Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Church, state, and society

His Excellency, Archbishop John Favalora of Miami, writes a very wise pastoral letter to his people about the role of the church in society as it pertains to elections, namely that it is not the role of the church to tell you for whom to vote, or vote against. He tells his beloved people: "Your duty as Catholics is to listen to [the Church's] teachings before making rational, informed, conscientious decisions regarding whom or what to vote for".

This comes in the wake of the Holy Father's Elysee address on church/state relations. More to follow when the full text becomes available. Thanks to Rocco, over at Whispers, for both items.

Deacon Greg gives us a look at The Church through the eyes of a young French priest:

"Even if French people don’t go to church as often as they used to, the Catholic Church still has a reason to be, he says. 'The Church responds to three essential demands: to be listened to, to be loved and to be comforted. That’s what makes the reality of Christ, not some theory.' According to Father Cornudet, the proportion of French people – practicing catholic or not – who are attached to the Church’s values is rising, even if they don’t agree with everything.

"As a result, the number of Catholics who go to Sunday mass has dropped significantly, even among those who call themselves practicing Catholics. According to an August 2006 La Croix-Ifop poll, 65% of French people declared themselves Catholics but less than 5% of them said they went to mass.

"'Our society has turned faith into a private matter,' concludes Father Cornudet.
I find Fr. Cornudet's response to the reality in his country a very mature Christian response. Indeed, Christ's reality is "not some theory". While we might lament faith becoming a private matter, and rightly so, we also have to lament that too often, even now, the Catholic Church expends a lot of energy, too much in my humble opinion, trying to keep institutions afloat that have long since lost their sense of purpose and mission and do not contribute very much, if anything at all, to the Spirit-led reality of Christ the church is called to be. Hence, we contribute to the privatization and highly personal faith that sees essential things, like Mass attendance, as non-essential. Nonetheless, we keep on. At the back of the mind of every Catholic who does not attend Mass regularly is the assumption, the belief, the axiom, that Mass will be available when and where they choose to go. While that assumption is both a presumption and rather audacious, it is true, but becoming less so in a lot of places.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comment about the presumption of the availability of the sacraments when and where we want them. Reminds me of a deacon up in Alaska I heard about. He can attend Mass only once a month because of lack of availability of the sacraments up there. He is busy ministering every week, doing what he can give the circumstances, starkly aware of the need for the Eucharist in the lives of people. There is no presumption with them.

    We tend to be "consumers" of the Church rather than members of the Body as Paul would have it. We look for what we believe we need and go get it. This seems so far from experiencing the Church (the assembly of believers) as the incarnate Jesus, to whom we want to give ourselves. I don't think church men and women have articulated that in a way that resonates with the person in the pew. Paul seems to have done a good job in his day.

    Having lived in Rome and around the Church there, it does seem that some of its institutions consume a lot of energy/resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

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