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October 29, 2005



Sheesh. Is it any wonder the Sills are getting so much flack for reporting a PP volunteer/Catholic school teacher to the Bishop? And that so many Loretto high school students can't understand why being pro-abort is such a big deal and why the Bishop and the Sills are so "mean" and "intolerant?"

If you read the comments posted by the "progressive" locals on Katelyn Sills' blog, you'll start to feel like you've fallen down the rabbit hole.


Well ... I tend to agree, Amy, except that I do identify myself as "devout," not to let people know the status of my soul (FAR from devout) but to disassociate myself from people like Maria Shriver. There aren't many good words for what "real" Catholics are -- "orthodox" is confusing, because of course people think you are Eastern, "traditional" has the same, but worse, problem -- you become a schismatic, "conservative" just sounds too political (although I use that a lot to describe myself), "practicing Catholic" now has such a wide range of meanings that it really is meaningless (and of course most of the people who use it to start off their sentences end them as Maria Shriver did), and calling yourself a "real" Catholic I think just makes you sound more smug than calling yourself "devout". As far as the saints not calling themselves devout, well, look at it this way: Joan of Arc may have had a lot of detractors, but she didn't have to face the likes of Maria Shriver.


Tom Haessler

Hello, Amy,

With respect to your two rules you might be interested in our pastor's approach. He makes house visits. Rings the bell and says "Hello, I'm Father Don from Our Lady of Good Hope Parish. I just wanted to invite you and your family to Mass. If you're not Catholic we have interesting interfaith discussion groups after Mass." "Oh, I used to go to Mass, Father, but the Church is filled with a bunch of hypocrites, so I don't go anymore." "Well, you're right there, and I'm one of the worst, but I'd be even worse if it weren't for the Mass and confession." Next Sunday the guy and his whole family went to Mass.

Tom Haessler

Patrick Rothwell

For the life of me, I could never call myself a "good" or "devout" or "faithful" Catholic without (accurate) contradiction flung back at me. At most, I could be described as a believer. I am amazed at the same tendency that Amy describes, but I note that it is not only the "I am a good Catholic, but object to teaching X," that resort to this, but also the Wanderer or self-described "orthodox" who scream "the faithful are scandalized!" over controversial incident X.

Donald R. McClarey

Ah, to live in a time when a self-described devout Catholic supports child murder in the same breath. Jesus wept.


Well, when I didn't go to church, I described myself as a "lapsed Catholic." Now, I usually say I'm a "practicing Catholic." While I agree with MJ that it's a term that can be misused, I understand it as meaning a person who attends Mass on Sundays and Holy Days - no more than that. It doesn't mean one is holy or in God's good graces or heaven-bound; only that one is fulfilling the Church's most elementary requirements.

I fully understand that the Lord asks more of us than just going to Mass. However, I'm a bit tired of hearing certain friends say, "I'm a Catholic, but I don't need to go to Church. I can pray just as well in bed/the woods/my backyard/the shower,...," Sure, you can pray in all of those places. Doesn't mean it's O.K. not to go to Mass.

Fr. Phil Bloom

Well said, Donna and Tom - and, as always, Amy.


How loud did Cardinal Mahooney cheer ?


Larry, learn how to spell the guy's name.


Well, the Knights of Columbus are open to adult men who are practicing Catholics (or 'practical Catholics', as the Knights say). So 'practicing' Catholic is not an idea foreign to Catholics in general, and it could probably be safely defined as someone who complies, at least, to the precepts of the Church: assist at Mass on Sundays and H.D. of Obligation, support the Church financially, observe days of fasting and abstinence, receive H.C. at least once a year during Easter, and go to Confession at least once a year. Oh, and I think they've added 'evangelize for the faith' (since the 1983 canon law revision).

I readily concede that one can do all these things and not be a particularly good Catholic - one could still have a gravely deformed conscience, as Maria Shriver's seems to be. But, for recruiting Knights, anyway, the precepts are a start from which to evaluate potential candidates, even though they may not tell the whole story . . . .


I go with "practicing" myself, but usually I just say Catholic; if someone knows me well enough they'll know where I'm at in terms of church-going and so forth.

As for Maria Shriver - oy. Not much to say except eesh, do people ever listen to themselves?


Anyway, I agree with Amy on never describing myself as a 'good Catholic' or a 'devout Catholic', though I'm not averse to describing others that way if I think it's true. I'll stick to 'practicing Catholic' for self-description (based on the precepts) and leave it at that.


I wonder if the statement "I'm Catholic and I got to Church more than once a week", or, "I go to Confession once a month [or whatever]" might make it very clear the nature of your faith?

Is there a "net worth" limit maximum for "working moms?" Would Maria [Kennedy] Shriver [Schwarzenegger]exceed that limit?


Oh dear, I just say "Roman Catholic" and that only if I can't get out of it.

I'm very serious about it, but I hate like heck to pin medals on my own chest about being "devout."

Niall Mor

I sometimes say, "I'm a practicing Catholic, and I'll keep practicing until I get it right."

James Kabala

How sad. Eunice Shriver is pro-life and is even said to have criticized her brother Ted's stance on the issue to his face, but apparently Maria doesn't take after her mother.


Perhaps Ms Shriver had just fallen into the common journalistic habit of using the term "devout Catholic" *only* when referring to someone who dissents loudly and publicly from one or more teachings of the Church. The media have other terms for orthodox Catholics, most of them not very nice.

Therese Z

If it's appropriate, I'll say "I'm a Catholic and I'm really happy about it." Sometimes I have to rush the part in after the "and" because people's faces start to fall right after the word "Catholic."

Jennifer N.

Carlo, I don't consider it pinning medals on my chest when I refer to myself as a devout Catholic. Rather, I think it's a good witness that there are still some who are faithful to the Church and her teachings.

It can be a good conversation starter and with God's grace, maybe plant a seed in someone's heart.

Like MJ said above... devout doesn't refer to the state of my soul, but rather to my fidelity to the faith.

Glenn Juday

"...an uproar of applause."

Well, the blame is wide and deep here.

First off, Ms. Shriver is a media personality from a family that has been self-consciously status seeking and hungry for recognition for at least 3 generations. This fixation can have a corrupting influence. In some, even elemental standards of human decency are jettisoned if there is the prospect, as happened here literally, of applause ringing in your ears. Sad to say, if the applause lines ran counter to the consensus demonstrated here among the "right" people who really counted, and who were really helpful to know - well who knows what position people with weak personalities and poor Christian belief would take? So, not that much can be read into a misguided person from an unfortunate background making a pathetic spectacle of herself.

But, "...an uproar of applause." That should really give us pause. These are the elites - and in a conference on 'Woman and the Family' - engaged, upscale, civic-minded. The oddity is not just that they support such a shameful and vicious practice in our society, but that the furthest thing from their minds, apparently, is concern over the embarrassment of publicly and enthusiastically proclaiming their support.

Conscience is a relentless faculty of human personality. It is implacable. It can be denied, but it will have an effect, either a proper and salutary effect if allowed to operate as it should to move us to true repentance and firm purpose of amendment. Or it will have a corrupting, demoralizing, and destructive effect if it is denied.

Ever so many priests and bishops, apparently believing that careful, sustained, and explicit homiletic treatment of the life topics (here stem cell “farming” of humans for destruction, and deliberately willed direct abortion) was either impossible, or worse, undesirable, have bequeathed us more than a generation of callous mothers quite willing to stand up and cheer for barbarism. But there are signs of hope among the young, or the surviving young, we should say. I have the feeling that clear, confident, bold proclamation of the truth, so noticeably lacking in the past, will strike a cord among these young folks.

That’s not how the script is written, of course. Sophistication, and “progress” are supposed to be irreversible. Once adopted by celebrities, a position is supposed to be unalterable, especially if it is an abuse. But, strange to say, the tide is turning, and being turned by ordinary people, not celebrities. Those who don’t count for much, don’t have family charisma, don’t live at the best addresses.

As long as even the faintest glimmer of the love of Christ smolders on in His Church, as long as people can, even for a moment, set aside the blinding mask of celebrity and peer at the reality behind, there is something for Christ to work with. And one day, one day when our elites least expect it, the whole rotten regime of anti-life oppression and its delusional hold on our elites will crash into pieces that can’t be put back together. And then we will have a massive job of addressing the raw and bleeding consciences of the people who will not be able to bear the thought that they stood and cheered.


"When a person begins a sentence "I'm a Catholic," you know you have trouble on the way. When they begin a sentence "I'm a devout Catholic," you have disaster, guaranteed."

And when when they begin, "I was raised Catholic," you might as well pack it up and go home.

bruce cole

This reminded me of Walker Percy's answer to "What kind of Catholic are you?" His answer: "Bad."


The one that I always hear is that "I went to Catholic school through high school. Then they tell you how much they don't agree with the church. But they are authorities.


I remember as a law student in 1987 hearing a Public Radio interview of Justice William Brennan and in the context of discussing the Supreme Court's abortion decisions he described himself as a "devout Catholic." I knew then the truth of Amy's rules. I wanted to laugh out loud, but the truth of what's at stake is too sad to warrant that reaction. Thomas More would never describe himself as a "devout Catholic." More likely he would have said "poor sinner." Such language is, however, entirely absent from the current lexicon of American politicians.


c matt

I also liked Chesterton's description that Catholicism was the religion that he practiced badly.

What about a "faithful Catholic"? Does not necessarily imply perfect practice, does it? But does seem to imply full assent, at least.


Re: "Oh, I used to go to Mass, Father, but the Church is filled with a bunch of hypocrites..."

I just tell them there's room for another one.

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