Question: Hypocrite or not?


Would you consider someone who is practicing their Catholic faith but doesn’t believe in some of the things the Catholic Church teaches to be a hypocrite? What if they abide by the teachings? What if they don’t?

Discuss. :slight_smile:


Someone who dosen’t believe in a saving truth is a heretic.
Someone who cuts themselves off from the Church is a schsmatic.
Someone who dosen’t practice what they preach is a hypocrite.


Mmm…my signature disagrees with your last point. A person can still sin and think their actions evil, effectively, they haven’t practiced what they preached, but as they still believe what they’ve done is wrong, their beliefs are not hypocritical.

Belief itself is a difficult thing to measure; some have crisises of faith. Many points in our cult cause hiccups, and can cause everything from confusion to dissention, scrupulosity to presumption, even to heresy and schism.

Anyhow, I think proper catachesis is all that’s needed at such points. Well, and persistent prayer and devotion.

But I think, rather than simply profess unbelief, as many do, they ought accept the limitations of their understanding and “take it on faith”.

Otherwise, I see no reason for anyone to call themselves Catholic if they have no belief in the Church’s teachings, or are not living in accordance with Her laws.


Thank you for your posts!

Hrm. I’ve been thinking about this, and I asked the wrong question. I used the wrong word so it ended up being the wrong question. Amazing how 1 word can be critical! :smiley:

Let me re-ask my question and I’ll explain a little more. The changed word is in bold:

“Would you consider someone who is practicing their Catholic faith but doesn’t agree with some of the things the Catholic Church teaches to be a hypocrite? What if they abide by the teachings? What if they don’t?”

Here is the basis for my question:

First of all, I can say the Profession of Faith. Totally, completely. I have NO disagreement or disbelief. I firmly believe in the Real Presence. I also believe the Catholic Church to be The One True Church which Jesus Christ founded. There is no doubt in my mind at all about this. I have never doubt this even while I was lapsed. :thumbsup:

I won’t go into specifics, I don’t want to this to devolve into a “let’s convince her to agree!” thread.

There are some things about the Catholic Church I did not agree with. At. All. Period. So I stayed out. I’ve recently come back and have finally confirmed. (Yay!) When I sit and think about why I stayed away, I realize that I still disagree with the Catholic church on some things. I remember reading on these forums one time that someone said it wasn’t so much about agreeing, but being obedient to her teachings. That really stuck with me.

So. I have made some lifestyle changes and am now being “obedient.” But I tell ya, I feel like a hypocrite. A big time hypocrite because of that. I will say these things that I know:

*]I saw God and I want nothing more than to be united with him for eternity. NOTHING more.
*]I would rather give up my life if I were to lose the possibility of being in communion with Jesus Christ
*]The Eucharist is what I look forward to every week.
*]Catholicism (my religion since birth, and now my religion of choice) is the ONLY way I know how to express my faith in Jesus Christ.
*]Catholicism is the only way I know that has a direct path to Jesus Christ. We have Jesus every week at Mass!
*]I don’t ever want to be separated from God.

The way I am approaching this is that I am putting my trust in the Holy Spirit by being obedient to the teachings of the Catholic Church. And so I obey to the best of my abilities.

Maybe I have this all wrong. I don’t know. Lately I’ve been very scared. One night I had a real moment of maybe, just maybe, I would not get to see God again. It was a horrifying night - this was during a discussion with my Byzantine Catholic boyfriend. He keeps telling me to relax and quit worrying about my salvation. Heh, I must admit I’ve been a bit obsessed over it.

At anyrate, this is the basis for my question. Again, I did not state it correctly the first time. What I meant to really ask was whether someone was a hypocrite if they didn’t agree with some of the Church’s teachings, but obeyed anyway.


Hi GodIsGracious, it is a journey, is it not?

"For the great majority of people—we may suppose—there remains in the depths of their being an ultimate interior openness to truth, to love, to God. In the concrete choices of life, however, it is covered over by ever new compromises with evil—much filth covers purity, but the thirst for purity remains and it still constantly re-emerges from all that is base and remains present in the soul. What happens to such individuals when they appear before the Judge? Will all the impurity they have amassed through life suddenly cease to matter? What else might occur? Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, gives us an idea of the differing impact of God’s judgement according to each person’s particular circumstances. He does this using images which in some way try to express the invisible, without it being possible for us to conceptualize these images—simply because we can neither see into the world beyond death nor do we have any experience of it. Paul begins by saying that Christian life is built upon a common foundation: Jesus Christ. This foundation endures. If we have stood firm on this foundation and built our life upon it, we know that it cannot be taken away from us even in death. Then Paul continues: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (*1 Cor *3:12-15). In this text, it is in any case evident that our salvation can take different forms, that some of what is built may be burned down, that in order to be saved we personally have to pass through “fire” so as to become fully open to receiving God and able to take our place at the table of the eternal marriage-feast.

  1. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. In this way the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ’s Passion. At the moment of judgement we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy. It is clear that we cannot calculate the “duration” of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming “moment” of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart’s time, it is the time of “passage” to communion with God in the Body of Christ39]. The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice—the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all. The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together—judgement and grace—that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate”, or* parakletos* (cf. *1 Jn *2:1)." (Pope Benedict XVI, “Spe Salvi”)



What I meant to really ask was whether someone was a hypocrite if they didn’t agree with some of the Church’s teachings, but obeyed anyway.

Why would a person comply if they didn’t believe? Perhaps they think some good might come out of going through the motions, playing the part, keeping up the illusion, etc?

Like parents who hate eachother’s guts, yet stick together for the sake of the children?

Or perhaps they obey because they’ve faith, if not in the order, but in the commanding officer? Good soldier?

Our understanding is faulty, and we’re told not to lean upon it in Proverbs. That being said–sniff sniff …I smell smoke… ahem That being said, we’re also told that Faith and Reason are not opposed, but perfectly compliment eachother.

Well, take heart, fear not *('tis what the angels always say) * and, have faith!

(I would suggest you take your doubts to your confessor, he could undoubtably help you with them)

Ah, me! Did I answer your question? I can’t remember.

Disagrees yet obeys? No hypocrite, so long as he accepts that the Church’s position is correct, and his is wrong. Hmm…I guess I mean to say, “Doesn’t understand, yet accepts”. Otherwise, he may as well join the next fellow.

And for him, who both disagrees and disobeys…Why exactly does he bother calling himself Catholic, again?

He’s not a hypocrite, he’s a heretic. (ahem I use that term generously, actual heresy is a bit of an involved process.) His conversion is especially difficult simply because he thinks he’s right, even if to his eyes, he’s the only orthodox fellow on the earth.

Which, in the end, mean’s he has more spine than most modern men, who don’t bother to be or know what the right way really is.


You are a hypocrite if you ask others to work hard but do not life a finger to help them.
You are a hypocrite if you are against abortion but support woman’s right to choice.
You are a hypocrite if you keep your body clean but let your soul rot.
You are a hypocrite if you preach one thing and live quite another.

I advise you to trust in Jesus. He will work out your sanctification for you. God is so gracious that He dose the hard part for us; He takes on the task for us, so we don’t have to! Trust in Jesus and pray very much; prayer without trust is babbling and trust without prayer is laziness. Pray to be safe from sin and pray the contrition after you fall into sin. Jesus loves you so much that His Heart literally burns and aches to have mercy on you!


First-I don’t think it is our place to decide how good a Catholic another person is. That’s the job of that individual and their Confessor-and ultimately God. Time spent trying to determine whether another person is Catholic Enough or not takes away from the time I need to work out my own salvation.

Second-I believe that there are always going to be things that we don’t understand completely. We may not be able to grasp the reasoning as to why something is considered immoral or wrong by the Church, but that doesn’t release us from the obligation to obey.


Well stated. :thumbsup:

I once heard Fr. John Corapi say… “You can’t claim to be truly Catholic, if you do not believe ALL that the Catholic Church teaches.” Fr. Corapi went on to explain, that that attitude is how MOST of the schism’s away from the Church began.

It’s very simple, really… if you profess to be a Catholic… then you BELIEVE and are LOYAL to what the Catholic Church teaches.

God bless.


I agree, but that’s not something that we should be deciding about others based on what we think about them. The whole idea of Catholics measuring each other’s level of Catholicity makes me uneasy.


All people who journey with God are, I believe, are trying to be loyal to Him. We fail, we learn, we come to understand more, we accept. It is a process, not a on/off switch.

St. Paul knew this about us followers of Jesus. He speaks to it in Romans. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” “We do not know how to love as we ought.”

When someone states they are willing, that they love God, that they want to be with God and they also say there is something about themselves that is bothering them in all of this…well, what else is happening but God is bringing them closer to Him?

Who has not experienced this themselves?


I disagree with your boyfriend’s comment that you should quit worrying about your salvation, but otherwise he does have a point.

We are required to seek the truth. Obviously one of the things we should consult when seeking the truth is the accumulated teachings of the Church herself. But, for many of us, it can be difficult to understand why a certain teaching is true. We are required to use both our faith and our reason to reach toward God; if a specific teaching of the Church appears strange according to our reason, that can be a stumbling block.

You have made it clear in your posts that, despite your disagreement with a certain teaching of the Church, you nevertheless obey the Church’s commands in that area. That’s all you have to do; in giving your obedience to the Church’s teaching, you remain a faithful Catholic, notwithstanding your disagreement.

I know you didn’t want to give an example for fear of sidetracking this thread into a discussion of that issue, so I’ll simply make one up: let’s say that the Church taught that all faithful Christians have to own a chartreuse widget, because owning a chartreuse widget is called for by Scripture’s command to fill the earth and subdue it. Now, you’ve read the Scriptures, and you’ve read the Church’s teaching, and you’ve gone through all of the documents the Church cites when giving her teaching (for example, you didn’t just read the Catechism passage on “each Christian shall own a chartreuse widget;” you also read all the documents cited in the applicable footnotes, as well as the various conciliar documents, teachings of the early Church fathers, etc.), and you just don’t agree. As far as you can tell, this teaching is absurd and is in fact not required by God.

But you went out and bought a chartreuse widget anyway, and it’s displayed somewhere in your home.

You’re perfectly fine. You’re in communion with the Church, and you are neither hypocritical, heretical, schismatic, nor disobedient.

Why? Because, as pointed out in your first post, despite your disagreement, you obeyed the Church’s teaching.

Those who contend that anyone who has a problem with the least little jot or tittle of the Church’s teaching should leave the Church, would do well to remember the Gospel: “I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief.” (Mk 9:23).

You believe. You have issues with some of the teachings, but you obey them anyway. You are a faithful daughter of the Church.



I was going to ask if you could expand on your first post, but I think your second post helped me to understand it a bit more. I’ll read the encyclical letter you posted. Even the two paragraphs you pasted is pretty deep. I was about to ask if you could expand on it - or rather, put it in simpler terms.

I think that one thing I’ve been weak on is hope. That’s tough for me. My whole life, whenever I’ve pinned my hope on something it’s been dashed. Although, as I just typed this, God isn’t “something,” He is God. And has been stated, Jesus Christ is a firm foundation - upon which we can pin our hopes.

And yes, it is a journey. And now that it seems I have found my way I am soooooooo scared to lose it.


I really appreciated your post. And your using a “widget” in your example is perfect. It helped me to get specific, while being general. If that makes sense. :wink: And is very comforting.

I wish I had put the correct word, “agree,” in my first post. Belief is not in question for me. Agreement, on the other hand, is something I struggle with. I have that chartreuse widget even though I don’t care too much for it. I mean, you hit spot on with where I am. I completely understand where church teaching is coming from with different things, but it doesn’t mean I agree. I like to tell people, disagreement does not mean misunderstanding. Infact, I have found that in order to have a fully formed disagreement, a person actually has to understand something.

As to my boyfriend’s advice, I didn’t write out the whole context. When he made that comment I said there is no way I’m going to stop worrying about my salvation. But he’s great because he can see the forest when I’m stuck staring at a tree. The situation surrounding that comment was that my worrying was beginning to affect my life. And I think that’s going a bit overboard.


You’ve said much that was spot on. And I agree, I need to talk to a priest about this. I plan on it.

To everyone, thank you for your posts. I appreciate it. Thinking I may be a hypocrite is something I struggle with, but I was willing to be one if it meant that I could stay in communion with God.

One of the things I was thinking of is, if we go around saying, “faith, without works, is dead,” isn’t my action of obeying the Church and her teaching a form of “work?” Isn’t this how I am showing my faith? I believe so. Especially since I have made some lifestyle changes to be in alignment with God.

It’s interesting how easy it is to give up things when it’s for what you really want, and what you really want is a chance to see God.


I have read Spe Salvi in small bites. I am still not through it all. The Holy Father packs a big punch in every word.

The short of it is, in hope we are saved. :slight_smile: Romans 8 is where St. Paul teaches this.

I came into the Church from atheism. I asked God to lead me to Him, now, I ask Jesus on a regular basis to help me to stay with Him. There are times I fear that I will lose what He has given me. I need His help. I especially like this prayer.

What I think, is the fear of losing God is based on the love we have for Him. We want to be with the One we love. As Mary said yes, so should we, trusting fully the love God has for us. In this, there is no need to fear.


Certainly, the comments of Fr. Corapi… (noted in my above response, #9)… are meant to be guidlelines, which we follow on a personal level.

I absolutely agree. We can not “judge” the relationship that our brothers and sisters have with Almighty God. Or how “well” they live out their faith. That is between each one of us and our Creator. But we CAN weigh the actions of those who profess to be Catholic… against the teachings of the Church. That is what I was making reference to.

A good example of this would be the public officials in our current Administration who profess to be “Catholic”… and who consistently present themselves for Holy Communion; but who are blatantly NOT following the teachings of the Catholic Church, in regards to abortion and other life issues. :nope:

We do have an obligation to speak out when we see these kinds of errors being publically flaunted as “justice” or “truth”. We have an obligation to correct, in these situations. And in doing so, we’re not judging them. To sit idly by, and not react… isn’t that what “relativism” is? :shrug:

Just a few thoughts. God bless.


I don’t look to public officials as examples of how to live my faith, so how they live theirs is a matter between them, their confessor and their God as far as I am concerned. Their Priest and their Bishop have the obligation to “correct”, not me.

Now, if someone says to me in conversation that such and so public official says abortion is ok and they are Catholic, I will take the opportunity to inform about what Catholic teaching is without maligning the character of the public official in question. I’ve simply said what Catholic teaching is, what my basis is for my knowledge and left it at that.


I think our thoughts are running along the same path. But maybe with one difference. In the case of public officials… I do believe that “corrections” should be voiced (globally) by the faithful. Faithful Catholics are after all, the Mystical Body of Christ. These elected officials are in the public eye… and therefore, are often held up as examples. And often, what they believe as part of their “faith” can have a profound effect on us all. If they profess to be “Catholic”… they’d better get it right. You and I, personally… do not look to them as examples; but there are many who do. :sad_yes: When public officials profess to be “Catholic” but go against Church teaching… they are giving scandal to the uninformed. Especially to the young. Souls are in danger of being lost. Similar topics have sparked many CAF discussions. You might be interested in taking a peek at “Politics 2009”.

I agree. We should never malign the character of anyone. It is a sin to do that. But speaking the truth about what these people are holding up as “needed reform” (i.e., abortion rights) is not to malign them. It is to correct the lies that are being told.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states it this way:

(2472) The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known."

So… I’m just saying that we all have a duty to speak up… whenever possible, about the lies and errors that are being spread. But as you say, never to malign them personally. I totally agree with you on that. As Christians… we “correct” with Charity.

God bless.


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