I listen to "The Journey Home" on EWTN. It's a wonderful program hosted by Marcus Grodi where he interviews converts to Catholicism. The spectrum of guests ranges from reverts to fundamentalist evangelicals to even people like me who were outside of Christianity.
One thing that always bothers me is that when someone (usually from a protestant background) describes their first experience reading the Early Church Fathers, they always come to the conclusion, "There is absolutely no other 'church' that can make the apostolic claims that Rome can."
Now, I can't expect everyone to make the same conclusion that I did: that the Orthodox Church is in fact, the early apostolic church about which the Fathers wrote. But it seems to me like most of these people don't even hear
about the Orthodox Church; in other words, upon learning what the early Church was like, they immediately equate that with Rome.
It's true that many Christians in non-Orthodox countries have not heard (or have heard and forgotten) about the Orthodox Church. But some of the people on "The Journey Home" are particularly learned—people like Dr. Scott Hahn (I haven't ever heard him mention the Orthodox Church on the radio, but I admittedly haven't read his books). These sorts of people came from scholarly backgrounds and became Catholic through a period of in-depth study, and yet it seems like they never even got a chance to know that the Orthodox Church was a (imho: THE
) possibility on their journey.
I don't want to speculate too much, but these are my theories:
- These people had no exposure to Orthodoxy before, and instead saw the world as Catholic/Protestant, so when they read about an early church that resembled Catholicism, they naturally assumed it was Catholic Church.
- Some popular anthologies of the Early Church Fathers are compiled by Roman Catholics, who would not want to draw their attention to the schism and so do not mention, explicitly, the present Orthodox Church. Thus, people who read these books might only hear about the Roman Church during their studies.
- Perhaps some people know about the Orthodox Church but regard her as the unpleasant half-sister, who they would rather forget about than have to explain to people (I would hope this is not the case)
Can anyone shine so light on this for me? Essentially, I'd like to know why so many bright people who converted to Catholicism through a "rigorous" study of history never seem to know about or mention the Roman Catholic church.
EDIT: I want to be clear that I don't doubt the sincerity of anyone's personal journey and I know that each person has their own reason for "choosing" where they go. I guess I'm just curious if there's something substantive that can explain this trend that I've observed, based on an admittedly small sampling of people.