Fr. Matthew Schneider has an article up at Crux, weighing in on the Should Converts Just Shut Up debate (which Crux started). Fr. Schneider probably says something very nice and that readers here would be okay with, because he’s good for that. I don’t recall we’ve ever disagreed before. Fr. Longenecker said something nice, for example. But I couldn’t read Fr. Schneider because I’ve started breaking out in the blogger-version of hives (BVH) every time I even see this discussion.
BVH reaction: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??
Kids. We have a way of evaluating people’s opinions on any topic, religious or otherwise.
We ask: Is it true?
It doesn’t matter whether the opinion comes from a cradle catholic, a convert, a heretic, or a rank atheist. What matters is whether it is true.
It is normal to take an interest in a person’s credentials. Sometimes, perhaps laying in the ER with your brain bleeding, you have nothing but credentials to rely on in making decisions. But if you’ve gone so far as to become a Catholic writer, then it is my hope that no matter how incompetent you are at medical or financial or engineering decisions, you have the ability to weed out the Catholic Faith from Not the Catholic Faith.
Those of us who have half an hour’s experience comparing what credentialed Catholics say to what the Church says can let you in on a secret: It is neither the number of years being Catholic, nor the sorts of degrees acquired, nor the kinds of sacraments received that determine whether someone is writing the truth. It is whether the person sufficiently desires to tell the truth that they make the effort.
Earnest people make honest mistakes, and dishonest people foment errors, and both categories of people are the reason we keep our thinking caps on.
I think if I were, therefore, to provide a useful bit of ad hominen caution for the unwashed masses about whom everyone is so concerned, it would be this: If your betters are telling you it is the type of person and not their ideas that need evaluating in order to discover the truth, you should stop reading those betters.