The Catholic church is not Christian.  (Scroll down for the proof... there's lots of it.)

That is a simple statement with which you can agree or disagree.  Your choice will depend on how you define the terms Catholic and Christian.  (If you make a choice based on "but my friends are Catholic" or "my parents are Catholic" or "my boyfriend/girlfriend is Catholic," realize that that may satisfy you, but it won't satisfy God.)

A Christian is a person who trusts Jesus Christ as their only means of salvation, and who bases that trust solely on the truth revealed by God in the Bible.  (You can read and search the Bible here.)

While completing 13 years of education in Catholic schools, I have learned (over and over) that the Catholic church is an institution that bases its beliefs on "Scripture and Tradition."  The rulebook of the Catholic religion is called the Catechism of the Catholic Church , most recently revised in 1994.  This is ostensibly the product of the Catholic church's belief in Scripture and Tradition.  (You can read the Catechism here.)

The problem with the Catholic church is that their Catechism disagrees with the Bible often, and on very serious, important issues.  If it were honestly based on "Scripture and Tradition," as they claim, then the Catholic church might not be so far off track.  But instead, the ideas found in the Catechism are in direct opposition to scripture.  It appears that the Catholic church isn't happy with God's Word, and they feel they need to go and write their own book of faith.  (The Catechism is ~700-900 pages.)

This wouldn't necessarily be a problem in itself.  It becomes a problem, however, because the Catholic church maintains the lie that they believe in the Bible, and because they claim to be serving God.  In actuality, they have elevated their own ideas above God's, and follow their own traditions instead of turning to God's Word.

Jesus: Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men...Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition.
[Mark 7: 7,8,13]

Pharisees: Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
Jesus' response: Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
[Mark 7: 5,9]

Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
[Matthew 15: 3]

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
[Proverbs 30:5-6]

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
[Revelation 22:18-19]

Compare Catholic doctrine (from the official 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church ) to the Bible, and it's clear that the Catholic church is not Christian. (Note: whenever the Catechism refers to "the Church," it is referring exclusively to the Roman Catholic church.)

[ The credit for the organization of this material goes to Rick Jones.  The table below is basically a list of the discrepancies he points out in his excellent 1995 book, Understanding Roman Catholicism. ]

The Catholic church says... God says...
salvation (do we need a church for it?)
“The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: 'For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.” (#816)

“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation... Hence they could not be saved who...would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” (#846)

“It is in the Church that 'the fulness of the means of salvation' has been deposited. It is in her that 'by the grace of God we acquire holiness.'” (#824)

“Neither is there salvation in any other (than Jesus): for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10,12)

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)

“He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)

“He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47)

“In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7)

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

“To [Jesus] give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)

"...the gospel of the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth...” (Romans 1:16)

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:24)

good works (do we need them for salvation?)
"Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved." (#837)

Baptism (#1257) and other sacraments (#1129) are required for salvation too.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" (Titus 3:5)

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:28) [Note that when the Bible mentions law, it's referring to the moral law of the time, not judicial-system-type law.]

"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith..." (Galatians 3:8)

"Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?" (Mark 7:5) [The Pharisees placed tradition above God's Word, and the Catholic church does the same thing.] Jesus' response: "Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." (Mark 7:9)

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Galatians 2:16 "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" (Romans 5:1)

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven... Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" Jesus will respond to these ones with "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23)

"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:21)

forgiveness of sins (who can forgive sins?)
"By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized..." (#986)

"There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive." (#982)

"The Church, who through the bishop and his priests forgives sins in the name of Jesus Christ..." (#1448)

"Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' " (#1461)

"Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?" (Mark 2:7)

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:32)

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

"I acknowledged my sin unto thee... I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin..." (Psalm 32:5)

"Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins." (King David, Psalm 25:18)

"Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight..." (King David, Psalm 51:2,4)

"Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive." (King Solomon, 2 Chronicles 6:21)

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee." (Psalm 86:5)

the Rock, foundation of the church (who is it?)
Catholicism teaches that Peter is the rock on which the church is built, based on Matthew 16:18.  But if you read 16:16 and 16:17, you see that Jesus was merely replying to Peter, and then he continues to explain that he himself  is the Rock upon which the church shall be built.

"Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Just 5 verses later, Jesus rebukes Peter: "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."  Would Jesus say, "I'm going to build the church upon you, Satan" ?

The Bible teaches us that the only rock is our Lord and savior:

"For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?" (Psalm 18:31)

"Truly my soul waiteth upon God... He only is my rock..." (Psalm 62:1-2)

"... for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:4)

"... I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock..." (Deuteronomy 32:3-4)

"But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge." (Psalm 94:22)

[You] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2: 20)

Peter himself teaches that Jesus is the cornerstone of the church:

" the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth... This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner." (Acts 4:10-11)

"... the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner," (1 Peter 2:7)

"And [Christ] is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things [Christ] might have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18)

"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him [Christ] to be the head over all things to the church," (Ephesians 1:22)

"But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" (Ephesians 4:15)

baptism (is it necessary for salvation?)
"The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation." (#1257) [That is a blatant lie; God's Word teaches salvation through faith alone.]

"The faithful are born anew by Baptism..." (#1212)

"Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, and are incorporated into the Church..." (#1213)

"Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte 'a new creature,' an adopted son of God, who has become a 'partaker of the divine nature,' member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit." (#1265)

"By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin." (#1263, #985)

The Bible teaches that faith alone is necessary for forgiveness and salvation:

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" (John 1:12)

"In whom we have redemption through [Christ's] blood, the forgiveness of sins..." (Ephesians 1:7)

"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel..." (Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:17)

"I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;" (Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:14)

The thief crucified next to Jesus was never baptized, but after simply believing in Jesus, he was granted salvation:

"And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:42,43)

Every instance of Baptism in the Bible happens only after a person repents of their sins and accepts Christ:

"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized..." (Acts 2:41)

"Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan... were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matthew 3:5,6)

"And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." (Acts 8:36-37)

"And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." (Acts 18:8)

"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." (Acts 8:12)

celibacy (should church officials be celibate?)
"All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate 'for the sake of the kingdom of heaven' ... Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God." (#1579)

[The Catholic church also claims Peter as their first pope...]

"Marriage is honourable in all..." (Hebrews 13:4)

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife..." (1 Timothy 3:2)

"Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well." (1 Timothy 3:12)

"...if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (1 Timothy 3:5)

"...the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." (Genesis 2:18)

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

"But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever..." (Mark 1:30).  Matthew 4:18 and 10:2 tell us that Simon is the name by which Jesus called Peter.  So we see that Peter, whom the Catholic church claims as their first "pope", was in fact married.

Also, as reported at wirednews and abcnews on March 20, 2001, along with countless other similar stories throughout history:

The Vatican was forced to concede Tuesday that a report accusing some priests and missionaries of forcing nuns to have sex with them was true. In some cases, according to a report published in Rome's la Repubblica, nuns were raped and then forced to undergo abortions by their attackers. Although the Vatican said the problem was restricted to a certain geographical area, the report (authored by a nun) cited cases in 23 countries, including the United States, Brazil, India, Ireland and Italy. According to la Repubblica ' s  respected Vatican correspondent, Marco Politi, the Holy See has been aware of the problem since the early 1990s.

That's what happens when you force celibacy on people — that's the Catholic church's law, not God's law.