Last updated: August 07. 2014 5:20PM - 88 Views
By Father Patrick Toner Contributing Columnist

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Many of the articles reflect the word “catholic” meaning “universal.” The subject matter for these articles tends toward general topics that are of interest to all Christians and those seeking to understand a Christian perspective. Among those articles, I’ve written about religion in general, what the nature of religion is and how doctrines come to be. The many articles I’ve written on Scripture also cross denominational lines. The Bible, the Word of God, is important to all of us but we don’t all have the same understanding of how to understand it. There are significant differences between fundamentalist Christians and mainline Christians. There are over 30,000 different Christian denominations all claiming to rightly interpret the Scriptures.

Some of the articles I’ve written reflect a “Catholic” perspective, meaning they are representative of the Catholic church’s teaching or way of thinking. Some articles would have been simply informative about Catholic matters like celibacy for priests. Other articles reflect Catholic thinking or how we approach questions of faith. A recent example would be the article on “Where is Purgatory in the Bible?” The article is an example of how Catholics read the scriptures. As I pointed out, the word “purgatory” isn’t found in the Bible, but the idea is found in many places. In reading the whole of Scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us to a reasonable understanding of the passages, the church offers us an insight that encourages us to think about God’s mercy and His justice.

The Catechism of the Catholic church, which I have referenced several times, is a complete presentation of what the Catholic church teaches. If you choose to read it, you will note two things of importance: first, the frequent use of Scripture to explain the teachings, and, second constant references to almost 2,000 years of writing from the church showing the continuity of the traditions handed down from the Apostles. I consider this to be the most important understanding to a Catholic Perspective.

The Catholic church does not change its teachings because the majority disagrees with it. Great minds throughout the ages have reflected upon these teachings and have left a legacy of wisdom. When I find myself disagreeing, I stop and ask myself “Who do I think I am that I know better than those who have studied these matters?” The Reformation principle that the individual using the Bible is the sole authority for interpretation is open to the sin of pride.

The Catholic Perspective offers something to think about and some information about the Catholic church. I am always open to comments or suggestions for future articles.

Father Patrick Toner is pastor at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 140 West Ave., Plain City. He can be reached at patoner@saintjosephplaincity.com or (614) 873-8850.

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