11 Facts Most Catholics Don’t Know


Every time I hear someone claim to be an “ex-Catholic”, a sense of sadness comes over me.  In just about every case, people leave the Catholic Faith due to a lack of understanding.  After all, if Catholics truly believed that they were members of the one, true Church founded by Christ (and necessary for their salvation), nobody would ever leave!  In an effort to help clarify what the Catholic Church teaches, I have compiled a list of 10 important facts that every Catholic should know.  More than simply Catholic trivia, these are important concepts that can help us to better understand and defend our beliefs.  In no particular order, these items have been compiled based upon my work at Following The Truth and my own study of the Catholic Faith.

1. Women Will Never Be Priests

Often incorrectly lumped in with the subject of married priests, this is a doctrine that has been infallibly decided and will not change.  In 1994, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which he declared once and for all that “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”  Unlike the issue of married priests (which could possibly change), women’s ordination is an impossibility that will not happen.  It is not a “glass ceiling” or the Church’s attempt to hold back women.  Instead, it is an infallible recognition that men and women have different roles and that Christ instituted a male priesthood.

2. Fridays Are Still Days Of Penance

Ask almost anyone and they will tell you that Catholics are no longer required to abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the year.  However, the current Code of Canon Law (CIC) states that, with the exception of solemnities, “All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.” (CIC 1250)  Furthermore, “Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities.” (CIC 1251)  In the United States, the bishops have declared that it is permissible to substitute some other form of penance, but we are still urged to fast from “something” in remembrance of the Lord’s death on the cross.

3. The Bible Is A Catholic Book

Did you ever wonder how the Bible came into being?  A little known, but easily documented fact is that the books of the Bible were compiled by the Catholic Church.  For many years after Christ ascended into Heaven, there was debate about which scriptural writings were inspired by God.  The canon of Scripture (the books of the Bible) was first formally decided at the Synod of Rome in 382.  This decision was upheld at the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397).  At these Catholic Church councils, the same 46 Old Testament and 27 New Testament books that appear in today’s Catholic Bibles were declared to be inspired by God.  As a side note, approximately 1200 years after this decision was made, Martin Luther and the Protestant reformers removed 7 books from the Old Testament.  As a result, most Protestant Bibles are still missing these 7 books.

4. The Mass Is The Same Sacrifice As Calvary

The biggest mistake that many Catholics make is treating the Holy Mass as “just another church service”, similar to those held by other religions.  In the Mass, Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross is made present, its memory is celebrated and its saving power is applied.  The Council of Trent teaches that Christ left a visible sacrifice to His Church “in which that bloody sacrifice which was once offered on the Cross should be made present, its memory preserved to the end of the world, and its salvation-bringing power applied to the forgiveness of the sins which are daily committed by us.”  When we attend Mass, we are mystically transported to Calvary, where we can unite ourselves with the Lord’s Sacrifice to the Father!

5. Annulments Are Not Catholic Divorces

Unlike the legal process known as “divorce” (in which a marriage is terminated), a declaration of nullity (annulment) states that a valid marriage never existed.  This decision is based upon the finding that on the day that marriage vows were exchanged, some essential elements were lacking.  This process is completely in conformity with the Catholic teaching regarding the indissolubility of marriage.  Incidentally, the granting of an annulment does not render children illegitimate.

6. In Vitro Fertilization Is Morally Unacceptable

Many Catholics suffering from infertility utilize this process in the hopes of conceiving children, while remaining unaware that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) declares it “morally unacceptable”(CCC 2377).  In the Vatican Instruction, Donum Vitae, the Church states “…in conformity with the traditional doctrine relating to the goods of marriage and the dignity of the person, the Church remains opposed from the moral point of view to homologous ‘in vitro’ fertilization. Such fertilization is in itself illicit and in opposition to the dignity of procreation and of the conjugal union, even when everything is done to avoid the death of the human embryo.”

7. There Is No Salvation Outside Of The Catholic Church

Originally stated by St. Cyprian, the Latin axiom “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” reminds us that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church.  This dogma was declared at the Fourth Lateran Council and is a source of confusion for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  According to the Catechism, all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is His Body.  It does not mean that non-Catholics cannot achieve salvation.  Individuals who are unaware that the Catholic Church is the one, true Church may still achieve salvation through the merits of the Church, despite their lack of knowledge.

8. In An Emergency, Anyone Can Baptize

Although the ordinary ministers of Baptism are bishops, priests and deacons, anyone can baptize in an emergency, even a non-baptized person.  This extraordinary decision can be attributed to the necessity of Baptism for salvation and the Church’s desire to make it readily available to all.

9. Hell And Purgatory Still Exist

Contrary to the belief of many Catholics, the Church still teaches that “the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin, descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, eternal fire” (CCC 1035)  Furthermore, “all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they undergo purification, so to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC 1030)  This purification process, formally declared by the Church at the Councils of Florence and Trent, is known as Purgatory.


10. Catholics Don’t Worship Mary And The Saints

Many Catholics are confused about the role of the Blessed Mother and the Saints.  Should we pray to Mary and the Saints or should we go “right to the top” and pray to God?  In a nutshell, the Catholic Faith teaches that we must worship God alone.  Mary and the Saints are to be honored, not worshipped.  However, their intercession can be extremely powerful and emulating their virtues can put us on the road to Heaven.
While the above list only scratches the surface of the robust Catholic Faith, it provides a glimpse into the depth of Catholic teaching.  Further explanation on these and other topics can be found by examining the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, both of which can be found online at the Vatican website (www.vatican.va).  Not only will studying the teachings of the Catholic Church enable us to better defend her when challenged, it will help us to become closer to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who founded our Church 2,000 years ago.

11. Communion with the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church is the body of churches that are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, which includes the Roman Catholic Church and 22 Eastern Catholic Churches (sui iuris Churches). Read more about it here

By Gary Zimak

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Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed


  1. #4, about the Holy Sacrifice. I don’t hear much serious catechetical clarity-or even interest-in this central teaching of our Roman Catholic Faith.

  2. Re: #10. In many places (Churches, written articles, observable piety) the absence of the Holy Name of Jesus, and in Its stead those of His Mother and followers (Saints) and their images prevail, easily giving the impression of worship despite protestations to the contrary. “What you do speaks louder than what you say.” Jesus God Almighty, because of what He’s done/does for us deserves all the honor.

  3. I would like to ask why is it that in all of these statements being made, there is no reference as what the word of God or the Bible says. Where in the Bible can I find these declarations? What verses? What books in the Bible do Catholics base these teaching on? If someone could please help clarify. That would be great!

  4. Wonderful post, may God bless your efforts. @ Amale the other books are: Tobit, Judith, Esther-Greek, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, song of the three young men, Susana, Bel and the dragon, 1st and 2nd Maccabess, Esdras 1and 2, Prayer of Manasseh.

  5. Please quote a verse from the bible to support your claim of existence of purgatory. And if you don’t know Catholic path is a sure way to he’ll, the cult is loaded with heresies, chief among which is your doctrine of Mary.

    1. I Corinthians 3:11-15
      For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

    2. Heresies come from elsewhere and not the church. Gnotism and others were as early as the early church and we have documented evidence if church fathers who refuted the heresies of that time. I would encourage you to be a student of history and know the Catholic faith after which you will be in a position to know the truth and make decisions based on facts not heresies.

  6. I am a catholic, I have a lot of friends who are born again Christians, I always get questioned about the way the churches work and how we Catholics do not follow the bible. I have even been told that the popes are the reason behind a lot of the wars that had happened in the past. The main argument is statue worship (idol worship) does anyone have any thoughts about these arguments????!!!!

    1. Chris c the born again Christians will always use that we Catholics worship idols and I always answer them with either one or two things. One I certainly don’t worship any statue (do you? I am sure you don’t). When I enter the church, I genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament. I don’t bow or genuflect to any statue, I don’t pray to any statue. It is certainly not Canon Law to bow, genuflect, pray or worship any statue. If you see anyone doing that, the Catholic Church did not teach them that I can assure you.
      Secondly I ask them, why do the practices of the Catholic Church bother people so much? If you left the Catholic Church for whatever reason, I respect your decision but I ask that you respect mine to stay. Most if not all people who leave the Catholic Church do so because they don’t agree with a certain practice/tradition. It is your right to do so but I ask that you leave and leave me alone but I have no problem with the church that is why I choose to stay. Of course it is much more I can say but I think you see where I am coming from.

    2. I am a Catholic and I assure to you that I do not worship and adoring any religious statues inside the church. I bow and knee and pray to the one and only true God who is alive. If you see me that I am praying surrounded of these religious statues, you can not judge or criticize me by what you see because you can not really see who is my mind and in my heart only God know otherwise you will only sin to God if you falsely suspecting me that I am not worship him. So be careful. Judging and criticizing falsely anyone is a sin.

  7. 1. Women can be teachers, musicians, singers, contemplatives, hermits, consecrated virgins, and extraordinary ministers, but since the Messiah was foretold to rid Judaism of all ancient Egyptian and Gentile practices – priestesses, homosexuality, incest, child sacrifice, negligence of the poor and needy, frauds and schemes, false accusation, murder, etc. – so women cannot become priests, though both men and women share in Christ’s Royal Priesthood by Baptism, Confirmation, and Communion via offering prayers, proclamation of the Gospel, and conquering concupiscence.
    2. As penance and prayer open our hearts to God’s Mercy and man’s needs, and as days of penance prepare us for feast days – of which Sunday is the greatest, being the Day of the Resurrection of the Lord – so Friday – the memorial of the Passion and Death of the Lord – are Days of Penance on the Liturgical Calendar, which follows the Life of Christ – hence the Feast of the Assumption is nine months before the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas Day), since human pregnancy lasts for nine months and Mary bore her Creator and Redeemer in her perpetually virgin womb for nine months.
    3. This is a common misconception. The Bible is both a Jewish book (Old Testament) and a Christian book (New Testament), being the One Book of the Word Incarnate, Who is the Unique and Only Word of the Scriptures as its Author and Interpreter, Center and Fulfillment. No religion has a monopoly on God or on His Word, so we cannot smugly denounce mistranslations nor adore the Bible nor accuse the Jews of conspiracy theories nor rid the Bible of the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition, but ought to venerate God’s Scriptures by studying it with Faith, which prerequisite is from Judaism.
    4. We are not mystically transported to Calvary, rather God is Omnipresent and Christ’s Mysteries are both historical and transcendent, so we celebrate, take part in, and receive graces from Jesus’ Cross and so the Mass hastens the Second Coming, since therein God is present to us in an unique manner: sacramentally. We further hasten Jesus’ Return by praying the Our Father, since prayer is efficacious and the Our Father is Jesus’ Prayer, and by attuning our minds to Christ’s, since our hearts become New Heavens and Christ will create New Heavens upon His Return. All that said, the Eucharist is both Jesus’ Self-Sacrifice, Supreme Sacrifice and Ultimate Sacrifice and the fulfillment of all the Jewish offerings, yet is named after the Todah (Eucharisto in Greek) because the Messiah will perpetuate it.
    5. Annulments are the ecclesiastical way of saying “the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony never occured.” This is because, as you said, some elements were missing: consent if the marriage was forced, love if the marriage is to a child, etc. That said, annulments are similar to divorce in that one can get one if one’s spouse commits adultery or is abusive. This is because Matrimony signifies and disposes the graces of the covenant and communion (or life, or marriage) between Jesus and the Church. But that does not mean we can be mean to divorcers; rather, we ought to help them live a normal Christian life, recover from any abuse or pain, exercise Christian chastity, and (Godwlling) find a new spouse.
    6. In vitro and contraceptions can be used for non-fertilization and non-contraceptive purposes, such as medicine, but abortion cannot even be used for medicine, since murder is absolutely forbidden. In addition, contrary to the slothful desire to use contraceptions rather than diligently keep track of days and contently accept unexpected pregnancies, periodic continence is the natural way to have sex without fear of bearing children – with openness to life, of course, since abortion and begrudging one’s crosses are not the way to deal with life’s ups and downs, for virtue and health are compatible.
    7. As the Church is both in Heaven and in Purgatory, so that there is no salvation outside of her in Hell, and as the Church is in the world yet not of the world, so that there is no salvation in worldly things, and as the Church is sustained by the Eucharist and entered into by Baptism – the Blood and Water which gushed from our Savior’s Heart and Side Wound to be a Font of Mercy for us – and as we are saved by Jesus’ Blood – and ought to imitate His virtue of self-sacrifice – and as Jesus’ Humanity is the Sacrament of His Divinity, led by His Spirit since His Baptism, and the Church is His Body via matrimony, and as the Church is thus the Sacrament of Salvation and Temple of the Holy Spirit, so there is no salvation outside Christus Totus.
    8. In the Roman Catholic Church, because of the necessity of Baptism, Baptism is granted to infants, acquired by those who die for Christ or desire to be saved, its graces are not bound by the sacrament so that God can even save the unbaptized, and – in case of dying – Baptism can be administrated by anyone if they intend to do what the Church does. In the Eastern Catholic Churches, however, Baptism – in case of dying – is administrated by a Christian, even a parent of the dying, but not by just anyone. This is to ensure the dying’s salvation and out of reverence for the Sacrament.
    9. Purgatory is final purification, which purification begins in this life by education of conscience and perfection of reason, and which is augmented by the Faith, Sacraments, Morals, and Prayers of the Church. Hell, being self-damnation, is the state of loss of God via mortal sin. No one is predestined to Hell because everyone is predestined to Heaven, and God created Purgatory for this reason, knowing that some souls He would not make perfect until after death, so that, He might also help us become holy by proffering Him indulgences, sacrifices, and Masses for the Holy Souls. But God’s Mercy and Wisdom goes further: He has made Baptism to wipe out all our sins and temporal punishments, so that the dying might go straight away to Heaven.
    10. This is a common misconception. Worship includes latria (or adoration of God), dulia (or veneration of the Saints), hyperdulia (or veneration of Saint Mary), and veneration of the Scriptures, the Altar, the Cross, the Crucifix, medals, rosaries, etc. So we worship God, His Saints, His Mother, and everything He converts, justifies, sanctifies, and deifies to His glory and for our salvation, so that we might imitate and share in Him. Indeed, we worship Jesus’ Deified Humanity along with His Divinity, not because Christ as Man is God, but because God became Man in Christ. As we discern between Jesus as Man and Jesus as God, so we discern between adoration and veneration.

    1. Wow, a lot of reflections and a few semantic points of order. Can I ask for you to clarify a few of them for me:
      3. Is not the bible a compilation of a Jewish book and Christian documents, but compiled, as it is, by the Catholic Church, does that not make the book Catholic?
      4. I agree that the Graces of the Cross transcend space and time. One point I consider valid though is that Christ, being both fully God and fully man, chose a particular place and time for His Death. With this physical reality in mind, would it therefore not be ok to say that we are mystically transported there, to calvary, as it is the same and only occurrence of this Sacrifice? We are, after all, partaking of it, and it I a physical event as well as a spiritual one.
      5. Annulments are nothing like divorce and you cant just get one in the case of Adultery. In these cases you still need to test the validity of the marriage before the annulment can be declared.
      6. I agree with the contraception point you made, but which ivf processes are permissible for non-conception/contraception purposes? Masturbation obviously wouldn’t be one of them, but are you referring to the hormone treatment for women, or the harvesting of eggs? I cant guess come up with one. Unless that statement you made was just referring to contraception?

      1. @Rob: #3 Not any more than praying in your garage makes you a car. The Bible is the inspired word of God derived from way more than two sources – Jewish and Christian. The compilation was completed by the Catholic church, but the truths and guidance presented in it are catholic. On #7, one must be careful not to slip into Feeneyism. The Catholic church indeed is the most efficacious and reliable access to the graces of the Sacraments, but we must not exclude God’s authority to welcome anyone he chooses — as the Fourth Eucharistic Prayer states — “Remember those who take part in this offering, those here present and all your people, and all who seek you with a sincere heart. Remember those who have died in the peace of Christ and all the dead whose faith is known to you alone.” The Church does not presume to know more about the faith in human hearts than the Creator of all humanity knows.

  8. To understand why Protestants think we worship Mary is because we do, to a degree. Honor and worship are synonymous. Here in America, we call judges “Your Honor” and in England they’re called “Your Worship”. The two words mean the same thing but culture around the word has changed over time and the word “worship” has become what we Catholics call Adoration. However, in the early Church, there were three degrees of worship. Latria, Dulia and Hyper-dulia. Latria, the highest form of worship, which goes to God alone. Hyper-dulia, a lesser degree of worship, lesser than God but higher than all other creatures, we give to Mary. Then dulia, an even lesser degree of worship given to the angels and saints. Latria has become adoration, dulia has become veneration and hyper-dulia is the special veneration we give Mary above all God’s creatures.

  9. Glory to Jesus Christ!
    That was a nice post. However…as an Eastern Catholic I found a few issues in your article:
    1) The Catholic Church as such has no problems with ordaining married men to the priesthood. In fact if I am not mistaken, out of the 20+ churches (or Rites) that make up the Universal Church, only a small few (including the Roman Church) do not.
    And 2) Purgatory is a bit of a touchy subject in eastern theology. As it is never explicitly stated one way or another, it is a heated topic in just about every east vs. west theological debate. Basically, in the Eastern Church we do not believe in the existence of purgatory as such. I invite you to do more research if you are curious about this.
    Please understand: I am not trying to be difficult or get in anyone’s face but I keep seeing articles saying things like: “Why the Catholic Church Doesn’t allow Married Priests” or “Why the Catholic Church Only Uses Unleavened Bread” and only giving the the Roman Catholic view. If you’re going to post an article stating the views of the Catholic Church, you must speak for the whole Church, both east and west. As St. John Paul said: We must breath with both lungs!
    Thank you for reading, God Bless!

    1. Neither is my wife, she hates fish, and it’s very inconvenient for most of us, but then what Jesus did for us on good Friday was no joy for Him either, we can never repay Him for his sacrifice other than offer up ours to Him. It’s a small an easy thing to do but it has many great benefits of grace for our souls.

      1. I’ve always been allergic to fish. There’s a huge variety of meatless substitutes that can fill in for non-fish eaters. As a penance, my wife drinks black coffee instead of with the usual cream and sugar. To entirely give up coffee on Friday, well, so far no success.

    2. Remember, it states that abstaining from meat may be substituted with another form of penance — i.e. abstaining from candy or coffee, TV or internet etc. — as a reminder of Christ’s suffering.

    3. We can still eat meat seafoods or fish, but not those which comes from warm blooded animalsts because its a way to show respect to Christ precious blood that shed on that day, aside from that it is but a little way of penance by abstaining meat on that day

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