting passages of the Gospel in order to spread the teachings of the Lord even to those illiterate people in the end of the world, as Jesus commanded.

After Jesus was resurrected it took about 365 years for a Bible to be compiled. Furthermore, before the Bible came about as we know it today, only an extremely small percentage of the population of the world could actually read and write. And even after the Bible was compiled, because there was no printing press, which only happened in the 1500’s, Christians did not have access to the Holy Scriptures as we do today. Therefore, they HAD to rely on the oral teachings passed on by the leaders of the Early Christian Church! Thus, the Church’s Apostolic heritage.

Some non-Catholics claim that they have ‘studied’ the Church’s history. The problem is that they never go to the Church’s owns sources in order to learn what she actually teaches. Instead, they ‘study’ anti-Catholic literature which is widely available both on the internet or any book store. The problem is, these materials are, with very rare exceptions, full of errors and by no means provide an accurate understanding of the Catholic Church and faith. 

I wish those who are really interested in learning the truth, would refer to the writings of the Early Christians of the first and second century, or records such as The Didache (also known as the Teachings of the Twelve), which is the oldest existing Christian document (50AD), as well as Scholars such as St. Ignatius of Antioch (35AD), St. Thomas Aquinas, Justin Martyr (100AD) and so on. For if that’s what you mean, I am happy to inform you that I am hard at work on those…

In reponse to the notion that the Catholic Church discourages Bible reading, it is important to point out that Liturgy of the Mass is composed of two parts. The Liturgy of the Word & the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This has been the same for 2000 years. Everyday we hear three passages, two from the NT and one from the OT and then a homily based on the readings. But the point is, although the Church has always encouraged private reading of the Scriptures, the Holy Mass is not a Bible study assembly. We congregate to worship the Lord in thanksgiving and praise, but it is our duty as Christians to read the word at home, to reflect on the aily readings heard at Mass, and to study them at home. 

Having said that, the Church does promote many extra-Mass activities, such as prayer groups, Bible study classes, that are designed to deepen our knowledge of the Scriptures. At Mass we celebrate the word of God and receive Jesus in the Holy Communion.

Criticism of the Catholic can be cinical and unfounded. For instance, antagonism to clergy vestiments.  As most Bible reader would know, such  vestments are indeed Biblical and are refered to in OT.  This tradition is in fact so sacred that it was first observed by the Jews themselves, who still keep it, as well as the Orthodox and Anglicans alike….

Some people like to come up with outrageous Biblical interpretations to motivate their antagonism toward the Catholic Church and support the fact their views. For some Catholics have the ‘mark of the beast’ on their forehead, as the Church is the ‘whore of Babylon’. Whenever I hear   nonsensical interpretations, I am obliged to point out that Catholics also have interpretations of their own…

We believe, for instance, that we are the True Church of Christ because Jesus Himself founded her: In Mt 16:18 we read:

“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.” Or ‘You are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my Church. ( Kepha, that’s a transliteration of the Aramaic word (in which the Gospel of Matthew was written) Kepha (rendered as Kephas in its Hellenistic form of Greek).

According to this  Catholic view there is no-way the Church can be the so-called whore of Babylon. Why not? Because if we read on, in Mt 16:19 Jesus promised:

 “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”. (Matt. 16:18-19)

This passage says it all: The Apostolic authority given by Jesus, the founding of His Church and an Eternal Promise, these elements are not compatible with the evil attributed to the Church! Therefore, the Church has got it all covered just as God has!

Catholics have kept the Apostolic Tradition, which can be tracked back to St Peter, our first Bishop and leader – who you stated to be the pagan god Neptune, re-named by the Church – currently called the Pope, as well as everything else that was practiced by our forefathers.

David prophesied about the Catholic Church as being Zion:

Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon, Philistiatoo, and Tyre, with Ethiopia – “This one was born there“, they say. And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in IT, for the Most High Himself will establish it. (Psalm 87:5-4).

Such “understandings” Catholics have gives them any right or authority to go about judging other Christian Churches for not uniting with or following the True Church of Christ? Absolutely not!! Because the Scriptures (1Cor 13: 1-7) say:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Finally, let us not lose sight of what happened as soon as M. Luther broke up with the Church. In the following years of after the Reformation there were many others who disagreed with him, and walked out to found their own “truthful” church. It well documented that before M. Luther’s death there were already 280 sects of Christianity, all of them claiming to be the right one. Nowadays there are 38 thousand, of which not a single one fully agrees with the others. Therefore, to try to argue about who is right and wrong under such circumstances would require an enormous amount of time reading and studying, to say the least.

Therefore, I will not boast about being right nor will I write resentful posts on the internet. I will pray much that the prayer of Jesus in Jn. 17:11 will not be in vain and that one day all followers of Christ will be one in Him, as He and the Father are One.

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