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As for last week's poll ("Which anti-Catholic claim is the most difficult one for you to answer?"), there was a decent turn-out. Here are the results:
It looks like most of my readers have a hard time vindicating the Church's role during the Holocaust. It definitely takes a lot of scholarship to figure out what actually took place, and there are a lot of books and bogus websites out there that accuse the Church of either directly aiding in the killing of Jews, or of standing by and watching it happen. Thankfully, many scholars have risen up within the last few years to defend Pope Pius XII and the Church's actions during World War II. They have provided a wealth of information which shows that the Church actually did a great deal to save as many Jews as possible without simultaneously harming the thousands of Catholics who lived in the various German-occupied countries during this time.
If you're ever in a debate about this, you can get a lot of mileage out of the following two words: prove it. A lot of people say a lot of things, but they usually have very little to back it up with. When they give you something, check their sources. Are they credible? Did the person or author in question actually say that? Is their another side to the story? You'll be surprised how dishonest and unscholarly people get when they talk about the Church. Finally, point them to scholarship that defends the Church. I have 80 links to articles on the Church and the Holocaust compiled here. I've never seen a more extensive online collection of info on this topic. You should have more than enough there to defend the Church.
It looks like the "Whore of Babylon" charge is another sticky subject for some people. This requires logic and Scriptural exegesis. Basically, the whore is either Rome or Jerusalem. Either interpretation is acceptable, and there are valid arguments for each. But, the whore is definitely not the Catholic Church, and to say otherwise is pretty absurd once you look at the Scriptural data. Go here for a collection of links that will be very helpful in that regard. It will also be beneficial to read some articles on the book of Revelation. The genre of the book and the way it was written effect the way in which it should be validly interpreted.
In my opinion, the hardest claim was the fourth one: "Catholics believe that you can work or buy your way into heaven." The reason this one is so difficult, at least for me anyway, is because it requires you to be very familiar with Scripture. There is just an amazing amount of Scriptural data that bears on this topic, particularly in the writings of Paul, and it can be difficult to figure it all out. Here is my crack at it. You can find some other great articles on this topic here. The big thing to keep in mind is this: whenever a passage of Scripture appears to refute works, it is actually refuting "works of the law", which are either circumcision or various customs and dietary restrictions. The Bible never condemns good works done by the grace of God.
The Catholic Church simply believes that a saving faith is one that informs every action of a person's life. So, naturally, it will manifest itself through a variety of good works. If it does not manifest itself in this way, or if a person stands before God with only evil works to give Him, then he will not be saved. What you'll find is that a lot of protestants actually believe this, it's just that they have such a knee-jerk reaction to the word "work" that they don't realize it.
For articles that respond to the other claims in the poll, see the following:
- "Catholics worship Mary": here
- "Catholics worship statues": here
- "The Catholic Church was founded by Constantine in 313 AD": here
- "The pope is the anti-Christ":