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An awkward position (Catholicism), please help.

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To what degree can one disagree with some of the teachings of the Catholic church and still be considered Catholic, if at all?

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Well, I'm not technically Roman Catholic (I'm Orthodox, which is technically Catholic, but in the East), but I do know some key beliefs the Catholics have. Orthodox beliefs are roughly the same as Roman Catholic ones, with a few differences.

One is, of course, the belief that Jesus is God, that he died for our sins, and that he is the bridge that connects all humans to God. Catholics believe that he was, and is, God Himself.

Catholics also believe in the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). They are all God, not separate gods or other forces. The Son proceeds from the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from Him. It's all connected and all one God.

Another Catholic belief is the importance of the Virgin Mary (in Eastern Orthodoxy, she is called the Theotokos, or "Mother of God"). Catholics believe that Mary was a very pure, immaculate girl who was chosen to bear Christ. She being the vessel and bearer of God makes her extremely important. In fact, she is believed to be "above the angels", and above even the highest ranks of angels: "More honorable than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim." Thus, though she is not worshipped as God is, she is revered and honored more than any saint or angel. Catholics do not pray to her, but ask for her to pray to God for us and help us.

Catholics put heavy emphasis on angels. According to them, there are 9 ranks of angels, in this order: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Principalities, Powers, Archangels, and Angels. They differ a little in Eastern Orthodoxy, so I'm not sure what the Roman Catholics believe their roles to be. Also, it is the Catholic belief that there is an angel for every planet, star, country, state, town, city, church, house, element, object, river, ocean, person, and so on. There are innumerable angels, and they are always around us. We are born with a guardian angel. Also, Catholics believe in demons, and that the demons are fallen angels who followed Lucifer when he fell from Heaven. St. Michael, the Archangel, threw Lucifer out of Heaven along with 1/3 of all the angels of heaven who sided with him, and those angels became demons. Therefore, Catholics believe in demonic possession or oppression (being under the influence of a demon, but not possessed by it).

Catholics also have iconography, but not nearly to the extent that Orthodox Christians do. In Roman Catholicism, icons are holy images of saints, Christ, the Virgin Mary, archangels, and other biblical figures. They are mostly just used for decoration, to remind themselves of God.

(MOST) Catholics believe in the infallibility of the Pope. The Pope is given the highest position of honor, and is the leader of the Roman Catholics. Many Catholics believe him to be nearly as important as Christ himself. (In Orthodoxy, we don't believe in the infallibility of any human being, even the Pope. Even though he isn't the leader of our church, we still consider him very important, though not infallible.)

Catholics also believe in the soul (of course). Unlike Protestants, who believe each soul is unique and created especially for one person, Catholics believe that the soul is inherited from our parents. Our souls are very connected, then, which is why we are all in the same spiritual condition of imperfection. This is also linked to the Catholic belief of "Original Sin", which is the belief that, since Adam and Eve sinned first, it has put a stain on our own souls and makes us born sinful right at the get-go. This is why Baptism is so important, because it washes away our original sin. The Orthodox Christians have a similar belief, I think.

Roman Catholics also have saints. In Roman Catholic tradition, a saint is someone who devoted their entire life to God, the church, and other Christians. They were usually nuns or monks, wrote prayers or translated the Bible to other languages, and did charitable things like contribute money to the church or other causes. When the Church split around 1000 years ago (when the Roman Catholics separated from the Eastern Orthodox), suddenly Catholic saints were different from Orthodox ones. Orthodox saints were always people who devoted their entire lives to God, and were so immersed in spiritual life that they were sometimes able to miraculously heal people or perform other miracles. These people could have been nuns or monks, teenage girls, mothers, ex-prostitutes, old men, kings, beggars, or even kids. But the funny thing is, before the Church split, all the saints were the same, so some Orthodox saints are also Catholic saints. Like St. Catherine of Alexandria (my patron saint!) XD

All of the above are beliefs held by Roman Catholics and Orthodox alike (with some variations), so below are purely Roman Catholic beliefs. I'll describe them as best as I can (I've been to Catholic schools and had Catholic curriculums, so I think it should work out...)

Catholics believe in Purgatory, a "waiting place" that we go to when we die. Because we will only be judged once, when Christ comes again, we cannot be placed definitely in heaven or definitely in hell, because we are not judged yet. Therefore, we are placed in Purgatory, which can either be pleasant or unpleasant depending on whether we've led virtuous lives. We will stay in Purgatory until Christ's second coming, and then we will be judged and placed into either heaven or hell. Orthodox Christians don't believe in Purgatory, but we believe that if, after 40 days of our death, we still have a strong faith in God and resist all traps and temptations, we will remain in a heavenly place that is meant to be like a taste of what heaven will be like one day. So I guess it's similar to Purgatory, but it's complicated and takes forever to explain O_O

Again, Catholics believe in the infallibility of the Pope.

Catholics believe in a place called "Limbo", where all unbaptized children will end up when they die. Limbo is not heaven or hell, but an in-between place where they can never come out. An older Roman Catholic belief (that may or may not still be around) is that all unbaptized babies will go to hell. This used to be true for children also, until the concept of Limbo came around. Orthodox Christians don't believe in either of these things.

There's something about the "Sacred heart of Jesus"...I have no idea what it's about. You should find out O_O

Roman Catholics believe that the only way to get to heaven is through Baptism, and that anyone who is unbaptized will automatically go to hell.

I'm pretty sure that's it...I think. Like I said, I'm not Roman Catholic so I'm not sure if I covered everything.

I'd say, in response to your question, if you believe the basic ideas (the Holy Trinity, the importance of the Virgin Mary, and the concept of angels and souls), you're probably Catholic. I know lots of Catholics who don't believe in Limbo, unbaptized children going to hell, or the infallibility of the Pope. I'd say the Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary are the biggest ones.

But hey, if you ever want to know about Orthodoxy, I'm pretty knowledgeable about that! XD Hope I helped a little!

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Hey, I know you're trying to help, but there's a lot wrong with your post, and I'm going to try to correct it.

Another Catholic belief is the importance of the Virgin Mary (in Eastern Orthodoxy, she is called the Theotokos, or "Mother of God"). Catholics believe that Mary was a very pure, immaculate girl who was chosen to bear Christ. She being the vessel and bearer of God makes her extremely important. In fact, she is believed to be "above the angels", and above even the highest ranks of angels: "More honorable than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim." Thus, though she is not worshipped as God is, she is revered and honored more than any saint or angel. Catholics do not pray to her, but ask for her to pray to God for us and help us.

Just as a translation pure = ever virgin, meaning Mary never had sexual relations her how life and immaculate = sinless meaning she never succumb to sin even once.

Catholics put heavy emphasis on angels. According to them, there are 9 ranks of angels, in this order: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Principalities, Powers, Archangels, and Angels. They differ a little in Eastern Orthodoxy, so I'm not sure what the Roman Catholics believe their roles to be. Also, it is the Catholic belief that there is an angel for every planet, star, country, state, town, city, church, house, element, object, river, ocean, person, and so on. There are innumerable angels, and they are always around us. We are born with a guardian angel. Also, Catholics believe in demons, and that the demons are fallen angels who followed Lucifer when he fell from Heaven. St. Michael, the Archangel, threw Lucifer out of Heaven along with 1/3 of all the angels of heaven who sided with him, and those angels became demons. Therefore, Catholics believe in demonic possession or oppression (being under the influence of a demon, but not possessed by it).

Honestly, I'm not quite sure these are required Catholic doctrinal beliefs. Obviously Guardian Angels, demons, Satan and Spiritual warfare are all important to the Catholics lives, but I hadn't heard all the specifics you discussed and honestly, I don't think they're all required.

(MOST) Catholics believe in the infallibility of the Pope. The Pope is given the highest position of honor, and is the leader of the Roman Catholics. Many Catholics believe him to be nearly as important as Christ himself. (In Orthodoxy, we don't believe in the infallibility of any human being, even the Pope. Even though he isn't the leader of our church, we still consider him very important, though not infallible.)

All Catholics should believe in the Primacy and infallibility of the Pope. Also, we don't believe in the infallibility of the human being, we believe in the infallibility of the position. Both the Pope and the Magnesium of the Church hold this special condition.

Catholics also believe in the soul (of course). Unlike Protestants, who believe each soul is unique and created especially for one person, Catholics believe that the soul is inherited from our parents. Our souls are very connected, then, which is why we are all in the same spiritual condition of imperfection. This is also linked to the Catholic belief of "Original Sin", which is the belief that, since Adam and Eve sinned first, it has put a stain on our own souls and makes us born sinful right at the get-go. This is why Baptism is so important, because it washes away our original sin. The Orthodox Christians have a similar belief, I think.

Okay, I have no idea where you get the idea that souls are inherited from our parents. I have literally never heard that and I went on a month long research on what the soul was according to Catholic doctrine a few years ago. Unless you have some sort of article to back that up, I have a hard time beleving it. Although your treatment of Original Sin leaves a little to be desired, it's not bad.

Roman Catholics also have saints. In Roman Catholic tradition, a saint is someone who devoted their entire life to God, the church, and other Christians. They were usually nuns or monks, wrote prayers or translated the Bible to other languages, and did charitable things like contribute money to the church or other causes. When the Church split around 1000 years ago (when the Roman Catholics separated from the Eastern Orthodox), suddenly Catholic saints were different from Orthodox ones. Orthodox saints were always people who devoted their entire lives to God, and were so immersed in spiritual life that they were sometimes able to miraculously heal people or perform other miracles. These people could have been nuns or monks, teenage girls, mothers, ex-prostitutes, old men, kings, beggars, or even kids. But the funny thing is, before the Church split, all the saints were the same, so some Orthodox saints are also Catholic saints. Like St. Catherine of Alexandria (my patron saint!) XD

1) I would be careful to capitalize the "s" at the beginning of Saints because Catholics actually make the distinction between a saint (who is a believer in Christ) and a Saint (a person the Church can definitively say is with God). 2) Catholic saints do not have to be nuns or monks. They can be anyone who demonstrated "heroic virtue" during their lives or martyrs. This means that they're anyone who devoted their lives completely to God and finished the Sanctification process here on earth. Also, while they don't need miracles while they are living, they do need at least 2 after death to become a Saint.

Catholics believe in Purgatory, a "waiting place" that we go to when we die. Because we will only be judged once, when Christ comes again, we cannot be placed definitely in heaven or definitely in hell, because we are not judged yet. Therefore, we are placed in Purgatory, which can either be pleasant or unpleasant depending on whether we've led virtuous lives. We will stay in Purgatory until Christ's second coming, and then we will be judged and placed into either heaven or hell. Orthodox Christians don't believe in Purgatory, but we believe that if, after 40 days of our death, we still have a strong faith in God and resist all traps and temptations, we will remain in a heavenly place that is meant to be like a taste of what heaven will be like one day. So I guess it's similar to Purgatory, but it's complicated and takes forever to explain O_O

This is a completely incorrect understanding of Purgatory. Purgatory is a place where souls who still have the stain of sin on them but have been judged righteous and ready for heaven go. It is not a pleasant place. It is a place where you can see but not experience Oneness with God. You have already been judged. There is not set amount of time one is in Purgatory (aka has nothing to do with Christ's second coming). It is all about finishing the Sanctification process that began here on earth so one can be completely sinless when they enter God's presence.

Catholics believe in a place called "Limbo", where all unbaptized children will end up when they die. Limbo is not heaven or hell, but an in-between place where they can never come out. An older Roman Catholic belief (that may or may not still be around) is that all unbaptized babies will go to hell. This used to be true for children also, until the concept of Limbo came around. Orthodox Christians don't believe in either of these things.

This is actually untrue. Limbo for infants is not a declared Catholic Doctrine. The official teaching of the Church is that we don't know what hapens to unborn/unbaptized babies. Limbo is not a necessary belief.

There's something about the "Sacred heart of Jesus"...I have no idea what it's about. You should find out O_O

The Sacred Hear of Jesus is just a devotion. One specifically focused on God's Mercy. It was introduced into spiritual life with St. Faustina. It is not doctrine and you only have to use it if it helps your spiritual life.

Roman Catholics believe that the only way to get to heaven is through Baptism, and that anyone who is unbaptized will automatically go to hell.

This is untrue. Catholics not only accept the anonymous Christian idea (you can go to heaven if you have never had the opportunity to hear about Christ but lived a just life), but they also accept things besides a water baptism for the cleansing of original sin. For example, we believe in baptism by fire and baptism by desire. Baptism by fire is when you are martyred without being baptized Baptism by desire is when you wish to be baptized, but for some reason you die before it is possible. The only time not being baptized is a problem is if you willfully reject it.

Also, I want to clear something up here. The Catholic Church officially claims that she does not know who is in heaven and who is in hell. While we have very sweeping statements about what is good and what is bad for the soul and what the best path towards unity with God is, we do not have a monopoly on salvation. We recognize that God is the author of salvation and He is the one who damns and saves people. The final judgement is up to Him and Him alone, so please stop saying that we believe anyone will automatically go to hell because Catholics don't believe that.

And to get back to the OT's question. Honestly, there is no set of beliefs that means you can call yourself Catholic or not call yourself Catholic. Excommunication doesn't happen very often anymore. People don't get kicked out of the Church. There are plenty of people who consider themselves Catholic that disagree with the Church on many things. Really, it's up to yourself to decide whether you are Catholic or not and how much you would like to keep within what the Church considers doctrine.

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I think the question is do u want to follow religion? Christ never established religion, He just called us to follow Him. Churches are formed as a basis for christians to meet to agree under a certain idea. Matthew 18:19 says, "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven." And hence that is why we gather under churches that have similar ideas to our interpretations of the Bible.

So my advice if you disagree with ideas of a certain church, you seek understanding, pray, and if you're still not satisfied, find one that your soul agrees with.

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I think the question is do u want to follow religion? Christ never established religion, He just called us to follow Him. Churches are formed as a basis for christians to meet to agree under a certain idea. Matthew 18:19 says, "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven." And hence that is why we gather under churches that have similar ideas to our interpretations of the Bible.

So my advice if you disagree with ideas of a certain church, you seek understanding, pray, and if you're still not satisfied, find one that your soul agrees with.

A common misconception in Christianity.

James 1:26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Blessings!

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A lot of Catholics today don't much agree with all Catholic teachings, but continue to consider themselves as Catholic. I think it all depends on you. I mean, you can call yourself Catholic all you want, but there will be a line drawn between disagreeing with a few minor things and there being no point in considering yourself to be Catholic anymore. I guess I really have to agree with Zabby on this one... Really, it's up to yourself to decide whether you are Catholic or not and how much you would like to keep within what the Church considers doctrine.

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Small correction here IX_Cx, the Son is begotten from the Father and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. Each pertains to the divine essence of the Divine Persons. The Roman Catholic church states that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. A break with historic theology.

Orthodoxy does not believe that we inherit the original sin from Adam and Eve, rather, that we inherit the tendency to sin.

Overall a good coverage.

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This is untrue. Catholics not only accept the anonymous Christian idea (you can go to heaven if you have never had the opportunity to hear about Christ but lived a just life), but they also accept things besides a water baptism for the cleansing of original sin. For example, we believe in baptism by fire and baptism by desire. Baptism by fire is when you are martyred without being baptized Baptism by desire is when you wish to be baptized, but for some reason you die before it is possible. The only time not being baptized is a problem is if you willfully reject it.

Also, I want to clear something up here. The Catholic Church officially claims that she does not know who is in heaven and who is in hell. While we have very sweeping statements about what is good and what is bad for the soul and what the best path towards unity with God is, we do not have a monopoly on salvation. We recognize that God is the author of salvation and He is the one who damns and saves people. The final judgement is up to Him and Him alone, so please stop saying that we believe anyone will automatically go to hell because Catholics don't believe that.

People need to remember that post-Vatican II Roman Catholic theology is inclusivist rather than exclusivist. It is not a new age inclusivism that all religions are paths to the same mountaintop. From a philosophical perspective that appears nonsense. Yet, it is an inclusivism that recognizes the good outside of itself as goodness. In other words, in protestant evangelical circles there is a tendency to view the half-truths in other religious faiths as deceptions, snares which lead us astray from the true path. Roman Catholicism understands other religious faiths as shadows of the truth faith in Christ. They are not snares or deceptions, because following the truth half-way is a heck of a lot better than living your whole life in darkness.
Orthodoxy does not believe that we inherit the original sin from Adam and Eve, rather, that we inherit the tendency to sin.
Please show me where the Roman Catholic Church holds the doctrine that we inherit guilt from Adam. There is no difference between the Roman idea of original sin and the Eastern idea of ancestral sin so far as I can tell. Merely because St. Augustine believe that original sin guilts all of us, does not mean that survived as an inherent part of Roman Catholic theology.

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Thanks everyone =)

I'm still interested in Catholicism, but the idea of being pressured to believe in things and make sacrifices I'm uncomfortable with is what keeps me away. Being Catholic, in the way most people understand it, would require a complete restructuring of my life in all ways. It's one thing to gradually change my life (hopefully, for the better), but I'm unwilling to turn my whole life around to make commitments I'm unsure of.

I'm still intrigued, though, so I hope I can explore this on my own terms. I'll may never be a full-fledged Catholic, but I might incorporate components of it.

I've been reading "Woman, Sex, and the Church" edited by Erika Bachiochi. It's very good.

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Being Catholic, in the way most people understand it, would require a complete restructuring of my life in all ways.

I'm confused as to what this means. Why would you have to completely restructure your life?

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I'm confused as to what this means. Why would you have to completely restructure your life?

I'd need to abruptly quit my job, which would mean reassessing my career path for my 20's, as well as being broke and probably unhappy in another temporary job (as opposed to living somewhat comfortably, and largely satisfied with my job and direction).

My boyfriend and I would probably break up. I would have a different living situation and lifestyle. I would no longer be self-employed. I would understand my life and my body in a different context. I'd have to postpone my sexuality.

I'd probably loose a few friends. For a few reasons, I'd probably focus on marriage and children sooner than later.

That is, if I followed in all or most of the churches teachings. I can't commit to that kind of restructuring unless I felt strongly enough about it. Some of these aren't the sort of choices I can just "try out" without major consequences.

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Hmm... So what do you like‚Äč about the Catholic Church?

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That's a question I'm still trying to find the answers to. A lot of it is...feelings that are hard to pin point right now.

I'm drawn to the Church's beauty and find it spiritually inspiring. The beauty, art, and ritual resonate with me unlike other denominations. It sits well with me. From a ritualistic point of view, it would be a natural transition. I would like to invoke that in my life more. I went to a Catholic sanctuary of sorts recently and just felt at HOME. When I think about embracing it, it feels comforting and perhaps natural. I crave the mysticism. I'm drawn to the "bells and whistles" as well as some philosophical underpinnings (either my own or the Church's), which are rooted in a desire for a direct/mystical experience.

Like other spiritual seekers, I crave deeper meaning in my life. I feel...ambivalent about many components of the Bible but that's perhaps due to my shallow understanding of it, or disagreement with other peoples interpretations.

I've really enjoyed some of the introductory writings on the subject. Such as Fr. Robert Barrons books, and the book edited by Erika Bachiochi that I previously mentioned. They've said some things that have really resonated with me.

I see some truth in there, but I have a tendency to see truth as relative. So some things are a nice thought, but nothing I'm certain about. I enjoy what they've said about love and relationships, though. Love is very important to me, something I strive to elevate in my life. To me, all experiences, feelings, relationships, center around love. Love and Truth and perhaps God go hand in hand.

I really enjoyed Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith, both in what Fr. Barron had to say about the Church, about the stories and teachings of the Bible, and other related philosophies. I also really enjoy his videos.

I find an intellectual stimulation and satisfaction as I expose myself to these topics. Even if I don't readily agree with everything I read, I really appreciate that the spirituality is grounded in a philosophy more expansive then I previously realized. It challenges me in a good way. Very refreshing. Studying the history, culture, art, and philosophy of the Church would provide me with more than a lifetime of learning and connection to a tradition spanning many subjects. I want to read Eckhart, Augustine, and others.

I'm beginning to appreciate how some of the teachings stand out amidst the more materialistic and individualistic teachings of our culture. Not that they are all bad, but I see a deterioration of relationships and community with present nihilistic attitudes.

I appreciate the reverence the faith has towards woman, their fertility, and the roles of parents and families. It's somewhat emotional on my part; I'm tired of being told by society that my fertility is not only disposable, but unwanted. At least, that is the prevailing attitude amongst those I know. I like the idea of celebrating the body in a more meaningful sense.

Through exposing myself to some of these concepts I can get a vague sense of what having a relationship with Jesus would feel like, or what salvation might feel like, but I don't know how to really communicate with Him. Somehow, even the idea of communing with Saints (if that's done?) seems easier than with Jesus. Maybe I just feel intimidated.

The idea of sin is sort of foreign to me. Still trying to wrap my head around that. I'm more interested in fostering love and learning how to facilitate that; I don't want to feel guilty for being a human.

Ultimately I'm looking more for a spiritual experience and framework to experience the world, rather than concrete beliefs concerning the afterlife, etc. I'm more interested in a personal encounter with God, and experiencing God in my life, rather than attempting to make absolute claims about "objective" reality, at least for some subjects.

I don't necessarily have a very good grasp on these topics right now, so forgive me if I've said anything out of context. I'm not sure that these reasons are good ones. I've studied and encountered other religions previously, but feel bored of them, for one reason or another.

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