Catholic Without Marian Dogma?

Can someone become Catholic without accepting the Marian dogmas (immaculate conception, assumption, etc.)?

I realize that if you accept the other Catholic doctrines, then the Marian dogmas should follow since you believe in the authority of the Church. But, if someone simply cannot get past the Marian dogmas, can they still become Catholic or should they remain Protestant?

I guess the more general question is, must someone accept every Catholic doctrine and dogma–100%–to become Catholic?

Of course there are many Catholics who don’t accept Catholic doctrine (i.e. “bad” Catholics). I assume they accepted them at the time of confirmation and later rejected them. So can someone become Catholic without accepting all of them? Or can they join the Church as a “bad” Catholic?

Thank you


The profession of faith includes the Virgin Mary.

I recommend the following from The Journey Home:

Sure. Join anyway. You’ll probably find you’ll come to appreciate and accept them in time, like i did.

If there’s anything you’re unsure about, here’s a good idea - don’t depend on your own intuition and opinion. Instead, go and investigate any point you’re unsure on. Read a book or two on Marian dogma and you’ll come to appreciate it and its contribution to the christian faith.

One no and one yes. Hmm. :slight_smile:

For the record, I have been a Christian for 40 years. I have been studying Catholicism seriously for over five. I have read about every apologetic work there is. I have read the best Catholic theologians and Biblical scholars (like Raymond Brown). I’ve watched every video Bp. Barron has ever made. I’ve read every book by Scott Hahn. I regularly read Jimmy Akin et al. I’ve watched about every video from Catholic Answers. I’ve actually taught some Catholics things they didn’t know about their own faith. I have attended a few different Catholic churches (no Eucharist of course).

But the Marian dogmas are hanging me up.

So, do I become a Catholic and see if they ever make sense to me. Or do I remain a Protestant sympathetic to Catholicism? Do I continue doing all things Catholic (Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, etc.) but refrain from the Eucharist forever?

Like I said, so far there’s one vote for no and one for yes. Is there a consensus or reference to an “official” answer?

Thank you

Have you checked out the Fatima sun miracle? She performed a miracle at a predicted set date and time. Pretty much undeniable proof the catholic church is the one true church. So if Mary is happy with the churches teaching about herself, then so should probably us.

If i were you i would consider joining still, i guess it depends on whether the Marian dogmas are something that you are unsure aboutt or something you strongly object to. I had doubts about one or two things but still joined as i felt that i would be guided into truth. The only thing that irked me was signing a form before being received into the Church, part of which stated that i agreed that everything the Church teached was revealed truth which technically i didn’t. I still signed it again based on the belief that i would be lead into truth and the realisation that if i had to wait until such a time as i intellectually agreed to everything i may be waiting for ever.

To receive sacraments, you are required to believe the doctrines of the Church. Otherwise, they lose their significance.

Before you join and receive sacraments, you would need to go through RCIA where you are taught the doctrines.

In order to ensure this, when you attend mass where you receive the sacraments, you are required to make the profession of faith. It includes the following:

“For us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven: and by the Holy Spirit, He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man”

I understand the point of encouraging you to attend and work though the doctrinal misunderstanding. However, in order to officially join, you cannot get around this.

It does not work like the “invisible church” in Protestantism where you can attend any denomination as long as you believe in “the essentials”. Look at the result of that doctrine.

Thank you for your reply. That was very helpful.

I have no strong objections to the dogmas in principle. I understand them. I understand the logic behind them. I am simply uncertain as to whether I believe they are 1. True and 2. Necessary for the faith.

As I understand it, they are “dogmas” which means they must be excepted as true. There is no room for a difference of opinion. I may have more of a problem with the fact they are dogmas than the content of the dogmas themselves.

Thank you

I think it is OK to accept them as part of your faithfulness to the church. For example, if you said:

“I am a Christian, I believe the Catholic Church was the church founded by Jesus Christ as a result I follow its teachings. I accept the Church’s teachings on Mary due to the authority granted to it by Christ even though I do not fully understand them, but I plan to read, learn and pray more about these matters to better understand the Church’s position and reasoning.”

then I think it would be fine. If you said, “I like the Church but not all that silly Mary stuff, which I don’t believe in,” then that would be a problem. So some of it just depends on your overall outlook.

I should also add that I would consider personal devotions to Mary to be optional. If you aren’t comfortable praying to Mary or Saints and just want to pray to God and Jesus, I would personally not consider that to be problematic. I would classify those as optional, additional forms of worship. But that is different to me from dissenting from the Church on theological matters.

So, my understanding is that a Catholic is supposed to be intellectually docile (meaning teachable, not gullible) in the face of all the Church’s doctrine. That means you are allowed to not understand it, be unsure of its correctness, but you should still be obedient. So in a sense a good Catholic must accept all doctrine, but that bar doesn’t rise to belief per se.

The dogmas on the other hand are required beliefs, the CCC says they demand “an irrevocable adherence of faith”. I don’t think you can honestly be confirmed and not accept the dogmas. That’s not to say you can’t still do it. You can probably find plenty of RCIA programs that don’t even bring up these points.

And to your point, yes, I bet most cradle Catholics don’t accept some point of dogma and might not even know some of them exist. It’s very easy to go through the rites of initiation and never find out what the Church teaches. I did!

But I think positive adult conversion should come with a higher degree of honesty than just following that path your parents lead you on as a child.

You can join the Church without believing all the doctrines so long as you are willing to obey them, but don’t join if you don’t accept the dogmas.

That makes sense. Thanks. :slight_smile:

Okay, I think it’s clear that Matt is telling me to accept the Marian dogmas or remain a Protestant. At least I’ll know what I’m “protesting”–the Marian dogmas. :slight_smile:


That is the way I understand it. So thank you for the confirmation (no pun intended :slight_smile: ). I’ll take that as a vote of “No, do not join unless you accept the dogmas.”

Thank you

I am asking you to look into it further.

The Protestant understanding of Mary is flawed and ignores much in terms of scripture and history.

Additionally, it evolved as a doctrine some time after the Reformation in the 16th century. In other words, it’s very new.

May we ask why the Marian dogmas are “hanging you up?” :slight_smile: If you don’t want to say, that’s fine, of course.

I would ask you to consider this, though. If you accept the Church’s authority to decide matters of faith and morals, why bulk at these teachings? That is what it boils down to.

Either Christ gave the Apostles and their successors his authority to act in his name or he didn’t. If he didn’t nothing the Church teaches can be trusted. If he did, everything the Church teaches can be trusted. As I see it, you have to believe that or not. It’s up to you to decide. :slight_smile:

I have to remind myself sometimes that not all faithful assent is intellectual. The longer I’ve practiced my Catholicism, the more my faith is tested in this way. Some things that I used to be convinced of intellectually can now make me think, “I don’t know if that makes sense. And even if it does, why does it matter that I believe it?” When the intellectual belief in the the supernatural begins to fail, this is when it is most important to pray for a supernatural belief in the supernatural - Christians call this faith.

As another said, sometimes we have to grit our teeth and assent with our hearts to a teaching of the Church that we don’t quite “buy into” in our brains. It’s not because we’re mindless sheep, but because God tells us not to trust in our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). This is the beauty of the Church - God gives Her to us so that we can lean on Her understanding as an example of our humility and unity (although she encourages us to understand as best we can, as you have been admirably working towards)

I will pray for you to be led where God wants you, auctoris - and if that leads you to the Church, we will all be here to welcome you!

I really liked Tim Staples’s tape set, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed

I’d highly recommend it before writing off Catholicism…especially since you’re only recourse is going back to Rationalistic Protestantism.

Giving assent to dogmas does not mean that you have an intellectually-satisfying proof for every teaching. It means that you believe in the authority of the Church Christ gave us to teach. 1 million questions does not equal one doubt.

I will also add that if you don’t accept the Marian dogmas, but are attracted to an idea of a Church rooted in two thousand years of history, you don’t have to remain Protestant.

The Orthodox Churches only teach two Marian dogmas, that she is the Mother of God and was ever virgin. In general, the Orthodox Churches teach fewer things infallibly as they only consider the ancient councils to be infallible.

It also might be worthwhile if you study those two churches, the Catholic and the Orthodox, to see why you are more attracted to the Catholic one. If that road leads you to accept the Petrine supremacy, it may convince you that you can accept Pius IX’s declaration on the Conception and Pius XII’s declaration on the Assumption and understand why those two declarations were so important that the popes decided to elevate them to dogma.

I agree, that’s why it has been difficult.

When I use the words “necessary” and “necessity”, I am using them n the philosophical sense. A fact which is required to be true and is logically impossible to not be true.

I understand the reasoning behind the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, but I do not believe it is necessary. I understand the dogma behind the assumption, but I do not believe that it must necessarily follow from the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It could have happened, but I’m not convinced that it did happen.

Some will say “But if you accept the Church’s teaching, then you will accept it.” At the same time, if the Church declared a dogma today that from all reason and fact I knew to be false, I would not ignore my reason. I think even Thomas would agree with that.

So I am in a dilemma. I accept the Church’s authority, but I do not agree that the Marian dogmas are both necessary and essential. I do not believe they inhibit the Christian faith, but I do not believe they are necessary for the Christian faith. The dogmatic necessity may be my biggest problem. Dogmas about Jesus are necessary–they must be true to accept the faith. I do not believe the same is true of Mary.

Thank you

Well, let’s see if we can break this down.

First, there are four (4) Marian dogmas: 1. Ever Virgin; 2. Mother of God; 3.Immaculately conceived; and 4. Assumed into heaven.

Second, in order to enter the Church you need to “HONESTLY” be able to profess the tenants of our faith which are:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial
with the Father;
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified
under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic,
and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection
of the dead and the life of the world to come.

  1. Arguably, only “mother of God” and “ever virgin” are contained in the profession of faith. So “arguably” you could honestly say the profession of faith even if you are still struggling with the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.

  2. Catholics are required to accept all dogma with “assent of mind and faith”.

So . . . assuming that the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are the only two Marian dogma with which you struggle with AND assuming that although you might not fully understand them but can at least give intellectual and spiritual “consent” to them, i.e. don’t “object” to them, I would say you “can” become Catholic. But in so doing, and frankly this applies to ALL Catholics, you need to continue to make efforts to “form your conscience” according to the teaching of the church, which for some of us will be a lifelong process.

As an aside, and this may more appropriately address your concern, it is possible to be a good Catholic in full communion with the church and have NO devotional practice focused on Mary. No one is “required” to pray to Mary, to ask Mary to intercede for them, or even to keep Mary mentally in the front of your prayer life.

As a second aside, my sister in law was raised Wisconsin Synod Lutheran. She had significant issues with all our “Marion stuff”. She and my brother in law, a cradle Catholic, were married in a Lutheran Church (he had a dispensation). She had no intention of converting but attended RCIA in an effort to learn more about Catholicism. The priest told the class (somewhat inaccurately) that if they could say the creed honestly, they could become Catholic, so she did, without accepting the Marion stuff. Now she prays the rosary every day.

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