Evangelicals, who lack information about the Roman Catholic system, do not realize the elevated view of the priests. In America and in public, they seem more like regular guys who wear strange uniforms.
However, Catholic publisher TAN books recently reprinted a book called The Dignity and Duties of the Priest by Alphonsus Liguori. Liguori lived in the 18th century and is billed as a "Doctor of the Church." The publisher's preface describes the vaulted view of this book and its author: "Thus, it is with great joy and sacrifice that we printed 50,000 copies of this great spiritual classic of St. Alphonsus, a Doctor of the Church and one of the greatest Saints."
Liguori is in the same league with Augustine, Loyola and Chrysostom, as "fathers of the church." Their writings are considered central in defining Roman Catholic beliefs. They are cited in any discussion of basic Vatican teachings. Ligouri's description of the office of the Roman priest is solid Catholic teachings and shocking to the Evangelical Christian who views the priest as just another brother in Christ.
Consider the following quotes taken from Part 1, Chapter 1: "...the priesthood is the most sublime of all created dignities." "The priesthood is an astounding miracle, great, immense, and infinite." "...the priest of God is exalted above all earthly sovereignties, and above all celestial heights —he is inferior only to God." "... the priest is placed between God and man; inferior to God, but superior to man." "Through respect for the sacerdotal dignity, St. Mary of Oignies used to kiss the ground on which a priest had walked."
So much for the "dignity" of the priest. The "duties" are equally unbiblical. "Priests are chosen by God to manage on earth all his concerns and interests." "Jesus has died to institute the priesthood. It was not necessary for the Redeemer to die in order to save the world."
Liguori describes what happens when the priest works his magic of turning a wafer into the "real presence," the "body, soul and divinity" of Jesus: "God Himself descends on the altar, that He comes wherever they call Him, and as often as they call Him, and places Himself in their hands, even though they should be His enemies.
"And after having come, He remains, entirely at their disposal; they move Him as they please, from one place to another; they may, if they wish, shut Him up in the tabernacle, or expose Him on the altar, or carry Him outside the church; they may, if they choose, eat His flesh and give Him for the food of others.... Never did Divine goodness give such power to the Angels. The Angels abide by the order of God, but the priests take Him in their hands, distribute Him to the faithful, and partake of Him as food for themselves."
The priest, also, decides who gets to heaven: "The priest has the power of the keys, or the power of delivering sinners from Hell, of making them worthy of Paradise, and of changing them from the slaves of Satan into the children of God. And God Himself is obliged to abide by the judgment of His priests, and either not to pardon or to pardon, according as they refuse or give absolution."
This is but a small sample of the unbiblical traditions that the popes have used to make "the commandment of God of none effect." (Matt. 15:6) Knowledge of Liguori's writings can be a powerful help in witnessing to Roman Catholics. They go through their rituals believing that they do not need to understand the "mysteries" behind them. The new Chick tract, Papa?, will open their eyes to some of these false doctrines.