How to respond to other Catholics who clearly state that they don’t believe in some Church teachings (Purgatory for example). In our Church book club of six or seven women, I stood alone in following Church teaching while the others concurred with the ringleader. I thought I was in the Twilight Zone. I stated that it was Church teaching, yet they held fast to their ideas.
I don’t understand how they willfully and admittedly deny the existence of Purgatory and that one doesn’t have to believe in Purgatory to be a Catholic. These members passed it off as truth while the others agreed blindly.
At the end of the meeting, I stated to one member in the presence of the ringleader, that one cannot call themselves Catholic if they don’t believe in EVERYTHING the Church teaches. We cannot be “cafeteria-Catholics” who pick and choose what we accept.
How do we admonish those who spread error without offending them? It is extremely frustrating.
It is very difficult as it depends a lot on the characters involved. Maybe it would help to try to imagine that you genuinely were ignorant of something very important. How would you wish to be educated? Would you prefer someone to gently steer you to where you could find the answer e.g. I think you may find that the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a nice little section on that, if I recall correctly it says something along the lines of." Or have someone say something such as “YOU are SO WRONG!!!”.
Although the Catechism is great backup, the chances are the people concerned have never read it, understand what it is or how it is to be used.
As it is a Church book club, what is your responsibility? Is it to try to tackle this solo, or to engage with your priest or pastor and ask him to help with gently providing spiritual direction? Maybe he could recommend some books such as Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages and Warnings from Purgatory by Gerard J. M. Van Den Aardweg or Gift of the Holy Spirit: What every Christian should know about the Holy Spirit by Ragan, Paul S. Alternatively, perhaps you could ask if he could pop in now and then to answer questions?
I went to a parish jubilee lunch. An accolade who also was a school teacher of religion told me that I was silly to believe in hell. He told me that hell is not mentioned in the bible and neither is homosexuality. I was absolutely stunned. He then referred me to a bishop who was present. The bishop told me, "What kind of a loving God would send people to hell’. I told him that God did not send anyone to hell but we sent ourselves there when we reject Him.
So you had some people deny the existence of Purgatory. Try the non existence of hell.
I did think of asking the parish priest to come in every now and then. Apparently, we didn’t focus so much on the book as “discussing” (or disagreeing on) Church doctrine.
Some members held to the non-Catholic view that Jesus died for our sins and we can do nothing to merit Heaven; that He did it for us and there is no value in sacrifice on our part. She also believed that Purgatory was for people in other religions, but not for her.
She said she’s going straight to Heaven because God is bound by no time and that all the prayers and masses said for her in the future will apply at the moment of her death.
It was more like a “Christian/non-Catholic” point of view adopted by these women. I felt like I went to a book study in the Protestant church down the street!
As one poster mentioned, she was ignorant of the Catechism and had stated she never read from it. I understand she is not well versed with Church teaching, but it can really be frustrating when she’s convincing others on her misguided position; others who may not be well informed and may be easily led astray.
:tiphat: Sorry to hear of this. It IS upsetting when some Catholics deny doctrines of the Church altogether, or say that belief in them is optional. I have a couple of thoughts on this that I hope will be helpful.
First, you ask how we admonish those who believe or spread error without offending them. There’s no way to know if a statement will offend, nor any guarantee that they won’t be offended. People are offended by the truth all the time, no matter how charitably stated.
Second, your experience highlights the need for ongoing adult catechesis. This is best accomplished through good preaching- it is vital that priests give good, solid homilies with pertinent Bible quotes. It’s also good if parishes can do adult faith formation classes, but keep in mind that not all will attend.
Third, is how we react. It is easy to get flustered and upset in these situations, but try your best to listen, ask pertinent questions, and be charitable. The people in your group may not be fully catechized and you could be called to point them in the right direction. You could get some materials from Catholic Answers to help both them and you. I also agree with another poster who encouraged inviting a priest to assist.
Last, but not least, please pray for these people. They really need our prayers if they are lacking in understanding the Faith.
In case anyone is interested, I list below how I learned to change my emotional reaction from shock, and anger to one that which is much more conducive to being helpful to me so that i might help others.
I remember going to a parish discussion group on the documents of Vatican 11. Not one of the pious women there (who all had their little white name tags on to show their importance in the parish) started a colorful and vibrant debate on the Council, but not one of them had even read one of the documents, and showed no intention to read them as we went along. Just a gab feast of ignorant opinions as to what the church should be. I quickly left them to their own religion.
I don’t think it is an active will to oppose Catholic teachings, it is just that they were never taught and they take the opportunity to justify their own lifestyles within a plastic lunchbox they fill from the cafeteria.
Asking a priest to set up some remedial RCIA programme is likely to fall on the deaf ears of the overworked. I personally feel our Bishops need to reassess their priorities within their dioceses but I am just a simple layman. I am afraid for our Church presently ensconced in its middle class satisfaction; beset with the pedophile crisis that is destroying its outward authority and the faith of many good Catholics; and overwhelmed in the poor teaching of the faith through two generations of Catholic schools. Pray for Mother Church relying on the promises of Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines this as heresy and a sin against the faith. According to the Catechism:
2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.
“Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.”
One must always continue going to Church and should pray for God’s help in accepting what the Church has revealed as truth. It should make us want to learn more about things we cannot readily accept or feels contrary to our nature when it comes to our faith.
Excommunication does not make one uncatholic. It is a disciplinary measure intended to convey the seriousness of the individual’ acts or statements. After baptism one is always Catholic, whether practicing or not.
jmj777: Some members held to the non-Catholic view that Jesus died for our sins and we can do nothing to merit Heaven; that He did it for us and there is no value in sacrifice on our part.
I just wanted to touch on this part here. Are you sure you completely understood what they were saying? As Catholics we also believe that it is by Christ alone that we are saved by our sins. It is by His blood that we are cleansed. We can do nothing to earn Heaven. We do believe that faith and works are necessary, but not because we can somehow earn Heaven. We cannot earn Heaven, only Jesus can give us that. Our belief is faith matters, but our actions matter as well. It isn’t enough to believe if our works are don’t reflect our belief. But by no works can man earn Heaven. Only Jesus’ death and resurrection can get us there. Both faith and works are important; however, we can do nothing that merits Heaven. We only get to Heaven through Jesus. This is the Catholic stance on justification as I was taught in Catholic school, CCD, and in RCIA as an adult sponsor. I am unable to check the catechism at this time, but I believe it also says the same thing.
Remember the old adage: Praise in Public and Criticize in Private.
No one likes to be shown up in a group. Yet groups come together to share and discuss various understandings.
Try to draw the other one out. Get him or her to explain more fully their view. Perhaps they will modify their view by just having to explain it more fully.
Restate what they are saying so they can confirm or correct your understanding. Showing that we understand them is not the same as agreeing with them. Ask them if they have any authoritative sources that support their view.
Ask them if they would be interested in reading one or more Catholic tracts that explain the Catholic view. I am sure whatever written support you can give them will have reference to the Bible.
In most cases, the most we can do is to provide them with authoritative writings. Our personal expressions are seldom seen as authority by those who are defending their view opposite our view - “That’s just your opinion.”
Most people do need time to move away from a long held view.
7armyrugrats: What they are saying is akin to “I’m saved because I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.” They don’t believe in the stain of sin to be paid either here on earth (through carrying our crosses or making sacrifices ie: fasting, etc.) or in Purgatory. They believe that Jesus paid the punishment for their personal sins for them on the cross already.
I do need to work on how I come across to others. Sometimes, it’s hard to remain silent when you hear things that are not completely accurate. Admittedly, it’s a challenge being charitable in my words when I’m anxious to “clear things up” for others.
Oh, that is unfortunate. I was hoping you had just misunderstood. Yes, sacrifice is important, not just for ourselves but for others as well. God is a just God, not just merciful. Everything we do has consequences.
That was probably a bit harsh – it certainly won’t help you win them over to your assertions, especially since they (probably?) think that they are in line with Catholic belief.
It’s also mistaken, as others have pointed out. They are still Catholic, whether they fully understand Catholic teaching or not.
Be charitable with them. Try to minimize being confrontational, so that you’ll keep being invited to be part of the group, and will continue to be heard. Don’t give up on telling the truth, of course, but tell it in a way that’s accessible to them: after all, even Paul fed his churches on milk before they were ready for meat…
It breaks my heart that so many saints have died over the truth of Revelation given in our Catholic faith and that some people tend not to believe what these saints have given their lives for. It is a shame that some people use human opinion which is not reliable to determine their revealed truth and beliefs. Much of human opinion has a worldly basis and we know that the father of lies is the leader of the evil of the world. This is why some believe hell doesn’t exist or that female priests are OK and abortion solves personal problems. What a shame. We must pray for them.