Criticism of the Roman Catholic Church

Criticism of the Roman Catholic Church

Criticism of the Roman Catholic Church subsumes critical observations made about the current or historical Roman Catholic Church, in its actions, teachings, omissions, structure, or nature; theological disagreements would be covered on a denominational basis. Criticisms may regard the concepts of papal primacy and supremacy, or aspects of church structure, governance, and particular practices. Since the Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian church representing over half of all Christianscite book | author= Marty, Martin E., Chadwick, Henry, Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan |title="Christianity" in the Encyclopædia Britannica Millennium Edition |publisher=Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. |year=2000|quote=The Roman Catholics in the world outnumber all other Christians combined. ] and one sixth of the world's population,cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =Number of Catholics and Priests Rises | work = | publisher =Zenit News Agency | date =2007-02-12 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate =2008-02-21 ] , these criticisms may not represent the majority view of all Christian believers.

Criticism of the Roman Catholic Church in previous centuries was more closely related to theological disputes. The Protestant Reformation (16th century in Europe) came about in no small part due to abuses of church practices by corrupt clergy in addition to these same theological disputes. [cite book |last= Multiple Authors| |title=Medieval Times to Today |origyear=2003 |accessyear=2008 |publisher= Pearson Prentice Hall |isbn=0-13-062995-2 |pages= 11,93, 106, 112, 174, 140, 141 |chapter=One]

Political disputes compounded the theological grievances between Protestants and Catholics and to this day the debate begun at the Reformation has been reflected in the diversity of Christian denominations. Contemporary criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church have tended to come from outside of Christianity,Fact|date=August 2008 relating more to concepts in philosophy and culture e.g., Christianity vs. humanism. For this sort of criticism, see Criticism of Christianity.

Criticism of Roman Catholic beliefs

Opposition to teaching on Biblical grounds

Some Protestants charge that some Catholic teachings are unbiblical. [ [ Florida Baptist] ]

Roman Catholic position on Scripture and tradition

Protestants critical of the Roman Catholic Church have attacked its reliance on what was referred to as "tradition" by the Church.

Others countered that the notion of "church tradition" did not mean custom. "Traditio" is that which is handed down — Roman Catholics believe that the whole "deposit of faith" was given by Christ to the apostles. Tradition, the written part of the larger tradition, are the scriptures which, the Church says, must be interpreted in the context of the community founded by Christ.

The Roman Catholic notion of "traditio" refers to what is passed down, and it is generally considered that the Church predates the Bible in written form. [ [ Bible Notes] ]

ola Scriptura

Protestants who have attacked the Roman Catholic Church's reliance on tradition cite the doctrines of "sola scriptura" (Scripture only) and "sola fide" (faith only). These scholars have held that the position of the Reformers regarding justification was pronounced as anathema by the Roman Catholic Council of Trent in 1547. [Godfrey, Robert W. [ "What Do We Mean by Sola Scriptura?"] . Retrieved May 27, 2006.] [Gipp, Samuel C. (1987). The Enemy. In [ "An Understandable History of the Bible"] . Chick Publications. Retrieved May 27, 2006.]

Some opponents of "Sola Scriptura" argued that, rather than being a return to fundamental Christianity, it was actually more of an innovation than traditional Roman Catholic belief. For example, the "salvation through faith alone vs. faith and works" controversy depends on how one reads the Epistle of James. Roman Catholics hold the Epistle of James as important. In the earliest edition of his translation of the Bible, Luther wrote his now famous comment: "The St. James Epistle is really an epistle of straw compared to [St. Paul's letters] , for it lacks this evangelical character."

In response to these charges, Dave Armstrong argued that, far from straying from the Bible, Roman Catholicism is biblical. He asserted that Roman Catholicism is the only Christian denomination that is in full conformity with what the Bible clearly teaches. To demonstrate this, Armstrong (a former Protestant campus missionary) focused on those issues about which Roman Catholics and Protestants disagree the most: the role of the Bible as a rule of faith, whether believers are justified by faith alone, whether doctrine develops, what the Eucharist really is, veneration of Mary, requesting intercession of the saints, the existence of [purgatory] , the role of penance in salvation, and the nature and infallibility of the papacy. (See "A Biblical Defense of Catholicism" by Dave Armstrong with foreword by John A. Hardon, S. J.)

Religious exclusivism (One true Church)

Section 8 of the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, "Lumen Gentium" stated that "the one Church of Christ which in the Nicene Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic" subsists in the Roman Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. (The term "successor of Peter" refers to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope; see Petrine theory).

Protestants have rejected the pope's statement that Jesus established "only one church" (Roman Catholic Church.) [ [ MSNBC] ] They also rejected the remark by the Pope that only the Roman Catholic Church could be called church [] . The Pope said that Protestant denominations are not even churches "in the proper sense." [ [ Vatican says Protestants not churches in ‘proper sense’] ] Protestants argued that the Pope is wrong, and that they were churches as well [] .

Although the Roman Catholic Church establishes, believes and teaches that it is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, [cite web | last =Paragraph number 750 | title =Catechism of the Catholic Church | publisher = Libreria Editrice Vaticana| year = 1994| url =| accessdate = 2008-02-08] it also believes that the Holy Spirit can work through and make use of other churches to bring people to salvation. In Lumen Gentium, the Church acknowledges that the Holy Spirit is active in the Christian churches and communities separated from itself and is called by the Holy Spirit to work for unity amongst all Christians. [cite web| title=Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter 2 paragraph 15|url=|publisher=Libreria Editrice Vaticana|year=1964]

Protestant sects

The pope has laid out a plan to halt the growth of sects, for example, on his during trip to Brazil. [ [ Pope lays out plan to halt sects, names Brazilian saint] ] [ [ Pope orders top gear evangelisation to counter sects] ] [ [ Brazilian bishop promotes door-to-door visits to counter sects] ] The term "sect" here is a pejorative, but is not a the same as a "cult", as sometimes used by Protestants.Fact|date=July 2008

The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia (superseded in 1967 by the New Catholic Encyclopedia) used the term "sect" or "Protestant sect" when referring to any non-Catholic belief [ [ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Sect and Sects ] ] Dubious|date=September 2008 including the following: Unitarians [ [ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Unitarians ] ] , Waldensians [ [ Catholic Encyclopedia 1913] ] , Adventists [ [ Catholic Encyclopedia 1913] ] , Pentecostals [ [ Catholic Church concerned about Pentecostal sects progress] ] [ [ Roman Catholic Church concerned about Pentescostal sects progress] ] and Evangelicals [ [ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Evangelical Church ] ] often blaming them for anti-catholicism [ [ Seventh-Day Adventism ] ] .

Protestant Churches reject being characterized as sects, claiming that they are churches or denominations which should not be branded as sects.Fact|date=July 2008 Evangelicalism, for example, includes Protestant denominations that are among the largest and most important in many nations, and includes denominations that are Calvinistic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or Methodist. [The 2004 survey of Religion and politics in the United States identified the Evangelical percentage of the population at 26.3%; while Catholics are 22% and Mainline Protestants make up 16%. cite web |title= The American Religious Landscape and Political Attitudes: A Baseline for 2004 |last=Green |first=John C. |url= ]

"However, it has a destructive effect on ecumenical relations if one church deprives another church of the right to be called a church. It is just as destructive as if one Christian denies another Christian the right to be called a Christian." [ [ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark's reply to the Roman Catholic Church] ]

Opposition to teaching on modern ethical grounds


is the practice of attempting to convert people to a religion. The Church is criticised, especially by the Russian Orthodox Church of continuing aggressive proselytism, mainly by the Eastern Catholic branches of the Church. [ [ CWNews] ] [ [ Daily Mail] ] The Church maintains that it "has a duty to evangelize; it is also its inalienable right" [ [ Asia News] ] , thereby implicitly asserting the claim that it is the one true Church referred to above. The historical missionary activities of the Church in many areas have been criticised on a number of grounds.

Interactions with other religious groups

Position on Jews

In 1998, Pope John Paul II apologized for past actions by Christians that caused suffering to the Jewish people, calling them our "elder brothers" in the faith. [cite web | title =A Pope for the World | publisher =BBC | year =2005 | url = ] Even so, some claim that antisemitism is endorsed by the Vatican. [ [ Pope steps back from meeting Polish priest] ] Defenders say this criticism is exaggerated.Fact|date=December 2007 Critics reply that Pope Benedict XVI was a member of Hitler Youth a paramilitary organization of the German Nazi Party, as were all German youth of his day were forced to do. He and his brother skipped meetings; the Nazis executed their cousin with Down's Syndrome. Benedict's father hated the Nazis.

There are also concerns about Pope's Benedict's endorsement of the Tridentine Mass. Concern by some groups is now focused on the Good Friday liturgy according to the Tridentine missal, which contains a prayer "For the conversion of the Jews". The prayer then refers to Jewish "blindness" and prays for them to be "delivered from their darkness." [ [ Concerns over Pope's Latin Mass move BBC World] ] After protest, Roman Catholic Church acted by deleting a reference to their "blindness". [ [ After protests, Pope changes Latin prayer for Jews] ] However, Jewish leaders are still disappointed about the revision. [ [ US Jewish leaders call reintroduction of Latin prayer 'retrogression'] ]

Position on Islam

Although Islamic people are respected by the Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholics do not agree that Mohammad was a prophet and his teachings are not part of Roman Catholic belief.

In 2006 Muslims objected to Pope Benedict XVI quoting the 14th-century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II who wrote "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." [ [,,1873277,00.html] Complete transcript of Benedict XVI's speech accessed January 7, 2008 from,,1873277,00.html.] The Pope emphasized that he was quoting the emperor, and he neither agreed with nor disagreed with the statement.

There was considerable response to the pope's quote [ [ BBC News] ] . Islamic political and religious leaders expressed their concerns about his speech [ [ BBC News] ] . There were protests in much of the Islamic world, including Turkey, the West Bank of the Jordan [ [ MSNBC News] ] , Indonesia, Iran, and especially from terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda [ [ CNN News] ] .

Turkey's ruling party likened the pope to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the mentality of the Crusades, while Malaysian PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that "The pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created" [ [ USA Today] ] .

The pope responded "In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation. I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Qur’an, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion. In quoting the text of the Emperor Manuel II, I intended solely to draw out the essential relationship between faith and reason" [ [ Vatican News] ]

Position on Freemasonry

Catholics have stated that Freemasonry holds back its members from fully committing to their nation "Another characteristic of Masonic law is that "treason" and "rebellion" against civil authority are declared only political crimes, which affect the good standing of a Brother no more than heresy, and furnish no ground for a Masonic trial." [ Masonry (Freemasonry)] from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, partially quoting Mackey, "Jurisprudence", 509.] . Critics claim that compared to Operative Masonry's clear denunciations of treachery"2nd -- You shall be true liegemen to the King of England without any treason or falsehood, and if you know of any that you amend it privily, if you may, or else warn the King and his Council of it by declaring it to his officers."] Masonry after 1723 (Speculative masonry) was far more ambiguous [ II. Of the CIVIL MAGISTRATES supreme and subordinate] "A Mason is a peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concern'd in Plots and Conspiracies against the Peace and Welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself undutifully to inferior Magistrates; for as Masonry hath been always injured by War, Bloodshed, and Confusion, so ancient Kings and Princes have been much dispos'd to encourage the Craftsmen, because of their Peaceableness and Loyalty, whereby they practically answer'd the Cavils of their Adversaries, and promoted the Honour of the Fraternity, who ever flourish'd in Times of Peace. So that if a Brother should be a Rebel against the State he is not to be countenanc'd in his Rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy Man; and, if convicted of no other Crime though the loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains indefeasible."] . It is alleged in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia that Masonic disapproval of treachery is not on moral grounds but on the grounds of inconvenience to other Masons."The brotherhood ought to disown the rebellion, but only in order to preserve the fraternity from annoyance by the civil authorities." from the article [ Masonry (Freemasonry)] in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia] The 1913 "Catholic Encyclopedia" argues"Such language would equally suit every anarchistic movement." [ Masonry (Freemasonry)] in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia] that the adage "Loyalty to freedom overrides all other considerations" "If we were to assert that under no circumstances had a Mason been found willing to take arms against a bad government, we should only be declaring that, in trying moments, when duty, in the masonic sense, to state means antagonism to the Government, they had failed in the highest and most sacred duty of a citizen. Rebellion in some cases is a sacred duty, and none, but a bigot or a fool, will say, that our countrymen were in the wrong, when they took arms against King James II. Loyalty to freedom in a case of this kind overrides all other considerations, and when to rebel means to be free or to perish, it would be idle to urge that a man must remember obligations which were never intended to rob him of his status of a human being and a citizen. ", "Freemason's Chronicle" 1875, I, 81, quoted as footnote [89] in [ Masonry (Freemasonry)] in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia] justifies treason.

eparation of church and state

Throughout much of the history of Western Civilization, the Roman Catholic Church has excercised many functions in Catholic countries that are more usually associated with government today. Many functions like education, healthcare, and a judicial system covering religious and some social areas were begun and undertaken by the Church. Certain bishops acted as secular rulers in small states in Italy and the Holy Roman Empire, notably the Papal States, although these were always unusual. The full separation of church and state in Catholic Europe and Latin America was a gradual process that took place over time . The church openly opposed the abuses of Spanish and Portuguese authorities over their colonies during the Age of Reason and took steps to operate outside of these authorities in spite of protests from the various monarchs.cite book |last= Duffy|first= Eamon|others= |title=Saints and Sinners, a History of the Popes|origyear=1997 |accessyear=2008 |publisher= Yale University Press in association with S4C |isbn=|id=Library of Congress Catalog card number 97-60897 |pages= ]

The Roman Catholic Church has tried to influence governments to preserve Sunday as a day of worship, to restrict or, as in Ireland and Italy, forbid divorce, abortion and euthanasia. It has also pressured governments to restrict or not to promote the use of contraceptives, even in countries with a high rate of AIDS.

Catholic Social Teaching advocates a living wage, proper work hours and treatment of workers. Freedom to practice one's religion is one of the basic human rights the Church has been noted in defending especially in Communist countries around the world.

Human sexual behavior and reproductive matters

Some criticize the Church's teaching on sexual and reproductive matters. [ [ U.S. Catholic Bishops - Catechism of the Catholic Church ] ] The Church requires members to eschew homosexual practices, [ [ CCC 2357] ] artificial contraception, [ [ CCC 2370] ] and sex out of wedlock, as well as non-procreative sexual practices, including masturbation. Procuring or assisting in an abortion can carry the penalty of excommunication, as a specific offense. [ [ CCC 2272] ]

Although some charge that the Roman Catholic Church rejects sex for purposes other than procreation, the official Catholic teaching regards sexuality as "naturally ordered to the good of spouses" as well as the generation of children. [ [ CCC 2353] ]

Some criticize the Church's teaching on fidelity, sexual abstinence and its opposition to promoting the use of condoms as a strategy to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS (or teen pregnancy or STD) as counterproductive.Fact|date=January 2008 The Roman Catholic Church has been both praised and criticized for its stauch pro-life efforts in all societies. The Church's denial of the use of condoms has provoked criticism especially in countries where AIDS and HIV infections are at epidemic proportions. The Church maintains that countries like Kenya where behavioral changes like abstinence are endorsed instead of condom use, are experiencing greater progress towards controlling the disease than those countries just promoting condoms. [cite web | last =Dugger | first =Carol | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =Why is Kenya's AIDS rate plummeting?
work = | publisher =International Herald Tribune | date =2006-05-18 | url =,+condoms,+hiv,+abstinence&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=us| format = | doi = | accessdate =2008-02-21

Opposition to contraception

The Roman Catholic Church maintains its opposition to birth control. Some Roman Catholic Church members and non-members criticize this belief as contributing to overpopulation, and poverty. []

Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the Church's position in his 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" (Human Life). In this encyclical, the Pope acknowledges the realities of modern life, scientific advances, as well as the questions and challenges these raise. Furthermore, he explains that the purpose of intercourse is both "unitive and procreative", that is to say it strengthens the relationship of the husband and wife as well as offering the chance of creating new life. As such, it is a natural and full expression of our humanity. He writes that contraception "contradicts the will of the Author of life [God] . Hence to use this divine gift [sexual intercourse] while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will." []

Supporters of birth control argue that economic growth which allows for a high population density without poverty is a direct function of the availability of birth control, as it leads to smaller families (as is the case in all nations which allow birth control), which in turn have more purchasing power to support themselves and provide their children with education, which is universally recognized as necessary for sustainable growth.

The Church counters this argument stating that "Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good," it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it —in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong." []

The Church stands by its doctrines on sexual intercourse as defined by the Natural law: intercourse must at once be both the renewal of the consummation of marriage and for the purpose of procreation. If each of these postulates are not met, the act of intercourse is, according to Natural Law, an "objective" mortal sin. Therefore, since artificial contraception expressly prevents the creation of a new life (and, the Church would argue, removes the sovereignty of God over all of Creation), contraception is unacceptable. The Church sees abstinence as the only objective moral strategy for preventing the transmission of HIV. [] []

The Church has been criticized for its opposition to promoting the use of condoms as a strategy to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, and STDs. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, has stated that Pope Benedict XVI asked his department to study the question of condom use as part of a broad look at several questions of bioethics. [cite web |title=Catholics and Condoms |url= |last=Dickey |first=Christopher |year=2006 |month=May |work=Newsweek |publisher=MSNBC |accessdate=2006-09-16] However, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, in an interview reported by Catholic News Agency on May 4, 2006, said that the Church "maintains unmodified the teaching on condoms", and added that the Pope had "not ordered any studies about modifying the prohibition on condom use." [cite web |title=Church 'will not budge one inch' on issue of condom use, says Cardinal Lopez Trujillo |url= |publisher=Catholic News Agency |year=2006 |month=May |accessdate=2006-09-16]

Restrictions on homosexual behavior

The Roman Catholic Church requires homosexuals to practice chastity in the understanding that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to the natural law." [ "Catechism of the Catholic Church"] , see the "Chastity and homosexuality" section.] All unmarried persons who have sex outside of marriage commit adultery according to basic Christian belief. Homosexual acts are considered one form of adultery that harms both the soul of the person who commits adultery and their relationship with God.

It insists that the only appropriate expression of sexuality is within the context of marriage, which by definition is permanent, procreative, heterosexual, and monogamous. The Church describes homosexual tendencies as "a trial" and stresses that people with such tendencies "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." In reference to the possible ordination of homosexuals to the priesthood, distinguishing between "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" and those that are "only the expression of a transitory problem", the Vatican requires that any homosexual tendencies "must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate." [ [ Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders] , Congregation for Catholic Education, November 04, 2005]

The Vatican has reiterated the standing instruction against ordaining gay candidates for the priesthood. [ [ Pope approves barring gay seminarians] ]

Criticism of Roman Catholic prayer and worship


Catholics have venerated Mary and other saints for supplication, or requested help of some sort. Some Protestant Christians argued that in order for Mary and the saints to actually hear all the prayers directed to them, they would by necessity be required to possess the attributes of omniscience and omnipresence, thus allowing them to know all the requests made by either ultimate knowledge or by actually being present with each supplicant simultaneously. Many Protestant churches have not traditionally called on the saints or apostles as intermediaries as do Catholics, citing 1 Tim. 2:5 [ [ " mediator between God and man..."] ] to support this view..

Catholics answer that when they have prayed to a saint they have asked the saint to pray to God for them, not to have the saint do something for them personally. For Catholics, belief in the "Communion of Saints" means that death does not separate believers and requesting prayers of a saint is the same as asking any friend. They also say that Christians have historically believed that only material beings occupy time and space: as spirits, saints and angels do not occupy space. [ [ What Catholics Believe] ] This, they argue, would suggest that angels and saints do not need to be omnipresent or omnipotent to answer prayers.


:"For the critics of the traditional role of women in Latin America, see": Marianismo.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, asserted "The issue of Mary remains one of the hottest debates on the Protestant/Roman Catholic divide, and new proposals for Marian doctrines are likely to ignite a theological conflagration. At stake is not only the biblical understanding of Mary, but the integrity of the work of Christ."Fact|date=February 2007

Use of Latin

Before the reforms from Vatican II in the late 1960s the Roman Catholic Church was best-known outside the church for the Tridentine mass, said mostly in Latin with a few sentences in Ancient Greek and Hebrew.Fact|date=December 2007

During the Reformation the Protestants almost totally rejected the use of Latin as "hocus pocus".

The French Catholic Church in the 18th century adapted vernacular missals in some dioceses. In 1794 the Synod of Pistoia, firmly influenced by Jansenism, rejected the use of Latin and demanded the use of the vernacular. In the 19th century the "Old Catholic" anti-primacy movements adopted the vernacular liturgy along with other reforms. In 1962 the encyclical Veterum sapientia of Pope John XXIII instructed priests and seminaries to hold to the all-Latin Mass and to promote studying the Latin language. While the Second Vatican Council for the first time allowed the use of the vernacular in the liturgy of the Mass, it also demanded conservation of the use of Latin and stimulated of Latin Gregorian chant. The new, 1970 edition of the reformed Roman Missal allowed for a world-wide use of the vernacular in the Eucharist for the first time.

Traditionalist and sedevacantist Roman Catholics

Traditionalist Catholics see the Church's recent efforts at reformed teaching and (liturgical) practice (known as "aggiornamento"), in particular the Second Vatican Council, as not benefitting the advancement of the Church. Some groups, claiming the Church has betrayed the core values of Catholicism, have rejected some of the decisions of the Holy See that they see harmful to the faith. They have in common the firm adherence to the Tridentine Latin Mass that was used, with some changes, for 400 years prior to 1970.

Others, a numerically minor group, have characterized the current Pontiffs of the Roman Catholic Church as heretics. Several groups, known as sedevacantists, claim that the current Pope (as well, perhaps, as some of his immediate predecessors) were not legitimate. Sedeprivationists claim the post-conciliar Popes were still materially Popes, but formally non-Catholics due to formal personal and public heresy.Clarifyme|date=August 2007

Another tiny, extreme group of Vatican II opponents, known as conclavists, have appointed papal replacements: see list of conclavist antipopes. These groups were estimated to compromise not more than a few hundred Catholics worldwide.

On the other hand, some non-Catholicdisputable|date=August 2007 historians have seen a clear continuity of the teachings of the Church throughout the centuries, a "handing over" ("traditio") of "living faith" which according to George Weigel "inspires innovative thinking."

Criticism of Roman Catholic organization

Papal infallibility

In Roman Catholic theology, Papal infallibility was the dogma that the Pope is preserved from error when he solemnly promulgated, or declared, to the Church solely on faith or morals.

This doctrine has a long history, but was not defined dogmatically until the First Vatican Council of 1870. In Catholic theology, papal infallibility was one of the channels of the Infallibility of the Church. Papal infallibility does not signify that the Pope was divinely inspired or that he was specially exempt from liability to sin.

The Old Catholic Churches, organized in the Union of Ultrajectine independent Catholic Churches, resisted Papal infallibility along with the First Vatican Council's dogma of Papal primacy of universal jurisdiction.

Clerical celibacy

The Roman Catholic Church's discipline of mandatory celibacy for Latin-Rite priests (while allowing very limited individual exceptions) is criticized for differing from Christian traditions issuing from the Protestant Reformation, which apply no limitations, and even from the practice of the ancient Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, which, while requiring celibacy for bishops and priestmonks and excluding marriage by priests after ordination, do allow married men to be ordained to the priesthood and diaconate (Catholicism also permits married men to be ordained as deacons). Some also claim that mandatory priestly celibacy appeared only in the Middle Ages.

Some have argued that abolishing the rule of celibacy and opening the priesthood to women would update the Church's image as more relevant to modern society, and would help solve the problem of an insufficiency of candidates for priesthood in Western countries.

Many contend that maintaining the tradition in the modern age is unrealistic. In July 2006, Bishop Emmanuel Milingo created the organization Married Priests Now!. [cite news | url = | title = Archbishop launches married priests movement |date=2006-07-14 | work = World Peace Herald | accessdate = 2006-11-16] Responding to Milingo's November 2006 consecration of bishops, the Vatican stated "The value of the choice of priestly celibacy... has been reaffirmed." [cite news | title = Vatican stands by celibacy ruling | url = | publisher = BBC News |date=2006-11-16 | accessdate = 2006-11-16 ]

In the wake of the clergy sexual abuse scandals, some critics have charged that priestly celibacy was a contributing factor. (see below)

Ordination of women

:"For the critics of the traditional role of women in Latin America, see": Marianismo.In recent times, the Roman Catholic Church's exclusion of women from the ordained clergy, and so from many of the most important decisions, was seen by some (including some Catholics) as unjust discrimination (at a time when feminist and other movements have advocated equal access for women to traditionally male professions).

As a result of feminism and other social and political movements that have removed barriers to the entry of women into professions that were traditionally male strongholds, in the latter quarter of the twentieth century many women in a handful of countries sought ordination into the Roman Catholic priesthood.

The Church was convinced that it was not free to change this practice, which the Church traced back to Jesus himself, and has declared the matter closed for discussion. Yet, at the same time the Church had also been praised by many historians as having raised the dignity of women relative to their treatment in the pagan societies (e.g. the Roman "paterfamilias" had legal authority over them-theoretically). Women were treated by medieval knights as ladies, a custom characterized by gentleness and reverence inspired by the Roman Catholic Church's veneration for a woman, Mary, as the greatest of all saints. Fact|date=February 2007

The Roman Catholic position (as well as that of the Orthodox and, arguably, other ancient churches), is that this has been the clear teaching of the Church since the time of the Apostles. As the Priest is acting 'in persona Christi' (that is, in the Person of Christ) and Christ took the body of a man, the priest must be a man: "Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination. Paragraph 1577 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ's return. The Church recognises herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible." [ [ CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 1577 ] ]

On May 22, 1994, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter, "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" (on Priestly Ordination) which reaffirmed the traditional position, and concluded:

:"Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force."

:"Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." [ [ Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II, 22 May 1994 - Apostolic Letter ] ]

Within Roman Catholicism itself, debate on the subject now largely focuses on whether this statement is meant to invoke extraordinary papal infallibility (see the concept of the extraordinary magisterium) and raise the rule that women cannot be Roman Catholic priests to the level of dogma (thus unchangeable) of the Roman Catholic Church. That disagreement as to the status reached to the heart of the Church. However, its infallibility was asserted by the CDF in its Responsum Ad Dubium on October 28, 1995, when they responded to a Bishop's inquiry with the following:

"This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Reply, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published."Fact|date=August 2008

Critics accused some of those attached to the Congregation of trying to make the document "sound" infallible to try to kill debate, in effect "spinning" a fallible document as infallible. Such an accusation has been made in the past, notably concerning Pope Paul's encyclical, Humanæ Vitæ Fact|date=August 2008

Those criticisms are based on what some Catholics consider to be a faulty understanding of the doctrine of infallibility. Others say that what is missed by those who make these criticisms is that "what has always been taught" is, according to Catholicism, as infallible as a solemn definition that springs from something which the pope declares to be infallible. That which has always been taught by the Church is a part of its Universal Magisterium, which is as infallible as such solemn definitions as that used to define the Assumption of Mary. A mere layperson is considered to be infallible when he would simply repeat what the church has always taught. Fact|date=February 2007

Criticism of Roman Catholic actions in history

The following section is organised chronologically.

Persecution of Heresy and Heretics

"See also: Catholic response to heresy"

Before the twelfth century, the Great Church [The Great Church are those Christians and their leaders that endorsed Chalcedon, (or before Chalcedon, those standing with the great majority in earlier councils). They later divided into the Eastern Orthodox Church and Western Catholic Church.] gradually suppressed what it saw as heresy usually through a system of ecclesiastical proscription and imprisonment. During this time in history, an accusation of heresy could be construed as treason against lawful civil rule, and therefore punishable by death, though this penalty was not frequently imposed, as this form of punishment had many ecclesiastical opponents [ [ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Inquisition ] ] [ [ A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages. By Henry Charles Lea. Volume 1 ] ] . Later those convicted of heresy were often handed to the state for execution under state laws.


The Crusades were a series of military conflicts of a religious character waged by much of Christian Europe against external and internal threats. Crusades were fought against Muslims, pagan Slavs, Russian and Greek Orthodox Christians, Mongols, Cathars, Hussites and political enemies of the popes. Crusaders took vows and were granted an indulgence.Riley-Smith, Jonathan. "The Oxford History of the Crusades" New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0192853643.]

Elements of the Crusades were criticized by some from the time of their inception in 1095. For example, Roger Bacon felt the Crusades were not effective because, "those who survive, together with their children, are more and more embittered against the Christian faith."Riley-Smith, Jonathan. "The Atlas of the Crusades" New York: Facts on File, 1990. ISBN 0-8160-2186-4.] In spite of some criticism, the movement was still widely supported in Europe long after the fall of Acre in 1291. From that time forward, the Crusades to recover Jerusalem and the Christian East were largely lost. Later, 18th century rationalists judged the Crusaders harshly. As recently as the 1950s, Sir Steven Runciman published a highly critical account of the Crusades which referred to Holy War as "a sin against the Holy Ghost".

The Crusades and Inquisitions of Medieval Europe were partially born out of the effort to drive Muslims out of Europe, an effort that was ultimately successful but that did not improve relations between these religions. Later popes like John Paul II and Benedict XVI have worked for improved relations between these religions by holding ecumenical discussions and trying to find common ground on certain issues.

Medieval Europe consisted of a hundreds of small states and principalities. Simultaneously, Europe faced encroachment of Muslim military forces from both the East via the Balkins and the West via Spain and North Africa. The Roman Catholic Church, representing all of Western Christendom, encouraged crusades against Islamic controlled territories in Europe and in the Holy Land from 1095 through 1272 after Islam had conquered most of the Byzantian empire, including the Holy Land.

The Inquisition

During the Inquisition Spain (and Italy, and sometimes France) pursued those Christians who disagreed with what were believed to be key doctrines of the Catholic Church. Believing that the souls of those deemed to be heretics were in danger of being consigned to hell, the authorities used whatever means they considered necessary to bring about a recantation. Although the Church originally condoned these procedings, it eventually got out of hand and the Pope called for an end to it. It was still widely considered in Europe to be the most merciful judicial system in Europe at that time, as evidenced by records of people blaspheming in secular courts intentionally for them to be brought before the Inquisition for a more just and fair trial.Fact|date=September 2008

Persecution of Jews and "conversos" in Spain

The "Reconquista", the gradual reconquest of Muslim Spain by the Roman Catholic Monarchs, had a strong religious element, just as the earlier Muslim conquest of Spain had had. Spain was being reclaimed for Christendom, not Moors or Jews. Hostility towards Spain’s resident Jews became more pronounced over time, finding expression in brutal episodes of anti-Jewish violence and oppression. Thousands of Jews sought to escape these attacks by converting to Catholicism; they were commonly called "conversos" or New Christians.

In 1492, the Alhambra Decree ordered all remaining Jews who would not convert to Christianity or leave the kingdoms. At first, Jewish conversions seemed an effective solution both for anti-semites and for pragmatic or non-religious Jews who could not easily leave Spain. However, as many "converso" families met with social and commercial success they also came to be widely resented. The derogative term marranos (literally ‘pigs’ in Spanish) became commonplace. The Franciscan, Alphonso de Spina argued in his treatise, Fortalitium Fidei: "They entered your flock, oh Lord!, as greedy wolves. Nobody thinks about the perfidious Jews, who blaspheme in your name".

The influential Dominican, Bishop Lope de Barrientos believed that Jews were human-beings, created in the image of God, and therefore redeemable. However, like many Spanish Catholic clerics of his generation, he also supported the prohibition of Judaism. He believed that Judeo-Spaniards had to convert or leave. However, the Bishop was willing to defend "conversos". He claimed that it is "possible that there are some deserving of condemnation, but even if that is the case, it would be unjust and cruel to debase and defame all people of Jewish heritage". His list of people being of "conversos" descent read like “a veritable ‘Who's Who’ of Spanish nobility” which led to the question “who among the Christians of Spain could be certain that he is not a descendant of those "conversos"?”. [ Roth, Norman (1995) "Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain Inquisition", University of Wisconsin Press;] His reasoned arguments fell on deaf ears.

In many ways, the Spanish Inquisition was a culmination of years of discrimination against "conversos" from which people of Jewish descent often found it impossible to escape. The Spanish Inquisition, established by Roman Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile with the support of Pope Sixtus IV [ Two Papal Bills, 1 November 1477 and 17 October 1483, established the Inquistion throughout the whole of Spain and gave the monarchs exclusive authority to name the inquisitors.] , led to more than 2,000 people being burnt at the stake and many more were cruelly tortured. Most victims were converts from Judaism to Christianity who were suspected of Crypto-Judaism, i.e. retaining Jewish beliefs and observances. [Edwards, John (2003) "Inquisition", Tempus, Gloucestershire, ISBN 0 7524 2857 8;]

In conclusion, “Spanish mistrust of these converted Jews revealed a deep suspicion of Jews in general and brought about ugly and novel stereotypes, particularly the belief that Jewish blood was bad ("mala sangre"), caused bad character, and was irreversible because it was transmitted by heredity from one generation to the next”. [Fischer, K.P. (2001) "The History of an Obsession", Continuum, New York & London, ISBN 0 8264 1327 7, p.36;] Historian Klaus P. Fischer believes that, in this way, Spanish Catholic prejudice led to “biological racism” making “its first appearance in history”. [Fischer, K.P. (2001) "The History of an Obsession", Continuum, New York & London, ISBN 0 8264 1327 7, p.36;]

Anti-semitism elsewhere in Europe

Whilst anti-Semitism predated the foundation of the Roman Church, “anti-Jewishness in ancient times did not possess a strong religious and definitely not a racial framework”. [Fischer, K.P. (2001) "The History of an Obsession", Continuum, New York & London, ISBN 0 8264 1327 7, p.27;] Historian Klaus P. Fischer argues that given that Jesus Christ was a Jew, and Christianity began as a small heretical Jewish sect, it is ironic then it was only with the growing influence of the Roman Church that a coherent anti-Jewish ideology evolved.

One important early father of the Roman Church, John Chrysostom, held Jews responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and deicide (killing God, see "Jewish deicide" for the subject) and added that they continued to rejoice in Jesus's death. [William I. Brustein, "Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust", (Cambridge University Press:2003) ISBN 0-521-77308-3, p.52.] He compared the synagogue to a pagan temple, representing it as the source of all vices and heresies. ["John Chrysostom" in "Encyclopedia Judaica".] He described it as a place worse than a brothel and a drinking shop; it was a den of scoundrels, the repair of wild beasts, a temple of demons, the refuge of brigands and debauchees, and the cavern of devils, a criminal assembly of the assassins of Christ. [Laqueur, Walter (2006) "The Changing Face of Antisemitism: From Ancient Times To The Present Day", Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-530429-2. 48, p.47 - 48;]

It is hardly surprising then that as soon as a state became Roman Catholic an assortment of legal restrictions against Jews began in earnest [Fischer, K.P. (2001) "The History of an Obsession", Continuum, New York & London, ISBN 0 8264 1327 7, p.28;] and “by the end of the Middle Ages most of the elements of modern Judeophobia had been formed”. [Fischer, K.P. (2001) "The History of an Obsession", Continuum, New York & London, ISBN 0 8264 1327 7, p.35;]

The Fourth Council of the Lateran, summoned by Pope Innocent III with his papal bull of 19 April 1213, approved ‘Canon 68’. It required Jews to wear special dress to enable them to be distinguished from Christians. Jews were also forbidden to hold any public offices.

In the 19th century, Pope Pius VII (1800-1823) had the walls of the Jewish Ghetto in Rome rebuilt after the Jews were released by Napoleon, and Jews were restricted to the Ghetto until the end of the Papal States in 1870.

Persecution and killing of Protestants

Before the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had a uniquely powerful position in the political order of medieval western Europe; its clergymen occupied a privileged location in the social class structure; and, theologically, it claimed to be the only legitimate Christian Church. Because Protestantism emerged from within the Roman Catholic Church, and began as a protest (hence the name ‘protest-ant’) against Roman Catholic worldly practice and religious doctrine, the Papacy and Catholic rulers felt compelled to deal with Protestantism as a dangerous, destabilising influence in politics and society, as well as characterising Protestants as heretical and schismatic. Minorities could be dealt with harshly but where Protestants gained a degree of political influence the Roman Catholic Church were willing to support full-scale wars of religion. This willingness occasionally led to complete success. For example, as historian Jardslav Jan Pelikan pointed out, “the victory of the Halsburg Counter-Reformation in Bohemia and the defeat of Czech Protestantism were a consequence of the Battle of White Mountain (1620)”.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was ultimately obliged to accept the reality of co-existence with Protestants. A great many people died in religious wars before this settlement.

Martin Luther, the 'Father of Protestantism', ["Challenges to Authority: The Renaissance in Europe: A Cultural Enquiry", Volume 3, Ed. by Peter Elmer, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2000, page 25;] was excommunicated by Leo X on January 3, 1521, in the bull Decet Romanum Pontificem. The Edict of Worms on May 25, 1521, declared Luther an outlaw, banning his writings, and demanding his immediate arrest: "We want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic". [Bratcher, Dennis. " [ The Edict of Worms (1521)] ," in "The Voice: Biblical and Theological Resources for Growing Christians". Retrieved 3 August 2008;] It also made it a crime for anyone to give Luther food or shelter. Worse, it permitted anyone to kill Luther without legal consequence.

In England, Lord Chancellor Thomas More burnt six Lutherans and imprisoned as many as forty others [Article published by European Institute of Protestant Studies, 27 May 2002] before he himself was executed for failure to support King Henry VIII's claim to be the supreme spiritual authority in England.

With the support of the Roman Catholic Church, Queen Mary I of England, revived the Heresy Acts that had been abolished by her Protestant half -brother and thereby instigated the Marian Persecutions. The persecution lasted for almost four years. It is not known exactly how many died. John Foxe estimates in his "Book of Martyrs" that 284 were executed for their faith.

In Spain, the Spanish Inquisition led to the persecution of Protestants, among others. The first trials against Lutheran groups, as such, took place between 1558 and 1562, at the beginning of the reign of Philip II, against two communities of Protestants from the cities of Valladolid and Seville. Even the revisionist historian Henry Kamen estimates there were about 100 executions of Spanish Protestants between 1559 and 1566. [ Henry Kamen, "The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision", Yale University Press, 1999, p. 99;] The Spanish also set up the Council of Troubles in the Netherlands. According to Jonathan Israel, 8,950 individuals, mainly Protestants, were convicted of heresy or treason. As most of these were tried "in absentia", however, only about 1,000 of these sentences were carried out. The other convicts had to live in exile, their possessions confiscated. [aut|Israel, J.I. (1995), "The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness and Fall, 1477-1806", Oxford University Press,ISBN 0-19-873072-1 hardback, ISBN 0-19-820734-4 paperback, pp. 156-157;]

In France, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (1572) set shock-waves throughout Europe. Between 30,000 and 100,000 Protestants were murdered. [ [ Paris and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre: August 24, 1572] ] Nevertheless, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a Te Deum to be sung as a special thanksgiving (a practice continued for many years after) and had a medal struck with the motto "Ugonottorum strages 1572" showing an angel bearing a cross and sword next to slaughtered Protestants. [Carter Lindberg: "The European Reformations" (Blackwell, 1996) p.295] Later, Louis XIV of France issued the Edict of Fontainebleau. On January 17 1686, Louis XIV himself claimed that out of a Protestant Huguenot population of 800,000 to 900,000, only 1,000 to 1,500 had remained in France. Perhaps as many as 110,000 perished.Fact|date=August 2008 The remainder emigrated.

In Poland, outrage at the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France led to the Warsaw Confederation (28 January 1573), an important measure of Religious toleration. Unfortunately, in 1668, less than a century later, The Polish Diet made conversions from Catholicism punishable by death and confiscation of all the family’s property. [ "Atlas of the Christian Church " (1987) Ed. By Chadwick, H. & Evans, G.R., Macmillan, London, p.112; ]

In Austria, Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor closed Protestant churches and outlawed Protestant marriages and burials. [ "Atlas of the Christian Church" (1987) Ed. By Chadwick, H. & Evans, G.R., Macmillan, London, p.112; ] Finally, in 1597, he expelled Protestants from the whole of Austria. [ cite book |title= Atlas of World History|last= Barraclough|first= Geoffrey|year= 1993|publisher= Harper-Collins|location= London|pages= p.179; ] During the course of the next 130 years or so, Salzburg became home to around 21,500 Protestants. In 1731, the Catholic Archbishop of Salzburg, Leopold Anton Eleutherius von Firmian (1679-1744), issued an Edict of Expulsion to the city’s Protestants. The Salzburg Expulsion of Protestants became infamous and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German writer, wrote the poem "Hermann and Dorothea" in honour of the exiles.

With the consolidation of Protestantism, the extirpation of 'heretics' became a much broader and more complex enterprise, complicated by the politics of territorial Protestant powers, especially in northern Europe. Persecution of Protestant groups ended only as Europe's rulers tired of fighting each other, despite the objections of the pope, especially with at the end of the Thirty Years' War. The educational and propagandistic work of the Counter-Reformation became more common in these circumstances than the judicial approach to heresy and massacres. Nevertheless, well into the twentieth century, Catholics - even if no longer resorting to persecution - still defined Protestants as heretics. For example, Hillaire Belloc one of the most conspicuous speakers for Catholicism in Britain, was outspoken about the "Protestant heresy".

Post-Reformation wars of religion

Before the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had a uniquely powerful position in the political order of medieval western Europe; its clergymen occupied a privileged location in the social class structure; and, theologically, it claimed to be the only legitimate Christian Church. Because Protestantism emerged from within the Roman Catholic Church, and began as a protest (hence the name ‘protest-ant’) against Roman Catholic worldly practice and religious doctrine, the Papacy and Catholic rulers felt compelled to deal with Protestantism as a dangerous, destabilising influence in politics and society, as well as characterising Protestants as heretical and schismatic. Minorities could be dealt with harshly but where Protestants gained a degree of political influence the Roman Catholic Church were willing to support full-scale wars of religion. This willingness occasionally led to complete success. For example, as historian Jardslav Jan Pelikan pointed out, “the victory of the Halsburg Counter-Reformation in Bohemia and the defeat of Czech Protestantism were a consequence of the Battle of White Mountain (1620)”.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was ultimately obliged to accept the reality of co-existence with Protestants. A great many people died in religious wars before this settlement.

Switzerland was driven by Religious civil war in 1529 and 1531 – the First war of Kappel and the Second war of Kappel. The peace that ended the war, the so-called "Zweiter Landfrieden" (Second Territorial Peace), ultimately resulted in the establishment of side-by-side religious coexistence in several Swiss subject territories. The treaty also confirmed each canton's right to practice either the Catholic or Reformed faith, thus defining the Swiss Confederation as a state with two religions, a relative novelty in Western Europe.

Germany witnessed the Schmalkaldic War from 1546 to 1547. However, nothing could compare to the suffering caused by the Thirty Years' War (1618 to 1648). Over the course of the war, the population of the German states was reduced by about 30%.cite web|url=|title=The Thirty Years War (1618-48)|publisher=Twentieth Century Atlas|accessdate=2008-05-24] The war was concluded with the Treaty of Münster, a part of the wider Peace of Westphalia. cite web|url=|title=Avoiding a Thirty Years War||work=The Washington Post|date=2006-12-21|author=Richard W. Rahn|accessdate=] All parties would now have to recognize the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, by which each prince would have the right to determine the religion of his own state, the options being Catholicism, Lutheranism, and now Calvinism (the principle of "cuius regio, eius religio"). Furthermore, Christians living in principalities where their denomination was "not" the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in public during allotted hours and in private at their will. Pope Innocent X declared the treaty “null, void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane, empty of meaning and effect for all times”. European Sovereigns, Catholic and Protestant alike, ignored his verdict. [ Simon, Edith (1966) "Great Ages of Man: The Reformation". Time-Life Books, ISBN 0662278208, pp. 120-121; ]

The French Wars of Religion (1562 to 1598) were also very damaging. However, these wars too resulted in a substantial measure of religious toleration for Protestants. When Henry IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes. “This crucifies me”, protested Pope Clement VIII, upon hearing of the Edict. (Less than a hundred years later, the anti-Protestant Louis XIV of France issued the Edict of Fontainebleau (October 1685) in which he revoked the the Edict of Nantes and contributed towards the sufferings of the Huguenots).

The Dutch Revolt ((1568 to 1648) against the Catholic Spanish resulted in "de jure" independence for the Dutch Republic and the extension of Dutch control over the territories that were conquered in the later stages of the war.cite journal
last = Osiander
first = Andreas
year = 2001
month = Spring
title = Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth
journal = International Organization
volume = 55
issue = 2
pages = 251–287
doi = 10.1162/00208180151140577

Asian subcontinent

Sisters of Mother Teresa's order were imprisoned on proselytism charges in India. Church officials reply that the nuns were illegally imprisoned and that they do not proseltize the dying AIDS patients they are caring for. [ Sisters of Mother Teresa imprisoned on proselytism charges] ]


Roman Catholic Church has a history of Anti-communism. In fact Pope John Paul II was harsh critic of communism [] , other popes shared this view as well, for example Pope Pius IX issued Papal encyclical called Quanta Cura in which he called "Communism and Socialism" the most fatal error [] .

Russia and Eastern Europe

After the end of communism in Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church experienced a resurgence. The recent expansion of the Catholic population in Russia strained the Catholic-Russian Orthodox relationship. Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow has demanded that the Vatican curb "proselytism" by Catholic clerics in Russia and eastern Europe. [ End Catholic "proselytism," Russian Patriarch demands] ] Catholic officials have replied that their efforts in Russia were not aimed at Orthodox believers, but were reaching out to the vast majority of Russians who are not churchgoers.

According to Roman Catholic Church CDF document called " [ Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization] ", the Church doesn't see that as proselytism but rather as evangelism, although it's converting Orthodox Christians (at least nominally) to Catholicism. The Eastern Orthodox Church beliefs are closer to Roman Catholic than any other Christian denomination. They are so close that the two churches have recently discussed reunification but this goal has not yet been achieved. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =Roman Catholic-Eastern Orthodox Dialogue | work = | publisher =Public Broadcasting Service | date =2000-07-14 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate =2008-02-16 ]

exual abuse controversy

In 2002, allegations of priests sexually abusing children were widely reported in the news media. It became clear that the officials of various Catholic dioceses were aware of some of the abusive priests, and shuffled them from parish to parish (sometimes after psychotherapy), in some cases without removing them from contact with children. It is estimated that up to 3% of U.S. priests were involved. [Grossman, Cathy Lynn. [ "Survey: More clergy abuse cases than previously thought."] "USA Today" (February 10, 2004). Retrieved July 21, 2007]

Some of these reassignments were egregrious, the worst leading to the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law from the Boston archdiocese. Victims of such abuse filed lawsuits against a number of dioceses, resulting in multi-million dollar settlements in some cases. Similar allegations of abuse in Ireland led to the publication of the Ferns report in 2005, which stated that appropriate action was not taken in response to the allegations.

In response, the Vatican focused on the issue of homosexuality within the clergy, mainly because over 90% of the sexual abuse victims were teenage boys rather than girls or prepubescents.

Pope John Paul II's apology

In May 1995, Pope John Paul II apologised for whatever offences had been committed by members of the Catholic Church. Again, as part of the Church's desire for reconciliation at the turn of the millennium, in 2000 he asked publicly for pardon "for the sins of Catholics throughout the ages". [cite web |url= |title=Pope Asks Forgiveness for Sins By Catholics Through the Ages |accessdate=2008-01-08 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=AP] [ [ Beliefnet report on apology] accessed March 26, 2008]

ee also

* Anti-Catholicism
* Roman Catholicism's links with political authorities
* King-James-Only Movement
* Anti-Protestantism
* Anti-Christianity
* Anti-clericalism

Notes and references

External links

* [ Calvinist perspective on Roman Catholicism] , by CARM
*LCMS' [ perspective on Roman Catholicism]

* [ The Catholic Guide] – A comprehensive source on the Roman Catholic Church.
* [ Catholic Wiki] – A wiki site dedicated to the Catholic Church.

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