A Cavalcade of Catholic Converts

The difficulty of explaining “why I am a Catholic” is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true. –G.K. Chesterton

I had been deceived greatly once; how could I be sure that I was not deceived a second time? . . . I determined to write an Essay on Doctrinal Development; and then, if, at the end of it, my convictions in favour of the Roman Church were not weaker, to make up my mind to seek admission into her fold . . . Before I got to the end, I resolved to be received . – John Henry Newman

Authority played a large part in my belief, and I could not now find that any certain source of authority was available outside the pale of the Roman Catholic Church . . . I did not crave for infallible decrees; I wanted to be certain I belonged to that Church of which St. Paul said proudly, “We have the Mind of Christ.” –Ronald Knox

It was the Catholic Church’s firm stand against contraception and abortion which finally made me decide to become a Catholic . . . The Church’s stand is absolutely correct. It is to its eternal honour that it opposed contraception, even if the opposition failed. I think, historically, people will say it was a very gallant effort to prevent a moral disaster. –-Malcolm Muggeridge

Like all converts I ever have heard of, I was hauled aboard not by those Catholics who try to “sell” the church by conforming it to the spirit of the times by saying Catholics are just like everyone else, but by those who joyfully held out the ancient and orthodox faith in all its fullness and prophetic challenge to the world. –-Peter Kreeft

I became a Catholic in order to be more fully what I was and who I was as a Lutheran. –-Richard John Neuhaus

I became a Catholic because I could not see how Protestantism in any of its forms could contain or explain the breadth of the Church as I came to understand it: sacraments, doctrines, history, mystery, saints, sacramental authority, moral authority, unity, diversity, gifts of the Holy Spirit, ordination, holy orders, Church councils, sin and penance, etc. I didn’t embrace the Church because of the Marian doctrines; I embraced the Marian doctrines because I love the Church. –-Tertium Quid (anonymous author of the blog, From Burke to Kirk and Beyond)

There are several ways to answer the question. One is theological. The technical theological term is grace, the gratuitous unmerited gift from God. Another answer is less theological: What else is there? Did you expect me to become a Methodist? a Buddhist? a Marxist? a comfortable avuncular humanist like Walter Cronkite? an Exhibitionist like Allen Ginsberg? A proper literary-philosophical-existentialist answer is that the occasion was the reading of Kierkegaard’s extraordinary essay: “On the Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle.” Like the readings that mean most to you, what it did was to confirm something I suspected but that it took Søren Kierkegaard to put into words: that what the greatest geniuses in science, literature, art, philosophy utter are sentences which convey truth sub specie aeternitatis; that is to say, sentences which can be confirmed by appropriate methods and by anyone, anywhere, any time. But only the apostle can utter sentences which can be accepted on the authority of the apostle; that is, his credentials, sobriety, trustworthiness as a news bearer. These sentences contain not knowledge sub specie aeternitatis but news. –Walker Percy

Now it occurred to me . . . that if I were to marry a Catholic I ought at least to learn the nature and limits of the beliefs she held . . . . I had no intention of being received into the Church. For such a thing to happen I would need to be convinced of its truth and that was not even a remote possibility . . . . At the first sight [Fr. Trollope] was all I detested most in my private image of the Church . . . . [But then I found myself] facing the challenge of an inexplicable goodness . . . . I began to fear that he would distrust the genuineness of my conversion if it so happened that I chose to be received, for after a few weeks of serious argument the ‘if’ was becoming less and less improbable . . . . My primary difficulty was to believe in a God at all . . . I didn’t disbelieve in Christ — I disbelieved in God. If I were ever to be convinced in even the remote possibility of a supreme, omnipotent and omniscient power I realized that nothing afterwards could seem impossible. It was on the ground of dogmatic atheism that I fought and fought hard. It was like a fight for personal survival. –-Graham Greene

Conversion is like stepping across the chimney piece out of a Looking-Glass world, where everything is an absurd caricature, into the real world God made; and then begins the delicious process of exploring it limitlessly. –-Evelyn Waugh


  1. Henri Young says

    If I could get past my up-tight objective narcissism maybe I could embody Waugh’s perspective. Maybe.

  2. The Ironic Catholic says

    This is a fantastic list.

  3. I agree with the Ironic Catholic. This is a wonderful collection.

  4. Too BUSY to read this right now, but two reasons not to become a Catholic, I would have thought, are: no women priests and celibacy.

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