A very good Catholic Apologetics group run by lay people. It's head is Karl Keating, a very intelligent and rational writer. You can find them online at www.catholic.com, or by snail mail at Catholic Answers, 2020 Gillespie Way, El Cajon, CA 92020. Their tracts are well refrenced and fall in line with the doctrine of the Catholic Church (in other words, they're saying what the offical position of the Church is, not what they think it should be like some other groups do...).

As a former Rome trained (Gregorian University) Catholic priest, I assure you the Catholic Church holds much less official position than is commonly believed.

The Catholic Church is fairly flexible in what it accepts. It is much more defined what is unacceptable to it than what is considered "correct."

There are many theological traditions within the Catholic Church, many of which contradict each other. Historically, the Catholic Church has condemned many fewer positions that most people realize, and these generally were extreme positions.

So you can be "in line", and someone who disagrees with you can be equally "in line".

Incidentally, the Catholic Church has mastered the art of contradicting old infallible dogmas with straight face (the whole idea behind papal infallibility was to let a new Pope disagree with an old Pope, not to bind all future generations of Catholics with the understanding of a specific era - it is then the job of theologians to explain why the contradictions are not contradictory).

To name an example, an ancient dogma states Extra Ecclesiam salus non est, which means There is no salvation outside the Church. This dogma was declared quite early on, when limited knowledge of geography led to the belief that all of the world was Catholic. When discoveries of new lands happened, it became obvious that the dogma was untenable. But since it was a dogma it had to be true. So, they simply started interpreting it differently, namely to mean that while anyone can be saved, they all are saved through the action of the Church, regardless of whether they were formal members or not (see Missionary Paradox).

Another example, which we were taught as part of history of Canon Law, was letting a monk leave the order. For centuries it was believed that monk's vows were so sacred, even the Pope could not dispense from them. Alas, some people simply cannot deal with monastic life style, no matter what their original intention and vows. These people were essentially condemned to the life of endless misery (which, of course influenced negatively their fellow monks, too). What do?

Two canonists came with a solution: While the Pope cannot dispense a monk from his vows, the Pope can turn the monk into a non-monk.

I can just hear the Church Lady saying, "Isn't that special!" But the Catholic Church is first and foremost a diplomatic institution which has mastered the art of eating the cake and having it too to levels unmatched by any other institution in known human history.

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