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J.P. wrote:

Dear fellow Catholics,

I was born into the Catholic faith and brought up as a Catholic all my life. I never knew that there was so much animosity and indifference between Catholics and Christians. All I knew about Christians growing up was that they didn't like the way the Church was being run so they left and started their own.

Things are now more complicated as I have had a girlfriend for the past two years. She is a Christian but does not believe I am a Christian because I do not follow their beliefs. I have told her many times that we consider ourselves Christians and we do believe in God and in Jesus as Our Saviour but this just falls on deaf ears. I have attended a few of the services she goes to regularly and I was overwhelmed by the difference and by just how much they see us as lost souls who will never enter Heaven. A few times I got irked by this pastor who keeps poking fun at our beliefs and practices when he himself was a former Catholic.

I myself am partly to blame as I have never been the overly religious type. Still I was brought up to know what was right from wrong and how sinning is bad and keeps us away from living a life pleasing to God and in following in Christ's footsteps.

I just want to tell my girlfriend that me being a Catholic should not bother her so much.

  • Why can't she accept me for the way I am?

I am confused if my relationship with her is still a blessing from God. I keep praying to Him to bless us both. I love my girlfriend and she loves me as well.

Help.

J.P.

  { Why can't she accept me as the Catholic Christian that I am and is our friendship still a blessing? }

Mike replied:

Dear J.P.,

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • Why can't she accept me for the way I am?

Because she accepts what her Protestant minister believes more than what you believe. Seeing your are the Catholic and her minister is obviously an uncatechized, former Catholic, I would
in charity ask her this question:

  • Why do you attend a congregation that distorts my faith and the faith of other practicing Catholic Christians, especially when:
    • your minister is not Catholic and
    • has great misperceptions about what we believe as Catholics?

What we would say is what St. Pacian of Barcelona said in the fourth century:
(On the AskACatholic home page)

On the origin of the word Catholic


But, under the Apostles, you will say, No one was called a Catholic.
Grant this to have been the fact; or suppose it to have been so.

  • When heresies, after the Apostles days, arose, and, under divers names, strove to tear and scatter piecemeal the dove of God, and His queen, did not the apostolic people require a peculiar name whereby to distinguish the unity of the people that had not been corrupted, for fear lest the error of a few might tear limb by limb the unstained virgin of God?
  • Was it not beseeming that the principal head should be designated by a suitable title?

Suppose I entered, this very day, into a populous city, and found there Marcionites, Apollinarists, Cataphrygians, Novatians, and others of the same sort, all calling themselves Christians.

  • By what name should I be able to recognize the congregation of my own people, were it not from its being called Catholic?

Come, tell me, you who bestowed so many names on the other peoples!

  • Why have so many cities, so many nations, each their own description?
  • The very man who calls in question the name Catholic, will he be ignorant of the cause of his own name, if I shall inquire its origin?
  • Whence was it delivered to me?

Assuredly, that which has stood during so many ages was not borrowed from man.

This name Catholic sounds not of Marcion, nor of Apelles, nor of Montanus, nor does it take heretics as its authors. . . . . Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. That names me, this describes me; by this I am approved; by that designated. And if at last we must give an account of the word Catholic, and express it, from the Greek, by a Latin interpretation, Catholic is everywhere one, or, as the more learned think, obedience in all the commandments of God. . . . Therefore he who is a Catholic, the same is obedient to what is right. He who is obedient, the same is a Christian, and thus the Catholic is a Christian.

Wherefore when our people are named Catholic, they are separated by this appellation from the [other] heretical names.

St. Pacian of Barcelona, (c.310-375 A.D.), bishop of Barcelona, Jerome praises his eloquence, learning, chastity, and holiness of life.

And the Catechism tell us in CCC 830:

Besides meaning universal, the word Catholic means according to the totality. So the Catholic Christian faith is the Christian faith according to its totality; meaning practicing Catholic Christians don't pick and choose what they believe, like dissenting Catholics or Protestants do.

We believe everything because this is what Jesus revealed to us to believe.

Share with her what the Early Church thought here:

You said:
I am confused if my relationship with her is still a blessing from God. I keep praying to Him to bless us both. I love my girlfriend and she loves me as well.

You are in a tough situation for two reasons:

  1. because you have to respect her free will to believe in erroneous teachings about our faith, plus
  2. if the two of you, over time, are being drawn to marriage, in order to be married in the Catholic Church, you (J.P.) have to promise to raise the children of your love as Catholic to the best of your ability. She doesn't have to make any promises but she is a witness to your promise.

It's good to plan a one on one talk in the future with her if things get serious. We have received many questions from dating couples who have put off the issue (of how to raise their kids, faith-wise) to the very end, toward Pre-Cana classes. The Church would not recommend this.

Finally, I would discourage any Catholic Christian from going to other Protestant faith services.

When a Catholic attends another Protestant faith service or Bible Study, whether they are aware of it or not, they are publicly saying:

There is something in this Bible Study or Protestant service that is missing in my Catholic faith.

. . . and most of the time, attendees to these Protestant gatherings have misperceptions about many, many Catholic teachings.

While the Catholic catechesis at a given Catholic parish may be poor or the ministries may be lacking a lot, only the Catholic Church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15) and remember, we have both:

  • the menu (the Scriptures), and
  • the meal (the Eucharist)

We will keep you in our prayers,

Mike

J.P. replied:

Dear Mike,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Your answers were very helpful and I will definitely keep them in mind.

My girlfriend keeps asking me if I will join her faith to which I can only respond with a smile. I was open to the idea that we could both respect our own beliefs even if we continue our relationship to the next level.

  • Is it wrong to think that a break up is silly due to different beliefs?

I will try to talk to her and hope that our conversation will go well. I pray to God that He will give us both clear minds and hearts.

Thank you also for your prayers and God bless you all!

J.P.

Mike replied:

Dear J.P.,

Thank-you for the kind words.

You said:
My girlfriend keeps asking me if I will join her faith to which I can only respond with a smile. I was open to the idea that we could both respect our own beliefs even if we continue our relationship to the next level.

Tell your girlfriend you would be happy to join her congregation if either she or her minister can show you the Apostolic roots of their christian faith. The quote I gave you, from St. Pacian of Barcelona, can be confirmed at any library and shows both of them the Apostolic roots of the Catholic faith.

You said:

  • Is it wrong to think that a break up is silly due to different beliefs?

Not if issues of faith are not important. If you were both atheists, it would be one thing but the fact that you appear to be faithful Christians make the issues more important, maybe not now, but in the future when these child rearing issues arise.

Mike

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The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.