Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D.

2/17/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

In other words, an evangelical is someone who looks for and takes the opportunity to talk to others about the Christian faith in terms of morality, salvation, and final judgement

Although it is a positive sign that George Weigel has published a book extolling the need for Evangelical Catholicism, the fact is that this movement has been evident for nearly a half century.  Indeed, most of the new growth in the Church in these fifty states can be traced to various apostolates that have combined into a virtual coalition of Catholics who speak of their faith with a zeal markedly different from mainstream  practicing Catholics. 

Deal Hudson, Ph.D

Deal Hudson, Ph.D


By Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D.

Catholic Online (

2/17/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Evangelical, Evangelical Catholicism, George Weigel, Evangelical Catholics, living faith, conversion, New Evangelization, Deal

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Although it's a positive sign that George Weigel has published a book extolling the need for Evangelical Catholicism, the fact is that this movement has been evident for nearly a half century.  Indeed, most of the new growth in the Church in these fifty states can be traced to various apostolates that have combined into a virtual coalition of Catholics who speak of their faith with a zeal markedly different from mainstream  practicing Catholics. 

What I refer to as a virtual coalition owes its existence primarily to the leadership of John Cardinal O'Connor and John Paul II; the Catholic pro-life movement; Catholic homeschoolers; the success of EWTN, led by Mother Angelica since 1981; Ignatius Press, founded by Rev. Joseph Fessio S.J., in 1978; the philanthropy of Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza; and the vitality of colleges like Christendom, founded in 1977 by Warren H. Carroll; Franciscan University, since 1978 under Rev. Mike Scanlan, TOR; and St. Thomas Aquinas, founded in 1968 by Dr. Ronald McArthur.

These successes were presaged and encouraged by a large cast of characters and institutions: the founding of the University of Dallas (1956); the creation of Catholics United for the Faith in 1968 by L. Lyman Stebbins; the influence of The Wanderer, Triumph, and the National Catholic Register; as well as the leadership of Catholic intellectuals, charismatics, and evangelicals like L. Brent Bozell, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Rev. Paul Marx, Dr. John Willke, Phyllis Schlafly, Paul Weyrich, Patrick Frawley, Prof. Frederick Wilhelmsen, Prof. Dietrich von Hildebrand, Ralph Martin, and Deacon Keith Fournier, among others.

Deacon Fournier, in fact, published a book in l990 entitled Evangelical Catholics, urging Catholics to embrace a form of "Christian Cooperation to penetrate the Darkness with the Light of the Gospel." He used the term Evangelical Catholic to a mixed reaction. He suggested the adjective should characterize all Christians who had a living relationship with the Lord who is the Evangel, the Good News. They should desire to share that living faith in the Lord with others. However, he told me that in spite of their being evangelical Catholics at the time, many of them rejected the use of the term. Perhaps Weigel's book will help to make the notion of Catholics being "evangelical" more widely accepted.  We can only hope so because until now, and I say this from experience, being evangelical is one thing, calling yourself one is quite another.

The term "evangelical," of course, has a generic theological meaning derived from Scripture, but it's the meaning attached to the figure of TV evangelists with well-worn Bibles raised aloft that has made Catholics wary of the word. The four gospel writers are known as the "Four Evangelists" based on the Greek term euangelion and the Latin Evangelium, both meaning one who brings, or literally proclaims, "good news."

But the issue at the heart of an Evangelical Catholic movement is not about whether Catholics believe their faith is "good news." Of course they do!  The issue is their willingness, or lack of willingness, to share it.  Those of us who have belonged at one time or another to a brand of Evangelical Protestantism know first hand that the disposition to share the faith, to witness, is considered an explicit obligation within that community. In other words, an evangelical is someone who looks for and takes the opportunity to talk to others about the Christian faith in terms of morality, salvation, and final judgement.

What makes witnessing so important to the evangelical is that the "good news" is not merely a "better" way to live, to view the world, to understand politics, but rather demarcates those who live knowing the Truth about human existence and those who do not.  Even more, knowing the Truth through faith unites a person with God in such a way that it bestows the power of Grace in this life and opens the gates to eternal happiness in heaven.

Even a casual observer of Catholic behavior will conclude that these attitudes, if held by Catholics, are rarely manifested in evangelical fashion. Prayer rallies, community Bible studies, literature dissemination, and personally challenging the unchurched and the unbeliever with the option of belief and worship are not habits of  mainstream Catholics. 

The average Catholic parish does nothing to welcome visitors, much less go to any length to check the spiritual temperature of its members. If there is any diocesan or parish version of systematic training in "sharing your faith," I am not familiar with it. Yes, there has been an effort to mount a program calling inactive Catholics to "come home," but the evangelical attitude implicit in this message has yet to take root anywhere it did not already exist.

Most Catholics, I would venture, look upon their faith as something handed down from parents and grandparents, as a kind of patrimony or heritage, rather than a personal choice involving a commitment to the Absolute.  Of course, the sacrament of confirmation is supposed to be that moment when "the whole man submits himself to Truth, in the judgment of his understanding, in the submission of his will and in the consecration of his whole power of love..." From this perspective, the lukewarmness we observe in Catholic practice does not reflect well on the way this sacrament has been administered in the past fifty years. 

Catholics become evangelical when they are convicted with the belief that everything depends upon it: from the earthly happiness of themselves, their family, community, and nation, to the eternal destiny of themselves and others. All those individuals, organizations, and institutions I mentioned above, representing Evangelical Catholicism in the United States, view their faith as a matter of life and death.  As such, it is not something that can go unmentioned or concealed, which would be tantamount to withholding the greatest gift one person can give to another.  Until more Catholics are "converted" to view their faith not simply as a heritage, but as the Truth about human existence, Evangelical Catholicism will remain a small, though influential, movement within the Church. 


Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D, is president of the Pennsylvania Catholics Network and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More U.S.

What it was like to fly Pope Francis around America: American Airlines crew speaks out Watch

Image of The Pope blessed the crew, their families, and the plane during his tour.


Pope Francis' American Airlines flight crew has opened up about the spiritual experience, claiming the papal meeting was "like seeing God." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pilot George Griffin, his co-pilots and 15 cabin crew members were picked from a pool of ... continue reading

New ISIS video features a 'cub of the caliphate' directly threaten US President Barack Obama Watch

Image of A young ISIS member delivers a threat to US President Barack Obama (YouTube).


A young ISIS jihadi was featured in an ISIS video dressed in army fatigues and holding a rocket launcher as he  delivered a threat to US President Barack Obama. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A young boy who looks to be no more than 10-years-old was recorded ... continue reading

Did Clinton hide the discovery of the Khobar Towers bombers? Watch

Image of Former US President Bill Clinton (Brothersoft)


In order to reestablish diplomatic ties with Tehran, former U.S. President Bill Clinton hid the discovery of Iran's involvement of the Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 U.S. servicemen in 1996. The allegations are not new, but in a recent report, heavy evidence ... continue reading

Terrorists can easily enter the U.S. through Texas/Mexico border Watch

Image of


Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, warned the U.S. was vulnerable in terms of infiltration through the country's southern border. McCraw reported some people coming from countries flagged to have "terrorism presence."  LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

STUDY: Arabic, Urdu the fastest growing secondary languages in the United States Watch

Image of The most recent census study shows that the fastest-growing foreign languages are languages spoken by immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.


The Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey reports that between 2010 and 2014, there was a 29 percent increase in Arabic spoken in the United States. There is also a 23 percent increase in Urdu, and a nine percent jump in Persian, the language spoken in ... continue reading

California mother punched in the face by police files lawsuit Watch

Image of The police officer allegedly pulled over Cindy Hahn moments later on an alleged seat belt violation and arrested Hahn as her children watched.


The one sure thing about cell phone technology is that authority figures will not be able to slip easily from the law. A 40-year-old mother is suing the city of Carlsbad, California after being physically assaulted by police officers in July of 2013. It was all ... continue reading

Cargo ship missing after sailing into Hurricane Joaquin Watch

Image of Katie and Keith Griffin (Facebook).


El Faro, a cargo ship, was caught in Hurricane Joaquin, leaving several American crew members missing. Worried friends and family of the missing staff members continue to hope for survivors. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The US Coast Guard announced that they ... continue reading

Oregon shooting hero still in recovery: Donations for his medical expenses surpass $700,000 Watch

Image of Chris Mintz.


Chris Mintz left a happy birthday message for his nonverbal autistic son on Thursday before going to his classes at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Later, he reportedly set off fire alarms as a gunman opened fire. Mintz charged the shooter, was ... continue reading

Two farmers in Michigan unearth woolly mammoth remains Watch

Image of Because of the tight harvest schedule, the farmers gave researchers a single day to unearth the find. Excavators worked intently last week until sundown.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two farmers in Michigan made a momentous find while they dug a drainage ditch. The remains of a woolly mammoth, enormous tusks intact, was unearthed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - James Bristle of Lima Township was digging in a soybean field early last week ... continue reading

President Obama shares how Pope Francis's visit to the U.S. makes him want to be better Watch

Image of President Obama with Pope Francis during the pontiffs visit to the U.S.


It has been a week since Pope Francis' historical visit to the U.S. However, his presence and inspiration continues to linger as President Obama revealed he wants to become better after his meeting with the Pope. WASHINGTON D.C. (Catholic Online) - The pope is back in ... continue reading

All U.S. News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2
13 Priests, put on sackcloth and lament! You ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 9:2-3, 6, 16, 8-9
6 the enemy is wiped out -- mere ruins for ever -- ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:15-26
15 But some of them said, 'It is through Beelzebul, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 9th, 2015 Image

Sts. Denis, Rusticus, and Eleutherius
October 9: The first mention we have of these three martyrs who died around ... Read More