"Catholics are free to disagree with anything. Just as long as they don't preach it." (Edited Title)

Hi all! I hope everyone had a blessed Sunday!

I had a discussion with a friend earlier today. In it, my friend claimed that “Catholics are free to disagree with anything. Just as long as they don’t preach it.” Also, he wrote that “The Catholic faith is not humanly perfect. It is dangerous to trust a human run thing.”

Now, this deeply bothered me, and I considered this to be heretical, which may or may not be an accurate claim. While discussing this, I brought up the Catechism (2088 and 2089). My friend claimed that he had spoken to multiple priests about this and they agreed that this was not heresy as he was not trying to drive people away from the Church. He placed more value on actively participating than believing everything, since people have doubts.

My question is, is there any truth to this, especially in regards to teaching disagreements to others, and would these statements be heretical, or even incredulous.

Thanks all! Have a wonderful evening!

I would make some corrections:
"Catholics are free to disagree with anything. Just as long as they don’t rebel.
"The Catholic faith is not based on mere human effort, but on Jesus Christ who works with sinful human beings.

This is cafeteria Catholicism. To disagree with even one of the Church’s teachings makes one a heretic.

Not true.
Just on a general principal, that makes no sense.

So one has to immediately ask him, why did Jesus establish His Church and put humans in charge of it?

And then said “those who won’t listen even to the Church, let them be to you as a tax collector”

2088 , 2089, Those are good choices you used. It certainly put your friends views in direct contradiction with where they should be.

Sounds like he has issues with obedience to authority.

Hi, Joey!

…ever heard of liberalism? …a lot of people feel the need to liberate themselves from Church Teachings… these include the Clergy and Religious…

…the greatest error your friend and others commit is being ignorant…

…they are being ignorant (must repeat)…

…it is two fold:

  1. till man returns to God, the world will be filled with humans so everything in deed is not humanly perfect!

  2. till man (those who reject the Church’s Authority) become God, they must capitulate to Christ’s Reign… it is Christ Himself that has Delegate His Authority to the Church–so while the Church is composed of lowly humans, she is Directed and Guided by the Holy Spirit as she is the Mystical Body of Christ!

…if your friend speaks to error that creeps in, he is correct it has happened in the past and perhaps will continue to happen till the Parousia…

However, rejecting Church Doctrine on grounds that the Church is not “perfect” because she is made up of human frailties… he has to take that over to Christ… it was His Idea to Found the Church on Cephas!

Maran atha!



…you meant the theory of … not that evolution has been proven, right?

…just as for instance… who was that person that measured the distance between the earth and the sun (how did he make to the sun and back?)?

…an educated guess based on findings and natural laws and mathematics is still a guess not a fact.

Maran atha!


Yes, but rejecting Church teaching on, for example, abortion or gay “marriage” would make one a heretic. This is what I was thinking of, not things like climate change.

You keep using ellipses. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

"…De Fide means “of the faith”. It means it is an article of faith and must be believed. A Dogma is a De Fide article of faith. In Catholicism, there exists what we understand to be a “hierarchy of truths”. Some doctrines have been formally defined by the Church (i.e. dogmas) and are essentially irrevocable and non-reformable. Other doctrines do not carry such a weight but are generally believed to be true by the majority of theologians.

In his book The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott distinguishes between the level of certainty a Catholic may have towards any teaching of the Catholic Church (p.9-10). I have provided an example of each immediately following his description:

De Fide - The highest degree of certainty appertains to immediately revealed truths, due on the Authority of God revealing. If these truths are solemnly defined by the Magisterium, they are “de defide definita”. (Example: The Dogma of the Trinity)

Fides Ecclesiastica - Catholic truths or Church doctrines, on which the infallible Teaching Authority of the Church has finally decided, are to be accepted with a faith which is based on the sole authority of the Church (fides ecclesiatica). These truths are as infallibly certain as dogmas proper. (Example: Anglican Order are invalid.)

Sententia Ad Fidem Pertinens - A teaching pertaining to the Faith is a doctrine, on which the Teaching Authority of the Church has not yet finally pronounced, but whose truth is guaranteed by its intrinsic connection with the doctrine of revelation (theological conclusions). (Example: An all male priesthood. Some may disagree and suggest that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is an infallible pronouncement on this issue.)

Sententia Fidei Proxima - A teaching proximate to Faith is a doctrine, which is regarded by theologians generally as a truth of Revelation, but which has not yet been finally promulgated as such by the Church. (Example: Mary as Co-Mediaterix)

Sententia Communis - Common teaching is doctrine, which in itself belongs to the field of free opinions, but which is accepted by theologians generally. (Example: Christ’s soul possessed infused knowledge.)

Sententia Probabablis - Theological opinions of lesser grades of certainty are called probable, more probable, well-founded. Those which are regarded as being in a agreement with the consciousness of Faith of the Church are called pious opinions (sententia pia). The least degree of certainity is possessed by the tolerated opinion (opinio tolerata), which is only weakly founded, but which is tolerated by the Church. (Example: Rigorist (strict) view of “No Salvation Outside the Church”, or the existence of Limbo.)…"

Thanks to John Pacheco
The Catholic Legate
June 7, 2002



…yeah, you might be quite right on that; I use them as “suspended thought” or “continuation of a thought.” I probably got it from early childhood’s comic books exposure–sorry! :o:o:o

Now, since I will most probably continue to section out excerpts of Scriptures and other citations, what is the appropriate form to demonstrate sectioned out excerpts?

…and thank you for both your patience and your assistance.

Maran atha!



It seems that you’ve spend some time researching these… is there a connection to the definition of “heretic?”

…I keep hearing/seeing this term used, but what level of disobedience (in the terms offered above) would that category fall?

There are things that the Church Teaches against which is said that if a Catholic engages in he/she is automatically self-excommunicated… is there the same connection with heresy–as far as the above definitions are concerned.

Maran atha!


Not true. Catholics are required to give “religious assent” to all the teachings of the bishops, even when they are not speaking infallibly. This is explicitly required by Lumen Gentium 25.


In addition, section 87 of the Catechism requires us to receive the teaching of our pastors “with docility”.


It would think heresy takes a lot of work. Those who incur punishment would have sought a podium or public forum or paper and have left a trail of damage to the Church. There must be a lot of stubborn determination involved in it. Much obstinate debate would ensue before the towel is thrown in.

Occasionally the faithful may have period of doubt, but we weather the storm and give the Church the benefit of the doubt. These are not heretics in true sense.

Theologians believe that the offence must be consummated, i.e. complete and perfected in its kind (in genere suo), New Advent/Excommunication.

I guess the era we live in would determine when enough is enough, but the Church is patient and tolerant.

Canon 751 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon law promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983, the juridical systematization of ancient law currently binding the world’s one billion Catholics, defines heresy as the following: “Heresy is the obstinate denial or doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith.” The essential elements of canonical heresy therefore technically comprise 1) obstinacy, or continuation in time; 2) denial (a proposition contrary or contradictory in formal logic to a dogma) or doubt (a posited opinion, not being a firm denial, of the contrary or contradictory proposition to a dogma); 3) after reception of valid baptism; 4) of a truth categorized as being of “Divine and Catholic Faith,” meaning contained directly within either Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition per Can. 750 par. 1 AND proposed as ‘de fide divina’ by either a Pope having spoken solemnly “ex cathedra” on his own (example: dogmatic definition of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1950), or defined solemnly by an Ecumenical Council in unison with a Pope (ex: the definition of the Divinity of Christ in the Council of Chalcedon) (“de fide catholica”).

An important distinction is that between formal and material heresy. The difference is one of the heretic’s subjective belief about his opinion. The heretic who is aware that his belief is at odds with Catholic teaching and yet continues to cling to his belief pertinaciously is a formal heretic. This sort of heresy is sinful because in this case the heretic knowingly holds an opinion that, in the words of the first edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia, “is destructive of the virtue of Christian faith . . . disturbs the unity, and challenges the Divine authority, of the Church” and “strikes at the very source of faith.” Material heresy, on the other hand, means that the individual is unaware that his heretical opinion denies, in the words of Canon 751, “some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith.” The opinion of a material heretic is still heresy, and it produces the same objective results as formal heresy, but because of his ignorance he commits no sin by holding it.

There is some truth to your friend’s view. Mere “belief” can never constitute heresy. There must be either a “denial” or a “posited opinion”. Heresy requires one to “state” something, not just to have a belief. If you keep your stupid opinions :wink: to yourself, no matter how antithetical to the faith, there is no danger that it will “disturb the unity, and challenge the Divine authority, of the Church” and “strike at the very source of faith.”


I think part of the problem we have is that we live in the “instant” communication era… people want to see things happen “right now,” so many take to making pronouncements for the Church–though many times this is done in genuine zealousness for Christ and the Faith… I think that Mercy and Patience are being replaced with expedited judgment, at least at a personal level.

Maran atha!


Just a question?

How many are then actually non-heretical Catholics out of the 1.2 or 1.3 billion? Are they still considered Catholic or doesn’t this matter?

Side note: i am well aware that the CC will still count this person? Just trying to understand the “understanding” of this seemingly inflated number if “this does actually not matter”.

Hi Michael!

Can you clarify?

What is the “inflated number?”

…as for those who reject the Catholic Church’s Authority, there are levels and then there are levels… it is rather difficult to know how many “Catholics” are in humble and obedient Fellowship with the Catholic Church.

Have you wondered how many “employees” steal from their bosses or how many corporations or managers righteously manage their resources and monies?

…it is difficult to put a finger on some things…

I think that the issue should be, how many who claim to be in Fellowship with Christ are in full and humble obedience (be they Catholic or non-Catholics)?

It is one thing for me to state an opinion about what I think/believe about any matter, it is another thing for me to make erroneous claims/assertions/judgments/teachings on matters of Faith… the second I enter Faith I must be in full agreement with the Church on all issues of Faith (Doctrine).

Even if I were a Priest or a Bishop, the second I claim error as correct Doctrine I am involved in heresy.

The Church does not excommunicate me for it; she demands that I reject the heresy and return to the Fold.

When I reject her Authority then I am fully self-excommunicated.

A non-Catholic Christian can become a heretic and while the Church cannot excommunicate him/her from Catholic Fellowship, he/she has self-excommunicated from the Body of Christ, by believer/teaching error.

Maran atha!


This too we are cautioned. We proceed from a position of being informed from authoritative sources. No one expects the faithful to have an answer immediately to every question, so scripture instructs we defer to the clergy of the True Church for the right answer or work out problems. In the end we may not be advanced much, still, that is why we temper our faith through trust that God has everything under His control.

Catholics are not free to disagree with any of the Catholic Church’s teachings. The Big Caveat to this is that the prevailing opinion in the Catholic Church is subject to change. It is not run by man but by God. The first generation of Christians thought that Christ would save them directly after the death of the Apostles. There was another misconception that Revelations completely concerned the Roman Empire and that its fall would mean the end of the world. Look how that turned out. The Fall of the Roman Empire proved to be one of the best things that could have ever happened for the Catholic Church. This is not by accident but it is by the hand of God. The Dark/Middle ages then proceeded to be one of the most fruitful times for Catholic Intellectual Thought. You have Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. John Damascene, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, Blessed John Duns Scotus and more. Each of them had incredible value to add to Catholic Theology. I could continue on to the Renaissance and the present era but the idea is clear enough. Catholic Theology is becoming more and more fine-tuned to the point of correctness. St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis are not the product of Liberalism. They are the product of a Catholic Church that is coming of age.

Doctoral Dissertation of Yasaswi Duvvuru
Looking for acceptance into Catholic Graduate School.

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