Home Forums All Things Catholic The terrible stereotypes of the Catholic Church

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    Before I joined the Catholic Church through the RCIA program, the only things I knew about is was that:
    -Nuns whacked children on the wrists with rulers if they misbehaved
    -Catholics can’t eat meat on Fridays during Lenten season
    -Catholics made the sign of the cross
    -exorcisms are epic battles between the priest and the possessed
    -the Anti-Christ will come through the Catholic Church
    -the Pope is the head of the church
    -they use holy water
    -and the worst of these, that priests are lustful child molesters

    After much study and understanding, these stereotypes are not true. But why did they came around to be?


    Well, to a certain extent there are grains of truth in most of them.

    [i:1rh037f3]-Nuns whacked children on the wrists with rulers if they misbehaved[/i:1rh037f3]
    This did happen in some (if not many) Catholic schools in the USA around the 1960s and earlier.

    [i:1rh037f3]-Catholics can’t eat meat on Fridays during Lenten season[/i:1rh037f3]
    That’s entirely true – it’s for real, still exists, still the norm.

    [i:1rh037f3]-Catholics made the sign of the cross[/i:1rh037f3]
    Yep, we do that too, but sometimes Lutherans and Anglicans too.

    [i:1rh037f3]-exorcisms are epic battles between the priest and the possessed[/i:1rh037f3]
    maybe – I’ve never seen one (thank God) <img decoding=” title=”Smile” />

    [i:1rh037f3]-the Anti-Christ will come through the Catholic Church[/i:1rh037f3]
    It’s possible, but probably not in the “Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon” way that some people are taught.

    [i:1rh037f3]-the Pope is the head of the church[/i:1rh037f3]
    Yes and no. The pope stands in as an ambassador for Christ. It’s all scriptural too.

    [i:1rh037f3]-they use holy water[/i:1rh037f3]
    We definitely do that too. <img decoding=” title=”Cool” />

    [i:1rh037f3]-and the worst of these, that priests are lustful child molesters[/i:1rh037f3]
    The truth here is that a small percentage of all the priests in the USA and worldwide are child molesters. The abuse scandal got a lot of media attention and many people, ones that are against the Church, unfairly characterize all priests as child molesters. It’s very sad, but not true. There are many, many good and faithful men who could never conceive of doing such harm to another person serving in the priesthood.


    Thanks Jon <img decoding=” title=”Smile” /> That’s been nagging at me recently


    The list that I have made were more on the lines of what I knew before I became Catholic. Now I know that some are true and others aren’t


    To Jon’s answers I’ll add.

    There are several reasons, usually a mix of reasons. Most people want to be correct. Allmost all cultures and sub-cultures think they have the best, most rational, and fittest group to rule. This part of (fallen) human nature is true among people of faith too. Even when a religion does not teach something you will find members of that religion who do not exemplify or live up to the teachings of the religion they profess, or where raised in. You can make a name for yourself, and quite a bit of money by denouncing the Catholic Faith, or promoting any number of conspiracy theories. If you have something bad to say about something or someone who is different than yourself, you will draw a crowd much faster than if you have something good to say.

    Maria Monk et al. There was a woman in the 1800’s who called herself Maria Monk. She was a prostitute of very limited education who was taken in by some nuns in Canada who worked among disadvantaged and “fallen” women. They tried to teach these women trades, how to do laundry and sew, housekeeping etc. so they could have a trade and work in honest jobs rather than on the streets. Well an Anti-Catholic Protestant minister started up a relationship with her after she left the convent school not wanting to go through all the training, and work. They came up with the idea of promoting her to Protestant groups as an ex-nun who would expose the evils of convent life. Between the book he wrote under her assumed name, and the speaking tours, they made lots of money. She told tales of tunnels under the convent linking it to a Male Monastary that priests and nuns would use to meet each other. She told lurid tales of young nuns being raped and forced into having sex with lust filled priests. When nuns refused they where starved, and put between mattresses as priests and nuns jumped up and down on the top mattress in order to kill the nun who refused. If a nun became pregnant, she said the baby was stangled and the body was hidden in the tunnel. She told tales of women being kidnapped off the street and forced to do laundry for the nuns and priests. She described in great detail all the different rooms and hallways, tunnells and secret prisions of the “Hotel de Dieu” in Quebec Provence in Canada. The frenzy and fame (or infamy) of “Maria Monk” was spread so far and wide that an investigation was called for which was led by a prominent Protestant minister who went through the convent (Hotel de Dieu) and found that not only where the tales unfounded, but the convent did not even remotely resemble her descriptions, no rooms or hallways where she had described them, no evidence of any tunnels even the cells (individual bedrooms) of the nuns did not match up. The women who where being taught by the nuns, and lived in a different rooming house provided by the sisters did not know anything about the tales Maria had told. Even with this evidence the Maria Monk books and another set of books by a French ex-priest by the name of Chinquery continue to be published as true stories by groups of Anti-Catholics. The publishers of the Maria Monk books of today don’t tell their readers that Maria was discredited, and after being passed around between a few more protestant ministers died after being arrested for pickpocketing and having relapsed into prostitution.

    Chinquery was expelled from the priesthood because he had seduced women, and did not reform his life.) He later jumped from Church to Church as a minister in each denomination but was found unfit by each one to serve. His ability to get the position of Pastor in each Protestant sect was based on how he would “expose” the evils of the Catholic Church. His two most famous books where “Fifty Years in the Church of Rome” and “The priest, the woman, and the Confessional” In the books he described how priests used the confessional to gain control over women and seduce or molest them. What he did not tell his reader is he was guilty of this, and once the bishop of his diocese found out about it he was expelled for it. Sales of his book kept money coming in to Chinquery, and those who promoted him.

    These two examples promoted the fantasies and fears of non-catholics who had been brought up to beleive that the Pope was the Anti-Christ.

    Another source of “Expose” was a book written by a Calvanist bishop named Alexander Hislop. At the time of his book many Protestants not only denied the real presence in the Eucharist, but there was a popular movement denying the Trinity, and the Virgin Birth. A good summary of his most famous book can be found on Wikipedia at this link,
    [url:3bs5yfl6]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Two_Babylons[/url:3bs5yfl6] Look up Maria Monk, and while I have not reviewed what the Chinquery posting there says, If they have one, I’m sure it will cover most of what I’ve posted here.

    As far as Catholic priests molesting little boys, well yes, as Jon says there are a very few who sadly have. Just as Jesus himself chose Judas Iscariot as an Apostle, there have been those who have filled the ranks of the clergy who have failed to live up to their calling. A couple of years ago there was an article in the Christian Science Monitor, (a fairly well respected newspaper) discussed how the percentage of sexual molestations by clergy was higher among protestant sects. Some of the reasons given in the article included that as many Protestant Churches hire their own clergy and are not controlled by a heiarchy as centralized as the Catholic Church, many individual chuches do not report sexual molestation of their children or members by Protestant clergymen out of fear that they will lose congregents or face in the local community, and they also do not mention the issue to congregations who ask for reccomendations when the Pastor applies for a new pulpit somewhere else.

    There is a wonderful quote (Which we have an Anglican Clergyman for) The Church is a hospital for sinners not a hotel for saints. While this fits into the Protestant idea that the Church is only for the living. The Catholic concept is all of us are members of the Church, those of us “working out our salvation in fear and trembling” or on earth, those in Purgatory and those already in heaven. The conscept that as we progress in faith and holiness tward our home in heaven, we are all sinners, and we all need to support each other in our efforts to holiness, through prayer and example.

    "Jon":2msk79s1 wrote:
    [i:2msk79s1]-Nuns whacked children on the wrists with rulers if they misbehaved[/i:2msk79s1]
    This did happen in some (if not many) Catholic schools in the USA around the 1960s and earlier.[/quote:2msk79s1]
    Why did they use such techniques to discipline children?

    It was not just nuns, nor just Catholics. Corporal punishment was common in most places in the western world. I know of schools in Texas and California where kids where still pattled into the mid 1960s. It is still common in the Middle East. Over time, we have all learned better ways of educating kids.

    Another example is the Salem Witch Trials, if a woman was thrown into the water and drown, the judge would acquit her, if she floated she was a witch, and was burned at the stake. Now these where Puritan Protestants, very anti-Catholic. In England the Star Chamber held secret trials, gave the accused no recourse to witnesses, and used torture to obtain the “truth” which was really just what the court wanted to hear. Also a Protestant court, which condemned many Catholic priests to death for not converting to Protestantism. So the Inquisition in Spain was not really something unusual for the time. It followed the belief of the people at the time that nobody would give an honest answer unless they where tortured into telling the truth. There are those who report that the same thing goes on today, (Water-boarding etc).

    "LARobert":16sloisy wrote:
    So the Inquisition in Spain was not really something unusual for the time. It followed the belief of the people at the time that nobody would give an honest answer unless they where tortured into telling the truth.[/quote:16sloisy]
    Who did the Spanish Inquisition in Spain target?

    First, the excesses of the Inquisition in Spain where condemned by the Pope at the time.

    The Inquisition only had juridiction over Catholics, some of those Catholics had forefathers that where originally Jewish, some of the people brought before the Inquisition where charged with Adultery, others charged with practicing Lutheranism in secret, or reverting to Judiasm in secret.

    Unlike the modern day where the Church and State are separate, all over Europe the Religion of the State was the religion of the Prince or King. Anyone who practiced other religions was suspect of conspirasy against the State. So in Holland, England, Switzerland and parts of Germany, after the Reformation, Catholics who practiced their religion in secret where arrested by the State and either jailed and fined, or killed. In Spain the Government would arrest and turn over to the Church people suspected of religious crimes. One very interesting aspect of the Spanish Inquisition, was that people arrested of non-religious infractions tried to get their cases transferred from the Civil Courts to the Inquisitions courts, because unlike the Protestant courts in other countries, the Inquisition was much more lenient and believed in repentance. Many Protestant courts believed that if you practiced a religion other than the State religion you where unsaved, and did not allow repentance. Most of the people convicted by the Inquisition where either fined or given a punishment like wearing a symbol of their crime on their clothing for a period of time, and then returned to “normal” life. In Calvin and Queen Elizabeth’s courts one was usually treated much more harshly.


    I thought they left the protestants alone if they said they stated that they were Protestants. From what I’ve heard, the Inquisition targeted Muslims and the Jewish converts to Christianity. Then again, I could be wrong.


    Originally Conversos, (Jews who converted) then later Muslims who converted, When Lutheranism became a problem, and Adultery, they delt with that too. But once again, the Inquisition was much more tolerent than most of the Protestant “courts” Do a serch for the Martyrs of the Tyburn, and see how Catholics where treated by Protestants. It was a horrible time in history, where intollerance reigned on both sides.


    Another stereotype I run into is that Catholics have very large families. Why is this and is it true?

    "James":3vfg57zz wrote:
    Another stereotype I run into is that Catholics have very large families. Why is this and is it true?[/quote:3vfg57zz]
    I think in the past they did have larger families. It could also be related to the notable distinction that the Catholic Church is one of the only remaining Christian churches that prohibits artificial contraceptives. The Episcopal Church in 1930 was the first to permit and others followed suit, but the Catholic Church has remained steadfast.

    Gaudium et Spes[/url:3vfg57zz], paragraph 51 describes why the Catholic Church is against it.


    Oh I see. Thank you once again Jon <img decoding=” title=”Smile” />

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