Why I Am NOT Leaving the Catholic Church

 

Five years ago, I became a Catholic. It was Easter Vigil. Beautiful music was sung, holy readings were pronounced and I found myself with four other candidates anxiously standing behind the altar. The moment had arrived. As Fr. Michael approached each of us, he leveled his warm and knowing gaze and swung the smoking thurible in our direction. The sweet smell of incense was potent and delicious. And as the onlooking congregation became obscured by the rising smoke, the beauty of what was happening dawned on me. After years of attending Mass and observing the priest or deacon wave the thurible toward the Holy Gospel or the altar, I found myself transfixed by this ritual. Smoky incense emits from the censer and lilts its way heavenward as a sweet, aromatic supplication – an offering, a gift – to the Lord above. But now, on Easter Vigil, as the thurible swung toward me (once-twice-three times) and I was surrounded by smoke, I finally understood. Tonight, I was the offering. It was one of the most extraordinary moments of my life.

But moments like that didn’t come easily. If you would have asked my wife just a few years before if she could ever conceive of my conversion to Catholicism, her answer would have been a resounding “no”. That’s because for years I approached the Catholic faith with biases and misunderstandings about nearly everything: the role of Mary and the Saints, the primacy of the Pope, the seeming aloofness of the Catholic hierarchy, the exclusivity of Holy Communion, the restriction that priests must be single, celibate men, the emphasis on Tradition, the pervasive sense of guilt outweighing redemption and the obvious priest sex abuse scandal. To speak to each of these misgivings would require a book-length piece (perhaps something for the future…), but I would ask that you read my blogs over the last year and a half which have attempted to speak to these particular issues, what I have come to understand about the Church and why I converted.

However, just because I entered the Church didn’t mean that the imperfections of the Body of Christ ceased to exist. Further sexual abuse has been uncovered, certain Archbishops embezzle or design lavish lifestyles for themselves and Cardinals debating extremely sensitive issues of great moral import resort to name-calling, back-biting unChristian behavior. Lawsuits have been filed. Books have been written. Polemics have been penned. Respected thinkers such as Rod Dreher left Catholicism several years ago while Mark Judge, Michael Coren walked away this year offering very public and honest testimonials (while thoughtful responses have been offered by many including fellow Catholic Patheos colleague Kathy Schiffer) . Negative momentum has been building for a long time. And surely there are many Catholics who are considering that they too should hang it up and walk away.

But not me.

Here is why I am NOT leaving the Catholic Church.

When British journalist and Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton composed his famous essay, Why I Am A Catholic, he began by simply saying,

“The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’  is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true. I could fill all my space with separate sentences each beginning with the words, ‘It is the only thing that…’”

He then goes on to list numerous brilliant reasons for his Catholicism. I completely sympathize with this. The entire reason I write this blog to begin with (from my first essay to my last) is to humbly and self-critically articulate how wrong I was. All the perceptions, insights and criticisms I had of the Catholic Faith before I truly encountered it were just plain wrong. Ironically, these blogs are a testimony to my own ignorance. And as C.S. Lewis remarked on conversion, “Every story of conversion is the story of a blessed defeat.” Each piece I write is one small brushstroke in the ever-unfinished portrait of my unfolding Catholic faith. For me, like Chesterton, there are ten thousand reasons amounting to one reason.

I am NOT leaving the Catholic Church because I believe that the Catholic Faith is true.

The edifice of Catholicism is Jesus Christ. Countless times, a good friend of mine has “flipped pages”. What he means when he says this is that he has read the Gospel of Mark. Again. And again. And again. Consider doing this just one time. Read the entire book of Mark, only 16 chapters, and ask yourself if you can name anyone in history other than Jesus of Nazareth who has uttered truths about man’s fallibility and dignity, sinfulness and redemption, struggles with fear and anxiety, dependence on faith and hope, grappling with suffering and loss, hunger for calling and purpose, search for origin and destiny and need for justice and mercy. See if you can name a wise man more clear-sighted than Jesus Christ who can teach with clarity, comfort with warmth, heal with miraculous touch, correct with authority and die with selflessness. Christ is the central event of History, the central figure of Faith, the central Truth of existence. This is Christocentrism. This is the Catholic Church.

The revelations of Christ’s life and teachings are embodied in the Gospels, anticipated by man’s walk with God in the Old Testament and reflected on by the Acts and Letters of the New Testament. This Scripture – this Bible – was inspired by the Holy Spirit and assembled by Tradition as defined by the Spirit-led Church Fathers. And the Tradition (that causes consternation for so many) in anticipating the assembly of the Bible and implementing its wisdom in its wake has been a holy jousting, collaborating, discussing, discerning process. Tradition has been an earnest and holy attempt to understand exactly what these teachings mean and how we are to faithfully live them out. Members of this jousting, collaborating group of shepherds have included the likes of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Bonaventure, St. Anselm and have further been contributed to by St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Hildegard of Bingen, to name a simple few.

The edifice of the Catholic Church is Christ – Christ who is revealed through Scripture, further explicated by Tradition and ever-approachable through prayer and worship.

To contemplate the Bible, to explore the Catechism, to read the works of the Church Fathers and Saints and to find further nourishment by minds like Chesterton, Newman, O’Connor, Belloc, Bernanos, Knox, Benedict XVI, de Lubac and Balthasar, (among hundreds and hundreds) is only to scratch the surface of the Truth of Catholicism. To lose yourself in prayer, worship, Confession, Communion or Adoration is to merely dip your toe into the ocean of God that the Church forever points you to.

This Bible, this Catechism, these witnesses and thinkers, these holy experiences – this Truth – this is why I am not leaving the Catholic Church.

But in hearing the news, in considering the hypocrisies or scandals, in witnessing the squabbles and pettiness, in reflecting on the unChrist-like behavior that can fester in members or structures of the Church, surely this is reason enough to leave the Church, isn’t it?

Is it?

Was Peter a sinner when Christ called him “The Rock” upon which the Church would be built? Was Paul blameless from his moment of conversion? Did the Apostles ever lose their way? Did Church Fathers fight with one another? Did Saints ever squabble? At its root, the Church has two criteria for membership: A belief in Jesus Christ and being a sinner in need of redemption. Put another way, the Church is comprised of hopeful misfits and that includes leaders as well as followers. If Christ had faith in his hopeful misfits, shouldn’t we? Other than Christ and his Church, to whom shall we go? Politicians? Social engineers? Celebrities and athletes? Novelists? Philosophers? Will they be devoid of fallibility? Will they offer a better form of redemption? Will they understand us better?

No.

British writer and Catholic Hilaire Belloc once quipped,

“The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine– but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.”

But he also said,

“The thing I have to say is this…The Catholic Church is the exponent of REALITY. It is true. Its doctrines in matters large and small are statements of what is.”

Chesterton observed,

“The great strength of Christian sanctity has always been simply this – that the worst enemies of the saints could not say of the saints anything worse than [the saints] said of themselves…Suppose the village atheist had a sudden and splendid impulse to rush into the village church and denounce everybody there as miserable offenders. He might break in at the exact moment when they were saying the same thing themselves.”

And southern Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor remarked,

“The church is founded on Peter who denied Christ three times and couldn’t walk on water by himself. You are expecting his successors to walk on the water. All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful…Human nature is so faulty that it can resist any amount of grace and most of the time it does. The Church does well to hold her own; you are asking that she show a profit. When she shows a profit, you have a saint.”

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI likened the Catholic Church to the moon,

“The moon’s light is not its own light but rather, the light of another. It is darkness and brightness at the same time. The moon itself is darkness, but it bestows brightness that comes from another heavenly body whose light it transmits.”

Before I became Catholic, I disdained the Church for many of the reasons that caused people to fall away from the Faith. But to paraphrase Chesterton, I thought I had tried the Catholic Church and found it wanting, when in fact I had found it difficult and left untried. Once I truly opened myself up – opened myself simply to being fair to the Church, to considering the infinite Truths it tenderly cared for in spite of and in the midst of the Church shepherds’ small or glaring imperfections, I realized that the Church is a Truth and a Body unlike any other.

Five years ago, I stood behind the altar at my local church. And as the incense rose all around me, I became Catholic. Why? Because a Perfect God with a Perfect Truth reached me – an imperfect me – through a loving, but imperfect Church. Was it a mistake? Was I duped? Is this all an illusion? Should I just hang it up and leave the Catholic Church?

No, no….thank you, but no.

I am not leaving the Catholic Church.

And I pray that others will do the same.

 

For more terrific pieces on “Why I Am Catholic”, please see:

Elizabeth Scalia
Monique Ocampo
Tom Zampino
Max Lindenman
Dr. Greg Popcak
Kate O’Hare
Denise Bossert
Kathy Schiffer
Marge Fenelon
Tom McDonald

And more to come!!!

 

 

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  • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

    I left and returned, only to cringe during Holy Communion whenever the priest pronounces ” …that we might merit eternal life” (Eucharistic Prayer #2).
    Shouldn’t that be “inherit” instead of “merit”?

    When is the Catholic Church going to stop equating works with grace, as per Romans 4:4-5, 11:6, etc.?
    Or is Paul being too Protestant for Catholicism?

    • Vince Contreras

      There is a sense in which our good works, done under God’s grace, do merit eternal life (our works apart from God’s grace merit us nothing). We are clearly told in the Scriptures that it is on the basis of our works (i.e. our obedience to God’s commands) that we will be judged. Here are just a few of many that could be cited:

      “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

      “For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.” (Romans 2:6-11)

      “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” (Romans 2:13)

      “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)

      “Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done” (Revelation 20:11-13)

      • Kathy Wikman

        I do wonder if the future of the Church rests with those of us who have come by way of Truth. Thank you for stating this so clearly. And of course, let us not forget the Eucharist.

      • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

        In the New Testament, we are judged — as in condemned — by our works, not saved by them.

        Romans 2:6 is from the Old Testament, Psalm 62:12. Apparently Paul is appealing to Roman Hebrew Christians.

        And in English, “working out” is not the same as working for your salvation.

        • Vince Contreras

          If you are condemned, you will not be saved. It works out to be the same thing. The normal state of the Christian is to be in a saving relationship with Jesus, but grievous sin breaks that relationship and, unless repented of leads to condemnation, that is, not being saved. The Scriptures are crystal clear on this point.

          In applying Psalm 62 to Romans 2:6– indeed in the context of this whole passage of Romans 2– St. Paul is referring to ALL men. That’s why he says ALL will be judged by what they have done. To understand this passage, you need to read it in the larger context.

          You are correct that “working out” your salvation is not the same as “working for” your salvation. Nobody is saved by working for their salvation. The Church doesn’t teach that and never has. But “working out” your salvation implies that you are doing something, not just lying there passively with “faith alone”. What it entails is obedience to the Lord’s commands, an unrepentant failure to do so resulting in our condemnation: as the Confeitor puts it, “For what we have done, and what we have failed to do.” The passages I cited (along with numerous others) make this abundantly clear.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            We are called to cooperate with God, yet if one is in a saving relationship with Jesus, how is God’s calling made irrevocable (Romans 11:29)?

          • AnneG

            The call is irrevocable, but you do not have to respond to it.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            I’m assuming that to respond is to “… cooperate with God”.

      • RPlavo .

        But when people hear “merit” so often in the revised translation, they are probably thinking “I gotta do more!”

    • Gail Finke

      It’s good to think deeply about things but I think you’re putting too much weight in the word “merit” in this one prayer — you need to look at it in the context of the entire prayer of the Mass, which really is one long prayer and which says over and over again that we are not worthy. In this part of the prayer, we are not praying that we do enough “works” to merit eternal life. We are praying that God will have mercy on us, and that His mercy (not our works) will allow us to merit eternal life. We pray this because we don’t and can’t merit it ourselves. And then we offer God His Son through the Eucharist, participating in His crucifixion, and that action (not ours) is the answer to our prayers that merits salvation for us. It’s all part of a whole, you can’t just take one word out. And this is corroborated by the other Eucharistic prayers — others don’t use the word “merit” at all. Prayer III says “so that we may obtain an inheritance with your elect,” for instance, and Prayer IV says “that we may enter into a heavenly inheritance” etc. All these prayers can be substituted for each other and so are praying for the same thing.

      • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

        But “inherit” and “merit” are not synonymous and cannot be substituted for one another, even in the context of prayer.

        To merit is to earn or deserve; to inherit is to receive or obtain, i.e., a gift, which describes God’s unmerited favor (grace) given to man.

        In English, to say that God’s mercy will allow us to merit or earn eternal life is at best confusing and at worst a contradiction to everything Paul said, and Paul wrote the vast majority of the New Testament.

      • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

        There is a convoluted explanation of “merit” in the Catholic Catechism under Part Three, Article 2: Grace and Justification.

        According to the Catechism, though there is no “strict right” to merit on man’s part (2007), moved by the Holy Spirit we can then merit for ourselves and others the graces required for sanctification and for the attainment of eternal life (2010)!

        See also 1477 (under X: Indulgences) concerning the Church’s treasury of spiritual goods from saints who have attained their own salvation?

        • AnneG

          If you offer your works, prayers, joys and sufferings to Christ and through Him, to the Father, He uses them.
          Colossians 1:24 we make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            If all my works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), where is the merit?

          • AnneG

            The merit comes from Jesus’ Passion, Death on the Cross, resurrection and ascension. Filthy rags is what you get when the work comes from your ego or personal efforts. Sometimes it is philanthropy, but it is in offering through Jesus. It is all about the relationship which, eventually, will lead us to heaven.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            In other words, nothing meritorious comes from me, and should Jesus impute his merit to me, it’s a gift, not wages.

          • AnneG

            We don’t believe in total depravity in Catholic teaching. That’s what you get when you let a lawyer write your doctrine.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            The Catholic church has canon lawyers.

          • AnneG

            They interpret canon law, unlike John Calvin and he doctrine of total depravity.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            They interpret canon law as did the ancient Jewish “canon” lawyers, the scribes and Pharisees.
            And Jesus had nothing good to say about them either.

    • diotrephes

      We do not merit eternal life by our own actions, as no finite good could ever yield or be worthy of an infinite reward. We do merit eternal life, however, by our humanity, and this through the word made flesh, Jesus Christ. As Christ became man, he raised the fallen flesh to the level of the divine, thereby bridging the gap between the finite and the infinite. What is meritorious about us, is Christ, as Christ is both man and God. This merit can, however, can lost in sin, refusal to repent and rejection of the son of God. In the statement “that we might merit eternal life”, the issue is that we have not refused but embraced Christ and therefore may merit–through him–the eternal reward.

      • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

        I can’t see how our fallen humanity can merit anything save condemnation.
        And no one can earn salvation, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

        • diotrephes

          Consider this:

          Humanity = R
          Individuals = John, Luke, Michelle

          As individuals, we each are human and we might say have a “share” of humanity, so that we have:

          John(R)
          Luke(R)
          Michelle(R), etc.

          But Christ is also a man, so Christ has a share of humanity:

          Christ(R)

          If humanity — the R — is itself condemned, then Christ is condemned. But this is obviously false.

          So whatever share of humanity that Christ does have, this share must be saved — through Christ.

          But humanity is just humanity. So whoever else has a share of humanity, through Christ, is likewise saved.

          The “merit” arises in Christ, through Christ, for he is the God become man. Christ “merits” salvation. Through him, humanity as such is saved, is raised up to God and loses it’s fallen nature — not by us (as Ephesians 7-8 suggests) but through the gift of God — which in a way, is Christ.

          These are just scattered thoughts, but the main point is that merit does not mean that John, Luke and Michelle merit salvation by their own acts or even their faith. Rather, merit is achieved through Christ and in a way, we “inherit” the “merit” of salvation.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            As our humanity is fallen, we are condemned in Adam, but Jesus was conceived without sin, i.e., the Virgin Birth.

          • diotrephes

            So then any human born without sin is not condemned which in turn implies that humanity as such is not condemned but only those humans born WITH original sin.

            Building upon the above, we might use R* to signify humans born with original sin.

            So then:

            John(R*), Luke(R*), Michelle(R*), Christ(R)

            Through abiding in Christ, the stain of original sin (*) is either removed or…we might say at least mediated…and the rest of humanity is brought back to God.

            In any case, the merit remains with Christ.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, but if you think he is “any human,” then you and your equations are on the wrong forum.

          • diotrephes

            No sir, I think you are on the wrong forum since confrontation with reason drives you into unreason.
            In any case, I have nothing more to say to you.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            Beginning with Pope Innocent III’s crusade against the Albigensians in 1209, Catholicism has never embraced your Gnosticism.

            And neither do I.

          • Laurence Charles Ringo

            Mr.Decaro is right to challenge YOUR version of”reason”,sir! Really,could you be more arrogant? You don’t even pretend to back up your bizarre”arguments”with Holy Writ!! Please,give us a break!

          • diotrephes

            No, reason is the issue as the above statements simply make use of the basic principles of logic, which some here appear to have neglected at some level. I truly mean this. The use of “any” (in my above statements and in Mr. DeCaro’s pointing this out) implies the universal quantifier. The above discussion – which I thought friendly (my mistake) – was only making use of the logic of the universal and the individual instance. If Christ is human (and by “any” is meant, e.g., “Any/Every/All human beings are mortal” ), then we encounter something of an issue in attributing humanity to Christ if we also say that humanity is condemned. For then as human, Christ must be condemned. (E.g, All humans are condemned; Christ is human; therefore Christ is condemned). This is basic logic people, not hermeneutics. The remaining additions make use of predicate logic. Granted my approach is perhaps more philosophical in nature whereas the complete answer likely warrants a discussion of scripture, but the logic still applies. So it is indeed reason in this case which appear “gnostic” to Mr. DeCaro, and in your own words Mr. Ringo – bizarre. I would say, pay a bit more attention to what is being said and appeal less to diatribes in responding.

          • AnneG

            Hebrews 4:15For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.

          • Laurence Charles Ringo

            Thank you,AnneG…Our Saviour”did no sin,knew no sin,and in Him was no sin”.If diotrephes thinks his convoluted comments were logical,he needs to read Proverbs 3 : 5-6,my go-to verse for ALL that The Scriptures teach.

          • AnneG

            According to Catholic doctrine Baptism removes the stain of original sin but not concupiscence.

          • Laurence Charles Ringo

            Really,”diotrephes”? Is this an example of catholic hermeneutics? You MUST be joking,my friend,and certainly hope that you are NOT a teacher of catholic doctrine in any Sunday School or parish or whatever you catholics call it.Wow.

    • AnneG

      Joe, the difficulty you are having is, I think, due to a definition. Remember, the liturgy and theological language are very old, even in translation and do not carry modern meanings sometimes. When Catholic doctrine talks of merit it is referring to Jesus work in His Passion, Death and Resurrection, which happened in time but is ongoing as He is Trenscendent. So, the merit referred to is from Jesus directly for us. It is not by our work or works.

      • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

        Is this possibly an issue with Benedict’s return to the Latin (vulgate) translation of the mass (from the Septuagint?)

        (edit: please ignore the reference to the Septuagint.)

        According to RNS: ” Less than three years after a new translation of the Catholic Mass was introduced, some U.S. church leaders are pushing to redo what many said were awkward phrasings; a survey just released shows the passage of time has only increased the dissatisfaction with the new liturgy….”

        • AnneG

          I think it is just Catholic language and the way the language has always been used. The Church talks about a storehouse of Graces and Merit but they all come from Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection and Ascension, not from anything we have done ourselves. That is what merit is about. It is about how converted we are, how remade into the image and likeness of God, Our Father, through the sacrifice of Jesus.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            Storehouse of merit and grace are medieval concepts that don’t easily transition into modern English.

          • AnneG

            I think you are right that they are ancient concepts. Does not mean they aren’t true. I’m concerned that Americans are so borderline illiterate that they can’t understand language above the level of a text. We are losing our ability to communicate complex ideas because of that.
            Btw, the Middle Ages were an epoch of pretty extensive learning.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            What’s so complex about merit and (unmerited) grace that a good dictionary can’t resolve?

    • Veritas

      If we read the entire sentence of that part of the prayer, I think we might have a more clear sense of its meaning; “have mercy on us all, we pray that….we may merit to be coheirs to eternal life, and may praise and glorify you through your son, Jesus Christ”

      We merit only through His mercy, and only through Jesus Christ do we praise and glorify the father. This does not appear to be boasting of our works but more a form of humble pleading for mercy, invoking a little name dropping on our behalf.

      • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

        According to the 1995 Catholic Catechism, it looks like more than just name dropping.
        III Merit

        2010 “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom….” sounds like an indulgence!
        And “… merit for ourselves AND others….” (emphasis mine)?

        • Veritas

          That would seem to say that forgiveness and justification are gifts from God, and that our sanctification demands our participation.

          That is consistent with Matthew ch 25 and numerous other places in the New Testament that indicate our faith must be active and done in love of God and neighbor

          As for merit for ourselves and others, that would be praying for those “others” To receive the grace needed for sanctification.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            In English, how can one possibly “merit” grace since the latter is “the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God”?

          • Elvenfoot

            It’s completely through the graces given to us by Christ. We can do good only through his grace and thus we “merit” heaven and so on. It’s not a merit that comes through our own goodness or by earning it in the sense of “I did it all by myself.” I was confused by this, too, before I joined the Church. A lot of Catholic jargon doesn’t equate with Protestant jargon, which muddies the waters a lot. I had to spend a lot of time decoding what Catholics meant when they used words that meant something else to me.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            Graces given us are gifts.

          • Elvenfoot

            Exactly–so again, we really don’t earn anything without the graces (gifts) of God. In the end all the true merits are Christ’s, which are “applied” to us.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            From beginning to end, all true merit resides with Christ; merits given as gifts are still unearned gifts, otherwise grace is not grace (Romans 11:6).

            “… And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (KJV).

          • Elvenfoot

            Yes, no argument here. This is what the Church teaches, however confusingly it presents the doctrine.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            If “God is not the author of confusion” why is the Church so confusingly presenting his doctrine?

          • Elvenfoot

            First of all, the Church isn’t God and is using an imperfect human medium of communication, language, to try to explain divine concepts. Second, I don’t think it’s so confusing for born-and-bred Catholics. For a Protestant coming from a different perspective and a different set of jargon, such as myself, it’s takes some time to process and grasp.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            How does a Catholic “process and grasp” contradictions in terms better than any other denomination?
            And isn’t the Pope infallible in all matters of church doctrine and teaching?

          • Elvenfoot

            Christianity is full of contradictions, yet Protestants understand the ones they embrace just fine. We must lose our lives in order to gain it, for example. Do you understand that one? Many non-believers would struggle with it for awhile, I’m sure, but I suspect that if you are a Protestant, you understand it and many other contradictions and paradoxes as well as I do. Besides, I don’t think of the Catholic doctrine of merit as contradictory as much as circular.

            Regarding the pope, he has infallibility when it comes to proclaiming and defining official teaching under certain conditions (which I don’t recall), but I’m not sure what that has to do with the issue at hand.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            Pope Benedict infallibly authorized Eucharistic Prayer #2’s “… merit eternal life” as well as the rest of the translation for the new mass from the Latin Vulgate.
            And losing one’s temporal life in order to obtain eternal life in Christ isn’t that difficult to understand.

          • Elvenfoot

            First, pope’s can’t/don’t proclaim that they are infallibly doing something, and authorizing a prayer or a Bible translation doesn’t fall under the doctrine of infallibility. To my understanding, infallibility doesn’t work like that. Plus, I believe he has to be proclaiming a doctrine that has been accepted for a long time but has not yet been formally defined. The last one was in the 1800s, I believe. All that said, I am no expert on infallibility, because it was one of the doctrines I struggled with the most in my journey to the Church, and it’s been years since I studied this in depth. It’s definitely something worth studying in the catechism or in another scholarly, Catholic-authored work if you want to really understand it properly. I probably should review it, myself.

            Second, regarding my example, I wasn’t referring to our physical, temporal death but the “death” we experience during our lifetimes. We are to “die” to ourselves in order for Christ to live through us, and yes, I do think that could be hard for a non-believer or new Christian to wrap their heads around.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in in the Son of God….” seems self-explanatory.

            papal infallibility: Roman Catholic dogma that the pope cannot be wrong when using his official position of power to give instructions about Christian faith or morals.

            Authorizing a prayer, or a Bible translation should fall under instructions about the Christian faith.

          • Elvenfoot

            I heartily disagree with your first statement. I think the merit concept is pretty understandable, too, but you don’t (and I didn’t used to, so I get why). What seems perfectly simple to one person’s perspective, having studied and considered and analyzed an issue, isn’t necessarily so simple to someone else. I stand by what I’ve said, but if you disagree, that’s okay. Protestant doctrine isn’t always as simple as Protestants would like it to be, and neither is Catholic or Orthodox doctrine. Many doctrines take time to absorb for those on the outside.

            Regarding your second comment, first a friendly FYI– this is Catholic dogma, not just Roman Catholic. There are various Catholic rites (liturgies, worship customs, etc.)–Byzantine, Chaldean, and so on–all of which adhere to the Magisterium in Rome. Roman Catholic is just one rite in the Catholic Church, though it is, of course, the most well-known since it is the rite the pope uses, since he lives in Rome. I didn’t know that at the beginning, and I think it’s both interesting and important for people to know. In other words, there are different kinds of Catholics.

            Anyway, I understand your opinion on these authorizations, but I am almost certain that authorizations don’t fall under the grace of infallibility. Only official proclamations of doctrines do. Again, I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. That said, I wouldn’t cold-shoulder anything the pope says, just because I don’t think he’s saying something under his grace of infallibility.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            According to the Catholic Pocket Dictionary, papal infallibility is “freedom from error in teaching the Universal church in matters of faith and morals” and episcopal infallibility is “preservation from error of the bishops of the Catholic Church”.
            Both seem all-encompassing.
            As for Protestant and Catholic doctrine, Jesus and all his apostles are Jews, and the theologian who wrote the vast majority of the New Testament was a rabbi from Tarsus!

          • Elvenfoot

            Here is an article from a trustworthy source that you might find helpful for understanding the parameters of papal infallibility: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/papal-infallibility. Many people seem to think that the pope is like a king and can do or say whatever he wants without fear of ever being incorrect. There is also a book by Patrick Madrid, called Pope Fiction: Answers to 30 Myths and Misconceptions about the Papacy that you might find helpful (http://www.amazon.com/Pope-Fiction-Answers-Misconceptions-Papacy/dp/0964261006).

            Regarding your last comment, I have no idea what your point is. Every studied Christian of every stripe knows this. Could you please explain?

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            Could you please explain …
            “… Protestant doctrine isn’t always as simple as Protestants would like it to be, and neither is Catholic or Orthodox doctrine….”
            … as all are rooted in Judaism.

          • Elvenfoot

            Yup. But we are all interpreting the Bible, and this is where things can get muddy because language can be confusing and our interpretations can get complex. Honestly, I really don’t understand where the argument is here. I get that you don’t agree with or even fully understand the doctrines of merit and papal infallibility, but some of your comments leave me feeling like you’re trying to express something bigger that I am just not getting. Feel free to explain.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            Well, now we CAN agree: you’re just not getting it.

          • Elvenfoot

            Was that meant to be a lighthearted, friendly joking reponse–or was it as mean as it sounded? I realize that a lot is lost on forums like this, since we have no benefit of body language or tone, so it’s not always easy to tell.

          • Elvenfoot

            Right. I see. Nice.

          • AnneG

            Joe, there is a lot of both/and in Catholic teaching. If a person tries to find one and only one explanation for everything and for how theology develops and applies in every situation, you will not find it here in the Church. There are a few things that are obligatory for belief and assent. Many, many things, though, are applied charitably depending on the situation. The Church is aware of Her responsibilities to be the Kingdin of God.
            Btw, liturgy develops, is modified and grows. Benedict did not declare a Eucharistic prayer infallible. He said that in the Latin Rite we could use it.
            There are lots of Rites.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            I’m not looking for a theological panacea.

          • Russ Miller

            It’s not so confusing, when one accepts the Grace of Truth.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            How else, but by acceptance can anyone receive the unmerited favor (grace) of God?

          • Russ Miller

            One has to be given Grace, before it can be accepted. Many are given the Grace of knowing Christ and his Body on earth, His Church. It is freely given, and rejected by too many.

    • cajaquarius

      Beyond the study of the man and his writings (compiled by Davis D. Danizier in a published book but summarized on his blog post entitled “Paul vs Jesus (and James)” quite well and without any really valid rebuttal), your theology is a great example of why I fully reject Paul and Timothy as false apostles The road of “Grace” (a.k.a. Sloth) is as wide and easy as they come. When I walked away from the Church and looked into the Protestant sects this focus on being saved by Jesus – this easy “Footprints in the Sand” nonsense being peddled about – was what caused me to wince and turn away.

      Not that I am judging. Walking in the footsteps of Christ is hard and Paul’s teachings in Romans and Corinthians are much more easy and much more legalistic and certain. I see the appeal of that road as compared to the “be as children” road Christ presented since Christ’s road doesn’t have specific rules and hard laws that win you salvation. No magical phrases, no mindlessly mumbled prayers in endless succession, none of that certainty that pleases the flesh.

      • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

        If you reject Paul, you also reject the majority of the New Testament writings to include the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts that are both included into the canon of scripture based on Paul’s authority as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

        • cajaquarius

          You are correct. Acts is largely suspect as is the Gospel of Luke. I cut away almost everything except the writings of those who actually witnessed Christ and the words spoken by the man himself.

          Paul adds nothing of value to Scripture. Timothy adds nothing of value to Scripture. If you can provide an example of something they added in Romans, Corinthians, or the like that you feel is absolutely necessary and not really covered by Christ in his life, you can post it here. I have yet to have anyone post anything that Christ didn’t teach better, though. To be blunt, everything from Paul and Timothy is legalistic, empty, worldly garbage either retreading what Christ taught better or providing a wider, easier road and complicating what needed no complication with legalistic jargon.

          As for “why would God allow this” I have a hypothesis. Paul was a power hungry half breed who strove to be bigger than he ever could be. He actively hunted Christians and then, upon realizing he could gain more power as a leader of this burgeoning “cult” of his age and more respect than a half breed like him (half Jew, half Roman) could ever attain in Rome or the Temple, he invented the story of the Road of Damascus and plied his sociopathy at transforming the burgeoning faith in his image. Every legalistic bit of the New Testament comes from Paul – any time we are told what to eat or not to eat, what to sacrifice, who goes to hell and who doesn’t, and so on it is touched by the false apostle. My guess is Paul is like Judas in that he was an evil man whose legalism and nonsense exist to keep people from tampering with the ultimate story beneath them – the one of Jesus. I suspect the story and words of Jesus would never have survived without Paul’s own words acting as cover for them. Paul appeals to the worldly and wise. He gives clear cut instructions, condemnations, and to those with a weak inherent faith and conscience that sort of directness appeals over the parables and (seemingly) subjective words of Christ.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            Your “hypothesis” of Paul is anathema.

            “… And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16).

            Or are you now going to add the letters of Peter and the Gospel of Mark to the rest of your foolish omissions to the canon of scripture?

          • cajaquarius

            The vast majority of modern bible scholars I have read consider 2 Peter (and, very likely 1 Peter) to be psuedonymous in nature, not originating from the actual apostle. When you compare it’s origin and writing to the other things believed to originate with Peter it does make sense (the style of writing is off and he even spells his own name wrong at one point).

            So to answer your question, yes, I do reject 1 and 2 Peter as, more than likely, authored by one of the lackeys of Paul. Even assuming it was authored by Peter, he was just a man, and likely could have been won over by a smooth talking sociopath like Paul.

          • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

            The more senseless claims you make about Paul, Peter and biblical authorship, the more you continue to distance yourself from God’s word and any benefit you could have received from it.

            Eventually you will reach the point of no return.

  • Nardo Manaloto

    Appreciate this article very much! Thanks for the insights! I’m a Catholic forever! Everything you stated is absolutely true…..
    Thanks for opening my eyes again at the time when it seems to be closing….

  • Maggie Goff

    I thank God every single day that He kept me alive long enough to return. I used the excuse for decades that the Church was full of hypocrites, when in reality it was myself who was the hypocrite. I couldn’t admit that it was “too hard.” I preferred playing God myself. Well, He arranged a few incidents that clearly, finally showed me that I was not. That was seven years ago and I have never felt such peace in my almost 70 years on this earth. I am so grateful.

  • Abbie1530

    Well thought out and well written article. Congratulations on embracing your faith through your conversion.

  • TapestryGarden

    Don’t put your faith in princes, something we should remember. How many grumbling about “The Church’ are in fact basing their dismay upon the actions of flawed human beings? If there is one thing we know through our faith, it’s that we are fallen creatures. As Flannery O’Connor said our Church’s first Pope was a man who couldn’t walk on water yet we expect him to and are disappointed in His Church, when a fallen human being isn’t Christ or even Christlike. I’m not. I expect it and given that the Church has survived thousands of such flawed human beings, even in its highest offices, is testimony to the Truth of the Catholic Church itself, even though its members miss the mark.
    I’m a convert and came in right at the height of the scandal. I had many friends who asked “How could you join a church like that?” I never mistook the sinful actions of humans as delegitimizing the Church, the teachings and most importantly Christ. When people leave, particularly those who think their departure is so significant that their reasons somehow demonstrate the Church’s flaws, I only think I’m sorry that you couldn’t distinguish between the Truth itself and those who either don’t understand it or choose to ignore it.

  • Cynthia Kron

    Thank you for this great article, from a gal who entered the Church on the same day as you.

  • Ginny Hall

    Thank you, and God bless you for sharing this. For the past two months, I have struggled with my faith because of witnessing the false testimony of several people within the Church (I won’t name names, but all of them have received Holy Orders). I knew I wouldn’t leave the Church, but even attending Mass had become an internal battle because of it. Your testimony answered a lot of questions I had been asking to people I trust both in and outside Holy Mother Church. I also need to sit down and read Benedict XVI’s writings. I miss his leadership so much.

    • RPlavo .

      Like his leadership that gave us this unintelligible liturgical translation?…..people have no clue what the priest is saying, so tune him out….as well as the rest of the Mass, especially the homily

      • ThereseZ

        What’s unintelligible? You mean, there’s a hard word or two? And we, whose Church promotes education for all people for all levels, can’t look the darn hard word up and see why it contains riches that can’t be explained in an easier word?

      • Veritas

        If it’s unintelligible maybe you need to hear it in a different language. If people tune it out that is a shame, but all of life can’t be Sesame Street. The liturgy is not entertainment, it is participation, that requires effort.
        “Oh the depths of the riches of wisdom and knowledge of God!

  • Charles Lewis

    This is a stunning piece of writing. I should know as I was a reporter and editor for 33 years. I’m a convert as well and of course with all things that were going on seven years ago many people thought joining was ridiculous at best and insulting at worse. But this article explains it better that I ever was able to. The best I could say was there is more to Catholicism than scandal. The scandal is minuscule compared to the good. When people are involved things can and will go terribly wrong. But turn away from that and what do you see? A church of more than one billion alive today, probably more than a billion who were Catholic and have passed on. All of us, the living and the dead, can attest the incredibly beauty of religion that drives us to our knees in thanks. I’m so happy to be a Catholic it brings tears to my eyes.

  • Evelita Olegario

    I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic…

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      That is an interesting declaration,Evelita Olegario,given that according to the 1st chapter of the Gospel of John,it specifically makes the point that God’s Children are born of Him,NOT of the flesh(John 1:12-13)…hmm…

      • Russ Miller

        Jesus Christ is the Church. He is the Head, we are the Body.

  • Peter Shafton

    With St Peter we may say, Where can we go Lord, You have the truth You are our Eucharist. Without you, we have only death.

  • http://bigpulpit.com/ Tito Edwards

    Good stuff! You also write for The Catholic Thing right? Want to learn more? Go to BigPulpit.com .

  • cajaquarius

    “The thing I have to say is this…The Catholic Church is the exponent of REALITY. It is true. Its doctrines in matters large and small are statements of what is.”

    Interestingly, this is probably accurate. I was born, raised, and even confirmed Catholic but I walked away because my own study eventually led me to doubt the truth of any of it. Started with me realizing I was gay and not feeling it was sinful or wrong. No conviction from my conscience so I began tracing the Church theology of it, initially in hopes of being convicted. My study of it only led me to doubt all the more in the validity of the Church’s claims.

    Once I hit that bump, I spent two years looking in to everything I could, reading the Magisterium for myself, as well as opposing view points I had never before entertained. The cracks were too much. I came to view Paul as a false apostle, I came to doubt the divinity of Christ due to his connections to Zoroastrianism, and more and more. I came to fully deny the Infallibility of the Church and with that loss of faith, the foundation of 25 years crumbled.

    Simply put, I walked away from the Church because it is not true and it’s statements when picked apart do not reflect reality as I understand it. It is interesting that this seems to work in reverse, though.

    • MontyBurnz

      You seems you have epistemological issues. Is there One Reality that actually exists or does every mind perceive its own reality and its own truth? If all truth is relative, then moral relativism is not absolutely true and thus no truth exists.

      It seems like your orientation is biasing your analyses of the truths of the Catholic Church, which is perfectly understandable as we are all humans and our passions affect our intellection and understanding.

      • cajaquarius

        You are partially right. My orientation is one of the things that spurned me out of my faith but it came after much study and much talking with priests, deacons, and laity who could never answer doubts or questions. The orientation prohibition as it is understood, for example, is born of a Jewish creation myth (Genesis) combined with a pagan philosopher (Aristotle and his Natural Law). I won’t go into detail about what I find wrong with this but, suffice to say, I found the explanation for why my falling in love with another guy was sinful to be little more than man-made lattice. This lead to rejection of the Infallibility, which came with questioning all the further (the Fatima event which was, in all likelihood, a demonic apparition if anything, the false apostle Paul, and more). The change came came from examining the roots of my old faith and finding them wanting.

        I do not abide moral relativism either. I agree that there is one reality that exists, that truth isn’t subjective, the only real difference is that my own study of the Church has led me to believe that it does not hold this ultimate truth as firmly as it claims. It gets bits and pieces right.

        • Melanchthon

          The Catholic Church rejoices in you falling in love with another man, because love is ALWAYS a grace from God.
          The Church frowns on how you/ I /we might express our love…
          As gay men we are better off to love chastely our “better halves”…I am step by step learning the truth in the Church’s teaching about sexuality after decades of self-indulgent life -style.

          • cajaquarius

            The problem you will find is the same I found; chastity isn’t good enough. You cannot love another man in any romantic or even close sense because you will create what they term “scandal”. I remember reading the teachings of Jesus and never recall him blaming other people for the sins of individuals who came to him. He never mentioned anything approaching the word scandal. This is a man made invention, based off the teachings of the false apostle Paul if I had to guess or fabricated later by the Church herself. Just one further point to damn her.

            I believe in God but not people. Not churches. Too much lying. Too much passing off nonsense as wisdom for me. If it works for you, great, I do wish you the best. Most of my family is Catholic – I come from a family of deacons, Knights of Columbus, and more. It just isn’t for me.

  • Lesley Hughes

    This, is one of the very best articles I’veread in quite a long time…thank you.

  • Kim Bednar

    Leaving would be unthinkable! I married the Catholic church in my mind on Easter Vigil 2012. Me and my veil are married to the Catholic church until death do us part!

  • captcrisis

    Not clear why you wrote this.
    Is someone telling you to leave the Church?
    Is there something that makes you think you’re being urged to leave?

    • Elvenfoot

      If the author has experienced anything like I have, it’s the perplexed attitude from others that seems to ask why anyone would support a Church that has so many faults or that does this or that. Seems like a timely article from my perspective.

  • http://romancatholicheroes.blogspot.com/ Dolorosa

    I would never leave the Catholic Church because it is the one true church of Jesus Christ. I attend the Latin Tridentine Mass and support tradition. We have had bad popes in the past so is this a surprise that a protestant should ask: Is the Pope protestant? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/donna-schaper/is-the-pope-protestant_b_7482146.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

  • Jim Dailey

    The quotes from Belloc, Chesterton, and O’Connor really hit home for me. Thanks for putting them in there.
    I run into Catholics all the time who don’t have a good thing to say about the Church. When the topic of their faith comes up they roll their eyes and say sheepishly “Well I was BORN Catholic… you know?” and roll their eyes and give a knowing tilt of their head. Others say “Well my parents put me in Catholic school” and follow it up with stories (which I am certain are embellished to the point of absurdity) about abusive nuns.
    When the conversation deepens, these people invariably start criticizing the Church for it’s stalwart support of Natural Law and tradition, When I ask them why do you remain Catholic then, why not change to some form of Protestantism which reflects whatever theology you happen to hold dear, I am usually angrily denounced as “judging” these people (I am not) and am than told they are trying to “change the Church ‘from the inside'”.
    I find these encounters discouraging, but by far the most frequent dialogues I have with people about their “Faith”.
    I realize that in many ways this is a reflection of my own weakness of understanding of my Faith, my own sinfulness and slack adherence to Catholic tradition, that I can not even mount enough of an argument to persuade these people, who are hovering at the edge of true Catholicism, to fully commit to it and experience the joy I feel as a fully fledged, but weak and sinful adherent to all that is our Faith.
    So thank you for your apologia (did I use that correctly) and thank you for the quotes. I will try to use them well in my future conversations. You rock!

  • deehra

    The author gives a passing nod to ‘tradition’. In my experience, tradition is key to my continued allegiance to the Catholic Church.
    As what is now referred to as an ‘Irish Catholic’ many of my childhood memories involve the Church. Some of those remembrances are comforting and sober, others are warm and funny, the latter having to do mostly with my long gone Catholic elder family members..Either way, they have gone from just memories to an integral part of my being. I could no more leave the Church than I would willingly leave my green eyes and freckles.
    I, too, listen to the misinformation about the Church with great frustration, It needs more people like the author of this blog, to speak on the True Church, and reaffirm its’ message of human understanding and hope.

  • Antiphon411

    I clicked on the two linked apologias above. I had never heard of either guy, though for a minute I thought Mike Judge had left the Church. I found both of their soul-searching essays to be rather trite and boring. I can’t see why anyone would be compelled to examine his own commitment to the One True Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ after reading these.

    I’m glad you’re staying in the Church Mr. Worner!

  • Jamo11

    Everything the nuns and priests told me 60 years ago turned out to be true.

  • TBill

    Well, obviously, you hit it out of the park.

  • orygone

    what ever. if it works for you, great. not my cup of tea. never big on fairy tales. good luck

  • Alecto

    Converts to anything, like ex-smokers are the most strident in their beliefs. Fact is, one can never leave because the Catholic Church won’t actually let you. Once baptized and confirmed, that’s it, baby, there’s no going back. I don’t quite understand how that thinking works since it results in complete denial of free will. A baby is not competent to decide or voluntarily give consent anymore than a 12 yr old can honestly be confirmed.

    I do not believe the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Christian faith, and I do not believe in the supremacy or infallibility of the pope. I do not believe that babies spend eternity in limbo or the non-baptized. I don’t believe God is vindictive as the Catholic doctrine attempts to paint the Deity. The mandatory attendance, the extorted support, the political machinations, etc… that is too much to overcome.

    Catholics didn’t proclaim the pope’s infallibility until the 19th century. Even Lord Acton fought it. Unfortunately the conceited arrogance is still there, and while it is an obstacle to faith, isn’t as damning as the pedophiles, homosexuals and others who appear to have taken over the Catholic priesthood.

    • AnneG

      Archbishop Sheen said, “https://www.facebook.com/FultonJSheen/posts/10152049365271785
      “Not 100 people in the United States hate the Roman Catholic Church, but millions hate what they mistakenly think the Roman Catholic Church is.”
      There are so many misconceptions in your statement. Just one, once a person is baptized they cannot be rebaptised, they only get wet. Baptism cannot be revoked.
      Each of your statements is that kind of a misconception. We don’t believe in limbo. The Church never said anyone in general or specifically is in hell.
      Any others?

      • Alecto

        You do not know your cathechism, but that isn’t uncommon given the Catholic Church stopped teaching it after Vatican II. I wrote that people are considered “Catholic” whether they leave or stay. The Vatican doesn’t acknowledge that people renounce baptism in the Catholic Church. Section 1215 of the Catholic Catechism clearly states the Catholic belief that no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless baptized.

    • Sirene

      Everything you are stating here is false.
      For example, the very first thing you said “The Catholic Church won’t actually let you leave…” That’s patently false. I actually left and came back. Nobody forces anyone.
      Papal infallibility was not declared until the 19th century. It has been believed by the very beginning but since the Church needs to spell out things when people begin with heresies it needed to specified in writing what has been believed since 33 AD.
      Everything else you said is the typical misinformed diatribe that not even a half-decent protestant scholars says.
      It’s not arrogance. It is Jesus Christ who established the Church. We didn’t decide, it was Him.

  • osu84

    “The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners. For everyone else the Anglicans will do.” Oscar Wilde. Put simply – being Catholic is the central joy of my life.

  • valwayne

    Amen! I wish that the Shepherds of the church, the Bishops and Cardinals were as passionate about their faith, and their defense of the faith as Mr Worner. The Catholic Faith is under active attack in the U.S., and around the world, but no attack is a devastating as the lassitude and total lack of energy on the part of the Shepherds of the flock that has filtered its way into the body of the church. The Shepherds of the Church have gone to sleep, their flocks have gone to sleep, and packs of wolves are attacking while the Shepherds slumber. This article was short, positive, and passionate. Something I haven’t heard from a Cardinal, or Bishop, or even a Parish Priest in years.

  • Amused

    This is normal.

    Many people find it hard to leave a cult.

    • tpaine1

      And “secularism” is what?

      • Sophia Sadek

        A cult of knowledge is not the same thing as a power cult.

      • Sirene

        They don’t realize that they are the ones in a cult.

    • http://frustratedpodcast.com AnonCollie

      Classy.

    • Sirene

      The irony is that I left the “cult” but now I am back. The real cult is the world that tell you that there is no wrong, no God, and sells you the big lie of relativism where there isn’t even truth anymore. A big cult and most people in it don’t even realize it. Sad decadent

  • tpaine1

    “All human nature vigorously resists Grace because Grace changes us and the change is painful . . .” Flannery O’Conner
    I had to leave the Episcopal Church because it became too hierarchical, anti-Scriptural and tyrannical – that decision was hard.
    Yet, I was able to keep my Anglo-Catholic faith by joining the Anglican Church of North America and, now, I find myself a better, more well informed, active Christian in a church formation that didn’t exist twenty years ago!!
    Amazing how God works.
    Enjoyed the article. As the author states, the Catholic faith is simply the truth.

  • dogged

    The Church is more than the pope – any pope. Christ is more than the Church – any church. I do not share your particular Christian tradition but your ability to think it through before rendering a decision is admirable. Pax vobiscum.

  • E Cowden

    Thank you for reminding us we are all fallible, but God isn’t.

  • Mary Petnel

    Bravo Tod – keep the articles coming. You are gifted – such solace in these dark days!

  • EqualTime

    I was raised Irish Catholic, and at one time, could have written this heartfelt essay. My tipping point was when my parents peacefully passed and I realized I was holding on to the dogma because I knew it would have broken their hearts to hear I was a non believer. Freed of their judgement, I was able to listen to my own inner voice, which very confidently says this life is all we have, better make the best of it!

    • Marps

      Questions to ponder:

      Who am I?

      Where am I from?

      Where am I going?

      What is the meaning and purpose of life?

    • Elvenfoot

      How sad.

    • Sirene

      Even when I was away from the Church I thought that the universe, matter itself, time, a chain of causes and effects, could not have come from nothing. Reason alone told me that a series of causes and effects can’t exist without a first cause.

  • Rockerbabe

    I was 30 before I realized that God doesn’t zap you for missing mass on Sunday. I was a very young girl in grade school, when Vatican II came about. It offered lots of hope for change and improvement. Little did I realize that much of the change was superficial, especially when it comes to women and single women in particular. While there have been some changes (mostly on the margins), the Catholic Church is still little more than a big, expensive, glorified boys’ club – a club I no longer choose to support. I refuse to be silent, compliant and financially supportive of a church hierarchy that does not respect me as a person or a woman. There are lots of ways to love Christ and support his mission on this earth; the catholic church no longer is the only way [for a lot of us].

    • tpaine1

      Why do you think there are so many different kinds of churches?
      God made each of us unique and loves us as His individual Creations.
      That God commanded a father to be the “spiritual head” of the family should not and was not intended to offend “the fairer sex.” It is a simple acknowledgment that God made each sex differently to serve Him for different purposes. That choice was His and not ours.
      Above all, God wants us to “be happy, joyous and free.”
      I sense you have a void in your life and a resentment, go find a church and a church community that gives you comfort and “be happy, joyous and free.”

  • Sophia Sadek

    A lot of heretics were persecuted in order to establish the “truth” of the Catholic faith. My heart goes out to them.

  • captcrisis

    I see now why you wrote this — you and other bloggers were asked to.

    Not a single one of these bloggers, here at the Patheos Republican Channel — sorry, the Patheos Catholic Channel — represents the opinions of most Catholics who go to Mass every Sunday, who are overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage and women priests, who actuallly KNOW gay people and hang out with them, and who keep going and receiving Communion despite a hierarchy that has degenerated into politicized culture warriors.

    Those Catholics — THOSE are the ones who I’d like to see essays from, as to why they are still Catholic.

    • http://truthvsreality.com Frater Bovious

      Those Catholics are certainly welcome to share.

    • Russ Miller

      Each is throwing himself up against a wall of Truth. The Truth that Jesus Christ and His Church has given us, with undeserved Mercy.

      Being a Catholic is not for sissies. One has to conform to the Church, the Body of Christ. It does not conform to our sinful personal decisions. But, I too would like to see essays from these boastful and prideful people.

      • Korou

        If Jesus were alive today he’d be telling people to love one another. Just like he did before. Last time he told people to love each other by being kind to the poor and including the excluded. This time he’d be on the side of gay marriage.

        • Russ Miller

          Scripture clearly states otherwise and for 2,000 years the Church’s position has been stated. “You are loved” …. “Now, go and sin no more”

          • Korou

            That is an excellent principle – if a sin has been committed. I’ve never found a Catholic who has been able to tell me exactly what is wrong – or, if you like, “sinful” about two men or two women loving each other.

          • Russ Miller

            You’ll have to take that up with God, as it is in His Word.

          • Korou

            “I’ve never found a Catholic who has been able to tell me exactly what is wrong…about two men or two women loving
            each other.”
            Thanks for making my point.

          • Russ Miller

            The only point you are making is that you are obstinate and in denial. It’s an abomination in the eyes of God and it is stated so in The Word of God. If you are Catholic or any Christian, that is the precise and most important reason.

          • Korou

            You say it’s wrong but you can’t say why. That’s probably the reason why a majority of Catholics, at least in the developed world, no longer believe what the church says about gay people.
            Again: if we are supposed to see two men or two women loving each other as evil I’d like teachers know why it’s evil.

          • Russ Miller

            Karou said, “You say it’s wrong but you can’t say why”.

            You are showing a fundamental lack of understanding of the Christian faith. The Bible or Word of God, states it is wrong. If you want a secular reason, ask a secular person. It seems you are on a religious website and on a Christian/Catholic thread. So, you are incorrect in your inability to look at the validity of a Christian perspective.

          • Korou

            And there I was thinking that Catholics claimed to be the rational religion and that “God said it, I believe it and that settles it” was for bible-thumping fundamentalists.

            If you don’t have a reason for your argument, then you don’t have an argument.

          • Russ Miller

            And I was thinking that all Chinese were analytical thinkers. Just goes to show that stereotypes are not true and are mere generalizations. With Catholics, it’s Faith and Reason. One is not to the exclusion of the other.

            My argument has been stated. You just don’t like it. Perhaps, you should state why you believe homosexual acts are not a sin. It is listed as an abomination and sin in the Word of God.

          • Korou

            I’m not actually Chinese, I just live in China. I’m British.
            And no, I wouldn’t say that the defining characteristic of Chinese people was analytical. If I had to choose a word, honestly I’d say “pragmatic.” Which is a most honourable thing to be too.

            Back on topic. No, you haven’t stated an argument. All you’ve done is made an assertion. The word of God says that homosexuality is a sin? Do you know, I have an uncle who’s gay. From seeing him with his lifelong partner it’s quite clear that there’s nothing wrong in the slightest about the love and affection they have for each other. And that’s basically it – two people love each other, what’s wrong with that?

            Perhaps you have some reason apart from “the Bible says so”.

          • Russ Miller

            “Do you know, I have an uncle who’s gay. From seeing him with his
            lifelong partner it’s quite clear that there’s nothing wrong in the
            slightest about the love and affection they have for each other.”

            Fallacious appeal to emotion.

          • Korou

            Actually, no. What it establishes is that gay couples can and do love each other. Since they love each other, they’re not being evil, wicked or sinful.

            You know, it’s not always fallacious to appeal to emotion. For example, trying to make people feel sorry for homeless people when you want them to donate to your charity, or when you’re saying: “Isn’t it horrible that children were abused by priests and the priests were protected?”

            It really does come down to that. Two people love each other, and that’s a good thing. They care for each other, they share with each other, they enjoy each others’ company.
            If you want to show that the Bible says homosexuality is sinful, no problem. If you want to show that there actually is anything wrong with it, that’s a different story. Got anything to back up your assertions with?

          • Russ Miller

            Sorry, you don’t get to make up your own rules. Your appeal has no foundation other than a fallacious appeal to emotion. You have proven nothing. Your assertion is useless

            “If you want to show that homosexuality is sinful, the ball’s in your court.”

            Yes, and I have aced that serve numerous times. When we talk about “sin”, as you request, we are by the nature of your question, talking about God. And God says that homosexual behavior is an abomination and is sinful.

            I find it tedious attempting to debate with a person who just fails to understand the difference between a fallacy, and more importantly on this particular topic, fails to understand basic meaning of a word such as “sin”, where we are delving into a religious argument on a religious thread and website.

            Good day to you Korou and may God give you His Grace to see things in the light of real Justice, Love and Mercy. If you truly love homosexual people, you would understand that real love is pointing to and praying they may stop behavior that God does not look fondly on. A common sinner, Russ

          • Korou

            “Gays are bad because God said so.”
            “I told you. It was God that said so.”
            “In the bible, that’s where! God said it already!”

            Congratulations, champ. You aced that serve.
            Nice touch of false humility on the end, by the way. Well, since I’m obviously not going to get anything else out of you, goodbye.

          • Bershawn300

            You mean besides the fact that it goes against nature?

          • Korou

            Does it? Considering that there are examples of animals engaging in homosexual acts?
            Besides which, what does it mean to go against nature? That doesn’t even sound possible. I suppose that what would go against nature would be a completely heterosexual man having sex with another man. That would go against nature, which is why he wouldn’t do it.

            More than that, what’s even wrong with going against nature? We do it all the time – cooking our food, using tools to do things, shaving off hair and covering ourselves with artificial furs…all of these things are “unnatural”.

            The question is – who does it hurt? Nobody. So why is it bad? I don’t know.

          • Kathy Halvey Gibson

            Google Ryan T. Anderson. Nobody explains it better than he does.

          • Korou

            Fair enough, Kathy.
            I should say that I live in China, where there’s quite a lot of internet censorship. I can’t use google, or a number of other websites such as blogspot and youtube.
            I tried searching for “ryan t. anderson homosexuality” but most of the results wouldn’t work. I did manage to find this:
            http://shanekastler.typepad.com/pastor_shanes_blog/2015/04/using-logic-to-refute-gay-marriage-an-example-from-ryan-t-anderson.html
            In it, the writer talks about how he watched Anderson answer a question from “a homosexual” about why he, Anderson, was discriminating against him, and why he shouldn’t be allowed to marry. I must say, that although the writer seems quite awestruck by how Anderson dealt with the man, exposing the flaws in his logic and leaving him and his left-wing talking points dumbstruck, I wasn’t impressed.

            “Anderson employs two different logical tools in his argument. First he
            points out the potential fallacy of “special pleading” that the
            homosexual man is engaging in. The man wants to re-define marriage to
            benefit himself and his partner. Anderson asks him, if he would also
            like to extend marital benefits to the “throuple” (group of 3) or the
            “heterosexual quartet.” Or does he only want to re-define marriage to
            the extent that it benefits him and go no further than that?”

            It’s not special pleading, Anderson. The man isn’t arguing on behalf of himself and his partner only. He’s arguing on behalf of all gay couples who want to marry. If polygamists want to put their cases then let them make their own arguments. And yes, the man does want marriage to be redefined to include gay couples. Marriage has been redefined many times – for example, when it was agreed that mixed-race couples could marry.

            Anderson may have better arguments, but I doubt it.

          • Kathy Halvey Gibson

            Try Googling George paper on marriage. For me it is the first thing that comes up but it is a pdf so I can’t attach it. Also if you can get to YouTube, Ryan has lectures and debates there.

        • tpaine1

          And that would indicate a serious lack of knowledge about Scripture. You are simply wrong. Welcome to the world of acknowledged sinners – Christians all.

          • Korou

            Wrong about Jesus being kind to those that society cast out? Wrong about Jesus telling people to love one another? Wrong about saying that we should help the poor?

        • baffledlife

          Not money darling, poor in spirit. Berift of hope, full of despair, defeated; be kind to them, reach out to them welcome them to the message of Jesus. That is how we can best love gay people not create a fake status, a phony “marriage”.

          • Korou

            Not just poor in spirit, money as well:
            http://www.openbible.info/topics/jesus_and_the_poor
            Also, please try reaching out to gay people by being treating them as fellow human beings. It’s not kindness to work against their rights and to try to deprive them of an equal place in society. If Jesus were here, he’d tell you that.

    • tpaine1

      And that would indicate a serious lack of knowledge about Scripture. You are simply wrong. Welcome to the world of self acknowledged sinners – Christians all.

    • baffledlife

      No, no, no, you are so deluded. Most Catholics are not in favor of homosexual relationsips (they are not marriages), nor women as faux priests. Why would you want to hear their faulty theology, why wouldn’t you want to hear the true theology of this Catholic Church. Your problem is that you can’t let yourself surrender to Jesus Christ. You are afraid to give control of your self to your God. Open your heart, to Him who created you. Your intellect is nothing, your ego is nothig, let Him fill you up.

    • Bershawn300

      You don’t understand Christ dear heart. Or Catholicism.

  • Chant

    My comment, respectfully, is to focus less on the ‘ediface’ of the Church and, more, on the heart of Christ.

  • AliciaS

    I am a new Catholic as well. When people attack the Church or suggest that I should not be Catholic because of the sex abuse scandal, I confirm how horrible it was for the children involved to have their trust broken like that. I confirm that the Church needs to continue working hard to right the wrongs. However, I also explain that I would never leave my faith because of the bad priests or corrupt bishops among the thousands of good, honorable priests and bishops. I also share that I had a public school teacher in third grade that was arrested for child porn (I was not one of his victims). Using the same reasoning, shouldn’t I have quit school at age eight because of the bad teacher? Or because of any bad teacher? No, of course not. I had another teacher in public high school who was arrested for abusing dozens of his own foster children. Should I have quit school as a freshman in high school because of him? No, of course not. I need an education. I also need God and His Church. So, no, I will not quit my Catholic faith because of a few bad priests just like I would’ve been foolish to quit school because of bad teachers. When I hear of Catholics who have fallen away and use any scandal as an excuse not to come back, I think about those bad teachers and thank God that I continued in school and obtained several college degrees. Where would I be if I hadn’t? More importantly, where would I be without God and the Eucharist?

    • Korou

      With respect to your sympathy for the victims and your condemnation of the offenders – what if it wasn’t quite the same as you’re saying? What if, to continue your analogy, it hadn’t just been one teacher at your school who was guilty of that offence, but several; and what if the school knew about them and had done everything it could to protect their secrets?

      Wouldn’t your parents have moved you to a different school then?

      • AliciaS

        The comparison with schools is an apt one simply because suspect public school teachers do get asked to leave or moved along without criminal proceedings. Happens all the time. The number of abusive teachers is far higher than any church. The number of principals that move those teachers rather than pursuing charges is also staggering. It’s because they want to keep it quiet (sound familiar?) and because they can’t afford to be sued by the teachers. Yes, as a parent, I would move my child to a different school (parish) or even a different school district (diocese) if I was worried about their safety. But I wouldn’t tell them to quit school (the Church) altogether. The Holy Spirit guides the Catholic Church and she has the sacraments I need. I will not give that up because of bad individuals. If you look at the statistics, even at the highest estimates and at the worst time for the Church in regards to abuse (I think the 1970s and 1980s), the percent is still far lower than in the general population.

        • Korou

          But there’s a flaw in your analogy. The Catholic Church isn’t education itself. It’s a single school, because the Catholic Church is a single organisation, with a single ruling body headed by one person.
          So to extend your analogy: it’s a school which has convinced you that it’s the only school in the world, and that if you don’t go to it and send your children to it then they’ll never be able to go to college. and because of this you are willing to put up with the school no matter what it does.
          The problem is not that there were and are child abusers in the Church. The problem isn’t even that their actions were covered up by individuals in the Church. The problem is that it was and is the policy of the Church to do everything they can to protect the reputation of the Church, including transferring abusers, hiding evidence and refusing to cooperate with authorities.
          So let me ask: is there a situation you can imagine in which you would leave the Catholic Church? How bad would it have to get before you refused to support it any more?

  • Elvenfoot

    I couldn’t agree more. Every time I converse with a non-believer who disdains the Catholic Church, the perception seems to be that nobody in their right mind would be a part of a Church that does A, B, or C, as if it was some kind of club. They don’t seem to understand that I didn’t join the Church because of those things; I joined because of what it’s all about–Jesus, the Body of Christ, the truth. The other things are only clouds that can distract me from my true purpose of growing in holiness. They are all real problems that need attention but in the end will all fade to nothing in the light of His glory. I try to keep my eyes on that prize and focus on the good and the beautiful.

  • JCAF

    I converted from Judaism 10 years ago, after being fascinated by Catholicism as a child and having many Catholic friends and family members. Catholicism changed my life and changed me, forever, because through the Church, I learned who Jesus Christ was, what he stood for, and what he taught the world about how to live and respect God. Nobody does it better. He was a brilliant man, even if people have a hard time believing he was God, and people should read the Gospels for the message. It is beautiful, peaceful, loving, and intelligent. My eyes have always been open to the faults and deficiencies of the Church–the same ones that affect ALL of humanity. Rather than leave the Church, I say we STAY, call out the hypocrites, have zero tolerance for serious sin (we may forgive, but we must protect the innocent), and always speak the truth. That’s what Jesus would have done. I am presently reading God’s Bankers by Gerald Posner. It’s a tough read. I am less about the Church 10 years later and more about Jesus, but I love Pope Benedict for introducing me to the word “Christocentric” and I love Pope Francis for reminding the world to get back to living like Christ and also showing us by his own actions. One of the first books on Catholicism I ever read was by Frances O’Malley, a priest, who wrote that the Pope, the Church, were like his father–he did not always agree with him, but he loved him and respected him. The fact that the Church has survived all these years, through all the sins and mistakes, is comforting. I am proud to be part of a group that is clearly made up of sinners, as I myself had plenty to repent for when I joined, and I was welcomed and I healed. We should always remain Christocentric and openly but respectfully challenge doctrine, dogma, hypocrisy, lies and bad behavior. We must not forget all the good the Church has done or that it can always do better.

  • Joan

    This essay is really beautiful. I am deeply moved, seriously.

  • tpaine1

    As I read through these posts, I see mostly people, like myself, who finally figured out it’s not “all about me” and never has been. Ah, the freedom, peace and serenity that turning your life over to God brings.
    I love the quote out of the Nicene Creed: “one Holy Catholic and Apostolic church.”
    As sinners “we want what we want,” but “most of us don’t know what we really want and none of us knows what’s best for us.”
    God’s truth about us as His creation is as relevant now as it was 8,000 years ago. God and nature’s law don’t change. Our species just keeps making the same mistakes over and over again.
    We have a simple “guide to life” that few bother to read any more, let alone contemplate. It’s called the Bible. Go and read about yourself in those pages.

  • Faustina11

    Amen! St Peter, pray for us.

  • Lisa Mladinich
  • Geraldine Duddleston Young

    Explore Church History and you discover the Church has always had its share of scandals. That does not make her faith any less true, just shows that men are sinners. Thank you for this post.

  • Tweck

    Thank you. This is wonderful.