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Scott P. Richert

Will President Bush Convert to Catholicism?

By June 16, 2008

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On Friday, June 13, 2008, as George W. Bush met with Pope Benedict XVI, the London Telegraph reported rumors that the President is considering conversion to Catholicism.U.S. President George W. Bush meets with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican Gardens, June 13, 2008. On one level, there seems little of substance in the rumor, which may have started simply because the Holy Father greeted the President in the Vatican gardens rather than in his private study, where the two men have met in the past and where Pope Benedict has received all other world leaders. A Vatican spokesman, however, said that the venue was simply chosen to parallel the welcoming ceremony that the White House held for Pope Benedict during his visit to the United States in April.

But could there be more to the rumor? Prominent Italian Catholics seem to think so. The Telegraph noted that "Several Italian newspapers cited Vatican sources suggesting that Mr Bush may be prepared to convert. One source told Il Foglio, an authoritative newspaper, that 'Anything is possible, especially for a born-again Christian such as Bush.'"

Italian Catholics, however, may not fully comprehend the theological and historical gulf that exists between Catholics and evangelicals in the United States. While both groups are concerned about many of the same social issues—including abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, and homosexual marriage—American evangelicals tend to reject the liturgical nature of Catholicism, not to mention the Catholic Church's historical claim to be the Church founded by Jesus Christ.

Fr. George Rutler, a longtime friend of President Bush, claims that that last point may be decisive. Father Rutler told the Catholic News Agency that

Bush respects how Catholicism was founded by Christ who appointed Peter as the first Pope. "I think what fascinates him about Catholicism is its historical plausibility," said the priest. "He does appreciate the systematic theology of the church, its intellectual cogency and stability." Fr. Rutler also mentioned that the president "is not unaware of how evangelicalism—by comparison with Catholicism—may seem more limited both theologically and historically."

Beyond that, as the Telegraph notes, President Bush has employed a number of Catholics as speechwriters and advisors and appointed two Catholics (John Roberts and Samuel Alito) to the U.S. Supreme Court. His friend Tony Blair, the former prime minister of Great Britain, converted to Catholicism after leaving office, and his own brother, former governor of Florida Jeb Bush, converted to Catholicism when he married a woman of Mexican descent.

But perhaps the most intriguing piece of information came in the final paragraph of the Telegraph article, where the writer noted that "during the contested election in 2000, Jeb Bush travelled to Mexico and prayed to the icon of Our Lady of Guadelupe."

The Supreme Court handed the election to George Bush on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe.

(Photo by Giancarlo Giuliani-Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

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Comments
June 16, 2008 at 10:17 am
(1) Anders Branderud says:

Catolicism claim to have the historical teachings of the historical J*esus. But how can we know that they are correct?

Who was the historical Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth? This has been hidden for Christians for centuries, but now it’s possible for Christians to read the un-redacted teachings of the historical Ribi Yehoshua. It is exciting times that we are living in!

As the earliest church historians, most eminent modern university historians, our web site (see further down in this post) and our Khavruta (Distance Learning) texts confirm, the original teachings of Ribi Yәhoshua were not only accepted by most of the Pharisaic Jewish community, he had hoards of Jewish students. Contrary to popular Christian assumptions, the standards of the Jewish community didn’t cause the “break.” Rather, as Oxford historian-scholar James Parkes indisputedly demonstrates in his book, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, it was the teachings that were perverted between the first and fourth centuries C.E. The first century teachings of Ribi Yәhoshua and his original Netzarim were acceptable in the Jewish community. Fourth century Christianity was the polar opposite to the original first century Pharisaic Torah teachings of Ribi Yәhoshua and his original Netzarim followers. Consequently, the Roman perversion of those teachings was never in the Jewish community at all! Ribi Yәhoshua’s authentic teachings were never rejected by the Jews! And the perversion of those teachings by the Roman pagans, Christianity, was never in the Jewish community in the first place. There was no transition between the two! (source: netzarim.co.il)

If you want to learn about the Historical Ribi Yehoshua, whom Orthodox Jews can live with (witness the Netzarim Jews in Raanana, Israel, members in good standing in an Orthodox synagogue), you must start with books like How Jesus Became Christian by Prof. Barrie Wilson (most bookstores) and Who Are The Netzarim? (publ. http://www.schuellerhouse.com) by Israeli Orthodox Jew, Paqid Yirmeyahu Ben-David.
From Anders Brandrerud
Follower of Ribi Yehoshua – Messias – in Orthodox Judaism.
http://www.netzarim.co.il – start with the link “Christians” (at our first page)

June 17, 2008 at 10:12 am
(2) Maryanne Leonard says:

If President Bush were to convert to Catholicism, I would rejoice. I believe that his friend, Tony Blair, waited to convert until he was out of office so that people would not blame his support of the war in Iraq on the Catholic church, which people can be idiotic enough to do. President Bush may be waiting for similar reasons, if indeed the rumors are true.

Research shows that rumors turn out to be true well over 80% of the time, and have a basis in truth most of the rest of the time, but of course, not always.

A man’s faith is his own business, of course, but when you are a world leader, the world is watching. Almost all of our leaders have been Protestants, as are both of our prospective next presidents nominally. However, one of the prospective vice presidential running mates for John McCain is Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a convert to Catholicism and a very widely respected leader. Many people are hopeful that McCain chooses this fine man.

June 26, 2008 at 4:28 pm
(3) MJ says:

Tony Blair was not permitted to convert under English law. The sovereign, PM, and the Royal Family cannot be Catholic. Tony had to wait until his departure.
Mainstream American Protestant churches have become politically liberal and have dramatically lost membership. RC church is still the largest and fastest growing, due to fertility rates and immigration from Latin Countries.
Catholics are the ultimate US swing voters and are not beholden to one single party, unlike Jews, African Americans, and Fundamentalists.
Smart move for a politico to convert, it will help the Bush Family in the long run. W was truly moved at the funeral of John Paul the Great, and his speech at the Al Smith dinner 10 years ago is memorable.
W’s wife is religious, went to TCU. I’m not sure she will convert.

September 19, 2008 at 1:22 pm
(4) midwesterner says:

The historical claims that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ are pretty hard to deny once you read the early christian writers. It’s totally laughable, I know, but then again, the Son of God rode into Jerusalem on an ass.

December 7, 2012 at 11:12 pm
(5) Genaro Pulido says:

It is really a joy seem how intelligent people are converting to the Only True Church founded by Christ. On the other hand it is well known that the Evangelization of the American Continent has been a great success due to Our Lady of Guadalupe apparitions in 1531 to a native that has been converted Saint Juan Diego. Time has arrived to see more and more people converted to the Faith and that is a fact.

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