I prefer to think of Catholicism as another expression of the Christian faith. But I must admit, I've caught myself referring to Catholicism at times as if it were an entirely different animal. Its an easy mistake to stumble into & I wonder if it has anything to do with the way I was indoctrinated. I was raised to believe that Catholics were a cult who most certainly weren't Christians. I was raised to believe that they worshipped Mary. They knelt before the reprehensible figure of a humiliated Christ on the cross. They prayed repetitiously & babbled like pagans because that's what they were.
But I've not found these things to be true at all. I've heard more scripture in the last 5 months of Masses than I've heard in a whole year of Protestant services. The so called humiliated Christ is a more effective reminder of His love & sacrifice than an empty cross ever was. Yes, He rose & resides in Heaven. But I think the victory was in the dying, in overcoming the flesh. He didn't want to do it, but He knew He had to fulfill His Father's will. The humiliated Christ is what Christians are called to emulate when He tells us to take up our cross & follow Him. Where are we going? To Golgatha, just like Him. Only when we have fully died to our will can we fully live to the Father's. I think Catholics might have the better handle on this concept. Jesus didn't say that because He died for our sins we wouldn't have to die either. He simply said "follow me". As for Mary, she gets her 15 seconds of fame in the Mass when we bow to honour her during a few lines of the Creed, but she isn't the focal point. Concerning repetition & babbling prayers, I've found the prayers to be well thought out & poetic. The definition of vain repetition is subjective. What may be so for you may not be for me & vice versa.
The pursuit of faith should not be fought in an arena that pits Catholic against Christian. We're not called to a boxing match, but to a race. And we're not competing against one another for the prize of eternal life; we're teammates in the relay, all of us. I will be Catholic & I will be Christian. Not two separate identities, but one.