Are Protestants a part of the Body?


I've been rolling this idea around in my head for quite some time, and I think it's time to get some outside perspective on it. It is a touchy subject, as it regards the division of Catholics and Protestants. I know we have a mixed crowd here, so I hope that I don't offend anyone; that is certainly not my intent. So here it is:

As Catholics, do we consider Protestants a part of the Body of Christ? Here's my reasoning, and why I'm confused:

The Body of Christ is the Church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Protestants, either by ignorance, choice, birth, or a combination thereof, have seperated themselves from the only Church that has all four of those markers. Yet, Protestants tend to refer to the "Body of Christ" or the "Church" as a mystical entity that transcends beyond denomination lines, and they consider themselves a part of that.

I understand where they are coming from, and agree to an extent, because the Church is more than the buildings, people, priests, worship rituals, etc. At the same time, Protestants have rejected the Church. I understand that ignorance is a big part of the problem and therefore, even though they are at once rejecting the Church and considering themselves a part of it, they don't understand what they're doing.

How do we respond to that? When I hear a Protestant referring to himself as a part of the Body, it makes me sad, and calls to my mind an image of Christ on the cross: beaten, broken, bloody, and suffering. Is that the truth of it? All who consider themselves Christian are a part of the Body, but because of our human blindness and hubris we have again crucified our Lord?

I welcome any thoughts or insights you might have, as well as any theological or apologetic references that speak to this subject.


All baptized individuals are part of the Body of Christ and incorporated into the Church. That is what baptism does.

I suggest you read all of Article 9 in the Catechism regarding the Church.

Here is one paragraph relevant to your question:

CCC 838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist."324


Yet, how can a branch live that pruned itself off from the vine?


the ccc quote above shows that they didnt COMPLETELY cut themselves off, they didnt throw everything away. I pray they find the profound value in christ’s church.


As blessed pope John Paul II said " anyone baptized in the. Name of Jesus is catholic"
Yes, seperated brethen they are.



Read what St John Cardinal Henry Newman says about Protestantism. He was a convert to Catholicism.

For example: “Faith, being an act of the intellect, opens a way for inquiry, comparison and inference, that is, for science in religion, in subservience to itself; this is the principle of theology.” and… “As to Protestantism it is plain in how many ways it has reversed the principles of Catholic theology.” (can be found by typing in these words into Google).

Also, our Pope Benedict has many things to say about ecumenism, for instance: “In other words, with the canonization of Cardinal Newman- the one who attempted to live as a “catholic” while within an Anglican community separated from the Catholic Church, until he repented- the Church gains a reference point against a few of the utterly confusing statements of our day. You have probably heard them. In 2001, Cardinal Walter Kasper, Prefect of Vatican Council for Promoting Christian Unity, stated that“… today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being Catholics.” (Adista, Feb. 26, 2001) In 2005, Pope Benedict made a statement which has been drastically misconstrued when he stated that “and we now ask: What does it mean to restore the unity of all Christians?.. This unity, we are convinced, indeed subsists in the Catholic Church, without the possibility of ever being lost (Unitatis Redintegratio, nn. 2, 4, etc.); the Church in fact has not totally disappeared from the world. On the other hand, this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not!”(Benedict XVI, Address to Protestants at World Youth Day, August 19, 2005: L’Osservatore Romano, August 24, 2005, p. 8.)

Protestants kept baptism, but got rid of the other sacraments. Therefore, when the Protestant returns to the Mother Church - the Catholic Church - he/she does not have to be baptised. However, they do have to attend RCIA and learn the teachings of the Catholic Church for full communion.


Thank you all for your thoughts and references on this subject. The Holy Spirit has led me to a deeper understanding of this question and His answer. I welcome your thoughts on my blog post.


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