To the editors:
Mr. Sheehan’s article regarding certain beliefs about Christ’s message, knowledge of the Trinity and plans for his church are very interesting [April 21]. It is a wonder indeed that such a veritable scholar such as Mr. Sheehan thinks himself to be that he completed (in his own words) ten years of Catholic seminary training without ever reading some of the very earliest writers of the Christian era. For example St. Ignatius of Antioch (the second successor of St. Peter as bishop A.D. 69) was the first to have used the expression “Catholic Church.” In his introduction to the Romans, he tells them that the Church of Rome “presides in the chief place of the Roman territory” that it is presiding in love. Or, how about Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in Gaul (now southern France)? He wrote in the second century “all churches everywhere must agree with the Church of Rome because of its more effective leadership, since in it Christians everywhere have preserved intact the apostolic tradition.”
Mr. Sheehan’s attitude is typical of many of our so-called Catholic scholars who have such a lofty opinion of themselves that they regard other Catholics as ignorant lemmings incapable of discernment regarding church teaching and beliefs.
For example, Mr. Sheehan mentions that at the last supper Christ merely thought that his work would go on without any further intervention. As brilliant a perception that Christ Jesus had of human behavior I doubt that he would have thought that just wishing (that the philosophy he expounded would be carried on unadulterated) would make it so! And if the leadership of a church was not meant to be carried on (but just left adrift as Mr. Sheehan proposes) then why did the first 33 bishops of Rome accept the post (we call that a papal post) knowing that they would be murdered for doing it? The first 33 popes were martyred. As a writer, Mr. Chesterton, put it: “Those awful keys.” And Mr. Chesterton was not a Catholic! May I suggest to Mr. Sheehan that he invest in a copy of Father John Hardon’s book The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom. He may be gratified to know that yes, there are other Catholics who can write the English language and that yes, men do and can make it through priestly training learning something about the Bible as well as real provable facts about the history of the church and Christ’s teaching. Until then I would like Mr. Sheehan to visit me and we can have a chat too. I only have a college degree and am working on a master’s degree in toxicology but I believe that I am able to communicate intelligibly.