Skip to comments.Catholics Who Don't Think Like Catholics
Posted on 12/10/2003 4:48:49 AM PST by Aquinasfan
CATHOLICS WHO DON'T THINK LIKE CATHOLICS
Dear Friend of Catholic Answers:
In October ABC News and "The Washington Post" conducted a poll of Catholics in America. The results are not surprising: Catholics are not much better off, theologically and morally, than other Americans--and that means they are in pretty poor shape.
Here are the percentages of people who think the following practices are "acceptable." The first figure is for Catholics, the second for Americans in general.
1. Birth control using the pill or condoms: 88 percent, 94 percent
2. Abortion when the mother's life is NOT in danger: 30 percent, 39 percent
3. Premarital sexual relations: 67 percent, 67 percent
4. Homosexual relations: 48 percent, 45 percent
Given these responses, it's no wonder that 62 percent of Catholics say the Church is "out of touch with the views of Catholics in America today."
I would recast that to say, 62 percent of Catholics in America are out of touch with the faith they profess to believe. In other words, the problem is with Catholics, not with the Church.
A similar number, 64 percent, say the Church should change "policies to reflect the attitudes and lifestyles of Catholics today."
That means Catholics want to preach what they practice, which is a step down from practicing what one preaches. "Don't ask me to reform my life! Change the rules so I no longer am in violation of any. Hey, it's my self-esteem that's at stake here!"
On the issue of priestly celibacy, 67 percent say the requirement should be dropped, and a like number--64 percent--say women should be able to be ordained. Such figures show a deep confusion among Catholics. When two-thirds of them are so far off in their thinking, something is amiss.
The poll, which was conducted by telephone, apparently did not limit itself to practicing Catholics but counted as Catholic anyone who identified himself as one. Since only one-fourth of Catholics in the U.S. attend Mass regularly, the results necessarily were skewed.
But, still ... the results can't be considered encouraging. What they tell me is that the Church in this country has failed in its first task, which is instruction in the faith. If the folks in the pews don't know their religion, they can't practice it.
I suspect it's fair to say that most of today's priests have never--not even once--preached a homily in which they forcefully explained why contraception is a serious sin. I'll go further: I'll bet most priests never have mentioned contraception from the pulpit, even obliquely.
"The hungry sheep look up and are not fed," says Scripture. Well, in this case they are being fed, but with the same gruel fed to the rest of the populace. Why are Catholics at Mass given, in so many parishes, the Social Gospel but not gospel truths?
They should have no doubt that priestly celibacy makes good sense, but most priests have never told them that. Is it any wonder that laymen follow the lead of dissentient groups or non-Catholic opinion-makers? There are excellent reasons to maintain celibacy, but which priests share them from the pulpit? (For that matter, which priests even know them?)
As I said, the answers given in this poll are no surprise. Catholics are badly off, intellectually and morally, and they need help. They need instruction and correction. They need some holy hectoring.
Instead of trimming their remarks to pacify (or somnabulize) their congregations, bishops and priests need to go on the offensive. They need to be blunt about the necessity of subscribing to all Catholic teachings, particularly moral teachings, since assent is weakest there. They need to talk in black and white to get people's attention. They need to focus on the hard sayings instead of on the usual fluff.
And they need to lose congregants. They will know when they're saying what needs to be said when they see some people walk out of church.
I'm not talking about homilies that are harsh or rude and therefore alienating. I'm talking about homilies that are firm and true and challenging--and therefore alienating to those who are unwilling to repent and reform.
Truth really is a two-edged sword. It divides, and people find themselves on one side or another. But for too long, in too many parishes (probably the large majority of them), truth has come after convenience.
It is inconvenient to make a fuss, to anger anyone, to say "This is right, and this is wrong." It is much easier, or at least more comfortable, to be Fr. Nice Guy, serving up platitudes so everyone leaving Mass takes your hand and gushes, "That was a nice service, Father."
The parish I recently started attending used to have a pastor who was big on "ministry to gays and lesbians." You know the type: He had an off-campus condo and didn't live in the rectory. You can imagine what the Masses were like.
The new pastor moved into the rectory, sold the condo, and started celebrating Masses as they should be celebrated. I am told--this happened before I joined the parish--that most of the homosexuals left. In the last few months the congregation has been instructed and admonished from the pulpit, and today more people are attending Mass than had attended under the old regime.
Of course, changes come slowly. You can't reform people overnight. You have to show them that much of what they hold is false or pernicious or just plain silly, and you have to supply true and useful and sensible alternatives. A few people catch on right away, but for most it's a slow process. They have become accustomed to whatever they have believed and however they have lived, and they fear change, even change for the better.
The change occurring in my newly adopted parish can occur in any parish. It comes down to will. Do our priests and bishops have the will to instruct and admonish (including the will to instruct and admonish one another)? Frankly, I don't know.
Until next time,
Amen, Amen, Amen! After 16 years of "Catholic" education I was ill prepared to understand, explain or defend the faith. This is, of course, a failure on several fronts: the Church failed to instruct, my parents failed to instruct and I failed to take the initiative to investigate a faith I claimed to hold.
How many have we lost to ignorance in exchange for those gained from adopting un, non, and even anti-Catholic practices.
Some of our shepherds are feeding the flock the Word and others are feeding the flock their word.
Me too. I spent my twenties trying to undo the damage that had been done in the previous 12 years of public schooling, CCD, and 4 years of college.
Yes. I know very few Catholics who accept the Church's teaching on birth control. Many active Catholics in our parish accept cohabitation and believe that someday women will be ordained. And about half don't seem to have a problem with voting for candidates who support abortion or homosexual marriage.
Which is what?
Won't happen! And those good priests who do deliver the truth are, themselves, kicked out of their own parishes. I'm referring to Father Paul Weinberger in Dallas, TX.
Catholic Ping - let me know if you want on/off this list
I suspect the answers would be better, but not a whole lot better, I fear.
I know many daily Mass goers who support "a woman's choice", the gay lifestyle, priestesses. Upon reflection, that would be the majority of daily Mass goers. Codicil - I live in Massachusetts.