are catholics as bad as protestants?


my point is (and i am currently protestant perhaps on my way back to the catholic church) it seems for all the hype about the unity within the catholic church there really isn’t that much. you say that you all worship the same way, but there are countless threads arguing how to worship and who is doing what wrong and so on. you say that you have the same doctrines taught in each parish, but we all know that is not true and that from parish to parish you can hear different things (sounds like jumping from protestant church to protestant church). you say well, we are all under the pope, but there are priests and bishops (who aren’t considered schismatic) who defy the things that the pope says along the lines of the church’s stance in political and social issues (in a sense these priests and bishops are making themselves their own popes). i know many catholics here agree with me and that the best way to change these things is within the church and not to break away and i agree (as did luther but he had a few wacky beliefs and was kicked out too fast to ever have an impact), but it seems that for all the talk against protestants and their “30,000 denominations” the catholic church’s (at least here in america) seem to have the same problems but stay in the church in name only. i would love to get some feedback about this and would love to know some theories as to why rome doesn’t do more to combat the things i mentioned above.


Just because an individual priest or bishop disagrees with the Pope on a matter of dogma, does not mean that the Church is disunified. If a segment of the church “redefined” doctrine, and would not recant and make a proclamation of faith to be loyal to the Church, they would be excommunicated for formal heresy. Unification means that the Church proclaims THIS, and to be a Catholic in good standing, you must believe THIS. If you don’t that makes you a member NOT in good standing. It doesn’t mean that the church is disunified just because some of its members defy the Church dogma.


then tell me why not excommunicate these “renegade” bishops? my point is, just look at these threads. so many catholics (i know there are protestants here too and i am not taking them into account) are arguing with other catholics. one group says their right and the other says they are. on issues that haven’t exactly been defined. all the things done “in the spirit of vatican II”. the catholic church does look disunified. the only way to combat it is to aknowledge it and go from there.


I think there needs to be a distinction between matters of doctrine and morals on the one hand, and matters of discipline and politics on the other hand.

I don’t know of any “renegade” priests or Bishops who are out there teaching heresy. It seems to me that the areas of discussion are always in matters of discipline or politics.

For example, Catholics who are in unity with the Church’s doctrines and moral teaching can agree or disagree on the latest issue of whether the Eucharist should be denied to Catholic politicians who are anti-Life, because this is not a matter of doctrine but of politics.

Similarly, Catholics who are in unity with the Church’s doctrines and moral teaching can agree or disagree with the manner in which the Bishops in the United States have addressed the sex scandal because the manner in which it is being addressed is a political issue and is not doctrinal.

And so too with the issue of priestly celibacy. Celibacy is a discipline imposed by the Church and not a matter of defined doctrine. So Catholics who are in unity with the doctrines and moral precepts of the Church can be for or against the issue of whether or not priests should be allowed to marry.

Perhaps you could provide me with a more concrete example of where it is that the Church is “divided” on issues of doctrine or morality?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori,


Bengal fan-

I think you are describing basic human nature. On an instinctive level we are always looking for differences and a reason that we are somehow superior to another, even within the same group of like-minded people. Two Catholics may support each other while defending Catholicism to Protestants, then fight like crazy once the Protestant is out of the picture.

You and I may both support teams in the AFC North, but you’ll never, ever, ever in a million years convince me that the Bengals are superior to the Steelers.


Bengal fan the reason the Pope won’t excommunicate the bishops is because there is weak leadership on the part of the Pope. Bishops who oppose dogmas should be excommunicated instantly. We laity should be bringing cases before Rome. To tell you the truth its a badtime to be a Catholic. If you want to talk about these problems and questions you have come to my chatroom. its on my website there’s a link if you press my name]. This chtroom session is from 19.00 to 23.00 eastern standard time.If no one is there wait for a half hour and come back later.


To me, the magisterium is the key to unity. While it may be a challenging time to be a Catholic, times have been worse. When Protestants have questioned me about why individual Catholics believe many different things, I explain about the magisterium and how the Church has taught consisant Truth for 2000 years. If Catholics go on their own and teach something that’s opposed to what the Church teaches, I just explain about how there will always be weeds in the wheat.

The pope doesn’t have as much control over the bishops as you may think. They are appointed by God and aren’t necessarily completely subject to the pope.


Historians tell us that it takes about 100 years for the Church to assimilate the teachings of a general council. We’re only 41 years out from Vatican II. We’ve got about 60 years to go before tranquility returns to the Church. There is always an upheavel following a general council. Reading the history of the councils is helpful.

Catechesis has been confused since Vatican II, but it’s getting much, much better. One problem has been the use of lay teachers with less theological/ecclesiastical knowledge. The newer teachers tend to be dynamic and knowledgeable. But the barque of Peter never capsizes. One can *always *know what the Church clearly teaches by reading the documents of the Councils (including Trent and Vatican I and II) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There’s no excuse for a Catholic not to know what the Church teaches. They can either reject it and leave the Church or stay and make trouble, which many are choosing to do. Or, they can accept the voice of Christ (He who hears you hears me, he who rejects you rejects me . . . Lk 10:16)

The Church, the Bride of Christ, speaks with one voice. The Church is accountable for what it teaches, not for what every quirky individual Catholic may believe or do.

Catholic Eagle, for example, is a dissident Catholic. (Won’t you come into my parlor said the spider to the fly?)

By definition, a Catholic believes everything the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church teaches and is a member of the People of God united under the Pope.

In contrast, the man-made Protestant denominations teach thousands of different, conflicting, and competing doctrines.

The Pope, being wiser than we are and led by the Holy
Spirit, chooses to handle problems in ways with which we are impatient. But Papa knows best. The Catholic Church thinks in terms of centuries. (BTW, Pope is the English translation of the Latin papa, meaning ‘father*.’* In Spanish, it’s *papa *also)

The Catholic Church does far more than teach doctrine – are you aware of the Vatican’s diplomatic corps? The Vatican is a sovreign state and quietly brokers peace among the nations of the world. The Pope is a prophetic voice, speaking out on the moral issues of our time.

There is so much to know and love about this 2000-year-old Church!

There is a great National Geographic video, “Inside the Vatican,” that gives viewers a glimpse – and it’s only a brief glimpse --of the glory of the Church.



In answer to your question of whether or not Catholics are as bad as Protestants, I think that when it comes to the level of bickering we can get into the answer seems to be yes. However, this bickering does not indicate a lack of unity of the Church herself.

I think that there may be some confusion in what is meant by Protestants and Catholics when we talk about our “unity.” . The Catholic Church teaches that it’s unity is not based upon all of its members agreeing but on the unchanging faith handed down from Jesus, through the Apostles and their successors to the present day. This unity is especially centered on the the pope as the successor of Peter as the head of the Church. One of the purposes of establishing that office (according to the teaching of the Church) is to avoid all occasion of schism. When proclaiming a teaching on a matter of faith or morals, the Church (generally) and the pope (specifically) cannot err. If the Church makes a declaration under the protection of infallibility and that declaration is different than a conclusion I have reached, then I know that I am wrong and, if I wish to remain Catholic, I need to accept the Church’s teaching.

In 2000 years, not one doctrine or dogma has been changed. There has been a deeper understanding over time which has been expressed in different declarations, but you will not find one instance of the Catholic Church having declared one thing to be true and then later declaring that the same thing is not true. As far as those Catholics, including myself, who bicker about the meaning of a particular teaching or whether or not this or that practice should have been changed, we fall into three categories.

1: Those who know the teachings of the Church and accept them all.

2: Poorly catechised Catholics who might not accept some of the Church’s teachings due to bad instruction but believe that they are acting in good faith and, if they knew and understood the true teaching of the Church, would accept it. (I am considering this separate from the issue of whether their ignorance is invincible.)

3: Those who claim to be Catholic but have, in fact, broken with the Church. These include those who know and understand the true teaching of the Church but reject it. A prime example of this would be the group known as “Catholics for a Free Choice.”

Ulitmately Catholics must accept the teaching of the Church (and ALL of it) because the Unity of Christ and His Church is only obtained in that teaching.

The difference between the bickering of Catholics and Protestantism is that there is no standard by which to establish ONE faith. Because all essentially rely on the Bible Alone, each establishes their own doctrinal conclusions which are often contradictory to the conclusions reached by other Protestants.


I can go to any Mass in the World, in any language and participate fully. I will receive the same Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity anywhere in the World! With Brothers and Sister in Christ who are in Full Communion with each other!

I think that’s pretty special.



These two points hit the nail on the head, in my opinion:

[quote=The Catholic Church teaches that it’s unity is not based upon all of its members agreeing but on the unchanging faith handed down from Jesus, through the Apostles and their successors to the present day.]fully

. I will receive the same Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity anywhere in the World! With Brothers and Sister in Christ who are in Full Communion with each other! I think that’s pretty special."

Also, perhaps BengalFan makes a bit too much of some disagreement that goes on among Catholics. As was said elsewhere, no Catholic is bound to agree with the Pope’s political opinion (his stance on the Iraq war, for example). And some things like the finer points of liturgical theology are just that–theology–they are open-ended and speculative and are subject to interpretation, and are not dogmatic make-or-break matters.


Greetings Church
Greetings Bengal-fan

I converted to the Catholic Church in 1955. What I am about to tell you is the absolute truth.

If I had judged the Catholic Church by the Catholic people I knew, I would still be an extreme anti-Catholic Protestant.
I knew more loony tune Catholics than you can imagine.
In those days, Catholics were poorly educated in their faith and in fact many were more superstitious than spiritual.

Here is an example of an active, prayerful Catholic who was also a mom, teaching religion to a child. She was pre-Vatican II Catholic. This lovely lady was invited to attend a Bible Study 2 or 3 years after the close of Vatican II. She said, “Well, I am very traditional. I only want to study the Old Testament. I am not really interested in anything after Vatican II”. Boy! It is one thing to realize that Catholics were not into scripture but this was one big doozy.

Prior to Vatican II, a nun told my son in school that if he swung a Rosary around his head and then was killed without confessing it, he would go straight to Hell.

A cousin, a young teen forgot and ate meat on Friday and the next day went to Confession and confessed this sin. The Priests response? “Well, I hope you choked on it!”

You see, the Church is a hospital for sinners not a sanctuary for Saints. We are just people. We are bound to act like it.

The thing is, today…this very day and minute is the RIGHT TIME. Should you wait one extra minute to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist? To receive the miracle of absolution?

You will not receive a whit of Grace by pouring over rules but the Grace you receive from the Sacraments is more abundant than the mind can fathom.

Let God worry about the Pope, Bishops, Priests and do the judging of all of us. He never gave us a commandment to judge but he gave us a very clear one to LOVE


[quote=anonymous]Who gives you the authority to declare who is a “Roman Catholic” and who is not?

A note to whoever put this comment in their reputation vote on my comments in post #9 above.

I have not declared anyone to be or not to be a Catholic. If you are referring to the group, Catholics for a Free Choice, it is the bishops who have made that declaration regarding that group. As they alone have the authority to make such a declaration, I am not presuming any authority for myself. If I did not make this clear, then I apologize.

As far as the three categories into which I presumed to divide the faithful, I simply used my own logic and you are free to reject it. These divisions make sense to me because I have met and dealt with those who fall into all three categories. I also make no presumptions that I necessarily belong in the first group I mentioned for I am still learning a great deal about the Catholic faith. This makes it very likely that I am in the second group and, as I learn more of the Catholic faith, I pray that God gives me the grace of humility to accept the Church’s teaching so that I never fall into the third group.

In regard to what I said about the third group, I am simply reiterating Church teaching. Catholics must accept ALL of the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals. To wilfully reject any of these teachings is heresy and constitutes a break in communion with the Church which means that, until you repent, you are no longer a Catholic (although you are still a member of the Church through baptism). This has been the basis of every schism that has occurred in Church history and those who hold to these heresies are not considered Catholics by the Church herself even if they are members through valid baptism. The group, “Catholics for a Free Choice” have demonstrated to the bishops’ satisfaction that they know, understand, and reject the Church’s teaching regarding abortion and many other issues and the bishops have declared that the group is not Catholic.


That is cool. Did you come up w/ this yourself?


Nope, but I sure wish I had. :wink:


I would have to say that Protestants are worse when it comes to ignorance and ecumenical achievements. They (I used to be one of them) assume things about Catholics (i.e. “They worship Mary”). They totally twist Catholic beliefs around (i.e. “they believe people are never completely saved”). And they won’t welcome any inter-faith dialogue, which is a desire of the Vatican.


[quote=GloriaDeo]I would have to say that Protestants are worse when it comes to ignorance and ecumenical achievements. They (I used to be one of them) assume things about Catholics (i.e. “They worship Mary”). They totally twist Catholic beliefs around (i.e. “they believe people are never completely saved”). And they won’t welcome any inter-faith dialogue, which is a desire of the Vatican.

that’s funny, i have found all three true of more catholics than protestants. i have experienced catholics assume things about protestants and twist their beliefs (“everyone is his own pope” etc.) and it is the catholic church’s teaching that you are never once and for all saved until after death and then if you end up in purgatory or heaven you are saved, if not…well…protestants teach once saved always saved (and not all protestants including this one) while the catholic church doesn’t comment on some one’s salvation (other than the saints who are “known” to be in heaven)(i put known in quotes because it is a teaching of the church which protestants don’t ascribe to, not because i was trying to put anyone down or make some point). and it, in my experience, has almost always been the catholic priests who refuse ecumenical dialogue in the communities i have lived and worked (one actually called all the other churches cults and told his parishoner not to have anything to do with anyone who attends a protestant church). my point is, yes protestants do all the things you listed, but so do catholics. i’m having trouble seeing the difference in the believers. i understand the differences in history and doctrinally and if one teaches the truth and the other doesn’t, then i want to be where the truth is. my point with this is that on the outside, catholics don’t look any different than protestants and if you teach the truth, you should.


We are worse in my opinion… we know the whole truth and still don’t get it…or won’t… :thumbsup:


I also see a question of degree of differences. Although there are Catholics who disagree on secondary points (a good example of such disagreement would be whether voting for Kerry would be sinful), there is generally agreement on the basic matters of faith as outlined in the Nicene creed.

We may disagree on whether a certain feature in the Mass is valid or a liturgical abuse. But we all agree that there is a Mass, and it has certain essential elements such as the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

We all agree there are seven sacraments and what they mean. There may be disagreement on whether certain people should be eligible for Holy Orders, but virtually all Catholics agree on what Holy Orders constitutes.

When Catholics talk about the 30,000 or 40,000 or 50,000 different Protestant denominations, the differences among them are much more basic. Questions like infant baptism (yeah or nay?)? Can you lose your salvation? Justification by faith alone? Is the Bible literally word-for-word true or inerrant?

Marcus Grodi says one of the reasons he had to quit being a Protestant minister came down to who defines truth. He was at a hospital bedside and was asked by a family member if their dying relative was going to heaven. He realized that if the question was asked of him as a Presbyterian versus a Baptist versus a Fundamentalist Evangelical, that the answer to that basic question would be different.


If you’re going to make claims about the RCC (2000 year old church) you need to back those claims up with historical evidence.

This is to the anonymous person who left this message on my profile. Thank you for asking.

If you read the history of Christianity from its beginning in the first century to the 21st, you’ll know the history of the Catholic Church. Christian history and Catholic history are synonomous.

Christ founded a church (Mt 16:18) in 33 A.D.

The Church was first called Catholic in writing in 107 A.D., by St. Ignatius of Antioch. He was a student of St. John’s. He wrote his seven letters to the Churches about 10 years after his teacher and mentor – who wrote the fourth Gospel – died. He was being taken under guard to Rome to be thrown to the lions in the Coliseum at the time he wrote these letters.

St. Polycarp was known as the Catholic bishop of Smyrna (one of the Churches to whom Revelations was addressed). The Martyrdom of Polycarp, written c. 155, is addressed to *". . .all the communities of the holy and Catholic Church . . ." *

I don’t have the space here to document Catholic history through the centuries, but there is a recent book that covers it: TRIUMPH, The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church–A 2,000-Year History, by H.W. Crocker III, Forum, Prima Publishing, Roseville, California, 2001. Crocker is a recent convert to Catholicism from the Anglican Church (

I also recommend A History of Christendom, in several volumes, especially Vol. 1, The Founding of Christendom, by Warren H. Carroll, Ph.D. Dr. Carroll is a Columbia University-trained historian, who became a Catholic through his study of history. His work covers Christianity from its beginning through the modern era. Dr. Carroll also is the founder of Christendom College, rated one of the ten best liberal arts colleges in the U.S.

If you’d like more information or have any questions, please write me privately at

Thank you again for your comment.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit