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Issues with Converting to Catholicism Today

We’ve been contacted on more than one occasion by people stating they agree that the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ, but then they ask how they could ever consider converting when the Catholic Church is so plagued with problems and scandals today, and when the Pope is seen praying with Jews and Muslims. This is an excellent question, which we will address below.
 

Warnings in Scripture

First let us consider some warnings we see in Scripture. In multiple areas of Scripture we clearly see warnings that we must carry our cross DAILY if we want to follow Christ (Luke 9:23), and warnings of false Christs and false prophets arising in sheep's clothing (in other words, they will not be immediately apparent) (i.e. Matt 7:15, Mark 13:22), and parables of the cockle and the wheat, and the net which when cast into the sea catches good and bad fish (Matthew 13), clearly telling us that we can expect good and bad people among Christ's flock.

We also see warnings of scandals, wars, and disasters that must take place before Christ returns (see all of Matthew Ch. 24) and revelation that few will have the faith when Christ returns (Luke 18:8), and that the gate to heaven is narrow and few there are that will find it (Luke 13:24). Clearly many of these warnings apply to situations that have occurred throughout the centuries and that are occurring during our day, though we know that regardless of them, Christ promised the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church (Matt 16:18).

 
Examples of Early Problems in Scripture

Let us also consider some of the serious situations in Scripture among Christ's followers. First we refer to St. Peter's denial of Christ (Mark Ch. 14) and Judas' betrayal of Jesus (Matthew Ch. 26). Here are two men that Christ himself chose as Apostles, and they each chose to sin against God Himself. Christ, being God Himself, clearly knew of these men's faults beforehand, and foretold each (Matt Ch. 26) , but he chose and kept them as Apostles anyway for our instruction.

So to summarize up to this point, clearly we can see Scripture warns us of good and bad people in Christ's flock, of numerous problems, scandals and wars, and we see examples of serious mistakes by the Apostles themselves - Christ's very first Bishops! Though Christ did not abandon them and the Apostles continued with their goals of following Christ, spreading His word, and starting His church. In other words, the faults of Church members in NO way effects the fact that the Catholic Church is the one true Church started by Christ and required for our salvation. Soldiers may fail but the Army continues on.


Problems in the Catholic Church in the centuries after Christ

Now let us take a look at the Catholic Church and what problems it has experienced in the centuries after Christ. If we look at the history of the Catholic Church, it has been plagued with major problems from the start. Clearly God has never protected His Church from the faults of its members at any point in history, as we would expect based on the warnings in Scripture we present above.

First we can see major heresies creep into the Church from the earliest days, such as the heresies of Arius, Macedonius, Nestorius, the Monothelites and many others. We also see schisms in just about every century after Christ, and also occasions where antipopes falsely claimed position of the Holy See (i.e. the Western Schism starting in 1378), and even legitimately elected Popes who had serious personal sins (i.e. Pope John XII, Pope Benedict IX). And we also often hear about the abuses that crept into the Inquisitions (of which we write about in our Articles section on this site).

Each of these problems in the history of the Church were eventually corrected, and regardless of how serious the situations were or how long they lasted, the Church has continued as Christ promised.

Clearly problems have been frequent in the Catholic Church in every century. Though just as we do not declare an apple tree bad when a rotten apple is found on the ground under it, and we don't declare all doctors bad when we run into a doctor who is a "quack", likewise these problems and faults of others in the Church have never had any effect on the validity of the Catholic Church itself, just as Judas's betrayal did not affect the Apostles or the early Church. Scripture has warned us of all of these heresies and these wolves in sheep's clothing, and each member of the Church involved in these heresies and scandals will one day have to render a strict account to God.


Problems in the Catholic Church today

Clearly the Catholic Church today is plagued with serious problems, and many feel it is in worse shape today than it has been during all previous centuries. Here we will bring to your attention a few of the major problems that all should be aware of in the Catholic Church today.

First, we are guaranteed in Scripture that the true Church of Christ (the Catholic Church) is guided by the Holy Ghost, and the Dogma of Infallibility states the Church cannot teach error and mislead the faithful with regard to faith and morals. So Church teaching has always remained in line with Scripture, and nothing has been added or changed from divine revelation, and must always remain this way.

Yet the Second Vatican Council in the mid 1960s introduced teaching that was always forbidden throughout the history of the Church. One teaching was that of ecumenism; which basically states that all religions are equal. We could openly see Benedict XVI and John Paul II praying in public with Muslims and Jews, and even kissing the Koran of all things. Such actions have been forbidden throughout the entire history of the Church. We are now seeing Francis I following suit. This sudden change in Church teaching has completely confused Catholics all over the world, causing many of them to even lose their faith over it. Many other Catholics try to look the other way and deny these changes are occurring, however if we look at the writings of Benedict XVI, we can clearly see the complete opposition in his teachings versus the teaching of all prior Popes before the Second Vatican Council.

Below is a link we located elsewhere on the Internet that compares the writings of Benedict XVI to previous Church teaching. There are over 100 examples in the list provided. The direct opposition in teaching from Benedict XVI is blatantly clear, and many of the examples can only be labeled heresy.

Teachings of Benedict XVI


After reviewing the above link, the question becomes, if the Holy Ghost is guiding the Catholic Church from error with respect to faith and morals, yet we are seeing error, what are we to make of it? Scripture refers to the Catholic Church as the "pillar and ground of truth", and states that we must all go to the church for the truth, yet at first glance it would appear this promise has been broken as we are seeing the exact opposite taking place. Clearly Jesus would not lie, nor could the Holy Ghost fail in protecting the Church from error so what are Catholics (and potential converts) to think? The ONLY logical answer is that these errors being taught are NOT from the Catholic Church. How can this be, you ask? Well if we refer to past Church teaching on matters such as a Pope teaching heresy, we have the following:

Church Teaching on Popes and Heresy


So in a nutshell, looking at the quotes above we can see that the Church has always taught that not only is it possible for a pope to teach heresy, but that if it occurs, that Pope is no longer Catholic (automatically), and loses his authority and is owed no obedience. THIS would explain the blatant errors we are seeing in the Church today; men that are no longer Catholic, holding the position of Catholics, and pushing their errors into the Church. This is the belief of many Catholics all over the world today, and they are referred to as "traditional Catholics", and also "Sedevacantist" Catholics. These Catholics practice the faith as taught before the Second Vatican Council, and not after, when error flooded the Church.

It is no wonder that Protestants and others seeking to convert to the Catholic Church are hesitant! This problem is confusing enough for Catholics, never mind those looking to convert.

So the options for today's Catholics are two: 1) remain in the local Catholic dioceses and accept the heresies and other errors being taught and followed, or 2) attend a traditional Catholic Church in your area (hopefully there is one within driving distance) and practice your faith free from error.

Unfortunately these errors introduced into the Catholic Church in the 1960s have snowballed into numerous problems including emptying of Churches on Sundays, seminaries and convents being closed, changes to all the Sacraments such that priests today may not even be ordained properly, and therefore may not be providing valid Sacraments. Not to mention the growing scandals among priests and bishops, most of whom are probably not Catholic to begin with.

Clearly the Catholic Church today is in a serious situation, which makes it that much more difficult for conversions to occur. Past generations have lived through similar problems if you read on the history of the Church, so the problems we are seeing today are not new, though they do appear far worse. Again, just as in the days of Judas, any Popes, Bishops or Priests at fault for these problems will either one day repent, or they may apostatize, or become heretics or schismatics, but we have Christ's promise that His Church will continue regardless. The Church may appear infiltrated with wolves in sheep's clothing and consumed in scandal at times, but the true Church always exists somewhere, no matter how small or obscure.

It is important that we also remember, Christ founded His Church for sinners (Matt 9:13) and the Sacrament of Penance was established for a reason; because we are all sinners. Sinners in the Church may not always be "members in good standing" but are nevertheless always members.
 

Summary

Clearly Scripture has foretold us about the situations we have seen in the Catholic Church throughout the centuries and today. Yes, it is discouraging, but nowhere in Scripture are we told to give up, rather we are to persevere to the end and do as Christ instructed us. Also keep in mind that the current problems we are seeing today are due to a great loss of the faith, as we are also warned of in Scripture (Romans 1:18).

Note that the Third Secret of Fatima at the link below also clearly foretells this problem we are seeing today. For those converts new to the "Miracle at Fatima", you may wish to read about it at the link below. Specifically, the section called "The Real Third Secret" tells of the corruption of the clergy today.

http://www.fatima.org/essentials/facts/default.aspx
 

Recommendations

So what are those people to do today who see the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ, but can scarcely find true Churches and clergymen? And what are those people to do about family members and friends who strongly disapprove of their converting to Catholicism? The situation is clearly a difficult one, but there are options. Here are some we recommend you start with:

1. While considering conversion, we recommend you strengthen your devotion to Our Lady and continue to pray hard and frequently about the situation.

2. We also recommend that when you decide to attend Mass, that you find a "traditional" Catholic church which adheres to the laws of the Church before the Second Vatican Council (which having introduced doctrine that has always been forbidden in the Church, was not a valid Council). A large majority of Catholic Churches today are very "modernized" due to the decisions of this Council, and you will see a major difference between a traditional Church and modern Church because of it. A directory of traditional Catholic churches can be seen here:

http://ddata.over-blog.com/0/46/19/78/Centres-de-Messe.pdf

3. Read up on the history of the Church using older books before 1960 if possible. Many newer books have also been modernized and content removed from them. One of the better older books for learning is the Catholic Encyclopedia online at www.newadvent.org which contains a copy of the Catholic Encyclopedia from the early 1900's, and also includes the Summa Theologica and writings from the early Church Fathers (the first Christians). Reading papal encyclicals, about the Councils of the Church, and books on Lives of the Saints are also excellent and essential! Get educated on the early Church. When reading older books like these you will easily see what the Church has always taught and condemned century to century, so you will not be as easily mislead by what some modern-day Catholic churches are teaching today.

4. As for disapproving family and friends, this is probably one of the harder decisions converts have to face; "ride the fence" in order to avoid conflict with family and friends, or convert and chance being disowned by them. Unfortunately Christ has given us specific instructions on how we are to be saved, and the first is that we must be a member of the Church He founded. While family and friends provide support for us here on earth, they will not be able to assist us at the hour of our death or after we have passed on. Being a member of the true church of Christ is mandatory and must be your primary goal. The decision to convert needs to be made now, not tomorrow as we never know if there will be a tomorrow for us!

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