One of my passions is ecumenism - built on a belief that all followers of Christ have so much in common that we should celebrate this and pray, evangelise and work together for unity in love. The sad truth that often strikes me though is that some Christians use inter-denominational events to entice and convert people from one denomination to another.
I know a number of friends and acquaintances brought up in the Catholic faith but due to poor teaching never knew the truth and beauty of the Faith. Sheep stealers are those who will undermine the Catholic Faith of those they meet and seek to convert them to a denomination instead.
1. They will ingratiate themselves with Catholics and be friendly to them but start subtly undermining their faith - ridiculing aspects of faith that they disagree with. The sheep stealers will almost always claim that the Catholic Church hates scripture and is just interested in money. Quite rightly - most people of goodwill will realise that this is not the way a true Christian Church would behave.
2. The next ploy is to invite Catholics to their places of worship where they are told that Catholicism is about guilt and they instead preach freedom. They will be introduced to people who say they were "raised Catholic, but found Christ." - quite often they will be people who were simply nominal Catholics, went to a Catholic School or happen to have had Irish or Italian parents and the odd religious image in their home.
3. Thirdly they will be invited to "be baptised" regardless of whether they are already baptised or not or perhaps to sign a form professing their membership of a particular church. They will of course also be invited to take part in various courses and made to feel more and more part of their new spiritual home.
4. It is only when the Catholic is firmly an ex-Catholic that they are then introduced to the importance of parting with as much of their money as possible to their newly found church and how God will bless them so much for this.
The irony of those people who have left the Catholic Church for another "bible believing church" is that they have left an organisation that compiled and wrote the Bible and uses scripture as the greater part of the Mass for assemblies that on the whole have nothing more than one or two verses of the Bible and a lot of one person's interpretation of it.
The greater irony is that having been told that the Catholic Church is rich and obsessed with money they may end up in a community that spends more time asking for money than it does on proclaiming scripture.
Let us pray for genuine Christian unity and protection against those that would undermine Christ's Church.