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This page contains the stories of just a few 'recovering Catholics.' I picked up this expression from a friend, a former Roman Catholic, who now attends a Protestant seminary. It seems to fit! While the stress of breaking from Rome is much less than that of leaving, say, the Jehovah's Witnesses, former Roman Catholics have a story to tell, and I encouraged them to tell it here. Unless otherwise noted, the names are real. In all cases, I have their written input and permission to back-up what is written here.
Another reason for this page is to show there are common 'threads' of events and experiences shared by many former Roman Catholics. Some of those 'threads' exist among the majority of practicing Catholics as well.
When a Protestant wishes to withdraw from his or her local church or denomination, they are able to withdraw, or resign with no difficulty; there are procedures in place for it. Pity the poor Roman Catholic on learning that there is simply no place, no procedure, no way to depart in a forthright and honest manner!
No. Rome won't LET you leave! Of course she does have a procedure by which to throw you out! It is called excommunication. Excommunication takes more than one form. If you happen to be a well-known public figure, and you take a public stand against her, Rome will issue a formal excommunication order. For the rank-and-file (that's most of us), excommunication is a de facto event attached, automatically, to certain actions and, believe it or not, to certain beliefs you happen to hold. Doubt it? Check the latest edition of the Catechism of The Catholic Church!
What's the evidence that Rome refuses to let you depart in peace and honesty? Read it here:
|Q. 1161 Is a Catholic always a Catholic?
Yes, once a Catholic a person always remains a Catholic One cannot cease to be a Catholic because, once baptized, he cannot be un-baptized. The seal of baptism continues in this life and endures into eternity.
The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism, copyright ©1981 by John A. Hardon, S.J., and bearing the Imprimi Potest, the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur, the official marks of the Roman Catholic Church that indicate a book accurately portrays Roman Catholic doctrine, and is therefore suitable reading for the Roman Catholic person.
And all along I thought that one was baptized into Christ!(1) At least that is what the Bible says! But in the church of Rome you don't get baptized in Christ you get baptized into Rome. You become, not a Christian, but a Catholic. Don't blame me, folks; this is the official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church.
I know of no other church that denies its members the right to leave in a formal manner. Why does Rome do this? Well, for one thing, it does help her when it comes to declaring how many 'members' she has. She readily quotes her inflated statistics to 'prove' how large she is. When a person joins Rome, he or she is added to the roles. When you leave, nada! As far as Rome is concerned you are still there! Go figure!
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Because the Roman Catholic Church mis-directs people from God and Jesus Christ to Mary, a peculiar transposition occurs. God, instead of being shown as caring and loving, is portrayed instead as a stern, angry judge vis-a-vis Mary as the caring, loving 'mediator of salvation.' It is a rare Catholic child (and often adults too) who does not schlepp along expecting a bolt of lightning to strike him/her dead because they have committed a 'mortal sin' and have not yet gotten to confession. The Biblical idea that they can go directly to God for forgiveness never occurs to the fear-driven Catholic mind because their church withheld that little fact from them.
With such lies drilled into Catholic minds from infancy, it is no wonder that the average Roman Catholic lives one of two manners of life. If he or she is content to commit intellectual suicide, it is a life of smug self-complacency, in which they believe themselves 'saved' because they are members of the one true church. That is, to the typical Catholic mind, salvation means obedience to an organization (the same is true of the Jehovah's Witnesses).
For those Catholics who choose to think and question, it becomes a life of fear. They have been taught to fear God, to fear the Church, to fear the confessional, to fear questioning an infallible authority, to fear the use of their own God-given powers of thought and reason.
As you read these true-life stories, notice how often the subject of fear occurs. If you are a Roman Catholic, and especially if you were formally educated by the priests and nuns, you will easily recognize this truth. If you are not a Roman Catholic, you may be stunned that such a thing could be true. Believe it! While you, as, say, a Protestant, can easily disagree with your denomination and transfer your membership to another church, understand that the questioning Roman Catholic does not have your freedom - at least not yet. Where you can switch churches so easily, it often takes years of agony for the typical Roman Catholic to do the same thing.
If you read the Bible you quickly see that God makes no such distinction among sins as they relate to salvation. According to the Bible, all sin separates us from God and makes us unworthy of Heaven. According to Rome, you can commit all the venial sins you want and still go to Heaven. Since Rome's teaching caters to our all too human nature (i.e., our desire to sin and get away with it), this false concept is readily accepted by the typical Catholic person.
Because I deal with this topic at length in another part of this site, I won't go into details here. I merely want you to notice how these stories generally agree that Rome trains its children to believe that there are only a few really 'bad' sins they can commit. It is of interest to notice that none of these people mention the sin of murder. I suspect this is because the respondents to my survey were thinking, as they had been educated by Rome, primarily of sins that they could, or would commit. Since none of them would consider murder, their replies included those sins emphasized by their teachers.
What are those 'biggie' sins? They are, in order of frequency:
1. Anything to do with sex.
2. Missing Mass.
3. Taking communion without first going to confession.
All other sins, regardless of seriousness, pale to insignificance, at least in the minds and teachings of Roman Catholic priests, nuns and other educators. The overwhelming emphasis on sin is in the area of sex, and of not obeying the rules of the organization. The result of such warped teaching is evident in the stories you are about to read.
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There were always doubts/questions in the back of my mind stemming from the fact that my father left the church and my mother no longer practiced. They did try to make sure I got to Sunday mass, even though they didn't go themselves. I did not really pay attention to it, or give it much thought until much, much later in my life. I guess I drifted away without ever realizing it. When it came time to leave once and for all, it was pretty easy: no one seemed to care anyhow.
At the end of the classes, one of the priests visited and said a mass. I remember thinking that I knew what to say better than the priest. He kept on fumbling the words, as he was reading from his book (not the Bible). Also, he was unenthusiastic, and in my opinion, downright bored. It was just routine and he did not care about what he was saying. He could not even muster up anything different to say or show any feelings. I remember thinking that I could have done a better job. This thought stayed with me and bothered me for a very long time. At first I chalked it up to a bad day for him.
After attending a few other masses, I came to the conclusion that it was all meaningless pomp and circumstance. Sit, stand, kneel, say this, say that, stand etc. The only thing different between masses was a 5 minute sermon. Most of those I liked to hear.
For years I didn't do anything about how I thought. I continued to go to church only for weddings, christenings and funerals.
I attended a Catholic grammar school and a Catholic High School too. That's where I got most of my Catholic training, or was it indoctrination? I remember that taking communion without confession was a big deal. My teachers (mostly nuns) seemed overly concerned about sex and sexual issues. We were, after all, only elementary school children! I think that their attention to issues like sex is not proper at that age level. We were just kids! Sure, we had our crushes, but we weren't thinking about sex. We were taught about modesty. Maybe that was also too much because I remember having an unhealthy attitude about my body.
I cannot remember any consistent "classroom" religion classes in elementary school, although we were brought into the church to learn the stations of the cross and some other things, and there was a big drill before confirmation where we had to memorize a series of answers to questions. I don't recall anyone being very concerned if I understood things or not. All that was important was to know the questions and answers. They didn't call it 'catechism,' but that's what it makes me think of.
The first time I recall picking up a religious book, it was the Good News For Modern Man, New Testament. That was in high school. We read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, with not much discussion, mostly reading and instruction. No one ever asked what you thought in those classes. You just sat there, listened and took notes. I know that they offered some other classes for seniors which dealt with other faiths, but I was not there long enough to take them. When my father and mother got divorced there wasn't enough money for private schools, so I had to transfer to a public high school.
Although I was not required to do so, I went to a couple of CCD(2)
classes when I was in High School. I did not own a bible and I do not recall ever using one in CCD. They studied from other books instead. At the time I didn't think much about it.
I wandered in sort of a spiritual vacuum for many years. I thought at first that they (churches/other denominations) were all the same. Just big political organizations trading sin for cash. It never occurred to me to check out a Protestant Church because I had learned somewhere along the line in my Catholic upbringing that Protestants were CRAZY, the ENEMY (they still believe that). Once, I approached the doors of a Protestant Church and turned around because I thought someone might see me. I was truly afraid, but did not know why.
The vacuum began at age 16, but I actually made "the decision" when I was 26, right after I got married. Being Catholic to me was akin to a nationality. It was just something someone was. I knew there was a difference between Catholics, Jews and Jehovah Witnesses. I didn't know any Jews or Witnesses to compare. Had I met any, I would have probably not become close to them. They were also the enemy and they were not to be believed.
I cant say exactly what caused me to move to a Christian Church. I had gone through a lot of hard times and was blessed with a father who counseled me gently (at one time his council was crushing!). I had accepted Jesus in my fathers home many years earlier, but I did not fellowship or learn any more. All along I wanted to go to Church, but kept on putting it off. I wanted to impress my father and I wanted him to believe in me.
These were the wrong reasons and that's maybe why I didn't make it, because I wasn't looking for a personal relationship for ME. One other reason that I held back was because I felt unworthy. I felt that God knew what I was up to and that I was a phony. I thought it was wrong and selfish to pray for myself in times of need, when I didn't worship Him all the time, consistently. I admired my father and I knew that his relationship with Jesus was the most important relationship in his life. I saw what prayer and his walk with Jesus had done for him.
I was not embarrassed or afraid. After I verbally accepted Jesus (for the second time in my life!), Pastor Dave said something like, "Well, there was no hesitation there!" I went back to my seat and cried through the rest of the service. I was so happy, so touched! And so it was that I joined a Christian church in August of 1997 at the age of 34.
These unbiblical things I understand are still part of the Roman Catholic Church, based on my conversations with Catholics. I have not been in a Catholic church for over a year, so I do not know of any recent changes. I should check them out now and then, but I really don't want to waste my time. Also, I am afraid that I might yell out something offensive and get thrown out! I do want to talk to a priest one day. I have a lot of questions for him. I am kind of frightened because I don't know if I am ready for a beating. I need more strength. Is that silly or what? But I know where it came from! That kind of fear was drummed into my by the nuns in school.
I really believe that it is important to know the Bible. Yes, it is essential. I had a Roman Catholic accuse me (and other Christians/Protestants) of worshiping the Bible, not Jesus. Do you believe that?! I had to laugh! They seem to think that because I love and trust the Word of God that I worship the book its written in.
In my opinion the Roman Catholic church and Protestantism are completely different. Coming together for a common goal like protesting abortions, to me, does not mean becoming one in the same mind and spirit. There are also other groups, not specifically identified as religious that join with Christians and Catholics in a common goal. Are there differences there? I believe so.
I also believe that the Catholic Church will put on any number of masks that they have tucked away in the "mask closet", whichever is in their best interest at the time. I think the Roman Catholic Church is a self serving bunch of hypocrites, at lest as far as the leaders are concerned. I feel sorry for the Catholic congregation. Most are brainwashed (as was I) and have no idea what is it that they believe in. Rome opposing homosexuality? I guess in the eyes of Rome, the secular world and the priesthood are to live by different rules. Now isn't that an original thought!!
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One memory that ever remains is the time when the parish priest took us boys aside for 'a little talk.' My childhood innocense was shattered by his lecture (there was no discussion at all) on the evils of sex. Until that class, I had honestly believed that an 'ejaculation' was a quick prayer offered up to God. At least that was what the good sisters always said. All of a sudden I found it had a different meaning, a frightening meaning which the priest only hinted at... leaving us to fill in the blanks. I came away knowing it had something to do with girls and sex and something called masturbation, another new and undefined word to me. When the priest described it as 'playing with yourself,' I began to get the picture.
It was a new picture to me, and most of the other boys as well. We talked about it at recess and on the walk home after school. Thanks to the priest we were introduced to the fun of masturbation, something most of us had never even thought about before. As best I can remember, the only really big, serious sins were going to communion without first going to confession, and anything having to do with sex. My teachers seemed preoccupied by it. Also, I was forbidden to so much as enter a Protestant church under pain of mortal sin (that is, I would go to hell if I did it.)
I once attended a Catholic weekend retreat. It was during World War II. We arrived on a Friday afternoon. Come suppertime, out came platters heaped with filet mignons! The priest quickly announced that he had obtained a 'dispensation' from the no-meat-on-Friday rule of Rome. This only confirmed an earlier observation that the Catholic Church has two sets of rules one for us, one for themselves. As a Catholic school student I had many opportunities to help out around the rectory and convent. Both received weekly deliveries of food from SS Pierce, the most expensive source for the very best of foods. I also observed on occasional Fridays how the rectory housekeeper would be cooking roasts and meatloafs for the priest's supper. I guess the parish priests also managed to get a 'dispensation' from the rules.
All of this happened while we, the average people, stood in line for hours, ration book in hand, to get a pound of sugar, or a pound of cheap meat which, if we ate it on Friday, we were condemned to hell if we died before getting to confession. This duplicity by the priests really angered me!
I should say here that, several years earlier I had traded in some 'green stamps' for a Catholic bible at the redemption store ( I'm dating myself!). While I knew I was forbidden to read it on my own, I felt compelled to find out what God had to say. I had read through it as quickly as possible and marked things I wanted to learn more about. It was during that time of reading the Bible that I discovered nary a word about birth control. After four children I was really glad that God didn't seem to have an opinion like the church did.
Well, the priest told me about a fellow named Onan that God struck dead because he ejaculated outside his wife's vagina instead of inside. That, according to the priest, was proof that sex was for making babies, not for intimacy and definitely not just for fun! At the time I had become resentful that a celibate priest, a celibate pope could have the chutzpah to come into my home, my bedroom, and tell me how to behave. How could they possibly know or understand what it is to be married, to struggle to house, clothe, feed, educate and raise a family? I was beginning to wonder if the Protestants didn't have a better deal with their clergy. At least they were (mostly) married with families themselves!
Still operating under the mountain of fear that the priests and nuns had burned into my mind, I swallowed my resentment and asked him to show me the story. He could not remember where it was. I found it amazing that a Priest didn't seem to know much about the Bible. I had been taught that the Church was founded on the Bible, so who should know more about it than a priest? I filed that observation away for future reference. Later, I learned that most priests know very little about the Bible, short of a few passages selected out of context to support some of Rome's doctrines.
I went home to look up the story of this Onan fellow. It was hard work! I knew nothing of Bible study aids such as concordances and lexicons, so I had to start at Genesis 1:1 and read straight through, looking for the name Onan.
When I finally found it I studied it very carefully. I wondered why God had picked on Onan. Certainly he was not the first man to practice coitus interruptus! What was so special about Onan that God went out of His way to waste him and not the tens of thousands like him?
I was surprised to find that God did not kill Onan just because of how he performed sex with his wife! Instead, I found that God killed Onan because Onan had violated one of His laws, called the 'levirate law on marriage.' According to that law, a man was obliged to take a dead brother's wife and raise up children from her in his brother's name. Onan did what he did because he wanted his property and goods to pass on to his own children, in his own name.
The priest had lied to me! He had deliberately taken one verse of Scripture out of its context and used it to 'prove' the Church's position. In one fell swoop I discovered that Rome was deceiving me about the Word of God. If it could do that with one passage, what was to stop it from doing the same thing with other passages? So we decided 'to hell with the church in this matter! This is our life after all.' It was plain that the church was wrong, so we let the Word of God prevail. Little did I realize how I was following in the footsteps of others in time past, others who ended up leading a revolution that split the Church of Rome asunder some five hundred years ago.
I really did try to find answers within the church. I sought the help of several priests, including one Jesuit teacher, and read the available literature. But real answers were not to be found. In then end, it came down to one thing: 'believe it because we tell you!' Some reason! As more and more contradictions appeared between what Rome teaches and what the Bible teaches, the very weight of it finally overcame the incredible fear that Rome had instilled in me since childhood. One fateful Sunday morning I chose to leave the Church of Rome. That was nearly thirty years ago. And while I often look back, I never went back. I have no desire to trade my freedom in Christ for the bondage of Rome.
Rome continues to teach un-Biblical doctrines such a papal infallibility, the worship of Mary, the use of a celibate clergy and nuns (and they really use the nuns as an obedient, unpaid labor force!), the confession of sins to a priest, and the existence of Purgatory (which, in effect, denies the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ).
I have researched the practices of Rome, only to discover that many of her Traditions and practices came, not from God or the Bible, but from the ancient pagan religions. I have heard or read some authors who say that the pope is the antichrist. I don't believe this. But I do believe he is an antichrist. Why? Because his teachings lead people away from the Christ of the Bible, and not to Him. They substitute Mary as redeemer, tell people to worship before statues of Mary and the saints, pray to the dead (again, Mary and the saints), and all manner of things condemned by the Word of God.
Others call Rome 'the Whore of Babylon.' I agree. If you read the book of Revelation (called the Apocalypse in the Catholic Bible) you can't help but recognize that passages referring to 'the Whore of Babylon' accurately describe the Roman Catholic Church, right down to her physical location in Rome. In the Bible, the term 'whore' usually refers to apostate religion condemned by God. Since the Roman Catholic Church bears greater resemblance to the old pagan mystery religions than it does to the Bible, I believe the appellation is suitable.
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When it came to the spiritual side of my training, my teachers focused on sexual sins, and sins against the Church, such as heresy, and questioning the Pope's authority.
To leave the Catholic Church would be like rejecting one's own family. My family and friends were Catholic. I was very involved in Catholic ministry with my husband. My children were part of the CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) program. My son was an altar boy in the parish church.
My biggest concern was what would this do to my marriage?! My husband and I believed God's plan for marriage called for us to be 'one.' My husband did not share this calling to leave the Catholic church, and I did not want to do anything that would jeopardize our marriage.
I decided to get up early every morning before anyone else, and to pray and seek God's counsel. After a period of six months, God led me out of the Catholic Church. Within a matter of months, without any big fanfare, God also led my husband out also.
My decision to leave the Catholic Church was something between God and me. The questions I had about dogmas and doctrines were secondary to the call of God to leave the church.
At the time I was seriously thinking of leaving the Catholic Church, my husband and I were attending a weekly Bible study. A Jesuit Theologian was part of the group. The more I listened to and questioned him concerning doctrine and dogma, the more I knew I had to leave the Catholic Church.
I did talk to people about my decision to leave. I sought the counsel of priests, theologians, and older Catholic lay people. They were knowledgeable about facts, but lacked a personal relationship with Christ. Its sad to say, but most of the older Catholic people I consulted didn't even want to hear my questions!
Knowing that church was very important, I looked for another church to go to. I called the '700 Club' for some direction. This led me to the Christian Church of Norwood (now called the Living Waters Church), a nearby town. My husband and I now attend the Brockton Foursquare Gospel Church, which is also a Pentecostal Church.
I believe that there are Roman Catholics who have accepted the Lord and are saved. Sadly, I believe that most Catholics are not saved. We need to tell them about salvation through faith in Christ alone.
I believe that an emphasis on accurate Biblical doctrine is essential to our faith. I was fortunate to have been saved without knowing a lot of Biblical doctrine. That was perhaps a sovereign act of God, who can do anything. But I think that good doctrine should be given to Catholic people so they can see the difference between Rome and the Bible.
I know there is a lot of talk about there being 'common ground' between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches. But there are still major differences, such as the worship of Mary, Papal authority, the priesthood and its requirement of celibacy. These things are major, so I don't see how we can agree on them.
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1.Romans 6: 3-5; Galatians 3: 27-29. Just two of the Scriptures that prove we are baptized in Christ, not into an organization! This false Roman Catholic practice is identical to that of the Jehovah's Witnesses, where members are baptized into the Watchtower organization, not in Christ. But at least the Watchtower will let you leave if you so desire!
2.CCD = Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. That's a misleading name. It wasn't Christian doctrine, but Catholic doctrine that is taught there.