Catholic Priest Urges Arrest of Jehovah’s Witnesses
THE sure way to be rid of an enemy during the Spanish Inquisition was to denounce him to the authorities as a heretic. Many natives of Spain suffered imprisonment, torture and death because of that practice. Today in Spain there are descendants of the “Holy Office” who would like to see similar denunciations made against Jehovah’s witnesses. In fact, under prompting of Catholic priests, Spanish witnesses of Jehovah already have been arrested, fined and imprisoned, as pointed out in recent issues of Awake! Now further evidence of this priest-inspired persecution has come to light.
The Catholic magazine Juventud Misionera (Missionary Youth) is an official organ of the San Francisco de Sales religious order. In its issue No. 124 is a five-page article against Jehovah’s witnesses. The writer is Catholic priest José A. Rico, S.D.B., professor of theology at Salesian College in Salamanca, Spain. In the true spirit of the Inquisition, this priest advises his Catholic readers: “With fervor and constancy invoke Mary, the Helper of Christians, conqueror of all heresies, that She should stop the advance of these enemies of God.” If preached to by Jehovah’s witnesses, Rico urged his readers, “Denounce their proselyting activity to the police. Article 6 of the Fuero de los Españoles [Bill of Rights] supports you.”
There are certain to be many sincere Catholics in Spain and elsewhere who will recognize this priest’s advice as unchristian in the extreme. It puts the Catholic Church in the dangerous position of being, not the persecuted, but the persecutors of Christian men and women. Jesus advised his followers to love their enemies, not, “Have them arrested.” Rather than be the ones to denounce others to the authorities, Jesus said that the way it would occur with true Christians is this: “Look! I am sending you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; for they will deliver you up to local courts, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. Why, you will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations.” (Matt. 10:16-18) Is this priest advising Catholics to play the role of “wolves” or of “sheep”?
It is remarkable how his advice resembles the experience of the apostle Paul, who was denounced similarly 1,900 years ago. The account at Acts 18:12, 13 reads: “Now while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose up with one accord against Paul and led him to the judgment seat, saying: ‘Contrary to the law this person leads men to another persuasion in worshiping God.’” Priest Rico also advises his readers that Spanish law supports their denunciation of Jehovah’s witnesses. Christ himself was accused of breaking the law, so Jehovah’s witnesses are not surprised at this. But sincere Catholics should be surprised that it is their church that follows the methods of those who persecuted the early Christians. Nor is that the only statement by this Catholic priest that should disturb sincere Catholics.
His article continues: “I understand that you are not prepared to carry on discussions, Bible in hand, with Jehovah’s Witnesses.” This advice is parallel to that distributed in writing to all homes in Palma de Mallorca not long ago, advising Catholics not to converse with Jehovah’s witnesses. Similar counsel appeared in the Catholic weekly magazine America of June 24, 1961. Is this the way Christians discharge their duty to let their light shine? Was it not the apostle Peter who wrote these words at 1 Peter 3:15: “Sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you”?—Catholic Douay Version.
The article in Juventud Misionera does not explain why Catholics are not ready to discuss their faith with Jehovah’s witnesses. Instead, the writer attacks Jehovah’s witnesses as shallow students of the Holy Scriptures: “Don’t believe that they have made deep Bible studies; no. They only meet together each week and read together the texts of the Sacred Scripture that are pointed out to them in their magazine The Watchtower. They are contented with that. That is sufficient to feign a deep knowledge of the Bible.”
People who are able to discuss their faith with Jehovah’s witnesses are aware that the Witnesses know a great deal about the Bible. Many have gone with them to their five congregational meetings each week and observed that they go into great detail regarding Bible prophecies, Christian doctrine, Bible principles and many related subjects. Evidently the author of the above advice in Juventud Misionera really does not believe that Jehovah’s witnesses are shallow students of the Bible, for he goes on to tell his readers: “Do not argue with a Jehovah’s Witness. Your lack of Biblical development can bring you doubts that you are not prepared to resolve; and with cunning trickery they will envelop you in their nets.” Obviously he shows that the lack of Bible knowledge is not among the Witnesses. But is it the custom of Jehovah’s witnesses to use “cunning trickery” when discussing the Bible? Would José Rico be pleased to have the Witnesses merely read the Bible to people without further comment? How willing would this priest be to have his parishioners compare the following scriptures with Catholic teaching?
CHECK YOUR BIBLE
For example, at Matthew 23:9 Jesus said: “Call none your father upon earth: for one is your Father, who is in heaven.” (Douay) The surrounding verses show that Jesus condemned other religious titles, such as “Rabbi.” Compare the Lord’s teaching with the Catholic practice of addressing priests by the title “Father.” It requires no trickery to convince sincere people that Catholic practice is in error.
Likewise it takes no cunning to compare the Catholic practice of celibacy and the forbidding of meat on certain days with such Bible statements as these: “Now the Spirit manifestly saith that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy and having their conscience seared, forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by the faithful and by them that have known the truth.” “It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife.”—1 Tim. 4:1-3; 3:2, Dy.
It takes no special education to recognize that the practice of using images in worship is out of harmony with the inspired warning of Paul: “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, fly from the service of idols.” (1 Cor. 10:14, Dy) Neither does the use of images agree with the apostle John’s statement at 1 John 5:21: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (Dy) Would it not be the loving and Scriptural thing for Catholic priests to warn their flocks that the Bible says “idolaters” shall not possess the kingdom of God?—1 Cor. 6:9; Rev. 22:15.
What trick is involved in comparing the Catholic teaching of the Trinity (which says that God and Christ are equal) with Jesus’ teaching: “The Father is greater than I”? (John 14:28, Dy) How clearly Jesus’ statement is confirmed by the apostle Paul’s at 1 Corinthians 11:3: “The head of Christ is God.” (Dy) There is no doubt from the Bible that Christ is subject to God, not equal to him.—1 Cor. 15:28.
One who opens the Bible to Ezekiel 18:4 and Matthew 10:28 (reading all of the verse and not only the first half quoted by this priest) will find that the human soul dies and is destroyed, Catholic teaching notwithstanding. Paul tells us that even in his day Christ was the only one other than God who had immortality. (1 Tim. 6:16) Therefore all men could not be possessors of “immortal souls” by reason of their human nature. The lack of immortality causes Christians who are in the race for heavenly life to seek it. There is no trickery in observing that fact, is there?—Rom. 2:7.
Catholic theologians may teach that God took the fleshly body of Jesus’ mother to heaven, but they ought not to expect people to ignore the emphatic statement of the Bible, “that flesh and blood cannot possess the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 15:50, Dy) Again, let priests teach that they sacrifice Christ daily in the celebration of the Mass, if they want to believe this. But they should not pretend that it is “trickery” to take the Bible and read Paul’s words: “For Jesus is not entered into the Holies made with hands, the patterns of the true: but into Heaven itself, that he may appear now in the presence of God for us. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the Holies every year with the blood of others: for then he ought to have suffered often from the beginning of the world. But now once, at the end of ages, he hath appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of himself.”—Heb. 9:24-26, Dy.
It is apparent from these scriptures why Catholic priests tell the Catholic people not to discuss the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses, but to “denounce their proselyting activity to the police.” Priests who admittedly have taken away the key of Bible knowledge from the people have much to lose by permitting free discussion of the Holy Scriptures, just as the Jewish “chief priests” had much to lose by the witnessing of Jesus.
If you turn to Matthew 26:46-50 in your Catholic Bible you will see that Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ at the bidding of those same religious priests. Take care, then, that men holding similar offices today do not direct you into the path of Judas, instead of the footsteps of Christ. Not that Jehovah’s witnesses are unwilling to suffer loss of freedom for the sake of the good news. But are you willing to suffer loss of everlasting life for the sake of some very bad advice?