Recently a Leftist Catholic website published a hit piece on Scott Hahn. It’s not important to detail the attack, or link to the article; suffice it to say that the gist of the ridiculous article was that Hahn is not sufficiently obsequious to the Francis Revolution for their tastes. After the article was published, a number of Leftist Catholics piled on Hahn on X (formerly Twitter) to make sure the world knew they were loyal members of the Revolutionary Forces.
While many Catholics were rightly offended by this hit piece, I think the attack is a good thing. It reveals far more about Hahn’s attackers and their project than it does about Hahn.
I saw someone compare the denunciation of Hahn to the tactics of the French Revolution, in which the revolutionary purity spiral became so intense that no one was safe from destruction. That’s exactly what’s happening here. We have a handful of Catholics, mostly Americans, who spend inordinate amounts of time online searching for anyone who isn’t loyal enough for their standards. They must censure anyone and everyone who doesn’t march lockstep to their warped view of Catholicism.
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And it’s not enough to simply stay out of the internecine war within Catholicism; one absolutely must actively and vocally support anything and everything related to the Francis Revolution to be considered faithfully Catholic. Silence means schism.
Yet let’s look at Hahn’s record for a minute. Here is a man who has literally influenced more people to become Catholic than anyone alive. His conversion story has reached hundreds of thousands of people over the past 30+ years, and has led many Protestant pastors to give up their jobs and become members of the One True Faith.
Over the years Hahn has written more than 40 books on a popular level to make the Catholic Faith more accessible to all. These books include the best-selling The Lamb’s Supper, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, The Fourth Cup, and numerous Bible studies. Millions of copies of these books have been distributed at a time when a typical Catholic book does well if it sells 5,000 copies. Clearly his books tap into a need and a hunger out there.
Hahn has also founded the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology to assist both lay Catholics and priests in better understanding the Sacred Scriptures. The St. Paul Center has hosted countless seminars, produced many video and audio studies, and published dozens of books, all to help Catholics dive deep into the Bible. In an era where Catholics often falter in their knowledge of the Scriptures in comparison to Protestants, the St. Paul Center provides tools to better equip Catholics to see how the Bible is truly a Catholic book.
But Hahn’s reach is not just in the popular Catholic world. He has also been instrumental in turning the tide of faith-destroying modern Biblical scholarship. He launched the Letter & Spirit academic journal to allow Catholic scholars a place to publish works that are both academically rigorous and faithful to the magisterium. Hahn himself has published numerous academic works, and his book Politicizing the Bible demolished the anti-Catholic foundations of modern Biblical scholarship, showing it is much more based on human politics than serious scholarship.
This prodigious output has rightly made Hahn a celebrity in the Catholic world. Yet this celebrity status has not resulted in the all-too-common scandals that often follow the famous. Hahn has been faithfully married to his wife Kimberly for more than 44 years, and his children include a priest, a transitional deacon, and faithful Catholics living out the vocation of marriage (and producing many grandchildren!). He’s well-known for living a “boring” life dedicated to his family and his work.
Further, in an era where every D-list Catholic celebrity feels the need to create “response videos” to defend themselves against even the slightest criticism, you won’t see Hahn out there attacking his attackers. He will just keep his head down doing the work to which God has called him.
Hahn is also well-known for the personal attention he gives to people. Even though it’s obvious enough from his output that he’s a busy man, he’s not an aloof scholar, unwilling or unable to help others. I know countless stories of people who have been personally assisted, either professionally or personally, by Hahn.
In fact, I have my own story in his regard. I initially attended Franciscan University of Steubenville in its Masters Theology program in the mid-1990’s, but after a year and a half I had to drop out for financial reasons before I could complete the degree. I had Hahn for two classes, but I wasn’t a super-star student by any measure. Twelve years later I started back on my degree through the distance education program, finally completing my degree in 2011. At my graduation, someone came up to me and said Scott Hahn was looking for me. I was a bit surprised, as I hadn’t had him for a class in more than 16 years, and hadn’t had any contact with him during that time. I didn’t even think he knew who I was. But he remembered me and just wanted to see what I was going to be doing with my degree, and he let me know he’d help me professionally if he could.
Hahn would be the first to tell you that he’s no saint, but his long record, both public and private, demonstrates clearly that he’s a man who deeply loves Jesus Christ and His Church and is dedicated to serving the Lord. Yet to Leftist Catholics who believe Pope Francis represents a revolution that must topple the past, Hahn’s not pure enough.
All of the good Hahn has done in the past is considered worthless due to his lack of vocal and complete support for today’s Revolution. Note, of course, that Hahn has not criticized Pope Francis. He’s not called for schism. But he’s not joined the Revolutionary Forces and he’s dared to express gratitude to a bishop they deem unworthy of support. For this he must be denounced and declared an unCatholic.
This is the way of all revolutions. Those who style themselves the inner circle of revolutionaries see dissent and impurity everywhere. No one is worthy. Fortunately, however, this destructive purity spiral ends up squashing the revolution itself, as no one is left to carry the banner forward. Now that today’s revolutionaries have shown their hand, I suspect even many of their previous supporters will realize it’s a dead-end project that is contrary to the spirit of Catholicism.
Scott Hahn is not the problem in today’s Church; quite the contrary. The problem is those who would equate blinding obedience to their Revolution with faithful Catholicism. They may believe that they now control the Church, but like all revolutions, their time will be soon over. All the while, Scott Hahn will continue to work for the advance of the Church and the salvation of souls, as we all should.