"Why do movies about Satan only have Catholics? We never get to see Methodists or Episcopalians put down demons."
Historically, America has been predominantly Protestant. Most of the original thirteen colonies were composed of Protestant groups (Maryland being the sole exception), but you'd never know this from any of the media we cover.
It's hard to tell why; maybe it's because the costumes of Roman Catholic clerics are so quaint
, perhaps it's the fascination of the mystery and ritual
, perhaps it's that our sex-obsessed society
is bewildered by the thought of priests, monks, and nuns taking a vow of celibacy
, or that ornate Catholic churches make the best sets
, or the usefulness of the sacrament of confession
as a narrative device. Or maybe it's just downright absurd to associate Southern Baptists with Ominous Latin Chanting
and Gothic aesthetics.note
Another possibility is that Catholicism is simply a more visible form of Christianity in the bicoastal urban milieu in which most writers work. Not to mention that a considerable number of writers are themselves Catholic (or were raised that way
at least), and may just find it easier to write what they know
Whatever the reason, a cleric in a movie or TV show is more likely to be a Catholic Father than any other kind, especially if there's any exorcising
to be done or if The Antichrist is involved
. Orphanages are almost always run by nuns, who may or may not be spooky
. People in whose presence you mustn't swear will be troops of Catholic Schoolgirls
led by a nun.
It's not always a positive portrayal, mind you. If there's a big Corrupt Church
that has the power to subjugate kings and governments under its will, it'll probably be Catholic, too, and using Catholicism for such is popular due to historical associations with The Spanish Inquisition
, a Knight Templar Church Militant
, and torturing and burning heretics
(and recently the pedophilia coverup scandals
settings, the Crystal Dragon Jesus
religion will usually have distinctively Catholic aesthetics. Japanese attempts to portray western supernatural beliefs tend to converge on this trope too; see Nuns Are Mikos
and Anime Catholicism
Worldwide, over half of Christianity is Catholic (about 1.2 billion out of 1.5–2.0 billion, end of 2007). Also, most countries with a Christian majority have a Catholic majority. And in the United States where Protestant churches are in the majority, they are so fractured that the Catholic Church is the single largest denomination. Yet because of this Protestant majority, plus the many waves of immigrants from Catholic regions, Catholicism has often been seen as foreign, exotic, and strange...if not always benevolent. As a result of this, Hollywood Catholicism is often very far removed from the actual religion.
In much fiction, despite the portrayal of Christians as Catholics, most Bible quotations
will be from the King James Version, a Protestant
translation. Everything just sounds way more "biblical
" with thee's and thou's and ye's
(although Catholics have the Douay-Rheims, an English translation which came at about the same time). Still, the King James renderings are much more familiar in a highly "Protestant-by-default" culture. Psalm 23, for example, is usually rendered the "KJV way" ("The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.") even among English-speaking Catholics.note
The even more traditional Vulgate Bible will almost never
be quoted, although it can happen because it's written in Latin
This trope doesn't seem to apply to Westerns
, where any minister (or "preacher") will generally be a black-coated Evangelical Lutheran or Methodist type, when he isn't a Quaker or a Mormon. However, if the film shows the padre of a Mexican
village, this trope will be played straight—although frankly this was usually true
. It may also appear as part of an Establishing Shot
for other traditionally Catholic places such as Italy or France. Black churches are almost always depicted as Baptist or Pentecostal (although some of the earliest black Americans in colonial times were Catholic/Voodoo practitioners from the French West Indies), as are white Southern
churches (the one exception being New Orleans
, home to the largest Catholic diocese in the US). And, of course, the upper-class White Anglo-Saxon Protestant
, usually residing in the tonier precincts of Hollywood New England
and belonging to one of the more venerable "mainline" denominations such as the Episcopal Church, is a stock character of long standing.
Since Protestantism has historically been the majority form of Christianity in the United States (now only barely so), in the past this trope was much less common. In fact, in many works from prior to 1950 or so, the default trope in these cases tended to be "Christianity is Protestant
." Some writers may still try to use a Protestant minister to mix things up a bit... only to have that Protestant minister take a vow of celibacy and wear a white-and-black clerical collar (in real life, Protestant ministers are free to marry and usually wear a suit and tie if they aren't simply going business-casual).
If the writers want to use a generally Catholic depiction, but get around the pesky celibacy issue, they'll use an Episcopal priest (which, in the immortal words of Robin Williams
, is "Catholic Lite"). They could also use an Eastern Catholic priest, a branch of Catholicism which allows married men to become priests (though not the other way around), but since Eastern Catholics are found mostly in parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, not many people know about them. Or for something else vaguely similar but non-Catholic, they could use an Orthodox priest, who are often forgotten to exist at all
Compare Nuns N' Rosaries
. See also Religious Stereotype
and Church of Saint Genericus
Before you worry about a Double Standard
, keep in mind most of Catholicism featured in media is usually made up or poorly researched, and usually resembles Protestantism. For example, Purgatory and Limbo are almost always confused. note
Note that this trope is reversed in some countries; outside the US Protestant countries tend to assume Protestantism and vice-versa
. The UK default is, naturally, the Church of England
- which can variously be depicted as "Catholic" (High Church), "Mainline Protestant" (Broad Church), or "Evangelical Protestant" (Low Church). The Russian default is, obviously, the Orthodox church
. Variants exist for non-Christian religions, too: "Judaism Is Orthodox" (long hair, beards, and Yiddish accents
) and "Buddhism Is Mahayana" (fat, smiling statues and Ice Cream Koans
Finally, note that this trope can be something of a Berserk Button
for certain sects - the word catholic
is in fact a common adjective (meaning universal or all-encompassing), and is often used to denote the quality of being part of the larger Christian Churchnote
. Indeed, it appears in most versions of the Apostles' Creed
, a neat encapsulation of Christian belief. Various Orthodox and even Protestant churches also claim the quality of catholicity for themselves, and others still believe that for any one church to call itself "Catholic" is to imply that it is the only
true church...which, for obvious reasons, annoys people who don't belong to it. And let's not get into the hardline fundamentalists who believe Catholicism isn't
open/close all folders
- Kaitou Saint Tail is a Catholic schoolgirl, her base of operations is a Catholic church, her informant is an "apprentice nun", and all the victims that she helps are also Catholic. Given that they're in a predominantly Shinto country, it's odd that no one seems to notice.
- Her informant is also blatantly breaking the rules of confidentiality regarding the confessional, which is something real clergy could get a lot of trouble for. note
- And nuns have no access to confessional secrets! Only male priests do and they can't even share them amongst themselves.
- In Sailor Moon, Hino Rei, a Shinto miko, attends an all-girls Catholic school. Named T*A, an expy of the former highschool section of a famous women's college in Tokyo, the Seishin University One of its most famous pupils was none other than Empress Michiko - formerly Michiko Shouda, daughter of a non-noble but well-off family).
- T*A possibly stands for Thomas Aquainus.
- Then there is the Catholic imagery in the S season
- Chrono Crusade is another Church Militant series set in the United States, which...sorta fits under this trope. It's complicated.
- The manga is vague on which denomination the Order is supposed to belong to. In fact, the mangaka admitted in an interview that he did "whatever suited him" when creating the Order, so it doesn't quite fit...well...any of them. It definitely looks the closest to Catholicism, though, and most fanfics treat the Order as such, too (with vows, rosaries, and confessionals), so in general it still fits the trope. Adding to the complication is that the manga is clearly set in an Alternate History. Maybe the Catholic Church evolved differently?
- In the anime, the Order is aesthetically Catholic, but it's explicitly stated that the Magdalene Order is in fact a joint effort by Catholics, Protestants, and Jews.
- Rosette is also stated to be a nun in the manga, while in the anime she's just got a nun-ish uniform. It's complicated.
- In Trinity Blood, Catholicism is pretty much the only religion, period. Although given that it's set 1000 years After the End and Europe (which is largely Catholic in Real Life) was the only bit of the world that wasn't nuked into oblivion, this might be somewhat justified. It is also probably worth noting that the church in Trinity Blood is a political and military organization as much as a religious one.
- Averted in Hellsing. Dissensions between British Protestantism and Vatican Catholicism is an important part of the plot. (Although it still gets plenty of Fantastic Catholicism).
- Maria-sama Ga Miteru is set at a Catholic school. So is Strawberry Panic!.
- Seikon No Qwaser starts off as an aversion by having latched onto Russian Orthodox imagery but the Vatican shows up as well as part of the background plotting.
- Thoroughly averted in To Aru Majutsu no Index. The Roman Catholics are the most powerful Christian organization, but there are numerous other powerful ones such as the British Puritans, the Russian Orthodox and even smaller groups like the Amakusa Catholics (Japanese Christian sect) who are not recognized by the Roman Catholics. And then they take that, duct tape on some Rule of Cool, magic and crazed zealots, and run with it.
- Subverted in Haunted Junction. The male character's parents are Protestant Christian, in fact his father is a priest.
- Sorta maybe avoided in Trigun. Wolfwood gets glossed as a 'priest' but doesn't act very ordained, and in the anime he carries a traveling confessional, but the one church that appears in the anime (where Wolfwood dies) is much less Catholic than the one in the manga (where Vash hangs out at the start of 'Colorless Emotions'), which featured a very clerical-looking officiant and some bling.
- Wolfwood's mental monologue about becoming devils in order to have the power to protect those who don't doesn't fit too well into any Christian sect, and it's the closest thing to doctrine he ever really puts out. He is in the future, though. Things change.
- Averted in Tokyo Mew Mew. Zakuro Fujiwara is a practicing Christian, but she's Protestant.
- Averted in The Snow Queen, where, faithful to the original, its setting is in the Lutheran Scandinavia. The churches have no images and even the Lutheran rose can be seen in their background.
- Averted in Tetragrammaton Labyrinth, where the main characters are explicitly part of the Anglican Church. However, it's easy to mistake them for Anime Catholicism because the Anglican Church shares a lot of trappings with the Catholic Church, being a direct offshoot, and the series plays them up.
- Batman comics:
- Bruce Wayne is a convert to Catholicism. His father was Episcopalian and his mother was Jewish.
- Probably for no other reason than because Catholic churches are a lot more gothic (and therefore cool looking) than Protestant churches.
- Selina Kyle (Catwoman) came from a Catholic family.
- The Joker is sentenced to the electric chair in one graphic novel (before being pardoned by the governor at the last few seconds). Before his scheduled execution, he tortures a Catholic priest by "confessing" his sins to him. ("That was the last time I ever used shards of broken glass.")
- The Order of St. Dumas (although they're actually heretics who claim to be Catholic).
- Sin City: Marv was brought up by nuns. Any religious person you meet is Catholic. The Babe who Wore Red was about to become a nun. The Big Bad of the original series is a cardinal. A cover design for this Story Arc shows Marv squaring off against a huge warrior nun representing, one assumes, Mother Church. Sin City is predominantly Catholic, and, from the names, Irish-American.
- Marshal Law: The Catholic Church is big in San Futuro. The Mission for down-and-out superheroes is Catholic. The original super team called themselves The Jesus League of America and had members with names like Shroud, Stigmata and Monstrance. The church is corrupt here, too.
- When Chuck Austen wrote Uncanny X-Men, there was a particularly headache-inducing example where it turned out Nightcrawler's religious education was an illusion created by an extremist group to destroy the Catholic Church by installing Nightcrawler as Pope, short circuiting his image inducer and painting him as the Antichrist, and using matter-disintegrating Communion wafers to simulate the Rapture.
- Which, of course, would only confuse things since Catholics don't believe in the Rapture anyway and while many protestants do take communion, it's not in the same manner and is certainly not conducted by priests.
- Averted in V for Vendetta, where the Police State Dystopia is backed by the Church of England.
- The Punisher once tried out for the priesthood. The Son of Satan is an ex-priest. Daredevil, at least post-Miller, is also largely involved in Catholicism, and Cloak & Dagger regularly take shelter in a Catholic church and have a priest as their main ally. Runaways gives us Victor Mancha because his mom was one, and ironically the Minorus raised Nico in the Roman Catholic faith.
- Inverted, so to speak, in Jack Chick's Chick Tracts, which regard Catholicism as not only non-Christian, but downright Satanic, and actively plotting to Take Over the World and stamp out the "true" faith.
- Averted in the X-Men spin-off New Mutants, in which Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane was raised a strict Presbyterian. Unfortunately a lot of the readers (and one or two of the later writers) seem to have missed this detail, and fall right back into this trope.
- Karma/Xi'an "Shan" Coy Manh was Catholic.
- Justified in that she's Vietnamese. Thanks to French colonialism, any Vietnamese who was Christian would almost certainly be Catholic. Of course, Buddhist or atheist would still be more likely.
- Evangeline from First Comics was about a futuristic assassin who was also a nun. Whose boss was named Cardinal Sin no less.
- The 2000 AD series Canon Fodder stars an extremely militant Catholic priest, who appears to have unrestrained jurisdiction to deliver his particular brand of ass-kicking at will.
- Averted in the 2000AD series Defoe. The titular character is an Independent, while the majority of other Christian characters are Independent and Anglican, as was typically of Restoration-era England.
- Parodied in the 2000AD series Pussyfoot 5, in which a futuristic Catholic Church makes use of a team of sexy female commandos for no readily apparent reason.
- In Love and Capes, Mark and Abby's Catholicism may be a case of Write What You Know.
- 2012: A minor example — Sasha makes the sign of the cross in the Catholic way (forehead - chest - left shoulder - right shoulder), instead of the Orthodox way (forehead - chest - right shoulder - left shoulder) — 97% of Russian Christians are Orthodox.
- The Exorcist. Obviously, as it is the only church to offer exorcism as a practice.
- This is Truth in Television. The Lutheran minister of the parents of the child in the real life case the movie is based on told the parents to get a Catholic priest because Lutherans had no exorcism tradition.
- Not entirely. Pentecostals and certain Eastern traditions offer their own forms of exorcism. There are also some sects of Baptist who do as well, although it's not common.
- As do Mormons.
- Constantine uses an entirely Catholic ruleset, or better said Catholicism as imagined by Hollywood, to determine who goes to Hell and who goes to Heaven. This is notable since the universe the film is based on has all gods existing together.
- End of Days, of course Stigmata, The Sin Eater...
- ...in fact, just about every gothic-religious-horror film concerning demons / angels / Satan or the coming of the Apocalypse is saturated with Catholicism; secret orders of frowning priests waiting with trepidation for the Signs of Doom so they can explain the plot to the hero, cross-clutching virginal martyrs, and orders of very traditional Satanists.
- This genre is probably whatever's left of the 'OMG SATANIC WITCH CULTS' horror film genre. Think Rosemary's Baby or just about anything by Hammer Horror, up to and including their version of Dracula which were popular in the 60s and 70s.
- Exception: The Devil's Advocate, where the main characters are Protestant.
- Van Helsing features a pan-religious order dedicated to fighting evil, made up of monster-hunting priests, monks, mullahs, swamis... which is housed under the Vatican and apparently run by Catholic cardinals.
- Hey, anybody else putting up a little holy city run entirely by clerics here? Mecca is kinda straight out....awfully tolerant of the Pope boys, though. There've got to be other headquarters.
- Averted in the early 90s made-for-TV vampire film, Blood Ties (not to be confused with the 2000s vampire detective TV show), where the villainous Southern Coalition Against Vampires ("S.C.A.V.") are stereotyped Baptists.
- In the John Carpenter film Prince of Darkness, the Catholic Church was founded to protect the secret calculus formula of Jesus that proved the existence of the Anti-God, until humanity had developed the mathematics to understand it. Wonder how the Reformation fit into those plans. By the way,
- In his Vampires the vampire hunters are funded by the Catholic Church.
- Dark Angel: The Ascent is fairly dripping with Catholicism, with various references to "the One True Church" and an emissary from Heaven referring to God as "the First Cause." Interesting in that it subverts 2,000 years of Christian folklore and, arguably, doctrine in portraying the devils as God's damned-but-still-loyal-and-pious servants, rather than ever-rebellious enemies.
- In Bollywood movies, Christian characters are always Roman Catholics, despite India having significant groups of Syriacs (many are Catholic or Orthodox, though not Roman/Latin Rite) in Kerala. And, while Roman Catholics make up the majority of Christians in the Northeast and Central India, there are also populations of Protestants. The focus on Roman Catholicism is likely because of the films being made and set in Bombay where the most prominent Christian population are Mangalorean Catholics. Catholics also make up the majority of Christians in India. Interestingly, in the movies cheeky and free-spirited youngsters are usually Catholics, because, as a relic of colonization, they are considered more Westernized than other Indians. On the other hand, it is fairly common that Hindu characters pray to God in Christian shrines.
- Hindus have a different perspective on religion than do people coming from an Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, or Islamic) background. Hinduism takes the position that there are many paths that all lead to the One Truth, and thus all religions have some merit. To a Hindu, the Christian God may seem to be just another way to experience this truth, and entering a church could be seen as not much different than visiting temples devoted to the various gods. Bollywood movies are also probably inspired from Hollywood examples in this regard.
- The focus on Catholicism versus Protestant is partly because of the ritual trappings of the denominations, partly because of it's longer history in India, and mostly because most Indian Christians are Catholics. Syrian Christian churches are native churches with a longer history, but they are South Indian and rarely do Bollywood films portray South Indian characters or situations.
- Attempted subversion in Raising Helen. The title character, upon gaining custody of her deceased sister's children and moving to New York City, enrolls them in a private school which she at first thinks is Catholic, but turns out to be Lutheran and she is confused by the differences between the two. Unfortunately, so were the filmmakers. The one thing the movie gets right about Lutheranism is that Lutheran pastors aren't sworn to celibacy. In fact, one suspects they made the school Lutheran rather than Catholic just so it would be okay for the main character to hook up with the priest.
- The Boondock Saints opens with a powerful shot of a Catholic priest in a beautiful church... reciting the Protestant formula of the Lord's Prayer. (The Catholic Mass has a short invocation by the priest in between "deliver us from evil" and the doxology, and the latter section is omitted entirely when the Our Father is recited outside of Mass. Also, the Lord's Prayer comes after the Eucharistic Prayer, not before the homily.)
- Actually some priests will say a short prayer before the homily. Often it's the Hail Mary, but I knew one priest who said the Our Father (he said the Catholic version though).
- In Henry Poole Is Here the main character, Luke Wilson's, home has a supposed miraculous appearing of the Face of Christ on a wall. The claim is investigated by a priest played by George Lopez none the less along with most of the film using Catholic imagery. Justified by the fact that the movie is set in a suburb of LA and the majority of the surrounding neighbors are Hispanic Catholics.
- Dogma features two fallen angels attempting to destroy the world by disrupting a Catholic church's anniversary celebration, and George Carlin's character is the Catholic priest more concerned with the event going off without a hitch than the warnings about the angels.
- Oddly enough, the movie postulates that Catholic dogma can undo all of creation but no mention is made of conflicting dogmatic prinicples found in hundreds of other denominations, some of which, predate Catholicism.
- The 2008 adaptation of Brideshead Revisited is a strange subversion of this trope. The director stated in several interviews that he had a problem with all organized religion, but further remarks indicated that what he meant by that was actually the more evangelical strains of Christianity. In the film, the main family portrayed is very Catholic—as Evelyn Waugh, author of the novel the movie was loosely based upon, made them—but their actions and beliefs as portrayed in the movie (not the novel) are not Catholic—they're evangelical Christian. Given the themes of the book, it's safe to say that this is a good example of missing the point.
- Stigmata is about a priest investigating a woman who has manifested the title wounds and speaks in tongues.
- Made very funny, as (former altar boy) Roger Ebert points out, because the filmmakers think that the woman's having been entered by the Holy Ghost is the same thing as demonic possession.
- Subverted in The Blues Brothers. While the orphanage where Jake and Elwood grew up is clearly Catholic (and run by Creepy Nuns, no less), the only religious service the brothers attend is at the VERY evangelical Triple Rock Baptist Church. Then again, if James Brown was a pastor...
- For Your Eyes Only features James Bond and his associates disguised as Catholic monks (complete with brown cloaks, hoods and sandals) trying to fit in ... at Meteora, a region in Greece with six Christian Orthodox monasteries built on rock pillars. Orthodox monks wear black robes, trousers and normal shoes, have no hoods and sport glorious beards and long hair. Hardly an inconspicuous disguise. Exchange monks perhaps?...Q "does it better", although meeting with 007 in a confession booth is a very "Catholic" touch...
- "Forgive me Father for I have sinned." "That's putting it mildly, 007!"
- Implied in the first Ghost Rider film. When Blackheart enters a church and talks to a priest, he is Italian, presumably because he's Catholic.
- Averted in The Deer Hunter: The characters are Catholic, but they're Eastern Catholic (Ruthenian to be precise). Some reviews of the film have misidentified them as Eastern Orthodox.
- Averted in Black Narcissus, which features an Anglican sisterhood. They're Anglo-Catholic instead of Roman Catholic.
- Home Movies made an attempt to avert by having the main character be a Methodist priest, complete with a priest collar. He was married and had children which is in keeping with protestant ministers, however.
- In Desperado, El Mariarchi goes to confession, and in the other scene, he makes a sign of the cross. Protestants do not practice any of these.
- Of course, El is Mexican, so Catholic is a safe assumption.
- Walt Disney films love this trope. Read the article first
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame is likely the best example, though, it is justified, because the whole movie takes place in Notre Dame, and everyone knows that it is a Catholic church.
- Three characters in Robin Hood are religious figures: Friar Tuck, a Church Mouse, and the mouse’s wife, "Little Sister." They are shown taking care of a Catholic church; Friar Tuck rings the bells and the Church Mouse plays the organ.
- Approrpiate for the time, as the events take place long before the Church of England split from the Catholic Church.
- The last segment of Fantasia is called Ave Maria. This hymn is also played.
- Sleeping Beauty's background is inspired from Medieval Catholic art.
- In Pinocchio, the fairy who brings the puppet to life is often interpreted as Mother Mary figure.
- The live-action film, The Littlest Outlaw features a sympathetic priest, and several sequences take place around the Catholic Church.
- Of course, since so many Disney films are adaptations of fairy tales that predate the Reformation, it's not as if there's much of a choice.
- Odd example in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Catholic Spanish see the supernatural oddity throughout the films from a very Christian/Catholic viewpoint. The English (who, at least correctly here, aren't Catholic, except possibly Gibbs) don't seem to have any religion at all — as far as they're concerned it's just a law and order issue. This is probably due to the two stereotypes of Spaniards being ignorant and superstitious and Catholicism being much more high-profile aesthetically than Protestantism.
- Averted in Frailty. While the family's religion is never discussed in the final cut of the film, a deleted scene reveals them to be Baptist. Bill Paxton stated that he cut the scene in order to make them "generically Christian."
- The U.S. version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has an odd example. Mikael was trying to figure out what certain combinations of letters and numbers meant. His daughter visited him on the way to Bible camp during this time, saw the papers and asked him to "go easy on the Catholics." We find out that she recognized the references as biblical verses, and thought her journalist father was doing a story on the Catholic Church. Since Sweden in general views the Catholic Church as strange and foreign, and the film was released in the backwash of the most recent Pedophile Priest scandal... it fits.
- Averted in 42; the clearly religious manager Branch Rickey is Methodist, and cites Jackie Robinson's Methodist faith as one (more) reason to recruit him.
- Averted in Signs, Mel Gibson, himself famously Catholic, plays a (former) Episcopalian Priest (priests are allowed to marry in that Christian church). Later, he resumes his calling.
- In TheCannonballRun, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., dress as Catholic priests to try to fool their way through roadblocks. It doesn't help when they are trying to pick a couple of other racers. Adrienne Barbeau's character quips, "Sorry Father, that hasn't been allowed for almost 2000 years!" Martin yells to Davis, "Next time, METHODISTS, METHOOODIIISTS!!"
- Stephen King:
- One of the subplots in King's Needful Things involves a conflict between Catholics and Baptists in Castle Rock, Maine that escalates into a murderous riot.
- However, other religious characters in his work (Margaret White from Carrie, Mother Abagail from The Stand, Vera Smith from The Dead Zone, David Carver from Desperation, Paul Edgecombe from The Green Mile) are Protestant.
- Averted in the Honor Harrington series. The Grayson state church is very much Protestant.
- They go far enough from mainstream theology over a thousand years they are a kind of Space Mormons.
- While the Queen of Manticore is 2nd Reformation Catholic, Honor herself is Protestant of a variety that maybe inspired from the Author's own. However, many other faiths are shown to exist, including Jewish members. Interfaith issues are given quite a bit of time in At All Costs. Especially the marriage issues for faiths with polygamy and those that restrict it.
- The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, features a future Empire of Man that possesses an official State Church. The Church is obviously a descendant of the Catholic Church, to the point that its Headquarters is called 'New Rome'. When a first contact expedition to an extraterrestrial civilization is mounted, the government sees fit to send along a priest as the Church's representative to the locals.
- The Da Vinci Code (and anything else by Dan Brown): In Brown's conspiracy theories, "The Church", meaning the Roman Catholic Church, is able to suppress knowledge everywhere in the world. Brown and his characters refer specifically and constantly to "The Church" as a world-wide power, which of course they are, though not to the extent of this representation. Since the story partially takes place at a time when the Church was the only allowed religion, and then in the country of Italy, often within the walls of the Vatican, it's understandable why this would be. As far as Dan Brown's accounts of the Catholic Church in history, and Her relationship with various famous figures and events, well, let's just leave it by saying that there is a reason Dan Brown had a trope named after him. Dan Brown Fails History Forever, then goes back around and fails at science, too. And that's just what he does once per chapter.
- Finally averted in The Lost Symbol where the only clergyman playing any significant role is an Episcopalian.
- Partial exception: H. P. Lovecraft's novella The Haunter of the Dark involves a Cosmic Monster-worshipping Cult that was routed by an alliance between Father O'Malley and the Reverend Doctor Drowne, a Baptist. The Catholics, however, are much better represented, including a crowd of Italians who show up at the story's climax to try to contain the trapped demon. It's almost strange that this would happen—Lovecraft is famous for being terribly bigoted, and he lived in the 1920s and earlier: a period known for its resentment of immigrants (being southern and eastern Europeans, they would generally be Catholic).
- This is probably due to the church in which the monster was sealed in being based on a real church in Providence (though it doesn't exist anymore). The church was, as the story depicts, located in the area of the city that was home to a large immigrant population, most of them from southern Europe.
- Furthermore, the Italians were present because they were depicted as uniformly superstitious lot, who in this case happened to be right in their fears.
- His Dark Materials: Lyra's Earth had an alternate history where Catholicism and Protestantism reached an accommodation and reunited. In addition to Pope Calvin, the Vatican was moved from Rome to Geneva. This allows Pullman to demonize the worst elements of both Catholicism and Calvinism in one go. The trope applies, however, not because only Catholicism exists in Lyra's world but because "Christianity" is only represented by Catholicism with no attempt to differentiate.
- Lampshaded in Mercedes Lackey's Jinx High, in which a character pursued by demons considers sheltering in a nearby church, because in movies demons can't set foot on holy ground. She decides against it because the movies always show Catholic churches and this one is Methodist.
- Subverted in Catch-22, when Chaplain Tappman (or Shipman, depending on the version), constantly reminds people that they don't need to call him "Father," as he's an Anabaptist. A secondary Running Gag is that it confuses people into thinking that he's just declaring he isn't a Baptist.
- In Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Mission of Honour, a Hollywood Voodoo sorcerer and his army of Pagan revivalists attempt to eliminate Christianity from their country by kidnapping a Catholic missionary and blackmailing the Vatican. Good luck considering their country is Botswana, a former British colony where over 60% of the population is Protestant of some kind and Catholics amount to 5% at best.
- Walter Miller Jr's A Canticle for Leibowitz chronicles the history of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz, a group of Catholic monks who dedicate themselves to preserving human knowledge after a devastating nuclear war. (Partially, and cleverly, subverted by the fact that the namesake saint of this order was Jewish.)
- In John Barnes's Sin of Origin, one of the three main human nations in the 22nd century is the Christian Commonwealth. It's trappings and organization is explicitly Catholic, there's even an order of Knights Templar, although they aren't particularly Knight Templarish, as it's military arm. What happened to the Protestant and Orthodox branches of Christianity is never even mentioned.
- Averted in much of Robert Heinlein's work, where the threat of a fundamentalist Protestant takeover was a recurring thread.
- But played straight in a side comment in Stranger in a Strange Land — transubstantiation is not a universal Christian belief.
- In Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, Prof. Van Helsing, the one guy who knows how to deal with vampires, is a devout Catholic. Jonathan Harker, however, is at least nominal Anglican.
- Averted in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. While there are several prominent Catholic characters, including the two main ones, there are others who are Anglicans, Presbyterians and Quakers. In fact the relations and tensions between the groups are a significant subtheme in the series.
- Averted in John Ringo's Special Circumstances series. The protagonist is Episcopalian, and several other flavors of Christianity are mentioned at various points in the story.
- Although not treated as the only variety of Christianity, The Legacy of the Aldenata books co-written with Tom Kratman do have a focus on Catholicism (in part because of Kratman's faith), although the main Posleen character in The Tuloriad is ordained in several different faiths, including some Protestant ones.
- Out of the Christians mentioned in The Dresden Files, only one of them is not a Catholic - Shiro became a Baptist accidentally, confusing "meet the King (God)" with "meet the King (Elvis Presley)" when he was a kid.
- In Franz Werfel's fantasy far-future in Star Of The Unborn, the Catholic church has re-absorbed all other Christian bodies; and indeed, seems to be the only religion left in a largely Generic Humanistic world, except for a small remnant of Jews. It should be noted that Werfel, author of The Song Of Bernadette, although Jewish himself had a thorough knowledge of Catholic thought and has a passage taking on the theological implications of the double survival. The auctorial persona also worries that readers may be upset at referring to a hierarch as "Grand Bishop" and not "Archbishop". A piece of historical backstory recalls the reunion of the Roman and Eastern churches, to the acute chagrin of the Thing That Used to Be Communism.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky's fiction prominently features Russian Orthodox Christians, and portrays Catholicism as something foreign and frightening. Dostoevsky was himself Orthodox, and hated Catholicism (particularly the Jesuit order). The Idiot even includes a scene where Prince Myshkin launches into a Character Filibuster denouncing Catholicism as anti-Christian, and worse than atheism.
- Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn: Aeodonism is more or less, the copy of the Roman Catholic Church in Medieval Times.
- C. S. Lewis recounted that allegories of Christianity, regardless of denomination, tend to be viewed as Catholic. This was, he thought, because Catholicism gives central concepts embodied form, while the Protestants interpreted them more etherally. All, for instance, would agree that Christians were to be set apart from the world, which could allegorically be presented by a wall — but is also expressed in the enclosures of monks and nuns.
- Averted in The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. Sookie is an onagain/offagain Methodist.
- Averted in Diane Mott Davidson's "Goldy Shultz" mysteries. Goldy, and most of the characters whose religion is mentioned at all, are Episcopalian.
- In the Sister Fidelma series, set in seventh-century Ireland, Catholicism has not yet become paramount. It clashes frequently with Celtic Christianity, and both (referred to as the New Faith) clash with declining Druidic paganism. The differences and rivalries play a large part in many novels.
- 1066 and All That has the British provincial version: the English have been Anglicans ever since they converted to Christianity. Henry VIII did not secede from the Catholic Church; the Pope and his followers seceded from the Church of England.
Live Action TV
- E Nomine tends to focus on Catholic Christianity, generally because it's ominous and it goes well with the industrial-gothic tone of their songs. Groups after them have tried the same exact route.
- Metal in general, because everything's more evil with Latin and Gothic aesthetics.
- Averted with country music and most forms of blues music, which of course have their roots in the historically Protestant South.
- This explains why the Contemporary Christian Music industry, historically based out of Nashville, tends to be dominated by Protestants. Some artists who identify as Catholic have attained popularity in CCM, though their lyrics tend to avoid doctrinal specifics. Contemporary Catholic Music does exist as its own subgenre, but bring up the name of a prominent Catholic artist to a frequent listener of Christian radio and you'll probably get a blank stare.
- Of course, jazz was influenced by second line marches in Catholic funerals, considering New Orleans is predominately Catholic due to its French colonial history. This goes even further back to France itself, and the lively 16th century "tombeaux", which were songs that memorialized and celebrated the life of the deceased.
- The song "That Doesn't Make Sense" by Whitney Avalon describes a few religions, and the only kind of Christianity mentioned is Catholicism.
- Garrison Keillor's "News from Lake Wobegon" anecdotes from A Prairie Home Companion often allude to the relationship between the town's Lutherans and Catholics, and if anything the trope is inverted; Keillor has joked that "Even the Catholics up here are Lutheran."
- White Wolf's Vampire: The Requiem inverts this trope: The Vampire Christian(ity based) Lancea Sanctum are supposedly mostly 'Catholic', but aside from using Catholic titles and rites, their teachings are completely Gnostic/Protestant.
- Hell, that's practically its own trope, in some quarters: Every Religion Is Actually Gnosticism.
- Hunter: The Vigil also takes a stab at it, with three different Christianity-based compacts/conspiracies: the Malleus Malificarum, who are Catholic; the Order of St. George, who are Anglican; and the Long Night, who are fundamentalist Protestants. The Malleus Malificarum and the Order of St. George aren't on the best of terms, and while the Long Night will work with the Malleus when the chips are down, most of them view the Malleus as agents of "the Great Whore of Babylon," the Roman Catholic Church.
- In In Nomine, the two Archangels who promote Christianity (Dominic and Laurence) have a preference for Catholicism over other creeds.
- And when Gabriel appears to Mohammad, creating Islam, she cops so much strife for it that she barely visits Heaven anymore.
- The MMORPG Ragnarok Online has a priest healer class with Catholic-themed skill names (in Latin, no less!) such as "Signum Crucis" (Sign of the Cross), "Impositio Manus" (Laying-on of hands), "Angelus" (a Catholic prayer) and "Magnus Exorcismus" (Great Exorcism). However the Catholicity ends with the questionably dressed female priest characters.
- Although female Acolytes, the class preceding Priest, are one of the most conservatively dressed classes in any MMORPG ever. There may be some symbolism going on here, like the progression into womanhood (ala Nuns Are Mikos and the Miko's association with purity/virginity)
- And the male Priest's attire is a bit questionable and all, you know, at least for the profession.
- To make things even stranger, the game itself is supposed to be based on Norse mythology, with some NPCs even making references to the Norse gods in a way that suggests they exist in-universe.
- Could be that the religion in the world is a syncretized one?
- The Church of St. Ajora in Final Fantasy Tactics, whose central figure (Saint Ajora) is a very thinly-veiled analogy of Jesus Christ, has very notable Catholic traits. The clergy's hierarchy, the Templar Knights, the architecture, and several aspects of the doctrine and ritual are based on early Catholicism.
- These obviously deliberate similarities make it even harder to believe that they weren't trying to take Refuge in Audacity by having St. Ajora be both demonic and the Big Bad.
- Averted in Half-Life 2. Father Gregori, the only real Christian presence in the game, appears to be a Greek Orthodox priestnote .
- Not that this is in any way represented in-game, but the backstory of Sword of the Stars uses this trope. Justified by, apparently, having all other major religions and christian denomination being either wiped out or heavily marginalized during interspecies fighting prior to first contact. Catholicism is described as having eight billion adherents, and is being exported to the Tarka who find the idea of a self-sacrificing peaceful god to be interesting.
- Pretty much the entire Dragon Quest series is steeped in Catholic cosmetics to the point of it being half the setting. Huge hats, abbeys and cathedrals everywhere, nuns, Knights Templar, saving your game via confession. The plots of games 8 and 9 revolve almost entirely around Catholic-themed culture, and take it in exact opposite directions respectively.
- Love And War has the Church of Infinity, which could honestly be viewed as an Expy of the Catholic Church. They have their own country, just like the real-world Vatican; their head is the Pontiff; their current pontiff is called Pious XXI; and their bishops, archbishops and nuns wear traditionally Catholic outfits. In the remake, Henrik Spenson, who is a member, even has a cross, or perhaps a rosary, in his room.
- Played straight in Fallout 3, in which the only church in the wasteland is the heavily Catholic-influenced Church of St. Monica.
- Averted in the Honest Hearts DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, where the devoutly religious New Canaanites belong to the LDS Church. The religion of the tribes living in the Zion Valley seems to be a blend of Christianity and native animistic beliefs.
- The Fox Sister: Averted with Alex being Methodist.
- Averted in Little Tales, Uriel is an Anglican minister, but many fans express confusion that he can be a priest and married.
- It is very common in Youtube videos and photo websites purporting to show photographic evidence of Vatican involvement in the Third Reich to include photos of Protestant Reich Churches, and Protestant clergy and worshipers, (often of the Deutsche Christen, DC, variety). Probably the most infamous person whose website features this would be Tony Alamo (though his infamy is for unrelated reasons). That page is pretty humorous if you are aware that the most common subject of the photographs, Ludwig Muller was the most powerful Protestant in Nazi Germany. For a political analogy, it would be like if a German made a website denouncing the US Democratic Party, but then put a bunch of pictures of Bush on it (and compensated for this by inserting the word Democrat before President Bush every time in the caption to fool unknowledgable viewers). Also, with Muller on the top left (and in the right photo as well), and Protestant Bishop Friedrich Coch on the top right, it means the top features on the "Nazi Catholic Vaticanites" website are, in reality, solely prominent Protestants.
- In the Chaos Timeline, there is no big Catholic-Protestant split (except for some minor, uninfluential movements). Instead, power gradually shifted to the governments of the Catholic nations - a bit like our Anglicanism, or Gallican church, while the rituals and most of the doctrine were kept unchanged. (In this world's Nippon, the tenno frex is head of the Nipponese Catholic church!) The Pope was gradually reduced to a mere figurehead - although this changed unexpectedly again when he had to go to Australia after the revolution in Britain.
- Reverend Lovejoy in The Simpsons is Protestant, true, but he's fairly "High Church": fancy robes, stained glass and all that. Looks almost Catholic. It has been suggested he is Episcopalian. However, an episode dealing with Creationism showed him having contempt for Episcopalians, and an episode in which Bart and Homer converted to Catholicism revealed that his denomination is in fact the Western branch of the New Reformed American Presbylutherans (a denomination that broke with the Catholic Church over the right to attend to church with wet hair — which they have since abolished).
- The creators even stated that Lovejoy was supposed to be a generic Christian religion and thus was deliberately designed to present several clashing elements, making any kind of identification impossible. Most notable is his wardrobe. He wears a Catholic collar, but Episcopalian robes. The church's leader is the Parson, who is "the earthly embodiment of the elected chair of the national congress of deacons."
- In "Like Father, Like Clown", Lovejoy co-hosts an ecumenical radio talk show with a Catholic priest and Jewish rabbi (who's Krusty the Clown's father).
- In an episode where it was feared Grandpa Simpson might die:
Marge: Shouldn't we give him the Last Rites?
Rev. Lovejoy: That's Catholic, Marge. You may as well ask me to do some kind of voodoo dance!
- When Bart and Homer convert to Catholicism in "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star", Marge is given a glimpse of Catholic Heaven (with Mariachi, Pinatas, spaghetti dinners, Irish pubs, Riverdance, and fistfighting) and Protestant Heaven (with badminton and croquet, and everyone talking in vaguely British accents). At one point it's revealed that Jesus himself has been hanging out in Catholic Heaven a lot, leading one of the Protestants to cluck, "He's gone native" - which would suggest that Jesus is a Protestant, despite living 1,500 years before Protestantism existed.
- In Family Guy, Peter's father Francis is Catholic. Many cutaway gags involve the Pope.
- In fact, "The Father, the Son and the Holy Fonz" suggested that the entire family is Catholic, sans Lois, who is Protestant, and Brian, who is an atheist (apparently, although this was mentioned in a later episode). In fact, Lois being Protestant was the main (and probably only) reason of why Francis hated her so much. Curiously, Lois sometimes is seen trying to convince the rest of the Griffins to go to (a Catholic) church. Wouldn't he be happy she converted?
- Though it's justified, as Rhode Island has the highest proportion of Catholics in the nation, and the Griffin family is explicitly Irish-American, who are also mostly Catholic.
- Francis aside, the family's status as belonging to any religion at all is subject to the whims of the joke. Usually it never comes up, occasionally Peter mocks Christians, and on at least one occasion he rejects the traditional "Everybody Poops" for potty training Stewie in favor of "You're a Naughty Child and That's Concentrated Evil Coming Out the Back of You" on the basis that they're Catholic.
- The Griffins explify the second largest Christian denomination after Catholocism: Lapsed Catholics
- South Park is an egregious example. Every inhabitants of South Park who is not Jewish is Catholic, there are no explicitly Protestant characters (in Real Life Colorado, the State South Park is located in, 44% of the population is Protestant, only 19% is Catholic). But most annoying of all, the show sometimes mock beliefs and ideas that are presented as "Catholic" even though they are, in fact, hold by some Protestants but not by the Catholic Church. For instance, they repeatedly assume that the Catholic Church is "against the theory of evolution" which is not the case (see Pius XII' "Humani Generis" (1950) and other declarations by his successors).
- Other gaffes include all the men in town dressing up in Ku Klux Klan robes to scare away black families moving into the area (although one of those men was a practicing Jew anyway, so that gag could have just been for Rule of Funny) and a visiting character from New England referring to the townspeople as "hick jock redneck stereotypes," which would ordinarily denote Protestants.
- Averted in Moral Orel, set in the decidedly Evangelical Protestant town of Moralton.
- Averted in King of the Hill, The Hill family belongs to a Methodist church.
- Justified, as Catholicism was historically rare in Texas among families who were not of Hispanic, Irish, or Polish descent.
- Averted in American Dad!, the Smiths are Episcopalian, except for Hayley (who is an atheist).
- There was a certain stretch of time where all Christians regarded themselves as being part of a single "Catholic" (which means "universal" in Greek) church, right up until the Great Schism of 1054 between Rome and Constantinople (although the cracks had been showing for many years before). Whether or not that early church is the Roman one, or one of the Orthodox churches, is a point of friction between these denominations.
- Though the formal split occurred at around 1054, cracks were already showing between East and West around about 700 AD. And while the Schism of 1054 was the first major split, there were many small groups who splintered off the bigger church centuries before. Examples of such groups that continue to exist are the Assyrian Church of the East and the Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox churches.
- The importance of the 1054 split has been heavily exaggerated by polemical historians; the actual events in question read like absurdist farce, and the two halves nearly reunited on several occasions after that, only to splinter apart again at the last second.
- All of those communions have, over the past few decades, made "common Christological declarations," meaning that all of the main theological issues between them have been, well, retconned. The key difficulty around reunification is partially political (Eastern Orthodox churches are independent of one another, the Copts could face reprisals from the Egyptian government and the Assyrians are going extinct because of the Iraq War—of the two main divisions not already in Communion with Rome, the patriarch of one is in exile in Damascus and the other is in Chicago), partially because the Russians hate the Romans and partially because the issues of Papal primacy and infallibility are not going to be compromised upon anytime soon.
- Of course, there are a few theological and moral obstacles as well. For example, the Catholic Church does not regard as valid the marriages of divorced persons as long as their previous spouses are still alive. Then there's controversy about contraception, and divine simplicity, much of which has to do with papal primacy and authority.
- The troubles between Russian (and, for that part, most other Orthodox Churches) are indeed mainly political. Russians hate Romans because they (with some justification) feel that Rome is encroaching on their ecclesiastical turf, and given their current comfortable relations with The Government, they don't exactly want competition. And then there's a whole papacy notion — in all Orthodox Churches all bishops are theologically equal, and no one can stand above in the matter of faith, so the whole notion of papacy and papal infallibility is a heresy to the Orthodox. When an Orthodox bishop has to address a Pope, he would call him "our Brother the Archbishop of Rome" because of that.
- Well, he could be the Patriarch of Rome, if the current Pope hadn't recently renounced his title of "Patriarch of the West".
- You're also forgetting the Oriental Orthodox Church, which split from the mainstream in AD 451.
- Before the Orthodox-Catholic split there were various branches which one might call "denominations". However, in those early days a common way to handle schisms was to declare such splinter groups heretical in their teachings. One thing which raised plenty of different interpretations (i.e. heresies) was how exactly the Holy Trinity worked.
- Often inverted in day-to-day situations, if only because of the United States' and other countries' strong Protestant traditions. Proclaiming Catholicism is also Christianity (especially with children, and/or Protestant fundamentalists of various types) is asking for the knee-jerk rebuttal of "no it's not!" The assumption that "Christianity" only refers to Protestantism has led to some...strange situations to say the least. For example, once upon a time, two of the original five officially recognized religions in Indonesia were "Kristen" and "Katolik".
- The California Department of Corrections only recognizes five religions as valid for paid chaplains, although unpaid volunteers of other faiths are permitted to administer to their flocks, a policy currently being challenged in court. The religions? Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and "Native American" (probably referring to the Native American Church). Guess the Orthodox (among many others) are screwed.
- Sorry, pagans. Only prayer of the Native American pantheon and Jehovah is allowed.
- Despite the split, Orthodox and Catholics are generally allowed to attend each other's Divine Liturgies (Masses) in special circumstances, since they consider each other's Sacraments/Sacred Mysteries to be valid. The two circumstances most often listed are, in fact, in prison and on a battlefield.
- Attend each other's Masses, yes, but not necessarily receive communion. An Orthodox church is not supposed to offer communion to a non-Orthodox Christian nor is an Orthodox believer supposed to receive it from a non-Orthodox minister. (Traditional Catholicism *does* allow the offering of communion to the Orthodox, though not to Protestants, because the Orthodox have valid apostolic succession. It's complicated.)
- Played straight in countries with a Catholic majority. In France for example, the terms "Christian" and "Catholic" mean the same thing for a lot of people due to Protestantism's scarcity.
- In countries with Protestant majorities the opposite is sometimes through, and Christianity, in daily use, becomes "any Christians but Catholics". In the Netherlands it's pretty normal to ask whether someone is a Christian or a Catholic.
- Nevertheless this trope has become more common in the Netherlands, since secularisation has rendered Protestantism smaller than Catholicism there. In addition Protestantism (barring several ultra-orthodox communities in the Bible Belt) is mostly liberal, whereas Catholicism is conservative and sometimes generates contoversy in the highly liberal Netherlands. Both its relative size (vis-a-vis Protestantism) and its relative conservatism help highlight the religion in the wider landscape and consequently give rise to the use of the trope.
- Depends on the area as well. The Netherlands once had a war that lasted 80 years which divided the country in a northern Protestant part and a southern Catholic part. In certain areas of certain countries, you can pretty much guess if people are Protestant, Catholic or other.
- The United States Supreme Court has, for the first time in its history, no Protestant judges. In fact, it has six Catholics and three Jews (for context, the Court is now over 33 percent Jewish, while the nation they represent is less than 3 percent Jewish!). Oddly enough, the nation has had only one Catholic President out of 43. Kennedy's religion was a matter of controversy at the time, as Americans have been traditionally wary of Catholicism's recognition of a European figure as a seat of authority (the Pope).
- Joe Biden is the first Catholic Vice President, out of 47 Vice Presidents.
- Christianity Is Catholic can be justified in works involving demons, as Catholics are one of very few Christian sects that still trains exorcists.
- Interestingly enough, it happens within Catholicism itself, especially considering the fact that Catholics are pretty diverse in practices, "non-essential" beliefs and alignments. Catholics in America, for example, are distinct from Italian or Peruvian ones. And that's not counting the various factions, such as the Conservatives, Liberals, Traditionalists, Sedevacantists, etc.
- The distinctions between conservatives and liberals are not necessarily the same as the diversity of practices and Rites. Long story short, one can be a Byzantine Rite Catholic or a Latin Right Catholic and both be considered traditionalists that go to the same conventions, similarly you can be a Mexican Catholic with your own cultural baggage of approved/ok'd non-essential beliefs and practices and still go hang out with your Irish Catholic Buddy with his May Altar and St.Brigid's crosses and still both be considered Traditionalists. The Conservative/Liberal thing is largely referring to liturgical rigors, Nature of Christ and strictures or morality and how one views the Second Vatican Council and the Council of Trent respectively and thus is considered alot more significant and controversial then the other differences between Catholics.
- In Medieval Europe, the Roman Catholic Church (and Eastern Orthodox) was the only Christian Church, until the Reformation (which took place during Renaissance) when Protestantism evolved.
- All the tropers that were raised Catholic in their childhood probably felt that way. Until they learned about the existence of other Christian denominations.
- On this very wiki some examples that were stated to be this trope were actually using trappings of Orthodox Christianity or High Church Anglicanism, which share some general formal and ritual features despite being different in most other areas.
- Happens often with other religions:
- Paganism is also often thought to always be witchcraft
- As pointed out on the Informed Judaism page, there is a strange inverse of this, where people will assume anyone claiming or pegged to be Jewish must practice Judaism.