My Anti-Catholic Friend


My friend basically attacked me the other day on a car ride and went on a rant about how the Catholic Church “killed people to build the Vatican” and how it’s done terrible things all throughout history…of course in the heat of the accusations he wouldn’t name specific Popes or instances but he thought he was hot stuff. My reaction to the statements are irrelevant, but what I can’t understand is what he possibly meant by this? What events is he talking about? I know hundreds of Catholics and I’m pretty sure if I asked every single one about the Catholic Church killing people they wouldn’t know what I was talking about…


This is probably one of those instances in which Fr Serpa would say your friend should be required to provide names and dates. You can’t be expected to argue against vague accusations.

A lot of people think of the Crusades, or the Inquisition, when they think of Catholics killing people. Those topics have been discussed on the forums and you should be able to find great discussions if you search. The bottom line is that the church is made of imperfect people who have not always acted correctly; and there are a lot of exaggerations and misinterpretations of historical events.
Suggest to your friend that he mention one concrete instance and you can discuss it, and research it if you need to.
Good luck.


just a thought, if not for the crusades europe would be under the hand of islam. following that reasoning the united state today would probably be facing towads mecca in prayer.

catholics will always have enemies. we make for an easy target. fortunately, we learn from our mistakes and do justice. some refer to this as the work of the Holy Spirit. he who sits on peter’s seat testified to this fact on his recent visit to the states.


Insist on specifics. :thumbsup:

Sounds like your friend is ripe for some re-education.


I wonder how he’d react if you said “yeah, well you’ve killed people to buy those shoes”. The conversation that would follow should be easy enough to guess. As soon as he denied it you’d be on track to force him to substantiate or shut up.

You could also ask him what about Catholic teaching is so threatening to his worldview or lifestyle? Because that’s what this is really about, don’t you know.


First off, many injustices HAVE been done by catholics in the name of the Church. Many more injustices have been done by non-catholics in the name of God. In most wars, both sides claim that God is on their side. The fact that there have been sinners in the church, even in positions of great authority, does not negate the Church herself and Her teachings, anymore than a television evangelist getting greedy, or caught with his pants down negates the validity of the Bible.

The thing to realize is that European History is long, and extremely complicated. Your friend either doen’t realize this, or chooses to ignore it. I’d bet on the former. Too often we try to fit today’s moral structure onto events and cultures of the distant past. This does not work. Religious, governmental, social, cultural, tribal/national concepts all changed dramaticaaly between the Roman Empire and the world of today.

If this is a good friend, who you basically respect, and who basically respects you, you will need to take your time and help him work through these things.

My reaction to the statements are irrelevant, but what I can’t understand is what he possibly meant by this? What events is he talking about? I know hundreds of Catholics and I’m pretty sure if I asked every single one about the Catholic Church killing people they wouldn’t know what I was talking about…

Many protestants would say the same thing about catholics not knowing. Which is why some catholics are drawn away from the Church.

As to specific events, I agree with the others who say GET Specifics. Find out where he is getting his information. Much of it may be connected with the protestant reformation, which was as much a political upheaval as it was a religious upheaval, though often cloaked in “religion”.

Personally I would take this as a challenge and an opportunity to educate and evangelize. Approach him with something like, “I know it got heated the other day, but I’d like to pursue the issues you brought up.” Then pick out something specific that you recall him saying, and ask him for his sources. It would be good if you can have already done some research and have sources to share with him.

If you want to post any of the points your friend tried to make, we might be able to help out with sources.
I know that you mention deaths connected with the building of the Vatican, but are rather vague. If you are refering to persons killed during the construction, it was certainly not unusual for deaths to occur on these kinds of construction projects. There was no OSHA in those days.

Above all, Pray for this individual and treat him with christian charity.



I know how to approach him. He likes to feel like he knows much more than you do and you are an ignoramus that he needs to instruct in the ways of the modern truth (which he seems to think he holds infallibly…maybe the source of his discord with the idea that the Pope has infallibility and that the Church is protected in All Truth of The Advocate :shrug: :thumbsup: ). I’ll just have to start it with “I’ve been thinking about what you said in the car the other day about Catholicism killing people and I really want to know what you were referring to. I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. Could you tell me what you meant?” That way he feels like he has some sort of moral high ground.

I hope that’s not too vindictive? I just want to have the Spirit work through me in the best way possible.
The funny thing about this whole situation is that this summer he was actually genuinely interested in Catholicism and what we believe and the Church, but now after our freshman year of college (and taking a class with an anti-Catholic, 20 something, pink haired, tattooed, feminist professor who he looks up to) he seems to be more anti-Catholic than I’ve ever known him to be (even when he was a practicing Lutheran!).


These are exactly the questions he must answer. He is making the accusation, so he must support it with facts and documentation. If he cannot, he is bearing false witness against his neighbor. If is likely he is just passing on lies that were given to him, and he may not know any better, but one is responsible to refrain from spreading misinformation.

This is a very good point. Since joining CAF, I have learned that most objections to the Church originate and are contained in an area below the belly button, and above the knees. :wink:


I’ve noticed most people who start shouting about their anti-Christian views are so emotional they don’t know they’re emotional. They do anything, however ridiculous or exhausting, to avoid hearing an answer, then claim you “couldn’t” answer them. If you ignore them they conclude you’re “afraid” of them and what they supposedly have to say that they think will shake your faith. I’m still working on how long to ignore them before reapproaching them when they’re off-guard and how to do so.


This is a very good approach. As John Martignoni laid out, one of the best apologetics tactics is to turn the tables. Ask questions and make sure he can validate whatever he’s trying to pass off as fact. Make him support whatever he says with solid facts and figures, and don’t ever let him get away with “it’s all there, look for it yourself”.

Of course it also pays for you to know the actual facts and figures yourself before you start asking him questions so that you’ll know where his statements contradict themselves. Point those out to him and ask him more questions. Before long you’ll have him wondering if he’s really got the truth, or if he’s just blowing smoke. Then you can tell him “why should I believe you, if you’ve got so many things wrong? I guess you’re not infallible after all”.


I think you’ve got it nailed - approach wise. Play your cards right, keep cool, and let him convict himself.



Simply tell him to prove it or drop it.

The Catholic Church never killed anyone. Sure, there have been people- including clergymen- who fought in wars and what not in the name of the Church- but that doesn’t mean the Church actually sanctioned what they did.


He misunderstood history:
See the topics on this link under the headings:



Ha. That’s the problem with not being well-read. You come across one book, article or godly professor and falsely believe you’ve stumbled over the answer to life.

I suppose I don’t have to tell you that arguing with someone who has such unbalanced ideas is fruitless and a waste of time.

This reminds me of a my darling coworker. She is a psych major and sure she is super, uber educated. She said this, I am sooo not kidding:

“I totally respect the muslims. Even though they conquered and killed people, they didn’t shove their religion down anyone’s throat.”

She then went on to talk about how all Catholics should be killed.


Some people missed out on knowledge.


:eek: :eek: Most Muslims I know would actually deny that! There’s a philosophy in Islamic theology called “Dar al-Islam wa Dar al-Harb” or “Abode of Submission and Abode of War”…you can guess which one we belong to! And I’m sure you can also guess how one joins the Abode of Submission once their land has been savagely conquered: oh, yes, conversion to Islam. :shrug:

That’s a different topic though.

I emailed my friend and this is what I said and the reply:

Me: “Okay so about that stuff you said in the car to me about my religion, I don’t even know what you meant by that…I really honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. People died to build the Vatican? What did you mean by all that stuff? I’m not trying to be smart, I’m honestly curious to know what happened and what you’re referring to…”

Him: “Ummm…you will have to be more specific about what i said to you because i have no clue what you are talking about”

…:dts: Playing me for a fool? What are the chances he actually doesn’t remember what he said? I was amply specific in my introduction of the circumstance. I have a hard time believing he doesn’t remember a situation that got as awkward as that did. What’s the next step?


I would sit down and compose as accurate a reconstruction of the coversation as possible including everything you remember like:
The date:
Who was in the car?
Where you were going?
How the subject came up?

Then lay out every specific statement/accusation you can remember that your friend made and any responses you had to the accusations.

Of course you may want to edit / paraphrase certain things to keep any anger emotion out of it. But then ask your friend how he can honestly and truthfully say that he doesn’t remember any of this.

Just as an aside, is it possible your friend was not sober at the time? Forgive me for asking but this could be a reason for his abhorant behavior and amnesia for the event.



Here’s how the online conversation developed last night:
(Oh and even though we’re both 18 and people might suspect it, there’s not a big chance at all that he was drunk, we just don’t do that haha)

Thomas (Me):
Okay so about that stuff you said in the car to me about my religion on the way to U23D, I don’t even know what you meant by that…I really honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. People died to build the Vatican? What did you mean by all that stuff? I’m not trying to be smart, I’m honestly curious to know what happened and what you’re referring to…

Ummm…you will have to be more specific about what i said to you because i have no clue what you are talking about

Okay so you said how people died to build the Vatican. What does that mean?

I need context cause I dont even remember the conversation, or did i just randomly blurt out “ppl died making the vatican” during some sort of ackward silence?

we were talking about Judaism or something and then the different sects of Islam and then I think it went into like how Judaism is better than Catholicism or something and then that was one of your reasons? I think? I’m trying really hard to remember too lll.

Honestly if it actually matters, A. I would probably remember the info
B.You would have brought it up sooner than almost a month after the conversation… C. My guess is I was joking or close to

…okay? thanks.

I’m not sure what i ment when I said it lll. I think i might have been talking about ppl dying to make the arcitecture of the church or maybe it was about the problems with western christianity and eastern christianity when the separated, and how that lead to death. I dont know

I don’t think the Great Schism was THAT bloody…

And why did people have to die to make the church? Maybe that’s what you meant.

No, it wasn’t, but then it later lead to conflict during the crusades(I dont remember what i was thinking at the time to formulate the sentence so i dont know the span of time i was refrencing). Those were possible guesses.

Alas, I am working at the library, where they do not let me Skype or facebook chat :frowning: **<- This isn’t true because we’ve always done it before…:rolleyes: **

I really wish i remembered what i was talking about. :’( I asked tate (that’s his twin who sat and watched him yell at me) if he remembered too but he doesnt. (of course he doesn’t…:rolleyes: :whistle: )


Well it sounds as if:

  1. He might not be so anti-catholic as you first suspected, or
  2. He is the kind who will retreat from any opposition, or
  3. He knows what he said was stupid and doesn’t want to rehash it, or
  4. You dreamed the whole thing:rolleyes:

In any event he should realize now that what he said had a negative effect on you and hopefully he will be more circumspect in the future.

As for you my friend, I would suggest doing some reading on the church in history. Try to get a good church history overview and then work out from there. That way, the next time something like this comes up (and it will somewhere with someone) you won’t be caught off guard.

Also look around on here and see what you can find. - lot’s of good stuff here.



Pretending that there were not “bad christians” in history is silly.

for example, give this book a read to understand what your friend has most likely been indirectly exposed to,


Chapter I – History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions Under Nero

Chapter II – The Ten Primitive Persecutions

Chapter III – Persecutions of the Christians in Persia

Chapter IV – Papal Persecutions

Chapter V – An Account of the Inquisition

Chapter VI – An Account of the Persecutions in Italy, Under the Papacy

Chapter VII – An Account of the Life and Persecutions of John Wickliffe

Chapter VIII – An Account of the Persecutions in Bohemia Under the Papacy

Chapter IX – An Account of the Life and Persecutions of Martin Luther

Chapter X – General Persecutions in Germany

Chapter XI – An Account of the Persecutions in the Netherlands

Chapter XII – The Life and Story of the True Servant and Martyr of God, William Tyndale

Chapter XIII – An Account of the Life of John Calvin

Chapter XIV – Prior to the Reign of Queen Mary I

Chapter XV – An Account of the Persecutions in Scotland During the Reign of King Henry VIII

Chapter XVI – Persecutions in England During the Reign of Queen Mary

Chapter XVII – Rise and Progress of the Protestant Religion in Ireland; with an Account of the Barbarous Massacre of 1641

Chapter XVIII – The Rise, Progress, Persecutions, and Sufferings of the Quakers

Chapter XIX – An Account of the Life and Persecutions of John Bunyan

Chapter XX – An Account of the Life of John Wesley

Chapter XXI – Persecutions of the French Protestants in the South of France, During the Years 1814 and 1820

Chapter XXII – The Beginnings of American Foreign Missions

Introduction to Gerald S. Sloyan’s article on Christian Persecution of Jews Over the Centuries

“Columbus and his men were concerned with looting, plundering, raping, and murdering – not with evangelization and mission work. Their atrocities were thoroughly documented by Catholic priest, Bartoleme De La Casa” — try reading what he wrote sometime,

**Now on the other side, **

Tarrago, Rafael E. (Rafael Emilio), 1951-
Bloody Bess: The Persecution of Catholics in Elizabethan England
Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture - Volume 7, Number 1, Winter 2004, pp. 117-133

On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543
Martin Luther (1483 - 1546)

It is best in my opinion to admit that there were “bad christians” on both sides of the fence, and that we are NOT to follow their example, but we are to follow the example of Christ. :thumbsup:


I wonder if any of these rabid anti-Catholics realize that by persecuting the Church, all they do is fulfill prophecy and actually help IDENTIFY the Catholic Church as the true Church? :rolleyes:

Then again, the chief priests and Pharisees didn’t realize they were fulfilling prophecy either…

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