For "Thinking Catholics" Only


I googled “thinking Catholics” and this is what I found…
The arrogance is mind boggling…

Survival Guide for Thinking Catholics: Ten tips from Tom Reese, S.J.

Not all Catholics agree with the Church all the time, and Tom Reese, S.J., will tell you there is no point in denying it. Questioning is not, however, something most Catholics undertake lightly. These disagreements are often born out of conscience, of genuinely believing in the faith while believing equally something that is at odds with the accepted teachings of the Church.

Reese outlined his strategies for Catholics who think, question, doubt, debate, and disagree. Here are those strategies in a nutshell…

[Edited by Moderator]


#'s 1-5 are reasonable even though on #2 he is hypocritical given the title of the article which implies that if you’re not a dissenter then you’re not a ‘thinking Catholic’.:mad:


That’s always been my biggest gripe with this sort of stuff. It’s always implied that if you actually agree with the Church, you’re somehow intellectually inferior, or that you just don’t think through things for yourself.

“Arrogance” is certainly an appropriate identifier for this line of thought.


How would G.K.Chesterton reply…

“There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.”


Yes, don’t let anyone call you a heretic. The correct term is “schismatic”. :slight_smile:

Actually, the Immaculate Conception was defined in 1854, a good 16 years before Vatican I.

I’ve heard this many times. I’ve even heard people claim that the Church, in 2000 years, has only spoken infallibly once (in defining the Assumption). I find such a claim laughable. The Trinity? Well that could change. Jesus is God? Maybe not tomorrow. But, doggone it, the one thing we can be sure of is that Mary was assumed into heaven! :rolleyes:

Where are the definitive statements of the Church that said “Capital punishment is right” and “Capital punishment is wrong”, or “limbo is real” and “limbo is not”?




The irony is that #4 on the Reese survival list is to “know your history”.


The way this was presented was typical of post-modernist bilge where half-truths are mixed with bits of truth. To say that an informed conscience is our highest authority is actually saying that once we are informed we can pick and choose and be our own pope which is the protestant way of doing things. This is the very kind of thinking that has caused a huge decline in the membership of mainline Protestant denominations since the 1960’s. At the same time fundamentalist denominations have had a dramatic increase in their membership. It is this type of thinking that has made many ill formed Catholics become prey for the fundamentalist denominations.
The standard use of, “only two infallible dogmas have been declared since Vatican Council I” is bogus at best. What is true is there have only been two infallible dogmas declared by Popes ex cathedra. There are more ways that infallibility can be used and the Encyclical by Pope Paul VI “On Human Life” is an example of the second type of infallible document that can be made. It is a teaching of many popes over the ages with no disagreement having ever been taught.
To say that the teaching on Capital Punishment has changed and that now Capital Punishment is wrong is nothing short of a lie. Capital Punishment doctrine has been further defined to say that when we have the means to incarcerate the criminals and keep society safe that way, then we do not need to put them to death.
God bless,


At last a breath of honest fresh air. No doubt a person with blind faith will disagree. Fine. But I think there should be ways to bring about changes with some of the accepted practices in the Catholic church. I am not speaking of making it acceptable to sin. I believe that some of the ideas of our Holy Catholic Church were accepted from cultures which nowadays do not have the same needs and therefore could be changed without changing doctrine. I believe priests should be given the choice to marry but I am Not for women priests, but what about a woman Diaconate? I do have different opinions and you can call me a “cafeteria catholic” if you like. I am still obedient. There should be a healthy way of suggesting and introducing changes which are deemed appropriate by the curia and our cardinals and bishops. I am NOT for a schism or a break. We need unity and corporate responsibility. Yet, we need to be realistic too. One thing I disagree with is the “arrogance” of some of my fellow brothers and sisters who give the imprerssion that, "I am in MY fort s---- you! "If you don’t accept everything we say as true, then we shall “curse” you and move on! Is that really what Jesus was about? I don’t think so. Any other ideas?


I heartily agree with the sentiment you express…that there should be a process in place by which practice, tradition, and implementation of doctrine should be able to be modified without fundamentally altering doctrine itself. This could occur by means of purging outdated cultural norms, observances–even formerly taboo practices.




Kinda my point…it is predominantly a cultural norm propping up the tradition. Men have always held these roles in patriarchal societies. In modern culture, we now know that women, when given comparable educational opportunity~training are fully capable intellectually, spiritually, morally to fulfill the role/duties of priest.


“In modern culture, we now know that women, when given comparable educational opportunity~training are fully capable intellectually, spiritually, morally to fulfill the role/duties of priest.”

“We now know…” Who exactly is “we”? Do we really know? How would we know? This sounds more like an expressed opinion than a result of careful study.


I agree with Schultzz here: “Read your history” indeed. This is a prime example of chronological snobbery. The ancients knew very well that women could fulfill the role of priestess. In fact the ancient world was chock FULL of them. Judaism and Christianity were rather counter-cultural in that they had no provision for female Priests.

Also, an understanding of the Priesthood from the point of view of Social Justice or functional pragmatism shows a very shallow understanding of what the Catholic Priesthood entails.


Don’t you see the arrogance of that accusation? That those who are happy to assent to all of the Church’s doctrines and even traditions are doing so out of “Blind Faith”?

I spent four years studying the Faith at a post-graduate level and I have examined as much as I could and have found nothing that I would want to change. Instead, I have found that I am fortunate to be in a Church that Christ Himself left under the authority of men, one of them the keybearer and rock who took the leadership role that Jesus commissioned him with. So I understand the hierarchical structure of the Church and I am content to submit to their authority–which is guaranteed by Jesus (Mt16:13-20) and the Holy Spirit(Jn 14:15-19). This is why St. Paul calls the Church the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).

So there are many people who can give good reasons for their giving their assent to the Magisterial authority, the God-apointed guardians/interpreters of Tradition and Scripture.

The most extraordinary thinkers in the Catholic Faith have been those that have and still defend and interpret the Faith in accordance with and in the proper context of dogmatic Tradition.
JPII, Benedict XVI ,Newman,Sheed,Chesterton,Dubay,Hahn,Keating,DeLuBac etc.

The second point is based on a faulty premise–That the fast-paced everchanging culture has the right or the moral imperative to change the Church. I thought Jesus appointed the Church to resist the culture and to change it–Not to be changed by it!

Lastly, it seems that you are thinking as an American-that Church is a democracy! That it should be dictated to by a largely depraved majority and not led by the men who inherit the keys.

I will not curse you or say move on–Just be more of a “Thinking Catholic” and don’t be a “Blind follower” of the prevelant culture.


This is a lie(that many people like yourself are taught). The all male priesthood is not a cultural-based, or cultural driven doctrine it goes back to the Levites and even back to the Patriarchs. The priesthood in Leviticus (an all-male) priesthood was not an invention of Moses it was commanded by God.(supposing you accept the O.T. as Inspired Word)

It is also a silly insult toward Jesus. To think that He was limited by “cultural norms”. He chose men in the tradition of the priesthood that He(God) chose before. He had no problem breaking cultural norms or taboos with regard to women and yet he chose only men for the priesthood.


I went to the web site and read it. I guess there is alot of things yes i can say i agree with. But my point is and I always get in trouble with this. (the church was left to Peter, someone has to be the leader) Has to be. IF not why did God leave it to Peter. Its kind of like someone has to have the sense and Grace to make that final Choice. Now i know the Pope isnt perfect but the church was left to him. So its like we can either agree or disagree but we still must trust that God spoke through him to do the right thing. Just like when things dont work out like WE THINK they should. Because we dont have that Divine Wisdom to understand everything. What we may see as wrong or a failure God may not. So yes there will be changes, but God is still in control of his Church and will always be. He promised us that.


i love it – so much so that i’m changing my signature to this quote.


This is a misreading. Pagan priestesses had ritual roles and were not leaders. That was the hangup. No one in ancient cultures thought that women were equal to men. Of course it was no part of true religion for women to function as sacred prostitutes or mere symbols either of fertility or virginity or both. These positions did not in fact dignify women, though contemporary neopagan ideology says that they did.

It was inconceivable in ancient culture for a woman to be treated as equal to a man in her capacity for leadership. That adequately explains why none of the Twelve were women. It is no insult to Jesus to say that proclaiming gender equality was not the purpose of His earthly ministry. He didn’t attack slavery either–does that mean that slavery is OK? He didn’t teach people about germs–does that mean that germ theory is wrong or that Jesus didn’t care about people’s health? He left us to figure a lot of stuff out over time. One of the things that we have figured out is that women are equal to men. A male-only priesthood makes no sense once that conclusion has been reached, and the contemporary attempts to formulate a non-sexist basis for the male-only priesthood are unconvincing.



I love this response. It is replete with humility, loyalty and common sense. This is all we need, although many orthodox-minded Catholics have been, and are, intellectual geniuses, the Church is universal for all people regardless of intellectual prowess.

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