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Do We Have An Antipope?

The title of this essay is meant to be provocative, but not because I'm asking that question. I am not. Rather, this is the question I've been hearing over and over again, starting shortly after my conversion to the Catholic Church in 2000, and much more frequently after the election of Pope Francis in 2013. That question is: "Do we have an antipope?"

What is an antipope? For some of my non-Catholic readers, this may sound a bit ominous. I imagine that some of my Evangelical friends might wonder if I'm speaking of the Antichrist. I am not. An antipope is not the same thing as an antichrist or the Antichrist. In fact, they have virtually nothing in common. An antichrist is a person who is pretending to be Christ. While an antipope is a person who is pretending to be the pope. Since the pope is not Christ, there is a huge difference.

To simplify, an antipope is really nothing more than a man who is presumed to be the pope, but in fact he is not, either through imp…

It's Christmas - Now What?

December 25 has come and gone, and for those of us who are Catholic, we know the Christmas celebration is not over, but rather just begun. However, with the gift-giving bonanza that many households have already celebrated on the 25th, its sometimes hard to know what to do next. This is especially difficult for converts, of which I am one, or Catholics just recently trying to rediscover their faith.
Admittedly, as a convert, it's taken me about a decade to figure this out, and I must confess that every family does things a little differently. That's okay. There is nothing wrong with a little diversity in the Church, especially for private family devotions. 
The trick, insofar as I have been able to figure it out, is not going too far outside of our cultural norms. For example; some Catholics won't set up their Christmas tree until Christmas Eve. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and if that is what a family is accustomed to, more power to them. However…

Anti-Catholicism in Southern California

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. It's a medium size Evangelical church, very typical of what one might expect of the Evangelical Protestant belief system. Today one of Shane's articles came across my Facebook news feed, and I had to comment it on here. It was published in Charisma News and can be viewed here.
Pastor Shane's misunderstanding of Catholicism is typical of many Evangelicals. There are basically two hotbeds of Evangelical anti-Catholicism in the United States today. The first is the Bible Belt, where I live, and the second is California. I know this may shock many but it's true. When I lived there I found that anti-Catholicism was really quite common. Catholicism is the dominant form of Christianity in California, but unfortunately, most of California's Catholic bishops have become so liberal, for so incredibly long, that the majority of Catholic Californi…

A 2016 Christmas Gift Idea

Do you know anyone who doesn't understand the Catholic Christian faith? Do you have Protestant friends and family who "just don't get it?" Worse yet, are you confronted on holidays and family get-togethers with challenging questions, even accusations, about Catholicism and the Catholic Church? Or, are you looking to explain Catholic teaching in a way that Evangelical Protestants can easily understand?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then my 2013 book "Catholicism for Protestants" might be for you. While I admit this to be a shameless promotion on my part, it may be worth consideration. I wrote this book specifically for the purpose of helping Protestants (particularly Evangelicals) understand our faith, and also to help Catholics better explain our faith in a way Evangelicals can understand. The book is short and arranged in a question/answer format by general topics that are major points of difference between Catholics and Evangelicals. It …

Why Christmas is NOT Pagan

Having once been an Evangelical, I was heavily exposed to the "Christmas is Pagan" or "Christmas has Pagan origins" movement in the Western world. The movement is heavily concentrated in the United States, with large pockets in Canada, Australia, and other parts of the Anglosphere. It's primarily a Protestant problem, which was popularised during the Protestant religious movements of the 17th through 19th centuries. Today it is most aggressively pushed by Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Church of God and other Fundamentalist sects. Sadly, attacks against this holiday are used to introduce suspicion of mainstream Christian denominations, and the Catholic Church in particular.

The Fundamentalist attack on Christmas is centred around the date of December 25, and actually has a rather ancient origin. The 12th-century Syrian Orthodox Bishop, Jacob Bar-Salibi, proposed the following:
"It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 Dec…

Catholic History Made in Republic Missouri

Nestled deep in the forests of the Ozark Mountains is a small city called Republic. It sits about 15 miles southwest of Springfield, Missouri, otherwise known as the Queen City of the Ozarks. Republic is a small suburban town originally built along the railroad tracks leading into Springfield. Today Republic straddles Highway 60, a major artery going into the Queen City. In comparison to Springfield, Republic is a quiet town. High school sports preoccupy most of the city's excitement. A farmers' market meets regularly on Main Street, and the annual celebration of "Pumpkin Days" takes place in the same location every autumn. Like Springfield, Republic is home to many churches of various types. Whatever you're looking for, you can pretty much find it in Republic. There are at least two contemporary-style Evangelical churches in town, along with some traditional Baptist and Assemblies of God (Pentecostal) churches. There is a beautiful and historic Christian Church…