How Heresy Works

1. The typical Catholic heretic does not realize he is teaching heresy. He has convinced himself that his own understanding is correct. That’s pride, of course.

Once in a while I run across a teacher of heresy who, as far as I can tell, knows that their teaching is heresy, knows it is gravely contrary to the definitive teaching of the Church. But they teach it anyway, because they know the audience wishes to hear it, and they wish to have influence, power, money, and a large audience.

But most heretics actually think their teaching is correct.

2. The successful heretic has skills: speaking and teaching skills, to be accepted by a large audience; interpersonal skills, to obtain support from Church leaders by conversation and personal interaction; intellectual skills, to design the heresy in a way that makes it easy to understand and pleasing to their audience, and also harder to refute, by various clever explanations.

3. But the heretic has badly misunderstood the Gospel. Why does this happen? Often, the heretic is led to a false conclusion by the desire to please people, by the desire to find a solution to a difficult teaching, by the desire to make the Gospel easier, sweeter, and to give it a broader appeal.

This is often found in politics. The politician crafts a platform that will have the broadest appeal and be easy to convey to a large audience. But in theology, to accomplish such a goal one must over-simplify and distort the truth.

4. Heretics are generally very difficult to correct. They are good with people. They develop a support network within the Church of persons they know, whose favor they have courted. They have a pleasing message, which gives them many supporters. They also often have control of money and organizations.

5. The main problem with heretics though, is the people. The ordinary laity are poorly-catechized, so they can’t distinguish heresy from doctrine. The ordinary laity often do not care if a teaching is heretical. Many Catholics believe what they want, and have a hidden contempt for Church authority. Heresy is pleasing to some, only to a minority of the adherents, for a certain reason — precisely because it flies in the face of authority.

6. The solution to rid the Church of heresy is to have leaders and people who find heresy and doctrinal error abhorrent. And that only happens if people pray, practice self-denial, and do works of mercy.


Bishop Robert Barron – teaches heresy on salvation, that perhaps all human persons are saved; on Adam and Eve, that they are not real historical persons; on original sin, that it is not the sin of Adam and Eve inherited by us. Heresy, heresy, heresy. And yet he has a popular DVD series called “Catholicism”. He was promoted from priest to bishop after teaching these heresies, and he continues to teach them as a Bishop. He is a popular speaker in many places. He has the unreserved support of Church leaders, not a one of them, as far as I know, recognize that he is a teacher of heresy.

Bishop Barron does not realize he’s a teacher of heresy. His pride and also his popularity blinds him to that fact. He thinks to himself (I’m guessing) that it can’t possibly be true, that he’s teaching heresy, due to his approval from other Church leaders, his position in the Church, his popularity, the good that he has done in his work as a priest and then Bishop. But none of those things actually prevent heresy. He’s just filled with pride, like all teachers of heresy.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian
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* My translation of the Bible (the CPDV)
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2 Responses to How Heresy Works

  1. Dora says:

    Is your next book about Bishop Barron?

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