Pope Francis I must guide Catholics to understand why they believe what they believe if he is to carry out the “Catholics Come Home” campaign, says a Baylor University scholar who was baptized Catholic, turned to Evangelicalism for more than 30 years and returned to Catholicism in 2007.

“As an Evangelical who returned to Catholicism, I was amazed at how little Catholics knew of their own faith,” said Francis J. Beckwith, Ph.D., former president of the Evangelical Theological Society and author of Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic.

“I was one of these little kids who had a real interest in theological questions. I really wanted to follow Jesus, but the people that seemed to have answers were Evangelical Protestants . . . My return to the Catholic Church had to do with better understanding Catholic beliefs that I wished had been better explained to me when I was younger.”

If the new pope can revitalize what the late Pope John Paul II called a “New Evangelicalism” to inactive or fallen-away Catholics -- among them younger people -- the church can demonstrate that “not only do we have a right to believe as we do, but that it is reasonable to do so,” said Beckwith, who teaches philosophy and church-state in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITYBaylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students, blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.