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PostHeaderIcon When Ecumenism Becomes Hard


 Ecumenical dialogue has always been important to me, almost as important as learning Catholic apologetics is.

I want to know everything about my faith, as well as I can. But I also want to be able to use that information I know, to participate in ecumenical discussion with anyone I meet. The more I have learned, the more I have been able to explain and understand, and have done so over the years.

I remember my first attempt at ecumenism, four years ago now, was very unforeseen, forced even.

In fact, it was somewhat of a hostile environment for me. I had posted a tweet about how I felt that including girls as altar servers was important. This is an issue I feel strongly about, because becoming an altar server was crucial for my own faith development. Someone who identified themself as a “very traditional Catholic” replied to my tweet arguing against girl altar servers. I politely responded with a counter argument. This continued for a few more exchanges before I was told, “You are a very poor example of a Catholic. You should not be allowed to have a blog that influences other young Catholics to your progressive agenda. Shame on you!”

I decided to respond with a simple, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” And I left it at that. I hadn’t been saying anything more, than that I thought all girls should be given the chance to altar serve at some point in their lifetime, and I shared some of my own experiences as a girl altar server. They didn’t respond to that last tweet, and I was relieved.

But truth be told, that was only the beginning…and all hell almost quite literally broke loose after that.

Other traditional Catholics started tweeting at me saying a lot of the same things the first person had said. Then several Evangelicals jumped on my case. Some were Protestant, some were Pentecostal and there was also a Baptist. The funny thing was, they started bringing up topics unrelated to girl altar servers, talking instead about issues such as transubstantiation, saints, the Virgin Mary, and others…but it was far from civilized discussion. A Jewish man jumped in somewhere in the middle of this mess, but he left pretty quickly. I found it hard to keep up with all the accusations, but I did the best I could.

Eventually they’d tell me I was “going to burn in Hell for not giving all worship to God” (#Oh) and then they left, one by one. But not before a couple atheists and even a demon worshiper (Hell literally breaking loose) joined in the fun, telling me science held all the answers and that God didn’t exist, or that I was worshiping the wrong deity. At this time, I gave up. I blocked the remaining arguers, none of which were Christian by this point.

It was discouraging.

I had never been attacked for my beliefs like that before. I expected some misunderstandings from the other Christians, but this was crazy. Not only were all these people picking a fight with me, but they were all fighting with each other too. When I say fighting, I mean actually verbally fighting. All these Christian, God-loving people, throwing theological arguments at each with many insults…most of them petty but some of them real zingers. It was so ironic, but I could not find humor in it at the time.

I laugh about that experience now, especially since I was just a 15 year old who stated one opinion on Twitter.

Apparently a total of 18 full-grown adults decided that was enough to cause a full-scale war of absolute chaos on the internet, from behind their screens. But that event drove me to do more than just dabble in apologetics. I started pursuing the Truth. I read everything I could get my hands on, and checked supporting Scripture myself. I also asked questions, so many questions, of the people in my life who were very knowledgeable on and even schooled in theology. I wanted alllllll the answers.

Thankfully, all the ecumenical discussions I’ve had since then (especially when taking place in person, instead of on the internet,) has been more in the style of dialogue than an argument. Those are the kinds of efforts that I like to see…Christians clearing up the misunderstandings, connecting over the similarities, and realizing the true differences in a way that is non-combative.

I know for me though, ecumenism can also be very hard.

While most of the time, discussion is friendly, things can also get very emotional, heated even. It’s natural. Religion has been argued for as long as it has existed, and everyone wants to believe that God will be pleased with their efforts when Judgement day comes. I get it. And I’m ok with that.

What I’m not ok with, is the few times (admittedly, very few, but even still,) that I’ve had someone bash the Catholic Church, to my face during one on one discussion, while knowing that I myself, am indeed, a Roman Catholic and proud of it. This changes the discussion from ecumenical in spirit, to an attack.

I will defend my faith.

I will explain it inside and out, even upside-down. I will ask questions about your faith if it differs from mine. Expect me to use historical, theological, and logical facts to understand where you are coming from better, or to get you to see my side. But I will not, under any circumstance, ever attack your faith, or condemn you for believing what you believe. (Unless you are a demon worshiper or something along those lines. In fact, I hope I never meet one or have to talk to one.) I do this out of respect, and I expect the same in return.

Additionally, I will acknowledge the corruptness found within the Catholic Church, both in past and present. I do not make excuses for it, and it bothers me very much. But we as Catholics recognize that all those issues were caused by the sinful nature of man, getting in the way of the will of God. The Church has corrected and tried to heal every obstacle and challenge we have ever found ourselves in. And, 2,000 years later, we are still here, seeking after the heart of Christ Himself and trying to imitate Him.

But, corruptness doesn’t exist only within the Catholic Church.

It is found in every single other religion as well, and indeed in every aspect of life. So in ecumenical dialogue, I feel that the “corruptness of the Catholic Church”, or “the amount of people the Catholic Church has hurt” should not be used as an argument against it’s sanctity and validity. Because the truth is, the Catholic Church does more good for the world than any other organization. While we are not proud of our failures, we are very proud to be serving so many people, and following in the footsteps of Christ in this way.

I guess my whole point, is that I’m tired of feeling like I have to defend the Catholic Church, and the fact that I belong to it, from other Christians.

I hate conflict. And I try so hard to avoid it. So when an ecumenical discussion is going well, I am beyond thrilled. I love talking about my faith and learning about others. But when it doesn’t…it’s because it turned into an attack on the Church. Which means it turned into an attack on me.

Why? We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Why isn’t that fact alone, enough to unite us all? Why don’t we respect each other? While it is good and extremely important to acknowledge our differences, Christ never meant for us all to be divided from each other. So why can’t the Catholic Church get the respect it deserves, along with everybody else? And to my Catholic brethren who are so intent on converting people of other Christian denominations: do you really think that attacking them back is going to bring them to our faith, or make them respect us? No, it’s not. There needs to be more love and fellowship expressed to each other, all around.

Lastly, just because I feel the need to prove my own authenticity:

I will not apologize for what I believe in. Nor will I allow others to tell me that I am going to Hell for being Catholic. I will not turn my back on the Catholic Church for the times that human nature clashed with God’s will. I will not be told that I’m not a Christian, because I follow the Catholic faith. (Because I am Christian, and Catholics were the first Christians.) And if you ask me if I truly believe that the Catholic Church was really founded by Christ, or if it really contains the fullness of Truth…my answer will be a strong, unwavering, and immediate “yes.” It is extremely hard for me to understand how others don’t see the Church as containing that fullness of Truth that we all claim to seek, and it’s upsetting to me when they flat out reject it. It’s not easy to claim such a strong position, trust me. Sometimes you have to give up things (and even people,) that you *really, really* wanted to keep. But I’ve done the research. I have asked the questions. I found the answers, and the supporting Scripture.

The Catholic Church is my home, because I *chose* it to be. And I will never choose otherwise.


I would love for you to share your thoughts.

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