Why I am a Catholic, Why I am Not a Catholic
The Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Focus on the pope vs. the parishoner. My understanding of my faith doesn’t force me to rely on the Pope for interpretation of scripture. I don’t think the Pope, although he may be a very good “Christian,” doesn’t have more of a claim to a hold on interpretation of scripture than a preacher, pastor, or church leader.
The Catholic church positioning the Pope as a unique conduit to God:
1) Doesn’t seem to have a Biblical basis (the upon this church verse on which Catholicism seems to rest most all its ideological marbles seems to be a misreading in my humble opinion.)
2) Seems to trade off with personal and local engagement with the Bible (and faith). This is critically important to maintaining personal relationships with God.
3) Can contribute in negative ways to stereotypes about religion and the Christian faith more broadly (I don’t think this is an outright reason, but certainly something to consider. But it does makes it far easier to conflate all Christians with Catholicism.)
The hierarchy in the Catholic church doesnt not seem to be supported by the model of the Acts 2 church. To be fair, not many churches in the Protestant or evangelical vein live up 100% to an Acts 2 model. (see also personal faith and engagement above).
Third, the ability of the church to cover up or ignore the abuse issue, while initially partially understandable, seems at this point to wholly without justification. The hierarchy and lack of transparency of such a large organization seems odd to me–an organizational model we know doesn’t work.
Fourth, the extreme emphasis placed on Mary by the Catholic faith is no where found in scripture to. She was a conduit for goodness to come into the world, but beyond raising him and birthing him (while amazing and probably “awesome”) doesn’t deserve a special position in the Christian faith.
Some Other Thoughts on the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Catholic Church
As a side note, I’m not sure what I think of para-church organizations, particularly the requirement to support parachurch organizations (which don’t seem to have one to one accountability or transparency).
Also, (from the outside) it seems that the Catholic church does a decent job of supporting nuns and priests, which I think some churches don’t do as well (I’m sure some do better). I think people who want to preach the word or do ministry should (in many cases although not necessary universally) receive more support than they do.
I think its interesting that the Catholic church has in the past found the value in supporting the arts (I don’t know how consistently it has done so and to what extent). Other faiths I think have a problem with this, although perhaps not a biblical one except that artists (painters, musicians, writers) in their own way can be (and are) missionaries of the faith.