Can you be a Catholic and fundamentally disagree with any teaching?

If you disagree with the church in some way (support gay marriage, don’t believe in the true presence in the Eucharist, don’t believe that contraception is a sin, etc) can you still be a real Catholic? Can you call yourself a real Catholic if you disagree with a fundamental teaching of the church?

I was just reading something today that said something like 25% of Catholics believe in transubstantiation and about 87% believe that you don’t have to believe in all Catholic teachings to be a Catholic. What do you think?

I think what a bishop, an Apostolic successor according to the Catholic faith once told me. I actually brought up to him things like abortion and transubstantiation. He said a person becomes a Catholic by Baptism. (Or for a non Catholic, I’ll add at some later point in their journey) He said there may be a further distinction such as practicing or non practicing. But the person would still be considered a Catholic. So perhaps with an adjective such as non practicing or dissenting, but yes clearly if one wants to follow the Catholic Church’s answer, yes they should be allowed to call themselves a Catholic. To do anything else would appear to me that they themselves are not following 100% of teaching. Peace.

i think that disagreeing with holy mother church is like a rebellious teenager disagreeing with his wise and loving mother. the teenager thinks that they know better than their mother and acts accordingly with arrogance and pride. later in life, surrounded by the results of all their mistakes, they learn that mother knew best after all.

you can’t just pick and choose what to believe in the catholic church. we don’t want to exclude people, but you either follow what God said to do or you don’t.

I said yes, but only because once you are baptized into the Church you re and remain a Catholic.

However, you can’t say you are an orthodox Catholic if you do not submit to the Church’s teachings.

And submit is different than blindly adopting without thought.

By the stats you provided makes this a rhetorical question.

God bless you for giving the one and only true Catholic answer.

Through baptism, we indeed become members of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Baptism confers an indelible spiritual mark on the soul of his belonging to Christ. But baptism requires a profession of faith. In the case of adults, this is done personally by the one being baptized. In the case of infants, this profession of faith is made through the God parents. Now faith is a “theological virtue by which we believe in God and **all **that he has said and revealed to us, and the Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1814). Consequently, if you disagree or disbelieve a teaching of the Church such as on homosexual marriage, the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, contraception, etc., you are commiting a sin against faith. Such a sin could be mortal whereby one would become a dead member of the Church. In other cases, it may be only venial. But in all cases it is an offense against God.

The 87% of catholics ( it is questionable whether this percentage is true or not) you mention that believe you don’t have to believe all catholic teachings simply do not know their faith and they are sinning against the virtue of faith.

Most people do not know the difference.

Since others have already addressed the mater of being indelibly marked at baptism as Catholic…I’d like to ask a question of the OP - for clarification…

What do you mean above by “real Catholic”…? The answer might help us to better address teh question you are trying to ask.


I think the answer to this encompasses both a “yes” and a “no.”

Yes. The Catholic Church, as far as the sacrament of Baptism goes, basically teaches “once a Catholic, always a Catholic.” In other words, if one is baptized into the Catholic faith, then he or she stays a member of the Catholic Church. It doesn’t matter if the person “falls away” from the faith (e.g. turns to atheism or agnosticism or non-practicing Catholicism), leaves the Catholic faith for another religion, or rejects selected Church’s doctrinal and dogmatic teachings (e.g. supporting gay marriage or abortion). He or she is still considered to be a member of the Catholic Church, Christ’s body of believers.

Catholics believe baptism leaves an indelible mark on one’s soul. This means that (1) one is unable to be re-baptized if his or her first baptism was valid, and (2) no action/sin we commit (e.g. heresy, apostasy, schism, etc.) can erase said mark.

No. One cannot be an orthodox Catholic unless one accepts all the Catholic Church’s teachings. Therefore, many people who reject Church teaching that conflicts with their personal views are generally known as “cafeteria Catholics.” In truth, some “more-devout” Catholics will typically claim that cafeteria Catholics aren’t true witnesses to the faith.

So basically: Yes, one can still be a Catholic if you reject some of the Church’s teachings. One is not, however, an orthodox Catholic if he or she does such a thing.

As the bishop explained to me, being a practicing or most faithful Catholic does not exclude the possibilty of sin in one’s life. All real Catholics which by definition is determined by Baptism or other entrance into the Catholic Church are really Catholics according to the Catholic Church. And the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick are available to them up until their last breath.

This use of distinctions was already established. Yet Catholics according to the Catholic Church are allowed to use the term, Catholic, in describing themselves. Perhaps with an adjective as has already been discussed. I was just recenty though reading words from Cardinal Dolan, President of the USCCB who described both Paul Ryan and Joe Biden as Catholics.

I don’t like the options in the poll. Technically speaking, you do need to adhere to everything the Catholic Church teaches in regards to matters of faith and morals.

Yet not everyone who is disobeying Catholic teaching is automatically excommunicated.

The important thing is are they open to correction? Have they studied the Catechism? Have they talked to their priest or Bishop on the matter?

Are they in open rebellion against the Church?

One can only be declared a heretic when he/she is a baptized Catholic an then rebels on one or more points on the faith and refuses pastorly correction. When they insist, like Luther did, “I’m right ,and everyone else is wrong!.”

That’s the point of no return.

Not exactly. Excommunicated Catholics are told they can not receive the Sacraments or hold a parish role. But this does not mean they can never be reconciled. And they are still encouraged for instance to attend the Mass to my knowledge. Using the 2 distinctions the bishop expressed to me, practicing/non practicing, neither a practicing nor non practicing Catholic can know the heart of a person at the moment of their last breath. Only God knows that. Unless their experiences have driven them further away and make them so discouraged that they may never return, and even then God can work miracles, there is always a point of return until one draws their last breath. Peace.

You are Catholic by virtue of your baptism if you were baptized in the Catholic Church. You can be a heterodox Catholic or an orthodox Catholic but you are still Catholic.

Yes but most people are baptized as an infant and have no say in the matter. They are “branded” and compelled to adhere to the Church through no choosing of their own, as opposed to an adult convert who knowingly and conscientiously makes a choice to accept the teachings of the church.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t Catholic.

That’s my point. They are Catholic but not by choice.

Baptism should be like a “test drive” or apprenticeship. Once you get older, you decide to either go with it or not.

I can’t find a poll choice that seems right. You seem to be asking in your post about can you “call yourself a real Catholic”. I figure you must be asking if someone will object or not if you (the hypothetical you) do. Yes, someone will. On CAF, there are large numbers of posters who will tell you clearly that you can’t call yourself a “real” or “practicing” or “serious” or whatever Catholic if you don’t believe it all 100%. In the parish environment, you will find plenty of people who will tell you that yes you can call yourself a real Catholic.

The Church herself definitely will call you Catholic (I assume the person grew up Catholic or came through RCIA or somehow got their sacraments of initiation.)

But you, what do you (this person) need to do? That is what matters. Do you need to go to confession? Maybe. Do you need to throw yourself more into following Jesus? Yes, we all do. In two weeks we will read about the Rich Young Man for the gospel. He went away sad, not willing to set aside what he needed to in order to follow Jesus, even though he was willing to follow the Decalogue. We ALL need to ponder that and improve. Are you responsible to study and learn more, especially on the points that bother you? Yes, you are. Should you still go to mass? Yes, you should. God wants you to come. :slight_smile:

If this is a real scenario for you, then it is okay, God will guide you through this, be patient. :thumbsup:

If that’s the case and I agree it is, it’s interesting then that a forum calling itself “Catholic Answers” would give a different answer than the parish or Church on who is or can call themselves a Catholic. I kinda think it’s sad that the poll is running 2:1 against what the Church would say. Maybe there are more “cafeteria” Catholics than I realized.

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