The book "Far From Rome, Near To God"

Has anyone read the book, Far From Rome, Near To God? I am in a discussion with a Protestant who gave me this book and thinks it is some kind of prooftext against the Catholic Faith. I dismissed it as garbage literature but he says I need to be honest and answer the claims in this book. I was wondering if anyone knows of any of these priests (50 who left their vocations) now - some do active work in evangelizing Catholics out of the Faith - but I’m wondering if any have returned to the Faith? One is Bart Brewer who Karl Keating discusses in Catholicism and Fundamentalism. Any help in debunking the wild allegations by some of these priests - one said that he was “afraid to leave” his order because a superior who didn’t like him would have him committed to a mental hospital. He goes on to say that there are “hundreds” of priests in “America, Ireland and other countries” who are in mental hospitals because they wanted to leave their orders. He says he finally snuck away at night. His name is Hugh Farrell - anyone know him? He used to be a discalced Carmelite in Colorado. I know it sounds wild but has anyone ever read or critiqued this crazy book before? Thanks!

As an evangelical, the threats of committing them to mental hospitals sounds pretty far-fetched. Not all of us are looking to believe tall tales like that.

I haven’t read it, but if someone is giving you a book to show that some people have left the Church, and somehow that is an argument against the Church, a simple counter would be to gather the conversion stories of a number of our own predominant converts. Hopefully, the person would read it and it would provide food for thought. At the very least, it simply shows that there are some really smart people who have reached the opposite conclusions.

Where I believe this is particularly helpful is that (I’m guessing a little bit here) most people in category one left a Church not necessarily for doctrinal reasons. (I’m sure some did) They left because they wanted to be a married Priest, or because they think the RCC has roots in paganism with some of its practices, whatever. But all the conversion stories to the RCC seem to boil down to the matter of doctrinal truth, and an understanding of Scripture.

In addition, many of the stories of people who leave the RCC will try to blaze a trail behind them, and attack the Church for this or that. This directly points to the fact that there is more to the story than simple doctrinal differences. Anyone who does this has had a negative experience that is clouding their judgment. By contrast, the majority of converts to the RCC speak glowingly of their previous faiths. This is more convincing, because it means they converted not because of something bad that happened in their other Church, but because of increased understanding of the Catholic Church. Anyone who converts from RCC, and then is bound and determined to take the Church down with them has other issues and should not be trusted.

I need to speak in terms of generalities because I haven’t read it, but hopefully this helps a little.

Here is a good site to see conversion stories of protestants. See if they will read some of these?

I not only read the book, I researched the stories to see if they were true. Some were, some weren’t, many were impossible to follow up because there was so little information given. I wrote about some of them at Examining Protestantism - - in the Propaganda forum.

At least one did return to the Faith, & possibly 2 others, but I wasn’t able to verify it to my satisfaction.

If you need info on any others in the book, feel free to email me.

Which one returned? I would really like to know - that would be a great thing to include in my critique of this book. I am giving this man a blow by blow as best I can of the best refutations that I can because only after I critique this particular book has he agreed to read any more Catholic material - he says he’s read about converts but claims for every convert to Catholicism, there’s scores who are leaving the Faith. When I said they probably didn’t understand the faith, he gave me this book and said “Can you say THESE men didn’t know their faith??” I also put forth that they probably wanted to be married, but he thinks that I am waving their stories away. Thanks for your help! (I tried to go to that link but my ISP has blocked it - I am trying to get it unblocked.)

The priest who returned to the Faith was Antoine Bailly of Toulouse, France. His story was not included in the 2nd version of Far from Rome.

[quote=KathieAnn] “Can you say THESE men didn’t know their faith??”

Maybe. Maybe not. Basing an argument for or against Catholicism based on what a bunch of unknown people did seems to me to be, at best, speculation. Why did they do it? Did they know the faith? What were the underlying factors? The truth of a position is not argued by a mere head-count. “Look, 50 priests became Protestants.” “Yeah, and?” Try telling him that John Henry converted to the faith this past Easter. See if that sways him. :slight_smile: It won’t because it’s irrelevant to the point at hand, which is Truth.

It is an honest critique to note the reasons why people originally left, and their current attitudes toward the Church. Feel free to critique other things as well, but if he dismisses such arguments, then he is “waving” your argument away.

[quote=Bonnie]The priest who returned to the Faith was Antoine Bailly of Toulouse, France. His story was not included in the 2nd version of Far from Rome.

“…his story was not included…”

Is that a surprise?:rolleyes:

I don’t take books from protestants anymore unless they first agree to read one of mine. This makes it an exchange of information and not a one-sided attack! If they won’t read my books why should I read theirs?:confused:

But, just so you know, I read those bigoted hate books whenever I have some free time. This lets me study my Faith better by proving those books wrong. It also prepares me for when I talk to them. Read their books as much as you can stomach lies and hate, but try never to agree to read one unless they agree to read one of yours. Why should you always be defending the Catholic Faith when Jesus founded it and not theirs? You may start by just seeing if they will read some short tracts or pamphlets to open them up to a true discussion. It is difficult for people to admit they were wrong so do not insult them and always remember to treat them with ‘love’ as Jesus said.:love:

Hi all, This book “Far From Rome, Near To God” is not a list of malcontents who have run from God. Actually, these are men, priests, who have been teaching the Word of God for many years – and, finally, could not continue to deny the Bible as the sole authority for salvation and Christian living. In other words, they could no longer deny that we are saved, by grace, through faith - alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And, even though the book contains testimonies from only 50 priests, the original unpublished manuscript contained 55 testimonies. I have a personal copy of that pre-publication manuscript. I can only presume they edited the number to keep the book more manageable. And, if they wanted, I am sure they could have found many more than 55 priests who have made this spiritual transition.

The editor of this book, Richard Bennett, born in Ireland, entered the Dominican Order in 1956, finished at the Angelicum University in Rome, Italy, in 1964. He spent twenty-one years as a Roman Catholic priest in Trinidad, West Indies. He was saved by God’s grace in 1986 and formally left the Roman Catholic Church and its priesthood. Presently settled in central Texas, he is director of the Berean Beacon.

Anthony Pezzotta, number 39 (page 266) in the book “Far From Rome, Near To God” is a personal friend – and he has been doing a wonderful ministry of sharing about his many years in the Roman Catholic church, including ten years as Director of Schools and Seminaries, as well as Rector of Local Salesian Communities, in Manila, Philippines.

Tony Pezzotta has also written an amazing book titled “Truth Encounter, Catholicism and the Holy Scripture.” I highly recommend this book to both my Protestant and Roman Catholic friends. This book is available through CB Southern California, PO Box 2279, Montclair, CA 91763-0779, Phone: 909.482.0728, by contacting CB Ministries at, or by going online at:

Another book I recommend is: * “The Truth Set Us Free, Twenty Former Nuns Tell Their Stories of God’s Amazing Grace”* edited by Richard Bennett. This is a compilation of testimonies of 20 Roman Catholic nuns who left Roman Catholicism.

One of the other posters on this discussion suggested that, if desired, someone in the Roman Catholic church could provide a book of testimonies for many thousands of Protestants who have transitioned from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism. Several years ago, a Roman Catholic friend in Southern California, took this approach and gave me a boot titled “Surprised By Truth” – the testimony of 11 Protestants who took that path into Roman Catholicism.

However, in this group of 11 converts – only a couple were actually clergy. And, these clergy came from very liberal Protestant denominations which are still closer to Catholicism than to the Protestant faith. All the rest were lay persons who switched. And, we have no way of knowing if they were strong in their Christian faith before jumping ship.

To all my new Friends on the Catholic Answers Forums, I pray this information is helpful to you. I am not here to bash Roman Catholics, nor to say that all Roman Catholics are not born-again Christians. Like my Friend, Anthony Pezzotta, I only want to help folks have a *“Truth Encounter With God.” *

Thank you for accepting me on the Catholic Answers Forums. God bless, Bill Gray

Interesting thread to make your first post on. Sounds to me like you’re trying to lead Catholics away from the Church Christ Himself established.

Yeah… Sola Sriptura and Sola Fide have been debunked. You’re so misguided.

Well, leaving an Order or the priesthood is not the same as leaving the Church. A lot of bad things do go on in some Orders- there is a lot of abuse of power. No doubt (especially in poorer countries) there a plenty of people who are scared to leave- often for economic reasons. I have known a few in these situations. But then, there are also a lot of people who stay in marriages for purely economic reasons.

But this doesn’t mean that the whole Church is rotten.

Somebody’s trying to do some “sheep-stealing.” Tell your friend that the whole USA is just chock-full of atheists and agnostics and they are his targets, not you. Turn him right around, aim him at the nearest mall and tell him to get busy. He’s not Catholic, but Protestant is better than nothing, and listen, we need all the help we can get.

Hi Bill,

Welcome to the forum. For an account of a fundamentalist/evangelical Christian like yourself there is a great book I suggest you read: Born Fundamentalist born again Catholic by David Currie.

Perhaps you would relate better, as he expresses confronting things from a similar background to you.

Hi Qoeleth,

While I cannot speak personally for all those who gave testimony in the book “Far From Rome, Near To God” – I don’t imagine their testimonies would have been included if they had not left Roman Catholicism. As for Richard Bennett, who edited the book, and Anthony Pezzotta whom I know personally – I know they left the Roman Catholic church.

Am I, or they, trolling for converts away from Roman Catholicism? No. I have family and friends who are still in that church and I do not try to lure them out. However, like Tony Pezzotta, I share the Truth of God’s Bible with them – and let them digest it as they will. I do this on all venues where I write.

My suggestion to all is: read the book and see if any of it rings true. Also, I would highly recommend Tony Pezzotta’s book* “Truth Encounter”* to everyone who has an open mind. To the person who has a closed mind, who would rather hide his/her head in the sand – and refuse to be exposed to Truth; all I can say is, *“God bless you. I pray you have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ – and not just a relationship with the Roman Catholic church.” * God bless, Bill

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