Today I happened to step upon an anti-Catholic website, and I was curious to know what they believed. They said that the pope is a devil and had many such false interpretations of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
And I thought to myself, “These people are on a highway to hell, for they are slandering God’s church without even enquiring about the truth.” They had a “contact us” section and I really felt like going there and telling them the truth. But then I thought, “They’ll just not listen to me. What’s the use? They’ll reject me by calling me a son of the devil.”
Should I tell them the truth or just ignore them (for they won’t listen)?
In my experience, that kind of “truth-telling” is better reserved for real life rather than e-mail. A random e-mail from a random person telling them they are wrong (even if 100% true, brilliantly articulated, and utterly non-confrontational in tone) will either be deleted or else skimmed through in order to pick out the points that they already have canned answers to so that they can reply back to you and let you know that you are wrong and are on the road to hell. In either instance, it’s a waste of time.
Think of it this way. If the person feels so strongly about their anti-Catholicism that they actually start up a website (which requires frequent attention, maintenance, and forethought), they probably won’t be convinced to rethink their position through a simple e-mail.
In many cases, it can do more harm than good. Even if you do your best to be extremely diplomatic, when you are relying on a solely written medium to converse back-and-forth, something you say is going to be taken the wrong way, and it will bolster their anti-Catholicism to have one more example of a Catholic who is uncharitable or ignorant (even if, in reality, you are being neither). Keep in mind that their anti-Catholicism predisposes them to read your message in the most negative light possilbe. And without the benefit of knowing you personally, things can turn ugly very quickly.
Time would be better spent proclaiming the truth to the people you know and are friends with. Someone is much more likely to consider what you say seriously if they already like you.
As Joe said, so well, it’s “casting your pearls before swine” because they will not read what you write with an open mind. They see anything written by Catholic laity as a product of brainwashing and any documents of the Church as lying propaganda. They are utterly close-minded when it comes to the Church. To them the Church is of the devil/wrong because the Church disagrees with them. And that’s all they need as rationale to attack it. Illogical I know, but fear knows no logical, neither does bigotry.
Yes, you should. Maybe they will listen. Sometimes what they say may not be a result of a bad will, it may be just ignorance. It’s our duty to preach the truth and to pray for their conversion. God bless.
Scott Hahn in one of his tapes I listened to tells of when Gerry Matatics and some of his students went to a talk at a Baptist church by Alberto Rivera (of Chick tract fame). After the talk, Gerry held out his check book and offered to give the church and Alberto $1,000 dollars if Alberto could prove anything he said about the Catholic church from scripture.
The crowd there was outraged, and physically threw Gerry about 6 feet out the door, and then conducted an exorcism.
So this is kind of their mentality, if you want to be abused like Gerry, then by all means go for it.
I would agree that many anti-Catholics may simply be ill-informed rather than ill-willed. However, I would doubt that this applies to someone who is so anti-Catholic that they actually started their own website. If they have the desire and the follow-through to start up a website that explicitly attacks the Catholic Church, I would highly doubt that they would give any consideration to a Catholic’s e-mail except to try to convince the Catholic that they are misinformed.
Of course, if the OP wants to try it, I wouldn’t stand in his/her way. It just seems not to be the best use of time and talent. The only way I could envision it being successful is if the OP wants to dedicate a large amount of time establishing a back-and-forth written relationship with the person. One e-mail isn’t going to help.
As much as I’d like to think that just the right word of mine would make such people see the light–it almost never does. My heart aches for people who are so close-minded. Not because they are attacking the Church, per se, but because they are attacking the Church out of fear, envy, anger, ignorance. But, if we can’t get them to see sense, we can pray for them.
It doesn’t bother me overly much if a non-Catholic just can’t accept whatever I can tell them about the Church–there’s always hope a seed has been planted or someone else’s words will help them. But what does bother me is those who won’t even give the Church a hearing. That’s the truly sad part. As Fulton Sheen once said: “In America you will not find a hundred people who hate the Catholic Church, but you will find millions who hate what they think the Catholic Church is.”
If they prefer to remain in their ignorance we can’t do anything about it. Even Jesus couldn’t convince the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees, so how can we expect to do what even he couldn’t do?