A nice piece to steer your friends and relatives to, especially the ones who say things like, "How can you stop thinking for yourself and become a Catholic?"
One often hears about the supposedly monolithic or totalitarian character of the Catholic Church. You know the drill. The Pope tells everybody what to think. Catholics all have to believe exactly the same thing. Freedom of thought is anathema for Catholics. Et Cetera.
I heard much of this and believed it—till I got to know Catholics. Then I discovered the truth of Chesterton’s remark: “Catholics agree about everything. It is only everything else they disagree about.”
The reality of Catholic (and biblical) teaching is this: There are a few cosmic truths upon which the Church absolutely insists we must agree if we are to claim the name of “Catholic”. These are more or less summarized in the Creeds and in the few dogmatic teachings of the Church pertaining to such matters as, say, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the Immaculate Conception and so forth.
Beyond this, not only does the Church not demand we march in lock-step, she positively encourages a sort of loony diversity that is much more like a garden of wildflowers or a really crazy zoo in which the keepers are the ones who cage themselves (by means of poverty, chastity, and obedience) so that the strange and exotic creatures called “the faithful” might roam free.