On anti-Catholicism

I ran into my first truly anti-Catholic comments today. Of course, one can always find anti-Catholic comments on the web. These were ones I stumbled upon in one of the blogs I regularly read, however. It was a new experience for me. I noticed some trends in the comments, and I’d like to talk about these trends briefly.

1) Many of the commenters seemed to be misinformed about Catholic theology. They referred to things like “worshipping Mary” and “salvation by works.” This is a trend that I also see among Protestants in general, and even among Catholics. People think they know what the Church teaches, but in reality they’re repeating almost-truths. For some reason, Catholicism seems to be more easily misconstrued than other parts of Christianity. I’m not sure why.

2) The commenters were convinced that they were right, and that they were right to be dismayed by Catholicism. I respect this, actually. I can choose to see their comments as a manifestation of sincere desires to bring Catholics to the truth and a sincere wish to keep the truth from being corrupted, or I can see their comments as malicious attacks on my faith. Since this is online discourse, how I choose to read their words is extremely important. That being said, I have to admit that I do not always choose to assume the best of them, for which I apologize.

3) Based on the research I have done, it seems to me that Catholicism is so much more grace-filled than Reformed Protestantism. (Please note I am not talking about any individual believers!) Catholicism bursts with God’s grace – in the description of God in the Catechism, in the way that the Church says who is in heaven but not who is in hell, in the way that forgiveness is always possible. Reformed Protestantism, on the other hand, is very black and white. In their theology, you can know who is going to hell, but not who is going to heaven. Lately, I find myself praising God for his wonderful grace – for the fact that those with homosexual attractions are never considered abominations, though acting on those attractions is a sin; for the forgiveness and healing he offers; for the way he invites us to him with open arms.

So, this is what I have learned through this encounter. I hope I can respond well and gracefully to those who disagree. It is a hard thing to deal with.

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5 thoughts on “On anti-Catholicism

  1. I too was a little surprised by the anti-Catholicism at Challies’s site. I posted a comment that, as far as I can tell, was deleted. I simply included two famous quotes: Newman’s quote about being deeply rooted in history bringing a conversion to Catholicism (which was my case) and Fulton Sheen’s comment about fewer than a hundred hating the Catholic church and thousands hating what they think the Catholic church to be (which was also my case). It’s obvious to me they’ve never been to a single Mass, which is so Christocentric that only one willfully blinded by anti-Catholicism could fail to see it.

    • I love those two quotes you mentioned. The first one was definitely the case for me – I’m becoming Catholic because it is the historical church! I’m grateful that my Protestant upbringing failed to give me prejudice against Catholicism. Being conservative Episcopalian makes it easy to understand and appreciate the Catholics. ;)

      I’m sorry to hear your comment was apparently deleted. I just checked the comments thread again and noticed some missing comments. I hadn’t actually seen yours when it was up, though.

    • Actually, we were both wrong – no comments were deleted. Challies’ Disqus comment system only shows the first 50 comments, and the “Show more comments” button doesn’t always show up. I think that’s why we thought comments had been deleted.

      • Your investigative skills have restored a bit of hope about inter-denominational decency!

        I was brought up heavily anti-Catholic, as in Jack Chick level. It’s been a long road for me, but the history thing just kept bugging me. I could escape how strikingly Catholic the first, second, and third century church appeared.

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