Is it time to close the Ark? (Depravity is why we can’t evangelize, so let’s focus on seekers with beauty, encounter and family)

Once upon a time there was a Catholic lawyer who walked out of Mass one Sunday to find that a Baptist church had leafleted all the cars in the parish’s parking lot with a tract attacking the Eucharist. He decided to take matters into his own hands, made a tract of his own responding to those charges, and leafleted the Baptists in return. His leaflets were signed, “Catholic Answers.” The rest is history.

That was… 40 years ago.

Today, what would have happened had one of us done what Mr. Keating had done? Would the recipients of the tracts even bother to examine the claims therein? Or would they use the tracts as an excuse to go no further?

We have never had stronger apologetics.Yet we have never had a smaller audience. We’ve always heard it said that the problem is that “Catholics don’t evangelize” or that the problem is that we do evangelize but not in the right way.

After much reflection and soul-searching, I don’t agree.

Consider the Anglican Ordinariate. If that’s not an effective evangelization, I don’t know what is. A special sub-rite of the Church specifically for one group of Protestants, giving them everything they wanted. Although there have been success stories,, the actual number of Anglicans or others joining the Ordinariate is tiny.

I don’t think we are the problem.

I think society is the problem. We’ve all seen the numbers. People are calling it the baby bust or the sex drought (semi-explicit article). The reasons for it, as your can see in that article, is that the (sexually explicit) media is replacing marriage; something is going very wrong with our society’s interprersonal relationships. We are increasingly “bowling alone.”. Put it all together, as Archbishop Chaput did, and the inevitable conclusion is that we have reached a critical mass of broken families.

The archbishop specifically rules out winning our society back through debate. In my attempts to nevertheless do so (here at CAF and offline) I have found something disturbing. Protestants seem to always have a beef with Mary, and specifically, with her perpetual virginity. Look at this thread, and the sheer number of times the Protestants say the word “sex” (after a suggestion about unrepented sin, no less) and the casual attitude that they take towards their arguably blasphemous views of the Virgin.

Sexual depravity is the reason we can’t evangelize.


(Continued from first post)
Evangelicals may be pro-life (to their credit), but they almost universally accept contraception $& divorce. Increasingly, they are fading in numbers and in importance with the rise of the “nones.” The nones are that too, but often not pro-life.

What do we do?

1. No more paleontology.

The time for debating and dialogue with legacy Protestants (those with a legacy of anti-Catholicism) is over. Protestants are getting older and drifting into two camps: fundamentalists who will never listen to doctrine, and megachurchers who don’t care about doctrine. Just stop caring about legacy Protestantism; they’re like the Masons, irrelevant. Reach other Protestants as follows.

2. The way of beauty.

Specifically, the way of Mary. Bring back Mary. She is the personification of sexual purity and the proof that it is possible to be chaste in a hostile society. As Fr. Calloway said, Mary is the way we can catch souls. . The only way a strident atheist is ever going to open their heart is if they see beauty. A Corpus Christi or Rosary procession. A beautiful Marian painting. Reverent hymns. Matachines, ballet. A Tridentine Latin Mass. A visible social justice ministry to migrants, the poor, the elderly. A pro-life campaign outside an abortion clinic. (All of the above.) Give witness by the way of beauty. Instead of debating, wear a Miraculous Medal and let Mary decide who the audience will be.

(Diocese of Salford, UK)

3. Let seekers find their own way.

Take a Pope Francis-style approach of encounter. Through beauty, let the seekers be drawn back in. Use the above ministries in (2) to reach those who are broken and bring them to Christ.

(USCCB Justice for Immigrants)

4. In line with committing to the way of beauty—stop debating.

Debating inhibits seekers. If the legacy Protestants aren’t going to listen there’s no point to debate anymore. They have their Jesus, and He may not be the complete Christ, but they aren’t going to listen to our invitation for more of Him.

“Counterfeit Christs,” new book from Catholic Answers

5. Rebuild the Church from our families and immigrants and just forget about the non-seeker majority culture. It’s too far gone.

Mother Teresa said that if you want to save the world, go home and love your family.

Tough, I know. But I’m prepared to accept it. Let’s close the Ark, set sail, and cast the nets to save the seekers. What do you think?


Bon voyage!


I don’t suggest your overall argument is incorrect — it’s none of my business anyway — but the problem here is that the Ordinariate clearly did not give anything but a tiny number of Anglicans “everything they wanted”. It offered Anglicans the chance to join the Catholic Church while keeping a version of their existing liturgy. Evidently for most Anglicans there are many issues beyond their fondness for the words of Cranmer. Among these may be issues of theology, or ecclesiology, or moral teaching. Of course the powers of the Papacy remain a particularly prominent issue.


These are a lot of fairly different statements with not much to back them up.
Furthermore, I don’t see where apologetics is in any way in conflict with “the way of beauty.” If anything, apologetics is the way we reassure people that our “way of beauty” is actually Christianity in its highest form and not idol worship with Christian trappings.

All of our beauty needs an intelligent and correct explanation, not just to outside seekers but to those in the Church who are continuing the lifetime work of their own catechesis, not to mention being subjected to misinformation on a constant basis.

Apologetics without works of love of God and neighbor are going to ring hollow, but these other works with no explanation are going to sometimes misinform.

I think there are no souls for whom Our Lord does not thirst. We may have to seek for these in one way and these others over there is some other way and some third group in some third way still, but we forget about no one, for the command is to bring the Gospel to all who might have ears to hear it. We give up on no one except the ones who personally have made it clear they don’t want to hear at the moment. Those, we may commend to God and move on, but we don’t write off an entire group as somehow beneath our efforts.


Islam likely faces the exact same problems, but in different ways. Still appreciate your feedback though.


That’s exactly my point.

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I didn’t say, get rid of apologetics. I said, get rid of debate.



My presence on these forums, with a foot in the Tiber, is evidence that apologetics and debate matter. I wasn’t drawn to the Catholic Church by beauty alone; the Anglican Church has plenty of it. I’m here because Catholicism seems to have the better arguments.


By emboldening one part you imply that is the sole problem? I think you may be mistaken.

With whom?

Legacy Protestants and atheists who belong to the majority Western culture and are unreachable due to the depravity of said culture.
So not:

  • Other religions (e.g. Islam)
  • Non-Westerners (e.g. Eastern Europeans, Asians, Africans)
  • Immigrants to Western countries
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If we make no answer to the misinformation that is spread about our faith, we will have failed to defend it on behalf of people who are innocent of the truth. We cannot simply leave misunderstandings about the truth left unrepaired. That is not charitable.

We can leave behind repeating the same thing over and over to someone who rejects it, though. The Lord was very clear about that, yes. I don’t see that as a blanket policy of not “debating with Protestants,” though.

The story of Jonah and Nineveh shows the Lord’s attitude towards those who “don’t know their right hand from their left.” Our God is a merciful God. Instructing the ignorant is a spiritual work of mercy. Just because we may have talked to many Protestants doesn’t mean we have talked to the one in front of us right now. They aren’t in a mind collective, like the Borg, lol.


But you’re a seeker. You didn’t become a seeker because a Catholic won a debate against you. You are finding your way at your own pace and at your own direction. And if I started debating you, we may even lose you.

Now if you became a seeker by watching a Catholic win a debate against someone else… I’d be really interested in hearing what won you over, the do’s and don’ts.


Right, but there is a big difference between a seeker and a Borg drone. Debating a legacy Protestant is like shooting a Borg drone. They keep changing their shield modulation (the subject) and it never ends.

You can instruct the ignorant through other media besides debate.

Not far off. Listening to a Catholic make an excellent response to sola scriptura, actually. Outside a formal debate, but a form of debate nonetheless.

First piece of advice: don’t assume that Protestants are acting in bad faith or that your interlocutor is ignorant or blinkered, as you did in the KJV thread.

Second piece of advice: show some actual concern for Protestants. Saying that Catholics should just abandon old Protestants and talking about us as if we’re simply muleheaded doesn’t help.

Third piece of advice: recognize that Protestants love God no less than you. Being wrong is not the same thing as having a shallow faith.

Be nicer, in short…


You’re exactly the person I was thinking of in the above post in terms of being turned off by debate.

So there it is. Stop debate.

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By debate, do you mean formal debate where two people each agree to argue a particular side of a question, with an audience watching?

Or do you mean discussion such as these forums or call-in radio shows?

I think having a forum for discussion and informal debate is important for those wrestling with some of the theological arguments for the Catholic faith. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but some need to be able to talk through their doubts or thought processes and so forth.

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I’d better define legacy Protestant. It does not mean “old Protestant.” It means Protestants with a legacy of anti-Catholicism.

You are not the T-Rex in the Jurassic Park logo because you aren’t saying the stuff he does.

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