Was JPII Protestant?


Have you ever heard a Catholic say, "That sounds very Protestant"?  It's more likely to happen the closer a given statement gets to the well-known Protestant formula of "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior."

If that's all it takes, then I think we could accuse Pope John Paul II of being "too Protestant!"  Just take a look at what he wrote in Redemptoris Missio (#46):

"Conversion means accepting, by a personal decision, the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple."

Sound familiar?  Let's take a look at that again, but with new emphasis:

"Conversion means accepting, by a personal decision, the saving sovereignty (aka, Lordship) of Christ and becoming his disciple."

The reality is, the Protestant/Evangelical world rightly lays this emphasis on making a personal decision to follow Christ.  It is, as JPII says, the way we become a disciple.  Pope Benedict XVI has reaffirmed this truth quite emphatically when he said, "We are Christians only if we encounter Christ... Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we really become Christians...”  Let's rephrase that: you are Christian only if you have a personal relationship with Christ.

Too Protestant?

I belabor the point because I believe that Catholics too often shy away from discussing a personal relationship with Christ simply for fear of sounding too Protestant.  But in doing so, we are robbing our people, not just of something important, but of something foundational to Catholic-Christian life.  As a result, many Catholics in our pews remain Catholic as a matter of course.  Their Catholic identity is a given, something inherited, so that they are "Catholic" in much the same way as they are "Italian" or "Irish."  And many Catholics remain unaware that there is a personal decision to be made.