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Anti-Catholic Movement Essay, Research Paper
Prejudice, as a word and not a particular viewpoint, comes from two Latin words: pre meaning “before”, and judicium meaning “judgment”. It would be a fair conclusion to say that anti-Catholicism is the action of making a judgment before knowing the facts, but in modern times, this has been taken to the extreme. The popularity of anti-Catholicism comes from the conclusion made by others without taking the initial steps to find out the facts personally. Anti-Catholic ministers and members determine the doctrines and actions of the Catholic Church mostly by the media, or by literature. Literature is the primary weapon in the anti-Catholic arsenal, since it is the work of very imaginative minds. The creative and imaginative work of anti-Catholics can be made known to the world by the publication of a simple tract, or a complex book. Despite what harm these tracts and books seem to bring, they are actually the Catholic Church’s best source of defense. The Catholic Church, despite their massive distributions, isn’t fighting the tracts or the books: she is fighting pride. The pride of anti-Catholics that the Roman Catholic Church is a pagan organization and that their arguments can’t possibly be right just because they are the Roman Catholic Church, leads anti-Catholics to build up such a personal defense to any information outside of their favorite anti-Catholic book, radio show, church, or pastor. But the Church, in recent years, has made a tremendous breakthrough: we are seeing the truth come into the light, and the lies falling back into darkness. We now see the most hard-core of anti-Catholics lose the prejudices they once had when they, for themselves and not by the words of a book, discover the Church. Now, these former haters of the church become her most notable theologians and defenders. They begin to see the truth that was once hidden deep down in the catechism, but can be found as simple as a scripture verse.
Propaganda has been in our world since the time of Christ. Some notable Catholic as well as Protestant theologians, after the Reformation, began to debate if Christianity was made so strong in the world either by truth that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, or if the disciples had very good propaganda. Modern theologians have concluded that it was a little of both. The most famous use of propaganda was used in World War II in Germany and the United Kingdom, and then eventually in America after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by the Japanese. The propaganda of war is trying to influence your side against the enemy. Historians, after doing years of research, conclude that almost 99% of the claims made by all sides of the war were false, making virtually all the propaganda a great fiction novel. The war with guns and tanks may be over, or far less often thanks to the credits of the United Nations, but war is still in progress, and has been since the time of Christ himself. It would seem that the Catholic Church is at war with the world, but the fact is that the world is at war with the Catholic Church. The World Wars have come to an end; it seems the war between the Church and the world will never end. The propaganda in one form or another will always be active against the Catholic Church. Despite such attempts as the Council of Trent, the Vatican II Council, and numerous ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and many Protestant churches, the war still rages between some sects of Protestantism and the Catholic Church. Both sides seem to be as opposed as the Jews and the Greeks once were. It is a known fact, both in the spiritual sense and scientific sense, that light and darkness cannot exist together. Christ created a kingdom not of this world; the world declares that there is no kingdom, except for the one that the world wants to make. Christ died for eternal life; the world dies for what sounds best today. This is the cause of hatred for the Church of Christ by the world, and it makes the propaganda and misrepresentations with regard to the Church seem only come more alive. The argument would be that there is perfect reason to hate the church. She has committed sin and done her part to contribute horror in the world. But the argument can be equally reversed, if not more. The Catholic Church is not a stainless church; she does have the blood of many on her hands. However, she does and can not claim the sole responsibility in this. The opposition only chooses to focus on her sins, and they hold her in a false light. Every effort is made to not see her rights, but rather to focus on her wrongs. Anti-Catholic prejudice in this modern age has taken the forms hatred and indifference; hatred is actually the lesser of two evils. Hatred you can combat; indifference almost requires divine intervention. Not only now does the Catholic Church have to worry about the raging war from her fellow Christians, she battles the secular world as well. Prejudice in the world is shown in Russia, China, and Sudan, and many other nations who leaders are doing everything possible to destroy Christ. It is even in our own country, where many people are so un-concerned about Christ that they are not interested enough in it to care, or what people believe and if/how they worship. There is another prejudice harder to understand, namely that of non-Catholic Christians, or, as they are sometimes called, the Evangelical Churches. It is sad to say, but true, that at times the prejudice of Protestants or Evangelicals is greater and more intense than that of the world at large. But the secular powers are becoming a thing of the past, thanks to the evangelical movements, who risk life and limb to enter these nations, as well as go across our own, and spread the message of Christ. But along with the message of hope and happiness also comes one of hatred, directed at one group: the Catholic Church. It would seem that the Catholic Church is making a giant judgment of her own, assuming that Evangelical churches go into nations and spread a bad message of the church, but the evidence is overwhelming. 60% of Evangelical and missionary churches target not the war-torn, famine stricken un-Christian nations you see on the news, but rather the nations that seem to boast a large Catholic population. Canada, The Philippines, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, and even entire continents such as Latin America and Australia. They go in and preach an un-biblical, hateful message of the Catholic Church, and encourage people to burn their statues, rosaries, Bibles, even their own churches to now have a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. The main reason for this is not because the Catholic Church is an oppressor. She is not the one causing the famine, the war, and the poverty. She is actually the one speaking out against it, and trying to make a difference to stop it. The Catholic Church is one of the most active missionary organizations in the world, with 100,000 missionaries world wide. The best example is the late Mother Teresa, and her order of The Sisters of Charity. The sole reason for the sudden interest from Evangelicals in Catholic nations is due to the fact that they are contenders for what the Catholic Church has found to be true and has taught for 2,000 years: that she alone possesses, namely, the true religion of Jesus Christ. This teaching has now led the Church to gain bitterest of opponents, and has Protestantism challenging left and right the claim of the Catholic Church to be the sole true Church of Jesus Christ.
To the Protestant world, the Catholic Church could end all of the hostility and bitterness toward her today, if she would contest the teachings of her. If the Catholic Church would drop her claim to being the sole true religion of Christianity, and founding church of Christ, there would be virtually no antagonism between the various Evangelical Churches and the Catholic Church. There would still be different views of doctrine and forms of worship, but since all now proclaim that one denomination is as good as another, all become tolerant of one another, and whatever rivalry may exist among the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists and the hundreds of other Evangelical bodies, each one extends to one another the hand of fellowship. Now this is far from the truth from the Catholic perspective. The Church has never once, and never will, contest any doctrine for public relations, and will never alter a teaching to make it more tolerable for someone else. Despite the fact that Protestantism is the most divided religion in the world, literally having over 45,000 sects and forms of theology, most can come to the same conclusion: they must band together against the Catholic Church. Again, the sudden interest in some form of unity isn’t to defeat a massive army that is oppressing the well being of millions of citizens; it is for two main reasons. First, if the Catholic Church is right, they are wrong. And second, since they can’t be wrong, they must find a way to make the Catholic Church wrong. Nobody wants to admit he is wrong. But if a Protestant admits that Catholic theology is right, he himself is wrong. An Episcopalian may admit that a Presbyterian is right without surrendering his own position. That is why all the Protestant sects harmonize and fraternize. But an Episcopalian cannot admit that the Catholic is right, and yet remain an Episcopalian. Most Protestant churches will hold that one religion is as good as another, though some claim that they alone are the only church of Christ, such as the Mormons or Seven Day-Adventists. But regardless of who is main line and radical Protestant, the outcome came as a result of the heresy of private judgment and interpretation. If the judgment of one person impels him to be a Baptist, that of another may cause him to be a Methodist, failing to see that such a way is very illogical, because it is basically saying that the truth and a lie are equally right. If the Episcopalian church is true, the Presbyterian Church cannot be true, for the simple reason that one believes what the other denies. The Episcopalians hold that an episcopate is essential to the Church of Christ; the Presbyterians deny this. Both cannot be right, so which one is truth? Truth may be with one, but can’t be with both at the same time. So to say that one religion or theology is as good as another is to ultimately believe that a lie is as good as the truth. And it is this theology that Evangelical churches rest, which is led by the Protestant move into Modernism and Rationalism, the rejection of a revealed religion. Modernists are usually logical and consistent at all events, and by following the Protestant principal of private interpretation, they have been led to reject virtually everything that Protestantism proclaimed in its early beginnings. They have themselves done what the founding fathers of Protestantism did; departing from the real religion for another. But the Evangelical Church, refusing to acknowledge the very system that allowed them into being, has rejected the Protestant church for another. But even in the abandonment of the main line Protestant movement, they still hold true to it. In the Reformation, the Bible was to take the place of God’s living Church. The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible was established as core and creed in content. The fact that the Bible proclaimed one thing to one person, and seems to be a contradiction to another did not seem to matter, because the words of the Bible are all that are necessary for the operation and instruction in the faith. But what was failed to look at during the initial hype and excitement of the new religion, which proclaimed everyone to be a “pope” in matters of the Bible, they overlooked what the Modernist Protestants are forced to look at face to face now, and have pushed aside the religion of their fathers. But even now the Modernist position has run into yet another contradiction, and that is that every religion is as equal as another, when in fact, that is far from the truth. The fact that the truth and a lie can’t both be right is the same as saying that snow is cold. But because the evangelical movement has closed their eyes to a clear contradiction in religion, which they themselves would never tolerate, they push for peace and unity. But it is all broad-mindedness. It is broad, very broad, as broad as saying that two and two make five, which is why you now find Modernist Protestants very liberal and considerate, because they know their position is weak. To admit that the Catholics are right means that you are wrong, and then all the envy and antagonism directed to the church built upon the rock of St. Peter, which proclaims that every creed different from hers is wrong, becomes a thing of the past, and leads to the second point. Martin Luther’s hardest problem was not writing a new religion; it was proving wrong the first one. Unless they could show that the church was false, they themselves were not true, leaving no need for a new religion. Now Christ had said that his Church would never error, but what he didn’t say was that members of his Church would not sin or error. If this were the case, Christ would never have foretold sin and scandal in high places. He established the Sacrament of Penance for sinners in his Church, because Christ guaranteed His Church against error, but not the same promise to its members. This promise is found in the Bible, long before the book of Acts. Jesus and his disciples were no strangers to sin and scandal. Judas was a thief and traitor; Peter was weak and denied his Lord. The first council of the Church, held shortly after the resurrection, was held to abolish this, but as we have seen over 2,000 years, the church is in fact thriving in sin and scandal. It can be found in the Catholic Church, and every Protestant church in the world. Men are her ministers, not the angels. But despite the corruption, the Church has survived, and is still as strong as ever. Protestantism, with all of it’s pomp and circumstance, worldwide mission programs, and programs geared toward former Catholics, has found itself beginning to crumble in recent years. Now true, it did gain incredible strength in the early 1970’s, but the numbers of the overall Radical Protestant movement has dropped ever since it started. The Catholic Church, however, built on the rock she is, remains stronger then ever after 2,000 years. It is the one Church in the world that is universal, the only one that speaks with the authority of Christ and the only one that even claims to be without doctrinal error. And the lack of error within the doctrines of the Church is what led the Reformers to prove the Church wrong. Martin Luther broke away from the Church that was founded by Christ, and brought out all means possible to blacken the Bride of Christ. The Lutheran or Protestant position will credit that Luther was the “second messiah” by bringing the church back to a Bible based Christianity. But converted Protestant theologians and scholars often go back to the first framers of the Reformation, such as Luther, Wesley, and Calvin. The study of the works of these men confirms that Protestant history was poisoned at its source, and has blamed the spread of the evangelical movement to a giant lie. It is this that leads to such a hatred of the Catholic Church. After reading some of the most anti-Catholic books, if I were in the other person’s shoes, I would hate the Church probably even more then they do. What always comes back as amazing is that the best scholars of the Catholic Church were once Protestants who converted as a result of searching for accusations against the Catholic Church. Their investigations led them to enter the very Church, which they set out to destroy, and they will become the first to admit that the bulk of Protestant prejudice is due mainly to the lies that have become lodged in the Protestant mind.
It is necessary, if you’re going to debate with Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, to know where these concepts of theology came from. Each one is different, and unique in it’s own way. Basically, the evangelicals are the missionaries, and the fundamentalists are the radical group of defenders and interpreters. The fundamentalist position claims to go back to the time of Christ when they, the fundamentalists, were the true Christians, and were later forced into hiding when Constantine legalized Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, and abolished paganism in 313 A.D. But Constantine never fully abolished pagan practice from Christianity, according to the fundamentalist dogma, and mixed pagan worship into Christianity; they basically made what is the Roman Catholic Church today as far as worship and doctrine. Once the Reformation came about, the fundamentalists were able to come out from hiding, and “restore” and “reform” the lost church of the New Testament. And now, a “Holy Ghost, Bible based” church is resurrected on earth, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now there are several problems with this theology. First is the most important fact: there is absolutely no historical, scriptural, or theological evidence to defend this claim. The fundamentalist dogma will dictate that there will be no evidence because the Catholic Church and other “heretic” churches destroyed all the evidence that supports them; they rely on a “word of mouth” teaching. But how is that any different then the Catholic Church preaching the church from apostolic succession by the word of mouth of the apostles? Second, doctrines such as intercession of saints, the Virgin Mary, purgatory, sacraments, and the priesthood were taught long before the 4th century when Constantine legalized Christianity in Rome. These doctrines were believed by the same Christians who were disciples of the first apostles; the same ones who mixed paganism into the Church. Despite the many heresies and schisms in the 2,000 years of history, any accurate, historical, scriptural, or theological document will ever be found to support the lost fundamentalist underground church. It is for this reason that fundamentalists will run when you say the words “early church fathers”. Fundamentalists will never take the time to examine the works of the first Christians after the death of the apostles for the simple reason that their argument will quickly be smashed. The fundamentalist “convert the pagan” crusade is driven by both a common prejudice against the church from a lack of knowledge, and the thought that paganism is still mixed within the Catholic Church. Fundamentalists will most often quote that such doctrines as The Immaculate Conception, the Eucharist, purgatory, and the Assumption as a few of the pagan rituals invented by the Catholic Church. The root of the problem lies with a misunderstanding of terminology: doctrine and practice. Doctrine is a set of infallible law disclosed by the Holy Spirit, and found in the Bible. Practice is changeable, and is the carrying out of such doctrines. While practices are a stem of doctrine, they are not doctrines themselves. The practices of the Catholic Church are the worship styles of the Catholic Church. The prayers of the mass, clerical vestments, holy water, incense, and speaking in Latin are all the forms of worship within the Catholic Church, while a drum set, guitars, and a choir may lead the congregation of a non-denominational church in praise and worship. Each church has a different practice for its service. Most main-line Protestant churches are not to different from the Catholic Church, in which they use a liturgical outline, colorful vestments, candles, and memorized prayer. More contemporary Protestant churches and non-denomination churches use a very upbeat, charismatic style of worship with heavy rock music, and often incorporates charismatic worship such as speaking in tongues and prophesy into their worship style. Gospel churches focus on music for the entire service verses a sermon. The Churches of Christ don’t use any musical instruments, and focus on the sermon and A Cappella music. All these are examples of practices, which come as a result of infallible doctrine. The changing of the liturgical prayer in the Catholic Church is no different then singing a different hymn every Sunday in a Protestant church. The Catholic Church never has, and never will, change doctrine that is directly handed by the Holy Spirit. However, fundamentalists pastors continue to contradict their own practices of worship by claiming that practice and doctrine are connected, and that the Catholic Church is the worst of sinners by changing both doctrine and practice, when in fact that all the practices of Protestant churches came directly from the Catholic Church. Fundamentalist pastors will use examples of so called “pagan” Catholic inventions to prove that the Catholic Church still follows the ancient Roman religion, but the facts are twisted to support a bogus fundamentalist claim. For example, the Doctrine of Transubstantiation is often said by fundamentalist pastors to have been invented in 1215 during the Fourth Lateran Council. But transubstantiation was not invented in 1215; it was only given a name. The Doctrine of Transubstantiation is the long, technical name for the turning of wine into blood, and bread into flesh, as Jesus did in the Gospel of St. John in Chapter 6. When Jesus took bread and wine and turned it into his body and blood, he was enacting the process of transubstantiation, and was officially given that name in 1215. Another key problem with the fundamentalist movement is the confusion of pagan practice for pagan worship, or the re-adaptation of pagan practice into Christian worship for the Christian God. St. Paul explained to the Corinthian people that is was now acceptable for them to eat meat that had once been used to offer sacrifice to idols, because, “we know that an idol has no real existence, and that there is no God but one God.” (1 Cor 8:4). He taught that Christians could now eat meat that was once offered to pagan gods, because they did not believe pagan gods or the tribute owed to them (Romans 14).
The Evangelical movement is the fastest growing movement of Christianity. Combine the missionary efforts of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you have the Evangelical Church. They seem to be always on the move, going from city to city, state to state, nation to nation, continent to continent, armed with only a Bible and a lot of commitment. Even though the Catholic Church is by far the largest church of Christianity, and has the most converts per denomination per year, she has not had the same social impact on both national and world society as the Evangelical movement has. How has the Catholic Church seemed to slip away and allow the Evangelical Church to move in? How does a church with the full deposit of faith, truth, and grace of Jesus Christ seem to fall through the cracks when a movement with much division and controversy, rise up? It is for the simple fact that the Evangelical is using the same missionary methods as the Catholic Church once had. The same spirit of Evangelism today is the same spirit that was in the hearts of such men as St. Dominic and St. Benedict. But what has changed is the Evangelical view of a radical, “holiness” relationship with Jesus- a one on one approach. The Evangelical movement has abandoned the elevation of the clergy as spiritual authority, and baptizes all people they encounter into the “priesthood of the believer”. The crisis for the church lies with the Evangelical habit of distorting the truth for popularity. Most Evangelical theologians distort the Catholic Church’s teaching that all people, even those who do not explicitly know Jesus, can share in the salvation won by Christ if they respond to his grace. The Catholic Church also has to suffer from the indifferent position of Christianity, which basically believes that the Catholic Church is just the same as every other religion, therefore just another path to God. Since the Catholic Church is yet another Christian church, why bother proclaiming the faith to other Protestant Christians? This opinion, although it sounds very charitable, is actually more detrimental both to the Church and to unbelievers then the fundamentalist habit of distorting the truth. The Catholic Church suffers because she is the Bride of Christ, the church that Jesus shed his Blood to purchase, and is now put on the same level with non-Christian religions, such as Islam of Hinduism. It also makes the deaths of all the saints who gave their lives to spread the Catholic Church seem like a lost cause.