Christian BoyLove Forum #66656
Your knowledge of history is impressive. I don't have the same level as reading as you on the particulars that you mention, but I will try to offer a response.
First of all, that there are corrupt individuals in the Church who have done terrible things should not be surprising, considering that even Christ's hand-picked Apostles all strayed in one way or another, and that the Apostle Judas Iscariot met with such a sad end. The corruption of the Church has been there from the beginning. The fact of the matter is, Christ ordained that the "gates of hell will not prevail" against the Church (Matthew 16:18). That to me is the reason why the Church should be trusted, because Christ Himself said evil would never "prevail" against it. He never said evil would never happen within it.
You mention "Bloody Mary," but I remind you that Elizabeth I murdered many Catholic priests during her reign.
You also mention that "Rome denies that this can be the work of God" when referring to the rise of the reformation and the later revival. This is not necessarily correct. I quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 819, when talking about the wounds to Christian unity:
"Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity.""
Also of note is that the Catechism admits (par. 817): "in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame."
This means the Church acknowledges that God is indeed present and works in protestant circles as well, just that He is truly present in the Church He founded upon Peter the rock (Matthew 16:19), the first Pope.
You talk about the doctrines on papal infallibility and the assumption, but I remind you that this is the same Church that also declared as "doctrine" the canon of scripture, the idea of Christ being divine, and God being Triune. Why protestants accept Church teaching on some things and not others is profoundly interesting, seeing as this authority is either authoritative or it is not. Also important to note is that the Church doesn't purport that all bulls, encyclicals, or other documents are infallible. The reason Christ established a Church is to respond to the needs of the world from age to age, and the Church does so through imperfect means, but still attempts to uphold this task from age to age to respond to the pressures and needs of an ever-changing world while still staying true to the teachings of the Lord.
You also shouldn't equate the lack of people "flocking in" as evidence of the Church not measuring up to its calling. Christ Himself saw hundreds turn away from Him when He taught them a "difficult doctrine" about eating His flesh in John 6. The fact of the matter is, the Church stays true to the teachings of Christ, and if the world turns away, that's between them and God.
Essentially, to say that the Catholic (ie "Universal") Church of today, founded in Jerusalem during at Pentecost 2000 years ago, is not the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" Church that the early Church leaders identified it as (the "four marks"), is to say that Christ was wrong and that the Church He founded really did fall into complete apostasy at some point. For the same reason, I want to know where the "Methodist Church" was circa 130 AD when St. Justin Martyr wrote on the practices of the believers in Antioch, or when Pope St. Clement (mentioned by St. Paul) wrote his own letter to admonish the Corinthians, much less circa 33 AD. The answer is that none of these protestant denominations nor their theology existed until they decided to be schismatics.
Nor has the Church "abandoned" the Mass in Latin. It is just now optional. Singing in Latin is still part of the Church I attend, and the reason is because it's a beautiful language that seeks to separate oneself from the world to enter a more spiritual space. The fact is, the Church exercises caution in alterations to liturgical matters because it is so rooted in history, unlike many protestant denominations that blow however the wind (and the donations) lead them.