Defender of the Faith: Bishop Stika Responds to Distribution of Anti-Catholic Tracts
''The leaflets produced by Chick Publications are hateful, discriminatory, and full of prejudice and bigotry.'
Bishop Richard F. Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville, Defender of the Faith.
KNOXVILLE, TN. (Catholic Online) - In March of 2009 the faithful of Knoxville received a special gift, Bishop Richard Stika. Beloved by the faithful, we understand that this wonderful Bishop has had to deal with a lot since he responded to the invitation of the Holy Spirit working through the Church.
As a Bishop in the South, that includes having to face the anti-Catholic hostility of some Christians who not only are terribly misinformed about the Catholic Christian faith but actually participate in promoting virulently Anti-Catholic literature. There are few examples worse than the notorious "Jack Chick" tracts. One of the worst is the horrid anti-Catholic tract entitled "The Death Cookie" which denigrates the most Holy Eucharist, calling it a "death cookie". It is sacrilegious, blasphemous and disgusting!
These hateful and virulently Anti-Catholic "tracts" were being distributed in this Bishop's Diocese. They were disturbing the faithful and misinforming those Christians of other communities who are called to find the fullness of Christian faith in the full communion of the Catholic Church. They were also also causing a controversy among the faithful.
So, what did this Bishop do? He did not sit idly by. He did not delegate the task to a member of his staff. Rather, he defended the Catholic Faith handed down to us from the Apostles. In so doing he demonstrated both his skill as a Catholic apologist and his courage as Bishop. He is indeed a successor of the Apostles in this new missionary age.
As someone who has spent over three decades in authentic ecumenical work, experiencing both the fulfillment and the struggle, I know the challenge very well. I also know how important it is for Bishops like this one to show us how to respond to this kind of attack against our beloved Catholic faith while remembering that "to those to whom much is given, much will be required."
We present the statement of this good Bishop as a model for how we are all called to defend the Catholic faith against attack while using every opportunity to instruct those who are misinformed...and even reach out to those who are Anti-Catholic. We also commend this good Bishop for showing us all the way. That is what it means to be a true teacher of the faithful and a Catholic Bishop.
Bishop Stika responds to distribution of anti-Catholic tracts
KNOXVILLE- Bishop Richard F. Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville has made the following statement in response to the recently publicized distribution of anti-Catholic tracts in Pigeon Forge:
"The Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville includes 47 parishes and 36 counties in East Tennessee, including Holy Cross Parish in Pigeon Forge. As bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, I wish first to state my deep respect and love for my Protestant brothers and sisters, with whom we acknowledge and worship but one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ-and for all the members of other faiths, with whom we also share certain foundational beliefs.
I also wish to acknowledge the many Christian denominations, including the many Baptist churches in East Tennessee, with whom we pray and work in solidarity, according to the truths of the Gospel, in order to promote a culture of life. This culture of life is based on a Christian anthropology that recognizes man and woman as images of God, an essential truth for the formation of a correct vision of society. I am thinking also of our shared efforts in promoting and protecting the sanctity and dignity of every person in the womb and of the holy institution of marriage and the family as our Heavenly Creator designed them to be.
At this moment, however, I am greatly saddened by the reprehensible acts of prejudice and hatred of a few souls who, out of ignorance of Catholic teachings, have promoted the distribution of anti-Catholic tracts. These tracts contain outright lies and blatant exaggerations.
The rationale one Baptist pastor gave in support of distributing these reprehensible, discriminatory, and bigoted tracts was that he was trying to point out the primary difference his church has with Catholics: the belief that a person does not and cannot work his or her way to salvation. Unfortunately, this pastor does not have a correct understanding of what the Catholic faith teaches in this regard-and he even admitted as much.
In Catholic theology, the term justification means the cleansing of a personīs sin and the communication - by grace - of "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" (Romans 3:22) through baptism. Additionally, Catholics take very seriously the Sacred Scripture, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" ( James 2:24).
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