Msgr. Graham Leonard: An Anglican Bishop Who Became A Catholic – The Journey Home Program

For years, the Catholic Television Network (EWTN) has had a show called The Journey Home. My parents used to watch this show when I was a child, for the few years that we had a dish before we tore the roof off the house. To the best of my recollection, the purpose of the show is to display how Catholicism is an awesome religion because so many people convert to it. When I found out that all the episodes are available online, I decided to watch them and review them. It’s undeniable that people convert to Catholicism; my question is, do they have good reasons? How many of them started as some form of Christian in the first place? How many came from other religions? How many were atheists or skeptics? Why did they convert, and would the answer to that question be a convincing reason for a skeptic?

If you decide to watch these episodes with me, you may notice that I ignore a lot of things I could respond to. The target audience is Catholics, and this is clear from the very first minute that Marcus Grodi begins speaking. These stories aren’t necessarily meant to convince a skeptic, but to strengthen the faith of a Catholic, or possibly convince a non-Catholic Christian to convert, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. Nonetheless, I’d like to see if this collection of conversion stories contains any compelling reasons for a skeptic to convert.

The second episode is titled “Msgr. Graham Leonard: An Anglican Bishop Who Became A Catholic – The Journey Home Program” and aired September 12, 1997. It can be viewed online here.

Again, the guest was already a Christian – an Anglican, just like C. S. Lewis – before he became Catholic. Indeed, Msgr. Graham Leonard was a priest, and not just any priest, but the Bishop of London.

As I have nothing to say about this conversion story that I didn’t say about the last one, I’d like to emphasize again that Catholicism does seem, to me, the most internally consistent of the Christian denominations. It makes sense to me that many Christians who take their faith seriously and begin studying the issues like “how do I know what interpretation of the Bible is correct” (which is specifically what Leonard focused on) would become Catholics.

I’d also like to respond to something Marcus Grodi says. He points out that “becoming a Catholic is a whole lot different than just, ‘well, I’ve driven Chevies all my life, now I’m going to drive a Ford’. I mean, this is, this affects everything in our life”. That type of thinking was a huge part of how I was raised, and it’s largely why I have such a problem with people who say “I’m Catholic” but don’t go to Church and don’t follow or believe any of the teachings. Catholicism, done right, should affect every part of your life. I personally had a very difficult adjustment leaving Catholicism to atheism in part because Catholicism affected so much of my life, and atheism is just not capable of replacing all of that. For instance, one of my goals was to pray the full rosary, all 15 decades, every day (not that I can claim to have every been too faithful to that). That’s at least an hour every day, if done properly, and there is no practice in atheism that’s remotely similar. Another example is that one of my life goals was to become a saint (person who goes to Heaven), and hopefully even a Saint (person canonized by the Catholic Church). The closest atheism has is becoming a well-respected, widely read author like Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins, and they honestly aren’t as well respected in atheist circles (in my observation) as Mother Teresa or any Saint is in Catholic circles. I’m not saying my desire to become a Saint was about wanting respect – it was largely about wanting to be in Heaven – but pointing out that I had to rethink basically my whole life, from daily to end goals.

So far, our breakdown of the guests’ religious state before conversion looks like this.

  • Serious Christian: 2
  • Lax Christian: 0
  • Non-Christian, but religious: 0
  • Non-believer, but not very skeptical: 0
  • Skeptic: 0

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