Common protestant criticism of the Catholic Church revolve around wealth and the “worship” of saints. The latter is considered idolatry by some. The church has extravagant cathedrals and vast land holdings. It also has saints which can be requested to protect, heal and guide followers.
Martin Luther, considered the founder of the Protestant reformation, criticized the Catholic church for considering their clergy to be the spokesmen of God. He said the Bible was the only way to knowledge and believers would be saved by their faith in Jesus’ grace, not by the church’s proclamation.
We should look at the stories from the Gospels and compare them to the Catholic Church. Keep in mind the actions of some leaders in the history of the Church are not necessarily doctrine and do not represent the ideals of today’s Catholics.
Jesus was baptized by his cousin John. John washed his head, purifying him. before he began his ministry. Catholics confess their sins to priests. This is in direct contradiction of the story of Jesus. This story (as all the Gospel stories) is a statement. Could it be during that time the religious leaders wanted dirt on their followers before teaching them more knowledge? Almost certainly so. When the Romans formed the Catholic Church in the 4th century they included confessions in a direct contradiction with ancient Christian tradition.
In the history of Catholicism we see deep antisemitism. At the time it was considered the Jews were to blame for deicide, the killing of Christ. This relates to the story of Pilate “washing his hands” of Jesus’ fate and letting the Jews decide whether he or Barabbas would go free. This story was adapted for the Gentiles. Romans wanted Pilate to appear to be an honorable man. History says he was anything but. Tiberius had him removed as governor for the slaughter of Samaritans in 36 ad. Jesus, while on the cross, begged God to forgive them for they “know not what they do.” It’s pretty clear he didn’t want a blood grudge to continue after his death.
Also in the history of the Catholic church (and other churches) is the persecution of those accused of witch craft. People were tortured and burned at the stake by Inquisitors for the “worship of Satan. Most of these trials where for political expediency.
The trial and execution of Jacques du Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Tempar is an example. Pope Clement V accused the Templars of being homosexual Satan worshipers. I’m sure everyone was convinced of this by some sort of sorcery. He and Phillip the Fair had them all rounded up and the order dissolved, along with a bunch of Jews (of course). Du Molay was held in prison for four years and then burned at the stake across the river from observers. It was said they could hear him loudly protesting his innocence as he burned.
The Spanish Inquisition was basically a holocaust against Jews, Muslims and Christians who had been sharing knowledge and living in harmony for 8 centuries. Ferdinand the II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile got married, joining their kingdoms. With the help of Catholic armies from the North they were able to invade and defeat the Al Andalus Caliphate and rid Europe of future classes in comparative religion.
Burning “witches” at the stake for adultery is a direct contradiction of Jesus’ rebuke of those preparing to stone Mary Magdalene. Some church leaders harvested a lot of souls over the years.
It’s important to note Catholics are people. Some are good and some are not. Alois Karl Hudal helped smuggle Nazis out of Europe to escape prosecution. Engelmar Unzeitig was arrested by the Gestapo for criticizing the holocaust in his sermons. Some Catholics joined together to help Jews hide and escape, and paid dearly for it.
An inherent problem with a centralized power structure is the organization’s risk being taken over. Of course, they could be formed in such a manner intentionally. A sort of socially engineered control mechanism for future lifetimes. It’s a way dictate who may and may not attain higher knowledge in the next life. It would also seem whomever came up with it wanted to thumb their nose at the man from Galilee.