Must we believe 100% of what the Church teaches to be Catholic?
The safe answer to the question is "yes". Because the Church is an essential part of our faith, as Bride of Christ, we who are Catholic accept 100% of what she teaches as being what He taught and continues to teach through her. This attitude was presented to us by Vatican Council I in these words:
"Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world." (Pastor Aeternus, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Vatican I: Ch.3, par.2)
Chapter 3 closes with, “So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.” (Pastor Aeternus, July 18, 1870 from the Acts of the Council, Session four, above the signature of the Pontifical Secretary}
Now let’s listen to the words on the same topic from Vatican Council II:
“Fully incorporated into the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who--by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion--are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops.” (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Vatican II, Cap 2, 14)
These are two dogmatic views of the same truth from two different points of view. Let’s look at them through the prism of real life examples.
“I’m your father, this is my house. I make the rules. Live it my way or the devil take you.”
“We are all family. Your mother and I made a covenant to help one another to be better human beings. You and we are all in this together. What’s ours is yours and we believe that what is yours should also be ours. We can help you to be a better person too. We urge you to join us in this spirit of mutual help. Come with us, this is really the only place to be.”
Faith in God and His Church is a gift. It is an unconditional gift where knowledge of Him, Love of Him and our fellow creatures plus the hope that we can all live here on earth in peace and join Him in Heaven because we accepted the gift and responded to its demands. Faith in God and His Bride, the Church, is a pure, unconditional gift. We either take it all and put it under our pillow every night and live it every day or we cannot claim to be 100% Catholic.
Because Faith in God is such a dynamic gift, most of us believe more than 100% of what the Church teaches “officially”. That is because much of what we believe is not included in the official dogma of the Church. A lot of what we believe is not even in the official requirements of the Church’s discipline. Some of what we believe may even be outside of Church teaching, but not necessarily anti-church. You need examples? Here we go:
If you believe that you must first confess your sins before receiving communion, at all times, that is more than what the Church teaches. The Church teaches that those who wish to receive Holy Communion must be free from MORTAL sin. Confession is the ordinary step necessary to cleanse the soul of mortal sin. Going to confession more often as an effort to seek the help of a regular confessor as we strive for higher levels of Christian perfection, is more than the Church teaches.
If you believe that divorced people are banned from taking Holy Communion, you are stricter than the Church. The Church teaches that divorced people who have remarried are banned from receiving Holy Communion. To deprive divorced people who remain single from participating in the fullness of the eucharistic banquet is outside the Church's teaching, and should not be promulgated by anyone.
If you believe that homosexuality is a sin, that is not what the church teaches. Homosexuality is no more a sin than heterosexuality. What is a sin is sexual activity outside of marriage.
I could go on and create a long list. You get the point, I am sure. There are a lot of areas in our magnificent Catholic Religion that remain unknown or not understood by many holy Catholics. If you want more examples or you have questions about this, write your question down and send it to Parishworld.net in the comments section provided here below.
To be a Catholic requires that the members agree to be dedicated members of the family. The members have to believe that they are required to contribute to the welfare of the family, as defined by the Head of the Family and His ordained "household". To live under the same roof of the family requires that every member of the family accept the totality of beliefs of the familial community. Not more, not less.
Those who do not abide by at least the minimum of the family rules will not be allowed to access the benefits of the family community.
The truth is in the answer to the question: Do you agree to define the conduct of your Catholic life in absolute relation to the authority of the pope and his bishops, in relation to your conscience as guided by the gift of Faith as illumined by the general teaching office of the church (magisterium)?
That's a complex question. It requires some thought and meditation. If you want to be able to stay dry-eyed at my funeral, you had better dedicate yourself to the hard question presented here.