As the College of Cardinals gather and seek guidance on their choice for the next Holy Father, protestants should be in prayer for them as well. Unfortunately, most will be told something different in Sunday morning classrooms.
I grew up under the misguided Baptists teaching that Catholics were somehow not a part of the family of faith, this is incorrect, as Baptists are a form of Catholicism.
A quick history lesson will show the great connections to our Catholic brothers. A study will reveal how much more was retained from the Catholic faith in the reformation, than what was dismissed. A short study of our early reformation leadership will leave you asking more questions of their behavior, than you would of the Pope.
The Catholic Church, thanks to John Paul and others, has confessed their sins as a human run organism. Protestants might consider the same. The divisions we created historically are so many, and so destructive to the faith, that they make Alexander VI look like a hero.
There is much to continue to dig into theologically with our Catholic brothers, but then we would say the same is true for the various sects of Protestants as well. Efficacious grace, common grace, saving grace, cooperative grace are all up for discussion, but should not divide us before an unbelieving world as Christ and His actions on the Christ are centric to all of us.
24% of Catholics identify themselves in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Barna Research 2013). Most identify the actions of Christ on the cross and His resurrection as their hope. This makes them our brothers and sisters in the faith.
If not for Catholics we would not have our Holy Scripture as it is bound today. Catholicism gave us the Bible, the ancient creeds which remain so true today, and most theological foundations on which we stand like the Trinity. The major themes of our theology were formed by Clement, Augustine, Aquinas, and so many other incredible men. They were saved and preserved by various catholics in the dark ages..thank God for Catholics.
Almost all of our Sunday morning practices were enacted by Constantine...yes even the ones in Baptist churches.
We Baptist are a form of Catholicism. We may have elevated some practices and dismissed others, but we would not be here, if not for them.
So I encourage you to pray for the Cardinals. The Pope is seen as the spokesman for all of us by those outside of the faith.
Pope Benedict preached Christ alone. May the next Pope as well.