Is a "Catholic" congregation being led by an excommunicated priest technically Protestant?

This may by IMHO, but…

I was reading this article about a breakaway church in Rochester, NY that has a woman pastor, blesses gay unions, and serves communion to anyone. The congregation still considers itself Catholic, and I’m sure the services are probably no different from a regular Catholic mass (other than the female pastor). But if they’re telling the Church to get bent when it comes to certain fundamental matters, doesn’t that make them Protestant?

Also, is the essence of Protestantism the rejection of Catholicism? Are there “Protestant” denominations that exist in rejection of the Orthodox church?

There are a number of variant Catholic denominations like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Old_Catholic_Churches

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Catholic_Church

I think it’s a matter of definition what you want to call them. They don’t usually think of themselves as Protestants. The Catholic Church doesn’t usually think of them as Catholics.

Is the Eastern Orthodox Church Protestant? If you have an answer there, it may apply in this situation, too. Generally, Protestant = formed during the Reformation. This excludes LDS/Mormons, as well as for other reasons. Anglicans are also sometimes not considered Protestant, mostly due to practice.

So, many Protestant churches were not formed by breaking off from the Catholic Church, at least not directly (e.g. Catholic > Anglican > Methodist). It doesn’t make them less Protestant. Others broke off, like the above mentioned Old Catholics, but they still consider themselves as keeping up the same tradition, so aren’t counted as Protestant. They also don’t usually get into Protestant theology, e.g. sola fide, Biblical inerrancy, Calvinism/Arminianism.

We have a breakaway Catholic congregationhere in St. Louis and neither the church, nor the priest, nor the members considers it “Protestant.” The church hierarchy considers it to be “in schism” while the congregation considers themselves to be still Catholic despite the hierarchy’s withdrawl of recognition. The priest considers himself to be an ordained Catholic priest, and therefore, a preist forever.

I’ve wondered the same thing about schizmatic Catholics. It really boils down to how you define your terms.

If you define “Protestant” to mean a Christian religious tradition that has broken away from the Roman Catholic Church (directly, or indirectly by breaking from a Protestant church), then schizmatic Catholics such as SSPX and Sedevacantists are most certainly Protestant.

If you define “Protestant” to mean a Christian religious tradition descending from those originating in the 1500’s and deriving from the teachings of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Menno Simons, King Henry VIII, etc., then schizmatic Catholics are not part of that movement, because they broke away much later, adhere to beliefs much different than most Protestants, and do not identify with the movement.

I’m pretty sure that the Catholic Church teaches that ordination as a priest is permanent and cannot be lost due to either misbehavior or schism.

There are some churches that are separated from the Roman Catholic Church on doctrine issues and some on organizational issues; there are Protestant churches that have formed from both sorts of schisms because they did not want to accept the RCC’s way of doing things, and the term is generally used to mean only those churches that broke away during the Early Modern Reformation. However, one could consider the question of whether these churches share the same characteristics as Protestant ones. Protestant churches affirmed themselves generally on justification through faith alone, the Bible being the source of all doctrine, and that all believers were capable of determining its meaning, not just the clergy. From this definition the Church of England wasn’t initially Protestant as the reason they went into schism is entirely organizational. After breaking with the Church politically they were more receptive to the ideals of the Reformation and so adopted many doctrines typical of them.

Recently, there are local churches that would like to continue to be part of the RCC, except that that the RCC has made some really stupid decisions in their eyes. For some urban areas, it’s closing down churches in the places where people actually go to church and leaving up the bishop’s church that no one attends any more. Thus, the congregation still wishes to be part of the church led by the Pope, but refuses to recognize the Pope’s delegated authority through their bishop. Thus while they want to believe that they are Roman Catholics still, and may feel in their heart of hearts that they are following the Church in all spiritual matters, but part of being in the RCC in reality is accepting the authority of the Pope and the Pope’s delegated officers in organizational matters as well. While their intent is pure, and they may accept the doctrine of the Pope, they are equivalent to the Eastern Catholic churches (not Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic) that were in essence never organized from Rome but maintain spiritual deference to the Bishop of Rome’s doctrine. To call these churches Protestant is inaccurate, as there is no reason to believe that they will ever disavow the spiritual precedence of Rome.

If there’s priests out there who consider themselves part of the RCC still despite continuing to preach what has been ruled as heresy, they’re not good candidates for being called Protestant either as they still presumably hold most of the central beliefs. They have no desire to break from the church, but still refuse to recant their heresies. In this sense they are more like Arianism or Nestorianism, who disagree on some minor theological point that has little to do with how one approaches the religion, as opposed to Protestantism that goes an entirely new direction with what it means to be a Good Christian.

Do you mean Episcopal? Or did the Methodist Church also grow out of the Anglican church?

Sacramental character.

If one is defrocked, that does not mean that they are excommunicated or even frowned at. One can do it willingly, for example. However, it is considered a bad thing if a defrocked priest continues to administer sacraments, as happens with many schismatics.

The Methodist Church grew out of the Anglican church.

John Wesley didn’t start out to found a new church, he set out to reach out to people who were being overlooked by the Anglican church of his day. Plus, John, his brother Charles (who wrote many a hymn–some of which are still sung today) and some college friends who studied the Bible together got called Methodists for their methodical ways.

They are not exactly but pretty much the same thing. The church in the US is called “Episcopal,” but they are in full communion with the Church of England, which is typically called “Anglican.”

I was taught in my history and reilgious studies classes to limit the term protestant to churches that were formed as part of the protestant reformation, as well as their descendants. However, Methodists were still considered protestant for some reason.

Buncha stuff:

  1. The Anglican Communion is the group of autonomous national churches in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the leader of the Church of England. Think of the relationship among the Orthodox churches and their relationship to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople, not the monarchical authority of the Pope.) For historical reasons, several national churches, including the US and Scotland, use the adjective “Episcopal” rather than “Anglican” “English-ish”) in their names.

  2. “Protestant” means whatever you want it to mean; there’s no precise definition. But it generally is used for the churches that formed or schismed from Cathoicism at the Reformation, and the groups that broke off from them: Lutherans, Reformed, Presbyterian, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Nazarene, Holiness…

  3. The Church of Rome is the largest of the groups that self-identify as “Catholic” by several orders of magnitude, but it’s far from being the only one. By its definition, of course, everyone not in communion with the Pope is Protestant – which thus becomes equivalent to “invertebrate” as an umbrella term for everyone not matching certain criteria. But as used by the self-identifying groups, a focus on sacramental theology, Apostoolic Tradition, weekly if not daily Eucharist, making private Confession available, etc., as opposed to Bible- and sermon*centric worship and theology, are Catholic.

  4. According to Catholic teaching, ordination places an indelible mark on the spirit of the recipient. There’s no such thing as an ex-priest. However, those who “leave the priesthood” … actually, leave active ministry, such as a Catholic priest wishing to marry … are impeded from licitly celebrating the sacraments except in life-threatening emergency, or with the explicit permission of the bishop. For example, a laicized priest can and should administer last rites in a disaster when an active priest cannot get to the dying person in time.

Agreed, the point being that no one involved considers the church “Protestant.”