What does it mean to be a "Real Catholic" besides actual Church teaching?

Many sports fans will claim a “real fan” of team X has to do certain things above and beyond merely supporting the team by, say, buying tickets and fan items, or watching games on TV. Such as “never leave/turn off a game even if they’re losing 10-0 by the 2nd inning” or “never criticize any team member”, not only for mistakes on the field, but even the ones who get arrested and accused of terrible crimes, have die-hard “fans” always ready to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re the victim of some conspiracy.

In a similar vein, it seems there are those on CAF who think that “real Catholics” will go above and beyond the basics of their faith. Some examples that easily come to mind are:

  1. A Real Catholic not only assents to Church doctrine on Mary, but has an active Marian devotion, such as the Rosary, Fatima, the Total Consecration, Brown Scapular, etc.

  2. A Real Catholic not only assents to Church doctrine on contraception, but only uses NFP after talking to their priest, maybe even a bishop. A Real Catholic would expect to have 4 kids at minimum. And would never ever ever use the Pill even if it’s for a medical reason when they’re NOT sexually active.

  3. A Real Catholic not only assents to Church doctrine on the Mass, but always keeps an eagle eye out for any Liturgical abuses, people going up to receive Communion unworthily, and those scandalous scantily clad women.

  4. A Real Catholic would never ever dream of exposing their children to the heathen, morally scandalous “government” schools. And would be very careful in vetting Catholic schools to make sure they are not Catholic In Name Only. Optimally, a Real Catholic would home school all of their many children and shield them from worldly issues such as homosexuality for as long as possible.

I can also think of some other issues such as whether mothers should work outside the home, or should obey (not just submit to) their husbands, or whether Attachment Parenting is the only true Catholic parenting method, and of course there are endless modesty topics.

Some would also claim a “Real Catholic” would never vote for a pro-abortion candidate, but I didn’t list it because I think most would agree there are some extreme circumstances that would permit this. Such as “both major candidates are pro-abortion and no pro-life candidate has a viable chance of winning” – this actually IS the case in some local and regional races. Such as NY State - the last prominent pro-life Republican I can think of from that state was Al D’Amato.

The three marks of a Catholic are devotion to the Pope, the Eucharist, and Mary.


I do not see people of CAF asserting that one must do X Y or Z to be a “real” Catholic. I often see threads accusing people on CAF of doing so but I never see anyone actually doing so.

Those are caricatures, and none of those things is even Catholic teaching let alone the mark of a “real” Catholic.

A “real” Catholic is one who is baptized Catholic or received into the Church via a profession of faith.

Everything on that list is just nonsense. Nor have I seen anyone assert any of the items on the list as what one must do to be a “real” anything.

Is there something in particular that happened that inspired this thread like did you have a negative interaction with someone for example?

Being a Catholic means following the Church’s teachings.

I’m never heard anyone say that to be a “real Catholic” you have to do any of those things you mentioned.
In reality though, there are “extremists” (people with extreme or unnecessary rigid mentalities) in every religion but if you let this not become a distraction to you,and just follow the Church’s and Popes teachings then you will be fine.

I’m a Baptised Catholic and I went to public school.
I wouldn’t recommend it lol but that’s a purely personal opinion.I’m sure there’s many many Catholic children who go to public schools and do just fine.

Why is the pope first? :smirk:

Isn’t the primary duty of a Catholic to worship God?

Why is the pope first? :smirk:

Isn’t the primary duty of a Catholic to worship God, first and foremost?

I have no idea where you got these ideas from: James White, John MacArthur, C.A.R.M. or maybe an Adventist site? I might search the words and phrases and locate their source.

To be a Catholic is to enter into the most profound and personal relationship with Father Son and Holy spirit that exists on earth; to grant assent to the teachings of Christ as revealed to and through His Church. Period. Read the catechism for more information.

Devout protestants make very good Catholics when they decide to cross the Tiber. We have more tools over here for the Christian walk.

Not sure of any checklist. But loving Christs’ church just as you love Him will make you a good Catholic. Hating sin but loving the sinner makes one a good Catholic. Adoring Christ in the Eucharist makes one a good Catholic. Letting the Spirit move in your life, cooperating with the grace of God will take you to new heights.


My thoughts exactly.

Mother Teresa. She was a real Catholic. St. Francis. He was a real Catholic. St. Maximilian Kolbe, another real Catholic.

I agree> Love God above all others, love your neighbor as yourself. Frequent the Sacraments, live the Gospel. Perform the Seven Spiritual Acts of Mercy and the Seven Corporal works of mercy with great love.“Deny your very self and follow Me” says Jesus.
Live the Beatitudes, show Mercy.

Obey the Ten Commandments. They are:

1.**** I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.
2.**** You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain.
3.**** Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
4.**** Honor your father and your mother.
5.**** You shall not kill.
6.**** You shall not commit adultery.
7.**** You shall not steal.
8.**** You shall not bear false witness.
9.**** You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods

The Spiritual works of mercy are:

To instruct the ignorant;
To counsel the doubtful;
To admonish sinners;
To bear wrongs patiently;
To forgive offences willingly;
To comfort the afflicted;
To pray for the living and the dead.

The Corporal works of mercy are:

To feed the hungry;
To give drink to the thirsty;
To clothe the naked;
To harbour the harbourless; (provide shelter)
To visit the sick;
To ransom the captive;
To bury the dead.

The text of St. Matthew of the Beatitudes runs as follows:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. (Verse 4)
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)

Indeed the Seven Sacraments including the Eucharist, Obedience to the Magisterium,
Devotion to Mary and the Rosary, the use of Holy water, the Brown Scapular and statues do set us apart from other faiths.

It means finding out what it is that God wants of you.

Yes, while there must be criteria to determine what it means to be x, y, or z (being Catholic has to mean something after all), there are a myriad of ways that we humans will use to distinguish ourselves as holier than me or thou.

My own belief is that the more a person loves God with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and their neighbor as themselves, the more Catholic they are. Of course these are totally non-objective criteria that may tend to satisfy few except for God Himself. :slight_smile:

I think this is a most inappropriate “trinity” and not at all the “three marks” of a Catholic. As noted by others, why the pope first? We owe the pope respect and obedience, not, in my opinion, “devotion;” that gets into “popolatry.” And we owe God worship - latria - and that is infinitely above the hyperdulia that is appropriate to Mary. And there is a wide range of Marian devotion that can be practiced - or not.

Amen. There are some very knowledgeable Catholics here, but using this site as a tool of conversion? :eek:
nope. Anyone interested should start speaking with a priest, reading good material, and praying. Best wishes on your discernment. If you based your decision on this site, I’m truly, very sorry. But that’s not how one goes about it. Just by virtue of what an online forum IS…means that you’re going to read erroneous material, and meet people who aren’t exactly in line with what the Church teaches. And then of course, there are those who want the Church to conform to their wishes. No, there’s other, more fruitful ways of learning.

Here are some resources for you, besides the Catechism of the Catholic Church:



On YouTube:
EWTN The Journey Home program
EWTN Called to Communion with David Anders

More reading on the Pope, the Eucharist, and Mary:


2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Perhaps I should have posted this in Family Life as that is where there is yet another “modesty” topic going on, as well as yet another ABC topic that features the canard “the Pill only masks symptoms” even though (1) The Church doesn’t forbid other medications that “only mask symptoms” and (2) The Church doesn’t actually forbid using the Pill for non-contraceptive reasons.

Being a Catholic means following the Church’s teachings.

I’m never heard anyone say that to be a “real Catholic” you have to do any of those things you mentioned.

In reality though, there are “extremists” (people with extreme or unnecessary rigid mentalities) in every religion but if you let this not become a distraction to you,and just follow the Church’s and Popes teachings then you will be fine.

Unfortunately, not even the Bishops seem to be in agreement with the “Pope’s teachings” and this is another issue I see with many Catholics – to them “Church teaching” isn’t just what’s in the Catechism, it’s also “what the Pope said on a plane” or “what Mary said at Fatima” or “what this Saint wrote down”.

For example, I can almost 99% guarantee that on any modesty topic, someone will eventually claim “Mary spoke about this at Fatima”. Or quote what a past Pope said about not wearing shirts with necklines more than 3 fingerbreaths below the collarbone. Or dress codes at the Vatican – all with the underlying assumption that “this is Official Church Teaching on Modesty”.

I also get a vibe from many who have a very strong devotion to Mary that ALL Catholics should at least try out whatever devotion they are interested in, although those devotions are not actually required.

So, do you think I should leave CAF?

There are important distinctions to make here.

In much of Protestantism, but not all, there is not a distinction made between dogma, doctrine, devotion, and practice. There is only scripture which is treated as an all inclusive operating manual for everything. In other words, many topics are given the same level of importance. This is why denominations split over matters both large and small - e.g. the nature of baptism versus the type of music to use or clothes to wear at church.

In Catholicism, the deposit of faith sourced in divine revelation - that is - scripture AND apostolic tradition as given to us by Jesus, His apostles, as well as clarifications from the councils (such as Nicea and Trent) and those papal clarifications that are considered binding (e.g. statements made ex cathedra) - are summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

When Catholics refer to Mary, a pope, or any specific saint as an example to live our lives by, they are not referring to a dogma or doctrine of the church - meaning they are not requirements. These resemble optional devotional practices that strengthen our spiritual lives. It is not the same thing as required dogma and doctrine.

Rather, the concepts of the communion of saints and intercession - which comprises the Catholic view of the Church and the community of faithful, as well as contextual views of Mary as mother of God and mother of the church, are the dogmas of the faith found in the catechism (which is loaded with references to both scripture and tradition).

CAF is helpful for comparing notes, but to the other poster’s point, it should not be used in a vacuum without an “official” source such as the catechism. You may consider utilizing CA Live or their apologists’ material. As another unofficial source, I would recommend the Called to Communion radio program with Dr David Anders which can be found on EWTN radio. His daily programs are also saved on YouTube.

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