I wrote this article as part of the process of rejoining the Catholic Church on July 16, 2012. Having spent 6 years struggling with all the various objections against Catholicism, I had it all fresh in my mind and wanted to get it all out. I am the harshest critic of Catholicism I have ever encountered. The usual anti-Catholic Protestant critiques against the Church are mush-brained and barely worthy of mention — I have never heard such dumb things in my entire life. But my critiques — now those make sense!

But this was before I studied Catholic documents(Catechisms, Canon Law, Papal Encyclicals, St. Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologica") in detail trying to figure out what the Church even teaches about various topics. I was horrified  see my comments in those documents.


I list examples of bad behavior, erroneous statements, or bad attitudes by Catholic leaders throughout history (and today) so I have examples to draw from in some other articles.

  1. Galileo: Bishops decreed: the proposition that the earth is not the center of the universe is "erroneous in faith." The bishops were wrong yet they decreed that he must abandon this view.
  2. Galileo: Bishops condemned Galileo for the following: "interpreting Holy Scripture according to your [Galileo's] own meaning." Does a lay person doing this justify the kind of harsh treatment Galileo received?
  3. Galileo was threatened with torture and was shown instruments of torture.
  4. Galileo was condemned to prison by the Holy Office for the following: "the doctrine — which is false and contrary to the sacred and divine Scriptures — . . . that the Earth moves and is not the center of the world." The "Holy Office" was certainly not acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  5. "Council of Trent prohibits interpreting Scripture against the common consensus of the Holy Fathers, . . . all agreeing in the literal interpretation that . . . the earth . . . sits motionless at the center of the world [universe]." Since we now know these views of the Church Fathers to be false, therefore, either (1) the Council of Trent contains error, or (2) a Saint of the Catholic Church (St. Robert Bellarmine) is mistaken for interpreting the Council of Trent incorrectly and for apparently believing this provably wrong view.
  6. St. Robert Bellarmine went along with the errors regarding Galileo: he delivered messages to Galileo, participated in the proceedings against Galileo, and made erroneous statements. If even a Saint of the Catholic Church can't be trusted to defend truth and justice, who can be trusted?
  7. A half-dozen or so popes practiced astrology after the church had already condemned it. If popes can ignore the teachings of the church...?
  8. Fourth Lateran Council: "When someone is so notorious for his offences that an outcry goes up which can no longer be ignored." This refers to bad bishops.
  9. Second Lateran Council: "Nobody is to hear the masses of those whom he knows to have wives or concubines." Two problems with this: (1) priests and bishops have concubines, (2) it contradicts modern church teaching: Catholics can hear mass no matter how corrupt or unholy the priest or bishop.
  10. Council of Trent: In administering the sacraments, the priest can be in mortal sin but he must have the intention of "doing what the Church does". But how can anyone know someone else's intentions?
  11. 1917 Code of Canon Law: "The priest who should find himself in mortal sin shall not dare to say Holy Mass." Why not? Presumably because the mass is invalid (Canon 650 doesn't specifically state this and it doesn't allow for exceptions).
  12. Exsurge Domine, Bull of Pope Leo X: "[It is an error that] Purgatory cannot be proved from Sacred Scripture." Certainly there is support for the doctrine of purgatory in the Bible, but it a wild overstatement to say it is proven. Also, the Early Church Fathers don't mention it much.
  13. Papal bull issued by Pope Gregory VIII: "It focuses specifically on the loss of Jerusalem and points to the sins of the Latin States as the reason for this great loss." I am always leery when someone blames a person's sin for some calamity or misfortune.
  14. Third Council of Constantinople: "Condemned several churchmen as Monothelites, among them an earlier pope, Honorius I." A church council determined that a pope had heretical views. How, then, can we be certain that the views of modern-day popes are sound? Perhaps a future council will declare otherwise? How are we to know which statements of a pope are binding or not? And how are we to know which "official" papal statements are true and which are heretical?
  15. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1579: "Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God." If celibacy is a sign necessary for the priesthood, then priests should never be married. But the church allows married priests in some situations. Therefore, celibacy is not a sign after all. You can't have it both ways.
  16. Now Simon's mother-in-law. . . . (Luke 4:38): Apparently, Peter was married. If it's okay for the first pope to be married, why is it not okay now for priests to be married?
  17. From Catholic Insight: the Orthodox Church allows divorce and remarriage. Hence, it could well happen that a divorced Catholic would be barred from receiving Communion at a Mass in which an Orthodox Christian in the same situation would be welcomed. . . . It is practicalities such as these that can make Roman regulations seem remote, arbitrary and confusing.
  18. Annulment seems like divorce in some cases.
  19. The requirement that all who wish to become Catholic must attend a poorly run and often heretical or liberal RCIA program for 9 months is insulting to those who have studied the church on their own.
  20. The practices of the church must not offend our moral sensibilities. An example is reassigning immoral priests instead of firing them.
  21. The spiritual welfare of the people must be foremost. Yet too many priests are either liberal or immoral (and some bishops do little or nothing). Lack of concern by some bishops for the spiritual welfare of Catholics. The emphasis is on merely attending weekly mass and the sacraments (baptism, communion, Eucharist) while Catholics are spiritually dry.
  22. The strong emphasis on membership in the Catholic Church and the difficulty of joining; the apostolic church did not have this.
  23. Liberal and immoral priests, and the seeming failure of some bishops to do anything about it.
  24. Homilies are "churchy" instead of inspirational and devotional.
  25. Some Catholic colleges are not wholesome and spiritually uplifting for the students, and cause some students to abandon the faith. Some teachers are liberal and some of the fellow students are immoral.
  26. Some bishops refuse to publicly address or even acknowledge problems and abuses in the church or in their dioceses, preferring to deflect criticism or to blame the critics for daring to criticize. This erodes the trust of the laity.
  27. First Council of Nicaea: "A bishop should be appointed by all the bishops of the province." The church has changed this.
  28. First Council of Nicaea: "Neither bishops nor presbyters nor deacons shall transfer from city to city." These days, Catholic priests are transferred often.
  29. The Council of Chalcedon: "Canons hitherto issued by the saintly fathers at each and every synod should remain in force." Yet the Catholic Church changes decisions made at previous councils.
  30. The Council of Chalcedon: "No woman under forty years of age is to be ordained a deacon." Women are no longer allowed to be Catholic deacons.
  31. Second Lateran Council: "We entirely forbid, moreover, those abominable jousts and tournaments in which knights come together by agreement and rashly engage in showing off their physical prowess and daring." Now-a-days, Catholics now are very sports-minded.
  32. Second Lateran Council: "We do not deny to kings and princes the power to dispense justice, in consultation with the archbishops and bishops." This has been changed. Now the Catholic Church allows secular rulers to dispense justice without consulting church leaders.
  33. Fourth Lateran Council: "We forbid all clerics to hunt or to fowl." This has changed.
  34. Fourth Lateran Council: "If any persons wish, for good reasons, to confess their sins to another priest let them first ask and obtain the permission of their own priest; for otherwise the other priest will not have the power to absolve or to bind them." This has changed. In fact, Catholics are encouraged to confess to a priest from a different parish if it would be too embarrassing for them otherwise.
  35. Fourth Lateran Council: "Democratic election of pastors. . . . We therefore decree that at the holding of an election, when all are present who ought to, want to and conveniently can take part, three trustworthy persons shall be chosen from the college who will diligently find out, in confidence and individually, the opinions of everybody." This has changed. The choice of Catholic leaders is certainly not democratic today.
  36. Pius IX, 1864, Syllabus of Errors: "[It is an error that] In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship." He is saying that society should not become what it has today become — a secular state outside the control of the church.
  37. Pius IX, 1864, Syllabus of Errors: "[It is an error that] Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship." He seems to be promoting the idea that the state should enforce Catholicism as the state-mandated religion.
  38. Pius IX, 1864, Syllabus of Errors: "[It is an error that] Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true." The church used to believe that people are not free to choose their religion.
  39. Pope Pius IX, 1864, Quanta Cura: "Marked for condemnation the "insanity" that: liberty of conscience and worship is each man's personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way. " This papal encyclical says many other things like this.
  40. Pius IX, 1864, Syllabus of Errors: "[It is an error that] Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation." This statement is partially true in stating that people are not saved in observing any religion (but neither are they saved merely by being Catholic). The error is that it seems to exclude the possibility that non-Catholics can be saved.
  41. Pius IX, 1864, Syllabus of Errors: "[It is an error that] Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ." Whether or not a non-Catholic (or non-Christian) can have a good hope of salvation is unclear. But some non-Christians end up in the new heavens and new earth,Vatican II states this..
  42. Pius IX, 1864, Syllabus of Errors: "[It is an error that] In force of a merely civil contract there may exist between Christians a real marriage." Pope Pius IX is stating that a marriage of Christians outside the church is not really a valid marriage. Outrageous! Certainly the Catechism of the Catholic Church contradicts this.
  43. 1215 A.D., Fourth Lateran Council / Papal bull by Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam: "There is indeed one universal church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved;" "outside of her [the Church] there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins." These are not the only examples of statements like this. Certainly this have been changed since.
  44. Third Lateran Council: "Jews and Saracens [Muslims] are not to be allowed to have christian servants in their houses. . . . The evidence of Christians is to be accepted against Jews in every case, since Jews employ their own witnesses against Christians, and that those who prefer Jews to Christians in this matter are to lie under anathema, since Jews ought to be subject to Christians and to be supported by them on grounds of humanity alone." This sounds like anti-Semitism to me. This is especially troubling because it appears in an "ecumenical" [all-church] council. There is more, even worse in the Fourth Lateran Council and the Council of Basel.
  45. Papal bull issued by Pope Paul IV, Cum nimis absurdum: "Religious and economic restrictions on Jews in the Papal States." Popes practiced anti-Semitism.
  46. Fifth Lateran Council "Some printers have the boldness to print and sell to the public, in different parts of the world, books . . . containing errors opposed to the faith as well as pernicious views contrary to the christian religion. . . . For all future time, no one may dare to print or have printed any book or other writing of whatever kind in Rome or in any other cities and dioceses, without the book or writings having first been closely examined. . . ." I am sympathetic to the idea that false and immoral writings should not be allowed. But as history has shown even a well-meaning church can get it wrong.
  47. Papal Bull, Alexander VI, Inter Caetera: "You have purposed with the favor of divine clemency to bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and to bring them to the Catholic faith." Why do they think they have the right to conquer these areas?
  48. Papal bull, Pope Nicholas V, Romanus Pontifex: Extended to the Catholic nations of Europe dominion over discovered lands during the Age of Discovery. Along with sanctifying the seizure of non-Christian lands, it encouraged the enslavement of native, non-Christian peoples in Africa and the New World. Slavery is decreed by the church.
  49. Papal bull, Pope Nicholas V, Dum Diversas: Authorised Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any "Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers" to perpetual slavery. This facilitated the Portuguese slave trade from West Africa. The church officially sanctioned perpetual slavery.
  50. Papal bull, Pope Adrian IV, Laudabiliter: Giving the English King Henry II lordship over Ireland. Henry invaded Ireland in 1171, using the papal bull to claim sovereignty over the island. Why should popes decide who is to have the right to a country?
  51. Papal bull, Pope Innocent VIII, Summis desiderantes affectibus: This papal bull led to one of the severest witchhunts in European history.
  52. Papal bull, Pope Innocent IV, Ad exstirpanda: Confirmed by Pope Alexander IV on November 30, 1259, and by Pope Clement IV on November 3, 1265. It explicitly authorized the use of torture for eliciting confessions from heretics during the Inquisition and explicitly condoned the practice of executing relapsed heretics by burning them alive.
  53. Papal bull, Pope Leo X, Exsurge Domine: Condemning the Errors of Martin Luther: [It is an error to say] That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.
  54. In Vatican II, the infallibility of the pope is not limited to ex cathedra statements. If infallibly were limited to ex cathedra statements then it is a useless doctrine since it only applies to the two modern Marian doctrines (immaculate conception and assumption). Something is wrong if we could only be certain about those two doctrines but not the rest of the faith. The true doctrine of infallibility must, in some way, address the entire faith.
  55. Pope John XXII declared that it is an error for a pope to declare a doctrine as infallible. Is this papal bull by John XXII infallible or not?
  56. The Second Lateran Council declares that priests must be unmarried. Yet priests are allowed to be married in certain cases.
  57. Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors denies that the popes had any role in the Great Schism of 1054 A.D. Later popes reversed this opinion.
  58. In defending papal infallibility, some claim that the pope is only infallible when speaking ex cathedra. The difficulty is determining which pronouncements of a pope are ex cathedra and which are not. We need some sort of infallible guide to inform us when a papal decree is infallible.
  59. Some seem to limit papal infallibility when it suits them. For example, they will allow that such-and-such a papal decree is infallible because they approve of it, but they will reject such-and-such other papal decree because it is obviously teaching something false. They do this to excuse the behavior and decrees of "bad" popes. Yet in examining the way in which these various papal decrees are presented by the popes, there is no basis for accepting some and rejecting others merely based on the content of the decrees.
  60. There are important doctrinal statements made by early councils which were agreed to by the bishops before there was a clear understanding of the papacy. People were expected at the time to accept these councils as infallible. They were not told to defer their judgment until some future time when there would be an infallible pope to ratify the council.
  61. A papal bull by Boniface VIII in 1302 A.D. clearly states that the Catholic Church is to rule over the temporal rulers.
  62. Papal Bull, In Coena Domini: "Offences struck with excommunication: . . . The interference of lay judges in capital or criminal causes of ecclesiastics." If the Catholic Church had been above the secular law in the recent priestly scandals, it is likely that the church would not have taken action, since she was so reluctant to do so even when pressured by the Catholic laity and numerous lawsuits.
  63. Bad popes. Bad bishops. Overly-political priests and bishops.
  64. St. Louis IX totally mismanaged both crusades he took part in. In doing so he wasted huge sums of money.
  65. Bishops appointed by secular rulers (lay investiture). Some of these may not have been ordained properly.
  66. Mass priests in the Middle Ages. Didn't teach the people about the faith.
  67. Laity inferior to the clergy.
  68. Improper Annulments.
  69. Pedophile and practicing homosexual priests. Bishops merely reassigned them to another parish.
  70. Stating that ideas are in the Bible when they aren't (except perhaps in seed form).
  71. Seminaries have (or had) a strong practicing homosexual orientation.
  72. Allowed rampant liberalism to invade the church, including bishops and priests. Priests who are liberal Christians ("Father, Son, and Sister Spirit"; Bible = myth; Mother God).
  73. Bishops have various "hobbies" (ecumenical pursuits, for example) but allow the spiritual life of local Catholics to languish.
  74. Apostolic succession was broken on numerous occasions.
  75. Failure of the pope to discipline wayward bishops (except in extreme cases).
  76. Difficulty of joining the church (RCIA). Poorly run RCIA meetings (run by administrators instead of teachers, or teach heresy).
  77. Various bad results: Superstition, emphasis on works, lack of fellowship
  78. Marriage between unbelievers is valid. Marriage between baptized non-Catholic Christians is valid and sacramental. Marriage between a non-Christian and a baptized non-Catholic Christian is valid but not sacramental. But marriage between two Catholics outside the Catholic Church is invalid. This is absurd!
  79. Marriage between two Orthodox Christians when one or both were divorced is valid. If they then become Catholics their marriage is valid and sacramental and they are able to take communion. But if these same two people were not Orthodox Christians but were non-Catholic Christians, after becoming Catholics their marriage is invalid and they are not able to take communion. This is absurd!
  80. You must join the Catholic Church in addition to being baptized to be a member of the church. The apostolic church didn't believe this neither did the apostles teach it.
  81. The Catholic teaching of the sacrament of Holy Orders that all that is needed for a person to be a valid representative of Christ's church is that they were validly ordained whether or not they are even a Christian, let alone whether they are holy and righteous.
  82. That the Eucharist is the main thing — as long as the Eucharist is celebrated properly the church has done its job successfully.
  83. The absurd claim that the Catholic Church has merely passed-down the apostolic teaching.
  84. The Catholic Church is only infallible when it teaches true doctrines and moral teaching.
  85. The doctrine of the assumption of Mary is not supported from history adequately to be an infallible doctrine.
  86. The theology supporting the doctrine of indulgences does not provide strong enough support for this to be an infallible doctrine.
  87. The Catholic Church claims that the liturgy and the unwritten Tradition are sources of truth. There are problems with this: (1) Certainly it is not the modern liturgy which is the source of truth since it has been modified so many times over the centuries. Perhaps the early liturgy is a source of truth — but only when it is written down do we know what it even was. (2) In my opinion, anything not written down by the seventh ecumenical council is no longer trustworthy. Too much time has passed since the time of the apostles.
  88. The Catholic Church interprets the parable of the wheat and the tares to refer to the fact that church leaders (and other Catholics) who are corrupt are still members of the church. But how can the children of the devil lead the church into truth?
  89. From Dei Verbum (the Word of God) of Vatican II: "But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, 'handing over' to them 'the authority to teach in their own place.'" But how is it possible to preserve truth by teaching error? Examples: Arianism, absentee Bishops, "bad" Popes and Bishops. We should not follow the teachings of these.
  90. From Dei Verbum (the Word of God) of Vatican II: "This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke 2:19,51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth." There are three errors expressed in this passage: (1) The Catholic Church is not free to teach anything it chooses and call it "apostolic teaching passed-down from the apostles". (2) Developments of doctrine add to the faith which was passed-down by the apostles. If the apostles did not clearly have a particular teaching in mind then this teaching is not "apostolic" but a development of doctrine. (3) It is not through ordination that a person receives the gift from the Holy Spirit of teaching truth — there are plenty of ordained bishops who teach (and practice) error. The reason ordination was valid in the apostolic era was because the apostles only ordained people who taught truth.
  91. The Catholics who excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople 1054 A.D. were very rude. These high-ranking church officials caused the great schism between east and west which has not been resolved.
  92. Several earlier splits between east and west.
  93. The crusades were completely mismanaged or worse. It was very irresponsible for popes to put spiritual pressure for people to participate.
  94. Burning at the stake of heretics.
  95. The inquisition.
  96. Some ascetics are considered Saints today; but to do what they did apart from the church as they were is forbidden today.
  97. Papal States ruled by the popes. This divided their attention between temporal and spiritual duties.
  98. Badly behaved bishops in church councils determining "infallible" doctrine.
  99. Cardinals electing a pope when there already was a pope. Politicizing in high church offices.
  100. The Catholic Church allows for the death penalty but many priests and bishops are opposed to it and act as if it is against Church teaching.
  101. The trial of Joan of Arc. The procedure was irregular on a number of points. Bishops subverted justice and executed someone they knew to be holy.
  102. Regarding the Crusades, "the consensus among Catholic bishops was that qualified men had a moral obligation to volunteer, which was reinforced by the support of a succession of men and women universally regarded as saints: Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, Bridget of Sweden . . . even Francis of Assisi."
  103. Catherine of Siena: Letter 74, To Pope Gregory XI, in Avignon: "The vice and sin, the pride and filth that are rampant among the Christian people — especially among the prelates, pastors, and administrators of holy Church."
  104. Crusades against the Hussites. Today, they would be considered Protestants, members of the church.
  105. St. Catherine of Siena once called three Italian Cardinals who supported the anti-pope, "stench that makes the whole world reek." The teaching magisteriumrefers to bishops as teachers and defenders of the faith — yet we must somehow discern when they are and when they are not.
  106. At the time of St. Catherine of Siena there was such terrible turmoil in the Catholic Church, today's scandals pale in comparison. . . .  she brings about change in the corrupt Catholic Church. . . . tackling the sinful clergy person by person. . . . delineating how each letter's recipient's life had strayed from the Gospels.
  107. St. Catherine of Siena lived for months at a time on nothing but the Blessed Sacrament. She regularly scourged herself for love of Jesus and slept as little as a half hour every other night. Anyone doing this nowadays would be censured by their bishop.
  108. St. Thomas Aquinas: "With regard to heretics . . . they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death."
  109. The early church allowed everyone to take some of the consecrated host home so they could partake daily. Now we have daily mass (but it is a lot harder or impossible to attend daily mass so this is not really a substitute.)
  110. Dominican Yves Congar was "silenced" by Vatican officials and his own religious order: "The French Dominican priest, whom the Encyclopedia of Catholicism calls 'perhaps the most influential Catholic theologian of this century prior to Vatican II,' wrote extensively on the church, specifically regarding questions of church authority, tradition, the laity, and relations with other Christian churches. . . .  was ordered to cease teaching, lecturing, and publishing. . . . Congar's work proved foundational to the Second Vatican Council. As a participant in the council, Congar made major contributions to two central documents: the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and the Decree on Ecumenism, both of which drew from his earlier, banned writings. . . . in 1994, he was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II."
  111. Jesuit John Courtney Murray was "silenced" by Vatican officials and his own religious order. He wrote "extensively on the question of church and state, proposing . . . the freedom of individuals to worship as they please, was in accord with Catholic teaching. The Vatican, however, disagreed, and in 1954 Murray's superiors ordered him to cease writing on the topic. . . . [Later, he] served as one of the architects for the council's Declaration on Religious Freedom, which drew on Murray's earlier, banned work and affirmed religious freedom as a right for all people. Toward the end of the council, John Courtney Murray was invited to celebrate Mass with Pope Paul VI, as a public sign of his official 'rehabilitation'".
  112. From Vatican Information Service, January 15, 2011: "For doctrinal reasons the Church does not, in any circumstances, allow the ordination of married men as bishops. However, the Apostolic Constitution does provide, under certain conditions, for the ordination as Catholic priests of former Anglican married clergy." Certaintly a change, since Peter and other popes were married. Certainly an error, since it is stated that there are doctrinal reasons for this to be forbidden "in any circumstances", but the Apostolic Constitution allows for exceptions.
  113. The various apologies by popes for the misdeeds of the Church over the centuries are not very satisfying and seem not to even be apologies at all; often they seem to blame the innocent victims. Also, the apologies by popes, bishops, and priests for their misdeeds are not very satisfying.
  114. In an effort to be more ecumenical, Benedict XVI in his 1982 book Principles of Catholic Theology has clearly made changes from previous teaching.