(The partial article below can be read in full at the link at the bottom of this post.)
written by: Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
It is very common today to hear Catholics call a Protestant “a Christian,” or even, “a good Christian.” In the United States, it was already a practice before Vatican II because of the tendency of American Catholics to accommodate Protestantism, whose tonus dominated the social and business spheres. Then, there was the question of adaptation as prominent Protestants joined the Catholic faith, or Catholics entered into marriages with Protestants. It was just easier to call everyone “Christian.” Supposedly it underplayed differences. It was meant to create the impression that Catholics and Protestants were cousins in one big, happy family. Pope Leo XIII condemned this tolerance toward Protestantism under the name of Americanism, the heresy of Americanism, to be more precise.
Our Lord delivers the keys of His Church to St. Peter
Pietro Perugino, 15th century, Sistine Chapel
After Vatican II, needless to say, the practice of calling Protestants Christians has snowballed, with the official conciliar documents assuming this same impropriety. Hence, the Holy See, Prelates and priests have made its use as widespread as possible. Accommodation to Protestantism in our days has reached such a point that some Catholics, to distinguish between Catholics and their Protestant “separated brethren,” call themselves Catholic Christians. A redundancy if I’ve ever heard one. Only Catholics can be true Christians. No one who dissents from the Roman Catholic Church can be a Christian. The terms are synonymous.
Every time I hear the term Christian used for Protestants, I cringe. [emphasis, mine.] Its usage clearly nourishes a trend toward a dangerous religious indifferentism, which denies the duty of man to worship God by believing and practicing the one true Catholic Religion. ….