How loving are Catholics?

Im reading a book called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, who apparently is non-Christian. It has a lot to do with having the sense of self worth to be vulnerable and loving to our families and friends. I think there is much truth in her research and I’m into the book.

Anyway, Brown basically seems to say that she found no connection between religion and empathy. Im struggling with the doubt that maybe Catholics arent any more empathetic or humbly loving with others than the general population.

And I’ve heard that the divorce rates for Catholucs are the same as with the gen. pop. But of course I know that the Church is unfailingly holy and that Catholics are known by their love, which I have experienced.

I could use some guidance. Thanks. Peace of Mary and Jesus.

Well, one needs to discern perhaps carefully.

I think the divorce rates for Catholics who regularly attend Sunday mass without fail is much lower, but I’d need to check.

It’s hard to do a litmus test on “empathy” per individual human on the planet, much less Catholics, but God knows. You do have some point, I’m sure. God expects us to love our brother and sister in spirit and in truth, which should indeed show itself in concrete ways at times.

I’ve not read the book, myself; even so, I can safely say that Jamal stated very well my own first impressions. In addition, I would propose that the world’s concept of love towards others often includes acceptance of behaviours and ideals God teaches us are harmful. To love need not mean to embrace everything; our Lord loves us all, but He does no such thing!

Indeed, it is possible to love the sinner and not the sin. However, this is not easily accomplished and something we must constantly work towards, by grace. Without doubt, we all fall short here, highlighting our daily need of the Holy Spirit to transform us.

I have always been a bit suspicious of the word “empathy”, a fairly new addition to the language, because it is like a strait jacket only allowing you to help if you have experienced the same situation as another. Sympathy, however, is a recognition of another’s problems and then add to that your love for the good of the other and you have a formula for helping.
The fact is, that even going through the same set of external circumstances, no one knows how another person feels and cannot “feel with them”. But, a person can recognize someone hurting and be alongside them in their suffering, which is what sympathy συμπάθεια means, utilizing the virtue of charity (love). If “sympathy” is simply saying, “I feel bad for you; I sympathize with you” and then you go about other business, of course, it means nothing, and is dead just as faith without works is dead.

Problem with that statistic on divorce rates is its based on self-declaration. Someone says their Catholic but they may not have stepped into a Church in 15 years. When you look at couples who attend services (Catholic or Orthodox or Protestant) and pray together on a regular basis, the divorce rate is way smaller. I’ve heard that the divorce rate for couples that regularly pray together is 0.001%.

.001% ahhh c’mon…you’ve roused the skeptic in me. :slight_smile:

I agree with her that there isn’t necessarily a connection between religion and empathy.
We have Atheists who are very empathetic, and extremely religious people who are not at all.
We are a collection of personalities in this world --spread out over all the religions and non-religions.

I’m not sure…why you were thinking Catholics are more “empathic or humbly loving” than those of other religions or non-believers?

I’ve never heard anyone think or say this before.

. 0.001%

Other sources give various different numbers:
“Gallup Poll that was done in 1997 by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement in Phoenix Arizona that showed the divorce rate among couples who pray together regularly is 1 out of 1,152. That’s a divorce rate of less than one percent. Could it be that prayer is the missing link in keeping couples together? It’s prayer that makes two people one and binds two hearts together with the heart of God.” 8.68%(

Dr. Phillip C. McGraw writes in his bestselling book, Relationship Rescue:

… an interesting statistic shared by David McLaughlin in his wonderful series entitled The Role of the Man in the Family reflects that the divorce rate in America is at a minimum one out of two marriages. But the reported divorce rate among couples that pray together is about one in ten thousand. Pretty impressive statistic, even if you reduce it a thousandfold.
( 0.01%

So yeah, the numbers vary, but clearly no where near 50%

I’m still single, but I do believe that when spouses regularly pray together, Grace is far more abundant, so I would not be surprised if it’s less than 1 in 100 as a divorce rate.

I just wish the lord would bring me a good spouse, but his will be done, not mine.

Thanks for sharing that.

They probably aren’t any more humble, or loving. The Church isn’t a resort for perfect saints, it is a hospital for sinners. Everyone in The Church is a sinner. The difference is that we are called to be more humble and loving and we are commanded to work to become more so. But don’t forget, The Church is not a social services organization.
The Mission of The Church is to bring everyone to Christ for the salvation of their souls and be humble and loving while we are doing that.

I was just reading a Pastoral Letter that I got this weekend, and it seems appropriate as we’re discussing loving the sinner, not the sin, so I’m going to tell you briefly what was written.

In it the Cardinal says that central to the work of the Synod was the desire to strengthen and reinvigorate the pastoral practice of the Church. He says that while individuals may not be keeping to the pattern the Lord asks of us, their lives are often marked by real goodness. He says that two things were very clear. The first is that we should never identify people by their sexual orientation. Every person is endowed with unique dignity, both as an individual and as a Christian. This dignity is always, always to be respected. Secondly, it is the teaching of the Church that they are not only to be respected but also always accepted, with compassion and with sensitivity (Catechism 2358). This teaching has to be translated into loving care, in our daily life in the Church, in our parishes, and indeed in society.
He says that Pope Francis went a little further. He spoke of ‘the Church composed of sinners… that has doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent and not only the just.’ He spoke about the duty of the pastors always to welcome into the Church those in difficult situations or in trouble. He said that pastors were not simply to welcome them but to go out and find them, just as the Good Shepherd did for those who had drifted away. This is essentially what he said though I’ve condensed it.

I don’t like the word empathy too much… I prefer love. Loving our neighbour as ourselves… including our enemies, which can be tough.

The problem with the non-religious isn’t that the people aren’t good people in themselves, it’s that there’s something missing. Jesus tells us to love God first and foremost, and to love neighbour as ourselves. Good people outside of faith can only achieve the second. Some people inside the Church only achieve the first… but ultimately we need to do both.

Thanks everyone. I agree that definitiins and many complexities figure in. I do believe that practicing Catholics as a group are more humble and loving than others, by the grace of God, despite the fact that they remain sinners and that some would even be in mortal sin perhaps at times. I dont mean this in a superiority sense since of course the last will be first, etc. I hope non-Catholics would not feel demeaned. would seem to me ,though, to be a point of faith. Otherwise the Church would not be th Body of Christ.

I’m not sure why Brown isnt noticing the connections between practicing the Catholic faith and being more compassionate to self and others. But I think part of it kay just be that she is looking more at psychological health/connectedness than spiritual health/connectedness. I think there is a difference. Anyway those are my two cents. Also she may have a bias against religion or be somewhat religiiusly relativistic despite being a good persin

Thanks again fir your help. Peace of Mary and Jesus,


I haven’t seen any real connection between empathy and love. And I mean love in the Scriptural sense, not today’s over-emotional sense. I would be highly skeptical of any study that was determining a level of “love” based upon a level of empathy.

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