Despite being the largest Christian denomination in the United States (and the world), much of what people believe about Catholics and the Catholic church is just false. Whether it’s misconceptions about the Pope, confession, or the saints, what you think you know about the Catholic church may not be true!
Check out these 15 common “facts” people constantly get wrong about the Catholic Church and faith.
Myth 1: Catholics Don’t Read Their Bibles
The average Catholic may not read the Bible and memorize Scripture quite as often as the average Protestant, but that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t read it at all or that they aren’t familiar with what it says.
Many Catholics are well-versed in Scripture, and studies have shown that the Catholic mass typically contains significantly more Scripture than Protestant services.
Myth 2: Catholics Don’t Pray to Jesus
Catholics DO pray to Jesus. They simply ask for additional help from their Christian brothers and sisters (Saints) who have gone before in Christ as well, just as we might ask a friend or fellow church member to pray with us today.
Myth 3: The Catholic Church Abandoned the Bible for Man-Made Traditions
While the Catholic Church does have many traditions that aren’t explicitly found in the Bible, so does every church (and so do you, in your home). Traditions themselves aren’t bad. It’s only when we prioritize them over God himself or when they take us farther away from God instead of drawing us near that they cause problems.
One reason that the Catholic Church has so many traditions is that the first-century apostles didn’t write down absolutely every single thing they taught. In fact, John 21:25 tells us,
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
Catholics do their best to value and uphold both the written and oral teachings that were passed down from the apostles. Protestants look to the written teachings (the Bible) only.
Myth 4: Catholics Believe the Pope is Never Wrong
Catholics do believe that God guides the church through the Pope, but this doesn’t mean the Pope never makes mistakes or can’t sin. Papal infallibility ONLY applies to official doctrinal declarations, it must be on religious matters, and whatever the Pope declares must be in line with Scripture and tradition.
And, for the record, only two official declarations have ever been made throughout history, so it isn’t a privilege that is used often.
Myth 5: Catholics Aren’t Christians
Catholics consider themselves to be the original Christians, who are doing their best to hold the same beliefs and traditions that the church held in the first century.
According to Catholics, both Catholics and Protestants are Christians, and both Catholics and Protestants can go to Heaven. The Protestant denominations are simply offshoots of Catholicism that branched off over various theological disagreements.
Myth 6: Catholics Worship Mary, Saints, and Statues
Catholics do not worship Mary or statues; they worship God alone.
Instead, they “venerate” Mary, which, according to Google, is just a fancy word for “regard with great respect.” Similar to how we would show great honor or respect to a King or Queen, without actually worshiping them, Catholics hold Mary and other saints in high esteem as good examples of how to live a faithful life.
If Catholics’ hearts are in the right place — and they only want to show honor — then it’s not worship.
Myth 7: Catholics Believe People Are Saved by Works
The Catholic Church does NOT teach that people are saved by their works. In fact, the catechism of the Catholic Church actually specifically forbids this notion.
Rather, the Catholic Churches basically teaches that if you call yourself a Christian, but you don’t act like it, maybe you’re not really a Christian after all. Or, said another way: Yes, God saves you through faith, but it’s a living faith that naturally produces good works.
Your faith doesn’t save you. But if you have a saving faith, you’ll naturally want to do good work.
Myth 8: Catholics Believe They Can Sin All They Want and Go to Confession
This false belief (called “presumption”) is definitely against Catholic teaching.
While Catholics can always confess their sins to a priest to have their sins forgiven, and there are no limits to the number of sins that can be forgiven, the Church does not teach or encourage Catholics to sin “all they want because it’s just going to be forgiven anyway.”
Myth 9: The Catholic Church Discriminates Against Others By Not Letting Them Partake in Communion
While it is true that Catholics have a “closed communion,” meaning that you have to be a Catholic in good standing to participate, this does not mean they discriminate against other faith traditions or denominations.
Instead, it’s because they view the Eucharist as Jesus’s actual body and blood and regard it so highly that they would never want it to be in the hands of anyone who might not treat it with the utmost respect and reverence.
Myth 10: The Catholic Church Added Books to the Bible
The books that are currently in the Catholic Bible are the same books that the church has recognized as being in the Bible for centuries. It wasn’t until the 16th century that Martin Luther and the Reformers moved them to the appendix before they were ultimately taken out.
(For the record, Martin Luther wanted to remove James, Hebrew, Jude, and Revelations as well but was unsuccessful. The books that he did remove are called Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, and Baruch.)
Whether or not these additional books should have been left in or taken out, we can’t say for sure. Either way, no core theological doctrine of the Catholic Church rests primarily or solely on verses included in the deuterocanonical books. As you read the Bible for yourself, you’re welcome to include these books or leave them out.
Myth 11: Catholic Priests Can’t Be Married
(Some) Priests are married! Some even have children and grandchildren.
This happens when a man is already married and a priest in a different denomination and then converts to Catholicism later. And of those who become priests the usual way and aren’t allowed to get married–not all of them even want to be.
Additionally, priests know what they’re signing up for. They have a choice between God and a wife, and it is their choice to make. No one is forcing them to choose one or the other.
Myth 12: Catholics Re-crucify Jesus at Mass
Catholics do not re-crucify Jesus at Mass. Instead, they believe that Jesus and the crucifixion occur outside the limits of time, so when they celebrate Mass, they are only making the Eucharist sacrifice (which has already occurred) “present” on the altar.
This is a subtle distinction, but an important one!
Myth 13: Catholics Believe Only Catholics Can Go to Heaven
While Catholics do believe their religion is the one true religion and the ordinary (most common) means of bringing people to salvation, it is a common Catholic misconception that they believe this is the only way.
Instead, they recognize that God can use any means He wants to bring people to Himself, including those other than the Catholic church, especially if the person has never had the opportunity or knowledge to join the church.
Myth 14: All (or Most) Catholic Priests Harm Children
Yes, the Catholic church has had huge and horrible scandals in which some priests were harming children. This was absolutely awful and shameful, and they will have to stand before Jesus for what they did.
But if you look at the statistics, only a very small minority of priests were involved, and it isn’t really fair to blame every priest or dismiss Catholicism as a whole for what a few did.
Does the Catholic church need reform in this area? Absolutely. Is every priest guilty of harming children? Absolutely not.
Myth 15: The Catholic Church is Anti-Women
The church isn’t anti-anyone. They do believe birth control is morally wrong — the same thing every denomination believed until 1930. But when pretty much every other denomination began to change its mind, the Catholic church held its ground on this teaching.
The Catholic church also doesn’t allow women to be priests, which has upset many. But if you look at the rate of women in non-priest leadership positions, it is WAY higher than average.
The Catholic church may not do things the “feminist” way, but they do hold women in very high esteem, even referring to them as the “crown of creation.”
Is the Eucharist Really Just a Symbol? 5 Convincing Proofs that Say That It’s Not
Whether or not the Eucharist is the real body and blood isn’t merely an opinion. Study what the Bible actually says, and you might just find a few “proofs” you never considered before!
Here are 5 compelling reasons why the Eucharist is the real body and blood, 4 of which come straight from the Bible.
5 Common Misconceptions About the Bible
Think you know the Bible? Think again.
While holding a few misconceptions about the Bible may not always be dangerous, unfortunately, there are 5 incredibly common biblical misconceptions that can prevent us from reading, understanding, and enjoying God’s Word as much as we’d like.
Sola Fide: Is Faith Alone Enough for Salvation?
While it’s certainly true that God can and will forgive us and love us no matter what we do, does that mean our good deeds don’t matter at all?
According to the popular Protestant doctrine of sola fide, we are saved by faith alone. But what does the Bible say?
Yes, Christians Should Judge. Here’s Why.
Tired of judgemental Christians? Me too.
But, unfortunately, simply scolding someone online isn’t enough to make all the judgmental haters quit with their biting comments.
Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, the Bible actually says Christians should judge.
Here’s what the Bible says on the matter, why Christians should judge others (at times), and why you probably should too.
10 Famous People You Didn’t Know Were Catholic
Celebrities and other famous people often keep their personal beliefs and religious affiliations private, but sometimes, their faith is an essential part of their lives. While some famous people openly embrace their Catholic faith, others may surprise you with their devoutness.
In this article, we’ll explore ten famous people you may not have known were catholic.