Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in the press and certainly in the pews, about whether one politician or another should call themselves Catholic based upon their public support for abortion.
In article written by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, entitled Time to End the Catholic Wars, she posits that there is room in Catholic Church for all, and that there will always be differences of opinion. She lists issues such as the environment, social justice, whether Vatican II was a good idea, whether Natural Family Planning is wrong, and whether you send your children to Catholic schools, as some of the issues that divide Catholic’s into groups.
I do agree that some people in the Church may disagree about those topics and still remain faithful Catholics, however I do disagree with her premise that you may consider yourself Catholic, and still disagree with the Magisterium of the Church. That is where the line is drawn in order to be Catholic. If you cannot follow the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, then you cease being a member of the Church, whether you consider yourself to be a member in good standing or not.
Catholics in public life who outwardly oppose the teachings of the Church and the Magisterium, should be disciplined by the local ordinary. That is a good way Catholics who are not in the public eye will see how their own views may conflict with Church teachings and have the opportunity to reflect on why the Church teaches as it does and possibly come into the fold of the Church. Leaving the public Catholics to continue with their public opposition to Church teachings without retribution is damaging the flock now and in the future.
So what is a real Catholic? One that follows and assents to all of the teachings and obligations of the Catholic Church. What is so hard about that?