Non-Catholics have produced countless pamphlets, books, and videos “proving” that Catholicism is false. You may have a Protestant preacher claiming that Catholicism is nothing more than paganism with Christ added to the pantheon. And many secular skeptics often point to the Crusades or Inquisition as evidence that the Church has zero credibility.
Some non-Catholics do an okay job arguing their case. But many others use the same old oft-refuted explanations.
If you’re a non-Catholic, here are three arguments you should stop using because they are simply bad.
1. “Catholics worship Mary and the saints.”
No, we don’t. We worship God alone. Part of the confusion here stems from the definition of “pray.” For many Protestants, prayer is always an act of worship. When they see Catholics praying to Mary and the saints, they think we are worshiping them.
But to Catholics, the word “pray” simply means “to ask.” So when we pray to Mary and the saints, we are asking them to intercede for us. It’s no different than asking a friend on earth to pray for you.
We don’t worship statues, but we do treat them with the reverence many people show to a photo of a deceased family member. Not because the photo itself is alive or magical, but because it calls to mind those dear to us.
2. “Catholics believe you can earn heaven.”
Not true. This objection usually comes from Protestants who believe in salvation by faith alone through grace alone.
Catholics don’t believe in salvation by faith alone. We recognize that we have to exercise charity to grow in that faith and become more like Christ.
However, we do believe in salvation by grace alone. Our good actions are meritorious, but grace enabled us to perform them. Therefore, we cannot boast about our accomplishments. If we make it to heaven, it will be because of God’s grace and our free cooperation with it, but even that cooperation is performed under the influence of grace!
3. “There have been many evil popes, bishops, and priests.”
This is a convincing argument at first. Many of us judge an organization based on its leaders. And there’s no doubt that there have been some awful characters and events throughout the Church’s 2,000-year history.
But this argument is bad for a couple of reasons. First, it ignores the countless saints that have held the Church up even as others tried to tear it down. Few people can match the incredible charity of people like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Vincent de Paul, and St. Teresa of Calcutta — individuals who gave up everything to serve the poor.
Second, there have always been reformers within the Church to counter the actions of its less savory leaders. For example, take a look at all the saints that arose during the Counter-Reformation (or perhaps better called the Catholic Reformation) and led the Church to a new period of flourishing.
The truth of an institution’s claims does not depend on the holiness of its members. Remember that Christ included Judas Iscariot among His 12 apostles, knowing that Judas would betray Him. Jesus made it clear that the Church on earth would be full of saints and sinners.
If you wish to make a case against Catholicism, don’t use these worn-out arguments. They just don’t work anymore and are based on misunderstandings.