I keep an eye on the foolishness that is espoused over at the ‘Pray Tell’ blog. Recently I ran across a post in which Fr. Anthony Ruff challenges the notion that Jesus founded the Church. Father Anthony Ruff recently stated the following in critiquing what Fr. Longnecker and Fr. Barron had to say about the recent video that came out last week by a dimwitted evangelical, which ridiculed religion, while claiming to promote the love of Jesus. Fr. Barron made the following comment, “What [Jesus] affected was a transfiguration of the best of that classical Israelite religion—Temple, law, priesthood, sacrifice, covenant, etc.—into the institutions, sacraments, practices and structures of his Mystical Body, the Church.” Father Ruff responded “I find Fr. Longecker’s defense of organized religion, though perhaps a bit overstated, more persuasive than Fr. Barron’s. Both point out the communal nature of following Jesus, but Longecker does so without Barron’s triumphalistic, preconciliar-sounding claims about how Jesus founded the Church.” Pre-conciliar sounding? Triumphalism? To disagree with the fact that Jesus founded a Church is heresy, period.
It is clear here in this statement that we have a priest, who is part of the Benedictine order at St. John’s Abbey, espousing heresy in a public forum. That is right, I am claiming that the words he wrote here are blatantly heretical. Any allusion to the fact that Jesus did not found the Church is against the Catholic faith. Yet, according to Fr. Ruff, Fr. Barron was wrong to claim that Jesus ever founded a Church. The claim that Jesus founded the Catholic Church is defined by Fr. Ruff as being old triumphalism, and apparently such claims are to be condemned as “preconciliar-sounding” nonsense. This is not the first time Fr. Ruff has made wild-eyed claims regarding the Church. If we look back to August 25th of 2010 we read, “I’ve become increasingly interested in the issue of what Jesus’s radical message really was (to the extent that we can ever get at least a bit closer to it), and in what ways the tradition of the Church both conveys and betrays his message.” (http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2010/08/25/summer-what-weve-been-reading-wednesday/) We also remember his comments in one the com-boxes on the Pray Tell blog awhile back concerning the Church's apostolic succession, "But “sacramental priesthood in the apostolic succession, as understood by the Catholic (and Orthodox) churches” is quite a bit more complicated, historically problematic, ambiguous, and open to further doctrinal development than you seem to have any inkling of." So we see that Fr. Ruff is no stranger to questioning or ridiculing the Church's teaching concerning the Church.
Let us now see what Christ Himself taught about the Church. Let us also investigate the words of those who followed Him throughout the centuries and handed on the faith throughout the world, concerning the foundation of the Church. Finally we will look at what the Popes and the Church Magisterium has consistently and officially taught about Jesus founding the Church. This material will include what has been claimed not only from the pre-Vatican II sources and documents, but also what came from the Second Vatican Council, as well as what came after it. We will find plainly that this renegade priest is misleading people on a public forum, and as usual, no one in the hierarchy will do anything about it. You wanna know why? Its because most of them also buy into this same modernist heretical nonsense that Fr. Ruff buys into. So Fr. Ruff can espouse anything he likes in a public forum, where thousands, or perhaps millions of men and women can be mislead by his writings, without any opposition whatsoever.
The facts concerning this teaching.
1. Jesus said He founded the Church; "You are Rock and on this rock I will build my Church." (Matthew 16: 18) So here we have Jesus Himself telling his followers that He was going to found a Church. The only problem here is that Fr. Ruff has often claimed that he does not believe that the words in the Bible are the actual words that He spoke. Fr. Ruff once wrote, “Saint Benedict Press prints the words of Our Lord are in red! Just like the Protestant fundamentalists. Just what you need if you think everything attributed to Jesus in the canonical Gospels was said by him...” (http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2011/04/08/what%E2%80%99s-up-with-the-nabre/) So, if you don’t believe the Scriptures are inspired, and that Jesus’ words were passed on to us through the Church and her Scriptures, then what other evidence is going to compel you? Probably not much of anything, but I will continue anyways.
2. The immediate followers of Jesus said He founded the Church; “Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it:...” (Ephesians 5:24-25) Here we see Saint Paul telling us that Christ delivered Himself up for the Church, and that the Church is subject to Him. Of course Fr. Ruff probably doesn’t believe that St. Paul said this either.
3. The early Church Fathers said Jesus founded the Church; “Peter upon which rock the Lord promised that he would build his church.” (Saint Basil the Great) “For from the coming down of the Incarnate Word among us, all the churches in every part of the world have possessed that greatest church alone as their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell do never prevail against it, that it possesses the Keys of right confession and faith in Him, that it opens the true and only religion to such as approach with piety, and shuts up and locks every heretical mouth that speaks injustice against the Most High.” ( Saint Maximus the Confessor) Unfortunately those in the Church hierarchy have grown soft as roasted marshmallows since the days of the great St. Maximus, and they will not shut the heretical mouths of those who espouse heresy today.
4. The Popes have said that those who claimed that Jesus did not found the Church are heretics. The following statement was proclaimed to be heresy according to Pius X. “It was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church as a society which would continue on earth for a long course of centuries.” (Lamentabili Sane, 1907)
5. The Magisterium before Vatican II said Jesus founded the Church; “We teach and declare that according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the lord...if anyone says that blessed Peter the apostle was not appointed by Christ the lord as prince of all the apostles and visible head of the whole church militant; or that it was a primacy of honour only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction that he directly and immediately received from our lord Jesus Christ himself: let him be anathema.” (Decrees of the First Vatican Council) So here we have the Magisterium proclaiming that anyone who would deny that Christ immediately founded the Church, with Peter as its head, to be anathema.
6. The documents of Vatican II said Jesus founded the Church; “Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only.” (Unitatis Redintegratio) “Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all.” (Lumen Gentium) So here we have two Vatican II documents telling us the same thing, that Jesus founded the Church. So I think we should ask Fr. Ruff how he deems this teaching to be “pre-conciliar-sounding". Explain that one to us please.
7. The Church documents of today tell us that Jesus founded the Church, and that Catholics are required by faith to assent to this teaching; “The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: “This is the single Church of Christ... which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth' (1 Tim 3:15).” (Domius Iesus, CDF) I guess Fr. Ruff does not have to comply with this requirement? It seems that he does not, otherwise his superiors and the bishop of which his abbey resides under, would be publicly apologizing to everyone for these statements. In addition, they would then need to jerk this mountebank off the internet to do penance on an island far, far away from any computer connected to the internet.
So I have proven here that Fr. Ruff’s claim that Jesus founding a Church, as being nothing more than old triumphalism, and pre-conciliar in nature, to be a false heretical claim. Oh sure, if he is ever pressed on this issue he will find a way to slither out from what he said. All modernists are good at the word games. I however would put his feet to the fire and make him answer a simple question. "Do you believe that Jesus Christ founded His one and only Church, the Catholic Church, on Peter and His successors? Was this foundation a historical one, and do you believe what the Church in her documents, and in and her Sacred Scriptures attest to regarding this teaching? Yes or No?" It is a fact, when this teaching is denied or in any way questioned, it should be recognized as being heretical in nature, and it should be halted. It does not matter in what manner the teaching is questioned, for any speech that could cause one to doubt this teaching should never be tolerated. This teaching is a core tenet of the Catholic faith which must be believed in order for one to be of the Catholic faith. Will we see Fr. Ruff put under interdict for this heretical statement made in the public sphere? Don’t hold your breath. If we had real men like Saint Maximus the Confessor in the Church today, we would see the likes of this heretical speech shut down. For now we will have to relish in the words that the great Saint left behind for us, and pray that some day this heretical speech will not be tolerated in open forums by the very men who swore to protect the flock from the wolves who seek to devour them. Instead we have these men leading the sheep right into the wolves den, where they then stand with delight, wringing their hands with broad smiles on their faces as they watch the wolves devour them.
“The extremities of the earth, and all in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord look directly towards the most holy Roman Church and its confession and faith, as it were to a sun of unfailing light, awaiting from it the bright radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers according to what the six inspired and holy councils have purely and piously decreed, declaring most expressly the symbol of faith. For from the coming down of the incarnate Word amongst us, all the Churches in every part of the world have held that greatest Church alone as their base and foundation, seeing that according to the promise of Christ our Saviour, the gates of hell do never prevail against it, that it has the keys of a right confession and faith in Him, that it opens the true and only religion to such as approach with piety, and shuts up and locks every heretical mouth that speaks injustice against the Most High.” (Saint Maximus the Confessor)