Dealing with accusations of hypocrisy


When debating with/talking to non-Catholics and especially non-Christians, how do you deal with the statement that says “You Catholics say that you do X, Y or Z, but you can’t prove that any of you actually do what you say you do”?

it’s happened to me several times recently, including with a non-Catholic family member, and with a Muslim work colleague. One incident concerned the one-hour fast before Communion where I was trying to observe the fast and was told “Nobody else will be fasting for an hour so why are you?” Another incident concerned seminarians and celibacy, the comment was made “You can’t prove that anybody is actually sticking to what they claim to be doing”.

I’m very tempted to ignore comments like these when they arise but part of be feels a bit irritated at the implication of hypocrisy, that we’re all pretending to act in a certain way when we know full well we’re not.

Any thoughts? :shrug:


You can’t prove the moon isn’t made of green cheese. You can’t prove that mermaids don’t live at the bottom of the ocean.

Yes, this is the correct course of action.

No one else is fasting so why should you… that’s the lamest thing I’ve heard in a long time.


Innocent until proven guilty.


I believe people until they prove otherwise


Say a rosary for them. Do this one anyway but don’t mention it to them. That would just irritate them and that isn’t necessary or productive


Also, you aren’t being a hypocrite by FOLLOWING Church teaching.

You would only be a hypocrite if you **failed **to follow Church teaching while telling others to follow Church teaching.

So perhaps the solution to your problem is to present these people with a dictionary.


The burden of proof lies with those making those claims.
Ask them to site their sources


The Evil One is using them to work against you and the Church. First, you might question why these people feel such a need to berate you and your beliefs. The problem is with them, not you. I agree, pray that they will come to know God and the teachings of our Savior. The fact that they are so intent to attack your beliefs is a sign of the times and we must stay strong in our faith. God Bless and live your faith!


Here’s one way to reply:

“I can’t prove that anybody is ever telling the truth, but I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s called ‘putting trust in your fellow man’; maybe you should try it some time instead of assuming everyone’s corrupt.”


Smile, and be at interior peace. Then, pray for them.


If you are a celibate seminarian or fasting before Communion you are entitled to do these things even if you are the only person in the world doing so, it doesn’t have anything to do with whether other people are hypocrites or not, which you may not know better (for the sake of argument) than your interlocutor.

If you’re not a celibate seminarian and do OR don’t know of those who are, it isn’t really germane to conversations others may wish to pick with you.

We don’t know “what colossal hypocrites other people are” - life and energy are too short anyway!

Sincerity at least calls us to do what we want to do because we want to do it.

The bottom line is that your interlocutor being a person who minds other people’s business, is trying to manipulate you into becoming a carbon copy of him!


I think the most disarming way I have found to deal with the accusation of hypocrisy is to say: “yep, you’re right, every single one of us is a hypocrite. But at least we try. That’s because Church is meant to be a hospital for sinners, not a museum for Saints.” The only people who weren’t hypocrites (i.e. sinners) to ever live in this world were members of St. Joseph’s household.


To the OP: Is it really up to any of us to prove we do x,y, or z? “Nobody else is fasting…” How do we know no one else is fasting? And this is what the church teaches-I don’t wish to be a hypocrite.
“You can’t prove…” I don’t need to prove anything. Can you prove they aren’t doing what they say they’re doing? Can these people prove anything about anyone else? For instance if they have children-can they prove to you that those kids are drug free or practicing celibacy? These instances you’ve brought up seem very silly and not worth your worrying about in my view.


:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


thought: What does anyone else’s faith have to do with my faith?
what I’d say: (probably with a smile) “Because I can,” or, “That’s okay, I’ve never been one to just follow the crowd.” Depending on my relationship with the person, I might add (not in anger, but curiosity), “What difference does it make to you?”

Another incident concerned seminarians and celibacy, the comment was made “You can’t prove that anybody is actually sticking to what they claim to be doing”.

thought: And you can’t prove they aren’t. :rolleyes:
*what I’d say: *Might say, “Doesn’t that apply to pretty much everyone, including you and me?” More likely, just shake my head and say nothing, but pray for them. People with this excuse are often trying to rationalize their own poor choices by attempting to make it seem too difficult or unrealistic to avoid sin: “I can’t imagine doing that myself, so it can’t possibly be done!” :shrug:


Slight tweak: I believe hypocrisy is when you profess to believe something that you do not actually believe. We all fail to follow Church teaching, i.e. sin, at some time or other–but if we actually believe Church teaching–then we are not hypocrites–we are simply weak sinful men who fail to always live up to what we believe.

OP: Yes by all means get these people a dictionary.

The peace of Christ,


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