I have been coming to this board for some time, but just signed up earlier tonight for the forums. I will be posting a “hello” introduction in the “Meet and Greet” thread later this evening.
One of the things that I truly find fascinating in regards to this board is the open dialogue that we share with separated brothers and sisters in the faith as well as non-Christians. I think it speaks volumes for our faith that we are accepting of their questions, comments, and general statements on their faith even if we greatly disagree with them. If I were to join a Jewish / Muslim / Hindu web site forum and profess my faith of Catholicism, I would probably be banned for expressing my faith and thoughts. The same goes for most Protestant web sites where I would probably be violently attacked for believing in my Catholic faith. What I have witnessed here is that we are accepting of people from any faith as long as they are not crude or disrespectful. With confidence in our One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, we can share our faith as well as being welcoming of others.
As a southern American (where we are less than 10% of the population), I am often assailed by the misguided questions of Protestants / Mormoms / non-denominational Christians who ask “Why do ya’ll pray to Mary and worship saints?” etc. etc. I am always more than willing to give my time in answering their questions. In a day and age when it is popular to be anti-Catholic (if you have any doubt of this growing anti-Catholicism in America, read most articles the “New York Times” writes), it is good to see that we are still welcoming to those who want to learn from us, with us, through our actions.
I will always remember with the greatest appreciation being the “know it all” Baptist at the age of 19 who really started reading everything I could get my hands on about God and faith – from Tillich to Niebuhr to Rahner to Gutierrez to Ratzinger. The more I learned about God, faith, myself, the more I realized that (to quote Scott Hahn), Rome really was sweet home. I started attending a local Catholic parish that the wonderful Paulist Fathers (CSP) happened to run, and never for a moment before starting into the RCIA program in 2000 at God’s calling to me was I ever treated by the priests or parishoners as “one of those non-Catholics”. I was welcomed warmly and openly – and given a wonderful introductory education that just began with my RCIA days.
I understand many have the misconception of Catholics as being closed to the thoughts and ideas of our separated brothers and sisters in Christ and non-Christians, but from my personal perspective, and through all I have witnessed in my 8 years as being a Catholic, we are some of the most open and welcoming of any faith in regards to Christ.