As a Catholic blogger, much of my writing content centers around explaining Catholic beliefs in a way that can be relatable for non-Catholic Christians. Given this niche topic, harsh criticism is always to be expected. Most Protestants generally disagree with much of Catholic doctrine, though I think it’s important to understand that not all of them expressively hate Catholics. While most of these allegations come from those who seemingly have an ax to grind against the Church, others are genuinely concerned about why our theology goes against the grain of their own biblical interpretations. In the latter case, we can hardly blame them for caring for our spiritual well-being, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
For the most part, Catholics and Protestants have come a long ways since the Reformation and very well live alongside each other peacefully – at least that seems to be the case here in North America. This isn’t to say that friction between these groups does not happen anymore; although there is still much historical and theological animosity that Catholics and Protestants need to work out before there can ever be a chance of reuniting.
When someone picks apart a belief you hold dear, it can be difficult to not take it personally. While I strongly believe Catholics ought to be prepared to defend their beliefs, I think it is equally important to do so in a charitable manner. For me, that’s the most challenging part. It takes a saintly amount of self-discipline to not react uncharitably, and involves the ability to bite our tongue, listen and acknowledge when we don’t have an answer on the spot. That being said, Catholics (myself included) are far from innocent when it comes to displaying equally hostile behavior to those they disagree with.
Sadly, it often comes out in the form of regurgitating words like HERETIC, APOSTATE or ANATHEMA!
I know from experience not all Protestants are anti-Catholic. Many of my closest friends whom I’ve known since high school would consider themselves ‘Protestant’ or ‘non-denominational’ Christians. Much of my spiritual growth and biblical education prior to reverting to Catholicism has to give credit towards my former non-denominational church community which has certainly contributed to keeping my life on the straight and narrow. I have every reason to be thankful for my formative Evangelical years, and it would be a slap in the face to them if I was not appreciative of God’s grace working through them.
For this reason, I cringe at the flippant use of the word ‘Protestants’ because it’s such a broad term. It seems to put such a diverse demographic in a box because every individual believer has a mind and heart of their own with different convictions.
Since reverting to Catholicism, I have noticed an especially hostile attitude from fellow ultraconservative Catholics directed towards Protestant Christians and people who attend the Novus Ordo Mass. What truly bothers me is the condescending assumption that these people are heading for eternal damnation specifically for either lacking an understanding of their faith or being born in a different tradition. Even the use of slang variations like ‘prots’ or ‘protties’ make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. When I hear this, I can’t help but think about my own family and friends and how they would feel if someone called them these names.
To me, any form of derogatory or hostile language that isn’t intended to build up the person’s understanding or faith is… I dare to say… un-Christlike.
Although I must say, the more I read into the history of the Church after the Second Vatican Council, the more I sympathize with the ‘rad-trads’ and sedevacantists for their concerns about liturgical abuse. There really is something to be said for preserving the Mass to be as authentic to its historical and biblical roots as possible. But I think it’s also important to be careful not to allow that passionate concern to be communicated in a way that would leave someone wounded and resentful towards the Church.
While I strongly oppose any form of bigotry towards non-Catholic Christians, this does not mean that I am compromising my Catholic worldview. I believe one can strongly disagree with someone’s theology without demeaning their character or making them feel stupid or inferior. Even though these Christians might not agree with Catholic doctrine, they still share a love and desire to follow Christ just as Catholics do. Theological differences aside, working together on areas of moral common ground does not mean we are being ‘unequally yoked’ by any means.
As difficult as it can be at times, this is why charitable discourse is so important especially between fellow Catholics of different traditional views. This is also the reason why I value ecumenicalism and communicating with people of different faith traditions. If we want to convince non-Catholics that our Church is truly founded upon Christ, it needs to be evident in the fruits of its members – otherwise we become indistinguishable from the bigoted anti-Catholics we claim to be at odds with.