“Why I Am Catholic.” This morning in less than a minute I answered the same question. I have been corresponding with an Anglican priest who seems poleaxed by my conversion. Why, he demanded, had I become a Catholic? I dashed off seven bullet points.
Two hours later, on further review, I’m not embarrassed by them. They could be subtler, and I did promise him a longer, more considered response later, but if I had to give an elevator pitch for the Catholic Church, or my faith in it, I could do worse than this list.
Why am I Catholic? Here’s why—
1. The saints. No one ever talked about the saints in the Episcopal Church. I can't understand why.
2. The influence of a mentor in my 20s, a man raised in intensely Catholic Cuba, with whom I did quite a bit of European travel, visiting St. Peter's, Lourdes, Notre Dame, Chartres—all Catholic, very moving.
3. A perception founded on personal experience that the Episcopal Church is the church of the wealthy and the Anglophile, that the Catholic Church is truly universal and filled with the poor.
4. A devotion to St. Thomas More (“A Man for All Seasons”) and the understanding that the Anglican Church came into being because Henry VIII was horny, wanted to change his wife, and then killed a lot of people and pillaged monasteries over it. I didn't want to be on his side, or Elizabeth's either.
5. A fascination with St. Joan of Arc (pictured above) and eventually a realization that for all the talk about women in the priesthood, it is the Catholic Church, not the Anglican, that truly honors women. (Ever heard of Mary?)
6. A deep admiration for Pope John Paul II and (since my conversion) a similar admiration, though intellectual, for BXVI.
7. A willingness to swim against the current. Wasn't that what the 60s were about?