How Catholic do I need to be to become Catholic?

I grew up in a Protestant (Presbyterian) home, but over the years have developed a admiration and appreciation for Catholicism, and am considering joining the Church. I am very well-read on Catholic and Reformed Protestant theology, and believe there is really very little true difference between Catholic and Protestant beliefs. Many distinctions, but few differences.

Anyway, in the areas where there are true differences, I believe in some areas the Catholics have it right and the Protestants are wrong, while in other areas the Protestants have it right and the Catholics are wrong. So my question is, while certainly submitting to the authority of the Catholic Church (Presbyterians have the exact same requirement), do I have to agree with every jot and tittle of the Catechism? Can I agree largely with Church doctrine and submit to her authority without agreeing on every point? Or does it depend on the local parish?

Thanks in advance…

The short answer is “Yes”. You cannot be what what some call a “Cafeteria Catholic”; that is, you accept some teachings of the Church but not others. It is an all-or-nothing proposition. In order to be fully in communion with the Church you must accept all of its teachings and strive to follow them every day.

Every parish follows (or is supposed to follow) the same teachings.

Thanks for the response! So, it’s not enough simply to submit to the authority of the Church on a particular belief, I have to intellectually agree with it as well?

To be a Catholic, you must believe in all of the Church’s doctrines. If you truly submitted to her authority, then you shouldn’t be disagreeing with her teachings in certain areas.

So does that mean that all those cradle Catholics who don’t agree with all the Church’s doctrines are not real Catholics? For example:

Fully 85% of self-identified Catholics ages 18-29 said in a 2014 Pew Research Center survey that homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with just 13% who said it should be discouraged.

Similarly, despite the church’s continued opposition to same-sex marriage, most U.S. Catholics (57%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally wed, according to aggregated 2014 Pew Research surveys. And again, younger Catholics are particularly likely to express this view. Three-quarters of Catholic adults under 30 support legal same-sex marriage, compared with 53% of Catholics ages 30 and older (including just 38% of those 65 and older).

pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/10/16/young-u-s-catholics-overwhelmingly-accepting-of-homosexuality/

That’s a lot of Catholics who don’t believe in all the Church’s doctrines.

I’m not sure I agree with your second sentence. I can submit to the laws of the secular government without agreeing with their wisdom. Doesn’t the same apply to the Church? I can submit to her God-given authority to develop doctrines and canon law, but does that I mean I have to personally agree with all of it?

I should have been more clear. In order to be a good Catholic, one must believe in the Church’s teachings. If you are non-Catholic and want to become Catholic, you won’t be able to unless you believe in all of the Church’s teachings.

I don’t understand how you can believe in the Church’s authority to teach and submit to her authority but, at the same time, refuse to submit to that authority by denying some of her teachings.

It is perfectly permissible to not understand or not “intellectually agree” with certain church teachings – provided you trust in them anyways. This is faith. It’s also humility.

Have faith, and pray that you may gain understanding.

I may not understand why missing mass is wrong and think it’s no big deal, but I trust that the Church teaches true and will submit to her authority…even while I struggle.

Yes. You can’t say, for example, “I agree with the Church that abortion is wrong” but turn around and say “I disagree about birth control; I’m still going to use it.” You are expected to follow ALL of the Church’s teachings; even those you may personally disagree with.

Now having said that, even myself as a cradle Catholic, don’t necessarily agree with everything the Church teaches yet I strive to adhere to it’s teachings. If there is something I don’t agree with, I don’t just blow it off; I try to learn more about about the issue and understand why the Church teaches what it does on that particular matter. Once I learn more about it, I’m often like “Yeah, that makes sense.” and I don’t necessarily disagree anymore.

Let me tell you this: It is not easy trying to be an adherent Catholic. My personal belief is that there is no such thing as a “good Catholic.” A “good Catholic” is not something that you are or become; it is something that you constantly strive to be.

as I read through all the posts in this thread I saw the conflict or confusion when hearing the words “you must submit”, then reading pew survey results, and so on.
We don’t always understand what it is that we agree or disagree with until digging deeper…The Catechism of the Catholic Church is just so beautiful. I would recommend looking at this rather than the world for your discernment. The Catechism, the Gospels, Pope Francis, even prior Pope Benedict and St John Paul II…these things will enlighten to what the teachings are in a real life way. I read homilies of Pope Francis almost daily.
Praise be Jesus +++

I think every Catholic I have ever met, including myself, was cafeteria in some way.

Hello! I understand your questioning. I have the same thoughts myself. Catholicism, as in other faiths, is full of adherents that are in different stages of understanding and faith. No one is expected to always be fully on board intellectually, and have perfect understanding of Catholic dogma. There will be times when you simply don’t understand the* WHY’s *of our dogma. What is needed is a willingness to believe the Church is right even without fully understanding why she is right, and a willingness to abide by the Magisterium. In other words, obedience.

You don’t need to be in perfect agreement with every dogma right now. Understanding comes later, as the Holy Spirit leads you. A toddler doesn’t understand why he can’t place his hand on a hot burner. That understanding comes later, usually after being burned. :wink: Catholic dogma is like that. You don’t have to understand why Mom slapped your hand away from the burner. She was protecting you. Just stay away from the stove! You’ll understand later. The Magisterium is Mom. We sometimes don’t understand why she slaps our hands, but she is thinking of our good and protecting her flock.

Catholic dogma is well thought out in detail. Many, if not most, Protestant faiths do not have nearly the same level of detailed dogma as the Catholic Church does. It is very easy to believe like a non-denominational Christian. “I believe in Jesus, hallelujah, I’m saved!” That about sums up non-denominational Christianity. Catholicism requires great intellectual reasoning to fully comprehend it all. That comes with study, praying and maturity and it takes time. Baby steps first, marathons later! :smiley:

So what is a “good Catholic” anyway?" Just wondering how one can make that judgment. LOLs. Peace.

You must submit to the Church’s authority and attempt to resolve areas where you disagree. I was raised Presbyterian also, but there were things that were hard to let go of. Not because I vehemently disagreed, but because they went against what I was raised to believe. There are certain things you can disagree with based on prudential judgements, but not in matters of dogma and doctrine.

If you choose to enter the Catholic faith you will make a profession of faith that states:

I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.

Now what does that mean? For me it meant that if there was a teaching I disagreed with, the fault must lie with my understanding and it was incumbent on me to find where I was wrong. I actually prefer the older profession of faith since it was more implicit on what a convert was professing to. The old form is like this:

I, N.N., … years of age, born outside the Catholic Church, have held and believed errors contrary to her teaching. Now, enlightened by divine grace, I kneel before you, Reverend Father …, having before my eyes and touching with my hand the holy Gospels. And with firm faith I believe and profess each and all the articles contained in the Apostles’ Creed, that is: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell, the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

I firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all the other constitutions and ordinances of the Church.

I admit the Sacred Scriptures in the sense which has been held and is still held by holy Mother Church, whose duty it is to judge the true sense and interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and I shall never accept or interpret them in a sense contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers.

I profess that the sacraments of the New Law are truly and precisely seven in number, instituted for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessary for each individual: baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. I profess that all confer grace, and that baptism, confirmation, and holy orders cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also accept and admit the ritual of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of all the aforementioned sacraments.

I accept and hold in each and every part all that has been defined and declared by the Sacred Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification. I profess that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, real, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is really, truly, and substantially present, and that there takes place in the Mass what the Church calls transubstantiation, which is the change of all the substance of bread into the body of Christ and of all substance of wine into His blood. I confess also that in receiving under either of these species one receives Jesus Christ whole and entire.

I firmly hold that Purgatory exists and that the souls detained there can be helped by the prayers of the faithful.

Likewise I hold that the saints, who reign with Jesus Christ, should be venerated and invoked, that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.

I firmly profess that the images of Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God, ever a Virgin, as well as of all the saints should be given due honor and veneration. I also affirm that Jesus Christ left to the Church the faculty to grant indulgences, and that their use is most salutary to the Christian people. I recognize the holy, Roman, Catholic, and apostolic Church as the mother and teacher of all the churches, and I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ.

Moreover, without hesitation I accept and profess all that has been handed down, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and by the general councils, especially by the Sacred Council of Trent and by the Vatican General Council, and in special manner all that concerns the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. At the same time I condemn and reprove all that the Church has condemned and reproved. This same Catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, I now freely profess and I truly adhere to it. With the help of God, I promise and swear to maintain and profess this faith entirely, inviolately, and with firm constancy until the last breath of life. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and publicly professed by all who depend on me and over whom I shall have charge.

So help me God and these holy Gospels.

The newer form is close to the old “short form” without the final profession that says “and I reject and condemn whatever she [the Church] rejects and condemns.”

That doesn’t make the doctrines untrue or not right. Years of media propaganda have confused Christians about the true nature of human sexuality.

Ed

I agree with you completely. I’m not saying I would simply disregard those aspects of the Church’s teaching I don’t like - submitting to the authority of the Church means acknowledging her authority and obeying, even if I don’t always like it. For example, I don’t agree with the teaching on birth control, but if became Catholic I would certainly obey and adhere to her teachings.

Thanks to both of you. Very helpful and very true. And you’re right, most of the Protestant faiths do not have nearly the same level of dogma or thoughtful teaching.

If you were to convert, you need to believe the the following:

I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.

The above is said by the candidates at Easter Vigil before they are confirmed.

I became Catholic last year, and the only thing I remember having to affirm that I believe were the different part of the Apostle’s Creed. I was clear with my adult catechism instructors that there were beliefs of the church which I was still struggling to agree with, but that I would accept them because of the church’s authority handed down from Christ through the Apostles. There’s a difference between agreement and acceptance. The first is intellectual, the other is practical; that is, it involves your actual practice.

The Catholic Church has been a breath of fresh Spirit for me, and I agree with the vast majority of what she teaches, and I understand why she teaches some of the things I don’t intellectually agree with. I accept them even when I disagree, and even when I don’t understand why (though I can’t think of an instance where I disagree but don’t understand why she holds that position.)

Again, even when I disagree I still follow her teachings because the church has the authority; not I. My beliefs have changed in some areas over the last year, and I’ve come to agree with the church more in some areas. I’m sure it’s a process, because none of us is perfect. In our imperfection we accept that the church is lead by the one who is perfect (God, not the Pope. :rotfl: )

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