The local Catholic church used to run a column in the paper explaining their faith to a largely Baptist audience. This is one that always resonated with me.
This is a transcript of a yellow, faded article- brittle now with age- that I cut out and saved. The part I particularly like I highlighted in blue:
Catholic Approach To The Bible
Sept. 15, 1982
ORDERS 5: THE WAY THINGS ARE
The priest is a man chosen from among men to offer sacrifice and to lead the People of God in the worship of the Lord. Of him, as of the apostles, it can be said: “You have not chosen Me-I have chosen you” (John 15:16). Jesus is the vine; all others are branches on that vine. Without Him, nothing happens; with Him, great things happen, especially in the inner depths where each of us meets God.
The spectacle of religion without a priest is relatively recent. After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., there was no further Jewish priesthood. The morning and evening sacrifices which had been offered there and there alone (Deuteronomy 12) for centuries, suddenly ceased. Synagogues became places for reading of the Law and the Prophets throughout the Diaspora, but these services were conducted without priests. Lay-organizations prayed together and studied the Sacred Writings together, and with the passage of item a set format developed.
Islam is the name peculiar to the religion founded by Mohammed (570-632 A.D.). It is fiercely monotheistic: Allah is the only God, and Mohammed is His prophet. Islam has no real clerical cast, no liturgy (other than prayer five times a day), no church organization, and no monasticism.
Just as the Jews have certain outstanding rabbis who enjoy great prestige (Maimonides, for example), the Moslems have their special interpeters of the Koran. Who has not heard of the Ayatollah Khomeini?
The Catholic Church’s relation and attitude toward all non-Christian religions was spelled out at the Second Vatican Council, in a marvelous document dated October 28, 1965. The scope of this document is much wider than the Jews; it includes also the Hindu religion, Buddhism, Islam, and all others. It recognizes the universal longing of all peoples to understand what life and death are all about, and what meaning is to be attached to life. The Catholic church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions, and seriously urges her children to work with them for mutual understanding through dialogue and collaboration in the areas of social justice, peace, human rights, (and) freedom. “Maintain good fellowship among the nations” we read (1 Peter 2:12), and as Paul advised, “Live in peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). “Be children of the Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45).
Since the 15th century, most Protestant church services are conducted by ministers or pastors both male and female. Anglican and Lutherans and the Greek churches also have bishops and priests.
The Catholic religion is an organized religion, that is, it presents to the world a unified picture of divided responsibilities towards God and neighbors. The Pope is the Number One man; today he is John Paul II, a fearless crusader for Christ, a man forged in the crucible of Communism. As the gigantic machinery of the Vatican cannot be managed by any one man, the Pope is assisted by a “cabinet” of Cardinals. Cardinals are highly intelligent priests who have amply demonstrated their good judgment and organizational ability, and represent a cross-section of the whole Catholic world. Sometime they are ambassadors or papal nuncios, sometimes they are the head of archdioceses. Archbishops and bishops preside over and direct local provinces.
But it is through the parish priest who is so intimate a part of “grass-roots” Catholicism, that most people meet the church. He is called “Father” because that term describes his loving care a solicitude for his little flock.
Copyright © 1982, Richard T.A. Murphy, O.P.