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Can one be baptized and become a Catholic if they don't believe in every particular Catholic dogma?

I personally am interested in being a Catholic, i.e., being baptized by a Catholic priest, being confirmed, and so forth. However, there are some dogmas that, even after serious biblical study, I am hesitant to believe in.

After responses/ comments from a few members, I narrowed these dogmas to the following:

  1. Perpetual virginity
  2. Immaculate conception
  3. Assumption of Mary

(While I did not include #2-3 in the original post, I am including them in my revision so that further clarification can be accomplished on this matter. The original post was not intended to include each dogma I did not believe in, but rather, to give a few examples.)

Originally, I said that I did not believe that one was required to pray to Mary and the saints. As @AndrewLeach responded,

You present that praying to Mary and to the Saints are necessary. It's not necessary for salvation to pray to them, merely to accept that they are there if required... However, it is necessary to accept that the Saints are there if required, and that their prayers are effective.

I should clarify that I have no problem with people praying to the saints and/ or Mary, if they wish. I don't feel it is necessary, for anything, but as long as I myself am never compelled to do so, I have no problem if others do.

It seems that the liturgy of the Penitential Rite has the following statement:

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord, our God.

So, is one required to recite this prayer during Mass, where he/ she is basically beseeching or praying to Mary and the saints?

All that being said, and this is the primary question, can I still become a Catholic if I do not believe in (accept) those particular dogmas?

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@everyone: In the future, please keep such conversations to chat. I've deleted the chatty/unconstructive/obsolete(ish) comments. Which ended up being all of them. Hrm. –  El'endia Starman Dec 1 '13 at 20:59

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You asked about "every particular Catholic dogma." I think there are many good Catholics who, not being theologians, don't even know what all the particular dogmas of the Catholic Church are, and who therefore don't explicitly believe them. But they implicitly believe them, in the sense that (1) they believe that the Catholic Church has received from Christ the authority to declare certain doctrines as being revealed by God and (2) they would therefore believe any of these revealed doctrines if they were informed about them. What is incompatible with Catholicism is to deny a doctrine even though one knows that the Church has declared it to be divinely revealed. That's heresy and would put one outside the Church (even though one's baptism would remain valid).

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Interesting. Thank you. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Nov 30 '13 at 19:51
    
The Church utilizes the RCIA program specifically to prevent adults being baptized ignorant of Catholic doctrine including the doctrines that you object to. Since you are asking this question you obviously are not ignorant. Dogmatic definitions are by definition about drawing lines of truth in the sand. The kingdom of God is open for all...but the Church claims with her dogma and doctrines that Truth is not relative. –  Charles Alsobrook Dec 2 '13 at 12:02

When you obstinately reject a Catholic dogma you become a heretic. There are many heretics that call themselves Catholic, but they will have no share in Eternal Life according to the infallible decree of Pope Eugene IV at the Council of Florence.

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, ex cathedra:” The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of this ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only those who abide in it do the Church’s sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia productive of eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

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One really obvious reason why you can't be Catholic without accepting Marian Dogmas is that they're built into the Liturgical Year as the penultimate celebrations.

  • December 8th, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary
  • January 1st, Solemnity Mary, Mother of God (you could stand this one)
  • August 15th, Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven

These are all Holy Days of Obligation, which means, in order to be a Catholic in good standing, you need to attend Mass on each of these days (unless moved because of Sunday Mass [except for the December 8th, which is always celebrated]).

So, if you think of the Mass as one big prayer, the ones that are Marian focused require your devotion to her; which is to say, whatever you bring to the table in her honor will be multiplied by her Divine Son.


Dogmas are the way the Church makes sense of the supernatural realities found in the Bible and Tradition. If you can figure out a better way to reconcile Sacred Scripture with Sacred Tradition, that would make for an interesting book. But if you delve into it deeply, and continue the path you said you set up for yourself, I think you'll find out what G.K. Chesterton found out when he put the finishing touches on his new heresy.

I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.

Still, as I said in my deleted comments a few days ago, Chesterton didn't become Catholic until well after writing Orthodoxy where he asks, as you do (more or less, he's talking about original sin (which is connected to all Marian Dogmas))

why cannot you simply take what is good in Christianity, what you can define as valuable, what you can comprehend, and leave all the rest, all the absolute dogmas that are in their nature incomprehensible?

to which, he answers himself (this time concerning the Incarnation)

mean that having found the moral atmosphere of the Incarnation to be common sense, I then looked at the established intellectual arguments against the Incarnation and found them to be common nonsense.

And you could insert any of the Dogmas proclaimed by the Catholic Church in place of the Incarnation. What are the rational arguments against the Assumption of Mary anyway? And furthermore, what right have we to doubt the testimony of a Miracle, like the Assumption of Mary, just because it didn't happen in the books the Church recognized as canonical?

Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. The open, obvious, democratic thing is to believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a miracle, just as you believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a murder.

This is one reason that the Church has always kept Sacred Tradition in the same company as Sacred Scripture. Even the most Bible-thumpingist evangelical preacher believes this when he professes to cast demons out on live television. If a miracle occurs, which I believe happens to Protestants as well as Catholics, then another line is written in Salvation History.


We just baptized our fourth child this morning, and she did a great job of not voicing any dissent when we renewed our baptismal vows for her benefit. She just laid there and smelt good. I think if you can manage to lay down and smell good, you'll make a good Catholic eventually. If you were at Mass this morning, you'd also have read:

Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120113.cfm

And that would give you pause to think. In any event, I think, from talking to converts in my Parish that Marian Devotion is so foreign to them that they haven't even analyzed it the way you did. So, the way one probably can approach the matter is to put yourself in their shoes again. If you want to enter the church, I think you have to enter it uncritical of the Marian Dogmas and let her teach you what's up with them. There's no point putting yourself at a disadvantage from the tens of thousands of converts who just did it to make their wives happy and entered the same way my daughter just did. Knowing little and accepting the truth as a child would.

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+1 I was thinking the same thing yesterday morning about Tradition persevering to the end of time.;) –  Charles Alsobrook Dec 2 '13 at 12:05

Can I still become a Catholic if I do not believe in (accept) these particular dogmas?

  1. Perpetual virginity

  2. Immaculate conception

  3. Assumption of Mary

Short answer…no.

Historical Christianity (i.e. both the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Catholic Church) have traditionally taught that the Blessed Theotokos remained perpetually a virgin and that she was assumed into Heaven.

See: Perpetual Virginity of Mary

The Roman Catholic Church declared the “Immaculate Conception” to be an infallibly defined dogma of the Church – meaning that this is definitely something Catholics must believe to be a Catholic.

The doctrines surrounding Mary and the communion of Saints are not distant orbiting doctrinal satellites circling the “back pews” of the Church to be simply ignored. The Catholic Church teaches that they are front and center – so intimately intertwined with the Sacred of Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist that they are virtually indistinguishable. To be a Catholic means to love Mary. To be a Catholic means to commune with Saints. It’s not a matter of requirement. It’s a matter of Love.

It should be kept in mind by you, or anyone else that may be gravitating toward the Catholic Church, that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholicism. The Eucharist should be the focal point for all Catholics. Holy Mother Church teaches that the Eucharist is Jesus! If the Eucharist doesn’t truly draw you into the Church, nothing will.

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Can you become a Catholic? well yes, you could go through with the baptism. However if you don't believe some of their doctrines are correct why would you?

Compare the doctrines with what the bible says. That is the best way to find truth.

Bottom line is that if you don't believe what they believe then they aren't right for you.

Try to find a denomination, if you are willing, that meshes better with what you believe. One of them is bound to teach what you believe. It may take a while and a lot of study and praying to reach your goal. Wish you the best

Christian quiz here this might point you in the right way. It accurately predicted mine and I really didn't think it was going to!

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This answer is not from the requested Catholic perspective, since it explicitly argues against Catholic doctrine. You are entitled to your beliefs but this question is not the right place to express them. –  James T Nov 29 '13 at 23:29
    
I will edit my post, I don't need to argue lol the bible does a good enough job of that. You are correct however this question is not the place to dispute this. –  Jeremy Nov 30 '13 at 0:26

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