Sunday, September 27, 2009

Catholic Books -- Full Authority

I'm not a Catholic but I dabble in religious matters, kind of a hobby.

The other day I needed to look up something about the Catholic faith, about some of their understandings of the Mass, what it's supposed to be all about as it relates to the sacrifice of Christ, etc.

I have the official catechism book that I got a long time ago. So I looked it up. Emphasis on the word official.

One thing about Catholic books, they let you know right up front if they're approved by the folks in charge. There's an imprimatur that says, I guess, that some higher up people in the know have read it word for word and it squares with everything they believe. So, the way I take it, it has authority. At that point it's not just someone's opinion. (Or it could be, in some cases, that it doesn't conflict with Catholic teaching, which, now that I think of it, is just another way of saying the same thing.)

This particular book, a big thick catechism, has the last pope's signature, meaning either that he read it and approved it, or, more likely, took someone else's word for it and signed it.

I saw in there that some of the credit in the putting together of the book went to Joseph Ratzinger, who is now the current pope. So presumably he stands behind everything in the book as well.

It's not like other faiths, though, where it's every many for himself. Your opinion is as good as someone else's and no one's really in charge. I actually prefer that, but if you want the official word on a subject, the strictly hierarchical faiths obviously have the edge.

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