Are You Catholic Enough?

Are You Catholic Enough?

By now, almost everyone has seen, or at least heard of, the Time magazine cover asking, “Are You Mom Enough?”

Aside from the disturbingly sensational depiction of breastfeeding, the question itself is an intriguing one, and one that gets to the heart of some major social issues in the US.

Too often, women turn against each other in a competitive way. Rather than accepting that we’re all trying to do the best we can, we point fingers and judge about how we raise our children, how we do our jobs, how we eat, how we dress, how much or how little we work out — you name it.

I’ve been seeing the same phenomenon in the Catholic Church lately. Maybe it’s the election cycle; maybe it’s the super-moon. Whatever it is, a lot of our faith community seems to be asking, “Are You Catholic Enough?”

‘Bad’ Catholics?

So let’s talk about that. Heaven knows we have plenty of fodder!

If you’re in favor of gay marriage, are you a bad Catholic?

What if you’re pro-nun and anti-Vatican? Or, what if you’re pro-Vatican and anti-nun?

If you’re married and don’t want children, what does that say about you?

How about if you have friends who do desperately want children and turn to measures such as IVF to conceive?

Can you be Catholic and still support Planned Parenthood?

What does it mean to be faithful?

I truly would like to hear what you think. What makes someone Catholic? Is it purely a spiritual definition? Can someone believe in the faith yet disagree with certain points of social teaching?

What is at the root of our faith community?

What does it mean to you to call yourself Catholic?




About the Author

Jennifer Scroggins works in Marketing in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • javier

    Loyalty Testing

    the final analysis, then, the wisdom and the judgment of the Church
    are important but they are not supremely important. Therefore, the
    genuinely important role of the Church teaching must never be allowed
    to deteriorate into a “loyalty test” for Catholics. Is a catholic
    who finds himself or herself able to agree with the judgment of
    the Church a better catholic than one who cannot? We must never say
    so. For just as to use Church teaching properly is to celebrate it,
    to ask it to be more than it is is to destroy it. And to make of the
    valuable and cherished source of moral wisdom a tool for
    ecclesiastical discipline or a measure of religious fidelity is to
    betray it. Indeed, to see the moral teaching of the Church as a test
    of catholic loyalty is ultimately to violate the nature of the
    Church, the nature of humanity, and surely the nature of conscience.”
    Pg 118 “Principles of Catholic Morality” Timothy E. O’Connell

  • Patrick Buck

    A Catholic needs to stand up for everything the Church teaches, even if the teachings may be unpopular. I just saw a quote yesterday by St. Therese saying that there’s no such thing as half-saints – you’re either going to be one or you aren’t. Now I’m not saying that I’m perfect, but I do believe every teaching of the Church without tossing in my personal opinion. It’s not difficult because it makes sense, and it has everyone’s best interests at heart.

    Here’s my specific answers:

    – No gay “marriage”

    – Pro-Vatican and pro-nun (the Vatican isn’t out to get the nuns; they’re “pro-nun” too… it just wants orthodox teaching in the forefront)

    – “Be fruitful and multiply…” – the right way (no IVF, etc.)

    – absolutely no Planned Parenthood

    These are not hard to believe. For anyone who’s conflicted, pray about it because we need you.

    • PMH

       Amen, Patrick.

    • Chris

      Patrick, I do pray about all of the things mentioned. Raised Catholic, I am in the ministry as a lector. I am raising my children Catholic. But I am at odds with the Vatican, as the leadership of the church has made it difficult to remain faithful to the Church. Notice I said the Church- I am faithful to the tenets of the faith as put forth by Christ; but Jesus never made a rule that said women should not be ordained. He also never said that priests should not marry. 

      And He never would condone the criminal behavior of our priests, nor would He condone the blatant coverup and denial of Church officials in regards to such crimes. The priests, bishops, cardinals and anyone else who has allowed a sexual offender to remain free and part of the Church is guilty of a crime. Wearing a collar does not protect you or give you an exception to the law. Laws have been, and will continue to be, broken until the Church accepts this. This alone is enough to make someone not support the Vatican. So in this essence, I do not have to be pro Vatican to be a “good” Catholic.I am anti abortion. I believe in the sanctity of marriage, but if two people truly love one another, who am I to judge them if they are of the same sex? Did Jesus say, no man should love another man? And what of creation? I support evolution; God designed this world, but it has grown as He directs. I have never found, in all of my education and research any plausible reason to support Adam and Eve. It’s a nice story, and like many in  the Bible, one with a message. Planned Parenthood; a tough one because they support abortion. But they do so much good in regards to healthcare for women. And I do support birth control; we live in a world where disease and population growth must be contained. I pray for that organization to except themselves from performing abortions. I reject the death penalty. I may be conflicted, but I pray for those who judge one another, and those whose mindset is closed and have no room for growth. This is how we as a society evolve and become stronger in ourselves and in our faith in God. Our Church would be so much stronger if women were ordained, and priests were permitted to marry (which they once were, many many years ago). 

      It is easy to maintain simplicity. It is difficult to face the challenges of the faith and move forward if it does not move as well. 

  • Anonymous

    Interesting food for thought! I would say that the Church is clear in what it teaches. There is the one, true Church–and those who deviate from it. Also, the Vatican is pro-nun. Supporting the Vatican in its inquiry and possible discipline of groups that espouse anti-Catholic teaching does not mean one is “anti-nun”; rather, it’s indicative of being pro-Truth.

  • Jscroggins

    This is great, everyone! Please, keep the comments and discussion coming!

  • Akschlosberg

    To be called Catholic is to love God first and foremost. To have an urgency to be in Jesus’s presence everyday, not just on Sundays. To have the approach that being Catholic is not just following a bunch of rules, because if one truly follows Jesus and surrenders everyday to him the rules come easy without thought. To be Catholic means to stand up for what the church teaches in all areas. However, to never judge others because they are not following church rules is not Catholic. To educate your children about the faith, to be proud to be Catholic but not arrogantly. To bring people to the faith through our actions and not our words. To follow Jesus with an open heart for change, to trust that Jesus left us the church in order to continue his ministry. Jesus did not just sit around in the church each week and pray, he went out to the people. We all must go out and be Jesus to all. Having said all of that, I do believe that there is no such thing as a cafeteria Catholic, you either believe what the church teaches, or then you are just following your own god. Catholics cannot support planned parenthood, gay marriage is not an option, IVF is not an option. This doesn’t mean you are a bad catholic, it means you really need to surrender yourself to doing God’s will and not your own.

  • Mollyann Hesser

    I think we have to be willing to give up who we are to live the life Christ asks us to. Thankfully, we have the Vicar of Christ, our Pope, the Bible & the Catachism to show us the way. I dont think of “good” or “bad” Catholics, but “faithful” & “unfaithful” I think the biggest problem our Church faces is we dont understand our faith, because if we did we wouldn’t have as many “options” as we do.
    The question you should be asking is, “are you faithful enough to be Catholic?”

  • Catholic @BarbaraKB

    In general, all of these recent Catholic headline issues make me sad because more “nominal” Catholics will decide to no longer be Catholic and thus no longer receive the graces found in the sacraments. They believe they no longer pass some sort of litmus test for the issues you list above thus they drop their activity. And while these might be the “truths” about these issues, they are not the “ultimate truths” of our faith for salvation. So I ask: Are we arguing about certain issues at the peril of issues that Jesus preached about in the gospels? Are we losing Catholics over smaller “truths” and thus they cannot share in the big truth? Again, it makes me sad.

  • Anonymous

    This recent Facebook post from Mark Hart, The Bible Geek, says it all:

    “Let’s remember: God gave Adam & Eve the freedom to choose BETWEEN good and evil…not to “decide what” is good or evil.

    Truth is not subjective. Moral relativism is not of God.”

    • javier

      A somewhat simplistic reading of Genesis. One would need to ask  what the talking snake was doing in the garden. Is this the god that you believe in: one that sets people up to fail? Is this the same god that Jesus tells us about–the one he calls Daddy (Abba). Doesn’t sound like the same one :)

      • Miriamvs

        Jesus also told sinners (us) ‘go and sin no more,’ not ‘do whatever you feel is right.’

        • javier

          And your comment applies to comment, how?

        • javier

          He also mentioned something about plucking an eye out and cutting off one’s hand–have you done either one? –“no matter what the consequences?” (Miriams) This may not make you ‘happy’ but it will be a nice ‘painful sacrifice’ that, I’m sure, god relishes! :) 

          • Miriamvs

            We’re told it’s better to pluck out an eye or cut off a hand if the alternative is to give in to sin and thus be damned (separated from our heavenly Daddy for all eternity by our own choice) — not that we should do it as a ‘sacrifice.’ 

            Perhaps a more thoughtful, less ‘simplistic’ re-reading of the Bible might be helpful?

          • javier


            My reply to you was because of your simplistic, out-of-context, quote as if that was the end all an be all of scripture AND because of your reply to my comment which I still don’t understand  how it was applicable to my post. Perhaps you could enlighten us! However, if you wish to read scripture in this manner (black and white thinking) then I suspect you’ll be picking and choosing your verses as they suit you. If you like your verse then might I point out that  Jesus said, according to your citation, ‘Jesus also told sinners (us) ‘go and sin no more,’–he didn’t say ‘TRY not to sin’ and pulling another verse out of context, Paul claims we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God (in Romans somewhere!) so I suspect the old hand or eye will be cut out or off! :)–unless you believe YOU have never ‘given in to sin’ :). It appears you are comfortable with  ‘black and white’, ‘either/or’ thinking and what one realizes, after many years on the journey,  is that life, scripture, religion, love and faith, etc,.  are only rightly understood through BOTH/AND thinking!
            Your thought process is reminiscent of those in the gospels who sought to trap Jesus: “is it lawful to pay the tax to Caesar–yes or no?”  “Is it right to heal on the Sabbath–yes or no?” or dare I mention  the Pharisee and the publican? The Pharisee is very much a black and white thinker: ‘I do this that and the other and I don’t do this that and the other’ while the publican is much more the ‘both/and’ (sinful and yet trusting in God’s mercy)—and the beauty of it all is that it is he that goes home justified.


          • Miriamvs

            Sounds like you’e trying to convince yourself of something; not sure what it is. But I hope you find peace — keep reading the Bible and you’re off to a good start!

          • javier

            gotta love it–when a person can’t address the questions/comments (especially when they interject themselves into the blog) and stay on topic they do what you have done: offer some parting aloof-type of comment like “God bless you” or (my favorite) “I’ll pray for you” or in your case “But I hope you find peace”–how kind and gracious of you! :)  The reality, though, is you haven’t addressed the issue(s)–thanks for playing! :)


          • Miriamvs

            I just think we have different perspectives. Following Christ isn’t a debate to be ‘won’ via warring comments, it’s a way of life to be lived through choices made every single day. The Bible helps illuminate Jesus for us who were not his contemporaries rather than a book to clip competing quotes from to spar back and forth, and I absolutely know those who read it with an open mind and willing heart will find peace therein.

            I didn’t mean to upset you or ‘play’ anything by my hope that you find that peace — your posts to me seem to be coming from a place of anger and unrest and I don’t want to make that worse. Maybe that’s not how you meant them or I’ve misread them, but it truly appears you’re struggling with a conflict and want to salve that wound by ‘winning’ or putting me in my place somehow. Again, sorry if that’s off base — but you’re really making this into some big personal battle that isn’t there.

            (If I knew how to add a smiley face pic, I’d put it here!)

    • Catholic @BarbaraKB

      Hmmm… the tree in the center of the garden was the “knowledge of good and evil” thus we could argue with The Bible Geek about his interpretation or comment that you cite. Also, God did not give Adam and Eve a choice but instead just said “no!” So, are we saying an absolute “no” here? I am going to guess you’ll say yes but I believe in a God and a Church who do not have so many absolutes. Yup. Probably makes me a Bad Catholic.

      Also, I ask: what “Truth” should we as the Church communicate to the world? I would argue, the ones Jennifer listed above, mostly about sex, pale in comparison to the world’s need for Jesus’ sacramental, saving love. Jesus did say, “the command I give you is this: love one another.” I cling to that whenever I get confused about current moral issues. And while I realize in some circles this, again, makes me a Bad Catholic, it does allow me to sleep at night and not become too scrupulous.

      I guess I would like the Church’s New Evangelization to involve more about Jesus’ saving love through the sacraments and less about… sex.

      Peace, Lindsey!

    • davidlind

      I find it fascinating that in the Genesis account of the Fall, Adam and Eve did not “know” they were doing something “wrong” until AFTER they had eaten the fruit and “their eyes were opened.”

  • Miriamvs

    The question is:

    Do we decide how we want to live or lives, do what makes us ‘happy,’ please ourselves and those around us, and then tailor our observence of the Catholic faith to fit those decisions?

    Or do we embrace the dogmas of the chuch, try to live by them and be truly contrite when we fail to do so, and make whatever painful sacrifices following the teachings of the church entails, no matter what the consequences?

    It’s going to have to be one or the other. 

    • David Kay

      maybe the FRUIT of … knowledge..(of good and evil) leads us to criticize and ultimately to judge our involvement with others [ She gave it to me. the serpent made me do it.] Which leads us as humans to ‘help’ others by creating rules/guidelines to live by. Was Jesus an outlaw?

  • Mama_bear89

    It disturbs me that our culture has become one that asks “are we enough?”  God created us in His image.  He knows we are human and that we sin, i.e. miss the mark.  As an Orthodox Christian I’ve been taught that it’s not about trying to measure up and being “enough.”  It’s about my personal relationship with God (theosis) and how I follow Christ’s command to love one another as He has loved us.  It’s about showing mercy and asking for God’s mercy daily.  Instead of asking “Are we Catholic Enough?” perhaps it would be more pleasing to God to ask, “Am I loving and merciful enough towards my brothers and sisters?” 

  • Deanna

    I find it sad that the “change” in the church is ignited by the huge dent the departure of individuals who have become disillusioned. The church had heard the rumble, firmly rooted in morals and values as taught to us in our catechism classes and by the social platforms promulgated in the catholic schools in the 70s. The small contentions as well as the larger more obvious ones were disregarded over and over causing the disillusioned and frustrated congregant to go away. Now, suddenly, as parishes fold and congregations shrink, the hierarchy listens. We were good, obedient, loving servants all along without a return of respect, without thoughtful extrospection and introspection by the upper echeleon and serious consideration to our day-to-day realities and insights. I am grateful to see God’s love today as I attempt to gently mimic the acts of Christ, barely scratching any surfaces, but worth the effort anyway. The residual spiritual joy is my contentment. However, I do not yet attend Mass and fearfully contribute to our “catholic causes”. I still remain a Catholic in my heart.