The liberal attack on converts who are concerned about the Church continue. Lately liberal paplatrous gnostic Austen Ivereigh, once editor of The Bitter Pill in the UK, jumped aboard the band-wagon launched by Michael Sean Winters of the Fishwrap. (HERE) Liberal historian Massimo Faggioli is also full of beans regarding converts. Their underlying notion is that converts don’t have the same right in the Church as “cradle Catholics” to voice their concerns. These elitists see converts as second class.
Ivereigh, by the way, is billed as an “editor” at Crux, so his postings express something of the editorial stance of Crux. Ivereigh attacked converts (who disagree with him, official interpreter of the Holy Spirit) as “neurotic”.
Canonist Ed Peters responded (HERE) to the dreadful essay posted by Ivereigh at Crux (to their shame -and to the shame of the KCs who pay for Crux).
Let’s see what the always level-headed Peters has to say.
Come over here and say that
Austen Ivereigh, in one of the most embarrassing essays Crux has ever run, recently smeared seven talented Catholic commentators as suffering from ‘convert neurosis’. Not once in passing, but repeatedly, Ivereigh uses ‘neurosis’ and ‘neurotic’ in regard to some seven writers, Ross Douthat, Daniel Hitchens, Carl Olson, Edward Pentin, Rusty Reno, Matthew Schmitz, and John-Henry Westen. Ivereigh even offers a primer on what “neurosis” means, suggesting a war-scarred woman’s throwing herself to the ground when later stopped by a policeman as, one supposes, an example of how ‘convert neurotics’, supposedly being persons given to extreme reactions to un-realities in the Church, might behave.
While an expert in psychology can tell us whether any of these men are, in fact, “neurotic”, and an expert in morals can tell us whether Ivereigh’s employing and Crux’s circulating of such labels against brothers in the Lord meets any standard of decency in Christian discourse, Ivereigh’s constant referral to these Catholics as “converts” draws my attention.
Ivereigh’s description of several figures (Douthat and Reno as former Episcopalians, Olson as a former Protestant fundamentalist, and Hitchens and Pentin as former Anglicans) plus what I gather about Westen (a once fallen-away Catholic who went through an atheistic period) and Schmitz (who talks respectfully about his days as a Protestant), suggests that not one of them, not one, would, under American catechetical criteria, qualify as “converts” at all—let alone as neurotic ones.
According to the (US) National Statutes for the Catechumenate (November, 1986) no. 2 (my emphasis), “the term ‘convert’ should be reserved strictly for those converted from unbelief to Christian belief and never used of those baptized Christians who are received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.” Number 3 reiterates that this “holds true even … [for] baptized Catholic Christians … whose Christian initiation has not been completed by confirmation and Eucharist” (Westen) and [for] “baptized Christians who have been members of another Church or ecclesial community and seek to be received into the full Communion of the Catholic Church” (the other six authors). [So, when an unbaptized person enters the Church through baptism and the other sacraments, that person is a convert. When someone baptized in the, say, Lutheran church enters, technically he is not a convert, because he is already validly baptized.]
Now perhaps the circles Ivereigh runs in ‘over there’ do not bother with this important distinction among persons entering into full communion, and I grant that some Catholics ‘over here’ might still show ecclesial insensitivity by referring to separated Christians coming into full communion as “converts”, i.e., as if they had not been baptized. But, as most of the men Ivereigh chastises are Americans, and as the American bishops are trying to get American Catholics to think more accurately about these things, I thought Ivereigh’s outdated and inaccurate use of the word “convert”—to say nothing of his abuse of the tragedy that is “neurosis”—worth noting.
Peters raises a good point. That said, in common parlance we use the word “convert” for a larger range of people.
I see that Fr. Longenecker has weighed in. HERE “Stop bashing converts….”