RUMBEK, Sudan, JULY 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The bishop of Rumbek in south Sudan is urging Catholics to strengthen their instruction in the faith to avoid being drawn away from the Church by a new sect.
Bishop Cesare Mazzolari affirmed this in a pastoral letter addressed to all Catholics and Christians of the region, Catholic Information Service for Africa reported Wednesday.
He stated, “I am clearly and strongly alerting you, dear Christians, that people who call themselves The Reformed Catholic Church, in all truth, are no longer acceptable members of the Catholic Church and you should not follow them.”
The prelate advised avoiding these people and “their influence on your lives as Christians” lest they “lead you away from the truth and the true faith.”
He explained that members of this church have “abandoned obedience not only to the Pope,” but have also dropped “the state of priestly celibacy.”
They are not obeying “all of the ten commandments of God, as the Catholic Church teaches,” the bishop added.
He asserted that these “false teachers” have “chosen a stray path” and are “confusing people.”
He explained, “These teachers are merely imitating the external ceremonies of the Church and some of its practices, but theirs is a false religion, not the Catholic faith that we know.”
Followers of the Reformed Catholic Church are “perfect copy cats,” Bishop Mazzolari warned, imitating prayers, readings, and external ceremonies so that “simple people” think they are attending a Catholic Mass.
He continued: “Be advised that these are false practices, not Catholic practices. Do not attend such services or you will only become confused.”
The prelate explained that the members criticize Catholic teachings and “put down the leaders of the Church.”
He added that these “reformed Catholics” will “appeal to the struggle of the people as something which the traditional Catholic Church is not able to cope with or resolve.”
“This idea also is entirely false,” the bishop asserted, “because the Church has been very close to the people and its leaders to obtain peace and the needed reconciliation.”
He continued: “In the end, they will try to make simple people become dissatisfied with their traditional Catholic Church so that they will join their reformed church, which however is not the Catholic Church.
“In that imitation church any misled person will find him or herself alone and lost in total confusion.”
The prelate urged the faithful to “seek the truth.”
Bishop Mazzolari warned that these “reformed members” will “misguide you to become bitter with your Church as they are bitter, and to disobey the laws of the Church, which they already do, and to lose your precious gift of faith.”
He added, “Losing your faith, you have lost the most valuable gift that God has ever given you.”
“We today call you to seek the truth,” he urged, “and the truth is only found in Christ and in the Church which he founded.”
The prelate appealed to Catholics to “pray, discern and receive instruction so that together we seek and follow the truth.”
He continued: “Be alert and stay faithful to your priests, sisters, and brothers in your apostolic teams. Pray together more often, and with deeper faith.”
The bishop exhorted the people to meet with priests and religious to talk about the doubts and false opinions being spread in the community, and to seek instruction for the entire family by those who are faithful to Church teachings.
“Help each other not to be drawn in,” he urged.
Bishop Mazzolari appealed to the catechists to resist the temptation to be “bought away by any money or promise” and to keep from teaching false doctrine.
He ended with a prayer that the Lord will “nourish you with the courage to know and to love the truth of our faith and to defend it.”