Minimum set of DOGMATIC beliefs

What is the absolute minimum that one has to believe in order to be a Roman Catholic? I have searched your various forae on this and found several threads devoted to this topic, but i would like to narrow the focus a bit: what have you-all’s professional THEOLOGIANS said is the minimum that has to be believed? And please, no one say, “Get a catechism and read it.” I did: a 1954 Baltimore catechism. I found it to be an (interesting) mashup of discipline, doctrine, and dogma (you-all do make that distinction, right?). I’m trying to get at the dogma only.
Here’s “the rest of the story” on this: i, myself, am a convinced secular humanist, a.k.a., atheist. I have a friend who is very very Irish (the real “old country” deal), and very very Catholic. Except … he does not believe in: Original Sin. Nor in Virgin Birth. Nor in Papal Infallibility … and a bunch of other things “traditionally” associated w/ RCism. So the discussion has become “what does it MEAN to be a Roman Catholic”, whence it has devolved into “what is the very minimum you really really have to believe to be a catholic” . Can you NOT believe in God, for example, and still be a Catholic? i’ve known several Jews who definitely did NOT believe in the existence God, but who still considered themselves Jewish – but that in turn was explained to me as possible b/c they each had a Jewish mother … which, apparently, is all that it takes to be a Jew: a Jewish mother; no BELIEF of any kind is necessary!! is it same-same re: Roman Catholicism?]
Thank you, and Pax Vobiscum y’all !!
/s/ rollingthunder6
graduate, College of Conflict Management;
University of Southeast Asia.
" I partied on the Ho Chi Minh trail – tiến lên !! "

Not sure if its the minimum, but I go by this list personally:

to mr. joab anias: thank you. that’s the kind of stuff i’m looking for.
/s/ rollingthunder6

The Nicene Creed is a wonderful summary of Catholic beliefs.

Concerning your friend, I don’t know what to tell you. I have ‘Catholic’ friends who disagree about the Church’s teaching on contraception, premarital sex, etc, but still hold to the most basic tenets of the faith (if you can really separate sexual immorality from those, which is debatable…). However, the rejection of Original Sin and the Incarnation mean that your friend doesn’t understand the purpose Christ came into this world, and may go on to him not believing in Christ’s divinity. Also, papal infallibility comes directly from Christ when He handed the keys of the Church over to Peter. He gave Peter the power to rule and discern - what you bind on Earth should be bound in Heaven…

It’s not like there is an entrance exam to become a Catholic, nor does calling oneself one thing or another doesn’t mean it to be so. That’s like saying what is the minimum requirements to call oneself patriotic. Is it knowing the words of the national anthem, being a citizen, flying the flag, etc. Sadly, for your friend, though he calls himself a Catholic, I pray that his beliefs are in direct opposition to the teachings of the Church, handed down from Christ, who fulfilled the prophets, through the Apostles and all of their successors through Pope Benedict XVI and all the clergy, and that is a grave matter.

dear mister Mumbles140: i also thought about the nicene creed but did not know if the contents thereof are the “official party line” . thank you for your response

You are welcome. If you look into the history of the Council of Nicea, it was the first official unification of doctrine since Christ’s teaching. Though the early Church fathers agreed on the teachings, and sought to correct the heretics, the Nicene Creed was something for all Christians to learn - a summary of beliefs on the Trinity, the Incarnation, the need for forgiveness, and the belief in Heaven. Pretty much everything else since can be derived from that.

Catholics must accept ALL the teachings of the Church. There is not a minimum you can believe in and not believe in others.

Well, sort-of.

First, there is a hierarchy of truth. There are statements which are de fide and others which are designated by other, lessor degrees of certitude. This doesn’t mean we can pick-and-choose what we will believe, but it does recognize that some truths are more certain, and more essential, than others.

Next, we are a people of faith, not an intellectual debate club, and we are saved by grace through faith, not by passing a test on essential beliefs.

In addition, we are “those who are BEING saved,” as St. Paul writes - we are all works in progress. And it is not God’s “will that anyone should perish” - he is patiently calling us to accept the gift of grace and to grow in the faith.

One becomes a Catholic by being baptized or received into the Church. One lives out ones catholic faith, nurturing and growing it or ignoring and starving it. And for the most part, one is judged by God at death, not by the Church in life (public declarations of excommunication are rare, and even that declaration, according to Scripture, is made in the hope that the person will ultimately return to grace).

It is possible to be a poorly catechised catholic, an ignorant catholic, even a rebellious catholic - one is, in fact, still catholic.

Our obligation is to reach out, always, to encourage and even to correct - not to condemn. (Spiritual works of mercy . . .)

Thank you, and Thistle as well, for directing our minds to the matter at hand. Even Baptism into the Catholic Church makes one Catholic, long after one may stop practicing. And knowledge and adherence to Church teaching is desired, but Mary was the only person, solely with human nature, to obey all the laws and teachings of Christ. It is important to remember that we all sin, and we all need the grace of God to draw us back to Him who died for us. Let us pray for each other, ourselves, and everyone in the world, that we may abandon our sinful, ignorant, or defiant ways and embrace the Bride of Christ by submitting to His Divine Will.

I implore you to hold all the beliefs taught by the Catholic Church. We have a term, “Cafeteria Catholics”, for those who pick and choose what they wish to believe and practice and what they have no interest in being a part of. Nothing in this world is worth doing half-heartedly.


I think an answer that applies to every human being is that they believed everything God capacitated by grace to believe. So whether that be someone who was exposed to true dogma his whole life or whether that person was saved by Christ exceptionally (e.g. he grew up alone on a desert island yet believed in the majesty of the Creator and recognized his fallenness). But for most people that is to embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church and follow them in accord with his/her abilities.

As well, let’s say a young person grows up in the Catholic Church and is predisposed to accept the teachings of the Church. If that person died young before being taught the dogma of the Assumption or that demons are created beings, the person is not going to be held accountable for that.

Besides the Apostles and Nicene Creeds (there are other, fuller, more ancient versions of the Creed along with the Didache–a very ancient and short version of the Catechism). Another very brief recounting of the dogmas of the Church is:


Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.

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