"Modernizing" Catholicism


#1

I’m new to Catholicism, I’ve just begun my journey into the faith. And to begin with, let me say that I’m coming into this with a hard time accepting some things like not using birth control, condemning gay people, etc. I have done little research into those types of areas, but since everything else is pointing me to the fact that this is God’s Church, I am proceeding, and have decided to have faith that God will help me to understand in time.

Now, my questionis this: In Catholic history, from what I can tell, there have often been groups of people who wanted to change important teachings - like King Henry who wanted to divorce his wife. (Sorry if I’ve got any of that wrong, I know the basic story is there, but as I said, I’m new to all this) And the Church refuses to compromise. So those groups leave, and form other religions, based on the Catholic religion. So, for all of those people that think the Catholic Church should change doctrine that is so well established, why do they think this way? Why would the Church do so now, when they wouldn’t before?

I’m not trying to begin a debate on whether the issues are correct or not, I want to understand why people would think the Church would change?


#2

[quote=MistyF]I’m new to Catholicism, I’ve just begun my journey into the faith. And to begin with, let me say that I’m coming into this with a hard time accepting some things like not using birth control, condemning gay people, etc. I have done little research into those types of areas, but since everything else is pointing me to the fact that this is God’s Church, I am proceeding, and have decided to have faith that God will help me to understand in time.

Now, my questionis this: In Catholic history, from what I can tell, there have often been groups of people who wanted to change important teachings - like King Henry who wanted to divorce his wife. (Sorry if I’ve got any of that wrong, I know the basic story is there, but as I said, I’m new to all this) And the Church refuses to compromise. So those groups leave, and form other religions, based on the Catholic religion. So, for all of those people that think the Catholic Church should change doctrine that is so well established, why do they think this way? Why would the Church do so now, when they wouldn’t before?

I’m not trying to begin a debate on whether the issues are correct or not, I want to understand why people would think the Church would change?
[/quote]

First as you are already doing seek to understand why the Church teaches what it does on Artificial Birth control. You better not be condemning Homosexuals because the Church does not. It condems the Homosexual lifestyle and Homosexual acts.

You ask about changing Doctrine or the Churches teachings. “Why would the Church do so now, when they wouldn’t before?”

It won’t change them now or ever for that matter.

“I want to understand why people would think the Church would change?”

That is a good question and I would guess that they simply don’t understand Catholic teaching.

St. Augustine I believe said: “The Truth does not care how many it convinces”


#3

First of all WELCOME!

Catholics do not 'condem gays" Catholics condem any sin. I sin, you sin we all sin. The difference is that we condem making this sin “okay” We don’t have the power to make homosexuality unsinful - the Bible tells us it is. If we go against God’s word, how are we following him.

Yes, King Henry broke off because he wanted to divorce his wife, and marriage was valid and he could not divorce. Again, the Bible tells us that A man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. We don’t have the power to change this.

If the church changed it’s doctrine to what ‘people wanted to do’ there would be no doctrine left.

The church has remained constant for 2000 years. (for the first 1500 or so there was only one church) Now there are so many denominations because people make a new one every time they decide they want to do something new. Yet the Catholic church remains the same.

If we are to follow Christ, we must not give in to the relativism and degrading of morals that may be around us. We must rise to meet the Church’s standards (hence,doing what Christ expects of us) Not have the church lower itself to our latest whim.

If you do some reading on why the church teaches what it does, you will find it makes perfect sense. I once had a hard time with unmarried priests and contraception. But now I embrace both church teachings because they make so much sense!

Now why people think the church should change? Probably because they don’t want to be told how they should live their lives. They want to do whatever feels good right now.


#4

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]First as you are already doing seek to understand why the Church teaches what it does on Artificial Birth control. You better not be condemning Homosexuals because the Church does not. It condems the Homosexual lifestyle and Homosexual acts.

You ask about changing Doctrine or the Churches teachings. “Why would the Church do so now, when they wouldn’t before?”

It won’t change them now or ever for that matter.

“I want to understand why people would think the Church would change?”

That is a good question and I would guess that they simply don’t understand Catholic teaching.

St. augustine I believe said: “The Truth does not care how many it convinces”
[/quote]

I would like to clarify - I am asking about why others think the Church should change - I thought the context of my question spelled that out.

And I am not condemning homosexuals - I have many gay friends. And sorry for the wording, I know that the Church condemns the sin, not the sinner. And what I was saying there was that I believe at this time that birth control and gay actions are ok. That’s how I felt prior to now. I literally am just barely coming into the faith, and I realize that the Church teaches differently. I am leaving it up to God to show me the reasoning there, as He will on many other issues.

But, again I am not looking for answers on homosexuality or birth control with this post, as I have already read information on the topics, and I understand the reasons, I just haven’t yet been able to accept them - the actual question is why does anyone think the Church will change for them?

edit: I believe that the Catholic Church is God’s Church. But, I won’t walk into this blindly. And I’ve only acknowledged in the last week that I have any faith in God. And so, I am learning, but I won’t blindly accept.


#5

[quote=MistyF]I’m not trying to begin a debate on whether the issues are correct or not, I want to understand why people would think the Church would change?
[/quote]

It is because relativism has become the mindset of many people these days. They think that their “truth” should be the norm, not God’s truth. To them, there is no wring if they believe it is not wrong

Ad for you comments on birth control and condeming gay people.

1: Birth Control (From the Catechism):

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.

and

2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

Artificial bith control is tanamount to killing, especially in the case of “the pill” which does not prevent pregnancy, but prevent implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus.

2: Homosexuality (From the Catechism):

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

It is not the person that is condemned by the Church, it is the act. Love the sinner, hate the sin. A person with homosexual tendacies can be a full member of the Church if they do not give into the urges of those tendacies.
PF


#6

[quote=MistyF]I’m not trying to begin a debate on whether the issues are correct or not, I want to understand why people would think the Church would change?
[/quote]

I believe a big part of “why” is explained by this passage from Judges:

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.
[right]Judges 21:25 (NRSV)[/right]

So, instead of believing what God has revealed and obey those who are encouraging them to do so, they think they have a “better, easier” way.


#7

[quote=WanderAimlessly] Artificial bith control is tanamount to killing, especially in the case of “the pill” which does not prevent pregnancy, but prevent implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus.

[/quote]

I’m not arguing the reasons behind birth control. I just wanted to say that not all types of “the pill” work that way. I have tried many, for medical reasons - if I don’t take birth control, I have to have a hystorectomy for medical reasons. I want more kids after I get married, and so at this time I still choose birth control. Anyway, the point is, out of the 10 types of the pill that I’ve taken, only 1 worked that way. And I didn’t know it until after the fact, when I quit taking it for that reason - and I’ve checked with every type I’ve used since. And again - at some point I will be examining this all a little closer.

So, if you are trying to convince someone that taking the pill is equal to an abortion, you may want to qualify that statement.


#8

These people deny objective Truth and the entire idea that Truth comes from God, the Church has authority, and that the Truth is immutable.

They believe that what they personally disagree with can be ignored and that it is the Church and not they who need to change.

It all comes down to self over God-- original sin. Do I conform to God’s Law or live outside it? It is not a new question.

Now, this is also a question you must ask yourself in the area of contraception. I too am a convert, and I too was raised in a contraception-is-ok world. I did not understand the Church’s teaching, but I did assent. Fortunately I was single and not sexually active (fornication is a sin too!) so it wasn’t a real issue at the time. And, now I am getting married but in the intervening years God has given me the grace to not only understand the teaching but embrace it 110%. But, if you are married, this is an issue you MUST confront. If you believe the Catholic Church is True, then you must follow that.

However, I’m unclear about your posting regarding the Pill. If you are taking it for medical reasons and not to prevent pregnancy, then that is not contraception. But, anyway, that’s another topic for another thread.


#9

[quote=MistyF]I would like to clarify - I am asking about why others think the Church should change - I thought the context of my question spelled that out.
the actual question is why does anyone think the Church will change for them?
[/quote]

I think you ask a very good question. My guess at the answer is some of these people identify themselves as Catholic because they grew up in the Church, but they didn’t really learn what the Church teaches or why. Many lived through changes in the Church that followed the counsel of Vatican 2, and they saw the use of Latin go and communion rails removed from their parish, so they expected other changes would follow.

The culture went through a change too, so as you say that you have a difficult time understanding Church teachings on sexual matters, so do they. But they grew up with people within the Catholic Church in positions of authority telling them that it would change.

Many of the dissentors are themselves within positions of authority and no one has removed them so they think the are just a voice of acedemic freedom. They think their views represent the future of the Church and their intellectual pride blinds them to Truth.

Many dissenting Catholics have awaited changes in the Church for thirty years now, and after all this time, they stubbornly aren’t giving up. I think we should be kind to the Catholics who have been mislead by false teachers within the Church, and pray for those in authority.


#10

[quote=MistyF]I’m not arguing the reasons behind birth control. I just wanted to say that not all types of “the pill” work that way. I have tried many, for medical reasons - if I don’t take birth control, I have to have a hystorectomy for medical reasons. I want more kids after I get married, and so at this time I still choose birth control. Anyway, the point is, out of the 10 types of the pill that I’ve taken, only 1 worked that way. And I didn’t know it until after the fact, when I quit taking it for that reason - and I’ve checked with every type I’ve used since. And again - at some point I will be examining this all a little closer.

So, if you are trying to convince someone that taking the pill is equal to an abortion, you may want to qualify that statement.
[/quote]

If you are taking the pill for medical reasons other than contraception, then the pill is allowed for that reason as long as you do not have sexual relations during the time.

PF


#11

[quote=MistyF]
I have done little research into those types of areas, but since everything else is pointing me to the fact that this is God’s Church, I am proceeding, and have decided to have faith that God will help me to understand in time.

So, for all of those people that think the Catholic Church should change doctrine that is so well established, why do they think this way? Why would the Church do so now, when they wouldn't before?

I’m not trying to begin a debate on whether the issues are correct or not, I want to understand why people would think the Church would change?
[/quote]

MistyF,

If I may offer an answer to the question you have asked, I would suggest that there is a large amount of wishful thinking going on.

If I may also offer some words about what you didn’t want to start a debate on, the sexual relationship between a husband and wife is an earthly image/example of the relationship between Christ and the Church in Heaven. Anything that distorts that relationship is sinful. Heaven is eternal; marriage is lifelong, which is as close as we can get to eternal in this world. This is why the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce. There is one Christ, not many Christs, and one Church, not many Churches; thus polygamy is another distortion. It is Christ and the Church, not Christ and Christ or Church and Church; this is the basic reason why homosexuality is sinful. Neither Christ nor the Church has this sort of relationship with anybody else on the side; thus adultery is also wrong. Artificial birth control is a little more subtle, but the gist of it is that nothing that God does is ever deliberately sterile, and making the husband/wife relationship deliberately sterile distorts the image of Christ and the Church in Heaven.

I hope this helps. I had to work through the artificial birth control question myself when I converted.

  • Liberian

#12

[quote=Liberian]MistyF,

If I may offer an answer to the question you have asked, I would suggest that there is a large amount of wishful thinking going on.

If I may also offer some words about what you didn’t want to start a debate on, the sexual relationship between a husband and wife is an earthly image/example of the relationship between Christ and the Church in Heaven. Anything that distorts that relationship is sinful. Heaven is eternal; marriage is lifelong, which is as close as we can get to eternal in this world. This is why the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce. There is one Christ, not many Christs, and one Church, not many Churches; thus polygamy is another distortion. It is Christ and the Church, not Christ and Christ or Church and Church; this is the basic reason why homosexuality is sinful. Neither Christ nor the Church has this sort of relationship with anybody else on the side; thus adultery is also wrong. Artificial birth control is a little more subtle, but the gist of it is that nothing that God does is ever deliberately sterile, and making the husband/wife relationship deliberately sterile distorts the image of Christ and the Church in Heaven.

I hope this helps. I had to work through the artificial birth control question myself when I converted.

  • Liberian
    [/quote]

Liberian,
That sort of made sense, and sort of made my head spin. :whacky: I do understand the basics of why birth control is not acceptable, and so when you compare it the way you just did, it makes the rest of the analogy fall into place a little more. You mentioned “Christ and the Church in heaven”. I don’t know if I should start a new thread or if it’s ok to go into it on this one, but I remember the JWs had some kind of similar (but not the exact same) teaching when I was growing up. I’d like to know where the idea of the Church being Christ’s wife comes from. Can you explain that a little more for me, or point me in the direction of a good explanation ? Thanks for your reply! :tiphat:


#13

**CCC 796: **The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist. The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.” The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride “betrothed” to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him. The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb. “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.” He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:

This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many . . . whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? “The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church.” And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union, . . . as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself “bride.”

Ephesians 5: 23-25
"[size=2]Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ: so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and delivered himself up for it"[/size]

Ephesians 5:29-32
"For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church."

Hope this helps on the Bride of Christ part. There is more, but this is a start. Thanks and God Bless.


#14

Greetings Misty! Welcome to CA forums!

I am a convert and think I understand where you are coming from.

I think, that our human condition, both our limitation as finite beings and the stain of sin makes it very hard for us to look at things in an objective way. We are members of a specific time and culture which can hinder us from being able to weigh issues of truth easily.

For examples, while i rationally accept the teaching that women cannot be priests, there is a part of me that rebels against that. I accept the church’s teaching with cheerful obedience and I believe strongly God will help me to understand why that is the way it is. I want to treat women respectfully and in our culture that means equal opportunity in all positions, so it’s hard for me to get past that. Were I to trust my intuition or put something ahead of the church, then I would find myself asking that this Tradition be changed. However, I know that if I really want to respect women I need to stick with the church.

I think there are also issues of authority and personality as well. For example, many people aren’t particularly bookish and don’t think very critically. Others don’t have the time or the resourches for quiet study or thought. Such people often turn to authority and unfortunatly what I think happens is that the wrong sort of authority is turned to (college professors rather than Bishops for example). This especially causes trouble when the authority figure is both charismatic (in the sense of personality, not in the sense of the Charismatic Movement), offers easy answers, and gives us excuses to do what we want to do.

Finally, I think that we really are affected by environment. If every orthodox Catholic we meet is self-righteous and annoying and every heterodox Catholic is humble and kind, we may quickly find ourselves leaning towards heterodxy. If authority figures were cruel it may be hard to follow the authority of the Pope.

I don’t want to play down free-will. I do think we have it and we can make choices, I just want to emphasize that often those choices aren’t clearly laid out so people may drift away.

God bless you in your journey ahead!
peace in Christ,
Frank


#15

[quote=gardenswithkids]I think you ask a very good question. My guess at the answer is some of these people identify themselves as Catholic because they grew up in the Church, but they didn’t really learn what the Church teaches or why. Many lived through changes in the Church that followed the counsel of Vatican 2, and they saw the use of Latin go and communion rails removed from their parish, so they expected other changes would follow.

The culture went through a change too, so as you say that you have a difficult time understanding Church teachings on sexual matters, so do they. But they grew up with people within the Catholic Church in positions of authority telling them that it would change.

Many of the dissentors are themselves within positions of authority and no one has removed them so they think the are just a voice of acedemic freedom. They think their views represent the future of the Church and their intellectual pride blinds them to Truth.

Many dissenting Catholics have awaited changes in the Church for thirty years now, and after all this time, they stubbornly aren’t giving up. I think we should be kind to the Catholics who have been mislead by false teachers within the Church, and pray for those in authority.
[/quote]

I think this gets it right. A lot of people inside and outside the Catholic Church want to keep on living lifestyles that are condemned in the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. However they also want to feel good about it. So they want the Church to bless these things: promiscuity, divorce, homosexual practice, even abortion.

When this doesn’t happen, they get increasingly annoyed and start trying to blame the Church for the problems caused by their own favoured lifestyles.


#16

[quote=MistyF]Liberian,
That sort of made sense, and sort of made my head spin. :whacky: I do understand the basics of why birth control is not acceptable, and so when you compare it the way you just did, it makes the rest of the analogy fall into place a little more. You mentioned “Christ and the Church in heaven”. I don’t know if I should start a new thread or if it’s ok to go into it on this one, but I remember the JWs had some kind of similar (but not the exact same) teaching when I was growing up. I’d like to know where the idea of the Church being Christ’s wife comes from. Can you explain that a little more for me, or point me in the direction of a good explanation ? Thanks for your reply! :tiphat:
[/quote]

MistyF,

I see someone has already mentioned the Catechism, and that is always a good place to start reading about Catholic doctrine . Another good reference about marriage in general is Casti Connubii which is an encyclical that came out some time in the middle of the 20th century. Regarding artificial birth control the encyclical Humanae Vitae is very clear, at least to me. Humanae Vitae has been much maligned, but I think most of the reason for that is simply that people expected it to say something different from what it actually says. In it Pope Paul makes half a dozen rather drastic prophecies of what would happen if artificial birth control became widespread, and every last one of these things has happened.

As for the origins of the doctrine, someone again has already pointed at Ephesians 5:21-33. There is also Revelation 21:2, Ezekiel 16, and the basic theme of the prophecies of Hosea.

  • Liberian

#17

[quote=MistyF]I’m not trying to begin a debate on whether the issues are correct or not, I want to understand why people would think the Church would change?
[/quote]

I think the basic reason is that most people don’t understand what you have come to realize; that the Catholic faith never changes. You could see this in the commentary before and after the election of Benedict XVI. Would the Cardinals respond the the demands of “progressive” groups regarding contraception, homosexuality, and ordaining women? These people have so sense of the history of Catholicism and no actual knowledge of the history either.

Most people these days think that contraception is a new issue but, in reality, it pre-dates Christianity by at least 1500 years. There are writings from the earliest days of the Church that condemn contraception, abortion, and infanticide as sinful. I believe that the Didache (written within 120 years of the death of Christ) specifically teaches against “taking potions” to prevent pregnancy. This is refering to non-abortive “potions” because abortive ones are explicitly and seperately mentioned. The same has been authoritatively taught throughout the entire history of the Church.

When Paul VI promulgated Humanae Vitae, he did not say that contraceptives were sinful simply because they were abortive. That was only one of the reasons. Relying on the constant teaching of the Church throughout its history, he re-explained that teaching in modern terms.

Those with no knowledge of the hisorical nature of that teaching claimed (as they still do today) that this is a new teaching or that it can be changed if there are truly non-abortive methods. However, the “sin of Onan” was not abortive and he was struck dead for it. It was the nature of the act itself that made it sinful; not just the result. This is true of all Catholic morality. It is not just the result of actions that make them sinful, but the inherent nature of the act, the underlying meaning and implication of the act. This is why the faith can never be “modernized” to suit our own sensibilities. The truth cannot change. What was sin 2000 years ago is still sin today and will remain sin 2000 years from now.

It is their inability to see this truth that makes them think the Church can be pressured to change its teachings. Especially in the West, with our emphasis on democracy and our misconceptions of “freedom” and “rights,” we tend to see any absolute declaration we don’t like as a form of oppression that must be resisted. There will always be people who want to remake God and His Church in their own image. That is one of the consequences of the Fall of Adam.


#18

Now how does one go about modernizing Christ who is the truth?

His Word (the truth) is eternal and unchanging. Modernization simply puts our spin on it, resulting in something other than the truth.


#19

[quote=MistyF] - the actual question is why does anyone think the Church will change for them?

[/quote]

Because the increasingly secular society has given everyone a “I’m ok, you’re ok, we’re all ok” viewpoint of everything. It isn’t politically correct to say “homosexual acts are sinful.”

They think that since “society” has embraced homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, contraception, etc., etc. the Church should also.

This line of thinking is pushed by the liberal biased media. If you were totally new to the Catholic Church and you turned on CNN or any other media network in the past week you’d think that ALL Catholics (1) Want women priests (2) want to allow priests to marry (3) want privacy in regards to reproductive “rights” (4) want to embrace homosexual lifestyles.

Wake up and smell the incense!


#20

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