Faith and Life,  World View

Fortress Catholicism

Reading many of the online descriptions of Catholicism, it is easy to believe that we all have a siege mentality, that we are living within ‘Fortress Catholicism’. Of course, this is not the case at all – but the minority who espouse this warped view are both vocal and well-funded.

Catholicism is not a fortress. It is not something we need to protect – the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of doing that and He continues to do so as He has done throughout all these centuries.

Neither is Catholicism a state of mind characterised by a sense of siege. It is not simply a way of thinking, but a way of living and of being.

It is not an exclusive club, where our task is to keep out those we deem unworthy of it for whatever reason. Christ did not do this – nor does He ask us to do so. Christ opened the way of life He proposed not only to “His own people” but to the whole world. Christ welcomed. So must we.

When we are present at Mass, we will never hear the Gospel proclaiming to us that we must guard this gift of faith jealously in order to keep it all for ourselves – on the contrary, the Gospel counsels us to take this gift out and to share it across the whole world. We will hear the Gospel proposing values and ideals which we are called to live up to – this is the task we each have personally; it is not our task to be the enforcers on behalf of others around us. The Gospel calls for us to be lights in the world – a light illuminates and in this way, shares it’s own light; it does not destroy all else by means of the fire it possesses.

The problem with a fortress mentality is that as much as it is about keeping others out – it is also about keeping us in. But in such a way that we constantly feel threatened from the outside. That isn’t faith – it’s fear.

At the Second Vatican Council, the impetus was very much about throwing open the windows – and if we want our own personal faith, the version we live out each day, to be fruitful, then this is what we too must do.


Catholic | Retired Nurse | UK

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