Friday, April 27, 2007

Catholics, Catholicism, and Belief

I've never met a Catholic or heard tell of a Catholic that actually believed Official Catholic Doctrine. Too many Catholics identify themselves as Catholic but then explain that they don't accept this or that belief. During three years in Poland, I met Catholics who did not believe in God, but believed in the Virgin Mary. Or Catholics who would have no truck with the resurrection. And from what I've seen of American Catholics there is a love-hate relationship with the Catholic Church: they hate & disagree with various parts of Official Church Doctrine, but insist on sacraments, masses, etc.

My hunch is that the bottom-line in Roman Catholicism is the individual Catholics relationship to the Church: as long as tithes, baptisms, first communions, and all are faithfully carried out, and the proper respect shown to the Church and its institutions, a great deal of latitude will be granted. From what I understand, it is rather difficult to be excommunicated.

What this means is that Roman Catholics are much freer, at least in principle, with respect to belief. I think the ties to ancient paganism are easier to see in Roman Catholicism: as long as the proper rituals are observed and no deities are blasphemed, it is possible to remain a Roman Catholic. There isn't the same emphasis on uniformity of belief as in most protestant sects, especially in American Evangelical Christianity.

I know that it was the Roman Catholics who invented the Inquisition and have all sorts of wacky Doctrines. My big point is that it is possible to be a Roman Catholic in all good conscience and still hold to beliefs that have substantial differences from Standard Roman Catholic Teachings. This is because the point of emphasis in Roman Catholicism is the Roman Catholic Church, and not direct access to Truth of Doctrine as in Protestantism.

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