It is very common to hear things like the “medievalism*” of Catholic moral teaching on just about everything except the poor.
My question is, why do the Catholics who hold these views care? If they aren’t going to Mass, if they are not participating in the life of the Church, then why do they give one ounce of care about what the Church teaches? If you are so disaffected, then why not just leave it alone? In any other human endeavor, when someone is so disaffected, when someone hates or disbelieves an essential part of the thing in question, 99% of the time that person will leave it.
In my mind, it is most logical for a person who holds these views to just give up. If you don’t agree with essential subject matter, then why do you care to stick around? If I did not agree with the Church’s moral teachings, I would at least be faithful enough to my (hypothetically extremely flawed) conscience, and I would respect my own logic enough, to seal the deal and just not call myself Catholic anymore. At least be intellectually honest with yourself.
In one sense I absolutely detest this double-dealing game that many people play because it is so extremely offensive to logic and proper reason.
But in another sense this, to me, seems a sort of divine intervention. God perhaps keeps these people around in hopes that someone will evangelize them?
*I vehemently object to the world medieval being used as some sort of curse word, but it is.
I might think God keeps them in the Church in hopes they will be evangelized and led to the true teachings of the Church. I once asked a friend of mine who is against several Church teachings why she stayed and she said “I’m Catholic; that’s my whole identity.”
They care because there is so much to the church that they do believe in especially the Eucharist bringing them in. People may not always share all the beliefs of the Church in their hearts, but as A Catholic, we are taught about these beliefs so that we do come to believe in them. Would Jesus kick out all those surrounding Him who are listening to Him who question Him, or would he teach them truths until they understood?
Having once been a fallen away Catholic, I can answer this.
The number one reason is because they still believe in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Due to today’s secular, modern, Protestant dominated, American society they might not understand or agree with Catholic teachings. But the reason they have not become Protestants is because they do believe in the Catholic understanding of transubstantiation.
When my dad left the Catholic Church to become a Baptist, I finally asked him if he believed in transubstantiation. He didn’t know what it meant, so when I explained that we Catholics believe that the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Christ (our Mystery of Faith) via the Holy Spirit… my dad said, “No, it’s symbolic. Priests don’t have the power to make that kind of miracle.”
Therefore, I said to my dad… “OK, you are officially not a Catholic anymore.”
To me… if they believe in transubstantiation, then they are still Catholic. They might not be a good Catholic, or a devout Catholic, or a practicing Catholic or an educated Catholic; but they still believe in the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, they are still Catholic.
Instead of trying to kick them out, keep in mind that they most likely have NOT received a proper Catholic education. I know I didn’t.
Of course, then there are some secular Catholics who view being Catholic in the same regard as atheist Jews consider themselves to still be Jewish. They view being Catholic as a culture/people/idenity. However, unlike the Atheist Jews who do not believe in God, secular Catholics still believe in God and most likely in the Eucharist. All former Catholics who are now Atheists that I know will say they “used to be Catholic.” They do not consider themselves to Catholic anymore. And most who do not believe in the Blessed Sacrament will not identify themselves as Catholic either.
So in closing, I really think most times it comes down to believing in the Eucharist. It’s the one thing that ALL Catholics (conservative, liberal, orthodox, secular, non-practicing, Eastern, Western, etc) all have in common.
And finally to answer your question, “***God perhaps keeps these people around in hopes that someone will evangelize them?***” ----- the answer is YES.
This was gradually infused into the Catholic mind by anti-religious Progressives. They were preaching their brand of anti-Catholic thinking but never called it that. The most effective liars are the most subtle, often hiding behind an outer surface of sincere intellectualism and a feigned love for ‘freedom.’ Freedom from religion, or, at worst, promoting a corrupted version of it, was the goal. The current version of our plight started in 1967. Catholic institutions of higher learning were convinced they needed academic “freedom” and cut their ties with the Church’s hierarchy.
Things I heard in the late 1960s, during the start of the Sex without love or commitment Revolution, included: “All you Catholics do is listen to the Pope!” Yeah, who should we be listening to - you? But we were not taught to answer an insult with an insult. And, “You know what the problem is with you Catholics? You’re sexually repressed!” No, we were taught that the primary purpose of sex is what our human biology tells us, for making babies." So, most of us ended up getting married. And, “You Catholics think sex is dirty!” No, you’re saying that so we might think that having sex with whoever is OK, and the fact that you know we were taught it’s not OK offends you.
The late 1960s and 70s were the ‘golden age’ of dissent in the Church. You want to know when all the changes and distortions and poor catechesis started, look there.
In the 1960s, government at all levels, reflected and respected Christian ideas and values. And that included the media.
In 1969, the truth was that most Americans were against permissive abortion, but the media and the public were told lies, which included the ‘socially backward’ attitude of the Church. The whole plan of deception and falsehoods is laid out here.
So, what did we not establish in the 1970s? The New Opium Dens and the PLANNED addictions that followed? Who ran and paid for porn bookstores everywhere when just a few years prior, the worst you could legally do was buy Playboy which did not show graphic sex acts? How about strip clubs and topless bars? And who paid for the lawyers who kept us ‘religious nuts’ at bay? And who said, “We have the First Amendment RIGHT!” to do these gravely immoral things.
And who, starting in the 1970s, gradually allowed the media to very gradually allow risque, off-color, and tiny bits of sexual content? And, who, decade after decade, gradually turned up the volume on sexual content and even added profanity? And in 1973, the Supreme Court legalized murder of the unborn, which some of us are fighting to this day. AND THEY HAD NO GOOD REASON TO DO THIS.
Whose idea was it to put porn on cable in the 1980s or legalize No-Fault Divorce in the 1980s? Anybody?
During the Papacy of Pope Benedict, one of those dissidents from the 1960s accused him of “trying to return the Church to the Middle Ages.”
If you - meaning Catholics - are told you are wrong for decades, and exposed to ever-increasing amounts of immorality as “entertainment,” then it’s no wonder that the dam has broke for too many. That too many Catholics have one hour a week to be Catholic and then spend the rest of their time living like pagans. It’s like being schizophrenic. But not without a bunch of real interventions by the wolves.
Pope Benedict, who lived through all that, echoed your thinking:
It is a trait of human nature to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals and to affiliate with like-minded organizations. Should our views diverge, via external pressure, from an organization to which we already belong, this does not change our basic nature - actually it demonstrates it more fully. We then seek to conform our surroundings to our current train of thought. We prefer to drag the Church along with us rather than to move back toward her. Thus, we seek out and associate with those of our particular religious or political bent, rather than deny ourselves out of obedience to the Church. Cultural influences have been, and are increasingly tremendous. Since the media age has come upon us, we have been substantially formed by the opinions of others. I cannot think back far enough to remember a time when the popular media stood in defense of the moral teachings of the Church. Consider, for the average pew-sitter:
Church influence: 1 hour per week.
Media influence (TV alone): 26 hours per week
I think Phil is right about a good number. But I also think that the reasons are likely to vary based on the person. There are some quite educated Catholics who still go to Mass every day, who participate in parish life – and yet they disagree with certain moral teachings.
I think that some simply don’t see the connection nor do they view those issues as make-it-or-break-it issues. In their mind, it is perfectly in accord with their Catholic faith to disagree. So why leave?
Inertia? Maybe they still consider themselves Catholic because they haven’t found another church they like better. A few actually make the effort to break ties with the church for specific reasons, but I think most simply drift away… and sometimes they come back (as I did, or as I am doing) when they recognize the need.
I would say most people who identify as Catholic are merely nominal Catholics. Its a sad thing to say ,but I am afraid it might be true. But like this quote illustrates, many of theme are Catholic in their identity only. The may recognize the truth of the Church at a very instinctual level,but as for the implications of the Gospel on the moral teaching they have not bothered to educate themselves about it, and so they world teaches them its values.
While they can do great damage to the Church as they proclaim to be Catholic to family and others while living secular lives, I would hate that they lose their identity as Catholics.
That makes it incumbent on the rest of us to fervently participate in the New Evangelization. Too soon will these people who merely identify as Catholics identify as atheists. At least if they convert to another Christian church they will have Christ.
It seems that many of these people often make their political philosophy their real religion, and thus often strongly oppose Church morality. They really have walked away from Christ or perhaps never knew him even though they may have been baptized and even received other sacraments. Therefore, many of them dont have the courage or conviction to support Catholic morality. The world’s secularism is their real religion, and thus feel ashamed of the moral teachings of the Church since they still wear the Catholic label. Its like being mocked for wearing your team jersey after theyve have one losing season after another. Not that the Church has had losing seasons, but these people dont have the guts to stand up to others for what they believe in since they really have no faith life. Thus they cower from or worse, are offended by the Church’s moral theology.
While I wish they had the courage to stand up for what is right , I have to realize they dont know what is right because they barely know Christ or His Church. We need to change that! Then they wont be offended! But stand strong for truth with the Church!
I think that deep down, fear of death and the hereafter keeps a nominal Catholic nominally Catholic. Everyone eventually dies, and then what? If what the Church teaches is true, it is ultimately either Heaven or Hell. So, the fear of death is there, in the back of one’s mind, but in the meantime, there’s a lot of hedonistic pleasure to be had! Why not try to chip away at all of those pesky moral laws from within? And if that doesn’t work, well, there’s always hope for a deathbed reconciliation, after we’ve had it our way and it no longer matters. Keep one foot in both worlds, that’s what it seems like many of us are trying to do.
Fundamentalist are not really doing that well. When people disagree they jump ship to a different group. Fundamentialist I know have go to one church for a little while and then join a new one when they don’t like the preacher. And often they wind up attending different denominations (esp if you look at tons of different Baptist denominations)
I think a big part of the problem is poor catechesis. On the one hand, for several decades the Church did a pretty poor job catechizing the laity. In general, run of the mill Catholics don’t know a lot of even the basics of what we’re supposed to believe. On the other hand, these same folks know just enough of those basics to know that the Church’s fundamental teachings are contrary to the core beliefs of their secular lives. Regardless of the reasons they choose to still self-identify as Catholic (I personally believe for most it’s for cultural rather than faith-based reasons), they see, at least to some degree, the shortcomings in their behavior. Instead of dealing with them as a personal problem, they transpose the problem to the Church and get angry and offended at Her, the pope and faithful Catholics.
A lot of my “little ‘c’” Catholic friends and family–many of whom are oh, so holier-than-thou, and very quick to tell you so–have brought up all sorts of reasons why they are upset and bothered by the Church’s “hypocritical” teachings. A lot of the teachings they allege don’t actually exist. I’ve had long arguments trying to dispel the claims that the Church teaches that drinking and gambling are mortal sins, that any sex act that doesn’t result in a pregnancy needs to be confessed, etc. When it comes to bigger issues–abortion, for example–they all tow the party line and regurgitate the “facts” they hear straight from the mouths of liberal talking heads, such as the oft-repeated claim that the Church is only concerned with pre-born life and has no concern or care for these babies after they arrive, which makes their stance of murdering them somehow more morally sound. When your world view is that upside down and so reliant on lies, it’s no wonder you get upset and bothered anytime you hear the truth.
In my case it was arrogance, I knew better, until I began reading more about the faith and its teachings, joined CAF and continue to work building my faith. I now know that it is impossible for me to identify as a Catholic while disagreeing with the Church’s teachings, poor catechesis is no longer an excuse I can use when there is so much information and guidance available.Thank you to all on CAF who have helped me grow in my faith, especially those who oppose the church’s teachings it is from them I realise how far I could have drifted.