My friend and frequent commenter Jimmy sent me some links today. First, is the text of a letter by a man, Andrew Madden, to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Then, the archbishop’s reply.
This should sting. I know it stings me, and I don’t even know these men.
At the Iowa State campus, a big part of our mission is drawing in students, and giving them an anchor for an adult life in the Catholic faith. People do drift away, and that always is sad for me. Of course, some of those folks are graduates, and they’re going off in the way they should–to careers, marriage, and other parishes in other cities and towns.
Others find too much hypocrisy, not enough welcome, too much misunderstanding, or other things that make the Church more of an obstacle to God than a means.
And some people just leave in a snit. Others float away before they or anyone else knows it.
My decision to be a Catholic and a Christian was intentional from the beginning. Leaving or drifting away is so far from any sort of a choice I don’t always get why people float away or cultivate that snit. I have seen, sadly close-at-hand, serious misbehavior on the part of priests, the occasional bishop, and others in church positions where they should have known better. I’ve been in the position of helping people find meaning or picking up pieces. And on occasion, I fail to uphold the values I should. I don’t think I’ve chased anybody out of the Church. But my tongue and pen are a problem from time to time.
I think Catholicism needs a much more serious evangelization effort. We should pursue non-believers and inactive believers like our eternal lives depended on it, not theirs.
Blogging will be light from me for the next week or two. I have my usual start-of-semester heavy workload, plus a freelance assignment, plus a turn as the lead person for the adult portion of our parish’s whole community catechesis. I’m grateful to Neil for his series on Christian Unity Week. You may see a few posts from me on Friday. I’ll return to RCIA and to Msgr Marini’s talk a bit later.
It didn’t sting. It made me realize the difference between his reaction and mine is one of degree rather than kind. My wife and I were talking tonight, and we realized we were in mourning for a Church we once loved, but that now is dead to us. The sad thing is that it killed itself.
And then there are those of us who, despite all of the non-support we get from Holy “Mother” Church, strive to stay. However, we find that we have to do so with many caveats, reservations and not a little finger crossing.
It’s not the creed. It’s not the liturgy. It comes down to the fact that, in order to remain Catholic, we have to narrow the scope of our membership basically down to the local community that we find we can survive in. Forget the diocesan and universal church structures. That results in a very tenuous Catholic membership.
My parish will be going through the throes of a change in pastor in about a year. Our current pastor has been sent a strong message that he should not necessarily count on reappointment. So what does that mean for the parish in this day of “any breathing body of a priest” will have to do? We hope that our Archbishop is smart enough to not ruin a good thing. Our parish is a liturgical and musical beacon within the Archdiocese.
Even if we get a collaborative and complementary pastor, the Archbishop has to resign in early 2011. His letter will be accepted so fast that his miter will spin. With the way appointments have been going under B16, we don’t hold out much hope for a liberal (dream on!) or even a moderate.
That’s the state of Catholicism for many people in this day and age: one day at a time.
Jimmy, I admire your sticking with it. I couldn’t do it: every day I stayed I felt further from God.
As I was told a long time ago:
Just because your mother is a whore doesn’t mean that she isn’t still your mother.
I guess that was suposed to be some source of comfort —–
Jimmy, see the comment below.
As my mother put it to me, in reference, I hasten to add, to another family: “honor your father and your mother” sometimes means calling the cops on them, moving out, and cutting off all contact in order to be a decent person.