Franco Harris is a professional football Hall of Famer known for one of the NFL’s greatest plays, the “Immaculate Reception”. Now, when you hear the word “immaculate”, your first thought might be that of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her “immaculate conception”, which brought Jesus into the world. With this metaphor connecting Harris’ most famous play with the Catholic tradition, it can make one wonder whether he’s a Catholic or even a religious. So is he? Let’s find out in this article.
Franco Harris is a Christian. So he believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Messiah sent to us from heaven to save us from our sins. It’s not clear, however, what denomination he belongs to. He could be any of the Christian branches, which are Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, etc.
So how are these denominations of Christianity different and what do Christians believe? Furthermore, who exactly is Franco Harris and what is he known for? Let’s take a look at Harris’ life, accomplishments, and what being a Christian means in this article.
What Was Franco Harris Known For?
Franco Harris is best known for being the man behind one of NFL’s most iconic plays in history. Dubbed the “Immaculate Reception” in 1972, it was the play that gave the Pittsburgh Steelers its very first playoff victory ever since its inception in 1933. That’s right, it took decades and Franco Harris – along with his impressive team – to change the Steelers’ sad state in the professional football league.
After getting drafted out of Pennsylvania State University as the 13th overall selection of the 1972 NFL draft, Harris quickly became one of Pittsburgh Steelers star players. That year, he made 10 touchdowns and covered 1,055 yards. He even won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. As a running back, he then helped his team win 4 Super Bowls: in 1975, 1976, 1979, and 1980.
Aside from his miraculous yet controversial touchdown catch, Harris also held the third-highest rushing yardage total in the NFL at the time of his retirement in 1985. According to his Steelers profile, he finished with 12,120 yards and 91 touchdowns after spending his final season in Seattle. He was then inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and then died in 2022.
What is Franco Harris’ Religion?
There isn’t much said about Franco Harris’ religion other than him being a Christian. As for what denomination, he could be any of the three branches: Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy.
That said, Harris was born and raised in New Jersey by an African-American father and an Italian mother. When he helped the Steelers win their very first victory in 1975 and was named the Most Valuable Player, he became the first Italian American and first African American to be given such an honor.
Now, considering where he’s from, there’s a high chance of him being a Catholic or a Protestant. According to the Pew Research Center, Christianity is the majority religion in New Jersey accounting for 67% of the entire population. 34% of that is Catholicism and 31% is Protestantism. Not to mention that his mother was Italian, a nationality closely associated with Catholicism.
But whether he’s a Catholic, Protestant, or even Eastern Orthodoxy, one thing is for sure: Franco Harris is a Christian – and Christians believe in the following:
- The life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ.
- Jesus Christ is the “Messiah”, “Redeemer”, or savior of the world who was crucified on the cross, offering us forgiveness for our sins.
- Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the second figure in the divine Godhead along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
- Believing and following Jesus Christ’s teachings and examples will grant us eternal life.
- Jesus died for humanity. Three days later, he was raised from the dead and appeared to his disciples, commanding them for the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. He then ascended into heaven, joining his father and beginning his reign in glory.
- Jesus will come again at the Second Coming to judge the living and the dead.
How is Being Christian Different From Being a Catholic?
We’ve already established that Franco Harris is a Christian, but unsure whether he is a Catholic. So how are these two different? Well, as mentioned by many others, all Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics.
See, Christianity is made up of different branches or denominations with Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodox as the biggest ones. All these churches are followers of Jesus Christ and share almost the same beliefs, particularly when it comes to the Holy Trinity and incarnation.
However, there are also a lot of differences in belief between all the branches of Christianity, especially about tradition, salvation, the pope, Mary, celibacy, the Eucharist, and the Church itself. To help you understand all these better, here’s a quick rundown of the main differences between the branches of Christianity.
In this comparison, I’ll be using the two biggest branches of Christianity to which Franco Harris may belong, which are Protestantism and Catholicism.
- Protestant Christians view the Bible as the supreme authority, containing everything a person needs to be saved. Meanwhile, Catholics believe in the Bible and Traditions, which are the beliefs, practices, and faith handed to us over time – something like oral tradition.
- There is only one true Catholic Church with the Pope serving as the leader. On the other hand, there are tens and thousands of different Protestant churches all over the world.
- The Catholic Church recognizes and respects the authority of the Pope while the Protestants oppose him.
- Catholics believe that salvation can be achieved through faith, good deeds, and receiving the sacraments. In contrast, protestants and other Christians believe that it is only through faith that they can be saved.
- Mary is highly honored and venerated in the Catholic Church, seeing her as the “Queen of Heaven”. However, Protestants reject this saying that the Bible does not support it.
- In the Catholic Church, priests and bishops are obligated to be celibate or to abstain from marriage and sexual relations. Other Christian churches don’t follow such practices.
- Catholics believe and practice 7 sacraments, which we see as how God grants us with His grace. Other Christian churches, such as Protestants, practice only two sacraments: Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.