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Switch to Forum Live View Am I Catholic even if I don't believe everything the church teaches?
6 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2012 - 10:18AM #1
Posts: 39
I have tried really hard to align myself with the Church, after spending a good year + church hopping and trying to find a church that would be a better fit for me.  But there's always something that isn't quite right, so I decided to just stay in the Catholic church and make the most of it. 

There's more good than bad that I can say about how Catholicism helps me along my spiritual journey, but there are a few things that I simply don't agree with.  I've posted on a Catholic forum and usually get my head bitten off by scrupulous folk who don't seem to have a personal discernment time with the Lord. 

I'm thinking most of what I disagree with the church on is really inconsequetial for me personally, but I worry about this.  The problem I often run into is when Jesus's command to be compassionate and merciful and non-judgmental is overlooked by those who hold fast to the letter of the law instead.

Quick example.  Due to years of infertility and failed adoption attempts, DH and I have turned to embryo adoption as a way to build our family.  I couldn't find any official teaching on the matter, and my discernment told me that Jesus would have me give these embryos a chance at life rather than letting them stay frozen indefinitely or be destroyed simply bc the church disagrees with IVF.  I am convicted that we are doing the Lord's work by choosing this route, especially after having tried traditional adoption and fostering for nearly 4 years.  But I've had Catholics tell me that this is wrong, without any attempt to explain how this attitude affects the frozen embryos.

I do not want to feel judged for the rest of my life when I bring my child to get their sacraments or to religious ed or Mass bc people think it is sinful that my child is alive and in our family!

I've met some holy Catholics (nuns, priests) who likewise spend time in daily discernment with the Lord, and they are the ones who seem more Christ-like and don't fixate on official church teachings.  Instead, they see them as guide posts to be used in one's individual discernment.

I know I should follow their example and just be a discerning Christian who happens to also be Catholic, but the negativity really drags me down.

Thoughts?  Feedback?
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2012 - 11:42AM #2
Posts: 81



I was raised Catholic, made a side-trip into conservative Presbyterianism (might as well call it evangelicalism), then tried to reimmerse myself back in the Catholic Church.  By that time though, it had just become impractical.  When I tried to return, I found out how poorly I really understood the Catholic Church.  I think now that I had never really assimilated to Catholicism very well as a youth--very little of it had actually sunk in, and I base this on my experience trying to return there.

When I went back, I was open to exploring a more involved role in church life instead of being merely a "pew warmer."  An older man offered to get me into the Knights of Columbus, which sounded exciting.  I'd never had such a role in Catholicism before; I was never even an altar-boy.  But there was a problem: in my lapsed years, I had married outside the RCC.  This was evidently bothering some people greatly and it actually suprised me.  But I wouldn't have been surprised had I been steeped in the Faith properly or as well as some others.

I knew then that I had been gone a long time: I mean, I could really feel it, man.  I didn't even seem Catholic to myself, just some sort of cheap pretender or poser.  After a year of reflection, I began trying out Episcopalianism which is more logical for me.  I was a paltry Catholic anyway.  As it was, some of the Protestantism had sunk in: for instance, it was difficult to reject the concept of the "Priesthood of All Believers," even while I was finished with sola scriptura. 

I'm just saying I think I can sympathize with you a little.  Although the Catholic teachings are consistent and I think I can understand the rationale behind them, they are rigid and hard to follow.  My impression is that if someone makes certain decisions and has "a past," it can mean you have little future in the Roman Catholic Church later (but that's just life, anyway).  For instance, someone having an IVF child, or myself marrying an outsider: it can have an effect later on. My solution was to let the RCC go.


"The candle that is set up in us shines bright enough for all our purposes." -John Locke
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2012 - 11:49AM #3
Posts: 39

Thanks for your thoughtful feedback.  I've found the similar liturgical churches to be missing something in the ritual aspect of worship.  I guess I'm a creature of habit.  I also once thought Episcopalian would be the way to go for me, but I just felt out of place during mass.  Like it was a dress rehearsal, or a play, not the real thing.  Weird, I know.  And I found out they OK abortion, which was a huge red light for me.  Although I liked their stance on homosexuality being more liberal. 

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 04, 2012 - 3:03PM #4
Posts: 2,025

Hi Ani,

And welcome to this forum.  I was away, which is why I didn't respond sooner.

You are in a very difficult position.  Do you have a spiritual director?  This might be helpful, if you can find one.

I'm not sure how rigid is the Church's teaching on IVF.  I've not heard any public statements, and I know of a few cases known to priests, and the priests did not make any statement against it.  I don't think the matter will come up, so I personally would not mention it.  This is your child.  If you ever feel guilty, you could mention it in confession. The priest is bound by the seal of confession, even if you do choose face to face, so discrimination against you child doesn't seem to be an issue.

God bless you in your journey.


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6 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 1:30AM #5
Posts: 63



I'm not sure what exactly the Church's teaching is on that matter (or whether that teaching is a matter of faith or one of discipline, which makes some difference!), or how your specific situation intersects with that teaching, but here is what I think, in three parts: 


1. Doing something that violates the Church's teachings is pretty straightforward.  It's a sin.  We all sin.  The potentially problematic part would be a true repentance of that sin.  "Just go ahead and do it now, you can confess it later" doesn't work, of course.  For the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be effective, your repentance has to be true. In other words, you have to be in a position where you honestly would go back and do things differently.  In terms of this embryo adoption thing (I don't even know what that means), I find it hard to imagine myself regretting bringing a child into the world.  How big a deal is it to go to your grave unrepentant?  Well, in the end, that's up to God, of course, but I have a hard time imagining that the Almighty would deny you eternity over something like this if you, on balance, have lived a good and pious life.


2.  Personally believing something in contradiction to Church teachings does constitute you separating yourself from the Church.  Personally, I think that most Catholics are actually in this state, mostly because they don't know what the Church teaches and are honest fools who are simply ignorant of the fact that their beliefs are heretical.  In any case, there's a difference between choosing to violate teachings that you accept as right (for example, those involving pornography, or whatever), and rejecting the teachings themselves, but I don't think that's really the issue that you're struggling with. 


3.  Worst of all would be to go out and knowingly teach others things that you know to contradict Church teachings.  Because you are willfully endangering not merely your own salvation, but that of an innocent, I'd sign on for capital punishment for people like that!


Anyway, I gather that you are set on doing something that you strongly suspect that the Church wouldn't approve of.  I recommend finding out for sure before you worry yourself to death.  If it turns out that your plan is in fact verboten, then you do have a decision to make.  If you choose to go forward, we're all sinners, and the overwhelming majority of us die without being in a perfect state of grace, so I don't think that this one act would damn you.  But I'm not God, so I can't say for sure.  I will say that it speaks well of you that you're agonizing over this instead of just flitting about doing whatever you want whenever you want in the selfish manner of most people today.

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 26, 2012 - 3:58PM #6
Posts: 38

If you were baptized Catholic and publically associate yourself with Catholicism and consider yourself Catholic, then YES you are.  If you have renounced your baptism and notified your bishop that you no longer consider yourself a Catholic, then NO you're not.  It's fairly straight-forward.

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 13, 2012 - 7:12PM #7
Posts: 7

You cannot be a Roman Catholic unless you believe in Roman Catholicism. You do not have the right to maintain a position or belief that is contrary to the Church. If you disagree with this Church, than you are not a Roman Catholic. It's actually very simple.

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5 years ago  ::  Jul 23, 2013 - 12:40PM #8
Posts: 2

Sep 13, 2012 -- 7:12PM, zealot777 wrote:

You cannot be a Roman Catholic unless you believe in Roman Catholicism. You do not have the right to maintain a position or belief that is contrary to the Church. If you disagree with this Church, than you are not a Roman Catholic. It's actually very simple.

i would disagree... you remain Catholic, just a bad one... or a non-practicing one...neither of which does you much good spiritually... it has been previously mention how you renounce being Catholic

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 04, 2013 - 8:12AM #9
Posts: 1

First of all, nos. 2376 and 2377 of the Catechism cover the issue that you're asking about.  Conception of life via a natural sex act between wife and husband is the ONLY morally permissible way of conceiving a child, according to Catholic teaching.

Are you still a Catholic even if you disagree with some Church teachings?  Yes, you are.   You're Catholic by virtue of your baptism.  Like any sacrament, baptism cannot be undone once it's validly administered. 


Whether or not you're a Catholic in good stand is another matter, though. 


Being Catholic is not like being in a political party.  There are Republicans and Democrats who may disagree with one or two items on the party platform, yet still remain in good standing with the party. 

Being Catholic doesn't work that way, though.  It's okay and even natural to ask "why?" and to question Catholic teachings on this and that, but if we're to remain Catholic in the fullest sense, we need to eventually hear the Church out, realize that it's right, and put our faith and trust in it.

There's no place for "cafeteria Catholicism."  True, that's not an easy concept to abide by.  But it wouldn't be much of a challenge if it were easy.  And participating in Christ's True Church is a challenge.  A joyful one, though! 

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 07, 2014 - 5:39AM #10
Posts: 5

The Lord came to SAVE SINNERS ....  And from all that I know about this LOVING SAVIOR of mine, HE did not punish a SINGLE SINNER.... His very disciples denied knowing HIM and deserted HIM in HIS hour of great need.... HE WAS ALL ALONE....     The very people who mocked Him, spat on Him, stripped Him, whipped Him and nailed Him to the Cross  - were forgiven by the Lord instantaneously.... So, I don't see why the Church or we the faithful have to be rigid with our stand/rules and make so much of fuss in forgiving people (even one's spouse for betrayal and unfaithfulness and what not) their sins.....  There is NOT A SINGLE SINNER whom the Lord did not forgive......   And it goes without saying - there is NOT A SINGLE PERSON ON EARTH WHO IS WITHOUT SIN....  

The Lord my God came to HEAL and SAVE SINNERS not to PUNISH and CONDEMN them (us)....

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