December 17, 2017

Friends,

So the question is: why are there so many Catholics that do not choose to come to church on a regular basis (weekly)? I’m sure the best way to answer this question is to ask each of them what it is that has lead them to this decision. I don’t believe this is unique to the Catholic Church; I believe organized religion is not seen in the same way as it once was. In our case: for 83% of the Catholic population.

I’ve had many conversations over the years so I believe I can speak from experience. You can do your own homework, if you choose.

Our whole understanding of God has changed during our lifetime and the role of the Church in acquainting us with God’s presence and God’s will is not always appreciated. People (young and older) are no longer convinced that celebrating their faith in a community is a necessity or benefits them in any way. Spirituality (a personal relationship with God) has taken the place of religion (need to celebrate in a church).

For a lot of Catholics, the teaching of the Church in some areas of their life no longer has meaning. The recent synods on the family and all the issues that it faced made this very evident. Many of the issues that we saw as non-negotiable are now an every-day aspect of their lives and the lives of their friends. They question Catholic teaching on a lot of the moral issues that we never even spoke about. Some of our younger people do not want to identify with a Church that does not respect their choices. The sacraments that were the center of our lives, including baptism, Eucharist, and marriage, are no longer a given in many long-time Catholic families. If they have been away from Church, then when the traditional time comes to discuss these sacraments they don’t even enter into the conversation. Many young people and older have moved beyond the concept of a God who judges them on their relationship with the Church—their understanding of God has evolved and broadened beyond that relationship.

Some are angry and disappointed at the institutional Church for their cover-up and lack of accountability regarding sex abuse. Others are scandalized by the image they now have of the Church as one of the richest institutions in the world and again the lack of financial accountability.

The easy thing for those of us who go to Church is to say, “They are just lazy.” I don’t believe that, even when someone tells me that’s the reason. Because if something is a priority in your life you make time for it. So the question becomes why is it not a priority? Some of the reasons I have explained above. I’m not saying I agree/disagree with these responses or reactions, I’m just repeating what I hear.

Among older Catholics, you hear more about how they disagree with Church stance on various issues because the institution (pope, bishops) are either too liberal or too conservative. But that decision is based on the priorities a person has and believes the Church should have the same priorities.

By the way, I still go to Church, so don’t shoot the messenger.

Enjoy life!
Fr. Coyne

 

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