Fulton Sheen: The Catholic faith is like a lion in a cage

The Catholic faith is like a lion in a cage. You don’t need to defend it—you simply need to open the cage door.

Attr. to Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

I might not have suspected this one except that it sounds suspiciously like a fauxtation attributed to St. Augustine: “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose and it will defend itself.” I dealt with that one in a previous post, tracing it back to the famous Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon.

I couldn’t find this rendition of it attributed to +Sheen before 2006. I did find it, however, in Scott Hahn’s conversion story: “What we discovered was that the Catholic Church almost doesn’t even need a defense. It’s more like a lion; just let it out of its cage and it takes care of itself.” It’s entirely possible that Dr. Hahn got the phrase from +Sheen, but it’s also quite possible that he was familiar with the quotation from Spurgeon.

Archbishop Sheen wrote an awful lot and said an awful lot more, so I’m not going to proclaim dogmatically that he didn’t say it. But until someone shows me when and where he said it, I’m going to remain skeptical.

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