Why is the Catholic Church so closed-minded?


As Catholic apologist G. K. Chesterton said, the purpose of an open mind, like that of an open mouth, is to close it on something solid. For the mind, that “something solid” is truth.

As Catholic apologist G. K. Chesterton said, the purpose of an open mind, like that of an open mouth, is to close it on something solid (see his classic book Orthodoxy). For the mind, that “something solid” is truth. When we do not know the truth but seek it, we are free to be (in fact, we should be) open minded. But once we have come to a firm conviction of the truth of something, to remain “open minded” about it is foolishness. Most people are not “open-minded” about whether murder is good or theft bad. They’ve made up their minds and rightly so.

When it comes to religious issues, the Catholic Church has “made up its mind.” There are good reasons for what the Church teaches, so it isn’t a matter of “closed-mindedness” in the wrong sense. It is a question of a reasoned conviction.

This is not to say that the Catholic Church is dogmatic about everything. In fact, the remarkable thing about the Church is how much “grey area” it leaves us. The Church is like a human body. It has a certain number of dogmatic “bones” that are hard and unbending. But the purpose of these bones is to make the body of Christ flexible and able to move in a huge number of creative ways.

Another important point to remember: The Catholic faith comes from God (Lk 10:16; 1 Tim. 3:15; CCC 87, 858). When God had definitively said something in the Scriptures or Sacred Tradition, neither the pope and the other bishops, nor the priests and deacons are free to change Catholic doctrines to appear “open-minded” (Acts 20:28). Their job is simply to tell people the truth in a loving manner (Jn 8:31–32; Gal 4:16). They do not make up or determine the truth by themselves (2 Cor 13:8).

A final note: Being too “open-minded” can be hazardous to your spiritual and physical health. You may fall for every radical new idea that comes along, or allow yourself to be swept away by the latest diet fads or consumer trends. As a priest friend of mine once remarked, “Some people’s minds are so open, they ought to be closed for repairs.” Fortunately, the Church can help such people with these “repairs” by guiding them in the truth.



Matthew Pinto "Why is the Catholic Church so closed-minded?" Apologetics: "Question of the Week" Ascension Press.

Reprinted with permission of Matthew Pinto and Ascension Press.


Matthew Pinto is a co-founder of CatholicExchange.com, a premiere Internet portal for Catholics. He is also a co-founder and former president of Envoy Magazine, which received the 1st Place award for General Interest Catholic magazines in 1998 and 1999 from the Catholic Press Association. The co-author of Amazing Grace for Those Who Suffer (Ascension Press, 2002) and Did Adam and Eve have Belly Buttons? and 199 other questions from Catholic Teenagers (Ascension Press, 1998) and creator and co-author of the Friendly Defenders Catholic Flash Cards, Matt is a well-known speaker whose work has focused primarily on youth and young adults.

Copyright © 2003 Ascension Press

Subscribe to CERC's Weekly E-Letter



Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.