Could there possibly be a more appropriate clip than this…

…for the very good news indeed that Leah Libresco will no longer be my favorite atheist–because she is becoming Catholic!

Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.” – Luke 15:4-7

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  • Loud

    Mark, I was convinced you’d gone crazy.
    And Mark, now that I’ve read her post I know you HAVE gone crazy, and dragged me to loony land with you.
    But being out of touch with reality dosen’t change the reality of the fact that Leah the Awesome Atheist is now Leah the Catholic Convert.
    There is only one thing to say:
    PRAISE GOD!!!!!

  • I am so glad that you will have to find a new favorite atheist, Mark!

    Congrats, Leah…I always appreciated your intellectual honesty when following links Mark posted…so glad that you realized that “Morality loves you”…welcome!

    I will add to the throngs who say, “Come on in, it’s terrible!” But amid, all the terribleness, there is grace for transformation, according to our own openness.

    • Brandon Jaloway

      This is so true! Who will be our favorite atheist now? Argh! The good ones all seem to turn Catholic!

      • Thomas R

        I seem to recall Martin Rees is an okay guy, although he doesn’t blog.

  • The Deuce

    Thank God! There’s no better news to start the morning with than another person coming to Christ!

  • Woot!

    Also, now I need another token atheist blog to follow to keep my open-minded credentials.

  • Mark H.

    Such great news! I’ve always admired Leah for her ability to discuss issues while remaining unfailingly polite and reasonable. We sometimes tend to get into the “us and them” mindset when talking about atheists, and it’s good to remember that it’s possible to have cordial discussions on topics we disagree about.
    Although there are a few expected criticisms in her combox this morning, so far the comments have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive.

    • Ted Seeber

      It’s hard for me to see either Atheists or Sola Scriptura Protestants (or even Muwahiddun Islamics, despite their tendency to violence) as a “Them”. Them is plural, and the theology/philosophy behind such beliefs is intensely subjective and individual. “Other” is more like it, and we’re called to love the Other regardless of their beliefs.

  • Claire

    I’m becoming a sap in my old age, because I had actual tears (joy) in my eyes as I read this. Thanks for sharing the great news!

  • Marthe Lépine

    Just a question: What is this “St-Patrick’s Breastplate”? Could you give a link to it, or a transcript of the text, for Francophone Catholic such as myself who have never heard of it? Thanks. And congratulations to Leah. And prayers, she may need even more of them than ever. I am quite certain she will now be assaulted by doubts and temptations sent to her by our common enemy, Satan, who is certainly not happy!

    • Andy, Bad Person

      And prayers, she may need even more of them than ever. I am quite certain she will now be assaulted by doubts and temptations sent to her by our common enemy, Satan, who is certainly not happy!

      I was just about to post the exact same thing. This is going to be a difficult time in Leah’s life. Keep her in your prayers.

      • Ted Seeber

        Maybe a *little* less difficult if they allow her fiance to attend RCIA with her. It was intense, but such a blessing to, in the year and a half I was engaged, take my Shannon through RCIA, pre-Cana instruction (and psychological testing! The Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon might be liberal by some standards, but they are *very* serious about trying to prevent annulments), and Engaged Encounter. Shannon came into the church at Easter, and in June we got married- so she got firsts of 5 sacraments out of the way in 4 months or so.

        Oh, and her conversion is still ongoing as well, Leah, 13 years later on June 26th. It’s hampered a little bit in her case by definition dyslexia- some of our biggest arguments are caused because she can’t remember the definitions of pro-life vs pro-choice and her beliefs on that flip flop depending on who she’s talked to recently.

    • Here’s the Wikipedia on St. Patrick’s Breastplate:


  • Nate

    Welcome home, Leah. You will be in my prayers. The Enemy will assault you now more than ever. Fly to the Holy Virgin for strength. She will give it.

  • Nate

    Oh, and I gotta add.
    We got the coolest nerds on our side, I’m just sayin’.

  • Kirt Higdon

    This news brightens my whole day. People like Leah make the world beautiful.

  • Beadgirl

    Holy &*%$! I never saw this coming, but it does make sense — I always thought she had a Catholic way of thinking. Welcome!

  • By some weird coincidence, I was listening just last night to a debate on YouTube between William Lane Craig and Sam Harris on the very subject Leah talks about in her post, the objective ground of morality. Harris simply could not find a convincing argument for the atheist side, so fell back on his usual schtick on how cruel and mean the Christian God is. It was painful and depressing to think that someone who clearly has a moral sense couldn’t see the truth.
    Then today I read Leah’s post – and found both tears and laughter well up when I read her words: “I guess Morality loves me.” One of the most beautiful ways anyone can learn the truth.
    Welcome home, Leah!
    Someday I hope that Sam Harris also learns that Morality loves him. 🙂

  • MattyD

    Wow!!!!! What at stunning and beautiful development. Thanks for posting, Mark.

  • Emily =D

    I’m pretty sure she’s in my RCIA class!! I will have to tell her I’ve been reading her blog for some time now! Small world.

    • leahlibresco

      If you’re in the one at St Peter on the Hill where I asked that question about the pythagorean theorem last week, yes I am.

      • Jared

        Might I ask what the RCIA pythagorean theorem question was? 😀

        • Ted Seeber

          Must be on the Trinity! 🙂

      • Gary Keith Chesterton

        What, Leah, you’re at St. Peter’s? DC? See you at the parish picnic!!!

      • Andy, Bad Person

        Fantastic. St. Peter’s Music Director was a classmate of mine in grad school. Amazing musician.

  • Jon H

    As an atheist that is the perfect clip, since every time Farnsworth says he has good news it actually turns out to be bad news.

    Just kidding, as an atheist I’m not nearly as concerned about someone’s dedication to certain metaphysical claims as I am to their rationality and I’ve always been struck by her willingness to think things out. Though I still think she’s straight up wrong here.

    • Mark Shea

      What cracked me up was keddaw instantly reverting to the mindless Internet atheist trope about “abandoning reason”. Internet atheists so often seem to worship intellect rather than use it.

  • Nate

    “Look, I find your metaphysical commitments wholly reasonable, I see that you are obviously thinking this through, and more importantly, I simply can’t offer a convincing counter-argument to your own claims, nor have I come across one offered by the big atheist names. But none of that matters! What matters is that you’re just not being rational! If you were rational, you’d see that you were wrong!”

  • Glory to God and congratulations to Leah! Contrary to the “abandoning reason” crowd, her comments on her journey mark a clear _expansion_ of her use of reason, an increased willingness to take _all_ the factors of reality into the analysis of her worldview. And her insight into morality as being in relation to a Presence – this is a great foundational _revealed_ truth. “Blessed are you, [Leah], for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

  • Wow, what wonderful news. I was shocked, and then, I wasn’t shocked. It seemed somewhat expected.

  • Brandon Jaloway

    I am really shocked. By the way she was writing I thought it would be a good 5 years more.

  • A Philosopher

    Hmm. I admit I’m a bit surprised that the Catholic permissivism about divorce wasn’t a deal-breaker for her.

    Anyway, my congratulations to her. I’m happy that she’s found a position that she’s rationally content with.

    And meanwhile, if the position’s open — well, I’m not saying that I’m running, but if the public wants me to serve, I’d feel obligated to take up the mantle of power.

    • Ted Seeber

      don’t you mean a LACK of permissivism about divorce? To heterosexual women who actually accept the church’s ideals, if not teachings, about marriage, the barrier of the annulment process is a positive, not a negative.

      • A Philosopher

        No, I mean permissiveness. Catholic doctrine wrongly holds that divorce is permissible in at least three situations (I’m not expert on Catholic canon law on marriage, so I may be overlooking some cases): the Pauline privilege, the Petrine privilege, and for lack of consummation. (I recognize that Catholicism seeks to redefine marriage in this last case to exclude unconsummated marriages, but the attempt at redefinition doesn’t obviate the moral wrong.)

        • ivan_the_mad

          Let’s be more exact with our terms. The Church does not permit divorce (CotCC sections 2382-2386). You are referencing annulments, in which a marriage is declared to have been invalid or null.

          • drea916

            If the Catholic Church was oh so permissive, there wouldn’t be SO many ex-catholics in other denominations because the Catholic Church wouldn’t let them re-marry in the Church. So, they go become Episcopal, because as an acquaintance of mine says- the Mass is pretty much the same there anyway. (headpalm)

  • Jonathan Baker

    Mark, I’d be really keen to know who is in your current “favourite atheist” position. Praise God!

  • Sal

    So happy for her. May God bless and keep her. Especially in light of the many negative reactions she might encounter. Will be praying for her.

  • James H, London

    Yes, YES, YES!!!

    A pity I’m at work. I can’t jump up and down and punch stuff!

  • A Philosopher

    The Pauline and Petrine privileges are not, by Carholic lights, annulments. They are dissolutions of existing marriages. Cases of lack of consummation are considered annulments by Catholic lights, but as I said before, thisi is simply an attempt to redefine marriage — unconsummated marriages are indeed marriages.

    • ivan_the_mad

      “They are dissolutions of existing marriages.” That statement is not inaccurate, but again, let’s be more precise with our terms. You need to differentiate between natural and sacramental marriages. And note that they are dissolutions, not divorces as you wrote above (there seems to be a theme about terms here 😉 ).

      I have no idea what you’re talking about regarding an “attempt to redefine marriage” and the rest. You’re misinformed about Church teaching on marriage. Or perhaps I’ve misunderstood you, and you’re asserting that the Church teaching is wrong or deficient, in which case there’s likely not much point in continuing the exchange.

      • A Philosopher

        Well, I’m not convinced that there’s a substantial dissolve/divorce distinction. But I think the terminological dispute is secondary. My primary point was that there is a certain laxity about marriage in Catholic teaching — one can, for example, undertake the marital vows in situations which in no way undermine the ability of those vows to create permanent obligations, but still by Catholic teaching be released from the bonds of marriage — and that Leah might find that laxity objectionable.

        • ivan_the_mad

          “But I think the terminological dispute is secondary.” No, it’s primary. It is requisite to having a discussion, otherwise people just talk past each other (at least, that’s what I was taught in my foundational philosophy courses). You talk about the Pauline privilege with no hint that you understand the distinction between natural and sacramental marriage or the circumstances surrounding and justification of said privilege, and claim that this proves a laxity in (by which I suspect you mean stands in contradiction to) Church teaching. This is ridiculous.

          Your primary point is nonsense. There is no Church teaching that says that, this is simply an ignorant attempt at a gotcha. You are of course entitled to your incorrect understanding and to persist in error.

          • A Philosopher

            I’m not playing a “gotcha” game, and I’m not trying to point out a contradiction. I’m just making the straightforward point that Catholicism is more permissive with the ending of marriage (note that the terminology is deliberately picked here to subsume both of, and hence make irrelevant the distinction between, divorce and dissolution) than it could be. I thought that Leah might, as I do, think that that represented a moral failure on the part of the Church.

            I’m aware, of course, of the distinction between sacramental and valid-but-not-sacramental marriages. But the distinction seems neither here nor there – the fact remains that the Church permits the ending of marriages after the point at which the marital bond has been created through the interchange of binding vows. If anything, it’s mildly grating that it’s the marriages involving non-Catholics that receive lesser protection, but that’s an incidental observation, and not the main point.

            • ivan_the_mad

              “I’m just making the straightforward point that Catholicism is more permissive with the ending of marriage … than it could be.” Hardly straightforward. I noticed that you used a comparative, and of course the elusive “than it could be”. You’re comparing Catholicism to itself? That makes no sense. If you aren’t, and the “it” in “than it could be” refers to some other standard, please share.

              “I’m aware, of course, of the distinction between sacramental and valid-but-not-sacramental marriages. But the distinction seems neither here nor there”. Umm, no. The distinction is huge. It’s the basis for the privileges you mentioned (Pauline deals specifically with natural marriages). It forms the definitions of the terms by which the Church makes distinctions and operates.

              If you think distinctions are pointless, that’s your prerogative. But it makes for poor argument when you group apples and oranges together and call them bananas.

              So now we’re reduced to “the distinctions don’t matter. My comparison of Catholicism to itself (or some other unspoken standard) still stands, it’s more permissive than it could be regarding dissolution/annulment (I have no idea which one you’re arguing for, or I guess both, since the distinction between the two probably doesn’t matter to you).”

              • A Philosopher


                I suspect we’ve long passed the point of diminishing returns on discussion of my somewhat throw-away point, so I’ll leave it at this point.

  • Thomas R

    I knew she was interested, but it’s a bit surprising. What with her sexuality and transhumanism. Still congrats to her, nice to see more join the family. (My Dad was an atheist, or maybe agnostic, turned Catholic. Although after 49 years he’s in a bit of a lapsed period right now)

    • Andy, Bad Person

      I knew she was interested, but it’s a bit surprising. What with her sexuality and transhumanism.

      Let’s not be too hasty in our judgments. Baptism is a first step, not a last one.