Father Richard McBrien's column (click on this post's title) in the current issue of Cardinal Roger Mahony's Archdiocesan newspaper, The Tidings
, has some problems.
No, that is not Father McBrien pictured above, but Father C. John McCloskey, and in a minute you will see why he is there.
Father McBrien, in his column, "Converts to Catholicism," says that nowadays most people who convert to Catholicism do so for family unity, or they like Catholic worship, or someone's "strong personality" influences them.
He says that before Vatican II, people converted for theological, Biblical or historical reasons, but that after Vatican II and the ecumenical movement, "it became practically impossible to present the Catholic Church any longer as 'the one, true Church' and all other denominations as awash in error and falsehoods."
Speak for yourself, Father.
Then Father McBrien actually makes this complaint:
"In the past two-and-half decades, however, we have seen something of a reversion to the pre-Vatican II approach. Many seeking entrance into the Catholic Church today do so as an act of rejecting their Protestant past and of embracing 'the truth' found only in Catholicism."
And then he continues his complaint:
"...high-profile Protestants and even a few Jews with strongly conservative opinions about religion, politics and social values have found their way to a Rome that one would have thought no longer exists. It is an authoritarian, triumphant, polemical, anti-Protestant Rome (non-Christians weren't even considered) that flourished during the first half of the 20th century..."
Father McBrien then remarks:
"...a priest in Washington, D.C., who runs the Catholic Information Center there and is a member of Opus Dei, has been doing an impressive job of drawing fellow conservatives into the Church... Conservative Protestants and Jews who convert to Catholicism, especially of the Opus Dei kind, rarely shed the religious, social and political biases they had in their pre-Catholic life."
Nowhere in Father McBrien's column does he hint that love, grace and the Holy Spirit have anything to do with people converting, or that sorrow for sin and desire for holiness do, too. He does use the word "spirituality" once.
Father McBrien does not give the name of the priest whom he says has been doing an impressive job. That priest is Father McCloskey, pictured above.
Actually, Father McCloskey was at the Catholic Information Center in D.C. from 1998 to 2004. He was then a research fellow at the Faith & Reason Institute. I'm not sure what he is doing now; do you know?
It would not hurt Father McBrien, or any of us, to read this testimonial: "Mr. [Russell] Shaw and Fr. McCloskey have written a book [Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith] about repentance, recovery, conversion, and joy. I recommend it because I have experienced it through Jesus, my Savior." -- Lawrence Kudlow
And it would not hurt us to read this one, too: "This book is calling all Catholics to share the gift of faith and shows them how to do so with winsome joy." -- Rev. Richard John Neuhaus