The Catholic faith has a rich and valuable history, especially when it comes to the holidays. Many Protestants find this branch of Christianity mysterious and perhaps a little scary. Catholicism is considered a Christian denomination, and knowing the basics of this faith helps demystify it. You may find some aspects of Catholicism draw you closer to God.
Do Catholics Worship Saints and Mary?
This is a common misconception about Catholicism and Catholics. Protestants interpret veneration of Mary and saints as worship, and therefore blasphemous. However, Catholics vehemently deny worshipping these people. To a Catholic, “praying” to Mary or a saint is the equivalent of asking for prayer from an earthly believer. Catholics pray to specific saints out of a belief that those saints have unique understandings of their situations.
Is the Pope/Church Infallible?
Protestants accuse Catholics of holding up the Pope and church authorities as infallible – thus equal to God, even though they are humans. Actually, infallibility does not refer to individuals’ decisions. It refers only to definitive teachings within the Catholic Church. Additionally, Catholic teachings are not held up as perfect nor the final word on any topic.
Do Catholics Believe Souls Can Be Prayed Out of Hell?
No. This misconception comes from misuse of indulgences, which are used in hopes of lessening a soul’s eternal sentence. However, like Protestants, Catholics believe that a person’s eternal destination – heaven or hell – is final.
What About Purgatory?
Purgatory is an oft-disputed Catholic teaching. Purgatory is a final purification process before a soul enters Heaven. If your soul was going to hell to begin with, purgatory is not a “second chance.” Your time in purgatory depends on how much purification you need, which is why many Catholics pray for departed Christian souls.