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Top 10 Modern Myths About the Catholic Church

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Sep. 19, 2012

By: Marcel JeJune
Texas A & M University, Aggie Catholic

When I decided to write this list, I thought about how it has changed, even in the past ten years. If I were to write this list 10 years ago, it would probably include these items:

  • Catholics worship Mary.
  • Catholics believe non-Catholics are going to hell.
  • Catholics believe the Pope cannot sin.
  • Purgatory no longer is a Catholic doctrine.
  • Catholics were told not to read the Bible.
  • etc.

But, none of those appear on this list for today. This is because the modern person’s knowledge about Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, is worse than it was 10 years ago. This means modern people are more secular in their thinking and thus the myths have evolved. Without further commentary I give you:

Top 10 Modern Myths About the Catholic Church

10 - The Catholic Church is anti-woman and misogynistic.
This myth has deep roots. Certainly there are men in the Church’s history who may have been misogynistic, but the Church itself has never been. In fact, the biggest defender today of women’s basic human rights is the Catholic Church.

9 - A large number of priests are perverts and/or pedophiles.
This just doesn’t have any support in the numbers. At worst, the numbers are about 4% of priests can be credibly linked to abuse (this is still WAY too high). But, the priesthood itself isn’t full of predators or perverts. By comparison teachers could be as high as 5% or more. This is in no way defending any priest if they did something wrong, but rather a busting of a myth.

8 - Celibacy is the cause of the priestly scandals.
Again, the numbers don’t bear this myth. If this were the case, then we should see a much lower rate of abuse in non-celibate ministers. We don’t. In fact, it could be higher in others. How a marriage would solve a psychological issue of wanting to abuse children is beyond me.

7 - Catholics don’t think for themselves.
The basic idea is that we should never try to rely on any external authority. Rather, we need to make up truth “for ourselves”. No, we don’t make up the truth. It is above and beyond our opinions. But, we do need to seek it out and work to find it. Having an adult faith means we have to know it, but we should always examine it and test it - as St. Paul says, “Test everything; retain what is good.” 1 Thes 5:21

6 - The Church is homophobic and encourages discrimination against gays.
While not accepting any kind of sinful behavior as ok (from anyone), there is no evidence of this myth’s veracity. I will let the Catechism answer this one:

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

5 - The Church doesn’t allow abortion and contraception so that there are more people they can control.
This is from those that see the Catholic Church only in terms of power (as they define it). So, they can’t believe that the moral reasons for opposing these issues makes sense, rather they make the irrational claim that it is all about making more Catholics. No, it is actually about doing the right thing. Read more here and here if you doubt.

4 - The Catholic Church is anti-sex.
Actually, the Catholic Church is pro-sex, when sex is for the proper purposes and is between a married man and woman. Sex can be beautiful and wonderful. In fact, it can be sacred. That doesn’t sound “anti” to me.

3 - The Catholic Church supports immigration for everyone because they know most of the immigrants come from Catholic countries and the Bishops want their money.
First of all, the immigration issue doesn’t have a “one-size fits all” mentality with the US Bishops. Second, this is a distraction from the real problem - justice on both sides of the borders of the USA. The US Bishops do not condone breaking the law or violating anyone’s human rights. How that works in concrete political policy is for us, the laity, to figure out.

2 - The Catholic faith and science are not compatible. 
Another distraction. The Catholic Church’s priests and laity have furthered science, not held it back. There are a number of Catholic scientists who are the founders of their area of expertise: Mineralogy, Modern Chemistry, Modern Algebra, Atomic Theory, Astronomy, and more. If you want to know the full story, I recommend this book.

1 - The Catholic faith is stuck in the past and needs to be updated to reach the modern world.
If this were the case, then we should also see significant growth in Protestant denominations that have gone down this path - Episcopalians, ELCA Lutherans, etc. But, it is the opposite, they are losing numbers rapidly. Rather, the truth attracts and the truth never changes.