1. Christ is the head of the Church, not a man.
Of course He is, no one denies that. But, being God, Christ knew that He would die one day. He also knew that His disciples would have to carry on His mission. He also knew that there had to be some form of organization. Jesus never condemned organizations, only the bad practices of those in the organization.
Also, Jesus was aware that the Holy Spirit would come to guide the Church, in fact He promised this.
Just as the man, Peter, acted as the head of the Apostles, although Jesus was always the Head of them all, so, in the same way, the Pope is the leader of Jesus flock on earth.
Applying this argument to any other institution on earth is as ludicrous as applying it to Jesus' Church.
2. Christ is the Rock mentioned in Matt 16:18, so it is Christ who He is referring to. (QA n. 67, 68)
No one claims that St. Peter was the principal foundation stone. But that Church which is in communion with St. Peter and his successors is the genuine Church built upon the foundation of Christ. Christ Himself said to Peter, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." Christ is the solid rock upon which the Church is built. But the first rock laid upon this foundation is Peter, Christ being the principal foundation stone. Peter being the secondary foundation chosen by Christ.
3. It is Peter's profession on which Jesus will build His Church. (QA n. 71)
An antiquated interpretation, abandoned by all the best scholars, Protestants included. Christ did demand a profession of faith from Peter as a pre-required condition, after that, conferring the fundamental primacy upon him personally. But to say that the profession itself was the rock has not a single valid reason in its favor. Those who adopted such an interpretation did so from their desire to avoid the Catholic doctrine. Grammatically the Catholic interpretation is alone possible. Contextually the whole passage obviously refers to Peter's person. "Blessed are Thou...I say to Thee...Thou art Peter...I will give to thee the keys, etc.," nor could the Church be built upon one article of faith. All the articles of faith are essential Christianity. The Protestant Scripture scholar, Hastings, says that the confession theory must undoubtedly be excluded. The German Protestant Kuinoel writes, "Those who wrongly interpret this passage as referring to the confession and not to Peter himself would have never taken refuge in this distorted interpretation if the Popes had not wrongly tried to claim for themselves the privilege that was given to Peter." You see, he does not believe that the Pope inherits Peter's privileges, but he does know that Peter was personally the foundation stone. Loisy, the French Rationalist, rejected the historical sense of the Gospels, but he says that it is absurd to accept that sense as do Protestants and then violate that sense in order to avoid what they do not wish to admit.
4. The two words in Mt 16:18 are Petros and petra, so, it could not have been Peter.
Jesus spoke Aramaic. He did not speak Greek, Hebrew, or English. Therefore, when we try to interpret what we think that Jesus said, and if there is confusion as to His meaning, we must go to the source. We must determine what EXACTLY it was that He said. When we look at the Aramaic, we see that they had one word for stone - Cephas, or Kepha. In fact, some Bible still translate one place where Jesus names Peter Cephas. So, we have Jesus telling Peter (or Kepha - which would have been his name in Aramaic) that upon this kepha, He would build His Church. Another interesting point to note is that place at which Jesus told Peter this - it was near the city of Caesarea Philippi. The distinguishing feature of the area was the temple of Augustus, which sat on a majestic rock and towered over the city. They were in sight of this rock when Jesus, aware that there had been much discussion about who He was among the people of the countryside, said to the Apostles: "And you, who do you say that I am?" Peter spoke up: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!" Christ turned to Peter and addressed himself to him alone: "Blest are you, Simon, son of John! No mere man has revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. I for my part declare to you, you are 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build my Church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it. I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt. 16:15-20).
In this address of Christ to Peter there is no doubt that Peter was made supreme head of Christ's Church. There is, first of all, no doubt that it was Peter who was addressed. The account (by a very reliable eyewitness) says that it was. Christ leaves no doubt when He calls him Simon, son of John. Christ gives Peter's full name.
In the sentence "you are 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build my Church," strange as it may seem to us, there is a pun involved. In Aramaic, which was the language used, the word "peter" means "rock." This, incidentally, marked a change of name for Peter. Up to now he had been called Simon. In Biblical usage a change of name usually indicates a significant event; and so we might expect something of significance here. Actually that is the case.
"You are 'Rock' (Peter), and on this rock I will build my Church." Christ, standing before the foundation rock of the temple, promised to build his Church on Peter. Peter will be the foundation of his society.
5. Christ is the cornerstone, not Peter.
See number 2) above.
6. There have been bad Popes, so this cannot be an institution of God.
You will hear this one quite often from those who will be able to provide no credible evidence to substantiate their claim. They will most likely use accusation and innuendo to bolster their weak argument. The simple answer to this is that, yes, Christ told us that there would be good fish and bad fish in His Church (Mt 13:24-30). Also, no "bad" Pope ever made a statement binding on the faithful in matters of faith or morals.
7. Popes have made mistakes, so they could not be infallible.
Infallibility is not the same as impeccability. "Infallible - 1. Incapable of erring; 2. Incapable of failing : CERTAIN; 3. Rom. Cath. Ch. Incapable of error in promulgating doctrine on faith or morals." "Impeccable - 1. Having no flaws : PERFECT; 2. Incapable or sin or wrongdoing." (Webster's II: New Riverside University Dictionary, 1984, The Riverside Publishing Company)
So, as you can see, the Church has never claimed that the Pope is impeccable, only infallible when speaking on matters regarding faith or morals. Their chrism of infallibility does not transmute over to their personal or administrative lives.
8. Peter was never in Rome. (QA n. 73; CAF p.202-204)
Peter's being in Rome would not itself prove the existence of the papacy; it would be a false inference to say he must have been the first pope since he was in Rome and later popes ruled from Rome. With that logic, Paul would have been the first pope, too, since he was an Apostle and went to Rome.
On the other hand, if Peter never made it to the capital, he still could have been the first pope, since one of his successors could have been the first holder of that office to settle there. After all, if the papacy exists, it was established by Christ during his lifetime, long before Peter is said to have reached Rome. There must have been a period of some years in which the papacy had no connection to Rome.
The case is stated most succinctly by Loraine Boettner in his best-known book, "Roman Catholicism" (p. 117): "The remarkable thing, however, about Peter's alleged bishopric in Rome is that the New Testament has not one word to say about it. The word Rome occurs only nine times in the Bible [actually, ten times in the Old Testament and ten times in the New], and never is Peter mentioned in connection with it. There is no allusion to Rome in either of his epistles. Paul's journey to the city is recorded in great detail (Acts 27 and 28). There is in fact no New Testament evidence, nor any historical proof of any kind, that Peter ever was in Rome. All rests on legend." [My emphasis]
Well, what about it? Admittedly the scriptural evidence for Peter being in Rome is weak. Nowhere does the Bible unequivocally say he was there; on the other hand, it doesn't say he wasn't. Just as the New Testament never says, "Peter then went to Rome," it never says "Peter did not go to Rome." In fact, very little is said about where he, or any of the Apostles other than Paul, did go in the years after the Ascension. For the most part, we have to rely on books other than the New Testament for information about what happened to the Apostles, Peter included, in later years.
But Boettner is wrong when he claims "there is no allusion to Rome in either of [Peter's] epistles." There is, in the greeting at the end of the first epistle: "The Church here in Babylon, united with you by God's election, sends you her greeting, and so does my son, Mark" (I Pet. 5:13). Babylon is a code-word for Rome. It is used that way six times in the last book of the Bible and in extra-biblical works like the "Sibylline Oracles" (5, 159f), the "Apocalypse of Baruch" (ii, 1), and 4 Esdras (3:1). Eusebius Pamphilius, in "The Chronicle," composed about A.D. 303, noted that "It is said that Peter's first epistle, in which he makes mention of Mark, was composed at Rome itself; and that he himself indicates this, referring to the city figuratively as Babylon."
Consider now the other New Testament citations: "A second angel followed, who cried out, Babylon, great Babylon is fallen; she who made all the nations drunk with the maddening wine of her fornication" (Apoc. 14:8). "The great city broke in three pieces, while the cities of the heathens came down in ruins. And God did not forget to minister a draught of his wine, his avenging anger, to Babylon, the great city" (Apoc. 16:19). "There was a title written over his forehead, The mystic Babylon, great mother-city of all harlots, and all that is abominable on earth" (Apoc. 17:5). "And he cried aloud, Babylon, great Babylon is fallen" (Apoc. 18:2). "Standing at a distance, for fear of sharing her punishment, they will cry out, Alas, Babylon the great, alas, Babylon the strong, in one brief hour judgment has come upon you" (Apoc. 18:10). "So, with one crash of ruin, will Babylon fall, the great city" (Apoc. 18:21).
These references can't be to the one-time capital of the Babylonian empire. That Babylon had been reduced to an inconsequential status by the march of years, military defeat, and political subjugation; it was no longer a "great city." It played no important part in the recent history of the ancient world. The only truly "great city" in New Testament times was Rome.
"But there is no good reason for saying that 'Babylon' means 'Rome,'" insists Boettner. Ah, but there is, and the good reason is persecution. Peter was known to the authorities as a leader of the Church, and the Church, under Roman law, was organized atheism. (The worship of any gods other than the Roman was considered atheism.) Peter would do himself, not to mention those with him, no service by advertising his presence in the capital--after all, mail service from Rome was then even worse than it is today, and letters were routinely read by Roman officials. Peter was a wanted man, as were all Christian leaders. Why encourage a manhunt?
1. The Church is invisible, not a building. (QA n. 85)
The word church has a twofold sense. Its proper meaning is a union or assembly of men united not only in prayer, but also in a definite creed, worship, and obedience. In that sense I speak of the Catholic Church. Or again, it can refer to a building erected for purposes of worship by members of the Catholic Church, and in that sense I speak of a Catholic Church.
2. The Catholic Church could not be the Church of Christ, since it has had so many bad things done in its name; the Crusades, the Inquisition; the Pope blessing Hitler and a Bishop asking to have a requiem Mass for Hitler.
Most of these assertions are based on a lack of knowledge on the part of the accuser. When pressed, they will admit that they know little or nothing about the historical events they are using to attack the Church. Did the Catholic Church include bad people who did reprehensible things? Of course, same as the Protestants who burned women and men because they said that these people were witches. As stated earlier, Jesus never claimed that His Church would be made up of only the perfect and holiest people. To use the abuses or perversions of a member or members of the church to try to deny the efficacy of that institution is as silly as saying that because one member of Congress acts criminally does not deny the usefulness and importance of our government.
3. The true Church would look just like the Church of the NT.
Even Jesus compared His Kingdom to a mustard seed growing into a huge mustard plant. (Mk 4: 26-32) The Catholic Church, as His Kingdom on Earth, is that mustard seed in the NT which has grown to reach out to the entire world. We even see doctrinal development in Acts.
And, importantly, there is nothing in Church teaching which is counter to the correct interpretation of the Bible.
4. We don't need all the "trappings" that the Catholic Church has added. (QA n. 58)
This is a good example of making a general statement in the hopes that it will be so broad of an approach, that no person would try to refute this kind of statement against the Church. My suggestion would be is to make them be specific about what they are saying. Explain that your Faith is very important to you, and that if they think that they have the Truth, you would like to hear it. And, if they do have the Truth, then they should have no problem being specific, not having to resort to circumstantial accusations.
The easiest way to approach this is to ask what the "trappings" are which the person is referring to. The normal things to expect would be: Praying to Saints; Priest vestments; genuflection; the supposed "wealth" of the Church; Indulgences; Sacraments; etc.
Usually, once their problem with the Church has been addressed - and insist that they name what they are referring to. A common tactic is to say something as innocuous as the above charge, and then to assume that you already know what they're talking about. Get them to specify, and then speak with them on that topic.
If you do not know how to respond to them on the topic they choose, admit that you do not know. Tell them that you will research that topic and get back to them.
What proof is there that the Catholic Church is the One Church? (QA n. 3)
The proof lies in the fact that the Catholic Church alone corresponds exactly to the exact religion established by Christ. Now the Christian religion is that religion which:
(a) Was founded by Christ personally;
(b) Has existed continuously since the time of Christ;
(c) Is Catholic or universal, in accordance with Christ's command to go to all the world and teach all nations;
(d) Demands that all her members admit the same doctrine;
(e) Exercises divine authority over her subjects, since Christ said that if a man would not hear the Church he would be as a heathen.
Now the Catholic Church alone can claim:
(a) To have been founded by Christ personally. All other Churches disappear as you go back through history. Christ said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church." (Mt 16:18) There are many claimants to the honor of being Christ's Church. But among all non-Catholic Churches, we find one built on a John Wesley; another on a Martin Luther; another on a Mrs. Eddy, etc. But the Catholic Church alone can possibly claim to have been built on Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and on-time Bishop of Rome.
(b) To have existed in all the centuries since Christ.
(c) That every one of her members admits exactly the same essential doctrines.
(d) To be Catholic or universal.
(e) To speak with a voice of true authority in the name of God.
Luther claimed that the Church consisted of the Saints, all believers whose sins are not imputed to them.(QA n. 10)
From this we can say that the Catholic Church must be wrong in her claim to be the True Church precisely because she can be identified and located in this world. The Protestant Churches must at least be more right because the don't claim to be right. For although the Church is for men, it is undiscoverable by men. The only right answer to the question, "Where is the True Church?" is that nobody can say. Luther's idea is not antiquated by any means. Recently I read a Protestant clergyman's article in a Sunday newspaper, maintaining that "the Church does not make saints; saints make the Church." But alas for the theory! Those alone would then be members of the Church who are in a state of grace. "Fall into sin and you fall out of the Church" would then be the rule! Yet Christ says clearly that many not in the grace and friendship of God will belong to His Church. He likened that Church to a net holding good and bad fish. (Mt 13:47-48) The net was to be quite good, but there would be bad fish within it. It was to be as a field with cockle and wheat growing side by side. (Mt 13:24-30) Or again, the members of the Church would be like the ten virgins, five with oil in their lamps, and five without. (Mt 25:1-12) It is certain, then, that the Church is not composed only of those with God's grace within their souls. Some other bond must be found which unites men within the fold of the Church of Christ.
What is meant by the visible organization? (QA n. 12)
When I say that the True Church must be a visible Church I intend the word in a very special sense. As I can find the visible brick building representing a Presbyterian, Episcopalian or Lutheran Church in the same sense I can certainly discover the visible building used by the community. But that is not the sense I intend when speaking of the visibility of the True Church. I mean that the True Church must be obviously existent in this world, and that it must always have obvious signs distinguishing it as the True Church from all other claimants.
Did Christ establish a Church? (QA n. 13)
Christ certainly intended His Church to be visible and discoverable, not only as an existent fact in this world but as being His. Talk of a purely invisible bond of grace fails utterly in the presence of Christ's words likening His Church to a city which, set upon a hill, "cannot be hidden." (Mt 5:14) If He establishes a Church to which He invites all men to come, it must be a Church discernible as His. The Apostles and the early Fathers condemn schism, which can only mean separation from a visible, historical, and organized Church. Were the Church not a discernible Church, the forbidding of schism would be absurd. No man would know whether he had left the True Church or not. St. Cyprian who died as early as 258 A.D. had no misgivings on the subject. "Whoever is separated from the Church," he wrote, "is separated from the promises of Christ; nor will he who leaves the Church of Christ obtain the salvation of Christ. He becomes a foreigner and an enemy. One cannot have God as a Father who has not the Church as his mother." If a man who is separated from the Church is separated from the promises of Christ, it is of the utmost importance that he should be able to know which is the True Church to which he must cling.
The Catholic Church is Satan's organization (A favorite of JW's) (QA n.61)
Then she is a very poor agent indeed. She would be far more efficient if she cried out, "Sin does not matter - go ahead. Confession is nonsense. Eat anything you like on Fridays, the day on which Christ died. Marriage does not bind, divorce yourselves whenever you like. Continence is absurd. Artificial birth-control is progress. Don't believe in Christ, or God, or Heaven, or Hell. Away with religion in the schools. The chief thing is to be comfortable. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die. Then get cremated, and that ends everything." Don't you see how ridiculous your statement is? All these things are the exact opposite of Catholic teaching.
Most of the information in this is taken from True Church Quizzes To A Street Preacher by Fr. Chas. M. Carty and Rev. Dr. L. Rumble, M.S.C., TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1976.