Before I begin, let me recount for you a story. Last summer, I went to Mass. It was a hot day, so I decided to leave my car window cracked. Like most other Sundays, I was on the way to take the Eucharist to the homebound of my community. My car often collects debris throughout the course of the work week, so it wasn’t too unusual to see a piece of paper sitting in the seat of my car… but it was on the driver’s side. “Strange,” I thought, “was I sitting on some paper the whole way to Church? Wait… is that Pope John Paul II?”
Sure enough, there he was humbly revering a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary along with a nice picture of Christ bowing his head in prayer. But then I noticed the title: “Is Catholic Christian?” and at the bottom “Be born again and have a loving relation with Jesus.” Weird, and not just because of the strange grammar at the bottom… what does it mean to have a loving relation with Jesus?
I looked around the parking lot and noticed these pamphlets were all over, mostly under windshield wipers. A few short minutes later I had read the entire dense, verbose, and vitriolic pamphlet and I was pretty mad. First, the contents of the pamphlet (produced by a place called SALT Ministries) present what appears to be a hastily slapped together set of wide-ranging but fairly standard objections. The mode of writing is very condescending, angry, and demeaning. I can’t imagine a scenario where leaving this in the hands of a Catholic would lead to some sort of conversion… knowing that they left this for Catholics, wouldn’t they attempt an approach that wasn’t basically calling us boastful, prideful, unrepentant and wrong? Lastly, the sheer cowardice of leaving such a offensive piece of literature on cars in the parking lot of a Catholic Church while Mass is going on is beyond offensive. SALT Ministries, you should be ashamed of yourselves to basely attack our religion and not even have the decency to do it to our faces.
But here’s the good news: I’m going to take the high road and answer these objections. While I don’t speak for the Catholic Church in any capacity, I have heard the objections (aside from the “facts” presented that are pure nonsense or take swipes at other Christian denominations that I know nothing about) and can answer them. I will do this thing with charity and good will and will not be drawn into a debate, flame-war or any other form of internet warfare. I will even include a copy of the pamphlet in it’s entirety (page 1 and page 2) along with my arguments, just as they request. I wouldn’t want to be accused of perverting their claims in any way, after all.
I am doing this for one reason: I am afraid that others might see this pamphlet and think that these claims are true. They are not.
In answer to the first question raised by this pamphlet: “Is Catholic Christian?” The answer is simple. Yes, of course Catholics are Christians… our Church was founded by Christ Himself and we have an apostolic line of succession directly back to Saint Peter and the rest of Christ’s Apostles. To claim that Catholics are not Christians is ridiculous to the point that it is nearly impossible to argue all the avenues that this question presents, so I will leave the articles to come in the following weeks and months to flesh out this answer more.
Please note: the pamphlet does not include any sort of website or URL, simply a PO Box to send donations for more pamphlets. Since I’m clearly not going to donate to them, I have not contacted this PO Box. I have found a website that matches the mailing address, but I will not link it here because I am not certain it is them and I don’t want to give them any traffic or business.