Q: Can you be a Catholic and not agree with everything the Church teaches?
A: Sure you can… feel free… disagree all you want… except for Dogmatic and Doctrine stuff. You can’t mess with them. You see, the Catholics are in on letting her members make most of their own choices. Her members make most of their own choices. It’s important to remember that we as a people and we as a church give great value to “free will” because it’s such a beautiful gift from God. So when the church puts something out, it is more often than not, just giving us some guidance and explanation through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s use the example of Pope John Paul II’s letter Familiaris Consortio (which is a big fancy way of saying, The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World…I mean there seems to be a lot more words than in the Latin, but trust me I know what it means). This letter is teaching on how families should try to show their Christianity by living lives of holiness. It also gives ways to evangelize, foster vocations to the religious, to help married couples bring Christ deeper into their marriages. But if a Catholic read this letter and said “No thanks.” That would be okay (not to bright on their part…because this is an incredible teaching from the Holy Father) since it was written so that “the Church offers her services to every person who wonders about the destiny of marriage and the family” (Paragraph #1).
Okay, I mentioned Dogmas and Doctrines, those are the beliefs that define us a Church and teach us unchanging truths about God. Well let me just give you an example…on December 8, 1854, Pope Pius XI made it a Doctrine of the church that Mary was conceived without Original Sin. So in the simplest terms, God wanted it, the Holy Spirit sent it, the Holy Father said it, and we believe it! There’s a great section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 88-90 on this subject and if you click on the Vatican’s website they can give you a whole lot of the Dogmas and Doctrines of the Church.
Now a brief personal note: It is certain the choice of anyone to disagree with the personal teachings of the Church, but let me just say this…why? The Church, as she is being guided by the Holy Spirit is so much wiser than any one of use alone and sure, there are times when we are asked to do things that will make us unpopular or will make life a little more difficult, but so what! To live the faith means to stand in the face of the world and it calls us to push ourselves to greater levels of living the Christian message, and in the end, that’s all the Church gives us…the Christian message.