The Continuity of the Catholic Church
Let me put the facts in very realistic terms. The Catholic bishops of today were taught in seminaries a few years ago, taught by teachers who had been students in seminaries a generation earlier, where they had been taught by teachers who were students in still earlier years. The direct and personal contact of teacher and pupil, the one instructing the other, has been continuous from the beginning of Christianity, when our Lord taught His chosen Apostles and when they taught their disciples.
It is pertinent here to quote from St. Paul, writing to St. Timothy: "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (II Tim. 2:2). In these inspired words is shown the patterns by which the Gospel is to be preserved. It is used today in the seminaries of the Church, where the bishops, through chosen and approved professors, teach the Gospel to young men who will be the clergymen of the next generation. From teacher to pupil, day after day, year after year, generation after generation, there has not been one break. The seminarians of today are taught what their professors were taught; they, in turn, were taught what their professors had been taught. Back goes the continuity, back to the beginning.
Two methods of learning and defining Christian doctrines are thus in contrast, methods which have been and are now being used. The one is that of religious leaders who have appeared on the world's scene in some later century, the 10th or 16th or 19th or 20th. Assuming the role of reformers or something similar, they undertake to interpret the Gospel of Christ and to correct the alleged mistakes of the Catholic Church. Without contact with the past, and with little regard for Tradition, they are dependent upon their own reading of the Holy Scriptures. To their credit let it be said that they regard the Scriptures as the inspired word of God. It is to their credit, furthermore, that they wish to preserve and teach the Gospel as it was originally taught by the Apostles. Even so, their method, I do not hesitate to say, is wholly incorrect.
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