By Ven. Fulton J. Sheen

“The Catholic Church is intolerant.” That simple thought, like a yellow-fever sign, is supposed to be the one solid reason which should frighten away any one who might be contemplating knocking at the portals of the Church for entrance, or for a crumb of the Bread of Life. When proof for this statement is asked, it is retorted that the Church is intolerant because of its self-complacency and smug satisfaction as the unique interpreter of the thoughts of Christ. Its narrow-mindedness is supposed to be revealed in its unwillingness to cooperate effectively with other Christian bodies that are working for the union of churches. Within the last ten years, two great world conferences on religion have been held, in which every great religion except the Catholic participated. The Catholic Church was invited to attend and discuss the two important subjects of doctrine and ministry, but she refused the invitation.

That is not all. Even in our own country she has refused to lend a helping hand in the federating of those churches which decided it was better to throw dogmatic differences into the background, in order to serve better the religious needs of America. The other churches would give her a royal welcome, but she will not come. She will not cooperate! She will not conform! And she will not conform because she is too narrow-minded and intolerant! Christ would not have acted that way!

Such is, practically every one will admit, a fair statement of the attitude the modern world bears to the Church. The charge of intolerance is not new. It was once directed against Our Blessed Lord Himself.

Immediately after His betrayal, Our Blessed Lord was summoned before a religious body for the first Church Conference of Christian times, held not in the city of Lausanne or Stockholm, but in the city of Jerusalem. The meeting was presided over by one Annas, the primate and head of one of the most aggressive families of the patriarchate, a man wise with the deluding wisdom of three score and ten years, in a country in which age and wisdom were synonymous. Five of his sons in succession wore the sacred ephod of blue and purple and scarlet, the symbols of family power. As head of his own house, Annas had charge of family revenues, and from non-biblical sources we learn that part of the family fortune was invested in trades connected with the Temple. The stalls for the sale of bird and beast and material for sacrifice were known as the booths of the sons of Annas. One expects a high tone when a priest goes into business; but Annas was a Sadducee, and since he did not believe in a future life, he made the most of life while he had it. There was always one incident he remembered about his Temple business, and that was the day Our Lord flung his tables down its front steps as if they were lumber, and with cords banished the money-handlers from the Temple like rubbish before the wind.

That incident flashed before his mind now, when he saw standing before him the Woodworker of Nazareth. The eyes of Jesus and Annas met, and the first world conference on religion opened. Annas, ironically feigning surprise at the sight of the prisoner whom multitudes followed the week before, opened the meeting by asking Jesus to make plain two important religious matters, the two that were discussed later on in Lausanne and Geneva and Stockholm, namely, the question of His doctrine and the question of His ministry. Our Lord was asked by a religious man, a religious leader, and a religious authority, representative of the Common faith of a nation, to enter into discussion, to sit down to a conference on the all-important questions of religion-ministry and discipline-and He refused! And the world’s first Church Conference was a failure.

He refused in words which left no doubt in the mind of Annas that the doctrine which He preached was the one which He would now uphold in religious conference, namely, His Divinity. With words, cut like the facets of a diamond, and sentences, as uncompromising as a two-edged sword, He answered Annas : “I have spoken openly to the world . . . and in secret spoke I nothing. Why asketh thou Me? Ask them that have heard Me, what I spoke unto them: behold, these know the things which I said.”

In so many words Jesus said to Annas: “You imply by your questioning that I am not Divine; that I am just the same as the other rabbis going up and down the country-side; that I am another one of Israel’s prophets, and at the most, only a man. I know that you would welcome Me to your heart if I would say that I am only human. But no! I have spoken openly to the world. I have declared My Divinity; I say unto you, I have exercised the right of Divinity, for I have forgiven sins; I have left my Body and Blood for posterity, and rather than deny its reality I have lost those who followed Me, who were scandalized at My words. It was only last night that I told Philip that the Father and I are One, and that I will ask My Father to send the Spirit of Truth to the Church I have founded on Peter, which will endure to the end of time. Ask those who have heard Me; they will tell you what things I have said. I have no other doctrine than that which I declared when I drove your dove-hucksters out of the Temple, and declared it to be My Father’s House; that which I have preached; that which angels declared at My birth; that which I revealed on Thabor; that which I now declare before you, namely, My Divinity. And if your first principle is that I am not Divine, but am just human like yourself, then there is nothing in common between us. So, why asketh thou Me to discuss doctrine and ministry with you?”

And some brute standing near by, feeling himself the humiliation of the high priest at such an uncompromising response, struck Our Blessed Lord across the face with a mailed fist, drawing out of Him two things: blood, and a soft answer: “If I have spoken evil bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou Me?” And that soldier in the court-room of Annas has gone down in history as the representative of that great group that bears a hatred against Divinity, the group that never clothes that hatred in any intellectual language, but rather in violence alone.

All that happened in the life of Christ happens in the life of the Church. And here in the court-room of Annas I find the reason for the Catholic Church’s refusal to take part in movements for federation such as those inspired by present world conferences on religion. Happy the Church is that there should be a desire for the union of Christendom, but she cannot take part in any such conference. In so many words the Church says to those who invited her: “Why askest thou me about my doctrine and my ministry? Ask them that have heard me. I have spoken openly through the centuries, declaring myself the Spouse of Christ, founded on the Rock of Peter. Centuries before prophets of modern religions arose, I spoke my Divinity at Nicea and Constantinople; I spoke it in the cathedrals of the Middle Ages; I speak it today in every pulpit and church throughout the world. I know that you will welcome me to your conferences if I say I am not Divine; I know Ritualists throughout the world feel the need of my ceremonials, and would grasp my hand if I would but relinquish my claim to be Divine; I know a recent writer has argued that the great organization of the Church could be the framework for the union of all Christendom, if I would give up my claim to be the Truth; I know the church doors of the world would rejoice to see me pass in ; I know your welcome would be sincere; I know you desire the union of all Christendom-but I cannot. ‘Why do you ask me?’ if your first principle is that I am not Divine, but just a human organization like your own, that I am a human institution like all other human institutions founded by erring men and erring women. If your first principle is that I am human, but not divine, then there is no common ground for conference. I must refuse.”

Call this intolerance, yes! That is just what it is-the intolerance of Divinity. It is the claim to uniqueness that brought the blow of the soldier against Christ, and it is the claim to uniqueness that brings the blow of the world’s disapproval against the Church. It is well to remember that there was one thing in the life of Christ that brought His death, and that was the intolerance of His claim to be Divine. He was tolerant about where He slept. and what He ate; He was tolerant about shortcomings of His fish-smelling apostles; He was tolerant of those who nailed Him to the Cross, but He was absolutely intolerant about His claim to be Divine. There was not much tolerance about His statement that those who I receive not in Him shall be condemned. There was not much tolerance about His statement that any one who would prefer his own father or mother to Him was not worthy of being His disciple. There was not much tolerance of the world’s opinion in giving His blessing to those whom the world would hate and revile. Tolerance to His Mind was not always good, nor was intolerance always evil.

There is no other subject on which the average mind is so much confused as the subject of tolerance and intolerance. Tolerance is always supposed to be desirable because it is taken to be synonymous with broadmindedness. Intolerance is always supposed to be undesirable, because it is taken to be synonymous with narrow-mindedness. This is not true, for tolerance and intolerance apply to two totally different things. Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, but never to persons. We must be tolerant to persons because they are human; we must be intolerant about principles because they are divine. We must be tolerant to the erring, because ignorance may have led them astray; but we must be intolerant to the error, because Truth is not our making, but God’s. And hence the Church in her history, due reparation made, has always welcomed the heretic back into the treasury of her souls, but never his heresy into the treasury of her wisdom.

The Church, like Our Blessed Lord, advocates charity to all persons who disagree with her by word or by violence. Even those who in the strictest sense of the term-are bigots, are to be treated with the utmost kindness. They really do not hate the Church, they hate only what they mistakenly believe to be the Church. If I believed all the lies that are told about the Church, if I gave credence to all the foul stories told about her priesthood and Papacy, if I had been brought up on falsehoods about her teachings and her sacraments, I would probably hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.

Keeping the distinction well in mind between persons and principles, cast a hurried glance over the general religious conditions of our country. America, it is commonly said, is suffering from intolerance. While there is much want of charity to our fellow-citizens, I believe it is truer to say that America is not suffering so much from intolerance as it is suffering from a false kind of tolerance: tolerance of right and wrong; truth and error; virtue and vice; Christ and chaos. The man, in our country, who can make up his mind and hold to certain truths with all the fervor of his soul, is called narrow-minded, whereas the man who cannot make up his mind is called broadminded. And now this false broadmindedness or tolerance of truth and error has carried many minds so far that they say one religion is just as good as another, or that because one contradicts another, therefore, there is no such thing as religion. This is just like concluding that because, in the days of Columbus, some said the world was round and others said it was flat, therefore, there is no world at all.

Such indifference to the oneness of truth is at the root of all the assumptions so current in present-day thinking that religion is an open question, like the tariff, whereas science is a closed question, like the multiplication table. It is behind that strange kind of broadmindedness which teaches that any one may tell us about God, though it would never admit that any one but a scientist should tell us about an atom. It has inspired the idea that we should be broad enough to publish our sins to any psychoanalyst living in a glass house, but never so narrow as to tell them to a priest in a confessional box. It has created the general impression that any individual opinion about religion is right, and it has disposed modern minds to accept its religion dished up in the form of articles entitled: “My Idea of Religion,” written by any nondescript from a Hollywood movie star to the chief cook of the Ritz-Carlton.

This kind of broadmindedness which sacrifices principles to whims, dissolves entities into environment, and reduces truth to opinion, is an unmistakable sign of the decay of the logical faculty.

Certainly it should be reasonably expected that religion should have its authoritative spokesmen, just as well as science. If you had wounded the palm of your hand, you would not call in a florist; if you broke the spring of your watch, you would not ask an artesian-well expert to repair it; if your child had swallowed a nickel, you would not call in a collector of internal revenue; if you wished to determine idle authenticity of an alleged Rembrandt, you would not summon a house painter. If you insist that only a plumber should mend the leaks in your pipes, and not an organ tuner, if you demand a doctor shall take care of your body, and not a musician, then why, in heaven’s name, should not we demand that a man who tells about God and religion at least say his prayers?

The remedy for this broadmindedness is intolerance, not intolerance of persons, for of them we must be tolerant regardless of views they may hold, but intolerance of principles. A bridge builder must be intolerant about the foundations of his bridge; the gardener must be intolerant about weeds in his gardens; the property owner must be intolerant about his claims to property; the soldier must be intolerant about his country, as against that of the enemy, and he who is broadminded on the battlefield is a coward and a traitor. The doc¬tor must be intolerant about disease in his patients, and the professor must be intolerant about error in his pupils. So, too, the Church, founded on the Intolerance of Divinity, must be equally intolerant about the truths commissioned to her. There are to be no one-fisted battles, no half-drawn swords, no divided loves, no equalizing Christ and Buddha in a broad sweep of sophomoric tolerance or broad-mindedness, for as Our Blessed Lord has put it: “He that is not with Me is against Me.”

There is only one answer to the problem of the constituents of water, namely, two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. There is only one answer to the question of what is the capital of the United States. There is only one true answer to the problem of two and two. Suppose that certain mathematicians in various parts of this country taught diverse kinds of multiplication tables. One taught that two times two equaled five, another two times two equaled six, another two times two equaled seven and one fourth, another two times two equaled nine and four fifths. Then suppose that some one decided it would be better to be broadminded and to work together and sacrifice their particular solutions for the sake of economy. The result would be a Federation of Mathematicians, compromising, possibly, of the pooled solution that two times two equaled five and seven eighths. Outside this federation is another group which holds that two times two equals four. They refuse to enter the federation unless the mathematicians agree to accept this as the true and unique solution. The broadminded group in conference taunts them, saying: “You are too intolerant and narrow-minded. You smack of the dead past. They believed that in the dark ages.”

Now this is precisely the attitude of the Church on the subject of the world conferences on religion. She holds that just as the truth is one in geography, in chemistry, and mathematics, so too there is one truth in religion, and if we are intolerant about the truth that two times two equals four, then we should also be intolerant about those principles on which is hinged the only really important thing in the world, namely, the salvation of our immortal soul. If the assumption is that there is no Divinity, no oneness about truth, but only opinion, probability, and compromise, then the Church must refrain from participation. Any conference on religion, therefore, which starts with the assumption that there is no such thing as truth, and that contrary and contradictory sects may be united in a federation of broad-mindedness, must never expect the Church to join or cooperate.

As we grew from childhood to adolescence, the one thing that probably did most to wreck our faith in Santa Claus-I know it did mine -was to find a Santa Claus in every department-store window. If there were only one Santa Claus, and he was at the North Pole, how could there be one in every shop window and at every street corner? That same mentality which led us to seek truth in unity should lead us in religious matters to identically the same conclusion.

The world may charge the Church with intolerance, and the world is right. The Church is intolerant; intolerant about Truth, intolerant about principles, intolerant about Divinity, just as Our Blessed Lord was intolerant about His Divinity. The other religions may change their principles, and they do change them, because their principles are man-made. The Church cannot change, because her principles are God-made. Religion is not a sum of beliefs that we would like, but the sum of beliefs God has given. The world may disagree with the Church, but the world knows very definitely with what it is disagreeing. In the future as in the past, the Church will be intolerant about the sanctity of marriage, for what God has joined together no man shall put asunder; she will be intolerant about her creed, and be ready to die for it, for she fears not those who kill the body, but rather those who have the power to cast body and soul into hell. She will be intolerant about her infallibility, for “Lo,” says Christ, “I am with you all the days even unto the end of the world.” And while she is intolerant even to blood, in adhering to the truths given her by her Divine Founder, she will be tolerant to those who say she is intolerant, for the same Divine Founder has taught her to say: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

There are only two positions to take concerning truth, and both of them had their hearing centuries ago in the court-room of Solomon where two women claimed a babe. A babe is like truth; it is one; it is whole; it is organic and it cannot be divided. The real mother of ‘the babe would accept no compromise. She was intolerant about her claim. She must have the whole babe, or nothing-the intolerance of Motherhood. But the false mother was tolerant. She was willing to compromise. She was willing to divide the babe-and the babe would have met its death through broadmindedness.

Excerpt from the book “Moods and Truths”  (Published in 1932)

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  1. God has given him too much wisdom! I believe he will become a saint and a doctor of the Church, if he is not already.

    I thank God for giving us Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Hope to meet him soon.

  2. He was the first T V evangilest during the 50’s . God Bless those who knew we needed his clarity at this time in history. Please continues !!

  3. He was the first T V evangelist & this was during the 50’s, when I was a child. God Bless those who knew we needed his clarity at this time in history. Please continues !! Blessings.

  4. He was the first T V evangelist. This was during the 50’s, when I was a child. God Bless those who knew we needed his clarity at this time in our countries history. Please continues !! Blessings.

  5. He was the first T V evangelist. This was during the 50’s, when I was a child. Bless those who knew we needed his clarity at this time in our countries history !!

  6. He was America’s first T V evangelist. This was during the 50’s, when I was a child. Bless those who knew we needed his clarity at this time in our countries history !!

  7. He was America’s first T V evangelist. This was during the 50’s, when I was a child. We sure need his clarity at this time in our countries history !!

  8. He is America’s first T V evangelist. This was in the 50’s, when I was a child. We sure need his clarity at this time in our countries history !!

  9. this is truly a wonderful proof of the infallibility of the church when it concerns faith and morals. thank you for increasing my depth of intolerance to uncatholic,unchristian,untruthful, and immoral views,opinions,principles and beliefs that protest against GOD and his One,Holy,Catholic,and Apostolic Church!God bless you. America and the rest of the world clearly need to read this article to get their opinions right in terms of freedom of association especially same sex marriages/unions.

  10. The Church was however, quite broadminded and tolerant of pedophiles. I know it is painful to read that but it is painful for me too; and it is true. I knew some of those priests here in Philadelphia and my faith has been greatly diminished due to the Church allowing them to keep abusing my friends. Yes, oh yes, there is a certain tolerance within the Church for that which is not Christ-like.

    • And you really think this is the place to throw that mud and muck about it? Really?

      Do you take delight in this scandal? Apparently so.

      You are like a small child that upon seeing a crack in a window of someone’s house, feels compelled to pick up a rock and throw it to break the rest of it.

      I’m sure that what we’ll hear next is a litany of the faults of the Church since the Crusades. At least ninety-five.

      I am sick and tired of people like you running around with your feelings hurt telling EVERYBODY about it, because somebody-did-something-to-someone, and YOU need to endlessly emote about it. Claiming false injury; “Poor me, you made me lose my Faith!”

      We are all scandalized by the events that occured. We get that.

      Did it diminish your faith? Then you need to pray for more, and for the victims, and victimizers, and the whole Church to be healed.

      You, Larry, need to look up “calumny” and “detraction” in the CCC, then go to confession if, indeed, you are even Catholic. I did. And believe me, I will go to confession too. You’re a gossip, and yes, I’m judgemental, and intolerant of your bad behavior. This is called “scolding”.

      Don’t wallow in the filth. Get yourself right with God.

      Most parishes have confession at 4 pm, and if you miss it, then call your priest for an appointment.

      Stop acting like a three-year-old child.

      • Dear Sir/Madam,

        1) I used my real name, you didn’t.
        2) The definition of calumny is: a false and malicious statement designed to injure the reputation of someone or something
        -There is nothing false about what I said, you may consider it malicious if you like. So I don’t understand your use of that word since it doesn’t fit this situation.

        3) Since childhood I have been close friends with two men that were horribly abused by a Priest that was relocated to our parish and the Archdiocese knew of previous abuse allegations at a previous parish.

        4) Seeing how those are facts I don’t understand how you can call me a gossip because that would require that my statements not be supported by actual events.

        5) Yes, you are very judgemental, as am I. But, if you are tired of hearing the truth you should ask yourself why. If you believe that you are holding high moral ground then I suppose you are free to “scold” me.

        6) You can not pick and choose what is the truth. I am a sinner, just like you. If I ruffle some feathers than I consider myself in good company because the Bible is full of tales of people who have done the same and were only telling the truth.

        As Jesus said: “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”.

        I will continue to pray for you as you do for me.


        7) Finally, you did not actually address anything


        • I addressed your on-going need to participate in DETRACTION – the word you DIDN’T look up.

          Grow up. You’re not “ruffling feathers”, you’re wallowing in manure.

          I am frankly amazed that you feel the need to air your hurt feelings about a scandal that has nothing to do with the excellent article by Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

          Your need for attention like this is simply stunning. Very much like 3 year-olds I’ve seen.

          Grow up.

      • I would feel less compelled to return to the church by you than by Larry. I haven’t been able to return for so long. I just keep seeing so much anger and hate. It’s nearly certain I’ll be attacked just for saying this. I think you should go to confession for discounting people’s feelings, if we’re handing out confession advice.

        • Nobody discounted Larry’s feelings. They merely said that this is not the place to express them. There was certainly no “anger” much less “hate” directed towards him. And please don’t call my comment an “attack” on you.

      • We must keep faith and know that we will be attacked by all religions, they have their own dead in the closet but that does not tell anyone, just attack the Catholic Church because it is the true

    • People aren’t allowed to air any dirty laundry here. I agree, the article contains hypocritical statements. Of course this priest may not have known about the pedophiles. I’m sorry that anyone talks nasty to you. I’ve complained already on Catholic articles, not specifically here but I have been completely torn into tiny little pieces by “good Catholics” because I complained.

      • You can’t just make an outrageous claim like “this article contains hypocritical statements” without quoting at least one example and giving a reason why you think it is hypocritical. For your assistance, please note that “hypocritical” means not living up to the standards you demand from others, or basically not practising what you preach. In the extremely unlikely event that you actually have any evidence at all that this holy man, who may soon be a Saint, did this, I’m sure all of us, not to mention the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, would be very keen to see it.

    • God however does not tolerate church men who seek to hide their sins. What will happen to them is perfectly clear if there was never a true and deep repentance and atonement for these sins so abhorrent to God as to warrant hell for all eternity! Do not confuse churchmen however, with Christ’s Church: His Spouse.

  11. @Derrick, I appreciate your kind words and prayers and am convinced I will receive strength from them.

    @me a poor sinner, all i can say is that I spoke the truth. It hurts you, I understand that and continue to pray for you (really, I still am). But, I say again:

    “The truth will set you free”.

    • Larry, you quote “the truth will set you free” and disregard the rest of the Gospel of John. Please read all of Chapter 8. John bears witness to the truth of Jesus Christ and what His words are.

      You can read it here:

      I recommend that you read the Gospel of John in its entirety. In the beginning was the Word…

      I fear for your soul, Larry, as even the devil may quote scripture and conform it to his lies and deceit. Do not be a child of the devil. Put the hatred out of your heart and ask Christ to fill your heart with love. Pray to Jesus, and ask all the angels and Saints to guide you to everlasting life.

      You hate the Church, and you throw accusation against her for the sins of men that abused their position in the Church, and the men that covered it up in shame.

      Even among the 12 Apostles there was one that was false. So you focus on that false leader and shake your fist in self-righteous indignation, and you allow yourself to be lead away from the Way. You are on the path to destruction, as are all who place their will in opposition to His will.

      God help you. God help us all.

      Do not walk the path of anger and hate. Learn to forgive as our Lord commanded us to forgive others as our Father also forgives us.

      There are many that I have chosen not to forgive in my life, and I must strive to forgive them from my whole heart, and the only way this is possible is through Christ Jesus. Him in me, and me in Him. He must become greater and I must become the lesser. His will be done. I must forgive. I forgive you, Larry.

      Saint John would tell his listeners, “Little children, love one another” so often that his followers thought that he was doddering, but he told them that he repeated it so often because they were the words of his Master, and that He would say it often to His disciples. “Little children, love one another.”

      Larry, until we learn to love one another, and those that have caused such great harm to the innocent ones, and learn to forgive them, then we have not the kingdom of God, but the kindom of the devil and all his lies.

      Believe what you will.

      As for me, I will follow my Lord Jesus Christ, and pray fervently for our greater conversion and conformation to His Truth and His Way.

      We each have our burdens in this life, the moment we let those burdens lead us away from Christ’s love we become lost. Don’t be among the lost souls, Larry. Find forgiveness, and find your faith again.

      Remember also that calumny and detraction are of the devil, one is spreading lies about another as if they are the truth in order to harm a reputation, and the other is the spreading of the truth in such a way as to harm a reputation. This is your sin, you spread truth and lies in order to harm the reputation of the Church.

      The Church is the bride of Christ, and we are taught that the bride and the groom are one flesh, so are you not also commiting calumny and detraction against Christ? I believe this is the case with your posting your original (and quite off topic) post, and this was why I replied as I did to you. Take the admonition with love in your heart and you will see that it was but a gentle reproof so that you may turn away from your sin. What you state may be “truth” but there is not love in it. Only an immature attempt to scandalize and outrage others. And it worked, you outraged and scandalized me.

      And I forgive you.

      By His wounds we are healed.

      May God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you, and may we all walk the path that leads to eternal salvation in Christ.

      In Christ’s Love, I send this with a prayer that God may reach into your heart and heal you, my poor brother, Larry.

      Me, a poor sinner

      • Me, a poor sinner & Larry,
        I just want to share to you guys what I just got from my classmate in college. I hope this will help somehow.

        When I say that “I am a Christian,” I am not shouting that “I am clean living.” I’m whispering “I was lost, but now I’m found and forgiven.”
        When I say “I am a Christian,” I don’t speak of this with pride. I’m confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.
        When I say “I am a Christian,” I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and on.
        When I say “I am a Christian,” I’m not bragging of success. I’m admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.
        When I say “I am a Christian,” I’m not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.
        When I say “I am a Christian,” I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.
        When I say “I am a Christian,” I am not holier than thou. I’m just a simple sinner who received God’s good grace.

        Let’s try our hardest to be the best Catholic ever. Cheers 🙂

      • Me, a poor sinner,
        Thank you so much. I now understand the meaning of calumny and destruction. Your admonition is very much like that of a parent. . . . full of love and concern. I am enlightened

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  21. So normally I like Catholic theology/writings, etc., but this just seemed poorly written. I mean, I appreciate that Fulton Sheen was an evangelist and not a systematic theologian so the fact that this has no clear outline is not too shocking. But it is odd to compare ideologies and beliefs to concrete objects with clear and discernible limits. I am not sure it is helpful for example, to compare the concepts of right and wrong to the shape of this planet- which is observable from space. To be fair, he wrote this YEARS before we first orbited the Earth so he might of thought of these two things as comparable since we could not prove either at the time.

    Also his metaphorical use of a soldier on a battlefield is a bit troubling:”the soldier must be intolerant about his country, as against that of the enemy, and he who is broadminded on the battlefield is a coward and a traitor.” Help me out here, didn’t Jesus want us to love our “enemies?” From a secular perspective this example makes sense, as a Christian I’m not sure that this is the best choice.

    His confusing metaphors aside- I think the problem with the Catholic Church is not tolerance/intolerance it is arrogance, and since the time of the papal bull against the Jesuits, and the excommunication of Martin Luther (and others)-arrogance and pride continues to plague the Church. Obviously the Church universal is guilty of pride and arrogance but here Sheen compares the Catholic Church to Jesus being hounded by his critics, rhetorically making every other Christian group Annas the Sadducee, again problematic.

    Within the paragraph about Christ vs chaos, flat world vs round world vs no world, he moves from mentioning what he calls “false tolerance” quickly into a slippery-slope argument where suddenly people are complete relativists and have no moral standing whatsoever because they do not share the same “intolerances” as the Catholic Church.

    Finally, I think it is interesting to interpret Jesus being “intolerant” in his conversation with Annas. One could also interpret this exchange as Jesus not wanting to enter into a conversation when he knows that the person who is speaking to him is not really going to listen and only wants to trap him, which happens over and over again in the gospels. Jesus challenges Annas but he also challenges us all. The minute we start identifying ourselves and our Church as modern innocent victims of other people’s crucifixion is when we begin to play at being martyrs instead of allowing Jesus to look us in the face and challenge us.

    I deeply apologize if I offend anyone who really liked this piece with my comments. I do think he made some excellent points about not compromising beliefs that are fundamental to preaching the gospel. For the sake of Christian unity I hope that some day we can break bread together even when we strongly disagree on what is fundamental.

    • Hello friend,

      I think you are misunderstanding, he makes referances that a spread throughout human history.

      excommunication is just that, a person techniqually excommunicates ones self, by not trying to compromise on the core truth of christs teachings they are no longer in communion with the church.

      So catholics may be arrogant and full of pride perhaps, but i think you know that it is untrue to condemn the whole church as such. I argue here not because i seek conflict but bcause i cannot allow you to damn the Church, it like the complusion for a husband to defend his wife. It is Not like you saying my wife is not beautiful, it is that you say my wife cannot love, this is a truth know to those in the church. We are not offened directly, we cannot allow you to offened her or God.

      Do you not see that if you are a part of a church that changes it core fundermental values then you are not a truthful church. Its a lie. The catholic church has never change its fundermentals.

      But what if Jesus Christ is using the Church to look you in the face? She is the one who is clearly challenging you and all you need to is allow her to communicate with you.

      Unfortunaly as long as you don’t agree on the fundamentals we may never share in the communion of the Eucharist. I hope and pray that you will recieve the grace of God and see that truth which is crying out to you.

      yours in Christ,


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  25. Dear Larry,
    Children have been molested by teachers and staff at public schools, whose parents then settled with districts and agreed to non-disclosure. Should those children now disbelieve everything that they were taught about science, math, history and reading? I beg you to apply logic to what you are saying. The teachings of Christ, as passed on by the Church are still the same. The sexual scandals have nothing to with Faith.

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  28. Unfortunately the situation described in this great writing was before Vatican II. Nowadays many clergymen prone tolerance of “truths” and broadmindedness… The new mass is the fruit of wanting to please the protestants…
    For those who don’t know Venerable Fulton Sheen, read his books and watch his videos on YouTube – he’s so inspiring!!!

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  32. Comment:ROCK SOLID! It’s really inspiring & I understand my Catholic faith better.
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