It seems the rabidly anti-Catholic Protestants are getting under a few skins. Michelle Arnold writes about one Protestant’s diatribe that compares Catholicism to tribal African religions. Then Richmond Catholic discovers a Virginia based writer who makes claims of a Vatican based conspiracy to subvert the US government.
I have lived in all regions of the United States and there is this sort of bigotry everywhere. There does seem to be a stronghold of such thought in the American South. When I lived in Niceville, Florida there was a local Evangelical Protestant preacher who would take out a small advertisement in the local newspaper once per week in order to propagate lies about Catholicism. So, how do we respond?
In my opinion, the most effective apologetics response to this sort of blatant misinformation is to provide effective catechesis to current Catholics. The reason these bigoted mouthpieces can get away with their inaccurate proclamations of what Catholics believe is because we as Catholics are so poor at articulating what we truly believe. Imagine if everyone could explain the difference between the veneration of saints and the worship of God. Imagine if everyone could articulate the Church teaching on Mary and her role in God’s plan for salvation. What if everyone recognized the Petrine passages of scripture that authorize the papacy? Imagine if everyone in the pew on Sunday really understood the teaching of the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. What if everyone understood the central role of the Eucharist in the celebration of Mass? We might not have so many people advocating a happy-clappy touchy-feely don't-we-feel-good-about-ourselves style of liturgy.
In addition, I think we need to focus more energy on reclaiming our lukewarm and non-practicing Catholics. Thousands upon thousands of people identify themselves as Catholic but never set foot in a Catholic Church until dear Aunt Mary Margaret dies and they have to attend the funeral. Of course I am thrilled whenever someone who was not raised a Catholic “swims the Tiber” to join the Church. I would never advocate ignoring the opportunity to evangelize to non-Catholics. However, I see an even greater opportunity in evangelizing to our own poorly catechized. Every Christmas and Easter, every baptism, every First Communion, every Catholic wedding should include a welcoming appeal to those who have been away from the Church. If we gathered in all of our wandering sheep the sheer numbers would overwhelm the effect of these preachers of falsehoods.