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Your non-Catholic friends might be wondering how your faith works – apart from the standard practices known to everyone, let’s assume they have a few things they can get wrong.
Religion is a significant part of society. It greatly influenced our way of life, even before the colonial periods. People have been praying to pagan gods for blessings and abundance. People who do not have any particular religion, or have not been exposed to it, have many thoughts or glimpses about what different major sects offer. Especially the way they think about Catholics.
And this poses many questions in their heads. From the way, we have unfamiliar religious rites, priests, and clergy with different ranks, mainly headed by the Pope, which they see as the ultimate leader of the Catholic Church. Your non-Catholic friends might also wonder why we believe in miracles and Mother Mary, along with the saints, statues, and rosaries we bring wherever we go. And they might see them often when they come to our homes clad with religious décor.
A large boom of interest and intrigue in the Catholic faith heightened when the Da Vinci Code film came out. It sensationalized the Catholic faith successfully, making known our mysterious and secretive practices inside the Church. But at the same time, this film created a tremendous amount of misconception and false teachings about what Catholicism is all about and brought false stereotypes about the faith. Even the media is a massive contributor to these myths that we will debunk today.
1 – The Pope Is Never Wrong
The myth that the Pope was always right was rooted in the doctrine of ‘Papal Infallibility.’ Although if you are a Catholic, make no mistake – this is not synonymous with being perfect, impeccable, or flawless against sinning. After all, the Pope is just like any other normal human being and is a sinner like us who constantly needs to ask for God’s forgiveness. Bramwell’s book about Catholic theology can teach you more if you want to know about the ‘Papal Infallibility.’
Even Pope Francis admitted that he confesses every two weeks and continues to acknowledge that he is a sinner. We can hold the Pope in high regard due to his leadership position in the Church, but even within the faith, we must be fully aware that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
2 – The Catholic Church Is Homophobic
This is false. The Church welcomes all groups of people from all walks of life, including gay people. Jesus gave us the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that type of radical love should have no room for hatred and discrimination. The Church’s Catechism teaches us that gay people must be embraced with open arms and given the same amount of respect, compassion, and empathy; the way we extend these to people who do not share the same faith as us. However, the Church makes a clear distinction between sexual lifestyle and homosexuality.
3 – The Church Abhors Sex
Let’s make this clear – the Church doesn’t object to sex. The Bible affirms that sex is a blessing from God only reserved for married couples. Even the Song of Songs contains detailed accounts of the beauty of sex between a man and his wife. It is similar to the love of Christ towards the Church. In the eyes of the Church, sex isn’t simply a physical act between two people. The Church looks at sex as a consummation approved by God that should be expressed exclusively within the context of marriage. Lovemaking itself is procreative and binding, which reinforces intimacy and long-lasting commitment.
Many people might think the Church is too stingy and conservative about sex. Contrary to popular belief that the Church is restrictive about sex, it is simply upholding God’s excellent design of such acts and preserving it within marriage that leads a good path in God’s eyes.
4 – Mary Is Considered Equal To God
The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin returns to the early Church. Marian’s devotion may be considered unique because there’s a separate group of devotees for the Virgin Mary. But it is only because praying to the Blessed Mother of God essentially centers on the person of Christ and His mysteries. Our belief in Mary is entirely based on how we have complete faith in Christ.
A simple way to make non-Catholics understand our relationship with Mary is this – it’s a matter of imitating and emulating her openness and acceptance of God’s will without hesitation. Her notable role in God’s salvation plan allows us to participate in His divine grace.
We must decode several other misconceptions about the Church to make non-Catholics understand that it’s not just about bizarre practices and stoic traditions. The Church is like any other Bible-believing religion with a few highly distinctive yet unique nuances among different faiths.