[quote=Anima Christi]Catholic means universal. In what manner can Protestants be considered “catholic”??? There is no universal Protestant church; unlike the Catholic Church, which is found in every corner of the world, each of the various Protestant sects are mostly limited to a particular group of people or geographic area.
There is, but it has a different ecclesiology from Catholicism. Protestantism is no less universal in impulse than Catholicism. The CC is not found in all corners of the world - 97% of Asia is not Catholic. Its presence in China is about 1% of the population.
BTW, estimates of its size depend on counting as Catholics millions of people whom many Catholics regard as not Catholic at all - such as all those who use contraception, or are not “faithful Catholics” in some other way. Take them out of the stats, and the Church loses millions of Catholics at a stroke. The size of the Church’s impressively large population relies on including as Catholics all those baptised into her, whatever their morals, orthodoxy, or practice.
The Church can be either “a faithful remnant” - or a worldwide communion: but hardly both. So which is it to be presented as ? ##
Even where Protestant denominations have made headway in Catholics lands, such as Latin America, they continue to divide and multiply just as they always have. So please explain how Protestants can be called “catholic” or universal.
Before Contarini explains, I’ll try to :
The RC notion of how a Church can be universal, is not the only possible one - nor even the most profound IMHO. Catholics do have this habit of being unable to imagine how there can be any universality which is not the RC type: visible & institutional.
But this neglects a great deal of what is meant by universality: it overlooks most of what the CC really means by the word.
And Protestantism, despite not being a visibly united and centralised organisation in the way that Catholicism is, has a different unity: one which is spiritual. It acknowledges one Head, Jesus Christ - and He is its centre: it needs no other; unlike Catholicism. But Catholicism is far more divided - under the impressive exterior it presents to the world - than many Catholics will admit: this is why disagreement with those who insist on exterior conformity is so annoying: it spoils the (very attractive) notion that all Catholics are united; so those who disagree must be de-Catholicised: even if those competent to judge of error and truth are quite satisfied of the orthodoxy of the accused.
The appearance of disunity in Catholicism is therefore a far more serious problem for popular Catholic orthodoxy, because this external unity is far more important to Catholic apologetics than the far more important spiritual foundations of the CC’s unity, which are not visible, and do not lend themselves to being proved - apologetics is far too keen on trying to prove things, when they ate often not capable of proof: this leads to something little different from rationalism, and attracts justifiable criticism from the Orthodox.
There are various reasons for this: the influence of a scientistic model of knowledge, and of the pre-Kantian rationalism that is a foundation for so much Protestant Fundamentalist apologetic, are two of them; Fundamentalist apologetic is often a betrayal of salvation by faith.
What is really unhelpful is the ignorance of Protestantism’s history, theology, devotional habits, missionary history, theological controversies, worship, persecutions and martyrs. Unless Protestantism is far better known, in far greater detail, there will be not an ice-cream in Hell’s chance of making a favourable impression on those Protestants who know their stuff. The validity of Protestantism is not dependent on the good character of the Reformers, or on the perfect virtue of modern Protestants; but on the faithfulness of Christ.
Catholics have to start thinking Biblically - otherwise they will not even begin to understand Protestantism. ##