Some thoughts on Protestantism and the RCC


#1

In class today we were reading Kaffir Boy. A book about apartheid S. Africa. My mind wandered, and I began thinking about Civil Rights. After that, religion. And then the reformation. Out of this tangle of thoughts, I suddenly found myself sort of disturbed. I realized, that the vast majority of Catholics at my school had no idea what made them Catholic, as opposed to protestant or other non-Catholic christians. At the same time, consequently, many Christians have no idea whats different about Catholics, and thus, do not investigate our church, assuming its just like theirs. This ultimately led to my conclusion that we are in a time of ‘identity crisis’ when it comes to our Church and religion… The following was a doodle in my notebook, that after the third paragraph, turned into a post for this forum…

Its important to remember that we live in a time and age where everyone is seeking ways to come together. Break boundaries, shatter the old, and see things in a new modern light. Such thinking has yielded excellent results: the Civil Rights movement, Female Suffrage, Religious Tolerance, and Ecumenism.

But as a Roman Catholic, who through independent study has realized the many differences between Catholicism and Christianity, Im starting to fear the dilution of my religion in the name of the latter of those great movements: Ecumenism.

The worthy pursuit of Religious equality, tolerance, and understanding has introduced into the Roman Catholic Church many new beliefs, these new beliefs are very incompatible with the history and doctrine of our religion, and I believe have infiltrated our religion under the guise of Christianity.

Its absolutely true that Roman Catholics are Christians, but as many Christians will profess, they are not Roman Catholics. That is why I personally refer to myself exclusively as a Catholic, and always as a ‘Roman’ Catholic.

Catholic means Universal, but Roman refers solely to Rome, in this case, the Roman Church which has its seat naturally in Rome. While I appreciate the rich meanings of the word Catholic, and the deep theological advantages of being in an Universal Church, I am also exclusively Roman. That is my religion. My religion is a religion governed by the Pope, it is served only by celibate male Priests, it sees itself (the Church) as an Infallible teacher of the faith, and does hold itself to be the only one true church (and faith) on earth. These are views many Catholics try to shy away from. But are only a handful of the many distinct, unique, and beautiful traditions and aspects of Catholicism, aspects that make Catholics…Catholic.

Thats why I’ve decided to start this thread. There are far too many discuscions that preach on the basics of christian belief. The saving work of Jesus Christ, the tenets of love and compassion, the omnipotence and mercy of the Creator. Don’t get me wrong, these are truths very close to my heart. But sometimes, they are all we talk about in our Churches and discuscions, they are the only things some people still know about our religion. And furthermore, but to a lesser extent, many Catholics are constantly trying to make their faith appeal to other Christians. This is necessary when it comes to helping spread our faith, but becomes disturbing when it has a negatice effect on us. I myself have noticed such behavior, I of course, am not perfect.
I can recount several occasions where I hesitated to sign myself after prayer when in a non-Catholic praying enviorment. I knew I would be the only one, and I didnt want to overly announce my Catholicism. But this example is subtle at best, a much more powerful example are the many priests (men of the cloth who represent our religiont ot he general public) who stand up publicaly and say things either completely devoid of Catholic identity (as in, the homilies which sometimes end up sounding more like Evangelical pep talks) or outright heretical; like priests claiming that all religions can lead to salvation (which jumps over my problem with Christian ecumenism going too far, it goes directly past dilution of doctrine into pure heresy).

Even though Catholicism is christian by nature, it is still a separate Religion. Many will flip at that statement. If we look up the word religion, we learn that one of its definitions are “a particular system of faith and worship”. In this sense of the word, our Roman Catholic faith is its own distinct Religion. Not to be confused with Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc. We are very different. And though it is good to bring up our common ground, it is not worth the price of abandoning that which makes us Catholic.

Remember that our Church has endured a revolution. A time when reformers and new thinkers challenged our beliefs. This revolution was both academic and violent, and many have suffered personally on behalf of both sides. In the spirit of forgiveness we should forgive each other for those transgressions, but in respect for the Christ, whom we believe founded our Church, and in respect for the millions upon millions of Catholics before us, who held onto their distinct beliefs sometimes at the price of their own lives, let us remember.

We are not Protestant, we were the ‘Protested’. And our beliefs have not changed. What was unique to us then, still is now. And what we fought for then, is still worth defending. I hope to discuss with some of you here, my thoughts and yours.


#2
  1. Im curious to know, how far do you think as a Catholic can ecumenism safely go?

  2. Do you think that the current Mass displays to our non-Catholic brethren, and maybe more importantly to the majority of our children (most being theologically uneducated) the importance and sancitity of the Eucharist? Many children granted know of the Real Presence, but thats what theyve been taught. Do you believe the current Mass (I prefer that term rather than ‘new’) accurately shows Catholic Identity in itself? Is it too ‘Ecumenically friendly’?

NOTE: I don’t want to start a Tradcatholic vs. mainstream Catholic fight here. Its just that, I think we can all agree, that the Old Mass definitely displays Eucharistic thought. While I personally agree that the New Mass does as well, its still up for debate with many. So I want to discuss the new order of the Mass.

  1. Do you think that the Catholic understanding of the Pope is accurately taught by our local Churches? Do you think that non-Catholics (again, not theologians) can observe our practices and come to the understanding of the Pope’s spiritual significance? I myself am in High School, and my history teacher (someone I’d imagine and hope to have studied the Reformation at least…) believes that the Pope is the ‘president of the Catholic Church.’ Are we accurately outlining the Pope’s infallibility and authority over the Catholic Church? His unique position as not just the shepherd of the Church, but the Vicar of God himself?

  2. In perhaps more theologically minded circles, is it clear that we as Catholics still believe in and value Indulgences? And back at the home parish, is it clear that indulgences are still a spiritually healthy practice?

  3. Is the understanding of celibacy and a male priesthood clearly represented? Is the eagerness of many Catholics to embrace Christians in other churches distorting the doctrinal and constant belief of our Church in this matter?

  4. Is the exclusivity of our Church clearly expressed? Are we so eager to point out the good in other Churches and religions that it hinders us from our duty to Christ? That being, to spread the saving faith?

  5. Are we aware that we are NOT a religion of many churches, but One Church and One Religion (of which many ‘churches’ have fallen off or separated from). Do we understand the huge difference between those two, seemingly similar, viewpoints?

  6. Is our belief in the Virgin Mary and the Saints as not merely role models, but spiritual intercessors and powerful allies in this life, clear? Is it clear that they are not simply remembered, as one might remember a historical figure, but are venerated in the form of prayer and devotion? Is it clear that we do not see such veneration as idolatrous, but encourage it?

  7. Is it clear that the Eucharist is the real body and blood of Christ? Is it being suppressed today because of the tedious amount of debate it takes to defend it?

  8. Is it clear that we hold only our priests and bishops to be ordained ministers of Christ? For example: many Catholics render some sort of religious authority to high ranking ministers of other Churches. Do we remember that this respect is due to their academic achievements, and not by any supernatural source? e.g though our priests are often very well educated men, what makes them ordained ministers (the breath behind their work, so to speak) is the Holy Spirit. A supernatural and divine force rendered only by our Catholic Sacrament?

  9. Is it clear that we firmly believe that our doctrines do not have to be contained within scripture? (Of course, as Catholics, we know that they are supported by scripture) But doesnt it seem that our search for scriptural support sometimes mutates into us falling into the trap of Sola Scriptura. That for something to be accepted, it MUST be found in the bible. (the only belief that comes to mind is the coronation of Mary, an event not found in the scriptures, our other beliefs are just so very well documented. :smiley: )

  10. Finally, is it clear that we are Catholics. And that the majority of christian churches are Protestant? Do we remember the Reformation, and that when it comes to the unique identities of our seperate churches, we are very distinct and different?

I fear the retribution from certain members of this forum, and so I remind you all that I chose to not bring up the accepted truths we share, since albeit very important, they are not relevant.

Without a doubt, belief in a Trinitarian God, the belief in salvation through Jesus Christ, our faith in the principles of Christianity and the common truths found in the bible and the creeds are the bulk, center, and heart of our church(es). But this thread is about Catholic identity and uniqueness.

I eagerly await your opinions for discussion.


#3

Dear catholickid,

God Bless you for your wondrous fervency. The questions you are asking demonstrate an extaordinary level of intelligence and wisdom. For all I know, you could be a Cardinal or Pope someday, if your calling is to serve as a priest.

I only have time to give a short response: the theological depth and even essentials that should be – and are urgently needed to be-- proclaimed in the Catechesis of youth, RCIA, and pulpit sermons is in terribly sorry disarray in the Western Catholic Church, especially the United States.

Modernism and Liberalism have terribly stained and infiltrated the content of what is taught in [presumed] Catholic seminaries, Catechesis of youth is particularly watered down, and sermons from the pulpit, clearly far more are watered down than the ones that possess substance.

This is the primary thing you need to be aware of.

Before i end, please note that schismatics usually have the fullness of sacramental life, despite their partial separation from the Church. IOW, the Bishops and priests of the Orthodox Churches are truly men of God, and have the power to confer [all if Bishops, and all but Holy Orders if only Priests] the seven sacraments.

But, admittedly, the COMMUNITIES [not “churches”] that are objectively in heresy [which is essentially the collection of all Protestant communities] [including Anglicans and Lutherans, even though they would regard themselves as having ‘Holy Coummunion’] do not have “men of God in valid orders” in the true sense.

Hence, the most that any heretical community can possess in the Sacraments is Baptism and Marriage, seeing as these sacraments do not require a priest to confer [anyone may Baptize in cases of emergency, and heretics Baptism is valid if the proper form and matter is used (water, and the Invocation of the whole Trinitarian formula, and not merely Christ), and it is the beliefe of the Roman Rite that the man and woman confer the Sacrament of Marriage upon themselves, rather than the priest or deacon].

And admittedly, the true aim of ecumenism is to lead others to the fullness of faith, which inevitably involves, after the positive elements of the non-Catholic religion have been praised and acknowledged with reverence and charity, shewing them the particular deficiencies, whether lack of truth or grace, or else explicit errors or impediments to grace.

The modern conditions of relativism seriously hamper this process. In modern Western culture, to believe that religions have varying degrees of goodness and truth is seen as “fanatical” and “intolerant”.

for this reason, the Magisterium’s continual emphasis on the unique blessing of God upon the Catholic Church, as alone possessing the fullness of faith and grace, is constantly under attack, even though the Church always emphasizes that, given the minimal dispositions necessary to be saved, Christ can save non-Catholics of good will.

I will try to post later.

but in effect, I foresee the tide trurning in a postive light, simply because, as the modern world is growing more unstable and scary, persons are hungering for these deeper questions, which is already giving birth to a “springtime” of faith, particularly in young people.

Hence, I would say, have hope. In effect, the consequences of the many errors of non-Catholic positions are being manifested.

For example, the violence of extreme Islam, the teenager or young adult who kills himself and others, crying out for the immeasurable worth that is denied him by the modern, apostate secular education and culture.

The futility of Protestant confusion, shewing the necessity of a formal authority to resolve doctrinal disputes.

Therefore, even though you are showing a great wisdom and concern, listen to Our fomer Shepherd, who proclaimed, “Be Not Afraid”.

For JPII followed the mystics closely, countless of whom prophesy that the Christians shall be reunited, and a glorious period of spiritual peace and prosperity to occur after our time and before the final falling away, when humanity will be practically incurable spiritually, which is when the world will finally end.

God Bless you, catholickid, and I pray that other forum members can share their own insights as well.

In Her Love forever,
Scott
:slight_smile:


#4

I continue to read various posts on ecumenism and I am convinced that there is barely one percent or less who really understand what it is and how we are to apply ourselves to it. It seems there are two mistaken schools of thought on ecumenism. One is that we are to identify common ground and soft pedal everything else. the second is that we are to dilute and mix our beliefs so that everyone is happy. Neither is the case. Ecumenism as described by Benedict on his recent visit is to learn from each other the content of each others faith. In having that knowledge we than know what each of us holds as true and and can accept and respect our differences; not make changes to be in agreement. It goes to respect and acceptance of the person, not making his beliefs our own.

Now after all my blather, don’t take my word for it. Read up on what John Paul II and Benedict XVI have actually said about the matter in their own words.

It isn’t ecumenism that is causing our problems, its the attitudes about truth that exist in our post modern society.:slight_smile:


#5

I’m on our parish ecumenism committee and we view it quite simply as repairing wounds to the Body of Christ through the light of his Church.

Part of this involves teaching what the Church teaches, so that all know what the Truth is.

Part of this involves working together in common causes, so that we become used to operating as a larger community.

Part of this involves operating as an effective ambassador for the Church, so that those outside her can see why she is to be admired.

We do not water down our Catholicism by referring to areas of common agreement and working together toward common goals. Ecumenism is not synonymous with relativism.


#6

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