How about this? “Cradle Catholics should speak less, listen more.”

Michael Sean Winters, the Wile e. Coyote of the liberal catholic Left at the Fishwrap, and hyper-liberal Massimo “Beans” Faggiolo at Villanova, and the papalatrous gnostic Austen Ivereigh at Crux have incited a little war on converts recently.

According to them, converts are tiresome, they should shut up, they shouldn’t express opinions, etc.  Sure, they also say, “We like converts too! Aren’t they great?”  And we believe that, right?

Ivereigh sort of apologized at Crux. Sort of. Ivereigh’s contribution was so worrisome that Crux editor – and recipient of lots of money from the Knights of Columbus – John Allen issued a new “Prime Directive” of niceness. HERE  Spin, by any other name.

Now, however – again at Crux – I see yet another convert piece by David Mills.  Mills has not been associated with the catholic Left.  On the contrary.  However,  lately he wrote for Pathe…os, Aletheia.

David Mills is a convert.

What’s the title of Mill’s piece at Crux

Newcomers to the Church should speak less, listen more

It astonishes me that people keep going to back to this third rail and jumping up and down on it.

I think all these people grumbling about converts are concerned because of the more conservative positions held by many visible converts who are well-known for speaking and writing on Catholic issues.

Let’s turn the sock inside out.  How about this:

  • Cradle Catholics should learn something about their Faith.
  • Cradle Catholics should go to Confession before Communion.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop shacking up and get married.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop contracepting at same rate as non-Catholics.
  • Cradle Catholics should speak less, listen more.

I don’t have stats at my finger tips, but I’ll wager that the converts the libs want to silence are more faithful in these matters than most cradle Catholics.

Let me be clear:

I have sympathy for the position that converts need to be patient and to learn and.. yes… to listen.  And I agree that listening and learning are closely bound.  As a convert myself, I know that it can take a while… in the cases of some converts quite a while… to get acclimated, to get to the point where the Catholic “thing” is deep in the marrow.  I wrote recently on that.  HERE  I also used the image of “Catholic thing”.

A couple bits from Mills:

Theologian Massimo Faggioli and journalist Austen Ivereigh having taken some flack recently for their articles on Catholic converts; in effect, both seemed to be saying, “Converts, please stop talking.”
(Ivereigh later apologized for his use of the metaphor “neurotic” to describe his subjects in his Crux article.)
They meant the vocal, public converts, who are usually culturally as well as theologically conservative.

That’s probably the real problem.  Converts are often culturally as well as theologically conservative?

He also says:

In both cases [Marian elements], I had to live the Catholic life for a long time before I could really feel the truth of these things and understand them from the inside.

That is – ought to be – the experience of every Catholic.  It takes a whole life.

He concludes:

So as a convert, I would say: Converts, please stop talking so much; when you do speak, speak on the narrower subjects on which you can speak with authority; and trust those who have been inside the Thing longer and look to them as teachers and models, or at least challengers – even if their names are Faggioli and Ivereigh. Even Paul went into the desert for three years after his conversion, and he was a religious genius and a saint.

Sorry, but St. Paul is Saint Paul.  Also, Paul was not silent in the years between his conversion in 32 and when he would eventually confront Peter to his face, because Peter was wrong (Galatians 2:11).  Let’s review in Acts 9:18-22:

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and rising up, he was baptized. [Paul’s a convert.] And when he had taken meat, he was strengthened. And he was with the disciples that were at Damascus, for some days. And immediately he preached Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. And all that heard him, were astonished, and said: Is not this he who persecuted in Jerusalem those that called upon this name: and came hither for that intent, that he might carry them bound to the chief priests? But Saul increased much more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, affirming that this is the Christ.

And the next verse, that might not be in your Bibles…

And the disciples who were with Paul at Damascus began to grumble among themselves saying, “Who does Saul think he is? Should he not remain silent and listen? After all, he was just baptized a some days ago while we were baptized even more days ago.”  And they told Paul to shut up and listen, for they were tired of hearing Paul explain things.

After Damascus, Paul went to Arabia.  I’ll bet he didn’t say anything there.  Surely, he was just silent and listened.  No wait… it seems that he often had to flee here and there, probably because he was such a good listener.

QUAERITUR: How long, in their opinion, should converts to shut up?  Is there a set time?  Perhaps they will decide based on a quiz or an interview!  Are they the arbiters?  Once you pass my test, then you can pipe up.

Mr. Mills is a convert of some 15 years.  What about this?  “Sorry, Mr. Mills, that’s not long enough.  15 whole years? You should listen more.”

Who gets to decide?  I won’t pretend that I know, and I don’t think that David Mills should silence his pen just because he has only been in the Church for 15 years.  He has a lot to contribute.

Look, I don’t mean to pick on David Mills here.  He’s okay.

However, when we see that converts should shut up and sit in the back of the bus… no… just know.

Go to the back of the bus!  How DARE you sit up front!




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in CRUX WATCH, Liberals and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. LeeF says:

    I saw that “prime directive” piece by John Allen the other day. Funny that it has to do only with tone and not at all about fidelity to the teachings of the Church. Crux acts like having conservative Catholics supporting the Truth and liberals supporting anti-Truth is somehow balanced coverage.

    But the Truth needs no balance or counterpoint. That the Knights continue to support Crux and allow it unfettered editorial freedom to publish dissent from Church teachings, only shows how wishy-washy the vast middle in the pews are.

  2. donato2 says:

    What a farce. We should listen to cradle Catholics, really? What marks post Vatican II cradle Catholics as a class is really poor catechization. Cradle Catholics as a whole are so secularized that they are barely recognizable as Catholics. Cradle Catholicism has given us institutions like Georgetown University. The idea that cradle Catholics, simply by virtue of having been raised Catholic, have something to teach us is so detached from the current reality in the Church that I cannot help but believe that Mr. Mills, though apparently not a lefty sort, has for some reason decided to support some part of the liberal Catholic agenda.

  3. cengime says:

    We could all bear to speak less and listen more.

    Just how long should Mr Mills shut up?

    In The Life of Moses, St Gregory of Nyssa says Moses’ life of solitude in Midian is an example of how no one should presume to open his mouth to teach without first undergoing a long ascetic training.

    According to Acts 7:30, Moses was there for forty years.

  4. Hugh says:

    Mills, an ex-Anglican, may have a point … if only in his own case:

    Here’s his take on what “development of doctrine” should mean:

    it ” … includes a pope who might speak ambiguously and challenge the Church to explain and defend practices thought settled in their present form.”

    Really? This attraction to ambiguity and upsetting settled principles seems a lot like what Anglicans believe about doctrinal development. In those regards (plus the earnest insistence on “Christian principles” and “ideals” at the same time) there’s a lot of similarity between Amoris Laetitia and, say, the Anglican Bishops’ Lambeth Resolution of 1930 on contraception.

  5. Lurker 59 says:

    As a convert, I took a lot of flack getting into the Church and once in I took and continue to take flack from those inside already.

    Many things need to be said about this disdain and it really is disdain no matter how it is dressed up. But I shall limit myself to two things.

    1. Converts are immigrants and the one who grinds the immigrant underfoot is the one who falsely welcomes them intending to us their labor for their gain while keeping them in poverty and the shadows.

    2. Oh how the Pharisees disdained and cast dispersions on the Roman proselytes.

  6. TonyO says:

    I get a kick out of converts: their coming over to our side acts as a re-invigoration of my confidence in the Church. Sure, I will continue to hold to the Church no matter what, but it’s easier when such solid, good people are saying “yes, I see that now”.

    And their individual conversions stories are always interesting. No two are quite alike. God doesn’t repeat himself there.

    That said, they DO sometimes get it wrong. Like the ones who think “the bishop said it, so it must be accepted as true”. (Not too many of those around, but I have run into it.) They can be overly rigid at times, though in my experience it’s not all that often. (And cradle Catholics are sometimes overly rigid too.)

    Wouldn’t it be something of common sense for new-ish converts to speak out cautiously, tentatively, ready to take correction, and trying to “get” the details? Which, obviously, means a lot of listening, but in the right venue it ALSO means speaking up to see if they got it right.

  7. Fr. Reader says:

    Everybody should learn to speak less and listen more.

  8. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Fr. Reader says:

    “Everybody should learn to speak less and listen more.”

    When it comes to Catholic blogdom, especially these last three+ years, I have been posting less and reading more. =)


  9. Cornelius says:

    This is just a variation on the ad hominem attack that lefties, errr ‘progressives’, practice with anyone who disagrees with them. This is their modus operandi . . . when you can’t respond with reasoned argument, attack the person.

  10. catholictrad says:

    NOPE! I found a pearl of great price and I’m never shutting up!

  11. JerseyGirl says:

    Hmmm, I seem to recall something about the lukewarm. My experience is some cradles and a few former priests now married are very vocal in support of changing Church doctrine and no cradles so far in my hearing have challenged them except my wonderful husband.

  12. Art says:

    Weren’t the 12 apostles converts as well? If they spoke less, think how much shorter the canon of scripture would be!

  13. david s says:

    A couple of quotes from the Rule of St Benedict for consideration:

    Chapter 3 (on calling the monks for counsel): Whenever anything of importance is to be done in the monastery, let the Abbot assemble the whole community ….. Moreover, we have said that all are to be called to counsel because it is often to the younger that the Lord reveals what is better.

    Chapter 63 (on receiving visiting monks): If, however, he (the visiting m0nk) censures or points out anything reasonably and with humble charity, let the Abbot weigh the matter prudently, lest perchance the Lord may have sent him for this very purpose.

  14. Adaquano says:

    I’ve enjoyed many of Mills articles on Stream, he strikes me as a defender of orthodoxy so this article is puzzling

  15. Fr. Reader says:

    Speak less. Listen more.

  16. Spade says:

    “Cradle Catholics should learn something about their Faith.
    Cradle Catholics should go to Confession before Communion.
    Cradle Catholics should stop shacking up and get married.
    Cradle Catholics should stop contracepting at same rate as non-Catholics.
    Cradle Catholics should speak less, listen more.”

    As a Cradle Catholic and a revert, and most of my friends are converts, I can say this list is 100% accurate.

  17. Kerry says:

    Father George Rutler, Father Richard Neuhaus, J.R.R. Tolkien, Chesterton….Teresa Benedicta of the Cross…and so on, in secula seculorum. Amen

  18. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    Love the photo – tells is exactly as it is.

  19. Gregg the Obscure says:

    This convert will speak less when today’s cradle Catholics start speaking in accord with St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Peter Damian . . .

  20. Alanmac says:

    All Roman Catholics are converts. Whether from the moment of baptism or more importantly later in life when they get “it”, everyone undergoes a conversion, or conversions, to become a faithful member.

  21. jkking says:

    As a cradle Catholic with 16 years of Catholic education in the SF Bay Area, I couldn’t agree more with you, Fr. Z.

  22. demivalka says:

    I don’t often quote Vatican II but Gaudium et Spes, 16 states of the Christian that “the most intimate centre and sanctuary of a person, in which he or she is alone with God, whose voice echoes within them.” Whether convert or cradle-Catholic, we need to be faithful echoes of the Truth and it has reverberated down through the ages.

  23. Poor Yorek says:

    Contra verbosos noli contendere verbis:
    Sermo datur cunctis, animi sapientia paucis.

    Dicta Catonis 10

  24. SaintJude6 says:

    Dear Fr. Z,
    I’ll take that wager. I’m a cradle Catholic who knows a lot of converts and married one. And most of them are not only following Cafeteria Catholicism, they also lack much of the knowledge that even the poorly-catechized cradle Catholics possess. RCIA programs are HORRIBLE. The parishes want to keep their numbers high, so they rubber stamp everyone through. My husband went through one of the more solid ones, and it took about ten years after his conversion to get up to the level of catechesis as an eighth grader in a parochial school. (He came from a “Bible-based” denomination that pretty much stuck to those parts of the Bible that re-enforced their agenda and skipped the rest.)
    Most of the converts in the Church, save the High Mass Anglican crowd, are not going the traditional route. They are just as likely to hit the Saturday 5:00 in flip flops, with their carefully-planned, pre-vasectomy two children. Some of them are coming into the Church with a divorce already under their belts, converting to make spouse #2 (or 3) happy.
    I have a suspicion that your view of things may be altered by the fact that the converts you spend time with are not the typical Novus Ordo Catholics whose RCIA leaders told them that “The Church doesn’t really believe that anymore. ________ is a matter of conscience.”

    [The converts whom the lefties are especially enjoining to shut up are not the garden-variety who come in only to marry, etc. They are criticizing especially more visible converts whose opinion is more likely to be heard. More over the plural of “anecdote” is “data”. I’m not convinced that your experience is the accurate description of most converts.]

  25. Pingback: Canon212 Update: Don’t Just Accept the Outhouse in FrancisMansion. Fight. Win! – The Stumbling Block

  26. Mr. Graves says:

    Mills’ bio under the Crux piece reads, “David Mills is the editorial director of Ethika Politika, a columnist for Aleteia, and the former executive editor of First Things.”

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Ethika Politika explicitly socialist? If so, the surprise isn’t that he’s part of the catholic left but that he wrote for the reputable and orthodox First Things.

  27. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Converts are a blessing. And especially in American Catholicism, it just sounds silly to say that any group should shut up! (Except in the nave of church before or after Mass, heh.)

    However, there does seem to be a sort of conflict in people’s minds between “holy envy” of people with dramatic conversion or reversion stories (which show God’s goodness!); and “unholy envy” of the sort directed towards anybody who shows special graces, by people who are feeling pouty.

    Most of the saints have had somebody in their vicinity who (although a reasonably good person) just couldn’t stand them being saintly levels of good, or (without needing any miracles) hated the idea that God was giving out miracles but not to them. These annoying people often wreak a lot of mischief. (And it’s amazing how many of these people are still trying to justify their nasty actions when a sainthood commission comes through. Sometimes they repent and become better people, though, which shows the good effect of saints praying for those who hate them.)

    If your “holy envy” of converts drives you to do more good works, to offer things up, to improve in virtue, and to spread the Gospel, you are not being pouty. If you find yourself trying to stop other people from performing the temporal and spiritual acts of mercy, just because they didn’t join the Church early enough… well, you’d better pull up your big boy pants, and turn your unholy pout inside out.

    That said, it would be nice to see some occasional focus on the “conversion stories” of people who haven’t strayed from the Church or had to find her, but instead have always been working their way “further in and further up.” They don’t all have to be invalid victim souls, either, to count as good examples.

  28. GregB says:

    The progressives bear a striking resemblance to HAL 9000 in 2001. Particularly the parts about being foolproof and having a mission that is too important to allow anyone to jeopardize it. Sounds like they are having their AE-35 event.

  29. Mr. Graves says:

    That said, it would be nice to see some occasional focus on the “conversion stories” of people who haven’t strayed from the Church or had to find her, but instead have always been working their way “further in and further up.”

    Patrick Madrid fits the bill, if memory serves. As does Carl Keating.

  30. hwriggles4 says:

    As far as converts coming in with a divorce under there belt, it is my understanding that before they are received in the Church (in the order of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist) a decree of nullity must be granted. There are pastors, parochial vicar, RCIA directors, and dioceses that adhere to strict guidelines in these matters.

    I have a Catholic brother who did not complete RCIA until his wife was issued a decree of nullity. (Well run RCIA programs are not just one meeting a week for a set time.) Not long after his wife was granted an annulment, the pastor performed a convalidation, where friends were in attendance on a Saturday afternoon. It was like a small wedding – i was there too.

    In addition, one of my old bosses, a convert, went through RCIA three times He was also going through his own annulment, which was complicated and he even had to appear personally to the Archdiocesan tribunal, even though he resided in a suffragen diocese.

    Both these men are practicing, solid Catholics that I am blessed to call friends.

  31. fathereddy says:

    Coming home was wonderful. Pope B16, even prepared a feast for many of us called the Ordinariate. But I have noticed that *some* of those already in the fold resented our coming. They begrudged us our patrimony and detested our renewed zeal.

    Like the elder brother in the parable – they snipe and sulk and refuse to embrace us. And like that son they also seem devoid of much love for the actual father; his word and his teaching, for they encourage liberalisation and loss of what makes the faith true.

  32. J.M.C. says:

    hwriggles4: There is actually no impediment for a divorced person to complete RCIA and become Catholic, provided that they are willing and intend to live in accord with the Church’s marriage laws. I.e., they are willing to remain chaste and civilly single unless they receive a declaration of nullity for their first marriage. (But obviously, things are more complicated when the prospective future Catholic is already in an irregular marriage situation that they are unable or unwilling to leave.)

  33. Pingback: Deal Hudson and Father Z respond to David Mills | Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Blog


  35. Ben Kenobi says:

    “As a convert myself, I know that it can take a while… in the cases of some converts quite a while… to get acclimated, to get to the point where the Catholic “thing” is deep in the marrow.”

    Yes, this. Thank you Father. That is how I see things as a fellow convert. We need each other and I wish more would understand us.

Comments are closed.