There are many who were raised Catholic, and — even though their life has moved away from adamantly following Catholic doctrine — are still really concerned with their Catholicism and/or cite it often. This comes up very frequently in any Good Girls Avoid Abortion conversation, as when a female character will suddenly be revealed as a "good Catholic" who just can't do it.
This also pops up a lot with many comedians, directors, and musicians. Even though they may be lapsed, converted to another religion, or are now atheists, Catholic imagery and topics often still appear in their works. There are also certain N-Word Privileges: A comedian who tells you he or she was raised Catholic is probably going to make a lot of Catholic jokes or observations about the Church, that might be deemed more offensive if it came from someone else.
For whatever reason — perhaps because Christianity Is Catholic — there seems to be no common Protestant equivalent to this trope, even though people paying lip-service to their family or culture's religion is as old as religion itself. One possible explanation for this is that Catholicism, much more than Protestantism, is considered by some to be a part of one's ethnic and cultural identity in addition to being a religion, especially for those whose national heritage is tied to the Church (such as people of Irish, Italian, Polish, or Hispanic descent); Informed Judaism pretty much works this way, as well. Another possibility is that compared to Protestantism, the Catholic Church places a somewhat stronger emphasis on iconography and ritual; this can then become a rich source of material for former Catholic authors who may no longer remember the subtler doctrinal aspects of Catholicism, or who also may require an easy cue for their non-Catholic audiences to recognize. The third probable answer is the fact that it used to be rather difficult to formally abandon membership in the Catholic Church, and since 2010 it's impossible, which means that the Church still considers practically all lapsed Catholics as members of its flock whether they like it or not. (That baptism leaves quite the indelible mark on the soul...)
Yet this trope is by no means unique to Catholicism. There are Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, LDS, Jehovah's Witness, Jewish, and even Pentecostal and Baptist equivalents of this trope. This is especially common in Russian works, where the Orthodox Church is an institution and has a huge influence on the culture, but is largely seen a means to an end (usually for marriage) and otherwise does not greatly impact individuals' personal lives. In much of Northern Europe, this applies to Finns, Swedes, and Danes who are registered as members of the national Lutheran Church, even though many rarely attend.
There are various shadings of this. A "Sunday Catholic" is someone who attends Mass regularly, and may or may not follow Church doctrine closely; a "Christmas and Easter Catholic" is someone who attends Mass only on those holidays (and maybe such events as weddings and funerals), again regardless of how closely they hold to Church doctrine; a "cafeteria Catholic" is a usually derisive term for someone who chooses which of the Church's teachings to follow or ignore; an "ex-Catholic" or "recovering Catholic" has left the Church, may or may not self-identify or have formally converted to another religion, but still has the cultural baggage of having been raised Catholic; a "cultural Catholic" or "non-practicing Catholic" still identifies as Catholic due to family or ethnic heritage but really doesn't adhere to the religion itself; and a "lapsed Catholic" or "fallen-away Catholic" is the Catholic Church's own term for all of the above, except perhaps the "Sunday Catholic" (depending on how much he/she hews to Church doctrine and how much any differences can be justified as legitimate theological argument—which is, truth be told, rather a lot).
- Catwoman from Batman. Her mother was religious, and after being orphaned, she briefly lived in a Catholic orphanage before destroying her records and taking to the streets. Her younger sister Maggie's a former nun, too, but has some mental health issues and believes that Selina is possessed by some sort of cat-demon. This leads to problems when Maggie becomes possessed by an actual demon and attempts to perform a lethal exorcism on Selina.
- Huntress, aka Helena Bertinelli, of the Batman family and Birds of Prey, doesn't bring it up often, but she wears cross jewelry and prays before she fights Lady Shiva, possibly to the death. Her faith has varied in strength over the years, from non-existent (an important plot point in one story) to firm (but never devout). The strength of her faith is used as a symbol of how much hope and optimism she has for the future. In bad times, her faith declines. For example, after causing the death of a mob boss who knew her identity, she throws away her cross. In good times, her faith is stronger. For example, she plans on attending Mass after getting her teaching job and feeling accepted by the Birds of Prey.
- Batman himself. After much scrutiny, Adherents.com have concluded that he is either a lapsed Catholic or Episcopalian. Other writers portray him as either a Nay-Theist or straight-up atheist. Either way, he's never really been portrayed as an active worshiper or churchgoer.
- Red Robin's mother was raised Catholic but her husband was atheist and by the time her son is questioned on his faith, he says he can't believe in a god who would allow for the pain and suffering in the world he lives in.
- Eddie Brock/Venom may kill people, but he's a good Catholic and goes to church. He fails to see the irony on multiple occasions.
- Daredevil is devoutly Catholic and has a history of struggling with the morality of committing violence for the greater good.
- Blue Devil is a devout Catholic, even though his diabolic nature prevents him from regularly attending church.
- Nico Minoru and Victor Mancha of the Runaways are both stated to be Catholic. The Minoru family's Catholic roots go back at least as far as 1907 when Nico's ancestor Witchbreaker was part of an implicitly all-Catholic gang called the Upward Path.
- Nearly every major character in Love and Rockets is Catholic (the major exception being Petra, who became a born-again). The level of devotion varies considerably.
- The Punisher was raised Catholic and even (briefly) considered going into the seminary when he was still a teenager, but had major issues with the business of forgiving sinners. Of course, as shown in the MAX imprint story "The Tyger", he'd seen horrible crimes even in his childhood. Particularly in stories written by Garth Ennis, he is shown as fully aware that his violent war on crime has damned him to Hell and there is no hope for forgiveness, he just doesn't care. He's gone light-years beyond even Non-Practicing Catholic. Frank also shows a strong streak of Raging Against The Heavens, particularly when he sees young children or women being victimized.
Frank: There are times when I'd like to get my hands on God.
- Bruce Banner is occasionally implied to have been raised Catholic in the 616 universe, and heavily implied in the Ultimate universe.
- Steven Rogers of Captain America fame was the son of two Irish Catholic immigrant parents. Whenever he is characterised as particularly humble, people sometimes point to this as part of the reason.
- Joe in Crimson occasionally swears by Virgin Mary and still believes in God's existence, despite being a vampire and partly due to his Mexican heritage (Mexico is a predominantly Catholic country).
- Tim Drake and his late father Jack both fall into this category in Angel of the Bat, though Tim eventually finds much of his faith again. Though she wasn't raised with the faith, by the end Cassandra is a deeply spiritual cafeteria Catholic mostly as a result of her pansexuality and the girl she starts dating. Even the author, who calls himself a deeply religious man, is also a big proponent of God Before Dogma.
- Ultra Fast Pony. In the episode "Faith to Faith":
Applejack: "Faithless heathen"? Screw you, I'll have you know I'm Catholic!
Twilight: Wait a minute. You're a Catholic?
Twilight: But you don't believe in God.
Applejack: Of course I don't! I'm Catholic!
- It's a common Fanon in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers to have Doc be this, though, like many things concerning Galaxy Rangers, including Doc himself, it's Played for Laughs.
- Rebecka Smith-Rhodes-Stibbons, in the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, attended the Convent School of the Spiteful Sisterhood of Seven-Handed-Sek. She has, therefore, had the Discworld equivalent of being Raised Catholic. Her education persists even after being trained as a Witch; she finds herself thinking in terms of the catechism and what Mother Superior might think and do.
- Silent Bob, according to Chasing Amy. In a moment where he exemplifies The Silent Bob he explains how he ended up breaking up with his girlfriend after finding out about her previous sexual experience not from any disgust, hatred, or anything but because...
"Now this just blows my mind, right? I mean, I am not used to this sort of thing. I mean, I was raised Catholic, for God's sake."
- In Dogma, in the beginning, Bethany doesn't believe in God and works at an abortion clinic, but still goes to Mass every Sunday.
- The villainous Doctor from Amen describes himself as "a bit Catholic." It's unclear if he's just being sarcastic, though.
- In Sister Act, Delores' first scene is her making a joke about the Apostles and the Beatles, and then being told by a nun she'll never succeed. Cue a smug grin, and a flash-forward to Whoopi Goldberg, a grown-up Delores, who's a lounge singer. Of course, by the end of the film, Maggie Smith saves her soul.
- All the reporters in Spotlight. Sacha Pfeiffer still goes to Mass with her grandmother. After she starts research on the sex abuse scandal and starts interviewing survivors, she looks noticeably uncomfortable sitting in the pews. Most of the actors were this — Michael Keaton, Tom McCarthy, and Rachel McAdams (who played the aforementioned Sacha) were all raised Catholic.
- Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski defies this trope, having received a Polish Catholic upbringing but having subsequently converted to Judaism after marrying a Jewish woman. The weirdest part is that they've been divorced for five years, yet Walter still obsessively follows his ex-wife's religion and refuses to acknowledge his Catholic background at all.
- Groundhog Day: Rita says she attended a Catholic school, so she naturally takes offense when Phil declares himself to be a god, and cites that as a basis to disbelieve him.
- Jennifer's Body: Needy appears to be nominally Catholic, since her mom crosses herself after talking about Jesus' crucifixion, and later she calls on God along with a couple saints while fighting Jennifer.
- There's a joke where a man goes to his first confession in several years, and after rattling off a list of sins, stopping short of murder, the priest asks if he ever knowingly ate meat on a Friday. "I may have sinned," says the man, "but I didn't become a Protestant."
- There's one joke about a woman going to confession, and the hard-of-hearing priest being greatly relieved when she makes it clear that she became a "prostitute" rather than a "Protestant."
- A joke was also told about a man who calls off an engagement when his fiancée tells him she had to become a prostitute to survive once, thinking she said "Protestant" (she clarifies, and the engagement is back on).
- There is a story told of James Joyce, who, after he left the Church, was stopped on the streets of Dublin by a woman who congratulated him for becoming a Protestant. "Madam," he said, "I have lost my faith; I have not lost my reason."
- A Protestant nod towards this trope goes thus: There are two kinds of people in the Church of England, those who believe in God and those who don't.
- Quentin Crisp wrote, "When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, 'Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe?'"
- A Spanish joke has a Jehovah's Witness knock on the door of an atheist. After a while of give and take, the atheist gets fed up and says: "Look, I don't believe in the Roman Catholic Church, which as we all know is the only one, true and holy, and you expect me to believe in yours?"
- A Jewish rabbi, a Protestant minister, and a Catholic priest were good friends and, since their three houses of worship were near each other, lunched together often. One day the rabbi complained about a terrible rat problem which his friends also admitted having in their buildings as well. The rabbi mentioned he paid an exterminator $5,000 to guarantee a rodent-free synagogue. His Protestant friend said he paid $10,000 for his solution but the guarantee was for 10 years. The priest said, "My friends, I solved my problem for no money at all. I baptized the ones in my church." "Baptized them!" exclaimed the minister. "Whatever for?" "Simple," replied the priest, "now I only see them on Christmas and Easter!"
- This is perhaps the most important theme in Brideshead Revisited; Catholicism has left an indelible mark on the souls of the errant Flytes (Lord Marchmain, Sebastian, and Julia), and all of them are eventually and almost inevitable reconciled with the Church.
- The Confessions of Saint Augustine. He was enrolled as a catechumen, and at one point was stricken with a stomach illness, so he asked for baptism. When he recovered, the baptism was deferred (at the time, one of the first steps of baptism was that the catechumen must come of age to make a profession of faith). He then spent much of his youth giving himself up to sin, indulging in lust and the company of delinquents. This gets eventually subverted when, after years of philosophical inquiry and struggling with lust, he has a conversion of the heart and realises that the Christian faith is true; he eventually went to Cassisiacum with his mother and his friends to be baptised.
- Cut and Run's Nick O'Flaherty is Irish Catholic. He makes no mention of going to church and isn't really shown praying, but he's apparently practicing enough to stop dead in the middle of an armed chase scene after running by a church and realizing he might be about to kill people on Easter Sunday. He makes sure to cross himself before his friends pull him back to the chase.
Nick: I'm going to Hell anyway, I don't know why I bother anymore.
- The Dracula Tape, Dracula is revealed to be actually a Traditionalist Catholic as religious artifacts don't have an effect on him, but he admits not being practicing anymore at the time he tells his side of the story. Still, he takes great offense at having seeing communion wafers weaponized by Van Helsing and delightfully deconstructs how he got them wrong.
- In the Emberverse, Juniper MacKenzie was raised Catholic, and other characters observe that, despite having converted to Wicca, she still seems to be carrying her Catholic Guilt.
- Most of the main characters of Fort Hope were all raised Catholic. Emma goes to Church regularly and the religion seems to be somewhat important to her. The other characters don't care nearly as much.
- Hercule Poirot's religion is Roman Catholicism. He has some morality based on that part of Christianity since he is Roman Catholic by birth.
- In the Stephanie Plum series, both Stephanie and her sister Valerie mention still having guilt instilled by a Catholic upbringing, even though neither actively practices the faith.
- These Words Are True and Faithful: Ernie identifies as a Catholic but does not observe that faith or even know anything about it beyond what he half-remembers from CCD.
- Cole St. Clair in Wolves of Mercy Falls Series is heavily implied to be this, without the title "Catholic" ever being used. He is seen holding a rosary, "Fingers grasping the beads as if the gesture was familiar" and later, an interviewer questions his belief in God, quoting Cole's former role as a choir boy. Given that Cole is now a Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll poster child, he is very much the lapsed sort.
- In A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, the Native Americans are raised as Catholics through a missions school on the reservation in Montana. Ida's sister Pauline goes full-bore Catholic while Ida lapses. Christine becomes a dedicated Catholic up until her teen years when The End of the World as We Know It was supposed to happen on New Year's Eve 1960 and it didn't, though during her lapsed years she still continues to pray to the Virgin Mary in dire circumstances. Her brother Lee drifts toward her people's Native American beliefs up until he joins the Army. Rayona is usually pushed toward Catholicism both in the Seattle area and on the reservation but doesn't really commit herself to the faith at any point.
- The Brentford Trilogy features Irish John Omally, who is, in his own words "... a Catholic. Not a good one, but a Catholic, nonetheless." While he seems to have little attachment to the faith in his everyday life and readily admits that the Church's answers to the great questions only raised more questions for him, he does occasionally seek out father Moity for spiritual advice and is willing to risk his life to defend the Church against the depravations of a demonic reincarnation of Alexander Borgia.
- Household Gods: Nicole was. Though she's lapsed, the contempt Roman pagans have toward Christians even so strikes hard given her background.
- Mairead from There's More Than One Way Home grew up in a very traditional Irish Catholic family that believed Vatican II was heresy. She switched to Pentecostalism as an adult.
- Booth on Bones. He tends to show far more deference to the Church than Hollywood Atheist Bones does.
- Game of Thrones: Davos starts out an atheist, but still instinctively invokes the Seven while seeing something as shocking as Melisandre getting heavily pregnant within days and giving birth to a shadow monster. He later comes to believe in her powers because of this (though he's still no fan of her god).
- DS Matt Devlin in Law & Order: UK.
- A number of characters in Homicide: Life on the Street. In one episode, Frank Pembleton, who says he went to a Jesuit school, discusses good and evil with a nun.
- Henry Fitzroy on Blood Ties, even though his father invented Anglicanism.
- A lot of the characters (noticeably not the lead, though) on Saving Grace.
- Kate on NCIS.
- Kevin Ryan on Castle.
- Babylon 5:
- Michael Garibaldi. During the course of the series, he considers himself an agnostic, then an atheist however.
- Jeffrey Sinclair mentions once or twice that he attended a Jesuit school when he was younger, implying a possible Catholic upbringing (though not everyone who gets a Jesuit education is raised Catholic).
- Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock. One of his temporary love interests was a deeply religious Catholic, resulting in him trying to hide from her the fact that he wasn't really religious anymore. Hilarity Ensues.
- Dick Wolf loved this and pretty much hit every area of the spectrum. Ben Stone, Rey Curtis, Elliot Stabler, Nick Amaro, and Sonny Carisi fall on the "devout" side (with Curtis and Carisi probably being the strongest adherents), while Jack McCoy and Bobby Goren fall on the "lapsed" end. Mike Logan would be the most extreme "lapsed" case - he was a victim of a pedophile priest and an abusive "devout" mother, which left him so bitter that "The next time I enter a church, it'll be in a pine box carried by six of my friends." Rafael Barba also fits the trope, but his current level of devotion is unclear. And then there's Lennie Briscoe, who is Jewish on his father's side but was raised Catholic by his mothernote .
- Peggy Olson on Mad Men — her father was apparently Norwegian (whether Catholic or Lutheran is never made clear, seeing as he's long-dead), but her mother seems to be strongly Irish-Catholic, and rather disappointed with/scared of Peggy's modern "Manhattan" lifestyle. This is a key theme of Season 2 when a young priest wants to bring her back into the fold.
- Scully on The X-Files was raised in a Catholic household. She wears a cross, but later she's shown to struggle to reconcile her beliefs and her deep knowledge of science. She also needs to strike a balance not only between her faith and work as a scientist but her faith and her new knowledge and experiences surrounding the paranormal. There are several episodes that deal with the issue.
- The Big Bang Theory: Some of the characters carry the baggage of their upbringing, and religion comes into play.
- Bernadette comes from a Catholic family. However, her beliefs are not discussed much, and her family might not be too keen on Howard, but they don't seem to mind too much that he's Jewish. Regarding Bernadette's wedding to Howard; canon law specifically requires Catholics to get permission outside of a church building, if marrying a non-Catholic, and especially never without a Catholic priest or deacon as officiant. The ceremony was officiated by their friends.
- Sheldon's mother is a deeply religious woman - Evangelical Christian. Sheldon is vexed that she considers evolution an opinion and all the efforts she puts into prayers.
- Howard Wolowitz is a Jew. He sometimes comments on their family traditions and Jewish traditions. For instance, he once got sleeves with fake tattoos and said this was he could play a cool Goth boy and still be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
- Raj is a Hindu. It's clear he doesn't follow the traditions as he, for instance, eats beef. Sometimes he (ab)uses the traditions when he tries to break up his sister with Leonard. He doesn't want them to date, yet he himself pursues American girls.
- In The Wire Bunk theorizes this is the reason behind McNulty giving a crap about the family of one of the deceased girls in Season 2.
The Bunk: How does that matter? You see, this is that Catholic shit, Jimmy. This is that little altar-boy-guilt talking.
- Played for comedy with Mac in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, who only remembers his Catholic faith when he wants to complain or to criticize other people. In one episode Charlie and Mac are both okay with pre-marital sex and abortion but refuse to use birth control because "we went to Catholic school."
- On House, Chase was raised Catholic, and in the Season 1 episode Damned If You Do it was revealed that he attended seminary before becoming a doctor. It's always interesting when the episode has nuns in it or otherwise mentions religion and God. He zigzags from one end of the belief/skepticism spectrum to the other throughout the series. One season 8 episode sees him fall in love with a novice nun patient and try to lure her away from the Church. His efforts actually get a What the Hell, Hero? from House himself.
- President Bartlet on The West Wing. After a beloved character dies he goes to church to curse out God in untranslated Latin for three whole minutes. And it was glorious.
- Murdoch Mysteries: Detective Murdoch is a practising Catholic in a Protestant Toronto in the late Victorian era. His deep religious faith often clashes with his scientific mind. He's really ahead of his time in many ways and very open-minded, but some issues like homosexuality, abortion, or divorce trouble him and he has a hard time to reconcile his experience from life with the Church's position.
- The A-Team has Templeton Peck, who was raised in Catholic orphanages. Most certainly falls into either the lapsed or recovering groups, as he had no qualms with impersonating a priest if the con asks it of him.
- Gil Grissom on CSI was raised Catholic. When greeting a priest at a crime scene, the priest knew he was Catholic when Grissom said, "Hello, Father," since the priest noted others would call him "Pastor" or "Reverend."
- Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Matt Murdock in Daredevil (2015), obviously. Much is made of his difficulty reconciling his career as a violent vigilante with his faith (not to mention his day job as an attorney). He also jokes that his ability to take a beating and keep chugging is due to this background as well.
- Played for laughs in Jessica Jones (2015), where Pam gives being raised Catholic as the reason why she won't accept a proposal from her boss Jeri Hogarth until Jeri's divorce to her wife is finalized.
- Vampire Raphael Santiago on Shadowhunters. He repeatedly cites his Catholic background, especially when he is doing something to help somebody else. Raphael has also made a point to overcome his vampiric aversion to religious gestures and has been shown to make the sign of the cross over the body of the victim of another vampire.
- Gina Calabrese on Miami Vice thought all teachers were nuns until she was twelve years old.
- Jack Killian from Midnight Caller is a lifelong Catholic, although he isn't very devout.
- Kristen Bouchard of Evil (2019) was brought up in the Catholic Church by her now-divorced parents. She doesn't raise her daughters in the faith, which her husband reminds her she's dismissed as old superstition. So it raises some eyebrows when she starts working for the Diocese with acolyte David Acosta.
- Red Dead Redemption 2: It's likely that Javier Escuella is a practicing Roman Catholic, since his home country, Mexico, is a predominantly Roman Catholic country. In one camp interaction you can see him genuflecting on one knee behind a barrel when Reverend Swanson asks him to confess at camp, and Javier replies that "I'm sure there's priests who will happily take your confession," before making the Sign of the Cross. As he is praying, Swanson makes an ominous foreshadowing that Javier is "doomed", which may indicate what will happen to him in one of his two fates in RDR1.
- Raimi from Broken Saints has a lot of snark reserved for supposedly supernatural practices and is far from reverent in his inner monologue, but still has a crucifix on his wall at home and carries some Catholic guilt.
- John, an Author Avatar and main character in The Word Weary, makes the sign of the cross when he hears a siren and has an icon of the Virgin Mary in his room, but seems to be a lapsed Catholic.
- Played with in Better Days. The Catholic-raised Rachel is a wild party girl who constantly cheats on her boyfriend (including with the local priest while she's in the confessional!), but still considers herself very religious and seems to seriously want to one day settle down with said boyfriend and have lots of children. On the other hand, the boyfriend identifies as Catholic for the first few chapters we see him but eventually gives up his faith (which he describes as an "emotional crutch") to be with Lucy, who is an atheist. He pretty much completely disavows any identity as a Catholic after that.
- Brian, Rowan and the rest of the Fitzpatrick siblings from Rhapsodies. Neither appears to practice, but they still use the Virgin Mary's name in vain and get dragged to confession by their mom.
- The Nostalgia Critic, as well as his actor. Critic is still fairly religious, even though he bounces between doubt and fully believing. It later becomes fairly moot when he starts hanging out with Satan, including babysitting his daughter a few times.
- Kyle "Oancitizen" Kallgreen of Brows Held High occasionally makes some nods to Catholicism in his reviews and sketches. Even the Mind Screw ending of What Is It? He lampshades this while mentioning this very TV Tropes page in his Melancholia review.
- Nella in The Nostalgia Chick, which is Played for Laughs during The Chick's review of Sister Act.
The Chick: [to the audience] There is one surefire way to combat Catholic guilt: Catholic shame. [to Nella] Sorry about that. How's your sex life? That I know you have.
- While Brad Jones considers himself an agnostic, it's mentioned in his reviews that he attended Sunday School and has Christian friends. This is especially evident in his DVD-R Hell skewering of Rock: It's Your Decision and Deception of a Generation.
- The Necro Critic prefaces his review of The Christmas Shoes by pointing out that he is a practicing Christian (Methodist, as a matter of fact) in an attempt to avoid accusations of him unfairly judging the movie's religious aspects.
- The late programmer and TempleOS creator Terry A. Davis grew up in a Catholic household and became an atheist until he had a "revelation" from God that ordered him to build the Third Temple of Jerusalem in software format and became a born-again Christian of an unclear denomination. Though he expressed disdain for Catholicism (especially towards the Pope and the Irish) he admitted in an infamous TempleOS blog post that at some point in his life he fantasized about leading an "Catholic army" like in Dune composed of Mexicans and Brazilians (both belong to Catholic-majority countries).
- Family Guy: Peter was raised Catholic, and it mostly comes up when it weighs on his conscience or puts him at odds with others, such as his having second thoughts about wearing a kippah when entering a synagogue, disrupting a Passover seder, or getting called out by Francis when he starts a religion built around The Fonz.
- Kevin Smith, who makes foul movies filled with all sorts of cussing and donkey shows, is still obviously obsessed with his Catholic upbringing. And made the movie Dogma. However, he goes to Mass only before commencing the filming of a movie, and before the premiere. He's also pretty open about being a "Cafeteria Catholic."
- Martin Sheen has been quoted thus: I'm one of those cliff-hanging Catholics. I don't believe in God, but I do believe that Mary was his mother. He became a believer again after reading The Brothers Karamazov, which was given to him by Terrence Malick.
- Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie has described himself as "this indoctrinated Catholic even though I haven't been to church of my own volition in 10 or 15 years now."
- Pete Jones, the winner of Project Greenlight's first season, made a movie about a young Catholic boy trying to convert a dying Jewish boy to Catholicism.
- Luis Buñuel. Even though he is obviously anticlerical, it's impossible to point out one of his films that doesn't include a reference to Catholicism.
- Guillermo del Toro is an atheist, who was also raised Catholic and uses a lot of Catholic imagery.
- Edmund McMillen, the creator of The Binding of Isaac, was raised around Catholics and once compared the faith to Dungeons & Dragons. He cites Catholicism's morbid and violent imagery as influential on Isaac's development. In the game, there are many homages to Catholic teaching, such as the Seven Deadly Sins Isaac must defeat, the Rosary, the Bible, and even the Wafer.
- A poll from a religious magazine directed at Catholics in France has concluded that 48% of them don't believe in God. Not 48% of the French, 48% of the Catholics. In contrast to Ireland, France enjoys the world's most ironclad separation of church and state so getting your kids into school isn't an issue. This is purely a matter of belief and self-identification.
- Madonna was raised Catholic, and a lot of her songs, music videos, and albums (particularly from The '80s) allude to this. She once stated: "Once you're a Catholic, you're always a Catholicin terms of your feelings of guilt and remorse and whether you've sinned or not."
- Lady Gaga was also raised Catholic and even attended an all-girls Catholic school as a kid. Her video for the song Alejandro features strong Catholic imagery.
- Martin Scorsese said "I'm a lapsed Catholic. But I am Roman Catholic - there's no way out of it." His films often deal with Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption. It's been suggested that his 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ, which offended many in the Catholic Church (and many other churches besides) can be chalked up to a vague sense of self-loathing or alienation on Scorsese's part.
- Jimmy Carr, who references his upbringing in his stand-up routine despite being an anti-theist.
- Joe Rogan, who makes references to his Catholic School education and Catholic upbringing despite being an atheist now.
- Richard Hammond of Top Gear (UK) fame — it seldom shows, but he looked very annoyed when Jeremy Clarkson and James May were joking about the Catholic priest sex scandal.
- A number of Catholic writers, such as John Caputo and his "religion without religion," deconstruct this trope by rethinking what constitutes religion and belief in the first place. Hence to press the "Cafeteria vs Faithful" Catholics issue (especially in terms of "piety") would be missing the point of actually believing in something.
- Denis Leary goes so far as to found the Lapsed Catholic Church at the end of his second album, Lock'N'Load. He also admits that he couldn't remember the Hail Mary prayer during a scene when his character in Rescue Me has to recite it, but can name the starting lineup of the 1967 Red Sox off the top of his head.
- Brazil, like Ireland, is a predominantly Catholic country. Brazilian Catholics are Non-Practicing-Majority Catholics. The same can be, and is—probably with varying degrees of accuracy—said about most majority-Catholic countries.
- George Carlin's massive hit show Class Clown was all about being the class clown of a Catholic high school. A prominent joke: "I used to be Irish Catholic; now I'm American."
- Stephen Colbert was not only raised Catholic but is still very much a believer and practices the religion (and in fact teaches Sunday school). He views it differently from his Colbert Report persona.
- Dan Savage is openly atheist and a supporter of the skeptical movement but considers himself "culturally Catholic" because he was raised that way and respected his parents' beliefs. He tends to bring this up when religious conservatives accuse him of being "anti-Christian."
- Critics find that James Joyce writes very much as an ex-Catholic, not a non-Catholic. See above in Jokes about a famous-if-probably-apocryphal story about what happened when a Protestant spoke to him about leaving the Church.
- Camille Paglia. While she currently identifies as an atheist, she has credited her upbringing in the Roman Catholic church as highly influential to her interest in paganism and its themes in art and culture.
- Jeremy Irons, who coincidentally played the ruthless Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) on The Borgias is by no means practicing, but does cite his local parish as somewhat of an influence in his philosophy on caring for others.
- Anthony Burgess, English author most renowned for his novel A Clockwork Orange, was raised by Catholic parents in Manchester, England. He had a heavily religious education in Catholic schools and, though he lapsed from his faith in his adult life, his works are consistent with a Catholic perspective and worldview on various subject matters such as the concept of free will in A Clockwork Orange.
- A few people from Rooster Teeth cite themselves as this, though most notably Burnie Burns and Michael Jones. The former's dad was a priest at one point before retiring, and while Burnie doesn't seem much of a believer now he admits he would struggle to get rid of a Bible. The latter was raised Catholic by his parents and has said that he doesn't really follow it in adult life.
- Paul McCartney, leading to speculation about whether the "Mother Mary" mentioned in "Let it Be" is the Virgin Mary (Word of God is that she a reference to Paul's own mother—who died when he was in his teens—but that the religious imagery is nonetheless deliberate). George Harrison too, though thanks to his fascination with Eastern religion it never comes up (though it explains the Take That! to The Pope in his solo song "Awaiting On You All").
- The entire Canadian province of Quebec is an example of this trope. From the conquest of Nouvelle France by the British until the 1960s, the dominant political and social power was the Catholic Church. Then, in the 1960s there was the Quiet Revolution, wherein hospitals and schools became government-run instead of Church-run (though nuns and priests still tour the hospitals on Sunday to offer the Host. Also, schools taught Catholicism until the last decade, though you could opt out very easily.), and the Church was demonized into a totalitarian, reactionary relic of a bygone age. Still, the majority of Quebecers, even those born after the 1960s, are baptized and know the basics of the religion. And suggesting the huge honking cross should be removed from the National Assembly (or the top of Mount Royal), that the mayor should not have the right to say a prayer to open a council session, or that the Premier should publicly wish people Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas (or rather Joyeux Noël) will cause a huge media storm and talks on how those things are not religious but cultural. Oh, and whenever a Quebecois(e) swears, they sound like they're listing off items from a church.
- Edward Elgar was an English composer who was also brought up a Catholic. He was sympathetic to English Catholics suffering prejudice in Protestant Britain and he composed a couple of religious choral works, like The Dream of Gerontius, The Kingdom, The Apostles, and The Light of Life. However, he was not particularly devout and was ambivalent towards the Catholic faith, especially towards the end of his life. He only continued going to Mass because his wife Alice, who was a devout Catholic convert from Anglicanism, encouraged him to or because he admired a particular priest in a parish. He also denied that there is an afterlife.
- Romantic composer Hector Berlioz was also raised Catholic and gained his love of music from the Church. After seven years, his religious fervour eventually died down and he became an agnostic for the rest of his life. However, he was not hostile to the Church and fondly recalled his childhood years. The influence of religious music remained with him throughout his life and he went on to compose a Requiem, a Te Deum, and L'enfance du Christ, an oratorio on the childhood of Jesus.
- The Dutch provinces of Limburg and North Brabant are distinctly Catholic, and have traditions like Carnival and lighting votive candles, which stands in contrast to most of the culturally Protestant Netherlands. Despite this, very few Dutch Catholics actually believe their religion.
- Roger Ebert considered himself to be a Catholic and was even friends with a priest (and former Sun-Times writer) named Fr. O'Leary, even though he didn't believe in God. His colleague Richard Roeper is Catholic, but according to his own words, "not always first in line for Sunday Mass."
- Comedian Mike Birbiglia. In one of his bits, he says that you can always tell people who went to Catholic school because they're atheists.
- Punk writer-musician Jim Carroll, as he explained in his song "Catholic Boy":
They can't touch me now
I got every sacrament behind me:
I got baptism,
I got communion,
I got penance,
I got extreme unction
I've got confirmation
'Cause I'm a Catholic child
The blood ran red
The blood ran wild!
- Andy Warhol is a particularly bizarre case, somewhere between a subversion and an outright inversion. Warhol was absolutely not your typical image of a "proper" Catholic (it's Andy Warhol), but not only was he raised Catholic (in the oft-neglected Byzantine Rite Ruthenian Catholic Church), he was devout. So devout, he made an entire collection of paintings on religious subjects that he never released, as he considered them works of personal devotion. So devout, he attended Mass every week at a Latin Rite churchnote and even converted a few people to Catholicism. So devout, he agonized about crossing himself the "wrong" way (Eastern Catholics cross themselves up-down-right-left like the Orthodox instead of up-down-left-right like Latin Rite Catholics) in the Latin Rite church he attended. So devout, he probably remained a virgin his whole life. So devout, one of his proudest achievements in life was paying for his nephew's studies to become a priest. So devout, in fact, that despite his great and demonstrable devotion he took communion hardly ever if at all, because he apparently didn't believe himself worthy. And yet, he was Andy Warhol, iconoclastic artist and owner-operator of the Factory—the biggest den of sin in New York City in its day. He is often cited as a great example of a gay Catholic by both secular LGBT rights groups and practicing Catholics.
- Soccer star Mary Abigail "Abby" Wambach, so named because her mother had prayed to the Virgin Mary for a girl after giving birth to three boys in a row. However, Abby's mom decided that "Mary Abigail" sounded better than "Abigail Mary."
- Brian "Q" Quinn from Impractical Jokers confirmed that he is an atheist on a Twitter Q&A despite attending an all-boys Catholic High School with the other three Jokers. He respects the beliefs of others and apologized to a fan for making an anti-Christian joke, which led to him admitting his non-theistic beliefs.
- Nic Sampson revealed that he attended a Catholic secondary school. He made jokes about Jesus but never seemed to be intentionally sacrilegious.
- WNBA star Elena Delle Donne was raised Catholic, and she attended Ursuline Academy in Delaware.
- Tom Baker is an extreme example as he was not only raised Catholic but was into it enough that he spent his late teens as a Trappist monk. Even though he lost his faith, he has remained obsessed with religion ever since and is notorious for banging on about it in interviews no matter what the interviewer is trying to ask him. Sufficiently symbolically sensitive viewers may notice the Catholic imagery and Messianic Archetype symbolism he incorporated into that character for which he is most famous.
- Singer Willy Norton, who has described himself as a 'very lapsed Catholic' and went to a Jesuit school.
- American Olympic gymnast Simone Biles was raised Catholic by adoptive parents.
- My Chemical Romance — all four of the core membersnote were raised Catholic, and it shows, both in their lyrics and aesthetic choices; see the band's page for a non-exhaustive list of example lyrics. It also shows (if less prominently) in their post-My Chem solo careers.
- Frank Iero:
- note "Stitches":
Those cemetery eyes,
These seven deadly sins,
These forty days of night
Have severed all our ties
- note "Joyriding": I hope I die before they save my soul
- note "Where Do We Belong? Anywhere But Here":
sometimes they find it in Hell
Or a part of Heaven
So is this Hell or are we even?
Well, I've got time, I've got time to burn
- note "World Destroyer": Your love takes on the shape of suffering
- note "Viva Indifference": I wear a cross but I believe in nothing
- note "Young and Doomed": It's a sin that I threw it all away
- note "Stitches":
- Gerard Way:
- "The Bureau": Now, levitator, please connect me to the Holy Ghost
I believe in faith
They'll believe in anything
You make up villains
A trillion legions of the damned
- Ray Toro, "Look At You Now":
A fallen grace, a stain that won't come clean
If only I choose to believe
Please God won't someone save me
Tears that bathe an angel's dirty wings
- Patrick Stump, lead singer of Fall Out Boy. He describes himself as "somewhere between a post-Catholic and a Taoist". Although his mother left the religion, he says "it still has an influence."
- Alan Alda has described his religious background thusly:
"I used to be a Catholic. I left because I object to conversion by concussion. If you don't agree with what they teach, you get clobbered over the head until you do. All that does is change the shape of the head."
- Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys, as explored and deconstructed in his song "It's a Sin." The song even includes a spoken-word excerpt from the Confiteor.
- Bill Maher, although he's long since gotten over it to say the least.
- Chris Farley was raised Catholic and actually remained a practicer for the rest of his life. As Adam Sandler recalled, no matter how drunk Farley got at the Saturday Night Live after-parties, he always managed to attend Sunday Mass the day after.
- Patrick Warburton was raised in a very fundamentalist Catholic family; his mother is a board member of the Parents Television Council, a group of Moral Guardians which frequently boycotts Family Guy, a show her own son appears in. And that's not all; Warburton's father wrote a six-page letter to his son shaming him for doing a sex scene on Seinfeld, claiming that Patrick was violating "the sanctity of sex."
- Conan O'Brien, the American late night host, has made numerous jokes over the years about how being raised in a large Irish Catholic family led to his (as he tells it) intense sexual repression.