“I don’t like Protestants”. That’s what I learnt at school. it takes us back to the Forties – when I spent 10 years in a Catholic (Jesuit) boarding school. I don’t mean that this was formally taught but there was a general view that Protestantism was a betrayal of the true Church. Moreover, its priests were not really priests at all – in most instances there was no connection of ordination, leading back to the Apostles, and thus its “pretend” priests lacked the Eucharistic identity. It appeared to me that we preferred agnostics and atheists to what we thought of as pseudo Christians.
But “The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis redintegratio, recognised that those who believe in Christ and are baptised with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ. Through baptism they “are incorporated into Christ”, that is “truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ, and reborn to a sharing of the divine life”. Moreover, the Council recognised that the communities to which these brothers and sisters belong are endowed with many essential elements Christ wills for his Church, are used by the Spirit as “means of salvation,” and have a real, though incomplete, communion with the Catholic Church.
I find this pleasing because, although I am a born Catholic, I have a direct descent from Anthony Thorold, the late Victorian Anglican bishop of Winchester and, formerly, Rochester. His portrait (by Spy) hangs in the loo.
So my question to Catholics, Protestants or any other Christian communions is whether we see, and treat, each other as a unique group of love and companionship. And do we put this in practice in our social work and in the many other ways which Christians can bring to our societies?
Below, you may see an important, official, account of the Catholic Church on this subject. It’s lengthy, and so is the link. But it’s well worth reading.