I dedicated this blog to bringing to you some Catholic Church facts, and some Catholic Church opinions informed by those facts. I consider my opinions to represent those of the Church in the pews. I am a fully imbued member of the Catholic Church and I am not an ordained minister or a paid member of any parish faculty. This is just me talking to you as a lay faithful. Not everybody in the pews will hold my opinions, but they will resonate with a portion of lay faithful.
Once you read the facts you can derive your own opinions, and they may differ from mine. I do the same on Sunday during the woeful homilies we are forced to endure by getting the readings ahead of Mass and developing my own homily. 99 times out of 100 my homilies are better. This is an example of my opinion. If you heard my homilies you may look at me askance, but that is okay.
Let me provide for you a fact. The Pope said recently, and you can open the link I provide to view this for yourself, that the Church needs the contribution of all its members. He specifically pointed to the lay faithful, that would be folks like me, to help carry out it’s mission. The Pope also recently said that we should keep our eyes fixed on God and prayed for solidarity in the service of our neighbors.
Finally, the Pope ending with words of encouragement, said to those present the Church needed the contribution of all its members, especially the lay faithful, in order to carry out its’ mission.
– Lydia O’Kane’s report
During his address the Holy Father also underlined the fact that because our earthly existence is marked by impermanence our life should be lived as a “pilgrimage” and we should keep our eyes fixed on the ultimate goal, the God who created us.
“In today’s Gospel, the parable of the talents, Jesus invites us to reflect with gratitude on the gifts we have received and to use them wisely for the growth of God’s Kingdom. May his words summon us to an ever deeper conversion of mind and heart, and a more effective solidarity in the service of all our brothers and sisters. “
– Lydia O’Kane’s report
These are not my words, surfers, they belong to the Pope and are in proper context. Let me provide for you another fact. The USCCB just finished Fall Plenary Sessions where they laid out the plans for the Church in the USA. Specific items of interest are; to face the challenge of reclaiming the truth, credibility, and beauty of the Church. In the Catechism the Church is defined as the people of God. That would be folks like me. There is a challenge to re-engage with people who have fallen away from the Church and the practice of the faith. Also, two observations were made that we need to embrace the sinful members of the Church and resist the desire to make the Curch just some organizational system that requires maintenance.
In his opening address, Archbishop Dolan stated that the bishops “most pressing pastoral challenge today is to reclaim that truth and restore the credibility, the beauty of the Church”, to re-engage with people who have fallen away from the Church and practise of the faith.
He stated “they drift from her, get mad at the Church, grow lax, join another, or just give it all up. If this does not cause us pastors to shudder, I do not know what will. The reasons are multiple and well-rehearsed, and we need to take them seriously”.
Archbishop Dolan went on to note: “Two simple observations might be timely as we as successors of the apostles embrace this urgent task of inviting our people and our world to see Jesus and His Church as one. First, we resist the temptation to approach the Church as merely a system of organizational energy and support that requires maintenance”.
The second he said regard’s the sinfulness of Church members which however, “reminds us precisely how much we need the Church. The sinfulness of her members is never an excuse, but a plea, to place ourselves at His wounded side on Calvary from which flows the sacramental life of the Church”.
In fact, the focus of the Autumn session is on internal Church matters, which has drawn the criticism of some mainstream media who expressed disappointment at the church leaders failure to put economic justice to the forefront.
– Emer McCarthy
I would like to sum up the facts that were just recently published by the Vatican and the USCCB.
1) Encourage the contribution of all Church members, especially the lay faithful.
2) Keep our eyes fixed on God and bring some solidarity to service to our neighbors.
3) Face the challenge of reclaiming truth, credibility, and beauty of the Church.
4) Re-engage with those people who have fallen away and no longer practicing the faith.
5) Avoid seeing the Church as a system needing maintenance
This is all fact and I expect Sunday sermons are filled with this important information. We are hot on the heels of these meetings and the information is fresh in the minds of the Bishops. Even if the Bishops are slow to get this info out to the parishes I have access to this information so there is no excuse for Church leaders not knowing the plans going forward.
With those facts in mind, now I will give you my informed opinion. Bishop Roger Foys of the Covington Diocese was clearly asleep during the meetings, or has no desire to embrace the urgent tasks laid out by the Pope and the USCCB. You can read the article regarding holding hands during the Our Father. This is an embarrasment, in my opinion, as it flies in the face of all the efforts outlined by the Bishops. How does this hand holding decree accomplish any of the tasks that are important to the future of the Church?
If it is not bad enough that Bishop Foys didn’t get the message, his decree has spawned more buzz about restoring the liturgy to some old practices that didn’t stick. That is why we don’t practice them today. If the old practices were any good people would have taken hold of them and continued to use them. Holding hands is a good example of an organic practice that the Church likes. That is why we do it. In my opinion if you want to find a way to bring people back to practicing the faith keep the hand holding and reprimand Bishop Foys for not staying on task.
Father Boyle has a blog posting on this hand holding decree where he stated “It is most encouraging to hear news from so many places that the liturgy is being restored to what was really intended by the Second Vatican Council.” Father Boyle should have been outraged that the Bishop was issuing decrees that directly countermanded the USCCB urgent tasks. Praising this move, by Bishop Foys, that will clearly send more faithful people away than bring people back is a terrible idea.
I have to say that there is a vocal group of lay faithful who are praising Bishop Foys. If you read the blog comments and message boards you will see almost no discussion of how bad this decree is for the future of the Church. Unfortunately, those people who have fallen away and need to be brought back don’t comment on these blogs. I can tell you that Bishop Foys is not bringing those people back to the Church.
Gut check time; if you feel that what Bishop Foys did was the right decision you need to ask yourself if you are part of the solution. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but the direction of the USCCB and the Pope are clear. We all need to get on board.