Why do Catholics consider "Papist" an insult?

Protestants have various insults for Catholics. But “Papist” just means you believe in the Pope, which you do not seem apologetic or ashamed about.

The Pope is actually quite essential for Catholicism. And you seem to like him. So why is it perceived as an attack?

If I called a believer in Marx a “Marxist”, he would be fine with it.

It was meant to be an insult - it implies that the person followed the ‘pope’ as an individual and not Christ as Lord.

‘Lutheran’ is also an insult with the same reasoning but for some reason it stuck - we consider ourselves a valid continuation of the Western church.

But they think they’re the same thing.

It’s almost like Catholics are implicitly acknowledging that the Pope teaches things contrary to Christ. Which is strange, because they don’t believe that.

If someone called Catholics “Peter-ists” or “Apostle-ists”, they would be fine. But the Pope isn’t treated like Peter is.

Because that’s the way it is defined. Look in any modern dictionary. It is always accompanied by the qualifier “offensive” or “derogatory.”

The term derives its negative connotation from how it was used during the Protestant Reformation. Here are some examples:

Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And, therefore, such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies. Westminster Confession of Faith, CHAPTER XXIV.

If, perchance, there were reasonable Papists we might speak moderately and in a friendly way, thus: first, why they so rigidly uphold the Mass. For it is but a pure invention of men, and has not been commanded by God; and every invention of man we may [safely] discard, as Christ declares, Matt. 15:9: In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Smalcald Articles, Part II, Article II.

Why would you wish a Catholic to identify with a term that is defined as offensive and derogatory?

Who uses the term papist anymore? I think most Catholics would just give the person a strange look, or perhaps a chuckle.

That is not the origin of the term Papist. It is indeed an anti-Catholic slur. It’s origins in England during the Reformation implied one was not loyal to the crown or to England, a traitorous person. It is the term used in various anti-Catholic laws passed in England that made Catholicism illegal, deprived Catholics of property, political standing, and other rights under the law.

In the US, the slur was “mackerel snapper”.

But the dictionary definition reflects how it’s used in society. The dictionary did not make “Papist” an insult. Protestants and Catholics did.

I’m not asking you to identify with it. Just wondering why it’s an insult.

Well, nobody claimed the dictionary made the word an insult. It reflects the historical negative connotation used by the Reformers and the Church of England.

I’m not asking you to identify with it. Just wondering why it’s an insult.

Because it connotes that the Pope of Rome is/was not a lawful authority, spiritual or otherwise. Its usage in documents like the WCF and Smalcald explain why - the alleged teaching of heretical doctrine.

Why does it imply that?

Using words like “Marxist” does not imply Marx is a bad teacher. It’s a neutral term.

Because that’s how the Reformer’s and the Anglican’s used it. Neither of us can change that reality. That’s why I gave you actual quotes from the era it was invented. There are many more examples. They refused to call Catholics, well, Catholics. Part of that has to do with the fact that the Church in England also referred to themselves as catholic. They still do. Many Lutherans, for example, still recite the Nicene Creed in which they believe in one catholic church. They simply refused to refer to us as Catholics, instead using the term “Papist.”

Using words like “Marxist” does not imply Marx is a bad teacher. It’s a neutral term.

This analogy is flawed. “Marxist” was not a word created by another economic system to disparage those who were followers of Karl Marx. It is a word that adherents of Marxism use to identify themselves.

Sure… but papist is not a neutral term based on it’s historical use. The problem with your logical question is that language use isn’t always logical .

For those in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the term “Catholic” is the neutral term - “Roman Catholic” can be used in the right context and is usually considered neutral if used in a neutral fashion to differentiate from other that view themselves as part of the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church like Lutherans and Anglicans.

It’s usually used in a derrogatory way. If it wasn’t being used as such, I wouldn’t consider it an insult, though it’s such an out-of-date term, it’s weird that it’s even being discussed.

Don’t use it in reference to us, if that’s what you’re asking.

I’m pretty sure that Byzantine Catholics are not Roman Catholics, but are still under the Pope.

Catholic is not exactly a neutral term, because the Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans also claim it’s usage. Orthodox is not a neutral term either, because it implies other people are not Orthodox.

It’s historical context makes it something that implies falsehoods about what it means to be a Catholic (unfaithful to the Gospel, against progress, etc.)

With disabilities, we went through an evolution of terms. We had, I believe, “crippled”, but it became used as an insult. We kept changing the terms, “handicapped”, “disabled”, “physically challenged”.

We’ve seen a similar evolution of terms with race, but basically, the words almost don’t matter so much If someone were to use the term “Papist” with respect, I doubt it would have been a problem. Because it was loaded with sarcasm, Catholics preferred some other term, instead, that wouldn’t be used as ammunition, deliberately provocative, a prelude to a fight.

I suspect that was often accompanied with sometimes intense persecution. Can you blame us, then, for wanting some other word that would be respectful?

We would like peace on earth.

It is an insult. But it is a blessing to be persecuted for following Christ. I feel blessed every single time one of my protestant friends or relations calls me a Papist.

For this reason… my band (the first true Catholic Thrash Metal band) is called Papist.

Is this a common occurrence?

Almost on a daily basis.

I am not offended when I encounter the term, but probably just because it’s such an old term. Most of those still using it today are on the fiery fringe of Protestantism. I don’t really take their views to heart.

Anyone else may like yourself be using it in a straightforward descriptive way, or perhaps ironically. An example that may be a little of both of these was the blog American Papist, which now redirects to CatholicVote.org.

Nonetheless, it’s not politically correct to use historically insulting terminology such as this, and probably for good reason.

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