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Which Catholic Church? (part 1)

A convert to the catholic faith (who converted years before I did) once came to me and said "This is not the church that I joined years ago." He was reacting to the fact that I had told him that every Catholic was required to do a penitential abstinence every Friday of the year (e.g. abstain from meat). He truly believed that the Church was supposed to be exactly like the protestants, but with a Pope. I knew, sadly, that he had been greatly deceived. He actually wanted an apology from me to state that I had erred, when he should have been seeking an apology from the priest who misled him.

Yet, in another sense, another reconciliation needs to happen outside of that one: he needed to be reconciled with the Church as a whole since he had been led to believe that she was something different than what she was in truth. His internal reconciliation was along the lines of fixing his mistaken impression of the full catholicity of the Church. He had been convinced to join something other than the actual Catholic Church, and was then received into the actual Catholic Church. It is comparable to those who find out that marriage is supposed to be for life when they thought it was "until dissatisfaction do we part".

Maybe we need to ask converts, "which church did you convert to join?" because we really should be allowed to know which errors they have been taught (maybe t-shirts, or special name tags could be used?) in order to help them to know what they got themselves into. There is no "annulment process" for baptism; once baptized, always baptized! I have even had some come to me at St. George parish and say, "I was misled, will you teach me the truth?"

I have spoken to other Ordinariate priests (in different states) and found that a number of them have the same kind of experiences. This means that there is something of an active effort to sway people to thinking that the Catholic Church has been protestantized. Even if this could happen (and, no, it cannot without a total apostasy), it could not be done easily; it would be something that at least the majority of the Bishops would have to agree on. We may be dealing with something like this right now.

So then, which Church do you think you are in? Whether cradle Catholic or convert, how do you see the Church? Do you see it as being in full union with the faith of our fathers, or as something new and disconnected with the past? It is a question we each must ask.

[More to come later...]


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