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James Gregory


I started out as an Atheist and was converted to Jesus Christ through Protestant Evangelicalism. Eventually I was converted to Catholicism after a search for the “One True Church”. After being subjected to closed communion because it was discovered by the local Priest that I believe in the real presence as a connection, rather than Transubstantiation, I eventually began to see that the Church associated with Rome is really nothing more than another denomination of Christianity. Nevertheless, I preferred the Catholic Liturgy to Protestant “Worship Services” that are actually “Sermon Services”. I retained the conservative morality so I couldn’t attend the “open communion” Churches that are obviously and openly in league with the gay and Planned Parenthood communities. The practice of closed communion interdenominationally is related to doctrinal disagreement. Paul speaks clearly to this issue in 1Corinthians and Ephesians. Grow in the knowledge of God, ie in a doctrinal sense, and be one as the Body of Christ. There were no denominations then as there are today. There were only divisions within single local ekklesia. Denominationalism in its present form is an extreme that is the ultimate negative conclusion of the division that Paul wrote against. To make a long story short, rather than revert to Atheism, I became a Cafeteria Catholic who must be very discrete doctrinally speaking when around Catholics. The self-centeredness of the Catholic denomination, a common trait among the conservative denominations, hinders my participation in the community in any other way than to participate in the Mass. But being a Cafeteria Catholic has at least kept me from reverting to Atheism, the only other choice open to me.

James G

Michael Perry

When I was a senior in high school (1963-64), with a boost from my maternal grandfather, who was a convert to Catholicism and, with his wife, a daily Mass-goer, I gave a speech to the local chapter (Louisville, KY) of the Knights of Columbus. In my speech, I quoted, with enthusiasm, a priest from Durban, South Africa, who said that it was more important to be a good Christian than a good Catholic (when the two came into conflict). This was about the time Vatican II was beginning. The bishop (archbishop?), an old man whose principal competence, it was said, was real estate deals, was present at the head table as I delivered the speech. The next week, the principal of my high school--a terrific high school, run by the Xaverian Brothers--let me know that the archbishop's office had called to register his eminence's displeasure with my use of the quotation. As I recall, the message from the principal was just this: Be discrete!

Steve Shiffrin

Michael, the book looks very interesting. One of the essays on the
humbling of the priesthood reminds me of a story told yesterday by
Father Robert Smith in his homily at Cornell. He told of an old priest
who had been ordained long before Vatican II. When he was ordained, he
thought of himself first as a priest, second, as a Christian, and third
as a human being. Many years later, after fully absorbing the message
of Vatican II, he characterized himself first as a human being, second
as a Christian, third as a priest.

Michael Perry


Speaking of the epithet "cafeteria Catholic", take a look at Fr. McBrien's column:

Richard McBrien - Essays in Theology
National Catholic Reporter
March 1, 2010

Reclaiming Catholicism

There is a new book out, titled Reclaiming Catholicism (Orbis Books). Perhaps the book will help younger Catholics to better understand and appreciate Catholicism's roots in the pre-Vatican II era, and older Catholics to recall the spiritual assets that contributed to their own religious formation.

The full column is available here: http://ncronline.org/node/17232


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