How much do you need to agree on to be Catholic?

Sorry about the long title there, but here it is. As you may have noted, I am an ex momon turned monotheist, and now I am trying to decide where to go with my faith now. I have a strong desire to worship God so I know I need direction. Now I’ve already been baptized into the RCC church as an infant, and there are many things that I find attractive about it so I have determined to look into it. I’ve sent out an email concerning possibly going to RCIA and going from there, but as I’m sitting around waiting to hear back and talk to someone I have a question for you all because this weighs on my mind.

Exactly how much do you have to agree with RCC policy to be a Catholic? For example, I disagree with the stance the church has taken on birth control. Is that going to be a huge problem? Or say that I generally disagree with abortion but agree with certain medical exceptions?

Thanks for your help!

You will get many answers to this. I will give you mine.

You need to agree 100%. We are to be holy as God is Holy. That is the hard part. There are times that you struggle. THere may be times that you doubt. You may even have trouble accepting things. You, like all of us, are human and are therefore not perfect.

Now, the first step, in my mind, is to see exactly what the Church teaches and why. If you understand that and still have an issue, you must assess why that is. Sometimes, it is our own pride that gets in the way. Sometimes it is a lack of trust in God. The former is a seed to sin, the latter is a lack of Faith and Trust and must be prayed about. It is hard to give yourself to God completely.

If these are the only two issues you have, you are better off than most. Just keep praying and working. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the honest answer Ralph. Those are pretty much the only objections I came to, I’m sure I’ll run into a couple more things along the way. I guess I’ll look into it and see before I get too excited over those issues.

You will receive varying responses to this question. At a bare minimum, one should believe with everything stated in the Creed. There are also dogmas of the Church that must be believed. I personally think that one should submit themselves to the Church and realize that everything She believes is for a reason. Even if I don’t understand everything, I put my trust in the Church. Most things I don’t necessarily understand, I come around to believing in the end. I believe what the Church believes.

Nicene Creed -

Apostles’ Creed -

Maybe someone else can give a synopsis of the dogmas.

I hope your search brings you to the Catholic Church. We would love to have you.

GK Chesterton, a convert to Catholicism, put it well when he said(paraphrasing):

We don’t need a Church that is right when we are right, we need a Church that is right when we are wrong.:eek: :slight_smile:

thanks everyone for the insight.

I would say don’t put terms on your faith. Just know that being in the presence of Christ every single Sunday Mass is enough to get you through anything. You have to trust in Him to show you the way through your doubts.

In my signature it says “Be Still and Know”. To me that means still your mind and your soul and know that God will help you through your questions about your faith.

He helped me. I still face a long road with an anulment, but I know in my heart God would not take me this far and leave me.

God Bless You and Bring You Peace!

Oh, Nebula, I do hope (and pray) you’ll join us!

This article might help you with the contraception issue. It did me!

In the matter of abortion… I’ll try to be concise about what I believe. It will probably make me seem terse, but it’s just because I’m keeping the verbiage down.

It’s scientific fact that, at the moment of conception - even before that first cell divides - a new genome is created, with half its DNA from the mother, and half from the father. This is a new human being, and an innocent one. It is neither fair nor just to kill it just because it was conceived during the commission of a horrible crime. (I can certainly understand the desire to do so.) In fact, the mother can reject the evil of the crime by giving the baby the gift of life, and also by giving it up for adoption - giving some loving couple the ultimate gift. (Not that it’s easy.)

Since the zygote is a developing human, it is not a “blob of cells.” If it’s OK to kill a developing human in the womb, then it’s OK to kill a human at *any *stage of developing. Abortion is murder.

This one is even tougher: We may not abort a baby even if it threatens the mother’s life. We must wait until the threat becomes real; if the baby dies during emergency surgery to save the mother’s life, we can live with that, and grieve. The death of the baby is a side effect of the emergency surgery, not a direct abortion.

We may not abort a baby even if it will die soon after birth. We may not abort a baby if it is not perfect. We take what God gives us. Did you know that 90 percent of all babies with Down’s Syndrome are murdered in the womb? How horrible. All babies are a gift from God, not just the healthy ones.

If you can’t bring yourself to agree with these issues, then don’t become a Catholic, because you wouldn’t be a faithful one. But if you find that you trust the teachings of the Church on other issues, and can take it on trust that she’s right about these things and you just don’t yet know why, then go ahead. I did! And when I found out why she teaches these things, I found Christ’s love in all of it, and accepted it. :thumbsup:

God bless you,


I’d recommend Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium by the Theologian Rev. Francis A. Sullivan.

I was confused about the different terminologies of different church documents, the weight of assent demanded of each, etc and his book cleared it up well for me.

Essentially, he states that Catholics are expected to grant assent of “religious submission” to 100% of the teachings of the magisterium, however there are levels of doctrine in the church that one is only expected to essentially “give the magisterium the benefit of the doubt ALWAYS” and only in cases of non-revealed and/or non-infallible doctrine can dissent be permissible AS LONG AS, a Catholic with a fully formed conscience did his or her best to fully accept and internalize the teaching (compared to a Cafeteria Catholic who will automatically write off the magisterium with respect to a teaching of which he or she ALREADY has a preconceived notion).

Hi happily and Ruthie, thanks so much for your insight.

The abortion issue isn’t such a big thing for me since I could never personally be involved in one no matter already and for others I am already generally against it so tightening that up probably wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

The contraception one is much trickier, probably because my mom is the youngest of 16 kids and unfortunately their family wasn’t particularly tight or loving and now most of the kids are atheists. Either way, I appreciate the article and it will give me points to think about.

Let me take this opportunity to Pre-Welcome you to the catholic faith. :slight_smile:

You have been given some good advice.

May God bless you and keep you.

RCIA is a time for learning, asking questions, praying and discerning.

It isn’t about forcing yourself to believe something you don’t believe, it is about forming your own conscience, which requires understanding (study) and the help of the Holy Spirit (prayer).

I had HUGE issues with ABC myself, right up to a few weeks before my baptism. For me, the conclusion was that I believe the Catholic Church to be the Church that Jesus established, and I believe it to be the guided by the Holy Spirit.

I had come to understand the reasoning, it was faith that was needed to let go of practicing ABC. I just did it, with a big prayer to God to help me out. It was not easy and scary as hell.

Don’t let fear hold you back from doing what you believe you need to do.

So true Rebecca, great words. I was letting small issues holding me back from getting into RCIA where I know I can think about things more deeply. LIke everyone has been saying, I know that if i come to believe that the RCC is the way that GOd wants me to go then that will make all the difference on the smaller issues.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Thanks highway :slight_smile: God bless you too.

The Pope says no Cafeteria Catholics, and since he owns the church that mean you pretty much have to accept it all.

That’s a bit of an over-simplication of the expectation, but yes, Catholics are expected to give assent to ALL teachings of the magisterium with a “submission of will and intellect”.

Would anyone disagree that it is ok to be struggling to accept it or trying to conform you mind and will? That comes with time, prayer, and faith. THe problem comes when you outright reject it.

Any disagreement?

Can someone not use the “struggling” arguement as an excuse to continue believing how they choose to believe? If so, what does it mean for the catholic who does that?

I think this is why some protestants think catholics worship the pope. They have this perception that catholics are robots who answer only to the pope. They have a hard time understanding why catholics don’t seem to “struggle” with issues of faith. Some tend to think that catholics just do what they are told to do, and that gets them to heaven. Now, I am not saying I believe those things at all, but some do.

The arguement about struggling is one that applies to everything. We all have struggles with faith. We all have issues with temptation and sin. It is a daily struggle. With these acceptance of doctrine issues, our job is to learn them, see the truth in the teaching, and, through prayer and self-discipline, accept them even if we do not like them. Now, if we can not ever see the Truth in them, we should not be Catholic OR we should set aside our pride and deal with it.

These things are not true because the Church says they are. The Church says they are true because they are true.

Actually this is a good question that I have wondered about in any branch of Christianity.

We tend to consider theological propositions in black and white terms. Either you believe and agree with it or you don’t.

But real life is not that way. At least I am not that way. Who knows, I might be weird. I tend to look upon belief as a continuum with the following points along the way:
(1) God said it, I believe it, that settles it.
(2) I believe it, but am open to changing my mind if I am wrong.
(3) Good grief, I have no idea whether that is true or not.
(4) I’m skeptical of it, but who knows I might be wrong. So persuade me please.
(5) No way Jose! That is from the pits of hell.

Obviously you don’t want to be a (5) on any point of Catholicism and be a Catholic. But I am curious about the other points along the way to “God said it, I believe it, that settles it”.

It also seems important to me how you handle this if you are somewhere in the middle. Obviously it would not be good if you are a verbal dissenter and try to disrupt the faith of others. But if you are a good trooper and keep your skepticisms to yourself?

This question obviously applies to any other faith and I would ask others the same thing.

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