Catholics

Mark 16:16: "He who does not believe shall be condemned"

Many claim to be Catholic, but what exactly does being Catholic mean? It means being incorporated by faith and baptism into Christ, Who is Priest, Prophet and King. Catholics are, therefore, united in the worship, doctrine and governance Christ established within His one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. In Mark 16:16 Christ declared, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned."

A Catholic is required to believe all the perennial dogmas of faith and morals formally taught by the Catholic Church. Failure to do so is called heresy, as stated in canon 751 of the Code of Canon Law and in paragraph 2089 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. A person espousing heresy isn't a liberal or progressive Catholic, but simply a heretic. Likewise, a person who believes all Catholic doctrine as presented by the Church isn't a conservative or traditional Catholic, but simply a Catholic.

To be Catholic, a person is also required to submit to the governing authority of Christ's vicar, the pope, or those under him. A denial that such authority exists is called schism in the same canon and paragraph cited above. A person in schism is a schismatic, and not a leftist or ultra-traditionalist.

Recent surveys show most self-identified Catholics in the United States are what are called nominal Catholics, or Catholics in name only (CINOs). They openly dissent from Catholic doctrine on a wide range of moral teachings, like contraception, divorce and homosexuality. Less than 10 percent of these so-called Catholics believe in core Catholic dogmas like the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist or the infallibility of the Holy Father.

Roughly 80 percent of these self-styled Catholics don't attend weekly Mass. Non-practicing Catholics aren't united in worship under Christ the High Priest as are authentic Catholics. They also can't claim to love Christ Who in John 14:15 said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."

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Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli