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Ignorance of faith risks creating cafeteria Catholics, says Pope

By on Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Pope Benedict XVI at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square (Photo: PA)

Pope Benedict XVI at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square (Photo: PA)

Ignorance of the faith puts Christians at risk of following a “do-it-yourself” religion, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

People need to become more familiar with the Creed because it is there that the “Christian moral life is planted and … one finds its foundation and justification”, the Pope said today at his weekly general audience.

Before an estimated 20,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Pope began a new series of audience talks to accompany the Year of Faith, which marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

He said he hoped the series of instructional talks, which is expected to run until November 24, 2013, will help people “strengthen or rediscover the joy of faith and realise that it isn’t something foreign to or separate from everyday life, but is its soul”.

Pope Benedict said the widespread and dominant nature of today’s secularism, individualism and relativism means that even Christians are not completely “immune from these dangers”.

Some of the negative effects include faith being lived “passively or in private, a refusal to learn about the faith, and the rift between faith and life”, he said.

“Often Christians don’t even know the central core of their own Catholic faith – the Creed – thereby leaving room for a certain syncretism and religious relativism,” he said. Without a clear idea of the faith’s fundamental truths and the uniquely salvific nature of Christianity, “the risk of constructing a so-called ‘do-it-yourself’ religion is not remote today”.

“Where do we find the essential formula of the faith? Where do we find the truths that have been faithfully handed down and make up the light of our daily life,” he asked.

He said the answer is the creed, or profession of faith, which needs to be better understood, reflected upon and integrated into one’s life.

Christians need to “discover the profound link between the truths we profess in the creed and our daily life” so that these truths are allowed to transform the “deserts of modern-day life”.

The Christian faith is not a belief in an idea or just an outlook on life, he said, but a relationship with the living person of Christ who transforms lives.

That is why having faith in God isn’t merely an intellectual activity, but something that “truly changes everything in us and for us; it clearly reveals our future destiny, the truth of our vocation within history, the meaning of life and the pleasure of being pilgrims heading toward the heavenly home”.

Pope Benedict said faith doesn’t take anything away from one’s life, rather it is what renders life more just and humane.

Current cultural changes “often show many forms of barbarity, which hide under the guise of victories won by civilisation,” he said. However, “wherever there is domination, possessiveness, exploitation, treating others as a commodity”, and arrogance, humankind is “impoverished, degraded and disfigured”.

Faith shows that humanity will not find its full realisation unless the human person “is animated by the love that comes from God”, he said. The gift of faith then finds expression in “relationships full of love, compassion, care and selfless service toward others”.

Hundreds of pilgrims from Honolulu; Whitehorse, Canada; and Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, Alaska, attended the general audience with their bishops. They were in Rome for the canonisation of Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai, Hawaii, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a Native American who was born in upstate New York and died in Canada in 1680.

The Pope also marked International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, observed on October 17, to promote greater awareness of poverty and destitution worldwide.

The Pope encouraged those working to end poverty to “preserve the dignity and rights of everyone who is condemned to be subjected to the scourge of poverty”.

  • Lukewarm9901414

    Ignorance of the Faith doesn’t risk creating cafeteria Catholics, it’s been creating them for three generations, now!

  • teigitur

    Thats exactly what our “Cathoilc” schools have been creating for the last 40 years.

  • Benedict Carter

    Sometimes I think even the Holy Father, let alone fatuous clerics like ++ Longley (“ecumenism makes us better at evangelisation”!) are having a big belly laugh at the Catholic world that has been destroyed by them.

    Children once knew their catechism, which they were taught.

    Now they don’t even know the “Our Father” ( a niece at a Catholic school in Norwich, Norfolk, looked at me blankly when I asked her if she could say it).

  • Openmined

    Most RCs in the western world do not fully agree 100% with the RCC teachings that they know which means that they are cafeteria RCs. Just ask them.

  • Benedict Carter

    You are an open-cast coal mine or you are trying to tell us you are open-minDed? 

    Apart from that, I am not sure that I (or anyone else) can follow your banter.

  • Sweetjae

    Accusing the Supreme Pontiff of the Church of destroying the Faith is a grievous and serious charge. How dare you, a self-declared-righteous man! why don’t you elect yourself or anyone of your fancy to be your pope? Go build your own church like Fr. Kelley of the SSPV did.

  • Sweetjae

    To Mr. Benedict Carter,

    See your language to me Mr. Carter in another thread? You said “idiotic”? Then when I wrote the same to you, you cried foul! Anyways, speaking of questions, you admitted that a catholic has to submit to the Authoritative Teachings of ALL the Councils of the Church with varying levels of obedience, therefore, at the end of the day, a catholic MUST STILL has to give his assent and obedience of whatever level, right? Now the question is, DO YOU BENEDICT give your assent and obedience to all the Teachings of Council of VII? Yes or No would suffice.

    And WHERE does it say in Scripture or Tradition that a catholic can refuse obedience to any legit Council if its nature happened to be Pastoral? WHERE? Can you provide some evidence from the 2 Source of Faith NOT from the articles and opinions of Lefebvre or dubious people of SSPX?

    Until you answer these two questions, you have no position and credibilty to hold on to.

  • Sweetjae

    Until you people from the SSPX learn to distinguish between the free, willful acts of men (some in the clergy too) due to their lust for material and other wordily things AND the real Teachings of the Church at VII that has NOTHING to do with these unfortunate willful and sinful acts, you and SSPX will always be barking at the wrong tree. Waste of their energy and time. Sad.

  • Benedict Carter

    Exactly. I sometimes find myself thinking that these clerics of the post-Vatican II Church are having a big, fat belly laugh at us Catholics. 

  • JabbaPapa

    Oh good grief give it a rest !!!!

    You have NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to subject dear Benedict to any Inquisitorial questioning of this kind !!!

    It is one thing to disagree with ideas put forward by people, in a spirit of Charity and Faith — quite another to start engaging in hostile internet flame wars attempting (and BTW failing) to impugn upon their character and their honour.

    Please — cease and desist from these unworthy and inherently uncatholic actions.

  • Sweetjae

    Demeaning and debasing words to Succesors of the Apostles, coming from a man whose beliefs are of arrogance.

  • Sweetjae

    JabbaPappa, you have NO RIGHT to say that I have no right to free and honest speech and inquiry, do you understand that? You have no right to tell me I’m being ridiculous and uncharitable because of ad hominem when you yourself are quilty of the same sin.

    My inquiry is JUST and I repeated it because your friend Mr. Carter is putting his negative opinion about me without even answering my fair question as yourself been found greatly mistaken on Garabandal. So don’t try to preach me about uncatholic actions, tell it to your friend first, secondly do it yourself then you can advise that to me or anyone else here, is that fair?

    I respected you before now I really doubt your sincerity.

  • Benedict Carter

    Dear Jabba, don’t worry. The individual’s illiterate rantings aren’t worth it. Your sentiments above are reciprocated by me.

  • Benedict Carter

    All readers may well have some (or many) of their questions on several different issues answered by a *careful* reading of the interview shown here on the Rorate Caeli blog:

  • JabbaPapa

    Cripes, I’ve never seen a more pitifully self-centred Modernist and Relativist rant.

    It’s actually *unusual* to be a Modernist and a Relativist simultaneously — that’s not a compliment BTW.

  • Patrickhowes

    Now you are talking!These are seriously guilty

  • Patrickhowes

    Because they do not uderstand he reason behind it!

  • Jon Brownridge

     As a Catholic school teacher and head master, I beg to differ.

  • Jon Brownridge

    One can disagree with aspects of David Cameron’s Government and still be British. Likewise, one can disagree with certain Vatican directives and still be Catholic.

  • sclerotic

     God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, consubstantial with the Father. I know I don’t understand this and given as Aquinas points out God’s esse is His existence I’m not sure I put much faith in its utility. See how these Christians love one another seems to have a better grip on evangelical theology (mythos not logos) and has been the only effective force for conversion through the centuries.

  • Parasum

    “****risks**** creating” ? 

  • Benedict Carter

    “If there is no poverty that can be compared to that of the one who ignores the truth of the Faith, the instruction of the Catechism alone may bring order, peace, justice and charity among men.”

    Saint Pius X , in a letter to Cardinal Ferrari of Milan (1910)The Catechism of Christian Doctrine, widely known as “Catechism of Saint Pius X”, was officially made public exactly 100 years ago, on October 18, 1912. Conceived by the Pope in his permanent regard for the needs of each lay faithful, it was an important piece of his program of restoring all things in Christ – first in the Ecclesiastical Province of Rome, then, by example, throughout the Church.

  • Kevin

    You can be guilty of treason and still be British.

    Are you saying that Catholicism is just “the place where you were born”?

  • Kevin

    The article links to the Nicene Creed, but it seems the Apostles’ Creed, which begins the Rosary and is used to structure the Catechism, is just as useful in daily life.

  • evangeline ofrasio

    well said, Holy Father.  may all Christians be united in Faith in a troubled world like ours.  GOD BLESS YOU! Pope Benedict XVI.

  • Sweetjae

    Thanks Jabba (big fly from Star Wars)  Geesh I have never seen a more self-righteous and hypocritical diatribe. Its actually unsual to find a fake and egocentric simultaneously.

    We don’t need a compliment from a charlatan BTW.

  • Sweetjae

    Huh? I have a Masters in Mathematics in the U.S., how about you, what academic credential level do you have? Boasting that you are right and the Council is wrong…a famous liberal, modernist protestant once said, “Ecumenical Councils can err”…..wonder who?

  • Sweetjae

    Pity as much as you like, I don’t really care coming from a FRAUDULENT AND POMPOUS source. 

  • InformedAndFree

    Really? Which Vatican directives?

  • Sweetjae

    And what’s your name calling and falsely accusing me of all about? Me? as Modernist and Relativist? How? Then call yourself a good catholic, Jabba? Shame on you. 

  • teigitur

    Would you like to expand on that Mr Brownridge?(Bearing in mind your comment below!)

  • JabbaPapa

    Doctrinal questions are not resolved by the use of mathematical formulae.

    Oh — and BAD IDEA to start comparing your intellectual pedigree with that of others in here …

  • AnthonyPatrick

     Amen. You sing the true note of authentic oecumenism: evangelizing for the Faith, One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic, to believers, un-believers, those of other faiths and none.  The Holy Catholic Church is not OF the world but, as established by Christ on Earth, it is IN the world. 

    As Catholic men and women we, too, are in the world: a world which, as you say, is troubled.  As such, we must listen to others like Christ, challenge others like Christ, correct others like Christ and instruct others like Christ.  And, it should go without saying, all of that goes for one another as Catholics, too. 

    The New Testament is our Path.  The Church is our guide.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church signposts the Way for ourselves and all Christians to be united in Faith.

    We are truly blessed to have the deposit of our Faith, as we humbly learn to cooperate with the will of God through Christ Our Lord, to whom we strive to be conformed by the working of His divine Grace in our lives, in unity with the Holy Spirit.    

    God bless you, Evangeline

  • Colin Sense

    No they can not!  No wonder children of this day and age are lacking in Catholic instruction when teachers and headmasters such as yourself make such comments.

  • Jon Brownridge

     The Religious Education curriculum taught in our Catholic schools is approved by the Council of Catholic Bishops.We encourage our students to use their God-given intellect to think for themselves in the spirit of Vatican II.

  • scary goat

     Good afternoon mr C.  I’m not back, still having a break, just popped in because I wanted to tell you something.  And this thread is relevant.

    I went to a TLM this morning at the SSPX place……first time ever.  Oh my goodness! I’m still in shock. I thought I knew more or less what to expect…..but I didn’t.

    2 things struck me:

    First of all, how much of it ISN’T there in the NO. It’s been butchered.

    Secondly, Oh my goodness, how “uneducated” I am! Me and anyone my age or younger …..3 generations.  We don’t know what it used to be.  I found it so difficult to follow….it’s going to take me forever to catch up.  Now they are reintroducing the TLM….but most of us haven’t got a clue. Damage has been done….3 generations of damage.

    I’m not necessarily against the use of the vernacular……it’s all the other things.  Why didn’t they leave it as it was and just translate it?

    Oh my poor head. I’m confused.

  • daclamat

    JabbaPapa and Benedict Carter: are you finally coming out? Congratulations. Or is just a mutual admiration socitey?

  • Benedict Carter


  • Benedict Carter

    Scary, you have made not only my day but my month!!!! 

    Absolutely delighted for you!

    You will need a Missal and learn how to use it (not difficult). Then you’ll be able to follow all the prayers proper for that Mass, not just the ordinary or fixed part of the Mass.

    And you’ll need 15-20 times before you “feel at home”. 

    Big, big grin at my end! Well done Sir!!

    PS Would love you to post your message at the top of the closing parishes debate. 

    And your final question. Because they wished to destroy the Mass, in consequence the Priesthood and through both, the Church.

  • Cjkeeffe

    I’ve been a catholic all my life so far …
    I went to catholic primary school and only asserted my faith when i went to a state secondary school. Many young people leave catholic school not knowing teh Our father, Hail mary and Glory Be, but knowing about Islam and judaism.
    True ecumenism is boldly stating what the Catholic chuirch teaches not being scared and saying the faith don’t matter.
    For too long we have been taught the myth of catholic guilt. i’m castholic i don’t feel any guilt i try and live a good life. I fail i seek reconcilation and move on. Wheres the guilt – ahh that’s right in the media and the chunky sweaters who saythat the VCII taught us that teh catholic church is no longer the tre church. yes there are some questionable parts of these docuemnts but teh VCII taught taht the catholic church is teh sacrement of salvation to the church – what a great honour to be part of it.
    We just need to read to the cathechism and teh great encylicals of the popes.

  • scary goat

     I can’t help thinking it’s a bit like this:

    Precocious child at school says:  Sir, your answer on the board is wrong.  He is not a naughty child defying the teacher for the sake of it.  He is actually right.  It makes a very awkward situation.  In a way he is wrong to defy the teacher….and the teacher can’t be seen to give in to him, because it will give license to others with less genuine motives to defy. But what if the child is actually right? And on reflection the teacher realises the child was right?  Then the teacher needs to make “political” moves to put it right without being seen to have been “mistaken”.

    This all gets more complicated when the “headmaster” is The Holy Spirit and approved the lesson plan.  I haven’t figured that out yet….I’m not pretending to know.

    I wish you’d stop picking on mr. C though.  No-one is forcing you to agree with him.  I disagree with him sometimes.  So do others.  But if you speak to him nicely, he’s actually very kind.  There’s no need to “attack” him. 

  • Jon Brownridge

     No, Kevin, I’m saying the Church is much more than the Church Government. There are 1.2 billion Catholics around the world and WE are the Church. There is always room for respectful disagreement.

  • Benedict Carter

    Interesting how Church liberals demand “ownership” of the Church as if it were a commodity to control or buy and sell. 

    It belongs to Christ, not to you.

  • daclamat

    Ever since BXVI told us to I’ve been meditating on the creed as never before. I’m stuck. Et ex patre natum ante omnia saecula. As a biological affirmation, it doesn’t make sense. Higg’s boson doesn’t make me any the wiser. I do wish these popes and alikes would stop plucking doctrines from the sky and then telling us to be true to thee till death. Jesus was uncomplicated.  I stopped wondering where, when and how I was conceived when I grew out of my teens, even though when I looked at my mum and dad I couldn’t help but wonder. I find it hard to believe that Jesus puzzled about being consubstantial, but then teenagers do get strange ideas.

  • daclamat

    Don’t worry. Jesus said that anyone who said “raka” would get it. Benedict and Jabba have just come out. I’m the first to congratulate them, althought they do go over the top with their mutual admiration.

  • daclamat

    Cheating.  This is by the Econ bovver boys. Excommunicated.  Don’t say you’ve joined them.

  • Benedict Carter

    Grow up.

  • sclerotic


    The problem goes back to the thirteenth century when William
    of Ockham persuaded his peers that it was possible to make statements about God
    which were factual. Prior to this Greek and Latin Fathers alike had accepted
    that ordinary everday sorts of truth were amenable to words (logos) but that
    religious truth was to be experienced by being taken out of this world
    (ekstasis) in a process of gradual intimation of the divine (e.g. you do not
    look at an icon for an image of a saint to identify them, you look at the image
    to enter into the mystery that that saint now enjoys in heaven). This is what
    the ancient greeks understood as mythos. The fourteenth century swept it away,
    increasingly dogma left the realm of mythos and was exclusively the realm of
    logos. Around this insistence that creedal statements were not mysteries but
    truths there arose a relentless argument through the reformation and counter
    reformation as to what was truth and what was heresy and both sides happily
    burnt opponents who declined to accept their version. Bellarmine pursued a
    rigorous programme of dogmatics and so shaped the practice of the counter
    reformation church. So the Tridentine catechism could say that God is the
    Supreme Being who alone exists of himself and is infinite in all perfections
    (i.e. God is just a very exalted being about whom we can assert various
    truths).  I suggest you give up trying to
    understand the creed – the Ecumenical Councils never intended it as a sequence
    of propositional statements requiring assent but instead do as the fathers of Nicaea
    and Chalcedon intended and enter
    into the mystery by prayer and by living out the ever unfolding truth of the
    Divine life in you.

  • daclamat

    Try telling that to Ben! Can you imagine the scene in Starbuck’s?    I admire your generosity in trying to educate me. Too late, I’m afraid. As regards Ockham, I admire his razor:among competing hypotheses, the one which makes the fewest assumptions should be selected. I think about the Christians waiting to go out into the Coliseum. I’m sure their last thoughts were about propositional statements requiring assent.kai o logos sarx egeneto: if you look at the sarx of Jesus, his ancestry, it’s pretty murky.  And there’s the wonder.  If Ben and co would condescend  to descend to the real world they might learn a thing or three. A propos, if the councils didn’t intend to be understood, why did they say anything at all? I rather think God gave me my intelligence to use it. Bellarmine. I’m glad I’m not Bruno Giordiano. Is this what shaping the practice of the counter reformation church means?

  • JabbaPapa

    Your post is generally interesting, but THIS statement :

    So the Tridentine catechism could say that God is the Supreme Being who alone exists of himself and is infinite in all perfections (i.e. God is just a very exalted being about whom we can assert various truths)

    is inaccurate.

    The only reason why we can state some truths about God is because He has revealed them to us.

    Your claim that the Tridentine catechism somehow reduces God into a mere “being” is not based on an accurate understanding of that catechism.

    It is, in fact, heretical — and it seems that the heresy in question is the Modernist one.