Monday, December 31, 2007

Mennonite to Catholic?

Back in 2006 an article came out in Christian Century describing the conversion of six Protestant theologians to Catholicism. It's an interesting article and well worth reading. I was most intrigued by the story of Gerald Schlabach. He was a Mennonite before his conversion. Here is my favorite part of the article:

Schlabach sees the Catholic Church as the best hope for a reunion of
"liberal" and "conservative," "protestant" and "catholic" visions of the
church: "Imagine a church . . . that could not sing without feeding the
poor, nor feed the poor without nourishment from the Eucharist, nor pass the
peace without living peaceably in the world, nor be peacemakers without
depending on prayer, nor pray without joining in robust song."

The Mennonites are one of the "Peace Churches" (along with the Quakers and the Brethren) and have historically been pacifists. Now, I'm not a pacifist, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm a pretty liberal guy. I've also had some involvement with peace groups in the past . So I was curious and "used the Google" and found that Schlabach has a website and sounds like an interesting guy. There is a page devoted to his conversion to Catholicism (you can view it here) and he has some interesting writings. Apparently I'm not the only left winger attracted to Catholicism.


Cassian said...

A better example of what you have in mind, in my opinion, would be Dorothy Day, who converted from hard core communism (not socialism) to Catholicism and is now being proposed for canonization. Her "liberal" politics never really changed, except for such issues as abortion. Then again, take someone like Mother Teresa. Her social/political views would be considered largely "liberal" by your standard (again, with exceptions for such things as abortion and euthanasia). As some commentators have noted, however, it's best to jettison the familiar liberal v. conservative distinction altogether when living and speaking as a Catholic.

I suggest reading the relevant sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on social teachings and comparing them to your leanings.

Cassian said...


MHL said...

Funny you mention Dorothy Day. I just finished reading The Long Loneliness a week or two ago. I enjoyed it a great deal. One of the great strengths of Catholicism, IMHO, is that it really transcends politics. Of course, Christianity should always transcend politics, but it's much easier for the Catholic Church than it is for Protestants.

I think the size and history of the Catholic Church helps in this regard. A lot of political movements and schools of thought have come and gone in 2000 years. It bothers me to see so many Protestant churches become almost wings of one US political party or the other. Even if they side with the party I like, it's not a position a Church should be in. The social justice part of the Catechism doesn't fit the platform of either party perfectly. And I think that's a good thing.

Cassian said...

I rarely agree with Father Andrew Greeley's views but I am sympathetic to his take on religion & politics (purportedly from a Catholic perspective) expressed in yesterday's edition of Chicago Sun Times:,CST-EDT-greel02.article