A Message For Former Catholics
By Mary Ann CollinsóA Former Catholic Nun
Leaving the Catholic Church involves more than just understanding doctrinal issues.
There are often emotional issues as well. I have had to deal with these issues
myself, and I correspond with former Catholics who are currently dealing with them.
Some people see God's truth simply and suddenly, like a light being turned on inside
them. They walk out of Catholicism and into Biblical Christianity without looking
back, and without emotional turmoil. That is wonderful. It is a precious gift from
For many former Catholics, there are difficult emotional issues which we have to
deal with. Often our new friends in our new church don't understand them.
Christians often assume that once Catholics understand doctrinal issues and Biblical
principles, then that is the end of the matter. But for many of us, it isn't. There can
be a lot more involved than just intellectual understanding.
Catholics are used to having priests tell them how to think and what to do. As a
result, it can be difficult for former Catholics to learn to pray for themselves, read
the Bible for themselves, and take responsibility for their own life. We can overcome
this difficulty, but it requires determination, persistence and prayer.
Loyalty, Guilt, and Rejection
Some former Catholics are under emotional pressure to return to the Catholic
Church because they don't want to hurt their family members. In addition, the Pope
is called "Holy Father" and the Catholic Church is called "Holy Mother Church". As a
result, people may feel as if they are betraying their father and their mother if they
leave the Catholic Church. Jesus addressed these issues when He said,
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that
loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37)
Some former Catholics have had to face control, manipulation, intimidation,
rejection, and false accusations. If you are going through something like this, then
remember that God is faithful and His grace really is sufficient. He will get you
In addition, the experience will give you a new appreciation for the rejection and
misunderstanding which Jesus endured for our sakes. He left the love and
appreciation of Heaven to come here to earth and be falsely accused,
misunderstood, rejected, and mocked, in order to save us. The Apostle Paul said,
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his
sufferings". (Philippians 3:10)
You are sharing in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. This will give you greater love
for Him, and more gratitude for what He has done for you. It will enable you to
know His heart in a new way. It will also qualify you to receive the blessing of one of
the Beatitudes. Jesus said,
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all
manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for
great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were
before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)
The process of qualifying for that blessing is no fun at all. But if we see the eternal
perspective, then we will be able to endure it and to trust God while we are going
through it. The Bible says,
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though
some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers
of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also
with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for
the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of,
but on your part he is glorified." (1 Peter 4:12-14)
Try to find an understanding friend or prayer partner to stand with you as you go
through this. You can pray together. Your friend or prayer partner can help you
keep a biblical perspective when you are under emotional pressure.
If your family is pressuring you to come back to the Catholic Church, then this is
probably not a good time to try to share your new-found Biblical faith with them.
The Catholic Church claims that it has the right to control how Catholics think. We
were taught to believe whatever we were told and to obey the priests. During Mass,
we were told when to stand, when to sit, when to reply to what the priest said, and
what to say. This attitude of passive compliance is constantly reinforced.
This is more than just our personal experience. It is official Catholic doctrine.
Following are some examples.
According to "The Catholic Encyclopedia," the idea of freedom of religion is wrong.
People are not supposed to use their own personal judgment to determine their
religious beliefs. (This article is online.) [Note 1]
According to Canon Law (the official laws governing the Roman Catholic Church),
Catholics are required to submit their minds and wills to any declaration concerning
faith or morals which is made by the Pope or by a church council. They are also
required to avoid anything that disagrees with such declarations. And they can be
coerced if they don't comply. (You can read these laws online.) [Note 2]
The Catholic Church teaches that only the Magisterium of the Catholic Church (the
Pope and the bishops in communion with him) has the right to inte