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.

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About Elizabeth Scalia