Bless you for wishing to have discussions with him. Best of luck to you. It has been my experience that people who make such blanket statements as you share below are generally open to actual conversation about it…but it is good to be prepared.
]I have a friend, a good husband and father, who being once a faithful Catholic, has gone under the influence of the liberal circles and came to conclusion that one can actually believe in God but not necessarily the Church.
Well this is certainly true…there are many who believe in God who do not believe in “the Church” and some who reject any and all organized “churches”. So I think it important to recognize this so that you don’t wind up arguing about things better left until later.
He is convinced that the Catholic hierarchy is trying to secretly influence politics,
My reply to this would be that I don’t think there is anything particularly secret about it. Of course the Church is trying to influence politics. Why should we, as a group, not do what every other group tries to do?
the Vatican is a dodgy bunch of mafiosos and every priest is a pedophile.
This is just a bunch of polemics that frankly I would ignore.
He is generally keen on talking about it, so I decided to try and explain him how wrong he is. Any tips on how I should speak with him? I want to lay foundations for the further conversation and start from the papal infallibility, is it a good idea? I think another topic I may struggle with will be Sacred Tradition, how to defend that?
I am not a great apologist. I am sure that others will give much better advice. However I will offer a couple of tips.
- Meet him where he is. If he affirms scripture, then start there. Jesus is very clear about the importance and authority of community - the “Church” (Ekklesia) in Mt 18:15-18. This authority is also clearly demonstrates in Acts 15. St Paul calls the Church the Pillar and Bulwark of Truth in 1 Timothy 3:15. Also look at what Paul says in Eph 3:10
- As him to Consider how much emphasis Jesus and the Apostles placed on Unity in the Church.
John 17:20-21, Rom 15:5-6, 1 Cor 1:10, 2 Cor 13:11, Php 1:27, 1 Pet 3:8
- Do not become involved in conversations that cannot be substantiated. Comments like “the Vatican is a bunch of mafioso”, are best simply ignored. Try to make the conversations about teachings rather than persons or personalities.
As I said, others will be able to give you links and more specific advice on things like Papal infallibility and Sacred Tradition…My main advice is to be patient and start where he is, which is in Scripture.
How can I save his soul?
You cannot save his soul. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. The best you can do is to plant seeds.