Before I began my study of the teachings of the Catholic Church, I believed some things about the Church that actually aren’t true. Once the true teachings were explained to me, I thought it was sad that so many people, my past-self included, believe rumors and untruths about the Church.
Somebody wise once said, “There are not more than 100 people who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church…As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.” —–Archbishop Sheen
Here are some common myths of the Catholic Church. I used to believe a few of them, others I have come across since learning the truth about these myths:
Edit: Since writing this blog post, I have been given a Bible that has “Catholic Answer Bible Inserts” addressing many of these very issues and myths I wrote about here. I provided a link after some of these myths, linking to a photograph of a relevant Answer Bible Insert page that is in my Catholic Bible.
1. Catholics worship Mary and the Saints
Catholics only worship God. They venerate Mary and the Saints as people who were examples of godly men and women. Mary and the Saints are models for us.
2. Catholics pray to statues
Catholics do not pray to statues. Catholics use statues as decorations to remind them of people who have gone before us, and have passed on. This is similar to how you use pictures of family and friends. You don’t worship your pictures, but you remember the people every time you see their pictures.
3. Catholics believe the pope is sinless
Catholics do not believe the pope is sinless. When Catholics say the pope is infallible, this means that only when he speaks, ex cathedra he is being lead by the Holy Spirit and is infallible in what he says. But this is not every time he speaks. Catholics believe the pope is a sinner, in need of a savior, just like you and me.
4. Praying the Rosary is the “vain repetitions” Jesus specifically condemns, is not biblical, and gives undue worship to Mary
First, Jesus only condemns vain repetitions. Repeating something is not bad. In fact, repetition is very beneficial, it can bring healing, hope and memorization.
Second, the Rosary is actually very Biblical. The words you say when praying the Rosary are mostly scripture, the rest is in beautiful harmony with scripture.
Third, one is not worshiping Mary when praying the Rosary. The Rosary calls Mary blessed, just as she herself said that generations would call her blessed (Luke 1).
5. Catholics believe they have to make the sign of the cross before and after praying. Making the sign of the cross is an un-biblical, medieval invention.
Catholics do not believe they have to make the sign of the cross. History tells us the early Christians were making the sign of the cross from the very beginning. It was such a common thing it was not included in the Bible.
Making the sign of the cross reminds us of the cross of salvation while invoking the Holy Trinity.
6. Catholics pray to Mary and the Saints
This one is actually true. However, it is more accurate to say Catholics pray with Mary and the Saints. Catholics do not pray to Mary and the Saints believing they have the power to grant their prayers. Rather, Catholics ask Mary and the Saints to pray with them, to bring these requests to God. James says “…the prayer of a righteous man has great power in it’s effects” (5:16). Who is more righteous than Mary and the Saints who have already finished the race and is in Heaven with God?
7. The Catholic Church added to the Bible
Catholics did not add to the Bible. Catholics originally canonized the Bible in 397 AD with 73 books in it. For over 1100 years the Bible was undisputed, until Martin Luther, in the early 1500’s, thought he had the authority to chop out 7 books of the Bible because they didn’t fit with his theology. That is why the Protestant Bible now has only 66 books in it. The Catholic Church most certainly did not add to the Bible. Protestants deleted part of the Bible. (Read my post Spiritual Journey part 2 for my information)
8. The Catholic Church discourages its members from reading the Bible
The Catholic Church does not discourage its members from reading the Bible. The Bible was compiled by Catholic scholars in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and approved by the Catholic Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397). Catholic monks protected the Bible from being changed through the dark ages of history. In every Mass, on every day, 3-4 different passages from the Bible are read aloud. Walk into any Catholic parish and you will hear more scripture in the space of 50 minutes than you will hear in any Protestant church in the average 90 minute service.
9. Catholics believe that because they have a pope, they do not need to read the Bible for themselves, nor listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their personal lives
Having a pope makes no difference on whether a Catholic reads and follows the Bible. The succession of popes began way before the Bible, 38 popes had existed before the Bible was canonized. Catholics do not believe the Bible was meant to replace the need for a pope, or that the pope can override the Bible.
Catholics do not believe they should listen to the pope instead of the Holy Spirit. The pope is not someone who gives spiritual/personal commands to people the way a king gives worldly commands to his subjects.
10. Catholics do not know the Gospel, because they do not hear the Gospel in the Catholic church, because Catholic Priests do not preach the Gospel at Mass.
Catholics hear the Gospel every Sunday at Mass. I have been going to St. Pius X Catholic Church every Sunday for nearly 9 months now. I have heard a passage from one of the four Gospels read every single week. Never has there not been the Gospel preached at Mass. The homily, or sermon, preached by the priest at mass usually always has to do with the Gospel reading for that day. If a Catholic doesn’t know the Gospel, or says he never heard it preached at church growing up, it’s because he is (or was) blinded. The pastor or priest of any church can’t convince a person of truth. God is still the one who opens our eyes to the truth. To be honest, I didn’t hear the Gospel at a Protestant church growing up. I heard it directly from my parents, at home, and watched them live out the Gospel in their actions.
11. The Catholic Church teaches we are saved by works
The Catholic Church teaches we are saved by faith AND works. They teach this because the Bible teaches it. James 2:24 (Read this blog post of mine to learn more)