Can reading anti-Catholic books be a mortal sin?

I was doubtful of whether the Catholic Church is the true Church, so I decided to read up on a few arguments against Catholics, and then read the Catholic perspective of it to see which one was more reasonable. Turns out, almost all of the times, the Catholic explanation was clearer and much more in depth, such as interpreting scripture. The Catholic explanation usually dives into the original Greek words of the text to explain their relevance and how it contributes to the meanings of certain words, whereas Protestants just take the scriptures through their own interpretation.

I know that the Church greatly does not encourage us reading these books, but if I read this for the right reason (strengthening my faith, overcoming doubts) would it still be a sin?

1 Like

I think that you have done exactly the right thing: explore all viewpoints and then make a decision on your specific view.

Never stop doing this.

1 Like

Yeah, I agree with Bradski, actually. An unexamined, uncritical faith is fine for children, but adults need more depth. You don’t need to put yourself in some kind of bubble.

1 Like

I think it depends on why; if you’re doing it to justify your outright hostility towards certain Church teachings or what not than yes I think that could be a mortal sin but if you are doing it to figure out why we believe what we believe and why other people have such a problem with it than I don’t think it necessarily is. I would like to recommend to you Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating. I will tell you it is full of quotes from very anti-Catholic books but if it were not so Mr. Keating could not have written a book. I think it’s important at least to some extent for apologists to familiarise themselves with anti-Catholicism. I think it’s really hard to fight something you don’t see

Reading isn’t so much the problem, it’s believing them that is!


The Church doesn’t encourage reading anti-Catholic material if you might be easily swayed and possibly leave the faith. But it’s not a sin, and as others have said, reading with a critical mind is a good thing. The Church is all for a reasoned faith :slight_smile: Apologists have to read such materials all the time so they know how to rationally defeat arguments against the Church. Be at peace.

1 Like

Dead right. If we stay in a bubble, we can fall victim to the first anti-Catholic door knockers who come along, complete with their supposed overwhelming Bible knowledge. But we have to keep our blood pressure under control when reading this stuff, although i managed to endure the late Jack Chick’s tape version of “Smokescreens”. :eek:

Ditto. Before reading that book and hearing a few Scott Hahn tapes, i had the idea that some of the Church’s doctrines were just made up to make certain things look “nice”. Definitely thought Purgatory was made up. So it teaches some good doctrine as well.

I will tell you it is full of quotes from very anti-Catholic books but if it were not so Mr. Keating could not have written a book. I think it’s important at least to some extent for apologists to familiarise themselves with anti-Catholicism. I think it’s really hard to fight something you don’t see

What i found about the anti-Catholics is that they betray themselves by their lies against us. Once heard a Seventh Day Adventist pastor say that we worship the sun. Even as an acne-faced know-nothing 16y/o, i knew that was wrong.
Karl Keating’s expose’ of Boettner’s “Roman Catholicism” was a damning eye opener.

Indeed, and thank the Lord, my school had books that where overflowing with anti catholic ideas, which I partly why I lost my faith as a teen. :shrug:

(Regained it 10 years ago)

1 Like

If you have a doubt about the teaching of the Church, and decide to read materials that are an apologetic against the Church’s teaching with which you are struggling, is that sinful?

Contrary to what others have said, yes, it is.

Your first obligation is to (a) find out precisely what the teaching is and (b) find out the rationale behind it. The Church does not arbitrarily create doctrines because she finds the whole experience exhilarating. She does so because, through a specific order of reasoning that has been guided by the Holy Spirit, she has arrived at that truth. Our obligation as lay people is to understand that reasoning while exercising the virtue of piety, which is the proper honor due to those in authority over us.

Does this mean we may never read books that are apologetics against the faith? No. It means that we should not do so without sincere necessity and while exercising prudence without overestimating our own education. Don’t give in to mere curiosity, which is the vice of having an unmoderated desire for knowledge beyond your state in life. If you are not a scholar, don’t lust after the knowledge of scholars.

Now, inevitably, the modern person will say, “Oh, that’s so anti-intellectual! I prefer to be scholarly and objective. This sounds so biased.”

This is a wonderful appeal to the narcissism of our age, where anyone who can Google is suddenly a free-thinking intellectual. But this assumes that the average individual has even one-tenth of the necessary education to address certain fundamental aspects of philosophy or theology in a sincerely objective and sincerely scholarly manner.

The vast majority of us simply read books that are either popular-level or simply out and out polemics. About whatever perspective we should desire to learn more about. The vast majority of us simply do not have the ability, lack the formation, to do anything more than that. For us, our education happens to be rooted in the particular books we’ve chosen to read. And no one, absolutely no one, can acquire doctoral-level expertise in the dozens of requisite fields to TRULY be objective and TRULY be scholarly. There is no thinker out there who has absolutely exhausted human knowledge and has arrived at the most intellectually sound position possible. We have all stopped where we thought the evidence has sufficiently proved our case to a probable degree. That includes the many who wear a social mask of atheism, where they can exalt their own intellect without revealing the thousands and thousands of limitations they’re constrained by.

So we all are in the same boat. But the Catholic, indeed, does not believe that faith is wrangled out of the hands of a scholar or out of a book. We don’t believe in some sort of intellectual yoga wherein we can position ourselves in just the right manner to see things as they really are.

No. God grants us the ability to say yes to divine revelation, lest any man should boast in his own intellect, or claims that he has, all on his own, wrestled truth out of God. That ability is called faith, and without it, we can only have a human opinion.

1 Like

It isn’t inherently sinful to read anti-Catholic books.

We all have to be put to the test, and if we eventually succeed, we come out stronger.

Well maybe, but I do not think the reason why i lost my faith was a test.

I was being bullied and ridiculed by the guides who where supposed to look after me in a institutions full of over tense angry teens after my adopted father died in am accident, plus I had to deal with a lot of bad stuff in my school as well.

You can not make rational decisions when you are overwrought, so when I was bombarded with a huge load of anti-catholic sentiment my faith cracked. :shrug:
(The history books they had mostly)

No, if it was the catholic church would be fascist. Sort of like book burning

Yes it can.

The Da Vinci Code was strongly recommended by the Vatican not to be read by any catholics, lest the lies in it corrupt any Catholic into leaving the church, or doubting Our Lord’s celibacy.

A very good Catholic I know, became an atheist for a while, after reading the Da Vinci code book. The lies in the book completely corrupted their faith. (so prayers for this person please :)!

As am extra note:
Even the conspiracy theorist who first suggested Jesus was not celibate himself said the whole theory was a myth and without evidence.

I think it depends on with what mindset you are reading the literature. If from an apologetics standpoint how would one defend the faith if one does not know what the “other side” is thinking and saying. It can give a good starting point for creating a solid argument.

I don’t know the person, but my take is that if his/her faith was shaken by a silly fad novel like The Da Vinci Code, it was probably very fragile to begin with. It’s like saying, “my fence was blown over by a gentle spring breeze.” If a gentle spring breeze knocked over the fence, it was probably teetering on the edge anyway.

I was going to say the same thing. I have read anti-Catholic books & most anti-Catholic writings are pretty pathetic. But you still have to be careful about taking them at face value. Most of them misunderstand the teachings of the Church & its history. So if you read them, be willing to do the work & check out their claims.


Her faith must not have been that strong to begin with IMHO. :shrug:

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