Catholics/FB group statement

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Question
FB group, "United Catholics", a portion of a statement made by some self proclaimed guru:

"My basic point in all this is that it cannot be claimed that the Rosary or the Scapular or "miraculous medal" are parts of the Catholic doctrine any more than it can be claimed that either "Mary is God" or that abortion or homosexuality will be Divinely approved at some point in the future. This is all gross error -- but one would never know it from reading some of the "propaganda" out there supporting these "devotions."

Instead, the Rosary should be regarded as nothing more than simply one of many other devotions practiced in the Church. Such as the Stations of the Cross or the Angelus -- both of which, by the way, are apparently many centuries older than the Rosary. Not to mention the "miraculous medal," which goes back only to the mid-nineteenth century."

I'm interested in your reaction.  TY.

Answer
It is difficult to give a reaction when I am reading a statement out of context.  What was the person responding to?

It is also difficult to give a reaction due to the ambiguity of the terminology.  What does the person mean by "doctrine?"  

If by "doctrine" the person means "dogma" (and it seems the person does mean it in that sense) then the person is correct. However, just because something is not a dogma does not mean it is not important.  

The Rosary is certainly not "dogma."  In other words no council, pope or bishops have ever said that Catholics are under pain of sin are bound to accept that the devotion of the Rosary was divinely revealed. The same could be said about the Scapular and the miraculous medal.

That being said--just because something is not dogma in the strict sense does not mean the devotions are irrelevant or not important.  While it is certainly true that Jesus and the Apostles did not go around and teach people the "Hail Mary" or hand out Rosaries it does not make the devotion unimportant. The Rosary is the most powerful prayer in the Church next to the Mass.  The meditations on the Rosary are all meditations on some aspect of the Incarnation and ministry of Christ.  To that extent they take the dogmas of the Church out of the intellectual and heady into the realm of the heart and personal.  

The Rosary is a devotion and it isn't for everyone.  The stations of the cross are another devotion but they aren't for everyone.  These devotions are tools and aids to prayer that have developed over the centuries and shown to be effective tools to helping people pray.

It is true that some people act like the Rosary, Stations of the Cross etc are devotions every Catholic must do under pain of sin and to that end the people act like they are more Catholic than the pope and more Roman than Rome. They act as if Jesus instituted the Rosary at the Last Supper and the Apostles forged the miraculous metal out of the metal of the chalice used at the Last Supper. I therefore understand the person's frustration when he said what he said in his statement.  

Notwithstanding the above the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, the Miraculous metal, etc, are all devotions that while not required are extremely helpful as tools and aids in prayer.  

In any case the short answer to your question is that the statement is in essence correct but it is misleading-at least as I read it.  As I read the statement is almost seems to make light of the devotions and presents them as irrelevant and incidental. They are not irrelevant nor are they incidental.  

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Father Dave Bechtel

Expertise

I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.

Experience

I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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