You don't have to be perfect to be Catholic, do you?


I posted this in the “Ask an Apologist” section - but I would like to hear your opinions as well, if you are willing to give them…

How do I respond to the below argument?

“I read that, when the Pope was ‘elected’, he said in a speech… people aren’t Catholic unless they adhere to all of the church’s beliefs. Meaning if you used any type of birth control, for example, you weren’t Catholic. If you attended mass only every now and then, you weren’t Catholic. That didn’t sit right with me. I was brought up believing that you can worship God anywhere, any time, and if you didn’t attend church every week, that was ok.”

I don’t see how this can be true, because we’re all sinners, and if this were true, none of us would be Catholic, right? But I can’t find any official sources that specifically refute this point or any references to what, exactly, the Pope may have said about it. It seems like the point is that we should believe and try our best to always follow the beliefs of the Church - not that we are expected to always be perfect in living up to them under threat of being kicked out. Is this correct? If so, how do I get this across in a loving way?


The person asserting this statement would have to provide a source for it.

As to the basic **idea **contained in that statement-- whether or not it was said by Pope Benedict: We are all called to seek holiness. We are called to be holy people, a royal priesthood. When we ignore the Church’s teaching we are not on a path to holiness. If we obstinately deny these teachings we are endangering our souls.


I certainly hope that we don’t have to be perfect or I have already failed the test.

I am the perfect person to ask for Christ’s Mercy for I have not begun to live up to the goodness of God’s love.


There is no way for me to fully understand or explain this. Jesus paid a high price for us and has high expectations for us. Of course we can’t forget His mercy, so I don’t know if there is a balance. It sure seems like Jesus is demanding perfection from us.

Mt 5:48
"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Mt 19:21-21
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Ro 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Jas 1:4
And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


Ryan :slight_smile:


To be Catholic is more than just calling yourself Catholic or being Baptized Catholic. It requires that you live or at least attempt to live the Catholic faith in your everyday life and actions to truely “be” Catholic.


Jesus commanded us “Be ye perfect”.

Who’s going to argue with Jesus?



Your bolded sentence is the answer to your question. Yes, of course, we all sin. We all fall down and have to get back up and continue on. That’s what the sacrament of confession is for.

The concept that’s being alluded to in the quoted paragraph above is a reference more to belief than to practice. If someone asserts they are Catholic and yet at the same time continually and consciously assert beliefs that are contrary to the Catholic faith…Can they really still properly be called Catholic?

If I’m a Buddhist and I believe that God is Trinity and that Jesus was God-made-man and he died for our sins…Doesn’t that kind of make me more Christian than Buddhist??? If I’m Catholic and I believe that Mary was not a perpetual Virgin and that the Eucharist is just a symbol of Jesus and not actually the God-Man himself…Doesn’t that make me more Protestant than Catholic?

See what I mean?

We all have moments of doubt and failure, moments when we seriously question tenets of our faith. It’s when there is no doubt in place and we consciously, persistently believe in something contrary to the faith that we are in jeopardy of having lost it (and the Spirit that brings it alive within us).

Hope this helps?


're Catholic but don’t believe that Jesus ever really existed…if they say they are Catholic but insist that adultary is


Where else should a sinner go?

We are not perfect but are striving for perfection or at least should be.


First, as others have said, the person saying Pope Benedict said those exact words should show you the quote.

Second, Using birth control to prevent conception is a mortal sin. Missing Sunday Mass without a just cause is a mortal sin. Receiving the Eucharist in the state of mortal sin, compounds the issue. Are people still Catholics if they’ve done these things (assuming they’ve been Baptized as Catholics)? Unless they’ve fully renounced the Church, then technically yes but their souls are in grave danger and they are not living as true Catholics. It’s in name only.

As has also been mentioned, being Catholic means to actually live the faith. To do that we must follow (or try) to follow all of the teachings of the Church. Not just the ones we like or the ones that are easy for us.

We are to seek holiness in all that we do and we strive to learn just what it means to live as a Catholic. And that usually means we need to change some of the things we’ve been doing.

Almost all of us is susceptible to the ideas of the secular world. We will not be perfect and we’re not expected to be. We will make mistakes. Jesus came for sinners after all. But, we need to continually educate ourselves, pray always, and strive to do better. When we make a mistake, if our consciences are well formed we should honestly feel sorry, go to Confession, and try to not make the same mistake again.



Whoever it was that said this needs to understand that the Christian revelation is of a different nature than natural human reason. As 1 Cor 2:14 says, “Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged (discerned) spiritually.”

Just as you cannot have an accurate picture of who I am until I reveal myself to you in my words and deeds, neither can we know anything about God until He reveals Himself in word and deed. Until “revelation” in both instances, we’re left in a guessing game. This is what Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and many other religions of the world are - guesses at who God is.

The Christian faith in the Catholic Church, on the other hand, is God’s revelation to man of divine truth - who He is and who we, as His creation, are called to be. No more guesses. This the reason why Catholic dogma is an all-or-nothing matter. It is revealed by God. One either believes this or they don’t. It’s obviously not as if God tells the truth most of the time, but misrepresents at other stages. If someone believes this, they can call themselves Catholic. If they don’t, they cannot.

Peace be with you,



The Catholic Church is a hospital for sinners.


Correct. Would you go to a hospital if you were healthy? No, you go if you are sick.

Christ came not to the righteous, but to the sinners. I think I read that somewhere…


wow talk about opening a can of worms… I will direct you to Revelation 3:14-22. we must not become what these verses talk about. It is better for you to be cold because you could always be saved!! but if your lukewarm&complacent you might have a problem?? Bro. Rich what do you think?


You talk about needing a hospital ,thats a pretty good way to put it. Jesus came to heal the sick [sinners] he is the great physician.since we are all sinners [myself more so than others]we must come to Jesus for healing. We must not make the mistake Judas made thinking his sin could not be forgiven,but we should be likeSt.Peter who wept bitterly and accepted Gods gift of forgiveness and try to do better next 2nd Corinthians 9:15


To quote the Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

“Jesus did not say, 'If I be lifted up I will draw some’.” Jesus said, 'If I be lifted up I will draw all, all, all, all, all. Black, white, yellow, rich, poor, clever, not so clever, beautiful, not so beautiful. It’s one of the most radical things. All, all, all, all, all, all, all, all. All belong. All, all are meant to be held in this incredible embrace that will not let us go. All."


I will give you a couple of words to throw into your formula, “FREE WILL” and what happens??


It is important to note though that when Jesus says he will “draw all” he clearly means all can be saved if they repent in his name. He won’t draw all meaning including those who die in mortal sin, and including those who not only commit mortal sin but accept that it is the correct thing to do. He will forgive all who repent, the sacrament of reconciliation is a true gift.


Firstly, the last sentence of this paragraph is starkly at odds with Catholic teaching. You can honour God everywhere, but the only fitting worship we can give Him is offering up the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, which we are to do every week. Once you grasp that, all distinctions disappear (man/woman, Jew/Greek, slave/free, Catholic/Protestant, atheist/theist, Buddhist/Christian), because you will be Catholic.


All Catholics fall short of the glory of God and are saved by His grace. All Catholics sin and go against the teachings of the Church, even the Pope. The examples you gave of birth control and missing mass do not “cancel out” one’s membership of the Catholic Church. What it does mean is that the individual has committed mortal sin, and that this mortal sin must be confessed in the sacrament of reconciliation to be forgiven. I’m not sure who told you that the examples you gave, which are mortal sins, takes away one’s membership of the Catholic Church. If that were the case, the sacrament of reconciliation would be pointless, as would Christ’s crucifixion, which gave us the grace of that sacrament.


Thanks for your replies, everyone.

I responded to the person who made this statement, and I think explained it in a way that made sense to her. She said she thought she may have heard the statement by the Pope out of context to begin with.

So it’s all good! :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit