(A Former Catholic Nun)


January 2002

The Catholic Church claims that it has the right to control how Catholics think.

According to “The Catholic Encyclopedia,” a person’s religious belief is “outside the realm of free private judgment”. [Note 1 gives a link to this article.]

According to Canon Law (the official laws governing the Roman Catholic Church), Catholics are required to submit their minds and wills to any declaration concerning faith or morals which is made by the Pope or by a church council. They are also required to avoid anything that disagrees with such declarations. And they can be coerced if they don’t comply. [Note 2]

The Catholic Church teaches that only the Magisterium of the Church (the Pope and the bishops in communion with him) has the right to interpret Scripture. People like us are not allowed to interpret Scripture for ourselves. We have to check it out with Church authorities. [Note 3]

Catholicism teaches that Catholics are supposed to “receive with docility” any directives given to them by Catholic Church authorities. [Note 4]

According to “Webster’s Dictionary,” “docile” means “disposed to be taught; tractable; as, a docile child”. “Tractable” means “capable of being easily led, taught, or controlled; docile.”

This sounds like young children who accept without question whatever their parents tell them. In fact, I believe that is precisely what Jesus warned us against when He told us to “Call no man father”. (Matthew 23:9) In contrast, the Bible commends the people of Berea because they “searched the Scriptures daily” in order to “see whether these things were so”. (Acts 17:10-11) God wants His people to check things out for themselves, using Scripture as their yardstick.

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The Pope said that if anybody “dares” to even think anything contrary to this dogma, then that disagreement will shipwreck their faith, cut them off from the Church, and make them become “condemned”. And if anybody in any way outwardly expresses their disagreement, then they are subject to “penalties established by law”. [Note 5 gives a link to this papal bull.]

The Pope’s reference to legal penalties is significant because a man had been executed for heresy 28 years before this papal bull was issued. In 1826, a Spanish schoolmaster was hanged because he substituted the phrase “Praise be to God” in place of “Ave Maria” (“Hail Mary”) during school prayers. [Note 6]
The Catholic Church has never renounced its past practice of killing people that it considers to be heretics. On the contrary, the Office of the Inquisition still exists. It is part of the Vatican Curia. In 1965, its name was changed to “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”. It is headed by Cardinal Ratzinger. [Note 7]

In 1962, Malta (a small island near Sicily) had a democratic election. The Catholic Church strongly opposed the Labour Party candidate (Mintoff). Maltese Catholics who voted for the Malta Labour Party were placed under interdict. It became a mortal sin to vote for Mintoff . Catholics who voted for Mintoff were banned from church life and the sacraments. They were denied a Christian burial. Instead, they were buried in an “unconsecrated” section of the cemetery which was called “the rubbish dump,” implying that the soul of the dead person was damned. A citizen of Malta recounts,

The Catholic Church used the pulpit, the confessional, the media and even public meetings in its vigorous campaign. I asked my father about his experience. When he went to confession, the priest asked him how he intended to vote in the general election and refused to give him absolution. [Note 8 links to this article.]

For more information about these things, please see my two articles entitled “Spiritual Intimidation,” and “Ecumenism and the Council of Trent”.



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1. “Inquisition” in “The Catholic Encyclopedia” (1913 edition), Volume 8. This article is available on-line. The quotation is from the second paragraph of the article. The Office of the Inquisition is an ecclesiastical institution for suppressing heresy. It is a permanent office with headquarters in Rome (described on pages 1 and 23-24 of my print-out).


2. Canons 752, 1311, and 1312 in “Code of Canon Law,” Latin English edition, New English Translation (Washington, DC: Canon Law Society of America, 1988), pages 247 and 409.

3. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Paragraphs 85, 100, 891, and 2051. The “Catechism” summarizes the essential and basic teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It was approved by Pope John Paul II in 1992 and the English translation was released in 1994. The latest English edition was printed in 2000. It is available on-line, with a search engine.



This second address didn’t always work for me. If you have a problem with it, then go to http://www.scborromeo.org and click under “Must Know” where it says “The Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

4. “Catechism of the Catholic Church,”Paragraphs 87, 1310, and 2037.

5. “Ineffabilis Deus” (“Apostolic Constitution on the Immaculate Conception”). Encyclical of Pope Pius IX issued December 8, 1854. Near the end of this papal bull there is a section entitled “The Definition”. The statements that I described are in the last paragraph of that section. Following are links to two web sites which quote this bull in its entirety.



6. Paul Johnson, “A History of Christianity” (New York: Simon & Schuster, a Touchstone Book, 1995), page 308. Paul Johnson is a prominent historian and a Catholic.

7. Following is a link to an article on the Vatican’s web site. [Click on “Profile”.]


The Vatican web site is slow and it doesn’t always come up. You can also find information about the change of name of the Office of the Inquisition at the following sites:




8. Joe Mizzi, “Liberty of Conscience”. On-line article by a citizen of Malta.


Copyright 2002 by Mary Ann Collins. All rights reserved.


e-Mail: MaryAnnCollins@Juno.Com