At certain points in its history, has the Catholic Church taken off its white hat?

Wearing the white hat means you are acting in a way that is basically moral and for the general good. Taking off the white hat means that for a period of time, you may have good intentions and you may even be playing for the right team, but you and/or the team are pursuing your goals in a way that is definitely wrong and morally reprehensible. And when I ask about the Catholic Church, of course I am talking about the Catholic Church. Capital C, Capital C.

The main purpose of this thread is to have a poll. I haven’t been able to figure out a way to add a poll to a thread that I started weeks ago, so if anyone does know how to do that this thread may become entirely superfluous. At any rate, I’m curious to see how the polling goes.

Are you speaking of doctrine or individual behavior?

The question is meaningless unless we understand the nature of the Catholic Church. In her divinity she is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. She is guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth and cannot err in matters of faith and morals.

In her human nature she is made up of all the baptized, Catholic and non-Catholic. Therefore, you may as well ask if every Evangelical church has always worn the proverbial white hat since all Christians are joined to the Church via baptism, if imperfectly so.

Human beings are still fallen creatures, wounded in our nature, our intellect, and in our wills. We will sin and make mistakes, large and small. In her humanness many in the Church have made mistakes and some have sinned greatly at times. It is why we need constant repentance and vigilance against sin since we battle forces far stronger than our mere human nature can withstand and are constantly under the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil.

The higher a person rises in responsibility, the more he comes under this spiritual attack. Therefore, we need to fervently pray daily for our religious leaders that they will remain true to their calling in Christ to be guides and helps to our salvation.

Most likely none of the above. I don’t think it breaks down to that sort of dichotomy. Of course Catholics are required to believe everything designated as doctrine, but this certainly isn’t about that. It’s about looking back at the actions of the Church throughout its history, and as you look at what’s happened, does the Church take any blame for some bad actions? Or do the heinous things always fall on someone else? I don’t think doctrinal consideration would come into play there, it would have more to do with whether or not duly appointed representatives of the Church acted with ordinary Magisterial authority in the process of doing something that removed the white hat from the Church, acting as the Church and not as a misguided individual who happened to have been baptized as an infant.

Does that clear things up?

If you did ask an Evangelical if Evangelicalism has always worn the proverbial white hat, it would be an easy question and the answer would be no. Putting the question to a Catholic is, or can, be a whole different perspective though.


Differing definitions of what their church is, its authority, and its role throughout history. All those core topics that prove to be the most intractable. That would be my guess, anyway.

Most likely? You are the one who asked the question. :shrug:

Yes. Have you not read of the many apologies made by our recent popes? Of course, we take blame where blame is warranted. We have even accepted responsibility for our part in the so-called “Reformation”. We have never claimed the gift of impeccability. We are a divine institution made up of sinners.

If it were magisterial authority then we would be speaking of doctrinal issues.

No. Why don’t you give us an example of where you believe the Church has not accepted responsibility where its members have acted contrary to the Gospel? Then maybe we can have something substantive to discuss.

I may be getting a little confused on terms. What I’m attempting to talk about is actions taken where the action would be something that’s “done with magisterial authority,” as opposed to something that’s “taught with magisterial authority.” I’m not attempting to do anything silly like…say that doctrine has changed, or that Catholics ought to believe this doctrine or that doctrine is wrong. I know how well those issues are ring-fenced, and I’m not trying to go there. I suppose I thought that there was such a thing as an action or series of actions for which the Magisterium could rightly claim responsibility in whole or in part, without necessarily promulgating any new doctrine in the process of doing stuff. I mean, not just doing stuff in daily life, but in the capacity of the workplace, and taking action under the pretence of having divine authority to do so. But again, without forming doctrine that all Catholics must believe in. If that is an actual thing, I would refer to it as Church leaders acting (not teaching or creating doctrine, but acting) with Magisterial authority.

Is that a thing? Now that you mention it I’m not entirely sure.

Why don’t you give us an example of where you believe the Church has not accepted responsibility where its members have acted contrary to the Gospel? Then maybe we can have something substantive to discuss

I’ve been doing that on a different thread and I slowly discovered that I may have been putting the cart before the horse. And I don’t really want to do all that on two different threads.

I see no difference in essence between Evangelical claims to authority only that on which it is based.

And I saw a lot of “sanctioned” bad behavior in Evangelical circles when I was in the Assemblies of God.

If a bishop orders someone to do something that is wrong, he does not have the authority to do that. Obedience in the Church is not absolute–it is based on what is morally right/wrong.

So, if my priest told me I had to do something wrong I’d tell him he was wrong. Catholics are not puppets on strings. Our moral teacher is Christ. Never has the Church taught anything contrary to Christ’s moral teaching, unlike many other ecclesial bodies who are their own authority based on their rejection of the authority Christ appointed–the Catholic Church.

You are carefully framing this in such a way as to pick a different question and answer that one instead. Never in this thread have I asked you to tell me whether the Church taught anything contrary to Christ’s moral teaching (doctrinally, I presume). Never did I ever do that. But that is the question you have chosen to answer.

I asked if the Catholic Church has ever, at any point, taken off the white hat. Your response to a different question (one of your own making) leads me to believe you’re inclined to say the white hat always stays on, but I don’t know for sure.

None of the above.

This poll resembles a lead in question by a prosecutor. Another thinly veiled attack on the Catholic Church.

I would have to agree completely with Della’s remarks and don’t think they are off base in the least. What are we to imply in one taking off their white hat? Does that not mean acting contrary to the Gospel in some way, and in context with your question, in a way sanctioned by the Church herself?

Why don’t you just give us an example of that which you speak, if you believe it exists. Otherwise this conversation is pointless.

Is it a Catholic Church that always wears a white hat?

Ok, I’ll give you one concrete example. After the second wave of battles in the Albigensian Crusade, Catholics in the north of Italy were not terribly supportive of the fighting. From what they knew of the Cathars that lived among them, their sense of morality tended to be exemplary, they were pacifists and good neighbors. They had bad doctrine and were certainly heretics if not entirely non-Christian, but good people who didn’t deserve to die. This, at least, is what Catholics in the north of Italy had to say.

In order to combat the spread of disfavor toward the Crusade, the Catholic clergy in Italy launched a campaign of vilification against these heretics. They knowingly (and quite effectively) bore false witness to the tune of incest, homosexuality, and bestiality among other things that weren’t necessarily all sexual, claiming that the heretics encouraged these things and did them in secret. As a matter of fact, the French word associated with the ethnic origin of some medieval gnostic dualist heretics came to be closely associated with homosexual acts, and that word, once associated thusly, made its way into the English lexicon strictly as a pejorative term having nothing whatever to do with ethnicity by that point- and that is why “bugger” means what it means. Did you ever wonder about that? I did. It’s derived from a French term for Bulgar, but it retains none of its ethnic implications.

At any rate. That particular crusade was questionable in and of itself, but when the Catholic clergy engaged in a coordinated effort to spread misinformation via propaganda in the interest of helping the laity be more hawkish, that would be a time when the Catholic Church removed its white hat. By the way, some of your modern or near-modern Catholic historians will present those details about the Albigensians as if they are basic historical fact, but they are actually lies and it’s a textbook example of bearing false witness on a large scale.

That doesn’t involve the promulgation of any particular teaching that is binding on the conscience of all Catholics, it’s just some lies about heretics designed to help people hate them more. But I would say it is an example of the Catholic Church removing its white hat.

In my defense, you did ask for it. Repeatedly. Does that satisfy you?

The simple and unequivocal answer is yes. The Church that Christ established, its doctrines and teachings, lead in all truth by the Holy Spirit wears a white hat. As stated before the sinners within is a different thing/subject. So the question again is what Catholic doctrine or teaching is not about wearing a white hat?

To “take off one’s white hat”, it seems one would have to willfully choose to endorse or perform those heinous acts you thinly reference. So, no, I don’t believe the Church has done this, at any time, though certainly members of the Church have from time to time.

I haven’t followed your posts, OP, but have to wonder if you wouldn’t have more honest, fruitful dialogue if you were more forthright in your questioning. I wonder why it is you aren’t doing that.

So its about the individuals in the Church and not its doctrines and teachings.

Yes. I thought the same thing. I didn’t vote, and decline to comment. Despite the OP’s handle, (name) Della’s got this one. :wink:

Are you familiar with the term “ring-fence”? The way I’m using the term, it means there are certain things that the Catholic Church asserts about itself clearly and unequivocally, and in such a way that no answer, response, or protest is invited except to say “I am a Catholic and therefore I agree” or “I am not a Catholic and you can feel free to cheer for the possibility of invincible ignorance.”

I am reasonably familiar with the things that are ring-fenced. Catholic doctrine does not change, and Catholic doctrine is inerrant in matters of faith and morals, insofar as doctrine is appropriately defined and understood.

I know how it is with these issues. What I’m asking about here may be tangentially related to those issues, but it is not one and the same as those issues.

I am intentionally asking about something that is not necessarily ring-fenced like those other things are. If it is ring-fenced, it is not done so in a way that is as clear or obvious to anybody. It is possible that it is legitimately debatable, and the nature of this line of questioning is such that it cannot be quickly dismissed by the same ring-fenced assertions that you are most likely to be in the practice of making. I am doing this very intentionally, and now I am telling you about that in the most explicit terms possible.

Also, your question at the end of your last response seemed a little incoherent.

I hope you can start to figure this out.

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