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

52 thoughts on “What Catholic Tradition Means to a Protestant

  1. Janet O'Connor says:

    What happened in the Church after the Council was NOT the fault of Paul, JPII or Benedict. The theological advisors were the ones who had the ears of many Bishops and even the conflicting parts of many of the fourteen documents.

  2. St Donatus says:

    Even protestants could see the wreckage caused by modernists in the Church. Today the Church stands weakened and in western countries, decimated. With only 30% of Catholics attending weekly mass and 10% actually believing all of Catholic teaching, it is very weak and battle scared.

    I have even heard many Catholics describe those who believe all of Catholic teaching as ‘Fanatics’. I guess I am a black and white kind of guy. Either the God teaches us the truth, or he doesn’t. If believing what God tells is fanatical, I am a fanatic.

    God Bless you for this article. It helps me to realize how important standing up for truth and being a beacon of that truth is for our day.

    1. Michael says:

      You nailed it! I think this speaks to a lot of fanatics. : ) “If believing what God tells is fanatical, I am a fanatic.
      God Bless you for this article. It helps me to realize how important standing up for truth and being a beacon of that truth is for our day.”

  3. [...] What Catholic Tradition Means to a Protestant – Emily Stimpson [...]

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I am most moved by his own spiritual vulnerability. I pray that all Catholics can be so open to learning from other Christians how to better love and serve Christ.

  5. Toughcritic says:

    I have long been an admirer of the late Paul Harvey. He was the essence of truth and integrity in the news field, sadly lacking in the majority of media types today. As a Catholic I am pleased to hear of Mr. Harvey’s views of the Catholic Church. I have never heard these commentaries by him before, but I am really not surprised. It is true, the Church is under siege from forces outside and inside, but, it has always been the case through the centuries. The Papacy has lead in the most turbulent times and still it stands strong. Christ predicted that nothing would prevail against it. I only hope that Pope Francis will have the knowledge, charisma and strength to stand strong as did the Pope John Paul The Great and Pope Bneedict.

  6. Jack Mason says:

    Cats are very independent creatures. They cuddle one moment and scratch you the next. In that sense, they do seem to be unpredictable.. However, you can trust them to be independent and unpredictable. Just like the guy I know who lies all the time. I trust him to be a liar.

    1. Slats says:

      That’s why I’m solidly a dog person (allergies aside). Cat behavior often seems to undermine the very notion of why human beings have pets.

    2. Michael says:

      Hey I know that guy too.

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