It seemed these things were popping up in multiple discussions as people like @Suzanne chased me about, so rather than continue the multiple hijacks, maybe putting them here will be more entertaining for everybody. All I ask is that people be kind, and perhaps answer questions in turn. These questions come from http://www.thinkatheist.com/forum/topics/mad-at-the-outcome-thought...
1. Why did you choose catholicism over all other religions?
Because it made the most sense to me on several levels. I of course can't rule out cultural bias, since obviously I'm a westerner and Roman Christianity is culturally pervasive. For me it was a conscious choice at some point, though I am not a convert. Interestingly, if I were not Catholic I'd be more inclined to Judaism than the Protestant faiths. Perhaps the shared intellectual depth of Judaism and Catholicism is a contributing factor.
2. Do you follow the decrees made by the Vatican?
The Vatican does not make "decrees". The Holy See serves as the administrative center of the worldwide Catholic community, and we do have some administrative rules like any community (our technical term for these is "merely ecclesiastical laws"). For the rest, all we do is teach.
3. Do you agree or disagree with contraception being available to those who would choose to use contraception, if they had access?
I'm not sure why I should care. Now sometimes when people say "being available" they mean that I should pay for it. I think that's a different sort of question that belongs more in the realm of public policy.
4. How do you choose which parts of the bible to follow, and not follow.
We don't "follow" the Bible, we read it and refer to it, the way anyone does with a favorite book or reference text. We try to "follow" God, perhaps, or the example of Jesus or other holy men or women, but not the Bible. In teaching things or exploring religious ideas, we refer to a wide range of writings and experiences, including long oral tradition, writings of various scholars, journal articles, encyclicals, consensus documents, conciliar writings, etc., much like any intellectual community.
5. Is purgatory in or out, these days.
It's a theory that had moderate but not universal acceptance some centuries ago. It's still referred to, but not anywhere near as widely as in its heyday. So it never quite rose to the level of Newtonian Mechanics in physics in terms of acceptance as a theory, and it's perhaps fading faster, but like Newtonian Mechanics it's still referred to in some contexts.