I recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of my conversion to Catholicism. When I think back to the time of my conversion, I remember that it was a season of much optimism in the Church. Everyone seemed to feel that we had turned the corner from the unmitigated disaster that was the 1970’s and 80’s and that, under Pope John Paul II, we would soon see the Church restored to her former glory. Every week another Protestant minister was becoming Catholic. I felt I was joining a Church that would be a robust proclaimer and defender of Christian truth and values for the rest of my lifetime.
Now I’ve lived as a Catholic for a quarter of a century, including five years working for a diocese. It’s been an interesting ride, and not what I expected. I felt privileged to come into the Church under Pope John Paul II, and I was literally jumping for joy when Cardinal Ratzinger – my favorite theologian – was elected Pope in 2005. However, in that time I’ve also witnessed scandal after scandal: the priestly abuse crisis, unchallenged homosexuality among the clergy, lukewarm parishes as the norm, false teachings and cowardly actions emanating from all levels of the hierarchy…the list could go on. In many ways, things appear far worse now than at any time in my (admittedly short) lifespan as a Catholic. If I had foreseen 2017 in 1992, would I still have become Catholic?