Catholics and the Protestant Churches have unity of faith that Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose from the dead and that He is our Redeemer. Nevertheless, the divisions occurred in history and subsequently, many Protestant Churches were established because of the differences in understanding and describing the Traditional faith.
My purpose of sharing the differences is to give you an idea, why and how, in the history, the unity of one family of God was divided and got separated from the Tradition. If you would understand these differences it would be helpful for you to comprehend the uniqueness of our Catholic faith. Here below I share the last three differences:
It comes from the Latin word Magister, which means teacher. Thus, Magisterium refers to the official teaching body of the Roman Catholic Church, consisting of the Pope, Cardinals, and the leading theologians. This body allows the Church to make official pronouncements on contemporary issues, which Scripture might not directly address. Protestant Churches do not have anything equivalent to Magisterium.
The Protestants believe that Scripture alone is the only authoritative source to hold all revealed truths. Whereas, we Catholics believe with certainty that all revealed truths cannot be derived from the Scripture (written word) alone, but also from the Tradition.
Sacred Scripture contains the divinely inspired Sacred Books. Sacred Tradition is a living reality of the Church that is derived through meditating and contemplating on the written Word of God and put into effect in the life of the Church. Hence, we Catholics hold that both Scripture and Tradition (unwritten word) must be accepted and honored equally as authoritative sources of all revealed truths (Catechism of the Catholic Church 80—83).
Salvation and Grace:
Salvation is a grace given by God through the merits of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Luther and other Reformed Churches hold that salvation is by faith alone. Consequently, they believe that the divine verdict and pardon of the believer is received through faith alone.
Whereas we believe that the grace of righteousness (forgiveness of sins) is imparted by God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and that after justification, God works in each believer to enable and empower the process of sanctification. Hence, in addition to the faith, salvation involves the human cooperation through the good works, he/she does. Salvation, therefore, is not by one act of faith alone, but it is a process till total righteousness is achieved at the end of one’s life.
Having shared, now, the key issues which distinguish our Catholic faith and practice from other Churches, I hope that you get an idea, how the Catholic Church preserves and explains the doctrine of faith. Let us remain firmly rooted in what we believe.
God bless you
Fr. Arul Joseph V.