Interview with an Ex-Catholic Baptist Pastor

Several months ago I was on my way to Chicago to deliver a talk. During the flight I had the opportunity to share the gospel with a man sitting beside me.

After the flight, at baggage claim, a man named Don Smarto approached me; he said that he was sitting behind me and had overheard my conversation.

Don Smarto as a seminarian.

Don went on to say that he used to be a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church with plans of starting his own religious order! He then informed me that he has since left the Church and is now a Baptist pastor living in Texas.

Last month I happened to be in Texas, and I contacted Don. He arranged for me to be interviewed on his ABC program. A program normally devoted to “parenting today’s youth,” but for me he made an exception.  We had a very charitable discussion on what unites and divides us as Catholics and Protestants.

In our discussion we talk on a broad-range of topics:

– The problem of evil
– What is the Church
– The Protestant Reformation
– Why to Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
– The authority of the Catholic Church
– Pornography
– Abortion

. . . and much more. It’s about 70 minutes long, so go grab a coffee (or 5), and enjoy!

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I hope you’ll share this talk with your friends (Catholic and non-Catholic alike), as an example of how we can disagree without being disagreeable, and argue without being argumentative.

Don Smarto and Matt Fradd

* Thinking on my feet, I accidentally said that it was the first council of Constantinople which defined Mary as Theotokos, when it was, in fact, Ephesus in 431.


This article courtesy of

Matt Fradd


After experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matthew Fradd has committed himself to inviting others to know Jesus Christ and the Church he founded. As a full-time apologist with Catholic Answers, Matt speaks internationally to thousands of teens and young adults each year about chastity. He also speaks to parish audiences on a wide variety of faith topics.

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  • Wow! I think the Lord used you to begin the call back to the Church…we shall see! Praying for all who have left. He did excommunicate himself, so his return would need proper pastoral guidance…here’s to the work of the Holy Spirit..

  • catholicmatters

    Matt — excellent program. Thank you for posting. I am an amateur apologist and often use apologetics to challenge the faith of the youth I work with at our Catholic Parish. Were you on EWTN, the Journey Home with Marcus Grodi a few years back? if I’m remembering this correctly, we watched the show with the youth from our Parish (and our Parish Priest) before we went to WYD in Spain. It really helped prepare our youth for WYD. May God continue to bless you and your ministry!

  • TabithaRaised

    This was wonderful. I would always point out that disunity is one way we know evil, so when you appeal to “the gates of hell will not prevail” and then you see multiple ecclesial communities as Pope Benedict XVI referred to them, they you can see where hell tried and failed to prevail against the Church but caused disunity outside of it. Therefore, the establishment of ecclesial communities was not a true, good and beautiful thing, it was an invention come from disorder which always comes from Satan. Disunity is always a sign of evil.

  • TabithaRaised

    Just because a priest is coming out of a brothel doesn’t mean he was there for bad reasons. Maybe he was giving last rites. Maybe somebody was coming back to the Church. His father was being judgmental.