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Vatican City as seen from across the Tiber. Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont.

My church loyalties

Why I am not yet a Catholic

In 2005, after Benedict XVI was elected pope, I wrote an essay for the Century titled “In need of a pope?” That essay cost me a job at a Protestant evangelical institution. A Catholic friend told me at the time that I should think of that result as a gracious preemptive strike.

Since then I have repeatedly been asked, “Why are you not Catholic?”

The main reason I am not (yet) Catholic and remain a Methodist and an ordained Methodist elder is that I do not know how to become Catholic without betraying the people who taught me to love God, pray, worship, desire the Eucharist, take delight in scripture, and so on. How can I leave the people I love?

I remember my pastor, Lloyd Willert, who tended to me when I had major surgery at the age of 19 and was in a body cast for three months. He visited me and prayed with me. When I went to seminary, his wife gave me books from his library. I still cherish them.


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