Am I in communion?

Not sure where this belongs so feel free to move.

There are certain areas of Church teaching that I have difficulty accepting, however I am prepared to live by them. For some I know (or think I know) the arguments and cannot 100% say that I agree with the teaching (i.e. if I was an atheist, my view would not agree with what the Church teaches). With one in particular I am 180 degrees away from the Church (at least by my understanding). I accept that I may not be familiar with the arguments on this issue, but I feel that I would be hard to convince (there may be a thread coming up in the Moral Theology forum about this, or more likely a fundamental underlying issue. I don’t want to mention the specifics here because my concern is determining my state of communion, not to hear arguments on the specific issue). Is being willing to live by the teaching and learn the argument enough to be in communion. What if I learn the arguments and am not convinced?

You’re fine. The Church doesn’t expect everyone to fully understand everything, but having an open heart and mind is the right attitude to have.

Still, God doesn’t want us to be convinced as much as he wants us to be holy. Our eternal destiny is more important to him than us understanding any amount of theology. Every time we recite one of the Creeds and receive the Eucharist we are stating that we are in union with Christ and his Church. What we are struggling to understand is a personal matter between us, God and our priest.

Also, you may want to ask if you are being more influenced by the secular culture around you than by the teachings of Christ. For the teachings of the Church are his teachings, not just of popes and bishops and priests. :wink:

I can see where the OP is coming from because I am in the same place. I am increasingly coming to the point where I can not honestly say that I believe some things defined as essential to the faith.

I’d say your desire to be in communion and willingness to lead a life according to Church guidelines, meaning that you’re fine. You sound a lot like me with Church teaching on contraception. I have been to Theology of the Body and really understand what the Church teaches. I could spout off enough information to sound like a proponent of the teaching. However, reality is that I’m not really 100% all in and convinced.

It’s perfectly fine to disagree with certain beliefs the Church teaches, but all Catholics do need to be obedient to that teaching. For example, many people disagree with the Church’s teaching that the marital act must be procreative. It’s perfectly fine for them to disagree with the teaching, but they still need to obey it. Choosing not to follow the teaching would not excuse them from the potentially grave sin they would incur by disobeying it.

Not infallible teachings. They MUST be believed.

And what happens if you don’t believe them?

CCC 2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

Of course, it has to be “willful refusal to assent” and “obstinate…denial” not merely doubts. :slight_smile:

In our highly secular times, when we are taught that the majority knows best and that our individual feelings/leanings are more important than truth (with the culture’s outright denial that there is any truth, except what one wants to be believe), it’s not surprising that even people of faith wrestle with assent and many with obedience.

Jesus could never convince all his disciples of everything, either, even though the people were eager for their Messiah. And many turned away from him because they couldn’t understand. Revealed truth cannot be proved in the way other truths can. We have to have faith that it is true–not a blind faith without reason or logic, but a faith that trusts even when such faith goes against the onslaught of “the world, the flesh, and the devil.”

We need to have hope that all things will work together for our good if we are obedient and have faith. Sometimes such hope seems like “a fool’s hope” as Tolkien put it. But God does not fail us. If we trust in his Church’s teachings everything will come out as it should, even if we cannot see it in moments of crisis. For faith is not faith if we decide what we will believe and what we won’t. And hope isn’t hope if we despair when circumstances go against us, is it? :wink:

Thanks for the correction. =) I guess it’s obvious some teachings must be believed for a person to call themselves Catholic. I do hope that they will update the Catechism some day to include a list of infallible teachings. I found some articles on this but always prefer it from an official publication.

The Church will never issue a list of infallible and non-infallible teachings, the reason being Catholics are BOUND by both so there is no need for lists.
The CCC contains a summary of the infallible and non-infallible teachings.

This might be of interest to you.

Dogmas and Doctrines

Doctrine - any truth taught by the Church as necessary for acceptance by the faithful.

The truth may be either formally revealed (as the Real Presence), or a theological conclusion (as the canonization of a saint), or part of the natural law (as the sinfulness of contraception). In any case, what makes it doctrine is that the Church authority teaches that it is to be believed. This teaching may be done either solemnly in ex cathedra pronouncements or decision of an ecumenical council, or this teaching may be taught ordinarily in the exercise of the Church’s magisterium or teaching authority.

Dogmas are those doctrines which the Church proposes for belief as formally revealed by God.

The difference in Dogmas and Doctrines is the level of certainty with which the magisterium teaches. Dogmas are taught with absolute certainty (beyond all doubt whatsoever), whereas doctrines are taught with moral certainty (similar to beyond reasonable doubt).

Dogmas require the assent of faith, meaning that obstinate doubt or denial of the truth of the dogma is the sin of heresy–a sin against the virtue of faith.

Doctrines require religious submission of intellect and will. Refusal to submit to doctrines of the Church is not a heresy, not a sin against faith, but a sin against charity. We are called to “obey our leaders and submit to them” (Heb 13:17). To dissent with doctrine is incompatible with humility, loyalty, and charity. It is a matter of placing one’s own fallible intellect and will above that of the mind of the Holy Catholic Church.

See also the following Instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which describes the difference between “dissent” and “difficulty” in assenting to doctrines.

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19900524_theologian-vocation_en.html

I think Blessed John Henry Newman’s difficulty vs doubt analysis may be useful here. In the language he is using, a “difficulty” is a pretty natural thing for anybody who believes anything about anything to have (and is not anywhere close to a sin in the Catholic Church), and is distinguished from a doubt (which is problematic, in this usage of the term) as follows:

However, as John Henry Newman observed, a difficulty is not a doubt. The person with a difficulty says, “How can that be so?” whereas a person who doubts says, “That can’t be so!”

More here: m.ncregister.com/site/article/blessed-john-henry-newman-explains-faith-doubts-and-difficulties

The short version: whether or not the questions you have about Church teaching separate you from the Church is up to you and how you handle them. But the mere fact that you find some teachings difficult certainly does not by itself.

I do encourage you to explore these difficulties entirely though, the answer should never be to ignore them in hopes that they’ll go away.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.