What Catholic Tradition Means to a Protestant

Facebook is making me a bit ill these days. And I’m not sure who to blame. Pope Francis? The media? Ordinary Catholics squabbling over what the pope really did say or didn’t say, lecturing other Catholics about why they should or should not be in love with the pope, and accusing bishops and priests whom they don’t know of any number of sins, from clericalism and worldliness to suspected financial malfeasance.

Really, I can’t stand much more. At this point, I’d trade the whole lot of postings for one stupid kitten shot. And I hate cats.

imgres-2Anyhow, in the midst of avoiding my newsfeed and working on a fun project for Catholic Vote (that’s going to result in light blogging for the next couple months), I came across an old commentary by radio legend Paul Harvey.

It’s called, “What Catholic Tradition Means to a Protestant.” He first read it in his radio broadcast, during the heady days of the Second Vatican Council. I’m reposting it here, in its entirety, without comment, because I found it interesting…and relevant…and, well, sobering.

What Catholic Tradition Means to a Protestant, by Paul Harvey

This is none of my business, yet I am unexplainably compelled to address myself to a most sensitive subject however many or few read it, heed it, or resent it.

The Roman Catholic Church, from the outside, has symbolized authority since my earliest recollections.

Great institutions might erode away, towering individuals reveal feet of clay, nations be reduced to ashes or decay—yet the steeple with the cross on top remained, timeless and unchanging.

Why I did not abandon the faith of my fathers and ask adoption into the Catholic family which I so much admired, I cannon explain. Momentum, perhaps. Most often we keep going in the direction we are pushed.

The strict discipline implied by Catholicism certainly was not a deterrent, for I had been much disturbed and distracted by the almost constant intramural harangue among undisciplined Christians. Indeed, the rigidity of Catholic doctrine and tradition were comforting, reassuring evidences of a hierarchy which affirmed, ‘This is right…’ in an hour where so few seem to know what is.

Then came the recent sessions of the Ecumenical Council and the perhaps over-emphasized differences between ‘progressives’ and ‘conservatives’ within the Church. And when these differences reached such a crescendo that the third session ended with His Holiness, Pope Paul, in tears, my unscholarly and largely emotional reliance on the invulnerability of the Church retreated.

True, there are sometimes shouted disagreements among the children of any family, but we don’t open the windows at such times.

And when long-standing texts of the Bible are called into open question and when the priesthood is expanded to include quasi-lay clergy and when sisters of some orders shorten their skirts up to their knees, the world appears to wobble on its axis.

In secular affairs we are being urged to tolerate, accommodate, and compromise. In personal relations, absolutes are passé, international relationships are governed by expediency.

In this climate of vacillation I shall pray in my protestant way that the Roman Catholic Church will emerge, when the smoke has cleared and the tears are dry, substantially unaltered.

I reread my own words here and am embarrassed by them; by the presumptiousness of one who needs others to live as he has been, himself, unwilling to live.

Yet each of us whose reach exceeds his grasp must similarly rely on the soldier.

And the lighthouse keeper.




Categories:Church News Culture Uncategorized

  • fredx2

    A truly magnificent statement by Payl Harvey. The Pope may be the leader of the Catholic church, but he is Pope of the world. He leads far more people by his example than we realize. How many divisions has the Pope?

  • http://CatholicRegister Heandi

    Ah…we get to turn the page, and hear the rest of the story. May God rest Paul Harvey soul, amen !!!

  • Bev

    Wow, I’m a 60 year old new Catholic, and identify with Mr. Harvey’ statement: “Why I did not abandon the faith of my fathers and ask adoption into the Catholic family which I so much admired, I cannot explain.” Only a miracle allowed me to convert. But I wonder if I had met a fervent practicing Catholic years ago if it wouldn’t have been easier and sooner. I think so.

  • anon

    This is my 2 cents worth. The Roman church has turned into a business. Hospitals ran by nuns, are now a non-profit profit hospitals with hospital administers salaries in the 6 digits; at least. Many Catholic Universities are better known today turning out 10’s of millions dollar athletes, than Catholic thinkers. Many Catholic parishes have more money coming in a year then many African dioceses. In the rush to fit in Catholics forgot what they were taught as children, and now their children’s grandchildren are no different than Protestants. What Liberal Protestants can teach the Roman Church is social activism is a secular exercise; because in essence the whole of the Protestant Church is secular; why; because they are not sacramental; this also means Protestant bible based churches. What Roman Catholic forgot is that Christian mystery, and mysticism as expressed in the holy Sacraments was given to us by Jesus Christ. This is lost to Catholic and western theologians because they love intellectuals and rational thinking Christians; In the US people raised as Catholics want to fit in. What Roman Catholics do not understand and you cannot serve two or three Gods, money, the intellect, and Jesus Christ. In the end western Christianity — you cannot bring Christ into your life, and heart by guilt, only with love.

  • http://google David Peters

    Emily, thank you for posting this. I also am not Catholic but truly appreciate the Catholic Church. What Mr. Harvey said is so true! I love Pope Francis and I pray God will protect him and that he will continue to be led by the Holy Spirit.
    God bless

  • Carolyn

    Wow…sobering indeed! I thank God for the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the faithful men and women over the years, through whom God is continually working to build the Kingdom on earth and save souls – both converts like mine and those born and baptized into the Catholic faith. May He strengthen and preserve us in all things, in all eras, and in all the earth!



Receive our updates via email.