I know that the proper way to address Protestants is as “departed brethren.” However, although I recognize that Protestants share with Catholics many beliefs, I cannot help but recognize that Protestants are very hostile to Catholic beliefs.
In the first few centuries the Church showed little respect towards those who were not Christians who followed the apostolic faith. St. Polycarp, when asked by the heretic Marcion whether or not he recognized him, responded: “Of course I recognize the offspring of Satan.” A famous story tells of Peter fleeing a bathhouse when he finds out that the heretic Cerinthus is inside. In fleeing, Peter is recorded to have said, “Let us flee lest the roof fall in…for within is Cerinthus, enemy of the truth.”
The fact that Protestants are slightly different than the Gnostics may be the reason that we should call them “departed brethren” instead of “enemies of the truth,” as the early Christians called the dissenters in the early Church. Ok, my big question is somewhat connected with all this: If Protestants are simply our “departed brethren,” how should we view Protestant theology? When I say Protestant theology, I mean mostly the ideas that are not shared by the Catholic Church in any way: sola scriptura, sola fide, invisible church, only symbolic (as opposed to sacraficial) Eucharist, premillenialism, dispensationalism, etc.