False Teachers Among Conservatives: the Root of the Problem

There are two types of false teachers of Catholicism. The first openly disagrees with Church teaching. Sometimes they even explain Church teaching correctly, but then they disagree, preferring their own thinking to that of Christ and His Church.

I recall a theology professor in college who taught ethics. She correctly taught that some acts are intrinsically evil and therefore always immoral. But then she would argue her own point of view, which is that, in principle, nothing is always wrong. She argued that contraception and abortion were not always wrong. And she was pregnant at the time. (Her due date was so close to the date for final exams for the class that she almost didn’t make it to the exam.) It was surreal to have a pregnant theology professor arguing that abortion isn’t always wrong. But she did, to her credit, present Church teaching correctly.

The other type of false teacher is much worse. They teach grave errors along with the claim that it is merely the correct understanding of magisterial teaching. The uniformed reader will have no way of knowing that this is false. At least, with the other type of false teacher, they tell you what the Church actually teaches. This type of false teacher is very dangerous to souls.

Some of these false teachers, who claim error is doctrine, err out of pride, ignorance, and incompetence. They actually believe that they have presented truth to their readers. But others, I strongly suspect, know that they are teaching a grave distortion of magisterial teaching. They correctly understand what the Church teaches, and reject that teaching, and decide to lie to the faithful, to trick them into believing the errors that they prefer over the teaching of Christ and His Church.

This type of teacher cannot be in the state of grace. The matter of the act is grave: teaching serious errors on matters of faith, morals, and salvation to a large number of souls. They do so knowingly and very deliberately. They continue for many years teaching grave errors knowingly. All the elements of actual mortal sin are present, to a high degree. This is one of the worst actual mortal sins that a person could commit.

But the root of the problem is not the particular teachers. It turns out that their theological arguments are not so subtle or clever that they cannot be easily refuted. There is nothing in their work which could not be duplicated by a large percentage of the sinful members of the Church. They are easily replaceable. If they were to retire, other false teachers would quickly take their place.

The root of the problem is the sinful members of the Church, who wish to sin gravely, while pretending to be faithful. There are many Catholics who will happily openly reject Church teaching, thinking their own understanding to be better. And they prefer the type of teacher who is like them, who also openly rejects magisterial teaching. But, especially among conservatives, some sinful Catholics want both: to pretend to be faithful Catholics who believe what the Church teaches, while instead committing whatever sins they enjoy.

This type of sinner seeks out any priest or theologian who will tell them that their own grave sins are just and holy. This type of sinner praises and supports anyone who provides that particular service. They despise the first type of false teacher, because they don’t want to be seen as rejecting Church teaching (even though that is what they are doing). They glory in the second type, so that they can live a devilish life while pretending to be angelic souls.

The Church is in a very dire state today. Soon She will face a terrible crisis, because so many of Her children have decided, one way or another, to reject truth.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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16 Responses to False Teachers Among Conservatives: the Root of the Problem

  1. Rodney Ford says:

    I agree Ron,
    There are so many in the Church who think they can pick and choose on what their conscience leads them to believe. Instead ,if we just try to be docile to the Magisterial teaching of the Church and, at least, try to submit to the ruling of Mother Church. But I do think this thinking is more prevalent to those relativistic/modernist types who want to throw the baby out with the bath water, and dogma out along with tradition.

  2. Marco says:

    I agree, Ron.

    Part of the problem is, i think, that many acts that are the Church considers intrinsically evil are very hard to be considered as such.

    One example is lying. It’s very hard to say that lying is always wrong even if it results in the salvation of an innocent.

    The same can be said for other teachings.

    I’m not saying that these teachings should be refuted, they are just very hard to swallow.

    • Marco says:


      For example, if what you have exposed here https://ronconte.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/pope-pius-xii-versus-the-theology-of-the-body-experts/ is an infallible teaching, in other words if we have necessarily to agree with Pope Pius XII, i can say that this teaching is incredibly harsh and, if strongly enforced, would lead to many separation.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The teaching is non-infallible, but well supported in the teachings of Saints and theologians. Some points of ethics and sexual ethics are infallible, such as the end does not justify the means, the condemnation of masturbation and of sodomy. But not every point of marital sexual ethics is infallible.

    • Ron Conte says:

      A venial lie does not condemn to Hell. We are all fallen sinners. A believing and practicing Catholic can occasionally tell a venial lie and not lose his salvation. So it is not harsh.

    • Marco says:

      It’s harsh in the sense that it’s very hard to believe that a lie that saves a person is a sin, even a venial one.

      We must be purified from venial sins, therefore if lying to save an innocent person is a venial sin, the person who lied will have to endure Purgatory’s purification for that, at the end of which she will realized that….. She should have let that person die?

      I don’t know, these are things that i can accept only by blind faith, because otherwise….

    • Ron Conte says:

      But if a person does commit a venial sin, they might easily do sufficient penance before they die.

    • Marco says:


      “The teaching is non-infallible, but well supported in the teachings of Saints and theologians. Some points of ethics and sexual ethics are infallible, such as the end does not justify the means, the condemnation of masturbation and of sodomy. But not every point of marital sexual ethics is infallible.”

      It’s a good thing that that teaching is not infallible, because otherwise i would have had to brainwash myself in order to accept it.

    • Francisco says:

      A non-infallible teaching is not open season for those who disagree with it, if they do, they still have to present their argument based on Tradition, Scripture and other Magisterial documents. If someone cannot show that something they disagree is not a teaching of the Magisterium, how is it that they still disagree?. Here is Ron’s post on the matter: https://ronconte.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/do-you-disagree-wheres-your-theological-argument/

    • Ron Conte says:

      I would like to add that, for any individual Catholic, applying magisterial teachings to their own lives, they don’t need to present a public explanation to disagree with a non-infallible teaching. Their disagreement is subject to conscience and the judgment of God.

      I’m on record as disagreeing with the teaching of Cardinal Ratzinger that some infallible teachings do not require full assent of faith, because they are “definitively to be held” but supposedly not taught to be part of divine revelation. Such a level of assent applies to dogmatic facts, but nothing else. All teachings are divinely revealed, at least implicitly, on faith and morals.

  3. Matt Z. says:

    Are we to give the assent of faith(although not to the degree of infallible) to non-infallible teachings as well? I believe so.

    • Ron Conte says:

      non-infallible teachings generally requires ordinary assent (religious submission of will and intellect). But some disagreement with non-infallible teachings is possible without sin. Infallible teachings require the full assent of faith.

  4. Matt Z. says:

    Thanks for the response. So one cannot pick and choose say 2 or 3 non-infallible teachings to not follow just because they don’t agree with the teaching, or don’t want to follow the teaching, or find the teaching too hard. They must still give religious submission of will and intellect although they may disagree to an extent with a teaching? By the way, thanks for all you do. You are doing a great job defending the faith. I’m sure it’s not easy sometimes, but don’t lose heart, you are doing well.

    • Ron Conte says:

      a faithful Catholic can disagree with a non-infallible teaching, if he has a basis in other more clear or more definitive teachings in Tradition, Scripture, or the Magisterium.

    • Tom Mazanec says:

      Under which of these three would a 17th Century Catholic disagree with the Geocentric teaching of the Church at the time?

  5. Ron Conte says:

    Well, he could disagree based on an interpretation of Scripture that those passages are to be understood as figurative, which say the earth was made firm, not to be moved.

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