Issues with Converting to
Warnings in Scripture
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 heresies and 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.
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 can openly see that John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis I have been praying in public with Muslims and Jews, and preaching on things always condemned by the Catholic Church in prior centuries. How can this be you might ask? 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 this has been going on far too many years now to ignore. A prime example of this problem can be seen by reviewing the quotes from Pope Francis over recent years at the website www.FrancisQuotes.com. Clearly the quotes from Pope Francis presented on that website (which contain links direct to the Vatican websites where the quotes originate) are condemned by Scripture and/or past Church teaching.
After reviewing the above information, 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? Here we refer to a quick summary of past Church teaching on what would happen should we see a Pope teaching things that are not Catholic:
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, and changes to all the Sacraments such that priests today may not even be ordained properly (and therefore may not be providing valid Sacraments). And we are all aware of the resulting 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, 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
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.
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:
3. Read up on the history of the Church using older books before 1960. 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). Also 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!