Soldier considering converting, but hesitant?

I’m a soldier, as well as a devoted student of history.

I’ve been feeling a need for something higher in my life, and I feel extremely drawn to the Catholic faith for a variety of reasons I won’t bother listing here.

I have a few qualms. I read the news daily, and what I see coming from the Vatican disturbs me somewhat. Particularly what seems to be a devoted interfaith outreach policy.

I don’t paint an entire people with one brush, but the pope seems either unwilling to throw his power behind the Christian victims of ISIS and arab governments in general, or is blind to the problem. He even invited muslim clerics to pray within the Vatican!

For those of you who don’t know, a muslim consecrates the ground he stands upon before he prays in the name of Allah. Without sounding overly dramatic, when I heard that, I thought of the millions of Christians killed by muslims throughout the years, and the hundreds of thousands of Christian soldiers who fought and suffered and died at Constantinople, at Vienna, at Lepanto, and all over the middle east and Europe to prevent muslims from gaining power in Rome. And then the pope just lets them walk right into St. Peter’s.

Is this still a faith that stands by and defends its values? I’m starting to feel like this is becoming yet another “feel-good” church that panders to the masses in exchange for converts. And I’m not sure if that’s something I’d want to be a part of.

First, thank you for your service to our country. My son is a United States Marine currently returning from a Middle East deployment.

Now, about your question… exactly what power to you think the Pope has at his disposal to combat ISIS? He has repeatedly condemned the brutalities committed against innocent Christians as well as innocent Muslim civilians. Modern Popes can’t call up armies and dispatch them to fight Muslims. The Church has done that before (Crusades, obviously), but it’s been a long time since Popes wielded such power.

when I heard that, I thought of the millions of Christians killed by muslims throughout the years,

By that same logic, you ought to be opposed to citizens of England, Germany, Japan, Italy, and many others from ever visiting the United States (or we should never visit those countries) because citizens of those countries killed many Americans.

By that same logic, people from the northern states should never have anything to do with people from southern states, because the Civil War killed more people than all other American wars combined.

I build precision 1/350 scale models of WW2 battleships. These are serious models - they cost about $150 and are more than two and a half feet long. The best models come from a Japanese company called MRC Tamiya. I am currently building a Tamiya kit of the battleship USS Missouri. Upon her deck there is now a plaque that marks the spot where Japan signed the unconditional surrender to the United States and eight other nations (I’ve stood over that plaque). The Missouri was Admiral Nimitz’s flag ship when our fleet sailed into Tokyo Bay - a symbol of American military superiority. And I bought a model of it from a Japanese company.

You misunderstand my meaning. I’m not expecting a 9th Crusade, I’m expecting something that isn’t letting muslim clerics into the heart of Christendom, while other faiths are barred from Mecca and proselytizing is punished by imprisonment or execution in every muslim-ruled country on earth.

And you’re talking about completely different scenarios. You’re talking about western nations who use logic, reason, and evolve with time. Islam has not fundamentally since 1258, and some would argue it’s devolved from that point. Europeans don’t make war on me, or call for my head.

What you say is true, but there are countries whose populations are predominately Muslim but protect religious freedom (such as Turkey, Indonesia, and Malaysia). We would like to see other predominately Muslim countries adopt similar freedoms. Perhaps maintaining a dialogue with people of those countries (not the ones that want to kill us) will further that cause. That’s how “Western-style” freedoms were introduced into the countries I named.

There are lots of Muslims that don’t want to kill us. Rejecting all Muslims because of the actions of some bad Muslims is the same as people rejecting the Catholic Church because there have been sinful Catholics. I tell them, “judge us by our Saints, not by our sinners.”

Has the Pope invited any ISIS leaders to the Vatican? Or has he invited people who oppose what ISIS stands for?

And you’re talking about completely different scenarios. You’re talking about western nations who use logic, reason, and evolve with time. Islam has not fundamentally changed since 1258

Catholicism has not fundamentally changed since 33 AD. Islam is practically brand-new compared to Catholicism. Predominately Catholic nations have evolved, as have predominately Muslim nations such as Turkey, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

The Church is daily involved in negotiations with Muslim countries over the freedom of the Church to practice in those countries. I would never criticize Church leaders for interaction with Muslims in an effort to encourage moderate Muslims. Preaching all out war with all Islam would not be at all profitable for Christians.

The Pope has publicly declared that the use of military force against ISIS is justified.

Why are you against the Pope or indeed any leaders talking to leaders of Muslim countries. How do you persuade the muslims who are not fanatics and terrorists to help if you don’t talk to them.
What is your solution?

Thanks for your service! I was a soldier for many years, and I agree with what you say. I disagree with the church or the Pope on various issues. Don’t let that stop you from joining the Church! Even priests have doubts at times.

What the Pope does with Muslims is number 9,657 on the list of things a Christian in Louisiana should be concerned about. The Church is either the voice of Christ or it isn’t. What any individual Pope does or says doesn’t change that.

If the Catholic Church is the instrument of salvation established by Christ for the salvation of souls then convert. Go to Mass, frequent the sacraments, learn to pray, study the Sacred Scriptures, give of your time and talent and become the best lover of Jesus you can be.

We all love the Pope and want what’s best for the Church but Catholics should really forget about the Pope for a few moments and worry about holiness in their own lives. Jesus won’t ask us about the Pope’s life when we stand in judgement. He will instead ask us about our own lives, about all the things we were given control over but did nothing about.


Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance, direction, strength, wisdom & fortitude to the Church. Praying for your intentions. Thank you for your Military service to your country.

Thanks to all of you who have protected us!

Eringobragh, I had the same problem! First, let me say that when I have a problem like this, I pray about it, and the wonderful thing about that is that God flips something in my mind, and I see it differently. Or He one way or another gets the truth to me! It is not something I ever would have believed would happen back when I was a practical atheist.

Second, I too couldn’t wrap my mind around all this friendliness and accepance of proponents of a religion which to me teaches them to do the worst of what the worst of them are doing. At the same time, I knew that the majority if Moslems weren’t interested in that aspect of Islam.

Then it came to me: if we are welcoming to thise whom we call moderate Moslems, and make sure they do not feel alienated by us, they will have a choice of two directions. If we push *all *Moslems away for the actions of a *few, *then the moderates will feel isolated.

So this friendliness, to me, is laying a foundation for a possible alliance, a closer sense of unity with us than with the radical, violent Moslems. Not only is this a good plan on the secular level, on th spiritual level some Moslems may begin to question a religion which really does have some awful stuff in it.

Welcome tk CAF, and I hope we will one day welcome you to the Catholic Church as well :slight_smile:

These are Great questions. I hope the Vatican sees this and addresses these issues that disturb the Faith and create doubts for so many of The Faithful.

I too had considered joining the RCC at one point. The reason I chose not to though did not have to do with the Popes reaction to Islam. He is in a difficult place in that what ever he says will be upsetting to someone. The issues you seem to be concerned about appear to be more secular than theological and wouldn’t keeps me from joining.

Good luck with your decision.

Thank you so much for your service! And may God bless you and keep you safe while you are defending the rest of us (whether or not you’re in combat you’re still defending us).

It might help you to know that the Pope is not infallible in everything he does. We had at least one pope who was a heretic. However, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he did not ever teach heresy as pope. (don’t ask me which one, because I forget, but it was maybe 1000 years ago?)

The Church is not subject to the ideas of any one man, even the Pope. The teachings of the Church are what they are, even if nobody follows them (like when something like half the bishops were Arians).

However, in this case, I tend to agree with St Francis (the CAF poster, not the saint :slight_smile: ) that if we push away all muslims, we make it harder for them to do the right thing and denounce the violence. If we set up the situation to where people feel like they have to denounce their own religion to denounce the terrorists, we are making it harder for them not to sin. (We are also shooting ourselves in the foot.)

The comforting thing is Matthew 16:18: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” It doesn’t say that bad things won’t happen, but that the Church will not fail. Even if the Pope were wrong about what he is doing or saying, the Church would remain, in her teachings and in the hearts of the faithful, true to Christ.

There are apparently a lot of reasons people join the Church. For me, the reason I returned was because I came to realize that her teachings are true. The teachings didn’t change in 1968 when everyone was sure the Church was going to allow birth control (which didn’t happen) and they didn’t change last year when everyone thought the Church was going to go soft on divorce.

So, fear not!

I hope that God guides you to join the Church,


If you have doubts about Catholic doctrine related to Islam and other non-Catholic religions then you need to pray about that and ask a good, orthodox priest plenty of clarifying questions.

But if the problem is Vatican foreign policy, please. Not everything the Vatican touches is gold, man.

Hi eringobragh82,

Jesus did say love thy neighbor, and it starts with talking to him or playing golf with him. It breaks bad feelings down and the good in each other begins to show. And that is where it starts…goodwill and understanding one another. A little light is better than total darkness.

Besides, the Pope is a holy man with a generous smile and a deep love. Goodness has a way of rubbing off on others. Goodness is never refused. He isn’t just doing this for us, but for them as well. He is the Shepherd of all and cares for them too.

May the Good Shepherd fill you with peace.

Let’s be honest–much of contemporary Catholicism is indeed typical, smarmy, feel-good, marshmallowey therapeutic deism. Many laity and priests and even bishops are adherents of it. But so what? The Church doesn’t see herself as one church among many. She is simply the Church. She is all that there is. One. Holy. Catholic. Apostolic. Within the Church there are sinners, corrupters, those who prostitute the faith for worldly approval. And then there are saints who persevere in holiness and faith, who overcome the sin and corruption and find the gift of Heaven on the other side of this veil of tears.

The head of the Church is Jesus Christ–not the pope, the bishops, the priest, and certainly not you or me. The Church is therefore ultimately incorruptible, even if you see a little or even a lot of corruption around you.

Indeed, the church will protect its image and do what is politically popular. I have seen it happen many times and have often been disappointed by it.

But they are balancing two negatives sometimes - no good answers.

Perhaps by embracing the Muslim clerics, the Pope gains more credibility when he demands that Islamic nations treat Christians with equal respect.

Perhaps the church needs your talents to help her navigate these waters.

Well, you did avoid the “moralistic” part, but does much of contemporary Catholicism really claim that God is unrevealed and unknowable? Christian Smith’s slogan was a gross abuse of well-established terminology.

Make interfaith dialogue conditional on the amnesty of persecuted Christians held in muslim lands. The Pope, or any other Christian, can’t even enter the city holding the holiest site in Islam, much less the shrine itself, yet they think they’ve got a license to march into St. Peter’s? If the Islamic Clergy want to take nice pictures for the press that make them look tolerant, they should have to earn it.

In fairness, the service was on Vatican grounds and not St. Peter’s itself.

I tend to agree with you on a variety of issues, both from a historical point of view as well as a diplomatic one, but the personal diplomatic prerogatives of one Papacy doesn’t really dissuade me from my cornerstone of faith in Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church.

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