How does the Roman Catholic Church View Baptized Protestants? Heretics? or Separated Brethren?


I’ll agree here, but in the “Non-Catholic Religions” section of a Catholic forum, did you not expect a little apologetics?
Come now…

In my years attending mass, I’ve not heard an explicitly anti-protestant comment once. Now as a prot for decades, I heard anti-catholic jabs in-church absolutely all the time.

It’s arguably part of the evangelical identity, being “not-catholic”. You certainly see proof of it when any particular sect tries to trace their roots back to the 1st century church without using the papists! The explanation get very fanciful and devoid of real history.


Really, the priest at my wife’s parish takes subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) digs at protestants in both his homily and letters in the bullpen. The priest before would call out non-Catholics in front of groups when we didn’t pray the same (like before a meal).

The two parishes here are pretty anti-NC from my n=1 experience.


Yes, the phrase “separated brethren” appears multiple times in the Vatican II documents. It also appears in later papal encyclicals and documents. In my reading, Vatican II acknowledges rather than denies that there can be “salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church”. I see that one of the purposes of Vatican II and later RCC conferences was to find ways to build bridges with other faith communities and non-faith communities. Pope John Paul II established the “new evangelization” as a theme for the Third Millennium that began with the “Jubilee Year” of 2000.

Yes, Trinitarian baptism outside the RCC is generally accepted as valid and recipients are not re-baptized if they later enter the RCC.

It is nice that you acknowledge that wars were one of the fruits of the Protestant Reformation and want to avoid a repetition. :slight_smile:

Also, IMHO, the quality of the Biblical analysis in the Vatican II documents and papal documents is often quite excellent. So, the RCC does not discourage Bible study but rather encourages it and demonstrates excellence in the practice.


You’ve mentioned this before, right? It’s a bit of an anomaly. I’ve worshipped in dozens of Catholic churches and cannot remember Protestantism ever even being mentioned in a homily or in a communication from the priest, unless you count the notice in some bulletins and Mass programs asking non-Catholics to please not come to Communion.


Is it really Catholic belief that anyone can baptize just because it is the Holy Spirit and not the priest himself? This is news to me. I knew that only a priest can perform baptism and in certain exceptional cases a deacon or a monk who is not priest.


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church…


1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon. In case of necessity, anyone, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize, by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation. (1239–1240; 1752)

A case of necessity when anyone, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize using the Trinitarian baptismal formula would be an ill newborn baby in danger of death.


Yup, you beat me to it. As a child I learned that in an emergency when somebody was in danger of death and you weren’t sure they had been baptized, you as a Catholic were supposed to step in and do it. I remember reading some instruction that said, “In an emergency, baptize anything that looks like human tissue.” I read all this very carefully just on the off chance I might have to rush in and baptize somebody. As an adult, I think this was mostly directed to situations like miscarriages.


What he said :point_up_2:


My family and neighbors all know that I am not God and do not know all things. :slight_smile: I cannot tell you what the RCC may have said about those specifics. Biblically, I think of these phrases from 2 Timothy 2:19…

“The Lord knows those who are his”; and, “Let everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord avoid evil."

Personally, I think that we may obtain assurance of our own state (but can lose it through unforgiven mortal sin) but cannot know with certainty the eternal destiny of someone else. When a saint is canonized, the Church does seem to take a position on someone’s eternal destiny.

From the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), there are these relevant sections:

“Outside the Church there is no salvation”

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: (161; 1257)

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.

848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.” (1260)


In the eyes of the Catholic Church, any Baptism that uses water and the invocation of the Holy Trinity, as in “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” is a valid sacrament. So if a follower of a Christian church that performs Baptism to these standards wants to become Catholic, he doesn’t have to be re-baptized.



Thanks! I didn’t know this. How can the Church check on the intention of someone who doubts the Catholic Church like a protestant minister? Or maybe I don’t understand “intention”. I see intention as being a mind condition, a mental predisposition. A priest is dedicated to a certain intention while someone who just knows the procedure may have something else in their mind. …


Not sure of the logistics of how the Priest checks up on the Baptism of an RCIA candidate. However, I have heard if there is a doubt that the Baptism might not have been valid the Priest will perform what is call a conditional Baptism. Which is something along the lines of actually stating at the time of Baptism “If your Baptism was not valid”

Here’s some links Section VII talks about conditional Baptism

Hope these help

God Bless


From what I have read, the “intention” basically just means the intention to administer Christian baptism. Therefore, if the minister baptizing is from some established Protestant Christian church that uses the Trinitarian formula, his intention can be assumed from the common knowledge of the beliefs of his church.

If some person who isn’t a Protestant minister did the baptism, then the baptized person X might have a harder time showing the Catholic priest the proof of baptism (as there may be no baptismal certificate). If there was proof of baptism other than a certificate, let’s say the person who did it came in and personally testified to the Catholic priest that she baptized X when he was a baby in danger of death, then the person might also have to give some testimony about their own religious background and why they baptized etc in order to establish the intent. If person X was converting to Catholicism and there was any doubt about the validity of X’s prior baptism, the priest would probably just baptize person X again, to make sure.

Typically, when a person from a Protestant church wants to convert to Catholicism or marry a Catholic person in a Catholic church, the priest would just ask the person to provide a baptismal certificate and if it came from one of the Protestant churches that practices Trinitarian baptism, then that would be the end of the inquiry. My husband had to provide this as he is Protestant and we were married in my Catholic church.


I’ll give you that. This forum can get a little rough at times.


That’s what I hear, but I can only go off my experience. I’ve been in dozens of churches and this Catholic church is the only one that has ever mentioned another denomination or religion.

At the Mass when my youngest was baptized the homily was about how “lucky” you are to be Catholic vs us flawed protestants. My family is very religous and active in their churches. My parents will still go with us, but my sister and brother-in-law haven’t been back.

A month or so ago there was a reminder to the members of the parish, in letter form, from the priest that other denominations are not your equal and members of those denominations are flawed. At that point I told my wife “if you want to go to Mass, I’ll go with you…but besides that…whatever.” I’ve pretty much checked out of any of the family faith formation stuff too. If that’s how the church feels of me…whatever. My wife is debating on switching to a different parish that may be more welcoming to NC’s. This is also the same parish that wouldn’t perform our wedding because I’m not Catholic.

I’ve shared many of my experiences on here long ago, so I don’t want to muck up the board too much. If you’re interested I can share others via DM.


It is obvious that we have had different experiences. I do not doubt that some non-Catholics may very well be like you describe but it was not so in my church and my churches doctrines are about as non-Catholic as it gets. :frowning:

Your last paragraph interests me greatly. It is true that my churches interpretation of what the early church was and what it was really meant to be is devoid of its own history because it was not allowed to exist in the open.


The only thing I can think when you share these stories is that perhaps this is an area that has had a lot of Catholic-bashing going on in the past historically, so the priests unfortunately fell into the trap of responding in kind.


No, I highly doubt “Catholic Bashing” is a thing in this area.

This parish almost died off once due to the actions of a priest about 10 years ago (like I said…he wouldn’t do our weddings, baptisms to babies of single/unmarried parents, etc)…

The leadership that is now in place at this church thought that guy was “the bees knees” and it seems that they’re starting to go down that road again. I think they’re going to lose a lot of people at the end of the school year due to actions like what I’ve laid out above, along with the changes they made in the RE program and the outrageous cost.


But you stated that my statement about Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons is in disagreement with the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Can you point out where the Catechism speaks to non-Trinitarian sects? Thanks!


To be sure, that may be the case. I’m American from the southeastern parts of the US (what some may call “The Bible Belt”) and I was a very active Baptist at both the local and conventional levels from pretty much birth until my 30s. The myths we taught ourselves about the exaggerated and subsequently generalized horrors of a few of the clerics of the CC, the over-idealized “pure virtue” of the Reformers (of which we were SURELY the correct descendants) and the “overwhelmingly one-sided Catholic brutality” of the ensuing religious wars led to a very well established anti-Catholic bent that was commonly and happily referenced. I can’t tell you how many times we told each other the stories of Catholics drowning Baptists because “we” wanted to be baptized again…

And that paradigm was and is just total, complete bologna.

I think the best historical treatment of that time that I’ve read was MacCulloch’s “The Reformation”. Everyone involved had mud and blood on them and roughly in equal measure by the time the dust settled. And probably the greatest reason the Reformation succeeded wasn’t because anyone’s theology was better or more true. It was because some German and French princes were tired of being lorded over by Rome. Luther, like Muhammad, just provided the currency used to cheaply buy men willing to fight for the cause - religious fervor. When a man fights for God, he requires very little (if any) actual pay.

-Went off on a tangent there, didn’t I?

That’s the darn thing about history though; it still happens and we find record of it. There was a very concerted effort by Catholics to remove evidence of Gothic Arian Christianity and we still find so much evidence of it. Xerxes told Leonidas that he’d be erased from the histories after his defeat. Well, here we are talking about him! Same goes for every defaced statue in Egypt. They were ruined specifically to remove the depicted pharaoh from history. Yet modern historians still identify oceans of them…

As much as we’d like, you can’t erase history. One little text or archeological site or mural is all it takes for it to persist. Your church’s claim (and my old church’s claim) that the secret history of “The True Faith” was obscured for over 1000 years and we can’t find evidence for it because the evil Catholics did a much, MUCH better job covering “us” up than they did the Arians and other heretics is purely fantastical. It has no rational root.

What’s most likely is that “The True Faith” is probably the Catholic Church.

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