Practicing Catholics Without the Faith, by Phil Lawler 

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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, July 28, 2020

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

When I was in graduate school, during one of those long late-night conversations, I asked what I thought was a rhetorical question: “If someone doesn’t believe what the Catholic Church teaches, why would he keep going to a Catholic church?”

One of my fellow students immediately shot back: “Because he’s a Catholic!”

In a sense he was right. A Catholic who has become estranged from the faith is especially welcome to return. The Church is waiting with open arms, like the exultant father of the Prodigal Son.

More than that: Anyone who has been baptized into the Church remains a member of the Christian family. The character of Baptism is imprinted on his soul. He might drift away and become a lapsed Catholic. He might became a Mafia hit-man or a slave trader, and then he’d be a bad Catholic. But he’d still be a Catholic— and welcome, just like the Prodigal Son, to return.  …

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