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Can a Catholic be a minister of a non-Catholic sect?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 10, 2012

Can a minister of a non-Catholic denomination still be classified as a Catholic? The Washington Post seems to think so, notes the perceptive critic Terry Mattingly, who regularly exposes the tone-deafness of the secular media regarding religious affairs.

A Post profile of Chip DiPaula Jr., a Maryland political operative who is now working for legal recognition of same-sex marriage, notes that DiPaula is a Catholic. But the same story goes on to report that DiPaula “is an authorized nondenominational Christian minister and has officiated at the weddings of a few family members and friends.” Thus he is recognized by some institution—obviously not the Catholic Church—as a member of the clergy. Yet the Post identifies him as a Catholic, without adding even an asterisk. Is that competent reporting? Mattingly presses the question:

At this point, in other words, in the eyes of Post editors, does the Catholic Church itself have any say in deciding whether a person is or is not a Catholic?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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