Why No One Comes to Church on Sunday
Great blog from Fr. Dwight Longnecker yesterday who completely understands the issues we are facing (in the West at least):
"No wonder people have stopped going to church because if your religion is no more than Moralistic Therapeutic Deism why bother dragging yourself off to a dreary building early on a Sunday morning to sing awful hymns with awful people and listen to some guy or gal read from a 2000 year old book and then drone on about being a nicer person peace and justice all are welcome gather them in and songs about eagles.According to Anglican Blogger Archbishop Cranmer, (and the 2015 British Election Study) there is no decline in the Catholic Church in this country, numbers are steady due to immigration, whereas Anglicanism will soon be obsolete unless there are some rapid changes. See here.
You get my point.
People are dropping out of church because it simply doesn’t make sense."
What I don't understand is why the majority of the Catholic hierarchy, and so many of our priests and people don't see this? Is it just the end of the period of power for "the children of the sixties' revolution"? I guess when you have put all your money on a horse that comes in last, there is a real temptation to avoid reality for as long as possible?
For reasons for the malaise, one's mind has to run to recent events where the faithlessness of prelates has been exposed, and wonder if the lack of urgency and desire in preaching the Gospel has anything to do with a lack of commitment to its contents? A desire to mitigate, to compromise? Even if this is the case, we need to remember the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
How do we get people back? My experience is that the truth & power of the Gospel is transformative and changes lives in a real way! People are still just as drawn to its message as they ever were, we have just stopped preaching it. We are scared of it. We don't understand it anymore. We have questions about ecumenism as a result of the talk of the Sixties. We worry about our children who have fallen away from the faith and are not prepared to contemplate that they might have excluded themselves from heaven. We don't want to think about judgement, or that *anyone* might consign themselves to hell. Because we have so many questions, we choose apostasy. Our questions are articulated by people like Chistopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, which gives us confidence about our concerns, but are we listening to the profound answers given? Many conversations I have had with people who question the faith start with them quoting New Atheism, but when I ask if they have read Ratzinger, or Hahn, or Nichols, or Crean, or McGrath, they scratch their heads. How can we have an honest debate if we do not consider both sides of the argument?
The Catholic faith used to be a generational/ socio-cultural faith, passed down through the family. We preached life and had big families, so the faith grew. Things have changed and birth control is only a small part of the issue. Across the world we see many Catholic "businessists" as Pope Francis calls them. Involved in the hierarchical machinations for their own glory or ego. Many (most?) Catholic schools do not produce anything recognisable as a Catholic mentality, especially in terms of Government and Economics. We are producing business people and politicians not worthy of the name Catholic Faithfull. These problems are compounded by an over-stretched prelature whose concerns seem often to be with appeasing the establishment rather than over-turning the money-lender's tables. We know where and how vocations thrive and some inspirational initiatives are in
Now look at what Pope Francis is doing on an international level, broadening out the influences. Calling us back to personal encounter with Jesus Christ. We need to be re-evangelised, to understand again the importance of preaching the Gospel. Even within the Clergy there is a need for re-orientation, from domination to service centered advocacy. From closed-rank beaurocracy, to open collaborative ministry and a determination to foster best practice. Can we seriously rely on one man in each diocese for all the answers? Where do we go when this is broken, as it was in Arundle & Brighton? We need to encourage our priests to take seriously their responsibility and not be afraid: (as St. Paul says, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16)).