Jesus told the Apostles that there was much more that they would need to know, but that they were not yet ready to understand it all, but when the need for them to know arose, the Holy Spirit would lead them to the right conclusions.
And it happened a dozen year later that there arose a problem for which Jesus had not prepared them. It was this: the Apostles has always been orthodox Jews who never eaten anything that was not kosher, and they had never even entered the hose of Gentles who did not observe kosher. However, the Holy Spirit had come down on Gentiles who did not observe kosher, and the Apostles did not know how to behave when those Gentile Christians invited them to dine with them.
It occurred to them that this was one of those situations in which the Holy Spirit would give them the needed guidance. So they came together in Jerusalem, and they related their recent experiences in which the Holy Spirit had led them to put aside the need to observe kosher.
Afterwards they composed a letter to all the churches in which they formally stated: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden.”
That coming together of the Apostles, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, came about around the year 45 A.D. Since then, over twenty-one centuries, our bishops, the successors of the Apostles, have come together in twenty-one Ecumenical Councils. At them they have sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit for meeting new difficulties.
At the end of the last of those, the Second Vatican Council, the bishops, following the example of the Apostles, issued a formal statement for all the churches. But, the sum of the decisions to which the Holy Spirit directed them went far beyond the decree of that first council, and they have contrasted even more with the decisions of the Council of Trent from four centuries ago.
The decrees of the Council of Trent were defensive documents issued by a church that was rebelled against and attacked on all sides. While it stated that we were the one true church, Vatican II sees all other Christians as either belonging to, or closely related to that true church. While Trent saw humans as born in sin, and alienated from God, Vatican II stated, “The dignity of man consists above all in this that he is called to commune with God, and this invitation to converse with God comes to him at the first moment of his being.”
Trent went so far in demanding our obedience to its stiff regulations that Catholics find it difficult to follow the Holy Spirit and Pope Francis in seeing us all as brothers.
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