Misconceptions about Catholics

I was at a community center for a card party last weekend. I bumped into a lady I know. I don’t know how the topic got started but she asked me if I would like to marry not to have kids but a companion. She knows I am 41. I replied,

me: ‘Yes if I meet a nice guy but at my age all men are divorced’

her : ‘That doesn’t matter’

me: ‘I am Catholic and I don’t want to marry a divorced man’

her: ’ lots of Catholics do it. I am very Catholic and see nothing wrong with it’

me: ‘lots of Catholics have second marriages but those are not in the Catholic church. They usually are at city hall’

her: ‘No they aren’t, I am very Catholic and I know lots of people who do it’

Me: ‘Well they must have had an annulment’

Her: ‘Yes they are easy to get you just need to pay’

Me: ‘You can pay off a priest, you can not pay off God’

Her; ‘I know an eye surgeon who put an add on e harmony he has 2 kids, is divorced and met a nice woman and is happily married to her now’

Me: ‘I want to live a Catholic lifestyle. I do not wish to date a divorced man’

her; ‘Find then have your lifestyle’ in an angry tone of voice

In the past I would have thought that since God allows her free will, I must also respect her choices and live and let live and not judge. However, I lfet that conversation a bit saddend. No wonder society thinks the church is hypocrites if the majority of people who were baptized yet never attend church make statements such as ‘I am very Catholic and trust me there is nothing wrong with disobeying the church’. I am only left to hope that people will not remember her loud voice but my quiet way of refusing to sin

Second. I went to visit a priest who is in an old folks home. The attendent came in and called him ‘John’,

I said ‘His name is Father Smith’

Attendant : His name is John

me : his name is Father Smith

Attendant 'His name is John

Me: Please show respect

Attendant : Ok, then Mr. Smith

Later on my way out I saw the attendant on his lunch break

Me: 'Please, when I am around don’t call him John. He means the world to me and is dying

Attendant ‘Do you Catholics find it offensive’

Me: He is 94 respect is in order

Attendant : ‘I treat everyone here as equals’

Me : Religion isn’t the issue respect is

Attendant 'If it means that much too you I won’t do it in front of you


Not sure what I said but left before taking out all my hurt over watching a goof friend dying on the attendant. Then all I could think is 'Why is religion the issue. If someone from a different religion had a certain title because of the status in that religion, I would have no problem calling them by their title. It is not a betrayal of my religious beliefs, it is a sign of my respect for others.

I have to wonder what was so hard for this guy? My friend use to be in the Catholic hospital and I saw all the nurses call him John!

Just rambling, feel free to share any comments


The woman at your community center you should probably ignore.

My mom is in her 50’s divorced and has no desire to remarry anyone let alone someone who comes with the same baggage from a divorce that she does. I’m sure the woman at your community center thought she was doing the right thing. Let it go and just move on.

As to the attendant at the nurseing home…report him to his superiors. He isn;t treating people equally, he is being disrespectful not only to the residents but their visitors as well. That is bad service and should be dealt with.

Is it possible you think that he asked them to call him John?As regards the first lady you talked about I hope she’s just one of those persons who has fallen away and discover the errors of her ways and return to the Church.You didn’t mention that she was divorced and living in sin so I’m assuming she’s a divorced single.It does sound awful what she said but fallen away Catholics often do say bad things before something sets them right they come back.Then again there are some that don’t.

I have a friend who’s a Christmas/Easter Catholic (at best) who tells me all the time how she’s a better Catholic than I am, and how wrong and idiotic my lifestyle is (no artificial birth control, “lots” of kids, don’t believe in abortion or divorce, etc.) because the Church no longer teaches those things. I think that sort of attitude is getting to be more and more common.

As far as the guy not calling the priest Father Smith, I find that very disrespectful. I have non-Catholic, non-religious and atheist friends and I can’t think of one of them who wouldn’t call a priest Father So-and-so. I worked with a couple people in college who made a big deal about how they wouldn’t use religious titles, but any time they had to deal with a priest they would call him Father.

I think you go around picking stupid arguments. That first lady was wrong for sure but there are ways to talk about things… eg. ask questions back, which make these conversations ossible without anyone getting mad…
But what possessed you in that second conversation? You have to respect the nurse here, and not pull your own world view down over his/her head.
That person is probably following the rules of his employer, where the old man now lives… There is nothing wrong per se, with being called one’s first name.
You might not like it… indeed maybe Mr. Smith is more appropriate, but Im sure the old man doesn’t find it rude, if he is with these people every day to be spoken to in familiar terms.
You cannot make people of other religions call our priests “father”. I sure wouldn’t do it if I belonged to another religion.

If we follow the first conversation, she didn’t “PICK” the argument, she answered questions and then yes maybe it went on a bit too long. Certainly though, speaking to another professed Catholic, and sharing what SHE believe is not “picking an argument”.

In the second scenario, I’m sure she felt like she was standing up for a man that she obviously cares about deeply. Perhaps if the Father was able, it would have been better to allow him to speak for himself, or at least have asked him what he preferred.

To the OP perhaps suggesting Father John, or even “Reverend John”(likely his official title and certainly may be more comfortable for a non-Catholic) would have gone over better with the attendant. It’s common for people who live in a nursing home to become friendly and on first name basis. However again, I’m not sure I know how coherent the Priest is. If he is coherent, asking him would have been the respectful thing to do. Not making assumptions for him.

  1. First argument----seriously??? When I used to be on Ave Maria there were quite a few Divorced THEN Annuled guys even in the 25-35 age range. Your friend is right, even if her semantics are wrong. Annulments are fairly easy to get, and if you have money (to help research/interview process) they tend to go faster.

While your point is valid (you CANNOT legitimatly remarry) she also has a point. When someone is divorced and annuled they are just as eligible as anyone who has never gone through a marriage ceremony. The annulment whipes it away. Now, you may prefer not to date men who have been in such a situation and that’s fine, but it dosn’t change the legitimate fact that they’re out there and you could validly date them.

  1. I think that we MUST respect other’s right not to address someone as “Father”. I grew up with 7th Day Adventists who truly thought calling a man “father” would send them to hell. To the point where they didn’t buy Father’s day cards that said Father. At the same time, I know that in one of the Eastern religions there is a title for a high ranking religious leader, that translated, is more accuratly “my god” (not “my lordship”) as people try to say it is. I would NEVER “respect” that title.

I seriously doubt that. I have been friends with him for years and he even has other priests call him Father Smith

Actually, I think she has been married to the same man for well over 30 years which I find even odder that she didn’t respect my opinion.

I agree that attitude is more common. I am just wondering to what degree as a Catholic I need to speak up and to what degree I need to live and let live.

I guess that is also just one of those things were society is changing

As heart4home stated, I did not pick the argument. This lady started the conversation. What possible question am I suppose to ask back? My mind is made up I don’t want to date a divorce man. Why lead her to think anything else.

What possesed me??? One of the kindest men who has ever walked the face of this earth is now 94 and has not been able to get out of bed alone for over 6 months. His feet were so cold he was moaning in pain and I had to put a blanket between his feet and the end of the bed because there is no way he could ever sit up to do it himself.

After all that man has done he deserves respect. Maybe the only reason he tolerates it is because he is scared that if people get mad at him they will no longer fix his pillow when he is in pain. You can’t expect a man that is suffering like him to always be logical

In case you didn’t read the post carefully, I NEVER objected to the nurse calling him Mr. Smith. I also was not imposing my world views on him. All I request was he not do that when I was around. I never told him what to do when I wasn’t around nor did I try to convert him. The attendant is suppose to give customer service !

Your friend was right; there’s nothing wrong with marrying a man who’s had an annulment. You may choose not to pursue that option, of course, but mentioning the possibility is certainly not “disrespecting Catholicism” in any way.

I agree that religious leaders of whatever faith should generally be addressed by their titles unless they specifically request that first names be used.

Thanks for pointing out I didn’t start it. As for the conversation going on too long… unfortunately, I am not sure how I could have ended it while remaining true to my beliefs. I have had other such conversations with this woman before where I have politely said ‘Can we please talk about something else’ she would scream ‘Fine’ in an angry tone. Not sure how to handle this lady

I think the priest is in so much pain he has bigger concerns. And yes, ultimately, the priest should decide what to be called. It is just I can get very possessive and defensive because I love him SO much and he is in SO much pain, yet such an example always praying to God to accept God’s will. And I am scared because I can only go see him once a week. I know a lot of people who use to visit him frequently and he says they don’t come around to often anymore. Slowly one by one a lot of people no longer have as much time for him. I don’t judge these people since they all have busy lifes and I know how hard it can be. I just feel sad that he has no one come visit him as much. 2 weeks ago when I went over he has some spray that helps with his sore throat. This is only avaible in a drugstore if you pre-order it 2 days before. The friend who was suppose to bring him some never showed. Again, I pass no judgement but there was no way I could get him some spray for that night and he had to spend the whole night without it. That hurts me

Ok, I am not sure I understand what you mean here so maybe this answer is not the correct one. However, when she said ‘You can get an annulment if you have money’, she was making the point that an annulment is guaranteed if you pay enough. She was overlooking the fact that there has to be legitimate grounds for an annulment

When I said ‘You can pay off a priest, you can’t pay off God’ I was trying to make the point that sadly, yes there probably were some invalid annulments granted because of the willingness of people to pay. I was not trying to ignore the valid annulments I was simply trying to point out God sees through sin

I agree which is why I did not argue when the attendant said ‘ok Mr Smith’


I think you may be a little overzealous on this actually. She said that they get an annulment and thus they aren’t “going against the Church.” Whether they “pay” or not they were still never married in the eyes of the Church.

Basically it seems that you are saying you don’t want to date a man whom the Church has said was never in a valid marriage because you say they are divorced… so… who is going against the Church’s teaching, you or her?

I do understand a lot of people blow this off and that is your point however you also have to consider the other side as well. There are a lot of good men (and women) for whom their first marriages ended in divorce possibly because they were never in a sacramental marriage to begin with. To just count those out as people who don’t care about their faith because they might not be “Catholic enough” or “real Catholics” is insulting to a lot of really faithful Catholics I know and… against the teachings of the Church.

Perhaps you should consider re-evaluating your position… who you date of course is up to you, but I would say don’t be so quick to judge someone who knows people who have had an annulment and found happiness. And perhaps the right person is out there for you who who was never in a valid marriage - give people a chance and trust God… them not being in a valid marriage and freed from that may be His will that they find you all along… yea never know.

Hope this isn’t too harsh just felt like I needed to point out another view…


Hey Joe,

No you were not being harsh, you were speaking the truth in love which appreciated.

I think however, the point of the conversation was misunderstood. She never said the eye surgeon had an annulment. She said he was divorced, and went on E harmony

I said ‘If they were married a second time in the church it is because they had an annulment’

When she said ‘You can pay for one’ she was implying all it took was money and it was a done deal. She was implying that the Church accepts bribes. That is NOT true

When I said ‘You can pay off a priest, you can not pay off God’ what I meant was the sad truth is, we are a church of sinners and I can not be so naive as to believe an invalid annulment was granted never granted in exchange for money. I was resisting her implication that all Catholics have to do is use money and they can have their way.

I have no problem dating a man with a valid annulment. However, such a man would get the annulment before making steps to date again. A real Catholic would wait for the results and accept if it turns out his marriage was valid all along.

But the attitude ‘I can date and if ever I want to marry I will get an annulment’ is not something I can agree with

Does that make sense?

Hey there CMS…

Here’s my big fat opinion.

I suspect this woman thinks you’re lonely, or thinks you SHOULD be married. For whatever reason. She probably thinks you’ve set your standards in such a way you’re never going to find a guy. For some reason, she feels compelled to tell you what you need to do.

Obviously, you are aware that a person who has rec’d an annullement is eligable to get married in the Catholic church.

Personally, and this is just my opinion. You could say… “you know… I’ve just not met a guy that falls into that category that I’m interested in… They just come with too much bagage…I just know that’s not something I want to deal with.”

In all reality, chances are a divorced person comes with children. And I think it’s VERY important for all involved to know if you want to even attempt coping with that. You are not the priority (especially when holding girlfriend status)… Children are… other obligations already established. Some perhaps by court order…

Now… regarding the priest and the nurse. I can’t know the exact circumstance… But you’ve said a few things that seemingly are making this about you, and not the priest.

You don’t want the nurse to address the priest as John infront of YOU… and the medicine issue (throat spray), hurt you because you knew he suffered. It’s so sad to watch someone die. Very hard. But all the care and attn. needs to be on the patient. You need to have your needs met elsewhere.

It’s obvious you care about his suffering and dignity… but in the end, it has nothing to do with you. I realize there are some terrible nurses out there… But a nurse that is informal, may actually be very compassionate. They are removing some bounderies to all for comfort. These are people that are in this preists intimate space. Handling his body, caring for it. Your biggest concern, really ought not be how he’s addressed, but how he is cared for. Are they gentle? Are they compassionate? This will aid him in his final hours. Not whether or not someone calls him father. In the absence off friends or family, you want someone there familiar enough to call him John, to hold his hand, or wipe his brow… not out of duty, or respect, but out of compassion. Probably the main reason they are even in the biz of being a nurse, or aid.

Now, if they guy is just acting like a jerk all the way around… report him. Because he does NO ONE anygood doing that!

It’s wonderful that you continue to take time to visit with an ailing friend. It speaks to your nature!!!

Have a happy Easter!!!

I think it all depends on the situation. With the friend who has been so vocal in her holier-than-thou disapproval of our lifestyle, I’ve given up arguing simply because it would be a lot easier to get through to a brick wall. She’s better and more knowledgeable than everyone on the planet, so to convince that there’s even a valid opinion other than her own just won’t happen. With others, I think providing the best example possible is about all you can do if they don’t seem willing to listen to what you have to say.

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