ASK FATHER: “I am doubting that the current Catholic Church is the Church it has always claimed to be”

From a reader…


Father, Please pray for me as I go through some deep doubts. Additionally, I would appreciate it if you can shed some light on
them: I have complete confidence in the veracity of the claims that the Church used to make, but I am doubting that the current Roman Catholic Church is actually The Church it has always claimed to be. Any religion which demands nothing of its believers also asks you not to believe it. The leaders of Catholicism seem to be doing all they can to remove any and all demands (except monetary ones) of the Faithful. A religion is not worth belonging to if it is not worth dying for, and the leadership doesn’t even seem willing to lose power for it.

Sure, things are confusing right now.   But we need to step back with objectivity and keep a few key points in mind.

First, the Devil hates you.  The Enemy wants you detach yourself from the means to heaven that Christ gave us, Holy Church with her teaching and her sacraments.   Do NOT let the Enemy win.

Next, the Church cannot become something that she isn’t.  An acorn cannot become a giraffe and the Catholic Church cannot become some sect or NGO.  As part of her necessary make up, a sine qua non is that the Church is indefectible: she cannot fail until the End of the World.  Christ has promised this.  We must at the same time grant that Christ made no promises about the Church in these USA or wherever you happen to be.  That’s another matter entirely.

Also, it is possible that, because of the antics of her members and the machinations of her enemies – in other words attack from within and from without – the Church can be so slimed over that she is hard to recognize.  You might think about the restoration of a painting by a famous artist.  Over time, various things might have been done to it: it was exposed to lots of smoke from incense and candles, air pollutants.  It was stored improperly.  It was given a bad preservation treatments by being varnished.  Some idiot touched it up.  You get the idea.   It take a long time to get a painting dirty, a short time to varnish it, but exacting and painstaking work to clean it, section by section.   It’s hard.  But when the restoration is finished, the painting shines again.

To use another analogy, Holy Church has been abused by her custodians.  They have dressed her up in false colors and made her to dance to dreadful tunes, on display for the world.   It is time for the Church Militant to rescue her from her captors.

If the Lord suffered being dressed up and mocked and tormented, then there is no reason why His Church, His Bride won’t be singled out for mocking and mistreatment.

The Church is the Church is the Church.   The beautiful Barque of Peter remains beautiful even when incompetents are in the ward room.  Especially so, perhaps.

The Church was founded by Christ for sinners.

It must not be a surprise to us, therefore, when sinners sin at every level of the Church.

We could extend analogies, but I think my point is clear.

What we can do is this.

Most people have a vocation which is fairly quiet and contained.  By living their vocations in the here and now they are playing the part that God gave them from before the creation of the cosmos and everything in it.   Hence, by fidelity to their vocations, they play an important role, and God will give them every grace they need.

It could be helpful to remember a few things.

First, Popes come and go.  *pffft*! They are gone, one after another.  The Romans have a phrase, “The Pope dies, you make another.”  Some Popes were really important, some not. Some wicked, some saintly.  We don’t put our trust in Popes but in Christ, whose Church it is.  Christ is the head of the Church, not the Pope.   As far as officials around him are concerned, they may as well be riding around in clown cars with ooga horns, for all of their  lasting significance.   And, by analogy, some Councils were important, some not.  We look at the overarching span of history to see the truth of these people and events.

Also, since 99% of vocations are, like politics, local, it won’t harm to pay less attention to what is written about the Church in this or that place, or what dopey thing this or that Jesuit has done.   Pay attention to your prayers, your vocation and its duties, good reading and you’ll probably be happier.

Not everybody needs to be in the front line, in the trenches all the time.

Next, God helps people who suffer.  If you are in pain and suffering because of all these things, wrap them up in a beautiful mental package and give them to Mary and to St. Joseph.  She is Queen of the Clergy and Mother of the Church.  He is Patron and Protector of the Church and Terror of Demons.   They’ll handle them.   And at Mass, visualize making all your care items into a liquid and then pouring them into the chalice that the priest prepares at the altar during the offertory to be transformed and elevated by God.

You are not without options and resources.   Be of good cheer.

And, to start you off right,…


That always helps.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Our Catholic Identity. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. PetersBarque says:

    What a travesty that Catholics feel duped by the very ones who are suppose to protect them. PF is an ass (there, I said it) and is responsible for much of the present angst. He either refuses or is unable to deal with the reality of this dire situation. Naming clericalism as the root cause for the current crisis is analogous to blaming incest on careerism. God is a good Father who works in mysterious ways and always for our good. So can He use an ass to bring about His will? Yes, He can, and we must trust that He will, but that doesn’t mean we stop fighting for Truth to reign supreme in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

  2. tho says:

    Great post Father. You are a breath of fresh air, and your advice is solid.

  3. iamlucky13 says:

    “Any religion which demands nothing of its believers also asks you not to believe it.”

    I would contend on the contrary, it is not the Church that demands nothing of its believers, but certain members of the Church.

    Don’t confuse the Church with those in it. Christ warned us about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Even among the shepherds who were faithful, Peter fled from his calling multiple times, and Paul reminded us that he personally struggled with a “thorn.”

    In addition to obedience to the Commandments, the Church has demanded many things of her members over the centuries. Many of the routine disciplines are very easy these days, but nothing prevents any of us from following older precepts or disciplines. The leaders of the Church may fail to clearly teach obedience to the Commandments, but the Commandments remain the same, and we can always examine our consciences and try to find ways to improve our adherence to them out of love for God.

  4. Hidden One says:

    I refuse spiritual suicide chosen on the ground that others are committing spiritual manslaughter.

    Judas was a bishop.

  5. St. Irenaeus says:

    Saw something today that tracks with what I’ve been thinking: pray, tend to your corner of the garden, participate in the sacraments.

    I’d also point out history is a good tonic: 1 Corinthians, Arian crisis, Pope Honorius, Medicis/Borgias…it’s not like the Church on earth was flawless until recent decades. And that’s an opportunity to refine our theology, as Fr Z does re Christ, not the Pope, being the head of the Church.

    Those are things we can do. Good mental and emotional health involves controlling what you can, and letting go of what you can’t. None of us can control what Team Francis or the USCCB or a local clergyman does; we could pray for them, though.

    This is a time of sifting: most days I start to go crazy when I read the news out of Rome or Baltimore etc. I haven’t been good about deep prayer, seeking the saints, etc. When I slow down and think about it, it’s like the moment is challenging me to do it, or not, to fish, or cut bait, to pray, or wallow in despond.

    These are the cards we’re dealt. May seem a bad hand, but we’ve got to play them. And Christ and the saints are the aces up our sleeves.

    On that note, I’m reminded of the famous exchange in the “other” Scriptures, Lord of the Rings:

    “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
    “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

  6. If the “current Catholic Church” is not the true church, and, as is painfully obvious, none of the other so-called Christian sects are the true Church, then it is clear that Christianity is a false religion. Think about it.

  7. Johann says:

    Thank you for this post Father. We need to remember the promise our Lord made in Matthew 16:18, now more than ever.

  8. Gab says:

    Thank you, Father Z. I needed that.

    Best sermon this year for me!

  9. rcg says:

    This era strengthens my Faith because we have been praying for a cleansing and here it is. Humans like the big clash of shields and mighty comeuppance. But we are seeing a selective judgement with degrees of punishment at each bowge customized for the offenders. Someday soon we will awake to find the walls no longer crawling with vermin and wonder, where was the lightening and thunder when all we heard was the whisper of a breeze.

  10. Bellarmino Vianney says:

    Great response, Fr. Z.

    The questioner seems to be seriously misled as to what the Roman Catholic Church actually is. The questioner appears to have the Protestant mentality which is that Catholicism and the Roman Catholic Church is like a political party. That is a heretical and/or gravely erroneous understanding of both Catholicism and the Church. The Roman Catholic Church is the One True Church and the One True Religion. All others are false.

    Read the Book of Revelation (2:1ff) on how leaders of the Catholic Church were heading down the right paths or wrong paths. The Church remains the Church regardless of how the leaders of the Church act. A car remains a car regardless of how its driver acts.

    Right now, the vast majority of Church “leaders” are acting like the Church leaders in “La-odice’a” (Rev. 3:14ff).

    The Protestant mentality which views the Catholic Church like a political party appears to stem, in part, from the heresy that “everyone goes to heaven” or “all baptized go to heaven” or “no one can be condemned forever, that is contrary to the Gospel!”; from that heresy, many “branches” of false churches were formed, and the leaders of those false churches then approach Christianity from subjectivist standpoint. They then portray the Catholic Church as just another “branch” or “variety” for one to choose.

    That is heresy.

    A food analogy partly describes how Protestants and other false religions have portrayed the Catholic Church: some people will eat beef and rice, others will eat chicken noodle soup, but both of them are equally nourished.

    That analogy is then falsely applied to the Catholic Church, falsely suggesting that the Catholic Church is merely a different variety whereas all varieties lead to the same end. That, again, is false. There is only one Church which nourishes and leads one to heaven. That Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ, It is the Roman Catholic Church.

  11. LarryW2LJ says:

    Thanks for the pep talk, Father. A great coach always recognizes when the team gets discouraged and does his best to motivate them. You’re a great coach!

  12. LarryW2LJ says:

    If I may add something, before I forget. It has been said many times that God always has some good come out of a bad situation. As a result of the happenings that have been occurring, I have never drawn so close to our Blessed Mother as I have these past few years. I’ve been praying that she’ll draw US ALL so ever closer to her Son; and as a result, I feel myself drawn so closer to both of them than ever before.

  13. Johann says:

    “We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the Cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. … Christ is the point. I, myself, admire the present pope [John Paul II], but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing a pope (or a priest) could do or say would make me wish to leave the church, although I might well wish that they would leave.”-Frank Sheed

  14. grumpyoldCatholic says:

    Of course this isn’t the Catholic church of old Vatican II destroyed it

  15. Malta says:

    There have been many anti-popes as my friend Charles Coulombe writes in Vicars of Christ:

    But, I am not necessarily accusing Francis of being one of them, because who am I to Judge?

Comments are closed.