Q. 1. What is a Catholic? I mean, considering the fact that some practice their faith, others do not, are they all Catholics?
A. 1. That is a very good question that rarely goes answered. What would you answer if I ask you, "What is a teacher?" You would say that it is someone who teaches. What would you answer if I ask you, "What is a lawyer?" You would say that it is someone who practices law. Then, what is a Catholic? It is someone who lives according to the teachings of the Catholic faith.
A teacher who no longer teaches is a retired teacher. A lawyer who no longer practices law is a retired lawyer. A Catholic who no longer practices his living faith according to the teachings of the Catholic Church is a retired Catholic.
A teacher who no longer teaches can no longer claim to be a teacher. She can claim that she "was" a teacher. Equally, a Catholic who no longer practices in living faith according to the teachings of the Catholic Church can no longer claim to be a Catholic. He can only claim that he "was" a Catholic.
Some state that a non-practicing Catholic is a Catholic by name only. That is false! He may have been baptized as a Catholic but if he no longer practices his faith according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, he can no longer claim the honour of being a "Catholic." He can only claim that he "was" a Catholic.
Q. 2. So what must a Catholic do to be entitled to the honour of being called a Catholic?
A. 2. He must meet all of the following criteria without exception:
- he must be baptized.
- he must continually strive to learn about the teachings of the Catholic Church.
- through special strength of the Holy Spirit that was received during the Sacrament of Confirmation, he must spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross. [C.C.C. # 1303]
- he must to go to Confession on a regular basis.
- he must receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist on a regular basis.
- he must go to Holy Mass every Sunday and on all the days of obligation.
- without exception, he must accept all of the teachings of the Catholic Doors the Papacy, regarding the Magisterium, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Trinity, Salvation, Marian Dogmas, Papal Encyclicals, the proclamations of all the Church Councils and early Fathers, etc... This means renouncing abortion, same sex marriage, married priests, euthanasia, etc...
- he must marry within the Catholic Church through the Sacrament of Marriage unless a special dispensation has been received from the local Bishop.
- he must financially support his parish. He who seeks financial compensation from the church on the grounds of abuse, he commits spiritual suicide.
- he must have a forgiving heart, being prepared to forgive anyone and everyone of their sin(s) no matter how horrible it may appear to be. Remember, Saint Paul was a murderer of Christians, including women and children.
- he must be obedient to the Pope and the local Bishop who is responsible for maintaining the unity of the Catholic Church.
Finally, it should be said that he who corrupts one or more dogmas of the Catholic Church by rejecting or distorting them, be it on the matter of going to Church on Sunday or on the subject of birth control pills, he is a heretic because he adheres to heresy(ies). A heretic can no longer claim to be a Catholic!
(Notation: In case of severe illness and/or incapacity to meet one's requirements as an active Catholic, a true Catholic may be exempt from some of the above obligations, providing approval has been received from the local Pastor. Permission is required from one's Pastor to ensure there is no abuse of one's obligations.)