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Do I have to believe everything the Catholic church believes to be Catholic?

post #1 of 92
Thread Starter 
After spending 8 years at our local Waldorf school, our children - ages 8 and 12 - will be going to a Catholic school next week. We are going to start attending their school's parish.

I was raised Catholic, but am not a practicing Catholic. I am thinking of renewing my faith as one.

The question is - can I be Catholic if I believe that same sex marriage should be legal and in birth control? The Catholic church doesn't believe in either, right?? I can't image I have to believe everything the Catholic church believes, but maybe I'm wrong.

Please enlighten me!

Thank you...
post #2 of 92
I don't really understand the desire to belong to a group whose beliefs you disagree with. Those are big issues in the Catholic church.
post #3 of 92
I think that is something you should dicuss with your priest.

but I would think to actually belong, rather than just show up and sign up, you woul dhave to accept the churches athourity and teachings in these matters.
post #4 of 92
I think you'll get as many answers as there are Catholics. There are many Catholics who consider themselves Catholic but don't adhere to everything the church authority proclaims. I personally believe that one can be Catholic, follow the teachings of Jesus, be a part of the apostolic tradition and yet not agree with everything that the Pope and Vatican proclaim. But that's me, that's not your priest or your own conscience.

IMHO, the Catholic church is the original Christian church, founded by Jesus and continued by Peter and the other apostles. Things have crept in over the centuries. The mass was essentially the same for hundreds of years until Vatican II. If we can have the changes of Vatican II, then what other changes could happen in the future? Remember that the heretics of yore often become prophets as the centuries pass.

anway, good luck to you!
post #5 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post
I don't really understand the desire to belong to a group whose beliefs you disagree with. Those are big issues in the Catholic church.
I think there are a number of reasons to want to belong to the Catholic faith, even if you don't agree with every teaching, and I also believe that there are degrees of disbelief.

People may want to join the Catholic faith because of the liturgy, the communion, the community, the social justice, or simply because God is calling them there. It may be that while they are not 100% in step with the Catholic Church, they are closer to them than other Churches.

I also would think that very few people are in 100% agreement with the Church. The more conservative members may support the death penalty, or the war in Iraq, although it was declared unjust by the Church. More liberal members may disagree on issues like the ones mentioned in this thread. There is also a lot of disagreement on economic systems, how to respond to the poor, things like Liberation Theology, whether or not lay people can give communion, and the reforms brought in by Vatican II.

On the issue of gay marriage, I liken it to divorce. I don't know any Catholics who are lobbying to make divorce illegal even though it is not sufficient for Catholics. I think it would be reasonable to say that you support marriage for gay couples, but not think that it should be blessed or recognized by the Catholic Church.
post #6 of 92
I grew up Catholic....the majority of the Catholics I knew didnt agree with many of the "man-made" laws.
post #7 of 92
Well, this is definitely an issue to take up with a well-formed priest, and not to rely on the opinions of women on a forum. It is a very serious issue and you want to get the right answer, not just a majority, or one that sounds good to you.

I will point out that there is a difference between not believing -- and not wanting to believe, and not believing currently -- but wanting to form your beliefs to the Church because you recognize Her authority. The latter may leave you unbelieving your entire life, but it is possible to be in a state of grace & receive Communion. The former, probably not.

Either way this should absolutely be discussed with a Priest - I'm sure he'd be happy to talk to you about it so you shouldn't feel shy. Call the rectory and schedule an appointment.
post #8 of 92
There are some minor choices my church has made that I do not agree with (certain people who were called martyrs and sainted and think it is kinda a stretch) but I still accept their athourity and follow their ruling without whining or ranting about it or judging others who are more excited about the descision. DOes that make sense.
post #9 of 92
I posted a question similar to this a few weeks ago. My own opinion, (and FYI I will not respond to those who wish to hijack this thread to tell me I am wrong, it is only MY opinion based on my understanding, discussions with priests, prayer and meditation, and respectful listening for God's response) is that change in the church comes from within the church. I do not actively seek to throw out all the old rules & regulations ...but I am a Catholic and I believe the same as the OP re: same sex marriage (what's marriage anyway...a love-contract by any other name is still what it is) and a few other minor details in the church rub my conscience the wrong way.

I found this (and posted it in the previous thread)

From the Vatican II documents:

...This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. (5) For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her...

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_c...verbum_en.html

It seems to me like there is space to manoeuver (sp?) but change requires "contemplation and study", which of course, takes time. My 2-cents.
post #10 of 92
For me, no. That is why I am no longer Catholic.

Good luck on your journey.
post #11 of 92
It's one thing to say you don't get a doctrine, or to disagree about things that are left open to the individual. But it is also important to remember that theology is a systematic endeavor - rulings like the ones on birth control come from other beliefs and principles. So if you reject their restrictions on who can marry, it implies you are also rejecting at least elements of their theology of marriage, possibly their understanding of the sacraments, and their theology of sexuality or gender. All of those things suggest you may be rejecting their understanding of scripture and tradition, two of the most basic elements of Catholicism. I'm sure you can see that disagreeing at that level would have real problems if you wanted to be a Catholic. How could you be married in the Church, for example, if you have a real disagreement with her understanding of marriage? Get up and say the words without believing them? Not intend to do what the priest expects you to? those things would clearly be dishonest, and not a good way to conduct one's religious life.

So, do you feel you have a really strong grasp of those doctrines that you disagree with - why the Church has ruled the way she has? Is the actual point in which you differ with the Church only fairly minor, or does it go back to some of their more basic understandings?

The other element is obedience. In Catholicism, there is an element of obedience that you willingly enter into. Obedience to the Bishop, to the Pope, to Tradition, to the Church. Now, there are a few occasions when it can be appropriate to break obedience, just like with civil authority. But for the most part, you are essentially saying that you will be bound by the limits the Church puts on her followers. So although you may never really understand the whole Theology of the Body and birth control restrictions, you will agree to follow them as long as they exist.

Our culture doesn't tend to value obedience. But I think it's interesting to note that all religions see an important place for real obedience, and not just to abstract principles but to actual institutions or individuals, in spiritual formation.

However, many people do struggle with doctrines for one reason or another and yet stay as member, even obedient members of the Church. There is nothing wrong with acting as a member but struggling. On the other hand, to claim membership, disagree on doctrine, not try to come to an understanding, and to disobey? And then perhaps partake of the sacraments? What is the point? It seems more destructive of spirituality than anything else.
post #12 of 92
Short answer: Yes.

Bluegoat: Right on!

Joyfulheart: Out of curiousity, why do you think you may want to become an active Catholic again? What is it about the Catholic Church that attracts you, as opposed to other churchs that may believe things that are more in line with your thinking?
post #13 of 92
I have questioned my mom many times on why she remains Catholic when she disagrees with so much of their doctrine --- gay marriage, annullments, abortion and more. She doesnt really know, she just feels she is Catholic.

The Church I grew up in and both my Catholic grade and highschools, at least half (probably the mjority) of the people were pro-choice. Perhaps it was because we lived in a very open liberal area? I dont know.
post #14 of 92
OP Your question made me smile because the answer that came to mind was: Sure, everywhere but in the Spirituality forum of Mothering.

The Church is broad and has been a force for tremendous good and caring in the world. We can't deny the times we have failed, both historically and in contemporary times, but those failure cannot and should not define Her.

I love the Irish Jesuits site sacredspace.ie

You might find it refreshing to spend some time there thinking about what you can offer the Church and what She can offer you.

Church law and teachings have carried the institution through many different times. They change in a glacial way when they change at all.

Focus on the beautiful parts that you agree with and see where the Spirit leads you.
post #15 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chfriend View Post
Focus on the beautiful parts that you agree with and see where the Spirit leads you.
That, I will do!



Thank you for all of your thoughtful responses. You have given me much to think about.
post #16 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmagick View Post
I have questioned my mom many times on why she remains Catholic when she disagrees with so much of their doctrine --- gay marriage, annullments, abortion and more. She doesnt really know, she just feels she is Catholic.

The Church I grew up in and both my Catholic grade and highschools, at least half (probably the mjority) of the people were pro-choice. Perhaps it was because we lived in a very open liberal area? I dont know.
I think in many cases people feel a certain identity with or comfort from the Church they grew up in.

However, Christianity has never been a religion that cares what your cultural background is in that sense. It is what is called a creedal religion - it actually cares about what you believe. It isn't true of all religions, or institutions, or categories. I'm Canadian because I was born here and am a citizen. I couldn't change that if I wanted to.

A Christian is defined as someone who holds certain beliefs. If you were raised in a Christian church, but no longer hold to their essential beliefs, you can simply say you were raised a Christian, and it will have some kind of meaning to you (good, bad or neutral) but you can't say you are a Christian. So it's more like being a Communist, or an Aristotelian - calling yourself one of those things without relation to actual belief is just odd.
post #17 of 92
I couldn't do it, but many people do. I think this board tends to be dominated by people who are far more conservative and traditionalist than your average Catholic.

I come from a very huge and very Catholic family and live in a very Catholic part of the country. I don't know a single Catholic that doesn't use standard birth control (not "NFP"). In fact, Catholics as a whole use standard birth control at just about the same statistical rate as non-Catholics.

I know plenty of Catholics who've conceived via IVF or donor egg. I know plenty of pro-choice Catholics. I know many divorced and remarried Catholics, sans annulment. Just about every Catholic I know thinks the Vatican is dead wrong on the subject of women's ordination and celibacy.

Personally, I can't imagine voluntarily joining an organization whose teachings and practices I vehemently disagree with, but lots of people do.
post #18 of 92
I couldn't do it either - be a part of a religion that had main tenants with which I disagreed. But, I know many people who make it work by focusing on what they do agree with.

I went to Catholic school as well, and was raised Catholic. We had to take a religion class every year at both my grade school and my high school. I always tell my mom that those religion classes are the number one thing that contributed to my becoming an atheist. This is nothing against Catholicism, by the way ... it's just my school's religion classes that were horrendous.

My mom on the other hand still considers herself a Catholic, goes to Church, goes to confession. But, she used birth control, thinks same sex marriage is fine, and thinks the Catholic Church should allow women to be priests, cardinals, etc.
post #19 of 92
Sailor: I went to Catholic school and catechism classes. You are right, they were AWFUL. Boring as heck.... It's too bad really, because many people end up being tunrned off to the Catholic faith because of classes like those.
post #20 of 92
We Catholics have such issues! Let me preface my answer with I am Catholic, practicing, involved and no way do I believe everything the Church asks us to believe. I've struggled for a looooong time with my *religion*. Not my faith though. I have faith in God, in Jesus and in all of the basic tenants of Christianity. I've hopped from church to church and while it's made my husband crazy (and seen things he really liked about other churches), I learned a LOT about Christianity and the bible and Jesus and God's hope for us (which I did not learn in all my years of Catholic schooling/attending church). Throughout my 21 years of school (including college and graduate), I spent only 3 of those in public school...so I have been raised in Catholic schools. If you want to look at one "problem" with Catholic schooling, one is there is not really uniformity. I personally liked this as a student and when I was teaching in a Catholic school b/c I didn't agree with so many of the things the church was trying to do and the things they didn't 'approve' of...however, it makes Catholics like us confused, angry and feeling lost b/c we're all learning different things and things that are just not life-changing views...so much of it is about the rituals rather than the meaning behind them. There is a great support group for progressive minded (as far as the church goes) Catholics which I am a part of. It's nationwide and is online as well as has small groups in some areas. CTA (Call to action) is the name of it. The short answer to your question is, of course you can be Catholic without believing in everything the pope does, however, this may leave you feeling frustrated. One thing I do is try to learn why the greater Church believes what they do...I don't buy it often...so so so much is man made and that's very frustrating, but at least you can try to understand the "whys" of the "rules". Personally, being Catholic is so much more to me than the rules. It's receiving communion, taking part in the liturgy and more than anything, it's just plain ingrained in me...that's why I don't think I could ever fully leave the church (I've tried and always ended up right back). You might want to take your time in finding a church home. Some priests (unfortunately these days, younger ones) are very conservative, close-minded and stuffy, but some are really cool guys, very openminded and open to your questions/concerns. Whatever you decide, good luck. The church has a hold on people for sure, and there are bad things about it, as there any other church, but more than that, so much good is done (peace and justice types of things for starters) by and from the people of the church. That's something I struggled to find elsewhere. Sorry to ramble...this is just so much more of a discussion that would be better to have in person! Good luck!
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