Quote:source: Catholic Tract 8 from Catholics for Truth
a. STATUES AND IMAGES IN CATHOLIC BELIEF b. THE PAPACY (A SHORT OVERVIEW)
You shall make the tabernacle .. with cherubim .. the work of skilful workmen (Ex 26:1).
a. STATUES AND IMAGES IN CATHOLIC BELIEF
Since the Bible has been passed down the centuries within the influence of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church is fully aware of the Ten Commandments and the absolute prohibition to adore false gods (Ex 20:3-5). Since Yahweh is Spirit, God could not be represented in human form prior to the incarnation. The Old Testament does say, Thou shalt have no graven images(Ex 20:4), so the question is, do paintings, icons, statues and other representations portraying Christ, his Mother, Mary, the Saints and Biblical events, come under the category of graven images?
There are many aspects of the ancient Jewish religion that have not been continued by Christians, like eating pork, not having intercourse with a woman during her periods, taking interest on loans, or not cutting ones hair and the forbidding of women to wear trousers. The list is endless. Many of these rules were necessary in the circumstances in which the Hebrews found themselves.
No graven images
Among the nations surrounding the Jews idolatry was the norm. People worshipped the sun, moon, creatures or images made in their own hands. The Old Testament made it abundantly clear that the Hebrew people found this type of religious practice appealing. One way to prevent this was to forbid representations which could be worshipped as idols in their own right instead of pointing the way to Al-mighty God.
However, look at Exodus 26:1. In Gods commands to Moses just a few chapters after the giving of the Ten Commandments, is this instruction: You shall make the tabernacle with cherubim the work of skilful workmen. A similar command with respect to the Ark of the Covenant instructed Moses to have two cherubim (figures of angels) of hammered gold at the ends of the mercy seat. God said, And there I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you in commandment for the sons of Israel (Ex 25:22). Here are images directly connected with the presence of God and commanded by him.
Many descriptive carvings from the Synagogue at Capernaum have been unearthed. There was a considerable use of wall painting and mosaic in the synagogues at Jarash, Ben - Alpha and Dura Europos.
God shows himself to us in Jesus Christ
When God became man in Jesus Christ a whole new artistic possibility was opened up for Christians. God in Jesus had translated himself into human terms (Rom 8:3). Everything human, then, could be used as an approach to him, art included.
The Old Testament had used graphic images, words, to convey the message, and much of the Old Testament is poetry, another art form
Paintings and symbols in the early Church
During the first few centuries of the Church, there was some hesitation, probably due to the many gods and the idolatry of the pagan Romans. However, excavations for the new Basilica of the Annunciation at Nazareth brought to light a floor mosaic representing the Eucharist dating from before 63 AD. In the catacombs the early Christians were certainly using religious wall paintings by 150 AD. The oldest representation of Mary and the child Jesus is to be seen in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome, dating from the 2nd century. Drawings of wheat (the bread), grapes (representing wine), along with the fish, symbolising Christ :ICTHUS an acronym in Greek, meaning Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour a symbol of the Eucharist, are seen, as well. From the very earliest days of the Church, Christians used symbols such as the cross, the fish, the peacock, the shepherd and the dove. And early Christian tombs and catacombs bear paintings representing biblical scenes such as the Last Supper, the Good Shepherd and baptism.
The 4th century historian, Eusebius, tells that outside the house of the woman in the gospels with a haemorrhage cured by Christ, was a bronze statue of her, supplicating, on one knee with arms outstretched. Facing her was the upright figure of Christ with a double cloak neatly over his shoulders and his arms out-stretched to the woman . Eusebius goes on to say that he saw the statues with his own eyes, and that there were also portraits of Jesus, Peter and Paul and that he had examined these with his own eyes (Church History, Book 7, Ch 1 .
We should note that the term graven image in Ex 20:3-5 refers to an idol, an image to be adored or worshipped as a god. Statues of Christ or the saints on the other hand are not worshipped and are there to remind people of what they represent.
In Numbers 21:9, Moses fashioned a bronze serpent on a stand, for healing purposes; a prefigure of Jesus on the Cross.
Reminding us of heavenly beings
When Catholics go on knee before a statue of a saint, or the cross of Christ, it is out of respect, as one would do in the presence of one of authority , in the same way as before a judge or magistrate in a court of law. The injunction is not to adore or serve such persons as gods. We show respect by making representations in stone for historical figures such as Nelson Mandela or Queen Victoria. No one would accuse us of idolatry in these cases, even if we bowed slightly in their direction, out of respect. When a pastor goes down on his knees, Bible in hand, no Catholic would accuse him of adoring the Bible but rather of respect, and veneration regarding Gods written Word. We keep photographs in our homes of loved ones, such as a deceased grandmother or father, and others, and even of living personalities whom we admire. They put us in mind of the prototype, just as statues of the Saints, Mary and Christ do. We are thereby put in mind of heavenly things.
If photography had been discovered when Jesus walked the earth, would he have forbidden us to take snapshots of him? Of course not, and these are graven images. Such photographs might even have been used by God in later years to be applied to the sick for healing, as with the aprons and handkerchiefs in Mk 5:25-34, and Acts 19:11-12.
B. THE PAPACY (A SHORT OVERVIEW)
There is overwhelming evidence in Scripture that Peter was chosen as leader of the infant Church; Lk 22:31-32, Jn 21:15-19, Mt 16:18-19 and its parallels in Isaiah 32:15-25 regarding Eliakim and his successors and references to the key.
The significance of Peters new name (Simon to Peter) shows being singled out for an important new role, as with Abram to Abraham, and Saul to Paul. Peters authority at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), even though James is bishop of Jerusalem, is striking. Even Paul who disagreed with Peter on a matter of discipline, not of doctrine, never once spurned Peters special authority and leadership.
The fact that Peter founded the Church at Rome with Paul, is unrivalled and well-documented in historical records and in the writings of the Fathers of the Church (prominent teachers and leaders in the centuries immediately following the apostles).
Peters episcopate ending c 67 AD when he was martyred by Nero is well supported. The successors of Peter up to the present Pope John Paul II are all listed: Linus, Anacletus, Clement I (98 AD), Avaristus, Alexander I, Sixtus I (117 127 AD), Telesphorus (127 137 AD) and so on, until the present Pope, more than 260 of them through 2000 years.
For the first 1000 years, the Orthodox Churches were united with the Catholic Church under the Pope, whom they accepted as the first patriarch of the great See of Rome, a Primacy both of honour and of jurisdiction. They accept the first seven Ecumenical Councils which were held in the first millennium, and whose pronouncements, the Roman Pontiff promulgated. The writings of the Fathers abound with references to the successors of Peter as undisputed leader of the Universal Church.
Peter the Rock
Peter is given the name of rock in Mt 16:18-I9. The gospel then says upon THIS (taute) rock I will build my Church, immediately after having called Peter rock(petra). The Catholic interpretation of this text that Peter is the rock on which the Church is founded is therefore correct.
The doctrine of Papal Infallibility has nothing to do with the popes personal holiness as indeed Peter was far from perfect. The doctrine refers to the definition of Catholic official belief, held from the beginning, rooted in the Word of God, usually made if it needs to be clarified (as the Assumption of Mary in 1950) or when it is under attack. The doctrine was not invented on that date. Infallibility is a charism of truth held by the whole Church with the Pope as spokesman. It pre-serves Church teaching from error as promised by Christ (Mt 16:1 .
Note: A fuller coverage of the papacy appears in Tract