Which topics of debate are encountered most

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Just wanted to know from some of you more experienced expert Catholics, which topics of debate (faith alone, mary, the pope, purgatory, sola scriptora, etc etc etc) come up the most in your encounters with non-catholics. I want to use this as a basis to outline my studies. Maybe number them 1-10, #1 being the most encountered objection to Catholicism, etc.

God Bless.
Just wanted to know from some of you more experienced expert Catholics, which topics of debate (faith alone, mary, the pope, purgatory, sola scriptora, etc etc etc) come up the most in your encounters with non-catholics. I want to use this as a basis to outline my studies. Maybe number them 1-10, #1 being the most encountered objection to Catholicism, etc

I wouldn’t call myself an experienced expert, but the one topic that seems to come up most with non-Catholics is the “fact” that we worship Mary and statues. I can’t express just how much that one drives me nuts! Then there is the “fact” that we have altered Scripture by adding books to it. There are so many others, but those are the big 2, I think. It seems to me that the ones who believe that nonsense are not so much members of a particular denomination (such as Baptist, Methodist, etc) as they are members of the “Church of I’m Not Catholic”.
Have a great day,
Worshipping Mary and saints, and purgatory are the two things I think troubles non-Catholics most. Also, Born-Againers question whether we’ve had that magic moment in time where we were saved. Plus, they are really freaked out by confession of sins to a priest. Also, they dislike the central authority of the Pope and hierarchy.
I had a very long conversation with a close Presbyterian friend who finally told me that she had been taught Catholicism is a “cult”!! My first reaction was to laugh but then I asked her to define what she meant by “cult” and she said it is a religion based on something other than the Bible alone. After several hours during which we talked about what Tradition is, where the Bible came from, the difference between doctrine and disciplines, the Holy Spirit and authority, the communion of saints, etc. she came to the view that we are Christians after all. She even apologized for calling the Church a cult. I think this is perhaps a more common opinion of the Church than I was previously aware of.
Catholics do pray to Mary, but the first time Mary had to intervene for others was at the wedding feast at Cana, “They have no wine” at this Mary said “do as he tells you” and I’m sure you all know the rest.
In Heaven Mary still does the same, we presents our petitions to Mary and she brings them to Jesus to present them to the Father, hope this helps with all the problems you have with the statement "No-one comes to the Father but through me.
Catholics believe that Jesus gave Mary to all the children of mankind at the foot of the cross, “woman behold thy son, son behold thy mother” from that moment on John brought Mary to his home.
Anyway these links explain it a lot better than I can.


I think you listed the most common topics pretty well in your question. Of all of those it seems in my experience that Mary generates the strongest emotional response. Some people seem to have this viceral fear of any honor at all being shown to her because of the fear that it is idolatrous.
I work in a family practice physicians office and it has been my policy to pray for our cancer patients. Sometimes I give a prayer card (with or with out a relic) to patients with cancer and to tell them that they are in my daily rosery. Most of my co-workers just don’t understand, and I can’t seem to get across to them that these items can really give a patient hope, which is so important.
Yeah, if you were taking a poll, I’d have to say in order it would be Mary, idolatry, confession and the Pope, but the order might be different depending on the person’s background.

What I find interesting in most of these discussions is that they generally don’t actually understand idolatry themselves and they usually give the priests, Mary and the Pope far more power than we do! 😛 They would have them be above God :eek: , while we know full well they aren’t. And they generally refuse to concede that they’ve misunderstood. They will usually tell us that we don’t understand our own faith because we don’t believe the way they do. 😦 It’s a challenge. It’s part of the reason I spend a good deal of my time in discussion with other Catholics, trying to make sure that what I believe and say is correct and then to pass it on.
I would say in this order I get it:
  1. Why we worship and pray to Mary
  2. Salvation debate, saved by faith alone?
  3. Confessing to a priest.
  4. Pope/Apostolic Authority
  5. Scandals in the Church
  6. Praying to Saints and Statues
  7. Bible alone
  8. Infant Baptism, baptism only symbolic.
  9. Eucharist
  10. Birth Control!
    I was about twenty one or so when a co-worker, an older gentleman who was Baptist started questioning me regarding the Catholic Church and my faith. I did surprising well for being so young, I had good teachers in the nuns and also my parents! But there were debates he used that I had never heard of! I thank God for him today, because he started me questioning and searching the answers. But we need to realize that many do not search the answers and simply believe what they hear and leave the Church. I do think we need to address continuing adult education in the parishes. In the end I am a stronger Catholic because of this man! I found a great series of work books called “Beginning Apologetics” published by San Juan Catholic Seminars. Available at most Catholic Book stores, anyways they were simple to understand and concise, and since the Catechism has come out we look up a lot in there.
I have to admit that none of the above-mentioned topics are what I get most often. My most common topic seems to be infallibility of the Church and, if there exists an infallible Church, then how I can be sure it’s the Catholic Church. The second most common one (for me) seems to be the question of dissent. That is, when two bishops claim to believe two different things, how I know which one is right or if it’s something that they can disagree about without compromising the faith. I’d say that one other topic that usually gets mentioned around me is objective vs. subjective truth (i.e. how do I know that what I believe is really true and not just my wishing it to be true?).
At this point, I haven’t exactly starting doing door-to-door missions or anything, and most of my “apologetics” has been to confused but earnest Catholic family and friends, or acquaintances who are fallen-away Catholics–not the typical evangelizing fundamentalist Christian or complete atheist that many Catholics have had experiences with.

That being said, the things that come up most often for me are:
  1. Infallibility of the Church/Pope (and authority of course)
  2. Birth control
  3. Mary (especially Immaculate Conception)
  4. Venial vs. Mortal sins (and thus also confession to a priest)
  5. Salvation, nature of grace, can salvation be lost
  6. Communion of saints, prayer to dead (and thus purgatory)
Sadly, the issue of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist DOESN’T come up very much in my experience… (at least as the other person’s opening question… I usually eventually try to make sure it gets brought up at some point in the conversation :)) I would guess that the reason for this lack is because so many CINO (Catholics In Name Only) just assume that the Eucharist is only “symbolic” and have no clue about what the Church actually teaches (remember, these are mostly lapsed or non-catechized Catholics I’m dealing with)…

I shudder to think of how many times non-Catholics must have approached Catholics in the last few decades ready to debate against the Real Presence, only to hear from the CINO “but we agree with you! It’s only a symbol!” ARGH! :banghead:

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