This has been a major stumbling block for my faith. Note that I do not mean any contempt here; over the years, I have come across disturbing discrepancies between what the Church teaches and what she has alower over the centuries. I’ll list them one by one:
The death penalty. If not a reversal of doctrine, the Church has definitely changed its attitude. Nowadays, the Church is vehemently opposed to it, but as recently as 200 years ago seemed all too eager to put the headsmen of the papal states to work.
Child brides, arranged marriages, and incestous marriages. I once saw a list of “sins against marriage”, and it included these two things.
Yet, royals and nobles were allowed to marry their siblings to “keep their bloodles pure”, and the minimum marriage age for women in Italy was raised to 12 as recently as the late 1800s; that was after Italy had been unified, which apparently means the papal states and other surrounding areas were okay with it.
Furthermore, in Medieval Europe there was allegedly a custom known as Droit du signuere, in which a king or lord was allowed to have sex with subordinate women the night before her wedding. That is something the Church today would be moving Heaven and Earth to stop.
Attitudes towards women and liturgy. Whilst skimming through a copy of the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law, one entry says that a woman must never approach the Sanctuary, and if she must, she is not allowed to speak. Other declarations said that women actively participating (including altar girls) is an “evil practice”. Apart from the Liturgy, it seems battered wives were not permitted to leave their husbands.
Attitudes towards Islam. Many saints have had fiery words for Muslims, and none of them sounded like the olive branches JPII extended to them. Even Voltaire, no friend of Catholicism, was apolled by Islam’s claims. This one is particularly hard for me; Paul warns to reject a different gospel “even if an angel from Heaven gave it to you” (Muhammad claimed to receive revelations from Gabriel).
Furthermore, recent popes have claimed Muslims “worship the same God”. A cursory skimming of the Quran shows that this simply cannot be true. Muhammad’s exposure to Christianity was erroneous, mostly based of the Nestorian heresy.
Theological semantics notwithstanding, anyone can tell that the Quran is full of commands for Muslims to rape and subjugate women and children and to “kill nonbelievers wherever they are”. Never mind the fact that it claims Alexander the Great (who lived over a millennium before Muhammad) was a Muslim.JPII, a canonized saint, kissed this book. What gives?
Ecumenism. I think one doctor of the Church said that “anyone who prays with a heretic becomes a heretic himself”. So why are we still in “dialogue” with separated Christians? Why are we not calling for their conversion?
Enlightenment thought. The Church used to reject it wholesale, especially in the political sphere. Now we see Church men calling the laity to “faithful citizenship” within democratic republics, and to disobey unjust laws.
But in the 19th Century, the Church told freedom-fighting Catholics in Ireland and Poland to “submit to lawful authority” (that is, the non-Catholic crowns of Britain and Russia, respectively), all in the name of the Social Kingship of Christ. Does Christ’s Social Kingship mean whomever has political power is given free regn to do whatever?