The Catholic Church is a Christian religious community that follows the tradition and teachings of Catholic Christianity. It is the largest and oldest church in Christendom, its name derived from the Greek word “katholikos,” meaning “universal.” The Catholic Church is the direct heir of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and the apostles.
The Catholic Church is characterized by a hierarchical structure led by the Pope, who is the Bishop of Rome and considered the successor of Saint Peter, the apostle to whom Jesus Christ entrusted the leadership of the Church. The Pope is the highest representative of the Church, and his authority is recognized in matters of faith and morality for all Catholics.
As a hierarchical structure and not a democracy, some people perceive a certain rigidity that leaves little room for individual freedom. Allow me to share some points that might help address these concerns:
- Fundamental teachings and immutable principles: The Catholic Church has fundamental teachings based on Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition that cannot change. These principles are essential to the identity and doctrine of the Church. However, within these fundamental teachings, there is space for reflection and adaptation to different realities and contexts.
- Doctrine and discernment: The perceived rigidity may arise from an inadequate or overly legalistic interpretation of certain teachings. The Catholic Church also emphasizes the importance of discernment and seeking God’s will in specific situations. Church leaders must discern with wisdom and compassion to address the various situations of real life.
- Mercy and understanding: The Catholic Church strives to be a field hospital, where people are welcomed and accompanied in their struggles and challenges. Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized the importance of mercy, understanding, and pastoral accompaniment instead of judging or condemning people.
- Dialogue and openness: The Catholic Church values dialogue with society and other religions. It recognizes the importance of listening and understanding different perspectives and being open to constant reflection and growth.
- Charity and service: One of the essential aspects of the Catholic faith is the call to live a life of charity and service towards others, especially the most needy. The Church not only teaches but also strongly emphasizes the practice of charity and service as a way to respond to the Gospel.
Deep in my heart as a Catholic apologist and constant student of the Church’s doctrine and history, I passionately wish that people embark on a journey of discovery into the richness of the Catholic Church, its doctrine, and its history. There is so much to explore and learn, and I am convinced that they will find a beauty and depth that will touch their souls.
I invite you to open your heart and mind, to leave behind any prejudice or resistance, and to approach the Church with an open mindset. I know you may have heard rumors, negative stories, or misunderstandings, but I urge you to look beyond that and seek the truth firsthand.
Each of us has a unique path to faith, and it is important to respect that inner freedom that God has given us to discern our relationship with the Catholic Church and with Him. It is not about imposing beliefs but about discovering and surrendering to the transformative action of the Holy Spirit.
Allow yourselves to encounter the spiritual richness that the Catholic Church offers. From the Eucharist to the sacraments, from the Word of God to the devotion to the Virgin Mary, there are spiritual treasures waiting to be discovered. I assure you this journey will be exciting and enriching.
May each step on this journey be filled with hope, love, and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May we find in the Catholic Church a refuge of peace, a source of healing, and a community of faith that supports us on our journey to God.
So, from heart to heart, I invite you to discover the wonder that is the Catholic Church, so that together we may find the fullness of truth and love that can only be found in Christ. May God bless you on this path of search and encounter!