Church teachings I struggle to agree with


Some of the Church’s social teachings are becoming more difficult for me to accept. Most of these tend to be afterthoughts compared to the “big” issues like abortion, marriage, euthanasia, etc. I can accept those. But here are the ones that rub me the wrong way:

  1. Gun control. I have no problem with background checks before buying a gun. But the current push to ban “assault weapons” (which is just a buzzword for a gun that’s painted black or looks scary), if it succeeds, will be a victory for nobody but Big Brother and his minions.

Think I’m just regurgitating NRA talking points here? Take a look at Australia: most guns there are banned, and they also have strict censorship laws. Same with Germany, whose government worked with social media outlets to ban “offensive” speech.

In fact, if civilian gun ownership has the powers that be shaking in their boots, that’s a good thing. The government should fear the people, not the other way around. Lastly, the same people who say “only cops and the military should have ‘assault weapons’” are the same people who say cops and military are evil racists.

  1. Taxation. Our Lord and St. Paul told us to pay taxes, but I am miffed by this. Taxation, in my opinion, is just state-facilitated larceny. Nobody, from Donald Trump to the immigrant family in Section 8, should have to pay a penny. At this point, I only pay taxes so I don’t get beaten up and go to jail.

Someone might respond that I have civic duties to the government. If that’s the case, any band of looters can declarge themselves a government and demand “taxes” from random people.

  1. The Syrian refugee crisis. Pope Francis wants us to open our doors and borders indiscriminately. But the rise in rapes and terrorist attacks in Europe following the importing of so many immigrants is not a coincidence.

I understand welcoming the stranger is a work of mercy. But the works of mercy should not be a suicide pact. There are countries right next to Syria, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, which are culturally similar to Syria and have the space and resources to house them. Instead, they come to the West and demand enclaves governed by Sharia Law.

I fail to see them as Christ the stranger, but as the Scimitar of the Prophet Muhammad.

  1. The use of torture, corporal punishment, and the death penalty. I know what the Catechism says. But the alternative has spawned a whole host of social ills. America’s massive prison-industrial complex has us second only to China in imprisonments. These prisons are not penitentiaries where broken sinners are rehabilitated and redeemed. They are breeding grounds for racism, violence, bitterness, and vendettas.

I think a lot of these could be solved by the disincentive of pain. Nothing that could actually kill someone; for example, have someone beaten with a rubber tube, or spend a day in the stocks. I think public humiliation wold instill some humility in convicts.

Lastly, I think the Church’s opposition to the death penalty is hypocritical; as recently as two or three hundred years ago, the headsmen in the Papal States were seldom wanting for work. Now that the Church has reduced political power, they are against it.

Can somebody please try to change my mind on these things?


It sounds like your problem is not with doctrine, but with prudential judgements. Such judgements are not binding, with the possible exception of the enjoinder to not resort to capital punishment should unless absolutely necessary - and the reasoning given for it is quite compelling once I set emotion aside. Torture? - most times it’s counterproductive, and I can imagine only limited circumstances under which it could be morally licit. I’m not aware of any Church position against corporal punishment.

As for taxation, I’ve never seen a tax that I didn’t think should be lower, but without any taxation at all the government wouldn’t be able to perform its proper functions. There needs to be some level of taxation, the problem arises when government starts dabbling in areas that it shouldn’t. I imagine that you and I pretty much agree on what those areas are.


Most of those are not church teaching but rather the opinions of some within the church.

A Catholic can indeed
A. Be in favor of the second amendment (I am)
B. Believe that the taxation system is flawed. (I do)
C. Be in favor of keeping ones children and citizens safe by having secure boarders and monitoring who passes in and out of a country. Up to and including denial of admittance. (I am)
D. The definition of torture is a malleable definition. Torture should be avoided but perhaps playing lady gaga while interrogating someone could be used.
The death penalty is not banned.

It sounds to me like you don’t have a problem with church teaching but rather with how that teaching is portrayed. And you may have a different opinion than some in the church including the pope. And that is perfectly fine.


Interesting question…looking forward to reading the responses.

  1. With regard to the idea that governments should fear their citizens, I think this snippet from Roger Ebert’s “V for Vendetta” review sums up my feelings nicely:

“There are ideas in this film. The most pointed is V’s belief: People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. I am not sure V has it right; surely in the ideal state governments and their people should exist happily together. Fear in either direction must lead to violence.”

When all and said and done, an innocent human’s life is worth infinitely more than anyone’s right to an assault weapon.

  1. We need taxes to keep everything going. Maybe the degree to which certain groups get taxed needs to be altered, but the country can’t function without them. C’est la vie.

  2. If we need to get a vetting process in place, so be it, but the vast majority of Syrians are not rapists or religious fanatics. They are babies, children, mothers, and grandparents. Regardless of how you choose to see them, they are still children of God.

4…really? I don’t know if you’re aware, but the vast majority of inmates in the US are afflicted with some form of mental illness, and your recommendation is to beat them? Our prison system is awful, so we should beat and humiliate people who need psychological help and probably turned to crime because they were never given any?
What we need is a program that focuses on positive rehabilitation and reducing recidivism rates like they have in Scandinavia.


I too think the Church position on state execution is a weebit wishy-washy. But remember that to the Church, bodily life is not paramount, soul is; and that teachings take generations to hash out; and the confusion of its position is understandable.

As to taxation. You use public roads, do you not? You depend upon police work to keep you secure. You expect that the food you eat and the water you use to drink, cook and wash with, are safe from disease. All of these are financed by taxes.



Bolding mIne

As a final comment, I think you’re mistaking the opinions of some churchmen for the official teachings of Mother Church.


First things first, friend - humble your intellect to be ready to accept whatever the Church teaches because it is God Himself Who teaches it, and God never lies. The starting lines in your other post on this sub-forum should tell you as much - God is always trustworthy.

Second, what the foregoing commenters have said is mostly good.

Torture - which is a bit of a slippery concept - can eventually become something intrinsically evil. Is a bread and water diet torture? No. Is half-hanging torture? Yes. But then there are lots of things in between, like prolonged solitary confinement. All you need to confess is that at some point aggravating the human body or mind as a means of coercion becomes contrary to the natural law and is thus intrinsically evil, with no intention or circumstance making it a good act. Consequences are not the only part of evaluating an act’s morality.


I’m not fine with the Syrian refugees because most coming here aren’t families and are t Christian either. I think we can as a country agree to disagree as long as there’s some kind of vetting in place. But really our government barring most Christian refugees is bigotry in its highest forms. I’m referring to the Syrian refugees only.


So they can die, as long as they’re Muslim. Wow…


I think the key is "[distressing] the human body or mind."

I can imagine prolonged solitary confinement, in the Alcatraz sense of total darkness, becoming torture. On the other hand, hooding or blindfolding someone during transportation or other extreme security situations would not be.

Conversely, situations that are only humiliating would not rise to the level of torture. Captivity is per se humiliating.



I don’t think he said that. But why are only Muslims admitted? (And at public expense, to boot?)



When did I say they can die?


Right. Months alone in a cell without human contact can really mess someone up badly, and has.

The issue it seems is whether some fundamental good is being harmed in a fundamental way… which is perhaps harder to describe than it first appears. Is a slap in the face torture? Maybe not. Is making someone stand in the same spot without moving for 12 hours torture? Maybe so.


As you can see op. There are many different opinions. And they all fall under being a faithful Catholic. A good and holy Catholic can disagree about all these issues. And many do.


I am also anti-gun control, anti-uncontrolled migration, wary of syrian refugees and in favour of corporal and capital punishment. The church is not a political party and the views of the church are not relevant to how I would vote or what political positions I hold.


I have a simple question: What is an assault rifle?

Does the Sturmgewehr 44 count?



Where does the Church teach that gun ownership is wrong? Seems like you’re disagreeing with something that doesn’t exist.


Let’s stay on toipc, please.


I think you meant that the parts that aren’t non-negotiable (like unwarranted death penalty) are fine. The political culture of the church is quite different from the Church’s teachings.

All the best to you and the OP

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