I often find myself wondering why certain people call themselves “Catholic.” While I am not referring to any one individual at the moment, I will on occasion hear someone who I know to be Catholic make a statement that is at odds with Church teaching. Or, I am sure we have all heard of politicians and other public figures who claim to be Catholic, yet support policies that are decidedly against Church teaching and doctrine.
It seems to me that to make a statement such as “I am a Catholic” must have some meaning we can all agree on, or should be able to agree. To state that one belongs to a particular religion would imply that one accepts the ideas, ideals, teachings, doctrine, etc. put forth by that religion. Anyone claiming to be Catholic, or any other religion for that matter, has an obligation to understand what it means.
When did it become acceptable to claim belief in a particular faith, only to disregard that faith in one’s life? Yes, I know that no human is perfect, and I have plenty of faults to work on. But a Catholic should always be striving towards the ideal of imitating Christ in everything. How do we know how to imitate Christ? That is why we have the Church here on earth. The Pope and the Magesterium are our guides in understanding the teachings of Christ and how to apply them to our daily lives.
Professing to be a member of the Catholic Church carries some responsibility. It carries the responsibility to educate oneself on the teachings of the Church; yes, even after one is an adult. It carries the responsibility to strive towards following God’s Will in everything we do. It does not mean we can pick and choose which teachings we like. It does not mean we can decide to disregard doctrine because it is inconvenient. Jesus said it would be difficult to follow Him.
I see a tendency in educated people to feel that they are intelligent enough to decide these issues for themselves . They are essentially saying that they know better than over 2,000 years worth of theologians, popes, saints, and countless others who have gone before, not to mention God Himself, the Original Source. I sincerely doubt they give even an hour’s thought to some of these issues, yet they seem to believe that they know all.
Anyone who feels this way is not Catholic. To be Catholic is to submit oneself to the Will of God, as professed through the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Pope is not randomly imposing his ideas on the people of the Church. He is guided by the Holy Spirit to lead the members of the Church so they may all have a chance to gain Heaven. He is much better educated on the whys and wherefores of Church teaching than any of us are, and he has an incredible array of advisors who have all studied their specialties for their entire lives. How can so many people think they know better what the Church SHOULD teach?
I just think that claiming to be a member of a Church or religion should mean that you adhere to the teachings of that religion, that you accept the entirety of the religion’s doctrines, that you agree with the statements of the creed. I don’t understand why people would remain in a religion with whose doctrines they disagree.
Copyright 2007 Cynthia Brandolini