Catholic... mostly
January 30, 2004 4:40 AM   Subscribe

Suppose you're Catholic, but you don't trust in the Vatican and you don't believe in transubstantiation. What does that make you?
posted by eamondaly to Religion & Philosophy (47 answers total)
 
Catholic < -------o------------------------------------------------->Not a Catholic
posted by seanyboy at 4:44 AM on January 30, 2004


I'd say it makes you not a Catholic. From what I understand (I was raised Catholic) the two big things about Catholisism are transubstantiation and the infallability of the Pope. That and the knuckle draggers who were my teachers in school insisted that "Just mention you're Catholic and looking for a local church and you'll get discounts on hotels and stuff"
posted by substrate at 4:53 AM on January 30, 2004


Pretty normal, I think.
posted by yerfatma at 4:58 AM on January 30, 2004


Not to complicate the issue, but where do I suppose I stand on contraception? The reason I ask is, if I don't believe in transubstantiation it strikes me that I'm fairly rational, and likely to go in for contraception too...

In any case, my fairly harsh answer would be "not Catholic", but also, more reasonably, "in the same boat as 95% of all the other Catholics in the developed world".

Regardless of where that leaves me on the Catholicism scale, it leaves me toward the reasonable end of the what sort of human I am.
posted by nthdegx at 4:59 AM on January 30, 2004


p.s. IANAC...
posted by nthdegx at 5:00 AM on January 30, 2004


The infallibility of the pope thing is actually quite modern. They only introduced it in the middle of the 19th century, though backdated it.

And if you don't trust Rome: Pope Pius XII's infallible definition regarding the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, there is attached these words, "Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith."
posted by biffa at 5:02 AM on January 30, 2004


It makes you like every single Catholic I've ever known : >
(And i've always thought that Catholicism should develop a Reform strand, like us Jews did--you guys don't have the options you need to stay with it without believing every single thing people made up)

Isn't "Lapsed" the proper term?
posted by amberglow at 5:07 AM on January 30, 2004


Personally, I think that set of exceptions makes one "Not Catholic". So are there other religions that fill the gap? Can anyone point to a summary or a checklist that shows the differences between the various Christian religions?
posted by eamondaly at 5:18 AM on January 30, 2004


I would only use "Lapsed" to describe a [former] Catholic who no longer goes to Church. If eamondaly still goes to Church regularly, I don't think he's lapsed.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:18 AM on January 30, 2004


ahhh, thanks DevilsAdvocate--apt username for this thread? ; >
posted by amberglow at 5:24 AM on January 30, 2004


Try this chart.
posted by nthdegx at 5:27 AM on January 30, 2004


It makes you Anglican (or Episcopalian, if you prefer). Those are the two important differences which separate the churches. Anglicans officially don't know what to think about transubstantiation.
posted by bonehead at 5:54 AM on January 30, 2004


A guy I knew referred to himself as a "cafeteria Catholic" - meaning he took what he liked from the religion and left the rest. Seems like a useful term to me.
posted by orange swan at 6:07 AM on January 30, 2004


Your two thing you don't believe in (as somebody already pointed out) are two of the most central components of Catholicism, and I don't mean any offense, but not believing in those probably doesn't technically make you Catholic. As, Orange pointed out, there is the term "cafeteria Catholic" which I've heard quite often. The difference between that and not being Catholic, though, is a "cafateria Catholic" still believes in the dogma (core beliefs) of the Church but chooses to have differences on some issues, namely that of morality (such as contraception, abortion, etc). Lastly, I always associated the term "lapsed" with those who still believe in the dogmas of the Church, but don't actively practice their faith.
posted by jmd82 at 6:22 AM on January 30, 2004


Having grown up in a Catholic country, Catholicism is almost 100% about obedience, believing certain things, and not picking and choosing the parts you're comfortable with. There's nothing free floating about catholicism. It's not a philosophical position, it's an allegiance.
(note: IAMNAC)
My guess is, eamondaly, you're a christian, not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by signal at 6:33 AM on January 30, 2004


What bonehead said. However, it's useful to know that not every stance/statement from the Vatican is considered infallible. Only when he is speaking "ex cathedra" -- which can be either reiterating a long-time teaching, or breaking new ground -- is the doctrine/teaching considered infallible. Ex cathedra pronouncements are a HUGE deal. Since the doctrine of infallibility was adopted, only one ex cathedra teaching has been issued, that relating to the assumption of the Virgin Mary. The papal positions on homosexuality, abortion, contraception...none are infallible pronouncements, and Catholics may personally hold contrary positions without risking excommunication.

Transubstantiation, though...whew. You better get into line on that one or look for another club to join.

(I am a Catholic, but not a theologian.)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:36 AM on January 30, 2004


Transubstantiation, explained.

My g/f is pretty much in the same boat as you, eamondaly. She hasn't quite made up her mind on what to do yet, though.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:06 AM on January 30, 2004


eamon daly , is the question referring to yourself or someone else ?

i'd like a bit more detail as to why you dont personally trust the vatican or believe in transubstantiation , because you wouldnt want anyone to start accusing you of trolling now , would you ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:31 AM on January 30, 2004


maybe the acid test is - faced with this question, who do you ask?

if you ask your priest, you're still a catholic. if you ask a bunch of strangers on the internet you're probably the spawn of the devil.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:44 AM on January 30, 2004


I don't see what the point of trolling would be, but yes, I'm primarily thinking of my own belief system. And nthdegx, that chart is an excellent jumping-off point-- thanks!

As an aside, I'm thoroughly annoyed that I didn't work "TestiFi" in the FFP somewhere.
posted by eamondaly at 7:52 AM on January 30, 2004


U might want 2 read Why Am A Catholic by Garry Wills.
posted by donth at 7:53 AM on January 30, 2004


In any case, my fairly harsh answer would be "not Catholic", but also, more reasonably, "in the same boat as 95% of all the other Catholics in the developed world".

I suppose it raises the question: Is the Vatican Catholic? :-)
posted by oissubke at 7:56 AM on January 30, 2004


And i've always thought that Catholicism should develop a Reform strand

It did; it's called Protestantism. And if you don't believe in those two things, that's probably where you fall, theologically speaking. But I realize the emotional attachment to the church one grew up in makes that a hard divide to cross.
posted by languagehat at 8:16 AM on January 30, 2004


I used to be a Catholic. But then after 13 years of Catholic school, I abandoned it. College was a period of great exploration for me. Can't say what I am now, because I really don't know if I'm anything. Still trying to work that out.

A friend of mine is a Catholic priest. He explained to me that being a Catholic is about having faith in everything the Church teaches. You can't pick and choose. So, unless you're 100% with the Catholic Church, you're not a Catholic.

My suggestion is to do some research. Read about as many different religions as you can. See what really strikes a chord in you. You might find that you're not even remotely a Catholic (or a Christian for that matter). Besides, it never hurts to learn...
posted by MsVader at 8:17 AM on January 30, 2004


Take the What's Your Spiritual Type? test at beliefnet.com (a multi-faith e-community). I also used to be a Catholic and attended Catholic schools. Now, apparently, from taking the test, I'm a Unitarian Universalist.
posted by lola at 8:28 AM on January 30, 2004


A friend of mine is a Catholic priest. He explained to me that being a Catholic is about having faith in everything the Church teaches. You can't pick and choose. So, unless you're 100% with the Catholic Church, you're not a Catholic.

Though if you're not - and by this definition most people who self-identify as catholics probably aren't - they do appreciate if you can keep rolling up at the church and pitching in to the collection box.
posted by biffa at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2004


A friend of mine is a Catholic priest. He explained to me that being a Catholic is about having faith in everything the Church teaches. You can't pick and choose. So, unless you're 100% with the Catholic Church, you're not a Catholic.

At the same time, it's important to keep in mind the message of a sermon I heard several years ago (it was the Sunday after Easter, and the gospel story was Doubting Thomas): "Doubt is not the opposite of faith; disbelief is the opposite of faith." (And yes, this was a Catholic priest.) So when you say you don't believe in transsubstantiation, you might ask yourself if you mean that you doubt transsubstantiation, or if you absolutely reject transsubstantiation. If it's the former, I think you can still be Catholic if you want to. If it's the latter, I'd say you're probably not Catholic.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:44 AM on January 30, 2004


If you believe in consubstantiation you might be Lutheran. This point was one of the things that kept the Lutherans from re-uniting with the (Catholic) Church during the Counter-Reformation.

And being Catholic, I think DevilsAdvocate is right on Church teaching with the whole faith/doubt/rejection idea.
posted by donnagirl at 8:53 AM on January 30, 2004


Actually, I think it's the Belief-O-Matic quiz that tells you your compatability. I've taken it several times and wind up as a 100% match for Unitarian Universalists, and a 98% match for Secular Humanists.

Many UUs like to joke that there are lots of people in other denominations that are UUs, but they just don't know it.
posted by Irontom at 8:58 AM on January 30, 2004


Oh, and I love the Belief-O-Matic disclaimer: "Warning: Belief-O-Maticâ„¢ assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul."
posted by Irontom at 9:03 AM on January 30, 2004


How does someone bring themselves to believe in transubstantiation?
posted by xmutex at 9:41 AM on January 30, 2004


Xmutex, you either accept it or you don't. It's faith.

Sometimes helps if your parents bought it.
posted by ascullion at 9:48 AM on January 30, 2004


I guess there is faith in things that logic cannot prove and then there is faith in things that logic expressly disproves.

Not to derail. I'll go away now.
posted by xmutex at 10:06 AM on January 30, 2004


As a Catholic, you're probably used to the Nicene Creed as your statement of faith, typically recited at each mass. (Some people call it the Apostles' Creed, but it isn't.)

The real Catholic creed would seem to be that of Pope Pius IV drafted at the Council of Trent to define the Catholic faith against Protestantism. This is where all the really interesting stuff crops up.

How much of the Trentine creed is still held verbatim by the faithful is something I cannot tell you, as I left the Catholic faith the day I was confirmed (no, I wasn't dramatic about it - was a deal with my father that I could leave with no familial ill-will if I lasted til confirmation). I'd be interested to know if any Catholics use the Trentine or something akin (and not the Nicene) during mass.

Ironically, I am now contracted as a liturgical musician by my childhood church, but I deal with that with good humor. You'd think I'd know more about Catholicism as by virtue of my employment, I'm about as church-going as a priest, but I approach it all from a musical standpoint now.
posted by Sangre Azul at 10:28 AM on January 30, 2004


I think it's a question of who owns the word Catholic. If I want to call myself a Catholic (I don't) who can say I'm wrong? Is it up to the pope? Various priests and scholars among whom there is sure to be disagreement? Furthermore, religions change over the years and centuries even if some of its adherents deny it. The only reasonable way to decide who is what seems to be to either have a group which people can join, be refused, or be kicked out of by a governing body or to just agree that everybody has the right to identify themselves however they want.
posted by callmejay at 10:39 AM on January 30, 2004


On further review of one of my links, it would seem that the Nicene is indeed the only Creed recited in the Catholic mass. The other creed descriptions are interesting to read, as some of the them are used (and considered authoritative) by the Protestants and Anglicans.
posted by Sangre Azul at 10:41 AM on January 30, 2004


On further review of one of my links, it would seem that the Nicene is indeed the only Creed recited in the Catholic mass.

That's funny, because I seem to remember once in a great while reciting the Apostle's Creed in place of the Nicene Creed--I was under the impression that the priest could use either one at his discretion, just that in practice the Nicene Creed was almost always used. I could be mistaken though.

I think it's a question of who owns the word Catholic. If I want to call myself a Catholic (I don't) who can say I'm wrong?

Yes, but that's treading dangerously close to sophistry. I can call myself a large hunk of Havarti cheese, but that doesn't make it so.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:55 AM on January 30, 2004


callmejay: Catholicism owns the word Catholic; the Vatican does. It's an expressed system of dogma. The word is understood by the masses to mean a more or less specific thing.

The meaning of words is of course an ultimately private thing but is better understood as a public domain thing as words are used to communicate between people.

You're also free to call yourself a toboggan or a windshield but you might get funny looks.
posted by xmutex at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2004


I agree with callmejoy. I am Catholic. Yet, I don't follow the Catholic teachings because i'm Catholic. Its moreso after questioning my faith many times, that my beliefs still fall in line with Catholicism. Being called or considered a Catholic (or any group of religious people) means nothing on its own. Its how you act out that faith that matters.
posted by jmd82 at 11:02 AM on January 30, 2004


Transubstantiation? I'm just here for the bingo.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:42 AM on January 30, 2004


FWIW, there are many people who consider me to still be Catholic because I was baptised & confirmed, and have not been excommunicated or converted to another religion. (And my working for a Catholic church only confuses the issue for them.) Never mind our wide depature of fundamental beliefs. It's like I've been branded for life or something... thankfully, this attitude is becoming rare, but I still encounter it.
posted by Sangre Azul at 12:03 PM on January 30, 2004


I have been goin to Catholic school (preschool-now) for 16-17 years. Now that I've counted it makes me seem like a priest. If you're confirmed you're not unCatholic unless the church excommunicates you. I'm having trouble accessing The Straight Dope, but there's an article on what do to get yourself an excommunication, basically it has to be really really bad, or an abortion.

Also I think the number one cause of a secular society. When you're a little kid you eat the Jesus stuff up, then like about 10 years into my education it's like "Er, uhm, you're kidding right?" which goes into "Oh yeah, ok sure whatever you say so I can get an A in this class"
posted by geoff. at 12:09 PM on January 30, 2004


Also I think the number one cause of a secular society.

I'm assuming you mean going to Catholic schools is the number one cause for a secular society, to which I would have to disagree (from what I've seen adn experienced). I, too, have gone to Catholic schools forever. In my experience, a vast majority of Catholics from private schools remain practicing as compared to public schools. I really think that the administration makes a huge difference in how many craddle Catholics remain as such...ie, if they allow for real dialogue and chances (not forced) to partake in Catholic practices versus not being allowed to speak your opinion and forced to go to Mass every week or whatnot.
posted by jmd82 at 12:43 PM on January 30, 2004


Suppose you're Catholic, but you don't trust in the Vatican and you don't believe in transubstantiation. What does that make you?

Episcopalian [US] or Anglican [UK]. Try diet Catholicism--it's Pope-free! No offense
posted by kirkaracha at 12:48 PM on January 30, 2004


Suppose you're Catholic, but you don't trust in the Vatican and you don't believe in transubstantiation. What does that make you?

honest.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:24 PM on January 30, 2004


Do you want to stick with the Roman Catholic church? Do you have strong family and community ties? Can you go to Mass, accept communion and feel right with God and yourself? Then start reading more about these issues so you understand what the church has to say. I think you'll find there are many who consider themselves Catholic who don't accept all the church's teachings.

12 years of Catholic school (that's a lot of plaid) and now I'm a Quaker in spirit.
posted by theora55 at 9:18 PM on January 30, 2004


... if they allow for real dialogue and chances (not forced) to partake in Catholic practices versus not being allowed to speak your opinion and forced to go to Mass every week or whatnot.

jmd82 - was your Catholic school like this? Because mine certainly was not. We were forced to go to mass at least once a month during school time (and of course expected to go every Sunday). Any questioning of the faith was squelched before it could turn into a real dialogue. And the last thing you wanted to do was enrage the nuns who were known to throw books and desks even if provoked. This doesn't exactly create an atmosphere that you feel good about and want to remain in for the rest of your life.
posted by MsVader at 10:23 PM on January 30, 2004


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