As some of you may have read on this forum, I occasionally bring up disagreements that I have with current Church doctrine or teachings. Usually, I get slammed for it by the forum’s more devout and zealot posters. Sometimes these posters either call me a heretic or accuse me of heresy. I used to take offense at that because I’m a cradle Catholic and I to go to Church, and feel I have a pretty good relationship with God. I admit, I’m not a perfect practicing Catholic, but I think I do pretty good, but I’m also not afraid to question, if I think the Church is in error over some issue.

Anyway, one poster gave a definition of heresy as one who disagrees with the teachings/doctrines of the Church (I’m paraphrasing). Thus, according to his definition, I was practicing heresy by disagreeing with the Church.

If his definition is accurate, isn’t the Church then full of heretics to one degree or another? For instance, many here feel Vatican 2 was a step backwards for the Church and thus disagree with the reforms that came with it. Aren’t those folks who disagree with those reforms then considered heretics according to the definition that was provided me? They openly disagree with the Church on those subjects.

My point being, can’t one disagree with the Church on an issue and still remain a good Catholic and w/o being referred to as a heretic? For you posters who like to throw that accusation around remember, “he who is w/o sin throw the first stone”.

Every Catholic in the world probably has something he/she disagrees with the Church on. There are times where the heresy label has been earned (denying Christ’s divinity, etc); however IMO, most of the discussions that go in this forum do not warrant a heresy accusation.

Just my :twocents:


Here is the Catholic Church’s definition of Heresy:

Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith

So, whether or not one is guilty of heresy depends upon what it is one disagrees with and whether it is obstinate denial or doubt.

The examples you give-- “disagreeing” with liturgical reforms, etc-- is NOT heresy because those are not truths which must be believed. Those are disciplines on which opinions are perfectly fine.

I don’t know what things you say you “disagree with” but if they are part of the divine law or moral law, then yes that could be going in the direction of heresy. But, questioning “why” the Church teaches what it does is not the same as denying a truth of the faith. So, you’d have to give examples of what YOU “disagree” with.


I’m not familiar with your posts. Like you, I’m a cradle Catholic and practice my faith regularly. In what way do you disagree with the Church?

For example (since I don’t have specifics), do you disagree with birth control and therefore choose to practice it? Do you disagree with euthanasia and believe that people should be able to commit suicide?

Or, do you disagree with some of the Church’s teachings because you don’t have enough information or don’t understand the logic or reasoning?

Disagreeing can be a lack of understanding or knowledge, and the other can be outright refusing to follow Catholic Tradition.

Our faith isn’t a cafeteria; you can’t just pick and choose which teachings to follow and which to disregard. Humbly pray and ask God to enlighten you. However, you may to accept that you may never know the reason behind some of the Church teachings.

Catholic Obedience should always be obedience within Tradition. Our Lord Jesus Christ hands the Catholic Faith down to us as Tradition - through our lawful superiors.

The Catholic Church teaches that obedience is part of justice, which is one of the four cardinal virtues – these cardinal virtues are subordinate to the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. An interesting point to consider – Faith is greater than obedience, therefore, if obedience acts in such a way that would harm the Faith, then Catholics have a duty to not obey their superiors.

Granted, some zealous posters may throw stones without seeing their own faults (holier than thou). A Church is for sinners to go, and we all have our faults. If someone is harsh in their criticism towards you, graciously accept their criticism and prayer for them; don’t lash back. (I know this is difficult to do.) If someone stumbles because of ignorance, offer a helping hand.

Whatever you do to the least of my breathen, you do to me.

I hope this way helpful.


Mike, I think it boils down to the exchange we had on another topic.

Can one disagree with something the Church says (either a serious matter or not) and pray that if you’re wrong, that the Holy Spirit will change YOUR heart, and if the Church is wrong, that the Holy Spirit will change the appropriate hearts in the Church?

Can one hold the opinion that the Church COULD be wrong?


Doesn’t it depend on what your disagreement is? For instance, if you reject an infallible teaching, then you’re on thin ice. But if you were mistaken, and didn’t know that the teaching is infallible (e.g. the Immaculate Conception or Assumption of Mary), and that is pointed out to you, and then you correct your belief, then that’s not heresy.

Also, there is much disagreement among theologians as to what is infallible and what is not. A very small minority claim that the Church’s teachings on contraception and female priests are NOT infallible. However, I would venture that most practicing Catholics (including myself) who have considered these issues think that these teachings are infallible.

So, it depends on the doctrine you disagree with. If you are wrong about an infallible teaching, and accept correction, then refer to Job 5:17-18

17 “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves,
So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
18 “For He inflicts pain, and gives relief;
He wounds, and His hands also heal.


I don’t want this turn into another debate on specific issues. I want it to stay focused on heresy and what really constitutes heresy.

However to answer your questions, I do have some concerns on the Church’s views on some types of contraception, married priests, salvation only through the Catholic Church, to name a few. IMO, on many of these issues, many Catholics have concerns which they feel the Church needs to re-address.

While I know the Church is not a democracy, I think the Church does not listen to it members enough, and it should. Sometimes I think the Church has painted itself into a corner with it’s “absolutes”, and even if secretly some of the Church leadership feels changes may be necessary on a certain issue, it’s past decrees and doctrine make it almost impossible to do so, without upsetting centuries of tradition.

The Churches teachings on never questioning or you could be guilty of heresy is IMO a control mechanism to literally keep in people in line. While it certainly is important for the Church to have certain guidelines and doctrines, to almost forbid it’s members ever to question, I think goes to far. Questioning and searching is part of human nature; a nature God gave us.

A think the Catholic faith is a beautiful faith, and unless something drastic happened, I would never leave it. I agree with almost all the main tenets of the faith, but I do have concerns about some secondary issues.

Whose is to say the Holy Spirit isn’t whispering to the Church on some of these things, but nobody is listening. BTW, I don’t discount the possible fact that I’m the one not listening, but don’t discount the former either.


Yes and Yes.


[quote=mikew262;3349454 I do have some concerns on the Church’s views on some types of contraception, married priests, salvation only through the Catholic Church, to name a few.

The best way to answer these questions is to read about them. About contraception, read Humanae Vitae and anything by Christopher West. About married priests, read Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on the Ordination of Women (1993 or 1994). About salvation only through the Catholic Church, read Lumen Gentium.

These teachings all link up with Scripture and the Catholic Tradition. They naturally flow from Divine Law. To appreciate them, you must research them and understand them. Consult secondary sources, too.

As Catholics, we believe in “one holy catholic and apostolic truth.” Through its Magisterium, the Church - the true Church established by Jesus - remains faithful to the Divine teachings.


I have read most of these, yet my concerns persist. I think much of our doctrine links up quite well with Scripture, others maybe not so well, it’s depends upon interpretation, and even quite possibly on what the culture was of the time.


Well, I know that you didn’t want to discuss specifics, but let me put this to you about the “all salvation is through the Catholic Church” thing. All the Church is saying is that if someone is ‘saved’, no matter what their belief system or whatever, it was through the Catholic Church.

Could be a devote person who is yearning for Jesus but has never heard of Him. It isn’t saying you have to be a Catholic, it’s saying that the Church holds the keys. Don’t get hung up on that.


To the OP:

I, too, am a cradle Catholic, and for many years I felt the same way you do. I was convinced that the Church’s teachings would “evolve” over time, and that maybe someday, for instance, we’d see women priests.


What brought me around was when the Holy Spirit led me to this forum, and I began to read with an open mind. Eventually, I was faced with this logic:

  1. I believe that Christ founded this Church.
  2. I believe that Christ gave it the authority to teach in His name.
  3. I believe that He promised to protect it from error – indeed, to lead it to the truth.

I now was faced with a dilemma. What was I to do with all these little things (like ABC, women priests, etc.) on which I believed the Church was behind the times?

Ultimately, I swallowed my pride and just obeyed. I told myself that, if 1, 2, and 3 above are true, then I need just to say, "OK, Lord – I will submit to the authority of your Church and trust that you will help me to understand the teachings with which I do not agree."

I am here to tell you, brother, that He has done that. It wasn’t long before I was learning new things that I had never heard before in 32 years as a Catholic.

With respect, I urge you to pray about this. Consider what you might find if you truly do just submit to God and trust His Church.

I’ll pray for you.



In “the culture of the time,” contraception was widely, if somewhat unsuccessfully, practiced. The Jewish priesthood, too, was married, as was every pagan priesthood, except, that I know of, the Galli of Cybele–because they were eunuchs.:eek:

But more importantly, we do not accept the Catholic Church on the basis of Scripture. We accept Scripture on the basis of the Catholic Church.


The Church can NEVER be wrong with regard to Faith and Morals.
This is something as a Catholic you must believe and accept.
However you seem to lump all teachings together in your discussions and have difficulty separating out doctrine from discipline.
Using two examples in one of your posts in this thread. Contraception being forbidden (as intrinsically evil) is a doctrine that will never change while priests not being married is not a doctrine but a discipline which is not likely to change but could change.


I ask you. For instance, what if the Church ever did amend their stance on Contraception. Say, for the sake of the prevention of AIDS, disease, and suffering, they said while they frowned upon it, and that abstinence should always be emphasized first, morally, the use of condoms was permissible. How would you react? Outraged? Would you openly disagree with the Church and commit heresy? Possibly leave the Church, or as a good Catholic accept and believe?

Maybe not an easy decision, huh? BTW, pls don’t respond with the “Church would never do that”. Give me an honest, from the gut answer.


But the honest, from the gut answer is, “The Church would never do that.”

The Church’s infallibility does not mean, “whatever the church says would be right.” It means, “the church is not able to teach that which is not right.”

So, unless the entire Faith is false from beginning to end, it would not do that.

That’s, as Tweedledee said, logic.


The Church’s position is generally quite nuanced. For example, you may have read something about this back in '01:

Similiarly, the Church does not teach that the contraceptives themselves are evil, so there has never really been a problem with the use of them for other medicinal purposes.

The key is to not view Catholicism as a random collection of teachings, each self contained. As the Church explains:

“The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine.”

Some African bishops, moved by the horrible problem of AIDS have, seemingly, had a dialog with Rome. Should Rome see fit to make a shift in position, then it will be a moral decision to find the proper balance between two beliefs. Ultimately, we are not to lose sight of what is important. Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan. Most likely, the priest, who walked by on the far side of the road, was not just being heartless or cruel, but was, instead, considering cleanliness laws. In other words, he fixated on on “particular element to the detriment of the whole”.

Finding the proper balance appropriate for the situation and age is one of the reasons we believe that we were blessed with the Magisterium. Sometimes moral conflicts arise, such as the inalienable rights of the human person (the most fundemental of which is life) and the responsibility to defend society. That is why we have a Magisterium to give us proper perspective on something like the death penalty.

And that is probably a good example. Our current Pope, when previously prefect, wrote a compelling explanation on why disagreement with the Church on the death penalty, in of itself, was not obstinate grievous sin (specifically, that it did not rise to the level of CIC 915). So it would seem logical to assert that the disagreement is not, in of itself, heresy.

However, the Church also gives guidance on the proper approach to dissent, like here: (see “The problem of dissent”, and the section that proceeds it).

Having personal doubt about the Church’s position is one thing, arguing that the Church is ‘wrong’, or, say ‘exceeding its authority’ over the faithful is something else.


Hi Mike

You may want to visit a thread that I started, Is the Church a Democracy?. You’d be surprised how much people love to throw around the term “heretic”.

As someone already posted, the term heretic applies to those who are baptized (Roman Catholic) who obstinately oppose what the Church teaches. It doesn’t even apply to those who are born outside of the Catholic Church. The original heretics were born Catholic. We’re now living 500 years later, at least 15 generations later. Then there are Jews, Muslims, Hindus and others who were never part of the Christian church. My point is that some people love to throw this word around without really understanding its application.

Next, there is the issue of heresy. A heresy is a false teaching that is in conflict with a revealed truth. Some false teachings are more fairy tales than conflicts with revelation. Every teaching that is not Catholic is not necessarily heresy. For example, Jews observe the Sabbath on Saturday. Is this heresy? Those who like the word will claim that it is. Those who have historical consciousness will tell you that it is a Jewish tradition that existed long before Christianity. Is it heresy? No. Because it is the observance of the Lord ’s Day for the Jewish community. There are logical reasons why Christians and Jews celebrate the Lord’s Day on different days.

Even a real heresy, such as the denial of the Trinity, does not make the believer a heretic, if that’s all he or she knows. Knowledge has little to do with someone telling you that there is a Trinity. Just because someone says so, doesn’t make it easy for someone who was brought up to believe that there is no such thing to embrace it. You can’t easily embrace a truth until you are fully convinced that it is truth…

The Ecumenical Directory is very clear on the use of any term that is offensive or uncharitable.

III-68-a) The spirit of charity, of respect, and of dialogue demands the elimination of language and prejudices which distort the image of other Christians.

Once it says that charity demands the elimination of such language and prejudice it puts a moral spin on its use. Catholics are not supposed to go around calling others heretics.

As to salvation outside the Church, the case is clear that there is no salvation outside the Mystical Body. This does not apply to outside the institutional Church. The Ecumenical Directory is clear on this too.

**III-b) The Spirit of Christ therefore does not refuse to use these communities as means of salvation. **

All that being said, remember that you’re on CAF. There is a preponderance of Catholics on CAF who are here because they seem to need a place to defend their views and disagreements with the Church. But if you challenge them to send copies of their posts to their Bishops, they find all kinds of excuses not to do so.

Personally, I believe that if you can’t say it to your pastor, Bishop or his Vicar, you’re either not too sure of your opinion or you are just seeking to vent your frustration in a safe environment where no one in authority will stop you or show you that you’re wrong.

I have raised questions of bishops and religious authorities. I have been slammed by some and received reasonable responses from others. I know that they are willing to listen. They’re just not always going to say what we want them to say. As far as people on CAF are concerned, those calling you or me a heretic, take with a grain of salt.

JR :slight_smile:


An infallible teaching can NEVER be changed. Don’t you understand that means the Church will never amend their stance on it. Truth is Truth.



Your question takes us into a very tricky area of theology. Humanae Vitae was never declared ex catedra. However, Church law and tradition teach us that everything that the Holy Father teaches in matters of faith and morals carry the obligation of assent. There is also our faith that the Church cannot err in matters of faith and morals. With both of those ideas working together we have to hold to subscribe to the teachings of Humanae Vitae.

However, as to your question, can any of this ever change? There are historical precedents, though not on issues as serious as this which deal explicitly with the dignity of human life and the dignity of procreation and the procreative act.

There was the case raised by the Church against Galileo and Copernicus.

The Church sentences Galileo (1633)

**We by the grace of God, cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Inquisitors General, by the Holy Apostolic see specially deputed, against heretical depravity throughout the whole Christian Republic.

Whereas you, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, were in the year 1615 denounced to this Holy Office for holding as true the false doctrine taught by many, that the sun is the centre of the world and immovable, and that the earth moves, and also with a diurnal motion; for having disciples to whom you taught the same doctrine; for holding correspondence with certain mathematicians of Germany concerning the same; for having printed certain letters, entitled “On the Solar Spots,” wherein you developed the same doctrine as true; and for replying to the objections from the Holy Scriptures, which from time to time were urged against it, by glossing the said Scriptures according to your own meaning: and whereas there was thereupon produced the copy of a document in the form of a letter, purporting to be written by you to one formerly your disciple, and in this diverse propositions are set forth, following the hypothesis of Copernicus, which are contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture:

This Holy Tribunal being therefore desirous of proceeding against the disorder and mischief thence resulting, which went on increasing to the prejudice of the Holy Faith, by command of his Holiness and of the most eminent Lords Cardinals of this supreme and universal Inquisition, the two propositions of the stability of the sun and the motion of the earth were by the theological “Qualifiers’s qualified as follows: The proposition that the sun is the centre of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to the Holy Scripture. The proposition that the earth is not the centre of the world and immovable, but that it moves, and also with a diurnal motion, is equally absurd and false philosophically, and theologically considered, at least erroneous in faith. **
Today the Church has recinded this decree and accepts what it once called depravity and heresy and what it once considered to be infallible moral truth.

The Church can mistakenly condemn something. But it cannot teach moral error. There is a difference. The Church was sentencing Galileo and Copernicus for moral error and had to recant. However, the Church was not teaching moral error.

I hope this helps answer your question.

JR :slight_smile:

Could the Catholic Church ever change its teaching on homosexuality?



Took the words right out of my mind…exactly what I went through… at 40 years old understand the confusion in people, I had at one time…then I prayed, and asked God’s will, not mine.

He answered, I have been back Home many years now, I share with others, that the Catholic Church is not “man made” It is “Home Made” God’s Home, built by Jesus…1 Tim 3:15

Men and Women are His instruments that get rusty sometimes…

forgive and tune in…with the heart of a child…TRUST and perservere with study and prayer.

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