Catholicism: the OG Christianity


Allie Weber

Despite all the inaccurate assumptions, Catholics and Chritians aren’t all that different (Photo Courtesy of Allie Weber).

Catholicism, known as the universal religion, is practiced by over 1.2 billion people worldwide. With its capital in one of the largest cities in the world and its leader, Pope Francis, being a Twitter icon, I find it difficult to believe that so little is known or understood about Catholicism by those of other religions, especially in the southern United States.

The Bible Belt is dominated by Protestant denominations, such as Baptist and Methodist groups, so it’s extremely rare to find Catholic churches on every street corner, as opposed to other types of Christian churches. This is partially the reason for the miscommunication and confusion on what Catholics believe in and support. Contrary to popular belief, Catholics are Christians. We believe in the same God, have most of the same books in the Bible, and go to church on Sundays. So why are the two so often seen as completely different religions? 

Protestantism was formed around 1517 when Martin Luther posted his Theses on the cathedral’s door. This rebuked the indulgences the Catholic Church’s leaders were wrongfully imposing on the public and a few of the church’s beliefs, including the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Once created, the Protestant churches founded their beliefs on “The Three Solas”: sola scriptura, sola fide, and sola gratia. These beliefs grant those who follow them a place in Heaven. In addition to creating these, this denomination removed seven of the books from the Catholic Bible. 

The Catholic Church can be rooted back to the teachings of Jesus Christ during the first century CE. Catholics believe that Jesus appointed the apostle Peter as the first Pope of the catholic church. Catholics also believe that to make it to heaven, one must have full faith in God. In addition, followers must do good works during their life on Earth, which  isn’t strictly enforced by Protestant denominations. 

One misconception about Catholics is that they worship Mary and the Saints in heaven, which is most certainly false. We pray to Mary and the Saints so that they may intercede for us. This is the equivalent of someone asking another to pray for them but instead with the Mother of Christ and the Saints that came before us. In addition to this, Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the true body of Christ. While other Christian denominations think of it as a symbol, we believe that it is His actual body, once blessed by a priest. There have been dozens of miracles in which scientists have studied the Eucharist after masses, and it has been identified as part of the tissue in the heart that cannot be reached by surgery. 

Having grown up in the south, I have heard the phrase “you’re Catholic?” exclaimed many times because being a Catholic is a rarity. I’ve had such a difficult time understanding the walls that seem to be put up between the denominations; each denomination virtually does the same things. But if we understand each other more, those walls can begin to come down, and we can become more accepting of our brothers and sisters in Christ.