Omigosh! People want to become Catholics. What should we do?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 25, 2016

The Catholic bishops of Austria are worried that some migrants might not have the right motives for their desire to enter the Catholic Church. That's a valid concern, no doubt—although to my mind it would seem less urgent than questions about 1) why so few native Austrians are interested in becoming Catholic, and 2) why so many baptized Austrian Catholics want to leave the Church.

But what bothers me even more is that the bishops' response seems to suggest that an influx of converts is a Problem, which must be addressed by a comprehensive (and no doubt cumbersome, year-long) Program

It wasn't always this way. Inspired by the Austrian bishops’ example, I have re-translated Acts 8: 35-38 to reflect a more contemporary approach:

And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?”

And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both encamped by the water. And Philip hired a staff, having each person fingerprinted and CORI’d, and for twelve months they instructed the eunuch, using small-group sharing sessions and PowerPoint presentations. Then Philip baptized the eunuch. 

Much more inspiring that way, wouldn’t you agree?


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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  • Posted by: feedback - May. 28, 2016 1:02 AM ET USA

    What a great "contemporary re-translation" of the Acts! However I'm afraid that most diocesan bureaucracies (top to bottom) have long lost the sense of how ridiculous, useless and pointless are their obsessions with "programs," and how they can be completely detached from the simple sincerity of the Gospel.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - May. 27, 2016 5:49 PM ET USA

    I enjoy it when such things are put in context. Take Muslim-on-Muslim conflict, for instance. To help understand what it must be like, suppose Catholics hiding behind bushes slaughtered Baptists on the way to church? What if 7th Day Adventists blew up a Methodist bus taking children to Sunday School? We should give thanks for the country we live in and do our best to keep it the way it is. That means opposing anyone who supports abortion and keeping God out of schools.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - May. 26, 2016 4:34 PM ET USA

    A beautiful country absolutely adorned with the splendor of Christianity turned into an ash heap of materialism. Is there a saint left there?