Wikipedia Errors on Catholicism
A critique of Wikipedia articles on the Catholic Faith
by Ronald L. Conte Jr.

[Wikipedia Errors:   Papal Infallibility | Immaculate Conception | Original Sin | Venial Sin | Mortal Sin | Sanctifying Grace | Roman Catholic Dogma]

There are many good articles in Wikipedia on many different topics. But a number of the articles on Catholicism contain numerous theologically-inaccurate, poorly-worded, biased, and even doctrinally false statements. Some of these errors are so severe as to constitute material heresy.

In the past, I tried to correct many of these errors in these articles. But another person, often an non-Catholic, will subsequently change the article again, either reinstating previous errors, or adding some new error.

There are several systematic problems that result in these errors:

1. Anyone can edit an article on Catholicism, even a non-Catholic Christian or a non-Christian.

In one case, when I was editing an article on the Catholic position on Biblical inerrancy, another person was making contrary edits. This person admitted that he is an avowed atheist, with a website promoting atheism. But he is allowed to make claims about what Catholics believe. Some of the other persons editing the Catholic articles are clearly either Protestants, or persons with some bias against Catholicism, and this shows in their edits.

But worse than these editors are the Catholics who, despite profound ignorance about their own faith, have decided that they are competent to write or edit an article on Catholic doctrine. Many of these editors, Catholic and non-Catholic, write not as if they are explaining the teaching of the Catholic Faith, but as if they are the ones who make decisions on doctrine. Their own speculations and misunderstandings are presented by them, in an encyclopedia article, as if these were doctrines or dogmas of Catholicism.

2. There is no process of review of articles or edits by persons with knowledge about Catholic teaching.

Although there is (or was) a project for a group of persons to review the set of articles on Catholicism, anyone can join that group, the members of that group are generally anonymous, and their edits can be reversed or changed by anyone else. There is no attempt to enlist the assistance of any Bishop, priest, deacon, religious, or Catholic theologian, nor even of knowledgeable and practicing Catholics. All editors are treated as equals, regardless of profound lack of qualifications.

3. Secondary sources are favored over primary sources.

Citations from theologians are given precedence over citations from magisterial documents. Theological assertions are different from magisterial teachings; this distinction is lacking in the articles on Catholicism. This results in the speculative assertions of theologians being presented by editors as if these were doctrine or dogma. And most of the editors are unable to distinguish between a teaching of the Catholic Faith, and a speculative opinion.

4. There is an absence of correct terminology.

Many of the errors in these articles are in the form of theologically-inaccurate statements, obviously made by someone who has not studied theology at all. Correct terminology is often absent; in its place are colloquial or secular terms applied to Catholic doctrine, making inaccuracy and error much more likely. Even when a paragraph is originally written in correct terminology, a subsequent editor, not familiar with that terminology, will think to improve the article by rephrasing it according to his own weak understanding, thus inadvertently introducing errors.

5. Staking out Articles

Sometimes an individual editor, or a few editors, will keep watch over a Catholic article on Wikipedia, and not permit any changes with which they disagree. Wikipedia even has a feature to facilitate this process, so that whenever a particular article is changed, an editor can be automatically notified. Many editors use this feature to prevent any changes without their own agreement, so that they exalt themselves over other well-meaning editors, making themselves the judges over which changes to permit. The result is that well-meaning and well-informed editors are prevented from correcting problems.

6. These errors tend to accumulate.

In theory, the process of allowing anyone to edit an article is supposed to gradually, over time, correct any errors. But many of the articles on Catholicism require a good understanding of theology, which most persons, even most Catholics, do not possess. So the opposite effect occurs. One editor adds an error or two, and the next editor is unable to recognize those errors, but he adds his own errors. Any correct paragraphs are edited again and again, mostly by persons who do not properly understand Catholic teaching, so that, in all likelihood, errors increase, rather than decrease. Over time, a number of these errors become thoroughly established in certain articles, causing many readers to be substantially misinformed about Catholicism.

This page is an on-going project to list many of these errors.
Dates are given for quotes because the text can change from day to day.
Please note that only select errors, not every error, are cited from each article.

A Review of Select Articles:

The contents of this website are copyrighted by Ronald L. Conte Jr. All rights reserved.