February 20-21, 2016

     As you know I am a great supporter of Pope Francis. I believe he has given hope to many Catholics and people of other religions because of his understanding of God. He has opened avenues and crossed bridges that have not been traversed in quite a while. His willingness to address issues and face subjects that had not been open for discussion during recent years has been refreshing. Many faithful Catholics fear that his openness may lead to change in Church teaching which has been previously seen as written in stone. Their fears have not been realized. His motivation is compassion and empathy, modeled after the exchange of Christ in the gospels. Initially, I hoped and believed that Pope Francis’ message would rekindle the faith in younger Catholics and that his presence and acceptance would bring many back to celebrating their faith with our parish communities. I am sure a few have been touched by the Pope’s openness and have come back to Church, but the great majority (who may still be faith-filled Catholics) have not returned. I think of the energy, enthusiasm and gifts that the institutional Church is losing out on. I guess there are Catholics who celebrate regularly at Church by choice, and those who don’t. I love the Church so I would love to see them return to enhance our community and I believe enhance their lives as well.
     I am going to compare the above phenomenon with the 2016 presidential election. Obviously, just as many Catholics do not attend Church, so there are many Americans who don’t vote. Sometimes candidates arise who convince me that their message will appeal to those who are disenfranchised or alienated from the election process. Presently, there seems to be a lot of talk about young people coming back to the polls because of certain candidates and their message, but I don’t see it happening. I am coming to the conclusion that there are those who vote and those who don’t vote. There may be a few who register because of some hopeful message, but those numbers are minimal.
     There is a lesson here, but I am not sure what it is. However I do know that the world is changing drastically and the needs of people (especially the young) are different from my understanding of their needs.
     Organized religion and government do not appear to be the priority they were when I grew up. We would never miss Mass or the opportunity to vote. I love the passion that is present in so many of our young people (e.g. World Youth Day or the Occupy Movement) but the numbers involved are so minimal that the Church and the country hardly notice, and a lasting impact is not left.
     Both the Catholic Church and the United States are presently deeply affected and will be shaped in the future by these same younger generations. I can honestly say I cannot imagine where either is going. That unknown can lead us to fear or to hope.

Enjoy Life!  
Fr. Coyne


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