I’ve heard prtestant apologists say that catholics follow “sola ecclesia” meaning the church alone, the way that protestants follow bible alone.
But in reality, isn’t it more like “prima ecclesia” meaning that the church and the magisterium are the primary rule of faith for catholics? I’ve heard it said on other catholic apologetic websites that "The magesterium is the “proximate rule of faith”, and scripture and tradition are “remote rules of faith.” Can anyone else comment on this?
Catholics are not sola or prima anything that is earthly. In reality we are: Sola Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti
it just so happens that the manifestation of that reality happens to include the fact that the church is God’s representation on earth… and that the Holy Spirit acts through the church, which is the bride of Christ and the temple of the Lord. So to the outward observer it might appear we listen to the words of men who sit in rome, but to the true catholics, we know that the fundamental teachings of the church are directed by the will of God.
In reality, there is only one “Sola” and that’s Christ.
The Church, the Scriptures, and Tradition have no authority apart from Him.
Now, the Church, Tradition and the Scriptures are all different sorts of things with different types of authority. The Scriptures and Tradition form the deposit of faith. This is the Word of God both written and taught, a great gospel meant to be handed down and taught to all men. The Church is Christ’s bride, and is the deposit of grace. Peter and the Apostles were chosen by Christ to protect and hand down these deposits to all men. Acting together with Peter at the head, they are the shepherd and stewards of these great deposits, and they “know their sheep” and can discern what is and what is not part of this deposit. (perhaps this last point is a bit of a Scriptural stretch)