GMD 113: Inactive Catholics

They used to be called “fallen-away,” but these days they are a focus in what is called the “new” evangelization.

My main problem with this section is the reliance on programs. Programs are best thought of as structures in which the true evangelization, one-on-one contact is achieved.

Programs or support mechanisms that support reconciliation–in the Church, to the Church, and in the sacrament–these all have positive aspects. I’ve witnessed that over time they tend to run out of steam. And they don’t always encourage a wide participation among parishioners.

A “professional survey” is suggested. Information is good. But a faith community has to be prepared to do something with the information it collects.

For the bishops to strategize about “divorced and separated and … those who feel alienated from the Church” is fine. Quite often a simple invitation and personal contact will do more than any programmed event.

Parish missions, though, are a very positive component. These days, they tend to be shorter due to busy modern life. They are usually focused internally, to the members, to the already-saved.

All this being said, reaching out to inactive Catholics is one of the biggest needs. There’s also a lot of material available to help a parish. But the task requires persistence, tenacity, gentle listening, and the personal touch. No program substitutes for any of these.

(Remember to reference this chapter devoted to goal number two (GMD 104-116) at the USCCB web page.)

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to GMD 113: Inactive Catholics

  1. Liam says:

    “Fallen-away”? That was a brief usage.

    LAPSED was the time-honored expression.

    Then there is the other time-honored response to the question: “What kind of Catholic are you?” “A bad Catholic.”

  2. Randolph Nichols says:

    My wife describes many of her faculty colleagues as “former” Catholics. There’s a troubling finality to that word choice.

    • Liam says:

      Well, canonically and theologically speaking, the Catholic Church itself rejects that approach and embraces a very strong (but not theoretically impossible to break out of) roach motel approach. FWIW.

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