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.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.
"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.