Monday, March 23, 2009

Bishops and Culture in USA

Two items about Bishops commenting on the wider culture.

1 - Archbishop Chaput says that Catholic complacency is, in part, to blame for many of our cultural problems and I completely agree.

“November showed us that 40 years of American Catholic complacency and poor formation are bearing exactly the fruit we should have expected. Or to put it more discreetly, the November elections confirmed a trend, rather than created a new moment, in American culture.”

Noting that there was no question about President Barack Obama’s views on abortion “rights,” embryonic stem cell research and other “problematic issues,” he commented:

“Some Catholics in both political parties are deeply troubled by these issues. But too many Catholics just don’t really care. That’s the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn’t need to waste each other’s time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow ‘balanced out’ or excused by three other good social policies.”

Offering a sober evaluation of the state of American Catholicism, he added:

“We need to stop over-counting our numbers, our influence, our institutions and our resources, because they’re not real. We can’t talk about following St. Paul and converting our culture until we sober up and get honest about what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We need to stop lying to each other, to ourselves and to God by claiming to ‘personally oppose’ some homicidal evil -- but then allowing it to be legal at the same time.”

Commenting on society’s attitude towards Catholic beliefs, Archbishop Chaput said, “we have to make ourselves stupid to believe some of the things American Catholics are now expected to accept.”

“There’s nothing more empty-headed in a pluralist democracy than telling citizens to keep quiet about their beliefs. A healthy democracy requires exactly the opposite.”

I recommend you read the entire article.

2 - Our own Bishop Aymond is quoted in an article in USA Today about the recent survey numbers about religious following in the US. In the quote below he is referencing the resources that many parishes and dioceses have in the Northeast, where Catholic numbers are shrinking, but where they have many beautiful churches that aren't being used:

Bishop Gregory Aymond would be happy to have those resources in Austin. He's spiritually delighted and financially challenged as his Texas diocese has doubled in numbers with retirees, Mexican immigrants, students at five major universities and Californians moving in for high-tech jobs.

"And demographers expect it to double again in the next 10 to 12 years," he says.

1 comment:

tour86rocker said...

Chaput is so great. He's knocked it out of the park again: toxic complacency emasculates the witness of the Catholic faith. It renders it far less effective. Marcel, what percentage of graduated students have you said abandon the faith once they don't have peers like those at St. Mary's anymore?

A thousand more like Chaput, please. Fr. Benedict Groeschel said in "Exposing the Real Church Scandal" that America should have a primate, an American bishop with authority over the others (but under the Pope), a proposal that was many potential drawbacks. I don't want a primate unless it's Chaput or one of the others of his caliber (Thank God more and more make themselves known by the month).

While Catholicism jives more with subsidiarity, a lot of good could be done with a centralized authority here IF he's orthodox. I would love it so much; it would be second only to the joy of receiving Benedict XVI as Pope. Ah, one can dream. Anyway.

Chaput said, “We need to stop over-counting our numbers, our influence, our institutions and our resources, because they’re not real. We can’t talk about following St. Paul and converting our culture until we sober up and get honest about what we’ve allowed ourselves to become."

Is this a touch of despair, though? I know Chaput's not one to give up...but what's the plan? How do we help?

And what would it mean to CORRECTLY count our numbers, if we've previously been doing it "incorrectly"? Yeah, there are people who haven't been practicing for a long time. We're not going to subtract them from our internal census as if they aren't Catholics in perpetuity by virtue of their baptism, are we? We're not going to actively drive people out who DO attend Mass, are we?