PA'PIST,n. A Roman catholic; one that adheres to the church of Rome and the authority of the pope. (Webster 1828)
A few people have griped about my use of the word "papist." I would use "Roman catholic," except that (a) people get confused and think I mean "Latin Rite," and (b) the term "Catholic" to describe a Roman catholic, or papist, is mis-descriptive.
Here's my request for assistance from those who bridle at the designator "papist."
1. Try to realize that I'm just indicating the definition above. I'm not trying to impugn your character, mock your ancestors, or cast aspersions on your intellect or sincerity.
2a. Try to set aside your ideas that if someone uses that term, they must not like papists as people. For whatever reason (I ascribe it to a sincere belief in the soteriological importance of works), some of the nicest, most personable people I've met have been devout papists. Some of my most stimulating intellectual and theological discussions have been with papists, many of whom are very bright.
2b. That said, I do (strongly) disagree with your doctrine. There is no Scriptural doctrine of the papacy, and it is wrong for Rome to teach such a doctrine, and wrong for you (or anyone) to accept such a doctrine, since it is not from God (notice that this is just a statement of my position, not the argument for my position).
3. In short, do not mentally impose some unintended (by me) negative connotation onto my use of the term "papist".
4. If there exists an accepted synonym for "papist" that lacks the connotations you dislike, let me know what it is. I've seen "papalist," but that - to me - just sounds like someone who doesn't know how to spell "papist."
5. "Catholic," which is what seems to be about the only acceptable label to some of the more vocal complainers on this topic, is not an option for me, because I am unwilling to cede the title "Catholic" to church that is not only not itself catholic, but has departed departed from the catholic faith as defined by Scripture. As I have to remind certain people, your church is not "the Church," and your church is not "catholic" both because it is not universal either in scope (there are Christian churches that are not in communion with Rome) or authority (there are Christian churches that do not owe a duty of obedience to Rome) and because the way of salvation taught by Rome is not the way of salvation set forth in Scripture.
6. Another option, "Romanist," has been similarly tarred as being objectionable, for essentially the same reason that it has negative connotations. Furthermore, "Romanist," runs the risk of being confused as being relevant only to "Latin rite" folks.
7. Frankly, I get the feeling that the main response that is going to be running through the heads of those who accept the authority of the pope and who read this is, "Just call us 'Catholics'!" In fact, I get the feeling that some folks out there are set on being offended by any other label, no matter innocuous it is in itself, or how well or accurately it describes those folks' theological position. I recognize that this post, or a hundred more like it, will do nothing to persuade such people. Such people are not considering the matter rationally, but emotionally. Nevertheless, if there is an easy way to accommodate them without sacrificing the truth, I'd be happy to hear the suggestions.
I welcome suggestions from those who are papists by the definition above, but who might not like that term or who might even find that term something unpleasant or revolting, despite the fact that it simply and accurately describes one's adherence to a principle of church government (much as I am a Presbyterian, while other Reformed folk are congregationalist or episcopalian in their church government).
Remember that your suggestions are primarily for me, although I may share them with others - particularly others who are in the same position as me, of being essentially told that unless we use an incorrect and/or misleading term we're hurting your feelings (something that is not our purpose [well, perhaps I should just speak for myself: it is not my purpose to hurt anyone's feelings by the use of the word "papist" no matter how much people may dislike that term]).
Finally, a word of caution. Some people employ radical double-standards on this issue. I quote from "Julie R." who identifies what offends her as: "Being labelled 'Roman' Catholic. Well, incidentally, I am of the Latin Rite. But on behalf of my non-Latin rite friends... Also, because of the origin of the term in Deformation England. " (source - with more examples)
Notice how she uses the purely derogatory term "Deformation," which is designed to express an opinion about the thing being described, while complaining about the fairly mild (if at all offensive) term "Roman" being affixed to "Catholic."
In the same thread, MaryRita states: "Perhaps I'm thin skinned but the term "papist" really offends me. I guess because it is meant as a slur by those using it." Presumably if MaryRita ever sees this post she'll recognize that I don't use it as a slur, but simply as an accurate description of ecclesiology. I wonder whether she would still insist on being offended by it. I would hope not.
Finally, I should point out that "Seminole Jim" later in the same thread states: "I rather like "Papist" and refer to myself that way if I'm asked what religion I am." His sentiments are immediately echoed by another user "jmcrae." I just happened to stumble across these two today. I can assure you that there are plenty of others who feel the same way.