A number of thoughts went through my mind as I read this NY Times article about the Pope coming to America. One was sadness, not because I have any particular sympathy for the Catholic Church, but because of the sense of loss by some of the people involved. Quoting.....
“It’s frustrating because you start to see the bishop as the enemy, and it puts you where you’re conflicted,” said Leah Vassallo, a lawyer whose parish in Malaga, N.J., is among those to be closed. “Obviously you don’t want to give up your faith or go to a different religion, or not go to church at all. But it does disenfranchise you. We’re going to be a lot more hesitant before we give money to the church.”
“They’ve totally abandoned our community,” said Mr. Thiel, who is now president of United Parishes, a group that is fighting parish closings in Toledo. “They took the buildings, they took the money, and said, ‘You guys can go somewhere else.’ ”
You can tell that these people lost something that has meant a lot to them, even if it had been a fairy tale version of the Catholic Church, and that's sad.
I also got the urge to say "well, of course!" to this....
The number of priests ordained in 2007 fell to 456, less than half the number of new priests in 1965.
Becoming a priest is roughly as long and arduous a process as becoming a lawyer, doctor, or accountant, and those professions don't require the attendant personal sacrifices. Besides, what single young man (and ONLY single men, which is another problem) would want to join an organization with the ongoing problems of the priesthood?
These statements dropped my jaw a little.....
“These are really the loyal Catholics speaking out for change,” Mr. D’Antonio said. “They are the ones who have been the Eucharistic ministers, they went to Catholic parochial schools and colleges, got a terrific education, and now they want to change the church.”
As Catholics they are devoted to their church, but don’t necessarily agree with all of its decisions. As Americans, accustomed to life in a democracy, they think they have a right to say so.
Where did they get these ideas? If there's one thing the Catholic Church has always been clear about, it's that it is NOT a democracy. I'm inclined to think that this disconnect comes from the middle management (priests, bishops,etc) dancing around the fact that parishioners have no say in order to keep from losing even more people.
And finally, this......
“There are so many people that want to be active in this church, that want to know more about their faith, and now they’re so offended,” Mr. Thiel said. “I tell people all the time, ‘Don’t leave your church. It’s not the pope. It’s not the bishop. It’s your community.’ "
Sorry Mr. Thiel, but the Pope would strongly disagree with you, and that may be the biggest problem of all.