Skip to content

Struggles of Today's Converts to Catholicism

Father Charles Connor on the Special Role of the New Faithful

SCRANTON, Pennsylvania, DEC. 17, 2003 (Zenit) - An expert in Church history greatly admires those who "thought their way to the truth" in the 19th century, but insists that modern day converts are even more remarkable.

Father Charles Connor recognizes that people who feel called to become Catholics today must chose to embrace a Church that is attacked by secularism even as it recovers from post-Second Vatican Council turmoil.

The author of "Classic Catholic Converts" (Ignatius) and host of an EWTN series on the topic, Father Connor shared what challenges the new faithful have faced and what gifts they have brought to the Church in recent centuries.

Q: What compelled you to write this book?

Father Connor: It was a combination of interest in the Catholic intellectual revival of the 1920s and 1930s, as well as a long-standing fascination with British Catholic history.

The story of the Catholic Church in Britain, especially since the Reformation, is the story of so many converts who came to the Church in a wide variety of ways and contributed so substantially to its buildup. At the same time, many of these same individuals in the 20th century were the writers and thinkers who so convincingly and intellectually defended the Church, thereby attracting others to it.

Perhaps a final thought is my admiration for so many who, by their own power, thought their way to the truth.

Q: What is a common theme among these very different conversion stories?

Father Connor: There would be a few. One was a search for truth in unity and completeness in doctrine. So many converts were disillusioned by the confusion rampant in their faith traditions -- each person appeared to be an authority to himself or herself, using entirely subjective criteria of private judgment in all matters of belief.

Another common area was the growing awareness of the real presence of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament -- body, blood, soul and divinity. It was a serious lack in all other Christian traditions; even in those rare instances where an ecclesial body claimed to possess it, such claims were proven invalid in the minds of those who kept investigating.

Still another similarity was the consolation so many discovered in the Church's teaching on papal supremacy, or the doctrine of papal infallibility. They provided such a clear road map of life and the assurance that all who listened to the vicar of Christ were listening to Christ himself, building his Church as he did on the rock of Peter's confession of faith.

Q: What were some of the most dramatic struggles the converts in your book faced?

Father Connor: The biggest challenges were overcoming some of their innate and deeply held prejudices against the Church of Rome, working their way through an obstacle that was hindering their reception into the Body of Christ and, so often, facing rejection and being ostracized by their families and friends -- those they held closest.

Q: How have these struggles changed throughout history? Are they the same in modern times?

Father Connor: Today the struggles would be quite different, in that they would have an added dimension: modern secularity, from which the Church has not been immune; and post-Vatican II confusion.

Today the potential convert witnesses the Church in disarray, including theological variation from Church doctrine, dissent from within, generations of Catholics who have lost their way morally, etc.

Therefore, it is all the most poignant when one enters the modern day Catholic Church. It's still the one sure foundation, still the Church established by Christ, still the ecclesial body where the fullness of truth may be found, but subject nonetheless to the turmoil that has followed every general council in Church history.

Also, one would have to mention the false perceptions about ecumenism which have become part and parcel in our times. Real ecumenism should be no obstacle whatsoever to convert making -- in fact, it should enhance it. Unfortunately, in some minds, the concept has come to stand for religious indifference or the view that one religion is the same as another.

Q: How do converts, in general, enrich the Church?

Father Connor: They bring an enthusiasm that is often lacking in cradle Catholics. They have arrived at the faith through various channels and they deeply treasure what they have found. Also they bring a tremendous fervor and spirituality, which enhances the household of faith tremendously.

Finally, they often bring from their former traditions a great knowledge and love of the Lord's word in Scripture. It is important to note that conversion to Catholicism is not a rejection of one's past -- it is, rather, a bringing it into completion.

Q: What can the Church do to encourage more conversions and support those who are seeking full union with the Church?

Father Connor: Priests can and should do far more preaching about it from the pulpit. If one is truly proud of what one has and is convinced of its correctness, does it not follow that it should be shared with as many others as possible?

Groups such as the Catholic Evidence Guild should be encouraged. Convert inquiry classes should spring up both on the diocesan and parish level. Books of apologetics, either new or reprinted, should be circulated.

More than anything, Catholics should not hide their talents or their faith under a bushel basket -- individual initiative is so often the best means. This can certainly be achieved by the quality of our lives, but even more so by very directly putting the question to someone we may know and saying, "Have you ever thought of becoming Catholic?"

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online with Father Charles Connor - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Catholic, Catholicism, Converts, Father Charles Connor

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.