Believing in God, hating the Church

How to speak to people who, according to their words, believe in God and generally approve what the Scripture teaches but vigorously hate the Catholic Church?

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. He is convinced that the Catholic hierarchy is trying to secretly influence politics, the Vatican is a dodgy bunch of mafiosos and every priest is a pedophile.

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?

How can I save his soul? :confused:

I would start from covenantal theology first. If someone is disinclined to like authority, I wouldn’t start with the Pope. Unless he is like me and loves a heated debate and you are good friends. Maybe then. But the points that will win his heart are covenantal.

We are a family. From creation we are supposed to eat, live and worship together as a family. Adam and Eve, Abraham and his extended family, David and his kingdom, the Pope and every single member of the Church militant, Christ and all people from all time who make up the entire Church, we are a family. We have common traditions, common beliefs, common practices. We eat, live and worship together. Liberals love inclusion, the Church is inclusive. One just has to want to be in it.

That’s a lot of ground (with little in common). Ask him what is the thing that he objects to the MOST, and focus on that (feel free to bring that to our attention for support). If you can address his #1 objection, maybe he will feel more favorably inclined to the idea that the Church can also address his other lesser objections.

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.

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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? :confused:

You cannot save his soul. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. The best you can do is to plant seeds.

Peace
James

I would suggest getting some tracts on the subjects you want to discuss with him, from the CAF web and first you read them and then ask him to read them, maybe one at a time. I think you can print them off. You can’t ‘save his soul’, only God can do that, but you can certainly help him learn how. Pray for him as I will also. God Bless, Memaw

Hi MarcinL,

Please note what a previous poster said:

This is an excellent point! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can do it all yourself. A person’s journey to God is just that, a journey! You should feel free to defend the faith and help him understand, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it all falls on you to convert him. That would be prideful.

I don’t think that was your intention, but if you go about it with that attitude, I think you’ll be a much more effective tool for God to use in conversion.

Final thought: People do not convert people, God does!

God bless!

Thank you smichhertz, Memaw, JRKH, DavidFilmer, UbiCaritas15! Especially the ‘saving his soul’ bit was the good point :blush: Was it just the wording or my pride? I hope not the latter. I do know only God can save souls, it was just that I felt so much He was calling me to help.

Well, Omnia in Bonum! I spoke to my friend and we actually just finished a heated (in a good way) conversation at 3am (!).

He wanted to speak about the authority of the Church and the Pope and how they can actually tell people how to live. So I explained the Holy Spirit being with the Church and that it does not mean every priest must always be right in everything they say but it is only in regards to morality and faith within the authority given to the Pope and bishops by Jesus. He was really open, thank God. I had also prayed for him and offered up sacrifices for many days before today’s conversation.

Next week I am going to my monthly Evening of Recollection and I have invited my friend to go with me. There is a meditation prepared by a priest and a talk by a lay person - I want to show him the Church that does not consist of elderly ladies only (the meeting is for men).

I am so glad I spoke to him.

Thanks for your advice again and God bless. I will pray for you all, please pray for my friend J. as well. Thanks :slight_smile:

No problem. I think we all stumble over how to word things sometimes.

Well, Omnia in Bonum! I spoke to my friend and we actually just finished a heated (in a good way) conversation at 3am (!).

He wanted to speak about the authority of the Church and the Pope and how they can actually tell people how to live. So I explained the Holy Spirit being with the Church and that it does not mean every priest must always be right in everything they say but it is only in regards to morality and faith within the authority given to the Pope and bishops by Jesus. He was really open, thank God. I had also prayed for him and offered up sacrifices for many days before today’s conversation.

Praise be to God. Obviously your sense of calling was right. Your friend was ready to hear and the Lord had prepared you to say the right things. :thumbsup:

Next week I am going to my monthly Evening of Recollection and I have invited my friend to go with me. There is a meditation prepared by a priest and a talk by a lay person - I want to show him the Church that does not consist of elderly ladies only (the meeting is for men).

This sounds perfect.
Connected with this idea of the church not consisting of elderly ladies only…introduce him to some Knights of Columbus. :thumbsup:

I am so glad I spoke to him.

Me too. Isn’t it wonderful when something you fear (is that the right word?) works out so well?

Thanks for your advice again and God bless. I will pray for you all, please pray for my friend J. as well. Thanks :slight_smile:

Prayers forthcoming for you both.

Peace
James

P.S.
It always amazes me when people get upset over the Church “telling people how to live”, but think nothing at all about how the government and society in general does the same thing? :shrug:

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.