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Why I Left the Catholic Church

Question: I want to hear your story, if you are willing to share. Why did you leave the Catholic Church?

Answer: I was raised in a Roman Catholic home, and my parents and teachers taught me the fear of God, for which I will always be grateful. My country, Malta, is intensely Roman Catholic, with well over 95% of the population being Catholic. I was thoroughly indoctrinated in the Catholic religion since infancy. Sunday mass and daily rosary were obligatory in my family, and I happily attended mass on most days of the week before school. I was proud and sure of my religion.

All that was about to change unexpectedly when I was completing my secondary education in the Catholic seminary. One day my brother came home and told me that we are justified by faith and not by works. Later on I found out that he had met some Evangelical Irish tourists earlier that week and that they had convinced him about their religion. 

I defended the Catholic teaching with much zeal. I remember arguing that faith must be accompanied by good works, the solid evidence of true faith. (Little did I know at the time that that was not what the Catholic Church teaches, but that good works actually increase and preserves the person's righteousness on the basis of which he would be justified at the end).

For two years I studied the Catholic Bible because I wanted to bring my brother back to "the true Church." I also sought the assistance of my spiritual director and several priests. I wanted to show him that the Catholic teaching is biblical. Slowly however, I begun to realize that many of the Catholic dogmas are not clearly taught in the Bible, or even worse, some seemed to contradict Scripture.

More importantly, I begun to feel the burden of personal sin and the frustration of trying to merit salvation by religion. This had become more than a religious controversy. It became a matter of life and death! I found peace after reading the Gospel of John. When I finished the book, I asked myself: What is the main purpose of the writer? The answer was simple and apparent, and yet absolutely wonderful. God the Father wants me to believe in His Son and in believing I would have eternal life!

Of course I already "believed" in Jesus. But I also believed in Mary, in the sacrifice of the Mass, in confession to a priest and penance, in purgatory, in myself and my good works by which I was expected to merit eternal life. By God's grace I realized that salvation is not what I do, or what the church does for me, or what Mary or the saints do. Salvation is of the Lord ALONE. I tossed away all these clutches, and I rested by faith on the Rock of my Salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now I know what it means to believe on the Son. And I know that I have eternal life. Praise God!

Eventually I reluctantly left the Roman Catholic Church because I could not remain a member of an institution that teaches a different way of salvation than what is taught in the Scriptures. In a very real sense my heart remains with Roman Catholics because I am a debtor to them. My desire is to share the Gospel of the Scriptures - let us keep what is holy and true in the Catholic religion, but let us not be afraid to clean the house of the erroneous traditions that have accumulated through the years.

Dr Joseph Mizzi