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Doug Rees wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was baptized a Catholic when I was about 9 months old, but was not brought up in the Catholic faith. I returned to the faith, went through RCIA, was confirmed, and received Holy Communion when I was in my 40's. Recently, I have been troubled by many questions. They involve many issues, but the fundamental question behind all of them is this:

  • How much assent is required to the dogmas and doctrines of the Church for a person to
    "be a Catholic"?

There are many who want to attack the Catholic Church, but I am not one of them. I truly love the Church, and believe with all my heart in its essential mission but, for better or worse, I was born with an independent mind, and I cannot shut it off.

If that is needed for me to "be a Catholic", then the Church is asking from me something I cannot give, because I don't have it to give.


  { How much assent is required to the Church's dogmas and doctrines "to be a Catholic"? }

Mike replied:

Hi Doug,

Thanks for the question.

You can find that answer, and many others, in our knowledge base.

Feel free to search it for an instant answer to your questions.

One of my back-up helpers, Richard has dealt specifically with your question in the past.
Here are some related postings that should give you a better understand of religious assent:

This area of the Catechism from "The teaching office" on down should help too.

Having questions is good, very good. It shows you care about all aspects of life: on earth and there after. If you think your overall knowledge of the Church is weak, I would pick up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read it, a section at time. Like the Scriptures, if you sit down and plan to read from Genesis to Revelation in one sitting, you'll be disappointed.

You said:
I was born with an independent mind, and I cannot shut it off.

If that is needed for me to "be a Catholic", then the Church is asking from me something I cannot give, because I don't have it to give.

My colleagues may wish to comment on this but here is my two cents:

Faith, either on secular issues or religious issues requires a dependence.

e.g. How do we know that the earth rotates around the sun, when everything we've physically
experienced with our senses tells us, the sun is rotating around the earth?

We have faith in men, who we never knew, but were knowledgeable in the sciences, to demonstrate this. Our faith, our dependence, is in those scientists.

We are also biologically dependent seeing that without our father, mother and God Himself, consummating their marriage, we would not be here today.

The first case speaks to issues dealing with the earth; the second case deals with issues beyond our earthly existence. You can't said the second case deals with earthly issues because then you would have to explain:

  • who created the way the body functions
  • why certain couples cannot conceive and have a child on their own, which there are many, and
  • the soul, which everyone has, even those that deny they have one : )
  • I guess my question is, if we can trust other men, who we never knew to tell us what was right about the earth, and if we can depend on our parents to explain how we were brought into our current life (a loving event we never saw), why can't we trust the Church Jesus founded on St. Peter to explain those topics that partially or completely deal with the supernatural life?

I guess it comes down to asking ourselves:

  • Do we really believe Jesus is True God, who can neither deceive, nor be deceived?
  • and if we do, why can't we trust the one Church He founded on St. Peter before ascending into Heaven?

If your just coming back, we welcome you with open arms!

If you don't have a prayer life, I'd also recommend developing one, no matter how small it is. Personally, I like the Rosary.

Just a few thoughts.


Doug replied:

Dear Mike,

Thank you very much for your reply, and for caring. Like "Andy D.", I cannot simply decide to believe something. But I can decide to take the matters of my disbelief to God in prayer and humility, and to better acquaint myself with the doctrines of the Church and the reasons for those doctrines. I am doing both.

Thanks again,

Doug Rees

Mike replied:


Any other questions Doug, just come back.

Take care,


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