I've always been of a split mind about Catholics. On the one hand, the Catholic religion is really quite odd by Christian standards, with its saints, idols, the Holy Trinity, and so forth – it's really got a lot of hints of polytheism and paganism in it compared to most Christian religions.
On the other hand, I really admire the Catholic chutzpah. Unlike most Christian denominations, they frankly reject the Bible as an inerrant authority about Christ and God, and say, "We know the real truth, because ... well, ... just because!" They claim to simply know the answers, because their church was founded by Jesus himself (so they say), and they've somehow passed that wisdom directly and unerringly down for 2000 years.
You have to admire that sort of unmitigated confidence. Other Christian denominations have to go to the Bible for their understanding of God and Christ, and sadly, the Bible has so many inconsistencies that it's resulted in thousands of different branches of Christianity, each with its own spin on God, morality, the afterlife, heaven and hell, original sin ... on and on. If it's in the Bible, Christians find a way to disagree about it.
But not the Catholics. If there's a disagreement about something, the Catholics are right! End of debate! What could be simpler?
So, while I may not agree with Catholic morality (in fact I vehemently disagree with it), I admire their lack of hypocrisy (regular readers know how much I dislike hypocrisy, or here). Unlike those who hide behind "biblical inerrancy" even though there are obvious contradictions that anyone can see, the Catholics make no such claims about the Bible. They admit that it has errors, that much of it is metaphorical and mythical, and that it is supposed to be used to teach, not as a history of the world. When it comes to spiritual truths, they simply claim to know. And how can that be hypocritical?
That's not to say there aren't Catholics who don't follow Catholic doctrine, witness the flood of priestly immorality. But I'm talking about the Church's overall philosophy, not the failures of individual Catholics.
It's too bad more religions can't just use this simple directness: "We're right, because God told us!" It's simple, it's direct, and it's pretty much the truth.