Catholic Beliefs I Took for Granted

Back in March, I was having a thrilling conversation with Culture Monk and making him late for his next café visit. Our conversation touched on Catholicism, which I may have referred to as cult-like. I come from an intense Catholic family. After some thought, I’ve realized that it wasn’t Catholicism that made me feel trapped so much as the pressure my family put on me to be the perfect Catholic girl. While the religion still has it’s faults, it’s actually quite liberal when compared to other Christian religions.

For starters, Catholics believe evolution is compatible with creation. This is a belief I have held for a long time but I never thought of where I got it from. I don’t remember evolution ever being a big controversy when I was in Catholic school. What I do remember, however, is a homily where the priest explained there is no time in heaven. As such, a day to God could be a billion years to us.

What do Catholics believe? I thought I’d give you more than childhood memories and visit for this one.

“Concerning biological evolution, the Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. However, it says that, if they did develop, then they did so under the impetus and guidance of God, and their ultimate creation must be ascribed to him.

Concerning human evolution, the Church has a more definite teaching. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul.”

This photo, “Catholic Cathedral” is copyright (c) 2014 Brian Burger and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

A second interesting fact is something I learned from my uncle, who happens to be a Catholic priest. Somehow, we got on the topic of the Apocalypse and the book of Revelation. He told me Revelation isn’t about the end of our world, it’s about the end of the writer’s world. Specifically, it foretells the end of the Roman Empire. As such, you won’t find a Catholic ranting about how they’ve cracked the code of Revelation and know the date the world will end.

That isn’t to say Catholics don’t believe in the end of the world. They certainly do. Jesus will come again and raise the righteous to heaven. The key, though, is that we don’t know when this will happen. There is no way we can possibly know when the world will end, which is why many Catholic homilies focus on how one should always be ready.

Having dwelled upon these two Catholic beliefs for a few days, I find I have much more respect for the religion. While it’s certainly not perfect, at least it makes a point to try and accept proven scientific theories.

I know, even when it comes to things like homosexuality, they’re not completely crazy. Catholics accept that being gay isn’t a choice but they still believe two people of the same gender engaging in sexual relations is wrong. My Catholic friends have used the phrase ‘hate the sin, not the sinner’ to describe their stance on homosexuality. The belief is that those who are anything but straight have had different temptations placed before them which they are meant to resists and/or overcome.

You won’t catch me saying I agree with that outlook, but I give Catholicism points for accepting that some people aren’t straight.

There are a number of reasons why I am no longer Catholic and, oddly enough, none of them have to do with Catholic school or my family life. No, instead it has to do with my personal relationship with Divinity and my own spiritual growth. That’s a blog for another day, though.

What I really mean to point out here is that the extreme Christian views that often make big news stories are not shared among all of Christianity. All religions deserve a certain amount of respect, in my opinion. I really don’t have a problem so long as people don’t try to force their religion on to me.

What is your opinion of Catholicism? Did any of these beliefs surprise you?  Why can religion be so damaging when taken to an extreme? 


72 thoughts on “Catholic Beliefs I Took for Granted”

  1. Thank you for posting. As a practicing Catholic I constantly feel we are completely misunderstood. I was once on a flight reading one of the “Left Behind” books as I enjoyed it as a piece of fiction. The woman seated next to me started talking about being a christian and was so excited to be sitting next to me, ect.. At some point I mentioned I was Catholic and she just recoiled, and she looked at me and said Catholic’s aren’t Christians. I chuckled for a bit and pointed out Catholicism is the original Christian faith. What followed was a conversation about the bible and the differences and risks of taking the bible literally. I was taught the bible and in particular the new testament is to serve as a guide of how to life your life. When it was written it was done so with the belief that Christ would return in their life time and the risks of taking it too literally.

    1. I had a friend in college who, even when I was practicing, still seemed way more into the religion than I was. She tried to join some college Christian groups but soon quit because they would look down on her for being Catholic or tell her she was going to hell. She doesn’t even like being considered a Christian anymore. She says she’s Catholic first and no long as any desire to be associated with Christianity (that is, the group of people that fall under that label)

      1. I find it ironic that so many “christians” look down on others that makes them so unchristian, defeating the point.

  2. Hi TK,
    As a strong Catholic—I actually just got home from Mass—I appreciate that you were on Catholicism’s side concerning scientific issues and our view on homosexuality. I’m sorry to hear that you don’t practice Catholicism any more, however. I’ll be praying for you 🙂 You say that your reasons for leaving the Catholic Church revolve around personal commitments and stances in regards to spiritual growth, but Catholicism is meant for everyone. It’s God’s way of life for all people. Typically, most people detach themselves from the way of the Church based on the fact that there is a lack of comprehension with the Church’s teachings, or more importantly, a lack of ZEAL that is incorporated into someone’s personal life. Catholicism is a way of life; that being said, everyone leads slightly different lives from each other. While you can’t morph the teachings of the Catholic Church–which, by the way, are indeed perfect concerning faith and morality–you can still practice the religion in your own way. For instance, some people like to practice the faith in a more modern fashion, focusing on God’s goodness, praising him loudly, and, to be short, being a “fool for Christ”. Others, on the other hand, prefer a more solemn approach, such as a quiet, and rather distant, prayerful life. Despite what you might think, you really desire Jesus, and the fullest way you can receive Him is through the Catholic Church. This is true, even if you don’t know it; it’s like if I said I didn’t want anyone to love me. I would want people to love me, even if I didn’t know it. To tie this together, I ask you to consider that perhaps you haven’t found the way in which you feel most comfortable praising God in the Catholic Church, which offers the closest unity you could possibly want with God on Earth. Develop your own style, which you might argue you have already done, of leading a holy life, but set afire this style by allowing it to exist in the soul-enriching power of the Catholic Church. Once again, I will be praying for you. Thanks for the post!

    1. There are certain beliefs that Catholic church holds that I can’t get behind, so I doubt I will ever go back. The whole journey is a long story, but the thing that finally made me decide to leave was went I lost that spiritual connection. Some Catholics are all about going through the motions. They go to mass, say their prayers and go through ceremonies, but that’s it. It becomes more about the traditions than about developing a spiritual connection. Once I realized I couldn’t foster that connection, I was done.

      I am happy you enjoyed my post ^_^

      1. Well, as it turns out, there are some beliefs that you WON’T be able to get behind. Take, for instance, the Holy Trinity. There are three persons in one God…it doesn’t really make sense. Not even the pope could explain it to you. A mystery is something that we know a little bit about, but not everything. Don’t be discouraged by the mysteries of the Catholic Church; God is beyond our understanding, and we must accept this.
        In regards to your spiritual connection, I’m POSITIVE you can find it. Some Catholics, unfortunately, do indeed just go through the motions of living their faith, and while tradition is important, you’re right; a spiritual connection is what really brings the zeal into being Catholic. And without zeal, what keeps you from remaining a Catholic, or at least a strong one? The spiritual connection you seek isn’t impossible to find; it may be lost, but it’s there. Certain ideas, and certain attitudes, can keep us from really feeling the spiritual connection we desire. Take an outside view of yourself. I really ask you to reconsider Catholicism. Believe me, once you find what you’re looking for, you won’t want to let it go. The important thing is that you seek to find it. And once you find it, please live it…
        Wow, that really sounded like the end of my post, “Meet Terren”….haha 🙂
        With the love Saint John Paul II declares as “Love as Goodwill”, I want you to be happy, so that’s why I’m telling you all of this 🙂

        1. The Holy Trinity is not a problem for me. It has more to do with certain societal beliefs which I disagree with.

          I feel closer to God now than I ever did.

          1. I see. But feeling close to Him doesn’t mean that you love Him. Love is not a feeling; it’s a choice; an action; a decision. A man that feels attracted to a woman, but feels no obligation to listen to her when she’s upset, or doesn’t care when he hurts her, doesn’t love her. Feeling close to God is obviously a very good thing, but your love for Him, on the other hand, can only be denoted by your obedience to Him. We are called to live by the rules and truths God has given to us, not the ones we create ourselves. I understand that after adopting a way of living separate from the teachings or demands–which are only demands meant to show one’s love for God–set by the Church, you would hold a lack of interest in what I’m saying. Nonetheless, loving God is more important than feeling close to God; we won’t be judged by the emotional satisfaction we feel with God on the Last Day, but rather what we did to show our love for Him. Once again, I ask you to consider fulfilling the lifestyle the Church sets as a means of showing your love for God. There is Scriptural evidence that acts are more important than feelings when it comes to loving God.
            And once again, I’m only saying this because I want you to find truth and happiness…like I do for all people.
            P.S. What societal beliefs do you disagree with?

            1. Here’s the thing. I don’t think there is one single truth. We are all called to our own paths and we all find our own truths through our own spiritual relationship with Divinity. It’s not something someone else can tell we. We find it through our own journey. I have found mine and I am happy right where I am.

              1. I can’t say I expected to change your mind via a blog conversation 🙂 I understand what you are feeling, but I can’t agree with you. It’s good that you have found your own spiritual relationship, I just recommend you unite that relationship with the Catholic Church. To close, I’d just like to mention that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and you aren’t going to get any closer to Him on Earth than actually receiving him into your body. Thanks for a very open discussion!

        2. ”once you find what you’re looking for, you won’t want to let it go.”

          I rest my case… belief fills the void of knowledge, and when the knowledge appears, like Tom Campbell’s Big Theory of Everything, you won’t want to let your false belief go. When you find out that Jesus is mythically the sun as depicted in numerous stories before the latest jesus invention. you won’t want to believe it. Belief is a closing of the mind. It has caused more harm to mankind than any other invention in history (wars, inquisitions, genocide, pedophilia) and is still harmful to our spiritual growth. Why put another human on a pedestal when it comes the nature of reality and believe his doctrine? The answer, like the ‘kingdom of god’, is within you. Self actualization and Intuitive gnosis beats belief hands down.

          1. I meant that when TK finds what she’s looking for, she’ll recognize, not just believe, but recognize how good it is. Belief’s have caused many problems for the world, but that’s because not all beliefs are truth. There’s a fine line between what you believe and what is reality. Why put another human on a pedestal? Jesus is God, not just a human 🙂

            1. Humans are God. We are One Self, we have not reached our higher self in this density, but when we do we will find that god is within us and we with in It, co-creating equally because we are One. I am. Jesus is the sun btw. It amazes me that this is not common knowledge yet.

  3. “He told me Revelation isn’t about the end of our world, it’s about the end of the writer’s world.”
    Really? That’s an interesting perspective. I wasn’t aware that was the settled teaching on that. I thought Revelation was understood to probably be about the end of the world, but with such complex imagery that it’s really there more for meditating on than predicting the end of the world. Also, as far as whether any person can predict the end of the world, Jesus’s statement of “No man knows the day or the hour” trumps everything.
    But other than that one, no – none of the other Catholic things surprised me. Catholicism as an institution is much more logically cohesive than its usually given credit for.
    “Why can religion be so damaging when taken to an extreme?”
    I don’t think the issue is religion, specifically. I think the issue is the intersection of a fallen human nature and ideology. G.K. Chesterton famously said, “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” That’s how it’s supposed to be.
    But the type of people that are going to use / abuse / hurt other people will latch on to anything to use as an excuse, whether that’s atheist Communism (religion must be eradicated!) or Catholicism (the Bible says homosexuality is a SIN! Get thee behind me, Satan!), or fundamentalist Christianity (Catholics are the whores of Babylon! Get thee behind me, Satan!), or most famously in current events – Islam (death to the infidels!).

    1. I forget where, but I saw a comment on the internet that noted the one commonality among most regions: kindness and love. They said, wouldn’t it be great if religion, taken to an extreme, resulted in extreme love and extreme kindness?

      Yeah, religion is most just used as an excuse for wrong doing. The Bible, like many holy books, can be interpreted in many ways and people just don’t get that. Too many have a ‘my way or the highway’ opinion when it comes to religion.

  4. the Church changes it’s views all the time, usually 20-50 years behind what everyone else believes. It’s when church membership seems threatened that they change their views. In the distant past they’d rewrite the scriptures to make the new views God’s word. I have no patience for religion, I only like the mythology and mystical side that is usually hidden from the masses. Exoteric stories have no place in my life. But as for others, whatever floats their boat. 🙂

    1. I’d be interested to see a citation for the Church intentionally rewriting scripture for any reason. There is a lot of evidence of mistakes and mistranslations, which the Catholic Church and Protestants have diligently pursued and documented. Most Bibles will have footnotes indicating areas in which such discrepancies occur, so that the reader has full disclosure on the most current understanding of the text. However, these instances were not purposeful.

      I can imagine some go-to “scriptural changes” you might cite in response to my question, but I am hesitant to mention them. Every one I can think of is a case of misinterpretation (sometimes intentionally. Intellectual dishonesty is rampant among conspiracy theorists).

      The fact is that the Catholic Church never changes its doctrine. They hold true to everything that Christ taught. What does change are called “ecclesiastical disciplines,” which are the ways in which the Church instructs us to practice our faith. I believe “don’t eat meat on Fridays” is an example of one.

      Of course the Church would make adjustments to these as times change. In fact, I don’t see why you wouldn’t welcome and encourage such changes, as it shows the Church’s willingness to adapt, or rethink their position. However, while a Priest may face the tabernacle in one instance, or face the congregation in another, what never changes is that the Eucharist is a necessary and irreplaceable part of Catholic doctrine. There is no conspiracy here.

      1. Your sources are all mainstream Christians. It’s is historical fact that scripture was changed after Constantine invented this religious cult that was plagiarized from pagan beliefs. Reincarnation was left out, the Goddess removed, there quite possibly were no Christians before the 4th century. there is proof of a group called Chrestians, meaning the Good Ones. You might perhaps fear the truth, or maybe your beliefs are being mistaken as truths. This is why I’m anti-religion. It’s a fear based cult full of false beliefs and intentional lies. Dogma is man made, not god’s words. If you want sources they are readily available, but I don’t think you really want to read them, you need an open mind and religious people don’t have open minds, they have beliefs. If it feels right to you, go for it. I want gnosis and truth myself.;id=10;url=http%3A%2F%2Fnazirene%2Eorg%2Fcorruption%2Ehtm

        1. If my sources are a priori invalid because they come from theologians (which is an astonishing claim), I do not see why your sources are not equally invalid because they come from conspiracy theorists. However, both notions would be logical fallacies, so I will entertain your sources.

          Obviously a lot of time went into these websites, and I cannot debunk everything in this one post, but I will call to attention some warning signs that should alert others that these are not reliable sources.

          For starters, you claim that Christianity is a Roman invention, and yet several of these sources use writings from pre-Constantine Christians (or “Chrestians” if you simply must believe that) in order to make the equally ludicrous case that Jesus never existed at all. I don’t know who you think these early Christians were, but they wrote quite a bit about early Christian beliefs, and the Catholic Church uses that material in its own teachings to this day.

          The Rational Wiki tries its best to dissect the “historical Jesus” case here [1], and they are unable to summon that curiously absolute certainty that comes from your sources. It seems they are in agreement that none of Christ’s miracles can be proven, which is fine, but all of this “Christ didn’t exist”/”Christians didn’t exist”/”It’s all a Vatican lie” is not even close to substantiated. This being an atheist source, one would expect better results… if the truth were so readily available as your sources claim.

          Another example: rationalrevolution goes on a wild goose chase about the dispute between the translation of Isaiah from the Septuagint vis-a-vis Mary being a virgin. One translation says “young woman,” the other says “virgin.” Supposedly the “adjustment” to make it say “virgin” is essential to the Catholic Church’s Mariology. And yet the latest Catholic Bible uses the “young woman” variant. The fact is, the Church doesn’t care either way. Both translations have no bearing on the Church’s teaching.

          These red herrings run rampant through all of your sources, and without close examination can give the impression of a mountain of legitimate evidence, when they are really just an artfully complex mixture of logical fallacies and psychological games: cherry-picking, hasty generalizations, confirmation bias, double-think, and many others. It is ironic, because that is what they claim the rest of us are doing when we study history and religion with a bit more intellectual rigor.

          I see all the same behaviors and tricks when I read blogs “shedding light” on: the illuminati; the concave earth theory; 9/11; chemtrails; fake moon landings, etc.

          Painting a vivid, cohesive narrative at the surface is not enough to make these theories true, when the underlying “facts” are being finagled like square pegs in circular holes. You are deeply entrenched in the matrix, I fear. If we built a time machine and discovered that Christ never existed, I would change my beliefs. If we discovered that your Goddess mythology had no historical relevance – that your matriarchies never existed as you imagine them [2] – I suspect you’d assume the time machine was a psyop.

          [2] certainly matriarchal societies did exist, but the influential status afforded them by your literature is not based on historical fact, but on wishful thinking. It’s not easy to look this up, because most historians don’t view it as even remotely credible, but here is at least one discussion of the topic:

    2. I’ve noticed that change. I do like that aspect of it. Some things need to changed. That’s why there’s a Vatican II now. I wish the church would catch up with the times a little quicker usually, but at least it grows in how it addresses it’s beliefs.

      I don’t know much about rewriting the Bible, although there are many different translations, even in the same language. Ideas can be lost if things are translated properly.

  5. I found your uncle’s information about Revelations interesting. I wasn’t raised Catholic, however my husband, who now tends toward Buddhist philosophies, and my best friend, now an adherer of New Age beliefs, were. I was raised a Methodist and sort of loved the fact that church never got too serious. I don’t mean that it was a laugh-fest. It just never got too hell-fire and brimstone, or controlling. I think any religion taken to the extreme will cause either strict adherence or complete rejection–both of which are sure to bring misery to those involved.
    This was a thoughtful and interesting post! 🙂

    1. I’ve attended a Methodist service. When I was young, I LOVED bible school. I went to everyone I could, which included a Catholic one, as well as Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist. I remember thinking the Methodist service was really cool with how happy the atmosphere seemed to be, but I also remember my dad commenting that he didn’t like it. I think he thought it was too laid back.

      1. I loved going to Bible school when I was a kid, too. I went to the one at my church and then one at my friend’s. Bible school instantly makes me think of the Kool-Aid and cookies that we always had for snacks! Once I was older, I helped with the nursery class–that was fun.
        My grandmother attended a Pentecostal church. I went with her sometimes and it was quite a change from my laid-back Methodist upbringing! Speaking in tongues, dancing, rolling in the aisles; it was an experience!

    1. Yeah, I encountered a number of surprisingly good ones growing up. You meet a lot of priests when your uncle is a priest.

      1. Well, that explains why you’ve met a lot of them! And yeah, the amazing pastoral leaders you find always have a great way of helping you understand something.

  6. Although historians and apologists will vary in their analysis of Catholicism, it can be agreed that there have been periods in which the Church was out of control. Thankfully, now is not one of those times, and their renewed dedication to charity and social justice is inspiring.
    Catholicism has always been a very rationally-minded faith, and it is quite internally consistent. Not only does the Catholic Church accept the theory of evolution, there was never a time where the Catholic Church taught to reject it [1]. Many Catholics of the past have been polymaths, and the Catechism itself declares that science “is a precious resource,” and a “significant expression of man’s dominion over creation” [2].
    As a rule of thumb, I do not make any claims on behalf of the Church that are not supported directly by the Catechism, in order to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding (which you can see has arisen through your reference to Revelation). To remedy that, I think it will suffice to reference both the US Conference of Catholic Bishops [3], for a concise explanation on what the Church teaches, as well as the Catechism (which is somewhat more dense) [4].
    Referring back to internal consistency, I’d like to address your thoughts on homosexuality. It is true that the Catholic Church does not believe homosexuality is a sin [5]. What they believe is that marriage, as per Christ’s own definition [6], is between a man and a woman, therefore homosexuals cannot partake in a Christian marriage. Notice that Pope Frances, in recognizing the special status that governments award marriage, said that he can see the case for government awarding the same status to civil unions [7]. When you combine the belief that homosexuals cannot marry with the belief that premarital sex is sinful, you will find what the Catholic Church actually says: that homosexual ACTS are sinful (“intrinsically disordered”). Whether you agree or disagree with THAT claim depends on how seriously you take the Catholic Church’s remarkably well-researched and reasoned interpretation of Scripture.
    If you recognize the solemn deference to God that the Catholic Church holds, I don’t think anything would surprise you about the Church’s teachings. The only surprises would come if your image of God doesn’t align with scripture and Christian tradition, as might be the case for those who reform God in their own image. As for the negative consequences of religious extremism, you will find they are no different from the negative consequences of extremism in any form. Religion provides no special powers to the delusional: it simply gives them meaning. As would any cause for which extremists raise the banner.
    [6] Matthew 19:4-5

    1. I do think Catholicism is rational, especially in comparison with other Christian religions. Aside from that, the Bible can be interpreted in many different ways (which is why we have so many different Christian religions).

      1. It CAN be interpreted any way you want, but given that it is composed of 73 books written by different individuals at different times and for different audiences, anyone who takes to interpreting it without a wealth of background knowledge is unlikely to walk away correct. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have unrivaled claims to nearly 2000 years of study on the subject. Protestant sects, especially the more recent ones, do not.

        Thus, the differences in understanding between Catholic and Orthodox churches are almost entirely about theoretical matters, whereas the differences between Catholicism and most of Protestantism stem from ridiculous misunderstandings about the Bible, or refusal to consider non-Biblical texts as valid sources.

  7. I grew up Mormon and about half of Mormons believe in evolution in the way Catholics do and about half don’t. When the two Mormons were running for president — Romney and Huntsman — they were the only two in the primary debates who said they were for evolution.

    I suppose Catholics have learned from their experience with denying science& throwing scientists in jail, only to learn that the scientists were right.

    Really, Scripture should be for spiritual feeding, not a science book or a history book. If anything, that demeans sacred words.

    When I go to some of the great cathedrals I feel like I’m in sacred space and want to convert to Catholicism. I even really like about half of the theology– The progressive half. And then I remember the other half of it.

    Love the new Pope though!

    1. “I even really like about half of the theology– The progressive half. And then I remember the other half of it.”

      My opinion in a nutshell. There is a lot that is good about the Church, but a lot that isn’t. The problem is, as people move away because of that other half, they leave behind more extreme views, which cause the whole belief system to go down hill. I once sat in on a panel discussion about women in religion. They had a representative from each of the main faiths to talk about their views. That was how some of them saw it. While they all didn’t believe 100% in what their religions had to say, they did believe it could change for the better. But, if all the people with those better ideas leave, nothing will change. At some point, though, it just becomes too much. There are some things you just don’t want to associate yourself with.

    1. I’ve found my own balance. I think the most important aspect of any religion is the spiritual relationship with Divinity. Religion can’t define that relationship for me though. So, through my own growth in that relationship, I have found a balance.

  8. Good for you TK. That’s what it’s all about. Thank goodness you are so young. Some Catholic up bringings were much harsher than others. When I was in school in the forties and fifties, nuns dresssed like Muslims, but without the face coverings. Homosexuality and evolution was definitely sinful. There was mandatory confessions to a priest. Today things, are tolerated with “Understanding” and compassion, and the church has accepted what science has ‘proven’?. . . Get this and you can’t go wrong: How do you know that the things you take for granted as true, in all matters, not just religion are actually factually true.? #2. What makes the things you “Believe” . . . any more valid than anyone elses’ BELIEFS. In essence that’s is where you are at, and that is the road you have chosen. Well done. Your gift of Responsibility to your self and your courage will bring devine intuition to light your way.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. I religion is connected to so many personal aspects of our lives. All over the world, people are practicing their religions and holding tightly to their beliefs. Should they be condemned for holding on to what they believe just as much as I hold on to my own beliefs? Not only does that seem observed to me, it seems observed that a merciful God would take offense to that.

  9. I don’t think it’s religion that’s damaging when taken to the extreme. I think it’s the people that are damaging. Like another commenter pointed out, people use religion as an excuse to exude some sort of power over a person or people. Those people don’t want you to follow their religion. They want you to follow THEIR word. It makes me sick. It’s like Terrorism, or the issues surrounding the Middle East. They aren’t doing anything for the sake of their religion – They use it as a disguise for their ulterior motives, which is violence power and superiority over others. The true, nonviolent religions of the world don’t believe in any of the damaging garbage that’s gotten thrown at us since the times of reformation and inquisition. We are a selfish civilization. True spiritual humans don’t act like the filth we see all the time. The Kingdom of God is inside me – not in any other person, wall, stone building, or statue. And I have God in my heart – Only place it should be.

    I left Catholicism a long time ago. But I never left God. Great post, TK.

    1. All you say, is why I still respect religion. That is to say, I respect spirituality and the ability on the individual to choose what they believe in. The sad extremists we see on TV give all religions a bad name and it’s very unfortunate. I still think religion has the ability to do a lot of good in the world, but that bad reputation prevents a lot of people from having any sort of trust in certain religions.

  10. I grew up in a Lutheran environment. While it isn’t the same as Catholicism, I understand how you felt about being pressured to be a perfect follower of the religion. All that did was backfire and turn me away from it.

    Lately, I find myself slowly coming back to spirituality, but on my own terms. I have nothing against Jesus, but his fan club can be a little extreme.

  11. I am not, nor was I raised Catholic, but I do have the utmost respect for the Catholic religion just as I do for Judaism, Islam or any other religion. I have watched the Catholic Church become slightly more liberal over the years, with many things they have seemingly done it kicking and screaming, but they have done it. I find the current Pope, Francis to be an absolute breath of fresh air. He seems to be a great example of what Christianity and religion in general was meant to be…a beacon of hope and help for the masses. Interacting in a hands-on way with the people. For far too many years the Pope and those in the clergy surrounding him had an air of being unapproachable, but Pope Francis is giving every impression that this is not the way that things should be done. I hope that for the sake of the Catholic Church, that this progress will continue. Great post.

    1. I agree. In high school, I had a friend whose older sister got married to a Catholic man. His parents still followed Vatican I and refused to attend the wedding because the church used to condemn marrying outside the faith. I’m glad to see that kind of strictness fading away. I can’t say I agree with everything that has come out of Pope Francis’s mouth, but I do like that he’s trying to turn people’s attention to the poor and suffering. I know religion can do a lot of good and I’m thrilled this Pope is bringing attention to people who really need help.

  12. I’ve had to go through the same sort of “reconciliation” with Catholicism. I too come from a very Catholic upbringing, but am no longer Catholic. Another thing to point out about Catholicism is the belief in helping the less fortunate. There are many orders of the Catholic faith that dedicate their lives to helping the less fortunate and take a vow of poverty. I think that’s why you’ll find so many Catholics or ex-Catholics in fields such as teaching and social work.
    LIke your blog!

    1. I agree. It’s also why some of those Catholic groups, like a certain group of nuns that makes the news now and then, support things like the ACA contraception mandate. They are certainly not going to use it because of their faith and dedication to being a nun, but they know how contraception can reduce poverty and treat a myriad of conditions unrelated to birth control. They can see how it helps the less fortunate and they prioritize that over everything else. It’s a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a lot of that giving to the less fortunate reflected in Catholic congregations.

      Still, there’s no denying that Catholicism has a lot going for it.

  13. The catholic church thinks covering up for and enabling child rape is more consistent with it’s beliefs than contraception, abortion or evolution. Only in religion do you find such insanity.

    Bear in mind american catholics are very liberal, but that is because they tend to not follow catholicism too closely. The actual central church is very conservative. Which is part of why the new pope who is very liberal is driving everyone crazy. Atheists love him, catholics freak out whenever he opens his mouth.

    1. Yeah, that whole cover up thing was/is insane. I remember when that first broke out. A man in my home town had been hurt by a priest 30 years prior. He told his parents but they didn’t believe him. Then, when his parents had both passed away, he came out with it again. I remember when the bishop came to our church to talk about it and people were literally standing up and yelling at him. People were pissed. Hopefully they learned their lesson. Prayer is great for calming people down and general spiritual health, but it’s not going to heal the sick. It’s not going to stop a rapist from raping again. That whole ordeal was just beyond reason.

      As for contraception and abortion, I like that the current pope is directing people towards the millions of people who die from war and hunger in the world. He isn’t changing the churches stances on those issues, but he is saying they aren’t nearly as important as the current people who are alive and suffering. Evolution, as I mentioned, is something the Catholic church believes in.

      The fact that the congregations I was a part of didn’t follow many Catholic beliefs was one of the first things that started annoying me about the church. If you’re going to call yourself Catholic, it should be all or none. You can’t pick and choose your beliefs

  14. I also grew up in a Catholic elementary school. Luckily for me, we lived in a very liberal part of town and most of my teachers were responsible for very fond childhood memories. Two of my favourite teachers even encouraged me to read the Da Vinci Code and to think for myself.

    I’m more of a “spiritual-not-religious” person now and probably in the totally same position as you: I’m not not-Catholic because of a bad childhood, family, or the Church; I’m not-Catholic because I can’t really believe in an Abrahamic god anymore. I still kind of believe there’s something out there greater than us, but I think we as humans have to carve our own destiny and not let someone else to guide us.

    1. I really enjoyed my Catholic school too, minus the bullying. My favorite teachers were all in Catholic school. The whole institution was really laid back. I didn’t have a school uniform or anything. All of my teachers weren’t even Catholic.

      I think I’m where you are to as a “spiritual-non-religious” type. I’m very happy where I am now, but I still look around sometimes. I go back and forth on the Abrahamic God. I think that every religion is a little right but that Divinity is beyond our understanding so that even religion can’t adequately figure it out. I think all the world’s religions are attempting to define, worship and follow the same spiritual being. That’s why religion is so closely tied with culture – where you are born often defines what your religious beliefs will be and it’s just as important to use as our culture.

      Anyway, that’s super confusing…. but that’s where I am now.

  15. I really appreciated reading your thoughts! As a liberal Catholic (and a scientist), I sometimes explain these types of things to non-Catholics (like my husband). Just the other day I explained to a co-worker why the Church requests that other Christians not take communion during Mass–I don’t see it as a desire to exclude, but a request for respect of our differing belief in transubstantiation. At the same time I told her that no one would ever know if she did…
    I generally don’t discuss my faith with others, because it’s a very personal thing to me. But there are popular misunderstandings regarding lots of religions, and I like to clarify those when I can. Information is key to understanding and respect.

    1. What you say is very true. When it comes to things like communion, I see it as a respect thing. If you aren’t Catholic and are aware you shouldn’t take communion, you should respect the beliefs of that religion and not do it. It’s just like if I go to a church where I know women are supposed to wear a hat or hair covering. I may not personally believe that is required, but if I am going to walk into their church, I should respect their religion and wear a hat. It’s not about whether or not I think it’s right they require me to do that. It’s about having respect for other religions.

      Religion, along with sex and politics, is something you’re never really supposed to talk to people about. Unless you’re close to them, it never goes well. I, for one, think the world would be better if we could be open about those topics without getting into fights, but it seems where not quite there yet.

  16. I was raised Catholic, and went to Catholic schools, but as an adult I joined ISKCON (aka “The Hare Krishnas”.) You might be surprised how many former Catholics are among their members.

    There are a lot of things I admire about Catholicism, but for me it was like a jacket that just didn’t fit.

    I guess I needed one with four arms. 😀

    1. That’s really interesting. I know it’s not the same thing, but I’m really interested in Buddhism. I almost took a class on it in college. Really, I just like what the Dali Lama as to say about the world. He seems very wise and it seems like such a peaceful religion.

      “There are a lot of things I admire about Catholicism, but for me it was like a jacket that just didn’t fit.”

      That’s me. It’s not like I have a huge problem with it. It just isn’t right for me.

  17. It’s sad how some people don’t call Catholics Christians, because, as far as i know, a Christian is someone who believes in Christ and it has nothing to do with Catholicism or any other denomination.
    One thing i like about Catholics is that they’re really tolerant. It’s not because i’m catholic, but we do really accept people as they are.

    1. Crazy, right? I’m starting to realize, though, that there are a lot of Christian religions who think Catholics are going to hell. I don’t get it either.

  18. “What is your opinion of Catholicism? Did any of these beliefs surprise you? Why can religion be so damaging when taken to an extreme? ”

    I grew up totally protestant and heard that catholics are evil and going to hell. I have found myself to like modern catholics a lot more than protestants because they seem to have the guts to fight against abortion that the protestants lack.

    That being said, I think that the teachings of catholics and protestants are mostly false. I have not been able to find ONE thing that all christians can really agree on. That was why I gave up on identifying as christian long before I became atheist.

    1. You know my ideas on abortion, although I think we found we both want a similar world, we just see a different way to get there. My problem with Catholicism and abortion, like many other religions who rant against it, is that they too often treat pregnancy as punishment. It’s a hugely shameful thing. My father once told me he and my mother would probably get a divorce if I got pregnant in high school because they wouldn’t be able to agree on what to do. That’s mostly why I support choice when it comes to pregnancy. In a way, religions work against themselves by shaming and scaring women into having abortions.

      That said, while I find Catholic followers to be just as harsh against women who have children out of wedlock, I find Catholic priests, bishops, etc. are for more accepting. That is to say, they are likely to see the woman as no more of a sinner than anyone else and offer comfort and a helping hand. If only the congregations could follow suit.

      I see you’ve commented on many of my posts today. I have a feeling that, if we met IRL, we’d be good friends. ^_^

      1. True you are. The shame that these religions use often has a way of backfiring. What your father told you is terrible.

        Also, it makes no sense. Why would you parents divorce based on you getting pregnant? Shows how weak their marriage is.

        I too think that we really want the same thing and that we could be good friends.

        1. Well, on my mother’s side of the family, a number of aunts and cousins had children out of wedlock. My grandparents often helped take care of those children until their parents could manage the full job of parenting. My dad figured that’s what my mom would want and he would demand I give it up for adoption. He assumed they wouldn’t be able to see eye to eye on this issue and would get a divorce.

          I’m sure he was just trying to scare me… which is great. I mean, I’m still a female with sexual organs. All it made me do was create a plan to runaway if ever I got pregnant. I imagined I could run off and find a home for pregnant teenagers and somehow imagined such a place would house me without contacting my family. I’d return after 9 months.

          I never had sex in high school, but I was smart enough to be prepared.

    1. They believe in Genesis, of course, but they don’t ignore facts either. Theirs a term for it, but basically they believe in divinely guided evolution. Besides, it’s impossible to say Genesis is 100% true even if you ignore the fact those stories were passeddown verbally for generations before ever being written down. There are two creation stories in Genesis – one where humans are made first and one where they’re made last.

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