Semper Eadem?

You’ve Got To Be Kidding

One of the claims frequently encountered by those of us who deal daily with the soul-killing teachings of the Roman Catholic Church is that it never changes. “Semper Eadem,” is the cry, “Always the same.”

Well, God never changes, He told us that Himself, through the writings of His prophets (Malachi 3:6). The Roman Catholic Church claims to have been established by Christ Himself weeks before Pentecost, based on a self-serving flawed interpretation of Matthew 16:18. The Roman Catholic Church claims its leadership can be traced in an unbroken succession all the way back to Peter and that that leader, when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals is infallible, as is its Extraordinary Magisterium. Given all this and the claim that the Magisterium is protected from error by the Holy Spirit, then it stands to reason that the Roman Catholic Church should be always the same. After all, if God does not change, why should His church be any different?

But is that claim true? Is the Roman Catholic Church always the same? I recall that Masses were said with the priest standing at the altar, back to the congregation when I was a kid. I recall the Mass being said in Latin – what little of it I could hear – and having to rely on a Missal to translate the Latin for me so I would know what was going on. I recall not being able to eat or drink anything, not even a sip of water, from midnight until an hour after communion, lest I be guilty of mortal sin in taking the host into my mouth. I remember never eating meat on Fridays, under threat of being guilty of mortal sin. I recall Ember Days. That’s all changed now.

“So what?” the Catholic apologist might sneeringly ask. “Those are but accidentals, matters of Church discipline and practice. They have nothing to do with doctrine.”

That may be true, but it is hardly proof that official RCC doctrine and dogma do not change. Can it be shown, from official Catholic sources alone, that RCC doctrine and dogma indeed to change? A few examples should suffice to prove that they do.

I doubt there were any loan companies or pawnshops in ancient times in any of the lands under the Roman Catholic Yoke. For the reasons, let us look to Canon Law, which my Catholic dictionary defines as:

The name given to the official body of laws by which the Church is governed. Present Church law originated in regulations, or canons, enacted by councils or synods…The current code – incorporating revisions required by the Second Vatican Council – was promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983.[1]

The 44th of the Apostolic Canons, the Council of Arles (314 AD), the Council of Elvira (305 or 6 AD) and the 17th canon of the First Council of Nicea (325 AD) all condemned clerics who lent money at interest. [2]

It wasn’t just the clergy who were prohibited by Canon Law from loaning money at interest:

…the 12th canon of the First Council of Carthage (345) and the 36th canon of the Council of Aix (789) have declared it to be reprehensible even for laymen to make money by lending at interest. The canonical laws of the Middle Ages absolutely forbade the practice. This prohibition is contained in the Decree of Gratian, q. 3, C. IV, at the beginning, and c. 4, q. 4, C. IV; and in 1. 5, t. 19 of the Decretals, for example in chapters 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 13. These chapters order the profit so obtained to be restored; and Alexander III (c. 4, "Super eo", eodem) declares that he has no power to dispense from the obligation. Chapters 1, 2, and 6, eodem, condemns the strategems to which even clerics resorted to evade the law of the general councils, and the Third of the Lateran (1179) and the Second of Lyons (1274) condemn usurers. In the Council of Vienne (1311) it was declared that if any person obstinately maintained that there was no sin in the practice of demanding interest, he should be punished as a heretic (see c. "Ex gravi", unic. Clem., "De usuris", V, 5). [3]

Whoa! Did you catch that? According to the Council of Vienne, a person who stubbornly holds to the opinion that there is no sin in asking for interest was to be punished as a heretic. At this point, the astute Romish apologist might point out that not all those councils were ecumenical councils and that only the doctrines promulgated by ecumenical councils are to be considered infallible. Is that so? Looking to the Catholic Dictionary for a definition of the Magisterium of the Church, I read:

The Church’s teaching authority, instituted by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, which seeks to safeguard and explain the truths of the faith. The Magisterium is exercised in two ways: extraordinary, when the Pope and ecumenical councils infallibly define a truth of faith or morals that is necessary for one’s salvation and that has been constantly taught and held by the Church; ordinary, when the Church infallibly defines truths of the Faith: 1) taught universally and without dissent; 2) which must be taught or the Magisterium would be failing in its duty; 3) connected with a grave matter of faith or morals, and 4) which is taught authoritatively. Not everything taught by the Magisterium is done so infallibly; however, the exercise of the Magisterium is faithful to Christ and what He taught. [4]

That was long ago, the Catholic apologist might argue, and inappropriate to today. Hmmm. Was it all THAT long ago? In his encyclical Vix Pervenit (1745), Pope Benedict XIV wrote:

V. But you must diligently consider this, that some will falsely and rashly persuade themselves-and such people can be found anywhere-that together with loan contracts there are other legitimate titles or, excepting loan contracts, they might convince themselves that other just contracts exist, for which it is permissible to receive a moderate amount of interest. Should any one think like this, he will oppose not only the judgment of the Catholic Church on usury, but also common human sense and natural reason. Everyone knows that man is obliged in many instances to help his fellows with a simple, plain loan. Christ Himself teaches this: "Do not refuse to lend to him who asks you." In many circumstances, no other true and just contract may be possible except for a loan. Whoever therefore wishes to follow his conscience must first diligently inquire if, along with the loan, another category exists by means of which the gain he seeks may be lawfully attained. [5]

I will leave it to the reader to decide whether the prohibition against loaning money at interest should be considered an infallibly taught doctrine. I should point out, however, that three of the mentioned councils were ecumenical and that the prohibitions appear to have met all four of the conditions of infallibility for even the ordinary Magisterium. I do not doubt that Catholic apologists will find a way to discount even the above evidence, but that will not change the clear facts.

Was Benedict XIV serious in his condemnation of usury and interest? What do you think?

5. Therefore We address these encyclical letters to all Italian Archbishops, Bishops, and priests to make all of you aware of these matters. Whenever Synods are held or sermons preached or instructions on sacred doctrine given, the above opinions must be adhered to strictly. Take great care that no one in your dioceses dares to write or preach the contrary; however if any one should refuse to obey, he should be subjected to the penalties imposed by the sacred canons on those who violate Apostolic mandate. [6]

Something must have changed in the hallowed halls of the Vatican, for there are parish-operated credit unions, diocesan lending offices and a Vatican Bank, which certainly appears to be a for-profit operation. How do banks make profit? They invest depositor’s money and they charge interest on loans. Well, the Vatican Bank is surely a saintly operation, where money is freely lent to those in need, where little or no interest is charged on those loans and where all is honest and upright. Yeah. Sure.

In the process of researching for this article, I came across so much information concerning scandal and corruption involving the Vatican Bank and its leadership that I decided to write a separate article on the subject; perhaps I’ll post it here one of these days.

Another example of the inappropriateness of the Roman cult’s claim to be Semper Eadem is the oft-seen assertion that extra ecclesium nulla salus – “outside the church, no salvation.” One of the early church fathers, Cyprian, is credited with first declaring this doctrinal position in 251 AD:

The bride of Christ cannot be made an adulteress; she is undefiled and chaste. She has one home, and guards with virtuous chastity the sanctity of one chamber. She serves us for God, who enrols into his Kingdom the children to whom she gives birth. Anyone who cuts themselves off from the Church, and anyone who leaves the Church of Christ behind cannot benefit from the rewards of Christ. Such people are strangers, outcast, and enemies. You cannot have God as father unless you have the Church as mother (Habere iam non potest Deum patrem qui ecclesium non habet matrem)… [7]

Pope Boniface VIII made the teaching clear in 1302, when he gave us these ringing words:

Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff. [8]

That this was the prevailing doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries was made clear in the profession of faith sworn by Pope Pius IX, at Vatican Council I (1869-70 AD):

… This true catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, is what I shall steadfastly maintain and confess, by the help of God, in all its completeness and purity until my dying breath, and I shall do my best to ensure that all others do the same. This is what I, the same Pius, promise, vow and swear. So help me God and these holy gospels of God. [9]

The profession of faith sworn to by the bishops at the conference was slightly altered in a couple of places. For example, in the profession they swore to, the above paragraph was changed to read:

This true catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, is what I shall steadfastly maintain and confess, by the help of God, in all its completeness and purity until my dying breath, and I shall do my best to ensure my subjects, or those for whom I have responsibility in virtue of my office, hold, teach and preach the same. [10]

And that was the message taught by the church and used by Jesuit Leonard Feeney in condemning the WASP community at Harvard, the Jewish community at Brandeis and others. As Catholic history John Deedy writes:

extra ecclesiam nulla salus was official teaching. It was doctrine. The Catholic Church was the necessary means of salvation, and to gain heaven one had to be connected with it in some way… [11]

That teaching surely seems to meet the criteria for an infallible teaching, both by the Extraordinary and the Ordinary Magisteriums. It endured as Roman Catholic doctrine until November 21, 1964, when Pope Paul VI at first seemed to once again validate the claim that outside the church there is no salvation when he proclaimed:

14. This holy Council first of all turns its attention to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself on scripture and tradition, it teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it. [12]

In the succeeding paragraphs, however, the document seems to reverse itself:

15. The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but who do not however profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.[14] For there are many who hold sacred scripture in honor as a rule of faith and of life, who have a sincere religious zeal, who lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and the Saviour,[15] who are sealed by baptism which unites them to Christ, and who indeed recognize and receive other sacraments in their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities…

16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways.[18] There is, first, that people to which the covenants and promises were made, and from which Christ was born according to the flesh (cf. Rom. 9:4-5): in view of the divine choice, they are a people most dear for the sake of the fathers, for the gifts of God are without repentance (cf. Rom. 11:29-29). But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Moslems: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day. Nor is God remote from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, since he gives to all men life and breath and all things (cf. Acts 17:25-28), and since the Savior wills all men to be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4). Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too many achieve eternal salvation.[19] Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life… [13]

After all those infallible and dogmatic statements, proclaimed for centuries, the rules changed. John Paul II superseded Pius IX’s Profession of Faith with a new and much more ecumenical profession.

And so we see yet another instance where Roman Catholic doctrines, held for centuries and proclaimed by both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Magisteriums have changed. Where once it was taught that salvation was not possible outside the church, Catholics are now told, in a Dogmatic Constitution issued by an ecumenical council and proclaimed by a reigning Pope, that while that still is true, “separated brethren” and Moslems and folks who never have heard the Gospel are also included in God’s plan of salvation. Sheesh!

Given all these contradictions and shifts in ‘infallible’ teachings, can anyone truly believe the claim that the Roman Catholic Church is Semper Eadem? Can anyone truly trust the teachings of a church led by liars who claim infallibility?

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.-- Acts 17:10-11

Do ye likewise.

End Notes:

1. Peter Stravinskas, Ed., Catholic Dictionary, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington (1997), p. 113

2. A. Vermeersch, Usury, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV, Robert Appleton Company (1912), Online Edition © 1999 by Kevin Knight, Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor, Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York, available online at:

3. Ibid.

4. Peter Stravinskas, Op. cit., p. 316

5. Pope Benedict XIV, Vix Pervenit (ON USURY AND OTHER DISHONEST PROFIT),” encyclical (1745)

6. Ibid.

7. Cyprian of Carthage, de catholicae ecclesiae unitate, 5-7; in Corpus Christianorum: Series Latina, Vol. 3, ed. M. Bevenet, Turnholt: Brepols (1972), 252.117-254.176

8. Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctum, bull, (1302)

9. Pope Pius IX, Profession of Faith, First Vatican Council, 2nd Session, January 6, 1870, translation from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Norman Tanner, S.J., Georgetown University Press (1990)

10. Ibid.

11. John Deedy, Facts, Myths and Maybes: Everything You Think You Know About Catholicism, But Perhaps Don’t, Thomas Moore: Allen, Texas (1993), p. 12

12. Pope Paul VI, Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution On The Church),” Second Vatican Council, 4th Session, November 21, 1964, online at

13. Ibid.

Ye Must Be Born Again