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[ECUMENICAL] Evangelicals ‘Crossing the Tiber’ to Catholicism
Religion Dispatches ^ | 8/1/2010 | Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

Posted on 08/02/2010 3:13:20 AM PDT by markomalley

In the fall of 1999, I was a freshman at Gordon College, an evangelical liberal arts school in Massachusetts. There, fifteen years earlier, a professor named Thomas Howard resigned from the English department when he felt his beliefs were no longer in line with the college’s statement of faith. Despite all those intervening years, during my time at Gordon the specter of Thomas Howard loomed large on campus. The story of his resignation captured my imagination; it came about, ultimately, because he converted to Roman Catholicism.

Though his reasons for converting were unclear and perhaps unimaginable to me at the time (they are actually well-documented in his book Evangelical is Not Enough which, back then, I had not yet read), his reasons seemed less important than the knowledge that it could happen. I had never heard of such a thing.

I grew up outside of Boston in what could be described as an Irish-Catholic family, except for one minor detail: my parents had left the Church six years before I was born when they were swept up in the so-called “Jesus Movement” of the 1970s. So Catholicism was all around me, but it was not mine. I went to mass with my grandparents, grew up around the symbolism of rosary beads and Virgin Mary statues, attended a Catholic high school, and was present at baptisms, first communions, and confirmations for each of my Catholic family members and friends.

All throughout this time my parents never spoke ill of the Catholic Church; though the pastors and congregants of our non-denominational, charismatic church-that-met-in-a-warehouse, often did. Despite my firsthand experience with the Church, between the legend of my parents’ conversion (anything that happens in a child’s life before he is born is the stuff of legends) and the portrait of the Catholic Church as an oppressive institution that took all the fun out of being “saved,” I understood Catholicism as a religion that a person leaves when she becomes serious about her faith.

And yet, Thomas Howard is only the tip of the iceberg of a hastening trend of evangelicals converting to Catholicism. North Park University professor of religious studies Scot McKnight documented some of the reasons behind this trend in his important 2002 essay entitled “From Wheaton to Rome: Why Evangelicals become Roman Catholic.” The essay was originally published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, and was later included in a collection of conversion stories he co-edited with Hauna Ondrey entitled Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy.

Thomas Howard comes in at number five on McKnight’s list of significant conversions, behind former Presbyterian pastor and author of Rome Sweet Home, Scott Hahn, and Marcus Grodi founder of The Coming Home Network International, an organization that provides “fellowship, encouragement and support for Protestant pastors and laymen who are somewhere along the journey or have already been received into the Catholic Church,” according to their Web site. Other featured converts include singer-songwriter John Michael Talbot and Patrick Madrid, editor of the Surprised by Truth books, which showcase conversion stories.

Would Saint Augustine Go to a Southern Baptist Church in Houston?

McKnight first identified these converts eight years ago, and the trend has continued to grow in the intervening years. It shows up in a variety of places, in the musings of the late Michael Spencer (the “Internet Monk”) about his wife’s conversion and his decision not to follow, as well as at the Evangelical Theological Society where the former President and Baylor University professor Francis J. Beckwith made a well-documented “return to Rome.” Additionally, the conversion trend is once again picking up steam as the Millennial generation, the first to be born and raised in the contemporary brand of evangelicalism, comes of age. Though perhaps an unlikely setting, The King’s College, an evangelical Christian college in New York City, provides an excellent case study for the way this phenomenon is manifesting itself among young evangelicals.

The King’s College campus is comprised of two floors in the Empire State Building and some office space in a neighboring building on Fifth Avenue. The approximately 300 students who attend King’s are thoughtful, considerate and serious. They are also intellectually curious. This combination of traits, it turns out, makes the college a ripe breeding ground for interest in Roman Catholicism. Among the traits of the Catholic Church that attract TKC students—and indeed many young evangelicals at large—are its history, emphasis on liturgy, and tradition of intellectualism.

Lucas Croslow was one such student to whom these and other attributes of Catholicism appealed. This past spring, graduating from The King’s College was not the only major change in Croslow’s life, he was also confirmed into the Catholic Church.

Croslow’s interest in Catholicism began over six years ago when he was a sophomore in high school. At the time, Croslow’s Midwestern evangelical church experienced a crisis that is all too common among evangelical churches: what he describes as “a crisis of spiritual authority.” As a result of experiencing disappointment in his pastor, Croslow began to question everything he had learned from him. This questioning led him to study the historical origins of scripture and then of the Christian church itself. Eventually he concluded that Catholicism in its current form is the closest iteration of the early church fathers’ intentions. He asks, “If Saint Augustine showed up today, could we seriously think that he’d attend a Southern Baptist church in Houston?” The answer, to Croslow, is a resounding “No.”

Croslow’s belief that the Catholic Church most accurately reflects the intentions of the early church fathers is echoed throughout the movement as other evangelicals seek a church whose roots run deeper than the Reformation. Further, due to the number of non-denominational churches that have proliferated since the Jesus Movement, many evangelicals’ knowledge of their history runs only as far back as the 1970s. These are the young believers who are attracted to a Church that sees itself as the direct descendent of the religion founded by Saint Peter and the apostles.

Another recent convert and current King’s sophomore, Nick Dunn, agrees with Croslow about the need for a historically grounded Christianity, however he emphasizes the liturgical aspects of Roman Catholicism as a motivation for converting. When he moved to New York City to attend The King’s College he had a difficult time finding a church that was similar to his home church in San Diego. The churches that he attended in New York, even the evangelical ones, often were a bit more structured and incorporated some liturgical elements into their services. In time, Dunn realized that these liturgical practices, which had been all but absent from his church life to that point, were quite rich.

When he asked his parents why their church didn’t have a benediction or a call to worship, they answered as many evangelicals would, saying that they don’t like “these ritualistic or religious kinds of things.” Eventually, after attending mass at St. Francis of Assisi in midtown Manhattan, Dunn became interested in learning more about Catholicism. It was living like a Catholic, Dunn says, that finally made him to decide to convert.

In much the same way that many evangelical churches have discarded Church history, so the liturgical structure of worship was left by the wayside as these churches made claims to the “freedom” that comes from forsaking the bounds of the Catholic Church and even mainline Protestant denominations. But for many young evangelicals and former evangelicals like Dunn, this move to be free of liturgical strictures came at the expense of religious practices that have been a part of Christianity for two millennia, and to these believers, the loss is too great. This is precisely why many evangelical churches have, as Dunn witnessed, made an effort to reintroduce those once forsaken elements into worship services.

Chris White, a 2009 King’s graduate, shares the concerns of Croslow and Dunn, while adding another of the main reasons why many evangelicals are converting to Catholicism: intellectual hunger.

White describes himself as a “victim of Church history classes that start in 1517,” the year Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses. That is, until he took a course entitled “Foundations of Judeo-Christian Thought” at TKC. It “raised certain questions within me,” he says of the course. White cites Boston College philosophy professor and TKC visiting faculty member Peter Kreeft’s Catholic Christianity as a factor in his conversion, but he also points to a number of other courses that he took at King’s that led him to the point of conversion. He says of the college’s curriculum that it is “not a ‘great books curriculum’ but it draws heavily on the liberal arts tradition.” He adds, “You can’t study the liberal arts without confronting the rich history of Catholicism.”

Indeed The King’s College is a microcosm of the larger community of young believers whose frustration with the lack of authority, structure, and intellectualism in many evangelical churches is leading them in great numbers to the Roman Catholic Church. This trend of “Crossing the Tiber” (a phrase that also served as the title of Stephen K. Ray’s 1997 book on the phenomenon), has been growing steadily for decades, but with the help of a solid foundation of literature, exemplar converts from previous generations, burgeoning traditional and new media outlets, and the coming of age of Millennial evangelicals, it is seeing its pace quicken dramatically.

Back in 1985, when many of the most recent converts were still singing Sunday School songs in evangelical churches, Thomas Howard wrote in the postscript to Evangelical is Not Enough that after completing the text in 1984, he formally converted to Catholicism at the Easter Vigil in 1985. Ultimately, Howard concluded that the question that matters most is “What is the Church?” His answer, like that of Hahn, Grodi and Talbot, and now of Croslow, Dunn, and White, is that the “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church”—the historical, traditional Church—can only be the Roman Catholic Church.


TOPICS: Catholic; Evangelical Christian
KEYWORDS: freformed
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I am posting this not to get in anybody's face

I am just curious about the basic premise of the article: are evangelicals crossing the Tiber when they become more educated about church history?

My question for evangelicals is this: Were these people listed in the article legitimate evangelical scholars? Or were they squishy people who you are better rid of in the first place?

My question for Catholics is this: have you observed in your parishes a trend of evangelicals coming in through RCIA? Of course, we all know the high profile types that we see on EWTN and read about, but are you seeing this first hand?


Please note that this is an [ECUMENICAL] thread so let's keep it clean and above-board. I won't hesitate to ask the management to lock the thread if it goes down into the gutter...

1 posted on 08/02/2010 3:13:23 AM PDT by markomalley
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To: markomalley

‘His answer, like that of Hahn, Grodi and Talbot, and now of Croslow, Dunn, and White, is that the “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church”—the historical, traditional Church—can only be the Roman Catholic Church.’

May we agree to characterize this entity as the ‘Roman Catholic Church,’ on this thread, in light of the usage by the author?


2 posted on 08/02/2010 4:01:18 AM PDT by esquirette ("Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee." ~ Augustine)
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To: markomalley
I think protestants look at conversions to Catholicism different than Catholics look at conversion to protestantism

Just because someone was baptized, made a faith profession, walked an isle or attends church every Sunday and Wed. does not mean they are saved. It means in many cases the Catholic church .

Personally I would rather see them go and take their false doctrine (in the case of preachers) than to have them stay and poison the flock.

Were they legitimate scholars ??? Well scripture says the natural man can not understand scripture.. so if they are unsaved they may know a lot of scripture, but be unable to rightly divide it. So they may have a kind of self made scholarship ...but not genuine scholarship .

Just because i sleep in the garage, go beep beep and have an auto manual does not make me a car.. :)

3 posted on 08/02/2010 4:05:40 AM PDT by RnMomof7 (sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me)
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To: esquirette
May we agree to characterize this entity as the ‘Roman Catholic Church,’ on this thread, in light of the usage by the author?

I personally wouldn't (just a IMHO here). I would think that it would include all particular churches that teach the apostolic faith and have valid apostolic succession.

An example of this would have to include the Eastern Orthodox churces. They are a historically significant part of the Church Catholic. They are absolutely legitimate churches as they maintain apostolic succession and they teach the orthodox (small "O") Faith as passed down from the apostles.

4 posted on 08/02/2010 4:08:30 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: markomalley

I would like to see who is publishing the numbers supporting this claim of an increased “trend of evangelicals” converting to Catholicism...is there a religious “Nielsons” rating service?

Any TRUE CHURCH OF PETER would be evangelical in nature, based on Peter’s own dream(sent by God) that the gospel should be preached to all nations, gentiles included. Christ’s great Comission was a call to world evangelism. So I think a clarification as to what a true evangelical is versus how they are often defined in loose vernacular tomes is also in order. Is the term “evangelical” a loose term for protestants said to be “returning to or acknowledging Roman Cathocism as their true “church”(but avoiding the term “protestant”, for fear of backlash)?


5 posted on 08/02/2010 4:14:08 AM PDT by mdmathis6 (Mike Mathis is my name,opinions are my own,subject to flaming when deserved!)
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To: markomalley

I found your contribution very interesting. I cannot speculate whether or not the the people in the article are “legitimate evangelical scholars”. Certainly, in North Park University, Wheaton College and to some degree, Baylor, you have a good representation of evangelical institutions.

I have a good friend with whom I have lunch frequently, motivated by business, friendship and a common interest in spiritual things. When we first came to know each other it was in an evangelical setting, but more and more he has identified with the Reform “movement”, and has since joined a Reformed church.

At our last lunch it seemed to me that he was becoming what I called “Catholic lite” on a previous thread. He cited his study of the early church fathers and the liturgy, in particular.


6 posted on 08/02/2010 4:23:31 AM PDT by norge (The amiable dunce is back, wearing a skirt and high heels.)
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To: markomalley

Cannot blame you. I am getting tired of the flame wars in the religion section of FR.


7 posted on 08/02/2010 4:25:46 AM PDT by Biggirl (AZ Is DOING THE JOB The Feds Should Be Doing, ENFORCING The Southern Border! =^..^=)
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To: markomalley

That is why I am very careful not to you the word “orthodox” until the Eastern Christian churches come home in full to the Roman Catholic Church.


8 posted on 08/02/2010 4:30:56 AM PDT by Biggirl (AZ Is DOING THE JOB The Feds Should Be Doing, ENFORCING The Southern Border! =^..^=)
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To: markomalley; FatherofFive
There wee several factors taht contributed to my reversion to the Catholic Cbhurch:

1)My Brother-in-law (Fatheroffive) began to confront me on various anti-Catholic statements I was making on a regular basis. He would not accept satements that began with; "Well the Catholic Church does ....." With out supporting evidence.

I was forced to do historical research

2) Dr. Dennis Castillo at Christ the King Seminary. He taught all the Church History Classes and prsented the truth warts and all and we were forced to confront what people actually said in their own words.

3) My wifes constant petitions to St. Monica the Mother of St. Augustine.

In the area I live (Cantral Virginia) we are seeing a steady stream of Converts to the Catholic faith and our RCIA program is very rigorous.

I have attended several of the other churches here with friends and you hear the occasional anti-Catholic comments, but most of the people are very pleasent to have faith discussions with.

9 posted on 08/02/2010 4:32:25 AM PDT by verga (I am not an apologist, I just play one on Television)
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To: markomalley
I, too had to striggle with the term "Crossing the Tiber".

I can well understand the term "Crossing the Rubicon" as denoting taking an irrevocable step, as Caesar did when he came home to seize power.

I can understand "Crossing the Delaware" as a significant and symbolic step in reversing the fortunes of war, as Washington did in the unpleasantness between the Crown and its American colonies.

And "Crossing the Rhine" was what happened in the Volkerwanderung of the German tribes into the Roman provinces and was a significant step in the Allied conquest of Germany in WWII.

We can come up with lots of allusions to crossing rivers.

But the only context I had for the Tiber was that it was a bridge on that river that Horatius defended in his famous stand against the Etruscan invasion of Rome, celebrated in the epic poem "Horatius at the Bridge" by Thomas Babington Macaulay.

Perhaps it is simply that the Tiber is no longer a river on the approaches to Rome but instead flows through Rome and divides the Vatican from Rome's "city centre". So "crossing the Tiber" is simply a symbolic description of the process of returning to Holy Mother Church.

But I don't think that one "crosses the Tiber" by becoming more educated about the Church. Religious conversion, in any direction, is not an intellectual exercise; albeit the intellectual exercise may, for many, have been a condition precedent for a true conversion.

10 posted on 08/02/2010 4:33:06 AM PDT by Clive
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To: markomalley

How about Catholic?


11 posted on 08/02/2010 4:37:21 AM PDT by esquirette ("Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee." ~ Augustine)
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To: mdmathis6

While your point regarding “evangelical” is well taken, in the context of this thread, and certainly in my post, I would think evangelical would be taken as Protestant and in many cases, though not all, Fundamentalist.


12 posted on 08/02/2010 4:37:28 AM PDT by norge (The amiable dunce is back, wearing a skirt and high heels.)
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To: markomalley
An example of this would have to include the Eastern Orthodox churces. They are a historically significant part of the Church Catholic. They are absolutely legitimate churches as they maintain apostolic succession and they teach the orthodox (small "O") Faith as passed down from the apostles.

But we converts to Holy Orthodoxy swam the Bosporus. When I heard that a Bishop in the OCA (Dmetri - Orthodox Church in America) had been raised a Baptist, I had to take a serious look. Then I found out about Peter Gillquist and his cohorts.

13 posted on 08/02/2010 4:38:51 AM PDT by don-o (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: norge
I would think evangelical would be taken as Protestant and in many cases, though not all, Fundamentalist.

As long as it's not violating the Ecumenical rule - I will throw out that Fundamentalists that I was aware of (20 years ago) scorned Evangelicals almost as much as they scorned the Catholic/Orthodox.

14 posted on 08/02/2010 4:42:33 AM PDT by don-o (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: norge

Just wanted to make sure the “code words” for this discussion were properly “decoded”, that’s all.


15 posted on 08/02/2010 4:44:45 AM PDT by mdmathis6 (Mike Mathis is my name,opinions are my own,subject to flaming when deserved!)
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To: mdmathis6; don-o

Mike...fair enough.

don-o: Understood. It was several decades ago that I chose evangelical to identify myself...as a subtle distinction from “fundy”. ;)


16 posted on 08/02/2010 4:55:52 AM PDT by norge (The amiable dunce is back, wearing a skirt and high heels.)
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To: RnMomof7
Personally I would rather see them go and take their false doctrine (in the case of preachers) than to have them stay and poison the flock.

That is a very revealing statement. Thank you.

But one question? If somebody abandons your (Presbyterian?) confession to join the Catholic Church, do you write them off immediately or do you pray for them?

17 posted on 08/02/2010 4:57:51 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: mdmathis6
I would like to see who is publishing the numbers supporting this claim of an increased “trend of evangelicals” converting to Catholicism...is there a religious “Nielsons” rating service?

That's the reason I'm asking the question. I see the claim made and, frankly, if both sides' claims were factual, I would imagine that 100% of Catholics would belong to something else within 10 years and 100% of non-Catholics would be Catholic within 10 years. So I was asking for actual reports from the ground rather than relying upon a magazine article.

18 posted on 08/02/2010 4:57:51 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: Clive
But I don't think that one "crosses the Tiber" by becoming more educated about the Church. Religious conversion, in any direction, is not an intellectual exercise; albeit the intellectual exercise may, for many, have been a condition precedent for a true conversion.

Well, actual education may tend to remove a few preconceived notions. And those preconceived notions may make it far more difficult to perceive and respond to the calling of the Holy Spirit (again, an IMHO)

19 posted on 08/02/2010 5:02:34 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: don-o

Some Catholics lump evangelical and fundamentalists together under the broad term of Protestant. Most fundamentalists would call themselves evangelical in terms of their agreement with Christ’s command that Christians go out tinto the byways of the world and “evangelize” which some would also call prosletize(if one were casting aspersions).

So that is why I called for more clarification of definitions. I’ve read of a lot of Episcopalians joining the Catholic church with the terms both protestant and or evangelical being applied to them. I have not read of a lot of Assembly of God members leaving and joining the Catholic Church(in deed they are experiencing member growth supposedly documented by the same “neilsen” service that documents Catholic conversions, who ever documents these things). Yet Assembly of God members would call themselves evangelical and fundamentalist Bible believing orthodox Christians. So who has the authority to actually define what an evangelical is?

If one were to stay true to the socialized accepted meaning of the term “fundamentalist”; Roman Catholic believers believing that the Vatican is the only Christian authority on Earth and shunning all else who believe differently, might be described as “fundamentalist” in their view of their church and its practises!


20 posted on 08/02/2010 5:04:07 AM PDT by mdmathis6 (Mike Mathis is my name,opinions are my own,subject to flaming when deserved!)
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To: don-o
But we converts to Holy Orthodoxy swam the Bosporus. When I heard that a Bishop in the OCA (Dmetri - Orthodox Church in America) had been raised a Baptist, I had to take a serious look. Then I found out about Peter Gillquist and his cohorts.

The problem is that swimming the Bosphorus would actually land one in Üsküdar (on the Asian side). I would think that would be the wrong direction, wouldn't it?

Maybe swimming the Golden Horn...

;-)

21 posted on 08/02/2010 5:06:42 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: markomalley
This phenomenon, which is real and of which I am a part, raises another serious question about the current practice of Roman Catholicism in America.

Evangelicals like me who become Catholic tend to regard it as an advanced form of their previous Christian practice. Most conversion stories address this in some form - so now, I am Evangelical PLUS.

This is so consistent that there is now a whole internet body of literature by Evangelical converts saying, "OK, now I'm in the REAL Church - can we talk more about Jesus?"

I'm coming to the Catholic tradition late in life, from a basically Calvinist - Evangelical background.

I cannot imagine how a cradle Catholic with no religious education outside of CCD and the Mass can possibly have a proper Christian formation. I have 5 daughters, 4 of whom are in various levels of CCD, and the level of ignorance among their classmates on the most basic Christian doctrines is astonishing.

Catholicism makes sense to many Evangelicals, exactly as described in the article, as an "add-on" or upgrade to their already well-established faith.

But if my children didn't go to a Christian school and didn't get Bible study at home, despite receiving the sacraments, they wouldn't be Christians at all.

Hopefully this will get some discussion here.

22 posted on 08/02/2010 5:09:22 AM PDT by Jim Noble (If the answer is "Republican", it must be a stupid question.)
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To: norge; mdmathis6; Alex Murphy
I tend to like the taxonomy Alex Murphy outlined a couple of years ago:

"Reformed/Protestant" (16th century, those that trace denominational and creedal roots back to the Reformation),
"Evangelical" (17th century, like xzins' Wesleyans/Methodists or the Baptists, largely anabaptist, that arose after the Reformed groups);
"Restorationist" (19th century, independent "first century style" churches / denominations that can be traced back to the Stone/Campbell movement in NY's Hudson River valley); and
"Charismatic" (20th century, any "Spirit-led" but anti-creedal church or denomination that followed or appeared alongside the Restorationists, but especially those that originated with the "baby boomer" generation i.e. the Calvary Chapel/Vineyard churches).

I'm honestly not sure where I'd place groups like the "emergent churches" or even the Warren / Osteen style megachurches. They lack the strong theological distinctives (Calvinism, creedalism) that characterizes the earlier groups, and the strong cultural distinctives (display of charismatic gifts, fierce cultural isolationism) that characterizes the later groups. I tend to think that they should get their own category, but I usually lump them under the "evangelical" label because they usually associate themselves with that group socially.

I think that the term "fundamentalist" could really fit in any of those categories, as it refers to a rather dogmatic, strict adherence to the teachings of a particular belief...rather than defining a specific belief in of itself.

23 posted on 08/02/2010 5:17:51 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: markomalley

Our parish in Tulsa had some high-profile converts, including Protestant ministers and professors. I think this was largely due to our deacon’s owning the Catholic bookstore in the city! In my current parish, the people I see going to RCIA tend to be married to Catholics already in the parish.


24 posted on 08/02/2010 5:22:58 AM PDT by Tax-chick (If you know where my son's iPod is, please FReepmail me immediately!)
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To: Jim Noble
Most conversion stories address this in some form - so now, I am Evangelical PLUS.

I think that is a marvelous way of looking at it.

I cannot imagine how a cradle Catholic with no religious education outside of CCD and the Mass can possibly have a proper Christian formation. I have 5 daughters, 4 of whom are in various levels of CCD, and the level of ignorance among their classmates on the most basic Christian doctrines is astonishing.

I would doubt that there would be a Catholic on FR who would disagree with you. The level of catechesis both through CCD and in Catholic schools is appalling.

The trouble is that this is the second, and, in some cases, the third generation who never have been educated in their own faith. And so parents have a hard time taking on their responsibilities as the primary educators of their children because they don't know either.

(In fact, I have been prayerfully considering taking on a seventh grade CCD/pre-confirmation class for just that reason)

25 posted on 08/02/2010 5:28:15 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: markomalley
"My question for evangelicals is this: Were these people listed in the article legitimate evangelical scholars? Or were they squishy people who you are better rid of in the first place?"

As an evangelical who swam the Tiber 16 years ago, perhaps I shouldn't answer this, but I'm going to anyway. 4 of the 5 named either influenced my decision to plunge into the Tiber waters , or helped acquaint me with the new territory when I emerged on the Roman shore. To the list of 5 I would add one more, Father Richard John Neuhaus. John Michael Talbot's music introduced me to the strong scriptural base of Catholic thought while I was still a Lutheran. Father Neuhaus, a Lutheran scholar I admired for his "First Things" journal, challenged my locked in thought patterns when he went to Rome. Catholic friends loaned me Scott Hahn's conversion story on tape when I began to question my own path. Thomas Howard was there to offer clarification with his book "On Being Catholic" which I read shortly after my confirmation. Marcus Gordi's "Journey Home" has become the one "must watch" program on our weekly television schedule. None are "squishy" in my view.

26 posted on 08/02/2010 5:53:48 AM PDT by Reo
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To: markomalley

I love the Protestant’s use of the phrase “crossing the Tiber.” Martin Luther lied about ever having gone to Rome, and all his slanders about the papacy were just that: slanders. The phrase “crossing the Tiber” echoes Martin’s misconception that the Vatican was in Rome, and therefore “crossing the Tiber” meant entering “the whore of Babylon.”

The truth is that the Vatican exists in perpetual exile from the city of Rome, across the Tiber. To cross the Tiber to enter into the Catholic Church, then, means to depart from Babylon and join Saint Peter in exile.


27 posted on 08/02/2010 5:59:57 AM PDT by dangus
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To: Biggirl

I’m cool with “Orthodox” as a denominational term. Orthodox churches are, in fact, catholic, and Catholic churches are, in fact, orthodox. Terms such as “Church of Christ,” “[Redacted] Bible Churches,” “Church of God in Christ,” “Disciples of Christ,” and even “Presbyterian,” and “Episcopalian,” bug me more, since the Catholic Church is presbyterian, episcopalian, reads the entire bible (and not just portions redacted by those who denied Christ, after his death), etc.


28 posted on 08/02/2010 6:05:49 AM PDT by dangus
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To: mdmathis6

The lumping of evangelical and fundamentalist into Protestant is no Catholic invention! “Protestant” meant someone who “publicly declared” their differences from Catholicism, initially referring to their objections to the Diet of Speyer in 1529. Calvinist, Lutheran and Anglican movements all identified with the movement, as did successive groups emerging from those traditions, such as Methodists, etc.

Various non-Catholic groups do not fit, or may not fit, into the term, “Protestant”:

1. & 2. Orthodox and Oriental churches predate doctrinal separations from the Catholic church, and therefore are regarded by just about no-one as Protestant.

3. Anabaptist churches dubiously claim that they have existed since before the Nicene Council in the fourth century, representing “primitive” Christianity, and hence rejected the notion that their faiths are protesting against anything. Following them, several Baptists churches have rejected the “protestant” label, although most schemes of categorizing churches regard Baptists as Protestants.

4. Restorationist churches, such as Mormons and 7th-Day Adventists, while not insisting as Anabaptist churches do, that they persisted throughout the Christian era, nonetheless do claim that they represent a restoration of primitive Christianity.

5. Many Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches reject several religious movements, such as Mormons, as lacking critical elements of Christianity, such as Trinitiarianism. For this reason, they are counted as quasi-Christian, and therefore outside Protestantism. This is made still less controversial by the fact that many such churches are Restorationist, and reject the label “Protestant,” anway.

6. Lastly, two movements within the Anglican church have led it to be placed outside Protestantism by many, despite its historical and doctrinal similarities. Many Anglican apologists, confronted with a movement back towards Catholic sensibilities, differentiated themselves from Catholicism by maintaining that the papacy had only recently asserted authority over England (11th century) at the time of the 16th century schism. (This is ironic, since Canterbury was established precisely as a means for Rome to reign back in the Irish Religious Orders, who, like modern religious orders, answer to their own “ordinaries,” rather than the “secular” bishop.) Also, as their theological and ecclesiastical affililation to the Catholic/Orthodox churches grew, they saw themselves as neither Catholic, nor Protestant, but as the middle way, the “Via Media.”


29 posted on 08/02/2010 6:28:25 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus
The truth is that the Vatican exists in perpetual exile from the city of Rome, across the Tiber.

What an interesting insight!

30 posted on 08/02/2010 6:31:29 AM PDT by Tax-chick (If you know where my son's iPod is, please FReepmail me immediately!)
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To: markomalley; Jim Noble
I would doubt that there would be a Catholic on FR who would disagree with you. The level of catechesis both through CCD and in Catholic schools is appalling.

I converted to Protestantism (Baptist) in 1987 (then to Charismatic/pentecostal in 1992). I was raised Catholic. For me, Catholicism was dry and sterile. There was no relationship with God there was only follow the rules. Having a personal relationship with Christ was never, ever mentioned at any of the parishes I attended.

I was not actively proselytized by anyone at the first church I attended. My conversion came about from a Christmas gift that my fiance gave me. A bible.

"Hmmm" I thought, "What do I do with this?". We had a bible in our house when I was a kid. The big, choke-a-mule, left open on the bookstand and never ever moved sort. BUt this was different. This was a book. So what do you do with a book? You read it.

Somewhere between Genesis and Revelation I came to understand that God wanted more from us thanjust following the rules. God wanted to know each of us on a personal basis through His Son Jesus. This was a radical idea to me. Needless to say I listened to the call of the spirit and become saved.

(Please note that there are saved Catholics (and lost Protestants) I just had never met one to my knowledge at that time)

The trouble is that this is the second, and, in some cases, the third generation who never have been educated in their own faith.

Faith is not hereditary. If they haven't been taught, if they do not believe, then they are not a part of the faith no matter how many generations have been believers before them.

And so parents have a hard time taking on their responsibilities as the primary educators of their children because they don't know either.

This is true.

31 posted on 08/02/2010 7:48:25 AM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: John O; Jim Noble
I converted to Protestantism (Baptist) in 1987 (then to Charismatic/pentecostal in 1992). I was raised Catholic. For me, Catholicism was dry and sterile. There was no relationship with God there was only follow the rules. Having a personal relationship with Christ was never, ever mentioned at any of the parishes I attended.

I know a lot of people who feel that way. I find it really to be a shame. But, again, that comes down to a really poor level of catechesis. Catechesis is not only learning the rules and regs. It is not only memorization. It is helping a person know how to establish that close personal relationship with the Triune God.

Sterile: just praying the Rosary prayers. Active, deep, and very rich: praying the Rosary prayers while actively meditating on the events of our salvation highlighted in the mysteries of the Rosary.

Sterile: going to Mass every Sunday and Holy Days and waiting until it is over with...so you can get on to softball practice.

Active, deep, and very rich: going to Mass every Sunday, Holy Days (and maybe even on weekdays)...praying beforehand...reading and pondering on the Scriptures presented in the Liturgy of the Word...and offering yourself as a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1) up on the altar with the Victim...

Sterile: going to confession when absolutely required and listing all the sins you commit, waiting for the priest to absolve you.

Active, deep, and very rich: valuing your relationship with God above all else and rushing to confession when your actions have wounded that relationship in order to establish it. Truly examining your conscience every day to see where you have fallen short of what God holds for you, feeling genuinely contrite at that point, and truly resolving to live the fullness of what God has given us. Truly recognizing that the priest, acting in persona Christi capitas, is ministering healing to your soul and being able to feel totally clean from the inside out when you walk out.

And so on.

I have seen SO MANY Catholics who fit inside the first category (what you called accurately sterile) that it breaks my heart.

I was not actively proselytized by anyone at the first church I attended. My conversion came about from a Christmas gift that my fiance gave me. A bible...The big, choke-a-mule, left open on the bookstand and never ever moved sort. BUt this was different. This was a book. So what do you do with a book? You read it.

And that is sort of a funny thing. Were you, before you left, aware that there are indulgences offered for daily Scripture reading and meditation on the Scriptures? If not, it wouldn't surprise me, as most Catholics are, in fact, unaware of that fact. And, again, it shocks me when I consider it. How many Catholics don't realize that their faith is founded in the words and deeds of Christ, given to the apostles, recorded in that book, and passed on from generation to generation? How can they possibly have a true understanding of their own faith without cracking open that book?

Needless to say I listened to the call of the spirit and become saved.

Well, I am very glad to hear that. I think it is a tragedy that you had to leave the Church in order to do so. It is a real indictment against those of us who are in the Church. Both in how you were taught as a youth and then how poorly you were shepherded as a young adult. And I think it is a real lesson that we should all take to heart. Not only one for the clergy, but one for the laity as well.

32 posted on 08/02/2010 8:15:55 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: John O

You wrote:

“Having a personal relationship with Christ was never, ever mentioned at any of the parishes I attended.”

Probably because that terminology was never used by Christians until a handful of years ago. It certainly was never used before 1850. The way evangelicals speak about “Having a personal relationship with Christ” has nothing to do with the Bible (the terminology is entirely foreign to scripture), has no place in tradition and seems to have been invented only recently in the last few decades. Maybe that’s why you never heard it discussed that way in a 2,000 year old Church.

I’m just sayin’...


33 posted on 08/02/2010 9:01:43 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
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To: markomalley

I wouldn’t be good enough for any of the religions in existence today. I’d end up screwing up one or more of their “must do” lists. I can’t imagine trusting some human to “absolve” me when I could well find out later he was after the boys. I’d forget to do something or another or being human slip up on one of the rules. I’m just going to believe what Jesus said. He paid the price and all I have to do is trust him. He said when I go to the Father I should go in his name. Nothing more, nothing less.


34 posted on 08/02/2010 9:39:57 AM PDT by CynicalBear
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To: vladimir998
Probably because that terminology was never used by Christians until a handful of years ago. It certainly was never used before 1850. The way evangelicals speak about “Having a personal relationship with Christ” has nothing to do with the Bible (the terminology is entirely foreign to scripture), has no place in tradition and seems to have been invented only recently in the last few decades. Maybe that’s why you never heard it discussed that way in a 2,000 year old Church.

Regardless of the words used, the concept has always been in the bible. Abraham and David were described as friends of God. A friend is more than just someone who obeys. A friend has a personal relationship. God desires us to be in personal communion with Him. This personal aspect was totally missing in Catholicism as I experienced it.

That is not to say that no others may have experienced it. Their mileage may vary.

35 posted on 08/02/2010 12:11:28 PM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: markomalley
legitimate evangelical scholars? Or were they squishy people who you are better rid of in the first place?

Being a "legitimate scholar" does not exclude an individual from being a "squishy person" whose departure does not surprise. Witness Richard Neuhaus.

What is an "evangelical"? Who isn't one?

36 posted on 08/02/2010 12:35:57 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: markomalley
That's the reason I'm asking the question. I see the claim made and, frankly, if both sides' claims were factual, I would imagine that 100% of Catholics would belong to something else within 10 years and 100% of non-Catholics would be Catholic within 10 years. So I was asking for actual reports from the ground rather than relying upon a magazine article.

Church attendance and membership numbers are as squishy as gun crime numbers from the Brady Campaign.

37 posted on 08/02/2010 12:42:12 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: John O

You wrote:

“Regardless of the words used, the concept has always been in the bible. Abraham and David were described as friends of God. A friend is more than just someone who obeys. A friend has a personal relationship. God desires us to be in personal communion with Him. This personal aspect was totally missing in Catholicism as I experienced it. That is not to say that no others may have experienced it. Their mileage may vary.”

I think it must. Old catechisms used to say:

“Q. How does the Sacrament of Penance remit sin, and restore to the soul the friendship of God ?”

Friendship with God.

and another:

“Surely then a very special grace, or gift, of God is necessary for us, in order that we may continue, persevere, faithfully in God’s friendship until the end.”

It wasn’t as if the idea was out there.


38 posted on 08/02/2010 12:42:12 PM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
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To: mdmathis6
evangelical and fundamentalists together under the broad term of Protestant.

The use of the term "evangelical" has changed over time. It was once a synonym for Protestant. The modern use and modern distinction from "fundamentalist" is a 20th century American thing.

See Darryl Hart, Deconstructing Evangelicalism.

39 posted on 08/02/2010 12:52:23 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("You fool! Don't you know every Taurus purchased brings us closer to TEOTWAWKI?")
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To: CynicalBear; vladimir998
I wouldn’t be good enough for any of the religions in existence today.

I think that's the point. If any of us were "good enough," we wouldn't need a savior, would we? I don't know about you all, but that's what's taught by the Church.

When somebody talks about "good enough," though...I hearken back to the words of St. Paul:

2 Cor 12:9 And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for you: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful.

40 posted on 08/02/2010 12:53:57 PM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: markomalley
I'm honestly not sure where I'd place groups like the "emergent churches" or even the Warren / Osteen style megachurches.

"emergent" == recrudescent protestant social gospel liberalism. hook, line & sinker. Most likely of the three groups to take issue with the Nicene Creed (always a bad sign).

Osteen == "Word Faith Lite"

Warren == pragmatism. Don't step in the "leadership".

It doesn't look like there'd be much interaction between these. Scary, but there is.

I may see these more clearly for being closer to them. If the distinctions don't make sense, ask, and I'll try to clarify.

41 posted on 08/02/2010 1:19:57 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("You fool! Don't you know every Taurus purchased brings us closer to TEOTWAWKI?")
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To: vladimir998
Probably because that terminology was never used by Christians until a handful of years ago. ... The way evangelicals speak about “Having a personal relationship with Christ” has nothing to do with the Bible (the terminology is entirely foreign to scripture), has no place in tradition and seems to have been invented only recently in the last few decades.

That's one reason I try not to talk that way. Everybody has a "personal relationship with Jesus". For some He's saviour. For others, judge.

Better to talk of repentance and faith, of the dying of the old self dying and the coming to life of the new. Work on faith as knowledge, assent and trust.

42 posted on 08/02/2010 1:31:13 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("You fool! Don't you know every Taurus purchased brings us closer to TEOTWAWKI?")
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To: Lee N. Field; Alex Murphy
I may see these more clearly for being closer to them. If the distinctions don't make sense, ask, and I'll try to clarify.

Well, you might want to ping Alex to those fine comments. He is the one who built the above taxonomy, not me. As a Catholic who has not studied comparative religions all that much, I am uniquely unqualified to build a taxonomy of the various denominations that exist in the non-Catholic / non-Orthodox sphere.

Having said that, I will be happy to bookmark and use whatever you all come up with.

43 posted on 08/02/2010 1:35:23 PM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: Lee N. Field; vladimir998
Better to talk of repentance and faith, of the dying of the old self dying and the coming to life of the new. Work on faith as knowledge, assent and trust.

Some very good, orthodox Catholic thought in the above sentence...IMHO. You ever read any Teresa of Avila?

44 posted on 08/02/2010 1:37:10 PM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: Lee N. Field

For once you and I agree entirely.

Oh, hell just froze over!


45 posted on 08/02/2010 1:39:35 PM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
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To: markomalley
Some very good, orthodox Catholic thought in the above sentence.

Interesting.

You ever read any Teresa of Avila?
No. Have you ever read the Heidelberg Catechism? Lately I've been reading it devotionally, to shape and inform the soul. Astonishingly carefully crafted and pastoral.
46 posted on 08/02/2010 1:54:28 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("What is your only comfort, in life and death?" "That I an not my own, but belong, body and soul...")
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To: Jim Noble; Reo
Can either of you identify with this?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Progression of a Convert


Some of you may remember that old poster from the 1970's of some guy on a drug trip (no, this was NOT in my room - it was in a friend's room), where it showed his progression from "normal" to "wasted". For some reason that popped in my head the other day.

Since my return to the Faith in 1998, I've gone through all of the stages shown here, and would guess many others have also. Things are better than they were 12 years ago, to be sure, but sometimes panel # 6 still applies.

47 posted on 08/02/2010 2:09:24 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM ("Oh bother," said Pooh, as he chambered another round...)
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To: markomalley
And that is sort of a funny thing. Were you, before you left, aware that there are indulgences offered for daily Scripture reading and meditation on the Scriptures? .......How can they possibly have a true understanding of their own faith without cracking open that book?

I went to a Catholic school till 9th grade. Was an active member of my church (Altar boy, CCD etc). went to a Catholic University and attended mass there (at least sometimes) and never once did anyone even suggest reading the bible. Not once.

I didn't even realize what the bible was until my fiance gave me one.

48 posted on 08/02/2010 2:14:26 PM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: markomalley
I am uniquely unqualified to build a taxonomy of the various denominations that exist in the non-Catholic / non-Orthodox sphere.

As I am poorly qualified to put a scalpel of classification to your world. I know, by watching the conversations here if nothing else, you-all have your liberals, you traditionalists, your syncretists in the back woods of Central America, your nutters of various stripes, your purveyors of liturgical novelties and dire music.

Just like us. And, just like us, I realize that what's true of the Roman Catholic oddballs isn't necessarily true of you, and doesn't get to the heart of the differences.

49 posted on 08/02/2010 2:20:27 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("What is your only comfort, in life and death?" "That I an not my own, but belong, body and soul...")
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To: John O
I went to a Catholic school till 9th grade. Was an active member of my church (Altar boy, CCD etc). went to a Catholic University and attended mass there (at least sometimes) and never once did anyone even suggest reading the bible. Not once.

Well, fortunately, that much at least has changed a bit. My daughter's Catholic school required the kids to have a Bible since the 4th grade. Sacred Scripture was one of her HS classes (religion in all 4 years, but one of those years was specially dedicated toward study of the Bible).

What you tell me with your "Catholic" university doesn't shock me in the least bit. In fact, you will find folks agreeing with you on the dismal state of many of those schools (did you ever hear of the Land of Lakes agreement back in the 60s? It was a decision to divest ownership of virtually all universities owned by religious orders and turn over that ownership to private nonprofits, investing control in boards of trustees who were majority laity. That decision absolutely decimated the majority of Catholic universities in the 60s and 70s)

So what you're saying is no surprise to me. It distresses me...but not the first time I've heard it and, unfortunately, won't be the last time.

BTW, on the subject of indulgences for Sacred Scripture, here is the text of the 1968 Enchiridion Indulgentiarum:

50. Reading of Sacred Scripture (Sacrae Scripturae lectio)

A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who with the veneration due the divine word make a spiritual reading from Sacred Scripture.

A plenary indulgence is granted, if this reading is continued for at least one half an hour.

And from the current (2002) one:

30 
Sacrae Scripturae lectio 

§ 1.59 Plenaria indulgentia conceditur christifideli qui Sacram Scripturam, iuxta textum a competenti auctoritate adprobatum, cum veneratione divino eloquio debita et ad modum lectionis spiritalis, per dimidiam saltem horam legerit; si per minus tempus id egerit indulgentia erit partialis. 

§ 2. Quod si rationabili de causa quis legere non valeat, indulgentia, plenaria vel partialis prout supra, conceditur, si textus ipse Sacrae Scripturae, vel alio legente vel ope instrumentorum, quae « video » vel « audio » vocantur, percipitur.

(Sorry, but the English language version of that text is available hard copy only)

50 posted on 08/02/2010 3:22:26 PM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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