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The “Warm Welcome” I’ve Received From Catholics

The “Warm Welcome” I’ve Received From Catholics October 18, 2014

angry1It has been interesting to see the comments that have been posted at the CRUX website and elsewhere about my article this week asking the Holy Father to clearly defend and define Catholic teaching–a remark, which seems pretty much in line with the wishes of a majority of the bishops at the synod.

The comments on this article from “liberals” have been uniformly emotional, visceral and mostly vicious…in other words, just like the ugliness of the radical traditionalists they so despise.

Here’s one from a person who should know better

With all due respect, Father Dwight, you have been a Catholic for what, eight years?

“Before you lecture the bishop of Rome about his duties, perhaps you should better understand Catholic culture, Catholic tradition and the Catholic faith.

“If you do not like what you discover, may I humbly suggest you continue your faith journey by moving on – or found your own.”

First of all, this particular person doesn’t take the time to ascertain the facts.

We were received into the Catholic Church in February 1995–so I’ve been a Catholic for just under twenty years. For most of that time I have worked in Catholic journalism, and worked with a Catholic charity getting to know the way the church works from the inside out. I’ve experienced Catholic culture in England, Italy, France, Poland, Central America and gotten to know priests, bishops, educators, writers and thinkers across a wide spectrum of the Catholic world, and was re-trained to be a Catholic priest studying sacramental theology, canon law, liturgy, Catholics history of UK and USA, moral theology, Sacred Scripture and finally been examined by psychologists, theologians, took the necessary exams and was ordained.

Never mind about all that.

What I really find interesting is that this sort of ugly comment is the “welcome” a convert receives from the very Catholics who tell us piously how we are supposed to  “welcome all”.

Some welcome. Thanks for that.

I wish it were an isolated case, but in fact this is typical of the “welcome” many converts receive from cradle Catholics. The number of times I, and other convert clergy, have been sneered at, told to “go back where we belong”, ignored, patronized, marginalized and excluded is remarkable….absolutely incredible.

It has come blatantly from lay people and priests, and it is done subtly and covertly by bishops and clergy in the higher echelons.

In any other religion a convert is truly welcomed, his gifts valued and he is made to feel part of the family.

But not Catholics.

This vituperative, stuck up and nasty response has not only been from “liberals” but also from “traditionalists”.

I thought it would die out as I got settled into the Catholic Church, but no, it is actually increasing.

Here are a sampling of real comments:

“Why don’t you take your wife and kids and go back to the Anglican Church? We don’t need priests like you!”

“I would never go to confession to a priest who has to have a little bit of tail before he goes to the altar.”

“Once you learn what it really means to be a Catholic like those of us who were born into it, then you might think about opening your big mouth.”

“Did you see he graduated from Bob Jones University? That explains everything.”

“This is obviously a bitter, sad, disobedient and harsh person. How did he ever get to be a priest?”

“With converts like these who need evangelization?”

For the last twenty years I have worked with a wide range of converts–mostly clergy converts– and the stories I could tell of their mis-treatment are astounding.

But for the most part we don’t tell these stories.

We bite the bullet. We smile. We nod politely and thank the person who has just kicked us in the teeth.

We shut up and put up.

We’re humbled and serious that God has led us into the fullest expression of the Christian faith in the Catholic Church.

We’re also joyful and happy to serve where we can.

My own feeling about those Catholics who feel obliged to give us their version of a “warm welcome”–whether they are traditionalists or progressives is to wish them well and move on.

The Catholic vineyard is large. I’ll find my own row to weed, prune and nurture with joy.

I don’t always succeed in being that charitable, but I want to.

After all, life’s too short and the Catholic faith is too fantastic to dwell on negativities.

We have a job to do, a battle to fight, a gospel to proclaim and a good life to enjoy.


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