I think the sentiment you expressed is one held by many- that Catholics blindly follow the Vatican, and never use their brains.
Once a person accepts certain premises that then draws him or her to the Church, they do not cease to think for themselves. However, let's take human sexuality for an example, once I accept the premises that lead me to the Church, the Church's view of human sexuality is infinitely logical and well-reasoned. Even difficult teachings, such as those on sterilization for women who risk their lives during pregnancy, or the teaching that gays must remain celibate, fit perfectly with the tapestry of life that the Church teaches. It doesn't make them easy teachings, but their "ease" is totally unrelated to their "reasonableness" or "truthfulness".
And when those premises are accepted, and a person then hears another Catholic teaching, they don't think to themselves, "Well, that makes no sense, but I'll follow blindly." They hear it, and they think, "Yes, this fits. Another piece of the puzzle that fits perfectly." And if a member of the Catholic clergy starts spouting nonsense, well, then a thinking Catholic will call him on it. This happens regularly.
Because of the absolute consistency in Catholic teaching, it is nice to be able to look up the answers in the back of the book, so to speak. But as someone who has gone through (hopefully) a thorough catechism, a Catholic realizes they aren't answers pulled out of thin air, they are well-reasoned under the premises of Christianity. And so, when a question like the infamous "trolley car switch" comes up, we might do a quick google search on Catholic Answers and feel pretty confident with the answer and reasoning provided.
I am not a moralist or a theologian, and so I let the experts do what they are meant to do- look at situations like tubal pregnancies, euthanasia, etc, and reason it out. I am smart enough to then follow their logical explanation and agree that it's logical. In the same way, I agree to let oncologists treat a cancer, because they are the experts. But if a doc suddenly tells me I need to sleep with a quartz crystal under my pillow, I would sense a logical problem and do a bit more digging. I hope that comparison makes sense.
The Great War: Vol 1, Chapter 3-3
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