It seems to have become the fashion these days, particularly in the US, to tell other Catholics who might disagree with one’s particular take on Catholicism that, “You are not Catholic.” The phrase, “You are not Christian,” tends to be hurled in a parallel manner by those of Protestant bent, in particular the evangelicals. Both phrases, however, are theologically incorrect, not to mention that such phrases are often used as weapons toward the ‘undesirable’ other Catholic/Christian by the ever-so-correct under the rationalization of evangelization. An analogous weapon seems to be the phrase, “You are not part of the Body of Christ.”
Leaving aside, for the moment, that the word Catholic means universal, not parochial, thus any parochialism or tribalism under the name of the Faith is to be eschewed, one becomes a Catholic Christian by being baptized with the Trinitarian formula in the Catholic Church. In a similar manner, one becomes a Christian, as the term has been appropriated and is understood by several evangelicals, by being baptized by another Christian using the Trinitarian formula. And let us not even consider here the baptism of desire and the baptism of blood.
So who is a ‘real’ Catholic? Who is a ‘real’ Christian?
Both of the above persons given as example are real Christians and the first is a Catholic Christian. This ontological change occurs no matter whether one of them professes what is either to the liking or the disliking of the other. Both of them form part of the Body of Christ, since both have been validly baptized with the Trinitarian formula – irrespective of whether the self-righteous like it or not, or if they can or cannot prop up their own egos. Whether one is a practicing Christian or a practicing Catholic, or a good/bad Christian or a good/bad Catholic, does not enter into the equation.
For Catholics, therefore, to tell other similarly baptized Catholics, “You are not Catholic,” because the former disagree with the latter, is an oxymoronic, but highly misleading, statement that is unreflective of the truth. The widespread use of these phrases also reveals what seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the ‘phrase-throwers’ (who would ‘evangelize’ others), in relation to what and who constitutes the Church and the Body of Christ. This leaves one wondering if the situation is not one of the proverbial case of the blind leading the equally blind. The same holds true for those who consider themselves just Christians.