Catholic – or Christian?

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Last week I stopped off, mid-morning, to have a cup of coffee in Wimbledon. The cheerful waitress asked me if I was a Catholic priest. Then she went on to tell me that she was a Catholic, but her friend had said that she needed to become a Christian and get baptised. I explained that she was already a Christian, and (whatever else she might have needed in the way of sacraments) she had already been baptised, and only once was possible.

She seemed puzzled by my assertion that Catholic and Christian were not opposites. I simplified. ‘Everyone who follows Jesus Christ is a Christian. The majority are Catholic Christians, in the East there are mainly Orthodox Christians, and some are called Protestant Christians.’ I went on, ‘I expect you know that all Muslims are followers of Mohammad, but some are Sunni Muslims and some are Shia Muslims.’ Yes, indeed, she had heard of this and so she grasped the answer to her Catholic/Christian question.

But I was left with a nagging resentment, not against the waitress’ friend, but against whoever had taught her that Catholics were not Christians. For such people have claimed the name Christian as exclusively theirs. No doubt they and I would disagree over significant parts of the Faith, including some of its fundamentals. As Protestant Christians they would maintain that I had added things which were not in the Bible. As a Catholic Christian I would maintain that they had arbitrarily cut out parts of the Bible they didn’t like, and were ignoring 2,000 years of Christian history during which the Holy Spirit had been very active. What I would not and could not do is deny that they are Christians, if they believe in God the Trinity, have been baptised in the three-fold name of God, and are sincerely trying to live the Christian Way.

So, please my Christian brothers and sisters, let us have no more of this. And coming at this story from a completely different angle, does it not prove the value of the clerical collar. Without it my cheerful waitress would never have engaged me in this discussion. My French friends who recently complained to me about ‘invisible clergy’ surely have a point.

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About Scott Anderson

Formerly an Anglican priest (ordained 1975) received into the Catholic Church in February 2012, and ordained to the Diaconate on 27th July 2013. I took early retirement, and divide my time between London and northern France. I am deeply committed to the Ordinariate as a gift of the Holy Spirit in the search for unity. Like many Ordinariate members I feel a personal gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict, together with loyalty to our Holy Father, Pope Francis. My blog tries to make a small contribution to the growth of the Ordinariate by asking questions (and proposing some answers) about the 'Anglican Patrimony'. I have always been fascinated by the whole issue of growth and decline, and therefore concerned for appropriate means of evangelisation in western Europe. I believe that the Holy Spirit is constantly renewing the People of God and that we must be open to him. My love of music and motorcycles will occasionally surface in my posts. On Saturday 19th October 2013, I was ordained to the Priesthood at Most Precious Blood, Borough, by the Most Revd Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, for the service of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. I continued to serve the Ordinariate group and Parish at Most Precious Blood until the end of 2014. Subsequently, I helped in the care of the Ordinariate Groups at Hemel Hempstead and Croydon, and in the Archdiocese of Southwark, until the beginning of September 2015. With the agreement of my Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, the Bishop of Amiens appointed me Administrator of the Parish of Notre Dame des Etangs (Pont Remy) in Picardie, France. This appointment is to last for a year, to give the Bishop the opportunity to assess the future of the parish.
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10 Responses to Catholic – or Christian?

  1. Eliza says:

    Because Catholics follow a false christ and add to the Word of God, the Bible, and believe that the sacraments save them in addition to faith, then compared with the biblical definition of “Christian” Catholics are not “Christians”. Now if you follow the world’s definition of christian, then, of course, you are.

    • Thank you, Eliza. You sadly illustrate my point perfectly.

    • Eliza says:

      Well I am in good company with Jesus Christ, the prophets and the apostles who opposed false teaching and anything that contradicts the truth that is found exclusively in the Bible. I would rather be in their company than the company that opposes God because they oppose God’s Word which is the exclusive well of the truth and will reap the consequences. God bless us.

      • thespia says:

        Eliza, who gave us the Bible? Who canonized it?

      • Eliza says:

        Sorry, that sorry logic won’t wash. Scripture was recognized as Scripture long before it was “canonized” by men. If you are familiar with the New Testament writings then you will see that is true. As Scripture says:

        We have also a more sure word of prophecy; where unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:19-21

        Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:14-16

        Peter, by the Holy Spirit, lets us know where the Scriptures originated and then “canonizes” Paul’s epistles, or letters, as Scripture. God doesn’t need the acknowledgement of men to prove that His Word is His Word.

        There you have it, holy men of God, Paul being one, moved by the Holy Spirit gave us the Bible. It is peculiar that it took the “church” so long to recognize that fact. God bless us.

      • Eliza, thank you for your opening lines, for a beautiful description of the Body of Christ, the worldwide Church, a “good company with Jesus Christ, the prophets and the apostles”. I shall hold that very close today – the day of the Resurrection!

  2. thespia says:

    Great story. Do French priests not wear clerical identifiers?

    • In my experience the older clergy do not wear the clerical collar or cassock in public, but some of the younger clergy do.

      • I am French, a so-called cradle Catholic. I live in Luxembourg where I have spent the last thirty years. Yes, definitely young French priests are more inclined to be visible. If you have a look at these short videos produced by the Paris diocese you will be struck by the fact that most of these young men who were ordained on June 25th, 2015 wear the clerical collar.


        This reminds me of an anecdote which happened to me some years ago. I was having a light dinner with a friend of mine in a restaurant in Luxembourg. This friend is an Opus Dei priest. We were having our pizza and a glass of wine when a gentleman suddenly interrupted our conversation. He turned to my friend and said : well you are a Catholic priest, happy to meet you! The gentleman, who by the way was a very nice and friendly person, happened to be a priest on a trip from the United States. However nobody could have told given the clothes he wore…:-). Quite an interesting contrast it was.

  3. Eliza says:

    The things that take away from the truth of the Scripture or add to the Word of God remove us from the company of Jesus Christ, His Apostles and the Prophets. Jesus Christ came to bear witness to the truth and fulfill the Law and the Prophets, how can we as His followers think that we can go after the broad way, the way that enshrines the teachings and doctrines of men in hearts and minds rather than the Bible and not be removed from His way? Jesus Christ calls us to follow the narrow way, the way of life, the way of trusting the Savior and believing what He has told us in His Word the Bible. God bless us.

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