In case you wondered, this is why I’m Catholic

Best Tweet of the day, or perhaps I should say best of the millennium so far:

Yes! That’s what I’m talking about! This is why I’m a Catholic, people!

I don’t just mean that the Pope said something cool, so yay, Catholics….

I mean it speaks to the whole communitarian nature of Catholicism’s appeal to me.

I became a Catholic in 1991, and over the years, when people ask me why, I generally say something like… Being a person with a strong sense of history, I wanted to join the original (in the West, anyway) church, and more than that the universal (which is what catholic means, y’all) church.Franciscus_in_2015

Before that, I had been, technically, a Baptist (I was really pretty nondenominational, but I was baptized in a Baptist church). And (please correct me if I’m explaining this wrong, Baptist friends) each Baptist church sees itself as a separate church. If you go to a Baptist church other than your home church, you are a visitor — a welcome one, in my experience, but a visitor. The universal church is the opposite of that: Wherever you go in the world, you are a communicant of whatever Catholic church you walk into. Back in the days of the Latin Mass, the language would have been the same.

I wanted to be in communion not only with all Catholics in the world today, but with all who had ever lived and ever would live. That’s the way I looked at it. That was my motivation. Not my only motivation, to be sure, but the one I was best able to articulate.

Looks like maybe the Pope is Catholic for some of the same reasons. You know, aside from being an Italian who grew up in Argentina…

58 thoughts on “In case you wondered, this is why I’m Catholic

  1. Doug Ross

    Great to see he is embracing the idea of a female Pope! Including everyone would presume everyone is equal in the eyes of God, right?

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, thank you, Doug, for breaking the ice and posting the first cheap and easy anti-Catholic crack. I know that they’ll be coming whenever I write about my faith…

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        Hey, I don’t consider it a crack to point out flaws in dogma that are tied to a patriarchal view of how to deliver religion. If it’s cheap and easy it’s BECAUSE IT IS EASY.

        When people talk about THEIR religion, it’s always with the undertone of “mine is the best”. If you feel that you need a strict hierarchy and rules to define how you worship, that’s great for you… but one should always remember that whatever religion you choose, you’re in the minority.

        I just don’t get the same level of spiritual inspiration from the Pope that you do… and find his pronouncements heavy on intent but light on action. Is there any place LESS of an autonomous island than Vatican City?

        Reply
  2. bud

    Not a big fan of the Catholic Church, especially their horrible attitude toward birth control. But it does take the correct view on military involvement. If our government could adopt some of the Catholic Churches attitude in that area perhaps some of these disasterous military operations could be avoided.

    Reply
  3. Scout

    I’m United Methodist. I was christened and confirmed in the Methodist church. I think Methodist churches are a little more connected to each other than Baptist, what with churches being part of the United Methodist Conference and being under district superintendents and bishops. I think I’m acknowledged as a member of the United Methodist Church anywhere even if not a member of a specific congregation. Though it’s not like they ask people when you walk in what your status is. Everybody is welcome. But the questions they ask new members are much shorter if you are just transferring from another Methodist congregation vs. new to the Methodist Church vs. never been a Christian. So apparently there are levels. I’ve not really paid much attention to the politics of it all. I’m a good Methodist, but I do have respect for the Catholic church and the Pope.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I could be wrong about this, but my understanding is that Methodists — and Lutherans and Anglicans — see themselves as part of the universal church. That’s what made LARCUM possible…

      Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Hey, don’t get me started on that Creed, man!

          Of course, it’s the Nicene to which I object. That is to say, I object to the translation we switched to several years back.

          To me, the change negates what the Pope is saying in this Tweet.

          I have a bunch of objections to the new creed, but the chief one is this: We switched from “We believe” to “I believe.” I find that intolerable (and in fact, at Mass, I quietly recite the old version).

          A lot of people object to the new version, but I have a particularly sharp objection. Having been an editorial page editor, I have the vocabulary for explaining what’s wrong (at least to myself).

          “We believe” is like an editorial. It’s a shared, considered view held in common by a group — in the case of an editorial, the editorial board; in the case of a creed, something the attendees at the Council of Niceae agreed to in the 4th century — which the faithful down to the present day have agreed to go along with.

          “I believe” is like a column — a personal, signed statement of what that one individual believes, without reference to what anyone else believes or has agreed to.

          When a bunch of people recite something in unison — something that not a single person in the group came up with on his or her own — it should start with “We believe,” not “I believe.”

          And what the Pope says in this Tweet provides additional reason why faith statements presented in unison should be “we believe” statements…

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I’m not objecting to anything in the Creed. I’m just saying that if you want me to say “I believe,” I’m going to come up with a different set of points to mention, and word them differently.

            “I believe” is a column, and I’m not going to let a bunch of guys at Niceae 1,600-plus years ago write my column for me. I am, however, fine with reciting their editorial — that is to say, our editorial…

            Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, and thank you, Scout, for addressing the topic at hand instead of just airing your views on Catholicism.

      To try to get us back on track, let’s quote the thing that the Pope seemed to be invoking, one of the most profound passages in literature:

      No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee….

      Reply
  4. Doug Ross

    “We can only build the future by standing together, including everyone.”

    This is so much fortune cookie mumbo jumbo. It has no meaning. Who is everyone? Standing together to do WHAT? Oh, “build the future”… ah, that’s very clear. If the future is represented by the doctrine of the Catholic Church, why would EVERYONE agree to follow along?

    But all I would ask is that if someone wants to follow this pithy advice, that they start by making it their mission. Don’t do ANYTHING for your own self-interest. Sacrifice it all. Because that is what he is saying – give it all to the collective good. Don’t attempt to improve your own lot in life because that will mean taking from someone else who deserves it more than you do.

    Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        How much are you sacrificing, bud, for the common good? Now that you’re retired, I assume your days are filled with volunteer work, right?

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Doug, you’re always asking people things like that, and it’s really not cool.

          You do it to me, and there’s no way to answer ethically — since Christians are enjoined not to boast about such things, but to do charity privately. And I think, by and large, it’s an ethic adopted by nonChristians in our culture, unless they’re the classless Donald Trump types, who wildly exaggerate the good they do…

          Reply
    1. Scout

      I am really amazed how you get this: “Don’t do ANYTHING for your own self-interest. Sacrifice it all. Because that is what he is saying – give it all to the collective good. Don’t attempt to improve your own lot in life because that will mean taking from someone else who deserves it more than you do.”

      out of this:

      “None of us is an island, autonomous and independent from others. We can only build the future by standing together, including everyone.”

      Show me the words the Pope said that mean “Don’t do ANYTHING for your own self-interest. Sacrifice it all.”

      If I were to attempt to paraphrase the meaning I get from the Pope’s words, it would be something like: We are all connected to each other. Everything we do affects others in some way, so as we move forward, we need to be mindful of how the decisions we make affect others and try to build a positive future that includes everyone.

      Could be wrong, but that’s what I get.

      If you choose to do that through utter and complete self-sacrifice, go for it – more power to you. No reason you can’t do it that way, but I really don’t think the Pope is advocating that everyone must do that.

      I think it’s more about being aware of these connections as you go through life making all the myriad decisions that we make daily and trying to move the needle in a positive direction in any small way you can. Because even small things done collectively will add up. It could be as simple as speaking kindly and being inclusive in your daily dealings with people, or it could be voting for people who will not remove the social safety net or pull us out of global climate deals, or it could be a thousand other possibly small but positive things.

      Why do you insist it’s all or nothing? What did the Pope to say to indicate that?

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        “We are all connected to each other.”

        No, we are not. That’s exactly my point. We are connected to some people some of the time and those are the relationships that matter. We also can choose to NOT be connected to people who make demands that we don’t want accept. There are certain connections with people that are better to NOT have.

        You and I are not connected. We’ll never be connected. And it doesn’t matter. So we are not all connected to each other unless you want to use a “six degrees of separation” analogy.

        Reply
        1. Doug Ross

          And my other point is that the people who push hardest for everyone to work together are more often than not the ones who won’t step forward first to do that. The words are meaningless without action. I’ll take Mother Teresa over the Pope any day of the week.

          Reply
          1. Scout

            What data do you base this on?

            I strongly suspect that there are people who do plenty to match their stated positions but they do it quietly without a lot of fanfare.

            Have you personally polled everyone?

            Is this just your impression based on anecdotal evidence? There certainly are people who fit the profile you describe and I’m sure you’ve encountered them but why do you assume they are representative of the majority and not outliers?

            Where is your data?

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              What we’re talking about here is THE main split in our politics — between people who see that we’re all connected, and take responsibility for all that implies, and those who just don’t see that at all, and deeply resent being expected to take responsibility for it.

              It’s deep. It’s cognitive. It may be the hardest division there is to try to bridge….

              Reply
              1. Doug Ross

                But there’s the rub – you can say we’re all connected as many times as you want but you then talk about those who are not by choice (and it’s not a small number). So, logically, we are NOT all connected. You and the Pope want some pipe dream which is unattainable because some of us apply different standards to whether we want to be connected to others. Do I want to be connected to people of poor character? No. Do I want to be connected to people unwilling to help themselves? No.

                Reply
        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          “No, we are not.” Of course we are, inextricably so. What we do affects others, and what they do affects us. The only choice we get in the matter is what we do and to some extent how it affects them.

          But the first step is understanding that the connection is there.

          Reply
        3. Scout

          I am having a conversation with you and your negative energy is affecting me. That makes us connected. It’s true, I could choose to not engage with you and honestly I often do choose that. But I believe there is value in pushing back against the negativity in the world even when it seems futile. So I engage occasionally when I have the energy. I’m sure you probably have contempt for my approach. That’s fine.

          But really, even if we weren’t having this conversation, you really don’t think you have any connection to the other humans you are living in the same community with, in the same world with – just because you don’t know or interact with them all personally? Forget about 6 degrees of separation. We are all part of complex systems with myriad interconnections. You don’t have to be consciously aware of the specific connections to acknowledge that the connections are there.

          BTW, you didn’t answer the question – where does the Pope say you must sacrifice everything in order to stand together and include everyone.

          Reply
          1. Doug Ross

            “That makes us connected. It’s true, I could choose to not engage with you and honestly I often do choose that.”

            Just as I often choose not to engage with lazy people or corrupt people. Because i get nothing out of that connection.

            Anyway, you don’t know me. Anyone who actually does would laugh at your description of my “negative energy”. Just the other day, a manager asked me why I was always so positive about things. And I am… just not about silly Rodney King-esque “Can’t We All Get Along” fortune cookie philosophies.

            Reply
            1. Doug Ross

              The Pope didn’t say to sacrifice everything. But if you aren’t willing to do that, then what is the point of saying we all stand together? We don’t. Some stand higher (riding in the Popemobile) than others. There are any number of steps the Pope could take to make his words more meaningful… renounce all the wealth the Church owns and truly follow the model Jesus demonstrated.

              Reply
          2. Claus2

            Oddball: Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?

            Reply
  5. David Carlton

    I, too, was raised Southern Baptist, and Baptists are definitely congregational in polity. However, that does not mean churches have no denominational ties; the Southern Baptist Convention is a loose association of churches banding together for common tasks such as mission work, christian education, theological training, and support for clergy. Nonetheless, there’s no real ecclesiastical authority over a congregation. The big problem this posed when I was growing up (as the religious sociologist Sam Hill argued) was that it tended to place Southern Baptist churches in a form of “cultural captivity,” in which folk prejudices faced no checks from an independent clergy or a strong theological tradition. That’s a major reason I left.

    However, I didn’t go Roman Catholic, because I’m uncomfortable with hierarchy. I like Francis, but I’ve cared little for some of his predecessors, and the theological bludgeoning I’ve seen carried on by conservative Catholics I find deeply disturbing. I greatly prefer the halfway house of Presbyterianism. I’m perfectly welcome in any Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation, especially since I’m an ordained elder (if you’re an active Presbyterian for any length of time, you’re likely to wind up ordained, and the status is permanent). We take pride in our “connectional” character and our “reformed” heritage, and maintain ties to other reformed traditions around the world. Finally, to be an active member of a congregation or a denomination is by nature “communitarian.” One doesn’t need to submit to a hierarchy, although one needs to accept the discipline of a faith community, as shaped in our case by an elaborate system of mixed clergy-laity church courts and the traditional Presbyterian reverence for “decency and good order.” But there’s plenty of room in the PCUSA for both liberals (like me and my congregation) and conservatives.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “there’s plenty of room in the PCUSA for both liberals… and conservatives…”

      As with us Catholics. Which leads to problems, which Cardinal Bernardin worked so hard to address, but which plague us yet.

      I suspect, though, y’all don’t have as many conservatives as in Bryan’s A.R.P. church.

      By the way, a whole heap of my relatives — on the Bradley fourth of my tree — were A.R.P. clergy over the last couple of centuries. Some of them had to do with Erskine College.

      In fact, when my grandfather Warthen died, he and my grandmother (maiden name Bradley) were living in a house in Due West owned by the president of Erskine. One of these days I’m going to dig more into those connections…

      Speaking of family tree — one of my 24th-great grandfathers, Henry II, would have taken a dim view of your church courts — I believe that issue played into Becket’s demise in some way… :)

      Reply
      1. Scout

        The bit of my genealogy that I happen to know best involves ARP immigrants who left Larne, Ireland in 1773 and settled in Prosperity (which happened to be known as Frog Level at the time.) They were the Fairs (though the original immigrant spelled it Fear – Samuel Fear). A bunch of these Fairs moved to Abbeville and were quite involved in Erskine as well, I believe – though my branch of Fairs went to Louisiana about 1840. I was born in Louisiana. My Dad moved us back here in 1973 when he got a job at USC.

        Somehow those Louisiana Fairs became Baptist eventually, and like I mentioned already, my immediate family was Methodist, but I’ve always had an interest in the ARP church because of this family history.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Very cool, Scout. Thanks for sharing that. But… when did you and Jem and Atticus get to Alabama? :)

          I wonder a lot about the religious backgrounds of my various ancestors when they came over here. The ARP folks were mainly Scots, although some of those Scots came through Ireland.

          I’m pretty sure that the Warthens, originally Wathens, were Catholic when they came over — hence their decision to go to Maryland. But by the time any Warthens I ever knew came along, that was long forgotten. So I don’t know what happened there — probably the old story of assimilation. I don’t know all that much about the history of Maryland, but I believe its time as a Catholic experiment was rather short.

          But the interplay of these evolving religious arrangements are a big part of the development of America (as I learned in one of favorite college courses, U.S. Social and Intellectual History Before 1865 — which as I recall was mostly about the development of various religious ideas and how they interacted with everything else going on)…

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And I’d love to know more about your family’s journey. I’m pleased whenever anybody engages with me on genealogy, since the subject pretty much consumes whatever leisure hours I can find.

            Right now, I’m kind of freaking out on the subject, because the new version of Family Tree Maker has STILL not been released, and I still haven’t been able to sync my Ancestry tree with it. And during this time I’ve added 676 people to my Ancestry tree, and I’d really like to see those people backed up…

            Anybody else having this experience?

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              By the way, I’ve chatted with someone at the company developing the new software, and they say I may get to sync as early as later today, which would be great.

              I know they’re just being careful. They don’t want to see people losing the trees they’ve spent years on. And neither do I…

              Reply
      2. David Carlton

        “Speaking of family tree — one of my 24th-great grandfathers, Henry II, would have taken a dim view of your church courts — I believe that issue played into Becket’s demise in some way… ”

        Huh? There weren’t any Presbies in H2’s day; Becket was one of *your* guys.

        Reply
  6. Karen Pearson

    I agree with you about the use of I vs. we. The Holy Roman Church, at least for the last 500 years or so, has been one of the most excluding churches there is. If you don’t believe exactly what they believe, then you are heretical. BTW, has that excommunication that the Papal Legate slammed down on the alter of the Hagia Sophia 1054 ever been officially recalled? Right now, I suspect that there are far more baptized Christians outside the H.R.C. than in.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “If you don’t believe exactly what they believe, then you are heretical.”

      Well, yeah — I mean, if you don’t believe as the Church teaches, how are you Catholic? I mean, it refers to a set of beliefs.

      Wouldn’t that statement be true in pretty much any church? Except, you know, if you’re Unitarian? Smiley face! :)

      The difference, of course, is that most denominations have not had the secular authority to punish people for being heretical. Once, in dim antiquity, the church of Rome did.

      But if you say you’re Catholic, and you don’t believe what Catholics believe, how are you not heretical? I mean, isn’t it time to call yourself something else?

      Reply
          1. Lynn Teague

            It is my understanding that the Episcopal Church officially requires belief in the Trinity. That is all. There is no official teaching on things like whether fertilized eggs are persons (thus prohibiting artificial birth control that prevents implantation), whether someone is infallible (when speaking ex cathedra), and so forth. So, yes it is true that most churches officially define themselves in terms of belief in a doctrine, but the extent to which interpreting the most basic doctrine is left to laity varies. On the other hand laity in the Roman Catholic Church often follow their own interpretations, for example using artificial birth control is proportions very little different from the general population (86% approval versus 90% in the general population in a 2015 study). So, there is a meaningful difference between churches in the extent to which one is expected to toe the line on very specific teachings. Perhaps less difference in how much people actually toe the line.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Personally, as one who regularly attends episcopal masses, I see little difference in terms of professed belief — except that the Anglicans, bless them, still use the old version of the creed and other liturgy, which I prefer…

              The main difference between these two catholic churches is that my cousin Henry separated the Church of England from Rome…

              Reply
            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              Funny thing about all these differences we go on about — they don’t matter all that much to me. No, I take that back… they matter, profoundly, but not as things that ought to drive us apart. Because if they do, we’re missing the point.

              I’m a very ecumenical kind of guy. Actually, it’s beyond “ecumenical,” bordering on something that almost invokes pantheism (in the sense of tolerating and even respecting all gods). I mean, I’m a Catholic who has a mezuzah on one of the doorposts in his house. (Why? Because I’m particularly drawn to the Jewishness of Jesus, and the importance of our grounding in that faith.)

              Don’t get me wrong on the pantheism thing: I believe in ONE God. But I appreciate that there are many ways of relating to that one God.

              And I look askance at people who make a big thing of saying God is definitely this way and therefore not that way. I think it’s great to strive to know God, and one of the reasons I’m Catholic is that I can stand on the shoulders of 2,000 years of smart people working on that, which helps me with my own understanding. (And this is a reason I have a problem when modernists, or postmodernists, complain about the church failing to “be in step” with currently fashionable notions. A church’s proper function is to be in touch with eternal verities, things that were as true now as 2,000 years ago, and will be as true 2,000 years hence.)

              But when I read about the period of the Reformation, it seems to me absurd in the extreme that both Catholics and Protestants went to the stake over doctrinal differences that to me seem akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin — neither here nor there. And I find it not only cruel and unChristian on the part of the authorities who burned these “heretics,” but I find the heretics’ own insistence on these sometimes irrelevant fine points rather absurd as well.

              I talk about how I don’t like the current form of the Creed. Well, I’m fine with affirming all that stuff (as a group), but I don’t see any of those points about the roles of Jesus and the Holy Spirit and Mary and Pontius Pilate as being CORE to what Jesus called on us to believe. I thought that an atheist, Douglas Adams, put it pretty well even though he was being facetious: that Jesus preached “how great it would be to be nice to people for a change.” That’s the essence, however irreverently put.

              Anyway, all of that said, if we are Christians and are serious about it, it’s a good idea to go to church and commune with others seeking the same thing — because I believe the way to relate to God is through our relationships with fellow humans. And if you’re going to have a meaningful relationship with such a community, you sort of have to pick which church you’re going to go to.

              What this post was about was a reason why I chose the one that I go to (and part of that reason is that, while you do have to pick one, picking the Catholic church comes closer than any other to joining all churches, since it is universal).

              That’s it. It’s not “my flavor good; yours bad.” But it’s why this is the right flavor for me.

              I thought I’d mention that in case some folks misunderstood my point….

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                I hope some of y’all read that. Because I’m actually worried that some may have misunderstood my point.

                I tend to make jokes sometimes about differences I don’t think should matter — like whether one is Catholic is Protestant — and end up insulting people who take it more seriously than I do. I recall awhile ago referring to Protestants as “heathens” or something and one of my regulars took exception — and I wouldn’t have offended him for the world.

                It’s just that I fool myself sometimes into thinking we’re past letting things like that separate us, and it’s safe to make jokes. I don’t know why I think that, given all the evidence to the contrary, but sometimes I forget myself in my wish to be light and breezy in my writing style.

                Growing up in the ’60s, I formed an erroneous impression that all sorts of things that separate people — race, ethnicity, religion, gender, what have you — were problems of the past and it was OK to joke around about them. I got this impression from Richard Pryor, Godfrey Cambridge, Flip Wilson, and a host of Catskill-style comics and many others. I saw this stuff on TV, interwoven with family entertainment, and formed the idea these were safe topics.

                It took me YEARS to realize they really, really weren’t. And I unnecessarily offended a lot of people along the way.

                A kid growing up in this day and age could form the same impression — that it’s OK to joke about all that stuff — from watching episodes of “30 Rock” on Netflix.

                It remains weird that you can watch Liz Lemon make really edgy comedy out of race, gender, sexual orientation, and everybody laughs, and in the next second you read about somebody losing his or her job for saying something similar.

                We may grant a certain license to comedians, but as to a lot of the things they kid about, the world really isn’t ready to take a joke from you or me…

                Reply
  7. Karen Pearson

    But you (in a post way back when) seemed to say that you weren’t convinced of the infallibility of the pope. Tsk. BTW, you did notice that the poet that you quoted was an Anglican priest (John Donne) who, along with his less religious verse (ex: the Flea), was known for his sermons, didn’t you?

    I tend to consider anyone baptized with water in the name of the Trinity to be a member of the Church. It’s like being born into a family. Of course, you can always disown a family member, and refuse him/her a seat at the family meal. The HRC has had a history of doing that. A lot.

    Reply
  8. Phillip

    You don’t even need to accept any sort of official religious belief to be able to embrace the first sentence of the Pope’s Tweet. But I’d go further and say that not only are we all connected to each other, we (humans) are connected to every aspect of the universe, not only living organisms but interstellar stardust itself. The human to human connection is just the tip of the iceberg, should be the easiest one to make but startlingly hard for us still. I wish those aliens would come soon so they can laugh hysterically at our self-defined divisions by nationality, race, religion, etc. (assuming aliens have a sense of humor).

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “You don’t even need to accept any sort of official religious belief to be able to embrace the first sentence of the Pope’s Tweet.” Absolutely. All you have to do is observe reality. Yet so many people have so much trouble with it…

      Reply
  9. Karen Pearson

    So many seem to think that life is a competitive game, and that he who dies with the most money wins. That leads me at least, to recall another quote: “All hope abandon ye who enter here.”

    Reply
  10. Charlie

    I entered the Church four years ago. I converted from atheism. Prior to my atheism, I was a Baptist then a Presbyterian with a mean Calvinist streak.

    I was told my whole life a bunch of lies about the Roman Catholic Church. When i was exposed to the truth, I knew I had to get into the Catholic Church and remain in it.

    Catholicism is the One True Faith. Accept no substitutes.

    Reply
    1. Claus2

      “Catholicism is the One True Faith. Accept no substitutes.”

      You’ve obviously never spoken to a Mormon.

      Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Interesting thing…

      Recently a group of folks from a local Protestant church — of a black Baptist denomination, I believe — attended Mass at St. Peter’s and had some discussions with our folks. I didn’t know about it, and was not involved (it’s easy for that to happen if you go to a different Mass from the one involved).

      All I know is that our pastor said later that the folks were surprised at what the church was really about and what Catholics believe, and they seemed very approving.

      And they had a question: Why don’t we get the message out? Why don’t we proselytize?

      Well, we just don’t. Not really a Catholic thing, in my experience. Maybe it’s because anti-Catholic prejudice has been such an overt thing in this Protestant country from the beginning that we got into the habit of just sort of hunkering down and hoping people would leave us alone.

      Anyway, all of that said, one of the remarkable things about Francis is that he sort of IS a proselytizer — non in the sense of running after people trying to get them to convert, but in terms of showing people who have a lot of negative pictures in their heads of the Church the actual love of Christ that is the Church’s basis.

      He doesn’t argue with people and tell them they’re wrong. He just shows them the love in ways that they can see it.

      He’s very good at it…

      Reply
      1. Claus2

        Maybe Catholics should go out and start knocking on doors and ringing doorbells.

        ” the actual love of Christ that is the Church’s basis”

        as opposed to what other christian churches believe???

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Actually, Claus, no one said or suggested any such thing.

          The context was this: A lot of people in those groups who have split off from the Catholic Church seem surprised that indeed, that is what we believe in.

          And this Pope is very good at surprising them with that…

          Reply
  11. Harry Harris

    Pope Francis is a reformer. He uses a firm hand instead of a bludgeon. He immediately cleaned out the financial corruption that had plagued the Vatican for years and had them in league with some shady forces in Italy. He has stated unequivocally that Italian citizens and politicians should stop cooperating with and turning their heads from organized crime in the country (and world).
    His most noticed pronouncements and actions are in the area of social and economic justice, and I find his positions aligned closely with Jesus, who I think he tries to follow closely. He walks dangerous ground among Catholic reactionaries, untrustworthy and unsavory world leaders, nefarious criminals, greed-driven power-brokers, yet he seems to care for them all. He walks well, and is to be admired, but most importantly, heeded.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *