Wednesday, June 1, 2016


I received an interesting letter from a man named Ron Sutter yesterday.  He is a former Catholic that is afraid that all Catholics are going to hell and he wrote to me hoping that I will have a change of heart and start leading Catholics according to his way of seeing the Gospel and Jesus’ mission.  It is a form a letter so I wonder how many of you may have received it.

I rarely have a problem with anybody who accurately presents Catholic teaching and then respectfully disagrees.  I will still think them incorrect, but I can respect that.  But when someone misrepresents the Church and then violently rips the false teaching apart in a slight of hand to prove how wicked (or in this case extremely cruel) the Church is, then I get my liturgical underwear in a bunch.  

The letter is three pages long and I have only a short time to write today.  But if you receive such a letter, it might be a good exercise to read it and then get the catechism out see if you can discern the flaws in the reasoning, find the straw men, and weigh the theology.  

In this letter, he states that he grew up Catholic but that he did hear the Gospel until age 19.  It was the first time that he heard that Jesus was the way to heaven.  I have a difficult time believing that he went to PSR, was baptized, received Communion, and was confirmed, went to Mass every weekend, and did not hear that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Another major theme in the letter is that Catholics believe that they earn their way into heaven.  “Ask any Catholic,” he asserts, “and they will tell you they are going to get into heaven because they do good works.”  We know, however, that we not only cannot, but we have no need to earn heaven.  If we could earn heaven, one of us would have pulled it off before 2,000 years ago and we wouldn’t have needed Jesus.  Jimmy Akins puts it succinctly: “To come to God and be saved, you need to repent, have faith, and be baptized. If you commit mortal sin, you need to repent, have faith, and go to confession.”  In all of this it is Jesus Who will save you.  Read more of his article HERE.

Here are two more sentences and then I will call it quits.  1) “The Catholic Church is clearly false because you preach another Gospel.  God is Holy.  He cannot tolerate even one sin and demands moral perfection: something we don’t have to offer.” 

Here is straw man case,  Does the Church teach that you must be morally perfect in this life in order to get into heaven?  Let us take the case of St. John Paul II.  When he was canonized there was a flurry of activity online and in the news about how he was not perfect.  (If he were perfect, he would’t have needed Jesus.)  We don’t claim that he was perfect, just a great model of true Christianity, and example of Christian living in our day and age.  No-one who knows and understands the teachings of the Church (which are the teachings of Christ) thinks for a moment that the saints had reached moral perfection in this life.  In fact, that is heresy.  “Anyone who says he is without sin calls God a liar.” 1 John 1 :8

Finally, “He justifies, he sanctifies, and He glorifies.  In the end, God gets one hundred percent of the glory for our salvation.  No one in Heaven is boasting in themselves about being there because everyone there knows i was all Him.”  

Well . . . yes.

But this is a clever ploy to make it sound as though this is something that the Church does not teach.  We actually agree but it is an attempt to make the Church look bad.  It is a clever but dishonest, underhanded letter with a fraudulent presentation of Catholic teaching.

And a fun way to build you knowledge of your own faith.


Stephen said...

Poor Father Valencheck,
Yes Father, I agree with you. Your blog this morning got my lay underwear in a bunch. it is wise when we get these letters that we say three Hail Marys and three Our Fathers for the tortured soul who wrote such a sad letter and then put said letter into the round file cabinet under your desk. The time and energy you spent in your blog about this letter was not worth it unless it got your liturgical underwear unbunched. Poor Sebastien, now he has to deal with you all day. Let Sebastien reply to Sutter on yellow paper. Did Father Phiffer get a letter also?

Anonymous said...

After our parish merged with another Akron parish 6 years ago, there was a lot of hatefulness going around. We went to Mass one Sunday and came out to find that our cars had letters stashed under the wiper blades.

Future Church urged us to withhold our Offertory envelopes in order to punish Bishop Lennon for merging our parishes. Apparently, if the Church would permit women priests and married clergy, it would solve all our problems and there would be no need to close parishes because we would have more vocations than we could handle.

When I emailed one of the leaders of Future Church, a former priest, to object in a charitable manner and to ask them not to mess around with my car while at Mass again, I got a lot of grief for my efforts.

I told him that withholding our Offertory envelopes would not punish the Bishop, but it would deprive our school children, our college students, the poor and homeless we serve, and our parish in general of the money needed to function. In other words, we could not do the work Jesus wants us to do.

He condescendingly informed me that I obviously do not have the necessary intelligence to understand Church politics, and my tiny woman's brain is unequipped to defend my parish.

I chalked it up to taking a hit for Jesus and realized that if this organization has to make personal insults when they are questioned, they are obviously on thin theological ice.

God bless you and all your readers!