st. anthony messenger

Why Continue with the Catholic Church?

Do you have any good reading material for my son who is doubting the need for the Church in his life? He specifically mentioned the seeming randomness of being born into a Catholic family instead of one of a different faith.


He asked, “How can it be that I am able to be saved because I was born here, but if I were born in Egypt (or any number of other places), I would not really have the same chance?”

In addition, the Church’s credibility is in doubt for him (and a lot of people) because of the seemingly never-ending pedophile issues and the way they have been handled.

Does he read St. Anthony Messenger? Each month, we present articles, columns, and short stories about people growing in their faith. He might find our book Believing in Jesus helpful as well.

As you describe his question, it sounds as though he assumes something that the Catholic Church neither believes nor teaches: that only baptized Catholics can be saved. If that were true, the vast majority of people who have ever lived would be excluded from salvation. 

Also, there are Christians in Egypt, mostly members of the Coptic Orthodox or Coptic Catholic Churches. If he had been born there, he would be facing many of the same opportunities to grow in his faith—and many of the same challenges.

Perhaps he should read Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. It offers many stories about how the first Christians grew in their faith amid many of the world’s cultures. The author does not shy away from stories about sin among the Church’s members, but ultimately most people described there found faith in Jesus more attractive and life-giving than its alternatives (sin’s empty promises).

In Eucharistic Prayer 2, the celebrant prays for “our brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection and all who have died in your mercy.” Does that apply only to Catholics? In Eucharistic Prayer 3, the celebrant prays, “To our brothers and sisters and to all who were pleasing to you at their passing from this life, give kind admittance into your kingdom.” Again, that challenges the idea that only Catholics can be saved.

In Eucharistic Prayer 4, the celebrant prays “for those who take part in this offering, those gathered here before you, your entire people, and all who seek you with a sincere heart. Remember also those who have died in the peace of Christ and all the dead whose faith you alone have known.”

God’s desire to save all people is hardly random; human responses to that desire, however, are clearly mixed. You didn’t mention your son’s age, but he may be growing toward a faith that can do greater justice to God’s self-revelation in the Bible and your son’s evolving personal experience.


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