Can somebody disagree?

Somebody is going through the RCIA process. They are ready to embrace Catholicism, but they have a hangup on one of the teachings of the Church, and aren’t sure if they can accept it. They ask you if they should still become Catholic, even though they don’t think they can accept this teaching.

What would you say?

The response most would have would be “it depends on the teaching they are having trouble accepting”. So let’s take a list of some examples:

[LIST]
*]The Eucharist
*]Original Sin
*]NFP and Contraception
*]Abortion
*]Homosexuality
*]Papal Infallibility
*]Contraception
*]Immaculate Conception
*]Assumption of Mary
*]Just War
*]Filioque
*]The Rosay
[/LIST]

Should one still become Catholic if they disagree with one of these teachings? Which one(s)?

I think it’s normal for a person to have doubts about things and to have difficulty understanding some teachings that are so opposed to what the world teaches. However, I don’t think it’s right to join the Church in order to try and change it. You should join the Church because you believe it’s the true Church that Christ established. If that’s the case, one has to accept her teachings, even if one struggles to understand them.

Like you said, I think it depends on the issue. If someone doesn’t like saying the rosary, well, that’s not such a huge issue; they can find other devotions to pray. But if someone doesn’t believe in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, they probably shouldn’t become Catholic until that’s a doctrine they’re willing to accept, because the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic-Christian faith.

Don’t take my word for certain, though; I’m by no means a doctrinal scholar.

I can only speak from experience, but I can say that I did not decide to join the Catholic Church until I had resolved any difficulties I had with ALL of their teachings. It wasn’t easy, because I had been societally conditioned toward certain beliefs with respect to contraception, abortion, homosexuality, etc., and while I loved the Church, I didn’t know how to reconcile my love of the Church with what I thought were contradictory teachings on all those subjects.

So I spent a lot of time researching and learning and talking before even asking about RCIA - and still do now that I’m actually enrolled in RCIA. What I’ve learned is that if you truly accept the foundations of Catholicism, all of the teachings you’ve mentioned are so intertwined that to believe one is really to begin to lay the foundation for believing it all.

If I had reached a teaching where I wasn’t sure about my willingness to accept it, I would explore it fully, including the theological and spiritual foundations. If I couldn’t accept the spiritual foundations, then I probably would not have decided to join. But that’s just me.

What issue the person disagrees with and where they are in the RCIA process makes a difference.

Someone just starting RCIA and exploring Catholicism may disagree with almost everything, but be open to hearing what the Church teaches and why. That’s fine. Someone who is about to be baptized and having doubts about whether Jesus really rose from the dead is in a very different position and should hold off until the doubts are resolved.

Also, “having trouble accepting” a teaching is different from “rejecting” a teaching. Someone may have trouble accepting a particular teaching but may live with it and do nothing against it I don’t see a problem with that. Hopefully as they grow in their faith and learn more about the Church they will come to embrace it. On the other hand, if they totally reject a teaching – and the study that has gone into it, the reasoning behind it – that’s a different situation.

So I don’t see black and white answers here. I would encourage someone with doubts to continue to study and pray and see if they can be resolved.

I, personally, started researching the claims of the Catholic Church couple of years ago and feel very confident that we will end up in the Catholic Church. Of course, along the way, there was/still are some degree some teachings that I have a hard time swallowing. But, here is how I see it these issues in order of importance

  1. The Eucharist - This is HUGE for my husband and me. We believe in the real presence of Christ in communion, which means that automatically our choice of places to worship have narrowed considerably (i.e., Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, etc.)

  2. Authority - Also, very HUGE for my husband and me. This eliminates Anglican, Lutheran, and other Protestant denominations claiming that they believe in the Real Presence.

So, we were left with Catholicism vs Orthodoxy so next, we considered the authoritative structure within the Church and it makes much more sense to us that there is a visible “head” of the church, which seems to be the only big difference between the two.

Now, I am not extremely comfortable with many things that are taught in the church such as praying to saints, rosary, etc., BUT I do not believe that every question I have regarding those teachings must be resolved before we enter the Church because I acknowledge that the Church is infallibly led by the Holy Spirit, will never fall into error on faith and morals, and that I must submit to that authority.

I may NOT understand it (just like the Trinity is hard to explain or even comprehend), but I may not disbelieve it either. I must enter into the Church knowing that I still have a lot to learn and that the Church is correct on these issues, no matter how hard they are to understand.

I bet if you took a survey (perhaps someone has?) you would find that most Catholics at least struggle with some of these. Most Catholics are in a process of learning their faith, and the real reasons why the Church believes in these things.

It would be wrong to hold new Catholics to a higher standard, especially when the real goal is to get them into the Church. It may take 4 years of going to mass, reading upon on Catholic answers, etc. before they understand it all. That’s Ok I think. It’s a process.

The key thing is that although they struggle, they do not actively reject anything. That would be another matter.

We all struggle actually.

Humility is a Virtue.

THIS^. In a good RCIA program all of these things are addressed very well.
I’d find out what series they are using, and supplement it with some extra material if the instruction is lacking in depth.
Peace.

themostholyrosary.com/mystical-city.htm

I agree with the others that it depends…
Such things require a bit of conversation before one can truly say whether the person should or should not join the church at this time.

That said - allow me to offer my 2c.

The thing that always gets me in these conversations is the word, “disagree”.
I would ask them on what basis do they disagree? Is it on the basis of superior knowledge? deeper study? a more profound understanding than the many many scholars and spiritual thinkers of the Church who have studies these things through the centuries?
OK - I might not put it so bluntly…:slight_smile:
But my point is this…
Yes people struggle with Church teachings. But to disagree is something more profound than simply saying, “I don’t understand it”.
See if they are willing to accept the teachings even if they do not understand them.

If a person seeks to enter the Church, they must be prepared to accept the teaching authority of the Church. Is this person ready to do that?
Are they prepared to accept teachings based, on the church’s authority - - or are they planning to reserve to themselves the right to (in their own life) override the Church’s teachings whenever they see fit?

This will tell you much about whether they are ready to enter the Church.

Peace
James

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

Great Answer

That is a good question.

I am a cradle Catholic who was confirmed in 11th grade. I didn’t really have a choice. I also didn’t really have to think to hard about the teachings about contraception. It was only when I lived married life that I found the need to study what the church believed and realized I could not in good conscience accept it. I did study it prior to marriage and thought it all sounded good. It was when I found it to be damaging to my marriage that I entered more deeply into questioning

If as an adult I could only join the church if I accepted every doctrine, I would not be Catholic. Neither would approximately 80% of the church. If we lost 80% of the church, how would the church exist? I am guessing on the 80% figure but it is at least that high the number of people who dissent on church teaching regarding contraception alone.

Quite a few years ago, I investigated Catholicism. I found that, while I appreciated certain aspects of the Catholic faith (e.g., connection with the history of Christianity), I found others which I could not accept (e.g., infallibility).

When I mentioned this to a Catholic priest, saying that I did not feel that I could go through RCIA and profess a belief in what the church teaches, he responded, “Oh, just do RCIA and make the profession. You can figure the rest out later.” That was one of the clearest signals that I do not belong in the Catholic Church.

Later, I learnt that Catholic canon law says this:
Can. 748 §1 All are bound to seek the truth in the matters which concern God and his Church; when they have found it, then by divine law they are bound, and they have the right, to embrace and keep it.

§2 It is never lawful for anyone to force others to embrace the catholic faith against their conscience.

The Church started with about 120 people…I think the Church would still survive. :wink:

You did research and made a personal decision. It may or may not be the correct decision in your particular case…that is not for me to say.
I assume that you do not go around preaching that the Church’s teaching is wrong.
You simply studied and then made the personal decision.
In other words, you start from the position that the Church is correct. Then, go from there.

It can be very different for a person, a teen or adult, who is coming into the Church. They haven’t really had the chance to do the studying and to have a properly formed conscience. For these people it is very important that they recognize and are willing to accept the teaching authority of the Church.

Peace
James

It is one thing to disagree with Church Teaching simply because it doesn’t agree with your experiential world view, but it is another thing altogether to simply misunderstand that Teaching. My journey into the Catholic Church took several years because I struggled with many of the Church doctrines. I had to undo years of bias and misinformation.

When I finally felt “ready” to enter the Church, I was still struggling with much of the Marian doctrines. Despite my “doubts”, I had already come to an acceptance of Church Authority so I decided to accept the Marian doctrines based on this principle. I had to accept that the Church had far greater insight than I had and simply because I couldn’t see or understand the rationale behind some of her teachings, it did not mean it was not true.

I accepted Marian doctrines “in good faith”, believing that the Church possessed the God given Authority to teach. After further studying the Church’s reasoning, I now accept Marian doctrines “in good faith” and in reason. God has been true to his promise to guide the Church in Truth.

What doctrine(s) is your friend struggling with? Encourage them to continue to pray for the Truth.

God Bless,
CSJ

Well, it all depends on which particular teaching they are having a hard time with and why. If someone asked me honestly, I’d have a few questions myself to help them and me figure it out. It is a tricky thing. Some doubt is natural in the process of conversion and it takes grace and prayer and study to settle it. If they are honestly and sincerely trying to overcome this difficulty, it will become apparent in the first few minutes of talking. If however, they are defiant and disrespectful and simply want to believe whatever they want to believe and still *feel entitled *to the Sacraments, then I’d have to withdraw my support and would tell them so. An honest desire to do God’s will in all things Catholic and to assent with divine and Catholic faith is necessary in conversion. You don’t have to be able to give a 100 % theologically perfect definition of the Immaculate Conception to give one’s assent to it in faith. You can believe without knowing fully, however the love that is growing in the heart of the convert tends to draw them towards learning more and more about the object of their new found love, Jesus Christ and His Church.

Glenda

I think the person should wait to enter the Church until all his doubts are resolved, one way or the other. When we go up to receive the Body of Christ in Holy Communion, we are affirming our union with the Church and all that she teaches.

When I came back home to the Church, I still didn’t understand everything, but I sincerely believed that the Church knew what she was doing and I had faith in that. If the person can trust the Church, I say enter, but if there are serious doubts, entering too early may do more harm than good. Receiving the Eucharist unworthily is much worse than delaying it (receiving).

There is a spectrum:

difficulty > doubt > disagreement > disbelief

Maybe some of those are out of order, but you get the idea.

Some of these things can be overcome.

I would actually say the church’s teaching is an ideal. For the Garden of Eden.

As for accepting the teaching authority of the church, I tell my kids it is always good to question authority. I don’t believe in infallibility. Especially to the extent that it is claimed.

Practically, no the church could not exist the way it does today if 80% of the people left. Could your parish stay open if 80% left? Sure there would be a smaller, “purer” church but the church could not exist as it does today. That would mean many of the charities supported by the church could not stay open. Not too mention that by my estimates 75% of priests would agree contraception is not a black and white issue. Human Vitae has been a pastoral teaching failure. So if we also lost all the priests that quietly gave pastoral direction to a couple to use contraception we would be in worse share than we are now. Where I live priests are already covering 2 or 3 parishes and many parishes are being closed. I guess the church will survive. But it would look very different.

The question is what happens when you are an adult and realize you do not accept some of the church’s teachings but do embrace the core teachings? You really can’t just leave. I just live my day to day life seeking God and living out the gospel. I also realize people can say they obey the Magisterium in all things but this does not necessarily translate into living a more prayerful, loving life. So rather than discuss agreement on doctrines with people I am drawn to discussing how it is God is changing their hearts and making them more loving. That is really the bottom line.

Peace to you too James.

I think this is well stated…It is the ideal…and having that ideal we can aspire to it.

As for accepting the teaching authority of the church, I tell my kids it is always good to question authority. I don’t believe in infallibility. Especially to the extent that it is claimed.

I bet we could have a really long discussion on this. :thumbsup:

Practically, no the church could not exist the way it does today if 80% of the people left. Could your parish stay open if 80% left? Sure there would be a smaller, “purer” church but the church could not exist as it does today.

That would mean many of the charities supported by the church could not stay open. Not too mention that by my estimates 75% of priests would agree contraception is not a black and white issue. Human Vitae has been a pastoral teaching failure. So if we also lost all the priests that quietly gave pastoral direction to a couple to use contraception we would be in worse share than we are now. Where I live priests are already covering 2 or 3 parishes and many parishes are being closed. I guess the church will survive. But it would look very different.

Aaahhh - you answered your own question from earlier…;).
You asked, “If we lost 80% of the church, how would the church exist?”
And this is exactly right. It would be quite different from what we see today.

The question is what happens when you are an adult and realize you do not accept some of the church’s teachings but do embrace the core teachings? You really can’t just leave. I just live my day to day life seeking God and living out the gospel.

Amen. That is what many of us try to do. For myself, I know that all things must trace back to the two great commandments of Love for we are told by Jesus that everything else is built on these two.

I also realize people can say they obey the Magisterium in all things but this does not necessarily translate into living a more prayerful, loving life. So rather than discuss agreement on doctrines with people I am drawn to discussing how it is God is changing their hearts and making them more loving. That is really the bottom line.

Amen

Peace
James

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