Common Faults among Conservative Catholics

These faults are not found in all conservative Catholics, and they are also found in persons who are not conservative Catholics, but they are relatively common, today, within conservative Catholicism.

1. Conservatism over Truth

The assumption that the majority opinion among conservative Catholics (or among conservative Catholic leaders) is necessarily the correct opinion. Many times this opinion is treated as if it were dogma.

For example, the Magisterium has not taught the answer to the question, whether the Church has the authority to ordain women to the diaconate. And yet the conservative Catholic subculture has already decided the question, as if the answer were “No”.

Another example is found in the magisterial teachings on salvation, which clearly allows a broad possibility of salvation for non-Christians and non-believers. Yet the conservative Catholic subculture insists that this possibility is narrow or non-existent.

2. Ignorance

Ignorance of magisterial teaching is very widespread and profound among Mass-going Communion-receiving Catholics, including conservative. They discuss theology online very frequently, but they can’t spare the time, or don’t wish to put in the effort to learn what the Magisterium teaches. The common opinions of Catholics online has become a substitute for magisterial teaching.

3. Arrogance

Despite extensive ignorance of magisterial teaching, many conservative Catholics arrogantly argue for one position or another on a controversial question. They lack the ability to make a theological argument to support their views, present these views as if they were definitive, and present themselves as if they were qualified to teach or to decide the issue. If you have not studied an area of theology extensively, and written on the subject, you are not qualified to decide what the answer should be.

4. Unqualified Teachers

It is absolutely astounding how many Catholics, who do not understand the most basic teachings of the Magisterium on any topic, feel qualified to teach and correct others online. It takes a special form of arrogance to teach a grave subject area without first learning the topic. And this reaches to such an extent that some Catholics, online and under cover of anonymity, encourage other Catholics to commit grave sexual sins and sins of using abortifacients, while teaching them that these acts are entirely moral and that the deaths of prenatal children are entirely justified. They kill the soul and kill the body, by their gravely immoral teachings online, and they claim that these false teachings are nothing but a proper understanding of the teaching of Christ. They use the name of Christ and his Church to encourage and justify grave sexual sins, and to convince Catholic spouses to murder their own children by using abortifacient contraception.

5. Cafeteria Catholics

Many conservative Catholics have become cafeteria Catholics. They look around for an opinion by a fellow conservative Catholic, one that they like for whatever reason, and then they simply adopt that view. The teachings of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium are ignored, in favor of the opinion of any conservative that seems good to them. They don’t study Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium. They don’t care if the Roman Pontiff teaches otherwise. They can’t make a theological argument of their own, or else they make arguments that are ridiculous. And their understanding of each topic in theology is greatly oversimplified.

I should also point out that many Catholic theologians, priests, and authors, who are accepted and praised by the conservative Catholic subculture, are actually very liberal in their views. Examples include Jimmy Akin, Mark Shea, and others. They are read and accepted by conservatives, yet their views are particularly liberal (and also heretical).

6. Criticism

Many conservative Catholics feel entirely free to criticize any Pope, any teaching of any Pope, any teaching of a Cardinal or Bishop or any magisterial source. And at the same time, they can’t stand to be subjected to criticism themselves.

7. Unrepented Objective Mortal Sins

Grave sins are common among conservative Catholics. Conservative Catholic theologians, priests, and online commentators have developed, over the years, a set of theological rationalizations for these sins. But they are wicked sins nonetheless: direct abortion, abortifacient contraception, contraception, unnatural sexual acts in marriage, and other grave sexual sins, as well as sins of schism and heresy.

Whenever the definitive teachings of the Magisterium conflict with the majority opinion in the conservative Catholic subculture, the teachings are radically reinterpreted so as to approve of grave sin. The terms of moral theology used to condemn intrinsically evil acts are revised (e.g. direct, indirect, moral object, etc.) so that intrinsically evil acts are falsely claimed to be no longer intrinsically evil and no longer the same type of act. In this way, they justify objective mortal sins and claim that these acts are good and moral.

They teach these grave errors, and they also commit these grave sins. And they are unrepentant. At the same time, they accuse liberal Catholics of committing grave sins without repentance, and of justifying grave sins. They behave much the same way as the liberal Catholics, whom they accuse and condemn.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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5 Responses to Common Faults among Conservative Catholics

  1. Bill Hohn says:

    I am not so sure about these statements. I beg to differ with you. Liberation Theology presents its own set of grave consequences. Be fair to all sides. Are we not in a full blown schism?

    On Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 11:21 AM, the reproach of Christ wrote:

    > Ron Conte posted: “These faults are not found in all conservative > Catholics, and they are also found in persons who are not conservative > Catholics, but they are relatively common, today, within conservative > Catholicism. 1. Conservatism over Truth The assumption that the m” >

  2. Mark P. says:

    Ron, you often speak of the ignorance of fellow Catholics, and I agree that those who attempt to actually teach without the proper foundation are in error. I suppose we are very fortunate in this day and age to have access to so much information on the internet (which obviously presents both advantages and disadvantages), but how did the average Catholic get their information just 30 or 40 years ago? Presumably from their priests and bishops. I agree, yes, those of us who are trying to learn can do a better job of reading up on teachings, etc. But what if this was 40 years ago? Who would know where to look, where to start? Sorry, parishes worldwide are failing the flock. If proper instruction were being given in the parishes, maybe there wouldn’t be so many people trying to teach in place of the Church. The converts of Sts. Peter and Paul had perhaps a few letters to read, but most likely learned from oral instruction only! And today there are 2000 years’ worth of documents amassed! So this is an interesting question – could people today be good, holy Catholics and achieve salvation if they were presented only with the same material that Peter and Paul taught? Just going by what we know from their epistles, what they preached. . .how necessary are these additional two millenia worth of document? Not being argumentative here, just find the difference interesting.

    • Ron Conte says:

      It used to be the case that most theologians were priests, and there were many books of theology that were trustworthy. People would learn theology from Catholic schools and Catholic books and prayer groups and their local priest. Now most theologians have gone astray, most books of theology are filled with errors, priests and even Bishops are poorly catechized and have accepted many errors, Catholic teachers in schools teach heresy, and the internet is used to spread grave errors along with the claim that these errors are Church teaching.

  3. Mark P. says:

    Just to clarify – obviously new teachings are necessary to speak on new technological or moral developments like contraception, new social justice issues, etc. My point was more along these lines: when Humanae Vitae was released, how did the average Catholic learn about it? I am guessing from their local diocese and parish? Whereas, with Amoris Laeticia, I have seen absolutely no direction yet from my diocese. . .and I am not sure if this is normal or not. It seems presumed that in today’s world, if somebody wants to know something, they can just “look it up.” That wasn’t always an option. . .for the majority of the history of the Church. So, the Church, the priests, taught these things. Shouldn’t, ideally, the Church operate under the presumption that the average person in the pews expects to be instructed in what the Church teaches?

  4. Mark P. says:

    Hopefully the Convocation of Catholic Leaders taking place in Orlando this week will help reinvigorate both clergy and laity in learning, teaching and living the Truth of the Gospel.

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