While I am a practicing Catholic and I do love my faith I also believe the Church has a few issues that I do not agree with. They are nothing big but they do make me realize I do not agree with the church 100%. With what I have read about this site, it almost sounds as if my views would not be welcome. Should I not bother joining Ave Maria Singles?
First, let me thank you for the consideration that you have put into joining Ave Maria Singles. I applaud the fact that you are considering this factor before you join. It is important for people to feel comfortable about joining a service like ours.
I am not sure what the few issues are that you do not agree with regarding the Church’s teachings. It is safe to say that if you publicly voice your disagreement on these issues on your profile once you become a member, you will likely have much fewer possibilities among the membership. Not all our members believe all the Church teaches. Some believe but have a hard time understanding particular teachings. We do not like to police this site and remove people who do join but do not believe the Church’s teachings 100%. That’s why we chose to let the questionnaire share that kind of information.
That being said, the majority of our members do believe completely in the Church’s teachings. So if you join, you will have to accept that you will not come across too many who share your views. However, depending on what these issues are that you disagree with, it is possible that people will be understanding about your disagreement and still remain open to interacting with you, and maybe even developing a relationship. You very well might find some others who share your disagreement. My point is that you will be among a minority, and thus will have much fewer opportunities within the membership.
What I really would like to know is if you, in fact, “disagree” with the Church’s teachings, or is it that you just struggle with the few issues that concern you. There is a big difference between struggling while believing and total disagreement. Or is it that perhaps you do not properly know the Church’s teachings on these issues or were badly taught about them? Even those of us who believe 100% of what the Church teaches can struggle with understanding a teaching, or due to bad religious education, we have the wrong idea what a teaching is. A struggle to understand a teaching, or not properly knowing the teaching can affect the way we act in our lives. But it does not mean that we are not sincerely practicing the faith.
Take the issue of the use of artificial contraception, one of the biggest issues that separates Catholics today. Many people understand fully that the use of artificial contraception is never permitted to be used in marriage, and they also understand why, yet they choose to proceed. This would constitute a Catholic who is not practicing their Catholic faith. However, there are plenty of others who have been badly catechized and taught by Church authority figures that it is up to the couple to determine if contraception is used in their marriage. As they proceed in this belief that artificial contraception is acceptable, they run into problems with other Catholics who tell them it is never permitted. They sincerely think they are correct and therefore a sincere, practicing Catholic. I have personally shared the true teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue with hundreds of single Catholics who believed it was okay to use contraception, who later changed their position on it and began living the true teaching, even though they might still struggle with understanding.
We are required to believe all the Catholic Church teaches and to live those teachings. We are not required to understand it all, and it is okay to have a struggle with certain teachings. As Catholics, we do not have the luxury of saying “I don’t understand why the Church teaches that so I will just not do it,” or the like. As a Catholic, we have a duty to seek out the truth, and to pray for guidance and strength to know the truth and live the truth.
So what is a “practicing Catholic?” One who submits to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church with loyalty and humility, who earnestly desires to know what the Catholic Church teaches, who makes the effort to learn and understand these teachings, to inform their consciences correctly under the guidance of the Catholic Church, and to live their Catholic Faith based on all they know and hold to be truth that has come to them through the teachings of the Catholic Church. So be a practicing Catholic is simply to be “Catholic.” The word “Catholic” should be the only word necessary to describe what kind of Catholic we are. To add other terms to it, though helpful these days in order to designate, should not be necessary. If you say “I am a Catholic,” it should imply that you are “practicing.” Unfortunately, that is not enough today. Too many say they are Catholic but do not want to live all the Church teaches.
I don’t want to discourage you from joining. I certainly don’t want to pass any judgment on you when you say you are a practicing Catholic. I believe completely that each person is on their own journey with the Holy Spirit on the path to Heaven. No one has the right to pass judgment about anyone else’s faith. We can judge an action as being wrong or sinful, or judge that a definition of a Church teaching is wrong or misguided, but never the person.
I hope you will consider what I have said. If you do join, you are welcome in our membership. And please, be completely honest in how you present yourself. But just accept that you will be among a minority if you take the position of disagreeing with Church teaching and will have far less opportunities of finding someone who shares your view. God willing, you will not be confronted judgmentally or uncharitably by any members. But if you do, please know they are only trying to be helpful, though the way they approach you is wrong. And you are free to report them to AMS because no is permitted to do this based on our Rules of Use.
Finally, I want to also encourage you to read about these issues in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and really pray about what you read and ask for help in accepting the teachings.
I hope this helps.
Yours in Christ,