I was evangelical Protestant for over 40 years before converting to Catholicism in 2004.
You are a priest, right? You are Christ’s representative on this earth.
Here is my suggestion. Answer, “Yes we do,” since after all, theologically, they are correct. You will not be disavowing the Catholic Church to admit that Protestants are correct in some of their views.
Then offer to bless them.
If they hesitate, ask them if they’ve read Pastor Gary Smalley’s book, The Blessing. (You might want to get hold of this book and read it yourself first.)
Gary Smalley was my pastor in the church I grew up in and he is accepted by evangelical Protestants as a paragon of solid Biblical truth.
His book The Blessing is all about the importance of Christians blessing each other, as outlined in the Scriptures. Offering a blessing to someone is a very “Biblical” thing for Christians to do. It is not some wierd “Catholic” ritual.
So if they refuse the blessing, suggest that they read Pastor Smalley’s book, and then smile and say your goodbye. Please say a private prayer for them, though.
But hopefully your Protestant friend will say yes to your request to bless them.
So do your priestly work and give them a blessing.
They will be extremely touched, and believe me, they will never, ever forget it. Your touch and your words of blessing will stay in their hearts and minds forever.
Protestants have very few “tangibles” in their practice of Christianity to cling to, and when they do have contact with a “tangible”, it is very meaningful to them. I believe that many Protestants are absolutely starved for the “tangibles,” which not only include the seven sacraments (especially Eucharist), but also tangibles like human touch, blessings, the Sign of the Cross, Rosaries, Holy Water, candles, art work, etc.
I believe this is one reason why Protestants “church hop.” They are searching for substance, for something “real,” and they think they can find it by being more “spiritual.” They don’t realize that it is in the physical that God reveals Himself and works in us. They haven’t connected this with the Incarnation of Jesus and His physical coming and dwelling and dying among us. Instead, they have the incorrect idea that the “physical” is of this world and therefore, should be avoided. So they continue to starve and continue to wander about seeking a place “to be fed.”
I and my husband were starved for all these tangibles, and when we started attending the Catholic Church, we felt like we had stumbled into a castle full of rich treasures.
Our daughter, who is a professional stage manager, feels the same way. Long before she decided to become Catholic, she said that all the other churches are just “pageants,” while the Mass is the real thing.
I believe your powerful blessing, offered as Christ’s representative, will continue to work in their lives and eventually bring them home to the Catholic church.
God bless you as you witness in love to those outside of the Catholic Church!