Ches has an interesting post too that is not unrelated.
What is it to be a Catholic?
It is being baptised according to Catholic rites, that makes us theologically a Son of God. That is how the Church comes up with the figure of 1 billion plus Catholics. That is at least the barest minimum, even if no further catechesis or involvement in the Church ever takes place. Even if in fact one rejects everything the Church teaches, even belief in God. According to the statistics one is still a Catholic. In most parts of the western world the actual practice rates are officially about 10%, perhaps much less.
King David loses God's favour after commanding a census to be taken, so maybe it is not too wise explore statistics too deeply but it strikes me people have quite different understandings of what it is to be a Catholic today.
Is it necessary to believe this? or the modern liturgical formula required of converts, "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God."
Or is a being a Catholic about:
- Calling onself a Catholic - self identification but nothing more
- Going to Mass occasionally - but not really believing
- Cultural belief, as someone said to me sometime ago, "I am ***, therefore of course I am a Catholic".
- Combining "the best" of Catholicism with something else like Buddhism, New Ageism etc
- Combining all of Catholicism with superstition or heresy
- Being a Catholic but also practicing in another Ecclesial community - common among Catholics married to Anglicans etc
- Receiving the sacraments of initiation and wanting a Catholic funeral or death but with nothing in between.
- Belonging and practicing but wanting to change the Church, especially on its sexual teaching, contraception, women's ordination
- Believing but notionally - so often people, including clergy, profess belief in everything but it has no effect, it is all head, no heart
- Believing partially - agreeing with what the Church says but in one's own way - Cafeteria Catholicism.
- Believing everything the Church teaches but living a lifestyle that publicly contradicts Jesus's teaching - divorced and "remarried" Catholics for example.
- Believing everything but being unable to break from a particular addictive, identifying oneself with that sin -e.g. I am a Gay Catholic
- Living a lifestyle that scandalizes other Catholics -e.g. living with a partner because of financial necessity
Are we in two camps? Those who want to define the term "Catholic" and those who don't. We then get on to the further question: why do some want to make a definition whilst others do not?
Dare we use Apostasy and Heresy? Some young Catholics might but not my generation.