Personality, Pride and Criticizing The Church

I’ve always been super uncomfortable with people criticizing “The Church.” It sends me into defense mode. Maybe it’s just a matter of rhetoric, but it matters. If someone criticized me or even just vaguely all Catholics I wouldn’t feel this defensiveness that I do when they try to point out “the problem with The Church” or “the Church fails at.”

So what do you think causes Catholics to be comfortable talking like that? Is it a personality type? Is it pride? People who think very highly of themselves but see fault all around them.

Is it just a difference in understanding the term? The Church is the Bride of Christ to me, maybe it is describing the body of believers to them?

Is it cultural? We are exposed to so much of this type of journalism that nothing is sacred?

Is it personal hurt over something? I totally understand if they have been victims of abuse or if the discussion is related to that.

So on subjects that are not the abuse scandal, where does this comfort criticizing the Church rather than its people, rather than the actions of it’s people come from?

Final note: I don’t mean CAF specifically or even the internet, I hear this in real life too from faithful Catholics. I understand that on here we have a very wide range of people with different faiths and at different stages of their journey. This isn’t an angry rant. I’m trying to understand. Next time someone does it in real life I’ll gently inquire further.

I listen to Premiere Praise on DAB radio just for the worship songs but I regularly hear them saying young Catholics are questioning the Pope’s doctrine constantly but I don’t turn the radio off, I think the radio station is mainly Evangalists.

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That sounds like normal growing pains to me, but I could be wrong. I know I secretly questioned a lot of things and secretly haunted the old forums as a teen for answers. Even then I wasn’t comfortable verbalizing anything that sounded against the Church.

It’s an interesting question. Is it–

Converts who don’t have the in-grown familial love for the Church that cradle Catholics have?

Cradle Catholics who were never really connected to the Faith in the first place?

Those who felt betrayed by the aftermath of Vatican II and still feel alienated?

Those treated harshly in Catholic schools growing up and still feel distant and bitter?

I bet the answers are as numerous as there are people.

Interested in hearing people’s responses.


I wonder how many criticize the Church or whether they are criticizing particular people in the Church?


I mean specifically using the language “The Church” but perhaps their meaning is as you say.

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  1. Ego.
  2. Consumer culture.
  3. “Democracy” mindset
  4. Lack of humility.
  5. Lack of simple obedience.
  6. Lack of patience.
  7. Lack of faith in prayer.

Yes, I guess it depends on the way they say it…if it’s the people or the Church itself.

Like DisorientingSneeze said…she feels strongly that the Church is the Bride…so why do other cradle Catholics feel ok criticizing so easily?

I think they are separating the Mystical Church from the Church and the people we are dealing with in reality and addressing the perceived errors.

Hitting the nail on the head here. :+1:


I think it is because we have an understanding of the incarnational nature of the Church. It is His Body, and He is her Head. She is ensouled by the Holy Spirit. Yes, there are fallen persons who are members of her, but she is so much bigger than the Protestant definition of “the body of believers on earth”. She contains the Holy Souls who are being purified, and the Holy Souls who are united with Him in their heavenly inheritance. These holy elements of the Church cannot err, make mistakes, or “fail”. It is only the Church militant, those of us who are still working out our salvation, who can fail, and make errors.

And we know that the Teaching of the Church is the Teaching of Christ, who cannot err. Protestants have a deficient understanding of the nature of Church, as do Catholics who say these kinds of things.

The other reason is that it is much easier to sit back and point fingers at people for shortcomings, and the persons who do this do not realize that they are being called to step up and use their gifts to improve these things.

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Might it be like so many Americans who constantly criticize the various elected leaders of the nation. But ask them to get on a boat and leave, and they tone it down. I think it is often a trait of human beings to criticize that which they hold dear, especially when it seems to let them down. Those who want to leave can do so, their criticism is worth little because they have no love for the Church. Those of us who do love it, we may argue among ourselves, but in the end, we show up on Sunday because we’d be lost without Her.


Love this!

Both of your posts have excellent points.

Perhaps it’s a lack of a wider perspective. Often people make it a Church-wide problem when they have only ever known the American Church or just their diocese, if they don’t keep up with things. People on here often come here complaining about something in their parish and what the Church needs to do and other posters are just sitting there thinking, “What the hell kind of parish have you been attending?” because they haven’t encountered that in their particular parish.


You know, it is a little like this forum. I have posted opinions and been excoriated or upbraided by certain other posters, and then next time around they give a 'like" to something I’ve said and I’ve done the same for posts and posters I have disagreed with. The key is, to understand criticism isn’t always an “ad hominem” or personal attack.


“To Whom else shall we go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life” John 6:68


In my brief time of interaction with Catholics, I find a vast difference between those who I know at my church and some here on CAF. Those I have come to know at church are through RCIA, Bible studies, etc. Some are cradle, some are converts. They don’t question or criticize the Church (as far as I know.) Maybe it’s the ability to be anonymous?


Very astute observation.

Read a few YouTube comments associated with Catholic videos. Utter hatred and contempt. No Christian virtue displayed at all. Pure concupiscence.

CONCUPISCENCE. Insubordination of man’s desires to the dictates of reason, and the propensity of human nature to sin as a result of original sin. More commonly, it refers to the spontaneous movement of the sensitive appetites toward whatever the imagination portrays as pleasant and away from whatever it portrays as painful. However, concupiscence also includes the unruly desires of the will, such as pride, ambition, and envy. (Etym. Latin con-, thoroughly + cupere, to desire: concupiscentia, desire, greed, cupidity.)

Fighting my worst masculine traits here, but I would like to stand toe-to-toe with a few of them.

Ah, maybe not…I’m just out of the confessional.


I have a suspicion of any institutionalised hierarchy. Not just the catholic Church. I see them as fallible human beings who can be tempted to abuse power to protect themselves. Is the Church totally transparent? I’m not sure and I don’t know.
This view will no doubt get me into trouble on forums like this one.

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It should not! Any human institution is subject to the pitfalls of humanity.

The difference?

The Church stands because she is of divine institution.


I suppose so. But anonymity also allows people to speak frankly, so we all know what they are really thinking.Otherwise masks are worn and we never know.

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