Why does it take so long to be catholic?

What most stands out to me is your statement that "I’ve been a member of just about every mainstream church at one time or another. " Which means that not only is it easy to JOIN a “mainstream church”, it’s easy to LEAVE one as well.

But there is no (longer) a way to “formally defect” from the Catholic Church. Once you’re in, you’re in. All of the obligations of being a Catholic continue, as well as the penalties of NOT meeting those obligations, even if a person claims “I’m an ex-Catholic”. So, an “ex-Catholic” who marries in a courthouse, on a beach, in a Baptist church, Vegas wedding chapel, etc., is automatically entering an invalid marriage due to “lack of form”. An “ex-Catholic” is still obligated to attend Mass, and could be in mortal sin for not doing so. (But people who never were Catholics at all aren’t required to meet such standards.)

Now, if the Catholic faith isn’t true, then it doesn’t really matter from the POV of the “ex-Catholic” that they are still considered to be members of the Church, but obviously, those in the Church believe the faith is true. So, even without invoking the concept of “apostasy” which is a sin by itself, one can argue that an “ex-Catholic” even at greater risk of damnation, than those who were never Catholics in the first place!

This is the same reason that priests are not supposed to baptize infants as Catholics who don’t have a serious chance of actually growing up as practicing Catholics (although it seems that in practice, especially under Pope Francis, most priests are inclined to give the benefit of the doubt and perform the baptism, even if the parents are unmarried, are C+E Catholics, etc.)

To me, this is one of the major reasons that have kept me from pursuing the Church further. I just don’t feel ready to sign up for life. But I totally understand the reasoning behind why it’s not easy to become a Catholic.

There is no such thing as an illegitimate baby, only illegitimate parents.

The Code of Canon Law states: For an infant to be baptized licitly:

  1. the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;

  2. there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason [Can. 868 §1].

When Cardinal the Pope did say “The child has absolutely no responsibility for the state of his parents’ marriage. And often a baptism can be a new start for the parent/s as well.”

Some married Catholics are token Catholics or only Catholic by birth, it’s a cultural rite, there is no certainty that they will bring their children up Catholic.

No baby should be refused Baptism if the parent/guardian is baptised Catholic and gives consent.

The role of Godparents is vital here as well, they are also responsible for ensuring the child grows up in the faith and receives a Catholic education.

You do not mention Baptism but “discussion with Priest then First Communion” … thus it seems you must have been already Baptized in the Church (possibly as an infant?) but then never catechized or recieving the other two Sacraments of Initiation (Communion & Confirmation) …this iindicates a different process. … you were already Catholic by your Baptism, unless you left out part of your story

Probably the conversations with the parish Priest led him to bebelieve you were ready and committed…this is vastly different the a true convertion (an un-Baptized person) Catechumen and a Candidate (validly Baptized, Christian from a different faith tradition) coming into full Communion with the Church.

You don’t have to be from Brazil to have such an experience - my experience was similar (in Charlotte, NC, USA).

In the “old days” (pre-Vatican2) people were received into the Catholic Church after undergoing personal instruction by a priest. The person could be received whenever the priest felt s/he was ready (except in Advent or Lent).

LONG before Vatican-2, this approach had become impractical. The Industrial Revolution caused rapid growth in Parishes, as villages became towns and towns became large cities.

Such rapid growth was not new to the Church, but it had not been experienced for many centuries. It had happened a long time ago, when the Roman Emperor Constantine ended religious persecution (with the Edict of Milan, in 312 AD) and himself converted to Catholicism. The Church was suddenly faced with MANY converts.

The Early Church instituted a system to cope with this mass conversion. The modern Church, faced with a similar situation, reached back to the Early Church and largely implemented their system.

MOST adults convert to the modern Catholic Faith through RCIA (the modern implementation of the ancient system). But Canon Law still permits individual instruction and discretion by a priest. This is how my wife and I were received.

You still need a sponsor - a Catholic in good standing. Neither of us actually knew a Catholic in good standing, so our priest enlisted a volunteer, who invited us to dinner so that we could convince him of our intentions (because he would have to testify on our behalf). Our sponsor was a Catholic lawyer, who presented us with a gift of a book of Catholic conversion stories. I mention my sponsor’s faith and occupation because they happen to be the same as our gracious Host on this Forum, Mr. Karl Keating.

Several years afterwards I found out, quite by chance, that the priest who handled my conversion was himself a convert, having been born and brought up in a Spiritualist family. I wonder whether he had to go through the full procedure at the time! Unfortunately I can’t ask him now, as we no longer live in the same city.

Yes, I was baptized in the Anglican Church.

I think my wife acted as my sponsor. In fact one of the reasons why my talks with Fr. H. were over and done with so quickly was that he appointed (informally) my wife as my catechist. He was already her father confessor and, now that I look back on it, I suppose he must have known quite a lot about me before we even spoke for the first time!

That is not necessarily the case. I was not baptized or raised Catholic, but made my profession of faith and received confirmation/first communion about 4 months after first talking to a priest. I also know another man that was married to a Catholic for 5 years and had gone to Mass the whole time. He joked with Father about being a “common law Catholic” and after 3 or 4 sessions was received into the Church.

In the RCIA documents, Chapter 5 for receiving those already baptized says in number 473 that “no greater burden than necessary is required for the establishment of communion and unity”. Number 478 goes on to say “*n all case, however, discernment should be made regarding the length of catechetical formation required for each individual candidate for reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church”.

This is reiterated in the National Statues for the Catechumenate in number 30 which states:

  1. Those who have already been baptized in another Church or ecclesial community should not be treated as catechumens or so designated. Their doctrinal and spiritual preparation for reception into full Catholic communion should be determined according to the individual case

, that is, it should depend on the extent to which the baptized person has led a Christian life within a community of faith and been appropriately catechized to deepen his or her inner adherence to the Church.This is constantly ignored where everyone is dumped into the same set of classes for 9 months. It seems to be a rarity where an individual candidate is evaluated and only those areas they lack understanding on are required rather than treating everyone as if they have zero idea of what the Church teaches. I know many converts that were better catechized on Catholic doctrine before classes started then some of those teaching the classes (missing Mass is ok, contraception is between you and God, etc. :mad:).

To be clear; Those that are already baptized are to undergo preparation specific to where they are. They are not supposed to be pushed through the RCIA mill with the assumption that RCIA is about going to school. It is utterly sad to me that so many RCIA teams treat converts as if they have no understanding of the basis of the Christian (and therefore Catholic) faith. If they are completely uncatechized, 9 months may not be enough, but for many Christians they have already studied the Catholic faith for years before considering conversion. They should not be held back simply because the school year has not started.*

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