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Anonymous V. wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What is the difference between Catholic and Christian?

I was baptized as a Catholic. I would like to be baptized again to wash my sins away. I would like to start off with a clean slate.

  • Would I have to be baptized again in a Catholic Church?

There is a Christian pastor who says he'll baptize me, but I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do.

Anonymous V.

  { What is the difference between Catholics and Christians and is re-Baptism needed for a new start? }

Eric replied:

Dear V.,

"Christian is my name, and Catholic my surname."
(St. Pacian of Barcelona, late 4th century).

"Christian" is the generic name for all who believe in Christ as Savior. But Christians are divided; so there are different names for different Christian groups. We, as Catholics, are the original group of Christians that Jesus founded.

There are other groups, chiefly, in our country, various Protestant denominations. For apparently cultural reasons that are not clear, at least in the United States, Catholics generally do not tend to primarily self-identify as Christians, but Evangelical Protestants do, leading to some confusion about the terms Catholic and Christian.

As far as Baptism is concerned, there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), so it is not appropriate to get baptized a second time; in fact, that would be a sacrilege. However, the proper way for Catholics to get their sins forgiven and start from a clean slate is to go and receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, confessing your sins and receiving absolution.

Protestants generally do not believe that Baptism wipes away sin anyway, so receiving Baptism from them would defeat your purpose. Catholics and Evangelical Protestants have a very different view of Baptism.

  • We believe that it wipes away sins and confers life-giving sanctifying grace,
  • but they believe that it is merely a commandment that you undergo to show the public that you believe.

They also do not emphasize the fact that children lack this sanctifying grace and need it. This is why they only believe in adult Baptism. But we can see whole households being baptized in Scripture (1 Corinthians 1:16, Acts 16:15); also, Scripture teaches that Baptism is the New Testament equivalent of circumcision (Colossians 2:11-12), which the Jews received at 8 days old, so clearly, infants can be baptized. I encourage you to make an appointment with your local Catholic priest for the sacrament of Reconciliation, or else show up at the scheduled time for Confessions in your parish. You can make what is known as a general Confession, confessing all of your serious sins since your Baptism. Jesus established the sacrament of Reconciliation and gave the Apostles, who priests today receive their authority from, the authority to forgive sins in John 20:22-23. Moreover, James 5:16 says to confess your sins to one another that you may be saved.

  • If we are to confess our sins to one another, how much more should we confess our sins to our priests?

Anyway, I'm delighted to hear that you have repented of your sins and want to have them forgiven. Once you received the sacrament of Reconciliation, you can resume receiving Communion every Sunday at Liturgy/Mass and thereby share in the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4). This is something you cannot do or receive from a partisan Church such as that of your friend, who wants to baptize you. Only in the Catholic Church can you receive the True Body and Blood of Christ (John 6:54-69) sacrificed on the Cross (1 Corinthians 5:7-8), which can also wipe away your (less serious) sins (Romans 3:25).


Mike replied:

Dear V.,

I just wanted to add to what my colleague Eric has said.

Eric said:
For apparently cultural reasons that are not clear, at least in the United States, Catholics generally do not tend to primarily self-identify as Christians, but Evangelical Protestants do, leading to some confusion about the terms Catholic and Christian.

Your question shows a weakness, in my opinion, in our CCD instruction that we are giving to our young Catholics.

Paraphrasing from Paragraph 830 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and as re-stated on our home page:

The word Catholic means universal, in the sense that it is the Christian Faith according to its totality or in keeping with the whole.

The Church is Catholic in a double sense:

First, the Church is Catholic because Christ is present in her.

"Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church."
St. Ignatius of Antioch, In 107 A.D.

From the Catechism: In her subsists the fullness of Christ's body united with its head; this implies that she receives from Him the fullness of the means of salvation which He has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, Catholic on the day of Pentecost and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.

Also, let me expand on the quote Eric gave you from St. Pacian of Barcelona (who lived from 310 A.D. - 375 A.D.) and whose full quote which can be found on the AskACatholic home page.

St. Pacian says:

"But, under the Apostles, you will say, No one was called a Catholic."

And replies:

Grant this to have been the fact; or suppose it to have been so.

  • When heresies, after the Apostles days, arose, and, under diverse names, strove to tear and scatter piecemeal the dove of God, and His queen, did not the Apostolic people require a peculiar name, whereby to distinguish the unity of the people that had not been corrupted, for fear lest the error of a few might tear limb by limb the unstained virgin of God?
  • Was it not beseeming that the principal head should be designated by a suitable title?

Suppose I entered, this very day, into a populous city, and found there Marcionites, Apollinarists, Cataphrygians, Novatians, and others of the same sort, all calling themselves Christians.

  • By what name should I be able to recognize the congregation of my own people, were it not from its being called Catholic?

Come, tell me, you who bestowed so many names on the other peoples!

  • Why have so many cities, so many nations, each having their own description?
  • The very man who calls in question the name Catholic, will he be ignorant of the cause of his own name, if I shall inquire its origin?
  • Whence was it delivered to me?

Assuredly, that which has stood during so many ages was not borrowed from man.

This name Catholic sounds not of Marcion, nor of Apelles, nor of Montanus, nor does it take heretics as its authors.

So the very first Christians chose a name that would separate them from others, who also called themselves Christian, (but who did not believe all the Oral and Written Tradition of the Church) which has been passed down up until today!

That said, at least in the United States, I would say if someone calls themselves a Christian, we can assume they believe part of the Gospel aka Jesus' Message but if someone says, "I am a Catholic, or better, I am a Catholic Christian" they (are claiming) that they believe everything Jesus left us from 33 A.D. in both Written and Oral Tradition which has been passed down to us from generation to generation up to 2022 A.D.

You said:
I was baptized as a Catholic. I would like to be baptized again to wash my sins away. I would like to start off with a clean slate.

As Eric said, as a Catholic Christian, if you want a clean slate make an appointment at your parish to go to Confession. Catholic parishes usually have them on Saturdays.

I hope this helps,


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