We Catholics would never tell non-Catholic Christians what they believe but instead accept their statements of their belief; although, unlike the Catholic faith, there is usually no source to verify their beliefs as it is with Catholics where one can go to the Catechism and see exactly what Catholics believe. Therefore in this modern age of instant information, via the computer, there is no excuse when one bears false witness against Christ’s Church and the faithful. Such actions must, if one uses reason, be intentional prevarification. There is simply no other explanation except laziness. Actually it is correct in saying that one may be a wannabe Catholic but it probably is not intentional desire but the result of the Holy Spirit drawing them to Christ’s Church and causing conflicts in their disobedient soul. Their spirit of contention tells them they must find fault in Christ’s Church, even if it is created in their own imagination, or it becomes apparent that the original and only Church that Christ created is the true Church with all of the promises that Christ gave to His Church. Obviously, if one did not surrender to these facts then they would not be in God’s will and obedient to the one true God. It seems that ignoring this obvious conclusion is illustrated by their unwillingness to even check out their beliefs about the Catholic Church to find out if their imagined faults have any veracity. What will happen, as thousands of people will attest who have come home to His Church is that, what they hated and spoke out against is not at all the Catholic Church but an enemy of their own creation.
The question is asked, “do Protestants actually look up to their pastors like we Catholics do to our priests?” This is a very good question and it points out a key difference in the leadership of the Protestant churches in contrast to Catholic Churches. Many times in Protestant churches there is no oversight with the so called non-denominational churches that are becoming so popular. This allows for all kinds of false teaching and apostasy. Any minister can teach whatever he desires without hindrance. Many times the pastors of these churches have no training at all in biblical understanding and use a proof text methodology in presenting their doctrines to their congregations is common causing heretical errors. Only the congregation has any semblance to oversight but most often they put blind faith in their pastors, truly putting them on pedestals as representing a man of God. The congregations imagine their pastors to be free of sin and the example of righteousness. This is the reason there is such a scandal when they fail and their sinful humanity is revealed. Their churches actually draw upon the righteousness of their pastor for their veracity as a church. Since it is a man-made church from where else can that veracity and righteousness come? Therefore when they teach that the Catholic Church is evil there is no where else for these congregants to appeal to truth as their trust is in their pastor.
We Catholics see our priests and bishops differently. The Church teaches that the priest is a servant of the people and that the bishop is the shepherd leading and delivering the spiritual needs to the flock through the Sacraments. The priest reminds the congregation of our lack of righteousness as a person and child of God, confessing to our congregations that we too are sinners in thought, word and deed. If there was any tendency of the congregation to believe that the priest is godlier or have less of a sinful nature this confession should remove all doubt. There is no pretense among priests to present one who is more righteous or less tempted by sin. If a Protestant pastor confessed his/her sins to the congregation even in a general sense as do priests they would probably be released from their position. The Catholic Church, of course, receives its righteousness from Christ and its veracity from His promises and not from the example of inherently sinful men. In the Catholic Church it is not necessary or even expected that the priest would be any different than anyone else in the tendency to be tempted into sin. For instance, the Sacraments are just as valid coming from a sinful priest as from a more godly priest because the holiness of the Sacraments are the result of Christ’s righteousness and not the priest as the priest acts “in person Christi” where righteousness can never be doubted.
These being fundamental differences as to how clergy are perceived in Catholic and Protestant communities, I believe that because Protestant pastors are perceived as righteous, godly and holy men that there is a greater opportunity for false teaching leading to heresy and apostasy. The congregation is hungry for God’s Word and it is often being filtered through the sole interpretation of one man’s theology. Because of this is it no wonder that there are thousands of different schismatic sects within Protestantism each having their own truthfulness as well as heresy. The only trust these congregants have is in their pastor and not in any Church founded by Christ containing His promises for veracity.
Christ using construction vernacular says the following:
Upon this rock I will build my Church speaking to St. Peter.
Christ is the cornerstone and the 12 disciples are the foundation
He says that He will be with His Church
He says that the Church will endure until the Parousia
He says that the Church will be free of apostasy
He says that He will be with His Church for all time and does this by sending the Holy Spirit to guide the Church and by sharing His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity with His Church through His miracle of the Eucharist.
He says the His Church is the “bulwark and ground of the truth”.
Can any pastor make such promises when founding their church? Of course not, only Christ’s promises have veracity regardless of the intent or sincerity of any man.
As Catholics we are commanded to love others. We are not to love just those who love us or the Church but our enemies as well. This is one of the most difficult teachings in all of Scriptures because it goes against our natural tendencies in our sinful selves to hate. We are called to pray for these people who hate us and His Church and desire the same blessings that we receive. But, even most importantly we are to pray that God’s will be done and that they may come into full communion with His Church sharing the fullness of faith, worship and truth that Catholics receive in His Church.