In a comment to this post on his own blog, Bruce Charlton writes,
“Surely, on the surface and with common sense criteria and from hard facts widely known, Mormonism should be approached [by non-Mormon Christians] with a *positive* prejudice – on the assumption that it is likely to be good, to be wholesome, to be Christian …”
I would say on the contrary that Mormonism is understandably approached with skepticism by non-Mormon Christians. It must be, when it immediately proclaims that “their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt”. Now the Christian creeds may indeed be an abomination in his sight, and their professors all corrupt. That’s a question of fact upon which people can disagree in good faith. But how can Mormons complain of prejudice against them from other denominations, when this was their opening salvo to the entire, already-existing Christian world?
As to the Catholic faith in particular, when Joseph Smith proclaimed that the valid priesthood was lost from the earth over a millennium before, and there were therefore no valid sacraments or ordinances except the ones he said he was restoring, this was a direct attack on the Apostolic succession upon which the Catholic faith is based. So of course, of course the Church looked on Mormonism as an interloper and an imposter.
For these (and possibly other) reasons, the very best the Catholic Church can do is try to see the good in Mormons and in the LDS Church organization and some of the works that it does. It is simply not possible to view it as a genuine and authentic Christian church (though I don’t say that Mormons themselves are not Christians, as readers of this blog can attest). It must be viewed as propounding harmful, because false, doctrines; and as an obstacle to people finding the true Church founded by Christ, with the true priesthood and sacraments, since it deliberately sets itself up as a direct rival to that Church, that priesthood and those sacraments.
That doesn’t mean we have to be constantly at war. Hopefully since we both claim the name of Christ we would be charitable towards one another. Nevertheless, at least with regards to such important issues as the priesthood and the sacraments, we would both naturally feel the need to speak frankly about the other so that people are not led astray. Neither church would want its members to believe that it doesn’t matter whether you go to a Mormon priest or a Catholic priest to receive the sacraments; so we both must be free to say that this other priesthood and sacraments are false and these are true, these are salvific and these others are worthless, without being accused of bigotry.
* I submitted this (substantially though not exactly as it appears here) as a comment to Bruce’s post, but it didn’t get posted for whatever reason. Since he has posted a few other comments of mine in the past couple days, I don’t accuse him of censorship in this instance but assume it was an oversight.