So this Catholic woman and this Pagan Woman – UPDATE

Katrina Fernandez is tired of ecumenism and puts it out there:

Ecumenism, or more specifically, tip toeing around the sensibilities of other religions. He finds it elitist a Catholic’s claim of belonging to the One True Church. I suppose this assertion goes against popular belief that all religions have equal measure and are deserving of equal respect.

To my dear friend religion is just another personal choice, like who to date or whether to have coffee or tea for breakfast. It doesn’t matter what religion you choose to follow if it works for you. But that is not what Catholicism is. It is not just another choice on the buffet of beliefs. He thinks my stubborn persistence that Catholicism is the True Faith founded by Christ to be nothing more than a desire to be right.

However, it is Catholicism that is right, not I. You can not apply the same rightness to all religions if you truly believe and acknowledge the rightness of Catholicism. Does that make any sense? How could I possibly grant equal legitimacy to other religions under the guise of personal choice without making my own faith appear less legitimate? By suggesting religion is nothing more than a lifestyle choice reduces Catholicism to just one of the many spiritual options.

Over on the Pagan Portal, Star Foster gives Fernandez a resounding “Amen!”

This had me fist-pumping and sending Kat a nice note regarding her post. Why? Well, fear not: I haven’t converted.

Kat’s insistence that Catholicism is the “One True Faith” doesn’t bother me. She, along with every other Catholic blogger on Patheos, have always been very pleasant to me . . .we tend to look at what it means to be a person of faith similarly.

My faith is not a matter of style. It’s not like shoes or purses. It’s not a matter of deciding if I want tacos or pasta for dinner. It’s not something I can change on a whim. It’s not something I’m willing to give up for the right guy. And yeah, I do think some faiths are better than others. I think the doctrine of Original Sin is not merely wrong but harmful to the soul. I don’t practice my religion because it was the yummiest option at the all-you-can-eat buffet. I practice it because I think it’s better than the other options out there. And when I struggle with it, as I have over the years, it’s because I need to be certain that my faith is right for me.

Like Kat, I’m single, and my faith is definitely a problem when it comes to finding a life partner. Because it’s not negotiable. The days of a boyfriend or husband asking me to be “in the broom closet” have long since passed. Where my situation differs from Kat is that I’m not looking for someone of my exact faith. I’m looking for someone who understands that this is who I am, and that I shouldn’t be expected to change. That my home will always contain altars. That I have holidays that are important to me and my bookshelves will have books on Witchcraft, theology and Pagan ritual. That Pagan artwork will always decorate my home and I “de-Witch” for no one. That I won’t be going to church on Easter Sunday. That I won’t give their mother Jewish grandchildren. That my personal belief is not an acceptable topic for their atheist humor.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, and all of Katrina’s piece too.

Occasionally Catholics give me a hard time about being at Patheos — they so-charitably assume that I came over here blinded by dollar signs and that I put no thought or prayer into making the move.

Quite the contrary. I came to Patheos because it allowed me to actually help build something meaningful to me as a Catholic, and to spread my wings a bit as an editor, but I only came after a great deal of thought and prayer; the prayer always led me to the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II, who said “we have to live in the world that is, as it is.”

Neither he nor our current good pope were interested in Catholicism becoming a spiritual and intellectual ghetto closing in on itself, and I’m not interested in that, either. Both men understood that the world is full of all kinds of people, believing all kinds of things, and while there is truth in primacy (and primacy in truth) we all still have to be able to live together, and speak together with mutual respect.

As our Pope Benedict has demonstrated over and over again, he is willing to discuss any idea with anybody, because eventually — due to that primal truth — it comes back to Catholic Orthodoxy. When I saw that Patheos meant to give exposition to as many religions as possible, I saw it as a chance to showcase Catholicism, passionately and through a variety of Catholic voices. It has been a privilege, as the Patheos team (largely made up of non-Catholics, by the way) has been the best, most pleasant, professional and untemperamental “crew” I’ve ever worked with.

Star and I don’t agree with each other, or believe what the other believes — we both flatly think the other is wrong — but neither of us compromises a bit of what we believe in order to appreciate each other, and we both applaud people who are willing to put aside the damned political correctness and relativism of the day to say: “of COURSE I believe that my religion is best/true/the right way to live! It’s not the same as everything else. It’s not just one-of-many.”

Ecumenism has not been able to say that; it’s been too busy trying to be all things to all people and placing equal values to things that are not equal in anyone’s mind. It’s been a lie.

So, this Catholic woman and the Pagan woman, they don’t agree on anything much relating to God or sin or redemption. But they’re honest in their disagreement, and because they are honest, there is a unity in their respectfulness of human value.

Sometimes a more unified respect and value than we find among co-religionists, actually, as a voyage through most religion-themed comboxes can demonstrate. I frankly think Star Foster would be faster to defend my right to live out my faith and my conscience than some fellow-Christians (see Washington DC) would.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Evangelical lawyer, writer and Patheos blogger David French challenges Evangelicals on Mormonism.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    Unless I am missing something, being truly Catholic is not mutually exclusive from ecumenism. But perhaps I am missing something?

    One can proudly, deeply and wisely proclaim the faith and hold it as eternal truth without disrespecting ecumenism. Ecumenism, is doing just that.

    Other behavior, which would be relativistic, is not ecumenism and is exactly what I believe that what Katrina is railing against. I’m sorry, the whole thing comes off a bit too simplistic in her piece as I read and understand it.

    [Kat did clarify herself, quickly, with "Ecumenism, or more specifically, tip toeing around the sensibilities of other religions." I think the operative word, Fran, is "truly" -- I think true ecumenism proclaims a respect for different faiths (just as true Catholicism would reject a ghetto mentality). I think what we see in practice under the name of "ecumenism" is often relativistic, confused and ultimately false. I don't believe ecumenism was ever meant to be an endorsement of "many truths all equal" which is in many ways precisely what it has become -- the vague, "what's it matter, they're all the same and one's as good as another" that we see/hear so often and which equates to the simplicity of "everyone is special" -admin]

  • Klaire

    I find it all disturbing frankly.

    While there is certainly some needed good (without compromise of course of our Catholicsm), I find it disgusting that unlike other Protestant Christians, who differ for various reasons, we all love the same God, and for the most part, want the same things, “evil” gets an audience.

    How did we even get to witchcraft as an equal opportunity religion? I prefer to call it what it is, evil! I don’t want to be reminded about the sacrifices on their altars, many or most which involve the Body and Blood of Christ, stolen from our Catholic Churches.

    As to the sinner, yes, we should all love the witches and pray for them, but to pretend that true evil is simply a tolerable “life style” difference is beyond disgusting, and borderline if not sacrilegious.

    [You should perhaps ask Star about her Paganism. Her altars do not hold stolen consecrated hosts. -admin]

  • bob c

    3 things
    this post captures what makes Patheos such a compelling community
    i often find the tolerance of interfaith to be as close to Screwtape as one can find
    kudos to you for the brave voice you had in writing this post, which I suspect is outside of what most of you audience would enjoy

    the JP2 quote
    we have to live in the world that is, as it is
    is a particular favorite

  • Star Foster

    Klaire, the sacrifices on my altar involve olive oil and incense that’s far too floral for Catholic churches. I do use wine on occasion but you won’t find bread on my altar. I’m sorry you think I’m evil rather than simply wrong, but I think all religious folk should be careful of accusing each other of stealing traditions. Some of the oldest traditions of the Catholic church originated in Pagan temples (altars, incense, holy water). Today, some Pagans use modified rosaries for their prayers.

  • Klaire

    Hi Star:

    Firstly, I tried to write as carefully as I could to make it clear that this is not personal against you, but the practice of witchcraft. For you personally Star, I won’t insult you by telling you that I’m praying for you, only that I sincererly wish you all things good.

    I do apologize for assuming you were also a satanist, but having lived in S CA for many years and spending a lot of time in adoration chapels, I’ve been witness to a lot of very disturbing things that go on with non Christians with altars and the Eucharist.

    Alll said, I couldn’t call myself a Catholic and not tell you that the practice of Witchcraft is evil. How could it not be, it’s the inversion of Catholicsm, plain and simple? As far as “stealing traditions” the whole world shares traditions, and that’s not the problem The problem is what we do with them. I even realize that you could make the argument that paganism has been around longer than Christianity, but I would counter that all things changed because of Christianity. We need to look no further than Jewish traditions to realize that the Eucharist has taken the place of the passover. Christ changed everything.

    I also get that like all of us, you have free will Star to believe or not believe in anything, nothing, self, or false gods (at least what a Christian would consider false gods).

    But here’s the thing Star, and the reason for my original post. Witchcraft is not another bible Christian religion minus a few Catholic dogmas we need to work on with each other. Witchcraft is the anti-Christian God, and despite if you believe in Satan or not, the work of Satan (he actually prefers the disbelief). Most importantly, it’s a sin, and sin is evil. (CCC 1852).

    Again, this isn’t personal to you, but I see no value, only danger, in putting withcraft in the spotlight on a Catholic blog. It’s not ecumenism, by any stretch, based on the fact that witchcraft is non only the anti Christian Religio, but Catholicism turned on its head.

    If there is any silver lining, I suspect it is that the many will care for you, despite our difference in beliefs.

    More on witchcraft can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church at 2115, 2116, and 2117

  • CarolHS

    I’ve never understood the “everyone’s beliefs have equal validity” vibe. If you don’t believe what you believe is true and right, why bother at all?
    Also, as always, we can follow Christ’s example when interacting with people
    who don’t believe in Him–treat them with love and respect, but never dilute the joy of the Good News.
    Jesus was sad when a person rejected Him, not harsh or angry. The only time He showed anger was in dealing with religious leaders who were putting barriers in the way of people who were trying to reach Him.

  • Gavin Andrew

    Klaire, you will find if you do the research that the people inverting the Catholic Mass are, historically speaking, far more likely to have been Catholic priests practicing what was known as ‘Nigromancy’ (see for example: Witchcraft, by contrast, has its roots in the indigenous spiritual traditions of Europe.

    It is also worth bearing in mind that witches (or people accused of being such) have always been far more sinned-against than sinning – especially at the hands of the Catholic Church.

    I explore these issues, and the reasons why so many Christians exhibit fear or hostility towards modern Pagans, in my book PAGANISM & CHRISTIANITY – A Resource for Wiccans, Witches and Pagans, available here:

  • Todd

    I stand with Fran on this one. It reminds me of what Bishop Sheen once said about anti-Catholicism. Most people who claim to hate Catholics actually detest some false, twisted idea of what they think Catholics are.

    Ecumenism is not really hard or mysterious. If you want to know what it’s about you don’t read extremists. You go to the source. The orthodox Catholic position on ecumenism (which applies to Christians alone, by the way) is that you pray for unity, you work toward it, and you grieve that it hasn’t happened yet. In the meantime, you give good example. If you’re not doing that or moving toward it, you’re not quite orthodox yet.