Why do so many Catholics act so superior?


#1

Hear me out for a second. There have been so many threads on CAF started purely to minimize or point out bad behaviour of other people. I know that sometimes, people like to vent, but I can't help, but think that a lot of well meaning Catholics tend to come across as being very superior.

Examples of topics where I see this all the time:

NFP vs. ABC threads
Modesty threads
Masterbation threads
Bringing children to mass threads
Marital problems threads (telling them to split up all the time)

Honestly, if I were not Catholic and I came on CAF, it would really put me off the idea of ever being Catholic. There's no love coming from many posters on CAF.

How are we supposed to bring families and friends to the Catholic church if we are always condemning and frowning upon others telling them they are in mortal sin and giving this "holier than thou" attitude.

I really dislike it and it's so unattractive. We as Catholics are supposed to be spreading love, compassion, empathy and grace. What happened?


#2

Because a great many people who spend their lives on Internet forums need to get lives. This is not really a Catholic issue.


#3

[quote="Serap, post:1, topic:205170"]
Hear me out for a second. There have been so many threads on CAF started purely to minimize or point out bad behaviour of other people. I know that sometimes, people like to vent, but I can't help, but think that a lot of well meaning Catholics tend to come across as being very superior.

Examples of topics where I see this all the time:

NFP vs. ABC threads
Modesty threads
Masterbation threads
Bringing children to mass threads
Marital problems threads (telling them to split up all the time)

Honestly, if I were not Catholic and I came on CAF, it would really put me off the idea of ever being Catholic. There's no love coming from many posters on CAF.

How are we supposed to bring families and friends to the Catholic church if we are always condemning and frowning upon others telling them they are in mortal sin and giving this "holier than thou" attitude.

I really dislike it and it's so unattractive. We as Catholics are supposed to be spreading love, compassion, empathy and grace. What happened?

[/quote]

It's true that some people are not very 'loving'. . .

But it's also true that if a person is in mortal sin (and while we don't judge, we can certainly say if an action is objectively a mortal sin, without being judgmental. . .after all, why have the 10 commandments if we can't then say, "stealing is sinful!", right?), it would be a very 'unloving' thing to say to that person, "meh, do as you please!"

Have you noticed that the people who most often (not always of course) complain of people being 'holier than thou' are usually people who want to do something wrong?

And what happens then is that all the emotional 'stops' are brought out, and a huge argument breaks out, and then you get people getting frustrated and hurt on both sides of the issue.

And THEN you get people who come into the discussion part way and see all the 'worst' kinds of 'fire and brimstone' (or hear accusations from people that this is how they have been 'treated'). . .and these people, being kind, normal, loving Catholics are appalled that other Catholics (according to either what they themselves have read on a few threads by a few posters, or by those whom they love or know saying that this is how they have been treated by Catholics) have acted in such a wrong way. . .

And they quite correctly bring up that we should not be 'acting badly'.

But. . .is it really that 'so many' Catholics 'act superior. . .

Or are there also many situations where a lot of people simply assume that anybody who is trying to tell them what they do not want to hear is ONLY doing so because that person 'is feeling morally superior, judgmental, mean-spirited, etc?

If a person wants to do something, even if you approached them with the sweetest of words, the most gentle and loving demeanor in the world, but what you said wasn't what they wanted to hear, I think that they would 'hear' your words as sour, and perceive your demeanor as nasty, superior and self-righteous.

The person in an adulterous relationship is not to be 'condemned' as a bad person, surely. But in order to get 'clean' with God, the person must leave the relationship or cease the 'action'. . .and there is no other way. We can't say, "well, provided you really LOVE the guy/girl, you can keep on, God will understand."
That's what they WANT to hear. That is the 'loving' answer that they seek, and the ONLY loving answer they seek, but it is absolutely, totally wrong, and it is not really loving, because remaining in that wrong sinful relationship without repenting could put the person in hell for eternity. It might 'hurt' to hear that one needs to stop doing something which one truly 'loves', but stopping it can lead to ETERNAL LIFE with Christ. . .something far more important. And helping people to such a life is more important to me than whether they think that I 'appear' to them as 'loving.

Just my thoughts.


#4

[quote="Tantum_ergo, post:3, topic:205170"]

Have you noticed that the people who most often (not always of course) complain of people being 'holier than thou' are usually people who want to do something wrong?

[/quote]

Nail. Head. Direct hit!

But I agree with your post; good post!


#5

[quote="The_Bucket, post:2, topic:205170"]
Because a great many people who spend their lives on Internet forums need to get lives. This is not really a Catholic issue.

[/quote]

Amen to that.


#6

You are preaching to the choir. There is a reason most of my friends aren't Catholic (and not just because Catholic women my age in my area are boring as watching pain dry). :) My boyfriend is, but he is very nice. :D

When I first came here, I was thinking about coming back to the Church (I was just a lurker, didn't have a profile), and it turned me off to the faith for awhile. I came back due to other things IRL. But most real-life Catholics still annoy me. I just smile and nod. :) And then rock out on my ipod once I leave Mass. :D


#7

NFP vs. ABC threads
Modesty threads
Masterbation threads
Bringing children to mass threads
Marital problems threads (telling them to split up all the time)

Well, society dosn’t find any problems with ABC, so you wouldn’t find anti-abc threads anywhere else. Same with Masterbation. Yes, Catholics can be critical of the subjects but

As far as modesty…we are called up and out of ordinary society to be modest. Now, I firmly believe that wearing slacks is apropriate for women. So there are some who want to go too far. But we aren’t going as far as the mormans or amish, either, and some read the teachings of the church that we should be doing such.

Chidren in Mass is a tricky subject, too. If your kid can’t behave, then things become torture for you, the child, and those around you. If the child (or adult) is handicapped then some allowance should be made. But I think many try to force frazzled mothers to go to Mass with their offspring or else they’re somehow “bad” and not really Catholic. Which is just downright awful. No parent should feel guilty if they don’t want to bring their child to Mass. Some children just can’t sit still. At the same time, there are some parishoners who won’t tolerate a peep. They need to grow up.

Martial problems are always tricky.

However, there needs to be a growing response to what is appropriate in marriage. We aren’t in the 1800’s and we’re not in a muslim world. Women shouldn’t have to be abused, verbally or otherwise, nor subjected to the humilation of infidelity because men bring in the money. Men don’t need to stay, either, because raising children is seen as only for women. Sometimes it is healthier for a parent to kick out another or for them to leave and take the children. Especally with infidelity. I know many people in psycology who have found that sexual abuse of children occurs when a parent is dating…either from having a babysitter, being alone or from the partner or partner’s friend. So in this world it IS better for a parent to leave and protect their child. We also live in a world of rampant sexually and fluidly trasmitted diseases, so an unfaithful partner could bring home a deadly virus and give it to their spouse as easy as the common cold.
There’s a huge difference between being prudent and judgmental.


#8

[quote="Serap, post:1, topic:205170"]
Hear me out for a second. There have been so many threads on CAF started purely to minimize or point out bad behaviour of other people. I know that sometimes, people like to vent, but I can't help, but think that a lot of well meaning Catholics tend to come across as being very superior.

Examples of topics where I see this all the time:

NFP vs. ABC threads
Modesty threads
Masterbation threads
Bringing children to mass threads
Marital problems threads (telling them to split up all the time)

Honestly, if I were not Catholic and I came on CAF, it would really put me off the idea of ever being Catholic. There's no love coming from many posters on CAF.

How are we supposed to bring families and friends to the Catholic church if we are always condemning and frowning upon others telling them they are in mortal sin and giving this "holier than thou" attitude.

I really dislike it and it's so unattractive. We as Catholics are supposed to be spreading love, compassion, empathy and grace. What happened?

[/quote]

I'm not quite sure how to keep this from becoming yet another "what is wrong with you people, why aren't you more like I am?" thread. Maybe we can make it into a discussion about how to handle threads or posters that seem that way.

NFP vs. ABC threads -- I don't get into the "vs. ABC" too much, so I can't say on that one
Modesty threads -- there is a lot of questions on what "modesty" is, so I think those are worth discussing.
Masterbation threads -- don't read those, either
Bringing children to mass threads -- I'm older now, but some of them used to give good ideas on how to best cope with children who don't settle down, both yours and someone else's
Marital problems threads (telling them to split up all the time) -- Catholics can be so committed to never having a divorce that it is very difficult for them to accept that they are in a toxic or even dangerous situation. There is a lot of misinformation on what the Church teaches about when civil divorce is morally permissible. Again, I think there have been useful discussions in these threads.

Besides, when you are sitting anonymously at keyboard, it is very easy to type in something thoughtless, just an initial reaction that you haven't thought through, or that reads much worse than it sounds in your own mind when you hit "submit".

People generally react the best if you presume that in making a post that seems judgemental to you that they did actually not mean to be judgemental. For instance, I don't think you mean to say, "I'm better that you" but rather "This behavior deserves admonishment; I think it is bad evangelization, what can we do about it?"

Just keep the tone gentle, and be open to the idea that admonishment is a learned skill.

Good luck with your thread.


#9

Maybe its a good idea to not take thngs so personally or seriously.

Examine your conscience frequently, and make sure your conscience is properly formed. After that, who cares what someone on the Internet says?


#10

Don't get me wrong; if people are asking for advice, then give it, but I agree that the tone is what is important.

Not one priest has ever told me that I'm in mortal sin...NEVER. I only witnessed this on CAF.

I ask for advice about something on CAF and mortal sin is thrown at me over and over and it's like, wow...I'm doomed for Hell...then I talk to a priest and he treats me with kindness and compassion. He tells me that I'm a good Christian and to keep working at it.

There's a big difference in the delivery. CAF would scare many lurkers and "could be" Catholics away. Especially teenagers that are looking to come back to the church or a husband that is committing adultery, etc.


#11

I have thought the same. Its like the way that the Church is portrayed by some of the threads on CAF and by its members, is not a Church I’m so sure I would want to be a member of. Thank God that the Church I experience in real life is vastly different from the threads you mentioned and similar ones. Thank God for the Catholics I have met in my parish and at various Diocese activities.


#12

[quote="Serap, post:10, topic:205170"]
Don't get me wrong; if people are asking for advice, then give it, but I agree that the tone is what is important.

Not one priest has ever told me that I'm in mortal sin...NEVER. I only witnessed this on CAF.

[/quote]

Umm. Priests SHOULD be stating if X is a mortal sin. We often fall into mortal sin and ith SHOULD be taken seriously. Unfortunatly too many priests believe like one homilist who announced that Vatican II made it nearly impossible to mortally sin. So just becuase a priest has

I ask for advice about something on CAF and mortal sin is thrown at me over and over and it's like, wow...I'm doomed for Hell...then I talk to a priest and he treats me with kindness and compassion. He tells me that I'm a good Christian and to keep working at it.

That's a councelling capacity, not something that can be offered online. Infact councelling should NOT be offered online. It's either deeply frowned upon or alltogether banned by most psycological orginizations. So online we do the best we can do and that does require calling it like it is.

There's a big difference in the delivery. CAF would scare many lurkers and "could be" Catholics away. Especially teenagers that are looking to come back to the church or a husband that is committing adultery, etc.

As someone else said, there is no tone online. I call my coworkers "goofy" all the time and they call me "meanie". I'm not so much mean as I'm their boss and they're not so much goofy as they're college age boys who act like accordingly. If I typed out our ordinary interactions likely someone would be calling HR but if you heard our conversations you'd understand that we very much respect eachother and you'd want to work for us.

And while we are called to kindess we're not called to be pushovers, either. There is a reason we don't baptize immediatly and why we have RCIA. Many other christian religions hold "baptizm nights" where anyone off the street can walk in and be baptized with no real comitment. This is a hard church to follow.

On a second note (and almost irrelevant) if you think we're tough on people go to any other christian (or muslim) or any board for that matter and watch them eat you alive. We are pretty decent for a group of random internet strangers, not all of whom are Catholic.


#13

Wow, if you have committed a grave sin and a priest never addressed it as such, find a new priest. I’ve had plenty of priests not sugar coat things, always reminding me that I should focus on my soul and heaven. The priests who have no problem calling my sin a sin, and in the past, my mortal, grave sins what they were, are the same priests I would always go back to for confession since they were of sound advice. They were also the most compassionate when I was getting out of my mortal sin.

I have had a priest tell me in confessional that it was not possible to stop pre-marital sex, so to just try to do it less. :eek: Needless to say, that may have been what I wanted to hear, but my soul knew better and I never went to him again and tried to avoid him and anywhere he was. Imagine, how many people have been lead astray because of him. Very sad.

But as another poster said, go to other forms of online communication and you’ll soon see that it isn’t a Catholic thing, but there is lots of hostility in our culture toward those who think differently, even those who accuse Catholics of being intolerant are not tolerant themselves.


#14

you have not given any specific examples of uncharitable posts so I cannot give a specific answer.

I will ask a general question however. If you come to my website, which tests and rates water quality of various cities for purity etc, should I tell the truth about municipalities with problems? Or is it uncharitable for me to “condemn” or “put down” those cities whose water is toxic. Should I worry about being PC, “pastoral” and “charitable” or should I tell the truth so you can drink the water with a well founded confidence?

If your well is poisoned because an enemy has put an evil substance there, am I being “holier than thou” if I warn you before you drink?

Love is NOT telling lies, even gentle ones, especially Love is NOT telling a lie that will send your mortal soul to hell if you believe it.


#15

[quote="Serap, post:1, topic:205170"]
We as Catholics are supposed to be spreading love, compassion, empathy and grace. What happened?

[/quote]

Love is not about condoning bad behavior. Love is about helping people to live in accordance with God's will. Ultimately, we all need to help each other to get to heaven. If we accept sin under the guise of "compassion or tolerance" we have done that soul a great disservice.

As humans created in the image of our God, we are called make free choices that reflect His love for us. It seems to me that I would rather be chastised for not living up to that model rather than receiving praise for not living up to that model.

At the same time any advice that may seem difficult to hear should be provided with care, love and humility. After all, none of us is perfect...


#16

I’m actually with the other posters on this. While I don’t think anyone can flat out say “you’re in mortal sin” since mortal sin requires full knowledge and consent and others don’t know what you know about yourself, I think that priests and even laypeople DO have the responsibility to tell people when something is serious. I wouldn’t say “you’re in mortal sin” I’d say “this is serious and grave matter you know, and now that you know, you’re jeopardizing yourself with mortal sin.” I always presume ignorance since that’s as un-judgmental as you can get while still discerning the action and speaking the truth to its gravity.

I would hope confessors do the same or are even a little more blunt.


#17

It's not unique to this site, I see it on a lot of message boards.

I agree that there are a lot of rather "harsh" attitudes here, but I think those who are more "mellow" are a bit quieter on these types of forums. (And sadly, sometimes when they dare to speak up, they get shouted down. Which doesn't encourage others to speak up.)

There have been some threads that have made me very upset, but I try not to torture myself by reading them all!!

I don't know about you, but I live in a world with lots of shades of gray -- seems that many posters here are strictly black-and-white. Perhaps it's easier, perhaps it's harder, I don't know. :shrug:


#18

Serap,
You bring up some good points, we as Catholics should have love and compassion for others. We should watch what we say so that we do not turn people away from ever wanting to become Catholic. These are things people should think about as they post things. But here is something to think about, that on the surface is probably irritate you which is not the goal but only to bring up what many find to be an equally valuable point.
Many of the threads that you have listed are threads where people may disagree with Church teaching, really struggle with something that is a serious sin, or people have a hard time understanding why the Church teaches what it does.
Just like not pushing others away, I think that something we need to be equally careful of not doing is being passive or not standing up for what is right and wrong. Too often we stand by and don’t say something to people who are putting their soul in danger because we afraid of hurting their feelings. I have to say that I have not seen as much of a prideful/arrogant attitudes here on CAF as I see in much of my work, which is strictly with churches. My job puts me in contact with all types of churches all day every day. I see a more prideful and entitled attitudes in many other denominations over that amongst Catholics.


#19

[quote="Serap, post:1, topic:205170"]
Hear me out for a second. There have been so many threads on CAF started purely to minimize or point out bad behaviour of other people. I know that sometimes, people like to vent, but I can't help, but think that a lot of well meaning Catholics tend to come across as being very superior.

Examples of topics where I see this all the time:

NFP vs. ABC threads
Modesty threads
Masterbation threads
Bringing children to mass threads
Marital problems threads (telling them to split up all the time)

Honestly, if I were not Catholic and I came on CAF, it would really put me off the idea of ever being Catholic. There's no love coming from many posters on CAF.

How are we supposed to bring families and friends to the Catholic church if we are always condemning and frowning upon others telling them they are in mortal sin and giving this "holier than thou" attitude.

I really dislike it and it's so unattractive. We as Catholics are supposed to be spreading love, compassion, empathy and grace. What happened?

[/quote]

I would keep in mind that there is no one nicer than Satan and his minions when they're wooing a soul into hell. I mean, they are soooo smoooth. They are your best buddy and do their very best to make you "feel loved" while convincing you that living in sin is just fine and dandy.

On the other hand, before we sin, Jesus calls us to task. "Pick up your cross daily and follow Me." Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the poor, etc.

And what happens after we sin? The roles reverse! Satan is now your accuser! "Now you've done it. You'd just as soon go all the way and enjoy yourself! God certainly won't forgive you, you wretch!"

And what does Jesus say? "Come to Me, all you who labor. If your sins are red as crimson, I will make them white as snow."

One of the biggest things, I think, that keeps us from recognizing, acknowledging, and repenting from our sins is our pride. Pride is at least a part of, if not the driving force of every sin. We aren't going to listen to anyone who doesn't make us "feel good about ourselves!"

And, lastly, keep in mind the spiritual works of mercy, among which are to "Admonish the sinner" and "Instruct the ignorant." That's what we should be trying to do in here. And, I hope if I'm ever in here blinded by some sin, that someone has enough love to admonish and instruct me! Truly.

My wife has a great analogy. Suppose you and your best friend are going to a really posh restaurant, all decked out in your finest outfit. And suppose your friend has a big BOOGER hanging out of his/her nose that you just notice as you're walking up to the door to go in. Do you 1) Say something and chance them getting upset at YOU? or 2) Act like you didn't notice and everything is okay? What would a real friend do? A lot of people in our day are walking around with big, great spiritual BOOGERS hanging off their souls! :)


#20

I agree here. In looking at the scriptures, our perfect role model seemed to be harsh and scold only those who were the legalistic Pharisees, the ones who were leading others toward God (or supposed to be!), the ones who made sure they looked good on the outside and did all “the law.” The (outward) sinners he hung out with he seemed to deal w/ differently, more gently leading them. IE Matthew the tax collector, the woman in adultery, Zaccheus, etc…

Jesus could see people’s hearts and just knew the right thing to say, and the right way to say it.

A rule of thumb for all probably here is the basic: treat/speak to others the way you would want to be treated/spoken to.:slight_smile:


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